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Just watched Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" now that it's for rent online. He gets the look of a 70s spaghetti western spot-on, and the opening credits are pitch-perfect for the mood - I saw a few of these in the cinema back in the 70s so I can tell :-)

Incredibly violent, going up to Itchy and Scratchy levels of mayhem. Also, I see the problem about this being the "Great White Saviour" trope all over again. Plus, there is usually some kind of redemption arc going on in a Tarantino film (hush, no, I'm serious) but the only thing approaching that is for the character of Dr. King Schultz, which - in a film supposed to be about a black protagonist - is problematic again. We know by the timeline that the Civil War is two years down the line, so what Django's part in that or how it will affect him is going to be interesting. I realise that the theme of this film is purely about revenge so yeah.

Anyway! Things at random: Don Johnson's suit. It is gorgeous. I coveted that suit. Leonardo DiCaprio - I can't tell you if he was good, bad or indifferent. I can never judge his performance in any film because he looks the spitting image of my youngest brother (save for eye colour and being fairer in skin and hair tones usually) and you would not believe how distracting it is trying to watch an actor when in every scene where he appears, your brain is telling you "That's *name of baby brother*!"

Kind of hoping for a Director's Cut or Extended Edition because there are definitely a lot more stories in this film than we got to see, e.g. the woman tracker on the Candyland estate with the bandana and the prostitute(?) with the crutch in the first town Django and Schultz rode into and what is the story behind Brünnhilde having a rosary beads wrapped around her wrist when she is being flogged? Particularly as the man doing the flogging has pages of the Bible pinned all over him, carries a Bible, and seems to rev himself up for flogging slaves by reciting verses from it? A Protestant-Catholic dichotomy, or Tarantino just wholesale copying and recreating scenes down to the least detail from the aforementioned spaghetti westerns without caring about what may appear to be the meaning?

Would I recommend it? With caveats - you would want to be in the mood to watch it, don't expect a great movie (it's good, but it's not great), but if you want to see a spaghetti western remade with the bloodshed ramped up to eleven, then this is the film for you!
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Reading the weekly local paper, I note that a native of the town has won Irish web design awards in national competitions.

Two of them are as follows:

(1) "Most joyous to look at and splendid to use" from the Dot ie Net Visionary Awards run by the Irish Internet Association

(2) "The Most Beautiful Website in Ireland" from the Irish Web Awards

And what is this amazing site? What cool new-fangled product or service does it advertise? In 21st century, modern, hip, post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, what do the not-so-plain people of the Technorati and the design mavens find worthy of accolade?


We may be living in the future now, but we still like the good, old-fashioned hape o' spuds for the dinner. :-)
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A link to de nevvie's short story which he wrote for Hallowe'en (he's fifteen, so that excuses the florid prose. Actually, being a blood relation of mine explains the florid prose, never mind what age he is).

Yes, this is the kind of winsome little tale my family is inclined to tell.

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And lastly, something a bit less "gloomily brooding over the pint of stout in a shebeen while the rain lashes down and is that persistent cough perhaps the first signs of TB?". For all you cat-owners and cat-lovers:

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This seems to be the place I am even more grumpy and pessimistic than ordinary. I think perhaps I am slowly figuring out why.

Ireland has changed. Ireland has changed a lot. Socially, religiously, you name it. The way we went totally mad over our little taste of prosperity should have been enough of a demonstration (ah, the seven fat cattle of Pharaoh's dream and their fate should have been a warning for us, but we didn't want to even look for a Joseph to read the signs, never mind listen to any ill-omens).

I can read and understand the mindset of the characters in 19th century novels (and, to an extent, 18th century ones) with little to no difficulty because it was pretty much the mindset of Ireland up to my youth. The joke about Éamon de Valera (member of the revolutionary forces in the 1916 rebellion, elected as representative to the various governments of Ireland from 1917-1959, president of Ireland 1959-1973) was that he had dragged Ireland, kicking and screaming, forward into the 19th century.

From about 1980 onwards, that changed. Another joke about Ireland was that we were always about 20 years behind the times, so yes, the Sexual Revolution didn't really hit until the 80s. Now we have readily available contraception, we have divorce, there's a groundswell amongst certain politicians to bring in same-sex marriage (we already have a Civil Partnership and Cohabitiation Act, giving same-sex couples the status of civil partners and giving certain rights to cohabiting couples of whatever gender) and we're looking to be gearing up for yet another abortion referendum.

It's safe to say the mindset I grew up with is very much a relic of the past; my generation is likely the last to share it (and not all of us do). So does the future belong to the mid-Atlantic accented dwellers in dormitory towns commuting to the conurbations for their white-collar jobs? The children who grew up watching Australian soaps and American movies and now pronounce Z as "zee", not "zed" and will likely spell words in the American fashion because the software training them for their computer courses is all bought in from Microsoft's American sources? Those who are now two generations away from the bog, newly right-wing and fiscally conservative while being socially liberal, who would have voted Progressive Democrat for their low-tax, business-friendly policies while the PDs were still in existence, and are now the floating voters Labour is chasing while forgetting all about the rural voters and working-class urban voters, more or less accepting that Sinn Féin is mopping those up.

Maybe. Not so much. I don't know. We're all middle-class and aspirational now, aren't we? Except for those of us still living in the countryside, or small rural towns, or the less salubrious areas of those same conurbations (there may be a well-regarded University of Limerick now, but swap "Angela's Ashes" for yet more news about gangland shootings in Moyross and Southill, and not all that much has changed, has it?)

That's not what I'm complaining about, though. I argue about religion elsewhere and I don't discuss politics much anywhere (though, dear Americans, I am astounded by those of you I meet online who, while otherwise pleasant and even rational folk, immediately go into the defence of capitalism as the One True and Only Workable System, Divinely Ordained and Favoured for the Spread of Liberty, Democracy and Human Happiness, instead of being, you know, a human-created method of handling the buying and selling of stuff).

What I am uneasy about is the easy amnesia that, to be fair, is not just the hallmark of this generation but going back two or more centuries. We can assign blame for various reasons due to our history, but the effect has been to make us a nation constantly looking over our shoulder for the approval of others, never secure in ourselves. We have so few historic buildings compared to other countries, because largely the attitude here was "Knock down them oul' ruins, what use are they?" There's a very true and very cutting saying that "You can't eat scenery" (the most scenic areas of the country, in the West, are the ones with the worst farmland. The people who can afford to enjoy the scenery are the incomers, the townies who made their money elsewhere and are buying up the cottages as holiday homes, while the natives leave for the four airts of the world for work). But we have no memory, no foresight, no vision. Knock it down! Build something new and concrete like the big countries have!

And, my dear urban sophisticates, that applies to you just as much. The attitude of mockery to de Valera's
vision, where to get an easy laugh all that was needed was to refer to "comely maidens" or "dancing at the crossroads" - yes, it's problematic, yes, it's a political speech and the kind of "Apple pie and Mom" fantasy notion that is easily peddled for demagoguery, yes, it ignores the reality of rural life, yes, yes, yes to all the justified criticism.

But what is funny, tell me, about the idea of people being able to live in their own place? Of having work, of having a house, of having a family, in a place where they have roots and there is continuity of memory? Or is it less provincial to aspire to being a suburb of London, or to be
Spiritually we are probably a lot closer to Boston than Berlin? Well, we're back on the emigrant trail to Boston and Australia, and we're going cap in hand with begging bowl extended to Berlin for money to keep us afloat, so despite all the modernity we still haven't achieved that old man's romantic nonsense of being able to provide employment and support for ourselves.

Look,never mind that. What I want to say, what I really mean to say, is this - why are we not remembering the sea and the rocks and the streams and the trees? We have a language we can't speak and names we don't know the meaning of, so that the builders and developers of the private housing estates (more egregiously in the 80s and 90s, it is true) slapped on monikers like "Tuscany Downs"  (we don't even have downlands in this country; that's the South of England as in the White Cliffs of Dover) and "Windermere Villas" to sell them to the aspirational?  Anything was better than the local; better to live in No. 56, Linton Hall, than in plain, common old Ballymore or Cloonduff.

Ironically, the pendulum swung the other way and at the height of the boom, developers were slapping elements of Irish together to make fake names that had nothing to do with the locale or they were even meaningless.  We're so adept at being fakes, we even have to fake being indigenous.

Town names may be a different matter; the map may say the name of this street is Wolfe Tone Road while the locals still call it Fair Lane, but you can go back and find older maps for older names.  But who will remember the names of the sea-caves in the cliffs by the little cove where my father was born?  Even he only knew one or two names from the old people when he was a child.  Now all the families who were born there are gone, moved away or died out, and the constant erosion means that the road that was there in his time is fallen away, the road there now in my time is falling away, and in twenty years who will remember?

Well, that's why there are books of local history and topography,and God bless the amateur and the dilettante who like to muddle about in old churchyards and overgrown ruins.  But unless the curious and enthusiastic amateur finds the old people in time, their knowledge dies with them.

No, I'm not saying "Ah, the good old days."  In my case, the "good old days" were being born and reared in a council cottage without running water up to the age of eleven (we moved into town when I was fifteen), where winter meant cleaning the mildew off the winter coats that had been hanging in the wardrobe for six months (yes, damp cold rooms mean mildew grows on clothes) and my mother regularly handwashed clothes in a plastic tub and cooked meals over the fire.  This is an
image of the kinds of fireplaces I certainly remember well into the 1970s (and in some places, up to the 90s) in the older cottages, and my mother up to her 60s was well able to handle this kind of equipment for the old people she visited.

I have no romantic illusions about poverty or the ennobling effect of hardship on the spirit (see Kavanagh's The Great Hunger for another countryman's experience of the same).  What I am angry about is that we're throwing away true silver for fools' gold, and we don't even care. We don't even realise. 
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