Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Stars

Some weeks ago, after stepping out of a taxi on a typically frosty night, I noticed that the stars in the night sky were particularly visible. Since getting inside the warm house seemed a far more pressing need, I only took a quick glance as I darted for the door. I then stood on the front step waiting for Fin to unlock the door for far longer than I ought to have, given the frigid conditions.

Somewhat agitated, I spun around to see Fin, utterly motionless, mouth agape, as he stared up at the celestial bodies. I prompted him to get his ass in gear and let me inside, and after a brief pause, he responded by slowly and deliberately lifting his right arm, then outstretching his index finger towards the heavens.

“But... Ursa Major” he whined, still transfixed by the display.

Envious of his rather efficient beer-coat, and intrigued to experience stargazing with someone who at least sounds convincingly educated on the subject, I strolled away from my stoop, sidled up behind him, and aligned my eyes with his quavering finger, which had now hung suspended for at least half a minute.

Once my field of view no longer included the porch lights, street lamps and such, the universe suddenly snapped into focus, revealing thousands of twinkling lights, each vying for my attention, and I felt a sudden pang of shame for not truly appreciating them before.

As soon as I was in position behind him, Fin traced a line from point to point on the brightest stars, and again muttered those magical four syllables: “Ursa Major”, then drunkenly wandered towards the house.

I stood there in the yard for another few moments, staring up at the impossible immensity of what lay before me, feeling entirely inferior about my ignorance about what I was witnessing, yet elated by the childish awareness that I was looking billions of years into the past, able to contemplate the sheer insignificance of myself and yourself and ourselves on this incredible planet.

As I looked as far as I could into the deepest blacks of space, now blissfully unperturbed by the Arctic conditions, I came to a realisation. Whilst I once scoffed at his rather poorly-contextualised and ham-fistedly expressed effusion, I can proudly stand by Fin and admit what should be true of any man, woman or child with a sense of wonder:

“The stars, I love them”

Monday, January 26, 2009

Political-correctness is dumb

I should've mentioned this in a more timely fashion, but during the coverage of Obama's Inauguration, one of the reports on RTÉ talked about how "African Americans around the world..." were something or other. Y'see - I didn't hear the rest of the sentence because I was too distracted trying to figure out what he meant by 'African-Americans' - was he talking about the black diaspora of the United States who didn't get to be there? Did he say 'the world' when he meant 'the USA', or was he just avoiding the word 'black'? The worst part is that it was a pre-recorded segment, not a live-broadcast, so it wasn't even a mis-speak.

I'm sorry, but 'black' and 'African-American' are not synonymous terms - and if they are - they shouldn't be.

Spreading the link-love

It's occurred to me recently that I should put a bit more effort into this blog - not only by updating more regularly, but also by getting more involved with the blogging community, as I've generally only linked to blogs from friends of mine, or ridiculed some anonymous bastard.

I do lament that the timing of this announcement is sufficiently close to the start of the new year to have that 'resolution' odiousness about it, but I've been debating for a while as to what the best approach is - is it better to have a few substantial posts a month, or constant dribs and drabs? I'd like to get your feedback in the comments, as I certainly find the least interesting part of a blog to be the bits when the author is warbling about how great other people are...

... Except when those 'other people' are me, of course - Stephen Spillane's My Opinion is a blog that makes me feel genuinely ashamed, such is the man's prolific updating schedule (59 posts in 2009 already!). He's a technophile and a political-junkie (which seems to make up the bulk of his content), and gay, which discrimination-be-damned makes me more interested in what he has to say, because he represents a rather under-represented group. Twice now he's linked my way, but I've yet to reciprocate, because it wasn't how I rolled - guess it is now!

Damien Mulley's blog strikes me as being the epicentre of Irish blogging - (like I said, I've yet to officially join this subculture, I could be off somewhat) but after being impressed by a talk on blogging he gave at UCC, I approached him to dole out some more sage-like wisdom, and found him an agreeable chap. His blog also revolves around technical stuff and political punditry, which is right up my alley, and it also helps that he is one sharp mofo.

I'm not interested in local affairs, so it naturally follows that local papers hold little appeal, but John Hogan's Stuff & Nonsense column each week in the Limerick Leader makes for a cracking read - he has that pitch perfect irreverence that amuses me regardless of how little I know/care about the topic at hand. When the venerable Mr Hogan, possibly trying to fill a final paragraph, closed one such column by promoting his blog, I knew I couldn't not include it when I finally got around to acknowledging that mine isn't the only blog in the world.

Okay, by now, all four of my regular readers are probably a bit discombobulated - my inability to play with others probably means you're wondering why the blue-clicky-text doesn't lead to Fin's blog. Well, maybe it's best you go there now and see what he got up to when he went to see that black geezer getting inaugurated last week.

Best to start with baby-steps.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How to use your girlfriend

Having a girlfriend is great – it means that there is at least one person in the world contractually obligated to remember your birthday, it keeps your parents’ suspicions based on your childhood high-heel wearing proclivities at bay, and the automatic access to her friends means you don’t have to spend as much time looking at the unattractive mugs of the few acquaintances you managed to herd on your own.

Of course, the problem with having a girlfriend is – what exactly are you supposed to do with her? It seems that couples are expected to spend vast swaths of time together – sometimes entire weekends – but doing what? You can’t possibly expect to hold conversations with a mere woman for these durations – their intellects just aren’t designed for such encounters. Furthermore, whatever intersecting hobbies both parties have are incapable of soaking up such time spans, inevitably meaning that the hobby of one party must be focused on, breeding contempt, and thus ending the relationship.

This is a major concern of mine, as I do enjoy being able to stroll around urban centres with an attractive, pleasant-smelling member of the opposite sex adorning my arm, but it seems evidently clear that the genders seem designed to cross-paths for short bursts of reproduction, then retreat back to their respective non-overlapping circles upon realisation that the notion of a happy couple is an illusory one.

This may seem bleak, but do not fret, dear reader – for I have a not immodest beacon of hope to share with you on this very night. The realisation struck me last Thanksgiving, when it dawned on me that two years had effortlessly passed by, and I still considered my girlfriend to not only be tolerable company, but a person I actively desired to spend time with.

Before you dismiss such an outlandish claim as mere facetiousness on my part, I’d like to assure you that I was quite unnerved by this revelation, and retreated to my private quarters to reflect how such a situation could manifest itself.

The secret, dear reader, is education – but not of a scholarly kind. For the past twenty-four months, the time spent with the object of my affections has not fallen into the common pitfalls of most relationships – we have squandered little time on idle chit-chat, feigned no interest in one another’s hobbies, and not made a habit of attending social functions where dancing (and subsequent embarrassment) are destined to follow.

This ‘education’ I speak of? Cultural references. For two years now, we have striven to fill in the gaps in the other’s grasp of popular culture, making our way through the movies and TV-shows that we regretted passing on in a fashion that doesn’t feel like wasted time. Before this remarkable woman entered my life, I’d never have considered that I’d find time to watch the entire Star Wars saga in a fortnight, or have experienced the Indiana Jones stories before the latest film hit the cinemas and disappointed loyal fans everywhere.

Since embarking on this daunting quest for knowledge, the origins of innumerable catchphrases have revealed themselves, the once seemingly non-sequitur utterances from my friends have taken shape as rather useful cultural shorthand, and the joy that comes with knowing, rather that staring blankly, is attributed to the magnificent woman who gently coaxed me into watching an entire season of Heroes in four days.

The best part about this gruelling endeavour? When done in solitude, it is a sad reflection of a man with too much time on his hands; but when done with another, it’s the quintessence of quality time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You're all sick

Forgive the rather constipated updating schedule as of late - I just got back from a delightful fortnight in the States (yet again) and I jumped back into work before I had a chance to undo the slight jet lag that is currently serving as a convenient excuse for the annoyance you've felt every time you checked back here over the past fifteen days and seen no new content

Thinking about the lack of content got me thinking (duh) - what exactly brings people here? From time to time an odd Google keyword has come to my attention, but I thought it would be interesting to trawl through 700+ long list of search terms that have brought weary Internet wanderers to my humble blog and highlight the most noteworthy. The results may disturb you.


This one shouldn't really surprise anyone, but it is a little unnerving when people type in random details about me and find their way here:

Miscellaneous Dating Advice

I'm pretty good with the ladies - and the men! Google is only too aware of this, so when desperate souls seek advice with critical relationship issues that lesser men dare not tackle, they get sent my way:

Metaphysical Contemplation

Another predictable one - there are vast numbers of people who share in my childish habit of picking on the more feeble-minded of the faith-inclined (which is cruel the same way that tapping the side of an aquarium to upset defenseless goldfish is), so a few wise men inevitably follow the shining star to my site:


Face it - that's the very reason you're online right now - you've only got this page up to convince your roommate that you're not looking at dirty stuff, but I know better than that - heck, given the sheer volume of kinky keywords that crop up on the system, I'd be surprised if you didn't have a bestiality fetish:

And thus ends another educational insight into the wonders that the Internet throws up from time to time! I would write something more in depth about these if it didn't take me half a year to display them in an attractive format (and if it wasn't 3.30am), so do my work for me - are there any keywords particularly noteworthy in this pile that surprised/didn't surprise you?

Friday, January 02, 2009

I'm Gay for Tim Minchin

Yes, dear readers, I'm starting the new year of posting with a rather lazy video dump. But what a video dump!

Funny songs on YouTube aren't exactly hard to come by - so much so that I now automatically begrudge anybody who sends me a link along with a message exhorting me to spend three minutes of my life watching some guy make lazy rhymes about a topic that is easily ridiculed. When somebody recommended a video by Tim Minchin - a guy I had never heard about, it took until the recommender pushed the fact that the song espouses critical thinking before I clicked the link. I watched the video, enjoyed it immensely, but then forgot all about him.

A few days later, another video by Minchin surfaced on a blog I read regularly, which also made for an enjoyable few minutes, but it wasn't until I heard a beat poem by him just now that I decided I had to spread the good word of the talented Mr Minchin.

The first two videos are two-to-three minutes in length and good fun, but the third is the real gem - a 10 minute beat poem that should resonate with anybody who has ever fought the urge to yell 'codswallop' and challenging the inane notions of some new-age wackaloon that they've met whilst among polite company.

The audio quality is horrible, and (as anyone who has ever tried to get me to watch a crappy pirated DVD knows) I'm a huge snob for production values, but I still couldn't tear myself away from Minchin's effortless genius.

Please to enjoy:

"If you open your mind too much..."

I don't want to say much about this - only that it's very NSFW

Storm (this is the one I was raving about). Since Storm has been kicked off Youtube, I've instead embedded another enjoyable song, and since you've already put 10 minutes aside, why not give it a shot?