Feb 26, 2013

Irish T-Shirts: T-léine.ie

Pantone may have declared green the color of the year for 2013, but there are plenty of reasons to not don this of-the-moment color on St. Patrick's Day, including the fact that you look better in blue. Go against the grain (and the green) and wear a shirt that is actually made in Ireland and features a little Irish language. Now, that'll make everyone else in the office/parade really green!

The Cork-based T-léine.ie company was founded in 2012 out of a love and passion for the Irish language. Owner Pronsias saw Irish language T-shirts as an opportunity for people to share and wear their love for the Irish language. " For such a beautiful language, I believed the generic 'Póg mo thóin' type t-léine (you know the ones!) just didn't do it justice.
I couldn't agree more.

Sure, you could ask someone to kiss your thoin or kiss you because you're Irish, but if you're looking for the real deal/a Paddy to grow old with, you might want to try a T-shirt that triggers an interesting conversation, like this "Tá Éire fíorálainn” shirt, designed to commemorate the recent first Tweet in Irish from space (by Canadian engineer Chris Hadfield).

 And if you must look like a cabbage in green, at least look like a savage cabbage:

Stalk them on Facebook 

Feb 23, 2013

Fetching Collars from Lakeside Leather

You probably haven't noticed that I have a dog. I never talk about him and rarely take pictures of him. I don't send him postcards when I travel. I don't get excited for him when I see a cat go through the backyard. I don't yell at the kids to be more sensitive to the dog's fear of gates, doors, balloons, and thunder. I don't call the cat a mean bitch (and make fun of her bad knees) when she hisses at the dog for walking past her. I do get confused with a less-sane woman in the neighborhood who can often be heard saying stuff like "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Charlie, can't you see that I am in a rush? How can you possibly have anything left in that fart of a bladder? Can we please get a move on?" Yes, her dog's name is Charlie, too. And she says fart all the time because it is almost as satisfying to fling off the tongue as other F-words. Anyway, she's definitely not me because I would never say please.
I would say pretty please.

So yeah, I have a dog. What can I say? He's cute in a Lady-and-the-Tramp way. Celebrated in dog-park circles for his good nature, speed, agility, and ball-thievery. He likes his steak medium rare. He has nice ears. His parents weren't married and he often overcompensates for his lack of a glossy-coat with flash accessories. Right now, he's rocking a very colorful collar and leash that I bought him when I was in Guatemala last month. (Can you name-drop a country?) It's a little too festive for the cold weather we have here in NY and and could be interpreted as trying too hard, like showing up to the dog park in heels. 

Yes, Charlie M. Finnegan needs a new collar and leash. Something refined, sophisticated, smart. Made in Ireland is a bonus – although it could spark some my-granny's-dog-is-from-Ireland convos at the dog park. Still, "Buy Irish" and all that.

Introducing Galway-based Lakeside Leather:

Refined? check. Sophisticated? check. Smart? check. Made in Ireland? Check! Yes, these slick-but-rugged collars and leashes are made in Galway, and even better, by a lake in Galway. They're also made with pride which is added value, regardless of where the products come from. Oh, and while we're at it, they're affordable, too. I know, you should get a dog already so you can shop Lakeside Leathers. Name your dog Beckett; just trust me.

"In these days of mass production, with most finished products technically perfect but lacking character, I take pride in producing individually hand crafted goods. I love seeing the leather slowly develop into an article of beauty, while remaining simple, practical and enduring." - Ger, Lakeside Leathers

Now the website doesn't paint much of a picture of Lakeside Leather's surroundings but you can imagine that the making of these proud and high-quality leashes and collars takes place in a thatched cottage by a lake, though there is a distinct possibility that they are indeed manufactured in an Industrial Estate four roundabouts outside the town (and the "lake" is from a yellowed postcard of Lake Bled in northwestern Slovenia, where a former worker vacationed ten years ago). I prefer the damp-cottage-by-the-lake scenario (with a token salty type wandering around the surrounding craggy fields with an optional cow thrown over his back), and so would my American dog. If I ever get around to actually contacting Irish makers for some profile-type pieces, I'll let you know what I can find out about Lakeside Leathers. I'll also let the owner of Lakeside Leathers know that they'd shift a lot of inventory if they slapped a few on some Irish wolfhounds and took a few photos.
Still, wolfhounds and thatched roofs aside, I'm loving the rich leather and obvious quality of these collars and leashes.

Also loving that I can order a leather belt, cuff and key loop to match.

Lakeside Leather's Etsy store

Feb 14, 2013

Head Over Heels

After many years of marriage, Walter and Madge have grown apart. They don't even bother to argue anymore, even though they can't agree which way is up—literally. Walter lives on the floor, and Madge lives on the ceiling; or if you ask Madge, it's Walter who lives on the ceiling ...

Head over heels for this Oscar-nominated stop-motion animated short film written and directed by Timothy Reckart and produced by (Irish producer) Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly. Happy Valentine's Day!


Feb 10, 2013

Watch this Space: The Pier

"The Pier" is an award winning Irish film that has played at over 30 International Film Festivals but still struggles to get distribution funds in order to show it on the big screen. Hopefully, its recently-funded Kickstarter campaign will change that. I plan to be first in line to watch it in a theater on this side of the Atlantic.

Larry McCarthy is a poor struggling fisherman who didn't have much but he had the love of a beautiful wife Rose and a young son Jack. His life was hard but he was content. However, his world was shattered when tragedy struck one night during a storm and Rose drowned. "The Pier" tells the story of Jack McCarthy's return to Ireland after 20 years in America to help his ailing father. It stars Gerard Hurley along with Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under, High Fidelity, The Haunting) and Karl Johnson (Hot Fuzz, The Illusionist) and was filmed on location in West Cork.

"In "The Pier," it was important to me to stay honest and show humble people bravely facing their lives. I wanted to honor the part of the world I come from - a place which is generally glossed over by a cloud of vapid clichés in Hollywood movies."--Gerard Hurley, The Pier Director/Writer/Actor

Feb 9, 2013

Weather Desk

And then it was February. 

Almost mid-February if, like me, you spend so much time worrying about stuff you need to get done next week that it is next week already. Has been for days. But you still pause when you write 2013. Because, at the same time as it is next week, it is also last year. Yeah, and you still hover over the wrong age box on questionnaires. Someone wiping the soup off your chin is not far off ...

Under the Weather
A doctor gave me a prescription for antibiotics yesterday. It felt dodgy because I wasn't feeling dodgy. I've had a nagging cold for like a week (which you now know means I've had a cold for weeks -- last week and next week and this week, too) and I finally dragged my arse to the doctor's office where, after an hour wondering why I was waiting for an hour when there was no one in front of me, I realized that I was feeling fine. So I started to cough and blow my nose loudly as if to kickstart the cold engine. It also kickstarted a memory of the time Dr. Bugler came to our house when I was small and my mother walloped me on the back of the neck when the doctor wasn't looking and whispered wildly: "Cough a bit, would you, cough!" Apparently, I was a little too healthy looking and my mother feared the doctor would feel he'd wasted a trip coming, and worse, that he'd think my mother was soft for calling the doctor when I wasn't on my death bed. So I coughed and sputtered and went rapidly downhill like a French factory worker forced to sell her teeth, hair and body to provide for her child.  I may have broken into song. Anyway, I've still got it. Just wish I also still had a doctor who makes house calls. 

Literally Under the Weather
We're nesting in the trail of a blizzard here in New York. I love the word "blizzard." It suggests special effects and sensational headlines. I love all the cancellations (in-laws, soccer games, and bathroom-cleaning) dramatic weather brings. Especially when it also brings hot chocolate, movie marathons, reading time, fleecy pjs, and time to catch up on all the work you didn't do all week while you were waiting to feel well enough to go to the doctor and fake feeling unwell. 

Last night I watched some old Burt Lancaster Westerns and the first episode of Breaking Bad. Today I will work for a while, curse my way down a snowy hill on a piece of aerodynamic plastic, (hopefully) finally watch a few episodes of the Irish show Love/Hate that my brother gave to me at Christmas, and then try and get myself a bit organized for the week ahead. 

Here's to slowing down February.