Jul 16, 2013

Kevin Barry Reads You a Story

The weight of the pages. Sweat smudges obscuring the clever words. Mosquito bites distracting you from the flow. So hard to read in this heat. Not a bother: just sit back with your fancy, chilled passionfruit tea and enjoy Irish writer Kevin Barry doing all the grunt work for you. 

Jul 11, 2013

Thanks Be to Ted

Things have calmed a little on the work front for me so to prevent myself doing any of the cleaning, reorganizing, or painting projects I put off doing while I was up the walls, I spent yesterday looking for a job. Cleaning the decomposed vegetables from the fridge would have been more fun. I don't even want to read a rambling page-long list of duties, never mind write a clever and creative (but not too creative that it will scare off the square in HR) cover letter to convince someone that I would ever want to do all of them.
I came across one listing for a parenting writer for a pop-culture site and instead of feeling excited at the prospect of exploring my thoughts on the parallels of parenting newborns and teens, I felt sad that I would more likely be required to explore more ad-friendly content like "10 Ways Your Kids Can Dress Like Suri," "Keeping Up With North West," and "Dissecting the Contents of a Royal Diaper."
I sound jaded. I am jaded. Ugh, I hate being jaded. 

So instead of applying for jobs I  went to the dermatologist and got a biopsy of a mole. Going to a dermatologist after a week in the sunny Bahamas is like going to yoga after a curry. Double downer. 

In desperate need of guidance and a pick-me-up before I lost my entire week to despair, I turned to Father Ted.

I wanted to get myself the Holy Trilogy boxed set of Father Ted episodes but it's going for $100 on Amazon (careful now!). While my brother is sourcing me less holy copies I am taking comfort in YouTube clips and the sage words and style of Irish T-Shirt company, Ted's Tees.

"Down With This Sort of Thing"
From the episode where the controversial movie ‘The Passion of St. Tibulus’—which is banned by the Pope—is being shown on Craggy Island. Bishop Brennan asks Father Ted and Dougal to get the film withdrawn and as a result of their protest, it becomes the most successful film in the cinema’s history.

Note: This was my catchphrase for an entire year in college. I think it's time to resuscitate it.
"Nuns! Nuns! Reverse! Reverse!"
From the episode where Novelist Polly Clarke, author of the steamy ‘Bejewelled with Kisses’, comes to stay on the Island and Ted mistakenly believes she has fallen for him.

"Who's a Bit of a Moaning Michael?"
Ted, Dougal and Jack head off on their summer holidays to Father O'Rourke's caravan in Kilkenny. Unfortunately, a run-in with some naked occupants of the caravan park gets the holymen's holiday off to a sticky start. The situation deteriorates further when they discover Father Noel Furlong and his St Luke's Youth Group have moved into their caravan and are in the middle of a rendition of Ebony and Ivory. Just how many cover versions of Waterboys songs can they take before they give up the ghost and head for home...

Dreams Vs Reality
Ted gets the chance to appear on ‘Faith of our Fathers’, the prestigious Eireann telly show. Could this be the opportunity for him to find television stardom and escape from Craggy Island?
"Tom (wearing an "I Shot JR" T-shirt): Father?
Father Ted: Yes, Tom?
Tom: I've killed a man.
Father Ted: (nonchalantly) Did you, Tom? I'll have to talk to you about that later. I'm going to do an interview for the television!"

These shirts are a hilarious alternative to typical St. Paddy's attire, cool gifts, and an excellent conversation starter. Will a Father Jack Pop-Art tee help me find the right next job or a Mrs. Doyle Pop-Art tee get me cleaning like the housekeeper from Hell? Not a prayer, but they will get my head where I want it to be ... on Craggy Island. Up with this sort of thing!

Need a pick-me-up for your wardrobe and mood? Get happy/kitted out at TedsTees.com

Jul 9, 2013

A Little Light Reading

I would say that Summer is in full swing in New York City but that sounds way too energetic. Summer is in slow, heavy swing. It's hot. Hazy. Sweaty. Lazy. Your skirt sticks to your arse when you stand up. The stink of early morning garbage trucks sticks to the pavement all day. There's little grace in this month named for Julius Caesar. Maybe, it should have been named for Brutus.

With all my gallivanting, I'm a little behind on my summer reading this year. So far, I've only managed Colum McCann's TransAtlantic, which I would say I enjoyed more than I loved (but would still recommend), but I plan to up the reading ante by seeking shade under a pile of new Irish reads for the rest of this month ...

The Fields by Kevin Maher
I just started Kevin Maher's debut novel, The Fields, and much as I hate when a reviewer says exactly what I'm thinking (but better, and before I think it), I agree with the Guardian's review that "This must be the most enjoyable Irish novel since Skippy Dies." It's sharp, funny, smart, and filled with Mid-80s references (Bronski Beat!) that speak to my childhood. I'm a couple of chapters in and I can already tell that this one will outlast any other summer flings. Excited to discover a new favorite Irish writer.
Bonus read: check out British GQ's interview with Maher where he talks similarities between himself and protagonist Jim Finnegan.
Buy: The Fields: A Novel

The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce
Another debut novel and—by all accounts—another Irish writer to get excited about. Niamh Boyce's The Herbalist is set in 1930s Ireland and centers around the lives of a group of Irish women and the arrival of an exotic stranger—the Herbalist—who sets up a stall in their small Irish town. The Irish Times describes it as "a hugely impressive and wonderfully assured first novel" and "the most entertaining yet substantial historical novel I've read since Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea."
Buy: The Herbalist is not yet available on this side of the Atlantic. Fortunately, they have machines now that fly in the sky over the Atlantic (as documented in   Colum McCann's TransAtlantic) to take a book from Amazon.uk to Brooklyn.

Town and Country: New Irish Short Stories
The short story is enjoying a long moment in the spotlight right now and, coincidentally, right now—Summer—is the perfect time to  dip into a collection of new short stories. If you want to get a feel for the movers and shakers on today's Irish writing scene, check out Town and Country's fourth collection of Irish short stories, edited by Kevin Barry and featuring contributions from Irish writers like Paul Murray, Nuala Ní Chonchúir,  Pat McCabe, Mary Costello, Colin Barrett, and Lisa McInerney.
Buy: Another TransAtlantic courier required: Amazon.co.uk

City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
Speaking of Kevin Barry, I have yet to read City of Bohane – winner of the 2013 Impac Award. "Forty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises, and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin’ that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say Hartnett’s old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight."
Buy: City of Bohane: A Novel