Sunday, February 28, 2010

Friday night we went to see a friend of Mark's band upstairs at J.J. Smyth's. It was great to finally meet one of Mark's childhood friends! Dave was a very accomplished guitarist, and we got to drink Erdinger on tap, so that was an added bonus. I took a photo, but it didn't come out so great.

Yesterday we walked into town, and stopped by the Temple Bar Food Market for a snack. The mexican food stand's burritos have potatoes in them, which I think is pretty odd, so we got a couple of Tostadas, which was a nice little nibble. The people at the mexican stand are also very nice, which helps.

I have to admit that I can't really stand Temple Bar as a rule. I guess it's sort of like Fanieul Hall in Boston, I guess -- nice to walk around once in a while, but mostly annoying.

But then we headed over to the Irish Film Institute (IFI) because we had tickets to see three short films by Kenneth Anger and a question/answer session with the man himself. The program was "Invocation of my Demon Brother," "Rabbit's Moon," and "Lucifer Rising." I have to admit that I felt a little hypnotized by the first two films (read: dozed off a couple times), but I really enjoyed "Lucifer Rising," especially the costumes! During the question/answer session, I tried to take some photos, but they came out pretty crap! I need a new camera so bad it's not even funny...
Keep in mind that he is 83 years old...

He told the most amazing story, which I so wish I had captured on film. Apparently, the original star of Lucifer Rising, Bobby Beausoleil, said he was going to buy some new amps for his band, but it turned out that the big packages he bought were bricks of marijuana. Anger told him he couldn't keep it at his place (Beausoleil was underage at the time), so he broke into Anger's cutting room and stole all the footage of himself that he could find. Then Beausoleil and Charles Manson (!!!) got together and tried to blackmail Anger into paying 10,000 dollars to get the footage back. When he wouldn't pay up, they buried it in the dessert, so Anger re-made the film. Bobby later went to prison, where remarkably he kept in touch with Kenneth Anger, who said that he was much easier to stay friends with once he was in prison. haha!

I caught a couple of short videos of him answering some of the questions. This will really only be of interest to Kenneth Anger fans, I suppose:
Video 1
Video 2

Watching the films, I could immediately see how influential his work has been on other people, and, most surprisingly, I think The Mighty Boosh is totally influence by him!!

After the films, Mark went home and I met a couple of other American ex-pat ladies for dinner. I was pretty overjoyed when one of them suggested we eat at Juice. I couldn't help but order the Mushroom Wellington, and of course it was fantastic. My first thought for our after-dinner pint was to go to Anseo, but when we walked in, the music was just a little too loud, so not sure of where to go on a Saturday night, we settled on Flannery's. The place is a bit like walking into a barn, and it's quite rustic. When we sat down, there were ladies in weird outfits with feather tails passing out shots of Southern Comfort and lime on the rocks. I don't really like SoCo (too sweet), but it was free, so I said sure, and actually on the rocks with lime, it's not bad at all! But then as it got a little later, more and more people were stumbling in and the music was getting louder and louder, so we high tailed it out of there after one drink.

I said good-bye to my new friends, and then met Mark at the new Fibbers Rock Bar on Ormond Quay. Thankfully, the new Fibbers smells a whole lot better than the old one (which is still in business on Parnell St.). It wasn't too crowded, and it's close enough from our house that the walk back wasn't so unpleasant.

Today we walked over to the Hugh Lane Gallery for the Francis Bacon exhibit. We managed to tag along on a guided tour, which was very informative and made me think about the exhibit in a way I never otherwise would have. People have told me that I should really visit the Hugh Lane, but I never realized what a fantastic place it is. I will definitely go back again and often!

Friday, February 26, 2010

So it's nearly my birthday, so I thought I would make a completely gratuitous post about the presents you can buy for me. Ok, so most of my readers don't actually know me, but hey don't let that stop you! I'm a poor immigrant, after all. I guess I just feel like daydreaming today!

First, this backpack. My chiropractor told me months ago that I needed to ditch my messenger bag, but I'm very picky and the selection here is crap, so I haven't gotten one. After much hemming and hawing, I've chosen this one, but of course it can't be had in all the land:

Secondly, I'd like an acoustic guitar. It'd be cool to have my own guitar here where I live, but actually I think that buying a new/used would actually be cheaper than shipping mine to me. I was thinking it could just be a tiny one, like a kids guitar even, just to strum sometimes.

Thirdly, I'd like a nice wool sweater. Something warm AND stylish. Like this or this or this or this or maybe this...the list is endless, really. Though a button-up cable knit hoodie would be pretty cool.

Fourthly, one of these foam rollers so I can roll out the muscles in my highs so my knees won't hurt so much.

Fifthly, tickets to the Alternative Miss Ireland Pageant, which as it happens, is on my birthday.

Sixthly, tickets to see Swan Lake at the new Grand Canal Theatre.

Seventhly, a food processor.

Eigthly, a slow cooker.

Ninethly, a bread maker.

Tenthly, some nice sensible boots, like these or these.

All this consumer talk has given me a headache. Go figure!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Well, it seems I have another DJ gig coming up! Boy, if only these were paying gigs, but nevertheless it's always GREAT FUN to DJ at Seomra Spraoi. And it's my friend Ariel's birthday, so we will have something to celebrate. She designed the poster, which I think is just lovely:

So if you're in Dublin, you should come and get yer dance on! B.Y.O.B.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Boy do I have exciting news. Ever since my arrival in Dublin, I've been on the hunt for a good burrito. Every place we tried had something funky about it -- no taste, potatoes (truly the biggest abomination to happen to the burrito. keep your spuds outta my tortilla!), huge and expensive, etc. The best burrito in town, in my opinion, was Cafe Azteca on Lord Edward Street (across from the Kinlay House).

Well, today on my way home from the Chiropractor, on the corner of Lower Baggot Street and Pembroke, I had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn't seeing things:

It said "Pablo Picante. Californian Burrito Bar." Thank my lucky stars I happened to have a few bucks on me, an empty stomach, and enough time on my hands to wait in the line that reached the door.

As a vegetarian, I am very particular about what's in my burrito. Obviously, no meat, which means that the thing has got to be good because there's no meat to hide behind. But I don't like grilled veggies in my burrito, either. Or sour cream. Or guacamole. I always get beans, rice, salsa, and cheese. And that's it. I like to order it the same way everywhere so I can accurately measure how good a place is. Yes, I am scientific about my burritos.

When I got up to counter to order, I immediately got good-natured guff for being an American wanting to "customize" the order (rather than order one of the specific burrito packages on the board), but the guy was very funny and friendly, and my burrito only cost 5.50e. While I was waiting, I took some photos of the cool decor in this tiny takeout joint:

I ate my burrito while walking down the street (one of the many wonderful things about burritos), and even though I got refried beans instead of the black beans I wanted, I actually LOVED the beans, and the spicy salsa was exactly the perfect level of hot. All in all, it was just as good if not better than any burrito I could get back home, which is saying a lot!

When I got home, I immediately looked them up and friended them on facebook. I hope they stick around for a long time. And maybe open up a shop a little closer to Stoneybatter!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Well I have no complaints about my medical card this week. Since last Sunday, I'd been pretty sick (a stomach bug that morphed into a flu/strep infection/bronchitis), and finally after two sleepless nights I couldn't take the throat pain anymore and I literally counted the minutes to when the doctor's office opened. But when I called (with a VERY hoarse voice), they said they didn't have an appointment until the next morning. I knew there was no way I could wait that long. I'd taken 800mg of ibuprofen and it had barely made a dent in the pain. So I said no thank you and hung up the phone and cried. I was so feverish and tired, I didn't know what to do! That's when Mark informed me that I should just go into the doctor's office anyways. "That's how it works!" he explained. So, considering the Emergency Room as a second option, I showered, dressed, and stumbled down the road to try my luck.

Can I just say that I love my new doctor's office? The staff isn't always overly friendly, but the doctors are fantastic. After less than an hour's wait, I was seen, given two prescriptions, and after just one dose of the antibiotic, was feeling human again. Now if I could just stop coughing, that'd be cool. But for now, I'm in bed watching episodes of the Mighty Boosh.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hey! Me again! I'm DJing again tonight at Seomra Spraoi. Hopefully people won't all leave after the bands play like the last time I DJed. So I thought I'd plug it on here in case anyone actually reads this thing.

The bands are
Attention Bebe

It's BYOB, and it's a suggested donation of 5 euro for unwaged, and 10 if you are a working person. A cheap night out for live music and fun dancy times!

Oh, and there'll be cake!

Location: Seomra Spraoi, 10 Belvidere Court, off Gardiner St. (

AND........while I'm at it I may as well tell you about the Valentine's Day gig happening next Saturday. The poster was designed by yours truly. I'm not DJing this one, but Princess 4Q is a definite crowd pleaser!
On Wednesday, I went with fellow RAGster Clare to the studios of Dublin Community Television (DCTV) to film an episode of a show called "Looking Left." RAG has previously done shows for DCTV -- you can see the show about DIY publishing HERE. The show has previously dealt with publications that have come out of lefty political movements, but this was the first show that dealt with publications that mix both the political and social, but aren't the product of a political party, namely the 70s Journal "Banshee" and RAG.

In preparation for the show, I downloaded pdf scans of issues of Banshee and was amazed at so many things. First of all, in 1976, when the issues came out, contraception was not legal in Ireland. Divorce was illegal. Women were being refused service in pubs (or else they weren't allowed to drink pints; they could only drink half pints at a time). And Ireland was the only country in the UN to refuse to ratify the equal pay for equal work law. And so much more...for example, if a woman had an affair with a man who wasn't her husband, her husband could sue the other man for compensation for lost services. I am not joking -- it actually happened! Women had almost zero rights and were literally the property of their husbands. Reading Banshee was both like stepping back in time, but also many of the articles reminded me of how much still needs to change here, and how behind the times it really is. And not just in Ireland, but in most of the world. Reading about the direct actions the Irish Women United took inspired me. I think they actually made a difference in the world they were living in.

Anyhoo -- it struck me how similar the subject matter was between Banshee and RAG. We also learned that their process of creating (editing, writing, publishing) the magazine was extremely similar to ours in its non-hierarchical, collaborative nature. So naturally, when given the chance to talk to Anne Speed, one of the founders of Banshee, Clare and I were pretty pumped.

The studio is in this big warehouse kind of building. Man it was cold in there. In fact I think it was colder in the studio than it was outside. I took a picture of the building:

Inside the actual studio, it was a little warmer, but they only can have the heater on between filming because of the noise it makes. So we started off toasty, and started shivering most of the way through. "Looking Left" is a panel show, so the host, Conor McCabe, started off by giving a historical context for Banshee, but the show was really run by Louise O'Reilly from SIPTU, who did a fantastic job keeping the conversation on task. Here's a photo I took of the set after we were finished filming:

All in all, we heard some compelling stories, both before and after the filming, and we made sure to get Anne Speed to agree to be interviewed for the next issue of RAG. Then she was kind enough to give me a lift home! I felt like I was driven home by Irish feminist royalty or something, haha. I will post the episode when it's available online! I hope they edit out all the parts where I sound like an idiot.
A week ago, Mark and I brought Uncle Billy and his friend Brian to see "Faith Healer," a play by Brian Friel, at The Gate Theatre. First we stopped into the Hop House on Parnell Street, which I think used to be the Shakespeare, and got a table next to the fire, which was good because I didn't wear sensible shoes and my feet were ready to fall off. It smelled strongly of food because it's a restaurant/bar, so I wouldn't go in there again for a drink, but if I wanted food and booze, I'd definitely go in again. I liked the atmosphere. Then we walked over to the Gate. Here's what it looks like:

It was our Christmas gift to both of them, and while we were buying the tickets we thought oh what the heck, and bought two for ourselves. Both Mark and Brian thought the crowd at the Gate was too pretentious (Brian called it "a place for poseurs."), but the theater itself is really nice. I didn't want to be snapping photos with so many people around, but I did get one shot of the ceiling. I guess that's a little strange, but I liked the chandelier!

I enjoyed the play well enough, but I think any play that consists entirely of monologues is always challenging for both the actors and the audience. Faith Healer consisted of four monologues from three different actors. And since it wasn't a comedy, it took some concentration. Luckily, the third act was very entertaining -- the guy stole the show, really -- and then the pieces of the puzzle start to come together towards the end, so you understand the vague bits from the beginning that had you wondering what the heck was going on. Still, I think old Uncle Billy may have fallen asleep.

I think we all enjoyed it well enough, but the next time I take a couple of old age pensioners to the theater, I'll probably make sure it's a comedy.

We had plans afterwards to go to a Haiti fundraiser at Seomra Spraoi, but first we stopped into my old favorite, the Welcome Inn for a drink. When I went into the bathroom, I noticed these new signs in the stalls, which made me laugh. Can you imagine this sign in a bar back home? haha. It's kind of horrifying in a first world way.

It says, "Please use water sparingly...If it's yellow keep it mellow; if it's brown flush it down."

Friday, February 5, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, Mark and I were walking along the quays towards town, when we passed by the art gallery Adifferentkettleoffishaltogether on Ormond Quay. Mark had heard something about it, so we stopped in for a look. There were several exhibitions inside the two-story space. Downstairs, exhibits such as "Padded Cell and Other Stories" dealt with institutionalized child abuse in Ireland. The one that had the greatest impact on me, personally, was a series of blown up reports and testimonies from a man who had been place in orphan homes and juvenile detention centers and jails for his entire life, getting sexually and physically abused every step of the way. There are statements from people whose jobs it was to take care of him, failing miserably in putting him somewhere where he'd be safe. It tracks the man from the age of seven or so all the way up to his 40s. It brought tears to my eyes.

Upstairs, the entire floor is scattered with bullet casings. There were several video installations, including Remnants of Our Past, by Farcry Productions. "Letting go of that which you most ardently desire" was essentially a documentary about a previous project where 200 people were brought in small groups to a secret location (secret until they went there) to see where hundreds of firearms were being put out of service. They were then asked not to speak to a single soul about their experience for at least three days. The house was eventually raided and the firearms discarded.

The exhibits are changing this month, and I look forward to seeing what adifferentkettleoffishaltogether has coming up next!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's like I'm going for a posting record today! But I just put the TV on for Katherine Lynch's new show, "Katherine Lynch's Single Ladies." She is my new fave. Holy crap her characters make me laugh. The only problem is that I think about 20% of her jokes probably would go right over the heads of anyone who had never lived in Ireland. But it's those jokes (when I get them) that I think are the funniest sometimes. And shockingly, it's on RTE. I know, right? A decent show on RTE.

Check her out:
My friend Clare and I are taking part in a DCTV (Dublin Community Television) program, and we get to speak with some of the people behind Banshee, a feminist magazine from the late 1970s. As research, I was given some copies of the magazine to read. Holy moly it's amazing how much has changed, yet how little. For example, contraception was illegal when Banshee was started in 1976. Ireland was the only country in the UN to refuse to ratify a law that would give women equal pay. And abortion...well, we still don't have legal abortion here. But I love the fighting, unified voice of the articles. Sometimes outrage prompts great action.
I won't go into the gory details, but today has been a strange day. The kind of day where you say to yourself, ok self, what the heck are you doing, and can you not make a plan to do it? I did create our new-for-2010 budget -- a fancy excel spreadsheet that essentially allocates every cent we have coming into the house for the next 14 months. Not the cheeriest task, but actually not the worst either. After doing a fair amount of daydreaming (aka looking at design blogs), and a fair amount of more daydreaming, at about 8:30pm I decided to email Grafton Academy, a fashion design school, to get an answer from them to an email I'd written way back in December regarding whether they'd give me the EU tuition rate (just over 5k euro) rather than the non-EU rate (9k euro). Much to my surprise, the phone rang a half hour later. I didn't recognize the number but I answered anyway. It was the very nice "Principal" of Grafton Academy herself, responding to my email.

We chatted for several minutes, and while I would go to her school in a heartbeat if I could pay for it, the long and the short of it is that there's pretty much zero chance I can get the EU rate without an EU passport. Well, I'm about 5 years away from an EU passport, so...

I explained my already extensive debt from previous schooling (68k for those keeping count), but alas and alack, it didn't prompt any exceptions to policy. While the tuition isn't expensive by American standards (I wish all my schooling had been that cheap!), I just can't rationalize going another 30k into debt, even if it could mean the difference between someday having a career in fashion and giving up on my dream.

These are the happiest times of my life. I don't regret moving to Ireland, and I do many, many things that make me happy here. I have family and friends, and every day brings something new and cool. But sometimes...sometimes it does feel a little like purgatory. I wonder if I'd have better luck going back into academia. Should I keep fashion as a hobby and get that elusive PhD?