Monday, 30 March 2009

The failed vegetarian

Sorry I didn't warn you all but I was in Spain for the last week on my first ever press junket. For the uninitiated, a junket is a free holiday for members of the media provided by a tour operator or tourism board seeking publicity for that particular holiday destination. If you think it sounds like a bribe, you're not far off.

Anyways, I left on Tuesday morning with only one day left to go in my week-long vegetarian crusade. I was planning on having a big dirty beef burger with a side of pork chops drizzled in bacon fat for breakfast the next morning but until that time, I would be sticking steadfastly to my vegetarian guns.

But those bloody Spaniards had other plans and within a few hours of landing, I had blood on my hands. Beautiful, juicy, blood that had been squeezed from the inside of the tastiest steak ever known to my belly.

I know, I know, I'm a failure with as much self control as a puppy humping a letterbox but you should have seen the temptations I was faced with. The first meal served up to us had twelve courses. Twelve!

Not one of them were meat or fish free and they were all the kind of delicious that can make a man do strange and unreasonable things. Once I'd broken the seal, I figured I may as well be in for a penny as a pound and proceeded to eat a petting zoo-worth of meat.

I avoided my veg sponsor, Miriam, for a couple of days after my premature return to the carnivore pack but eventually had to tell her of my capitulation. She now says I'm going to have to take on the veg challenge again but this time for two weeks instead of one. I told her not to hold her breath.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Veggie watch. Day 6

Only one day to go and although I've been genuinely surprised by how tasty some of the veg dishes were over the last week, I can't wait to sink my teeth into a big juicy burger, sending all the blood-tainted juices dripping down along my chin.

While at home on the farm the other day, I unsettled a cow by staring at her for a little too long, allowing just a hint of drool to creep out of the corner of my mouth.

Jaysus Moocow I could have a lump taken off your arse and fried up in a pan with onions before you'd even know what had happened.

The last few days have been consumed with such temptations but in fairness has also consisted of a few pleasant culinary surprises.

Miriam and Caitlin, my two dedicated veggie friends, made me up a delicious vegetable curry over the weekend, consisting of samosas, cocunuts, broccoli and a wide variety of ingredients I had never even heard of. I mean what use could I ever have made of lentils in the past?

The greatest temptation of Hoge came on Saturday evening however. After celebrating the greatest day in Irish sport with wreckless abandon, I found myself in front of that lovely new kebab shop in Baker Place, conveniently located next to the Wicked Chicken.

Like I had done with the cow a few days previously, I made the kebab shop workers feel very uncomfortable indeed as I stood, as if in a trance, staring at that sexy rotating lump of greasy lamb, thinking about all the things I'd like to do to it.

Thankfully though, I renewed my devotion to temperance and decided on five bags of garlic mushrooms instead, but not before promising the lump of lamb I'd be back next week to make its acquaintance.

Friday, 20 March 2009

First blood drawn: Ireland 1 - Wales 0

A quick diversion from my adventures in vegetable-land if you don't mind.

On Wednesday of this week, I picked up a call to our newsroom from a Welsh chap named Dafydd. He is organising a mass piss-up in Wales called Celtfest and was hoping to attract Irish rugby supporters by getting some publicity for it through the Leader.

He said that he had already contacted two PR companies in Ireland but that they hadn't followed through on promises made and were no longer answering his calls. I took pity on him and explained that our County Edition was already finished but that I could try and get an article into the city edition while stressing that I couldn't guarantee anything.

Dafydd didn't bother saying thank you but did say that if I got an article in, he could guarantee one of my mates a ticket for the match itself. He was quite pushy and impolite but I put that down to his being messed about by the aforementioned PR companies. I would subsequently find out that this was just Dafydd's way.

Unfortunately, due to space constrictions, we were unable to put anything in the paper (although I did write and file an article) and yesterday evening I explained the situation to Dafydd in an e-mail. This morning I got a response from him that infuriated me into putting manners on the insufferable gimp.

I let the sequence of emails do the rest of the talking, starting with my explaining the situation to Dafydd yesterday evening and finishing with my final email back.

On 19 Mar 2009, at 15:57, John Hogan wrote:
Dafydd, unfortunately I was unable to get anything into this evening's paper. Apologies for that, I did write an article but because it's St PAtrick's weekend there wasn't enough space in the paper to put it in, due to the volume of photos from parades around the county. Apologies for that, hope the day is a success and that we're left with more reason to cheer at the end of the game than our Welsh counterparts!



From: Dafydd Evans Sent: 20 March 2009 01:14
To: John HoganSubject: Re:
forget it your the third irish person to let me down

On 20 Mar 2009, at 08:25, John Hogan wrote:
You've got some cheek. You contact me the day before we go to print asking for prominence in a regional paper for an article that has no regional significance whatsoever.
I went to the effort of writing you an article and due to extraordinary circumstances it doesn't get in. I was actually going to ask you if you wanted the article to be prominently placed on our website today but rest assured instead, I will delete the article and waste no time in telling the considerable number of people I know going about your petulance.
Don't dare contact this paper looking for publicity for any of your mass piss ups again you ungrateful little twit.

Too far? What do you think folks?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Veggie watch. Day 2

THIRTY seven hours without meat and counting.

Took another brave new step last night by making and eating my first ever vegetarian meal in the form of spinach lasagne.

I have to admit that as I went about making the dish using the recipe provided to be by Miriam, I felt a little intimidated.

Not just because I hadn't tasted half of the ingredients before but because my housemates - as keen a troop of carnivores as you could find - had copped to what I was doing and were asking if I was going to get a bikini wax and manicure after I'd finished my vegetarian dinner.

With no small amount of trepidation, I shoved the lasagne into the oven with the full belief that from there it would be going straight to the bin after I risked one taste.

Surprisingly though, it wasn't too bad. Obviously anyone who tries to convince you that spinach lasagne isn't the ugly sister to the meaty option needs locking up, but at the same time it wasn't the vomit-fest I had expected.

On a side note, Mapstew warned me a few days back that switching to a veg-only diet would result in my becoming even more gaseous than usual. You were on the money my friend. Expect scientists to find another hole in the ozone layer by the time this week is out.

Which brings me to another point. Vegetarians tend to be hug-the-earth, recycle-your-toiletpaper, environMENTALly-minded sorts but surely they realise that by maintaining such a diet, they are doing more harm than good to the atmosphere around them?

Not only are they letting off an above average level of gases from their own tank, but by not eating all those farting cows they are allowing even more toxic emissions to be released. Silly hippies.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Veggie watch. Day 1

Just had the first ever salad roll of my life. Not quite the emasculating experience I thought it would be. No female genitalia growth just yet.

At the same time, there was an undeniable sense of dissatisfaction and unfulfilment. A 'Godfather; Part 3' of a lunch if you will.

Where was the core, the heart, the kernel of the meal? It was the Stones without Jagger, the Beatles without Lennon, Take That without Robbie (you know they've never been the same since).

I've printed off an email full of recipes featuring such delights as Spinach and Rice Pie and Organic Lentil Stew, both of which I'm pretty sure were used to extort confessions from terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay.

If I survive the night, I'll let you know how at least one of these dishes go down. In the meantime here's some vegetable humour, courtesy of Al.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Vegetarians, lend me your ears

I've made a most unlikely decision to join the ranks of a group that count Michael Bolton, Pauly Shore, Chris Martin and that ol' hound, Adolf Hitler, amongst their members. That's right, I'm going to give vegetarianism a lash.

This isn't a decision I've come to lightly and it's not something I'll be jumping into straight away as I intend on gettting some of your advice beforehand.

From the outset, I should say that each and every one of my wits had deserted me when I agreed to this particular challenge, but a committment was apparently given and if I can't keep a drunken promise, then what do I really stand for?

Long time meat-hater Miriam is the one to blame for me deciding to learn the way of the vegetable but thankfully she only managed to convince me to try it out for a week. In return for my taking this on, she has agreed to provide me with a few apparently delicious veggie meals and snacks so as to ensure I don't die of malnutrition during the week.

I reckon I'll start off this particular challenge around Wednesday or so. The desire for a kebab will be too great tomorrow night after I finish celebrating the birthday of St Patrick.

In the meantime though, I'm open to suggestions from vegetarians, vegans and all the palatally-challenged out there on how to get through my weekus horribilis.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Change the bloody record!

Right. This isn't the first time I've made this particular observation and it shouldn't at all be seen as an attack on my friends in Live 95fm.

It should, however, be seen as an all-out Jihad on whatever chap or chapette draws up the station's daytime playlist.

Like most offices around the city, we have 95fm on in the background all day long and I'd doubt I'm the only one regularly left in a ball-bursting rage by their song choices.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have conducted a little survey and took note of some of the more questionable songs (now that's being kind) played on the station.

In the interest of fairness, those listed below are only the ones which have been played at a rate of at least twice a week during working hours.

At best, the songs contained in the list are mediocre and completely forgettable tunes that may have peaked at number seven in the Irish charts in the early to mid-90s.

At worst, they are offences against music that makes one want to cut their own ears off using a rusty hedge clippers.

In all cases, their being played with such frequency is nothing short of mindboggling and if the record isn't changed soon, I may be tempted to douse myself in petrol and light a match outside the radio station's offices in protest.

Here's the list. Am I the only one this bothers immensely? Remember, at the very least, twice a week, but quite a few have been played twice within a few hours of each other on several occasions.

'Nobody knows' by The Tony Rich Project. Reached number 2 in 1995.

'To the moon and back' by Savage Garden. Peaked at number 3 in 1998.

'Save tonight' by Eagle Eye Cherry. Top position of number 6 in 1997.

'Message in a box' by Brian Kennedy. 1997. Wikipedia doesn't know where it peaked but the album went to number one. For shame Ireland, for shame.

'Anthing at all by Paddy Casey'. Why is this hobbit famous? I'm serious, what kind of pact did he make with the devil?

'Perfect day' by the music 'greats' of 1997. Wouldn't mind the Lou Reed version now and again but why play the track featuring Boyzone and Bono?

'Love supreme' by Robbie Williams. Number 4 in 2000.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Mad ol' Madeley

For fear of being accused of plagiarism, this hilarious list of quotes from Richard Madeley (of Dick and Judy fame) has been provided to me by Jody O'S.

Give him the Late Late I say.

To JK Rowling: "You are unbelievably wealthy. Beyond the dreams of avarice, really."

To Rebecca Loos: "Will you end up with a bloke or a woman

To Sophie Ellis Bextor: "Where did you get your face?"

To transvestite artist Grayson Perry: "You're just humming with sexual energy! Is it the fabric? Is it wearing tights?"

To Jade Goody: "You're quite sharp. It's just that in the pure sense of the word, you're ignorant."

Interviewing a man with a stutter: After watching a clip of the guy struggling with his stutter: "You looked as if your head was going to come off!"

To George Martin: "Your short-term memory really is shot! It must drive you nuts!"

To Lewis Pugh: "You've previously made waves by breaking long-distance swimming records in the Arctic and Antarctic. Tell me, when you swim in the Antarctic, do your nuts go really, really tiny?"

To Nancy Sinatra: "Now obviously you loved your father, but do you think you were actually in love with him?"

To a woman with an obsession: She had had a crush on a celebrity and had even stalked the star in question. It was all handled sensitively and then Richard said - "So, when did you first realise that you were quite clearly mad?"

Interviewing actress Claire Goose: "Weren't you once a story-telling raccoon in a theme park? What sort of stories did you have to tell as a raccoon? Did you have a special raccoon voice?"

To a teenage anorexic: "Five Stone? Wow! That's concentration camp thin, that is."

Thursday, 5 March 2009

He's a lumberjack and he's okay

ANYONE with the good fortune to stumble across this site will have noticed this rather fetching picture of Yours Truly doing his best impression of a coconut up at the top.

But have you ever wondered what the beard looked like during its various stages of growth? Of course you have.

Well aren't you the lucky ones because I came across this little picture diary that I made whilst growing the beard last summer and have decided to show it off right here for your viewing pleasure.

Growing a face rug had been an ambition of mine for many years but concerns about what parents/girfriends/bouncers/employers might say always prevented me from giving it a lash.

However, having found myself in the delightful position of being apartment-bound (due to a broken ankle) and single (due to women not knowing a good thing when they see it) I was given the opportunity last summer. Here are the results.

Eager beaver at the start

Starting to get a little itchy but not letting it get to me

Now I'm letting it get to me. It feels like I'm wearing a long-dead cat that's been steamrolled on to my face.

If mother Theresa had a beard

Finally. The Lumberjack Look is complete

To continue living, insert coin here

Ha ha ha, emails are funny. You may have to squint, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Back soon!

Much of this week has been spent in County Hall at a long-winded An Bord Pleanala hearing between the city and county councils, a whole gang of objectors and the developers who hope to build a huge extension to the Crescent Shopping Centre.

It's less exciting than it sounds guys.

It's been painful enough trying to decipher hour after hour of each presentation on road capacities, retails strategies, town planning and local area plans.

Some IT head sits beside me all day in the press box but his role baffles me because from what I can tell all the b*****s does is play internet poker all day. And to make matters worse, he won't even let me see what hand he has during the odd interval in proceedings.

But I've struggled on through the hardship just to bring the truth to my followers - much in the same way as Our Lord really when you think about it - and hopefully it will be over in the next day and I'll be allowed back into the office. 'Til then my people.