Monday, 27 July 2009

What I miss about Limerick

MCGOO rang me the other morning.

Well, it was morning for me.

Well, it was morning for me on a Saturday so we'll say around noon in Vancouver and 8pm in Limerick.

"Well Johnny, what's the craic bull? Is it still roasting out there? I'm packing 12 bottles of baby oil for the beach for when I get there. Two weeks better be long enough to get the tan on kid!"

The two of us chatted for a bit about his upcoming trip to Canada - which I have been made promise will be as good if not better than a week at the Galway Races which McGoo is missing in lieu of the trip across the Atlantic. Before long, he had to go as he was meeting a few of the lads in Fennessy’s for a few “creamies”.

For a few moments, I became quite jealous of McGoo, making the short walk from his house up to the corner house at the junction of South Circular Road and New Street, where he would exchange friendly but nonetheless stern abuse with the bar staff until the wee hours of the morning. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, but even for a few hours it would have been nice to go up and spend one evening with the crew back home.

And that got me thinking of some of the things that I miss about Limerick which I obviously felt the need to list here. So in no particular order;

Fennessy's: One of the nicest pints in the city, not to mention great company, and the Peony Court only across the road for when nothing will sit better on top of a few pints but a Chilli Chicken without the chilli.

Thomond Park: I was still only getting used to our superb new stadium when I left and will definitely be pining for its atmosphere when the Heineken Cup starts again (particularly this season, now that the maul is back and Munster are going to rip the rest of Europe a new one).
Limerick Hurling: It's bloody typical that they've started to do well now that I'm out of the country. In fact, they'll probably win the bloody thing this year and I'll only get to watch the highlights four days later when someone finally uploads the Sunday Game on to Youtube.

Bruff RFC: Thomond Park may have doubled its capacity and become one of the finest rugby stadiums in the world last year, but at the same time a burger stand was introduced in Kilballyowen Park and that just about tips the scales in favour of the latter ground when it comes to deciding which of the two provides the better match day experience. I most likely won't even be able to watch the highlights on Youtube when we get promoted to Division One this year unless they stick a studio beside the burger stand.

The Limerick Leader: The staff there may no longer claim knowledge of me but I'm still very grateful to them all for the two great years of guidance and friendship they gave to the gobshite work experience student who couldn't write a snappy intro to save his life.
That's all for now methinks, if I've left anything out feel free to point it out.

Update: Oh good God I almost forgot. Were I to come back to Limerick for one night only, I would of course also love to fit a few minutes in with my family if I could find time between drinking pints, gorging on Chinese food, going to rugby and hurling matches and reminiscing with my old workmates!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Canada, Episode 7; The dreaded pajamas

THE LEADER'S entertertainment correspondent, OWENSY, recently complained about having to watch lads jump headfirst into piles of mud, wearing nothing but GAA shorts, at the recent Oxegen festival on which he was reporting (a.k.a. freeloading).

Ignore the fact that my ol' flower Owensy was most likely passing from the Champagne Bar to the Caviar Lounge reserved exclusively for the press when he witnessed the dung divers because, in fairness, his is a legitimate complaint. It can be irritating when your fellow festival-goers make uproarious asses of themselves and paint you and everyone else in the same moronic light.

My complaint, however, has somewhat more substance than my former esteemed colleague (from the time before I decided to mow lawns for a living). You see, my particular bone of contention paints not a few thousand festival fans as a gang of dribbling twits but our whole nation as a society of slobbish class-vacuums.

There I was on the bus home from work the other day, just about to pull up to my stop, when outside the window I saw an abomination that I thought I had left behind in Ireland.

Walking down the road, without a bit of shame, was the most blatantly Irish girl I have ever seen in my life.

I could live with her wearing the Cork goalkeepers jersey, although no girl has ever looked well wearing a GAA jersey in the history of the GAA or girls. Sorry ladies it's just a fact of life that you'll have to live with similar to me dealing with the reality that I will never look attractive in, say, hotpants.

But what really got my temple throbbing was that this little trollop was wearing her pajamas pants outside in the middle of the day, without the slightest hint of shame. Thankfully this vomitous trend hasn't caught on in Canada so I was horrified to see this wench bringing this particularly Irish failing over with her.

Once off the bus, I ran after the wench.

"No," I shouted. "No, you're not bringing this over with you. This bullshit is one of the reasons I left the country. You're outside for the love of god, wear outside clothes! Away home with you, you insufferable tramp!"

Well I wish that's what I did anyway. In reality, I just got off the bus, grinded my teeth a little and exchanged a pleasant smile with the pajamas wearer, dying a little inside in the process.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Canada, episode 6; The Hoge visits Stanley Park

TO look at the inhabitants of my house this morning, one could be forgiven for thinking there's been a Carbon Monoxide leak and I was the only one lucky enough to grab a gas mask.

Downstairs is Kielers, comatose in the living room, clutching the couch as if he expects to be flung clear at any point.

Afroman, who in fairness made it to his bed before collapsing, is not a picture of health either. Lying over the sheets on his bed, fully clothed with his arms and legs spread out as wide as possible, he looks like a cadaver waiting to be disected by a class of med students. The only sign of life is a just about noticeable tear creeping slowly down his cheek.

The Grief has done one better than the two sleeping beauties by going outside for a walk. However, his hangover has taken the form of liberal helpings of 'What am I doing with my life?' sentiments and the purpose of his stroll is to have an agonising rethink on what it's all about, possibly the worse sentence of the three.

And me? Having stayed in last night, I'm just sitting here enjoying the carnage and my imperviousness to it. Not wanting to crawl into a hole and die also means that I have the energy to put up a few pictures of my trip last weekend to Stanley Park, a 1,000 acre "evergreen oasis" located just outside Vancouver city centre.

It's not quite on the same pegging as People's Park but was fun nonetheless.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Movie review: Public Enemies

I've decided that I'm going to start posting the odd film review here now and again, starting off this week with Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Let me know what you think.

WHEN Michael Mann hinted a few months back that Public Enemies, his Depression era gangster flick, would be something akin to Heat - the director's best movie in my noble opinion - except it would be set in the 30s, I got more than a little excited.

For me, Heat was one of the great films of the 90s, a super story, featuring one of the last good performances from both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, shot in Mann's distinctive handheld shaky-cam style that suited the sometimes frantic pace of the movie.

And while I was doubtful that Public Enemies would surpass Heat, I was intrigued to see what Mann could do with a story about one 0f the most notorious gangster's of the early 20th century, John Dillinger.

First off, I was right to be doubtful that Mann's new film could surpass Heat but his latest offering is certainly worth a look.

The kernel of the story involves the cat and mouse chase between Dillinger, played with the right amount of swagger and menace by Johnny Depp, and FBI agent Melvin Purvis, portrayed by a less impressive but nonetheless adequate Christian Bale.

After being imprisoned in 1924 for robbing a store, Dillinger was released nine years later, having learned the necessary criminal skills to become a prolific bank robber. He would also however become a Robin Hood style hero, renowned for his charm and taste for the finer things. Purvis was selected by head of the recently formed FBI, J Edgar Hoover, to tackle the booming crime wave in the 30s, spearheaded by bank robbers such as Dillinger.

Fans of the director will notice his trademark shakycam is again employed throughout Public Enemies and while this approach is overused these days, Mann uses it to great effect, particularly during the many shootout scenes, each of which is better than the last. And while car chases, fist fights and plenty of flying flesh features in the movie, it wouldn't be fair to categorise it as merely an action picture.

Although he isn't heard of half as much as his criminal contemporary, Al Capone, Dillinger was a more interesting character and who better to play him than Mr Depp. While the development of other sideline characters does suffer at times as a result, the vast majority of screentime features Dillinger as he juggles robberies, jailbreaks and a love affair with the beautiful and also perfectly cast Marion Cotillard. At the same time, he has to cope with the realisation that his is a dying trade, due to the development of crime-fighting techniques and the ease with which other criminals were making money at the time by running gambling rackets.

Public Enemies doesn't dwell on the fact that its main character was a cold-blooded killer, a ploy most likely used to make the viewer invest in the Depp Cotillard relationship, but the bias isn't enough to take too much away from the picture.

Christian Bale doesn't give one of his best performances as the under pressure Purvis. Maybe it's just me but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was watching Christian Bale acting, as opposed to one of Hoover's original G-men at work.

Mann recreates the 30s beautifully here. The costumes, cars, weapons and music are all used to great effect to give the piece an authentic feel from start to finish. One nitpicking problem I had, however, were the style of sunglasses that Depp wears at regular intervals in Public Enemies, which certainly didn't look like something that would have been worn in the 30s.

But a glossing over of Dillinger's less than finer points, a below average Bale performance and sunglasses aside, I enjoyed the pants off this one. Mann seemed to be coasting a little with Miami Vice but he's right back on top with Public Enemies and don't be too surprised if it gets a nod in the Best Picture category come Oscar time now that that section has been increased to 10 nominations.

Hoge rating: 8/10