Saturday 28 July 2007
Friday 27 July 2007
What/Who was the equivalent song/ singer for you?
Despite today's nostalgia tinged blog, the music industry has never been more in the consumers' favour. The myriad of ways to access new music today is amazing. I'm too busy discovering new music to feel as possessive about one particular artist as I have in the past (just checked - 35 gigs of music on my computer!) . Nonetheless, the sense of ownership that I mentioned earlier can be recreated in a typically noughties way by actually buying a share of an undiscovered act through the site sellaband.com. Quite like Daniel Ward-Murphy. Hands off!
Thursday 26 July 2007
He recently commented on Padraig Harrington's first Open Championship win.
It follows the revelation of Harrington's astute mental preparations. In the psychology of sport, it is wise to prepare precisely for the outcomes that you want.
Golf: Padraig Harrington - Future History
When assessing why a Open Championship play-off has been won by one player and not the other, you have to take into account age and experience. You have to factor in the quality of their game. Then and most importantly of all, you have to throw into the mix their mental application. How they would be thinking about themselves. Their last afternoon's work. Victory spurned. Their opponents. Any slivers of doubt and uncertainty would tilt the advantage away from them.
When we learn of Padraig Harrington's attitude to the play-off, it starts to become clear why he is now the Open Champion. When he went to the putting green, he looked at Bob Rotella and said, 'I'm good. When you see me out in the play-off, doing this with my hand (waving it in the air like a salute) you are going to think I'm waving, but I am raising the Claret Jug to the sky'.
This is the mental preparation of an Open Champion. He is preparing exactly for the outcome that he wants. He is establishing a mental blueprint. Creating future history. Like Muhammad Ali and his famous pre-fight predictions.
Harrington's raised arm to the crowd technique works on a number of levels. Firstly it puts him in the state or feeling of an Open Champion. A place beyond hope or maybe. Doubts removed. I am the Open Champion. This allows him to negotiate the play-off as the Open Champion in waiting. A place of strength.
Secondly the feeling becomes powered and enhanced by the ringing applause of the crowd. They are confirming him in his intention. Endorsing him. He is holding the Claret Jug aloft. They are applauding him. Should we be surprised that this outcome manifests itself twenty minutes later? As Marcus Aurelius said, 'You become what you think about'.
Sergio Garcia would have to be even better mentally prepared to win this battle. This play-off may not have come down to who was the best player. But who had done the smartest mental preparation. Padraig Harrington's thoroughness was worthy of a true champion.
I particularly like the line "You become what you think about". There is another great article on Meath's recent win over Galway in the football qualifiers. The principles apply for any team sport. It highlights the signs that show a team that doesn't really believe in itself.
GAA: Galway - In Search Of Trust
It's early in the first half of the third round All-Ireland football qualifier. Galway are enjoying plenty of possession against Meath. So far so good. It's not the possession thats the problem. It's what they do with it. Simple passes to colleagues are on. Play it - now! Keep the flow. Build momentum. Establish a rhythm. Give your colleague confidence. Show your faith in him. Build sequences. Create trust. Assess - Decide - Execute. That's the formula.
But no. Passes are delayed for no strategic advantage. Momentum is lost. Everything is safe. Too safe. Too cautious. For no gain. Poor decision making leading to poor outcomes. Shortly after, Meath score two decisive goals. They don't lack clarity of purpose.
These are classic signs of a team not in harmony with each other. Good teams play the simple ball. They find their rhythm. That tempo dictates the movement of the ball. It becomes contagious. Everyone wants to get involved. Trust builds trust. It feels electric. Watch Manchester United at their best. It's all rhythm and tempo. Football you can set to music.
When players are not given the simple pass, you have to ask why? Does the player with the ball not trust their colleague with possession? Is this not in the game plan? Have the team been over coached? Over coached so that they can't make a decision for themselves. This can happen. Or are players frightened of making a mistake. Scared of the risky ball. Playing in a culture where mistakes are not tolerated?
All of this can have an impact on decision making. A simple game is made difficult. The team know it. Uncertainty prevails. Everything becomes a struggle. Compounded by defeat. Only straight talk and honest appraisal can rid the team dynamic of these unwelcome ghosts.
Check this site out.
A good photo will act as a catalyst of impressions, ideas, assumptions and theories for my racing brain. There is no need for a background story or any extra information. My eyes will drink in all they can from the image. I love faces - particularly old and young ones. The images below I have taken from Flickr.com (Photographers - Coroner, Alexsandra Radonic, Jeridaking)
The second photo isn't of the same standard visually as the other two, but I think it's great. Even though the man isn't Irish, it inspires me with all sorts of stories of past deals and shenanigans in general. Some people might think photography doesn't have the same capacity for interpretation but that second photo would appeal to a wide variety of people in many different ways. The first and third photos are breathtaking reflections of the beauty that we see everyday but often miss. Abre los ojos!
Wednesday 25 July 2007
When it comes to paintings I feel I have to know this background information to truly appreciate them. This probably indicates my inability to simply appreciate a painting for what it is - a work of art. Nonetheless, despite my initial zeal , the tour is usually rushed through in the end, fast forwarding the audio commentary. Maybe this just isn't the way art should be seen. One great piece of art should be enough to contemplate and digest over a day. So ...
I have chosen one painting for the day. It's "Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh.
Not very original I know but I liked the way it took a while to take in the full content of the painting. Initially, your eyes flicker over each of the exaggerated stars in the swirling night sky and then you realise there's a large, dark structure on the left that seems out of place with the quaint, cosy looking town below. Van Gogh painted this from memory in his room in an asylum. Maybe you could interpret this painting as revealing his sense of isolation on the fringes of society and despite all the beauty in the world, he still feels dark and lost - or else it's just a nice picture with some stars.
Below are the last 3 verses from the song "Starry Starry Night". Very melancholic, I know, but it's really a beautiful ode to a tragic man. These verses describe how even though he created beautiful works of art that would forever hang in "empty halls" they could never return his love so true ... cue throat clearing now.
Don McLean - Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)
For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.
Starry, starry night.
Portraits hung in empty halls,
Frameless head on nameless walls,
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the strangers that you've met,
The ragged men in the ragged clothes,
The silver thorn of bloody rose,
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.
Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will...
Monday 23 July 2007
One of the tunes of the night was - Electronic Battle Weapon 8 by The Chemical Brothers
Overall, a very good set but you really need 3 to 4 hours to get the best out of his sets. Some of the tunes were a little too chilled for a 2 hour set. Some people were complaining about the 30 yoyo asking price prior to the gig but I think anyone that went to the gig felt it was worth it. The sound system is fairly poor but any dance club that has an open comfortable setup, decent talent and doesn't have hassle/scumbags etc. is worth a few bob more that DJ Smashey in some normal club that you feel like you've been to a million times.
I understand these bodies probably have to be seen to take a hard line approach to our national alcohol consumption, but they have managed to categorise a huge percentage of the country as binge drinkers in one clumsy brush stroke. Maybe, 2 pints in one sitting is the ideal amount that we should strive for but the reality in Ireland is far removed from this. The front of the Sunday Times yesterday revealed a similar body from the US completed a study on alcoholism here because the Irish are "more culturally and genetically homogeneous than other nations, and because their drinking was among the highest of western countries". We certainly spend more than any other nation on alcohol and, unlike our soccer team, we are often top of the table in World and European consumption. Now, we are saying that people that have 3 pints of a Saturday evening in their local are binge drinkers as well. Whether this is true or not, it just casts a group of people that I imagine would pride themselves on their moderate imbibing in with the louts roaring in the street at 3am.
I think Tommy Tiernan gave a fairly good definition of binge drinking when he said "I've had four pints , anything after that and I only start acting the maggot". Obviously the amount varies for different people, but we all know that nice stage of drinking when we are nicely loosened out with 2/3 pints and the conversation is flowing and you're having the craic in general. It's a lovely place to be but next thing you know you're talking shite, throwing shapes at one of your younger sister's friends and doing something unbecoming on the dancefloor. Now, we've all had those nights and they can be great fun but after a while it becomes a set pattern and you don't choose to drink anymore. You just do.
It took me a while to break that cycle. At the start of this year, after an almighty 2 week bender my body just started physically refusing alcohol and I gave it up for almost 3 months. Since then , I have had 4/5 'big' nights but none have continued day after, like they would in the past. I have gone out a few nights and not drank at all but I do find it uncomfortable to stay in pub for a long time drinking minerals - not because I can't drink but because it's often too loud, packed and I hate fizzy drinks. While I was off the gargle , I read Alan Carr's book on drinking which was very logical and straightforward. He would reason that I was uncomfortable in the pub because I just didn't like it. Alcohol was only nulling my senses and I would imagine myself to be more comfortable. In some socials settings, I can be a tad shy when meeting new people and those first few drinks would help ease me into a conversation. Carr says people often take a while to settle and get comfortable in these situations anyway and I did find that I would relax after 20 minutes even without alcohol. He claims that alcohol is not only a poison but it stunts our development as people. We use it as a crutch to chat someone up, tell our boss what we really think of him or to talk to new people. Surely, we should be able to do this anyway. Although, I did start drinking again after reading the book I feel I now choose to drink on a night out. Some nights I might choose not to drink. Before, it was always a given that I would drink on a Saturday night without any thought as to whether I wanted to or not.
In the past, I think Irish people went out to chat, to sing, to dance, to play cards and have the craic in general. They still might have drank a big amount but that would have been secondary to whatever they were doing. Nowadays, Irish people stand around in packed bars where the music is too loud to talk or listen and we just check each other out while guzzling from bottles of American beer. By the end of the night, people have that hollow glazed look in their eyes and all control has been lost. The papers are depressingly full of reports of violence driven by alcohol.
I hope these alcohol awareness groups realise they are based in Ireland and infuse a sense of reality in what they strive to do. MEAS seem to be fairly switched in as I remember them organising quality non-alcoholic music and comedy gigs in college. Apparently, some softs drinks company is doing a promotion where designated drivers get free soft drinks for the night, which makes great sense as a Rock Shandy will cost more that a beer in pubs.
Maybe, heavy boozing is a stage some Paddys have to go through. I certainly did. It is the regaining a sense of control to pull back from the slippery slope that is often beyond many of us.
Sunday 22 July 2007
Friday 20 July 2007
I have included countries I have been to, but I can't say I ate like a local all the time. I normally eat a simple breakfast (muesli, bread, coffee) but in places like Japan breakfast was often just a smaller dinner with rice, seawood and some veg. I couldn't even stand the smell of such food in the morning but I'm sure they would react with equal disdain to an Irish breakfast.
Guatemala: The Mendozas of Todos Santos
Food expenditure for one week: 573 Quetzales or $75.70
Family Recipe: Turkey Stew and Susana Perez Matias's Sheep Soup
United States: The Fernandezes of Texas
Food expenditure for one week: $242.48
Favorite Foods: Shrimp with Alfredo sauce, chicken mole, barbecue ribs, pizza
France: The Le Moines of Montreuil
Food expenditure for one week: 315.17 euros or $419.95
Favorite Foods: Delphine Le Moine's Apricot Tarts, pasta carbonara, Thai food
Great Britain: The Bainton family of Cllingbourne Ducis
Food expenditure for one week: 155.54 British Pounds or $253.15
Favorite foods: avocado, mayonnaise sandwich, prawn cocktail, chocolate fudge cake with cream
Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City
Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25
Favorite foods: sashimi, fruit, cake, potato chips
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09
Favorite foods: pizza, crab, pasta, chicken
China: The Dong family of Beijing
Food expenditure for one week: 1,233.76 Yuan or $155.06
Favorite foods: fried shredded pork with sweet and sour sauce
Can't find relevant figures for Ireland, but I reckon for 2 kids, 2 adults it would be around €200, which at the moment is trading at $275.
Have never made it to the continent of Africa, but just thought I'd include Chad to show the other end of the spectrum.
Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23
Favorite foods: soup with fresh sheep meat
Wednesday 18 July 2007
Erol Alkan and Deep Dish kept me entertained for the evening but I thought they were nothing special at the same time. I felt there was very little diversity between some of the Dance Arena acts with most of them playing electronica sets with very little deviation. Felix the Housecat finished the arena on Saturday night and I've never been more disappointed by a DJ. In short, he was a disgrace. Dance music has long been criticised for extending a reverence and respect for DJs, who often do not even produce their own music. Huge sums of money and matching crowds have been the norm for big name DJs, particularly in the 90s. Many of my best nights have been in clubs with a good atmosphere, tunes and crowd with relatively unknown DJs. FTH has produced some great tunes, but can't mix. At one stage, he played Tainted Love by Marc Almond (totally out of place at the time) and then brought in the next tune with practically zero mixing. He later played "Ready 2 Wear", a tune I really like but had no place in an electronica set.
He finished his set fairly early, around 12:45, and then mentioned something about shooting off because of traffic!! He must know at this stage what people put up with at these festivals and he starts on about the M50. Do not waste your time ever going to see this DJ. He is everything that is wrong with dance music - taking exorbitant fees to play a sloppy set with little regard for his audience. Rant over.
Luckily, my faith in dance music was restored with interest on Sunday. My first viewing of Daft Punk far exceeded my humble expectations. I'd heard all the criticisms of the gallic duo (same live set, lack of new, quality material, huge fees etc.) and hadn't really listened to them much over the last few years. Nonetheless, they put on the greatest live show I've ever seen. The whole thing seemed tailored to perfection - every beat, bass and musical nuance was in unison with the unbelievable light show. Their songs were intermingled and intertwined to a point where you didn't know where some songs started or finished. At one stage, I thought the set was beginning to wind down when this was played ...
Still getting goosepimples watching that. Criticise all you want but as Maximus would say "Are you not entertained?". The best show I've ever seen was spent ankle deep in mud and I loved it. At that stage, I think I was at one with the mud. If you want to enjoy a festival like this, I reckon you have got to love and embrace the mud. Leber 3 Mud 3
Tuesday 17 July 2007
With no bar open until 2:00pm, I was kicking myself (with the one sole) for not smuggling in me "Devil's Bit". Despite my earlier promises not to mention too many of the negative aspects of Oxegen, I realise I have mentioned the "mud" on quite a few occasions. It just seemed omnipresent at times curtailing your full enjoyment of some of the acts, but in this one moment as I looked around this great field with Mayo and Galway flags proudly rippling in the breeze, muck savages in Wrangler jeans wrestling each other like baby hippos in the mud and a soft rain drizzling overhead, I realised there could be no better setting than this for ... The Saw Doctors. "Bale 'em, bale 'em, hayhay!" The doctors always deliver when on call and this time was no different. Unfortunately, I don't think they played my favourite Doctor tune, "To win just once". Ye'll have to watch the Dubs getting beat as well on this clip - how bad!
One of my favourite Saw Doctors tune is the background music on this strange Russian engagement montage vid (Possibly genuine Borat soundalike at the start "It's very nice")
Next up were electro-soul-dance group, Unklejam. There were on at about 1:oopm in the New Bands tent. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, as I don't really like their admittedly catchy, main hit.
But, they were outstanding. They have 3 glammed up lead singers prancing around the stage belting out the tunes and generally getting the crowd going. All 3 displayed fantastic singing voices in unison and solo at different stages. They did a great cover of "7 nation army" and one soul song that started slow and finished in fantastic crescendo (possible cover. Anyone?).
7 Nation Army
Their attitude was fantastic on the day and my impression of them was reinforced when I read what they said about the gig on their site, "Most people at festivals are just trying to survive, so their very last priority is to make sure they look half way decent. When you arrive at the festivals it's way too easy to get sucked into this 'who gives a shit' mentality, and I for one very nearly went on stage wearing whatever the hell I'd fallen out of bed in. BUT NO, not the Jam, we braved the cold, the mud, the rain and glammed up in true UnkleJam fashion and went on that stage like we were playing the Albert Hall. Big up the Irish, you were stunning, loving, and fkin loud! and we'll be back". I certainly hope so. A cracking live band.
Sunday 14:00 - I had just procured my first beer of the day and I decided to forgo the option of drinking alfresco as it was lashing. Headed for the Dance Arena on the condition that I would leave before the hour was up. I was treated to, what I thought was, the best DJ set of the weekend. No sleep the night before, soggy runners and insufficient helpings of the cure hadn't put me in the best of moods but Cagedbaby perked me right up. Not a big fan of electronica but he played a brilliant set that was heard by an arena only 1/3 full, but had my sorry ass dancing for the full hour. http://www.myspace.com/cagedbaby
True to my word, I headed to the Pet Sounds tent with my first helping of proper(ish) food in 2 days (thai chicken noodles) and a bevy to see Miss Kate Nash. Only "discovered" her a few weeks ago but she seems to have a huge following and the tent was full. Her set was quite short but was top class. She switched a few times from piano, which she plays really well, to guitar and was just a cozy beacon of loveliness amid the swirling elements of hangovers, mud and evil that awaited us outside. "Foundations" got the biggest cheer from a crowd that seemed to be very familiar with her material (mostly young and female...cashback!). I love this tune but I think she lets herself down with the lines "You said I must eat so many lemons 'cause I am so bitter
I'd rather be with your friends mate 'cause they are much fitter" - far too Lilly Allen for my liking.
Here is the video but the live version floored me in how it managed to be bittersweet, melancholic and yet really uplifting. Leber certainly felt much the better man afterwards. Leber 2 Mud 2.
More to follow ...
Saturday 14 July 2007
It all started out bright, optimistic with an unquenchable thirst for the beginning of a musical odyssey. Well, that thirst was well sated on the Friday night in Dublin with a two hour Korean banquet complete with evil Korean rice wine, Soju. My hopelessly optimistic festival timetable had to be drastically amended when I arrived at 2:00pm on the Saturday and struggled badly with the ol' tent construction. Having to eventually resort to reading the instructions I had previously put aside, with the disdain all men possess for such things, I concluded hangovers and anything with labels A, A1, B and B1 do not mix.
Can of cider in hand, I laboured through the heavy muck which seemed determined to wrench the old Air Max runners (official Skanger footwear, I know) from my feet and propel me face forward and shoeless to the floor . I possibly didn't give the aforementioned can due attention but made it to the entrance proudly vertical. The realisation that a weekend-long battle of wits with the stodgy matter lay ahead was beginning to dawn. Leber 1 Mud 0.
My hopelessly optimistic festival schedule (surely an oxymoron in itself) had to be amended already as I was 4 hours late. The Cribs, The View, The Rumble Strips, Director, and The Twang would sadly have to missed this time (Worth youtubing these bands). I might have ambled over to Avril Lavigne as well, if I happened to be passing... the main stage at 15:30, apparently). I just can't dislike the Canadian minx despite her gawdawful adolescent, punk- wannabe yelpings.
Caught the last tune of French duo, Justice, who apparently rocked the Dance Arena.
Their sing along sign-off was the catchy old number by Rage Against the Machine "Killing in the Name of" which would be quite different from their hit tune " D.A.N.C.E"
Not too sure whether I love or hate this tune. Possibly hate... unless drunk.
Was none too impressed that I had missed the Justice hour and stayed on for Booka Shade, who a few of my friends rave about. The duo play keyboards, drums, sing vocal lines and mix live on stage. I wanted to like it. I didn't. Maybe it was just me, but I found them boring. I don't think their sound was suited to the hangar type feel of the "Arena". They rock in this clip in a smaller venue.
After about an hour in the Dance Arena, I was getting anxious to see a few bands but then the heavens opened and my Air Max lodged a sit-down protest. I was going nowhere. Ended up staying there for most of the night which I regret now but at the time it suited me perfectly. Caught glimpses of The Gossip performance which involved Beth Ditto shaking her considerable booty around the stage in suitably green underwear.
I did manage to make a few sporadic missions between showers to the Bacardi tent, which played some excellent house, funk and jazz beats throughout the weekend. I was delighted to catch one of the greatest covers of a classic song ever, earlier in the day. Enjoy!
Disappointed that I didn't make it out for Kings of Leon, Badly Drawn Boy and Air, but I suspected that I knew my early entrance to the Dance Arena was always going to put any wanderings around the vast site with mud underfoot and rain overhead in jeopardy. Leber 1 Mud 1.
More to follow tomorrow... God it's great to have a functioning(semi-functioning) brain, again.