Friday 29 February 2008

The Friday Album Cover #2

So here it is, week 2 of the Friday Album Cover. Probably not the most keenly awaited Internet event of the week - but it's still a fledgling event and we here in Ambassador towers have high hopes (and a poor grasp on reality).

So, without further ado, here, once again, produced using MS Paint and absolutely no artistic talent, is the album cover...

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Is you game MVP like Steve Nash?

(There's something about white Irish guys and basketball terminology that don't mix isn't there? I will watch almost any sport on television - especially basketball. Except, that is, when its basketball...on RTÉ...with Irish commentators. "He pulls up and nails the three from downtown" just doesn't work when its said by a 50 year old, freckly Irish man with a thick Kerry brogue!)

I played a lot of basketball in my day but coming in a good deal more under 6 foot than I would have liked, I was never destined to play the "big man" role. I needed a little more finesse, refinement and close ball control. (This actually worked out quite well as, coming from one of Dublin's not so affluent suburbs, I had developed hands which were naturally lightening quick - though not for the purposes of basketball you understand).

Instead of being the guy who produced the powerhouse displays, I was the guy who fired shots from 20ft away. Yet for every score, for every 3-pointer that hit "nothing but net", I always garnered more satisfaction from the pass that set a team mate up for a basket. I tried to model myself on guys like John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. Players who can see passes nobody even knows are there, who can thread the ball through 2 or 3 opposition players so only their team mate can reach it. And best of all, who would make an inch perfect pass without even looking in the direction of their target.

Nash is phenomenal - he epitomises the type of player I aspired to. The range and quality of his passing, quite simply, astounding. Check some of them out for yourself... even if you don't like basketball, I have no doubt that you will be impressed.

Sadly however, I've discovered the secret behind his incredible ability and, like child who has learned how you made the coin appear from behind their ear, the magic is gone.

I feel so cheated!

(Nelly Furtado ft. Timbaland - Promiscuous)

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Take me out...

The decorating focus has now moved to the bathroom. Nothing major - the plan is to give it a coat or two of paint to keep it looking somewhat respectable until we get around to tiling it.

Eager to get stuck in, Sunday afternoon was spent doing a few odd jobs in preparation. Some lumps were sanded down, some fittings removed and some holes filled - all while trying to keep one eye on the football and the other on the college basketball (roll on March Madness).

During the clean up operation the vice grips somehow avoided capture, probably due to the distraction of what was a very exciting basketball game. They remained on the bathroom window sill until the close personal friend found them yesterday afternoon. She put them back in the toolbox, but not before sending this text...

I've put the vice grips back in the toolbox. I think people would start to wonder about the quality of our diet if we leave them in the loo.

Monday 25 February 2008

10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife...

... accurately sums up the current state of the cuttlery basket in the office kitchen.

However, I don't find it in any way 'Ironic'.

In, out, in out, (shake it all about)

I expect the quantity of posts will be severely reduced this week. [insert own gag about the quality of posts increasing as a result]

Those of you who aren't sacrificing members of Westlife or offering prayers of thanks to your Deity of choice, may be wondering why there will be so few posts. Well......

I plan to devise a campaign for the widespread return of white, plastic air fresheners with a brightly coloured, jelly like substance inside it.

Enough with air fresheners that are designed to look aesthetically pleasing, sitting smugly on a sideboard or table, looking like a small funky ornament while emitting a sickly sweet fragrance.

Arrivederci plug-in air fresheners. No more plugging them out and balancing them precariously on the window sill in order to plug the Dyson in. Never again will I catch young nephews about to down their alluring contents!

So long Fancy Dan air fresheners that automatically spray 10 times per hour and those that cause rose petals to fall from the ceiling (or so their adverts would have you believe).

I want an air freshener containing a semi solid goo I can stick my finger in!

Friday 22 February 2008

The Friday Album Cover #1

Ladies and gentlemen, Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs, Signore e Signori, Señoras y Caballeros... welcome to the inaugural Friday Album Cover post. (cue fanfare and ticker-tape)

Using my limited artistic ability* and Microsoft Paint, I have drawn my interpretation of what should be a relatively well known album cover. Although the colours are roughly accurate, any text has been replaced with squiggly lines (well we don't want to make this too easy now do we?).

There are no prizes for guessing the album title, save those of knowing that you have a photographic memory (i.e. you can remember photographs) and can interpret my crude attempts at art** somewhat accurately (which, if we're being honest, is nothing to be proud of).

Let the bemusement begin!

* Author possesses the artistic ability of a Peruvian mountain goat - and a half blind one at that.
** The word art is, in this instance, used in the loosest possible sense.

Thursday 21 February 2008

Like a Puppet on a String

I am beginning to formulate a complex theory which combines the fields of science and sociology. The "Sandie Shaw Theory" can be outlined using the following example...

Each morning on the way to work I pass the same people, in exactly the same places.

  • Just before exiting the drive a man who lives up the road drives past in his green Nissan primara.
  • After I pull out of the estate, the small strawberry blonde woman, in navy jogging bottoms and a bright red rain jacket jogs past, heading up the hill.
  • As I pass by the local Spar, a guy on a yellow Triumph Daytona 600 nods at me as he passes in the opposite direction. I nod back.
  • A red open top tour bus driven by a balding bespectacled, heading along the N7 in the direction of Dublin, goes by as I am coming down the slip road.
  • Later, when stopped at some traffic lights, an old nissan starlet with what seems like 6 exhausts and the wingspan of a 747 passes through the junction from the right hand side.

This morning, for reasons best left unexplained, I was running at least 15 minutes late.... and so, it seemed, was everybody else. I met all the same people, in all the same places. All going about their daily routine - except 15 minutes later than normal.

This has led me to the (perfectly logical) conclusion that the lives of the world's population are divided into small sub groups of randomly connected people who live their lives in what I believe to be "approximate parallelity". Almost as if linked by invisible threads (hence the Sandie Shaw Theory). If one person is late then all other people on the same thread will be late. Perhaps if one is sick, all the others experience the sensation of being somewhat under the weather to varying degrees.

So, the next time you are on the receiving end of an ear-bashing for arriving somewhere after the agreed/expected time, remember that it may not be your fault. Your being behind schedule may have been pre-destined and nothing you could have done would have changed it.

So blame the other people on your thread. You know it makes sense.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Handle With Care

Lately there has been widespread media acoverage of the HSE's "Did you wash your hands?" campaign.

People are outraged, baffled and bemused in equal measure at the idea. The HSE are more or less saying "we can't be 100% certain that our medical professionals have washed their hands after having them up some another patient's arse, so, to be on the safe side, we suggest you double check". If this is really the best idea HSE could come up to confine the spread of MRSA, we have a lot to be concerned about. After all, if a doctor/nurse can't be trusted to wash their hands how can we trust them to come clean (if you'll excuse the pun) when they haven't? In the unlikely event that they would admit to not washing their hands, would you trust them to treat you afterward?

In other places of employment, when minimum standards are not met, the employee can be issued with a verbal or written warning, be suspened or, after multiple offences, have their employment terminated. Quite why similar procedures can't be implemented in the health service is beyond me. Going on the same scale the "Did you wash your hand?" approach is roughly akin to playfully tussling the doctor's hair and declaring "You nearly killed me you little scamp. Here's 50c, go and buy yourself something nice but don't let me catch you doing that again".

In any case, what we should be asking them is "Have you washed your hands.... and encrypted my patient data?"

(Handle With Care - George Harrison)

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Don't Go Back To Rockville

While meandering rather aimlessly down Grafton Street one day a middle-aged man stepped into my path, his eyes and body language pleading wordlessly for a moment of my time. He appeard at first glance a respectable kind of fellow although in truth the absence of a blue bib, uniform of the clipboard wielding chugger, was enough to convince me to stop for a few seconds.

"I'm awfully sorry to disturb you" he said in a mild Scottish accent. "I've just got here from Glasgow, and I've been mugged. Some welcome eh? No wallet, no passport, no credit cards. Nothing. I wonder could you spare a few pence so I can find somewhere to stay until I can get to the Embassy tomorrow morning".

Although I will make some exceptions (particularly for the Asthma and Cancer societies), I generally adopt a policy of not contributing to charitable collections on the streets preferring instead to contribute to the charities directly. Taking pity on the plight of this affable gentleman I handed him a few quid, wished him luck and went on my way.

I've since met him on a number of different occasions and he has been in the same predicament each and every time. Wonder why he keeps coming back here - we clearly don't like him?

(Don't Go Back to Rockville - REM)

Monday 18 February 2008

You don't have to know the words...

You learn something new every day eh?

Today's lesson: Apparently it's not "The Caroline sex dance" (the idea of which intrigues me by the way).

It's actually "Forget romance, let's dance" by We Should Be Dead.

(Which explains why the girl behind the bar was casting disturbed glances in my direction on Saturday night)

(The title of today's post comes to you courtesy of Arclight by The Fat Lady Sings.)

Friday 15 February 2008

And when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight

Yesterday evening was spent painting the ceiling of the hall, stairs and landing.

Today my neck is only marginally more flexible than the Vatican's views on contraception.

Unable to look down, I dressed using only my sense of touch. I have no idea what I'm wearing, if fashion hags Trinny or Susannah would approve or indeed if individual garments belong to me or the close personal friend.

I suspect it may appear to the world as though I was dressed by an explosion in an Oxfam shop.

Of recklessness and water

When you swim up the creek,
And an eel bits your cheek.
That's a moray!

I do apologise.

Thursday 14 February 2008

You moved too fast You spoke too soon

Well it seems that my rejoycing at the sprunging of spring was a tad bit premature.

I took a spin home for lunch and it is bloody freezing!

(Today's post title was comes to you courtesy of Swing Out Sister and "Circulate".)

Wednesday 13 February 2008

It's been a bad day, please don't take a picture.

Rejoyce! Rejoyce!

Spring has sprung! Bike weather will soon be here.

I have just been for a quick spin to have some passport photos taken. The air was crisp and clear. It was bright and, although not exacly warm, it wasn't bitterly cold. And it was dry. Sweet, sweet dry roads, how I have missed you. How I have longed for your grippy grippiness to return and hold my bridgestones tightly. How I have longed to flip the bike around with the type of reckless disregard for the laws of physics one can only dream of during the winter. With the type of contempt for the rules of the road only Jim McDaid can aspire to.

Yes, soon I will be crusing down country roads. Gracefully swooshing around bends, zipping by tractors and admiring the natural beauty of Glendalough. Can't wait!

... and speaking of passport photos...

How I miss the old passport photo machines. The ones that took 4 different photos.... at irregular intervals.

You'd carefully insert your money (old, old money mind) and position yourself in what you hoped was a fetching pose ( you never knew, because you didn't get to see the photos until they came out). Then the first photo would be taken, together with a blinding flash - catching you mid pose. A flash so bright small woodland creatures living nearby would come out of hibernation. This invariably caught you completely by surprise, blinding you and rendering you startled, squinting and trying to regain your bearing as tiny coloured stars float before your retinas. This is usually when the second photo was taken. This time with a brighter flash - bright enough to give the sun an inferiority complex. Your moment of confusion is captured in all its glory just when the cringe factor reaches its peak. "Fuck... Jesus.. what the..." you'd say as you try to gather yourself for the..... FLASH! goes the third photo. 3 ruined now, 1 left. Better make the most of it. You quickly compose yourself, staring blankly ahead. Blinded. Yoursight is slowly coming back, you can make out the screen in front of you and see your stunned reflection staring back at you. Nothing. You look down at your watch, wondering if in the confusion you lost count of the flashes. You lean forward to read the sticker above the coin slot.. just to check.....FLASH!


(The title of today's post is brought to you courtesy of 'Bad Day' by REM)

I think we're alone now

Runnin' just as fast as we can
Holdin' on to one another's hand
Tryin' to get away into the night
And then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground
And then you say....


Tuesday 12 February 2008

I know what I know, if you know what I mean...

I have a gig at the end of the month. As it is in a club I have never visited, much less graced the stage of, last week I bravely boarded the number 77 bus into Town to check it out.

The 77 can be a bit of a knacker-fest at the best of times so, naturally, I left the MP3 player at home and ventured upstairs into the blue, smokey, haze to engage in a spot of ear-wigging. And what fun it was.

For the uninitiated, the back seats in the top deck of the 77 bus are something of a meeting point for the local scanger population. Although they may never have met before, united by the common bonds of wasterdom and blow-smoking, they chat openly about the hardships of life. Things like social welfare payments, the price of Dutch Gold and optimum glassing practices. Occasionally you will also get the absurd gem like this one.....

There were 2 lads holding the fort at the back of the bus - we'll call them Anto and Whacker (for that is, in all likelihood what they were actually called).

For what its worth, I did toy with the idea of using phonetic spelling but sure you can drop the trailing t's and pronounce 'th' as 'd' yizzer-selves 'n all 'n anyways. (Dis dat deeze an' doze. Dat's de way de T-H goes). Ok, I'll give it a shot - translations available on request.

Anto: Where are ye from yerself?
Whacker: Old Bawn.
Anto: Aw yeah. Bleedin' deadly. De yer know Robbie McCann?
Whacker: Nah... well I'd know him to see if ye-know-war-a-mean.... we smoke a birra blow togeder an' da.
Anto: Ah righ'. Incidentally [yes I know its 4 syllables but he did actually say it], do you know who invented hash?
Whacker: No.. go on... who?
Anto: [Like some wise old sage, with a knowing nod of his head] Only Adolf bleedin'Hitler.
Whacker: No way! [Presumably at this point he was thinking, "If I'm ever on 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire', I'm having Anto as one of me phone a friends. He knows loadsa stuff"]

(The title of today's post is brought to you courtesy of 'What I Am' by Edie Brickell)

Monday 11 February 2008

Ain't got time to fix the shingles

Cough!... Splutter!... Cough!... Wheeeeeeze!

Some weeks ago, we had our house alarm changed. In the process, at Mr. Alarm Fitter's suggestion, we had the location of the alarm keypad changed.

Of course, I hadn't figured on the large, wallpaper-less patch of wall where the panel once was. Or the many gaping holes it would require to neatly route the necessary wiring across the hall to the new panel location. It looks like a 1920's Chicago gangster conveyed his displeasure with the original decor through the medium of the Tommy Gun.

Natually, the close personal friend was simply delighted by all this. No... actually, she was. It meant the hall, stairs and landing, which had been on an infeasibly long finger, instantly shot to the top of our "To Decorate" list. I'm still not entirely convinced she wasn't in cahoots with Mr. Alarm Fitter concerning the keypad move! In fact, I don't even recall actually having a "To Decorate" list.

With the paper stripped and floors covered in old bedsheets, the plan for the weekend was to fill the walls and sand them down in preparation for painting - everything from tiny imperfections to huge craters would vanish from sight.

On Saturday we sanded the walls, whipped up a batch of filler in an old lunch box and set about the walls armed with filling knives and a naive enthusiasm. Once we were done most imperfections would have been smoothed out. Sure we might miss the odd spot here and there - but anything we missed would be too small to see. Wouldn't it?

Apparently not, at least as far as my superhero like power of sight was concerned. I mixed 3 further smaller batches of filler on Sunday. The last in a shot glass to fix a tiny blemish I noticed on the way to bed.

I have become obsessed with smoothness. I am unable to walk down the stairs without rubbing my hands along the wall as I go. We will have the smoothest walls in all of Christendom.

I need a holiday!

(On the plus side, I had so much dust in my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes by Saturday afternoon, I know I will look somewhat foxy and decidedly distinguised when my hair turns grey)

Friday 8 February 2008

Today I will mostly be listening to....

Eric Clapton Unplugged.... and it still sounds as sensational as it did when I was a teenager listening to it on a cube shaped cassette/radio in my bedroom.

Worth buying for 'Nobody Knows you When You're Down and Out', 'Old Love' and an incredible, stripped-down version of 'Layla'.

There's more to life than what you see

A British police report published today claims Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed by a head injury caused by a bomb blast and not an assassin's bullet as was originally thought. It is believed the bomber was a 15 year old boy.

15 years old - he should have been out on his bike or playing cricket or something.

While the promise of 72 virgins in paradise may appeal to more grizzled veterans, I can't begin to imagine what a teenager could want with them. At that age, the mere sight of a member of the opposite sex turned me into a blubbering, stuttering, gibberish-spouting wreck.

I'm convinced the only way to prevent suicide attacks is to play Joni Mitchell records over a tannoy system.

Potential suicide bombers won't be as keen on their fate when they hear that "They've paved paradise and put up a parking lot".

(The title of today's post is brought to you courtesy of 'My Friend of Misery' from the Metallica's empnymously titled 5th Studio album)

Thursday 7 February 2008

Life's Little Mysteries #5

Why don't greyhound trainers teach their dogs to do that half-stoopy, half-fally thing Olympic sprinters do at the finish line?

Surely the first dog to master this feat would become an instant world beater?

Throw away your television

The people who live across the road from us have bought a new TV.

It is monstrous. Huge.

When looking out our sitting room window, you can see their television with greater clarity than the one plugged in 6 feet away. Even from across the street, the actor's head on their TV screen is probably larger than it is in "real life". Far larger in fact - except maybe in the case of Mr. Scientology himself.

They have a son who is around 1 year old and, unless Mammy and Daddy have a slightly unhealthy obsession with 'Dora the Explorer', he seems to watch a great deal of television - which concerns me somewhat.

When that child goes out into the world it will be distraught and more than a little worried that everybody's head is so alarmingly small. Presumably his eyes will dart from side to side as he sits in his buggy trying to spot any tribal head-shrinkers lurking.

Still, its not my position to tell them how to raise their children. Think I might buy them a subscription to Sky Sports for Valentines Day - then I could watch the football on Sundays.

(The title of today's post is brought to you courtesy of 'Throw Away Your Television' from the Red Hot Chili Peppers 8th Studio album, 'By the Way')

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

R, the Italian, who has been living in Ireland for a little over a year, has an eye for the ladies and is a great man for a drinking session. It was only natural then, that he should take to Ireland in much the same way Shane McGowan might take to a pint of Guinness.

When T-man made a passing comment about Super-Pancake-Tuesday, the Italian, his ears obviously pricked, turned to us and enquired "What do you do in Ireland on Pancake Tuesday?". (He loves to immerse himself in Irish customs and culture)

"What do you think we do?" asked T-man, "the clue is in the name".

"Yes I know" replied R, "but what else do you do?" He the proceeded to explain how at home in Italy, the last day before Lent is marked with a Mardi Gras style festival.

"We just make pancakes at home" said T-man, "There are no big celebrations, nobody goes to the pub or anything. It's all very sedate."

"Oh" said a visibly crestfallen R, "What will I do with all the beads?"

Who Put The Bomp in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp?

(No, its not another post answering questions posed in songs.)

Who put the 'bowl' in Superbowl?

No bowling of any description is involved.

The trophy the teams compete for is most definitely not bowl shaped.

It must be one of the most poorly named sporting events known to man.

The Grand National too - it suggests an elderly racist as opposed to a horse race.

Friday 1 February 2008

Some kind of a girl...

On Sunday, as the witching hour arrives you will find me sitting on the couch watching the superbowl. Because she is infinitely wonderful, the close personal friend will be sitting beside me watching it too.

She has taken Monday off work so she can stay up and watch the game. Her fingers will be crossed that the Patriots can make history by becoming the first team in 35 years to finish a season with a 100% record.

What an absolute legend!

Back Tuesday.

Take me out to the ball game...

Little boys want to grow up to be just like their fathers and grandfathers. This explains why I support the football teams I do and why, at the age of 6, working in a cold factory seemed like a fine career choice.

I would even plonk myself in front of a mirror for hours on end, hairbrush in hand, trying to sculpt my thick, floppy mop of boyish blonde hair into a V-shape - just as Daddy Ambassador did each morning. Only now do I realise Daddy Ambassador's folical flying V was borne out of male pattern baldness rather than any innate sense of style. Soon enough I would cultivate a V of my own but strangely, when that time came, I wasn't quite as keen on the idea.

Grandad Ambassador, for his part, instilled a love of American sports in me. He taught me about baseball. Spending many hours with me on his knee, hanging on every word that poured from his mouth, as, shunning the company of other adults, he explained the rules and the unique magic of the game he loved. He spoke in hushed tones of the ballpark atmosphere and legends like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Dizzy Dean.

On Saturdays we would walk from Rialto, through Kilmainham to the lush, grassy meadows of the Phoenix Park, laden down with juicy Granny Smith apples, a packet of Opal Fruits, a bat, a baseball and a mitt. He would pick a spot in the sun then don the glove, stare intently at the imaginary catcher behind me, "shake off" one or two signals with an almost imperceptible shake of his head, check behind him for sneaky base stealers before theatrically winding up a pitch and lobbing a gentle throw towards me.

Standing with my navy Yankees baseball hat perched atop my head, griping the bat fiercely I'd swing with all my might belting the ball as far as I could - probably about 20 feet. Grandad would half shuffle-half jog to retrieve the ball and place his grandad cap where it came to rest. I would try to beat "the record" by hitting the next ball further than the cap. We would laugh and joke - him telling me a shot didn't count because the right fielder had caught it, me responding with guarantees that the next one would be a homer. Out of the park! Only when I could no longer muster the strength to swing the bat would we adjourn to the a nearby bench to eat our apples before walking home, enjoying juicy Opal Fruits for desert.

Grandad Ambassador also developed my intertest in Americal Football and, thanks to his sterling work in this regard, I will spend Sunday evening drinking copious amounts of coffee, holding my eyelids open with match sticks and watching this year's Superbowl - just as I have done every year since the age of 14.

During the game, with the first anniversary of his passing drawing near, I will raise a glass and toast the memory of my dearly beloved and much missed Grandad Ambassador.

Thanks Grandad!