Thursday 27 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #24

Busy day ahead so some rescheduling was required.

The early bird will definitely have the advantage - although hopefully it won't be too obvious.

For some reason this seemed like it would be a simple enough album cover to replicate. Anything but - you have no idea how many times this was started, re-started, scrapped and started again. In the end multiple save points allowed me to roll back only the most recent changes. It was the only way it was ever going to get done.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

When I look back at all the crap I learned in high school..

Every Monday evening I pick up a couple of iced buns from the local shop, get on the bike and head over to Granny Ambassador's where we discuss the latest goings on in the lives of her batty old friends over a cup of tea.

My route always takes me down Davitt Road, along the Grand Canal, and through the sweeping right turn onto Dolphin Road (see the map above - drawn using MS Paint naturally*).

Due to the angle at which the roads meet, it is possible to come through the junction at speed (possibly as a result of putting the hammer down to make the lights) without the need to worry about running wide and becoming over-acquainted with the sturdy oak trees lining Dolphin road. A quick counter steer of the handle bars, shift your weight over to right hand side of the bike and she glides quickly and smoothly through the bend.

Last week, while travelling in the car, I found myself coming through the same junction a little on the fast side. I quickly learned an important lesson in physics (one I don't remember Mr. Meany ever covering during my leaving cert years):

The turning force generated by shifting your bodyweight about a vehicle is inversely proportional to the weight and speed of the vehicle on/in which you are travelling.
I did briefly consider opening the drivers door and hanging my arse out - if only for comic value - but, realising it wouldn't have the desired effect (and would probably result in a nasty bout of road rash), I resorted instead to more conventional methods -panicking, braking hard and frantically turning the steering wheel - to help me negotiate the turn.

Having (just about) navigated the turn I continued on my way at a more sedate pace - and extremely glad I had chosen to wear my brown jeans that evening.

* May not be true

I don't get those pop and idol shows...

I don't get those pop and idol shows
Everybody knows that the good things take a little longer

Myself and the CPF are off to see the very good (wonderful actually) thing that is Duke Special in Dublin's Olympia Theatre this evening.

Can't. Wait.

Monday 24 November 2008

I'll tell you the setup for the worst joke ever...

My grandfather spent some time in hospital recently. During his stay he was told he needed a pacemaker. Ironically, it was the pacemaker that finally killed him.

The man was 92, I don't know how they expected him to keep up with the little Kenyan fucker.

So goes one of my favourite one liners.

Chatting to a friend while out for a few drinks last week, the following conversation ensued.

E: Something happened during the week that reminded me of that joke you do about your grandfather in hospital.

TBA: Oh?

E: I love that gag. Totally didn't see the punchline coming first time I heard it.

TBA: Well it helps if you don't telegraph it too much.

E: Anyway, I told the missus during the week... hated it. I don't think she even got it.

TBA: [on a wind up] Ah I'd say you told it arseways. Its all in the delivery.

E: No I told it perfectly - exactly the same way you do.

TBA: Oh? Maybe your timing was off. Let's hear it then.

E: Right so...
My grandfather spent some time in hospital recently. During his stay he was told he would need a triple by-pass. Ironically, that's what finally killed him. The man was 92, I don't know how they expected him to keep up with the little Kenyan fucker.

TBA: Seems fine alright.... I guess everybody's sense of humour is a little different.

Friday 21 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #23

I got back to the embassy a shade the wrong side of 4am last night/this morning.

A good night was had by all - but right now I am still a little sleepy, the spin in on the bike having blown most of the cobwebs away.

Right - lets get this over with so SW can get back to work.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Did ya get healed?

Last July the Supreme Court struck down the controversial risk equalisation scheme which forced other health insurers to compensate the VHI for covering older, more costly subscribers under its community rating system.

Naturally, this led to fears that older people would, at best, face soaring premiums or, at worst, be refused cover.

Yesterday the government attempted to assuage these fears by announcing plans to provide €300 million in tax relief which will effectively subsidise the cost of health insurance subscriptions for people over the age of 50. A levy of €160 per adult subscriber and € 53 for each child will be imposed on all health insurance companies to fund the proposed relief.

Today's Irish Times covers the story and, Minister for Death, Mary Harney's comments:

"We believe that there is a lot of scope for the companies to subsume some of this, if not all of it," she said. The Minister said that in a very competitive market the health insurance companies would be able to compete not just for younger people but for older customers. "It will make older customers attractive."


That's the kind of health service we need - something that's a cross between Casualty and How to Look Good Naked.

Roll on the foxy pensioners - still no foxy nuns though.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

You should've kept your mouth shut

Liverpool footballer Yossi Benayoun has hinted he is beginning to get fed up with his lack of playing time at Anfield.

In a piece carried in today's Telgraph, the Israel international suggests he may leave Liverpool in search of more regular first team football.

Among a series of quotes attributed to Benayoun is this little gem...

The fact that I have spent so much time on the bench, while there has been a winning formula on the pitch, tells you everything

Not exactly doing yourself any favours there matey!

Got a gun, 'fact I got two...

In light of the public outrage following the tragic death of Shane Geoghegan, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has indicated his intention to introduce a ban on handguns as part of the fight against gangland crime.

Yep , that oughta do it.

If there is one thing we know about our numerous crime gangs (who murder indiscriminately with apparent impunity) it is that they are meticulous in ensuring their hand guns and automatic weapons are sourced, paid for and registered through the proper legal channels.

Perhaps a blanket ban is a bit much though - all they really need to do is add the following questions to the registration/application form (I presume there is one):

Name: _____________________

Gang: ______________________

Paul Williams Assigned Gangland Nickname: ______________________

Reason for Purchase (delete as appropriate):
.....New gang member
.....Threw last gun in Shannon after murder of innocent ballet dancer
.....To wield 2 guns at once so I look cool like the guy in 'Desperado'.
.....In case I ever meet Pat Kenny/Barry Egan/Gavin Lambe Murphy.

If 'Pat Kenny' option: Do you promise to make his death as slow and painful as possible: ______

Can you say "kneejerk reaction" children?

Tuesday 18 November 2008

A working class hero is something to be...

Yesterday evening, with my asthma acting up, I maturely opted against making matters worse by playing indoor football. Instead, I stayed home and finally had a chance to catch an entire episode of "The Apprentice".

While modestly entertaining, something was not quite right. It might have the same title. It might operate on the same premise, with the same smug, over confident contestants and the same challenge-based format - but something is missing. The contestants lack the vicious, back stabbing, dog-eat-dog, win-at-all costs attitude of their American and English counterparts.

Let's face it, the only thing viewers of The Apprentice are really want to see are the boardroom confrontations at the end of each episode. They expect to see contestants fight tooth and nail to stay in the competition - justifying decisions, hanging fellow competitors out to dry, laying blame, pointing fingers and explaining poor performances.

In contrast, the contestants in the Irish version appear meek and apologetic. One would almost think their sole aim was to avoid offending anybody rather than landing the plum job with an equally plum salary. Each of Dr. Bill's criticisms is met with an "absolutely" or "I agree 100%" - there is no effort to explain their own point of view. Mistakes are admitted too readily and hands are too often held up in contrition.

Last night, after one of the contestants had dug himself into a hole by first agreeing with Dr. Bills opinion that his performance was pathetic (absolutely!) and then by admitting some of his decision making hadn't been the brightest, a fellow competitor attempted to dig him back out by mentioning how well he had worked.

Somebody should really explain that idea of the show is not to talk themselves out of a job.

You have to wonder if in a regular job interview, upon being asked...

What would you say is your greatest weakness?

these monkey's wouldn't reply

The drink... definitely the drink.

And dat, as dey say, is dat!

Friday 14 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #22

3....2....1.... Go!

If you're happy and you know it...

According to the latest Irish Times /TNS mrbi poll, 18% of people are currently satisfied with the performance of the government while 27% of people are satisfied with the performance of Fianna Fáil.

Although 18% may sound like a low approval rating, it means that just over 1 in 5 people think the government are doing a perfectly adequate job. Look around you - if this poll is to be believed, every 5th or 6th person you see thinks that:

  • Removing the automatic entitlement of over 70s to a medical card
  • Putting the lives of young girls at risk by halting the roll-out of a cervical cancer vaccine which has been shown to be cost effective - all for the sake of a measly €10 million
  • Withdrawing funding for remedial and special needs teachers and, at the same time, increasing class sizes to among the highest in Europe
  • Delivering an almighty clusterfuck of a budget.
  • Failing to address the bloated, expensive public sector - particularly the large administrative contingents in those departments worst hit by the cuts.
  • Putting the taxpayer in hock to bail out banks who found themselves in a precarious position due reckless lending practices.
  • Proposing a scheme to prop up wealthy builders/developers who, thanks to their myopic greed, are left with with projects they can't finish and units they can't sell
  • Having presided over the greatest economic boom the country has known, failed to set aside any funds for when the inevitable downturn finally came.
... is all in a good day's work.

Why is this number so high?

Exactly how many bankers, builders and members of the Cowen/Harney/Lenihan/Hannifin/Coughlan families were included in the sample population?

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Takin' Care Of Business

"The Man" is sending a man from the good ol' US of A on a whistle stop tour of Globex Corp's european operations. At each location the big kahuna will speak to employees about different aspects of the business and the strategy for handling the current economic climate. I'd like to think he will also glad hand well-wishers and kiss babies.

The news of his planned visit sparked a flurry of activity in the office last week.

The red carpet was sent to the dry cleaners, the fine china was polished to within an inch of its life and the stack of questionable reading material (your OK and Hello magazines of course) have been thrown out.

It is now impossible to walk past the office manager without her spitting on a tissue and giving your face a quick wipe.

It also spawned the following email....

Hank Scorpio*, Global President [and glorious leader] of Globex Corp, will be visiting the Dublin office...In order that our office looks well, B and I will initiate an office tidy. Specifically, we want all surfaces and tops of cabinets and presses to be cleared of clutter. As this also includes desks which may be currently uninhabited, please look around your division's area. For paper to be dumped, use the bin for shredding and recycling, beside the printer.Boxes may be stacked up near the exit for the cleaners to take away. Anything left lying around is likely to be binned.. Press doors should be kept closed, especially the paper press beside the printers.

It goes without saying that the kitchen needs to be kept tidy, so as ever, please stack dishes and cutlery in the dishwasher, not in the sink or on the work top.If you have cereal boxes stored on the top of the presses, please find somewhere out of sight to keep them. Please check around the area you are working to make the job easier for those concerned. In our own interests, it is important that we create a good impression next week.

Clearly in the current economic climate, it is natural to be a little edgy when it comes to the whole aspect of job security. Surely this clean up is going a bit far however - even for the small consultancy services arm of a larger indigenous parent company which was recently consumed by a multinational hardware distributor. (I'm sure people expect Mr. Scorpio to enter the building with a large stack of P45s under he arm.)

If anything we should be making the place and ourselves look a bit messier. By discarding pizza boxes about the place and not shaving for a few days we could make it appear as though we don't have a second to spare because we are insanely busy and essential to the smooth operation of Globex Corp. By being excessively neat, tidy and organised we are creating an impression of a workforce with time on our hands.

Cleanliness may be next to godliness but I doubt it is going to save any jobs - unless you work in sanitation. (Which we don't). I can see it now - back in the oak-panelled boardroom on the mothership:

We knew this day was coming gentlemen - the credit crunch has reached Globex Corp. We need to shed some weight.

How about the Atkins diet? I've heard that's good.

I wasn't talking about us as individuals- obviously we will continue to earn obscene salaries and enjoy massive perks - I was referring to the company. The company needs to save money. Jobs will have to go.

How about those snooty Europeans. Always looking down on us with their culture and food and... and.... their history.

I like where you're going with this. How about that Irish consulting company? We never offered any consultancy services before they came bundled with that other company we bought. Why don't we cut the little leprechauns with their freckly leprechaun heads loose.

Oh... wait...I was in their office last year. It was very clean.

Cereal boxes?

Nowhere in sight!

The French then?

*Not his real name.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Has anybody here seen my friend Bobby?

Apparently, in 1968 Robert F. Kennedy said

There's no question that in the next thirty or forty years, a Negro can also achieve the same position that my brother has as President of the United States, certainly within that period of time.

I bet he wishes he'd stuck $20 on that....

....and not been shot.

I thought I saw him walk up over the hill with Abraham, Martin and John

Monday 10 November 2008

My friend works for the national health...

Dr. S and I were already in situ on 2 barstools in Neary's on Saturday evening when GW, coat collar pulled up against the night, and the ever charming P arrived.

About 2 weeks ago GW decided to begin cultivating a beard. When Dr. S and I had seen him the previous week he was sporting about 10 days growth and looked like a man who might at any moment form a Republic of Loose tribute band (or whip a bottle of Buckfast from beneath his coat).

Dr. S, an easily excitable type at the best of times, was clearly amazed at the development of GW's facial hair. Stopping just short of stroking it lovingly he marvelled at its virile bushiness.

"Wow!" he gasped (with the amazement of a child who has just had a €2 coin extracted from their ear), "its gotten so long and bushy. Its much thicker than when we last saw it".

"Did they not teach you this stuff in medical school?" asked GW "or were you just sick that day?"

The movie will begin in 5 moments...

I learned two things this weekend:

Thanks to years of listening to Gift Grub on Today FM, I am incapable of sitting in a cinema without saying "In fact ah...." when the Irish National Federation Against Copyright Theft (INFACT) notice is displayed. (I doubt I'm the only one)

It is a more difficult than you might think to pee standing up while wearing a crash helmet.

Friday 7 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #21

I recently read Jack McCallum's outstanding "Seven Seconds or Less" - a fly-on-the-wall account of a season the Sports Illustrated journalist spent with the Mike D'Antoni coached Phoenix Suns basketball team.

Like all NBA coaches, D'Antoni diligently prepared his team with a meticulous, attention to detail. Hours of video footage were watched and analysed. Training sessions were tailored to suit their next opponents. Strategies were drawn up and discussed. Finally, each player was given a 10-page dossier highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of their opposite number.

Yes despite this, D'antoni firmly believed that his players shouldn't be overly concerned with strategy and tactics, arguing that a player's natural talent was more important, particularly when it came to adapting to the fluid nature of the game. To this end, at the top of the third page in each and every dossier was the line "If you get this far, come see me".

Nobody ever came - the players trusted their own abilities (and those of their team mates) preferring instead to just get on with the game.

I wonder if the album cover preambles are in some way similar. Do you cut straight to the chase in an effort to beat sheepworrier to the punch.

This week's album cover is another easy-peasy classic. I had some trouble with the nose as usual. However, although it may not match that on the original cover, I'm sure it was right at some moment in time.

Thursday 6 November 2008

...Crazy for tryin'

If I'm destined to get nothing done today, I think it is only fair that everybody else should find themselves in same boat!

All you have to do is click on the ball.

Monday 3 November 2008

Country Feedback

On Friday evening we paid a visit to Kildare to see the CPF's highly strung sister and her delightful children (aged 4 and 7½).

The adults sipped wine and chatted about adulty things while the children and your intrepid Ambassador plonked themselves cross-legged on the floor surrounded by numerous toys and a veritable EU mountain of sticky, gooey treats (the swag from their trick-or-treating expedition) .

The highlight of my evening was showing my four year old nearly-nephew how his Spiderman walkie-talkies could be used to generate eardrum-busting, rock-star-like feedback. Needless to say I was the recipient of some choice text messages on Saturday morning!

I'll take the blame on that score... but somebody else must have taught him to kick the coffee table over before smashing his Fisher Price guitar through the Hi-Fi's speakers!

(Apparently they also found his Little Tykes Coupe had been crashed into the paddling pool)