Sunday, 1 March 2015

Fair play Frampton says I

Let me begin by saying,
I do not know much about boxing. 
And what I know,it was taught by Stallone.
But let me continue by saying, 
right now, atm
I am quite drunk, 
but only quite. 
that I applaud the aforementioned man, 
the athlete, 
boxer, the 
and the

For a man to have grown up in the Tiger Bay area of Belfast 
and then 
to box for Ireland,
is in itself, 
highly commendable, i dare say Titanic.
(here here,...say we)
but to do so and then turn professional, 
"continue to transcend traditional barriers,"
THIS, this demands real admiration.
As a new World Champion, 
Carl Frampton has seized this admiration as the 
of a dual citizenship. 
He is Irish and he is British, 
but for many, 
it does not matter. 
And this is significant "in itself." 
I watched the fight with some fellow team members and, 
as part of our night of 'team bonding' 
we enjoyed the fight in an evening of glum-alcoholic revelry-
and at no point were the issues of religion, political affiliation or nationality ever raised-
It was the perfect example of a "post-Irish Nationalist" agenda.
It cannot be denied that to support someone solely because of their geographical closeness to oneself; as in Framptom's case,
as a Belfast lad born and bred; 
is a nationalist act, as represented by the crowds in Enniskillen 
tonight cheering on the Tiger Bay Belfast boxer. 
Yet it more importantly displays the new-found fact that to support such a figure is not an exclusive activity. 
The hands of neither side were tied when attempting to clap and cheer for the newly crowned 
IBF super-bantamweight Champion of the world. 
He is, undoubtedly, a uniter
A Northern Irishman; 
A Briton: 
and an Irishman. 
One man for many, let us say;
and let them squabble and try and claim him
An Irish Murray to be had?
As long a they let him remain as he is,
transcendental figure. 
Such ambiguity is needed, athink,
just now, 
and if that ambiguity be represented 
by Barry McGuigan's 'chosen' flag
all the better. 
or the nationality of a Belfast Boxer, 
The untainted messiah will never come.
Better the ambiguity accepted in sport, 
than a bloody confusion.
Hail to the unknown and trusted flag.
I like her, anyway.

Here Here. 
Listen, and
Raise a glass...
Slánte, says he. 
Agus, comhghairdeas. Says I. 
On repeat.
Ní mhaireann tú ach aon uair amhaoín,
 say they.
Them, I Don't 
Fuckin' white, Gold, bLUE bLACK. A Rhetoric stolen, trivialised and militarised.
At least fists will not lie.
Says I.

And remember, right now, I'm actually quite drunk.

Imagine what I could write, 

and me sober.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

"Yes! We're all [Irish] individuals"

"How 'Irish' are ewe though?"
As someone who was born on the island of Ireland in the 'country' U.K, who straddles the border travelling from Fermanagh to Dublin on a weekly basis, studies English in Ireland's foremost English-founded Irish University, plays hurling, eats potatoes and not much else, studied the Irish language in the British education system, likes traditional Irish music, enjoys a solid pint of stout (owned by French company) and, with numerous pints on board, will break into songs of old Ireland and past heroes and old triangles and the like, I find the topic of Irishness comes up a lot on a day to day basis.

I'm not going to go too deep into it here, as I believe I have already written a couple of years ago in Identity Crisis it made my head hurt then, and not much has changed. But I would like to point out a particular strain of Irishness spearheaded by sites like Look at these:

The first is a story where "Successful Irish Musician tweets about crisps unsuccessful Irish people also eat," the second may as well be called "do we all like tea? yes we do, we're Irish after all," and the third is not even worthy to be called clickbait. I mean I like tea, crisps and Father Ted as much as the next man (or woman) and, people who know me might even find this post hypocritical, but they do not define me individually, I can't believe I just wrote that but it has to be done, nor are they necessary components of Irishness (although Father Ted may be an exception). Sites like have combined Irishness with Lad culture and found a winning formula, where everyone joins in on the jokes best summed up in the video below. Yet there is nothing clever or subversive and therefore nothing Irish about a humour that turns everyone into backwards, nostalgic sheep, at least not pertaining to the idea of Irish humour which I hold dear. 

Friday, 30 January 2015

Some thoughts on 'Boyhood'.

 - When I was just a baby boy myself -
This is not a review. I am no more qualified to act as a film cricket, but I did go to see Oscar-favourite film Boyhood which is being re-shown in cinemas thanks to the buzz generated from the Best Picture nomination and now I want to discuss it briefly...

For what it's worth, I thought it was brilliant. I went in with high expectations, which meant I couldn't but be both analytical and critical, but try as I might, I couldn't be cynical. Boyhood met my cynicism head on and won. In case you don't know, the movie's novelty comes from the fact that it was shot over twelve years, so the audience can view the actors growing older in real time. This avoids the use of prosthetics or make up which for me, no matter how accomplished, often require a suspension of disbelief which I invariably find somewhat jarring. It made me realise just how disconcerting I find the aging process on a very basic level, an experience akin to looking back at old photographs of myself and feeling slightly uncomfortable at the familiar yet forgotten face staring back at me or meeting up with the cousins after a substantial period of time an seeing how faces have stretched, expanded and even sprouted hairs or metal accouterments trying to pass as jewelry. I suppose this is a very human thing - unless its just me - all part of our aversion to growing old and hobbling towards death. The film is in fact remarkable for its (SPOILERS) lack of death. Although there are elements of tragedy present, the film is largely optimistic to the extent that it seemed too good to be true. I found myself struck with an unwavering sense of dread every time a character got into a car, crossed the road or was in an alcohol or drug-fueled environment. But I suppose it is more true to life to have a film where everything ends up OK in the end. Of course bad things happen but memories only last so long and new surprises and, perhaps most importantly, new people are just around the corner. This strikes me as an almost corny suggestion, yet still a refreshing one; we are so conditioned by the constant bombardments of narratives, fictional and factual, that we are always waiting for the 'event' or the big twist. 

Boyhood, is special because nothing happens, and everything fills the void. As a young man is shaped before our eyes, we (well me anyway) follow his journey and the pace allows for plenty of self-reflection and contemplation. I would challenge anyone not to see something of themselves up on the big screen. For some this could be seen as a slamming indictment of how formulaic our Western lives have become, so that they can all boil down to a set of milestones acting as a leveller when we strip away the idea that we are each our own special little snowflake, and the idea did cross my mind, but I prefer to latch on to the optimism of the movie. We have a shared experience but we are all constantly changing, and not at the same rate or in the same direction. I felt myself change on some minuscule level while watching the changes that had already happened to me played out before me. 

The comedy in the film has also stayed with me. There were no traditional 'jokes', as I saw it, scattered throughout to add some levity and in turn heighten the drama or tragedy, yet there were undeniably funny moments. I'd say this was due to the peculiar kind of humour that derives from familiarity. I have always thought that the best comedian would be the one who could do a specialised impression of the mother, father, teacher or significant other of everyone in the audience simultaneously. Everyone would be in stitches because the comedian had tapped into the familiar, in the way an observational comedian would try to do. In Boyhood, this familiarity is built and developed from the off so that the comedy is natural, as it would be with your friends or family.

Finally, the ending was perfect: full of optimism, potential and possibilities and it gave me a new reason to listen to Deep Blue by Arcade Fire again. My reaction to the end of the movie was not dissimilar to that of Interstellar, though the scale of the two movies is certainly vastly different, I felt overwhelmed by both. In Boyhood, I had watched an entire era in just three hours, and by the end I was glad to part of that world, and I walked home through the Dublin rain thinking about me own era in a sloppiliy sentimental way that I just don't do very often, and maybe I should, and maybe I will.

- Joe

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

General Election 2015: Should I really care?

The UK will hold a General Election on 7th May 2015 and the campaigns have begun in earnest. For me, it will be my second opportunity to vote and my first chance to vote in a General Election, having already voted in the local and European elections of 2014. My first vote was something I was really looking forward to, and I actually enjoyed it, so much so that I wanted to do it again, but, as I understand it, an election is not like a water slide, there are no second chances. 


By the arrival of the polling day last year, it had seemed like a age since I turned 18, it was actually over a year and a half, though this was exaggerated and exasperated by the fact that I have been watching election nights keenly since I the age of 15 at least. I have felt myself to be both opinionated and informed enough since way back then (perhaps the lowering of the voting age may be a topic for a future blog post) and thus actually putting pen to ballot paper was a moment for which I had waited far too long. 

So I voted, for whom exactly? I will not reveal to you on the whispering, gossiping forum that is the internet. And yet, that election which would traditionally be seen as a less important, a precursor to the big one that is the General Election, may well have been more significant than the one on the horizon, for me anyway. It was the first election to the newly re-drawn Fermanagh and Omagh district council, and the European elections also threw up some potentially interesting dynamics with the candidacies of Anna Lo for Alliance and Jim Allister for the TUV, not to mention the interesting possibilities of further inroads for Sinn Féin on both sides of the border.

As for 2015, what's in it for me Even if the vote provides a minor thrill in Fermanagh-South Tyrone as it did in 2010 with just 4 votes proving the decisive margin for Michelle Gildernew, it will still be a tribal election resulting in one-upmanship whatever the outcome. The choice will be between the abstentionist incumbent from Sinn Féin, someone from the SDLP (Maybe Frank Mitchell, if their criteria from 2010 is anything to go by), a DUP and a UUP candidate (possibly just one ironically entitled 'unity' prospect from the two parties) and others who frankly won't make it near the post in this race; from the TUV, Alliance, a Socialist perhaps and maybe even a UKIPper. Im not a Unionist by the way, I will say that much, so that rather limits my options on any day. Also, UKIP lack any kind of significant presence in the North so are unlikely to feature prominently at all and even if they do choose to run, they'll more than likely damage the Unionist vote rather than the nationalist. So that means we miss out on any of the craic going on in Britain with UKIP and Al Murray and them (non-Republican) Greens and all that there. 

While I will of course exercise my right to vote, I do wonder if, in this election at least, there is any real point at all. My vote will not impact the next government to rule over Fermanagh from London.
(Unless an NI party should hold the balance of power: since Sinn Féin don't take their seats and the Unionist parties cuddle up to the Conservatives anyway, that would realistically leave the SDLP as the only potential party to be courted by a coalition partner or partners) I can not vote Labour or Lib Dem if I wanted since they don't contest the election directly though I could arguably vote conservative via the Ulster Unionists. Thus, in this General Election, it seems the broad strokes of representation are so general that they will manage to miss little old me in my home on the Lough Erne island of Inishmore, and perhaps, that is fitting.

I live in Dublin for at least 4 days every week, coming home to be fed and to hurl so, you may soundly suggest, I don't even live there, why would I want to care about the election in the UK? Well I do, partly because I am interested in its outcome generally, and partly because it may well affect my life, in fact it will. If the UK leaves the EU for example, what would it mean for me as someone who travels from the North to the Republic on a weekly basis for my education? Or if a Conservative government with its own majority was to allow fracking to go ahead in Fermanagh, what would that mean for me and my family living and farming in the county? Or simply as a young person looking for employment once I leave college during the next government's term, will my vote let me choose between austerity and investment? Arguably not. The validity and gravity of my concerns will, as I see it, be decided the forthcoming election, so it seems I will have a vote, but a vote without a say.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

It's a bit like a "self-eating cake"

Last week I commented, for the first time ever, below an article on, a website I frequent and enjoy on daily basis. The article in question was entitled, "Here’s what people thought of TV3′s crime documentary about Limerick." Now I have never been to Limerick, nor did I watch the documentary referred to, but this is not about Limerick, step away from the Limerick. This is what I said in my comment:

"Do a handful of tweets about a tv programme now constitute news? What if someone retweets this article and that tweet winds up on a similar tweet-based article which is then retweeted and featured in an article and further retweeted and then if the cycle was to repeat itself over and over again to the point that someone somewhere, possibly even TV3, were to make a programme or a feature about it and then people tweeted about that! AND then an article surfaced on that told everyone about the reaction to that televisual feast. What then? I ask you, what then?"

Funny? Right? Witty? You know it! ... Incisive? Perhaps. I was trying to point out the pointlessness of such an article as well as the self-congratulatory relationship between the news, internet, social media and television. This type of article is all to common, a similar version appeared following TV programmes such as Love/Hate and the recent Charlie series, both on RTÉ. I actually have less of a problem with these given that they were presented differently as a handful of entertaining responses to what are essentially programmes that exist for our entertainment. When the programme at the centre of the article is something more factual, or to do with current affairs then presenting the piece as an all encompassing "what people thought," rather than "what some people thought," or "what some people who use twitter thought," is irresponsible, misleading, and frankly, does not constitute news. It was always predicted that twitter would gradually progress from reporting the news to becoming the news in and of itself as well, and this cannot be disputed when you see celebrity tweets or who they have followed or unfollowed being reported as significant news, both online and in print. As the title of this blogpost suggests, it's a bit like a "self-eating cake" to borrow one of Nicola Murray's phrases from The Thick of It. 

This same smugness and inter-dependence can be further seen in reality television which is more regurgitating itself rather than eating itself, with homogeneous "reality stars" moving from one show to the next, showing their face (or more), saying something stupid or offensive and thereby building their profile, so that they can be recognised as celebrities, though there may be little worth celebrating. Of course, this suits the tabloid papers and the internet just fine, as they can report on reality stars and their "juicy" lives instead of reality. 

Yet even the more so-called highbrow or intellectual programmes are not above this. Look at the celebrated Steven Moffat institutions of Sherlock and Doctor Who, for example, which have become sickeningly self-referential and deferetial towards their fanbase, the internet's reaction and the zeitgeist as a whole. The former incorporating the hashtag #sherlocklives into the show as well as dedicating an entire episode to provoking reaction from the internet through alternative and ultimately inconclusive get-out-clauses explaining how the titular character faked his own death. And as for Doctor Who, well, "Spoilers."

Is this a harmless trend, a demonstration of the widespread inter-connectivity thanks to the rise of social media, or is it something more worrying. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno in their essay "The Culture Industry as Mass Deception" may have highlighted and predicted this issue when they wrote, "The attitude of the public,
which ostensibly and actually favors the system of the culture industry, is a part of the system and not an excuse for it." The "attitude of the public" now exists in the form of social media and has become an integral part of the culture insustry. Is it any wonder then, following a huge economic crisis which no other ideology would have survived, the people have barely stirred and capitalism endures, as they say, "The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger." Dun. Dun. Dunnnn. (In short, blame all on Celebrity Big Brother and Limerick)

A journal piece about TV3
Led me towards the culture Industry
For problems with the internet
I blamed Steven Moffat
And became a Marxist revolutionary.


Here's a link to THAT journal article:

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Poetry, arguably.

As my first non-disclaimery post of 2015, I would like to show you these; some poems I wrote in a lecture about fables. Here they are:

The Elephant Lion

The Elephant Lion
Dare never roar,
Each time he does, 
His ears become sore.

The Lion Elephant

The Lion Elephant 
A muzzle wears, 
For when he is hungry
His trunk he tears.

Sin é,


Here we (I) go again

A message from the author, that would be me, Joe.

This blog, that I own and which is mine, first appeared in April 2012, almost three years ago. I still like the name, but I've elected to remove all of the 28 previous posts, at least until I give them a read-through and make sure I didn't write anything I shouldn't have way back in my 'wild' days, but I don't think any of it was too stupid or too incriminating so it should reappear shortly.

Anyway, I'm going to start writing/blogging again, as much as I can and I'll see where it takes me. A daily entry would be a real achievement but I reckon weekly would be more realistic. I realise I am pretty much just one voice trying to assert itself in the cacophony of shouting and traffic and vines and tweets and webs and pages and sites and trolls and bugs and spam and hacktivists and terrorists and journalists and the NSA (hey guys!), but the point of this is to practice writing, so I may as well bail on regardless. Also, I wanted to start writing a diary in the new year, and I started, but then I missed a week (one out of two ain't bad), and I couldn't bear the thought of continuing the diary with the constant reminder of my failure manifest in that empty, entry-less week, which doubtless would've puzzled scholars for centuries as they tried to figure out exactly what I did for those seven mysterious, undocumented days, so I'm going to return to this blog as a slightly different reminder of defeat, but a reminder of defeat that comes with a cool selection of fonts. 

"I could do with a couple of bottles of stout" - I haven't been out or had any alcoholic drinks since Friday the second of January (2015), twelve odd days, and as I began to read my first book of this term, Jennifer Johnston's Shadows on our Skin, this line within the first ten pages both taunted me and summed up my mood at present. I'd really like a pint of shtout. I plan to go off it indefinitely, however, so that may well become a recurrent feature of the blog posts to come.

2015 - I like the number, I've got a good feeling about it, all the better for this thing then, maybe I'll have something interesting to write about.

Slán go fóill and over and out,