The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.

Anal Beads

Part 2 of the Instagram Sessions, coming to you live from a secret location in Chelsea. Today, I delve into the history of a topic brought to my attention by a delinquent friend of mine, who I will not name today. Amidst all the lovely suggestions of writing about beer, Doon G.A.A. and mental health, a certain someone suggested writing about anal beads. I originally planned to have the title in all caps and just write “NO”, under the heading and that would be it. I’d get a laugh out of it and maybe others would get a cheap laugh too. I’ve since thought about it and yes, I will write your post. I’ll play your silly game by my rules.

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This reporter is delighted to bring you an exclusive story fresh from the international creative scene. The American National Artist Liaison, founded in 1975 by Hugh Jass, has announced a partnership with Binge Eating and Excessive Drinking Session ltd, founded in 1993 by Richard ‘Dick’ Butt. The aim of this partnership is to send artists from ANAL to the European headquarters of BEEDS in Dublin to examine the Irish relationship to excessive drinking, binge eating and then drinking again to get over the fear. ANAL and BEEDS have flirted in the past with regards to a similar venture but this time there was no pussyfooting around. Straight in, as Hugh Jass said at the press conference in Anus, France.
“We don’t want to be behind the times,” said Dick Butt. “We want to dive straight in, as Hugh just said, but gently. It’s not like starting a lawnmower. You have to be gentle with the Irish lads, or the beeds as I call them. They might have severe cases of the fear or man flu, and we feel deep in our guts that the artists from America can showcase the plight of the Irish male and his need to binge eat and drink.”
“We are setting up centres for the artists all over Ireland and America. Muff, Co. Donegal and Slickpoo, Idaho, will be our two main thought-centric and idea-haven places where the artists and subjects can get together and really get to the bottom of what’s going on with us males.”
“We’re really excited about this,” continued Jass. “When I made Dick my no.2 on this project I had a feeling that it would all go well. We know that it sounds outlandish. I mean, when you think of the two companies, do you really think anyone will volunteer for this project. Surprisingly, many people did, even outside the businesses. The two main centers in Muff and Slickpoo, as well as numerous support centres in other towns in the two countries, will host hundreds of Irish males in the throes of the fear, as well as artists from across the states who will be attempting to depict our unique ability to soldier on through the fear and the gut you accumulate from a day’s drink, only to do it all again.”

The project will officially be launched in Poo in Spain, allowing the artists and the subjects one last session to tear the arse out of it, but gently.

This has been Cian Dalton, reporting for Rambling House News, on the ANAL BEEDS partnership of 2069. Slan go foill.

Big Brother is Watching

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Looking back on a wonderful year (so far), I can reveal that I have almost no regrets. I’ve had my fair share of fun, visited places I’ve never been, made new friends and caught up with old ones. The only regrets I do have are tied to social media and my tendency to forget to write back to people. I have a built-in function to receive a text, read it in full, process what I will say back to that person and then put the phone down and carry on with my life without completing the interaction. It’s happened so often that I jokingly say to myself, “Jaysus you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed onto you, hah! You forgetful prick! How can you treat people who want to interact with you like this? You’re going to be alone because everyone replies to each other and you don’t have the decency to even send a thumbs back. Why in the name of all that is good and holy do you even bother talking to people if you’re not going to message them back? I hate you! I can’t stand being your voice of reason because you won’t respond. You sicken me, and more than anything, I pity you. Go on now, go and watch Parks and Rec for the fourth time and forget to RSVP to your cousins’ birthday party.” In an unrelated note, my subconscious is a dick! Great singer, though.
The point is, social media and social sites have allowed us to keep in touch with what is happening in the world at any given moment. Not only that, we willingly give our personal data and money to sites that have publicly admitted to using our data illegally. We can also keep in touch with each other 24/7. Big Brother is watching, and so it seems is everyone else.

  • Snapchat allows us to see when messages are opened.
  • Instagram allows us to see when messages are seen.
  • Messenger allows us to see when people are online/read a message/are typing a response.
  • iMessage sends read receipts and shows when someone is typing.
  • Whatsapp shows two blue ticks when a message is read and allows you to see if that person is online.
  • Viber does the same thing.

These features are fantastic for a number of reasons.

  • Families can interact internationally without paying exorbitant amounts of money to call.
  • Group messages make planning nights out and events easier. The same can be said for projects in college.
  • Meme growth has never been higher! Send your memes now!
  • Catch ups with old friends has never been easier.
  • This is starting to sound like a click-bait ad.
  • Drunk message your ex: You won’t believe what will happen next!

While these are all fantastic upsides to instant contact around the world, we have lost an element of the past that I still hold dear, sometimes without even knowing what I am doing. There used to be a time when you could just say a rhyme and wouldn’t have to worry about one of your people dying….what the fuck just happened? I couldn’t stop the nostalgic flowback to Toy Soldiers. Spooky.
Anyways, before our time, people weren’t so accessible. The advent of smartphones and technology has made us slaves to our phones and slaves to acknowledgement. As soon as a message is sent to us it pops up on our screens. You can delay in replying or even opening it but not forever. Eventually you will have to read the full message and reply back that you will definitely be at the event, or let the person know when you will be in town next, even if you have no intention of doing so. That’s another aspect of instant gratification by way of smartphones. Ghosting and backing out at the last second has increased dramatically in the last few years because instead of agreeing to a time and place and showing up, you now have this handy little tool in your hand that you can send messages on mere hours or minutes before the event where you can back out. Fantastic.

The reason I am rambling on about this is because I am guilty of leaving people on read. I have done this wothout meaning to but I still feel bad afterwards. I feel bad because I have let a friend down and not contacted her when she was new to the city. I feel bad because I let another friend down and didn’t message him back for weeks. I let my cousin down by not letting her know I couldn’t make her son’s birthday party. I let myself down because it’s not polite to ignore people, whether it is intentional or not.
At the same time though, I value my space and if I don’t message you back right away just let me know. If I ignore you after constant messaging it is best just to leave me be. I’ve moved on.

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I’ve been called many things in this short life of mine. Handsome. Devilishly handsome. Stupidly handsome. Champion. Concierge extroardinaire. The King of Prussia. A poor man’s Prince Harry. A rich man’s Jesse Plemons. A premium athlete. Spartacus. Almost All-Star hurling wing-back of the Junior Shield competition in New York. The King of Prussia again. But to call me a bad texter and a bad friend would be erroneous. Please don’t be facetious when dealing with me. It borders on malevolence. I do truly apologise for the hurt I’ve caused over the years.

Austin, Texas.

Hear ye, hear ye! Throwback Thursday is upon us, and another tale of debaucherous depravity and wholesome bonding needs to be shared! Read this account of four glorious days in the sweltering Texas heat and laugh at stories of falling asleep where I shouldn’t have and Tom pantsing himself in a busy bar on sixth street.

At the beginning of the year, the lads and I would often find ourselves discussing where we would like to spend a vacation over the summer. We decided to go on a group holiday at some stage during the year, eventually settling for our friend John’s thirtieth birthday. With Brian also moving to San Fran just before the summer months, we thought somewhere hot, close to us both and most importantly, fun, would suffice.
Austin, Texas, would be our destination. I had a friend who lived in Austin for a year or two and everyone else had also heard good things. We got a group of ten of us to sign a blood pact that we would all definitely go. Two dropped out and mysteriously disappeared. Strange how things happen like that.
No, in all seriousness, a group of eight was perfect. We booked our flights, Tom booked the Air BnB and we spent the next few months talking about the craic that we were going to have in Texas.

As all good Irish citizens do, we went out the night before our early morning flight and got absolutely hammered. I stumbled back to the apartment at 4:30 AM Friday morning to find all the lads in either a state of unconsciousness or zombie-like packing. It wasn’t a pretty sight but we ordered an Uber and made the flight.
My hangover kicked in just as we entered Austin, so the first thing on the metaphorical menu and the only thing on the restaurant menu, was sandwiches and beers. After wolfing these down we made our way to our apartments that Tom had booked. A tip of the cap to Tom because the two rooms were unreal. All we were going to use the rooms for was for small reprieves from drinking. There was a pool in the complex right outside our doors. Our neighbors who sat outside their door observing the action were smoking weed so we knew they probably wouldn’t mind our excessive drinking and partying.
After a bite to eat at the Haymaker pub across the road and a dip in the pool along with multiple bottles and cans, we Uber’d our way to 6th street. The only way I can describe 6th street for any people from Cork who haven’t been to Austin is that it resembles Grand Parade and Washington St. on a weekend night. Except it is like this all the time. Madness. Carnage. Beautiful.
Despite our tired limbs and minds after over twenty four hours on the sesh, we soldiered on. I fell asleep outside some apartment block and awoke to a very angry man shouting down at me from his window to, “Move! We don’t like people sleeping on our sidewalk!” I never thought you did sir. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate. Please excuse me and have a wonderful night.
I somehow got back to the complex to find the door wouldn’t open, and I may have had some choice words for my dear friend James when he tried to tell me what the problem was. I apologise James. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate, and am a grumpy bastard when I am rudely awoken from my sidewalk slumber.

Saturday was a brilliant day. We all had a bit of sleep and crossed over to the Haymaker again for a bit of grub. From there we made our way to a gun range just outside the city. I had never been to one before and I don’t mind saying that even with all of the safety talks and assurances that once we respected the gun and the rules that everything would be O.K., as soon as I held one in my hand I was absolutely shitting myself. Not literally. There’s a code to uphold in these places and of course, the man code*, but I was apprehensive. We all took turns on the different firearms. For the life of me I can’t recall any of their names bar the Uzi. What I do remember is I didn’t have a bad shot. None of us did. We all came away with a bit more confidence in our shooting. All except for John. He knew what he was doing. I’m not being sound because it was his birthday trip, it’s just the truth. John turned the gun sideways, held it in one hand and put out a gangland hit on the head of the target. The next sheet came out and John shot him six times in the throat. That target had a fucking family John, and you couldn’t even give him an open casket.
6th street was the port of call again that night and it was epic. We were familiar with a few of the bars from the previous night and familiarised ourselves with a few more. In one such bar we were dancing with a group of girls. There was eight of us and five of them. Not to be crass, but the odds were looking good for us boys, even just to have a group of girls for drinking buddies for a portion of the night. Enter Tom. I have a few memories etched into my brain from the weekend but the one that sticks out the most is this. Our two groups had widened into a circle, letting one of us after the other enter the center and display our moves. Tom leaned into my ear and said “Will I take off my pants?”. I immediately responded no, and laughed it off, looking back at the group. Seconds later, almost as if in slow motion, Tom had strutted by me, taking his place in the centre and proceeded to drop his trousers. Never in my life had I been so surprised and it seems so too were the girls as they screamed and ran to the other end of the bar. No exaggeration. They literally screamed and ran away. Anyways, Tom is a legend.
Nobody fell asleep on any sidewalks. A stripclub was visited but nobody fell aleep there, thank God.

We booked a boat party for the Sunday afternoon. None of us packed enough sunscreen and we each came away with savage burns but it was worth it. Out in the depths of lake Austin we drank copious amounts of beer and flirted with the girls on the next boat over. We had our own boat for the eight of us driven by a lovely man whose name I can’t recall, but as we glided over the water and passed by extravagant houses, I knew we had made the right choice in coming to Austin.
We saw other boats in the distance and we blasted ‘Westmeath Bachelor’ by the late, great Joe Dolan as we neared them. I’m sure they thought a tribe of gypsies had commandeered a boat and were taking over.
‘2002’ by Anne-Marie and ‘Shotgun’ by George Ezra played on repeat the whole day. I often wake up in a cold sweat with the chorus of Shotgun reverberating around my skull. I haven’t slept properly in months.

Taking a break from 6th street, we chose Rainy street for our last night. I arrived late because the tiredness, a.k.a, booze, caught up with me and I took an impromptu nap. We had a great last night, made better by the fact that myself and John got the Uber driver to drive to a diner. We got some feed and he charged us a bomb!

As with any trip, it was a sombre last day. Brian went back to Cali, the rest of us went back to New York and I went straight to work. My prayers had evidently not been answered as the building was still standing and I had to work the night shift. That was a tough shift to work as I just wished that I was back soaking up the sun, smoking too many cigarettes and getting as drunk as could be with the lads. All the spectacular descriptive words couldn’t do that weekend justice. I’ll go for something simple, succint and true.

It was class.

*The man code is one article and it states that a man should never shit himself in public under any circumstances, unless he is a mouldy feen on the sauce hahaha, chalk it down keeeed.**

**Disclaimer: I have never shit myself on a night out. Rag week in 2013 came close, but that was due to undercooked chicken and four nights on the sesh.***

Whiskey: A Tribute

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Instagram to suggest me some topics to write about. I assured them that I would write about them all, and while I intend to keep that promise, there were a few outlandish ideas that I will have to leave stew for a while. A good friend of mine and fellow local beer connoisseur, Ultan, suggested whiskey. I knew this had to be my first one of the Instagram stories. Writing about dating, politics, mental health and other serious topics can wait. The golden brown elixir was the most serious of them all.

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My first experience with whiskey was probably much the same as most other Irish teenagers. Someone’s older brother or sister bought us cans and naggins in the offie and we drank them in fields or at house parties. While it was a chore to get to the field or the house party with alcohol undetected, they really were simpler times. You and your childhood friends were all getting horrendously drunk at the same time, often for the first time. Being drunk was just dizziness and absolutely everything being funny.
Bushing started out with naggins of Huzzar vodka and cans of Bulmers. After a while I started drinking naggins of Jack Daniels mixed with club orange. Someone said that would make it nice. The liary bastard.
After a few years, once we were all of legal age we would sometimes get a shot of Jack at the bar or possibly a Jack and Coke. We felt so grown up. Drinking whiskey at a bar! Oh, how sophisticated of us. What’s that? Cian’s getting sick with his head in the urinal on the night of his girlfriend’s eighteenth? What a mature young man.

I was actually put off whiskey for a while, not when I got sick in a urinal, surprisingly, but when my buddy Lar, in college, drank a shoulder of Queen Margot one night in the first few weeks of first year. I’ve never seen a man as drunk. Lar’s one of my best friends and that man can put away tens of pints and shots in a night but the whiskey awoke some drunken beast in him. If I still had the photos of what you did to that poor car, Lar! Hahahahaha, all jokes.
Funnily enough, Lar drank another shoulder of whiskey two years later and told me and the lads that he loves us, so there you see the beauty of the two-sided coin that is whiskey.

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It wasn’t until I was finished college and having no clue what to do with my life that I started having the odd Jack and Coke again. I was in a bit of a funk, perhaps and started going mad on the whiskey, then, eventually graduating to Jameson on the rocks. My brother will tell you, there were a few nights in the Old Oak on Oliver Plunkett street a few months before I moved here when I got a bit rowdy on the aul whiskeys. Arguing with and shouting at bartenders and bouncers, getting kicked out, only to go back in the next weekend and do it all again. I’m lucky I wasn’t beat up and down Cork city. I’m lucky I’m tall!
Again, I took a break from the whiskey. I wasn’t really ashamed of my actions because gosh darnit if they had just given me my drink then none of that would’ve happened. I did realise that I was drinking a bit much and that a break from whiskey and Cork might be a good idea. So I decided to move to Woodlawn! Hahahaha it’s like the geographical pot calling the kettle black.
I did go fairly wild there at the end of last summer. And I have continued to go wild since but less often, and I like to think with more dignity. I haven’t woken up in an ambulance or smashed my head off the ground after a night on the whiskey neats in a year. I’m genuinely proud of that.

Once I realised that it wasn’t whiskey’s fault and that I was culpable for my own actions, I went back on the golden sauce. I love a Tullamore Dew on the rocks when I’m off, and I have a few bottles of whiskey stored nearby my bed in case of emergency. I just love whiskey. It has been an on-off relationship but right now it is most definitely on.
I’m over Vodka. I’m over Jaegar. I’m over tequila. I’m definitely over Sambucca. I’m over rum and Captain Morgan’s and the like. I’m still very much in love with beers. I’ve drank em solid for the last eight years. I’ve drank all the other spirits for the same amount of time and the only one that I still have a place in my heart for is all the different types of whiskey.
So give me a Jack and Coke and a shot of Jamo on the side. Give me and Ultan two Tully Dews on the rocks there Charlie when you get a chance, please. I’ll try a scotch tonight sure, why not. Keep the Glenfidditch away from me, it costs an arm and a leg. One glass of Teachers, Midleton, what have you, won’t hurt. You’ll have your best nights, fights, dances and deep meaningful conversations on whiskey.

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In fact, legend has it that the Brazilian art of dance-fighting, Capoeira, was actually invented by a Corkman, Dessie Fitz, after he stumbled into a favela after a stag, drunk on Irish whiskey, and was stuck in limbo between a great dance and a great fight.

Thanks for having me, tip your bartenders, waitresses and your doormen! You’ve been fantastic!

Boston

A little bit of a throwback for this post. I’ve done a small bit of travelling in my time here and had plans to do some more. Pennsylvania and Nashville were also on my list, as was Washington D.C. to a lesser extent. But I’m happy with the places I did see and the people I got to visit. Travel broadens the mind. To be fair, I did a hell of a lot of drinking on these trips so my mind was probably numbed to all of the life changing experiences but I’ve had my fun, and that’s all that matters.

Back in April I went to visit my friend Katie in Boston. She lives in Cape Cod, in Hyannis. I left the night shift ten minutes early so I could catch a Greyhound Bus from Penn State. Thank God I took those extra minutes because the bus was delayed…for two hours. Greyhound, more like a slow coach….Am I right guys? Guys?
I rolled into South Boston Station after four hours, bleary eyed and crooked-knecked. The views of the city on the highway leading to the station were beautiful. I could see why many J1s and ex-pats choose to spend summers and lifetimes in this city. I was happy to get some fresh hair and after two long years, see my friend again. Katie is hilarious, kind and just a joy to be around. I knew that although my trip would be short, it would still be two days of fun.

We walked around for a while because Katie forgot where she had parked her car but that allowed me to see more of the different parts of the city. Wherever I travel I always love seeing the streets and avenues of a city. There could be a hidden gem anywhere or there could be a cool looking shop. Who knows? I may never be in this place again but I’ll have that little trinket of information in my brain for when I’m an old fart telling nonsense stories to whoever will listen. God help my poor future wife.
We found the car and went to eat. As most people know I’m a picky eater and din’t eat pizza properly until I was 20 years old. Oysters wouldn’t have crossed my mind as a possibility for me and if I had my way I would still not know the taste. Katie ordered some and kindly gave me one. If I was to describe it in a kind way it would be that oysters taste like salty snot sliding down your throat. So give them a shot.
We had a few pints around Boston and ended up in a bar near the street that Paul Revere galloped down when he warned the citizens of the impending British troops. I could almost see it in front of my eyes, the sweaty hands hanging on for dear life as he raced to alert his city about the Brits. Maybe that was the Harpoon IPAs talking. After a few more creamy pints we left the city and made for Cape Cod. We met her boyfriend, Shea, at an Asian restaurant where we drank Muay Thais and ate dumplings. Afterwards, we travelled back to Shea’s house and told his Alexa system to leave us alone. We might have been drunk. After smoking a bit of the funny grass I started to see shapes and got a bit paranoid. All in all, it was a good first day, even if if I had ended the night in a state of absolute paranoia. Don’t do drugs, kids.

The next day was a busy one. We had breakfast in a lovely cafe near Shea’s house. There was no real plan for the day, which is one of my favourite things about Katie. You can have little events that you will do but the rest of the day is up to you. We stopped by a convenience store, got a 12 pack of IPAs and hopped in the car with no destination in mind. It turned out to be my favourite part of the trip. We drove from the bottom of the Cape to the top, passing through or stopping in most of the towns that dot the map. We parked up near beaches and got out and took some pictures. In Barnstable County we stopped by an old lighthouse. I can’t really remember the names of all the places because I was hungover and as I said, had some IPAs to get me through the afternoon, but they were beautiful spots. At the top of the Cape we stopped in Provincetown for a pint and got to walk the beautiful, cobbled streets. The bar we were in was extrmely old and the wood had warped in the floor but it was nice and warm. Harpoon was my new drink of choice.
After a while we drove back down towards home and caught some of Katie’s friends in an improv comedy show. It was hilarious. I had never been to a show like it before and although the crowd was small, the laughs were big. We met some of the performers afterwards at a local bar before going home. Before drifting off to sleep, Lil’ Bow Wow’s movie, Like Mike came on the t.v. and Katie recited the whole of the theme song, Basketball. I was amazed and hammered.

The final day was uneventful. We got food, I got some t-shirts and hats to remind me of the trip and before long I was catching another greyhound bus back to Manhattan. The trip was over far too soon and I was disappointed I couldn’t get to stay longer. However, the buildings don’t mind themselves, and they need a shmuck like me to do the nightshifts and write blogs about places I’d rather be and people I’d rather be with. I would highly recommend the Cape (that’s what people who know the Cape call the Cape, just deal with it, and don’t @ me), and for any J1s or people looking to make money, go when it’s in season between May and October. There’s money to be made from the rich kids further up and there’s fun to be had all over the Cape.

Hallowe’en

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Happy Hallowe’en all! Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening, wherever ye may read this. Today is Halloween, a grand old Celtic tradition that made its way to North America in the wake of An Gorta Mor. It has other names too, such as All Hallow’s Eve, or All Saint’s Eve. This makes November 1st All Saint’s Day, a global celebration of the London girl group popular in the late 90s and early 00s, and also the long running Australian medical drama that aired in the early mornings and afternoons when I was in secondary school. Ah, great times. No, in all seriousness, All Saint’s Day is a feast of the rememberance of the saints. This makes Halloween the eve of the feast of saints and was a celebration of the dead, at least in Celtic culture.

The festival of Halloween came from the Irish Celtic festival ‘Samhain’, which means ‘summer’s end’, or ‘end of harvest’. Samhain brought about the darker half of the year, probably from mid October until mid April. The border between the human world and the spiritual world was very limited during these few days, meaning that the Aos Si, or faeries, were more active in our world. Old stories of the Aos Si would have been passed down from generation to generation, meaning people knew the powers they had. Offerings of food, drink and crops were left outside people’s houses so that their family would survive the winter.
From as early as the 16th century there are records of people dressing up, or ‘guising’, while going door to door and reciting verse for food. In the 18th century costumes and pranks began to appear in records in the U.K. In all likelihood these early guises were of the Aos Si, the faeries, and other mythical Celtic creatures. You wouldn’t find a sexy witch walking around the town reciting old poems for a bit of bread!
Halloween made its way to the land of the free in the wake of mass Irish and Scottish immigration in the 19th century. This emigration from Ireland was, of course as a result of the Famine. The Celtic tradition was introduced to the Americans and over the last 250 years has been made into a humongous commercial holiday in the States. The holiday is no longer solely about the celebration of the dead and the saints. It is now a combination of entertainment for kids, partying for adults and thrill seeking for horror fans.

I loved Halloween growing up. I loved the dressing up part of it and going trick or treating with my brothers and parents. It is magical as a child. Maybe not as magical as Christmas or your birthday, but it is a special day nonetheless. Going to the community hall in Rathpeacon to bob for apples and listen to scary stories was so much fun. Everyone was so proud of their costumes. Vampires, zombies and monsters would all be beaming up, the happiest group of undead you ever did see. If I remember correctly, a friend of mine dressed up as a mini Hitler one year for a competition in school. He looked the part. He did not win.
As we got older it obviously turned more social. Trick or treating with friends turned into a few naggins down the Gaa Woods or the tower road. Dressing up didn’t happen in the back fields as we tried to give ourselves alcohol poisoning.
A few years later during college we were all dressing up again. Alcohol was still a major factor, as it should be, which probably gave me the courage to dress up as a woman in first year in collge. God, I was pretty.

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I haven’t been able to do much the last few halloweens, working the night shift tonight and last year too. It doesn’t bother me that much as it saves me from a mahoosive hangover the next day but the fun of heading out with all your friends and everyone beaming when people compliment their costume is almost childlike. If it weren’t for the booze, cigarettes and riding going on all around us you could nearly be transported back to bobbing for apples and listening to scary stories with your mates.

Nostalgia

At the end of the day, life is built on memories. Every new experience, group of friends and places we visit and live shape us as people. We make new memories everywhere we go. We spend 5 days a week for 14 years with our best friends in school, and often spend whole summers with them in between. We head off to college and make a new group of friends, sometimes losing touch with old friends and only consistenly seeing a handful. It’s new and it’s scary but it’s freeing. We have more freedom. Some of us graduate and some of us don’t. Some of us don’t go to college. Some of us move away and some stay at home. Some of us will get married and have children and some of us won’t. In all likelihood, some of us will live happy, fulfilling lives and some of us won’t. But we will all make memories. Sometimes it is good to take stock and reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

I am lucky enough to hold dual citizenship and don’t have to worry about overstaying a visa. A number of my friends here aren’t in that position and are forced to stay here until their status becomes more positive. I can head home at any time I want while they have to stay which makes me feel a bit of misplaced guilt. It’s not my fault that they can’t leave. The guilt comes from being able to satisfy my nostalgic needs if they get too high. I’m not one to let homesickness get the best of me but if there was ever a time that I needed to go home, I could. Nostalgia is a fickle friend, filling you up with happiness and longing all at once.

I follow alot of Irish tourism pages on Instagram and Facebook. I watch a lot of Irish t.v, sports and documentaries on t.v. and streaming services. I keep in touch with friends from home all over the world, thanks to the wonders of social media. I like to keep up with what is going on and scratch my itch of seeing home every once in a while. However, nostalgia and memories can creep up on you and leave you in a heap. A picture of Cork City from Patrick’s hill recently just dropped me back to when I was 11 years old and going to open nights for secondary school. Christian Brother’s School was on the list. I had a knot in the middle of my stomach as I walked through the school, knowing it was more expensive than the other schools. Even then, I worried about money. I knew this wasn’t the school for me and thankfully, despite one of my best friends going to that school, I chose Blarney, where I made other best friends. I chose Music as an elective even though I didn’t particularly like singing in public and only being able to play the tin whistle at an average grade. That class brought me my first girlfriend, constant laughs and most importantly, two of my best friends. We had trips to Dublin where we played Bullshit on the train and went to operas and didn’t understand them, secret looks that we shot at each other in class and inside jokes we would laugh about all the time. I went to different colleges than those friends from the class and we didn’t see each other as much anymore. I wouldn’t say we drifted apart but relationships and distance didn’t bring us any closer.

Thankfully, through living in different countriess and coasts of the same country, and with the help of modern technology, we’re still extremely close. Any awkwardness or distance is forgotten as soon as I see these two girls again and we go for food and gossip and chats. We talk about old times and new times and new memories we have all made in our respective new homes.
I have loads of other memories with these two and with all my close friends from home that I happen to think about randomly from time to time. I could list off pages upon pages of memories with other close friends but the fact is this particular picture put my brain on this particular path to think of these particular girls who I am very lucky to call my friends.
Sometimes I do feel guilty that my buddys here won’t get to see their homeland as soon as I can, but I know that in the future when we are all there together for a wedding or an event or just a casual meet-up, we’ll make new memories.

Chill the Beans guys

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It’s all getting a bit serious, isn’t it? No matter where you look these days there’s another scandal, uproar or incident. Political movements dominate the headlines online and in print. The advent of social media has driven the amount of movements sky high and social issues have taken hold of the front pages and are first on every timeline. It is truly an amazing time to be alive. It is so refreshing to see so many different viewpoints on many different ideas and situations. In a world where many see social media as having a negative impact on our mental health, and it often does, it also keeps us in touch with what’s happening 24/7. There is obviously an undercurrent of people who revel in just being dicks, basically, and want to bring people down with cyber bullying. They send death threats, actively despise people who are not the same as them and make people’s lives a living hell. They hate that people can be whoever they want to be in this day and age. If you are a man who wants to be a woman or vice-versa, or if you are a homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, or whatever sexual, some people just simply don’t like it. And instead of being a half-decent person and letting people get on with their lives, they make it their mission to go and post hateful things online.
The most sickening thing, however, is that because of the vitriol they spew, these people are highlighted and their points are amplified through the media-verse. A certain president of a certain superpower does anything but help things with his constant posting and lies concerning immigrants, gun laws, and now, ‘bomb’ stuff. There were literal bombs delivered to major political figures, news outlets and well-known figures over the last few days and Trump and his supporters find ways to blame the political side of the people who were affected. It’s madness.

In this current climate you can’t escape the events of the world. Sure, you can deactivate your accounts and switch off your devices and just take a step back. You see it all the time with Insta models. They take four or five day breaks from posting from the stress of it all. Obviously, they are stressed because of their constand need for a certain quota of likes, loves, comments and shares. Some people take breaks from social media because they can’t hack watching everybody’s constant optimism and success. It’s okay to take breaks and look after yourself. But it’s also okay to realise that despite the seriousness of it all, we all lead our own lives.
I mean, look at this post I’m writing. I originally intended to write, “It’s all getting a bit serious, isn’t it?”, and then go on a funny rant about things that are serious that shouldn’t be. I will write that too, someday soon, but this post derailed into another commentary on social media and people getting riled up. In related news, I found out this morning that Ali is apparently being removed from the Simpsons because of people getting annoyed that he is a racist depiction of Indian Americans. Where were ye for the last 20 years! Goosfraba, goosfraba.

I’ve never been enamored by politics and once voted for a Fianna Fail candidate because she was a bit of a ride. That’s sexist, I now know through the glory of twitter but I honestly don’t care. It’s just too serious now. It’s always been serious. The world is too serious. I can’t watch a feckin’ tv show now without worrying whether its racist, homophobic or insensitive to something. I’m tired of it all.
I’m going to stick to the humour and hope it sticks. I’ll be going to school for journalism in the new year and can’t wait to start my career in movie and sports reviews. It won’t change the world but at least I’ll be able to actively turn a blind eye to all the serious stuff. Hopefully. Oh God I hope so.

A Star Is Born: Review

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A bit late to the party here but I finally got to check out Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, a retelling of A Star is Born. This is the fourth version of the 1937 original film, with Judy Garland playing the star in 1954 and Barbra Streisand playing the same character in 1976. Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper play the two main characters. Gaga is Ally, a waitress and sometimes performer named Allie, who is discovered by alcoholic and worn out country music star Jackson Maine, played by Cooper. The cheek of him putting himself in his own film. Brazen out!
The film follows the romance that immediately blossoms between the two and the burgeoning career of Allie as she eventually begins to outshine her lover and partner. She lands record deals and primetime entertainment television show appearances while he is being replaced in Roy Orbison tribute bands. Cooper’s Jackson slides deeper into depression and begins to lose his battle with addiction. Following a successful stint in rehab after almost ruining Allie’s career in a drink and drug fuelled Emmy Awards Night (as per), he realises he is holding her back. In a gut punching ending he sets her free and Allie delivers us his final gift: a love song he wrote for her in the event that he would ever leave. We finish with a close-up on her face as she looks deadpan into the camera and although she has made money and won awards throughout the feature, finally a star is born.

Personally, I think that I let too many people tell me this movie was brilliant before I saw it. It was good. It was really good. I love a good rom-com and I love a good musical. As much as they tear me apart Lisa I love an emotional ending. This movie had every one of those in spades and I really enjoyed the movie. However, I had read so many good reviews and heard tell of the wonders of the movie that I just had too high of an expectation. The Imdb rating is also 8.3 which should make it one of the best films of all time. Voting systems can be skewed but I would put the rating in the mid 7s.
The film starts out slow despite the presence of some boozy rock n’ roll and riveting French tones. After Allie joins Jack on tour the film becomes more lively but as a result of this it almost becomes too jumpy. Granted, I am being a bit too critical here because at 136 minutes, the film is long enough but still, it could have been fleshed out more. We jump from the lovers being happy and joyous to being at each other’s throats the next. Perhaps that’s a perfect reflection of the rock and roll/popstar lifestyle coupled with addiction and I’m just a doorman on the nightshift who’s more Indie pop/rock and IPAs. C’est la Vie.

I truly did think this film was fantastic. The soundtrack is brilliant and there are some standout tracks climbing the charts right now. The best part of the film was definitely the chemistry between Cooper and GaGa. Lady’s acting wasn’t on par with someone with the calibre of Cooper throughout the whole film but there was a rawness about her performance that struck a chord (pun intended). It also helps that she has an amaxing voice and is already a global superstar. The scene where she is dragged on stage to sing her original song with Cooper that he arranged for her is nothing short of spine-tingling. Her unsuredness and half-embarrassment at singing her song is adorable and makes you root for the character from there until the end of the film. So go for the tunes, go for the emotions. Go if you want to see Lady Gaga’s nipple around halfway  through the movie. Go for the love of it all!