Nice Winter! // Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Five dollar casio.

The new Bon Iver album, “Bon Iver, Bon Iver“, is fantabulous and worthy member of my “best of the year so far” top 5.

I think there are a number of reasons I feel this way.

The man

No matter what I see or hear Justin Vernon do he comes across as the smartest, loveliest fellow in the world. Can he be my older brother please?

It’s like a giant metaphor for high school– people think or say certain things, and those ideas get amplified via telephone and, all of a sudden, somebody’s a dick or a racist. I just want to know that, no matter what the perception of me as a person is, I can live with who I actually am. But I find it funny that the stories are wrong. It goes to show that even the indie rock world– which is supposed to be about truth and independence from corporate mindfulness or something– is totally subject to the paraphernalia of celebrity. [Pitchfork: Interviews: Bon Iver]

“I think in that way I was emboldened by seeing how Bryce and Aaron [Dessner, of the National] work in their life,” he says, “and also how Kanye worked: ‘I want that – get that. I want an 80-piece orchestra – get it.’ And I guess I just was like: ‘Oh, I can see now! I know my two favourite saxophone players in the whole world, so why don’t I get them in the same room?'” [Bon Iver: ‘I’m really confused right now’ – guardian.co.uk]

Equally at ease on video in the last few weeks he’s been on the late night talk show circuit, talking as well as performing. A sign for anyone thinking he’s not on the verge of being a mainstream superstar is a fool. Here he is a few weeks ago chatting to Jimmy Fallon….

“Bon Iver, Bon Iver. So nice you said it twice.”

…and here is a sit-down from last night’s Colbert Report. Stephen is obviously a pretty big fan but doing his best to keep it in character as always.

“What is Bon short for, Bonathon?”

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Gail from Corrie looks really like Kermit the Frog

It’s uncanny right?

Jim Henson and his right-hand man, Kermit the Frog

Martin Platt and his right-hand woman Gail Tilsley, soon to be leather jawed battle-axe Gail Platt. Later to become Gail Hillman. Currently Gail McIntyre.

And I’m not the only one to think this either, check out the Facebook group “gail platt looks an awful lot like kermit the frog???“. For once, 50 people agree with me.

So this silly revelation does give me a good excuse to post the a link to a great Time article I read on the train to and from Ottawa over the weekend.

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I AM ONE // Happy birthday blog

Birthday Bumps!!!

So a year ago I was just arriving in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA world cup and figured it would be useful to have an online depository for travel writing, videos, photos and your typical self-effacing and yet self-indulgent schtuff.

And here we are. Now one year later. Got out of South Africa alive, got to Canada, got a tan, saw some films, got a job, got snowed on, got another job, got a haircut and am now working on another tan.

Or at least that’s the short version. The longer version is messier but I don’t think anyone needs to read that right now. Got to keep something for the book deal right!

Bottom line I’m happy to be here in Toronto for another year. But before that… I get to go home for half of July (8th-25th)… Isle of Man, Whelans, Wicklow, Connemara, Inis Meain, Tesco Donore Rd, Dundalk train station, Cineworld Dublin, my roland synth, the atlas piano, bus windows, vintage cars… here I come!

In the mean time here are some noted posts and awards. Unsurprisingly some kid called Nigel wins all of them.

 

First ever post (#1 of 56)

Cape Town is, eh, “ready” for the World Cup [June 8 2010] (and didn’t it do well!)

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What a beautiful way to go… // Pringles are evil AND amazing

The Man Buried in a Pringles Can [time.com – June 04, 2008]

“In 1966, Baur came up with a clever way for Procter & Gamble to stack chips uniformly rather than tossing them in a bag. He was so proud of the achievement, he wanted to go to his grave with it. So when Baur died last month, his children buried the 89-year-old’s ashes in one of his iconic cans.”

Pringle's Newfangled Potato Chips, 1970 & 1973 tubes. (flickr user Roadsidepictures)

So I have vague recollections of hearing about the death of Fred Baur in 2008, the organic chemist who created the first ever Pringles crisps, came up with the original tubular can concept and then asked that his ashes be buried in one when he died.

But now through the magic of the internet I can happily spend an hour reading about the world’s most popular crisps and compile my findings.

In this time I have…

  1. Learned that Proctor and Gamble no longer own Pringles. They sold the brand they’ve developed since the 1960s for $2.35 billion to Diamond Foods in April.
  2. Found this lovely guide to building an iPod dock out of your old pringles can.
  3. Gotten quite excited (maybe a little aroused?) by this flickr pool “I Love Crisps
  4. Discovered that they’re not crisps – “Pringles ‘are not potato crisps (4 Jul 2008)”
  5. Oh no wait… they actually are. – “Pringles lose Appeal Court case (20 May 2009)”
  6. Discovered the Jackson Generals minor league baseball team play their games at Pringles Park, 4 Fun Place, Jackson, Tennessee. [view picture of the depressing carpark…]
  7. Been bemused by the company’s current promotion for free speakers that attach to the top of the can “amplifying whatever sound is coming from an attached MP3 player“.
  8. Realised I never saw the episode where Ally McBeal was arrested over a can of Pringles – “Ally comes down the potato chip aisle, and sees a red-haired lady putting a can of Pringles back on the shelf (the last can, of course)…” [Ally McBeal Season 1, Episode 5 – One Hundred Tears Away]
  9. Had fun reading the Beaver County Times from Dec 20, 1975 using Google News Archive tool – “The Case Of Pringles, Or When Is A Potato Chip Not A Chip?
  10. Concluded that Pringles are addictive and evil and you’re better off smoking or developing a heroin habit. A lot of their flavours contain Monosodium glutamate (MSG / E621), which is the work of the devil. But then I look at this picture and all is forgiven. How cute!

Once you pop...

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ANOTHER sad day // Paul Scholes @ MUFC: 1994–2011

Previously: February 2nd 2010. A sad day.

The boy who would go on to be honoured with the flamboyant nickname Scholesy

The man who gave hope to red-heads all over the world has retired.

It was hardly a surprise considering his loss of form, the media coverage over the last few weeks, the fact he has a testimonial match in August and the autobiography release lined up for later in the year.

But still, sad news. And any sad news gives me an excuse to post a tangential story from my childhood, some amusing pictures, enlightening external links and a snazzy video.

For reasons I still don’t really understand we were without BBC for random periods in the mid 90s. Our local transmitter had decided to stop sharing the stations (no joke, one day UTV was actually replaced with live camcorder footage of a piece of paper on a table saying “this service has been stopped due to lack of funding“) and so we eventually got a massive aerial which meant we could pick up signals from the Hill of Tara or the Mourne Mountains or something. My brief tenure as a 2-channel-child was at at end.

Des Lynam. What a tache.

For this reason I didn’t see Paul Scholes’ league debut or his first goal against Ipswich on September 24th 1994.

But it’s a double away to QPR (a 3-2 win over QPR on December 12th 1994) which came a few months later that sticks in my head. I have great memories of watching Match of the Day (the Des Lynam era) the night after Scholesy scored the two goals thinking… this guy didn’t really look like your traditional footballer… there’s hope for us all!

I remember Lynam said something typically smooth along the lines of “aaaand looks like Fergie’s got another one of these special kids on his hands. Where are they coming from Alan?Continue reading

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This one goes out to the one I love…

Sufjan Stevens, Live in Manchester, May 19th 2011:

Sufjan covered R.E.M.’s The One I Love a few years ago (here’s one from Chicago in 2004) but it lay in his big briefcase of tunes unplayed for years.

But it made a welcome and surprise re-appearance at a show in Manchester the week before last, and then again a few days later in Essen, Germany and finally at his first Primavera show last Friday. But Manchester would be the one I’d have loved to be at as it also featured a beautiful acoustic rendering of the usually bombastic full-band slow-builder Sister which you can watch here. (And besides being in Manchester in the week before United won their 4th European Cup would have been cool too. Oh wait, what? They lost? Again?! Are you Messi-ng? D’oh).

The One I Love was R.E.M.’s first big hit and even though it’s such a simple melody and the lyrics are only really 6 lines long, it has still managed to inspire endless amounts of song-writers. Listen below if you’ve managed to forget how it sounds.

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
A simple prop to occupy my time
This one goes out to the one I love

Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)
Fire (she’s comin’ down on her own, now)

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
Another prop has occupied my time
This one goes out to the one I love

So looking at all these videos, reading reviews and hearing friends’ reviews of shows of this European tour, and the Australian tour from earlier in the year, has made me a little bit jealous. Soof-yan seems to be confirming his status as the man.

I remember reading an NME review of Michigan thinking this 50 states project sounds gas. A while later I bought the album on mail-order from his Asthmatic Kitty label and loved it, and it was then followed a few months later with the Illinois release. I was officially smitten.

Throw in the wealth of extra material you could find online back then – unreleased Christmas EPs, earlier electronic experiements. I’ve only seen him twice but that’s really only due to geographical and financial considerations. Because if I was into superlatives I’d be inclined to describe my Sufjan experiences as…

AMAZING!

LIFE-DEFINING!!

TRANSCENDING!!!

SMASHING!!!!

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The revolution will not be televised

Gil Scott-Heron // 1949-2011

So bear with me. This was quite a strange way to be introduced to an artist. There’ll be no mention of Jamie XX, New York State prison or “bluesology”, but you’ve been able to read those kind of obituaries and tributes all over the web and in the papers over the last 48 hours.

In first year of my multimedia degree we completed a module called Social and Economic Studies, which was a whirlwind tour through a few centuries worth of international policy and social change.

The module allowed me the opportunity to be taught by one of DCU’s more interesting lecturers, Mr. Des McGuinness. We liked him so much we made badges with his face on them.

Anyway, that is neither here nor there. As with many of these modules, the lectures were great but the seminars sucked.

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Can Manchester United score? They always score…

90th minute… Losing 1-0. 92nd minute… Winning 2-1.

Wednesday 26 May, 1999 may have been one of the greatest nights of my life. Not just in sporting terms but in y’know, “general living” terms… On the eve of Manchester United’s third Champions League final in four years I’m thinking about that night a lot.

With the Benfica goalkeeper Jose Enrique stranded, George Best shoots... and scores.

In 1999 I was 14 and had spent the last 7 or 8 years devouring Manchester United history. I knew the significance of the 1968 European Cup final, and what it meant for Sir Matt Busby to win the European Cup just 10 years after having one of the most promising teams in footballing history ripped apart by the Munich air disaster.

While seeing the blurry black and white VHS footage of Georgey Best leaving the Benfica goalkeeper José Henrique for dead (and yes it is still as good as I remember) to put United 2-1 up four minutes into extra time felt pretty special but that wasn’t my team, it just felt like watching icons from another era.

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Guess who also celebrates a birthday today?

How did I not know this already?

Eric Cantona and Bob Dylan share a birthday. Eric turns 45 today, with Bob hitting the big 7-0.

OK, so we all know it’s Bob Dylan’s birthday today (and I went on an epic ramble here), but I had forgotten that May 24 also marks the birthday of another hero of mine from another era, Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona. Continue reading

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Bob Dylan at 70 // a personal reflection…

“At times in my life the only place I have been happy is when I am on stage.”

Bob Dylan gets about as excited as he can these days at the 53rd Grammy Awards, Feb 13 2011

So today, May 24th, Bob Dylan turns 70 years of age.

Wasn’t really sure what to post for his birthday. I figure 70 isn’t a massive landmark by any stretch of the imagination, but the media seems to have gone mad for it so who am I not to play along. But 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of his first shows in New York City, which is a real landmark event worth celebrating.

So I’m only 26 and and in the grand scheme of things, a relative newcomer to Dylan. I don’t have any of those real inertial stories like the people who were breastfed his music growing up. As best as I can recall, my first exposure to him was seeing Jenny playing Blowin’ in the Wind butt-naked in 1994’s Forrest Gump. I was 10 at the time and thought it was a pretty catchy. And the fact she had no clothes on was probably what really got my pre-pubescent attention.

Forrest Gump and Jenny Curran - both clothed

Over the next 6 or 7 years, I only have fragments of memories. I’ve a pretty solid recollection of seeing a news item of Dylan meeting the Pope in 1997. The story goes that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, didn’t want him to perform, but JPII over-ruled him. Cool, eh. Other than that weird encounter between two old guys who didn’t mean anything to me at the time, nothing ever really stuck out. Continue reading

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The end of the world as we know it? Me arse.

Seems like we survived so.

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OH YEAH! “Macho Man” Randy Savage // 1952-2011

A new addition… [Previously: Top 5…. Dead wrestlers.]

Miss Elizabeth chooses her side prior to Wrestlemania V, with real-life husband “Macho Man” Randy Savage set to face challenger Hulk Hogan for the WWF world championship (watch match here).

Elizabeth Hulette died of a drug and alcohol overdose in 2003. Earlier today, Randall Poffo (Macho Man) died after suffered a heart attack while driving in Tampa, Florida. His car veered across a concrete median, traveled through oncoming traffic and crashed into a tree. He later died in hospital.

In a world in which enormous, half-naked men hurl their bodies at one another in front of thousands of people — complete with elaborate story lines, sequined costumes and theme music — Savage managed to stand out, perhaps because he spoke and dressed more loudly than most, or perhaps because he was equally successful playing a villain (known in the industry as a heel) and a good guy (a face).

Colleagues who knew him at the height of his success, when he wrestled alongside Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, said he had charisma and a knack for spontaneity.

more : Randy Savage, Pro Wrestling’s Macho Man, Dies at 58 (nytimes.com)

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14 summer movies to get a lil excited about… [pt2]

previously… 14 summer movies to get a lil excited about… [pt1]

ANOTHER EARTH - July 22nd

A documentary maker, Mike Cahill, and a trainee investment banker, Brit Marling, combine to write a screenplay. Cahill directing, producing, shooting and editing and Marling acting as co-producer and lead actress. Hmmmmm.

But… apparently Another Earth turned out pretty special. Before it debuted at Sundance, no one had heard much about the film, but it came out of those Utah mountains with the kind of buzz that big studio dollars just cannot buy. Plus the whole “leave Goldman Sachs and drop out of university to make movies” is a pretty bad-ass tale.

It’s got everything I like in a film. Science. Grief. Pretty girls. Parallel universes.

Here’s a summary from the Hollywood Reporter…

Brit Marling‘s Rhoda Williams is a brainy young New Englander, recently accepted into MIT’s astrophysics program. Distracted while driving one night, she causes a terrible accident that kills the entire family of a celebrated music composer, John Burroughs (William Mapother – nigel note: ETHAN FROM LOST!), leaving the man in a coma.

The distraction is crucial here. She was gazing out her window at a blue object in space. It seems astronomers had just discovered another planet hidden until then behind the sun. During her four years in prison, further scientific inquiry reveals this planet is a duplicate Earth. In other words, man is confronted by the existence of a parallel reality. A scientist attempting to contact Earth 2, as it is dubbed, is shocked to find she is talking to her other self.

Sounds pretty special.

DRIVE - Sept 16th

What happens when you combine Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, fast cars and the director of mental British crime film Bronson?

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Garret Fitzgerald’s glasses // 1984 – 2011

A sad day for all spectacle wearers.

So today I arrived into work to read the news that Garret Fitzgerald, Ireland’s 7th Taoiseach, had died. Reports surfaced two weeks that he was gravely ill, but the news will still have come as a shock to a lot of people, young and old.

Being brought up into a Fine Gael family and because he became Taoiseach in the year I was born, I’ve always had a real soft spot for him.

To most, Fitzgerald will be remembered as the leader of two Fine Gael governments in the 1980s, a true statesman, an advocate for better relationships between Ireland and the UK and one of the few truly credible blueshirt leaders of the last 40 years.

In recent years he had became one of the highlights of any Irish election or referendum. Whatever the hour of the day he’d invariably end up on TV3’s Vincent Browne program or in the RTE studio putting university economists and political scientists to shame with his succinct, idiot-proof arguments. And when he wasn’t on TV you could find him in the RDS keeping an eye on the latest tallies.

There will be lots of eulogies and tributes paid over the next few days, but I’m going to go slightly left-field and pay homage to his spectacles. Yes. Weird. I know.

There aren’t many people who wore glasses with as much confidence, class and panache as Garret. Some are a bold fashion statement, some emphasise function over form.

From what I can work out (I like to think not many people have spent time thinking about these things…) he started using reading glasses in the late 1970s and then gradually began wearing specs all the time in later life.

Here are 21 highlights from a brilliantly bespectacled career…

1984 - Makes his debut as Taoiseach wearing this fetching pair of plastic frames.

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