Saturday, January 29, 2011

A BICYCLE MADE FOR TWO - FINE GAEL AND LABOUR COALITION


              Eamon catching his Enda!

Well what a week in Irish politics, which has seen the well-overdue resignation of Brian Cowen as Fianna Fail leader; the coronation of an apologetic Micheal Martin; the announcement of a general election to be held on Friday 25 February, and the dissolution of the 30th Dail. The country is now gripped by pre-election frenzy of vote projections and the viability of  3-way or 5-way TV debates between the leaders of the 5 main political parties. Enda Kenny has declined so far to commit to a 3-way debate with the leaders of the FF and Lab party leaders, because he believes the debates should include Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein and John Gormley, leader of the Green Party. As expected, dissenters of FG and their leader are declaring that Mr Kenny is afraid of the 3-way plan, because of his own shortcomings as a debater. There may be some truth in that, but listening to the old stalwart of politics, Michael Noonan, opposition spokesman for Finance, I find myself agreeing with him, in that this is only the starting point of the sparring, posturing process that preceeds the real contest. I found it somewhat ironic, however, to hear Mr. Martin, (a few hours into his leadership, even with an apology) who sat at the FF Cabinet table for the last 13 years, with the responsibility of several important portfolios throughout that period, throwing down the gauntlet to the leaders of FG and LAB for 3-way RTE Television Debate, as if he were King Arthur of the Round Table of knights who believed in 'might for right'. I found the whole thing distasteful, yet not unexpected. Fianna Fail still think that the populus of this island are stupid; that the quick exit stage left and replacement of Brian Cowen is somehow going to ensure that FF achieve the magic number of 20 seats, which will thereby ensure a multi-million euro state-funded party political party contribution.





One very valuable thing that has arisen from the last 2/3 year period of an embarrasingly disasterous Irish political performance within Europe, is that the younger generation would appear to have shifted from a rather apathetic approach to Government and the democratic process, towards a position of not wishing to squander the right to vote, that their forefathers fought so hard to obtain. Many of my younger friends, perhaps 1st. time voters are asking for my advice. Naturally, I express my own views, but I emphasize the need to inform themselves by reading as much political literature and listening to as many political debates as possible. I firmly believe that no-one should make their choices, because of how their parents or extended circle of family and friends vote. They should have faith in their own judgement.

I cannot stress enough, the urgent need for politicians of all parties to get off their high horses and start speaking in a language that everyone can understand, and remember that they are servants of the people. Whilst, I am quite sure that most politicians begin their career, genuinely wanting to 'make a difference', they have to take stock of this new passionate and enthusiastic movement of young well-educated people, who also want to 'make a difference' by casting a well-informed vote of conviction.





Yes, Ireland is in so much trouble that is has had to be bailed out by the EU and IMF, which, some say, equals loss of sovereignty, but as a Finnish gentleman said, during a recent RTE radio broadcast, in relation to the financial difficulties within his own country in the late 90's; we should look at recent developments here in Ireland as an opportunity to throw out the old tired worn-out policies and start afresh. I found his words both uplifting and hopeful.

It is looking like the Fine Gael and Labour Party will emerge as the two main political parties after the next General Election, and will probably have the task of forming the next Coalition Government. I have seen quite a few coalition governments come and go over the last 34 yrs here in Ireland, and some have been only marginally successful. This time around, I think there will be two marked differences between this Coalition Government and their predecessors, or should I say at least, I'm hoping there are! Firstly, the devastation of all that the people of this island used to hold dear i.e. its Church, its Republican Leadership; its Banking and Financial Institutions, has forced the ordinary man to take back his own power: to take responsibilility for who he/she votes for; to question the beliefs that they inherited. Ireland is no longer a Republican toddler struggling to shake off a British influence; it is a strong, independent, Republican adolescent member of the EU. Secondly, it is quite possible that this General Election will see Fine Gael and Labour returning similar numbers of TD's, which should bring about a more evenly-spread division of cabinet seats, portfolios and power.

They are two individual parties, of quite differing radical thinking, who MUST come together, WORK together for the good of the people of this island, and beyond. This is not a time for egotism or jobs for the boys! It is a time for reasoning, seasoned with a passion for honesty, truth and inclusiveness.

After all, a Coalition Government should be like a good marriage. I am reminded of the words from an old music hall song, DAISY.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do,
I'm 'alf crazy all for the love of you,
It won't be a stylish marriage
We can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon a seat
ON A BICYCLE MADE FOR TWO

(We could always swap 'Daisy' by 'Enda' or 'Eamon'!)


Well the cars ARE going, except for An Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, aren't they?







Ciao for Now!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE ... AND ALL THAT JAZZ

Chicago - The Musical

If you take the odd peek at my blog now and then, you will surely have ascertained, that music is one of the great loves of my life. When I'm asked what my favourite genre of music is, I might say classical, rock, soul music, opera; depending on the mood I'm in. ( I've always had a problem getting the whole classification within the arts thing: classical, romantic, baroque, postmodern, postcolonial, expressionistic, surreal, impressionistic, and then more lately with contemporary music:  futuristic, garage, R & B, hip-hop, punk, rap, folk/rock, traditional, etc; the list is endless! I suppose the chronological classifications are easy enough to follow, but try as I may the definitive line between the genres or types  remains somewhat confusing!)  I would certainly never have said Jazz music was up there as one of my favourites. But that all changed recently at a dinner party. Whilst enjoying the wonderful conversation of much-loved friends, eating delicious food, watching the sun go down over the city of Cork from the heights of Sunday's Well, that night I was introduced to, and shook the hand of Jazz! Yes I'd heard some of the traditional exponents of Jazz before, like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald to name just two, but this was a whole different ball game. 


                    Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong


This was Dave Brubeck playing 'In Their Own Sweet Way' with his sons, Chris, Dan, Darius and Matthew. Wow! Yurodny playing 'Evenset', John Zorn featuring Erik Friedlander Film Music X1X - 'The Rain Horse', 'Book of Angels' Vol. 10. The music was atmospheric, terrific, thought-provoking, and at the same time inspired and supported a steady flowing conversation. Whilst sitting there, the jazz progressions enabled me, to float away from the candle-lit table for a few moments, to gather a silent movie reel of touching hands, half-filled mouths chewing and talking, heads tossed back in laughter, eyes filled with the sparkle of new love, people reaching out in friendship. I have heard people talk about out of body experiences, but this was quite extraordinary!



It was one of the most pleasant evenings I had spent in some time. The fact that my car broke down on the way back from Cork, did not interfere with the lingering chords of music and laughter that were still playing in my head and warming my heart, as I waited for the AA Man in the cold of early morning.




In my work with children, I often use music as a starting point for exploration, as it seems to block out the nagging voices of negative uncertainty. I've introduced them to many different types of music, and lately, even JAZZ. We are jazz-suckling infants together!


This has been a week of major decision-making; a week that I have tried to make sense of, but just as Jazz music never used to make sense to me either, I realize that at this moment everything is perfect. Everything is just as it should!






Not jazz music, but music for love and dancing! And if you enjoy that, there is a link to 'I Love You Just The Way You Are'. The late, great Barry White!







Ciao for now!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

CARNATIONS AND CIGARETTE ENDS





Carnations, squashed, dead, alongside unravelling cigarette ends; a reminder that everything comes to an end, no matter how beautiful; no matter how satisfying. He had made up his mind a long time ago that he would never make any woman honest. He wouldn’t make anyone anything. After all, he was a traveller; a dantesque shade, taking what he needed, not unlike the black dog, rummaging through the black sack across the emptying street. Stepping across a gutter, sodden with Night's remains, the grey suit floated towards the scavenger, acknowledging that neither he nor the dog would ever be taken by surprise if they kept one foot in the shadows. For one second, red eyes looked into blue, and were gone back to Hades. Black shoes, wet, walked again; turning into an open late. Sitting at the bar in saxaphoned smoke, he swallows his sixth Jack Daniels. A red dress moved in alongside him, and putting hand on his shoulder, asked for a cigarette. He’d given them up, he said, without meeting her need to feel honest. Her flat was just around the corner if he was feeling lonely. He liked it that way, and got up to leave. Black shoes, drier, were walking again. Gold stilettos ran to catch up; echoed in the hollowness of Limbo, like tinkling piano keys. Grey suit and red dress turned the corner. They took what they needed. 


        


Maureen Walsh - Jan. 2011




Ciao for now!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DEXTER, DEMERARA SUGAR AND DOG-HAIRED DUNES




Over Christmas, a friend of mine handed me a box set of Dexter to watch, and made me promise to stay with the first three episodes at least, fully convinced that I wouldn't be able to resist the remaining episodes. Holy smoke, she was so right. Talk about family bonding sessions! This was the first Christmas in years, that there was just the four of us. No boyfriends or extended family. My friend left two seasons of 12 episodes each. So blown away were we by plot, characters and script, that we purchased seasons 3 & 4. We were hooked! I particularly love the opening and its music. Take a listen.




Dexter is a Blood Spatter Analyst with Miami Metro Police Department, who moonlights as a serial killer, but only goes for the bad guys; the ones that have somehow beat the legal system and got away with their heinous crime of murder. I am not going to give the game away by saying too much, but suffice to say that it is addictive viewing, and that is coming from someone, who is not really a TV person. However, I watched more TV this Christmas, than probably the last twenty put together. The characters in this drama series are so well-defined, and yet continue to evolve and adapt convincingly... always fresh and dynamic. This might well be due to the fact, that there are a team of writers and directors working on each series.The performances of  Dexter and his sister Debra (married to each other off-screen) are simply breathtaking! It is a long time since I have seen such a rich array of quality performances from a group of actors. One of the most remarkable things about this series, is that Dexter feels like the 'Good Guy' (well at least in our household) even though he is a serious serial killer. Perceptions of right and wrong; good and evil etc are turned upside down and inside out, and give rise to the suggestion that there might be a killer instinct in all of us, given the right circumstances. Apparently series 5 can be 'streamed' online and filming of series 6 starts in September. After watching 48 episodes in less than 2 weeks, I'm just about 'Dextered out!|' Inspite of our intense 'Dextering', we managed to spend New Year's Day in Lahinch and my oldest daughter's fancy dress birthday party. Some pics and a wee poem.


Next Time!



Yes!




Demerara Sugar


How wonderful to have our eyes and an ever-changing LIGHT that works to please, by re-inventing  things!
Sand becomes demerara sugar!



Dog-Haired Dunes



DOG-HAIRED DUNES



Take me there, lay me there,
Kiss my lips with sand.
Wipe away the streams of salt,
With soft, but sturdy hand.

Be quiet there, be some place there.



Maureen Walsh - Jan 2011©




Love This




Hey Mind My Hat!


After sufing, walking etc, we had lunch in Kenny's bar. Kitchen fully upgraded etc. and food as delicious as ever. Lahinch is not a walk on the wild side as far as shops, restaurants or entertainment are concerned. It is a place where the beauty of the ocean and surrounding landscape still take centre-stage.



Out Of The Mouths of Babes .....




Hey What Time Does Dexter Start?


Almost dark and about to head home. One more look at the Main Street. Still quite a few humans about, but the birds of the area sense their time to BE is about to begin! 



My Favourite Garage



Anyone would think I loved Lahinch and the ocean!



Charlie Chaplin & Co


 

Ciao for Now!

Friday, January 7, 2011

TOM WAITS, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR REVISITED




Was clearing away some dead plant body parts from my garden last Monday. Enjoyable, but robotic sort of task, which afforded me to indulge in accompanying 'What Do I Want To Do With This New Year .... New Start' thoughts. For some unknown reason, a stretch of road, about four miles long, that I travel along most days came to mind. It keeps company with a stream, that winds through fields, meadows, wavers towards a railway track , irrigates a Christmas tree plantation, and offers a natural landscaping addition to cottage gardens. I had wanted to follow it on foot for at least 30 years. This was the day to do it .... to start the trek. Afternoon and knew I wasn't going to do the whole four miles, but hey .... I had to start somewhere.    





Why certain ideas just drop into an unsuspecting head is a strange one. Grabbing my wellies, I emptied my scarf collection into a basket to bring them along for the ride. The plan (I think) was to plant  them here and there as I walked; taking pics, something like, 'I wish you were here!' postcards I guess. Why scarves? Their colour? Was it the fact that each scarf had a tale to tell: an event; a happening; a conversation, that I wanted to revisit perhaps? On the drive over, I put Tom Waits into the CD player, and re-visited one of my all-time favourite songs, Martha. A beautiful melodic song, performed by one of the rustiest, rasping voices in showbusiness. What a combination. Rough with the smooth!




When I found a suitable starting place, I quickly realized that negotiating gates, thorny ditches and swampy ground, carrying a large basket of scarves and a camera in fast fading light was practically a non-starter. I needed to be up at the crack of dawn, if I was going to crack this one and wearing my sensible hat, I would have to be more choosy about my scarf selection.




Some time later into the 'trek' my mobile rang. Shit, I had forgotten my friend and her husband were calling to the house. I was on a field trip I explained and that I wouldn't be that long. Put on the kettle etc.etc. (Getting darker anyway) Besides they were driving from Marlfield, Clonmel, which is at least 30 mins drive away. 




Another 30 mins to 'play', because that's what I was doing in real terms. Playing isn't just for children, I kept repeating to myself;  the adult me trying to justify the trudging across muddy fields, following a stream, with a basket of scarves!




As I placed brightly coloured scarves into an almost colourless landscape, my mind began to multi-task again. This time towards Andrew Lloyd Weber's rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar!




I am directing Jesus Christ Superstar, with St Mary's Choral Society, Clonmel in April and rehearsals start next week. I directed and produced this show with Tipperary Musical Society back in 1996. It was my first big production, and it  practically took over my life for about six months. I lost a stone in weight, had difficulty sleeping, and, more often than not, when I did eventually fall into a  restless sleep, an idea would shake me to wake, get up, consider and write it down lest I should forget!




Fifteen years on, I am much better at switching off, thank God! That said, JC Superstar is still a tricky show to produce! The story, which everyone knows, is told through song and musical intervals only. All technical effects, such as lighting, sound, sound effect, and scene change cues, rest upon perhaps one note or one chord of music.




Since my first production of JC back in 1996, my ideas about theatre-making have changed quite considerably. I hadn't realized until I went to UCC, that the mind I possessed, was not as open as I thought, and was in fact, entrenched in a realist tradition. The most exciting part of the journey to obtaining my degree, was the discovery, that there are no limits or boundaries to learning, imagination or creativity. To grasp the knowledge, that there are no specific starting gates; finishing lines, or that creativity is a product of spontaneity,  is extremely exciting and liberating. It gives a permission for experimentation and an acceptance that even in apparent failure, there is a learning! 




Child psychologists, psychaitrists, therapists report that children learn so much more about their environment, and how to behave and respond to same, through PLAY, which by its very nature is a spontaneous act.  




As I walked, thoughts concerning Judas's death and the crucifixion surfaced. I have seen many productions over the years, some employing all kinds of hydraulic and pyrotechnic wizardry to enable a cross to appear magically from nowhere or the floor of the stage. Even with a more open mind, I still prefer to see the cross erected in full view of the audience. I think it maintains a rawness and a truth. The staging of these two particular scenes in a convincing manner is seriously testing, and can be further complicated by a sense within the community, that a greater sensitivity is required around Judas' suicide than the murder of Jesus by nailing him to a cross! Perhaps something to return to in another blog.



Ideas and images of costumes, set design, stage direction etc. began to form;  floating alongside me; perhaps offered up to me by Lethe, goddess of the River Styx of the Underworld. (What a hopeless romantic!) 



As an aside, the swans above had been gliding downstream. They stopped with me for at least 15 mins. A friendly exchange of quietly intimate inquisitiveness between both parties!




My field thoughts proceeded to bend  towards holiday and travel plans for the coming year. I had thought that this might be the year that I would finally get to see India: its' colours and its contrasts. Most people hit by recession are finding it necessary to rethink their plans and stay at home. There are still so many places in Ireland, that I haven't seen, side roads that I haven't had the time to cycle along, places that I want to re-visit and view in a different light, with a different mindset.



We travel to far away places in search of the exotic, the other; a different culture, history, architecture, climate and cuisine; to taste, for ourselves, the places that we have read about in our story books. As previously blogged, I am fortunate to live quite closely to the Galtee Mountains and the Glen of Aherlow. I never cease to be amazed by the amount of Tipperary townsfolk who have never travelled a couple of miles outside the town to the Hail Christ Statue, that commands more than an absolutely stunning 180% view of the Glen of Aherlow; taken a stroll in the Galtees or trekked up to Lake Muskery.




It had grown dark, and a padlocked gate was re-visited and had to be re-negotiated. Scarves and me into the car once more. A cake or two for tea from the garage and home. My friends smiled at the thought of my toting a basket of scarves across fields, following a stream. Was I not concerned what people thought. Quite honestly ... it never entered my head!

So my decision to take off for the evening on a trek that I knew I couldn't possibly finish; re-visiting 'scarf' moments; the child in me 'playing';  rescued my imagination and creative thought process from the excesses of the Christmas holiday period.



Love to share this. The wonderful Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar.





Thank God for ideas, like visitors that pop in unannounced! More spontaneous and much more fun!




Ciao for now!