It’s never too late

Photo right owned by Alotor (cc) Pat Kenny robbed me of part of my adulthood. I’m not saying I particularly looked forward to the period in my life when I would prefer to stay home on a Friday night but two kids later you go through phases where a bottle of wine and your feet up is ther perfect Friday night. Sadly there were also two nine month phases where the bottle of wine didn’t even feature. It would have been nice to have had compelling television to watch with that glass of wine but I was robbed by Plastic Pat. To be fair his impact was probably diluted by all the other chat shows that were on and no doubt fists were often shook from the direction of Montrose in the direction of the BBC and Jonathon Ross when all the good guests plumped for Wossy on Friday rather than Pat. How galling it must have been that Wossy is recorded on Thursday so many of them were probably actually available. Is it possible that Pat’s lack of sense of humour and disapproval of the celebrity machine preceded him?

Well a new era in light entertainment beckons for the Irish people with Pat’s announcement last Friday that he is retiring. Of course I didn’t watch it. I heard it on Twitter first but nothing would tempt me to watch it. Nothing. The only time I ever watched it since Pat came on board was for the Toy Show.I did it for the kids and the ideas!

Maybe in the future as I settle down with a bottle of wine I’ll look back at the early teens of the 21st century as the golden age of Friday night entertainment on RTÉ. To help us get there I have a wee poll below. I felt that a lot of male presenters’ name were being bandied about so, with a big obvious nod to positive discrimination, my choices are all Irish female television presenters. Have at ye!

Little Box sets, Little Box sets

My lovely cousin Bea gave us the box set of Seasons One and Two of Weeds as a Christmas present. I LOVE box sets of good television series. Himself and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the whole six series of Sopranos from spring to autumn of 2007. Last winter Lilbro gave us the boxset of the first series of Rome which was entertaining and the enhanced features explained many of the day to day aspects of life in Rome when you got confused. Mind you there were some confusing historical details that the producers were obviously less confused by than us… Watching a whole series on DVD gives a much more focussed experience of a series I think. I was going to use the word intense in the place of focussed and while I think you could apply that adjective to The Sopranos, it doesn’t fit so well to the likes of Weeds or Rome for example. The one drawback with box sets is that I don’t care to own DVDs after I watch them but I turn this into a positive by always passing them on to others when we’re done.

So back to Weeds. I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m not going to get into the moral question at the very centre of this series: whether or not cannabis should be legal or not. Not here anyway 🙂 What interests me about the series so far is the manner in which traditional male and female roles are highlighted. Nancy Botwin is the embodiment of many traditional female roles: mother, friend, loving wife, homemaker, widow. However her character is refreshing on the small screen: she’s rarely perfectly made-up or coiffed; many of her outfits are unremarkable and some are even ill advised; she is erratic in her mothering, her housekeeping and only sometimes manages to be the kind of friend we would all like to have. Honestly, I could be describing my own life. Compare this to any one of the Desperate Housewives even the kooky one who struggles to juggle working life with being a mom to 4 boys and a stepdaughter but never has roots or a spectacularly messy house. Nuff said.

Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City another recent popular American series aimed at women and about women, their relationships with their friends, families and lovers, were, I always felt, a touch unreal. Yes, true mother turned drug dealer is also unreal but it’s so unreal that you have to discount it: it’s artistic licence, a conceit. It allows the writers to introduce characters that normally would not co-exist. If you examine your own working life and think about your colleagues, the truth is you probably would not be brought into contact with many of them except through work.

Whenever I hear people questioning the likelihood of people knowing each other I always think about a play that I acted in when I was a member of Dublin Youth Theatre. Reading my blog you may or may not realise that I would be considered quite posh in Ireland. I have a south Dublin accent. In 1994 I was in a play about six women who dreamed of travelling together to the World Cup in the US. My one and only brush with the beautiful game: I had a solo in this musical about Denis Irwim. Don’t ever ask me to sing it. For your own sake. One of the critics, reviewing the production, complained about the unlikelihood of six women of such obviously disparate backgrounds ever knowing each other. The director, Gerry Stembridge, swept this criticism aside by saying, “But you’re all here and you know each other.” There’s nowt as strange as folk and what brings them together is the lesson I learned from that experience.

What is very true about the Widow Botwin’s experience is the fact that her home life is inhabited by women, her work life by men. I find that the series so far (seasons 1 and 2) highlight many truths about women’s working lives; about being a working mother or a stay at home mom. I really love the way many of the roles are turned on their heads: Nancy is incapable of counselling her youngest son on the changes he is experiencing as he battles through adolescence (women are compassionate and empathic); her brother in law, Andy, does most of the cooking in the home and many of the dishes he prepares sound pretty complicated; Nancy remarries for purely business reasons; Nancy knowingly uses her “pretty brown eyes” to get her way and those caught in her gaze refute it (Conrad: “Every time you flash your pretty brown eyes at me I get dropped in shit.”); we rarely glimpse Nancy in sex scenes and when we do they are low key love scenes while Andy is frequentely derided while being rided. (Sorry I couldn’t resist!)

Similarly I thought that The Sopranos tackled gender questions in a very honest and forthright manner, developing the main female characters in a fascinating manner while constantly underlining this depth with the shallow nature of the roles of the female staff in Badabaing, Tony’s topless bar.

I’ve noticed that in recent years many series that might not consider women as their main target audience have displayed a better understanding of what I as a woman want to see on the small screen. Real 21st century women’s issues being addressed and sometimes resolved but not always.

And my final reason for loving Weeds as a woman and a mother? Vaneeta James, the daughter of Heylia James, breastfeeds her baby. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I’m a big fan of breastfeeding.

Now you can own your own short commercial break.

We7: Getting Closer to a Workable Model for Free Music Downloads – ReadWriteWeb: “The music industry is in desperate need of new models and an interesting one got some financial support today. We7 announced today that it’s raised $6 million from Peter Gabriel and Spark Ventures.

The UK site offers DRM-free MP3 downloads with super-short ads preceding each song – for the first 4 weeks after download. Once a month you can select 20 tracks to remove the ad clips from, any additional ad removal will cost 20 pence (about 39 cents) per song.”

It’s very complicated isn’t it? That seems to be the main issue with We7 in articles that I have read on and off. Personally I love LastFM but they are not getting the support that We7 seems to be enjoying. I get new music from Amie St. as well so my ears are being broadened, sometimes painfully!

(I started writing this a little while ago, lost my train of thought…)

Bheadh spéis agam cloisteáil céard a cheapann na ceoltóirí faoin gceann seo. Ó mo thaithí féin ag plé podchraoladh leis na ceoltóirí i mo chlann féin, ní miste leo má labhrann tú thar roinnt den amhrán, ag an mbun nó an mbarr mar shampla, mar bhealach éifeachtach chun é a chosaint. Cé nach ionann é dar liom taispeánann sé go bhfuil ceoltóirí oscailte a fhad is a bhfuil muinín acu ionat.

I recently read Nicholas Carr’s new book “The Big Switch” as I was participating as a panellist on Soiscéal Pháraic. At least a chapter of that book is concerned with how technologists and technology companies are making big bucks out of creatives who are using their platforms to share their ouevres (MySpace, Blogger (Google), YouTube etc.). In a way musicians are lucky that they have the likes of Paul McGuinness to fight their corner albeit in an entirely wrongheaded fashion. Writers, animators, artists, basically all other artists whose work can be digitised haven’t been able to make the switch to digital with the kind of support that music is getting, partly because there was never the same level of “hangers on” 😀 to support with their art. Brilliant to have that freedom in some ways but unless something is done to change the current model for delivery and consumption of creative digital work there will be a lot of poor AND lonely artists and writers out there. Well they can always make friends on Twitter, Facebook etc. Now I must ask my family to contribte their thoughts, them being neither poor nor lonely artists although I would say none of them would turn down a lotto win.

I am Jeannie Cusamano

Last night at about 11.15 Himself and I were watching the last episode in the first series of the Sopranos, “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano” when there was an almighty bang. The house shook. Then the sound of a car racing off. We looked at each other. It wasn’t a backfire because it wasn’t that sharp, contained sort of noise. It had a bass shuddery element to it. Considering someone was shot down the road last week, Himself decided to ring the police but even by the time he was finished there was a garda car across the road. In the next half an hour there were more garda cars, two fire brigades and an ambulance. We listened to the midnight news but nothing. 7am news this morning revealed that someone had thrown a grenade at a house across the road. A grenade. Somebody living near us owns grenades and thinks throwing them around is the best way to resolve an unpleasant work situation. It’s scary. Very scary. Thankfully no-one was hurt. RTÉ News: Gardaí probe Crumlin grenade attack: “Gardaí probe Crumlin grenade attack
Friday, 29 June 2007 11:04
A grenade has exploded in the front garden of a house in south Dublin.”