Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kristian Namez - a rant

Today I'll be mostly getting very pissed off about people who won't spell their names properly.

I don't hold much truck with txt lnguge or poor punctuation but I can grudgingly overlook the odd garbled SMS or a few grammatical slips - some people are just in a hurry or don't care as much about these things as I do. It still burns my eyes like acid when I have to read it but I stay cool and remind myself that not everyone shares my beliefs and besides, if licence hadn't been given at some point in history to badly juxtaposed syllables then the world would never have known Dutch or Finnish.

In any case, if txtng and bad grammar push the boundaries of acceptability, people really step over the line when they deliberately, and in full knowledge, insist on adapting "cool spellings" of their names.

The thin end of the wedge was people spelling their name as Jon or Kris and stuff. This was palatable, just. Not so however are linguistic fuck-ups like Jaymz instead of James, Erykah instead of Erica, Aedyn instead of Aidan, Exsaviour instead of Xavier, Klare as opposed to Claire, Antnee instead of Anthony. Pharrel taking over from Farrell. And Jewelyanna elbowing Julianna out of the way. The list is endless. I've googled all these, they're genuine, there's some poor bastards out there who have chosen to sign these on forms for the rest of their days. For God's sake people, the alphabet is getting raped out there!

I have a few theories as regards the rise of this wilful phonetic mangling. Obviously, rap artists and the like have been doing it for ages with their stage names and alot of people with bugger all talent, or anything else to lend them a sense of individuality, seem to think that making a similar hames of their own first names is a quick-buck way of earning some and standing out from the crowd. I'm glad to confirm that it's a case of mission accomplished in this respect, as all concerned now stand out, beacon-like, as prize shitheads.

Another reason that springs to mind as I type is that the Lord of the Rings movies made people want to spell their names in Tolkien's Elvish. Either that or they've seen the original Superman movies and thought some of the folks up on Krypton had nice names, such as Jor-El who was Superman's ould fella. Or maybe the Welsh language is secretly taking over the world, I dunno, whatever's happening people just aren't content to be called John and Mary any more.

All this of course deals with people who have been given normal names at birth and make a conscious decision later on to warp and distort them, I haven't even touched on parents who give their offspring a wretched start in life by saddling them with some God-awful name from the get-go.

For instance, a friend recently told me about some howyeh he heard screaming after her twins that were gambolling about on O'Connell Street. "Hee-ur, come back hee-ur Dolce and Gabbana or I'll fuckin' skin yis," she bellowed. I have no reason to believe this was made up.

Disastrous parental interventions like these, at such an early stage in one's life that no protest can be made by the offended party, are borne out of Mum and Dad's desire to make the child unique and have him bestride the earth with an instantly recognisable name that sets him apart from the herd. That's the nice way of thinking about it. The alternative explanation is that people who do this are utterly classless pond life who want to show off both their, ahem, highly developed fashion sense and willingness to embrace new cultures - which basically means that they watch too much trashy TV and therefore call their kids Tiffany Mercedes, Tyler Brandon, Foggy Mountain Dew, Cillit Bang and so on.

Look, I don't have the answers here. But whatever the fuck is going on, can people not just spell their fucking names properly and stop acting the tit.


PS: If you're interested in reading more, check this out. It'll make you cry: www.notwithoutmyhandbag.com/babynames/index.html
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Spotted oddity

Usually it's a case that people put in an apostrophe where it's not needed but one might be helpful here.

In other news, I can't seem to stop blogging. There's clearly something the matter with me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A comic tragedy in two acts

ooo- The Cast -ooo

A middle-aged nerd
One of the foreign birds that works in Lunch

Act 1
It is Tuesday 18th September 2007, 2.16pm. The characters are in Lunch, a small and confined sandwich bar on Lombard Street, Dublin. Middle-aged nerdy guy is wearing glasses and faded blue chinos hiked too far up like an American tourist's, showcasing very womanly-looking buttocks and a pot belly. He is ruddy cheeked and curly-haired, sweating lightly in a blue check shirt, has a mobile phone very visibly strapped to his waistband and looks like a cross between Christopher Biggins and the 'Colin' guy off the Fast Show (i.e. "I'm mad me!").

The Cashier is a young, very attractive lady of Italian origin, who speaks functional and broken English.

[Middle-aged nerd enters stage right]

Middle-aged nerd:
Eh, can I have a panini with roast beef, peppers and mayonnaise please

Yes, no problem, would you like it for take away or for to eat here?

I think I'll have it here thanks. (Pauses) Er...are you Polish? Spanish? French?

(Reddening slightly, confused by any conversation that falls outside the parameters of ordering or paying for food): Sorry, eh, what?

(Embarrassed): Oh nothing, sorry, eh...just...(laughs nervously and geekily)...eh, trying to guess where you're from. Always get it wrong, what? Ha ha. Ahem.

[There follows a brief awkward silence ]

Act 2

Cashier (realising): Oh I sorry, excuse me, I from Italy yes. Sorry I not understand first.

M.A.N (grinning): Ha ha, yes I see, the one I didn't say, typical! (Pauses, reflects a moment, then steps forward to the counter and leans across another customer trying to place an order). You know, in Italy you're probably more used to Antonios and Diegos. Over here it's all...(slows down speech for emphasis)...An-tos and De-cos. Ha ha ha....

Cashier: Sorry, what?

M.A.N: (Red-faced): Eh...it's a joke. I'm joking like. Just a joke.

Cashier: Oh yes of course (feigns laughter).

M.A.N: I'll sit down then.

Cashier: Ok.

Friday, September 14, 2007

One hundred years of Solitude

...by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Some book this. I've read one hundred pages and so far:

  • The protagonists have upped sticks and set up their own village in the Colombian wilderness because a ghost was haunting them - that of a murdered man done to death because he suggested the family patriarch was less than virile
  • He was reputed to be less than virile because his wife refused to have sex with him and a year into marriage their union remained unconsummated. This is because they were cousins and the wife was afraid of having a lunatic child with 20 fingers and a tail. They finally relented and all the kids were normal
  • One of the sons is hung like a horse and has fathered a child with a tarot-reading char lady who smells of smoke. He then runs away with the circus and comes back the size of a bull, performing feats of strength for payment and with "flatulence that withers the flowers."
  • In turns, the enterprising and eccentric father has thus far tried his hand at exploiting magnets to mine gold from the earth, using a magnifying glass as a weapon of mass destruction, alchemy, taking photos of God to prove he exists, inventing a source of perpetual energy, and at the novel's current juncture, has gone mad, begun speaking in tongues and is permanently tied up under a chestnut tree outside the house
  • The other son is a gifted silversmith and has just married a barely pubescent girl who still wets the bed. In his spare time, he's clairvoyant and was previously in love with a teen prostitute in a travelling roadshow who serviced 70 men a night to work off a debt incurred when she accidentally burned down her grandmother's house. (The vengeful grandmother is the one prostituting her and by rough calculation, she has three years of 70 men a night to go before release).
  • Travelling gypsies, who arrive regularly, flew around the village on a magic carpet and gave turns to local kids and nobody batted an eyelid or thought it worthy of comment
  • A small child turns up one day with her parent's bones in a bag and is promptly adopted. She has a furtive habit of eating clay and muck for comfort and eventually falls in love with a piano tuner which causes jealousy between her and her adopted sister, which in turn causes the latter to vow to kill her. Unfortunately, she curses her brother's wife and she dies instead
  • For some reason yet to be revealed, most of the male characters will at some stage die by firing squad
It's fair to say I'm looking forward to the rest of it. It really reminds me of my childhood.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Holiday hell

It is a holiday photograph familiar to many, one that you'll find in many family albums, a shot that brothers and sisters will pore over after Sunday lunch as they laugh and remember the good times they've just had on their trip away to the sun. The promise of fun, relaxation, sea, surf and good weather lure sun-worshippers away every year and most return with happy tales to tell.


However, for one Irish holiday-maker and his girlfriend, it was to turn into the holiday from hell. One that they were lucky to survive.


Three days into a break away in sunny Dubrovnik, Terence McDanger (31) and his girlfriend Persephone Van Dyke (45), decided to avail of one of the many boat trips on offer to the nearby trinity of islands off the coast of southern Croatia.

"It looked like it would be a lovely day-trip away," said McDanger, safely moored at his home in north county Dublin. "They made it sound so easy, just pay some money, get on a boat and off you go. Little did we realise what was going to happen."


The first inkling that all was not well became apparent when instead of the shiny, modern and sleek boat photographed in the brochures they had been shown, a small rickety-looking vessel turned up to ferry them to the island. It was a bad omen for the day.

"It looked like we'd become the victims of false advertising," McDanger added sagely. "It was just a little tug boat really. If I'd wanted a tug, I'd have asked for it."

With some reservations, the holiday-makers, about thirteen in all, stepped onto the rocking vessel and chugged slowly out to sea. As they took a last look back at civilisation shrinking behind them on the shore, many didn't realise how long it would be before they saw it again, or the brush with disaster they would have to endure before setting foot on the sweet sanctuary of its lands once more. The expectation was for calm, soothing seas and a day of relaxation, but it wouldn't turn out like that at all.

McDanger takes up the story once more.


"We got to the first of the three islands without much trouble. The sea was slightly choppy and some water splashed over the side of the boat and wet us, but we expected the water to be wet so that was ok.

"Apart from a small surprise burp that turned into one of those little mini-vomits about half-way over, I was pretty much alright. Nobody noticed and I took a drink of water and was ok, although Persephone was getting worried about her hair being made frizzy by the breeze and salt water. She looked a bit like Einstein after getting out of bed actually which I laughed at."


There was further disquiet when the captain of the boat, a swarthy Mediterranean type with stubble, greasy hair and a pirate's earring, announced that the planned trip to panorama the old city walls had been abandoned because of rough seas.

"We were quick to put two and two together," said McDanger. "Rough seas meant trouble. But things didn't seem too bad so we said nothing. There was no point in organising a mutiny or anything."


After a short stay on the first island, the group were transferred to a larger vessel for ferrying to the next stop. Although this boat looked more secure, the passengers were still far from becalmed.

"Okay, so we got a larger boat for ferrying to the next stop. Although this boat looked more secure passengers were still far from becalmed," McDanger echoed eerily.

The group pulled into the harbour of the next island with a great degree of difficulty. A much stronger wind had blown up and the captain had problems docking. He quickly announced that plans to have lunch on this island had been abandoned. It was too windy. The group would go elsewhere for food. The stay would be thirty minutes only. The air was fraught.

"The air was fraught," recalled McDanger. "We unwittingly spoke in short sentences. This is a literary device that raises tensions. We didn't know we were doing it. Had we realised, we'd have stopped. It might have taken the heat out of the situation. But we didn't. I'm sorry for it now. Damn. Bugger."


A windswept and bedraggled group barely had time to recover from the ever-encroaching nausea of the crossing before they were herded back on to the ship by the worried crew, who previously were unruffled and laughing (see picture), but were now looking anxiously to the skies with furrowed brows, stern faces, tightly-clenched jaws and presumably, tensed buttocks also.

As the ship chugged its way to the next island, the reason for the disquiet among the sailors became apparent. The vessel seemed to be in a degree of trouble.

"We were swaying a fair bit, tossing about, rising up and down and tipping from side to side in a sickening motion. Persephone was getting very worried and even though I laughed it off in a suitably manly, seafaring fashion, I too was beginning to get concerned. I was just thankful that the next island wasn't too far away."


After the short but choppy crossing to the next island, the crew docked the boat and fired up a barbeque for some fried chicken and fish. They passed out the plates and as the boat bobbed gently in the sheltered cove, passengers soon forgot their worries as they tucked in and drank the provided wine. After eating, refreshed and relaxed, the group disembarked and wandered off to enjoy the island. But an air of danger still hung over the day for McDanger, who used to joke that if Danger wasn't quite his middle name, it was definitely his surname. But not any more.

"I for one hadn't forgotten the incidental fact that we would have to get back on the boat and sail home later that day. The wine might have dulled the senses of the others but I wasn't so easily fooled. It was calm in the bay, sure, but beyond I just knew instinctively that a raging tempest of epic proportions was whipping up a frenzy on the seas, in preparation to chuck us about the Adriatic like a rubber ducky at the command of a boisterous child in the bath.

"Well, I knew it'd be rough, put it that way."


At approximately 7.30GMT, the group were assembled on the boat for the trip back to the mainland. This would be the longest leg of the journey and as such, the longest stay on the boat at a time of day when the breeze was at its strongest. The crew didn't pull any punches.

"The little scruffy guy with the beard that looked like a tramp told us to sit in the back of the boat. He waved his arms with a worried-looking face and said: 'Dee See. Eets big. Seet here pleese.' We knew we were in trouble then."

The trip home to the mainland was where the real drama ensued. By now the seas were high, the breeze was strong and cold and the little boat was forced to go slower than normal, which is about as fast as a horse and cart if the reader can imagine a horse and cart on the high seas. The boat tilted dangerously at the front and then dipped suddenly as the waves passed under the boat, giving a roller-coaster sensation to the passengers who felt like they might be tipped out. It lurched from side to side as it struggled to stay upright. Worried glances were exchanged as the group on board knew this wasn't normal. Waves of salt water regularly charged over the sides of the boat and drenched all on board. This wasn't what they'd signed up for at all.

"I was eating salt all the way home. It was all around my mouth in a crust like I was a fat greedy kid at the cinema who'd eaten too much popcorn. We were jammed into the boat like sardines, getting saturated. Make that salted sardines. It was extremely frightening. There was no life jackets I could see. I was feeling sick," McDanger explained.

"On more than one occasion I almost tipped out of my seat such was the force of the seas. Luckily, I was able to stabilise myself more than once on the large breasts of the Australian seated beside me. I admit it was irregular but it was like, where will I put my hands? Oh, there's some boobs. Great. She was a real sport about it. Before long, lots of people were falling into her cleavage. Everyone knew it was a team effort and I guess they just pitched in and sacrificed whatever was available to dangle from, body parts or whatever.

"There was a guy with huge flappy ears sitting near the front and people took turns to slot in behind him and use them as handlebars to stay upright. People were grabbing everything and anything to stay in the boat."


As the grasping, huddling group ground its way home, the journey time began to seem interminable. The high waves battering the ship felt like they were forcing the boat backwards instead of forwards, the diesel farts of the engine almost dying every time a swell was encountered. All the while, nausea increased on board and the prospect of an all-in chunder chain among the desperate, clutching passengers reared its head. Most had drank some beers on the last island and there was a definite possibility of a group spew given the churning effect of the seas.

"Man, if one person had barfed, that was it, we'd all have let rip. We didn't really want that. Wet, cold, frustrated, the icing on the cake would have been someone else's dinner all over your pants. I was a bit sick myself I have to say. I just held the breasts of the lady next to me and hoped it would go away.

"There was a girl across from me who had literally gone green, like she was standing in the glow of a green traffic light. She really looked like the damn was about to burst. I leaned over and said: 'Do you feel okay, can I give you a drink of water? Your face is completely green.' She smiled and said she was alright, her face always looked that colour. We all laughed and it helped lift the mood for a minute of two. But not for long."


Gradually, the boat inched its way towards shore. Landmarks on the mainland came into view.

"Yeah, we could see the mainland for ages. But I think we'd have been as well off to turn off the boat's engines and let continental drift get us home, it would have been quicker," McDanger explained with noticeable sarcasm.

"At one stage I thought all the salt water I'd swallowed was making me hallucinate and that the shore was just an illusion. Like, maybe we'd been abducted by the army of an underwater civilisation and were actually sailing unknowingly towards a lifetime of captivity. At one stage, I thought I saw a badger on deck wearing a silk dressing gown and smoking a pipe. All sorts of crazy shit was going through my head."

Slowly, slowly, the boat made its way to the mainland. The utterly bedraggled, soaked and angry passengers, all the while bucking and swaying in unison at the behest of the sea's chuckling conductor, could scarcely wait to get off the boat. Land neared at one stage and hopes rose but alas, the boat was scheduled to dock at another bay and so had to crawl past. It was almost the final blow but the passengers brushed off the disappointment and steeled themselves for yet more endurance on their almost biblical quest.


Finally, over two hours after setting off on its 12km voyage, the hapless M/B Mare spluttered to a halt in the bay of Lapad near Dubrovnik. Passengers destined for the old town were advised to disembark and get a bus home, or else stay in the boat for a further trip. Nobody needed to be told twice to get off, after the most excruciating sea-journey of their lives.

McDanger and his girlfriend were simply happy to see dry land again. Shaken, saturated, stomach lurching, they retired to their hotel room and didn't budge until the nausea dissipated and their appetites returned some hours later. Today they know they are lucky to be alive.

"When I look at the little things that used to annoy me, I smile to myself and am grateful to be here to experience them still," added McDanger. "My friends calling me a cock. Radge getting crotchety and telling me not to read stuff over his shoulder. A Monday fart on the train. Liverpool losing to Everton. Pubes in the shower.

"When I think of all that could have been lost at sea, I am truly thankful."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Holiday heaven

Croatia is a grand spot alright.

The pic above is a view from the old city walls, out to sea down towards Greece direction. It was a scorcher of a day, definite two showers weather and no mistake - maybe three.

T McD likes places like the old town Dubrovnik. Narrow cobbled streets, olde worlde charme that makes you add superfluous Es to the ende of wordes, copious restaurants and watering holes tucked away in the shade, sights, smells and unusual architecture. Nice folks too are the Croatians and unlike in other tourist traps, don't rape you with their beer charges. I was quaffing Lasko and Ozujsko and Karlovasco and other phonetically challenging beverages all week and wasn't putting a dent in three euros for some very fine pints indeed. Or Kuna as they spend over there, with the rule of thumb being to divide every price by seven which gives you a fair estimation of the euro equivalent.

Allow T McD to offer some advice at this stage. Dubrovnik is really only somewhere to spend about four days maximum. You'll comfortably and at your leisure see all there is to see in that time (the old town basically, as there's bugger all else to be honest) so unless you want to spend the rest of your time island-hopping (more of which anon), lying about toasting yourself in the sun, or get your kicks from swimming alot (I don't. That is to say, I can't), I'd think more in terms of a short stop over. Otherwise you'll be scratching your head for something to do after a few days.

Still, all things told, a jolly holiday overall and well pleased is MooDog and the other half, Miaow Cow (she'd be chuffed with this moniker. No, really). It's always nice to get away from grimy old Ireland, lock one's inner gym-Nazi in a locker and kick back and forget about it all. Weather-wise we had three belters of days at the start but on the day of the dreaded boat trip (more of which anon. Sorry for going on and on...) the sky had clouded over, a nippy little breeze got up and the temperature dropped considerably. It was much the same day after, pissed rain the day after that and finally, brightened up (but was still quite cool) on the last day. Felt a bit short-changed that mother nature chose my week's holiday to tinker with the previously uninterrupted sunshine and 30-degree temperatures, but such is life.

Food-wise, the standard is pretty even overall as well. But you'll quickly tire of the repetitive fare of risotto doused in squid ink (pass the bucket) as well as multifarious pizzas and pastas - they're all nice but I'd have loved an Indian meal or something.
Fact is, there's very little originality in the menus and when you've seen one you've seen them all. With my legendary appetite - surely by now positioned somewhere in the same stratosphere as Radge's fabled iron constitution - this was something of a let down also but nothing much to write home and moan about either which is why I'm venting it a la blog it in instead of bothering me Mammy with a letter about such trifles. Or the lack of trifles even. Ah whatever.

I'd recommend. It's an incredibly pretty place, the weather is usually purgatory-like if you prefer that flayed sinner look, it's reasonably priced, there's nice people and it's easy to get about as it's quite a compact little spot. And there's the history and culture too. Hard to believe the place was bombed as recently as 1992 but the pictures are there in the museums to prove it, although you'd never tell such has been the swiftness and diligence of the repairs.

By the way, my tan is hilarious. Brown arms, neck and face, complemented by a milky white torso.

This is because I never expose my breasts in public. Despite some very flattering financial offers.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Greetings from Hrvatska

So that's what Raikonnen does for kicks away from the track. Moo and woof from Croatia.