Pursued by a Bear »

  • Read seven books and feel superior to your fellow man

    November 29, 2010 @ 9:07 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    We’re a bit slow on the uptake on this, but a lovely little meme (is that what this is called online savvy people?) has being doing the social-network rounds of late.

    Incidentally, doesn’t that make it sound glamorous? Except instead of drinks at an opening night and people dressed to the nines, it’s people in bed, wrapped up against the cold with just the warmth of a laptop screen and the wit of Twitter to keep them going, face lit up milkily by artificial light while the tea cools to a sludge and the biscuits migrate from plate to crummy, duvet existence.

    But I digress – the BBC came up with a top 100 books of all time, in it’s Big Read survey, and as to be expected it’s packed with bilge. Oh alright, it’s actually quite high brow, this being the BBC (and anyway how does one pack bilge?), but there are still a decent handful of stinkers in there to make the literary snobs (ie me and probably you) feel nice and smug, which warms us up quicker than any laptop screen. And, by the by, the list doesn’t even include the greatest book of all time. Then, in a follow-up survey, the BBC found that on average people had read only six books from the list.

    So many have you read? Go on, boast a little. That list in full:

    1. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
    2. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
    3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
    4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
    5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    6. The Bible
    7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
    8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
    9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
    10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
    11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
    12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
    13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
    14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
    15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
    16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
    17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
    18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
    19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
    20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
    21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
    22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
    23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
    24. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
    26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
    27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
    29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
    30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
    31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
    32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
    33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
    34. Emma – Jane Austen
    35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
    36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
    37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
    38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
    39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
    40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
    41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
    42. The Da Vinci Code
    43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
    45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
    46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
    47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
    48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
    49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
    50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
    51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
    52. Dune – Frank Herbert
    53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
    54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
    55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
    56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
    58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
    59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
    60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
    62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
    63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
    64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
    65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
    66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
    67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
    68. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
    69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
    70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
    71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
    72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
    73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
    75. Ulysses – James Joyce
    76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
    77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
    78. Germinal – Emile Zola
    79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
    80. Possession – AS Byatt
    81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
    82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
    83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
    84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
    85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
    87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
    88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
    89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
    91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
    92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
    94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
    95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
    96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
    97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
    98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
    99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
    100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

  • If you only do one thing this weekend …

    November 26, 2010 @ 11:21 am | by Laurence Mackin

    See: It’s a last chance for a glimpse at the Gabriel Metsu goods over at the National Gallery folks. The exhibition closes on Sunday, December 5th so if you haven’t seen the Dutch master in the flesh, then do try and pop along. In his day (the golden age of Dutch art, no less) Metsu was considered the equal of Vermeer and his ilk, and this excellent exhibition provides ample evidence why, with its fine collection of 40 works.

  • How will the arts react to the four-year plan?

    November 24, 2010 @ 2:33 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Arts organisations must be trembling at the thoughts of what’s in store in the Doomsday budget, coming to an apocalypse near you on December 7th. At the same time, we should probably be seeing plenty of excellent work, with ideas fuelled (if not funded) by the times in which we are living.

    The boom years may have given us plenty of arts centres around the country (many of which are proving to be white elephants) but they certainly didn’t inspire a whole lot of interesting theatre, books or film around the phenomenon. That’s not to say there weren’t good books or theatre produced in the past decade or so, but there are few that took the Celtic bull by the horns.

    Now we live in, ahem, interesting times, so in the near future it will be interesting to see what role artists play. The public anger at what this country is experiencing is fertile ground for the writers and artists among us; there are stories to be told whose resonance could well last as long as our IMF repayments.

    The audience’s appetite also seems to be as healthy as ever, regardless of belt tightening. Both the Dublin Fringe and Theatre Festivals had very healthy years at the box office, with a few records being set in the case of the Fringe. The Abbey’s biggest headache of late seemed to be finding enough seats for people to see John Gabriel Borkman and the Plough and the Stars; and the Gate had a terrific run with Death of a Salesman.

    So what happens next? Hopefully, the organisations that are punching above their weight will continue to do so, and produce shows and work of the calibre of recent years. Even if budgets get cut, ideas will still foment. Here’s hoping that a lack of funding doesn’t stop these ideas getting the space and the audience they deserve.

    The Arts Council has already published its plans for the next three years (which you can read here) although this plan was released at the end of October so all bets could be off after the main Budget. The Government has now published its four-year plan (which you can read here)  in which it says; “The Tourism, Culture and Sport area will contribute savings of €76 million by 2014” with a reduced  allocation to cultural institutions and cultural projects expected to bring in €5 million in 2011. The Government also expects to save a further €50 million from 2011 to 2014 from Tourism, Culture and Sport, through (among other cuts) a “reduction in allocation to the Arts Council and other Cultural activities”. It seems that the majority of these savings will be made in the sports and tourism sectors.  We will put up more details as we get them, and check The Irish Times website here for updates.

  • The Boy With The Happy Clap

    November 19, 2010 @ 8:06 am | by admin

    Daragh Downes here with your second monthly instalment from The Ticket Album Club. For November we gave a copy of Belle & Sebastian Write About Love to:

    -O Emperor frontman Paul Savage
    -Musician & music buff Paul Clarke
    -Fight Like Apes frontwoman Mary-Kate Geraghty, a.k.a. MayKay
    -Ross O’Carroll-Kelly author Paul Howard.

    All four spent some serious quality time with the album before coming into us and sharing their thoughts with one another. As you will see if you dip into the extended highlights below, these guys were way too interesting to reach anything as silly as a unanimous verdict on the thing. They also had some pretty thought-provoking things to say about (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend ….

    November 18, 2010 @ 7:43 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen to: Them Galwegians reckon they are the coolest cats around, but this weekend they might just have a point, as the Galway Jazz Festival smokes its cigarettes languidly in the sharpest suit, one elbow perched upon the bar while the other free hand snaps a 7/4 rhythm. Showing the city of the tribes how is boss this weekend are Trio VD from the UK (it stands for Valentine’s Day, you heathen); the Pascal Schumacher Quartet from Luxembourg; and Ibrahim Electric from Denmark, who played a funky blinder at the Kilkenny Arts Festival during the summer. One for the jazz and the non-jazz among you. No really. Click here for the fine print.

  • Sharing a room with superstars

    November 17, 2010 @ 4:20 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    The other day I was on the wireless speaky box on The Kiosk, Phantom FM’s arts and culture show, reviewing Jane Eyre at the Gate and the Proustian enigma within a riddle within a self-obsessed bubble that is Fade Street. (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend …

    November 12, 2010 @ 1:32 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen: If music be the food of love then this weekend there’ll be more getting it on around the country than at a Marvin Gaye tribute night. Swedish songsters Dungen are in Whelan’s on Saturday for a rare live appearance, with firm support from local lads Halves, and if you manage to make it to Monday without blowing all your cash, crack Brit outfit Foals will be showing the Olympia who is boss, following their storming set at this year’s Electric Picnic.

    However, gig of the weekend has got to be the revolving triumvirate of And So I Watch You From Afar, Fionn Regan and Jape. They kicked off proceedings in the Roisin Dubh last night, tonight Cork will be playing host to the tour, and Saturday night sees them take Limerick by storm, before the rest of the country gets its go next weekend. Support on each night is from a local act of note. Top drawer stuff all round then.

    See: Andrea Corr and Stephen Brennan are getting most of the theatrical attention in The Gate in Jane Eyre, but the best show in town is further north of the capital in the Helix. Dancing at Lughnasa is ageing more than gracefully, and this production is up there with the best of them. Peter Crawley, Theatre Critic of this newspaper says “David Horan directs a superb cast through a phenomenal play.” He’s not wrong.

    Hear: Opera Ireland is preparing for its curtain call, before it becomes part the new National Opera company, but there is still some time for a few fat ladies to sing. As a farewell gig, Tosca is a strong choice, and although the production is at the Gaiety until November 21st, tomorrow night see the tuxes being dusted off and the tiaras getting an extra slick of polish for a gala night performance.

    If you feel like splashing €150 in cash, you get a pre-show champagne reception, best-in-house tickets, and a post-show meet the cast shindig, along with a few more velvet-rope-style trimmings. See Operaireland.ie for details, or just check out the show like a normal punter, with tickets starting at €25.

    Feel free to make your own recommendations below. And to get your fingers clicking on this beautiful wintry afternoon, here’s a little something special. A recent article in the Irish Times Magazine looked at the cream of Irish music video talent (you can read it here), and one of the talking camera heads was Eoghan Kidney, so here is his excellent video for the wonderful Shit Robot. Can I get a woo hoo from the left aisle? Amen to that.

  • All you need to know to make a masterpiece

    November 9, 2010 @ 6:29 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    What makes a masterpiece? What is it about a piece that makes the hair stand on end, the blood boil, the pulse race and the eyes widen in wonder? Why are some paintings so effective and so unapologetically and brutally authentic that walking into a room with them, you can feel their presence humming off the walls, even before your eyes have crossed the room to try and take them in? (more…)

  • If you only do one thing this weekend . . .

    November 4, 2010 @ 6:09 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen to: Oh misspent youth – if only you had been misspent in a much more disastrous fashion, we could have had the drug-filled, booze-soaked, Z-list-celebrity-decorated biography banged out by now and retired to the Lebanese hills on the proceeds. But instead, the most you could manage was listening to some (admittedly very fine) loud music, most notably Therapy’s Troublegum. And tonight, they are returning the favour of your teenage adulation by playing the album in full at Vicar St. Top class.

    But this is not a blog that lives in the past, clinging desperately to its dwindling youth (well, apart from on Tuesdays). We are firmly about the future. So Sligo is the aural destination of choice where tonight Young bucks Halves will be playing tracks from their sumptuous new album It Goes, It Goes in the Model Arts Centre. A perfect combination of venue and act, we reckon.

    See: It’s good to see the country getting properly angry for a change. Apathy be damned, we’re an active lot, and if you need reminding what a small group of determined people can achieve, then look no further than Strike!, which ends its run on Saturday at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin. It tells the extraordinary story of the traders on Henry Street who organised a boycott of South African goods in 1984 to bring attention to the Apartheid regime. There’s nothing like a little homegrown revolution to stir the blood.

    Take in: Over in Galway, they don’t do the arts by half, and right now another feast for the eyeballs and the mind has taken over the city. The Tulca season of contemporary visual art is bringing local and international exhibitions, unexpected live-art performances and discussions and talks with artists to the tribal people, and admission is free to all events. Get lost in the 48ft maze, learn how to move mountains with Francis Alys, or pick a fight at one of the series of talks. See tulca.ie for more details.

    I’ll do the time, I swear to god. If it’s good enough for Fraser Crane …

    Try and steal: Okay, don’t try and steal this stuff, but believe us you’ll want to. Sometimes furniture can be just as beautifully made and easy on the eye as a fine piece of art, so check out this pop-up shop in Dublin’s Gallery One by Fuse. It is a selection of vintage and salvaged furniture, many of which are in classic, familiar shapes that bear more than a passing resemblance to some classic design pieces (there are few crimes I wouldn’t commit for an original Eames chair. Honestly, I’m open to offers.) This is a neat tie in with Dublin Design Week, which winds down this weekend. See designweek.ie if you haven’t already, and check out the Design Trail to get the most out what there is still to see. 

    So that is our little list for the weekend that’s in it. Feel free to have your two cents worth but declare an interest where you have one. And to set you off into the sunset here is the rather splendid Temper by Strands. Aaaaaah, now that’s all better isn’t it? Cure what ails you, that will, cure what ails you. 

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  • The world’s scariest sounds

    November 1, 2010 @ 11:42 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    And we’re back. After a few weeks of jetsetting and general lounging, we’re back chained to our usual hot keyboard post, with nothing but coffee and the (metaphorical) whip of the editor’s whip to keep us focused, so normal artistically minded service is here by resumed. We apologise for the interruption in service, but even dancing bears need holidays, you know. Two whole weeks without once hearing the word Nama. It’s bliss I tell you, pure bliss.

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