Pursued by a Bear »

  • If you only do one thing seasonal this weekend …

    December 17, 2010 @ 9:54 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Listen: As the year winds down, there are fewer international act skipping around  but plenty of local Irish bands are putting on a spread for your delectation. Trad meisters Kila will be ripping the roof off Tripod this weekend, Richie Egan will be up to his usual high Japes at the Button Factory tonight, and Vicar Street is currently clearing out room in its stables to house Villagers next Tuesday. But our favourite selection this weekend is the Workman’s Christmas Party on Saturday night, where post rockers Halves will be playing tracks from their delightful new album It Goes It Goes, which has been sneaking its way on to plenty of best Irish releases of the year lists. Shoring up the bill will be the rather excitable Alarmists, with Straight Laces bringing a sense of decorum to proceedings. (more…)

  • The Ballads of John and Yoko

    @ 8:20 am | by admin

    Daragh Downes here with your third installment from The Ticket Album Club. To mark the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, we gave our four guests a copy of Double Fantasy (Stripped Down), a radical new mix of the 1980 album which Yoko Ono has commissioned from original producer Jack Douglas.

    Our December Album Clubbers were:

    -Iconic singer-songwriter and friend of The Beatles, Donovan
    -Union of Students in Ireland Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Officer, Siobhan McGuire
    -Irish Times columnist and author, Fintan O’Toole
    -Church of Ireland curate for Rathfarnham, Dublin, Rev. Anne Taylor. (more…)

  • What’s that, Skip? Paul Murray has got another plaudit?

    December 15, 2010 @ 9:49 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    It seems us Irish folk are getting validation from all over the globe at the moment – once we’re talking about arts that is, and not that whole finance/banks/nama shmama situation.

    First, Nialler9 gets named as one of the top five music blogs in the world (high fives all round) and then Paul Murray gets named in Time magazine’s top 10 fiction books of the year. He didn’t just scrape in either – he pushed no less than Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan down to the wire and took third spot.

    As the year draws to a close, journalists spend their time doing two things – looking back over the previous 11-ish months, and looking forward to what will be lighting up our lives in the next 12 months (so never, ever release anything in December if you want some decent media coverage).

    While the music journos across the board have been rejoicing in what a quality year it has been for Irish music – and they are not wrong, thanks to the likes of Villagers, And So I Watch You From Afar, Two Door Cinema Club, O Emperor, Jennifer Evans, James Vincent McMorrow, Halves, Strands, ah I’ll stop now because yer all making me sick – we’ve also had a cracker of a year on the literature front, and perhaps this has slipped under the arts radar a touch.

    Skippy Dies is the book everyone has been talking about, but Colm Toibin brought out a fine collection, John Boyne’s latest children’s book is going down a storm, I’m looking forward to reading Neil Jordan’s new work, Emma Donoghue was grabbing all the international plaudits, and there were some excellent additions to the sporting books canon, which in itself an often overlooked section. Derek Landy is all set to become a household name, Seamus Heaney is in effortlessly magisterial form, and again I’ll stop now because etc and so on.

    So hats off to Messer Murray, thoroughly deserving of all the plaudits and back slaps heading his way. We might be rubbish at managing our finances but, as a nation, we still know how to spin a yarn or two. And bedam ye can’t put a price on that.

    And because everyone loves a lovely list, here is that Time magazine top 10:

    Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
    Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (hurrah!)
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
    Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
    Wilson by Daniel Clowes
    Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
    How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
    The Passage by Justin Cronin
    Faithful Place by Tana French

  • A little critical input for all you writers

    December 13, 2010 @ 10:24 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    When you work or are engaged in the arts, the best thing you can probably hope for is constructive criticism of your work. Yes, everyone loves to hate a critic, but solid, informed opinions can tell you an awful lot more about your own work then any amount of friends’ rave reviews. Most artists or musicians, when they get a bad review, have a tendency to feel misunderstood, but the good ones will suck it up and see what there is to learn from it (this assumes, of course, that the critic is up to the job, but in my experience, if they are writing for a reputable source, then there will be a grain of truth to what they have to say).

    One writer pops into the Irish Times office for a chat after receiving a particularly scathing review

    Good criticism and a steady helping hand are not easy to come by, and this is especially true for writers, which is why workshops and group sessions are a good option for those looking to improve their writing. Greg Baxter, no stranger to criticism himself from both sides of the literary fence, is organising a particularly interesting course simply called Prose through his Some Blind Alleys online entity.

    Baxter will be leading the 10-week course from February 21st, with one two-hour class per week on Nassau Street in Dublin. Those wishing to apply must submit 1,500 words of fiction and non-fiction (combined), so expect the class to know the shape of things. The idea, says Baxter, is to “find a way, through literature, to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. We are going to try to connect words to the sensation of being alive today. We are not going to write fiction or nonfiction. We’re going to write prose, and we’re going to discuss perceived and possibly real differences between fiction and autobiography.”

    Participants will begin a large piece that will take shape as the course develops, and the reading commitment will be heavy.

    “This course suits people who are already committed to writing and thinking about writing, and who are prepared to read a lot, and discuss the reading enthusiastically in class,” says Baxter. “It won’t suit people who need deadlines, or who wonder why what they write isn’t getting published.” No journalist need apply then (heh heh).

    Baxter is setting the bar high with this one – among the writers on his ambitious reading list are Thomas Bernhard
, Muriel Spark
, Tolstoy, Kafka, 
Bruno Schulz, Wittgenstein, 
Lydia Davis,
Henry Miller
Czeslaw Milosz. If you reckon you are up to the challenge, get your pitches in to editor@someblindalleys.com by January 7th.

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

    December 10, 2010 @ 11:40 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Hear: Most of you in the capital will be getting a little Godspeed in your life tonight at Tripod, but as a cracking alternative Dave Celia is in town tonight, followed by a small tour to Galway and Cork. He played a few dates here in the summer ahead of a Glastonbury show, and his engaging, crafted songwriting is well worth checking. But don’t take our word for it – have a look here and make up your own mind.

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  • Balancing books, and splashing the cash

    December 8, 2010 @ 11:35 am | by Laurence Mackin

    It’s pretty much as you were in terms of the wider Budget and the Arts sector in particular. There were few surprises in store, although a bit more detail filled in a few gaps in our knowledge (those of you working for any of the larger arts organisations might want to look away now). (more…)

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

    December 2, 2010 @ 8:06 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    See: The way to empower yourselves, women, is to buy stuff and have loyalty cards for shops in town, and only watch television in the evening with a glass of wine. So say the characters of Ellamenope Jones, the latest acerbic, razor-edged play from Wayne Jordan. The main character – played by a sphinx-like Kathy Rose O’Brien, sets up a pyramid scheme (cunningly called ‘a pyramid scheme’, the wench) and lures in unsuspecting ladies who want to lunch with all the charm of a spider about to devour her young. Oh, don’t despair, there are bursts of song and dance routines to liven the whole thing up. This is a whip-smart, laugh out loud play – don’t expect stirring insight, do expect an evening of theatrical, over-the-top fairly adult entertainment at the Project in Dublin. (more…)

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