Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The grad bar is much quiter and slightly less fun without 'M', a much missed barlady currently raising hell in Australia.

Jimmny Homunculus: Not available at your local library!.

An esteemed colleague and all round saint and scholar with the literature crowd contacted me with some great news: “Your blog has a DDR score (whatever that is) of 226. That means it's too foul mouthed to view in a library. Congratulations!”. I was in the Forum on Saturday and tried to access the site and a warning came up that this blog was 'unsafe to view', I’m so proud. It will only encourage me to swear more and up the sleaze content (if that were at all possible). The alternative is to use only archaic slang: goon, mooks, rubes, pukes etc., which I often try anyway as in "get out of my face you lousy puke", which, as I have found to my cost, is not the correct response to students' questions. Essay deadlines for my TV studies students are imminent. They send me hilarious emails with stuff like ‘did I miss any thing really important in class?’ and ‘I’m thinking about doing this essay, can you recommend any good books?’. I’m like, what the fuck! do I have 'Amazon' or 'Google' stamped on my forehead. Go into the library, and in the little search box write ‘Television’ and, as if by magic, books about TV manifest themselves, see if any are relevant and, you know, maybe try and learn something.

Every time you think spring has arrived, winter cackles and gives you another parting boot up the hole*. It’s been snowing today, as Corneilious has been expertly documenting. I don’t understand snowballs. It’s like the weather is an excuse to throw things at people. When it rains, you don’t get to douse people with buckets of water. When it’s sunny, you don’t run up to people with a sun lamp and shine it in their faces. Perhaps some biographical explanation for my aversion to snowballs is in order. I went to an all-boys seminary in rural Ireland (about as much fun as it sounds). It was a bit like Alcatraz. That analogy doesn’t quite work, people—well, Clint—actually escaped from Alcatraz. Come to think of it, some of my class ‘mates’ could well have been paper-mâché replicas; it’s hard to tell.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I got hit full on the face once with a large snowball and,*plink* the right lens of my glasses fell out and into a nearby snowdrift. I had to spend double art (in a needle-in-a-haystack stylee) trying to find a bit of transparent plastic in a big fucking pile of frozen water. Never trust anyone who says that school days were the best days of his or her lives. Funnily enough snowballs were the least of my worries, don't get me started on the time someone threw a dead seagull at me! I mean, who throws dead seagulls. We lived in a landlocked county, did the dead-seagull thrower bring it in to school specifically to throw at people? I would love to see the report card of the thrower, "although lacklustre in History, student X is an excellent dead-seagull thrower and could well make it as a professional dead-seagull tosser". Relating this story at home once, one of my sisters revealed the startling fact that she was also hit in the back with a dead seagull...what are the chances?

*As Dylan Moran points out in the commentary for Black Books, 'hole'is a word for arse that is much underused (outside Ireland). Like if you want express to an authority figure that you are disinclined to carry out a requested task, you could say 'hang it out your hole', or as I learned while working nights in a bakery, it can also be used in impolite investigations into one's 'nocturnal maneurves' as in 'did you get your hole last night?'

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bastarding back-fucking-up barrels.

"Write damn ye! what else are you good for!"...*

Doing a PhD is kind of like having a gangster in charge of your life. To quote Henry Hill: “That's the way it is with a wiseguy partner. He gets his money no matter what. You got no business? Fuck you, pay me. You had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. The place got hit by lightning? Fuck you, pay me.” In a PhD scenario you pay in words written and no matter how many you do it's never enough. Extenuating circumstances don’t enter into it. You could be curled up in a foetal position, your stomach in knots crying over the futility of it all, it doesn’t matter, you still have to get up, bleary eyed and cotton wool gobbed, and write the fucking PhD. You could meet the ostensible love of your live and rut like a maniac 24/7, it doesn’t matter you still have to get up, maybe with frozen peas on your bits, and write the fucking PhD. You could win the lottery, get run over, be abducted by aliens or accidentally elected the new president of an unstable South American country, it doesn’t matter you still have to write your fucking PhD.

On a less spectacular note, you could also do your back in like me from moving bastarding back-fucking barrels around.--See above!--it doesn’t matter I still have to write my fucking PhD. It’s a calling, we’re like film studies monks. It would be nice to go to a nightclub or the cinema this weekend like a normal person, perhaps one could meet that special someone, but it’s hard when you’ve got the psychological equivalent of the Ant Hill Mob poking a Tommy Gun in your back, saying: "Finish the fucking PhD...bub!" Show me a person that thinks doing his or her PhD is easy and I’ll show a person who is either a)lying or b) not thinking hard enough or c) a soulless robot from the future that is specifically programmed to write PhDs...I think I’ve met a few of them.

*a wee quote from James Joyce for high art brigade.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Homunculus HQ!

Nymphomaniac robots in a big dustbin.

These days I’m less a person and more a nebulous gas of such loosely connected entities as sleeplessness, lust, superheroes, academic writing, caffeine, and music. Don’t get me wrong it’s great. It’s my natural state. It reminds me of when I did my masters, back in 1999. Due to the insane Dublin housing boom and rent increases, I shared a room with one of my best friends (bizarrely after such an experience he still is). I wrote almost my entire MA thesis on David Cronenberg inside a walk-in wardrobe during sleepless nights before my 9-5 shifts as a general office monkey in a crooked law-adjusting firm.
My inspirational thinking to get the job done was to imagine the wardrobe was a capsule aloft in space and I could only return to earth if I finished a certain amount of words, a la the capsule-bound astronaut/DJ of Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney. The soundtrack to such exploits was invariably Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and the ever-present Pixies / Frank Black / Breeders back catalogue.

My sister’s boyfriend gave me a CD burner recently as a belated Christmas/birthday present, and I have been enjoying the quintessential modern pleasure of promiscuous cd burning and related copyright theft. True to form my first ever iTunes download was The Pixies' “Bam Thwok”. It fills me with joy to hear these fortysomethings still sounding shit-cool among the current gaggle of tousle-haired mooks. It's funny how trends in band names go, back in the early nineties it was all single-syllables: Pulp, Blur, Cud, Verve, Curve. Now it's 'The Somethings': The Kills, The Killers, The Stills, The Hives, The Libertines etc etc. It has all the originality of Robert Ludlum book title which always has to be called 'The Something Something'.

Mood music’s all well and good, but what if your mood is frustration and lustful sleeplessness? What then! Well thankfully there are some amazing labels that I’m getting into that produce music that sounds like Nymphomaniac robots at it in a big dustbin:
Warp records (which already had my undying respect for releasing Christopher Morris’s Blue Jam) have Squarepusher, which sounds like drunken computers arguing.
On a quirkier note, there’s the excellent Oakland label Tigerbeat6 (Anything from ‘Philip K. Dick country’ has to be good!). Their compilation, "Open Up and Say..." features Cex’s track 'Stillnaut Rjyan' with the lovely lines,

My spaceship’s ON FIRE!
There’s a snake in my SPACE SUIT!
Mission control have all gone home
They say they can replace you!

Which inadvertently led to my reminiscences of that Dublin walk-in wardrobe. I told a new friend this recently, she commented, “you really are obsessed with science fiction aren’t you?” I think that’s a fair assessment, (or understatement)...I think a ‘drip-drip’ approach about revealing my other “interests” is advisable, don’t you? I'm back in the capsule tonight and will not leave until the damn Batman chapter is finished.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Alternative St Valentine's Day card design...

Feck Valentine's Day 2: A disgruntled saint writes....

Although stories vary, one of the main accepted ‘origin stories’ for St. Valentine is that he was priest who continued to offer Christian weddings while the Romans were outlawing them. He was jailed and eventually executed, before this he apparently wrote letters to the jailor’s daughter signing them…’from your Valentine’. I used to think he actually got his heart ripped out by Salome type character, which would make a better story.

The following is an open letter from St. Valentine to the sundry couples of the world for this shittest of holidays, I apologise in advance for the language, he’s a very angry saint:

To whom it concerns,

Cheers!...thanks a lot!...I get beheaded by those fecking Romans for continuing to offer Christian marriages, and you lot celebrate by being guilted into buying sundry pink plastic crap and chocolate lumps of shite to give each other. Oh and, lest we forget, you try that little bit harder in the sack with your embarrassing fumblings…to make your sweaty gruntings extra ‘special’ on St. Valentine's Day...good luck with that.

While hovering around this stinking plane the other day, I saw pink fucking Pringles! I shit you not, they looked like slices of pig innards...what the fuck does that have to do with me being incarcerated in a prison and writing a love note to the jailor’s daughter. It was hardly love, I was in fucking prison for fuck’s sake, you know, death row stylee, I would have written a love note to a discarded mop if I had to suffer another month in that hole...the jailor’s daughter was the only ‘lady’ for miles around...and I’m not even sure she was a lady.

I myself will be celebrating ‘my’ day on a bed of pornography with some autoerotic sex experiments that go tragically right, (why do you only ever hear about the ones that go wrong on the news?) watching down laughing as this excuse for a holiday (i.e. it doesn’t involve eating until you burst, drinking till you puke or having sex with as many people as possible) strains all your relationships to the point of heartbreak. I might nip out and watch you all trying to get a table at Pizza Express and spending hours deciding who has the last dough ball.

Peace out, breeders….

St. Val.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Plank smacks and pint procrastinations….

It’s great to see young Corneilious back on the blogging job as it were, after an all too long absence. Were I a resident of some far-flung land I would think that the people he describes are the feverish fabrications of a frenzied me they are all too real. Another electronic cohort, Steve Plume of sausage fans (no, it’s not that type of site), alerted me to this fine source of ‘anti-valentine’s’ e-cards with such messages as "It’s ok, I didn’t need that particular ventricle anyway" and "You'll do".

Anyway, knowing I would find myself at the computer at about fucking five in the morning to try and get something done before this afternoon, I was particularly garrulous to my bar customers last night. It was Super bowl Sunday and some rugby thing’s also on, oh and the Spanish football. There is something bizarre and hilarious about the look of the average straight male barfly who finds out you DON’T LIKE SPORT! It’s like 'burn the witch' time! They say things like ‘your lot did well yesterday’ and I’d go ‘I don’t know what you’re on about, is it football or rugby or something..?’ an inevitable silence follows and then they say ‘It’s the SIX NATIONS!!’. I’m like ‘fuck you! I don’t make you watch Buckaroo Banzai or The Prisoner or something, so don’t foist your bizarre 'men-running-after-balls' interests on me.

Anyway, I’d rather serve a hundred pints to those goons than serve the type of person who spends an inordinate amount of time deciding what to drink from the following (self-prescribed) options:
1. half pint of orange juice or
2. half pint of soda water with lime or
3. half pint of soda water with blackcurrant or
4. just a half pint of soda water.

This isn’t a life-changing decision by any standards, yet the facial expressions of such people is normally that of some mythical or religious character deciding which of their offspring to eviscerate. We’re talking here of things that cost between .00p and .60p. Plus why are they so miserable? They’re in a pub. Maybe it’s the Irish in me, but being in pubs is fun. I forget I’m in England, where the look on blokes’ faces when they choose their solitary pint of weak ale is like that of a condemned man choosing his execution option.

Worse than the costumers who have crippling beverage-based indecision problems, are those that seem to have indecision about being in third-level education at all. I’ve wanted to lecture and write about films ever since I knew the job existed. Not as dramatic as "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster..." but pretty damn close—I haven’t yet got to drive around with Joe Pesci and a corpse though (although with job competition in academia these days, who knows).

Anyway, these wistful mooks come up to the bar and say things like: "I did my degree and masters here and just thought I might as well do a PhD, seeing as I’m here and that". Fuck! That’s like saying "I just sort of found myself in a lumber yard and started to hit myself over the head with a plank, and as I spent four years smacking myself in the face with a bit of wood, I thought I might as well just keep smacking myself in the face with a fucking plank for another four years...while trying to decide what mediocre beverage I want".