Will You Be Tired on Monday? Because Wrestling Is On.

Around this time every year, late March, early April, there is a manic fever that sweeps across wrestling fans worldwide. At this mid-Lental time, be we fasting or feasting, there is an unashamed break from normal interactions when we, as a collective fan-base, gorge our senses with the lights and sounds and colours of the showiest show of shows, the most expensively elaborate spectacle for a taste so peculiar that only the Eurovision comes close in its eccentricity.

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WrestleMania.

Whether you have any knowledge of it previously or if this is the first time this particular portmanteau has scarred your retinas, you can get any and all information you need to know about the occasion from the very name itself.

It involves jamming together things that normally wouldn’t be jammed together, it’s slamming together of Wrestle and Mania gives echoes of the Super Bowl, something manufactured to be big, an idea wholly and unabashedly American. It is a word bigger than itself, a depiction of an overwrought occasion (much like this description) where organisers and fans alike obsess and craze over the topic and that topic, you probably have guessed, is wrestling.

Sometimes there’s not enough wrestling, but there is, without fail, plenty of mania. TLC II at WrestleMania 17 where Edge Speared Jeff Hardy off the ladder, WrestleMania XXII where Edge Speared against Mick Foley onto a table of fire, the Undertaker nearly breaking his neck at WrestleMania XXV; these moments inspire lads to either become daredevil wrestlers or make them realise this shit hurts and just watch it instead.

There are also legitimately great stories told at WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels v The Undertaker at both XXV and XXVI being insane. If this promo does not raise your interest in their story or what they are capable of producing, then I am afraid I cannot help.

And this year’s edition, WrestleMania XXIII, takes place in Orlando, Florida this Sunday, April 2nd, and the WWE are ready and rearing to deliver an assault on all available senses to its 70,000+ live audience as well as the million plus watching online through their semi-successful/semi-failing self-streaming platform of the WWE Network.

The card looks similar to that of an overfed cow; you will get good, tasty cuts of meat from it, you could well garner some milk from its udders, but there is a high possibility of fatty substances getting in the way. And a severe threat of gaseous emissions too.

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Many cows were eaten in the making  of this picture.

Last year, in Arlington, Texas, WrestleMania XXXII saw the confirmation of a women’s wrestling “revolution” in the company with Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch getting actual time to showcase their talent, while the belated coronation of Roman Reigns as WWE Champion finally occurred to a maelstrom of abuse. This show also provided us with a far too elaborate spot involving Shane McMahon, a table, and a mental amount of distance and gravity.

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JESUS CHRIST SHANE WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS AWFUL BUT AMAZING BUT AWFUL BUT REMEMBER HE’S ALIVE OKAY

But besides those “Moments™” – something the management wanted to push down our throats until we accepted it and coughed up a lung with the suffocation – it was a rather vanilla-esque event for something pushed as the Grandest Stage of Them All. And one of the main factors of this has been cited as an exhausting running time of 4+ hours. Even as an excited red dwarf as a part of the gigantic WWE Universe™, the event brought me to sleep at times from complete boredom.

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This is a photograph of me the next day at work srsly

And this year is more of the same, four hours of a main show prefaced with a seemingly excessive two hours of a pre-show. So, will the quality be there over the course of the hours? Will it improve on last year’s effort? Has the company and its storytelling evolved, or just got better?

Well, a year on from its self-promoted revolution of its treatment of its women contingent, they have still at times floundered in its booking decisions, Bayley’s championship win on Raw to set her up as a babyface champion going into WrestleMania being one I would raise – my argument being a babyface is better chasing than defending. But dropping pushes and storylines brings them up to the level of their male counterparts, so in one respect they’re doing A-okay. The four way this Sunday only adds to frustration of a preferred match up of Charlotte and Bayley, the other women added in because no other storyline really caught traction with the audience. So, treated exactly like their male counterparts on Raw.

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All smiles now, but wait til a few slaps are thrown.

But over on brand SmackDown Live, it has been hit after hit in keeping up several stories at one time – imagine women being able to do that! SmackDown Live seems to be surpassing Raw specifically in story quality and the women there are far passed their Monday rivals. However, for all their work they were rewarded to be clumped together with a mere pre-show match, an utter slap in the face. Thankfully, the main show match has been restored. Surely that will fire up the women to deliver a top-drawer match, but the odds are not on their side with a large drawback of the match being the number of participants with no gimmick to play with. We can only wait and see. And gwan Becky. Nothing like dirty national bias, eh? Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat!

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Lookit her there! With goggles on! A scientist and all is our Becky. Fair play.

And Roman Reigns? How’s he fairing then? Well, he’s doing alright. He’s no longer champion but is still very much hated by the crowd with a fervent passion I haven’t seen or experienced a heel elicit in the modern-day product, baring Brock Lesnar post-WM 30 and Stephanie McMahon at her most potent. He is a man hated by the “smarks” – that is to say “smart marks” or fans – and his actual fans seem to be tepid towards his endeavours, and it looks as though this Sunday that he’ll pass towards eternal damnation taking on the Undertaker. Defeating the Undertaker, a character beloved without question by all fans, will only cement the universal hatred held for him. But are management going to play towards this natural negativity and make the man a monster heel? Or will they persevere with the narrative of being a tough guy face asserting dominance? Treading this line can be dangerous and there’s no definite answer to that question, but will the WWE worry about what people concerned about the quality of some of their stories? There’s a far more definite answer for that one.

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Well, to be fair.

Thankfully this year Shane McMahon has no cage to jump off. But that was Shane McMahon’s gig, he was the man who jumped off things. And he’ll be in a plain ol’ ordinary match with AJ Styles? Hmm. It peaks the interest if nothing else. It’ll probably provide Styles with his first WrestleMania win too. There’s also potential in the other matches, the tag team ladder match, the John Cena match feat. other folk, and Lesnar finally destroying Goldberg. That’s even not touching on some of the best work of the past year done by Chris Jericho as a conniving sniveling heel beside his former best friend, Kevin Owens which should also be a cracker and a half. Save the bathroom break of the Battle Royale, this looks like a good card.  Between these matches full of promise, the signs, the crowd, the spots, the moments forced down our gob, the utter spectacle of it all, the utter mania it can induce, surely that is something to stay up for?

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JESUS SHANE STOP AT IT WILL YOU

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Nintendo Makes Me Want to Swap To Switch, Says Cabinet Minister

Growing up I was not only cursed with the bog-poverty channels, not only was I doomed to drawl out a midlands accent without knowing any better, but I also suffered in the realm of the video gaming world. For quite some time, there was no NES nor a SNES nor a Mega Drive nor Sega Saturn to grace the hallway of the home. 

I would visit friends and they’d show me Game Boys and Mega Drives, shapes and colours would come on the screen, but I’d never really ask for a go, not knowing how and the potential to cause embarrassment to myself being one of the reasons, but furthering that point, I was happy out gawking at masters in my belief at their craft. Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat, Actua Soccer even looked incredible. But this world of colours and pixels and kick punch kick excitement always had an end point, and reality would hit me at home, the nearest thing to Johnny Cage v Sub-Zero was Winning Streak. Reality was hard.

Then there was a glorious day. My sister rang up 2FM’s Saturday lunch time show. There was a prize being given away and to win the listener had to guess the identity of the person from a series of clues read out. My sister rang, confident that Santa Claus was the answer – the clues were “He wears red.” and “He’s halfway there.” However, when she got live on air her plan was dashed, the previous contestant had given Santa Claus as his answer. Put of nowhere the brother goes “David Beckham” and sure enough that was the answer and 2FM promised the moon and the stars in the form of a Nintendo 64 and one game a month for a year. This machine, hailed as revolutionary console with games still spoken about in reverted tones today, was headed our way. Living’ life, lovin’ the music.

But even this was messed up.

The reality hit. Hard. It was a PlayStation. No explanation was given, and since my sister was the “true” owner, she never said a word to the men in power. And instead of twelve, we only got four games. Tomb Raider 2, Nagano Winter Olympics ’98, NBA Jam ’98 and World Cup ’98. Needless to say, Nagano has stood the test of time the best, without doubt.  

But we learned. We coped. We survived. We carried on. We played Final Fantasy after Final Fantasy. We persevered. We overcame. We learned to love Sony, and forgot about the first crush of the N64 standing by the bay in a summer skirt looking at an August sun. 

The PlayStation’s pride and place in the home meant that the floodgates had finally burst, and a Game Boy Colour was gifted to me and soon I was Pokémon master again and again and again. I even managed Oracle of Seasons, not so much Ages, but I got my Nintendo fix finally and properly, and some closure was got. That tangential reality of an N64 coming to the house, Mario 64, Mario Kart, Ocarina of Time, even bloody Star Fox, that was another life, a different time and was finally accepted as not a thing that occurred. I was over it.

He says.

G’d luck yeah right.

And now, I breathe today, still a proud PS2 owner, but not wanting or attracted to the idea of a PS4. An Xbox has always had an air of needing too much work or effort, so what else can be done?

A nostalgia, one that I quite factually never partook in to feel this strongly, is as powerful as a bank manager, egging on the purchase, nay, the investment of the Switch, a handheld device, as well as a console as well as capabilities for VR in the future, the complete package is there, ready to be got at.

Me. An owner of a Nintendo console. Finally. Fulfill the dream I hear off the echoes from the forest of youth.

When the book is writ, when the plan is complete, and when Mario Kart is released, I shall own a Nintendo Switch.

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The Best Little Country to Write In

I have no idea why I’m putting it up, but I am regardless. This is (a lazy, ineffective, unoffensive, fangless, tried, tested and tired form of) a poem about Ireland that blurted out one day. It might give someone a laugh.

The Best Little Country to Write In

I am Digging

I am the healing scar of what went before

I am the dawning of the day

I am a terrible beauty born

I am the voice of the wind and the pouring rain

I am the Emergency

I am the National Lottery

I am the music of Glenroe

I am BRIAN O’DRISCOLL

I am A Rainy Night in Soho

I am the mala before school

I am the sneaky pint

I am the closing time pint

I am the inherent problem with alcohol

I am behind the magic door

I am the Hill of Tara

I am Brehon Law

I am Bunreacht na hÉireann

I am grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented

I am the Beauty Queen of Leenane

I am the Lady in Red

I am Sally O’Brien and the way she might look at you

I am Munster’s European fairytale heartbreak

I am the power and the glory

I am Munster’s European fairytale joy

I am yours, now and forever

I am Reeling in the Years

I am Waiting for Godot

I am a lot done, more to do

I am the washing on the line of an evening in July

I am the Christmas RTÉ Guide

I am the constant council roadworks

I am Where The Streets Have No Name

I am Nothing But The Same Old Story

I am the rain

I am the rain

I am the rain

I am sure I’ll be alright on my own

I am the country wake

I am the silence at the stations

I am the lack of conversation

I am Only a Woman’s Heart

I am faith, begorrah, where to start

I am where the priests hide

I am the children playing outside

I am The Field

I am the pain

I am the past, a distant country

I am one day in May

I am the father and the son

I am Mary Robinson

I am road frontage

I am Sam Maguire

I am the curse

I am Mayo

I am, to whom it concerns, The Late Late Show

I am the flood

I am the better failed try

I am the Famine Road

I am the horseman passing by

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The Not-So-Curious Case of Stephen Donnelly in a Fianna Fáil Dress

That was the big news today. Not Trump acting like a bollix praying away to Arnie and the Apprentice (he’s really the president, is he?), not the Bus Éireann strike to come later this month potentially affecting thousands of passengers, no, it was that an Independent TD had applied to join a political party. Surely that’s nothing note worthy, that’s balderdash and a side-show from actual news?

But this was not just any TD, you see…

This was Stephen Donnelly, the man with a plan. He was an anomaly in the Irish political landscape. Being unattached to a political party or dynasty, he was truly independent of the system. He didn’t have a background of community work or parish pump politics to his CV to make himself presentable to his prospective and subsequent constituents, which was something stalwart independents had in spades in the past. Instead, in 2011, he presented himself and his no nonsense attitude with direct, sharp views on the financial mess the country was in, how it was being managed and how it should actually directed for any improvements to occur.

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“Don’t have anywhere to rest your elbow? Use ANY natural OR man-made surroundings”

And he SOUNDED like he knew what he was talking about. In the mess of NAMA and Anglo, in the IMF and the Trioka, the ECB and ECW (I made that up), you found yourself half confident in half knowing what was going on half the time after an interview with the Wicklow TD. He blazed a trail in being a new age politician; a person who, after seeing the faults in the public and political realm, came from the private sector to put these wrongs to right, or at least highlight them in his capacity with no ulterior motive or personal profit to be gained.

After some time of building up his brownie points in Dáil Éireann, he went into business with Catherine Murphy, a complete legend of a politician with a hard working red background and a very public present of bringing to light the consummate failure that was, is and forever will be Irish Water. Another shareholder in the new venture was Roisin Shortall, one of the few Labour ministers who had the courage to call bullshit on the then government, walking out on James Reilly when he was doing his best gerrymandering impressions regarding Primary Care Centre locations. While they were baptised the Social Democrats and placed themselves left of centre, Donnelly was certainly the one to keep it “centred”. But even at that, they had found a common ground to create a new political dialogue away from the predictable civil war stuff that he himself decried.

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It’s such a shame. Purple suited his background.

The likeable Murphy, the honourable Shortall and the believable Donnelly, how could the Social Democrats lose to an electorate who were sick of everything to do with anything? They didn’t win, nor did they lose, strictly speaking. They drew. They must have been disappointed to gain no seats, coming very close with Gary Gannon, but to hold their seats identifying then as a new party was still an achievement.

Fast forward some months after #GE16 as the kids called it, and Donnelly left. Irreconcilable differences. The parting was a moot point for both sides, and while far from amicable, it seemed they both said their pieces are were happy with that. Fast forward again and we get to him joining no ordinary party. Fianna Fáil, the party that “more or less” got us into the mess, the party that repeatedly lied and said all was fine, the party that he blamed – among others – on the stagnation of the Irish political scene, the party that will beautify CJ Haughey for all the time to come, ever and after, forever and ever, Eamonn.

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Get it?

Admittedly, I was very quick to scoff and laugh from my very high horse, Morality, and I made the bare minimum requirements of a joke regarding Fianna Fáil on Twitter no less. But then I stopped.

What if this is genuine?

And really, given his private sector background, can anyone be surprised? Not overly. To a certain extent, some SD followers got behind them due to Donnelly’s “charisma”, not necessarily a friendly kind, but it was a confidence and accuracy he held, no doubt from his days as a consultant. They now feel slightly betrayed, as do those who supported them due to their campaigning for marriage equality. Donnelly now goes to the party who supposedly fobbed the referendum as no big deal and laughed at it in party meetings.

So, the man who held views we all agreed with has gone bad in our eyes. It must also be said that his elevation to Spokesperson on Brexit would have certainly ruffled feathers in the party’s backbenches. But just because he is now on the frontbench for Fianna Fáil, that doesn’t change them. Sadly though, it just kind of changes him. By joinging Fianna Fáil, he’s chosen his own destiny, and whether he wins reelection is another matter, he has to win back the minds of the cynics who finally had a little bit of hope.

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I’ve seen more stomachable diarrhea.

Alas poor Donnelly, I believed you well.

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I Listened to “Where Them Girls At” For 12 Hours Straight and Here’s How I Got On

I listen to many things, be it the darkly ambient music and musings of Chris Morris on Blue Jam, be it Pink Floyd and their seminal albums on the human condition, or even the simplest and truthful love songs that Bob Dylan can produce when he wasn’t stuffing LSD into everything he was consuming.

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To be fair, the croissants were simply just a vehicle for the crack.

 

But I am one unashamed of my taste or rather desire to listen to bad music. It is a need, a desperate need to listen repeatedly to Scatman John’s Casio stock-breaking album Scatman’s World – N.B. he was a massive Communist – Deep Blue Something’s terrible album made of “music”, Third Eye Blind’s even more terrible brand of skoppy shite and Oasis.

However, these “guilty pleasures” of mine are not limited to what nostalgia can force you to access thanks to the interwebs, no. There are some serious banging tunes out now that I cannot bring up in polite or learned conversation because well,… just because. The old rule of attending dinner parties; never talk about religion or politics. I think you could add in music there, without doubt.

There’s that cracker of a tune in Light It Up, Stay by Kygo and Maty Noyes, anything of late from the Beebs – it’s good folks, it’s plain good – but there is one song that seems to be the ultimate face-scrunching, can-having, aahhhwwwwwwwyeeaaahhhmaaan-inducing button masher of a tune to turn a bunch of people into complete scum tarts. That song is Where Them Girls At by the head-nodder extraordinaire David Guetta and features the mouth noises of Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj.

And I listened to it for 12 hours straight. Yes, 12 (that’s twelve in normal letter terms, folks) hours.

Why?

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I had maybe three cans inside my head wiring and my belly ocean and was playing the ever-easy game that is Age of Empire II. Ever-easy in comparison to any Paradox Games like Crusader Kings, or more panic-creating Hearts of Iron. Let’s just say one time, I was invading Finland as the USSR, I fell asleep, I wake up four hours later to see that they have pushed back my army to fucking LENINGRAD.

That would not happen to you in Age of Empires, oh no. You could play the game in your sleep and would still have some degree of competency over the situation. Of course, this was the game I decided to not fall asleep whilst playing and it was all solely down to that fucking song. And I feel that no matter how much I love anything else in this world, I will only understand this completely as only I understand this.

“So many girls in here, where do I begin?

I see this one, I’m ’bout to go in

Then she said “I’m here with my friends”

She got me thinking, and that’s when I said

Where them girls at? (girls at?)”

Flo Rida initially comes into the club and feels overwhelmed with the choice ahead of him. Because clearly, as he is a man, he has the choice of club, the pick of the litter, the ownership of the young wans. When the girl then says – but we aren’t overly sure this is a girl, are we? I mean, when he says “I see this one” is he referring to a girl? Or an actual number one, the symbol 1 who identifies to the female gender? Remembering he is overcome by seeing the vast amount of girls in one place at one time, can we trust his speech, and reported speech at that? Alas. If we are to think of this being the case, that he is in fact speaking to animated female 1 in a club, the 1 states clearly she is there with her friends. And then he “got” thinking and asks this 1 grammatically incorrectly of course because of his insecurities and anxiousness with the whole situation, “where them girls at?”

“Hey, bring it on baby, all your friends

You’re the shit and I love that body”

I’m honestly disappointed with this line; I thought originally for the first twelve hours I heard it that it was “Hey, bring on baby, all your prejudiced shit and I love that body” I thought Flo Rida had become like mega self-aware. But no. “You’re the shit.” The monosyllabic git.

“You wanna ball, explicit, I swear you’re good, I won’t tell nobody

You got a BFF, I wanna see that girl, it’s all women invited”

Flo Rida isn’t comfortable with his male counterparts, be them friend or foe. He wants to surround himself with women. But he is there. Is he a woman now too?

“Hairdos and nails, that Louie, Chanel all up in the party
President’s in my wallet, no rules I’m ’bout it
Blow the whistle for the hotties”

Flo Rida casts aside his gender rules here surely? The whistle is blown for the hotties, but anyone can hear it, because what he is saying is that we are beautiful on the inside. With his make-up and hair done to the last, his clearly feminine style choice and vast amounts of money he is the master of his own destiny and as he goes on to say “I got it, shorty, it’s never too much, can’t be doing too much” in that we can never do enough in furthering this idea of love, the love that is “outta [his] reach”. Flo Rida is fighting

I think that says more than I ever could.

But before you become lost for words, you thrown a hape of them at once, by the ever-on and possibly angry Nicki Minaj. Is she the one (1) from earlier? Is she a friend? Is she responding to Flo Rida as sometimes is the whole idea in duets? Or is she singing something completely unattached, utterly detached from the song itself? Let’s find out, shall we?

“Peebe, Peebe who’s Peabo Bryson”

 I have no fucking clue Nicki.

 “Two years ago I renewed my license

Anyway, why’d I start my verse like that”

I don’t know Nicki, maybe try another draft of the verse before you’re asking gimpy questions in the middle of the FUCKING recording, I hear you ask?

Well, maybe she didn’t have the time to redraft. Hackers with honestly nothing better to do did what they did best and hacked into Guetta’s wif-fi and stole an acapella version of the song, this in turn forced Guetta to release the song early. He even got a member of the Pentagon to investigate it. Now. Amazing what Wikipedia will tell you these days. That needless question is then followed up with a rather excellently needless reminder of one’s rights to do as they please (1’s rights? Fuck. Here again.)

“You can suck a dick, you can suck on a ballsack

“No, no I don’t endorse that, p-p-pause that, a-a-abort that”

Thanks Nicki for reminding us we don’t have rights. #Repealthe8th

“Just the other day me go a London, saw dat, kids down the street

Paparazzi, all dat, hey, hey, what can I say?

Day day da-day day day day”

 What can you say? You say more than day on repeat, no matter how many drafts you couldn’t get through.

 “Coming through the club all the girls in the back of me

This ain’t football why the fuck they tryin’ tackle me?”

Now, I will admit, being grown up and cool has its perks, yes, but listening to the explicit version of this song is not one of them. I’m of the belief that the whistle sound effect adds a great service to the mood that is madness.

“Really, I pick dude at the bar like really

Looking like he wanna good time like, really

Said he had a friend for my home girl Lily, Lily, Lily, Lily”

And it’s tough shit for Nicki as in the end the fella she picks up from the bar is a silly lad who has mad grá for Lily and she is fucked. Nicki is forced into singing day day day again and again reinforcing how bad of choice she made in the first instance, just as Flo Rida is forced to repeat the chorus again and again, looking for a group to be comfortable with.

And when you listen to sometime like that for twelve hours straight, you figure out some things about yourself. Now, from my half attempt at a comic-takedown of the song, of its subject matter, it clearly is awful, be it lyrically or musically which was something I didn’t touch on. Mainly because the music was being beat into my eardrums that that was simply it, that was what I would hear for white noise for a while after. And even with that, listening to something as a joke on oneself, for it to turn bad, and then good and bad and good again, I can listen to this with a smile on my face and for fear of employing Nicki Minaj’s own inquisitive logic to myself, why? Why can I listen to it and not have PTSD? Is it because it isn’t that bad? Alas. An answer, an answer, my kingdom for an answer.

All I know now is that even after what some would describe as can-boarding, I’m alive. That’s something, eh?

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Muhammad Ali, I Barely Knew Ye

My first traipse into sports and the world surrounding it was USA ’94, I was up for all the teams and enjoyed the noise and colour on the television. I was only about four years of age at the time so those concepts were coming into play in a big, big way.

I remember when Ireland were knocked out because after the match finished I asked my brother who are you supporting now that Ireland have been eliminated. He told me that

“You can’t support anyone else when your country is gone. That’s not how it works.”

Or at least words to that effect. Nowadays, he is by no means a blind supporter of nationalism to the extent he would support against all odds, but back then in the heady mid ’90s, being Irish was as much of a thing as it is today. I know, it existed before Joe.ie folks.

So when the Olympics rocked up in ’96 I was becoming aware of the ideas and concepts of competitive sports and competition and being the best at any given thing you could be. TEAM IRELAND COME ON.

There were two hopes, one  was Michelle Smith. I wasn’t a big backer of her. NO, I DIDN’T know about the scandal that would develop thereafter. It was because I was shit scared of water and swimming. Well done, Michelle. Not my cup of tea, but fair play t’ya.

Those Pantene ads were shocking.

The other was Sonia O’Sullivan, the other Great White Hope for Ireland; I could run just like her and I’d run everywhere and be wrecked. I remember watching the opening ceremony, a sedate affair compared to the eye-slicing spectacle it is now. I was waiting to see could I see her wave just so I could wave back.

I wasn’t the brightest.

I don’t remember if she appeared. All I remember is Muhammad Ali carrying the Olympic flame and lighting the One Torch To Rule Them All. Who was he? My father explained he was Muhammad Ali, the World’s Greatest. I held no concept of what that meant. I continued on looking at the shapes and colours.

Three years later, as I tinkered on a boxing game I came across a fighter, needless to say who it was. My father from the end of the room, following the television out of the annoyance of the noise, called out the name Cassius Clay.

I asked him what was that all about and I was let in for a world of explanation. Not only was the world map gotten out – we had one forever on our kitchen wall – but the Vietnam war was half explained to me, as too was the Civil Rights Movement, as was the concept of there being another religion than Christianity in Islam – it would take another three years before I knew what a Protestant was – and of utmost importance was the story of Cassius Clay, converting to Islam, changing his name, and his rise and fall and rise to be the greatest of all time. A door was opened, nay a wall was smashed and a new world of thought and thinking and processing came into realistation and I could not get enough of it. I would rent videos that simply had the champ’s face on the cover of just to learn more; I would learn little as these were documentaries and 10-year-old Paul had no time for that. But I watched his fights when they would come up, how large a man he was and how quick he moved and as I got older I watched more and read more and got into the detail that he held and discovered how he was – just about – human. He was not invincible forever, the latter days of his career a blot on his copybook  but more so just a sad period in the life of an excellent professional boxer.

Seeing him in Ireland in the last few recent years was upsetting as his battle with Parkinson’s was a very hard one to witness, especially in that of an athlete, let alone his former reputation. Still, he served as an inspiration for nearly everyone, he was near universally loved. Be you a cocky son of a gun or someone trying to make a name for yourself, whether you fought for equality or peace or for a competitive belt, hey, he was there.

I apologise. I am honestly sad and can only get so much sense before I ramble into rameis. So I’ll leave it here, so.

Sonia O’Sullivan failed to qualify for 1500m race in Atlanta ’96 and failed to place in the final of the 5000m, failing to finish due to stomach pains. Her father greeted the media, who were looking for words to pacify the despairing public at home beside the Aga and all the rest of it. Why? How? Now? The nation was shocked and disappointed and everything under the sun. How could this have happened, to one of the favourites? To our favourite?

He said quietly, nearly explained that

“Lads, nobody died tonight.”

Unfortunately, Muhammad Ali died. Last night be it, but still. The sense of loss I feel is more present than I thought it would be. He left a legacy behind that people can only stand in the shadow of. What a shadow it is.

What a shadow it is.

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White Man Feels Important, Discusses Radiohead Album On Blog No One Reads

Like the vast majority of Radiohead fans, I went spare with excitement hearing the news of new material being released. Excellent, Radiohead will fix everything I thought. Was everything broken? Didn’t fucking matter, Radiohead were releasing music. But that’s ages ago I hear you say. You’re right. I heard you, but I heard nothing about any reviews save people’s acclamation of Burn The Witch.

Up to the point of writing this “review” I had not come across any reviews nor had I heard anything good or bad from my friends, the majority of which would be devout disciples to St Thom et al. Indeed, I had no idea what it was called. Only when I went cheap-arsing my way through Spotify to give a listen to the rest of the album did I find out its name, A Moon-Shaped Pool, and I worried at how much they were planning to get away with on this release.

Radiohead have in the past gotten away with all sorts, be it some of the questionable choices on Hail To The Thief (The use of laser guns in some of the songs) or the absolute prick-acting that Thom Yorke can get away with and still be beloved by the well-kept masses that are the Radiohead fandom. Even the experimenting he does with his voice can be seen at times to be disrespectful, with moments where his voice is more akin to a drunken-baby instead of focusing on melodic construction. Would he and they be feck-acting with this album?

They feck-acted with the last one, King of Limbs being one of the most irritating blip-bloppy start-stoppy scuts of an album that was only half-redeemed by its second half. There I go again, being a Radiohead fan, looking to forgive their faults. And King of Limbs was a fault. I will have that discussion with anyone. But, alas, alack and indeed as well, what would this album hold?

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He looks delighted with himself anyways. For a change.

Before I bought the album all I had were Burn The Witch and Daydreaming to go by. The former was a great piece, strings being used to great effect and Thom Yorke deciding to sing like he used to rather than the arse-boxing he has done of late. A true return to form of creating good solid sons with a bit of an edge. But the latter…

Well, Daydreaming gave us a large problem. Gone was the crisp efficiency of Burn The Witch and what had replaced it was a sloshing six minutes of mawkish nostalgia-driven sad tear sounds as Yorke cried a bit like a little haunted ghost lost inside a school boy’s throat. Nothing wrong with crying, or being a ghost, it was just that this isn’t very good crying.

Track three, Decks Dark, is a harmless and at times gorgeously basic with great key work guiding the song along until a little choral ghost – get used to them – brings it to another level, a better one but with more of a sinister tone behind “It was just a laugh, just a laugh, just a laugh.” My love of the laugh might cloud my judgement when I say it is a good song, but it certainly is one of the album’s best, given it’s well arranged, produced and recorded.  

An acoustic guitar greets us as Desert Island Disk plays, maybe the first time one has been heard for a while. The song does the best impression of Within You Without You of the 21st Century so far. It being the oddest of the bunch of tracks together, but still it holds its place. The album does make sense, everything is in its right place – hey, hey! – but it can suffer from over-stuffing the turkey, per say. And even having said that, it did seem over-written or over-wrought.

“You really messed up everything.”

No, not Thom Yorke’s own review of the album, this is the refrain in Ful Stop, a song that sounds like an automatic bin opening and closing repeatedly as someone learns how to play Stand Up (Sit Down) nearby and gets angrier and angrier as time passes as they realise their friend has learned Climbing Up The Walls. A quite acceptable jam happens in the middle eight – like I know what that means – but instead of capping off the song with an ending to make it redeemable, it just reverts back to little choral ghosts falling slowly back and forth in front of microphones with no deadliness.

A great song for a sad bit in an indie film? Glass Eyes. That is it. It’s a bad version of Give Up The Ghost. Fuck. FUCK.

Anything following Glass Eyes was sure to be better? Surely? A dirty bit of bass opens Identikit before downstairs Thom Yorke is busy in the bathroom, mumbling about all the cans he drank as upstairs Thom Yorke sings “I don’t want to know” him being a teetotaller and all. I think at least. Then some guitar and synth along with little singing ghosties being it to another place again, giving it a bit of grit and drawing the focus away from a sobering-up downstairs Thom Yorke. A fine ending, “Broken hearts make it rain” – a metaphor for something, I’d guess. Fucked if I know. There’s a cracking bit of guitar though to make Johnny Marr feel like a fool.

The Numbers is unfortunately not about the Lotto, but it is in fact a relaxed affair, with a steady and familiar chord progression – Talk Show Host for grown-ups, anyone? – and a vocal that is “normal” and relaxes you, as the overall sound and arrangement tends towards a Rick Wright affair you sleep to. That is of course before the strings light up the track and give the song an ending worthy of the sleeping giant quality the song itself holds. One to see live, surely. One of the best numbers on the album. Pun not intended. My apologies.

Just when things are going well, there he goes again at the start of Present Tense, dressed up in Ed O’Brien’s mother’s bedsheets like a little choral ghost, running around the studio, going “OOhoooooohhhhhooohhhh”.  The song’s intro, at least, written directly after they were lied to by someone who said King of Limbs was a good idea. And throughout the song he keeps repeating on himself in off-kilter moments that nearly overshadow the great music that actually is happening behind his pessimistic mutterings. It seemed to be forever filling a glass hat was already full.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief

My review?

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True Love Waits is a song that would be nothing new to Radiohead fans, having appeared on the great I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings. Here though, it does sound a bit… different. Instead of the powerful, bare bones and soul and acoustic guitar heart-blast of a song, it now is more a binary code reading of emotion. The Guardian said that the “piano, vocals and percussion that sounds like a beetle using a typewriter” and I have to ask, is that a good thing?

The overall point I think I took from it was that there seemed to be a never-ending need for there something always to happening in each recording. Instead of letting something breathe, or elaborating on a great section of instrumentation, they delayed or distorted lyrics, or had ghosts wail without end but with plenty of echo which, all in all, created a definite atmosphere that you cannot go around or get away from.

Yes, of course, bands can evolve even without my white permission to do so, and they can change their sound and style and set up and anything else beginning with “s” but if I were not to judge this album by their past achievements I don’t think I could or would give it a second or third listen. They have created some of the best sounds of the past 20 years without doubt, but these songs are hardly of that quality. To put it another way, Dwight Yorke of the late 90s would’ve walked on to many teams. By the mid-00s, he could barely walk. But boy could he smile.

And with this scathing opinion, I have to ask myself a more important question; do I even actually like Radiohead?

Pray for me.

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