That Was A Very Good Eurovision

Ah, the Eurovision.

If there is one thing that can not only preserve the Union but hold the Euro currency steady it surely is the Eurovision. The latest installment took place over three days, Tuesday 10th, Thursday 12th, and Saturday 14th of February. You can’t get it on Netflix, can ya, ha? Pure cocaine-laced sugar dust for anyone who half-likes music but not too seriously was placed before us in three-minute bursts and there was not a child in any house washed.

I sat down to watch Thursday’s semi-final and was pleasantly surprised at the relatively fine quality of the songs on display. There was a Bulgarian Power Ranger Rihanna, an Australian on a futuristic box singing a finely bland song, and a Georgian band who were what would happen if Star Sailor had a hape of cans, listened to Franz Ferdinand and then played Killers covers.

There was the Irish entry that not only did not qualify but had the continent collectively scratch their heads and ask “Is that Ronan Keating?”

It wasn’t, it was Nicky Byrne, bless his cotton socks and wet sock of a haircut.

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Sing? Ah, SING! If only we thought of that…

Listening to the radio the following day, there were the obvious, knee-jerk and pig-ignorant reactions that ranged from song-writers insisting that they would write a better song to people insisting that we “should withdraw from the competition because we’ll never win it again and sure it’s all full of foreign countries now and that’s how 9/11 changed everything.” (I believe this to be an exact quote from a disgruntled Liveline caller. gotta love dat irish folk yo)

At this point, I am glad that the country hasn’t experienced anything massively bad because if the reaction to this Eurovision is anything to go by, well… I’ll just say I don’t think we’d handle it too well.

But, Nicky Byrne’s song, even with him giving the best he could give, and really enjoying it, and everything else RTÉ employees said about his performance, as well as not taking any fee for it as it coincidentally was happening parallel to his solo career launch, was not fine enough to rise above the other fine songs there. It was quite bland.

It was a like a bad version of Beautiful Day. A really, REALLY bad version.

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No plane in sight.

Ukraine won with their not-too-subtle song about Russia slaughtering people in Crimea entitled 1944 and you know what, fair play to them. I didn’t strike me as anything mad, but I might have been experiencing Eurovision fatigue by the time Jamala took the stage. Even though I annually cod myself into thinking I can do otherwise, one can only take so much Euro-pop and still hold their full attention on the broadcast.

That is, of course, until some Cypriots wake you up with distortion.

The real winner I felt was us, the viewers – oh, how quaint, Paul.

Not only was the average standard absolutely fine, stretching at times to be grand and even good, the broadcast was a real achievement on the side of the Swedes. The presenters, Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw, had me at “Hello Europe!” on Tuesday at which point on stage right a curtain dropped and revealed Europe, the pop band, playing The Final Countdown. “No, no, not Europe the band, we mean Europe the continent!” They stopped playing. “That was embarrassing, we apologise.”

The humour never dropped from that point on, being showcased in the hilarious Nerd Nation Documentary, showing how something already ridiculous can be made funny. A particular highlight was the third part and the Loreen street kids who “just wanna hang out and listen to Euphoria. And other well known Loreen songs.”

The skill of their comedic execution was fully realised in the great song of Peace Peace Love Love that if nothing else, was certainly funnier than Riverdance. And Justin Timberlake is an adequate substitute for Michael Flatley, absolutely.

The opening act to the second semi-final was the gateway into the show’s comedy but the fact that it was funny, the entire show, independent of liking Eurovision or not and also that it worked so well shows the effort love and care that was put into it from all angles. I was rooting for Sweden and their fine song just so they could present it again, but then again it would only, as they sing, “bankrupt the hosting TV station.”

So, Ukraine next year. Not for me. Can it top this one? They have a year to prep. As does everyone else to see how they would combat the new scoring system which was introduced this year to heighten tensions. It worked alright.

It also worked on keeping the win confined to the continent at least, as under the previous year’s rules Australia would have romped home with the win, and Poland wouldn’t have gotten such a good score for such a pap song. Now that’s a talking point too. All’s changed, changed utterly.

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“God, it’d do your head in, wouldn’t it?”

Vincent Browne, the acrid archangel or smiling serpent of Irish political discourse with three decades of discoursing behind him, did not say the above in a manner full of energy and disgust. It was said in a sigh, an exasperation of will during another period of pathetic political performance, circa the Cowen phase. Given TV3’s audience numbers it may have been missed by the majority of the nation, but Vincent’s sad state of mind undoubtedly represented their feelings on the establishment. The country’s collective head was so done in at that stage the pain in our collective consciousness could not have been subdued by any level of collective Solbadene capsules or forgotten about with collective stociousness. Still, Fianna Fáil’s loss of power and the manner in which it occurred provided the country with some respite in many a witty headline, “Fianna Fáilures”, “Fi-NAH Fáil”, “Fianna Fáil-Out of Office”, “Fianna Fall From Grace” but these proved not to be near to the cure. Our head was not done out, so to speak, but this leaving of office presented us with an opportunity for change, something we hadn’t bothered with during the previous decade of apathy borne of grandness, and maybe this possible shift in governance would cure our head’s poor concave ailment.

However, and as funny as it may seem now, with the election that followed quickly after, there was still hope. The Labour Party was claiming to have the only road map to financial independence and dignity and appeared as an honest to God legitimate option as a main party, while Enda Kenny seemed to nearly come true on his threat to electrify the Fine Gaelers into power. Even parties whose legitimacy had been constantly questioned, and by that open remark I exclusively mean Sinn Féin, were looking like real choices, actual alternatives. After more than a decade of Fianna Fáil + Friends governance, after the need to get someone to blame for financial collapses were being laid very comfortably at their door, the actuality of a government full of actual alternatives was serious and was real.

Ah. Life. Oh Life. Oh lifffffee. Oh life. Do-do-doo-doo. Ah.

The Labour party has, as all Labour parties have done, shown its main core party value to be that of compromising itself beyond soft socialism and into the dead centre, evident in coalition with Fine Gael. Water charges, homelessness, and welfare cuts have showed the complete lack of will that Labour has and shows the disconnect between parties and the people they supposedly represent.

This new thinking iss visible in the seismic loss of Fianna Fáil seats, the rise of independents that no one is ever really sure about and the advent of Renua Ireland and the Social Democrats. With Labour at anywhere between 7-10%, in some polls even 4%, and Fianna Fáil at 21%, Fine Gael around 28%, Sinn Féin balancing around 20% and independents on 25% the polling unsurety is surely unsettling for an electorate that has been comforted throughout history by the fact that there would always be, at the very least, a government of some sort. What in the name of Ivor Callely silk pajamas will happen?

Who will go out with who? Will the Social Democrats lose the good will they have gained and go into government with Enda or Martin and be eaten alive like the Greens and PDs before them? Or will civil war politics finally come to an end, not by virtue of a new government forming free of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil but by a government of solely themselves?

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Or will we all be blind sided and in fact be shocked by a Troika of the AAA/PBP groups along with the Social Democrats and Sinn Féin taking the reins? Or will something magical happen? Will we overcome and actually turn away from the establishment parties which have been corrupt in basic and plain public sight? Can we become hopeful again and lose our jadedness?

Well, Vincent won’t be holding his breath. Not with the illness, nor with hope. And really he has seen it all before, God love him. At least he can relax and sit it out. His mercies are small, but they still are merciful. He might be distracted. He might smile. As with most things, we think about a problem less once we don’t see it.

Don’t like what’s going on? Don’t look. It might help.

Otherwise, it might – proverbially speaking – do your head in.

VinB

Oh How I Love Thee Dear Vincent Browne

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Everything is Shit & We’re All Going To Die

I will just cut to the chase. Recent events have made me mental with anger.  When I heard the UCD 200 story break I was angry but not surprised. It was just one of those horrible things that’s always there, you know, like the homeless crisis or the drug issues or systematic racism – you know that they’re there, they exist but because you don’t agree with it and think it has no place in modern society that in some way the issue must be spiraling downward given how equal and liberal you believe society is with the same-sex marriage referendum or the massive push behind the movement that wants to repeal the eighth amendment in the constitution.

But no, everything is shit. The story about the scumrot of a facebook chat group broke and we were reminded of rampant sexism in one of its most harrowing forms. Harrowing in that the invasion of privacy and intimacy was smashed and harrowing that is was widely accepted as real and many people came out with stories of their own experience with likewise groups.

This behaviour is not exclusive to Agricultural Science students. It is very much part and parcel of lad culture. It was not nor is not beyond the realms of logical thought that such a group would exist. There was a natural disgust.

Then the news came from UCD that after their own internal investigation that there was no foundation for the claim of this chat being in existence.

Some of those who were disgusted by the story were thankful it was not real but still made a point that the fact a story like this was not seen as far-fetched showed an endemic problem in sexism and lad culture today.

Others were less convinced by UCD’s report, citing the track record of such a group existing before and the little nuggets that without any student coming forward with evidence they could not further their work. Also, the fact that without these the social media providers help in the form of a court order, they could not help them in their investigation into things that are not publicly available.

And then there were some people who were not just happy the chat hadn’t existed, they were delighted. Their happiness did not grow out of the opening of a frank discourse about revenge porn or men’s attitude towards the other sex with the dismissal of the groups existence. They were not happy that another fucked-up issue brought about the thought of how feminism is necessary for equality to be attained.

No.

With their delight was an added bonus of the feminazis being wrong. They were wrong about this HA! In your face you said they were sexist and weirdos so fuck you you were wrong

There was a victory, not in that something disgusting didn’t exist but that lads were not to blame and it was the overreaction of feminists who were to bare that brunt.  No conversation on progress. Just finger-pointing. A blame game. Men were touting this ‘lad culture’ unashamedly. Bitta banter. Few lads. Having a laugh. No harm. Didn’t happen. Get over it. No moral arbitration swayed an argument away from the absolute crux of they were wrong about us, so therefore anything YOU say is invalid.

In spreading the word of UCD’s internal report through utter condescension showed what they were at. They were purposefully exacerbating the inequality of relationship and understanding between the sexes.  And all because it only helps them and their standing they are prickly belittling prats.

I felt ill reading reactions. That people, that mainly men were ok in thought process. That they were actually thinking these things and writing these things down and probably saying these things out loud. And that they were proud of it. And then I turned off the computer. There was a little part of me that was sure there was officially no hope left.

But then I thought, Don’t worry! There’s no need for progress or equality or even basic human understanding; we’re all going to die! And that was nearly a nice thought.

 

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Knob Another Knobcast Podcast

Well folks, just a dainty little reminder that the very aware and slightly unstable group of us at Knobcast – is Knobcast a place? – have climbed another near automatic foot up the procrastinator’s escalator  of achievement. We have reached our tenth episode which funnily enough, is episode ten.

Care for comedy, nonsense, the alphabet and some half-baked and/or half-alright ideas on the militarisation of our Celtic nation?

Then take a listen here.

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“…It is the night of a dear, rare auld blog…”

 

The 18th of December and not a present in the house bought.

Christmas is on the brink of tearing every single muscle of our Western being and there is naught we can do about it. No amount of mass abstinence from X Factor singles or mass purchasing of Rage Against the Machine songs can change the obscene calorie intake we’ll ingest over the period, no grimacing and bah-humbugging (or humbuggering?) can distract or even take away from the over the top shows of happiness, feigned or otherwise, from parents and their children alike, and there is no hope in halting the annexation of television channels by the Harry Potter film franchise. It may not even be over by Christmas. Tread safely dear fellows.

 

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This veils itself as help, but it only shows you are part of the problem.

 

Last Christmas, I was in Galway, walking up and down the streets pretending my heart out to be like your man from the Dunnes Stores ad. You know, yer man, the red jumper, the man bag, the lazy beard. He’s smiling at everyone, they’re all happy, there’s the child who loves Christmas trees, the young ones who are going mad about going in the snow, the lad afraid to shift your wan, y’know it? Anyways, I pretended to be him for ages and I felt great. I also gave Freddo bars to certain lucky folk.

 

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This was before the depressing price hike. Ye bastards, Cadbury.

 

This Christmas season though, I have been inundated with so many little nonsensical things that take up enough of my time that I indeed have no time whatsoever to pretend to be your man. Also, last year’s ad airing this year too? Come on, Dunnes. Sort out yourselves. Shell out for the new campaign. Come on. I can do it for ye too. I love ads. I know all about them. Remember that Snickers ad with your man thinking he’s Batman? Classic.

There was a hape of flooding there in my familial home in A-Town and the amount of sandbags carried and placed is beyond an abacus. RTÉ camped out in the back garden to report on the levels and even Bryan Dobson came down to tell people this was quite serious. Luckily, Doomsday did not come. 2009 was repeated and the local government acted, embarrassed into coping with the levels. And those words are chosen very carefully. Embarrassed into coping with it. Will plans finally be put into action? Will more than “a few shovels be put into the ground”, as Dobbo said on the Six One, be done now? I would not hold my breath, but I might have to if I’m under water. Heyhoooo! Anyways. I’m at a show in a hotel in Galway for children and that is an experience to say the least. And there’s a pantomime in Athlone to be rehearsing for – Oh NO THERE’S NOT! – Yes, there blooming well is. And that’s that. Sin sin.

 

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This was in the Irish Times; how could they be wrong even if it was Twink who said it?

 

But Christmas, aye, it will come and be nodded to all in the endeavour to get to New Year’s Eve so I can attempt to initiate my favourite activity; secretly and passively coercing a large group of people to sing O Holy Night. My God, it is one of the best things I’ve done. It’s occurred twice without doubt, possibly three times and this year once I have a sufficient level of cheek consumed I will begin the endeavour and be a little version of Iago going around whispering “Faaaalllll on your kneeeees…” into people’s ears. It’s the simple things, really. Also, it’s not any declaration to Christianity; I’d be more of 100% atheist but “O Religious Night” doesn’t have the same fecking ring to it, does it? Go off with your mid-winter festival.

Success happened recently too. I was placed third in the poetry section of 2015 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition, particularly for a poem called ‘Thanks For the Internet’.  I was happy out, being long-listed was fairly class with good folks, being shortlisted was even better and then to be placed third, well, that was just fairly deadly. But, as they say, nearly never bulled a cow. Well, fewer people than I thought say that but, yes, the main thing is that time has passed, something good happened and that there is much more time to pass and many more better things to happen.

 

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This lad knows about time passing and something happening.

 

Will I type anything in the future before next year? Christ knows. Probably so. But just in case I don’t…

 

David Burke? Former Connaught Slam Poetry Champ? Third placed in the All-Ireland Slam Poetry Slam?

 

Fuck you.

 

That is all.

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I’m So Sorry, It’s Not You, It’s Me, Definitely, I’m the Problem

My upkeep of this blog is in a word bad. In another word, pathetic. In another word, lackadaisical. In a further word, brutal. It could be paralleled to that of the entire situation surrounding the pool’s night-supervisor in the fictional documentary The Pool featured in an episode of the mid-90s fake-news show, The Day Today. In his forty years of employment there, the guard played by Steve Coogan explains that only one instance of him slipping up has occurred; one night a group of forty people broke in and played around in the pool and, as he was engaged in a particularly tricky word puzzle, a person was killed. There was an incident with a pigeon, but yes. Something happened, nothing much really happens, but it is existence nonetheless. But I am back, back with a blog entry.

I am that pool’s night-supervisor. This blog is that pool.

I had plans baby, oh baby, I had plans. I was going to throw the my novice two cents into the blogosphere on WWE NXT, the progress made there for female performers, the benefit that brings to the business as a whole, for the general audience it has, but I didn’t do it. Now, Hulk Hogan also went and became a supposed racist which made me feel less compelled to plead the case of a company and business that looks a whole ass ton worse when examined through bitter lemon-rimmed glasses.

I was going to talk about moving away from Galway and how the upheaval affected me, how I missed the city, the people, the buskers, the vibe, the groove, the basic fucking independence to go to a shop at an odd hour for a Moro and a packet of Waffles because you’d still be f*cking hanging from what you were at the night before, basically, all about what I missed, but I didn’t do it.

I was going to write about being a c*nt, but I didn’t do it.

I just wrote other things.

I have been writing, fairly solidly for the best part of four months. Poetry, fiction and theatrical pieces. I wrote a novella. I wrote a one act. I’m in the process of writing a YA novel, and in the most excited and probably independently prolific thing I’ve ever thinged a thing ever, I’m writing/researching a non-fiction book too. About politics. It feature jokes, too.

I have HAPES of poetry, which is the scientific term for it alright, absolute hapes. Whether it is of a publishable quality is another thing, but I have completed/drafted/WIPs/ coming out from under the couch and making an absolute mess. And us with the lovely wood floor.

Now, the well is fairly dry and it has been hard to knock out a stanza or paragraph and don’t even get me f*cking started on stage directions. The situation of me not being living independently, that is to stay I live in my home town with my … elders… well, it can drive you up the f*cking walls, tear down any support there exists up there and jump on the rubble that is your own brains because f*ck it, nothing is ever going to change ever because you’re as employable as a very bad security guard. So yeah, wrote a bit there for a while.

And, hey, I nearly forgot. My poetry got shortlisted for the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Competition. One of 12 alongside some deadly people, Jessamine O’Connor, Stephen De Burca among others. That’s something positive anyways. You can check the shortlist over on the website right now too. Might see you there Thursday for the announcement.

Until then, I’ll keep writing and drafting all that other stuff, and I’ll come up with something interesting to write so ye can read it here.

 
I’m still all up on that Twitter @PaulMcCarrick making kick ass jokes and whatnot, and don’t forget @Knobcast for all your needless audio/comedy needs. I love you wall.

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Tell Me Sweet Little Jokes

What do you need in your life right now?

Do you need an hour of your day filled with merriment and jokes? Attempts of extreme punmanship? Do you crave for nothing more than a laugh to be had in your ears that you may not fully understand but enjoy nonetheless? Do you want to find out what the sound of my voice is like? Well here you are, your confusing and intrusive questions have been answered.

I am part of this podcast aptly titled “Knobcast” which is headed up by my dear friend Gearoid Dempsey and his whimsically comic ways are helped along by myself and our fellow funnyman and resident voice of reason, Danny McGill.

On four episodes so far, the series has tackled many, many issues but nothing that many would see as important, we’ve gotten to grips with topics such as Char-Gs and their existence, the necessary nature of chairs and whether or not I am a Highlander. That’ll become clear in episode 5. We tell tales, maybe even lies, but all in all we do it in the hope that someone, somewhere might laugh at it. Or us.

Also, I make an incredible Fascist related chair joke that is very good. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t honestly believe it.

So, follow us on Twitter, give us a like and share on facebook, download us on Soundcloud and do whatever you have to do when you use iTunes.

Do what you gotta do. Much love, and keep your stupid dreams alive!

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