Friday, December 23, 2011

Season's Greetings

Naturally of an atrabilarious temperament (I love that word!), and having spent far too many Xmases serving food to drunken work parties all desperately pretending by shouting and singing that they were having a jolly old time, the spirit of the season is something I recoil from like a hound who once licked an electric fence. However, there is something to be said for a time of year when, rather than shoving through crowded streets to buy junk we don't need to the sound of advertisers' jingles, we take time to contemplate life, with its attendant joys and travails, in the company of people we care about. In that spirit, I hope that anyone who may read this is having a good holiday, and I attach a piece of music which has nothing to do with Christmas, but which I think is really beautiful.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Photographs

Please excuse the slightly gruesome nature of the second photograph (although it's little different from the wreckage left after a satisfied gourmet pushes away a plate of devoured chicken wings).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXXIII)

"I ... was waiting for a bus and I happened to look at the pavement and I noticed that the experience of looking at the pavement was the same as the experience of looking at a [Mark] Tobey [painting] ... the aesthetic enjoyment was just as high." John Cage.
I can't say I fully agree with the sentiments expressed in that statement, but the above image, the surface of an old tree, does remind me of an abstract painting...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Error of Pessimism II

[Warning: Some of you may find the photograph below, of a dead bird embryo, upsetting, so if you're squeamish, please don't look...]

I was walking in the woods earlier this afternoon when I saw the dead bird embryo next to its egg on the path in front of me. There was another nearby, but this one looked so vulnerable and pathetic that I had to take its picture. I imagine that it fell (or was pushed) out of a nest high above. After seeing this, I was depressed for hours, but the aesthetician in me (if such an ungainly word exists) liked the colour and composition of the photo enough to feel like posting it. And this is as much a part of Nature as the sweep of a landscape bathed in sunlight, or the beautiful intricacy of a flower. The photograph is below the video (so that the potential reader has a chance to read the warning before seeing it).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Error of Pessimism

John O'Byrne wrote the following letter into The Irish Times on Saturday, May 15th, on the gloomy article written by Morgan Kelly on Ireland's economic future (see here):
Madam, – The Cambridge economist AC Pigou, writing in 1920, is worth quoting in the context of Morgan Kelly’s doom-laden economic prognosis and solutions. “The error of optimism dies in the crisis but in dying it gives birth to an error of pessimism. This new error is born, not an infant, but a giant.” Our leading economists appear to be afflicted with giant doses of this condition.
It's a shame he didn't think about the absurdity of quoting a comment on the error of pessimism from 1920, seeing as the following thirty years brought the Great Depression; the rise of fascism and Uncle Joe Stalin in Russia; the Second World War; the Holocaust; the invention of the atomic bomb and its use of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the Cold War. Sometimes pessimism is just another word for realism.
(This is not a return from hibernation, by the way; I read the letter this morning and became so incensed that I felt the need to respond.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Due to health and other reasons, A Doubtful Egg is going into hibernation for a while. Whether that "a while" will be a few weeks, or forever, remains to be seen. Thanks to everyone who came to visit or left a comment here. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXXII)

Last year I wrote a brief post about a robin that flew headlong into a window in my house and died before my eyes. I thought that history was about to repeat itself earlier today when I saw the above-pictured bird slamming into the glass in our kitchen. Thankfully, it was unhurt, and is pictured in my partner's hands (she insisted that I point out that she was gardening previously, and that her hands are not normally that dirty). 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

An Amusement (XXVIX)

Terry Gilliam on Walerian Borowczyk's astounding 1964 film Les Jeux des Anges (which translates as The Games of Angels, I believe):
"Walerian Borowczyk was a twisted man whose films were infused with a unique cruelty and weirdness. He started out making extraordinary animations, graduated to directing classics such as Goto, Island of Love and La Bete, and then ended up directing Emmanuelle 5, which I think is a perversely fitting end. Les Jeux des Anges was my first experience of animation that was utterly impressionistic. It didn't show me anything specific, just sound and movement from which you create a world of your own."
What more encouragement do you need? 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXXI)

The sunrise in the field behind my house. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXX)

Pictured above is a section of a fallen tree on Oulart Hill in County Wexford. I went up there after casting my vote, a depressing experience if ever there was one. We'll know sometime tomorrow who the next puppets of the IMF Government will be. It's likely to be led by Fine Gael, in which case, God help the poor and low-paid in our society. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two Landscapes

Ireland goes to the polls tomorrow to elect a new government. It's an election-free zone here because, to be honest, I can't think of anything to write about it except for the following. I have not seen a single candidate since the election was called three weeks ago except on a poster, and here is a comment I left over at the Cedar Lounge Revolution blog (and I hope they don't mind me reprinting it here): "David McWilliams (who may not be the most reliable source) claims that by the end of 2012 the interest payments alone on our debts will be E12 billion (out of a tax take of E30 billion). I think that a whole lot of people just haven’t grasped what “financial constraints” means in this context ... I am really frightened over what is going to happen in the next five years; a 2013 Lockout won’t be the half of it. Is it possible to have any optimism at all in these circumstances?"
Anyway, above are two landscapes. The top is of the Hook Lighthouse, possibly the most photographed building in the whole of the South East of Ireland (it's also been the subject of an awful lot of really bad amateur paintings). It was a really grey, stormy day, and spectacularly beautiful (if a little scary at times, especially when you're trying to manhandle a tripod and keep your balance on uneven ground). The bottom picture is of the rust on an old winch, which was quite close to where the first picture was taken.
Here's a film. The quality is poor at first, so stick with it...


I just discovered that someone nominated one of the little pieces written here for an Irish Blog Award. To whoever it was, I say thanks. The article was about the spin being put on clerical sex abuse in Ireland (and elsewhere) by the Catholic Church, and can be found here. My health and work schedule has made blogging a very occasional pleasure for me, so it's encouraging to know that at least a few people to read (and enjoy) the little fizzles I put here. Thanks again...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Amusement (XXVIII)

There are times when one comes across a horror which is hard to describe, something that even Freddy Krueger of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame would view as being too much to inflict on an unsuspecting world. Just when I thought I couldn't find another reason not to vote for the Celtic Tories Fine Gael, they unleash this atrocity on County Wexford. In the cartoon series Futurama, the mad Professor Farnsworth has a device that measured the coolness of things in MegaFonzies; it goes without saying that the following putrid item has a negative score so great that the coolest, funkiest, most happening track imaginable would, if placed next to it, transform almost immediately into James Last's dullest album. Enjoy! (Acknowledgement to Maman Poulet for this; see here).

As a test, I'm going to put the following song (which is, apparently, what "the kids" are listening to) next to the above and see if, after a while, it doesn't transform into Dana's 'All Kinds of Everything'...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A thing with handles...

In my previous post I took a poem by William Carlos Williams and used an online translation service to mutate it, by translating it into French and back to English, then translating the results into Russian and back into English, and so on. The results are often quite interesting! Here's the opening verse of Emily Dickinson's 'Hope is the thing...' 

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all

Here is my mutation (after running it through Italian, French, and Russian) (the spacing is my own):

'A thing with handles (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)'
by A Doubtful Egg and an online translation service

The hope - 
a thing with handles, 
that the Persian fish in a shower 
also does not sing 

air without words, 
and never stopped all

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Education of Rainwater...

William Carlos Williams' poem 'The Red Wheelbarrow' (1923) is one of the simplest and most beautiful in the language.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Because I'm really bored and fed up with reading about elections, I decided to run it through an online translation service, translating it into another language, back into English, into a different language, and so forth. I ran it through Italian, German, Japanese, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, Mexican Spanish, Finnish, and finally French. After running a very simple poem through ten different languages, you end up with the following: 

'The Broken Wheelbarrow (with apologies to William Carlos Williams)'
by A Doubtful Egg and an online translation service

The owners
kjøretøyhjul gjeldt
red that had
to enter
the education of rainwater
of flisingiin
the rather white chicken
declares to half
in the

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXIX)

Life and death in a small corner of County Wexford.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXVIII)

It was bitterly cold this morning; although the chill was not nearly as fierce as last month, it was still enough to leave a thin coating of ice on the inside of our kitchen window. The above pictured scene was what I could see through the same window. Around this time last year, on January 11th, 2010, a young mother of two froze to death in a flat in Ballymun in Dublin because the council turned her heating off (see here and here). Whoever made that decision should at the very least face charges of criminal negligence causing death (or whatever the proper legal term is). Welcome to NAMAland: where the rich spend their winter in the sun after their gambling debts are paid off by the State, while the poor freeze to death in their homes and it takes a year before the media even notices. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Amusement (XXVII)

While doing a bit of rambling through the dusty pages of old newspapers on th'internet, I stumbled across this absolutely hysterical piece of hagiography about Brian Lenihan Jr by none other than Senator Shane Ross, called 'Breeding and Brains of Brian' and published in the Sunday Independent on May 11th, 2008. I encourage you to read the whole thing (here), not just for how startling wrong it was about the man who, less than six months later, destroyed Ireland's future by guaranteeing her insolvent banks, but for Ross's breathless, fawning adulation of The Hero he seems to admire so deeply; the thrusting capitalist hard man who gives two fingers to those fearful, scowling bureaucrats who dare to reign in his natural dynamism by, horror of horrors, exercising caution! Like Conan the Cimmerian in a bad suit, Lenihan the Mighty would pull the beards of those pesky trade unionists; sweep through the halls of the stultified mandarins, leaving paper and dust swirling behind him; and release the awesome, volcanic power of the Irish Entrepeneur! Long would profit and growth reign in the Halls of Erin! Well, not for those who'd have their meagre wages or welfare cut back to the bone in the name of competitiveness, but it's their own fault for not being dynamic enough! Hmmm... it didn't turn out quite like that, did it?
Here's a few choice quotes. My absolute favourite is: "His intellect could one day propel him into the ranks of the immortals in the FF pantheon of Ministers for Finance." Well, he's certainly earned his place in the history books, and not just in Ireland; people the world over will speak of Brian Lenihan Jr in a cautionary tale of what happens to a country when a person, for reasons still not fully known, does something as gargantuanly stupid as guarantee a bunch of utterly insolvent banks with debts running to many multiples of the country's total income.
"Lenihan not only has brains to burn. He has pedigree. He is both mentally and politically fit for the Finance portfolio. He is an egghead by accident and a politician by blood. The Lenihans are a formidable political family. Brian's grandfather, Paddy Lenihan, was a TD. His talented aunt, Mary O'Rourke, and his equally able brother Conor have both held high political office; but comparisons with his father, Brian Snr, a giant in Fianna Fail folklore, are inevitable."
"Brian Senior, although an intellectual powerhouse himself, tended to hide his light under the nearest bushel. Brian Junior does the opposite. He shines it, blindingly, into your eyes. Lesser political mortals do not like being dazzled. Brian's brazen intellect could prove his Achilles' heel. His agile mind has not always made him flavour of the month in the parliamentary party. Some FF colleagues think that he talks down to them. He does not suffer fools gladly. Nor is he eager to mix with them ... His intellect could one day propel him into the ranks of the immortals in the FF pantheon of Ministers for Finance, but could simultaneously hold him back from his ultimate target: the Office of Taoiseach. And make no mistake, that is where he is heading."
Update: It's nice to see that, in these turbulent and uncertain times, the Sunday Independent is still printing fawning articles about Brian Lenihan (even after he was voted Europe's worst Finance Minister for two years in a row by the Financial Times). Last week we had some surreally weird drivel from the decayed brain of Eoghan Harris (here) and this week there was a torrent of gush from Brendan O'Connor. Choice quotes:
"He cribbed a bit at the beginning about being made the Finance Minister that was going to oversee the worst financial and economic crisis in the history of the State. And who could blame him? But then, he got up and started fighting. He fought his way into the brief and he fought his way through it -- admittedly with mixed results." [Quite possibly the understatement of the decade, if not the century. Can Mr O'Connor point out to me the positive aspects of Lenihan's policies since May 2008?]
"Cowen was the leader and Lenihan was the one in charge of the economy, which was tanking. But somehow the people loved Lenihan and not Cowen." [The people? What people? Does that include people outside the offices of the Irish Independent?]
And the bould Shane was back at it again last week, crying out that Brian should show some gumption and annoy the "mandarins" by appointing outsiders to forthcoming vacancies on bank boards. "So Brian should tell the mandarins in the Department of Finance to stuff it; insisting that he is going to appoint a banker who knows something about banking, an honourable man who is not a Fianna Fail supporter and has never been a member of the golden circle." I find this utterly laughable; the idea that Brian Lenihan, the Minister whose every decision has benefitted the golden circles and privileged insiders, the man responsible for the guarantee and NAMA and the Credit Stabilisation Bill, who comes from one of the country's most conservative and worthless family dynasties, whose father was a close supporter of uber-crook Charles Haughey, is somehow, in his last days in office, going to rock the boat!

But let's put a bit of perspective on this: here's the story of someone who was, indirectly, a victim of the decisions of the likes of Brian Lenihan, and the ruling caste to which he belongs. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wexford Sights (XXVII)

I don't really have anything to add to the above photograph, which was taken in the forest on Oulart Hill recently. It's a place that I love for two reasons: firstly, there are spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, the light through the trees is often breathtakingly beautiful, and in the summer it's full of mushrooms; secondly, there's rarely anyone there, so I can let the hound off the lead to gallop about the place without having to worry about encountering other dogs or people (not because he's aggressive; more that he's wildly friendly, and believes the best way to introduce himself to other dogs is to hurl himself at them, which some people find disconcerting). 

Below is a picture taken just a few minutes ago, on the beach near my house. It's a bit blurry, even though it was taken with a tripod, but I like it all the same.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Some Amusements

Happy New Year, y'all!
I recently picked up a copy of John Carpenter's Halloween on DVD, not because I particularly like it but because, as one of the most influential horror films ever made (although, sadly, not in a positive sense), it's worth having in my collection. For fans of correct English, though, the horror begins on the box itself, as the blurb on the back opens with: "Fifteen years ago, Michael Myers brutally massacred his sister." 
Massacred? Massacred?[A Doubtful Egg's voice rises to a shrill, outraged scream. He takes a deep breath and mutters "calm blue ocean calm blue ocean calm blue ocean" until the red mist subsides.]
Obviously, you can no more "massacre" an individual person than you can "murder" a crowd (although you can murder several individuals within a crowd or commit mass murder). A massacre has a very specific meaning: to kill many people, usually in a fairly indiscriminate and bloody fashion (you can "murder" or "massacre" a song as well, of course!). The copywriter obviously wanted to make the blurb as sensational as possible, and plain ol' "killed" (or even "murdered") just didn't seem strong enough. Will the next edition try to outdo this one by saying that Michael Myers brutally genocided his sister? Puh-leeeze!
There's nothing more amusing than watching a Fianna Fail TD (in this case, our Great Leader, Brian Cowen) coming out with a statement so blatantly untrue that you begin to question your own sanity when you hear it. Forget fridges and double-decker buses; the Moon's circumference is over 10,000 kilometres, and it would be easier to swallow that in one mouthful than to swallow Cowen's story about his contacts with former Anglo chief Sean FitzPatrick at this point. To call his attitude towards the people of Ireland "contempt" is far too understated, I think. 
A quote from Michael Innes' novel, Stop Press (1939):
"Timmy's voice and the rattle of the train's subterraneous plunge were alike drowned in awful and bewildering clamour. A pandemonium of sound, latrant, mugient, reboatory, and beyond all words, reverberated between the walls of the tunnel." 
If you know what latrant, mugient, and reboatory mean without referring to a massive dictionary or the internet, my hat goes off to you (because I certainly didn't!).
Ice on the river on Xmas Day, seen from the bridge just outside New Ross (on the Enniscorthy road).
And to finish my ramblings, here's a song that I find myself humming every now and again:

I woke up this morning, stumbled out sans coffee, and checked my messages, only to discover that the title I'd thrown on this this post last night (in a state of exhaustion, and with my mind focused on watching Mario Bava's dreamlike Gothic Operazione Paura (known in English by the the rather silly and inappropriate title Kill, Baby, Kill!) was both illogical and contained a blatant misspelling. Boy, is my face red! Feel free to pour thick, steaming ladles of abuse upon me...