Film Review: One Million Dubliners

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one-million-dublinersNamed the “Best Irish Feature Documentary” at Galway Film Fleadh back in July One Million Dubliners finally hits cinemas this month.
The documentary tells the story of Glasnevin Cemetery (officially Prospect Cemetery) and the 1.5 million people that are buried there. And since there are more bodies in the ground at Glasnevin Cemetery than people living in the whole of Dublin almost everyone has a friend or relative buried next to some of Irelands most historic figures.
Director Aoife Kelleher intertwines personnel stories with historic facts and creates a unique insight into a world only few of us truly know. And instead of being morbid or depressing the film is funny, interesting, sometimes a little sad but always entertaining.
“To bury people of all religions and none” was Daniel O’Connell’s mission when he established Glasnevin cemetery in 1828 and this is still very much at the heart of the trust today. This means that loyalists and revolutionaries lie side by side, WWI and WWII soldiers lie next to de Velera, Parnell and Collins.
But One Million Dubliners doesn’t just look at the past and Kelleher lets staff and visitors alike share their thoughts on life and death and why Glasnevin plays such an important role in their lives.  Florists, gardeners, historians, tour guides, mourners, and grave diggers all get their say, and even a mysterious French woman, who lays roses on Michael Collins grave, talks about her ongoing love affair with a dead man.
Kelleher uses these different narrative strands to link the past with the present and the future. One of the main narrators is tour guide and resident historian Shane MacThomáis and the camera follows him as he brings groups around the cemetery, enthrals them with tales and historic facts. But MacThomáis  also speaks directly  to  the camera and talks about his father, who was also a tour guide, and about his own connection with the cemetery.  He explains how his father used to tell him that a great tour needs four things to capture it’s audience: tell them something they know, something they didn’t know, something to make them laugh and something to make them cry.
This is the formula that Kelleher also seems to be following as she not only enchants her audience with beautifully shoot images of Glasnevin Cemetery but lets them rediscover what they have seen before, learn what they have never known, laugh at the oddities and cry at the unexpected.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

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This week I have been feeling ‘fractured’ myself, between putting a magazine to bed, lecturing, watching movies to review and playing host to my cousin and her daughter my time has been not my own and my mind has been fractured by many thoughts.

But since I can’t really show this so I decided that this photo of the Reichstags Kuppel in Berlin will have to fill in for the image of my fractured mind … so many thoughts, so many things to do all filling in the spaces.trichter1

porridge and tea

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We all know that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or so they say. I have no idea if that is true or not but I do know that the word break-fast literally means to interrupt those hours of non-eating.

The benefit of that is that this kick-starts your metabolism which in turn raves-up your engine, so to speak,  burning calories and setting the pace for the rest of the day. Of course this does depend on what you have for breakfast, a sugary donuts or a muesli bar isn’t really going to work, but wholegrain toast, sugar-free muesli and porridge, fruit are just a few options that do.

I like a little bit of variety in the mornings but I do tend to tend to stick to muesli or porridge. And especially now, with the weather being so wet and miserable outside, a hot bowl of porridge with some cranberries and cinnamon and a steaming cup of tea always seems to warm my spirits and my tummy at the same time.

 

I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time‘. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

Comedian Steven Wright

a trip to the dentist

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Last week I started to feel a bit of an uncomfortable twinge on the left side of my jaw and panic set in.

I hate going to the dentist, have an absolute fear of those strange people who work all day with face-masks covering half their faces burrowing around in other peoples mouths. I avoid going as long as I can and then sit on the chair with sweaty palms and my heart beating faster than I ever think possible.

So when my jaw started to hurt I went into panic mode. But deciding to take a  plunge, things weren’t going to get better by ignoring it, I went to the dentist yesterday, dreadingly, images of root canals psyching me out.

But when I was there I found out that while yes, I do have a small cavity easily filled, no big deal, but that wasn’t what was bothering me, the source of my pain was my wisdom tooth.

In my late teens I had all four wisdom teeth removed, they hadn’t fully developed yet and since my jaw very tight there was no room for them to come out. I remember it well, it was painful  and really no fun.

Several years later a dentist told me that my upper left wisdom tooth was making an appearance, peaking out to view the world and I discovered that somehow I still had one of those buggers … either it redeveloped or I had five, which can happen.

For years now the wisdom tooth has been hanging around, half in half out and not really bothering me at all, except it was always hard to reach with the toothbrush. But now the tooth made the not so wise decision to fully erupt and cause me pain.

Since there is no space for it the tooth is gnawing at my cheek, irritating the gum, causing it to swell and become a little bit infected.  So now it needs to come out and a tooth extraction is now a feature in my calendar. And since the dentist couldn’t see if the root of this wisdom tooth reaches all the way up to my sinus it looks as if a specialist will be taking care of it. And I am so not happy about any of this, but I don’t have a choice.

The next few weeks will now be filled with nightmares, terror moments and panic attacks while I debate the question if I should chose to have sedation or not. Sadly they don’t give you the option to sleep through it at all, not even a wallop over your head is allowed.

autumn has arrived

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leaves_lowIt’s that time of the year again where the leaves change their outfits and wooly socks and cardigans become your go-to comfy clothes.

And while we do still have very mild temperatures and sunny skies you can feel a  tiny nip in the air as soon as the sun hides away.

In a  few weeks time cute ghouls and skipping witches will be knocking on my door demanding sweets and treats, threatening tricks if I don’t give in. This means I should really get my Halloween going, a few chestnut and pumpkins to adorn my window sills won’t be amiss.

But with my eyes a  little blurry from looking at my computer all day and my lack of sleep the result of too-much-to-do and heavy rains drumming an autumny rhythm on my window every night, a musical interlude to the season to come.

So today I switched from muesli to porridge, pulled on a pair of socks and made some hot herbal tea as my teaching companion.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower

Albert Camus

I just heard that – the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

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Ever been in the situation where you just learned something, received an odd bit of information or heard a new word and then, for no apparent reason, that piece of information or word keeps popping up, you keep hearing it again and again. You can’t help but think “that’s weird, I jut heard that”.

These events is know as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and most of us experience them a few times in our lives, some more than others.

Like synchronicity, which is when you experience meaningful coincidences – like when you are thinking of someone and then they call you on the phone –  many feel these occurrences must be destiny or fate, as if they were suppose to happen.

And even when science tries to explain these things away by declaring that the world is complex and filled with frequent coincidences we just don’t want to hear it. But maybe we should pay a little bit more attention.

Our brains are programmed to seek out patterns this helps us learn and remember things. However this also causes our brains to make certain events seem more important than they really are. So when you consider the amount of information we are bombarded with every day, it isn’t really surprising that duplicates occur. And when these intersections happens our brain picks up on them and selects them as the beginning of a sequence, ignoring all the other information swirling around, which is called selective attention.

This means that coincidence is nothing more than a result or perception, our brain is stimulated by them as they are patterns and we then tend to to give them more attention, give them more value.

So when we then hear or see the same information the next day, if feels like more than coincidence, the brain sees it as a continuation of a pattern and we inflate the importance of the information. And this is what Baarder-Meinhof Phenomenon is … coincidences that intersect, creating a sequence in our brain due to selective attention, followed up by another coincidence turning the events into a pattern, which we then perceive as something like fate or destiny.

How the name came about however is a little unclear, but it seems that the person who discovered it named it after the event that triggered it for them – the historic German urban guerrilla group.

A bit of a mouthful but I bet you’ll be hearing more about it now, after reading this article!

The world is unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control of our own existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence

Author Paul Auster

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

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As someone who studied graphic design and works in the world of visual media, signs are something I tend to notice, at home and abroad. Here are a few I took on some of my travels:

Warning beach walkers about the kite surfers, on Dollymount Beach, Dublin (Ireland)

Warning beach walkers about the kite surfers, on Dollymount Beach, Dublin (Ireland)

Making urban art Italian style, Rome (Italy)

Making urban art Italian style, Rome (Italy)

If you don't have signs, make them  - Nike sign in a Berber Village in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco)

If you don’t have signs, make them – Nike sign in a Berber Village in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco)

Not sure how blind people are to see the sign telling them this is a pedestrian light with sound, St Petersberg (Russia)

Not sure how blind people are to see the sign telling them this is a pedestrian light with sound, St Petersberg (Russia)

Seen  above one of the canals in St Petersburg (Russia)

Seen above one of the canals in St Petersburg (Russia)

Sign for Timanfaya National Park  and it's volcano on Lanzerote ,  Canary Islands (Spain)

Sign for Timanfaya National Park and it’s volcano on Lanzerote , Canary Islands (Spain)

 

Bicycles this way, Mueggelsee, Berlin (Germany)

Bicycles this way, Mueggelsee, Berlin (Germany)

Lifesaver and sign, Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)

Lifesaver and sign, Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)

 

Beatles cake

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sub3_lights_lowresA lovely friend of mine is an cake-maker and a few weeks ago he asked me to take photos of a creation he made for an Australian/New Zealand cake makers magazine called Sweet Magazine.

Of course I said yes and while I don’t have any experience in taking photos of culinary delights I gave it a go. The theme was The Beatles and we had a lot of fun, even it was quite tricky, taking photos of his floating Submarine.

If you want to see more more of my talented friends cakes here is a link to see his edible creations on his facebook page: Purple Feather Cake Designs

what a difference two weeks make

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deskWhen I wandered into my study this morning I was greeted with the debris of some late night work: information scribbled on notepads, pens, my glasses, a list of things still left to do and an empty cup of tea.

The last two weeks have been very busy for me and the next few weeks won’t be very different. My calendar is bursting with deadlines and appointments, both for work and play.

But after a long summer of struggling to make ends meet it’s good to see that the work I put in is now paying off. However I can’t quite keep up, as time has gone into overdrive: college is already two weeks in, the new magazine is due to go to print in twelve days and my cousin and her daughter are dropping in for a five day visit in ten days time.

So as I ponder what a difference two weeks make I am wondering how I am going to find the time to sleep. But since the weekend is just a day away I am sure I can allow myself a bit of a longer lie in, even if my waking hours will be mostly occupied with work.

So for today i will try and do as much as I can in the daylight hours and tonight I will enjoy some time spent out with friends. And who knows what a difference today will make, and no one sings it better than the gorgeous Dinah Washington.

 

Film Review: Gone Girl

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article-0-1A507AE700000578-485_634x418This autumns most anticipated thriller Gone Girl is finally here and it doesn’t disappoint. Adapted by the author herself, Gillian Flynn has turned her bestseller successfully into a Hollywood blockbuster.

On their fifth year wedding anniversary Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) arrives home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) has disappeared. He calls the police assuming someone broke in and abducted her, but as the investigation unfolds things just don’t add up.

Detectives Boney (Kim Dickens) and Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) soon change the investigation from abduction to murder and Nick becomes their main suspect.

However the police aren’t the only ones watching Nick’s every move, the media is all too present, dissecting his every gesture and creating a modern day witch-hunt.

As the story unfolds, with many twists, turns and surprises, we learn through flashbacks, narrated by Amy herself, all about how Nick and Amy met, fell passionately in love and had to leave their lives in New York behind and help Nick’s mother unsuccessfully fight cancer.

But things aren’t as they seem as Gone Girl play’s with perspective and the situation looks very different from Nick’s point of view. His problem is: will anyone believe him?

With the media showing the world what they think, Margo’s (Carrie Coon) unwavering belief in her twin brother Nick and an obscure treasure hunt supplying some answers, it isn’t surprising the Gone Girl keeps its viewer enthralled and highly entertained.

Both the well constructed script by Gillian Flynn and the direction provided by director David Fincher successfully manage the delicate balancing act between too much and too little information, unbalancing their audience at the perfect moment.

As further the story unravels the more bizarre the film becomes, but in a very enticing and captivating way. A lot of this great entertainment is down to the main actors; Affleck is both sympathetic and highly suspicious as husband Nick, and Pike is one-dimensional when needed and vindictively complex when called for.

Even the side characters lend both humour and interest to the film: Neil Patrick Harris is fantastically creepy as Amy’s high school stalker boyfriend, Tyler Perry says exactly what the audience is thinking as a high-powered lawyer who made a name for himself defending murderous husbands and Missi Pyle is perfect as a talk-show host with a piranha-esque bite and smile.

But what is really surprising about Gone Girl is the unique look it takes at society, class and agendas, how happiness turns into ruins, how lies, deceit and the ever-present media form and destroy perceptions, even when the truth seems more obvious – and it’s funny! At times so much so that there are laugh out loud moments, but don’t think you’ll leave the cinema with a giggle, your head may be spinning a little, you’ll feel a little confused, a “what the f***” may not be too far from your lips and you’ll definitely be thinking about Gone Girl for a while.

Overall Gone Girl and David Fincher have achieved something rare, a hyped up film that lives up to its promises.

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