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Archive for the ‘Roddy Doyle’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DAVID O’DOHERTY-“Florence Falls” (2012).

Back in 2012, Cathy Davey said she’d “been trying to figure out how to raise awareness for homeless dogs without it becoming a negative campaign.”  She says she “wondered how many songwriters would be interested in writing songs about dogs they have loved. It turns out nearly everyone I approached had a story to tell…”

So Davey and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy curated this album.  Proceeds from the album go to the Dublin-based Dogs In Distress.

The album features new recordings from fourteen artists, including Lisa Hannigan.  When the album came out Hannigan tweeted: “A dog is for life, this album is for Christmas” playing on the Humane Society’s “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” which is designed to discourage giving pets as holiday gifts if they can’t be cared for.  Sharon Shannon and David Gray both contribute instrumentals).  And of course, The Divine Comedy.

I was planning  to write about The Divine Comedy song, but my favorite track turned out to be this one from David O’Doherty, an Irish comedian.  I don’t know anything about O’Doherty, but the delivery of this bittersweet song was top notch.

Musically, the song is simple, just a keyboard playing a nice melody.  The story starts somewhat sweetly as Florence’s owner returns home.

As my key went in the door I’d call your name, you’d start to growl
And move menacingly across the floor
And as you’d thundered down the stairs
Snarling angrily
I’d wonder why I liked you so much
And you always hated me

The details of how bad Florence was are really hilarious.

In the winter you’d curl up by the fire at home
I’d go off to get your chew-chew
And then you’d eat my mobile phone

Then we realize just how bad Florence was

The first time that you nipped me people said you were just young
And the second time it was the heat
And the third you were only having fun (ha ha ha ha ha)
And the fourth time I actually needed Tetanus and you got neutered at the vet
She said that it would calm you down
And then you bit me on the leg

And since Christmas is coming, there’s a Christmas verse too:

I remember one time at Christmas
When you opened all the stuff
I put you out into the garden
And you were furious
You cried so much at this great injustice
I had to let you back in
And then you were good for an hour


Then you licked the turkey

Florence was truly a terrible dog.  A terrible pet.  And yet the ending reveals the truth:

Oh, Florence, there was nothing good about you I can’t think of anything
But I wish that you were still at home … hating me again.
You were a rubbish dog
But a rubbish dog is better than no dog

And even though this song is sweet and might make you a little teary-eyed, the phrase “rubbish dog” will always make me laugh.

[READ: November 30, 2019] “The Curfew”

I have loved Roddy Doyle’s stories for years.  His early stuff was very funny, but it has been a pretty long time since he has written anything genuinely funny.  But no matter, because what he writes is always good and very real.

The curfew in this story is in place because ex-Hurricane Ophelia is heading towards Dublin.

The protagonist is heading home, with a half hour to spare before the curfew.  His wife is dismissive of the curfew–“Do they think it’s a civil war?  It’s only a bit of weather,” but he likes the drama of it.  He felt like he was helping to stave of a catastrophe–it was doing him good.  It almost kept his mind off the medical news.

A couple of wees ago he’d had a checkup.  All he could remember was the prostate exam.  He smiled to himself thinking he could now address his daughter’s lectures about gender: “I know what you’re talking about, he’d be tempted to say.  A woman doctor had her finger up my arse and she was thoroughly professional.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] And And And

When I saw the band that was opening for Built to Spill was called And And And, I knew it sounded familiar.  I knew it was from some work of fiction.  And then it finally came to me that it was from The Commitments. Roddy Doyle’s hilarious book that inspired the movie.

The band is mentioned here:

Jimmy Rabbitte: What do you call yourselves?
Derek: “And And And.”
Jimmy Rabbitte: “And And fuckin’ And?”
Derek: Well, Ray’s thinking of putting an exclamation mark after the second “and.” Says it’d look deadly on the posters.
Jimmy Rabbitte: Psshh…
Outspan Foster: You don’t like it? You think it should go at the end?
Jimmy Rabbitte: I think it should go up his arse.

Excellent.

I instantly loved this band from Portland who were so bold as to take this name (no exclamation points). (more…)

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CV1_TNY_04_14_14Blitt.inddSOUNDTRACK: SIMONE DINNERSTEIN-Tiny Desk Concert #362 (June 2, 2014).

simoneSimone Dinnerstein plays several of Bach’s two-part inventions.  And my jaw hits the floor.

I like Bach–I like his elaborate arrangements and the way he makes the piano (or harpsichord) sing.  But I never really thought about how hard these pieces are.  Watching Dinnerstein play these–simply watching the amazingness of her fingers–has blown me way.  And if I may say, her fingers aren’t long slender graceful things, they look a lot like mine.  So she doesn’t seem to have that advantage of an octave and a half reach or anything.  I am amazed that her two hands can work so independently.  And it sounds beautiful.

She groups them together into three segments and between each segment she talks a little about Bach and about playing these difficult pieces.  Her story about learning these as a child and then teaching them to children is really fascinating (and funny).

I have no idea how many Inventions Back wrote, but this set list is: Inventions Nos. 1, 6, 8, then Inventions Nos. 9, 10, and finally Inventions Nos. 12, 13, 14.

Check this out.

[READ: June 3, 2104] “Box Sets”

How can Roddy Doyle, who does funny so well, also do domestic unhappiness with such verisimilitude?

In this brief story, just as Ireland is getting through the worst of the economic depression and Sam and his wife Emer are feeling like they can exhale, Sam is let go from his job.  Now he’s been on the dole for three months.  And he is miserable.  The only good thing is that he has been watching box set seasons of all of the really good TV that everyone’s been talking about.  He feels foolish watching it all after the fuss about them has ended, but he’s still glad to watch it.  And Emer is great through the whole thing, always cheerful, always trying to make him feel better.  Always with a smile.  But Sam is getting darker and darker.

Then one night when Emer says they’re going to a friend’s house on Friday, Sam says he’d rather not.  He reminds her that at their last get together he was stumped when someone asked him what he did.  He just doesn’t want to go out anymore.  Emer tries to comfort him but fails.  He just gets madder until he throws a coffee mug and it shatters.  He takes the dog for a walk down to the seaside to cool off. (more…)

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Two-Pints-Doyle-Roddy-9780224097819 SOUNDTRACK: BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY-LIve on Mountain Stage (April 11, 2013).

bpbI saw Bonnie “Prince” Billy several years ago when he opened for Godspeed You Back Emperor.  His set was really good.  And yet I have never bought any of his music (his back catalog is just too intimidating to want to jump into).  But i still enjoy his music, and this Mountain Stage appearance shows off his songs and his between set humor.

He plays four songs here: “Oh How I Enjoy The Light,” “We Love Our Hole,” “Screaming Issue” and “You Remind Me Of Something (The Glory Goes).”

“We Love Our Hole” is from an Australian movie about surfing (and features some great baking vocals from Emmett Kelly and especially Cheyenne Marie Mize.  And “Screaming Issue” is a Loudon Wainwright song (it seems funny to me that he has so many songs but he chose to do a cover) and he does a great job of it.  “You Remind Me of Something” may be my favorite song of the set.

One of these days I’ll have to dive into his recorded work.  But, oh where to start?

[READ: September 19, 2013] Two Pints

Two Pints is a delightful, short book that shows just how funny Roddy Doyle is.  I’m not sure how easy it is to find in the States, but if you’re a fan of Doyle’s humor, this is worth tracking down.

It is a series of conversations between two mates at the pub.  Each entry is dated starting with 24-5-11 (May 24, 2011 for us Americans) and ending 4-9-12 (September 9, 2012).  At first I thought that they were regular meetings, but they aren’t.  Some come weekly some more frequently.  But in each visit, the two men meet at their local with a pint to discuss the events of the day (often quite reluctantly).

Of course they also talk about their wives and kids and grand kids (the one crazy piece of nonsense is that one man (neither are named) keeps talking about buying wild animals for his kids (polar bears, hyenas and the lot).  It’s so strangely far-fetched for something that is otherwise down to earth, that I’m just not sure if Doyle was making a point or just being goofy.

But otherwise, one man begins talking and the other joins in.

They talk about Gaddafi (one of them thinks he’s the guy at the chipper, the other one is sure he’s spotted him working at the airport—the perfect hiding place).  They talk a lot about the Queen (it’s okay to hate the Brits again, phew) and The Pope (the mean German pope, not the nice new pope).  They talk about politics and voting.  They even talk about Anthony Weiner. (more…)

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wilderSOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live from Mountain Stage (May 16, 2012).

whitehorseWhitehorse is opening for Barenaked Ladies on the current leg of their tour (we’re going to see them in October).  I hadn’t heard of them.  Turns out Whitehorse is the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland.  They are from Canada, which may be why they are touring with BNL–because they’re not very funny or very upbeat.

They play four songs in this Mountain Stage show.  I really like “Killing Time” which has a very alt-country feel—McClelland’s harmony vocals are great on the chorus, which has a very low down dirty feel.  I particularly like the lines:

Pimms in the cooler and daughter in the yard Playing California strip croquet

And

Tongue is a sharpened razor Little miss know it some But get her alone she cries I wanna go home Oh, this little piggy plays dumb.

They have some good stories too, like the one about “Emerald Isle” which is about Luke running a marathon in Ireland.  His Irish mother, who had never been to Ireland, flew out to meet him at the finish line and his wife, Melissa, flew in from Australia as well.  There are more great harmonies in this song which, while mournful has a wonderfully uplifting feel.  “Night Owls” is a very slow ballad which, while lyrically interesting, is a little too slow for my tastes.

For the final song, Melissa explains that the two of them had been playing solo and then they got married and still played solo.  And then they decided to join forces. “Broken One” was a song that Luke wrote for his ex-girlfriend (and it is mean); Melissa says that she fixed it for Whitehorse.  It’s a pretty standard country song with a honky tonk feel.  It has a great blow off line: “You gotta have a heart to have a broken one.”

There’s something about Canadian Country music that I like so much more than American country music.  I wonder what that is.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Wilderness

I recently stumbled upon this book at the library.  I was only vaguely aware that Doyle had written a children’s novel, but there it was on the shelf.  This is not a young child’s book, which is kind of a shame.  I know my son would love half of the book, but I didn’t think he was ready for the other half.

The two parts of the story are about different members of the same family.  The father, Frank, is the same.  He married a woman quite young and they had a daughter.  When the daughter was about 4 years old, the father and mother realized they could no longer live together.  After some fights, the mother left for America.  Where she stayed.  Gráinne, the daughter, is now 18 and she is a sullen, angry teenager.  Her dad is still okay, but most of the time she wants to treat him like he’s not.  But he seems okay with that and gives her space.  The crux of her story is that her mother has decided to come back after all these years.  And Gráinne now has to deal with that.

Her story is a little mature, (especially for my 8 year old son), and she has some pretty harsh things to say about her parents, (which I hope he doesn’t have yet).

The other half of the story concerns her half brothers, and I know my son would love this part.  Conveniently, the two stories are easy to demarcate–the ones with the boys are named Chapter 1 etc, the one with Gráinne are named things like The Bedroom, The Bus etc.  So I did consider telling him to read just those parts.  But maybe I’ll just wait.  Anyway, her half brothers, Johnny and Tom, belong to her dad and her stepmom, Sandra.  Sandra loves her boys and her husband and even Gráinne–most of the time.  But lately Gráinne has been a little much.  And Frank has encouraged Sandra to take the boys and go on a trip, just with them.  That will let her focus on the boys and give him some time with Gráinne. (more…)

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xmasSOUNDTRACK: BARENAKED LADIES-Live from Mountain Stage (Jan 19, 1995).

barenakedladiesThis is wonderful show from 1995 (it was recorded on Super Bowl Sunday, which explains the football jokes…including the Baltimore football team that played in the CFL for literally one year). Having seen BNL recently (and enjoyed them), I forgot how much more bouncey and fun their earlier shows were (as their earlier songs were in general more bouncey and fun).  This show is also interesting because Andy Creeggan is still in the band.  Andy is Tim (bass) Creeggan’s brother.  And I have to wonder if he is doing some of the great harmonies (especially on “Alternative Girlfriend,” which I’ve never heard anywhere else).

I love each of the four songs they play here: “Life in a Nutshell,” “Jane” (a song where their harmonies are absolutely wonderful).  “Great Provider” slows things down but allows for Tim’s great bass work.  The set ends with one of my favorite songs “Alternative Girlfriend.”  They disingenuously announce that they will be playing the Mountain Stage theme song and I think everyone is a little bummed that they didn’t.  But I was just as happy to hear “Alternative Girlfriend and this is where those great unexpected harmonies come in.  They even throw in a smidgen of “My Sharona” for fun.

I’ll be seeing BNL again in a month.  After seeing them this summer, I wanted to tell them to dig deep into their catalog for some of their middle albums tracks (like the ones here).  Since most people who see them are die hards, we’d all love some of these older tracks!

Enjoy the set here.  Sadly, you only get to see Steven Page’s glorious mustache in this photo.

[READ: August 24, 2013] Not Just for Christmas

In addition to writing a lot of novels, Roddy Doyle has written a number of smaller books.  Like this one.  This was actually written for The Open Door series which is a series of six books by different authors that are designed to help adult readers who have trouble reading.  The stories are meant to be short, engaging and relatively easy to read.

I wasn’t conscious of this story being easy to read, but it is certainly simple.  It is 77 pages with big print and probably counts more like a short story, although I think it gets classified as a novella.

Simplicity aside, the story is a very good one.  Danny and Jimmy Murphy are brothers.  But they haven’t seen each other in twenty years.    When they were younger, they were inseparable and, although they were a year apart, people assumed they were twins.  We see a few instances from their childhood where they finished each others’ sentences and had a kind of psychic connection. (more…)

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[WATCHED: August 19, 2013] New Boy

new boyWikipedia leads me to find things about authors that I don’t know.  Some things lead you to unfindable items (see yesterday’s Douglas Coupland post).  But this time, the post about Roddy Doyle has led me to a number of things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about,

Like this short film.

New Boy is based on his short story “New Boy.”  I read the story a while ago.  I remembered the basic premise, but not the details.  And I was delighted by this short film.  It is about 11 minutes long and it really captures the story very well.

The story is about Joseph, an African refugee, who is starting school in Ireland.  He is not the only black student, but he really does stand out.  And when the mean boy behind his calls him “Live Aid” you know that things aren’t going to go all that well.

But then we flash back to the boy’s past (in an unnamed African country).  We see him in school there and then we see why he is a refugee (there’s nothing explicit either visually or narratively, but a lot is hinted at). (more…)

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