OH HAI 2009

How was your year? Mine was pretty good.

I didn’t see a lot of gigs, but Leonard Cohen, Elbow, dEUS, My Bloody Valentine, Scott Walker’s Drifting and Tilting and the Rogue’s Gallery shows were very memorable. While many reviewers dwelt upon the alleged darkness of Walker’s Drifting and Tilting, the one thing I took away from the show was its wicked humour.

Punching a pig. Photo by eleventhvolume.com.

Musically often impenetrable, these lighter moments were brought to the fore by Walker and show director Ann-Christin Rommen’s staging. Afterwards, Walker’s albums, Drift, and Tilt, didn’t seem quite as ‘difficult’ to deal with and the show stopping ‘Patriot’ became my most played track of the year’s final three months.

Leonard Cohen (by Caroline)

Musically I mostly stuck to old favourites, but I enjoyed newcomers Duffy, Rachel Unthank, Sam Sparro, The Aftermath, and welcomed the return of Tricky and Grace Jones. In the last few months of the year, I mostly craved Hi-NRG beats. Hercules & Love Affair, Sparro, The Potbelleez, Ne-Yo and Robyn all scratched that particular itch. I’m not an album listener anymore, my iTunes/iPod is always set to ‘shuffle’, but judging from my iTunes and Last.FM stats, Duffy’s Rockferry was my favourite, or at least the most played.

I spend more time watching TV-series than I do listening to music and genre shows came out on top this year: Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, The Sarah Connor Chronicles were unmissable. Comedy came second, with 30 Rock and The Office constant features on my list of weekly downloads. My favourite drama series of the last two seasons is still the awesome Friday Night Lights.

Battlestar Galactica - Last Supper

I’ll spare you the full list of the shows that I watch, it is endless. I think watching TV-series (and following some of its complex stories) has replaced watching films and reading books for me. I don’t do either much anymore. In fact I haven’t read a book in years, certainly not since I stopped commuting. I find most (Hollywood) movies disappointing and have not made an effort checking out arthouse flicks as I would have in the past. Films I did enjoy this year included Burn after reading (One of the few Coen Brothers films I liked), Iron Man (I’ll watch anything with Robert Downey Jr), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (same goes for Philip Seymour Hoffman) , and In Bruges.

On a personal level, while the economy plummeted, my health improved steadily and I lost quite a bit of weight and dropped from a size 18 to 12. To compensate for no longer being able to tuck into Chinese roast pork and other such delicacies, I picked up a serious on– and offline shopping habit, partly necessary as I had to replace my wardrobe, partly pure indulgence. (Six pairs of new shoes? Really?) Consequently I rekindled an interest in fashion and started reading fashion magazines and websites.

I finally got a job that seems to agree with me, in a place where I can learn things. I made a bit more money, spent it even more. I travelled a lot. Four great trips to Ireland, three to the UK, three to Paris and two trips to Cologne and Antwerp.

Salthill - Before you leap (by Caroline)

I’ll remember walking along the Salthill promenade in Galway, hanging out with Ben in Coffee @ Whitecross Street, becoming my nephew’s godparent in the Eglise de la TrinitĂ©, sitting in a park in Brighton with Stuart, looking for chickens in Gav’s garden in Killiney and, of all the time I spent with him this year, our mad dinner in that dingy cellar in L’Ecurie in Paris.

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In 2009 I hope to continue doing well in my job, which is going to change slightly as our project moves out from development to production. I’ll have to travel less, because I really can’t afford what I did last year. I need to pick up the camera again, didn’t do enough of that in 2008. I intend to stick to my food regimen, drop another stone or so and hopefully be taken off even more of my medication.

U2 is releasing a new album and will be touring, so that’s going to create a bit of work over at u2log.com, even if I don’t know why I’m still doing that. Whedonesque.com will enjoy a traffic spike as Joss Whedon’s new series Dollhouse will start airing on Fox on February 13. But there are other things afoot on Planet Prol that eclipse Whedon (easily – I’ve kind of lost interest, really) or U2 (just as easily) which are going to be as time consuming as they will be rewarding. I can’t wait to tell you more about that.

Engage! So say we all!

Rogue’s Gallery in the Dublin Docklands

Lou Reed and Shane McGowan, originally uploaded by Caroline.

My first time competing for shots in the photo pit. All the other photographers were male, tall, big and Irish.

I’ve have tons to edit when I get back home. Rogue’s Gallery was quite the event. Shane McGowan riling up the crowd with Dave-id, Guggi and Gavin Friday. Actor Tim Robbins (who is recording an album?) jamming with Lou Reed. David Thomas (Pere Ubu) in a class of his own. Folk, pop, rock an avant-garde sharing the same stage, stuck together with Hal Willner’s glue.

Doing it all over again next week in London.

Playlist: Irish bands

Marco Derksen was making German and Italian playlists on iMeem today, using input from Twitterati. That set me on a quest to try and make an Irish one. Only I didn’t want to pick too obvious songs, but rather unearth some of the late 80s/early 90s bands that nobody really knew or cared about outside of Ireland. Before the internet as we know it. Before bargain flights. Before the Celtic bloody Tiger. Back when every Irish musician was washing up dishes in crappy restaurants and looking for a Green Card. And every Irish drummer played on Larry Mullen’s second hand kits.

I couldn’t find a whole lot of them on iMeem so I had to make do with what I could find, alternate tracks, etc. My own collection is mostly on vinyl. I really must get a USB record player.

As I searched online I found out a lot of the bands are making ‘come backs’ on MySpace (An Emotional Fish, Something Happens, The Golden Horde, Into Paradise, Zerra One, The Dixons, Screech Owls, In Tua Nua, Aslan) and I also found this rather marvellous website hosting the Irish punk & new wave discography.

Is it me or is making playlists on iMeem a lot of work? Search a song, click through to a song, click ‘playlist’, choose profile or group, make playlist… find next song, start over…

You’ll just have to imagine that this playlist also contains: I want too much (A House), You ain’t lovin’ me lately (Aslan), Parachute (Something Happens), Friends in Time (The Golden Horde), The Bridge (Cactus World News), Dog with no tails (The Pale) and my entire obscure Mother Records collection… perhaps I will pick up that USB record player tomorrow.

So, consider this a botched attempt at creating a playlist of the ‘best’ (read ‘available’) Irish bands.

“Tomorrow belongs to me”

Finally was able to make the big announcement today.

This is what I’ve been immersed in for the last two months (regular readers will perhaps have picked up on the Germanic flavour of certain items and links here), basically doing research and lending a hand wherever I can. Nothing major, mind. It isn’t a ‘job’, it’s sort of a string of small favours. What I get in return is the joy of being part of the process, which is just endlessly fascinating.

My trip to Dublin has been booked for a while now, eventhough the contracts hadn’t even been signed. I had faith.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a summer break in Ireland, as far as I remember. I’m going over for a week, arriving a few days before the shows to do what I can during the last two production days. I can’t wait to see it and find out which of my tiny contributions survive and come alive on stage.

I know it’s going to be brilliant.

Ich bin 6 m gross und alles ist wichtig
Ich bin 9 m gross und alles ist mehr als wichtig
Ich bin 12 m gross und alles ist unvorstellbar

De-iceman cometh

Finally landed in Dublin at 10.30pm local time (was supposed to arrive at 8pm). I was lucky, there were people on board who had been waiting at Schiphol Airport since yesterday and the woman in front of me,who had been travelling for 24 hours, was pulled from the flight because she had never actually checked in for the flight (yet she had been given a boarding pass!)

Total chaos.

When we finally boarded, we sat waiting on the tarmac for another hour or more. We were in a queue to be de-iced, but they made a mistake and we missed our slot and had to wait some more.

De-icing was fun – they hosed the plane down under very bright lights and then sprayed something (anti-freeze?) on it. It’s a long process and I think it allowed for only 5 planes per hour to take off. Funnily my friend W., a flight attendant, was in another plane in the queue with me. We were texting each other. Aer Lingus crew said nothing about not using mobiles. They were going off left and right.

There was no food on the flight except Kitkats and Pringles. And no drinks except tomato and orange juice. ‘We are running out of coffee and the wine bottles are broken. That’ll be four euro, please.’

Too late to meet up with friends, so here I am talking to you. I’m having a chicken and stuffing sambo for dinner.

Ireland feels very mild and warm (+5). Like a blankie. ‘Rest up’, he says, but I am totally wired-uh.