Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sweeney Todd

Ah yes, the oul dreamboat himself. We went to see Sweeney Todd on Saturday night. Well, I went to see it: hub yawned his way through it. I had got him there on the pretext of Helen Bonham Carter's jugulars, (or jongleurs?) but it didn't stop him from finding it all very tiresome: 'But darling, you know I don't like musicals!'

Well, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang it was not. I must confess that it's the first musical I've ever seen that combined song and gore in such a stomach turning way. I enjoyed it, in a peeping-through-me-fingers sort of way. I probably enjoyed it because Johnny Depp was in it. But Alan Rickman played his sneering judge quite well and Timothy Spall was quite the slinking stinker too. I have to admit that I laughed when Sacha Baron Cohen got his throat cut - but he did his small part quite well as the opposition barber with a side line in hair tonics.

One thing: if the evil judge Turpin was so evil, then how come his evil fades into insignificance once Sweeney Todd gets going? There's nowhere for your sympathies to lie except to expect Todd getting his comeuppance at the end of the film (and I'd best not spoil it here).

I think it's just degrees of evil - everyone in this damn story is so evil, bar the ward Joanna (originally Todd's daughter in his former life) and the young sailor who chases after her - but they're so damn 'goody' that they come across as sickly sweet - really - which makes you wish that something would happen along and corrupt them.

Yes, I get the whole desire-for-revenge-corrupts thing. But everyone has degrees of corruption in this telling - I tell you, I felt quite greasy leaving the cinema last Saturday and it wasn't that I needed a shower.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spring has sprung

I don't care if it is cold in your part of the world. In the Smith/O'Reilly household there is a certain whiff in the air that has me reaching for the cleaning fluids and eyeing up me man a certain way (in fairness, he has the decency to look scared).

I've been getting ready, I tell myself, for La Fheile Bríd (fadas and Irish spelling ever my failing). This day is the 1st of February and already the evenings are lengthening out a little and my kids are behaving like baa lambs: extra bleating and sproinging around the place; they played outside on Saturday for the first time this year, making a nice muddly circle in the back garden where their cycle tracks went round and around.

I love spring. I love its renewal and promise. I love the green bulb buds spurting up from the ground and the small tight knit furls of browny-green on wet branches and bushes that look otherwise dead. I love the slightly deeper green that grass gets this time of year and the red glow of Salix Alba along the motorway cuttings with the sun behind it makin it glow.

And I love the idea of another year kicking off again. Yes, I love spring!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Newest Installment...

...of the Shameless Lions Collective Short Story is up. Scrolling is the name of the game, as you have to go right down to see Apprentice's addition (18) in which she skilfully paints a breathing space for the kids, and for the reader.

You know, I can see this story has legs - how will it finish up? And when :)

Fair play to Shameless!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Did I mention that Debi and Minx arranged a birthday surprise for me, back in December that included having to return to London in February?

I knew I liked the sound of it as soon as I saw the picture of the website - Pipe and Slippers. Now, doesn't that sound comfy? The whole idea is a very relaxed Sunday afternoon in Peckham at The Ivy House, on the 24th of February.

There is a story (I don't know how true!) that the Rolling Stones played there once, a long, long time ago.

So I get 10 minutes to wow the audience with poems from Kairos.

But the best news is that the Wordcarver is making a very special appearance on the same bill - live, all the way from the USA: J. T. Ahearn!

I may have to buy a new outfit for this!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wigtown Poetry Competition

There are only four days to go to the closing date for the Wigtown Poetry Competition. It's billed as Scotland's National Poetry competition and I remember hearing about it first from an OU colleague who lives on a small island off the coast of Scotland... have to go and look that one up, there's lots of small islands off Scotland's coast!

Anyway, you can enter online, so you can beat the postal rush. What better way to gear into spring?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Barbara Smith reading at the White House

Fair play to Dominic putting this ensemble of images together and the song that accompanies it is brought to you by Limerick musicians (see credits).

Now, isn't that a great start to Monday?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back To School

Yay! Kids are back since Monday, so some relative calm has descended on the house, allowing for some productivity... I'm up as far as six sonnets now... but have had to take a break - otherwise I was going to end up speaking and thinking in iambics forever! Arrgh! I will post one of them as soon as I've got my pruning shears out.

In the meantime, I'm off to Limerick today to read. I was there about this time last year for the launch of their journal Revival - that marked the start of all this travelling around Ireland for the sake of poetry - and I can't help marvelling at how far I've gone in a year.

I was just thinking the other day how much I managed to pack into 2007; the CW course, the finishing of the degree, getting onto the MA course, and not least travelling up and down to Kerry, working on edits for the book and getting Kairos 'out there.' I don't think I ever stopped to appreciate just how far I went!

This year looks equally exciting: more CW classes (it seems they like how we work); off to London in February to read at a literary festival; off to Rome to be a tourist (and do some sneaky research too); a Belfast dual reading/launch of Kairos with Enda Coyle-Greene and her collection Snow Negatives, in March and then there's all the material that I'll have from the MA.

Then there's the possibility of a trip to Cornwall and my best friend is coming home soon from her very long travels... all this from these marvellous blog connections.

It seems that those years of waiting around and kicking my heels (pointy ones at that) were just me getting ready... to take on the world! The future is pink.

2008 looks marvellous already, guys :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shh! Writer at Work!

I wish I could find one of those amusing red triangle road signs to accompany this post and to park outside the bedroom door - it's bedlam here as I try to work on one of the many projects I'm supposed to hand up in about three weeks.

There were some kids hanging out of light fittings (voluntarily, I add) a few moments ago - at least that's what it sounded like. And I also heard some crashing a while back. Good job I have some cover-all music going in the background, or I might hear more things I don't want to hear!

See, I had this idea about objects, a big mountain and, well, snow and cold and wind - a bit like it was outside earlier, only way colder - anyhow, I thought I'd throw in the extra handicap of writing all of these things into sonnets.

Oh yes. If you're going to do something, may as well make it real hard. Real hard. So why not set yourself a goal - say, ten sonnets? Five down, and five to go... by Sunday!

Oh - and make them rhyme as well - why not the whole kit and kiboodle, while you're at it... I know - I should really write them with handcuffed wrists behind my back whilst whistling Dixie... hasn't someone done that before...?