Regular readers know about my interest in the Great Recession. I’ve watched a lot of documentaries and films about the subject to educate myself (some archived posts here and here) and for entertainment too. When I saw the trailer for The Big Short I got very excited! The film is a true story about some very astute people who foresaw that the bubble was going to burst and who decided to bet on it, therefore becoming some of the few people in the world who actually made money out of the recession.

The film has a stellar cast: Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Marisa Tomei. It’s directed by Adam McKay and is based on the bestselling 2010 book of the same name. The Big Short is released in the USA next month and I really hope it’s on the way here very soon after that!


Having spent time in Hodges Figgis adding to The Pile on Saturday afternoon, I demolished an entire book yesterday morning, while gulping coffee and looking out at the cold November rain (cue fiddly guitar solo from Slash).

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis was published in April of this year and has been nominated for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize in Canada which is awarded tomorrow. It starts with the gods (not dogs) Hermes and Apollo getting sloshed in a pub in Toronto and arguing the merits of human consciousness, with Apollo saying, ‘animals would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they had human intelligence.’ They decide to place a bet, with the loser giving the winner one full earth year’s servitude, and grant human intelligence to a group of animals. On leaving the bar, they happen upon a vet’s surgery where there are fifteen dogs staying overnight, and so the dogs become the unwitting subjects of the gods’ experiment.

The ‘Dramatis Canes’ are a motley group of pure-breds and mongrels, from a teacup Poodle to a Neopolitan Mastiff, and although they would not usually socialise with each other, they must form a pack for survival. Three dogs don’t make it past the first night (including Agatha, an elderly Labradoodle who was at the clinic to be put down, and who cannot countenance a world without her mistress, so she simply refuses to leave) but the rest form an uneasy alliance, living in the local park and scavenging for food. Some dogs struggle with their newfound intelligence, hating the way it has removed them from their natural canine instincts, whereas others revel in the complexity of their thoughts and their ability to create new language.

Alexis does a wonderful job of describing the world from a dog’s point of view, especially smells and food, two of the most important components of any dog’s life. Bird shit is ‘a kind of hard salad sautéed in goose fat’ and cat food smells like ‘fish and cinders’. There is also much discussion of dominance, specifically mounting. One very funny passage describes Benjy the Beagle’s confusion when his temporary owners Randy and Clare engage in S&M or ‘sessions that smelled of cow’ where Clare assumes dominance unlike the rest of the time when Randy is clearly in control.

Given that I am a huge dog lover (I say hello to them in the street) I found this book to be charming and funny, and also very sad when the individual dogs’ demises are depicted. Although the book is slim (only 159 pages and so under two hours’ reading in my world) it is still packed with much to think about and is beautifully written. It’s highly recommended by me and a must-buy for any dog lover in your life.

My favourite Stewie and Brian frame taken from the episode 'Brian's Play'

One of my favourite Stewie and Brian frames taken from the episode ‘Brian’s Play’

Not being a morning person (or even an afternoon person) I like to start my day slowly: a pot of coffee and an episode of something before I’m able to communicate is the norm. I usually go for a classic sitcom, like Frasier or The Golden Girls, because they’re short and because starting the day with a smile is a good thing. Over the last couple of weeks I caught up on the latest season of Family Guy and then ended up rewatching my favourite episodes.

I adore the ‘Road To…’ episodes of Family Guy starring Brian and Stewie which are a parody of the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Road To… classic comedy films. Every detail is brilliantly executed from the theme music (all big band horns and bluster) to the individual scenes in the opening credits (and if anyone ever wanted to buy me an art print, one of the original frames from the opening credits of any of these episodes would be treasured forever!).

For those of you who haven’t seen Family Guy (really?!), Brian is a talking anthropomorphic dog who is also a frustrated writer and alcoholic. Most of the time he comes across as jaded and bitter, but he’s prone to endearing dog-like behaviour such as wagging his tail when someone pays him a compliment. Stewie is the perpetual baby (fourteen seasons later and he’s still a toddler) who is hellbent on violence towards his mother and also pathetically dependent on her. He’s almost sociopathic and exceptionally intelligent, with an inexplicable English accent, a plethora of homemade weapons at his disposal and a penchant for time travel.

Stewie and Brian band together, finding in each other kindred spirits despite their differences. Stewie’s speech to Brian in the episode ‘Brian and Stewie’ confessing how he really feels about him is one of the best descriptions of friendship I’ve ever heard: ‘You’re the only one who makes my life bearable…I love you as one loves another person whom one can’t simply cannot do without…You give my life purpose and maybe that’s enough because that’s just about the greatest gift one friend can give another.’

Here are some of my favourite Brian and Stewie moments. Enjoy!

I have already blogged about my Halloween DJ playlist but one of the creepiest tunes I’ve ever heard is not a tune anyone is ever going to play at a Halloween gig in Whelan’s! It comes from jazz legend Charles Mingus, a double-bass player, composer and bandleader who combined elements of be-bop, gospel and blues to create an influential sound.

The track is called ‘Don’t Be Afraid, The Clown’s Afraid Too’ and it comes from the album Let My Children Hear Music. The beginning of the track contains weird soundtrack effects, discords and a wailing trumpet and then heads into more familiar swinging big band territory before giving in a chaotic horn section that sometimes reprises a vaudevillian circus theme and then descends into madness. It’s both disquieting and hilarious.

Of course there’s no video for the track as it was released in 1972 but here’s the original tune and if you’re creative you can make your own visuals to accompany it!

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread.

Scarfolk Council is a blog by writer and designer Richard Littler that has developed a cult following since its debut in early 2013 and now has grown so much that it was voted the UK’s funniest blog of 2015 and a book, Discovering Scarfolk, is available on Amazon. Part satire, part social commentary, and with an hilarious yet unsettling occult tone, the blog depicts life in a fictional English town which is perpetually stuck in the 1970s. The blog releases artefacts from the town: books, leaflets, advertising materials, public information posters, and the like. I particularly love a recent and very apt post where Scarfolk Council welcomes refugees.

Some of my favourites below. Check out the site for further laughs.






I’ve been on a documentary binge recently, devouring anything that has been recommended to me or that I’ve come across on Netflix. Sometimes you really have to trawl through a lot of random 80s movies and B list thrillers to find anything worthwhile on Netflix but I can still usually justify the seven quid a month.

Iris Apfel is a ninety-three year old reknowned fashionista living in New York City who was the subject of a documentary released in 2014 called Iris, directed by Albert Maysles and currently available on Netflix. Apfel ran a business called Old World Weavers with her husband Carl (who died in August of this year aged almost 101, and was married to Iris for sixty-seven years) and they travelled the world sourcing fabrics for their high-society clients. They even worked with the White House under nine different Presidents. Iris has retired but in her later years has become a global fashion icon due to a 2005 exhibition of her clothing at the Costume Institute, and the press attention that followed. Albert Maysles, famed director of Grey Gardens, decided to make a documentary about her and in fact this was one of the last films he made before his death from cancer in March of this year.

Iris is irrepressible, droll, full of energy despite her advancing years and incredibly creative when it comes to fashion and aesthetics. This is a great watch.

Dior and I is a documentary about Raf Simons’ first couture collection as head designer for Dior, a position he undertook in 2012 after the very public dismissal of John Galliano. Simons’ is a Belgian designer who has his roots in furniture design and has in fact never studied fashion formally. He came to the Dior atelier without a word of French and without the technical skills that would usually characterise a couturier. The documentary shows the process in the run up to his first show, Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2012, which was very well received by the fashion press and buyers and included a fantastical runway space with walls of flowers.

My favourite parts of the documentary were the behind-the-scenes look at the atelier and the women who have worked there for decades. Their skill and painstaking attention to detail is astonishing and shows exactly why the clothes command the astronomical prices they are famous for.

And lastly there’s a documentary available on Youtube which was first shown on Channel 4 called McQueen and I, an exploration of Alexander McQueen’s work and his association with stylist Isabella Blow. At just over an hour long, the documentary is not an in-depth look at either but it does contain interesting archive footage of McQueen’s shows which were more like performance art than mainstream fashion events, and it also contains some interview material with Detmar Blow, Isabella’s husband, who explains the reasons that lead to her suicide in 2007. McQueen followed in 2010, apparently devastated after the death of his mother, although it has recently come to light that he also suffered from childhood sexual abuse and this may have contributed to his drug use, unhappiness and eventual suicide. It’s a short but interesting documentary and well worth a watch.

Love & Mercy, released in 2014, depicts the life of Brian Wilson, best known as a founding member of the Beach Boys, but now recognised as a musical icon in his own right. It was released in 2014, and stars Paul Dano and John Cusack as the younger and older Wilsons respectively, and includes Elizabeth Banks as Wilson’s second wife, Melinda Ledbetter, and Paul Giamatti as Dr. Eugene Landy in the supporting cast.

The movie skips over Wilson’s childhood, during which he endured trauma and violence at the hands of his abusive father, and instead the opening credits play over scenes showing Wilson’s early success with the Beach Boys, with hits such as ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘Fun Fun Fun’. On first listen they are happy pop songs, emblematic of the sun-drenched Californian teenage lifestyle, but on dissection you can hear how innovative the layered harmonies and complex arrangements are.

Wilson found the life of the touring chart-topping musician difficult and he suggested to the band that he stay at home and focus on songwriting. The other members reluctantly agreed so while they were on tour Wilson began working on what would become Pet Sounds. The seasoned session musicians who worked with him on the original recordings were blown away by his inventiveness, his vision and boundless enthusiasm, but the rest of the Beach Boys, especially Mike Love, hated the record, thinking the lyrics were too dark. The fans agreed and it was the worst selling record of the Beach Boys’ career at that point, but the critics lauded it and for once they were right; Pet Sounds is now recognised as one of the landmark albums of the sixties and a work of genius.

Wilson became addicted to drugs and alcohol, perhaps in an attempt to self-medicate the mental illness which has dogged him throughout his life. He has suffered many nervous breakdowns and been diagnosed as suffering from both bi-polar and schizoaffective disorders, with auditory hallucinations. These episodes are brilliantly depicted in the film, in particular a dinner party scene where a stressed and fragile Brian is overwhelmed by the ambient sounds of cutlery knocking against plates.

Love & Mercy alternates between scenes of the young Brian at the height of his success and the older Brian, who was controlled, manipulated and over-medicated by Doctor Eugene Landy, a immoral psychologist who was bleeding Brian dry financially. Melinda Ledbetter, Brian’s second wife (played by Elizabeth Banks) meets Brian during this period and is mainly responsible for freeing him from Landy’s malign influence. (Landy was later discredited and had his license revoked based on his treatment of Wilson.) I read Wouldn’t It Be Nice: My Own Story which was co-authored by Landy and has since been disowned by Wilson. It certainly paints Landy in a favourable light and given the subsequent revelations is not to be taken seriously.

Dano and Cusack are both wonderful in the dual lead roles, and their versions of Wilson are sympathetic and moving. But the stand-out for me was Elizabeth Banks whose portrayal of Ledbetter is understated and empathetic. It’s a less showy role but she gives it huge depth.

Being asked to contribute the soundtrack for a biopic about a musical genius must have been both exciting and vaguely terrifying, but Atticus Ross hits it out of the park. He has worked with Trent Reznor on The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on electronic influenced scores. In Love & Mercy he creates a more traditional orchestral score, but with cacophonous, distorted and disorientating elements which serve to convey Brian’s mental state.

People often talk about the fine line between genius and madness, which is an idea I don’t believe in as it glamorises mental illness and it also disenfranchises those who suffer but who are not creatively gifted. However I have often wondered why mental illness has persisted throughout human history despite natural selection. I think perhaps one of the many reasons is that some people who are psychiatrically atypical (perhaps as a result of autism, schizoprenia, bi-polar, or depression) can create beauty in our world, they can elevate ordinary life into something magical. If anyone is an example of this it is Brian Wilson and this film is a masterful tribute to one of the greatest popular composers of the last century.

Running From Crazy is a documentary directed by Barbara Kopple about the Hemingway family, specifically regarding mental illness throughout the generations. Ernest Hemingway is the most well known member of the family, but you may also be familiar with his granddaughters, actresses Mariel (on whom the documentary is mostly centred) and Margaux, and also Dree Hemingway, Mariel’s eldest daughter who is a successful model and actress.

Mariel compares the Hemingways to the Kennedys, another great American family that were seen to suffer from a ‘curse’. Depression seems to have been the illness that has dogged the Hemingways for generations, and it has manifested as seven suicides (Ernest, his father, sister and brother were four of them), and also sexual abuse, alcoholism, ruthless competitiveness and familial estrangement.

I first blogged about this documentary in 2013. Obviously I have an interest in the subject matter as I have Major Depressive Disorder and, like the Hemingways, it is an illness that reaches back through generations in my family.

Running From Crazy was described by the Guardian reviewer at Sundance as ‘one of the bleakest snapshots of the human soul’. It is certainly very sad in parts but it is refreshing to see a documentary about an artist suffering from depression that doesn’t glamorise the illness or somehow make it the rarified domain of the creatively gifted.

Mariel also lifts the film and makes it very watchable. She’s immensely likeable, level-headed, warm and wise, while still honestly admitting to her own failings. In fact, Margaux, Mariel and Ernest all possess a joie de vivre, a sunniness that shines from them, a charisma that is instantly appealing. Their drive to celebrate the best in life is perhaps the flip side of their depression.

These days Mariel has dedicated her life to suicide prevention and awareness of mental health issues. The last scenes in the film take place at a suicide prevention event in New York, with family members of suicide victims present. Mariel speaks beautifully, with sincere empathy and compassion, and she is a wonderful ambassador for this cause. Running From Crazy is at times a tough film to watch but also a truthful and inspiring portrait of an iconic American family.


While We’re Young is comedy film released last year written and directed by Noah Baumbach. I love Baumbach’s work, which includes The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Squid and The Whale and Frances Ha amongst others, and While We’re Young is another great addition to his impressive filmography.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play Josh and Cornelia Schrebnick, a couple in their forties living in New York. Josh is a documentary filmmaker who has been working on the same film for eight years, and he also supports himself by lecturing on film studies. Cornelia is the daughter of a renowned filmmaker and she works as his assistant. Although they seem like a happy couple, they’re both questioning their relationship, having not had children like many of their friends, and they’re looking around for some sort of meaning in life. They have oodles of freedom and could move to Paris in an instant but like many people they’re stuck in the safety of a rut. As Josh says, ‘perhaps the important thing is not what we do with our freedom but that we have it’. (Sure, Josh, that’s totally the point.)

After teaching a class one day Josh is approached by Jamie and Darby Massey (played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), a young couple in their twenties who profess to admire Josh’s first film and who invite him and Cornelia out for dinner. This is the start of an unlikely friendship between the two couples. Josh and Cornelia are inspired by Jamie and Darby’s freewheeling approach to life, their enthusiasm and creativity, and their hipster reverence for low-fi, low-tech living. Cornelia remarks, ‘It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.’

Josh and Cornelia start to emulate them which leads to several cringe-worthy but funny scenes: Cornelia flailing in hip-hop classes with Darby, Josh buying a fixed-gear bike which he struggles to cycle and revamping his wardrobe to include hats and brogues, and all four of them attending an ayahuasca ceremony. But just when you think the movie is a light-comedy meditation on mid-life crisis, a more sinister plot begins to emerge, which suggests that Jamie has had an ulterior motive in getting to know Josh all along.

I thoroughly enjoyed While We’re Young. All four lead performances generated great chemistry onscreen, and in particular Driver is excellent as the faux-sincere, ambitious, and self-conciously cool Jamie. The script is eccentric and funny in a typically Baumbach-ian way, and even the score, composed by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, is well worth a listen.

If you haven’t seen it, stick this one on your viewing list for the weekend!

I squealed a bit when I found out that Hot 8 Brass Band are playing in The Sugar Club on October 25th. For those who haven’t heard of them, they’re a brass band formed in 1995 and based in New Orleans. They play a mix of marching music, hip-hop and R&B in a traditional New Orleans style. The band came to wider prominence when they were featured in Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. They’ve gigged all over the world and in fact played in Ireland on Paddy’s Day 2013.

For a taste of what you expect, here they are doing one of my favourite tracks. I’d say the gig will be a party and a half! You can buy tickets here.

The Multiverse

is a blog from an Irish writer and DJ which takes in a wide range of subject matter as follows: Monday’s blogs are related to literature and writing; Tuesday is fashion, style and beauty; Wednesday is music; Thursday is TV and cinema; and Friday is a miscellany.

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A book splurge in Hodges Figgis today. Particularly excited about Beatlebone. #kevinbarry #hodgesfiggis #marlonjames #davidlodge #shirleyjackson #beatlebone DJing in a winter wonderland tonight for the launch of Tesco's Christmas range. The yummy smells are making me very hungry! #tesco #tescoireland #Christmas #Dublin #DJlife DJing tonight and tomorrow for Harvey Nichols @dundrumtc for their Christmas Shopping Event, from 6-10. Come say hi and have some Prosecco!! #harveynichols #dundrum #DJlife My sister and her daughter in matching jeans and Cons in my house today.#motheranddaughter #Converse #chucktaylors #bigandlittle DJing this evening in Hugo Boss in @dundrumtc for 'Shop and Rock'. Discounts galore and extra late opening. Come say hi! #hugoboss #shopandrock #Dublin #dundrum 'Hey Puddin! ' #harleyquinn #suicidesquad #Dublin #halloween #costume


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