February Random Round Up

Can you believe that in a few days it’ll be March already? I’m still hoovering Christmas tree needles off my floor! A good friend of our family’s used to say that after a certain age you only get six months out of the year. I’m beginning to understand what he was getting at.

Anna Nicole Smith died ten years ago this month and there’s a great article on Buzzfeed looking at her life and legend: ‘The woman rose up, made powerful by beauty, and then found herself falling, her beauty fading, her power eroding, her ugliness as she tried to cope with this loss providing spectators with the reassuring feeling that such power is never really worth having, if losing it looks like this.’

Also on Buzzfeed, some handy diagrams for home decorating, including everything from the best indoor plants to optimal placing for rugs.

Speaking of decorating, I use Pinterest for interiors and home decor. My ‘library’ board grows by the day! Do you have tips for anyone amazing I should be following?

I’m really looking forward to the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel, starring Elizabeth Moss and Samira Wiley. It debuts in America on April 26th so hopefully it’ll be picked up here soon after.

I’m also very excited about Ryan Murphy’s newest series Feud starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as Hollywood legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis who famously hated each other. It premiers in the US on Sunday 5th March.

The trailer for Sofia Coppola’s newest film The Beguiled was released this month and it looks creepy and claustrophobic and brilliant. It has an amazing female cast and also stars Colin Farrell who just seems to get better with age. It hits our screens in June.

And lastly my dad’s show NewBliss is on in the John Field Room of the National Concert Hall on Tuesday. If you haven’t picked up a ticket yet, get on it!

Have a great weekend!

Drunk – Thundercat

He’s back! Thundercat (AKA Stephen Bruner), bass player, singer, producer, funkmeister extraordinaire, drops his fourth studio album Drunk this Friday. I’ve already pre-ordered it and you can be guaranteed I’ll be caning it in my gaff this weekend. The album includes two previously released tracks, ‘Them Changes’ (which I have played to death and still adore) and ‘Bus In These Streets‘.

Drunk promises collaborations with Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa as well as 80s favourites Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins who guest on ‘Show You The Way’ which was the first single. ‘Friend Zone’ is the most recent single, the one which is responsible for me walking around singing, ‘Because I’d rather play Mortal Kombat anyway-ay…’ for the last week!

Thundercat plays Vicar Street on March 27th. See you there!

NewBliss – National Concert Hall – 28th February 2017

The wonderful man that is Keith Donald (AKA father of The Multiverse) is performing his one-man show, NewBliss, in the John Field Room of the National Concert Hall on 28th February. Tickets are €20 (€18 concession) and you can book online at the National Concert Hall.

NewBliss tells the story of the highs and lows of Keith’s six-decade long career, half of which was spent under the shadow of alcoholism. It is an insight into the life of a musician, from pit orchestra gigs to pay the bills, all the way through to sold out stadium tours. The show is one man on stage with 900 lines of verse, 10 songs and 5 musical instruments.

He’s most well known as a founder member of Moving Hearts, but he’s played with the greats (I know, I was there for a lot of it!) from Van Morrison, Ronnie Drew and Christy Moore to Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims and Vusi Mahlahsela. NewBliss has already been performed abroad and in Ireland and the reception has been amazing. If you have any interest in Irish music, or the life of a working musician, or in seeing how someone manages to overcome an addiction that threatens to derail everything they’ve worked for, then put this in your diary!

A5_Portrait_(0.5 Bleed)

The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber

Peter Leigh was a homeless alcoholic, drug addict and thief until one night when he broke his ankles trying to escape from the police, ended up in hospital and met the love of his life, Beatrice, who was his nurse. Fast forward a few years and Peter is clean, married to Bea and together they run a Christian ministry. Peter is chosen by a corporation called USIC to be the minister for a colony on a planet called Oasis and after his training he leaves Bea in England, and travels to Florida to board the spaceship that will take him to Oasis.

Once there Peter is surprised to find that the usual difficulties faced by missionaries are absent; the Oasans are quiet and unthreatening, they already speak English and are eager to be instructed in the way of God. He spends periods of time living with them in their small village, alternating with time in the USIC base camp, a sterile brightly lit compound filled with hundreds of USIC employees all of whom seem to be good-natured, untroubled and reasonably boring. While there he can communicate with Bea through The Shoot (intergalactic email) and over time her messages become more and more terrifying.

She tells of tsunamis, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, the collapse of the banking system, sweeping blackouts, supermarkets running out of food: in short, your basic end-of-days scenario (although one that seems to be inching ever closer in reality which gives it a certain timely resonance). The reader begins to wonder if perhaps the Oasan colony has a different purpose for humans and what exactly that purpose might be.

This is territory that has been covered before in film and literature but in Faber’s hands it becomes compulsively readable. Like all good books it forces you to make that ‘just one more chapter’ promise with yourself which you inevitably break and before you know it it’s 4am. Although his writing is simple, at times even plain, he creates a world that the reader completely inhabits, so you end up occasionally coming to and finding that you are still in your own bedroom and not on a planet millions of miles away watching a minister and his alien parishioners build a church.

Faber has said this will be his last novel and in the three years since it was published he has kept to his word. His wife Eva was dying while he wrote it and I think his sadness permeates the story. At times it seems like an unbridgeable gulf is opening up between Peter and Bea, and their relationship is being torn apart by outside circumstance. Peter cannot explain what life on an alien planet is like, and Bea is dealing with Earth becoming an alien planet from what they knew before, systems breaking down and total chaos ensuing. It’s hard not to read it as a metaphor for Faber’s own relationship.

Anymore – Goldfrapp

 

Last week Goldfrapp debuted the first single from their upcoming album Silver Eye which will be released on March 31st. ‘Anymore’ is unmistakably Goldfrapp-ian: fuzzy four-to-the-floor synth-pop underneath signature breathy vocals. The sound is reminiscent of their second album Black Cherry and is bound to be a winner at gigs. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.

January Random Round Up

77785a3fce2caa0593b640e539abbf73
Oh Louise, you’re so so right!

January is almost over, thanks be to Jaysus, and because it’s been a dry one for me, I’ve been staying in and devouring books, films, articles, and everything else to keep my busy little brain occupied. Lots of book reviews to come in the following weeks, in addition to some film reviews (like everyone else with a beating heart I loved La La Land, but Jackie not so much).

My favourite actor has been nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Nocturnal Animals. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it.

I have also watched Episodes which is on Netflix. Starring Matt LeBlanc (‘how you doin’?) as an arrogant, lecherous and materialistic version of himself, Episodes tells the story of two English TV writers who go to LA to bring their hit show to American screens. It’s a winning performance from LeBlanc and I particularly love Kathleen Rose Perkins as the people pleasing Network executive.

We don’t get to see the Lincoln car commercials starring Matthew McConaughey on Irish television but this hilarious article will make you want to watch them and work out if the author’s theory is right.

Heywood Hill is a gorgeous and well renowned bookshop in London’s Mayfair. Vanity Fair explored how such a small bookshop is surviving in the digital age.

An interesting article by Emily Gould on Buzzfeed on the expectation that women should be nice in order to succeed in publishing: ‘In order to be successfully un-nice, an author would have to be so confident in her talent and skill that she was willing to risk alienating influential peers, editors, and agents — not to mention actual readers.’

Shit Rough Drafts reimagines the first drafts of famous books. They branched out with this post featuring a correspondence on nymphomaniac garden gnomes. Just read it and thank me later.

e1d28a8ea78a4cc89077a4b607591509
I very much relate to this Sarah Andersen comic

Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff

Is it possible to ever truly know a person? Is it possible to remain happy in a long-term relationship while being completely honest? These questions are at the heart of Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, a novel about Lotto and Mathilde Satterwhite and their relationship over the course of twenty-four years. The book is divided into two halves showing the two sides of the marriage: Fates, which is Lotto’s, and Furies, which is Mathilde’s.

Lotto (short for Lancelot) is an aspiring actor fresh off stage in his college production of Hamlet when he meets Mathilde at a party. His first words to her are ‘Marry me!’, to which she replies ‘Sure’ and two weeks later they elope. He is from a rich family, her background is shadowy and vague. His mother disapproves of the whirlwind marriage and so she cuts Lotto off, leaving him and Mathilde to struggle financially. Despite this and Lotto’s ongoing failure as an actor, they remain passionately in love, the golden couple everyone in their circle looks up to.

Eventually Lotto discovers a talent for writing and their fortunes change. Mathilde becomes a professional artist’s wife, keeping the world at bay and tending to his every need while he writes hit plays. Of course they have their flaws – Lotto can be needy, narcissistic, a man who can skate along the surface of things without questioning deeply; Mathilde can be cold, impatient, angry – but overall it seems that they are made for each other, that rare occurrence of a truly happy couple. But in the second half of the book, Mathilde’s story presents a different version of their marriage, one filled with secrets, deceptions and vengeance.

Fates and Furies has been compared to Gone Girl, another novel about differing perspectives on a marriage, but where Gone Girl was a plot-driven thriller, Fates and Furies is a far more literary novel with the focus firmly on Groff’s wonderful writing. There is no such thing as a perfect book and there were a couple of plot twists in the second half that stretched my credulity a little, but Groff’s lyricism and unique talent for description swept me past any obstacles.

The book was published in 2015 and garnered much praise, being shortlisted for the National Book Award and proclaimed by Amazon as their book of the year. Although it’s only January, I suspect that this book will definitely be one of my most recommended books of 2017.