Christmas Entertainment

After the nightmare that was 2016 I sincerely hope that Multiverse readers are looking forward to a relaxing and joyful festive season. In case you’re looking for something to while away your time over your holidays, here are some suggestions. I look forward to seeing you again in 2017. Squillions of love to you all.

The above video is a cute interpretation of a classic and one that is a tradition amongst me and my best friend’s family. It always makes me think of her.

A recent and hilarious Vanity Fair article on Trump Grill(e): ‘And like all exclusive bastions of haute cuisine, there is a sandwich board in front advertising two great prix fixe deals.’

I’ve become a huge fan of Taffy Brodesser-Akner‘s writing and this article on sugar dating (published last year in GQ) is just brilliant: ‘A thing you should know is that there are very few people to root for in this story.’

A great Harper’s article on the 80s literary Brat Pack: Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Donna Tartt, et al. ‘One member would go on to win a Pulitzer; one would become better known for controversy than fiction; another would exemplify the excessive highs and very public lows of the decade; and another would slowly fade from view.’

I’ve read so many books this year and as always I try to read a mix of recent and classic fiction. Some were terrible, some were superlative and a lot of them aren’t even worth talking about. Here are a few of the books I’ve really liked but not gotten around to reviewing in depth, (if you click on the links they’ll bring you to reviews of the work in question): Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig, Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sarah Baume, Devoted Ladies by Molly Keane, The Eden Express by Mark Vonnegut, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with this Thundercat song for months, even though it was released in 2015. The Prince influences and the 70s disco vibe combined with the funk bass-line all coalesce into an infectious groove.

Anyone browsing Netflix should put White Girl (Kids for Millenials), Black Mirror (dystopian tech nightmare), The Crown (sumptuous period drama), Love (Freaks and Geeks all grown up), and Daft Punk Unchained (documentary about the electro legends) on their list.

Go Fug Yourself is one of the websites I have visited daily for many years now. This year I particularly loved their AbFabtrospective and their SWINTON retrospective (Tilda being one of my sartorial heroines).

Lose yourself browsing the archives of Hooked on Houses, a website devoted to gorgeous homes, from celebrity abodes to houses featured in movies and random real-estate inspiration.

And now it’s time for my sister’s family’s favourite Christmas song, Nobel prize winner Bob Dylan singing a Pogues-esque polka version of a 60s classic. It’s barking and brilliant! Enjoy!

Christmas Book Ideas

Many of you may be panicking that there’s only a few shopping days left, but you can always head into your local bookshop and buy everyone you know a perfect present in the form of reading material. At least that’s my philosophy. I have done a few of these gift guides before in 2012, and 2010, and 2009.  You may find ideas there but here are some new ones just in case.

For the little ones

I’ve become an aunt in the last few years and so I have been discovering children’s books all over again. I love Andrea Beaty’s Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist, both of which provide a nice antidote to the princessy ‘happily ever after’ nonsense. I also loved The Fox and the Star, a magical book by Coralie Bickford-Smith. And if you want something Irish, A Dublin Fairytale by Nicola Colton features well-known landmarks in gorgeous illustration.

For the teenager

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill has received a huge amount of press since it was published in 2015. It even generated a documentary on sexual consent presented by Louise herself and broadcast this year on RTE. It’s a book that teenagers of all sexes need to read.

For the bookworm

I wholeheartedly recommend Sinead Gleeson’s The Glass Shore which I reviewed on the blog a while ago. I also love The Winter Papers, a beautifully produced anthology of the arts in Ireland, volume two of which was published in October this year. Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones has won the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize and the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year 2016 and has been lauded by everyone I know who has read it (unfortunately I have yet to get to it, but it’s on my list).

For the music lover

Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run gives a real insight into the icon including his bouts with depression and the catharsis he finds in his legendary live performances. Leonard Cohen’s volumes of poetry are amazing reading (I have this one) and a great gift for a grieving fan. And Sylvia Patterson’s I’m Not With The Band is a bawdy no-holds-barred memoir from a music journalist who started her career with Smash Hits.

For the oenophile

Hugh Johnson’s On Wine: Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling is a compilation from the foremost writer on the subject, and A Hedonist in the Cellar by Jay McInerney is another great read from one of America’s most well-known novelists.

For the creative person

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech in 2012 for The University of the Arts in Philadelphia was published in 2014 as a cute collectible hardback entitled Make Good Art. I was given a copy of it by my sister for my birthday a few years ago and I’d recommend it as a stocking-filler for any artist who needs a little affirmation.

And finally…

If you need any other recommendations, please feel free to ask in the comments. (I offered a recommendation service before and many people emailed me so if you’d rather do that my email address is here.)  For any subject other than sport, I am at your service!

Even jazz musicians do Christmas tunes

I have posted before about some of my favourite Christmas songs, from the sublime to the ridiculous. As well as the classics, my seasonal playlist includes some jazz be-bop tunes that might not be on your radar, so here are three of my favourites in case you feel like expanding your Christmas playlist. Enjoy!

Firstly Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong doing ‘Jingle Bells’:

 

 

Secondly, Bill Evans playing ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’:

 

 

And lastly, Charlie Parker playing ‘White Christmas’:

 

 

A Multiverse Bumper Christmas

The Multiverse wishes you all a very merry Christmas! It’s the time for chilling out, sleeping, reading, watching, partying, and debaucherous fun. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a well-deserved rest. Here’s some of what I’ll be doing…

I’ll be tackling some of the current pile by my bed. John Niven’s The Second Coming is first on my list. Niven is one of my favourite literary discoveries of 2014; I read Straight White Male in its entirety on the flight home from New York and it made me laugh more than any novel in years.

Also in the pile is Rory O’Neill’s autobiography Panti: Woman in the Making. Panti was one of 2014’s Irish stars. Her speech, ‘Panti’s Noble Call’, in The Abbey Theatre was one of the most powerful things I’ve heard this year, and was described by Fintan O’Toole as ‘the most eloquent Irish speech since Daniel O’Connell was in his prime.’ I couldn’t agree more.

I’m very much looking forward to delving into the best Longform pieces of 2014. For those of you who don’t know the site, Longform provides links to classic and current essays, articles and interviews that are over 2,000 words. It’s one of my weekly reads and well worth checking out.

These inspiring graduation speeches by famous women will provide some food for thought.

I’ll mostly be wearing these new trousers and keeping an eye on this sale.

I’m going to take the time to watch some of 2014’s lauded documentaries and feature films that I haven’t yet seen. Despite all my best intentions I never got to see Interstellar so that’s got to be sorted out. I’m really intrigued by this documentary about one of my favourite songwriters:

 

 

And I can’t wait to see American Sniper. I know it’s a movie that panders to America’s hero complex but it still looks like a great piece of cinema.

 

 

My grandmother was a big fan of Nat King Cole and she always played his albums at Christmas. ‘Stardust’ is one of my favourite songs of his.

 

 

While we’re at it, this Christmas song always puts me in a good mood.

 

 

And if this carol doesn’t bring on the Christmas magic, I’ve lost all hope for you.

 

 

My Christmas tree has become rather crispy and droopy so I won’t disturb you with a photograph of it. Instead I’ll disturb you with a photo from last year which I entitled ‘Mad Santa’! Merry Christmas!

 

Happy Holidays!

My lil Christmas tree
My lil Christmas tree

The last couple of weeks have been filled with many gigs and so posting here has been a wee bit slow. I’ll be taking a break over the holiday season, putting the finishing touches to my book which will be ready for agents in January, and getting a lot of rest!

To all the Multiverse readers, have a wonderful Christmas and a great 2014. I’ll see you back here in January but in the meantime here are some links to keep you occupied if you have a spare moment/are bored/need time out from your family before you lose it.

1. If you’ve ever wanted a drag queen make-up tutorial (No? Just me?) I have sourced it. Watch Raven from Season Two of Rupaul’s Drag Race transform club kid legend James St. James into a fierce queen.

 

2. Sometimes when work isn’t going as well as one had hoped, it’s encouraging to know that even the most successful writers can often feel like failures!

3. The Toast did a very funny article on popular posters from the past and what they say about you now. I had the Reservoir Dogs poster on my wall for years which apparently means, “You refer to everyone that you have ever dated as ‘crazy’ without exception.”

4. Katy and Katie are two girls who have taken it upon themselves to test out various pieces of advice found on the Intenet with varying results. Their tagline is, “Dumb enough to try anything. Smart enough to warn against it.” The videos on their site are very funny and it’s well worth checking out. Start with the DIY GOOP sweatshirt which you can watch on their Tumblr or on their Youtube channel.

5. Anyone who has ever worked in marketing or dealt with an ad agency will get a HUGE laugh out of these Santa Brand Guidelines. “Santa winds infinite possibilities around finite limitations to invoke the essence of invention and odour of nostalgia…”

6. Interesting and informative Salon article for the Spicolis amongst us.

7. Being a DJ means sometimes you get bizarre requests, and of course someone has started a blog on this very subject called “No Breasts, No Requests” which sounds sexist but isn’t. The blog owner explains: “No Breasts, No Requests isn’t my policy as a dj, but a quote from one of the first signs I found and posted.” (I really wish he’d change the name.) Some classics on the site such as this one!

8. My current favourite fashion blog is Atlantic Pacific by Blair Eadie Bee, a visual merchandiser living in New York. Her style is different from my own – much more chic and polished – but I think she’s a fashion icon in the making.

9. As I’ve said before, I listen to a lot of jazz at home as I crave different music to the stuff I play when I’m working. Anita O’Day is one of my favourite jazz singers and this song isn’t strictly speaking a Christmas song but I think it was used in a holiday ad (M&S?) a few years ago. Aaaanyway, her voice is sublime so listen and let it thrill you!

10. I’ve written before about the entertainment to be found in misheard lyrics. Here’s a stomach-achingly hysterical animated video for “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. “SALSA COOKIES!!!”

 

11. I often love the villains in TV shows (e.g. Karen in Will and Grace. Seriously. Watch that link. She’s awesome!) and Cartman is one of my favourites. Watch his profanity get rewarded with electric shocks in this seasonal South Park clip.

 

12. This footage of Earth from the International Space Station is a wondrous and humbling look at our planet. The cinematography in Gravity may have been amazing, but the real thing is a hundred times more beautiful.

The Multiverse offers a book recommendations service for your Christmas pressies!

I have always given books to friends and family at Christmas, and going to Hodges Figgis to do my Christmas book buy is a pleasure. I generally have an idea of the books I’m going to get for people – things that have occurred to me throughout the year – and I’m always excited to introduce someone to a book they’ll love. Plus supporting Irish businesses and Irish writers is obviously a cause close to my heart. Perhaps you’re also thinking of including some books in your present shopping. Maybe you already know exactly what you’re going to buy but on the off-chance you don’t, I have a couple of ideas.

I often review books on the site and if you’re looking for inspiration you could trawl through the archives and see what you find. But that’s a mammoth task and you have better things to do, I’m sure. You could also look over the book gift guides I posted last year, and in 2011 and 2009.

Or here’s another idea…

You could leave a comment below, or email me (address here), and ask me for specific recommendations. Perhaps your mother loved Maeve Binchy’s books and would like something similar to get stuck into. Or maybe your Dad doesn’t really read much (I think everyone likes to read; they just have to find the right book) but he loves restoring old cars, Irish history and cats (I’ll find something!). Or maybe you’ve fallen in love this year and you’d like to give your sweetheart a beautiful book (and of course, you’ll write a special note on the inside cover. This is partly why Kindles will never replace actual books.). Whoever the person, whatever your dilemma, I’ll do my best to sort it out.

This little kid is obviously not on my wavelength.

All I Really Want For Christmas

Christmas starts in my house this weekend as I’m getting my tree tomorrow and decorating my lil house. So to get us all in the mood here’s a lovely tune from Family Guy. (And to be clear, I’m slightly annoyed with Seth McFarland regarding the whole Brian episode but hopefully he’s coming back, or it will ruin Family Guy for me forever!) Enjoy!