Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oíche Shamhna

(Pronounced ee-hah how-nah. Yeah, I know. With Irish you think up a pronunciation that is as far as possible from the spelling and you'll be close.) This night gets two blogs as it is such an important one in the Celtic calendar, see Book Blog. I've put the cats in the cattery - so no one will throw them on a bonfire; yes, I'm afraid that happens every year, the dark horrible side of the Irish- , the scary mannequin is in the porch holding bowls of sweets and pennies for hand-outs, and all the candles are lit. Finn is off to a fancy dress disco and I am off to a fancy dress céilí. She's going as someone who just fell out of bed (with more clothes on than others, I might add!) and I am going in my sparkly Indian dress that looks like something from Faerie. Will post a pic of it on Book Blog tomorrow as I wore it to launch The Chronicles of Faerie blue compendium in Toronto on Hallowe'en a few years back. Have a great night and don't eat anything without a wrapper (the dark horrible side of North Americans) or you'll wind up like this pumpkin!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Irish Roads

I am telling you, Irish roads are like the staircases at Hogwarts. Every time you go out your door everything has changed, changed utterly. The lay-out is different, there are new roundabouts, and you end up shooting past places you intended to visit. In fact, all of Ireland is under construction. What Brendan Behan once said about Toronto is now applicable to his own home, i.e. "it'll be great when it's finished." But, alas, it may not be great at all. It may be ruined, ruined utterly.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Last Straw

I can’t believe Jack Straw – Labour Leader of the British House of Commons – asks Muslim women who visit his Lancashire clinics not to wear their veils. The bloody cheek! How dare he tell any woman what she should wear to his office? Does he ask Catholic nuns to remove their veils? Has he issued a dress code for men? I find more than sinister this recent European trend (mainly French and English) against religious schools and icons, stressing the ideal of a "secular society." The Western ideal is not a secular society, it is a liberal society which separates church and state while also tolerating and even celebrating cultural, racial, and religious differences. The alternative is a Soviet-style atheistic society where religion and all signs of religion are banned and everyone looks like clones. It didn’t work there, it won’t work here. I’m so glad I belong to two countries that don’t tout this kind of rubbish: Canada, which promotes multi-culturalism, and Ireland, which says "ah sure, whatever you’re havin’ yourself."

Prayers on the Road

Whenever I see poor dead animals on the road, I put my hand over my heart and say a little prayer to wish them well on their journey to the other side. I have no time for the nonsensical idea that animals do not have souls. Everything in creation is ensouled. Sometimes, of course, as I drive past I discover I have just prayed for a soggy T-shirt. But that's okay. Then the universe and I have laugh. (Though one must add a pox on litterbugs.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Librarians

When I was at the giant American Library Association conference in New Orleans this summer, I met some amazing librarians involved in some amazing programmes. Here's one of them: www.ci.austin.tx.us/library/2ndchance.htm. It's a collaboration between the Austin City library and the Gardner-Betts Juvenile Justice Center. This is a short-term detention centre for young people between the ages of 10-17. The library introduces them to books in the hopes of encouraging a lifelong reading habit. "For many of the children, this is the first time they have ever read a book outside of a school assignment." Life is hard enough on this planet; imagine what it's like for these kids starting out on the wrong foot before they even get very far down the road. Who knows what book might reach out to them? To give them strength? To give them hope?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chilling Out

This week was defrag time after the stress of the deadline. Slept a lot and read Widdershins by Charles de Lint; loved every bit of it, especially the Native cousins. My honey was away and he sent me some music. Sigur Rós, an amazing Icelandic group whose music is fey, wyrd, and wintry of soul. Have a look at them on www.sigur-ros.com. There is a magical video of a song "Glósóli" from their album Takk, but you can view it better on YouTube. It's a version of the fairy tale of the Pied Piper. My daughter says the little one at the end makes it, but I don't think so. Stunning images, exquisite music. The CD I have is untitled. They are truly beautiful and strange. Tried to post an image of the album cover, but blogger is not responding tonight.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dublin City University

Speaking of my webmaster. Here's another site that he's involved with. If you want to see what the bright new things in Dublin City are doing, check it out. www.mediaproductionsociety.com. It's just recently up and running.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Blog

Yes, my webmaster has pointed out to me (being the highly efficient person and college student that he is) that this blog is exactly one year old today. We've come a long way from ranting on about Hex, October 17, 2005. Or maybe not. Well, at least I learned how to post pics! And YES the final edit of The Light-Bearer's Daughter (third book in The Chronicles of Faerie) was completed yesterday evening. HURRAY HURRAY HURRAY. I am a free woman until the galley proofs arrive. That means I can have a life for a while and get back to dancing, hiking, painting my bathroom, shopping for November trip, reading books, meeting friends, doing emails, making phone calls, and other general having-a-life things.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Leonard is The Man

Drove up to County Meath yesterday for library visits in Dunshauglin and Dunboyne. (Had 100 kids for the latter. There is always that moment when I look over the sea of faces and think, "oh God, what if I bore them senseless?" No sweat. We had a great time. I love kids and I love teenagers. And love is the greatest force you can direct at anybody, according to Albert Schweitzer and/or Gabriel Marquez, depending on your source.) ANYWAY, driving up there I listened to Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man and Future. Omigod, that Canuck is not only good, he is great. And what a sexy bugger and at his age too. I think he was in his 50s or 60s when he wrote and recorded those seriously hot songs. And he was obviously in love and lust at the time, more power to him. Before his sojourn in the Zen monastery. (Not surprising, that leap from sexuality to spirituality, both being life-affirming yokes.) Apparently there is a brilliant newish documentary on him, but half of it is U2 blathering on about him. My God. Like getting Dan Brown to talk about Samuel Beckett. I mean, who gives a flying f'k what U2 thinks? (Now let me tell you how I really feel about it.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Blatherumskite Site

Meant to blog this hilarious Irish site www.blather.net - "Talking shite since 1997" - and forgot; but was reminded when one of the writers contacted me. They are really bloody funny. I haven't figured out the archaeological connection yet (are they students? professors? grave robbers?) but expect I shall after I delve (ahem) some more. Do have a look and a laugh.

Happy Thanksgiving!

All you Canucks. Did we have turkey? Nope. But that's because we are vegetarians.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Arty Family

Here's the website of one of my artist sisters, Lorraine (who is also a published poet) and her sculptor husband, James: www.lorjames.com. Art doesn't run in our family, it gallops. My dad was a jazz musician (cut a few albums with the Warren Peace Trio --yeah, that was the band leader's name!) and I have five, yes count them, five sisters who are visual artists. One, Georgina Black, is self-taught but has won prizes, and the other four, Patricia, Yvonne, Lorraine, and Deirdre are all graduates of various art colleges and exhibit professionally. Yvonne Whelan and Deirdre Whelan are based in Toronto while Patricia Burnes and Lorraine Whelan are based in Ireland. There's got to be gene, eh?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jazzy Trad

I've been asked to recommend music that I love. Here's my latest fave. Mike McGoldrick is an incredible and eclectic musician (uillean pipes and various flutes) but you have got to hear him on the wooden flute playing trad music like it's never been played before. "James Brown's March" is one stunning Irish-trad-jazz groove that just has to be heard! (Hey, my dad was a jazz musician. I can say 'groove.') He's got some gorgeous voices on the album too, Karen Matheson and Karan Casey, singing in Irish and English. This is a fantastic CD. I'm listening to it right now and I am transported.
Here's the info: www.verticalrecords.co.uk.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Me vs Eircom & Perlico

Yahoo, I just successfully set up my modem and I am now surfing at Broadband speed. We have the technology. Meanwhile, however, I've recently discovered that if you change from Eircom to Perlico for cheaper service you lose the right to use the Irish International Operator, but not only that, you can't access Canada Direct to make collect phone calls! No one told me this, of course, not Eircom or Perlico. Okay, I understand that the Irish Operator belongs to Eircom so therefore they can cut you off (but why not just charge?) but Canada Direct is a 1-800 number. As it is the Canadian International Operator not the Irish one, that seems utterly wrong of Eircom; a petty punitive measure against ex-customers which they should not be allowed to practise. Afterall, the line rental is still paid to them. Perlico is acting dumb and pretending they know nothing about this when they surely must. So, does wee David have time to go into battle against two communications giants? No. I must finish the final edit of my book. But when I do finish, Eircom and Perlico watch out.