Month: March 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Going to the Cinema on your Own is Cool Oh Yeah

I wrote this little piece when I first moved to Dublin and spent a lot of time by myself being all big and mature and the like. During this period I went to the cinema on my own quite a bit—especially the Kid’s Club because I was broke. Sure with a fiver you’ve a film and a bag of chips afterwards for the stroll home says you.

If there’s a film you’re dying to see in the cinema and no one will go with you, so what! Go alone. In fact, don’t bother asking anyone in the first place. Besides, your friends will probably annoy you anyway saying stuff like: “Is that Blanche from Golden Girls?” when it’s obviously Kathleen Turner and “Isn’t he the one that was married to yer wan but then dumped her for your other wan?” Then, when you resist the urge to pinch them they stick their greedy paws into your 29 euro bucket of popcorn for the tenth time even though they didn’t buy any because they ‘didn’t feel in the mood for popcorn’.

Going to the cinema sans buddies is no longer seen as the refuge of the Social Undesirables or the misanthropes. It is now a perfectly acceptable, nay empowering way to spend a couple of hours. It might seem a bit scary at first, and there is the fear other patrons will look pityingly at you and think you are a sad lonely individual with nothing to keep you warm through the future wilderness years except a few cats, but persist. Once you realise it really doesn’t matter at all what anyone thinks of you, you’ll be flying. Just think to yourself ‘at least I don’t need the crutch of company for everything I do‘. Just think it now, internally, on the down low. Probably best not to screech it into someone’s face because you suspect they might think you’re a lonely twat. You might get thrown out for that.

I recently went to a kiddie film. Without any kiddies. This threw the staff into state of confusion as to what to charge as it’s free for an adult with every €3 child’s admission. I could see panic in the cashier’s eyes. His  scandalised peepers said: “Oh dear God what is to become of us, we’ve never seen the likes of this. May God have mercy on our souls”. The staffer shouted across to another “This lady wants to buy a child’s ticket for Sammy’s Turtle Adventures but she has no children! What do I do?” Well you could have knocked the other chap down with a bag of overpriced Minstrels.

In the end I suggested I pay the three quid and off I went. Luckily I saw the funny side of it, as did most of the tittering customers.

There is something fortifying and rejuvenating about learning to enjoy your own company, and going to the cinema solo is a good place to start. It’s good for you. Character building. What do they say?  Something like you’re the best friend you will ever have? It might be cringey and a bit American therapy-ish but the sentiment is sound.

Tip: If you feel really paranoid and lose your nerve put a coat in the seat beside you and when someone tries to sit say your partner has the runs and is in the jacks, and might be there for a while. Shame is subjective after all.

First published June 2011

Filmy Teeth and the Runs: Is Going Out Worth the Hangover?

I wrote this piece during a deeply reflective hangover. It was deeply reflective because I couldn’t move, eat, read, sleep or talk—and sure what else is there to do so but self-flagellate with thoughts of regret and confusion. Why, I asked myself, why have you done this to yourself? We spend our lives trying not to get sick, but everytime we go out and drink that’s exactly what we are doing. Making ourselves sick. Striking a deal with ourselves that tomorrow might be written off, but it won’t matter because tonight will be worth it. But will it? I posited. WILL IT?

Hangovers are hand-servants of Lucifer. They reduce us to gibbering wrecks with doses of the shakes Ozzy Osbourne would be proud of. Long gone is the gloss of the night before: we’ve sick in our hair, the runs, eyes glued shut by mascara and we can’t find our knickers (I’m joking about the last bit).

This isn’t intended to be preachy, but as I get older I’m wondering why we do it—why do we drink so much?  Why do we feel the need swallow pre-drinks, free drinks, six drinks, ten drinks? Are we even enjoying ourselves? Is it worth the pain of the next day?

I have put together a case study. I will look at this from a female perspective because let’s face it—women have further to fall, which works better for dramatic effect. All men really do is brush their gnashers and fling on some Dax wax and hope for the best. Metrosexuals and guyliner aficionado’s are still a minority and no amount of Gerard Butler saying: “Enough said” all masterfully in the L’Oreal ad is going to change that.

Case Study: The Night Out

1pm

Sheila’s off on a night out tonight and she can’t bloody wait. It’s finally Friday and she’s sick to her back molars of her poxy office job. There’s nothing glamorous about her Penneys suit, her low wage and her skanky black orthopaedic-esque work shoes. Why would she bother dressing up for work anyway? It’s a shithole like. Well anyway, screw her 9-5 misery, Sheila’s ‘living for the weekend’. She reads all the magazines from Look to Now to Cosmo. Every shiny, bright page tells her she is a fabulous woman who can emulate celebrities and look sensational for her big night out. They convince her with such ease that she needs the latest makeup/dress/heels/heated styling appliance to complete her look when she hits le tiles. This is the real me, she thinks, flicking through Vogue, as she eats her Weight Watchers sambo on her lunch break and plans the night ahead. She drops a bit of chicken from it and covertly looks around to see if anyone saw. She thinks of the ‘scientific’ five second rule and quickly pops it in her gob. Then bitterly she ponders: this eejit who trundles through the week stealing staplers and paper clips is an imposter who enables me to make the money I need to be who I’m supposed to be—an amazing, cocktail-slurping dancing queen.

7pm

It’s 7pm and time for the grand preparations. Sheila pours herself a glass of wine to get her in the mood (it’s a bit stink but for four quid a bottle who cares?).

First up is the fake tan, naturally. Or not. It’s streaky and smells a bit… bacony?… no wait… oaty? But what harm? It’ll make her look better in her Facebook photos. She locates her magic knickers which may do a great job flattening her tummy but have the unfortunate side effect of cutting into her behind, giving the appearance of four arse cheeks. Oh well, you pick your battles. Next she shimmies into her new dress. Well it’s not a shimmy really, more of a face-reddening ‘suck in and pull’ effort. Delighted with the front and side views but a little disappointed with her sectioned-off bum she downs more wine. Beer goggles can work on yourself too you know.

7.15pm

Make-up is next. Sheila puts on two coats of foundation, then another four coats for good luck. Shite, she forgot the primer. Her pores are so deep birds could nest in them so it all comes off and she starts again. She leathers on stuff for the brow-bone, the eyebrow, the eyelid, the cupid’s bow, the cheekbones, the temples. The mascara goes on and she can’t help making a funny face as she applies it. She feathers and dusts and blots until she’s unrecognisable. It crosses her mind that she’s either false advertising or making the best of herself. Drink does that to a person; sure doesn’t it turn us all into great philosophers?

7.30pm

Now it’s time for the nail varnish. She heard that the ‘brurple’ is the latest cool shade – a sort of browny purple. She’s thrilled with it, so what if it cost 20 quid, it’s brurple after all and isn’t everyone going to notice how cutting edge she is? Ahead of the posse, that’s me, she thinks. Sure go on, I’m feeling mad, I’ll put a bit on my toes aswell, I’m not wearing sandals or peep-toes but I’ll know it’s there. On go the clodhoppers. Super-high to make her look taller and skinnier. Fake Louboutins.

7.45

The hair is last to be fiddled with. She got in late from work and didn’t have time to shower so she goes a bit mad with the dry shampoo and does a quick job with the straighteners. The irons hit her scalp and she shouts: “Fuck!” while ignoring the burning smell rising from her head. Ah, I’ll be grand, I’ll throw on a conditioning masque tomorrow, sort that out, she tells herself.

8pm

An hour later she’s ready to roll and a little tipsy. She casts a cursory ‘I’m not entirely satisfied, there’s always room for improvement but sure, fuck it, it’ll do’ glance in the mirror and hobbles down the stairs. She forgot to take the price sticker her shoes and it says in red ‘REDUCED Eur15’. Whoops. She has a couple more glasses of wine while waiting for the girls, glad to have the chance to get a bit drunk before they arrive. I’m way more fun when I’m drunk and everybody else seems like more fun when I’m drunk too, she says to herself.

8.30pm

‘The Girls’ are coming round for pre-drinks. The doorbell rings and in trot Shazza, Mazza and Bazza all gleaming and blow-dried and full of squeals of: “LOVE the dress” and “You look gorgeous!” and “Louboutins?” to which Sheila replies “But of course!” and then they tell each other how fat they think they are and how fat they don’t think each other is and then they drink more and more and one starts crying over something and another dances like an eejit and knocks something over.

In other words, a great time is had by all.

11.45pm

Someone rings a taxi. They’re all dying to head out to show off their finery. Mazza and Shazza both puked so they have to get more money out or the ATM to make up for the precious booze they lost. They’re also convinced the impromptu puking session has made them look a little slimmer too, which is a nice little bonus. They all slide into the taxi. Sheila is stung with sitting in the front and everyone knows it’s the shit seat for two reasons:
1. You always end up paying more because your co-passengers are flinging coppers at you and it’s hard to keep track of who’s shafting you.
2. You have to listen to the effect on the recession on taxi drivers and any other gripes the man in question has. Then you have to politely back him up and agree with him so he doesn’t overcharge you.

1am

Sheila and The Girls are having a brilliant time. They’ve necked back the cocktails and sunk a few shots and none of them feel sick. They’ve been dancing all night and feeling like Beyonce. Click, clickity click goes the camera and the girls squeal: “Profile photo!” Bazza does some sexy moves on the dancefloor and sticks her boobs out. She fervently hopes that the photos come out well and she doesn’t look fat—she really wants to make her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend jealous. They all hug each other on the dancefloor and say: (the original and best) “You’re my bessht friend” even though Shazza actually hates Bazza really.

3am

All three girls agree it’s been ‘the best night ever’ (even though they did exactly the same thing last weekend) although it comes out like this: “Itschhhhh beeen uh bessssssht night evaaaaaaa”. Bazza’s disappeared but everyone assumes she’s grand: “Ah she’s a fine wedge of a woman she can take care of herself”. When we leave the girls they are up to their eyeballs in chips in the chipper with curry sauce dripping down their chins. Sheila burps.

Aldi and Lidl: The Good, the Bad and the it was Cheap so You Can’t Really Complain.

I wrote this when I was in college, propelled by gratitude to Aldi and Lidl that I could buy a bag of wholewheat pasta and a log of goat’s cheese for less than three euro.

8 Reasons why I like Aldi and Lidl:
(yes I group them together as in my mind they are practically one and the same)

1. The chocolate is cheap and yummy. I’ve tried it all so trust me.

2. The brand names of the products give me a bit of a laugh.

3. Aldi does brilliant offers on fruit and veg every week. This adds a certain element of danger and excitement to my life because I never know from week to week what I’ll be having for dinner. For example if there are tomatoes, mangoes, corn on the cobs and plums on offer at a certain time, I’ll use all my ingenuity to cobble a meal together. It’s a sort of foodstuff Russian Roulette. It can really make a woman feel alive.

4. I like poking at the ‘queer’ stuff like weird sausage meat saying: “What’s that forrin muck?” and chuckling to myself.

5.  You can’t fault the value.

6. A proud selection of cheeses is proffered for your delectation.

7: Cheap plonk.

8: I’m often accused of looking about twelve years old so thanks to good old Iseree, Cien and Lacura I’m able to hold on to the primary school glory days. Eve Lom who?

8 Reasons why I don’t like Aldi and Lidl:

1. Cheap and yummy chocolate. It’s hard to resist a silky, creamy bar that’s the size of your hand (outstretched) and only fifty cent.

2. The colour scheme. It’s manky. Have blue and yellow been commandeered as the unofficial shades of scrounge or something? Ryanair, Euro2 or whatever they’re calling Pound City now.

3. They’ve only ever one or two tills open so the queues are always massive.

4. The staff superhumanly beep the shite out of the till and after about ten seconds your whole shopping has been put through. Because there are hardly any checkouts open and people are making ‘get a move on you muppet’ faces at you you’re under serious pressure trying to feck all of your stuff into your bag. It generally results in you sweating from stress and mortification while smacking your tins of beans onto your eggs.

5. Most things come in multi-packs. Sort of annoying when you’re cooking solo and the black bin is six quid a lift.

6. Now you can’t bring your friends back nice foreign chocolate from France or Germany or wherever without them thinking ‘stingy bitch, she got them in Lidl’.

7. There are some seriously suspect looking tinned fish products.

8. The security guard in Aldi always gives me some suspicious looks and it’s making me paranoid that I have a shifty head.

First published October 2010

Long Nails: A Harrowing Experience

I wrote this in 2011 when a fervent belief took hold that real women, sophisticated women had long nails. Well it didn’t really work out too well to be honest.

In an attempt to stop the niggling feeling I was masquerading as a grown-up, I decided to grow my nails for the first time. This was also mildly influenced by a desire to tap sinisterly like a James Bond villain on kitchen surfaces and grand pianos.

It was quite easy to grow them in the first place. All it took was a bit of nail clipper abstention and a tentative budding relationship with an emery board (a disposable nail file to you and me) and lo and behold the bad boys were flourishing like a nipper on SMA. There was no stopping them. Soon I was getting requests left, right and centre to peel stuff, open stuff, back scratch you name it. The work was rolling in, people wanted my skills. I felt like a glamorous Eastern European and even toyed with the idea of changing my name to Agnieska. Days were spent rubbing hand cream into cuticles and buying nail files with pictures of cupcakes on them and going a bit mental with the nail varnish while playing romantic 80s power ballads in the background for effect.

HORROR, MISERY!
Of course those halcyon days couldn’t have lasted. They never do, the feckers. The rot began to set in. Soon I began to resent these, these creatures, dripping from my digits. Even tapping on stuff lost its appeal. Cats, I thought, stroking my chin, rubbing cats deliberately slowly with a glass of scotch on the rocks beside me in my oak-panelled lair, that’s the villain wannabe way to go now instead. Tapping has had its day, I sighed, as I pondered a moment at the fickleness of human nature and the ironic lure of clichéd scenarios.

THE DEMISE
It began with a searing pain on my left cheek and the stomach churning certainty I had been marked for life. My nails had scratched the shite out of my face when sweeping my hair away in defiance to the whipping wind. It stung and smarted for a good five minutes. The bastards were turning against me. I who had nourished them, tended to them, softly sung Barry White songs to them.

The first attack was the beginning of the end. After that it seemed everything went wrong for us. Even something as innocent as opening a tin of beans became an exercise in emotional endurance as the first nail peeled and broke. They were making a fool of me. You know, if you put in the hard graft to grow your nails strong and long and one breaks you look like a failure. There are nine triumphs yet than one banjaxed nail will make you look like a pathetic loser. It will glow and throb with all the power of the nature of man’s shaky self-esteem. It’s all relative you see, and quite unfair, but this is the way things are.

After that the fight went out of me. Every five minutes I was getting snagged in something, especially as the weather was getting colder and I began to wear more jumpers. Knitwear is not the friend of the long-taloned ones as you can imagine. Even those who had once so ardently admired them became impatient as they felt the sting of the claws I could no longer control on a soft cheek, an arm, an ear.

My remaining long nails and I limped along for a while half ignoring each other but not wanting to part ways just yet, until in the end I said ‘ah fuck it’ and cut them to the quick, swept up the remains and got on with my life, a wiser woman with nothing but memories and the ghosts of lofty nails dancing on the tips of my fingers*.

*It’s important to mention here that from the ashes of tragedy and failure rises poetry

First published October 2011

An Garda on Segways, Brilliant

The force, on Segways. Come on. How could I not write a little comment on that one I ask you? I’m just giving the people what they want!

In a move bolder than the introduction of the standard regulation Yaris the An Garda transport fleet has expanded to include the Segway.

Yes the Segway, once the preserve of city break tours and Living Social Deals will now whizz the boys and girls in blue around Dublin city centre reaching eye-watering speeds of up to 19km an hour.

Two of the machines were donated to ‘the force’ by the Dublin City Business Association.

“They will add another arm to our portfolio in terms of dynamic and effective urban policing by maximising the areas we can monitor that are not typically accessible for other vehicles,” said Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey.

This could be interpreted that in the case of a low to medium speed chase the Segways can get into dodgy little alleyways and through busy streets as part of a crackdown on sticky fingers in the lead up to Christmas.

I for one am thoroughly looking forward to watching the drama of An Garda in lukewarm pursuit of a suspect during a low to medium speed Segway chase up Grafton Street and then down the line watching the high-octane Hollywood movie that will inevitably follow, more than likely starring Bruce Willis as a disgruntled Segway engineer who happens to be ‘the best’.

First published October 2013

Snow in March

I wrote this for the same reason I write a lot of things. As a childish way of getting revenge on he who has wronged me—in this case the season we call March.

It’s the end of March. Easter’s on its way. The children are off school and we’ve a long weekend to eat haddock and chocolate until we’re sick. The scene should be well set for a nice little precursor to summer.

Instead here we are in our hats and scarves furiously blinking snowflakes from forlorn eyes.

Helius, God of the Sun, why have you forsaken us?*

What we should be doing
Bathing in a sea of Mini-Eggs
What we are doing:
Bathing in a tumultuous ocean of self-pity and despair

What we should be doing:
Walking to work carrying bunches of daffodils a la Morrissey and wearing Easter bonnets
What we are doing:
Trudging through blizzards in gacky winter coats carrying metaphysical bags that are leaking our hopes and dreams onto greasy footpaths (woman then slips on hopes and dreams, sprains ankle, court case pends)

What we should be doing:
Not wiping snow-drifts off our heads
What we are doing
Wiping snow-drifts off our heads

What we should be doing:
Drinking mojitos in beer gardens
What we are doing:
Drinking Cup-a-Soups (beef and onion with croutons) alone in darkened rooms. We are dissatisfied with the stingy amount of croutons

What we should be doing:
Calling this season Spring
What we are doing:
Calling this season The Apocalypse

What we should be doing:
Whinging about the weather
What we are doing:
Whinging about the weather

*We need to blame someone. Helius will do.

Christmas Demented Food Shop Mania

Now I’ve a few questions here. So answer me and answer me good. Do we, or do we not go a bit mad at Christmastime? Do we or do we not buy way too many packs of ham? How in the name of Gepetto are we going to drink all of these panic-purchased bottles of 7UP? What is it we’re so afraid of?

Christmas Eve
Shops are stuffed on the two or three days leading up to Christmas. Aisles are swollen with customers, extra staff, prams, jumbo trolleys, purchases swinging from hands and of course stacks of those Tayto Christmas box yokes.

People are fecking stuff into baskets and trolleys like they’re not going to be fed for a month. Panicking. Will we have enough? Does Aunt Meryl like yoghurts? Good we’ll take twenty. Children are crying or asking for KitKats. Men are found curled up in balls whimpering in fear. Pram pushers refuse to deviate from their path for man or beast as they happily skin ankles left, right and centre. Staff fantasise about stun gunning customers or beating them heavily with bags of Brussels sprouts in a festive take on the prison favourite ‘marbles in socks’. Musky scented ladies wearing their ‘good coat’ belie their sweet appearance as they employ dirty tactics such as body slams and rugby tackles to get the last  tub of brandy butter.

Then to add to the demented chaos and bloodied ankles the queues make you want to take your own life through chomping into a frozen turkey and self-administering salmonella.

Out you go to the car. Fill up the boot. Go get your euro back from your trolley or if you’re feeling really flash just dump the trolley in the car park for your convenience and say to yourself: “Ah shar it’s only a euraa, it’s Christmas” (do not pause to think about car that will crash into the trolley bay swerving to avoid said trolley). Go home. Bloat your cupboards with your purchases. Have a bottle of whiskey for the shock.

Christmas Day
It’s Christmas! Yippee. You’re so glad you bought nineteen loaves of bread and a ten stone sack of spuds. You look outside the window. Not a sinner around. Feels almost 28 Days Laterish. Glad again about your large stores of food. Apart from Little Timmy on his new bike Christmas Day looks positively apocalyptic.

Boxing Day
Tesco is open. So are loads of other shops. Hmm.

First published December 2011

A Day in the Life of a Stapler, a Disillusioned Artiste

Ahm… I wrote this while heavily in my ‘inanimate objects have feelings too’ phase (check out the life and times of Tadgh the Christmas tree). Funnily enough this post was featured on the website of an American stationery company! I know it’s a bit thick, and you’re supposed to ‘kill your darlings’ but feck it, I couldn’t let this one go.

We staplers have it rough. We’re viewed as the bullies of the stationery world. The scum of the pencil case. As far as the likes of rubbers and rulers are concerned we’re only a step away from machine guns. Staplers are the first to get blamed for anything that goes wrong. Even toppers and punchers get a bit more respect than us and this injustice makes us act out, compounding the stereotype further. It’s a cruel and unfair world we live in. When’s it gonna change man? When? There’s a war going on and it’s taking place in Easons’, classrooms, Euro2s, and schoolbags all over the world.

Oh like my tattoo? It says ‘Krystal and Zain 4 EVA 2011’. Haven’t a clue what it means but it makes me look badass.

So anyway, I’ve been put on short time for the summer what with the colleges and schools being on holidays, so I’m quids out at the minute. The Milky Bars are not on me so to speak. I’m signing on with those X’s and O’s yokes in the dole until September though, but I’m still suffering a distinctive drop in my standard of living. On the bright side I get a bit of a break from the monotony of being used and abused by sweaty unsure of themselves teenagers with their mediocre attempts at academia.

Anyhow, another day of being cruelly marginalised. How boring is that? Always stapling the same area of the page, right above the margin on the left-hand side. Why doesn’t someone just go mental altogether and staple, say the middle of the page? Go on, break my day up a bit, surprise me a little even. I’d love it, get a right kick out of it I would. Mix it up, keep it fresh I say. Sure don’t all the old wans who use me for their bingo books say a change is as good as a rest? (They said this recently to Paudey Coffey when he died).

So on my first job of the morning I found myself flying towards a stack of pages. I caught a bit of the text scrawled on the paper: ‘I love you Mrs lives at numbr 245 Marwell Park, and I think about you every night and I follow you home from work and you have a luvly cloud of hair that I want to smell and I want to wear your skin and… —I didn’t catch the rest. It was quite sweet though, a love letter I think. What a nice man.
Where would I go, I wondered. Where would I deliver that satisfying sounding ‘punch’? I allowed myself to hope. Wait wait, I thought, I’m going towards the lower end of the page, I don’t believe this! Will I…will he…? Oh no, hold up, he’s going back up, up, oh dear God no, not again… ‘punch’. The fecking left-hand margin again.

I cry the bitter tears of a hopeless dreamer. I am an artiste unable to flourish. I am a disillusioned creative, so rut-stuck that even an industrial strength magnet couldn’t lift my weary, broken body from the monotony.
The brain is a muscle you see, and mine is slowly but surely turning to noodles. I will be viewed as an illiterate thug, and as I was saying earlier us staplers can’t afford any more bad press at the moment.

On my way home from my shift I passed my ex-girlfriend Doris. She’s a paper clip. We had a passionate, tempestuous relationship for a few months. She was a right firecracker let me tell you. Great wiring. Very flexible if you know what I mean wink wink. Could bend her every which way.

We were the office supplies version of Romeo and Juliet (I was Leo obv), which is why it ended. We couldn’t take the stress anymore. Serious opposition from our families. Paper clips and staplers are mortal enemies you see. They blame us for putting them out for work because, let’s face it, they’re fairly shite. As yer wan with the braces in Home Alone said they are what the French would call Les Incompetents.

Right, I’m off so. Sure it was great talking to you and telling you about my day. Anything for a bit of good publicity. Make sure you flog in that charity work thing I was telling you about on the phone. ‘Member? I bought a pair of socks in Oxfam? Throw it in there, make me look good like. I must go off now and get some ammo. Shite no, sorry, I mean staples. Have to get a good night sleep aswell, doing a bit of office temping in the mornin’. Seeya.

First published June 2011

Edge of Tomorrow: Reviewed

Ah it’s good now, so it is. Four popcorn buckets out of five. And Brendan Gleeson is in it.

It’s an alien invasion, and Earth, God love her, is losing.

Tom Cruise plays Cage, an army spin doctor who doesn’t believe in the glory of war himself, but nonetheless manages to convince other people that getting their heads blown off by giant tentacled aliens is a bit of a laugh.

Completely inexperienced, he’s ordered onto the battlefield, and of course after about five minutes he’s dead, the big eejit.

And this is where it begins. He wakes up the next day to the exact same day as the one before. I felt like saying Tom, I do the same myself, every bleedin’ morning. But I didn’t say it because I would look silly talking to the cinema screen.

He wakes. He dies. He wakes. He dies. Every day the same day.

And it’s feckin’ brilliant. Its fast-paced. It’s entertaining. There’s a nice bit of action.

Tom can’t even handle a butter knife, bless him, so he joins up with soldier Emily Blunt for a bit of training. Every day they get closer to learning how they can defeat these gacky aliens and save humankind.

It’s a bit Groundhog Day, and a bit Pacific Rim, only where Pacific Rim was a bit of silly fun, Edge of Tomorrow is a tight movie with a decent plot and characters you care about. And it’s funny, it’s actually really funny, but without diluting that feeling of threat and fear.

And the woman was the bad-ass in this film. It is nice to see a strong woman who isn’t portrayed as the hard bitch, or the cartoonish ‘woman trying to be a aggressive man’ that you see in so many other blockbusters. She was a person. God forbid a woman is portrayed as a feckin’ person. Her tits weren’t out. There were no gratuitous shots of her arse. No sexist comments. And did it harm the story? No. The story stayed the same. Because she was a person.

It starkly showed how sad, as well as unnecessary it is that films like Transformers insist on teaching guffawing teenagers that women are pouting pieces of meat.

The performances from both leads were great. Tom Cruise, for all his sins, is actually really likeable in this. He’s charming and funny and in the part of the film that he’s a bit of a sweaty terrified prat I was rooting for him. Go Tom, I thought.

Now no one in my family has ever liked Tom Cruise so I was afraid to go against the status quo. I just assumed I shouldn’t like him. It never occurred to me that, you know, it would be alright if I did.

I’m very impressionable and had been put off by this stuff about how he wasn’t very nice to Mimi or Nicole, or that Suri is an cyborg, or how no one in Hollywood wants to work with him because he’s ‘very difficult’ or the Oprah thing.

But I’m breaking free, albeit ever so tentatively. And do you know what? Feck it. Here I go: I like Tom Cruise. He’s grand. I liked him in Far and Away with his bockety teeth. He was excellent in Vanilla Sky. I saw Mission Impossible 4 the other day and it wasn’t too bad. He does his own stunts.

Recommended. A very good sci-fi so it is.

First published June 2014

Step into Christmas, Expenses are Incurred

This piece was fuelled by a fervent disagreement I had with Sir Elton John. It was my way of reaching out to him. I like to think he has read it and will take action soon to right a terrible wrong.

“Step into Christmas the admission’s free” says Elton John in his well-loved festive ditty.

Elton, a few weeks into ‘the season’ and I’m skint already to be fair.

“Eat, drink and be merry” continues Elton in the misleading tune. 

Elton, alcohol is not cheap and even if I get my munchies in Aldi, costs, charges and surcharges will still apply.

“Asking you if you’d oblige stepping into christmas with me” finishes Elton with a confident flourish.

Here now Elton, I can’t fault you on your manners but nonetheless fees are accrued when one enters the festive season. Can we just clear that up.

I suggest the lyrics are amended in the spirit of fair play:

Let’s join together
We can watch the snow fall forever and ever
Eat, drink and be merry
Come along with me
Step into Christmas
Expenses are incurred

Thanks for listening Elton. I know you’ll do the right thing.

First published 13th December 2013

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