Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The 49 Steps

15 Days, 1 Country, 49 Things We’ve Learned. Most of all that Spainland isn’t just for improving Spanish; In the words of Michelangelo, ancora imparo. Can’t just pick a normal quote, NAH?

1. How to create a “24-hour comedy show” out of perverted innocence.
2. What it feels like to be exhausted by experiencing as much as possible every day, being a “debauchery of dew” and surviving on 4½ hours sleep a night like a modern day Inigo Montoya.
3. That the foreign exchange rate really makes fourteen years equal to 19 years outside of Ireland and that George Harrison condoned this when he said we can “do it right child”.
4. How to sail, how to strand fat kids out in the ocean and how to not throw up on the boat when you’re lying over the front hippogriff-style in the middle of a semi-storm filled up with cake and Malibu. (thanks marina)
5. That Bambi’s mother DID die, mannings and that I fucking love yer work man!
6. How even 16-year-old racist, illiterate, ignorant, dog-abusive,
dramatic, retarded, arrogant bitchtards can work out the cure for
cancer. And they express a LOT of joy in doing so. Let us explain..
7. That falling on your head in the rain or walking into a bus pole is a great way to pick up chicks man! YEAAH!
8. The implausible beauty and freedom of going skinny dipping at 2am before some nutella and 75c sangria on the beach.
9. Some people learned not to underestimate the power of the playsuit, especially when it comes to perverted salsa teachers.
10. How you can pick up GAELIC or the Irish accent in just two weeks! (thanks ellie ya dumb fuck) Top o’ Tha Mornin’ To Ya!
11. That every cloud has a silver lining, that a violinist outside the window after our first all-nighter is NOT romantic and that acting like an insanely vulgar 7 year-old is better than being a self-conscious, staring French intern.
12. How loud fake vomit sounds can be in an empty classroom.
13. The assurance that love, motivation and unbelievable things are possible and that they’ll always come totally out of the azul.
14. The combination of bad first impressions, KISS MEHs, appreciating real beauty lad, cat noises, deep conversations, the fact that we are all Africa, the biggest ice-cream tub, bottle cap-drinking, obsessing, vulgarity, winky faces and toast-on-the-go makes for the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (thanks jess)
15. How To Embody/Stand Up For Your Country Abroad. (take that!) The cultural differences and the people made the place a ludicrous crossover point of personalities, in the same way with the characters in The Breakfast Club you could literally predict the contrasting adults they could/will grow into. Future inept doctors, gangsters, nervous wrecks, princesses, bohemians..
16. That reading someone’s diary doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to hell..?
17. About a deep-as-fuck, hard-as-diamonds minor and his far from perfect life. That “childlike arms” have the power to capsize four people and the fun of having your knuckles raw after a riveting game of Cans. (thanks alex) Once more with feeling: AWWWWWWWWBOIIIIIIIIIZZZZZ!
18. That I DON’T KNOW HER, I DON’T KNOW HER! scares passers-by.
19. How shoulder licking, balcony spitting, crying and prancing away in the sea CAN be attractive. (thanks eva) Oh and that Americans are “all fucking retarded and loud”.
20. That doing the message-in-a-bottle cliché is easier said than done.
21. The effect of a young Mick Jagger repeatedly saying your name, knowing your can, smelling flowers, reading out love letters and climbing over tables, that eyes the colour of twice-frozen-over hershey bars are TOTALLY BOSS. (thanks rémi)
22. That prostitute vending machines from the future exist TODAY!

23. That in the end, the love you take really is equal to the love you make.
24. How face-cramp feels after eating crepes with the Snuggles Face. Also how to represen’ your hometown by constantly using the Snuggles Face in class.
25. That water is for drinking not throwing dear.
26. We learned how blonde cat mermaids don’t go to gamble, they go to DANCE!
27. How to lie, how to dance all night, act the Jason, eat nutella out of the jar, really experience flamenco, get past bouncers, re-gag, create the structure of this post, remember the Twist & Shout curse:( see the effect of half a maple syrup chupito, dónde mi comida era and that every country around Ireland ends with –land. (thanks jessica)
28. Let’s admit it: we learned that smoking is hot. Ah oui?
29. How to maintain self and nationality when away from home. That English really doesn’t suit the Irish soul when it comes to speaking, and swearing way too much does perfectly.
30. Even though there are still many anti-Semitic clubs and nautical arenas in Alicante, Papa G has some interesting views on the That’s What She Said debate.
31. How to avoid rapists while walking home alone by yourself by telling your phone what you did that day.
32. That Fridays the 13th have the potential to be the second best day of anyone’s life EVERRR. That perfect happiness is a combination of sailing, can-tops, vomiting, patriotism, playing some air-hockey, laughing, rain-sliding, singing and smoking the edge off, making someone happy, going to a Beatles concert, having a meaningful conversation, dancing until four and a wonderfully hysterical hug amidst a perfect goodbye. Or a “Biiiiiyyyyyyyeee!”.
33. Gur nach raibh sé ag féachaint. :L
34. Almost the lyrics of Waka Waka, how to be a middle-aged Irish woman to the T (thanks orla), that Withnail Y Yo is a universal indicator whatever the language and how burning your feet daily on sailing tiles feels.
35. MANY new phrases:
Aaww ellie boiz, We're just friends but he comes around for some casual sex once in a while.., When Winning Counts, "Dooonde esta mi comiiidaa?", QUEREMOS RIAAAA! Is that yer dad?, Bitchtard, My dad is Le Coque Sportif, Quiero jugar el teeeeeeeeeeeniiiiiis!, Mmmguuaaaapas, ARE YE GAY OR SOMETIN? "Irish? IRISH?", "You didn't kill me will your dragon flames..", Rough neighbourhoods, "A guy whistled at me and I..told him to F-Off", Swan man, If I Can't Have You, No-one Can, Ja mind saying that to my face?, butterface (thanks shakira), Mammy wouldn't like that at all, Dibs on focay!, Yoo thoy eba!, Ja wanna cry all over mo chorp nochtadh?, YO NO QUIERO AGUA, YO QUIERO BEBIDA!
36. Not to be a cocktease garl.
37. How it’s not right to cut off your leg at the knee when a 9 year old tells you that Paul McCartney said she was beautiful. Even if he did touch her face.
38. Whatever you do, going to sleep on a strange couch semi-exposed at 7 in the morning is only acceptable when you lock eye contact with the potential rapists.
39. That cockroaches can have many meanings, that I’m “quite funny!”, that he knew what dearcadh meant and why all the rum WAS gone. (thanks again eva)
40. That when Tobias is out, HE’S OUT!
41. That there were four guys and four girls, its fine for a 10 year old and a 17 year old to be together and that he DID know what he was doing Marina!
42. That disgusting €5 whiskey turns into golden snowflake juice when mixed with coke.
43. What it feels like to cry out the window of a taxi to the tune of Unbreak My Heart.
44. How to be sung All You Need Is Love by an engraver and how to connect to a stranger via a mini-concert with just a guitar, some voices and a bunk bed. (thanks tomas) OH and how to convert someone to Beatlemania! Whats that? “I’m sorry I dissed them, I was fucking retarded. The Beatles are genius”.
45. Not to be alarmed when a shiny German comes into your room at night to ask you to go to the beach. Instead, wrap him in a carpet to use as a handy torch. (thanks dennis)
46. How to be kissed by a stranger on the street, that planes with banners EXIST!
47. The origin of the swastika, how the hamster killed itself, how our blue-eyed Argentinean sailor children could have been, that Jess Is Mine, how to say Renatta, what raw fat tastes like, that marijuana is legal in small amounts in spain (ew), that Irish aren’t the only people who hate(d) the English and how pebbles and eyes are two things that should never meet. (thanks Fernando)
49. Looking out at the unbelievably depressing Kerry rain, trying to pick up on some non-existent Wi-Fi before it comes to a week after Alicante when I post this, I’ve come to realise now just HOW much is going to happen after school. Like, home to me now just seems like the first wooden box in the Indiana Jones warehouse before the rows of fluorescent lights are switched on, revealing the miles of chests beyond it. Alicante was like the first light switching on, a preview of all the future potential. I feel like I did after other big experiences, that once again a little mound of inhibitions has been swept away (thanks yea French tease) or that those ever-looming crossroads aren’t so daunting. I’ve gained a herd of Antelopes Of Faith and being there for even two weeks illustrated what I/we are going to be working for in the next year. So I s’pose that All You Need Is Love, happiness, culture and independence. And a way to not make all this sound cheesy.



Friday, August 6, 2010

Sondheim Strikes Back

So, when I think about musicals, I think cheese, mainly; some catchy songs; romance; couple of gags; an attempt at a schocking twist; happy ending; good clean family fun. Sweeney Todd doesn't quite meet any of those criteria. It's soo much better.
Most of yez will probably have seen Sondheim's epic musical thriller as adapted to film by the wonderful Mr. Tim Burton, but, as is true in so many cases, the movie can never quite match the real thing. First of all, Cork Operatic Society's production showcases some genuinely outstanding talent, most notably Michael Sands (Sweeney), Deirdre Bashford (Mrs. Lovett), Molly Lynch (Johanna), and Jack Healy (Toby). I can assure you that all the cast can sing as well as act (sorry, Mr. Depp). Personally I am really proud of the Society for weathering the economic storm and producing such an amazing show pretty much against all odds, surely to be commended by all you culture vultures, hint hint nudge nudge.

At the risk of giving a history lecture, let me give a summary of the already short life story of Cork Operatic Society. In the semi-sham that was Cork's year as Capital of Culture in 2005, various artistic projects were launched, Opera 2005 and Cork Opera Works, of which I was a part. The year ended, and later on, a big mean ole recession chased the stripy tail of the Celtic Tiger right out of Cork, and along with it went its arts schemes. For a while it looked pretty darn gloomy for the country's single most popular pursuit. However, not to have their dreams quashed by lousy and unreasonable cutbacks, some people decided not to just accept the disappearance of support and funding and go on with the show. That is how the Cork Operatic Society was born. It's a voluntary affair, and the sale of tickets only just covers the cost of the company's shows, so nobody actually makes any money out of them. Their aim is "to present innovative and high quality productions of operatic and musical works to the public. In doing so, it also provides invaluable performance experience to its members". So bear all this in mind when you note the lack of superfluous props in the show. As if an unforgivingly low budget was not enough to challenge Team Todd, the venue for which the show was intended was quite literally swept out from under them. Perseverance, it would seem, is the Society's middle name, and they managed to get the show moved to the Everyman Palace, when other productions were simply abandoned.

The good news is, the society is thankfully reaping the rewards of its selfless and top-quality work. I was so happy to see that the tickets for opening night were sold out. I've seen two of the Society's shows - Candide and The Magic Flute, and both were incredible, so I had high expectations for The Todd. And it waaay exceeded them. On entering the lavish red theatre, the audience was met by what I think was the most arresting thing I've seen on stage. And this was before the show ever started. The whole cast was on stage, stark bloodstained sheets hanging above them , depicting scenes from a Victorian mental asylum. Sitting in the centre of the front row was the musical director, John O'Brien. Having been in his choir for five years, I recognised his Zone Face. The lights dimmed, he stood, the harrowing cries and demented rocking continued on stage. I already had goosebumps. The Company acted as narrators, telling the story of the Demon Barber after his and Mrs. Lovett's deaths, which gave the whole thing a really chilling feel.

Mr. Sondheim sure knows his stuff. The music in Sweeney is catchy, as it must be, but also rich and complex, and his lyrics are brilliantly sharp and funny. The plot is faultless. Together they create a truly entertaining and ironic piece - proper grown-up stuff. With a cameo form Corkonian treasure Cara O'Sullivan as Pirelli and amazing young talent like Lynch and Healy, complemented by an accomplished 35-piece orchestra, this show definitely won't disappoint. It's witty, poignant, creepy and often quite beautiful. I am seriously considering trimming my own beard from now on. People, the pies may be awful, but there are Magnums at half-time; student tickets are €15, only 2 nights left, so get yours NOW, for the closest shave you'll ever get...