Coronavirus Virus Days 30 – Nerves


My nerves are shot. Stacey is on her way home from Florida and there’s not a child in the house washed.


What needs to be cleaned? Did I leave anything out in the wrong place? Do the windows need washing? Did I shrink our best sheets? What are those white patches on the towels? Was there always mold on that counter? Did I fold properly? Is there lint in the dryer? Why is there a spare sock? Why are there blotches on the glasses? Is the dishwasher broken? Should I clean the oven? Is that mildew? Are the pillows in the right cases? Is the bed made properly? Will Stacey still recognize me?


Me nerves.


It’s been blowing a gale up here the past two days. My sisyphus theory proved true, raking and blowing leaves in the middle of a forest is pointless. Theeeeeeeyre back! Thanks for clearing up the mythology reference Jenny Lee.


I usually cannot get the garden shed door to close. Today it blew shut and locked me in while I was getting the hedge clippers. I had the choice of phoning a neighbor to drive up and let me out and look like the idiot I am. I went with manly option two. I kicked the latch off.

Dick


Nothing disturbs me quite as much as an errant Bush. My disheveled bramble was bashing my bathroom windows with all this wind. It doesn’t bother me but keeps Stacey awake. Time for a trim.

Trimmed


As I’ve mentioned more than once before, since I quit the booze nine years ago, I made a pledge to see live music at least twice a month. I had lots of time and not a lot of responsibility. Last year alone I saw 38 live shows. For half of those shows, some of you accompanied me, a lot I preferred see solo.


This has obviously become a truncated music season but some of my favorites the last year were Muse, a rare combination of spectacle and real rockers. Bestie Hannah joined me for that one, her first MSG show.

Hannah – not at MSG


A real surprise for me was Lionel Richie at Radio City. I went solo and cynically and had one of they most fun evenings of my concert going life. The man is an entertainer. And I will admit I got teary eyed for Three Times A Lady. My song of the night was Brick House, all kinds of cool hearing that 70s classic livex I also scored my best concert souvenir ever.

My Hello Is It Tea You’re Looking For Mug


I did feel my age a bit at some recent concerts. A lot of shows were 40th anniversaries; ranging from UB40 in Huntington (with bestie Maria) to Stray Cats at South Street Seaport (with bestie Lauren) to Brian Ferry in Washington Heights Paramount theatre (with bestie/wifey).
Great music never gets old.

Lauren


Here’s why I’m revisiting concerts tonight. Quite a number of bands are giving free virtual concerts to support fans and charities. Songkick has details. I use their app for tracking artists. WWW.SONGKICK.COM


Willie Nelson and Melissa Etheridge, amongst others, are performing free online this week. Andrew Bocelli has an online show tomorrow afternoon. I guess it doesn’t really make much difference if he has an audience in front of him or not.

Jeanine

I watched the Farm Aid live broadcast tonight. It was very easy to stream. I felt like Neil Young was playing for me alone in my living room. It got creepy when he asked for a sandwich. When you cannot get out to see these performers this is a pretty wonderful backup option.


Jacko is making use of the at home time to learn to play guitar online. Nice one buddy.


My binge recommendation today is Paul Verhoeven films.


Since he started making movies in the United States this Dutch Director has produced some of the greatest pop culture over the top films of the past thirty years. Even his awful movies (Showgirls) have a high gloss trashy cult entertainment value.

All his films are worth a peek, but my three favorites are:

Starship Troopers – Basic Insects

Starship Troopers (1997) – the most beautiful collection of male and female soldiers you’ve ever laid eyes on go through basic training and are sent to fight giant aphid aliens on a distant planet. Severed limbs and bloody thoraxes abound. This is an R-Rated comic book hoot.


Robocop (1987) – a murdered cop’s body is salvaged and melded into a robotic frame and primed with the directive to protect and serve. Robocop is an action packed thriller with a ladling of dark humor. It also serves as a commentary on consumerism; the fake ads are still hilarious. Robocop is often imitated never equaled.


Basic Instinct (1992) – this iconic trashy smash hit of the nineties still looks great. This film made a star of Sharon Stone, as crime novelist Catherine Trammall, accused of murdering a Rock Star. There’s of course that famous interrogation room scene. Get ready with the pause button boys.

Jeanine and myself decided to watch It Pt. 2 tonight from our seperate locations. Jeanine got in character . I just pressed play and watched. Basic Instinct in character next week maybe?


Any Paul Verhoen film is worth a watch. He never fails to bring something different and extreme to the screen. Throw Elle, his controversial most recent film, and Total Recall, the Arnie on Mars classic, on your list too.


Sticking with the Dutch theme, I’ve read two books by Author Michel Faber. Both were odd, disturbing and stuck with me. The only thing stranger than his book, Under The Skin, is the movie version. I highly recommend both film and novel but they are definitely not for everyone. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as you’ve never seen her, nor I expect will ever see her again.

Hotel California MSG 2020
CowVid – Stir Crazy

Coronavirus Days 29 – Good Friday

I actually had a religious upbringing.

Every day, all the way through secondary school, we had half an hour of religious training just before our 11 o’ clock break. The Christian Brothers religious training included the facts of life. Classes the likes of “Masturbation: Don’t touch that low hanging fruit. Look what happened to Adam and Eve” were taught on a daily basis.


I attended Sunday mass until I was 21. Well, I’d pretend I was going to evening mass at the Claddagh church. I’d take a stroll around the docks and Shop Street instead for an hour. I officially stopped attending when I moved to NY.

Mark, Granny & Me.


I suppose the religious wheels really came off the holy bus in Ireland when we found out our Bishop Eamonn Casey was supporting his love child over here in New Jersey. I made my confirmation with that man. All we O’Tooles did. We found that money Bishop Casey was collecting in the “Bring A Penny For The African Babies” box was getting directed towards a completely different box in the USA.

Me and Bishop Eamonn before he started getting a little expensive action this side of the pond.


Good Friday was traditionally the most miserable day on the Irish calendar. Growing up on the West Coast, we had one television channel, RTE. On Good Friday all programming was dedicated to religious broadcasts; live masses; hymn recitals and bad re-enactments of the stations of the cross.

The shops were closed and worse, the pubs were shut for the WHOLE DAY. You’d think they’d instituted prohibition my father and grandad were so grouchy. On Good Friday there was nothing to do. This was the Catholic day of contrition and gratefulness because Jesus was dying for you. I had books to read , I was grand.


Abbie – Good Friday – Rolling in the Dough


The pubs were always packed on Holy Saturday after the Long Good Friday Drought. Easter Sunday was another big party night to celebrate the resurrection. Easter Monday was always a National Bank Holiday and day of recovery.


To demonstrate that I wasn’t always a complete anti- Christ, when I was sixteen I lead the Euphonium Section for The Patrician Brass Band when we played for Pope John Paul II at the youth mass in Galway. He was the first ever Pope to visit my homeland.

JP2 – Original Cool Pope (me on right)

It was quite an odd set up. Because the biggest arena possible was needed for the public mass, they built the Altar on top of the tote, center field at the Galway race track. JP2 effectively said mass above the Off Track Betting. Rumor has it the Pope took advantage of the location and put down a tenner each way on Persian Sun, for the next weekends race meet.

The band was right there with JP2 in the VIP enclosure for the duration. A life lasting memory is having the 300,000 Catholics in attendance sing along with our Brass Band as we warmed them up with Beatles medleys, before the Pope helicoptered in. The day had a rock concert energy , punctuated with John Paul Two’s greatest hit “Young people of Ireland , I love you.”

JP2 – I’m on the right.

And Galway loved him back September 1979.


I went back out to the race track a couple of days later in our school mini bus with a team of teenage lads. We were retrieving folding chairs from the VIP enclosure. They were borrowed from our school auditoriums.


I found the police officer tasked with guarding the Popes altar busy cutting out chunks of the carpeting with a Stanley knife.

This door mat is similar in pattern and texture to the section cut and stolen by the police officer from the Popes carpet.

“You can make a few bob selling these, “ he said. “Here, take a piece for your mother.”
I took the irregularly cut piece of carpet. It smelled strongly of apoxy. Maybe the Pope himself had put his holy foot right there on this blessed nylon cutting . I gave it to my Granny. She put it in the Bible.


So for tonight’s binge list, I’m going with movies that featured an actor who played or met Jesus in a film.


Charlton Heston was the King of Sword and Sandal movies and he did meet Jesus briefly in Ben Hur. Charlton and Jesus met on the first Good Friday when it was still just known as Friday. Ben Hur is worth watching for the incredible chariot race alone. This film holds the record the most Oscars won and is a one meant for a huge screen.

Take your hands off me you damn filthy ape.


But my Heston recommendation is possibly one film that’s on the most hated by Christian Creationists List. The original Planet of The Apes still holds up. A lost space expedition crashes on a planet where apes rule and humans are enslaved. Few scenes bother me, since I was a child, as much as the first sighting of those apes coming through the field on horseback. There also has never been a better , more surprising, final scene in film history than in Planet of the Apes.


Willem Defoe was an odd choice to play Jesus in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. Didn’t anybody tell Marty that Jesus had a British, not American accent. This film has a wonderful Peter Gabriel world music score but from a viewing standpoint it’s for full on Scorsese fans only. I found it slightly silly.

Ryan – Studying Again


When I feel like watching silly Jesus, it can only be The Life of Brian – Monty Pythons story of unfortunate Brian, the kid born in the manger next door to Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s Bethlehem lodgings. This film was banned in Ireland on release for its sacrilegious theme. I got to own and hear it on vinyl before seeing it years later on VHS.


And now more than ever, as is chorused to Brian on his crucifix….

🎶Always look on the bright side of life🎵

My Willem Defoe movie choice also stars Gene Hackman. Mississippi Burning recounts the FBI investigation into the 1964 disappearance of three civil rights workers in Jessup County, Mississippi. It’s loosely based on the true events. The two actors burn up the screen together.

Callum Fortnighting

A History of Loneliness, by John Boyne, is the fictional life story of a good, if innocent priest in modern Ireland. The book deals with Ireland’s blissful ignorance towards the actions of the Catholic Church, starting with young Fr. Ogdens priestly beginnings in 1962.

John Boyne is one of Ireland’s finest contemporary novelists. His novels are that rare combination of smart and readable.


Well we all have our own ways to amuse ourselves these days. My good friend Jacko collects and paints Remote Control Cars. Some of these models travel up to 55mph. Jacko likes to take his vehicles to the rough terrain of the Staten Island Dump on weekends and run down foraging rats (or Dump Bunnies as they are affectionately referred to by SI locals). Sean will usually finish them off with his BB gun. Much like the golf courses in New York State, Sean got word this week that the dump has been closed to rodent hunting until after April 29th. Keep on Trucking Sean!


Cathal Doesn’t Like To Lose
Brother Mark Sporting The Quarantine Look
Great Forsythia Good Friday

Coronavirus Days 28 – Manhattan


At this stage in my life I’m far longer gone from Ireland than I ever spent there. I’ve considered New York my home for decades.

Park Avenue 6PM

I’ve lived in Manhattan for almost 30 years. I’ve resided on the Upper West Side, the West Village, East Village and now Park Avenue. I’ve worked mid town in publishing at 666 5th Avenue, home to Top of the Sixes; I’ve programmed in an office overlooking Times Square and now our offices overlook Ground Zero, in the Financial District. I was with my colleagues and friends downtown, just blocks from the Towers when they fell. I’ve marched in the NYC St. Patrick’s day parade. I was drunk in almost every Irish pub on the Island over the years. I got my citizenship in Federal Plaza. I met and married Stacey in New York. We bought our homes here.


I think this all qualifies me as a dyed in the wool New Yorker. If you don’t think so, well fuck you too buddy. That New York enough?

5th Ave Mid Town Rush Hour


I’d seen it all in this town . And today I wanted to see what it looks like as a ghost town. I felt entitled to my curiosity. And now I had a valid excuse to go in and visit my city. Stacey is getting back to New York State this weekend and had items she needed from the apartment.


I was heading in.


I found a mask some painter had left in the garage. It was a little crispy, dusty and smelled of turpentine. But it was something. After figuring the rubber bands went around my head, not my ears, it fit me quite well. I couldn’t find gloves but I found sandwich sized ziplocks. They’d do the trick. Also, they might be handy if I picked up bagels in a deli anywhere. They were a little hard to manage at the gas pump.

Finger Lickin No Good


The drive was easy, the traffic light. It was the fastest time I’ve ever made from Ancramdale to Manhattan. I drove the avenues all they way south once I hit the Island, to get a good look at the place. Harlem was still hustling, half the people wore masks and the other half without looked unconcerned. The street population thinned to nothing as I went further downtown, traveling along Central Park East, towards our two bedroom apartment on Murray Hill. Those CPE residents had most likely absconded to their out of city homes.


I pulled the Escalade out front of my 36th street apartment building and called out so Mo could see my manly new bearded look. I put on my used mask. Mo, our friendliest of doormen, greeted me with a big smile I think. He had a mask on too.

Central Park East – 5:50 PM


Our apartment was all good. I located my hidden stash of toilet paper ; packet up Stacey’s mail and the bag she needed; grabbed some more books I didn’t need; had my packages sent up; ran the dishwasher and turned back around in 25 minutes. I also found a box of surgical gloves I bought some time back. I’d needed them because I kept attaching my fingers to foreign objects when fixing them with Gorilla Glue.


I could hear lots of activity from the other five apartments on the sixth floor but I didn’t see another person in my coming and going. I came within 10 feet of only one person in the whole of my Manhattan excursion – Doorman Mo.


I really enjoyed the five hour round trip drive. I got to sing my little titties off to my Eurotrash Amazon playlist.

36th All Good


Duran Duran’s Ordinary World did get me a little misty eyed as I pulled away from my city.


Driving through the city I thought of all the great New York movies I love. So tonight binge on five of my New York classics.


Walter Hills, The Warriors is probably now considered a cult movie. The Warriors , a Coney Island gang, fight to escape from Manhattan to their home neighborhood, over one violent night. Every other street gang in the boroughs is out to kill them. This is NYC at it’s filthiest. The movie was a gigantic box office on release, earning unlimited free publicity from the gang violence it sparked in theatres.


And speaking of escaping from New York, we have John Carpenter’s sci-fi classic, Escape from New York. In 1997 (the future) Manhattan is one giant maximum security prison where it’s everyman for himself. The president’s plane crash lands there. Only one man can get him out. Send in one eyed badass Snake Plisken to reluctantly rescue him. Kurt Russel just makes any movie better.


I flip flop over which is the greatest New York film ever made, but it comes down to two for me.

“Warriors, come out to plaaayyayyyyy.”

The Sweet Smell of Success, is seedy and nasty in beautiful black and white. Burt Lancaster is toxic as an over influential newspaper columnist, with an unhealthy possessiveness of his younger sister . Tony Curtis (career best) plays a self preserving slime of a publicist. They don’t write dialogue like this anymore. I want to go eat at the timeless 21 Club every-time I watch this masterpiece.

The car chase scene in The French Connection has never been bettered. The movie follows fanatical, break the rules Popeye Doyle, an obsessive cop trying to shut down a drug smuggling operation . Gene Hackman was a star for a reason and this film put him squarely on the superstar map. If you have never seen this movie before, I’m jealous; if you have watch it again. It’s unparalleled. This true story won 1971s Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, back when Best Picture meant something.

Unglued


I’m throwing in one contemporary movie. Gotham is New York and The Joker is a 1970s throwback. This film is a tense disturbing heartbreak. Joker got even better on a second watch and that’s my sign of a great movie. There will be a third viewing soon.


My book recommendation might be considered a romance. Jack Finney’s Time and Again sees a young man time travel back to 1883 in NYC to try and solve a mystery. This beautiful story is set against real events from Manhattan’s history. The Dakota setting, where this illustrated story all kicks off in 1970, has had of its own share of dark history since the book was first published.


This is not the type of book you’d expect from me Shelley!


Geek Trivia ; Finney also wrote Invasion of the Bodysnatchers .


There is a delightful documentary currently on Showtime featuring Duran Duran – Is There Something You Should Know. It’s only an hour long but it’s a fun throwback featuring the 80s MTV mega poppers. Respect!

Happy Good Friday.

The 21 Club.
The Sweet Smell of Success.

Coronavirus Days 26 & 27 – Drive

I got my first driving license at the age of 43.

I had put off learning for a couple of dozen years. But it was 2005. I was in my forties. I had run out of excuses.

Starting with: My family never had a car when I was growing up in Ireland. I never got the chance to learn.

Then: I can’t afford a car – why bother learning? 

Later: I live in London – I just use public transport.

Finally: I live in Manhattan; nobody needs a car in the city. 

And the always reliable: I’m a drunk. I’ll kill someone if I start driving.

Before

All that lame rationale went down the drain when we bought the country house in Ancramdale – a 120-mile hike from New York city. Stacey lost patience with my uselessness. She had done all our driving for a decade.

Stacey gave me my first couple of lessons upstate. This was not the greatest idea we ever shared. That initial approach ended when I crashed the passenger side of our little red Mitsubishi Lancer into a gas pump, in a filling station just outside Red Hook.

“Jesus Christ,” Stacey said.

“Fuck Me,” I said. 

We jumped out, switched passenger to driver, and did a Bonnie & Clyde out of there. We drove sheepishly back past the gas station half an hour later to ensure the place was not burning and there were no cop cars. It was not in flames. I was not arrested.

That accident cost me $3k. Our first car, my first repair bill, not my last

After

My punishment was swift. Wifey signed me up for ten professional driving lessons in Manhattan. I was to have my trial by fire in New York City. For my first lesson I was picked up by a south American lad, with meagre English, in a brown coupe with the passenger side mangled.

“What happened? I asked.

“Was hit by bus. 14th street,” he responded. “Very bad. Not my fault. Bus no good.”

I was so bored today I mopped the floors. The bathrooms came out well, but the bleach seems to have left white stripes on the wooden floors.

This was all very ominous as the instructor had just picked me up on the very same 14th street, right by our apartment. There were a lot of buses around. I didn’t feel confident about this endeavor.

The first lesson I learned that day was to never display a learner sign in Manhattan. I was honked at, fingered at, cut off, tortured by yellow cabs. My big L was a beacon for traffic abuse.

But, I earned my driving stripes the hard way, navigating the big smoke. I got my first license a few weeks later, on August 16th, my actual 43rd birthday. The driving school had me drive out to a desolate neighborhood in Staten Island for my test. It’s the easiest place to pass in the State. Figures.

Oh Deer.

I have had a litany of accidents since originally crashing into that gas pump. I’ve taken out several smaller animals and one large one. I ripped the bumper off my Volvo convertible reversing out my garage door. I ran over my BBQ grill in my driveway – it came speeding out of nowhere. I have also crashed into Stacey’s Escalade in our front yard.

When I hit the deer in my Infiniti convertible, here on Route 82, I had the hood down. A mess of legs and antlers flew over my head. That dozy doe died in the ditch. My blood and fur front covered grill looked like a poster for CSI Ancramdale. It was around then Ms. Geary advised me to lose the mid-life crises. From then on my cars had solid roofs.

Anyway, these days I still feel like a teen with his first license. It’s part of the reason I drove 11,000 miles across the country in 2018. The origin of this blog.

After My Mid Life Crises

All this was my long and winding road to tonight’s recommendations.

Drive

In Drive, Ryan Gosling, all kinds of cool, plays a highly skilled Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. He is icy, distant and dedicated to his craft. But as in all Noir, he falls hard for a dame and as we know, no good deed goes unpunished. This is a tightly wound ride with bursts of extreme violence. And I mean extreme. Dig that pulsing Tick of The Clock score opening scene. It was my movie of the year in 2011.

When I decided to take my cross-country sabbatical in 2018, my friend Zac recommended the non-fiction book Blue Highways (1982). The first-time author, William Least Heat-Moon, lost his job and his wife, took the few dollars he had and drove the back roads of the USA for months in his van. This meandering tale is warm and life affirming. A remarkably beautiful first time work. If your feeling a little housebound this might give you wheels.

My friends Kieran and Ken both started their recommendations for the F1: Drive to Survive (Netflix) the same way.

“I have no interest in Formula One. I don’t know anything about the sport. I’ve never watched a Formula One race but….”

Hey Alfie. I pulled this big tick out of my back last night. You warned me about country living.

But…. F1: Drive to Survive it is a totally absorbing documentary series. I have watched the first of two seasons and it is dramatic, riveting and exciting. The race footage is intense and remarkable; the in car cameras put you front and center of the action. You will get caught up in the characters fight for position and their back stories. The first season follows the 2018 F1 season across the globe. The 10 episodes are each short, hovering around 30 minutes. The bigger your screen and louder your speakers the better.

Happy Bitthday Aisling

My niece Aisling turned 16 today. She is back home in Headford, Co. Galway. Aisling is the best. She is an excellent athlete and an ace student. Aisling made the Under 16 County Team this year. We are all very proud of her.

Aisling knows the way to Uncle Karl’s heart. She laughs at my jokes. Happy Birthday Aisling!

Happy Birthday Aisling

Coronavirus Days 25 – A Surprise Blowing


It always scares the shit out of me when someone arrives at my door up here in Ancram. I’m at the top of the hill and I never see them approaching, I didn’t hear a peek and the next minute there are two giant pickups at my garage door. The only thing scarier is the creepy Jehovahs that make the trek.

Bye Bye Christmas ! Hello Crucifixion!
I finally packed it all away. Where’s that big crucifix and the bunnies?


I think I must be financially supporting the whole local community. Three people from the caretaking service we use turned up to blow leaves. Big Jeff and his crew were on the job. All a surprise to me.

I watched for a bit out the top window and I thought maybe they just like the swirly effect of foliage in the air. I’m not sure the leaves are actually moving anywhere. Two hours blowing seems slow progress. They seem to be isolating leaves individually based on progress. My fucking head was ringing from the multi blower noise right outside the kitchen on the back deck. I was working. Try training half a dozen consultants in Bangalore on Zoom with that as background noise and the United Nations of accents to contend with.

You Blow.


So much for essential work in Columbia County.


They did a great job though and no more raking needed from me. I couldn’t see Big Jeff anywhere during the process. He’s not a man can hide easily.


At some stage during this crises I will actually remember to bring a reusable bag with me to the supermarket. They are coming out with a colorful collection in these stores though. Maybe they’ll be eBay collector virus days paraphernalia someday.

Cowering


The first season of War of the Worlds, the new alien invasion series finished very interestingly on EPIX/Amazon Prime last night. The minimalist, modern version of the old alien invasion story spans multiple European countries. This updated version, starring Gabriel Byrne, is unsparing and realistic. It relies on story and character, not heavy FX, to carry the tense plot. The sparse use of FX in the series is hugely effective. It’s definitely worth binging these eight tight episodes. It’s one of the smartest and scariest series I’ve seen in a while.


I have a thing for movies set in the snow, and The Thing (1982) is my leading candidate for best group in isolation film. A team of researchers, in the Antarctic, discover a buried alien craft. An entity is released that can imitate any life form. The researchers start to get killed. Who in the crew is the alien? I jump a mile at the blood testing scene even after seeing this film 20 times.

War Of The Worlds


John Carpenter made some of the finest cult movies of the 70s and 80s and this is a doozy. His movie scores are infectious. I saw him perform all his works on his Themes concert tour in 2018. That was a bucket lister for me. I scored an excellent Escape from New York tee shirt – which ironically I did four weeks ago.

My Favorite T

Enders Game is the classic sci-fi novel about stopping an alien invasion. Children are drafted into Battle School and trained to fight the (unfortunately named) Buggers, an interstellar threat. Author Orson Scott Card won the Nebula and Hugo Awards, Sci-fi’s biggies, for both Enders Game and the thought provoking sequel , Speakers of the Dead.


Now I see why those leaf dudes were here as long as they were. Big Jeff, who owns the caretaking service, knows I will get into our swimming pool when the water is still unreasonably cold. I grew up in Galway and neither the bay nor the canals were ever warm.

Impending Shrinkage

Jeff opens up our swimming pool for me earlier than would be considered normal every year. Describing our giant tub as a swimming pool is generous . It’s a white trash above ground built into the top deck special. My visiting Texan friends mistook it for a hot tub a couple of years back. I’ve had two of these crappy pools collapse in the last decade, after severe freezing.


But even by my frigid swimming standards opening the pool In April is a tad early. It’s technically still winter.


I don’t mind the cold Jeff, but I’m not a fucking Eskimo .

Pussy has passed.

My friend Brian Geary just let me know that Honor Blackman died today, at the grand age of 94 (not Covid). Blackman played the iconic Pussy Galore in the 1965 Bond classic, Goldfinger.

Sean Connery in a rare statement said he was shaken by the news, but hasn’t stirred from his Bahamas home.

Pretty Pretty Nice Here Today
Hi Mom

Coronavirus Days 23 & 24 – Lawyers

Stacey and Fumonia B have had a great 2020 riding season in Florida. With all the goings on Stacey stayed and worked in Wellington the past month and got to ride frequently. Why not – with the good weather and certainly not as insane as NYC yet. Wellington is where those horse people compete during the winter season. It’s Nirvana if you are into horses. They give me a rash.

A Good Season for Stacey & B

I golfed yesterday at my club. The first official round of the season.


The golf course was as busy as I’ve ever seen it. Another small upside to this craziness is that people are walking the course. I always have.
It was a pristine day and I got out with Trey again. We bumped into four of my buddies out there – bumped from a safe distance. All four are equally unshaven and disheveled. I still believe I look the most manly. At the end of all this lunacy we should have a charity shave off! How can I organize that?

Trey on 13

I did binge through the latest season of Ozark. The third maybe the best. Intense!

I have been reconnecting with a lot of friends these last few weeks. It’s one other positive aspect in this mess.

Like myself, my friend Kara Owens has a weekend escape outside the city. Kara has had some beaver problems over the years. Much like my ground hog that beaver likes to chew on her wood. Kara has had only one distant beaver sighting so far this year, but Kara is primed for resumed spring gnawing. Everyone should have a pet name for their little furry friend . Kara nicknamed hers Bernie Beaver. I call my groundhog – Fucking Groundhog.

Ken and Kara have escaped NYC and are working out of their Bethel NY retreat these days.

Ken, Kara, Cash & Gingerbread at their Lake Front Home

I’m going with a lawyer theme for my recommendations, simply because I’m married to one.

The Verdict, stars Paul Newman as a down on his luck ambulance chaser. He gets one more chance at the big time when he’s handed a medical mal-practive case. This one is directed by Sydney Lumet and written by David Mamet. Court dramas don’t get better pedigree than that. That closing scene just rings in your head long after the end. This is possibly my favorite Paul Newman performance.

When you have finished The Verdict, follow it up with 12 Angry Men, Lumet’s tight jury room masterpiece.

Presumed Innocent is the mystery/courtroom novel that spawned a multitude of imitators. A prosecuting attorney, Rusty Sabich, is assigned the case of his colleagues rape and murder. The novel, by lawyer turned author Scott Turow, still ranks as best in breed. Turow is a great writer and storyteller.

Better Call Saul

The Presumed Innocent film adaptation, starring Harrison Ford, stays true to the book and is definitely worth a viewing too. The film has one crushing last line, as does the book.

I haven’t recommended Breaking Bad as a binger, because I’m assuming everyone has already watched it. And if not, drop everything else you are viewing and start it. Without fear of contradiction, it is one of the greatest three television series ever made.

So for those that have not already started the series, Better Call Saul, is right up there with the best. Saul follows the back story of con-man/lawyer Jimmy McGill, as he transitions into sleazey Saul Goodman and before he worked for Breaking Bad’s Walter White. We also get a little taste of where Saul landed post Walter White.

Jack Mc Donnell is having a hard time getting any work done in Bermuda.


My golf club did close down the practice range again, after just four days open. Too many idiots couldn’t stick with the guidelines.

I just realized next week is Easter. There will not be a lot of crucifix kissing this Good Friday I’d imagine. I have to say of all the Catholic ceremonies that one was always a bit on the unhygienic side. The Priests thumb stuck back your throat with the Holy Communion was one thing, but kissing a damp Jesus was always a bit off.

Perfect Golf Day


Since there’s not a lot of tooleing around going on, I may get a little less consistent with this blogging .

Distant Beaver Shot.
Full Protection for my Buddy Mark McGarvry. He took a break from Manhattan.
More Raking

Coronavirus Days – Leaves & Porn

I took a vacation day. I was so bored I raked leaves.


Who’s that loser in mythology who’s always rolling the boulder up the hill? I feel a bit like him, raking leaves in the middle of a forest.

Kieran’s Early Planting Mishaps


Kieran O Mahony, my best friend back in Ireland, had asked me what to recommend a good hardy, ground cover plant. He has a space in his extensive back garden and he does not mind something a bit invasive. With the golf clubs closed, Kieran has a lot of time on his hands. He’s turning back to his roots.


Kieran, for your requirement I think I’d recommend the Lamium maculatum, or Dead Nettle, as it is commonly known. It grows to just four inches high and will add a pink liveliness to your Salthill garden when it blooms late spring. This tough plant carpeting will thrive in shade. Its a beautiful addition to any flower bed and a hard little nugget to kill. I’ve had very good luck with this ground cover on the slope by my garden shed.

Dead Nettle and Dick Weed


Keep your gardening questions coming Kieran. I have some thoughts on Forsythia you may like to implement. I feel that tough bush would work well with your acidic soil.

Fools Errand


I cooked my first turkey burgers tonight. A perfectly pan fried medium rare with cheese. I mixed in some banana peppers. Tasted excellent.

I’ve added some more movie recommendations on the List page from buddies Vincent Eng and Eric Finver. Thanks lads!

On the staving off boredom front, Vincent tells me he started learning how to fly using a flight simulator app on his iPad. It’s his new form of meditation to keep sane during these insane times.

Sean Jackson – Rule Follower


I wonder if Pornhub is publicly traded? That’s got to be up there in viewership with Netflix these days. It’s probably not a great thing with the tissue shortage.

Note to self – buy Pornhub stock.

Boogie Nights (1997) movie tells the story of the meteoric rise of star Dirk Diggler in the Golden Age of the Porn industry. The 1970s soundtrack is well worth downloading. Mark Wahlberg has never been better and his real talent is revealed late in the movie, in an obvious homage to Raging Bull. What guy doesn’t loooooove Heather Graham as Roller Girl?


This film garnered Burt Reynolds his only ever Oscar nomination as auteurist porn director , Jack Horner. Burt was a wonderful movie star but a lousy actor. Go watch Deliverance co-starring Burt too, one from my best films ever list. Not everyone finds it rewatchable.

Boogie Nights


Boogie Nights is my favorite film from director Paul Thomas Anderson film. Many consider There Will Be Blood, from Anderson, the greatest movie of the last decades. I don’t.


Boogie Nights is 155 minutes of rollicking entertainment. It’s an absolute rewatchable.

The Butterfly Effect, the seven part podcast from Jon Ronson, details what happened to the world when it was given unlimited free online porn by Pornhub. This brodcast strands off in multiple directions – covering high finance, crime, lives destroyed and a very unique mystery surrounding stamp collections. It’s a riveting , often hilarious podcast.

Porno, the sequel to Trainspotting, is set ten years after the original. The Irving Welsh novel follows many of the original characters, now involved in the Amsterdam Porn industry. All the action is old school skin mag, pre internet.

I need scissors.

Coronavirus Days 21 – Deadwood

I stepped outside once all day and took a photo with this owl planter. That’s about as exciting as it got.

I have scheduled a vacation day tomorrow. It is a strange concept these days. My intention is to golf. My club is officially opened. I so love saying “My Club”. As Daniel Craig correctly claimed in Layer Cake, “Everybody wants to walk through a door marked Private.”

As a positive side to all the goings on in the world – I’ve been eating better. In the dozen years we have lived in our Manhattan apartment, I have cooked once. We order in every evening, always too much and never anything healthy. The one time I did cook in the apartment was Christmas Day 2016. When I tried to turn the oven on it wouldn’t work. The super got the oven working for me. I haven’t used it since.

I may only have cooked there only once but I did it right.

When Stacey (mystery wife) and myself first stared courting, she once brought me breakfast in bed. It was a coke and crackers and plastic wrapped cheese on a paper plate. I laughed.

“That’s the last fucking time I’ll ever bring you breakfast,” Stacey responded gently.

I had a hangover. I ate the crackers and cheese. Stacey remains true to her threat to this very day. I do all the cooking. I prepare my own crackers and cheese.

When I say I’m eating healthier recently I of course mean home cooked meat and potatoes. Nothing green or steamed.

Missing Wife Last Seen on Horse

To prove I’m not a complete narcissist, I’m adding a new page for Lists on my Blog. This was prompted by an extensive list of documentary recommendations from Ken Brandt. This will be the first shared List. 

“Right on! I’m as excited as Steve Martin from The Jerk when he made it into the phone book!” Ken exclaimed, when I told him he’d be the first entry on my exclusives Lists page.

Send on your your list of entertainment recommendations and I’ll share it there.

My mother loves Ian McShane. Once again on that Honeymoon in London, Maree saw McShane in his first film The Wild and The Willing. She also loves the series Lovejoy, a darling with the PBS set. It all sounds too nice for me.

Deadwood

I love Ian McShane because he played Al Swearengen, the foul-mouthed saloon owner and conniver in the brilliant series Deadwood. Deadwood, the greatest television western ever produced, ran for 3 seasons on HBO and concluded with a two hour move in 2019, after a 14-year hiatus. On a basic level the story charts the growth of Deadwood from a camp to a bustling town. But this is not your basic Western.

Swearengen

I’m sticking with Deadwood as my book recommendation. The 1986 novel by Peter Dexter comes at the town’s history from the angle of Wild Bill Hickock and his best pal Charlie Utter. The two other books I’d also recommend by Dexter are award winner Paris,Trout and The Paperboy.

Much as the punch count multiplies as you move from Rocky movie to Rocky movie, the body count just gets bigger and bigger with every new John Wick movie. The John Wick films are brain dead, highly stylized, gun-fu actioners. They are exactly what they are supposed to be. The better action films recently have made a return to old school stunts and away from computer generated action, as John Wick does . Watch the making of documentaries to see how much Keanu commits to training for these roles. The dude is in his fifties. I may just watch all three back to back tomorrow. That’s a vacation day.

Continental Hotel

The John Wick connection? Ian McShane plays Winston. The proprietor of the Continental Hotel, the assassin safe haven downtown Manhattan.

I’m seeing ants in the kitchen. Already!

Coronavirus Days 20 – Bond & Bored

I’m a James Bond baby.

My parents, Albert & Maree, were on Honeymoon in London in November 1962. That’s when the first James Bond film, Dr. No, was premiered. They got to see the original Bond in London when it opened. Dr. No is the one where hot bikini clad Ursula Andress emerged from the ocean glistening, knife on hip, conch in hand and gets some underneath the mango tree action. Later, Daniel Craig, would look equally hot coming out from the waves wearing his powder blue tighties in Casino Royale.

I’m getting off track.

Seemingly my parent’s Honeymoon was far more “Albert, Yes!” than “Dr. No.” I was born in August 1963.

On to Number Two

There wasn’t a lot of Bond viewing done by my parents in the next 10 years. There were five of us O’Tooles spawned.

Starting young in Galway, Saturday afternoons were usually a double feature of Connery’s Bond movies and Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns at the sticky Town Hall Cinema. I once saw a screening in that theatre of Jaws & Jaws II. They showed Jaws II first. Took a bit of the tension out of Jaws.

Geek Trivia: Quint (Robert Shaw) from Jaws was the villain in the second Bond movie From Russia With Love and I worked with the wife of Peter Perkins who was Robert Shaw’s stunt double in the best Bond fight ever in the train carriage.

Everyone’s got their favorite Bond and their favorite Bond movie. Mine are Goldfinger, the gold standard, and Sean Connery, all charm and menace. Daniel Craig is my clear second and I think Casino Royale and Skyfall are not just excellent Bond movies, they are excellent movies by any standard.

Goldfinger

As a binge recommendation, I’m going with Bond movies. They were made to be entertaining and they just are. Pick your favorite Bond and put on one of his films.

If you have never read an Ian Fleming Bond novel, I’m recommending that you do. The originals now work very well as period pieces. Unlike the movies, the books do not deal with the cutting-edge technologies of their day. It means the books age better. Two of the Bond novels I enjoyed most are, New York set, Live and Let Die and, one not set in New York, From Russia With Love (JFK’s favorite book).

There have been other Author’s continued writing Bond novel’s since Fleming’s early demise. They have mixed results. A very good one is Solo by renowned Author William Boyd. It picks up at Bond’s 40th birthday.

So fucking bored I started putting away the Christmas decorations.

Bond books are all short reads.

So here in Chronological Order of Bonds, are some of the best movies starring an ex-Bond. It’s a bit listy.

The Hunt For Red October: Sean Connery as a Russian Submarine Commander steals a nuclear sub and must avoid his countrymen and get it to the USA. This is a tense, smart thriller and worth watching, if only to hear the only Russian commander ever with a Scottish accent. “Tonight we shail into hyssstory.” Go Sean! Connery won his only Oscar for De Palma’s prohibition flic The Untouchables . Put that one on your list too. In that film Sean does the worst Irish accent ever. But you all know his bring a knife to a gunfight quote.

So fucking bored I cleaned the counters.

The Kentucky Fried Movie : George Lazenby, the Aussie Bond you all forget on trivia night. He gave up acting after one Bond and only has a cameo in this ridiculous film. The sketch comedy ages terribly in parts, is completely non-PC, but some bits are still hilarious.

The Wild Geese: Roger Moore as an Irish mercenary! He’s part of a team lead by Richard Burton sent to rescue a kidnapped African leader. Its pretty awful but it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Anything with Richard Burton I’ll watch. Nothings a bigger guilty pleasure than Burton in The Medusa Touch.

Flash Gordon (1980): Timothy Dalton is just the co-star, wearing a kinda Robin Hoody costume. But I’ll use any excuse to recommend this cult classic 1980 sci-fi film. And Ted the talking bear loved it.

So fucking bored I went to the driving range.

The Ghostwriter : Pierce Brosnan plays an ex-British Prime Minister who hires a ghostwriter to finish his autobiography. The previous ghostwriter was murdered, and so starts this excellent Martha’s Vineyard based mystery. The book, The Ghost by Robert Harris is well worth picking up. I’ve a copy in my office when you’re back!

And to our final James Bond, Daniel Craig in Layer Cake. My top neo-noir British gangster film of the past twenty years stars Craig, pre-Bond. He’s a cocaine dealer doing that one big last deal before he gets out. We all know how that usually works.

I was a little bored today.

Maeve is finishing her first Harry Potter.

Coronavirus Days 19 – Nature

Here’s a little known fact about me. I do a lot of gardening.

At One With The Soil

On the positive side of this lockdown, I will get a head start on my garden this year.

We usually only get to our Ancramdale house on the weekends. I have a big garden and take care of all the planting and weeding myself, for all the beds surrounding the house. The acres in front are brush-hogged by neighbor Big Lou. Brush hogging is not something you do to a pet pig; it involves a tractor, some big blades and tall grass.

Tooleing Around The Garden

I have been building out the garden year by year for the last 17. Fortunately, I seem to be immune to poison ivy and poison oak and I’m proficient at pulling out deer tick. Wildlife abounds here. I have encountered a four-foot garden snake out back. He was feeding on the little froggies in the little pond I had. It got rid of the little frogies.I got rid of the little pond.

A Baby

My biggest problem with nature to date has been a fucking ground hog chewing away on my front porch rocker. He favored the red rocker not the green for some reason. Perhaps like me, he never eats anything healthy.

That furry little shit was living under my garden shed. I was told that you could drive out groundhogs using kitty litter. I tried pouring it down the critters hole. I just ended up with sandy blue crap all over my lawn. Somebody should have explained it was used cat litter that works. I refuse to pee down a groundhog hole, another option suggested. Those things bite.

Fair Warning

I tried the humane approach. I left warning signs. No good.

Big Lou offered to shoot the waddling rodent in the head with his 22.

I don’t have groundhogs anymore.

I also had issues with birds nesting above my outdoor speakers. More of my first world problems. The concern was that the flood lights above would set the nest above on fire. There have been home fires caused this way in the County. This was another story from Big Lou. He was a volunteer fireman and a man never short a tale of doom.

My Outdoor Speaker.
These were not bad with a sprinkling of chives.

I was advised to place a fake owl underneath the speaker. That would scare nesting birds away. The starlings built their nest anyway and shit on my plastic owl.

I took down the speakers

I was defeated by nature again.

For those of you that have seen Animal House, Donna Riley has represented the good angel on my shoulder since 1992! Donna, who’s kept me on my Mission From God, told me recently that her favorite movie is The Blues Brothers. I’m all in for that.

Who? Loser.

I’m so clever. I just slipped in subtle references to two movies directed back to back by John Landis. Religious references no less. Both films star John Belushi and both are still hilarious, if not still politically correct.

I first saw The Blues Brothers when my father rented the film on VHS over a weekend. When he watched it with me that Sunday afternoon it was for his third time in two days. It is that much fun.

The Saturday Night Live alum have made some pretty awful movies over the years. This is not one of them. For a start, the director John Landis had some pedigree. Then of course, there’s John Belushi, on the hot start of a short career. There’s also Dan Ackroyd at his finest, before he ballooned. The movie also features a who’s who of Soul and Blues superstars awkwardly blending their timeless hits into the script.

Jesus! It’s Donna Riley!

The Blues Brothers is basically a road movie. Jake & Elwood Blues need to put the band back together, to raise money and save the orphanage they grew up in.

My personal favorite song, in Blues Brothers, is the Rawhide theme performed in the bar cage. That’s because I like both kinds of music – country and western.

Blues Brothers features the biggest car pile up in film history. These are real cars; we had no CGI in 1980, this was old school stunt driving.

You Better Think! Blues Brothers

The concert finale is a hoot. And as Jake & Elwood sang back then, and now more so than ever – “Everybody, needs somebody.”

Geek trivia: Ridley Scott based the opening shot of Blade Runner (my favorite film of all time) on the opening shot of Blues Brothers. Why do I know this shit?

Completing the John Landis/SNL circle, there’s Trading Places. This 1983 comedy features Akroyd as a stuck up broker and Eddie Murphy as a street hustler. Their roles are switched as part of an elaborate bet.

The movie also features Jamie Lee Curtis’ boobies.

Merry New Year!

Rescuing Stacey

The Blues Brothers started as an SNL sketch, which connects to my book recommendation: Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests. The history of the show is recounted in short excerpts of dialogue from dozens upon dozens of interviewees – basically anyone and everyone ever associated with the show.

The book is gossipy, fact filled and great fun. I am a drop by fan of SNL at best so I can only imagine how much more enjoyable it would read to lifelong viewers.

You get to hear how Larry David never had any of the pieces he wrote as an SNL staff writer produced on the show. He later turned his failures into Seinfeld plots. Tales are told of Bill Murray punching out Chevy Chase (sweet).

I read this large volume on hardcover. Brienne also recommends the Audio book version.