Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thing 140 Make A Scarecrow

First of all, there are no, or at least very few crows out my back garden. Building a scare crow seems redundant. We've no crows to scare. Only other option is building an inanimate object in the hope that it magically becomes sentient and we all go on a magical journey. No? Ya that's stupid. How 'bout we just build a Token Northy Scare Crow to replace the housemate who's been out of the gaff for the last month? Okay. Good. Let's do that.

Couple of jokes that I have toget out of the way now: Token Northy has scared off his fair share of birds in his time. Well, Token Northy did always want a brain. Jeez, did Token Northy lose a few pounds? Token Northy looks a little stuffy these days... My god, I could keep going, but I might actually die laughing at my own hilarity... ahem.Spoon loves it...

Making a scarecrow is surprisingly easy. Two broom sticks, some crutches, an old railing, a paint can and a picture of your slightly demented house mate. Done and done. Also, some of his clothes. Now that I think about it, making a scarecrow sounds kind of creepy and weird. Time wise though, it's not exactly taxing. Just remember the secret ingredient is duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape.

There's many things I'm learning since this Project started - that I can make-and-do with a small budget in a sharp space and time is just one example. It's guaranteed to frighten off crows, burglars, cats, cars, prospective mates, flies and Cork Football fans.

All of this for less than the time it takes to badly tape together a handful of stuff you didn't know was lying about your house? Can't go wrong.

Did you know that Scarecrows are actually still a valid tool for farmers? I saw one last week in Parteen and got a laugh. It just seems like it's anachronistic and belongs to a time long before now. We've millions of euros and we've advancements in farming technology and the most effective form of looking after crops from birds is a fake guy dressed in some old clothes. I love it.

Now if only I had some crows to scare... or I could just burn an effigy.... no? You spoil all my fun.
P.S. Looks like a real person, just very drunk... Am I right?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thing 139 Sarcastic for the Day

Pictured: Sarcasm in its cartoon form.

Oh yeah, sarcasm for a day. That's a brilliant idea. Genius. It won't be even a little bit awkward. You'll be totally fine being sarcastic all day. No one will object at all, and I won't sound like a complete clown, and no one will be offended...

Wrong. And that's not sarcastic. People did get offended. Many of them.

Sarcasm's a funny thing. In fact, it's a hilarious thing. If it's done right, and with correct timing, it can be honest to God, thoroughly, sidesplittingly funny. Think Father Jack in Ireland's favourite TV show; Fr Ted. "I'm so soooo sorry..."

For additional laughs, which my brand of "writing" cannot provide, click here.

A day spent being sarcastic is not fun. It's awful. Sarcasm is a language all of its own, and it's a language of extremism. There's no way to say, sarcastically, that you kind of like something. Cat Lady asked me today if I liked Lady Gaga. If I'd said; Nooooo. I hate Lady Gaga. She's terrible. She's unoriginal. She sounds the exact same as every other pop star in the whole world. What I'd mean is that I love Lady Gaga, and I think she's the most original person in the whole world. If I'd said; Ya she's amazing. I love her work. It's brilliant, unique and fresh. That would mean I hate her. I don't do either of those things. I like her okay, and I don't hate her. Try saying that sarcastically.

In fact, nothing can be middle of the road, sarcastically. And I'm a pretty middle of the road person, not sarcastically.

Conversation with the woman in the Credit Union was funny. She was not that impressed with my attempt at getting money. Because I said it sarcastically, she thought I was trying to lodge money. But i wasn't. But she didn't know. By the time we reached a point where I could get money, I actually wasn't sure what I wanted. Did I have money to lodge? What am I doing here?

The Frenchman has a thick skin. I've been calling him French for months and he's not objected. Pony Boy is used to me being a clown. So they're fine. Poor Cat Lady hasn't the head to put up with my nonsense. "Want to go for coffee?" No. That's a terrible idea. I'd hate that... "You don't have to be such a dick...

Seriously, everyone knows someone who you think is "sarcy". Did you think that they might have to put some serious effort into it? And if so, why would they? What's the point? As I say, every now and again, it's fine and funny, but all the time? Now I don't want to be your friend. Maybe that's why your bitter, and sarcastic, and the vicious circle continues...

Some of the lads in O'Connell's told me that sarcasm for a day wasn't really a challenge - and it has to be something new, and since I'm already sarcy it was neither new nor challenging. I promise... I'll never be sarcy again. Ever. Ever. Because I totally hate it now.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thing 138 Handbrake Turn

I'm no boy racer. That's a fact. Like everyone else who ever drove a car or even turned a key in an ignition switch, I think I'm excellent at driving, but I'm probably no better or worse than average. I also lack the necessary image and attitude. Pony Boy on the other hand, I think he could wear the "boy racer" tag and get away with it. He's edgy...

He's actually the one I had to go to with questions. Questions like; how does one pull a handbrake turn; how fast should the car be going; will it damage the car, or any part of it; where's my wallet; where'd I put that business card I was given the other day; are those my feet? The first three were relevant, the others were not, but that doesn't mean they weren't important.

Here's the science: Turning rapidly at a decent speed transfers the weight to the outside tyres. Slam on the handbrake; this apparently reduces the friction between the tyres and the road resulting in slide.

Science makes it sound crap. In real life it was cool. I was nervous about it. How sad eh? But I was. First time for most things is a nerve-wracking affair. And I didn't get it right at the first time of asking either. The first two times I wasn't going fast enough, but after that, I looked cool. And hard and stuff.

Alright I didn't. But I'm still glad I did it. It was an excellent Thing to do.

I got into an accident last December. Serious crap. Made an absolute mess of my car, and the bit that was worst of all was the lack of control. When you sit into your car, you expect a degree of control, when the car decides it's going right, while you tug on the wheel and beg it to turn left, you start to feel a tad frightened. Which is what I expected from the hand-brake turn. It wasn't like that though. It was much smoother than I thought it would be.

It's not like I'm planning to ever do it again. Like I said, I just don't have it in me to be a boy racer. And unless I get into a high speed shoot out with some bad guys, while I try to save the girl, I don't think I'll need this skill.
Also I do look like a douche when driving my car. I look like that? Really? Aww well.

Thing 137 Shipwreck

I've a list for Things to do for The Project. For the first time since I started, fate or whatever you want to call it kicked in, and gave me my Thing for the day without asking. If The Project is about new experiences, then this one has to be high up there on the list of Things I'm not likely to forget any time soon...

Blond Boss's house in Kerry is in a sheltered inlet. Sea water as smooth as glass. I took a kayak out on it for a spin on Friday evening, and it was spectacular. Because it's shoreline, but hidden there's no waves. Blond Boss, Monkey, Mermaid and myself decided we'd head for the beach on the boat. That's straightforward enough - we were going to do the Bury Me In Sand Thing. We packed the necessary provisions - my camera, Monkey's ipod, Blond Boss's camera, and some beer, obviously.

We should have guessed that things might go wrong when we snagged a nice man's fishing line as we passed by the shore. He seemed unimpressed. I spent a time laughing at Dr Zombie kayaking behind us - we're going faster I giggled as our motor powered boat headed out of the protection of the cove.

The swell was ridiculous. I'm not talking about small little choppy waves, I'm talking big swells, larger than us, picking up the boat and shaking it like a kids toy. Crucial to the execution of a successful beaching, is not presenting the broadside of the boat to the waves, so when exiting the cove, into open water, it means a quick sharp turn to the right so that the boat doesn't get whacked. Too quick a turn and you're headed for a cliff face - so don't do that. Make it a right turn, but not too right, if that makes any sense, which of course, it doesn't.

Two things to note: Monkey had never driven a boat before and Mermaid can't swim. That's why I picked that as the blog name. Mermaid - it's ironic. Get it? I'm a hoot.

So... we turned too right. Heading straight for rocks, cliff face about thirty feet in front. Turn left to get out of the way, but left presents the broadside of the boat. So turn a little left, but not too left. We were being whacked by waves as Blond Boss barked orders at Monkey, who did his best to keep us afloat, but they just kept coming. Ten feet from the rocks and a massive wave rocked us, Monkey couldn't get anymore control from the boat, which was still rocking when the next big wave slammed into the side of us, flipping the boat and throwing us all into the water.

Thank God Mermaid had a life-jacket on. She got a whack from the boat for her troubles, right into her shoulder. I got a bump on my head. Out of our depth and trying t o swim away from rocks while waves kept bashing us.

Monkey grabbed the anchor line of the boat, and swam for it, I did my best to help him out. The people on the beach... They watched. And did nothing else. It took us about half an hour to successfully swim to shore (only out of our depth - mine being shallower than the others, wee man that I am - for a few minutes), and drag the boat with us.

Scary stuff, there's no doubt about it. Proper fright.

Once we hit the safety of shore though, it was hilarious. Camera gone, so don't expect a lot of pictures, not for a little while anyway. Monkey's ipod, Blond Boss's camera and the beer all gone too.

For some reason I couldn't resist shouting "Wilson.... WILSON!!!" at everyone for a while. I think some people might be right when they say I'm a little dramatic. So it was never on the list, but shipwrecked is a pretty awesome Thing to have done. By the time we hit next weekend the story will be fifty times bigger, and there'll be dragons in it... I do tend to get carried away.

Thing 136 Send A Message in a Bottle

It's not an SOS to the world... it's a message in a bottle. Alright, enough Sting jokes already. One is more than enough. The modern world is a small little place. There's no where you can't go to in less than a day, and then there's email, telephones, and webcam. I rang Thorny Wire for a chat, he lives in Detroit at the moment, then I sent an email to someone in Cork. That's practically another country too. Except worse.

I jest, Cork people are lovely... ahem...

I was in Kerry, where there's less internet than there is in the rest of Ireland, so I'm late with the blogging, sorry about that. There's not a lot of Wireless signal in Barrow. What they do have is lots of scenery, lovely Tralee and miles of coastline. I like coastline. I like the sea in general. I like its grandness and how vast it is- that's because I'm little. I think we've covered this before. I mean, the chances of anyone ever receiving my message is about a billion to one... here's hoping. Considering the odds that would have to be overcome in order to reach someone, I thought I'd write something profound...

Here it is...

Dear Stranger,

That you’re reading this is a testament to chance. There are millions of reasons which, even barely aligned, should prevent you from ever laying eyes on this. You may not even understand these words, in which case, this message means the same to you as this sentence: hughtryfhyy fhryeldiciskd transmagadavan anbanjuality, syntex prodigy sassyboodle, bochra john de coppernich, ruction fain rain of fawn, the dumb-bells and the glossy peaks of Erin Go Brath…

So, in retrospect, good job.

So now you’re reading what I don’t expect human eyes to ever see again. I should make it profound. The message should be important. And so here it is:

Steven Gerrard is over-rated. He’s a good footballer, not a great one. I’ve won as many Premier League medals as Stevo.

This is the message I send into chance. It lacks the eternal significance of something more meaningful. But I guess I’m kind of shallow. Anyway…

I’m Dan. I write a bit, I do silly things for fun and hope that they teach me something, or at least give me a few laughs. Actually, I’d prefer the latter, I’ll just take the few laughs thanks.

Anyway, if you do ever get this I’d like to know your thoughts on Steven Gerrard, and on the possibility of you ever seeing this.

Drop me a mail – email address goes here… or check out some of the other silly things I’ve done – theproject366things.blogspot.com



I'll have you know I'm seriously committed to this project. So much so, that I drank most of a bottle of Rosé zinfandel. That'll tell you how much resolute I am. It was awful.

Message was fun though. Mind you, I feel a little bit bad about the pollution - I hope whoever finds it recycles.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thing 135 Speak Klingon

Despite the fact that Worf is in the picture up there - this is not a good Thing. In a Project which is characterised by a list which contains many, many stupid random tasks, it's really saying something to be able to put my finger precisely on the most stupid one I've done so far. And this is it.

I'm a Trekkie (for anyone who has a life, and doesn't know what this means, it's a Star Trek fan, except kind of intense). I've been one since I was small and wee. The Next Generation got me hooked, but I'd happily watch the originals (William Shatner is hilarious, even when he's not playing a fat racist lawyer), Voyager and even Deep Space Nine. If you're not aware (and I'll be judging you a little if you're not), Klingons are an important part of the Star Trek universe. A violent alien race who were the bad guys in the original series, but good guys when the new series came out. Mr Worf up there is Klingon. And also awesome.

Now, as I said, Trekkies are a rather intense bunch. And a little obsessive. So obsessive in fact, that they took the smattering of "Klingon language" that turns up in the show, and gave it grammar, syntax, oral history, a lexicon of verbs, nouns, pronouns and definite articles. They assigned tenses, conditional tenses and just about everything you need to have a fully functioning language. A fully functioning language for an alien race that doesn't exist, and was invented for television... and I give out about reality TV eh?

In a way it's a serious testament to how far some people go for their love of a show or brand. And I kind of respect it, probably just because I'm a Trekkie too. I do however acknowledge that it's massively stupid.

I had it in my head that when I sat down to do this, I'd impress the hell out of some of the nerds that I call friends with my Klingon, but I forgot that none of them are that nerdy. So when I told Spoon in Klingon that his mother has a smooth forehead (a massive insult in Klingon), he kind of nodded at me with a look that suggested that I should probably lie down for a while.

You see I'd dived into the interweb and found a dictionary, and a little sound recorded translator and I was all set to give a running commentary on the Simpson's episode in Klingon, except, well, that would be lame. Very lame.

So I decided to try it out on the pizza delivery man. Except I couldn't find a word for "thanks" so I just told him "happy birthday" in Klingon. Phonetically it looks like this: gosliv dativjav. Our pizza man had a Poland football jersey on, so I'm guessing he's Polish. I'm also guessing that he thought I was trying to speak Polish. Nope. I was wishing him a happy birthday in Klingon. Extra big tip for him, otherwise he won't come back to the house with the weirdo.

And there's the other problem. There's no way anyone else would ever know if I was speaking it or not. I could have walked around muttering random syllables at whoever was walking past me, and telling them that I just cursed their sock odour in Klingon, and who'd dispute me?

So to recap: Stupidest Thing on the Project so far.

By the way, if you're interested, have a gander at the Klingon English Dictionary.

I really need to try to be less of a giant nerd...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thing 134 Bingo

First and foremost, I have a complaint (when do you not have a complaint says you - that's right, I tell you what you say). No one shouts bingo. They kind of loudly say the word "check", which is crap compared to "bingo". Ask anyone. And it makes television highly misleading. I was looking forward to people getting real worked up and shouting. Doesn't happen apparently.
Except for Blond Boss. She shouts anyway, but that's because she's enthusiastic about stuff. Also, if there was money won for trying to will your numbers to come up, she'd be a millionaire. She'd have cleaned up all night. Dr Zombie is not so loud. But he is exceptionally funny. I decided I was shouting bingo if I won, and there'd be none of this murmuring shit... except I didn't win. Stupid bingo...
It's a simple game. And therefor difficult to explain. Also, I'm a bit thick at t he best of times, and as a result, this will probably not make a lot of sense. We'll give it a shot anyway eh? Okay then...

The first part of the game you're playing for a line. You card, pictured above, has the numbers 1 to 90 spread between six boxes. The announcer tells you which numbers are coming up, and you tick off the numbers on your card. What you want, for a small prize, is to get every number on a given horizontal line. Once that's won, you play for a much bigger prize. Now the announcer continues telling you what numbers are coming up, and you're trying to get all of your numbers in any given box ticked off, before someone else does.

Hey. That wasn't so bad. It kind of made sense. For someone who's just learned the rules. Too bad my iphone couldn't teach me that. I'd to get a tutorial from Dr Zombie... who got it from a nice elderly lady behind him.

That's another thing about bingo. It's not all old people at bingo. We weren't the youngest there by any stretch (mind you, we're getting on a bit, I'm not the lad I used to be.... fado fado...). I was expecting thirty or forty women, not unlike the dear old ladies in the Shreddies ads...
Pictured: Bingo sharp...
Instead what I got was about two hundred people, where the average age was about 40, or maybe just over, and there were men there too. Lots of them. Playing bingo. It's like all of my preconceived notions about bingo were just blown to tatters, and my bingo word turned upside down.

We're serious products of our generation mind you. We want it now, and we're bored of it ten seconds after we get it. We're enthusiastic right up till the time comes to expend some energy, then we're bored and require stimulants. Bingo was great craic for about an hour. Then okay for half an hour. Then boring for the last half hour. The game didn't change one iota in that time, we just got bored, because that's what we do unless you add stimulants... coffee for example... or booze... Just suggestions.

By the time we hit the last few minutes Dr Zombie was slowly trying to bludgeon himself into unconsciousness with a permanent marker... I guess things went downhill fast. And none of us won money.

Tell you what though - for a cheap, alternative to drink night out, you could do a lot worse. And if you win the money, you can blow it all on booze!

Thing 133 Light A Cigar With Burning Money

You know, this could have been done last night. Really I could have blogged on time yesterday, but I didn't, because I didn't feel well, and I'm disgusted with myself...

It takes a special kind of douche bag to light money on fire. Some people do it as an act to show their devotion to asceticism. Some people want to prove that they don't need money, that God is in their life, and he'll provide. Some people light money on fire, so they can light a cigar, which is so wrong, and so horrendous that it makes me a little queasy...
It's a cultural reference. Krusty the Klown does it on the Simpsons. It's done in American Psycho, and referenced in Agathe Christie books. It's seen as being the ultimate "fuck-you" to society. I don't want to say bad words to society. I like society. I live there. All my stuff's there. I do like a good cigar, but this one was ruined by virtue of the act of lighting it might have scarred my soul a little.

I picked a five euro note. A part of me said "go bigger", if you're going to feel bad about this anyway, you may as well go for a high denomination. Take a fifty and burn it to light a big fat Romeo y Julieta Number 3. But I couldn't. It was just all kinds of wrong.

Big Mac was back in town, and he was thoroughly horrified as well. Giving it to him would have been a much more worthy cause.

It has been done to an absolute extreme in real life you know. Ever hear of the K Foundation? Here's some details on them: K Foundation.

They burnt 1 million pounds sterling. 1 million pounds. I burnt a fiver and now I hate myself a little. They burnt one million. They also opened fire on their audience with machine guns full of blanks. So it's not like they've got the "sanity market" cornered.
So it's done. I get to join an illustrious group of rich people and douche bags who've burned money for the purpose of looking like they don't care. I have to admit - that photo up there does make me look a little smug right?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thing 132 Care Package

I was once away from Ireland for three weeks. Thereabouts anyway - a lot of drink was had, specific dates and numbers are hard to recall. Myself, Tiny Fairy, The Frenchman, Spoon and a few others. It was awesome. In the three weeks I was away I missed the following: Irish radio, the River Shannon, Lyon's Gold Blend tea, Dairymilk chocolate, Guinness... Three weeks I was gone. You'd think I was gone for an eternity. I guess this is probably why I'll never travel.

God Boy and Bandman come back home every couple of years and they fall into the Irish comforts like you wouldn't believe. Bandman puts on about two stone with every visit. He's a fat guy anyway, so it's hard to tell, but my God does he love it.

Thorny Wire hit the road for Detroit a few months ago, and he's been sorely missed. Old men in bars around the town have no-one to talk to about rugby matches from the '70's without him! He's gas like that. I know my own little brother well enough to know that the home comfort he misses the most isn't a pint of Guinness or an amble into the bookies of a Saturday afternoon, it's a cup of tea. A nice hot mug of scald as he says himself.

Problem is that Temper has my head confused so I can't remember if Thorny Wire falls into the Lyon's Tea or Barry's Tea camp... So I sent both. I guess I've ruined the surprise (unless he gives the blog a miss tonight), but there's a parcel full of goodness on it's way.
I'd to stop and think about the iconic things Irish people go mad for, and you can't get abroad. We've got our own little inventory of stuff. Taytos (we call all crisps Taytos we're so mad for them around here) are a big one. Tea is another. Nobody does chocolate like the Dairymilk. Rashers. Good lord do we love a nice rasher. Anything to do with breakfast really. We do love our breakfasts.
Then there's a Limerick Leader. I know you can get it online, but it won't be the same as sitting down for a beer or a cup of tea and reading the local stories. It's a funny thing about Irish people, we must be the only nationality that travels around the world to find other Irish people. First thing we do is hit up the Irish bar and laugh with some fella from Cork, because it's hilarious that we're both far away. And we do pine for the Irish things... I hope Thorny Wire likes it.
I got the piss taken out or me in work over it. You had to undertake a year long project as an excuse to be nice to your brother. Which sounds terrible. Poor Thorny Wire - I hope he likes it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thing 131 Scam Baiting

Ever get a scam letter through your door? I did, and I was chuffed to bits. It was like someone in some foreign part of the world just volunteered to be part of The Project. Thanks scammers. Sound out!

Basically, someone sends me a letter telling me that I won the Amalgamated European Summer Bonanza. I'm to receive 836,000 euro in prize money, and all I've got to do is send them on my bank details. Nice eh? I think that was pretty generous of them.

Obviously the idea is that I send the details, and someone takes my money. This is where scambaiters come in. Have a giggle for yourself. Scambaiters. They basically make the scammers jump through hoops. As long as the scammer thinks there's a payout at the end, there's pretty much nothing that they wont do to get their hands on your cash. So the baiters attach terms and conditions. It's hilarious.

So I decided I do mine... Here's the back story. I'm a medium sized business owner of a company called Feckarse Industries. I'm middle aged, and a little dim. I want to take the 800 grand that I've won and put it into the company pension fund, the idea being to let these people think there's a massive payout coming at the end of the road. In exchange I want them to hold up a sign that says "down with this sort of thing..."

Here's the letter I faxed (P.S. Who faxes things anymore?):

To Whom It Concerns,

I read with great excitement of my good fortune in scooping such a large prize as the Amalgamated Summer Bonanza. I don’t remember entering the competition, but it’s possible that one of my company’s employees did it on my behalf. That’s just the kind of thing they’d do. Once, one of them bought me a scratch card, but I dropped it in my tea, and of course it was ruined then. It’s also possible that Ethell, my wife (or the trouble and strife as they apparently say in London, not that I’d know of course, I’ve never been. I found Dublin was too big for me – I imagine London would frighten the socks off me altogether), could have bought me one of the tickets as well. Is it like the Euromillions? I heard that a woman in Limerick won it once and she went crazy afterwards or something to that effect. Is it the same lotto?

Anyway, enough of my babbling, I do have a habit of going on and on. The recent recession all over Europe hit my company hard, and we lost 30% of our pension fund, so would it be possible to have the money paid directly into my business pension fund account? I’d rather if the pension fund was topped up then me getting any of the money. I’d have no idea what to spend it on anyway, I know the cost of a pint of Guinness is going up, but I don’t think it’s in danger of hitting the 800,000 euro mark anytime soon! Ha ha. Just a little joke. I’m a terror for the little jokes. Once I left one of Ethell’s bras sticking out from Mark’s top drawer in work. Everyone could see the top of the bra sticking out, and it looked like he’d tried to hide it himself. It was gas altogether. He saw the funny side, thank god. Ethell was none too impressed mind you. She’s a holy terror when there’s a bee in her bonnet.

Anyway my company Feckarse Industries is a small company, employing 30 people in the West of Ireland. We make small toys and related products for Irish television shows. Fr Ted is probably our most popular show. I’m not sure if it’s popular in Europe. Have you heard of it? I’m also faxing you a picture of Fr Ted. Because of the confidentiality of your letter, I’ve not told the company accountant, plus, I’d like it to be a surprise. Will this cause any legal issues for you? Our pension fund account information can be faxed to you if it’s possible for you to lodge it directly into that account. You can email me directly at danieljmooney@yahoo.ie at your convenience. Also, the guys at work would get a great kick out of it if you could help us with some promotional material.

Maybe a photo with a giant novelty cheque? Even better again, would you be so kind as to pose for a picture holding a sign that says “Down With This Sort of Thing”. I’d be very grateful if you’d help me out with this, as business hasn’t been great, and I think this will help kick start company morale.


Dan Mooney

I really hope that I get something back. I'm seriously pinning some hopes on this... If not, at least I've had my fun. And I still have my money.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thing 130 Busk

There's a significant difference between good buskers and bad buskers - good ones view busking as a gig. They prepare, they've got a plan, they use their talent and they make some money. Bad buskers don't do those things - bad buskers play music on the street. And make you want to punch them in the head. That's kind of a talent right? Example of the second kind: didgeridoo players. I'm sorry mate, but that instrument doesn't actually carry a tune, so you're set-list isn't what one would call varied. The first ten minutes sounds exotic and unusual, the second ten minutes sounds like the first ten minutes, the third ten minutes sounds like impending violence...

Top Cat falls into the first category. He meticulously plans his busking session. He also generously allows his less talented friends to tag along of a muggy Saturday to "play the guitar" and sing a few songs. In order to get the feel for it, we did a rehearsel last night to pick the songs that suited me. Which is fine, sitting in Top Cat's living room, singing at the wall. It's not the same outside the Tourist Office in Limerick, people expect things from buskers - like talent and stuff... I've been on stage before, but this is a different kind of nerves.
It's the new thing for the tourist office. It's got its own little coffee shop and ice cream parlour. And of course, Top Cat makes his appearance Thursday to Saturday. Kind of ruins it to have some bum bring along his guitar to "play". I was afraid I'd scare off the tourists.
Setlist (in this order):
Wild Rover
Black is the Colour
(Galway Girl - because some kids walking by screamed at us for it...)
One Week
Folsom Prison Blues
Irish Rover
Green Fields of France
I'm Yours
Sweet Home Alabama
(July an encore... what a very generous and forgiving audience to ask for one of these...)

Our audience was a nice old man, who sat reading his paper, practically ignored us, and then made his way over to fire a handful of change in. Sound out. I thought we were ruining his day. Two Italian ladies who sat down after the old-timer had left and made the calf eyes at Top Cat - all the ladies do! There was Blond Boss, Spinette and Pixie Head who made lots of noise for us, and of course, my biggest fan turned up. My mom. Thanks ma. That's some heavy duty moral support. There were others too. Tourists passing in and out of the office, some locals walking in the park behind, a very hairy wino seemed to be loving it from a park bench, though it was hard to tell. He might have been talking to himself...

As I said, it's got its own type of nervousness. You're pretty much putting yourself out there for judgement. Takes a good solid type of musician to pull it off. That's why Top Cat gets full marks from me. He's got what it takes to do this regularly, I think I'd need way more practice before I'd feel comfortable, and I'd need someone like Top Cat next to me all the time. I just don't think I'd have the confidence to pull it off.
By and large though, buskers add a lot to a city. If they're good, they pick people up, put them in a good mood, add a buzz and positive vibe. Music's great for that stuff. If they're bad buskers, well, some of them will only do it once, and never bother you again... I promise! I'll not bother you again!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thing 129 Vegan For A Day

That's breakfast there. Bananas. Not a fry. Not even cereal and milk. Why? Because vegans are masochists. The Frenchman decided veganism is a "middle class, Western European fad" - and I think he might be right. Vegans don't eat any product of any animal. We're not talking about abstaining from meat, which is just vegetarian, we're talking milk, cheese, butter, eggs, even Guinness. Guinness for fuck sake. Because Guinness uses fish bladder in the refining process, vegans who've had a long day at work, and don't have work tomorrow, and want to pop around to the local with some friends can't have a pint of Guinness.

The question I have to ask is why? Why? Most websites tell me that it's because they care about animals. Do vegans think that cows care about giving milk? Cows that aren't milked regularly are in pain. Fact. Are they then torn apart by the idea that their milk is being used to make butter for your bread? Do they lose sleep at night thinking about it? I'd have assumed they'd be more insulted by "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter". Such is the concern of vegans for animals that you can't have muffins made with eggs. I'm sure the chickens are thrilled with their efforts.

So I had bananas for breakfast. I had specially picked potato-bread and some vegan beans in tomato sauce for lunch, same for dinner. It cost me easily twice as much as minestrone soup and some bread and ham would have cost. Are only rich people allowed to be vegan? Also, I spent more time on Google in the shop then I did picking the things up and paying for them. For seasoned vegans I'm sure it's second nature, for newbies, it must be a serious challenge to have to look up permission to eat and drink for every meal of the day.

Google also lead me to "Questions", which amounts to the vast majority of what I came across in terms of reference material. People who "wanted" to be vegan trying to find out what it was okay for them to eat and drink. Example: Coffee. I wanted my fix this morning, so I googled to see if it was okay. Half the websites I saw said yes, the other half said no. Apparently vegans can't decide on what's vegan and what's not. I'd have thought vegans would have been the most qualified to know what's vegan... apparently not. My day was spent online trying to decide what I was allowed to eat...

The other thing I discovered on my internet trawls was smug. I've never come across so much smug. It takes a niche group like vegans to take smug to these levels. I don't know folks... maybe I've missed the point, maybe there's a nobility and a virtue to veganism that I've completely missed. Maybe I'm ignorant and I've completely missed the point - but all I could find was masochists deliberately depriving themselves so they could feel smug, and then arguing about the degree of smugness that they were entitled to.

Vegans currently reading this, I've a new found respect for your discipline and your resolve, but I can honestly tell you that I find the entire vegan movement beyond stupid. If that's harsh... sorry. I just can't reconcile this way of living with what I call real life.
Pictured: Acceptable to vegans, but not acceptable to Guinness lovers...

P.S. If you're vegetarian or vegan stop reading now...

Tomorrow's breakfast will include mostly meat, eggs, butter, milk, and white crusty bread, muffins, and juice. I'm going carnivore like never before. Nom nom nom...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thing 128 Buy A Vibrator

Unquestionably, the single most embarrassing moment of my entire life. Bar nothing. I'm not kidding, it's not a joke, I'm that much of a prude that walking into Ann Summers and buying a vibrator was nearly too much for me. I had my balls waxed on the radio, you'd think at this point shame and embarrassment wouldn't be an issue... you'd be wrong.

Eyes all on me. Everyone's judging. They know I'm going into Ann Summers. I'm a man, what the hell am I doing walking into Ann Summers? They all think I'm a pervert. That woman holding hands with those kids, oh god, she sees me heading to the door... don't do it. Turn around. Go to O'Connell's and have some coffee. Don't do it...


Oh crap. Someone from work. What do I do? Panic. Freeze. No wait, that's stupid, I can't run now. Screw it. Stand here and talk to your work colleague in the door of Ann Summers. This couldn't get any worse. He knows you were going to Ann Summers. He'll tell others. And now everyone walking past can see you standing in the doorway of a girl's sex store... you look like a pervert...

Okay, he's gone. Just walk in. People do this everyday. There are loads of men who walk in here, just because you can't see them now, doesn't mean they don't come in. That security guard is looking at me. Oh crap. How hot is this place? My face is on fire. I must be absolutely scarlet. Damn my Catholic upbringing - I should just leave now...
I didn't leave, but most of that went through my head as i walked along Cruise's Street. If the point of The Project was to get me out of my comfort zone, mission accomplished. I got a little lost in the store. A nice girl asked me if she could help with anything - she must have seen the red of my face, hell, if I was outside the International Space Station could have seen the red of my face. I realised I was looking at party games. They all had little penis pictures on them. The vibrator section was across the shop, but there were some girls looking at the selection, and there's no way I'm standing next to them. So I'll just stand there and be embarrassed looking at party games with penises on them. You've no idea how embarrassed I was.
I eventually bailed on that plan and walked over. I never realised that sex toys were so expensive. It cost me 31 euro. Basically I paid 31 euros to be massively embarrassed for twenty minutes. But it didn't stop there...

Walk out the door with the Ann Summers bag, and the whole thing starts all over again.

I know that in the year 2010, in a modern, western country, it should be okay for a man to walk into any shop and buy whatever he likes, but that's just not the way it works. Too old school an upbringing to be able for it. Which is a sad state of affairs, but I think I'll be happy not to be a modern man, and never walk into a sex shop ever again...

I shudder at the thought.

Mind you, we weren't embarrassed enough in the comfort of our own home, not to take the piss... a lot. Poor Little Flower, she was so embarrassed. The Frenchman laughed all day and tried to set the little vibrating machine off on a little journey. And me, well I just laughed at my own embarrassment and took photos of Pony Boy. Sexy!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thing 127 Build a Furniture Fort

I know I've probably said this, and I'm in the habit of repeating myself (must be the old age, senility at 26, it could only happen to me), but the Things on the list are way more fun if I've got this gang of clowns with me. Making a fort on my own seems a little pathetic - like walking to town to feed birds, on your own. There's something decidedly tragic about it. Throw in five grown up children and you're made.

Me and Thorny Wire used to do this when we were small. I remember thinking that Ci Ci Do and Bean Bag were seriously missing out on the fun. I assumed it was because they were older, and everyone knows older people are less fun. I decided it wouldn't happen to me, I would remain cool when I got older. When I grew up, I decided, my house would have a for in it every night of the week.

Then I discovered beer. And zombie games for the x-box.

This is where The Project comes in...
Oh yeah, Top Cat declared me Earl of Fortington, and made me wear a thing on my head. I like wearing things on my head. I should declare a silly hat day, except it was already done long before The Project. Pony Boy also loves silly hats.

The fun thing about being a grown up when it comes to making a fort is that there's lots of furniture in your house that you own. As long as you don't live with mam and dad, you can't get away with taking the dining table and putting it on top of your sideways turned couches. The problem about being a grown up is that you spend way too much time planning the damn thing and not enough time building. It's slightly less fun than previously remembered. But we all wanted to have good fort, plenty of space and all that.
Construction began in the summer of 2010, and was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Total cost - 1 glass that I dropped when I was moving the coffee table. Smashy smashy. Time spent on the project. Ahh.... about twenty minutes. Two couches turned sideways, one armchair turned on its side, the dining table, several blankets, multiple cushions and a lamp that The Frenchman insisted on. Could have burnt the place down. Didn't though. Fort was way too cool for that.
I'll probably never do this again in my life. Not because I didn't like it, but because I've outgrown it, which is actually kind of sad. I hope that at some time I'll do this again for some fun, but in all likelihood I wont. This is something I'm glad I did again. Next time there'll be a window to the TV so I can play zombie games in my fort...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thing 126 Whittle Something

There are many things in this life at which I do not excel. I'll never be an accountant, considering my mathematical skills are far from noteworthy. I'll never play for Manchester United, this is because I'm entirely mediocre at the game of football. I'll never make millions in the stock market, because it's a complete mystery to me. Being fair to myself though, it's a complete fucking mystery to everyone. Including stock-brokers.

I will also never make money or a reputation whittling wood. It's not like a had some kind of grand plan or anything. I didn't spend a portion of today day-dreaming that I'd turn into some whittling prodigy. I'd whittle a perfect carving of Natalie Portman, so impressive that the lady herself wouldn't tell the difference. I'd have orders from all over the world, Oprah and that friendly lesbian lady whose name I can't remember would be fighting over who's TV show I'd be appearing on. Within a year - millionaire. I definitely didn't entertain that notion... ahem.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm craptastic at whittling. Thank God I'm pretty. Or at least mediocre.
A friend of mine told me that there's tons of money to be made whittling in North America. If you can whittle, you can make "duck decoys". Basically, whittle a duck, paint it up real lifelike, and tie a weight to it. Let it sit on the water of a pond. Ducks flying past will look at it, have a brief flying-v conference and decide that they'd also like to check out the pond, apparently ducks are very easily influenced. As they make their approach for a nice spot of pond splashing, that's when they're shot. Nice eh? And you thought that story had a happy ending.

Tons of money to be made if you'll whittle hundreds of ducks to their deaths. Would you? Thought so. Heartless creature.
So that's what I managed. I was trying to whittle a pipe stand for Pony Boy's pipe. That turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. The Frenchman thinks I should lie and pretend that piece of wood started as a tree. Which would make me awesome at whittling. But it really wasn't much different. I tried three different types of knives. I even tried a screwdriver.... with help from a hammer. I think this might have been too large an undertaking.

So I carved the word pipe into the block.


It'll make a decent paper-weight.

P.S. All I could think about all day was Cletus from the Simpsons. Remember the episode where Bart and some girl break out of a prison. Wiggum is hunting them down. He passes Cletus whittling things he sees. Sometimes he whittles the future. If you've seen it your laughing. If you've not, you're thinking that I'm weirder than you previously realised.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thing 125 Wine In A Box

Okay a lot of these things have to do with booze. This is Ireland after all, and it's the end of Summer, which means it's basically Winter, which is very similar to the very start of summer, so there's not a lot to do. And United were kick starting the season... wine is the way forward.

So anyway, wine from a box eh? Oh yeah...

I worked in a restaurant in Limerick called Moll Darby's for years. It was great. While there, burning coffee and being sent for "bags of steam" by the kitchen, thanks Chef, I learned a little about wine. Some people pay a lot of money for wine, and therefor it must count as "good wine". House wine was considered "okay". Some people spent serious time "tasting" the wine - which counts as being a douche, since no one ever sent it back, they just wanted to look cool.

Lots of people thought they knew about wine. They did not. It's not like I do either, but i know something about it.
I know enough to feel comfortable about drinking it from a box, with a box on my head while making a box with my hands (and Top Cat's hands). Yep. I'm cool. I do love the wine though. Red's a preference, but I'm not fussy. That's the thing they don't tell people about wine. If you like wine, it's okay to like different wines. It's okay to enjoy wine with a bottle that has a screw on top, or wine with a rubber cork. You don't have to pick the most expensive bottle on the menu, or have to be part of a special secret organisation to like wine.

To prove the point: here's wine from a box, all over the shop...

In the shed...
On the deck...
In the living room, watching United demolish Newcastle...

Snobby people who've been drinking wine for years will tell you that "classy wines" cost. They're wrong. "Good wines" don't have screw on tops - they're wrong. "Quality wines" are not available in most off-licenses. Wrong. Meh, what do I know. I've been drinking wine from a box all night...

We decided to check it out. And to have even more fun, wine from a box should be experienced from all over the house - and the shed.

Now that I think about it, I have been drinking wine from a box all night. I'm going to bed...