Quantum of Knowledge

To celebrate the release of the new Bond movie 'Quantum of Solace' on Friday, here's a quick quiz, of my own making, on the subject of all things Bondian.

The answers will be in the first comment so don't go mad with it or anything, perhaps try an informal guess and see how you get on.

The radio buttons at the start of each option are cool but I couldn't figure how to do a 'submit' button so... keep your own score

And let me know how you do - they are not easy.

I'm going to see the new film on Friday and I'm boyishly excited because I always used to see all the big movies on their first night out but I never get to do it anymore.

Expect a review here late on Friday night- no spoilers though - as if I would!

Oh, I was inspired to put this little quiz up here by Ben Barden's newest post - Ten Reasons Why Bloggers are Like James Bond - which I'm proud to say I helped a little with.

Now, your starter for ten... (never mind)

1) What type of gun did Bond favour before the Walther PPK 7.65mm
Smith and Wesson
Beretta 418
Single-action Colt .45

2) Who played Goldfinger
Joseph Wiseman
Gert Frobe
Harold Sakata
Kurt Jurgens
Bernard Lee

3) In the movie 'You only Live Twice' how does Bond have his Martini
Shaken not stirred
Stirred not shaken
Straight on the rocks
In a straight glass
With red bull

4) Who wrote the screenplay for "You Only Live Twice"?
Enid Blyton
Ian Fleming
Kevin McClory
Roald Dahl
Donald Pleasence

5) What is James Bond's middle name?
He doesn't have one

6) What line is obviously cut from the final 'Gondola' scene of Russia with Love?
He was right you know... what a performance.
He was right you know... this is hot stuff
He was right you know... it's quite a film
He was right you know... shaken not stirred
He was right you know... let's throw it in the water.

7) Who first played bond in 'Casino Royale' on screen
David Niven
Daniel Craig
Barry Nelson
Sean Connery
George Lazenby

8) Which actor did not star in a james bond film named after an ian fleming book
Roger Moore
Pierce Brosnan
Sean Connery
Daniel Craig
Timothy Dalton

9) who played bond on radio in Moonraker
Bob holness
Bob monkhouse
Larry grayson
Rupert Everett
Sean Connery

10) Who provided George Lazenby's voice in OHMSS?
Peter O'Toole
Ian Fleming
Roger Moore
Bob Holness
George Baker

Score 10 and you're the next Bond.

Score 1 and you're George Lazenby

Whaaaaaaat? :)

The Best I Ever Did

I was on my way home to Castlebar one Saturday evening when I stopped into a shop in Sligo to do the Lottery. An almost-elderly man was getting directions from the young guy behind the counter.

“You go to the bottom of the road then turn left then… are you driving?” He was not driving. “You’re walking? It’s a terrible long way to walk.”

I asked them both where he was going. The man told me.

“I’ve walked down from the hospice," He said, "My old neighbour is up there, dying, and I got a lift in from Manorhamilton to visit him and all he is wishing for is one drink of Lucozade and I can’t find a drop in this blessed town.”

I glanced at my wrist. I was late for home. My children would be in bed before I got there, if I didn’t get a move on.

“Come on,” I said, “We’ll take a quick spin and find your friend some Lucozade.”

He looked at me a moment. I was unshaven and roughly-dressed. I could have been some kind of kidnapper. He decided to trust me. We drove around all the service stations. For some reason, there wasn’t much Lucozade to be had that night. Eventually we found a place down on the Bundoran Road. I waited in the car and was delighted to see him emerge with his Lucozade – a large bottle under each arm.

He wanted to walk back up to the hospice. He thought he had imposed enough on my time.

We chatted about the usual things on the way back. When we stopped at the gates, he slipped something onto my lap.

“I got you a scratch card,” he said, “for your kindness” Then he went off to deliver his Lucozade

After I had dropped him, I drove for a while then pulled in and scratched off the lottery card he had given me. There was a two Euro prize on it.

It was the best I ever did.

Are You the Internet’s Next Top Monster?

Let’s try to get a little Halloween Spirit going okay?

(Ken steps up to podium)

Ever since Michael Myers first pulled on his William Shatner mask.

(It so was a 'Shat-Mask', go and look it up if you don’t believe me.)

Well ever since then, people have celebrated the movie ‘Halloween’ by having a sort of a ‘Halloween Day’ on October 31st.

On that day us good folk in Ireland do a little something called ‘Trick or Threatening’ – you call to your neighbour’s door and say, “Give me all of your sweets or I will feckin’ burst ya.”

It’s a real blast.

So, to inject a little true horror into your virtual after-life, my good friend Bad Evan is having a nice Halloween competition over at his place and it doesn’t take too much effort to join in and possibly bag yourself Five Hundred Real Live Dollars.

That’s right $500! (and a gratuitous exclamation mark too).

What to do? What to do?

I’ll tell you, shall I?

When you’re all dressed up in your scary finery for this ‘Halloween Movie Night’ thing (see above), get your picture taken by somebody you trust (or not) and then email the digital result off to Evan at costumes@badevan.com.

Just do it by November 3rd – ‘cos we’ll all be focused heavily on Christmas after that...

The other judges are:

Wisdom Hypnosis
Odd Vantage
Diet Pulpit

And the competition is sponsored by BuyCostumes.

All the gory details (see what I did there?) about this competition are over at Bad Evan’s place.

Go and look for yourself - what am I, your Mummy?

Suffice it for me to say that your truly horrible photo should weigh no more that One Mega Byte (doesn’t Dracula do Mega Bites?) and should contain no nudity so… put that away... go on, just gather it up and tuck it back in… there’s a good girl.

I myself would be cheerfully submitting my famous ‘Jamie Lee Curtis’ outfit – not the one from ‘Halloween’ but rather the one from ‘Trading Places’ (it’s a very fine costume but it gets a tad heavy after a time).

But I can’t enter, I just can’t…

‘Why not?’ I hear you howl. ‘Aruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…’

No, perhaps not…

Anyway, I can’t because I am actually a judge in this contest.

That’s right.

I have been chosen on the basis of my undisputed integrity and my fine-upstanding-reputation in the blogging community at large... and also imprisoned.

So my final point on this matter is simply this…

I can be bribed.

No, really, I can.

Seven Weird Bits of Stuff About Me

I am not quite ready to tell you about how I became a published playwright this weekend (I’ll do that next time).

So it’s really very handy that Fragileheart has tagged me with one of those Meme things where you have to reel seven things off about yourself.

She strongly feels I should tell you seven weird facts about myself, or else she’s going to end up calling me 'Pupple Knickers' for the rest of my life.

Seems fair…

As I type now, very tired after a long drive, I have no idea even what 'number' one 'weird-thing' is going to be about but let’s just see what emerges.

Incidentally, this is all a bit similar to another one of these memes I did some time ago - My Munificent Seven – I think I may have used up all my weirdness on that one.

Anyway, let's get to it:

1) hmmm… one is really hard. Let’s start with two. (Handy writer’s block tip there…)

2) I am going grey remarkably slowly. I thought I’d be white-haired by now but I’m not. Strange but true...

3) When I type – hunt and peck – I never have to think about where a key is but if someone asks me to tell them where a key is, I have no idea – except for QWERTY.

4) I can remember an awful lot of detail about pretty much every visit to the cinema I’ve ever made – what I saw, who I was with, where I saw it? It’s a bit spooky.

5) I only ever own one pair of shoes – you can read a little more about that particular foible here.

6) Dogs do what I tell them to do. I think they smell their own fear.

7) If I’m ever walking along by myself and I have a particularly entertaining thought, that thought will often stop me in my tracks while I think it out. I’ll only actually realise I have stopped walking after the thought has been adequately dealt with. This can look extremely strange to a passer-by, I think... … (sorry, where was I?)

8) Which is really (1): I don’t think of myself as wearing glasses but I’ve been doing it fairly regularly for over ten years now.

Okay, so I’ve left out all the stuff about the 'levitation' and the 'serial killing' – I’ve got to hold something back for future posts, you know.

I’m choosing not to tag anybody else for this fun game. Do please take it and play with it if you fancy it and please let me know if you do.

I’d like to see what weird things you come up with.

Alternatively, perhaps leave me one weird thing in the comments section, or else fifteen if you’re Matt Urdan.

Joking… I’m joking.

Memories of Pants

I was talking to a friend of my son today who ripped his pants around the butt area while playing volleyball in school.

This reminded me of the time my class went swimming and somebody stole my trousers.

I think I was eleven or maybe twelve at the time.

We went on a school expedition to the pool so all my mates were there to see the show.

One of those 'mates' probably still has me 'strides' in his house somewhere.

Never mind, I'm over it now... practically.

The teacher had to give me a lift home in his new car with a towel wrapped around me for modesty. But modesty hadn't really prevailed back at the pool as I hunted for the missing article(s?) in the changing room.

Nobody helped me much in my search and everybody seemed to derive much outlandish enjoyment from the fact the I was wearing purple underpants.

I figured that I was in for a hard time when I turned up in school the next day but I was wrong, nobody even said a word.

In fact, many months passed and nobody ever again mentioned the purloined trouser incident.

I have to admit, I was impressed.

Apparently, what happens in the changing room stays in the changing room. Fun and Gaiety may be derived, from a lad's lost trousers, within the confines of the male changing area but outside of there, the subject was seemingly out of bounds.

Or so I thought.

One day, deep in the Summer holidays, I was arguing with my friend Steve out on the street - doubtless about some obscure rule of soccer. I was winning the argument hands-down when his little four-year-old brother, Gavin, suddenly and quite eloquently sprang to his defence.

"Shaddup you," he roared, "ya bleedin... 'Puppel Knickers'!"


These little things can scar you...

Song of the Decade

I was walking home from work the other evening, as usual – keeping the old carbon footprint down – when a song came on the ipod that I hadn’t heard in a while.

I listened to it, enjoyed it greatly, and then a thought occurred.

‘That pop song’, I thought, ‘is as good a song as any to represent the 1970’s for me.’


So then I got to thinking, what one pop song might represent the other decades that I've lived in? I thought about it a little bit and then I threw a song at each decade.

I gave myself a couple of rules, nothing too strenuous. I made it exclusively pop songs, because they seem to be the most ‘of-their-time’ and thus more apt in summing up a decade.

And then I… nope, that’s it with the rules actually.

I didn’t think about it too hard either. You could tied up in knots trying to be all apt and clever and stuff.

Anyway, the song I was listening to, which started the whole bus of thought (it was too small to be an actual train) was this:

1970’s - Run to Me by The Bee Gees

What a great song that is_ wait, another rule, no editorialising either. Just pick a damn song.

- Jees… ‘touchy or what?

- It’s been a rough day, okay?

- Okay?

- Yeah, okay?

- Okay, jees…

1980’s - True Faith by New Order

1990’s - Losing My Religion by REM

2000’s – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 1) by The Flaming Lips.

Hey, I left out the sixties. I was around for much of the sixties but I was quite young so it’s difficult… aw hell:

1960’s Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. (I may explain why in a comment, if forced.)

A word about that 2000’s choice. My pal Reggie at Fragileheart is doing a period of ‘Pink Blogging’ to promote breast cancer Awareness (to hell with grammar, I ain’t capitalising that shit).

I though this song might be of interest to her because, although it is ostensibly about a young Japanese girl fighting robots, there is a perceived subtext that the girl in the song is actually battling cancer. It’s a great song and it’s got elements in it that couldn’t belong to any other decade methinks.

So, anyone care to play? What pop song sums up a generation for you?

Go on… I dare ya!

The Littlest Duet

My mother was always singing. All day long, round the house, doing her work, making the dinner… she sang.

She never sang in public, only ever in the safety of her own home. Growing up, I thought everybody’s mother sang; as it turns out, they didn’t.

She had quite a repertoire too, my Mum. You name it, Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, The Beatles and then, as they came along, I even remember Elvis Costello or even The Stranglers creeping into the show too.

There are some songs that I have only ever heard my mother sing – I’ve never heard them anyplace else. Occasionally, I’ll hear one of them on the radio and go, “God, that’s one of those songs!”

One such song was called ‘I saw Esau’. I really thought she’d made it up, until I heard it one day. It’s an odd experience when that happens.

One song I still haven’t heard elsewhere was called ‘Five Minutes More’ (Give me five minutes more of your charms). I Googled it up, just now, and there it is, it seems Frank Sinatra did a version of it. Cool, I’ve only heard it in one place though.

I’d always had this little vision that one day we would sing together, my Mum and me. I imagined it would be at somebody’s wedding. Maybe she would start and then I would join in. I’m not actually a great singer or anything but I can sort of hold a tune and I usually know all the words.

Anyway, this dream of mine faded after Mum suffered a series of strokes which left her disabled and in need of permanent care. Whenever I visited her, weather permitting, I would wheel her off around the country roads and we would talk about all kinds of stuff. I treasure those days.

But on the days that it rained, there was no going out and there wasn’t much else to do but read the newspapers and keep an eye on the little television up above the bed.

On one such Saturday we were reading away while the afternoon movie was on. The film was ‘High Society’ with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby, (not to mention Frank Sinatra). I like this film but I wasn’t giving it too much attention.

Then in one scene, which I’m sure you all know, I noticed that Mum had put down her part of the paper and was paying particular attention to the TV. She hadn’t sung in a long long while but softly and rather indistinctly I could hear that she was singing now.

“For you and I have a guardian angel on high with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me Love forever true.”

I joined in, softly and indistinctly myself. Nobody else was around, nobody ever heard.

It was just Me and Mum, Bing and Grace.

When it ended, we didn’t mention it or anything. We just went back to our sections of the newspaper.

A month or so later, Mum took a turn for the worse and I remember thinking, ‘Is this how it has to be, death by a thousand blows? Wouldn’t it be nicer if it all just went more quickly.’

Two weeks after that, I had my wish and she was gone.

So I got to have my duet after all. Not at a big wedding or in a grand hall. But it was every bit as good, in its own little way.

Liking It So You Don’t Have To #1 - Mission: Impossible III

One thing which this blog delights in doing is jumping straight from the sublime to the ridiculous. So, with Godot safety in the bag, get a load of this!

I had this idea for an occasional series of posts. My thinking went something along these lines:

It’s all too easy to write about things we hate – and I hate doing that (… thinks, is there a future post in that?).

It’s also quite easy to blog about things which practically everybody likes, “This 'breathing' lark is quite good isn’t it?” or "Underwear Rawks Dude"...

So I thought it would be fun to come up with some stuff that I like but which most other people probably won’t.

So here goes with a little movie for starters…

As a little Irish geezer, I used to love ‘Mission Impossible’ on the telly. All that ‘Dun-dun-dun-dun’ theme music, improbably-easy rubber masks and… hell, just the quiet efficiency with which the team always got through their objectives.

Yup, ‘Quiet efficiency’ was one of my big things, back when I was five years old.

So when I heard the movie was coming out, I was quite excited… and then I was disappointed.

Brian De Palma didn’t quite carry it off, for me and then came John Woo with the second installment and that just didn’t do it either. All that graceful slow-mo gun-fighting and iconic doves sailing around everywhere.

Doves!! 'Bleedin’ rats-with-wings, if you ask me.

So I didn’t hold out any hope for ‘M:I III’. None at all. Then, to make matters worse, Tom Cruise started acting the maggot all over Oprah’s couch and the critics got to dissing it badly and the audiences went ‘meh’. So I did what I usually do anyway – I waited for the DVD...


Oh My God!! What a great action movie this is!

If you haven’t seen it, go get it, it’s simply a blast from start to finish. Easily the best of the three, director JJ Abrams (yes, he of ‘Lost’) directs a fast-moving, involving and even occasionally touching bit of cinematic fluff.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is just the very best ‘Bad Guy’ I’ve seen in ages. He simply oozes menace and he is written to be bad-to-the-bone, which is what we need to see in these things.

There’s a great mission set-piece in and around the Vatican (no, no nazis in sight, Caledonian Jim), there’s some very impressive non-CGI stunt work and, there’s even a bit-of-a-story to follow.

And there is, I believe, a truly great piece of screenwriting right slap bang in the middle of the show. I won’t give it away but, as Ethan enters a high tech skyscraper to complete the next part of his mission, the screenwriter give us a little master class in how to get out of a scene early.

Quite brilliant, watch for it.

So there it is, something I like that you might well not.

I mean, it ain’t ‘Citizen Kane’ or ‘Bicycle Thieves’ but, if you fancy a lively entertaining DVD-night-in, you could do a lot worse.

Now, what’s next?

Waiting for Ever – The Godot Bus Rolls into Castlebar

In 1987, Samuel Beckett asked Michael Colgan to produce ‘Waiting for Godot’ at the Gate, and requested that Walter Asmus - his assistant director on the famous Schiller Theatre production - direct.

Hailed by the international press as “the definitive Godot”, this production has since toured all over the world, including China, Melbourne and Toronto, receiving unprecedented critical acclaim. It was also a central part of the Gate’s Beckett Festivals in Dublin (1991 and 2006), New York (1996) and London (1999 and 2006).

As part of the theatre’s 80th anniversary celebrations, the Gate’s acclaimed production of Waiting for Godot will tour to 40 venues across the 32 counties of Ireland, playing for one night only in each venue. The tour, which will also mark the 20th anniversary of this now legendary production, will include the original cast members.

(Borrowed – respectfully - from the Gate Theatre website)

Ever since I heard about this, I’ve been waiting for Godot to arrive.

I was quite disturbingly excited that this wonderful production would come and play in my local theatre – a place I know and love very well.

The Castlebar performance was sold out months in advance and the day itself did not disappoint.

From early morning the techies were in, shifting, building and lighting the simple-yet-deceptively-complex stage set. In the late afternoon, a series of parking spaces were cordoned off out on the street and a little later the ‘Godot Bus’ arrived with the cast on board.

These venerable actors are certainly traversing the country in some style. The huge bus is emblazoned with the iconic image from the production – Vladimir supplicant to the moon – and it was great to see a piece of theatre bring with it this level of buzz and excitement. Great? It was bloody amazing.

So I went to see the play and I really loved it. I really did. However I felt a bit strange afterward telling people how great I thought it was because the general vibe among the post-show audience was that it was ‘heavy’, ‘hard-to-follow’, ‘obtuse’ and/or ‘nothing happened.

This all surprised me. You see I’m not an intellectual guy – you’ll have picked that up if you’ve been visiting here for a while – I tend to gravitate towards ‘easy’, ‘entertaining’ things. Heavyweight tomes can leave me cold.

I just didn’t find Godot to be hard-going at all. I think it’s funny, moving, emotionally involving, touching, thoughtful, witty, smart, and fun… yes fun.

So when some people were busy telling me how bemused they were by it all, I initially thought I understood – I though they had brought all their prejudices into the theatre with them. They expected ‘tough-going’ and a ‘lack of incident’ and so that’s what they got.

I’ve changed my mind about that since. Upon ‘mature reflection’ as some of our politicians say.

Here’s what I think now:

I think I enjoyed it more because I’ve spent time with it over the last few years.

I was involved in a rehearsed reading of the play a few years ago – I played Estragon and we had a lot of fun with it and it went over pretty well with the full house. In boning-up for the part, I re-read the play many times and I also watched the Gate Production on DVD several times – the self-same production that has now played Castlebar.

My new theory is that my ‘little learning’ helped me enormously in enjoying the play on the night. It is a lesson I intend to remember.

The cast who came to give us the play were exemplary – and I mean exactly that. There was no weak link in that foursome.

But for me, having now seen it again, I am more convinced that ever that Godot is not an ensemble piece. For me Godot has a ‘hero’ – a central character. That hero is Vladimir. Even Estragon, who shares so much time with Vladimir seems dependent and somehow secondary to him.

Vladimir seems to me to be heroic – an ‘everyman’ lost in a meaningless world, looking out for redemption but never losing sight of the truth of the repetitive, time-killing, pointless nature of his existence.

When ever I go to see a play, I love to become engrossed in the ‘show’ but I also love to pull back the curtain of artifice afterward and learn as much as I can about how it was from the stage looking down into the audience.

I met the cast of Godot afterward (no great trick to that, anyone who wants to can do it) and I greatly enjoyed speaking briefly to them all. The actors impression of our Castlebar audience seemed (to me) to be that we were a quiet, slightly-unresponsive lot. I have to say that wasn’t my impression.

The production made use of enormous freezes in the action where everybody sits immobile and silent… and waits. In Castlebar the audience waited right along with them.

This impressed me quite a lot and I though it actually worked very well. I would imagine other audiences might have shuffled and giggled nervously at these moments – as time seemed to stop completely. But we were very well behaved – at least I think so anyway.

So – listen - if the Godot Bus comes up your road in the next few weeks, do flag it down and try to persuade it to stop for a night and play.

Finally, let me share this little titbit (are there any big titbits?) with you. My good friend Mary Carr passed this on to me.

Where does the name ‘Godot’ derive from?

Many people say it refers to ‘God’ and that carries a little weight (I suppose). Mary has a good angle on it which I never heard before. Beckett was Irish (‘go way! … no he was!) and was familiar with the Irish language.

In Irish, ‘Go Deo’ (pronounced ‘guh joe’) means ‘forever’. This, she reckons, is where ‘Godot’ came from… ‘Waiting for Forever’ and that’s where my title for this post came from too.


Digging a Hole

When I arrived in London in 1984, it was to work in the soft business of Architecture and, for a long while, that’s just how it was.

But it happened that the tide quickly turned. That work all dried up and, if you wanted me, in March 1991, I was to be found in a back garden in Queensgate Place, digging my very first hole.

I had my pick, my spade and my steel toed boots. I had a big plastic bottle of lemonade and a Mars bar for sustenance. I had my shirt off and the beginnings of a muscle. By noon, I was no longer at surface level but chest deep in the planet.. if I crouched.

You might imagine that when an excavation caves it, it would give some prior warning. Not so. My hole fell in on me without so much as a polite cough. One minute I was in it, the next it was on me.

I decided it was time for a break. I pulled my tee-shirt over my rippling bicep and quit the site. Once outside, I realised I had left the front door key inside. I was unfazed.

“I will get back in” I told myself, “by ingenuity, guile and analytical examination of my situation.”

Here’s what I worked out.

My worksite backed onto a mews house of the kind lately inhabited by unassuming billionaires. If I counted the houses up my street and then counted the mews houses down the next street, I should arrive at the one which backed onto my site. There was a kitchen window which had overlooked my digging, I could use it to climb through.

I counted them out and counted them back and arrived at a royal blue door through which television sounds were seeping. I knocked.

An Arabian gentleman in full Kuwaiti clothing opened the door and gazed evenly at me. I smiled winningly, his moustache twitched.

“I wonder would you mind...,” my little speech was eloquent but obviously in the wrong language.

Using an inept charade I managed to gain access to his small but elegant kitchen. There, above the sink, was his rear window and through it, just as I remembered, sat my collapsed dig.

The sink was stacked with unwashed dishes. Despairing of any understandable explanation, I proceeded straight away to empty them onto the draining-board. The Arabic gentleman stood back and took this re-arrangement of his domestic affairs silently in his stride.

At last the dishes were emptied. Now, finally, I could show him what I was all about. I climbed into his sink, opened his little window and threw myself out of it. I was back inside my own garden!

It took me a moment to get my balance. I turned to smile my thanks at this most tolerant of men and there he was, looking more bemused than ever, standing at his open kitchen door.

Had I taken more time, I might have noticed there was a kitchen door as well as a kitchen window but, to my lasting regret, I had not.

I dug my hole, and it didn’t fall in on me again. And as I packed my things that evening, I could still see the shadowy figure standing quietly in his kitchen recess.

No doubt wondering what the hell I had been playing at in his sink.