I have discovered
Posted Sep 20, 2012
I have discovered one of the problems with being out of college: I no longer have an excuse to buy stationery. And this time of year the shops are full of wonderful refill pads and notebooks, softback, hardback, spiral bound. I wants them all!
Posted Sep 16, 2012
So, I was hanging out with two friends today, who enjoy teasing and insulting each other. One referred to the other's having spent time with a dungeon master. I hadn't quite caught the full remark or its context (we were walking at the time), so I asked for clarification: "Is that the RPG type of dungeon master, or the BDSM type of dungeon master?"
It seems I'm not the only one to occasionally confuse the two: http://notalwaysromantic.com/theyre-talking-about-different-kinds-of-rings/23334.
Posted Sep 1, 2012
I'm home from the International Discworld Convention in Birmingham.
And I've built the website for the Irish Discworld Convention in Limerick.
See you all there?
I'll try to write a little about the awesomeness of the convention once I've finished the site. (It's in working order. You can buy memberships. Go try it now. But you can't buy the Gala Dinner yet, and it doesn't look quite as nice as it should. And there's no list of members online yet. I'll be doing all that shortly.)
Weirdness from my spam filter
Posted Aug 18, 2012
This is from the spam filter on my blog.
The white people the laws of physics to light
A rather good weekend
Posted Aug 14, 2012
I've had a vague notion in the back of my mind for a while now that it would be a nifty idea to have a website with the timetables for all the trains and the buses (public and private) in Ireland, so you could mix and match to find your way around. Recently, one of my workmates told me that the site now exists: http://getthere.ie. Handy.
It told me that the best way to get from Tullamore to Sligo of a Saturday was to take Kearne's Coaches as far as Enfield, and then the train from there. Kearne's run to Dublin, and pass right by my parents' house, where I was staying while they were away, so I caught it easily in the morning. In Enfield, I had an hour, so I wandered down the rather pretty Royal Canal and ate my sandwiches there before heading back to the station and catching my train.
I had a good chat on the train, which is always nice. Politics and the state of the HSE, mainly. Also conspiracy theories, which one of my fellow travellers was rather into. She said her house was full of declassified documents.
In Sligo, I checked into the Railway Hostel, on the basis that it was handy, unpacked my rainbow flag, and headed down to the town hall where the Pride Parade was mustering. One of the streets on the usual route had been closed for a family fun festival, but we were marching down it regardless, which promised to be fun.
I recognised some Scottish guys I'd met the previous year. They'd said then that they come to Sligo every year. I chatted to them a little again.
Just before we started, one of the stewards told us that the chant of the parade would be, "We're here; we're queer, and so are some of you!"
In the parade itself, I walked mainly near the drummers (they formed a sort of mini samba band, and I must admit I'm fond of samba bands), but also walked up and down the length of the parade, taking a lot of photos. The drummers had to pause as we went through the festival, for some reason. Perhaps the organisers didn't want that volume. We collected a bunch of kids at that point: ten-year-olds running in to join us. Conversion!
The parade ended back where it started, and we hung around there for a bit (taking more photos, in my case), before gradually moving on to the Glasshouse Hotel bar. (We didn't move en masse: people gradually drifted around the corner to the hotel. I drifted with a small group of locals who had adopted me.) Hung out. Chatted. Ate (a rather excellent Thai chicken with coconut rice, in my case).
There was to be a drag show later, but they decided to head back to a house for a while before going back. And I had been, as I said, adopted, so I followed along. They were a pleasant bunch. One girl was from DIT LGBT Society, the others were all local. The locals were two opposite-sex couples (both girls being bi, and I think both boys being straight), and a couple of other lads who came and went.
It was fun. One of the couples were both Hitch-hiker fans, and he was also a Pratchett fan. And she knew Oglaf, and was even aware of h2g2.
By the time we went out again, the drag show was over, so we forced our way through the crowds (there was yet another festival on that evening, with a free outdoor concert: a happening place, Sligo, it seems) to a pub where we sat in the beer garden and chatted for a little longer. Then we went our separate ways: home, or, in my case, back to the Railway Hostel.
In the morning, I got up in plenty of time for the free hostel breakfast: two bowls of cereal, and a chat with a couple of Spanish people who were in Sligo for the weekend. They were currently living and working in a hostel in Boyle, while looking for other work. We talked about the economy, and travel in Ireland and in Spain, and language. And a conversation I'd had with Superfrenchie at the Manchester hootoo meet came back to me: English is a stress-timed language, while Spanish and French are syllable-timed languages. And that means that the duh-duh-duh-DUH-duh-duh-duh-DUH effect of Auden's "Night Mail" could not work in those languages, though they can no doubt do something similar.
And so the bus to Dublin. The train would have been more comfortable, but also more expensive. In Busáras I met a friend of mine from Galway who has recently moved to Dublin for work. He and I made our way to the Iveagh Gardens, wandered around for a bit, popped out to get take-away coffees, and headed back to find that quite a large audience had gathered for the play. One of the stewards was encouraging people to sit up at the front, so we did. Also, it was an easy place to describe: another friend of mine was running late, and "very front, to the left of the stage" is an easy description to put in a text message.
The Tempest, performed free in the garden, started with a roar. There was no warning, no "please turn off your phones", nothing. A roar, and panic on a sinking ship. The chap sitting behind me in the rather natty sailor suit turned out to be the captain. Other crew members were scattered throughout the audience. On stage, two crew members struggled with what was, frankly, a wooden ladder lying on its side (I think the rocking was supposed to indicate the motion of the ship); behind them, Ariel, dressed in white trousers and blue paint, with feathers in his hair and on his hands, danced mockingly. As the captain continued to forcefully bellow out his orders, declaring his love of and loyalty to the king while ordering him below out of the way, and the crew struggled with the sails, actually stretching out long sheets over us, the comic relief took their turn on stage.
The lawn in the Iveagh Gardens is lower than the paths and banks: the corner behind the stage was raised, and had bushes and trees which were made use of. Most of the action was in the corner itself (on stage) and on the banks behind the stage (the wings, perhaps), but the actors certainly made use of the freedom to roam a little wider betimes, never more so than in that opening scene, when they were scattered throughout the audience.
The acting was top class, as was the staging. Prospero wore a rich cloak and carried a wooden staff. Miranda was dressed in rags. Caliban had cut-off trousers and a tattooed chest. He was barefoot. The royal court dressed in business suits; the king also had a bowler hat. Ariel I've already described. He truly was a spirit of the air, and was indeed constantly moving, twitching, dancing, balancing on the firewood, even at one stage swinging out of the rope used to tie Caliban, and hanging upside down from the tree. He had an excellent singing voice, surprisingly deep for such a slight frame. And yes, he really was very cute.
Caliban is, of course, supposed to be hideously deformed. Let's just say that he wasn't. He did speak with a noticeable accent, unlike anyone else in the play, which actually suited quite well since he was supposed to have been taught language late in life. He is also, of course, a very fluent speaker, despite all the jabs at his stupidity.
The play was, all in all, delightful, and I'm very glad I went. After, Evenstar42 took us to the same Vietnamese place in Temple Bar she'd taken me after the Dublin hootoo meet, and then to a gelato spot before retiring to The George. I was glad to see that my friends got on with each other, and I left them still talking and drinking in The George when I left to catch my train home.
I walked to Heuston, but I must have been moving slower than I thought I was. I should have had plenty of time, but when I got to the station I had only a couple of minutes. I high-tailed it to the ticket machines. There were four of them, and the first three were out of order. The last refused to take my money: I had only a €50 note, and they don't like giving that much change. So I ran to the ticket desk, which in Heuston is off to the side, a bit out of the way.
"Have I missed the Tullamore train?" I asked. He sighed a little, gave me my ticket and change, and told me to run and to ignore the ticket barriers. The digital clock above the ticket desk read 20:30, which is the departure time of the train.
Ianród Éireann's bye-laws, as printed on the timetables, say that platform gates will close five minutes before the departure of the train. Nonsense. As the chap in the ticket office had said, some of the gates were actually open, so I could just run through without using the ticket at all. And there were still doors open on the train, so I didn't delay the train at all.
Galway had beaten Cork in the hurling semi-final earlier that day, and the train was full of Galway shirts. The ones in my carriage were cheerful, but not rowdy.