Tag Archives: personal

Gordon Ramsey and a kick up the a@*e

4 Nov

I recently had a brief chat with someone about their ultimate dream to go on Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” , which sent me off into my own little world on a tangent…as these things usually do.

The person I was chatting to mentioned how Ramsey has such a bad reputation as a nasty person, and how this actually didn’t matter to them one bit. Sure, he seemed like a nasty person, but there was a method behind it which this guy recognised and appreciated.

Seeing him explode like a nuclear bomb full of the english languages worst offenders on tv can give you the wrong impression, and in this day and age where many people flinch at the slightest sign of conflict* it’s understandable how he’s gotten the reputation he has. Look a little deeper into things though and this attitude makes some sense. Hopefully I can explain it well enough for you to agree or at least understand.

* it seems that these days the perception of ‘conflict’ has turned from “an actual situation whereby someone is giving you unwarranted/undeserved abuse” to “a situation where someone is telling you something about yourself you might not like; cry, cry, for the love of god cry about it…your warped sense of self isn’t going to hold up unless you deny any and all criticism!!1!”.

Okay so; cooking is a discipline. Like taking a career in Law enforcement/ the army, learning a martial art, studying dance/music or engaging in any other activity that requires consistent improvement for you to attain a level of comfort within the discipline.

The first method of teaching or leading someone in any of these arts is to give them enough information for them to realise they need to be their own spur and their own worst enemy if they want to improve. This method takes time and tends to weed out the ones who don’t have the heart.

The second method, as used by Gordon Ramsey and the Army, is to well…push them as hard as possible. This also weeds out the ones who don’t have the heart, but in more spectacular fashion.

Neither method is superior, both are just different. One method might be better depending on circumstances (the discipline in question, the person in question, circumstances, etc…) but both have the same aim: to get the student to realise that they need to do this for themselves.

But of course, as I’ve mentioned before ( https://rhinoprayer.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/youre-not-finished-not-at-18-19-21-30-40/) people have a tendency to think they’ve finished learning/improving once they hit a magic mark. Oh of course they’ll spout ridiculous soliloquoys about how they’ve “got passion, determination, a good attitude, etc…” but a lot of the time it’s quite obvious they’ve put more effort into thinking of those words than actually embodying them.

And here’s where Ramsey’s attitude steps in. When he meets someone who is full of talk but then fails to show any substance behind it, he flips out at them because here’s an adult who’s kidding themselves into thinking they’re a fully functional and well rounded person when the truth is they’re having trouble boiling an egg because they’re too busy pumping themselves up by shouting adjectives and motivational slogans at the same time.

“Fortitude! I’m level-headed! chicken stew! WHOLE NINE YARDS!!”

And I can understand it. Both sides. I can easily understand how someone can fool themselves into thinking everythings alright and that they don’t have to put too much effort into consistent improvement – it’s a tough thing to take a long hard look at yourself when your grown up and think “wow…yeah I’m not all I’m cracked up to be…better do something about it”.

And I can understand Ramsey’s attitude too, because very often the “softly softly catch a monkey” approach doesn’t work with people. Try to persuade them softly and they’ll just take it as an opportunity to sit back into their bubble of self delusional to shout a few more slogans at themself. In some cases, and specifically in Ramsey’s case -where he gets people wanting to learn but refusing to take a long hard look at themselves, break it down and build it it back up- people need a good kick up the arse.

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Halloween movies & Assault on precinct 13.

1 Nov

(bit of backround music for ya;)

The television lineup for the halloween weekend, bar Ghostbusters 1&2  being shown, was disapointing. Incredibly disapointing. No scream, no chucky, no nightmare on elm street, no carrie, no nothing. And this wasn’t just the Irish channels I get here either; this was cable. All the major channels from the British isles, and there wasn’t a scrap of halloween fever among them.

Noticing this, it got me thinking about my favourite scary movies.Personally, I’m not actually that big into horror movies. I watched the first ‘Saw’, got a bit of a giddy thrill out of it but then got bored pretty quickly: “oh no! yet ANOTHER dastardly mindfuck-trap? whatever will happen?!”. I was never a huge fan of the Exorcist or anything either, because that shit’s just wrong. Most movies nowadays put a young girl humming/singing chillingly in a hallway and it’s implied(or, depressingly, presumed) that it’s scary; the exorcist went to fucking town on that shit. it was wrong, and damn scary.

Sure, I don’t necessarily love or watch those films all too often, but it adds to the halloween spirit when I find myself skipping over them on the tv schedule a bit quicker than I need to for fear that letting the remote linger on them too long will awaken something dark from the floorboards…

But anyway, thinking about all of this I remembered my favourite scary film. It’s not really a ‘horror’, but damn it’ll get you in the same mood.

Years and years ago in my early teens; back when tamagotchis were the equivalent of iPhones and Zack Morris was the Johnny Depp of the day, I had the house to myself one weekend night. I stayed up late, slipping out back for a sneaky joint every once in a while and had the kind of enjoyable time to myself you can only have when your that age, feeling like it’s your house, your life and your time to do whatever you want with.

Around 1 in the night I stumbled past the Irish language television channel “TG4”, which has the uncanny ability to pick up the best cult films and tv shows around. As of writing this, it is still the only channel out of all of the ones on cable that has picked up the phenomenal “The Wire” from across the Atlantic…that’s how good it is, and it’s targeted at an Irish speaking population of about two hundred thousand (at most…that’s a high guess).

Anyway, knowing it had this ability -seeing as it had introduced me to the classic “The Warriors” only a few weeks beforehand, I stuck around for a few minutes to see what film it was lining up. Little did I know, it was about to introduce me to one of my all time favourites.

Everything in it, from the cinematography to the drawn out atmosphere of the setting to the broken down city in the backround almost acting as a supporting actor did something to scare the bejeesus out of me. I have yet to find, watch or even hear of a film that creates such a tense atmosphere without resorting to cheap orchestra music or shock value. It’s an incredible movie.

One of the single things that shook me about it though was the feeling or atmosphere that it evoked in the first half hour. In that time the film shows dusk in a city and a sad sense of apathy, isolation and hopelessness that just struck a spark with me. When watching it I could smell that feeling in the air as I have done many times when walking around the city, that dusk time emptying of the streets…it’s quite a feeling. If you’ve felt it you know, if not well..you might be best off haha, it’s some ‘dark night of the soul’ stuff.

I’m not gonna tell you much about it actually. Don’t try to find out about it, just find it and watch it. In this day and age it’s almost required that you look up everything about a film before you watch it because you don’t want to waste your time but believe me, this is worth knowing nothing about. Besides, all you need to know is up on that classic poster (they don’t make ’em like they used to).

Oh: and do not watch the remake. Don’t. Just, …just don’t. It’s horrible.

Inspirational quotes and Kerouac…damn you kerouac…

21 Oct

I don’t like inspirational quotes. I just don’t. As much as they’re a great point to jump off from in a search for personal excellence and improvement; they’re more often used as an end- a point to say “gee shucks I’ve read it so I know it”- and this disappoints me greatly…

“Oh!: ‘ be the change you want to see in the world’? OMG THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE YOU’RE RIGHT!!1!!! lmao roflcopter hurhurhurhur…”

As simple as it sounds, “being the change you want to see in the world” is anything but. First you have to think about and realise what that change is, then begin the long hard journey of embodying it. You want the world to be a more kind, caring and openhearted place? cool; don’t be a dick next time someone takes their time in front of you at the cash register. No, this doesn’t mean “be quiet about your dickness”, it means take a long hard look at the situation and ask yourself why you’re getting so worked up over someone else taking their time, then be cool about it all. BE COOL.

You want the world to be a fairer, more well rounded place? cool, a noble idea…here’s how you can put that into action; don’t be a self-centred/-pitying/-justifying whingebag  next time someone starts grinding on that love interest you’ve been quiet about all those years. It’s just the way things are; you had your chance and didn’t take it because you were so busy watching dawsons creek re-runs in an effort to find the perfect words to say, so step back and let someone else get on with their lives.

It takes effort. A hell of a lot of effort. It is worth it though, when all the effort turns into something you can be proud of, but let’s be honest here; it’s a hell of a lot easier to just copy and paste a quote then think absolutely nothing else of it. That’s the way things are.

I don’t doubt there are a lot of people out there who put sufficient thought into inspirational quotes and actively work on incorporating their meanings into their lives, but the reason above is why I’m very careful about going anywhere near them. I could plaster this page with quotes all over the place and get a fair few more hits every day, but that’d be letting us all off the hook.

So anyway; Kerouac, you sonofa bitch.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”

….*sigh* here we go…

I’m gonna presume that you read the book and put this quote into context, knowing full well that the book is ultimately about disillusionment with that whole beat generation movement and that by the end of the book Kerouac is well enough pissed off with everything he thought he wanted/ saw in the movement that he pretty much does a 180 on the quote above.

Unfortunately, that’s all implied. There’s no counter quote which runs something like “I’m sick of going to parties and ending up talking to that flighty broad in the corner all night just so I can get laid thinking it’s a life changing event. It’s not. It’s two sad, sweaty, lifeless bodies rustling against each other while already mentally compiling the amazing story about it they’re gonna tell their friends the next day in an effort to seem “mad to live; now, then, here, everywhere”. It’s listening to some girl drone on about her friends and what they did while she repeatedly lights cigarettes from the wrong end and cries ‘this never normally happens to me!! wow this conversation must be sooooooo deep’. It’s not thinking she’s the absolutel right woman for me because she’s ‘kooky’, or ‘unusual’ in the way she doesn’t care for things other people do, it’s just ignoring the fact that she’s incredibly boring and empty because I simply want to get laid…no… no the only ones for me are the sane ones; they’re a lot freakier in bed cos they’re not trying so hard to be wild…”

Hipsters, by the way. Kerouac’s quote applies to hipsters. Yes. Unfortunately, where at least the beat generation had Ginsberg and jazz, the modern equivalent has nothing more challenging than Alexa Chung’s musings on fashion and dubstep…

But, for me, that doesn’t go far enough. Hipsters don’t go far enough. Why simply go to a few parties a week? why not make everyday a party? That’s the real way to be “mad to live”. Start your day off with a fine wine. Knock back a few shorts before leaving the house. Why limit yourself to being “mad to talk” when your only with your friends, and only talking about things you already know? Talk to a stranger; tell them about the universe and how mindbogglingly big it is. Yell out something in the street, don’t hold back in public; you gotta be mad.

Better yet; do something Wild and far-out! make a sign; something that implies a deep and meaningful thought while being vague enough to leave the reader thinking. Stand on the street somewhere, hold that sign up high! be proud! You’re mad to live and mad to talk! You blaze a trail across all lives you come in contact with, people coo “awwww” when they see you proudly go where no man, woman, child or animal has gone before!

NOooooo no nononononono….Hipsters -and anyone who lives by this quote thinking it describes them- don’t take it far enough. What; you go out to some fashionable club twice a week and all of a sudden you’re “mad to live, mad to talk” ?! fuck no, you’re nothing of the sort. You gotta take that to the limit…

I hope by now you’ve realised the ridiculousness of all of this. Take those things to the extreme and you’ll be a homeless drunk with a nasty drug habit who routinely yells at people in the street while holding a sign that read “LEMONS!! life! Art! SHOES!!1!”…

Nope, the only ones for me are the ones that know what they’re doing. The ones who say commonplace things in the knowledge how uncommon things can be. The ones who are mad to live by all definitions and not just the “wild, far-out, weird thinking party animal” kind. The ones who burn long, soft but just as brightly as a firework. Fireworks are gone quickly and leave barely a memory behind. No; the only ones for me are the ones who are not mad to talk but mad to listen…there’s a lot more to be learned from listening.

Something you didn’t know about the moon landing…

17 Sep

The moon landing was an iconic moment for the whole world. The first time man dared to touch the realm of the gods, and everyone; each man, woman and child sitting goggle eyed at the television set holding their breath, took part.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound? well, yes…but it doesn’t have as much significance. The moon landing would have still been significant if nobody had known of it by sheer virtue of being an incredible event, but it’s major significance came from the perfect-timing collision of the mass media becoming available to all with the rise of television, the heightened tension of the East/West divide creating an terrifyingle uneasy “deep breath before the plunge” (as Gandalf would say) and the leftover spirit from the summer of love, desperately hanging on the the idea that we might be alright after all*.

*The summer of love, although well documented and celebrated, was depressingly short. 4 months in 1967, to be exact. After that, things went back to business as usual and any large/widespread notion of humanity getting along together and pushing for the betterment of mankind gently receded. One of the major achievements of the moon landing was that it gave one last shot across the bow for peace and cooperation: one mighty reminder that we can actually achieve something remarkably inspirational, rather than something destructive

These things conspired to inspire anyone and everyone who saw the landing at the time and anyone who learns of it anew to this day. Point to the moon and tell a young child that we sent a tin bucket with less processing power than their calculator up there on a whim and a prayer, and watch the sense of wonder spread across their face. We have a tendency to get a bit blassé about these things being godly adults who have been there and done that, but don’t forget the first time you looked at the moon and though “wow…someone went up THERE?!”.

But anyway, here’s something you (probably) didn’t know about the moon landing:

When the BBC (British broadcasting company, the united kingdom’s state television company) broadcast the moon landing live, they got a relatively little known (well, not as well known as they would become..even though they were only a few years going they had a good start) band called ‘Pink Floyd’ to arrange and perform backing music to the footage.

And they did. They performed a rambling instrumental to the footage, adding an extra layer of gravitas to the proceedings with their blend of space rock and far out experimenting.

The amazing thing, to me, is that back in the day the powers that be didn’t feel the need to seperate the sciences and arts from each other. They didn’t think that people with those interests were to be kept away from each other at all costs (as is the case all too often nowadays) and they didn’t automatically assume that something as momentous as the landing had to be given an air of stuffy scientific dullness*, they just thought it would be pretty damn cool to have pink floyd do backing for the moon landing…

well now, that’s just incredible.

*I do appreciate the quiet tension of the original, non musical, coverage though, don’t get me wrong.

Here’s some of the footage anyway, enjoy

(there was a pink floyd night on BBC4 last night, it was great.)

I’ve let things slip

16 Sep

I’ve let thing slip, in too many ways…

In anything, you always need to keep an eye on context and circumstance. Seeing something without keeping these things in mind can easily lead you to over or underreact. My problem is that I usually keep these things too close, so I usually end up underreacting horribly. Something bad happens to someone? well; that’s horrible, I sympathise and understand what you’re going through, respect your position in the grand scheme of things and want to help you get through it… but at the same time there’s probably 3 billion people in the world worse off than you at any given moment. Deal with it, and move on. You’re still alive after all…

This attitude causes me a fair bit of self-aggro because I know I’m leaning too far to one side of the balance. I know this all too well, but often fail to set it right.

keeping all this in mind, it’s safe to say my mother’s had a difficult one. Details aren’t needed, but let’s just say I’m incredibly grateful to have been raised by such a strong woman.

Being an only child of a single parent, and a protective male, I worry about her. I know she’s alright on her own, but still I worry. It’s only natural. Which is why she didn’t tell me anything about her taking a detour home from work, until I got home after a late nights training.

I came in the door to find a football matchday programme sitting on the kitchen table. In my tired state I was confused enough but this was something else entirely. I wondered to myself ‘did ma get me a footy programme on her way past the stadium?” because it simply didn’t occur to me that she would go to a match.

She bounced happily into the room and, with a mischievous grin, told me how she was on her way home from work feeling tired,unappreciated, lonely and just a little bit depressed when she saw the local team was playing a group game for the European league. On the spur of the moment, she decided to see if there were any tickets left, seeing as it was the team she supported with her father as a child and she had nothing to rush home for.

Quite a few things flew through my mind at this point, most of them worries. She went on her own?, what about the crowds? what about her going home at a late hour? what about her health? and, in my flurried state, what about the small but noticeable element of hooliganism?

“I say, you there: come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, old boy!”

I voiced none of these concerns as she sat bubbling away at the kitchen table. She described how, after asking if there were any tickets left at the ticketdesk, the nice young man gave her a free one that someone had left because they couldn’t make it. Importantly, the person who left the ticket told the attendant to give it away for free and, surprisingly in a world that can grind you down all too easily, the attendant didn’t think to make himself some money and just gave it to my mother; happy days all round.

She then went on to describe, between fits of laughter, how she approached the stewards carrying the few bags of shopping from Tesco’s she had bought just before, and another nice young man jokingly ‘confiscated’ a bag of grapes because “he hadn’t had his dinner yet”, after which she gave him a few oranges to tide him over.

After that, she found a seat in the unreserved area alongside another few people who had obviously gone along on their own. There was, yet another, nice young man who spent the whole match with his head in his hands while biting his nails, who kindly offered to grab her a cup of tea at half time, and an older man just behind her who compared any slick pass by a player to someone of his own generation: “great pass…just like georgie best that was…lovely tap there; reminds me of a young Liam Brady…”

It was great to see her genuinely happy, and even greater to have found out that the fates conspired to make her detour as enjoyable as possible.

I’ve let things slip, in too many ways.

Trying too hard to keep things in context, I’ve forgotten just how bloody hard she’s fought all her life, and what an incredible person she is. This story reminded me of many she had told me during my life but which I’d shamefully forgotten. The time she went with women’s rights activists on the train to Belfast so taht they could buy condoms (which, in Catholic Ireland during the 80’s, were strictly illega, immoral and forbidden)…

…or the time her and a similar group of forward thinking women entered a bar and ordered a round of pints (large glasses of beer; don’t know what the American equivalent-if there is one-  is, sorry) to which the barman replied “women don’t drink Pints, they drink lady drinks”…

well, the gathered outside and settled on a plan.

They returned to the barman and ordered a round of whiskeys (expensive stuff in Ireland during the 80’s recession- and yes, this is not the first recession nor will it be the last). The barman obliged, after making sure they wanted them, and then when the large round of whiskeys were laid out on the bar they informed him that they would only pay for the whiskeys when he served them the pints they had asked for…

and many many other stories she’d told me. Some to inform, some to warn (a sombre confession of my late fathers drug habits when she found out I was going the same way springs to mind) and some just to entertain. I had forgotten most of them, until I was reminded just how exemplary she can be.

But the most inspirational, and unfortunately the easiest forgotten, is the things she did without mention. The things she did, and still does, every day to keep things ticking over. The things that you don’t notice when it’s there, but are painfully absent when they’re gone.

I’ve let things slip, in too many ways
Never again shall I waste the days

I wanted to finish this with John Lennon’s ‘mother’ when I started, but it’s a little bit too sad. I don’t know what I’ll do when she’s gone, and it’s only rarely that I listen to that song because it gives me quite a realistic idea of how I’ll feel. No; instead I’ll post something she’d enjoy (and which reminds me of her bouncing into the house after seeing it live, raving about the lightshow, the wall, the music and the nostalgia).

If this post has gotten you thinking about your own mother and you’d rather contemplate mellow, then look up the Lennon song, if not then put this on full screen and sound…and enjoy. That chorus is just heavenly;)

Words to live by: IF.

13 Aug

I hope noone in the authors estate is gonna get antsy with me for putting this up here. All due respect to them and the man himself.

If you’re not into reading it, jump to the bottom.

IF

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

-Rudyard Kipling.

(he forgets an important -to me- line in the first stanza; “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”, but still it’s a pretty good performance. Seems it’s an important piece to him aswell, seeing as he’s been reciting it off by heart since the seventies)

 

Back on the horse

6 Aug

Okay okay okay, stop fucking around and write something…

It being a few weeks since I’ve posted anything, my heightened blogging ego demands that I tell you why, so that I can rest assured that all breaths being held have been exhaled and you are safe and sound in the knowledge that I’m okay…

Meh, it’s good to take a break sometimes. There were reasons, mainly that I was busy, but to be honest it’s always good to take a break.The funny thing about writing stuff, is that with each passing day I didn’t write anything there was more to write about. Soured relationships between family members being gently cleared over a cup of tea. The hacking scandal (I refuse to add the suffix ‘-gate’ to any and all groundbreaking news stories: It’s lazy, stupid, and nonsensical) and the funny but completely overblown sidestory that Rupert Murdochs wife was a stone cold brawler.

The incredible turnaround completed by nearly everyone in the media and public spheres when it was revealed that the Norwegian mass murderer was not, as thought/presumed ignorantly, a rabid muslim but a blue eyed christian was something that had me itching to write. But, I decided against writing a four page discourse on the use of language in the influencing of public perception for fear it would flag me up with it’s excessive use of danger words, intelligence and mockery. So, instead of a riveting commentary, you’ll have to do with a simple question:

Did you notice the complete absence of the label ‘terrorist’ when it came out that the killer was not a muslim? Gone was talk of ‘hate’, ‘jihad’ and all discussion of ‘why do Muslims hate Norway?!’, in came talk of ‘lunacy’ and sombre examinations of what could push such a person to do carry out such horrible actions…I have not witnessed such an amazing turnaround since Debbie did Dallas.

hmm….methinks those words will get me flagged anyway. SO, to persuade any g-man/scanning software snooping my page for evidence of violent tendencies that I didn’t mean the words written above to be taken as agreement with awful, horrific beliefs, here’s a pic for you. Hopefully, in the good old ‘short and punchy statement of being’ spirit of the internet (which, let’s be honest here is just fucking unbelievable…here we are with access to the world’s combined knowledge/experience and we’re defined by 140 characters or less and our humble contribution to the Lolcat meme) it will convince you that I did not, I repeat did not, write them cos I’m in any way sympathetic to senseless violence and in fact I’m just a harmless cuddlebunny. Anyway; have a good day G-man, have a good day.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder (Absence, or Absinthe? not sure…more hands-on research needed), in more ways than the saying intends.

Here’s hoping that this post can dispel that terrible nonfeeling you get when you’re struggling to put words to thoughts. Although the fact that I half wrote this last night, then rambled away to watch Mad Max 2 with a nice cup of tea doesn’t bode well. We’ll see. I’ve got a damn good cup of coffee, so there might be a flurry coming. Either way I apologise for the nonsense contained herein; you deserve better.