Friday, November 21, 2008

There are more than a dozen parody versions of this scene from The Fallen currently available on You Tube. Here are two of my favourites:

The housing boom goes bust

and John McCain graciously concedes defeat

What surprises me is that no-one has done one in an Irish flavour. I mean it's not as if our leaders hadn't seen a number of reversals of late what with Bertie's downfall, the back down on the budget and the terminal decline of the PDs.

Come on Irish viral videopushers, get yer finger out

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cal-punk outfit goes digital mainstream

Dash Text: [ESRB: T (Teen) LYRICS,MILD SUGGESTIVE THEMES] Build your Rock Band library by purchasing this song game track pack: Dead Kennedys Pack 01. This pack includes "California Über Alles," "Holiday in Cambodia," and "Police Truck" by Dead Kennedys.

Hmmm, I'm wondering whether this is suitable Christmas stocking material for impressionable young minds, if only because the bleep quotient is likely to be insurmountably high. Which is probably why they left out this classic from 1981:

Now that takes me back. To my student days, somewhere between The Russell Club and Placemate 7 as I recall.

But times, like tastes, change as does one's capacity for alcohol and digital fripperies. These days I'd probably settle for this gem from those ever so clever lads at Schadenfreude Interactive GmbH

Status Quo and Metallica tunes on the piano accordion, what could better capture the Yuletide spirit?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dulce et decorum est pro patria vivo

November 11th is a date that, for as long as I can remember, leaves me full of deep emotional ambivalence. My father and my maternal grandfather both took the King's shilling and joined up in 1914 and 1939 respectively.

Grandad, a young groom from Kilkenny, joined the Royal Army Service Corps, where no doubt his experience with horses came in handy. He served in Gallipoli, Egypt and the trenches of Northern France where he lost his sight in a mustard gas attack. His British Army paybook recorded the cause of his discharge as a simple case of 'granular trachoma', rather than indicating that he was a fortunate survivor of a monstrous weapon of mass destruction.

At school in Birkenhead, where Wilfred Owen was a home-boy hero, it was easy for me to understand the bitter black irony in his poem Dulce et decorum est and yet hard to explain it to my schoolboy pals, raised as we all were on the nobility of war through comic books and history classes.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

In my imagination, my grandfather was that floundr'ing man.

My father joined up to continue a war against fascism that for him had begun against Mosely's blackshirted thugs on the streets of Birkenhead in the 1930s. He enlisted in the 8th Battalion (Irish) of the King's Liverpool Regiment and spent most of the war in England and Scotland preparing for the second front. When it came in June 1944 he embarked for Normandy on the Ulster Monarch, a vessel that would later carry his family back and forth to Ireland until the 1960's.

He was landed on Juno Beach on the morning of 6th of June but failed to make it any further into France. Wounded by a mortar shell on the most heavily defended beach of the D-Day landings he was evacuated back to England. Juno took the lives of many, if not most, of his 8th Battalion comrades.

So many died on that morning that his battalion was disbanded and he spent the rest of the war attached to other units. He was MIA after the Ardennes offensive in late 1944 and then a witness to the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp the following year.

Like my grandfather before him, when his war ended he collected his demob suit and came home to his young wife and tried to resume his life as best he could.

Their wars were something both men put behind them. It was not something that was dwelt upon. They donned a poppy in November and observed two minutes silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. They carried no pretensions regarding the nobility of war or the importance of patriotism. Neither man would willingly discuss their experiences, which had neither ennobled nor diminished them. They had both killed and nearly been killed by men like themselves, forced into foreign fields away from their lovers and families. The war shaped their lives but did not make it.

Remembrance for them was not a celebration death and glory, of flags and battle honours but a moment of regret felt in the hope that their history would not be repeated. I remember them both not for their status as warriors, but as ordinary men who survived horrors inflicted on them that I can barely imagine.

It is the living not the dead we should cherish, the survivors not the fallen, for we can do nothing for the fallen except ensure that their sacrifice is not repeated anew.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The fate of Western civilization relies on this?

There was a time when the quadrennial clusterfuck that is the US presidential election would have interested me. As a committed world citizen, albeit of the Marxist variety, what happened on election night across the Atlantic did seem to be of some significance, even if, in reality, it boiled down to a choice between two fatal diseases: one that killed you in a week, the other in a fortnight.

However, since that unfortunate business with the chavs, the chards, the chads, or what ever it was they called them down in Florida, I have simply given up. The American people, whom I love as one would a sibling, (albeit a slightly edgy one with a penchant for nunchucks and hand-guns) just sat back and allowed a coup to occur and did feck all about it. I was disappointed in them to say the least.

See, unlike most of the Irish people that I know, I actually love America and its people. I love their optimism, enthusiasm, their boundless faith in the idea, if not the practice, of democracy. Even speaking as a Marxist, should the revolution ever happen, the document I would use to frame my post-revolutionary, socialist utopia would be the American constitution and the Bill of Rights. But the last time around when they allowed their democracy to be stolen from them without the merest protest I began to have me doubts.

Since then, I couldn't care less about who they elect because despite all the fuss it really doesn't make a difference. Not just to me as a resident of this small fucked-up outpost at the arse-end of Western Europe that is Ireland but just generally. Should Obama win, he's not going to do anything to rock the boat of US corporate capitalism, like introduce a decent health or education system. Unless he's been lying through his teeth, the black communities aren't going to see any change in their lot any time soon. And despite what they said on RTE tonight, Obama probably does know who and where we are and could care less.

I love you America, but it strikes me you're like lions led by donkeys and you're so seduced by the notion of your own democracy that you can't be bothered to defend it or even look at how it's used against you.

As the old Revolutionary Communist Party slogan said 'If voting could change anything, it would be made illegal'. Nowhere is this truer than the USA tonight. Whoever wins.