Thursday, April 23, 2009

Journalism FAIL

I saw Robert Fisk tonight. Rather, I heard him speak at a lecture called, "Politics, Journalism and Globalisation of the Middle East." Man, what a crock of shit.

Not only did he do his damnedest to sell his book(s) but he wouldn't answer my question. At all.

FISK: Yes, the young lady in the back.
ME: Mr. Fisk, since you have mentioned that online journalism isn't going to succeed, and print journalism is a dying art, where do you recommend readers get their news, and moreover, how and where do you think journalism is going?
FISK: Oh. You're an American, eh? Well... journalism is changing, and that change can be seen on the internet, and making sure that online journalists can maintain a readership is important, but completely different from MY experiences... blah, blah, blah, buy my book(s).

Listen up, Fisk, I know that you're a big shot and you don't have to answer to anybody because you've achieved a buncha great things in your life, but your profession has to answer to someone, and that someone is The Rest of Us.

I wish I'd gotten an answer and then I wish I hadn't re-read his articles, because now I'm just pissed off that this guy gets to write garbage and is revered for it.

i don't know that for a fact. i can't say that. he obviously has some serious in-depth analysis and his writing is cohesive and well-supported. but it's still biased. and now, so am i.

Can you answer to THAT?

Monday, April 13, 2009

tools of the trade

i wrenched my back. this phrase leads me to a cacophony of puns and thoughts that have to do with tools.

getting screwed.
getting hammered.
hammer toes.
getting nailed.

none of them are quite as painful as a wrenched back. god, this is miserable.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Well then. Now that I'm back in Ireland, fully re-adjusted and re-settled, I would like to say this:

Where did the semester go? I can't believe it's almost over. I know I haven't been writing much for the past several weeks, but there's a perfectly good reason for it -- I've been traveling. A lot. And I'll be traveling more at the very end of the semester before I come home to my Chicago.

Oh, did you want to hear about Paris? And London? I promise I'll recount the adventures as soon as I can decode my random scribblings on various receipts, cocktail napkins, brochures, and coasters. I scribbled a lot.

For now, I'll be buried in my schoolbooks.

Monday, April 6, 2009

the end of the adventure

oh dear. this is it. the end. it is monday now and we spent sunday going to the sherlock holmes museum, the war cabinet rooms (churchill museum) and then walked around a bunch to see big ben, parliament, and then found a place to eat. we finished up sunday with a jack the ripper tour at night, which was kinda spooky, but mostly annoying because of the people in the massive crowd who had seen "From Hell" with Johnny Depp and considered themselves 'experts' on te subject. tools.

monday was short and sweet. very sweet. we went back to the muffin man, where i think i will always go to whenever i am in london. the cupcakes were outstanding and the food was delightful. i will miss the muffin man.

we flew out on monday (today's post) and got back to ireland safe and sound. then we proceeded to watch "From Hell" and reinforce the belief that people are dumb. dinner was had. bus timetables were looked at.

it was a nice adventure. i don't want it to end.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

London Calling

I must be Irish. There's no other explanation for how I reacted, or rather, WANTED to react to the British customs officer when we left Paris...

picture this:
a long hallway in the train station, the French customs officer five feet in front of me, and the British customs officer stationed five feet beyond that...

FRENCH OFFICER: Do you have anything to declare?
ME: Nope. Just going to London.
FRENCH OFFICER: Okay. Move ahead.

I walk a few feet and come to the British officer.

BRIT: Do you have identification?
(I pull out my passport and Irish "Garda National Immigration Bureau" card -- GNIB card)
ME: Yep. Here ya go.
BRIT: Hm. Ireland, eh?
ME: Yes, I'm studying there.
BRIT: I take it that you mean SOUTHERN Ireland then?

MY THOUGHTS: What?! SOUTHERN??? How DARE you call it SOUTHERN! It's the REPUBLIC! Nothing you would know of, you English ASSHOLE! They broke their backs for YOUR country, and now you have the nerve to describe the majority of an island your ancestors attempted to colonize as a REGION? How DARE you?!?

ME: (after some nudging from Evan) Ahem. YES. Southern Ireland.
BRIT: Enjoy your visit. Move ahead.

GRRRRRRR. Maybe it's having been in Ireland for a few months, maybe it was the fact that I knew my history, but man, that guy annoyed me.

That was the last irritation I suffered from during my time in London, though. Evan and I took another bicycle tour, where our guide turned out to be Irish. I felt a certain kinship with him from recognizing his accent as Cork, and we conversed as I would with any of my friends from Limerick.

We saw the palace, although it was a bit disappointing after having visited Versailles, which made the English palaces look like a two-bedroom ranch-style house in the suburbs, comparatively. We saw some beautiful monuments, the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, and a messload of other places. The biggest difference I saw was how Paris looked like it might fall apart if you shook it too hard or stomped your feet. It was delicate. London is a SOLID city -- stable, reliable, and above all, intimidating. I also enjoy the fact that they speak English there.

We went to see "Les Miserables" near Piccadilly Circus on Friday night, which kindled my interest in seeing as many big shows as possible now: "The Lion King," "Chicago," "Wicked..." I want to see them all. As soon as possible. You should too.

You should also visit the Churchill Bunkers. This is easily the BEST museum I have ever been to -- it was interactive, informational, and, because Churchill was such a character, thoroughly entertaining.

The weekend and our trip concluded with a visit to the British Museum and dinner with friends. It was fairly amazing. You should try it sometime.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

travel itinerary

Leaving Paris might have been a sadder event had it not been for the way I left. On a train. A BULLET train. Specifically, the bullet train that goes from Paris to London. In TWO hours.

We spent our last day in Paris (for now) tromping through the gardens and visiting St. Sulpice. You may remember St. Sulpice as the church that Dan Brown (hack, hack -- what? I have a cough. HACK.) made famous in "The DaVinci Code."

I have a shy, slightly strained relationship with religion. It's a subject that requires more attention than I can give to a simple posting, but put plainly, I don't know how to relate to it. Yet, walking into this church, which by the way, was the first church that looked... authentic, threw me off. It was massive, of course, but it was also being utilized in the manner for which it was meant. People were PRAYING. For real.

There was a woman who was taking water from a particular saint's altar, most likely asking for help with her garden, because that was what the saint (I wish I could remember who it was) seemed to exist for. I kept thinking, "Why is she here instead of, well, TENDING to her garden? Wouldn't that make more sense?"

Europe is full of churches. I knew that when I signed up for this adventure. What I didn't know was how it would affect me. It scares me, but also reassures me that people have a guide, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, VooDoo, or what-have-you.

After consulting all the guides I've gotten for traveling, it doesn't seem as strange now to see other people consulting their spiritual guides. After all, it's the best way to get where we want to get to.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Fine Art: Degrees of

Synopsis: Evan and Shama get more culture than cottage cheese! Art, art, and more art! From the modern to the classics, these two time-travel around Paris and find out what the "Royal Treatment" really means in Versailles. They really "canvass" the area!

Is anyone else getting sick of this style of posting? Or is it just me? Man, I just want to talk about Paris, and make it interesting. I want to be able to look back on these entries and say, "Wow. I really did that. I saw all this neat stuff."

Maybe that's why people create art. To remember.

What I remember is going to the Pompidou Centre first, and seeing the Alexander Calder exhibit. It was more than fabulous. It was downright entertaining. I am consistently amazed by artists and their ability to make something out of nothing -- in Calder's case, it was making sculptures from wire. I know it might not sound any more interesting than looking at a closet full of cheap hangers, but it was magical. The center itself was pretty nifty too, although it reminded me of a cross between a giant hamster tube and Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

From there, we took a train out to Versailles. Painters and sculptors must have made a killing off of the royal ego. I don't know much about art, but I know that I saw a LOT of it here. How to describe Versailles? In a word: Decadent. My only prior knowledge of it (sad to say) is from Sofia Coppola's (blech) movie, "Marie Antoinette" (BLEEECCCH). I knew it would be grand and stuff, but I wasn't prepared to walk through golden gates, or stroll the ultimate backyard, or wander through rooms that I thought only existed in Merchant Ivory films. I swear, I thought those movies embellished the luxury. Not so, not so.

On our way back, we decided that we needed to go to The Louvre, because, well, it's The Louvre. The whole day felt a little like a fairy tale -- a palace, the journey, the people -- I even met a knight in shining armor.