Monday, August 23, 2010

Offsetting Tweeting Time with Little Red Roosters!

Recently I have to admit that I have been spending too much time on my Twitter site, something which has become a kind of new but late ‘addiction’ in my life. This my daughters explained to me was rather like regularly watching Judge Judy or Come Dine with Me on TV,(previous addictions!), understandable in small doses but hardly a beneficial way to spend most of my time. They then expressed a wish that I ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ do better to quote a famous American TV Judge! Here I can sense a pang of jealousy from many of my Twitter followers when they see how lucky I am in the area of life advice as I can rely not only on my good wife but also on my daughters to set me on the ‘straight and narrow’ path to true fulfilment. When I humbly replied that ‘AH’, I did not really spend that much time tweeting, they simply replied that ‘Ah’ was not an answer. Now where did I hear that expression before? So in an attempt to assist me in achieving a proper life ‘balance’, our two daughters gave my wife and I two red rooster hens to mind for our recent anniversary. Our grandchildren have named the chickens Chum,Chum and Emperor. Thus, we now have two daughters, two grandchildren and two hens to mind to varying degrees of satisfaction!

I can happily report however, that we have become very attached to our new fowl friends. (or should that be friends fowl!) So much so in fact, that this writer is planning to extend the flock and has started planning a converted chicken run/shed where our old cold bunkers used to be located. I classify the decision to replace the cold bunkers with a self sustaining hen run as a positive response to global warming. Needless to say my daughters are not entirely happy about this turn of events as they feel that I am now turning the whole venture into a small chicken farm. One of them also fears for the emotional wrench which our cat of some 10 yrs+ will experience on the arrival of the extended new fowl breed. However, they should not worry at all as in the allocation of affection to our daughters, grandchildren and pets there is an unlimited degree of love to go around! Now what time does Judge Judy start on TV to-day?

Warning Note: This blog entry is for light ‘comic’ relief only and I should in no way be considered as a ‘hen pecked’ husband as a result of same. However, I will admit that a new pecking order may be established as a result of this venture in our house.

P.S: This blog is best appreciated while listening to ‘Little Red Rooster’ by the Rolling Stones

Wonderous Worldly Reflections in a Glass-Bar None?

I think that it was William Thackeray who said that ‘the world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflections of his own face’. This is of course a profound and thought provoking statement and it is one which my wife and I have begun to take seriously to heart in recent times. I hasten to add that this inclination has arisen, not so much as a result of a conscious decision on our part, but more out of a response to the diversity of our social interaction.

A little background context might be opportune at this point as some people on Twitter are notoriously prone to misread the intentions of my light blog discourses. So let me therefore say that my good wife and I have been married happily for some 30+ years and during this time we have made a habit of visiting ‘The Front Door’ public house in Galway at weekends after work in order to enjoy some light refreshment and ‘chew over’ the events of the day both in our working lives and in the nation as a whole. There is I’m sure you’ll agree nothing new or unusual in such a habit but I have noticed of late a subtle shift in my wife’s behaviour during these social events. On first reflection this change would not seem significant. Our drinking, eating and social discourse remains as committed and intense as ever but a new factor has entered the equation in recent weeks. Simply stated, my wife has begun to take photos with her mobile phone of and through her half empty wine glass and to consider them as ‘artistic’ images. At first I thought that this new photographic creativity was simply the result of imbibing a little too much of the contents of these glasses prior to the photographs being taken. But this theory would not appear to hold water, or in this case wine, as it were. She has now begun to string a number of these images together into an artistic ‘statement’ and has even extended her camera capers to include the liquid content of glasses at home as well. At first, I thought this might be a reflection on the ‘quality’ or indeed intensity of her social interaction after so many years spent waffling together. However, she has assured me that I should not worry ‘my pretty little gray head’ about such matters and see it simply as a maturing of her own artistic bent.

So eager as I am as always to support my creative partner, I have decided to embrace this new found artistic endeavour and have now begun to take photos of pints of Guinness myself. Not content however to simply reproduce what to others might appear to be ‘banal’ images, we have embarked upon profound discussions on life occasioned by the ‘distorted’ images reflected in these glass receptacles. I for example, have gained a new insight into the cycles of life itself by studying the rings of creamy froth left on the inside of a Guinness glass as the black gold liquid retreats with each giant slug of consumption. We have taken to compare our captured images with great pride in our respective achievements and there is certainly a new warm glow of satisfaction in our facial expressions. Indeed, thanks to the spirit of William Thackeray, it can truly be said that the world for us is indeed a looking glass, which to anyone visiting the ‘Front Door’ Pub can be seen truly reflected on our flushed faces!

Warning Note: This blog entry is for comic purposes only and it should in no way be considered as reflecting adversely on my fine wife’s artistic endeavours. Snap Happy?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brought to Book by Savonarola in Ferrara

Anyone who has spent a vacation trip abroad for a few weeks with either a partner or paramour knows the importance of sharing good book choices, especially as a reasonable selection of English language books is often difficult to find in bookshops abroad. I can just hear the techie geeks among you cry that an I-Pad or Kindle device would save all this trouble. However, let me hasten to add that a book is a much more preferable option for holiday reading because, it is easy to pack, light to carry and can be replaced at a very low cost if stolen or misplaced. Furthermore, you can lie back on a sun chair and easily balance a paperback book above your head when necessary, thus providing oneself with part shade from the suns scorching rays!

So on a recent visit to Italy my wife and I each chose three books which we agreed to interchange to prolong our literary enjoyment. However, a small problem soon arose over the choices we had made. One of her books was by Anne Tyler called Noah’s Compass which I had already read and which described a computer challenged man in his early sixties with a loss of memory who had just retired. For someone who is in his early sixties and anticipating retirement in the next few years I’m afraid that I neither related to or sympathised with the description of this man on first reading (he appeared more of a caricature of someone in his eighties to me) and thus I did not relish having to reread it for a second time. Her second choice was a book by Philip Roth Called American Pastoral. However, on rushing to pack, she instead brought a different book called Everyman by Philip Roth which we both had read before. The latter is an excellent read but as we had both read it in the last few months, its presence with us was hardly a reason for celebration. I must admit here that I also made my own error in judgement having selected The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk which after perusing two chapters I decided was a ‘chick lite’ tome for women readers only and so I abandoned it. Fortunately, we both enjoyed Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb describing the life of a forlorn country & western singer trying to make a comeback. In fairness, however, this latter book could I suppose be described at ‘man-lite’ in that it appeared unduly sympathetic at least in the early chapters to overweight, drunk and strung out older men! Our other choices:’ Let the Great World Spin’ (Colum McCann) and Netherland (Joseph O’Neill) were mutually appreciated and fit for purpose, as it were.

However, the book that we both enjoyed so much was ‘Scourge and Fire: Savonarola and Renaissance Italy’ by Lauro Martines. Its subject was particularly apt as we were staying in Ferrara, in Northern Italy at the time and there is a statue in the main square celebrating the fact that the famous monk was born here. However, those familiar with the basic facts of the life of Girolamo Savonarola will know that his main influence was in the city of Florence where his preaching and life style had such a profound influence of the inhabitants, the method of city administration and on the Medici and Papal Church in particular. I have read some other books on the Medici and the Renaissance, but this one is by far the most interesting in the breadth of it’s analysis on the conflicting forces shaping the lives of those in Florence and indeed throughout Italy in the early 15th century. Both my wife and I found it to be the best and most insightful book on this period that we ever read. Furthermore, it reads like a thriller and is not in the least dry or academic in its presentation. Hence, it gave us a new insight into the life of one of Ferrara’s most famous sons and into the background of that lovely city itself. Indeed it could be argued that the forces at work in shaping the history of Florence at that period have a real resonance with those affecting our own recessionary world at the moment.

Thus, it can truly be said that it was Savonarola who brought us ‘to book’ in the wonderful medieval city of Ferrara.

Finally, if you truly wish to savour the full benefits of this book and the city of Ferrara, may I suggest that you take up this book with a glass of Sangiovese wine and read it to the accompaniment of the CD ‘Nostos’, being jazz music (Marangolo Tavolazzi & Bandini) from that city. Magic! Salute!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Pooch for a Mooch!

Came across this lovely card in an Italian Railway Station: roughly translated by non Italian speaker -

AAA Owner Sought:

Gentle, cute, affectionate, generous, tender, cuddly, sympathetic, amusing; pleasing to all and very playful; refrains from losing time-

How can any mere human compete with that sad melancholic face!

Truly a Pooch for a Mooch!

I love him!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life is a Lemon,Twitter is a Peach?

As I recently set off on a working/leisure break I was listening on the car radio to the Meatloaf CD track ‘Life is a lemon and I want my money back’ and thinking how enjoyable the music was but how little this lyrical sentiment reflected my situation at that time. However, on later perusing the tweets/comments on my last Man Code Lovable Lion blog, I began to wonder if indeed life was a lemon for some people on my phone cyberspace at least. You see, most of the sentiments expressed seems to warmly embrace the exaggerated ‘humour’ of the piece but unfortunately a small number of others seemed to have been left with sour lemon like taste and to take the blog as having a ‘serious’ intent. I do not wish to take issue with peoples likes or dislikes where any of my blog entries are concerned but I am mystified how this banal little verse could cause offense to anyone. So let me offer a little background explanation as a courtesy to any hurt feelings. The intention of all my blog verses is simply to amuse and any little teasing of others is undertaken solely to elicit a similar amusing response. Thus for example, in my last humble effort, I set out a paean to the ‘supposed’ lion like quality of the male not as an attack on any female identity or writing but simply as an attempt to illicit some humour from the perpetual misunderstandings which can arise in relationships between the sexes. I of course fully realise that for every ‘cougar woman’ there is at least 2/3 cheetah(er?) men and that many men exhibit the qualities of a barely house trained alley cat more than that of the proud lion in their home life. However, I was simply trying to set out a humorous case in ‘light’ verse for a perspective on the ‘male’ as a lion like creature because every lion has his ‘pride’ in family relationships. (Aagh!) If some prefer to see the male as more of an alley cat that a lion, that is there undoubted privilege.

I think the ‘verse’ form itself could also be the cause of some misunderstandings especially when used with rhyming couplets. Some followers of mine have expressed great appreciation of these ‘poems’. However, I myself think of them as mere rough ‘stones’ rather than poetic gems. To me they are merely crude instruments of language employed for short term fun. Thus while many people also consider Twitter to be a social media ‘ Peach’, I feel that in the case of my blog entries at least, one should be forewarned that even peaches can contain some large stones and that this fact should be borne in mind when consuming the verse content of my blog.

My own interest in Twitter relates more to sharing blog entries than to short 140 character tweets and I do not see any advantage is seeking an ever increasing band of followers. I myself started tweeting as a means of ‘filling in’ time, sometimes in a hopefully amusing way as a counterbalance to the current recession which has reduced my opportunity to work at my profession. However, I’m glad to report that my work has begun to increase again and hence I do not intend to spend as much time as previously on the social net. However, I would be pleased to continue to share my views by blog and tweet with others on Twitter when the opportunity presents itself.

May I end this blog entry therefore by sincerely thanking all those who have taken and indeed continue to take the time to share their views with me however critical?

All I ask in return is that I do not be totally misunderstood.

To those who expressed ‘dismay’ at my absence from Twitter in recent weeks, may I gladly report therefore that the Lion (pussycat) is back in the Jungle!! Meow? Roar?

PS: See blog Entry for April 12th 2010: Please Don't let me Be Misunderstood!