Internet potpourri with Peter Allen

A bowl of fragrant internet opinions

Obligatory blog post about the toy show.

image   Its that time of year again where I say “its that time of year again”, its time for the late late toy show. For all the uninitiated Carls out there, the toy show is a TV special aired in late November or early December of a popular chat show that has been around since 1962, the second longest running talk show ever. In the special a bunch of children and the presenter run around talking about and playing with some toys, also celebrities may show up to the set with high blood alcohol levels.

So its a toy commercial, however its also the nearest thing to the super bowl in terms of a television event in Ireland with ratings reaching as high as 1.5 million, out of a population of 4.5 million. Its like Ireland’s black Pete in terms of weird isolated Christmas traditions.So now I have explained the concept, I will now talk as if you know what I am on about, google exists.

The picture above is the time some woman won money and toy show tickets in a competition the show ran the week before that years toy show, but she said she did not want the tickets, so Pat Kenny ripped them up to the horror of everyone watching. Its for me the greatest TV moment ever. The concept of not worshiping the toy show was an alien concept to me at the time, however time moved on. Pat Kenny, who was a wonderful host, was replaced by Dublin 4’s very own human embodiment of the aids virus, I also grew older and more cynical. I have now become that woman on the phone accepting her prize, I don’t care about the toy show and I will probably never care again, here comes a stupid list of reasons why.

1. Ryan Tubridy.

This man is a mystery to me, was there really no one else they could get to present the show?. He tries so hard to be charismatic and nice when you know he is a total prick when your not looking. I could at least imagine myself being friends with Pat Kenny and Gay Byrne. One was hilariously easy going but confident, when he was playing with those toys he was having fun and most importantly he did not linger too long or shun anything or anyone, making the show feel easygoing thanks to his presenting style. Gaybo was the pioneer who was always good tempered and gentlemanly making the toy show what I would call a wholesome affair.

However the walking AIDs virus tends to linger on children it seems he wants us to pity or maybe admire, cant tell, like the fellow in the wheelchair who wanted to be a clock maker a few years back. He seems to spend half the show talking about crap Children’s books whilst rushing past the video games at the end and treating them like the work of the devil with his stupid smug face. On the topic of contempt for the audience, his time presenting brought in sections of the show where toys under 10 euro or some such were shown just to make sure those struggling parents really felt like shit. He also ushered in the second problem.

2. The hills are alive with the sound of lame.

The over reliance on dance numbers and musical acts is questionable. No one cares about the acts on the show, its just a parental dick/ovary waving contest for parents to see their sprogs on TV. There is a reason no one wants to go to school plays, children suck at performance arts. One can just tell that that girl singing on stage will be a cocaine addict in 15 years time and the parents will be culpable. Besides, half the show could be freed up if if they trimmed out the musical performances, leaving more time for the fun stuff they usually have to rush. Seeing the toys being played with and fun being had is the real reason why the toy show is loved, not for soulless and lame performances.

3. RTE shenanigans.

Everyone takes the piss out of Newstalk for being owned by Denis O’Brien, however it would make more sense to take the piss out of RTE being owned by the state. Government controlled broadcasters can afford to be complacent when they can rely on the state and not entirely on fickle audiences. Viewership is dropping in the new age of streaming services and internet video platforms, RTE have ceased making any Children’s programming relying instead on cheap imported fare. RTE is the sort of broadcaster who airs its best imported shows at 11 pm on  a Tuesday, if anyone has any other options at all, they will not watch RTE if they have any sense. So now we have a weeks worth of preview ‘behind the scenes of the toy show’, programmes before the main event itself, advertisements for garbage are crammed on to the show and the tackiest celebrities of the week are brought in, such as One Direction and other corporate hacks that children look up to. Gone are the days when an appearance from Dustin the turkey was more than enough.

In general terms I feel the Toy show became very cynical in presentation over the past 10 years losing the warmth I once felt from it because of all the baggage tacked on to it. The show has lost its way and its hard to care about a second of it. However it is for better or worse now part of Irish culture, and deserves respect for what it used to be if not for what it is becoming.

Next time: The Firefly blog was not cancelled in some ironic twist, it was just delayed. Tzai Jien.





Fantastically Boring action and where to find it.

JacobNewtTinaPromo_-_EntertainmentWeekly.png           So it was a Wednesday evening when some of my co-workers from my secret agent job at MI5 texted me about seeing a film and the main choices were seeing the new Ben Affleck vehicle or the new Harry Potter film. So off we went to see “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them”, which we will refer to it as “that film”, from here on in.

What occurred to me whilst watching that film is how bloody boring the action scenes were, almost always unimaginative and static relying heavily on CGI. To be honest I was heavily reminded of the Star wars prequels in this aspect. Now this may be just mine own view but an over reliance on special effects rendered on a computer by an army of animators sucks the soul out of most films. Yes I know all modern animation houses use computers to aid their work but live action is inherantly different. For me throwing a bunch of digital crap onto the screen an exiting action or special effects set piece does not make. How much more special would the scenes with magic in them be if in most of the film magic was not present at every moment?, one feels overexposed to the things that should evoke a sense of wonder and exitement in this feature making those things mundane and benign.

I find a practical film much more impressive by comparison, Mad Max Fury Road for example had breathtaking genre pushing practical stuntwork and effects and just for that it is one of the most visually impressive films of the last 10 years. The film still uses a great deal of CGI to achieve that wonderful look of dust flying everywhere and this heightens the feeling of chaos throughout the film, you can use CGI, just do not rely on it entirely, practical film making should be complimented not sidelined by effects added in post production. Everything that can be done practically, should be done practically.

The recent film “Arrival”, directed by Denis Villeneuve is an example where more restricted action can be more exiting, Villeneuve and his team are fantastic at portraying a very simple scene of someone walking and or talking when the tension is high and making it a thrilling action moment. There is a moment where the main characters are in danger from death by 5.56 mm nato where the threat passes without incident and no one is hurt and with the use of the wonderfully weird score and camera work it is fantastically exiting in a way that film never achieves with its overblown fake action.

Some of the scenes in that film are technically poor anyway, most of the creatures look like that fell out of the uncanny valley and hit some tree branches on the way down. Eddy Reddmayne is a terrible actor who really seems to struggle to interact with all the CGI things that are not there and compensates with an acting style reminiscent of Ardal O’Hanlon in “Father Ted”, where he acts as a comedy slapstick goofball with an off putting vacant expression on his face the whole time.

In fact I get the impression that the over reliance on CGI is a consequence of the brand, the potterheads who still remain after all this time will happily watch any new film related to the series as long as it has pandering fan service and so on. So the filmakers do not need to take any risks taking the world of Potter in any new exiting direction as long as they can please existing fans and can lazily rely on the army of animators to finish it by throwing together all these boring and disjointed scenes where the roof caves in and the smoke monster from “lost”, destroys Manhattan. I doubt J.K. Rowling cares enough to take any writing risks either, she still gets paid fat stacks o’cash for anything she shovels out of the sty. But by god does one have to respect that.

So yeah I was pretty underwhelmed by that film on many levels and found it a creatively tired film part of an exhausted franchise, See “Arrival”, instead.

Next time I might wright about Firefly and why I like it, or maybe something else. Ciao Carl.


Questions of travel.

download                                                                              So Carl its that time of the week where I think about writing something for the old blog. I had a few run ins with Steve over the past week and I would love to angrily write about the wrongs of the world as I see them in every blog post I do until the end of time, and believe me I will from next week on wards for a good long stretch of time. However I want to do something lighter this week.

In my search for soft news I thought, weirdly enough, about everyone’s favorite alchoholic and/or lesbian and/or poet, Elizabeth Bishop. At first I thought about how well she can pull off a straw hat, hence the photo above. But also she made me think about places I may like to visit before I return to the dirt.

Now I have not left good old Eire in a while, at least not in the last seven years and that was only a trip to Manchester to see the last great generation of man united players in action, that is another story. The cause of this is partly financial of course and that is my own problem, but also the discord travel tends to inflict on ones well being. The waiting around in the airport, carrying your bags, living in unfamiliar and uncomfortable surroundings, the many unattractive things about travel that are well documented.

What does make the ordeals worth the trouble, why do people travel? The main reason I might go to a place is wanting to live in an extension of an escapist fantasy that I have had already. I am guilty of being a world war 2 junkie for example, I get such pleasure from the settings and paraphernalia of the most tragic event in human history, it should be illegal. I have lapped up all of the various media based on the war,  from News reels to Generation: War. First stop on the historic tourism trail would of course be Normandy where I would be put in jail immediately for walking around the place with a Garand M1 and doing my best dog impression. The beaches of D-Day, the hedges where many an 88 lay in wait, the once beseiged city of Caen. Why not go north east to Belgium where the battlefields of Flanders fields and the Ardennes await, and before that stop into Bruges so I can make movie references, Ugh such fun it would be.

So beyond the other obvious ww2 related places like Berlin and wherever Vasily Zaytsev’s Mosin Nagant is being kept, where else is there? Games which allow me to explore all the exotic places that either don’t exist or would usually require you to put on pants have provided me with ample escapism from daily life and quenched my desire for exploration rather effectively. However the video game settings that also may be cool in real life would be the U.S mid west, Poland and a rather unlikely one, Wake Island. These places I would visit because of my adventures in Fallout, the Witcher and one of my favorite Battlefield maps respectively, however to get to Wake I would need to join the U.S military and that isn’t possible. But to what end anyway, every video game has an ending or at least a point where it becomes a chore. In that way video games are much like the human experience they try to simulate. No matter where you go, Elizabeth will be there to remind us we will have to soon return, return to all of things we left to escape from.

And how right Liz was, perhaps staying at home and thinking of there is certainly the more sensible option. Perhaps focusing less on getting away and concentrating more on how you can improve your life here is a more logical endeavour.

Next week, more musings from moi, Pierre.


Smart cities project

Smart cities video                                                                                                                                               This is a video produced for a school module, its the story of one man navigating a campus safely using a wheelchair and the power of technology, such as elevators!Automatic doors! Flat ground! To be fair this is an important topic, the more accessible our cities are the more life will be  improved for people like Steven. So please keep the issue in mind.

What is a potpourri?

jackie-chan-wtfSomeone once asked me  if I liked stuff and had opinions, trying to make a friend and hoping to impress them I said I did. Boy Carl was that a mistake, turns out my new friend was pretty smart and and I had to steal stuff to like and also opinions on that stuff from the internet and people around me everyday so I could sound interesting, years later I like such a vast repertoire of stuff and have so many opinions they often hurt my mind, so you know that bit in harry potter where Dumbeldore takes memories and stuff out of his mind and puts them in a birdbath, well this blog is my birdbath.

Choose your future.

Choose Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and hope that someone somewhere cares,choose a career,choose a two hour drive to work and the same for your kids only worse, choose a partner, choose to never own your own home, choose a big fucking 4k television, choose your future. choose life.

With the announcement of a sequel to Danny Boyle’s cult classic Scottish black comedy film “trainspotting”, last week with a rather excellent looking trailer I had to wonder if this was a sign of the times. The nineties/twenties zeitgheist is back Carl, life doesn’t matter again, Hurrah!

But what will this age of misery be dominated by? The Nineties had Nirvana and Fight club, the Twenties had Eliot so what will we have? Perhaps we will have Donald Trump  who got elected off the back of a popular revolution against globalism? Yes I think that sounds about right, is that not the root of all our grass roots problems now, companies outsourcing jobs and taking advantage of cheap workers abroad meaning the fat cats keeping the cash and everyone else getting screwed? America chose not to choose their future, they chose something else, they chose Trump.

But the way I see it Ireland cant choose. Trainspotting made Glasgow feel like Berlin in 1946, Most of Ireland is almost as desolate as that now. I remember the boom, I remember the dark days of the great resession, Now is the aftermath of all that, the wasteland, the teachers who seem to beleive that someone someone somewhere cares and detached from our reality they demand pay rises, my ears hiss steam. Yes private sector folks are back to work but that means nothing, a two hour drive to work and an ever more demanding list of requirements and endless red tape to get and keep said work for ever decreasing returns would justify the “why bother”, attitude.

I regret coming to college, I may even drop out soon. Now that’s another blog entirely  but at least one of the reasons  I feel this way is everyone’s reaction to the words”new media and english”, oh what do you do with that? why aren’t you doing a STEM degree, something more real so you can get that soul crushing pharmaseutical/IT/teaching job? I don’t know Steve, thanks for making me feel bad about it, I almost pretend i don’t go to college at home and with acquaintances because of this shame that I have. This is the attitude now for better or worse, choose to fight against all the other graduates for what your mammy says is a “good job”, choose your future.

But I want to choose life,  the real opportunities for young workers are outside of college and in the trades, yes those jobs which the media has chastised for years making it seem that you are worthless if you don’t go to college, that attitude permeates Irish society, reeks of it. Its so smelly we came here to get away from the stench. But it stinks here too, so now what do we do……


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