Monday, November 29, 2004

My first car...!

The trials of buying a car! I had a price limit (obviously) that is quite low by most people’s standards – a measly €3000. However, I thought I was being bloody generous to some of the bangers advertised in the indispensable Buy & Sell (where else could you buy someone else’s black and white portable TV for €10 o.n.o.?!). How wrong was I, dear friends! Turns out most ‘decent’ cars were gone before I’d lifted the phone…so, when I saw a Fiat Punto (I know, I know!!) with 37k miles on it (and in showroom condition) advertised, I jumped at it’s €2600 price! When the man who answered the phone appeared to be about 17 billion years old, I rejoiced – I asked him was he the first owner, and he informed me that he wasn’t…that he had bought the car from ‘Brigid above there in Ballymun’. I smiled at his quaintness, and offered to come view the car on Saturday. My Garda friend came along for the ride, and we dropped into a Ford garage in Phibsboro to ask would they take a look at it if we brought it up. Great lads as they were, they agreed wholeheartedly!

We pulled into a pleasantly old estate on Botanic Road, and were greeted by the sight of Old-Man-River himself stumbling down the road on his age-worn legs…blatant opportunists that we were, we rubbed our hands in glee at the thoughts of this man driving down to the shops once a week in the car – barely using it, in fact! He showed us to the car-port and started the engine of the car – alarm bells rang in our not-exactly-mechanics-but-still-not-completely-stupid heads! It sounded as if it hadn’t been used in six months or more…so we asked him how often he drove it, and he informed us that he didn’t actually own the car – it belonged to his sister who had recently gone into a nursing home. We took the car off his hands for a wee test drive up to the garage, and on the way my Garda friend rang the registration number through to the station…we pulled into the garage, and the lads there almost laughed at the car. What we, inexperienced buffoons, had not noticed was the extremely dodgy spray job on the rear…before another word was spoken, Garda-friend’s phone rang and we were informed that the car had been rear-ended in 2001, and had also had all the windows smashed in with a sledgehammer (separate incidents? I don’t know!). Good enough, then! The mechanic-boys let us know of another garage down the road owned by an ex-Garda, where we might get a deal…so we returned to the oldest man in Ireland, and told him that we couldn’t buy the car as it wasn’t in great ‘nick’ at all. He then proceeded to LIE to us – he said he had had it serviced every three or four months. Damning him for his treachery, I spat on the ground in front of him and stormed out of there! (OK – only figuratively speaking! What I actually did was thank him for his time, and say goodbye in that nice ‘we-have-guests’ tone my Momma had always taught me!)….

Abba Moters, on North Circular, looked alright – in a dodgy-U-Turn kind of way – so we strolled confidently into it’s darkened interior! Suddenly, a shaft of light broke through the overcast day, and lit up an angel-car sandwiched between a big saloon-type car and another big saloon-type automobile……the car that would be mine – a beautiful ’97 Ford Fiesta!!!

Ok, so I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t the car of my dreams – the car of my dreams is an old-style, convertible VW Beetle, painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Failing that, I originally wanted a VW Golf.

But it was a car that I liked the look of, a car that I could drive and, most importantly, a car that I could afford! It had two years NCT on it, and was taxed until September of next year…plus a service and valet-ing was included in the price. We brought it down to the first garage, and the lovely mechanics test drove it with us, checked under the bonnet, looked at all the outside work and pronounced it ‘a little goer’. One phone call to the station later proved that it was clean as a whistle, and twice as shiny! Refusing any money from me (lovely chaps!), the mechanics waved us off in my little car, and wished me much good luck! We returned to the garage, and the man told us that it would cost me €3000…we half-heartedly tried to bargain, but he’d already knocked €250 from the price, and wasn’t inclined to go any further. I agreed, we shook hands in a professional manner, signed a receipt in an even MORE professional manner, and I managed to hold in my un-professional squeals of delight until I had exited the garage.

The deal is made, and I collect it Wednesday. Hallelujah, hallelujah – ladies and gentlemen, my first car!!!!

(**Suppressed squeal of delight and simultaneous hand-clapping**)

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Passion vs Guy Richie

I’ve been sick for a week, and spent my time at first watching all the extras on my various DVD’s (which led me to discover, by the way, that ‘Shaun of the Dead’ is the ultimate DVD package!), and then wallowing in the mire that is daytime TV. Sad days they were – with Ricki Lake shows such as ‘You’re fat!’ and ‘My dream job – I want to be a stripper!’, and Oprah God-bless-‘em’s such as ‘Holding my wedding dress ransom’, ‘What cigarettes are REALLY doing to you’ and ‘I left my wife and kids so that I could be happy’. It was tough, I tell you! I can really see how, with all their free cable channels and constant stream of public access TV, Americans really are conditioning themselves to be the most moronic species this world has ever seen (and I’m including amoebas in this). The only homogenising things between each state are shows like Oprah and Ricki Lake, news stations like CNN and FOX (both hopelessly partisan) and presidential addresses – all other TV is manufactured within their own state, and therefore cannot hope to give a world view – or even continent view – of anything. It is a sad state of affairs, and after seeing how it affected my own brain to be subjected to it for a mere five days, I can really see no hope for America at all. Maybe the makers of ‘Supersize Me’ could make a documentary where one only watched daytime TV, and didn’t read a book or newspaper at all. Would make for interesting results, methinks!

On another note, myself and Alan (he has requested that I refrain from calling him ‘my lover’ – apparently it makes him feel like a piece of meat!) watched ‘Snatch’ last night followed by ‘The Passion’. My good Lord above, what a contrast! ‘Snatch’ was so heavily stylised that is was a chore not to snort derisively at each new cockney rhyming slang in place of words, and each shot to shot jump that made your head ache with its lack of spontaneity – Guy Richie is just the most unbelievable flake…using the ultimate in cash-cowing, uninspiring rehashing, he merely remakes the same styled movie as ‘Lock, Stock’ and ups the ante by exaggerating all that seemed fresh and new in the original. Shameful!

‘The Passion’, on the other hand, was a horse of a different colour! It was good, I suppose, but I really did NOT see what all the fuss was about. I also think Mel Gibson was heavy handed with the gore – not in a gratuitous way, because he obviously believed that this is what happened, but he made the whole movie about Jesus’ pain and blood, without ever questioning the man. Jim Caviezel does his best with meaningful looks and blood-soaked groans, but no insight is given into Christ. There are a few painfully silly dun dun DUUUNNN moments – like, for instance, the opening scene in The Garden, when Jesus speaks to the disciples in rushed and harried tones. They question each other ‘Why does he speak like this’, ‘What is wrong with him’, etc., to which Peter replies ‘He is afraid’. (as I said – dun dun DDUUUNNN!! – as though this is a remarkable insight and startling news for all who worship!)

There really is the very minimum of back-story as to how things led to this moment, and no actual concept of who Jesus was or what He had done was given. Flashback sequences are really just flabby and lazy storytelling, and it did nothing for the tale in the least – merely gave brief moments of sunshine to alleviate the gruesome spectacle on screen. And that, basically is what I thought of ‘The Passion’ – it was a spectacle of pain, a theatre of the macabre. Mel Gibson obviously felt passionately (excuse the pun) about the movie, but it gave me no insight into my own faith. It merely dwelt on the most distressing 48 hours of Jesus’ life – hours that I have already thought on long and hard being, as they are, the basis of the Catholic Church. I prefer, however, to continue to think on Jesus as I always have – a man who had some great ideas on how to live life, and one who’s own existence was cut short far too soon by the same naysayers that still exist today in their various forms. Indeed, those who dwell on this fantastical production of Jesus’ death are the same ones who greedily take in and condemn newscasts of people being hacked to pieces in Iraq, or children torn to shreds in Sudan, without lifting a finger to stop it. Seeing such things on screen creates a sense of detachment – Jesus’ life becomes ample fodder for a movie, and so much of the good work is undone. Commercialism takes on religion, and commercialism wins. For whatever reason Mel Gibson chose to undertake this quest for his own affirmation of faith – and I’m sure his intentions were good – the movie reeks of humbug and belittling, undermining what faith may be the basis.

However (and it’s a pretty big however) it did touch me, and did make me feel slightly closer to some truth of Jesus’ last hours of pain – pain that He undertook so that man could be saved. I won’t be buying this movie, or ever watching it again, but this is not to imply that it is too powerful to sit through – I just feel that it wasn’t substantial enough to warrant a second viewing. I don’t want to be excessively negative about the film, but I thought about it again this morning, and I still draw the same conclusions on it.

Two minutes are all that are given to the resurrection – surely the most amazing and faith-inspiring moments that came after His horrific crucifixion – and a shameful CGI shot of Jesus’ thigh seen through the holes in his hands. It is ironic that I draw almost the same conclusion from ‘The Passion’ as I did from ‘Snatch’. Shameful!

(Perhaps I speak too harshly. It was a powerful production which, not withstanding the crap Titanic-like music throughout, was moving and thought provoking…if only for a few minutes. Sad, really, that I feel this need to offset my negativity with an afterthought……….maybe it’s the guilty Catholic in me!)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Still shaking!

Holy crap…when I saw ‘Ringu’ for the first time, about three years ago, I was living in a house in Dundrum with two guys that I didn’t know well enough to wake with my screams. It was during the Channel Four season of ‘extreme’ movies, and it scared the CRAP out of me! I was alone in the sitting room, it was about three in the morning, and when she started climbing out of the television, I thought I would actually seize up and die…of course, it didn’t help that the TV I was watching was sitting in the same position on the floor as the telly in the movie – the very one that she was CRAWLING OUT OF!! God, I can still remember pulling away from the scene, trying to push myself into the chair, but unable to look away from her jerky form crawling closer and closer and…aaarrrggghhh – gives me the jitters just thinking about it!!

So, last night I went to see ‘The Grudge’ with my lover and two friends…and holy crap, it happened all over again! Since seeing ‘Ringu’ I have seen ‘The Eye’ (also Japanese), which did, of course, also scare the bejeeesus out of me. What is it about the human psyche that loves a good scare? Watching ‘The Grudge’ last night was certainly an experience – noisy young ‘uns soon shut up as they froze with fear to their seats, screams rang out among the audience (followed by the obligatory nervous laughter, and glance-exchange between strangers to assure themselves that everyone else is reacting the same way!), and my rock beside me shook and jumped with the best of them! Lacking originality (some scenes were practically lifted from ‘Ringu’), this movie nonetheless scared the pants off me and, were it not for a bedmate last night, I would most CERTAINLY have been sleeping with the light on!

I also saw ‘Finding Neverland’ which was, despite some sterling acting, merely alright. I cried like a baby, but that is no sign of a good movie, as I am extremely easily manipulated during films (I most certainly comply with the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ needed to lose yourself in someone else’s story). I’ll pop in a review of them both later today, or during the week – not that anyone waits with baited breath, but since this blog was originally set up to keep track of my movie-going life, it would be a shame to waste such a movie-filled weekend!

Watch this space…