Ireland III: The Luck of the Irish

For my first full day in Dublin, my priority was sorting out money for the four-month stay.  Based on a recommendation, I’d brought a cashier’s check that I’d use to open an account.  I’d supplement the rest with ATM withdrawals and purchases from a debit card.

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Ireland II: Rocky Road to Dublin

I stopped for a bit in the bus station before starting my search for a place to stay.  A man clad in nothing but denim, with a shaved head, and spiderweb tattoo on his face stared angrily at me.  I was 21, had never been away from New England on my own, knew nobody in Dublin, and was getting the evil eye from a stranger who knew I wasn’t from around these parts.  I decided to move on.

Continue reading Ireland II: Rocky Road to Dublin

Ireland I: In the Name of the Father

I was far from worldly as a child, or even into early adulthood for that matter.  I’d spent most of my early life within New England (a few day stints in Washington D.C., Florida, and New Jersey aside).  It had been a goal from a very young age to visit Ireland, the birthplace of my paternal ancestors.  I’d always felt a connection to it – not only because of my Irish last name, but it felt mysterious to me.  I grew up surrounded by my mother’s Italian family, hearing stories from my grandmother about her parents and other relatives from “the old country.”  I was not as fortunate with the Irish side – my father had passed when I was 12 and neither of his parents made it past the mid 1940s or ’50s.

I found an opportunity to explore Ireland in the form of a poster hanging on the wall of my college’s student center.  Happy looking students explored the countryside underneath the words “Burren College of Art.”  I applied, was accepted, and a few short months later, departed from Boston for a four-month study abroad program in County Clare on the West coast.

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We Don’t Need Another Hero

Last night my wife and I saw Mad Max: Fury Road.  Holy crap.

To have a film look so gorgeous, be so crazy, and retain the right elements and tone of films shot between 1979 and 1985 is a major achievement.  Though they’re apples and oranges, I see Fury Road upping the ante for the new films in the Star Wars franchise.

Director George Miller has long been an enigma to me.  He studied and completed his residency to become a medical doctor, working on film sets in his spare time.  Not only did he eventually write and direct the first three Mad Max films, he also wrote both Babe films and directed the second (yes, the talking pig movies), and wrote and directed Happy Feet (yes, the penguin movies).  Lorenzo’s Oil, The Witches of Eastwick, and a segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie are in there, too.

If you like the Mad Max series, make sure to see the documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!  It chronicles the early years of Australian cinema in a visually interesting way.  The films profiled are so insane and graphic that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing a trailer here.  As crazy as Fury Road felt, it’s nothing compared to some of the films from the region in the ’70s.

Nice work Mr. Miller.  I’m glad a few more films planned in the series, too.  Can’t wait for Mad Max: TheWasteland.

Song referenced: We Don’t Need Another Hero (from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome)

My dinner with Albuquerque

twistersI’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I blogged about restaurants in New Mexico, despite not having been there when I started.  Phew, that feels like a weight off my shoulders.

I was asked by my employer several years ago to write about the food New Mexico food scene either based on neighborhood, type of cuisine, or other linking factors.  Luckily I’d already had some knowledge of Southwestern Cuisine, though New Mexico has some of it’s own distinct variations.  Red and green chile is almost an obsession in the region and can be found in many restaurants.  It’s essentially a stew that can be used as a sauce on everything from eggs to pizza.  I’d had a version before on a trip to Colorado, though New Mexicans will tell you it’s not the same.

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The Jetty

Have I ever mentioned that I love the 1962 French short film La Jetée by Chris Marker? It’s the main inspiration for 12 Monkeys, but was originally done with still frames.

Here’s a trailer from a recent showing:

Luckily, a dubbed version of the entire film can be viewed on Hulu if you have an account (or a little less legally on YouTube or Vimeo).

Movie referenced: La Jetée