We're getting married in five hours; Justice is blaring out of the speakers

  • Me: Hey, check out my man-tits jiggling!
  • Andrea: You don't have any man-tits...
  • Me: I do! Look at those bad boys!
  • (I lift up shirt. Nothing.)
  • Me: Oh Jesus. I think it's my lungs. There's definitely something moving around in there when I bounce.
  • Andrea: You're old.
  • Me: This is why old people dance like that! They might die otherwise.

Finally shit works out for me for me for a change! 

Special thanks to pinkphilosopher and wereontheoutsidelookin for valuable advice and support.

Related: I suck at the 2048 game

Myself and Andrea practising being serious for the wedding.

Myself and Andrea practising being serious for the wedding.

Here’s my technique: I’ve been going “right” and “down” alternately for most of the game until it hits a bump, then I go “up” and back “down” again, and hope a rogue 2 doesn’t find its way under the big number. This way, I get to rack up big numbers and keep them all roughly in the same area.

I haven’t won a single game yet, which implies there’s something wrong with my strategy, but I do create these lovely symmetrical patterns of number and colour fanning out from the bottom right.

Kate Mulgrew “Not Really A Starship Captain”

Kate Mulgrew, who lends her vocal talents to recent geocentric documentary The Principle has revealed that she is not, nor ever has been an actual captain in Starfleet, the fictional interplanetary organisation in the fictional TV show Star Trek: Voyager.

"I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but I am not really a starship captain," she said to tearful fans who were praying and singing outside her Laurel Canyon balcony this morning. "I was simply an actor for hire, using what talents I have to fool people into thinking the adventures were real. The words were scripted. The sets were on a sound-stage. Everything was rehearsed."

Ironically reading from a prepared statement, she concluded, “I apologize for any confusion that my presence in this show may have caused. Kate Mulgrew.”

No one knows why she said her name at the end, but Hollywood sources claim she’s attached to a Boston Legal movie project.

This is first part of a lecture series for the Americans on how to pronounce my name properly.

Americans have a hard time distinguishing between the vowel sounds in my example words: marry, merry and Mary. It’s hard to explain in type because most of the words I’d use as rhyming examples would also be mispronounced by Americans. The most obviously different pronunciation is between marry and the other two, so I won’t bother talking about marry.

The vowel in Mary has a longer, more open sound. The vowel in merry has a short, more closed sound. Again, you may wear polka dots this summer, or you could just be meh about the whole thing.

DISCLAIMER: As long as you’re using your native language, there’s no way to “incorrectly” pronounce words. There are regional dialects and accents and so on, but none of it is “wrong”. It’s one of the few things that all top-level linguistics people agree on. I’m being patronising and dismissive solely for the purposes of humour.

My name is Barry, not Berry or Beary or anything like that. 

Emails From The Past III

to: Edward Finegan <finegan@usc.edu>
date: Sat, Mar 22, 2008 at 11:25 AM
subject: language and it’s uses

Hello.

I’m not studying languages, but came across your textbook on one of my ill-conceived field trips into the pit of depravity that is the human condition. I’ll admit that I was lost over some of the more technical aspects, but I found the chapters dealing with the social implications of language use fascinating. With a name like Finegan, it’s possible you know all of this already, but I’m going to pretend that you don’t.

I moved to Riverside County in California last August from Ireland, and I think you may be interested in some aspects of language use in my country. For a start, we all speak English. In the last census, around 10% of the population regarded themselves as conversant in Irish, our ancestral language, but the real percentage (because sometimes people tell surveyers what they feel should be the truth rather than what is the truth) is much lower. Given that we spend hours a day for fourteen years learning this language, that might seem odd.

I think that the primary function of language should be to communicate ideas in the traditional fashion, by taking my thoughts, turning them into words, moving into your ears and getting turned into your thoughts. However, the Irish language seems to be used in every way *except* to communicate ideas, outlined in numbered form:

1. As an indicator of status: There are special schools in Ireland which conduct their affairs entirely through Irish called Gaelscoileanna (plural of Gaelscoil), and which seem to attract lots of upper-middle income children. This oddness can be witnessed every morning simply by counting the number of BMWs parked outside. For these people, the language is a symbol of wealth and modernity. This association is almost exclusively a feature of urban areas (in other words, Gaelscoileanna located in small villages generally don’t have that problem).

2. (a) As in indicator of not-status: Although a paradox, usage of the
language is also associated with being backwards and ‘stuck in the past’, of a time of poverity and generally being shat on by the British government for many years.

2. (b) Also, there are some very unpleasant associations with being taught Irish in school. As the Irish language is ideally suited for describing 19th-century Irish life (and terribly suited to describing anything after that), most of the literature used to demonstrate the language comes from that period. A time of famine, death, plague, constant torrential rain and probably earthquakes and volcanoes too. A wonderful Irish writer called Flann O’Brien wrote a book in Irish called “An Beal Bocht” (The Poor Mouth), mocking what he saw as an entire genre of misery. A litany of agonising defeat at the hands of fate called “Peig” (compulsory for all students learning Irish at high-school level) is singled out for special attention. You can get “An Beal Bocht” in translation. You’ll miss some of the jokes but it’s still very funny, if you’re interested. An Beal Bocht was published in 1941 (according to my copy) which should give you an idea of the scale of the problem.

3. As an indicator of political associations: It’s at the stage where if you hear someone on trial up the country somewhere, and he has insisted that his entire case be conducted through Irish (as is his legal right), you can be sure that he is on trial for membership of a seditious organisation, most likely that band of lovable rogues, the IRA.

4. As a badge of nationalist heritage: (often entirely disassociated from the political associations mentioned above). Ex-pats sometimes like to demonstrate how “Irish” they are - something which becomes even more pronounced where Irish people gather in other countries: Boston, London, Belfast, and bizarrely, Buenos Aires. It would not be entirely atypical for an average Irish person to start streaming Irish with pride to his Irish friend while on holidays in Paris, but never use it at all in Ireland.

That’s all.

Thank you for your time,

Barry Purcell

PS That apostrophe in the possessive ‘its’ in the subject line was just a
little joke.

Some angry looking clouds on the M9 today around Kilkenny. It looks like we&#8217;re driving into hell! We bought a car today. It&#8217;s a 2005 Nissan Primera with at least one bell and/or whistle. You can see it in front of me in this photo. If you zoom in close enough, you might be able to see the back of Andrea's head.

Some angry looking clouds on the M9 today around Kilkenny. It looks like we’re driving into hell!

We bought a car today. It’s a 2005 Nissan Primera with at least one bell and/or whistle. You can see it in front of me in this photo. If you zoom in close enough, you might be able to see the back of Andrea's head.

Calling literature &#8220;a form of entertainment at its most basic level&#8221; implies that you&#8217;re looking at it the whole wrong way. Literature is supposed to challenge you. It’s supposed to make you a  better person, or at least want to be a better person. It’s supposed to  improve your understanding of the world around you and maybe even your  understanding of other people. It forces you to think about something  apart from yourself. Any of the great works of literature will do all  these things.For instance, let&#8217;s take Hamlet, the Shakespeare play. 

What is Hamlet about?

Well, &#8220;at its most basic level&#8221; it&#8217;s about this Danish prince who strongly suspects that his uncle murdered his (Hamlet&#8217;s) father for political reasons, and embarks on a hunt for evidence motivated by a rather violent revenge impulse. In the end, everyone dies. But Hamlet is not an episode of Columbo. It&#8217;s not a murder mystery or a ghost story. It&#8217;s in the canon of Western literature, and perhaps by some regarded as the greatest example of it. So let&#8217;s start again. 

What is Hamlet about? II

It&#8217;s about death and life and family and honour and what it means to have friends and love and sex and the act of creation. It&#8217;s about story-telling and the process of putting artistic responses into your mind. It&#8217;s about money and politics and war, and how all these things intersect. It&#8217;s about the role of women in society and class structure. It&#8217;s about god and fate and religion and philosophy. It&#8217;s about sanity and insanity. You could write that sort of thing for ages, and it would all be much more interesting than the first part. All those things are how we interpret the world. We don&#8217;t see much of anything, or do much of anything, except that it relates to how we understand love, death, family, money etc. But these analyses are never related to you (and if they were it would be slightly creepy). They&#8217;re described as &#8220;themes&#8221;, and evidence is compiled from the text to defend that analysis. So let&#8217;s try this again. 

What is Hamlet about? III

It&#8217;s about you.

Calling literature “a form of entertainment at its most basic level” implies that you’re looking at it the whole wrong way.

Literature is supposed to challenge you. It’s supposed to make you a  better person, or at least want to be a better person. It’s supposed to  improve your understanding of the world around you and maybe even your  understanding of other people. It forces you to think about something  apart from yourself. Any of the great works of literature will do all  these things.

For instance, let’s take Hamlet, the Shakespeare play.

What is Hamlet about?


Well, “at its most basic level” it’s about this Danish prince who strongly suspects that his uncle murdered his (Hamlet’s) father for political reasons, and embarks on a hunt for evidence motivated by a rather violent revenge impulse. In the end, everyone dies.

But Hamlet is not an episode of Columbo. It’s not a murder mystery or a ghost story. It’s in the canon of Western literature, and perhaps by some regarded as the greatest example of it. So let’s start again.

What is Hamlet about? II


It’s about death and life and family and honour and what it means to have friends and love and sex and the act of creation. It’s about story-telling and the process of putting artistic responses into your mind. It’s about money and politics and war, and how all these things intersect. It’s about the role of women in society and class structure. It’s about god and fate and religion and philosophy. It’s about sanity and insanity.

You could write that sort of thing for ages, and it would all be much more interesting than the first part. All those things are how we interpret the world. We don’t see much of anything, or do much of anything, except that it relates to how we understand love, death, family, money etc.

But these analyses are never related to you (and if they were it would be slightly creepy). They’re described as “themes”, and evidence is compiled from the text to defend that analysis.

So let’s try this again.

What is Hamlet about? III


It’s about you.