Archives For Dubliners

Nutmeg and Spice

October 4, 2013 — 2 Comments

I decided to stay home today, to get some rest and try and get over this thing. Chest was pretty congested when I woke up, and I thought about going to the doctor, but so far I haven’t made it past my reading chair.

Of course I have a reading chair. Which is different than the one where I watch films and the televised programs of broadcast and cable. It’s one of thoseĀ POƄNGĀ chairs from IKEA. Cheap, but comfortable, and perfect for reading books. A chair that almost helps you not nod off to sleep.

Since I’ve been ill so much of the past two months, I’ve spent a lot of time in that chair working through a stack of books I’ve been meaning to read. So much of the past year was spent reading plays and theatre theory and the stack of “other” books to read has gotten rather high. So this is what I’ve been reading lately:

I started James Joyce’s Dubliners unofficially as part of my theatre reading last fall. The Corn Exchange in Dublin was premiering a new production based on the famed short stories and it was a highlight of the 2012 Dublin theatre fest. I never found the time to get them read, unfortunately, and I wish I had, as it would have deepened my appreciation for the Corn Exchange’s play. Anyway, I finished them a couple of weeks ago, and enjoyed them quite a bit. I don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle Ulysses, though. Someday.

Another volume I’ve been slowly working through is a collection of Tolkien’s short stories, mostly centered around the theme of wandering into the realm of Faerie. Tales from the Perilous Realm includes all those stories with lovely titles I never got around to reading when I first fell in love with his works: Smith of Wooton Major, Farmer Giles of Ham, and Leaf by Niggle.Ā There’s also the haunting poem “The Sea-Bell”, and his essay “On Fairy Stories”, which I’m about halfway through. Once I complete this book, there won’t be much left of him for me to read.


2013-10-04 13.24.33

After meeting Bill Kelso I read his book on the Jamestown archeological dig, and I wish I could do more with it in class, but 4th grade handles early American history now. I tried dipping into it
in class, but no one was biting.

I’ve tried to work through Ken Robinson’s The Element, thinking that it might have something interesting to say about education and the arts, but it’s mostly self-help nonsense. Best to stick to his TED talks I guess.

A bit of comfort reading has been necessary as well (if Tolkien doesn’t already count), and so I picked up some X-Men comics for old times’ sake. It’s one of those multi-issue crossover things that I usually don’t care for, but so far this one has been decent.

Books that stare out at me waiting to be read include Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes, and Savage Continent, a new book about the aftermath of World War II in Europe. Not really anything that relates to fifth grade, but I haven’t had much interest in reading kid lit these days. I think about all the books and stories I haven’t read, and wonder how I’ll ever find the time to fit them all in, so my reading time has been devoted to books just for me. I can’t keep up with the latest “hot” books for elementary students, nor have I much interest in books on whatever trendy educational models people are reading. No Daily Five for me. Though, Summerhill School, by A.S. Neill recently wound up in my Amazon cart. Certainly not a trendy or recent book, but one that keeps niggling away at the corners of my brain.

Advertisements

French Rituals

December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Just some random thoughts from the past few days. I’ve written plenty more than this, but I thought I would keep it brief and to the point. And also, photos!

Say what you want about the French, but they love the ritual of sitting down for dinner. When you enter a restaurant, or cafe, or brassiere, you are always greeted with a “Bonjour!” You sit, order food, and when it comes, you get both “Voila!” and “Bon Appetit.” Every time. And it’s great, mostly because it’s the only French I really know.

Because I’m in the solo part of this trip right now (in between visiting friends in Prague and meeting up with the Dublin UCD crew in London tomorrow), I sit and write my thoughts down while I wait for my food, or I knock out a story or two in James Joyce’s Dubliners. It also helps to slow down the dinner process; I normally eat quick and efficient-like, as a bachelor often does. But a European dinner can last a couple of hours, so it’s important to sit and relax and enjoy the food and atmosphere.

And as I realize time and again, a book or a notepad is fine, but company is always better at dinner.

We’ll see if all those observations I wrote down make it onto here. I’m heading into the closing stretch of this trip, and London is going to be pretty jam-packed with theatre and (probably) late nights with that young crew from UCD.) But I have more stories to tell, and one last city to visit after London, so as always, stay tuned, dear readers…

IMG_0777

Can I tell you how fantastic train travel is over here? I could do it all day and never get tired. This is the train I took to Paris.

IMG_0774

Oh HI there! Years from now, I’ll want to look back on this trip, and so it’s important to remember what I looked like. Old and bald, yesirree…

IMG_0771

Snowing in the Strasbourg Christmas market.

IMG_0809

The Venus de Milo, in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

IMG_0825

Looking out the window at the Musee D’Orsay, Paris. It used to be a train station. Shout-out to all the Hugo fans out there.

IMG_0831

Haroosh and I at the Eiffel Tower, Paris. He’s afraid of heights, so we didn’t go up to the top.

Also, I need a shave.

IMG_0832

Another picture of the Eiffel Tower. Had to get the light just right.

IMG_0779

Walkway across the river Seine, in Paris. Those are locks on the left and right. It’s become a popular thing for people in love to write their names on a lock then attach it to a bridge. Saw the same thing on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Man, that’s just a fraction of what I’ve seen and done in the past few days. Hopefully I’ll get more up soon!

Saturday

September 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

A bus.

Let’s head into town today, yeah? We’ve spent the last two days cooped up in the apartment and we need to get some air and be amongst people.

I live inside that.

I live about five miles out of Dublin city centre, and if I want to get anywhere, I usually take the bus. Luckily I live near a major highway, so buses run about every ten minutes and I can get into town within a half hour.

Typical suburban street.

When the weather’s nice the walk can be quite pleasant. I live in a fairly “posh” suburb, from what they tell me, so it’s safe and tree-lined and quiet.

If I want to take a shortcut to the bus stop I DO have to walk through this, though:

Creepy viaduct.

It’s not as bad as it looks. You’re through it in like, ten seconds.

Anyway, on Saturday I went into town to see another play (surprise!) There is a famous Dublin writer named James Joyce*, and recently his novels came out of copyright, so that means anyone can adapt them for plays or films and no one has to pay any royalties. Dublin is about to be hit by a huge wave of Joyce-based works, and the Corn Exchange’s adaptation of Dubliners is one of the first.

I met up with some friends at the Gaity Theatre, but I had to sit by myself because we had all bought our tickets separately. I was up “in the Gods”, as they say, which is a nice way of saying I was up in the cheap seats. (I’m going to a LOT of shows and have to budget accordingly.)

Top of the Gaity, Ma!

The show was very good, although being so far up meant that I wasn’t as engaged with the stories as I would have liked. (Dubliners is a series of short stories.) It didn’t help that I hadn’t read the book beforehand; I bought a copy last month, but I just couldn’t find the time to get to it, what with all the homework and all. So instead I tried to focus on the staging, the technical side of things, and Corn Exchange’s use of Commedia dell’Arte.

Afterwards we all gathered in Neary’s to dissect the show and have a bit of fun. (Oh, and we also saw this guy outside the theatre. McNulty!) After a few rounds we grabbed some pizza to fill our very-empty bellies. The rest of the party said their good-nights, but my friend Donal and I stayed out for more discussion and general catching-up. Donal and his wife are new parents, and so a night out for some fun is a rare occurrence in their lives. I, of course, was happy to stay out as long as possible, although I did go past the pumpkin hour.

What’s that, you ask? Well, those buses that get me here and there stop running around 11:00 or so, and you’re stuck with taxis after that. (There is some sort of Night Bus that runs, but I don’t know the routes or where to pick it up. And it’s not as cool as this, anyways.) By the time Donal and I wrapped up our night, the streets were filled with them; apparently there is a glut of taxis in Dublin at the moment.

A taxi home costs around 20 Euro, but since I’m spending so little money on transportation, the occasional cab isn’t going to kill me. (Except when I consider that I can buy a train ticket to the other side of Ireland for the same price. Student rates rule!)

And that was Saturday. A great day overall, and one of those I’m Really Loving Living Here kind of days. Gotta enjoy those while they last…

 

*I thought I should remind my readers that I’m writing this primarily for my students to read, lest people think I’m talking down to my audience. Most fifth graders haven’t heard of James Joyce, but if they watched closely during Hugo, they would have spotted him hanging around the train station.

Thursday/Friday

September 28, 2012 — 3 Comments

I thought I’d cheat a bit, since the last two days have been spent doing work around the house, working on class assignments, and pondering concepts for an imaginary production of The Merchant of Venice.

But let’s talk breakfast first!

On the weekends, I allow myself to indulge in the spectacular breakfast food that can be found here and in the U.K. (Okay, so Thursday/Friday isn’t really the weekend, but this week I got a head start on the pork-centered goodness.)

When you travel to places like Britain and Ireland, it is pretty much impossible to avoid ordering what is referred to as “The Full Irish.” (Or a Full English Breakfast, or whatever it might be called in Wales or Scotland.) A typical full breakfast will include the following:

  • One egg.
  • Two sausages.
  • Two rashers, a.ka. bacon, a.ka. The Most Delicious Bacon I’ve Ever Eaten.
  • White pudding.
  • Black pudding. (An acquired taste.)
  • Fried tomato.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Baked Beans (only in Britain.)
  • Potato wedge (not all the time; it seems to pop up rather randomly.)
  • Toast.

While horrible for your heart and arteries, it’s great if you’re traveling on a budget, since a hearty breakfast like this will get you through most of the day, and it’s often included with a hotel stay (and of course a Bed & Breakfast.)

I limit my hearty breakfasts to eggs, toast, and either sausages or rashers, never both. Today it was sausages, because I stopped by the Superquinn grocery store on Wednesday and theirs are the best. (Superquinn is a bit pricy, like shopping at Dominick’s back home, and so I tend to get my food at either Tescos or Lidl.) And it was delicious. But since I’ve spent the last two days mostly puttering around the house working on assignments, I haven’t gotten much exercise. This is not good for the waistline.

Okay, enough about breakfast food. What else have I done with my time these past two days?

First I re-read a play called The Weir, for Monday’s writing class. I first picked this play up ten years ago and fell in love with it, and I’m glad to see that time has not diminished my feelings for it. Five people sitting around a pub in rural Ireland, telling ghost stories. Always wanted to direct it, but it being Irish, it has a lot of swearing and drinking in it, and I didn’t think Limelight would have been the right venue for it. Maybe someday…

I’ve also spent some time gathering information for that pretend-Merchant of Venice. Costumes and soundtrack ideas. Been listening to a lot of post-classical stuff, very minimalist. Just piano, some occasional strings. Watched a documentary called Jiro Dreams of SushiĀ (which is excellent) and that pushed me in the right direction, sound-wise. My MerchantĀ is a very lonely version, and it emphasizes the more tragical elements of the play. So lots of Philip Glass and Max Richter.

Mug Shot! (One of the student-gifted mugs that came with me.)

Where the magic happens.

Other than that, it’s been laundry and haircut and going over my budget. (We won’t get into that now. But man…this is an expensive project I’ve got going on.) It’s almost 8 pm on Friday, the oven’s warming up, and I’m about ready to put away the schoolwork for a day or so. Heading into town to see Dubliners with some friends, and from what I hear, it’s supposed to be great.

A drying rack helps with the laundry. And the budget.