icepixie: (Assumpta sparkly)
Bah. Netflix is taking forever these days. I'm on the one-at-a-time plan, and I sent back my last DVD on Tuesday. They're just now shipping out the next one, for arrival on...Tuesday. More than a week after the last one. Pah. (I guess, technically, this is actually the USPS's fault. The last time I had Netflix, they would've had the next disc to me by Saturday. Perhaps the volume has gone up faster than can be handled.)

But anyway, more Ballykissangel tomorrow! To celebrate, I'm using one of my two new Assumpta icons. Isn't she purty?

I did manage to get the "Ballykissdibley" Comic Relief special from my library yesterday. Heh. I'd never seen Vicar of Dibley before, but I'd heard of it. I watched some of the actual episodes on the DVD as well; it's definitely amusing, but unfortunately I can also predict the next joke about fifty percent of the time, so I don't think I'll watch any more. But I would like to see some of the French & Saunders sketch show, 'cause Dawn French is hilarious.

As well as getting that DVD, I wandered into the poetry and the Irish history sections. Yeah. As usual. The Nashville Public Library apparently has greatly increased its stock of LitCrit volumes since I was last there, not to mention of modern poets. I got a bunch of Seamus Heaney1, and a couple travel essay collections or memoirs, and a book on the Troubles in Belfast from the seventies to the nineties, because I still don't know as much as I ought about that place and time period. I usually stuck to the Celtic Twilight and the Easter Rising when researching and writing about Irish independence movements.

Have also been reading, er, Ballyk fanfic, very little of which is any good. But they've got the names of the characters spelled out, which is interesting. I will never understand how one can get something like "Porrig" out of "Padraig." Where does the "d" go? And let's not even go into "Shivan" from "Siobhan," although at least I knew that one already. Irish spelling is on crack. Or "craic," as they'd spell it. *facepalm*

I keep thinking, "Hey, it would be neat to learn Irish!" And then I look at the orthography and run screaming. Even if that weren't a problem, I could never learn this language because I will never in a million years be able to wrap my brain around cases. A semester of Old English taught me that much. Any number of irregular verbs in Spanish didn't phase me in high school, and gendered nouns were even okay, although I didn't ever really get why they were gendered, but the idea of declined nouns just makes my head spin.

Speaking of reading and writing, does anyone else find that letting an LJ entry sit for a while just takes away any desire to finish it and post it? I have a half-finished entry on rereading Tam Lin (which segues into rereading Alma Mater and to W.B. Yeats and then on to some stuff about being an English major...yeah, it's rambly), but it seems that if I don't write an entry and post it in one sitting, I can't bring myself to bother finishing the thing. Hmmm. And I still haven't done the plot vs. language poll I meant to do last week. Oof, I'm lazy.


1 I think after a year in the UK and a trip to Ireland, I can actually appreciate him and his fixation with land much more than when we read him in Irish Lit. Interestingly, the exact opposite has happened with Yeats; not that I appreciate him any less (check out the 4,000-word paper I did on him and William Morris that year, for one), but I've moved on from his early fairies-and-landscape-related stuff and am now more interested in his later works, which don't have much to do with land. Anyway, his poetry that does deal with the landscape of Ireland isn't as...hmmm...true? evocative? as Heaney's is. Of course, the seventy-odd years separating them doesn't help much. Not to mention the fact that Yeats' poetry is generally considered to have gotten steadily better throughout his lifetime. ...I'm destroying my argument here, so I'm going to stop.
icepixie: (Ireland)
Especially for [livejournal.com profile] alto2, non-spoilery commentary on The Hanging Gale. ;)

I didn't realize until I got the disc from Netflix that it's a four-part series, not two parts, so I only saw the first two hour-long episodes. I think I'll eventually get around to watching the other two episodes, but it might take a while.

I'm definitely getting the impression that it's all going to end on a note very similar to The Field, which I watched for my Irish Lit. class in sophomore year. Perhaps there won't exactly be an old guy herding his cows off a cliff and to their deaths in the crashing sea below, then going out into the ocean himself and trying to fight off the tide with his cane while the dead cows float around him, but something not far off from that, I think, is not unlikely. So far, it is, to quote Ellen, "Depressing like a fat operatic Viking woman, with one of those horned hats, standing on your foot. Depressing like that." Given that they're in the middle of the potato famine, this...seems unlikely to change. (Although there was a darkly hilarious moment when the land agent tells some farmers that he'll defer their rents until after that year's harvest, which he "prays will be bountiful." And then you realize, when you remember that it's 1846, exactly how ironic this is, and if you're me, you giggle a bit. Possibly I'm evil.)

In general, it seems a bit like Eavan Boland's poem That the Science of Cartography Is Limited has been made into a miniseries. Or at any rate, the subplot about a proposed famine road, as well as the line (paraphrased), "Why do you want to build a road that starts nowhere and ends in a bog?" could have been pulled from that poem. And--

Okay, actually, let me explain something first. Since middle school, I've been intensely interested in Irish history and Irish literature. I wrote at least eight or nine papers on either subject (mostly on W.B. Yeats or the Fenian movement) during college, and took one class in 20th Century Irish Lit, as well as another Lit. class with a lot of Irish stuff in it and two history classes with large components on Irish history from about 1200 on. And I've done quite a bit of reading on my own. Consequently, these days I feel a bit, well, jaded about anything dealing with something like the famine, and I like it to have some edge I haven't seen before. This doesn't, so much. It's grittier (and the location shooting is certainly muddier) than you usually see, and there's more violence, but beyond that, there's not much new. Also, it's hampered by many of the actors playing "outrage" as scenery-chewing hyenas, when most times quiet, deadly fuming would be a lot more effective. Some of the dialogue is mind-bendingly bad, as well--of course, after seeing Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I find it difficult to laugh at anyone who says, "We're being oppressed" with a straight face, so perhaps some of it is just me. ;)

The biggest difficulty I had with it, though, is that I CANNOT TELL THE McGANN BROTHERS APART. Honestly. They all look so much alike. Joe and Mark, who play the two brothers still living at home, thankfully had different hairstyles and so after a bit, I figured out who was who. On the other hand, Paul and Stephen(? the one who played Daniel, the schoolteacher) could be twins. It doesn't help that they both dress in black cloaks, both have dark hair that's nearly chin-length and is a little bit curly, and both have blue eyes. It honestly took me until the second episode, where they were standing next to each other, to realize that they were two separate people. *facepalm* I thought that Paul was playing the schoolteacher, who (I think--it might be the priest, but probably it's the schoolteacher) murders the first land agent at the very beginning of the first episode, and continued to think it was Paul until the second episode, when a priest who looked remarkably like the schoolteacher showed up and began doing priestly things. I thought for a while that perhaps he was multitasking by teaching school as well, and then remembered that this same guy had also been canoodling (or whatever) with a girl in the first episode, and went, "Wait a minute." For a brief moment, I wondered if something very strange had happened and he was actually an Anglican priest and was thus allowed to do these things, and then finally they put the two characters in a room together and my brain exploded.

The only difference I can make out between them is that Stephen's voice is a little bit higher, and he looks a bit more like Alan Rickman-as-Snape. (I swear, it's the black robe.) Seriously, in later scenes, when it wasn't obviously Paul/Liam (i.e., when he was wearing the dog collar), I actually had to wait for someone to say the character's name or otherwise verbally tell the audience which brother it was before I knew. Here, here's photo evidence: Paul/Liam, Stephen/Daniel, both of them in profile. Can you tell them apart without thinking really hard about it?

Another strike against it was the exceptionally large, interrelated cast; it took me until the second episode to figure out which brother Maeve was married to, or indeed if she was actually married to any of them and not just a sister. I think her brother was the guy who gets shot early on (not the land agent, but another guy), and his sister is, I think the one who captures Daniel's eye. And there's approximately five million other characters spread all over the place, and eventually I just have to throw up my hands in defeat. Large casts, when not well-differentiated--or relegated to their individual subplots, with little or no crossover--have a tendency to frustrate me to no end.

I dunno...after all that, I can't say that it's bad. It's obviously been well-researched, and the bleakness of the locations and weather they chose to shoot in works well. There's some particularly fine acting from Paul McGann and Mark McGann, the latter especially when spoiler ). I think it possibly suffers from the effect of having a million things which cover a lot of the same material show up after it broke the ground for this kind of thing eleven years ago. (Thanks in large part to Riverdance. I kid you not; I wrote a paper on the incredible "New Irish Renaissance" spurred by that production, which premiered the same year this aired, I believe.) So, if you're a relative newbie to Irish studies and you like large casts (and can tell McGann brothers apart), it's definitely worth seeing.

Okay, wow, that was long. Shutting up now...
icepixie: (Finding Neverland)
*hack hack* I sound like a consumptive, for God's sake. Ecchh.

Anyway. Time wastage abounded this morning, so my Ireland photos are now online for all to see. As an added bonus, you get pictures of the last two pretty sunsets in Exeter.
icepixie: (Default)
So. Hi, everyone. Long time, no see.

We got back from our slightly-whirlwind tour of Ireland last night; some kind of write-up is coming soon, as are the good ones out of the 550 pictures I took (well, "soon" meaning "in a few weeks," but anyway). The short version involves cottages by the sea in Co. Sligo, Yeats' grave, several neoclassical homes, some big cliffs in the rain, brown soda bread at various pubs, getting hailed on at a crumbling monastery, hopelessly knotted streets in Dublin, many colorful pieces of vellum, a Norman castle, a megalithic tomb, a classical concert, and a wonder of the world.

And now that my neverending spring break is over, I only have five weeks of classes in which to write two papers and a "memoir." Meep. And then it's back to travelling again, because I still have stipend money left, shockingly enough. Come on, June!
icepixie: ("The Singing Butler" - Jack Vettriano)
Note to self--remember that anything literary and Irish = depressing.

Saw Dancing at Lughnasa today with Chandra at Exeter's theatre. Don't get me wrong, it was very, very good, but I was expecting it to be rather more uplifting than it was. Meep. But hey, it had both ballroom and Irish step dancing in it, so I was happy. ;)

And now I'm going to get actual work done. Yes.

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