The Hibernian Miscellany

Competence(n.):is the ability to perform some task. Incompetence is its opposite. Competency means a sufficiency of means for the useless necessities and conveniences in life.

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's Listmas Time!

"The votes have been counted, the smell of cigarette smoke and cheap aftershave hangs in the air. A junior editor drains the last dregs from the coffee machine. It's Listmas time again folks with your host...".

For those of you who are reading the last line in the voice of Ellen Barkin and if you can picture the interior of both Samsons Diner and The Abernathy Building, then your list may have many overlaps with mine, because top of the list for 2006 is XM radio's wonderful 'Theme Time radio Hour' weekly show hosted by none other than Bob Dylan.

For those of you, not yet familiar with the joys of 'Theme Time Radio Hour', fear not, BBC Radio 2 has syndicated the show to air over the festive season. you can catch the first six episodes from saturday 23rd December at 7pm.

The show has been THE highlight of the year. The obscure records from the thirties, forties and fifties mixed with contemporary classics from the likes of Uncle Tupelo and Ron Sexsmith thrown into a melting pot with the laconic humour of Old Uncle Bob is what radio was invented for. His between song patter and setup interviews with the likes Charlie Sheen and Jenny Lewis (A particular favourite of mine) is wonderfully funny and nostalgic at the same time. Theme Time Radio hour wins outright the Listmas award for entertainment highlight of 2006.

Musically speaking we had a lot of contenders for the big ten, in no particular order other than ascending, here comes the heavyweights.

10. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers
Brendan and Jack? Well it's already been written about to death by this stage. But basically, two pretty decent songwriters take the formula from seventies rock with a capital R and re-invent themselves as the garage band they probably always wanted to be. It's a great fun record but does tend to be quite samey in parts. However, the live show is a much more accurate portrayal of the band.

9.Sparklehorse - Dreamt for light years in the belly of a mountain
It's been five long years since Sparklehorse's "It's A Wonderful Life," which is probably the most "ordinary" album Mark Linkous has ever produced. But the mysterious Linkous returns to his peak with "Dreamt For Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain," his fourth album full of unpredictable indie-rock. The trademark guitar sound of Sparklehorse is a welcome antidote for the current Kasabian-Arctic Monkeys-Razorlight reinvention of britrock that seems to be clowning around our airwaves at the moment.

8. Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
The best work of Ms Lewis comes, surprisingly, sans Rilo Kiley. The Californian Indie-Americana Princess has jingle jangled old time melody lines that wouldn't be out of place on a T Bone Burnett compilation with the folk rock sound she helped create with the aforementioned Rilo Kiley. Her duet with Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst on 'Handle With Care' is, in a word, brilliant.

7. M. Ward - Post-War
Another underrated american. Since 2005, he's toured with the White Stripes, coproduced the debut from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, (mentioned at number 8) and found the time to knock out a cracking portrait of America. Post-War is rootsy -- reaching back into the best of the Blues, early jazz, country, folk -- and yet also modern in the sense of being "lo-fi" yet not so self-conscious as other practitioners of this "genre" . It's thoughtful, provactive and well worth the work that may be required if you're not all that familiar with the lo-fi production.

6. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Live at the Filmore East
Recorded at the Fillmore East in New York in 1970, this shows a rock combo at the heights of their creative peak. An essential document that features the original Crazy Horse line up with Danny Whitten. Hopefully this seascape of colliding guitars and Youngs definitive twang over such classics as ' Down by the River' will be the tip of the iceberg for archive releases. God knows his current output is bordering on criminal.

5. Johnny Cash - A Hundred Highways.
For purely sentimental reasons and for the last time you hear a voice like that! Rick and Johnny in a studio passing the last days of an American icon can produce sounds like these. I kid you not, death is all over this record, you can smell it creeping around the studio. The voice of doom!

4. Sufjan Stevens - Avalanche
The more I hear of this kid the more i like him. Avalanche is a collection of cast offs from 'Illinoise' and God they sound great. His spacial awareness, musically speaking, is what does it for me. he doesnt crowd his songs, he lets them breathe. Looking forward to his forthcoming Christmas album...that should be a doozy.

3. Jeff Tweedy - Sunken Treasure
A live DVD that allows you to download the album. Made all the more sweeter by the best gig Vicar Street has seen in 5 years. Jeff Tweedy gives singer songwriter lessons to Damien Rice, Paddy Casey, Declan O Rourke, Glen hansard and the rest of the buskers we like to call homegrown talent. Lads, take note..this is how it's done.

2. Bob Dylan - Modern Times
Just pipped out of top spot this year because of two very mediocre (by Dylan standards) tracks on an otherwise fascinating delve into the world and the world occupied by Bob Dylan. First of the minus points. 'The levee's gonna break' has THE most annoying guitar riff to grace a Dylan album, and I include 'wiggle wiggle'. Rollin' and Tumblin' just rolls and tumbles and goes nowhere, and keeps reminding me of 'Dirt Road Blues' which was the least played Dylan song at Number 8 until now. On the high points, and some of them are very high, we have 'Nettie Moore' which shakes you to your bones and haunts your every move. 'Workingmans Blues' which was nearly the next great Dylan song (we haven't added to that category since 'Not Dark Yet' in 1997). Throw in the best rock-blues number of the past year 'Someday baby', an itunes ad of the decade by the way, and the sweetness of slow ballads like 'When The Deal Goes Down' and close the whole thing off with the inevitable Ramble through Dylan's weirness @Aint talkin' and you can almost hear Greil Marcus let out a tiny excited whimper. As good as 'Love and Theft' but a smidgen short of his best.

1. Tom Waits - Orphans
A three, count them, three CD set from Tommy. It mixes new recordings with unreleased 'orphans' from older sessions. It has a magnifiscence about it that is nowhere to be seen in the new breed of artists today. After bouncing back from a somewhat disappointing ' Real Gone' by his standards, Tom returns to the landscape that only he can occupy. The wasteland of America, punctuated with characters like Scarface Ron and Blackjack Ruby that could have been culled from a Kerouac road trip or a.... Tom waits song! It's such a tribute to the man that he has become an adjective. Dylanesque and now Waitsean. I doubt there will ever be a (Neil) Young-ian or a Kasabianesque reference made in thirty years time.

Tom is a true original and along with Kathleen Brennan a master of music production. The rockabilly bluesy dirty driving sound is so suited to both his voice and his material. The stories are brilliant, the music fantastic and the listening experience over three discs unsurpassed this year.

So another year draws to a close, and s the gates shut on 2006, I just have a quick minute to run through the other highlights...

1. The Departed
2. The Squid and The Whale
3. Lucky Number Slevin
4. Friends With Money
5. Superman Returns

1. Tweedy at Vicar street
2. Bob in Cork
3. Raconteurs at the Olympia
4. Leonard Tribute (except for Gavin) at the Point
5. Flaming Lips and Bob in Kilkenny

1. Ronaldo's Penalty against England in the World Cup
2. Argentina's wonder goal (23 passes I think)
3. Barcelona beating Arsenal in the Champions League Final
4. Roy Keane taking Micks old Job
5. Stans face after Ireland lose to Cyprus

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Newly Discovered Resource

One of the most wonderful things about this interweberry-diggery-do community cum 'infinite jest' society, cum vanity fuelled ego-central-ised misplaced priority ridden right-on-line universe we inhabit is that every so often, and seldom is wonderful, we happen upon a resource like no other.

A resource so profound and so full of the joys of life and so complete in it's every facet that we simply don't know how we ever survived before it was part of our point-and-click bookmarked favourite list thingy.

It is with great fanfare, drumroll and tumbling midgets I present......

101 Great Goals

The Saturday and Sunday updates are essential for those outside the realms of TV Football land (ie Anywhere in The US). Video highlights of every GAME!

My service to society is now complete

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Remember, Remember The Start of November...

The clocks went back on Saturday. I got an extra hour in bed on Sunday and contracted an extremely sore throat that looks like spilling over into full blown bacterial infection of the trachea. In short, Winter has arrived. My warderobe has been altered accordingly. Heavy corduroy shirts and boots replaced the more laissez faire t shirts and sneakers. My facial hair growth becomes less frequently addressed and my haircut interval wider by a few weeks as I slip into a more hibernatory state.

My diet becomes more sloppy. Stews, soups, chilli's and ghoulash replace the more summery 'dry' food. Tea replaces beer for November just to add to the overall mood of depression. It's dark on the drive home and Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" serves as the soundtrack for the journey as he delves into older, darker, more mysterious times.

It rains every other day.

The Champions League approaches the end of the preliminary group stage as night time games start to feature gloved Mediterraneans traveling to away games in Sofia.

Tissues become a necessary item in the glove box.

I start to read more as more time gets spent indoors. I sleep less because my body knows not what time of night it is once the clock strikes 6pm and the Angelus fills me with more anger than usual.

It rains every other day.

To compensate us for perseverance, the month of December follows black November, when everyone goes on a holiday from their sanity for nearly a month. The reason for this is clearly because November has robbed us of any sanity or sense of purpose.

The heating timer is adjusted daily towards ever earlying hours.

It rains every other day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Manchester United are top of the league going into this weekends annual tete a tete with their scouse nemesis, Liverpool. This years Liverpool side under Rafael Benitez has, like a new dawn, promised so much, with exceptional talent recruited throughout the team.

Sissoko looks solid in the middle. Alonso is probably the best distributer of a ball in the preiership. Kuyt is a world class striker and in Jermaine Pennant and Mark Gonzalez they have for the first time a genuine wide threat. But in saying all this, they are doing really really badly, and as they approach their November Winterlude, things don't look like they are getting better.

Traditionally, Liverpool's season ends with a crash in November. Traditionally Man Utd start slowly and don't hit 5th gear till January. This year, however Liverpools November seems to have come very early. So too has United's January. Is global warming affecting the premiership patterns as well as the tides? Has Winterlude come in September? Does this mean the season will end in March rather than May? If this trend continues the 2010 world cup will be held in january 2009! I hope someone has alerted the South Africans....

Monday, October 09, 2006

Grand Theft Football

Cigarette ash all over my light grey t-shirt on Friday evening. The effect on a passer by would be to look at me as if i was inebriated and shuffling my way home from Dunshaughlin Village after some post work drinking binge centred around absynth and Guinness.

Well, the passer by would be wrong on all counts. The far away look in my eye and the rubbed in cigarette ash was because I was coming to terms with a shocking truth about myself. In my late thirties I had finally become a non believer. A veritable shell of a man. A soulless wastrel, dragging my thirty pieces of silver home to my doomed conscience. I had backed CYPRUS to beat Ireland to the tune of 7-1!

I did not take this decision lightly. I had wrestled with my conscience all day. I had thrown mental daggers at the 'thick ignorant' manager spawned by John Delaney as Saddam Hussein to his Satan (see Southpark the movie). He had left me no choice. I turned on them, on my national team. I wagered my very identity as an Irish football supporter on them to be beaten. How could I live with myself?

Well, enough of the amateur dramatics and the over blowing of a mere sporting occasion into biblical proportions. I'm not Andy Gray after all. My defense is that I did it for the greater good. I cheered on the Cypriot part timers because I knew it would take something THIS BIG to end the reign of Delaney and Staunton. If it doesn't, then you are all to blame. When Brian Kerr brought Roy Keane back to Ireland, I thought we had a future. I thought we were getting over ourselves and that the culchie mentality of the past was being abandoned in favour of a more mature adult approach to governing our national team. I was wrong...

It's overhaul time. Minister for Sport John Donoghue needs to step in. Take the funding away until the house is in order. Hit them where it hurts, in the pockets. It would guarantee his re-election in six months time.

I'm hoping to go to the final match at Lansdowne Road next Wednesday, when we play host to the Czech republic. I didn't think I'd be cheering for the opposition though. Staunton and Delaney have stolen my football team from me. They've robbed me of the chance to cheer on an Irish side that holds the values I believe in. I've stood alone on the North Terrace on wet Wednesday afteroons in the early eighties to watch underachieving teams under John Giles and Eoin Hand. I basked in the glory of the Charlton years. Stood by the remaining squad after they treated Roy Keane so badly in Saipan. All this for nothing. The Fai (by the FAI I mean Delaney) has fucked us all, by landing us with a half decent golfer and sycophant from Dundalk. A man, with no managerial expertise. A man with no panache. A man devoid of charm. A man who's stubborn and ignorant. A man who commands absolutely no authority or respect. A man with a minimal grasp of the english language. A man who who has all the hallmarks of a trainee manager in SuperValu. A man who is frightened to call up Lee Carsley because he is frightened of having his authority undermined. A man who only feels secure when he is barking incomprehensible Dundalk curses at eighteen year olds. A man Roy Keane would have eaten for breakfast. A man? No. A charlatan.

I'm getting upset now. Time to lie down...

Staunton/Delaney MUST GO!

Monday, August 28, 2006

5 out of 10

In Ireland, every week, at least 5 (occasionally 6) out of the ten premiership games are shown live on TV. For example, this weekend:

Sat 12:45pm Liverpool v West Ham
Sat 3pm Watford v Man Utd
Sat 5:15pm Man City v Arsenal
Sun 4pm Blackburn v Chelsea
Mon 8pm Middlesboro v Portsmouth

That's 10 hours of football if you take in the half time breaks and 15 minute post match interviews. That's a lot of time in a working man's weekend. It's like I have two jobs. No wonder the washing is piling up.

Saturday, normally starts with the 10-11:30am five-a-side-cobweb-killing astro turf game, leaving one's blood circulating at a normal rate and an appetite for salty food and coffee. Lot's of coffee. However, due to holidays etc. the Saturday morning runaround was cancelled due to insufficient squad members.

Hence a more lethargic start to the Saturday. My significantly better looking other half had a hair appointment in town at 11am and a lunch date with a revisiting emigrant friend at 2pm. She estimated her return home would be sometime around 7ish. She had abandoned her plans to supplement her lunch with alcohol due to an inordinate amount of wine the previous night medicinally administered to dull out the constant replaying of the new Bob Dylan record which had been released that morning. What I'm trying to say here is was that I didn't need to leave the house to collect her from town. I was home alone with satellite TV and the fridge...

For those of you not familiar with the dual couch set up for marathon sports fests, here is a brief summary of the theory in it's rudimentary form.Two couches are positioned along parallel walls lying perpindicular to the angle of the TV screen. If the TV is north facing, then the two couches will be east and west facing respectively. The south facing arm rest on each couch is the 'head' position. When a human male is immobile for long stretches of 2 or more hours, the smaller vertebrae can become irritated at the lack of support as the molecular structure of the cushions and spring mechanism setlles in one position. This necissates a 'couch substitution'. The couch rotation system allows the primary couch to regain it's 'vigour' so to speak and one can 'switch-back' at the end of the fourth hour of the sports-fest.

Clear? Good. Dateline 12:30. Breakfast inhaled and coffee pot full. Various mini muffins within arms reach. 13:40pm. Liverpool unveil their new Dutch striker after about an hour. 2-1 up at half time against a West Ham team high on endeavour but low on quality. A spectacular Daniel Agger 30 yard strike equalised and a Crouch strike put them ahead right on the break. (Agger's goal can be seen here A good game that could have been turned upside down had Bowyer not missed a sitter in the dying minutes. Kuyt, however, looked nothing like he did in a Holland shirt. He looked like he could play. He was intelligent, enthusiastic and a big handful for defenders. It's too early to tell but the advance previews would certainly point to a box office hit, so to speak..

3pm. First couch switch. Muffins gone. Coffee dreggs only in pot. Switch also to Brazil nuts and Pilsner Urquell. Watford host Man Utd and the usual array of ex scouse players fan the flames of Mancunian hatred both in the RTE studio (Ray Houghton, Trevor Steven) and in the commenatry box (Jim Beglin). Who hires these clowns? Impartiality is a word they'll never understand. United were easy favourites and the leaped to an early one nil lead thanks to a well taken Silvestre goal. However in the usual comedy defending slot Mikael Silvestre starred in his usual role of the 'dummy' as he allowed a shimmy to wrong foot him and the cross ended up beyond Van der Saar for one all.

It took another piece of high jinks to put United one up when the worst back pass of all time allowed Giggs time and space to put Utd back in front. Without too much sweat being broke United sailed comfortably to their 3/3 record so far in the league. There's a highlights clip here

5:15pm: Pilsner numero quatro as Arsenal travel to Manchester to give a lesson in football to Man City. And a lesson they gave. In football. But not in winning. Arsenal suffered once again from their desperate quest for the perfectly executed goal. A clumsy challenge from Hoyte led to a penalty which Joey Barton despatched with the help of a crossbar to make it one nil. Arsenal passed, passed, passed and passed a little more while never really offering any thrust or goal bound end product. This Arsenal team likes to play pretty football, and fair play to them. But sometimes you gotta dig in for a result, scrap, scrap, scrap, scrap and scrap some more. Thierry Henry, who has more admirers than a Swedish Supermodel, didn't want to be there. His body language betrayed a distinct lack of interest and this could be Arsenal's undoing.

7:15pm and the newly coiffured lady of the house returns with glossy magazines in tow. She assumes her cat-like curl in the corner armchair and miraculously a large cold glass of white wine appears at her fingertips. I'm beginning to think her name should be Samantha...

Saturday's highlights round up starts in 15 minutes time whilst I change couches for the final time. I enquire as to what will be served for dinner when I am reminded in a timely fashion that I do the cooking around here. All this armchair athleticism made me forget who I was...

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Dateline: Wednesday 23rd August, 20:44 GMT. I was in the middle of an ordinary evenings football viewing. Chelsea were one up at Middlesboro as usual, It was only a matter of time before Manchester United went one up at Charlton. The woodwork had already denied them on a coupel of occasions and Darren Fletcher had just made his 187th incomplete pass of the game....

Business as usual.

Then the phone rang.

"This is NO JOKE,", came the voice on the end of the phone, quavering slightly. "Roy Keane is the new manager of Sunderland!". .

Something funny was happening. Was Superman doing his big lap of the globe and dirupting some temperal flux of cosmic jiggidy joobies? Roy Keane? Reporting directly to Niall Quinn!!!! The Sunderland chairman who famously backed McCarthy in the Saipan incident. The spineless coward who sat back and watch ireland's greatest player sent home from what would have been the crowning glory of his football career. The beanpole 'Mother Teresa' who was the subject of much of Keane's post-Saipan vitriol!!! Something is screwed up. Bobby Ewing was about to walk out of the shower.

Then Darren Fletcher scored. I passed out.

I came to with just over ten minutes to play. United were cruising to an easy win. Louis Saha had made it two nil, then the scoreflash came on the bottom of the screen. Middlesboro had equalised against Chelski! Just when I thought things were as far off the sanity plane as they possibly could get, up steps a big fat Australian named Mark Viduka, and sealed a Middlesboro win in the 90th minute.

Chelsea beaten, Fletcher scores, United three points clear of Chelsea at the top of the table, and Roy Keane's PRSI number on the same paypath sheet as Niall Quinn's! I need to lie down.....