Bad Ambassador Playlist – Friday September 23rd

Bad Ambassador

The Vines – Ride

Kaiser Chiefs – Everyday I love You Less And Less

Maximo Park – Apply Some Pressure

White Stripes – Fell In Love With A Girl

Goldie Lookin’ Chain – Your Missus Is A Nutter

MC Solaar – Nouveau Western

The Frames – What Happens When The Heart Just Stops

Badly Drawn Boy – Once Around The Block

Biffy Clyro – Biblical

DJ Shadow – Six Days

Run DMC – Peter Piper

Bell X1 – Rocky Took A Lover

Nirvana – Lithium

Blur – Tender

Leonard Cohen – Tower Of Song

Electric Six – Gay Bar

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight Tonight

Keane – Somewhere Only We Know

Dead Kennedys – California Uber Alles

Arcade Fire – Wake Up

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Into My Arms

Barenaked Ladies – Light Up My Room

Fight Like Apes – Lend Me Your Face

Radiohead – Planet Telex

The Smiths – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Villagers – The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)

Zero 7 – Destiny

Snow Patrol – Spitting Games

Cathy Davey – Army Of Tears

Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Muse – Starlight

Duke Special – Last Night I Nearly Dies But I Woke Up Just In Time

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Catch the show live every Friday or you can listen back anytime here: http://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/

It’s Beer-n A Long Time…

Yeah, I know. Terrible.

Just realised today that it was July the last time I stuck together some pics on craft beers I’ve had over the Summer so let’s remedy that…

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First one is a little Galway recommendation (even if it is from a crap picture). As both of the brilliant Galway Bay bars are outside the very centre of the city (Oslo is in Salthill, The Salthouse is over the Corrib Bridge beyond Jury’s Inn) the spot for one if you’re around Eyre Square could be O’Connell’s. All the above taps come from there.

Speaking of which…

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The GB collaboration with Cigar City Brewing is a fine (if temporary) addition to the range.

In terms of the best stuff I’ve had over the Summer there have been many, many fine tastes. In particular I still have some Stone and Yeastie Boys stashed away. Hop Fiction comes around far. far too rarely, everything Northern Monk makes is usually super…

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And on top of that a few other bits and pieces you might like…

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More to come on the craft beers of Spain…

A Few Things In September And October…

Right, holidays over and stuff starting to come in at a rate of knots.

I’m involved in all of the below, you should come along…

Wednesday September 21st – An Audience With Donal Ryan:

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I’ll be talking in front of a live audience to Donal on the launch of his latest novel All We Shall Know about his career to date and his latest work. Tickets HERE.

Wednesday September 28th – The 2016 Realex Payments Web Awards:

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I’m presenting, as usual, but this time in the funky new surroundings of the Liberty Hall Theatre.

http://webawards.ie/

Friday October 7th – Fundraiser For Crumlin Children’s Hospital:

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Given that I spent so much time there as a kid with footballing injuries from sprained ankles to sprained wrists (as well as the memorable fractured arm) I’m delighted to be donating my time to this brilliant event. Tickets HERE.

Saturday October 8th – Dromineer Literary Festival:

dromineer1I’ll be chairing the “Meet The Authors” event with guests Aideen Henry, Anthony Glavin and Ann Enright.

http://www.dromineerliteraryfestival.ie/full-programme.htm

Saturday October 15th – Irish Writers Centre (daytime):

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As they say on the site, this is a full day event. “During this highly practical, one-day series of talks Lia Mills (author of Another Alice, Nothing Simple, Fallen), Bert Wright (curator of Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival), and Peter O’Connell (publicist at Peter O’Connell Media) will discuss their own experiences with publicity and offer advice on gaining recognition in the industry. The day will finish with a media panel led by Martin Doyle (Assistant Literary Editor, The Irish Times), who will chat with Rick O’Shea (Rick O’Shea Book Club) and others as they discuss strategies and best practice for approaching and working with the media.”

Propel: An Expert’s Guide to Promoting your Book 

Saturday October 15th – Kildare Readers Festival (evening):

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I’ll be talking with two of Ireland’s most talented contemporary authors Sara Baume and Joanna Walsh.

http://www.kildarereadersfestival.ie/

Eight other events so far between there and the end of November, but we’ll get to them in time…

😉

Bad Ambassador Playlist – Friday September 16th

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Jay Z / Linkin Park – Jigga What / Faint

Delorentos – Basis Of Everything

Beck – Wow (Mexican Institute Of Sound Remix)

Florence & The Machine – Hurricane Drunk

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Scar Tissue

Royksopp – Eple

Stevie Wonder – I Wish

The Decemberists – Don’t Carry It All

Divine Comedy – Funny Peculiar

The Automatic – Monster

Young MC – Know How

The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again

Seasick Steve – Gentle On My Mind

The Velvet Underground – Rock And Roll

They Might Be Giants – Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Weezer – I Love The U.S.A.

The Strokes – Reptilia

Regina Spektor – Bleeding Heart

The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil

Shovels & Rope – Birmingham

Hank Williams – I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive

Morrissey – All You Need Is Me

Portishead – Glory Box

Tom Waits – Blue Valentines

Bruce Springsteen – The Rising

The Klaxons – Golden Skans

Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly

I Monster – Daydream IN Blue

Van Morrison – In The Garden

Eels – Flyswatter

 

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Catch the show live every Friday or you can listen back anytime here: http://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/

Looking At The Stars

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Righty so. I am honoured to have contributed to this project along with Kevin Barry, Sebastian Barry, Paul Durcan, Anne Enright, Tara Flynn, Sinéad Gleeson, John Kelly, Nick Laird, Belinda McKeon, Paul Muldoon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Dave Rudden, Donal Ryan…

There are 1,000 copies only, it’s €15 with 100% of that going to the Dublin Simon Community. We’re hoping to raise 15 grand for them by Xmas. Grab one while you can…

http://www.dubraybooks.ie/LOOKING-AT-THE-STARS-AN-ANTHOLOGY-IN-AID-OF-THE-SIMON-COMMUNITY_9781905002467

The 9 Books I Read On Holidays

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It genuinely says something about me that I think it’s a poor show I only finished 9 books when I was away for 2 weeks recently. Still…

As has proven popular before I’m going to lump them all together in one post here with short(-ish) reviews as, if not, I’ll never get to them all with the work bearing down on me over the next while!

Alexandra Kleeman – You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this and, even now, I’m not really sure what happened. Just that I liked it very, very much.

A lives with her housemate B. B is starting to look a bit more like A. A’s boyfriend C thinks so too. That and the disappearing family from across the street with sheets on their heads, the bizarre obsession A holds with one kind of artificial store cake and the cat they advertise with and a whole other rabbit hole of surreal, bonkers, borderline trippy days that are underlied by a whole structure behind about body-image, self-esteem, consumer society, cult-like behaviour and mental health.

I was fairly sure the story was going one way and that I had a handle on it until it wriggled out of my grasp near the end leaving me as unsure about what I had been witnessing as ever. If I could put it in a stylistic box (and I wouldn’t dare) it kind of reminds me of recent books I’ve read by the likes of Ben Lerner, Tom McCarthy and even Tao Lin’s Taipei. She has a new book of short stories due out in the U.S. soon. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Not out here in paperback until January 2017 but readily available from U.S. online retailers and on Kindle.

Julia Claiborne Johnson – Be Frank With Me

What a gorgeous, wonderful, whimsical, human book. One that I only really picked up on a recommendation from one of the reviewers in my book club. Frank is the 9-year-old son of a reclusive onetime million selling author who lives hidden away in an LA mansion. Alice works for her publisher and is sent to help her finish her long-awaited new novel. Thing is, Frank dresses like he’s Fred Astaire and it’s 1930.

A little gem.

Henry David Thoreau – Walden

One of those books I’ve been threatening to read for years and years and I’m at least partially glad I did. It’s the legendary story of Thoreau building his own cabin on the shores of Walden Pond in the 1850s and living pretty much alone and in a state of self-sufficiency for 2 years.

Half is a brilliant and still relevant analysis of how industrialisation and capitalism has made the human race live, half is a fairly dull set of descriptions of the local flora and fauna. Keep the first half, skim the latter.

Margaret Atwood – Hag-Seed

My second read in the Hogarth Shakespeare project after Anne Tyler’s disappointing Vinegar Girl; this couldn’t be more different. Atwood’s take on The Tempest involves a legendary theatre director and festival artistic director being fired on the eve of his radical new version of The Tempest. He’s sent into a lonely exile with only (the spirit of) his (dead) daughter and smouldering thoughts of vengeance upon those who have stolen his seat and he’s going to use The Tempest itself as the vehicle of his revenge. See where we’re going with this?

It’s a Tempest within a Tempest set in a world of people who know the play and are staging it(!) but yet never acknowledge, really, what’s going on here. Even aside from that her story of a failed brilliant artist looking for redemption or revenge or whatever by running Shakespeare productions in a prison is funny, smart and compelling.

A brilliant, worthy adaptation.

(Out on October 6th)

Various – Great Science Fiction

A little gem full of 50s nuggets picked up (for free!) thanks to the Dublin Worldcon 2019 bid stand at Comicon this year. Little chance you’ll find a copy yourself, sorry…

Michael Hughes – The Countenance Divine

It’s a Cloud Atlas-structured story slipping back through 1999, 1888, 1777 and 1666 and encompassing Y2K, Milton, Blake, the “From Hell” letters (that may or may not have been written by Jack The Ripper), the great fire of London and back again to the turn of the millennium.

Dizzying, fascinating, dense, entangling, occasionally wandering and enjoyable, even if I felt the end was a little bit of a damp squib.

Declan Lynch – The Ponzi Man

This was, for me anyway, the surprise pick of the bunch as I brought it along for some light reading in between the heavy stuff. I was wrong.

It’s the story of a fictional high-roller business-dealer type who collapsed along with the rest of a whole economy at the end of “The Thing” as they refer to the Celtic Tiger. Now he’s back living in a mouldy caravan in the seaside town he grew up in surrounded by shadows of his past and waiting for his court case to decide how long he’s going to spend in jail.

As someone who spent all of his childhood summers in a similar seaside town (just much further south and a decade later on) his detail is beautiful but it’s his examination of the nature of addiction and gambling in people who took other people’s money and ruined many of them during the crash that makes this stand out.

Well worth the read.

Becky Chambers – A Closed And Common Orbit

If, like me, you loved the Firefly-influenced first part of this story, A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, then I am absolutely delighted to tell you that this sequel, set with only a couple of the characters from the first book, is *much* better.

Look, I know that SF may not, in theory, be your thing, but she writes characters with such (and I am aware it’s not the correct term, as most of them aren’t human) humanity and is, in effect, creating stories of life, love, difference and potential that just so happen to happen far from Earth and a long time into the future. There are almost no “bad guys”, no vast battles, no evil empires and no space opera plots here, just interpersonal drama that could happen, well, anywhere.

I get the feeling Becky Chambers has a whole universe of characters she could write that skate around the boundaries of what she’s written so far. I sincerely hope she does.

(Not out until April 2017, sorry… However it does seem to be out in the U.S. next month.)

Maggie O’Farrell – This Must Be The Place

I would like to say there was always one on the holiday that was going to make me cry at the end but I so rarely do that, heartless bastard that I am. This did.

A story of people, relationships, moments that change whole lives and the (mostly) normal story of a group of interconnected people and families set over decades. I don’t want to tell you any more, find out for yourself.

Skilfully observed, ringing with truth and full of fascinating characters. The sort of thing that a book you bring on holiday should be.

Bad Ambassador Playlist – Friday August 26th

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Ben Folds – In Between Days

Weezer – Beverly Hills

P.I.L. – Rise

Rilo Kiley – Breakin’ Up

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes – Home

Buck 65 – Roses & Bluejays

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat. Jack White – Two Against One

Beastie Boys – Egg Man

Catatonia – Road Rage

Led Zeppelin – The Rain Song

David Gray – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Fountains Of Wayne – Hey Julie

Death In Vegas – Aisha

The Hives – Hate To Say I Told You So

Massive Attack – Protection

Johnny Cash – Hurt

Coldplay – God Put A Smile Upon Your Face

Suzanne Vega – 99.9f

Mic Christopher – Heyday

Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life

The Last Shadow Puppets – Miracle Aligner

Ms. Dynamite – Dy-Na-Mi-Tee

Hot Chip – Over And Over

The Cure – Lullaby

Roisin Murphy – Whatever

OK GO – Get Over It

Reverend & The Makers – Heavyweight Champion Of The World

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – Waiting For The Beat To Kick In