Sunday, August 29, 2010

Salute

Salute, the military-themed festival in the National Show Centre near Swords, continues today. I enjoyed it yesterday - there was quite a lot to see, so I'm going back today.

Sadly there were no vikings: they had to be elsewhere this weekend. Apparently in previous years they've had the best party after the site closes to the public on Saturday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sculpture In Context 2010 in the National Botanic Gardens

What a nice idea, using botanic gardens as an exhibition space for sculpture:

"Sculpture In Context 2010 will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the National Botanic Gardens in September with its largest exhibition to-date. Over 120 sculptures by Irelands leading artists will be displayed throughout the Gardens, ponds, Great Palm House and Curvilinear Range, with the smaller works exhibited in the gallery above the Visitors Centre."

The exhibition runs from 1st September to 15th October 2010.

As reader RosieMonstre has pointed out, I should clarify that the National Botanic Gardens are in Glasnevin. There are also National Botanic Gardens in Kilmacurragh in Co. Wicklow, but the exhibition mentioned above is in the Glasnevin gardens. Oops.

Theatre: Mouth to Mouth

Mouth to Mouth reminds me of those nested Russian dolls - rather than proceeding linearly from scene to scene, the play is structured as a series of nested flashbacks, one within the other. Whereas in film-making flashbacks have been so heavily overused as to be dull and irritating, in a play they're something of a novelty. It's a refreshing narrative structure and works well for the story being told.

The story itself is a mix of tragedy and comedy, principally concerned with the romantic (or at least sexual) relationships of the characters. The play explores quite a range of concepts in this respect. It would only spoil the play if I went into detail - I'll just say that there's much more to the relationships than the typical "rom-com" material so frequently seen in both films and plays.

The play takes a little time to get into its stride. This is perhaps because of its unusual structure: Mouth to Mouth is most intense and most enjoyable during the flashback-within-a-flashback at the centre of the play. That series of scenes is a delight: revealing, varied, and well-paced. Whereas the 'outer layers' of the play are slower scenes with no more than two characters, these central scenes benefit greatly from the presence of secondary characters. (It is no criticism of Nick Devlin, playing the main character Frank, to suggest that Frank is a self-centred and at times annoying individual: almost certainly the least attractive character in the play.)

For comic value, in her professional debut Sophia Cadogan steals the show with her portrayal of stereotypical dumb-blonde Cornelia. (Beauty and talent are a powerful combination.) Also making his professional debut is Ian Armstrong (Philip); as debuts go, this must be a tough role, and he handles it well. Both of these actors have come directly from the involvement of the theatre company (Crooked House) with Kildare Youth Theatre. They're clearly doing something right.

Project Arts Centre have a knack for picking good shows: Mouth to Mouth is both funny and at times discomforting.

Rating: ****

Mouth to Mouth runs until 4th September. Also running until then in Project Arts Centre is The Colleen Bawn.

(1) Left to Right: Dennis, Philip, Laura, Frank (2) Cornelia and Roger, (3) Laura and Frank


Science Gallery - Kate Ellis

From last Friday's "Gigs in the Gallery".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On Tuesday 24th

Mouth to Mouth begins in Project Arts Centre today, Tuesday 24th August. "A modern day ghost story and sharp tragi-comedy Mouth to Mouth follows the fate of a group of friends haunted by the past. Suitable ages 16+. Contains some strong language and sexual references." (Is that a warning or a promise?)

Also on today, as part of Heritage Week, the National Library will give a behind-the-scenes view of the Library. Details: 1 pm, Seminar Room, National Library, Kildare Street. Admission is free.

Marriage Equality march

I'm told that the Civil Partnership legislation took some of the fire out of this issue, but there was nonetheless a large number of demonstrators at the weekend's march for equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Not the only gays in the village, that day at least

Monday, August 23, 2010

When Vikings Attack

The Dublin Viking Festival was on over the weekend, held appropriately/ironically/delete-as-appropriate beside the Dublin City Council offices on Wood Quay. (You know, the offices that were built over the site of Dublin's early Viking settlement.)

Good atmosphere. This is the third year of the festival, and I hope it continues on.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Filmbase - ShortSpace

Filmbase are about to start a new series of short-film screenings:

"Hosted at Filmbase on the first Thursday of every month, ShortSpace is the place for filmmakers and film fans to get together, screen and discuss short films and short filmmaking.

Each month Filmbase will select a variety of short films based around a specific theme or topic. These films will be screened and then the filmmakers behind the films will be asked to talk about their experience in making the film.

The first ShortSpace will kick off on Thursday the 2nd of September."


The start time on 2nd September is 7 pm. Admission costs €5 for Filmbase members and €8 for non-members.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coffee: Fitzroy & Flinders

Back at the start of August I discovered a wonderful coffee stand in the Point Village Market, called Badger & Dodo. Nice espresso, nice latte art, friendly staff. I found myself wishing they had a cafe instead of just a stand at a weekend market.

As luck would have it however, Badger & Dodo are the suppliers to a newly-opened cafe. Fitzroy & Flinders opened earlier this month right in the heart of Rathmines, opposite the old Bank of Ireland building. The decor and menu will have an Australian theme.

To the average passer-by Fitzroy & Flinders might look like just another cafe of no particular note. It isn't; this is not your average "greasy spoon" serving up murky black water and calling it coffee. They'll regularly get in new coffees from Badger & Dodo.

As well as espresso-based coffee they also serve v60 and Aeropress filter coffee - in the coffee world these are very much in vogue. The v60 and Aeropress did an excellent job of bringing out the flavour of the Kenyan coffee being used when I visited last Sunday; the taste reminded me of rooibos tea. It's wierd to taste filter coffee that doesn't just taste bland and stale!

I also tried the 'Red Rock' blend in an espresso... mmmm. Lovely. I wasn't sure quite what I was tasting but I liked the wonderful 'zing'. Of the two coffees, I preferred the Red Rock to the Kenyan.

Oh, and the food's nice too - I had my brunch of choice, salmon with scrambled eggs.

My only concerns for the new cafe are that it might be a bit small and that there's no outdoor area. On a beautiful sunny Sunday morning I like to be able to sit outside and sprawl a newspaper all over a big table. If Fitzroy & Flinders becomes popular - and it deserves to on the basis of the food and coffee - it could become rather cramped. That though is a problem for the future. For now, I'm delighted there's a new, quality cafe for the coffee-lovers of Dublin to enjoy.

Next: Coffee Angel

Other coffee-related posts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Hugh Lane Gallery - Sir John Lavery: Passion and Politics

The following review was written by Claire Bradley.

The Hugh Lane Gallery has always had strong associations with Ireland as a nation, with its emphasis on modern/Irish art, and the dispute that raged for decades over Hugh Lane's bequest of paintings offered to the State if they had a suitable place to display them, so it is appropriate that here they choose to commemorate one of our greatest artists, John Lavery. Lavery was born in Belfast, orphaned as a child and never actually lived in Ireland but had a strong affinity and visited countless times. He was exceptionally prolific and his work is known world wide. This exhibition focuses on his politics and passions. With his second wife, Hazel, the two opened the doors of their London home to many Irish politicians, and during the Treaty negotiations, allowed both sides to meet informally there.

Lavery painted all the signatories of the Treaty and this exhibition brings the paintings together for the first time. Several of them belong already to the Hugh Lane Gallery through a bequest made in Lady Lavery's name on her death in 1935. Others belong to the National Gallery, the Ulster Museum and there are some other pieces from smaller galleries and private collections. Three standout paintings for me were: the massive painting of the trial of Roger Casement, on loan from the UK Government Collection; Lady Lavery as Kathleen Ní Houlihan, which graced our banknotes until 1977. This painting is more sensual and youthful on canvas than it ever was on money! Finally, a painting of Michael Collins lying in state is exceptionally poignant and that Lavery (and his wife) were Collins' close friends is evident in it. Collins was carrying a letter from Hazel Lavery when he was shot.

The "passion" side of the exhibition is largely made up with paintings of Lady Lavery, his muse. She herself was an artist and a couple of her own works are included. Accompanying the paintings, there is a small collection of memorabilia, mainly letters to and from the Laverys.

One small bone of contention, one painting is on view downstairs and everything else upstairs. Signage is good but it would be better all on one level. Those with mobility issues should note that chairs were almost non-existent.

Worth a look, and free, the exhibition runs until 31st October.

Culture Night - programme of events officially launched

The programme of events for Culture Night 2010 was officially launched today in Dublin Castle, with guest speaker Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

Over the next few weeks, leading up to Culture Night on Friday 24th September, I'll be taking a look at some of the events I'm most looking forward to.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Theatre: Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival

Tickets go on public sale tomorrow, Wednesday 18th August. Go have a look at the programme. There are just so many plays to go to! I'm looking forward to the challenge.

In the meantime, you might want to have a look at Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow in the New Theatre. I haven't seen it yet but I'm reliably informed it's good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Culture Night - call for volunteers

Temple Bar Cultural Trust are looking for volunteers for Culture Night:

"Dublin Culture Night will take place on Friday September 24th, a night of entertainment, discovery and adventure in Dublin city as arts and cultural organisations and venues open their doors until late with hundreds of free tours, talks, performances and events for you, your family and friends to enjoy. Culture Night is co-ordinated by Temple Bar Cultural Trust and supported by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism in partnership with the regional arts offices and local authorities.

...

Temple Bar Cultural Trust are looking to gather a team of well organised volunteers who would like to take part in this annual event.

The main tasks that we will need volunteer assistance for are:

* Guides on the Culture Night buses
* Assisting at Information Points
* Assisting stewards with the outdoor events
* Assisting at the Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre
"

Culture Night is by far the best cultural event of the year. The atmosphere is incredible; it's like the whole city centre is one huge open-air theme park.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Coffee: Nespresso

Over the last week I mostly took a break from cafes and instead tried out Nespresso. I've used their system before and thought it pretty good, but I've tasted a lot of very good coffee since then and I wanted to see how Nespresso would compare.

I'm sure many readers are already familiar with the Nespresso concept: Nestlé produce a range of coffee machines that accept only proprietary coffee-capsules ("pods"). [In Dublin you can buy these in Brown Thomas on Grafton Street.] The pods come in about sixteen varieties plus occasional specials. Whereas traditionally coffee-making could be quite a skill - with plenty of room for error and mess - the Nespresso machines are highly automated. Pod goes in, coffee comes out. Easy.

"A superior result ... comparable with an espresso prepared by the most skilled Barista", says Nespresso. Sorry, Nespresso, but a skilled barista most certainly can product a coffee far superior to a Nespresso-pod coffee.

To be fair to Nespresso, the coffee their pods and machines produce is pretty good. It's as good as some cafes can offer, better than others, very consistent, and of course quite a bit cheaper. It's much better than instant coffee (although also more expensive). There's also the fun of accessories: as well as a wide range of machines there's a good selection of cups, saucers, and biscotti.

But "exceptional coffee" comparable to coffee from the best freshly-ground beans? Not even close.

Next: Newly-opened cafe, Fitzroy & Flinders. Based in Rathmines this cafe will use coffee provided by Dodo & Badger.

Other coffee-related posts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Project Arts Centre

The play's the thing, but personally I think the venue's just as much the thing, at least if your aim is to catch a good evening's entertainment at the theatre.

I've been to several plays in Project Arts Centre recently and enjoyed all of them. I don't think that's entirely down to the plays. I like Project Arts Centre itself. I like that it has a gallery space for small exhibitions - apart from being good in it own right, this provides another way for customers to enjoy themselves before their play begins. I like the bar; unlike the Abbey Theatre it has Black Bush. (I mean really, is that too much to expect of our National Theatre?) I like that there's a machine that dispenses free coffee, even if it's not particularly good coffee.

I went to see 'Vincent River' earlier this week. The staff were friendly, from the ticket-sellers on the front desk to the bar staff and the polite ushers. At one point I misplaced my copy of the programme and asked for another - no problem. Oh, and being able to order in a pizza from Milano for only €10, arriving in about 15 minutes... this, ladies and gentlemen, is how theatre should be.

Most of all I like the closeness of the audience seats to the action on stage, particularly for the downstairs theatre, the Cube. It's a cliché to say this but the venue really does feel intimate. The immediacy and physicality of theatre is part of its appeal: it's the original 3D movie.

Have you had any good (or bad) experiences at Project Arts Centre? Send me a Tweet!

The bar. If you look very carefully you'll notice a selection of whiskies... mmm.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Theatre: 'Vincent River'

The latest play to open in Project Arts Centre is Vincent River, a Philip Ridley play first performed in 2000 in London. This new production is directed by Sophie Motley and stars Eleanor Methven (Anita) and Kerr Logan (Davey).

The two characters, Anita and Davey, start the play as strangers brought together by unfortunate circumstances. The opening minutes of the play seem odd, jarring even, and I was briefly concerned that I wasn't going to care for either of the characters or for their misfortunes.

And then, bit by bit, sentence by sentence, I got drawn in. It's a slow build but a constant one, and the disjointed initial conversation turn into a progressively more intense dialogue between Anita and Davey. The final few minutes were gripping: by this point I cared about the characters and I was wrapped up in their story. Looking back afterwards, the seemingly awkward start to the play makes more sense - I think it was a deliberate choice, not an accident. (And yes, I'm intentionally being vague about the plot.)

While I never go to the theatre to admire the acting - I simply want to enjoy the play - I know just enough about the subject to have been impressed by how much was going on. The play consists of a single unrelenting scene and two characters; the actors have to be focused and 'on' all the time. There are several very nice moments, such as when Kerr plays Davey's failed attempt to deny a comment made by Anita - showing the audience a realistic denial without convincing them of it.

There is of course more to the theatre experience than just the play. The venue is also crucial and greatly contributed to my enjoyment of the evening. I'll mostly leave that for another post, except to say one of the best aspects of Project Arts Centre is how close it allows the audience to get to the action on stage. At one point a prop - no longer needed - rolled away from Kerr Logan. It stopped after about a meter because it had reached the front row of the audience. This physical closeness worked very well for 'Vincent River'.

Vincent River runs in Project Arts Centre up to and including 21st August 2010.

Conclusion: intense, well-acted, and compelling.

Ely Bar & Brasserie

A few weeks ago, after a play, I went with two friends to Ely Bar & Brasserie in the IFSC. One of them was an actress from the play, and the other (her boyfriend) had been the lighting technican for the evening.

We headed down to the vaults and started with a reasonably-priced bottle of prosecco; we followed that with cheese and port. Nothing too fancy, nothing too expensive, and all very nice. The convivial decor and lighting create the right atmosphere for conversation; the lack of loud music and the spaciousness also help in this respect. Overall, I much prefer the downstairs to the more modern-looking bar on the ground floor.

Service was prompt and good.

Ely is pleasant as a restaurant or as a regular bar, but it is at its best as a wine bar. Highly recommended for a relaxing night out with friends.

A small section of the vaults.

Science Gallery - Gigs in the Gallery (Blue Heaven Barbershop)

Another nice evening of tapas, sangria and live music last Friday. I was glad to see that the tapas was fairly different to the previous Friday; I think this should help prolong my interest in the event as I suspect I'd get quite bored of the food if it were identical each time.

The music was provided by Blue Heaven Barbershop Chorus. I like barbershop and these guys did a fine job of it.

This week will feature "electro pop artist Babybeef". Damn, I like the sound of that actually, but I'll have to miss it as I'll be heading on over to Temple Bar as Funky Seomra kick off the Meeting House Square Undercover series of events.

Blue Heaven Barbershop Chorus.

Wheel of Dublin

Recently arrived at the Point Village, the Wheel of Dublin.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And now for something completely different: the Irish Anti-War Movement

Note: this is not a blog about politics. This post is about a political group as a community with an alternative perspective and not a discussion of the rights or wrongs of the main substantive issues of interest to that group.

Many of the topics I write about - coffee, plays, Japanese cuisine - are entirely delightful subjects. Some people might (wrongly) regard them as trivialities, but they are important not only in their own right but because they are part of a broader concept of how people in Dublin share their city with each other. Sometimes I think I should have called this blog "Dublin Subcultures", because I have a strong if not yet proven belief that Dublin is full of interesting goings-on that most people simply filter out or never hear about.

For the sake of doing something entirely different to my normal routine I went along at the weekend to the 'Day School' being run by the Irish Anti-War Movement.

The event cost €5/€10 depending on employment status; I rather honestly pointed out that I was in work, but countered that (due to time constraints) I was only turning up to hear a single session. Reasonableness was achieved and everyone was satisfied.

The panel of speakers at the session ("Islam and resistance") were genuinely well chosen, almost shockingly so. I had feared that I would hear four similar speeches, each more angry but less informative than the last. Instead the speakers each presented an entirely distinct topic of discussion. First up was a brief commentary about warfare in early Islam - a subject I already knew a little about thanks to my good friend Wikipedia. Next up was a professor from DCU, who gave a fascinating speech categorising Islamist groups into five distinct types. Broadly speaking he described each type by three main factors - guns, institutional politics, and charity work.

The third speaker talked about resistance as a culture, a way of life. I think he was the one who pointed out that Afghani fighters in the 1980s were portrayed as the good guys; now they're shown... differently. (Have a look at that James Bond film from the 1980s - I think it's The Living Daylights. Mujahideen as plucky heroes!) The final speaker discussed her view that the media incorrectly depict Islam as monolithic and unchanging. All very interesting, and with good chairing ensuring that neither the speeches nor the audience comments/questions ran on much too long.

I however wasn't there just to hear these speeches; I wanted to get some feel for the people themselves and their attitudes. And on this point I must admit: I mostly failed. For the first time since I started blogging, I lost my nerve; later in the evening I happened to wander by the bar of the Central Hotel intending to chat to the people at the Day School - Blogging Skills 101, really. But... I just walked on by. I felt like an interloper. Despite the very fractured nature of radical left-wing politics, they seemed to all know each other and get along well enough over a pint. They weren't unfriendly towards me; I just felt like I'd be getting in the way.

If I were to be critical, I'd express some surprise at how little interest they showed in a newbie. They seemed wary of strangers, as if half suspecting that anyone they didn't know might be (if I can put it this way) working for The Man. Possibly even The Israeli Man. Perhaps that was just a preconception on my part.

The attendees at the event were a complex, motivated, and varied group of people, and beyond that I can't fairly comment.

Ahmed El Habash speaking about warfare in early Islam.

Monday, August 9, 2010

'No Drama Theatre'

I was talking recently to someone who had just finished pretending he could see ghosts. Sort of. Long story. Anyway, he mentioned that he was part of an amateur theatre group based in Dublin, called No Drama Theatre. They're about to restart their weekly schedule of workshops in Synge St CBS. The first is on the evening of Monday August 16th; they also run workshops on Tuesdays.

The workshops cost €20 per month. I can't overstate how cheap that is compared to classes in a more official/commercial setting. I've been through - and greatly enjoyed - Acting for Camera classes in the Gaiety School of Acting, and while I would recommend the classes to anyone I'd also acknowledge that for many people these days €300 or so (per eight classes) isn't to be spent lightly. Oh, and the first No Drama workshop is free.

I'm also pleased to see that No Drama plan to run a production of Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters in November. They're looking for crew, actors and extras.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Coffee: Insomnia

I tried out a variety of coffees from the Dawson St and Nassau St branches of Insomnia this week. I expected mediocre coffee but at a competitive price.

I have to admit, I was wrong. The prices were pretty standard for the city centre. The coffee... well there's a reason I mention the two specific branches, and that is that the quality varied greatly between them. I'm surprised by this as I'd have expected them to be similar.

The espresso and cappuccino I tried from the Dawson Street branch were just plain bad. The espresso had an oily, burnt taste to it, as if the coffee beans used were over-roasted. The cappuccino was competently prepared but that couldn't compensate for the poor quality coffee.

I almost gave up on Insomnia at that point, but for the sake of fairness I decided to try a different branch, the more spacious one on Nassau St. I was pleasantly surprised to get a very nice macchiato, followed the next day by a good if unspectacular latte.

I'm not sure quite what to make of Insomnia. Perhaps the Dawson St branch had just received a bad batch of coffee beans. The problem though is that the city centre has many lovely cafes serving good coffee. If you're in an area with few cafes, Insomnia will do; but in the city centre there are many far better places to go to.

Read reviews of other cafes and coffee stalls.

Next week: Nespresso, as advertised by George Clooney and John Malkovich

Money for nothing and your beer for free

As I passed by the Temple Bar Hotel on my way home from the Saturday market in Meeting House Square a lady asked if I was free for a few minutes to drink some free beer in return for being paid a fiver. It was a blind tasting and I of course said yes.

I was led inside and presented with two small beers and a glass of water. On a warm day being given free, cold beer is nice, nice, nice. I answered several questions, got my fiver, and went on my way.

I was told that this tasting would continue during the day, so if you're around Temple Bar today go have a taste.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Plough and The Stars - special offer

Says the Abbey Theatre: "We have great news for you! There are a limited number of 2 tickets for the price of 1* for the Monday 9 August performance of The Plough and the Stars.

*Special offer avaiable on full price tickets only. Offer expires midnight Friday 6 August, or unitl limit has been reached."


I went to see this last weekend. I haven't written a review yet because... gosh, where would I start? It's the closest we, the Irish, have to a national play. And it's on in our national theatre, using props that in some cases were used in the original production. This isn't like the plays I normally go to; I already know the story, both from its real historical context and having studied the play for the Leaving Cert.

It's a story of Dubliners - of varying classes and political and religious beliefs - caught up in the complex, exciting, terrible events of 1916. It's not hard to see why the play caused such controversy, being released only a decade after the events it depicts. Even today there's something momentarily shocking about hearing lines from Rule Britannia being sung in Ireland's theatre. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just... well let's be honest, it's that the Green side won and the Orange side lost, and rightly or wrongly as a country we went on to ignore one colour of our national flag, to just let it fade away.

Most of all I was struck my how deeply interesting that long-lost Ireland was. Seeing the play performed live also surprised me with the extent of the humour involved; that didn't come across when I read the script. (Well done to the actors for bringing the play alive like this.)

This is not a light evening's entertainment. It's serious and at times bleak. It is also worth seeing both for its own sake and for its historical value.

Science Gallery - Friday Tapas / Gigs in the Gallery

After enjoying the Bio-Rhythm exhibition, I returned to Science Gallery last Friday for their Friday Tapas / Gigs in the Gallery event. €7.50 gets a plate of tapas, a glass of sangria, and good live music. This week will feature Blue Heaven Barbershop Chorus. I'm looking forward to it.

Last week's performers were - I hope I have their names right - Lisa McGovern and Oliver Coleman.

Lisa McGovern at Science Gallery
Lisa McGovern

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Science Gallery - Bio-Rhythm

I visited Science Gallery last week to see their current exhibition, 'Bio-Rhythm'. "From an acoustic bed to sonic tables and experiments on your emotional response to pop music, Science Gallery's Summer exhibition BIORHYTHM will allow you to feel how music moves your body through an interactive bazaar of unique sonic experiences, installations, experiments and performances from musicians, engineers and neuroscientists from around the world."

By far my favourite part of the exhibition is Reactable. The user places icon-covered blocks onto a blue, glowing, circular table. A clever piece of software figures out the details of which block has been placed down and where it is relative to the other blocks in use, and creates the appropriate music. Some blocks create percussion, some create a series of notes, and some modify other blocks' outputs. It's visually entrancing and very enjoyable to try. As I watched a member of staff demonstrating the Reactable I was struck by the resemblence to a nightclub-DJ at work.

The exhibition runs until 1st October 2010.

Opera in the Open: Don Pasquale

Ah, opera, the feeble love-child of legitimate theatre and classical music. Why is it that combining these two very enjoyable forms of performance creates something inferior to either of the two components?

Anyway... it's hardly the fault of the organisers of Opera in the Open that I'm not just yet a fan of their form of art. To be fair to them they did a good job. The performance was, as far as I can tell in my ignorance, both skillful and crowd-pleasing. In case you're wondering, Don Pasquale is essentially a "RomCom" (Romantic Comedy).

To a theatre-goer such as myself it sure felt wierd - though it was helpful - to have the story told by a presenter in advance of the actual performance of each scene. However I thought the performers did well in respect of both singing and, to my surprise, acting.

Despite my dislike of opera, I'm tempted to return to see future performances. Next Thursday features Handel, and the final show (Thursday 26th) is Don Giovanni by Mozart. I like Mozart - when I tell people how talented I think Lady Gaga is, I sometimes emphasise the point by stating that she is the greatest musical genius since Mozart. If Mozart liked opera, it must have something going for it. I will persevere.

Photos to follow.

OpenCoffee

OpenCoffee is on later today (Thursday 5th) in NCI, Mayor Square, IFSC. It starts at 10:30 am.

"OpenCoffee Club is an informal event for web / business people to get together and chat about anything and everything. Usually, people talk about their work or what’s going on at the moment on the web."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"DesigningDublin"

I was at a discussion by Designing Dublin earlier this evening, held in the Science Gallery in TCD. Interesting concepts, although it seems to be one of those things you can only fully 'get' by being involved in it.

I'll keep an eye on this over the coming months as they run their 'Love the City' project for the city centre. The project has, in my opinion, the potential to be an incredible boost to the city centre or a total waste of time - or anything in between. That's part of what makes it interesting: there's really know way to know how it'll go.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August - highlights

Here are a few of the things I'm most looking forward to in August. I think it'll be a good month.

As I'll probably not be at the Dublin Horse Show (starting tomorrow) I'll skip straight to "Opera in The Open", starting on Thursday 5th August at 1 pm in the grounds of the Civic Offices in Wood Quay and running every Thursday for the rest of the month. Now I've a confession to make: for someone who writes about culture, I sure know very little about opera. Bad first experience, very dull Russian opera about boredom. (I certainly empathised with the characters though.) Opera in The Open should be much more fun, although "The Open" does suggest rain might be a problem... this is Ireland in August after all...

The Northside Music Festival continues as well, with an event on Thursday 5th in St Canice's Church (Tonos), Sunday 8th in Griffith Park (Txutxukan & Discovery Gospel Choir), Thursday 12th in the Sean O'Casey Community Centre (The Henry Girls), Sunday 15th in Fr. Collins Park (Masamba & Afro Cuban Groove) and finally Tuesday 17th in St Pappan's Church (Callino String Quartet).

On Tuesday 10th 'Vincent River' opens in Project Arts Centre. This play got good reviews from previous runs elsewhere.

Friday 13th sees Meeting House Square in Temple Bar getting covered over. First up, on Friday 13th, is Funky Seomra. OK, I'll admit my first reaction to their slogan - "alcohol and drug free festival nightclub" - was to think it sounded worthy and not much fun, but as I read more I became increasingly interested. I'll definitely be there. There'll be plenty of other events in the days after that too, as the square remains covered until August 22nd.

National Heritage Week starts on Saturday 21nd and runs through to Sunday 29th. There's so much on that week I'll not even attempt to summarise it.

Also starting on Saturday 21st and running over that weekend is the Dublin Viking Festival. I'd strongly suggest trying out the walking tour. There'll be music, lectures on weaponry, a movie screening and... "Available at the festival will be different types of local made and foreign food; including hog roast, breads and Danish pastries. Also, drink stalls with apple cider and mead." Food + Alcohol + Weaponry. I am so there.

On Monday 23rd Project Arts Centre presents 'Mouth to Mouth', "a modern day ghost story and sharp tragi-comedy Mouth to Mouth follows the fate of a group of friends haunted by the past".

Leaving perhaps the best until last, the month ends with Salute!. "Salute is a multi-period military vehicle and re-enactment event which will take place on August 28th & 29th 2010." Hell yes it will, with tanks and guns and airsofters and reenactors who drill using Latin. One of the main reasons I started blogging about culture was a firm but unproven belief that Dublin was full of fascinating subcultures, so to find an excellent event with so many diverse hobbies all rolled together... awesome.

Oh, and I'll be drinking and writing about coffee, and finding nice places for weekend brunch. This could be a very fun month.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Northside Music Festival

The Northside Music Festival begins today. The opening performance is Kila, at the Red Stables in St Anne's Park, D3, at 14:00 today.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coffee: Badger & Dodo

Yesterday I headed down to Docklands to see the Point Village Market. It's on every Saturday and is very easy to find - just look out for the ferris wheel beside the O2. There was one specific stall I was especially keen to find, the Badger & Dodo coffee stand.

I'd heard only good things about Badger & Dodo so I wanted to try their coffee for myself. I wasn't disappointed. The espresso is delicious, one of the best offerings in the city.

Two things though took me by surprise. Firstly, the staff were exceptionally friendly - not just helpful, but genuinely enthusiastic about coffee. Secondly, no sooner had I downed a double espresso than I was presented with an impromtu display of "latte art"; see the second picture below. The photo doesn't do it justice.

If you're serious about coffee, you simply must visit Badger & Dodo.

Update: You can now get Badger & Dodo coffee in a nice Dublin cafe called Fitzroy & Flinders, recently opened in Rathmines. V60! Aeropress! Tasty brunch options! And most of all, damn fine espresso.

Next: Insomnia

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