The Public Reading Fluctuation

Dear me, dear you.. after bombarding you with a rather hallucinogenic (and rather long) story about a man and his smart-phone apocalypse I seem to have gone rather quiet. Could I blame a burn out? In this case perhaps I should. My first creative piece, and a lengthy one as well! But I couldn’t rest on laurels for too long, it’s not that much of an achievement. (Besides, how does one rest on laurels in the first place?)  It’s a little over a thousand words of frenzy. You see.. the story you have just read (or randomly glanced at) below was written for a public reading at the seductive madness that is Literary Death Match . Amazingly, I was able to be on stage, read my redundancies aloud and have fun while I was at it as well. I was terrified, but I had fun !

Seasoned with coin-tossing, paper rustling and mind-numbingly complicated spelling contests, this LDM featured nothing but the best in todays (and yesterdays) literature ‘munchies’. Renown Irish author Peter Sheridan was the brave one to take on the mic. He time-travelled to the early days of his childhood and to a no-nonsense Irish household, in which the Television was his family’s epicenter. The short story about him and his dad having to fix the aerial on the roof put a melancholic smile on everyone’s face.

My story followed his, and you can read it below or here if you’re too lazy to scroll down. I’ll let you be the judge of the material. All I can tell you is that by the end of my story, I had already let myself be seduced by the crowd, the low-lit pub, the stage, the microphone and most of all, the judges.. oh the judges.. With Joe Rooney, Mia Gallagher and Derek O’Connor talking about you, who could resist temptation? I thank them for their generosity and appreciation.

Then, another amazing thing happened, and her name was Erin Fornoff (not actual footage from event, sadly). She delighted the crowd with fire-lit glimpses of New Orleans and tales of coal – jugglers with their fascinating dances by the moonlight. And as her words flowed like honey, we were all there in the hot August summer night. She truly has that poetic licence to kill..

The night was then rounded up by Fintan O’Higgins (not actual footage from event, again sadly), whose two poems were met with a ‘raucous reception’ (I allowed myself to use LDM’s description, as it dots every i) The tale of the man who lavished his imaginary girlfriend with expensive “smellies” still makes me chuckle (although it’s quite mean to laugh at a man’s loneliness..)

Overall I can describe this experience as a combination of reading a book by the fire and bungee jumping .. together wrapped in a bundle of nerdist joy. I thank Brian Martin for the opportunity to become part of this wonderful and exclusive club of literary lovers and Todd Zuniga for being the versed whirlwind that is Todd Zuniga !! Hoping to be part of the crowd next time LDM comes into town…

The Loo Water Culmination

It happened all too suddenly and without warning. The unthinkable…happened! He was relieving himself of the last couple of beers he had earlier while checking his ex-girlfriend’s latest status updates – pretty standard procedure for a guilt-ridden Saturday night. Faster than you can say Facebook Stalker, his phone slipped through his fingers and began its lightning-fast descent into the toilet bowl. It made a loud echoing THWACK as it hit against the porcelain, only to splash into his yellow puddle of alcoholic waste. It took him a few moments to realize the gravity of the situation. It was both gravity AND his inebriated situation that led him to this hazard.

This wasn't in the manual.

He was too wasted   and wasting too many precious moments trying to come to grips with WHAT had happened and HOW. He kept staring at his priceless possession now drowning in a sea of urine. The shocking sight had split his brainwaves in several different directions. One part of his mind denied this reality, another part was hatching up a cunning plan to turn back in time while the third was thinking about that last photo of his ex showing off HER phone in her bathroom mirror. Of course, none of this was helping. He needed to grasp that last part of his subconscious, that last percentage that was still sober, and he needed IT to take action.

And so he rolled up his shirtsleeve, kneeled by the toilet bowl and was going to make a serious effort to ignore that pungent smell of recent bodily secretions. He had to. He was going in. He squinted his eyes and bit his lip in a most revolting grimace. He dipped his right hand into the lukewarm liquid, grabbed the device and pulled it out whilst trying so hard NOT to get reacquainted with that handful of honey-roasted peanuts. He wrapped the phone in whatever toilet paper was left on the roll and busted out nearly knocking down the lavatory door. This was no time to wash his hands.

What followed was what felt as the longest taxi ride home. He couldn’t talk, he couldn’t breathe,  he couldn’t even ask the driver if he was busy that night. He was holding his toilet wrapped smart-phone like a stillborn baby. Was there any life in it? Could any of it be saved? He needed to Google the 5 different ways to fix your phone from water damage, but this time, it wasn’t just expensive 3G data traffic holding him back. Dear God, what had he done?


He hunched forward to the edge of the passenger seat as his heart started pounding to the rattling sound of raindrops against the car’s bonnet. Rain? Now? He was being punished, he thought. He was being punished for writing in CAPS, “YOU’RE A CHEATING WHORE” on her Wall. And now God was smiting him with butter-fingers and torrential rain   because God hates Caps-Lock.   At last, he sighed, the final left turn to his street. He hastily paid his ride with the last few coins left in his Saturday night budget, leapt out of the car and ran home to the sound of the angry driver yelling that he was 2 euros short.

To Wikihow! he roared, as he started browsing the web for solutions. But these soon left him feeling helpless and frustrated. Packets of Silica Gel seemed to be the popular choice but by now, his agitation was getting in the way of his understanding of what Silica Gel was in the first place. And where in the name of Uncle Bens Boil-in-bag was he to get rice at 2AM? His left leg began to frantically shake and the gritting of his teeth quickly overwhelmed the logic of his thoughts. He found himself abusing the Space Bar whilst typing in the same question over and over again, hoping that extra question mark would bring up different results.

Some verbal abuse was also used.

Suddenly, he lifted his head above the laptop screen and saw his bed. His eyes widened: The Pillow, he said to himself. He would place his drenched friend under his pillow and leave it there over night. He would sleep ON this pillow to that IT would soak up all the…   He would sleep on a different pillow. As he closed his eyes, he wished for the next day to turn all of today’s madness into a bad dream. First thing in the morning, he would reach for his favourite small screen as he always does. And everything would be all right. He would stroke his finger gently against its surface and it would light up in excitement. And everything would be all right. And they would both curl up under the sheets for a while, as he would read its AM Tweets.   And oh how they would giggle when he would type in something silly with his half-opened eyes and IT would Autocorrect it into something even sillier!  Everything would be all ……. Right.

But the following morning everything was NOT AT ALL right. He tucked his hand under the pillow next to him and there it was, damp   cold   lifeless   his precious! When he attempted to turn it back on, the phone started flickering for a few seconds, and then a gurgling remnant of its start-up sound and then … nothing. That was it. He was gutted. He had killed his best friend He was a MURDERER! he despaired. He had lost what had become his most loved companion. No longer could he feel its gentle vibrations in his pocket as a sign that he was needed, he was wanted. No longer could he explore the streets with it in search of that perfect shot of the oddly shaped penis awkwardly spray-painted onto a large sexually charged poster. No longer could he share the toilet humour scribbled on the walls of public bathrooms, you know, like the mysterious adventures of the guy named Phil   who had apparently invented Michael Jackson and who also didn’t believe in Germany   or the true to heart confessions from the open-minded rocker whose life was Death Metal but who also loved Madonna.


No…   that was now a thing of the past. The phone’s delicate insides now lay fried in the palm of his hand, and he felt as though all was lost. Nothing could bring the little guy back. His limbs felt numb and his stomach was in knots. His entire body was convulsing yet he was unable to move. He wanted to lie there and die right then. The loss of a loved one does that to you. Of course, the bottle of wine, three Jaegerbombs and nine beers might have also had something to do with it.

And suddenly, as his body was sinking deeper and deeper into the mattress of misery, a cathartic wave of calmness overcame his entire being: he remembered he was insured.

The GetGlue Amplification

You know what the first signs of an addiction is? Denial. But, thankfully for me, I don’t have one.

Had recently discovered this new app just a few months ago. I’m actually not quite sure how. I think it was via a friend’s update on Facebook, notifying me that he won a sticker for some up-coming TV series. I’ve just been reminded that it was my friend Sean Nicholls who introduced me to the app. I’ve also been notified that as an apprentice in the arts of GetGluing, I’ve surpassed my master! That, however does not change the fact that  I initially thought to myself “That’s kind of.. lame” and was intrigued at the same time. Why in the world would you want to get a virtual sticker for something, and more importantly, where from? I needed to know. So letting my curiosity get the better of me I logged onto GetGlue and downloaded their mobile app.  I kept thinking just how childish this all is while getting random flashbacks of myself as a child collecting Koukouroukou and Sailor Moon stickers (because I was very popular as a kid).

Only took about 15 months and about a billion doubles...
Yep.. popular kid!

It’s obvious GetGlue builds its user-base through the most primeval of human behaviours: response to rewards. Having this in mind, I tried to keep away as much as I could. I needed to keep my obsessive compulsive impulses under control. It was all in good fun, I thought. I was going to brag I’m an avid movie goer and a fan of television alike.  Naturally, as any socialmedialite, I synced my GetGlue app with my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I was going to let everyone know!

And yes, it was fun .. for a while. I kept getting a boost every time I would unlock a movie sticker in its Opening Week. I loved how I was sometimes the first to unlock another sticker via a so called “code-word” like “I love Lafayette” for a True Blood reward. It was exciting to hunt for The Big Bang Theory stickers, I was checking in for the Elite Fan status. Books and Music were also an achievement, albeit slower because, well, books took longer to finish and the music to my taste never really had sticker rewards. But I did feel great with every new TV show I was discovering and new film I was experiencing because it was on Get Glue. Had it not been for this app, it would have probably taken longer to find out about American Horror Story, a truly wonderful TV flick done by FX. It did feel exhilarating. I was at the top of my game, checking in, liking things and leaving reviews here and there.. But then, it somewhere along the way it started taking a turn for the worst.

After finding the forum, I started cheating. No longer was I checking in for the experience, but for the sticker and yes, I’ll admit it, for the status. I was to be at the top of the Check-in list, my friends were to see that. My Facebook and Twitter pages are now soaring under the frequency of GetGlue status updates. And they know I’m cheating too. How else would I be reading 15 books and watching 24 TV shows at the same time? Unlocking Box Office stickers for 5 movies in a row and listening to 45 albums in the space of 10 minutes… If you were to believe every GetGlue update I put up there, you’d think I’ve managed to split myself into 7 different entities, and do nothing but inject myself with media day in and day out. 7 versions of me does NOT sound like fun, and neither are my updates. I’m not addicted though.

What’s my conclusion? I have no conclusion, this situation is ongoing and getting worse by the day. I now check in 3 times a day into the same shows because I want to make sure my check-ins are recorded. I check into movies that aren’t even out yet, several times a month because with each passing week they release a new sticker. I’ve seen their trailers time and time again. Books that I will probably never read, I’ve checked into and I now have their stickers. When friends get new stickers, I get updates on my phone, and then feel the need to own them too… There are TV shows that only place their stickers live during US air-times, and that means even though I would watch the actual episode later on, I need to stay up late .. sometimes past 3am, to complete my sticker collection (that only happened once, that I know of). I’m also becoming increasingly ashamed, I delete most Facebook updates on my wall, and hide most of my GetGlue tweets. But I’m not addicted though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some stickers to get.

The Google Catalyst

After a number of failed attempts to fall asleep last night after a relaxing Sunday I finally gave into my mind’s circus. No amount of tossing and turning would act as a sleeping pill so I did the next thing that felt natural to me .. I grabbed my phone and started browsing. The need to Google things had apparently suppressed any desire to count sheep. You see the seductive thing about Google is that nowadays, it finishes your sentences and thoughts, even though they are completely different than your own. Fully aware of this I began typing “why” into the search field without knowing the end of my philosophically charged question.. I felt oddly charged with anticipation. And there it was, the question Google begged me to ask was “Why the Japanese do Cosplay better?” Yes, Google, why indeed?

Pictured: Better.

Wikipedia was the first to jump at the answer to this burning question by offering me the hard facts. The term Cosplay, Wiki says, originates from the Japanese kospure ( コスプレ)  and is short for “costume play”. It is a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories that are meant to represent a fictional character or idea.  So far so good. But hold on, just because the Japanese do it doesn’t automatically mean they do it better right? Wrong! says Google as it slaps me in the face with a Kotaku article entitled “The Japanese Cosplay better than you” :

I might never be able to go to a U.S. anime convention again. The cosplayers in Japan are making fools of you people here.

So says the opinionated article. And I am now a believer, although a bit offended as I’ve not tried to cosplay outside the Halloween timeframe, when.. the whole point is look like fools, right? (Ok scary fools.) I’ve also not attempted to cosplay to the level that I’ve seen at Comic-Con. I know that article is not directed at me, but this whole search has now become way too personal not to care. I now feel that Google owes me a more reasonable explanation, it owes me more than just the random American featured on Morbid Optimism, looking pathetic in his Cloud costume from Final Fantasy VI. Maybe he was uninspired, maybe he simply wanted to look that stupid, with his yellow hair made from foamy plastic and his and his turk-pants of an eye-upsetting blue. And I’m convinced this lady didn’t even want to be Sephiroth, she probably fell asleep trying to tie her belt.. around her neck.. in an X-pattern… After browsing through the rest of the images given in that article, I conclude that not only these particular Americans don’t get Final Fantasy, but I must also remember to take my eyes out and try to wash out what they’ve just seen. Have I seen enough? I decide no. I need more than some ignorant individuals displaying what could only be losing at Truth or Dare, I need to find out why.

Skimming angrily through pages of data, I arrive at I pause for reaction. It is all explained to me in “The Bad and The Ugly of Cosplay” . It’s cathartic. I’ve finally been given a coherent and moderately convincing response to a question I didn’t ask! It is now 2am and I’m hungrily consuming information that I only partly requested. I am now given the mantra of proper cosplay, carefully constructed around Sean Connery’s Zardoz (you heard me!):

1. The real Zardoz had no love handles.

2. The real Zardoz never had to suck in his gut. This other guy in a Zardoz costume does, yet he still disgusts you.

3. Also, you can’t tell if he’s sucking it in.

4. The real Zardoz’s meager little costume was at no time concealed by parts of his body hanging over it.

5. The real Zardoz was filmed in the mid-seventies, and this isn’t the past.

Pictured: The Real ZARDOZ..

The sixth and final rule in this article is in italics: Only those who have been deemed the sexiest man alive, deservedly or not, have enough creed to use up on a costume like this.  It’s all clear to me now: even Sean Connery, who was deemed the sexiest man alive in 1989, can look incredibly stupid. He is not Japanese.

I now fear that my midnight exploration can take a turn for the worse, and delving into garish images of Cosplay gone wrong seems imminent. I now must put my phone away.. but not before a cheeky trip to eBay where I add a female Ezio Costume to my watchlist.

Just in case...