Tupac and Joan Baez enter Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Tributes were also paid to Chuck Berry, who died last month at age 90 and who was the first person ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and Prince, who died of an accidental painkiller overdose in April 2016. Shakur, whose songs about social and racial injustice still resonate today, was only the sixth rap act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its 30-year history. Reuters Baez enjoyed a new round of fame this week through a protest song called Nasty Man, which she wrote about US president Donald Trump. Former Journey frontman Steve Perry reunited on stage with his Don’t Stop Believin’ bandmates for the first time in 25 years at the event in New York, while Roy Wood of Electric Light Orchestra attended the ceremony 45 years after leaving the English band. Let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge, to welcome the tired and the poor.” Baez then played an acoustic version of the traditional spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, saying afterwards that she hoped the song’s band of angels were “coming… They can’t take this away from you homie,” he said, accepting the Hall of Fame statuette on Shakur’s behalf. Disco producer Nile Rodgers, the man behind 1970s hits like Le Freak and We Are Family, was presented at the ceremony with a special award for musical excellence. to carry me, you, us, even Donald Trump, home”. Late rapper Tupac Shakur and 1960s protest singer Joan Baez were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, on a night where nostalgia was mixed with calls to political action. Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording. But one of the strongest moments came from long-time activist Baez (76), who told the Hall of Fame audience: “Let us together repeal and replace brutality and make compassion a priority. Fellow rapper Snoop Dogg recalled how in the early 1990s he and Shakur were “two black boys struggling to become men. Inductees British progressive rock group Yes and Seattle-based grunge band Pearl Jam were also among the 2017 inductees, who were chosen by more than 900 voters drawn from the music industry. He’s hip-hop history. He’s American history,” Snoop said. You will always be right with us. Show business is still hostile to open sexuality Depeche …

Show business is still hostile to open sexuality

Everybody else in the building was taking the exhibits at face value. Perhaps that’s what triggered the announcement. We don’t even need to consider rumours about That Star everyone “knows” to be homosexual. “That is the minimal level of representation we should have on television and the correct response would be: ‘What took you so long?’ not ‘We’re so great.’” Maybe Manilow is a Whovian. Towards the close of our visit, we overheard an elderly couple furiously muttering about the scurrilous rumours concerning his sexuality. It’s none of our business how he goes about his lovemaking. Bits of Hollywood have advanced little further in this area than professional sport has managed. Stubbornly hostile Such attitudes are surely vanishing. You know, the sort of lies those European nincompoops in the Liberace Museum might spout. The implausibly tiny percentage of leading actors who identify as gay confirms that wariness of homophobia still abounds. There was other circumstantial evidence. A few older actors, now viewed as beyond the teen-heartthrob demographic, are also prepared to admit the truth. The singer married Garry Kief, his partner for some 40 years, at a quiet ceremony in 2014. I don’t think that younger chap in the photograph was just his chauffeur; do you? Ha, ha! The more we swaggered, the sourer the atmosphere became. There is something worth unpicking here. But the dictum that a male romantic lead should be potentially “available” to heterosexual female fans has barely relaxed since the days of Rock Hudson. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. Look at the Rolls Royce covered in diamanté. But I won’t, just yet. Even backwaters like Ireland have elected prominent gay politicians. The great man began his career accompanying Bette Midler at a gay bathhouse in New York. You are the greatest wit of the age. Then again, maybe gay people just aren’t drawn to the theatrical professions. Many character actors are proudly open about their gayness. Still, nobody knows anything. If you reacted to the news with an online post detailing sarcastic astonishment then pat yourself firmly on the back. “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The strange and depressing fact is that there are certain areas of show business that remain stubbornly hostile to openness on sexuality. Same-sex marriage is the norm in many western democracies. There was no …

The Alexandra Sequence review – giving rhyme and reason to our online lives

It snapped my proxy off and swallowed him. All we can do, he suggests, is play the parts we have assigned to us. Maybe. When I knelt my eye to the eye of the obstacle, my little self could not be seen. The grapefruit fills, as the grape foretold, with the incandescence of not going back, (Alexandra Seven) a series of images whose sense only dimly comes into view when we realise the speaker is attending a pre-natal class. Juxtapositions Time, as SF writer Ray Cummings observed, is what stops everything happening all at once, and Redmond’s use of oddly lateral juxtapositions removes time or refuses to privilege one moment over another, so that each moment seems to contain within it all that has gone before and everything that will happen in future. He teaches poetry at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing. But such a door! If we recognise this kind of overloaded, media-saturated, overlapped scene, and Redmond’s ingenuity in capturing it, we must also reckon with the fact that Redmond is feeling his way into the right form to represent this world. Instead, Redmond is interested in the way that we live now, between screens, and the book’s title sequence, which makes up two-thirds of the book, begins, “I open a window east of Microsoft Word,” and that language of online Windows, open tabs and “the backlit / pastel icons of Skype and Spotify” is key to understanding Redmond’s process. Redmond’s insight is to write the internet age and the idea of homo deus not as SF but through a poetry of predestination, whose characters only come into focus when they take on avatars, which are also traditional roles. The risky, tenuous poems of The Alexandra Sequence (Carcanet, £9.99), John Redmond’s third collection, attempt to map our modern communications onto a sort of autobiography. Another question Redmond asks is harder to answer: where do the poet and the writing fit in this world? This is most apparent in the description of a pregnancy, where images configure a strange simultaneity, although the actual body involved is hard to track down, The lemon’s nostalgia for the poppy-seed is a memory of the placenta. Addressing an ex, she writes: “Wherever you are, go / with a bride-thought haunting your shoulder, as lovely as snow” ( At a Photography Exhibition in New York Public Library). In Alexandra One, the writer …

Depeche Mode: ‘You know you’re in dangerous territory’

Depeche Mode hasn’t run smoothly; they have faced near-fatal drug abuse,  illnesses and personnel upheavals Combusting “Russia was going into the Ukraine and Crimea, and there was a whole spate of black people getting killed in America by police. It just seemed like everywhere you looked, the world was combusting.” Given that Depeche Mode’s profile rose in 1980s England against a background of IRA attacks, economic recession, racial divide and Thatcherism, why is their current response their most political? And a petty man with the nuclear codes doesn’t sound like a good combination.” Us and U2, we’re both survivors Given their political stance – which was obvious if you had spent any time absorbing songs such as Everything Counts and Pipeline – they were the wrong choice for the US far-right figurehead Richard Spencer to declare “the official band of the alt-right” in February (to which Gahan succinctly responded by calling him “a c**t”). “You know you’re in dangerous territory when you start doing social commentary, but fortunately most of the reviews we’ve seen so far have been good. Although the trio of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher are older, wiser and sober-er, they are still riding the crest since Violator delivered not only their enduring singles Enjoy the Silence and Personal Jesus, but also their consequent breakthrough in parts of the world few bands could reach. Fun fact: for the Past 30 years, each of Depeche Mode’s albums has reached the top 10 in the US. If it had been universally slated, I think we would have been quite upset.” There are easy links to be made with the album’s message and the Trump/Brexit effect, especially as both Gore and lead singer Dave Gahan are long-time US residents. “I think things were bad in the 1980s, but I wasn’t as scared as I am now,” says Gore. Let’s hope the wall doesn’t go up. But that would have required either clairvoyance or an expedited writing-recording-releasing process. Released in March, Spirit’s chart success (matched in Ireland where only Drake and Ed Sheeran kept them off the top spot) wasn’t a done deal for the trio. This unbroken record continues with Spirit, the 14th album in their 37 years together. He’s a very petty man. Nialler9’s New Irish Music: Touts, Interskalactic, Bitch Falcon & more Harry Styles: Sign of the Times shows he’s done with the fame circus I …

The world’s turmoil is down to boredom. Art can fight this

  In Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, after the two tramps have concocted another bit of business to keep themselves going, Vladimir exclaims: “That passed the time.” The gloomier Estragon counters: “It would have passed in any case.” “Yes,” rejoins Vladimir, “but not so rapidly.” The exchange is typically laconic but it captures something about the nature of art. We can be simultaneously devastated and yet, somehow, fortified. Consider a question that looms for us all in this age of robotisation: is my job safe from automation? We all know the experience of checking our watches and being horrified that only five minutes have passed in what seemed like five hours. So we get bored and boredom can be dangerous. These are the very things that machines like best. Boredom is a source of deep insecurity. If work makes you feel like a machine, a machine will take your work from you. It matters for what it does and especially what it does to our sense of time. We can even find that the things that usually make us bored – patterns, repetitions – are sources of delight and wonder. We can experience rigour and ecstasy, great discipline and great freedom at the same moment. It has to do with boredom. So being bored at work is now a very good reason for economic anxiety – it is a portent of redundancy. Art doesn’t ask us to ride on this pendulum. Contemporary culture offers false choices: immense ennui or hyped-up hysteria; ecstatic highs followed by unbearable lows; mania or depression. Passing the time will be an ever greater problem for cultures in which more and more people do not have meaningful jobs yet do not have to struggle for the basics of existence either. There used to be a natural coupling: “Safe and boring.” We used it about jobs, about people, about societies. Burning witches is much more fun than hoeing the fields; hating immigrants is much more enlivening than fussing over the details of health policy. The democratic necessity of art lies in its unique capacity to free us from the mere passage of time and to allow us the freedom to make it pass in different ways. They have many different sources, of course, but one of them is boredom.   Right now, boredom is a fundamental problem of western culture. Art exists to solve this problem, to …

Passion Project: The greatest story ever told in Ballyfermot

“So who will be involved in the drumming?” I ask. She said she had two chaps on board who were going to write it and I said, ‘if it’s going to be contemporary, you’ve got a huge field to play in because god knows what Jesus would be like if he came back today. Everywhere are the men’s own passion projects: swan-shaped flower boxes, intricate garden benches, wooden toys. “He is taking the position that the people need to trust him; that he will do the right thing.” He will be played by Dublin actor Donal O’Kelly. The Messenger is played by Roxanna Nic Liam. She shows me the Aspect Hotel in the slightly desolate Park West, where it will all begin, and the wasteland, where the homeless people’s tents will be burned. Photograph: Cyril Byrne I ask them did they hear about the bonfire part? Pupils from the local schools will be using the drums but it is the men from the Ballyfermot men’s shed who made them. You just have to get on with, as they say.” Children at St Ultan’s School, Ballyfermot rehearsing for The Passion Play. “I just feel that this could be the catalyst for something very positive.” Two weeks after the last rehearsal the actors are around a table again. After more on-stage drama in the civic centre, there’ll be a Best of D10 show with Finbar Furey and X Factor’s Mary Byrne. They’ve just come from bag-packing in Tesco to raise money for the project. There are a few wolf whistles. They’d be galloping up and swinging their swords. I’m delighted that they’ve all bought into it.” He hopes The Passion Project will provoke a conversation about the “shocking” housing crisis, and he thinks it might address part of the perceived divide between Cherry Orchard and Ballyfermot. “When we were young, Ballyfermot was rough.” She describes an afternoon in the 1970s as “like the OK Corral”. “People are working all hours to pay a mortgage so you don’t see them. “We first encounter her when she’s being evicted from a squat in an abandoned field.” She rallies the community around her and is punished. For the community Julie’s house is on the main thoroughfare and the front door is wide open. The Pony Club, Cherry Orchard Equine Centre, Ballyfermot. And they have. “Just shoot the f**ker,” one man jokes and everyone dissolves into …

Poem: Seven Sugar Cubes

Clodagh Beresford Dunne was the recipient of the 2016 Arts Council of Ireland Emerging Writer Award bursary On April 10th, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the human soul had mass and was measurable. Do you grapple with the journey home of the body of a man you have known since you were a body in your mother’s body? His findings concluded that the soul weighed 21 grams. Does the news melt into you and cool to the image of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate in the body of a plane? When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother, in a different hemisphere, in a different season, do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle, take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.

Donnybrook Magdalene laundry demolition proposal scrapped

The laundry on The Crescent in Donnybrook was run by the nuns for more than 150 years, with 100-120 women working there at any one time through most of its years of operation since 1837. The full demolition of the site, apart from the chimney, “not only removes character, but also potential diversity of use and unique sense of place”. Character In addition to the report from the city archaeologist, the council’s conservation officer, Nicki Matthews, raised concerns about the treatment of the site, which has a protected structure, a tall chimney stack used by the laundry. The Religious Sisters of Charity who ran the laundry said last month they did not have any reason to believe former residents may be buried in unmarked graves on the site. The plans, she said, did not show sufficient regard to the significance of the site, and were a “disappointing response to the architectural and historical richness of the site”. A spokeswoman for the developer said it intended to submit a new application for the site. They said they could account for the whereabouts of all those who died while working and living in Donnybrook and the death and burial records had been checked by the McAleese Commission. The Sisters of Charity also objected to the development on the grounds that it encroached on their boundary, and their privacy would be compromised. Justice for Magdalenes Research, which provides support to survivors of the institutions, said the Donnybrook laundry was the last to still contain much of its contents from when it was used as a laundry, and the State was “morally obliged” to buy the building from its owners so it could be preserved as a historical record. However, the developer, investment firm Montlake, has this week withdrawn its application to demolish the laundry and replace it with a scheme of 25 apartments. Plans to demolish the former Magdalene laundry in Donnybrook, Dublin 4, have been scrapped amid concerns about the cultural, historical and conservation significance of the site. A convent building adjoining the site, St Mary’s, is still used by the Sisters of Charity. Two women who continued to live in the institution were subsequently employed by the laundry company. A report from the Dublin city archaeologist Dr Ruth Johnson last September said there was “potential for burials being uncovered” at the site, given its history as a Magdalene laundry. Separately, the …

In a Word . . . Critic

From krites (judge) inaword@irishtimes.com When, in those later years, angry people would ask me what qualifications I had to be a critic anyhow, I’d tell them that story. More next week. My talent was already clear. But I have been a critic. In my college years in Galway I spent so much more time with the Drama Society (Dramsoc) rather than in the library. They were, he said, “like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves”. Critic, from the Latin criticus; Greek kritikos, one capable of judging. Its only appeal lay in its brevity, about 20 minutes long, and it has about as many cast, 17 if memory serves. Sadly, I’ve never been in a harem. It was an “interesting” five years. I, became a critic. I turned her down. I was theatre critic for the Irish Press newspaper from 1990 until it closed down in 1995 – an unrelated event! I am not a eunuch, though there are those long spells when I might as well be. Both would go on to conquer the known world, many times over, with the Druid theatre company which they founded. Generally, no further explanation was necessary. No less than college contemporary Garry Hynes told me I had no stage presence. Recommended. I was a mediocre director, moderately useful backstage, and most noteworthy for being disruptive at committee meetings. Auditions for Everyman took place next door to where Garry Hynes was casting her first play, Brian Friel’s The Loves of Cass Maguire. She was not suitable to be Fellowship, Cousin, Kindred, Goods, Good Deeds, Knowledge, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, any one of the Five Wits, God, Death, or Everyman. A favourite Brendan Behan quote concerns critics, of whom he was not a lover. But, my cum laude moment in the critic qualification stakes happened in my first year at then UCG, now renamed NUI Galway, when I was persuaded to co-direct that awful medieval morality dirge, Everyman. I was also eminently qualified. As for acting, I was terrible. A student who auditioned for one of the 17 roles in Everyman was another first year, Marie Mullen. To mention a few Rejected, she went next door to where Garry cast her as lead in The Loves of Cass Maguire.

Nialler9’s New Irish Music: Touts, Interskalactic, Bitch Falcon & more

<a data-cke-saved-href=”http://interskalactic.bandcamp.com/album/interskalactic” href=”http://interskalactic.bandcamp.com/album/interskalactic”>Interskalactic by Interskalactic</a> VIDEO OF THE WEEK Bitch Falcon – Syncope Video by Kate Dolan There’s a lot to be said for a music video that makes you want to join the cast of delinquents even if the gang of “stun huns” go too far in their antics and steal a dog. Joshua Burnside – Blood Drive (Ryan Vail remix) The Northern Irish singer-songwriter will release Ephrata, his album conceived and inspired by Columbia and its music. R.S.A.G. A new EP Doves & Ravens drops next Friday. Following in Sharkey and Co’s footsteps’, Derry band Touts deliver a short-sharp burst of Strummer-soundalike punk to jump around a messy bedroom and play air guitar to. Brién – Hoke From new Extended Play 061 compilation feat ten Irish nuggets of house and techno and also featuring Ejeca, Bobby Analog and Quinton Campbell, Brién’s contribution has a summer-facing jazz electronic flavour to it. Everything about this video and song is badass. Same band, same viewpoint, but evolved. On his new song, Kilkenny man Jeremy Hickey is more sonically engaging than ever, growing his palette in the process. Kennedy has been co-writing with producers Charlie Hugall, Koz and Carey Willetts and if tunes like this are on the cards, he should keep it up. NEW ARTIST OF THE WEEK Touts Pressing play on Sold Out is as close as a 21st century kid will ever get to understanding the thrill that their parents got at their age when they put the needle on the record of a 7” single from The Clash or The Undertones. Catch them at pretty much every festival going this summer. AE Mak I Walk Already in their short career, Aoife McCann and Ellie McMahon have demonstrated a flair for creativity, passion and performance on a debut EP and live shows which make considerations for things most young artists are only grappling with – costumes, dance, style and overall sound. Meet You There One of the most proficient and multitalented drummers in Ireland has never limited his skillset to the kit. RELEASE OF THE WEEK Interskalactic – Interskalactic EP It can’t be easy to get a soccer team-sized number of musicians together to play tunes, nevermind to find 11 players who want to play ska. If earlier songs were grating with their overwhelming positivity to some listeners, I Walk adds some textured maturity to things. This song has received …

No women need apply as Ivan Yates brings manly swagger to Sundays

The appealing, affable Kerr in particular gives reason for optimism. Already possessing an overwhelmingly middle-aged and male roster of weekday presenters, the station has revamped its Sunday line-up by adding Ivan Yates and Bobby Kerr, both of whom are, well, middle-aged and male. “It doesn’t bore me,” replies the host, adding that, after all, “This is called ‘Yates on Sunday’.” Therein lies the problem. (As a middle-aged male, I’m aware I may be thin ice here.) Still, it’s early days. “We are an Irish advocate,” comes the pithy rejoinder.  There are also the mandatory forays into attention-grabbing rhetoric. So, on the face of things, his return to air as the host of Yates on Sunday (Newstalk) seems like a sensible move,, if hardly a radical one. In his previous role, Yates was at his best when sparring with cohost Chris Donoghue. Yates, a former Fine Gael minister, is characteristically impatient with Fianna Fáil’s ambivalent support of the Government; Donnelly, equally characteristically, sounds patronising towards those who disagree with him: “If you don’t think it’s clear, I can explain it to you.” But, disappointingly, that’s pretty much the extent of the sparks. Not everyone on the programme is as buoyant. But the show highlights the perils of broadcasting from a windswept location. As well as being a reductive notion, this represents a missed opportunity. In fairness, the presenters in question have assets beyond their age and gender. “This is going to bore all your listeners,” he says. Yates, by and large, seems to agree with O’Leary and clearly enjoys his company, so the conversation is chummy rather than charged. There’s the odd misstep, as when Yates suggests that the Government should help put Britain’s Brexit case to the EU. Radio Moment of the Week: Tubridy’s giant glitch It’s off to the Giant’s Causeway with Ryan Tubridy (RTÉ Radio 1, weekdays), who visits Co Antrim’s natural wonder to bring us soft-focus interviews fit for a tourist brochure. As the link is re-established with Tubridy, he can be heard muttering “disaster”. (Pub bores also encounter this problem of diminishing impact.) A more collegiate atmosphere prevails during his interview with Michael O’Leary. His opening speech is obliterated by bloops and bleeps, before the sound cuts out during conversations: in the end, Aonghus McAnally has to step in to play music from a Dublin studio. “Keep it positive” is his motto. “Are we an Anglo …

A guard unlocks door on Irish Prison Service

Prison officers are non-statutory, take no oath and, according to the late judge and Inspector of Prisons Michael Reilly, are in fact civilians. You are defined by what lies within. In fact it’s called jail, gaol, place of detention, institution, Borstal. I knew the truth, that’s what mattered. How much of you do you let the staff see? After August 2007, to me it was equally important that I shed that life, examine it honestly and put my take on it. The main enterance to Mountjoy Prison. Reilly confirms in his report titled “Road Map… a way forward” that the Department of Justice more or less ran the Prison Service as an adjunct of St Stephens Green with the main task of keeping the Minister free from problems and issues. The prisoner shares time and space with you. I was surprised at the size of some of the staff. It being a very hot May Saturday – everything starts on a Saturday in the prison system – I was almost knocked out by the stink that hung in the air. It was important to remember that for the first 25 years of my life I wasn’t a prison officer. In time I learned that neither uniform nor size made the man or the woman who worked in our jails. Photograph: David Sleator My book takes us through one year. As a child my mother had brought me to the zoo. I have to say that when I read that three months ago, I was shocked. Better, how much of yourself do you expose to inmates? First impressions are lasting, they say. There I stood outside the monkey houses which also stank. I don’t act as a defender or accuser of the service I was attached to. In time I was to find out that it was as late as 1999 that the Irish Authority (intern) Prison Board was set up. My book charts my journey from the western seaboard village of Blacksod with absolutely no knowledge about prisons. Once inside, after being fitted out in a one-size-fits-all uniform and cap, we were brought into the bowels of the main jail. Cheap serge uniforms on the male staff that I encountered. Police, firemen and ambulance staff would all be seen as frontline service personnel. Inside The Monkey House is my take on the years I put into the job. “What we …

Harry Styles: Sign of the Times shows he’s done with the fame circus

He was not a pop act anymore, his collection of ironic rosary beads around his neck screamed. Modelling himself on a young Mick Jagger, his shirts started to button a little lower and the rims on his hats became a little wider. And today it lands.  He’s ready to be taken seriously.  Styles announced on March 30th (coincidentally the 30th anniversary of Prince’s album Sign o’ the Times) that he would be releasing his new single Sign of the Times. The cheeky chappy who won our hearts over with his wide grin and lust for life on The X Factor was no more. Way back in 2013, in a little indie documentary called One Direction: This Is Us, it was clear to almost everyone that Harry Styles was over this shit. He’s soaking it all in. With every One Direction solo single, we learn a little bit about the men behind the music. Or perhaps it’s a nod to his role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. In a bid to display this pain, his strained vocals swerve from gravelly to Bee Gee pitch. With Zayn Malik’s Pillowtalk, we discovered that he likes to have a lot of sex. “Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times / Welcome to the final show / I hope you’re wearing your best clothes”, goes this piano ballad, and while it’s no What Makes You Beautiful (simpler times), this is the debut single that Malik and Horan wish they could have released. Oh, he’s got them all. Emotions? With Niall Horan’s My Town, we discovered that he likes his guitar but loves Mullingar. With Harry Styles, we learn that he is done with the fame circus, while remaining very, very famous.  Just like Katy Perry, or Wokey Perry as we call her now, he is feeling the pain of the world and he needs to sing about it. Either way, we’ve got a pop star in water and he’s about to make a splash. The video for Sign of the Times is yet to be released so we cannot comment on the status of his shirt buttons, but the single artwork finds him sitting in a pool of water.

The Trip to Spain review: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon get stuck into food and death

Here in San Sebastian, dining al fresco on grilled fresh fish, Brydon already envisages mercifully executing his comrade. “How nice to hear your voice,” his wife says in this series, with no apparent irony, when he phones in the style of David Frost. And yet there is such substance in the show. In series one, Coogan imagined giving Brydon’s eulogy. Coogan is a libidinous loner with few interests beyond himself. This time, literary allusions are more muted, although Coogan is fascinated with the tragic arc of Laurie Lee’s return journey, and Brydon with the comic double act of Cervantes’s Don Quixote – their first attempt to see another country from a perspective that is not British. “It’s grotesque that we talk about death,” he says later in the series. In series two, they held skulls and quoted Hamlet. It’s why watching the show feels like such a gorgeous escape, and why, you feel, you should really be planning a holiday. Coogan’s… Who else would have them? Brydon’s Brydon, on the other hand, is too eager to impress, hiding behind so many impersonations it’s as though he alone leaves no impression. In the first two series, the pair followed the journeys of Wordsworth and Coleridge in the north of England, and Byron and Shelley in Italy, for which Winterbottom found wry (usually undercutting) parallels of creation, mortality, posterity and raging appetites. oh… But such dark undercurrents make happiness – sometimes as fleeting as “life-affirming butter” – taste all the sweeter. Between some hilarious goofing (mostly improvised; it’s a delight to see Brydon geting Coogan to crack up) and constant ribbing, they are frequently led towards mordant reflections on mortality. “Great,” he says, with light laceration when Brydon agrees yet again. The Trip to Spain (Sky Atlantic, Thursday, 10pm), the third iteration of director Michael Winterbottom’s deceptively simple comedy, is initiated, as ever, with the flimsy pretext of reviewing restaurants for a newspaper, an adventure for which Coogan needs an accomplice. But for all that sharp mimicry, the slyest impersonations that Coogan and Brydon give are of themselves: a petty narcissist and an excitable chatterbox, bickering about their careers, dining in style, consumed with death and singing all the way. Their conversation, always prickly and often hilarious, is interrupted by Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins, shouted down by an eruptive Al Pacino or a wheezy Michael Caine, moped over by Alan Bennett, …

With rue my heart is laden: a writer immortalises his dog

My Buller was small for his age when we first met, but this condition didn’t last for long. While The Barrowfields is undoubtedly a work of fiction, a few people along the way have asked me whether any of the characters in the book are based on real people, and the answer is generally no – except in the case of one remarkable dog by the name of Buller. One of his favourite things was to get a running-go and leap blindly through the shower curtain while I was taking a shower, an act that had unpredictable consequences and occasionally resulted in injuries to one or both of us. In my search for a dog, I came across an advertisement in the local paper: golden retriever puppies for sale! Here’s to my dear Buller: the always brave, the proud, my best friend; the most loving, kindest soul I’ve ever known. Lying on his side, he became catatonic, and his legs were stiff. When left alone, though, even for a moment, he became a whirling dervish of destruction, eating books, plants, legs of chairs, window sills, and literally anything within reach of his tireless golden mouth. The vet administered the life-ending concoction and he laid him down on the floor and it was over. At maturity he had a square jaw, a broad chest, and pranced about like a show horse, making him appear almost majestic – until you saw the stuffed animal he was carrying. By the time we got to the vet’s office, he had recovered. On visits home, Buller often crept off down the hill and covered himself head to toe with fresh (ie, wet) cow manure, such that he was a completely different colour and almost unrecognisable. It slowly came to me that something was horribly wrong, and that there was nothing that could be done. The Barrowfields follows the lives and tragedies of the Aster family across the decades, set in the high Appalachian mountains and the historic low country of South Carolina I had just finished reading Beryl Markham’s extraordinary book West with the Night, and thus when casting about for a possible name for my new friend, I hit upon Buller, which was the name of Beryl’s dynamic dog and cat-hunting avenger during her childhood years in east Africa. At night he’d bound up onto the bed with me and sleep with his head …

My novel’s roots? A rootless half-life roaming ghost estates

I lived a weird half-life there, mostly alone, among football fans and hen parties. Far truer to me is the idea of the reader feeling into darkness for something solid to cling onto, and being frightened by the gradual realisation that there is nothing there. Odd long evenings, nothing doing, I used borrow my mother’s Micra and spin the by-roads of Louth. One by one, they simply vanish. This seems to spook readers more than any of the strange events described. Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: an original story, brilliantly told Nothing on Earth by Conor O’Callaghan: April’s Irish Times Book Club choice I would park discreetly, squeeze through the metal barrier and drift around. Less obvious, though, is my novel’s implicit elegy for the family of four I broke up. 2010? I remember bare breeze-blocks, graffiti, ragwort and poppies in among the rubble, scraps of glass and scaffolding. I didn’t know what happens, and still don’t, and I wasn’t going to make up a resolution just to give the reader a safe landing point. The man is not me. However, it can be purchased for only €4.99 if bought with a copy of The Irish Times in any branch of Eason until April 14th. I wanted a tale that would creep the bejesus out of all who entered in. A member of my community workshop who was serving life for republican activities. I haven’t researched the statistical truth of that. Nothing on Earth is about a family of four in the show house of a never-to-be-completed development. Conor O’Callaghan in Chinatown, Manchester. All of that was invisible to me at the time. His flat had been bugged by MI5. There were moments there when I felt fear like never before or since, and legged it to the car, and sped back to a world marginally more populated. Something… The resulting story has been likened by one friend, filmmaker Eamon Little, to an episode of Father Ted directed by David Lynch. The houses feel haunted by lives that someone hoped for, but which never came to pass. There is no resolution. The man turns out to be a priest. The story draws upon trips home in those low years and cruising the ghost estates of Dundalk’s hinterland. Eileen Battersby interviews Conor O’Callaghan at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin’s Parnell Square on Wednesday, April 26th, at 7.30pm. Less obvious is …

Gael García Bernal: ‘You can’t separate art from politics’

But what I love about Pablo is that there is always something new about the angle he takes. Those are the type of films I like to watch as well.” He ought, one feels, to be self-righteous or overly-earnest. Because he’s a dangerous point of view. Gael Garcia Bernal with fellow actor and best friend Diego Luna. “Art doesn’t happen in isolation. Family, work, the interesting discussions; everything happens in Mexico. At least for me.” Neruda opens April 7th Instead he’s fantastically good fun and a gifted comic. These days, his London stopovers are a little more comfortable. It feel that people have less time to wonder than when I was a student. It’s one of the craziest experiences acting has given me. With Neruda, it would have been impossible to make a biography, because he lived many lives not one. In 2005, he and fellow-actor Diego Luna founded the Cine Ambulante project, which screens award-winning documentaries from around the world at public parks and on streets, for free. The 38-year-old has played Che twice; once in TV miniseries Fidel, and then in The Motorcycle Diaries.   Donald Clarke’s Movie Quiz: From Annie Hall to Ronnie Reagan Six of the best films to see at the cinema this weekend Neruda review: Gael García Bernal’s latest almost disappears up its own dactyl The show has been an amazing journey, he says. Diego also brought a lot of truth to the world they build. “It was great. “It was quite daunting to shake the baton for the first time.   By now, they have developed a kind of telepathy, says the actor. In 2014, he starred as the Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari in Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, and also played a shaman who takes on deforesters in the resistance drama The Burning. If there is such thing as truth in Star Wars.” Released later this year, Pixar’s Coco marks Bernal’s first proper Hollywood foray since the 2010 rom-dram Letters to Juliet. At least for me “He’s very straightforward,” says Bernal. The pair, who co-founded the production company Canana Films in 2005, have remained best pals ever since. “And when it doesn’t take a political stance, that’s a political stance, too.” Remember the Oscars? Family, work, the interesting discussions; everything happens in Mexico. “Actually, London has changed more than just my experience of living there. Every movie or piece of art takes …

Father John Misty: Microdosing on acid and melancholy

What is that? He has written songs for Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, and toured with Lana Del Ray. Then I got into the real world. The way I see myself is just as distorted as the perception. It’s humiliating.” Among women In a societal sense – given he’s still happily married to photographer Emma Elizabeth, the muse of I Love You Honeybear – Tillman seems to have a special interest in women. Pure Comedy is out on April 7th Musically, he name-checks Taylor Swift on the new album (though critiquing our culture with the lyrics “bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift” isn’t the most sensitive of moves). That’s the story of the 20th century: ingrained forms of control.” He offers eloquent, well-considered opinions about control until the “it” crowd at the bar invade. We’ll say it again: Josh Tillman is not a man you could talk to hungover. “What really rubs me the wrong way is the moment a woman enters the music industry, they’re told they can’t write their own songs. Women should not have to be thinking about whether they’re even having control over their own bodies when they’re making this decision. Tillman’s patient, but the level at which he operates means he’s not someone you could talk to hungover. From what little I’ve seen of it, I cannot believe the soft control that is evidenced.” For his own part, Tillman is well aware of the privilege afforded to him. actually, that’s not a soundbite I want,” he says, with a journalist’s radar. It’s one of those issues that really confronts the neuroses of a culture, and their ability to hold two ideas in their head at the same time: abortion can be sad but essential. “All of the nuance aside, I can only imagine how demeaning it is to have the decision made by a group of old white men. I’m more of a fan of music journalism than I am of the music that’s covered. I don’t want to talk about the way I’m perceived. And the beard is gone, replaced by a GQ moustache. “These differences we view as being so fundamental are largely semantic outside of a few major issues, which largely affect women. “But they’re told other people will write songs, and what’s the tacit message there? I have a soft spot for Interpol. Women are where the crux of …