Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be in my day

It didn’t predict that, a quarter of a century hence, we’d be so pathetically in thrall to nostalgia that we’d redefine a chaotic placeholder as some sort of beloved masterpiece. Like those civil rights activists who bravely defied the racist bus authority in Birmingham, Alabama. The film got iffy reviews and tanked at the box office. It was boring. We simply can’t trust ourselves to responsibly assess the popular culture we sucked in as children. The Goonies was a turgid, derivative bore that struggled to justify its far from enormous running time. Okay, even the biggest fans of Baywatch – even Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff, I’m betting – accept that cheese and camp were part of that show’s appeal. The original Jumanji was completely terrible. The good news is that, if your petition fails to sway Sony Pictures, N_e_g_a_n is arranging a boycott. Labyrinth was useless and David Bowie was appalling in it: Widow Twankey attempting an impersonation of Kajagoogoo. I’ll tell you one thing Back to the Future didn’t predict. The suggestion that Jumanji – a crackpot 1995 family fantasy starring the late Robin Williams at his most agitated – is a “timeless classic” would be funny if that suggestion hadn’t depressed me by planting Jumanji in my brain. After all, Stranger Things was reasonably diverting. You tell them, cweier. Back to the Future II was the one where, in state of panic between the excellent opening episode and the perfectly satisfactory last part, Robert Zemeckis throws everything at the screen and prays that it sticks. God forbid the reboot should have a “substandard script”. It hardly needs to be said that a fair few remakes are moving inexorably towards cinemas. Let us sample some of the comments at the Internet Movie Database. Then there were the continuing tributes to The Goonies. Remembering Bowie for Labyrinth is akin to remembering Brad Pitt for that notorious early Pringle’s commercial. Somebody called “cweier” is setting up a petition to have the production halted. It was lazy. “They’re so desperate to make more money that they remake true beauty of the cinema and timeless classics,” muffinsmom-86558 writes. George Lucas, born in the 1940s, made Star Wars under the influence of the original Flash Gordon and it was unforgivably atrocious. Mr Dwayne Johnson (for it is he) will be appearing in retreads of the TV series Baywatch and the film Jumanji. And, …

Geomantic review: poetry to the power of nine

Geomantic (Dedalus, €12.50), the back-cover blurb tells us, refers to “a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand.” If “divination” suggests a prophetic tone, that note is one Meehan’s readers will recognise from some of her best-known poems; the “tossed handfuls”, though, suggest a random patterning, which would not quite describe this book. At times she simply steps back and looks at the gliding form she is making, has made: “The frail glider suddenly mythic / is stopped a moment as if to prove / the craft is lighter than the learning.” (The Last Lesson) As if conscious of the technical challenge she has set herself, Meehan meditates on her craft, one poem comparing it to a grandmother’s quilt, “nine squares / by nine squares, blue on green dots, stripes, bows / alternate with gold on red chevrons” – an image the poet then sets aside, because perhaps the whole point of the quilt (and this form) is that it enables the speaker to glance up and see, in the second half of the poem, “a roundy window / my own full moon” (The Quilt). The January Bee notices: “I would have missed him only I stopped / mid-argument to watch the moonrise / over the wet roofs of the suburbs.” ADVERTISEMENT John McAuliffe’s fourth book is The Way In (Gallery, 2015). Geomantic takes its place alongside similarly formalist work by Ciaran Carson, Eavan Boland, Paul Muldoon and others, bending its material to fit the poet’s chosen stanza shapes (and offering a counterpoint to the more loose-weave book-length sequences of predecessors such as Anthony Cronin and John Montague). This is as clear in the way her poems think historically as in her sense of our current environment. Her other gifts, for narrative and transformations, are less evident in this book’s nine-line poems: there just isn’t room for her characteristic storytelling and, while she borrows some of the twists and turns she has used in her previous books’ sonnets, the poems can feel foreshortened, especially as there is rarely space to include the quickening impact of metaphor to extend and reimagine their scenes. Gliding form Meehan’s book collects almost a decade’s worth of poems, each of which is written in a form of her own devising: every line of the book is nine-syllables long, each poem is …

‘We can’t keep funding productions and not the time for their development’

(Blue Raincoat’s production, a wordless physical performance incorporating models, puppetry and projections, was developed by the company with the dramaturge Jocelyn Clarke. “We can’t just keep funding productions and not the time for their conception and development,” Daly says. (The Show in a Bag programme, a joint initiative of the Irish Theatre Institute, Fishamble and the Tiger Dublin Fringe, is nominated for propelling new work onwards.) “We saw an awful lot of very, very good theatre, just below the level of nomination,” Grene says. Although Marty Rea and Rory Nolan are nominated for their roles in Druid’s phenomenal staging of Waiting for Godot, those performances, the judges recognise, are almost inextricable from those of their costars, Aaron Monaghan and Garrett Lombard. ) “It seems to us representative of some of the best new work which is created by an ensemble and in this case doesn’t have a script.” Indeed, if the judges could introduce a new category it would be for best ensemble. Tickets from nch.ie “Excellent work and excellent collaborations don’t come out of short-term engagements.” In other places, though, it seems you just can’t argue with talent. That’s a consequence, the judges suggest, of ad-hoc funding policies versus artistic longevity. “I thought that the total conception of that production, in terms of music and dance and script, lifted it completely.” Seeing this much work will inevitably bring disappointments, too, but what most stung the judges was to find work of a grand scale, piled with talent and resources, suffer from ultimately poor execution, while promising work of more modest scale rarely progressed beyond short runs. “It’s a measure of how good Irish theatre is in depth.” ADVERTISEMENT Overall it is a shortlist dominated by the very well established: an unusually high proportion of nominees this year are previous winners. “We wanted to put down a marker specifically with nominating Shackleton, which does not have an author,” Grene says. Between Godot and The Beauty Queen of Leenane Druid features across the board, with Marie Mullen and Aisling O’Sullivan both up for best actress for their mother-and- daughter roles in the latter and Garry Hynes nominated for directing both, wildly dissimilar productions. Artists dependent on the vagaries of project funding – the only game in town for most – cannot plan as far in advance as regularly funded organisations, while ideas and collaborations take time to mature. “I have to …

How an Irish prison break ended with the walls of a Sydney shopping centre

Realising that there were few soldiers stationed there, he began to plan an uprising. This part of Sydney is not known as “the Hills district” for nothing. One of the biggest problems faced by the early inhabitants of New South Wales was starvation, so government farms were established in outlying areas, including Castle Hill, an area of gentle slopes and fertile meadows 30km west of Sydney Town. Cunningham was hanged along with eight others, their bodies left in chains for several weeks as a mark of infamy. But that long, long inscription, silently snaking its way around the interior of a bustling cosmopolitan shopping centre, telling a story from a savage past, has to be one of the eeriest Irish connections anywhere in the world. By midnight the alarm had been given in Sydney, and a Maj George Johnston was despatched to sort out the trouble. On the evening of Sunday March 4th, 1804, as darkness fell on Castle Hill, Cunningham and his band of rebels lit fires and raided nearby houses, searching for weapons. “What are you having for lunch today, Zara?” My two-year-old granddaughter beams. Uprising In 1800 a Kerryman named Philip Cunningham arrived on a ship crammed with United Irishmen who had been sentenced to transportation for their role in the 1798 rebellion and its aftermath. Some of the rebels were killed; many scattered, only to be gathered up and severely flogged. All around the atrium of the building runs a decorative inscription, the first sentence of which reads: “The Castle Hill Rebellion of 1804, a key event in Australia’s Convict history, saw about 200 mostly Irish convicts from Castle Hill Government Farm unsuccessfully attempt to escape from the Colony.” There was no sushi in those days. “Sushi!” she declares, getting stuck into her raw-fish equivalent of a babycino: slices of cucumber encased in rice and rolled in seaweed. Even now some people still refer to the Castle Hill rebellion as “the battle of Vinegar Hill” – which, of course, is a different hill altogether. Debate Where, exactly, all this took place has been a source of much debate. The Castle Towers shopping centre in Sydney’s western suburbs is always a busy place – think Dundrum on a Saturday afternoon just before Christmas. A qualified stonemason, he was put in charge of the building works at the Castle Hill farm. But as you wander around its shops, …

And the ‘Irish Times’ Irish Theatre Awards nominees are . . .

Best actor Mikel Murfi For his performance in Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, a Michael Keegan-Dolan, Sadler’s Wells Theatre London, Colours International Dance Festival, Theaterhaus Stuttgart, Dublin Theatre Festival, and Theatre de la Ville, Luxembourg co-production Marty Rea For his roles as Vladimir in the Druid production of Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, and as Iago in the Abbey Theatre production of Othello, by William Shakespeare Stephen Rea For his role as Eric in the Abbey Theatre and Royal Court Theatre co-production of Cyprus Avenue, by David Ireland Owen Roe For his role as Andre in the Gate Theatre production of Florian Zeller’s The Father, in a translation by Christopher Hampton Best actress Barbara Brennan For her role as Ellen in the Abbey Theatre production of Town is Dead, by Phillip McMahon, music by Raymond Scannell Caitríona Ennis For her performance in the WeGetHighOnThis Collective in association with Theatre Upstairs production of Test Dummy, by Caitríona Daly Marie Mullen For her role as Mag Folan in the Druid production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, by Martin McDonagh Aisling O’Sullivan For her role as Maureen Folan in the Druid production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, by Martin McDonagh Best supporting actor Stephen Brennan For his role as Peter Sorin in The Corn Exchange and Dublin Theatre Festival production of The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov in a new version by Michael West and Annie Ryan Brian Doherty For his role as Finbar in the Abbey Theatre’s production of The Wake, by Tom Murphy Rory Nolan For his role as Pozzo in the Druid production of Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett Daniel Reardon For his role in the Brokentalkers production of This Beach, a co-production with the Munich Kammerspiele, the Goethe-Institut Irland presented as part of EUROPOLY at Tiger Dublin Fringe ADVERTISEMENT Best supporting actress Kate Gilmore For her role as Katarina in the Abbey Theatre production of Town is Dead, by Phillip McMahon, music by Raymond Scannell Clare Monnelly For her role as Mary in the Nomad in association with Livin’ Dred Theatre Company production of Bailegangaire, by Tom Murphy Janet Moran For her role as Mrs Gogan in the Abbey Theatre production of The Plough and the Stars, by Sean O’Casey Ali White For her roles in Rough Magic Theatre Company’s production of Northern Star, by Stewart Parker Best director Grace Dyas and Barry John O’Connor For the …

In a word . . . Mary

That is the culture in our family. An old story, Irish fathers and Irish sons. One of my favourite sisters has a significant birthday tomorrow. As with so many Irish fathers, mine also believed his sons would come to nothing whereas his two daughters had wings and would soar. inaword@irishtimes.com Mary, from Old English Maria. What can you say? Both are strong women who have achieved a lot in their still (very) young lives. Well, I only have two sisters and I’m a coward. They were angelic. It is a tradition of course. ADVERTISEMENT Zero is a wonderful concept, brought to us by the Moors when they invaded Spain in medieval times. And they are, “… Daughters, on the other hand, are simply wonder-full. Before then there was no western symbol for nothing. when the wind is southerly”, to quote Hamlet. I have two favourite sisters. As any Irish father would tell you, sons are a pain in the ass. There is a zero involved with her new age which I dare not wed here to that other digit had I either the will or the courage. Now we have two: that great big 0, and me, to signify the vacant space suddenly available should I reveal my beloved sister’s age from tomorrow. Both are outstanding women in their own fields, which do not involve agriculture. Happy birthday Moll. Of unknown origin, said to mean “rebellion”. Marie, from Latin Maria, Greek Mariam, Maria, Aramaic Maryam, Hebrew Miryam, sister of Moses. In younger days it was an ambition of mine to be a playboy, though it would have been more the Hugh Hefner variety than that young man in Synge’s play who boasted of killing his father only for that to be (spoiler alert) exposed later as a sham. It might explain why, perhaps, I was always attracted to Synge’s drama The Playboy of the Western World. Both have two sons and one daughter and, let’s face it, in each instance both daughters are worth the two sons put together. Meanwhile we his sons, myself included, belonged to the pained category of “what cannot be cured must be endured”. Girls – good, boys – useless! My beloved sister whose birthday happens tomorrow is Mary, known also in the family as Moll. He had great time for his girls. It certainly was my late father’s view.

Getting an angle on the head of the Yeats family

It matches my hat.” Nora Niland had her own angle on art and on life. There is, in truth, plenty to admire. The eighth child of a family from Tuam, Co Galway, in 1945 she became the Sligo county librarian – and began what would turn out to be a lifelong quest to acquire a first-rate collection of public art for the county. The light in her eyes suggests that she would have made the perfect companion for a trip to any art gallery. Despite – or because of – this severity, his face is painted with great immediacy. ‘What do you think – should we straighten it up? She started by borrowing five paintings by Jack B Yeats to exhibit at the first Yeats summer school in 1960. The portrait is pared back to essentials of form and colour, showing the influence of abstract art on the painter while he was working in New York in 1916. By the time our photo was taken five years later, the collection was growing in leaps and bounds – helped by a generous bequest of four paintings from an American donor, James A Healy. I like it at this angle, though. Sadly she died in 1988 – but the Niland collection, which now consists of more than 300 works and is on display at the Model Arts Centre in Sligo, is always well worth a visit. ADVERTISEMENT His figure floats in front of an austere geometric background; his clothing is also austere, the jacket strikingly black even in a black-and- white photograph. He almost looks at though he might speak to Miss Niland who, dressed impeccably but somehow hurriedly – her necklace awry, her fur coat flung open, that hat shoved carelessly sideways – is holding forth on the painting with infectious enthusiasm. Our image shows Niland and Thomas MacGreevy, a founder member of the Arts Council, admiring one of those paintings, a self-portrait by the father of all the Yeatses, John Butler Yeats.

Paul Williams simmers down as Tubridy swipes at snowflakes

However, Williams, not one to pull his punches, has his own excoriating verdict. It’s a compelling discussion that shines a light on the disconnect between the host’s instinctive civility and his desire, as a natural if sometimes under-rated radio broadcaster, to add spice to proceedings. ADVERTISEMENT For one thing, Mallie – a busy man on Tuesday morning – has already suggested to Williams and co-host Colette Fitzpatrick that politicians in the Republic have no idea about the seriousness of the Northern crisis. “It sounds like I’m mocking, but I’m not,” Tubridy says, somewhat unconvincingly. The world may be transformed by Brexit and Trump, but the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing Executive prompts Sean O’Rourke, for one, to invoke the fabled spires as the North is plunged into crisis once more. (That even this bleak assessment represents a quantum leap from 20 years ago is a reminder of how bad things once were.) But he urges the Northern electorate “to move on to more moderate parties”. ADVERTISEMENT Well, almost always. Oddly, the nearest thing to a fresh voice comes from veteran activist and journalist Eamonn McCann, now a People For Profit member of the Assembly, who hopes that voters will ditch traditional tribal loyalties for a new political movement, as is happening across Europe and the US. But after listening to the predictable tit-for-tat debate between Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy and the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, Mallie’s eschewal of forensic detail is forgiven. This rare instance of optimism and compromise from Williams may not be a spur-of-the-moment outburst, as he repeats it verbatim an hour later. Not everyone seems ready to heed him, however, least of all north of the border. Having dealt with gunmen in his role as a crime reporter, he’s under no illusion about the romance of armed struggle. Journalist Eamonn Mallie ponders the issue in almost elegiac fashion, digging up old political quote about things turning to ash to emphasise the seismic effect of Sinn Féin’s decision to pull the plug. “That just sounds like good manners and politeness,” he says. Indeed, Williams appears to have toned down his propensity for kneejerk outrage in general. It’s not just O’Rourke who sounds careworn. The Northern political structure, he says, is a dysfunctional, artificial construct “with two of the most diametrically opposed parties co-existing in it in an atmosphere of mutual loathing and mistrust”. The next day, Tubridy interviews psychologist …

‘The Exorcist’ author William Peter Blatty dies at 89

Best-selling horror author King wrote on Twitter: “RIP William Peter Blatty, who wrote the great horror novel of our time. The film, starring Linda Blair, came out two years later and its box office takings topped $400 million worldwide. Writer Stephen King has led tributes to the author of The Exorcist William Peter Blatty, who has died aged 89. He also wrote and directed one of the franchise’s sequels, The Exorcist III, in 1990. The writer and filmmaker’s death was announced on Twitter on Friday by The Exorcist director William Friedkin, although Blatty died on Thursday. Blatty’s widow, Julie, said her husband died at a hospital in Maryland from a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma, according to the Associated Press. So long, Old Bill.” Friedkin’s message read: “William Peter Blatty, dear friend and brother who created The Exorcist, passed away yesterday.” British director Edgar Wright, who made such films as Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, paid tribute, writing: “Rest in peace William Peter Blatty, writer of both the peerless horror The Exorcist AND the funniest Clouseau film, A Shot In The Dark.” Film critic Mark Kermode, a prominent Exorcist fan, posted a picture of Blatty along with the final line from the novel, “In forgetting, they were trying to remember.” Jesuit school Blatty was a former Jesuit school valedictorian who conjured a tale of demonic possession and gave millions the fright of their lives with the best-selling novel The Exorcist. Press Association Blatty’s story of a 12-year-old-girl inhabited by a satanic force was published in 1971 and sold more than 10 million copies. As well as penning the novel, he also wrote the screenplay for the 1973 Oscar-winning horror film, hailed as one of the most notable in the genre’s history.

Five of the Best: Films to see on the big screen this weekend

12A cert, gen release, 112 min Tell me your nightmare”, booms a hulking Ent-alike creature at a young boy. Yet Lonergan’s third feature film is made problematic, often by its own hyper-realistic representation of despair. And it surges with great performances. The torment is palpable, the script is hard-hitting and Jennifer Lame’s editing is a marvel. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Colin Farrell 12A cert, gen release, 133 min Against the odds, Yates’s spin-off from the Harry Potter series proves to be more coherent and emotionally grounded than any of its predecessors. By day, Lee plunges blocked pipes and gives lip to tenants of the buildings he services; by night, he gets stupidly, violently drunk and picks fights with anyone unfortunate enough to look sideways in his direction. As a character study, its trajectory simply has nowhere to go. Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nathaly Thibault, Mark O’Brien 12A cert, gen release, 116 min Adams plays a linguist asked to interpret visiting aliens in a tricky, gorgeous, intellectually satisfying drama from the director of Sicario and Prisoners. DC Review/Trailer MANCHESTER BY THE SEA  ★★★★ Directed by Kenneth Lonergan. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, voice of Liam Neeson. As they progress, Arrival develops an emotional backbeat that becomes properly overwhelming in the final reel. Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges. LA LA LAND  ★★★★ Directed by Damien Chazelle. These are the film’s terms and it works within them. The puppyish Gosling is less confident with a tune, less purposeful in his hoofing, and he mimes jazz piano with only tolerable efficiency. It swells with the indulgence and the daring of youth. “And that will be your truth.” It’s just another rotten day for Conor (MacDougall), a kid struggling with an apparently incurable illness afflicting his mother (Jones), merciless schoolyard bullies, a no-nonsense granny (Weaver), and nightly visits from a scary storytelling giant (Neeson). It zips. Cert 15A, gen release, 137mins  This exquisitely mounted depiction of unbridled misery pivots around Lee Chandler (Affleck), an alcoholic janitor played by Affleck. Mayhem breaks out. Adams is committed and nuanced. It buzzes. They glide across the floor. With no real source material to fret over, the film-makers are free to make something fresh of the new film. PG cert, gen release, 128 …

Radio review: Paul Williams simmers down as Tubridy swipes at snowflakes

Journalist Eamonn Mallie ponders the issue in almost elegiac fashion, digging up old political quote about things turning to ash to emphasise the seismic effect of Sinn Féin’s decision to pull the plug. Indeed, Williams appears to have toned down his propensity for kneejerk outrage in general. “We tend to get switched off, especially when we hear Northern accents,” Williams says. But despite this “partitionist mentality”, Williams recognises the significance of what has happened. “That just sounds like good manners and politeness,” he says. To his credit, Tubridy says he belongs to “a generation in transition” who are trying to get their heads around unfamiliar notions such as gender fluidity. Not everyone agrees, judging by the number of texts mocking his guest’s stance. However, Williams, not one to pull his punches, has his own excoriating verdict. But from the evidence to hand, the probability of that happening seems like Brexit times 100, to paraphrase Trump. He conducts interviews on the Apollo House occupation in a measured fashion, asking pressing questions but avoiding antagonistic editorial asides. He opens Wednesday’s programme with a track which he announces was number one in the US 25 years ago. For some, however, the idea of watching your tongue in the presence of others seems to represent an unparalleled threat to western civilisation. ADVERTISEMENT For one thing, Mallie – a busy man on Tuesday morning – has already suggested to Williams and co-host Colette Fitzpatrick that politicians in the Republic have no idea about the seriousness of the Northern crisis. But that people can get so upset at not being free to offend others suggests that snowflake tendencies aren’t confined to the young. The golden oldie in question is Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, prompting much alarm among those of us who still think 1992 was just a couple of years ago. Tubridy, for his part, says he just wants everyone to be kind and fair to one another, a desire that veers perilously close to political correctness. (That even this bleak assessment represents a quantum leap from 20 years ago is a reminder of how bad things once were.) But he urges the Northern electorate “to move on to more moderate parties”. At least he didn’t play Teenage Kicks, which is 40 years old in 2018. Gaynor says concepts such as “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” help bring awareness about the views of others, but …

Minister announces €2 million for Irish arts in the US

Of the €1m in funding the department has allocated for promoting Irish arts in the US, the IAC will receive €200,000. The $60m (€56m) redevelopment includes a theatre twice that size, a music café, and studio space for the many classes the IAC provides. One of the productions that will receive support is Enda Walsh’s immersive theatre installation Rooms. The Minister announced her department would fund Irish visual artists exhibiting in Portland and Los Angeles, and bands performing at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Speaking at the Irish Arts Center (IAC) in Manhattan, where a major renovation is about to begin, she also detailed elements of the Government’s five-year Creative Ireland arts and culture programme to an international audience. ADVERTISEMENT Loretta Brennan Glucksman, a prominent Irish American philanthropist, told the Minister: “You are welcome here to New York any time. You don’t have to bring a million, but it would be lovely.” Barbara Jones, the Consul General of Ireland in New York, described the IAC as “a convening space for a pure expression of Irishness.” She described how, earlier in her life, she worked as a history teacher in France and found that the best way to connect foreign students to Irish history was by showing them a film of Brian Friel’s play, Philadelphia, Here I Come. The installation was first seen in Ireland at the Galway International Arts Festival between 2014 and 2016. It will take place in a garage around the corner from the IAC that will later be demolished to make way for the IAC’s expansion. It’s a taste of Ireland that most likely brings them to Ireland at some later date.” The Minister said the Creative Ireland programme grew out of the huge public engagement generated by the commemorations of the founding of the State. The Government is to give €1 million to help to renovate a leading Irish arts centre in New York, and another €1m to showcase Irish artists in the US this year. The IAC, already arguably the most important Irish cultural centre in the US, soon hopes to double its audience to about 120,000 people a year and to take some of its programmes nationwide. “For many, this is their first experience of Irish culture. Fittingly, the garage was built in 1916. “I think it’s great you can connect your new centre to this centre, which is so full …

Pendulum: where suits get spiritual

Around half of them give him a standing ovation. “How many of you have children under the age of three?” He says things such as “work is nothing but workflows aligned to relationships” but also tells moving stories about his working-class father. “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you know why,” reads the tagline for another. “Yay!” proclaim those punters who are ready to commit to audience participation. He is a big grinning presence who greets people at the entrance and seems to know all 6,500 of them. Tickets are €400 a day. I might learn something for business, but it might be about relationships or health. He talks about his “five core beliefs” and about wooing his wife. What did he want from life, she asked. There will be much audience participation. “Was that valuable?” Canfield says at the end. “Why not? Except me, because I have, as I said, a bad back and, possibly, a closed mind. He reaches down and touches his toes. I see a man called Joe Robbins tell Robin Sharma: “You changed my life.” ADVERTISEMENT I ask Robbins about it. At this point I see a similarity to the messages. “Maybe it doesn’t work for the lad who stays in bed until 10, but I get up at four.” Does he have time for the more spiritual side of the self-help movement? He shows footage of an inspirational janitor he met who “leads without a title”, but he also says: “I work with a lot of billionaires.” He lists Mark Zuckerberg alongside Picasso and Rembrandt. He recalls caddying at country clubs and tells anecdotes that conclude with toffs admiring his moxie and giving him jobs and money. ADVERTISEMENT Marc, from Amsterdam, who writes self-help books, is glad the two days cost €800. Bill Cullen shows me a picture of himself with Jack Canfield, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I explain that I have a bad back. She has experienced real poverty, so I ask how self-empowerment fits into a world of political inequality. Such thinking is useful for entrepreneurs, but it blinds privileged people to obstacles faced by others. “Don’t be telling people that!” Sheahan replies, chuckling. Six and a half thousand people will attend the summit over its two days, Sheahan says, “and 90 per cent of them are …

At the Pendulum summit, everyone’s a warrior with a rags-to-riches tale

“Why not? “How many of you have children under the age of three?” He says things such as “work is nothing but workflows aligned to relationships”, but also tells moving stories about his working-class father. He recalls golf-caddying at country clubs and tells anecdotes that conclude with toffs admiring his moxie and giving him jobs and money. “I look up there,” she says, pointing at a banner, “and I see five white men and one African-American woman… They get us to recite things: Sharma has “five devotions”, Canfield has “25 principles of success”. “Business people are getting more open about spirituality and things like this now,” says Marc. Dragons During lunch, I see well-known chief executives and four former dragons from Dragons’ Den, including one-time presidential hopeful Seán Gallagher. He reaches down and touches his toes. The grace I was allowed to grow into her is the same grace that I extend to others.” Back in the auditorium, Jack Canfield encourages the cream of Ireland’s business world to chant “success is a team sport”. In the lobby a guitarist plays Another Day in Paradise. Such thinking is useful for entrepreneurs, but it blinds privileged people to obstacles faced by others. At this point, I see a similarity to the messages. Marc, from Amsterdam, who writes self-help books, is glad the two days cost €800. All the speakers are folksy charismatics who, to be fair, encourage altruism (though personal wealth is always part of the package). .” He pauses. In 2008, his company was struggling, but Sharma’s book altered his outlook. ADVERTISEMENT “Was that valuable?” Canfield says at the end. There will be much audience participation. “I get energy from other people,” she says. Sheahan is a big grinning presence who greets people at the entrance and seems to know all 6,500 of them. I’m going to heaven when I’m 102… – are you up to the challenge?” she says. “Yay!” proclaim those punters who are ready to commit to audience participation. A Nama employee (“I’m not giving my name”) tells me that events such as this give him “an edge – if you’re willing to go with it, it rewires your brain”. “Can you do this?” he says. After Cunningham’s talk I meet Lisa Nichols, a star of The Secret and the day’s closing speaker. Daniel O’Ceallaigh, a young Kerry lawyer-turned-consultant, tells me he’s here to “network” and because he …

Radio review: Weariness creeps in as North impasse tops agenda

Indeed, Williams appears to have toned down his propensity for kneejerk outrage in general. “That just sounds like good manners and politeness,” he says. For some, however, the idea of watching your tongue in the presence of others seems to represent an unparalleled threat to western civilisation. Radio Moment of the Week: Fiachna’s middle-aged spirit With a broad taste in music as well as a deep knowledge, the personable Fiachna Ó Braonáin is always welcome as guest host on the John Creedon Show (RTÉ Radio 1, weeknights). The next day, Tubridy interviews psychologist Dr Keith Gaynor in an effort to understand this apparently hyper-sensitive generation. But as his guest explains how some conversations can trigger anxiety in people who have bad experiences of a given topic, the presenter starts imagining a scenario where clowns give offence. “We tend to get switched off, especially when we hear Northern accents,” Williams says. Not everyone agrees, judging by the number of texts mocking his guest’s stance. Gaynor says concepts such as “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” help bring awareness about the views of others, but are also alive of the excesses that have turned American campuses into semantic minefields. To his credit, Tubridy says he belongs to “a generation in transition” who are trying to get their heads around unfamiliar notions such as gender fluidity. But from the evidence to hand, the probability of that happening seems like Brexit times 100, to paraphrase Trump. At times, Mallie’s rhetorical flourishes mean that he comes across less as an analyst than a Victorian parliamentary orator. He opens Wednesday’s programme with a track which he announces was number one in the US 25 years ago. But after listening to the predictable tit-for-tat debate between Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy and the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, Mallie’s eschewal of forensic detail is forgiven. ADVERTISEMENT For one thing, Mallie – a busy man on Tuesday morning – has already suggested to Williams and co-host Colette Fitzpatrick that politicians in the Republic have no idea about the seriousness of the Northern crisis. But with Fitzpatrick acting as an effective foil, Williams has enhanced his on-air presence by rationing his indignation. Oddly, the nearest thing to a fresh voice comes from veteran activist and journalist Eamonn McCann, now a People For Profit member of the Assembly, who hopes that voters will ditch traditional tribal loyalties for a new political movement, as is …

Siobhán Bourke and Jane Daly of Irish Theatre Institute win Special Tribute award

It researches and promotes the Irish repertoire through Playography Ireland, an online searchable catalogue of new Irish writing that goes back to 1901. The judges for 2016 were Anna Walsh, director of Theatre Forum, Trinity College Dublin professor emeritus Nicholas Grene, and Ella Daly, general manager of Dublin Youth Theatre. The ITI was formerly known as Theatre Shop, from 1994 to 2006. This year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards take place on March 5th at the National Concert Hall. It is the gift of support.” The shortlist for this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards will be announced on Saturday, January 14th. It is the ultimate gift, as a writer, I can neither put a price on nor touch. Tickets are now on sale from nch.ie. It provides a range of networking, information and training programmes, based in its offices in Temple Bar. Sonya Kelly, who along with Shane O’Reilly presented last year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, says the ITI is “the ear that listens, the encouragement that says ‘do’ and the advice that says ‘don’t’. The Special Tribute award at this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards will be given to Siobhán Bourke and Jane Daly of the Irish Theatre Institute (ITI). The ITI is a resource organisation for Irish theatre. It also provides extensive programmes for supporting artists and developing work, including the Show in a Bag and Six in the Attic programmes. Siobhán Bourke is the founder and co-director of the organisation, along with Jane Daly. This is the 20th year of the awards, which celebrate and acknowledge the best in Irish theatre. Almost every Irish theatre practitioner will have used its services at some stage in their career.

Nialler9’s New Irish Music: Joe Chester, ELE, Ailbhe Reddy and Columbia Mills

Lead single Battles is a throwback rock track with shoegaze histrionics and retro synth-pop sensibilities.  Album of the week New Pope – Love Galway-based singer-songwriter David Boland released his first album as New Pope last year, a short and sweet LP called Youth. Ele a Dublin singer-songwriter profiled is one such discovery and hear her pop-fronted electronic ballad Big Song Blue at the State Faces site: https://statefaces.com/thefaces/ Video of the week Saramai – Heavenly Director: Philip Shanahan Taken from the Meath trio’s recent EP Magnetic North, Heavenly is a dynamically-reaching chamber pop song which is accompanied in visual form by footage from the band’s recent tour. Songs of the week Ailbhe Reddy – Relent The Dublin singer-songwriter kicks off the new year with a new song after two EPs and a clutch of live performances which demonstrated a rapid growth. It’s a stopgap release, rough, ready and charming in execution that arrives before another full-length Home later this year. Lead single Juliette Walking In The Rain is a song inspired by the “magic realism” of seeing French actress Juliette Binoche “walking across a deserted square in Dublin.” Alex Smyth – Weathered Alex Smyth’s guitar and electronic soundscapes got a further release in December on the Utopian Dream EP, which is well-titled, as the music is designed to lull you into a sense of calm and security within it. This year’s selection is presented in a mini-site fashion with stunning photography and an interview to go with it. Columbia Mills Named after a former ‘90s rave spot on the Dublin quays, Columbia Mills take that nostalgic forward for their debut album, later this year, which was produced by Rob Kirwan. Relent continues that step up with a song confronting a lover with a confident arrangement and a firmly-established voice. Joe Chester – Juliette Walking In The Rain The experienced Irish musician returns to his solo output after production work for other acts to release his fifth LP The Easter Vigil on February 24th. ADVERTISEMENT <a href=”http://newpope.bandcamp.com/album/love”>LOVE by New Pope</a> New artist of the week ELE Every year, State Magazine pick a selection of new Irish artists to tip for the year ahead. It’s the closest we have to the BBC Sound of Poll. A version with vocals would be welcome too. Weathered is a the highlight, a track designed to drift, or perhaps to work to. Artists selected include the previously-featured Farah …

‘You don’t need poverty to create, you need security’

“PD James and Ruth Rendell were writing into their 80s and 90s. I worry about artists in their 50s and 60s, people who have been plying their trade for years and who are still fretting and worrying. “What we are hearing from writers is that, if Words Ireland can help develop respect for writers and for what they’re doing, it could change the way in which they’re supported. It’s about making the most of what you get.” The Artists’ Exemption allows the sale of artistic works by artists, writers, composers and sculptors in the Republic of Ireland to be exempt from tax (subject to certain criteria), up to a cap of €50,000 per year. The Words Ireland Writers Series of nationwide meetings for creative writers and illustrators continues in Dublin on January 25th with a special event for illustrators, and visits Limerick in February and Dublin and Cork in March. Visual Artists Ireland goes further, suggesting in their 2016 report that primary legislation be introduced that recognises the status of the artist in Ireland. The Social, Economic, and Fiscal Status of the Visual Artist in Ireland – a 2016 report by Visual Artists Ireland – found “a steady increase in artists being required to retrain for other jobs and a lack of understanding of the professional visual artist”. Is making a living just from writing books a literary fiction? “Being an artist is never seen as a valid career choice, so the discussion is always about looking for an alternative job or form of income,” wrote another contributor. “If work hasn’t been done by somebody like Words Ireland to broaden the understanding of what is acceptable evidence, why shouldn’t a social welfare officer encourage you to go out and look for a job – any job? “Just make sure you keep your receipts.” The Irish Times Writing Lives series is an initiative of Words Ireland. Working life has changed. While this is still a pilot scheme – and it remains to be seen how it will be implemented – it is nevertheless to be welcomed. Members are also entitled to apply for a Cnuas – a five-year annuity valued (in 2015) at €17,180 per year and which is designed, its website states, to help artists “in concentrating their time and energies in the full-time pursuit of their art”. Admission is free but booking is essential. You don’t need poverty to create, …

Sky pulls episode of satrical show that cast white actor as Michael Jackson

“Unfortunately this is what my family has to deal with. “Sky Arts puts the integrity of the creative vision at the heart of all of its original commissions, and casting decisions are made within the overall diversity framework which we have set.” Fiennes has previously defended the casting, saying it had been a “wonderful challenge” to play Jackson and that people needed to remember it was in the context of satire. They worked through blood, sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. Other urban myths brought to life in the series include the moment when Muhammad Ali talked a suicidal man down off a ledge in Los Angeles, the time Bob Dylan knocked on the wrong door of a house in Crouch End, and the period when Samuel Beckett would drive a young Andre the Giant to school. ADVERTISEMENT “Sky is not in the habit of pulling programmes but we felt that this was the right decision to take,” they said. No words could express the blatant disrespect.” Sky has always been keen to emphasise Urban Myths is a comedy, and not intended as a biopic. However, in a statement Sky said that after the concerns raised by Jackson’s family, they had decided to pull the episode, but insisted it was not one “taken lightly”. Speaking to the Guardian this week, Ben Palmer, the series director, said people should not jump to conclusions and described Fiennes’s performance of Jackson as a “really sweet, nuanced, characterful performance”. Shameful portrayal.” Jackson’s nephew Taj also joined the chorus of disapproval after watching the trailer. – (Guardian Service) Palmer said while the episodes were based on a nugget of truth or rumour, they had taken “lots of poetic licence” to create the comedy. “Where is the respect? The episode had been due to air in April. Paris- Michael said : “It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother, Liz, as well. Paris-Michael Jackson, his daughter, tweeted after seeing the trailer, which shows Fiennes wearing facial prosthetics: The episode is a tongue-in-cheek dramatisation of a rumoured road trip taken by Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in 2001, after 9/11. Sky have pulled the broadcast of an episode of their satirical series Urban Myths after Michael Jackson’s children said they were sickened and offended …

Natalie Portman on Jackie O: ‘All the people in her life knew different versions of her’

Come February 28th, she may well grace the stage of the Dolby Theater – statuette in hand and, as was the case when she accepted the Academy Award for Black Swan, once again heavily pregnant – for her second Best Actress gong. “She had a persona that she presented to the public that was very different to who she really was privately. All the people in her life – her husband, her children, her best friend, her priest – all knew different versions of her.”  Assuming masks is hardly a novel skill-set – hell, even the most unsophisticated of us have a telephone voice – but Jackie Kennedy would generalise the same principles to create not just a good first impression, but an indelible political aesthetic. It helped to continuously give me new ideas. If I didn’t, I could have gone on forever.” Psyched up We should not be surprised that Portman put in the hours. Portman’s eerie echo of a carefully constructed persona has earned rave notices from critics and from fellow thesp Tom Hanks, who said at the Palm Springs International Film Festival recently: “Jackie was a mystery, an enigma… In Larraín’s film, the stunned, grief-stricken Jackie has barely clambered out of her iconic blood-splattered Chanel suit when she begins toiling over images of Lincoln’s funeral with a mind to shaping her late husband’s legacy. She had a real understanding of history and the importance of image in cementing mythology. “It was very hard to sort the quality biographies from the pulpy ones,” she says. But the industry around her remains in rude health, with new, authoritative tomes appearing annually. Before graduating from Harvard with a psychology degree in 2003, Portman worked as a research assistant on Alan Dershowitz’s Case for Israel, co-authored a study on memory called “Frontal Lobe Activation During Object Permanence” for the neuroscience journal NeuroImage, and published “A Simple Method To Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar” in the Journal of Chemical Education. But I stopped as soon as the film was over. It was all a bit of a minefield, says Portman. Her sylphic appearance and general weeness have changed little since her breakthrough teen turn in Léon (1994) and yet, paradoxically, the Oscar-winning actor has been a bona fide movie star for more than two decades. I was consistently impressed by her intellect and her wit. so Natalie Portman was …