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February 28, 2007

Unpaid Intern Erin's Introductory Guide to the Belfast Film Festival

Still from the Magic Flute, Keneth Branagh
What better way is there to introduce the local celebration of films encompassing such diverse themes as human rights, societies in transition, same sex relationships, and policing, than to send scantily-clad, barely post-pubescent girls around the room serving media types and party crashers whiskey sours at noon?  While I’m sure the good folks at the Belfast Film Festival didn’t dress the young ladies, kudos to them for choosing a PR firm that provided an excuse to get a buzz before lunch.  I am firmly convinced that one could spend a very enjoyable, if not lucrative, life simply figuring out when and where events are being launched and crash the party.  You might have to settle for never having any food that doesn’t involve a tooth-pick but small price to pay for your fill of glossy pamphlets and free wine. 

The continuous cycle of festivals in Northern Ireland rotated to film as the 7th annual Belfast Film Festival introduced this year’s programme (and their corporate sponsor, Jameson) Tuesday at the Black Box.  The festival will run from March 22 until April 1.   I really enjoyed last year’s film festival for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I got to meet Jett when we walked out of the same horrible movie.  Now, that might not be the greatest commercial for the festival but I will say that I saw a lot of movies during that time and Three Needles was the only one that I walked out of.  In fact, the film that followed Three Needles also sported the word “three” in the title and was one of the best films of the year.  Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Tommy Lee Jones’ first foray into directing, took place in the borderlands between both the United States and Mexico and between life and death, empathetically telling the story of those who dwell in these shadowy spaces.   I absolutely loved the film, and since we had time for a nice dinner due to the unexpected brevity of the previous film, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the movie on a full stomach.

The best part of the festival is its diversity of subject matter and genres. For someone who studies random war zones and loves documentaries, the festival comes close to being the proverbial candy store.  Where else, in Northern Ireland at least, can you see a film about the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia or about Haitian gang leaders in the hell-like slum of Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil?   If you happen not to prefer to fill your time with images of violence and suffering, you could go to the drive-in to see Dirty Dancing or watch Kenneth Branagh celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth with his interpretation of The Magic Flute.  There’s also a film entirely in an Australian Aboriginal language, a film about Guatemalan prostitutes challenging policewomen to a soccer match, an entire night devoted to the films of Chevy Chase, and a variety of Japanese anime, including Paprika, a movie the festival brochure describes as “a head-on collision between Hello Kitty and Philip K. Dick.”  Now, how could you miss all of that?

There’s a lot more to the festival than that; I just chose what jumped out at me during a quick perusal of events.  I’ll be writing more about the festival throughout the month of March so stay tuned for Erin’s picks on film festival fun.  I’ll try to throw in options outside of the human rights/war zone genres for those of you interested in films with lighter subject matter.  For now, you can consult the official Film Festival web site for all you festive cinematic needs.  And all you out-of-towners, don’t forget Jett’s infamous offer of lodging.

Still from Ghosts of Cite Soleil

(Photo at top:  frame from the Magic Flute, picture above from Ghosts of Cite Soleil)


February 27, 2007


Jesus Christ hanging out with Dinosaurs

Feel like the web is just too left-leaning?  Feel Wikipedia's not fair and balanced?  Well, never fear cause now there's Conservapedia!

As someone who doesn't see themselves as 'left' or 'right' I was all hyped up to try this exciting new web resource.

But then I saw this entry:


Uh oh.

I don't care how right-wing / neo-conservative / pre-emptive attack / love Bush / hate the tree-huggers you are:

Jesus did not hang with dinosaurs.

Repeat again after me:

Jesus did not hang with dinosaurs.


The earth is not 10,000 years old.

Evolution is real.

Our planet revolves around the sun.

And, just cause you want to make the world a better place, maybe through ways not involving force, that doesn't make you a pussy.

And one more time:

Jesus did not hang with dinosaurs.

Via, the Telegraph.


Japanese Film at the Queens Film Theatre, Belfast

Still from the Japanese film Sway
The Japan Foundation, a Japanese cultural exchange group, has an interesting selection of films touring under the name of 'Move Over, Ozu'. 

What's that you say?  What interest is of that to you Dear Belfast Reader? 

Surely this fine selection of films containing such gems as 'Canary', (cult boy tries to find new home) and 'Hush', (gay couple struggles to have surrogate baby), won't ever come to cultural backwater Belfast?

Well, that's where you're wrong, cause Belfast is on the move, and thanks to the fine folks at the Queens Film Theatre, this interesting selection of films, (and I have to use that neutral word - 'interesting' - cause I haven't seen them Dear Reader), is coming to Northern Ireland.

From this Friday, March 2nd, till Wednesday, March 11th the QFT will be showing all 6 films from the programme.  For film times go here:

Queens Film Theatre

or call 028 90971097

I'm going to do my best to go to a couple of these, (overcoming my fear of any place that comes with such a dreadful catch phrase as: "Don't Just See It - QFT It!"), if you see me come over and say hi.

Still from the Japanese Film Hush


February 26, 2007

Irish Podcast Oldbones Keeps Level of Quality High

Man walking in Belfast
As you may know Dear Listener we love the 'Oldbones Podcast' here at LTA.  Well, there's a new episode up.  Well worth a listen:

The Telephone

(Photo taken this weekend by Jett who wandered lost for quite some time).


February 24, 2007

Letter to America - The Irish Podcast - Chapter 58 - Goodbye Margarita Plaza

Goodbye Margarita Plaza
Wow, it's the End of an Era with Letter to America - Chapter 58 - Goodbye Margarita Plaza!

In which host Jett Loe shops at the DEA store, Wayne Van Ry is apologised to, Unpaid Intern Erin makes a cameo appearance, we accuse old friend Conn of hiding behind an anonymizer, the Irish Blog Awards are touted, Oldbones rocks, Damien Mulley is discussed, Randy Newman is a little down and Captain Planet saves the day. 

All this and more on your "On To The Peace Wall" Irish Podcast.

Link to the World Criminal Non-Commercial Archive


February 23, 2007

Unpaid Intern Erin's Guide to Events This Week in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Future Shorts February Flyer
Hi guys.  This is Erin, the unpaid intern here.  Inspired by the crushed velveteen self-portrait of Jett as a sad clown (which even sports a bit of bling with a solitary cubic zirconium tear frozen on his cheek) that now adorns the wall of his new flophouse, I thought I might partake in a little self-indulgent whining regarding the fact that no one cares about my pithy and informative postings on what to do in Belfast.  And then, I thought better of it.  So, while I can’t vouch for the substantive quality of all of these events, this is what sparkled in a quick perusal of what’s on in Belfast this week.

Friday, February 23.  Lyric Theatre.  This weekend is your last chance to watch this creative cross-dressing interpretation of the Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.  The all-male cast camps it up in costume jewelry and cloaks, offering a fascinating portray of gender roles and repressed sexuality in 16th century Sicily.

Queens Film Theatre.   QFT kicks off its “Stella Artois Oscars Fever” season, which runs from Friday the 23rd until Thursday, March 22nd with Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima.  The film, nominated for four Oscars, is on at 6:30 and 9:30.

The Front Page.  Winning my own prize for the most cryptic suggestion of the week, I saw a flyer with an abstract picture of a fish advertising something that looked intriguing at the Front Page on Friday the 23rd.  I don’t know when it starts or what it is. I can’t tell you anymore than it looked like it could be weird and wacky so if you’re looking for a surprise, go to The Front Page at an undetermined time.

Saturday, February 24.  The Empire.  I’m a sucker for both alliteration and bands that rip off 80s metal.  As I was leafing through the latest edition of Fast and Modified Magazine, the following description caught my eye: “Not many bands deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as the mighty Guns and Roses and AC/DD, never mind be compared to them, but Rattlesnake Remedy certainly do.”  With the Fast and Modified seal of approval, there’s no excuse to not check out Rattlesnake Remedy at the Empire.  Doors open at 8:30.

Sunday, February 25.  The Black Box.  While I mentioned this show in the last entry, this man deserves the repetition.  You may have heard his work on Scrubs or been wowed by his solo acoustic album, aptly entitled Man @ Work.  That’s right, the man who comes from the land down under himself, Colin Hay at the Black Box, 8 pm.

You can enjoy the Belfast art scene on Monday and Tuesday.  The Eikon art exhibit, based on the five uplifting coordinates of Ikon—iconic, apocalyptic, heretical, emerging, and failing—is in the Gallery Space at the Waterfront Hall until Wednesday, February 28th. The portrayal of the religious landscape of Northern Ireland as a monopoly board is worth the trip alone. 

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a gay Indian man living in Europe, the photography of Sunil Gupta might shed some light on this issue and much more.  Two of his exhibitions, Homelands and Tales of a City are on display at Belfast Exposed until March 23.

Wednesday, February 28th. Northern Ireland’s own Duke Special is playing at the Ulster Hall.  If you can’t afford the fourteen pounds to hear Duke’s dulcet tones, you can saunter down to the Queens Student Union for what Eddie Mullan of Future Shorts assures us will be an evening of cutting edge entertainment.  We think that means short films but you’ll have to see for yourself to be sure.

And finally…

Thursday, March 1.  The Black Box.   Just what you needed to get your March going with a bang—a one woman show on running which tells the story of four female runners and a man who vaguely resembles Tony Soprano.   What’s not to love?    When to Run is at the Black Box sometime on Thursday.  It didn’t say when but I’m assuming it follows the open mike night entitled “Fresh Meat,” which starts at 6:30.  Why not show up early to showcase your talent?  Maybe you’ll leave inspired to either create music or run.

And that’s the week in Belfast according to Erin’s ceaseless scoring for fun to be had here in Northern Ireland.


After further research, I realized that Rattlesnake Remedy was actually here in January.  A group called The 4 of Us is at the Empire on Saturday.  This band sports neither alliteration nor a positive recommendation from Fast and Modified Magazine.  Who knows, though?  They might rock. 


February 22, 2007

The 1/2 Hour News Hour

Sunny in Belfast

Thanks to the listeners who emailed with info about 'The 1/2 News Hour:

Republicans Make Jokes - The Daily Show for conservatives shows up on YouTube

This at last is the show we first discussed here:

The America Show


Have had a look at the various clips floating around.  A couple of the jokes made me laugh, but mostly it looks pretty dire.  Have a look for yourself:

Joel Surnow's "The 1/2 Hour News Hour"

How bout that laugh track?  Maybe we can use it on the podcast.

(Photo above not relevant in any way.  Was just happy that is was sunny today for a change here in cold, wet Belfast).


Richard Dawkins Interviewed on Paula Zahn Now

Richard Dawkins Previously on LTA:

Richard Dawkins Review - New York Review of Books

Richard Dawkins on The Late Late Show - RTE

Richard Dawkins on the Panel

Richard Dawkins on Radio Ulster

Collection of Richard Dawkins Clips

More Richard Dawkins Clips

I like the contrasting styles, both in presentation and content between Dawkins and Paula Zahn; Dawkins with the posh English accent and Zahn with all the Botox Action make for a nice pair - like to see them fight supernatural crime on a weekly series - she would see God and a pattern behind all things / he would find the 'real-life' scientific, natural causes behind the events they battle. 

Anyhew, he's right about the misunderstanding of Atheists - I think they get a bad rap.  News from the States:

U.S.A.ians Would Rather Be Governed By A Homosexual Than An Atheist

Am sure many find Dawkins annoying - he can come across as a supercilious prick - but think he's alright in this clip, forthright and with out the usual condescension and patronising attitude.


February 21, 2007

Goths in Irish Podcast Action

Portrait of a builder in Belfast
Well Belfast is still 'on the move' as evidenced by all the construction taking place.  For previous shots of Belfast construction go to:

Construction in Belfast

In other wacky LTA news I suggest you visit this post:

Pray for My Immortal Soul

for further proof of 'context issues' as talked about in this upcoming podcast and in the comment section of this post.

Almost a year after the original post, Goths and their fans continue to comment and be offended by what I wrote and photographed - not realising, (cause they haven't read the other comments, nor listened to LTA or read the rest of the site), that I was joking.

Every week I get emails.

Asking why I'm such a Christian Asshole.

Guess they haven't seen this post:

Richard Dawkins Review - New York Review of Books

Don't know if it would make a difference though.  A lot of people out there just aren't that bright.

Maybe if I change my name to 'Yankee McFunster' and transmorgify Letter to America into:

'Yankee McFunster's Happy Ha Ha Hour'

people will finally get it.

Not holding my breath though.


February 19, 2007

Belfast - City of a Thousand Festivals

photo taken at Black Box in Belfast
The rebirth of Belfast apparently couldn’t be achieved without a magical grab bag of festivals.  The next six weeks offers festival-goers the option to celebrate songwriters, St. Patrick, and cinema through the diverse media of Irish reggae (in Irish), dodgeball, and documentary filmmaking.    The fact that the most established festival, Belfast Festival at Queens, is fighting for survival hasn’t stemmed the proliferation of thematic explorations of Belfast’s renaissance.

Although the financially strapped Belfast Festival has been running for forty-five years, the majority of the festival upstarts are children of the post-Good Friday Agreement era.  This week features the 3rd Annual Belfast-Nashville Songwriters’ Festival, which allegedly occurs simultaneously in Nashville.  Events begin on Wednesday, February 21st with concerts and songwriting workshops running until Sunday, February 25th as well as a photography exhibition documenting Belfast and Nashville musicians that will be on display at the Black Box until March 3rd.

When I read about this festival last year, it intrigued me, but not enough to go to any of the events.  This year, however, I will be going to the Nanci Griffith show (she’s at the Black Box on Friday and The King’s Head on Saturday.  My picks for the five-day festival would be as follows:

Wednesday, February 21st:

A Diamond from a Piece of Coal:  This is a song-writing workshop with Shay Healy at Madison’s Hotel Cellar, 59 Botanic Avenue, from 7 to 8pm.  Even though I don’t know who Shay Healy is, I really liked the peppy, inspiring copy describing the event in the festival brochure, which assures the four pound charge will offer: “A pro-active session to write a full song with whoever shows up and keep on pushing it around and refining it until it is a diamond.  The session is about learning to stretch as writers.”  Who could turn down the opportunity to leave Madison’s both literarily limber and with their very own four-carat song?

Thursday, February 22nd:

Bluegrass Legends Concert:  Lord love the luthier that created the mandolin.  I just love it.  Everything sounds better when played on a mandolin.  And then there’s the banjo.  Don’t even get me started.  The festival brochure reminds readers that the Scots-Irish settled in Appalachia and thus are responsible for bluegrass and so much more, such as Andrew Jackson.  But since he’s not showcased here, we’ll have to settle for Thursday’s homage to the Scottish influence on music with the locally-based Broken Strings Band, Scotland’s very own Rod Paterson, and 2004 winner of the Best Song in Ulster Scots at, of course, the Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival, Pauline Nelson.  Check the show out at Madison’s at 9pm.

Friday, February 23rd:

Bréag :  Although I already have tickets to Nancy Griffith on Friday, I would almost give those up to hear what reggae sounds like in the Irish language.  If you’d like to experience what is sure to be a unique musical event, check out Bréag, part of Belfast’s “small but loyal reggae scene” at the Basement of McHugh’s Bar, 29 Queens Square, at 9 pm.

Saturday, February 24th:

Lee Roy Parnell and Nanci Griffith:  Since it’s a weekend and you have plenty of time, why not pick up some slide guitar skills from Lee Roy Parnell at the Belfast Guitar Emporium from 5:30 to 6:30.  Or just say you did cause it sounds pretty cool.  If you’re still into country music, go see Nanci Griffith, one of the voices of the three sirens from O Brother Where Art Thou, at the Kings Head at 8pm.

Sunday, February 25:

Lee Roy Parnell and Colin Hay:  If you didn’t get enough of Lee Roy Parnell when he was teaching you everything he ever knew about the slide guitar in one hour, go hear him at the John Hewitt Bar, starting at 3pm.  Afterwards, you can mosey on down to the Black Box to check out the photography exhibition and find out the answer to the question that has surely been plaguing you for months, “Whatever happened to Australian recording star and former front-man for Men at Work, Colin Hay?  Ponder no longer cause he’s at the Black Box at 8 pm.  If you’re really really lucky, he might even sing “Who Can it Be Now.”

Click here to go to the Official Festival Website

(Photo above taken by Jett at the Black Box, one of the festival venues).



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