It’s half three in the damn morning and I’m going for a walk. Not too far, just down the street. I need to clear my head and my usual rhythm wasn’t working. I thought about having a couple of fingers of Jack to help me sleep and decided that it wasn’t a funny diet or the lack of morals in today’s society. Damn room was the problem. I’d been here what felt like years working this damn soul-sucking job for this damn broad.

So I bottled my courage like a good fellow, grabbed my lid and stepped out into the damn world. It was chilly but I knew it wasn’t just the weather, this city has a way of getting under your skin and it had gotten through to my damn bones.

I figured I’d walk to the park round the block, figured maybe some green grass and trees might clear my head. The streetlights cast a glow like everything was covered in yellow grease. Maybe it was, by this stage I’d drunk three mouthfuls of fire and I was breathing heavy. I couldn’t stop thinking about that damn dame. Not that fire breathing number that hired me for the job that I was ducking, nah it was my old twist who I had seen during the week with her new squeeze. That damn dame.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t notice him or maybe its cause when you’re on your fourth bullet in as many minutes you don’t see too clearly. “Gotta light pal?” he asked. “Yeah, gotta smoke?” I replied, in no mood to be talking to some bum when I was trying so hard to drink myself unconscious. “As a matter of fact I does” he said and pulled out a pack of Gitanes offering me one. I shrugged and took one. I lit up drawing the hot smoke down in one deep breath. I lit his and he sucked it hard like a lollypop, he took it out of his mouth and looked at it like it was a piece of damn art. “I always appreciate the finer things in life.” I nodded taking a drag. This whale sure looked like he did. Good shoes, sharp suit and the rings on his fingers weren’t from no colleges I know, that’s for damn sure.

“Nice night for a stroll” he said looking out down the quiet road, like he was waiting for something. “Yeah sure, I guess.” I said wanting to take my smoke and get away from this lonely old rummy. “You uh, havin’ trouble with your lady friend?” he asked grinning. “I mean why does a feller go for a walk at half three in the darn morning” he spread his fat fingers out and smiled showing teeth too white. This chuck don’t have chompers bad enough to be trusted. “I got ninety-nine problems and a damn dame ain’t one.” I said taking a shot from my buddy Jack. He laughed a wheezy laugh. “You ain’t a bad kid, here gimme that bottle.” He pointed a fat finger at me. “Lets me guess, you got problems with you job amiright?” I took my flask back and wiped the neck. “Yeah” He put his arm around my shoulder and we started walking. “Ya gotta unnerstand the financial mess our economy is in at the moment, ya see your too young to remember but when I got inta this game the streets was paved with gold” he made a sweeping gesture staring grandly down the sleeve of his white suit. “We had the world for the taking, they called it a revolution, for the first time in our history we was on toppa the world! Oh we had it all; Booze, Broads, the best smokes, the finest food. But recently we been muscled out. Oh don’t get me wrong other crews got it bad too, but we were so close to bein’ on da top, real contenders!”

I nodded not knowing what this kook was gabbing about but I kept mum figuring I’d at least get another damn smoke out of this daffy bird. “We had da world on a platter and the big guy, the number one boss in town blew it, I mean it was so sweet and he ruined it for everyone!” He shook his head. “And who’s called in to clean up his mess?!” He pounded his chest “ME!”

Somewhere a dog started barking and some schmuck shouted to shut up. “Do you know who y’er talkin’ to? I’m the boss of this town!” For a second I thought this fat guy was gonna pull a Rosco on the guy, luckily the guy shut up. “Yeah I know what your thinkin’ kid, things are sore all over. But you see I know something you don’t. You see I was waiting for a guy like you. Lost, hopeless, whatever you wanna call it. But you see I been waiting for you kid. Cos you’re the guy gonna make it right. I’m a good judge of people kid. I’m gonna give you a chance to help me fix this mess we’re in, cos I ain’t ashamed to say I can’t do this alone. So’s are you with me”

What could I damn well say? This guy was crazy, convinced he could fix the world’s problems at a snap. But hey, I been in deep water before and if the guy is talking about making some green then I’d be a schnook to turn him down. Besides he didn’t seem too bad. A little dumb sure, but what option did I have? “Sure thing mister, I’ll give you a shot but I don’t come cheap!” He smiled when I said this, his chops stretching till I thought his face would bust. “I knew you was the right kid for the job. You got the right attitude.”

He put his arm around me and offered me another smoke “So what do I call you?” I said putting in my mouth. “People call me Mr. C” We walked down the damn street to a bright sunrise. Welcome to the wonderful world a politics kid!”

by Paul Power



Having to write this first article about poker I was wondering what I should start with; there are so many things to talk about in this game so I asked people around me which are not players what they want to know concerning this popular game. How to play? How to win? How much does it cost? Where to play?

So, I should start with the fundamental question: What is poker?

The basic ingredients making this card game so attractive are luck, mathematics and money. Fame, fortune and last but not least fun, these are the motivations of all poker players. A great way to be introduced to the game is having some friends over for a poker evening, spending ridiculous amount of money while socializing; a great way to break the routine.

So I have to start with the basics; although there are as many types of games - Texas Hold’em being the most popular - as there are players, the winning hands are usually the same:

HIGH CARD is a poker hand in which no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not in sequence, and the five cards are not all the same suit. High card ranks below all other poker hands; two such hands are ranked by comparing the highest ranking card. If those are equal, then the next highest ranking card from each hand is compared, and so on until a difference is found. EX: K J 8 7 3

ONE PAIR contains two cards of the same rank, plus three other unmatched cards. Higher ranking pairs defeat lower ranking pairs; if two hands have the same pair, the non-paired cards, "the kickers", are compared in descending order to determine the winner. EX:A A K 10 5

TWO PAIR contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank (that match each other but not the first pair), plus one unmatched card. To rank two hands both containing two pairs, the higher ranking pair of each is first compared, then the highest pair wins. If both hands have the same "top pair", then the second pair of each is compared. Finally, if both hands have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner. EX: 8 83 3 A

THREE OF A KIND, also called TRIPS or SET, contains three cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards. Higher-valued three of a kind defeats lower-valued three of a kind. If two hands contain three of a kind of the same value, the kickers are compared to break the tie. EX: 8 8 8 10 A

STRAIGHT contains five cards of sequential rank but in more than one suit. Two straights are ranked by comparing the highest card of each. Two straights with the same high card are of equal value. EX: 10 9 8 7 6

FLUSH contains five cards of the same suit, not in sequential order. Between two flushes, the highest ranking card of each is compared to determine the winner. If both hands have the same highest card, then the second-highest ranking card is compared, and so on. EX:Q 10 7 6 4

FULL HOUSE contains three matching cards of one rank, and two matching cards of another rank. Between two full houses, the one with the highest ranking set of three wins otherwise if two hands have the same set of three, the hand with the higher pair wins. EX:3 3 3 6 6

FOUR OF A KIND, also known as QUADS or POKER, contains four cards of one rank, and an unmatched card of another rank. Higher ranking quads defeat lower ranking ones. EX:K K K K 9

STRAIGHT FLUSH contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit. An ace-high straight flush such as A K Q J 10 is known as a ROYAL FLUSH and is the highest ranking standard poker hand. Two such hands are compared by their highest card; since suits have no relative value. EX:Q J 10 9 8

The last word would be: gamble responsibly…


Pictures from Flickr:

Todd Klassy and Kevin Labianco.


My Czech stage

I’ll start hating this country when you leave.
I’ll hate people, alcohol and trams.
But I will love streets and squares,
Those places that were engraved with your name
And already drowned under the snow.

Today I promise to you
(you and I know that I will not fulfill it),
that you won’t find again my eyes
seized between the smoke,
zigzagging between people,
hoping that you watch to me,
watching you.

The sky dies while I wait
for the end of your hangover and I drag
mine and its corpse.
And I aspire to push the needles
in thousand different ways,
everyone but useless.
And the insipid flavor of your lack
shakes my lips like a cable
in my wet feet.
Cause you are warmth and my days
Are a telephone made frost.
There’s nothing else lately.
Just a heavy sphere in the wall
and a pebble soup in the plate.

I love your clothes
When it dress the ground of my room,
And my feet get cold and my bed
Gets smaller.
And when almost felt sleep I don’t want to sleep
But just to look at the starred sky
that is brighting in my pillow.
And with my belly turning round and my hungry eyes,
To have breakfast with the rest of your yesterday make up.
While morning pass envying my good luck.

It’s like when I walk and cross
A space that smells like you:
My life turns 180 degrees in my shoes
But air is cruel and you are not there.
And there I stand in front of someone’s back
That you are not and looking the emptiness
That my illusion of seeing you lets.

Last night I spent with you
The sun was shining and it was the noon
And my hand’s eyes looked at your body
in the nocturnal light of that mistaken time.
Drunk but all yours.
By Jacobo Polledo



I did, yesterday, and although this film had me salivating increasingly, like a fat kid at Mickey D`s, since I heard of its conception, it did not disappoint. It's a fantastic movie completely true to the graphic novel except for a few minor details, I even heard the actors were chosen for their likeness to the characters, and pure eye candy. Cool soundtrack, interesting selection and used really well. The director kind of has a hard on for slow motion (he did 300), but he manages to reign it in so it doesn't feel like you've suddenly developed preternatural awareness. Yes this is a bad thing when you try to demonstrate these new found powers once you leave the theater.

But this film was subject to the increasingly common, double edged sword of hype. It was built upon the acclaim of its parent graphic novel, which is an amazing piece of literature everyone should read, but is still a giant of a small under appreciated medium. As such a lot of people will see this that wouldn’t have otherwise, and won’t enjoy it.

I got a sense of this during the film, there was an air of restlessness about. Some people just weren’t connecting with it. The vast complicated plot spans several decades, two generations and interweaves between very differing and complex characters. Without having read the novel it would be very hard to follow and the style of the movie is not that of the ordinary superhero movie that most people will expect. The action is far less frequent and more bluntly violent when it occurs. What makes up the rest of the nearly three hours is dialogue, which is dark gritty and smothering. You have to allow yourself to be immersed in it.

I think it’s interesting to note that the cert which is 16's here in Ireland was originally 18's but reduced on appeal. It highlights that although it is darkly violent it’s not simply for violence sake. This movie claims more depth than the average hero movie, not like Dark Knight which I think just used darker lighting as far as I could tell.

I can’t end without mentioning the nudity. It’s full frontal, it’s blue and it glows. If you’ve every had a thing for smurfs this is the closest you’ll get to porn. Big Popa Smurf aka Dr. Manhattan rarely wears clothes, try not to childishly giggle.

Go see it. And buy the graphic novel, preferably before seeing the movie if you think you've got time. In fact buy everything by Alan Moore. He’s a genius. Peace out.

by Ronan O'Neill



Investing in emotions

We all have the collectors’ gene inside us. Right from when we are very young we are taught to collect, classify and order. It doesn’t matter whether it’s marbles, stamps or stickers. It’s the same with art – it’s just another way of accumulating and ordering objects. What makes it different to cars, houses or clothes is that investing in art is investing in emotions. Once you’re hooked there’s no leaving this club, of which there are very many members all over the world.Not only are there few collectors in Ireland – most of the ones there are collect acclaimed Irish artists such as James Coleman (actually exhibited in IMMA) and foreign ones like Bacon, Christo, Wesselmann and Warhol. Few of them take risks and try to invest in up-and-coming, cutting-edge artists. So with a small budget the best strategy is simple: do the opposite.

For relatively small amounts one can opt for photographs, drawings and print editions, which are more accessible formats (video has become quite expensive). If, on the contrary, you don’t want to risk yourself with young artists, it is also possible to build up an interesting collection of big names at very economic prices. Although in Ireland this is not common practice, in many countries, and in particular in the UK, multiple editions are published with sets of 300 or 400 copies by very well-known artists. In the Serpentine Gallery, London, you can find Collector Editions with 5 works of Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Tadashi Kawamata, Oliver Payne & Nick Relph, Álvaro Siza and Sarah Sze for £386.60 incl. VAT. In Dublin, the IMMA has limited edition prints from Franz Ackerman, Dorothy Cross, Juan Uslé and other artists in a range from 300-3,500 euro.

As for storage space, there’s really nothing to worry about as photographs, drawings and print editions can be kept perfectly well in a portfolio folder, scrapbook or in a simple box in any dry corner of the house., assuming you´ve run out of wall space. If you intend to make a large investment in order to improve the corporate image of a company or create a foundation, you should take a look at the list of the top artists on Artfacts.net. These are consolidated artists, whose value increases constantly.

  1. Only buy what you like (even if it is an investment) as you are going to have to live with it.
  2. Educate your eye by visiting galleries, museums, and travelling. You have to keep up on what is going on. It only takes two hours a week. On Thursdays there are openings in galleries. Here you can meet the artists and enjoy a cocktail with people who have the same interests as yourself.
  3. Take the plunge and buy works by unknown artists (even though they are not yet linked to an important gallery. This is where real surprises can be had in the future and it is the true test of the collector).
  4. Establish a maximum price per work (if it is a series of works, you can increase the price a little).
  5. Be patient, do some research. Keep up to date by reading specialist magazines such as Art Forum, Tema Celeste, Art in America, Circa or Frieze. If you are interested in knowing what is on offer in the Secondary Market browse through auction house catalogues (the most important ones take place in London and New York at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, respectively).
  6. Don’t buy a single work (it is preferable to buy several works as a single one says nothing of its author. And in the case of a series of photos it is also better to buy the whole series, even though they are smaller, than to buy just 2 in a larger size).
  7. Become international (you can do this by travelling to young art fairs such as Volta Show and Liste in Basel, art forum in Berlin or the Zoo and Frieze Art Fair in London where there are possibilities for everyone’s budget).
  8. Consult experts (not just gallery owners, you can also work with young curators or art critics who are up-to-date and can inform you on what is going on).
  9. Specialize and collect by genre (portraits, still life, landscape…) or based on other themes such as fashion, consumerism, speed, anxiety or whatever interests you most.
  10. Don’t worry about space. You’ll find a way to store the art works.

By M.Mínguez
Photo: F.Otero Perandones



“Playing with The Chieftains has been like being in the Paradise”

Carlos Nuñez, born in Galicia, one of the Celtic places in Spain apart from Asturias, is a charismatic piper who plays the tradicional “gaita” (bagpipes) from this Spanish place.

He started playing when he was a child, and by that time he already was a remarkable master player always influenced by “the traditional, classic and medieval music”.

He represented Galicia in the Lorient Festival in the French Britanny. This festival is the biggest cultural manifestation of the Celtic Countries. Every year, there is a contest between pipers which is the equivalent of the Nobel Prizes of the bagpipes, “the Mcallan Contest”. Carlos won it three times in a row: “For me it was something like the Olimpic Games of the bagpipes. I was the whole year preparing the contest, the music, the technique, practicing some sports, but nothing of girls! I never opened all the whisky bottles I got as a prize, ha ha…”

After that, he started his internacional career meeting the Chieftains: “Playing with the Chieftains since I was eighteen years old has been like being in the paradise too soon. I think I have never felt nothing like playing and recording with them”. But this was only the beggining, because he continued playing with hundred of musicians from all over the world like Alan Stivel, Sharon Shannon, Dulce Pontes, Roger Hodgson, Altan… When we asked him which of those masters have marked him more, he says that “It is true that I have predilection for the mature artists, the Picassos of the music. Compay Segundo, Ry Cooder, Montserrat Caballé, some of the flamenco, jazz and tradicional music masters have been the highlights of my colaborations”.

He is one the most known “ambassadors” from his place, showing its culture and roots to all the world: “I feel like very beloved by my fans, and it is true that in Galicia they are a lot. In the live concert DVD we recorded in Vigo, 30,000 people came to the venue. This would not seem very normal for this kind music, the Celtic music, but it is true that it is a sort of reward to all the hard work of showing this music to everyone and expand its language thanks to its natural connections with the different musics from all the world”.

Something he have experienced during all his trips is that “in many countries, different people and different bands are thinking and playing with the same ideas without knowing each other. But it is true that the place where I have noticed a bigger enthusiasm for the birth of a new synthesis is Latin America. There are a lot of bagpipes bands and bands from Buenos Aires to La Habana or Mexico which are aware of the treasure they have in their hands, and all the excitement they have for the life”.

When Carlos is not playing his “gaita”, he likes listening to some music, the last album he got is the reedition of “Sketches of Spain”, for Miles Davis; and he says that “in my MP3 player I have thousands of musics from Brazil. From old recordings of 1904 to nowadays music, as I have been travelling Brazil during almost two years. I am ending my new album, which is the result of those Brasilian musical explorations, where I have found a kind of future Celtic music, because the hability of how this country has mixed the European Medieval heritage with the African and the Indigenuos”.

This year, Carlos is playing in Saint Patrick´s Festival in Dublin: “Some years ago I used to celebrate Saint Patrick with The Chieftains in the Carnegie Hall of New York, but lately it seems that the shock wave has come back to its origins, and now we celebrate it in Dublin. Here is different, it is not as spectacular as in New York, but it is deeper. I feel like at home. Even the Irish Prime Minister attends to my concerts! That is something that never happened to me in Spain”.

The concert will be next Sunday the 15th in the Nacional Concert Hall: “We are going to mix the simphony orchestra with the tradicional Celtic music instruments. It will be a musical trip through worlds so different as the music of the contemporary Ireland, Galicia, Cuba, flamenco… We will listen, also, some original film soundtracks in which I have collaborated , such as the Spanish movie “The Sea Inside” (Oscar winner in 2004) and the Japanesse “Gedo Senki” of the master Miyasaki. Some collaborations with Ruichi Sakamoto, with the Chieftains, and of course classic music inspired in the traditional one, as the very difficult “Muineira de Sarasate” which I have been maturing and working during the last twenty years till we are going to play it live. Moreover, along with the orchestra, my whole band will be playing, including the new revelation of the Irish Music Niamh ni Charra who has been playing with us all around the world during the last two years”.

15 March 2009 08:00 PM - Main Auditorium
Carlos Nuñez Orchestra of the National Concert Hall


By Xandru Fernández
Photos : Alexandre Moulard