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All Ireland Talent Show by Ann Treacy
February 22, 2010, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Last weekend, when Patrick and I were at the Dark Dining event, Lily and Kate went to see the All Ireland Talent Show. It’s a kinder, gentler American Idol. The girls got tickets through their friends Ailbhe and Cait. The show starts at 6:30 on Sunday nights. The girls had to be at the studio at 4:00 – but they had free cookies and drinks at the studio. They were surprised at how small the studio was.

Everyone was given a wristband. They got yellow bands, which meant they were in the Northern Ireland section. The contest has judges that has each selected acts from their location of origin: the North, South, East, West and Dublin. Dana is the celebrity star from the North. The girls sat right behind her and got to talk to her. They also got the host’s (Grainne Seoige) autograph for Patrick; he has a crush on her.

The audience had to practice cheering – a lot. (The girls have complained a ton about that one! Although I think they kind of enjoyed it.) I haven’t heard too much about the actual performers. I think once the show started things went very quickly. I did get texts from Lily every 10 minutes until they made every turn off their phones.

The big winners were the gymnastic team from Tuam. So the sad news was that the North didn’t win. The good news was that their dad was born in Tuam and that’s who their Irish Grandma wanted to win.

Dark Dining at the Science Gallery by Ann Treacy
February 17, 2010, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Dublin

On Valentine’s we went to our Dark Dining event at the Science Gallery. It was maybe the strangest, most anxious night I have ever had. But we really enjoyed it.

About 50 people attended the dinner. Mostly it looked like couples – not group of folks or double dates. Everyone looked nervous. We were led into the dining room in groups of 14. We were in the last group. We all got into an elevator and then we had to put on our blindfolds and we were told we couldn’t take them off until the night want done and we were back in the elevator. And the blindfolds were serious. You couldn’t see anything with them on.

So they led us into the room and set us at the table. It was terrible at first. The room seemed really loud. We didn’t know if we were next to other people or if people were seated next to us. Patrick kept pulling my chair closer to him, which really disoriented to me. Luckily the people across from us were super friendly. They had been dating for a month – and both had a great sense of humor. As we talked to them we started to relax. The wine didn’t hurt.

The first course was a slice of baguette with brie and a pear/raspberry chutney. It was good and not scary! I called the brie; Roz, our new friend, called the chutney. They don’t tell you what the food is until the end of the night, which is clearly a little sunnerving – but fun. You had to guess what it was by feeling it and then tasting it. What was fun was that the first person served a plate had the responsibility of describing the food to the others. Also we had silverware, which I tried to use, but really you end up stuffing the morsel onto the tines with your fingers. Not super classy – but fairly efficient. The only time I was bummed with this process was with dessert. Ice cream is hard to eat blind.

Occasionally there would be performance interludes. It seemed as if the musicians were playing right behind me – well as if some of them were and some were walking around playing loads of different instruments. And sometimes people would come and run your back. The first time Patrick tried to stealthily ask it that was me. But I have to image that you’re not very sneaky when blindfolded – plus the person was close enough to be touching us so probably she heard. Really working an event like this has to be as much fun as attending.

I took some pictures – with my blindfold on. I was trying to be somewhat discreet but again – tough to be discreet when you’re blindfolded. It looks as if folks caught me and posed for the picture. Our new friends took a picture of us. Really I can’t even tell you how hard it is to sit in a room when you don’t know the layout. Even though I *think* I know what room we were in, I didn’t have a feel about how many tables there were or where folks were sitting or where the kitchen was or the waiters…

I won’t go into the whole menu in detail. (You can see it here.) But I will tell you that I ate the raw oyster. I’m not lining up to eat more but I ate it! I didn’t eat the asparagus. I know loads of people love asparagus – I don’t. Usually I love seafood – but I didn’t love it as much blindfolded. I think the smell of the oyster on the plate may have just been too overwhelming. The oyster had a very strong smell of the sea. Lily and I had actually been walking on the pier and then beach that morning so it was just a little too close.

Also there are interludes of romantic facts or lore. At one time Patrick was supposed to try to hold my wrist to feel the skin, then muscle, maybe down to bone. That kind of thing just makes me giggle.

Beaches of Dublin by Ann Treacy
February 17, 2010, 11:59 am
Filed under: Dublin

Lily and I took a walk around Dun Laoghaire, Monkstown, Seapoint. We saw a rainbow, no seals, but someone swimming despite the fact that it was about 36 degrees! You can see the guy getting into the water in one picture.

We went to eat with everyone at The Pub in Monkstown, which is a great restaurant. It was Lisa’s birthday so they sent an extra dessert, which was nice.

At night Patrick and I took a walk down to the new Samuel Beckett Bridge, really we were wasting time before our super fun Dark Dining event – but the pictures were cool.

Off Plan with Gary Murphy by Ann Treacy
February 16, 2010, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Dublin

On Saturday night, we saw our friend Gary Murphy in a play at the Project Art CenterOff Plan. Off plan is an adaption of the Oresteia, a trilogy of plays about the fall of House of Atreus. I’m debating whether I try to give a Readers Digest version of the story. I guess I’ll tell what I need to – but leave the whole story at Wikipedia for those interested…

Agamemnon returns home to Clytemnestra after 10 years away at war. He is the victor, but to appease the gods he slaughtered his own daughter while out. So the wife is not so happy to see him. She’s so not happy she kills him. Cassandra is with him. You may recall Cassandra was the fortune teller whose curse was that no one believed or maybe understood her warnings until it was too late.

The play uses a lot of mixed media. The scene with Cassandra is very high tech. She seems to be very tied in with all of the technology as if she’s using the technology to speak. The stage was set where we could see half of the action as a play and half of the action we seen via video as it happened in a suburban house set on the stage. While she rules the technology we can see the filmed murder of Agamemnon.

Gary’s role is quite different from the others. He’s like the slick land developer. Most of the time he speaks, it’s in sound bites into a mini-video-camera. While the play is promoted as tying into modern Ireland and the recent fall of house of the developers, I think Gary’s character is the main tenet of that perspective. Gary is great with his dry lines – very funny at times. I thought his character was particularly effective.

The rest of the characters seem to have kept one leg in the days of Greek tragedy and a leg in a more modern time. The story goes on where Agamemnon’s son Orestes comes back and at the urging of the daughter who was left behind kills the mother and Gary’s character, the mother’s husband.

I also enjoyed the interaction between the sister (Electra) and brother (Orestes). The sister is brutal. She has been left behind to develop a real hate for the mother. The brother was sent away as is less invested in the mother’s demise. The difference in their accents is particularly effective, something that doesn’t work as well in the US. There’s a very funny but creepy scene between Orestes and his mother before she recognizes who he is.

Kate’s birthday in Bray by Ann Treacy
February 16, 2010, 11:10 am
Filed under: Bray

Kate is officially a double-digiter! She turned 10 on Friday. So we went to an arcade in Bray to celebrate. She brought a friend from school, Anna. The arcade is really the junior front for the casino. Those of you who know either grandma will not be surprised that Kate likes to gamble. (One grandma likes lottery and competition bridge; the other likes Texas Hold’em and Black Jack.)

Aine, Lisa and I walked along the beach in Bray for a while. After the arcade we had a nice Italian dinner.

The following day Patrick took the girls into town. I needed to catch up with work. They took one picture; that’s why they need me. They also got hot chocolate at Café en Seine. A fancy pub/disco at night I have to assume it’s OK for kids during the day.

Sightseeing with Lisa by Ann Treacy
February 16, 2010, 10:58 am
Filed under: Dublin

We’ve had a houseguest for a couple of weeks. She and I spent an midweek afternoon doing some sightseeing. I took some quick pictures. I took a picture of the statue of Justice at Dublin Castle. The irony of the statue is that Justice is looking in, not looking out. After Dublin Castle we went to Christchurch. The nice thing is that we got there just as they were closing so they let us sneak in for a quick peek. I took one picture from the crypt underneath the church. It’s a picture of a petrified cat and mouse. They were found in the old organ pipes. Creepy, but cool! Also I took a picture of St Anne at Christchurch. If you squint I think it looks a lot like me.

Saw a seal by Ann Treacy
February 7, 2010, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Dun Laoghaire

We went to Dun Laoghaire today – shocker. We seem to do that most Sundays. But we had a nice day. We walked down the West (aka other) Pier. Lily and I saw a seal – it seemed to look right at us. It was a pretty cold day but seeing the seal made the cold walk worth it.

After our walk we had lunch at one of our favorite Dun Laoghaire restaurants – Oliveto. I had Ox Cheeks and Thyme Risotto. It was really, really good and that’s not just the Chianti talking! We walked through the People’s Park Market and bought some fudge on the way to get to the bus .

On the way home we stopped and watched half of a rugby match. We had run into one of my walking friends (which just means someone I see and sometimes talk to on my walks around the park) and he had told us that it was a big match. The good news is that Seapoint won – which meant they won the league. The rugby fields are just across the street. Patrick and I watched the match. The girls played in the playground. (Which might make you think they’d be tired – but no one is asleep at 9:30 on a Sunday night. I think we’re still getting used to Irish time.)

I tried to use pictures today that captured everyone’s mood. (Kate is still not feeling 100 percent.)

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