Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


It Even Cured Me

Mike Watt hollers into the mic.

Well I did try to post a spiel about the Mike Watt show last week (honest!) but that didn’t quite work out.* So here’s one I hastily cobbled together this afternoon.
The show, in a word, was phenomenal. This is the third time I’ve seen Watt play live, but the first to see him do his own thing — and it was something I won’t forget for a while.
Watt introduced the gig as one long ‘trippy’ song, before he and his Secondmen — Raul Morales on drums and Paul Roessler (brother of Black Flag’s Kira, and a former SST-er himself) on Hammond organ — blasted into the maelstrom of his latest ‘opera’, The Secondman’s Middle Stand, playing the whole album straight through with nary a pause.
I wasn’t too familiar with the songs beforehand (the record was only recently released over here) but I think that was a bonus; the songs twisted and turned, trailing Watt’s turbulent times, and I never knew what was coming next.
The band, I must say, were flawless and clam-free. I was near stage right with an unobscured view of Watt and Raul, who were literally a blur of flailing arms and wrangled strings (you can see for yourself from the photos I took; I snapped about 50 altogether but these few are the best).
There was one slight hiccup, when the cable came out of Watt’s row of effects pedals, but a quick ‘hold on!’ and a fumble with the plugs later and they were back as if they’d never missed a beat. This band is tight.
If there was anything about the show I could fault, it was my own doing. I had been in college since 8am that morning, and was lumbering around a heavy bag, so I was pretty worn out by the time Watt and his crew hit the stage at 10:30pm. If anyone there caught me yawning, just for the record, I was tired, not bored.
Throughout the show, Watt was as humble as ever, genuinely appreciative of the packed house sweating in the back of Whelan’s (the show was barely advertised; it’s amazing what word of mouth can do).
This is a man who helped to change the face of alternative music, who was one-third of one of the greatest bands of all time (the Minutemen, if you need to be told), who’s toured the world over 40 times in the last quarter of a century — but who thrives on the love and appreciation of his audience, and never fails to reciprocate. With Watt, there really is no barrier between the music and the listener. It’s hard to fathom until you see him in person, but it’s true: he’s just a man playing his songs.
After the show the band began to pack up their things (no roadies for the Secondmen; they set up and take down their own gear) as John Coltrane’s free-form sax wailed from the PA. Watt happily greeted his fans from the edge of the stage — signing autographs, sharing jokes, even accepting a couple of gifts. I let the crowd dissipate before offering up my hand to thank him for a great performance. Watt leant over and gripped it firmly, three times, for a proper greeting. He noticed I was wearing plaid. “That’s a cool shirt!” he said, with a cheerful grin.
That’s Watt through-and-through, right there.
Now you’d think that would be the end of it. But wait! There’s more! Tonight I’m going to see this:

If you know me at all, you should know that I’m itching with excitement about seeing this movie (trailer). But what’s even more exciting is that I should be interviewing the producer, and hopefully the director, of this very film within the next couple of weeks. How sweet is that? I get to indulge my passions and be a proper journalist type person at the same time! Keep your eyes peeled for further developments next month.

* I forgot to bring earplugs on the night, so I was pretty much deaf for the subsequent two days — the last time that happened was, incidentally, the last time I saw Watt play live. Funny, that.


Scientology Losing Ground To New Fictionology

"Scientology uses strictly scientific methodologies to undo the damage done 75 million years ago by the Galactic Confederation's evil warlord Xenu--we offer our preclear followers procedures to erase overts in the reactive mind. Conversely, Fictionology is essentially just a bunch of make-believe nonsense." Oh The Onion, what would we do without you? #link


Freecell for Mac OS X [c/o Torrez]

I'll need to learn how to play this. I only know one version of patience and it's different enough from this to matter. #link


The Sea Cures Everything

In Dublin tonight? Nothing better to do? Well, you could do worse than head along to Whelan’s of Wexford St to see Mike Watt and his band crank out some of their finest econo jams:

It’s the first time I’ll be seeing Watt solo (the last two times were with J Mascis) so I’m quite looking forward to it. If I’m not too busy tomorrow I’ll try to post a spiel about the show here (and maybe some photos too).


DC Comics rebrands, messes up

I completely agree with the critics. While I can see what DC is trying to do, the new logo just comes across as so much weaker than the original; a tweaking of the original (a narrower ring around the letters, maybe) might have been a better way to go. #link


Computers Grade Students' Writing

This story is quite misleading, but it does point to a scary future where original writing may be replaced by prepared templates; where fulfilling the necesssary technical criteria is more important than the art of communication itself. #link


A Commentary on Comments [c/o Asterisk]

I've been keeping track of my own contributions to other sites for several weeks now. I don't know when I'll get around to posting them on this site, though. #link


American cinema chain to advertise 'actual' start times

Isn't this article a bit pointless? I don't see what the big deal is. When I worked for UCI it wasn't any secret that the features started 15 minutes after the billed time (that was standard; we had it on our schedules so we'd be ready for cleaning the theatres). All that 'busy moviegoers' stuff is crap, anyway: if you're so bloody busy, why are you going to the fucking movies?? And besides, hasn't anyone thought that giving an earlier time means stragglers won't interrupt the start of the movie so much? Didn't think so. #link


Block by blog

"The idea was simple. For 48 hours, I would tour Manhattan using the 'blogosphere' as my guide." #link


How the Guardian decided its leader line

What an insight, and from the editor himself. He's even got an e-mail address right there on the page. I spent ages recently searching for an e-mail address for the editor of the Daily Telegraph and do you think I could find one? Not on your nelly. #link