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

Monthnotes for October-November 2018

Another blur of a month couple of months goes by, this time mostly busy with work, which is a good thing. You’ll never see me complaining about getting paid!

The NUJ Freelance Forum I attended in mid October reminded me that I have what the cool kids are calling a ‘portfolio career’. Which basically means I adjust my skill set to the work available. In my case — and updated since this past summer — that’s a combination of desktop publishing, blogging and CMS/social media admin, copywriting and subediting, all in different quantities and on varying schedules from day to day.

There is the benefit of some flexibility to this line of work, depending on what needs doing, and the fact that I mostly work from home. (I like it; I get a lot more done.) But that’s at the cost of security, both the ‘I know precisely what I’m getting paid this month’ kind and the kind that doesn’t really exist any more but banks and others take as a given when you’re in a conventional full-time job.

Plus, my schedule is not always my own, and the hours can be unsociable. I did say some flexibility, after all, not total. In the absence of due diligence on my part when it comes to time management, in the latter half of October that meant a few longer-than-is-sustainable days spinning a few different plates, too many of those in a row, and not enough time off to recharge. (November was much better managed on that front, even if it took me till the end of the month to write up these notes.)

When you’re freelance, or in any kind of self-employed situation, it’s usually better to have something on than not. But you still need a break so that when you are working, you’re giving it your best — and not making extra work for others. Don’t let anybody ever convince you otherwise.

Also in mid October, I went to OTT Wrestling’s Fourth Year Anniversary show at the National Stadium. This was my first time at that venue, and my second OTT show of this year, since giving them another shot back in August at ‘The Arena’ in Drimnagh (it’s a GAA club hall, but the ECW Arena was a bingo hall, after all). That was mostly because KUSHIDA — my current favourite New Japan wrestler who isn’t Jushin Thunder Liger — was on the card, but I confess I was also curious to see whether the company had cleaned up its act since the last time.

With the (occasional) move from that awful Tivoli-adjacent nightclub out to Drimnagh making their shows 16-plus instead of over-18s (and running all-ages shows up in Belfast); their new apparel deal with O’Neills; and now their stronger working relationship with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, I had a feeling OTT had at least begun to abandon that hackneyed ‘fuck PG’ image with its oh-so-edgy sexism and homophobia. And I was right, for the most part; their homegrown talent have (slightly) better gimmicks now, with less of the stereotypes, even if the wrestling still leaves some to be desired.

It’s the imports that really make their shows now, let’s be honest. And the National Stadium card was stacked with them: KUSHIDA, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, the legendary Minoru Suzuki, Tetsuya Naito and most of Los Ingobernables de Japon. Just seeing them in person made my night (and I wasn’t feeling particularly up to leaving the house that day) but they also put on a show that made the long trip home work it.

While I’m still not sold on OTT on the whole, I’ll pay attention to what surprises they might have in store for future supershows. I’m also keeping an eye on the new Dublin-based promotion Courage Wrestling that’s run two shows thus far with big names from the UK and European indie scene — and appears to have answered my call for an all-ages promotion, despite running its shows in open wastes of North Co Dublin at The Wright Venue.

With another year of Great British Bake Off done and dusted, I started jonesing for the TV quiz night I used to enjoy when we still had cable but which became too much work with a flaky VPN. Since signing up to a better service this summer, though, it’s become a bit easier to get my fix of University Challenge and Only Connect as their new seasons got under way.

If you follow my Trakt profile at all you’ll see that go through phases with what I watch, and I’m definitely in ‘cerebral quiz show’ phase right now. Give me another month and I might be deep into something completely different.

Speaking of phases, I went through a bit of a podcast drought the last few months, mostly owing to not commuting so often. I’ve got a whole list subscribed in Overcast, but haven’t had the motivation to listen. One or two I’ll stick on at night to fall asleep with. But I’ve been getting back on the saddle with The Lapsed Fan’s journey into the triumphs and tragedies of World Class Championship Wrestling.

I’d recommend it as essential listening, but… wrestling podcasts are an esoteric medium at the best of times for those outside the kayfabe bubble, and The Lapsed Fan often feels like another level beyond that. Not that it’s inaccessible as such — they actually go out of their way to contextualise everything they deep-dive — but it presupposes a base level of inside-baseball (or inside-wrestling) minutiae that needs a primer in and of itself. In which case I do have a podcast to suggest: the “educational yet silly” (their words, and mine) How2Wrestling.

Two new subscriptions recently, both music-related:

After months of threatening to do it, I finally plonked down for a digital sub to The Wire magazine, and I couldn’t be more pleased. For the price of what I’d pay (in Ireland; we have VAT on books and magazines) for about three print issues, I get a whole year’s access to the entire digital catalogue of the only periodical that really suits my musical taste: rooted in rock but dipping into avant sounds, jazz, electronic, you name it. All I need now is some time to dive in.

Diving into music is much easier: just cue up a track and listen.

I was prompted by one of those occasional emails to get a three-month deep-discount subscription to Spotify, and I’ve spent most of the first week exploring the Rush back catalogue — particularly Hemispheres, which I’ve played on repeat more times than I can count.

What a record, and especially the first half, comprising the 18-minute track ‘Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres’ which sounds years ahead of its 1978 recording date. The whole album has a sound, and a texture, way ahead of its time. I’d missed what it felt like to make a connection with an album like that.

That’s everything I can think to mention from the last two months. Anything else I’m sure I covered on Twitter. I should write stuff down more often. Also, how is there only a month left in the year?