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More Of The Same

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Trainspotting had a phenomenal effect on me when I first saw it. Being from a small town, it depicted the sadness that can hang over any small town anywhere in the world. The lifeless eyes, the shuffling to work, the gut -wrenching and soul cleansing humour, the sadness, the social life and the glibness with which death is met when it turns it’s ugly head. However that is where the familiarity ended as I was wildly unaware of the horrors of hardcore drug and substance abuse that can take hold of those, and indeed in later years our very own small town’s inhabitants. The film made me laugh, cry and staunchly opposed to injecting anything into my blood. Powerful imagery and good story telling that resonated then to a problem that was not as widespread as it is now. A sad indictment of modern society and the hopelessness that can engulf some poor soul. That being said it got me thinking of  last friday’s release of T2 Trainspotting and that much lauded and often derided creature that is the motion picture sequel.

If you think about it the sequel can be traced back to a time before movies even existed and we were rocking around with just TB, plague and the printed word for entertainment and company. And further to that point, you could say that the idea of the sequel started with the bible. Now, you couldn’t publish a sequel to the bible to be fair. Unless it featured a ninja Jesus and some dinosaurs…. That could be awesome….. That would be awesome. Take my money, just take it.

But no, serious now. Books were the first victims of the sequel. Gulliver’s Travels (written by one of our own, Jonathan Swift… Up the Parish). Now this book was written in 1726 but the publishers of the novel rushed out many sequels and follow ups in quick succession. I’ve never read them but would you want to? The disappointment possibility is just too risky and would ruin the story. Oh no wait, that was done already by Jack Black. That film was the drizzling shits.

Motion picture sequels can be traced back as far as the insanely good and personal favorites of mine, the Universal movie monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein being the prime examples. The originals are stone cold classics, the follow ups? Lighthearted and harmless but ultimately shite in the bucket and a quick way to plough more money into the franchise and ultimately into the studio. Dolla, dolla, bill y’all!!

The 1970’s saw some questionable sequels and the arrival of the numbered sequel. Studios were bigger, audiences were bigger and the names were big enough to warrant simply putting the same title out with an adjoining 2 or 3 after it. Most notable inclusions being titles such as The Godfather II, The French Connection 2 and the sequel to the first commercial “blockbuster”Jaws, a film so popular and critically acclaimed that some executive got a pay day for coming up with Jaws 2. If you haven’t seen it, don’t rush out and buy it. Buy some nice cake with the money, less chance of being upset.

So the sequel is nothing new to be honest, I am just hoping to myself that T2 Trainspotting won’t disappoint. I am not expecting wonders, but I expect a decent film and a genuine sense of story, character and the heart that lay within the dark bowels of the first film. At least they called it T2 Trainspotting and not Trainspotting 2 : More Drugs, No Trains. Here’s hoping!!!!

 

Written by thepanch

January 30, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Dark As The Knight

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“Oh, what are you reading….. The Dark Knight Returns?? Tsk, is that a comic?” Technically no, it’s a graphic novel but if it gets up your nose then yes, yes it is a comic. With Bloomsday behind us, I got to thinking about literary greats and their weight on our world. Personally, I found James Joyce boring, long winded and ultimately a bad writer. Have you ever tried to read The Portrait of The Artist as A Young Man? You’d have more luck decoding the Big Bang Theory and definitely more fun, which brings me to my point, dear reader.

Why graphic novels are never talked about in literary circles. But wait James, Watchmen is on the The Times Greatest 100 Novels of All Time. Just a numbered placement on a grander scale, it will never be revered in the same way The Great Gatsby, Huck Finn and Ulysess is. Why I hear you decry? Again, this is only from personal observation and from encounters I have had myself. Snobbery, snobbery and a sense of general ignorance.

“Comics are only for children.” I got news for ya, there are loads of things people do that they carry on into their adult years. Washing, breathing and I don’t know putting on fancy clothes because it makes you feel special. There is nothing wrong with growing older, it’s when you grow up that you want to get worried because the day you do is the day you edge closer to the grave.
With that in mind dear reader, here are five graphic novels I can highly recommend!!!!

The Walking Dead: Volume One Days Gone By

A relatively new one and one that I’m sure you will only be familiar with thanks to the sublime AMC show of the same name. The graphic novels tell the story of the television story, despite them coming first! It is a page turner par excellence and keeps you on the edge of your seat with a cliff hanger pretty much at the end of every chapter. I could go into the minor, sometimes major differences of the show and the novel but that would mean spoilers. Go read it!

The Killing Joke

One of the most brutal graphic novels I have ever read, written by Alan Moore with art work by Brian Boland. The Joker breaks out of Arkham Asylum and goes straight back towards Gotham targeting Jim Gordon or more specifically his daughter Barbara. What ensues is a violent, horrible series of events and there undercurrents of sexual deviancy. The Joker then tries to drive Jim Gordon insane it is truly a monumental piece of art and for my money the definitive Joker Story.

From Hell

Another one from Alan Moore. This novel mixes historical fiction and crime noir. It tells the tale leading up the Whitechapel Murders by Jack The Ripper and the cover ups that ensue. An outsider is named as “The Ripper” and challenges you to accept that maybe the story we all know could very well be a massive cover up in itself!!

Watchmen

The novel that reinvigorated the idea of a “superhero”which has a sprawling, gargantuan script undercut by gorgeous art work, set in an alternative universe. A universe where the good old US of A is nearing nuclear war with the Soviet Union, Tricky Dicky is in his fourth term of office and a masked vigilante named Roscharch is convinced that masked superheroes are being targeted and murdered. Can the “Watchmen” in their diminishing numbers stop the war? Read it and find out!!

The Dark Knight Returns

Simply put this is one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. And this bad boy was a major influence on Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, (as was Knightfall but more on that at a later date). TDKR follows the brooding, dark character that we know today. Released in 1986 it emerged at a time when Batman was laughed at thanks to the camp tv show and his general sense of camp crusader.
Bruce is old, old and broken down and he has a lot to contend with. His city is falling to shit, a new Robin is on the rise and he has to deal with The Joker and Two-Face! But he does what he does best, kicks in teeth and wreaks vengeance. The art work is gaunt, claustrophobic and stark. It paints Gotham as a hell on earth, a place that seemingly has no hope and where gangs run riot with no sign of a hero. A staggeringly good novel which is a follow up to the also impressive Batman Year One, and a precursor to The Dark Knight Returns Again but the less said about that travesty the better!

All these novels are available online. I can recommend The Big Bang in Dundrum Shopping Centre. I get a regular supply from these guys. Find them on Facebook and tell them Jamie sent you. Happy reading!!!

Written by thepanch

July 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Beware False Prophets

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Jamie’s Good News

Batman: Arkham City was for my money the greatest game I have ever had the privilege of getting my mitts on. To go full geek, you actually felt like Batman. Your decisions as to how you approach a fist / gun fight had outcomes for you and at some stages the poor unwilling innocents held victim by the scum of Gotham. And you got XP points for “intimidating” said scum. Now for those who haven’t played it first off, what the hell? Secondly, I will not produce any major spoilers as regards the ending. But it left the game in a quandary, where do you get a sequel from that? The simple answer, you don’t!

This train of thought must have influenced the decision for the newest addition to the Arkham franchise, Batman: Arkham Origins. As I said, it is not a sequel and Rocksteady Games will not be developing the title which initially made me recoil in nervous horror but from what I’ve seen so far it looks pretty tasty despite this revelation! The game focuses on Batman’s early years as The Caped Crusader.

However it is not a direct “origin” story instead it focuses on The Black Mask aka Roman Sionis who puts a bounty on Bat’s pointy eared head to try and get him off his back. Batman goes on to take out a number of assassins who are out to claim their prize and make their name over the course of a cold and dreary Christmas Eve in Gotham.
Early screenshots look pretty impressive featuring the aforementioned Black Mask, The Penguin and Deathstroke.

Half of the game will take place in Old Gotham, years before it was turned into the prison we saw in City. The second half will take place in New Gotham which looks to borrow heavily from Tim Burton’s Batman. This pleases me greatly as I wanted to live in that Gotham for a good two years when I was a young chap. The release date is set for October 25th this year and for more information and screenshots and indeed all things Bats, go to:

http://www.batmanarkhamorigins.com/

or

http://www.ign.com

Beware False Prophets

Now William Martin Murphy and his Dublin Millionaires
Tried bribery, corruption, hypocrisy and prayers
To spite the Transport Union their scats they did enlist
But all their graft was shattered by a scarlet iron fist.

When the bosses tried to sweat the lads way down on Glasgow’s Clyde
A voice like roaring thunder soon shook them in their stride
In Liverpool and Belfast where worker lives in Hell
But Connolly rose and gave them hope, the truth to you I tell.

Oh Irishmen the day will come when workers one and all
will rise up from their bended knee and rally to the call
Throw out the bosses tyranny and shout from shore to shore
For a working man’s Republic and freedom evermore.

And Connolly was there, Connolly was there
Bold, brave and undaunted; James Connolly was there.

You know what it’s like. You’re in a bar, you see a woman that catches your eye. You are no longer John, the accountant from up the road who still lives with his mammy after the messy divorce. No, you are Big Bill Brady. You are just back from a three month trek in The Andes where you went mountain climbing in your spare time. Your time was mostly spent helping poor orphans who were left homeless because of some disaster. You would offer her a lift on the Harley but it’s in the shop. People lie. If you want something, you lie to obtain it. The people you swore into power lied. They lied hard to get what they wanted.

Labour wanted to bed the country; they wanted to have its wicked way so they promised us the following:

• Child Benefit will not be touched
• No increase in college fees
• Fair Taxation and higher taxes for the rich
• Abolish prescription charges
• No Property Tax
• Burden sharing with bondholders

They all sounded lovely didn’t they? Sure, they’re great altogether. Only a moron, a dribbling moron would not vote for these smooth operators…… “What’s that? The Budget, ah sure that’s never pleasant….. Here turn up the tele there…. Sssh, here’s the first one”:

• Child Benefit to be cut by €10 a month for the first and second child, €18 a month for the third child and €20 a month for fourth and subsequent children.

“That’s not too bad…. Bit steep but sure it won’t matter….. you’ll be going to college sure….”

• €250 increase in the registration fees.

“They might hit the fat cats… I’ll be paying the same as the big fellas with their four houses….”

• €264 increase in PRSI for all those including those earning under €18,000 a year.

“Shite…. Least I’ll be able to get me tablets for me chest and your mother will be alright with the inhaler….”

• Tripled the prescription for medical card holders.

“Ah for f*** sake…..Here. Least I owns the house…”

• A property tax at 0.18% of the value of your home.

“F*****’ Hogan….. This is ridiculous…. Least them b********’ bondholders will be raked over the coals!!!!”

• Bondholders, including unsecured bondholders continue to be paid in full.

“******************************!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Pulls tele out of the wall and fires it out the window, gets a letter about the licence anyway)

The Great Rock And Roll Swindle? Nothing rock and roll about that, just a bunch of smooth tongued devils, not holding pitch forks though. They’re winking on camera and kissing babies, trouncing all over the ideals the party was founded on. Enda Kenny called Margaret Thatcher “a formidable leader.”
Who would’ve thought it, eh? A man admiring a woman that liked to make grown men quiver and shake like brassy school children? Oh, zat is some good strudel…. A woman that presided over a party which decimated small towns, families and vital industries and businesses, leaving families to make the decision, food or power? I can see why he was a fan alright. Goodbye Ireland, we hardly knew ye…..

Written by thepanch

July 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Just One More Thing

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Jamie’s Good News

I entered a competition on TV3 for the Book Club last month. I reviewed David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Yes, I can see your mind working there, that film that was out a while ago where Tom Hanks put on funny wigs and noses, thus making him different people in different times yet somehow the same story strand. I know, you’re confused as hell. Try reading the book. Here’s the review that won me a Blackberry Playbook:

“Cloud Atlas. What? Sprawling. Mental. One story. Two Stories. Many Stories. I don’t get it. He went back. She went forward? Ah here. This is too much like hard work. Oh wait. Hold on. So he was? Jaysis. Mental. He did. She didn’t. I don’t know. Cloud Atlas. Good Jesus.”

That was how I felt while reading the book, a series of short bursts of story followed by disappointment then ultimately confusion. Some of the literary types praise it as “challenging” and that books aren’t meant to be “easy, it was written that way, to be challenging.” You can take your smugness and jump off a cliff, a high one. Books are supposed to challenge you yes, but not to the point where the narrative gets wrapped up and ultimately lost in a shambolic, rambling and ultimately messy story.

And to be fair, you are only supposed to be really challenged by books when you are in school. Maths books, Irish books. Speaking of schools, this book reeked of could have done better. It had a distinct feel of a writer failing to tie up all the loose ends and just ended a particular story by starting a new one. Oh and the film was atrocious, you know just in case you were wondering. Cloud Atlas? Shit sandwich.

Bye Bye Birdie

Good Oul Bertie. The stuttering bum, the lovable rogue from the old lovable Dubalin. Ah Jaysis, will ya have a short? I will…. I didn’t see ya comin’, yil have a babby power…. Jaysis, we’ll go up The Mero in a bit. Lovable Oul Bertie. As I’m sure you are most astutely aware dear reader, Bertie is neither lovable nor innocent. After presiding over the decimation of  the country he left his storied position in The Dail, yet still continued to pocket his pension. Now, think about that. But surely he’s entitled to a pension.

Hold that thought. Only seven out of 116 ministers gave up their pensions when the news about Bertie broke, this was despite the introduction of a system to allow them to do so. Also at this time none of the Fianna Fail ministers chose to give up their pensions despite being the ones presiding over the crash. Now, I don’t blame them entirely, they didn’t crash the money ship, but they were driving it. Let’s talk figures.

On this pension, Good Oul Bertie pockets a tasty €12,500 a month. A month!! I know, right! That’s roughly around €3,000 a week for doing nothing, literally nothing. Well unless you count traipsing around the country giving lectures nothing. Now, why all this anger you say? Well as many of you may or may not know, Good Oul Bertie has been appointed chairman of the IFF (International Forestry Fund). What so ever can this mean, James? Well dear reader, gather around and I’ll tell you a tale.

Good Oul Bertie was directly involved in giving away lorry loads of our oil and gas during his time in power and now he is chairman of the very organization that the now government are looking to flog our forests and woodlands to. This is an abomination, an absolutely abhorrent way of pulling in more dirty money. There is no other way to describe it, and with a man in power who has no scruples pocketing €3,000 a week for the honour of being a retired Taoiseach, wave bye bye to all your favourite walkways.

Remember those happy memories of bringing your children or indeed being brought for a walk in one of these lovely areas? Well you better hope you took photos because the government will soon have them flogged off to the highest bidder, who will probably be Good Oul Bertie. The snake.

I am putting all politicians on notice for when you decide to campaign for re-election. Well when you all recover from your readily funded rips to the USA for Paddy’s Day so they could all laugh at the poor Paddies. Best to avoid me. Cross the street if you see me and do not even comprehend darkening my door. You are all snakes, cowardly weak snakes. And I know you won’t lose one iota of sleep over this, but this country is on it’s knees and you are going to preside over it being pushed over the edge. For what died the sons of Roisin…….

Written by thepanch

July 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

New Year, Wha?

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The kids from Sandy Hook went back to school last Thursday. Alarm bells rang, mothers fretted, fathers grunted and reached for the paper, bread was buttered, cereals were wet with milk, shoelaces were tied, buses were chased, boarded and stopped at their destination, Sandy Hook Elementary School, where just a month earlier twenty pupils and six teachers were needlessly gunned down by Adam Lanza. Gunned down as they attended school, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was to go back to that place, that place that would have been full of laughter, finger paints and scraped knees. Now it will forever be associated with a monumental loss and a damning indictment of the gun law in America.
When news broke of the killings, I was physically disgusted. And my mind went back to the killings outside that cinema in Chicago around the time of the release of The Dark Knight Rises. I remember the cry of the ignorant and the right wing that a fictional character, a hero to many of the kids that lost their lives ironically, was responsible for their deaths. A character that does all he can to avoid death and gun violence in his crusade for justice and peace. Yea, it was his fault. Damn you, Bats.
The media whipped up a frenzy again after the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School, looking for a scapegoat to pin the senseless loss of life on. No it wasn’t Superman, it was video games. Yes, those pesky pixelated devils. Adam Lanza was “obsessed” with first person shooters, namely Call Of Duty and Medal Of Honor. Senator Joe Lieberman said, “The violence in the entertainment culture – particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games – does cause vulnerable young men to be more violent.” There are two obvious arguments to this quote. One if the issue of mental health was more prevalent in the media and in health matters in general, would these young men be so “vulnerable”? And secondly, Senator Joe must not have access to a television set in his little bubble world. I watched Sky News for ten minutes yesterday and I saw four people blown to smithereens in a van bomb and a mother searching for her dead son in the rubble. At 4 o clock. In the day. In real life. Hey Senator Joe, the world is violent…
As stated earlier, the pupils and staff returned to some sense of normality last Thursday. A traumatic enough experience, so how do you help these people settle back in? A group in a neighbouring town, Organisation SOS, were offering gift vouchers in exchange for violent video games. These games were then subsequently burned, now to be fair the group did not say the games were directly responsible for the deaths, but they argue that “violent games and films desensitize children to acts of violence.” Turn on your television.
So they are burning what they believe are adding to the problems of violence, crime and unnecessary deaths in the land of the free. I begrudgingly commend them, personally I think they are a mile off, but they are entitled to their beliefs and maybe it will bring some comfort in the wake of the tragedy. Surely the US population would put some effort into a gun burning or ban on firearms? Ha, think again.
The number of FBI background checks required for buying a gun in the US has set a new record in the month of December. The Feds recorded a massive 2.8m background checks during the month, an increase of 2 million since November. Someone who passes a check is officially deemed “able to possess a firearm.” I wonder if one of the questions is “Do you own an X Box?” God Bless America…..

Written by thepanch

February 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

99 Channels

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We’ve all been there. You’re full of turkey, spuds, ham, gravy the begrudgingly eaten brussel sprout, followed by ice cream, sprinkles and the cup of tea or whiskey, depending on your preference. You sit down in your favourite chair, take out the TV Guide. You grumble and you say, “Same oul shite, Coronation Street, Eastenders, Fair f***in’ city, Strictly Dancing On Me Arse. F*** this, I’m turning on a dvd….”. Well, dear reader, sit down and relax the kecks. I am here to guide you through what I feel are the five perfect films to watch over the festive period. We start in a building, well a plaza to be more precise:
Die Hard (1989)
Woah, hold the pony there Murphy. Die Hard, a chrsitmas film? Are you high? No, I am not. Let’s weigh up the evidence here. First off, the film takes place over the FESTIVE PERIOD!!, a blinding clue to anyone with a pair of eyes. Another one occurs when McClane is coming through the airport, he’s carrying a giant teddy bear. Now, it’s never fully explained but one could safely say he’s bringing it home to his young daughter. I know crazy right. That poor German terrorist that gets it in the lift is left with a sly remark on his jumper, “Now I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho.”
When McClane lures Gruber into a false sense of security near the film’s climax, he straps his weapon to his back using fun festive tape. Then as our hero, John and his put upon wife, Bonnie leave the Nakatomi Plaza, they are met with a lovely white blanket of Christmassy snow. To add to the festive cheer, as they are carted away on the back of what looks like a golf cart, Dean Martin’s velvet tones ease into ear shot and he croons, “Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” Die Hard, one of the best Christmas films ever, motherf***er!
Gremlins (1984)
The first Gremlins film is a black comedy set against a Christmas time back drop. The plot revolves around Billy’s (Zach Gilligan) father searching for a Christmas present for his teenage son. He stumbles across a creature called a Mogwai in a small antiques shop in Chinatown. The owner of the store warns Billy’s father that owning one is too much responsibility and refuses to sell it to him. But the owner’s grandson sells the Mogwai saying the family needs the money. And he gives him three rules for the Mogwai. Never expose ti to light, never get it wet and never ever feed it after midnight.
Gizmo gets accidentally wet when brought home and he produces five Gremlins. The most dominant is Stripe, who for some reason despises Gizmo. They go about rampaging the city and tearing up the place. The climax of the film takes place in a Montgomery Ward store and Gizmo lets up the blinds and this allows the light in that kills Stripe. The store owner returns to claim Gizmo claiming that the world is not ready for the Mogwai, a symbol for the over zealousness of the west to have material goods over the Christmas period perhaps? Could be, either way if you get one this Christmas, don’t let it get wet!!
Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom (1984)
Ok, there’s no real Christmas signs, symbolism or indeed back stories in this film but if I don’t see it at Christmas I feel it is a waste of a Christmas Day. So there, and It’s A Wonderful Life doesn’t have Indiana Jones in it….
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Hey, there’s that guy that used to be really funny and in great films. What’s he at now, oh yea he’s quitting his show because he’s an arse. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Chevy Chase. The cornerstone of this popular franchise and he also made Fletch. I liked it. This is the third film in the Lampoon Series and was written by John Hughes. And it has the distinction of being my favourite one in the series.
You know the story Clark wants to give his family the perfect Christmas. But he keeps getting obstacles placed in his way, namely a wayward Christmas tree, lights that will not light despite best efforts, a family bout of hypothermia, warring in laws and breaking the window of smug yuppie next door neighbours with a tree. Oh yea and Cousin Eddie, the greatest comic character ever created in my humble opinion. Take a bow Dennis Quaid, never has dog splatters been so funny.
The family end up warring, Eddie and his hick family tear up the sewage and destroy the front lawn, the lights finally work and Clark gets his holiday bonus, thanks to Eddie driving across town and kidnapping his boss. Uncle Lewis throws a discarded cigar down a storm drain, igniting the methane gas leaked thanks to the sewage Eddie ripped up and blows a Santa decoration onto the lawn. The family stand around as Aunt Bethany sings the Star Spangled Banner and Clark realises he has got his perfect Christmas. A sweet, yet slightly mentally unhinged story…. Just what you need at Christmas!
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (1971)
This is for my money the only film to watch at Christmas. Think about it, songs, chocolate, a warm message about family and greed is not welcomed, it is punished, all the ingredients for festive cheer. I won’t bore you with the plot details as I’m sure you are all well aware at this stage. The film is fun, bright, sad in all the right places and leaves you walking away with a smile on your face and a warm heart. That could also be all the chocolate though…
So there you go, a rundown of what I feel are perfect Christmas films. A very merry Christmas to you and yours!

Written by thepanch

February 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

To The Victor The Spoils

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We’ve all been looking for a scapegoat. Someone to hang the problems of the country onto around his grubby neck, but we have all been looking under the wrong rocks and crooks. We should have been looking to the South of America, Texas and to be geographically accurate Southfork Texas. JR Ewing. The original TV bastard. Here’s just a summarised list of his quotes:
(To Sue Ellen): “Well, I’ll be damned if you can come in here any time you want and use me like a stud service!!”
(To Lucy): “Why don’t you have that junior plastic surgeon you had build you a new face. One without a mouth!!”
“Well Ray was never comfortable eating with the family. We do use knives and forks after all.”
“The only thing that is screwed up in this office Barnes is your head, which I would be more than happy to serve on a silver platter if I weren’t worried about my family getting food poisoning!”
“Don’t forgive and never forget; Do unto others before they do unto you; and third and most importantly, keep your eye on your friends, because your enemies will take care of themselves!”
JR Ewing. As I said, the original TV bastard. And as I watched the reports of Larry Hagman’s death last week, I got to thinking. Dallas must have been stuck on repeat in Seanie Fitzpatrick’s house and the VCR must have been burnt out in Sean Quinns. You can just picture them as young upstarts watching JR. That’s for me ma, that’s the life. I’ll squeeze what I can out of the little folks and see where it gets me!!
So, if you’re looking for a scapegoat, aim your eyes away from the Dail and aim them towards Southfork Texas. JR, you have a lot to answer for…..

Written by thepanch

February 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm

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