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Flip the Script Friday: George Shiels, The New Gossoon

This is a play that I thought I had read, but it turns out that I hadn’t, and it’s now public domain so I can do what I want, bwahahaha.

Before I finish writing this post, I just have to say that I’m really not loving this new block editor. I used to be able to toggle back to the old style, but now I can’t. I’m hoping to avoid either writing posts in Word or Google Doc and then copying and pasting them, but one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding blogging is because this editor just plain sucks. How do you manage to get around this problem?

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Some Great Lesser-Known Irish Plays

I took a course in Irish theatre a few years back, and was amazed at the diversity of theatre that comes from one little island. Everyone knows Dancing at Lughnasa and Juno and the Paycock, but, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a list of some Irish plays not everyone knows about, and why they’re great.

  1. Martin McDonagh, The Beauty Queen of Leenane

This play is a dark exploration of mother and daughter, spinster and invalid, and what happens when a man enters the picture.

2. Samuel Beckett, Happy Days

Winnie is buried in sand on the beach. She talks. That’s pretty much it, but it’s riveting.

3. William Butler Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan

4. Brian Friel, Translations

5. Denis Johnston, The Old Lady Says No!

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Hold On To Your Hats, It’s Time for Saint Pat’s

One thing I’ve been seeing a lot of lately is pictures of people wearing green and getting progressively drunker. Not surprisingly, they are in albums with labels like “St. Patrick’s Day 2014.” Yes, it’s that time of year….but it’s only March 9th. Last time I checked, St. Patrick’s Day was March 17. Every year.

I don’t know much about St. Patrick’s Day, but I think I know the rules (or what passes for them, anyway) that everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and that everyone gets green and wears drunk – I mean, gets drunk and wears green. And that it’s always, always on March 17.

Growing up as I did, there was no such thing as St. Patrick’s Day. It just didn’t exist. I think I first heard about it sometime in high school, at the earliest. One of the first things I learned was that it’s one of those holidays with a fixed date, like July 4th or New Year’s Day. In the Jewish calendar, holidays never have the same day due to the lunar dates corresponding with different solar dates every year. Thus, Passover could be in early April one year, in early May the next, and in late April the year after that.

But what confused me the most?

Not all non-Jewish holidays are on the same day every year.

It took me forever to nail down the fact that like St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Halloween do not change, but Easter, Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday do. Which brings me back to my original point; St. Patrick’s Day is, and yes, I did check again, not this week but NEXT week. Why are you having St. Patrick’s Day parties now? Why can’t you people wait a week and THEN deluge the Internet with your drinking pics? Why does the world insist on confusing me? Why do holidays do this? Why? Why?? Why???

At least I can fall back on the comfort of Judaism, where we never know the date our holidays will be on, but rest assured, they’re always too early or too late.

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Fun New Words to Mumble Under Your Breath

One of the courses I’m taking this semester is a seminar in Irish drama. I don’t know much about Ireland and Irish playwrights as I probably should, hence the reason for taking the class. The reading list is gigantic, and with ten readings to be read before Tuesday, I spent the majority of my Saturday not reading them and have only read twenty pages into the first.

Reading an Irish play can be tricky. The language is colorful, to say the least, and it’s written in a dialect. It’s taken me the better part of an hour to read what I have so far, but I’ve been double dipping between reading and watching SNL. This sketch is kind of dumb.

But anyway, back to the play. The one I’m reading is Colleen Bawn by Dion Boucicault. The plot is fairly straightforward, and I’ve already learned two fun new words. And both of them have the same meaning.

First, spalpeen. Originating in the late 18th century, it can be pronounced either spal-peen or spal-peen. Versatile. According to Dictionary.com, it means “lad, boy, rascal, or scamp.”  It comes from an Irish word meaning “hired laborer.” I like the World English Dictionary’s reference to “rascal or layabout” better. I like this word because it doesn’t sound like anything in English, and is slightly sexual in nature.

Another fun one is blackguard. You may have heard this from the Family Guy episode where Stewie dresses up a la Tootsie to get a role on his favorite TV show, Jolly Farm Revue. I didn’t know what the word meant or even if it was indeed a real word. I actually thought it was “blaggard” because that’s how it’s pronounced, although saying it as if it were a compound of “black” and “guard” is also acceptable. And racist. Defined as “scoundrel,” the word refers to menial workers, who were often called the black guard. My favorite feature of this word is that it can be used as a verb or even an adverb, blackguardly, as in, “My man blackguardly left me with three kids and no money.” Now it’s not only racist, but doubly racist.

I…should probably not incorporate those into my daily speech. Maybe the world’s not ready for them yet.

But they still count in Words With Friends.