Michelle & Arlene: Ulster Says Snow … making political satire out of stasis (Accidental Theatre, 6/7/13 December)

The fourth in the series of Michelle and Arlene satirical plays – Ulster Says Snow! – is due to hit the stage of Accidental Theatre in Belfast’s Shaftesbury Square next week. Running alongside the Human Rights Festival, Rosemary Jenkinson hopes that this new show can explore many different rights, rather than just being a narrow snapshot of local politics.

Ode to Mr Lehrer

Good morning! This is a new departure for me, as it’s the first time I’ve ever contributed a poem to these pages. I don’t know how often poetry appears in Slugger, but if it’s not very often I guess this probably won’t be damaging to anyone or anything – except possibly my own reputation…. Anyway, today is the 90th Birthday of one of America’s finest satirists – a musician who began his life as a lecturer of mathematics at Harvard … Read more

Review: Michelle & Arlene – two game politicians flip flop after staying in close contact over summer

What would it take for a Northern Ireland politician to change their mind on one of any number of intractable issues? A satirical play finds out what might happen if Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill spent time away together and faced up to some of the policy issues that divide their parties and stall political progress. Accidental Theatre produce Rosemary Jenkinson’s Rapid Response play.

‘Doctor Fact is knocking at the door! Someone – please – let the man in!’

It’s proving to be another crowded year for anniversaries, not all of them Great War- or Ireland-related. Two 25-year ones in the coming week that are particularly worthy of attention may well pass unnoticed amid the above themes. In four days’ time it will be exactly a quarter of a century since the Geneva-based British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee switched on his patented information network, whereby computer users from all over the globe could access and share information simply by … Read more

‘Long on material for jeremiads like this’: John Andrew Fredrick’s ‘The King of Good Intentions II’: Book Review

A fresh novel about the travails of a struggling musician on L.A.’s indie-rock fringe, this sequel to The King of Good Intentions continues the story of John and his jangle-pop band, The Weird Sisters. Likely at least semi-autobiographical, narrated after all by John with frequent asides to us, this takes up the tale on the 5th of April, 1994, the day Kurt Cobain died. While only Raleigh, the new drummer, feels bereft by this news as the band ends its … Read more

Drawing Charlie

One of my favourite cartoonists has made one of the best cartoons, if something good can come out of all this bad. The above by Dave Brown that is, tomorrow’s cartoon in the Independent. A remix of the first post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo to be published tomorrow, whose cover I will not divulge here, but you can sneak a peek here. Normally, when a politician and person of power gets cartooned they buy it and hang it on the … Read more

“Turns out people know the score, and they’re not so easily offended…”

I’m holding fire (pun intended) on the #CharlieHebdo shootings until I’ve worked out precisely what I think about it. In the meantime, on the business of why humourists may be displacing serious journalism as a prime source in political discourse (and perhaps suffering the consequences), this critique of John Oliver is well worth reading. These three points make worthy highlights: He tells a story. America is built on narrative. Although BuzzFeed has made inroads, it’s got no soul and no true fans, because … Read more

Cartoonists unite in support of Charlie Hebdo

Cartoonists from around the world have united to produce images in tribute to “cartooning colleagues, their families and loved ones” affected by the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. Up and coming 18-year-old Northern Ireland cartoonist Michael McBride has produced this striking image: [twitter_follow username=”https://twitter.com/The_Firemen” language=”en”] The Firemenhttps://twitter.com/The_Firemen

Je Suis Charlie

Via the BBC coverage of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed, an eloquent cartoon from the New Yorker. Pete Baker

“I don’t want to photograph politicians any more, I don’t believe them any more…”

Two engaging interviews from The Arts Show, this first is with the Portrait photographer Bobby Hanvey, and the other with the Irish News cartoonist of twenty five years, Ian Knox… Last word to Rowel Friars, a cartoonist who began his career before the Troubles started, speaking in a 1994 interview with the BBC… “When I started out it was general humour. But once the Troubles broke out we were in hell and I had to turn to the political scene, … Read more

Interview with Loyalists Against Democracy – will @LADFLEG’s second year in existence be their difficult second album?

Like them or loathe them, Loyalists Against Democracy will have been around for a year on Tuesday 10 December. They’ve become a local online phenomenon with their mix of parody, banter and acerbic attacks. It started out as one man trolling “ridiculous” loyalist flag protesters online. Early daft parody protest ideas like complaining about Aer Lingus flying over East Belfast have grown into a collective producing sophisticated graphics, videos, music, a musical for the Edinburgh fringe as well as caustic … Read more

Tony Bailie’s ‘A Verse to Murder’: Book Review

Maurice Burns’ cover merits study–it’s well chosen and ties into this mystery within, as elaborated by an informant. The title, a play off of the ‘murder of crows’, echoes in the name of Barry Crowe, a Belfast journalist (or is it ‘sleazy tabloid hack’?) pursuing the backstory behind the sudden demise, apparently by auto-asphyxiation, of Northern Ireland’s leading poet. The compromising circumstances unfold neatly in this e-book novella. Bailie, whose Lagan Press novels The Lost Chord and Ecopunks delved into … Read more

Manchán Magan’s ‘Oddballs: A Novel of Affections’: Book Review

A skilled chronicler in travel narratives and documentaries of those who wander the fringes, Manchán Magan’s debut novel follows four characters on the fringe. Two of them, teenaged Rachel and her quasi-aunt Charlotte, collide after a long estrangement in New Hampshire, and take off on Charlotte’s Wiccan pilgrimage to ye olde England of, as a bemused or bitter Rachel puts it, ‘Merlin and Voldemort’. After a few detours, they wind up on a quasi-borrowed yacht that lands them off Co … Read more

Mapping stereotypes: “you should be able to find something here to offend you.”

Here’s something to distract and amuse [and offend? – Ed]  Possibly…  The Guardian’s Tim Dowling points to graphic artist Yanko Tsvetkov’s satirical Mapping Stereotypes project – the Ultimate Bigot’s Calendars of Europe, and the World.  As Tim Dowling says No matter where you’re from, you should be able to find something here to offend you. [Is it “Safe For Work”? – Ed]  Probably…  If you’re working from home.  ANYhoo… I was particularly offended amused by “Europe According to the Greeks”, “According to … Read more

You take the man out of West Belfast but his MP will (eventually) follow…

I was going to leave this caustic piece of graphic satire from the Bavarian Orange Blogspot to Moochin, who spotted it on Facebook this afternoon, but then someone punted me this post from former West Belfast resident Anthony McIntyre, whose former MP is about to become his bright shiny, new Sinn Fein TD… Clearly, he cannot believe his luck… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider … Read more

It’s Friday!

It’s 4.30pm and it’s probably nearly home time. Here are three websites that you might want to study while you wait for the little hand to sweep towards five: Is your IT manager as creatively destructive as the BOFH? [translation: Bastard Operator from Hell] NB: PFY = Pimply faced youth – BOFH’s underling. I’m always surprised at the large number of people who haven’t discovered The Daily Mash yet. Labour may not have a lot going for them at the … Read more