In Ireland! Day Nine, Dublin Edition Part Three — Game Day

96. The big day finally arrived. The start of Penn State’s 2014 football season and our match (not a game; we’re in Ireland now) against University of Central Florida, at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Where, I might add, our season opener’s priority in Croke Park meant that the replay of a(n Irish) football semi-final had to be relocated to Limerick. I bet a lot of locals weren’t pleased about it, but I’m hoping the ridiculous infusion of tourist dollars helped soften the blow.

My merry band of PICs partook in pre-game festivities at three designated bars in the Temple Bar district — Fitzsimons, Porterhouse, and The Norseman — where, rumor had it, fans could collect different commemorative pins.

We cheerfully collected our first two pins then arrived at the Norseman to get the third, only to receive a duplicate. When I asked a bartender whether there were different pins he told me that there had been a different one that the bar had given out the day before (rule breakers). My eagle eyes spotted one of the coveted pins on said bartender’s shirt. At which point the following exchange may or may not have occurred:

Me: Do you want to give me your pin?

Bartender: No.

Me: stink eye

Bartender: hands over the pin

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Next, the merry band of PICs, my collection of three different commemorative pins, and I made our way to Croke Park for what turned out to be quite a nailbiter. In the last two minutes we were down by one, cheated out of a critical six seconds leaving just three on the clock, then miraculously scored a field goal and won the game by two points!

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Celebration ensued.

First I enjoyed a delicious soft serve ice cream cone (which they just sell in convenience stores here, which is grand).

97. Next we enjoyed food and beverages at Madigan’s Pub, a fine establishment with a lovely manager named Jerry.

98. Then onto another pub, the Cobblestone, where we hoped to enjoy live music. It had the live music but lacked seating close enough to hear it. Ah, well, fortunately we met three fine Irishmen who were nearly as entertaining — Rob, the writer; Stuey, the motorbike messenger; and a third, the media correspondent, whose name I didn’t catch.

And now it is time to rest up; Guinness tour tomorrow. Also, I keep dozing off and writing things like “dzazs.”

Free(!) Kulture (and a couple of yahoos). Experiences 25 and 26.

In the interest of fiscal responsibility, it’s always a bonus to find a new experience that is also a freebie.

Who’s got two thumbs and loves a bargain? This girl.

To wit,

25. The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Happenings at the Harmon, weekly free(!) lunchtime performances, which I only recently discovered. (Note: once a month the Happening is a happy hour. Who’s got two thumbs and really loves a bargain plus a glass of wine? Do you even have to ask?)

As appealing as the happy hour version is, my first Happening was the lunch edition. I saw A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup, presented by Shoshinz, apparently “one of Tokyo’s most acclaimed clowns.” The performance featured a ridiculously creative and clever combination of physical comedy, quirky music and sound effects, and a parade of props (see a clip from last year’s Fringe Festival here).

I can’t say that I loved all the bits – see, e.g., cracking a dozen imaginary eggs for breakfast, releasing chirpy chirpy imaginary birds, marching them around the apartment and generally having a grand old time with them, making me LOVE the cute chirpy chirpy imaginary birds and THEN?

Eating them.

Live.

Imaginary live, but still.

With gusto.

One crunchy chirpy bite at a time.

Imaginary chirpy crunchy birds aside, it was bizarre and fascinating and never the teensiest bit boring.

Almost as fascinating was the motley crew that assembled to catch the free performance – a couple other worker bees like me, random and sundry tourists of all ages, and a remarkably well-behaved student group. Also, some weirdo hipster yahoo whose cell phone rang on cue as they were making the pre-performance “silence your phone” announcement. Which he answered. Then proceeded to talk at a normal volume while he was still in the room. If it’s not one clown, it’s another.

All-in-all, it was not a bad way to break up the work day. It’s never a bad idea to get away from your desk at lunchtime, to take a walk and let the stink blow off you (as Momma Pussykat would say).  If you can find a way to add some free(!) kulture to the mix, all the better.  But save the wine for happy hour. They seem to value sobriety in the workplace.

26. Hip Hop Theatre Creator Award-winning performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

I’ve been Millennium Stage adjacent on multiple occasions, but for the first time went specifically to see one of their free(!) daily performances (every day! 6pm!).

Repeat partner-in-crime Sara and I saw Blood at the Root, part of a two-week festival, One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide, “a celebration of this uniquely American art form, positive cultural movement, and global phenomenon.”

Blood at the Root, written by Dominique Morisseau, told the story of the “Cedar Six,” young black men imprisoned after an altercation with a white high school classmate, following a series of events fueled by racial tensions. It was inspired by the “Jena Six” of Jena, Louisiana. The play posed tough questions and illustrated the complexities of finding answers when friends and family members perceive and respond to the same events very differently. The play and production were excellent (and free!) and I’m proud to say that the director, choreographer, and talented cast hail from Penn State’s School of Theatre.

The performance seemed to be well received by all. Except for the couple of people who departed when the dialogue became particularly colorful. And the inevitable couple of yahoos who took phone calls mid-performance (seriously, what is that about?), including the man who climbed over us THREE times – when he arrived late, when he left to take his phone call, and when he returned, after which he promptly fell asleep.

Who’s got two thumbs and gave that guy the stink eye? Oh, you’d better believe it.

 

The path to personal growth and enrichment is paved with good intentions. Experience 23.

It wouldn’t be much of a new experience project if I didn’t include at least some things that fall outside of my comfort zone, eh?

Which is why I bought a ticket to a program sponsored by my beloved alma mater – a dinner featuring Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology and the promise of subject matter well outside my usual fiction, television, and pop-culture-heavy cocktail of activities.

I also thought it would be a fine opportunity to work on my decidedly lackluster networking skills. Which you’re apparently supposed to develop as a professional person in the world. So I decided to put on my big girl pants, prepare a couple go to questions, and set off solo to cocktail hour. Where I naturally made a beeline for the one person in the room who I sort of knew until the one person I actually knew arrived and I attached myself to her for the rest of the night.  Baby steps.

The program itself? I think it was pretty interesting. Continue reading