Keepon keeps on!

Check out this extraordinarily cool music video. The little yellow robot isn’t a prop – it’s actually a real robot under development in Japan, designed to mimic social communication patterns. It’s freaky!

He’s called Keepon.

You can find out more here.

Catwalk fabulous . . .

So my incredibly talanted sister Deborah* and her guru-like husband Charlie had a triumph last night (in the Latin sense of the word) when they held their first catwalk fashion show in Dublin city at the uber-trendy Fallon & Byrne on Wicklow Street. Deborah and her friend Aideen Bodkin have worked in fashion for a long time, but decided to hold a show together during Dublin Fashion Week and it appears they are the Hotted Things in Town(tm) right now.

The show was thronged – absolutely packed out with journalists, fashion buyers, models and supporters. A couple of hundred people packed in to watch the show and they weren’t disappointed. I don’t know a huge amount about fashion, but I was blown away by the creativity and talent on display. And it seems that the press in attendence were too.

This morning, there is more newsprint dedicated to this show than I’ve ever seen for any publicity event, let alone fashion show. There is acres of coverage in The Irish Indendent, The Irish Times, The Examiner, The Daily Mail, Herald AM and probably more I haven’t seen.

This fantastic picture was published in a huge print on page two of today’s Irish Independent. (I hope the photographer who took it doesn’t mind me ‘borrowing’ it temporarily for non commercial use!) Whoo hoo! Congrats Debs!


(*For the record, all my family are fabulously talented in their respective fields.)

On Writing as a Fantasist

Have you ever read something and wished you’d written it? While attempting to avoid work this morning, I looked at Scott Card’s website and he’s posted a link to an essay by a guy I’ve never heard of – Dave Wolverton. His essay, ‘On Writing as a Fantasist’ is a excellent read.

He’s articulated something extremely proficiently that I’ve long felt to be true and about which I’ve spent a lot of time arguing and talking with other people. Anyway, read these two extracts, and then click the link.

For decades no novel of science fiction, fantasy, or horror was allowed to appear on the New York Times Bestseller list, regardless of how many copies such a novel actually sold. Thus in the early 1970s a work by Stephen King that sold a million copies in a month wouldn’t even hit the list, while a book that sold fifty thousand copies held the number one position. Why? Because in New York, the work of fantasists wasn’t considered literature. (The same can be said for other genres. Romance, Westerns, mysteries–all forms of “genre” literature were considered beneath mention.) The same holds true to a lesser extent today. No Star Wars novelization has hit number one on the New York Times Bestseller list despite the fact that such books often outsell three-to-one those novels that are listed as number one. I suspect that romances generally sell much better than the list-makers would like to admit.

For the same reason, the works of fantasists have been consistently passed over for literary awards and publication in the mainstream magazines. Regardless of how original the piece is, how moving, how insightful, how enervating, or how beautiful, fantastic literature is considered incapable of being the equal of mainstream literature.

And what in Mr Wolverton’s opinion constitutes a good story?

A story that fascinates is better than one that bores. A story that is eloquent is better than the babboon howlings of the verbally damned. A story that is profound, that transmits valuable insight, is better than one that is pedestrian or that is opaque. A story that speaks to many is better than one that speaks to few. A story that is beautiful in form is better than one that is inelegant, rambling or clumsy. A story that transports me to another world or that transmits experience is better than a story that leaves me sitting alone and troubled in my reading chair. A story that artfully moves me emotionally or intellectually is better than one that leaves me emotionally or intellectually anesthetized.

Hear hear! Now click the link.

Tickle me Emo

Know any young people? Want to wind them up? Start asking at regular intervals if they are ‘an emo’?

This works particularly well if they are as un-emo as possible. They will be highly offended and in fact will usually be so shocked by the question that they will be unable to formulate a response for several seconds. Expect much spluttering on their behalf and hilarity on yours.


So things have been a little slow around here for the last few days – I’ve been sick and am now trying to catch up on work stuff. We’ve also been doing some work on our house, and as I work from home, that means I’ve been working in a building site for around two weeks. Still, it looks nice now.

Meanwhile, I also got my digital camera back, repaired and working, so I should be able to post more pictures here. And also, the blog’s readership grows and grows – both the Wall Street Journal and CNN linked some of their news stories here in the last week.

When they post news stories on their websites, they sometimes reference blog sites discussing the same issues. It’s probably a matter of a quick google search, but still, it’s nice to be noticed. There were quite a few referrals on my blog statistics page as well. Okay, that’s it for now.

Tony Wilson RIP

A great man has passed away. Tony Wilson needs nothing more to be said about him, other than that his exceptional bright and shining talent was to take people with vision but not voice and empower them to do something extraordinary.

Joy Division, New Order, The Happy Mondays, the Durutti Column. Modern Youth Culture would be nothing but for him.

In what would no doubt have quite amused him, he managed to die of cancer this weekend, just weeks before the opening of a film that documents the beginning of the band Joy Division and the start of Factory Records. It’s been made by Anton Corbijn.

Control Trailer – Ian Curtis

Review: HP & The Deathly Hallows

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. By JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, €13.30.
Published July 28th, 2007, The Sunday Business Post. Review by Alex Meehan

And so it ends. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final novel in JK Rowling’s monumentally successful series and, for hardcore Potter fans, this is the most eagerly awaited of them all.

The good news is that Rowling has delivered a satisfying conclusion to the story she started writing 17 years ago, although not everyone will be happy with the outcome.


At the start of the final book, Harry is reeling from the death of his mentor Albus Dumbledore and is struggling to carry out his last wishes, that he should track down and destroy a set of horocruxes – magical artefacts used by arch enemy Lord Voldemort to store portions of his twisted soul.

Harry, Ron and Hermione leave Hogwarts School, where Severus Snape has been installed as headmaster and start a long and difficult journey to find the location of the crucial objects and the means of destroying them.

In the meantime, the wizarding world has been thrown into chaos as Lord Voldemort has taken power, overthrown the Ministry of Magic and installs his followers in positions of authority. He instigates a policy of rounding up and killing wizards of mixed magical parentage and sinister ‘snatch squads’ roam the countryside looking for ‘mudbloods’ to imprison.

Really though, he is mostly concerned with hunting down Potter, and the stage is set for a final climactic showdown with the Dark Lord, as both Potter and Voldemort know one has to die for the other to live.

The body count in Deathly Hallows is significantly higher than in previous Potter books, and several well-loved characters meet their end during the course of the story. The emotional impact is high and it is clear Rowling has honed her craft over the course of the series. This is a well written book featuring well-loved characters risking their all.

There is a definite sense of foreboding as it becomes clear any character can go at any time, and the story is more gripping for it. In previous books, we have seen Harry grow from a child to a moody teenager and the bad news is that he is still stuck there.

When people are trying to help him, he’s unreasonable and quick to anger.

His can’t resist lashing out with his tongue and the result is that it is hard to stay supportive of a lead character who doesn’t always deserve the respect others give him. A crucial part of the journey Harry takes lies in his coming to terms with the failings of others.

His respect for Dumbledore crumbles as tabloid hack Rita Skeeter releases a book titled The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, which is designed to smear the now-deceased Hogwarts headmaster. Through Skeeter’s one-sided hatchet job, Harry finds out that his hero has not been entirely honest with him about his past, and starts to doubt the validity of his quest.

Deathly Hallows is a satisfying read for any fan of Rowling’s work. All the characters given prominence in the previous books make fresh appearances, and unresolved plotlines are brought to fruition. It contains everything the previous books had – and more.

It weighs in at a hefty 600 pages and while there are problems with elements of the story – the plot is overly long and convoluted – overall it is an exciting, fast-moving story with a well-written and satisfying climax.

The epilogue brings the story full circle, and reminds the reader that, while this started out as a children’s story, it became so much more. This is a worthy finale for a series that has become a publishing phenomenon.