Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dublin Writers Festival Launch

Tonight, Tuesday 29 April saw the launch of the 2008 Dublin Writers Festival in Dublin's Merrion Hotel.

Having been invited by the lovely Léan Ní Chléirigh who is recruiting volunteers for the festival, I popped along to have a look.

Officially launched by Festival Director Jack Gilligan, the festival - running from June 11 to 15 2008 - promises to be an absolute feast for literary fans.

Cllr Paddy Bourke, Lord Mayor of Dublin, gave a great speech outlining the importance of the festival to the city.

"Over recent years Dublin has become a vibrant city in terms of the arts. Our many festivals, events, theatre, music performances and exhibitions have all played their part in firmly placing us among Europe's top cultural cities.

With our rich literary tradition it is no wonder that writers and writing are very much at the core of this cultural awakening.

I am delighted to say that the great literary tradition is still carried on, with distinction, by our contemporary poets, novelists and playwrights. They continue to win international acclaim and to reinforce Dublin's reputation as a literary city."
Notice the lack of bloggers mentioned. Next year Twenty, next year. ;-)
"Dublin's Writers Festival celebrates contemporary writers from around the world, providing opportunities for interaction with their Irish counterparts and offering a fascinating range of literary experiences for audiences.

A very welcome addition to recent programmes has been the series of topical debates reflecting local and global concerns. This year's impressive programme has readings and discussions which will, I am sure, be the subject of lively exchange."

The team behind the festival, including the afore mentioned Jack Gilligan and Programme Director Liam Browne have done an impressive job at gathering together writers for what looks like an eclectic mix of events and talks.

I'm sure the 2008 programme will be on their website soon, but in the meantime, some of the highlights as suggested by Liam Browne:

Wednesday 11 June - 8 pm - Project Arts Theatre - J.P. Donleavy
"When I'm dead, I hope it may be said: his sins were scarlet, but his books were read"

Multi-million selling author. Famed recluse. Contemporary cohort of Johnny Depp. Author, playwright, artist, farmer and all-round Irish icon, J.P. Donleavy is a one-man literary cult surrounded by a tantalising mythology.

This special retrospective looks back on a remarkable career from Dublin's post-war creative Bohemia to fevered speculation of an imminent Ginger Man screen adaptation care of Johnny Depp and Laurence Dunmore.
Tickets are €10.00 and €8.00 and available at +353 (0)1 881 9613.

Thursday 12 June - 8pm - Project Arts Theatre - Irish Values Debate.

Now this promises to be something interesting. Economist David McWilliams, Senator Ivana Bacik, historian Roy Foster and documentary maker Alan Gilsenan take on the topic of post Celtic Tiger Ireland.
"Since the Celtic Tiger first roared back in the early 1990s, Ireland's economic upturn has transformed the lives of many. But has this new found prosperity also changed our core values? And if so, what does this say about us as a society?

Was the Ireland of old a purer, simpler and therefore kinder society, or is this simply the worst kind of nostalgia?"
Tickets are €10.00 and €8.00 and available at +353 (0)1 881 9613.

Friday 13 June - 6pm - MacNeill Theatre TCD - Tom Stoppard

(Photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

"A Stoppard play is a lightshow of shimmering language, multi-tiered ideas, intricate wit and outlandish characterisation" Daily Telegraph

Given that Tom Stoppard wrote Shakespeare in Love is almost enough for me. Almost. Add to the fact then that he's responsible for Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, Gilliam's Brazil and Broadway's Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead and I'm there.
"Sir Tom Stoppard is one of the world's most celebrated and influential playwrights, his distinctive oeuvre characterised by big ideas, coruscating word play and passionate humanism.

Describing himself as a timid libertarian, Stoppard is in fact a tireless campaigner for civil liberties and human rights. He is an ardent champion of freedom of expression."
It's likely to be one of THE events of the festival. Tickets are €10/€8 and available at +353 (0)1 881 9613.

Saturday 14 June - 11am - Morrison Hotel - Kathy Lette

Image by Ben Lister taken from here.

In a first for the festival - and a first visit for herself to Dublin apparently, Kathy Lette, author of books including Dead Sexy, Foetal Attraction, Girls' Night Out and Nip 'N' Tuck is hosting a Festival Brunch on Saturday 14 June in the Morrison Hotel at 11am (admission €14)
"Join Kathy for coffee, croissants and a side order of breezy Aussie charm as the best selling author and playwright invites you to this year's high fibre, calorie controlled (yeah right!) festival Brunch.

For the latest slice of fast-talking, pun-laden modern angst from the queen of zeitgest comedy, please tuck in!"
Saturday 14 June - Project Arts Centre - 6pm - Esther Freud and Linn Ullman

This will be another festival first and I believe the first time these two famous writers (and daughters of famous people) have met.

Esther Freud, daughter of painter Lucian and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud and Linn Ullman, daughter of Ingmar Bergmann and Liv Ullmann.

Given the pedigree it's hardly surprising that family dynamics tend to be rarely far from the surface of their latest novels, Freud's Love Falls and Ullman's A Blessed Child.
"Two consummate chroniclers of the human condition. One very special encounter."
Sunday 15 June - Gate Theatre - 5pm - David Grossman

I read Death as a Way of Life a while ago and it's an enthralling read. Now the author, Israeli novelist, essayist and political commentator David Grossman is coming to Ireland to talk about the continuing saga and conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"This exclusive Dublin visit is a rare opportunity to explore the work of a major contemporary voice on the global literary scene."
Sunday 15 June - Gate Theatre - 8pm - Ian Rankin in conversation with Colin Bateman

Apparently Ian Rankin requested this conversation with Colin Bateman for the festival. Rankin, best selling crime writer and creator of one of my favourite characters John Rebus is in conversation with the author of Divorcing Jack, Belfast Confidential and BBC1 series Murphy's Law.

This promises to be interesting. Very, very interesting.

Other events and names worth looking at include Marian Keyes, John Boyne (Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) in conversation with Lloyd Jones about their new books, a wonderful poetry talk with Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Harry Clifton, Sebastian Barry, Jonathan Coe, Anne Enright, Frank McGuinness... phew, what a list!

What's always great about these festivals for me is the effort and enthusiasm that goes into them from the organisers, the volunteers and the participants. It's something Dublin should be proud of.

Even the busy Lord Mayor, off to another engagement and who couldn't get a canapé, had time to lend his support... and stop for a photo:

Max Crisfield (whose words I stole for this post) and Wesley Doherty, a student with Ballyfermot College of Higher Education have done a great job with the programme in conjunction with the Black Mountain Design Company.

Update: The Dublin Writers Festival website has a report on last night as well with more about the launch. Check it out!

The Administration office can be contacted on +353 (0)1 222 7850 and box office for the Project Arts Theatre, MacNeill Theatre, Morrison Hotel, FilmBase, Peacock Theatre and Irish Writers' Centre is at +353 (0)1 881 9613. The Gate Theatre is at +353 (0)1 874 4045.

Finally, if you'd like to get involved by volunteering, please contact the lovely Léan at nichlels@tcd.ie. She's very nice altogether.

Dublin Writers Festival 2008 website can be found here: http://www.dublinwritersfestival.com

Friday, April 25, 2008

Having a talk on the faux side - why I'll be naked...

Ever since I saw this mentioned yesterday by Jazzbiscuit, by Le Craic, by Rick and Pat Phelan I've been thinking about whether to do it or not.

Do I really want to get naked for "art" with other people?

I mean is this type of thing really art?

This morning I asked the members on the Faux Sty to vote. I said that if I got over 10 votes, I'd do it.

As of now, there's 11.

I'm doing it.

Thanks to Miamee, New Bee, YorkiePig2, boo, Lou, Jamie, butterfly, pm and Rickistar for the votes. TFS is a great community forum and I like being part of it with you guys and gals :)

Also to the lovely Rosie and JB for saying I should do it.

And I think Mr O Shea may be serious about doing it as well!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today I have been mostly...

... suffering from man flu (but not like this:

(yeah I know it's ancient, I still like it though)

Agreeing with Twenty Major on Ireland in the old days.

Rereading Mulley's Community Manager post and the comments.

Updating my Remember the Milk tasks.

Watching You Tube vids that I didn't post in The Best of the Web forum over on fauxsty.com

Speaking of Forums, K8 the Gr8 points to this one. I reckon Twitter is a forum to be honest.

Thinking of buying one of Lette's Peig t-shirts.

Ever so proud to be on the front page of makingbabies.ie :) Thanks Fiona!

Still thinking about Rosie's Waking Talking Statue nickname. I also loved her post on the statue in Earlsfort Terrace. Update: Had just finished adding a comment about it and then found this video on Rick O' Shea's blog. Says a lot!

Actually considering doing this. Kinda. Jazz Biscuit has more on it.

Really understanding where Anneelicious is coming from with this. Also see she took me up on the 6 world challenge I set her. Nice one, thanks! :)

Being reminded to get back to Blacknight about hosting following Grandad's hosting advice.

Wishing I was in San Francisco so I could go to this. The necessary $200 - $25,000 is secondary.

Reading @conoro's review of the Nokia N95 8Gb. I have one. I never knew it could do so much.

Thanks as well to @CiaranR for the tips re other software via Twitter

and while we're on the subject, @Ina just pointed me towards this video

how cool is this? (check out her blog)

Discovering a new blog called TheAngryHedgehog.

And not blogging (yet) about

  • The launch of Cinemagic and the film Summer of the Flying Saucer
  • The art exhibition I was at recently in the Cobblestone, Smithfield
  • The Vodafone Bright New Sounds night (but Darren did)
  • Why PJ Gallagher thinks people on Bebo are just a bit strange
  • Sushi in Leopardstown and in Ranelagh - yum yum
  • How Madonna made me realise I'm getting old
  • Why blogging is like being an Antartic Explorer
  • Maser's Art, I Love Lamp and other things I've seen
  • The FM104 gig I was at and didn't like
  • Photos I've taken that should have been great but really, really weren't
  • Winning tickets to see Super Extra Bonus Party thanks to Nialler9
  • Random shots of Letterkenny (though there's some here)
And loads of other stuff. I have to do some work sometime you know! Now, what YouTube video was I looking at?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Well I suppose I did ask for it

I love postcards. I pick up a lot of the free ones in town (and I'm delighted to see that the people behind a lot of them, The Picture Works, have a blog - go visit) and I share them, I send them or just store them. The ones from "new" places go on the fridge.

When the ever lovely Ellybabes told me she was off to Arizona recently I cheekily asked for a postcard - after all, I don't have any from there. So when I got home to find this envelope waiting for me, I had an idea of what was in it...

true to her word, there were postcards from her travels

including Arizona

Arizona by night

a lovely shot of the Houses of Parliament in London

and then, just at the end, there were


Guess which ones won't be going on the fridge?

How to react? What to say? Well, like any good blogger, all I can do is post and say thanks :D

and then be careful what I choose for her 30th Birthday on May 6...

Congratulations to blogger-author Fiona McPhillips

It's great to see bloggers getting their books published. Knowing how much work goes into a post, never mind a book, I can only admire and respect the hard work, the dedication and the time and energy that's spent.

Following posts by Damien Mulley and by Twenty Major about the launch of Fiona McPhillip's book and seeing as I was on Grafton Street anyways, I dropped into Dubray Books on the way home.

I'll openly admit that I'm not 'exactly' the target market for the book, entitled 'TTC: Trying to Conceive - The Irish Couple’s Guide', given that I'm missing at least one of the vital components - a partner. However, the book, from the read I've given it on the bus home is a fascinating insight into a world I knew nothing about.

Fiona's own story is impressive. From her blog over at makingbabies.ie:

Since giving birth to her son in 2003, she has had three rounds of Clomid, three IUIs, two IVFs and has suffered six miscarriages. She is currently pregnant for the eighth time and is counting the days until she gets to meet her daughter.
The back reads "As Ireland's baby boom reaches child-bearing age, one couple in six is seeking help to have a baby. It is estimated that this figure will rise to one in four over the next twenty years".


With chapters including "Factors affecting sperm quality", "Looking for information online", "Common medical conditions - for men", "Unexplained infertility - for both partners", "Advice for family and friends", "Looking after each other" and then a compassionate, practical section on Dealing with Miscarriage, this isn't by any means a book just for women, I can see how an awful lot of people will benefit from this.

And this was borne through at the launch last night. I didn't want to take too many photos but one could only stand in awe as parent after parent, forum users, blog readers and admirers came to thank Fiona, to give a big hug, to introduce their children and to buy the book. This was real community and this was great evidence of a blog and blogger making a difference in people's lives.

Being adopted by parents who couldn't have children and being all too aware of the emotional and psychological burdens that can happen on both sides from this gives me a personal perspective on the whole thing.

While I passionately support the change in Irish adoption laws to cut the waiting time and allow more people to adopt, I can only wish any couple going through any pregnancy process - or indeed any addition to the family process - the best of luck.

The time, energy and emotions spent to have a child through fertilisation seem as much work - and expense - as the gruelling adoption process and ultimately, given that the child is wanted and will be loved, as commendable and praise worthy.

I have the distinct honour of getting Fiona's first signed book of the evening. Fiona, thank you for your welcome of me, just a random blogger who wanted to support you and say well done. (Sorry I hijacked you!) I was so impressed at the genuine warmth and affection all the fans and supporters there had for you and while I may not be an active contributor, I'm certainly going to check out your blog a lot more.

The website and blog is a fantastic resource as Mulley has pointed out with a forum, recommended sites and help for couples, their friends and family. You can read more about the chapters of the book here.

Best of luck Fiona! You deserve it :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Iron Man is fluffy!

Yes it's true. Iron Man is fluffy. (Thank you Damien!) And yes you can have tickets for free, gratis and for nothing. Well, almost. You have to read the below first.

One of the festivals I'm looking forward to working with and attending this year is the Cinemagic Festival, or to give it its proper title:

The Coca-Cola Cinemagic Film & Television Festival for Young People in association with Spencer Dock
It's on from April 23 to May 1 in various venues around Dublin and the festival programme promises a vast array of films, masterclasses with film and television professionals, workshops for schools, Q&A's and more, all of which aim to entertain, motivate and create opportunities for young people aged from 4 to 25.

We put some of the competitions live on the Vodafone Live! portal earlier today (that's the interweb on your mobile, like), including family tickets to see new Irish film 'Summer of the Flying Saucer' directed by acclaimed Irish filmmaker Martin Duffy.

X Factor host Dermot O' Leary will officially open the festival which starts at Movies@Dundrum, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin on Wednesday 23 at 1830 with the premiere.

The young cast and crew from the film including Robbie Sheehan, Dan Colley and Joanne Kiernan will also be in attendance and will answer questions from the audience after the screening.

You can download the full festival programme here.

Personally the other screenings I'm looking forward to are:

Vexille - a Japanese CGI anime film witten, directed and edited by Fumihiko Sori. That's on Monday 28 at 7.00pm in Cineworld.

Pan's Labyrinth - the Guillermo del Toro film returns to the big sceen. That's on Friday 25 at 7.00pm at Movies@Dundrum.

MONSTERS INC is showing on Saturday 26 April at 2pm at Movies@Dundrum. The Wizard of OZ is showing in the same place and day at 7.00pm

Amélie is on Sunday 27 April at 7pm in Movies@Dundrum. I think this was the first film I went to the cinema alone a few times to see.

Other films being shown include Artic Tale, Donnie Darko (Tues 29, 6.30pm, Cineworld), Toy Story, The Last King of Scotland, Jaws, The Kite Runner and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

One of the cool things I think (and I wish I could go!) are the Masterclasses on from April 23 to May 1.
A must for young people (aged 13- 25) wishing to follow a career in the media industry are the insightful Cinemagic masterclasses taking place in Spencer Dock, The Mill Theatre and Filmbase.

They include Television Presenting with Laura Woods and Dermot O’ Leary, Acting with Rachel Kavanagh, Matt Littler, Darren Jeffries and Chris Rankin, Directing with Dave Caffrey, Television & Music Production with Ned O’ Hanlon, and a class with the Casting Director Ros Hubbard.
So it all looks really good, eh? Really great to see events like this in Dublin (and Ireland) bringing film to younger audiences. Check out their website.

Oh yes, Iron Man. Well, it's on Thursday May 1 at 7pm in Cineworld, Parnell Street, Dublin 1 and for tickets please just leave a comment. I can then let you know. I can't promise unfortunately but will do my best for you. :) I've already reached my allocation but remember You can also buy the tickets for €7.00 by booking on www.cinemagic.ie

Please note that it is WAS first come, first served.

Can't ask for more than that, can you? :) A big thanks to Claire from Cinemagic for offering the tickets :-)

(Don't forget Movies.ie and Rick are offering tickets to the premiere the night before.)

Platelet donations help people with cancer

One of the great things about my job is

What do you mean, what's my job?

Oh, right. Well, that's fair, I spose! I'm currently with Vodafone Ireland working on their mobile portal. You know. The interweb on your phone. When you click the little red button on your Vodafone phone, like. Well I help do that.

Anyways, one of the great things about it is that I get to work on doing interesting things in a new way - bringing things to people's attention that they may not otherwise have known about.

The whole mobile web (thanks in part to people like Pat Phelan) is certainly an interesting area to be working in. It's bringing information to people in a way they've never had it before.

Like the current Platelet donation campaign taking place for the Irish Blood Transfusion Board and the Irish Cancer Society. Jazzbiscuit has also highlighted it.

Can you help with a platelet donation?

Platelets are small blood cells present in the blood of all healthy people. They are essential to enable blood to clot properly.

Platelets are needed every day in hospitals around Ireland. They are an essential part of treatment for many patients suffering from leukemia or cancer, patients who need bone marrow transplants and sometimes new born babies.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service and Irish Cancer Society are asking you to help with platelet donations for sick patients.

They also invite you to help them pass on information about platelets to people who may be able to donate.

Donation is simple, taking on average 45-70 minutes. In this short time a donor can help save up to three lives.

How do they collect platelets for transfusion?

In a process called apheresis, the donor's blood is passed through a special cell separator machine which extracts the platelets from the blood. The red cells and the plasma go straight back to the donor.

The whole process takes apparently between 45 and 70 minutes. The process uses the most modern technology to meet the growing need for platelet transfusions.

I've taken some of this text from the campaign running on Vodafone Live! All the FAQs are here.

Is this a safe procedure for the donor?

Yes, it is very safe. We ensure that donors have plenty of platelets to spare before the donation begins. Your body replaces all the platelets that you've given within a few days.

It is impossible to catch any viral infection by donating platelets or blood. We use a new sterile set (needle and tubing) for each donor. Sets are never re-used.

What is involved in platelet donation?

Donations take place at the National Blood Centre, James Street, Dublin 8 and at the Munster Regional Transfusion Centre, St. Finbarr's Hospital Cork. Normally we ask that you donate every month.

During the donation process you can watch television, read, or just relax. Once the donation process is complete you will be fit to resume your normal activities.

Who can become a platelet donor?

If you:

  1. donated blood successfully in the last two years
  2. are blood group O, A, or B
  3. are between 18 and 59 years old
  4. weigh over 9 stone 7lbs (60kg)
you may be eligible to become a platelet donor.

So here's what you can do.

Tell someone. Anyone. Everyone.

We all know someone affected with cancer. My dad is not long after his latest stay in St Luke's Hospital. Barretstown is gearing itself up for its summer of helping children with cancer and serious blood illnesses. Laura blogs about living with leukaemia at Distant Rambler.

This can make a difference.

Text platelet to 53377 for more information.

Check the IBTS website on http://www.ibts.ie.

If you live in Cork and are interested in finding out more please contact Rachel on 021 480 7430.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vikings at the National Museum

Following a tweet on Twitter by the lovely Laura (@Czajkowski) I checked out the Viking Event at the National Museum at Collins Barracks recently. I didn't know what to expect at all, but it was all rather wonderful!

I saw fellas fighting

That big boat in the background is the Sea Stallion. There'll be talks on it soon.

Some of the vikings were a bit more modern than you'd expect...

Wouldn't fancy wearing this to go hurling

But some of the other stuff looked really interesting

I discovered a passion for weapon design I didn't know I had. Some of the designs were very intricate

Just look at the detail on this spear

The weapons viking, Eryk (what else could it be?) had interesting rings

and many Thor Hammers for luck in battle

I reckon he'd easily have damaged me...

I went to have a look at the decorative elements on display

The intricacy of the designs was amazing, and all based on ancient types

We met a viking youth (fascinated with the vacuum cleaner he was)

and we learned all about the different herbs and spices used for dying clothes

For example green and yellow came from straw and tumeric

It was a pity I didn't go in earlier or on the Sunday like Laura because there was a lot more to see. Will tells me it's the guys and gals from livinghistory.ie that put this on - all very knowledgeable, personable and friendly. Really made the day worth it.

On April 26 in the National Museum at Kildare Street there's another Viking exhibition. Would highly recommend it.

Thanks for the heads up Laura. We had fun :)