Roxanne Shante

Remember Roxanne Shante? Proper old skool b-girl. ‘Have a nice day’ was permanently in the 7″ pocket of my record bag. Back then she was only a 15 year old single mother from Queens, so a record label offered her an education as part of her contract. Well she not only took them up on the offer – she milked them for every penny, and now she’s a Doctor of psychology. Excellent!

Have a nice day

Who needs a royalty check?

Few Rome photos

We were over in Rome last weekend and were surprised to come across a red Trevi Fountain. Only looking it up now, though it was big news in Italy that night. Here’s an article in the Telegraph, apparently it was a futurist artist.

The red Trevi Fountain.

A panoramic shot, stitching together 5 shots in photoshop is no fun when you haven’t used a tripod.

Caravaggio - The Calling of Saint Matthew
Caravaggio – The Calling of Saint Matthew (Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi)

Great Leonardo exhibition. Wasn’t allowed to take any photos after this but it contained recreations of lots of his machines.

Obligatory, silly tourist photo. Saves money sticking your head through a hole when there are plenty of headless statues around.


Shantaram is one of those books that kept pestering me until I decided to read it. In the space of one week I heard three different people say how amazing it was. And then I started to hear little bits of legend, like how the author, Gregory David Roberts, had to write it three times because prison guards kept destroying it. I still held back, I bought it as a Christmas present for someone else, read the back of it, then handed it over. But the same person had also bought me Shantaram for Christmas! So there it was. Read me! Read me! Read me Read me!

I loved the start of it, so all’s well that starts well. Not really. I found it changed drastically as it went on. It actually took me a while to realise what had changed, and then I noticed that I really missed Prabaker, one of the characters at the start of the book. Prabaker made me laugh out loud a lot. And that’s what was missing. Now it’s not supposed to be a comedy but it was seriously lacking any sense of humour towards the end and got very serious. And then it really kicked in, the serious, manly, testosterone filled bollox that bores the me death in books, films, and BLOKES I know who think it’s big, clever and impressive to be big and manly. Yawn. I loved it when he lived in the slum, and then in a small indian village but I got seriously bored when he joined the mafia and went on to fight some pointless war in the name of manliness.

My second critiscism is on the philosophy of the book. I’m not going to completely knock it. Some of it is written with great charm, and some of it even made good sense but a lot of it was schoolboy philosophy, complete boloxology. You cannot assess situations by stretching their components to the uttermost extremeties, and taking the outcome to be comparitive to any point on the path. Example: say you’re wondering if you’re better off running from the bus to your house when it’s lashing rain. Thinking in extremities would lead you to think that if you ran at 1000 miles an hour, then you’d spend so little time in the rain that you wouldn’t get wet at all. So you’re always better off running in the rain, right? No. Bollox. It doesn’t work like that. And most people have figured that out by the time their acne is dissapearing. You cannot judge by extremeties alone. Degrees of magnitude vary the outcome. Yet this extremism is the core of the book’s philosophy, dressed up in the form of a wise religious leader, who in turn inherited this knowledge from his wise and honourable master. We’re not just talking about two blokes in the pub. This nonsense is supposed to come from generations of very wise and learned people, but because it’s such playground philosophy, its a big let down to the book.

Another thing that bothered me is the whole ‘Is it truth is it fiction?’ thing. It’s a mixture of both, and that never left my head, I never knew what I was reading and I found that very distracting.

Right…. whenever I start giving out about something like this so much, I start thinking ‘Who am I to give out?’ ‘What have I written?’ but the truth is if I did write books I wouldn’t dream of criticising other books. But whatever (Dude), I spent long enough reading it, so I’m going to say my thang. Though I don’t think I even meant to start out writing a bad review, I did love lots of it, and most of it is really well written (though there is quite a bit of purple prose too, oops, there I go again). Gregory David Roberts, obviously had an absolutely fascinating life, and Shantaram is a fascinating read, just be prepared for the different parts of the book to be quite different and decide if it bothers you or not if you don’t know whether you’re reading fact or fiction. Oh, there was another good thing I forgot, like many others no doubt; Shantaram is a love story, a story of a man falling in love with a country, and I too, fell in love with India and its people while reading Shantaram, and it’s definitely on the big list of places I want to see before I die.

Blog roll

It’s about time I got with the program and added a blogroll. So here’s most of the blogs I read in my feedreeder. If you don’t use a feedreeder, get with the program! Why go to the post office to get your letters, when you’ve got a postman to bring them to you. If you have a gmail account, the easiest thing to do is go to, and start subscribing to feeds. Or any blog or webpage just look out for a feed icon. If you want to see RSS explained further, here’s a simple video. Subscribe to my feed here.

Anyway, here’s most of the blogs that I’ve get in my feedreader & added to my blogroll…

Irish blogs

Annie Rhiannon

Just everyday comings and goings of a girl called Annie but I like her style. A very witty kitty.
And if you’re a movie buff check out Annie get your gun too.


Great photo blog, with the occasional insight into good photography tips and techniques.

Damien Mulley

Mostly technology news, which I don’t follow that much to be honest but there are lots of other interesting bits and bobs of fluff.

Twenty Major

Twenty mostly makes up stories about his imaginary mates and there’s also lots of good old down to earth rants about the idiots that live in and run this country.

Web design

Smashing magazine

This really is a great resource to subscribe to if you’ve any interest in web design. Lots of practical tips, advice and downloads.

A list apart

the first place to look for industry standard techniques. The regular features are great but it’s taken second place in my favourite web resources. Smashing magazine is just that bit more useful and to the point.

The designed tree

I’ve already given this a mention. The designed tree is an Irish based blog featuring well designed sites from around the world.

The Menace

Good Irish Web design blog, occasionally outing some of the many web design cowboys on the go at the moment. And I love the blog header.



If you haven’t checked out yet do it now. Play with some playthings and watch some videos. Then you’re allowed to have a look at his blog. Did I tell you how good his live show was?

Turning off colour for Blog action day!

To save the amount of power it takes to colour your monitor, I’ve turned the colour off in your browser window. Erm, it won’t work in a feedreader etc, you need to actually come to and hit refresh.


Normal service is now resumed. This site looked like the image below for one day. I’m sure I saved a million Megawatts in energy. Just like blackle.

SIFR V Dropdowns

I’ve thrown in the towel on trying to get Sifr headings to appear behind my dropdowns. I’d prefer to have plain old text headings and be able to navigate the site thanks very much. Sifr and z-index just don’t want to co-operate with each other. Sifr has caused mucho headaches anytime I’ve tried to use it. I have used it on a lot of sites to do nice headers but I have spent so much time trouble-shooting with it, that the acronym just gives me a bad taste in my mouth now. I’d rather never use it again.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Book cover

It must be great to be such an established writer that you can just write about your [normal] childhood and know it will sell. But deservedly so. Bryson is such an entertaining writer with a great turn of phrase and the kind of genuinely funny writing that can catch you off guard. Several times I came as close to laughing out loud on public transport as I’m likely to, which admittedly for my quiet self, translates into a barely audible snort.

I found a memoir of growing up in 60s america strangely nostalgic for a son of 80s dublin but in essence it’s just boys being boys, climbing trees, sneaking into cinemas, trying to outsmart vending machines and doing everything we can think of to see girl’s bits.

I also completely forgot how fascinated and in in awe of America I was growing up – bubblegum, cowboys, neon lights and a drool inducing drink that resembled our lemonade only in name. I’m sure I even loved some things that now grate on me, like loud confident voices with no sense of self or disturbance. But there’s no grating in The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. it’ll surely warm your cockles.