Aesop’s Fables Oct05

Aesop’s Fables

I recently bought a collection of Aesop’s Fables for a few euro somewhere. It’s got the hare and the tortoise on the cover and the tortoise, without looking behind him, seems to be able to sense the hare’s presence. His neck is outstretched and his mouth is tight; he wants to win alright and hasn’t had a rest. “I’ve worked too hard for this to let it slip from my grasp,” he appears to think. The hare is alarmed, his ears drawn back, his body stretched out, his eyes alert. He knows he’s been complacent. He thought he had it in the bag as it were. He had over-extended himself, if only in his imagination, too early in the race, oddly enough by having a sleep. Now he’s really under pressure. It’s reminiscent of another Fable, that of the Astronomer who goes about at night looking up at the stars in wonder and not looking where he’s going. Inevitably he falls down a well and a stranger appears at the top of the well and says to him, “Why, in striving to pry into heaven, do you not see what is on earth?” I thought about all the money we spend on exploration of space and on self-driving cars and Presidential dinners when there are so many more deserving causes like homing people and feeding the starving children of the world. Why are we always reaching for things that are far away and reflecting on how great we are when we manage to reach them when, within our grasp and without too much effort or ingenuity, we could help those who need help now? There’s a fable for every occasion, it seems. In that of The Hart and the Vine, a hart is chased...

Open Night 2018 Sep20

Open Night 2018

1.  Go ahead, judge a book by its cover. What does it look like? It’s got an elephant on it and he’s jumping in the air only he’s wearing pyjamas and he’s got a cigar in his mouth. There’s a lot of yellow behind him and you think first it’s the sun but it’s actually an enormous orange and it’s rolling toward him and the book is called Get Out! Get Out Now! 2. You’re having lunch with a friend. Your friend gets a call in the middle of the meal. Write down your friends part of the conversation. Yes I gladly go with you there is a brilliant movie in! Yo’ll go That’s great I’ll look forward to seeing you at eight. see ya there! 3. The general manager of the New York Yankees’ personal to do list LOSE TO THE RED SOX!!!!!!! 4. Write a bucket list for your favourite superhero Die Eat Drink Walk (optional) run 5. Describe an eccentric person in action. Mr. Wilson threw a basketball at my cat then splashed me with holy water and mooed at me. He then proceeded to yell a story about Jesus fighting Donald Trump. 6. Write an ode to an onion. Oh dearest onion, You are so fun-ion, You have many layers, Not that I care!...

The media and the way they handle shootings by Michael Keohane Sep03

The media and the way they handle shootings by Michael Keohane...

I’ll begin by saying that unlike many I understand that most news is biased. It’s an unavoidable fact of life and something I’ve learned to live with. That said, regardless of the political allegiances of  news companies, the way that they handle mass shootings (and smaller ones) is just purely idiotic. I am, admittedly, pro gun. I think that they are a good thing to have in society. Contrary to what many might believe, that does not mean that I love mass shootings. I despise them and their perpetrators. Chances are that I care about shootings that happen in the U.S more than most liberals do. My solution just happens not to be banning firearms in the U.S. There is, however, one thing that really annoys me about news networks’ coverage of mass shootings and that is the way that they handle the perpetrators. This is a problem for both conservative and liberal news agencies. I get that news of the tragedy must be spread, that’s fairly obvious. What is unnecessary, however, is plastering the name of the shooter all over your network and website etc. I don’t know the names of any mass shooters and if I did I would refrain from saying them. Why? Because that’s what they want us to do. People go on rampages because they have nothing left. They want to be remembered for good or for bad. So why in God’s name would you go around making the shooter a rockstar for several weeks, or even years in some cases? This is a problem for both liberal and conservative news networks, but I see it on liberal networks more often. It’s truly ironic, wanting to stop mass shootings and then granting the final wish of the very people...

Angry Rant from an Angry Man by Jason Scully Nov28

Angry Rant from an Angry Man by Jason Scully...

Hello and welcome to an angry rant from an angry man. You’re certainly in for a treat on this day of days because you can now be battered brutally over the head by none other than me, the most petty person you will ever have the honour of meeting and I will argue to the death with anyone who disagrees to even the slightest degree with that sentiment. Now that I’ve managed to turn even my intro into a rant in its own right we can now start raving about today’s topic. Alrighty, I wanted to talk about video games, then movies, then books, then music and then TV but I realised that they all share the same problem that makes them all equally crap in my eyes and so it begins, the quest for me, through my pointless rantings, to educate you on the one thing that is ruining not one but several multi-billion dollar industries. Now the non-super high IQ Rick and Morty fans in the audience may be wondering, “How can you claim to know what’s ruining literally all of modern-day media?” Surely if you do then the people in Hollywood who stand to make millions off such a revelation would act on it, and you’re a kid on the internet typing an essay at midnight because you drink too much coffee. And you’re right, but what if I told you that there lies both parts of the same problem that has been killing media since the 1980’s. (Ya see what I did there? Yes I know it wasn’t very funny, why don’t you try writing this?) Part 1: You’re part of The Problem., Most people don’t have a firm grasp on what makes modern art in media “good,”yet like those...

Open Night 2017 Sep21

Open Night 2017

                                                                         something more you’d like to know about “History.”           (Jason Foley)                                                           Imagine yourself being eight years old. what would you tell yourself. “Be nice to people.” “I’m eight years old” (Hugh)                                                                                   what’s the worst nightmare you  remember. “Vegetables.”           (Michael Buckley) something more you’d like to know about “Life.” last thing you’d want to do in life  “Jump off the Empire State building!”    (Gene)                                                                        what you ate for breakfast “Cornflakes.” “I ate cornflakes”                                                                              your best birthday “2014 when I got a trampoline.”                (Gavin) your favourite hiding spot “Under with the blanket covering the sides.”    (Liam Cassidy)        ...

Watch This Now! “Live From Daryl’s House” Aug23

Watch This Now! “Live From Daryl’s House”...

It probably happened by accident. I couldn’t have known quite how good things could get. My memory of it is this: I happened upon a YouTube tutorial on how to set up an electric guitar given by Joe Walsh. “Setting up” a guitar means servicing it so that it’s ready to play and will perform reliably. I knew this guy. Where’ve I’ve seen him before? He’s some ageing rocker who speaks with a  slight slur. Wasn’t there something about a career of drug abuse and near-death experiences? I think curiosity led me to his performances on a show hosted by Daryl Hall of whom I was only peripherally aware theretofore. He was half of one of the most successful songwriting duos of all time, Hall and Oates, who’ve had a plethora of their own hits and have written for other people too. They did “Out of Touch,” “Maneater,” “Private Eyes” and “Sara Smile.” There is a lot more. It turns out Joe Walsh was in TheEagles for about a decade until the band spit up. He’d had success before that with James Gang and some solo stuff. When The Eagles broke up he spent about fifteen years drinking heavily (vodka) and taking drugs (cocaine). His other vice was Camel Light cigarettes. And here he was in a room with Daryl Hall on YouTube playing songs from his new album like “Wrecking Ball” (a welcome rival to Miley Cyrus) and old ones like “Funk #49” (a must listen for anyone but especially for fans of guitar). It wasn’t all about Joe. Daryl Hall invites people to come and play, some legendary artists and lesser-known ones. They all get in a room and they play. It’s a simple formula but utterly compelling. There’s the talent for...

Manchester United? Jun06

Manchester United?

There’s a lot today about the Manchester bomb. The Irish Times carries front-page photos of two pretty young girls, Saffie Rose Roussos (8) and Georgina Callander (18) who were both murdered by the suspected bomber, twenty-two year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi, “a Manchester-born son of Libyan refugees.” Simon Carswell writes of how Nadia Abdulmalek and Deborah Henley “embraced and cried among a crowd of thousands at Manchester Town Hall at a vigil” even though culturally they are very different. Donald Trump called the bomber a “loser.” Fintan O’Toole writes that “mass murder is easy and the more outrageous it is the easier it gets. Flesh is soft and easily shredded. Lives are fragile and easily shattered. Decency, humanity, compassion are flimsy and precarious. The barriers that separate earth from hell and civilization from barbarism are porous and full of holes…” “Porous and full of holes”? The editorial says that “even by the standards of the decade…[Manchester] was an atrocity of singular, unspeakable cruelty.” (Goggy used to pronounce it “cruelity” with an added syllable.) Britain, it goes on, “must again confront two grim realities: that the threat of indiscriminate atrocities has become a regular feature of daily life in the world’s major cities, and that free societies cannot entirely eliminate that threat without undermining the very freedoms that define them.” I’m reminded of something Solzenitsyn wrote about America, something about why there was so much (or any) joy and triumph. I’m thinking of The Proud Tower too and how more than a century ago the people we now called Islamic terrorists were known as Anarchists and hoped to changed society or undo it altogether with a single deed, one that would initiate a further series of earth-shattering events and a total realignment of forces and structures....

The face of evil? The Rosenberg Executions Jun06

The face of evil? The Rosenberg Executions...

I’m reading the death sentence handed down to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg by Judge Irving Kaufman in April 1951. The Rosenbergs were accused of spying, of passing nuclear secrets to the Russians. The judge argues that, by his own admission, Julius Rosenberg got a better and fairer trial in America than he could have hoped for in Russia. This galls Kaufman who says that “It is to America’s credit that it took the pains and exerted the effort which it did in the trial.” Still, the defendants devoted themselves to “the Russian ideology of denial of God, denial of the sanctity of the individual, and aggression against free men everywhere.” No wonder then that Judge Kaufman considers the crime for which the Rosenbergs are about to be sentenced to death “worse than murder.” After all, as he argues, “Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed.” The charges expand as he speaks, getting so large as to blame the Rosenbergs for the death toll (at that stage 50,000) in the Korean War: “I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea.” And it gets worse because “who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason.”   Julius and Ethel Rosenberg went to the electric chair in June 1953. Before they died they wrote letters to each other, to their children. In one letter Julius wrote to his sons Michael and Robert. To Michael he wrote: “I want to tell you that I am confident in the end we will be set free...

My Feelings About Cheese Mar22

My Feelings About Cheese...

My feelings about cheese aren’t straight-forward and why should they be? Who amongst the general populace, least of all vegans perhaps, could feel utterly secure in eating what is the animal equivalent of breast milk? And yet, despite the fact that cheese is exactly this, it is a most popular food stuff, eaten every day by myriad people and in a dizzying array of forms. One can’t help referencing Borat here where he asks the unsuspecting store attendant “What is this?” The answer of course is “Cheese.” But he keeps on asking anyway despite the iron predictability of the answer. The reason he is able to ask repeatedly without seeming to be too unreasonable is because of how many types of cheese there are. The display must be thirty feet long and there is row upon row of cheese products with different packaging, different applications, different demographics. One can easily imagine that there is the block of cheese for the man or maybe the no-nonsense single adult who likes to wield and knife and who enjoys eating chunks of cheese, to choose his own width of slice you might say. You know there’s going to be the sliced cheese with the robust and rigid and wholly wasteful plastic packaging for the mother of two who hasn’t time to slice the cheese for her little darlings and who can never judge the appropriate width of slice anyway. The sliced cheese is also directed I suspect squarely at the lover of the toasted sandwich. Then there’s the grated cheese, I mean the stuff that’s grated for you. This is for the pizza makers, the hipsters. Very few eat the grated stuff in fistfuls while you can well imagine plenty of people enjoying a slice – whether...

THE DEPLORABLE DAMNATION OF THE MODERN LUNCHEONING MAN by Cian Morey Mar22

THE DEPLORABLE DAMNATION OF THE MODERN LUNCHEONING MAN by Cian Morey...

One of my few solemn and unwavering beliefs is that mankind has never been graced with a greater stroke of genius than The Ham Sandwich. In 200,000 years of – for want of a better word – life, the human race has accomplished nothing approaching the culinary creativity, the artistic acumen or the sheer splendid simplicity of that most cherished foodstuff. It is (in short) the ideal intersection of all the efficiency, economy and ease that modern life necessitates, and the rich, rewarding rapture that fine dining bestows, sprinkled throughout with just a little dash of getting the job done and filling you up damn well for the rest of the good old diem until you get your literal teeth into the next one. Fast, functional and fairly fully flavouricious, It has never once let us down. Woe betide, ladies and gentlemen, were we ever to find ourselves bereft of the good work of The Ham Sandwich, woe betide. Unfortunately, we find ourselves increasingly bereft of the good work of The Ham Sandwich. It must be realised here that the crisis in question has been steadily simmering toward an eruption for years. This is not a sudden, unstoppable catastrophe; this is rather the minimum point of a gradual plunge in global standards that society not only failed to prevent but actively encouraged. Even I allowed this plague to fester under my not-inconsiderable nose for too long without taking notice or action. We are all to blame for the downfall of The Ham Sandwich, and this is a tragic truth up to which we must face if we are to make any vertical progress out of the whacking big hole we’ve so effectively eaten ourselves into. Allow me to illustrate this approaching apocalypse with a...

OUR ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A Few Words On 2016 by Cian Morey Jan01

OUR ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A Few Words On 2016 by Cian Morey...

At last. Rarely if ever will the words “Happy New Year” be uttered with such genuine goodwill as they are now, as the world bids good riddance to 2016. In decades to come, grandchildren will flock to the feet of their fireside elders to lap up the legends of “the year it all went wrong”. Poems will be penned; songs will be sung; the history books of the future will look back on all this, say, “So yeah, that happened” and skip sheepishly on to the next twelve months. 2016 was literally the most hated year of the century. I’m reluctant to talk about this as a sort of detached, omniscient narrator declaring all manner of things like, “Meanwhile in the Cincinnati Zoo, Death was making yet another guerrilla strike”.  This year has had a deeper effect than that on most of us. But I’m also reluctant to get too personal, as too many of us already have. God’s landline isn’t in the Golden Pages (trust me, I’ve looked) and no amount of screaming down the sidebars of Facebook can change a single thing. Maybe a sort of analysis, then. Not a bland police report, not a bloodbath. A case-study, if you will. Who knows? Maybe 2016 can teach us one or two things. Politically, most people would find some way to agree that the last twelve months didn’t exactly cut the proverbial mustard. From our current perspective in our new post-Obama world, it might be hard to remember just how hopeless it all felt back in February’s General Election, when we thought we had seen the worst of it with the prospect of a Gerry Adams-led Ireland. Ha. The latter half of 2016 began with the bloody end of a reasonably steady period...

From Jack to Jack by Jack Kelleher Dec02

From Jack to Jack by Jack Kelleher...

Dear Jack (age 18) I want to be ready to go to college to study business technology. When I am eighteen, technology will be an even bigger part of everyday life than it is now.  When I finish my degree, I want to progress to an M.B.A. Then I would love to venture into the vast open world out there, and set up my company here in Ireland and eventually go global.  I would then become a millionaire. I suspect you may not believe me but you will see. I read a great quote from Eric Thomas: “When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful.” If I was given a magic wand I would make it much easier and more accessible for people with these so-called learning difficulties to access assistive technology. I do not like to categorise people in such a way; I like to refer to them as people who have a different style of learning. I would also provide courses to help people to use this technology. This will allow people who learn differently to reach their potential. Yes, people might say, “Why don’t you just take away their learning difficulty?” but if we were all the same we would get nowhere in life.   From Jack Kelleher (aged...

Afterword to the First Year Flash Fiction Competition by Cian Morey...

There once was a man called William Cuthbert Faulkner, whose writing was almost as deep and meaningful as his moustache. He was a man who liked to say things as they were, with no frilly bits thrown in to make it sound more interesting. He just smoked a pipe to give himself some much-needed gravitas instead. Faulkner dealt in the simple facts of life. This was one of them: “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” Now, Faulkner lived way back in the first half of the 20th century when things like meaningful moustaches and pipe-smoking were commonplace. Some might claim that he would be thoroughly out of place today. But his writing is relevant even now, and Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh’s first Flash Fiction Competition for 1st Years has proven that. When we launched this competition, we knew that there was a story in each and every 1st Year, even if they didn’t know it themselves. Our job, on behalf of the moustachioed Faulkner, was to find away to “get it to come out”. And to our delight, the response to the competition was overwhelming. We received over two dozen excellent submissions in total, all of an exceptionally high quality, across a wonderfully wide range of themes and genres from clowns to inept house burglars, from malicious Weetabix to stranded children. It was a joy and a privilege to read them all, and a great challenge to decide on the three best. In the end, though, the decision was finally made. The three prize-winning stories are available to read on this very website. But it wouldn’t be right to just leave the competition with such an abrupt end as that. At CloudofThink, we encourage both writing and learning. The great thing...

Open Night 2016 Sep22

Open Night 2016

The end of the world The Apocalypse (anonymous) I was walking down an alley at the side road to my school when I saw something, a flashing green light. I walked up to it. It was what looked like a mine bomb. It was labelled “The End of the World”. (Ross McCarthy)   Your dream vacation My dream vacation is to go to Africa so I can see the wildlife and safari parks. (Ryan Durkan) My dream vacation is to go to Hawaii and go to all the beaches, go swimming and go to a hotel. (Kate)   A lie you told and got away with I broke my brush at home and I hid it under the shed and I got away with it for a week. 🙂 Ha. Ha. Ha. (Leah Durkan.) My name is Billy. (Niall)   Describe one of your bad habits and why you secretly get joy out of it Biting my nails (anonymous)   What’s the stupidest thing you used to believe whole-heartedly? I used to believe that I had two imaginary friends called Kevin and Arnold who lived in Mexico. (Luke Cremin) I thought in 3rd class that I had too much homework.  (Brendan Mee)   Explain the off-side rule If you are behind the last defender when the ball is played then you are off-side. (David Byrne)   The glow of success I like this school but more importantly… Messi is the best player in the world. He has won five ‘Ballon d’Ors.’ He is better than Ronaldo. (Troyo Romith)   That snappy reply I never had a chance to say I think golf is stupid; it’s up there with the ‘Ban the Wheel’ campaign!   My hopes for the future A happy life, a good...

This is an essay by Cian Morey Sep03

This is an essay by Cian Morey...

I don’t write essays. I don’t write crosswords in pencil either. “Desperate times” etc. * ‘Mr Morey,’ I hear you ask, ‘why are you so resistant to the idea of “the essay?”’ ‘Ah,’ I reply, ‘I’m glad you asked that, because I was going to answer it for you anyway whether you liked it or not. My reasoning is quite simple – I don’t know what they are.’ ‘But Mr Morey,’ I hear you inquire, ‘how could you have no knowledge of so common a style as “the essay?”’ ‘Ah,’ I suavely reciprocate, ‘it is not that I have no knowledge; it is that I have too much.’ ‘But Mr Morey!’ I hear you tempestuously expostulate. ‘How can there be such a thing as “too much knowledge?” Surely there is no limit to learning!’ ‘Ah,’ I ratiocinatively riposte, ‘that, my eager but obtuse friend, is where you are gravely mistaken.’ Knowledge, you see, is an excellent thing when it builds on previous knowledge. You learn one thing, and then you learn another, and the second adds something to the first. Step by step, your information becomes more advanced. Knowledge is not an excellent thing, however, when it builds beside previous knowledge. If you learn one thing, and then you learn the same thing again in a different way, you have still learned only one thing. Step by step, your information becomes more confused, but no more advanced at all. Consider the way in which I just wrote the words “ask” and “reply” in increasingly elaborate forms. By the time I arrive at “ratiocinatively riposte”, three things have happened to the reader: They are now 100% certain that I am the most linguistically intelligent man alive. They have now learned how to write two ridiculously...

Roger Casement’s Bones Aug09

Roger Casement’s Bones...

It was one of those coincidences that happens to me every so often I think because I like to read. I picked up a copy of The Irish Times (Wednesday August 3rd 2016) and saw an article by Eileen Battersby: “Casement: romantic defender of the oppressed.” I knew a little about the man. He was a colourful figure, although that phrase “colourful figure” troubles me a little now as I write it. I always liked his face for some reason; it was the visage, I liked to imagine, of a man with compassion, a misunderstood man, maybe even a tormented soul. There was his involvement with the Rising of 1916, his gun-running, his subsequent arrest and execution. Hadn’t he delivered one of those masterful speeches while in the maw of destructive justice, akin to Robert Emmet? He’d served, I knew, as some kind of investigative civil servant in areas of the world still considered to be God-forsaken backwaters like Congo. His story read like a Hollywood script: a man going from being one of the Empire’s own to a wretched, traitorous homosexual with a complicated story. Battersby tells us that it’s been a hundred years since his death, “a horrible death.” He was hanged at Pentonville Prison in London at the age of 51 despite several very famous figures intervening on his behalf such as W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. Battersby predictably enough argues that his homosexuality probably didn’t help his case, being what she calls “a Victorian homosexual.” It’s hard to imagine she’s wrong. One thinks of Oscar Wilde and others who were treated shamefully because of their sexuality. Perhaps it didn’t matter that Casement was a humanitarian who exposed injustices in parts of the world most people at the time as...

Amy Winehouse Jun16

Amy Winehouse

The death of Amy Winehouse in 2011 was tragic of course; there is no “but.” It was tragic in ways that perhaps many people don’t understand. This may be because they weren’t into her music or didn’t follow her career – because those two things are not identical. If Amy showed us anything it is that her music and her public self weren’t the same though they came close to converging upon the release of Back to Black in 2006. Amy’s tragedy was twofold: firstly, it was her descent into what Elton John apparently warned John Mayer about: “the world of bullshit.” Amy was not best suited to it; she was troubled from a young age anyway and I suspect the level of talent on which she operated didn’t render her especially amenable either to what the rest of us know as ordinary life. She said herself she feared fame and defined success not in terms of money or exposure but rather the freedom to record her music as she saw fit. Her fame exploded when her troubled life became more interesting to the public than the music. This perversity is encapsulated perfectly in the song that made her a household name: Rehab. She had finally conformed to the dreaded rock ‘n’roll stereotype: she was skinny and had that “heroin chic” appeal – she looked like a drug addict; she had a destructive relationship with a drug-addicted boyfriend, later husband, Blake Fielder-Civil; she had that so-called “difficult relationship with the press” that people find so alluring; she was over-exposed, on TV all the time, “in the news,” a commodity. Her first manager, Nick Shymansky perceived that a time came when the world wanted a piece of her. He’d seen the signs of her possible self-destruction...

Cian Morey, writer May12

Cian Morey, writer

It’s my privilege to know Cian. He’s 15 but when you’ve got what we like to call “talent” (one word just doesn’t seem to contain adequately that cocktail of qualities, of enviable attributes) age doesn’t matter. Wasn’t it JFK who said that someone’s age should not necessarily factor in our assessment of them. Though we can all hope to attain greater skills and understanding with time, some – the chosen few – have it at a young age and Cian is one of those. He was published recently in “The Irish Times” (Fighting Words supplement, Wednesday, May 11th). The excerpt is from his novel “Aether.” The prose is phenomenal, dense but with a scarily ferocious energy; reading Cian’s description is like being there – no, it is being there. Take this, my favourite bit from his published excerpt: “Sinister figures stalked the alleyways; fallen women flocked in the shadows; intoxicated, boisterous brutes surged in and out of alehouses and gin mills, to stagger or brawl their way across the street. An assortment of buildings pumped an assortment of fumes into the sky from their chimneys. Silhouettes of airships and aircabs floated slowly past the lunar corona.” I know what some might say: they’ll think it’s overwrought, all that alliteration and hyperbole. But it’s like Baz Lurhmann’s movies: it’s wretched, it’s exciting, it’s lurid, it explodes with colour and darkness in equal measure and black is not a colour, technically; I bet Cian could make it so – he’d put the words to it. He’s like a conjurer in that way: “The man clasped a wine glass in his spindly hands, but I noticed that none of its contents had yet met his mouth. He stood quite still, but his eyes roved about expeditiously, settling...