Saturday, December 30, 2006

recipes for fun

hey mt, and indeed, greetings to all from snowy ontario,

kalhua is a liqueur. you can buy it anywhere that sells alcohol. comes in a brown bottle. it tastes like chocolate and is a major component in my favourite cocktail, the "white russian", with which i have been reacquainting myself frequently on this trip. i had 3 last night while on a girl's night out while my dad and brother went to see the toronto raptors v chicago bulls. they were some of the best i've ever tasted, ie the ratio of alcohol to mixer was damn near perfect.

basic recipe:
pour equal parts kahlua and vodka over ice and then add as much
ice cold fresh milk as you like. some bars serve in a highball but i prefer a whiskey tumbler. i suggest experimenting til you find the glass and dilution you prefer. this is all done in the glass, no need for a cocktail shaker.

note 1: make sure you don't put in more vodka than kalhua. this error makes it look watery and the vodka overpowers the kalhua, if in doubt and you don't have a drinks measure, be more generous with the kalhua.

note 2: this is sometimes served with cream rather than milk. the northern whig used to serve it this way. frankly i think it's disgusting as all you can taste is cream. if in any doubt, ask your bartender what their recipe is. particularly if they are cute.

point of information: this drink made with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk became known in hollywood in last couple of years as a skinny white russian, (according to heat magazine)

advanced technique:
a white russian is typically garnished with a cherry. i am rather particular, and if it's not a maraschino cherry, preferably with stem attached, i think it's a waste of time. plain cocktail cherries taste of nothing, or perhaps like plasticine. a maraschino cherry (you'll find them in jars in the supermarket) sits in the bottom of the glass and is a real treat when you drain your glass. (stemmed are better 'cause they're easier to pull out of your glass and perhaps you might even wish to tie said stem in a knot using only your tongue a la audrey horne in twin peaks (serve with equal parts seduction and coquettishness).


i always thought monopoly is a long game. but the other night i discovered the art of trading, which i had never done as a child (i reckon it's been 20 years since i last played). the game is traditionally long i think because it's not competitive enough and played 'safe' - to win you need to make your opponents run out of money and property. to do that you need monopolies so that each time they land on your 'street' with a 'hotel' they are forking out lots of rent. to make the game more exciting and faster, buy everything you land on that's available to buy and then as game progresses at the beginning of your turn you trade properties with your opponents so you build monopolies, upon which you build houses and hotels, again, as fast as possible. if everyone plays like this the board has sections where there are massive rent costs - think of them as
'rapids' in kayaking. if you are paying more rent than they are taking in they will run out of cash and have to mortgage or sell your property and eventually hit bankruptcy.
decide at the beginning of the game exactly how you will move around the two boards (we sat them with the go squares side by side) and how many times you will be passing 'go'. we stuck with only twice, ie collect $200 twice in each full journey round board) but you could increase this (to 3 times/$600 or 4 times/$800) so you collect more money with each full journey round the board. but note, the more money you are receiving from the bank the longer the game will last.

note: jail, chance, community chess, free parking (see below) are all played on the board you are on - e.g. if you land on go to jail you go to the jail on the same board. however, properties can be traded across both boards, e.g. you can trade the ewok village for krustyland studios.

six players with two boards was ideal and, if nothing else, having contrasting boards makes for more comedy value.

my dad suggested that we could have started half the players on one 'go' square and the other half on the other. this would have meant that rather than everyone buying star wars properties and then simpsons, it would mix it up a little by getting both boards in play straight away.

the thing to do is put two boards together and walk your way through it. make up your own rules.

one of the rogue rule we used that was cool:
when you have to pay chance and community chest fines or taxes on the board, put the money in the centre of the board you are playing at the time, rather than paying the bank. when someone lands on free parking - they get the 'pot'. the bank donates $500 do the pot on each board at the start of the game and each time the pot has been emptied bank puts in another $500. note: when you are awarded money in chance or community chest, e.g. you've one second prize in a beauty contest, recieve $20, it is the bank that pays you, not the free parking pot.

best played with copious amounts of kalhua.


Friday, December 29, 2006

awesome, eh? part deux

for the games category:

Double board Monopoly (using the Star Wars and Simpsons editions) - put two boards side by side and work round in a figure of eight fashion. double the money, double the fun

A board game in which one describes a word on a card accurately, efficiently, succinctly...


a full round of brie, topped with toasted walnuts, brown sugar, and kalhua - and then warmed in a hot oven till the brie is soft and gooey. eat like a dip with a fresh bread or crackers.

LB, x

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

...are ya listening? in the lane...

so it might only be an icing sugar dusting, but it has snowed and it keeps on flurrying...

it's a white Christmas at last.

listening to the new tom waits this morning. have only heard brawlers so far, but loving it.

reasons to be cheerful. 1.2.3.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

awesome, eh?

things never seen, tasted, worn, or experienced before that i have been liking:

black squirrels
sour cream glazed Timbits
chipotle mayo
pomegranate juice
fleece lined mittens
a mighty wind
frank capra's it's a wonderful life
having a light inside the dryer

this list may be added to...


Monday, December 25, 2006

ghosts of christmas past

having opened our gifts this morning, ewan produced one last present for dad and i. we just watched 50 minutes of our childhood, which he has painstakingly and lovingly transferred from super 8 film to dvd, with an incredible instrumental soundtrack from sufjan stevens to iain archer. we hadn't seen any of the footage in over 20 years.

it's a work of art and i get to bring it home to treasure.

colour us all thoroughly tear stained.

lunch is up, better go.

blessings, wherever you are missed.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

if the fates allow...

word up.

random, perhaps unconnected, sentences...

still no bags.

i say a guy in a mall today in a head to toe faux cowboy denim get up, with a stetson and a sheepskin coat. he was in his seventies. he was wearing a brooch in the shape of a turtle made of gold and diamonds.

for first time i'm suffering jet lag on the west side of the atlantic. shattered by half nine in the evening and awake before seven each morning.

yesterday toronto was covered in rain clouds. looking up from the rain soaked streets the skyscrapers were cloaked in think low cloud. they just disappeared... i didn't have a i just craned my neck and looked up at the buildings disappearing into the nothingness...

miriam fell on the stairs the other night and her ribs took the brunt of the impact. she spent much of yesterday in the hospital getting checked out. not wanting to risk taking pain killers, she's in a lot of pain and discomfort but my soon-to-be-born niece is unscathed. i feel kinda helpless.

yesterday i visited one of my favourite bookstores of all time - Pages on Queen st. i bought a book called beautiful losers that has me excited to get back to my studio in Belfast.

i know the name planned for my soon-to-be-born niece.

today i bought a digital SLR.

(at least the last ultrasound suggested it was a girl. but only on arrival can anyone be sure.)

this morning i lay in bed thinking about the idea that out there somewhere might be the person who could be your significant other. and you might not even know them. and what if you never met them? if you changed your plan or your route or failed to look up at the right moment and foiled fate's plan? and i thought about it. and thought that was a frightening idea. but maybe there's no such thing as fate. that was equally frightening. que sera.

my brother makes really good white russians.

i also got a new top to wear for Christmas eve - our major day of family celebrations as many of the stynes clan head out of town on the 25th. and a pair of rocket dogs that i am thinking of naming i like 'em so much. and a jacket. and shades. a pair of jeans. and underwear. and so on...

snow is forecast for the 26th. bring it on!

he'll also make a great father. he already is. he takes such good care of them.

presents are all wrapped.

i'm wiped. gonna hit the hay. am planning to watch it's a wonderful life in the morning before heading out for roll call in the styne's kitchen around a big plate of fresh cinnamon rolls...

well, except for the ones that aren't lost in an airport somewhere...

Christmas greetings one and all. may you have peace. real peace.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

canadian christmas, the first

greetings from richmond hill, ontario.

well the snow may have melted and the sun may be shining on the squirrels as they play in the trees and eat the berries outside the porch but it sure feels like christmas. two thrushes and a squirrel came right up to the window amidst the berries and i toasted them with my mug of coffee and said hello. it was one of those little moments where i felt the universe get small and intimate and clack-clacking as buechner would call it...

as i type my wee bro is playing a lovely snuffy walden esque melody on the guitar...

now, seeing it in the flesh, it is of no surprise that this tree lined street was used as a film set and that historic tours come this way to see the houses... i've yet to find the words to describe it. the homes aren't big or grand but they have a kind of comforting character and charm.

we arrived safely, my dad and i, but our bags haven't.
but no matter, it's all good.

great to see ewan, and dear miriam who is heavily pregnant and incredibly beautiful with it, and for the first time to be in their home, which is so lovely.

for those of a praying disposition, please keep Andrea, her brother Chris and her husband Alan in your thoughts. her father has passed away. the circumstances are difficult. i know she will feel strengthened by knowing there are folks keeping her in mind and heart. and even if that's all prayer is, well, i'm coming round to thinking it's not wasted. Andrea emailed me to tell me the news and in the midst of shock and grief she still remembered i'd be flying and wanted me to know she was thinking of me and that i had an unstressful journey. that's the kind of girl she is. Andrea, you are loved.

well, i'm here without laptop so i'll be sporadically posting. time to go get cleaned up and then we're gonna dander round the neighbourhood.

it's all so beautiful. i left home feeling totally overwhelmed. here, i'm adjusting to feeling calm.


Friday, December 15, 2006

memories erased

this morning i was woken by a phone call from the apple doctor.
my laptop hard drive is dead.
everything i have written since it arrived almost a year ago to the day is lost. all pictures. all music. a significant proportion of my emails i have received and saved so that i could remind myself that friendships were not a figment of my imagination but the real deal. all my IM conversations i saved for revisiting cause of the good advice contained therein.
fuck. everything i have written outside of these pages.

and no aiden to tell me i should've backed up. not so funny when it's actually happening.

i wish i could say that was the worst thing about today. it wasn't, but it was more appropriately fitting to my week than i could have designed. it's just loss, loss and more loss...


Thursday, December 14, 2006


chocka girl checking in.

word up.

the rumours are true, the shelves in dublin are empty. keli and i took a train ride to the auld town today and came back laden.
christmas shopping was so much easier after a glass of wine mid way through the afternoon - i developed what can either be desribed as an uncharateristic decisiveness
(for a libran) or i just stopped looking at price tags and went with my gut...which as those who've been on a pub quiz team with LB know 9 times out of 10 is not to be questioned. i even bought a little present for myself. for the first time ever i bought perfume from the jo malone counter in brown thomas - that little place where i also stop and look wistfully and inhale longingly. pure indulgence but god it felt good. note to self: use sparingly!

so, i am about to stick on something classic (read: cheesy) and musical on the dvd and start wrapping.
in a week that started off with an unravelling and facing some serious questions of what leads me into spirals of disconnectedness with the world it feels nice to be focussing on others who mean a lot...

to those that have been praying, thank you. i say that without an ounce of cynicism in these agnostic bones. it has given me courage this week and from a place of real feelings of isolation and lonliness it has been a real reminder of what love-in-action looks like to know that some of you have been spending moments asking i-know-not-what to make its presence felt in my days...

blessings that came dressed as intentional and surprise encounters the last couple of days were a chance to start reconnecting... which having realised what some of my issues are is a little daunting... but, as Sigmund told me... when everyone else seems fine to you, and you feel like you're the only nutcase, remember that fine means they're Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.
cheesy maybe, but it's kind of like imagining people naked when you are public speaking. that's never worked for me cause i find public dispays of flesh intimidating, but you get the picture...

so things are gradually improving. i have named some beasts this week... there has been some stark clarity in the darkness. the new year will be very much about working out what overcoming that looks like on a daily basis...

so i'm off to play santa's little helper, well, without the tights and little hat, although i am actually wearing a wooly hat right now, it's a new purchase. it makes me feel all enid blyton or perhaps like a character in some kind of 'evacuees' drama... as i wrap presents i shall be painting a mental picture of the recipients and imagine them using said gifts... it was how i decided what to get each one... some of then will be imagined in a room on their own and seriously rocking out... others curled up reading... others entertaining... it makes me smile...

coming soon: team fury top 5s 2006: music, films and books - the combined list.

my baby is in the apple doctor getting some medical treatment and i'm still trying to keep my word intake and output each day to a minimum and focussing on reconnecting with human beings.
thus my postings will continue to be sporadic for now. but needless to say, things are looking up a little.

i'm doing fine,



Saturday, December 09, 2006

something for the weakened

saturday night

i'm curled up on the sofa with a mug of tea, some toffifee and a favourite movie to fall asleep in front of...

so, tonight i was in the one act play, the women's stories, which i think i mentioned somewhere along the way.

after a rehearsal featuring much fluffling of lines, accompanied by cursing (that would be me), and general sense of tongue tiedness, we sailed through the actual performance. we darn well nailed it. from the directions, the haka, singing, to our lines, the tone...

part of my, well, part was i got to tell the story of the 'haemorrhaging woman', so i've brought home with me my 'blood streaked' apron as a reminder of the experience. i'm tired, but quietly satisfied. i'm proud of all for a job done good. but i am very very tired.


sunday night

with the play out of the way, today was the day for me to collapse under the weight of a lot of stuff i've been shoring up.
such is the nature of the place i currently find myself in, i'm not sure if i'll be around here for a while, as i need to try and deal with some heavy stuff back in the real world where i don't have the luxury of an alter-ego. part of this is the need to step beneath words for a time. for some time i've been retreating into an increasingly isolated world of books and writing where i feel safe, and that's not what i need right now as the stuff down the mineshaft has no words... or at least, no rational articulation making for coherent sentences...
but it is the place where the past is and if i am to find a way to live where that past does not keep repeating itself over and over, and where i can live with peace, then i need to deal with whatever is down there... my reading and writing have been pointing in that direction for days as more importantly has some significant conversation with two trusted guides who know what they are talking about. i need to let the words go for a while and live through the hard stuff... thinking is not the way through this, only feeling is... for as terrifying as that is...

i finally felt like i was slipping under and so tonight i sought some intervention before it got any worse and i slid over the line where i would be past caring if i made it back up to the surface...

i don't mean that to sound overly dramatic but i don't want to piss folks off who drop by here with some regularity if there are no updates for awhile.


so, until whenever, be it a couple of days or weeks,
take care of yourselves and each other as jerry springer say.

this is not a rehearsal.


Friday, December 08, 2006

jesus stood me up

thank you for amusing me with your various comments... you've had me chuckling as well as (in some cases more than others) giving me useful insight into your respective psyches...

so, the good lord was a no show and alas this evening was spent in my own company... aloneness now something i am being encouraged to 'play with' and an opportunity to replace 'loneliness' with something quite different...

or perhaps not 'alas'...

on a date with myself, i went to qft and relished every single frame of 'La Turneuse de Pages". this has gone straight to the upper echelons of my 2007 movie league such was the almost perverse level of pleasure i got from this... french, hitchcockian, no, the stuff of hitchcock's fantasies... an exquisite soundtrack and use of music within the story... incredible performances... a pure distilled story of such straight up simplicity - revenge, a dish best served ice cold and in a manner befitting the original 'crime'...i will be going back to see this again. delicious.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

perhaps not a one-woman kinda guy

received this from the gd dr, with the title, you will love this.
well, indeed i did. thanx gh.

so my question is,

let's assume freud is totally wrong and a man is not looking for a copy of his mother, for indeed who's gonna match up to the Blessed Virgin, if Jesus was willing to entertain the idea of giving up all those good chrispo-chicks and being my boyfriend, how far would he be willing to go on the first date?
that said, you gotta wonder 'bout a guy using deific omnipresence to multi-date...and ever since 'father' john bell said in a gb seminar that the Saviour had headlice, well,
his good-on-paper-guy reputation i had imagined has been somewhat tarnished...


dear lord
i just... i just pray you will come on a date with me this friday night.
please come in the form of sam seaborn, deputy communications director to the bartlett administration,
(preferably season 3).
since you are G-d, i imagine that spending an evening in the guise of a ficticious character
is well within your super powers. dress casual. or not. whatever. not really fussy.


men: can't live with 'em. can't shoot 'em.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


As i redraft my script for the play (The Women's Stories), inserting the final cues and directions, memorising as i go, i've been listening to tori amos, who always suits thinking about the female (hi)story. this track crept up on me and tapped me on the shoulder like jack frost...i may have written out these lines before... this is how i hear the conversation now... all punctuation is entirely my own imagining...



Snow can wait -
"I forgot my mittens!"
Wipe my nose... get my new boots on.
(I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter)
I put my hand in my father's glove.

I run off where the drifts get deeper...
Sleeping Beauty trips me with a frown.
I hear a voice,
"You must learn to stand up for yourself,
'cause I can't always be around..."

He says,
"When you gonna make up your mind?

When you gonna love you as much as i do?
When you gonna make up your mind?
'cause things are gonna change so fast..."

(All the white horses are still in bed...)

I tell you that,
"I'll always want you near!"
You say that,
"Things change
, my dear..."

Boys get discovered as winter melts,
Flowers competing for the sun...
Years go by and I'm here still waiting
With a ring, where some snowman was.
"Mirror, mirror - where's the crystal palace?"
But I only can see myself.
Skating around the truth, I am:
"But I know Dad - the ice is getting thin..."

"When you gonna make up your mind?
When you gonna love you as much as I do?
When you gonna make up your mind?
'cause things are gonna change so fast..."

(All the white horses are still in bed...)

I tell you that,
"I'll always want you near..."

You say that,
"Things change, my dear."

Hair is grey
And the fires are burning...
So many dreams on the shelf.
"You say, 'I wanted you to be proud of me!'
Well I always wanted that myself...
When you gonna make up your mind?
When you gonna love you as much as I do?
When you gonna make up your mind!?
'cause things are gonna change SO fast..."

(...All the white horses have gone ahead...)

I tell you that,
"I'll always want you near..."

You say that,
"Things change, my dear."

"Never change..."

(All the white horses...)

Tori Amos, from Little Earthquakes, (1991)
But the girl's development, in Freud's view, is more complicated. First, it is implicit in his description of male development that in order for a girl to become a woman who is desirable to a man she has to become someone who resembles a man's mother. But second, as a desiring subject - or rather, as Freud's normative version of a desiring heterosexual woman - she has to change her love-object. She has to experience, as it were, two degrees of newness; the first new object is the father, who, we assume (or presume), doesn't have to resemble the mother in order to be desirable, who is apparantly, by definition, not a copy of the mother; and then presumably she has to replace the father with a man who resembles or derives from him. Either a woman has to desire a copy of a copy; or, for the devloping girl, there is an excess of newness, which means two lots of newness, which means two lots of sufficuent resemblence to be dealt with. Normal Freudian man goes from mother to similar new woman; normal Freudian woman goes from mother to father to new man. If at the end of her development, as Freud puts it, her father should have become her love-object, how, one wonders, will she have the strength - the emotional and imaginative resiliance - to get to another new love-object? ...
Adam Phillips, "Waiting for Returns", from Side Effects, (2006) p.208



Tuesday, December 05, 2006

we tumble downward

Tuesday afternoon, Clements, Donegall Sq…

..dug out Hopes and Fears by Keane today… found some dark stuff…

as my intentional “time off for me” continues in faltering and sometimes uncomfortable fashion, (amazing how much our daily busyness allow us to avoid ourselves – distracted disregard becomes so much harder when you don’t have to turn up at a desk), and I attempt to be as creatively active as I can with my hours, I sit over my daily and solitary ritual of coffee while drafting words and ideas, or perhaps i am simply escaping the madness of persistant solitude with pen and page as a kind of company. whichever, i’ve been mapping out some collecting thoughts on memory that have been deposited on the water’s edge over the morning. Inhabiting this album, or (perhaps letting it inhabit me), from one of the bestselling and yet “uncool” MOR bands of the past few years has led me surprisingly, yet naturally, to dark contemplation… lyrics brimming with a brutal kind of honesty … braver stuff than it might get credit for, there are statements here that if spoken in open confession would rightfully make the listener drop the eye awkwardly… some truths are just unbearable… and I wonder if we spend much of our lives pretending we don’t feel this stuff…

Here’s just one of several tracks where discomforting honesty seems to be dwelling…

She Has No Time

You think your days are uneventful
That no one ever thinks about you
She goes her own way
She goes her own way

You think your days are ordinary
That no one ever thinks about you
But we’re all the same
And she can hardly breathe
Without you

She says
She has no time
For you now
She says
She has no time

Or think about the lonely people
Or think about the day she found you
Or lie to yourself
And see it all dissolve around you
She says
She has no time
For you now
She says
She has no time
For you now
She says has no time

Lonely people
Tumble downwards
And my heart opens up to you
When she says
She has no time
For you now
She says
She has no time
For you now


How many housewives have ironed the laundry to this only to crumple to the lino weeping…? One? A thousand? None? Such sadness, such pointless aloneness… all feel the same… and still we persist in our resisting… even though we’re hardly able to fill our lungs for the lack of one another…

Perhaps the curse of being human is that we cannot live together and we cannot live apart…

or perhaps that's just me.


delved back into this bag of tricks today to reread an essay on family and it was followed by one on creativity that grabbed my attention...and i had to chuckle when i read this quote, having just written the above...i put it here entirely out of context, for if i tried to put in in context i'd end up quoting the entire essay...highlighting is my own...

Honesty is simply memory; truth-telling is remembering what it is you want. what the patient is resistant to, what has made the patient a modeller, a Promethean rather than a carver or a midwife, is the horror of the past.

Adam Phillips, Side Effects, (2006) p.88, On Not Making it Up


Oddly appropriate Advent listening *2:
Pillow by Adem.



...taken one year ago today.
so much sadness... the end of everything...
364 days in between.
where to begin understanding how things have changed...

it's milder, that's for sure...

but sometimes i still shake myself as if in a dream and think is this really real...?

and, what the hell am i doing here? where will i go...?

still looking for the place to build a nest
still learning how to love oneself best


Monday, December 04, 2006

What is all this mess here?

(if anyone else here uses beta blogger and, like me, has lost the compose function on their blog, ie the font/picture/quote/url toolbar, gimme a shout if you worked out how to get it back. thanx. NO WORRIES, GOT IT SORTED.)

New Day – let’s try again…

So this morning I learnt the haka – well an approximation of the haka – in preparation for chloe’s play. I can’t imagine what her tutor is gonna think but it’s novel at least and fits really well... boldly ushers in the darkness and violence of the crucifixion to the tale.

So this morning was a fun experience, and fascinating: sparking off thoughts this afternoon on what we understand by male and female aggression… the posture so definitely masculine, the moving body hunched forward and over, almost gorilla like, and the grunts pulled up from low in the body… this is a dance with balls… come on if you think you’re hard enough… we’re gonna slaughter you and smash your infants upon the rocks… I didn’t think I was much of a girly-girl ‘til this morning I tried to imitate a 16 stone rugby player. Even in stomper boots, the body held with too great poise, posture too straight and balletic… movements too flowing, where the limbs should be jabbing, stabbing, punching… we need goliath bulk, not Davidic grace… our throats lower and roughen, our faces scowl to threaten… words spat from a growling throat…

With black masks covering our faces we are hitching our skirts mimicking an oldtime act of female aggression (apparently this was once upon a time in our own culture considered frightening enough to ward off intruders… look what I have under here – it’ll bite if you come any closer, trespassers will be prosecuted)… bending spread knees to stamp and grunt…the mob baying for blood… welcoming death and violence… demanding sacrafice. There is nothing in this story for the tender hearted… they whipped and they stripped and they strung him

Cleansed the soul… invigorated and channelled out that which was choking the throat yesterday… an enemy without or within, I don’t quite know, but all that shouting and stamping this morning was cathartic in a primal way…


Oddly appropriate advent listening

Listening to the Prefuse73 T5 soul sessions Vol 1.
At 14mins48secs a familiar strain comes, and the mind fills in the invisible lyrics

God rest you merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this day

And then a voice joins to sing a latin american sounding variation on the old classic,

They killed someone else in the hot sun of a Christmas day…

I have no idea what that’s about… but it’s something about something…


Enclosed and Exposed

Been working this past few days on the themes of family and our visible and hidden selves within family, in the initial stages of a collaborative project with Jayne… trying to get my own thoughts down on paper… starting as I always do with words and thoughts, word play and association, trying to get my own take on what we might do before working out how we might combine our individual perspectives into some kind of coherent vision that still gives each of us voice. Needless to say, my own is gonna be a lot darker I’m certain… but it’s all provisional and even if I end up shifting into a whole different direction of how I see it I really enjoy this process… as with helping out Chloe on her project, and reminiscent of planning ikon gatherings, it’s all about letting words float about and ideas rise to the surface… watching as they shape and conversing with them in doodles and mind maps… what is all this mess here? How do I make sense of this, what are the questions needing answered?
I love the joining of the dots, flowing from word to word to word, sometimes smooth, sometimes leaping… a kind of map making… not just of a vision but of the self… linking the personal to the social, and trying to find the universals in between…


And something makes me want to link that thought with this from Dillard, although at present I can best think that’s got something to do with language…

“…somewhere around 11,000 yrs ago, some clever hunting human primates – who made stone spears, drew pictures, and talked – had another idea. they knocked ripe seeds from transplanted wild barley or einkorn wheat and stored the seeds dry at their campsite in the Zagros Mountains. Since eating ground seeds kept the families alive when hunting failed, they settled there, planted more seed, hunkered down to wait its sprouting, and, what with one thing and another, shucks, here we be, I at my laptop computer, you with a book in your hands. We are just like squirrels, really, or, well, more like gibbons, but we happen to use tools, speak, and write; we blundered into art and science. We are one of those animals. The ones whose neocortexes swelled, who just happen to write encyclopaedias and fly to the moon. Can anyone believe this?
Yes, because cultural evolution happens fast; it accelerates exponentially and, to put it less precisely, explodes. Biological evolution takes time, because it requires biological generations; the unit of reproduction is the mortal and replicating creature. Once the naked ape starts talking, however, “the unit of reproduction becomes” – in the words of anthropologist Gary Clevidence – “the mouth”. Information and complexity burgeon and replicate so fast that the printing press arrives as almost an afterthought of our 10 billion brain neurons and their 60 trillion connections. Positivist science can, theoretically, account for the whole human show, even our 5.9 billion unique shades of consciousness, and our love for one another and for books.
Science could, I say, if it possessed all the data, describe the purely physical workings that have enabled our species to build and fly jets, write poems, encode data on silicon, and photograph Jupiter. But science has other fish to fry. Science (like philosophy) has bypassed this vast and abyssal fish of consciousness and culture. The data are tighter in other areas. Still, let us grant that our human world is a quirk of materials. Let us ignore the staggering truth that you hold in your hands an object of culture, one of many your gaze meets all around you. If, then, the human layer in which we spend our lives is an epiphenomenon in nature’s mechanical doings, if science devotes scant attention to human culture, and if science has scrutinized human consciousness only recently and leaves other disciplines, if any, to study human thought – then science, which is, God knows, correct, nevertheless cannot address what interests us most: what are we doing here?

- Annie Dillard, For The Timebeing, 1999, pp 93-95


Listening again for first time in a many a month to Denison Witmer’s album Are you a dreamer?, arguably my favourite album of last winter (but who’d want to argue about such a thing)… too cozy for warmer months… no less beautiful this year. If I found it hard not to weep every time I heard this last year, it is testament to the improvement in my broader emotional states, it now makes me smile wistfully. The magic that music does to us, speaking each passing year with evolving voice never ceases to amaze me.

Perhaps faithfulness rewards us with unfolding returns. At least, it feels like it ought to… maybe that’s why music feels like magic…


let's just say it's the moon

or so says jayne...

well i guess my mood just didn't improve all that much, or at least if i woke up feeling like the weather, then, despite a delicious evening meal in the company of some lovely people who deserved better company than mine, i retire feeling downright low...
for the first time in a long time i feel myself withdrawing...pulling myself into a small space and shutting down...if i were to hide i don't know where i'd go...

may one wake and climb out the right side of the bed, or find the world magically transformed and all the questions will have found their answers and be at peace...
tomorrow i learn the haka. and i guess it's not everyday one gets to say that...


Sunday, December 03, 2006

all just a distraction...

raindrops keep falling on my head...

i miss the cottage on days like this, miss the everchanging views of wet greenness and earthy soil holding growing things and the movement of flying things... nature up so much closer and i guess 'natural', rather than rows of brick upon brick that don't need the drink and in drenchedness just inspire depressive claustrophobia...or perhaps it's just me, and not the weather, that's cold and heavy...

and just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed...

still if i head out today, my feet shall at least be dry in my new 14 hole NPS stomper boots. whether i am channelling my inner butch or skinhead remains to be seen. regardless, flares and converse do not make for sog-free atire.

nothing seems to fit...

feel like i got out of the wrong side of bed this morning... irriatable, irked and impatient..."fecked off with everything and nothing" might be the way to describe it. my bed is by the wall, and with no option to reposition, i can only hope it rights itself soon... or i do...

those raindrops keep falling...

sitting now over a mochaccino or three, head in 'fonz with ::sun kil moon:: and ::tunng:: running from my laptop into my ears and on through my veins and restoring a sense of something like contentment... my iPod died but regardless, i've listened to very little of late... i've been feeling increasingly disconnected from music, maybe because these days i don't have the daily walk to and from work, and the absence of tunage kind of crept up on me...all i know is, i'm not happy about it... i used to listen to music from morning 'til night and these days my life feels drier for lack of a soundscape... life is a less sensory experience... it seemed that living with less music (at least through the 'fonz) might open me up to listening to people more, or seeing wonder in everyday experience of the cafe and street, but i am instead only made more aware of how much banal shite people are willing to spout (rather like this i guess)... perhaps for me attentiveness to the bustle of the cafe and street is better when it's an intentional attentive experience rather than the norm...there is an introvertedness to my personality that the privacy of the personal stereo system allows for...a room of my own i can carry with me...if there is a lesson it is perhaps, if it ain't broke don't fix it, regardless of what anyone says... me and my soundtrack work well together, i write more and, perhaps more importantly, relax more inside this iWomb...

they keep falling...

so, here's an excerpt from that waits interview in ::the word:: i keep revisiting, a source of inspiration,

mick brown: "there's a wondrful entry in jack kerouac's letters where... he's in a diner in Wyoming having breakfast and a cowboy walks in - the first kerouac's seen - and he describes it as if the very essence of life itself was gusting in the door. you seem to be very alive to those kind of moments, those epiphanies, in your songs."

Waits: "well, i think once you've experienced some of those moments you try to influence them. you're always waiting for them to happen, the way cats wait for things to move around the house, you sit and wait quietly, you know. you never know when they're going to happen, and you want to be ready. i think that's what people look for in songs. i write down song titles usually, and usually something that you're going thorugh emotionally will make a particular title leap out at you. this is what my wife says - there's something that you're already working on inside that this song will be the manifestation of. now you have a container. the first thing that anybody ever created was a container. someone made a bowl to hold the water. and then they made a song about the bowl that held the water. you know, people opnly travel really with their seeds and with their songs. in bosnia, they interviewed a lot of the refugees - they'd left with nothing and they asked them what they had, and they had seeds, in their pockets, from their gardens. and their songs. that was it. once you're nourished in that most fundamental way, everything else will follow."

...a tin can is a container...

and from julia cameron, who's vein of gold has been a constant insightful companion of late while i've been developing concepts for my submissions to the ikon art exhibition in the waterfront (feb 2007) and for a collaborative installation project jayne and i are discussing for later next year...

"here is another pernicious aspect of our mythology: you are not a "serious artist" unless you are perceived, recognised, acknowledged as a serious artist. this takes the power away from the artist and puts it in the eye of the beholder... the artist is reduced to a poseur instead of having the dignity of a self determined life. in other words, we are acting the role of an artist rather than inhabiting the identity of artist as it suits us."

i had copied this quote onto the front of my sketch&ideas book a few days ago and then twice yesterday i was asked by strangers whether i was an artist. while i hesitated and stumbled a little in my response, i could feel myself internally leaning into some kind of affirmative place... i'm gonna play with an easy-to-remember clarifiying and affirming response, but the more i think about this stuff and play with it, i more and more recognise that 'artist' or indeed 'writer' is used when what we mean is "professional artist/writer"... which when it comes down to it is not really very helpful... i don't want to create for money - by which i mean i don't want to create because the end point is earning money. i want to create as an end in itself, the process is the reward, the desire to creatively express is hugely defining of who i am, that radar as chris calls it listening and reading the world i find myself in, living through it and authentically voicing what i find and feel in it... i want to create for the love of it, because it feels like living, like right now as i babble away what i'm thinking and feeling i am fulfilled in the moment, i feel contentment in my body and peace of mind...that my life is so much more happier for creating things in word and image... we can call that what we like, i don't need a label, i'm just gonna get on with living and creating as i go and just making sure i build a lifestyle that leaves time and space for creativity of all kinds...'cause if nothing else it's good for my mental health...
i've been surprised by how unaffected i feel by hearing many positive responses to ::supended like scales::...or perhaps i mean how lightly i've been able to hold that... i don't think it's my discomfort at receiving praise causing avoidance...certainly it has given me confidence to do more work for a public setting, but almost paradoxically the encouragement makes me more enthusiastic to speak with my own voice rather than tailor it to what others want to keep creating for me... which has something to do with authenticity... i think...

being creatively productive has been getting a lot easier since i
1. stopped dreaming of being a 'creator' and just got on with creating,
2. not giving a shit whether it pays, and
3. started recognising myself as being inherently creative whether anyone cares or not... i guess i'm learning how not to ask permission...

so, in order to add to the ways in which i can express myself and also because learning is something we should never give up on, i've signed up for a course in photo-intaglio and got my name on a waiting list for a longer course in a wider range of printmaking techniques, and i am considering my living options so that they can include some kind of personal space devoted to creative playfulness, be that a studio or in a house...

i was really enlivened by the new realists exhibition at the tate liverpool when i stopped there on the divine comedy tour. i felt at home, uninhibited by the work. rather than dreaming of my having pieces alongside in some 'celebrated artist' kind of way, i just thought, i wouldn't feel embarrassed putting a scribble up on the wall beside these folks... they are people, saying something, and the only difference between them and anyone else is they have been recognised by people who run galleries and sell art as being worthy of display or purchase. perhaps i felt uninhibited because for the most part this is a style of art that is as much about message as it is about the ability to use a brush in a certain way. but all over the world folks are creating and no one ever notices them. it doesn't make them any less artistic or creative. if price or public recognition is the dividing line, then i really don't care... what matters is if you are living from the heart...

i'm floating away on a little wispy cloud of ulrich schnauss... that's enough incoherent rambling for now. gonna read me some more dillard... ::for the timebeing:: is awesome and i forgotten my copy contains scribbles in the margins from david dark...

outside it's still raining... and we shall know what we wish were present by the absense we feel...


Saturday, December 02, 2006


have had a busy few days, so the best i can manage right now is this tiny snippet from my head... i've two art projects in design stage so all my thoughts are spilling into my sketch book right now. details later.


Postscript from a railway carriage…

Listening to the wonderful tones of Ted Hughes reading from Crow, (Chris, you are gonna love this), as we rattle and roll towards the dirty auld town... grimace rhymes with face…

Any alteration from Hughes’ grammar is my own… I loved hearing this so much I had to transcribe it… darkly comic.

Apple Tragedy

So, on the seventh day the serpent rested.
God came up to him,
“I’ve invented a new game”, he said.
The serpent stared in surprise at this interloper
But God said, “You see this apple?
I squeeze it and look! Cider.”
The serpent had a good drink and curled up into a question mark.

Adam drank and said, “Be my God.”
Eve drank and opened her legs and called to the cockeyed serpent and gave him a wild time.
God ran and told Adam, who in drunken rage tried to hang himself in the orchard.
The serpent tried to explain, crying
“Stop!” but drink was splitting his syllable,
And Eve started screeching, “Rape, rape!” and stamping on his head.

Now whenever the snake appears she screeches,
“Here it comes again, help, oh help!”
Then Adam smashes a chair on its head,
And God says, “I am well pleased”.
And everything goes to hell.


On Sunday I picked up a copy of the word magazine pretty much solely on the basis of anton corbijn’s beautiful cover photo of tom waits.

The interview inside is no less beautiful. I’ve read and reread it. Truly inspiring in some deep gut level kinda way... more to come on that i'm sure...

but right now i'm off with keli to a print works open day and to get my hair cut,