Tuesday, December 08, 2009

new nest for this Little Bird

hey friends.

i've started up an alternative nest for the site.
some of the formatting of posts is a little messy as a result of transferring the data, i'm very much still testing out all the widgets and getting orientated, but i'll try posting from there and making custom changes over the next month or so and then see if i want the move to be permanent.

so, for the timebeing my new nest is at  http://leftofnarnia.wordpress.com

if anyone else uses wordpress and wants to advise, especially on the multiple Pages, drop me a note.

looking forward to seeing you over there.

be well, and keep in touch.


Monday, December 07, 2009

under the pink

or, suffer the little (girl) children...

(in 1918) the Ladies' Home Journal wrote: "There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

- Ben Goldacre, Out of the blue and pink in the Guardian

fast forward to 2009 and there's a pink car accessories aisle in Halfords. seriously. (cue loud gagging)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

who will speak up for love and justice if not us...?

For the past several days, myself and Joel have been discussing the truly disturbing, "Anti-Homosexual Bill" on the table in Uganda and how best to communicate with those who might bear influence to block it. of what we might each want to say in any such communication we try and make to them.

it is easy to feel hopeless when one hears little more from Christian leaders than weak evasions that avoid taking an actual stand against legislation that would be rightly described as fascist, or an avoidance of voicing principled support for basic human rights.
this is not a controversial issue. there should be no thinking through what the response of Christians should be when faced with this level of civil oppression. but it is seen as controversial. as if there is more than one reasonable response to this kind of law.

i hope more denominations follow the path of the United Reformed Church in standing up unequivocally for what is right, and just and good.
i hope, and pray that a strong collective, ecumenical chorus will rise up on this issue and show its support for the human rights of those in Uganda and Rwanda.

will that happen? i fear not.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


the face of the day on the daily dish today was from this great photo-feature on 6 artists working in fantastic photorealistic/ hyper-realistic sculpture. some of these pieces are deeply... freaky. i love it.

i quite possibly shared some of these images from the contemporary art floors of Denver's DAM in October '08. they have some great sculpture, including hyper-realistic, not all of which could be photographed, including a Ron Mueck head sculpture if memory serves...

more sculpture photos after the jump note: there's one sculpture of a boy some folks may be uncomfortable with, (involves nudity).

creepy tales

darkness of a whole different kind...

Joel recently found himself driving alone with an almost empty tank, close to lost, in the middle of the night, on the back roads of the wonderfully appropriate Barren County, Kentucky. no wonder then that he tried to dissuade me from listening to The Old Road, the final episode in series 2 of The Man in Black on bbc radio 7. as he no doubt knew i would, i ignored him. and i'm glad. this is radio drama at its best.
also worth hearing is Angel in Disguise and the particularly gruesome, Flesh.
it's all a superb take on the tradition of the classic, "spooky story" in contemporary settings... you know the inevitability of what's coming and yet it doesn't spoil the listening... one can't help but grin... 

the tradition of scaring ourselves around campfires and by torchlight with stories of strange happenings and things that go bump and growl in the night are our way of dealing with our fears and the real darkness we face... a curious form of entertainment and yet somehow telling creepy tales pushes back the world and those real fears... as host Mark Gatiss would likely concur, there is comfort in knowing after all, that it's only a story...

isn't it?


what is coming...

it's the first Sunday in Advent.
it seems strange to be marking the beginning of the season of light incoming when the news is filled with so much dark talk of the child abuse history of the Catholic Church in Dublin.

Which drew me to turn, as I have done before, to these words of Buechner,

"Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility: that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal."
All the paradoxical themes of Advent are compressed into that handful of words: Christ coming at Christmas time in great humility and again at the end of time in glorious majesty - Christ coming as a child to save us and as a king to judge us - mortal life, immortal life. They clatter against each other like shutters in the wind with all their points and counterpoints. They all but deafen us with their message at one and the same time of sin and grace, justice and mercy, comfort and challenge. "Cast away the works of darkness," they say, and put on "the armor of light." Maybe those are the words that best sum up the paradox of who we are and where we are. Somewhere between the darkness and the light. That is where we are as Christians. And not just at Advent time, but at all times. Somewhere between the fact of darkness and the hope of light. That is who we are.
"Advent" means "coming" of course, and the promise of Advent is that what is coming is an unimaginable invasion. The mythology of our age has to do with flying saucers and invasions from outer space, and that is unimaginable enough. But what is upon us now is even more so - a close encounter not of the thrid kind but of a different kind altogether. An invasion of holiness. That is what Advent is about.
What is coming upon the world is the Light of the World. It is Christ. That is the comfort of it. The challenge of it is that it has not come yet. Only the hope for it has to come, only the longing for it. In the meantime we are in the dark, and the dark, God knows, is also in us. We watch and wait for a holiness to heal us and hallow us, to liberate us from the dark. Advent is like the hush in a theater just before the curtain rises. It is like the hazy ring around the winter moon that means the coming of snow which will turn the night to silver. Soon. But for the time being, our time, darkness is where we are.

- Frederick Buechner, The Clown in the Belfry, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1992
and so it is that we wait.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

film reels and umbilical cords

two birth congratulations are in order... 

the first is still underway and has had a long gestation...
dunno if it's my computer, my server, or a glitch on blogger but several attempts to send good wishes to Mike and Rose Riddell over at The Interminable Moon have failed so i'm doing it here instead.

Gareth posted an update on the film version of Mike's novel, The Insatiable Moon over at The Film Talk dot com and Mike is posting regular updates from the set on his blog.

that these folks have stuck it out this far and this long is a testament to their determination, hope and creative tenacity. where others would have lost hope, they didn't. for that they have my respect. Mike and Rose are as downright lovely folks as one could ever hope to meet. and that makes being pleased for them all the more lovely.
i reckon the chances that there's another judge (as in the makes-sure-you-are-presumed-innocent-until-proven-guilty kind, not the can-make-you-an-overnight-star-on-the-X-factor kind) turned film director out there is pretty slim. when it comes to female judges turned film directors... well, i've got to guess Rose is a first.

you can follow their progress on facebook and on twitter and even donate a little to the production of the film here.

well done and love to them both and their crew.


big love also to dear Aaron, Autumn and Tyler on the safe and healthy arrival of Jackson on Sunday. very proud of you. especially Autumn, for delivering an eye-watering 9lbs2 worth of baby.

right, back to my essays...



wanted to highlight a worthy cause for those in the US: there's only a couple of days left, but you can still support HFASS in Denver's Operation Turkey Sandwich here. it'll ease your conscience when you find yourself lying bloated on the sofa on Thursday after eating your own body weight in pumpkin pie.

Monday, November 23, 2009

no news is good news

i've got my head stuck in a paper right now so there's not much to report. my days are currently split between ploughing through texts on the second wave sex war, trying to think of something intelligent to say about same and skyping with the Dr of Darkness. but all is good. actually, it's all great. Christmas holidays start 3 weeks tomorrow. can't wait. but for now i need the days to slow a little.

3 things:

1) apologies to those i owe mails to. the list is steadily growing. i'll try and catch up this week.

2) Thanksgiving greetings to all in the US of Stateside. safe journey to all who are travelling this week and a happy time to all. for what it's worth, i still believe you're an exceptional country.

3) congratulations to Shirley on becoming an auntie today. nice one. :)

oh, one more:
4) i'll be up North on the 5th/6th. hope to catch up with folks then. note to self: remember to collect Christmas decorations from the Fry's. note to Joel: get a tree.


Monday, November 16, 2009


new week. new post.

this past week has had some emotionally rocky moments, mostly thanks to this next month being an intense one with a lot of work needed for school. a LOT. it's been hard not to feel overwhelmed. firefox has been plagued by the rainbow wheel of death and i got frustrated with myself for feeling anything other than complete joy.
the deadline of 14 december is swiftly followed by a totally different kind of month. i'd love to jump ahead and already be enjoying time in the US and Canada with Joel and family. but there's much to do and i have to pull myself back to the present. but holiday plans are already well underway and it's shaping up to be nothing short of magical.

for as much as i have a policy of, "This is our present reality and i want to consider not the glass half full, let alone half empty, but brimming over with goodness even while being 3905 miles from my soul mate and he from his", distance is always an amplifier and one's anxieties know that they have an opportunity to rattle the cage a bit louder. i guess this week they decided to clang on the bars and see what they could get away with...
on those days when life seems more challenging than others and one knows that a strong hug shared would be enough to make troubles melt like lemon drops, one has to contend with not being able to experience that contact. and thus distance (dis)embodied risks becoming its own stressor.
but i'm so thankful for Skype and for the gift of someone so committed to transcending and subverting the virtualness of our current reality with constancy and imagination. of surprising my monsters with the very thing they least expect, leaving them to skulk off befuddled and confused and wondering why their stratagems don't seem to be working.
as Michael Banks said to his sister Jane of Mary Poppins, "Better keep an eye on this one. [s]he's tricky." i am being truly blessed as i am deeply loved.

so. new week. new post. new energy.

here's a mixed bag of stuff to start off the week and then i'm going to knuckle down, knowing that once i start, this isn't going to stop 'til i hand in my work.


this one's for my beloved, aka, "the person least likely to ever join Facebook, MySpace and Twitter" - a little bit of amusement from Step-hen Free. i'm pretty sure Joel hasn't seen this, because if he had he would have almost certainly sent it to me.

glad to learn Step-hen shares my love of the Sharpie. the king of marker pens.


congratulations to The Film Talk for reaching 100 episodes. please consider supporting The Film Talk with a donation of $3 a month. if they can't make it pay for itself, then they close up shop at the end of the year. and that would be a shame. there's a special offer for US based listeners this week to tempt you.


this past weekend Willow made two trips to dublin. one to stay over with me and much great chat ensued. she then headed back to Belfast and made a well-worth-hearing contribution to Sunday Sequence in a discussion about For The Bible Tells Me So which gets a special free showing in Belfast this week. then she and Jonny drove down to meet up Rachel and Karen from Minnesota who were on a brief visit. Rachel and i have crossed paths online and so it was wonderful to join them for lunch and have conversation in person. they are good people.


a quote from Joel i woke to this morning, which means a lot...

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. 
- Vaclav Havel 

okay. let this month of busyness begin. with Hope.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

tattoo advice

okay. i was gonna to reply to Paul's recent query in the comment box, but i realise there's too much to say. so here's my list of tattoo rules.

assume from this, that i'm not interested if you want to have Tweety Pie tattooed on your hip. unless of course you have developed a philosophy of Tweety Pie that guides your life. you have every right to do want you want. after all, it's your body and your money. but i'm not interested. i see tattoos as wearing your heart on your sleeve. and it's an art form.
so, this set of rules are very much my rules and reflect my personality.

1. there is something in you you want to express. it's inside you. something you want to be reminded of each time you see it. i imagine it floating up to the surface and the artist tracing over it.
2. don't get a design to express something for someone else. express you and you only.
3. design it, print it out on a computer or draw it and then pin it somewhere and then wait for at least 3 months, if not 6. if your conviction holds, go for it. but you might want to change it. don't tattoo a temporary idea. because the tattoo is not temporary. this time also allows you to save up to pay for the best work you can afford.
4. research research research. scavenge for ideas everywhere. be creative and imaginative.
5. if you are worried that you might not think, feel, believe the same way in the future, that the tattoo will be out of date or become irrelevant, then think about whether rather than regretting it, this will mark out an important place or time in your life, that it will act as a reminder of who you have been, where you have come from and the journey you are on. will the meaning of the tattoo be one that can adapt over time as you reflect on it? (that's a lot of expectation to put on Tweety Pie. ;) )

1. research, research, research. any decent tattoo studio will have their portfolio and an artist bio on the web. note: not all tattoists are artists. look at each artist's style. are they experts in detail, or colour work, or shading, text, or reworking existing tattoos? tattoo artists specialise in the same way hair stylists do. i, for example, want artists who know how to craft very clean lines.my text on my right wrist was done by an artist that used to be sign writer and loves doing text work for that reason.
2. you get what you pay for. you want a tattooist who knows their craft and the industry, is using the latest inks and is passionate about their art form and wants to represent the craft well.
3. even if they do not share your ideology or worldview, a decent tattooist will respect you. but they will also know who they are. some tattoists have a very definite philosophy of the craft and have limits on what they will tattoo. for example, i have a bird. the artist, robin that inked it, would never, like many tattoo artists ink a bird or any moving image that wasn't facing the world with you, moving in your direction. ie. it can't face backwards. *that's* the kind of thing i appreciate. thought. care. an ideology. others will refuse to depict images of evil or satan. because they beleive it harms them as an artist. a good tattoo artist wants to respect their clients. the only way you can get a sense of a tattoo artist's philosophy is to talk to them. get their vibe. ask them about their work. you are paying them, so expect nothing less than the best of them. you know what it's like to have your hair cut but someone that doesn't care or hasn't tried to be an expert, or who's not interested in who you are as a client.

who do you want inking your body? making a permanent (unless you laser it off) statement of their art on your skin? someone who doesn't care who you are? sees you as just another in a line of paying customers? or do they want to connect with you and give you the best of their craft as they can?

right up to the moment you sign the consent form, you can walk away. in fact, at any point you can make them stop. meet the person first. do an advance trip. this is quite normal and any decent studio will let you meet the artist and talk to them. get a sense of them, their rapport, their attitude, let you see that they are professional, clean, that the studio has your health and comfort and safety at the forefront. they should love what they do with a passion and be experts. it is *very* easy to tell when someone hasn't gone to the best.

any decent tatooist will understand physiology, and musculature in particular, and they will be meticulous about placement and will not start inking til the design is in *exactly* the right place. your body is their canvas. and it is not flat. and it moves. a good tattoo will enhance your musculature because it will follow the natural shape and lines of your body.

*really* do your research on this. there are different techniques. follow them to the letter. if your tattoo result is muddy and dull, it's down to 1. the inks used, 2. the application and 3. your aftercare.
having had several done i now know the method i think works best, with least pain. i'll definitely be looking to use the same product again. so when you are choosing a studio, ask them for explicit instructions and get them to explain their preferred method. it's not just about healing, but about yeilding the brightest cleanest results. it makes all the difference.

1. avoid any alcohol and caffeine in your system. both affect the blood and thus affect the result. plus, neither make you feel good during the process.
2. eat, so you are not on an empty stomach and drink lots of water. and take water with you or some should be provided. you might want to have a snack - a oatmeal bar or some nuts or something of that sort - in your bag. but i'd avoid high sugars. go for slow release energy foods. if you are feeling a little drained after as they high wears off that'll be good for you.

a good studio will take care of you and will want you to feel at ease, comfortable, minimise pain and the tatooist will talk to you constantly and ask you for feedback. if you are getting a large piece done, they will pace it for you and do it in stages. i find it's surprisingly relaxing. it gives you an endorphin rush and after only a few minutes you might even feel a little sleepy.

a big job will leave you, however, feeling drained. there is a limit on how long your body can keep producing adrenalin. common wisdom seems to be, 4 hours max before you'll crash and then the pain then increases exponentially. most tattooists have a time limit. plus it's tiring for them. so, the bigger the job, the more your health and comfort is a factor. a good tatooist will pause, will allow you moments to breathe and relax your body, move your limbs a bit so you don't cramp and will keep on checking you feel okay.
having tatoos of their own, they will also help you understand why it feels the way it does, and will be responsive and sensitive to your own reactions. even on a short, say 20 minute, tattoo and especially on a first tattoo, any good artist will be ultra careful to make sure you are guided through the experience so you don't feel nervous.
it is not half as painful as you think it will be. pain would never be a reason for me not to get a tattoo. some parts of the body are more painful than others. even on the least painful places, it is a physical experience and a strange one at that.  no one can tell you how it will feel but it's a unique sensation. i find it best not to look at the needle while it's working.

make sure you allow yourself rest afterward, and avoid being bumped into. that really is painful. afterward i think it's like having had an injection for a tropical disease. the pain is deeper afterwards. a kind of heavy ache. but it is very temporary. avoid sleeping on it and in the morning it should feel much better. it'll just be tender rather than actually sore. the tattoo itself will sting a little like a fresh graze. so be very gentle when you come to washing it. have scrupulously clean hands when you clean and moisturise it.

so, that's my advice.
take time to do your research. arm yourself with information and find someone you think you can trust. taking time to research the studio you want to use gives you the time to be sure you know what you want done. you'll be happier with the result if you do.

keep it moisturised. and always wear *very* high factor sun screen over it or keep it covered. this is especially vital when it is new. depending on time of year and how tanned you are will also affect how bright it looks.

oh, one last thing: go for bigger than you initially design. most people go smaller than they should. the results are nearly always better if you size them up. the studio can scale it up on the transfer. 

remember, it's your tattoo. don't give a damn what anyone thinks. just make sure you love it.
and enjoy it. :)

and yes, it really is addictive. 


Monday, November 02, 2009

birthday redux

i need to be getting back into the books. the next six weeks are going to be very busy with writing essays. a good result on a mid-term paper has me feeling encouraged but there's now 3 assignments due by mid-December. 

but before that, i'm rewinding time back a couple of weeks...
through the wonder that is Skype, after breakfast with Ewan and the crew in Toronto, Joel threw me a birthday party in Nashville. there was cake and flowers cut fresh from the garden, and a round of Go Fish with the family. my parentals dashed to the supermarket and supplied me with cake to eat here. highlight was then, by some kind of magic :), being able to simultaneously blow out candles on both sides of the atlantic. 

Joel took some photos, posted here with gratitude for the care and love in it...


Sunday, November 01, 2009

spooktacularly brief...

it was, and this will be. i am beyond tired. but very happy. best Hallowe'en e.v.e.r., in the shape of 48 hours with Joel. grateful to dear friends who sent us lovely messages of well wishing over the duration. yes, we had a fabulous time and yes, we savoured every precious in-person minute of it.

roll on Christmas break.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

no door, no line...

rather than repeat myself, i'm cutting and pasting this comment, that i made in response to this post by Jules, over at Queermergent following the Christianity21 conference.

i’ve been buried under a pile of books at school the past couple of months. so nice to get back here and read this wonderful post.
thanks for sharing this. sounds like it was a great conference. i’m sorry i missed it but and much more than that i am so glad it was such an enriching experience for you.
i’ve been thinking a lot recently about one’s means being one’s ends. that ‘being the change you want to see’ (i think that was Gandhi…) understanding – of acting like the justice you seek has already happened.
seems from what’s been written here that the conference embodied that… and as i think about it, i feel the need to push that further… that we are called as humans desiring to understand G-D as being drawn into a reality of welcome that already is…
once again, i keep coming back again and again to Nadia’s phrase, “it’s not our tent, it’s God’s tent”. the door is wide open (and i’m beginning to think there isn’t a door at all – maybe churches of the 22nd century will have removed their doors off their hinges) and all *are* invited and all *are* welcome since the very beginning and everyone’s already included. inclusiveness then, is not a choice for the church to create, unless by that we mean we are involved in recreating a reality that *is* the very fabric of G-D’s be-ing. “all are welcome” is then a statement of truth, a testament to that reality that in G-D ‘everybody’s in’.
in that light, i’m just the moment starting to see the feeding of the 5,000 in a whole new (to me) way…
the job of the church is not to choose to include, but to bear witness to the inclusion that “is”. G-D is inclusion as a given. so deep that there is no alternate reality as far as G-D is concerned. an alternative to inclusion is something *we* make, that goes against the very nature of what the divine happening is all about…
as we go on this journey, it’s only our job to keep asking, who am “i” not seeing as already being fully welcome in the way G-D is welcome itself? how do i humbly witness to every single human i encounter that welcome that is G-D? and if i understand Seth’s session correctly, “do i witness to myself as fully welcome and respond by welcoming all of me?”
the more i think about it the more absurd it seems to ask questions about being affirming and inclusive – as if we had a choice…
i grew up in a tradition that not only literally shuts the door but even in many congregations locks the door once the Sunday morning service is underway… that to me my whole life has seemed like a violation of all that is sacred. an act of heresy, if not in fact active blasphemy. to completely miss the point. it’s taken me 36 years to even begin to find the language to express that… as more and more i see how we persist in putting a door where there is no door…
thanks again for sharing…
be well, friend

and i'm adding to it, lines i have posted here before, more than once, a track we used at ikon's gb06, Fundamentalism...

come help me out im sick from the fight
from inserting a laugh where theres none
show me where this joke got tired
tell me you know cause im slow catching on..

your trying to break me down with your tuneless song
that kept me up all night
take me to the fair where the lifeless singers
will let you ride up beside them sometimes

and your putting a line
where there should be not a line
and your building divides..

come cut me out i got caught in the wire
from believing the filtering downs
show me where the stakes got higher
just goes to show how slow weve become

and your putting a line
where there should be not a line
and your building divides
and putting a line 
why are you building divides.
is it some failing in your life.
source: burn the map sleeve - even the lack of apostrophes and question marks seems to add to the subversive implicit
five years on somehow these lines persist in reminding me of the eternal-question-meets-
unfurling-answer-always-happening that is G-D...

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there
is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.


Monday, October 26, 2009

in the shelter of each other, the community celebrates

it was a weekend of nuptial celebrations... while Jude and Steve tied the knot in Nashville (congratulations folks!), Mark and Sara held a marriage blessing ceremony in NI for those of us who weren't able to make it Nashville for their own wedding last month. the ceremony was absolutely beautiful, as was the bride. Hillsborough parish church is one of the most lovely churches in one of the prettiest settings i've ever seen. Mark, Sara and Ian (who officiated) had crafted a gorgeous liturgy, Padraig delivered a sermon of pure poetry and i had a lump in my throat as i read, with a feeling of deep honour and privilege, John O'Donohue's blessing for marriage from Benedictus.

it was a real community effort - Jayne, aided by Willow, Emma and i transformed the church hall with candles and flowers and fabrics from our community 'party box'. if i say so myself, it looked lovely... surrounded by table cloths created with dozens of colourful fabrics gathered by friends over the years from all over the world was like being in a collective home. i hear the dance floor was packed in Nashville and in Hillsborough we too stomped with abandon. Ben gave us a fantastic set that seemed to have been taken straight out of Mark's undergrad days and once i got on the dance floor i couldn't stop and we enjoyed delicious cakes made by the wonderful queen of cakes, Harriet.
it was a day suffused with the collective personality and hands of creative community sharing in our interweaving story and all working joyously together to create something beautiful.

i got to catch up with many folks i was so looking forward to seeing, and there were many more i didn't get to speak to at all (Shirley - i'm looking at you and regretting we didn't get round to exchanging more than a wave across the room. you looked gorgeous. :) ) it was so good to be able to share good news and exchange stories of the last few months with those who will always be my family-of-choice.

so, all in all, a truly fabulous day.

here's a few photos... being on "team hospitality" and knowing the cake-maker has distinct advantages. tip: want to ensure you get some? head to the kitchen and offer to help serve it. 


so, back in Dublin after lovely time spent with Jayne and Willow on Sunday, which was warm and nourishing like the cozy slipper socks and gorgeous stripey woolen sleeves Jayne gave me for my birthday, this is Reading Week. i've a week without classes and without proscribed* prescribed reading in which we are meant to be... well, reading, funnily enough. given the number of hours i've been reading for the past couple of months, having a thing called Reading Week seems slightly bizarre. some are calling it a week off. i'm calling it cleaning week. Halloween will be spent in the company of the incomparable Joel Dark, who is making a visit to Dublin. i figure that's worthy of finally getting round to giving this place an out-of-season spring clean.

(* doesn't matter if you spell it right if it ain't the word you want!)

i'm hoping the grocers have finally got some pumpkins so i can do some spooky carving.
there's some genuinely useful tips at this website

and hoping too wherever you are and whatever the season is bringing, you find nurture and care and love in your midst...

oh, and finally, happy birthday to beautiful Anniebananie.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the light of civil rights Pt 2

i was in a conversation last night about the civil rights movement in the US - about the choice to not fight hatred with hatred...to instead make the means the same as the ends being sought... you make peace by being peace... what i've taken to calling,
re-enacting the future...

here's a unique and valuable conversation those in Nashville should make or steal time for... i'm sorry i can't be there for this. the panelists are the very embodiment of living history.  full details of the line up available by clicking HERE for the Nashville Sister Cities website. 

even if you can't attend, please help spread the word today... tweet it, flag it, digg it, blog it, 'book it...


the light of civil rights Pt 1

for context - Maddow gives a clear run down of telling your YES from NO on Maine's Question 1.

yesterday, this was the must-see video on the Dish...

i hope this goes viral. facebookers and twitterers, if you feel so inclined, please send your friends and followers to YouTube to view this. this is the place where left and right meets. both supposed "sides" have something to learn from this.

there's a great Dish reader response to the video here
which includes the eloquent line, 

The two sides of the coin, the opacity of ignorance and the translucence of truth, can only be revealed in the presence of each other.

no less powerful is Sullivan's reply,

This is, indeed, the dynamic of civil rights movements. By standing up for real equality, we actually provoke more and more vocal hostility among some. What matters is the response to this hostility. Do we return it in kind - as we can often do? Or do we respond with the truth of our lives?
Sometimes, you have to bring the fear out in the open to dispel it. And that demands courage.

may the arc keep bending... 


more than DNA

re: the previous post, this is a (paraphrased) extract from a conversation i had with my brother last night...

cary: so, Chocky arrived. thanks! i love it! i was just blogging about it today.

ewan: oh, i look forward to seeing that. i'll check it out. i was waiting for [the dvd] to arrive. i didn't want to give away what your present was but i've been wanting to say, it turns out Chocky was written by the guy who wrote The Midwich Cuckoos! AND you might not know this, but i remember Pádraig told me he really loved Chocky so i was thinking it'd be cool if you two could watch it together sometime.
i woke this morning to see the comment below the previous post. 


seriously. :)


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

...a funny sort of bag

"You mean to carry carpets in?"
"No. Made of."


colour me sipping coffee, ignoring the pile of articles on Irish feminist activism of the early 20th century, listening to ep 5 of The Lake Effect and pulling out, if not a standing lamp, then a load of random stuff from the past few days...

i had the great privilege of one of my classes being led by Loretta Ross, National Coordinator of SisterSong - the Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective based in Atlanta, GA.
although focussed on reproductive justice for women of color, all women, and men, of all races are welcome to join Sistersong. their model of understanding reproductive justice and the process they use for building a coalition of diverse perspectives and particular causes is to me a remarkably strong one. Loretta was a joy to encounter and learn from. i thoroughly recommend checking them out and encouraging others to do the same.


over at the Daily Dish,
Andrew Sullivan shared this (to my mind) engrossing C-Span interview from 1995


i've been checking out Pete's blog entry, One Day I Hope to Believe in God

the ensuing online debate since William Crawley interviewed Pete at his last ikon before moving to the US has gotten pretty heated.
it's all been something of a storm in a teacup that would appear not to have broken out amongst anyone who actually participates in ikon. not to the best of my knowledge anyway. and if it had, i'd have been very surprised.

despite a wide range of perspectives, one thing the ikon collective doesn't tend towards is fighting each other over our diverse takes on what it means to ask if one 'believes in God'. i am always a bit bemused that others assume we all agree. and indeed that we agree with Pete, as if he had the monopoly on correct thought, rather than having a unique role within the collective and a wider platform to share his ideas.
so, i feel no need to intellectually defend Pete. his thoughts are his, and as a philosopher he can well take care of himself in that regard and do a far better job of it than i. but as his friend, even one who has openly differed with him, i find the tone of some of the critics weighing in to be unnecessarily barbed. and that's a reminder of why the process of ikon is not without value:

as a collective, we've hung in together in our diversity and even conflict over the years, and have persistently used creativity to draw us closer, as well as to express the nuance of our different perspectives. rather than sitting around arguing over our theological or philosophical differences, we continue to use that tension to fire our creativity.

what i have appreciated from Pete's posting and in particular, within the comments from site visitors, are a parable from Larry Tosh and a comment from Michael Danner. if i can find the space and time, i hope to write later in the week about these two offerings. i don't know either of these people but i found both of their contributions had strong resonance for me personally... 


my brother gives great gifts. this birthday's offerings were,

the gorgeous Beacons by Ohbijou

and, as just one of several sci-fi gifts from around the world, he gave me,
the DVD edition of classic 80s British sci-fi series, Chocky. i remember almost nothing about this show other than the name alone freaked me out and still does. just saying it creeps me out, though i've long forgotten why... very much looking forward to curling up on the sofa on a cold winter's afternoon with this.

the canon includes everything. except Noddy...
the Dr Who fans that visit here, or one of them anyway, might be interested to note that the series was adapted by Anthony Read - who also contributed to Sapphire and Steel ( i remember only one scene from that show but i know i loved it). and proving you can't move through the history of Dr Who writers without constantly tripping over Sherlock Holmes connections, he created yet another 80s series, The Baker Street Boys. but that's not what got me excited...

what i hadn't realised until now is that Chocky was a novel by John Wyndham. i remember David Dark recommending José Saramago's Blindness many years back. it was impossible not to read it as a contemporary rewrite of Wyndham's 1951, Day of the Triffids.
even more pertinent, however, is that Wyndham is the author of The Midwich Cuckoos, which in film form became an absolute late night cult favourite of Ewan's and mine - Village of the Damned.
a few birthday's back Ewan gifted me the 1960 original (featuring one of my favourite character actors of all time, George Sanders) the 1995 John (Halloween) Carpenter remake (featuring Kirstie Alley, Christopher Reeve & Mark Hamill - that it was Reeve's last movie before his accident somehow makes me feel a little guilty at calling it terrifically awful, but it is) and the 1963 sequel, Children of the Damned.


also in the sci-fi birthday mix:

Padraig and I share the same birthfest week and we made a deal this year to buy each other the same gift - Margaret Atwood's new dystopian novel, The Year of the Flood. it's a sequel to Oryx and Crake and although that wasn't my favourite Atwood offering by any stretch, it was too tempting to resist and the hardback cover and dust jacket are beautifully designed. i think i'm going to try and save it for my next transatlantic flight. until then, it'll be sitting on display as a coffee table objet d'art.

alrighty, closing the bag. back to reading what i'm supposed to be...


where in the world is Pete Rollins?

Pete's move to the US has been causing a stir in some corners of the blogosphere - most notably over at Will & Testament and his own blog (see blogs i'm following in RHSbar for both).
but a browse of this morning's news pages reveals Pete's transatlantic emigration and philosophical mission are all a front for launching his new sporting career...

“I’m all right. I had to curl up in the fetal position and throw some punches of my own,” Rollins said before taking a cream pie in the face from a teammate.
sounds just like a Monday night ikon planning meeting...

you heard it here first.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Strict Joy

album released 26 October
Fall/Winter tour dates and track samples (on RHS bar) here

don't know if it's on the album but the sampler includes a (possibly live) beautifully tender and simple version of The Frames deeply loved, Star Star**...

it's all yours Charlie, you've won the whole chocolate factory...

kind of sums up how i feel in this season.


times they are a changin'...

still trying to get back to everyone, but in the meantime thank you, thank you, thank you for such lovely birthday messages, y'all, here and elsewhere. this has been a very different birthday to all the birthdays that came before and has been lovely.

photos, i hope, are forthcoming.


in other matters... 37 years ago, Gloria Steinem exercises some remarkable self control. (from today's Meet the Press discussion on the Shriver Report and a 50% female workforce.)


Saturday, October 17, 2009

36 years ago today...

36 years on... i'm really really blessed. with so much love and family and dear friends.  
i've been invited to a birthday party on skype. which means i get to spend most of the day in my pj's on the sofa and watch people far away and yet so very close eat cake.

so much love...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house...

i've been busy the past week getting my first paper written. i'm finally coming up for air.

the days and weeks have a definite rhythm at the moment built around commitment to nourishing personal relationship and the work of reading reams of material for school. it's proving a good balance and i've had the longest totally anxiety free number of weeks i think i've quite possibly ever had in my entire life. i have never been more consistently calm, content and happy. ever. and that's something for which i am very grateful and feeling a little protective of at the moment. but i'll write more in due course.

episode 4 of the lake effect is devoted to the gorgeous work of Final Fantasy - original works, collaborations, remixes. makes for a deliciously good combination of tracks. Arcade Fire never sounded better to my ears than here. i think this finally put them in the context i was always looking for without knowing it. 

colour me _loving_ this ep and listening again as i read about the second wave feminist, 'sex wars'. class today is going to be very interesting. it's one thing to discuss suffrage movements. it's another thing entirely to discuss the political philosophy of pornography, sado-masochism and sex work. like i said, it's gonna be interesting.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

are you freaking kidding me? part 2

since the Conservative Bible project proved so popular, i'm guessing this additional offering from the dish* yesterday will likely have several of you laughing hysterically. and not in a good way.

this makes the conservative Bible seem like a sane idea... well, almost...
it's arse art! it's interactive! it's available for sale on canvas! and i think it'd make a fine addition to any American child's bedroom wall. they are, after all, the Rising Generation and good education starts with knowing Jesus wrote the US Constitution.

One Nation Under God  

don't say i didn't warn you...


* they call it "hathos" - a compulsive attraction to something you can't stand. e.g. this. (<--- so bad, i suggest taking medication)

Monday, October 05, 2009

are you freaking kidding me?

i really need to be reading for school but this is too good* not to pass on.
the link on the daily dish is broken so i did some investigating...

check out: Conservatizing the Bible.

i am struggling to believe this thing isn't a parody but the original page seems to be legit.


*that's not the word i wanted but i'm restraining myself

now _that's_ snazzy*

still available at your nearest Tie Rack.


*title dedicated to Ewan and Pád

Saturday, October 03, 2009

extreme right v2.0: slower, lower, weaker

i've been struck that the Olympic motto is not fastest, highest, strongest, but faster, higher, stronger... 

i was not only brought up to believe the taking part is what matters, but that it is good sporting spirit to commend your opponent. to compete with graciousness. and certainly not to laugh at those who lose. there is an uncomfortable gap between saying, "We won!" and "You lose!"

i know there are those, Sullivan included, who think Obama perhaps shouldn't have gone, but i like that heads of state these days make the effort to join their bidding cities - because imperfect though it may be, as all things are imperfect, the Olympics is for something. positive. global. i think it's something worth making time for.

as i watched the Olympic voting live online yesterday i wondered, with all the media chatter over Obama's choice to travel to Copenhagen, how the extreme right would react if Chigaco lost their Olympic bid.

there's not much sadder than folks actually falling below your lowest expectations...

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.
- from the Olympic creed.

consider this a round of applause for Chicago on the morning after. 

commiserations to Chicago. and Madrid. and Tokyo. well done Rio. and congratulations to all.

Citius, Altius, Fortius 


Friday, October 02, 2009


my mother passed away on this day 11 years ago. her father - aka Gramps - was born this day 100 years ago. my father is in Fife, Scotland, where Mum was laid to rest with her parents. he and Mum's favourite cousin are going to the cemetery today to pay their respects...


Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

 - Robert Louis Stevenson




45 calibre Jesus

this is America, i guess that should be caliber. then again, this is John Oliver.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea Partiers Advise G20 Protesters
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Thursday, October 01, 2009

for me, it's a Christian thing...

i'm off school, sick with a horrid chest cold. today was spent under a blanket watching interesting stuff on line. this was the conversation that made me sit up and listen closer more than any other. the full conversation is here.
the strength in the weakness of the cross. brought to you by Porsche. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

can i get a witness?

if you be on facebook, you can join The Lake Effect group for news and even hear the show there. details there on how to listen on your DAB radio if you find yourself in Ireland.

(you won't see me there as it'd mean me reactiving my account and i don't plan to do that for the time being but assume for now i am there in spirit.)

one of the rubbish things about really emotionally low in the opening months of this year was that it pretty much killed my love of music. in absence of being able to fly to Toron'o and being able to hang out with ewan and his vinyl collection and being taken on one of his tailor-made magical mystery tours, this really is the next best thing. it's a defibrillator for my musical senses...

(click here to keep reading)

The Lake Effect

episodes one and two now online... 



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

caught my ear

the latest Speaking of Faith, Living Islam features loads of Helios to _beautiful_ effect. 

you can hear the full playlist here. but i recommend the programme. some powerful reflections
from American Muslims on their sense of national and religious identity. this is a particularly striking interview, with Allee A. Ramadhan Sr. 
Feruze Faison's story is also really worth the time...

Recently, when I was attending the mosque, I noticed young people learning to recite the 114 Suras of the Quran. Those who have accomplished that effort have truly taken on and succeeded at a wonderful task. But I could not help but think that understanding is as important as reciting.
For my understanding allows me to recite the whole of the Quran in under five minutes. It is simply "I am the Lord thy God and I am a jealous God. Worship me and me alone." The rest are footnotes. I say that because I see man as pursued by the four horsemen of destruction: arrogance, ignorance, greed, and envy. As I look at man's history I can assign all the wars, human abuses, and man's indifference to suffering to one or more of these horsemen. It is only when we worship the one God as my holy book instructs that we remain humble. - Allee A Ramadahn Sr.


Monday, September 28, 2009

for a good cause...

have a looksee. support if you can...

The Tumnus Project


transmission coming soon, eh...

headzup yo, 

okay, this kind of caught us unawares. i've been waiting for a while now to be able to send you in the direction of The Lake Effect - my brother's first radio show, focussing on the Toronto music scene, which is being played on RTE's alternative digital station, 2XM.

wanna know more? click here: to keep reading transmission coming soon, eh...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

best kind of distraction


intermittent silences on these pages of late is, delightfully, because life is good. very good. and full. and good.
so, for once i can say, confidentally assume i'm doing well, and when i get the chance, the correspondance i owe to several of you will come... eventually.

so, health and happiness to all.

since they proved popular the other day, thanks to those who mailed to say, yay,
here's more from The Weepies...with a lovely fan created animation. enjoy...

you're golden.


Monday, September 21, 2009

there's only one way of life...

and that's your own. 

i picked this up at the daily dish. i've now read it 3 times. as a commenter says, a perfect pitch post.

Tim Kreider's great NYT essay on the lives we have not led... 


Saturday, September 19, 2009

make hope...

this is for Mark and Sara, who get married today. i so wish i was there in Nashville to celebrate this day with them, but i have to settle for being there in spirit. and that, i definitely am. as an engagement present mark bought sara a print that she loved, which reminded her of Chagall. so this seemed an appropriate way to honour the day ...

i've posted the weepies here before and i know i will again. awesome band. thanks to gail for gifting them to me. everyone should have this band in their collection. by law.

so, without further ado, _much_ love to mark and sara. may happiness be yours for many many days to come dear friends...
and may love bless you both.

Painting by Chagall by the Weepies.

Thunder rumbles in the distance, a quiet intensity
I am willful, your insistence is tugging at the best of me
You're the moon, I'm the water
You're Mars, calling up Neptune's daughter

Sometimes rain that's needed falls
We float like two lovers in a painting by Chagall
All around is sky and blue town
Holding these flowers for a wedding gown
We live so high above the ground, satellites surround us.

I am humbled in this city
There seems to be an endless sea of people like us
Wakeful dreamers, I pass them on the sunlit streets
In our rooms filled with laughter
We make hope from every small disaster

Everybody says "you can't, you can't, you can't, don't try."
Still everybody says that if they had the chance they'd fly like we do.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

standing up for what's right...

a superb post over at Peterson's blog today. he shares a breathtaking and powerful testimony - the case for standing up for transgender rights. 

this is a fiercely subversive witness to the justice (what cornel west called, "what love looks like in public") that changes the world if we live it.

as for me... i believe this universe is not ours to dictate who gets welcomed in. we are already all inside it. and all are welcome in it. where anyone is not being made welcome, pushed to the edges, not being honoured so that we all might live in authentic dignity, or not being given equality of respect, then there's work to be done. i believe living in radical welcome is redemption. for all of us.

there is nothing half-hearted about the gospel. if it isn't radically challenging and changing how we live in this world - transforming it, and us, into something more loving and beautifully human, then it's not the gospel of radical love in action.

it's all. or nothing.


RIP Patrick Swayze

carpe diem, people. none of us is promised a four score years and ten...

Patrick Swayze faced his illness with incredible courage, honesty and dignity.
and this is how he will be remembered by so many... and certainly by me. unquestionably a
cultural icon for my generation. certainly to the teenage girls we once were, and somewhere in us, still are and probably always will be...

no one puts Baby in the corner... 

you tell 'em, Jonny.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

comic. genius.

it's highly likely if you are reading this then you will know that i have a brother, ewan, and he is of immeasurable value to me. i'm looking forward to being able to promote a project he's about to embark on, which is one of the many lovely new things making this early autumn such a good season.

there is to match his gentle nature his incredible humour. and so i simply draw your attention to the comments below yesterday's post.

brother. i don't know how you imagine this stuff into existence, but i _love_ it.

:) :)


Sunday, September 13, 2009

bonnet rippers

i have now twice been tempted to take a photograph of the Paranormal Romance section in Dublin's branch of Waterstone's bookstore. simply because i can't believe such a thing is that popular that it gets its own section. it seems at a glance to be filled by multiple titles by a limited number of authors. but still, it's a full floor to ceiling genre. the almost exclusively blood-red-type-on-black- background covers seem to all feature pale skinned corseted women whom i can only assume have fallen for an immortal lover. and all look like they're on the verge of fainting. possibly with passion. possibly because their corsets need loosened.

seems however that near fainting is not reserved for women with a liking for the undead... see Bonnet Books from today's Daily Dish. my one question is this: why do the women on the covers appear to be wearing make-up? actually i have more than one question. i have several. but i'll let it be. it's not my thing. if it helps women connect in any way to their sexual desire in anything close to a positive fashion and without them feeling guilty for having it, then i suppose there might be a case for the genre. did i just say that? man, i must be in a good mood at the moment.

going by what i saw on a pre-gb09 trip to a well known Belfast Christian bookstore (to find books to be torn up and used to "make fire" in the Pyrotheology ritual) the Christian answer to Mills & Boon novels is a booming market. there was a huge stock of titles.

still, lest anyone fear i've recently had a full frontal lobotomy, while i was there i re-shelved a book on Evangelical Feminism into the Christian fiction section. as i had been advised before the visit, a little act of anarchy redeems the whole experience. and it did.

also seen and going no where near my wish list but made me laugh. well, groan if truth be told: Men are from Moab. Women are from Israel. Men are from Israel. Women are from Moab.
edited to add: i suspected i had that wrong. and i did. i'm sure it makes a _lot_ more sense round thataway.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

all good things...

this has been one intense and enlivening and terrifying and stunning week. it's left me exhausted and surprised and joyed and overwhelmed in the best possible and realised way.
i'm afraid to write anything right now. if i start, i don't know if i'd be able to stop.

so, for now, colour me loving life and feeling hopeful at what's unfurling.
and spending sunday buried in reading for school. and probably my duvet.
first on the list, virginia woolf.

i count all this as bliss.


Friday, September 11, 2009

begin again, contd.

read the poetry here


begin again

"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again."

—Flavia Weedn

(text that accompanies the amazing image for Revealing Ramadan - this week's Speaking of Faith.)


Monday, September 07, 2009

and so it all begins...

so, it all kicks off tomorrow.
the student portal, the likes of which i've never seen, has opened up now that i've picked my optional modules (a course on Masculinities in semester 1 and one on Sexualities in semester 2) and my registration is complete. the only word i need is: overwhelmed. and i'm not talking about the reading and research hours for my courses. i started totting them up and then thought there are some things better not knowing all at once. 

when i was last a student you got online by dial up. i'm not sure the guardian had a website. if it did, i didn't use it. i read the paper version every day. broadband wasn't even in my vocabulary.
if i wanted a book from the library, which could only hold a handful of people at a time, it was found by physical card search with no computer database. and the entire student body on my particular campus would fit on a double decker bus.

so i've just learned that in the university there are 5 colleges and in my college (of 4,500 students) there are 10 schools. and in my school there are two departments, Equality, and Women, both with undergraduate and graduate programmes. i'm thinking of making up a song a la, "and on that tree" from the wicker man to keep it all clear in my mind. the library takes up a massive building. there's a church and a bank and a bicycle store. and i need a map to know how to get to class. i've lived in villages with less than this.

and i have just realised that i am about to find myself amongst a student body in which the first year undergrads are half my age. half! how did that happen? i just hope that maybe they too find the whole thing just a little overwhelming.
and worse still, i realised i accepted my offer without first checking if there's anywhere to get a decent cup of coffee. fortunately a look at the campus map shows 3 branches of my favourite Irish caffeine chain, Insomnia.

and suddenly all seems well with the world again.


if i thought the student portal is overwhelming this... well this is the future. now.  

Sunday, September 06, 2009

movie magic...

from The Daily What

this is doing the viral rounds and it's quite wonderful.
a history of movie of special effects. nicely done. certainly made me smile.


Friday, September 04, 2009

summer's over... be glad to be alive

in other news, i have finally rectified something i have somehow overlooked - cheryl's blog is now listed in my blogs i'm following. always worth a looksee. [hold :: this space] over there --->


this next couple of days is all about back-to-school. i now have my work area set up. but clearing shelves to make way for my soon-to-be feminist library leaves me wishing i could snap my fingers to tidy up the nursery guest bedroom, where i dumped all the stuff needing an alternative home. apparently in every job that must be done there is an element of fun. right now i need some convincing of that. i think the element of fun is hidden under a pile of stuff.

and there's folders to be bought, notebooks and paper, and ink and a diary and i'm thinking one is never too old for the excitement of going to get one's new stationery. i can still remember getting my brown leather satchel from WHSmith for my first day at school. satchel not shown in this picture of that auspicious day 31 years ago...

a couple of fridays back i took a late morning train from dublin to belfast and at tea time (far too few hours later for my comfort frankly) this happened. disturbingly, it's been revealed the train authorities were warned 5 days earlier by a group of very concerned Sea Scouts, having watched the weir erode progressively for two months. nothing was done in response of the warning of imminent collapse, and it is something like a miracle that the last train made it across the collapsing rails and that no one was killed or injured.
all to say, with the massive disruption to the busiest rail line in the country, it meant for me my plan to finally bring my bike to dublin from belfast was instantly banjaxed. and for at least the rest of '09, as i can't put a bike on the bus. so a car journey is needed to get it here. (i like cycling but to be honest 100+ miles seems a little excessive. especially to my backside.)
in the meantime, i'll be using public transport to get to school. and so today features the first experiment, or dry run before classes start on tuesday. i have numerous options for getting there (buses, trams, walking) but there's no direct route from home to the university. i'm currently poring over maps and timetables planning the route. somehow i doubt Iarnród Éireann would be obliging if i sent them my bus and tram fares i'll be paying 'til i have my bike.

but i say all that because i need to remember: whatever the inconvenience, it's better to be jumping on and off buses than lots of people on a train, including me, being dead. given the choice, i'll gladly take the disruption. 


some final gb09 photos from Mo and i. thanks MoMo. feel free to add captions/thought bubbles for the last one... :)

(jayne on the ferry home; the irish sea takes us back to dublin; me at Padraig's poetry reading; dinner with Chris at camp fury; at Duke Special with Jayne; i would love to know what it was we were discussing... )


it was 33 years ago today

happy birthday to my ewan... 
i love him like no other. because he was, is and always will be, my little brother.      


it really is as simple and incomparable as that.