Wednesday, March 29, 2006


completely ignoring the last post for the moment (i will devote some proper time to it once my hecticness is over i.e. this weekend onwards), and for the sake of a fluffier title at the top of the archive, here's a couple of mind-soothers...

what i am reading between now and may(and in some cases, re-reading, for my course and otherwise)

emile zola - therese raquin & germinal
augusten burroughs - running with scissors
robert hough - the final confession of mabel stark
oscar wilde - the picture of dorian grey
alexandra kollontai - love of worker bees
john monaghan and peter just - social and cultural anthropology: a very short introduction
sylvia plath - collected poems
popular culture (no longer applies to us) zine
shakespeare - a midsummer night's dream & othello

what's on my mp3whatsitthing at the moment

king creosote
nick cave
elliott smith
arcade fire
film school
tex la homa
sufjan stevens
the notwist

Monday, March 27, 2006

big rant time - rape and sexual abuse

Buckle up: Swedish teens design anti-rape belt
STOCKHOLM, Nov 22 (AFP) A group of Swedish teenage girls has designed a belt that requires two hands to remove and which they hope will deter would-be rapists, one of the creators told AFP on Tuesday.
"It's like a reverse chastity belt," one of the creators, 19-year-old Nadja Bjoerk, told AFP, meaning that the wearer is in control, instead of being controled.
The military-style buckle has a latch that the wearer has to move through a labyrinth into the correct position in order to unlock the belt.
"You need two hands to open it, so the rapist can't hold you down and open it at the same time. It takes a while to figure it out if you don't know what you're doing," she said.
The product was designed as part of a high school project in entrepreneurialism and the girls have already sold 300 of the belts in Sweden, priced at 150 kronor (18 dollars, 16 euros).
Bjoerk and one of her partners now plan to start a business to mass produce the belts and are currently in negotiations with potential partners.
"But I'm not doing this for the money," she said. "I'm really passionate about stopping rape. I think it's terrible."
The Swedish media have in recent months given wide and descriptive coverage to rape attacks, though experts' opinions vary on whether there has been an actual rise in the number of such crimes.

originally published on : SWEDEN.SE (administered by the Swedish Institute)

discussionrant to follow.

in fact this is it.

i was discussing issues of rape with a very good friend i've known years.
he's affronted by the fact that this campaign is running, without a similar one to women saying not to flirt too much, not to get pissed and go home with strangers and not expect them to demand sex...

for the purposes of this rant, i'm going to refer to rape in the context of men raping women. i'm fully aware that it's not always that way. i've also argued tonight that rape is not a feminist issue or a 'wimmins' issue, it can and does affect everyone.

we talked about the subject of rape/consent within relationships.
astoundingly, he came up with the argument that 'if you get married and take christian marriage vows, you're legally bound to provide your husband with sex, consensual or not'.

there are so many things that i'm bristling about.

i've been googling the 'traditional' christian marriage vows. the closest i can find that would stretch to (and it would have to be an exceedingly long stretch) that is 'to have and to hold', which is said by both bride and groom. along with 'to love and to cherish'.

in 1994, marital rape and male rape were both made illegal, which does away with the obligation bit..... (i'm not entirely sure that there was every anything saying you had to follow your marriage vows to the letter either... ok, they may well be cited in cases of divorce etc, but i can't exactly seeing them used as defense for rape)...

so so so many more levels to this, but i'll leave it for now.

in response to my argument that it shouldn't be a woman's responsibility not to get raped, but rather a man's responsibility to control himself, his response was 'it's like trying to politely ask a hungry dog not to bite you, instead of recognising what it is and just kicking its head off'.

yes, of course we need to take steps to look after ourselves. but with stuff like the 'rape belt' coming out and being seen as a woman's "responsibility", at what point does it turn from the (pathetic but unfortunately commonly held) view of 'she was wearing a mini skirt - she asked for it' to 'she wasn't wearing a rape belt, she asked for it'?.

i'm not informed enough to quote statistics, to give rousing references to speeches made by relevant people. and i don't think the point of this post is to do any of that. not even to put an argument forward (despite the entire content of it.. hm)... i'm just *really* wanting to let off some steam on this one.

i'm tired of living in a world where it's considered necessary to invent new ways of preventing being raped.

i'm tired of living in a world where a 13 year old boy is given a three year supervision order

(nb supervision order definition: A Supervision Order can last up to three years. A range of conditions can be attached to a Supervision Order when the sentence is used for more serious offences. These are called 'specified activities' and can last for up to 90 days. Examples of 'specified activities' might be participation in an Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP), drug treatment (for young people aged 16+), curfews or residence requirements which might require a young person to live in local authority accommodation for the period of the sentence.A young person receiving a Supervision Order is also required to take part in activities set by the Youth Offending Team (YOT) which could include repairing the harm done by their offence either to the victim or the community and programmes to address their offending behaviour such as anger management")

for "two counts of attempted rape, eight of sexual assault and three of inciting another boy to engage in sexual activity ". The children he abused were eight and four, respectively.

i'm tired that it happened in the first place, i'm tired that it even occurred to a kid to *do* that, i'm tired of the apparent lack of concern that the case has generated.

i've discussed similar cases involving kids of similar ages before with other people. One of the arguments that comes out often is 'but they were young. they probably didn't know what they were doing. they were curious', implying it's a (minorly) unhealthy part of 'sex play' or childrens sexual development or whatever, but completely un-blamable.

i was very interested to see a quote from the director of Kidscape, describing the sentence as the "wrong decision".
She said: "We know that many older paedophiles do start abusing children when they are about 12 or 13. "

please get me out off of this planet.

Sunday, March 26, 2006 - Because real gay and lesbian news is too damn depressing.

Friday, March 24, 2006

street pianos

Friday, March 17, 2006

cwwn - for love or money

Contemporary Women's Fiction in the Marketplace conference.

the literary nerd in me is slavering.

a not-quite mysterybenefactress has funded the accommodation part, and will be repaid on the next stupid loan instalment, as will others for the registration fee and food.


the schedule.

Friday 21st April, 2006

Keynote Speaker – Michèle Roberts

Saturday 22nd April, 2006

Panel One

A. Economies of Excess: Genre and the Marketplace

Melanie Waters (University of Newcastle), ‘“The Facts of her Life”: The Currency of (Female) Confession in the Literary Marketplace’
Becky Munford (University of Exeter), ‘Feeding (off) the Literary Marketplace: Gothic Romance and (Inter)textual Excess in Contemporary Women’s Writing’

B. Contextualising the Woman Writer

Peta Mayer (Melbourne University), ‘Book Writes Author: Hotel du Lac, Anita Brookner and the Biographical Impulse of the Literary Marketplace’
Susan Watkins (Leeds Metropolitan University), ‘The “Jane Somers” Hoax: Doris Lessing, Gender, Aging and the Cult of the (Young) Celebrity Women Writer’
Mary Eagleton (Leeds Metropolitan University), ‘Mapping Contemporary Women’s Fiction’

Panel Two

A. Sarah Waters and Her Contexts

Paulina Palmer (Birkbeck UL & Warwick University), ‘She began to show me the words she had written one by one’: Lesbian Readership, its Cultural and Commercial Construction, and its Role in the Fiction of Sarah Waters’
Heather Emmens (Queen’s University, Ontario), ‘“Nancy, Where’s Your Troosers?”: BBC TV Adaptations of Contemporary Lesbian Novels’
Mark Llewellyn (University of Liverpool), ‘Queer Commerce: The Marketing of Sarah Waters’

B. Jeanette Winterson and her Contexts

Sonia Maria Melchiorre (Univeristà della Tuscia), ‘“Our Glorious Celebration of Love”: Shaw, Warner and Winterson’s The Powerbook on the Italian Stage’
Pauline MacPherson (University of Dundee), ‘“Fictions Can Change: It’s Only the Facts that Trap Us”: Images of Female Sexuality from Oranges to Velvet’
Ginette Carpenter (Manchester Metropolitan University), “What is it you want?”: The Woman Writer and Reader in Winterson’s The PowerBook’

Panel Three

A. Family Hauntings

Sinead McDermott (University of Limerick), ‘Kate Atkinson’s Family Romances’
Lucie Armitt (University of Wales, Bangor), ‘Dark Departures: Contemporary Women’s Writing after the Gothic’
Sarah Gamble (University of Wales, Swansea), ‘“The Present is Only the Past Amended”: The Uncanny Cityscapes of Maggie O’Farrell’s My Lover’s Lover’

B. Rewritings of Historical Fiction

K. Elizabeth Spillman (University of Wales, Bangor), ‘Alternative Austens: Rewriting, Revising, Representing’
Lynette Frey (Murdoch University), ‘The Abridged Subject: Women’s Fictions into Film’
Liedeke Plate (Radboud University Nijmegen), ‘Whatever Happened to Re-Vision? Feminist Rewritings and the Classics Revisited’

Panel Four

A. Teaching Women’s Writing

Sonya Andermahr (University of Northampton), ‘“Selling” Feminist Fiction in the 21st Century Classroom’
Deborah Wynne (University of Chester), ‘Tipping the Canon: Teaching Contemporary Women’s Writing in Higher Education’
Mary McNally (University of Derby), ‘“Gendered Voices”, or is it Necessary/Desirable to have a Module with the title Contemporary Women’s Writing/Fiction in the 21st Century?’

B. Chick Lit. vs Women’s writing

Kaye Mitchell (University of Westminster), ‘On Not Being a “Woman Writer”: A.L. Kennedy and the Gendering of Literary Form and Content’
Karin E. Westman (Kansas State University), ‘Seeing Bridget Jones, Seeing England’
Emma Parker (University of Leicester), ‘Sold on Love: Michèle Roberts and Romance’

Keynote Speaker: Sarah Waters

Sunday 23rd April, 2006

Panel Five

A. Reel Lives: The Woman Writer and the Contemporary Bio-Pic

Josephine Dolan (University of the West of England), ‘The Tension of The Hours’
Suzy Gordon (University of the West of England), ‘Knowing Sylvia’
Estella Tincknell (University of the West of England), ‘Iris and the Impossibility of Female Authorship’

B. Adaptations to Film

Charlotte Beyer (University of Gloucestershire), ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence: Text and Film’

11.30–1pm Panel Six

A. Three Women Writers: Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon, A. S. Byatt

Imelda Whelehan (Leicester De Montfort University), ‘“The Bloodless Revolution”: Feminism, Publishing and the Mass Media in Weldon’s Big Women’
Katsura Sako (University of Warwick), ‘A Portrait of A. S. Byatt, an Academic, Critic and Novelist: Synthesis of Critical and Imaginative Minds’
Kiriaki Massoura (Northumbria University), ‘Human Body and Language versus Cyborg Body and Science: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake’

B. Women and Cultural Violence

Clare Hanson (Loughborough University), ‘Bestselling Bodies: post-feminist post-mortems, post-mortem post-feminisms’
Gina Wisker (Anglia Ruskin University), ‘Moving beyond Theft and Waste: Postcolonial Women’s Gothic’
Edith Frampton (San Diego State University), ‘From the Nobel to Oprah: High Culture, the Marketplace and Toni Morrison’

A Party in honour of the career of Dr Margaret Beetham

Introduced by Dr Elspeth Graham.

Includes Buffet Lunch

Inaugural AGM of the CWWN, Chaired by Mary Eagleton, Reader in English, Leeds Metropolitan University.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

two poems


Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn,
More coiled steel than living - a poised
Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start, a bounce,
a stab
Overtake the instant and drag out some writhing thing.
No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states,
No sighs or head-scratchings. Nothing but bounce and stab
And a ravening second.

Is it their single-mind-sized skulls, or a trained
Body, or genius, or a nestful of brats
Gives their days this bullet and automatic
Purpose? Mozart's brain had it, and the shark's mouth
That hungers down the blood-smell even to a leak of its own
Side and devouring of itself: efficiency which
Strikes too streamlined for any doubt to pluck at it
Or obstruction deflect.

With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback,
Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk,
Carving at a tiny ivory ornament
For years: his act worships itself - while for him,
Though he bends to be blent in the prayer, how loud and
above what
Furious spaces of fire do the distracting devils
Orgy and hosannah, under what wilderness
Of black silent waters weep.

Ted Hughes

Morning Song

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

thomas truax at leeds brudenell social club

on saturday just gone.

thankfully (for you), i forgot my camera, so you'll not be graced with shoddy photos for this one.
picture from fluttr site

"thomas truax (pronounced troo-aks) plays mechanical sound sculptures and instruments which he builds himself out of found objects and spare parts (such as the Hornicator), as well as with more standard gear like the guitar. He is an illegitimate son of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and a mad scientist of music with a history as a stop-motion animator".

he is what i can only describe as an oddball musical genius, hailing from both new york and the mythical wowtown. instruments include the hornicator, the stringaling, the cadillac beatspinner wheel, the back beater and the sister spinster.

starting with 'prove it to my daughter', he managed to instantly captivate the crowd, before starting up the sister spinster for 'shooting stars' with yodelling galore...
this was followed by 'inside the internet' (complete with pocket modem noises), then an acoustic full moon over wowtown, in which mr truax made his way around the whole club, standing on tables and balancing on bars, while managing to not drop a single note.

'the butterfly and the entomologist' span a story of a hitchiking pollinator insect, escaped from a 'bastard entomologist' by tearing her own wing away from the board she was pinned to.... (lyrics here)truax's monologue assures us that he 'is not a violent man', in response to the butterfly's song that she is 'going to a no-mans land, as men and violence are intertwined'. however, at the end of the song, he rescues the butterfly from being captured, and gives the entomologist his 'just desserts': "I moved as if by instinct, I did it without thought / I clipped him and I kicked him / And I grabbed him 'round the throat / I pinned him to the wall and his eyes were bulging wide / I said if there's a next time I will see YOU crucified."
when he turns round again, the butterfly has disappeared, singing the same two lines... serious-ish stuff, for (at first glance, at least) a 'novelty' act..

we were next treated to 'in my dreams', which preceded the encores.
the stringaling (which contains the most common material in the manufacturing world - looked like tumble drier vent tubing) made an appearance in 'whistle while you sleep', and 'audio addiction' came complete with flashing light 'rave rings'. the final song, 'the fish (i'm coming home)', about a wowtown prostitute, involved audience participation, sampling, looping and incredible harmonies.

a perfect showman, thomas truax is on tour around the uk and europe for a while yet - catch him if you can:

"Wed 15 UK, Cheltenham, Flak, 16 Bath St, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1YE Tel: 01242 524011 Doors 7.30 Admission £5
Thu 16 UK, Southampton, Joiners Ejector Seat Venue: The Joiners Venue Address: 141 St Mary St, Southampton, SO14 1NS Box Office number / website: 02380 632601 -
Sun 19 Denmark, Klub Argot
Tue 21 Holland, Amsterdam, De Anita
Wed 22 France, Bordeaux, El Inca website: Time of doors: 20h30 Price of ticket: 3 euros
Thur 23 France, Angouleme at le mars attack, place du champ de mars, 16000 angouleme, france.
Fri 24 France, Bourges friche l'Antre Peaux, 26 route de la Chapelle, 18000 Bourges
Sat 25 Germany, Cologne, TrashBin / Hšninger Weg 208 / Kšln-Zollstock supporting YANCEE PORNICK CASINO 10 euros
thur 30 Italy, Clandestino -Faenza
Fri 31 Italy, Sin-e-Rovigo


Sat 1 Italy, Zuni-Ferrara
Sun 2 Italy, FreeMuzik-Brescia
Tues 4 UK, London, Spitz The Spitz ( 109 Commercial St Old Spitalfields Market London E1 6BG £7 7:30pm
Fri 7 UK, Manchester, Akoustik Anarkhy Truax 7" single launch Party
Sat 8 UK, Northampton, Labour Club
Fri 14 UK Nottingham, Junktion 7 (with Chemistry Experiment)
Sat 15 UK, Edinburgh, Cabaret Voltaire
Mon 17 UK, Aberdeen, The Tunnels

Travelling one man acts have a complicated life, these dates may not be updated to accomodate last minute changes, Please check with venues near dates to confirm and for further details."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

my drugs hell II

i posted in november about citalopram/antidepressants, and details of their potential side effects.

i'm posting about withdrawal effects this time.

as somebody has pointed out to me, and i unfortunately experienced, you Don't Fuck About with coming off long term (well, 18 months, if that's long term?) medication.
my reduction, as planned with my gp, was absolutely fine. my life was (and still is) cool, i was (and still am) pretty happy...
did my gallivanting across the country week watching bands and exhausting myself.. and forgot to take my tablets with me. my doc had said that i should be reducing down to no mg/day by this time, so i figured i may as well.. and booked an appointment to see her, which was week and a half after i got back.
unfortunately, what i presume to be either withdrawal effects or an unexpected nervous breakdown (which has righted itself since i started taking them again) hit at the beginning of the week of my appointment.... also coincided with the worst Monthly Event i've ever had - i not only had pmt, but d[uring]mt too. tearful at the drop of a hat (i got hysterical over the news story of the baby giraffes that died following a zoo fire), stressed out, not sleeping til about 4am, missing uni due to disturbed sleep pattern, and even getting slightly aggressive (not physically, just incredibly snappy and a bit over-strung).. which i think you'd agree is way out of character for me.

oh and i even got barred from my favourite nightclub. i wish it were for biting someone's ear off or something equally exciting, but no. i'm not barred any more but i'm too ashamed to go back...

so yup, i'm back on 10mg every other day, and seeing how i go. so far, i've been alright. a few major stresses in other areas, but in terms of mental health, i feel positively sane these days.

the week of madness really shook me up, but as my fabulous gp pointed out, some people have no problem coming off them, some people find they have to cut down in terms of halving a tablet, and then halving that again, every other day..
she also suggested it possibly wasn't the right time to try and quit smoking (heh) and, at my request and crap sense of humour, my medical notes now have 'a bit all over the shop, really' in them forever.

i was aware too it is prescribed for long term use, which (it has been pointed out to me) means that it is possibly not as 'lightweight' as i first thought, especially as i never seemed to get any major symptoms or side effects when i started taking it, i kind of presumed i wouldn't get any coming off it.

i'm also putting in a quick blog shite disclaimer:
i've never claimed this would be a Serious site, and the contents of my head are often just fluff, kittens and music. i do reserve the right to remove my tongue from my cheek at any point and go all poker faced at you from time to time.
thanks for sticking with me, gentle reader.

(oh, and don't worry *too* much that i've lost it - the mental health post last week was for someone else's benefit, not mine).

south dakota tightens abortion laws

... making it a crime for doctors to perform terminations unless a womans life is at risk and forbids exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
bbc link

an anonymous donor has given $1m to back the new laws should they be challenged in court. and winsconsin pro-lifers are getting giddy

Planned Parenthood, the state's only abortion clinic, have vowed to challenge the new laws. they also have a 'donate now' button on their site.

this is one of the supreme council, relatively recently elected, whose influence is being credited with 'encouraging' the attitudes which enabled the bill to get passed..... he also recently voted to uphold all restrictions in Pennyslvania law, requiring a woman to notify her husband before an abortion.

the first i'd heard of any of this was when i checked out the excellent biting beaver site, for the first time in too long. the idea posted gave a simple and effective message - in "supporting" the bill, they sent the governor's office wire coathangers, as the state health agencies would 'need vast stockpiles of these to handle the demand'.

good luck to planned parenthood.

international opposition to the usa's increasingly right wing anti-abortion/anti-sex education/pig ignorance and, in terms of hiv prevention and education, wilful accessory to manslaughter (sorry if that's too emotive, but they're effectively abetting preventable deaths) is emerging.

a recent post by merrick on bristling badger details an International Planned Parenthood Federation report, produced at the behest of the UK government's Department for International Development. it concluded that 19 million women (200 a day) will have unsafe abortions this year. 70,000 of these women will die agonising appalling deaths because of the procedure.
on election, the bush administration issued a 'global gag' order, which cut funding to international agencies who wished to offer support to women seeking abortions.
In the light of the report, a fund called the Global Safe Abortion Programme is being set up specifically to replace the money withdrawn by the usa due to the 'global gag'. The founder donor of the fund is the UK government's DfID.
(thanks to merrick for that, and apologies for the paraphrased repost)

Monday, March 06, 2006


...are an AMAZING band from brighton. i'm championing them to everyone i know.

their homepage
their myspace, where you can stream some of their music, if my attempt on here doesn't work..

"Band Members:
lloyd wadey - vocals, guitar, bass, keys & samples, mixed with words, a purveyor of all manner of ideas to veldt.

james waterland - guitar, bass, keys & samples, well known for mixing sartorial savvy with kaleidoscopic sweeping sounds.

mike alexander - cello , keys & vocals, ostensibly a lover of both classical music and literature

Influences: John Barry, Roy Budd, Lalo Schifrin & all great 60/70s film themes, 60s psych, The Zombies, Billy Nicholls, David McWilliams, Great Singers such as Scott Walker, Elvis, Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, Dusty Springfield to name a few, and electronica, Stockhausen, et al....anything that makes us sit up and listen

Sounds Like: Scott Walker being mugged by Portishead. Weapons supplied by Lee Hazlewood.

Record Label: Outstanding Records

Type of Label: Indie "

they're playing Dingwalls @ Lock 17, London, Mar 13 2006 7:45pm.

i'm not going to it, but would love to see them live. i have just spent the equivalent of a packet of tobacco on one of their singles on ebay (note to self: why on earth didn't i order through the website??? damn you, wine and internet access) and will use my inhalator tomorrow. (actually, this might be a dead good way of quitting smoking - spending the equivalent on music instead of fags.. )

highly recommended, hope they do well
Watch the Walking in Silence Video:

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mental Illness - A serious topic

Reproduced/reposted/copied and pasted from the blog of dr phunk.
For various reasons I thought I would go all serious for a few minutes. I want to write about a difficult topic. Mental illness.

Mental illness is common. About 1 in 3 people will have a mental health problem at some point in their life. These problems range from mild to severe. There is a chance that someone you know and love will have a mental health problem at some time.

If that happens, what do you do? How do you deal with it? Can you help?

Think about it for a second.

If you don't have an answer you could try this link

It might give you some help. I hope you are never in that situation because it is difficult.

Remember, you can always get help.

Thank you very much for posting that, ph/funky.