Monday, April 30, 2007

A Feminist View

I have been picked to represent the office at a week-long Young Ireland conference, joining with those representing Scotland and Northern Ireland, at Stranraer in June. The programme and info are here, but basically it's a collection of people coming together to debate current events and topical issues, and to discuss ways in which change can be affected. You also have the honour of hearing speakers from a broad range of cultural bases, with even broader ranges of experience. Last year hosted Robert Fischer, as well as a man who lost his child in the Dunblane massacre, an ex-Iraqi college student who's speaking out against Saddam's regime resulted in his exile and his brother's execution, the family member of a holocaust survivor, and many more. This year should prove to be just as interesting, and I'm really looking forward to it!

I'm delighted to have been chosen, and feel extremely proud...but still a little apprehensive! Not only will I have to take part in group discussion and debate every day (from 9-7), but I must also prepare a 900-word treatise arguing the case of a subject of my choice, which will be duly picked apart by other members when I read it out at the conference!

I have settled on Feminism and it's relation to modern day woman as my topic. I think that the subject most adequately sums up my attitude to life and general way of living, and will therefore be an easier topic to stand by - since I fully believe in the strength and power of woman.

I came across a post earlier today on The Guardian newspaper's website, which details how Beth Ditto of The Gossip is to be their new 'agony aunt'. She wrote an article introducing herself, which features on the site, and I find it a fitting little karma flit to point me in the right direction...I wasn't completely sure if the Feminism topic was the right one, but I think that this little 'sign' nudges me forward.

I'll leave the final word to Beth...

"I was reading an article recently that suggested I was really wild and crazy and described me as "the woman who puts Courtney Love to shame". I just thought: "What?!" It was really funny to me, because I actually have the opposite of a rock-star lifestyle. I mean, I have to play shows and what not, but outside of that I'm a grandma. I do things like bake cakes and worry about whether I have time to pot my flowers before it gets too cold. I live with two of my best friends in Portland, Oregon, and I'll say to them, "What do y'all wanna do tonight? You want me to make devilled eggs?" And they'll nod, "Yeah, that sounds gooooood."

There have been a lot of times in my life when I wished that someone was around to be really honest with me, to say, "What the fuck are you doing?" Realistically it's often easier if that doesn't come from your friends, but from someone at a distance. That's why I'm so excited about starting this column in G2, addressing your questions and dilemmas. I'd love to be able to help convince people to accept themselves and to let go of what other people think of them - I think that's one of the most important things you can do.

Growing up isn't easy when you're different from other kids. I was physically different, and a lesbian, too, so there was potentially a lot to deal with. Pretty early on I perfected that fat kid thing where, every time someone was gonna say something nasty, I'd try to beat 'em to the punch. Before they could make fun of me, I would go and make fun of me. And that turned out to be a great asset, because it helped me to develop my wit. I think I'm really lucky.

People still sometimes comment on the way I look, but at this stage they can't tell me anything I don't already know. I know I'm fat, I know I'm quirky, I know my teeth are yellow. I do actually have access to a mirror, so this hasn't got past me. When people say things like that, I just feel like saying - "Duh?" Or, "Wow, you're a genius, you should be a photographer. You have such impeccable vision."

I didn't read a lot of teenage advice columns when I was growing up, partly because I couldn't relate to them. I would read them and think: "I don't have trouble with boyfriends - I'm scared that my mom can't pay the rent." I was brought up by a single mom in a poor town in Arkansas and while some aspects of smalltown life were really positive - like the fact that everyone there is really sweet and hospitable - there is also this close-minded mentality, and that naturally made me want to rebel.

Junior high was tough for lots of reasons, one of which was that my aunt was dying, and I was looking after her. High school wasn't so bad though because, by then, I had worked out that there were far more nerdy kids and poor kids than there were rich, popular kids, so, at the very least, we had them outnumbered. Also, the school was really small and I knew most people - there were 65 kids in my graduating class, and half of those were my cousins.

I slowly came out of the closet between the ages of 15 and 18. There were a lot of people in Arkansas that I just couldn't tell - it wasn't that I thought they'd be horrible, just that they wouldn't really understand. At that point I realised that if I didn't get out of there, I was going to stay miserable, and I would never have a life that I really loved or even understood.
Moving away from Arkansas was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I remember thinking - I can buy a plane ticket with my last $200, or I can stay here and get pregnant. Those were my two options. Staying would definitely have been easier, because I had no idea what lay ahead. For instance, until I was 18 I'd never even seen a bagel, let alone eaten one. And I had no money, no back-up at all.

Once I did, though, it was brilliant. I moved to this feminist scene in Olympia, Washington, where everyone was in a band and playing music, and it was beautiful. I had so much support that it was ridiculous. Everyone was talking to each other and teaching each other and making art. They were putting on DIY festivals and it was amazing. At that point I came out kicking and screaming - I was so out of the closet it was insane!

My life hasn't been conventional and it hasn't been linear. I've had to make it up as I've gone along, which has taught me a lot. If you don't accept the obvious options that are laid out for you, it's up to you to work out where you're going and to create your own specific rules and goals. I definitely have my own set of rules that I try to live by. I'm a feminist, of course, and I feel as if I'm very politically correct, although I do question what's PC and what's not - I don't just accept what I'm told. I always analyse the information in front of me and I think if more people developed their own rules to live by rather than just accepting the status quo, we would probably all be much happier.

One rule that I always stick to is to stay away from drugs, which is why this idea that I'm a wild, crazy rock star is so hilarious. I just don't think that drugs are cool. I know there are people who can take them and still handle things, but I've seen so many people destroy their creativity and their lives and I have no desire to be one of them. I also have no desire to be someone who has that kind of influence or effect on youth. I don't mean that in an egotistical way - "If I do it, the children will do it" - but, truthfully, you never know who is watching you.

I really believe in the golden rule: treat other people as you would want to be treated. And also in honest, direct communication. I don't think that honesty is always the best policy, because you can really hurt someone's feelings that way. But I think that, given the right moment, the right situation and timing, tactful, honest communication is everything.

To be honest, there isn't any question I wouldn't want to be asked. Even if it's personal. Even if it's scary. Even if it's, "How do you take in your trousers so that they fit you properly?" I'm up for all of it. Bring it on!"

Friday 27 April 2007, The Guardian,,2066817,00.html

Friday, April 27, 2007

Scientology - the way forward!

I mean, when you think about how CRAZY we Catholics are to believe that someone DIED and then ROSE from the dead? It’s just nuts! Quite obviously, the logical mind should focus on FACTS and FIGURES and SCIENCE when explaining the everlasting questions – who we are, why we are here, and how the hell we got on this stinking planet.

Thankfully, Scientology holds the answer. Here is a description of the beginning of time, as detailed by the master himself, L. Ron da man!!

“The story of Xenu is covered in OT III, part of Scientology's secret "Advanced Technology" doctrines taught only to advanced members. It is described in more detail in the accompanying confidential "Assists" lecture of 3 October 1968 and is dramatized in Revolt in the Stars (an unpublished screenplay written by L Ron Hubbard during the late 1970s). Direct quotations in this section are from these sources.

Seventy-five million years ago, Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as Teegeeack. The planets were overpopulated, each having on average 178 billion people. The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with people "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth.

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of "renegades", he defeated the populace and the "Loyal Officers", a force for good that was opposed to Xenu. Then, with the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of people to paralyze them with injections of alcohol and glycol, under the pretense that they were being called for "income tax inspections". The kidnapped populace was loaded into space planes for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The space planes were exact copies of Douglas DC-8s, "except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't." DC-8s have jet engines, not propellers, although Hubbard may have meant the turbine fans.

When the space planes had reached Teegeeack/Earth, the paralyzed people were unloaded and stacked around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were lowered into the volcanoes, and all were detonated simultaneously. Only a few people's physical bodies survived. Hubbard described the scene in his film script, Revolt in the Stars:

'Simultaneously, the planted charges erupted. Atomic blasts ballooned from the craters of Loa, Vesuvius, Shasta, Washington, Fujiyama, Etna, and many, many others. Arching higher and higher, up and outwards, towering clouds mushroomed, shot through with flashes of flame, waste and fission. Great winds raced tumultuously across the face of Earth, spreading tales of destruction. Debris-studded, and sickly yellow, the atomic clouds followed close on the heels of the winds. Their bow-shaped fronts encroached inexorably upon forest, city and mankind, they delivered their gifts of death and radiation. A skyscraper, tall and arrow-straight, bent over to form a question mark to the very idea of humanity before crumbling into the screaming city below…'

L. Ron Hubbar, Revolt in the Stars treatment

The now-disembodied victims' souls, which Hubbard called thetans, were blown into the air by the blast. They were captured by Xenu's forces using an "electronic ribbon" ("which also was a type of standing wave") and sucked into "vacuum zones" around the world. The hundreds of billions of captured thetans were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for 36 days. This implanted what Hubbard termed "various misleading data"' (collectively termed the R6 implant) into the memories of the hapless thetans, "which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, etcetera". This included all world religions, with Hubbard specifically attributing Roman Catholicism and the image of the Crucifixion to the influence of Xenu. The interior decoration of "all modern theaters" is also said by Hubbard to be due to an unconscious recollection of Xenu's implants. The two "implant stations" cited by Hubbard were said to have been located on Hawaii and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

In addition to implanting new beliefs in the thetans, the images deprived them of their sense of personal identity. When the thetans left the projection areas, they started to cluster together in groups of a few thousand, having lost the ability to differentiate between each other. Each cluster of thetans gathered into one of the few remaining bodies that survived the explosion. These became what are known as body thetans, which are said to be still clinging to and adversely affecting everyone except those Scientologists who have performed the necessary steps to remove them.

The Loyal Officers finally overthrew Xenu and locked him away in a mountain, where he was imprisoned forever by a force field powered by an eternal battery. (Some have suggested that Xenu is imprisoned on Earth in the Pyrenees, but Hubbard merely refers to "one of these planets" [of the Galactic Confederacy]; he does, however, refer to the Pyrenees as being the site of the last operating "Martian report station", which is probably the source of this particular confusion.) Teegeeack/Earth was subsequently abandoned by the Galactic Confederacy and remains a pariah "prison planet" to this day, although it has suffered repeatedly from incursions by alien "Invader Forces" since that time.”

It all makes sense, now.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Things to remember on this slightly-dark day!

League titles: 18

1900-01, 1905-06, 1921-22, 1922-23, 1946-47, 1963-64, 1965-66, 1972-73, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88, 1989-90

European Cups and UEFA Champions League titles: 5

1977 3-1 vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
1978 1-0 vs. Club Brugge
1981 1-0 vs. Real Madrid
1984 1-1 (4-2 in penalty shootout) vs. AS Roma
2005 3-3 (3-2 in penalty shootout) vs. AC Milan

UEFA Cups: 3

1973 3-2 agg (L1:3-0; L2:0-2) vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
1976 4-3 agg (L1:3-2; L2:1-1) vs. Club Brugge
2001 5-4 (after golden goal) vs. Alavés

FA Cups: 7

1965 2-1 (after extra time) vs. Leeds United
1974 3-0 vs. Newcastle United
1986 3-1 vs. Everton
1989 3-2 (after extra time) vs. Everton
1992 2-0 vs. Sunderland
2001 2-1 vs. Arsenal
2006 3-3 (3-1 in penalty shootout) vs. West Ham United

League Cups: 7

1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1995, 2001, 2003

Community Shields: 15

1964 (shared), 1965 (shared), 1966, 1974, 1976, 1977 (shared), 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986 (shared), 1988, 1989, 1990 (shared), 2001, 2006

UEFA Super Cups: 3

1977, 2001, 2005

Screen Sport Super Cup


Intercontinental Cup

Runners-up 3 times

Liverpool's tally of eighteen Football League championships is a record for English clubs, their nearest challenger being Manchester United with fifteen. Liverpool achieved the League and FA Cup "Double" in 1986 and have won two "Trebles". The first treble of League, League Cup and European Cup was achieved in 1984 (the first English club to win three major competitions in a single season) and a cup treble was achieved in 2001 comprising the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.

Liverpool's total of five European Cups is an English record and the third highest total overall, after Real Madrid and AC Milan. The fifth victory in 2005 entitled Liverpool to receive the UEFA badge of honour, thus allowing them to keep the trophy permanently.

Liverpool's total of three UEFA Cups is an English record, and equal to the overall record, which is shared with Inter Milan. The tallies of seven League Cups and three European Super Cups are also English records.”


Next round?.....Anfield!
Advantage?......The Pool!


Monday, April 16, 2007

America talking sense! But who will listen?

New York Times, April 13, 2007

America is watching Don Imus’s self-immolation in a state of shock and awe. And I’m watching America with wry amusement.

Since I’m a second-class citizen — a gay man — my seats for the ballgame of American discourse are way back in the bleachers. I don’t have to wait long for a shock jock or stand-up comedian to slip up with hateful epithets aimed at me and mine. Hate speak against homosexuals is as commonplace as spam. It’s daily traffic for those who profess themselves to be regular Joes, men of God, public servants who live off my tax dollars, as well as any number of celebrities.

In fact, I get a good chuckle whenever someone refers to “the media” as an agent of “the gay agenda.” There are entire channels, like Spike TV, that couldn’t fill an hour of programming if required to remove their sexist and homophobic content. We’ve got a president and a large part of Congress willing to change the Constitution so they can deprive of us our rights because they feel we are not “normal.”

So I’m used to catching foul balls up here in the cheap seats. What I am really enjoying is watching the rest of you act as if you had no idea that prejudice was alive and well in your hearts and minds.

For the past two decades political correctness has been derided as a surrender to thin-skinned, humourless, uptight oversensitive sissies. Well, you anti-politically correct people have won the battle, and we’re all now feasting on the spoils of your victory. During the last few months alone we’ve had a few comedians spout racism, a basketball coach put forth anti-Semitism and several high-profile spoutings of anti-gay epithets.

What surprises me, I guess, is how choosy the anti-P.C. crowd is about which hate speech it will not tolerate. Sure, there were voices of protest when the TV actor Isaiah Washington called a gay colleague a “faggot.” But corporate America didn’t pull its advertising from “Grey’s Anatomy,” as it did with Mr. Imus, did it? And when Ann Coulter likewise tagged a presidential candidate last month, she paid no real price.

In fact, when Bill Maher discussed Ms. Coulter’s remarks on his HBO show, he repeated the slur no fewer than four times himself; each mention, I must note, solicited a laugh from his audience. No one called for any sort of apology from him. (Well, actually, I did, so the following week he only used it once.)

Face it, if a Pentagon general, his salary paid with my tax dollars, can label homosexual acts as “immoral” without a call for his dismissal, who are the moral high and mighty kidding?

Our nation, historically bursting with generosity toward strangers, remains remarkably unkind toward its own. Just under our gleaming patina of inclusiveness, we harbour corroding guts. America, I tell you that it doesn’t matter how many times you brush your teeth. If your insides are rotting your breath will stink. So, how do you people choose which hate to embrace, which to forgive with a wink and a week in rehab, and which to protest? Where’s my copy of that rulebook?

Let me cite a non-volatile example of how prejudice can cohabit unchecked with good intentions. I am a huge fan of David Letterman’s. I watch the opening of his show a couple of times a week and have done so for decades. Without fail, in his opening monologue or skit Mr. Letterman makes a joke about someone being fat. I kid you not. Will that destroy our nation? Should he be fired or lose his sponsors? Obviously not.

But I think that there is something deeper going on at the Letterman studio than coincidence. And, as I’ve said, I cite this example simply to illustrate that all kinds of prejudice exist in the human heart. Some are harmless. Some not so harmless. But we need to understand who we are if we wish to change. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess to not only being a gay American, but also a fat one. Yes, I’m a double winner.)

I urge you to look around, or better yet, listen around and become aware of the prejudice in everyday life. We are so surrounded by expressions of intolerance that I am in shock and awe that anyone noticed all these recent high-profile instances. Still, I’m gladdened because our no longer being deaf to them may signal their eventual eradication.

The real point is that you cannot harbour malice toward others and then cry foul when someone displays intolerance against you. Prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged. Rise up in righteousness when you witness the words and deeds of hate, but only if you are willing to rise up against them all, including your own. Otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of disrespect silently.

By Harvey Fierstein
(Actor and playwright)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Working 9-5, what a way to make a living!

The reason for my delayed posting? Disappointment city, and I'm the mayor.......

The trip is postponed until the first week of September. It's a good-news/bad-news situation....the bad news is that I now have to work through the summer. The good news is that I'll be here for the birth of my brother's new baby in September, and we bought our tickets for Electric Picnic - Beastie Boys and Bjork? Serious good news, eh?!

My other reason for disappointment is that I am DYING from working 7 days a week!! Five days in here - which is no bloody picnic (electric or otherwise) let me tell you, and then both days of the weekend in a pub in Baltinglass, Horans. The upside of that is that I get to watch all the weekend footie, and have met some lovely people.

Sylwio, who I work with, is a fabulous Polish girl of the kind to make you blush at complaining at your lot.........she is a fully qualified social worker and teacher, and is earning a living here in Ireland working in a grotty pub. Once her English is sorted, though, she'll be right as rain and hopefully earning what she SHOULD be earning with those qualifications! Sophie, another Polish girl who works there sweeping the floors, is a fully qualified midwife. Scary, isn't it? The EU will really have to sort out work permits etc. that allow skilled migrants to work at their profession in other countries!! Of course, I'm hoping that their English skills are all that stands in their way - hopefully, once they get a firm grip on that, they'll move on to bigger and better things, because they are WASTED in that pub.

As am I, to be honest.......I'm knackered tired, and it bloody kills me that I'm missing out on LIFE whilst working there!! I don't want to be dead by the time we travel, so I'll try get a different job that maybe only has me work 1 day a weekend, so that I can have some down time each week.

In the meantime, here's a photo of Sylwio, from her website ( that showcases her gorgeous dogs, which she enters in dog shows....and they're champions, by the looks of them!