Month: October 2012

Review of Skyfall by Someone Who Isn’t A Bond Fan

Skyfall is the first Bond film that I have genuinely enjoyed watching. As someone who is not a Bond fan and who never understands the plots (often because I have fallen asleep during them) I thought I should write a review. There are plenty of reviews by Bond fans but as I was surprised to find myself loving this film I thought, credit where it’s due, I should acknowledge its greatness.

Big helicopter!

This is why I loved Skyfall, despite not knowing who anyone was or why the car was funny or getting some joke about a hat stand (or something):

It’s very exciting. My internal monologue the whole time was like, ‘Oh, that’s dangerous! Oh my goodness, be CAREFUL! Hmmm, I’m not sure you should OHMYGODWATCHOUT!’ For some reason other Bond films have not gripped me in this way (but like I said, I probably fell asleep and missed the exciting bits). The explosions were extra explody.

Careful now!

Best baddie EVER! It’s the guy from No Country For Old Men and he’s SUCH a brilliant baddie. I love him. He has this gorgeously brutal face and brilliant wavy hair like Lion-o and he’s HUGE and scary.

Scary. But oh, such lovely hair!

Elements of the A-Team meets Coronation Street. Look out for these moments! I can’t say any more than this for fear of spoilering them but they were my favourite bits. And there is a helicopter and it’s the most massive one ever!

Not as much sexism as in previous films. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think it was as sexist as Bond films I’ve seen in the past. It seemed like M’s character was of much greater importance to the story. Basically, it just didn’t annoy me as much as previous Bond films. There is still an amount of sexism though [edit: some readers have called me on this. Yes, the sexism is pretty stark. It is pretty bad. But have you seen any other Bond films? I’ve seen at least half of a few of them. Things have improved a little bit!] and you do have to extend your sense of disbelief-about-STI’s as well. (Internal monologue: ‘Oh I do hope he uses condoms and goes for regular check-ups. Yes love, he looks awfully cute in that tux but srsly, not five minutes ago he was having it away with a nameless girl in a beach hut. Oh, that’s dangerous! Oh my goodness, be careful! etc.’)

Smart agents carry condoms.

It’s not my ideal film, but as far as Bond goes I was expecting less respect for women. And I did also enjoy the hint that Bond’s sexual history might not have been as predictable as we might have imagined…

Seriously, look at the bad guy’s face! Isn’t it stunning?

No torture scenes. I really can’t bear torture scenes. Punching and murdering are bad enough. I stopped watching 24 when they decided that killing people with guns wasn’t exciting enough and started introducing… well, you don’t need to know. Yuck.

Older people! Hooray! A film with proper older people who are main characters. I enjoyed the commentary about getting older and facing a new world with traditional skillz (and traditional weaponry , obviously. DANGER!)

I also liked the Adele song and the video that went with it.

And I think that sums up my feelings about the latest Bond film. All in all, a fun film that’s loud enough to mask all the horrible popcorn chomping noises (and do see it in the cinema and not on DVD. I think this is partly where I’ve gone wrong before. The helicopter! It was SO big!) Go forth and enjoy! And y’know, stay safe in various ways…

Queer Theology Synchroblog

So, the Queer Theology Synchroblog is up and you can still participate in it if you’re interested (instructions on the blog post I’ve just linked to). I am looking forward to reading the rest of the blog posts later and making some comments. The only one I have read so far is Peterson’s Lost Gospel of Thaddeus, which is well worth a look. At a glance I can tell that there are some blogs I will definitely want to be visiting again in the future. Here are the other entries. Happy queer theology  reading! 🙂


The Anarchist Reverend shares his thoughts on the Queer Christ over on the Camp Osiris blog.

Peterson Toscano shares “The Lost Gospel of Thaddeus.”

Shirley-Anne McMillan writes about Mother Christ.

Adam Rao shares why he is not participating in today’s synchroblog.

Kaya Oakes writes about God, the Father/Mother.

Brian Gerald Murphy talks about A God Bigger Than Boxes.

Clattering Bones writes about The Queer God.

Daniel Storrs-Kostakis writes writes about An Icon of God.

Jack Springald writes about Avalokitesvara and queering gender.

Amaryah Shaye Armstrong writes about Inclusion and the Rhetoric of Seduction.

Mother Christ

I’m writing this post as part of something exciting called a synchroblog. Truth be told, I am not awfully sure how it works, but I know that a lot of people are writing under a similar theme and at some point all of our blog posts will be linked together by Anarchist Reverend. How groovy!


The other day my friend Peterson Toscano helped me knock the following poem into shape. When I sat down to write the final draft this evening I felt like he had heard the poem I was trying to write in the middle of so much noise (the resounding gongs of overworked metaphors, explaining too much, repeating myself…)

And that is what religion is like for me too. It doesn’t really exist apart from the connections I have with other people  who can see the shape of my faith as I try to figure it out. For me, it is often queer artists, activists and theologians, who seem to know me in their work. I think the stories I write are sometimes an attempt to explain how that happens. And so I will leave you with this poem. Thanks so much to Shay for his wonderful blog, and to Peterson for his help.


The son of God wept

Over his city.

Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem.

You who kill,

How often I have longed to gather your children

As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,

But you were not willing.


Dear Jesus,

Let me gather you now

And speak as your mother.

I hear your longing,

And I am sad for you.

You do not realise who you are.

How mother you are.

Oh Jesus,

A mother hides her children under her skirts,

She hides her children within her body,

The way I hid you in my heart,

So deeply sometimes that I forgot you belonged to me.

When someone is under your skin,

You can forget them, sometimes,

As you forget your own body,

Like looking in a glass darkly

And wondering, who is that woman?

You wonder where your children are-

Who is their mother?

They called you a king.

So many people needed you.

Sometimes I forget how you came to be that man.

That is all it was, that pain of yours,

It was simply something that you had forgotten.

But I want to tell you about your children, Jesus.

In the moment of your death;

The advent of the world’s greatest forgetting.

The curtain of the temple, torn in two,

From top to bottom,

Like a heart,


And instead of finding themselves

Joyfully, in the emptiness

Beyond the thick drapes,

The people were frightened,

By the absence of the God they had imagined.

So they took the beautiful fabric of that story

And pieced together something unintended,

A costume dress for you, my son.

They clothed you

In their desires.

They ducked beneath your skirts

Clinging together,


You see,

They forgot themselves in the dark.

They forgot their mother Christ,

As God turned his back on God,

Because they could no longer see your bearded face.

They slept deeply in your death

And felt, as one body, unrecognisable to themselves,

And they wondered who they were,

And where was their mother?

In the tomb of quiet forgetting

Those who are chained to your death

Dream in shadows and cannot form questions.


The egg cracks.

The dress they sewed for you lies formless.

A woman sees you break out of the cave;

Our soft mother God,

Set free, in the body of a gardener.

National Poetry Day- Google Thyself

I had a brief email exchange with Michael Donaghy not long before his death in 2004. He had been Googling himself and found a gushing comment that I had made about his poetry on a chat forum (*cringe*). He had got in touch to say thanks. I loved his poetry since I first saw him perform (where? I can’t even remember. Might have been near Bangor somewhere?). That night I was mesmerised by his performance. He didn’t use any notes. I hadn’t read any of his poems before and I’m so glad I heard him first before reading them because it was more like music than literature- I still can’t read them to myself and hear it the way I did then. Happily, there is the Poetry archive, where we can still hear his voice.

If you Google yourself and find something favourable, you should let the person know. That little moment is a blessed memory, and I wonder if the reason we read poems is something like a self-Googling as we look to feel understood by someone else’s account. Well that’s how his poems work for me anyway.

This is one of my favourites.

Reprimands, by Michael Donaghy

John 20:24 -29

We fell out of love as toddlers fall

glancing down, distracted, at their feet,

as the pianist in the concert hall

betrays her hands to thought and adds an extra beat –

The thought vertiginous. The reprimand.

It fells the bee mid-flight. It made me stall

before a holy water font in Rome

half afraid that if I dipped my hand

I’d find the water’s surface hard as stone

and – this you’d never understand –

half afraid to leave the thing alone.

For I’d been taught that Jesus walked the sea

and came to Peter three leagues out of port.

Said Peter Bid me to come unto thee

and strode on faith dryfoot until he thought….

and thinking, sank. I’d never learnt to swim

but I’d seen insects skim across a pond

and I’d seen glasses filled above the brim.

Some firm conviction keeps a raindrop round.

What kept me rigid as a mannequin?

We fell out of love and nearly drowned.

The very wordlessness all lovers want

to feel beneath their feet like solid ground

dissolved to silences no human shout

could ripple –

like the surface of that font

when other voices, tourist and devout,

grew still, and someone whispered by my side

O ye of little faith -and shallow doubt-

choose here to wet that hand or stand aside.

No one was there. But I could tell that tone.

I heard his ancient apostolic voice

this evening when I went to lift the phone

to tell you this – and froze. The reprimand.

For once, in two minds, Thomas made the choice

to bless and wet with blood his faithless hand.

5 Degrees of Berlin

Berlin has been stalking me at home recently. This is a bit hard to explain. But bear with me.

I want to say before I start that I am almost over the tendency to see meaning in *everything*. That is, I do think some things are just coincidences, and I am finding that I can enjoy them as coincidences even if they don’t mean anything significant like the world ending or my impending lottery win (which would be amazing as I don’t play the lottery. Maybe I should). In fact sometimes, now that I’ve nearly let go of the constant pursuit of meaning, it’s favourable to enjoy coincidences just as they are- crazy collisions that make-sense-and-don’t all at once, a kind of  6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon for the minutiae of your life.

So, here it is. 5 Degrees of Berlin.

I’ve never been to Berlin. I’ve been wanting to go for a while. I read this article ages ago, about a derelict amusement park in Berlin and I bookmarked it. I read it sometimes and I imagine it will probably make its way into a story at some point. I would love to go there and take a look at it. I also want to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and to be in the place that tells another story of the Second World War from the one I learned in school.

1. I also wanted to see the  Kunsthaus Tacheles ever since my husband came home from his first trip to Berlin and told me all about it (actually, when he first did this I was terrified;‘You went to an old disused building in the middle of the night? Oh, great, I bet you hitchhiked a lift there too, right? Actually no, don’t tell me.‘)

But I had to admit, it sounded amazing. Colourful graffiti in the halls, art everywhere, even a cinema.

And then, just recently, they shut it down. I was/am sorry that it’s gone now. I’ll never see it, but it’s worse than that. It had been running as an art centre since the collapse of the wall and there is something really sad about its demise, it’s like the loss of a little memory, to make way for more money. What a shame.

2. It was my birthday soon after the Tacheles closed down and my daughter (possibly with some help. I do hope so.) bought me Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin novels- Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin. I had watched Cabaret (¡Ay, caramba! What a film) a while back and said I’d like to read the novel. I’m currently part way through Mr Norris and loving the writing style- so readable and ironic. Lovely!

3. Then last week I heard about a play that was on in Belfast. I saw it advertised on Facebook and I hadn’t heard of it before but it just sounded like something I had to see. Happily, our daughter had a planned sleepover so we went to see ‘I Am My Own Wife‘ at the new MAC theatre in Belfast. It’s the true-life story of German transvestite, Charlotte Von Mahsldorf, who survived the Nazis and the Communists in 20th Century Berlin. I can’t adequately tell you how good it was and I think I might need to see it a few more times to even start. We talked the whole way home about it- how clever and beautiful it was, and how wonderful the actor, the questions it asked about identity and gender, the commentary it made about the media and fascism.. just go and see it if you get a chance. I could probably count, quite easily, the number of times I’ve felt like that about something I’ve seen in Belfast, but the nice thing is that I feel like those instances are happening closer together and more often now.

Northern Ireland is a country of dark and bright extremes. This morning as I drove home from Belfast it was so sunny that the sea at Dundrum was sparkling really hard, like the static of a broken television signal. By the time I got to my kitchen the sky was dark and it had started to hail-stone. We get a lot of shadows here, and a lot of rainbows. It has been a week of shadows and rainbows. This is what I will make myself remember- a man playing a man playing a woman, perfectly. Somebody brave. And it is the real reason for writing this blog post I suppose.

4. I started a new job last week. I’m doing some learning support tutoring at the local school. It’s great so far- meeting some very interesting students (One girl I was chatting to last week told me that her mum was quite superstitious, ‘You know, 13 is an unlucky number and you don’t go out on Friday the 13th, but parents also fear 13 because it means their kid is growing up, it’s the end of innocence as well.’ I’m certainly learning a lot. I hope I can return the favour.) Anyway, I have a student who is studying The Boy In Striped Pyjamas, which begins in Berlin, of course, during the Second World War. In my opinion there are better novels which deal with the theme (‘Once’ by Morris Gleitzman is exceptional. I’m kind of glad I don’t have to teach it actually. Who wants to sit through their teacher gurning buckets?) but anyway, when she told me that’s what we were going to read I thought, goodness, Berlin again…

5. And that was it, until today. I had started this blog post and then thought no, it’s too silly, nobody will think these coincidences are interesting, and so I decided not to bother. And then I went on Facebook and my friend Jon had posted this:

It’s from the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire. Set in Berlin, it follows the life of several individuals and the unseen angels who watch over them. When the angels are present, the film switches to black and white. This bit of the story takes place at a Nick Cave gig. It spooked me to see it on Jon’s page, not just because I’d abandoned the Berlin-is-stalking-me post, but also because I had a dream about Nick Cave last night (in the dream he wasn’t saying ‘You must write a blog post tomorrow. P.S. Berrrrliiiiiiiiin’, or anything. It was a great dream though- we were at an fancy music awards ceremony and we spent the whole time slagging the whole thing off and thinking we were hilarious. It was basically a dream date with Nick Cave).

So there it is. All the Berlin-related things that have happened to me during the last few weeks. If Berlin doesn’t leave me alone soon I will have to go and visit it and give it a good talking to. Final word can go to Michael: