This really nice short on 3 very different women who surf in NYC is dedicated to my very own surfer girl gang who escape to the waves every weekend. Even though I've only been out twice with them, I get it. I really get it. 

AWAY (short film) from Elisa Bates on Vimeo.



A beautiful story of the boat on which my mother and I travelled the Norsk seas in the winter of 2011.



I've said it more than once, and I'll say it again. Many times. This girl's a prophet. 


Franz Kafka

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."

Wotsit all about

See more of James Ostrer's people shellacked in junk food here. 

Lucky Dates to Play Monopoly 2014

Some genius from Jonathan O'Brien - the man behind this
Read more here.

The first time you play Monopoly will be in the first week of January as part of a monthly board game night at a local bookshop. You will play with your partner, your best friend and their partner. After three trips around the board you will have lost or spent all of your money. You continue to drink while they play, you get too drunk and start to call them all ‘capitalist pigs.’ Everyone knows you don’t mean it but the insults bring an unfortunate edge to the atmosphere. You and your partner go home early, the next day you apologise for being so drunk. They say it’s ok, you want to believe them.
The first week of February sees you playing Monopoly with the same people at the same night. This time you make it around the board four times before being bankrupted, this time by your best friend’s partner. You laugh it off, not wanting to cause the same scene as in January but your previous actions quickly create a nervous atmosphere. You drink as they play and, although you don’t go to the same lengths as last time, a few unnecessary ‘quips’ bring down the tone of the evening.  You and your partner go home early, the next day you apologise for being so drunk. They say it’s ok, you want to believe them.
March. The monthly board game night. Your partner asks if you’re sure you want to go, wouldn’t you rather sit in and watch a few episodes of The Wire instead? You say that it’s fine, that it’s all under control. That you won’t let the evening be ruined just because you lost at Monopoly. They reluctantly agree. Your best friend, who you haven’t spoken to since last month, welcomes you warmly. They kiss your partner on the cheek. Did that kiss go on a bit too long? Is that level of eye contact indicative of something else? You push it to the back of your mind. You’re being ridiculous. You play Monopoly. This time, thanks to some particularly shrewd and clever play by your best friend, you’re bankrupt before you can even pass ‘Go’ for a third time. The evening pans out as before. They play, you drink. Nobody says anything that isn’t necessary for the game. You go home early, your partner stays behind. They arrive home late and don’t say a word as they get into bed.
In April you decide to invite your best friend and his partner over for dinner and, to put it to rest once and for all, another game of Monopoly. The dinner goes well, the evening becomes relaxed and happy. Nobody even thinks twice when you bring out the game and start to set it up as your partner cleans the table. Your friend helps as you arrange the pieces before offering to go through and give a hand doing the dishes. Once the board is ready you go through to the kitchen to tell the others only to find your partner and your friend kissing in the kitchen. They leap back suddenly, they apologise, they try to explain. You cannot think. You leave the house and go to stay with your parents.
May. You have successfully destroyed the Parker Brothers factory and are now sitting in a tree outside your once friend’s house. Your dog is barking. Your top hat is tattered and worn. You do not have a car. Your now ex is in the house. Your friend’s partner is also there. From your vantage point you can see that they’re playing Happy Families. You barge in and demand to play. Terrified, they deal the cards and, until the sirens come, you win hand after hand after hand after hand after hand.


the overview effect

...In savikalpa samadhi the mind is conscious only of the Spirit within; it is not conscious of the exterior world. The body is in a trancelike state, but the consciousness is fully perceptive of its blissful experience within....
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, has compared the experience of seeing the earth from space, also known as the overview effect, to savikalpa samadhi.

(via Wikipedia)



Today is indeed a dark day for journalism. Three members of Al Jazeera english have been trialled and sentenced to more than 7 years each in Egypt, for "endangering Egypt's national security."

Read more in the Guardian and follow the discussion on twitter.

This news reminded me mainly of two things. The documentary 'War Photographer' on the inspirational photographer James Nachtwey, and this TED lecture from journalist Janine di Giovanni 'What I saw in the war'.




seeds of freedom

permaculture as fuck

I've recently completed a certificate in permaculture design. I'd like to say it's changed my life, but in all honesty, it hasn't.

What the course did do for me, was confirm a lot of things I had already been thinking. In my work we're constantly battling against corporate control of natural resources, big greedy businesses using up more than their fare share, and an increasingly more powerful corporate lobby. I knew these were bad things, and I knew that there were other ways. Living in a boat, then a caravan, I understood that choices to live on the edges of society were possible. But I didn't realise just how important those edges are.

In permaculture the edges are the most important bits. Where living things thrive, where experiments go right and wrong, and where new things begin.

Here is a film some lovely people from my home town made about some permaculture guy (who, after a quick google, seems to be pretty on it.) Nice work team. 


secret books in eden

"But Tom got into a book, crawled and grovelled between the covers, tunneled in like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands."

- John Steinbeck, East of Eden

frack off

I'm not going to go into a huge rant about fracking, complaining about the environmental and human impacts of drilling down and squirting a load of undisclosed chemicals into the ground to try and shake up some underground gas to attempt to harness, in the process polluting water sources and creating small earthquakes.

Just watch this film if you haven't already, and then keep your eyes and ears open because it's already happening in the UK. If you're in Bristol (like me) hit up Frack free Bristol, or send some support to the Barton Moss protesters up in Manchester, or visit the Frack-Off map to find out if your area is at risk.
(probably is)

The Selfish Giant

When I was wee I was in a play about the Selfish Giant that my junior school headmaster Mr Mills wrote (songs and everything). In the play I had a penchant for being a narrator - and in this case, the narrator was Oscar Wilde personified. I wore a cravat under a black velvet dinner jacket and a top hat with a gold tipped cane. 

 This film has nothing do with that, but it is so, so beautiful.

black family

And here is my very handsome grandaddy Robert Black. With my equally handsome Nanna Agnes. Agnes was a secretary in Belfast. I never got to meet my Granda on this side, and very briefly knew my Nanna. This makes me incredibly sad, because if they are anything like my dad and his twin sister, I believe I would have loved them very very much. 

East of Eden

"Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a deep stretching yawn. It flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then - the glory - so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness and it sets each man separate from all other men. 

 I don't know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good. It is true that two men can lift a bigger stone than one man. A group can build automobiles quicker and better than one man, and bread from a huge factory is cheaper and more uniform. When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea of God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused.

 At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?"

John Steinbeck, East of Eden, pub. 1952


My grandfather, and great grandfather, used to work in the shipyards of Belfast Docks working on the boilers. My grandfather sailed the titanic on it's maiden-maiden voyage from Belfast to Liverpool. Luckily he popped off then. My great grandfather however did not have such luck. He died at sea, washed ashore on Halloween in Bangor, Wales.

 In turn, my dad grew up in the tenements by the dockside. He took me there once. Maybe this is why I love boats so much. 

h/t my brother Joel for the amazing stop motion below.