Monday, June 25, 2007

I am making a short DIY film about a ship's figurehead who falls in love with a mermaid.

Here it is:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Love You, Dorrie

I was reading a book to my niece yesterday that was one of my very, very favourites when I was a kid called Dorrie and the Blue Witch. Now, Dorrie was a little child witch herself with mis-matched stockings and I always related to her. But I was truly shocked to discover that there were blue sparks everywhere in the illustrations, and also the omnipresent, evil association with the colour blue (my favourite colour even now), and also spells sprayed on by a perfume atomizer, all elements of which can be found in a certain film called The Viva Voce Virus. I was very insistent that there be blue sparks everywhere in the film this year, and now I know where I first saw them, which is really cool.

I always thought it was the Disney film The Sorcerer's Apprentice (which, of course, I've always loved as well).

Other realizations I've had recently are that the puddle in VVV where Ronnie throws her latte on Jesper is a direct homage to The Wizard Oz, and I suspect the double Glorias meeting up are influenced from one of my favourite time-traveling adolescent books, A Wrinkle in Time. I loved the Dorrie books, even more than the Pippi books.

(double-posted to The Viva Voce Virus blog as well)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fairy Tales

Hackney Marshes

Someone asked me recently what I was like as a kid. I was a mix between girlie and tomboy. I still am, though I have always been visually very femme, and that has nothing to do with "femme" sexuality in that sense. I also wear no makeup at all, occasionally, and anyone who knows me well also knows that I can pull my own and work physically hard, climb trees, gut fish, eschew cleaning, usually much better than self-professed tomboys or even boys. Having said that, it's all about the glitter (not so much the feathers) for me. It's such a damn pity that little girls aren't allowed to be camp without preciousness seeping in - we can be pretty princesses. It's not enough. We should get to be artists - aficionados - too.

Men are allowed, as particular kinds of adults, to love musicals, bitchy wit, high drama. Men are allowed to cry when John Barrowman sings "I Am What I Am" on YouTube. Little girls and big girls, on the other hand, become mere appendages - faghags, everything seen through a male lens. There are those of us who are girls whose hearts soar when we hear the opening, Busby Berkeley-esque strains of "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" (yes!) as well. But we're not allowed to do this - we can be divas (the objects of male admiration), but never connoisseurs. We have to be Liza.

I was watching a great burlesque performance this weekend where the performer threw a pocket's worth of glitter in the air as "rain". It was so fucking beautiful to see the air sparkle like that. I could describe myself as faggy, the stereotype of which might sort of cover my sensibilities, but I always associate fags as admirable angry young male Queer Nation activists and although, gender aside, that was me at one time, it's not truly my word to use. Indeed, an ex-gf recently described me as "a bit of a trouble maker, a bit faggy, and sharp as a tack". I like that one, but even "faggy" makes me feel like I don't get to be me without a male context to explain me. Our society has taken even femininity away from the girls and given it to the men. It was never ours in the first place. I'm still figuring this one out.

Monday, June 4, 2007

And by recent book reviews, I mean...

"Sassy, clever, bright, dark, true, and, most importantly, alive. A huge book, and full of goodness." - Ali Smith, author of Booker Prize-shortlisted novels Hotel World and The Accidental

"At once boldly epic and profoundly personal, Kathleen Bryson's Girl on A Stick is a lyrical exploration of love, loss, and the exquisite joys (and pre-fab idiocies) of contemporary culture." - Jennifer Natalya Fink, author of Burn

"RENAISSANCE WOMAN Bryson continues to push the envelope... [Girl on a Stick] is a book that gets right into the blood and guts of a relationship with language that, like its central character, is sassy, knowing, vulnerable and often damn funny... Perhaps it's time too that those who hadn't previously heard of Bryson woke up to this delicious American talent." - GCN magazine

"Bryson uses word puzzles, illustrations, newspaper clippings, and worsening hallucinations to lament the politics of war and to wax lyrical about the best/worst of London's streets. An intelligent, often experimental book from a unique voice ." (four stars) - DIVA magazine

"A furious pace... as twisted as a Rubik's Cube." - GLT (San Diego)

And by butterflies, I mean...

Calvin Reid -- Publishers Weekly, 2/1/1999

"Birds do it and bees do it. But according to a new and exhaustively researched work from St. Martin's Press, the animal kingdom d s it with much greater sexual diversity -- including homosexual, bisexual and nonreproductive sex -- than the scientific community and society at large have previously been willing to accept.

In fact, the most revolutionary conclusion in the book may be that "animals do it because they like it," said St. Martin's editor Michael Denneny. Representing more than 10 years of research and writing Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl is the first work to bring together more than two centuries of observation and "documentation of homosexual behavior in the natural world" for general readers, according to the author.

The book, Bagemihl told PW, "challenges traditional ideas in biology -- not all animal sexual behavior revolves around reproduction and procreation." In fact, Bagemihl claims that for centuries scientists have looked for ways to "explain" animal homosexuality. The book presents what he hopes will be a new scientific paradigm for the field -- he calls it "biological exuberance" -- described as an acceptance of the "extravagant excess and multiplicity of animal sexual behaviors."

His theory and documentation encompasses a whole range of "animal sexual and gender variance," including same-sex courtship, sexual encounters and homosexual parenting in more than 300 bird and mammal species worldwide, with many never-before-published illustrations and photographs.

And yes, said Bagemihl, the book is also meant to address "homophobia and bias in the scientific community," as well as to challenge social critics who, he says, often base their antigay positions on claims that homosexuality d sn't appear in nature. Bagemihl points to one study among many referring to "a lowering of moral standards among butterflies" to buttress his claims of a homophobic bias in the scientific documentation of animal homosexuality over the centuries.

The book offers a general discussion of the forms and history of observation of animal homosexuality as well as a reference section that details specific sexual behaviors for a wide range of mammals and birds. Elephants, apparently, have very little heterosexual activity, and in some bird species, said Denneny, 80% to 90% of their sexual activity is homosexual."

Eden III: Brand-New Colony (Colourless Green Dreams Sleep Furiously) 2006

The film ticks closer and closer to being done. I wish it was quarter past the hour and we were all celebrating. The Backwards Production diary is located at and the official film website, complete with trailers, is at

This is going to be very much like a butterfly. Until my real website is up and running, I'm going to be posting a variety of coloured butterflies here, be they of the painting, writing, filmmaking, acting, anthropological or political variety. Sometimes with comment, sometimes without.

The Book Launch

It happened in Portland two weeks ago and it made me happy. I posted this someplace else, but just to repeat... I had a really great time. It was very different from my first book launch, which was being associated with an anthology full of famous lesbian writers, so there ended up being 300 people there and it was quite anonymous, and someone was quite standoffish and weird to me (though someone else was so cool and kind as a result she became a lifelong friend) so I was nervous all through it.

This one was small and I knew everyone there (well, almost), and I was surrounded by people who loved me and wished the best for me, and it was the best questions-and-answers session I've ever experienced (though still a little grueling). We had Thai food afterwards. It was wonderful. I got peppermint water and flowers and my two-year-old niece commenting on dragons ("with wings!") on book covers (not my book, but another one).

I know which one I preferred. Thanks to my honey and my friends for making this such a special day. Thanks to my friend Christine and to my girlie for the flowers and cards and peppermint water. You guys all rock.