Sunday, 20 October 2013

Things That Go Bump In The Night - Part 3

Part 3 of some of the distinctly odd things which have happened in my life...

Call it being psychic, call it being in tune with the universe, call it being spiritually sensitive, call it a sixth sense. Whatever you call it, not even the most powerful of anti-psychotic drugs have stopped me from seeing and feeling things. They've always been there, just on the edge of my vision, or tickling the lobes of my ears. What do I think they are? Beings from other dimensions? Good and evil? Things which are locked to this earth? I don't know and I refuse to try and categorise them. 
You can identify most of the things you see in the sky. Aircraft, balloon, Chinese lantern. But there are some things which you can't. Things which have the tag UFO applied to them.
There's been several incidents which have seen me using this tag. There's possibly been more, but these ones stick in my mind.
Summer 2004. I was standing on New Canal in Salisbury. It was a clear, beautiful day, much like the images on the Google map. I can't remember where I was walking to but I remember looking up. And there, hanging in the sky, was a cylinder.
One of the things you have to understand about Wiltshire is that you see a lot of aircraft. A lot. It's a military area (which may have accounted for some of the distinctly odd things we did see) and is also on the flight paths to a lot of the major airports. 
But this. This didn't look like a plane. There was no tail, no wings, no markings and it was just hanging there, moving only slightly faster than the breeze. Heart hammering, I crossed the road and began to follow it. I managed to keep it in my line of sight for a good several minutes. Then I had to look down to cross the road.

When I looked back up, it was gone. Vanished. I had a wide expanse of sky and could clearly see in the direction it was travelling. At the speed it was going, there was no way it could have disappeared so quickly. But it was gone.

I looked around, searching the sky. But there was absolutely no sign of it.

Spring 2011. Leicester. I was standing in the back garden of my parents house. Again, it was a nice, warm day. There were wisps of cloud dancing through the blue sky. And there, amid it all was a silver ball.

In comparison to the clouds, it was fairly high. Again, it just hung there. Except that this time it looked like it was tumbling. Over and over and over. Yet its position never changed. It didn't up or down or in any other direction. Just hung there and tumbled.

I must have watched it for a good fifteen minutes before the clouds swept in front of it. When they parted, guess what? Yep, it was gone.

Both times I tried to get photos. Both times there was nothing of any description on them. Nothing I could see or analyse. Did I imagine what I saw? Who knows...

Do you have any UFO stories? Feel free to share them in the comments. Or go to the contact link and send me an email. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Inspirational Interview - Serena of Rock Radio Sexism

A few months ago, I discovered Tumblr and, on there, I've had the privilege of meeting some wonderful people. People who've expanded my horizons and who I've been able to learn from. A couple of weeks ago, I asked the lovely Serena to answer a few questions. Here's what she had to say:


Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by! Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about you.

My name is Serena. I’ve been a feminist for about two years, now - although I’ve dabbled in feminism a bit longer. I really like hard rock and heavy metal, and I also like pink and pastel-coloured stuff. And, no, it’s not contradictory to like the two. I’m also into psychedelic art.

You run a couple of awesome feminist blogs. For those not entirely in the know, what is and isn’t feminism?

Thank you!

Feminism is about advocating gender equality. We have, indeed, gone a long ways towards achieving gender equality since, say, the fifties. However, we still have further yet to go. Rape culture is still a major issue that affects women today, along with slut shaming. There is still a double standard that men can sleep with multiple women, and be considered a “stud” - whilst women who do the same are regarded as “sluts”. Then there is the whole reinforcement of gender roles through advertisements and marketing - which of sort of my, uh, pet feminist issue.

Feminism is not about hating men, or following a bunch of rules of shoulds and should-nots. Especially since we already get enough of that shit from the patriarchy. If women want to shave, cool. If women don’t want to shave, that’s also cool. The one thing to take into consideration, though - is that women who choose to shave should probably examine why they choose to do so. Are they doing it because, uh, they really like the feel of smooth hairless skin - or is it simply because they were taught that it’s what women “are supposed to do”?

There seems to be a lot of anti-pink and anti-feminine thought patterns within feminism. Why do you think this is?

Oh, yeah, this is a good question. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I was initially leery of associating myself with the feminist movement. Certainly, I’ve always agreed with the dictionary definition of feminism - which is that women should have the same rights as men do. However, I didn’t see why that meant I couldn’t like pink - or other things coded “feminine”.

I think a lot of the anti-pink and anti-femininity attitudes that permeate certain factions of the feminist movement is due to the resentment that there is the social expectation that women are supposed to like pink and other things coded “feminine”. That is, of course, very understandable. In fact, I sort of feel that way about pop music. I resent that pop music is heavily marketed to girls and men, while rock and metal are often seen as “dude music”. So, certainly, I understand rebelling against something that is forced on you.
However, the problem comes from when they start having the attitude of this: “I don’t like pink - and other women shouldn’t like pink, either.” Some women like pink. Some women don’t. Both are fine. Also, very few women are 100% “girly-girl” or 100% “tomboy”. In fact, I’d say that most women are some combination of the two.

Then there is also the fact that gender roles also hurt boys and men. Boys who happen to like pink are often discouraged from acting upon it, lest they get teased for it. Some portions of the feminists, I believe, are so focused on for girls and women are affected by gender roles - they often fail to consider the other side of the issue.

I wouldn’t say that this is “sexism against men”, really. This is more a case of “femmephobia”, a devaluing of things considered “women”. There is a large subset of men, often referred to as “dudebros”, who are all about being “manly”. To them, the “alpha male” is the ideal. As such, they recoil at the idea of anything considered “feminine”. This is the other issue I have with faction of feminists that also decry anything considered “feminine”. Granted, they’re coming at it from a different angle from that of the dudebros - but the end result is the same, and that is problematic.

As feminists, we must be mindful not to advocate replacing a system that favours men with a system that favours masculinity.

One of your blogs looks at sexism within rock music, something which is particularly close to my heart. Why do you think there are these attitudes towards women? And why, in the 21st century, do these attitudes still prevail? What do you think can be done to change the mindsets of some of those within the music industry?

A think a lot of it has to do with the fact that rock music is often seen as being aggressive, a trait that is commonly associated with men. When rock and roll first got its start in the 50s, it was popular with both boys and girls. It wasn’t until sometime during the ’60s that there was a move towards rock music being “music for men”. The term “cock rock” is often used to refer to the early hardish rock that was marketed towards men. The Rolling Stones, I believe, are the progenitors of “cock rock”.

I’m not sure why those attitudes continue to persist into the 21st Century. I believe that there are more women than one might suspect that do like rock music. But maybe the main reason why there aren’t too many that listen to rock radio is because a lot of rock radio stations that cater strictly towards men. As a result, the disc jockeys and other people who work in the radio business feel that they have a licence to make sexist and misogynistic jokes. A lot of times, when they have contests, they are geared towards heterosexual men.

Maybe it’s a chicken-and-egg scenario. A lot of women are turned off of rock music due to the sexism and misogyny permeating it, or else they’ve just been conditioned to believe that rock music is not for women. So, in turn, the music industry believes that women simply aren’t interested in rock music - and, therefore, they see no reason to remove the sexist and misogynistic elements from rock music.

As for how we can change it, that’s kind of a tough question to answer. Maybe, if we can get enough interested women to band together, we can show those people that there are women who like rock music. Maybe what we need is something similar to riot grrrl, but not just for punk rock. For pretty much every subgenre of rock and metal. I would love for there to be a female version of Disturbed, or a female version of Avenged Sevenfold.

Despite the negative attitudes towards women featured in rock music, scores of women still support these people and find them attractive. Why do you think that is?

Well, I think because they just happen to like the style of music. Also, there is the other side of it that our patriarchal society has the attitude that rock music is “not for women”. Indeed, this is a bit of a paradoxical situation. This is what I’ve referred to, a few times, as the “feminist dilemma”. As such, a lot of women who happen to really like rock music will still listen to it - despite the sexism and misogyny - because, dammit, women can like rock music too!

Do you think it’s still possible to support these bands despite their attitudes?

Oh, certainly! In fact, if we gave up everything that is problematic, then there’d be next to nothing left to enjoy. We can still enjoy the music, but not excuse the bands when engage in problematic behaviour. Of course, if other people choose not to listen to certain bands due to their sexism and misogyny - we should respect that. But it’s not our place to police what other people should or should not listen to.

One of the things which comes up a lot is that women have to look good to get anywhere in life. Are there any female fronted/all female bands which you recommend? And what can women do to empower themselves within the entertainment industries?

Right now, Halestorm is quite successful on active rock radio stations. Kitty is a great band, too - and then there’s Cherri Bomb. I probably don’t listen to female-fronted or all-female bands as much as I should - partly because I am sort of addicted to the radio. I think it’d be nice to have a radio station, even if exclusive to the internet or satellite that mixes the stuff that you hear on active rock stations with a bunch of female-fronted and all-female bands. There are some online stations that are focused exclusively on female rock bands - but what if you don’t want to give up on the male rock bands that you like, as well?

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I would remove everything having to do with power imbalance, as well as useless social norms.

Which of your blogs do you recommend?

Definitely Rock Radio Sexism. Initially, I started the blog with the intent to discuss the issues of sexism and misogyny regarding rock radio. But, even if you don’t listen to the radio, I’d still recommend it. We have since broadened the focus to include the rock/metal scene as a whole.

Thank you so much for taking the time to pass by and talk with us. It’s really appreciated!

You’re very welcome. It’s my pleasure.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Things That Go Bump In The Night - Part 2

Part 2 of some of the spooky things which have happened in my life...

Call it being psychic, call it being in tune with the universe, call it being spiritually sensitive, call it a sixth sense. Whatever you call it, not even the most powerful of anti-psychotic drugs have stopped me from seeing and feeling things. They've always been there, just on the edge of my vision, or tickling the lobes of my ears. What do I think they are? Beings from other dimensions? Good and evil? Things which are locked to this earth? I don't know and I refuse to try and categorise them.

This particular tale took place a couple of years ago. I'd approached someone we'll call Subject X to make a documentary on their life. Subject X's boss is not known for being a nice person. Sure, they've tried to clean up their act in recent years but the past has a habit of never forgetting you, especially when you're in the media spotlight.

Anyway, at the time, Subject X was a free agent. They weren't affiliated with anyone and were more than happy for me to camp out in their life for a month or two (or longer, depending on how much we had to talk about). We began going through the usual paperwork which comes with making a film when they got the call and went back to work for their old boss.

That was when the contact broke and, needless to say, I was devastated despite having a few more people on my list of potential interviewees. I sent a couple more emails, all of which were carbon copied to various other people who were involved with the film, namely my legal eagles. We got a reply which read distinctly oddly and one of the legal eagles called me up.

“Rae, Rae, Rae! DON'T reply to that email!”

“Why not?”

“That's not Subject X writing.”

My heart stopped. “It's the boss, isn't it?”

“Got it in one. Drop it, Rae, at least for now.”

So I did. But I felt a certain affinity Subject X. I do a lot of meditation and praying in my spare time. I feel that the world around is a dark and dangerous place and so meditate for protection for myself and my loved ones. Subject X also became a part of the protection, a white light which is cast around myself and anyone else I choose. I felt he needed it, especially with some of the people he was associating with.

Until a couple of years ago. It was a night much like tonight. Cold, with the promise of winter in the air. I was outside having a cigarette and staring at the clear, star filled sky. Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw a dark, shadowy figure run across the garden and straight through the wall of the house. While it made me jump, I thought nothing more of it. A spirit, or ghost, or something else moving from one spot to the other.

That was, until I went to bed. Turning off the lights, I went through the usual ritual of saying prayers and wrapping the white light around myself, my family, and my friends.

But I couldn't sleep. Couldn't settle.

The shadow which had run through the wall was there, standing in the corner of the room. I could feel unseen eyes staring at me. I said a quick banishing prayer and hoped for sleep.

The shadow figure continued to terrorise me. I was sick. I was lethargic. I couldn't write. I couldn't work. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. No matter what I did, it was there, silently pulling my life apart. Finally, at the end of my tether, I consulted a couple of friends. One of them asked me a few questions before falling silent.

“Do you get a familiar feeling from it?” they asked.

“Yep,” I tiredly replied.

“Where do you think it's from?”

“The States. California.”

“Good, because you're probably right. Any idea who it is?”

“Mmmhmmm.” I swayed and leaned against the wall, desperate for sleep. “The Boss.”

“Good. I suspect we're both on the right page for this one and that this is The Boss warning you to back off. He doesn't like the idea of you talking to Subject X.”

The friends went away to the respective homes and began working to get rid of the shadow figure. One instructed me to be ready on a particular night. I was to sit quietly and imagine myself and Subject X surrounded by white light and angels. The image which formed in my mind was amazing with huge, angels, as tall as buildings, surrounding us. All held swords, all were bathed in fire, ready to go in to battle. At the same time, somewhere else in the country, one of the friends, along with a group of other people, worked to get rid of the shadow figure. I was told that, should the figure ever return,

It worked and the figure left. I was able to sleep, eat, write, and get my life back together. It's been gone for a good 18 months now. Although it does like to make the occasional visit to make sure I'm keeping up my end of the deal and staying away. Now it doesn't take much to get rid of it again. A few seconds of meditation and it's gone, banished back to wherever it came from.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Letter To The Evil That Is The Twelve Tribes Cult

It takes a lot to get me as angry as I am right now. A Hell of a lot. But the reports which have been spread over the news the past week have been enough to get my blood boiling at you scum. I'm not even going to call you "people" or "humans". I wouldn't even call you "animals" because at least animals look after their young. You're scum. And even then, I think the scum which lines my toilet bowl might be offended at me calling you that.

You're all pure evil and you're all going to burn in Hell for what you've done to those children. I don't care what your website says. I don't care what those "letters" on your website say (they're pretty easy to forge. How do I know? I've worked in the film industry. I forged things for a living.). If you give us solid, absolute proof that you haven't beaten those children black and blue several times a day, then we'll back off.

But the authorities know. They know that you're as evil as the Devil himself. There's no way you're Christians. Again, how do I know? I'm a Christian and the "god" you worship is not the God I worship. "Love the little children"? You lot have absolutely no idea what love is. "An Act Against Love" as your headline says is exactly that. But it's an act against the good people of this world, not against you. Brainwashed, that's what you all are. Absolutely and utterly brainwashed. You should all be ashamed of yourselves and I hope the authorities acting makes you take long hard looks at yourselves. But you won't. Because you believe whatever's said to you. Utter and total sheep each and every one of you. We can tell you this until we're blue in the face but you won't believe it until you're standing at the gates of Hell. And it's where you deserve to be.

Twelve Tribes 'child caning punishment' claims (BBC)
Twelve Tribes community: NSPCC demands police inquiry into Christian sect that canes children (Independent)
In Germany's Twelve Tribes sect, cameras catch ‘cold and systematic’ child-beating (Independent)
The Devon cult that canes tiny children to ‘cleanse their sins’ (Daily Mail)