Music Monday: Running Up That Hill with Kate Bush

While people listened to Top 40 pop, or hair metal, Samantha Taylor’s Video hits introduced to me to a female solo artist out of Britain with this video:

This video caused me to head to a shop on Portage Avenue downtown, with records on the main floor, then a downstairs section with loads of cassette tapes. I had to take antigen injections for allergies at the Boyd Building nearby, but I had some time to kill, and some money to spend. I found the tape, Hounds of Love, and bought it. She belongs to a select group of artists whose tapes I worn out on that Walkman.

Soon more cinematic videos followed  the album. Its’ hard to call them ‘music videos’ when they feel like short films with its own score. Cloudbusting comes to mind featuring Bush as the daughter of an inventor played by Donald Sutherland:

Despite taking years between albums, her music has influenced artists like Coldplay, Sarah Mclachlan, and Tori Amos. She sold out 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in 15 minutes last year. Sometimes a force to be reckoned with takes it own time, but it’s well worth the wait.

So here’s another two-for-one. This time one my choice, and one unknowingly selected by a fan in another artistic field. When Richard Armitage set up his Twitter account, he used this lyric to sum up another successful night on stage as John Proctor in The Crucible:

The quoted lyrics comes from this song off The Hounds of Love:

My favourite actually comes from her 1989 album The Sensual World. The song makes me cry, or want to cry, every time I hear it.

Music Monday: Two by Bruce Cockburn

On one hand music has a good beat and you can dance to it. (I just betrayed my age right there.) I look for lyrics. Songs can only have so much ‘hey baby hey’ until they turn my brain to mush. Today’s selections comes from one of my favourite artists.

Bruce Cockburn had his music played on mainstream rock radio in the 80’s, especially one song usually known by its remake. While The Barenaked Ladies did a great job with its stripped down version of ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Times’, the original has a more immediate rhythm in keeping with the tone of the lyrics. I love this song as a teenager, and I still listen to it numerous times as an adult. It’s more like a poem with a beat than a song. It’s metaphors, similes, and lush language washing over the ears to soak the imagination. Favourite line? This one:

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime –
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight –
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight

The song with the most meaning? ‘Pacing the Cage’. I first heard the song off a friend’s borrowed CD in 1996/97. I had left teaching after three years of trying to break in. I had gone straight to university from high school, tried to fulfill items from an imaginary checklist from getting my classroom to getting my husband. I discovered life doesn’t work that way, and most of all it’s someone else’s life. The song came at a time I asked myself ‘who am I living this life for anyway?':

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

The lyrics quoted in the post came from a site called The Cockburn Project filled with information on his music as well as well as interviews plus posts about his recently published memoir Rumours of Glory.

For #1000Speak: On Compassion and Nonviolence


I heard about #1000Speak from this blog. Combining One Thousand Voices Speak for Compassion with the UN Day of Social Justice, a post reminding us why compassion can change the world.

Originally posted on Just Gene'O:

(Welcome, compassion bloggers! I am a host, so there’s a linky at the end of this. If you have a compassion post and you are looking for a linky, do scroll to the bottom without reading and add your link. I don’t mind, and this post is will be here whenever you have the time for it.)

I signed on to publish a post about compassion just a day or so after Lizzi inspired Yvonne to start the Facebook group. I discovered it as early as I did thanks to my friend Gretchen. I knew this was a good idea the minute I saw it, but I had no clue so many other people would come along. I am thrilled to be a part of it, and grateful to all the friends who not only signed on but have given a little of their time and social media…

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#1000Speak: Be a Foolish, Sucker for Compassion

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”  ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness    

In 2008 Karen Armstrong received the TED Prize, and made her wish: to restore compassion in a world decimated by 9/11 only 7 years earlier. No sooner did Ms. Armstrong make her wish, the market crashed causing everyone to lose their homes, their jobs, and in the process some hope. A word like ‘compassion’ comes from the Latin loosely translated as ‘with suffering’, and people would think we would bear the suffering together.

Not quite.

It made people hard. Compassion, I have heard, only happens with saints, naïve persons, or ‘suckers’. No doubt somebody will get the idea in their head to emerge as a ‘realist’ to call this day naïve, or the people writing suckers.

Hi, my name is Fatima, and I am a sucker for compassion.

In fact, I don’t see compassion as a choice. One day I went through downtown Winnipeg in a really foul mood. People walking next to me, and by me, proved to look in an equally foul mood. Nobody spoke. I think we looked through one another than at each other. I know I did. I realized something as I looked around, I mean really stopped and looked around at the corner of Donald and Portage. I stopped seeing everyone as human. I saw labels: fat, skinny, poor, well off, hipster, black, white, aboriginal, sober, drunk, high, clean, dirty. That moment scared me more than zombies or dragons. I felt like parts of me turned to stone. I think the nuttiness of this world can do that, as a defense against what we can control.

As Ash Wednesday came and went, I didn’t attend mass this year. In fact, I have not attended for the past few years. I stepped out to clear my head. I felt tired of a checklist of things to look ‘good’. This year I decided to ‘do’. This year’s things to give up, will take the rest of my life not 40 days. It’s things like giving up fear. The compassionate act in the face of fearing looking foolish, in some case losing friends, or even family.

Compassion doesn’t happen on the streets. We need to practice compassion online.

We need to remember a person behind those negative comments can’t take the blinders off for a moment. The fear overwhelms them. Only suckers empathize. Whatever trolls sell, I don’t want to buy. I don’t have to buy. It only seems to work if people circle the drain online arguments make. The other way involves dialogue, but it starts by looking at the other person as a human being. The root of compassion starts with dropping the label to see the person underneath. Only suckers would do that, goes the wisdom. Well, I am sucker.

The next time I found myself on the streets of Winnipeg. I looked at the humanity of the other. Maybe only suckers would do it, but better to be a flesh-and-blood sucker than a stony cynic.


Today’s post is part of the 1000 Voices for Compassion. The mission is pretty simple:

How cool would it be if we could get 1000 bloggers on the same day to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement etc.?
We could call it 1000 Voices For Compassion.
Who’s in?

-Yvonne Spence

Pick me


Music Monday: The Wedding by Bear McCreary (From Outlander)

If you watched Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Da Vinci’s Demons, or Outlander, you heard the music of Bear McCreary enhancing some of your memorable scenes. Last week #Droughtlander, the name given to the ridiculous hiatus initiated by Starz, got a little relief in the form of the soundtrack release. Between getting the email from Rdio bout the release, and free love poems read by Richard Armitage, Valentine’s Day sucked a little less.

As for favourite track, I would have to do with ‘The Wedding’. It took me back to my friend C‘s rec room, her kids safely tucked in bed, three women, and one understanding husband, watch THE episode of Outlander’s first half. Galbaldon devoted a whole chapter to the moment Jamie and Clare’s marriage gets consummated, also known as ‘guy gets deflowered for once’. The episode itself cleverly takes non-linear approach to the event as the ceremony unfolds in the past tense, while women in rec room around the world had popcorn and short bread to cheer on the couple. (That was us, but I saw the Twitter feeds with people reporting on their snacks. Does whiskey count as a snack?)

Take that Mr. Grey. Sexy without the paraphenlia.

I wanted to embed the actual wedding ceremony scene to provide context to the music. It’s quite beautiful, and the music swells the emotions for the viewers, especially those familiar with the books. I found plenty of videos about the wedding night (holy dinah did I ever), but not one with just the ceremony itself. Find someone with a copy of the episode to watch the scene…and maybe stick around for the wedding night.

How to Survive the Pink-And-Red Onslaught

Author Roxane Gay wrote a beautifully concise essay for The Guardian about Valentine’s Day. If I have to assemble a survival kit for the pink-and-red onslaught, I would include it. Among the many meditations about today, this paragraph leaps out as a reminder:

This year, I am surrendering to Valentine’s Day – willingly. It is far too exhausting to invest so much energy in disliking a holiday that, at its purest, is designed to celebrate love.

I feel ambivalent about today. Like Gay, I hated Valentine’s Day, now I just tolerate it. It’s like mosquitos during a Manitoba summer, having a few bites doesn’t stop a person from enjoying the day. Today is like any other day. We have the Louis Riel Day long weekend, I took a couple of vacation days last week to make a mini-holiday, and Richard Armitage recorded love poems for I would also put them in the survival kit.

Thanks to the magic of Tumblr, I would have never found out about the collection. It’s Richard Armitage, love poetry, and it’s FREE! (For a limited time only of course.) It’s a good cross-section of poets from Edgar Allan Poe to e.e. cummings. I quickly downloaded the collection, and began listening to it on my morning commute. It’s amazing how Armitage’s reading of Sonnet 116 made my crammed commute a little easier. I even played it again on the way home. I pulled out my earphones, my smart phone, and mentally having a conversation to him at the end of a long day. I had a long day. Read me home, I thought. It beats thinking about what to cook for supper, or making calls, or anything else. It makes things tolerable.

I also discovered another thing while listening to those poems. Once I really, really believed in them. I used to believe all those fairy tales about love, about finding ‘the one’, and worked really, really hard to make myself ready for that person. Roxane Gay’s essay talked about expending energy on hating Valentine’s Day, and the way we throw the word ‘love’ around. I find myself very careful with the latter over the past few years. I say ‘I really like (blank)’. I really like these poems, I really like Richard Armitage, and the word love gets saved for the important aspects of my life.

As for the former, the part about the fairy tales, I find myself in a grey area. I can’t take a cynical view of love as I see many happy couples, in fulfilling relationships, and it happened after a period of self-reflection or just not looking. I admire the guts it took for Ms. Gay to write I don’t know if I will ever marry, though I hope to. I stopped hoping for marriage. My mom keeps telling me about this cousin marrying at 50, and I very gently told her I am not that person. I elect to stay home on Saturdays. I took down my profile. I started to look at a life without marriage ever happening. February 14th feels like just another day, I stopped fighting the pink-and-red onslaught and decided to survive it.

Today I will stay home, watch Richard Armitage’s swoon-worthy performance in North and South, before I start seeing him as the less swoon-worth Francis Dollarhyde on Hannibal. (Trust me, I saw ‘Manhunter’ and ‘Red Dragon’-this should be interesting for the cravat crowd in the fandom.) Happy pink-and-red onslaught day. May your survival kit be ever fortified with good things giving you joy.

Music Monday: Living in the Golden Age by Gowan

The Huffington Post Canada site ran a story entitled The Strange Stories Behind ‘Strange Animal,’ Gowan’s 30-Year-Old Classic AlbumGowan, short for Laurence Gowan, was a big artist back in the 80’s with hits mostly in Canada. Strange Animal made Gowan a name with its hit single Criminal Mind, along with its creative video:

I bet some readers couldn’t’ get past the age of the album. Thirty years ago I was 15, ready for grade 10, and watching shows like Video Hits and Good Rockin’ Tonite on CBC. I loved Gowan’s videos, and saw him twice in concert putting on an energetic show in small venues. While his top ten hits have people humming along, I liked this track from Great Dirty World, which followed up Strange Animal. Moonlight Desires proved the breakout hit, but the song below hinted at what’s going on under this ‘golden age’ in the Mulroney 80’s. Most memorable lyrics? Many ragged souls are bleeding\Some have just begun to fight\Can’t change an angry world overnight.

Missing My Zombies

I realize keeping geeky things to just Midweek Geekiness will not happen. It’s another reason I like goals not rigid resolutions. If things don’t work out, then I remain flexible to change. I think flexibility will benefit me in a zombie apocalypse. I will not pine for the way things used to be, and simply embrace things day by day. No room for the way things used to be when you have to face this down every day:

Image Credit: (Note: This is also movie make up pioneer, and Walking Dead director, Greg Nicotero.)

When Talking Dead first premiered, Kevin Smith was its first guest. He spoke about anticipating The Walking Dead, the way his mother anticipated The Young and The Restless. We just want to see our stories, and my milestone widget says we have less than a month before the second-half season première on February 8th. (Take that Outlander! Although, I anticipate that one as well.)

Here there be spoilers. Therefore proceed with caution, or just don’t read it…

When we last left our intrepid band of survivors, Beth was all set to leave until Dawn pulled a Governor and demanded Noah get left behind. I said ‘pull a governor’ as memories of Hershel’s demise at his hands, and Michonne’s katana, still remained fresh in her mind. After a couple of seasons wondering if this character served any purpose, the writers gave viewers a beautiful arc as the youngest Greene child went from wanting to die to willing to kill. Beth saw her father’s death after Rick pleaded with Phillip/Brian/Governor to lay down arms to try to work things out. Noah’s willingness to simply walk over and resume the life he hated at the hospital perhaps proved the last straw for Beth. I bet she wished she had stabbed the Governor, but Dawn will do.

We just forgot she proved pretty quick on the draw. Dawn then learned Daryl Dixon was an even quicker draw. When the scene unfolded, I sat pretty stunned at my television. As soon as the credits rolled, my friend S called and we began to debrief. It felt more like ‘de-grief’, which proved the writers did their job. While the walkers still abound, along with many ways to kill them, the biggest threat remains the living humans. The first half also reminds me a bit of Watership Down as the band of bunnies deal with different warrens, and their different leadership styles.

After the Governor and Woodbury, we got a few interesting extremes in Season 5.0.


Writer and executive producer Scott Gimple talked about Terminus as ‘institutional evil’ manifested in this new world. As they got their meal, one including Rick, Darryl, and Glen ready for slaughter, Gareth wanted tallies on the bullets used in the firefight at the end of season 4. The ‘Termites’ feel oblivious to the luring, killing, and eating of people coming to Terminus. To them it’s a dog-eat-dog world, or cattle-and-butcher in their case. Forget the walkers, the calm justification for their slaughter scared me more. In season 1 Dr. Jenner showed the brain before and after a walker comes ‘alive’. It’s driven by hunger, without memories of their human life, without some sort of choice. The Termites seem like a dark, mirror-image of Rick’s group. Faced with marauders willing to rape and kill, Rick simply dealt with the matter yet carried on. The Termites simply lost any humanity after going from prey to predator.

Nothing scares me more than a group of people doing evil while calmly go about their day.

And that brings me to…

Grady Memorial Hospital

While thinking about the groups Rick’s company met, I thought about the rabbit groups in the novel Watership Down. For some reason Dawn Lerner reminded me of General Woundwort. Woundwort rules a warren with an iron paw in the novel. On the surface, Grade Memorial has all the amenities to survive an post-zombie world. If the Governor/Brian has not happened, perhaps Rick’s group would have turned the prison into the best of both worlds with a self-sustaining population and making sure marauders do not infiltrate the group. (If the walker herd problem around the fences kept growing, it would not matter anyway.)

While Rick took in people as a way to show Carl to keep compassion alive, Dawn has not such goals. Noah, Beth, and the others are a new serf class in this world. They work off their insurmountable debt, and the ruling class behaves very much as a ruling class would behave. Joan’s rape shows a world still running unchecked, and Dawn’s indifference to her guard’s behaviour means it’s better to deal with walkers than having food and shelter under those circumstances.

Season 5.1: The Drama Continues

The mid-season finale in November left Rick’s group tattered and frayed like a blanket going through the wash too many times. Eugene’s mission is a bust, the preacher seems to screw things up, and Beth’s death brought a fresh tragedy to the group. Why do I tune into this show week after week again? It’s the same reason some people read Shakespeare’s tragedies. We watch the show to see the consequences of choice, and the meaning gained from tragedy. Yes, I also want to see innovative ways to kill a walker, usually as done by Darryl Dixon although Rick and Carol have stepped up their bad ass game.

What’s next for our survivors? Where do people go without a clear mission or goal. They just keep going, and we as viewers keep watching. It’s not about returning a world to normal, that is out of the question. Now we see what rises up in its place, and what problems does humanity still deal deal with amongst each other. I also have one burning question as well:

Will Rick shave off that beard? It’s getting less Thorin Oakenshield and more Grizzly Adams.