‘The Free School’ Documentary


Download: The Free School

The Free School, Dead Medium Productions’ new documentary about Ireland’s first ‘Sudbury Valley School’, broadcast this morning on Newstalk. Wicklow Sudbury is an experiment in alternative education, bringing ‘free schooling’ and ‘unschooling’ to Ireland. You can stream the programme above, or download at our podcast link below. It will also be rebroadcasts at 10PM on Saturday 18th November.

More information – Sudbury Valley Schools, the free school movement, the history of alternative education [PDF].

Special thanks to all the staff and students at Wicklow Sudbury School, including Aaron, Ciara, Sonja, Isthara, Mia, Kashmira, Rick, Fionn, Ed and Faye; and to the national school students featured at the beginning and end of the programme Sophie, Conor, Emma, Aoibhin, Tadhg, Donal and their parents Clare and Keith; to Joanne Lane who was kind enough to speak to me while visiting Wicklow Sudbury; and to Emer Nowlan of Educate Together, and environmental educator Joesph Campbell.

RSS_button_1021
itunes

Advertisements

The Bee-Loud Cabaret on RTE Lyric


Download: The Bee Loud Glade – EP1 – Gerry Murphy

To subscribe to this series and lots more from Roger Gregg, check out the brand new Crazy Dog Audio Podcast

The Bee Loud Glade Cabaret is a series of twelve bite-size programmes bringing some of the best of the contemporary Irish spoken word scene to radio. Each episode will showcase one beautifully produced spoken word performance, and one ‘backstage’ interview, featuring emerging & established Irish poets. The series represents an exciting new approach to poetry on radio in Ireland, mixing studio performance, music and soundscapes, to recreate the excitement of the live poetry scene. It will bring poetry as a living spoken form to a new audience, and promote the work of a new generation of emerging and contemporary Irish artists. The Bee Loud Glade will take the word off the page and reimagine it using original music and soundscapes. Created for RTE Lyric FM. Funded by the Broadcast Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.

Talking Podcasts on the Dave Fanning Show

dave

 

I appeared on the Dave Fanning show this morning, talking about podcasting. I was fierce wrecked from insomnia, but hopefully relatively coherent.

Listen here

Check out the cliffnotes…

What is a podcast?

Any radio or TV series that can be subscribed to and downloaded online.

Almost all are free. Usually updated weekly.
Cover every topic – from sports and films, to the most obscure odd stuff – e.g.: Creature Geek – a podcast for people who like special effects monsters.
Include radio programmes from all around the world, and internet only programmes – some of which are incredibly high quality.
Listen whenever you want. Pause, skip back and forward. Keep it forever, or delete it after you listen.

What do you need to get one

Easiest way is directly through your phone, stream or download from a podcast app.
On android the best one is ‘Pocket Casts’ (also available for iphone).
iPhone comes with it’s own programme, another good one is Overcast.

How to listen…

Search for the podcast name. Hit subscribe.
Now each new episode will be available to listen. Can either download or stream over your home wifi or 4G (if you’ve got a good data plan).

There are podcasts available for literally every interest.

Types of Podcasts

1) Narrative Journalism (storytelling about the real world)

This American Life

Revisionist History – from Malcolm Gladwell

99% Invisible – from Radiotopia

Reply All – a show about the internet

2) Comedy

WTF – with Marc Maron

Chappo Trap House

3) True Crime

Stranglers

Sword and Scale

4) Science & History

Radiolab

Hardcore History

The Secret History of Hollywood

History on Fire

5) Politics

War College – from Reuters News

Trumpcast

6) Irish Podcasts

Dave Fanning Show podcast – clips of the show
RTE Lyric – Culture File
RTE One – Doc on one
Newstalk Documentaries
Headstuff network – Alison Spittle Show

How to find new podcasts you might like

Podcast networks are like TV channels that offer lots of podcasts of a certain style
You can find them in your podcast app or on the web
E.g.: Headstuff (local), Smodcast (Kevin Smith’s shows), Radiotopia (high quality narrative journalism)

How to make your own

Not too difficult!
Lots of guides online
Record on your phone or computer and pay about 20 euro a month to put online with a podcast host like Libsyn

A Creature of Myth

two-headed-monster

Where do we turn for love in the modern age? A variety of apps promise instant sex, momentary intimacy, group vouched safety. In this odd little story, one Irish man talks about his disenchantingly modern experience with a creature of myth.

This is the first episode in Dead Medium Productions new podcast. This will be a best of show, including drama, interviews, comedy and gonzo ‘journalism’. We’re on itunes now, or you can subscribe to our RSS feed here.

Download: ‘A Creature of Myth’

Meeting Jesus at the Movies – Culture File

war room

Every few years hollywood is shocked by an utterly predictable success. Some startling maverick producer actually markets a movie to an underserved audience. The flick makes major bank, and a mad scramble begins, as studios line up to cash in. Five years ago it was the grey dollar, as the critically acclaimed Kings Speech dragged in sexagenarians who’d drifted away from the action packed vacuity of the block buster era. Our screens are still filled with it’s predictable follow ups, from Cannes darling Amour to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Five years before that it was kids movies; as a series of franchises, from Harry Potter to Spy Kids proved that tweens had a powerful grip on mammy and daddy’s credit card. Now another, arguably more sinister trend has taken hold, as Hollywood seeks to cash in on a long ignored and even disdained audience. Mel Gibson might be persona non grata, but his 2004 spatterfest The Passion of the Christ nailed a market so lucrative even progressive, secular Hollywood could no longer ignore it. Ever since, the Jeebus movie has edged towards becoming a box office mainstay. Contemporary Christian movies religiously follow a variety of tropes. They exist in a post racial America of prosperous, hard striving, counter-culturally embattled Christian families, whose faith sets them at odds with a world literally in thrall to the devil. Their production tends towards the almost pornographically chintzy, and they’re most often staffed from a self contained stable of avowedly Christian actors.

Most of these movies – like the flurry of wide release Bollywood flicks current aimed at the Indian diaspora – appeal exclusively to their target audience. But breakout hits like this years ‘War Room’ prove that even ‘the lost’ (as evangelicals refer to their secular brethren) are no longer allergic to holy fluff. ‘War Room’ depicts a particularly pentecostal version of Christianity, in which the almighty can be compelled to intervene in ones career and marriage, but only if the lowly penitent rolls up her sleeves and really squeezes out an old prayer. This world view, with it’s sinister implication that misfortune is the deserved result of insufficient faith, ties into the evangelical belief that prayer is a weapon of mass demonic destruction. To a conservative America, still in the grip of a variety of wars on abstract concepts, from terrorism to the gay agenda, the idea holds a powerful appeal. To this view, the social ills of our time are not so much the result of economic inequality, or a history of prejudice, as the active intervention of Satan and his minions. The heavens fight a proxy war on earth, intervening in daily life for good or ill, much like the Gods of the Greek pantheon. With mortals as their emissaries, empowered to perform magic, good and evil battle in our daily lives.

The War Room’s setup exemplifies this narrative. An elderly magical black woman ‘Miss Clara’, played by Karen Abercrombie, helps repair the failing marriage of a wealthy couple, by her ‘war room’, essentially a closet full of prayer paraphernalia. Making her own Christ closet enables the young wife Elizabeth (played by Priscilla Shirer) to battle the demons threatening her marriage. Notable incidents in the film include a mugger fleeing, after a verbal slap down, ‘in the name of jesus’, and a alluring temptress defeated from afar by the power of prayer.

Producers, the Kendrick brothers, have created a slew of ‘educational materials’, to accompany the film. This merch includes a bible study kit, a branded teen prayer journal, the original War Room novel and a ‘battle plan for prayer’ which exhorts the reader to build a magic prayer room of their very own. This rather lucrative package, marketed directly to evangelical churches, along with suggestions to block book tickets, invites comparisons to George Lucas’s galactic scale entrepreneurship.

Fireproof, The highest grossing independent film of 2008, set the kindling to the current round of Christian flicks. The film – which in a deeply Freudian moment begins with a small child asking her mother if she can marry her father, is a romantic fantasy in which an inattentive fireman follows a forty step programme encouraging him to smash his porn riddled computer, and love his cheating wife unconditionally.

Despite their increasing ambition, relatively high budget Jeebus movies are not yet guaranteed success. The formula to reach a wider audience seems to require an Oprah style appeal to the power of positive thinking. ‘Yellow Day’, which opened to minute box office last month, features a glossy combination of animation and live action. The film imagines a kids camp where once a year on the mysterious ‘Yellow Day’ God ‘bestows incredible visions and miracles’ on the faithful, like a narcissistic santa claus. Perhaps the movies failure lies in it’s emphasise on the more feverish, fantastical aspects of evangelicalism.

Last years creepy ‘Heaven is for real’, recounted the story of a four year old boy who has a near death vision of heaven. This trip includes meeting Jesus riding a rainbow coloured stallion, and hanging out with his own miscarried sister. The film based on a purportedly non-fiction new york times best seller, as been labelled ‘heaven tourism’. Its 12 million dollar budget (huge in Christian cinema terms), grossed over 100, 000, 000 world wide. Heaven is for real doubtless owes part of its success to its promotion by media titan, Sony Pictures. Signalling increased investment in the segment by mainstream studios. But also to it’s marketing as a chilling M Night Shyamalan style mystery.

Whats concerning about the rise of such films is not their proselytisation of a belief system, but rather their sanctification of prosperity, their replacement of the vacuity of consumerism, with a kind of sinister conformity – predicated on a just world in which pain proceeds according to a plan. If there is a more malicious machine than the cynical dream factory of hollywood, it’s the the Christian Industrial complex. A hope franchise, with thousands of branches, that ensures capitalist conformity across the economically blighted flyover states. The evangelical block, wilfully courted by post Goldwater Republicans, upheld by Conservative Christian radio, televangelism, Christian publishers, Christian rock, and increasingly Jeebus movies, are selling a very particular kind of celluloid opium. One that appeals to the vulnerable, even as it forestalls any effort to challenge their circumstances.

Download: ‘Jeebus Movies’

Death Cafe – Culture File

grim


 
The ‘Death Cafe‘ movement invites us to discuss death over tea and cakes. For Culture File, I visited the death cafe at The Irish Hospice Foundations’ Forum on End of Life. Chatting with people approaching the end of life, and others working to make its passing less painful, inevitably made death for a moment more difficult to ignore. It’s almost a year since a close friend of mine, a wonderful charismatic, hilarious, talented man, took his own life; and with it a kind of innocence amongst our group in college. A kind of certainty that we were immune from futile injury. My childhood was shaped by the death of the woman closest to me, my nana Kate. Shortly after school I lost two friends, one to a still unsolved murder, and another to a still incurable illness. Death is something I think about often, but rarely discuss. In a sense, whats the point? But perhaps there is a reason to talk about it after all. ‘Think Ahead‘ is a pen and paper form that lets us write down how we’d like our send off, what our wishes are around our treatment at the end of life. While Irish law still criminalises assisted dying, thinking about how we want our lives to be celebrated, and how we want to be taken care of when we cannot express our wishes, can perhaps insure we live our lives a little more, while we still have them.

Voices include Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness and Sarah Murphy of Think Ahead
Download: ‘Death Cafe’