Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Date: November 2015

OK, it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary – but do you know what ‘cis’ means?

"If I can’t say a word to my hairdresser and expect to be understood, it’s not, in my view, a good word. Cisgender smacks too much of esoteric gender theory to me; all very well if you get a kick out of discussing the minutiae of identity politics all day, but I’d rather talk about important stuff. Like lipstick." Ha! But joking aside, there's an important point here about using (misusing?) academic terminology outside of that context, however well-meaning. (The same goes for concepts like 'microaggression': misapprehended by a broader audience that doesn't grok the discrete difference in meaning a term like 'aggression' can have.) #link

My wrestling diet

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (do I even have any regular readers anymore? Ah what does it matter) or you follow me on Twitter, you should know that I’m a huge geek for pro wrestling. Have been for 25-odd years, in fact; a bit longer than The Undertaker‘s been around. They told me I’d grow out of it, but despite my interest waning here and there, it hasn’t happened yet. I might never have been a hardcore tape-trader or a dirt sheet subscriber, but I’m a lifer nonetheless.

And in 2015, it’s really never been a better time to be a wrestling geek. There’s the WWE Network, of course: every major show live in HD, no sports channel subscription, dodgy stream or next-day torrenting required. But in the last couple of years especially, the whole wrestling world beyond WWE has become accessible to those who wish to explore. Just a glance at YouTube shows indie promotions like Ring of Honor and CHIKARA making the most of online streaming to get their goods out there.


My Letterboxd reviews of Halloween, The Lazarus Effect, Falcon Rising and 21 Jump Street


Thirty-seven years on and John Carpenter’s original still maintains its power to scare. Much of that is in its economy, from the austerity of the villain’s backstory (we don’t need to know Michael Myers is anything other than a unique brand of psychopath with preternatural abilities) to the brief running time (90 minutes is more than enough to do all it needs to do) to the distinct lack of gore (it’s not about gruesome set pieces; the horror – even visually – is mostly liminal). It’s in Carpenter’s holistic vision for the piece, with unusual shots and staging for the time, and that pioneering electronic soundtrack. And of course it’s also in Jamie Lee Curtis, she of quality Hollywood lineage, being a cut above the average scream queen, and with whose terror it’s all too easy to empathise. Quite simply one of the best ever.


ISIS Women and Enforcers in Syria Recount Collaboration, Anguish and Escape

A timely reminder that it's not about religion or culture or any of that obfuscating bullshit: it's about power, power of over individuals and over populations. Like feudalism, like the church in the middle ages, like warlords in the Horn of Africa, like the Third Reich. It's all the same when you reduce to the essence. #link

List of selfie-related injuries and deaths

A few of these, like falling down the steps at the Taj Mahal, are unfortunate incidents that could happen to anyone. But the rest? Some people will do the stupidest things for social media kudos. #link

I've twice been to the Rothko Room at London's Tate Modern, most recently in the summer of 2013 when 'Black on Maroon' was undergoing a painstaking restoration process after it was vandalised in October 2012. The science behind that process is as remarkable as the painting itself, and most of Mark Rothko's work for that matter, is spellbinding. #video

La Guerre Éternelle

Leonard Pierce says everything that needs to be said about last Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris and their aftermath. #link

Syria's Climate Conflict

A graphic lesson in how climate change precipitated the Syrian crisis, and all the awfulness that's come with it. #link

Nobody Knows

Linking this story by m'learned friend Mat Honan (who's apparently given up email? Yeah, I won't be doing that; email isn't broken for me) because it's both a rare self-reflective bullshit-calling piece on tendencies in tech reporting, and a parody of said reporting. I think? Also, I have no idea what Box is. None, zero, zilch. #link

I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

'Liberal' in this case being redefined, I fear, as 'Not only am I free to believe whatever I believe as true, but if others don't share those beliefs, that constitutes a violent assault on my selfhood.' Or as Laura Kipnis puts it, "emotional discomfort is regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated." (There's a lot to unpack in that essay, too.) #link

The Necessity Of Intergender Wrestling

"Antiquated notions of gender-based wrestler capability need to dissolve. Women can be and are the same kind of wrestlers as men. Wrestling is for everyone, and wrestling is better if men and women can do it together." I think the mainstream is, what, decades away from this? Which is weird because Chikara does it just fine. [c/o @atomic_elbow] #link

The Past and the Future for WWE Pay-Per-Views

A good piece by David Shoemaker (AKA The Masked Man) from over the summer, exploring the differences in wrestling culture between the beginning of the PPV era and now. Identifies most of the things I've noticed and thought about myself, so saves me the trouble. #link

Weeknotes #739-740

Getting paid. Getting a haircut. Writing up some newsy things, editing others. Solving layout problems with InDesign. Oh yeah, and completing my tax return. That was week 739.

Then week 740: deadline crunch time, then more newsy writing, more editing, and a night out with Mick Foley marred only slightly by the three drunk idiots sat in front of us, who thankfully didn’t get the mic to ask their presumably inane question during the Q&A portion of the show.


New Yorker copyeditor dishes on the wacky side of her (quite dignified) job: “One feels so silly looking up [profanity]”

"If there’s a combination that makes an ideal copy editor it’s high intelligence and low ego, because if you’re looking for ego gratification copy editing is probably not the place to be." Absolutely! And I firmly believe all my years of editing has made me a better writer, even if only in terms of not being so precious about my own words. If something needs fixing, so be it. #link


An iPhone app for turning photos into watercolours. Should one ever need such a thing. #link

My Letterboxd reviews of The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, Circle, Housebound and Curse of Chucky

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears:

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is the very definition of style over substance. This giallo en français certainly looks the part as it descends into madness both figurative and literal, hitting cues similar to the far superior Berberian Sound Studio (that film’s director Peter Strickland is listed in the credits for audio contributions) with its repeated motifs of mirrors, eyes, lenses, knife blades, bared flesh and the like. But the sonic shenanigans and visual trickery grow tiresome before long with so little behind the bluster to discover, or want to discover. The result is little more than a showreel, albeit an admittedly impressive one, that’s desperately in search of a mystery.