Performance Art

Navigate Around the Shitters

I get hassled on twitter a lot. I’m on some “we don’t like her being involved in skepticism or atheism” list somewhere in cyberspace. The list gets passed around to bigots and angry, lonely men in dank basements and then they find my twitter feed and tell me how much they don’t like me and and how they don’t want me around and how I should shut up and go away. They call me names. They mock and make fun of my art (That link maybe NSFW for language.) They sometimes do even shittier things.

Sometimes, it bothers me.

Especially, on the days when I just want to be left alone to quietly make art.

But on most days, I realize that it is important to to stand up and be counted as a women in secularism.

There aren’t as many women as men involved in the collective movements and it is important for those of us to stand up so other women will know that there is a place for them in this community too.

At the same time, it is important for the good men and women to stand up against bullying and abuse if you see it. If we want a community based on secular humanism that values kindness and equality we are going to have to find a way to navigate around this toxic vitriol spewing forth from the dark spaces in our community. And standing up doesn’t mean that you have to start a fight, it just means that you do something to combat the negativity.

So on that note, just the other day, I was venting on twitter because I was being hassled by a bunch of douchebags and the usual array of shitheads and so I tweeted to everyone else following me that my holiday advice was to learn to “navigate around the shitters.” One of my (friendly) followers asked if he could turn that into a song and so of course I laughed and said, “yes!”

He did just that!

He wrote the following song and it made me very happy. I do so love it when something creative and positive grows out of the dank, dark parts of the cyber world. In with the bad and out with the good I say!

Please enjoy, Navigate Around The Shitters by Murdo Messer



Navigate Around the Shitters

Watch where you put your feet
The dogs are shitting in your street
The haters are walking talking trash
Don’t let them make you crash

Strike out the heavy hitters
You got to navigate around the shitters

You bring the wrath I’ll bring the surly
Don’t give a damn if it’s late or early
Got no time for all the crap
No retweets and no talk back

Strike out the heavy hitters
You got to navigate around the shitters


I don’t believe in true believers
If you can’t doubt there’s no procedures
No way to open up your mind
If you’re not the skeptic kind

Strike out the heavy hitters
You got to navigate around the shitters


Thanks Murdo, you cheered me up! Now let’s all go turn some bad into some good art. And remember kids, navigate around them shitters.

You bring the wrath, I’ll bring the surly. 😉

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. Love it!

    Yesterday Mrs. Fishy, the Small Fry and I drove an hour and a half to have lunch with an older couple in their beautiful house atop a hill in Alpine Victoria, Australia. I’d been dreading it.

    This couple have a relationship that sets off every trigger my not so great childhood bestowed upon me. They’re fine so long as everyone was sitting around talking and eating. But should anything need to be done, fetching cutlery, cleaning plates and the like it was always done wrong, a fact that most often needed exasperated shouting to convey.

    On the drive home I rested my head against the side window, I was exhausted and stressed. The world scrolled by the window in a series of rural vignettes.




    Rusting machinery of mysterious function.

    All things that were familiar enough to me after living here for five years.

    And then we crested a rise and turned a corner and the valley opened up before me. The setting sun was stretching out the shadows in long parallel lines across the dried yellow grasses. The lines of hills, one behind the other, faded down the colour chart to a seemingly impossible distance. The light was that warm orange/red of impending sunset, tinting the white sparks of cockatoos as they raced across the sky with just a hint of blood.

    As this vista unfolded my wife and daughter were singing the Spiderman theme song for the tenth time or so. I had dropped out, too tired to be bothered. And suddenly it was all okay. I was okay. I think I startled them when I joined the final note, full voiced and exuberant in my off key dissonance.*

    This beauty, this impossible landscape that I now call home was unchanged from one second to the next. I had just forgotten to see it for what it was. I had let the shitters get inside my head to the point where I couldn’t see anymore. And more importantly I had lost sight of the fact that I was traveling along cocooned in a bubble of familial warmth and love. A situation so radically unlike anything I knew growing up that the word “family” has trouble stretching to cover the two situations.

    For me that’s one of the primary functions of art, to distill the beauty of the world down into small, human sized chunks. To make with our hands reminders, signposts that say:

    “Look with intent.”

    “See what’s there in all its facets.”

    And most importantly:

    “You can choose.”

    You CAN choose to see the beauty and ignore the rest, because in this, and perhaps this alone, the subjective is truth enough.

    Thank you Amy. Thank you for making colourful, vibrant beautiful works of art. Objects that not only remind us of who we are and what we value, but also that beauty exists and we must cultivate our vision to see it.

    *If you haven’t listened to it in a while, the thing is a damn fine composition and that last chord? It’s suppose to be dissonant. 😉

  2. Hi, thanks for the kind words on my song. 🙂 Thanks to Amy for the inspiration and for sharing.

    Breadbox, thank you, glad you noticed. I love wordplay, if I can write a line that has multiple interpretations I am happy. I had originally wrote: “The haters are only talking trash” but felt it didn’t quite cut it.

    Coelecanth, great comment. I was raised to always try and find beauty in the world. Sometimes it’s very difficult to find for there is so much clutter in our daily modern lives that gets in the way. Sometimes, though, nature will just slap you in the face. 🙂

    As an early morning commuter this happens to me a lot, especially this time of year as it is still dark when I get up. Stepping out of the house before getting in the car I always look up and when the sky is clear I am instantly stopped in my tracks by a night sky full of stars. It is literally breath-taking.

    I live in a rural area so the Milkyway is still visible here. It’s so visually stunning I almost fall over from vertigo. I pause, lean against the car and just soak in what I am seeing.

    As I drive in to work, an hour long commute for me, I head south-southwest. On my left is the rising sun and frequently, or more appropriately, cyclically, on my right is the setting moon. It’s sometimes hard to focus on the road while this celestial grandeur unfolds above my head. As I watch it I try to absorb the morphing colours, the positions of the stars and constellations as they slowly fade to the blue hue of day and, finally, the warmth of the sun as it’s first rays trickle through the window onto my face. These are the things I hold onto and recall, or retreat to, when the crap starts flying or whatever particular stresser of the day tries to carve at my happiness.

    You’re right. We can choose to see the beauty. It sometimes requires a conscious effort to do so but the reward is always worth it.

    This was a poem I wrote after one particularly beauty soaked morning where the sune was rising as the moon was setting.

    Chase the Moon Down

    Her radiant face stares the sun up
    Going down on me in the chuckling corn-field
    Beads trickle down from our ears as
    She takes my breath in the early heat
    Away with her into the blue slumber
    Pale, pale, pale her shimmering skin
    Slipping down, down to green pillows and sheets
    Of whispering hills and licking rivers

    Slowly, caressing, teasing the thumping horizon
    She pauses, winks and smiles at the trembling landscape
    Waiting below her anticipated touch
    She slips, down, down, down beyond sight
    Into the ecstasy of imagination

    Cheers and thanks again.

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