Lost clan of Palouse is alive and well; Group forms family around love of Moscow, Internet and parties

Byline: Bill London
Published: 12/22/2000

MOSCOW -- Would you call this a cyber-clan?
Perhaps it's an extended family -- one not related by blood, but by Web site?

In fact, the Clan MacThoy is a Moscow-based circle of friends: single childless adults, most in their 20s and 30s, about 35 in number, evenly divided between women and men, evenly divided between those who still live in Moscow and those who have moved elsewhere.

But they're all united by a loose and hedonistic view of life and linked with a Web site detailing their mythological heritage and maintaining their party network.

The clan's Web site (www.macthoy.org) contains about 50 pages of text that include the history, customs, songs and photographic images of this nonexistent Scottish clan.

Be forewarned the Web site should bear an R rating for bawdy humor and imagery, as well as an A-plus for imagination, creativity and clever word-play.

And how did this clan come to be?

Killian Flynn, a 35-year-old adjunct faculty member in the University of Idaho philosophy department, explains the Clan MacThoy began about six years ago, when he and a group of Moscow friends journeyed to Oregon for a campout sponsored by the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval re-enactment group.

"At these encampments, groups name themselves and so, to fit in, we tried to think of a name," Flynn says. "I was studying classical Greek and suggested the word "macthoi," which translates as trouble-makers. Somebody else said that the name sounded like a Scottish clan, so we called ourselves the Clan MacThoy."

What began as a joke took on a life of its own.

The clan grew in number as friends and friends-of-friends were drawn to the alcohol-fueled fun and creative play that surfaced when the clan met at Moscow taverns, potluck dinners and weekend campouts.

"People were not invited to become a MacThoy," explains clan member Maria Zenobia, 28, office coordinator at the UI Women's Center.

"They just sat down and drank beer with us and if they were accepted, they were in, and if they were in, they were family."

That's a word that surfaces often when the clan members discuss their MacThoy-ness.

"This is my family," says clan member Octavius, 26, a UI student and freelance Web designer. "My real family is scattered to the winds and it sure is nice to have something to fill in for that need.

"I also joined because this is an outlet for creative energy and a forum for silliness. This is such an interesting bunch of people to be around. I love to entertain, and so this is an audience as well."

With the sense of family created by the clan comes the benefits of family, Flynn says.

"The Clan MacThoy allows me to be who I want to be. I can be my true self.

"This is a creative community. Everyone in the clan is doing things. We are writers, poets, playwrights, artists. We all have creative aspirations and we all encourage one another."

Moicha Turpis, a clan member who now lives in Houston, Texas, adds her perspective via email: "We do family things: we get together for the holidays and hold family gatherings and reunions. To me the clan is a place I can say anything I wish and still be accepted.

"They share many of my interests and passions. They are the creative extension of myself. They are highly entertaining."

Bandy Legs, 34, who now lives in Bellingham, Wash., describes the MacThoy family via email as a "collection of old friends, and many new ones, who are largely separated by distance. While most of us met in Moscow and consider it a social hub to this day, we've found greener pastures in Portland, Seattle, Bellingham and elsewhere.

"And although we may make up crazy excuses and occasions to meet in the middle of nowhere and go camping or to drive 400 miles to do dinner, the pseudo-organization and communication of the whole thing makes many of us accountable to show up and not lose touch. Kind of like 'The Big Chill' once or twice a year, except nobody has to die."

Bandy Legs says the clan is also a good network.

"Most of us are students, teachers, artists, musicians, poets, actors, writers, scientists, and odd combinations thereof. So, when we get together, it's not a simple matter of partying it up for old times sake.

"We get a chance to catch up on each others' endeavors, have holes filled in about some piece of software we don't understand, recruit each other for new projects and so on."

The clan is social, not sexual, in focus, members agree.

"The clan is not a dating pool," says Octavius. "Relationships may happen, but that is not our emphasis."

Members have a variety of sexual orientations: bisexual, heterosexual and homosexual, Flynn adds. "Sexual orientation is not an issue."

"We don't necessarily encourage monogamy," Zenobia says. "We encourage other forms of recreation. Most clan members have slept with other clan members. But that is not the focus."

The focus is having fun together, they say, and staying in contact.
Three years ago, Flynn began to learn Web page technology and realized the clan's activities could be placed on the Internet. With clan member Pokedea Quidnunc, a Moscow playwright and UI employee, he began posting clan plans and memorabilia on a UI server.

In September, with financial support from a clan member, Flynn and Quidnunc purchased a domain name and set up the MacThoy Web site.

"There is a certain snob appeal in having our own site," Flynn says. "It seems more legitimate, and it does help communicate with the out-of-towners."

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Created: May 9, 2001
Last modified: September 12, 2006