Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Walk Out To Winter

I read an article today in Slate bemoaning that the holiday song canon appeared to be closed. Later on in the morning, I found myself in Ulta where, predictably, they were playing what I assume is their Christmas tape and it was, as anyone who has attempted to do any shopping this time of year might expect, annoying. I was doing a pretty good job of blocking out the music when what to my wondering ears should resound, but Walk Out To Winter. In Ulta, of all places. So this is a Christmas song now? Did anyone listen to the lyrics first? Yeah, sure, there is the word "winter" in the chorus, but it really doesn't seem--you know, never mind, congratulations on those residuals, Roddy!

About fifteen minutes later, I was in Trader Joe's, talking with one of my friends who works there (I am there so often, it would feel wrong to refer to her as a mere acquaintance at this point) about how cold it was and how people at the Bear's game last night must still be defrosting. She said there was no one she would sit out in single digit weather to see and I agreed because, let's be honest here, it is crazy to freeze for such things as sporting events or rock concerts or plays (but most rock concerts and plays don't ask one to suffer such indignities). Then, because clearly the universe wanted to remind me that I am not so sane, the opening guitar riff of Oblivious began playing over the speakers. While this was not the first time I have heard that song in Trader Joe's, the timing was almost too perfect. Recognizing this for what it was, I swiftly recanted and admitted that, yes, I probably would risk frostbite to see Roddy Frame perform, that, yes, I would walk out to winter if I knew he would be there.

The universe works in mysterious ways.

Aztec Camera played in two stores within 30 minutes of one another! It's a Christmas miracle I tell you!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Unflattering Photograph

There is always a disconnect between the image one sees in a mirror and the image one has of one's self in one's head. This chasm grows wider when it involves recordings of one's self; just as a tape recording of one's voice always sounds off, a picture often feels like it presents a far shallower and less attractive shadow of one than the one we see in our mind's eye or even one's reflection. Of course, just as some days are better than others and some mirrors are kinder, just as we grow to know ourselves and how to manipulate our appearance to downplay what we consider to be our flaws, some pictures do not do us an injustice and we learn, over time, how to reduce the number of photos which do.

But sometimes, a bad one slips through the cracks.

In the old days (i.e. before digital photography and social media) you just and to live with the ugly picture and or destroy it before anyone saw it. Now, though, we have the power to take five hundred pictures of ourselves and only keep the one good one, which makes us feel like we should never have a bad picture of ourselves out in the universe. Except, of course, other people take pictures of us and distribute them, so instead of it being in a frame at one's parent's house which one can stand next to and prove that that is not really what one looks like, it is a picture on the internet seen by many people whose primary knowledge of one's appearance are photographs. That photo is up and seen and liked by so many people before one has even seen it one's self, at which point, it is too late to do anything about it. One has to live with it.

So this happened to me over the weekend.

I am totally aware that it is a first world problem and a fairly recent one at that when one considers all of human history. Sure, aristocrats and royals may well have gnashed their teeth when viewing bad paintings of themselves or felt betrayed by portraits which presented a potential wife in a way that was more flattering than real (at least, from their perspective). But, really, this is a ridiculous problem to have and it demonstrates the parameters of one's vanity in a way which is also less than flattering, not to mention generating a number of unanswerable questions.

What do I mean by an unflattering photograph? Is it a photograph which does not look like me or is it a photograph which does look like me, but seems to highlight all my flaws and does not depict any of my strengths? Did the person who posted this think this was a good picture of me? Is that what I look like to them? Or, maybe, they know it is a terrible picture of me and posted it to hurt me? Or maybe, which is the most likely, it was the best picture of the other people in the photo and they posted it because they never even looked at me in the photo--so, would I do the same to them if the tables were turned? Is it insulting to other people that I think this is a bad picture of me?

In the case of the photo (or photos, I should say, because the problem extended beyond just one) the problem is a convergence of the wrong bra with the wrong dress. In person, I think, the dress is quite nice, but in photos, it caught the light in such a way that all the extra fabric looked like it belonged to my body and my breasts looked enormous, so, as my mom pointed out, I look pregnant. Or like I weigh a good deal more than I do. Isn't immature of me to be complaining about my weight, or looking like I am overweight? Shouldn't I have moved on to worrying about wrinkles? Because, if I am completely honest about those pictures, even though my body looks pregnant my face looks great and at the age of 41 and 11 months I should be taking comfort in that. As Catherine Deneuve observed (well, this quote is credited to her and, also, Meryl Streep), "When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your ass for your face." So, yeah, at my age, shouldn't I accept I can't have everything?

Yes, but that isn't what I look like. I have a flat stomach. I do pilates three times a week and five days of cardio. I want documentary evidence of all my hard work. Except freaking out because I look like I weigh more than I do is kind of insulting to people who do weigh more than I do, isn't it? Why am I so vain? Why do I care if everyone on the internet thinks I have a large belly, whether I have one or not, is there something wrong with having a belly? Am I fat shaming others by being unhappy with my body's appearance in these pictures?


However, there is that desire we all have that a photograph of ourselves, while it may not depict the person we see in our mind's eye when we imagine ourselves, is true. When we see a picture of ourselves which causes the people one knows best to say "that doesn't look like you" it feels like a lie.   And while we should feel that way about all the pictures that lie, the ones which are photoshopped to make us look prettier as well as the ones which make us look uglier* the reality is we tend to only focus on the bad and overlook the good (*even when we understand that what we consider pretty and ugly are a result of our cultural conditioning). Or we tell ourselves the alterations which make us look better are merely shifting reality to conform with our inner version of ourselves, so it isn't a lie, it is showing what is really real, whereas the unfortunate accidents of lighting and timing are false visions, a bad dream. Because we are all vain creatures and we are all products of our culture.

A photo which makes us look taller than we are is a good thing because our society deems height to be a positive thing, a photograph which makes us look drunk is not so good because losing control is considered a bad thing. Isn't that is what this is really about, a loss of control? There are images of me out there which do not belong to me, which I cannot alter or eliminate. The only recourse I have is to untag myself, which doesn't make those pictures go away, it just makes it slightly harder for others to see and connect to me. But they still exist and they still are records of a period of my life. Whether they are accurate or not, to deny them is to deny a part of me, perhaps a part I would like to ignore. If I am going to do that, I may as well refuse to allow people to take pictures of me, ever, which is hardly an acceptable alternative. A friend of mine once told her mother-in-law, a woman who refused to have her photo taken because she hated how she looked in photos, "Someday, you will be dead and your grandchildren will want to know what you looked like. Sit down and smile for the camera." I don't want to be the person who never lets anyone take her picture and I don't want Julian to be telling everyone that he has so few pictures of me because I was paralyzed by my own vanity.

So I will leave the picture up and accept it for what it is, a moment in time. Of course it doesn't look like me because I am no insect trapped in amber, I live in four dimensions, how can any photograph truly do me justice? Yeah, it may be worth a thousand words, but you know me, a thousand is not nearly enough.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


This is an animation imagining the moon orbiting Earth at the distance of the International Space Station. I have the same reaction every time I watch it. If I had to script that reaction, including articulating all the inchoate emotions I can't really describe, but which arise every time, it would probably sounds something like this:
Oh that looks cool. Hey, it almost looks like the moon is transparent. Wow, it is just up there, looming, isn't it? Um, am I breathing? I'm not, am I? Yeah, I do not have a good feeling about this. Hey, wait, if it is that close, what happens when it blocks the sun? It would block out the sun, right? I wonder how they-OH MY GOD, THE SKY'S GONE OUT! Oh, wait, there is some light coming off the moon, it can't be sunlight...is it us? Oh that is interesting. Oh THANK GOD the sun has returned. I love you Sun, I will never talk smack about your sun cancer causing rays ever again! Never leave me!  Oh, look, the moon is gone. Good bye Moon!
While I am not proud of this reaction, I strongly suspect I am not alone in having it.

The moon should not be this close to us and, in reality, if  for some reason the moon did try to snuggle up to us, it would be ripped apart by tidal forces and while this may mean we'd suddenly get Saturnian rings around our equator, we would not be around to enjoy it as Earth would be turned into a volcanic wasteland, not to mention the moon does life on our planet an enormous solid by taking a lot of the asteroids that come our way so no moon=giant bullseye on our planet's bum. So, really, my reaction to the video is absolutely normal given how impossible it is. I should absolutely freak out when presented with slow moving animation of our collective deaths, right? Why don't we just go visit a black hole while we're at it?

It can't just be impending doom and the fact that it cannot be which causes me to feel so much dread when imagining a looming moon. I mean, there are a lot of things which are totally wrong which don't make me want to throw up. Why should this make me want to hide under the covers until it goes away?

I think it is the silence.

The sky makes no noise, the addition of a soundtrack is the addition of one more thing which ought not be. However, music adds that little sensory oomph and pushes this out of the uncanny valley and into pure fantasy, turning something unnatural into something beautiful. "There is music," thinks my lizard brain, "it is not real. I can sit back and enjoy it. Pretty."

I am glad we cleared that up. Now I can go back to being angry with the sun for being so very bright, but not sharing enough of its heat with us in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year, by making me wear SPF underneath all the layers.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Is This Thing On?

So you probably have noticed that I am a good deal less active 'round these parts than I once was. I have reasons for this:

1) I am trying to write a novel. Fiction writing does not come easy, at least not for me; the ideas are in my head, but, for some reason, translating them onto the page is very, very hard and seems to require a different set of skills than the nonfiction essay writing I do here. It feels like this thing I want to do requires a whole set of skills that are adjacent to, but different from, the skills I already have, so I need to spend my limited time and energy working on the fiction writing.

2) I ran out of things to say and it felt too hard. There was a time when I could easily whip out a few words on a topic which caught my fancy in what seemed like minutes. But as time passed, it just seemed like I had less and less to say. World events and scientific discoveries did not provide the same inspiration they once did and it felt like I had nothing left to say. Besides

3) Facebook serves a similar function while requiring less work than a blog. I can just post a link to an article and one quick sentence in between playing Words With Friends and commenting on someone's cute picture of their kids. Oh, and people will actually see it, which brings me to

4) No one reads this anymore. I always used to joke about only having three readers (my mom, Tracy, and Fred). And then Fred stopped reading. He will probably be sad that I said that publicly, will think I am criticizing him for not being more supportive, which is so not my intention. I am just saying that one starts to wonder if there is a point to writing when one can't even get one's husband to read one's work. I mean, I have already given up on most of the people who claim to be my friends reading this, but really, if this can't even hold Fred's interest, that is probably a sign that it is time to pack it in, right? It isn't just Fred, by the way. I am fairly sure my mom and Tracy have given up as well.

5) Isn't a blog, like, the most self-centered, arrogant thing in the world? Who cares? I need to spend less time gazing at my own navel, not more time, and I certainly need to get over the notion that anyone else is interested in the lint I may find therein.

All very good, solid reasons, I think. They sound very reasonable, right?

However, if I am being completely honest, the big reason, the reason which can serve as the umbrella under which all the other reasons can huddle under to stay dry, is that my life changed and my needs changed and I fell out of the habit of writing here and lost my nerve.

Julian was a baby when I started this blog. I needed an outlet to the outside world and I needed to put stuff I wrote out for public consumption, I didn't have a lot of time to work on long form pieces and I didn't feel comfortable asking people in real life to read my work, so a blog was a perfect fit. I soon realized I didn't have it in me to create a readership and, as I indicated in my list of reasons, most of the people I know are unreliable and unsupportive, but I told myself it was okay that no one read it because I wasn't doing it for them, I was doing it for me. But something happened in my head. Because I wrote this during the free time I squeezed out of other areas of life (while Julian was napping or before I went to bed) and because it often felt like it came easily, I didn't consider it to be valuable. It's just a blog, no big deal, really, everyone has one, right? I ignored the work I put into it and told myself it didn't matter. I mean, I knew, objectively, that some of the pieces were good, but really, it wasn't as if it was important or anything. So as Julian grew older and I started to have more and more time I could depend upon, I began to think I needed to spend my time doing something IMPORTANT, something people would want to read. 

I stopped writing as much here because I was going to spend my time creating something of value. Except most of the time, I wasn't and that lack of production on my part was making me angry and depressed. What the hell was wrong with me? All writing, not just fiction writing, became too hard so instead of writing better stuff, I stopped writing anything at all. I would try, but with the exception of some fits and starts-a thousand words here, a thousand words there-I haven't really written anything in months. Oh, I am still working on the story in my head all the time, but I have nothing to show for all that work outside the parameters of my skull.

Which is where I was yesterday.

It started out like most days. I went to Pilates, then I showered, then I stared at the computer screen and felt like a failure, then I let the internet do what the internet does best (i.e. distract me from my own despair, but also prevent me from overcoming said despair) and started reading articles. 

I started with reviews of Roddy Frame's Sunday night show (argh! I am so filled with envy for all who were there) and stumbled upon this essay about discovering Aztec Camera as a young teen and how that shapes one's life
I also took the three year gap between Knife and Love much as you might take the extended silence from a girlfriend who moves out of town and ignores all your attempts to contact her. After a while, you get the message and move on. Hence, in 1987, when Love appeared and Somewhere In My Heart took up residency in the top three, I felt happy for Roddy, but also embarrassed. I’d just turned 18. I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the 14 year-old who had written all those letters, lovingly bordered with hand-drawn facsimiles of the mountain and flower motifs that had adorned early Aztec Camera sleeves.
and I felt I could have written something quite similar myself. I mean, I am a bit younger than the writer, but I remember that sense of embarrassment over a musician one once loved, especially as one enters the age of irony and snark and the music is all hope and earnest honesty. When I was thirteen, instead of writing fan mail to Roddy Frame, I wrote poetry, all of which I am pretty sure I threw away. I am pretty sure my bitchy roommates Freshman year would have eaten me alive if I admitted to liking such "uncool" music (oh, wait, they practically did anyway).

Later, I was scanning Facebook, and found this post over on Rookie
One way to avoid killing your heart is to decide that you will spend your whole life growing up. I am not saying you should aspire to the maturity level of the characters in Hot Tub Time Machine; I am suggesting we resist a life that looks, in line-graph form, like it goes up and up and up and then it stops, and then it levels out, and then it stays on that flat plane until death. I hope to live a life that goes up and up and up until the end, with the inevitable dip here and there. I hope to continue to learn and change.
The whole piece is so amazing and makes me happy, but also a bit sad that I was not so wise at seventeen. Or maybe I was. As I said, I threw away a lot of what I wrote back then because I thought it was too naive and naff. But, more importantly, this piece reminded that a well crafted non-fiction essay can be every bit as important as a work of fiction.

Then, after dinner and bedtime, I was reading a not very good blog ranking the worst Christmas songs ever and found myself thinking "I wrote about that song" and "Oh, I wrote about that song, too" and with the intention of posting links to all those old essays of mine, I came over here and read them and then started reading other essays and, well, I was really impressed by how good they were. Sure, not all of them are great and there are some typos and grammatical errors which I have failed to fix despite having many opportunities to do so, but overall I am surprised. I know that sounds conceited, except, as often happens when encountering something I wrote long ago, it didn't actually feel like mine anymore, it felt like I was reading someone else's work.

I went to bed determined to make a change.

Which brings me to today.

I don't really know what I plan to do with this, but I am resolved to do things differently. Maybe I will start posting more of the poetry and songs I write. Maybe I will post bits of the fiction that is already written and see what you all think (yes, I am going to back to pretending I have an enormous readership who just are too shy to leave comments). Maybe I will just keep writing about music since I never stop having stuff to say on the topic. As I said, I don't know, but then, that is part of what makes this so scary and exciting.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

"She started shaking to that fine, fine music, you know her her life was saved by rock & roll."-Lou Reed

I could write a hundred or a thousand words and none of them would adequately express my feelings about the death of Lou Reed or do justice to the role his music has played, for the world at large and for me personally. It is not an exaggeration to say that he saved a lot of lives through the sounds he helped create.

And it was all right.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Looking For Outrage

So in reading stories about the murder of Christopher Lane, I have stumbled upon comments along the lines of "Where is Obama now? Hah! Reverse Racism!" And while I would ordinarily write this off as typical internet trolling, I encountered something of the sort on my Facebook news feed--yes, it was a bit more nuanced, asking instead why there was no outrage for this murder and suggesting that race played a role in the murder. Except they linked to an article which never mentioned race, though pictures of the perpetrators and the victim were displayed. And because it is someone I know and love asking these questions, I can't just ignore them.

"Where is the outrage for Christopher Lane?"

Well after he was found shot, law enforcement made an effort to track down his killers AND FOUND THEM, arrested them, and will be charging them with murder and this was all done BEFORE the national media picked up the story. So, to sum up, if you feel there has not been enough public outrage expressed for this murder (which was not the only murder to happen last Friday, or in the days since), perhaps it is because the criminal justice system seems to be doing its job in this case so there is no need for public outrage. However, I would completely disagree that there is no public outrage. This story about a murder that occurred in some small town in Oklahoma has been distributed nationally, partially because Christopher Lane was an attractive baseball player and a foreign national, but mainly because of the heinous details of the crime. A lot of other people have been murdered since Friday and I haven't seen any articles about them. Obviously this is not the same as people staging protests or politicians speaking out about the case, but then, the specifics of this crime and the response by law enforcement do not seem to warrant such actions.

"So, where are those who marched for Trayvon?"

The only comparison that one can make between Trayvon Martin and Christopher Lane is that they were both young athletes who were gunned down on the streets of a town which was not their own. But if you want to suggest that this is an apples to apples comparison and there is some great lesson to be learned about racism in America, try this on for size: Christopher Lane's murderers will likely go to prison, Trayvon Martin's did not.

"Where's all the FB chit chat?"

Ask and ye shall receive.

But since we are asking questions, I want to know where the outrage is for Kelly Coca, Carla Eguez, Carlton Brown, Kyle Hogan, Antoine Green, and all the other people profiled here?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This Is Not America

Remember watching Eyes on the Prize a quarter of a century ago and thinking that something like the murder of Emmett Till couldn't happen anymore?

How naive I was. My eyes have been opened over the years, yet I still feel blindsided.

This is not the America I was raised to believe in and, yes, a country is like a deity in that its continued existence depends upon our faith in it. The America in which I believe does not value the rights of people to own guns over the rights of children to grow up. The America in which I believe does not allow grown men to murder unarmed children. The America in which I believe does not value the lives of some mother's sons over other mother's sons. The America in which I believe is a fairy tale that never existed, but I have to keep believing that it can exist and fighting for it.

But on nights like tonight it is hard. This is not the miracle.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


When I was a child, we had gerbils for a brief period--it may have been a couple of months, it may have even been a couple of years, it's all a blur. They had babies at some point and then, the babies were dead and partially eaten. Then I think one of them died. I can't really remember what happened to them after that, actually. I was never really fond of the gerbils. I liked the idea of them (they were cute), but the reality of them (rodents) made me uncomfortable and the cognitive dissonance this caused my young mind was even greater than the cognitive dissonance caused by the idea of parents eating their babies. I must admit, as an adult, I find the idea of rats more squirm inducing than the knowledge that filial cannibalism is practiced by a wide variety of species.

I showed the above video to Julian and explained this is why we will never get hamsters. He doesn't believe the video.

"We had a hamster in 3-6 and she had a baby, she had five babies, and she didn't eat any of them. And then the next week she had five more and she didn't eat them. So, HA!, she is a liar."

However, there are the cats to consider and while Julian may not believe that hamsters eat their young, he completely understands that cats eat hamsters. Elaborate plans involving hanging cages and ladders have been proposed, but then he agrees the cats will likely outwit him and the hamsters would not survive.

Poor little hamsters.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Internet: A Warning From History

"I lost eleven years of my life to the internet, looking at pictures of cats."

Remember that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Will Riker turns everyone on to this game he was introduced to on Risa and no one can stop playing it and it turns out the game is part of an alien race's secret plot to take over the Enterprise? I have often wondered how much of our world's current fascination with the world wide web is a case of life imitating art--sure, we all think the internet is safe, but often, doesn't it feel like just a giant TIME SUCK? And it is all well and good to say "step away and read a good book," but three hours later, you are still staring at the screen, reading about the Kurgan Hypothesis (which you stumbled upon eventually after hours of clicking through various articles which originated with the one I linked to at the beginning of this paragraph). The aliens won't even need to park their spaceships over our cities at this rate. Menacing is so last century, don't you think?

Also, I love the meta ending.

Sweet Caroline

I once knew a guy who said that there were two types of people in the world: people who loved Neil Diamond and people who just didn't know enough about Neil Diamond.

According to the Red Sox radio announcers, Neil Diamond showed up at Fenway Park yesterday and asked if he could lead the crown in a sing along. If I didn't already fall in the category of people who love Neil Diamond (in both a serious and an ironic way, there are many layers to my love), this would do it.

I'll admit, I was bit stunned that with the gray hair and beard no longer looks anything like Count Von Count (not that he ever really did anywhere outside of my head--Neil Diamond does not have purple skin, and I don't think I have ever seen him in evening wear as he is on record as being forever in blue jeans).

There Is Power In A Union- Take 2

Second semester of freshman year, I took a history class called Culture and Society in Twentieth Century America. It was taught by a professor who did not receive tenure at my school, so as it turned out, I was lucky to take the class not only because I was a freshman taking an upper level history course, but because he left after that semester to teach at a school which did offer him tenure (alas, the cruelty of academia). But really, I was lucky because it was an amazing class which continues to influence how I understand the world. Had this professor stayed at Reed, I am fairly sure I would have ditched my interest in Japanese history and written a thesis in American studies. Maybe (remember, it was my interest in Japanese theatre which led me to Japanese history. It is possible my trajectory would have remained the same. Or maybe I would have stayed in theatre).

At one point in the class, he asked us how many of us had a parent a trade union. I only remember two people (in a class of 30) raising their hands and one of them was an exchange student from England. It was a powerful illustration of not only who ends up at expensive private schools in America, but the state of unions at the end of the last century. And it feels like things have only gotten worse since then.

I mention this because it is something I think about in relation to Julian. Despite being a child of the "professional class", despite his privilege, he will be able to raise his hand and say, "yes, my mom is a proud union member." He also will be able to say that his first concert was Billy Bragg when he was seven (though he grumbled and slept through it).

So, yeah, I was really excited that Billy Bragg signed my union card!

This post is over a week old, but I failed to post it until now. Oops.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Life Imitates a Jane Smiley Novel

Officer Corral Loose Pig in Greensboro

"Neither the animal control officers nor a Greensboro police officer who also responded knew where the pig came from"

People, if there is one thing that literature has taught us it is that the hog which appears suddenly on your lawn is probably the escaped test subject from a secret project conducted by a rogue professor at the local university.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Good Bye Green Honda

For nearly 18 years, this is what I saw in the morning.

At least, it is what I saw on the mornings when I drove.

For years, people asked when I planned to get a new car. "Never," I would tell them. "This car will be pried from my cold dead hands," I would say, and then, reconsidering what I was implying, "I mean, I expect it to die in the garage, peacefully, in its sleep." Of course, I said that when it was in great condition, when the people doing the asking were the guys at the Honda dealership, begging me to sell it to them. I ignored the scrapes and scratches, the dents and rust, because it still looked super luxe after a car wash in spite of it all, at least it did to me. However, over the course of the past year, all the previous years seemed to make themselves known. The mechanics at the dealership were no longer asking for right of first refusal, they were asking how much money I realistically wanted to put into the car for "unnecessary" repairs. 

We hadn't expected it to happen so quickly. We just thought we were going to test drive some cars and look at a used car that was crazy low priced, but we never planned to part with our car there and then. I told people that there was no way we were buying a car on Saturday and they smirked at my naivete. We had never been in a car dealership before and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

So, as it turns out, we gave up the car before it gave up on us. Put that way, I feel incredibly disloyal. However, it was a decision had to make, if not on Saturday then someday, and it was good to let it go while it still had some life left in it. We hope it will make someone else extremely happy. 

Friday, April 05, 2013


I once told a friend of a friend that just as I liked New Order more than Joy Division, I like the Foo Fighters more than Nirvana. It isn't true, of course, but I said it because the guy was tedious and I wanted to say something terribly outre which would make him go talk to someone else. It is amusing that that was what I came up with as it didn't succeed in getting the guy to go away, it just made him more condescending and pretentious. I really should have gone for broke and said I preferred Wings to The Beatles, but I didn't think of it and, besides, I am not sure I could have pulled that off as there are limits to my acting abilities. Had I been more interested in conversation, I probably would have said what I really feel, which is that while comparisons are understandable, it seems not only unfair, but somewhat dishonest, to place these bands next to one another. It seems like something we do to elevate one person's genius at the expense of another and, often, there is the unspoken critique of the later band for "selling out." As if the original band, or at least the genius of the band, was completely uninterested in success, that they lived for their art alone and their subsequent deaths are proof that they were too good for this world. It denies the reality that a rock band, when it works, is more than the sum of its parts and a reflection of its time and place. It denies the role serendipity plays when a piece of at, be it a song or a ballet or a film, becomes the agent of cultural change. Worst of all, it denies the notion that the other members of a band may want to have an artistic life beyond that one moment, suggesting that after the original group disbands they should never have the audacity to create more art (so if they do, it is by default, less good).

Having said all that, I don't really care for most of the songs by the Foo Fighters that I have heard. I mean, they aren't bad, but they don't hit me in my solar plexus and make me briefly forget to breathe.

Except this one.

This song, for me, captures that jumping off a cliff and not caring how hard the ground will smack you abandon that one feels when they are in the early stages of a relationship, when infatuation and lust are at their peak and everything that other person says or does is a revelation, when you would swear your heartbeat is in sync with that one other person's. "Breathe out so I can breath you in"has to be one of the most achingly true romantic lines ever to appear in a post-punk song. It was the hook which drew me in as it perfectly captures that moment when you are so close you inhale the exhalations of another and realize how singular and individual the interior of one's lungs is.

Which is also kindof exactly the way it feels in an artistic collaboration when everything clicks into place. 

So when I read that every human has a "breathprint" I immediately thought of this song. In particular, the fact though the exact composition of a person's breath changes day to day, "these variations were still well within each person's very distinct "core" breathprint."

Don't you love it when science confirms what our hearts and our art have been saying all along?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

RIP Roger Ebert

"I know death is coming and I do not fear it. I was perfectly content before I was born and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting."-Roger Ebert

"Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you."-Roger Ebert

"You can only find out about yourself by learning about others."-Roger Ebert

"'Kindness' covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." -Roger Ebert

I had expected to write something else today, but in light of the news that the world has lost one of its great critics, there are no words. There are some people who you just assume will always be part of the landscape, will always be around to weigh in, will always be there to teach by example, about writing, about life, about grace, and when they leave this earth, one is unprepared for the void that is left.

He loved art. He loved ideas. He loved language. He was a passionate fan and a discerning viewer. He demonstrated the important role the critic plays in the creation of art (because if a tree falls in a forest, it isn't enough that people hear it, someone has to be there to comment on the quality of the sound it makes).

His leave of presence is now a permanent leave of absence. Though we have still all his reviews and writings, the world of thought and words is poorer.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Are we teaching them that rape is wrong?

Are we teaching them someone who is unconscious is not capable of consent, regardless of whether is is because they have been drugged, drank to much, or just happen to be asleep, and it is wrong to rape them?

Are we teaching them that there is no implied consent in the clothes a person wears and that it is wrong to rape someone because of one's raiment?

Are we teaching them that there is no implied consent in where a person chooses to be and it is wrong to rape someone because that person happens to be out late at night, walking in a certain neighborhood, protesting their government, or serving their country?

Are we teaching them that there is no implied consent if someone accepts a drink, a meal, a ride home, help with homework, or any number of other overtures one may make toward someone and it is wrong to rape a person who has accepted one's aid?

Are we teaching them that people can change their minds and that just because a person has consented does not mean consent cannot be revoked?

Are we teaching them not only that "NO" means "NO", but also that they need to wait for a clear "Yes" before proceeding?

Are we teaching them that rape is wrong?

We live in a culture that apologizes for rapists, especially if the rapists are good athletes or are smart or are attractive or come from wealthy families or find themselves privileged in any number of other ways. When discussing punishing rapists, people invariably will often suggest the accuser is lying in order to "ruin the life" of the rapist- despite the fact that most rapes go unreported and shockingly few rapists are  convicted, many people believe that rapists are wrongfully accused or, when faced with overwhelming evidence that the rape occurred, that the victim "was asking for it." Someone steals your wallet, no one asks you to defend your having the wallet with you in a neighborhood while wearing expensive clothes  or suggest that, really, you actually gave your wallet away and have just changed your mind about it, but if someone steals sex from you, well, clearly you must have brought that crime upon yourself.

You may have noticed that I have not mentioned gender, either of the children who need to be taught all of the above or the people who should not be raped. Part of the reason I did this is because I feel that when we make genderized assumptions, say that the rapists are men and the rape survivors are women, men may check out and assume this isn't about them, that they have nothing to learn from this and women, well, women may go through their checklist of "how not to get raped" and, possibly, suggest that any woman who strays from said checklist brought the crime, in some way, upon herself. Rapists think they are good people (and oftentimes do not consider their actions rape). We live in a society which reflexively blames victims and many of us do so, in part, as a coping mechanism (i.e. "the victim did something wrong, but it cannot happen to me because I do everything right!")

However, another reason I did not mention gender is because women can commit rape and men can be raped. To make genderized assumptions about who rapes and who is raped let's both men and women off the hook-men often don't take the crime of rape as seriously as they should and women are not held accountable for their predatory actions.


A friend of mine once told me a story about a series of rapes which took place in the city where he used to live, how at first the news just reported about how people were picked up off the street and thrown into a van where they were raped for a few hours and then let go. My friend said that later news reports revealed that the rapists were kidnapping and raping men and women and, suddenly, shit got real. Suddenly, my friend felt visceral fear, this was no longer just a terrible crime that was occurring on the streets, and he understood a bit of what women experience every day out in the world.

Another friend of mine told me a story about how his girlfriend would force him to have sex when he did not want to and how humiliating it was, in part because he felt his body had betrayed him through producing an erection despite himself.  My friend didn't consider what happened to him rape, and for that matter, many women I have met over the years have not considered the times they were forced into having non-consensual sex to have been rape either.


When I read about Steubenville, I'll admit, I am more horrified by the people who stood around and did nothing while a drugged girl was assaulted in front of them. And I reflect on how lucky I have been.

When I was twenty-three years old I went to a party at my acting teacher's house. Before the party, I met up with a friend of mine for Thai food and I drove us to the party. I think I had two glasses of white wine before switching to water. At some point, I went into the bathroom and stayed there until my friend and my acting teacher's husband managed to get me home. I remember my acting teacher screaming to get me out of her house because she wanted to go to sleep. The next day, I was hungover and my friend told me that she had her husband pick her up at my house after she drove my car and me there. She mentioned our acting teacher's husband was a saint and she was surprised how unsympathetic and unkind our acting teacher had been. I thanked her profusely, apologizing for what I perceived to be my stupidity, and she said that it happens to everyone and that she has been the recipient of such kindness in the past, so she knows how important it is to take care of a friend in need. I have looked back on that night for the past sixteen years with shame. Getting so drunk at what was a professional event was beyond stupid and what the hell is wrong with me that I got so drunk on two glasses of wine? My friend suggested I must have gotten food poisoning from the food, but since she did not, that has never seemed to be an adequate explanation. I also believed that I was allergic to Chardonnay, though there is very little to explain why I have been able to drink other white wine over the years without ill effects. Maybe I was really a lightweight back then? Yeah, maybe. As I said, that night has stuck with me in a way that few other evenings of debauchery from my past have, but it was only recently, when reading about the effects of date rape drugs in relation to the Steubenville rape, that I started to wonder if maybe I had been drugged that night. It doesn't really make sense that I would be, I mean, it wasn't like anyone was chatting me up (as far as I recall) and most of the people at the party were friend from acting class, why would they do that to me? Besides, aside from the embarrassment and, potential lack of opportunities being hated by our acting teacher may have caused, nothing terrible happened to me, so does it even matter if I had been drugged? I think about how I would have reacted if I had woken up in someone's bed-I probably would have assumed I had agreed and while I would have felt disgusted with myself (I was dating Fred at the time, why would I have slept with someone else?) and angry and ashamed, while I probably would have avoided that person forever after, I would not have considered myself a victim of rape. Given how little I was able to piece together of the night before, however, I am not really sure I would have been in a condition to give consent, so it would have been rape even if I didn't consider it such. Lucky for me, I had a friend who was looking out for me who made sure I made it home, I do not need to dwell on the what might-have-beens, and for that I will be eternally grateful. It sucks that the victim in Steubenville didn't have a friend at that party, even though she probably thought she could trust everyone in that room, they were her friends, who would do that to her?


We need to teach our children what rape is because too many people just don't know.

We need to teach our children that no one "deserves" to be raped.

We need to teach people to respect others.

We need to teach our children to be heroes, to have courage, and to stand up for people in need.

We need to teach our children that rape is wrong.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Death Star Trutherism

As has been previously noted, from the perspective of the Empire, the Rebel Alliance were terrorists responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people. One really needs to consider how the events depicted in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope must seem--sure, we have been encouraged to view it as a classic hero's journey, a convergence of unlikely events resulting in the million-to-one shot being made by Chosen One with supernatural abilities, but how would it look to someone who was not invested in believing such a fairy tale? In light of the fact that the destruction of the Death Star depended upon a number of coincidences, and when we factor in the circumstances surrounding the Emperor's demise, why should they believe George Lucas' version of events?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

This makes me happy on so many levels.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Superb Owl Sunday

Reedies may not know much about sports, but we know all about superb owls!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Starting the New Year Off Right

I feel like 2013 is gonna be like that Jean Nate commercial. After separating out all the specialized pieces and then color coordinating all the Legos, I find myself wondering what can't I do? 

Happy New Year!