Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Is there a point to this?

I know I haven't gotten around to criticizing any celebrities yet. This just feels like the appropriate order for getting things out logically. Today's post includes someone else criticizing a celebrity, if that counts. There was more to it than that.

Specifically, one of my Twitter mutuals was questioning the credibility of Rebel Wilson coming forward with her own #metoo story.

Knowing when the story broke allows me to know about the time when it happened. I know that I had written about it in my journal then, but those pages remain entombed on the dead hard drive. Some details are foggy.

I remember clearly that the gist of his comment was that no one would want her enough to harass her in any way, and she was only saying it to help her career. I also can see from my blog that I had just been writing about sexual harassment and assault, so that was all pretty fresh.

I also know that I have shared a few of my own experiences on this blog, and while I may write about the topic without mentioning specific circumstances, being on the topic reminds me of them.  Feelings were pretty fresh, is what I'm trying to say.

I don't remember whether he specifically used the word fat against her, but it was implied if not stated. As a fat woman, I know pretty well that this is not a shield against harassment or assault. That is what I replied to him, pretty much.

Now that is personal, and although he does pride himself on not being politically correct and not caring how easily people are offended, he was not a big enough jerk to not feel some shame at that.

There was a certain amount of backpedaling. I engaged on the points that it can and does happen to anyone, and also that while it tends not to help careers anyway, she has been working pretty steadily and doesn't really need that. He did take some time to scoff at the quality of the film roles she was getting, but kind of moved to saying it probably didn't happen, but she was still just using it for her career. It was kind of an improvement, but not great.

One reason I remember it so clearly is because I another conversation very close to it, where it was a different topic but a similar situation. A Facebook friend said something that was kind of nasty, but also wrong, I countered with facts, and after some going back and forth they were replying that they were not saying the thing that I could look up higher in the thread and see that they had clearly said.

One thing that could have been helpful with the first one would have been addressing it on the grounds of her experience. The main one as described in the linked article... okay, it is sexual in nature, but it's gross and humiliating (including the part about having friends film it), and this is not a compliment. That she was then admonished to be supportive of the actor is not just the icing on the cake, but a pretty clear demonstration of how Hollywood works, and what reinforces it as workplace harassment.

This post is not really about Rebel Wilson's experiences, though I support her. It is more about what we think and say.

My friend criticized Wilson for stupid movies that he didn't like and the roles she plays in them, which sounds fine. However, I have read that she tries to take more serious or at least less outrageous roles, and she gets typecast. There is a perception of what a fat woman should be, and it's hard to break out. If that correlates with society looking down on certain body sizes, and where it feels right to dislike a fat woman, or a woman, or a Black person, are you sure that it's just how you feel about their acting? Could there be more there?

Because I can't help but notice that when we are against political correctness and believe in telling it like it is, that seems to excuse a lot of racism and sexism. If that is not how it really is, does that make it harder for you to see what really is? Does it make it easier for you to hold things against specific groups, and feel justified in it?

For example, I have been writing about privilege this week, and how it benefits white males. Maybe that felt uncomfortable, but they caught the Austin bomber and he is being described as shy and nerdy and godly and not a terrorist, but he killed and injured and terrorized people and it looked pretty racist. Isn't it kind of weird to focus on making him sympathetic?

Finally - and here's where we get the title - did those engagements help at all?

I do not think that either person felt like they were lying when they backtracked and said they weren't saying that. I suppose it indicates a possibly subconscious acknowledgment that they were being wrong, but will they think differently the next time? I didn't call them on it, and calling them on it would have felt really rude. Maybe it's more that it would feel like piling on because I had already called them on the first thing. Did it help?

I know it was super frustrating for me? The personal response is probably "Would it kill you to admit that I have a point?" I don't mind putting aside the ego for the greater good (as a fat woman I'm not really supposed to have any dignity anyway), but did it help? Could I have been more effective? And I don't know.

But I kind of think this. I had thought so much about the harassment and how it works and whom it affects - and blogged out my thoughts so redundantly (probably) - that I knew immediately that he was wrong, and why he was wrong. Whatever the other interaction was, it was probably the same thing.

So I guess I will keep up with the reading a lot and repetitive blogging. At least that's right in my wheelhouse.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Clearing our vision

Yesterday I neglected to mention that neither white nor male privilege make your lives perfect or even easy.

I suppose I think it should be pretty obvious, but it is often used as an argument that privilege doesn't exist: I am still poor, or picked on, or downtrodden.

That should be an excellent reason to think about whether our society and government is really set up ideally. Even though it is easier for a white man to get hired than a Black man with a college degree, and he will get more pay, and the only thing that makes him less acceptable is a criminal conviction, but crimes are pursued at unequal rates among different races, and that even legal things like open carry are treated differently depending on your race, this will not automatically make your life good; it just takes away some of the obstacles.

That a man is more likely to have his ideas taken seriously than a woman, and that he will get paid more and promoted more, and that if a woman tries to emulate his behavior in asking for parity she will be looked down on as pushy, and that the industries that recruit women tend to do it so they can pay less (like education), and that if a man rapes a woman that not only will she have to deal with that trauma but it will be compounded by people wondering what she did to deserve it, that doesn't put the fix in for all men either.

White women are hired and listened to and paid better than women of color, and it tends to let them be them stunningly unaware of the worse things that happen to women with darker skin, and often super obnoxious about it.

Apparently the natural instinct is to only care about the injustices perpetrated on you, and sometimes to care about additional issues when awareness is raised, but still, a lot of the attempts to raise awareness just bounce off. That could be convenient, because when you do take it all in it can be really overwhelming, but it maintains the status quo in a way that ensures an endless supply of pain, some of which is bound to get on you.

So, if you do - by virtue of your color and gender - occupy a somewhat higher rank, and know that you still have many difficulties, there is that previously mentioned opportunity to really think about it and empathize and possibly consider course corrections that you can support via volunteering and voting and maybe even running for office.

Oddly, what usually happens is a high sensitivity to criticism that gets perceived as persecution even though it really isn't.

Therefore we have people complaining about witch hunts and the stifling of creativity and the women just doing it for fame, even though none of that holds up logically.

Harvey Weinstein might get charged, but it hasn't happened yet. Kevin Spacey lost one season of a show, but he took down every other person who could have had that season with him. Adam Venit, Terry Crews' assailant, no only definitely isn't getting charged, but his suspension was rescinded. William Morris is still making money off their former client Crews, and Crews is the one who is going to have to have his mental state evaluated, even though no one seems to dispute that the incident happened.

(Reminder there that male privilege does not rule out sexual abuse or harassment, in the cases of both Venit and Spacey. That being said, intersectionality could make some good points about vulnerability based on age, color, sexual orientation, and organizational power.)

Some careers are changing, but generally for people who already had quite a bit of prestige and wealth. Otherwise, the main impact for most of the men is that some people (and not even everyone, because there are a lot of people who refuse to believe women) think less of these other people who are used to having respect.

That's a long way from Salem or HUAC.

On the other side, how many women are benefiting from this? Rose McGowan is getting a docu-series, and that seems to be it. The interesting thing about that, if we are looking at rewarding abuse, is that she has kind of been the worst throughout this, being highly critical of how others have handled their own situations and possibly contributing to her ex-manager's suicide.

Otherwise, for all the stories that have been told about abuse, how many names do you know? Which ones are more famous and richer now? Also, we may not know them, but when people are spouting off about it being their fault for not coming forward sooner, or for coming forward at all, or for being stupid enough to go places and talk to people, do you think they don't feel that? Do you think the women who haven't come forward yet don't hear that?

Especially after hearing some talk radio, and through various encounters with other people, I feel that we are becoming a very reactionary society, where we have quick emotional response to things that we don't think through.

I promise you that nothing good will come out of that. So let's change it.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Reversing the trend

Sometimes I have a hard time not jumping on current events when I had plans for writing on existing things, but I am just going to mention Andrew McCabe, because there is a good transition in there for getting back to #metoo.

Obviously the firing is petty and spiteful, and I have a lot of thoughts on that because of other things. Obviously, no matter how many times Trump says there is no evidence of collusion, it is no more honest than anything else he says. Also, because of the connections to Comey, and remembering the role he has played, there are some good lessons in here that the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. Those are all good things to remember, and I don't know if it would even be worth that much going over, except that I have seen some very enthusiastic retweets of a gofundme for McCabe.

It turns out there are dozens:

I think the article is helpful anyway because it explains the ramifications a bit more. If you were thinking that it would be weird for a lack of two days to completely wipe out a pension, for example, you would be right, though there are still ramifications that have an impact.

I'm not against McCabe getting his pension. Some of the offers mentioned of giving him a couple of days work for special assignments seem very appropriate. However, this bandwagon of GoFundMe campaigns to try and make it up for him - without him requesting it, and without knowing what the impact is, but such a hurry to rescue - has an interesting aspect. There is such a hurry to side with the white guy in a suit.

What about all the Parks department people to lose jobs, and EPA people and state department people? What about the families separated by ICE? What about the people losing job protections? I mean, I know it's a long list, and if you start trying to help everyone damaged by Trump that would be a long and discouraging task, but GoFundMe's for a guy who has been working steadily and now has name recognition is not the greatest need.

I am thinking of this in relation to a few other things.

One is the well-documented income and wealth gaps that we have with gender and race. Yes, a lot of people will try to explain it as women making different choices that hold them back, or harmful social environments, but all of the corrections for the data still show white men prevailing, and at some point we should be wondering why that is, and if it might not be a firmly cemented structure in place that favors them, which could include deeply rooted desires to help white men and make things right for them in case something does go wrong for them. If it were Ben Carson, for example, would there be so much concern for his pension? I'm not even saying that people would think he deserved it, but would they feel that need to rush to the rescue?

I also see that there is a new documentary coming out on the Rajneeshees. I don't remember a lot about them, but their leader was definitely the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Why, then, was the song "Shut Up Sheela" - against his personal assistant - instead of "Shut Up Sheela"? I'm not saying she was a good person, but when the song came out a lot of things weren't known yet. She was number two, but not number one. Is it easier to direct anger against a woman?

I can imagine an immediate response of "no", and there is always justification for why you don't like someone or they bother you more, but if you don't examine that you might be subject to baser cultural scripts that you don't even recognize and that are not good for yourself or those around you.

So, two more things, back from when #metoo was just getting going. The Golden Globes needed a host who wouldn't embarrass them by making sexist jokes or harassing any of the presenters and they went with Seth Meyers, who did fine by all accounts, but they never appeared to consider hiring a woman. Around that same time someone (I can't find it now) tweeted that clearly men couldn't be trusted to govern, so the only answer was robots. As opposed to women.

Society is constantly reinforcing messages that do not tend to be about equality and respect. We are not going to change that accidentally and unconsciously. It may very well be upsetting to talk about it, especially to discover your own complicity, but it's the price of improvement. There's just no way around that.

Sometimes there may be things we can do to alleviate that. I may do that by having several posts criticizing various celebrities.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Album Review: 41 by Reggie and the Full Effect

41 is really good, and I don't know if I have anything interesting to say about it.

One of the themes in yesterday's review was maturity, and that kind of fits in here too.

That may seem wrong, because everyone knows that Reggie and the Full Effect is supposed to be silly. There is a song named after a dog. (Okay, if you're an animal person, that doesn't seem that silly.) Many of the titles don't seem that serious, though the song content can be.

Mainly, though, if I mention maturity it's continuously hearing James Dewees grow as a musician when he has been really good at this for a long time. I know I have said that before, especially in regard to comparing "My Dad - Happy Chickens" to "Fowlin Around". That came from looking at similar themes in subject matter. This time it was more hearing musical passages that reminded me of earlier songs, and their growth and refinement.

I did go over the entire previous Reggie catalog in preparation. (I considered listening to 21 by Adele too, in case it influenced more than the photo shoot, but I just couldn't do it.) That was good in itself, but I also picked up some things.

Last Stop: Crappy Town was previously my least favorite album, because of its harshness. It is more abrasive than the other albums, but it has more nuance than I had picked up on before. I'm glad I took another look. Also, as aggressive as Common Denominator's Klaus comes off, he is unfailingly polite.

Also, sometimes starting off not so serious can free you for something very real.

I remember first noticing that for the "Get Well Soon" video. It would be very uncomfortable to watch a human be that devastated, and it would be hard for an actor to pull off. Because it's the Loch Ness Monster, the emotional collapse is more accessible to the audience than it would be otherwise.

So on "The Horrible Year", when it ends with a scream, it works. There is pain and frustration and too much hitting at once, and the audience gets it. For a band that was supposed to be serious, it would be undersold unless the scream was done so loudly and overdone that it went wrong in the other direction. (It could probably work in metal.) As it is, it's perfect and you feel it.

The three singles ("The Horrible Year", "Maggie", and "Karate School") all made strong impressions, but if you only listen to them, you do not get "Alone Again", or "New Years Day", or "Broke Down" (possibly my favorite) or "Il Pesce Svedese" (possibly the most Reggie).

It's just a really good album. You should get it.

The other thing I want to mention is that although I did not write it up, I did see Reggie and the Full Effect last April, and it was really tight. It would have been almost impossible to improve the set list and the ensemble sounded great. I don't know if it is the exact same lineup coming around now, but it promises to be a good show.

One last thing, if Cobra Kai is returning, then we needed the song "Karate School" more than we could have imagined.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Album Review: Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie

I was kind of excited to see that this album existed because here are my two favorite members of Fleetwood Mac working together.

It ends up being a bit more complicated than that, because Mick Fleetwood and John McVie ended up playing on the album, raising the question of whether this is what Fleetwood Mac would be like without Stevie Nicks. However, everyone is treating the album more like the product of a duo, and I am going to respect that.

Where it becomes interesting is that even if the writing is two people, these are two people with a history, and they have a history with other musicians too. It can easily be very comfortable - once you need support - to reach out to musicians that you know very well and who know you, and who you know play well together.

I think that's part of what makes the album so good. It is very good. My personal favorite tracks (or at least the ones that come back and visit me the most) are "Sleeping Around the Corner" and "On With the Show", but I could easily keep adding to the list, because I could keep pointing out an easy rhythm in this track, or a haunting passage here, or a profound statement there.

That makes the overall feel of the album seem more important; what I hear is maturity and comfort and ease that all go together. The history of Fleetwood Mac has had its bumpy spots, but these two have sifted out the gold and enjoyed it.

Because of all of that, I not only like listening to this album but I am inspired by it. There can be a lot of good things down that road, and the path that came before wasn't a waste.

So let's get on then. On with the show.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Loving music

With my crashed drive, the loss I felt the most was my Emo Exploration document.

 Right before it happened, I had seen someone's end of year countdown and thought I could do the best songs that were new to me in 2017, but I needed to review my emo notes and I couldn't. Also, I still had a list of bands from the book that I wanted to explore further, and bands that came a little later but had strong fandoms in that document. I could remember some, but definitely not all.

Well, when I was checking to see what I had already posted on "Bedroom Talk" Monday, I had the list of bands for further exploration in that post. On a hunch I checked to see if I had blogged the other list somewhere else, and I did. Keeping a blog has been very valuable to me.

(Actually, there had been two very similar lists, but the one was all abbreviations, and I had asked someone about them, and so I have that in DMs.)

Finding those pieces means that I can still do something that I meant to do, and as I intended to do it instead of a poorly remembered reconstruction. That felt good. I had also blogged the newer music I was interested in checking out when I was finishing up emo.

Part of why I mention this now is that the band reviews for this week are related to that. Friday's album was not out then, but I knew he was working on it.

Beyond that, the twin concepts here are the feelings that music gives me (or maybe let's me process when the feelings are already there) and also that there can be old things that are new to you that matter.

At the time, it was that Electric Century had a full album out, not just an EP, and that Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie had put an album out together, and The All-American Rejects had some new songs. I saw - but had not mentioned - that Jimmy Somerville had an album I wanted to check out. I discovered after that post that Fall Out Boy had new music out. Finally, Reggie and the Full Effect's new album came out last month.

This is why I wanted to check out the Jimmy Somerville album, from Wikipedia:

September 2014 saw the release of new single "Back to Me" followed by "Travesty", both from Somerville's new disco-inspired album 'Homage'. The emphasis on the recording of the new album has been on achieving the musical authenticity of original disco which Somerville grew up listening to. He stated 'I've finally made the disco album I always wanted to and never thought I could'.

(I think my sisters and I were listening to a Communards song, and talked about their breakup, and that made me want to look something up and I saw that.)

I didn't love the album. I didn't dislike it, but I expected it to be more awesome than it was, based on the quote. Even so, I could imagine listening to more disco - especially the originals of the songs he covered - and more Communards, and spending some time analyzing disco and disco elements, which are definitely part of what I like about Communards songs. It could still be a starting place.

The Rejects have three new tracks since their last album, and Fall Out Boy has a new album. I acknowledge that their earlier music hit me more deeply, but I don't know how much of that is because of where I was then and what I needed. It still means a lot to me that two of my favorite bands are still working on things together. I like that they are doing different things, because growing and maturing together is good for a band. It's not like it erases the older tracks; they're still there.

That's pretty good, plus there are clearly two reviews coming out from this: one from a pairing I have never written about, and one that I just want to listen to a lot, so I hope I end up having something interesting to say about it.

And without another review, Electric Century is so good, and they sound so different from either My Chemical Romance or New London Fire, that I love them for being good and for reminding me of the possible variety in music.

But mainly, I need music. I love it in general, whatever specifics mean more or less to me. Even when I review bands who annoy me, I love that the music is there.

(The only thing that can make me feel differently is reading Rolling Stone.)

So, I can't look up my notes, but some songs made such a huge impression on me in 2017 that I don't need notes to remember that they mattered. Here they are, in order of release:

"Whenever You're On My Mind" by Marshall Crenshaw (1983)
"Kiss Me" by Kyosuke Himuro (1993)
"Brandenburg Gate" by Antiflag (2015)
"From the Heart" by The Slants (2017)

(There's not an Antiflag review yet, but there will be.)

And we're going a bit long, but as long as we're here, I know that Antiflag was one of the bands mentioned in Nothing Feels Good, and that I knew about Marshall Crenshaw but I reviewed him because of Jesse Valenzuela and that is why I found a new song that I didn't know I was missing.

I know Kyosuke Himuro because he did a song with Gerard Way, and The Slants because their copyright case was on the news, but I reviewed them because I decided I should take some time to listen to some bands with Asian/Asian American members. And if there were no songs that stood out quite like that, some of my most enjoyed bands for review were Terri Odabi, (because I read about her from Toure, and I sometimes focus on Black artists) and Nahko and RedCloud (because I read a Mic article and I sometimes focus on indigenous artists). Reviewing the bands that follow me is good, but paying attention to recommendations (especially from people who know music) and looking beyond what is right there, but digging deeper, has been deeply rewarding too.

I loved Coco, and it hit emotions that I am not going to write about now, but the only unbelievable thing was that you could successfully ban music from a family for four generations. Maybe that explains why they all came around so quickly once the fifth generation couldn't be denied.

Remember to check in with your favorites, but remember not to only listen to your favorites.

Remember to listen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Recording music

I recently mentioned that I am taking too many classes. There were a couple of things that happened with that.

With the Roman art, history, and architecture classes, it happened because I couldn't choose which would be best, but it worked out that they tended to reinforce each other. Maybe first style and second style didn't resonate with me in one class, but then when they were being discussed again in a different class it clicked. That worked out, and now I only have a couple of weeks left on the Roman Architecture class (plus an AutoCAD assignment for it that I am not sure that I am motivated enough to try).

A lot of the classes end in March, so I am not even thinking about Music Theory and Performance Psychology until April of May. For the others, I thought Introduction to the Music Business could give me a better understanding for my band reviews and the Family Blood series, and Discovering the Instruments of the Orchestra just sounded interesting. I also thought Music for Wellness could give me some ideas for helping my mother.

Vocal Recording Technology was going to be a whole different thing though. Sometimes I really want to record things I have written. I've had this goal in mind for a while that I could have a week where the daily songs are all by me. My talent and skill deficit is a concern, but also I have had no idea how to record anything. I thought the class would tell me.

Other than some early lessons on microphones and other variables - like vocal registers and the recording environment - the class was mainly about working with the recordings in a digital audio work station. I'm sure it's good information if that is what you do, but if not, it was kind of boring. And, I still didn't know how to get the initial recording.

Oddly, the Music for Wellness class worked better for that.

I mean, I did have my mother watch the class videos for me, and she was more interested than I expected, so that was good. I think I have ideas for incorporating music more into enrichment activities in the future. But also, they had links for different recording things, and this seemed like it could be very helpful.

And then they seem to be more about editing sound files too.

Maybe I was overcomplicating recording sound. I search on recording an MP3 (the assignments call for uploading MP3s), and it let me to Windows Sound Recorder, which I do have preinstalled, but then you need a file converter to get it from a WMA file to an MP3 file.

I suppose the real problem is that everyone else is using phones now while I don't have one.

I did record two short test WMA files today. They sound very weak, making me think that using the mic in the camera is not the best option, but I am not going to be getting any new equipment between now and Thursday, when those class assignments are due.

Also, just turning in four week's worth of assignments on the last day is probably not the level of involvement that would be most beneficial. However, as a means of showing determination that I will get something done on time even if it is not great, there is that. Also, there is that some things need to be done badly before they can be done well.

So, while there are many obstacles and perhaps not the best aptitude, I am learning.