Tuesday, May 31, 2016


When I last wrote about getting to the shame, I said how previous work had been more on the surface. That is not entirely fair.

Believing that I couldn't be loved and believing that it was because I was fat were more recent and closer to the surface than the underlying base of shame, but they still went pretty deep. It is possible that I couldn't have gotten here without going there first, though I can't swear to it.

Regardless, that base mattered, and continued to matter even when I was doing considerably better.

I recently finished Hope Edelman's Motherless Daughters. She refers to daughters' tendency to blame themselves for the death or abandonment as a kind of magical thinking. It's not that uncommon for children and teenagers to assume responsibility for bad things that happen. I'm sure some of that is not having enough maturity to understand all of the possible reasons that can lead to death and illness and divorce, but I think there can also be a hope that if you are the problem, then you can fix it. If that is the case, you get let down a lot.

I was not the reason that my father was unhappy with his life and family. Some factors may have made it seem more likely. One sibling felt very displaced by me, and managed to hold on to a lot of resentment about my birth for a long time. More than that, I was born in the wake of a family tragedy.

I had an uncle who was a pilot. He took his (and my father's) parents out for a flight in March 1971, and they crashed. My uncle survived, but with physical and emotional injuries. Both of my grandparents died.

A lot of cousins were born in the wake of that crash. I don't know how deliberate it was, but I believe there was a desire to cling to life and create new life. It was never really talked about, but it happened.

The last time my father saw his parents, he had fought with them, and had been giving them the silent treatment when they died. I was born ten months after they died, and it was on purpose. I did not make everything better.

That shouldn't have been my job anyway, but let's just say that there was some bad emotional baggage that I was not equipped to comprehend at the time. I developed into someone who always felt a need to do more and to fix things and to take care of others, and without strong motivation to take care of myself, or even openly acknowledge that I wasn't.

Getting back to The 9 Types of Lovers - it's not that it never hit home before; it always did - but it hit harder and deeper. Maybe that was because the issues that had been piled on top of it had already been cleared away. As it was, I was feeling like the poster child for People Pleasers. Even the examples and suggestions of ways to change certain patterns were things I had done or was thinking about trying to do.

There were two crystallizing events. The first one happened May 4th. I was feeling well, and I had meant to sleep some more, but for some reason I got online and I had a distress call from one of my girls.

I just wanted to cry. I cannot do this! And I didn't. I felt like a heel, but I got off the computer and lay down and I took the time I needed. Then I got on and reached out to her, and she was okay too.

It has been a pretty common thing for me to be working on something, and really need a break but I just want to get one more thing done. Then as I am almost ready to stop, someone has an emergency. I knew I needed to stop putting myself in that situation.

One thing I have had to accept is that I have put myself in a situation where emergencies do happen. Usually there is only one who will specifically ask me for help, but I spot people hitting low points all the time. I don't want to stop caring about that or helping, but I need stay functional too.

In this case, that means that I have to be ready before I go online. I pray, I read in my scriptures, I eat breakfast, I try and get sufficient sleep before I start any of those, and then I can be ready.

"Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." I've even used that example before, more than once, but getting to where you own it for yourself is different. I am getting better.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Casting Dad Wars

Early on when I started writing screenplays, I read that the average screenwriter writes nine screenplays before they sell one. I was probably on my third then, so it seemed pretty far off.

Nine then became a magic number for me, and I got very specific about it. Television pilots didn't count, nor the collaboration on the adaptation. Obviously the month of 6-day scripts didn't count, and not Bigg City Heroes or the Binderspink contest submissions. The fan fiction didn't count, and not novels and blogging.

Even being very strict and only counting feature length screenplays written only by me and intended for sale, Dad Wars is number nine. The number was never so much magical as an indication that breaking in to the business is hard and there's a lot of failure. If you want to do it you are going to have to keep at it for a long time without any encouragement.

I have done that. I have written so much, and I have a better feel for it. I can predict things like eventual page length pretty well. Writer's block doesn't really last anymore. While I still haven't made any money from it, that does feel like an accomplishment, and I feel good about it.

And I feel good about what I have written. I am always most excited about the newest work, but I believe Dad Wars is funny while remaining pretty grounded, and it has heart. It will touch on emotions for some pretty common feelings, like dealing with aging and feeling like your life has purpose and parent-child relationships. I like it.

Dad Wars can be downloaded as a PDF and read at https://studios.amazon.com/projects/116363.

Now I am in the phase of thinking about getting it sold and how it will look. It helps to have casting in mind because this can give other people a better idea of the end result. It is also important to not be too rigid in that. You can't always get what you want, and that shouldn't devastate you.

For example, it would not be completely unreasonable for this to be an Adam Sandler film, with the neighborhood being filled out by Allen Covert, Rob Schneider, and Peter Dante. There is nothing wrong with that; I have enjoyed a lot of films with them, but it would probably change the tone some.

Writing it, I visualize Mike as Mark Hoppus and Tyler as Tyson Ritter (though he started as Gerard Way). Tyson Ritter does act, and would look adorable doing yoga with a baby. That is not impossible. I have seen Mark Hoppus do some acting, but it is probably not realistic for him to lead a movie. That's okay. I got the idea of Rob Lowe doing it and I really liked that.

Rob Lowe is very "dad" in his real life. He is a little older than Mike is supposed to be, but he can pass for younger pretty easily. It might not hurt to send him to Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp before starting filming, but who wouldn't want to do that?

It wouldn't be bad to have alternatives. I can also see Oscar Isaac as Tyler. He has musical experience and he is still in a good age range for it. He might be harder to get, but he might also enjoy the chance to do a comedy.

There are other clear pictures that are not feasible, but having the picture is a starting point. Of the neighbors, in my head Phil is Uncle Phil from "Fresh Prince". James Avery is dead, and would be more like Phil's father if he were still alive. Steve is Steve Wozniak; probably can't cast him. It is still a starting point.

My last idea is where I start to feel really good about casting in general.

For the counselor that Mike and Tyler visit, I had a very clear picture of Henry Rollins barking at them like a drill instructor. Rollins is an important part of punk history, he does act, and I know he could pull it off.

However, it also occurred to me that Grace Jones would be wonderful for that role. She would be intimidating in a different way than Rollins, but she could bring it.

(Obviously, all the guests on the "Little Drummer Boy" can be changed subject to availability- I was just naming people to give an idea.)

Thinking about Rollins versus Jones made me kind of want them both. That won't work, because there does need to be a choice and two counseling sessions would not be a reasonable choice, but it reminded me that there are many good ways to do scenes.  There can be bad casting, but good casting can encompass more than one choice. There might even be more than one choice that seems like perfect casting, even though you only see the one that happens.

So, it's okay to retain some optimism. And it's imperative to hold on to the work ethic.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Band Review: Punchline

Punchline is a band with a sense of humor, as the name implies.

Some humor can be seen in song titles. "Coyotes In B Major" on Delightfully Pleased is an interesting thought, but then on the next album (Politefully Dead) to have a song called "Coyotes in B Arthur", that builds on the first off kilter thought and adds punning.

That being said, they often achieve a sincere emotion on tracks. "Universe" feels very real, and essentially plays it straight. "No Significant Other" is very relatable, but the title gives you an interesting way of looking at it.

The band has a lot of material so there is a lot to listen to. It probably makes sense to start with their 2015 release Thrilled, but I also appreciated the tighter focus on their EPs.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Band Review: The Phonographs

Listening to The Phonographs reminded me most of listening to early Beatles.

Not all of their songs sound like that, though "Number One Fan" is a good example of one that does. Overall, there is a devotion to rock from before it was even classic rock.

My favorite track was probably "I'm On You (You're My Drug)". The title implies an unhealthy relationship, but the song is quite lovely, with some unusual percussion choices.

The Phonographs are a four-member band from Woodstock, Illinois. That may not be the Woodstock that we associate with peace and love, but it still seems to fit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Going way, way back

In this phase of my life, I can see very clearly how some things led to other things, and times when some things needed to happen first, and how that order mattered. That makes it seem valuable to trace histories.

There were 31 books on the long reading list that I knew I would go over, but there was another book that ended up being more influential for Everything Else, especially at the end. How I came to that book in the first place has its own story.

In March of 1996 - just over twenty years ago - I was getting ready to go on vacation with my mother and younger sisters. I stopped by the U of O student store, and the Psychology Today cover really grabbed my attention.

The actual article was about the 1995 sweaty T-shirt experiment (Major Histocompatibility Complex Dependent Mate Preference in Humans) by Claus Wedekind. It was fascinating to me because fairly recently there had been all this talk about pheromones, and people wanting to harness them but they weren't supposed to work on humans. Here they could be a factor, but there is so much variation in who was attracted to what - based on immune system - that there would be no point in making it a cologne. (Unless maybe you found someone with an unusually robust immune system that could appeal to anyone.)

So there was that, but also as still kind of a starry-eyed romantic with a tendency to fall in love at first sight (was it at first smell?), learning more about attraction was really interesting to me.

I don't know for sure when I read about the next thing. I did end up subscribing to Psychology Today for many years, and it would be hard to overstate how much I learned not just from the articles, but from further reading that was suggested through the articles and reviews. It was in 1997 that Arthur Aron published "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness", so I would have read about it sometime after that. That's the one about two people falling in love through 36 questions. It fascinated me too.

At some point during my long stay in singles wards, I would think about these things and want to understand it all better (and help move it along). I really wanted to find more on Aron's work, but I didn't remember his name, and I couldn't find any traces of it. Still wanting something more led to me ordering three books. They were all about love, but there were so many books on love that I could have ordered, I can't explain why it ended up being these three. It just did.

A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, 2000.

This was much more neurological than I expected, but beautifully written -- much more literary than normally happens with scientific material.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, by Gary Chapman, 1992.

This was really helpful for me. When I say I am the oddball in my family, one of the differences is that physical expressions of affection are most important to me. Not only is that not how anyone else does it, they specifically don't like it. Deeper delving can be done there, and it's not anyone's fault, but it's there. Being able to frame the issue correctly was important.

The 9 Types of Lovers: Why We Love the People We Do and How They Make Us Crazy, by Daphne Rose Kingma, 1999.

I know the title indicates that it is about relationships, but it gets there through what your emotional wound and your coping strategy for it are, and it had me and the people who frustrate me the most pegged, and it all made sense.

I have loaned it to other people who found themselves in it. It is often a frame of reference for how I understand various people. I periodically go back to it.

The People Pleaser's emotional wound is feeling unworthy. Yes, I've done that. Her coping behavior is accommodation. All the time. The unconscious emotion that needs to be addressed is Shame. Even knowing it for years now, there was so much I didn't comprehend about it. Even though it came up very early in the process (11/23, pages 7 and 8), I needed to circle back to it before I could really be done.

I hadn't really understood how pervasive the shame was before. I had made progress before, and it mattered, but it was on the surface. Getting underneath was necessary, and going back to the book helped.

So, for my blogging next week, I'm probably going to start at the end of Everything Else.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Working on Everything Else

One thing that I have noticed when men disagree with me is that it is common for them to denigrate my blog at the same time that they expect to be in it: "Maybe I'll show up in a rant in your blog", "Now you'll just run me down in your little blog."

There is probably a lot to understand about how men see themselves and see women in their expectation of inclusion, but my point today is that I know what my blog is and what it's for. Implying that it's just ranting and raving shows little familiarity with my style or typical subject matter. (Only two Celebrity Hate-Extravaganzas in over ten years!)

Calling my blog "little" is telling me what I already know.

I check my stats. I know the audience I get. I generally only wish that it was bigger when I an reviewing a really good band that should be more known, and realistically I cannot give that to them.

My blog does not change minds. It does help some people who tend to agree with me have a better idea of how to say what they want to say. That wasn't a role that I expected, but I am glad to fill it. Words are my thing, and I value people having a voice.

Mainly, it is for me. I work out my thoughts here, among other places. At the same time, sometimes those thoughts have value to other people. As sometimes people do get helped, it's not unreasonable to be considerate of that.

I expect that there are going to be several posts on Everything Else. I referenced it yesterday, but blog-wise there are references there that go back to October, and beyond. Some people have been following along for a while, but it might not hurt to fill in some back story. That's what I want to do now.

First of all, if it is not already obvious, writing is an important means of sorting out my thoughts. I do keep a journal, which covers some things, but other things go in the blog or in both. Twice there has been something additional.

Many years ago I just wanted to try sorting everything in my head and my heart out. I started a document that I called Everything. I felt at the start that it would take 200 pages, and including the Table of Contents I added about midway through so I could find things, that was right. I believe I started it in 2007, but I didn't keep dates and I regretted that later.

A lot has happened since then, and it felt like time for another round. That's how Everything Else got started, and I knew it would be 100 pages.

When I started the Everything Else document, I made one page where I wrote down everything from the three lists (Problems, Wants, and To Do) blogged about in October, plus the sequence of wounds from the Overall Arc, plus all of the books from the Long Reading List.

I knew I would want to go over all of these areas, though it was certainly possible other things would come up. And they did. This topic had a completely unexpected section in Everything Else, and then in the blog:

(But because I noted dates this time, I can tell you that in Everything Else I wrote about in on December 13th, and I didn't blog about it until February 8th. That's not an unusual lead time.)

To track my progress, I changed them all to red print, and then as I finished a writing segment, I would change it back to the standard black. I finished the last of the red topics on May 2nd, though I had to write some new things that came up. (The actual completion date was May 5th.)

I also have all of those topics set up in a spreadsheet for blogging. With four arc sections, twelve problems, eleven wants, sixteen assignments to do, and thirty-one books, only fifteen have already been changed from red to black.

That's why this introduction can be helpful. This could be many blog posts. For some of them, there may not be much that needs to be said, but sometimes after the one writing you see new things, and then you have to evaluate it again. (Which also means that if in nine years I need to write 50 pages on my issues, it's fine.)

Also, for the To Do list, there are things that I have written about, but that I have not done yet. The year of selfies has been helpful already, but there is a lot left to it. I have not started transcribing my mission journal or taken any driving classes yet, though I have written about what I think they will accomplish.

Often I can see ahead for several weeks worth of blog posts. I had something completely different in mind for this week, and yet my feeling is to hold off on that, and focus on this. Maybe that is because I am in such a state of transition right now, and the healing that I was working on is going to be important in navigating the transition. Maybe I need to read some more before getting back to political topics. My blogging is often driven by feeling, and I am comfortable both with planning and changing plans.

This is me. I have no illusions about that and I'm not trying to fool anyone else. Frankly, one of the best things about the time I have spent at this is the comfort that comes with not needing anyone else to think or feel a certain way.

This is where I'm heading, and you are welcome to come along.

Monday, May 23, 2016

More selfies

While I've been writing about books and politics, a lot has been going on.

I've been having some really good conversations on the selfies. They do things for other people that I hadn't really thought of. For the intended purpose of becoming more accepting of my own appearance, there's a reason that you do it for a year. I am not quite one quarter of the way through, and there is still progress to be made. Still, there are other things that happened.

One is that I had some really bad days, where I could not work up a smile. If I wasn't committed to a daily selfie, I would not have taken pictures on those days, but I had this commitment, so there wasn't any hiding from it. There were some pretty sad pictures, and some gritting my teeth trying to get back to somewhere good pictures, and there was this:

May 9: #365feministselfie The past couple of weeks I have been exhausted, hurt, allergic, sick, and insulted. Still here.

Covering the things that went into that picture should give a pretty good update of what's going on in my life right now, and how it is has been going.

First off, my severance is done. I have now started getting serious about my job search, which I meant to start sooner, but the writing took longer than I wanted it to, and that is still my preferred method of earning a living. Putting off the job search may have repercussions, but one thing that was happening in those two weeks included ridiculous login problems with the state site, which was very discouraging. It required some long hold times, but login issues are resolved, and I am now being more organized in my search.

The last time I blogged about the writing, I had decided that I was going to work multiple projects, and also that I was going to post how much I had written each day to keep myself accountable. That was good to a point, but there were a couple of things that went wrong with it.

I was trying to do too much. I'm not saying that's what got me sick. That has happened before, but this particular illness was a cold that worked its way through the entire household (I was third). Even though I had allergy symptoms before it hit (and I still do) I felt the cold descend upon me with a sneezing fit that pretty much announced "This is different."

It may have been a helpful reminder that I have limitations. I have so much I want to get done, and it feels very important. I need to finish these scripts, and I probably can't write that one right until I finish these books, and then I need to do these things, and I didn't give myself the support I needed, nor was I getting it from anywhere else. The breakdown came around April 26th, which was also the last day I posted a writing page count.

I switched to focusing on finishing Everything Else, that document of self analysis and assignments that I have been working on since November. I finished it May 5th, which was really fortunate because the big insults came on May 6th. They stung less because of something that I realized when I was finishing up Everything Else.

I am still not functioning at the level that I want to. Like, at some point if I could have a day where I exercise, and provide enrichment activities for Mom, and cook a nutritious dinner, and make progress in a book and earn some money and write, that would be really amazing.

At the same time, I've learned a lot. I did finish one screenplay, and I only have one scene left on another, and the two events I was working on have come off. I even did some fun things. I finished some books.

One of the things I have been doing for job hunting is viewing various webinars and things, and part of that is remembering that I am good at stuff. Losing your job - no matter how nicely they break the news - feels like a rejection of your worth as an employee. I do have a lot to offer. When I work for you I do a good job. There is this process of building back up, and I am getting there.

And, just with where I am at in my efforts at personal growth, there is really nowhere to hide. This does not seem ideal for either job seeking or agent seeking, but it's where I'm at. Maybe that's okay. This here is the person who will work hard for you, and who plans hard and writes hard and maybe I'm just kind of intense. I'm at least intensely human.

But most of all, I'm still here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Band Review: Break Away

While reviewing New Jersey band Break Away, I was listening to "How to Tell if Your Ribs Are Broken" at the same time that I was tweeting with a girl who was trying to decide whether to see the doctor about an injury.

I thought of it as a coincidence, but then I was reading the story of the song (available on its Bandcamp page), and there are things that fit. There were recording issues because one member thought it didn't sound right, and then it couldn't get fixed, which was a blow to the whole EP. At the same time, having that important song incomplete brought the band back together.

(My person had reasons for going and not going to the doctor, and eventually all I could do was hope she would make a good decision.)

Little things can get much bigger and be a source of great frustration. Sometimes it is completely outside of your control, but even if it feels like it is becoming a disaster, that disaster doesn't have to be permanent.

There is a fair amount of recorded material on Bandcamp, but from dates in 2004 and 2006. Then, on Youtube, there are many live clips recently loaded. Even if the material is older, the band activity is new. That broken rib festered for a while, but it was not fatal.

Break Away embraces both pop punk and punk rock. There is often a subdued feeling to the sounds that makes me want to call it alternative punk, but that may be splitting hairs. Guitars drive and attack in a way that is at times almost percussive, but the delivery remains musical.

Three cheers for unfinished business.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Band Review: Above It All

I found Above It All - like most of the bands I review - by them following me on Twitter. When that happens, my first exposure is usually whatever they link to in their Twitter profile. In this case, the link goes directly to their song "Anchors", even though they have seven songs available on Soundcloud.

I normally think it makes more sense to go to the general Soundcloud address, and that's what I am including in the links, but I can't fault them for doing it. There is something so engaging about "Anchors" from the intro on, that it seems like the best possible introduction.

I enjoyed listening to the rest of the songs and I enjoy the band. They are a pop punk band from Dallas who - despite being chronologically young - have been playing for a long time. There is a good spirit to the music and they are worth listening to.

You could make a good case for listening to "First Rate Fiction" before any other tracks. It is their first official release off the new EP, and the possessor of a strong hook.

Still, there is something special about "Anchors".

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The 2016 Election

Sanders did win Oregon. As white as Oregon is, I am not surprised. (I am disappointed.)

It is unlikely to have any impact on the race in November, which should be between Clinton and Trump. Today I want to write about how that will look.

First of all, I expect it to be ugly and bitter.

I may at some point do a post about "Those Idiots at Malheur", though they are not at Malheur anymore. If I don't get to it, let me say now that one of the most frustrating things for we was when they said they held a successful non-violent protest, referring to the Bundy Ranch standoff. Maybe no one died there, but it drew bloodthirsty people to the area. Five people died at the Wal-Mart shooting. That included the shooters, yes, but if there had been no standoff, would it have happened at all?

You may be able to say hateful, violent, and paranoid things without shooting anyone, but that doesn't mean that other people aren't closer to the edge. If your audience consists largely of those likely to feel threatened and powerless, the risk goes up.

That has been especially noticeable this year. The people listening may be more volatile than in the past, but it's nothing compared to how irresponsible politicians are becoming. So Carly Fiorina goes on about "baby parts" - apparently referencing one completely different video to criticize a doctored, lying video - and that exact phrase is murmured by the clinic shooter, killing three people and injuring nine more.

Trump uses ugly language against Mexicans and Muslims. Beyond the violence at his rallies, a homeless Mexican man is beaten by Trump supporters. Muslim and Mexican students are beaten by a Trump supporter, and a shop owner is attacked. We don't even know everything that Trump has "inspired", but here is one story:

It is not limited to the Republican side. I am used (especially during election years) to having conservative acquaintances get pretty rude, but the worst harassment this year has been from progressive Bernie supporters. (The worst attacks came from when I posted an article about how some Bernie supporters have been abusive, but they did not seem to appreciate the irony.) Bernie has had many opportunities to tone down this behavior, but has generally chosen to focus on how aggrieved he is that the DNC - after letting him run as a Democrat - have not changed things enough that his smaller amount of votes will let him win. Sure enough, the Nevada convention got ugly, and even in disavowing it Sanders focused on how the Democratic party needs to be more welcoming.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to anger finding such a receptive audience, but at this point, it's here, and it's a problem and the most frequent targets will be women and minorities and especially women of color. So, keep an eye out for the vulnerable. Even if they seem really strong, be supportive. We need more of that than the anger.

I didn't even mean to write that much on that aspect, but more on the course of the campaign. I saw someone predict that Trump will move more center, trying to frame himself as a moderate, and I see the logic in it. He has at times appeared more liberal, and people like him for being a wild card - not for how conservative he is.

The GOP doesn't like that wild card aspect, but they've lost control. Not getting behind Trump means being shut out. I don't see that happening on a party-wide level, though I would love to see a few members of Congress with consciences pull a Jim Jeffords.

I expect big donors to be split. Adelson has come out in favor of Trump, but the Kochs have said that Hillary might be better, and they're right. That's not because their values are good, but - and I have said this before - they are doing very well under the current system. They could easily decide that continuing with a liberal in the White House who faces congressional deadlock is better than potential Trump chaos.

If the Kochs do endorse Clinton, anyone running against her will use that against her, regardless of her having said she would not value their endorsement. Sanders has claimed that he would not run as an independent, but he has also promised not to be a spoiler, and you could argue that he has gone long past the time when he should start supporting Clinton instead of fighting her.

Trump would love a third-party candidate.

Here's one of the things that bothers me the most. If Trump does try to portray himself more moderately, and more presidentially, he could not put on more than a thin veneer. That should crack easily under a little pressing. That should be the job of the press itself, and I have no reason to believe they will do that. They have been courting Trump's favor, giving him free publicity, and not doing their job.

Now imagine that deference to Trump combined with their coverage of Clinton: A Sanders win is a win, but Clinton "didn't lose". They imply her support is weak, when her votes say otherwise. They focus on those who find her unlikeable, but people who have dealt with her overwhelmingly do like her. Even the photos that are chosen to accompany stories are always the worst ones.

Ultimately, that means that my hope comes down to her. The media might not press Donald, but Hillary will. He will push back but she has weathered worse. The odds against her include factors that really shouldn't be there, but if anyone can overcome it, I believe she can.

I'm with her.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hot Sauce

I wanted to do something a little light today. It's election day, and in a few hours the votes will start being counted. Polls show Clinton in the lead, but polls and votes are not the same thing. We shall see.

(Also, tomorrow's post might be kind of a bummer, so today we'll meander and learn some cool things.)

It started with Hillary Clinton's appearance on a morning show, The Breakfast Club, hosted by Charlamagne Tha God, DJ Envy, and Angela Yee. (No, I had not heard of it before, but I think I had heard of Charlamagne before.) They asked her to tell them something she always carries in her purse, which is a very common interview question. She answered "hot sauce".

This set off a whole thing, with accusations about Clinton pandering to Black voters, along with many defenders proving vigorously that Clinton has a long history of loving hot sauce, including having a collection of 100 bottle of hot sauce during her time as First Lady, and remembering that it was used in the 90s to make her look low class.

That is all somewhat interesting, but not necessarily the part that I find most interesting.

First of all, the accusations of pandering tended to focus on the line in the Beyoncé song "Formation":

"I got hot sauce in my bag, swag."

The morning crew seems to focus on this, saying "Are you getting in formation" and "swag". Clinton looks completely blank. So when they say people will say she's pandering and she answers, "Okay. Is it working?" that strikes me as her completely missing the reference, but she does get accused of pandering a lot, so she tries to handle it in that manner, but keeping it light.

And that's fine. Beyoncé is pretty big, and the video and Super Bowl performance got a fair amount of publicity, but Clinton is also a 69-year old woman running for president. It is completely possible to know there was a song without knowing the lyrics. (I'm sure someone has explained it by now.)

My mind went - and it would have been the main destination if I had not read the "Formation" lyrics - to the 2002 Eddie Griffin film Undercover Brother, where he had a hot sauce dispensing watch to help him tolerate mayonnaise.

I remember thinking that as someone who had to travel a lot, where sometimes the food might not be that good, or it might be high quality but geared toward a completely different palate, then the hot sauce could come in handy. Then it got more interesting.

The defenses for Hillary's love of heat (which pre-dates Undercover Brother too) included her responses to earlier questions. There are multiple incidents, including even her Breakfast Club segment, where she says that she believes hot sauce and peppers keep her immune system strong. It keeps her going.

That really interested to me. I remember hearing back as far as high school that cayenne is good for your immune system, and various types of spicy foods are frequently mentioned as boosting your metabolism. A strong metabolism and immune system is a definite benefit for someone always on the go, but I know a lot of people who would never take advantage of it because they hate hot foods.

That's why I was also interested in this recent question and answer in Ask Marilyn:

The cilantro example resonated for me. A lot of Lao food uses cilantro. I never thought about it one way or another, but there was another sister who hated it, and she got so tired of eating it in everything. This explains it; it made everything taste soapy to her. (And then once some people took her to Marie Callenders, and she ordered a dish with cilantro in it without realizing until it came!)

I never use mayonnaise, but I never use hot sauce either. My family thinks of me as liking spicy foods, because some foods I really like are spicy, but it's not the heat that I like. They are savory and I like that enough that I can deal with the heat. (Yes, I like umami, and yes, MSG gets used in a lot of Lao food also.)

But I have friends who love spicy, like one who tried to grow her own ghost peppers and one I gave a bottle of Sriracha to one Christmas, because that was his great love.

So all of that, all of those reactions can relate to how many taste buds we have, and which variants of them, and which receptors are working, and yet there are still more factors that go in to whether or not we enjoy them.

I have talked about complexity in some of my political writing, because it is a thing that exists in the world and has some perils, but complexity can be found all over the place.

I think of the taste issue in conjunction with The Psychopath Inside on brain function. It wasn't just nurture and nature, but also different parts of nature, because there are the genes that build the brain, but also the ingredients that work in the brain function. Is the serotonin there? Are the receptors set up to grab it? Is there anything that could be blocking it?

Complexity gives us a lot of things that can go wrong, but it also gives us mystery, and fascination, and makes things more interesting.

One of my misfortunes is that it seems like the healthiest foods - fish, walnuts, and cruciferous vegetables - are the ones I hate most. There are lots of other foods out there, and certainly other vegetables. Maybe if we all like some, no one has to like all of them. People who think roasted Brussels sprouts taste like candy, I don't understand get that at all, but rock on anyway. You do you.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Foreign policy

For criticisms against Hillary Clinton, I take those on foreign policy most seriously, and yet they are not enough to dissuade me. I'm not sure it is possible to get foreign policy right.

I'm sure it's possible to get foreign policy horribly wrong. For example, considering nuclear proliferation to be a good idea because it keeps people in line shows a strong lack of understanding.

Allowing people to adapt brainwashing techniques into torture methods to produce false information, thus fabricating "evidence" to convince Congress to authorize war with a country that you are only interested in because of Daddy issues is clearly wrong. I feel comfortable labeling those things bad. Still, in foreign policy, that something is not egregiously wrong does not mean it is right either.

For example, many foreign policy decisions post World War II were based on standing against Communism. The Soviet Union was actually trying to increase their influence at one point, so it may not even have been completely ridiculous to fight communism, but fighting it often went badly. Vietnam may be the most obvious example, but one thing you can see with both that and the Korean conflict is that there were a lot of deaths and you still end up with communist countries there. Sometimes you get rid of a monarchy, but if you end up with a hereditary dictatorship, it may not be much better. At least, I think that's how we feel about Kim Jong-Un.

At one point, working against Russian influence in Afghanistan seemed like a good idea. They even made a Tom Hanks movie about it: We are going to end the Cold War by weakening Russia's grasp! And then you will have the Taliban repressing people and sheltering Al-Qaeda when they launch attacks against us that kill thousands of people.

I have written about this before, kind of, but years later it is just more entangled. Before World War II it wasn't about communism, but there was still King Leopold plundering the Congo for rubber, and US fruit companies exploiting the Amazon, and everyone wanting a piece of the oil in the Middle East.

You can look at conflict between Hutus and Tutsis, or problems in South Africa, and say the tribes aren't capable of governing themselves, but that overlooks everything that was changed and upended by the colonizers, and all of the loss of life and leadership as their resources were being stolen.

History has really deep roots, and ignorance of those roots doesn't change the shape of the tree.

So, you have people being oppressed and killed. Ignoring it is horrible. Doing something will result in many deaths, and be very expensive. It is unclear how many lives you can save or how to sustain those lives once the first threat is gone, because they will need water, food, and shelter. What do you do?

I don't like drone use, especially when they are used to kill people. The last time I referred to that (about three years ago), I saw it as a continuation of the status quo by someone who had joined it - that getting power makes you automatically more invested in maintaining it, and it was understandable if not ideal.

That could still be true, but I also see the pressure to not let there be any more attacks. Are they stopping attacks? It's possible. When some things are working well, you don't know about it because you only see when things go horribly wrong.

It's just an area where I am slower to judge. I see a lot of difficulty for the things that I do know, and I realize there is a lot that I don't know.

That being said, it is meaningful to me that, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton advocated for women's rights and children. So many of the things that went wrong in the past went wrong because it was easy to not think about protecting the vulnerable. It is significant to me that she does think about them.

I will take the candidate who is pro love and kindness. That is the direction we need to take.

Somewhat related posts:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Band Review: Blinds

Blinds is an ethereal rock band based in Nashville.

This is most evident in the first track on their self-titled EP. "Bloom (Prologue)" is instrumental and there is a delicacy to it that may not be firmly rooted to this world.

Other songs seem less ethereal, and when there are lyrics they are often dark. This is especially true for their first single, "Dana Sue Gray". It then makes sense to learn that one of the band's influences is the movie Blade Runner. Dark and moody tones are to be expected. Those may come through most clearly on "Whimper".

Between that angst and a rather ponderous feel to the band's bio, I had some concern that they might be taking themselves too seriously, but another source of inspiration listed is "artsy photos on Tumblr" and that gives me hope.

Instrumentally I appreciated what they were doing most in "Mint + Nicotine", which located some interesting textures with the guitar, as well as the percussion on "Void (Two Weeks Notice)".

I don't believe that the band will be everyone's jam, but for what they are doing they implement it well. It's at least worth listening to a couple of tracks to find out if they are for you.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Band Review: Scott Lowder and the Vapers

Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Scott Lowder and the Vapers are a 90s rock/alt country trio.

I initially didn't hear the country influence. It is there, but not overpowering.

They have some interesting takes on blue-eyed soul, with covers of Adele and Sam Smith that effectively put their own stamp on the songs.

Their own music is more compelling. "Overdue" in the lyrics says "Let's take it slowly", but it bursts forth with energy and joy that feels like it secretly wants to be completely impetuous.

"Drowning" does not have the same sense of fun, but is still energetic, this time in an almost anthemic way. And "B (The Ghost of You)" feels like a pub song, possibly because it mentions Irish charm, or maybe because people could start joining in on the chorus.

Together, they give this band its own voice, and it's a good one.

They don't need the covers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

And the revolution

I did not think that this would be about Sanders as much, because I am assuming - and it may be a stretch - that modern socialists are more likely to seek change through elections and legal means rather than rising up and shooting the nobility.

At the same time, Susan Sarandon's comment that some people think Trump's election would bring about the revolution, implying that is a good thing, brings it close to home.

There are enough problems in the world that I can see why there are people who feel like burning the whole place down is the only answer. Under these circumstances, the popularity of both Trump and Sanders makes sense, as they channel anger with the establishment. I still can't find that to be the right answer.

When you burn the whole place down, people get injured. They get left homeless. They have difficulty finding food. That's staying within the metaphor, but I see literal devastating consequences to an actual revolution and to the Trump presidency that could inspire it.

If there were a temporary period of hardship that would resolve into this superior society where the workers control the production and partake of the profits, that would be great, but there is no reason to believe that.

There were abuses by the Czars in Russia, but then there were abuses by the ones who replaced them too. There was still great poverty and murder and dissidents being sent to Siberia. Then that seemed to get better, and organized crime took over.

In France there was a true spirit of revolution and equality. There was a firm resolve to end slavery. Then a racist bourgeois type in the middle seizes power, and it led to years of wars. Eventually they did get a more equitable society, but it was a messy path.

There are many examples of this, and many of the conflicts are deeply rooted in colonialism, and especially based in the desire of some to be able to make lots of money in ways that require a lot of manual labor, which they do not want to do.

That is certainly something capitalistic, and opposing it is reasonable. It's just once that you turn a class into enemies, that class has a funny way of getting bigger.

One thing that has been interesting to see with Affirmative Action is that while it was widely assumed to be a program to help Black people, the biggest beneficiaries have been white women. If that's what happens when you are trying to make things more equal, what do you think might happen when the people who are openly racist are in charge?

Related post: