Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Whacked Out Mideast Manson Family and the Summer of Hate

The first inkling I had that ISIS was not what it claimed to be was a blog in English by a recruit who seemed to know less about Islam than I do. The more blogs, tumblrs and tweets I read, the more it looked like a big, whacked out, mideast Manson family. So I nodded, when I read this line in the Huffington Post today:

In fact, two UK citizens' final purchases from Amazon before setting out to join a jihadist group recently were the books Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies.  

Not a huge fan of religion, but the post makes some good points worth considering.

(Is weaponizing ecstasy off the table?)


As an addendum to my previous post, to preclude any more rude comments, no, I don't want to discuss sex with you or hear your opinion on it.  I'd much rather talk about doughnuts. If you have a recipe that tastes exactly like a Krispy Kreme, I'm listening.  Hackers: the only photos you'll find on my computer now are photos of my pup Alice looking adorable.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dear Ricky Gervais

Sorry to write this publicly, but I'm not a big time comedian and am not sure how to reach you otherwise. I've defended you in this whole celebrity photo thing, because I get that you're a great comedian and the best comedians often have a kind of Tourette's. They have to, otherwise, they'd have a normal natural fear of exposing their own human flaws so, well, nakedly. You take a bullet for us every time you do that, and allow us to laugh at things that might otherwise drive us to self-loathing. You show us we're not alone, other people are sometimes freaks and idiots and assholes and small-time bigots, even bigger ones than us on occasion.  I love you so much for that, and Louis CK, ROSEANNE, Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho, and Chris Rock and Larry David and Lena Dunham, and Amy Schumer, and Janet Evanovich, and Gilda and Groucho and Phyllis, Bugs Bunny and all his creators,  Monty Python, Peep Show, the Trailer Park Boys, BROAD CITY, and Tina Fey even though 30 Rock kinda stepped on my material and made my work less TV-worthy because she did it so much better than I could, and Robin Williams... and so many others, for pulling me back from the edge of the cliff time and again. I owe you for that, and I love you for that so much I get tears in my eyes as I type this. I love you for THAT.  I get why you might feel angry and hurt that other people don't always see that.  I've said lots of mean, thoughtless things, because I have that Tourette's thing as well, and taken a few beatings, and my sane friends have had to take me aside and say, with love, humor and some self-awareness, I get you, I love you, but this is wrong and this is why.

I don't love you for your advice on storing one's sex media, even though I think you meant it as good sense and good advice, in the slightly snarky way you might tell someone to secure their wallet in a tourist area full of pickpockets. But what women hear first is, "It's her fault for putting the photos on the phone." We hear this because we've been victim blamed our whole lives.  It's our fault for wearing revealing clothes, walking after dark, drinking, liking sex, talking about sex, having opinions, and merely living as females and having vaginas.  We're not the only victims of victim blaming, but wow, we've had to take so much more of this crap, since religion blamed us for eating the apple and bringing on the dawning of consciousness and sexual shame. To be fair, we take a lot of it from other women who don't get it, but we don't have to worry so much that they're going to use it as an excuse to rape and murder us.

 What you are experiencing now is just a taste of what women experience when they're slut-shamed.

Thumbing your nose at your critics is wrong and won't work. You need to see that those creeps who spread the photos are criminals and those women have been violated, then you need to say it, and that you're sorry for not getting it. It's hard, and probably not a good thing, to apologize to the worst online commenters whose outrage against you seems even greater than that against the soulless monsters who stole and posted the photos, and who have probably said one or two thoughtless, mean, bigoted things themselves in their lives. When the reaction is that big and loud, and you feel misunderstood and unjustly convicted, if you apologize it's like you're admitting to the whole buffet of negative charges.

Critics of Ricky need to see that he is revealing ourselves through himself, and doing this can be dangerous.   RIP Robin Williams.  Do we really want him to censor himself at the risk of  shutting that down?

You don't have to apologize to the online commenters, but if you get it, and I know you do, apologize to the victims, like Jennifer Lawrence, and every other victim of revenge porn, like me, because I've sexted and some of my photos and possibly a video are floating around out there somewhere. We can tell other women, look, this happened to me. Take great, hot nudies, sex can be fun, but be smart about securing your media.  If you can't secure it 100 percent, which includes trusting the person you've sent it to, there's a good chance it could fall into the wrong hands. Tina Fey handled this perfectly on 30 Rock, btw, as did Peep Show in the porn-bullet episode.  You can't give us advice here, even if it's meant satirically.  The only advice men can give us here is the very best way(s) to secure our sex media, unless this has happened to them and they've been slut-shamed for it the way women are. Lots of gay men understand.

Here, I need to insert an apology for embarrassing any friends or family, like my supercool Mormon cousins, and thank them for  being so supportive of my nutty, curious and freewheeling ways, to believers and others of all stripes with more modest attitudes about sex than I have. Mine are close to those of Henry Miller, who has also pulled me from the ledge a few times.

I feel bad for any discomfort, but I've also felt bad every time I saw someone else get fried for something like this, not celebrities so much as high school girls who were driven to suicide, and the boy who killed himself after his roommate secretly taped and distributed a secret video of his homosexual encounter, and anyone unfairly hounded and hurt by other people. I'm so sorry to them, and all their loved ones, for not standing up and saying, "I'm a much bigger slut than any of you, and I'm not ashamed.  YOU are not the cause of this. The guilty party is those that did it to you."

If you don't want to hear criticism of your naked opinion, don't expose it on the internet. Personally, I think it's better if you do, because it opens up the discussion, and helps us find ourselves in each other.  Every chance we have to do that is needed in this crappy world.   Thank you for giving me this chance.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where do you fall today? Acute Fluency? Bibliobliss? Blasphemous Reverence?

Do you read horoscopes? Do you sometimes believe them? I sometimes believe, when I want to, when the future news is good. I read them more now for other reasons, to provoke myself, to find inspiration, or because they're really well-written.  The best on all counts, and the most eerily accurate, were written by Miss Jennifer Blue. Some people are extrasensory and plug into the universe in a unique way, and she's one of them.

I also like Rob Brezsny. He's cryptic and poetic, he gives zen riddles instead of specific predictions, and he's full of ideas, like this latest, "Cagey optimism."

It's the anti-DSM-V. For those of you who don't read about psychiatric disorders recreationally, it's the diagnostic manual for psychiatrists. I had to stop reading the DSM-V because it's like WebMD, I began to think I had almost every disorder in there. At one time or another,  I'd exhibited about 75 percent of the symptoms.

But then I realized, so had every great person I admired and most of the people I loved. :)

My biggest problem with DSM-V is that the human brain and the human soul are vast mysterious universes that can't be so easily codified. Nothing against psychiatrists, because many of them are brilliant, empathic and extrasensory, just like the best astrologers.  They save people's lives. It's the bloody manual that's bothersome.

Brezsny:  "Psychiatry and psychotherapy obsess on what's wrong with people and give short shrift to what's right. The manual of these professions is a 991-page textbook called the DSM-V. It identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones."

He set out to do an anti-DSM-V.  It's excellent--smart, witty, mischievous, and positive without being sunshiney and unrealistic.  A must read.

Yours in Blasphemous Reverence, good night.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Save CBC

There's so much I want to say on this subject but I am short on time today so going to skip the poetic and give you the bullet points:

CBC/Radio Canada, like the railroad, tied Canada together and has kept all its distant corners in touch with each other ever since, giving Canadians a voice, or rather, a chorus of voices, in a culture that's increasingly dominated by American culture.  While publicly funded by the government (as well as by advertiser support), it has maintained its independence and not degenerated into a tool of the the ruling party. Ruling parties tend to resent it, and the current regime is trying to defund it chunk by chunk into nonexistence.

Having public funding protects it from becoming a tool of corporate sponsors.  Learn more here.

Close the Canadian Senate and give the money to the CBC.

This was one of the most popular shows in Canada when I was a kid, a little music show from Canada's maritimes. I never get tired of seeing this.

Every Sunday night, Cross-Canada Check-up, now and forever

The Nature of Things, on CBC for 54 years

The Famous Doris Day Referendum.

Four words:  Kids in the Hall

Marg Delahunty:

Extra Marg here.

And so much more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Normcore vs. Post-Cool

This is an interesting essay on the evolution of "normcore"  since 9/11.  I agree with some of it, like the part about faux sincerity, but every definition of Normcore I've read is different, and equally fuzzy, as pundits define it by their own standards, superimposing a personal template.  End of rebellion? Or just a different kind of rebellion?

Post-9/11, patriotism is part of normcore? You mean, all those unlikely people so shocked by the destruction of that day screaming for the US to bomb Afghanistan--and later Iraq-- to oblivion? Patriotism is a little dangerous and easily exploited.

I'm down with the thrift shop clothes, the foraging, the gardening, the DIY definition of normcore, and have lived that without giving it a label for the last decade+. I hate the terms 'normal' and 'normcore.' Can we say post-cool instead--like what you like and don't give a shit about its hipness or whether it makes one normal?  That's less about conformity and more about just doing and being. Otherwise, normcore will be exploited by the powerful like every other shallow trend to make money and marginalize those who won't conform to their agenda.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strategic Unkindness

This morning, I took a break from the Robin book and did a bit of rewriting on  my book about finding Alice. I (re)wrote about a terrible year I had when my three cats died, two from tumors and one from liver failure.  Two human friends died that year too (and my computer exploded and took my book in progress with it) and I was flat broke until the end of the year.  These cats were my family, my dependents, and they'd lived with smokers, me and my ex-husband, their whole lives so I knew it was my fault.  I was a wreck.

When you go through an especially rough patch, there are people who can't deal with your pain and avoid you. I totally get that. There are people who see your pain and exploit you. There are people who help.  During this time, I went to a con and met Janet Evanovich. I was insanely envious of her talent and career and told her so.  She was extremely nice and thereafter I began to hear from people who bought my books on her recommendation. The following year she gave me a blurb for a book, and I became a ardent (but envious) supporter. (Other writers who went way out of their way for me that year were Joan Hess and Katherine Neville, FYI.)   It's funny, but the more time passes, the more the memory of people's kindness during difficult times resonates.  It's also true that my own unkindness echoes more deeply, even for some recipients who had it coming. :)

I once read a letter Jack Kerouac wrote to his then wife Edie Parker Kerouac. It was a very zen letter written from a ship in the merchant marine.  He ended it with, "Be kind to everyone. "

I'd like to end this post with that, but kindness can be complicated.  Some people see it as weakness and will happily exploit it, and the crap of daily life can quickly erode the best intentions.

Jack himself couldn't keep it up. Later, I saw some footage of him, after he'd moved back home to take care of his mother.  They fought viciously. "Shut up you old fish c****," he shouted at her.

That unkindness, driven by emotion, is human and easier to forgive, or should be, than strategic and cold-eyed unkindness practised by powerful people against those weaker. Powerful people pit us against each other so we won't see how they're manipulating the water or food supplies (for example), creating pesticides that may kill bees (while quietly buying up a company to genetically engineer resistant bees), and herbicides that pollute the land and water tables and will kill almost all plants but plants they've created to resist their products.  Or governments who make gays, women, Jews, Muslims scapegoats to deflect envy and enmity from themselves?  How long are we going to fall for that? Why waste good anger and meanness and overblown Twitter Outrage on each other when it can be forged into a weapon against the rulers of cruel governments like Uganda and Russia,  and companies like those of Big Oil?

So... don't be kind to everyone.  Be strategically unkind to those more powerful who have it coming.  If you like, start here (or here for EU). Sign petitions, call your elected representatives, boycott, march.  Give your grief to those who really deserve it.

Canada House of Commons
US Congressional Contact Information
Russian Embassy Locator
Uganda Embassy Locator

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Poetry Month: W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden

Young men late in the night
Toss on their beds,
Their pillows do not comfort
Their uneasy heads,
The lot that decides their fate
Is cast to-morrow,
One must depart and face
Danger and sorrow.

Look in your heart and see
There lies the answer,
Though the heart like a clever
Conjuror or dancer,
Deceive you with many
A curious sleight,
And motives like stowaways
Are found too late.

He shall again his peace
Feel his heart harden,
Envy the heavy birds
At home in the garden,
For walk he must the empty
Selfish journey,
Between the needless risk
And the endless safety.

Clouds and lions stand
Before him dangerous,
And the hostility of dreams.
Then let him honor us,
Lest he should be ashamed
In the hour of crisis
And the valley of corrosion
Tarnish his brightness.