Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I just got home from a terrific dinner with the inimitable Tony Comstock who is actually writing under his given name now. So more correctly I had dinner with Captain David Ryan. Same amount of fun. Slightly different label. Just as I was leaving work he used The Power of Twitter to see what I was up to and a short time later we were sucking down sushi together.
He's been sailing a lot in the past year and a half so we talked a lot about sailing. We talked a lot about a lot. Just ask our waiter how hard it was to get a word in edgewise. Sailing figured prominently, though, whether on the open ocean or off the coast of Long Island, or round about the Caribbean. Just before we parted he was telling me a story and describing teaching a client to man the sailboat's tiller. The man was thrilled and The Captain's description was full of all that excitement. I could see them sharing the marvel of cutting through the water at high speed, bending the power of the wind to serve their aim.
I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to others to my own detriment. Other times I compare in the interest of learning what I like and where I want to go. It is, as they say, a fine line. Sometimes, though, it's just kind of hilarious.
I was leaning in to catch every nuance of The Captain's narrative. I could see the boat and the client and the shit eating grins. Then he mentioned the tiller and a picture popped immediately into my mind. It's of me, at about 7 years of age, manning the tiller of a canal boat while my dad instructs me. If you're unfamiliar with canal boats they're, you know, on canals which don't have current to speak of and they're kind of like tiny house boats. They are the Subaru Outbacks of the boating world. Useful, amusing enough, yet hardly sexy.
Which is all to say that dinner was great. It's always a hell of a treat to spend time with someone with whom you share so much in common...even if you are gliding along entirely different waterways.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Sometimes you mess up and everyone rallies to fix it. I just haven't been up to par this month and for the last two weeks I've forgotten to remind everyone about the photo challenge. Yesterday, after the deadline, I realized that only fondofsnape had entered. Even I hadn't entered! I sent out a message and BAM! entries poured in. We have six photographers represented this week, one of them a new member to the group. Yay for fresh blood!
Which is all to say that today, more than ever, please show these folks some comment love both here and in their photostreams. You can get to the streams by clicking on their name in the caption. Down at the bottom I'll have a new prompt which I'll remind you about this time around. Promise.
San Francisco has a lot of murals. My friend, Matt, took me to see a few he'd discovered in an alley in the Mission. I am always a sucker for the dog.
Chrome just landed a gig as the location scout for the next Lara Croft movie. OK she didn't. But if she had they'd be filming in PA 'cause that's where she discovered this little slab of awesome.
Feistycakes and I (lshykula, too) grew up near the shore in a small New England state. One of the really cold ones. There's something about the beach and the horror in this shot that feels like home.
lshykula I would take pictures of this kid all the time. I can hear him laughing in this one. Completely infectious.
Blogher this year Elephant Soap and I went to a session run by food photographer, Penny de los Santos. Penny talked to us about the importance of light and patience. When I saw this photo I thought, "Oh, Penny would feel heard."
We can't ignore it anymore. It's autumn. For real. The next prompt will have to be FALL. You can take that any way you like.
Please post your pics in our Flickr Pool by 9am on Tuesday October 11th for posting on Wednesday October 12th. If you have a chance please tag them with PhotoChallenge and FALL. Any questions you can contact me on Twitter where I'm @Kizzbeth, by email at isabeau6 at hotmail dot com or in the comments here. (Note to Janet: I got your message about the typo in the last challenge. Thank you! Please see above about not being myself. )
Thanks again for playing my reindeer games.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
10 Things I Love About Singing In A Small Group
1. Someone else is calling the shots. I get to listen and execute and use my whole brain to do those things. I don't have to worry if I'm making the right decisions.
2. There is a sense of togetherness in a committed, welcoming group like this weekend's that you don't get very often.
3. Working together to reach a common goal is not foreign to me but with my job and my life it's not something I have to do all the time. Often I'm called on to help someone else reach their goals, sometimes I enlist people to shove me down the line toward mine but that shared purpose is pretty cool. Standing in a room where everyone wants to create the exact same thing? Wonderful.
4. A sense of accomplishment comes with being told what's needed and being able to provide it.
5. A few people together with some great music make things sound very pretty. I like things that sound very pretty. It sounds different from inside the group than outside.
6. As a solo singer it's unusual to use the highest register. It's a good thing to have in a chord but it's a hard thing to emote with so you don't use it when you're on your own very much unless you're a fancy opera singer or Mariah Carey or something. Getting to toss out some of those really high notes was a treat. I love doing that.
7. This piece was used to cover the time in the ceremony when the happy couple had to go inside to sign their official documents. The room where that happened had windows open facing the deck where the ceremony was performed. In the middle of the song I looked up and the bride was peeking out, giving us a grin and the thumbs up. That's a pretty fucking awesome feeling right there.
8. I've been learning a lot of new music lately. It's fun but I don't always choose perfectly. This piece was such a treat it made me look at the whole musical with a more open mind. I loved the dynamics and harmonies in it and I never would have listened to it if I hadn't been asked to do this.
9. My mystery guest was a classmate of mine from my drama school days in London. So was the bride. We haven't had the opportunity to support each other directly in our acting and singing for too many years. I loved being sort of thrown back to those times.
10. Now, I don't say this very often but, I relished the challenge. Learning a new piece in a couple of days from notes to dynamics to performance? That's a fucking rush. I needed a rush. I needed it bad.
*I love having duties to discharge at events where I don't know a lot of people. It makes it easier for me to meet people and makes me feel less awkward when I have trouble breaking in to the social scene.
**Since I was singing I do not have any photos of our group doing that singing. This photo is one I took at the release of this CD. (P.S. I shot the photos for the cover art, too.)
Saturday, September 24, 2011
I may have failed to tell you that I'm going to Canada. Like, right now. Well, in about an hour anyway. A good friend is getting married. I am bringing a Mystery Guest so I've been reluctant to talk about the trip for fear I'd spill the beans.
So I guess what I'm saying is that we'll be having beans. But not until I get back from Canada tomorrow.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
While I listened I had stuck in my head the vision of a college classmate. Well after we'd both graduated we were working on a show together and one evening she was simply wrecked. She couldn't function and finally dissolved into tears and sobs so overwhelming that rehearsal had to be called off. She had been active in a campaign to stop a state execution in Texas and it, too, had been unsuccessful. Since I began to learn about Troy Davis I have held her in the forefront of my mind. I feared I should have been more compassionate toward her suffering as well as the person she was trying to save. I felt I'd dismissed her too readily and wondered what gave me the right to be so invested in someone on death row if I hadn't been invested in her and her work back then.
After a lot of rounds of "moonlight through the pines" I came to the conclusion that any march toward justice is slow. It's draining. We must be invested strongly in it but we must also save our strength for a marathon, not sprint it all out at once. Perhaps we are touched by one person at a time and that fuels our commitment to the movement. One of my classmate's people was the man who died all those years ago, maybe she's had others since. Troy Davis is mine for now, though I feel certain he won't be my last. I chose to focus on him, to carry him in my heart, for this time. I've always been against the death penalty but I haven't been active. As with the pro-choice movement I suspect I will never feel I am being active enough in the fight but you can bet that you'll be hearing a lot more from me on the subject.
This led me to thinking about the discussions here. I've chosen to disengage with some commenters who believe differently than I. I wonder about that sometimes. Is it wrong to walk away from difficult conversations? The only answer I've come to is, sometimes, yeah. In this case, though, I have disengaged from people from whom I have no reasonable expectation of change. Our discussions were less conversation and more parallel monologues. We'd heard everything the other person had to say on each subject and we were not convinced. I don't have the energy to run up against that wall every time. Nor should I. I can admit a battle is lost. It happens. It happened with Troy Davis last night. Now is the time to retreat, regroup and refocus efforts in directions where there is a reasonable expectation of change. Oh how I hope for change. Hoping, however, is not enough so work will follow.
"It's not where you're coming from/It's where you're going to."
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Like many of my friends I do some of my best thinking in the shower and after my shower I'd figured it out! The way Facebook keeps changing their interface reminds me of this very specific thing that pretty much every toddler on the planet does.
There's a point in human development when most kids need a bunch of fuel because they're growing so fast but have zero attention span so they rarely eat at a designated, seated meal time. As a result caregivers wind up just laying out an all day buffet. Every questioning look from the child is met with an offer of cheerios or bananas** or crackers or grapes or a piece of cheese or please-god-just-eat-something-with-your-brand-new-razor-sharp-teeth! Much of this food is ingested and goes on to create cells which help the child to develop beyond behavior reminiscent of a senior citizens pleasure cruise. Except that kids, on some level, recognize their bounty and toddlers are naturally pretty loving so they want to share it.
If you've spent any significant time with small children you've been in the delicate diplomatic position of being offered a piece of food that has spent the last thirty minutes alternating between sweaty fist and juicy gums. With a grin the size of Alaska the kid beams up at you while shoving this gourmet nibble halfway up your nose. If you have any reflexes left at all you can usually feint away before contact is made but you are then faced with the most intricate negotiation anyone ever attempts. You don't want the food to go to waste. You don't want the food to be rubbed all over your person. You sure as shit don't want to eat it so you have to get the toddler to eat it.
Half mashed browning banana still being shoved at you, closer to your neck now. Don't let your earring get caught in it.
"Thank you! I'm so full, though. Look at my belly. So full!"
Laughter. Some spit in it. Smell of ever-so-slightly rotting banana beginning to singe your nasal passages. Banana shoved at your face again. Some gets on your lips. You resist wiping it off immediately which makes you feel braver than a prisoner of war.
"Oh yummy!" Suppress a gag. "This is sooooooo goood!" Use flat of your hand on any dry, clear surface of the child's arm to gently press both arm and banana toward him. "Wow, yummy! You try. Go on, you eat it. Yeah! Yay for eating! Yay bananas! Yay! Yay! Yay!"
Wipe banana, tears and flop sweat from your face. Run!
This morning Mark Zuckerberg smeared banana all over my glasses.
Way back along, probably the first change in Facebook layout I remember, this concept of "Top Stories" came out. I didn't even look at it because it had taken me so long to get my feed to look the way I needed it to that I was afraid to press any buttons at all.
Then "Top Stories" was featured in another change. All the feeds were forcibly changed to show off their delightfulness and you had to learn to press a button to get to a "Most Recent," i.e. chronological, feed. Though I prefer everything to just stay where I left it I am actually capable of pressing a button so I did that every time and I got my chronological order and I stopped thinking about "Top Stories." I am a woman who unthinkingly stepped over two flat packed bookcases for several months rather than face the challenge of putting them together. Forgetting why I push that one extra button to get where I want to go is child's play to me, if you'll pardon the expression.
*I use Facebook primarily to keep in touch with people far away and people who I haven't seen in a long time. I got into using it because people I like use it and that was how I could be part of their daily goings on. They may or may not be people I interact with frequently. From what I can tell Top Stories is culled either randomly or by frequency of interaction with the other user. It may demote things if they have links that look spammy, too, and that's proven to be an imprecise process. Whatever way it goes it means I won't get things in a timely manner (things in Top Stories don't seem to be in the chronological feed so when things happened is unclear unless you're really reading the fine print) and I may not get updates at all from people I haven't spoken to in a while because I guess Facebook assumes that hiatus of a friendship is tantamount to cancellation.***
**I hate bananas. No, really, hate. Hate the smell, hate the taste, hate the texture. They make me gag. My greatest act of love for pretty much any kid is to assist them in the consumption of bananas and banana-related products. Toddlerdom is perilous to me.
***Many people are talking about moving to Google+ but there are grave concerns in sex writing circles (and others) about their full name requirement and the implications that has on privacy and therefore personal safety so it doesn't seem like a place I want to be yet. I'll be sad to lose contact with people if I leave Facebook and don't go to G+ but that's a first world problem and I'll survive. It may be that the future of Facebook and Google+ doesn't include my age group or people with my usage concerns and, as with Netflix, that's their prerogative. Far be it from me to interfere. I will still thank them for the hilarious image of Mark Zuckerberg smashing a banana in my face.****
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
10 Things Death Penalty
1. Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed by the state of Georgia tomorrow at 7pm.
2. 7 of the 9 eye witnesses to the crime have recanted their testimony identifying Mr. Davis.
3. There is no physical evidence to link Mr. Davis to this crime.
4. More than 630,000 letters were delivered to his parole board hearing last Friday by Amnesty International.
5. The parole board denied clemency in this last ditch effort to save Mr. Davis's life.
6. "Three jurors have signed affidavits saying that if they had all the information about Troy, they would not have voted to convict. One juror even arrived in person to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to say to their faces that she would not have voted to convict if she’d had the facts."
7. " Sylvester “Redd” Coles, bragged afterward about doing the shooting. Of the two witnesses who still maintain that Troy was the triggerman, one is Sylvester “Redd” Coles."
8. With this much doubt in the case it seems to me, admittedly an opponent of the death penalty, that supporters of the it would be committed to having this conviction overturned before the execution because it is a whole quiver of arrows in the arsenal of we opponents.
9. The crime in question occurred in 1989. Mr. Davis has been a prisoner of the state for 22 years.
10. In Georgia the governor has no power to stay executions. With the parole board hearing concluded there are no other options for clemency. Mr. Davis will die tomorrow shortly after 7pm. In your prayers and thoughts and meditations the next two days I ask you to keep him in your thoughts.
This is why the death penalty option does not work.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Here is my short version review: Everyone should read this book.
Here is the longer version (with some spoilers but as few as I can manage):
Little Brother is, in essence, a magnified re-telling of the story of living in New York during and after September 11, 2001. For comfort's sake Doctorow never says that and he sets it in San Francisco but that's what it is. It was entirely coincidental, and perhaps not terribly smart, that I read it before, during and after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 while living in New York but I'm not sorry I did.
The main character, Marcus Yallow, is a teenager who is accidentally near a catastrophic bombing of the Bay Bridge and is caught up in the subsequent law enforcement sweep of the area. His treatment in jail and his reaction, nay his actions, after his release are the bones of the story. The flesh on those bones is a remarkably thorough yet accessible lesson on the benefits and disadvantages of both activism and celebrity. You'd think that might be too heavy a burden to lay on the shoulders of a fictional 17-year-old but Yallow manages to be believable while accomplishing what our real world has not in terms of freedom fighting. I will say, though, that had I not visited San Francisco before reading Little Brother I might have found him hard to swallow. Along with its rich history of activism the city cultivates the kind of men and women who are ass kicking and name taking without being disconnected from their more vulnerable emotions. Doctorow reveals all manner of joy and pain in Yallow without making him seem foolish or disingenuous.
noted on the 10th anniversary of the attacks Marcus Yallow says, "In the telling, it receded into the distance." That's not a distance I am yet ready to engage. On the other hand, since I believe that telling our stories is vitally important to bettering our world, I leak bits and pieces out when it seems that keeping them to myself is doing more harm than good.
For over a year after September 11th I walked daily past National Guardsmen, federal snipers and extra security personnel. I saw more automatic weapons and long range weaponry in that year than in all the years before it put together. To this day NYPD puts up random "check points" in subways where they are legally allowed to "randomly" search the belongings of transit riders. I have never been searched. I am a white, female adult. For many months after the attacks office buildings made you pass through metal detectors or have your bags scanned to enter, including Citicorp Center, a popular mall equivalent in a posh, businessy part of midtown. I mention only a small cross section of measures taken to "ensure public safety."
Not one of these measures has ever made me feel safe. Not safe in general and not safer than before. If anything they make me feel less safe. A knot of National Guardsmen at a popular arena make me tense in anticipation of the coming attack because, they know as well as I do, there is nothing their lingering presence can do to prevent it. It will be nice, I suppose, to have them immediately on scene to assist in the clean up but let's be sure we know that's what they're there for. A thinking person, seeing these impotent measures being taken, cannot help but analyze them, break them down and line them up against the arguable brilliance of a group of angry, motivated men on September 11, 2001. One side of the line thinks one step ahead of the race, one yard beyond the goal, one inch outside the envelope. That is not the side of random bag searches, barefoot strolls through metal detectors, and civil liberties violations.
But don't take my word for it. Take Cory Doctorow's. I make it sound all sober and philosophical and academic. He knits a rollicking adventure out of computer programming, cryptography and rampant teenage hormones. (Please stay tuned in the coming days for my praise of his handling of teenage sexuality over at Kizz & Tell.) I, who stumbled through Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon like the addled leading the blind, was able to follow the brilliant and complex building of a whole new, beautifully rebellious internet by this sweet, kind idiot of a boy, Marcus Yallow, in the name of freedom, justice and the American Way.
Thank you Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi for turning me on to this book. Thank you Clinton Hill Library for stocking it. Thank you Cory Doctorow, of course, for writing a book that so respectfully addresses so much that breaks my heart and boils my blood about the aftermath of 9/11. Most of all, though, thank you Marcus Yallow for being a smart, brave example to all of us, even though you are imprisoned between the covers of a book.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It has slowly come to my attention that I may have used relief as a prompt before. Oh well! We're throwing caution to the winds around here. If you've ever seen these pictures before it's because they're twice as awesome! Guaranteed.
Click links. Comment. Scroll Down. Enter. Love. Click shutters. Share. And stuff.
Zeldapinn has gone back to school, grad school, this fall. Studying can be draining and this is how she finds relief. (For the record there were photos submitted of alcohol as relief but, interestingly, these four were more exciting for me.)
lshykula's other submission since her elder son deserved the sympathy of viewers.
My friend, Matt, ordered this lobster paella for a group of us while I was in San Francisco last month. There is not enough paella in my life and woefully little lobster paella.
I read this quote today about how "the discovery of America" is inaccurate. So true! Yet, DISCOVER is a great prompt for a photo (or an essay, or an artist's date). I decree that it shall be our prompt. Remember to interpret that any way you please.
Please submit your photos to our Flickr Pool by 9am on Tuesday September 27 for posting on Wednesday September 28. Email me with questions: isabeau6 at hotmail dot com. Tag with PhotoChallenge and RELIEF if you can, please. Have fun!
The photo challenge post is a little complicated today, as is my life, so it's going to be late. In the mean time, though, I need to ask you to spoil your pets.
Steph, who adopted a hilarious little old man of a dachsund last year, asked me to point you to The Long & The Short of It. The proprieters had to let go of one of their mascot dogs, Maggie, yesterday after discovering that the cancer had taken her body over.
Treats please. For everyone. For doing what they do best; breathing, napping, staring, running, walking, standing, drooling. At least one treat for each activity. At least.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Last week on the very same day two ladies from two different states both said to me, "So, what are you thinking about the fall TV season?" This, for JRH, Chili and anyone else who cares, is how I'm tackling the fall grid. (I used a grid I can't find now but I found it far more user-friendly than the TV Guide one. Sorry!) New shows are marked with an asterisk.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Last week, in the midst of some of the heaviest rain, I went out to give the dog his final soggy pee before bed and there was a hubbub in the guard's booth. You see, to get to any of the six buildings on my side of the apartment complex you have to go into the booth and sign in or use your key to be let through one of the locked doors to one side or the other of the courtyard. The guards we have now are very strict about this because that's what we pay them for. I have mixed feelings about it but it's the rule the majority has agreed to and I understand why we're doing it and things have been blessedly quieter around the joint since they started enforcing it. Lest you think the rule is only enforced for darker complexioned residents I will furnish a healthy rant upon request about the number of times I've struggled with up to 2 dogs, up to 3 shopping bags, my keys and a coat and they've let me open the ding dang door all by my lonesome, not even holding it open after I'd unlocked it so I could get through with my last, frayed shred of dignity still clinging to the bottom of my shoe. Anyway, from what the grapevine has told me the hubbub was about a whole snarl of stupid around that process. Keep in mind that none of this is from the mouths of eyewitnesses but it does come from two separate independent sources that I trust.
Apparently a young man (late teens, early twenties) who was born and raised in the complex came in around 10:30 that night and didn't have his key. He asked to be let in and the guard told him that he had to sign in and they would open the door for him. For whatever reason he took offense and got angry. He is, I'm told, over six feet tall and nears 250lbs. As the argument escalated he punched the guard, an older man in his late 50s or early 60s who, while firm, rarely raises his voice but at this point in the proceedings stabbed the kid with a penknife.
Stupid, right? All of it just as stupid as stupid can be.
The young man fled and had to be sought and captured. At the height of the search there were witnesses, building maintenance personnel and four police officers working the scene. The kid's mother was escorted out of her home at 11pm in the pouring rain to help. As it stands now the guard is suspended, probably fired, and being charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The young resident was hospitalized for his injury, is being charged with assault and eviction proceedings have begun for him, his brother and his mother.
The entire interaction was taped by our relatively new security cameras for easy playback. The bare facts of it are undeniable, though I assume there is no audio. We aren't made of money after all. From my third hand view everyone is at fault here. Extremely early in the proceedings anger, fear and pride got on the bandwagon and those asshats always screw up the party.
It may or may not be a stupid rule but it's been in place for a long time and by all accounts this young man is a smart, hardworking citizen so it can't have come as a surprise to him that they'd ask him to sign in. Also, as to smart, there isn't anything preventing him from signing in as T. Swift or K. West or D. Motherfucking-Duck for that matter. Instead he chose to let his anger get the better of him and to let the entire incident escalate out of control. Even if it had been confined to fisticuffs the outcome would be similar.
The guard is taking public transportation to a late shift security guard job that probably pays over minimum wage by a matter of pennies. He may or may not have known the kid by sight but, given the cameras getting every moment, he could, I suppose, have let the kid in and filed an incident report. Perhaps he'd be fired for that, I don't know what rules he's held to. As things progressed he was put in a position that must have been extremely frightening. Now, more than likely, he's out of a job and who knows how that's going to impact him but I'm guessing that mounting a legal defense and time off for court appearances and a concealed weapon charge aren't going to do anything for whatever nest egg he may have.
Here's where I'd like to be able to get out of my goddamned box thinking. To have this guy lose his job and to have an entire family evicted seems like a compounding of the stupidity that started that night. By all accounts both perpetrators are decent, law-abiding humans who fucked up a la mode on a shitty, rainy, aggravating night last week.
But I can't see how it can go down any differently and I fucking hate that.