Friday, September 30, 2016

Banned Books are Increasingly Diverse Books

I have not forgotten that it is Banned Books Week, and, as such, want to point to this article that notes the change in books getting challenged more often reflects more and more books that are or are perceived to be about homosexuality. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. I've talked before about the place daytime soaps had in my childhood, so I was saddened to hear of the passing of Agnes Nixon, who created so many of them. 
2. Tristina Wright wrote about her recent experience with VOYA magazine concerning a bi-phobic book review. I cannot express how sad I am that this resource for librarians and other deciders of kid lit buying has turned out to be both problematic, and unable to grow or learn from these issues. 
3. And the teen birth rate continues to fall, due to a combination of lower rates of teen sex, higher rates of more effective contraception, and an assist from shows about teen pregnancy. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Bookish Weekend

Friday night I managed to locate a banned book hidden in the city.  (If by hidden we understand we mean placed face out on a bookshelf in the Reading Room at the Petworth Citizen.) So I felt that was a good omen for the bookish weekend ahead.  
Saturday was the National Book Festival.  Kwame Alexander brought musical accompaniment that he used while talking abut wanted to write a story about a kid who didn't like words until he met a cool librarian. 
Meg Medina talked about her memories of growing up during the Son of Sam summer, and how she realized that pervasive worry would be applicable to today's kids who deal with shooter drills.  Shannon Hale talked about her inspiration for the Princess in Black series, the idea of an unlikely superhero.  She also brought kids on stage to create their own unlikely superheroes.  And kids, I would read the tales of Ultimate Fishie.  Call me.  
Gene Luen Yang spoke with NPR Books' Petra Mayer about getting the call about the genius grant (in his car, about to go to Panera) and that with the New Superman series, he wanted to mimic early Clark Kent's journey from being a bully who misused his superstrength, to the stand up guy we think of today.  
Representative John Lewis talked about raising chickens, and how he felt a little bad now about swapping out the eggs the hens were sitting on.  He may also have commented on chickens being better listeners and more productive than some Congress people. Andrew Aydin talked about going from having Hill staffers make fun of his love of comics, to being a co-author of a graphic novel with Lewis.  He also said his mother had always advised him to stay clean shaven, but given the growing anti-Muslim sentiment, he had grown a beard to try and make use of his position of privilege as a known safe person. 
The Books to Movies panel had the Washington Post's Monica Hesse interviewing Patrick Ness, Katherine Paterson, and David L. Paterson.  Ness wrote A Monster Calls on spec (ie, with no other funding and such in place).  He and David talked about the process of encapsulating a book into a movie, that the script is going to be much shorter, so you have to figure out where to cut, and where you can have the visuals do a lot of the work.  we saw clips of each, and rumors that I teared up are just that, rumors. 
Then I went to the Poetry Slam.  They had brought six teens from across the country to compete and we weren't given their team affiliations until the end, but those Indiana teens brought it. They were asked to use a books or reading theme. Some went very specific, some went very personal, and the crowd was great too.  They covered things street harassment, teacher expectations, parents who didn't understand their educational drive, LGBTQ rights, heartbreak, and we had been advised that snapping while a poet was on was a method we could use that shouldn't break their flow, and my snapping fingers were sore at the end.  
Sunday, I went to the final day of the Baltimore Book Festival.  
I hung out primarily at the Maryland Romance Writers tent and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers tent.  I confess my ability to track names and such had deteriorated a bit, but I caught some discussions about historical romance, paranormal romance, sci-fi heroines, and romance tropes. The Baltimore Book Fest is right along the Harbor and there's a variety of food, so it was a great end to the weekend.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Project Runway is Back

Yeah, I know, it was back last week too.  I have some early favorites, but despite the fact that this is the 15th season of Project Runway Original Recipe which means not only are there 15 seasons of this kind of "Project Runway" to watch, there are also umpteen all-stars, kids, Under the Gunn, and other variations.  Oh, and you could watch practically any other competitive reality show ever to get a sense of the following things: 
You will work in a cramped space.  Or for a while you will.  As they eliminate folks it will get less cramped. 
You will live in shared apartments with the same people you spent all day working next to. 
You will have unrealistic timetables to complete your work. 
You will have limited budgets. 
You will have to regularly discuss your life or your fellow designer's lives. 
You will be tired. 
You will be asked to work with things that are not fabric. 
And yet, they were surprised, I mean maybe they only showed the clips of the designers willing to play along and pretend to be surprised, but they were surprised to enter a room fill with stuff for the first party and be told, ha, this is your first challenge.  Yes, sometimes they have just had an opening cocktail.  Not in a room with balloons, and bags and pillows. And the first challenge being the first meeting with Heidi and Tim has happened like eight times.  So, even if you only had time to watch one season, chances were good you saw this. 
But, I give them credit, so far no one has sent a naked model down the runway.  So there's that. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. The question has been raised if police offices can or should offer medical assistance to those they have shot. Yes, I'm sad we are asking this question, but the answers about differing requirements for first aid training and who pays for first aid kits are illuminating. 
2. This article about the push for prison abolition had some food for thought. 
3. "Speechless" was one of the bright spots in my week this week, and I enjoyed this interview with the creator about his choice to hire a disabled actor to play a disabled character.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Link to: The Five Things I need from White People Right Now

The saddest thing about this post from Derrick L. Weston, is that it is already one highly visible police shooting behind. And I am aware that DC has it's own recent police officer onvolved shooting that has not garnered quite as much national attention. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sports Romance and the Handling of the Audience

A few weeks back, there was an article about sports romance.  In it, there was mention that while plentiful, there is less sports romance featuring athletes of color, which given the current makeup of quite a few sports in the US, is out of sync.  As often happens, folks discussed this on Twitter.  And some folks showed up mad.  They said they were authors of sports romance and if they wanted to write about white people they could.  That they had happy publishers and happy readers and everyone should stop attacking them.  And buy their next book. 
So, let's unpack this.  
As writers, particularly genre fiction writers, there are a lot of thinkpieces afoot.  Most of them are a bit click baity, a little pearl clutchy, and are just there to poo-poo the thing that kids and/or women are reading.  So, I understand that when an article comes out about the thing you write, you may be predisposed to assume it is attacking you. 
Saying many of the books in a sub-genre feature white main characters is not an attack.  I mean, I guess, if it were untrue it would be an attack, but right now, there are two things working against that.  Most books in all categories are about white people.  Above and beyond the racial makeup of our country. And in the NFL, which happens to be the sport I see the most sports romance about, there are significantly more black players than white players. (Numbers for several pro sports here.) 
If your books do feature characters of color, it's still not an attack.  Because this is a big picture statement.  Just like if I said there was more heterosexual romance than queer, I'm not saying there isn't queer romance, I'm saying the numbers tilt towards heterosexuals in a way that is out of sync with the numbers in real life. 
If your books do not feature characters of color you may feel like this is an attack. It isn't.  Nor is saying, I find books that feature unrealistically white sports teams hard to read.  People saying there's a thing they can't get over in your books isn't aimed at you. If I wrote a vampire book and someone said, oh, I can't read vampires because my babysitter tortured me for three years with vampire stories*, I wouldn't say, oh but my vampires are really good.  I would say, okay, you are not my reader.  At least not for this story. 
And if it still feels like such a statement is aimed at you the author, then maybe you should look inside yourself and figure out why.  Do you maybe feel like you have been failing to represent fully in your fictional world?  If so, you can work on that.  
Also, it's becoming really common to see folks counter any criticism as being part of the call out culture, even though, jumping in people's mentions to tell them your books are just fine with all their white characters is actually more of an attack than the person who said, I can't read a sports books that ignores the existence of athletes of color.  These are separate things.  Yes, there is a rise in people calling out certain behaviors.  Sometimes those calls get vicious.  Painting all criticism as the same, in fact, attempting to imply that noting there are white characters is even close to calling someone out, is not only untrue, it's also an insidious attempt to turn people to your side and get them to attack others.  
You can write books with white characters.  There are just scads of data that prove no one has had any trouble getting books published with white characters.  No one said you had to stop writing white characters.  But it does absolutely imply that you are cherry picking.  Look, you were the one who created a world with only white characters.  You can keep on doing that.  Just like I could write a book series with only red headed vampires. (Sorry, vampires, I do seem to be picking on you today.)  Anyone who showed up and notes that I only have red headed vampires isn't attacking me.  They are noting.  I can go add a brunette vampire or not.  I can choose to explain why my vampires all have red hair or not.  But expecting readers not to notice is not only silly, it implies I hope my readers don't pay attention to things.  

*Made up example. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sing It On - Season 2 Episode 8 Finals!

(Note, the exclamation point is the show's, not that I'm not excited.) 
Our previouslies are all Faux Paz - reminding us that they had auditions, placed 2nd in the quarterfinals, 1st in semifinals, and now are headed to finals in New York.
It's 3 days to finals and the last rehearsal. Lynique says they have four alumni sitting in to provide critique, including Michael who we have seen before. Josh is still having 
vocal issues. He later mentions it was bronchitis, and just as a note, while the Fauz Paz had an early quarterfinal in January, their semifinals were in March, and the finals 
were in April, so it has only been a few weeks.  And a few weeks where I'm guessing he has not really been resting his voice as much as might be recommended. 
They do a run through and the alums cleverly ask them what they thought of their performance first. The group has some concerns about key and tempo. The alums all agree that 
Lynique's solo is incredible, but agree that there are some tempo, key, and dynamics issues in the set. Chris says he had to look away during "Dog Days", it was just too emotional.
David says hey are thrilled "Dog Days" is working, but are worried about the rest of the set. 

Mitul tells the group NYC will be a lot, look out for each other, self care. Lynique says they need to remember there are folks who have never seen this set, who need to feel 
the pain, the emotion., the journey, that this set can bring. 

Later, Mitul and Lynique are gathered for our grooming portion of this episode - they are getting manicures. Lynique reminds the camera that this is her last ICCA's. She asks 
Mitul if he's worried about Josh. He's worried that Josh might be worried about Josh. Mitul asks her about "Dog Days". She says she's had a tough week, missing her mom a lot. 
She would rather not cry on stage, she wants to be in control of the emotion she delivers. Mitul says Lynique is strong, but its tough to watch her go through this.

One day to go - and the party bus is here. David is hyped. Shanto asks them what if they won and there is a lot of-oh, shush, don't say that, don't jinx it. Josh says last year 
they made it to finals and "pooped on stage''- they weren't ready. Mitul says the soloists were great last year, but the rest of the group was not ready. Lynique agrees it was 
not a good performance. Josh is feeling good, tells the camera he is nervous, but knows that half of this is a mind game. David says he's heard Josh practicing in the shower, leading another member to ask if they shower together. They laugh and say no. Ah. Communal dorm showers. Do. Not. Miss.

They arrive in NYC. Josh tells his phone camera he is nervous. Lucas-brushing his teeth pops in to indicate he is fine. Todd has had four dreams that they won and seventeen 
where they lost.Todd and David, having been to finals before, aren't too nervous. Lucas' calm seems to be freaking Josh out.
On the morning of - Lynique and Mitul are calm. They make their way down to the theater. ICCA Executive Director Amanda Newman says its a special year because
so many groups are new to finals. They introduce all the groups and the Faux Paz tell us a little about them.  

Central winners, Carnegie Mellon University's Originals - Mitul says they are all male, known for unique arrangements and robotic choreography. 
Wild Card winners, Florida State University's All-Night Yahtzee (ANY) - Lynique says they used to go up against each other in the South region, and ANY usually won.
Northwest winners, University of Oregon's Divisi - Lynique says "Pitch Perfect" was based on them. They are an all female group.
Great Lakes winners, Oakland University's Gold Vibrations - Josh says they are new kids but already have a global record deal.
Mid-Atlantic winners, University of Maryland's Faux Paz. Hey, I've heard of those guys!
Midwest winners, Washington University of St. Louis' Mosaic Whispers - Mitul says they have high energy solos and hot choreography.
Southwest winners, Chapman University's SoundCheck - Lynique says they have jazzy fusion sound.
South winners, University of Central Florida's Voicebox - Dave says they are a triple threat having won awards at their semifinal for arrangement, choreography, and solos. 
Northeast winners, Boston University's BosTones - Josh says they are from the most competitive region.
United Kingdom winners, Imperial College of London's Techtonics - Lynique says they have come a long way for this. They are also an all male group.

It's time for order picking-Dave picks 5th for the Faux Paz. Michael from ANY picks 3rd. And the gentleman from the Techtonics picks 1st.

The Faux Paz head to their dressing room. Suffice it to say that they all will mention a few more times that they want to redeem last year's performance. 
It's sound check time.  Josh has asked Michael to get there early enough to hear sound check. They are still worried about Josh's solo. Post soundcheck, Michael talks about checkpoints, make sure not to push too sharp, too loud, too fast. Josh mentions that Michael noted he was pushing his voice too hard at points and pushing the group sharp, that watching their dynamics might help with that.  The quieter the quiet parts are, the less loud the loud parts can be in contrast. 

And it's time. Amanda introduces the emcees Cooper and Courtney. And while, we get to see a little more of each group this time around, it is still snippets, knowing that most of these groups are doing three to four songs, we're not even getting snippets of the whole set.  

The Techtonics sing Queen's "Bicycle Race" which seems energetic and playful. They also sing Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down" which is more emotional.  (Also it looks like they went all British thematically.) 
Mosaic Whispers sing Sia's "Elastic Heart". 
ANY sings Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabelo's "I Know What You Did Last Summer" which is very high energy. 
Divisi sings Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl". 

Lynique takes a moment. She knows her mom is with her. They gather up, and do some chanting led by David to get in the zone. Time for the Faux Paz.
We see Josh's solo in Panic! At the Disco's "Emperor's New Clothes." He sounds much stronger than he did at semifinals, and the group overall seems to be less tentative on the song. They do "Mad World" by Tears for Fears. Mitul says in one of the quiet moments he could hear an audience member say, "Holy bleep" so he knew it wasn't just him feeling like they were killing it.  And then Florence and the Machine's "The Dog Days Are Over." Lynique says she could feel the audience's surprise and attention, as she starts the song.  Lynique sounds as strong and amazing as she has each time we've seen her do this solo.  Michael is seated near her dad in the audience, and they are both looking emotional, her dad lifts a praise hand. Michael and Lynique's dad both jump to their feet at the end, and it looks like a lot of the audience joins them. 
Josh says they could not have done better.

SoundCheck sings Fall Out Boy's "Centuries". 
The Bostones sing Ella Eyre's "If I Go". 
Gold Vibrations sing Tori Kelly's "Expensive". 
The Originals sing Demi Lovato's "Stone Cold" and Nick Jonas' "Levels". 

Mitul is noticing that if the Faux Paz had a weakness, it was innovative choreography. Lynique is feeling like their chance of winning is dwindling as she watches the competition.

And it's time for our video message from John Legend, who thanks all the groups and all the a cappella fans.

And now we have the results. They start with the special awards. There are two outstanding soloist awards - Ramsey Papp of the Originals and Lynique Webster of the Faux Paz. Lynique is freaking out that her dad got to see this.  

And the top three groups. 
3rd - Faux Paz
2nd - Originals
1st - Techtonics

I just want to note that the Techtonics went first. So I think we can dispense with some of this order picking superstition. 

Lynique says over 400 groups competed and they got 3rd. Mitul kind of thinks they should have gotten second, but 3rd is so good. Josh has so many emotions. Backstage they note since England won, they are top two in the US. Mitul has family there. He is proud of adding to the Faux Paz legacy.

All the groups gather on stage and sing Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with somebody" with Lynique and Ramsey and several other soloists in a giant group number.  And that's it for this season. 

If you want to see the numeric scores, or the other special awards not mentioned in the episode, you can go here

There is a wonderful recap of the finals here, by someone who got to see the whole thing, not just the TV version, if you want a more detailed look at the performances. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. Michael Mammay wrote about how getting people's race or culture right is like getting being a soldier right.  
2. A return to a favorite subject, ie, the internet is not secret, and if you ask for legal advice on the internet by describing the ill advised actions you made, it can and likely will be used against you. 
3. I found this story through a fellow alum, who is also interviewed, about how mixed culture parents might not have the experience of being other themselves, or other as a child, to appreciate some of the experiences their child has. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

7 Things About Flags, Anthems, and Protest

1. It's supposed to be inconvenient. Protests don't all happen on weekend mornings with permits submitted. Not just because that costs money and requires time and attention, but, because even for me, who lives in a hometown where everybody comes to protest, it's all too easy to ignore that. Those gatherings are still valuable, I'm not suggesting that the March on Washington, for example, was a waste of time, but those often bring attention primarily to those already committed. So joining hands and getting arrested, or blocking roads during rush hour are tactics often employed because they make news and therefore draw attention of those not necessarily already paying attention.

2. The idea that protesting the death of people is inappropriate during a tribute to the death of people, well, I'm not sure that's good logic at all there.

3. But, actually the national anthem isn't a tribute to fallen soldiers anything more than anything else is.

4. We stand to salute the flag not the song. I bring this up because people keep saying while that song is playing which indicates that people don't even fully understand the tradition they are objecting to having altered.

5. We have developed a tradition of playing anthems at sports games. It is not because sports have anything actually to do with patriotism (except possibly during the Olympics).

6. It's a clever marketing scheme by the military. There's a reason there's always a color guard there.  So, it is essentially an ad.  You are objecting to the interruption of an ad.

7. You are of course free to stop watching sports. You are free to object to people protesting in the middle of your entertainment. But when you try to claim the moral high ground for leaving, well, check that that horse has legs.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Sing It On Season 2 Episode 7 Northeast Semifinals

We start at University of Maryland (UMD) with the Faux Paz who are still backstage celebrating their semifinal win.  Lynique is so hyped. Her family comes backstage to congratulate them. And to take Lynique back with them so she can go to church with them in the morning. Josh is still sounding hoarse, but is so grateful his vocal issues didn't cost them a shot at finals.

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) Craig from the Hexachords is excited about their win, but tells the group they were only 7 points ahead of Distilled Harmony and 11 points ahead of fellow UMass group S#arp Attitude.  So he thinks big changes are called for because semifinals will be tougher.  He wants to cut "So Emotional" and "Roller Coaster".  Brandon immediately jumps in that he thinks "Rollercoaster" (where he has a solo) could be amped up with further tweaking. Craig tells the camera that Brandon's transitions to falsetto were not consistent.  He tells the group that Katie is there strongest soloist and he wants to start the set with her. Linnea - half joking - says guess we know who Craig's favorite is. He responds, not seeming to be joking, it's Katie. Katie looks a little uncomfortable. I think she's fine being the strongest soloist, but a little more aware of the tension. None of this seems like group breaking tension, they are just adjusting quickly to a lot of change.  
Craig wants to lead the set with "Expensive." Brandon doesn't think "Expensive" is competition ready. Craig says with this size group he wants to feature everyone so wants to give song to Linnea. Craig seems to be working on a Brandon got a solo for quarters, so Linnea gets one for semis, which is an interesting tactic. It's certainly the kind of thinking that would really only be feasible with a very small group. Linnea notes big deal to solo. Katie realizes that this means new choreography. Craig does say that they can run back through the song in rehearsal and revisit later. 

Taryn has taken a few of the S#arps to the lake for a retreat. Sam is less than thrilled that this involves boating - so sits in the middle while Archie and Taryn paddle the canoe. Melinda joins them post boating. Taryn has a surprise for Archie since Archie will be the new music director - it's a big binder of all their arrangements. Archie thanks her. Archie is embarrassed about her post-loss meltdown, but Taryn says it shows her passion. Sam says she knows the group is in good hands. 

Sam tells them she was "in nature" all day so now wants a drinking game. And she has brought a Pin the Junk on the Hunk game. They are all happy drunk.

The Hexachords are running through whole set for the first time. Sam shows up to help them with their choreography as promised. Sam teaches them to tooch. She is particularly encouraging them to bring the sexy with this new set. Sam tells them she thinks if they bring it, they will win, and her opinion matters most.

Later that evening the S#arps are gathering for Sam's birthday.  She tells them that the Hexachords have changed up everything. Archie brings a Happy Birthday Aca-bitch cake.

In rehearsal for the Hexachords, Craig is nervous. Linnea isn't yet, but says she will be. Craig tells the camera he has to be fearless for the group.

And we're in Boston for the semifinals, so a shorter trip this time. Katie notes that all the other groups are big. And it's a big hall. Craig and Matt have not arrived. Katie, Brandon, Xander, and Linnea are there, joking about being Hexachords not quadsichords. Katie tries to call but Craig and Matt do make it before things start.
Linnea climbs into the stage - to the horror of the emcee who explains she would like them to use the steps.  It's time for performance order picking. Linnea picks 3rd. They show us all the other groups picking which was different but it turns out the ten was missing from the bag.  To everyone's apparent horror, they now have to redraw. Linnea draws 9th.
Distilled Harmony is going 6th- ie the beginning of second half.
Linnea decided a new outfit would help her bring the sexy-so has a corset top and shorts. The group approves. 

S#arps Melinda, Taryn, Archie, Sam, are here to cheer them on. 

We see snippets of:

Northeastern University's Distilled Harmony singing Vance Joy's "The Fire and the Flood"
Northeastern University's Unisons singing Demi Lovato's ''Confident"
Boston University's The Bostones singing Ella Eyre's "If I Go"

Craig says this could be their last ICCA. 

The Hexachords go onstage, and again this performance is broken up with talking heads and voiceovers.  Katie has a powerhouse of a solo on Tori Kelly's "Expensive" and Brandon, as he was promised, gets a featured moment. Linnea brings a smoky alto to Nina Simone's ''Feeling Good". It is again really hard to tell through my TV, but they don't sound like just six people. Also, although Brandon's high tenor is probably helping with this, they don't sound like four guys and two gals, the sound is very balanced.  The crowd seems incredibly responsive to their set. 
Offstage Brandon says it was so much fun. Linnea doesn't know how to feel. Linnea tells them that after quarters she was sure they had won and this time she doesn't know.  

We stop in at UMD where the Faux Paz are having a Jenga Truth or Dare game to bond before finals. Mitul keeps pulling blocks that say "Take a shot and pull another block." There is a disclaimer for underage participants, who are passing their drinking challenges to Mitul. Mitul feels they are picking on him.  

And we're back with the Hexachords because the results are in.
3rd - the Hexachords
2nd - Distilled Harmony
1st - The Bostones 

Craig sorry they won't go to finals. Brandon is sad. Linnea says 3rd is still really good. They are sad, but trying to focus on how great it went. They gather in a group hug. They thank Craig. He tells them he does it for them. Katie (who is shorter) breaks up the group hug noting there are so many smells.
The S#arps come back to congratulate them. Melinda says their sound was amazing and it was great for the greater community to hear it.
Craig is pondering going pro - a la Pentatonix.

Next week is finals. And while the Hexachords would be eligible for the wild card round, as you may suspect since we have only one episode left, they are not our wild card winners.  But, viewers from last year may be happy to see that the winner is FSU's All Night Yahtzee.  So perhaps we will get a glimpse of them next week. 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. Warning, politics ahead, but when a presidential candidate thanks someone for writing a series about the realities of living with genital herpes, something, as the article points out that affects 1 in six Americans, I'm going to take note. 
2. Local elephant wears Tevas
3. Fans at one Scottish football stadium are using Palestinian flags to make a point. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

7 Things In the NFL that I Did Not See Get This Level of Media Coverage

Look, the NFL is problematic.  I wrote this open letter to football a few years ago. None of those issues have gone away. And certainly we get a lot of coverage of often silly things especially when it's still pre-season and we can't really convince ourselves those games are anything other than glamorous practice. 
But this level of coverage, and the way just about ever current and former player has been asked to weigh in is unprecedented. A small list below of things that have not received this intense level of coverage. 
Also, as you may suspect, trigger warnings for racism and domestic and sexual violence as we move ahead. 
1. Rape.  Sexual assault. There are many players with rumors.  There are numerous players with allegations.  And there are plenty with for real actions against them. 
2. Domestic violence.  It is rampant.  And quickly swept under the rug.  And only dealt with after terrible outcry, and we mean dealt with, as in press conferences, adorable donations, and no actual change. 
3. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  Which it turns out to cause, among other things, depression, erratic behavior, and possibly violence.  So, yeah, other than we don't have a good solution, it may turn out to be counter to the NFL's interests to solve it.  This is the list Wikipedia has of known and suspected players affected.  It is staggering. 
4. Cheating.  We keep getting stories of coaches illegally taping other players, offering bounties for causing injury, and sure, every once in a while, a team gets fined, a coach or player gets suspended for a bit, but eh.  
5. Racist team names.  And I don't just mean my hometown team, although certainly that is the most egregious one.  See also racist mascots. 
6. Substance abuse. I have seen the most passing mention to the idea that as we learn more about CTE we might see that a lot of this substance abuse is self medication, since most of the known stuff is not performance enhancing. But we may never know they way the coverage is going. 
7. Money problems.  And the relationship to plucking kids out of college giving them ridiculous amounts of money and no skills to handle such a thing.  Or awareness of how safe sex procedures might reduce the liklihood that you'll be paying child support to four different women and how that cuts into your pension. 
Also, just FYI, there's a website that tracks NFL arrests.  So, yeah. 
Now, it occurs to me that the only thing I can think of that maybe came close to the level of coverage is Michael Vick's dog fighting charges.  He has served his time and been brought back into the league and played on.  
The sad thing for Colin Kaepernick is that he has done nothing wrong, and yet this small tiny act has gotten incredible amounts of attention, and if he stops, if he keeps going, it almost doesn't matter.  So much of the discussion is about what he did, and not why.  I wish him and others the best of luck in directing the conversation toward the issues in our country that make both protesting such a huge firestorm.  Because yes, it is not lost on me, that we are mostly talking about who stood when, not why.  Because why is hard.
It does not interfere with my loyalties at all to also be a 49ers fan this year. But I'm also going to keep working to address some of the issues that might encourage a player to sit down or take a knee during the anthem. 

Friday, September 02, 2016

Sing it On Season 2 Episode 6 Mid-Atlantic Semifinals

We start in Maryland at UMD with the Faux Paz. Mitul reminds us they got second place at quarterfinals, so almost didn't make it to semifinals. David says they want to be the best and right now they are not even the best on campus (given Pandemonium's win at quarterfinals).

Lynique says at semifinals they have weeded out the duds and are left with only the gold. She talks again about how she channels her mom when she sings "Dog Days Are Over".  She says her mom was not a singer, but would say that keying into the emotion of the song was the most important part.  We see pictures on Lynique's family as she explains her mother held on through the illness for so long but eventually had to let go. In rehearsal she finishes the song and burst into tears.  The group moves to hug her.  Josh says the emotion they were channeling was so amazing even he stopped for a moment, and they want to do that to win.

In Pennsylvania, Off the Beat (OTB) is rehearsing also.  Jasmine wants to focus on the choreography.  Rohan reminds us they came in second at quarterfinals and last year the Faux Paz knocked them out at semifinals.

Brian wants to sing a little, is worried they need to get the music down pat. Rohan wants to rest. Brian wants to practice the dynamics too. Jasmine decides those who feel they are in good vocal health can sing softly so as not to wear their voices out. They are practicing in front of a mirror and she asks them to make sure their expressions match the emotions of the song.

Rohan is worried their voices are shot.

Back in Maryland, Lynique is having a family dinner with her dad and her sister.  They have set a place at the table for her mom also. Her dad asks if the Faux Paz are ready.  Lynique explains that with her mom sick, her dad and sister couldn't be at semifinals last year, but they'll be there this year.

The Faux Paz are on a bus to Philadelphia for semifinals (so they had to travel a little more this round).  Apparently the magic of Facebook has alerted the Faux Paz that OTB has changed their set for semifinals and there is speculation as to what they may have done.  Josh says the Faux Paz will be fine because nothing could be worse than Rohan's voice crack.  (Hmm.)  David tells us the Mid-Atlantic region is stacked with nationally known groups. 

OTB arrives at the theater. Jasmine likes the Faux Paz but thinks that any group could take this. Rohan says that the Faux Paz, OTB, and Vocal Point all got second in their quarterfinals, the rest of these groups are winners of their round.

It's time for performance order picking.  Jasmine says she doesn't actually think it matters what number they get. David picks third for Faux Paz. (Which…is what they got for quarterfinals too.  I'm just saying.) Jasmine pulls 7th for OTB.

David asks Rohan if they are ready for them to Off the Beat them down.  Rohan laughs and says that joke was a Faux Paz. David says their set won't be. They exchange various high and low fives.

OTB does not get through everything Jasmine wanted in the sound check. Backstage Jasmine reminds them that even though this is a larger theater they need to do the performance the way they've rehearsed it and not try to exaggerate anything.

Meanwhile Josh of the Faux Paz has started losing his voice. He felt fine earlier but now sounds hoarse. His solo is first and he's worried. He doesn't want to be the reason they don't go to finals.

OTB is rehearsing and you can just tell no one feels it's going well. Jasmine doesn't want to screw up the OTB legacy.  Rohan is getting nervous about his voice. He is stage whispering that he has never done four full rehearsals on a performance day in his whole life.  Jasmine reminds them that whispering is just as hard on your voice as singing. She tells the camera she thinks some of this is misdirected nerves.

As I adore a list of a cappella groups here are the ones we see snippets of:

University of Maryland's Pandemonium sing Gallant's "Weight of Gold"

University of Delaware's Vocal Point sing Sia's "Alive"

Wagner College's Vocal Synergy sings Nina Simone's "I Put a Spell on You"

And the University of Delaware's Meludees are also there.

The Faux Paz go on stage right after Pandemonium, and Josh feels the adjustments they've made to their set (and group) are going to get them past Pandemonium this time.

Again, the sets in this episode are interspersed with talking heads and we don't see any full songs.  But starting out Josh sounds okay.  If you didn't know better, you might think Josh just had a gravelly kind of voice. As the tempo picks up, it seems more obvious that he's having issues, but again, I know what he should sound like, as do Rohan and Brian who are in the audience.  Brian says it sounds like he wore out his voice. Josh is giving a great performance, but by the end I think even if you thought he was gravelly, there's still rough spots. We next see "Dog Days are Over" and Lynique is killing the solo.  Rohan whispers that they might be screwed because the judges will not forget Lynique's solo. Lynique's dad and sister have been given prime box seats that are visible from the stage.  Lynique says she could see them as she sang.

Backstage the group all comforts Josh that he sounded good.  Josh says the judges don't know what he normally sounds like.

OTB goes on stage.  "Ain't No Sunshine" starts them off. "End of an Era" has a tough note for Rohan, so he's worried. He nails it.  Again, we're only seeing snippets, but Rohan is doing the very note slidey thing that Shams warned Sam about.  It's consistent, so I assume it's a stylistic choice, but, in my opinion, Shams is right, it sounds like you don't think you can hit the note, so you slide up to it.  There are very popular singers who do this, this is just my thought on this.  Rohan does seem much more confident in this performance, and Jasmine has a moment with the male trio and is pumped that they nail the moment.

Offstage they are very happy with their performance.  They thank Jasmine.

We get a little moment of Rohan and Brian fixing their hair.

While waiting for results, Rohan tells the group that he thought picking such a serious school meant giving up performing and they were just part of one of the best performances of his life.

It's time for the results.

3rd – Pandemonium

2nd – Vocal Synergy

1st – Faux Paz

The Faux Paz are thrilled.  OTB is sad, but congratulates the Faux Paz.  Jasmine says it sucks to work so hard, but she knows that performance was great. Brian says he'll be back. Lynique hugs her family. Faux Paz are going to the finals.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Three Interesting Things

1. The teen pregnancy rate in the US declined further, looks to be due to an increase in contraception use
2. The HPV vaccine has lead to a decline in cervical cancer in Australia.
3. And rounding out our medicalish list, they are testing a chocolate pill.  I volunteer as tribute!