Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. I have often enjoyed local restaurant - now chain - Busboys and Poets, but this recent "race card" idea seems silly at best and potentially harmful especially without context or training for employees, and as some commenters mentioned when folks may just want food and not conversation. 
2. This piece provides some useful context to the recent "Roseanne" cancellation.  I can certainly see why it has shocked Barr to continue to be the harmful (under the guise of edgy) person she has been for some time and now have it suddenly have consequences.  But I think consequences for harmful behavior are not a bad thing.  
3. If you missed the Twitter thread about the world's tallest waffle stack, or even if you didn't, this story about the attempt is delightful. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Who Tells the Story

I spent part of the long weekend visiting family and two of my cousins started to tell a story about my brother that was about how he fell asleep in a boat without a life jacket and the boat capsized and he was stuck under the hull and my uncle was able to help get him out because he had a life jacket.  The story was apparently one my uncle brought up a lot which is amusing, whereas it sounded vaguely familiar to me so I asked my uncle later that day to tell me the story.  His version (and my mother was there too for corroboration) was that my parents had been out sailing and my brother (who I think was two or three at the time) had fallen asleep in the small space under the deck of the boat (it was a small boat, only a toddler would have fit under there).  The boat capsized (in my parent's defense, my uncle said they passed by a larger sailboat that was taking much of the wind and then as they pulled in front then caught all the wind so the wind on their boat shifted dramatically).  My mother - who had drilled into us always wear a life jacket, have it on and useful, because you never know - had her life jacket on.  My dad did not, so he surfaced quickly but was hanging onto the boat to stay afloat.  My uncle, who was passing by in a motorboat with a friend was wearing his life jacket.  His friend was not.  So it was my uncle and my mom who were able to dive under the boat and retrieve my brother who was wearing a life jacket but probably wasn't awake or aware of what was happening yet.  
The point of this is not to say that my cousins are bad at stories.  They are not.  But because this story had been turned into a repetitive learning opportunity for them it had taken on the tone of bla, bla, bla, yes, dad, you should always wear your life jacket and they did not recall enough to actually make it a useful story for them to pass on to anyone.  (I'm pretty sure that they have great stories to tell.  It will all be fine.)  
But it was an interesting reminder that people's ability to tell a story can be impacted by how it was told to them.  And why.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  The journalists at a local high school dug into the background of who the Montgomery County Schools are named after, and in particular, how many owned slaves. 
2.  Kilauea is erupting on the big island of Hawaii, which has created a number of interesting things.  Many tourists and even cruise ships assume the whole island is on fire, and there is an intriguing public reaction that something should be done, that I don't seem to find with things like hurricanes or earthquakes.  This interview talks a little about the perspective of some that, well, essentially, volcanoes gonna volcano.  And Pele will do her thing. 
3. For local folks there's an initiative on the ballot in June about the minimum wage for tipped workers.  This City Paper piece sums up many of the arguments for and against. Two of the podcasts in m rotation have covered tipping, including talking to Danny Meyer.  Freakanomics and the Sporkful.  I'm still reading up.  It will clearly affect prices anywhere tips are considered part of the equation, but I'm not convinced that should the primary concern. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

"Snow Child" at Arena Stage

I saw "Snow Child" at Arena Stage Friday.   Mabel  and Jack are homesteaders from Pennsylvania, who up and moved to Alaska in the 1920's after losing a child. They are not handling their first Alaskan winter as homesteaders well. They build a small snow man, a snow child, and dress it in a hat and scarf. Later a young girl accompanied by a fox shows up. The others don't believe Mabel, but she reads the snow child legend and believes it has come true. Their neighbors help them out, but also wonder if it might be best if Mabel and Frank went back and then they could take over their claim. 
There is use of puppetry as the fox, the horse, and other animals make their appearances on stage.
The music is appropriately old American. The songs were both wonderful and odd. It reminded me a bit of "Come From Away", in the sense that the songs sounded a little like something you'd probably heard before around a campfire. 
The cast was great. The musical is inspired by the book by Eowyn Ivey, which I have not read.  There's use of a term Merriam Webster informs me is Chinook for newcomers. That and a passing reference to there being natives somewhere is about all you'll get for any sense that there might be a long history of people in Alaska. This story is all settler.
This came through for me (and I'm paraphrasing because I did not write this down mid-song) the neighbors sing a long about the land belonging to those who get there first. Which, wow. Yes, that's how homesteaders felt, I'm sure. But that is some manifest destiny type thinking their for the folks who showed up in the 1920's to call themselves first. 
The musical is still enjoyable but it does require ignoring all of that. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. This ode to Amy Santiago on the now saved "Brooklyn 99" is fabulous. 
2. The, as it now stand, last RT convention is going on in Reno right now.  This post about cover censorship is now outdated, the resort updated or clarified their stance and the posters are being redone, but I think it's worth looking at, anyway, since posters in and on hotels are a thing I see at a lot of bookish events. 
3. This post about how reading romance can heal is wonderful. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Full Heart

Having begun working with teenagers, ahem, some time ago, many of them are no longer teens.  (Shocking news, people get older every day, story at eleven!)  I am well aware that being a small presence in these teens lives once a week and the occasional long weekend is the teeniest contribution to their lives.  I am also aware that they have all gone off and done various things, from parenthood to medical school to military service to cashier to still searching for that career path and that each of these is valid and awesome and some of them have (horrors) eschewed social media so keeping up on the specifics is tough.  
But this Sunday I, and others, had the amazing chance to watch one of them be ordained as a minister.  As such, I got to sit in the building where I first met her, surrounded by others, some who had watched her grow up, some who knew her from college, or post-college life, or seminary.  I listened to wonderful people talk about journeys, and leadership, and when sometimes someone elucidates the path you are travelling for you, and sometimes no one tells you but something inside you knows.  I listened to people talk about remembering your purpose even as people try to tell you their vision for you and what you should do next.  
We sang joyous songs and then we had the laying of the hands, and I came away just as filled with love and hope as I expect that our newly ordained minister was.  It is not the only or even most important thing one of my former youth kids could become, but it was one that let me participate in this step in the journey, revisit all those who showed up for this special moment, and for that I am very grateful. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

7 Posts: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Trent

Oh Trent.  One of the things I think Trent does is take a look at how reversing the gender roles of an ex, changes the power dynamics.  Sure, you could argue that Trent and Rebecca never really dated, only fake dated to throw off Josh. But there are two things to note about that.  First, one could argue that boy I kissed while we were proximal to each other tens of years ago who then broke up with me and went back to his girlfriend is just as solid as girl who found my picture, used me as a stand in and then invited me to come visit her to make it look real.  Second, for every rom-com about a girl who does ridiculous things in pursuit of love, there is also one about folks who fake date and fall in love.  So, really, Trent's reasoning is flawed in exactly the same ways that Rebecca's is.  And quite honestly, nothing Trent has done, not researching her college experiences, not creating an intense data file, not trying to spike her wedding to Josh, and not even threatening Nathan to get her to show up somewhere, is really worse than any of the things Rebecca has done.  
The blackmailing Rebecca to let him live with her and bake them appetizers is possibly the only line Rebecca hasn't crossed, and I'm not even sure that is really true.  None of this is to suggest that Trent or Rebecca should engage in these behaviors.  But in the framework of the pursuit of love, we have been culturally conditioned to accept that a little boundary pushing is a sign of dedication.  I listened to a podcast with two screenwriters where they said rom-coms are where the hero does things that would be creepy if they weren't dating.  (Yeah, I deleted the rest of that episode.)  But that is a problem we are facing, there's a lot of pop culture premised on that idea.  You can say it's just a movie or just TV.  But it is not okay to stalk people.  It is not okay to threaten their friends and family, or blackmail them, or interfere in their relationships for the sole purpose of getting that person for yourself.  
Yes, the show is primarily through Rebecca's eyes, so the audience has a little bit more sympathy for her.  But Trent, in addition to being a wrench in Rebecca's plans, is also a mirror.  

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.Cassie Sharp wrote a great post about being an author without author friends might lead to something like #cockygate.  (Pajiba has a good summary of #cockygate if you have missed that story in the last week.) 
2. This story of a trans-racial adoptee who found his birth mother after he had a health scare gave me many feels. 
3. I am highly amused by the story of condoms in Georgia that are outlawed.  

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

7 Posts: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Change is hard

It's not like we needed a TV show to tell us change is hard, but I still enjoy how "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" explored that this year.  Many shows look at characters failing to change for an episode or two.  But this season we watched Rebecca try to change her whole life, only to discover she'd fallen into bad patterns with Nathan.  Watching the episode titles switch over from Josh to Nathan was another nice touch.  Paula found that she felt like a teen again she ran into Jeff Channing, (a name that is, ahem, very similar to Josh Chan) and ultimately realized that she liked the life and husband she had.  It wasn't a second choice, it was the right choice.  
Heather had to graduate and figure out who she was if she wasn't a student.  It turns out she's really good at managing things, so she ended up creating a new on site managerial program where she could watch the implementation of the changes she made at several regional stores.  Valencia after spending some time documenting Rebecca's recovery, ultimately parlayed her skills into party planning and also discovered love with a new lady, who reminded her that being from a small town wasn't a bad thing, small towns had made a lot of people.  
And Nathan tried to change and be a less hurtful person, but also tried to have his cake and eat it too, dating Mona and continuing to sleep with Rebecca.  Rebecca after breaking things off with Nathan, only to continue to sleep with him, finally decided that maybe they should try it for real, but was unable to stand in front of his door long enough to try to have a real conversation.  And her therapist expressed optimism that now that Rebecca had a diagnosis, they could make real progress, only to discover that Rebecca was still standing in her own way.  Josh found the loss of his dream job hard and struggled to find a purpose, finding bartending not for him, and trying out dancer at a gay bar, and then DJing for Valencia.  When he expressed concern to his mom after she demanded he clean out the last closet of his stuff at his parents' house and get out, she finally broke it down for him, it was time to move on and also his parents wanted to have sex in the house again.  
So everyone made changes to differing levels of success, and many characters reverted to bad behaviors.  And Nathan, White Josh, and Josh reminded us that guys with abs have problems too. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

Writers and Knitters and Sheep

My writers chapter had a meeting on Saturday, and while some of it was chapter business stuff, some of it was story structure and marketing with Kimberly Kincaid, and both that, and the chance to hang with writer peeps and discuss writer things was wonderful. And then Sunday I went up to Maryland Sheep and Wool with some writer friends and it is always fun to go with someone new to it all, who has never seen all the things and to make sure they get to see our faves but also have space to discover their own. I had not realized that Brooks Farm was packing it in after this show (likely just as well, I usually hit them first and it's not good if I just bust my pretend budget fast). I talked later with a friend about some other yarn folk that have come and gone since we've been festivaling. It is the festival circuit, but it's nice and fun to spend all this time with folks that like crafts of various types.

Friday, May 04, 2018

7 Posts: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - The Many Passions

In the first season Rebecca's dream ghost, that looked just like Dr. Akopian, told her that love comes in many forms, and it can be a passion.  One of the things the show has subtly displayed is that Rebecca has been relentlessly pursuing things, but usually either her job or a boyfriend.  So we know Rebecca fell in love in college and when that fell apart, she was unable to continue there, and after some hospitalization, she ended up at a different high powered institution.  Then she ended up at a high powered law firm where she had done well enough to make partner even though the idea of being partner gave her a panic attack.  So, she runs into Josh, upends her life to move across the country and be a lawyer at a much less high powered firm, but where she will have time to pursue to the fullest extent possible, Josh.  And when the Josh thing didn't work, she then ended up with Nathan (and I know that Greg was in there too, and I'm not forgetting him, but she wasn't done with the Josh dream during the Greg phase).  And then she realized she was repeating patterns, trying to micromanage and level up their relationship by granting him the dream sibling he didn't know he had (because he didn't).  And when she realized that was a bad pattern she ended things with him.  She tried working for Valencia, but was unable to do that without butting into client's lives, so she decides it's time to go back to work.  Only she had forgotten that she had quit (or her mom had quit for her while drugging her, which was a nice nod to continuity, a lot of shows would have skimmed over that while we all wondered if she was using FMLA or what).  So, then she enacts a plan to get the firm back from Nathan.  (Who then continues to work there.  It is still a TV show.)  But then she and Nathan resume the sexual part of their relationship which Rebecca decides is totally not the same as her repeating old patterns.  
All of this is to say that a lot of shows about working women do that great at her job, terrible with feelings thing.  She's a tough boss at work, but her home life is out of control.  And in this case Rebecca is, well, she's clearly a very good lawyer, but there's something to be examined in that she's in a profession where thinking creatively about the truth and manipulating people are lauded skills.  My point is not that lawyers lie or cheat, my point is that Rebecca lies and cheats, and it turns out to be a sometimes lauded skillset as a lawyer, but it makes her not always a great friend or girlfriend.  Or party planner.  And Rebecca flips from job to guy when one isn't working for her. And back again.  

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Bim Adewunmi does great work, so this discussion of three black women working in and for Kensington and how that fits into the larger discussion romance is having is wonderful. 
2. This look at the work Zeynep Tufecki has been doing about technology and surveillance was very interesting. 
3. And knitting is good for you study finds. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

7 Posts: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Josh and Hector

There was an interesting progression with Josh and Hector in season 3.  In season 1, Josh was back from New York, back with Valencia, back at a job he didn't like.  And then, he got his dream job at Aloha selling electronics, moved in with Valencia, and then well, the relationship stuff changed around a bit, but in some ways, Josh seemed to have found the correct path.  Meanwhile Hector lived at home with his mom, said it was fine since she was his best friend, and they had a relationship podcast together.  Hector and Heather began dating and it honestly seemed like that might be shortlived.  Heather is pretty unsparing in her assessment of people's choices, and yet, they now seem incredibly suited.  Hector is so incredibly steady that he isn't insulted by Heather's truthiness.  Meanwhile Josh, on probation from Aloha, then bounced from job to job, and now without a girlfriend to live with or a steady income had moved back home.  Josh's parents were not excited for him to live with them.  And so, when Josh's mom kicked him out, and he bonded a little more tightly with Hector's mom, Hector realized that it was strange watching his mom bond so tightly with his friend and maybe he was ready to move in with his girlfriend.  
And Hector was great with Heather through her surrogate pregnancy, and now, something that seemed like a shortlived relationship now looks like the most obvious thing.  Meanwhile Josh is still job hopping, and now living with Hector's mom.  So, Hector has progressed forward and Josh has backslid.