Friday, July 31, 2020

What to Read - Over on the Newsletter

Hey, Folks, 
My first post is up on buttondown talking about how I figure out what to read these days.  Or at least the first part of it.  
I'll still be writing here and other places.  But for folks who like things delivered to their email box, there's this too.  

Edited to update link

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. Alyssa Cole's keynote speech about, among other things, a country that fails to grovel, is something to read.  
2. I found this look at the protocols the adult film industry uses to track disease testing and transmission interesting. 
3. This article on pandemic pay and other benefits being quietly removed was disheartening. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


I was supposed to be in Montana last week.  I've known Becca Syme for a while.  I loved her series in the RWR about unlocking the way that you work best and took both her Write Better Faster and Strengths for Writers Class.  So, when she announced a retreat last year, a retreat to learn and dive deep surrounded by other folks on the same journey, I was in.  I had a few friends I knew were going to be there, and discovered others there.  
Obviously with COVID 19 it went virtual.  There were some bumps, some rearrangements, but overall it was great.  I often suggest to folks who aren't sure if they want to take another personality test to take a look at a few of the Quitcast videos.  I think that they do a great job of using the Clifton strengths to help you figure out how to be your best you, rather than, oh yeah, you'll probably never like spreadsheets.  (For the record, I love spreadsheets.)  
It was four days of intense information and I am still processing it.  In my case, my strengths are super complimentary, which means I don't have one fighting the other.  But of course it means I can easily get carried away on a sea of happiness and learning fun, and leave my original goals behind.   

Monday, July 27, 2020

RIP Regis Philbin

I've spoken before of how many years I watched Regis Philbin as part of my mornings.  On summer breaks, before I left for work, or in the background as I worked, there was a long period of my life where part of my morning ritual involved Regis.  He was incredibly game, as evidenced by the increasingly elaborate Halloween shows.  He seemed aware of both the level of spectacle asked and willing to let the audience in on the spectacle.  And of course he made what could be really dull bits of business seem interesting.  It was always clearer how much he brought to the moment when someone else stepped in.  But his ability to work with a number of guests and co-hosts also showed an awareness on his part, an ability to meet the level and create the chemistry where possible. The man set records for being on TV for a reason. 
Of course I didn't know him, or his family.  But, as I've said to others, it is an especially odd time to grieve, so I wish his family the best in that process.   

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. Fascinated to see some local restaurants taking this moment of change to move away from tipping.  
2. This story of the pressure exerted on a magazine writer who on her personal account spoke out against skin whitening creams is a lot.  
3. This piece on local food change makers features some wonderful people. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Thing About Excess Death

Many of the terms we use to describe things sound innocuous. Okay, not innocuous, when you have the word death in there. But when folks talk about how a pandemic that causes an economic crisis in a country where healthcare is tied to both jobs and having money, well it doesn't seem like much.
Some of this is brain processing protection of course. There are so many people dead and ill right now. In my city juat looking at the COVID 19 numbers, at the difference between recovered and diagnosed, the gap is thousands of people. 
So yes, when folks' economic situation is precarious, in this country there is more death. When millions of people lose their access to health insurance, there is more death. When you know medical and hospital workers are right now working in terrible conditions, people are more likely to skip a screening, decide not to call about that issue that's probably nothing anyway. 
And of course, we know the time change every year leads to an increase in heart attacks and car accidents. When people's schedules get thrown out of whack, it sometimes shows up in the body.
So, it turns out excess death can even show up in celebrities. They are people after all. Sure, some folks were ill, or living with a possibly undiagnosed thing in their brain. All of these things would likely be true even without a pandemic. But when we ourselves are dealing with stress, grief, and anxiety for those around us, it seems like more. It feels like more.  
But it is more when paired with all the people in your immediate circle, or neighborhood, or city dying. 
So RIP to Carl Reiner, Grant Imihara, Naya Rivera, and John Lewis, in addition to all those less famous folks we are all keeping in our hearts.  You didn't have to personally know people to love them, for them to bring us joy.  It is only fair that we feel sadness in their loss.  

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Let's Go Steal a Podcast - Boys Night Out

I was back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast" to discuss the "Boys Night Out Job" episode, the companion episode to the "Girls Night Out Job" episode.  

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. I shared this article on Twitter too, but I think Washington Mystics player Elena Dell Donne's issue with the WNBA's medical review board highlights an issue that affects many more people.  For places where they are allowing medical exemptions, there is often an expectation of disclosure.  And with that comes the possibility that someone somewhere will decide your medical issue isn't that bad.  The reality is it's a novel virus.  The novel means new.  Initially we told people with lung issues to be careful.  Then we added heart disease, inflammation, obesity, and blood clots. When you have a disease that affects a smaller portion of the population, it's reasonable to assume we don't yet know how bad it will be for patients with both.  Also, not to be a scaremonger, but people with none of these underlying or pre-existing conditions have died. But in this country we often expect people to detail their pain in public before we are willing to believe it.  And that's something we need to talk about changing.  
2. This story of this Denver school was wonderful.  Some of the students took a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and on their return asked that the curriculum be changed to better reflect the history they learned there, and advocated to get their teachers sent there as well.  I recognize one story is not a full picture, but this principal sounds wonderful in the way she listened to her students and created an environment where they felt able to ask for big change. 
3. Rebekah Weatherspoon talked about how she found romance novels and then became a writer of romance novels.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Legacy of Harm

One of the exhibits that was at the National Museum of the American Indian last year talked about the battle of Little BigHorn aka the battle of the Greasy Grass looked at how the mainstream media at the time reported on the battle, how Crazy Horse was treated as a hero, interviewed, memorialized in painting and memorabilia.  And how Crazy Horse and other tribal leaders surrendered to the US Army a year later.  Not too long after Crazy Horse was arrested and died.  Libbie Custer however was still alive, and worked hard to change the narrative about her husband.  She worked to change him from a fool who got his column massacred, she worked to cast him as a valiant soldier who wasn't afraid to die to protect the land he loved. 
Why am I thinking about this today.  Well this week, the Washington football team announced that it was retiring the name.  I applaud those who have been fighting for this change for about fifty or so years. I even am willing to offer some applause to the various corporations who in the last few months suddenly realized they too were supporting racism.  
I am ever hopeful that they are not planning on something like the warriors.   Or birds.  (I hate bird teams.  And if you haven't noticed how many bird teams "accidentally" riff on native iconography, well, I invite you to take a moment to consider that.)  
The harm done by years of this racist team name with it's racist logo and racist fight song and racist mascot will not be fixed this year.  The ideas that the indigenous peoples of what we now call America were all good at cooking and good at fighting, and are basically all dead now, oopsie, elides much of who those people are and were.  
Oh and also, Kansas, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, and many others, don't think we've forgotten about you.  

Monday, July 13, 2020

A Look at Passive Voice

There was a heated exchange last night between a murderers and murder victims. What began as a peaceful gathering grew strained. The murderers brought weapons, and the murder victims began screaming claiming they had been allegedly attacked. 
The murderer spokesperson said people who claim they are being murdered often exaggerate and yell, that the murder sticks the murderers carry are all perfectly legal, and there was no sign that anyone was carrying illegal sticks.  
"I was raised on murder sticks, taught how to use them by my grandfather," one self identified murderer said. 
None if those who claimed to be murder victims were able to be reached for comment by press time.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. Thes McSweeney's post on campus diversity centers is as delightfully satirical as you might expect. 
2. I know I keep comparing this pandemic to sex ed, but this Life Kit post looks at how the conversations about consent and boundaries that can help create healthy sexual relationships, are also applicable when deciding on who to social distance with.  Including discussing if those in your bubbles are seeing other people.  
3. The glass cliff is an idea that's been out there for a bit, but as a number of corporations confronted with their history of supporting and upholding racism look to diversify their staff and their leadership, it's fair to remember what we're asking folks to step into.  

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

"Hamilton" Linkery

I did the Disney thing so I could watch "Hamilton" this weekend.  I have very little new to say about it, although some of the theories going around on TikTok are blowing my mind.  
But here are my prior mentions of it for easy linkage:
The first time I saw "Hamilton" (and also "Fun Home" and yes I did just talk about both of them). 
The BroadwayCon "Hamilton" panel (and other panels form that day). 
The time I saw one of the touring casts of "Hamilton"
The Disney version has some muted language to get the PG13 rating.  It does still contain references to slavery, adultery, gun usage, and onstage deaths from both war and duels.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Reading Roundup - Second Quarter 2020

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta is a story told in verse of a biracial and queer British kid trying to find himself.  It does contain some racism and homophobia directed at the character, but overall I found it a joyful journey as the main character found his way into the world.  
Leah Johnson's You Should See Me in a Crown was a delightful story of a girl entering into her prom obsessed town's elaborate prom process.  There is a forced outing, but I felt (other than the second hand embarrassment) the characters supported the lead through it.  Also smoochies with the new girl.  
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wisner is a story about Hollywood and the slowest of burns because gosh these characters are so delightfully confused by their feelings.  There is some workplace sexual harassment.  
He's Come Undone anthology has five buttoned up dudes being unraveled by feelings, so if that is your jam, you should likely have this.  
Rick by Alex Gino is a middle grade that I thoroughly enjoyed about figuring out that maybe your grandpa is like a cool person, and also that maybe the person you thought was your best friend isn't really the best friend for you.  
Loveboat Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is a story about being away from strict parents and the freedom and danger of all of that.  There is some revenge porn, along with some references to racist sports teams.  
We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Key Mejia is a second book in a duology.  It switches POV and I found the story of trying to live up the ideals you and your team have sacrificed so much to serve, really compelling.  Also there are smoochies. 
Brittney Morris' Slay was a fascinating look at gaming.  So many of the big gaming books (Warcross excepted) have dude, and often even white dude main characters.  So the idea of a gaming world created by a Black girl character for Black characters and what happens when the rest of the world finds out, was really fascinating.  Also, the game has a Mambo Sauce card.  
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is just great.  There are so many layers to the story of a Black woman working as a nanny to a white woman and the stories people tell about themselves and too themselves, and what happens when those are challenged.  Also, the children in there are delightfully rendered.  
Chemistry by Weike Wang is a book I tried to thank several people for recommending to me, and none of them claimed credit.  It is a story of a grad student trying to figure out her life using logic and logic is failing because human nature is not always logical.  She is kind of a mess, but I found it a fascinating journey.   

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. This article focuses on "Survivor" but raises an interesting point.  Editing of reality shows can play into stereotypes.  And while "Big Brother" with the constantly available livestreams made it more explicit, a lot of reality shows seem to have decided not to air racist or homophobic slurs uttered by participants.  I totally agree with that stance.  But, editing it out can often lead to unexplained tension between contestants.  The targets of those slurs then look short with the contestant that uttered them, letting the viewers at home conclude that that contestant is mean.  Reality shows need to take a hard look at how they are allowing bullying, because tension makes for good TV.  I know "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" have let awful instances of bullying slide and hope the teams behind all these shows take an interest in changing that going forward.  Diversifying the production teams would definitely be a start. 
2. This parody of studio notes on a rom-com in the age of Corona, was amusing. 
3. This article focuses on protests, but has larger applications.  When covering issues and areas where we know oppressive structures are in play, shining a spotlight carries with it a risk of harm. We've seen this in book coverage where using screencaps of a Twitter conversation led to vicious harassment.  Twitter is public of course.  But articles about changes being made to books, as an example, are written to bring book news to a larger population. There are ways to cover these discussions more responsibly.