Anger is an energy

And I’m so heartbroken, and so angry, at this church shooting.

My twitter feed has a litany of the horror and irony of the situation...evil white men in the USA are never called “terrorists” no matter how terroristic their actions are…evil white men in the USA, having committed mass murder, are often captured alive by law enforcement in the same breath that innocent black men, and children, in the USA, are casually murdered by law enforcement, and seldom brought to task, let alone justice, for it (South Carolina being a recent rare exception to this rule, and indicting an erstwhile LEO in a recent unjustified shooting).

The incessant systemic racism in North America, which blames the victims for not being 100% perfect, as though certified perfection is a requirement in order to be treated like a human being. What were the dire, murder-worthy faults of these churchgoers, at bible study on a weeknight? do tell.

The bitter bitter irony of politicians in South Carolina, speaking literally under a Confederate flag at half-staff, claiming not to understand how or why anyone would do such a thing.

The predictable pro-gun reaction that wants MOAR GUNS even in churches to be able to shoot the shooters. YES! MOAR GUNS! MORE DEATH! why the fuck not.

She works hard for the money;

And, chances are if she’s working in a kitchen, she has to deal with a shit-ton of sexual harassment on top of the usual sexist shit that permeates so much of our lives.

There was a piece in the Star yesterday about a report brought before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal alleging wanton sexual harassment in a Toronto restaurant. This followed a piece in Maisonneuve last year (neither of which I was aware of before a twitter pal mentioned it this morning, btw).

I watch a lot of cooking shows like Chopped and Top Chef, Canadian and American, and they all seem to strive to include women chefs. Often the women chefs will mention that it’s hard out there for a woman in the industry; to the point that it becomes a bit tiresome, frankly, and I really want the people to just compete and win on their skills and merits, not because they’re one sex or the other. But reading these two pieces made my jaw just drop. I mean I’m used to a level of sexism, although my workplace is pretty good. But you really can’t avoid it. But the harassment! the touching! I would personally find it hard not to start removing digits from offending hands, if I were standing there with a knife. And I realize that would not end well, but that would be my instinct. What kind of (sons, brothers, fathers) assholes A. do this; and/or  B. see it happen and do nothing about it? It’s unbelievable, although I totally believe it. I do trust that none of my restauranting friends runs a kitchen like this, but I’ll bet all of them have seen one or a thousand of them.

But talk about a toxic work environment!

Anyway. Jen Agg of The Black Hoof in Toronto (also author, also evidently quite well-known in T dot although I know basically nothing about T dot, so), came abruptly to my attention this morning, and may I just say that she rocks? She is running with the momentum of the Star piece and talking about making a conference about sexual harassment in the kitchen workplace happen. I encourage you to follow her on Twitter (@theblackhoof) and see if there’s any way you can help, oh esteemed friends of mine who are writers/restaurateurs/chefs/persons of influence, because holy fuck, nobody should have to face a workplace that fills them with dread every day.

Update: Eater is talking about it, too. I hope there will be more attention and participation by some big names, because this deserves it. The twitter hashtag for the conference (to be held in September) is #KitchenBitches.

Imperator Furiosa

OK, so I’ve only seen Mad Max: Fury Road once (I hope to go at least once more in the cinema, and I’m looking forward to Blu-Ray extras, too). I’ve done a quick google but didn’t find a George Miller explanation, so I’m just going to riff on my own.

The language in the movie is, much like in the Thunderdome movie, a version of our current manner of speech. Some words seem to be lost, and some are eroded or elided (Immortan, for example, which presumably has evolved from immortal).

I’ve been thinking about how Furiosa’s title or rank is Imperator. The old-fashioned gender-appropriate version of Imperator is Imperatrix (think executrix or dominatrix). That’s a Latin thing, and pretty archaic unless you’re in the UK, where they still use a lot of “female” versions of roles or occupations, rather than just roles, which has become the norm in Canada and the US at least, as far as I know. I’m not sure where Australia falls in this continuum.

So on the one hand, calling her by the masculine version reminds me of Star Trek’s gender-neutral “Sir,” which I love because it implies rank and respect without gender.

On the other hand, taking as evidence the way he treats his “wives” as property, we can safely assume that Immortan Joe has no respect for women whatsoever.

So Furiosa has somehow become a trusted and respected commander in spite of her gender.

I hope we get her backstory, because no doubt it will be a cracker.

Updated to add that several backstories will be released in comic book form, if you care to look for them at your local shop or just pre-order the collection at Amazon. Thanks, Stephen!

Wow, it’s that rare bird:

a contest open to humans, worldwide humans, 21 and older.

BoingBoing (where you probably go anyway) has a new store with gadgets and whatnot and they are giving away an Apple product worth up to US$700, which is a pretty OK present to get.

Anyway. Sign yourself up! if you are a human living somewhere in the world, and older than 21 😀

New music release

    I’ve released a 5-song EP of dance music on bandcamp, called foam. Some is techno, some is straight-ahead disco, some is…I don’t know what the kids call things these days. And one song is catcore featuring Ilya Kovalchuk. All of it is danceable if you feel like dancing! and cheap!


Exhibit 5: Remember the Reader’s Digest?

I used to read the little magazines, mostly for the jokes, because when I was a teen or pre-teen I really wasn’t into all the sensational medical stuff (that I think was geared to seniors?). I think both of my grandmothers had a supply.

One relative had some “Condensed Books” that I took a look at around that time as well, and I didn’t initially understand the concept, but the Clean Reader app reminded me of it, since I recall looking at the condensed version of a novel I had read in its entirety, and being really confused at all the stuff that was missing: not only lots of words, but the sexy or violent stuff (I can’t remember the book in question) was also muted to unrecognizable status.

So I suppose in a way it’s a modern version of an auto-condenser, except it’s just (“JUST”) changing the words, not removing things. Or not yet.

I never got the point of condensed books: if you wanted the Cliff/Coles Notes version, buy that; nowadays, you can just look up a synopsis on wikipedia or whatever. But to take out the words that the author put in? I don’t care how long-winded an author is (no, really, I don’t: I’ve read Infinite Jest in its entirety several times), if I’m going to skim I want to do it myself, not rely on someone else’s idea of what should be skimmed. I want to read the words–all the words–that the writer included. And if there are a pile of swears, so be it. (Yes, I’ve read a bunch of Irvine Welsh, as well.) If I think an author uses too many for my taste, I will …exercise my right not to buy her next book. That’s how that works.

If you’re really not sure, borrow your books from the library, and return them unfinished if you’re offended!

The picture in my head of the child whose sadness at swears in her book prompted her parents to create this censoring monstrosity is that she’s reading The Catcher in the Rye (I DO NOT KNOW if that’s the book, I haven’t seen it named. It’s just the book that came to mind that schoolkids read, that there is controversy about, language-wise). If that were my daughter (of course if that were my daughter a few fictional swears wouldn’t make her cry: she’d be well inured I imagine), and if I were a religious person, I might answer her sadness with “Holden Caulfield uses language that’s different than how we speak. But there are all kinds of different people in the world, and some of them talk that way. And just because they talk that way doesn’t make them bad people, but if you like we can pray that they decide not to talk like that any more.” (?? plausible?) Rather than, “Oh dear, honey, you shouldn’t have to look at words that make you sad, let me sanitize the world for you.”

I understand wanting to protect your child, but there has to be a better way.

The New Victorians

UPDATED to include the Arkansas bill and to edit for clarity.

So for all that the US of A was begun as a reaction against Britain and the monarchy, there’s a segment of the current society that seems as though it would be happiest living under Queen Victoria’s rule. To wit:

Exhibit 1: The Clean Reader app, that takes a book’s e-text and replaces the “bad” words so that nobody has to read the word “fuck” or “cock” or “vagina” (I didn’t know vagina was a bad word?) if it would offend them. Read Chuck Wendig, Hal Duncan, Charlie Stross and Joanne Harris. Apparently all titles have been removed, but I’m sure there will be some insidious restart. This has led the fantastic writers above to say why this is wrong, and it reminds me of when I bought the movie, The Pick-Up Artist, on DVD at  London Drugs IIRC, and the swears had been overdubbed. Now if I’m watching a movie on network TV, I expect the swears to be overdubbed. But I’d seen this movie in the cinema and at some point, Molly Ringwald said something about fucking some guy, and it was absolutely crucial to the context and meaning of her character and the plot. So I noticed it. And I looked all over the wrapping of that DVD, and there was not a single indication that it had been altered in any way except to fit your screen. So if they can tamper with the transfer to fit your screen as long as they tell you about it, how is it that they can tamper with the text without telling you about it? I wondered. Turned out there’s a company somewhere in Utah or somewhere that sanitizes movies so Ma and Pa don’t have a nasty surprise when they fire up the movie machine. And I thought that the least they could do is fucking tell you that you’re getting the G-rated version, because if I were that screenwriter I’d be fucking pissed off. Screenplay by Writer Guy and Joe the Censor. Queen Victoria would definitely approve.

Exhibit 2: No Promo Homo laws, which dictate what teachers can and cannot say in school. When this happens in other countries (Russia), Americans get all upset. When it happens in Alabama, they just, apparently, shrug their shoulders. This is that conservative religious (typically) Republican thing that says PARENTS KNOW BEST HOW TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN. Which means that if the parent is an ignorant, bible-thumping, Leviticus-quoting moron, they get to raise more of ’em, and schools can’t counteract the prejudices with a few facts. This is the kind of thing that reminds me of schools that have to teach creation fables rather than, you know, science.  But there are entire states where state government employees are banned from using the terms “global warming” and “climate change” so I guess science doesn’t really matter to everyone? Queen Victoria made oral sex between men illegal, and would probably see nothing wrong with these laws either.

Exhibit 3: Well, we all know Arizona is led by a bunch of insane people (who voted these guys in?) but now doctors are required to lie to their patients. I can picture Queen Victoria believing Dr Oz or really any authoritative male shilling basically anything, so she’d probably be on board with this, too.

Exhibit 4: So on the one hand, gay marriage is being passed; on the other, Indiana made it legal to discriminate against gays, Arkansas is trying to do the same, and there’s a shoot the sodomite referendum proposed in California (?! no really)…I mean it’s hard to recognize the 21st century out the window these days.

Who knew?

I have always said, “Oh, I can sing, but I can’t write.”

Maybe I should amend that to “I can sing, and I can write simple crappy stuff.”

Check out my FAWM stuff here.

So far I have one noisy weird thing, one cute happy thing, and one disco melodrama. I think the disco thing could be a proper song some day if someone who’s better at this than I am did something with it :p

On the other hand, while none of it is particularly original, I don’t think any of it is a direct rip, which is what I’ve always been terrified of doing, since I have so much of other people’s music in my head. So I’ve already written more music in the past 4 days than the whole rest of my life. Which ain’t nothing.