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.

music things

Well and my MD and I started working on a cover of Radiohead’s Karma Police some 6 years ago (I know!) and I decided I wanted to redo the vocal in the shower (cool sound in there, you know?) so we did, and I wanted to share it and you know, pesky licensing and whatnot but I paid the fee and got the licensing, and you can listen to it at the soundclouds and buy it on the bandcamps. And while you’re in there listen to Grievous Angel, too!!! because his stuff is awesome.

(I decided to let people pay for the song if they want to have it on their hard drives, because we had to pay for the license, nahmeen?)

It’s kind of a rough mix that my MD isn’t that crazy about, but I like it even though it’s imperfect.

And there’s more to come in the near futures! we’re working on things for February Album Writing Month!

Just in case…

you’re looking for a cute Christmas present for someone, I have (with permission) put some nice t-shirts up with the adorable lion created by the illustrious Woodrow Phoenix, which I have adopted as my mascot (and favicon).

i have one of these myself, black on black, and it’s a very nice shirt, soft cotton! and I think the same-colour lion looks really sharp.

And I added a glittery tank top for warmer climes and fun times!

So they’re talking about

Diaspora again.

(I don’t mind ello, but who knows if anyone will bother logging in after a while.) (Of course, scarcely anyone I know was talking on diaspora in the past three years, either.)

Anyway if you should happen to need a diaspora invite, let me know.

My diaspora account links from the thingie up on the right (FOLLOW ME) and also you can share there from the * icon below.

August 2014 Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

No, not really an electric boogaloo, but I wanted this stuff separate from the other stuff.

Burger King, Home of the Whopper, is buying Tim Horton’s, home of the double-double. The reason? not some imagined corporate synergy melding the two brands (which really couldn’t be more different): a means to (legally) avoid paying US corporate tax, for the glory and increased enrichment of shareholders.

This kind of thing makes me sick. I expect that, over the years, the Burger King company has received billions of dollars of largesse from the IRS and state and local revenue agencies, for bringing (crappy, low-wage) jobs and (shitty, fast) food revenues to its thousands of operating jurisdictions. Tim Horton’s is an iconic Canadian brand, despite being kind of crappy and serving doughnuts that suck in comparison to the Tim’s doughnuts of yesteryear (they went to a centralized system, but what works for FedEx doesn’t really work for doughnuts, and they taste stale and bleah now, IMO. Oú sont-ils, les beignets d’antan?). They serve coffee that a people can feel virtuous buying, rather than contributing to that foreign mermaid company’s juggernaut.

So I mean I don’t eat at BK and I haven’t in years and years, and I don’t eat at Timmy’s in the normal course, although the odd airport visit isn’t out of the question. So my boycott and disapproval doesn’t amount to puddle of warm spit, really.

But there has to be some kind of public payback for companies that refuse to make their fair contribution to the countries in which they operate. Siphoning off profits to another jurisdiction only to funnel them into offshore bank accounts does not meet the social contract of a civilized society.

If you want to do business in the US, pay US taxes. And if the Timmy’s people are short-sighted enough to sell to a bunch of asshole foreigners, well, I hope they’re going to be pleased with the scorn of fair-minded Canadians, which they have surely earned.

August 2014

What a time. It’s a head-shaker, as in, I look around and listen to the views that people are vigourously espousing, and they just make me shake my head, because really? there’s some doubt that a person bearing no weapons is unarmed? please get out your dictionary.

Really? it seems appropriate to shoot at someone (an unarmed someone) ten or eleven times for, I don’t know…mouthing off? after you got on their case for walking in the street?

If Darren Wilson were black and Michael Brown were white, would you still think it appropriate? …Really? Really.

If Michael Brown were all geek and tapioca, sang in the church choir, never smoked a joint or uttered a swear and didn’t like rap music, his life would somehow be more valuable than it was, with those grave grave infractions against him?  because, you know, it’s not like probably 90% of the 18-year-old kids of all colours in the USA have listened to rap music or have smoked a joint or have uttered a swear. Actually it’s probably more like 95%.

Shooting someone down in the street, I thought, was reserved for halting imminent danger to life and limb. I really don’t understand what about jaywalking or backtalk or anything, from a distance of 10 feet or whatever, in broad daylight, was cause for murder.

I really don’t understand why the police department didn’t initiate the usual procedures with respect to an officer-involved shooting–the procedures that seem to be usual in every other police department.

I really don’t understand that knee-jerk “Support LEO” attitude that leaves no room for waiting and seeing the results of an internal investigation, or since one of those doesn’t seem to be in the offing, an external investigation. Waiting and seeing is usually seen as the prudent course of action.

Of course, Officer Wilson wasn’t one to wait and see, either.