Category Archives: Uncategorized

Biden v. Ryan 2012: Everett Maroon and Annaham Liveblog it All

Join Everett Maroon and yours truly right here at Hamblog TONIGHT, starting at 6 PM PST, as we liveblog the VP debates! s.e. is traveling this week, but we’re hoping that ou will be able to pop in at some point. We shall see!


EDIT:
Since I was unable to get the plugin to do very much, we’re liveblogging at this ain’t livin’.

Tagged , , ,

DEBATE LIVEBLOGGING!

The amazing s.e. smith and myself will be liveblogging tonight’s presidential debate, starting at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST. Go here to see our up-to-the-second commentary! We’ll see how many cracks I can sneak in about the now-infamous photo of Mitt Romney at Chipotle.

In case you find yourself in need of some reading material before then, I have recently contributed pieces to both xoJane and Biopolitical Times, and neither piece has a thing to do with the election.

Tagged , , ,

Everything’s better with (Francis) Bacon

I had the opportunity to view Francis Bacon’s 1954 painting Figure With Meat at the Art Institute of Chicago recently, and the experience made me realize that I’ve never done a post about the artist on this blog (among other things)! Below are some of my favorite Bacon works; what I love most about Bacon’s work is the willingness to show aspects of the human body–and certain facets of human experience, such as physical pain–that most people would rather not see. Like Frida Kahlo’s art, Bacon’s paintings can be hard to view because they so vividly portray bodies that don’t work the way they “should,” and many of his rather grotesque art speaks to me for that reason. And what other artist consistently portrays the body as simultaneously beautiful, painful…and sort of (I don’t know how else to put this) meat-like. Sometimes, I am reminded of the Body Worlds traveling exhibit when I look at these; other times, I am reminded of NIN’s (in)famous (and very, very NSFW) video for 1994’s “Closer” (check out 1:34 in, where Trent Reznor stands in front of a cleaved beef carcass, and then refer to “Figure With Meat” below).

From the biographical material I have read about Bacon, I know that he probably did not have chronic pain issues, but looking at some of these paintings as a person with a body in pain (thanks, Elaine Scarry) remains a powerful experience.

Image

Figure With Meat, 1954 (depicts a person sitting in a chair in front of a split beef carcass, screaming)

Image

Head ii, 1947 (depicts a seated figure with a globular head and mouth with fangs)

Image

Detail from second painting of Crucifixion triptych, 1965 (depicts a hanging carcass in side-view against an orange wall)

Image

Two Figures, 1953 (depicts two figures doing something on a bed)

Tagged , ,

Quick update: My work, elsewhere

Hi, readers! I know I’ve been neglecting ye olde blog (and hopefully I will start to do better on the whole “updating it regularly” thing soon!), but I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of things in which I have been involved lately:

Last week, I wrote a guest post for Tiger Beatdown on Lars von Trier’s 2009 film Antichrist, and how it relates to the pop cultural depiction (or lack thereof) of depression and pain, women and emotion, plus the unintended backlash that the expectation of “strong lady characters” has wrought. Go and join the discussion if you feel so inclined. Content warning for discussions of some graphic violence that the film depicts.

s.e. smith and I recently wrote an article (on disability culture on the internets and online feminism, naturally) for the latest print issue of Bitch Magazine, which is currently available for purchase or download. I also did the illustrations, which is kind of (read: EXTREMELY) exciting for me. We were interviewed at length by Kjerstin for the Bitch Radio podcast as well. Hooray!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing: Not that easy

There seems to be a pretty popular misconception — not just limited to the internet, by the way — that writing is somehow “easy” to do.

Good ideas, and good writing, do not just spring fully-formed like Athena from the mind of Zeus. Like many things worth doing, writing is a process. I used to be a writing tutor for undergrad students, and one of the things that countless students expressed to me was their shock that writing was hard work, and that most of the time, one could not “just” write a paper in a single sitting and expect to get a perfect grade.

I cannot tell you how many times I have written half-drafts of papers, or opinion pieces, or short essays, or blog posts, and either ended up doing away with them altogether or substantially changing them multiple times. Most of the writing of which I am most proud — not all of which I have posted online — has taken quite a bit of time, research, and energy to put together. I write things down in a notebook most of the time as part of my working-through-ideas “process” (if you want to call it that), but often these scribblings do not at all resemble the final product. Hell, I have bits sitting in my blog queue that are in constant need of expansion or revision; though I tend to complete pieces once I start them, there are times when I just cannot find a good ending for certain pieces, and they end up sitting around unused for weeks or months.

On occasion, I don’t use posts or pieces at all, or post them. There are some pieces of writing that are beneficial for the writer, but I may have reservations about exposing them to an audience. Or I may have trouble saying what I actually want to say in plain and easily-understandable language — in the past, this has ended up saving me from posting some real crap and some not-even-half-baked ideas.

The fact that writing can be very difficult is not a personal failing. A large percentage of my former students seemed to think it was — that if their ideas did not emerge brilliantly and painlessly the first time, then these ideas were not worth expressing at all. Utilizing the written word is a skill, not an innate talent. There is no formula for a “great” piece of writing, or post, or essay. If someone finds hirself sitting and trying, straining to write, grumbling, “Why is this so hard?” — well, that can be the nature of the process. It can be fickle, and it is almost never “easy” in the traditional sense.

[Originally posted on my Tumblr.]

Tagged ,

Dancing robot

I am in the middle of doing many things (including moving), which means I haven’t had much time to update! Here is a robot, developed by H. Kozima and M. Michalow, dancing to some music.

Tagged , ,

In which Roxy Music provides a much-needed Lesson For Us All

[Image description: A raven-haired man wearing a black velvet suit and white shirt leans against a wall.]

First: LOOK AT THIS STYLISH MAN, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS BRIAN FERRY. He is SO STYLISH. I wish I could be half as stylish as he is. I have a black velvet blazer hiding in my closet, which I have been known to break out when I, too, wish to be stylish in the way that only a rocker from the 1970s can be, but have not yet found a pair of velvet pants to complete the look.

Second: While writing some of this, I realized that it might be helpful to have some actual examples of precisely what I mean when I say that Roxy Music is an amazing band, so here is an entirely separate post in which I share some of my favorite songs of theirs.

My favorite bit of music trivia ever is Roxy Music-related**: band member Brian Eno did not know how to play the keyboard before he joined Roxy Music. For reasons as to why this is completely amazing, look no further than Wikipedia’s page on Eno. He has gone on to have a lengthy, influential and successful music career even though he once joined a band, as its keyboard player, without knowing how to play that instrument.

I love Roxy Music and Brian Ferry not just for the music, but because they remind me that I can have an impact with my own work that, though it will most definitely not appeal to everyone, may have some sort of impact on someone. I am an indescribably crappy guitar player (mostly because fibromyalgia-related hand and arm pain prevent me from banging out anything other than a few chords). I am not a great singer. I will never be Ani DiFranco. I will never be Patti Smith, nor PJ Harvey, nor Tori Amos, nor Alanis Morissette, nor Beth Ditto, nor Me’shell Ndegeocello. These people are all talented, I am a fan of each of them, and their success is well-deserved; however, I will probably never approach that level of success, as the work I do is not in the getting-up-onstage-and-singing-in-front-of-people field.

Hell, I have a blog. Which I write on, and which I take extremely seriously. I write and draw a lot of stuff on various topics — most of this work has not been published (yet), or shown to other people (yet), and almost none of it has been the center of controversy or much attention (barring my work on that one thing).

If I may be philosophical and mildly tedious for a minute: Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry’s work remind(s) me is that there is a whole lot of good in just being whatever you are and, simultaneously, not knowing what you are doing all of the time (like Brian Eno and the whole not-knowing-how-to-play-the-keyboard-thing), and that it is okay to be “okay” at something as long as you love it. You do not have to be the greatest and most original band/singer ever to make an impact.

And, paradoxically, that is part of what makes Roxy Music such a great band.

Your weirdness, your originality, and your style do not have to be constantly calculated down to the very millisecond, or planned out in infintesimal detail, or boasted about on Twitter every ten seconds. There is room for those things to just develop and grow by themselves, if you let them. I think many segments of the entertainment industry–and, unfortunately, a lot of “creative” types–tend to forget this. Of course, part of that is how the “business” works, but for those of us who aren’t in the industry (but who are still in the age of Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook wall updates with instantly-emailed notifications), this can be difficult to remember.

But, it is worth remembering.

**[That is, other than the rumor that Tori Amos has $100,000 worth of “hand insurance” in case her hands are ever irrevocably injured. I am sure there is a source for this somewhere on the internet, but I haven’t quite found it yet. If any Tori fans have a citation for said factoid that proves or disproves this rumor, please feel free to leave it in the comments so that I can continue being lazy in regards to internet research.]

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday music post, “final exams!11” edition

Hello readers! You may have noticed that I have not updated in a week or so. This is because I have been busy with final exams and such. But I have a lot of cool posts planned for when I am FINISHED with finals, so please bear with me.

Anyway, here are some songs that I have been enjoying as of late. If you have songs that you would like to share, you may leave YouTube links in comments (lyrics are also good!). Or just talk about stuff you’ve been listening to lately, or concerts you’ve seen, or albums you’ve (re)discovered. Whatever — it’s up to you.

First up, here is a suitably intense version of Tori Amos’s “Blood Roses” from 1999 or so (lyrics here):

Next, we have “Here Lies Love” (lyrics; vid is audio-only) by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim with Florence Welch, from the recent concept album of the same name, which is SO AWESOME and you should track down a copy (especially if you like disco, concept albums, and/or female singers):

Finally, an oldie-but-goodie, “Ocean” by the Velvet Underground (lyrics; vid is audio-only):

Tagged , , , , , ,

Why SF’s Proposed Sit/Lie Laws Are a Terrible Idea

[Note: Please read the comments policy carefully before commenting.]

In San Francisco currently, there is something of a debate brewing about Mayor Newsom’s proposed sit/lie laws, which would make it illegal for anyone to sit or lie on any public curb or street in San Francisco (with a couple of exceptions).

The intersections with disability here are rather clear. For one thing, there are some intersections between homelessness and disability, because some homeless people are, for example, mentally ill or have disabling physical problems. Do either of these things make them unworthy of compassion, or not human? Of course not, but from the way this proposed ordinance is designed, it is, on a very basic level, criminalizing homelessness even more than it is already criminalized (not to mention socially stigmatized), while taking extra “common sense” steps to avoid citing non-homeless people for an offense. Observe the following response to concerns that SF police would begin to crack down on non-homeless people were the laws to go into effect:

During a heated, five-hour Board of Supervisors public safety committee hearing on the issue Monday, Adachi showed photographs of behavior that would be illegal under Newsom’s proposed law: a well-heeled tourist sitting on her luggage as she waits for a cab, a little boy sitting on a sidewalk clutching his skateboard, and tourists sitting on a curb and gazing up at the sights.

Assistant Police Chief Kevin Cashman said all of those people would be warned first to move and that none of them would probably receive a citation.

“Obviously common sense is going to be part of the training with enforcement of this statute,” he said at the hearing.

Ah, yes, “common sense.” Common sense, apparently, still makes the further stigmatization of homeless people de rigeur. Because apparently, they don’t deserve to sit down in public, unlike “well-heeled” tourists and neighborhood residents. I wonder what the response to a person with disabilities — tourist or not — needing to sit down on a public street might be? Someone waiting for an ambulance? While that is approaching a bit of a slippery slope argument (which I generally like to avoid), it is worth considering, simply because “common sense” will mean different things to different people — those whose job it is to enforce the statute included.

Also interesting is the framing of this ordinance in terms of concern for children. From one of the SF Gate articles:

Newsom, who bought a home in the Haight recently, was convinced to support an ordinance after walking along Haight Street with his infant daughter and seeing someone smoking crack and blocking the entrance of a business.

Certainly, children need to be protected from dangerous situations or potentially dangerous situations, but is an ordinance that criminalizes the poor and homeless — not all of whom are recreational drug users or addicts — really the way to do it?

Additionally, nowhere have I seen any plan to increase the number of homeless shelters or services for homeless people attached to this ordinance. The implicit message behind these proposed sit/lie laws seems clear: It’s too bad you’re homeless, but don’t you dare be homeless on our streets, because it might make our city look bad. Oh, and you certainly shouldn’t expect the city to help you not be homeless — even after it cites you for breaking the sit/lie law.

(Cross-posted at FWD/Feminists With Disabilities)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Today in “Missing the point, rather spectacularly”

From the mod queue on this post, which is almost a month old:

Really! So limiting “hate” speech is OK? This is a great concept until the opposition gains power and limits your speech as “hate” speech. Who ever your opposition is. Whether you like lesbians or hate lesbians, like straights hate straights, like the left hate the left, like white people hate white people, like black people hate black people, this is s slippery slope. When one becomes egocentric and can only tolerate their own point of view, then you they have joined an elite group that includes: Nazi’s (killed millions), Soviet communists (killed millions), Chinese communists (killed millions), KKK (killed thousands). Your hatred of hate speech as you define it, is no different. The message is this, be careful in imposing your will on others, it sometimes turns out badly!

I read this comment and I think, “This person did not read the damn post, because nowhere did I say that speech should be limited.” Calling people out for saying bigoted shit and/or when they jump to “free speech means I can say whatever I want, without getting called on it” is not the same thing as legislating what can and cannot be said.  Anyone with a basic understanding of what free speech actually means, and, uh, logic knows this. Also, LOL at slippery slope argument, and putting words in my mouth.

Reading comprehension: get you some.