Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 768 and Memory

I’ve not ever read Proust in its entirety because what am I an eternal being who exists outside of linear time? But, thanks to Wikipedia and university survey courses, I am familiar with its basic themes of memory and it’s frustrating insufficiency.

Anyways, when not pondering madeleines, I am often confronted by how resilient the mind is in protecting us from the horrors of the world. Memory is a very funny thing. As good a reason as any to maintain diaries or personal hagiography is that you’d be surprised at what you forget.

A doctor asked me to get a pelvic ultrasound. I surprised myself by saying absolutely not unless it’s an emergency life or death situation I am not doing that. And she, in sincere surprise, asked me why not.

And, because I guess therapy works, I recalled a pelvic ultrasound from maybe 10-12 years ago. I’d been referred in to a specialist as there was concern about a uterine cyst. This doctor, a gentleman over 50 in the kindly white gentleman archetype, who I did not know know, proceeds to tell me this won’t hurt.

But it does hurt. I am screaming bloody murder. It hurts so much I cannot stop. He tells me he will call security unless I quiet down. I cannot and I am in tears hysterically trying to convey the pain. I pass out.

I had utterly suppressed the memory till today. It happened to coincide with my husband mentioning a think piece in New York Magazine about women who empathized with the Clare Danes character from Fleishman Is In Trouble. There is a profoundly violating scene around reproductive health and consent.

And of course, because it’s happening to a striving insecure aspirant white bitch it totally doesn’t count right? Fucking Karens. It’s super cringe to consider where the system hurts you, because you dumb bitch, you benefit more than anyone else.

So I guess I am not surprised I had banished the experience of something bad but you know not so bad you are allowed to complain about it. And that is how the patriarchy perpetuates itself.

What I’m saying is that maybe you need to remember who it is that benefits from you not remembering the pain. Who benefits from forgetting? And trust me they are very scared when you realize that you remember.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 759 and All Dressed

Social media has given us so many ways to become fans. We have ever more content thanks the streaming wars. Give content a chance to live everywhere online and it will develop a fanbase beyond its intended audience. The internet gives small shows outsized impact.

I’m a fan of a Canadian comedy called a Letterkenny. It’s about a small town in Canada. It’s got people and their problems. It’s a very funny character study and has fundamentally warm and loving humor. I’ve watched every episode and the spin-off. I’ve taken a lot of solace in the very human nature of the show, particularly during the pandemic years when everyone felt far away from each other.

There is a phenomenon that is particularly prominent online called parasocial relationships. Someone creates art or a personality and it develops a fandom. Over time, the fans, through repeated exposure to a character or show, believe they know them like a friend. It is fun to be in the fandom. Enjoying art is a universal experience. I am a stan for Letterkenny. I’m in a parasocial relationship with the Letterkenny crew and it’s universe.

How deep is it? Well my husband and I recently ordered some Canadian chip flavor called all dressed featured on an episode of Letterkenny. The chip is, as the name suggests, every single type of flavor. It is salt and vinegar, bbq, ketchup (weird but crucial), and sour cream & onion. And it is absolutely delicious. As a Twitter friend said to me, it is the Dr Pepper of chips. It’s not for everyone but it’s spectacular.

All dressed ruffle potato chips

Because it is Sunday, I am taking a medically necessary amount of THC. I’ve had a gummy. And I thought this was a perfect moment to try the Letterkenny chip.

And it was indeed glorious. All dresseds is a chip made for the munchies. It’s got bite and taste and texture and it all rolls up into an experience. It’s a chip worthy of the extra attention of weed focus.

And because I am extremely online I shared my appreciation for it on Twitter.

Now on Letterkenny there is a clique called the Skids. They are the weird kids. They are the hipster ones. They are the nerds. They are small town weed dealers. Asking me to pick a favorite on Letterkenny is like asking me to pick a favorite child. One of the Skids is Roald. He is a loyal friend but his own man. He definitely likes weed. I love Roaldie.

And I’m delighted to learn through my all dressed munchies Tweet, that the actor who plays him, Evan Stern, is following me. He likes the tweet. What a perfect way to enjoy a very specific kind of fandom. A parasocial relationship’s individual manifestation through social media. Now that I’ve made a big deal out of all this I should probably say hi to Evan. It’s going to be weird no matter what but it brought me a lot of joy. It’s good to be a fan.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 758 and Two Sides

I somehow missed watching the Mandalorian when it came out. My husband isn’t really into Star Wars and I’m a Star Trek person so as just missed it. I started watching it today for the first time and I’m experiencing it somewhat fresh of its original release context.

But I’ve got a vague memory of the culture war issues that it triggered at the time. Somehow Gina Carano got coded to team red and champion of the downtrodden right wing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why except I think she mouthed off on Twitter. She sacrificed her career as a main character on prestige Disney tv show for shitposting. She thought she had social latitude that she just didn’t when working for Big Mouse. Shockingly naive if I’m honest.

That somehow everything has a side in the culture wars is a real tragedy of our time. Because a couple years pass and whatever dumb stunt that got you put on team red or team blue probably gets forgotten. Normal people have moved on and the discourse gets digested eventually into common knowledge. Memory is a fickle thing. Madeleines and Proust or something in that direction.

If you are team red you go into an alternate universe where apparently being a dick with a right wing slant on YouTube gets you 50 million dollar media deals. I assume there are as many opportunities as now being on team red is a real badge of honor and whole media ecosystems arise because it’s an actual demographic. Shocking somehow to some people but I guess I’ve always lived adjacent to team red. I’ve be always known you could make money on that audience.

I suppose the real tell is that if you are team blue you don’t really change ecosystems at all if you pick their side in the culture war. You get to maintain your plum gig at Disney. You do not have Ron DeSantis gunning for you. I hear that woke mobs come to get you but I’ve never actually seen it in action. The worst part of my chaotic evil leftist Twitter bubble stops at Taylor Lorenz though I am aware that a murky left exists beyond Chapo Trap House and I know about Tankies.

It just seems so strange to take sides in any of this nonsense if your aim is to make a living as a performer. Sure maybe you can cater to one niche or another. But really isn’t the whole point finding the things that bind us all in the human experience? I always assumed art was meant to transcend whatever petty shit happened while making it.

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 748 and Molly Millions

I’ve been rewatching the excellent Amazon adaption of William Gibson’s The Peripheral. I’ve said if before but no single artist has had a bigger impact on my aesthetics than him. As the father of cyberpunk, his impact looms large over the computing industry.

Molly Millions is a cyborg in William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy which includes the famous Neuromancer. A dark brunette, she has mirror shade eyes and razors under her nails. Molly is first introduced in the shorty story Johnny Mnemonic which became a Hollywood thriller with the same title. In the movie, Molly is renamed as Jane but is fundamentally the same character.

The cover of William Gibson’s Neuromancer with Molly Millions.

In Johnny Mnemonic we have an entirely new aesthetic for Molly Millions as Jane. The brooding inaccessible brunette is replaced with a curly haired blonde played by Dina Mayer.

Dina Mayer as Jane in cyberpunk style.
On the far left, a strong jawed and sharp featured Jane in a cyberpunk bar
Dina Mayer as Jane

I personally loved Dina Mayer’s energy in Johnny Mnemonic. She brought a kind of girl next door folksiness that brought a lot of humanity to the problems of being a cyborg. She was light where technology dictate a darker aesthetic. Cyberpunk needed a Betty. I assume some of this is related to the creative direction of photographer (of Men in Suits fame) Robert Longo but it could have easily been Dina Mayer’s rising star in Hollywood. I hadn’t thought much beyond it until I watched the Peripheral.

But now all I can see in the Peripheral is how much Flynn Fisher (as played by Chloe Grace Moretz) looks like Dina Mayer’s Jane. In my fantasy, it’s like I’m seeing the first woman Willian Gibson ever loved. It almost makes a romantic of me imagining a world where a curly haired blonde mattered to him. But the essence shared by Moretz and Mayer is hard to deny.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

I see a lot of little similarities between the two actresses but it’s ultimately the affect. The bold lip and the harsh pulled back hair is contrasted in softer moments with wild curly halos and warm inviting features. Flynn is a southern girl. I’ve got no idea if Jane had a heritage. But now I’ll always wonder why the dark mirror shaded women of Neuromancer became a blonde.

Categories
Community Emotional Work

Day 731 and Starting Year Three

2022 was a good year for me, but it wasn’t without its losses. I have a tradition on New Year’s Eve with a very old and dear friend. We’d send each other a scene from a comedy show about hipsters in Brooklyn.

The show made a special new year’s episode. In it, the characters play a game where they do absolutely unthinkably cruel thing to their friends. But it all must be forgiven at midnight because “Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas!” Their tradition is you have to forgive each other no matter what has been done.

The Burg

In the real world forgiveness is trickier. Sending the “Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas” was a tradition that stretched some fifteen years. Going into 2023, if did not happen. I’d rather not get into the specifics but some things cannot be forgot even in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne. I hope some year down the road it can be restarted, but sometimes you don’t know what can be forgiven till you do. Fixes, remedies, and recovery take time to mend and set.

For old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
In the days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788

I did however, begin the New Year with another respectable tradition. We managed to stay up till midnight thanks to the sparkling wit and hospitality of a new Montana friend’s dinner party. Champagne was toasted. Fireworks were set off.

It’s a strange way to ring in a new year by straddling the two years over midnight. Rare is the person for whom this isn’t a disruption to their schedule. I usually sleep by 10pm, but I found myself sleeping from 1:38pm to 10am on the first day of the year. And then still absolutely needing another nap that afternoon to recover. And I didn’t even drink except to toast.

And so a third year of this experiment begins with something lost and something gained. Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas. I still want more sleep. Revelry and late nights are harder the older you get. But I am excited for what this year will bring.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 722 and Extreme

When Stephen Colbert was still the titular character on his Comedy Central Show he had the perfect delivery for the word extreme. Imagine a wholesome Mountain Dew meets X Games meets Gen X meets Vin Diesel’s Triple X meme and you’ve got the basic delivery. Extreme!

White conservative beltway dudes pretending to like extreme sports is, of course, a joke from a simpler time. These days extreme sports are now just regular Olympic sports and Tony Hawk is old dude on Twitter. Gen X is turning 50 and the New York Times styles section has a feature on the gold rush for menopause.

Colbert’s kindly delivery of extreme being something fun, sugary and maybe a bit sporty, has given way to actual extremes. Tucker Carlson doesn’t pretend to be a cool for clout. Now we just go straight for extremist politics. All those years Colbert spent imitating Fox News anchors normalized their schtick to such an extent that Bill O’Reilly couldn’t keep up. Now I gather the Colbert spends his time atoning for this normalization by cracking bad Trump jokes. Or so I hear. I’ve not ever watched his new sincere late night show.

The other extreme we’ve got is weather. Which is what I’d actually intended to write about, before I spent multiple paragraphs explaining a joke. You see, America is in the middle of some very extreme weather. And every time I’ve checked the temperature in the last 48 hours I’ve recited Colbert’s extreme delivery in my head. It was terrifyingly cold in Montana yesterday. Bozeman got down to -45 Fahrenheit.

Extreme doesn’t seem like a fun word anymore. I’ve stopped associating it with snowboarding and yellow caffeinated drinks. Extreme is groypers meeting former Presidents and climate change upsetting the jet stream. We’ve collapsed arctic air into the lower forty right just as we’ve collapsed distinctions between parody and reality.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 681 and Boob Tube

In a sign of how emotionally over this week this week I am, the first thing I thought when I woke up was “I’ve got so much good tv to watch!”

I wasn’t allowed to watch television as a child. So it’s a bit ironic that it is my personal view as an adult that television is America’s best developed art form. While one can’t deny that impact American film, music and fashion, it is our television that moves global culture. Only Bollywood and anime have even come close to its impact in the last several decades.

I truly love television as a cultural mirror. I don’t think you can work in any of the culture industries (including Silicon Valley) without being aware of the mythology of television. Our archetypes and tropes are reinvented and reimagined over and over as references become anchors. No art is so naturally effective at reinvention as television returns episode after episode and season after season. No story is ever finished.

I’m particularly pleased that so many stories are returning this weekend. I’ll be watching new seasons of Mythic Quest, the Crown, Yellowstone and the Good Fight. Which is quite a lot of television for one person even on a weekend where you want to do nothing but tune out to the boob tube.

I’m only adding two two show new to my rotation this season and one is the absolutely excellent William Gibson project on Amazon called Peripheral. No one has ever done the near future as well as Gibson and his take on the Jackpot is already playing out. My last public event before the pandemic hit was a reading of one of the books that this shoe is based on It absolutely deserves wider recognition.

The other is a show I just began is called Reboot. It is an is oddly not at all solipsistic look at making a sitcom from the vantage point of formerly estranged father daughter pair of show runners. As someone who also followed in the footsteps of her father and has complex feelings on abandonment and family legacy it has been quite a comfort over the last week. As I look at history repeating within the context of my own family and within the wider financial markets, I appreciated considering that perhaps we are capable of overcoming our traumas. And that maybe all our parents ever wanted was for us to learn from them.

Categories
Politics

Day 664 and Political Disabilty

I did not watch the Pennsylvania senatorial candidate debate between Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman and Republican tv personality Dr. Mehmet Oz because I live in Montana. Why the fuck would I do that? But I have caught the discourse surrounding it and I do not like it.

If you are not following this saga, Fetterman had a stroke a few days before the primary in May. He is recovering but but is still having trouble with speech. People who are not familiar with neurological recovery processes (otherwise known as 99% of normal humans including me) are freaking the fuck out about what it means that his speech is impaired. It looks particularly egregious when compared to Dr Oz who is professionally competent at communicating clearly on television because that is his job.

Naturally we are seeing the absolute worst possible response to Fetterman’s current disability from just about everyone. Supporters of Fetterman are insisting that there is no evidence of mental degeneration or acuity issues. Which might be true but I don’t know. But the general sense I get from supporters is one cannot even suggest that there might be processing issues because doing so would you an awful ableist human being. Neat!

On the flip side, Republicans and other opponents are insisting Fetterman isn’t fit to hold office as he is not capable of speaking clearly. The Republican position seems to be that a speech impediment is a clear sign of mental decay and electing him is maybe a diverity and inclusion policy so wrong it should insult us all. Also extremely neat!

I’d say naturally both positions are ridiculous but I’m not sure this is natural to anyone. Ableism, or discrimination against the disabled, is an exciting new front in the culture wars. Being being disabled is a hot new identity marker despite the fact that a quarter of Americans have some form of disability. It’s not that unique or cool to be disabled. But modern medicine is a miracle so we can’t rely on Darwin anymore to keep us damned cripples out of sight anymore making light eugenics kind of a popular position. I don’t love it.

I am someone with a modest disability. I have a spinal condition called ankylosing spondylitis which is basically arthritis in my spine. So I don’t find any of the commentary surrounding Fetterman’s disability status encouraging. I don’t love that the basic assumption is being less than abled bodied is disqualifying for work. It depends! This shouldn’t be a whole fucking thing.

A disability doesn’t mean you can’t work like a “normal” person but it does mean you have some limitations to work around. This doesn’t make you better or worse as a person. Being disabled has no moral valence. Alas we tend to valorize suffering and demonize perceived weakness. Neat!

My position is most disabilities are sort of a modest inconvenience that on balance forces you to hone other abilities to be competitive. This is my super hero theory of disability and might be a contributing factor to the side that valorizes disability. How cool is it to be an X-Men? Extremely! But I don’t overweight this position as I largely think a market economy fixes by forcing us to all to compete and find our niche.

If this is scandalous to you, I’d say everyone has something that is a struggle to overcome even if most people’s thing is just being kind of an idiot. Half of us are by definition below average. But imagine if I thought you being stupider than me was disqualifying for holding political office.

My whole point in this long ramble is that the Democrats are being ridiculous in insisting we cannot look at the strengths and weaknesses that come with bodies being sick. We are on year three of the pandemic so that ship has sailed. The Republicans are being ridiculous insisting that speech impediments are disqualifying. Tump didn’t even have the benefit of a stroke to blame for his speech patterns.

It isn’t ridiculous to ask someone to be transparent about recovery and abilities. I’ve got no idea if Fetterman has slower thinking after the strike or if it’s just slower speaking. I don’t really care to be honest. Not my senator.

But if we all keep insisting on physical and mental perfection from our elected officials we might not have any politicians left. Which actually on second thought might be ok.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 616 and Choring

If I haven’t yet recommended it to you, my favorite sit-com is called Letterkenney. It’s about a group of young Canadians living in a small town in farm country. It follows the hicks, skids, and hockey players as they go about their lives of mostly manual labor and occasional drug dealing. This premise dramatically undersells the show which has the smartest writing and quippiest dialog this side of an Aaron Sorkin drama. Except it’s about ten times as vulgar and much less pretentious.

One of my favorite ongoing bits in the show is how everyone is always “choring” as a background. Or if you aren’t choring you need to get back at it. Want to go out? Pitter patter, let’s get at her by getting back to choring.

Between various work obligations today I have been getting back to choring myself. I had a whole host of both farm and house chores that got put away today in my frenzy of focus. First up was doing seed starts for my winter hydroponic lettuce and herb garden. I used this guide from my favorite resilient living website Unprepared.

We’ve had a lot of success with hydroponics in small indoor spaces with the LettuceGrow. We hadn’t yet done our own starts for it as we’ve had access to great nurseries. But our goal is to have a continuous seed to starter to full grown head of lettuce rotation system in place. If you’d like to try it out yourself, you can get $50 off with this link.

Feeling invigorated by the success of the mornings planting and by the nutrients in the head of butter leaf I harvested, I turned to other overdue bits of choring.

A grey bookshelf with an esoteric mix of books.

I unpacked and organized some of the books I keep on hand for reference materials. You might spot preparedness & resilience topics. Also my library on consumption, class & money. My capitalism meets Marxism meets political theory books. And then of course a lot of Greeks.

A pantry well stocked with dry goods

I then tackled the organization of the pantry. That’s got a long way to go but at least I took it from a bunch of stuff Willy Nilly into a basic organization. We’ve got shelves dedicated to dried fruit, an entire shelf for nuts, and other sundry spots for grains and sugars and the like. Shockingly there are drawers under this where I’ve put beans and lentils to keep the onions and potatoes companies.

I’ve got so many chores that listing out all the choring for one day both motivates me to keep at it but also reminds me that we get a lot day each day around the homestead.

Categories
Politics

Day 609 and Dark Brandon Rising

I really don’t know why I’m commenting at all on it except that capturing some of immediate sentiment of the moment has some value. But I watched Joe Biden’s Soul of America speech.

I wasn’t planning to but the siren call of the Twitter feed sucked me in. Like the rest of America, I feel the call of the discourse. And I have to say I’m surprised yet again at how divergent it feels.

I saw Dark Brandon Rising memes come to life. Our usually stumbling gaff prone president was on fire. Literally as the background was red. I want to know what they pumped him up with. And I don’t think it was a playlist. But he seemed passionate and he made as decent a play for the values of democratic norms as I’ve ever heard. But he also did it on a red lit stage with marines and the imagery of the presidency and norms means pearl clutching from all sides.

I don’t think it’s bad to call out that Trumpism involves election denialism. January 6th has a clear message even if it lacked finesse. It’s not like we are seeing Americans at their best after two years of pandemic. I suppose I recognize that it’s insulting and maybe insidious to say that some people are worse than others. But differences of opinions become a bit less valid when one wants representative democracy and one acts like brute power is fine if it serves their interests.

I felt like it came across decently and relatively unifying and I’m sad that this is a position that is contrarian or in dispute. I’m no fan of the man but I also don’t want to become Argentina or Albania. America is supposed to be better.