Jul 12

Three feet tall, but a helluva forehand

I was looking for some Wimbledon matches to watch on a website that slant-rhymes with The Ferret Way, and saw something like this:

SABINE LISICKI (GER, 23) – AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (POL, 4)

It took me a moment to figure out that the number was their world ranking, not their ages. I don’t really follow tennis, but do have a few players that I enjoy watching play, so age is what occurred to me first.

I’m glad they are not letting four-year-olds play in Wimbledon.

Jul 11

Corporate zombies

Well, this is not a shock.

Being self-employed could hurt your chances of landing a corporate job, new research has found.

In a two-year field experiment, researchers found that self-employed individuals who sought company jobs scored significantly fewer interviews than peers who were employed by companies.

I’ve worked with people who were self-employed and then gotten corporate jobs. They are far, far less likely to just take corporate bullshit handed to them on a platter and pretend it’s filet mignon. That’s why corporations don’t want them – they are no longer fully zombies.

Jul 11

Losing people

Congratulations, you just lost 99% of the people who might’ve listened to you.

Today I learned that it is racist to cover a song.

It’s a good reminder why I don’t consider myself a member of the self-flagellating liberals, and neither am I anywhere close to being a conservative.

People say they don’t like being pigeonholed, but that is usually a lie. What they really don’t like is when you refuse to pigeonhole yourself for them so they don’t have to do all the work. And of course it’s just easier to pigeonhole yourself because it buys you a social group.

But I like being thoughtful more than I like having a social group.

A commenter from another site got it all too right: “Old: article. Really really old: Jezebel middle-class, college-educated white women arguing viciously over which of them is the least racist.”

Is it racist to like rap? Judging by this article, it would be. Not that I care at all. Because I like rap a lot and listen to it all the time. I don’t intend to stop because someone with all the deep thoughts of a sea anemone tells me that I shouldn’t.

And is it racist to be interested in other cultures? Most new things are cultural appropriations. Rock and roll is a cultural appropriation (I really hate that term, by the way) of hundreds of years of African-American musical traditions. So by that definition, any white person playing a rock song is racist.

And does this idiot Jezebel writer really think any artist would cover a song just to make fun of someone? That’s just moronic.

Or the even more daft interpretation is that no white/Latino person should ever cover a song that was originally performed by a black performer. What about if the song is “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs? Four members, half black and half white.

Guess I can only cover that one if I am Barak Obama or someone else with one black parent and one Caucasian progenitor.

When I used to play Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” on the piano?

Also like totally racist, of course.

Jul 09

Going South

My partner might not be a Southerner, but I’ve gotten her hooked on sweet tea, catfish and boiled squash.

Sweet tea made well and properly iced is about the best thing ever. How anyone can not like this simply mystifies me.

The catfish doesn’t taste as good as it did when I used to catch it myself and we’d eat it fresh from the river, but it still is pretty delectable.

And boiled summer squash is one of the side dishes with the best ratio of taste to effort. Takes 10-12 minutes to make and tastes better than most things that take hours.

Jul 09

Wimby

Andy Murray is supposedly the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years.

But Virginia Wade won it in 1977. Or don’t women count?

Also, why are there no women in the Tour de France?

Jul 09

ZD

It’s hard to feel bad for a woman worth millions of dollars, but an artist wanting to ban zillions of idiots holding up iphones and even ipads (yes, it does happen) to take terrible, shaky video of something happening right in front of their faces – well that I can understand perfectly.

I like a few She & Him songs. Never understood the Zooey Deschanel adoration from geeks (at least, adoration of her typical on-screen persona), but then the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype has always made me hurl. No, I’ve always been far more attracted to the Cosimas of the world anyway.

That aside, I am inveterate photographer but only do it when it doesn’t disturb other people. It’d never even occur to me to hold up my phone inside some concert venue and take photos or video. Anyone who does that should be thrown out as a matter of course, in my opinion.

Jul 09

Head off

There’s a state park in Maine called “Quoddy Head.”

That’s a good insult. I think I’ll start calling people “Quoddy heads.”

“That the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Shut up, you quoddy head!”

I like it.

Jul 08

Propped

Every time I encounter it and no matter how many times I do, I am surprised at how much privacy and freedom Americans are willing to surrender for just a little more convenience – and at the same time scoff as exaggeration at the documented and verified depredations on their lives and freedoms caused by ubiquitous surveillance, DRM, corporate overreach and the like.

I hate to say this, but it seems almost as if they want to be oppressed, as if they wear it as some sort of badge of honor. I was reading this comment thread about Microsoft’s SkyDrive when it hit me again just how pervasive and pernicious this line of thought is. Anyone who objected to Microsoft having access to data that they should not, and then sharing it willy-nilly with the NSA, was pretty consistently downvoted.

Note that this isn’t speculation. It is documented and known that Microsoft does this – the average American just doesn’t care.

But of course this is nothing new. Americans seem more easily hoodwinked by propaganda, and this has been the case for at least a hundred years if not more. I’ve read many scholarly examinations of this but I am still not sure that I or anyone understands exactly why Americans drink and eat up propaganda like nectar and manna, while Europeans and Australians at least question it a bit.

Jul 07

Tatiana

I have to tell you about Tatiana Maslany. sarah

Spawned from equal parts lyrebird, chameleon, and rakshasa, Maslany might right now be your dentist, your grandmother, your professor, your girlfriend or your best friend – and you wouldn’t even know it.

There is no way to overstate how good she is – she is an amazing actor who does things on screen I thought impossible.

Right now she’s the star of the BBC America show Orphan Black, which is worth watching even without how utterly fantastic Maslany is. The premise of the show is not that important in this context, but on screen she plays several different “clones” of herself – all of whom superficially look identical but who have lived very different lives and are therefore very different people.

She plays these doppelgängers so skillfully and so successfully that if I stumbled into the room and had never seen the show before, and were just catching it in the middle of an episode where Maslany is on screen as two or even three different versions of herself, I would have no idea at all that it is the same person.

alisonShe doesn’t just play a character. Maslany becomes that character.

The photos embedded in this text will show only the superficial differences, just the differences in appearance of each character that Maslany plays. That is really not even the smallest part of it. Maslany manages to change her mannerisms completely. Her voice sounds different as each character without sounding unnatural in any way. Everything about the essence she exudes is completely and utterly altered as Sarah, as Allison, as Katja, as Helena, as Beth.

Two parts of the show I want to mention specifically. The first is a part in episode 4 where Maslany as Helena walks into the police station where another Maslany version works (as an impostor, too complicated to explain here). The sense of menace and barely-contained violence that Helena radiates is so palpable it nearly bleeds from the TV screen. Watching Helena try to contain this baleful emanation, to try to be for a few moments the “impostor-police” version of Maslany gave the sort of frisson of which only great art is capable.helena

And in another part of the same episode, the soccer-mom-suburbanite version of Maslany must impersonate the street hustler/drug dealer Maslany clone, and this is done utterly brilliantly. Because for normal people – people not Tatiana Maslany, that is – impersonation of another person is extremely, ridiculously difficult.

So we have Maslany, as Allison, impersonating Sarah, and Allison’s Sarah is just too much. Mannerisms in Sarah that seem completely natural, such as her somewhat-macho walk, Allison at first can only imitate by walking like an ape intent on dragging its knuckles on the ground. In other words, a terrible caricature as most people would do it.

cosimaWatching Allison’s Sarah only makes you realize more just how subtle what Maslany is doing in all the many roles she plays – because Allison’s Sarah seems like a dime-store imitation of someone real, whereas Sarah, Maslany’s Sarah, seems like a completely real person that you might meet somewhere.

Maslany is in fact so good that it’s easy to tell when she’s being one character even as she’s dressed as a different one.

Entertainment Weekly said it best I think when they wrote, “There is no better special effect on TV than Tatiana Maslany.”

I could go on and on about Maslany’s raw fucking talent, but really – just watch the show.

Jul 05

It’s wild out there

We live smack dab in one of the most urban areas in the United States. But I live in Florida so I still get to see tons of wildlife.

Things I’ve seen just today, without even going outside:

1) Two great blue herons

2) About a dozen white ibises

3) A snowy egret

4) At least two great egrets, maybe more (hard to tell them apart)

5) A giant swallowtail butterfly

6) A wood stork

7) About a dozen frogs of unknown specie(s)

8) Two turtles

9) Cattle egrets

10) A dove

11) A hawk or merlin (these all look the same to me)

12) An anhinga

12) The fish it caught, briefly

13) One little blue heron

14) A male cardinal

15) A viceroy butterfly

That’s just looking out the window. I haven’t opened a door all day.