Thursday, June 30, 2016

Band Review: Harbors

Harbors appears to be one musician, David Shayne (joined by friends at least sometimes), operating out of Orange County, California. Even that amount of information required looking in more than one place.

I find that surprising because Harbors is one of the first bands I have reviewed that uses a Patreon. I am familiar with that option via various writers and bloggers. Often when people are asking for regular support in that manner, they are more personally open, and you are brought into this life that you are helping to support.

That made me wonder if gaining patrons would be harder with that sense of a wall standing there. There's not even an entry for the type of music. Genre classification is often inadequate, but it can still be helpful.

In fact, I am not sure how to describe the music. I suspect it would end up being classified as alternative, and that might not be particularly helpful. It's guitar-driven, with some keyboard accents. It is not acoustic, but an unplugged set shouldn't require too much adaptation. My favorite tracks were "Stranger" and "Glass Heart".

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Close to home

In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting I had reached out to some gay friends, concerned that they would be hurting. Talking with one of them, actually, we were both hurting over it. Still, a difference for me was that it didn't make me feel more vulnerable; no one is targeting straight white people.

Those conversations, and some others that happened around different things, will probably eventually be their own post. This anecdote is just here because, shortly after that, something happened to make me feel more vulnerable. A man was shot walking near my house. When I say near, we are third house down in the cul-de-sac, and he was shot right outside of the cul-de-sac. That is really close. Beyond that, what I have not told anyone yet is that I was almost there.

I have been thinking about how I need to be walking outside more. That is the exercise that works best for me, mentally and physically. I was trying to work out a time that would be safe for me and when I wouldn't be leaving Mom alone. In the morning, while my sisters are getting ready for work seemed like the best time. Some of the streets would be busy then, but I could at least do laps around the park, I thought. I nearly set my alarm Sunday night to do that. He was shot last Monday morning while my sisters were getting ready for work.

It doesn't ultimately mean that the area is unsafe. The shooter has been arrested, and in a relatively short time. There was a confrontation, indicating prior knowledge of each other. (They haven't released any motive, as far as I know.) It didn't even happen in the park, but outside the park. If I was at the top of the walking loop, I would actually be farther from it than I was in my bedroom.

I also could have been on my way back, or just coming around. And then, if there were a witness, could it have not happened?

One other thing that came up in the previously mentioned conversation was that my friend kind of felt guilty feeling more vulnerable or anything like that, because this wasn't about him. I feel that here. I'm not the one who died, I'm not the one going to jail, and I am not the families that are grieving and upset. That's something I think about too.

There is still an awareness that there was danger nearby, and it's an uncomfortable feeling. It's human. I'm human. Maybe something gets our attention because it is so close, or because it is so big, and then with some time and distance we get back to normal. Saturday evening all four of us took a walk in the park, and it was full of children. There are flowers set up across the street as a memorial to the victim, but I have already gotten used to them being there.

One incident is a blip. Some blips are more personal than others but can still be viewed separately. Then sometimes there is a pattern. That's something we'll look at Monday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Things we get wrong when we talk about guns

There are several popular arguments that come up all the time when talking about gun control.

I am not interested in getting into arguments about weapons definition of assault weapons ("that's not automatic; it's only semi-automatic", "there's no such thing as an assault rifle"). Those arguments seem to exist solely for gun enthusiasts to show disdain for others, and anything where we are focusing on looking down on other people is counterproductive.

There are guns that make it possible to be much deadlier much faster, and they are often involved in headline grabbing big shooting incidents that drive the conversation, but it's probably the wrong conversation.

That's good, because going there will next result in very fatalistic arguments: "You can't stop them; they would just find another way." Keep that in mind when it comes to suicides, because that comes up a lot there too, and it's a lie. Sometimes all you need to do is stop someone in one moment to get them to their next moment. Don't lose track of hope, because we will need it.

The most common legislative reforms mentioned are universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles. Most gun deaths are not committed with assault rifles. It's the children playing with the handgun that is supposed to be there for protection, or maybe the rifle that is used during hunting season. It's accidents when hunting season is celebrated with beer. It's the argument that breaks out between relatives. It's the escalating domestic abuse. It's someone taking offense to another driver, or loud music, or someone texting in a theater. The mass shooter in our mind was specifically planning on killing; a lot of these deaths - even the ones that aren't accidents - still weren't that intentional.

That's going to be harder to fix by legislation. Even if you focus on safety training, where do you put it? As a part of a school curriculum? Lots of people will object to that, and you don't get those who are already adults. License people for gun use, including passing a test on gun laws and safety? There are already so many people with guns out there.

I have a friend who works a suicide hotline, and she learns a lot through that. One big problem is that often when you have a suicidal member of a household, and you ask the other family members to at least temporarily remove the guns, they won't do it. It is their right to keep guns! Well, I guess it is also their right to lose a family member, but even for my most difficult family members I know what I would do and give up to keep them alive, and I can't comprehend that you wouldn't find somewhere else for the guns.

We are not always sound in our decision making about guns. For those who are more against guns, there can be a strong emotional revulsion to the associated violence, where they do not understand that it can be reasonable to enjoy guns and want to have them around. For those who love guns, it can become so entwined with identity that any attempts at changing the status quo can feel like a personal attack. Neither attitude is helpful.

My thoughts go in three directions on this, and it will not be practical to explore all of them today. I'm not sure how long it will take to get there, but we will be looking at background checks, and racism, and mental illness, and how we talk about things, and interpersonal violence and sexism and toxic masculinity, maybe not in that order.

Look, if the answers were simple we would have fixed everything already.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Congressional Sit In 2016

Wednesday morning House democrats started a sit in to attempt to force a vote on four gun control measures that Paul Ryan refused to allow. House Republicans responded by turning off the cameras, to which the protesters responded by live streaming via Facebook and Periscope. It was ultimately unsuccessful, as the representatives adjourned still without voting on the bills, but even before that it attracted a lot of criticism.

I am becoming less patient with those who just dump on others without bothering to do anything themselves anyway, but there can still be value in looking at the questions and in examination. That's what I want to look at today.

Now, for people who actually are trying to accomplish good things, the most common criticism is that the laws they were trying to get votes on were the wrong laws. They have some good points, but I am going to try and explore that side tomorrow.

Gun control itself has been a contentious issue for a while, but the four bills in question and the protest were fueled by the Orlando nightclub shooting, which leads to an earlier criticism that's worth addressing.

The Orlando Club Shooting is not the worst mass shooting in history; Wounded Knee was.

An estimated 300 were shot and killed at Wounded Knee. That is deadlier, and so some have amended their statement about Orlando to call it the worse mass shooting in modern history. By most definitions of the term, 1890 would be included in modern history.

My initial problem with the complaint is that it feels like an attempt to minimize what happened in Orlando. In a time when hate speech against the queer community and immigrants and people of color is on the rise, a shooting in a gay nightclub on Latin night needs attention. Distractions from that seem harmful.

I also understand why the complaint would be made. Too often we act like atrocities against Native Americans didn't happen, and that they are non-issues now. If calling Orlando the worst makes them feel disappeared again, I don't want to contribute to that.

There are still some key differences. I don't know how many soldiers were at the Wounded Knee massacre, but there were at least 25 dead and 39 wounded. In terms of havoc wrought by a single individual, there is still a proportion where Orlando stands out.

That may be splitting hairs, but another key difference is that because it was the army escorting prisoners, the Wounded Knee massacre falls under the umbrella of state-sanctioned violence, like police shootings. That is not a justification, and there are important discussions to have about that. There is also an important discussion to have about how some people feel more acceptable as targets than others, and there's a lot to correct. The comparisons to Wounded Knee may have been intended as a teachable moment, but it felt like it was in the space where we still needed to be focused on binding up wounds. There can be legitimate arguments against that, but that was how I felt.

Now let's focus on Paul Ryan.

One thing he did was call it a stunt. The internet reminded me of two things in response. One was that the Ryan family once spent fifteen minutes in an empty soup kitchen for a photo opportunity. I had known that, and not thought about it for years, but the internet never forgets.

The other thing was more to the point: as of February, the House has voted 63 times to repeal Obamacare. That does kind of feel like a stunt. I would think that after the first twenty attempts you could figure out that the votes aren't there and move on to something useful.

That actually leads to another criticism - the protest was pointless because even if the votes were allowed the bills would have failed. That might seem like a reason to just let the vote take place, except what Paul Ryan and House Republicans know is that gun control is extremely popular with voters. Support for universal background checks consistently polls from around 85 - 93%. However, Republicans get a lot of money from the gun lobby. For many representatives there would be a choice between angering their voters or their bread and butter, which may not feel that symbolic. Yes, there would be value in them having to publicly make that choice.

Ryan said that the Democrats were introducing chaos and possibly threatening democracy. I think the guy who turned the cameras off we doing more to threaten democracy, and we have been reminded how technology can help. There are multiple ways to get a message out. There are lots of people keeping track and researching and bringing things back up. Those are some good reminders.

Let's also take a moment to remember that stunts and symbols can be important. Protests were important in the Civil Rights Movement, but they also happened in conjunction with economic pressure and working with elected officials on legislation. Those parts might not be remembered as well, because it was the protest that got the attention, but that attention is important.

For people who have been waiting for Congress to act on guns, this is your reminder that House Republicans won't even hear a bill drafted by someone in their own party, let alone from the other side of the aisle. How many of those seats are up in November? It is not too early to think about that.

Protest can energize those who see it, but it can also energize those who do it. It must be very frustrating to deal with the gridlock and the obstruction, but these participants have shaken off some dust. They have joined a sit-in with John Lewis! How do you think that would feel? And when he says they must look forward to July 5th - the first day back after the break - they can do that, rested and ready to go forward in unity.

John Lewis is one of my heroes, but I am proud of Suzanne Bonamici, my representative, for her participation. I was happy to see Earl Blumenauer there. It's been a long time, but if I recall correctly the first time I saw criticism of Blumenauer, years ago, was that he was too by-the-book and boring; well he's a chaotic threat to democracy now, bow tie and all!

I have great faith in Paul Ryan's ability to obstruct, but I have faith in the sit in participants too, to keep pushing back. I hope they can be an inspiration to the Senate that refuses to hold confirmation hearings.

Capitol Hill needs a jolt sometimes. This could be one.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Band Review: PEAR

A funny thing happened with this review.

I want to be better about working bands off of my Recommended list. I saw that Dave Hause had recommended a band called Pear and found this one. I started listening, and I begin to think it was the wrong band. In trying to figure that out, I saw a reference to one of their last public appearances.

So, this PEAR band is not the only band named Pear that I will ever review, but if you like this one and want to see them love, you have a limited amount of time to do so. It was a married couple based in Calgary, Alberta and they are divorcing. They are fulfilling all contracted appearances through the fall, but that's it.

(I believe this is the saddest band breakup I have encountered, but they seem to be keeping a positive attitude.)

So, briefly, before they are gone, at one point they describe themselves as pop/folk/country, but on a different page they reference roots music, and that feels more accurate to me. There is a modern twist.

One good reference point might be to listen to their version of "Tennessee Waltz". It is updated in its delivery, though still with some traditional instrumentation, and it sounds completely contemporary, but not.

"Tennessee Waltz" is a good introduction, but my favorite track has been "Dance of the Chicken Snails", which has charm beyond the title. "I'll Love It" may be the most traditionally "roots" music, the "Eleanor Rigby Smooth Criminal" track may be the best example of their modernity, and "Dali's Dream" may be the intellectually boldest, but there are also sweet and charming songs all the way through that have their own simple appeal.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Band Review: Brian S Carr

Brian S Carr is Los Angeles based composer for film and television.

His review came up at a bad time, just as his home page was expiring. I saw the nicely organized page, and knew it was there, and then I ended up listening to everything via Soundcloud, which is not as nicely organized. A media composer has different promotional needs than a band trying to get gigs and sell downloads, so it's highly possible that the other page was superfluous, but I liked it.

For the Soundcloud page, Carr has the greatest variety I have heard among composers. There are the epic mood pieces, which is common, but there are also more upbeat pieces (some of the songs for the Russian film 8 First Dates remind me of tango music) and even things like a reproduction of "Eye of the Tiger" for "Family Guy" so Peter could sing over it.

Listening through is a good reminder of how much versatility is needed for some endeavors, and how there are people who can provide it.

Personal favorites are  "Cabdango" and "Your Love".

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thoughts on Roots - Connected

Having loved Roots the book so much, it was disappointing to hear claims of plagiarism and fabrication. It looks like there are two main issues. The section on the ship from Africa pulled largely from another novel, Harold Courlander's The African (1967). Then for the ending, it appears that government officials told the griot whom Alex Haley spoke to - who may not have been a griot at all - to give him a good experience. Therefore, what Haley found in Africa may not have been real, but he may have thought it was. How the makers of the mini-series handled both of those sections impressed me.

In The African there is a revolt on ship, and some time of freedom before being recaptured by French troops. I suspect the revolt in the mini-series, and possibly even Kunta Kinte's time escaped and joining an English army were nods to Courlander, and that feels appropriate.

For the issue of plagiarism itself, and being able to be fooled in Gambia, based on the book Haley only really had three pieces of information: a name (Kunta Kinte), a place (Camby Bolongo, which would be Gambia Bolongo, or the Gambia River), and the name of an instrument.

Reading the book, you can see that a lot is filled in. There are parts of his heritage that he has to imagine and doesn't know. It makes sense that he would have been researching a lot, where the copying from Courlander may not even have been intentional. You can kind of tell that when time passes with only the current events that were well known historically being discussed in the book. I think Haley felt a limited freedom to invent.

When it gets to Haley's grandparents, there is more detail, but even then, all that is known of two great-uncles is that one was angry and one was fat, and that could just come from faces in a picture. Not all stories get passed down. One reviewer of the mini-series pointed out that the real Kunta Kinte would have encountered other slaves from Africa, and not been the lone one. Probably, but if the family lore is that he was from Africa, and that was unique about him, that's how you remember it.

The most painful thing about the book was how connections ended. After Kunta was kidnapped, you never find out how his parents react or about the men his brothers grew to be. We don't know if Kizzy's parents tried to run away after she was sold, or if their hearts simply broke. That was how it happened for his family. That was how it happened for many families.

A thing I loved from the book was how when George started thinking about buying freedom, it wasn't enough to get his and his wife's, or even the children and his mother. They also needed their fellow slaves. When Kizzy was ripped from her parents and immediately impregnated, they became her new family, and then George's, and that wasn't going to change.

The new mini-series hints at that in the scene where a newly-returned George talks to Miss Malizy, but it also carries it further. An escaped Kunta Kinte tries to protect another young soldier, and his grandson George later tries to do that as well. In both cases, the young men die, additional losses in a long tally. It is completely understandable, then, that Fiddler tries to resist his growing affection for Kunta Kinte, and that Mingo tries not care about anyone, let alone George. It is also appropriate that they fail. Attachments form. They bring pain, but they don't only bring pain. So when George tells Cyrus that they are his family if he wants them to be, of course he does. He could not be any other way.

That brings us to the last scene. There is a familiar face again, with Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley writing. He narrates that truth can only be known as stories, reminding us that we have been shown things that are possible, but we don't know.

The scene in the book where Haley is embraced by people he believes are his distant relatives is really moving, and knowing it could be based on a lie, it wouldn't have been right to film that. Instead, they have two of the people he has been writing about come stand behind him, and put their hands on his shoulders. That seemed so impossibly cheesy, and completely incongruous with all that had come before. I should have known it wasn't going to end there.

The room opens up and they move forward and there are old photos, and then others step out of the photos, and they recognize Haley and he recognizes them, because they are family. That is true.

I have two personal experiences I want to share.

In family lore, my great-grandfather left Tennessee because he didn't like his stepmother. My great-great-grandfather was married three times and had fourteen children. Because of my great-grandfather's side, I thought of his father as being kind of selfish - just keep getting married and having more kids instead of focusing on the ones you have.

I felt that until some distant cousins compiled a genealogy, and they included a letter from the last surviving child of the fourteen. She was raised by relatives for the most part, and she wrote that her father just wasn't much of a hand with the kids.

That was when I imagined how hard it was to keep being widowed, and to believe you need a woman to take care of the children and to lose her again, and it looked different. I could feel something different for him then.

The other is getting to know the family on my mother's side. We knew about each other before, we were connected before, but then when you have spent time together, and talked, and you look at the pictures and recognize each one instead of it just being a photo, that's what happens.

I recognize you. I know you. I love you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thoughts on Roots - The more things stay the same

Actually, let me start with some thoughts on Jackie Robinson too, because that felt very familiar. The protesters marching with signs staying "Stop Police Brutality" and the way people initially were jerks, and then grew to love him, and then got mad at him as he became more outspoken, and even Robinson dying so young, with his body wearing out faster than it should have, all of that felt really familiar. So, let's look at that in the context of "Roots".

There was a lot of good acting, most of it by people I had never seen before. One of the familiar faces was Forest Whitaker, who broke my heart in multiple scenes as Fiddler. The last time was his death, when as Kunta Kinte and Fiddler go out to name the new baby, they are stopped by a patrol looking for runaways who threaten to take the baby. Fiddler sacrifices himself to save the father and child.

They were on their owner's property after the work day was over - there was no reason for them to be harassed, except that it was allowed. These were white men of no status, but they could still abuse slaves, even without being the "owners".

Many people have noted the influence of antebellum slave patrols on modern law enforcement, which has taken a different form in the United States than in Europe, but what it reminds me of most is an abusive, self-loathing man appointing himself neighborhood watch captain and stalking and shooting an unarmed teenage boy. The language that was used to defend Zimmerman has been used to defend other racists over and over again, tearing away the humanity of Black people to turn them into brute beasts.

When George is preparing to take his newly free family out of the South, the older Murray hopes that an extra chicken can make them want to stay, but his son tells them they can't go, he won't let them, and they are going to be slaves again. That would seem like empty "the South will rise again" posturing, but knowing that Jim Crow and debt peonage is on the way - with due process being a joke - and that it will be followed by mass incarceration in a land of economic inequality, it is a foreboding prophecy.

Most of all, the thing that doesn't change is the "good" owners. Doctor Waller might be less about beatings and greed than his brother, but he will still hit you when he misunderstands something you say as disrespect, and he will still sell your daughter away for learning how to read, despite it being his niece who taught her. The older Mister Murray will apologize for selling your three children downriver when times are hard. And Missy loved Kizzy so much that she was going to buy her, but she still is gravely offended that Kizzy helped with a slave escape.

That is the most amazing thing - the offence taken. Tom Lea is not one of the "better" masters, but he is still offended that Kizzy would want to leave. "I don't beat you or work you that hard!" In that case the real offence may be that she doesn't consider the raping to be love, but there is no way he would get that. He's the one who sold George moments after freeing him. "Do you know what it's like to be rich for one day?" Probably something like being free for one day.

And maybe you think that it's not like that anymore, but when you see people in conferences today who think slaves should have been grateful for being fed and sheltered, no, that hasn't changed. And when you see, as I recently have, people adding a person of color because diversity is important, and then becoming angry and paranoid when that person does not do the same thing they would in a situation, no, that has not changed. There's still a long way to go.

Today's post is kind of a bummer. Tomorrow's should be more uplifting, but if we will honestly look at that long way to go, and make progress on it, then posts like today are uplifting too.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thoughts on Roots - Violence

Last week I finished watching the new Roots miniseries. I also finished the Jackie Robinson documentary I had been trying to get to since April, so the DVR and I are both feeling lighter.

There are a lot of thoughts all over the place, and I am going to try and get them sorted out here in a somewhat logical manner.

The first thing I want to say is that I read and loved the book, but I never watched the original mini-series. I'd thought about watching it at times, but it came on in 1977 when I was five years old. It was heavily promoted, and the image seared in my mind was the axe about to go down on Kunta Kinte's foot. That seemed so horrible to me.

I know, not that long ago I wrote that I wasn't squeamish. I'm not about medical things, and so far I have never seen anything that nauseates me, though some smells come close. However, I am really subject to sympathetic pain. For medical things, it is to help and steps are taken to control pain, so I've eaten dinner while a surgical show was on and it was no big deal. Hearing about pain - real or fictional - or seeing it does affect me. The horror of that anticipated pain of amputation stuck with me for years.

Being 39 years older didn't help with that. I'm sure they showed more, and they showed the continuing effect of the injury, and the overseer touching the injury to make him hurt, and I was totally aware.

One of the reviews I read was somewhat critical of the violence shown, not so much for its graphic nature, but that there was so much resistance shown by the slaves, and they considered that to be a side-effect of being in a post-Django Unchained society. I see the point, but I think that is also selling the creators short.

One difference between 1977 and 2016 is that Juffure was shown as much bigger in the newer one. That is more accurate. Alex Haley said that he did not think people would accept the sight of a large African city, but that is something we should be able to imagine now. (Can you imagine if they had shown Timbuktu?)

We should also be better able to handle stories of rebellion now. Amistad came out in 1997, so we know that rebellions could happen on a ship. We should then not be too surprised to find out that it happened more than once. We know that escaped slaves enlisted in the military, so we should be able to accept that. There were two deaths where it seemed like there would have been more fallout, but even then I can imagine how it would have worked out*. Generally, most of the things that happened seemed pretty plausible, including that there was much more violence inflicted by owners upon slaves than vice versa. (And sometimes not even by owners but just rollers on patrol, or anyone else who took a notion, because that's how it was.)

Gore was not generally dwelled upon. The Fort Pillow massacre could certainly have shown more, and yet it got the point across. They did use restraint.

In some ways, the most graphically disturbing scene was a duel between two land owners, Irish upstart Tom Lea and disgustingly arrogant on account of being born rich and not Irish William Byrd. While the set-up showed exactly how horrible the land-owners could be too each other, and how high the stakes for the slaves were, the duel itself showed exactly how ineffective and stupid and ugly that pride could be.

They wounded each other, and were in horrible pain, but would not stop until one was ready to essentially murder and the other decided he would rather yield than also be stabbed, though he would have felt no concern at turning murderer himself. It was disgusting, and that is exactly as it should have been.

The violence was merely one aspect of the show. I should have thoughts on some other aspects over the next two days.

*Spoilers: For me, that was when Kizzy killed one of her captors trying to escape, but she was worth $600 and he wasn't, and when George killed Frederick. Self-defense was not generally allowed, but they were leaving anyway; maybe they just left fast enough.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Band Review: Plug88

Two months ago I mentioned running into someone at the Rose Quarter Transit Center whom I would eventually review.

That was Craig Metke, or Plug88. I suppose it's most appropriate to call him a DJ, but I generally think of that as someone who keeps a dance party going. That may be something Craig does sometimes, but from the Tri-Met conversation it sounded more high-concept, and that was borne out by listening.

His card showed a Soundcloud link, but that was not working. I was able to find four sets - organized into episodes - on Mixcloud (a site with which I was previously unfamiliar).

88 uses a mix of movies and music on related themes to create his sets. The pieces may not immediately appear to relate to each other, but there are themes evoked.

I have no idea how the sets come across at a performance. I don't spend a lot of time in clubs, but I still kind of know what people do with dance music. This seems more like music to sit and listen to, or maybe to have visual imagery that you can watch. Some performance dates are listed on a Facebook page, but I did not see anything listed for the near future.

Nonetheless, it's interesting.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Concert Movie Review: Mötley Crüe: The End

Tuesday night I went to see a film of Mötley Crüe's final concert in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. All night I was dealing with a paradox: I both like and don't like Mötley Crüe.

They are good musicians. Watching Mick Mars shred is still amazing, and I saw Tommy Lee play while moving and upside down. They are good at what they do, and just hearing the intros on a lot of the classic old songs is exciting.

But generally speaking, I don't like their music thematically. Strippers, smoking, drugs - these are not my favorite things, and they get tiresome. It's not unexpected, like the apparent impossibility of completing a sentence without using any expletives, but it grates a little.

That aspect may have been best demonstrated by the two dancers. They had microphones sometimes, so I guess they were backup singers, but I never heard them, there was nothing in the music indicating that backup singers were really needed, and the choreography wasn't anything special to add to the songs. They were simply there to indulge male fantasy, and completely unneeded when there was so much other spectacle.

And there was spectacle! It was such a big show. In addition to Tommy Lee's roller coaster drum kit, Nikki Sixx had a flamethrower bass, which was a lot of flame, but small compared to the overall sea of pyrotechnics. Toward the end of the show, large arms descended from the framework, and Sixx and Vince Neil jumped on them, getting their own turn to be raised above the crowd as confetti flew. Just as you thought Mars was the only one being left bound to the stage, the platform beneath him - which had showed no previous signs of being able to do so - began moving upward, lifting him too.

Much of that was new for their final show. The drum coaster has been traveling with them, and in what I believe was unplanned but perfect, it broke as Tommy reached the far end. Normally it would have taken him back to the stage.

They just rolled with it. He released his sticks, letting them drop to the crowd, and talked a little while two techs climbed up and helped release him. Then he climbed down the frame like it was no big deal. (The concert footage was interspersed with interview footage, so I have no idea how they got the drums back for the rest of the show.)

The malfunction underlined the finality of this performance, but that came through in the interviews too. Mötley Crüe is done. They've been very clear about that. In separate interviews they all confirmed that they will probably not see each other anymore. Their tour manager confirmed that on the tour they ride separate buses and usually stay at separate hotels.

It makes sense because they are obnoxious. They want to be. Their philosophy for planning the tour was think of the most obnoxious thing possible, and then double it. They are awesome being obnoxious, but it can grate, and apparently that includes them grating on each other.

Being Mötley Crüe may mean being obnoxious, but they own it. They do it gloriously. They may fight with each other, but if anyone targets one of them then the rest have his back. They each got their own moment on stage. Instead of playing a bass solo, Sixx talked to the audience for a while, and it was a sweet moment that would have seemed a mismatch with the rest of the show, but it was about persistently disobeying his grandparents and getting a knife.

And that's the paradox of Mötley Crüe. I may shake my head at them, but then I'm smiling too. I wouldn't want to be in that band, and maybe even they would be happier in a different kind of band, but they've still had something pretty cool. When they decided to go out they did it in the biggest way possible, hitting every city they wanted with a huge show, and closing by bringing in 2016 in the city where they got started.

Good on them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Learning to trust in me

In this process, taking a realistic view of things is important - you don't lend out money you can't afford to lose - but that in itself does not require trust; that was just learning that some things weren't about me.

That de-personalizing was huge, but it doesn't solve everything either. Even knowing that some people will be kind to you because they are good people can play tricks with your mind when you think that is the only reason anyone is kind to you. It can be so easy to see worth in everyone but you, and that's not what I was striving for.

For that last part, there are two things that helped. One is a matter of choice. I choose to be the kind of person I want around. I often don't have someone to listen to me, but I can listen. Sometimes I really want to be left alone to read my book or to think, but I still listen, because people need that.

Sometimes I also talk. I feel a need to greet someone or ask them a question or pay a compliment, and I feel like a nuisance but I do it anyway. It is often good.

Putting what I want in the world, and often seeing it go well, is empowering. That leads to the second help. Actually, I had written my own answer a few years ago.

It was back in the fan fiction, when Dante (old, desiccated, and fallen from his former glory) is trying to instruct Mikey (misunderstood teenager always ready to explode with anger) in Kung Fu (for which all of my knowledge comes from the internet).

Dante: I thought we needed to work on your mind, and we will, but we will start with part of kung fu deed: xin. Trust.

Mikey: How can I trust?

Dante: It is possible because it is necessary.

Mikey: Trust them? I can't even talk to them!

Dante: It is not merely trust for others. You must learn trust for yourself, trust for your body, trust for the laws of physics. Other trust will follow.

I ended up being proud of that section for what it was, but the pride was in creating something that felt real without feeling like it was about me at all. There was still truth in it for me.

I can trust because I can survive. I have loved and been rejected and survived. I have lost jobs and survived. I have been harassed for my political views and survived.

When my father and I reconciled after the first time he disowned me, it was a relief, but I also remember knowing at the time that if we ever fought again we would not make up. Because of that I was always very careful with him, extra thoughtful and acting as a peacemaker with everyone else.

There still came a time when there was another fight. It was a choice. There was something more important than keeping peace with my father, which was looking out for my mother. I survived that. I thought I would try and reconcile later, and found I didn't have the energy for it. That was still a choice, and I still survived.

That strength has been a long time building. Becoming open, where I can say anything and live with it, was built up over time. A lot of it happened through this blog, where I take ownership of my frailties, but also my abilities.

I believe there are good people. I believe in love. I believe in God and life after death. I believe in the power of kindness. That is why I can trust.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Trusting, Part 2

I think this is actually going to take me three posts. Knowing me, doesn't that seem kind of typical? That's one of the points.

One big part of getting comfortable with trust was that it stopped being personal. People are who they are. That can and does change, but it's not really about you.

I had to unpack my own concerns about whether or not I was lovable from it. That's okay, because that was one of the other topics, so I was always going to have to take a look at that. Regardless, I had to see that there are things I do for friends that I also do for strangers, because it is the right thing, or because they need it, or because it is easy for me to do and I am an obliging kind of person.

That is also true of various friends. They might come through in a pinch for me, but they would also do it for someone else. They come through because they are good people. It contributes to my liking them, though it is not the only factor.

Back when I was thinking about people I could rely on, and writing about People Pleasers and Attention Seekers, there was one friend I thought about. She read The 9 Types of Lovers and she was devastated to see herself as an attention seeker. She was an attention seeker, but I also enjoyed spending time with her. She knew a lot about music and her knowledge base was different from mine, so I always learned things talking to her. I knew when we went out that we would focus on her, and I was okay with it.

As I was thinking about boundaries, a quote from Maya Angelou kept coming to mind:

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

People are always telling you who they are. That can be a long conversation, because there are nuances, but again, that is about them, not you.

Part of my problem was that I would see that some people do get treated better for being beautiful and loved, but there's not a solid foundation to that. An impatient person may temporarily have more patience for a new girlfriend, but as they get into a routine, and comfortable with each other, he is probably going to revert to being impatient.

That's not horrible; affection for one person can even set you on the path to being a better person, though it will take time and some additional understanding where you begin to see the value beyond that person.

There is a great deal of beauty in being able to let people be fully themselves and not take it personally. You can appreciate their good points without resenting their bad points. Ideally, you will be able to view yourself that way too. Some things need to be looked at differently.

I was at a low point some time ago around my birthday. I ended up having a good dinner with some appreciated friends, but before getting there I was deeply hurt by a few declines and one invitation that was ignored. That was a time when I wished I was special enough to warrant the extra effort.

In retrospect, I did not let them know how important it was to me. If I had been thinking in those terms, I'm not even sure I would have decided it was important enough to ask them to cancel on their families for their other plans, but they had no way of knowing I was even thinking in those terms. And it would not have felt good to say, "Hey, I'm a wreck and feeling like a failure and I just need to believe I matter," but they were people I could trust with that information, and then if they still couldn't cancel they would have found some other way to be there for me.

I believe I can wrap all of this up tomorrow. Three posts isn't bad if you consider how many years getting here took.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Trusting, part 1

I'm late today. There's a heaviness to me now that I haven't felt since Sandy Hook. While there are other things going on now besides Orlando, there were other things going on then too. Sometimes it just seems like a horrible world full of horrible people.

I am not ready to write about that yet, but something that I was thinking about writing can fit, and I am going to try and do that.

I have trouble trusting. That insecurity manifests in different ways.

Once upon a time when I was in a singles ward that had regular potlucks, it meant always having to bring a main course, and probably a dessert too. Some of that was feeling that I needed to do more because I was not good enough on my own, but also, that was not believing other people would come through either.

Those twin concerns (of me not being enough and of other people not being reliable) led to a really exhausting life of over-functioning.

I was once a big fan of the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony. In the first one, A Spell for Chameleon, the protagonist Bink - along with Chameleon - is stuck traveling with Trent, who was exiled for an attempt to usurp the throne and is now back in Xanth to try and win the crown again.

One night they agree to take turns keeping watch, and Trent easily lets one of them take the first watch and goes to sleep. Chameleon and Bink debate about how easily he trusts them. Bink thinks it should be easy for Trent to trust them; knowing that he is the crafty and ruthless one, he should feel safe from anyone else. Chameleon points out that dishonest people are always waiting to be stabbed in the back because they think everyone is like them.

We do tend to believe others are like ourselves. I have definitely noticed that people who are always criticizing the attractiveness of others are never satisfied with their own looks, and assume that other people are looking down on them too. It also works in that people can have a hard time believing that someone they know and like would do a horrible thing, because they can't picture doing it, so how could their peer? It would make sense if someone who was always looking for ways to hurt others expected similar behavior from others; it would at least make justifying the harmful behavior easier.

Based on that, if I believed that I could never do enough or be enough, maybe it made sense to expect others' efforts to fall short, but that wasn't exactly right either. I did think other people could be enough. I didn't think they would come through for me, because I wasn't worth it, but why shouldn't I expect there to be enough food for the potluck that they were also eating at? Well, that becomes a tangled mess.

In fact, there was a time when I had been happily bringing only one thing, glad to participate and not worried about others. Over time the population changed, and there was a different group with an unfortunate percentage who might expect to eat without bringing anything, or where we might end up with a lot of chips.

At that point, there was some realism to my concern, but still too much personalization of it. It didn't need to be my problem, except that everything was my problem.

Now I am more careful about accepting responsibilities, but I still have a hard time trusting other people to carry out theirs. Sometimes this is reasonable. Not too long ago I had asked someone to be responsible for peeling and separating Mandarin orange slices. This is not a hard task, but it is a pain and I had other things I needed to do. It was a big step for me to ask someone else to take the responsibility. That made it a big setback when I later learned he still thought I was going to buy the oranges and bring them to him, adding enough hassle to erase any possible good that would come from him doing the peeling.

And that wasn't even trusting anyone with my heart or dreams or feelings!

It's not just that people can be horrible. People can also be petty or lazy or clueless, and it might not always be obvious until it's too late. Over-preparing for potlucks and refusing to delegate tasks can be tiring, but they are minor compared to being able to let someone into your heart. I knew I was losing something valuable by what I had closed off, but there were still too many things that made trusting look like a fool's game.

I did eventually find my balance, but I'll save that for tomorrow. Do you trust me to do that?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Band Review: DigDugDIY

I hated this round of listening. That's blunt, and feels mean, but I hated it so much.

There was a hint going in. The home page has a strobe-y triple GIF  of Kelly Kapowski from "Saved By the Bell", with twice as many Kellys (still moving, but not as much) in the background. I have some nostalgia for the show, and I like Tiffani Thiessen - with or without the Amber - but the page was hard to look at. After hurting my eyes, it was no surprise he would hurt my ears.

If there were less of it, I could have tolerated it better, but there was so much. There was occasional organization into an album, but still with many, many unaffiliated tracks and all jarring and discordant. And long! There were fifteen-minute tracks!

I felt bad for last week's review of Culture Code, because even though the listening was pleasant nothing stood out, but I forgot how important pleasant was. My dog kept leaving the room. I don't think that's happened since M-83. (And they were just boring; this actually set my nerves on edge.)

So, really, I did not like this band, and I feel bad because I could probably enjoy the person behind it, but I cannot enjoy or recommend this music.

But if you are into industrial or art noise or something, you might like it. If you do, congratulations because it just goes on and on.