Friday, November 30, 2018

Band Review: Supaman

Last year I finally finished reviewing every rapper mentioned in the Tom Barnes Mic article, I thought. Then I realized that in addition to the eight featured songs and rappers, there was also a passing reference to Crow rapper Supaman. The article focused on newer, lesser known artists (at least for 2015) but what about the established rapper, who had been releasing albums since 2005?

This week I have been listening to Supaman.

I have to add that there is a level on whichI am not even capable of evaluating him. In addition to some traditional rap albums, there are several collections of tools and loops that I have no idea how you would use. He seems to be fairly prolific for that, but I have no basis for comparison. That's perhaps one thing about seeking out different artists. You learn a lot, but also there are things you just don't know.

Some things you can do. For example, I did not listen to any Rezawrecktion, the group he worked with early on. That could be a future review, but this review focuses on his solo work, which is pretty good hip-hop.

(I am also pretty sure I will add Maimouna Youssef, with whom Supaman recently collaborated, to the review list.)

My first time through, his 2013 release Gorilla resonated with me more, especially the parts about identity and Superman; it felt like a window into him.

However, on further listening I have to say that 2018's Illuminatives is a stronger record.

I believe that fits in with a pre-existing trajectory of continuous improvement, but with longer gaps between the two most recent albums, it becomes more obvious. Supaman continues to grow as an artist. I do not doubt that Standing Rock is a part of that - I have yet to see a native artist who has not been affected - but I suspect Supaman has been actively working on growth for a long time.

That's reason enough to check him out.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Band Review: Lido Pimienta

Lido Pimienta is a singer and songwriter from Colombia but in Canada, and with Afro-Colmbian and Waayu roots.

With that mix of elements, you could hear sounds from anywhere. I watched Latcho Drom recently, and some of Pimienta's music reminded me of the Romany music that was featured, especially on "Quiero Jardines".

The variety does make the music hard to describe. Higher pitches are often used, possibly as a way of bringing attention to what is overlooked but perhaps also contrasted with a low droning. I get a sense of rebelling against being ignored, but also against the alienation that could come from accepting the ignorance of the world. I found the opening on "Agua" instantly arresting. That is the opening track on her 2016 album, La Papessa, and a good starting place.

Pimienta was honored with a 2017 Polaris Prize. It was Digital Drum's tweet about her win that led me to do this review.

Not as embarrassed as I could be

I did not complete the Turkey Trot. I barely started it. I am okay with that.

I know between 2400 and 2500 people were signed up, and there didn't seem to be nearly that many people there. There may have been people who did even less. I remember hearing someone near me say that he would have been fine with taking the group picture and going back to bed. Still, I was there.

I'd had concerns about timing, but I had worked out a very specific plan for getting up early, getting dinner going, how long I thought the Trot should take, and what needed to be done for the Thanksgiving meal when I got back. The only thing I could not manage was the right amount of time for the rolls to rise, so I gave my sisters instructions for that.

Otherwise I was very organized. Wednesday night I set the turkey pan and the foil on the stove, next to the slow cooker and the brown sugar for the ham. I usually just cook the ham after the turkey comes out of the oven, but my sisters had expressed interest in this video showing slow cooker ham with pineapple and brown sugar, so I tried it. (I didn't care for it, but they thought it was good.) Other non-perishable items were on the counter. The pan for the rolls and the cooking spray and plastic wrap were on the opposite counter. My clothes were laid out with my race supplies in my hoodie pocket. I was set.

The morning went really smoothly. I had built in time for the animals to have needs, having learned from the last time we needed to be somewhere early. I got up, prayed, fed them, started the turkey, started the ham (which included de-boning it, because otherwise it would not have fit in the slow cooker, but I had tested that). I checked my blood sugar, medicated, and ate breakfast. The only variation in the plan was that I decided I would really feel better showering before, even if I would need to shower again later. I did that and still made my bus.

I was pretty proud of this. Planning and preparation had paid off. Then I was there at the starting line and it just didn't feel right. I tried to shake it off, because I had really been looking forward to it and I had written about it enough that people could totally have asked me about it. How could I not do it? But the mental "No!" was really strong, so I turned off into a parking lot, assessed, and decided this wasn't my thing. I considered doing something else, like going and walking downtown again, or this walking route I have around home, but ultimately going home felt best, so that's what I did.

In an effort to pack light I had not brought my keys. I did not want to pound on the door and get everyone out of bed, so I sent a text to Maria around the time where I know her alarm was set (also knowing that she was likely to hit "snooze") and Julie came and picked me up at the transit center. I did feel like a loser, but having gotten up, set a holiday meal going, and made it there while everyone else was in bed, no one at home was calling me that.

It was disappointing, but the decision to stop still felt right overall.

I think there were three possible factors in terms of why it felt more like "Do not do this!" rather than "This is not going to be fun, but push through anyway." (And I had expected it to be fun. I was just on that hill two weeks ago and I liked it.)

One is that I had not gotten enough sleep. I should have gone to bed earlier anyway, but then I just could not get to sleep. That was probably from having too much to do. Maybe most of the participants let other people cook.

Also, it is starting to get to be time to replace my shoes. My feet did not feel great, but again, I was wearing them two weeks ago and they worked fine.

Finally, my insulin dosage was recently changed, and I could not rule out that the exertion would lead to a plunge in blood sugar. Testing when I got home it was fine, but that was without doing much trotting. I had supplies for that, but let's say it plunged when I had gone up the hill and down and was at the part where you needed to start going up again - even with supplies on hand that would have sucked.

That last one is the biggest concern, where I sometimes wonder if my goal of doing a triathlon at 50 (for which the Turkey Trot was a step along the way) is realistic. If it's not, I can still get better at running, and get back into cycling, and develop some form for swimming (I enjoy swimming, but I know I could be better at it). The purpose of the goal was to know that I am entering 50 vital and moving, and I can still do that.

I also have to admit that I am not very vital now. Well, there are ups and downs to it. I do have some strength and endurance; they also get tested a lot in ways that are not fitness-related.

My post titles this week have been awkward and not at all snappy; they have also conveyed the moods of the posts and of my life right now. Said life is currently full of compromise and adjustment, but also one in which I am growing a lot, and where successes are small but there are still some.

I wanted to complete the event, I do not regret not doing so, and I still have some pride at my organization and execution of the morning right up until the time that I veered off to the side to look at the rest of the crowd and decide I did not belong in it. I have questioned whether I should have signed up in the first place. It felt like a good idea at the time.

That one is more complicated. If I had worked more on improving my sleeping patterns, or if I had been more proactive in working with the doctor so that my insulin dosage was already correct, would it have worked? But - and I say this fully believing that I do not achieve maximum efficiency - those things are hard, and I already have a lot of hard things to do. Navigating insurance and scheduling an appointment where I have coverage for Mom and am not conflicting with any of her appointments? There's a reason why yesterday was the first time I'd seen a dentist in two years. (Which did not turn out terrible, but I don't recommend that.)

So, that was my Thursday, and my Thanksgiving, but also this is very much me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Previously avoided fruit

I'd said that my tendency to use technology as long as possible was partly a matter of personality and partly a matter of economic situation. For the personality part, I hate wasting things.

I'm not saying that is completely disconnected from being poor now (and in the past), but it is also largely environmental. It stems from knowing that recycling doesn't help as much as reusing and reducing, and not being very materialistic and never really liking shopping (except for books, but I prefer to use libraries now).

I mention this because the reason my technology problems are ending is that my older sister found a good Black Friday deal on an All-in-One PC and bought it for me. I still need to get it set up (including wrapping the cables), but it will be brand new and I should be able to use it for a long time.

I do tend to hate Black Friday.

It's been easy to avoid participating in it. It is also easy to look down on participation in it, but I can't do that.

I know many people like to look and mock those who stampede like animals for cheap televisions. That strikes me a little bit as Hunger Games watching, though usually there aren't many deaths. Still, like that "People of Wal-Mart" page; you know, they are people. There may indeed be bad choices there, but many issues could relate to poverty, affecting access to healthcare and nutritional access and lots of other things.

Life is hard, and not having a lot of money doesn't mean you stop needing or wanting things. If some people take the chance, I can't fault them.

I have written about this before, but I avoided shopping at Wal-Mart for many years. That was a principled stand because of their impact on communities, and the way they get government subsidies by way of both corporate tax breaks and relief programs for their underpaid employees. Then they became the only affordable source of insulin. There are principles I could die for, but that doesn't seem like a reasonable choice here.

This year I have benefited from Black Friday. I would like a different economic system, but working within the current one, this is where I am.

I read some discussions on it on Twitter, and one tweet from @SeriousTyberius especially stayed with me. I will link, but also quote it:

The leaders didn't say, no one ride buses. They provided a car pooling framework, made demands known, and used their power collectively. I've seen too many folks in the same working class bracket going off on each other for buying from the wrong brand. It's tiring.
(It is linked to another thread that is pretty good, but much improved by blocking the graduate student who can't stop judging everyone else for just not trying hard enough.)

My point with that is that if we are going to make things better and equitable, it is going to have to come via cooperation and planning together. It will have to come by deciding to lift others up instead of always wanting to put others down.

I am glad to have this computer. Any complicated feelings I have about it will have have to be taken in stride.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gratitude via the less expected paths

Maybe there is not really anything strange in how gratitude comes about anyway, but something unexpected hit me, and it was a good thing.

Last week I mentioned people reaching out to me. As fear of losing connection has been a concern, that was reassuring in itself. In addition, one of the contacts was about my technology issues, seeing if she would be able to help.

In that instance, my problem was specifically just old hardware, for which the solution is replacement. However, part of that was her asking how old the items were. My answers ended up impressing me.

I don't know how old the PC itself is. It was given to me by the parents of a friend after they replaced it. Old enough to be replaced, I guess. Having it was still a big help, and that was something I was grateful for then.

With the other items, I appear to still be on my original LCD monitor. I think I have had through three PCs, not counting this one. Well, the first of those would have had at least some of its time with my old CRT monitor, so two and a half PC lifespans, maybe, plus this one since February. Maybe I should keep better records, but that's at least nine years, probably more. I have to be impressed with that.

For the cable, I cannot swear to it, but I think that was the original cable that came with my first digital camera. The camera died in 2015, but I got it in 2007 or 2008, so that's pretty good for a little cable. Even now, I think its demise is due more to feline gnawing than age. I believe my first Logitech mouse still holds the record, but all in all I am very happy with the longevity of my devices.

I realize that some of my stretching things for that long is an aspect of my personality and economic position, but that wouldn't automatically make it work. I have had pretty good results, without knowing how much of it is luck and how much of it is good maintenance practices (which will clearly need to involve some cable wrapping now because of the cat). However it worked out, I am grateful for the ways in which technology makes my life easier and the ways in which it has lasted for me.

Even better, those particular problems are coming to an end, but I will save that for tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Band Review: Tanya Tagaq

Tanya Tagaq has multiple creative outlets, but I was listening to her as a musician.

From Nunavut, Tagaq uses throat singing to create her music, but it is different from Inuit throat singing, which is performed in duets. Without a singing partner, Tagaq learned how to perform solo.

It is not easy listening.

That is partly a matter of habituation. Guttural, echoing, and not really melodic - at least in the expected way - there is no place of comfort to rest in the music. Given the subject matter, there shouldn't be.

Tagaq deals with environmental damage, colonialism, and rape on many different levels. It should not be comfortable.

When I reviewed Snotty Nose Rez Kids, the word "unsettling" came to mind and took on a new meaning. That applies here too.

It is unsettling, and it should be.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Music Review: Reclaimed

Reclaimed is not a band; it is a weekly CBC Radio series hosted by Jarrett Martineau and focusing on contemporary indigenous music. It was also recommended under 150 Acts of Reconciliation.

It looks like it just started this year, and that previous episodes are available for listening. I am thrilled that there is online access so that the audience does not have to be limited to Canadians.

Many of the featured artists are Canadian, as would be expected, but mainly I am pleased to see the variety, and to know that such a resource exists. After all, last year I finally covered every rapper in the Mic article. (Kind of, but more on that next week.) Some of the artists are familiar, but many are not.

I am glad to know that Reclaimed is around. I hope to be able to work through old shows, but even if I only go forward, this is a valuable service.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


A few people reached out to me after the "breakdown" - most of whom I didn't reply to, though I still want to.

Actually, one of my real concerns about this time of life is that I will permanently fall off of friends' radars. It would be fair, because I have not been good at keeping in touch. There have even been times where I tried and I sent messages out to people, and they were like "Long time no hear!", and then I didn't respond to that. So, if it happens, it was me, but I hope that won't be the case.

Anyway, I did respond to one friend, and she took me for a small hike in the general area of tomorrow's Turkey Trot, giving me a chance to get the lay of the land, and also a chance to unload.

I was able to talk and hike for all but the last upward stretch. I am not sure if that was because it was steeper or accumulated tiredness. Among all of the things that I wish I had more time for, I wish I had been walking more, but I am still doing pretty well and I'm just going to take it.

I had been thinking already that I should probably try and get two respite breaks per month so that I don't reach the breakdown phase. She thought I should go for one a week, so that I have something I am looking forward to every week.

I have toyed with that idea, because then maybe I could alternate having social times and alone times. I have also dismissed it as being too hard to work out, and then considered it as a good possible target because if weekly is my aim that should greatly decrease my possibility of going a whole month without respite again.

All of those viewpoints have passed through my mind after our walk. During the walk, we were focusing on her thinking weekly would be good, and me thinking it was impossible. My justification - which she questioned - was that this is temporary. I will not be caring for my mother forever. Her needs are acute. Mine are... I don't think "obtuse" is the right antonym for that; maybe they are just more slow.

I kept thinking about this later, probably because she had pushed back (though that was more on the relationship issue, which was also fair). I likened it to triage; it makes sense that my needs can wait. Then I remembered that sometimes the criteria for triage decisions would be not just the urgency, but whether any real benefit is possible. Then maybe she wouldn't come first. If she has a few years and I have many, and I need to care for myself now to be able to enjoy those years, then what?

Of course you can't always know. In my darkest moments I imagine all of this stress building into a cancer inside me that takes me out shortly after my duties are done. That is morbid, not really aligned with my medical history, and kind of insulting to people who get cancer, though that never occurred to me until after I read Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor.

Without knowing the future, I do know me. I know what I believe about life and afterlife and how I feel. I know that to feel good about my decisions, I have to take good care of my mother, and try and make her life as good as possible. I also know that she forgets things, and resets. I still believe more good times and better engagement matters. But if I can be healthier - physically or mentally - there is also a value to that.

Yesterday's post was largely about receiving clarity. Today's is more about getting more muddled. Perhaps I put these posts in the wrong order. It is ultimately more to think about.

I have accepted an evening engagement for this Saturday. Not long ago I decided that I wouldn't do that. I didn't think about it when I said "yes", but I don't regret it. I don't know that I will do it often, but if there is one thing you learn with dementia, it's living in the moment. I have learned a lot about that.

And there is still a lot I don't know.

But Saturday I will see friends. Tomorrow I am going to get fresh air, and accomplish something I have wanted to do for a while. Although there will be a lot of people around, it will still be kind of a getaway. And I will be getting up early!

There are totally a few things that could go wrong, but I am not focusing on that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Introvert, and my love language is Chinese food

Okay, one of those things is a joke, but there is some pertinent information there too.

Actually my love language is physical touch. While it is not hard science, I find it a helpful paradigm. I find it more helpful than Myers-Briggs types or star signs, though I certainly know people who find those helpful.

(Actually, I'm not sure that anyone other than INFPs and maybe INFJs cares about Myers-Briggs results, and even the people with the best anecdotal backups for astrology can't seem to describe a Capricorn personality, so make of that what you will.)

When I say that I have gained insight over this last time period, most of that has been about what makes me tick, and what I need. A big part of that is that I am an introvert.

Remember, that primarily means that I recharge by having time alone. It's not that I don't enjoy people, or need social contact or hugs for physical touch, or that I don't get any value from time spent with other humans. Good conversation definitely feeds my soul. I still sometimes need to be alone.

I am not alone very much. As my mother reaches a place where she needs more active engagement, there is less alone time available. There are aspects of work to it where even an extrovert would get depleted eventually, but my introversion is a specific reason that I need to be able to get away sometimes. It makes sense, but I had never specifically identified it before.

One of the things that knowing this helps me understand is my complete failure at establishing a successful sleep pattern. I stay up late. I keep meaning to go to bed early so I can get up early and do things before my sisters leave for their jobs, but I keep staying up because after everyone else is in bed there is breathing room. That emotional space is mine. I still think early to bed, early to rise is a better policy, but I might have more luck trying to use my nights productively.

One of the ways I realized this is because of my growing cravings for Chinese food as I go between breaks. It didn't seem that unusual because I like Chinese food anyway; it's my favorite. However, historically I eat it alone.

For my younger sisters, Chinese food is Panda Express, which is to Chinese food pretty much as Taco Bell is to Mexican food. That's not to say that I won't eat it sometimes and even enjoy it, but ultimately our palates differ. Recently I had Chinese food with my mother and older sister. It's not that it was bad, but it didn't satisfy that need. That's when I realized that it was more about the solitude.

(I am still more likely than not to choose Chinese food, given the option.)

An important part of all of the realizations was the last respite time that was really successful, which I wrote about under the provident living blog:

This was useful in a couple of ways. Coming exactly four weeks before the "breakdown", it gives me a pretty clear time indicator of when I really start losing function and hating everyone. I mean, I do feel myself getting more tired and discouraged and longing for death, but that only helps on a reactive level. Knowing the time frame can help me be proactive.

Also, it helped in that it was kind of perfect. I had Chinese food, at my favorite place for that. I walked outdoors and got fresh air. I explored a place I had been meaning to check out. I had a book and got to do some reading. I do think that the eye problems made everything worse. Reading is the one thing that I still reliably get to do, and it was harder. It was important that I was alone, but without doing it deliberately, I modeled my perfect respite. Having that example really paved the way for understanding it, besides being good on its own.

Because it worked. I felt recharged after, and happy again.

Imagine how effective it could be to not push that off to the last minute.


Yes, I'm still around.

I had a really bad week, though it was really more the week before last, when I was still keeping up with the blog (though they were more shallow, entertainment-oriented posts).

Regardless, things were hard, and blogging just couldn't be the priority. I did get some insights, though, and I will be writing about those.

I have been posting later and shorter anyway, and that is not a coincidence. There is more stress, and there are more demands on my time. I could manage time better, but it is not just a time management issue. There has been another reduction in attention span.

The most important thing to say may be that I cannot make any guarantees about the blog right now. I hope to keep it up, because it is something that I care about, and that I find satisfying, but it is also not top priority.

Prioritizing is a challenge. That will probably be more Wednesday's post.

For today (late enough to be slipping into tomorrow), there is a litany of brokenness; it is not just me.

My PC has been acting sluggish for a while. The monitor is starting to malfunction now too. Right now that means that control windows keep popping up. I can dismiss them, but they come back (the buttons are sticking), so I am shrinking windows and putting them in odd placements to make the popups less intrusive.

The bright side is that with having less time to be on the computer and the monitor issues, processing slowdowns seem to be happening less. They are at least less noticeable.

The webcam died too. I hardly ever use it, but I was in the middle of a teleconferencing study group, where I did need it. That was the least of my problems, because I had bought one really cheap cam years ago that I hated and never used, and that purchase finally paid off.

My regular camera still takes pictures, but I have not been able to upload them. I am pretty sure it is just the cable, which should be a cheap and easy replacement. I am still taking selfies, but I have to say that not posting them really dilutes the power of that whole process.

The other big issue was that my eyes were not working. I have been needing to fill my new prescription for some time. I am used to getting gradually more far-sighted, but my short-distance vision has now taken a nose dive. For reading I was alternating between doing it without glasses and with glasses but holding the book farther out, and other combinations of trying to get the best clarity, with a real need for bright light.

Being able to read is really important for me.

Fortunately, I was recently able to replace my glasses.

Unfortunately, the need to get that errand done, and within certain time constraints and needing to rely on other people, meant it killed the day that was going to be my first respite day in a month. 

That's where it got really bad.

More on that later.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Band Review: Leonard Sumner

The next three reviews were inspired by 150 Acts of Reconciliation, specifically step 44:

Leonard Sumner is an Anishinaabe singer, songwriter, and MC from the Little Sasketchewan First Nation around central Manitoba.

Singer and songwriter get combined a lot, but it is less common to have them combined with MC. In the case of Sumner it makes sense. Sometimes he raps, but sometimes that sounds more like spoken word poetry. Sometimes he sounds more like a country musician, but really it is more roots music. All of that flows into and around each other on  Sumner's two albums: Rez Poetry from 2013 and Standing in the Light from 2018.

At first I was surprised by the mix, but it feels natural, and it also ends up meaning that what needs to be said can be said in the most appropriate manner for the message. You can sing about the content in "I Know You're Sorry" and some have, but the cadence and tempo - including the pauses - are perfect for what they are. It takes multiple listens to notice the skill that is present in the delivery, because at first you can only feel the impact. The contrast of it then leading into the gentle wisdom of "The Ceremony" is even more pronounced.

Later it is possible to step back and marvel at the versatility, but first you need to feel the emotion. That there are both makes it really understandable that Sumner was chosen for inclusion on the list.

Listening then becomes a good choice. If non-Native listeners can sit with the discomfort that comes with acknowledging the wrongs - the genocide - then even listening to music can become an act of reconciliation. Not the only act needed, of course, but perhaps a good starting place.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Band Review: Jeremy Dutcher

Jeremy Dutcher is a singer from Toronto, Canada. I became aware of him through Digital Drum.

There are two things that are especially important about him, especially as it pertains to his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.

One is that Dutcher has Wolastoq roots that he incorporates into his music. Also, he does this as a musicologist and classically trained tenor.

I don't want to get away from the musical ability. Dutcher's voice soars beautifully. The opening track, "Mehcinut", reminds me of "Ave Maria" in how it combines drama with a sense of the sacred, a sense that is very appropriate here.

The album rearranges field recordings from the 1900s, interpreting them in a way that I think requires someone with both a intense caring for the language and people, but also a deep musical understanding.

On "Eqpahak" he speaks as well as sings, and he talks about bringing the music back and bringing the people back. The interviewer challenges that a little, though I don't think it is disrespectful. Dutcher's defense felt right to me. I feel it in two ways beyond the thought of ancestors coming back and listening and being happy to hear their songs revived, though I will not discount that at all. Not all listeners have to do that in the flash.

As well, music is extremely powerful in evoking feelings and sensations. That can operate on behalf of history and legacy.

Beyond that, I remember the ending of the Roots remake from 2016, where old pictures would come to life, and you would know and recognize individuals in them because you knew their story. Music can connect, and be a bridge.

I believe Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa can do that. If these songs are specific to Wolastoq, that does not inhibit them from having meaning, and inspiration, for others.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Band Review: LightningCloud

Last year one of my favorite reviews in November was RedCloud, but I saw at the time that he was doing more with LightingCloud, his project with Crystle Lightning and DJ Jonney Miles.

LightningCloud is pretty fun too.

Their self-titled debut album from 2012 does some interesting things, with references running from The Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" to "Hernando's Hideaway" from The Pajama Game. There is an upbeat energy and it is easy to dance to, especially "Zoom".

That is fine, but 2015's Indigenous Angels took things to another level.

It's not that the dancing energy has left. "Ketchup Chips" is pretty clubby, and their team-up with Leonard Sumner, "Meet Me At the Pow Wow" is not only catchy, but kind of centers on boys meeting girls.

But Indigenous Angels also has "Walk Alone", dealing with homelessness and leading in with "I'm a Human Being" - something about the homeless that is not remembered enough. Overall it feels like there is a greater seriousness.

That makes a certain sense. Indigenous Angels was also the title of RedCloud's record breaking freestyle in 2014, naming missing and murdered indigenous women. There was a LightningCloud record being planned at that time, and it is not hard to see a connection and a direction between the event and the album.

If the newer project that I discovered last year debuted in 2012 and last released an album in 2015, that just shows how behind I am. However, it looks like RedCloud performed with Crystle Lightning just last month, and you never know what's coming next.

The great thing about music is that once it's out there, it's out there (except in some of the worst break-ups and copyright infringement pursuits). These two albums and various videos are available, though I only found two relevant links.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Band Review: Good Morning Hellen

Good Morning Hellen is the project of Samantha Hill, a singer/songwriter with roots in New York and Florida and is a member of the Mohawk Nation. I found her through a song she submitted through #INDIGENERDS4HOPE, retweeted by A Tribe Called Geek.

(It is not obvious from Hill's online information whether she identifies more as a geek or nerd.)

Good Morning Hellen sings sweetly about sad things. "Fallout" and "Broken Little Bird" stand out in conveying the pain of wanting to help and not being able to, and yet the strongest impression that remains is the sweetness. That is not just referring to her voice, but also to a sense of gentleness and resilience.

Vocally Hill reminds me somewhat of Rita Coolidge. Looking through musical influences, the strongest thread may be personal storytelling, with names like Jim Croce and John Denver appearing. It is country-adjacent enough that there could be good crossover potential, but not in a way that would turn off those strongly opposed to country.

I also enjoy her artwork.

You can support Good Morning Hellen at the Wix and Bandcamp sites below.

ETA: I initially had her last name as Hall, not Hill, which has since been corrected.

Sympathy for Brooke Logan

Six years ago I expressed frustration with The Bold and the Beautiful:

Actually, I am watching it more now than I did then. That's mainly because it is an easy afternoon break, paired with The Talk. CBS really did me dirt by replacing The Doctors with The 700 Club. Too much television is not good, but I need some breaks where I don't have to lead the engagement.

Let me say that the embarrassment that I have about the show is not that I am watching a soap opera, but that it has the same viewing problems that bothered me six years ago and I am still watching it. That they keep making the least interesting choices, repeat the same scenes over and over (sometimes via flashbacks, sometimes through characters rehashing the same conversation) and then dropping everything abruptly in favor of a new pairing, decreasing the motivation for emotional investment. (Although, if this is to be my easy viewing, maybe it's better to not be invested.)

Anyway, currently Brooke and Ridge are having conflict in their marriage. It started with their adult daughters competing over a man, then was exacerbated at work when Ridge pulled funding from her daughter Hope's line to fund his daughter's, and now is focusing on Bill, Brooke's previous husband, whom Ridge hates. In addition to recently having influenced a judge against Bill in his custody case and pushing Bill off of a second-story balcony, Ridge is constantly bad-mouthing Bill, including a recent joke that they should see if the judge can help Thorne and Katie adopt Will (Bill's son) and change his name.

One of my main complaints with the show is that there are many things that should be brought up that aren't. Ridge keeps returning to Bill pursuing his son's pregnant wife (Ridge's daughter) and that was true and gross, but no one is mentioning how Ridge stole Bill's niece from Brooke's son, even though Ridge's son was interested, and then pretended to be the father of his grandson, not letting his son even know he was a father. True, that story line was a mess in general, so the writers might want to forget, but it's still hypocritical.

(It's a super-incestuous show, by the way. Not genetically, perhaps, but in every other way.)

In this case, the repeated argument is that Ridge hates Bill and can't help it, but it bothers Brooke.

What bothers me are all of the things that Brooke should say but does not.

"I told Bill that I'm your wife and I chose you. He can't come between us, but you can."

"I left Bill because of his behavior. I can't stand seeing that anger and manipulation from you."

Brooke has tried pointing out that Ridge does not have the moral high ground, but he is not hearing it. She could express herself more strongly, I suppose, but Ridge is really good at not hearing it. Huge ego.

On one level, you would not really expect Brooke to be good at taking a stand with Ridge. She has always tended to defer to men in general (some abandonment issues from her father), and Ridge especially has been her destiny (in her mind) so it would be hard for her to assert herself against him.

Historically that has not been good for her. Ridge has abandoned her again and again, for various reasons, which I guess makes him the most likely match for her unresolved daddy issues and the least likely person to help in her healing.

It is still frustrating to see her try and express her feelings and to see him keep knocking them aside:

"I made that decision and it's done."
"I already apologized for that."

He does this when he can't even refrain from criticizing Bill after seeing that it upsets Brooke every time. His emotions can't be helped. Her feelings should change.

I was thinking that this relationship diminishes her. That's kind of par for the course on this show, but beyond that, I was thinking today that Brooke does not have the language to explain herself to Ridge, and that a lot of women don't. We need to learn how to talk about things to deal with them. That can be difficult when everyone is cooperating, but when only one side really needs the change, that allows the other side to make it much harder.

This ultimately is what television is like when you view everything through a feminist lens.

No regrets.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was a stupid movie

Yes, I do have political thoughts, but they are too roiled up right now, and they may change as results come in. Instead, I would like to complain about a movie.

Some time ago I thought of various movies that might work for Halloween for me. They were movies that had Halloween themes, but were not truly horror movies because I don't really care for that genre. Over the past few years I have watched Bell, Book, and Candle; I Married a Witch; The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and this year I have pretty much finished up with The Others and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

That's a bit of an oversimplification. Gaslight  was there, but is not really that spooky. What We Do in the Shadows could be spooky and will be watched soon, but it was never on that list. It got tagged onto the end of the Disney list after I saw Thor: Ragnarok and got a burning desire to see more work from Taika Waititi. (I know I am not the only one to have that reaction.)

Also, I can't find The Time of Their Lives. That's an Abbott and Costello film that came up in a discussion about whether or not Gordon Lightfoot's "Paperback Novel" is meant to be taken literally. (It relates to the "ghost in a wishing well" line, obviously.) I can't find it anywhere, but I do have a request in at the library for a collection that contains Abbott and Costello meeting Frankenstein, the killer, and the invisible man.

What is most important to point out with all of these movies is that they have been largely disappointing. A lot of the Disney ones were too, actually, so the problem could be me, though I have been pretty happy with the music documentaries.

Regardless, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir annoyed me in very specific ways which I am now going to complain about, INCLUDING SPOILERS!

If you haven't seen the movie, it starts with a young widow explaining to her husband's mother and sister that she is moving out, taking her daughter (Anna) and maid (Martha) with her. The mother is sad and the sister is resentful, but Lucy (played by Gene Tierney) is steadfast. She will use her inherited shares in a gold mine to live cheaply at the coast.

The cheapest house is haunted, which initially startles and then intrigues her. She refuses to be scared away by the ghost, sea captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). He is haunting the house because he died unexpectedly (an accident that was interpreted as suicide) and did not leave a will specifying that he wanted the house to become a home for old seamen. They agree to coexist.

One of the minor annoyances here is that she orders him to not manifest to Anna so as not to scare her, and he promises, but later Anna has memories of him. She wasn't scared, so it could be much worse, but realistically it means he broke that promise early.

The gold mine gives out, which the in-laws think will bring Lucy back, but Daniel dictates his life story to her and guides her toward a publisher who will accept it. That would not be enough if a children's author, Miles Fairley (George Sanders) had not seen Lucy and liked her looks, giving her his appointment.

The book is sold, Lucy has an income and a new suitor, and - while she is attached to the captain - she is drawn to the realness of Miles. Only, he's not actually that real, because the cad has a wife and two kids. (Which she should have guessed the minute she saw that it was George Sanders.)

However, before Lucy discovers his caddishness, she and Daniel have a disagreement about him. While Lucy is sleeping Daniel tells her that she has chosen life - the only choice she could make - and that he was just a dream, and that is as it should be. She should be around people. Then he goes off, fading from Lucy's mind.

So, once Lucy is disillusioned with Miles she stays in the house by the sea, walking on the shore every day, until she gets old and dies and Daniel comes for her. Anna has grown up and gotten married and had at least one child, so it is just Martha and Lucy growing older in solitude. It has its compensations, Lucy tells Anna. Then she dies. That is not choosing life and people!

The worst part is that in the early parts of the movie Lucy talks about wanting to be stubborn and brave and to accomplish something. She takes no credit for Anna, and she married young on romantic notions but not really in love. To start out by standing up to her overbearing in-laws, not be dissuaded by a reluctant real estate agent, and to refuse to be scared by a ghost seems promising, but it ends with a quiet life where her one constant is Martha, to whom she acts peevishly right before her death.

No thanks.

That plot only serves male ego.

This is how it should have gone. In the process of taking Daniel's dictation, Lucy should have suggested better forms of expression, showing a knack for language. They only showed her objecting to an impolite expression once. She could have asked more about distant lands. There could have been fun interplay with the irascible ghost conceding sometimes that her ways of saying some things was better, and it could show the development of unsuspected talents.

Yes, it still makes sense that she would be drawn to a living man, and that the captain would see that it was better that way. It even works for Miles to be a cad, but let that be the beginning of her life, not the end of it. She comes home from London, has a good cry, and gets an idea for a new book. She feels an inexplicable urge to create a home for retired seamen. Maybe Martha could help, and have some romance of her own with a not quite so old seaman. Martha ends up running the home - for which she has the skills and energy - and Lucy begins to travel more, seeing more of the world and writing more about it. She begins to have the most interesting life, with at least opportunities for romance, even if none of them quite measure up to the ideal she wrote in her debut novel.

Then it would be okay for her to visit Martha when old, to take a nap upstairs, and to quietly slip away and be greeted by the captain. That would have had a point.

So at this point I guess my favorite kind of horror but not really movies are still Gotham and The Birds.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Some final election odds and ends

At least for Oregon, most of us who are voting turned in the ballots a while ago. I'd like to think that if enough of us turned in our ballots super early, it would end the political ads and calls. In reality, it would probably make the increasing desperation of the ads worse; fewer voters are up for grabs, but that makes them more critical.

Anyway, it's still seeing those ads that has led to the thoughts showcased here.

One is reinforcement for my earlier post, You know enough to vote.

Recent ads have indicated that Knute Buehler has not filed taxes, and that it might be because of how much money he has made by overcharging Medicare. He says his partial tax filings are to protect his financial partners. I think that sounds pretty dodgy. However, I was already not going to vote for him. Perhaps if I had liked him I would be shocked and dismayed. Viewing the supporters of other people who have been dodgy on tax returns, perhaps the appropriate response is to make excuses for it.

I do admit to a little bit of surprise that he is now actually stating outright in ads that he will fix our financial problems without raising taxes. That is such a blatant lie that it could be desperation, but in another way it really takes some confidence. Or a lack of confidence in the discernment of voters.

Regardless, I have no regrets about how I filled out my ballot.

For the election I won't be voting in, I was a little caught off guard about the anti-Oregonian sentiments expressed in recent ads for Jaime Herrera Beutler. I did not realize Washingtonians hate us so much. I get that if your opponent has lived in Oregon it would seem like a reasonable thing to stoke, but I know a lot of people who have lived on both sides of the Columbia, and I thought we generally felt pretty similar. It's jealousy over us getting our gas pumped, isn't it?

Her ads have been interesting in misapplication of statistics for a while, but the last minute desperation has come through not just in anti-webfoot sentiment, but also in a recent ad about health care. Yes, if we went to some sort of single payer health care system you would no longer be using employer-issued insurance (though single payer is not the only means of achieving universal coverage) but it wouldn't play out in the way shown.

On a related note, I have seen complaints about negative campaigning and it being a turnoff and losing votes. I get that, but I think we need to be more discriminating. If an ad says bad things about a candidate, but those things are true and relevant, is that a negative attack ad or is it something you need to know? The larger issues is that you shouldn't be getting all of your information from ads, but if the ads give you things to look up, they can serve a purpose.

Finally, on a more nationwide level, I am now seeing various people saying they are turning their backs on the Republican party for various reasons.

They do seem to be more legitimate than the "Why I left" ads, and we can use the votes, but the undercurrent that bothers me - and is worth some self-reflection - is that you should care about things before they happen to you. The suffering of others matters too. Yes, it catches up, so acting on it early does end up serving self-interest, but there needs to be more than self-interest. We need to care about each other.

Hoping for a blue wave. Knowing it won't fix everything. Hoping anyway.

Exercise your franchise!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Band Review: Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Snotty Nose Rez Kids is a rap duo comprised of Young D and Yung Trybez, both from the Haisla nation in Vancouver. They were literally rez kids, having been raised on the reserve at Kitimaat Village. I came to them from an article in Indian Country Today.

They already have two full albums: The Average Savage from 2017 and this year's self titled LP.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids has a fun energy, a bit like the Fresh Prince, but deeper. "Fiss 'n' rice" is on the surface a fun ode to the canned fish and rice staple and it has good flow, but there are also notes of shame for ingratitude, and an acknowledgment of poverty that goes through the entire album. That doesn't make things drag, but it's real. There are depths to "Long Hair Don't Care" that I don't remember from Fresh Prince (though that would be just judging by singles).

And "Black Blood" is completely serious. "Clash of the Clans" is just strong.

The Average Savage is heavier, with the Dakota Access Pipeline casting a shadow. It's not that there isn't any fun, but there is serious content and the accompanying music is appropriately darker. There are more more electronic effects, and more voice alteration. At one point it felt unsettling, but it was on a track about undoing colonialism, essentially, and so maybe unsettling is exactly the right word, and exactly the right effect.

The discography's timeline has an interesting evolution, in that frequently bands will start out more personal and then become political. This works, though. It is a good look back to personal formation, and the connection between the political landscape the led to the pipeline and the forces that acted on their lives has always been there..

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Band Review: Snot Goblin

Snot Goblin is composed of Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, brothers from New Mexico (originally New York).

I became aware of them after their campus tour was interrupted by... let's say by the racism of a middle-aged white woman. I was upset by the story like many people, but then I heard they were in a band. The least this middle-aged white woman can do is review them (while still understanding that the bands they were representing reaching out to them probably means more). And Snot Goblin sounds like a good band name for the day after Halloween. Tomorrow I will review Snotty Nose Rez Kids and we will get all of the snot over with early in the month!

Focusing on the music, there is not a lot of quantity. I found two songs available on Bandcamp, and their "All Songs" video on Facebook runs for eight and a half minutes. Given their ages I wouldn't hold that against them that; they should be focusing on school.

Those songs are nonetheless very Halloween-appropriate. The artwork is fun, and the songs themselves have a strong driving percussion and chords. It is a pretty heavy sound; think intro to "Master of Puppets", but maybe in more of a minor key.

I can totally imagine them continuing to play through college. Adding some covers to their repertoire and writing a few more songs would give them a reasonable set list, and college can bring lots of inspiration, academic and otherwise.

Here's wishing them success. 

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Which Gina Harris?

I follow a fairly common tradition of updating my Twitter profile with a Halloween-themed name and picture for October.

My plan for my costume this year was to get a domino mask and have my name be "Cleverly Disguised Gina Harris". On September 30th I had not gotten a mask. I do have an old witch hat on hand, so I took a picture with that and changed my name to "Which Gina Harris?"

I have decided the question was more clever than intended.

I should also mention that I look like an old hag in that picture. Not like a warty, stereotypical witch hag, just kind of old and hard. One of the most shocking things about this group I participated in via teleconference was discovering that I do have resting bitch face. I used to look more relaxed. And be more relaxed.

When I went downtown two days in a row, that was for a conference. I should write about that more later. For now, being surrounded by people who are coming up with innovative ways to address real problems had me really aware that I am nobody. At least, I do nothing. No, I would not think that about anyone else, but I would really like to make some kind of a contribution. I like to think I have the ability to do so, but really, nothing.

Which is also not fair, because right now I am doing something that is valuable and also the right priority for me now. That has been reinforced many times, but I never stop being aware that there are all of these other things going on, and there is a need for more people helping, and I can't join in because I have responsibilities here.

The thing about dealing with dementia is that you can't actually win. It will continue to progress. Even having adjusted expectations to just going for good days - contented engagement - there is a limit to how much that helps. It does actually help, because many times as I have looked at all of the things that did not get done, I sit back and think "But she had a good day." However, it is not a lasting achievement and I am painfully aware of that.

(Plus it can only get worse and then end in death. That takes a toll on positivity.)

Anyway, I remember at one point having this thought, "I miss me." Then I was like, "What does that mean?"

It felt like I missed feeling strong and being able to get things done.

I know part of it was one person whom I got to visit with briefly; she just exudes strength. She probably doesn't always, but we don't get to see each other that often. From my experience, she radiates power and dynamism. I tried to think of what I radiate, and the most likely answer seemed to be tiredness.

I exude negative energy, I thought, but that isn't really the right way of expressing it. I don't think I put out negativity, but I may transmit a lack of energy. That would make a lot of sense.

I used to commonly be called a rock. People would take about how they could just feel my strength in a hug, and how I could be counted on, and it would be nice to still be like that.

Except, when people said that before, I was a mess then too.

I remember hearing that on my mission. That's fine, but I also had the second worst depressive spell of my life in the mission field, experienced the first time sadness left me literally mute, and once I got into the dust and pollen filled bowl of the San Joaquin Valley, I got sick once per season as the air messed with my lungs.

Someone recently mentioned my strength, who has only known me since this started. Oh, you don't know, but for her, because I can listen and be sensible and supportive for her, I am. But I am also still a mess.

I guess it's all of the above, all at the same time.