Friday, September 27, 2019

Band Review: The Zeros

The first thing I should tell you is that there are three bands that go by "The Zeros" and they are all punk. This is not the British one or the glam one. They are the Latino one, but that doesn't seem to get mentioned much in information about them.

It is easy to miss. They don't sing in Spanish or have obvious references. Being labeled as ethnic would probably have hurt sales, but that is also a shame. There can be room for anyone in any genre, and it might help if it were more obvious that inroads have already been made. I found them in a list of bands with Latinx roots in Celia C. Pérez's The First Rule of Punk.

For West Coast punk history, they are still important. According to NME, the police breaking up a Zeros show in 1979 heralded the arrival of punk riots to the US (something already familiar in Britain by then). It was The Zeros who played "Beat Your Heart Out" eight times in a row, and no other songs. That seems like the more obnoxious part of punk, but that is also a pretty good song. It could still have been a really good show.

Know your punk history.

We are in times that need people who can feel low, laugh about it, and come up swinging.

That crowd has always been more diverse than the cursory glance shows.

ETA: I have heard back from a reader who saw them perform within the last two years, so that was interesting. Maybe something else will come up.

ETA 11/19/19: I just heard from Javier Escovedo, and here are some updates:
We have a new 7" single coming out on Munster records. We toured Europe earlier this year. We will be playing with the Adolescents on December 6th in orange county. Etc. We will be recording more in October.
Because of this, I am erasing the paragraph that indicated that they were not currently together. They clearly are. Orange County fans should check out the Garden Amp schedule. Tickets appear to be available through Ticket Web and Event Brite:

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Album Review: 40 by Stray Cats

Most of the album reviews will be for bands I have already reviewed, and usually that I have seen in concert. I came across a new release from an old favorite, though, and wanted to write it up.

40 sees the Stray Cats returning to the studio after 26 years (40 years after first getting together), so it represents an incredible history. That includes the history of the band, but also much of the history of music.

One of the most interesting songs for that is "That's Messed Up". Musically it reminds me of "Ooh My Head" from Richie Valens, but the lyrics reference song titles from Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. (It makes me wonder if I am missing a Big Bopper allusion somewhere.) That is cool, but mainly it is the guitar and the bass and the drums, still sounding great together.

I think it is a more mature sound now - more groove so maybe less popular appeal - but still so much fun. I especially like the energy on "When Nothing's Going Right", which should apply to plenty of days.

Obviously Stray Cats fans will want to check 40 out. They will probably find "Three Times A Charm" to sound the most typically feline. In addition, fans of Link Wray should really check out "Desperado". That guitar work underlies the entire album, but is most noticeable on this instrumental track. Then it immediately slides into the intro for "Mean Pickin' Mama", and it's just good stuff.

I already knew to be grateful that expanded media and opportunities can mean a market for so many of the older bands you loved, but I am starting to also be amazed that those musicians maintain energy and vigor and skills.

It's a wonderful thing.

There are non-music factors that make it impossible to say that this is a great time to be alive, but at least the music remains.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Native American Heritage Month 2018: A side of paternalism

One reason I want to move my reading to focus more on Native authors for November and Black authors for February, et cetera, is that in some of the histories I keep noticing things that bug me just enough for it to be an issue.

It is not blatant racism, though the structural racism underpinning everything plays a role, I am sure. There is just this little hint of condescension here and there... some sense of the author knowing better than the subjects how they felt and what they should have thought and done.

Maybe it was always there and I didn't notice it before. Specialist in the history of slavery and Reconstruction Leon F. Litwack - who won a Pulitzer prize for his book that bothered me - is still the worst, where I am not even sure I trust his reading of the history.

The two I am thinking of for this section could have been much worse, but still, maybe I just don't need to read any white people for those four months. We still get the other eight. (Remember that for anyone who wants to object to the lack of a white history month.)

Anyway, there were two that bothered me. One was Joe Starita, author of A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor.

First of all, if anyone gets frustrated with these long and awkward titles, in many cases there is an obvious title that has many other books with that name, so that part after the colon is crucial for differentiating between titles. However, it is still totally okay to criticize this one. The first part is unique enough; you could have a perfectly respectable but much less awkward continuation (like "Susan La Flesche, America's First Indian Doctor"). Finally, I think "A Warrior for her People" would be better before the colon.

Most of the book's flaws were things like too much repetition and using his own words for her thoughts when he could have quoted from the letters he was drawing from. That could be related to paternalism, but it could just be a need for better editing. What bothered me more were certain words that it's a little questionable to be using in 2016, and not in quotes, and yeah, that condescending attitude. Not terrible to read, but I bet he would take the criticism very badly.

That leads to the funny part.

I also read America Before the European Invasions by Alice Beck Kehoe. It wasn't bad. I thought her best chapter focused on Inuit technology and a relatively recent legal case, and that she made some good points. Also, there were just those little bits where you're not even sure that something is wrong, but it feels like there is.

Less than two weeks after I finished her book, Anthropology News published an article about resisting Indigenous erasure:

Kehoe responded really rudely before it was even noon. I didn't even see that it criticized her work directly. There were multiple references to Vine Deloria Jr, and he criticized anthropologists pretty regularly (maybe her personally; but not that I know of), so maybe it felt personal in that way. I don't know, it just wasn't a surprise.

For the record, I thought article author Rick W. A. Smith responded well.

I can certainly see why Kehoe might not personally like Deloria, but if she is just going to discount him, that is maybe where I have to question her understanding, and therefore her work.

On a side note, one of the surprisingly fun things about The Book of the Hopi was that some of Frank Waters' footnotes on anthropologists were quite snarky. And yes, I do get a lot of my attitude toward anthropologists from Deloria, but others have backed it up.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Native American Heritage Month 2018: Children's books to break your heart

Last year's reading covered a lot regarding education and residential schools too, but this year was largely built upon one list:

(This is a CBC list so these are Canadian books, but the US has Carlisle and others, so we don't get to cast stones.)

I read all but Kookum's Red Shoes, because I could not find a copy. I also read an additional book by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Not My Girl, a picture book version of A Stranger At Home. (It looks like there is a corresponding picture book for Fatty Legs as well.)

You may notices that Nicola Campbell has two books also, Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi's Canoe. In both cases the books divide up the story. One book tells you more about home life, and one about school life. Putting both situations in the same book heightens the contrast, but breaking it down over two books allows more detail.

I'm not saying that I have a preference for one technique over the other, but having read the paired books earlier, I think I may have felt the contrast more. These children had loving homes, where they were valued as beloved children and able to contribute to their families as they learned their traditional ways of life. Then they were taken from those homes to far away where long, hard work that didn't teach them a lot was common, along with insufficient food and clothing, punishment for using their own names and language, and where there was frequently physical and sexual abuse.

(The sexual abuse is not treated in the picture books. It is in some of the chapter books, but not treated graphically. For an adult perspective on the schools, try The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir, by Joseph Auguste Merasty with David Carpenter.)

The part that cut me most was Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's homecoming, as told in both A Stranger At Home and Not My Girl. That's what her mother said to her. "Not my girl." Not after two years away, having forgotten most of her language, and having grown very thin and no longer being used to their food. Things got better, but the trauma was real.

None of the books this year spent a lot of time on illness, but from other reading I know there are children that never made it back.

One of the aspects that came up in studies last year was that there were parenting knowledge gaps. During important developmental times, parents and children were separated, and they were not learning good family patterns or discipline or even healthy expression of affection.

I have long been aware of issues that can happen when a child's primary language gets substituted for another.

The new thought this year was how not getting sufficient food during growth spurts would have long-lasting effects as well.

I have read about generational trauma being carried down genetically. I don't doubt the science of that, but there is so much else wrong there to affect physical and mental health.

So the thing that I couldn't help but think as I was reading was that they should have killed every single white person that came over. There should have been no trust, no benefit of the doubt. They should have killed us all.

I know there are impracticalities with that. I don't exactly wish I were dead (not for that, anyway). Also, with buffalo slaughter and infected blankets and Sand Creek, Maria's Massacre, and Wounded Knee, there were plenty of other reasons to kill us all, but the one I get stuck on is the children. It was wrong. It didn't need to be that way.

Maybe it stings more to know that we are caging brown children today and not giving them sufficient care. It's not even being condemned to repeat it because we didn't learn; the people making the decisions know what they are doing.

And that's as dark as I will get for this year's reading. There is horror every year, it isn't even completely new information, but I understand people who want to burn the whole place down. The only reason not to is because it causes so much more pain before any healing begins, and it doesn't put us in a particularly good place to start healing efforts either. That will require love instead of hate.

Native American Heritage Month 2018: Reading overview

I am forcing myself to get in a post today. Also, I am so close to the start of the 2019 reading...

And, okay, I am always late anyway, but I have been at this particular list for almost a year. I know because I read the first book, Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View, in October, because it was available online for free in October, and if I wanted to be able to find a copy at all, I had to read it then. Some of the academic things can be hard to find.

That was a collection of work, with Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Eve Tuck, and K Wayne Yang acting as editors. Along with one other thing, it set the tone for this year's reading.

First of all, I also ended up reading Smith's Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous People. They covered different ground, but it was adjacent, and some of the inspiration flowed together.

Other books that went along well with other ways of thinking - for research and education and knowledge - included F. David Peat's Blackfoot Physics: A Journey Into the Native American Worldview, Paulette Regan and Taiaiake Alfred's Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada, and in its own way even Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians by Gilbert Livingstone Wilson.

There were many more books related to the residential schools, and I think that needs to be another post. For now I think it is enough to say that the residential schools did terrible things, even though sometimes the children were excited for things like learning how to read. Certainly, there would be ways in which literacy would be helpful. Being bilingual or tri-lingual could be great too, although the frequently successful goal there was to stamp out the native language.

I love language and books and schooling, so that is a thing for me. I started thinking about ways in which you could get the good of education without the harm.

Obviously the first obstacle to that was that the harm was generally intentional. Even when there were some good intentions there was a lack of understanding or a lack of will the go against the harm. Beyond that, though, was thinking about other ways of sharing knowledge and other ways of learning. That is where Dr. Smith's work was so helpful. There have been innovations. There are ideas already out there.

One result of this is that I added an education reading list. This is a common issue for me that contributes to my always being several books behind of where I want to be.

The other shift is not only related to this particular vein of reading, but it is a combination of things.

It was partly the frustrating paternalism in at least a couple of the books. I think it was also influenced by recently making a point of viewing more movies by Black directors, but also this desire I have had lately to catch up, and get all of the history read; so many of these books have been on my reading list for so long.

I am still trying to catch up on the history portions of each of the groups who have specific history or heritage months that I observe. When I started having that interest, I thought it would just be so that each month could from then on be for reading new books. I would be caught up and then keep up. In retrospect, it doesn't sound that probable.

Now it feels more like I want each month to be for authors and creators from those groups. Maybe less of it will be history, and that's okay. I have read a lot of history, by the time I am done with the lists I have assembled I will have read a lot more, and I won't ever stop reading history. I may not need to read any more Leon Litwack, and I certainly don't need to read him in February.

I intend to blog some more about residential schools, paternalism, and maybe some coincidences and technology. I am always thinking about how to do better. But also life is busy (and hard) and I give myself a lot of homework, so I don't know how things will go.

For the curious, current intended reading lists and what is remaining (mainly books but sometimes including movies):

Post-election reading - 21
Gendered Violence/feminist reading - 8
Education - 6
Latinx Heritage month (frequently called Hispanic Heritage) - 13
Asian American Pacific Heritage - 41
Black History Month - 126

(I had finished all of the death/grief books that I had listed, but I am reading four more related. Big surprise.)

Terribly, after 36 books I still have at least 31 new books to read for Native American Heritage Month 2019, not including some articles recommending different authors and poets. So maybe being caught up can't really be a thing, but I am trying. A lot of the new inclusions are Indigenous and Latinx and Asian and Black, though, so I am moving in the intended direction.

It's all about the journey anyway, right?

Here are the 2018 Native American Heritage books - at least a few of which were actually read in 2018 - in the order read:

Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education: Mapping the Long View, Smith et. al.
Fatty Legs: A True Story, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Shi-shi-etko, Nicole Campbell and Kim LaFave
Shin'chi's Canoe, Nicole Campbell and Kim LaFave
As Long as the Rivers Flow, Larry Loyie and Heather Holmlund
Arctic Stories, Michael Kusugak
Not My Girl, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
My Name is Seepeetza, Shirley Sterling
We Feel Good Out Here, Julie-Ann Andre
Red: A Haida Manga, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Kagagi: The Raven, Jay Odjick
The Little Hummingbird, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
The Education of Augie Merasty, Joseph Auguste Merasty and David Carpenter
Halfbreed, Maria Campbell
Trickster, Matt Dembicki, ed
Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, Gilbert L. Wilson
Yellow Woman and a Beauty of Spirit, Leslie Marmon Silko
Mission to Space, John Herrington
Black Bear Red Fox, Julie Flett
I am Dreaming of... Animals of the Native Northwest, Melaney Gleeson-Lyall
Fall in Line, Holden!, Daniel Vandever
Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film, Neva Kilpatrick
Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada, Paulette Regan and Taiaiake Alfred
Blackfoot Physics: A Journey into the Native American Worldview, F. David Peat
A Stranger at Home, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
America Before the European Invasions, Alice Beck Kehoe
No Time to Say Goodbye: Children's Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, Sylvia Olsen with Rita Morris and Ann Sam
Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins
Being Cowlitz, Christine Dupres
Harper's Anthology of 20 Century Native American Poetry, Duane Niatum
Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back, Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London
When the Shadbush Blooms, Carla Messinger, Susan Katzh, David Kanietakeron Fadden
Fools Crow, James Welch
Book of the Hopi, Frank Waters
A Warrior of the People, Joe Starita

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fall television thoughts

My return to blogging has been shaky, obviously.

That is a personal problem. I have come to learn the different ways that different kinds of writing help me, and blogging and fiction writing both fill important roles. They also take time that I don't have. I can't promise any kind of consistency. This would be a terrible time to try and create a reader base.

For now, I am just going to try and pump out some shallow material. Well, maybe it's not that shallow, but it won't go that deep.

We are starting a new fall television season! Jeopardy! is already back, and there are new episodes of Judge Judy. Because not everything runs on the same schedule, the season finale of Queen Sugar airs today. Also, we got into Beat Shazam this summer, and I don't know when we will see more of that, but we like it. Big Bang Theory has concluded, and there is only one year left of Modern Family. I was not sure if there would be more black~ish, but there is a surprise with that, that we will get to. Oh, and we have started recording Designing Women re-runs.

But these are all old shows; what has caught my eye for new shows?

The first thing I can easily see is that they are mostly CBS shows, because the network television I watch is mainly CBS. It isn't even that much time, but it makes a difference. They promote their shows pretty heavily, at least during the daytime. It does lead to getting noticed, but that isn't always positive.

All Rise

The first thing I realize is that I clearly don't pay that much attention, because catching the promos for All Rise out of the corner of my eye, I knew Gina Torres was getting a spinoff from Suits and thought it was that. Except, of course, a USA show is unlikely to spin off a CBS show, and then when you look a little closer it is not Gina Torres but Simone Missick, who is coming not off of Suits but from playing Misty Knight in the slew of Marvel series.

I'm sure she's delightful, but the series doesn't look very realistic. A strongly ethical and caring judge would be great, but I think there are limits to how much they would be able to interfere. This seems like another CBS bucking-authority authority figure. Despite production lead times, that CBS still keeps making the same kinds of shows after Les Moonves may make a larger point about how much little individual can change.

Bob Hearts Abishola

This raised all my hackles, seeing a man follow an uninterested woman from her workplace to her home, especially since it looks like he will win her over, because he is really a good guy despite boundary violations. It's 2019.

And, seeing expanded scenes it looks like it will not be quite that blatant, though I suspect it will also not examine the increased vulnerability for a Black woman and an immigrant. True consent requires true safety, you know? I have seen some excitement for Nigerian representation, and if they give Abishola a full family with well-developed personalities that could have some merit, but my initial impression is a resounding "No!"

Prodigal Son

This actually got Maria's eyes more because she thinks the lead actor - Tom Payne- is good looking. He's okay.

If I were going to be interested, it would be based more on the talents of Michael Sheen, who plays the criminal psychologist's serial killer father. There are worse things than a good looking guy and a talented guy (who is not bad-looking but they hiding it behind a big beard). However, I don't need to care about a serial killer, and be invested in his relationship with his son, and I don't need increasingly bizarre and shocking murders each week. If I wanted a procedural I would be more likely to go with Instinct, because it looks like Alan Cumming really brings the fun, but again, should increasingly bizarre and shocking murders be fun?

Let me also throw in a reminder that "prodigal" means wasteful, not rebellious.

The Unicorn 

Clearly I am really good at being interested in many shows without watching them, but every now and then one wins me over, and I think this one is going to do it. It looks reasonably funny, if I really do start dating in three years there may be some tips, but mainly I am drawn to the ineffable charm of Walton Goggins. I have seen him in a stupid movie and a fun movie, and he is just always appealing. A lot of his bigger roles have been pretty dark, but this looks fun.


Not a CBS show! I saw previews while catching up on Season 2 of black~ish - which I love - but not enough to make me watch grown~ish, mainly because Zoey is kind of a jerk who skates on being pretty, and the spin-off episode looked like they would play into that instead of subverting it. Rainbow and her family are much more enjoyable, and that makes me more interested in this one.

Beyond that, I have also watched Nobodies, and one of the plot lines in the last season was a sitcom based on Larry's life, but then the network didn't have enough diversity so they made the wife, children, and in-laws Black, and then they needed to change everything because the race issues felt tacked on.

The lead in both Open Dorf Policy and Rob in the Hood was played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar (initially the best boyfriend for Rachel ever, and then not), and now he is the father in mixed~ish. Is life imitating art via art? Or was the show in the works and someone thought it would make a good arc so art imitated life? I want to know!

But yeah, I will at least try watching it. Killing Paul Johnson off on the parent show really hurt - though it did drive important family bonding - so I would love to revisit his early years, knowing that Mark-Paul will age into Beau Bridges and live in a bus powered by poop.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Deconstructing a riddle

I annoyed myself this weekend by participating in a Facebook think where you have to do something and try and get other people to do things.

I don't know why there has been so much of an effort to recreate chain letters on social media; maybe it feels like a way of getting people to engage beyond just posting and reading posts. I generally avoid them because I don't like taking dictation, and also there is usually a lot of guilt laid on: most people won't post this; will you?

This is what I responded to...
Soooo... I got the answer wrong. I am now keeping my word and posting this picture 😎 so I'm challenging my friends who are logical and smart thinkers, to have a crack at guessing the answer to the riddle below. When you think you know, private message me the answer via Facebook Messenger.

If you are not going to follow the instructions after you lose, don’t bother playing.

Your turn! Read the riddle. If your answer is incorrect, I can choose any of your photos and you have to post it along with the riddle. If you answer correctly, I'll write your name in the comments (with a trophy emoji).

Riddle: It's 7:00 AM. You are asleep and there is a sudden knock on the door. Behind the door are your parents who came to have breakfast. In your fridge are bread, milk (pasteurized), juice, and a jar of jam. To answer, what will you open first?

* Answer directly through Private message only please. Answers in the comment section will be deleted. **

Note: It’s not what you think. So far no one has got it. Read carefully!!!!

Standby for your photo! 😂😂
I'll choose one, from your fb page.
There is some guilt-mongering there, with the "don't bother" part. There are certainly some challenges to the ego.

This is not a riddle like the ones exchanged by Bilbo and Gollum in The Hobbit. This is more like a trick questions used for strengthening logic, similar to the ones used on The Brady Bunch when they were helping Cindy prep for the test to be on television (before her ego got the best of her). Remember that one that started "You are the bus driver" and then it is all about quantities of passengers getting on and off? You are trying to track arithmetic in your head, thinking that will be the question, and then they ask "What is the name of the bus driver?" It's not even that you have forgotten that you were the bus driver; you probably didn't take it literally enough for it to enter in. The trick then becomes looking beyond the obvious.

Anyway, I did this. I got the answer wrong, which was okay, except that I thought the answer was really stupid and I didn't want to propagate it. I told three people who DM'd me the answer but did not choose a photo, and I kind of hope the whole thing dies.

I am going to reveal the answer here. I have some guilt about that, but it was stupid and I resented it, so now I am lashing out at the answer. Also to do the full deconstruction - which is kind of my jam - it is necessary.

Trick questions are like magic tricks in that they focus on misdirection; we draw your eyes here while we do the trick part there. A flash of smoke is more likely to be distracting than concealing.

Here the questions is about opening. The logical place for the mind to go is to the most recent items, all of which can be opened: bread, milk, juice, and jam. The extraneous detail about the milk being pasteurized can make you wonder... is that important? Does that mean I should open it first?

That is misdirection, but it is fairly obvious misdirection. A little thinking gets you past that to where you know you have to open the fridge before any of them. A little thinking in a different direction will remind you that it would be rude to leave your parents standing at the door while you make their breakfast.

(Another mode of thinking will tell you that it is rude for your parents to show up expecting breakfast while you are still in bed, but maybe it was prearranged and you accidentally slept in. Even if your parents are rude, you are probably still letting them in first.)

Going back one step further, you are in bed; before you can do anything you need to open your eyes. That works back through three levels of digging past the obvious. Surely it should be the eyes! That subverts the tendency to look the most recent by going back to the very beginning.

(I answered eyes. The people who responded to me responded with fridge, door, and eyes. No one was fooled by the pasteurized milk.)

The answer was Messenger, justified by the phrasing "To answer, what will you open first", followed by the injunction to answer only through Private message.

I was once taught a card game whose clean name is "I Doubt It". It was somewhat like Go Fish, where you are trying to collect and discard cards, but you are supposed to cheat by lying about what cards you have in order to discard faster. Other players can challenge you by saying "I doubt it" or possibly some acronym indicating doubt.

Trying something, I put the card I had and claimed to have on top of another card, holding them together so it looked like only one card. I was challenged when I put the card down, but when I lifted that card only, and left the other on the pile, I got away with actual cheating, not the "cheating" that was within the rules. I still feel guilty about that. (For the record, I think I was eleven, I felt wrong about it, and I have not cheated in a game since then.)

Anyway, I didn't like this riddle because it felt like it was breaking its own rules. The clue is outside of the body of the riddle. If it had been really clever or interesting, that might have made up for it, but as it was I just felt kind of annoyed. I posted my picture, but I am ending it there. I mean, if one of my repliers had come back asking for me to choose a picture - if their honor demanded it - I would have, but no one did.

The bigger violation here is of course that I have revealed the answer, but you have to read a meandering blog post to get there, and maybe that is enough work for what isn't  - in my opinion -  a very good riddle.