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Deeds Not Words

On this election day I’m reminded that women in the U.S. have only been able to vote for less than one hundred years. So I will exercise that hard won right as I have many times before. But what about the right to walk down a public street without being harassed? Hollaback! - an anti-street harassment group recently made a video of a volunteer, a young woman dressed simply in a crew neck t-shirt and jeans, walking through NYC for 10 hours while being catcalled the entire time. This happened to me much more when I worked in the downtown areas of St. Paul and Minneapolis. But I experienced it just a few weeks ago, in front of my son. I was dropping him off at his Dad’s. We were on the sidewalk when a pickup truck full of bros rolled by and erupted in “whooooo lookin’ good girl!” And the like. Well, yes, I did try to look presentable as I was on my way to a funeral home for a wake. But my appearance didn’t warrant commenting upon. Especially in such a disrespectful manner from three strangers in a moving vehicle. It does seem like there’s more interest in addressing this problem lately. But naturally with it comes greater pushback from dismissive men. Not okay. From Media Matters for America:

We spliced together HollaBack!’s video depicting street harassment with clips of conservatives who defended it. This is how the right gives shelter to sexism.

How about five good things?

If you’re in MN there’s a nifty sample ballot / polling place finder tool. Nationwide there’s Get to the Polls.


The Abyss Gazes Back

We survived! My boyfriend and I took the lightrail to a show in the Warehouse District, on a Friday night that was also Halloween. After the show there were an appalling number of drunken revelers we had to push our way through. And far too many of them were pants-less. In 21 degree weather. This is Minnesota, people. I will never understand this behavior. Have you no self-preservation instincts? Or dignity? I wish more of those young ladies would have looked over these feminist costume ideas. Speaking of, I had an epiphany yesterday. The perfect Halloween costume idea! But I’m going to have to file it away for 2015.

Five good things:

  • Sneak a Peek Inside the “Witch’s House” of Beverly Hills. For the first time ever, Michael J. Libow shares pictures inside his home fit for Hansel and Gretel
  • What We Wore: vintage British street styles – in pictures
  • ZOMG Pee Wee Herman voices the Avengers 2 trailer, on Fallon. So good!
  • Also happy making, PJ Harvey covers Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand
  • Not a good tidbit so much as a bittersweet one. This week there was news that “Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment May Have Been Identified.” That evening a childhood friend messaged me. “You can finally finish your 6th grade high potential project!” I can’t believe he remembered my Amelia Earhart obsession. And oh High Potential. That was a strange program where a handful of students were pulled out of each grade level in our school district and brought together a couple of times a month. Which would have been great except it exacerbated our “smart kid” situations and caused the other kids pick on us more.

Yesterday my son’s school was closed, because of the end of the quarter. But it was nice having him with me for Halloween. We dressed up together, went out for lunch, stopped by my office in costume then saw The Nightmare Before Christmas on the big screen in a nearly empty theater. Afterward he volunteered to hand out candy to the neighborhood trick or treaters, while remaining in costume. That’s my boy!

Halloween 2014 at Clockwork

Meet Me in the Middle

Growing up in the 70s and 80s I remember popular music being omnipresent but not always grabbing me. Or, if it did, my parents were often horrified to find me singing along to something with mature content. Like eight year old me rocking out to the J. Giles Band’s Centerfold without having any idea what it was about. Similarly I’m pretty sure I enjoyed Eye of the Tiger just because Jimi Jamison was singing about tigers (but it was also very anthemic). These are strange nearly forgotten bits of childhood. If I hear one of those songs now I’ll realize I know all the words. But I process them differently as an adult. During a recent public radio pledge drive I found myself scanning stations on my car’s radio. I kept flipping back from one classic rock station to a golden oldies one. And it was like I was really hearing the songs for the first time. With maturity and life experience has come understanding. The pain of wronged lovers. Regret. Loss. Consequences for foolish actions. I get it now. I’ve been there. But some of the lyrics are still baffling. Like today, when I heard The Warrior by Scandal. “Your eyes touch me physically” - what? I can’t shake the mental image of some guy’s moist eyeballs actually making contact with my bare skin. So gross.

Five good or interesting items of note:

  • I have so much respect for this man. “How John Oliver won the Internet - Last Week Tonight has already surpassed other fake news shows of its ilk. Its secret? Long-form journalism” Watching John Oliver take on the sugar industry just in time for Halloween was so perfect. And immediately made me feel guilty for buying two bags of Halloween candy at Target. We should have just gotten glow sticks! Or toothbrushes. Or something else constructive and useful to hand out. Instead of this poison. I wonder if I saved my receipt.
  • Somehow I missed this over the summer but it’s pure genius. “Weird Al” Yankovic plays Isaac Newton in Epic Rap Battles Of History
  • This is so inspiring. “Old Masters: After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.”
  • Terrifying but hilarious. “This is Deb, she sells handmade sweaters on eBay while looking like she’s being held hostage against her will.”
  • Since the beginning, in 2004, I’ve been a flickr user and fan. At times I’ve been disappointed in flickr, as will happen with a partner in any long-term relationship. But sometimes flickr surprises and delights me. As they did recently with Flickr PARK or BIRD. “We at Flickr are not ones to back down from a challenge. Especially when that challenge comes in webcomic form. And especially when that webcomic is xkcd. So, when we saw this xkcd comic we thought, we’ve got to do that

Oh crapple. I’ve long had lousy luck with iPhone cables. And the lightning cables are even less hardy than their predecessors. I’ve gone through at least five since the beginning of the year. The only thing that has reliably charged my phone is a little speaker dock. But that won’t sync my phone to my computer (and I can’t set up wifi sync until I get yet another working cable). “Prevent or fix frayed lightning cables.” I suppose. I quite like this one. But for now I’m going to try this sturdy looking one. And yes, I realize this is inconsequential non-news. But irritating just the same.

Devil's Tower, August 2014

Fear Makes the Wolf Seem Larger

What a moody Monday! Trying to move past that feeling of being engulfed by my obligations. Breaking it down into smaller bits to make it all more manageable. I do need to get better at saying NO when others ask for something that requires a chunk of my time. There just isn’t that much of it to go around. I did drop one of the Coursera classes I’d been so excited about (cryptography). And being sick for most of September sure didn’t help things, followed by our long weekend away. Hopefully I won’t be playing catch up forever. I did make some headway last night. Spent many hours editing wedding photos while listening to podcasts. Including each episode of This American Life’s new show, Serial.

Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it. A Baltimore County Murder From Fifteen Years Ago, Revisited

The show is fascinating and well done but I didn’t intend to get so wrapped up in teenage murder mysteries. That one is not fictional, which makes it even harder to listen to. But I also happened to pick up Tana French’s new book, The Secret Place, and, as usual, her writing is so well done that it feels real even if it is fiction.

How about five less depressing things:

This morning my boyfriend and I have been waiting at our computers for 9am CDT to roll around so we could buy some Sleater-Kinney pre-sale tickets for the upcoming Minneapolis show. But no dice. I managed to click the Buy Tickets button somewhere between 9:00am and 9:01am but was immediately greeted with this message: “All tickets in this ticket type are currently in customers’ checkout carts. Should any of these customers choose not to complete their purchase, the tickets will become available again.” Boo hiss. Allegedly there will still be tickets available from First Avenue on Friday at noon but those are likely to sell just about as quickly. Guess I need to be inhumanly fast on the draw! Dang.

Eryn lounges

The River of Time

Last week was another frustration-filled one (which included what would have been my brother Tom’s 44th birthday). My To Do list is a mile long but we had already booked the trip for my son’s school break so we forged ahead. Without internet access. On Lake Pepin, in Stockholm, WI. It was a lovely long weekend of trying to get my mind off of all of the things that need doing. But now we’re back in it with ALL the stress. Everything demanding my attention all at once. At least the trees sure are pretty right now.

Five good things:

In the super bad news category, freaking GamerGate. I haven’t addressed this here (been tweeting about it like mad) but in case you aren’t aware here are some good pieces about the lousy situation:

Women Are Being Driven Offline“: Feminist Anita Sarkeesian Terrorized for Critique of Video Games. And A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls. And “Rape and death threats are terrorizing female gamers. Why haven’t men in tech spoken out?” The smallest glimmer of hope from the UK where a new law will throw trolls in jail for two years.

Super discouraging. In the early days of the web I had so much hope for this new medium, to bring us all together. And it did then. I still have many friends who I initially met through our blogs or flickr photo walks. But the web has also become just another avenue for humans to be shitty to one another, and a more impersonal, removed one which only makes the hate filled cowards that much bolder. I’d like to think the good outweighs the bad but situations like this are so damned overwhelming. Makes me long for my own Point of View gun, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy style.

Screaming Females

Same As It Ever Was

Bureaucratic frustrations abound. We did manage to make one positive change at my son’s school, and it was a major one, but the entire autism program still needs an overhaul. I had hoped for a smoother transition to high school for my son. Instead it seems like his entire freshman year will be a bumpy ride. And that is frustrating beyond belief. I just want to make it all better for him but I’m feeling powerless. And at times steaming mad. But I am persistent and I’m not going to give up. We have another meeting at the school early next week. Hopefully more progress can be gained.

How about five good things?

Last weekend I shot my last wedding of the season. And I also managed to cram in some Fall family fun on Sunday. Our little household ventured off to The Vegetarian in St. Croix Falls along with Fawn Doe Rosa, the Franconia sculpture park and Sven’s Clogs in Chisago (dangerous, I want them all). Oh and we picked up some New Glarus since we were in Wisconsin. And there’s the novelty of purchasing alcohol on a Sunday! Something we still can’t do in Minnesota.

Dick Diver

My Whole Life is a Dark Room

Now that it is October I feel I can officially get excited about Halloween. My son’s costume has been in the works for months and I finally thought of a costume idea for myself. You see, I, myself, am strange and unusual. And I will be dressing up as goth teen photographer Lydia Deetz, from Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. Naturally I already have most of the things needed for her outfit. And we’ll host our annual pumpkin carving party the weekend before Halloween. I gotta say, the idea of this Halloween camp-in overnight, at the Science Museum of Minnesota, is sort of tempting but there’s too much going on that weekend.

Five other good things:

What an odd day. Congressman Keith Ellison randomly dropped by my workplace. That was neat and I managed to snap off a few photos of his visit. Before my main camera died. And I don’t just mean the battery ran out of juice. I’m talking catastrophic failure. And I’ve got another wedding to shoot in a few days. Naturally. A photographer friend asked if I had any idea what my shutter count is for my Canon 5d Mark ii. I admitted that I don’t know (nor can I find out at the moment) but I’m sure it’s ridiculously high. I plan to have this body repaired but it likely doesn’t have a whole lot of life left in it. So I bit the bullet and ordered a new Canon 6d body. From Amazon. Only realizing once I got to the checkout page that Amazon started collecting sales tax in Minnesota TODAY. Life can be a mean drunk that way.

Keith Ellison stopped by Clockwork>

Something Went Wrong

My son wasn’t even in pre-school when I first suspected something. The combination of an astute day care worker and my own experiences with my first cousin led me to have him screened early. I’ve never cared what label was applied. The labels are meaningless. My son is not a label. Unfortunately these descriptors are necessary in order to get him the services he’s needed. And modifications. And adaptations. His first two years in St Paul’s early childhood special ed program were just the thing. But when it came time for kindergarten we weren’t offered enough support. He was just going to be tossed into a classroom with 30 typical kids and one teacher. Nope. So I found a great charter school. It wasn’t so conveniently located to our home but we made it work. When our time there ended we made the messy transition back to public school. His charter school IEP was written in a way that made it difficult for his new school to interpret. But they tried. And they worked with us to re-write it. And he made so many gains he was moved out of an autism-only setting to general ed classrooms. Fast forward to this year. I made the choice to move us to another city - and a new school district - for high school. It seemed like the best choice. Closer to his Dads, a school with a later start time and a good reputation, within walking distance from our new home. But it’s been an anxiety-filled obstacle course trying to get my son the help he needs. The staff seem overwhelmed and the program understaffed. It’s hard to strike the balance of advocating for our kids without turning the educators against them and making a bad situation worse. Recently I met parents of other students in the same autism program and we have similar concerns, so we are voicing them together. Hopefully we can collectively make some positive changes for our kids.

Five random good things on this gloomy Monday:

It’s nearly October. My son’s Halloween costume is coming together nicely. Now I need to think of one for myself. Or a group or themed Halloween costume, which is something we try to do annually at Clockwork. For some reason my son’s school is closed on Halloween so I’ll have to convince him to come to work with me during the day to see everyone dressed up. And that night I’m actually going to a show. Generally I don’t go out on Halloween. I like to stay home and hand out candy to the trick or treaters. But seminal shoegaze band Slowdive is on tour and playing here for the first time in forever so of course I picked up tickets. And only realized what a nightmare the Warehouse District is going to be. On a Friday night. That is also Halloween. Groan.

Artist-Designed Mini Golf at the Walker Art Center

The Man Who Sold the World

Today I have Bowie on the brain, even more than usual. David Bowie, the patron saint of gender bending, is not just one of the most influential musicians of all time. Bowie is also an accomplished painter, photographer, actor, collector and more.

David Bowie Is presents the first retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive—including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades—are brought together for the first time.

The retrospective opens today at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and a documentary about the exhibit is screening at select theaters tonight only. Alas, I can’t make it to the theater tonight due to prior parenting obligations. But this gives me an extra excuse to make it to Chicago sometime this Fall.

Five more good things:

Ever so slowly I have been recovering from this sinus infection. Two plus weeks of sickness, combined with being exceptionally busy. Friday night we made it to the Turf Club, again, for Old Familiar Chime: A Guitar Festival. It was lovely but exhausting. Saturday there were multiple shows happening around town featuring friends’ bands but I was in no shape for any of them. Instead we took my son mini golfing at the Walker Art Center in the afternoon and stayed in to watch Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. I adore Tilda Swinton so much. And she had great chemistry with Tom Hiddleston. Sunday we overdid it a bit. Met up with friends to sample the new brunch menu at the Turf Club (again with the Turf), and amble around St Paul Open Streets for a spell. We didn’t have much time to rest before my son’s birthday party out in the suburbs at SkyZone, an indoor trampoline park. A bonus perk? My son can go back to SkyZone for free whenever he wants for the next month. And I scored some free SkyZone aerobics passes. Oof. My back still hurts from Sunday.

In the clown lounge with Wendy

Staying Ahead of the Narrative

Next week the Minneapolis chapter of Girls in Tech will be screening the documentary Miss Representation. The trailer is a bit hard to stomach so I can only imagine what the full length film will be like. But this is a topic that needs to be addressed. The portrayal of women in the media has bothered me for as long as I can remember. I’ve read a few reviews that attack this documentary for not being perfect - for not being this or too much of that. But we need to start somewhere to get the discussion going in earnest.

Five good things for this Wednesday:

In my previous post I mentioned that last Sunday saw our area’s Open Streets in Minneapolis but this Sunday is another one - in my former stomping grounds of Saint Paul. There will be plenty to do and see, including a performance by our friends in International Novelty Gamelan. And so far the weather forecast is looking mighty fine.

Shonen Knife