One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.
I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane
I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.
( video embed (borderline NSFW) )
In one way it was really nice not to have to just sit and wind myself up while I waited. The bus timetable meant I got there about fifteen minutes early, too, because it was either that or be late, so I'd actually been sitting quite a while and it didn't seem like it at all with someone nice to talk to.
But it did mean I ended up really really hoping I get this. Which is really really inconvenient.
I had vague answers at some points where I think specific ones would be better. But the interviewers seemed more impressed with me than I would've been if I were them, so I dunno if I'm being too hard on myself or they're just really nice. Well, they are really nice, but I don't know how much that was masking their thoughts!
They said they hope to have an answer for us by the end of today or else tomorrow. So at least I don't have long to wait.
I woke up long enough before my alarm this morning thst I was both extra-bothered by needing a haircut and actually had time to do it. So I did, and I took picture after I got dressed (in my fancy clothes, not the grubby ones I walked the dog and went to the post office on first) and put it online and have had a lot of nice and supportive comments. I know selfies can boost self-esteem but I don't think I'd ever actually had it happen to me before! So that was fun.
This may sound like a pure semantic distinction. It is not: it is a distinction with enormous practical value.
Some time back, Juha lent me his copy of The Mind Illuminated, a book on meditation. This is the best book on meditation that I have ever read. Among other practical instructions, it was the first time that a text really properly explained what the concrete goal of mindfulness practices are.
The goal (or at least a goal) of mindfulness is to train the mental processes responsible for maintaining your peripheral awareness - your background sense of everything that is going on around you, but which is not in the focus of your active attention - to observe not only your physical surroundings, but also the processes going on in your mind. By doing so, the mental processes responsible for habit formation start to get more information about what kinds of thought patterns produce pleasure and which kinds of thought patterns produce suffering. Over time this will start reshaping your mind, as patterns which only produce suffering will get dropped.
And part of the reason why this happens, is that you will start seeing thoughts with false promises of pleasure as what they are; rather than chasing promises of short-term pleasure, you will shift to sustainable thought patterns that produce long-term pleasure.
Suppose that you are meditating, and trying to maintain a focus on your breath. Over time this may start to feel boredom. A pleasant-feeling thought will arise, tempting you to get distracted with its promise of relief from the boredom. But if you do get distracted sufficiently many times, and pay attention to how you feel afterwards, you will notice that this didn't actually make you feel very good. Your concentration is in shambles and chasing random thoughts has just made you feel scatter-brained.
So the next time when that particular distraction arises, it may be slightly less tempting. And you begin to notice that it does feel good when you succeed at maintaining your concentration and ignoring the distractions. You had been suffering because your mind had been offering promises of pleasure which you felt you had to reject, but eventually you begin to internalize it's not a choice of pleasure versus concentration at all. Concentration is only boring, or otherwise unpleasant, if you buy into the illusion of needing to chase the pleasant thought in order to feel good. If the false promise of pleasure stops tempting you, then the suffering of not having that pleasure goes away.
The tempting, pleasant thought is kind of like a marketer who first makes you feel inadequate about something, and then offers to sell you a product that will make you feel better. Your problem was never the lack of product; your problem was the person who made you think you can only feel good once you have his product.
Over time you learn to transfer this to your everyday life, paying attention to tempting thought-patterns that cause you suffering there. You experience different kinds of suffering, and feel that this could be fixed, if only you had X. Maybe you are procrastinating on something, and you get distracted by the idea of playing video games instead. Your mind tells you that if you just played video games, they would feel so good, and that pleasure would take away the pain of procrastination.
But if you do start to play the game, you may eventually notice that the promised pleasure never really manifested. Procrastination didn't make you feel good, it just made you feel more miserable. And it's one thing to know this on an intellectual level, in the way that most of us know intellectually that we're going to regret procrastinating later; it's quite another to actually internalize that belief in such a way that you recognize the temptation itself as harmful, and your mind begins learning to just ignore the temptation, until it never arises in the first place.
And the same principle applies more widely. Social anxiety, frustration over having to participate in an event you wouldn't actually want to participate in, regrets over past mistakes: all are fundamentally about clinging to a thought which promises to offer pleasure, if only you (weren't around these people/could skip the event/could change what had happened in the past). It is when you internalize that thinking about this isn't actually going to deliver the pleasure and is actually causing you suffering, that reframe of the thought makes it easier to just automatically let go of it, with no need to struggle or expend willpower.
Originally published at Kaj Sotala. You can comment here or there.
(She isn't dealing with race here -- yes, of course, Luke Cage is a hero, how could he not be? And Falcon, and T'Challa. And many others whom I see on cable but whose names I don't know. But the field of combat/discussion is sexism here.)
So. Who are the women I see as heroes in movies, not as 'women heroes'? Not as sidekicks, or (forgive me, Rosalind Russell) as equal-to-men-but-in-a-men's-world, such as Hildy in 'My Girl Friday' (which was originally a man's role)? (I am exempting comedies from this, overall, because being a hero can be largely humorless. If someone has a hero who is female and in a comedy, I'd really like to know about it.) And what is a hero? For purposes of this post, I'm defining a hero as someone who goes up against impossible odds to achieve a goal that generally include keeping 'self and/or one or more other people alive, whether or not they are people the hero personally knows. (There are variations -- achieving an impossible goal can be heroic, but isn't always presented as such.) Another requirement is that the hero is someone with agency who chooses to use it to change the status quo for the better. By the end of the movie, something has to be different because of what the hero did. The stakes must be high, the difficulties many and the resources limited.
(Sexism example: Nobody complains about the Sundance Kid shooting people. They complain about Thelma and Louise blowing up the rude sexist trucker's truck. There's only one shooting in that movie, of a rapist, and I don't even want to hear about how he 'hadn't done anything yet' when he'd brutalized Louise in a way that made it clear that she's not his first victim.)
(Yes, Buffy and Faith are heroes -- but I'm thinking movies here, not tv, and the movie of Buffy was not so much about heroism as about overturning high-school and prom-night-movie tropes.)
Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, in Alien, Aliens, etc. My favorite is the second movie, because I went to see it with a really horrible boyfriend I was trying to break up with, and it gave me the courage to dump him. Ripley is a killer because of circumstances -- self defense and protecting the girl -- and her targets are the enormous aliens that are trying to kill them. Does it not count as being a killer if you use a spaceship to do it? Or if the victims are trying to kill you and are aliens?
(Ripley was originally a man's role -- it was written for Paul Newman, as was Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. The name -- Axel Foley -- is a give-away, half Swedish and half Irish. I can come up with a few reasons why a black character would have that name -- but I seriously doubt that many black kids were named Axel until after the movie came out.)
Sally Field, in both Places in the Heart and Norma Rae. Neither of them has rape involved, present or past. This is steadfast, plugging, get-it-done heroism, not flashy. What changes is that through her hard work and steadfastness, and befriending outcasts (Danny Glover and John Malkovich), she keeps her home. It probably helps that Sally Field looks like a fluffy bunny in Places, and is sweaty and ungroomed in Norma Rae. I've worked in a factory without AC in the summer -- she looked like I felt on the assembly line. And that scene where she is dragged away to the police car, fighting for her life? She broke two ribs on one of the guys carrying her that day; she was dead serious in that fight.
Leia Organa, whether princess, freedom fighter, or general, is a hero. She's also a killer, unless all those dudes in white plastic armor don't count when she shoots at them and they fall down. She's also the Hutt-slayer and a liberator of planets. Over the first three movies (they will always be the first three for me, not the prequels) her character grows and develops. What we have lost when Carrie died was the rest of the story for her -- at least we have Movie 8 coming, with more of General Leia. (I have no idea why The Geek Feminist Revolution didn't include her as a hero, unless she's in an essay I haven't gotten to yet. I mean, she's the one with the two male sidekicks who think it's all about them.)
Karen Silkwood, played by Meryl Streep, is a hero, killed for trying to tell people about workplace safety violations in a plutonium factory. Meryl Streep also plays more of an action hero in The River Wild, and there are no rapes there -- and she does kill Kevin Bacon's character, who richly deserves it. However, Meryl Streep can play anything except a doormat; the closest she came to that was in Sophie's Choice, early on, where she is powerless to save both of her children from murder by the Nazis and never completely recovers afterward. It's a powerful role and amazing acting -- but she is not a hero, she's a survivor, and the two aren't necessarily the same.
Arwen Undomiel, one of two named women characters in Lord of the Rings (seriously: Rosie Cotton is a walk-on so Sam will have someone conventionally female to come home to) is a hero, and a swordfighter, when she rides down to the ford to bring Frodo up to Rivendell. I have fantasized at times about a version of LOTR from her viewpoint -- being the witness, seeing what's happening but not able to change the war, then choosing mortality over immortality because with Aragorn she had found something she could not find with another elf. There are hints in the books of their marriage being considered miscegenation by Elrond and others, but it can't be said overly strongly because he is Elrond Half-Elven, after all. What would her story look like, from her viewpoint? She wasn't Eleanor of Aquitaine, riding bare-breasted toward Jerusalem with the Crusades -- "the troops were dazzled" -- because sexuality barely exists in Tolkien's writing other than bromance. If anything, she is stuck being more like Katherine in Henry V -- outside the "men's discussion" of war and tribute and appeasement, but she escapes being the property that must be exchanged for the treaty to take place. But to get back to Arwen, heroes are people who act, and Arwen does act, in the scenes we see -- that is her choice. The book and movie show us the aftereffect, the willing bride and queen -- they don't show the inner struggle she went through to get there. (FWIW, I have a hard time not reading Merry and Pippin as kid sisters to Frodo, but that's me. Tomboy kid sisters who get into scrapes and out of them.)
Eowyn, also LOTR, is certainly a hero -- gets into armor, rides into battle, kills the Witch King --"No man can kill me." "I am no man." She also shows 'womanly' virtues by caring for the ailing king, her uncle, and mourning her brother. I would dearly love to see a story in which she and Arwen are hanging out and talking, since they are the co-rulers of neighboring countries. Peter Jackson has much to answer for in not having Faramir's courtship of and marriage to Eowyn in the movie. Yes, it was three hours long. It could have been three hours and five minutes.
I don't see Galadriel as a hero. Yes, she turns down the Ring. But that's it. Nothing changes for her after the movie -- she goes into the Weat, where all the elves were going anyway. She's a queen, a wise woman, a visionary -- but not a hero in these terms. And -- JRR Tolkien, why could you not have put Arwen and Galadriel in the same room *once*?
Speaking of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Katharine Hepburn plays her as a hero in her own eyes who is stuck in a proscribed women's role and trying her best to get out of it at times by manipulation and scheming (traditionally considered women's weapons). But she also brings knives to her sons when her husband has imprisoned them, so they can fight their way out --"It's 1183, and we're all barbarians." Much as I love Kate's movies, it's hard for me to call her a hero. A strong woman, yes, but in that narrative (play or movie) not heroic. She does not change anything. At the end of the story she's going back to her own prison, and everyone who was alive when the movie started still is, though their relationships have shifted a bit. Hepburn played the roles that were available, and women-as-equals or women-as-partners were her forte. But not heroes. But Kate Hepburn's movies could be an entire other post or three.
I am not sure whether Celie, in The Color Purple, could be considered a hero. She does not overturn the status quo as much as go along with it for her own survival. Much of the time she doesn't have agency, and when she does it's fairly minor -- designing women's trousers is not quite like going over a waterfall in a raft with your son and two murderers (The River Wild).
Regardless of Hollywood's prejudices, Black Widow is a hero, as well as a survivor. I would like to see a movie in which we see both of those -- the agency she has is to change herself after Hawkeye refuses to kill her. And yes, she's a killer -- it's her job. I'm not sure she's written as well as she deserves. Fanfic does better by her than the movies do, at this point, much of the time.
What women are your movie heroes, and why?
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
If the President, Vice-President, or other officers of the US are accused of treason, accepting bribes, or committing other crimes, there is a vote to remove them from office and to have a trial to establish guilt.
Just because the word is bandied about a great deal lately, I do want to caution my readers that in the US, the crime of Treason is very specifically defined, and doesn’t mean, “You’re a rotten American” or even “You’re putting your own interest before that of the US.” We’ll be getting to it at the end of Article III.
So far I've played games with both swampers and danieldwilliam and both of them picked it up quickly and enjoyed playing it.
It's based (surprisingly enough) on the idea behind dominoes - or, at least, the part of dominoes where you have tiles with two ends and need to match them against each other. In this case the different ends are different terrains (grass, mountain, etc), and you score by forming areas of the same terrain*. Each turn you have to make a judgement between going for the tiles that score the highest, versus going for lower-scoring tiles which allow you make the first move the next turn.
I enjoyed it, and I'm definitely taking it on holiday. If you're looking for a filler game then it'll do a great job of that.
*It's a bit more complex than that, but not a lot.
47 people clicked through to that post from Facebook. 5 from Twitter.
The 5 from Twitter all did so within an hour of the post going up.
The 47 from Facebook did so over the course of the following 12 hours (19 of them within an hour, but then an ongoing curve downwards).
Which indicates to me that Facebook does a pretty good job of knowing when something is interesting to my friends, and keeping it "active" for a while, whereas Twitter sweeps it away near-instantly, and unless it really grabs people it's gone.
And looking at my overall referrer stats, Facebook gets between three and six times the number of clicks that Twitter does.
(Just had a look at my actual LJ statistics too - yesterday I had 145 readers, of which 100-ish were reading via their friends-page and 45 were going direct to my posts/journal. Sadly I don't get the same info from DW, but Google Analytics tells me that 78 people visited that post on DW.)
I wrote about my friendship with Jordin when recounting my history with filking a couple years ago. But some of that could bear repeating.
Jordin appeared at UC Berkeley in the fall of 1978, a new grad student in physics fresh out of MIT. He'd been involved in the heavily-organized science-fiction fandom of the Boston area, and sought out such fandom as existed in the Bay Area. He tried out my on-campus club (I was a senior-class undergrad at the time); he became vice-chair of the Elves', Gnomes', and Little Men's Science Fiction, Chowder and Marching Society (the old-line East Bay fan group) for a while; but what most interested him was filking, the singing, composition, and collection of humorous and serious original songs and parodies about SF, fandom, and space exploration. Organized filking, as a fandom of its own and not just something fans occasionally did at parties, was just getting started in our area then. Jordin was used to organized Massachusetts filking, where they had things like the NESFA Hymnal, a full-scale songbook, and when he found that we were disorganized, yet had songs known not in Massachusetts, he formed the idea of a west-coast songbook. He proposed this at a local housefilk and asked if anybody wanted to help. Teri Lee and I volunteered, and that's how we became the three editors of The Westerfilk Collection. There turned out not to be time to compile it before the 1979 Westercon in San Francisco, though we did produce some songsheets then, and it came out the following year.
Ah, we had some great times creating that with the primitive technology of the time. The three of us did most of the layout on evenings and weekends in the Lawrence Berkeley Lab office, up the hill from campus, which Jordin did his physics work out of. Teri hand-drew the sheet music (yes, really), and I - who had the most secretarial experience - typed up all the lyrics on the finished sheets with one of the office Selectrics. Jordin kept the work organized. We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. There was of course much more than that - there was choosing appropriate songs and getting rights to them, organizing the contents, getting illustrations, and then printing and distributing, and Jordin was the principal in most of this, as well as the guiding spirit who kept it all focused on a vision.
Then it was published, and for years it was the basic bible of West Coast filking as it was intended to be. Jordin got more involved in filking. He learned to play the guitar, to sing (after a fashion), and to compose songs, some of them heroic ballads of human longing for space, and others corrosively funny. I could tell you of a lot of these songs, but others can do so more authoritatively than I, so let me just mention one, a parody to a hoary old folk tune (so you should know it) and one of his very first. Around the time these movies were new, Jordin expressed concern that, while there were a lot of songs about Star Wars, there seemed to be a dearth about Close Encounters. So he wrote one.
They'll be comin' to the mountain when they come
They'll be comin' to the mountain when they come
Devil's Tower is their mountain
For their taste there's no accountin'
They'll be comin' to the mountain when they come.
And many more verses equally silly.
Then I went off to grad school and eventually dropped out of filking. For a while I didn't see much of Jordin, but a lot happened to him. First he and Teri parlayed the success of the Westerfilk into Off Centaur Publications, the first major filk publishing outfit, even more important for its concert and studio tapes than its songbooks. Jordin actually recorded a couple tapes of his own songs. After several years of great success it all broke up in recriminations and lawsuits, sometime around 1987, but Jordin kept on in filking.
But meantime he also got his Ph.D. in 1984, describing a method of automated search for supernovas - how exciting! - and began a career in high tech for some impressively well-funded startups. His specialty was laser propulsion of space travel, and he actually got some test rockets up. It expressed the same organizational skills he'd displayed in editing the Westerfilk and, more importantly, it was a step towards realization of the dream he'd expressed in his serious filksongs.
(Jordin's scientific papers all used the middle initial T., which he once told me he'd made up so that he would have one.)
By the time I saw Jordin much again, he was married to Mary Kay, a long-time fan and library cataloger (also my profession) originally from Oklahoma, and he was busy with his fast-moving career, shutting back and forth between the Bay Area and Seattle. He and Mary Kay lived in the Bay Area for a while, then they moved to Seattle because more of the work was there, then they decided they preferred the Bay Area, then they tried living in both places at once, then they moved back to San Jose. My relationship with Jordin had become a casual acquaintance, not the closer friendship of our Westerfilk days, but I'd see him at parties and he'd tell stories of working with Elon Musk and the like.
And then he needed to get his aortic valve replaced and
And we have lost a visionary - who strove to convert his visions into practice - and a creator and a wit and a friend.