Friday, August 8, 2014

Acquisition vs Assimilation.

As I've been lamenting on all the social medias and my YouTube videos, all I can think about recently is the radio station. I seem to only have enough room in my greyspace to concentrate on the thing that is enjoyed by the least number of people. I've been very lazy about writing. I haven't done it at all since the last blog entry which was the first time I'd written...

Excuses aside, I still have my regular amount of philosophical thoughts. I usually babble them on my radio station now or to my Michael and my friend Lindsey instead of writing about them. I'd like to say that this will all change from now on, but likely it won't.

My year isn't going as specifically outlined by me in my little year goal notebook. Instead of ALL the writing I had planned I've started a YouTube channel and a radio station. I'm allowing myself to "go with the flow". I've given myself permission to focus on the creative projects that I want to focus upon, which don't involve writing right now. I still plan to undertake NaNoWriMo in November and generally write my face off as the months get colder...

but this summer I've been listening to music.

Listening to music is my favorite pastime of all time. I've been on vacation this last week and not having the money to GO on vacation, I've mostly stayed in playing Animal Crossing and listening to my iPod on shuffle. I "discovered" several gems shuffling my entire music library. That wouldn't have been possible 15 years ago. The way I enjoy music now is different than the way I enjoyed music then.

The difference, I now realize, is acquisition versus assimilation. Pre-iPod (2001) I would get a new CD once or twice a month and spend the entire time between each CD purchase pouring over the sounds within the newly-bought album. I'd memorize the lyrics and burn the images from the artwork into my brain. I had the time and space to integrate the new music into the rest of my collection. I had the time to get to know the music and where it fit into all of the many music schemas within my mind. All I had was the music I had acquired slowly over the years, and maybe the radio...or whatever mixes my friends made me in the spaces between new CDs.

Now my attention is severely fragmented by the paradox of choice. I listen to Spotify. I listen to Songza. I listen to SomaFM. I acquire new music from Freegal (free library service--not available in Joplin, but in Kansas City) and Google Music weekly, sometimes even daily. I don't acquire new music because I'm sick of what I have already amassed, but simply because I can. I can have so many tracks that I forget to listen to albums I've had for years. I have albums I have NEVER heard in their entirety. I'm ashamed to admit that. Truly ashamed.

Lately I've been researching shoegaze, listening to Pale Saints and Slowdive and Lush and My Bloody Valentine. I thought I would make a mix for my radio show, but it wasn't coming. It wasn't coming because I was listening to the tip of an iceberg of a genre of music I wasn't already intimately familiar. I was seeking the kind of knowledge I only have of music I've known since the days of Assimilation, while in the midst of the distractions everywhere in the Age of Acquisition. I haven't had enough time with shoegaze, but I was assuming I could bang it out really quick.

I don't yet know how I'll do this, but reconnecting with my music library over these past few vacation days has convinced me I simply MUST take more time to assimilate sound. I will never be able to hear every new album from 2014, but that old Delerium record is sitting within the folds of my iPod needing just as much validation as anything in my "recently added" playlist. I have almost 10,000 songs in my digital music library. If I listened to each one of them, I would probably decide I didn't like at least 5% of them.

Doing the weekly radio show (every Friday from 7-11pm CST here) has opened Pandora's Box/The Tree of Knowledge for me. Until I started the radio station at the beginning of July, I hadn't sat still and listened to my music for four hours at a time since the Age of Assimilation. I needed it. Immersion into sound helps me sort out my emotions. It is assimilation that calms me into knowing myself, not acquisition. You can never hear it all, especially when you're clicking through to the next song before you've ended the one currently playing. Radio is reconnecting me to what's been within reach all along, and I am grateful.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Reconciling Invalidation...

I don't yet know how to accomplish this, is the short version.

The long version is that I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to put myself out there. I have this blog, I have my zine, I have the radio station, I have the YouTube channel...but I still have the same nagging feeling I've had my entire life. That no one gets me. That no one cares. I'm currently broadcasting my second radio show and I'm literally the only person listening. I put a lot of work into my playlist. I've spent lots of time promoting my radio show. But it's very likely that after three months of weekly broadcasts, I'll have to face the fact that no one cares, as per usual.

Yes, I realize this is an angst-y and self-involved way to look at things. It's unreasonable for me to expect my friends and family to spend four hours of their Friday evenings listening to me play music I like. It is. It's ridiculous. Every issue of Chickweed includes a mix. I usually make 50 copies of that mix. I think mayyyyybe 5 people listen to that mix, and that's a thing you can listen to anytime. So why would anyone listen to me DJing from my iTunes?

But I am trying. I'm trying to put my thoughts out there in the world, via blog, via zine, via radio, via video. Maybe what I have to say isn't interesting. Maybe I'm not self-actualized enough yet to be interesting. Maybe I never will be interesting. And why does it even matter, anyway? Do I need to be relevant? I've always told myself I don't care if there's a meaning to life, and I don't. But meaning interpreted by me has some validity TO me, if that makes sense. I'd like to feel that my efforts to express myself are heard. But I also think that's selfish of me. I have a small handful of friends that seem to consistently enjoy my work.

But what is that (this) work? It's self-indulgent whining a large portion of the time. Maybe I shouldn't be reinforced for that. I'm starting to wonder if that's all I'm made of, is the worry, I suppose.

My ability to relate to others is tenuous at best. I feel like my reserve of empathy is endless, but my projection of self is almost never in tune with those I'm trying to project myself upon. There are kindred spirits I've met in my path, but they are few and way too far between. But this is my fault. I don't reach out to people in the real way of having conversations and hanging out with others. I project in zines and on blogs and via radio. And I hope that someone wants to talk back.

My brain is so full, but I say so little. I'd love to be heard, but perhaps I don't have the stamina to speak as much as is required for that.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I came up with a plan...

but have yet to implement it. Looking over my idea journal I carry with me everywhere, I find that this is all too often how I (don't) do things.

Anyway, the plan is this: once a week, probably Sunday, I will observe "Analog Day". Analog day will be a day of less smartphones, tablets, and internet. Specifically, the way I will define analog is by living that 24-hour period as if it is 2001. In 2001 I had the internet, but only on computers. In 2001 I had a cell phone, but could only make calls and text? I think I had texting capabilities, though people weren't really doing it a lot yet. With my limited verbal skills, texts would still have to exist on Analog Day. However, I don't want to use the fact that I'm "allowed" to text as an excuse to be preoccupied with texting all day...sooooo generally this day will be a day that I go out and enjoy the world outside, leaving my phone at home.

In 2001 I often left my phone at home. In 2014 I'm worried I have it at my side too often. I check it for mundane bits of information too frequently.

Our digital surroundings can easily become a crutch when you use them instead of doing more creative things. Creativity is usually more analog than digital. Writing in a blog could have been done in 2001, for example, while checking Facebook could not. Reading a book in a waiting room could have been done in 2001, while playing Bejeweled on your phone could not...not the Nokia I had, anyway.

2014 is the year that I have read the least in my entire adult life, I think. It could be an incorrect assumption, but I fear this is mostly due to a shortened attention span caused by a click-fast culture of checking statuses of things (weather, texts, emails, facebook, etc). Too much of my time spent online is re-upping information that doesn't mean anything. Have I checked Instagram today? What about Tumblr? While some sites genuinely engage me (Tumblr, Forever Young Adult, Jezebel), most provide bland scrolling and mindless entertainment (Facebook, Instagram). Where are these distractions pulling my life? I think the answer is sideways or down or nowhere at all. I feel that books and blogs and radio stations and going outside take me much further into a future of attention, intelligence, and meaning.

However, I don't at all condemn our new shiny objects of distraction. I love the world at my fingertips, but I would like to learn that I don't have to access that world every time I use my fingertips. It took me awhile to learn that having a cell phone, even if I have it on me at all times, didn't mean I had to be accessible to everyone all the time. Now, only 4 years after purchasing my first smartphone, I've found it is my time to learn that although the world's information is almost always available to me, it doesn't mean I need to access  it all the time. 

This brings me to my mild disdain (ok, maybe it's more like a medium simmering disdain) for Facebook. On the one hand, I am completely all for everyone being in the same space online and being able to organize my entire social life from one location. On the hand that I'm more often holding, I recognize that posting statuses on Facebook has become a placeholder for real interactions with others. When I talk to friends and family, I would like to know how they're feeling about their lives. Often when I have "catch-up" conversations, they are punctuated by, "Didn't you see my Facebook status?" or even conversations continuing from online "conversations" that were simply a friend or family member posting a status. For example, someone in my immediate family is currently in the process of moving. It didn't occur to anyone in my family to tell me about this event, because it was on Facebook. I think the next step in socialization now that so much of it has migrated online, is simply to remember that not everyone sees everything you post on Facebook.

I'd like to clarify that I don't mean conversations you've had with me online can't migrate to in person. They absolutely can and SHOULD. I love conversation through any medium and across all platforms. What I mean is when a person assumes an online status update is like a telepathic transmission to all "Facebook friends". It isn't. Maybe I don't use Facebook the way regular people use Facebook...which makes sense because I don't socialize the way others socialize. Namely, I cannot withstand the stimulation of knowing what everyone is doing at all times. To keep up with a couple hundred friends on a website would take all my energy from me, so be kind and don't assume we all know what you're doing because you posted pictures of your son's wedding in Albuquerque. Chances are, I didn't see those pictures.

I realize this is all a new venue of etiquette we as a society don't yet know how to navigate. I dislike being interrupted with "Yeah, I saw that on Facebook" when I'm talking about what's going on with me as much as I dislike others answering "How are you?" with..."You didn't see my Facebook?" Much of what I mean when I ask someone how they are is how are you right NOW? How do you feel today? What are you excited about? How are you coping with your life at this moment in time in front of me right now? What are you into, man?

Odd for me of all people to be requesting a more traditional style of socialization. Me of the only-text-never-answer-phone-calls fame. Me of the "I prefer to socialize online" battle cry.

I think I just figured out what I dislike about it! Back in the '90s, online communication was one-on-one or chat rooms of a few people in real time or via direct communication like email. Now it's more indirect megaphone-style life updates. What I really want is to actually talk/type to people I like.

Anyway, Analog Day. I'm doing it...starting next Sunday.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

writing when you have no thoughts

My firework-addled sleep-deprived brain (neighbors have been partying and blowing shit up until 3am since Wednesday and I haven't gotten much sleep) isn't having many thoughts today. All I know is that I want to be in a sensory deprivation chamber until I recover, but there's nowhere to escape the madness. I could go somewhere other than my home, but I pretty much only feel comfortable in my own I sit and I wait to jump out of my skin again as explosives detonate outside my window.

I can only imagine how awful this time of year must be for veterans.

I don't know how much of my jumpiness is related to my autism and how much is PTSD, but the first week in July has been extremely difficult for me since 2011. I think a big part of it is that I now live in a densely populated part of town whereas before the tornado I lived on half an acre with neighbors that were either members of my family or not interested in fireworks. This week has convinced me that I would really like to get back to the south side of town. I need a bit more space in general, but especially during a holiday which has become almost ironic, considering Americans have increasingly less freedom alongside our dwindling bank accounts.

My own anxiety is mirrored in my dogs. They've been following me closely around the house, hiding under desks, and refusing to go outside. I can't blame them.

This holiday is evil. It's loud and it's intrusive and it's bad for the environment, pets, veterans, and human beings. I can't understand it at all and I really hope I remember next year how bad this is so that I can take a week off work and take my dogs somewhere that fireworks within city limits are illegal.

I'm slated to attend a party tonight, but I'm not sure I'll be able to stay very long. I'm so sensitive at the moment that any noise sounds deafening. This means I will be more likely to get trashed in order to cope with my sensory issues. I am just not at all cheerful or capable of normalcy today.

I am thankful that I had a solid week of being very productive. With the productivity comes the inevitable fallout. Perhaps I'll put on some noise isolating headphones and read all day...maybe I'll put on mascara and brush my hair before the party.

It's probably too much to hope that the neighbors are done blowing up my sanity. It will probably be a long weekend, but at least we're not actually under the siege that my nerves feel we are.

Friday, July 4, 2014

first radio broadcast

was a total success. All my labor fruits (still with the birthing puns?) were completely worth it. A bunch of this won't make sense to a lot of my besties, but I wish to get it all out there. 

What I had to learn and endure to start this radio station was years in the making, complicated, and time-consuming. I am actually really proud of myself for sticking with the process and learning the code, the tools, and the chutzpah to get through it all and bring my mixes to the masses.

Watching television wasn't really a thing we did in my family growing up. I spent most of my childhood outside with my radio boombox.

When I was a wee child I used to tape songs from the radio on my little boombox. I later graduated to owning CDs and cassettes of my own, dubbing THEM on my little boombox. Sometime in 2001ish, my mom got a cd burner and I began making a few mix CDs alongside the mountain of cassettes that kept me company throughout the '90s. I also received a minidisc player in the early 2000s and made some minidisc mixes, though that contraption never took off. 

My early '20s saw a sadness that was reflected in a draught of mixes, but in 2009 I got an iPod and started making a lot of playlists in iTunes. Sometime that year I attempted to pull off a radio station. I did a bunch of research and started a live365 station. My first broadcast stumbled so severely that I cut it off before the end of "Tits on the Radio", my first broadcasted song. I think I didn't have enough bandwidth and didn't realize I needed to outsource the server in order to have even one listener at a time. I gave up easily.

The idea of a radio station has needled at me my entire life. In high school, I shadowed a local DJ for the day. I wasn't outgoing enough to use the opportunity to create contacts and get my foot in the door, though they were very nice to me, let me pick a lot of the music, put me on air. They liked my voice and even recorded a few promos/commercials with me.

I couldn't shake the idea of running my own station, so last week I finally jumped back into research. I found out that what I needed was a server, a streaming platform, and a source. By outsourcing your server, you can have simultaneous listeners. I signed up for live365 again, but their limitations are just too stifling. At their $15/mo plan you can upload 350MB (about 80 songs) of songs to their storage "locker" for offline playlists, but there were many rules about which songs can be played within which time periods, etc. It took hours to upload the first batch of songs that became quite repetitive after 24 hours. I had originally planned to upload a new set of songs once a week, but the process was so tedious. Further tedious was the fact that my $15/mo only bought me 10 simultaneous listeners to a live show. The service had an app, but it was laden with annoying audio ads. Though I launched this station, I abandoned it a second time in 5 years just a few days later.

After many more hours of research I discovered a radio server that was free and could stream live to 200 simultaneous listeners. At the free level, it's only available on flash-based browsers with a very '90s look, but it works like a dream alongside a computer program called "nicecast" (which is a whole other story about figuring out how to configure it) which is serving as my streaming conduit between the server and the source (iTunes, microphone, record player, wherever the music is coming from). THEN I found out Nicecast only streams an hour at a time at their free level, after which I'd have to pay a $60 licensing fee. I'd have had to use this program with live365 as well so not only would I be paying $15/mo for a limited and clunky radio experience, but then I'd have to shell out an additional $60 as well. Radio is essssspensive, yo.

I elected to use the free server and pay the $60 licensing fee. Then I decided I really HAVE to be able to stream in a non-flash way. I have to be available on apps, so today I paid for a "pro" account on My Radio Stream which was only $17 for 3 months. 

Then I started the research process on how to get your station listed on a website that hosts directories. I chose a service called Tune In, and have filled out forms to list my station with them. I have to wait 48 hours for them to judge me worthy, which I really hope they do, and then Mixtress Radio will be on apps (Tune In Radio is the app, which will hopefully have me in their directory by Sunday or Monday, if all goes as planned).

Today, I've been "on the air" since 4pm and it is now after 8. I've loved every minute of it. I am so happy. During the course of the broadcast, I only had about 4 listeners total, but I'm not even upset. I know my listeners will grow and even if they don't...I'll scream into the void unheard for a long time before the excitement wears off and I wonder why no one likes me.

When I started the YouTube channel I told myself I'd make 10 videos and if I didn't have 25 subscribers by that time, I'd quit. My plan for the radio station is thus: if I regularly average 5 listeners per show (Fridays from 4p-8p CST) I will continue broadcasting after my three months of "pro" broadcasting status is up.

For now, I am over the moon. So excited to share all my cheesy playlists live with the world. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

life updates...

Let's get this shit out the way.

I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo again in July because the only way I write anything is if I have some sort of deadline/goal. My goal is this: write in this blog every day in July and eventually reach a word count of 35,000 by month's end.

I haven't really been writing. What I've written in this blog is all I've written since the last Camp NaNoWriMo in April. That's pretty bleak. I think I've forgotten how to write. The starting is important. When it comes to creativity, quantity has always meant more to me than quality....because quality is the child of quantity. Let's see if we can birth some nuggets of writerly epiphany this July.

First, the labor pains. How far can I take this horrible metaphor?

I've been frenetically productive the last five days or so. I now have multiple internet endeavors to promote. The YouTube channel has almost 50 subscribers now and I am putting out videos pretty consistently every Friday. They are pretty terrible and suck up a lot of my paltry internet connectivity, but I enjoy making them and feel that I am getting something out of them. I have this need to pontificate constantly, and a format wherein I have to speak out loud (something I am not good at) is teaching me how to, well, speak out loud. Perhaps one day I might even graduate into "articulate".

Friday I started a radio station. For many reasons, this particular radio station is not going to work out. Then I started another one. The second one is free, but it will only be able to play music when the station itself is live, so here is the link but don't bother clicking it unless I've posted spontaneously on facebook that I am broadcasting or it's Friday between the hours of 4pm and 8pm CST--the only time in my week that I can for sure do an actual radio show. I have a whole detailed story about my experience with learning how to start a radio station, but I will save that blog for a day when I can organize my thoughts.

I also started Chickweed Issue #10 this weekend and finished it yesterday. It's a mini-zine, taking up only 1/4 of a standard letter sheet instead of my usual 1/2 page zines. It's also being printed on a single sheet of 11" x 17" paper folded into an 8-page zine. It will have (a variation of) my mixtape image I use for everything on the back so that it can be unfolded into a poster print. I copied the zine content today but will have to wait until I can order a print of the mixtape before I'll be able to copy the other side and distribute it. This smaller size cost considerably less to produce than my zines usually do. Perhaps I might even be able to make more per year if I do a few of them in this smaller format. I should be able to tape the zine and slap a stamp on it too, so the mailing costs will also be considerably less. If you'd like a copy, let me know via email or facebook msg (I stress the MSG part because the facebook messages go through the messenger app on my phone and I get them immediately, whereas I probably won't see if you post on my wall or something for DAYS, being that I avoid facebook like the plaaaaaaaague). This issue of Chickweed sadly will not have a mix, because it is so small and I wanted to keep the costs down on this one. Do let me know anytime you want a mix and I'll send you a package of musical goodness.

Another aspect of the radio station that I am planning on implementing this month is an integration between the blog, YouTube channel, and "radio". Because I won't be able to maintain a 24/7 radio station (for finiteness of time, money, and internet capability), I would like to update my YouTube playlists to reflect all the mixes I make/have made (the ones I still have record of, anyway) and post them here several times a week. That way, YOU have the power to skip songs you don't like alongside the benefit of listening via YouTube the added bonus of visual aids alongside the music. I'd really like to make the MIX in Mixtress more of a widespread virus. He he.

Seriously, though, I fucking accomplished a radio station, y'all! A life dream finally realized. I've already done a few giddy broadcasts. I will have to pay a licensing fee of $60 to have a radio show longer than an hour, which I hope to have done by Friday's show. It's all happening and it feels really really good, even though it's just a free thing that anyone can do...I will feel like I have a voice even if no one is listening. I will warn you that the station can only be heard through a flash-capable browser for now. The interface of the website is pretty '90s, too. If I get a few consistent listeners, I will be able to justify upgrading my station for $5/mo in order for it to be accessible via SHOUTcast apps. So please do let me know if you listen to my station and what you think. It will be a clunky start, but all starts are.

That's all the babble I have in me tonight. I'm overjoyed to be putting myself out there more. I'm actually proud to have a YouTube channel, a blog, a zine, and a radio station. If I can manage to create enough of a work ethic to bump up the quality of each of these things, I may actually feel like a worthwhile human on this planet. That's where I am...finding worth through the expression of highly personal and sloppy indulgences. I can only hope that someone will gain something from it somewhere along the path.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I Never Had to Take the Red Pill.

Or, When I Stop Babbling, Maybe I'll Have a Point.

Today I've been struggling with NOT making a purchase. I told myself I wouldn't buy any new electronics in the year 2014 and today I almost bought a Gameboy Advance SP. I was in full on internet-purchase-porn mode. I was following several auctions on ebay, I had gone to Vintage Stock to see if they had the color I wanted (pink...why it gotta be pink?). I did a cost analysis in my journal. I was about to pull the trigger. Fortunately, my phone needed to be charged and was all the way across the room. A break from the purchase-porn lead to the analog journal-writing. Writing was the breath I had to take away from an obsession that is, quite frankly, ridiculous. The device I want (below) fulfills my completest need to have ALL the Mario Kart gameplay capability. I was essentially almost willing to buy an entire device for the capacity to play ONE game (Mario Kart on the Gameboy Advance--a game I recently lost the ability to play when Michael gave me his 3DS and I put my regular DS on ebay). ONE game I only play every few months. Because I have this NEED to be able to play all Mario Kart games.
Even now, I look at the picture of this device and I'm swooning. I want to hold it and push the buttons. 

I made it through the day...the kind of day I normally don't survive without that oh-so-(briefly)satisfying purchase click. My resistance of temptation is deeper than denying myself something I want. Grocery money is more important than electronic devices, and that is a factor, but it's deeper than that too. 

Some years ago I alighted on a theory of placing my time in one of two categories: consumption versus creation. For a time I was vigilant about pushing myself to more moments of creation (writing, art, moving, etc) in my life. I've become quite lax this year. I've spent time away from my blog. I've not been reading. I've not been listening to new music. I've not been writing for "The Current, Etc". I've skipped two weeks of YouTube-posting. 

I've reveled, even luxuriated, in much of the laying about listlessly, but as Tank Girl says, "It's been swell, but the swelling's gone down." 

At the beginning of May, I had some mouth surgery (mucosele removal--look it up, if you've interest). At the time I assumed it would take a couple of days to heal and then that'd be it, but I spent nearly a month in pain, my mouth restricted. I couldn't smile. I couldn't laugh. Eating was difficult. Talking was difficult. A section of my bottom lip is STILL numb, over a month later! The circumstance of not being able to laugh and smile affected my mood significantly. I smile and laugh almost constantly in my life. It's a coping mechanism, but it's also a result of my awe at life.

Today I took a long walk at sunset and listened to a podcast interview with RuPaul. As obsessed as I am with Ru's show, I've never been a huge fan of RuPaul the entity. Glamour queens aren't really my bag. That said, this interview was very thought-provoking (WTF podcast with Marc Maron). Listening to Ru's life experiences and thought processes throughout, I realized that "glamazon" is simply Ru's most recent visual's the one that made her famous, but she's done New Wave, she's done Genderfuck, she's been punk rock...

At some point during her narrative, she spoke about wanting to "find her tribe". She remembers always seeing "the Matrix", society, as the construct that it is. It confused her that the majority of people were seemingly so into the "normal" thing. 

This is something I have always struggled with. I have always questioned everything. I haven't been able to accept at face value what others seem to so naturally fall into. I've not often done what is expected of me, and in some ways this is attributed to simply being wired differently, but most of the time what others see as rebellion is simply me trying to pick apart why a thing is so often done in one carved-out way by so many people. I've mostly embraced my otherness, but a time in my '20s I really caved and tried to conform. Hearing Ru explain this concept as just not buying into "the Matrix" is so what I've been wanting to express for my entire life. 

I don't have time to placate those that never bucked the system. I've been searching for my "tribe" throughout my life as well. Even in "alternative" cultures (goth, punk, piercers, etc) there is a way that you're expected to act. When I was training to be a piercer, I got a lecture from one of my superiors for self-mutilation, a phase that for me was never about self hatred, but testing limits and learning about myself. I was also told that I would have to get tattoos and a certain number of piercings to do the job. At the time I wasn't ready to commit to tattoos and I CERTAINLY wasn't going to get any piercings I didn't want. I was also told that choosing not to pierce someone's genitals wasn't an option. Going in, I expected the body modification culture to accept free-thinking. To be a piercer, I thought that meant I was going to learn to safely pierce people's bodies in exchange for money...but to the community at large, to be a piercer meant that I had to conform to a certain way of life. I found a lot of negativity and got out after performing one piercing (my mom's nose, still pierced today).

As an adult, I experience the audacity of people trying to tell me how to behave just as often as I did as a child. Just last night my aunt started a familiar diatribe with me about walking alone at night. It is presented as if I am taking my fucking life into my hands every time I'm alone in the world without a MAN to protect me! It infuriates me. The only way we subvert rape culture is by not tolerating it. I'm not going to sacrifice my freedom in exchange for "safety". I drive a car, though I know I could be fatally wounded at any moment. 

I refuse to live my life in fear of men. 

It's not my fault if someone rapes me, but it is my fault if I continually deny myself one of life's pleasures (walking/dancing at night outside) out of fear. 

Another example of "the Matrix"/other people trying to control my body. I asked a local tattooist to put ink on my body a couple of years ago and he refused to do the tattoo because he felt it would look "like fucking shit". That part didn't bother me. What bothered me was his other assertion, that I could not get the tattoo in the orientation (words facing me on my forearm) I wanted, because that isn't how "it's done". You simply MUST get the words facing your hand, not your elbow. The next time he saw me, he grabbed my arm to "make sure" I hadn't gotten the tattoo from someone else; at the time I hadn't, as it was later that night. The fact that he was unwilling to perform the tattoo was his right as an artist and I am grateful that he didn't perform a tattoo he didn't feel comfortable with, but that he thought his opinions on MY choice of art warranted a demand to see that I hadn't "gotten the tattoo anyway" was what pissed me off. I eventually got the tattoo the way I wanted it and I'm very happy with it. It's my body, I'll do what I want with it. Fuck you if you're trying to control how someone else conducts themselves, if they're not hurting anyone.

"The Matrix" is all about control. Control, as long as someone isn't taking away the personal choices of others, should only be self-imposed. 

All this blather is to say that I'm currently in this evolution of becoming the cunt I want to be, nay the cunt I always have been. I was born questioning and I will never stop picking apart the perceptions of myself and those around me. I'm interested in how you (yes, YOU) see the world, as long as you're not regurgitating the way someone else wants you to see it. I'm confrontational about my weirdness. I want to get in your face and make you question why you think the things that everyone has told you to think. I don't have an eloquent way of getting my point across. Sometimes I try to convince a random dude at a bar that I'm a drag queen in order to get him to question gender. I suppose in the end, he did. He questioned MY gender by grabbing my crotch and breasts while demanding to "see your junk". Why is a response to women so often taking ownership of their bodies and choices? I'm fucking done being NICE for a sake of keeping waters still. I've never fit in the box and while it may not seem that I've ever tried, I have. All these years you've seen me attempting to be "normal". Get ready for a new Mixtress. I'm embracing anger for the sake of living. Oh, and I'm still getting that "cunt" tattoo.

But I'm not buying any devices....not on tonaiiiiight.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Difficulties of the Mind.

I find I have so many. I find I self-sabotage what once was (and could be again) a creatively fantastic brain. I could blame it on adulthood. I never truly recovered from that moment when you suddenly realize the Barbie thing isn’t working the way it once did. I could blame it on an ex-boyfriend that destroyed my sketchbook of 5+ years, because in some ways I’ll never get over that 9-year-old injustice. That was an attack on my very being. I could blame it on art school degrading my sense of joy at making mistakes and happy little accidents and going with the flow. I could blame the tornado. That one’s pretty hard to argue...

But I’ve generally been one to take personal responsibility and I hardly ever place blame. Placing blame is lame. I'm learning not to fault myself, but I will take ownership of my creative output, which is sometimes so close to zero that the thought cripples me into further flatlines.

The only creative endeavors I’ve accomplished in the last month or so include making a few YouTube videos, putting on makeup and nail polish a couple of times, and hot gluing some flowers and ivy to three headbands.

In times of creative drought, I tend to fantasize about going back to basics. I feel like buying a Hello Kitty coloring book and coloring my feelings before I work back up to endeavors that might appear more adult-like. Maybe I'll do a paint-by-numbers. Perhaps I'll scribble in a few of my books with permanent markers.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MixtressRae's Top Ten TV Shows of All Time.

You've waited with baited* breath (what does that even MEAN, baited breath? like your breath is the bait or you have bait in your mouth or...?) for almost two whole weeks.

*Turns out, < thank you Richie!! I owe you yet another drink. > that the term is "bated breath" and it means that your breath stinks of anticipation and suspense.

I scored each episode on five different criteria (characters, story, quotability, emotion/laughter, and feminism) on a scale of 1-10. I then scored the series as a whole on similar criteria (characters, story arc, "stickiness", coping, and feminism), also on a scale of 1-10. I averaged both the episode's score and the series' score, then averaged those two scores to get my total. For more on what my criteria mean, go to here.

Here they are, my top ten TV shows of all time: 

Coming in at #10 is Star Trek: The Next Generation
Favorite character: Data
Final Score: 5.8

#9: Gilmore Girls
Favorite Character: Lorelai Gilmore (ha, they're BOTH named Lorelai Gilmore!)
Final Score: 6.1

#8: Firefly
Favorite Character: Wash (above)
Final Score: 6.3

#7: F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Favorite Character: Phoebe Buffay
Final Score: 6.4

#6: Dollhouse
Favorite Character: Topher Brink
Final Score: 6.5

Are you ready for the Top 5?!?! No? I think you can handle it. The following television is the best that television has to offer. I know, because I did a very scientific experiment. ;)

#5: New Girl
Favorite Character: Jessica Day
Final Score: 6.5

#4: Rupaul's Drag Race
Favorite Character: Sharon Needles from season 4
Final Score: 7

#3: The Office (US version)
Favorite Character: Dwight Schrute
Final Score: 7

#2: Parks and Recreation
Favorite Character: Leslie Knope
Final Score: 7.3

yes, I will use this gif of Buffy for any reason whatsoever.
#1: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Favorite Character: Buffy Summers
Final Score: 9.4

The last Four: Final Thoughts.

The Mighty Boosh is like an ice cream sandwich. It is talented at being an ice cream sandwich and tastes delicious, but it’s not a more high-brow dessert like tiramisu. It’s not meant to be. You don't even want it to be, because you're having so much fun eating the ice cream sandwich that it is all that you feel. This is a show that’s meant to make you laugh (and possibly feel like you’re tripping a ‘lil bit?).

There are so many memorable bits in the show. Just in the episode I watched for this project entitled "Charlie", there are at least four joke segments I think of often in my everyday life. I could bore you with the description of said shenanigans, but instead I shall pick my favorite. At the beginning of the episode Vince and Howard are talking at work as they distribute seeds. They work in a zoo. The following exchange occurs:

Vince: Come on Howard, put some energy into it! Get involved!
Howard: I'm carrying a bucket of seed. How am I supposed to get involved in that?
Vince: This is the best job in the zoo! Millet distribution.
Howard: There's something wrong with you. You know that, don't you?
Vince: What do you mean?
Howard: You're always happy, aren't you? Everything's "fun" for you. You see a peanut, the day's off to a good start. You witness some soil, it's a jamboree for Vince Noir. I need something more.
Vince: I think it's this poncho. I mean, it's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho.

The "plotline", in as much as The Mighty Boosh ever employs a plot, follows with Howard attempting to become a writer, Vince annoying him, then getting his children's books about a wad of gum named Charlie published himself.

The episode ends with the following:

The Mighty Boosh is this exact flavor of cute insanity all the time. It, like the ice cream sandwich, makes no sense, but once you've experienced it you won't ever forget it. Most of the jokes are visual. If you enjoy the clip above, more can be found on YouTube if you hunt around a bit. There's no need to watch the episodes in any kind of order.

What I like most about Star Trek: The Next Generation (besides space, one of my top five onscreen settings of all time) is the philosophy. The show regularly questioned everything, turning the ideals we've long held in our society on their heads, picking issues apart and putting back only the most logical, moral, and righteous elements.

“The Measure of a Man” questions the personhood of Data, the show’s android. Is he the property of StarFleet or does he belong to himself? Data may profess to not have feelings, but he has attachments and he has opinions. He’s kind of like an autism surrogate. Data is my favorite character in any Star Trek franchise, because I feel I can relate to him more than any other character. I’m not fiery like B’Elanna (from Voyager, she’s half Klingon). I’m not authoritative like Spock. I’m not as unfailingly good as Picard. I'm not as kind as Deanna Troi (the empathic Betazoid). But I can see myself in Data; mostly sexless (though “fully functional”), logical, uncomprehending-of-sarcasm, cat-having Data.

Though this episode does not pass the Bechdel Test, like the rest of the series, there are women in authority and no sexism present anywhere, so I shall let it slide. Star Trek, the entire franchise (even, for its time, the original series), represents females in a positive and (sadly still) forward-thinking light.

This episode speaks to slavery and personhood in a very succinct manner. It delivers morality in that sophisticated way that Star Trek is known to do. The episode is of course focused on Data, but there’s an Emmy-worthy smackdown by Captain Jean-Luc Picard during Data’s trial at the end that is an absolute show-stopper. I looooooove watching that man lay the smack down!

This show was a pioneer in forward-thinking diversity. I noted several characters of non-white races in just this episode alone, not to mention the entire franchise’s use of “alien” presence to denote diversity acceptance. Most shows today don’t have such a diverse cast and this show aired in the ‘80s. Oh how we have backslid.

It was difficult for me to pick a favorite episode of this series, not because I had so many, but because I don't remember them individually. I've only been through the series once, over the course of a few years with Michael, usually before bed. I've slept through many of these episodes. I like the show a great deal, but putting it on feels like hanging out with the characters to me. I don't feel the pressure to pay attention to all the details. I just enjoy the process of wishing I were among them. 

That said, this episode truly had my attention, both the first time I saw it and last night when I watched it again. It's a great stand-alone episode. Watch it on Netflix if you've interest. If you like it, the series is for you and congratulations. You are now a trekkie.

I find the premise of Dollhouse to be very intriguing. A person signs a five year contract with a company that will back your brain-substance and personality up on a hard drive before wiping it, leaving that previously occupied brain-space to imprint personalities as paying clients see fit. In return, you will be wealthy for life after your five year contract. As a bonus perk, traumatic memories can be left out of your self-imprint before it's put back into your head. It’s essentially slavery and prostitution, but you won’t remember any of it and you’ll be rich and happy when you wake up. That’s a job I might consider signing up for…which I guess makes me a whore. Whatevs.

I think the parallels between prostitution and acting are at the surface of the metaphor. Each episode of this show takes you deeper into the rabbit-hole of this premise. It is so intriguing. This is definitely the most morally-ambiguous and philosophical of the Whedon shows, and I still haven’t sorted out if Joss is an asshole or a pioneer for making it. I’ve only watched the show through twice, and it only survived two seasons, but there was no question that "Echoes" is my favorite episode.

I particularly enjoy episodes of television that take the characters out of their typical personas. It is the foundation of Dollhouse to do this every episode, though watching Eliza Dushku become varying shades of Eliza Dushku isn't quite as enjoyable as the performances of almost every other actor on the show. I love Eliza as Faith on Buffy, but she doesn't have quite the range that this role demanded of her. "Echoes" uses her a bit less while using Topher and Adele a lot more, as accidentally-drugged playmates. They are so much fun together, like stoned teenagers. It is almost as enjoyable as watching Giles become a teenager again in Buffy's "Band Candy". 

Being a Joss Whedon enterprise, there isn't a problem with female representation. Every group of characters has equal numbers of men and women. At this point (2009) in Whedon's career, there's not a problem with racial diversity here either. The show is enjoyable, pretty, and makes you think. Enough said about that, for now.

The episode of Gilmore Girls I watched is "Those Are Strings, Pinocchio". It's the one where Rory graduates from a very prestigious high school as valedictorian and the entire town of Star's Hollow shares in her joy, like they've shared in all the joys of Rory Gilmore throughout her entire existence, 'cause she's got beer-flavored nipples.
Gilmore Girls is a fast-paced witty-dialogue show about the relationship between a young mother (she had Rory at 16) and her daughter. It reminds me of how close my mom and I are, except we are not from money and the entire town of Joplin doesn't adore me like Star's Hollow adores Rory. Like Rory, I read a lot, though I was no valedictorian.

My mother and I watched this show as it was on and then started it over, watching an episode a week almost every week since then. It's so much our thing that we call Thursdays "Gilmore Girl Night". There are great characters in this show, including the cutest Melissa McCarthy as a klutzy chef.
Every female character on this show is an excellent example of a woman that is intelligent and carved her own path ruthlessly and without assistance from men. Also, there's so much family drama in this show that one doesn't need to fulfill their own family dramatic moments. It's like if reality TV were a scripted feminist whirlwind. There's a lot of walking-while-talking scenes in this show. I love those.

I think you've waited long enough. My Top Ten TV Shows of All Time will appear on this very blog...sometime before midnight, 'cause they HAVE to be done by then.