Pixelated Dicks – Who Are You Trying to Protect

Sometimes, a gal has a bit of a wardrobe malfunction and her tit slips out of her shirt. The media, or certain sectors of the media, being full of mature, sexually liberated people, can’t stop giggling, seeing that that is what mature, sexually liberated people do when they see an unexpected tit or two. They can’t wait to share this giggly goodness with all the world, so they print the picture accompanied by mature, non-judgmental headlines like, “Hey, Everyone! Look, Tits!” Below this calm measured headline is a pixelated photo. Now, one can presume that the performer whose top accidentally slipped did not intend for her tits to be displayed on every celebrity website and it’s only reasonable that a responsible, mature gossip rag would pixelate the photos. After all, that celebrity could probably get cold hard cash for intentionally displaying her breasts and, one day, when a movie flops or a song doesn’t sell, will certainly avail herself of that bill bridging bonanza. Of course, the rarity of seeing the aforementioned tits will directly affect the size of that bonanza, and it is only reasonable that the kind gossips at the gossip rag would want to preserve those assets by a bit of protective pixelation.

Today, however, I saw something truly strange. A fashion designer I’ve never heard of before, Rick Owens is making headlines with some innovative and new clothing styles. Good for Rick! Being a responsible blogger, I’ve been buffing up my knowledge of Rick Owens. I will assume (…and please do not feel slighted by this – I assure you it’s not personal) that you too are new to Rick. How should I describe his clothes? Well, should I fall madly in love with a stylish vampire I expect he will have a lot of Rick Owens in his closet. Lots of loose black clothes, occasionally livened up with a punchy gray piece. Lots of skirts for men and tunics. The tunics are why Rick Owens has now grabbed everyone’s attention. He has designed a line of penis revealing, indeed, penis highlighting, tunics for men.

Ugly men with gorgeous penises – this is your moment! Really, my ex-husband is, or so all my friends delighted in telling me, one of the less attractive men I’ve known. Whenever a friend used to tell me how ugly my husband was (’cause that stuff about women being catty is just so made-up) I used to think to myself, and occasionally tell them, that they hadn’t seen his best feature. Really, he had a gorgeous cock. The rest of him, well, he kind of looked like Rick Owens, actually. But he had a gorgeous cock. I presume he will be running out to by a new Rick Owens tunic, or maybe five. I think women know how happy we get when a new trend actually flatters our figures. In my case, when a see that the new clothes are all a-line, just above the knee dresses in beige, I get so disappointed and can’t wait until day-glo assless chaps come back into style, because my knees are not my best feature.

All fine and good, except it’s difficult for me to properly assess the aesthetic virtues of Rick Owens’ new line because websites have seen fit to pixelate the penises. It is really quite distracting. This brings me to ask the question, “Why are the penises pixelated.” The models knew their penises would be exposed, and one would assume that they were comfortable with their penises being viewed all over the world. So, it is not consideration of the modesty of the men. These are not pornographic, or even especially sexy, photos. What is the point of the pixelation? Are their penises in the witness protection program? When the FBI got them some plastic surgery they didn’t think to bother with the cock? Is there a mobster out there somewhere checking out catwalks waiting to spot someone who looks familiar? Exactly what does anyone think will happen if we see flaccid penises swinging down the runway?

Happily, the Guardian has seen fit to publish unpixelated photos. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that the fringe on the side works for me.

(Note to the Guardian: That’s not “full” frontal.)

Went to See Selma Last Night

A few weeks ago, shortly after the movie came out, I tried to go see the movie Selma, but failed to do so because the tickets were sold out. Meanwhile, I forgot about it. Then, with the announcement of the Oscar nominees, suddenly it was all over the news. Although it was nominated for best picture, many people felt that it should have been nominated in more categories, specifically for actor, director and original screen play. On top of that, there was a secondary controversy brewing regarding the depiction of LBJ, for my foreign readers that would be Lyndon Baines Johnson, the president at the time.

If I were a professional reviewer, I’d probably want to see movies cold as the best way of evaluating them, write down some initial impressions and then, perhaps, do any background reading or research. However, I am not a professional reviewer and I went to the movies wanting Selma to be a great picture. After a week of being told online that I was racist or Islamophobic for thinking that shooting cartoonists and (let’s not forget) grocery store shoppers fell into the “bad thing” category rather than the “perfectly understandable,” I was kind of hoping to redeem myself by being able to whole heartedly scream about how the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was racist.

Well, let’s get the LBJ stuff out of the way since my opinion on that will keep me getting invited to cocktail parties. The criticisms are overwrought. Like a lot of historical movies, and even some fictional ones, the audience has to be informed of the background. The LBJ character winds up representing well-intentioned whites in the establishment. In order to inform the audience of the historical factors involved, he and Martin Luther King, Jr. have conversations in the movie that included very basic information that it is unlikely the two men would have to have said to each other in real life about a political movement that had been going on for years, one could say decades, at that point. It is for our benefit that these conversations are taking place. The movie was accurate enough that they did not forget to include Lee White, an adviser to both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. In his obituary a year ago, Todd S. Purdham wrote:

He was a quiet man with a thankless job, and he never became a household name or famous Washington face. But Lee C. White, who died at 90 this past October, played a crucial and effective behind-the-scenes role as White House civil rights adviser for both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, at the height of the movement to make America live up to its founding creed. (source: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/lee-white-obituary-101421.html#ixzz3PYM2Udm9)

I don’t think very many people will be turning to a movie when considering the insider political workings that had to happen in order to get the Voting Rights Act passed. In terms of leaving people with an accurate or inaccurate view of history, Selma does a far better job than another of this year’s nominees, The Imitation Game, which was just a travesty of historical inaccuracy. I don’t feel that people who are not already well-informed about the events surrounding the march from Selma, Alabama to the state’s capital, Montgomery, to bring attention to the widespread disenfranchisement of black voters will be in any significant way deceived by this movie. It was far more impressive in its accuracy than many other recent historical films.

Which brings me to the writing award. In terms of the amount of research that must have gone into it, the huge cast of characters whose portrayal had to do justice to the real people on whom they were based, the script is damned impressive. In fact, the more I think about it, the more impressive that task seems. At the same time, the script felt workmanlike to me. The conversations needed to establish background could have been done a little more skillfully. There were too many scenes that were of people making speeches. It was certainly well written and, considering the demands for historical accuracy and the degree to which many of the important figures of the time are acknowledged, it was clearly no easy piece of writing.   How do you weigh that against an inventive and fictional piece of writing like Birdman? That is a judgement call. I certainly prefer the accurate, if occasionally stilted, writing of Selma to the socially damaging fictions of The Imitation Game. The writer has, at least, been respectful of the audience and done us a service, rather than serve us up a fist pumping concoction that derives its effects from lies. I will try to see a few of the other nominees before the Oscars, and Boyhood is high on my list of ones to view, but looking at the list it seems to me that the nominees for original screenplay favor the inventive. At some level, it strikes me as a matter of taste. I don’t think the screenplay for Selma was so brilliant that we need to put down the fact that it was bypassed for a nomination to racism alone. If it had been an adapted screenplay where there are fewer inventive movies and three of the nominees are based on true stories, the comparison would be easier. (If The Imitation Game wins for best adapted screenplay I’m going to gnash my teeth and start a twitter hashtag, #OscarSoBullshit.)

For instance, the movie portrays two members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee who have been working in Selma on voter registration. One member, James Forman turns to the other and tells him that SNCC wouldn’t support the march and if the other went he’d have to go, not as a representative of SNCC but as “John Lewis.” At that moment, the audience knows that they will see John Lewis, who suffered a fractured skull during that march, badly beaten by the police. Lewis has gone on to become a prominent congressman. James Forman would also continue to work in Civil Rights, but would advocate more radical tactics.

In 1961, Forman joined and became the executive secretary of the then newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. From 1961 to 1965 Forman, a decade older and more experienced than most of the other members of SNCC, became responsible for providing organizational support to the young, loosely affiliated activists by paying bills, radically expanding the institutional staff and planning the logistics for programs. Under the leadership of Forman and others, SNCC became an important political player at the height of the civil rights movement.

In 1964, Forman, expressing his frustration with the gradualist approach of some Civil Rights leaders, made one of his best known quips: “If we can’t sit at the table [of democracy], let’s knock the fucking legs off!”

The scenes in which the two SNCC members, John Lewis and James Forman, have discussions with Dr. King and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference carry the burden of having to show the dynamics that existed within the Civil Rights movement and disagreements about tactics. These scenes at times feel more like docudrama than drama.

Which brings me to the thing that I think saves the movie. Almost all the actors turn in strong, solid performances. Even the smaller roles are well acted, as in the horrifying scene in which Jimmie Lee Jackson and his mother and grandfather take shelter in a cafe. They had been at a protest march where the state troopers started beating the marchers. The state troopers burst into the cafe. The police begin to beat the grandfather, Cager Lee. When Viola Lee Jackson tries to defend her elderly father, they being to beat her. Her son then tries to protect her. He is thrown up against a wall and is shot.

Jackson’s death led James Bevel, SCLC Director of Direct Action and the director of SCLC’s Selma Voting Rights Movement, to initiate and organize the first Selma to Montgomery march to publicize the effort to gain registration and voting.

If Jimmy Lee Jackson appears to be a small role in the movie, the real life Jackson did not play such a minor role in historical events. He had been trying for four years to register to vote, and when the SCLC began organizing people in Selma he began attending regular meetings held in Zionist Baptist Church. (In the movie, Jimmie Lee Jackson appears to die in the cafe. I real life, he fled the cafe after being shot, was beaten more by the police, collapsed and died several days later in the hospital. This is the sort of simplification of events I take as almost a matter of course in a movie.)

When a movie features collectively solid acting rather than one or two outstanding performances, I’m inclined to credit the director, which brings us to another nomination that was not received.  Unlike, the screenplay category, I am less ambivalent about the fact that the director, Ava DuVernay, did not get nominated. Despite a story with inherent drama, the movie feels sluggish. The scenes between Coretta Scott King and her husband are especially boring. Showing marital tension because of Dr. King’s infidelities is supposed to humanize him and show his flaws. Instead, it just weighs down the movie. At one point, she asks him if he loved any of the other women. In the yawning length of time it takes him to answer she could have had a divorce lawyer on the phone. In the end, I just don’t find it as shocking a some people do that she didn’t get a nomination.

As far as the acting nominations go, I’ve only seen two of the nominated performances. I happened to love Birdman and would not be in the least bit disappointed if Michael Keaton wins. Regarding the nominations, however, I do think David Oyelowo turned in a better performance than Benedict Cumberbatch’s godawful emotionally vacant genius schtick.

One nomination that it would have made sense for Selma to receive was for costume design. That strikes me as an inexplicable oversight, especially in light of the fact that Inherent Vice got a nomination. I can barely remember the characters even wearing clothes.

In the end, I felt that Selma was a good, but not great movie. It certainly could have gotten a couple of more nominations than it did, but the fact that those nominations went to other films is not shocking to me, nor am I convinced that it is solely due to racism. I will be surprised if it wins best picture.

Remember When New York Was Fun

Although it felt as if I had been talking about leaving my husband for a year, it was sudden when it actually happened. I felt as if I was drowning or suffocating, so when the words finally came out that he would not compromise and I could no longer bear it, when the fact that we had reached a complete impasse was finally acknowledged, I packed my bags and was complete moved out of the apartment within a week or two.

The next semester of graduate school wouldn’t commence until January. In the meantime, I had found a small apartment above a garage in the suburbs of New York, in a commuter town with easy access to the city. I spent most of my days painting. My shrink had given me Ritalin. He seemed to be convinced that I had ADD no matter how many times I told him I had no problem concentrating. In fact, quite the opposite. Even as a young child I could sit still and do the same thing for hours, especially if that thing was reading. My mother was always scolding me for reading, telling me that I’d grow up to be socially maladapted, and telling my sister to take me out and make me play, goddammit. Still, my shrink was trying to figure out why someone would be intelligent, physically healthy, and even attractive and be such a failure as I was. He never said so in so many words, but I suspect this sounded to him like other patients he’d had. He recommended a book about adults with ADD, which I dutifully read, becoming convinced with each page that I did not have ADD. Still, I took the medicine. I would be going back to graduate school and I was desperate to finally make something of myself. I had even ended my marriage in large part because my ex-husband was not supportive of my professional goals.

With a few months to spare, I was spending most of my days painting. I would take the Ritalin in the morning and plant myself in front of the easel and not move until the sun had sunk low enough that I could no longer see well enough to paint. The apartment was one room and held virtually nothing other than a bed and my easel.

Meanwhile, Nerdette had graduated from her doctoral program just in time for the job market for physicists to collapse. For the past couple of years she had been working in a dress shop in suburban Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. She had applied for a position in her field in New York City. “Do you think I could live in New York on thirty thousand a year?” she asked.

“What do you mean by ‘live?'” I answered.

I’d only been back for a week and we met in the city. It was the first time in a long time that I’d been back in New York. It was pleasant night in late summer and we headed to the Village. When I was in high school and we used to take the bus into the city, at Bleeker and MacDougal, there were four Caffes, one on each corner. Over the years, one after another closed. Further up the street, on MacDougal, there was Caffe Reggio. We headed over there to relax for a few hours between Nerdette’s interview and when it would be late enough to go out to a bar or nightclub. It had been a number of years since I’d gone out at night in New York and I was at a loss as to where to go.

Nerdette sat with her back to the sidewalk and I sat facing the other direction enjoying watching the passersby. A tall, light-skinned black man walked by. He first caught my eye because he was remarkably tall. I continued to look because he was so damned familiar. No sign of recognition crossed his face although he had glanced in my direction, and I thought maybe I was mistaken. Suddenly, when he was nearly passed, he came to a dead halt and swung is head around. The corners of his mouth rose into a giant, Cheshire cat grin. He strolled over with that confident gait he had always had pulled up a chair.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world….”

“Treetop! My, how you’ve grown up!” He was just a cute little club kid with purple nail polish and smeared black eyeliner when we first met years ago in a coffee shop in that hour after the bars close.

“Of all the women I knew back then, you were the one I wanted to see again. I always got the feeling that you really liked me, not just the way I looked.” We exchanged phone numbers and promised to get together.

I asked him where we should go that night. He had worked as a bouncer and a go-go dancer. If there was anyone who knew what bars and clubs to hit, it would be Treetop. He looked up at the twilight sky and sighed. “Damn, this city has gotten so expensive. It’s driven out a lot of the more interesting places. Money chokes everything. Young people, to live here they work twenty-four hours a day. It’s not the same.” There was a long pause. “Remember when New York used to be fun?”

Will I Continue Blogging?

This morning, when I first opened my eyes, I found that I had a heaviness in my chest. I started crying. Not a hard sobbing. Just lying there vaguely aware of tears welling up in my eyes. It’s not secret that I’m under treatment for depression, but this didn’t feel like the depression I’ve been experiencing for the past several years.

I’m pretty sure I’m not racist. I say “pretty sure” rather than “absolutely not” because I’m aware enough to know I’ve grown up in a racist society and we don’t ever entirely transcend our own time and place. However, I do believe that there are no significant biological differences among people of different races. In fact, I believe that the concept of race has no grounding in biology. Therefore, differences in social status and behavior are entirely a product of the environment.

Am I xenophobic? That’s almost laughable since I run the risk of being called a xenophile.

Am I culturally biased? That’s a far more complicated question. To start, I would have to have a firm idea of what constitutes a good society. I am tempted to answer that that would be the society that allows for the greatest degree of human flourishing and the least suffering. However, flourishing is an unsatisfactorily vague term. I don’t think there is any culture that is perfect, which has all the answers. In so far as any culture that is in existence today could be said to be a successful culture, no culture is without any value. That said, I am not a cultural relativist. I terms of particulars, I think some ways of organizing human society are better than others.

I think that there are no gods, spirits, or other immaterial beings, great or small. Therefore, the least human suffering based on the supposed desires of non-existent beings can be said to be an unqualified ill.

Last week, I was very quick to put up a post that said, “Je suis Charlie.” It would turn out that I was on the wrong side of the overall consensus. I had read, or more accurately seen, Charlie Hebdo a handful of times in the past. When I put up that statement, I did not mean that I endorsed everything that had ever been printed in that magazine, nor did I think that was what anyone else mean. I recalled that immediately after the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, Le Monde published an editorial that said, “Nous sommes tous américains.” I did not take that to mean that the editors of that paper had endorsed everything the United States had ever done or ever would do, or that they were suddenly enamored of every aspect of American culture. I did not feel at the time that “Je suis Charlie” meant that I personally endorsed every cartoon they had ever published. In my mind, I supported their right to speak their mind without fear of violence.

I have mentioned that I have had nightmares in the wake of the assassinations. The day before, I had drawn a cartoon. It seems so long ago now, but you may remember an incident in which a woman tossed a handbag holding a gun in a shopping cart with her two-year old. The child took out the gun and shot his mother. Her father-in-law objected to the characterization of the woman as irresponsible. He said that she had not simply tossed the gun into any old purse but a purse with a special compartment. I did not know what this meant, so I looked it up. It turns out that these purses are designed for easy access. This made the action of the dead woman seem all the more irresponsible to me. So, I drew this:

concealed carry2Yes, there really are models with crosses on them.

The night of the killings of the cartoonists, I went to sleep. I dreamed I was lying in bed. I heard someone at my door trying to get in. However, the chain was on the door and after several attempts the person went away. Then I went downstairs and exited my apartment building. Standing in front of my building was a stocky middle-aged white man in wearing khaki pants and vest and holding a rifle, like someone ready to go on a safari. Somehow, I understood him to be a gun rights activist. As I walked out of my door, he shot me in the chest. I woke up.

Are there such things as universal human rights and is free speech one of them? I won’t accept the word racist, but am I an imperialist for believing that there are and it is? I don’t know anymore, but this much I do know…

I feel lucky to have been born in one of the wealthiest regions of one of the wealthiest countries during an era of widely shared prosperity. I have gone out dancing till dawn, have had lots of good sex with lots of men, I have had plenty of good things to eat, all in all, I think I was damned lucky about when and where I was born. I would not want to have been born into the world the killers would like to create. Am I wrong to feel this way? Am I culturally biased? Maybe, but I do feel this way. No matter how many times people tell me I’m racist, I still feel this way. Am I racist to be glad to have fucked, to be glad to have danced? Is wanting to dance and fuck and draw and paint and sing a reasonable basis for choosing one culture over another?

It is clear that I have never been on the right politically. Within the past week, however, I’ve found myself at odds with people on the left. I feel extremely alone. Politics is not something that can happen alone.

I just feel weary and lonely.

The best way out of this seems to me to be to stop concerning myself with politics. I’ll keep writing if I find something else to write about.

Internal Intellectual Tumult

I can remember the first time a teacher said, “I don’t know,” in response to a student’s question. It was a wonderful moment. Suddenly, learning and knowledge was a process. Something we arrive at only with effort and which always exists in a state of flux. While certitude is useful in an argument, it has no place in real knowledge.

Right now, I’m still trying to intellectually process the political assassinations and near massacre that occurred in Paris last week. There are so many threads that go into it, attitudes towards immigrants, racism directed at second and third generation French people, economic stagnation, freedom of speech, whether or not satire should be a form of protected speech, hate speech laws, whether religion should be open to criticism, the low social status of cartooning, the Islamist goal of creating a world-wide caliphate, the encouragement by Islamist groups in Muslim majority countries of “lone wolf” attacks in Muslim minority countries, the role of Saudi Arabia in spreading Salafist Islam, the growth of anti-Semitic attacks and I can go on.

It’s been hard to think with all the cacophony. Everyone is yelling and it’s hard to think.

Yet a minute ago, I saw yet another comment warning against “painting all Muslims with the same brush.” I don’t know what corners of the internet other people go to, but I haven’t seen this. I don’t doubt that it happens, but it doesn’t happen in places I frequent.

I don’t believe in collective guilt. Considering people as individuals first and foremost is a core part of liberalism. It should go without saying blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few is against liberal beliefs. At the same time, I can’t help noticing that in all this hand wringing about the possible backlash against Muslims, no one seems to be talking about the Jews. Where is all your hand wringing for the increasing anti-Semitic attacks against European Jews?

Saying that we can’t talk about Islamic terrorism because it might create a backlash against Muslims is like saying we can’t talk about the current conservative, hawkish government in Israel and its policies towards settlement, the blockade of Gaza and the treatment of non-Jewish citizens because it might create a backlash against Jews. Of course we talk about it. If someone blames all Jews for the actions of the current Israeli government, they are in the wrong because collective guilt is wrong. We don’t stop the conversation, nor should we.

There’s something happening and we don’t know what it is. We’re not going to figure out what it is and how to respond to it by remaining silent. We don’t start every conversation about Israel by saying, “I hope no one blames all Jews.” We don’t start every conversation about racism by saying, “I hope no one blames all whites.” Despite what some people might like, we don’t start every conversation about sexism by saying, “I hope no one blames all men.” So, I am not going to start every conversation about people who kill in the name of Islam by saying, “I hope no one blames all Muslims.”

A Classic Fojap Fuck-up

There are those fuck-ups we do that anyone can do, like locking yourself out of the house. Then there are those fuck-ups that are revealing about our characters. Over the weekend, I fucked-up in a way which, while not entirely unique to me, was certainly something I was far more likely to do.

I’ve mentioned on my blog that both my parents were teachers and that my mother was an English teacher. I don’t think I mentioned that my father was a graphic arts teacher. He began as a printer, then later became a teacher. If our chosen medium is indicative of our personality, let me note that my father preferred watercolor. Me, I’ve always favored oils. I’m never so happy as when I’m in the middle of a great big smelly mess. My mother used to call me a “mad scientist.” It all looks very creative, but frequently the only think I create is a mess.

So, I was reading about the great big march planned for today in Paris and wishing I could go when it struck me that perhaps there would be sister rallies around the world. I mucked about on the internet a bit, and lo and behold I found that there would be one in New York. Late Friday night, I had a brilliant idea. Okay, maybe it wasn’t brilliant, but it was an idea. I thought to myself, “I know how to silk screen t-shirts. I’m going to make up a bunch of t-shirts! Maybe I’ll hand them out at the demonstration!”

Now, saying that I know how to silk screen t-shirts is what a sane person might call an exaggeration. I did it a bunch of times with my father as I kid, but I may not have done it in forty years. Maybe thirty-nine. Who’s counting?

Still, the following morning I took myself and my overblown sense of competence down to the art supply store. You see, not having done this in thirty-nine or forty years means that I didn’t own one item I needed. Has reality ever stopped me! No! Boo, reality!

So I find the aisle with the printing supplies. I see a screen, some ink and squeegees and start filling my basket. Suddenly, it occurs to me that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I ask another shopper buying printing inks. She suggests that I look online. Great, but I need it now! I am currently having a minor break with reality in which I believe that I am the world’s greatest artist and I must take advantage of my delusional state. Finally, I settle on the “starter kit.” Now, I need to go and find blank t-shirts – cheap!

Carrying my bag of art supplies, I head to the garment district. I scan the street for a place that looks like it sells to the public. Seeing a sign that says, “T-Shirts Retail Wholesale,” I burst in.

“I need a dozen t-shirts, blank, extra-large.” In a fit of ambition, I say, “Make that two dozen.”

I get my two dozen t-shirts and leave the store. It didn’t occur to me that two dozen t-shirts might be heavy. I lumber down the stairs to the subway, looking perhaps a little too much like a homeless person. Standing on the platform, I suddenly realize that I was waiting for a train going in the wrong direction. I lumber back up the stairs. I put the bag down for a moment. Boy, two dozen t-shirts are heavy.

Finally, I make it home with my screen printing materials and my t-shirts, still, remarkably, convinced that this is a brilliant idea. Normally, at this point I get tuckered out and start coming back to reality. No! I’m still fired up. But it’s well past lunchtime and I’m also hungry.

I head out to get what I thought would be a quick bite, but it took much longer than I expected. Then I got some coffee filters, coffee, peanuts and was ready to work for the evening.

I was about to set to work, but then I thought it might be a good idea to view some YouTube videos on how to do it first. That was the smartest move I made all day because I suddenly realized, I really didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

I spread the photo sensitive emulsion on the screen. Now this needs to dry in the dark. So, I put some newspaper down on the floor of my bedroom and some overturned glasses on which to prop up the screen. Carrying the wet screen involved tripping over all my dirty laundry in the dark. I banged my toe on a tripod I had lying on the floor from last week’s project. Somehow, I managed to get the screen on top of the upside down glasses and leave the darkened room without breaking anything or injuring myself.

Did I mention that I didn’t start out with my apartment tidy that morning? Nothing shocking, but imagine last Sunday’s paper on the coffee table, on top of the Sunday paper from two weeks ago, the Christmas decorations which may very well stay there until next Christmas. (Hey! It’s not as if Christmas won’t come around again eventually. I’ll be ready.)

So I clear off the table, meaning the Sunday papers are now at my feet on the floor, and I get out some drawing paper, pencils, markers and other implements of destruction. So, the YouTube videos say that you need to paint the design in opaque black ink on clear acetate. By luck, I have some clear acetate sitting in a drawer for some project I did about a decade ago. Now, opaque ink… oh, okay. I know I don’t have the item they’re recommending, but I’m sure somewhere in the big mess of art supplies I have something that will work. The first bottle of ink I open is dried out. Unsurprising – since I probably had it for nearly twenty years. I find a bottle of ink for Rapidograph pens that’s been kicking around for over a decade. Luck was with me; it was still good.

A brush. Now, where did I put my nice sable brushes that I used to use for pen and ink drawings, which obviously I haven’t done in a little bit longer than I thought.

Things are really going swell now. I have all my materials. The Rapidograph ink is flowing nicely onto the acetate and it appears to be nice and opaque. It’s not even midnight.

Next thing, I need to expose the screen using a really, really bright light. Somewhere, among all my photography supplies, I actually have some photographers’ lamps and a 200 watt bulb. Fortune is truly smiling down on me tonight. I clear the table, essentially just tossing all the dirty dishes into the sink. No time for dishes tonight. I’m on a creative high!

Now, I’m missing one item, a piece of glass or plexiglass. What you need to do is lay the acetate with the design painted on it and expose it to the light. Putting a piece of glass on it keeps the acetate close against the screen and makes for a better impression. Well, I lay the acetate down on the screen, turn on the light and keep my fingers crossed.

Next thing, you’re supposed to rinse the screen with water in the sink using… that little hose sprayer thing that most people have next to the faucet… but I don’t. Damn, what was the likelihood that I’d have acetate in my drawer, but now I’m going to get hung up because I don’t have a little sprayer thing. I take the dishes out of the sink and pile them up on top of the stove. I run the water over the screen. It’s not working. I need a little more force.

I go to the bathroom and hold it under the shower. This works really well, but now I’m soaking wet. I leave the screen to dry off and go change my clothes.

One thirty in the morning… things are going great, but I’m getting a little tired.

Realizing that two dozen shirts were really too heavy, I print only a dozen. Then I do a few extras.

The result is not the most professional it could be. Some parts of the design didn’t come out because the acetate wasn’t flat enough against the screen when it was exposed to the light. On a couple of the items I got some ink-stained finger prints. I try to console myself with the thought that I wasn’t trying to make the world’s greatest t-shirt.

pen-and-fist-t-shirt

I wash off the screen and anything else that would dry up overnight and I manage to get in bed by four am.

This morning, I woke up and made myself coffee. I went to the internet to double-check the time and place of the demonstration. It… it… was yesterday.

So, now, I’m sitting here with a dozen t-shirts and a great big mess.

If anyone wants a t-shirt, let me know.

Wow – What a Dick

I wanted to use a different word – but that will get me in trouble with some people and it’s not worth the fight today.

I’ve come across this woman’s blog before, and she has such an annoying air of self-righteousness, I’ve never been able to read more than a few words of any of her posts. However, since she writes about atheism and bisexuality and a few other areas that cross with interests of mine, I’ve landed on her blog enough times, and so I have again. However, now she’s crossed from self-righteousness to downright ignorance, and I’m fucking pissed.

Yeah, I know I’m obsessing. Last night I dreamed I was shot for drawing a cartoon making fun of gun advocates.

Okay, the name of this totally ignorant douchebag is Aoife and she “is located in a small town in Ireland, and she won’t let you forget it.” I’m not even sure what the hell she is trying to say with that. “She won’t let you forget it.” What the fuck does that even mean? Does she like living in Ireland? Does she hate it? What the fuck’s the big deal about living in Ireland? All I can say is that I hope it means that she doesn’t have electricity and can’t read because it’s about the only damned thing that explains her near total ignorance.

Okay, so she wrote:

Here’s a problem with #jesuischarlie: Charlie Hebdo, from what I can gather, was a publication that produced and distributed vile, racist material in the guise of satire. Unlike any satire worth the name, it punched down at already-marginalised minorities in an environment that just encouraged an intensification of preexisting anti-Muslim sentiment.

Well, I guess she is an illiterate living without electricity because, from what I can gather, she’s not capable of gathering very much. This is exactly what I was talking about yesterday when I mentioned that this incident has caused a crisis in my politics. Charlie Hebdo was not, emphatically not, “vile, racist material in the guise of satire.”

According to NPR:

The left-wing magazine is known for its biting takedowns. Its past targets include the political right wing, capitalism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

It was a favorite of a French Socialist boyfriend I had whose family had come to France from Algeria, although he himself would refuse any identity other than French. A few years ago, the satirical weekly took the side of immigrants against politicians on the far right.

She goes on to say:

Muslims in the West are disproportionally targeted for abuse and attacks, as are people perceived to be Muslim- normally due to their names and the colour of their skin. There’s an ugly strain of racism running through so much discourse that puts itself up as “just criticising Islam”, that you can’t ignore. There’s a lack of nuance to how we talk about Islam, as well. People talk about something called the “western world” juxtaposed against the “Islamic world”, as if these are two entirely separate and self-contained things, ignoring the fact that there is and has always been both massive diversity within, and massive mixing between, Islamic and Christian cultures the world over.

It’s all so much lefty fucking twaddle. However, if we return to her bio, we see:

She gets paid to teach, but will default to roller derby and social theory if given half a chance.

Which is exactly what she’s doing now. Rather than actually pausing and learning a couple of new facts she “defaults”, like some damned robot, to “social theory.” It’s ironic that she complains that we can’t talk about Islam with nuance because she typifies the leftist inability to talk about anything with nuance. This is what I was saying in my exchange with Daz in yesterday’s comments. Rather than trying to understand the situation she vomits up some garbage about the oppressed and the oppressors that hasn’t changed since I took a bunch of Women’s Studies and other interdepartmental classes thirty years ago. It’s not that those ideas are entirely wrong, but they become blinders and all new information must be fit into predetermined categories. It is sooooo damned easy to find out that Charlie Hebdo is not usually categorized as racist, I can only assume that Aoife didn’t even bother to think about it before “defaulting” to her predetermined settings.

But the dead were white and the killers are North African, so they must be “punching up.” God, how I fucking hate the “punching up/punching down” meme. As if some actions are okay or not okay depending on your target. Also, it implies that we always know which way is up and which way is down. Maybe you’re punching at a straight white male, but maybe the straight white male just lost his mother, or is mentally ill, or unemployed. Is that up or down? What if you’re unemployed too? Should it even matter? Maybe you just need to pause and think before you run around throwing punches.

Speaking of nuance, it’s also worth noting that many people have said that when the left sides with the reactionaries, it is the progressives within Muslim communities that suffer the most. Is that up or down? The former Muslim that every leftist loves to hate, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, got her start in politics standing up for immigrant women who were abused by their husbands. Is that up or down? So much interesectionality I can’t keep track of it no more.

Aoife continues:

I deeply value my right to speak more or less as I please. I value the privilege of the platform I have to speak on. I am aware that that right and privilege comes with incredible responsibilities to be thoughtful and accurate, as far as I can to help more than I harm, and to be receptive- within reason, since this is the internet after all- to critique.

Is that rich? Have you ever encountered such a humorless, self-righteous twit in your life? “Thoughtful and accurate.” Really, I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read that because only a spit-take is the proper response. She obviously didn’t spend even five minutes checking her facts before pouring out a post full of stale radicalism from yesteryear.

It’s shit like this that just makes me hate the fucking left and the nightmarish totalitarian world they want to create.

You’re not Charlie Hebdo. You bet your sweet bippy you’re not.