Monday, June 24, 2019

Seriousness and Fluff

As expected, I am not publishing much anymore.

It's not even busy at work yet -- that's coming -- and when I get home I don't feel like typing. Part of it is the length of the shift, for sure. Working 8:30 to 7:00 is...a bit much, even if it means three days off each week. I have a shift bid coming up, and I'm going to opt for a standard 8X5 week. My sole imperative is two consecutive days off. It'd be ideal if one of them was a weekend day, but that's highly unlikely in this line of work.

Life is good right now for my polycule, for the most part.

I find myself detaching more and more from the news. I am utterly disgusted at the many false narratives and the strength with which people cling to them, and I am deeply saddened at the state of "debate" these days. Citing your sources isn't enough when your opponents simply sneer and say "you're quoting the CBC, hahaha you libtard".
Every source has a bias, and will emphasize certain sides of a story. For that matter, I have my own biases, well known, and I've been caught catering to them rather than performing a proper fact check. What truly scares me is that even the fact-check sites, such as Snopes.com and Wikipedia, are instantly dismissed as "liberal" and thus "fake".

Most of all, and as always, I am dismayed at the lack of empathy in the world and the extremely frustrating habit so many have of trying to make any given situation all about them. Violence against women? But there's violence against men, too! (Yeah, and I'm more than happy to talk about that. but right now we're discussing this, so stop trying to make this about that.) Straight pride parades? The mind boggles. Any group of straight people walking down a street is a straight pride parade, and you want to take the one parade that doesn't include you and make it too about you? There are no straight pride parades for the same reason there are no soup kitchens for CEOs. What have you overcome, being straight? Have you been disowned because you, a boy, brought a girl home to your parents? Evicted? Fired? Beaten? Killed? SIT DOWN.
White privilege. Yeah, it IS a thing, and just because you are white and your life sucks, doesn't mean your life sucks BECAUSE you are white. Why is this so hard for so many to grasp?

I've always been ticked off at the casual racism of older generations. You don't often hear the n-word in conversation, that's true, but it's not as if we have any cause to be smug. It could be argued that our racism in Canada is at least as bad as that in the United States. The difference is that here it's against indigenous people.
The wilful misunderstanding of the entire First Nations situation makes me sick to my stomach. I would strongly advise anyone who is not too far gone in their vicious stereotyping to go here and read and reflect. I guarantee you will learn at least five things you don't know right now....and if you're open-minded enough to allow your mind to change, you're likely to come away with at least one modified view.
There are also things that aren't really touched on here. The systematic theft of land (and remember, land equals revenue) from First Nations over the centuries amounts to trillions of dollars. You can say all you want that you're not responsible for it. Nobody's saying you are. As with all injustice, what we social justice warriors (how in the hell did that term get to be a pejorative?) are suggesting is that collectively we're all responsible for the perpetuation of underlying social conditions that keep people on the margins.
Oh, and your stereotype of the lazy 'Indian' bum? You'd probably be filled with utter despair living his life. Give it a thought.

This will be a cause I'll be rallying behind going forward, because it is so widely and deeply misunderstood. I have no indigenous family background to my knowledge (the origin of one side of my family is unknown due to adoption, and that and so-called illegitimacy completely discredit amateur genealogy). But I really do respect their many spiritual beliefs, their cultures and traditions, and I respect them as the people they are. Maybe my tiny voice might convince someone else to do the same.

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Fluff, which for me is popular media and books. I am making an effort to disengage from screens with marginal success: I expect come August, when the fit hits the shan at work, I'll be very much old school at home. (Call me, maybe?)

WATCHING: GOOD OMENS. I'm late as usual to the party. I bought the novel in a bookstore in Cleveland, Tennessee that seemed, as I recall, to consist of at least fifty percent Bibles...seemingly hundreds of differing versions of the inalienable Word of God. If they had only known the contents of this thing, they'd as like have burned it instead of stocking it.

It's hysterical.

Picture a novel by the late Douglas Adams concerning Armageddon and you'd  be on the right path. I've rarely laughed out loud so often reading a book. And the series, so far, is at least the book's equal. The casting is sublime, particularly the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and his BFF the demon Crowley (David Tennant, clearly having the time of his life).

In a twist you can't make up, twenty thousand Christians in Britain have signed a petition demanding Netflix cancel the show.

Netflix never aired the show. It's on Amazon Prime. You might call it a miracle,

Frances McDormand plays God (and that's one of their beefs, of course: their God is so small that it can ONLY be male).  Another problem they have is that this show promotes satanism (it doesn't, and in any event, actual Satanism is nothing like the common Christian caricatures of it...there are, in fact, a cabal of Republicans who claim Christianity right now  but who are Satanists in all but name.)

Anyway.

Eva is loving the series too and even Mark likes it....this is the second show in a row (Game of Thrones, natch) that we've all enjoyed.


(Oh, speaking of GoT: I didn't bother with the last four episodes. I concur with the general consensus that Season Eight was a complete and utter failure. Now that the show is dead, I'd prefer to remember it as it was in the good times. The only other comparable in my life was Tad Williams' Otherland tetralogy: I got about halfway through the fourth doorstop of a novel and suddenly realized I don't care how this ends, and in fact I stopped caring a novel and a half ago.)

READING: A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO, Guy Gavriel Kay

Kay is, for my money and he can take it, easily one of the best Canadian writers alive, and certainly the best historical fantasist. Each of his novels centers on a certain place and time in our history,  ported to his world with two moons and just the tiniest soup├žon of magic. I love everything I've read of his, but if I had to pick my favourite work, it would probably be The Sarantine Mosaic. This duology has all of Kay's themes: how "little people" can find themselves in the middle of world-changing events, and how, conversely, what seems of no consequence outside a single life can have huge consequences to that life and all around it. The making of myth. Art as quasi-immortality. All with his usual richly drawn characters, intricate political machinations (the setting is Byzantium by another name)  and a deeply satisfying conclusion.
After a sojourn in an altered Tang Dynasty China (Under Heaven, River of Stars), Kay returned to his version of the Mediterranean, including Sarantium/Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul in Children of Earth and Sky, delighting me. Brightness is set contemporaneously with Children, and it, too, is a delight. If you haven't made Kay's acquaintance, I urge you to do so.

LISTENING: to all kinds of stuff, as always. At work I tend to put on Nikolai Medtner. This late, late Russian Romantic composer (1880-1951) wrote several piano sonatas and concertos with extremely dense textures. He was a master melodist, and I wish he'd gotten around to penning a symphony or two. But those sonatas are endlessly enthralling. My favourite is, and always has been, the Sonata Reminiscenza, here played slightly uptempo and to perfection by Alexander Vaulin. This is the sound of nostalgia. If I could choose my melody for my very own personal music box, it'd be the first eight bars of this. Absolutely gorgeous.

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So that's life, in a nutshell, dear reader. I hope your world is as rich and fulfilling as mine.


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