Monday, August 29, 2016

A much-needed blow against PC ridiculousness. (Thank you!)

Thank you, John Ellison (Dean of Students at the University of Chicago), for this letter to incoming students. I was wondering when someone from Academia would step up and decry the idiotic, trendy concept of "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" on campus.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own." --- John Ellison

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Make America Great Again: Trump in Austin (8/23/16)

Trump rally at Austin's Expo Center Tuesday night:

Press reports (Austin American-Statesman and Texas Tribune) Wednesday said line outside was "one-third of a mile" long and that estimated crowd inside was 5,000. Completely underestimated. The first daylight photo below (which I took) shows about 1/3 of a mile of people; what my photo doesn't show: at the end of the line of people that you can see, the line (which I'd just been in for an hour) stretches to the left for another quarter mile, then to the left again (in a U-shape in its entirety) for another 1/3 of a mile. As for inside the arena: The Expo Center website says that their seating in the stands holds 6,500 and the floor another 3,000. The third photo below (from Trump's Twitter feed) shows the crowd accurately--- the place was jam-packed. The Houston Chronicle estimated the crowd at 8,000. I'd say around 9,000.

I was also anticipating more protesters. Ahead of time, I checked out various anti-Trump meet-up groups on Facebook, where hundreds of people were pledging to show up. While waiting to get in (around 5:30pm), however, I didn't see a single protester. Once inside, 3 single protesters were kicked out. Afterwards, at 10pm in the car heading out, I saw a group of about 7 people with pro-Bernie signs on the street across from the Expo Center.

I mention the crowd estimates because Trump has constantly claimed for the past year that "The Media" has consistently vastly underestimated the sizes of his crowds and refused to actually SHOW the crowds. I didn't know if he was just being paranoid or mouthy... Now that I've been there in person and read the media accounts the next day: I know that he was telling the truth. Reporting a crowd as more than 40% smaller than it actually was isn't just making a simple mathematical mistake --- that's intentionally trying to sway readers into thinking that Trump doesn't have the actual support that he clearly does. Giving equal air-time to a dozen protesters when supporters of the candidate numbered in the thousands --- that's intentionally trying to sway readers into thinking that Trump doesn't have the actual support that he clearly does. Psychology is heavily involved in these campaigns. I'm glad to have been able to see the actual scene for myself.

The crowd was a vast mixture of people. Rednecks and bikers and frat boys, sure. But then plenty of couples (aged 20s to 70s) and gay guys (look up "Twinks for Trump" -- it's a thing) and middle-aged women like me and dads with their teenaged sons. Oh yeah, and blacks and Hispanics and Indians and Asians of all ages.

I went with a friend from work (last picture below; I'm very grateful to her for driving us both out there and dealing with the traffic and parking); she opted to go sit down during the rally, while I stayed down on the floor, as close as I could get, where I was surrounded by a sea of mainly TALL men in their red "Make America Great Again" caps. I was about 30 feet away from the stage, but it was hard to see with all of the big guys around me! At 51, I now wish I'd taken a seat instead --- I was TIRED (and sweaty--see last picture below) at the end of the night from standing for over 4 hours in such close quarters. I love Trump, but by the time he came on to speak, I must confess that I was too weary to feel any sort of thrill.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Not too much Change at the same time!

My current apartment lease was up at the end of August, and Texas law has required for years now that you give your landlord 2 months' notice, rather than the 1 month of yester-year.

In June, I spent some time browsing Craigslist/Austin for available places to rent, hoping for a miraculous garage apartment (no adjoining walls) or a duplex (i.e., only one adjoining wall with a hopefully unobnoxious neighbor). Everything decent was over $1300 per month, and my budget was decidedly below $1200 per month. My current place's rent was $875 when I moved in as a sublet in January 2015; my new lease in August 2015 jacked up the rent to $925; my new lease in August 2016 was now $1000 per month. Still, because I'd sublet the current place, I had no deposit. If I were to move, I'd have to put up a $1200 deposit, plus $800 or so to move all of my now-heavy furniture.

This summer, I had a financial choice: Car or Move. I chose Car. That was enough for the time being. I re-signed my lease for 1 year, at $1000 a month.

Since I moved in to this place a year-and-a-half ago, my annoyances have been: A family of 5 living in one apartment 2 doors down from me, with their shrieking kids running amock; another family downstairs, also with shrieking kids running about in the post-school hours; a motorcycle guy revving up every time he comes home or goes out; the guy below me yelling constantly (he's apparently situated himself right below my "study" --- after months of his loudness, I just gave up on that room altogether and moved my computer up front onto my kitchen table).

A couple of weeks ago, though, a new problem arose: The guys next door had been, for the most part, quiet since I'd moved in, but every now and then they hung out outside on the walk, or in the stairwell that adjoined my apartment, at 3 or 4am. Last week, one of them came home at 3:45am and cranked up his stereo until I left for work at 7 am. I reported it to my apartment manager, who vowed the next day to give them a noise warning, but that very day when I came home from work, they were cranking up their stereo for 2 hours. That was last Wednesday. And they've been quiet in the week since. But the memory of that horror hovers... Did they listen to the warning that the management supposedly issued? When will the music start up again? I haven't been able to relax for the past week, always on edge, always waiting for the bass to kick in...

Odd that you can be paying $1000 for an apartment and STILL have to be living around lowlifes. What amount does it take to get you away from screaming kids, biker dicks, yelling guys, and loudly emoting aging club-kids?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Neutral Milk Hotel - King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3

How profound and scary to be a human.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea- Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

A song of constant goosebumps.

Gilligan's Island - The Honeybees

Like a ding-dong needs a bell.

Bewitched - I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind

Go, Serena!

Bewitched Iffin'


Half Price Books, 2016

I worked at the Hurst-Euless-Bedford (Ft. Worth) Half Price Books for a few months back in 1988, was a shopper in Austin before and after that time. In the '90s, my hair place was at 32nd and Guadalupe and the Half Price right next door. Every 6 weeks or so, I'd enjoy the day-long ritual of getting my hair cut at Zig-Zag and then going next door to browse for hours (usually completing the ritual by getting a Thundercloud sandwich before going home). By the 2000s, though, rent drove that Half Price out of that location, to a much bigger place further north, which I never visited at all because it was so out of the way (and also because of the advent of Amazon).

I now live north, and I now have a CAR (hoorah!), and I today went over to this Half Price for the first time ever. Half Price/Goodwill store/KFC all in the same complex! A full day, with food to take home after!

It was a big, clean store, but... Over a decade ago, Half Price changed its policy of charging half of the COVER price of the year the book was issued. Back then, if there was a book at a 1980 price of $5.00, the Half Price rate would be $2.50. Today, though, even if the book is from 1980 and there's a $5 price printed on the cover, the store will instead determine how much the same book is being sold for today and then mark it as half off TODAY's price. Which leads to many non-bargains. Which today, Amazon thankfully makes us aware of. I saw so many shitty, marked-up paperbacks today at Half Price priced ridiculously at $7.99, etc., which I know would go for .01 plus $3.99 shipping online. I liked being able to used-book shop in person, but I was also irritated by the mark-ups that went beyond the initial raison d'etre of the store.

I was, though, able to find a few things either in the "Nostalgia" (good stuff that the minimum-wage clerks didn't realize was valuable) or "Bargain" sections of the store: "The Romantic Egoists" ($9.99), a Diane Arbus paperback from '72 ($9.99), and $3 discounted DVDs of "Angels in America," "Mad Men" (Season 2), and "Rio Bravo."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I...have become... comfortably numb...

A couple of days ago, my apartment neighbor came home at 3:45 in the morning and cranked up the music. I was asleep on my couch at the time, but I--after the initial jolt awake and subsequent prowling from border to border of the four rooms in my apartment to figure out where exactly the music was coming from--finally, upon placing an ear against my bedroom wall, learned that it was the guy next door.

I was pissed at the disturbance, sure, but also curious about what someone was so unselfconsciously (i.e., drug-addledly) playing at that hour. Sure 'nuff: Pink Floyd. Once I pressed my ear to my bedroom wall, I heard every tortured note of "Comfortably Numb." Followed a half-hour later by a very loud version of Willie Nelson's "Always On My Mind." With a bunch of other emo notes in between.

How I know I'm middle-aged? I, while being annoyed at being woken up, simultaneously smirked at the emotional young man's late-night song choices: "God... Pink Floyd! Please! How 1980s!" And "Jesus... How often has 'Always On My Mind' been played when you're tortured in love? Is that all you got?" :)

The next day at work, I expressed my irritated amusement to a co-worker. He replied: "You're quite the Grand Dame!" Which reminded me of something my mother said to me a few months ago when I was expressing my political opinions: "The way you talk, you should be rich."

That I have the cool attitude with my own personal lowly circumstances is the Grand Irony, I suppose.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New bedroom set.

I thought I was an adult when I bought my first queen-sized bed a year-and-a-half ago. But, no...
You're not truly an adult until you're able to buy your first bedding. That includes more than 2 sheets and 2 pillowcases. (I.e., extra pillows, and big "European pillows" and a "dust ruffle," which I will never be able to put in place as long as I'm single because it takes two to lift the top Queen mattress to get the dust ruffle situated.)
After so many years of random beds... I like how my own chosen bed looks.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Julie London: SWAY (1963)

Julie London: "The End of the World" (1963)


Julie London - Broken-Hearted Melody (1962)


The Monkees - I'm A Believer

I got my car over 2 weeks ago, but I've been afraid to drive fast like I used to, or to turn up music, or...anything. After 9 years of not driving, being back on the road again with all of the distractions has been mildly scary. In fact, the only radio station I've had on has been NPR, with its low-key talk: I didn't want any distractions!
It took my brother yesterday driving my car and asking if he could switch the radio from the talk... He put it on Austin's KUTX 98.9. Also commercial-free, but playing MUSIC.
I left it there, still at a low volume. Until today, when I was driving back from lunch at Wendy's and this song came on. I was suddenly filled with JOY! And then blasted the song as loudly as my tinny car stereo would allow. I felt/was blatantly, obnoxiously HAPPY --- like I used to be on occasion! It's still possible!!

Friday, August 12, 2016

More (Theme from Mondo Cane) - Julie London

Listening to Nat King Cole tonight and his version of "More" came on... Reminded me of first being introduced to the Julie London version of this song years ago by someone I loved.

Mama Cat

At my birthday dinner at a BBQ place in the western hills of Austin Thursday night, a scrawny cat was hanging 'round. She wasn't aggressively going after any food on the tables, but she was sitting there looking at people's food. After an hour or so, I asked my waiter if we were allowed to feed the cat... He said that she had just turned up a couple of days earlier, and that the staff thought that she might have just had kittens.

Today, I e-mailed the restaurant, saying that if any kittens turned up, I'd like to adopt one (plus the Mama Cat, which the staff had named "Brisket." The baby, I plan on naming "Trisket.")

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Probably my very favorite Dylan song

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wond'ring if she'd changed it all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama's homemade dress
Papa's bankbook wasn't big enough
And I was standing on the side of the road
Rain falling on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I've paid some dues getting through
Tangled up in blue.

She was married when we first meet
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split it up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walking away
I heard her say over my shoulder
"We'll meet again someday on the avenue"
Tangled up in blue.

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Working for a while on a fishing boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind my love just grew
Tangled up in blue.

She was working in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept looking at her side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I's just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Saying "Jimmy, Don't I know your name ?"
I muttered something underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue.

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
"I thought you'd never say hello" she said
"You look like the silent type"
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the caf,s at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue.

So now I'm going back again
I got to get her somehow
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives
Don't know how it all got started
I don't what they're doing with their lives
But me I'm still on the road
Heading for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in Blue.

48 hours in August in Texas without AC

The AC at my apartment went out Monday evening around 8pm. The all-purpose, surly maintenance guy at my '70s apartment showed up to take a look around 10pm. He took a look, then disappeared without a word. Reappeared at 11:30pm with the news: He couldn't fix anything. Maybe it would be done by Wednesday. At that time, the temperature in my apartment was up to 85 degrees.

Tuesday morning, I got up for work, tried to get ready, with the temp still 85... I tried taking a cold (actually luke-warm) shower. When I tried to get dressed, even the clothes in my closet were warm. When I tried to blow-dry my hair after showering, the heat from the blow-dryer made me sweat so that the wet hair being dried was immediately countered by the hair being soaked by sweat from the dryer. It was impossible to put on any makeup.

Tuesday evening, I knew what I was in for. I stayed at work for an extra 2 hours for the air-conditioning. When I got home after 7pm, nothing was possible except changing out of work clothes into a tank top and the shortest of shorts and lying on the couch in front of the TV. After an hour of lying there sweating, I finally filled a baggie with ice and put it on my head, alternating between the top of my head and my forehead. Momentarily relieving, but I could not sleep. The TV was giving off too much heat. I eventually moved to my bedroom, fan turned on high, window open (letting in 85-degree non-helpful air), and was able to sleep.

On Wednesday morning, AC still out, I woke up to a 90-degree thermostat reading and tried a different tactic: Took the same luke-warm shower from the day before, but then avoided the blow-dryer altogether, going in to work with still-wet hair and no makeup, closing my office door and doing the personal grooming (brushing, powder, lipstick) to make me look presentable.

Wednesday, I came home at 6pm to find a new AC finally in place. At 10pm as I write this, the temp is finally down to a respectable 78 or so. I'm fine now.

But: What did people in the "olden days" in Texas do without AC? I know there was porch-sitting. I know there were palmetto fans if you were rich enough to have a porch and palmetto fans. I know there were ice-baths if one had to go out and dress after. Otherwise you just SWEAT. Try not to move very much. And SWEAT.

Monday, August 08, 2016

One of the best things about my new car...

I can go swimming again! The last time I went swimming was in 2010, when I got back from NYC and was living with my mother for a couple of months (she lived in a community that had a pool one block away from her house that I could walk to).
Why couldn't I go swimming after that without a car? Because I like a lawn-chair to lie out in (that I couldn't haul around on the bus), because I didn't want to go home on a bus with the wet swimsuit seeping through my t-shirt and shorts and my hair looking like shit.
My new car of 2 weeks ago also involved BUYING A NEW SWIMSUIT for the first time in over 10 years a $160 suit from Dillard's on sale for $60 -- I'm sure that the suit wasn't worth anywhere near $160 to begin with, but that, at least, is what the original tag said. And that's the psychology of August. When most DON'T want swimsuits, but I DO.
My car has been the impetus for all sorts of things, but being able to swim again is so important to my psychological well-being. I feel FREE in a pool. I feel healthier after being outdoors for 2 hours breathing fresh air and soaking in sun. I get exercise splashing around (I don't do laps or anything, but I do swim for 20 mins., then lie out for 20 mins., then swim again, etc.). And I look like I want to look with a tan.
Thank you new car and swimsuit.

Friday, August 05, 2016

A Streetcar Named Desire - Napoleonic Code

Trump IS Kowalski. See also Blanche's editorial comment to Stella: "He's common." Never underestimate the power of The Common when it's backed up with either knowledge or sex.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

"I can almost remember their funny faces..."

Jesus. I just found out via the Internet that a woman I once slept with back in the '90s named "Jenn" is now going by "Jett." Back in the day, she was a rather sluggish lesbian community-college student. Today, though, "Jett" is a "filmmaker" and, according to "Jett's" website, refuses to identify "Jett's" gender. (Yeah, there's no "her" pronoun anywhere on the "About" section of the site. The language is painfully repetitive with "Jett" and "their.")

According to "Jett"'s profile on the IMDb: "I have the female perspective with the male gaze." OK, Jett. Whatever you say, Jett.

Personally, I've decided that I'm going to stop calling myself "Steph" and instead take up "Stuff" --- I refuse to be defined by a biology-based society!

Seriously, though: I am annoyed by the various public contortions of those who simply have no clue. Because they're so confused, they attempt to turn the confusion around to the majority, as in this definition of "intersex" from Wikipedia:

...Hida Viloria of OII-USA notes that, as a person born with an intersex body who has a non-binary sense of gender identity that "matches" he/r body, s/he is both cisgender and gender non-conforming, presumably opposites according to cisgender's definition, and that this evidences the term's basis on a binary sex model that does not account for intersex people's existence; s/he also critiques the fact that the term "sex assigned at birth" is utilized in one of cisgender's definitions without noting that babies are assigned male or female irregardless of intersex status in most of the world, stating that doing so obfuscates the birth of intersex babies and frames gender identity within a binary male/female sex model which fails to account for both the existence of natally congruent gender non-confoming gender identities, and gender-based discrimination against intersex people based on natal sex characteristics rather than on gender identity or expression, such as "normalizing" infant genital surgeries...

Did you get that?