Les Misérables MiniDoc

If you didn’t know, I’m playing the role of Thenardier in Grandstreet Theatre’s production of Les Misérables, which opens on April 25th. I’m stupidly excited for it, and other than I’ve been dealing with a cough that can only be described as THE PLAGUE FROM HELL, it’s been an amazing few weeks.

If you’ve never seen Les Misérables, or even if you have and you’re confused by what’s going on, you might take a bit of time out of your day and watch this mini-documentary I did on the production. It covers the story, a bit of the behind-the-scenes stuff, and it’s just good fun.

We have to start somewhere

I’m beginning to think that we’ve past impatient and have gone to full-on insane-and-wishful-thinking when it comes to progress we’ve made in the fight for full GLBT equality. There are a lot of people out there who are pissed at Jared Leto for giving an Oscar-winning performance of a trans-woman.

Just Jack!They are screaming the same angst that we heard back when Jack MacFarland was the only visible gay man who actually did gay things – like kiss boys, and swoon over Cher. And still to this day, people are pissed that this character existed at all, because he was, I admit, a horrible stereotype. And some people are saying the same about Leto’s role as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club.

But here’s the thing: We need to be seen. All of us. And being seen is the first step in being seen as equal. Let me state that again:

Being seen is the first step in being seen as equal.

And there are other steps, but let me outline how it works for any marginalized group that the majority would  rather not think about because something about them is “icky”.

  1. We are not seen, and therefore cannot be understood. Never mind liked or equal.
  2. We are seen, but not understood, certainly not liked, and still not equal.
  3. We are seen, and liked, but still not understood, and not equal.
  4. We are seen, liked, and understood, but still not equal.
  5. We are seen, liked, understood and equal.

Right now, the L&G parts of the movement are on step 3, and getting really close to step 4. In many ways, we are on step 4, but not all ways, and there are plenty of places where we are still on Step 1. (In Uganda and Russian, we’re back to Step 0: Move so you are not murdered in the streets.)

The “B” contingent is kinda all over the map. They are somewhat ahead of the L&G in some ways, and somewhat behind in others. But they are visible.

Dallas Buyers ClubTrans folk are in a really hateful place on this progression because they are visible, but they aren’t well understood by the masses, and they aren’t portrayed well by the popular stories, and are still shunned in many, many ways. The upside is they are on the path, and that’s the only comfort, cold tho it may be, that I can offer, aside from my support. And I fully support trans people.

I do, however, want to point out that bitching about Leto not being the right choice, or that Rayon should have been played by a trans actress, misses the bigger point. Trans people are not invisible. You have to be seen to be understood. And that first step has been made.

TransamericaWe still have a lot of work to do, but focusing your anger at not being equal at our allies is a good way to lose allies and this fight. Let’s not do that. Celebrate Dallas Buyers Club for what it is – a good story, with a great cast, with some trashy, throw-away material that we’d like to evolve past. And then show us what you want to see next. There’s nothing stopping you from writing the next Oscar winning movie with a trans lead, is there?

I didn’t think so.

 

Intent and Cowardice, Part II

I’ve covered this before, but I guess I didn’t go far enough because another part of the discussion has come up. First, read this.

Got it? Great.

Here’s the other part of it. Today, @ActuallyPJH put out that he hates being called “pocket gay” and then asked if any other sections of our society got called names. Yes. Yes, we do. Some are nice, like “bear”, “daddy” and “gym bunny” and some are mean like “bear”, “daddy” and “gym bunny”.

Oh wait. There it is again. Intent is the difference between how those terms are used. And when you meet someone for the first time and they call you something you disagree with, you have the ability right then to say “Please don’t call me that.” If you’re not with a complete asshole, they’ll say something like “no harm meant” and not use it again. That doesn’t mean that the whole of society is changed and you won’t run into it again, but that one person will not use it with you. (Don’t be terribly surprised if they roll their eyes and come up with something worse, like “minifag”, because, especially we gays, are snarky bitches, and we do shit like that.)

If, however, you get called something you don’t like but that is in common use, and you freak out sideways and lose your shit, you’re doing no one any favors. You’re not going to change the world, you look like a massive twit who can’t be allowed out in public.

When someone says something that you find hurtful, you have an obligation to ask yourself two things:

  1. Was their intent to hurt me? If yes, kick them back down and get away from them. If no, ask yourself question number 2.
  2. Am I an adult (or enough of an adult) to say I dislike them, and hope they are adult enough to respect that? If yes, great, ask that they not use those terms with you. If not, perhaps head home for a nap and a cookie and a sulk.

I dislike being called a chub. In fact, I hate it. But the guys that I fancy are called “chubby chasers” and, guess what, by extension, I’m being called a chub. I dislike it. I also have better things to deal with in my day then to worry about how someone else thinks of me. At the end of the day, I’m better off by far. You probably are, too.

We Are All Ukrainian

Somehow this just keeps getting worse, and the idea that it will get better seems far off and far-fetched. But there is hope. We make a difference by standing up and doing the right thing.

Watch this, and then call your representatives and senators, because it’s the right thing, and the least, you can do.

Your passwords suck

Ok, so this is going to be brief: YOUR PASSWORDS SUCK.

To be quite honest, MY PASSWORDS SUCK, TOO.

That’s why, a few years back, I stopped using my passwords. I didn’t stop using passwords, as it’s not like I’ve got some super-secret tool on my computer that recognizes me, enters secure credentials to all sites and tools that I use, and also makes me coffee and snacks. No, sadly, that day hasn’t yet arrived.

I started using 1Password from Agilebits. I cannot recommend this application enough. Saves my ass all the time, and I want everyone, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU, to be using it.

The only problem is that it’s got a learning curve, but it’s not that bad of one, and you should take the time to learn to use it, and if you have problems, call me. I’ll gladly walk you through it because I’m tired of waking up to notes from friends with “I’ve used 85% of my 1TB data cap this month.”

Because

  1. Who gets a fucking terabyte data cap?!? That’s massive!
  2. You used almost a terabyte in less than a month? WOW!
  3. Oh, wait, YOU WERE HACKED.

Yeah, change your passwords to better passwords from 1Password. Now.

You know, I grew up watching and listening to comedy, and one of the greats left us today. RIP Sid Caesar, you truly were the king!

Stand Up And Fight With Me

First, read this: Bow Down Macklemore

Ok, let’s take this apart, because this ignorant rant misses the point and instead shoots our movement in the foot. Way to go with that one, Ms. Fox.

Paragraph 1: I agree. It’s tragic that a white rapper has gotten awards that so many black rappers haven’t gotten, and I especially think this because so many black rappers have much better music (which is ostensively what the Grammy’s are about, right?). I’m not a huge fan of Macklemore, but I think he’s doing the right thing – using his voice, which is very big, to help a minority (disclosure, I’m part of that minority). That’s a good thing. But I can’t disagree that his winning when others, better than him, haven’t, is problematic, but that’s for the Grammy’s to fix.

Perpetuates the racist myth of black homophobia” Are you fucking kidding me? It points out that the genre tends to be homophobic, but that isn’t a myth, and doesn’t really say anything about race, other than you’re looking at a white guy saying it. If a white points out homophobia in a black the white guy is racist? No, he’s just observing and speaking about a fact. Get it together.

I don’t want feel-good, watered-down raps promoting the passive acceptance of gay people.” I do. I want acceptance on every level so we can stop having to fight for the right to merely exist. Are you crazy? Why give this up? You need to understand that we need every bit of help we can get, and this is fucking helping!

I want songs about owning my power.” Great. So you went to a cisgendered straight black woman to get it. Dandy. I believe “She Keeps Me Warm” was written by a lesbian, but maybe that song isn’t enough for you? Or maybe it’s because Mary Lambert isn’t a big enough voice for you to feel like you matter?

Paragraph 2:Macklemore raps about homophobic oppression, an oppression he has never experienced. He caricatures hip hop as homophobic, when there are queer hip hop artists making better music that speaks to their own oppression.

Well, yes he raps about something he’s seen in action, and while it doesn’t directly affect him, using his voice to bring it up and call it out isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a damned good thing. And yes, he’s straight. We call them “allies” in case you were wondering what to call him.

As for him caricaturing anything, where the hell have you been? Have you listened to rap music? Do a search on “rap lyrics faggot” and you’ll get 1.8 MILLION records for it. That’s not a caricature, that’s a fact. And one of the other cisgendered, straight, white, male, rappers you might’ve heard of is Eminem, who has used the word in his songs. So yeah, nothing really new here other than your blinders to reality.

There are queer hip hop artists doing great work. They don’t have Macklemore’s reach at all, nor do they have the straight audience that needs to actually hear the words that he’s saying. We LGBTQII(every-other-letter-of-the-alphabet) people get it. We’re fighting for our rights and, dammit, we need big voices to help. Macklemore is one of those, so stop shitting on him because he didn’t get everything exactly the way you want. You don’t get to speak for all of us either.

Macklemore’s lyrics imply that ‘gay is the new black!’ by conflating civil rights and gay rights throughout the song.

Gay Rights are Civil Rights!!

I don’t need straight boys to validate my existence. I woke up like this…FLAWLESS.

He’s not validating your existence for you, he’s stating, to the people who think you are less, that they are wrong and you are as equal as they are. Don’t confuse yourself that his message was for you. It’s not, it’s for the straights who don’t yet get it. Duh.

“If I was gay, I would think hip hop hates me.” Macklemore denounces hip hop as categorically homophobic.” Again, refer to Eminem. And while it’s a gross generalization, it’s not a woman telling others “bow down bitches, bow bow down bitches.” Which, you know, it’s totally uplifting to be called a bitch at the top of a song, and told to bow before another. Very “equality”, that.

I love this next bit. “Not to mention the benevolent homophobia inherent in the assertion that queer people only deserve rights because we’re ‘just like’ straight people, rather than by virtue of our humanity.” That’s not ‘benevolent homophobia’ that’s the fucking message we’ve been saying for the entirety of this fight – we deserve to be treated fairly because we are humans, too, just like you. How angry are you that you can’t see the basics of who and what we are and what we’re doing?

““It’s the same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins.” Macklemore conflates the civil rights and mainstream LGBT rights movement, which ignores queer people of color at the intersections of both identities, harms both movements by insinuating that black and gay are separate categories for comparison rather than people whose liberations are interdependent, and overlooks the unique historical struggles of people of color. He goes on to rap, “It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference.” There are differences between racial and sexual oppression, conflating the two is ignorant and historically specious at best, white supremacist at worst.

Yep. Macklemore is apartheid in a slick haircut. That’s it.

The civil rights movement and the LGBT movement are parts of the same movement – it’s called “equality“. And while, yes, there are different battlefields and different goals achieved each year, and different set-backs and different ideas on how to get there, the end result is that we should all be equal. Same fight. Different reasons. You should get that, and why you don’t is something for you to consider. Deeply.

How you hear his lyrics says so much more about you than it does about him. I guess you don’t want the help, but please, shut up about it until we win. Then you can bitch all you want about how they didn’t do enough, or everything they did was wrong. Right now, you’re part of the problem, and you need to look deep in yourself and find out why, when someone is helping you by calling out his own flock, you feel the need to feel attacked and demeaned. He isn’t, and never was, talking to you. Get a grip.

“How is gay marriage going to help with the most pressing issues facing our community?” It’s one thing. And it’s an achievable goal that gives us standing to point out that we’re equal in the eyes of the law – which then gives us standing to attack and win on all those other issues that you mention. You may not like that the fight has gotten us to this goal faster than others, and I can’t say if you’re wrong or right, but as we’re so close to winning this, why not knock it out of the park and use that very real power to tackle the next inequality that we face? Oh, you didn’t think of that, did you. It appears you didn’t think of much.

On Macklemore being an ally, you wrote “It’s incredibly frustrating to suddenly see people care about homophobia, something queer people have been talking about FOREVER just because a straight man rapped about it.” Yes, it’s very hard to realize that we are still so powerless that we must reach the mainstream through others. That’s reality, tho, and your slap at him, your biting critique and inflamed attack on him isn’t helping the people you think he’s silenced. In fact, other than mentioning Mary Lambert, you haven’t brought up any counterpoints to him, and that says even more about your thinking than your writing does. You don’t have the queer artists to extoll and promote either. Hell, you didn’t even mention Frank Ocean, probably the highest profile out rapper, or his album “Channel Orange”, and I’m wondering why? Oh wait. Maybe he didn’t really rap about equality or change or making the world a better place for LBGTQII people. I don’t know, because I haven’t heard his album. It wasn’t big enough, mainstream enough, to reach me as I’m not a general fan of hip hop. So effectively, his voice is silence (kudos to you for pointing that out, tho.) and you prefer silence because everyone else is fucking wrong.

‘But I have a queer/queer person of color friend who loves ‘Same Love!’ Knowing a queer/QPOC person who loves ‘Same Love’ does not render these critiques invalid, in the same way that having a black friend doesn’t mean that you’re not racist. People have conflicting views because marginalized groups are not homogenous, monolithic entities. That doesn’t mean you can ignore or talk over the queer people, people of color, and queer people of color who are critiquing Macklemore; it means you shut up and listen to become a stronger ally.”

You think the stronger allies are the silent ones? Are you trolling? Seriously, ARE YOU TROLLING?!? Because you know what? “Silence = Death” wasn’t just a bumper sticker to make you feel better about opening your mouth, it’s the simple truth. If you don’t stand up AND SAY SOMETHING when you see oppression, you are siding with the oppressor. How ignorant, dangerous, and hateful are you that you want our allies, who yes, are imperfect, don’t always do the best thing, and something get it wrong because they are human, to be silent.

You know who isn’t going to be silent? The fuckwits who think we are going to hell. The assholes who want to enshrine bigotry towards us in the US Constitution. They sure as fuck aren’t going to shut up. I hope and pray that our allies won’t shut up either.

You don’t need anyone to fucking bow down, either. You need to stand tall, with the rest of us, and fight for the future. And yes, that means calling out allies when they fuck up. It also means thanking them when they do good.

You need to learn the difference.

And in case you didn’t get it, here it is again, in a video for you:

A Helena Win

You know, I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world. I barely know what’s going on when it comes to football even though I’ve produced well north of a hundred games. And several hundred more sports events when you count volleyball, basketball, soccer and even wrestling. I make sports on the web happen. Go figure.

Today was the Rocky Mountain Battlin’ Bears versus the Carroll College Fighting Saints, and the Saints won it by 2 points, and the entire game came down to the last two possessions and ultimately, the final play of the game. Carroll won with a field goal, and it was magnificent to watch.

I like all the teams in the Frontier, but Carroll is my first team, simply because I wouldn’t do what I do now if it weren’t for them. But I truly feel for the Bears, they played a massively impressive game, and at the end of the day, yes, they lost, but not before showing that they have what it takes to win. They never let up. They never backed down. They have a long bus ride home (although certainly not the longest) and I sincerely hope they aren’t too hard on themselves. They will be, tho. It’s a heartbreaker for them.

But that’s not the interesting thing that dragged me back to the blog for a quick post. Oh no, my friends, the interesting thing is that the coaches poll is Monday and that’s going to be a really cool thing to do. And I, who have a shit understanding of what is going on with football on the field, have gotten a good feel for how the coaches will vote. And people think I’m crazy, but I’ve been right more often then not, so I’m putting this out there for all to see.

Here’s the standings as they were coming into play today:

  1. Morningside (Iowa)
  2. Cumberlands (Ky.)
  3. Grand View (Iowa)
  4. Benedictine (Kan.)
  5. Carroll (Mont.)
  6. Baker (Kan.)
  7. Rocky Mountain (Mont.)
  8. Saint Francis (Ind.)
  9. Ottawa (Kan.)
  10. Missouri Valley
  11. St. Ambrose (Iowa)
  12. Faulkner (Ala.)
  13. Peru State (Neb.)
  14. Tabor (Kan.) & Georgetown (Ky.) (tie)
  15. Tabor (Kan.) & Georgetown (Ky.) (tie)
  16. Friends (Kan.)
  17. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
  18. Sterling (Kan.)
  19. Northwestern (Iowa)
  20. St. Francis (Ill.)
  21. Reinhardt (Ga.)
  22. Bacone (Okla.)
  23. Saint Xavier (Ill.)
  24. Robert Morris (Ill.)
  25. Southern Oregon

And the top five have been the top 5 for a couple of weeks. Not a lot of movement here. But #1 Morningside LOST to #19 Northwestern (Iowa). #4 Benedictine got absolutely shellacked  by #10 Missouri Valley. This should mean that Carroll rises to #3, without question. But what happens to Rocky, who were ranked at #7?

Well, this is where it gets interesting. Back in Week 4 of the season, which was the second poll of the year, the Saints also beat Rocky, and you’d think, naturally, that the team that loses will go down. But as I told Coach Van Diest and Bruce Parker during the filming of the Saints Wrap Up that week, I thought that Rocky might actually improve anyway. And they did, rising two ranks that week.

I think we might see a repeat of that. At least, I hope so. Today, someone had to come away with a loss, that’s the way the game works. But neither of these teams are week. And the coaches that vote know the schedule, and they basically said, with the rankings they’d put out before, that this week’s game was going to be a powerhouse showdown and the only game that actually had that was Rocky at Carroll. All the other claimants to “Game of the Week” failed to be anything but “Well, we like to play sometimes” games. Regardless, I challenge anyone from the other NAIA leagues to face the Frontier teams, even Dickinson and come away with anything but a spanking.

I’m going to go on record with the following: Carroll will rise to #3. Morningside will fall to #12. Benedictine will fall to #15. And just because I honestly believe there is an unwritten rule that Six Breakfast Beers must be enjoyed before voting, Rocky will rise to #6. We’ll find out on Monday.

Realignment

This tweet solidified a concept in my head that we are all going to have to face because we didn’t let the banks fail.

Yes, that appears to be the most random synaptic misfire, but I assure you, it is not. You see, we have allowed a change to the value of a dollar so dramatically because we were unwilling to let banks fail on bad investments on mortgages. They created a mess, and we the people cleaned it up and in doing so have shot the greenback down.

Attention USA Today readers — the price of the paper is going up. Starting September 30, USA Today will cost $2 at newsstands. That’s up from $1, which it had been since 2008. That year the paper raised its price from 75 cents to $1. – Media Bistro

Phoenix, AZ was a prime example of this madness. A friend was building his house, and during the time it took to build it, it’s value doubled, so he sold it for a huge pile of money. That house is now valued at about what it was going to be valued when it was originally proposed, actually, it’s a bit less, but the mortgage on it hasn’t moved. It’s underwater. The bank is fine, the property is actually fine, but the owner is in debt because of the madness that gave a bunch of money to my friend.

The realistic value of that home? Don’t know, but since many markets haven’t reset to values prior to the bust, we are left with homes that are going for huge dollar amounts higher than we had before, and that means that a dollar must cover less value than before because, regardless of what HGTV says, not everyone has done an upgrade to their home.

But that’s just in real estate, right? The value of a dollar hasn’t declined elsewhere, has it? Of course it has. If the value of a dollar is smaller when it comes to buying a home, you can bet it’s smaller when it comes to buying everything else. Which means it’s going to take more dollars to get the same amount of stuff and that means we’ve got a problem.

It means that because we didn’t let the banks fall into the spiked pits they’d created, to bleed out and be rebuilt we’ve screwed ourselves. Yes, it would have been painful yet quickly over, and many on Wall Street would have had to find new jobs, and perhaps be on assistance for a while, or at the very least have to sell a yacht or two, but that’s ok. They gambled with money, and lost, but never had to pay the bet. That’s the problem.

Instead, we pay, and the way we pay is by making the dollar worth less and less until all the various markets balance out. Real estate is pushing us down, and nothing can really change that now. We should have let them fall, but instead chose to reduce the value in the dollar. And it’s pretty easy to calculate. A house that was worth $X before the bubble, and was worth $2X during the bubble, means that our dollar is now worth half what it was before, because that house didn’t change. (Yes, this is simplified, but the concept is more important than the details right now.) Notice the timeline in the pricing at USA Today? It’s not coincidental, at least not completely.

Prices are rising. Not because something suddenly has more value, but because the dollar has less value in it. And it’s tied to the housing bubble and the mess we made when we tried to clean it up. The Law of Unintended Consequences has us caught like a snake in a forked stick, and we aren’t getting away from it.

This means that we’ve got a lot of work to do to fix this mess, starting with the minimum wage. Because, yes, the US Today now costs twice what it did before, but only because your dollar is really worth half what it was before.