Thursday, June 23, 2011

Analyzing 'Game of Thrones'

I recently got into a long discussion with some former classmates over Game of Thrones. I like the books and I like the series. Both mediums provide a lot of space for analysis. (The books more so as they're all +1,000 pages.) And I'm cool with things changing from book to film. That's the nature of adaptation, and I love looking at the changes because they're very telling. I like the books, I have some critiques/issues. I like the show, I have some critiques/issues. I like them independent of one another and in comparison.

But the one change I detest that the TV series made from the book is how Drogo and Dany's wedding night was portrayed. It skeeves me out to discuss which is better: the forced arranged marriage of a 13 year old with dubious consent or the forced marriage of an 18 year old with rape. (The moral ambiguity that Martin deals with is one of the things I like most about the novels.) So I'll just post some links to my favorite analysis/critiques of the series as a whole, but which concentrate most specifically on the Drogo/Dany change and how it does and incredible disservice to Dany, Drogo and the Dothraki as a whole.

(These won't spoil you for things past Book 1, which you pretty much know if you've seen through the season finale.)

ETA: I also can't tell you how many people have tried to convince me the TV show's version is 'better' and the rape 'makes more sense.' For the record, all of these people have been male.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Conversations At Work

So sometimes I have to field the most ridiculous calls. People who think they can sneak past me, the Gatekeeper, and get to the Big Bosses. Rarely, they succeed (like the woman who told me she was calling from the National Library, for example; and she was, quite litterally, calling from the National Library). Most of the time, the conversations fail for obvious reasons:

Caller: Hi, Phil please.
A guy names Phillip has not worked here for over 2 years. No one who has ever called up for him has ever called him 'Phil.'
Me: I think you have the wrong number.
Caller: No I don't. This is [Company] International Film Distribution, isn't it?
There are 4 different companies with the same [Company] name, but different tail ends; they all do different things.
Me: No, this is [Company] Film.
Caller: Oh. Is there a Polish guy that works there?
No, no there is not.
Me: No, there isn't.
Caller: Yeah there is. John. John [Boss's last name, which is an Anglicized Polish last name from when his GREAT GRANDPARENTS immigrated.]
Me: Well, yes, he does work here, but he isn't Polish...
Caller: Great.
Me: Can I help you?
Caller: Can you put me through to him?
Me: No. He's not here. May I take a message?
Caller: No.
hangs up.

O.o Really? No, he never gave his name. Yes, he tried to act like he was buddy-buddy with both execs. Yes, he failed spectacularly at convincing me he actually knew either of them.

I love my job, especially the moments that make me laugh.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This is Amazing.

Transcript below.

I grew up in New York City, between Harlem and the Bronx. Growing up as a boy, we was taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating, no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger, and definitely no fear. That men are in charge, which means women are not. That men lead, and you should just follow and just do what we say. That men are superior; women are inferior. That men are strong; women are weak. That women are of less value. Property of men. And objects, particularly sexual objects.

I've later come to know that to be the collective socialization of men, better known as The Man Box. [shows graphic of box containing classic masculinity tropes] See, this Man Box has in it all the ingredients of how we define what it means to be a man. Now, I also want to say, without a doubt, there are some wonderful, wonderful, absolutely wonderful things about being a man—while at the same time there's some stuff that's just straight-up twisted. [laughter] And we really need to begin to challenge, look at, and really get in the process of deconstructing, redefining, what we come to know as manhood.

This is my two at home—Kendall and Jade. [shows picture of two children, a girl and a boy] They're 11 and 12; Kendall's 15 months older than Jade, and there was a period of time, you know, when my wife, her name is Tammy, and I, we just got real busy, and whip bim bam boom, Kendall and Jade. [laughter] And when they were about 5 and 6, 4 and 5, you know, Jade could come to me, it didn't matter, come to me crying, you know, it didn't matter what she was crying about, she can get on my knee, she could snot my sleeve up, just cry, cry it out, Daddy got you, that's all that's important.

Now, Kendall, on the other hand, and, like I said, he's only 15 months older than her, he come to me crying, it's like, soon as I would hear him cry, a clock would go off, you know; I would give the boy probably about 30 seconds. Which means by the time he got to me, I was already saying things like, "Why you crying? Hold your head up. Look at me. Explain to me what's wrong. Tell me what's wrong! I can't understand you while you crying!" And out of my own frustration, of my role and responsibility of building him up as a man, to fit into these guidelines and these structures that are defined in this Man Box, I would find myself saying things like, "Just go in your room! Just go on—go on in your room! Sit down, get yourself together, and come back and talk to me when you can talk to me like a"…what? [audience: "Like a man."] Like a man. And he's five. years. old.

And, you know, as I grow in life, I would say to myself, "My god. What's wrong with me? What am I doing? Why would I do this?" And I think back, I think back to my father. [shows picture of his family] There was a time in my life when we had a very troubled experience in our family. My brother Henry, he died tragically when we was teenagers.

We lived in New York City, as I said—we lived in the Bronx, at the time—and the burial was a place called Long Island—it was about two hours outside of the city—and as we were preparing to come back from the burial, you know, the cars stopped at the bathroom, you know, let folks take care of themselves, for the long ride back to the city, and the limousine empties out—my mother, my sisters, my aunties, they all get out, but my father and I stayed in the limousine. And no sooner than the women got out, he burst out crying. He didn't want to cry in front of me, but he knew he wasn't going to make it back to the city, and it was better me than allow himself to express these feelings and emotions in front of the women. And this is a man who, 10 minutes ago, had just put his teenage son in the ground—something I just can't even, I just can't even imagine.

The thing that sticks with me the most is that he was apologizing to me for crying in front of me. And at the same time, he was also giving me props, lifting me up, for not crying.

You know, I come to also look at this as this, this fear that we have as men, this fear that just have us paralyzed, holding us hostage to this Man Box.

I can remember speaking to a 12-year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, "How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you, you were playing like a girl?" Now, I expected him to say something like, "I'd be sad; I'd be mad; I'd be angry," something like that. No, the boy said to me, the boy said to me, "It would destroy me."

And I said to myself, "God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?" [applause]

It took me back to a time when I was about 12 years old—I grew up in tenement buildings, you know, in the inner city, and at this time, we're living in the Bronx—and in the building next to where I lived, there was a guy named Johnny. He was about 16 years old, and we were all about 12 years old, younger guys, and he was hanging out with all us younger guys, and this guy, he was up to a lot of no good; he was the kind of kid parents have to wonder, "What is this 16 year old boy doing with these 12 year old boys?" And he did spend a lot of time up to no good; he was a troubled kid, you know, his mother had died from a heroin overdose, he was being raised by his grandmother, his father wasn't on the set, his grandmother had two jobs, he was home alone a lot.

Well, I gotta tell you, we young guys, we looked up to this dude, man. He was cool. He was fine—that's what the sisters said; he was fine, right? He was having sex. You know, we all looked up to him.

So one day, I'm out in front of the house doing something, just playing around, doing something, I don't know what. He looks out his window, and he calls me upstairs. He said, "Hey Ant—" (they called me Anthony growing up as a kid) "—hey Anthony, come on upstairs." Johnny call; you go. So I run right upstairs. As he opens the door, he says to me, "Do you want some?" Now I immediately knew what he meant, because for me, growing up at that time, and our relationship with this Man Box, "Do you want some?" meant one of two things: Sex or drugs. And we weren't doing drugs.

Now my box, my card, my Man Box Card was immediately in jeopardy. Two things: One, I never had sex. We don't talk about that, as men; you only tell your dearest, closest friends, sworn to secrecy for life the first time you had sex. For everybody else, we go around like we been having sex since we was two. There ain't no first time. [laughter] The other thing I couldn't tell him is that I didn't want any. You know, that's even worse. We supposed to be always on the prowl; women are objects, especially sexual objects.

So anyway, I couldn't tell him any of that, so, like my mother would say, to make a long story short, I just simply said to Johnny, "Yes." He told me to go in his room. I go in his room; on his bed is a girl from the neighborhood named Sheila. She's 16 years old. She's nude. She is what I know today to be mentally ill, higher functioning at times; at others, we had a whole choice—words, you know, inappropriate names for her… [he drifts off; he looks pained]

Anyway, Johnny had just gotten through having sex with her—well, he actually raped her, but he said he had sex with her, because while Sheila never said "no," she also never said "yes."

So he was offering me the opportunity to do the same, so when I go in the room, I close the door—folks, I'm petrified. I stand with the back to the door, so Johnny can't bust in the room and see that I'm not doing anything, and I stand there long enough that I could have actually done something. So now I'm no longer trying to figure out what I'm gonna do; I'm trying to figure out how I'm gonna get out of this room.

So in my 12 years of wisdom, I zip my pants down, I walk out into the living room, and, lo and behold, while I was in the room with Sheila, Johnny was back at the window calling guys up. So now there's a living room full of guys, like, you know, like the waiting room at the doctor's office. And they ask me, "How was it?" And I said to them it was good. And I zip my pants up in front of them, and I head for the door.

Now, I say this all with remorse, and I was feeling a tremendous amount of remorse at that time, but I was conflicted, because, while I was feeling remorse, I was excited, because I didn't get caught, but I knew I felt bad about what was happening. This fear of getting outside the Man Box totally enveloped me. It was way more important to me, about me and my Man Box Card, than about Sheila, and what was happening to her.

See, collectively, we as men are taught to have less value in women, to view them as property and the objects of men. We see that as an equation that equals violence against women.

[shows a graphic reading: "The Collective Socialization of Men: Less Value + Property + Objectification = Violence Against Women."]

We as men, good men, the large majority of men, we operate on the foundation of this, this whole collective socialization. We kind of see ourselves as separate, but we're very much a part of it. You see, we have to come to understand that less value, property, and objectification is the foundation, and the violence can't happen without it. So we're very much a part of the solution, as well as the problem. The Centers for Disease Control says that men's violence against women is at epidemic proportions—it is the number one health concern for women in this country and abroad.

So quickly, I'd just like to say, you know, this is the love of my life [shows picture of daughter]—my daughter, Jade. The world I envision for her, how do I want men to be acting and behaving—I need you on board. I need you with me. I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men. That it's okay to not be dominating. That it's okay to have feelings and emotions. That it's okay to promote equality. That it's okay to have women that are just friends and that's it. That it's okay to be whole.

That my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman. [applause]

I remember asking a 9-year-old boy—I asked a 9-year-old boy, "What would life be like for you if you didn't have to adhere to this Man Box?" He said to me, "I would be free."

Thank you, folks. [cheers and applause]

Thursday, December 30, 2010

“Today millions of young women who benefit from the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers and would not give up any of their rights don’t call themselves feminists because it’s not sexy. They believe feminism is dated. They have not looked around, they are not aware that today, in the 21st century, women still do two-thirds of the world labor and own less than one percent of the assets; girls are still sold into prostitution, premature marriage, and forced labor. In times of conflict, war, poverty, or religious fundamentalism, women and children are the first and most numerous victims. Women need all their courage today, as they needed it before.”

Isabel Allende 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Browser Tips & Tricks

Browsers are awesome.  If you're still using Internet Explorer, stop.  Get something better.  Like Firefox, Opera, Safari, or Chrome.  A rundown:

  • FireFox has the most flexible and extensive add-ons of any of the browsers, including an add on that lets you download YouTube and other embedded videos.  Anything you might want your browser to do?  Most likely there is a FireFox add-on for you.
  • Chrome is pretty sleek.  I use it because it crashes less on my work PC and I just like the interface.
  • Safari is nice, though I find it fairly limited in some respects.  But this is mostly a personal preference thing.
  • Opera is a fairly young browser that not too many people use, but it's also fun.  Has all the major points (tabs, opening a brand new window) and is kind of like the cool thing to do.  It would be the hipster browser.

Here are a few things you might not know your browser can do:

1/ Browser history has gotten a lot of people in trouble, for various reasons.  And sometimes, we just don't want people to know where we've been--like when I bought my imaginary significant other's birthday present and didn't want to leave tracks.  But it looks a little suspicious if you always have a clean browser history, which is why most new browsers come with the option to temporarily turn off the history.
Chrome has an "Incognito WIndow" (open under File --> New Incognito Window).  
Safari turn on "Private Browsing" (Safari --> Private Browsing).
Firefox has "Private Browsing" (Tools --> Start Private Browsing). 
These functions are magnificent.  USE THEM.  And at the very least set your browser history to delete itself ever 2-3 days.  At the very least.

2/ For those that read a lot of websites with long articles or text, Safari has a great option called "Reader."  It's under "View" and it gets rid of distracting font color, images, colors, etc and basically turns the website into an E-Book.  IT.  IS.  WONDERFUL.  (As far as I know, Safari is the only browser that does this.)

3/ Opera, Safari, and Chrome all have "most visited" start/new tab pages that will list your top 6-12 visited sites for easy access.  You can "pin" any site you want (i.e. even if you only visit it a couple of times, you can still get it to stay there), which is convenient.

4/ For those heavily into on-line life (like me), keeping track of things can get difficult.  Which is why I actually have three different browsers on my computer.  One is basically for social media--twitter, facebook, linked in, etc, one is for the various blogs/new sites/media outlets I follow (Safari because of that 'reader function'), and one is for random other stuff.  Or for if I get really, really angry at Chrome or Safari because they're both crashing for no reason what-so-ever.

So there's your mini tutorial/crash course in online browsing.  Questions?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 TV Round Up - Part 2

  • Blue Bloods (CBS) - It's a decent cop show, but nothing we haven't seen before.  Pretty good cast, I'll see where they take it for a few episodes.
  • Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC) - I like the main guy, but again, this is a decent cop show where we already have too many cop shows.
  • The Event (NBC) - This is still boring and the writing is so lame.
  • My Generation (ABC) - Ugh.  I feel so pandered to.  This is insultingly boring and filled with every single stock character you can think of.
  • Nikita (CW) - This is actually okay.  I'm surprised.
  • No Ordinary Family (ABC) - I'll give it a few episodes to find its feet.  I like both Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis.
  • Outlaw (NBC) - Ugh.
  • Outsourced (NBC) - Are you fucking kidding me? THIS should have been the first axe of the 2010 season.
  • Terriers (F/X) - This show is great.  If you aren't watching it, you should be.
  • Undercovers (NBC) - I really want this to be great and do well, but it's been polished so much it's bland.  Would have done better on USA and with two leads who have better chemistry together.  (Separate, they're great actors.  Together...they fall flat.)

Shows I haven't yet seen, predict I will dislike, but will eventually watch at least one episode of: S#*! My Dad Says (CBS), The Whole Truth (ABC), The Defenders (CBS), Hellcats (CW).

Very sad Lone Star got cancelled, it was one of the best of this year's batch.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 TV Round Up - Part 1


That means in addition to my old favorites returning (like Chuck!), it's time for the new shows to premiere!  This makes my week incredibly hectic to get all my viewing in, but I've managed pretty well.  Thank you DVR and internet.

Here's the quick rundown of what I think of this season's new shows...or at least the ones that have air Sunday - Tuesday.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO) - Awesome.  Steve Buscemi is so good.  They've done a marvelous job on the sets and the story.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this season.

Chase (NBC) - It's a cop show set in Texas.  Nothing you haven't already seen before.  (What's up with everyone being enamored of Texas?  Is it the boots or the hats?)

The Event (NBC) - Boring.

Mike & Molly (CBS) - I could watch the 50% of the show that doesn't ask me to laugh at the characters for being fat.  But I'm going to skip this after the requisite 3 episodes. Also, the laugh track drives me up the wall.

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS) - Surprisingly alright.  I'll give it a few episodes to see if it makes the final rotation, but Grace Park is AWESOME.  Alex O'Laughlin (the lead) is the least charismatic of the actors on that show, but his co-stars more than make up for that.

Raising Hope (Fox) - Eh.  It's a serialized version of Raising Arizona but sans Holly Hunter and Nick Cage.  A few laughs, but doesn't come close to Modern Family, Community, Parks & Rec, or any other established comedy.

Running Wilde (Fox) - Ouch.  I think I laughed twice.  Ouch.  Bring back Arrested Development.