Monday, March 14, 2011

Watch as a dictatorship explodes

Never in my life did I think I'd see the small, isolated Libyan town in which I spent the years from 2-8 on the news in the West. But here it is - rebel and Gaddafi-controlled forces are clashing in Brega.

I have seriously conflicted feelings about Gaddafi. About Libya itself, only positive feelings - I loved Libya, it was a wonderful country in which to be a child in many ways. But Gaddafi, well he's a difficult figure to get a grip on.

All ambivalent feelings aside, though, it's long past time for him to go. And any leader that turns fighter jets on his own people has officially lost any shred of legitimacy that he ever had.

In general I'm very much against Western intervention in the Middle East because historically no good has come of it. This is a special case, though. The rebels just don't have enough firepower to fight Gaddafi, and let's face it, the reason Gaddafi has so much firepower is that we sold it to him. So just this once, there's a legitimate case to be made for intervention. Give the rebels weapons. Seriously, that's all that's needed - cut off Gaddafi's access to new resources via a no fly zone and a naval blockade, give the rebels guns, and leave the rest to them.

It's hard to explain to anyone who didn't grow up there how startling it is to see a rebellion in Libya at all. The bravery of the rebels is astonishing. No one expected this to happen during Gaddafi's lifetime. But, now that it has happened, and his son has proved that he would be just like his father if he was allowed to take over, it's time for the Colonel and his whole cadre of supporters to go.

Again, I wouldn't usually make a case for outside intervention in the Middle East, but if the West just sits back and lets the Libyan rebels be slaughtered when Gaddafi's troops reach Benghazi no one in the region will ever trust a word that we say about human rights again. So let's all hope that for once the UN actually does the right thing, before it's too late.

Monday, November 22, 2010

So, I'm doing a really cool feature for Gothic Beauty...

Which will focus on the connection between goth and visual kei, and one particular individual's influence over the development of fashion in both scenes in Japan. Pretty cool, huh? But then I started doing some research and looking at lots of pictures and, well...

See, here's the thing. VK generations 1 (X Japan) and 1.5 (Luna Sea, Penicillin) were, other than the crazy cat lady hair, really pretty cool looking. One of the reasons for this was that the major style icons of the period were, well, honestly, really fucking hot. So when they wore crazy outrageous outfits it worked (most of the time), because they had the bodies to pull it off (OK, granted that there was no excuse for Yoshiki's wedding dress - no one could have made that look good). But then you got to generation 2, and while there were still some guys who could pull off the outfits (Gackt, Toshiya from Dir en grey), they were getting a bit thinner on the ground, and there were a few tragic cases of "wow, that outfit really isn't working for you". And then you get to generation 3, and...holy shit, what happened? Not only have the clothes gone to hell, so have the people. I mean really, I looked for guys who still looked cool, I really did. And I came up with...well, Uruha from Gazette is pretty hot, but what the hell is going on with his outfits? And Miyavi is gorgeous, and made a fabulous goth boy, but he seems to have outgrown VK for the most part. So that leaves...well, I guess Uruha will just have to carry the torch for "VK dudes who can wear hot pants without looking like complete idiots". But do they really need to be purple and shiny? And why are they so damn baggy?

Fashion critic is displeased by this evolution. Or devolution. Anyway, a visual illustration.

Generation 1.5 - Luna Sea. Observe how awesome he looks. Treasure this memory, kids, because it's all downhill from here.

Generation 2 - Dir en grey . OK so, on the plus side, great bone structure, and he at least looks like an adult man, albeit one who could use a few cheeseburgers. But the boots? Seriously, wtf is going on with the boots? And again - food, it is your friend. This seems to have been about when VK fans decided that anyone who appears to eat more than once a month is too fat.
Generation 3. Alice Nine. Oh dear God why? The eyes, they bleed. Also note the distinctly fetal features on most of these boys. And I do mean boys. Seriously, has the one with the red hair even hit puberty yet? Seeing anyone who looks that young in hot pants makes me feel like a pedo. Do not want.
Also these guys are a perfect illustration of the concept of why you need to try clothes on to make sure they fit. Not a single garment in this picture fits. Not one. Scroll back up to the first guy - see how much better he looks? OK, so he's just more genetically blessed than these kids, but also, his clothes fit. This is important. There is nothing sexy about baggy shorts, not even if they are made out of leather.

The one lone hope...Uruha, The Gazette. Though the rest of his band could use some work, especially the dude with the hankie over his nose. Anyway...seriously, kiddo, you're like Obi Wan for the VK scene - you are our only hope. There is literally no one else with the body to carry off the clothes in this generation, and that's just sad. Please don't let them starve this one into emaciation too.
Also, remember what I said earlier about clothes needing to fit? This guy's do (other than the baggy purple shorts), and observe the difference. It's like magic!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Argh! Why is it that OK Cupid guys cannot follow simple directions?

Sample message.

"How locked in are you to the age group thingy?"

From a dude who looks to be about 20 years older than me. OK, folks, look - some people are willing to date way outside their age range, and that's fine. But not everyone is, and that's not an unreasonable position to take. It's not a "thingy", preferring to date people around your own age. And I can't help but wonder how this guy would respond to a woman who's as substantially older than him as he is older than me sending him "how locked in are you to the age group thingy" messages. Because I can't help but notice that it's always men just blithely assuming that women young enough to be their daughters should be willing to date them.

So, in case anyone from there follows this link, just to make it clear...I am not interested in dating anyone more than 10 years older or younger than me. Friends that much older or younger, or even more so, are fine. But not romantic/sexual relationships. In fact, within 5 years would be ideal, so at this point that would mean people aged 32 to 42. People aged 27 to 47 might be acceptable if we get along really well. People under 25 or over 50? Nope, no way, not under any circumstances, because I don't want to feel like I'm dating either my child or one of my parents. And if I was a man no one would ever expect me to be open to dating people old enough to be one of my parents (though they'd probably pat me on the back for dating someone young enough to be my kid).

Seriously, guys, introducing yourself in a way that makes it clear that you're not going to respect even the most basic of the other person's boundaries, with a side order of "oh those silly boundaries of yours!", is not a good way to get a date. At that point, not only do I not want to date you, I don't want to be friends with you either.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ironic moment given all the talk about women in journalism recently

Yesterday I went to do some local reporting. New client/publication for me, they're a start-up. While I was there I met this guy who's supervising contruction/restoration on an old building. And that's when things got annoying.

This guy repeatedly referred to me as a "cub reporter". Um...I am 37 years old. OK, granted, I probably look a little younger than my age, but not that damn young. And even if I was that young, it would still be rude and infantilising to refer to me that way. And sexist. What do you think the likelihood is that he'd have referred to a man, even a young man, that way? Not very strong. The chances of him referring to a man my age that way? Close to zero.

This guy was wierd and creepy in general - I have very curly hair, and he asked if he could have a lock of it. As in, just cut off one individual curl and keep it as a souvenir? Oh, no, that's not wierd and creepy at all. (Rolls eyes) I mean, I understand that my hair type (curly, but very soft, and naturally tending to fall into the kind of distinct curls most people only get through artificial means) is unusual, but still, to ask if he could cut off a bit of my hair? WTF?

It's guys like that who make me really appreciate all the men I have to interview who aren't creepy wierdos. I just did a pair of interviews last week and both guys were lovely, and they're rock stars - if they can manage to be polite and civilised, what's builder/architect guy's excuse?

Monday, October 04, 2010

My photography is getting better! Check out the latest set.

(I'm going to post to Flickr from now on - will upload the Arch Enemy pics at some point, they came out well too. Angela is super cool - so great to see a really strong, asskicking woman fronting a metal band, and not doing it in a bikini.)

Although this isn't at all the best shot (blurry, taken from far away) I really love it because it sums up the whole feeling of the show.

Now these are great shots.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Oh, Cosmo…

It was always a bit silly, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t always this bad. Or maybe I’m just remembering it with rose tinted glasses because I started reading it when I was 13 and didn’t have enough life experience to realize how stupid it was.

Check out the latest article. Which addressed Breast Cancer Awareness Month by…discussing ways to get men to pay attention to your boobs. Um, isn’t the answer to this question as simple as “be in the room with a straight man”? OK, so I’m oversimplifying and attraction is a complicated thing, but still. It’s really not that hard for a woman to get men to look at her boobs. Really, if a man is at all attracted to you, he’s probably going to be more than willing to give your boobs plenty of attention.

So why, then, do we need a huge article full of what are apparently tips to get your boyfriend/husband/random UPS guy to go “OMG, you have boobs, that’s so hot!”? They’re boobs. They accomplish that just by existing. They don’t need a PR campaign.

There’s also the weirdness of responding to a disease that causes many women to lose their breast and, you know, die, by reminding everyone that boobs apparently exist as toys for men to play with. Notice that all the tips are about ways to make sure that your boyfriend/husband enjoys your boobs, not that you enjoy them. (Seriously, people, hot pasta sauce on the nipples? Ouch!)

I’ve always had weird feelings about all this because I’m kind of on the busty side. So in my experience the idea of having to go out of your way to persuade men to pay attention to your boobs sounds completely ludicrous. It’s like “10 tricks to get your child to eat ice cream” – no tricks necessary, this will pretty much happen by itself. Most of the time the real trick is how to stop men from focusing on your boobs when you’d rather they didn’t.

It’s a weird position that I’m in relative to the media attitude towards boobs, because I’m bisexual, and I like boobs, I really do. Trust me, straight guys – I probably check them out at least as often as you do. But there’s a level of empathy there that men don’t seem to have, for logical reasons. So, when I hear about, say, the topless coffee shops in Portland, my first thought is “ouch, second degree burns on nipples from hot, hot steam” rather than “yay boobs!”. But at the same time I can see the appeal, for a guy raised with the idea that boobs are essentially toys made just to make him happy.

Society encourages us to think of boobs as somehow separate from the woman they’re attached to, is the problem. For men this probably makes life easier – they can enjoy staring at boobs without feeling awkward, because they can turn off their awareness of the woman the boobs are attached to. But for women it creates massive cognitive dissonance, because it’s bizarre to think of part of yourself as essentially disembodied. And for women who’re bi it’s even weirder, because we have the same “stare at boobs” impulse as straight men do, but we also know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the stare.

Also, I think part of my issue is how childish the whole thing seems. I have no problem with the fact that straight men love boobs – hey, it’s very much to my advantage that they do, so I’m not complaining about that – but there’s something so juvenile about the idea that they’re encouraged to act like they’re unable to recognize the fact that the boobs are attached to a person. It creates this weird situation where men are essentially trying to get past the woman who’s in the way and is blocking their access to her boobs, and they get all whiny and petulant when said access is not granted. Which makes me think of a baby crying for it’s mommy to breastfeed it, which just isn’t very sexy at all.

Just one more example of how sexism screws things up for everyone, I guess. If a man can only relate to a woman as a collection of disembodied parts, he’s going to have a hard time forming strong, emotionally rewarding relationships. If a woman thinks of her own body as being made up of disembodied parts, sex is going to be really weird and awkward and not very satisfying. It would really be to everyone’s advantage if people would learn to appreciate boobs in a more grown up way, as part of the whole person/experience.

Yeah, not holding my breath on that one.

Friday, September 17, 2010

For any JRock fans who may be lurking...

So, I just interviewed Yoshiki yesterday, which was kind of funny timing given the explosion of arguments about health I've been reading and participating in all over the place. And it made me what extent is it ever really OK to question anyone else's decisions about their health? I mean here I am talking to this guy who's had multiple back problems and neck surgery, and he was totally upfront about the fact that he's aware that he might be risking his long term health by going back to drumming. In that kind of situation, to what extent is it anyone else's business to say, hey, are you sure that's a good idea? Is it ever OK to question the other person's decision? My feeling is no, not unless they're a family member or close friend. I mean, in some situations one can express concern, but even then you have to be careful that it comes across as "I hope you're going to be OK" rather than "do what I think is best for you".

I dunno, it was just interesting in the context of all the online arguments about weight going on right now, and the ones about women in broadcast journalism set off by the Jets players harrassing Ines Sainz (as another female reporter who often walks into male dominated, homosocial environments - yes, sometimes it is risky, but if you don't do it you're resigning yourself to a very limited career). Where's the line between reasonable concern for a fellow human being and unacceptable intrusion into someone else's life?