Why This Internet Thing Works – For Me

I first got online in 1995, when AOL was sending those CDs to your house like you had joined a Columbia House for the Internet. I never officially learned to type (since I didn’t get that in school), but I was 15 and bored, so I got into chat rooms, and learned my own way of keeping up with the conversation without writing in l33t speak, or similar. That skill is one I still use today.

When my parents got divorced 2 years later, the friends I made online served as my escape from the weirdness in my house. I even ended up meeting one. I soon moved on to things like LiveJournal and OpenDiary, and made more friends and wrote out the very corniest, angsty, teen diatribes in my various blogs. (I think MySpace was the worst – I had teenage angst beyond my teen years).

But it wasn’t until I moved to Podunk, SC, 8 years ago, that I really learned how valuable this whole internet community really is for me. I didn’t pay much attention to formal blogs until I read a piece in B*tch about Carmen Sognonvi and her blog Racialicious. It just so happened that earlier that week I had read in the local paper about 3 teenage boys who had been arrested for “lynching” someone in a nearby town. (The SC definition of lynching is any act of violence by two or more people against another, regardless of race. This was not the definition I was familiar with.) That story shocked me, and I knew that I needed to have some outlet to read and talk with people like myself, than those I encountered when I first moved here.

From there, I found SO many blogs and I learned SO much. I never took any critical feminist or race theory classes in college (in part because they weren’t offered), and a lot of the discussions I stumbled upon were completely new. In a new place, semi-friendly place, the internet became my link to the “outside world”.

I devoured Racialicious, and from there found zuky (who’s now on tumblr) and resistance and SepiaMutiny and brownfemipower and shakesville and nezua and a bunch of others, really. Too many to count – many no longer write. I learned about intersectionality, I found out that there were waves in feminism (and that I am somewhere around wave 2.5 with womanist leanings) – oh yeah – I found out there’s something called womanism and hip-hop feminism.

I witnessed lots of disagreements – this is the internet! There were all kinds (feminist ones, anti-racist ones, womanist ones, scandals centering around one person or another [Marcotte, Schwyzer <I&II>, DiFranco, the Walkers]. But I saw how people helped each other pick up the pieces and regroup, and turn out the lights or move on as the case was at different times.

In the mean time, my life changed. My sister went to law school and took critical theory classes and we discussed academic terminology I still wasn’t fully familiar with, but now I knew the concepts they referred to (more than just those I’d already lived through). I went through all kinds of weird stuff at work, and gained crazy responsibility with no training or experience, and I heard about a podcast that sounded interesting. I don’t even remember how Blacking It Up appeared on my radar, but it did.

I didn’t have the energy to maintain a blog anymore, but listening to a podcast was just my speed, and TWiBIU hit the spot. I never could listen live, so when Google+ came along, and the community from the chat room migrated there, I joined. It was my only connection to a huge group of folks that I understood on multiple levels. An online family. I began listening less regularly over the last year, but still connect with folks on G+ on a regular basis. But the Trayvon Martin verdict last year had me shook, and though they were on hiatus at the time, TWiB did several live weekend shows. I listened and cried for two days, along with the many who called in. And if I never listen to another show, if I never get on G+ again, the community I felt a part of those days were worth it.

Living where I live, people often make comments about “that gay marriage thing”, or how “they’re letting boys in the girls’ bathroom in California”, or how the country is going to hell because of Obamacare. I spend a lot of time actively ignoring the news when I am around other people because I don’t want to get pulled into discussions I know will quickly devolve. My diplomacy skills have grown by leaps and bounds, but it’s still a tightrope walk.

Even the brown people here are conservative. I work with a black guy who has some serious issues with gays, an Indian guy who has issues with the poor, and a Mexican guy who doesn’t understand why poor people have kids. They’re all in their early 50s, but this is common even for young people.

So the online community I have fashioned for myself, while it has changed and always will, is an enhancement of my home. My refuge. And my connection to the world. It challenges me, teaches me, makes me laugh, cry, think, and sometimes even change.

I am more aware, more accepting, and more educated than I was. I am better. Because of this internet thing.

sytycd ’11: Sasha [is] Fierce

see? Fierce. Always.

I haven’t really had much to say about this season, even though there are very good dancers on this season.  The judges have been kind of hit-or-miss on hip-hop, as per usual.  Tonight, Neil Patrick Harris guest judges, and I normally love him.  But I couldn’t help getting pissed at all the judges when they said that Tadd outdanced Comfort in a hip hop piece.  It was a complete lie.  They danced to Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now”, which is completely hard-hitting, as we all know.  Comfort hit everything just the way she should, with clean lines, and sharp movements.  Tadd, on the other hand, didn’t finish anything.  He smoothed things out when they should’ve been sharper, and generally did not impress.  How anyone could possibly think he had outdanced Comfort is simply beyond me.  Except that I remember the judges have always been harder on her than any other excellent dancer on the show.

But the moment that made the whole season worth it for me was watching Sasha and Twitch.  Christopher Scott of LXD  fame choreographed a hip hop piece about relationship passion to Misty Blue sung by Dorothy Moore.  Sasha stayed incredibly in sync with Twitch to the point that it seemed as though we all were just looking into a personal moment between the two of them.  Everything was tight & crisp where it needed to be, and smooth and sexy at just the right places.  It was so good, even the judges couldn’t miss it.

Sasha has moved into fave position for me now.  Previously my fave was Melanie – who is still quite awesome and did incredibly well with Pasha tonight.  I still really like her.  But Sasha shines.  She’s a contemporary dancer, and -fyi- being black does not mean you can automatically do hiphop.  But she’s done it well a couple times.  And she’s amazing at her solos and other genres as well.  Not to mention how close she is with her sister.  That gives me all kinds of warm fuzzies.  Having a sister as a best friend, I love to see other girls getting along so well with their own sisters.

The top ten for this season, in order of my preference to win, are:
Sasha
Melanie
Mitchell
Jess
Marko
Jordan
Ricky
Clarice
Caitlynn
Tadd

Clarice also came out very well with Robert for the Bollywood number.  I didn’t even really remember her being on the show, honestly.  Tonight she finally made her mark.

So Please folks – vote Sasha!

BET Awards ’11: This Time Mary can Sing!

I am SO happy Mary J took singing lessons, or whatever she did to be able to perform live.  The first time I saw her singing well on stage was about…. 4 yrs ago now?  Y’all remember how she used to be: pure studio artist.  Now she’s singing with Anita Baker – who has always been the real deal.  Her voice is still like butter.  I love Sweet Love. (“With all my heart I love you baby..”)  Anyway, Mary did a lovely opening, and she looks good.  An all-white, skin-tight catsuit with not a hint of anything out of place – 40 is SO the new 30.

Kevin Hart being the host seems apropos of nothing to me, since I’m not a fan and I have no idea if he’s even doing anything right now.  I must say though that his entrance to ‘6 Foot, 7 Foot’ with a group of child steppers is the most impressive things I’ve ever seen him do.  He kept up with those awesome kids.  (He was also about 6inches taller than them…)  He’s right about Ne-Yo though, he needs to leave the hat on.  Hart hit Busta, Jamie, and Puff in all the right places.

Taraji presents Best Male R&B Artist to Chris Brown.  That remake of MJ’s Human Nature straight up sucks.  I like some of his music, but he’s about to go in the R. Kelly stack of musicians that I cannot financially support do to poor life choices.

PS – note to ALL tv shows: I don’t care about what people are live-tweeting.  I don’t Twitter.  I don’t care about what people are saying on FB unless they’re my own friends. (sometimes, not even then)  But if I’m watching your show, I don’t need internet updates.  wtf?

Wait. WHAT?!? “Reed Between the Lines” with Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm Jamal Warner looks like it could actually be good.  Like a “Cosby Show” for the 21st c.  I only worry because it’s on BET.  This is the kind of show that should be on network tv. Continue reading

all the single ladies?

how come only Stacey is smiling?

Apparently I’ll watch anything with Stacey Dash in it.  Even if Lisa Ray is in it too.  I am watching Single Ladies, y’all.  It’s also probably because it’s summer, there nothing else on, and I live in the South so it’s still 80 degrees at 11pm and NObody wants to be outside in this weather.

I DVR it, because there’s too much I have to fast forward through to watch it live.  Basically I only care about Val (Dash) and her store.  I don’t like Lisa Ray on GP so that was already a hit against her.  Then her character is a former video…vixen…with no appreciable skills, looking for a rich man to keep her in the lifestyle to which she wants to become accustomed.  IMO, her only redeeming trait is being friends with Chilli.  I didn’t have anything against the girl who plays April.  You know I actually thought she was black for a second?  Yeah.  I was fooled.  Then it just started seeming to me as though she was trying to be the stereotype.  And I can’t tell if it’s the actress or the character.  But I still tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.  Until she said she was cheating on her husband.  Her husband spends much of his time singing her praises and talking about how much he loves her, and she’s cheating?  So now I ffwd through all the scenes between them.

Val is ok, though.  She’s the center of the show, but not always the center of attention.  She makes some bad decisions, but at least she’s a designer and into fashion and pretty awesome in that way.  So far, she doesn’t spend every episode centering the world around herself, or doing highly embarrassing things.  So I like her.  She is sometimes a little willy-nilly with the cookie, but that’s fine for VH1.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

No one will ever make a show about my life (unless it’s a sitcom – my life could actually totally be a sitcom),  and I don’t expect tv people to really be trying to…That said, who are these people that they’re making shows about?  Is this real on any level or pure fiction?  Cuz it feels like PURE fiction.  And if so, that’s fine.  But then we can all be clear.

The drama seems so stereotypical and forced at some points, with the obligatory gay friend there to give some tough love with a snap.  I guess I’m just disappointed because Queen La is producing the show, and this sucker is no Living Single.  Not in the least.

Is this one of those times where you support the crap so that next time they make something better?

media consumption

I’ve been watching a lot of tv in the last year – although I couldn’t actually tell you what, now that I think about it.  (Other than Bones.)  For some reason, thinking more at work makes me want to think less when I get home.  But I think I’m reaching a better equilibrium now that it’s summer and I’m getting more used to my job.

I’ve also been consuming more online media.  I’ve been a fan of This Week In Blackness for about 2 years, now, but just became aware of Blacking It Up this spring.  It is now a part of my life.  Most of the time I am totally cool with Elon and the crew, and it’s definitely a good time, with a bit of cool analysis and some relevant news interspersed with random music.  It’s where I first heard this:

Yeah.  That’s real.

Other than BIU, I’m basically checking the R, rr, shakesville, and Persephone every day.  Often multiple times a day.  Because I still live in Podunk.  And there’s this really annoying guy at work who ends up requiring me to take a break after I interact with him.  I was going to the NYT for my daily news, but when they put up the paywall, that was it.  Now it’s the Atlantic, Salon, CNN, GOOD, NPR, and other random places – still supplemented by the NYT.  Oh how I miss full access.

I’m trying to get back into writing more, so we’ll see how that goes.  In the meantime, check out my fave places on the web.  They’re cool.

new seasons

So.  In the last 6 weeks, my workgroup went from 7 people, to 8 people, to 5 people.  So.  Yeah.

I’ve got a lot more going on now, and in the last 2 days, I’ve completely taken apart the inlet system of our GC trying to figure out why we’ve got a 4 minute later retention time shift on two different columns, using two different methods/samples…  But it’s most likely a pressure controller issue that has actually been causing problems for a while.  It’s just been misdiagnosed.  /techspeak

Actually, one guy who resigned from our group would like to come back.  And I really want him to.  But HR is making things difficult.  And he’s only been gone a week.  Stress is definitely present in my life – even though I don’t feel really stressed, I know that I am.   I’m figure I’ll just get more grey white (my hair doesn’t do grey – it goes straight to white) hair out of this.

But it’s fall here in South Kak, and things are starting to look up in other ways.  A friend of mine just emerged victorious from her doctoral defense, a god-daughter of mine will turn 2 this week, and next week I’ll use up my last 2 vaca days before I get 3wks.  Nice.  [I just hafta keep reminding myself not to think of those folks in our European sister company that start with 6 wks of vaca.]

Of course, fall also means new shows to be watching for.  Several have intrigued me enough to watch, with varying results.
Nikita ~ I watched the Peta Wilson show on USA, so the story has a soft-spot with me.  I like Maggie Q and am overall digging the show – although I’m not sure if it really shoulda been called “Nikita”.
Undercovers
~ Hello, Kodjoe.  And a lady lead with hair like mine?  So far, so good.  Or maybe so far, so super-sweet.  I like this show, but I’d like a little more from it.
No Ordinary Family
~ Live-action Incredibles.  Why didn’t Disney think of this sooner?  Heroes has been crappy for three seasons!  And where is the sequel to the first movie already???
The Event
~ Seriously.  Does everything Blair Underwood is in have to suck SO bad??  Maybe the Losties are filling their void with this, but I have to pass.  I don’t have the patience to wait for it to get good.  This is no MSCL.  Or even Firefly.  Or even Dollhouse.  (I might watch Mike and Molly now that I won’t be wasting my time on this…)
Running Wilde
~ I have waited this long to see Felicity again, and she’s a mom now?  With a daughter named Puddle??  Even though I have to suspend all disbelief to watch this show, I like it.  Or maybe I just liked Felicity.  But I’m still watching. 
Hawaii Five-0
~ I skipped this at first, just cuz I’m tired of sequels.  But when I saw Mick St. John (isn’t that the coolest name?  Moonlight was hotter than anyone gave them credit for – and ahead of its time) I had to go ahead and check it out.  Good action, nice Daniel Dae Kim.  Really bad choice on the Caan boy though, IMO.  He’s ugga-mugga in my book.  Gives me the skeevy heebie-jeebies.  And there’s not enough pidgin for me to wax nostalgic about the island.
Hellcats
~ Now.  I lurve cheer.  I can listen to cheerified words – a la cheer-tocracy, cheer-ific, cheer-tastic, etc.  I have seen (and most likely will see) every Bring It On movie ever made.  Some more than twice.  I even like Sharpay from HSM.  I’m a freaking fan of interracial relationships on TV!  And I can’t watch this show.  Sad.  Really.

You're slippin, NBC. ABC's all over ya.

So my newly acquired shows will join the standbys of Bones, Castle, and the Mentalist.  But mostly Bones.  Because I love the Deschanels.  And Angel.  In the next few weeks we’ll see if I stick with any of the newbies, or kick them all to the curb when i get tired of them.  Right now, I’m just tired.

the hook brings you back

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
Well that’s alright because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
Well that’s alright because I love the way you lie ~ Rihanna (Love the Way You Lie)

does RiRi look like she's been crying?

I heard this song the first time a few weeks ago, and being an appreciator of RiRi’s voice, and susceptible to hooks, in general, I kinda liked it.  I’m a reluctant-at-best Em listener…so I wasn’t an actual fan of the song.  Didn’t hear the whole thing the first time – I suppose I had to get out of the car for some reason.  But the hook was most of what I heard.  Melodic and sultry, the way Rihanna is, what’s not to like?  Most of the time I’m into the music/beat of whatever anyway.  Not that I don’t appreciate great lyrical content – believe me I do.  That’s actually why I’m writing.

Because I think this song is supposed to be marketed as some kind of anthem for survivors of domestic abuse – people who “give as good as they get” in physical altercations in the relationship.

Now I know we said things, did things that we didn’t mean
And we fall back into the same patterns, same routine
But your temper’s just as bad as mine is
You’re the same as me –

The video depicts a couple that fights and makes up fiercely.  In a house that burns on the outside, but seems mostly livable on the inside.  Some folks think it does a good job of demonstrating the dysfunctionality of violent relationships.  Some folks aren’t touching that with a red apple.  Megan Fox is in it, and donated her money from the vid to a women’s shelter for domestic abuse survivors.  That’s nice.

But tonight is the first time I watched the video, and while I’m sure I’m one of the few who hadn’t seen it, I still don’t think the visual overwhelms or undoes these troublesome lines:

Next time? There won’t be no next time
I apologize, even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games, I just want her back. I know I’m a liar
If she ever tries to f****n’ leave again,
I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire –
Eminem (Love the Way You Lie)

I just can’t get over those lines.  Having Rihanna sing the hook to this seems in particular poor taste.  I could see the hook in another context, but in this one – no.  NO.  I’m under no illusions – there are relationships like the ones depicted in the video out there.  And the video doesn’t seem to glorify that life too much…  But the lyrics.

The lyrics in the verses are the meat of any song – and these verses only speak from one POV – that of the man, in power.  The lines accuse the woman  of having a similar temper/being the same way.  He begs her to stay, and admits that his promise not to be violent again is a lie.  And then threatens to kill her.

Except, since this is a one-sided tale, we get no indication that she really does give as good as she gets.  In fact, in the video, Ms. Fox does indeed lash out quite a lot – but there’s a point where it looks as though she will be raped by Mr. Monaghan.  There is no point that I remember that looked as though she would rape him.  So it seems that she has quite a good reason to leave.  Excellent even.  Maybe one side of the story and an ending where everyone burns is enough to demonstrate the awfulness of domestic violence.  I would’ve liked someone to be led away in handcuffs and someone to be shown in recovery.  But that’s just me.

Either way, this is not the kind of song I can listen to over and over.  Not something I want to hear on the radio.  And yet somehow, it’s made it to No. 1 on the BillBoard Hot 100.  Am I just officially old now – completely disgusted by lyrics about killing a partner for trying to leave a domestic abuse situation?  Or is this seriously a sucky way to ‘address’ domestic abuse?