Side Effects of Mask Use — Can Potentially Make Wearer Really, Really Mean

A few days ago, a video surfaced of a woman in a California location of Trader Joe’s, being confronted by customers and staff for not having a mask on.

Los Angeles County has had a hardcore mandatory mask bylaw in place since May 15th; masks are required by all persons outside of their homes. Exemptions are in place for children under 2 and people unable to wear a mask due to health issues.

The video starts as the woman is yelling at a crowd of people that she has health issues and her doctor has advised her to not wear a mask. The crowd seems not to believe her. She throws down her basket as staff escort her from the store.

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Got Blog? Yes, Some People Still Read Blogs

It’s a weird old world we’re living in these days, especially online where traditional forms of media are falling behind in favour of social media, and the news sites that still exist care more about clicks and views than producing interesting content.

I realized recently that much of what I read on an average day is often a rehash of another story or article from a different site, likely posted a couple of days before. And even then, a lot of what I’m coming across (aside from local, breaking news) is just variations on the same theme. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of truly original content out there.

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Musings, May 6, 2019 — Hail Satan!, Special, Hollywood, How to Be Alone

I’m going to try this whole Musings idea again. Just because I want to keep track of the media I’m consuming in a more concrete way, but also to share my thoughts on things that interest me.

At the Movies

Hail Satan!
This documentary by filmmaker Penny Lane follows members of the Satanic Temple (not to be confused with the original Church of Satan created by Anton LaVey) in their fight for religious freedom as well as the separation of church and state. They’ve taken on various campaigns but the most well-known is the one to have statues of the ten commandments removed from state capitols, or in the name of religious freedom, to have a statue of Baphomet erected next to the ten commandments. (Turns out all those stone ten commandment statues were erected as a promotional stunt for the Charlton Heston film back in 1956.) Tensions arise when this group that started out as three individuals grows to tens of thousands of members, and the necessary organizational structure cannot accommodate rogue members calling for the assassination of the president. Sadly, this is one of those preaching to the choir movies as the people who really need to see it won’t make the effort to do so.

TV Party Tonight

Special
We dug this Netflix series by comedian Ryan O’Connell. Each of the eight episodes clocks in around 15 minutes so it never overstays its welcome, but instead delivers its message in a fun and succinct manner. Outstanding performance by Jessica Hecht as Ryan’s mother, who has the hardest time letting her disabled son finally go off on his own into the world. Except when he calls her to come do all the stuff for him. Also, Olivia, Ryan’s boss (played by Marla Mindelle), comes across as a cold bitch, but is way wiser that she lets on.

Hollywood
As in Hooray for. We recently finished working our way through a 13-part series about the silent film industry, from the stars and directors to the stunt people and camera/effects crews. The series aired originally in 1980, and includes interviews with Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore, who, in her 80s looked almost exactly as she did in her 20s, except with glasses. I’m probably the last silent film fan to have discovered this series but it was so informative regarding the process of movie-making during that time.

Sheryl’s Bookshelf

How to Be Alone
Lane Moore
I nabbed this originally thinking it was a book on psychology and self-acceptance, but it turns out Moore is a writer, comedian, and musician who escaped a troubled home riddled with FLEAs (frightening lasting effects of abuse), and is just trying to find healthy relationships, both in terms of friendship and romance, that don’t trigger issues from her past. The writing is slightly too meandering train-of-though for me, but I empathize with Moore’s life situation, although it does feel disingenuous for a writer to claim they have nobody to spend Christmas with and then include hundreds of people in the acknowledgements.

More Thoughts on Marie Kondo… and Sheet Folding

I’ve now watched all of the episodes of the Marie Kondo series on Netflix, and I’ve been reading many of the reviews and articles that the show has spawned in the media, and there are a few things that are just not jiving with me…

  • In the de-cluttering of a whole house, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on folding clothes and arranging stuff in drawers — how is it that everything beyond clothes, books, papers, and sentimental items falls into one category? Spices, power tools, and computer cables are all together? This is the case in Kondo’s books as well, and it always felt weird to me, especially since people tend to buy things like cosmetics and food with a similar “instant gratification” mentality that they have to clothes and books.
  • Perhaps there’s more that we’re missing in the process, due to editing of the video, but de-cluttering is, first and foremost, based on hard logic. Does this fit? If not, get rid of it. Does it need repairs, re-dying, or a complete overhaul to be usable and is there a reasonable expectation that the person will actually make those repairs? Will it honestly be used again (for instance a book that was read once and not particularly enjoyed)? I didn’t really see this process, nor did Kondo really seem to promote it, favouring her “spark joy” philosophy that really allows people to keep all the broken, ripped, faded, ratty, and useless crap in their lives just because they still love it.
  • Kondo has softened her “just get rid of it stance” a bit for the series, with many reviews emphasizing the fact that she seems pretty laid back about not judging people for their stuff or wanting to keep it. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s not exactly the same sentiment the book was based on.
  • The idea of expressing gratitude to your belongings can seem a bit kooky at first, but it’s actually something we should be doing all the time, not just as we’re getting rid of an item. This is far easier to do when you are able to pare your belongings down to things that you love using or having around you, so you experience joy every day because of the things in your life.
  • I screamed out loud in horror as I watched Kondo put a fitted sheet on the floor in order to demonstrate how to fold it. What the actual fucking fuck? Two thoughts immediately came into my head during this segment; first, generations of mothers and grandmothers making that “tsk” noise, both at Kondo’s placing a clean sheet on the floor (!!!) and the fact that most people don’t know how to fold a fitted sheet; and second, could I somehow turn this into an opportunity to offer classes to teach people how to properly fold a fitted sheet (that didn’t involve throwing it on the floor, or using a flat surface at all… Yes, I can actually do this. Yes, I am a witch). My method involves a puppet show, if that helps…
  • In the spirit of Miriam (“Don’t say ‘like’, dear, it makes you look ignorant”) Margoyles, I would like to offer a language de-cluttering course. I would offer this for free to the woman in episode one, who dropped 4 or 5 “likes” into every sentence. Cluttered speech is as bad as a cluttered home.
  • De-cluttering is well and good but would be mostly unnecessary if people didn’t feel the need to buy so much stuff in the first place. Folding shirts nicely in response to a shopaholic/hoarding problem is a bit like sticking a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. Dealing with the psychological why of accumulation doesn’t make for terribly enthralling TV, of course, unless you hired someone to follow the shopaholic to the mall and jump out at them from behind the sales racks yelling, “You don’t need that, Barb! You know you don’t need that! Put it back!” (Yes, you’re damned right I want to host this show.)
  • I was also a bit disappointed at the follow-up in terms of what the guests were meant to do with their stuff once they decided it no longer sparked joy. Some episodes showed participants dropping off items at local charities, but not all. And there was no point in Kondo’s sorting process, in any of the episodes, where we clearly saw participants sorting stuff into sections of donate/trash/sell. I presume this did happen, but it should have been more prominent. (And the guy with the massive collection of sneakers could likely have sold many of the pairs in his collections as “vintage” and made back some of the $10,000 of debt he accumulated buying all those sneakers he never wore.)

I binge-watched most of the series one afternoon when I was immobilized by a migraine, and it mostly left me feeling really dissatisfied. To be fair, I did go refold all the clothes in my dresser drawers, but I don’t feel that Kondo’s system is truly comprehensive in terms of a start-to-finish whole-house purge that deals with both the reasons for the clutter and what to do with the stuff you’re getting rid of.

And I’m happy to demonstrate to her how to properly fold a fitted sheet while standing up anytime she’d like to learn.

Does Retail Therapy Equate a Visit to a Sex Worker?

Hear me out.

Like half the Western world, I spent New Year’s Day glued to Netflix watching the Marie Kondo series. Not because I have any kind of New Year’s resolution to get organized — seriously, Marie Kondo wishes her house was as organized as mine — but out of sheer curiosity.

Known for her books and YouTube tutorials, the organizing expert has a new series on NetFlix that isn’t that far off from those old episodes of Hoarders. She drops by, gasps at people’s mountains of stuff, tells them to throw away anything that doesn’t “spark joy”, and then returns a few days later to see how they’re getting along.

We only watched one episode, one called “Empty Nesters”, a couple in late middle-age who live in a house that had belonged to one of their families and in which more than three generations worth of belongings had been amassed. But it was clear that most of the clutter actually belonged to the couple in question. Dad had walls full of boxes of baseball cards, and Mom was a collector of Christmas decorations and, like many people with shopping/hoarding habits, a good three or four closets full of clothing.

In one of the interview segments, she revealed that she indulged in “retail therapy” on occasions when she was angry at her husband; that going to the mall and spending money was her way of getting back at him for whatever transgression had occurred.

As she cleaned out her closet and piled everything together — Kondo’s system requires participants to amass everything of one type of item (clothes, books, etc.) in one place before beginning to sort — it was clear that the client had piles of clothing still bearing the original tags. As she went through the mountain of garments, she tried on recently purchased clothes that didn’t even fit her properly. Why would someone buy something that wasn’t the correct size?

She claimed to like all the clothes she had amassed, but this caused her to have a hard time organizing and disposing of items, as everything that we saw her sort through seemed to “spark joy” for her. (Psst… “spark joy” is not the same as “I like this, it’s nice.”)

But let’s go back to her comment about her shopping being some kind of revenge on her husband. Now, to be clear, there was no allusion or insinuation of her husband hiring sex workers. It wasn’t that kind of revenge. But she obviously wanted something pretty and cheap to fill some kind of void or assuage her hurt or anger. For roughly the same amount of money a man would spend on a sexual encounter, she could do a haul at the mall. She came home with clothing that didn’t fit and didn’t suit her personal style (which is mostly the case when hiring a sex worker; it’s about fantasy, not reality) and that mostly appeared to be throw-away fast fashion items — there was no evidence of some hardcore spending on Birkin bags or Dior gowns — and I suspect that once she got the things home, she felt guilty and didn’t want to face having to return them, so they got jammed into her over-packed closets and ignored or forgotten about.

The whole process was more about the actual shopping and buying than any intention of keeping and wearing. The joy, the high, the mental and emotional orgasm, as it were, occurred in the store as she was handing over the cash or credit card.

It made me joke that every mall entrance should have one of those clothing charity bins, so that people making “retail therapy”-style purchases of things that they knew they didn’t actually want or need could just shove the stuff into the donation bin on the way to their car, and never have to take the guilt-inducing garments home at all.

Note that I’m not knocking sex workers; they provide an important service. And while there are obviously sex workers with clients who visit them regularly, a lot of the encounters are fairly anonymous. There’s no commitment involved after the fact, just as with shopping addicts/clothes hoarders, there is no level of commitment to the purchases after they are bagged and taken home, especially if they carry the stigma of a purchasing high the person would rather forget.

The whole episode, although especially the clothing segments, made me wonder how we, as a society, had gotten to this point. Because this lady with her clothing hoard is not alone. The show didn’t get into any deep aspect of the why of the client’s clutter, and unlike Hoarders or similar shows where there is a therapist on site, that’s not really Kondo’s schtick, but it makes you wonder why or how it ever got that bad. Does the client have personal issues that need to be addressed by a professional, or is she just typical of a society that buys way too much stuff?

We all make the occasional bad purchase; something didn’t fit the way we thought it would, or it didn’t become as much of a go-to item as we anticipated, but I suggest that three massive closets full of cheap clothing, much of it still with the tags, is indicative that the high and release of handing over cash for a jacket might be similar to the high and release of handing over cash for sex.

Finally, with regards to Kondo’s trademark “spark joy” mantra; while it’s a fantastic catchphrase, I find it somewhat disingenuous when it comes to actual sorting and organizing. Just because you like something, or find it attractive, or even if derive joy from it, doesn’t mean that you have to keep it, or even own it in the first place. I think too many people following Kondo’s system use the sparking of joy as an excuse to keep lots of crap they’d likely be better off without.

The Introvert’s Guide to Killing Media Clutter

door sign

How much media clutter do you experience each day? A few months back, that old guesstimate that we each see around 5000 pieces of advertising each day was revised to be around 300, which makes more sense but is still way too much. Turns out our brains only absorb about half of that… but what if you could make your life almost “media clutter” free?

As a curmudgeonly introvert, I don’t want to see ads, especially for stuff I have no interest in. I don’t want to deal with flyers, catalogues or emails with suggestions of stuff I might like. I know what I like, thanks, and can usually use the old Googlebox to find it for myself.

Eradicating media clutter not only has environmental benefits, but with so much less “noise” coming in, it allows for a more tranquil life.

Working from home, the only time I now encounter advertising I have not intentionally sought out is when I’m on the street (billboards, bus shelters) or when I ride transit. I love, love, love not being inundated with ads for crap I don’t want or need. Here’s how I did it…

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Up The Women – Lady-Positive TV

psychobitches

A few days ago, I came across an article on Bust that made me terribly sad. The article was about how women are mostly left out of Superbowl programming and the best we can hope for, if we don’t like football, is a selection of assorted oddities on other channels, including a marathon of Law & Order SVU (really, on Superbowl Sunday, you want to watch multiple shows about sex and violence and rape and other triggering stuff?), Downton Abbey on PBS, and – the saddest thing I’ve ever read on the Internet ever – that “Ghost will play multiple times on E!”

Ghost? The worst movie of all time is the best that someone could come up with on a day when women are relegated to the small TV in the bedroom? What is your problem, American TV programmers?

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Book Review – Stitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion

stitchedup_coverStitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion
Tansy E. Hoskins
Pluto Press © 2014

Many books over the past few years have detailed the myriad wrongs of the fashion industry. Sweatshops, environmental damage, classism, racism, sizism, misogyny, not to mention the overall affect of rampant consumerism and debt on Western culture – all of these things come up time and again. And we read them, feel bad and then sooth our bad feelings by going shopping.

Tansy E. Hoskins’ Stitched Up looks at all of these and more, complete with extensively researched statistics and facts that will make anyone stop and revisit the idea of buying new clothes ever again. Hoskins examines the ownership of high-end fashion companies and the profits they make – given most high-end brands are made in the same sweatshops as fast fashion items, the corporate (and personal profit) can be astronomical. This is on the backs of underpaid workers, using processes that destroy water supplies, or using lethal chemicals (the exposure to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas in Bhopal, India in 1984 occurred when the chemical – which had been used on cotton crops – was left in unmaintained tanks when Union Carbide abandoned their factory). Hoskins’ account of the process to slaughter crocodiles for Hermes bags is shocking and horrific.

The overall theme of corporations creating demand to influence consumers to buy things they don’t need plays out in other chapters as well, as Hoskins’ demonstrates the way that women are made to feel too fat, not pretty enough, or even the wrong skin colour in order to sell merchandise. Fashion companies need to continually sell new goods; many chain stores now put out new “collections” every week instead or 2 or 4 times a year; everything plays to our insecurities, even if women of colour or larger sizes are not represented on the pages of magazines.

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The 2-Song Rule (aka. Turn Your Goddamned Phone Off and Watch the Show!)

savages_notice

In 1991, I stood in the middle of the Guvernment nightclub, house lights blazing, the crowd so silent you could hear a pin drop, as Blixa Bargeld, lead singer of the German Industrial band Einturzende Neubauten screamed at an audience member for filming the performance. Back then, pre-Internet and pre-Smartphones, bands had a genuine fear of people filming and bootlegging their shows for profit.

The guy in question was technically filming the show “for profit”; he was John Dubiel, a local videographer and curator of the infamous Industrial Video Show, a monthly event that showed, well, industrial videos, from official band videos, to old Irving Klaw S&M footage, to blazing robot wars, to the concert footage that Dubiel would film himself as he travelled around North America to attend concerts.

In some cases, he was performing a public service, filming and showing bands that wouldn’t or couldn’t come to Canada. I once travelled with Dubiel to Detroit to see Foetus, an artist who refused to come to Canada because of Customs issues. Other than the few of us from Toronto, hunkered in the balcony of St. Andrew’s Hall in downtown Detroit, keeping Dubiel out of view of security, Toronto Foetus fans would have to make due with the footage Dubiel shot that night. It would be their only chance, in that era anyway, to see Foetus “live”.

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She Works Hard for the Money

In my last post (really? August 24th? Whoops.) I ranted on about how bloggers shouldn’t solicit or accept payment for endorsed posts on their own blogs. And I still firmly believe that. But there is a way for bloggers, especially those with a specific area of expertise, to work with companies and corporations, and that is as a consultant. The oft-touted theory of “I deserve to be paid for my time and effort” doesn’t ring true when you’re being paid to say nice things about a product on your own blog, but when a company comes to you, asking for your help with something they’re producing, you most absolutely deserve to be paid a fair price for your work.

I bring this up now because I have been contacted, yet again, by a corporate entity that expected me to “help” them for free.

The person in question represented a very well-known show on the Food Network. The host of this show has a product line and endorsement deals. Their show is aired internationally. It is safe to presume that the major players involved are making a decent amount of money.

The request I received was for me to call the show’s researcher (long distance) and advise on some places in the Toronto area that would be appropriate for the show to visit on an upcoming trip here. I am familiar with the show only peripherally; I watched part of an episode once and didn’t much care for it, and since we cancelled our cable about six months ago, I haven’t watched anything on the Food Network at all. So I calculated how much research I would have to do to learn about the show and the types of places they covered, as well as how much work I’d have to do to come up with a short list of places that would be appropriate, and I replied via email stating a rate for my consulting services.

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