Friday, July 29, 2016

Band Review: Partisan

There is a Forbidden Planet remix, "Tonight", on Partisan's Soundcloud. Its pronounced techno elements make it a departure from the infectious grooves of their previous songs, which tend more toward rock anthems.

Truth be told, I prefer the rock. Songs like "Grounded" and "Pushing Up Daisies" are hard to resist. However, a new song, "Juggernaut", was recently added. While it is closer in overall sound to the earlier songs, there are some synthesized accents that do not detract.

It seems reasonable to conclude that while Partisan is already a band that knows what they're doing, that they are still learning and growing and expanding their boundaries.

Coming from Manchester, Partisan plays frequent dates in the UK but has some US dates coming up in the fall.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Band Review: The Black Tubes

I had been thinking already been thinking that The Black Tubes reminded me of The Clash before I heard the "Oi".

That doesn't exactly explain it right. There are a lot of Clash songs that cover a wider range than the five tracks I was able to find for The Black Tubes. Thinking about it further, they reminded me of Magazine as well. Together that puts us in England (The Black Tubes are from Brighton), with both early punk and post punk, but giving us a time period that it was perfectly reasonable to greet with an "Oi!" It was good to hear.

I only really heard that chorus on "PDA (Public Displays Of Affection)", but it worked. It went with the sentiments and the guitar playing and the sound.

They're a young band, but they have learned some things from the past, and they can carry that forward in a good way.

Wishing them well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Naming and understanding

I am not proud of the following story.

When I was in grade school there was a girl who I believed was mentally disabled. This did not affect my interactions with her, because we never interacted that much. Somehow we never had a class together until 10th grade. For recess, I had already been burned by girls, so except for a brief period where I got into jumping rope I was either with my small and trusted group of friends or playing basketball.

Once we got into that first class together in 10th grade, she was really clever and funny. I'd had no idea. As time went on, I came to know many people with cerebral palsy, and I started to realize that's probably what she'd had, and it had nothing to do with intelligence. I believe that one class was the only one we had together, so we were probably never destined to hang out a lot anyway, but I always felt bad that I had assumed anything about her.

Thinking about it later, I realized that when kids were making fun of special needs students - which at the time we called retarded - the way they talked and held their hands was more reflective of cerebral palsy. This was not a mockery that I participated in, but I've seen it more than once. I suspect that when the R-word was thrown around, the people who were using it weren't too careful to understand the actual challenges being faced.

On a related note, I remember being really happy to learn about Asperger's Syndrome. I wasn't happy that it existed, but there had been people where there was something different about them that I couldn't place, and suddenly it made sense. It feels like it wasn't long after that we were supposed to move away from using that term, where it became preferable to refer to being on the spectrum.

I like understanding things. Sometimes being able to attach a name to something feels like a step in that direction. Okay, someone has described it, and figured things out about it, and this is what we call it now. That's great, until some knowledge of a condition becomes a way to write off a person.

When hearing "Asperger's" means the full set of symptoms - even if you understand those symptoms accurately (which is not always the case) - then it carries a set of assumptions about limitations for that person. But there is a spectrum, and you don't know the person's abilities until they are revealed individually.

That is true for many things that are broadly categorized as disabilities. Going back to cerebral palsy, I've seen a wide range of functions for both mobility and speech. Those are pretty easy to pick up on.

There are other conditions where it's harder. For people with Brittle Bone disease or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, people often question their use of a wheelchair or a parking permit, but it's needed.

To some extent, learning more about possible conditions is helpful; these are things that can happen to people. Knowledge is not enough when there is an attitude of always wanting to be able to easily label and cast aside.

It may surface as derision when learning of a new conditions, like sensory processing disorder. "Oh boy! Everyone's disabled now!"

It may surface as impatience with individuals or attempts to meet their needs. It may appear as a polite dismissal of hearing more. Maybe naming things as we learn about them adds to that, because that moves it into the realm of disability and an able person who is not affected can choose to stop caring.

Despite that, I know that one of the most important things humans do is getting to know each other. Part of that can be "These things are hard for me, but these are the things I can do."

Everyone has things that are hard for them, and has things they can do.

When we put that together we can help each other.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I am always amazed by people who have their Myers-Briggs type in their profiles. I can't believe they even remember it.

Of course, if you think it is important, then it is probably easier to remember it. It feels like the one I see most is INTJ, which is apparently rare, so if they got that one, maybe there is more motivation to advertise it. Personally, I kind of hate personality tests.

This may seem hypocritical. People-pleaser resonated with me strongly for the 9 Personality Types, as did Physical Touch for the 5 Love Languages. Clearly I can find meaning in systems of categorization and analysis, and in understanding motivations.

Part of my annoyance is that when you are taking the tests, none of the answers are exactly right. You have to make a choice, and if over forty questions you keep leaning one way then I guess meaning can be derived, but it doesn't feel truly reflective. And I say this as someone who after getting on Facebook created quizzes for both which A-Team member and which Ramone you were. (Facebook used to be more fun.)

That feeling that it isn't really the full picture is bothersome, but what gets me more is people being stupid about it.

One of the things I am working on now is transcribing my mission journal, so many memories are coming back. There was one missionary I knew in Fresno who was really fun-loving and cute in her personality - deliberately so. Her birthday was coming up, so I worked with some other sisters to arrange a surprise birthday breakfast for her, and it was at the breakfast that I noticed that she had a really hard time acknowledging me. That seemed odd.

It later became clear that she put a lot of stock into the Hartman Personality Profile, or Color Code. She was a Yellow, motivated by fun. She had decided I was a Red, motivated by power. Someone who explained the test thought that I was a red with some yellow (she herself was a blue/white), but the birthday girl was sure I was all red, and yellows don't like reds. I guess we are too bossy. In a case like that, organizing a birthday party was just a sign of my need to control things.

My first reaction was to feel really hurt and rejected. This was made much worse when the mission had a sisters conference shortly after that, and there was a presentation on the Color Code. I did not get much out of that conference.

Looking at it now, the Color Code does not seem particularly scientific, and the red personality doesn't seem like a fit for me. I didn't even know the deal was motivated by power then. It felt like it just meant that I was loud but not fun.

Mainly, though, I felt it was pretty rotten to pigeon-hole someone and reject them so quickly just because you had read a book.

I do kind of get it. As a People Pleaser, Attention Seekers are my kryptonite. You try to gratify them by paying them attention, and it can never enough, no matter how sucked dry you get. I do sometimes find myself shutting down around particularly needy people.

At the same time, I have seen many people called attention-seekers as a way of writing them off, being told that their issue is not legitimate, and their need is not legitimate. It's easy to throw labels around as a way of negating someone. It is also wrong.

I recently listened to a webinar on yet another way of categorizing people (Changing Minds). Here the whole point was to know what other people are so you know how to approach them: for this type it's important to socialize first for a few minutes, whereas with this other type you need to get right down to business. Of course, since people do not come with labels, you need to either figure it out or know from someone else.

It all seems so unnecessary. If we are going to pay attention to people anyway, do we need to categorize it? If you are going to analyze what is important to you and how you work best, does it need an acronym?

I guess I still think it's silly. Trying to study and understand yourself and others isn't silly, but, yeah, I think the framework that gets put around it is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Odder jobs

When I wrote about writing out my job history as a story, I mentioned that I even included the earliest things like sport jobs. I did not get paid for managing the soccer and basketball teams, but for the track team I was officially keeping score, and I earned $12 a meet for that.

I also ran the clock for summer basketball, and that was a paid position. I scheduled McDonald's shifts around it, where I might have made more money just taking more shifts at the drive-through, but I liked sports, and I liked doing sports jobs.

That almost changed with umpiring Little League Softball. It was terrible.

This was a long time ago, and I know that it isn't like this anymore. This was over a decade before Mo'Ne Davis was even born. I don't know if some of the changes that have led to the players doing better have pushed out less athletic kids or if coaches are meaner - I hope it's still good for everyone. I just know that in the late '80s, based on the two games I did in this corner of the world, it was awful.

No one could really hit or pitch well. The most common thing that would happen was that there would be four balls so the batter would take a base, until that happened often enough to hit the 5 run limit per team per inning, and at that rate the games were never completed before it got called on account of dark.

That sounds really boring - and it was - but any time the monotony was broken by someone actually swinging and hitting the ball, no matter what happened, half of the parents would be mad at you, and there was no loyalty won with the parents who liked the call.

It sucked. There's really no other word. That being said, the guy I was doing it with kept doing it, so he obviously hated it a lot less.

That wasn't the best career fit for me, so I believe that not taking any more game assignments was a good choice, but I don't regret trying it. It is at least an interesting memory for me.

A more interesting story for me is the job I didn't get.

I always needed more money when I was in college. It didn't matter that I took time off to work; college was expensive and it was still much better then than it is now. Ways I earned money while there included working in the dorm cafeteria the first few years and the Science library my senior year, working at the Customer Service booth at the Albertsons on 18th & Chambers, and occasionally participating in lab experiments. I also applied for a lot of jobs that I did not get, and one of those was stand up comedian.

It was a bar that had live music, and they wanted four fifteen minute sets a night to give the band a break. I auditioned for the manager in the bar, but in the middle of the day when it was closed.

She really liked me at the audition. I think it was my first time doing it. I have done stand up routines at various talent shows, but that came later. For this I did pretty well. I realized as I was saying it that some jokes needed fine-tuning, but still she laughed and enjoyed me and it was great.

She did want me to audition again with new material, because I was geared more toward college students, and the main clientele here was actually truckers. You may think of Eugene as a college town, but outside of the immediate vicinity of the campus, it kind of isn't. I agreed to develop some material and come back, but she called me almost right away and it wasn't going to work out.

There was cash payment, but also a bar allotment. I don't drink, and could not have legally then anyway. She was going to see if they could pay a little more cash to compensate, but it turns out that my mere presence in the bar would have been an issue because of that whole minor thing. You can be there as a performer (including strippers), but only while performing. As it is important to be in tune with the crowd by being able to observe and listen, it again just wasn't a good fit.

I don't feel horrible about it, and it certainly wasn't something I would have wanted for a career, but it would have been a fun thing to have on my resume.

It's all been pretty conventional since then.

Did you know that I once spent a day cleaning 3-D glasses for a special train exhibit and preview for the Jim Carrey Christmas Carol?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Band Review: Boy from the Crowd

Boy from the Crowd is a London-based duo who plays a brand of rock that pulls from punk, blues, and the garage rock of the '70s.

In their own words, "One of the things that makes rock ’n’ roll great is its little imperfections..." They bring this into their own music with feedback and distortion, giving a roughness to the sound.

That may be best heard in "All I Need", but they have also recorded a single of "Johnny B. Goode". Hearing how they handle such a familiar tune gives a good idea of the band's aesthetic.

It would still not be complete without listening to "Where the Bees Come to Die", an instrumental inspired by the environment and man's relationship with it. By eliminating they typically hard-edged vocals, it shows a different side of the band.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Band Review: Jesse Quin

Jesse Quin is the bass player in Keane, and his own music was recommended some time ago by his bandmate, drummer Richard Hughes.

There is a lot to explore. Quin describes himself as "Amateur musician for hire", and gets a fair amount of jobs (calling the "amateur" into question). He has also played with Mt. Desolation, The Wedding Band, Laura Marling, and Jesse Quin & The Mets. For the purposes of this review, I have focused on his solo work, as found on Soundcloud.

"Still Life" opens up very quietly, softly winding its way into your consciousness. As personal and individual as it begins, it grows into something united and universal.

That pattern probably makes "Still Life" the most ambitious of the three tracks. "Another Year" has some similarities in mood, but then it becomes interesting to compare it, and then to compare the much more techno "Thousand Mile Stare".

The overwhelming feeling is a sense of intimacy. There are so many things that Quin can do, and so many places where he can fit it, but there is also this, just him, engaging peacefully in a beautiful way.