Sunday, December 03, 2017

An Egregious Example of Rape Culture in America

We're all familiar with the name Brock Turner, right?  The POS who was arrested, tried and convicted of raping an unconscious woman?  The one that resulted in a six month sentence (because prison would damage such a sensitive snowflake with such a promising future), of which he ultimately served only three months.

Well, Brock (Piece of Shit) Turner is back in the news, appealing his conviction on the grounds that the prosecution lied about the location of the assault (behind a dumpster).  They claim the attack took place out in the open, and he wasn't trying to conceal his actions behind a dumpster.

He wasn't trying to conceal his actions, because he was doing nothing wrong.  Apparently, in his world, it's perfectly OK to rape an unconscious person...after all, she didn't say no, so it's all good, right?  I mean, she fell down right there, and didn't cross her legs while falling, so she wanted it, right?

(Where's my barf icon?)

According to CNN,
 "What we are saying is that what happened is not a crime," John Tompkins, Turner's legal adviser, told KNTV. "It happened, but it was not anywhere close to a crime."
So, they maintain that the unconscious woman had consensual sex with Brock (POS) Turner just anywhere on the ground.  IMO, they should stop after "It happened," because nothing else is relevant.

I guess Mummy and Daddy don't want their Golden Boy® to have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The judge who sentenced him to six months is currently fighting the consequences of such a blatant disregard for justice.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Humble Slip

When I was young, women and girls wore slips under their dresses and skirts.  Here is a fine example.  The half-slip was also popular and quite acceptable.

They were never supposed to show, but we all knew they were there.  In fact, we had a code...if we saw a girl at school whose slip was showing below the hem of her dress, we would tell her, "It's snowing down south."  She would immediately head for the girls' bathroom and adjust the garment so it was out of sight.

We were trained from an early age that this extra layer was necessary.
Even our dolls had them. 

They served as modesty protectors, in case one were to find oneself backlit, like Diana Spencer, in this photo that was taken before she became a Princess:
They also prevent this:  one's skirt getting caught between one's legs while walking.
I wear one, to this day.  I live in a hot climate, where the slip was probably abandoned quite early, but I have always maintained that, if something is going to get stuck to my butt when I stand up after sitting while sweaty, it is not going to be my skirt, like this unfortunate lady:
People I costume sometimes think I'm really odd, because I insist on slips, if the play is set in a time period when most women wore them, and if their character is one of those women.  The actresses think that, because the audience can't see the slip, it doesn't matter.  I beg to differ.  without the slip, the skirt will cling where it shouldn't, ride up where it shouldn't and just generally not hang correctly.

I saw a really good play yesterday, and I was asked what I thought of the costumes.  The worst thing I noticed was that the lead actress was not wearing a slip, and the play was set in the 1940s.  Considering some of the costuming I've seen on stage, that's pretty minor, but still. 

It's attention to details that separates the sheep from the goats, IMO.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ten Years Older Than God

Damn, I'm old...

Sometimes I feel even older, because my parents were old enough to be my grandparents, and their stories go back farther than most.

These days, when people talk about The Good Old Days, they are usually referring to the mid 20th Century.  My parents were born in the first decade of the 20th Century.  Both remembered the First World War, were adults during the Great Depression and just when they thought things had settled down, along came WWII, and the shit hit the fan all over again.  Dad enlisted in the RAF (though in peace time, he would have been too old).

They came from very different backgrounds.  Dad's family were middle class merchants, having a wines and spirits importing business, complete with what Hyacinth Bucket referred to as "a Royal Warrant," which was A Thing in Edwardian Britain.  During the Depression, the company went bust, but before that, they were classy enough that my grandfather got to marry the daughter of County society.  My Granny and her two sisters were known as "the Three Belles of Brecon."  Mom, on the other hand, was raised in America, born to a family that was never well-off.  Her mother died when she was 9, and she and her three siblings were shunted around from grandparents to aunts, because their father was a timberman, and spent a lot of his time in logging camps.

A story my Granny used to tell involved herself as a child, attending a party in an elegant house.  Granny loved raisins and currants, and had picked them all out of her cake to enjoy after the cake-y part.  The butler, thinking she was finished with her dessert, whisked away her plate, dried fruit and all.  She used it as a lesson...take what life brings and enjoy it, because if you save the best for last it might not be there when you are.  I always thought, "Who has a butler serving a kids' party?"  This is the same Granny who, when Dad took Mom home to England, made excuses for her by saying, "My daughter-in-law is an American, you know..." as if that covered a multitude of social indiscretions.

Mom told stories of being six and enduring cold baths, because it was supposed to toughen children up to force them to undergo such physical shocks...and being sewn into her wool "union suit" in October and having to wear it till May, no matter the weather.  A warm autumn or spring was never taken into account.  In spite of cold baths the rest of the year, nobody bathed at all (except for sponge baths) over the winter.  She started life in upstate New York and then lived in Ottawa, Ontario until her majority.

Neither had graduated from high school--Dad's education was cut short due to lack of funds, and the alternative presented to him by his father (the army) was not something that interested him.  He Ran Away to Canada, and did not return to England until after his father died.  Mom failed math, so couldn't graduate in Canada, foiling Aunt Ethel's plan for her to teach.  She went into nursing instead (the requirements were apparently much less strict in the mid 1920s than they are today), and did that until she married my dad.  Like most careers for women in those days, nursing was for single women only.  Dad had got a job in Vancouver, working for his cousin's firm, Courtauld's, where he stayed through several location transfers (Vancouver, BC to Cornwall, Ont, to Coventry, England) until 1957.

So the stories I grew up hearing span an extra generation.  From a time when not having to share a bed was a luxury for a child, let alone having one's own room.  From a time when one had a family crest engraved on one's flatware.  One's sterling flatware, mind you; not (shudder) plate.

It's no wonder I'm a little weird...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Ultimate Time Suck

I used to write, frequently.  Before Facebook, I wrote almost every day, either here or on other blogs, and I spent time reading blogs.  Since, I've been hearing people say that blogs are dead.

I am on Twitter, but rarely use it, except to troll asshole politicians (but that's another entry).  Aidan set me up an Instagram, but I don't even know what that's for.  I am on LinkedIn and Pinterest, but don't use either.  I had MySpace, back in the day, but all the twinkly GIFs wore me out.

But Facebook I took to like a duck to water.  It's the first thing I do in the morning, and the last thing at night.

I'm not into posting pictures of my dinner, or myself (all that much), but sharing memes and news articles and discussing political (and other) issues with friends and strangers is all sorts of fun.

It took me a while to figure out how to find out who all those people are who "follow" me (there are over 200 of them), without being friends, and when I did, I was surprised.  I've blocked quite a few...I'm sorry, but I don't speak any Asian languages; or Hebrew, Russian, Arabic or Elvish, so if your name is not listed in an alphabet I can read, I'm blocking you.  Likewise if your name sounds Kling-on.  I am assuming a goodly (yuge?) number of these are bots of one sort or another.  Who knows...I may be on Trump's "naughty list" by now.

I don't accept friend requests unless we have friends in common, or I recognize the name from a discussion thread somewhere...or if it's someone I actually know.

I've had to block a few real life friends who, while very nice in person, are flaming Tea Party Patriots on line.  I don't mind disagreement, but telling me to go back where I came from, or that my gay friends or immigrant friends deserve "whatever they get," will get you unfriended and blocked in a heartbeat.  The only person allowed to launch ad hom attacks on my wall is my daughter Chandra, whose most frequent comment is, "You're a fucking idiot."  I find that OK, as she has done that in real life ever since she was a kid.

Still, the Book of Face has become something of an obsession and I think I need a new hobby.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Down the Lane of Memory (Again)

I went to a Catholic parochial school from halfway through 4th grade to almost the end of 7th.  My parents were C of E, but we lived out in the boonies and the Catholic school was within walking distance (barely) (down a logging road) and getting to the public school was a pain, requiring transfers from bus to bus and a VERY early start.  Turned out that, poor as we were at that time, it was worth the $10 a month tuition to avoid that daily hassle.  

For 5th and 6th grades, I was in a combined class taught by Sister Mary Mercy.

Sister Mary Mercy had passed her sell-by date a long time ago.  Looking back, she was probably menopausal and questioning the value of her life.  Trapped daily in a class that contained a fair sized herd of unruly boys (George Carlin's stories of parochial school come to mind), with her only refuge being prayer, she tended to go from Sweet Nun to Raving Lunatic at the drop of a hat.  She could peg a kid in the back row with a blackboard eraser or a piece of chalk or a Missal with unerring accuracy.

But I was One of the Good Kids.  Oh, sure, I used to hide a library book in the bathroom and excuse myself when class got boring (they probably thought I needed porridge), but that was the extent of my rebellion.

So, one day (late in the day), she wrote the formulae for calculating the area and perimeter of a rectangle on the board, and she labelled them backwards.  Ever the helpful child, I pointed that out.


THWACK!  The yardstick came down on my shoulders, and THWACK again!  Damn thing broke the second time.  Sister Mary Mercy ran out of the room, ululating sadly.

About ten minutes later (I was ululating a bit sadly myself by then), Sister Mary Olive came in (she was the Sister Superior...I guess we didn't rate a Mother) and we spent the rest of the day on our knees, praying for our sins.  Fortunately, it was last period.

I don't remember telling my parents about the incident...if I did, they probably pointed out that correcting one's teacher was never a good idea, no matter how wrong she was...because, back then, it was OK for school officials to hit children.  It was usually done in a more organized manner, with a strap, on the hand, but whatever.

That was the only time I was physically punished in school.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Goodbye to Sam Bass Theatre

As theaters go, the venue isn't fancy, but the theatre owns it, so there's that.  It seats 50 (52 in a pinch, if it's a small cast and the fire marshall stays away).  It hasn't always been in Memorial Park in Round Rock; when I first auditioned, it was downtown, next to the spot where the City Hall parking garage is today.

It was 1982, and they advertised auditions for The Odd Couple.  With my built-in English accent and thirtyish look, I could totally see myself being a Pigeon Sister...Gwendolyn or Cecily, it didn't matter.  Unfortunately, they didn't get the six men required, so they chose a different play.  They did, however, ask me to return in the spring and audition for Ten Little Indians, which had several female characters, all of whom had English accents.  That time, they got enough men and I was cast as Mrs Rogers, AKA corpse #2.  I was terrified, but I had the time of my life..AND, was bitten hard by the acting bug.  I loved the positive reinforcement I received (something I had been lacking for a few years) and being someone besides myself.  It didn't hurt that we did a couple of scenes live on local TV.  In short, I was hooked.

A friend and I co-costumed the next show I worked on, and I acted in the one after that.  By then, SSS had had enough and cut me off at one show a year.  As we had two small children at the time, I agreed, though with very bad grace.  He was a volunteer fireman at the time, and got to take off with his volunteer fireman buddies whenever he liked for training and practice. Sauce for the goose, I said.

Right before my second foray into acting, the theater was moved from it's location off Main Street to its current location, where it has been for 33 years.  Slowly, it grew.  A deck was added to the back when it was still downtown, and that was closed in to make a backstage area.  The annex was built.  Jim Prior, who I eventually married, was instrumental in all these construction projects.  In the late 80s, he and Jim Grisham cut an entrance through the side of the building, and the Side Stage grew around that.  A deck was added, connecting the back and side stages.  A barn and costume shed were built, and another shed.  Sometime in there, the courtyard was paved so we weren't wallowing in dust and/or mud.

There were great shows, and great parties, with much barbecue, booze, and all sorts of fun.

People came and went...moving here, moving away, moving on.  One day I looked up to realize there were only a few people still around who had been there when I started, but there were other people who had been there an only slightly shorter long time.  And I understood continuity.

A few years ago, a lot of new people came in fast.  They were welcomed, as new people always are, even though the first thing the first person did was try to tell me I didn't know what I was doing with a particular set design (I was designing my own set for a show I was directing).  He was willing to design my set, and I did manage to insist he do it my way, but it wasn't easy.  The set looked beautiful, and close enough to what I had envisioned...but still.

A couple of years later, these people were firmly ensconced on the Board of Directors, and ripples of disquiet were rumbling through the theater.  I could see that they saw us old timers as relics who just couldn't quite manage to get the place to make money.  I should probably say that we had never really striven to make money, ploughing all that we made back into the next season, like all small non-profit theaters do.  It is very true that, as Round Rock had grown around us, we had not kept up, and were serving an ever-shrinking percentage of the population.  But we produced good theatre.

I noticed that fewer directors were asking me to costume their shows, but I had been costuming in Austin, and getting paid for it, so it was no big deal.  I was very happy to see others interested in trying to organize the immense collection of costumes shoehorned into a small space.  But the last time I auditioned, I was required to audition privately, and to memorize the sides in advance.  This was not usual for Sam Bass; no one else in the cast was asked to do that.  The director had worked with me in years past, when I had trouble memorizing lines for a role I was less than comfortable with.  He needed proof that I "still had it," as he said.  It was a bucket role, so I did it.  That's the last time I have auditioned there.

I could understand why my next directing submission didn't fly; the show was Wait Until Dark, which requires a fairly elaborate set including stairs and working appliances (practical, as we say in theatah, dahlink).  The last play I directed had made no money, as it was a dark piece that didn't attract a large audience.  The Artistic Director did, however, ask me to submit something else, suitable for production on the outside stage they had just built in the courtyard.  To go up for one weekend.

Dearly Beloved, I am far too old to enjoy rehearsing and performing outside in the Texas summer heat, 50 ft from a major state highway.  Let alone putting in all that work for three performances.  So, no.  All prospective directors were also informed that the Board would now have the last word on casting, something that had been strictly left to directors under the old Sam Bass Theatre SOP.  So I left the meeting and have not submitted anything since.

The Board has also changed the audition dates and times.  The new schedule makes it almost impossible for me to audition.  Did I mention that cast and crew are required to sign an agreement that they will say only nice things about Sam Bass for the duration of the production?  Yeah...that happened.

The straw that broke the camel's back came when I asked said Artistic Director if I could borrow a couple of capes for a show I was costuming in Austin.  I've always borrowed costumes from Sam Bass (I made quite a few of them), and often from the Artistic Director himself.  My work at Sam Bass was never paid; it is an all-volunteer organization.  I had also given Mr AD quite a few costumes outright for his own projects, separate from Sam Bass.  He said he didn't feel like helping me, as I had slighted him on Facebook.

They are changing the theater, and, maybe it was necessary.  Nothing stays the same forever, but I had somehow expected my 34 years of blood, sweat, tears, and support would earn me a place by the fire for as long as I could totter up there.

I owe Sam Bass a lot...the skills I've learned, the talent I learned to recognize, the joy and terror of acting and directing, the friendships, the applause, and the love.

It's a shame it's over.  I wish them well, really...but it's like they say:  not my circus; not my monkeys.

Not any more.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ten Years

Ten years.

Ten years in which I have learned to keep busy, and the sense of accomplishment from that, alone, is a sort of partial compensation.

I get a twinge when anyone makes any reference to "putting a gun to your head," or any visual reminder of such.  A concealable reaction, so it's all good.  Can't expect people to walk on eggshells around me forever.  It's not always could be a line in a script or a gesture by a character in a movie.  I can live with it.

I also wince a little when I see a bald pate, fringed round with silver.  Silly, I know, but I can live with that, too.

I have mostly managed to replace my memory of his last few moments with memories of the times we had fun, so...yay me.

We had that epic trip in 2003--the one where I learned to love driving.  A lasting joy.

He would have been an articulate voice against the chaos.  And a reasonable one.  The shoulder that used to shield me from the terrors is gone, and I have learned to deal with that.

Once again, I thank from the bottom of my heart the friends who rallied round in so many ways...I would not have got through it without you!

I miss him.  I expect I always will.

Slàinte mhath!