White culture

It’s been awhile since I posted, and I realized I was on the verge of a rant on Facebook which would likely receive a better audience on my blog. I’ll follow this up with another, more personal post in a moment.

I came across this today, and I admit, at first, it really irked me.

But then I got to wondering, what IS culture? The author doesn’t really define it except as some form of shared experience common to a group of people, and if that’s all, then how can white people NOT have some form of culture?

Also, have Italians, Germans, Danish, Irish and Scottish people stopped being white (again), because I’m pretty sure they have a lot of culture and their skin tone tends toward the ivory. Is it that once they get into a position of privilege or emigrate to the United States, their culture stops being specific enough to describe as being part of “white” culture?

If we’re just talking about white US citizens who haven’t emigrated within a few generations, then it’s going to be harder to define the particular experiences shared by those people and no others because the past several generations have been explicitly taught that white culture is a melting pot* wherein sharing intercultural experiences is part of their culture. If white people in the US don’t have many isolated cultural experiences, it’s because the United States has, despite the efforts of white supremacists, never been particularly good at avoiding intermingling with other cultures.

On the flip side of the coin, US white people are among the most prolific in the world at exporting their cultural ideals (sometimes by force) to other countries. Whether it’s English or democracy or industry or Christmas or Leave it to Beaver, they’ve got it and think you should have it too! Yes, it’s very arrogant and rude behavior when pushed upon people who aren’t interested in integrating those interjections into their culture, but it seems to fit with the tendency to grab up intercultural experiences and make them their own.

“Hey, Europeans! Have you ever had a burrito before?”
“Taco Bell for everybody!”

“White culture” is perhaps a misnomer because, contrary to the disdainful racism purported by a number of its members, a lot of people in the United States are all about other people’s cultures. They’re like a Ned Flanders version of the Borg**, minus Flanders’ overall lackadaisical neighborliness.


Maybe that is white culture. Not remarking on whether it’s a good or bad thing.

* A concept that has been known and written of since at least the 1780s, I am surprised to learn. I thought it would be more recent than that. This means that it has been a concept associated with the United States since the very beginning.

** I searched Google and was shocked to find that no one has ever drawn this. I found Borg Homer and Borg Queen Lisa, but no Borg Flanders. Internet, I am disappointed in you.


It’s okay to be gay in the SCA

Well straight, gay, bi or queer
Just know that you’re welcome here
It’s OK to be gay in the SCA
So put a blue feather in your hat
And crawl up in your lover’s lap
It’s OK to be gay in the SCA

With thanks to the Bards of KeyPoynt, whose lovely performance at Temple Caffeinea was much appreciated for a young-in-experience genderfluid Solstice.

The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, a name chosen by famous author Marion Zimmer Bradley) resembles and bills itself as a recreation of 17th century Europe, similar to Renaissance fairs — but the difference is in the C, for Creative. To quote the official website,

You will frequently hear SCA participants describe the SCA as recreating the Middle Ages “as they ought to have been.” In some ways this is true – we choose to use indoor plumbing, heated halls, and sewing machines. In the dead of winter we have more to eat than King’s venison, salt pork and dried tubers. However, a better description is that we selectively recreate the culture, choosing elements of the culture that interest and attract us.

Practices differ from region to region, but in the Kingdom of An Tir, it isn’t unusual to see pirates, Egyptians, Romani and sometimes even the rare steampunk, to say nothing for the propane-powered torches, heaters and stoves. Temple Caffeinea, mentioned above, is a coffee shop which sells food on the side. I went into my first event expecting Ren Faire, dressed in a kilt (the most archaic garb I could muster) and left contemplating possibilities. It helped when I learned that the Temple was run by a drag queen (albeit one out of ‘uniform’), hinting that the SCA wasn’t nearly as formal as I had first assumed. I was better prepared for my second and third events, held back to back.

This is Solstice, my SCA alter ego, and never have I felt so comfortable in my own skin.

At Least I Still Have You

I wanted to link this song back in the first Bread from Heaven post, but international copyrights had shut down all the working links. Well, somehow it appears to have slipped its copyright reins, because I see several copies on youtube!

For your audio pleasure (relatively speaking, as it’s only 240p, but there really are no better quality versions available…)

Sandy Lam – Zhi Shai Hai You Ni

DOMA and Proposition 8 struck down

It rained yesterday. Then the sun came out. Then it rained some more. Then the sun shone brilliantly through the clouds, illuminating the most brilliant rainbows I have ever seen.

Sometimes I believe in omens.

I snapped a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

“”Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted,” says Michele Bachmann.

Nancy Pelosi replies, “Who cares?”

Bread from Heaven

Well, life goes on, not comfortably, but still forward. I spent the weekend at a June Faire, an SCA event, which would have gone better if I’d had company. Unfortunately, my introversion makes it difficult to interact with people, so I spent most of the time reading and finished Towers of Midnight–a book of more than 800 pages–and added a few hundred words to my own writing, which had been at a block. Next event, I plan on trying to make myself a bit more inviting for company. Hopefully I won’t burn as badly in the sun, either…

I recently discovered a radio station which plays a variety of music, some I like, some by which I’m a lot less enthused, but in particular one song that has quickly grown on me. It went from a song to which I liked listening to a song that made my eyes wet, and then I saw the video for it. After I finished crying, I knew I had to post it.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert – Same Love

For your hunger, I give you bread from Heaven

Every now and then I find things I have to share, be it an invigorating story, a song that gave me the autonomous sensory meridian response, a movie that consistently makes me cry (there are a few of those…) or just something I think everyone should see.

Today’s candidates:

I think every artist in the world should see this. Even if their form of art has nothing to do with drawing.

I have an absurd love for the song Caramelldansen (some would call it an obsession, but I can quit whenever I want). A lot of people may already be familiar with this track from the Swedish group Caramell since it took off as an Internet meme when a user sped up the song, turning it into something cute and bouncy. Since then, there have been about a dozen new iterations and remixes, including an English version.

Well, a few days ago, I ran aground of two new versions done by fans that instantly found their way onto my repeat list.

Caramelldansen – Acoustic
Caramelldansen – Banjo and Melodica

Speaking of songs which trigger that little shiver of pleasure, one of my favorite artists of all time, Sandy Lam, has a song which never fails to give me that response. If you can’t read the characters, the pinyin is Wei Ni Wo Shou Leng Feng Chui, if you should need it for any reason. My ASMR triggers between 1:06 and 1:26, especially in the latter 10 seconds.

This artist also has produced of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard (Zhi Shao Hai You Ni), but sadly, it’s almost impossible to find a copy online, thanks to international copyright laws. The only place this far west that I can find the song anymore is in googling “zshyn.swf” for Flash movies made in homage. I have the track on CD, but unfortunately, have no way of sharing it in its true glory.

Jamin Winans is a man who deserves more recognition. His film, Ink (Recommended for mature audiences due to strong language and violence) has received almost no acknowledgement in Hollywood because of where it got its start: pirating online. Self-produced for a budget of $250,000 (a mere fraction of the cost of many Hollywood films), without the attention it received from pirating, Ink may never have taken off. To that end, rather than feel affronted at having what little profit he expected be further reduced from pirating, Jamin Winans opted to embrace the piracy for the greater exposure it gave his film. I’d like to think he wouldn’t greatly mind me linking this more obscure Italian subtitled version of the film (you can turn them off). In fact, I highly doubt it, especially since I’m also going to tell you that you can get a physical copy of this masterpiece from his website.

One of his short films, SPIN, is also available for viewing.

This is why we need feminism

Familiy Feud is a show I generally don’t care to watch — not because it’s unintelligent, but because I just don’t find it interesting. Today, while eating at a pho restaurant (effectively a captive audience), I saw an episode that certainly won’t ever help my opinion of it.

I want to emphasize: This is word-for-word what came up on the survey panel results.

“Name something big a woman might have that would give her power in a relationship.”

1) Jugs (35)
2) Paycheck/Bank Account (16)
3) Mouth/Voice (15)
4) Education/Smarts (9)
5) Ego/Personality (8)
6) Badonkadonk (6)
7) Heart (5)

I have no words.

Random thought: Pre-weathered t-shirts

Yes, yes, I know I haven’t updated in awhile. I actually have a half-finished draft for Economy and my writing (Part 2) in progress, which, in theory, we should be seeing sometime in the next few days. This is just a little rant I felt like making after a trip to Target today. I’ve been on a bit of a clothing hunt to collect my outfit for this year’s Halloween (because it’s never too early to start) and wandering through the t-shirt section started me up. Strap yourselves in, because here I go!

So I’m sick and tired of pre-beatenthehellup clothing. My last straw today was seeing the t-shirt designs where the silk-screened design is pre-worn so that the ink has already faded and flaked away even though it is, in theory, “brand new.” Here’s an example.

Listen, design people, I have a revelation for you. You know why so many people hang on to 20 year old t-shirts, even though they’re already beaten up? Yes, you’re correct, it is because there’s nostalgic value in old weathered clothing. We love those old shirts. They’re comfortable, soft from years of being worn, and a part of our identities in the same way that a morning routine becomes part of the person doing it. We’ve had these shirts for years and years and now we don’t want to throw them away because we’ve had them for years and years.

When you pre-beatthehellup our clothing, however, you’re skipping that process of falling in love with the routine, the clothing, the nostalgia and the identity. You can’t do that. You can’t skip the process of getting there, take us straight to the destination, and say it’s the same thing. We are not human cargo to be boxed and shelved in a truck for a 20 year long journey. The traveling itself has meaning. It has intrinsic value. Without that process, the object is nothing more than an object, with no memories, no affection, no nostalgia. It’s just beaten up. You’re charging us more for substandard clothing because you’re trying to game the system and sell us something we love — before we’ve fallen in love with it.

This pre-beatenthehellup shirt you’re hawking? It cheated to get here. It didn’t come along with us. It didn’t play the game fair and square, and rest assured, we can see its score. It’s zero.

This has been a PSA from the same person who despises when we’re obviously intended to obey the context cues of a video game, book or movie offering a spousal character for whom we have no reason to feel any affection toward. Protagonist + Female does not equal automatic investment in a love story or a tragedy. You have to make us feel for the characters, not hold up a placard reading “THIS IS A LOVE INTEREST YOU CARE ABOUT HER.”