Posts Tagged ‘Rant’

Pardon My Language But…

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
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So, I am clearly sick but I HAD to go to work today for various reasons. In addition to feeling like shit…

On the bus from Hurdman (having to stand, of course). I am on the step up at the back and someone wants to get up. I have to step up to the next level to get out of the way. A guy sitting there has his foot out in the aisle. I step on it a bit, move it away and slip off the top step, so I fall backwards, only catch myself holding a bar on one side. The guy who had his foot stuck out in the aisle gives me a dirty look.

Lovely.

The bus gets to Place du Portage. By this point I was sitting and the aisle person was one of those people who thinks they should just sit there and wait for everyone on the bus to go by until she gets up. I say excuse me. She motions towards all the people she is letting go by as if there is no way for her to stand up and take her turn. Another dirty look.

I step off the bus onto solid ice. My feet go out from under me and I catch myself from landing on my ass by wrenching my back and pulling something in my leg.

Fuck today

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CapSlamming!

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Uncategorized
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This Saturday at Capital Slam was interesting. Our numbers dropped off a LOT. We had about half of what we had at the previous show. I heard lots of little reasons which may have added up to a big reason.

Regardless, I know the next show will have a lighter than normal crowd because so many of our crowd are students and we will be right in the middle of exams and going home for Christmas etc.

It will be awesome, though. I saw the Youth team at CFSW and they were off the hook! They would have looked right at home on the main finals stage, not ‘just’ the youth one.

I had decided to slam this time. I wanted to redo ‘Darwin’s Theory of Revolution’ (soon to be posted), which I did at the semi-finals last year… poorly. I was pretty sure the poor results were due to my lousy performance rather than the poem so I worked it up again. I drew late, which is always nice, and the poem went off beautifully! The rapid, machinegun delivery went smoothly and I had the crowd back on their heels! When I finished I got a GREAT crowd reaction… especially from the other poets. I scored okay… three good scores and two less good scores will often knock you out of the second round as one of those ‘less good’ scores has to count.

In fact (though it was misreported at the event due to someone else’s missed time penalty), I was tied in third with Loh El, behind Ronsense and V.

Then comes the bad stuff. I don’t want to dwell, but there is NOTHING I dislike more than someone hijacking a stage. We had TWO different incidents – one on stage and one behind the scenes. We had one person who asked if she could get on stage as a second sac. I am not going to get into the why but I said yes. (Don’t think I will normally do that. A: We don’t normally have time and B: the show has a certain flow. I don’t like to disrupt that.)

After Tanya Davis (EXCELLENT feature! Go see her on Thursday at the Elmdale Tavern!), we let this person go up and sac.

She was up there for 10 minutes and was still planning to do her poem again, (don’t ask me… that’s what she said…) but Ruthanne went up and gave her the time signal and she got off the stage. She apologized afterwards but how do you ACCIDENTALLY go 10 minutes? She has been around slams… she should know how this stuff works.

Oh well.

That would have been okay except I was ALSO getting grief from some guy who was making a scene at the back of the room. He showed up DURING the feature and said he wanted to sign up. Ruthanne told him that it was too late. She gave him the spiel about coming at 6:30 etc. and that we can’t add people…

He started to raise a stink. “My poem is short. Why won’t you let me on the stage. You claim to be a poetry show… why can’t I do my poem…”

Between Ruthanne and I we must have told him no ten times (or more). He was NOT being quiet and he was a big distraction from the feature. Finally I told him to hang around and we would see what we could do.
Ruthanne said I shouldn’t have done that, but my first concern is the show and I needed to get him to shut up and let people watch the show.

When I had the chance I went and spoke to Sean O’G, who was hosting, and told him that under no circumstances should we let this guy on the mic. He was down.

Then came the 10 minute poem. I was really annoyed at this point… and stressed… and tense.

So, of course, I was drawn first in the second round, with no opportunity to calm down. I did Stroll On and it went well, despite the distractions. I scored decently. In the end I tied with Hyfidelik for second, so that was a pretty good night (behind Ronsense who has now slammed twice this year at CapSlam and won them both. He has become a force!)

When the show was over, we did announcements and thank yous and O’G announced the results etc. and then he ended the show. As soon as he did so that guy was ON STAGE. Sean told him that the show was over and he tried to argue it. Sean held firm and by then people were leaving so he dropped it. He never came and spoke to me.

Look, call me an asshole if you want (it wouldn’t be the first time) but the show is more important than any single poet (myself included). Do NOT make the show about you, no matter WHO you are (and I have no idea who this guy was). That happened twice in the show. There are LOTS of open mics around for you to strut your stuff. If you want to slam, come slam, but you have the same sign-up rules as everybody else. (Ask people like Ikenna and Chris Tse who have wanted to do stuff and I haven’t bent the rules for them.) If the rules are not consistant, then you have a right to complain. Otherwise…

Anyway… as I said, maybe I am wrong and it is time for a revolution…

Rape and Comics

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
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It is no shock to anyone who knows me that I am into comics. I have been a reader and collector for 27 years and have spent over a fifth of that time directly involved in the industry, mostly in distribution, flanked by two stints in retail. I enjoy comics for all that they offer, despite their occasional journeys into not exactly uplifting areas.

They are getting better, in some ways. Batwoman was a big step forward, as was the new Ultimate Spider-man, but they still lag behind in some areas.

This past week, I bought a comic called Avengers 1959 #3. It is the third issue (duh) of a five issue miniseries. The premise is that Nick Fury gathered a team of ‘heroes’ at the end of the 50’s to deal with a few threats. (The ‘real’ Avengers book was started in 1963, so this would predate that.)

It started as a feature in one of the modern Avengers books, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Howard Chaykin. This mini is both written and drawn by Chaykin.

There were already problems in this series. A character called the Blonde Phantom is a female spy whose normal purpose appears to be to sleep with enemies to get information. This sterotype is not new and, as I said, comics are not always at the forefront of enlightenment. I didn’t like that, but I didn’t make a fuss either.

In issue #3, things got worse. Blonde Phantom needed to incapacitate two guards. She did so in the cliche fashion – acting flirty and then, when they dropped their guard, knocking them out. The issue here is that the guards discussed (in German, if memory serves) what they were going to do as she approached.

Guard 1: I’ll hold her down.
Guard 2: No, I had firsts last time.

The next panel they were knocked out, never to appear in the comic again.

What just happened there? The writer (Chaykin) used multiple rapes as a joke.

Now, because I have been over this with some people who think there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, let me explain. I understand fiction. I understand characterization. I understand the value of a nasty antagonist. If there is a major villain who they are trying to set up as a particularily nasty piece of work, I can understand why they would make him a rapist. Heck, make him a child murderer and a violator of puppies, if that is what you need to do to make the story work.

That is NOT what happened here. We are talking about two throw away characters that only appeared on two panels. They did not need to give us a reason for B.P. to knock them out. She was already going to do that. No. This was added for ZERO narrative advantage. It existed only so they could make a joke.

A joke about rape.

I have more that I would say but I would be repeating myself. Here is a letter I sent to Marvel Comics, letting them know what I thought about this little comic ‘joke’.

Everything in this letter is true.

“““““““““““““`
I read Avengers 1959 #3 and I feel compelled to do something I rarely do, which is write in to express my disappointment.

I want to give you a little background so that you can understand where I am coming from.

I rediscovered comics at the age of 16 back in 1984. The book that hooked me and turned me into a comics fan was the Avengers. Since that time I made comics my career for a while, working in both retail and distribution. During that time Avengers turned into a quest of mine, as I tracked down every issue, all the way back to #1 in 1963. I now have every Avengers comic ever printed.

That will change next month when Avengers 1959 #4 is released as I will not be buying it (or #5).

What could convince me to stop now? Can you guess what is that comic that would anger me enough to make this decision?

I would HOPE that it would be obvious.

There were already some supect things about the series. I am not thrilled that the Blonde Phantom’s secret power appears to be the ability to have sex with people. That annoyance is hardly new in the industry, so it was not going to be any more than that.

But this issue, you fell to a new low.

A rape joke.

A rape JOKE.

This was not character development. There was absolutely zero reason to have these two guards making jokes about raping women. ZERO. This was not a method to show how heinous they were as their only purpose was to be knocked out one panel later.

Comments about holding a woman down while the other one has his way with her? Stated in a ‘humorous’ fashion mixing the image of sexual assault with an overly-polite ‘no please, after YOU’ comment.

There are IGNORANT people who DO make jokes like this. There are also people who make homophobic comments. There are also people who are racist. There is no shortage of ignorant people in the world… but that does not mean you should publish this sort of bile.

I am NOT saying you can never have a rapist in a comic. I strongly believe that comics can serve as any other sort of art: they can display many different things to get many different responses. If you do a story that includes a rapist, and he is portrayed as a horrible person committing heinous acts and he pays for his crimes… that is part of comics and part of all (crime-based) fiction.

That isn’t what you did here.

You made a JOKE.

If you can explain to me, in rational terms, what was added to this story by having these two THROW-AWAY CHARACTERS make light of such a terrible crime, I will acknowledge it… but you can’t.

How could anyone think that this was okay?

Someone should be fired over this.

Rusty Priske

Ottawa, ON, Canada

“““““““““

No response yet.

Interested in letting Marvel know what you think of that issue?

mheroes@marvel.com

Sometimes you have to draw a line. Does it seem like intentionally leaving a hole in your collection is a small thing? Well I suppose it is, but not to a collector. (I have already been accused of lying on a comic forum where I stated I would be doing this.)

It isn’t much, but it is what I can do.

Moving to… Utah, I guess.

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Racism makes me angry.

Whoa there, Rusty! Don’t go way out on a limb and say something so controversial.

Okay, I admit saying that racism makes me angry is hardly the most earth-shattering news ever, especially coming from someone who doesn’t have to deal with the DIRECT impact of racism… sexism… homophobia… etc. Basically I pretty much embody the white, middle-class, middle-aged oppressor who is seen as the fault of pretty much everything. (Well, maybe if I had more money I would be PERFECT…)

I am NOT complaining about that. Anybody who complains that they are too ‘privileged’ is really missing the mark. “Cry me a river, white boy” would be an acceptable response to that.

But, no, racism makes me angry.

HAVING SAID THAT, I am reminded this week that OVERT racism leads me to a different emotion than anger.

It confuses me.

I mean, I am aware that there are racist people all among us (and I don’t mean the level of racism that we all have, I mean the REAL racist bastards), but I am still surprised when I encounter it.

Why?

Because society doesn’t accept it and people KNOW that society doesn’t accept it, so when you make an ignorant racist comment, you KNOW that people will judge you negatively for it. So I figure that people know better than to…

…but I guess that misses an important point. Racists ARE ignorant and stupid. Why would I expect rational behaviour out of them?

Years ago, I worked in a record store in Calgary. We had a new hire who was there when one of my other co-workers put on a new album… it MIGHT have been Ice-T, but I’m not sure. The new guy said, “I don’t like rap. It is just a bunch of n*****s who can’t sing.”

My reaction was to look at him incredulously. I honestly couldn’t believe he had just said that.

Then he said it again.

(I am happy to say that I pretty much got him fired after that… but to be fair, it was pretty easy since he was also a pretty terrible employee)

So why am I talking about this now?

Earlier in the week, I saw that messed up Psychology Today article that ‘explained why’ black women were not as attractive as white women were. It was a disgusting mess of barely concealed racism behind junk science trying to pass itself off as fact.

Then I heard about Carlos Santana speaking out against the new immigration laws in Georgia. I looked into it and saw that Georgia was adopting similarly racist immigration laws that had already been adopted in Arizona… and Utah, which I also hadn’t heard about.

Obviously, I have a problem with this. I have already spoken about it. One of the things (beyond the law itself) that drive me crazy is that people couch the debates around the law as dealing with immigration. That is bull. You can argue back and forth all you want about immigration and the laws that should or should not be in place. I am not a big fan of arbitrary borders, but I accept that not everyone has my views and some think that you need to protect your citizens from people coming in to try and… I don’t know… get a job or something.

But that is NOT the point.

My hatred towards these laws is not about immigration. It is about racism.

These laws give the police the right to question someone if they have any reason to suspect that they might not have legal immigration status. Therefore, everyone will be required to carry ‘their papers’ in order to prove they are legal… oh wait, not EVERYONE. Just people who may have something about them that could give the police ‘reason to suspect’ them.

In other words, there are now laws in place in three states that requires people to carry papers and submit to police questioning if their skin happens to be brown or they have the wrong accent.

Sorry if Godwin’s Law says that you can stop listening to me now, but a law of this nature makes me immediately think of another place, another time, with another sort of regime.

This disgusts me.

I think I am going to go back to performing Moving to Arizona. Do I actually think me reading a poem about something so awful is going to actually change things?

No, but I am not a voter in Arizona, Utah or Georgia, and I am not a subscriber to Psychology Today, so I can only do… well, what I can do.

The “N” Word

Posted: February 12, 2010 in Rant
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This will be first for this blog… a post that doesn’t involve putting up the next in the chronological exploration of my poetry. Halifax will have to wait (probably until Monday).

First I will tell you why I am at home today and then I will tell you why I felt compelled to write anyway.

Yesterday at work I leaned up against one of the desks in my cubicle (something I have done dozens of times), and in a flash the whole thing came out of the wall and crashed to the ground, taking all of my stuff with it (and landing on top of my computer, doing some cosmetic damage). I fell backwards and hit my neck and shoulders against the over-hanging cabinet.

It was nearly quitting time when that happened so we cleaned up and I left work, heading over to the Cajun Attic for the Bill Brown 1-2-3 Slam.

By the end of the night I was really sore. Ruthanne says the back of my neck looks swollen. So I took the day off and may go visit the doctor if it doesn’t feel any better soon.

“““““““““““““

Now, the point of my post…

See the title? I mean the word you think I mean.

Last night at the Slam, someone dropped the N-bomb on stage.

A white dude.

This is the first time I have heard someone in Ottawa (well, a white someone in Ottawa) do that on stage. Previously, I was present when a Victoria poet did it on a stage in Halifax and ignited a firestorm.

What I saw last night was worse.

What’s the difference? The one in Halifax was done out of ignorance. Small i ignorance. Look, I was born and raised in Victoria and you couldn’t get a more whitebread town. I think there are more black people on my poetry team, The Recipe, than there were in my graduating class in high school. A graduating class of 500.

So when that poet did a poem about the racism of his youth and dropped certain words, in his own shame, he didn’t realize the impact it would have on his Halifax audience? No.

Does that excuse it? No.

What I heard last night was something completely different. This poet dropped the word, KNOWING it would offend and anger people.

His lines went:

“N**** wut?
Oh, does that offend you?”

I would like to answer his question.

Yes… yes it does.

I would also like to extend a message from one pasty-looking white dude to another, and pardon my caps…

WE DON’T GET TO SAY THAT WORD. EVER.

Was that clear enough?

I was disappointed with the judges, to be honest. Only one judge took him task for saying it, while the others gave him the sorts of scores he would have gotten if he hadn’t said what he did.

I wanted to see a ZERO thrown up, honestly.

After the show somebody told me something that bothered me even more. I was told that he HAS done that poem at Capital Slam. Obviously when he did that, I didn’t hear when he said THE word (I’m a busy guy at these shows), but that means there was no uproar from him saying it.

That disappoints me. I thought our Merc crowd would explode on him for saying it.

Last night Ruthanne told me she was reading a thread about John Mayer dropping the bomb in an interview with Playboy. In the thread somebody said “it depends on the context”. Somebody else said “there is no acceptable context”, and that is where I am on this.

Let me reiterate from up-post, WHITE DUDES DON’T GET TO DROP THE N-BOMB! EVER!!

Clear?