So… the other day, my girlfriend and I were going to take pictures-
-which is totally not as kinky as it sounds.
One of my friends from the aerial studio to which I go, is a photographer. The two of us hatched a plan to do a photo shoot of me executing some of my moves.
We weren’t doing this for any LEGITIMATE reason… (they werent promotional shots, nor were any of these pictures going to go commercial or anything) but that doesn’t mean we weren’t’ doing it for a GOOD reason… I like to think we were doing it for a very good reason.
I think she wanted to beef up her experience… which is a good reason. I, however, just wanted something to remember myself by.
You see… I’m in the process of fighting a stupidly rare disease, one of those diseases that is vicious and unscrupulous and altogether stubborn. There’s no cure, only “treatment”. Which is to say, nobody knows how to kill it, I just have to find the right combination of medications to beat it into submission and then keep it chained to a wall in my basement. I’m more or less okay, but some of the medications I’m taking have really unpleasant side effects, some of which include fatigue, decreased muscle, decreased bone density etc etc.
I wanted to get some pictures of myself in action just in case this whole wretched process gets the better of me and I end up bent in half and limping for the rest of my life. Of course, it’s pretty much unavoidable to end up either debilitated or dead because that’s how human existance works. But since we, as a species, can’t really know when death or debility are coming, I figured I’d better strike first and make sure I have something to look back on to remember my days of playing in the sky… just in case they’re over sooner than I’d expect.
We found ourselves a GREAT location. We rigged the silk on a cross-tie on an old, wooden rail-road bridge in a densely wooded and secluded spot. (We were totally trespassing, which made the whole venture that much more AWESOME) And in order to really do things right, on the morning of the shoot, I did my make-up performance style (which is to say, I piled that shit on with a putty knife) and went to get my hair professionally done.
I almost never wear make-up, and doing my hair typically means pulling it back into a bun or a ponytail because, as a rule, I have business to take care of and I can’t have it hanging in my face. I USED to wear make-up, I USED to do my hair… at least a little bit. But after 37 years, I’ve grown accustomed to my face in all its manifestations and don’t see much point it changing it anymore.
Now, just to warn you all… when you stop doing your hair all fancy, and stop putting on make-up… men stop paying attention to you. The beauty is that, by that stage of the game, you don’t really give a fuck anymore. In my experience, they haven’t become rude or aggressive… they just pass me over now, where in the past, they wouldn’t have… nothing to cry over.
All the same, I found it REALLY disconcerting the day of the shoot when I was driving home from getting my hair done… and giddily thinking of all the different poses and shots to try… and the gas-station attendant was… inordinately interested in me. (in this state, it’s illegal to pump your own gas… drives me CRAZY)
I’m so used to being ignored by men anymore, that when this guy lingered by my window and tried to strike up a conversation, I was utterly confounded.
He handed me back my credit card and leaned over my car window, “I like your tattoos” he said, gesturing to my forearms. “Where did you get those done? Do you have any more?”
It threw me, but I didn’t see any reason to be rude, so I told him about my tatts.
"Cool," he said "Those are cool." He made a couple of comments about the weather then fell silent… studying the ground and apparently trying to think of something else to say.
"So, what are you up to today? You going garage sale-ing, You going antique-ing?"
Dude, I thought to myself, Did this guy really just ask me that?
Let me explain.
I have never been antique-ing in my life. I don’t do garage sales because most of my efforts are focused around getting redundant crap OUT of my life as opposed to bringing more of it in. When I have free time, I either spend it sweating out my angst in aerial arts, reading comic books, playing World of Warcraft, riding my motorcycle, writing stories about my job mopping up dead people, or terrorizing my doctors. But apparently, I looked like someone who goes antique-ing… I guess thirty-something women with immaculate hair and wearing a metric-ton of make -up spend their free time spending money on old, used shit.
Now, just to be clear, I don’t have anything against garage sales or antiques. I know that people of all ages, genders, orientations and races enjoy buzzing around garage sales and antique stores and that’s cool… It’s just no one has ever mistaken me for one of those people. It felt vaguely… I don’t know… Condescending? Prejudiced? for him to say that… especially in the light of what was actually planned for the day. He didn’t mean to be insulting… but all the same, it was kind of like he said:
“So, honey… are you heading home to make your husband a sandwich before you do the laundry?”
"So,honey… you on your way to work to dance on a pole?"
Again, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things… but it’s weird how people assume different things about you… things that couldn’t be further from the truth. And its even weirder how suddenly a change in your outward appearance alters how and when people speak to you.
So that’s how it feels to be put in a box.. weird, inaccurate, vaguely insulting…. in case anyone’s new to the experience. Of course all of us get put in boxes everyday, it’s just been a while since anyone’s done it to my face.
I wonder how often I do that to people?
In the end, I opted to simply shake my head instead of say:
"Actually, my friend and I are going to trespass on private land to rig up a big piece of circus equipment on an old train track and then take pictures… some of which will likely be partial nudes… because I’ve got this weird-ass disease and at any time, I may not be able to do the things that I can do today…"
I mean, really, how could he know and why should I tell him.
I may be dead in a year… I may have a broken hip in 10 years… I may breathe my last breath while asleep in my bed at the ripe old age of 90… I may get killed in a motorcycle crash next week… but I think, for the time being… and however much longer I’m on this planet… I intend to live my life in such a way that, at any given moment… people couldn’t possibly guess what I’m up to.
Sounds like fun.
Kate is great.
MAFFS 6 at the Yosemite Rim Fire.
A brief examination of George Lucas’s prequels and the purpose of Star Wars ‘99
There’s no shortage of explanations as to why George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels are considered a failure, but I personally believe the usual culprits (execution, screenwriting) are symptoms of a more fundamental problem: the Star Wars prequels present no story of their own. Instead of an original narrative, it’s an elaborate backstory that never ventures beyond referencing its predecessors. In short, the Lucas prequels serve as supplementary material that only retread (and by extension, diminish) the original trilogy.
The following is a breakdown how a stronger prequel trilogy (PT) could be made, using what I consider to be some of the core strengths of the original Star Wars trilogy (OT).
Less is More: Low-Context Worldbuilding
The OT was a low-context set of films. In A New Hope, we’re thrown into a fantastic universe with little explanation beyond what is relevant to the plot. We don’t need to know what Jawas are, how hyperspace works, or even what the Empire is up to beyond the perspective of the main characters. Knowledge of the setting flows organically through character interactions, which contributes to the believability and immersive quality of the fantasy. The OT Star Wars world is very “lived in,” with its characters already familiar with the details of the setting. Even Luke Skywalker, who takes the role of “fish out of water” early on, is still mostly familiar with what’s been going on in the galaxy.
This is key to why the fantasy setting of Star Wars is so powerful: what isn’t shown, rather than what’s shown, makes Star Wars immersive. When Obi-Wan Kenobi mentions the Clone Wars, the conflict is never explained because Luke and everyone else (except the viewer) know exactly what it is. Doing otherwise would be like two adults explaining what World War 2 was to each other in mid-conversation. When Darth Vader calls colorful bounty hunters onto his Star Destroyer, what isn’t shared speaks volumes. “We don’t need their scum,” uttered by one of the officers, is enough to open our minds to a lawless underbelly of this otherwise sterile Empire. Every one of those “scum” characters has their own little story that we never need to actually see to appreciate (at least on screen). Once again, we’re left to imagine, and what we imagine in these moments is more compelling than what could have been revealed in detail. This is a powerful approach to fantasy worldbuilding that is almost entirely absent in the prequels. In the PT, the Force is reduced to biology, Boba Fett is explained in detail, and very little is left to the imagination.
Character First, Setting Second
An extension of the low-context approach is its focus on characters over setting. The OT features an epic story, but its focus is placed entirely on the narrative threads of only a handful of characters. For all its space battles and amazing creatures, Star Wars was about Luke’s personal journey and his friends’ individual arcs in the context of this massive galactic conflict. The OT is not about the overall downfall of the Galactic Empire, it’s about a small number of people and how they had a hand in that larger event.
This is a significant failing of the prequel trilogy: it’s a story about the formation of the Galactic Empire, where all character stories exist to service that progression. Everything in the PT is “big picture,” with senate votes, political schisms, and sweeping chronological jumps. The closest thing we have to a character arc is Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, but we never really get a feeling that he has any personality or agency over the events of the story. In the prequel trilogy, X Y and Z *have* to happen, and the characters are along for the ride. The whole thing feels like we’re looking at timeline synopsis rather than a story.
In the OT, we never needed to see the Emperor literally dissolving the Imperial Senate, nor did we ever need to see a slew of different planets being terrorized by Darth Vader to show he meant business. These things were understood without deviating from the characters’ stories. The Star Wars universe is rich and wonderful, but that’s ironically lost when you focus on the setting itself rather than the characters that give it life. The details of the “big picture” are largely irrelevant.
The Dangers of Retreading: Story vs. Backstory
Anakin Skywalker’s story isn’t actually a story. More specifically, Darth Vader’s entire arc of rise, fall, and redemption is just an element of Luke Skywalker’s story. It was written in that context and, when taken out of that context, becomes largely uninteresting. How Anakin became Darth Vader isn’t inherently compelling because it’s just more of what we already know, just in more detail. Even if it were told very well, Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side is backstory- it exists to service another story and doesn’t stand on its own. This approach is extended to every element of the PT, from the Clone Wars to the Hutts. Lucas devoted three films to fill in the blanks of the three previous films; there is not a more handicapped way to execute prequels. It’s one thing to revisit themes, but here it’s nothing more than retreading the same story, but from the less interesting angle.
Lucas’s prequels flesh out details, but offer little in the way of original content. They never venture far beyond addressing elements of the OT, filling us in on history like a guidebook. Star Wars films need to push forward, not merely pay homage to earlier Star Wars films, and it’s here that I believe Lucas made his core failure. They’re backstories instead of stories.
The Purpose of Star Wars ‘99
With all this in mind, my Star Wars ‘99 project is my personal attempt to create a Star Wars prequel trilogy closer to the spirit of the original films (in a graphic novel format), referencing only Star Wars canon prior to The Phantom Menace*, and focusing on character-driven adventure. Its purpose is to provide a new story and enhance the mythos of Star Wars without deflating the inherent mystery established in the original series. Here are some details of the project:
- Star Wars ‘99 begins over 100 years before A New Hope, and does not cover the rise of the Galactic Empire or the Clone Wars. I believe that detailing these events lessens their significance in the OT.
- There will be essentially no main characters from the OT, though some ancestors or minor characters may appear.
- Star Wars ‘99 draws heavily from the original (and unused) designs of Ralph McQuarrie, holding to a classic Star Wars aesthetic while still offering a new adventure. It also still holds to the classic pulp sci-fi, samurai, and Western influences of the OT.
- This project recognizes the pre-1999 Extended Universe as mostly canon, and there are some EU-exclusive elements, like the Mandalorians and the Sith Empire. For the most part, however, Star Wars ‘99 is about bringing new elements forward and not revisiting stories told by other creators.
- There will be more than one woman and more than two black people.*This project also ignores the Special Edition films, which were released in 1997
Aaron Diaz, you’re a badass.
august 28, 1963 - their signs read: “we march for higher minimum wages, coverage for all workers”; "civil rights plus full employment equals freedom"; "we march for jobs for all, decent pay now"; "we demand decent housing now." so they were marching for more than civil rights and political equality; they were marching for labour rights and economic equality, as well.
this was “the march on washington for jobs and justice*.” it was an event largely organzied by bayard rustin - who was not only an openly gay man and gay rights leader but a socialist - with the help of the labour movement (hence the united auto workers hat in the bottom of the eighth photo) and religious leaders professing the social gospel (hence the frock in the sixth photo).
so consider that in the year of the march, the unemployment level for african americans was 10.8%, while for whites it was 5%, but in 2012 it was 6.6% for whites and 12.6% for african americans - still about twice as high. and in 1960, home ownership for african americans was 26.2%, while in 2012 it was only 29.7%.
photos from the library of congress’ collection of more than 200: (1,5,7) rowland scherman (first photo of twelve year old edith lee payne); leonard freed (2,3); marion s. trikosko (6); and warren k. leffler (4,8,9,10).
*changed to “peace” in light of the assassination of medgar evers 10 weeks before the march.
all bugs can be organized into one of three categories: homies, chillers, and haters. hornets and wasps are haters. mosquitos are haters. most spiders are homies cuz they eat shitty bugs, some spiders are chillers cuz they dont really do anything, but also…
Egypt | August 15, 2013
1. The deserted protest camp in Rabaa al-Adawiya square in Cairo, following a bloody crackdown the previous day. (Mahmoud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)
2. Residents walk through debris and rubble inside the burned Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)
3. An Egyptian child displays empty tear gas canisters among the debris of a protest camp in Nahda Square, near Cairo University in Giza, Cairo. (Amr Nabil/AP)
4. Burnt vehicles near the destroyed camp of Morsi supporters outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)
5. An Egyptian man sits by a coffin as family members identify the bodies of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City in Cairo. (Ed Giles/Getty Images)
6. Egyptians search through the debris at Rabaa al-Adawiya square in Cairo. (Mahmoud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images)
7. An Egyptian woman mourns over the body of her daughter wrapped in a shroud at a mosque in Cairo. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)
8. Egyptians on a motorbike pass by burnt poster of Mohammed Morsi in Nahda Square, near Cairo University in Giza. (Amr Nabil/AP)
9. A man writes down identified names of bodies of Morsi supporters at the El-Iman mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City. (Ahmed Gomaa/AP)
10. Egyptians mourn over the bodies of their relatives in the el-Iman mosque in Nasr City, Cairo. (Khalil Hamra/AP)
This is what it looks like when a comedian gets way deep and insults his advertisers and audience.
Craig is really smart and really nice and terrifyingly funny. Here, he demonstrates the smarts.
Oh Craig, you scamp.
Egypt | August 14, 2013
1. A veiled protester confronts Egyptian security forces as they clear the smaller of the two sit-ins by supporters of Mohammed Morsi, near the Cairo University campus in Giza, Cairo. (AP Photo/Imad Abdul Rahman)
2. Egyptian security forces detain supporters of Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo’s Giza district. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)
3. Supporters of Mohammed Morsi burn tires during a clashes with Egyptian security forces in Cairo’s Mohandessin neighbourhood. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
4. An Egyptian security force escorts a woman with a child as the security forces clear a sit-in camp near Cairo University in Cairo’s Giza district. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)
5. A police vehicle is pushed off of the 6th of October bridge by protesters close to the largest sit-in by supporters of Mohammed Morsi in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo. (AP Photo/Sabry Khaled)
6. Egyptian security forces detain supporters of Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo’s Giza district. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)
7. Egyptian protesters shout against security forces during the clearing of one of the two sit-ins of Morsi supporters, at Nahda square, near Cairo University. (Ahmed Assadi/EPA)
8. A supporter of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi shows his hand as supporters clash with the Egyptian security forces in the eastern Nasr City district of Cairo. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
9. A protester comes out of a camp site as Egyptian security forces move in at Nahda Square, near Cairo University. (Gina Mohamed/EPA)
10. A handcuffed protester sits on the ground at a huge camp in Cairo’s Nahda Square. (Engy Emad/Xinhua/Corbis)