Sunday, May 29, 2016

Poll Position: Too Good to be True?

Recently there was a poll taken regarding the name of the Washington, DC football team. It pretty much matched a similar poll conducted in 2004 which showed a large number (9 out of 10) of American Indians support the mascot and don't find it offensive. The poll was conducted by the Washington Post (the hometown paper of the Washington football team. They polled 504 American Indians from all over the country.

The full story as reported in The Washington Post, the International Business Times, and Market Watch is linked below.

There are a few things I noticed about this poll:
  1. The Washington Post claims responsibility for the poll, however, it isn't clear if the franchise had a hand in it also.
  2. 504 people doesn't necessary make a good survey size, especially since the registered Indian population is closer to 3 million (Yes, we make them register). Also, The Post claims the 504 people were polled all over the country. But what is the demographic background of the survey size? How many are urban Indians? How many live on reservations? How many from the Oneida Nation that strongly oppose the name? Age demographics? Education level? Are they football fans? What tribes are they from? Are they 100% card carrying Indians, or people who may have one half-Cherokee great grandfather? These sorts of things make a difference.
  3. I find it very interesting that this poll seems to exonerate Dan Snyder from looking like a heartless racist opportunist.
It is easy to read a headline and take it at face value. People do this all the time, and never bother to read between the lines, or realize what the story leaves out, possibly on purpose. According to this poll, the Washington football team has been vindicated. They have proof again that they aren't in fact racist, despite all of the other facts to the contrary. They polled a few actual Indians and those they polled almost unanimously said Redskins is not a racist term. Awesome! Story over, bring on the new stadiums and jerseys and put away those protest signs and radio ads!

Except, the fact remains the team is named after a skin color. It is a team owned and run by non-Indians who make a lot of money off an image of a person that does not represent them in any way. There is no poll that will change that, no matter how high the percentage.

not actually what Dan Snyder looks like...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sorority Slump? Fuck that Noise

Dead Sara
Pleasure to Meet You
Pocket Kid Records, 2015

Emily Armstrong -- vocals, guitars
Siouxsie Medley -- guitars
Sean Friday -- drums
Chris Null -- bass

  • Suicidal
  • Mona Lisa
  • Something Good
Bands with such strong debuts sometimes struggle to follow up with another hit record. Redoing what was successful never seems as genuine, and recapturing any sort of magic can often be difficult. Successful follow up efforts are usually not just copying what happened on the last record, but learning and evolving musically into something better. Dead Sara's second record is definitely not a carbon copy of the debut. Produced on their own indy label, and funded by Pledge Music (just like Better Nature by the Silversun Pickups), Pleasure to Meet You shows how the band has expanded their songwriting to incorporate other rhythms, sounds, melodies not heard on the first record, but still reflect the personality of the band.

This album is as optimistic and uplifting as it is devastating. Some tunes are much more positive and happy than their first record. But there are still songs that cover some of the darkness found on the debut. I think, as a whole, these songs cover the spread on who Dead Sara is, and what they are capable of.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nerds Cannot be Satisfied: Star Wars Edition

Man oh Man, did I enjoy the new Star Wars movie!

Episode 7: A New Hope The Force Awakens was pretty brilliant, all things considered. Not only did we receive a new start to a stagnant franchise mired in controversy (those prequels still piss me off), we also recieved a rebuttal to this joke:

The fact that there are almost no other women in the entire first trilogy didn't occur to me for a long time. Now that I'm aware, I can't watch it without finding it strange. Most of the characters and extras are all dudes. The abundance of female speaking and non speaking parts in The Force Awakens make the older trilogy all the more weird. I found this more realistic dynamic made the whole film much more enjoyable.

Of course there are detractors. Fans can not be satisfied, remember? It has been pointed out that The Force Awakens follows the plot to A New Hope almost exactly. The main character tries to get off a desert planet to join a rebellion, ends up storming a castle, and ultimately blows up a superweapon. Sounds familiar?

This doesn't bother me though, as Star Wars is, above all else, an homage to classic mythology. Hero stories are often cyclical, so it makes sense that the modern version would be also.

There have been complaints about the villains. Kylo Ren is kind of a big baby. I'm okay with this. The dark side embraces hate, anger, and fear They aren't exactly characteristics of strong, intelligent individuals. It would be surprising if the next sith lord wasn't an unhinged cry baby.

someone has daddy (granddaddy?) issues
Snoke and Hurr and Phasma didn't get truly developed. I'm ok with this also. In the original trilogy, we didn't even see the emperor up close until the 3rd film, and he's the most important villain. In the prequels (shudder) we received a new villain in each film, ad they were introduced and dispatched before being developed at all. I'm sure these new bad guys will be fleshed out as the films roll out. I'm not worried.

Also, I have seen Daisy Ridley thrown under the bus as being not a good actress. Wooden acting and flat dialogue delivery are major concerns for these critics. However, if we are going to compare this new lead character to other Star Wars films, she is lightyears ahead of Hayden Christiansen. Even young Mark Hamill had similar issues in his first major role. This complaint could be chalked up to sexism. Besides, I'd take Rei in The Force Awakens over Luke in A New Hope in a second.

Personally, I think it is awesome that female fans finally have another Star Wars character they can identify with, who isn't a damsel in distress half the time. Strong female characters matter. If you don't believe me, check out the link below.
Click for Nerdist article
Despite the obvious reprisal of the original film, I think overall The Force Awakens was a success. It provided everything Star Wars fans needed. We needed assurances that the franchise would be in better hands than George Lucas's. We needed good connections between the original trilogy's characters that we loved, and new ones. We needed a strong compelling story to propel us into new adventures. I feel like this is a good beginning. The nay sayers can all go to hell, nerf herders.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another TV Party!

A while ago... a looooong while ago, I wrote a post about television shows that I watch. Like the Time Hop feature from Facebook, I found it interesting to reread that post and see what exactly I was watching several years ago. Only one of those shows is still on. This post is a follow up.

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands

Right away, this show is kind of suspect. The subtitle is awkward. A show about Beowulf could go either way, epically awesome, or shallow and lame. The show was made for the British network ITV, but is also broadcast on the Esquire network in the US.

The show is loosely based on the epic poem. It takes place in the fictional Shieldlands (obviously). The sets and costumes have a middle ages Germanic/Norse quality to them. The basic plot so far follows the politics of the Shieldlands following the death of their jarl, Beowulf's adoptive father, and the power struggle that ensues. Also, there are non humans called the mudborn that are feared and hated by people, but are uniting for war.

This series is clearly a response to HBO's Game of Thrones. But it is still quality. The characters are interesting and complex, there are plenty of strong multidimensional female characters (actually the best characters), and there are plenty of subplots that keep things interesting and set up future story lines.

There are connections to the actual epic poem. Beowulf is the main character, obviously. Heorot is the village he returns to, once ruled by Hrothgar. The Wulfings are a thing in the show too, and are depicted as Viking raiders. There also seems to be a monster character who may eventually be Grendel. Other than that, there are no other connections from the original poem.
Rick and Morty

Animation stopped being just for kids sometime in the early 90s. This show follows in the footsteps of Futurama and Back to the Future. This is certainly a show for science fiction dorks. Rick is a Doc Brown-esque mad scientist, and Morty is his grandson. The show follows their balance between domestic life and space/time travel. It's super clever, funny, and Ren and Stimpy disgusting. There are only 2 seasons, but each episode is totally rewatchable over and over.

Brooklyn Nine Nine

I was a huge fan of Super Troopers when it came out in college. I was excited for Reno 911 when it debuted too, because I figured it was piggybacking on the success of the Broken Lizard movie. Apparently there is a difference between funny slacker cops, and cops that are funny because they're stupid and behave like Kindergarten was yesterday. Basically Reno 911 makes the Keystone Cops look like Dragnet. It's terrible. So, when Brooklyn Nine Nine debuted I was skeptical.

While watching the first episode, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is this show hilarious, but the police officers aren't ridiculous stoners, or incredibly incompetent idiots. The captain is a gay black man who takes his job very serious. There are good detectives who do good police work. The personalities are what make the comedy. This show proves that a cop show can be funny and still be about professional policemen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Got Milk?

Here is another post in the "stuff I find at work" category. Today's fun new friend is far less terrifying than he looks. This dude is a baby lampropeltis triangulum, or eastern milk snake. Milk snakes are a species of king snake, and can look like corn snakes, fox snakes, and scarlet snakes, but are the only snake that looks like this north of New Jersey.

Young milk snakes, like my friend here, are non venomous and feast on slugs and earthworms, and insects like crickets. Adults mostly eat small lizards, frogs and rodents, but will also go after birds and their eggs and other snakes.

The snake gets it's name because they hang out in barns during the day. Apparently there is no other reason to be found in a barn unless you feed on cows milk... so because people are stupid, we created this myth that milk snakes suck on cow's udders. Idiots.