It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks, which is not a legitimate excuse to neglect this thing as much as I have been. I have saved up a few things I’d like to post about to various lengths. Pretty much unrelated things, too. So, I’ll break this up into three parts, in order of importance. If you don’t like politics, I guess skip down to parts two and three.
First and foremost, been a hell of a first week back in the states. I try not to get heavily political on my blog, although I’m sure that my angry leftism shines through regardless of the prisms I hold up to it. I have been incredibly worried for many friends back in the states, at protests, at marches, even just walking around in some areas. I’m incredibly, incredibly proud when I open up my FB wall or Twitter and see that pretty much everyone I care about is taking part of these protests. They take it seriously and make me feel like I’m fairly useless over here on the other side of the world, watching, waking up every morning to check the news like a starship captain demanding a damage report after the latest volley.
I am throwing what I can at organizations that are trying to help out over there, ACLU being the biggest of these. They’ve had a great weekend and have flexed their muscles in exactly the right way, buoyed up with something like 20 million in donations since Saturday, which is record-setting and absolutely insane and shows that people actually care about someone trying to chisel most of The New Colossus off the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Even as one of nature’s pessimists it’s really heartening to see that the majority is not giving up, they’re fighting back earlier and harder than I ever would have imagined.
Having worked in nonprofits quite a bit, I just wanted to throw something out there for people who either are donating or are planning to: if you can, do a recurring payment instead of a single lump sum. A charity can do more with 5 months of 20 bucks each than 1 month of $100, because it allows them to come up with a budget far into the future and lay better plans for long term goals. Big waves of single donations are great and a hell of a lot better than nothing, but they make it intensely difficult to act proactively; you end up putting that money into entirely reactive services because you don’t know when the next payment may be coming and you don’t want to overextend. This goes for ACLU, PP, various other worthy charities.
I may approach it through black humor and cynicism but I truly do hope that things pull out of their nosedive, and that the enormous response over the last few weeks is a sign of things to come.
That’s where I’m at, basically. Watching, hoping, providing really evil jokes for friends, and trying really hard to explain the situation to my friends and coworkers over here so they don’t write the country off as completely insane.
There’s my political segment.
For my second thing: I am finding how revitalizing it is to be able to access musicals and other shows out here. I know I’ve posted about plays and stuff before, but I’ve been to three concerts in the last week, all different genres, radically different artists, and every single one I’ve walked out wanting to rush home and write until my fingers fell off. Watching performance artists in love with their work is a magical feeling, and letting your imagination drift while you watch them go crazy on stage is something you just can’t get anywhere else.
Last weekend I caught Amanda Palmer up at the Opera House. I’ve been a fan of hers… I think before I got into her now-husband Gaiman, actually, or within the same year. I can’t remember if I discovered the Dresden Dolls before or after Neverwhere but it was pretty close. She may be the queen of putting her feet in her mouth or making problematic faux pas online, but she really does put on an amazing show and absolutely radiates energy up on stage. The songs weren’t just played but explained in depth and with a level of emotional intimacy you don’t expect from a crowded theater, she had Brendan Maclean accompanying her, there was a lot of wine and ukulele and songs ranging from funny to heartbreaking from both.
Also a ten minute rant on women’s reproductive health culminating in blue-haired alien women chasing people around with a giant golden clitoris, as you do at these kind of functions. That was one of the less weird things to take up the evening, honestly, alongside her trying to channel Nick Cave as he performed on the other side of the harbour.
Midweek, on the eve of Australia Day, there was a Puscifer show. I’m an enormous Maynard James Keenan fan, Tool is basically the soundtrack to my teenage years, and I was so stoked to finally see him live in any form. The form I got was him clad in a gimp mask with a mohawk narrating the life and times of two warring factions of luchadors, acted out in a giant wrestling ring that dominated most of the stage. There were animated shorts between acts, giant holographic projections of Maynard, it was pretty amazing and their songs were so much different live.
I didn’t get any pictures of the third show I went to, on Friday, for Panic! At the Disco. A show where I suddenly very much felt my age. You know how, in your 30s, you start to feel like you’re basically still 20ish? Surround yourself with a bunch of actual teenagers and mid 20 year olds and you will instantly feel 80 or so. It was a great audience, though, probably the largest collection of LGBTQ+ folk I have encountered outside of literal gay bars in NYC or SF. Tons and tons of killer tattoos, some hair colors that definitely do not exist in the natural world, and an overwhelmingly positive attitude fostered by Brendon Urie up on stage. I seriously have no idea how the guy doesn’t keel over halfway through every show. He never stops moving. Dude was channeling everyone from Elvis to Freddie Mercury even in the span of one song. Best use of stage lights and smoke I’ve seen in a very long time, too. Machine gun strobe lights in time to blast beat chorus segments, smoke exploding out in random patterns around him while he traipsed around. Probably my favorite show of the three, and really got me thinking about writing in the sense of “wow, I need to write kind of an evilly charismatic fairy prince and I think I know exactly who I’m basing him on now.”
Now for a few weeks of relative rest, with the next big event coming up in March, some kind of a Star Wars burlesque thing that everyone I know has been raving about.
The third thing, and more for my own amusement than anyone else’s, is that we got to go out to Taronga Zoo for the first time since I visited Australia way back in 2015 and was scoping the place out before deciding on a definite international move.
It was way better this time. More exhibits were open to the public, the weather was great, we managed to catch both the trained seal and bird shows nearly back to back and sit down for them towards the end of the day. The platypus exhibit was inhabited this time and there were a handful of the weird little buggers swimming around the pools.
Also, while getting a new profile picture from my wife, I found a new friend:
Came right up to say hello while munching on some sweet potatoes and other veggies, and very graciously did not sprint off while I carefully, in the least threatening manner I could manage, backed up until we were both in the frame. Managed not to scare him off, either, which would have made me feel terrible because who likes being interrupted in the middle of their lunch by a lumbering giant with no sense of personal space?
Most of the critters were pretty friendly, honestly. The corvids got right up close to you, the meerkat babies were running right up near the glass, the tazzie devils were snoozing in their burrow areas right where you could kneel down and see them. It’s a great zoo and one where you can tell the animals are pretty happy and very well cared for, with zookeepers constantly making the rounds and checking up on things. Plenty of zoo-related charity stuff too, in terms of breed and release programs and endangered species care. I wish I was a millionaire and could fund the cassowary repopulation effort with the wave of a hand.
So that’s about it for life stuff. I’ve got a tattoo this coming Saturday, a consultation for another tattoo on Wednesday, a haircut the week after, but other than that it’s pretty quiet.
I’ve decided I’m going to change things a little bit on the blog here and try to portion my posts out in more specific categories. I went looking for a review I’d written awhile back at a friend’s request and realized that they’re really difficult to dig for without scrolling through other posts, so I’m going to post reviews separately from life and writing related pieces and label them a little more clearly. I may go back and grab all of the prior reviews to stick in their own column on the blog under a dropdown menu, I think it’s pretty easy to backdate them so they don’t show up as new posts on feeds but apologies if I screw that up somehow and anyone gets spammed. I do have a ton of books I’ve read recently that I’m going to review in the coming days, some really good ones that I only heard about through word of mouth and would like to pass on.