Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Roles with the Changes

I am going to talk about gender roles.  It is mostly a male perspective, because I am male.  I know we live in a male dominated world.  I am not claiming any misandry in our society.  I am not taking away from the struggles that women have in our society.  The disparity and the issues they face, because of this are not to be ignored.  What I am discussing is the toxic nature of the binary gender roles we have in our culture.  The general public makes assumptions about gender and sexual orientation based on how people fit into the binary equation.  One small problem, the universe and people do not fit easily into a binary equation.  Let’s get to the discussion.

I have experienced much when it is comes to breaking gender stereotypes.  I have been accused of having too many Stereotypical feminine traits.  I am a bit of a Nurturer, Emotional and Moody at times.  Some of the folks who have accused me were in glass houses. People assume that some of these traits found in men automatically makes that person Homosexual or Transgendered, but anything other than Heterosexual.  That is seriously bull manure.  Recently a young man who was a My Little Pony fan attempted suicide after constant bullying.  It is sad people cannot live and let live.  Why does it seem that other people’s lives invalidate the lives of others?  That is the attitude I see in the media.  They believe a gay marriage invalidates a straight one if it is allowed.  If people do not follow the socially prescribed gender, ethnic and religious roles and/or stereotypes the whole world would be thrown into anarchy.

Gender role issues are large concern and I know I will never solve it by myself.  Many men who break the roles are treated by our society badly.  Men who are Nannies and Nurses typically get guff for being in a profession stereotypically female.  Male Nurses are asked why they are not Doctors.  Male Nannies are suspect for wanting to be around small children, the inference is creepy.  I worked as an In Home Caregiver myself.  If it was not for the fact I was in a relationship with the one I was taking care of, I believe I would have been given some flack.  Males can nurture.  I grew up in Southern California in the 1970’s to mid 1980’s; the attitudes about gender roles there were more progressive.  In 1985 I moved to small town Oregon.  I had a class where we did the whole mock marriage and egg baby assignment.  My partner was so traditional that when I told her I enjoyed cooking, she told me that a man does not belong in a kitchen.  I had not experienced this before.  Since then the idea of the domestically gifted male is more acceptable.  The opposite side of this double standard is that strong career women are perceived by society at large as ambitious cold bitches.  Also if a woman does not want kids it is assumed that there is something wrong with them.  Not everyone one is built the same way.  We need to allow people to be who they are, without judgment. 

 Male survivors of domestic abuse are treated like they are less masculine for “allowing” the abuse. I myself was told by people why did I put up with that from a woman with my own situation.  Most of the attitudes I was getting was during the abuse, I have not received as much crap since I left.  I also have been careful with who I surround myself with.  I believe that some of the people who were threatened by my situation were male abusers themselves.  That does not mean that our society does not give male survivors of domestic abuse any slack.  I am not trying to take away from the challenges of women who are abused.  They have their own issues in our society.  We need to help anyone in an abusive relationship get help, regardless of who they are.   

Another gender role issue I have seen regards child sexual abuse.  If the abuser is male and his prey is female, our society can deal with that.  If both the abuser and prey are male, they can deal with it, but not as well as the first scenario.  If the Abuser is female, our society just cannot get it head around it.  Many Male survivors of female abusers are told they got lucky.  That it was normal.  It is abuse, the same if the genders were in reverse.  It is an adult taking advantage of a child and introducing then to something they are not physically, emotionally and psychologically prepared for.  I use the term prey; because that is what sexual abusers do they prey on children.  I am not comfortable with the word victim and the word survivor gets overused too.  Males who have female abusers are made to feel they want it by the abuser and society.  That they are weak, because they just cannot bounce back.  Some are made to feel that they are ungrateful for rejecting something that is a fantasy for some.  I may be wrong; these feelings come from personal experience.

Double standards are pervasive in this society.  Recently Paul Dini and Kevin Smith talked about how Network and Advertising Executives do not see girls as a viable market.  They do not buy toys.  They are not worth the time to cater to.  I have seen female superhero characters sell out in various stores.  The problem is the stores or manufacturers do not stock or make enough for demand.  Toys marketed for Girls are stuck with the whole stereotypical female gender roles.  Building toys, vehicles, athletics, action toys are not marketed to them.  For every Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Black Widow and Powerpuff Girls there are half a dozen Barbies, Bratz, Princesses and so on.  Boys are also excluded from any toy that promotes cooking and nurturing.  The Cooking part is changing.  Dolls, princesses, My Little Pony and the like for boys are highly discouraged.  As a young boy I wanted to play with dolls and have a play kitchen.  The dolls part was highly discouraged by many people in and out of my family.   

We need to encourage kids to go with their strengths.  An A type personality girl that likes building and superheroes should be encouraged.  Boys that want to be princesses or cook or ponies should be encouraged.  Shaming people to fit the same old cookie cutter ideal is garbage.  Gay, Straight, Transgendered be who you are and wish to be stop trying to fit others’ expectations.  Blur the lines if it suits you.  For me a lot of the stereotypical feminine stuff is not for me.  Don’t put girls in a pink ghetto or deprive boys of that possible expression.  To paraphrase Chuck Berry form My Ding-A-Ling, be what you want to be and live the way you want to live. 

I will admit most of this is from my personal perspective.  It is what I know.  I also know compared to the typical female in our society, the issues I have seen in regards to a double standard are nowhere near the severity.  The other thing I have to offer is my perspective, which is not the typical white heterosexual male one either.  I am not trying to take away from anyone’s struggle.  I am just trying to shed light on some struggles we do not hear much about.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Food & Me Part II

As stated before I grew up open to many different foods.  I was very lucky that my parents were adventurous with food.  My mom learned how to make her own flour tortillas.  She did this because with us on a wheat free diet she could not use the tortillas from the store.  She baked homemade bread too.  She had found a flour that had additives, the natural kind not chemical, that made us able to tolerate wheat.  This was only with that particular flour mixture.  In a way I was spoiled.  I saw my mom experiment to find ways around our dietary restrictions. I was also discovered to have a sensitivity to cane sugar, so honey and real pure maple syrup were used as replacements.  At this time my mom was the den mother for my Cub Scout pack.  She tried to introduce what we ate to the neighborhood. It did not go over well.  I was teased by some of the kids for her food.  Thanks to mom I do not care for most cake frosting or cheap ice creams.  I find them to sickeningly sweet. 

Another uncommon thing we had in my family was our Christmas tradition for stocking stuffers.  Mom would not buy store bought candy and if she did it was a very limited amount.  Our stocking had some interesting stuffers in them: canned sardines, canned mussels, canned clams, canned oysters, canned baby octopus, canned clams. dried fruit, pomegranates, cuttlefish or squid jerky, nuts of all kinds (pistachios were only bought during the holiday), a minced dates rolled in shredded coconut with almond slices confection,  and oranges.  Today I prefer those, cheese, fruit leather, chips, jerky, tzatziki sauce (Greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic and dill sauce), salsa, guacamole, avocados, apples, pears, bananas, frozen grapes. and hummus as snacks.  I also prefer unsweetened peanut butter, especially with apples.

Over the years I learned a few tricks.  A Mexican restaurant in Woodland, WA had an interesting version of hot wings.  They glazed them in jalapeno jelly.  It took that idea and baked boneless pork in jalapeno jelly as a dish I worked with.  When I worked in pizza place for 4 or 5 years, I had discovered linguica.  Linguica is a Portuguese sausage that is used as a pizza topping in some places.  I used to order a pizza with linguica, bay shrimp (the little canned ones), and cheddar cheese.  A favorite restaurant of mine in my twenties was a place that fused Latin American food, Caribbean food and East Asian food.  One of these days, I should try to re-create their Mexican Chocolate cheesecake.  That place introduced me to many Caribbean and South American dishes.  Previously in university I found a place that served dishes from various Latin American cuisines.   That place was where I was introduced to Tortilla Espanola, which is an egg and potato dish.

As a kid while my dad was overseas, we were tight for money.  During some of those periods we ate government cheese (tastes like bad processed cheese) and sometimes MCI (Meal Combat Individual Ration) also known as C Rations.  MCIs were a box full of canned goods the military used as field rations prior to 1980. A few times my dad stocked up buying the surpluses of these.  Before that I loved canned spaghetti with meatballs or franks. Now cannot stand any canned pastas with sauce.  The rations also included canned fruit.  Before the rations I was not a big fan of peaches, afterwords I could not stand them.  I do not even like fresh peaches. I grew up where we home canned food too.  My grandparents taught my mother and she continued that tradition.  I used to can and my brother and his family still do.  When we lived in Alaska we canned our salmon catches, in tin cans.  They were Christmas gifts for years. 

Due to the circumstances of my life with Barbara a lot of these things went away.  Part of my healing has been reconnecting to old traditions, like sushi and anime night or the pizza I mentioned earlier.  To some folks a great deal of what I ate could be considered weird or unusual.  My response to that is yes, I am those things too.  Also you can see my atypical food habits made me open to so many possibilities.  I will try most things once.  I hate to waste food.  Right now due to living arrangements cooking is difficult.  I cannot wait until that changes and the possibilities are endless culinarily as well.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Americanized

For decades American Television and Film have felt the need to crib off of other nations' work.  Instead of offering those works in the states, the media companies option their own version even with offerings from other English speaking counties.  That seems to be except for Canadian shows.  That is probably due to the closeness of our cultures and accents.  Some shows that were brought over were successful like All in the Family, Three’s Company, Sanford and Son, The Office, and the North American version of Being Human.  Others have failed miserably like Life on Mars, Fawlty Towers, Absolutely Fabulous, Cracker, The IT Crowd, and Skins. 

In many cases the ideas are good, the translation is not.  The best try not to be a direct adaptation, worst tend to try to do that.  The direct translation does not work.  There are subtleties to each culture that do not translate either way.  One example is Life on Mars; Harvey Keitel was cast as Gene Hunt.  In the original he is both a physically and psychologically imposing figure.  Keitel is only one of those two.  When talks of this adaptation were in the works Colm Meaney was originally cast for the part.  I thought that was a great choice, but it was changed after the initial pilot.  The original was set in a city but not one of the biggest in that nation.  The American version was set in New York.  I do not think New York and Manchester translate.  They also changed the reasons behind the concept of a modern cop who finds himself in the 1970’s.  I am going to be nice and not spoil either reveal.  Let’s just say they do not compliment each other.

Let’s go to the other end of things, Being Human.  Both keep with the idea that a Vampire, Werewolf and a Ghost are Roommates.  There are multiple parallels.  A few of the Characters work in a hospital.  In the North American version all are nurses, but in the British production the male characters are orderlies and the female is the only nurse.  The two shows' ideas about each breed of monster and how they work are different too.  It works for this show.  The North American Show has realized what worked for the U.K. show and is translating it well.  It is about the relationships.  With Life on Mars they played too much on the fish out of water idea in the U.S. adaptation.  That was not what drove the original. 

Sometime American productions take the teeth out of their adaptations of media.  The American version of the Film Get Carter had Carter basically a good guy who did bad things.  The British Movie was about a Bad Guys who did bad things for the right reasons.  Michael Caine’s Carter was a murderer, whereas Stallone’s Carter was a thug with a heart of gold.  The U.S. Film ended with everybody good lived.  The original was more nihilistic. 

Overall I prefer the originals.  Sometimes American productions discover what works and replicate it just right.  That is great to see.  More often that not it just does not happen.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.



Monday, June 2, 2014

Animation & Me

My history with animation goes all the way back to childhood.  Like most children of the seventies, I grew up with Disney films and Television.  The Disney shorts were fun when I was younger, but around the age of 8 or 9 they were not really my thing.  The Feature films, I still enjoy most of to this day. I have fond memories of watching various animated shows with my brother, and sometimes with my uncle, Bob.  In the Seventies and Eighties Saturday mornings were king for animated fare.  Also anyone who grew up prior to the eighties remembers that feature Films were preceded by animated shorts. Today that seems to be limited to Disney and Pixar.  In the seventies and prior each of the studios had its animated stable:  Warner Brothers had the Looney Tunes, Universal had Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy, United Artists had The Anteater and the Ant as well as the Pink Panther, MGM had Tom & Jerry, Droopy Dog and Screwy Squirrel, Paramount had Popeye, Betty Boop, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, 20th Century Fox had Terrytoons, and so on.  By the mid seventies new shorts were no longer in production like they used to be and by the eighties you rarely saw them at all.  Instead of covering things in a chronological order, I am going to cover things in more a genre or Studio based format.


Warner Brothers: 

Let’s start with a studio whose work I still admire to this day.  Originally Warner Brother was all about the Looney Tunes.  In the Seventies the old shorts were seen on both network and syndication.  They were everywhere.  These shorts have always been targeted to a broader audience.  They had jokes that would go right above the heads of kids.  Going back and re-watching them is fun, one finds jokes one did not get when younger.  Even after the production of the shorts slowed down they were still presented on Television.  In the Nineties Warner Brothers started to produce their own animated shows as opposed to repackaging older material.  This started with Tiny Toons and Batman: The Animated Series.  Now Warner Brothers Animation seems limited to DC Comics properties and Looney Tunes.  With the Batman Animated Series, Warner Brothers started a long string of DC superhero animated shows that led to direct-to-video DC Universe Films. All of these I have been a big fan of.  I have not hidden the fact I prefer DC to Marvel.  The Direct-to-Video films have been targeted to a more mature audience with a PG to PG-13 rating.  Warner Brothers Looney Tunes properties led to Animaniacs, Histeria!, Freakazoid, and Pinky & the Brain. Most of those were produced by Steve Spielberg prior to his starting Dreamworks.  They tried to resurrect the Looney Tunes philosophy with modern sensibilities.  In most cases they were very successful.  As a kid watching the old Looney Tunes shorts I noticed Director and their specific styles: Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, and Robert McKimson.


Filmation:

As a kid growing up in the Seventies there was one animation studio that was all over Saturday Morning.  That is Filmation; their last big work was He-Man and She-Ra.  For me it started with the 60’s DC Superhero shows, Superman, Aquaman and Batman.  These included the Atom, The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Superboy and the Teen Titans.  As a DC Comics fan I loved these.  I ate them up, funny thing is they started before I was born.  In the Seventies through syndication quite a few show remained in circulation long after their original air dates.  Filmation did a number of TV and Film adaptations into 30 minute animated shows.  This included Star Trek, Fantastic Voyage, Brady Bunch, Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down, Lassie's Rescue Rangers, My Favorite Martian, The New Adventures of Gilligan, and Gilligan's Planet.  They also did Shazam/ Captain Marvel, Archie, Flash Gordon, Zorro, Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and more licensed shows.  They produced a few live-Action kid shows as well, including Shazam.  They tried a few original concepts including their show the Ghostbusters; their version pre-dates the Film by a decade.  Their animation style seems by the early eighties a bit clunky.  The studio was also notorious for re-using certain scenes in multiple episodes, this was not unheard of in other studios.  They seemed to do it more often with more shows.  One of their most famous shows was Fat Albert and the Cosby kids.  The studio went out of business in 1989.  By that time He-Man’s popularity had waned.  Filmation was fun for me because of the Action Adventure shows they produced.  As I got older their roughness of their animation styles grated against me.


Hanna-Barbera:

Hanna-Barbera Cartoons were everywhere during the Seventies and early Eighties.  When I was little it was the comedy shorts with Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound Snagglepuss, Hong Kong Phooey, Wally Gator, Suiddley Diddley and so on.  Later I got interested in their action shows lick Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Bird Man, the Herculoids and more.  The big kicker was the introduction of the Super Friends in 1973.  It was Justice League lite, for a 5 year old Superhero and DC Comics fan it was pure gold.  Super Friends lasted till 1986, and yes I watched it till then.  The Hanna-Barbera shows were everywhere in the 60’s and 70’s.  They started to wane in the 80’s.  When they were acquired by Turner Broadcasting in the 90’s they began a resurgence.  They produced new shows for Cartoon network and old shows were re-run there and on Boomerang. By 1999, they became Cartoon Network Studios. Their legacy still shows.


Walter Lantz Productions:

Walter Lantz Studios, later Productions, produced Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, and other shorts for Universal Studios. I was never a big fan.  My brother looped the laugh from an old Woody Woodpecker children’s 45 record as a form of torture.  There has been a revival, but the character looks more like his 40’s version.  The Lantz Productions work was good, but I seemed like a pale version of Disney or Looney Tunes. 


DePatie-Freleng Enterprises:

Director/Producer Friz Freleng and executive David H. DePatie started this studio in 1963.  They did quite a few shorts for United Artists including Pink Panther, The Ant and the Aardvark, The Dogfather and MisterJaws.  They did a few Television series and specials then sold their studio to Marvel.  The Pink Panther shorts were good, but highly stylized.  They did a few Dr. Seuss specials, I enjoyed them.  Their Marvel Superhero work prior to becoming Marvel was good for its time. 


Marvel Animation:

This section is not one studio but many.  Marvel animated series were produced by several different studios over the years.  Now with their own Film and Television studios, Marvel keeps everything in house.  This is more evident after their Purchase by Disney.  As said before, I am more of a DC Comics fan.  Many of these shows were fun and at the time some of the best on Television.  Spider-man (1967) with its famous song was a great show for its time.  It captured the Silver Age exploits well.  The 1981 Spider-man show and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends were fun for their time.  By the time the X-Men, produced by Saban, came out I was in my twenties.  During this period I drifted from some Animated Television shows.  Recently I have enjoyed the shows shown on Disney Channel and the Direct-to-video Films from Marvel. 


MGM:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or MGM were known for their Shorts from 1937 to 1957.  Fred Quimby and later Hanna-Barbera ran the Cartoon Studio.  The Studio was known for Droopy Dog, Screwy Squirrel, Barney Bear, Tom & Jerry, Spike & Tyke, and George and Junior.  Tex Avery and Hanna-Barbera are the stand out animators coming from this studio.  Avery did most of his most famous work here.  In 1957 the studio shut down.  MGM sub contracted various studios to make Tom & Jerry shorts up until the 1960’s.  Personally I love these shorts including the Chuck Jones Tom & Jerry cartoons from the 1960’s.  Avery and Chuck Jones are two of my favorite animators.  Avery’s work for MGM was phenomenal.  In the 1980’s MGM Animation was created it mostly handled Don Bluth Productions except those handled with Steven Spielberg. Since 2000, the studio has not been that active.


Ruby-Spears Productions:

In the mid late 1970’s this studio was started by two former Hanna-Barbera employees.  They operated till 1996.  They were known for a style very similar to Hanna-Barbera’s.  Their well known shows were Fangface, Plastic Man, Thundarr the Barbarian, Superman (1988) and various licensed properties.  They were decent productions I enjoyed them till the late 1980’s.  By that time, I was not as much into what was happening in animated shows. 


Terrytoons:

Terrytoons was one of the original Animation studios it existed from 1929 to 1968.  It was known for Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse, Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, Dinky Duck, Luno, Hector Heathcote, Deputy Dawg, and The Mighty Heroes.  This is the studio were Ralph Bakshi got his start.  As a kid I loved Mighty Mouse and the Mighty Heroes, the rest of the Terrytoons characters fell flat for me.  I was especially not fond of Heckle and Jeckle.  Other than the two Superhero themed works I found Terrytoons not the greatest in character or animation.


Fleischer Studios/ Famous Studios/ Paramount Cartoon Studios:

Fleischer Studios were distributed by Paramount they were famous for Popeye, Superman (1941-1942), and Betty Boop.  The Fleischer Studios work was the chief competitor of Disney.  The studio closed in 1942.  Paramount in 1942 started Famous Studios (Paramount Cartoon Studios 1952).  Paramount Cartoon Studios closed in 1967.  They continued the Popeye and Superman Cartoon and added Little Audrey, Little Lulu, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Honey Halfwitch, Herman & Katnip, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith, Krazy Kat, Little Lulu, Beetle Bailey and Baby Huey to their line-up of shorts.  I grew up on Popeye cartoons, but the ones not made by Paramount from the 1960’s.  They seemed primitive in animation style.  The Casper, Baby Huey and I others I loved.  Funny thing I never saw the old Superman shorts till I was an adult.  I grew up with most of these cartoons.  They were not my favorites, but when I re-watch them I have fond memories.


Anime:

My experiences with Anime go way back.  As a kid I watched Kimba the White Lion. Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets AKA G-Force, Star Blazers and as a pre-teen Robotech.  These examples of Japanese Animation or Anime were not exactly what was found in Japan.  They were many times re-scripted and the storylines were changed when dubbed in English.  Robotech took 3 different Anime series and unified them.  Those original shows were The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA.  It was not till 1988 when I saw Akira in the Theater did a see an unmolested version of Anime.  This was dubbed so it may have altered things to make it understandable to English speaking audiences.  In the Early 90’s Anime still was not coming to the U.S. without being re-written and re-edited.  There were folks making their own subtitled versions from bootlegged Japanese shows and movies.  Soon that changed, companies saw that there was a demand for Japanese Anime that was not re-edited or re-written.  My local video stores did not carry many anime before 1996.  I used to go to Tigard or Beaverton and rent Anime.  I also used to accompany the viewing with Sushi.  I have seen many movies and shows up until 2000.  When I was with Barbara she hated anything Japanese.  Gone were my Sushi and Anime nights.  I have not tried that since I left.  I may need to restart that tradition.  I know I have seen Vampire Hunter D, Appleseed, Ranma1/2, Captain Harlock, Grave of the Fireflies, Ninja Scroll, Crying Freeman, Blood the Last Vampire, The Fist of the North Star, Project A-ko, The Big O, and Dirty Pair.  There have been more, but those are what I can remember.  Since my life change I caught up with Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra.  Although they were American produced and written shows, they are heavily styled and influenced by Anime.  I enjoy the art and the difference in cultural perspective that Anime gives me. 


Here is what I feel about the various Animations studios and Anime.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.