ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Saturday

17

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

Sorry Not Sorry by Naya Rivera

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

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I purchased this book on Tuesday as part of my women-authored-memoir spree. So far I’ve read Mara Wilson’s and Abby Wambach’s; I have two book club books to read before I can dive into Diane Guerrero’s book. As evidenced by the photo I’ve included, this book was perfect as the fall equivalent of a good beach read – enjoy it with a cup of cocoa or tea, and be ready to go through it in one sitting.

Ms. Rivera is best known to most of us as Santana from Glee, but this is not a Glee memoir (and that is a good thing). The ten chapters each focus on different phases or components of her life, whether her early days acting as a preschooler, her financial troubles as a young woman, or her love life. Each chapter wraps up with a few bullet points under the ‘sorry’ banner, and a few under ‘not sorry.’

Some phrases or attitudes bummed me out (while at the end of her chapter on her anorexia she acknowledges therapy and/or medication might be helpful for some, earlier in the chapter she makes it seem as though anorexia is generally something one can get one’s self out of), but overall she’s an interesting storyteller who has some good advice to share with the world. I mostly enjoyed her writing, and some of the throw-away sentences are laugh-out-loud funny.

There are some stories in here that some people might consider ‘gossipy,’ but this is not an industry tell-all. This is someone who has led both an interesting and at times very relatable life telling her story. It’s definitely at least worth picking up from the library.

Saturday

17

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

Forward by Abby Wambach

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Reviews

Four Stars

I love soccer – I’ve been playing it on and off for 30 years – and I especially love women’s soccer. I went to five World Cup matches up in Vancouver Canada last year, including the final, where the USWNT beat Japan 5-2. I have season tickets to the National Women’s Soccer League Seattle Reign (who still have a chance to make the playoffs this year!), and attended the USWNT victory tour match in Seattle last fall. When I learned Ms. Wambach was going to write a book about her life, I knew it was going to be a must read.

Ms. Wambach and I are the same age, but other than both playing soccer and being white women, we don’t have much else in common. She has an intensity that I can’t even begin to imagine, which makes sense – it seems fairly necessary to become elite in any field, especially one as demanding as athletics. For most of her life, she seems to have taken the concept of ‘work hard, play hard’ to the extremes, mainly through either strict adherence to training while in the middle of camps, or through serious ingestion of alcohol and pills. She remains the record holder (male or female) of most international goals, but she is also known for the DUI she received in Portland just a few months after retirement.

There is a brutality to this book that should make it a challenging read, but instead I devoured it. The fuel to turn the pages wasn’t so much born out of a desire to see what next ridiculous high or painful low was going to follow; instead I was genuinely interested in how Ms. Wambach was going to both explain and handle her life experiences. Would she be full of excuses? Philosophical? Would she only barely mention the more challenging parts of her story?

No, she was just honest. She sometimes looks like the hero (as she should), and sometimes she is epically fucking up. She is ultimately human, and I feel like we could only get this story from someone who is no longer in the field, especially if the story is coming from a woman. As we’ve seen lately, whether it’s Hope Solo being fired for calling the Swedish team ‘cowards’ (something Cristiano Ronaldo essentially did regarding Iceland to zero consequence) or Megan Rapinoe getting excoriated for kneeling during the national anthem, women get a whole lot of negative attention when they don’t fit into the mold we’ve created to represent what it means to be a woman in the public eye.

I don’t think you need to be a soccer fan to enjoy this read, so if you are curious at all, I recommend it.

Wednesday

14

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

I cannot believe I failed to pre-order this book. I follow Ms. Wilson on Twitter and knew the book was coming out this week. I’ve been very excited to read it because I know she is a great storyteller and writer. I figured it would be insightful and entertaining, and even though my to-be-read pile is absurd at the moment, I bought this yesterday and started reading it immediately.

It did not disappoint.

Ms. Wilson is an extraordinarily talented storyteller. In this collection of essays, she shares many deeply personal stories about her time not just as a child actor (which is how many people likely know about her) but as an adolescent and young adult. Her stories are relatable even to people who haven’t experienced the exact same challenges she has – such as losing her mother as a young girl, or going through puberty after being a well-known child actor.

I found myself giggling quite a bit, and also tearing up a few times. I also got very excited about the essays that talked about show choir, because choir factored very heavily in my high school days. But I think what is sticking with me most is how sincere and kind the writing is. Ms. Wilson doesn’t use sarcasm at all. As someone who is overly sarcastic and intentionally (and unintentionally) snarky, it’s lovely to read such engaging writing that doesn’t need to rely on any of that.

I could write more, but honestly I’d rather just enjoy what I got out of each of these essays, and simply say that I hope you’ll read this book and experience the joy of it for yourself, in your own way.

Monday

12

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Jessica Luther

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Politics, Reviews

Four Stars

CN: Rape

I first learned about Ms. Luther during Wendy Davis’ filibuster of HB 2 in Texas – the bill that would eventually become the TRAP law that made it all the way to the Supreme Court as Whole Women’s Health. She is a journalist who has built her career focusing on the intersection of sports and culture, reporting extensively on how women are treated when they report that an athlete has sexually assaulted them.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct is a book from a small press that focuses exclusively on issues in sport, and the publishers approached Ms. Luther to write it. They also worked with her to create the framing for the book, which is about sexual assault committed by football players, and how both the victims and the student-athletes are failed by the system as it currently stands.

The first half consist of five chapters that set the stage – or field, as it were – as it currently stands. There is the field – the universities and colleges themselves – as well as what we don’t see.

She explores the tension that exists with a sport that sees majority black players and (assumed) majority white female who are assaulted and raped, and the history of racism there. The chapter that focuses on this history was fascinating and depressing, and important for understanding the entire issue. One fact she shared, which I found both unsurprising but also depressing as hell, was that the most important predictor of opposition to paying student athletes was if someone had a negative view of black people. Yikes.

With this history firmly grounded, Ms. Luther moves on to discuss the ways Universities, the NCAA and police will try to simply make the reports of rape and assault go away. Or, Coaches and Athletic Directors will claim that the cases just aren’t that big of a deal. Finally, she includes my personal (least) favorite – the attempt to just move on, and pretend everything has been handled appropriately. I loathe the ‘we’re looking to the future’ mentality, when the transgressions of the past have not yet been properly addressed. It is infuriating, and this chapter handles this well.

With the field set, Ms. Luther focuses the second half of the book on things that can be done to improve things now. There are ten chapters of varying length; the one that I think is the most critical (if we were to rate them) is the one that explores the reality of what trauma looks like. We so often hear ‘why didn’t she go to the police right away’ or ‘why did she text the guy a week later’ or ‘her story changed,’ but the media doesn’t provide the context for how the brain recovers memories after a traumatic event like a rape or assault.

I think this is an important book. Unfortunately, I cannot see coaches or the NCAA bothering to read it, because it is so critical of them. But if more students, players and journalists took the time to read it, I think we could see some progress. If the subject matter isn’t too triggering for you, I really hope you consider picking it up.

Monday

5

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

The French Cat by Rachael Hale McKenna

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

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This is a book. With pictures of cats. In France.

It’s a gift book; there is a much larger version that I must get my hands on. Normally I wouldn’t review a book like this, but come on!

It has:

1. Pictures of cats

2. In France

3. Coupled with quotes about how awesome cats are, from French intellectuals and artists.

I also learned something – did you know that in Paris cat owners are fined if their cats are found on the street? Explains why I don’t really recall seeing any cats wandering about when I’ve been in Paris.

I’ll be rereading this more than probably any other book. It makes me smile, it makes me want to snuggle my own cats more, and damn it, it makes me want to go back to France.

Monday

5

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Reviews

Four Stars

This is a good book, but it is dense. I started it in early August and just finished it late last night because I didn’t want to carry around such a hefty hardback book, and also because I kind of just wanted to read puffy junk like “Nerve.” But I’m really glad I made it all the way through, because I think it’s an interesting and important work.

Ms. Traister breaks her book down into ten chapters that explore different facets of being an unmarried woman in the U.S., including politics and power, independence, activism, and the reality that it can be very challenging. She doesn’t spend all of her time focusing on well-off white women (as I sort of feared); instead she looks at the different ways being unmarried and a woman intersects with class and race. And these aren’t just young unmarried women – some are older women, some are young mothers, some are older mothers, and some eventually do decide to get married.

The parts that definitely resonated most with me were the sections that covered being in one’s 20s and 30s and single in a large urban area. I spent most of my 20s single, and I lived in NYC. It was mostly fantastic, although I wasn’t actively eschewing dating or staking out a claim as a singleton. I’d go through phases of dating and not dating, enjoying the solitude of being able to wander through Central Park all day on a Saturday and not have to adjust to anyone else’s schedule. And I appreciate that my family never put any pressure on me to meet a man and settle down (it probably helped that they knew I wasn’t having kids). The parts that I didn’t directly relate to – such as discussions of being a single mother, or wanting to go through fertility treatment without a partner – were still very engaging to read.

If you’re interested in some history and some current analysis of how the US treats single women, this is definitely a good choice. Just be prepared for it to take a while to get through.

Friday

2

September 2016

0

COMMENTS

Taking On Sexism in Media: A Little Grassroots Work

Written by , Posted in Feminism

Updated 9/4/16 with better Q13 info.

A couple of weeks ago, when Hope Solo was suspended / terminated from the U.S. Women’s National Team, the local Seattle media was all over it. Some outlets provided an initial article along with several updates, including one when the video of her learning the news was released. However, when I looked back over the Twitter timelines of these same outlets, I noticed something:

No mention of the Seattle Reign as independent from Ms. Solo’s professional challenges. No article about how the Reign were about to play their rivals – the Portland Thorns – in a must-win match to stay in the hunt for the playoffs. Keep in mind, the Reign have won the supporter’s shield two years in a row and is home to some of the best international players in the world (Kim Little, Jess Fishlock, Megan Rapinoe).

So, why the lack of coverage? Especially when non-professional teams such as the two large universities in our state (UW and WSU), along with high school sports, often have their own pages? It can’t be the low attendance numbers – the Reign are at or above the average for attendance. But even if that’s a bit of the argument, couldn’t a counter argument be made that maybe people would be more likely to attend the games if, I don’t know, they heard about them, say, on the evening news? Honestly, I think there’s a bit of sexism here, so I’m going to experiment a bit.

Below is information on the coverage of the Reign in Seattle, and suggestions on ways to reach out and offer some suggestions on improvements. I’ll be taking action this weekend in anticipation of the Sunday match; I’ll provide updates on this site if I hear anything back.

Seattle Times
The Times appears to be the only media outlet in Seattle with a dedicated reporter assigned to soccer, with specific mention of the Reign. Let’s thank him by following him on Twitter: Matt Pentz @mattpentz
(his email is mpentz @ seattletimes dot com)

However, the Times can still improve with their website. While the Reign has section on the banner that you can click on to get their stories, when you click on “Sports” and scroll down, the Times don’t have a dedicated section. I suggest sending your thoughts on this to:
Sports Editor Paul Barrett (pbarrett @ seattletimes dot com)
Sports Page Designer Rich Boudet (rboudet @ seattletimes dot com)

Their twitter account is @SeaTimesSports

Seattle PI
This website has so much going on that their lack of Reign coverage is hardly the start of their problems. The soccer page is all Sounders (schedule, results, stats); the only Reign coverage on the page are headlines about Hope Solo. All of the coverage for both the Reign and the Sounders seems pulled from the AP.

Yikes.

There is no dedicated sports reporter, so while we could push for more Reign coverage is seems like a waste of time.

Q13
I feel like Q13 should be better. The only stories on the sports page about women’s soccer are three stories about Hope Solo. Again, I get the appeal, but I do want to point out that the reason people in Seattle care is because she plays for our team. I mean, the site has articles about Colin Kaepernick but nothing on the Reign beating their rivals on Sunday. It’s obnoxious.

And, in looking at Twitter, it seems the last time the Sports Director Aaron Levine mentioned the Reign in a tweet was in August 2015, BUT apparently he did a great piece on the ridiculousness of the pitch during the Western NY match, so he seems like an ally. Let’s foster that.

I suggest a couple of things:

Send an email to tips @ q13fox dot com. This is for news tips but also website comments, so perhaps we can point out that they need to have more coverage of the Reign. And while he doesn’t have an email address, I suggest tweeting some questions to Sports Director Aaron Levine @aaronq13Fox.

Their twitter account is @Q13Fox

KIRO 7
This one got me excited. If you hover over sports on their website, there is a Reign section! I clicked it and saw all of these articles, including multiple ones from the Portland match last week. But then I realized the link had just sent me to the Reign’s blog, not original reporting. Meanwhile Sounders has their own page with original reporting. And if you just click on KIRO sports, you get a page with multiple articles about the Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders and Storm. Yay! Storm! But Boo! No Reign.

I’m wondering if Steve Raible might be a good in on this one. However, another option is to email the generic newsroom with a question; unfortunately they only have a contact us page: http://www.kiro7.com/about-us/submit-a-news-tip

Their twitter account is @KIRO7Seattle

KING 5
All the professional teams have a page except the Reign. And, as we’ve seen before, the Huskies and Cougars and High School have pages. In fact, this image shows all of the options under Sports on their page; the Reign are nowhere on there:

Menu

They don’t have a direct email address, just a form online, so I suggest filling it out and asking them what the deal is. http://www.king5.com/about/contact-us

Their twitter account is @KING5Sports

KOMO 4 News
The main KOMO sports page has no section for Reign. It does have a section for the Storm (hurrah!) At one point this week there was an article about Hope Solo, with a byline from “AP / KOMO reporter.”

I do suggest sending some emails: you can reach the webmaster (webteam @ komonews dot com) or the comments (tips @ komonews dot com)

Their twitter account is @KOMO4Sports


Alright. There’s my analysis. If you’d like to join me in tweeting at these media outlets, here are their accounts:

@SeaTimesSports
@Q13Fox
@KIRO7Seattle
@KING5Sports
@KOMO4Sports

Wednesday

24

August 2016

0

COMMENTS

What Does A Word Cost?

Written by , Posted in Random

About six months and a whole lot of money, if you’re Hope Solo, and the word is ‘coward.’ US Soccer has terminated its contract with Ms. Solo for the comments she made after losing to Sweden during the Olympics, and suspended her for six months.

On the one hand – she isn’t what some people seem to want in a female athlete. She gets in trouble, she doesn’t always apologize, and she has an attitude. I like her more than I like Clint Dempsey, but that seems to be a comparable player. Both are really good, both seem to have giant chips on their shoulders, and both don’t seem interested in apologizing for who they are.

On the other hand – really? Six months for that? It seems … excessive.

(Maybe those are both the same hand? I don’t know.)

Also, as some others have mentioned, it’s super convenient that she was only suspended for 30 days after the van borrowing DUI / fight with her nephew , which meant she missed no real competition. But now that the world cup and Olympics are over, US Soccer cares about her attitude?

That’s a bit rough to even pretend to believe.

More info here: http://www.si.com/planet-futbol/2016/08/24/uswnt-hope-solo-suspended-us-soccer-six-months-olympics-sweden-cowards

 

Sunday

21

August 2016

0

COMMENTS

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

Nerve

I usually reserve two stars for really bad books (the coveted 1 star remains, I believe, only awarded to that Cinderella mess from a couple years back). But this year when I look back on the books I’ve rated as three stars, they are all better than this one. So keep that in mind.

I picked this up because the Pajiba review of the film that came out earlier this year was pretty good. I’ve just gone back and re-read the review and it looks like the filmmakers took the names and premise from the book but changed pretty much everything else. Probably for the best.

In case you don’t know the premise, here it is: there’s a real-time live action game show that involves individuals signing up to complete recorded dares for prizes. Vee, tired of being outshined by her best friend, decides to sign up.

But let’s back up. The book starts out with a prologue that – spoiler alert – is never resolved. I mean, we figure out (sort of) what happens, but still. Not great writing.

Anyway, you don’t know the prologue never gets resolved until the end of the book. So yay for that. But the next glaring problem is that a 17-year-old in Washington state would be able to sign up for this game without parental permission. Moving past that, the naiveté of the main character is sort of mind boggling. I suppose it’s necessary for the plot, but I’m not sure.

It all takes place in Seattle over the course of I think three days, so the action is compact. The dares increase in difficulty / awkwardness / danger, until the ‘grand finale’ dare, which is so ridiculous. Like, I get that some young people make poor decisions, but come on.

Also, there’s this weird storyline about how maybe the main character tried to kill herself at some point, which doesn’t really totally get resolved.

Then the book ends, there’s an epilogue sort of (which again doesn’t address the prologue at all – it’s like it never happened), and then it’s over. I read it in a day, and I’m not mad I read it, it just wasn’t good.

Saturday

20

August 2016

0

COMMENTS

How Not To Be An Asshole When … Mocking Politicians

Written by , Posted in Politics

Last week, statues of Donald Trump popped up in a few locations. One was Seattle, and I saw a few people linking to the main article in the Stranger about it. I caught myself giggling at the allegedly comment by the NYC Parks Department about not allowing any ‘unauthorized erections, regardless of size’ on their property. But then I realized I was laughing not at Trump, but at the idea that tiny penis = bad, and that Trump believes this, and so saying he has a tiny penis will hurt him.

Others have covered this topic as well, but I did feel the need to comment, because it was a reminder to me of how I’m still figuring out how to set aside old, easy (and shitty) ways of expressing my anger and frustration. Ha ha! Trump is fat, so he’s bad. Ha ha! Trump has a tiny penis, and we know he’s super sensitive about that, so he’s bad.

Ew. No. He’s bad for a whole lot of reasons, but having a human-shaped body with some form of genitalia is not one of them.

Rich Smith said in the Stranger:

“I’m not personally offended by any of these things—the body-shaming, the backhanded insult to the trans community and to women, the gender restrictive expectations for men—but it’s easy to see that nearly every element of the statue rests on harmful stereotypes. All stereotypes are cliches, and cliches make bad art. The piece fails on its own terms. It’s made using Trump’s sense of humor, Trump’s aesthetic texture, Trump’s sensibility. It makes us all into Trump supporters. (Side note: If that’s the point of the work, then I take everything back—it’s WAY more sophisticated than it appears.)”

I actually am personally offended, because body shaming and ideals of masculinity and femininity are all kinds of fucked up and affect everyone to some degree, but setting that aside, I like the rest of what Mr. Smith says in that paragraph. This is lazy art meant to get people laughing and not thinking.

It’s like when people make jokes about Chris Christie eating a donut. Yes, the guy is fat, and he may or may not like donuts. But him being fat is not what makes him abhorrent; his policies and his statements to other human beings are what make him abhorrent. Actually naming the issue with these vile politicians, instead of falling back on jokes that do nothing but insult people who share similar physical characteristics, is a way to call out what they are doing wrong. Donald Trump isn’t horrible for this country because of the size of his waist or his penis; he is horrible for this country because he would do things like require purity tests for people who want to immigrate here.

The Establishment (are you reading them yet? you should be) has an even better take, adding much more to the discussion:

“Additionally, ridiculing Trump and his base doesn’t make marginalized people safer. In fact, such open ridicule of Trump can have violent consequences for Black people even if they aren’t the ones doing it. Just this week a Black man was stabbed in Olympia, Washington, by a Trump supporter who felt like he needed to fight back in the midst of increasing racial and partisan tensions. Escalating these tensions through mud­slinging doesn’t serve any political purpose. It does, however, have the potential to endanger the most vulnerable people in our communities. The only people who can engage in such meaningless and potentially lethal “joking” are those whose bodies enable them to feel relatively safe in a world where Trump supporters roam freely.”