What's Going On?

Indeed! I worked a while on the site and added The Events Calendar plug-in. I have been checking the development of various calendars, but liked this one because it supports importing events in bulk. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to enter data quickly, and the Internet—with its sub-second delays and several-second page-load times—just doesn't cut it for me. So I enter the event information offline and can import it en masse.

Anyway, what this means for you, dear reader, is that the events are now in a link above—right below the logo there:

Click on the Events link to get to the list of events coming up.

Click on the Events link to get to the list of events coming up.

From there the events are listed from the current time forward. You can figure out how to switch to calendar view and day-view if you'd like, or search for things. There are also links to Google Maps, and you can even export a single event or all the entries on a page to your own calendar. Partly for nostalgia, I bundle all the weekly events from Thursday to Wednesday in a category which I include in the weekly e-mail I send out. It's also so I can export all the events for a given week without having to go day-by-day, and without grabbing duplicates from future dates by accident (e.g. you can go to the category, say, for the week related to this post called JayceLand 2015-Apr-16 and export all the events on each page.)

I'll probably tweak things from time-to-time, but it seems like it's working for now.

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The Hunting Ground and College Rape

I had a chance to see The Hunting Ground at the Little— a documentary about rape and sexual assault on American college campuses—and how its occurrence is systematically hidden from the public. This isn't new to me, and I expected an affirmation of what I already knew. But I was quite horrified at the breadth of the problem, and at these women (and some men) who were raped and then ignored by the schools they adore—or worse, blamed for the forceful, uninvited actions of someone else. The cover-up is so pervasive that there is even backlash against victims, accusing them of fabricating sexual assault stories for attention (although the broad consensus is false-rape accusations happen about as much as for other crimes; and that it's simply impossible to acquire accurate statistics.)

The supposed silver lining in the film is about a group of women who have successfully used Title IX—a law designed to offer equal access to education—to force universities to handle all accusations of sexual assault in a fair way, since doing otherwise fosters an environment that encourages sexual assault therefore denying an equal education. It has grown into a movement involving hundreds of universities across the U.S.

After the film, the panel consisted of two RIT representatives: Stacy DeRooy, and Dr. Dawn Meza Soufleris. In the discussion, it was revealed that SUNY Brockport and Hobart & Williams Smith were two local colleges cited in Title IX cases. Since the panel was from RIT, there was a lot of discussion of RIT's actions, but I was unimpressed.

I attended RIT starting in 1988. Although they made efforts to teach responsible sexuality, I wasn't sexually active and didn't seek out guidance. In fact, I tended to avoid it as much as I could. At that age, though, I was definitely a horny animal. And I did make lots of mistakes when approaching the opposite sex. I think the general problem was that I wished to avoid conflict, so I would engage in behaviors that brought me close to the woman I desired but didn't require that I ask permission. This was a very dangerous position to be in, and it was only dumb luck that my circle of friends did not encourage aggressive behavior. If I were encouraged to, say, corner a woman I desired, I think I might have. And while my 19-year-old self wouldn't have raped anyone, I guarantee it would not have been a mentally and sexually healthy experience for the woman.

So I look at it from that perspective: what is RIT doing now to address horny teenaged boys being given advice by their peers that may or may not be true, respectful and healthy? Unfortunately I was only able to ask what RIT is doing today—without the backstory.

Apparently they are complying with the The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (or Clery Act) and reporting crimes. I thought I'd play "prospective student" and see if I could find the report from the RIT website. There was no easy path—in fact, safety and crime were not mentioned on any of the main pages, and only after burrowing through Emergencies to Campus Safety that I found a link to the federal and state compliance documents. Indeed they noted reports of about a dozen sexual assaults each year, making the rate around 0.07% compared to 0.05% for rapes in Rochester (112/210,000 in 2012). Unfortunately, crimes are still filtered through Campus Safety which reinforces a conflict-of-interest. They really should abandon Campus Safety when it comes to handling criminal cases (assault, rape, theft, etc.) and work directly with the police.

They also have a program to encourage "yes means yes" and that that is not a blanket-"yes" but an immediate one. That's all well and good, but it would completely miss "past-me". I would have been aware of the policies and it would have somewhat affected my decisions, but it would not have done anything about my avoidance of asking. If my 19-year-old self could have articulated it: "sure, yes means yes and no means no, but if I don't ask, I don't have to deal with it."

I mean, these are some really deep-seated problems and I don't think it's unique to me. I grew up in a sexually conservative household, so there was no talk of sex—nobody was comfortable being open about it. What I derived from that is that sex is something shameful and not to be spoken of—remnants of that continue to haunt me. So what do you do with someone who has never talked openly about sex? How do you explain "yes means yes" and what an "enthusiastic consent" looks like? Where do you start with someone who is still thinking "how do I attract women?" as if it were a state of being rather than a play-filled negotiation between two individuals?

In the end, it is not a victim's problem or fault if jee is sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. It is entirely in the hands of the potential assailant, and it is from that foundation that all education programs should be built.

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Movies in March, 2015

  1. 20,000 Days on Earth at the Dryden, March 4: Jenn and I caught this quasi-documentary. It's a fascinating film that ostensibly documents a "day in the life" of musician Nick Cave. However, it is fiction-within-a-fiction in that it actually documents Nick Cave's public persona, and as such is a fake documentary. Regardless, it's a unique and wonderful method of storytelling.
  2. A Year Along the Abandoned Road at the Dryden, March 5: I was thrilled to get to this first of two short films. This one is an unbelievable time-lapse film shot in motion along a road in a Norwegian lakeside village. It must have been a strange and unique experience to shoot—apparently taking one image each day, moving the camera a few inches, then waiting to take the next image the next day, and repeating for a whole year. It's an eerie and beautiful experience to watch, making one feel like an otherworldly being floating through the world unseen.
  3. An Injury to One at the Dryden, March 5: The title is taken from the Union phrase, "an injury to one is an injury to all", and the film documents the relationship of business and labor in the mining town of Butte, Montana in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's a haunting and evocative film that highlights the philosophy that winners write history. In this case, the winners were the lucrative mining companies; the biggest loser being International Workers of the World (IWW) organizer Frank Little who was murdered by mining company goons parties unknown.
  4. Whiplash at the Little, March 7: Jenn, Chris, and I went to see this together, although I was leaning toward another movie. The first thing I noticed was the dark and muddy digital recording—in attempting to capture the early morning of New York like an homage to Taxi Driver, it only succeeds in making itself look like a 1970's horror movie with inky blacks and dingy colors. Fortunately, I got over that. The movie moves along well and pits two passionate characters against one another: one a driven, aspiring drummer, and the other a abusive music professor obsessed with perfection in his collegiate ensemble. I assure this is no spoiler: the moment of divining greatness is not something that can be found through calculation, but rather through passionate happenstance.
  5. The Gang's All Here at the Dryden, March 16: I went to the Senior Matinee today … I guess to feel even younger than at an average Dryden screening. I guess set in mid-war America, it makes sense, but otherwise it's about a reprehensible man who stalks and rapes a dancer (née "uses his soldier's bravado to win the heart of a dancer"), all the while stringing along his soon-to-be fiancée. Fortunately it works out in the end because the girlfriend knew all along it was just a relationship based on familial ties just like the rapist believes, and the dancer loves the rapist, so it wasn't rape after all! Howeverrr … it is worth seeing two rather unbelievable Carmen Miranda-centered Busby Berkeley dance numbers that push the boundaries of cinema and clearly pushed the limits of Technicolor filming (just watch those giant cameras shake as they are rapidly hoisted into the air—yikes!)
  6. Cotton Road at the Little, March 21?: Jenn and I caught just one of the films at the Greentopia Film Festival this year. It's the story of how cotton is grown in South Carolina, shipped all over the world (particularly China) where it is made into fabric and clothing, then shipped back to South Carolina. Notable to me was how the manual laborers—the American cotton farmers and the Chinese clothing makers—existed in insufferable conditions while each step removed lived in more comfort: the American industrial cotton gin, the refined cotton warehouses, and the Chinese warehouses for fabrics faring better; the shipping companies in both nations and the American retailers faring best of all. Jenn and I both found the music to be cloying and melancholic (revealing the only evidence of the filmmaker's bias), but many other people liked it. While the Rochester audience lobbed lackluster questions at director Laura Kissel, she revealed at one point that the hardest place to film was not in China but in American retail stores. One final note: the Greentopia Film Festival asked us to fill out a survey online for a chance to win an Apple iPad—without a lick of irony—despite the widespread knowledge that Apple's products are made in Chinese factories with working conditions as bad or worse than depicted in the film.
  7. What We Do in the Shadows at the Little, March 22: Jenn and I went to this hilarious mockumentary about a group of vampires living in New Zealand in modern times. I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I was pleased that I found it extremely funny. Perhaps it was from bottling up all my criticisms after my recent indoctrination into the Cult of Buffy, but the juxtaposition humor was plentiful.
  8. The Red Shoes at the Dryden, March 27: Jenn and I went to this Technicolor classic featuring the revered camerawork of Jack Cardiff—which was, sadly, projected from a restored 35mm print that itself did not use the Technicolor 3-layer process. It's that 3-layer process with its imperfect color registration and the impossibility of perfect focus (since each color is a different distance from the lens) that gives it its nearly imperceptible shimmer whereas the modern color emulsion made from digitally-scanned 3-strip negatives has perfect registration and a single focal plane that affords razor-sharp perfection, as undesirable as it is in this particular case. Anyway, the movie itself is quite good: music student Julian and ballerina Victoria join a ballet troupe with a hard-nosed director (making the later Whiplash comparable in subject-matter). As both rise to stardom, the latest production is The Red Shoes, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story in which a dancer wishes for red shoes which happen to be cursed and she can't stop dancing until she finally dies. Both get intertwined in one another as they are central to the ballet.
  9. Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) at the Little, March 29: Jenn was excited to see this after seeing the name Agustín Almodóvar, thinking he directed it, but it was actually Damián Szifrón and Almodóvar produced it. It's a series of 6 short stories of vengeance. And as is the case with successfully-executed vengeance: it's always and already gone wrong. The tales are told as black comedy and largely succeed … I thought the more-petty violations made for funnier stories. In the end, it all felt kind of repetitive, and I was reminded how much I liked the similarly revenge-themed black-comedy, God Bless America, which I wrote about.
  10. OnFilm Shorts by Karpo Godina and Davorin Marc at the University of Rochester Hoyt Auditorium, March 30: I go to see this fantastic program—check out the blog post for the complete review.

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A Fistful of Movie Moments

Bumbling around the various movie blogs I read regularly, I found A Fistful of Moments Blogathon! on A Fistful of Films blog (which I just started reading). The gist is this:

We all have them in the back of our minds; those moments that make us think "man, this is what the movies are all about". We relive those moments in our mind's eye, remembering them and dissecting them and adoring them. They come in all shapes and sizes, from all types of films, and yet they all share one very important aspect; they define why we love the movies. It could be the way that the moment is cut; the way it's edited together. It could be the way the moment uses it's actors to evoke a powerful emotion from us. It could be the way that music floods the scene and draws us even closer to the moment in question. It could be a grand climax, a breathtaking introduction or a simple interchange. It could be any and all things, because for every film lover, the list is different.

At first I thought I'd start by skipping the most famous, obvious examples—the opening of Citizen Kane, for instance—but then I found so many well-received movies in my own list that I couldn't resist including them. I'm also going to go ahead and mention these scene descriptions almost always contain spoilers—there's just no way around it. I'll vaguely sort them from more subtle to more bold.

So to continue to the spoiler-riddled list, please continue reading.
Continue reading

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