Better Examples

That poor Gillette ad got a lot of comments of all kinds. This morning I read another commentary, mostly due to the title – Why The Gillette Ad Isn’t Just About Boys and Men – It’s About My Three Daughters, Too:

When it comes to female characters, our daughters (three of them: ages 7, 5 and 2) have much more choice than when I was growing up in the ’80s. They are fans of Merida from Brave and Moana from, well, Moana, both girls who push back on what their societies expect of them. They just discovered the newly re-launched Carmen Sandiego with its kick-ass female lead, and Doc McStuffins is always a solid choice.

But when it comes to male characters, most of them consist of lightly camouflaged stereotypes of the “strong man” trope. Both Moana and Merida’s fathers are large, physically strong and are chiefs of their tribe. They only reluctantly give up their conservative views about their daughters by the end of the movies. Merida’s brothers (triplets) are always portrayed as fighting or eating, a classic example of the “boys will be boys” trope called out in the Gillette spot.

And good luck with anything from the past. Our daughters recently watched the Christmas classic Home Alone, where Kevin McCallister takes his queues from the male characters he sees on TV in gangster and western movies. “It’s my house and I have to defend it,” he concludes, setting the stage for the violence to come.

I know this is something that our very own Giliell has been saying from time to time, and I can only agree, so it was nice to see it in writing: choices for girls have broadened into the traditionally ‘masculine’, but boys have not seen that same expansion into the traditionally ‘feminine’ space.

But that article pointed me towards another mencare (I did, I really did!) product company out there, with a much better ad: Harry’s.

Harry’s, another razor company, has an ad I really like but hasn’t seen nearly as much fanfare as the Gillette ad. In fact, I believe it works better in actually changing our views of men.

… Says Joseph Wilson at the CBC.

Is he right? Well, the ad features Ludacris (of Fast and Furious fame, there he is in the back!):

A very masculine set of movies, I’ll tell you, and I’ve seen them all. But Ludacris, one among the manly men, does things a little differently in the short video. I think I like it:

Whether you prefer Harry’s method or Gillette’s, both are much-needed in the dialogue about masculinity. One for calling out the bad behaviour, the other for just plain showing the better example. More, please.

(No song today. I had some ideas, but I think this time I will leave it at that.)

 

Season of the Ice Sculpture

Just checking in, with some lovely photos from the old military fort on the west coast:

Foto: Māris Ankevics

Winter is in full swing here, with the right proper terrible weather we should be having this time of year. I’m thoroughly enjoying it (this is my season), although I’m enjoying the accompanying flu season far less.

Foto: Māris Ankevics

I hope everyone is staying warm and safe and healthy! I have a feeling we still have some… interesting… weather ahead of us.

 

Sex, Torture and the Nazis

Well, if you came here for sex, or torture, or Nazis, I am not sorry to disappoint you. I just stole that title from the CBC article featured in this post.

Instead, I want to talk about Norm Eastman. For someone whose art was so ubiquitous, there is surprisingly little information to find – some sources even label him an American artist. He is, however, Canadian – the CBC story is fairly short, but it provides interesting insight into an artist whose art is simultaneously recognizable and somehow obscure. I think part of this obscurity is due to the perceived anonymity of many cover artists, especially those working in pulp fiction (that is, not ‘literature’, according to… someone). Well, perhaps with time, notoriety – or at least, recognition – eventually follows:

Few people would have guessed that shy, unassuming Norm Eastman — born in St. Stephen [New Brunswick] and trained at Mount Allison University — was one of the top illustrators fuelling the fantasies of a generation of young men.

“We used to hide those illustrations under the bed or in the closet,” said Jane Eastman, Norm’s wife of 27 years.

“He thought it was funny. Norm probably was the most moral person I’ve ever known, he really was. It was a matter of being able to afford a loaf of bread and peanut butter to eat.”

Times sure do change. In 2019, original Norman Eastman illustrations can sell to collectors for as much as $15,000.

But how Eastman’s bodice-ripping illustrations made it from small-town New Brunswick into the hands of millions of readers is a story that remains, for the most part, untold.

Pause here, because I would like to point out that Eastman was certainly talented – I particularly like this one, one of his early self-portraits:

Portrait of the artist as a young man: a self-portrait in oils Norm Eastman painted in 1952 as his final project in the fine arts program at Mount Allison University. (Submitted by Owens Art Gallery ) From the CBC link.

I like his feel for light and shadow, all those detailed accents and reflections. His style here reminds me of someone well-known, but I can’t for the life of me say who. Anyway, moving on:

In 1958, Eastman brought his portfolio to the iconic U.S. artist Norman Rockwell, who said Eastman’s art was “of very high quality” and encouraged him to move to the United States.

Eastman took Rockwell’s advice — and in 1959 moved to New York City, where he rented a studio in an badly heated, roach-infested warehouse. Breaking into the publishing scene was slow going.

“He was very poor in New York,” his wife said. “It was really, really poor living.”

He got his first big break drawing for men’s magazines — but the subject matter was fairly predictable.

“They wanted beautiful girls, big bosoms and torture,” Jane said. “But never show the girl grimacing. She’s always got to be pretty.”

That last line there. How tenacious these ideas can be.

[Read more…]

What Lunar Eclipse?

For a bunch of fanatics with cameras, I feel like we’ve really dropped the ball on this one.

To partially remedy the situation, here’s my favourite photo as posted by the CBC:

An aircraft passes the full moon as the lunar eclipse begins in Frankfurt. (Michael Probst/Associated Press)

 

(Turaidas Roze was a big thing in the ’80s and ’90s, with the lead singer becoming a very prominent figure in music circles even unto this day. This one’s called Dedication to Midnight, and is a break-up song – the chorus: Don’t come with me, I will go on alone; Who will accompany me? The Moon and the Big Dipper.)

Cracking the Iron Curtain

[Note: This is not a historian’s overview of the events, so if you want to pick at the historical details, feel free to do so but don’t expect me to participate. I have compiled several sources of information and added my own personal impressions. That is all.]

It was two weeks in the frigid January air, two weeks waiting for an unknown future, two weeks that culminated in a night of violence but a final victory, of sorts.

The Barricades (LatvianBarikādes) were a series of confrontations between the Republic of Latvia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in January 1991 which took place mainly in Riga. The events are named for the popular effort of building and protecting barricades from 13 January until about 27 January. Latvia, which had declared restoration of independence from the Soviet Union a year earlier, anticipated that Soviet Union might attempt to regain control over the country by force. After attacks by the Soviet OMON on Riga in early January, the government called on people to build barricades for protection of possible targets (mainly in the capital city of Riga and nearby Ulbroka, as well as Kuldīga and Liepāja). Six people were killed in further attacks, several were wounded in shootings or beaten by OMON. Most victims were shot during the Soviet attack on the Latvian Ministry of the Interior on January 20. One other person died in a building accident reinforcing the barricades. Casualties among Soviet loyalists are considered likely, but the exact number remains unknown. A total of 15,611 people have registered as having been participants of the Barricades,[citation needed] but other data suggests that more than 32,000 Latvians took part.

(wikipedia)

There’s a small photo gallery here (25 photos).

[Read more…]

Not a Solution

To be honest, it’s a serious medical condition, but I can’t help but feel a smidgeon of envy:

A woman in China is making headlines for a rare type of temporary hearing condition that makes her unable to hear men. According to the Daily Mail, the patient, only identified as Ms. Chen, woke up one morning and couldn’t hear her boyfriend speak.

Unfortunately, the condition seems to be brought on by a lot of stress and fatigue:

The night before, Chen felt nausea and suffered from a ringing in her ears. She was also under a lot of stress, working late and not getting enough sleep. Chen thought little of it and went to sleep as usual before waking up with the condition.

Doctors were initially puzzled by her symptoms, but she was eventually diagnosed with “reverse-slope hearing loss, in which she could only hear high frequencies.”

[…]

Dr. Xiaoqing believes fatigue and too much stress may have contributed to Chen’s hearing loss and expects her to make a full recovery.

I’m glad to hear, but perhaps in the meantime, someone can invent a certain type of earphones that produces the same effect? I’d buy a pair and wear them at work. It won’t stop the mansplaining, but it might buffer enough sound to reduce my annoyance.

Driftwood Art

This short informative video caught my eye the other day:

The CBC covered the artist a couple of years ago:

When Alex Witcombe decided to make a raptor from driftwood, he never thought it would get so much attention.

The Comox Valley resident enjoys strolling on beaches and looking at the driftwood, and that became his studio space.

“I like the gnarly pieces,” he says. “Ones with character.”

One summer day he was walking on Stories Beach in Campbell River when he was just inspired by the driftwood and got to work, building ‘Sheila the dinosaur’ in just a day.

And now he does animals, aliens, and imaginary beasts, too! He’s also on Instagram. Here’s a couple more samples, via Seashore Inspirations:

And my favourite:

 

Mornings of the New Year

Another round of sametimesameplacing, this time with a variation (and no, it’s not the darkness). So first, the classic shot:

I freely admit, this is a week ago, so maybe it isn’t quite as dark anymore…
©rq, all rights reserved.

 

This time, however, here’s a peek back towards the station and the town, just as the outbound (outbound from the capital, that is) train is arriving:

©rq, all rights reserved.

We have since received a lot more snow, which has all melted again, but at least it looks a little bit like winter.

Today’s song talks a lot about December, but it still sounds great in January. It’s from Blue Rodeo, a classic Canadian band previously mentioned by voyager:

Hey hey I guess it hasn’t hit me yet
I fell through this crack
And I kinda lost my head
I stand transfixed
Before this street light
Watching the snow fall
On this cold December night
And out in the middle of Lake Ontario
The same snow is falling
On the deep silent water
The great dark wonder
Into the waves of my heart
Into the waves of my heart
Of my heart
Sounds like home to me.

Reinterpreting Propaganda

To get it out of the way, Charly started it. And reminded me of a delightful bit of propaganda reinterpretation. Puts a smile on my face every time.

The original FB post was this nice, succinct narrative:

The Soviet-Chinese propaganda posters seem to be the story of a beautiful interracial gay couple who met in a metallurgical, got married and had beautiful children and a farm

In any case, some explanation:

In October 1949, Mao Zedong announced the creation of the People’s Republic of China. China and Russia had long been allies and now, as communist states, that relationship was more important to both countries than ever before.

Communist propaganda has always been an integral part of that particular political structure, and Chinese-Russian propaganda attests to how much each country wanted to show the world they had a united front – China and Russia walking hand-in-hand, happy and gay, so to speak. The posters they used to get this idea across, however, may have been a bit too literal.

Here’s a quick sample of a couple of my favourites. Commentary at the link:

Slightly different, but no less amusing, captions available at imgur, too. If only real-life international relations were as friendly.

And too bad modern day propaganda doesn’t lend itself so easily to left-leaning reinterpretation (please point out if I’m wrong).

 

Perfect

Just goes to show, Estonians are show-offs. Even their rivers make perfect circles of ice (article in Latvian, but it’s the visual that’s important).

Video here, I can’t seem to embed it, except like this: .

At any rate, it’s another interesting natural ice phenomenon known by various names, and observed in various parts of the world. Here’s National Geographic:

While the Russian ice circle is rare for its large size, the phenomenon isn’t quite as unusual as it might seem. Ice disks have been filmed in North DakotaWashington state, and Michigan.

Early theories of why the disks formed centered on erosion. Ice disks observed in 1987 and 1994 were in the path of flowing river waters. A paper published in 1997 by the Royal Meteorological Society theorized that flowing river water created a whirlpool effect. As the ice spun, researchers theorized, the borders eroded into a circular shape.

Published in the journal Physical Review E, researchers from the University of Liege in Belgium found that temperature changes—and not flowing rivers—prompted the spinning. As water warms it becomes less dense, and as it’s cooled by surface ice, a vortex forms.

Neat!

I was stuck between two songs, but this seems the most obvious choice:

(runnerup)

 

Stepping Out of the Silence

I’m working on it. It doesn’t help that I have writings planned out in my head and keep choosing not to put them down in writing when I have half a chance.

In the meantime, see this excellent winter weather (this is Sunday morning around 11, in case anyone is wondering about my early rising habits).

©rq, all rights reserved.