I suit up in my cold-weather welding gear and report. The whole works was built into an iceberg. The platform in the centre, atop the stack under which sits the drill that goes down down into the rich rich reserves of petrochemicals. But there's something amiss. We caught a whale in there, and she is not happy.

Bothered, I cut out early of  shift. We fly out of there. But I don't know how to use the skimmer.

Despite cutting out early, I still have a job and a paycheque. We go back later. The inside of the berg is slush and there's a black-and-rainbow sheen atop it. The whale is there. Still unhappy, but not in a mystic environmentalist kind of way - just a "I don't like this sh*t" kind of way."

Our office boss, she is there in her finery and her black and red robes with her twin daughters. She negotiates with the whale.d

 How to get more auditions from a range of people?
I know film better. Here's how it works there - I imagine theatre is largely the same?
In film, if a casting breakdown does not specifically say "all ethnicities" and ethnicity is not otherwise specified, it means that casting wants to see white people first and everyone else second. Or it's a whites-only gigs.
Agents submit POC as "wild cards" to these shake up assumptions. I'm told wild cards are 5-20% of agency submissions - and this percentage includes white people who are wild cards in some other way. People who are not of a normative body-weight and white and cis and nominally able-bodied are kind of screwed in this system. Agents know not to rock the race-boat.
What results is that less-castable actors cannot get paid work. A white actor is more likely to get paid to train while they act, but a POC actor is more likely to have to pay to take classes. And then "experience" is a factor in getting hired. So even if they pay to train just as hard as a white actor who is getting paid to train, when someone POC has to go up against an equally skilled white person, the white person will, on average, have more credits and thus be perceived as 'more experienced' and therefore better.
Some people run out of willpower to study for a job they will never get due to their skin colour (or size, or gender or age, or ability). Other people just run out of money.
Thus, as someone doing casting, there are a few things one can do to see a broader range of people:
1 - Question who needs to look like what. People have asked me to distribute breakdowns where everyone in a family has to be white - because they've already cast one white person. I ask, why is it so important that this family can't be mixed-race? Why no step-parents? Why no adopted children? Hell, why not get people to stretch their minds a bit - if ancient rome can be recreated in a 20'x20' area where Romans are played by savage Nords and Gauls who would normally be Slaves-of-War and everyone speaks in English poetry, why can't non-adopted non-half siblings be different colours?
2 - Spell it out in your breakdowns that you are looking for a variety of people. Don't just say 'open ethnicity' or 'we encourage everyone to apply' as many CD's are writing this just to avoid lawsuits (e.g. FOX in 2012?) and then go on to cast a sunscreen party. You can reserve some roles for POC. You can say "we want this show to have the diversity of Vancouver and will cast accordingly. Mixed race actors especially welcome."
3 - Make sure your CD understands this and knows how to make it happen. Interview them to see how they will do outreach. When all else fails, say "See this chart of racial diversity? I need my production to look like that. How will you make this happen?"
4 - Send the breakdowns out far and wide. Not just the major services, but community organizations that will reach the people who you want to cast. There are a lot of ex-actors out there who quit for the above reasons, who are motivated and eager to land a role and will play it well.
6 - For highly specific roles - well - don't be so specific. Does a character really have to be 28-30? Could she be 20-40? Wider net. More fish.
7 - If you really must cast specifically (must be 5'2"-5'4", have one eye and speak Etruscan), be ready to either fly people in or spend a little extra time with a newbie actor. Fortunately (at least in film) said newbie actors are often non-union and will be happy to attend some mandatory classes.



What else to do:

As a manager - look in a human resources textbook for the chapter on equity hiring. It's 30 pages that will change your job.

As a creative - when someone asks for your input, push for diversity in casting on all demographic fronts. DIscuss breakdowns. Circle stereotypes and assumptions in red pen and explain them to the writer.

As a member of the community - Buy tickets and help promote only those companies that would actually hire from the range of people found in Vancouver. And... more long-term... any organization that receives over a quarter million a year in government money has to have an equity hiring program. I want to push for this in all industries and see that casting is held up to the same standards as every other kind of HR. I should really talk to my MP.

For the curious and queer: from a recent email to someone who had asked for input on casting trans people


Cool. What's the timeline from here?

Twelve is actually pretty small. We got about a hundred trans people auditioning for The Switch. I think there are a lot more people to reach. With the general call for The Switch, we found that about 50% of people couldn't really act, and only about 15% were sufficiently directable. But of the six people we cast, only one had a demo reel. So I'd suggest increasing the volume of actors.

You could get a *lot* more applicants if you could write a post as [TITLE OF MOVIE] that can be shared. It could go out over social media very fast that way as people will re-share it. The deadline is January 5th, so I'd recommend writing it today. Make sure *not* to include a demo-reel requirement (of everyone who applied to The Switch, only one had a demo reel). Be clear and simple in wording - apparantly most people don't know a "CV" is.

I'm not sure where you're sitting on this, but I wanted to be clear on the following. I would like to see this project succeed. The reason I am checking in so much is that I really do hope you find a rockin' trans person for the role. A pro-trans rom-com would be a great addition to the media roster - good for you, good for everybody.

Dan said that you might go with a cis actor but I would very strongly recommend casting a trans person, not just for political reasons, but for practical business ones. 

But to touch on politics before moving on to business: my concern is what the dialogue will be if you cannot find a trans actor that you like and decide to cast a cis person. If this happens, people will ask "why not cast a trans person?" I've seen other directors field this question by saying "we looked but couldn't find anyone" - when they didn't actually conduct much of a search (or in one case, shortlisted a local trans actor, then cut her for a US cis actor). The message that the public takes away is "there are no good trans actors out there." This is not only incorrect (we found 5 capable trans actors in Vancouver alone), but it makes it even harder for trans actors to find work.

Onto business reasons: when we looked for community support for The Switch, one of the first questions we got from almost everyone tied to Queer things was a very cautious "so... are you casting trans people?" When we said "Absolutely yes!" the person asking the question immediately relaxed, and usually offered to help us promote the film. Since then, people have given us free accounting services, free space, free access to RED cams, discounted labour in every department, and a lot of social media exposure. We have had to politely decline many offers from eager volunteers.

By contrast, Queer Film Festivals have, in the past, got pushback from communities when they showed films about trans people that don't have trans people in them - as well as when they showed films about trans people that only have trans people as walk-ons. And since there are more queer movies to pick from, and the transgender media dialogue is picking up, this resistance is only getting more intense. Three years ago, I saw successful efforts to keep film festivals free of Queer movies that Trans people found objectionable. And now, arts film festivals are starting to feel the pressure, as are cable networks.

Things are changing fast. "Transamerica" (trans lead and principle played by cis people, one trans walk-on) was something of a darling when it came out eight years ago - I remember watching it in a room full of trans people, who adored it in 2005 and about one in five trans people had purchased a copy. But now it's viewed as 'problematic' and would not get programmed or receive much VOD traffic. Even two-year old movies are suddenly left out in the cold. No-one I know has bought a DVD of Romeos, and most of what I heard upon leaving the theatre was "It was a good film I guess, but why did they slap fake boobs on a cis guy?"

Conversely, I've seen some work get a lot of promotion within Queer festivals, just for having trans people in them. This got shorts over the cut, and moved B-features into A slots. When The Switch was *just a webseries*, GLAAD called me up to check in and the Huffpost did a story on us.

If you can give me that post, you can probably find a solid trans actor and get lots of positive media exposure. I can even draft it for you, but it does need to be a post coming from [TITLE OF MOVIE] .

Can you do this? 

In response to Joy Smith:



 Under the old laws, sex workers (and their bookkeepers, security and even roommates who were "living off the avails") could be arrested and placed on a life-long sex offender registry, prevented from travelling and have their children seized. And yet the only people I saw actually trying to end this injustice were pro-sex-work groups. People allied with the views espoused in the article, who were "concerned about women and girls," made some noise about the Nordic model, but it was the sex workers who organized and got this law overturned - all at great personal cost and risk. I say we listen to the people who actually fix things.

What of exploitation? A lot of people are horribly exploited and even forced into agriculture, and no one seems to be in favour of banning that. Same for food service, garment manufacture, caregiving, and a lot of other fields that pay a lot less than sex work. These other fields *also* see sexual assault and rape. The solution is not criminalization of the worker, nor of the client - how do you expect labour standards to be upheld when business has to operate in secret? The solution is labour standards, respect and worker organizing. These are much easier things to make happen when people can do their jobs openly and transparently.
As for the Nordic model - I'd like to see stats that actually back this up. Human trafficking stats are dubious: often, travellers and foreign workers suspected of prostitution (read: people of colour, trans people), are stopped, searched and interrogated. Once it is "determined" that they are sex-workers (the evidence can be as little as "had frilly underwear in suitcase") border guards then conclude that they are not "on vacation" but are being trafficked against their will. Border security detains and deports them - all "in the interest of protecting them" of course. I've seen it happen to American actors. I've heard of it happening to East-Asian women on vacation to Australia. It supports the hypothesis that a lot of anti-trafficking leglislation, when practiced, winds up being no more than a thin justification for xenophobia. So I don't buy the stats coming out of it. So please, give me some meticulous research, and until then, let the sex workers decide what's best for themselves.
 Unanimous. They were terribly-designed laws that made sex-work dangerous and now parliament has a year to draft better ones. I don't feel optimistic about Harper, but hopefully new laws will not:
- make it illegal to have a sex worker as a roommate
("living off the avails")
- criminalize doing sex work indoors. In Canada. Where it's cold outside. And also unsanitary and dangerous
("bawdy house")
- checking in to make sure the client isn't potentially violent
("communicating for the purposes of")
- prevent people from learning other trades because they can't tell anyone about their employment history, so they can't have a resume, so they can't get a job
- take away peoples kids
(you can be a rampantly verbally abusive bigot and have kids no problem, but if you do sex work...)
- put escorts on the lifelong sex-offender registry
(Homicide can be removed from your record. Sex work can't.)
- enable police to rape sex workers
A Merreden Proverb, and a sound one in this situation.

Upon viewing this elegant and thorough graduation speech by Neil Gaiman, I was struck by two pieces of advice:

1. Punctual, Genial, Skilled - you only need to be good at two.
Something I'd recently realized upon viewing the careers of local artists.

2. This is really great. You should enjoy this.
Something that blindsided me. Yes, I'm concerned at the unbelievable scads of money that course through this company, like a river, eroding islands in what will hopefully be a lush stream of creativity and employment for many - and not a hoodoo-filled desert. But if I'm going to be putting in tonnes of my own work as well as my life savings, plus calling for help from over a hundred people, then I'd might as well enjoy the ride, no?

Part of an actor's job is to sleep and eat well. To exercise.

Part of a leader's job is to set the tone. To have fun. You pull your bow that much harder, shoot that much further. And so do the people around you. Not only is it silly not to enjoy this, it would be downright irresponsible.

I learn a lot from larp.

I have tried to be all things to all people - including myself. I take on too many commitments, external or internal, then either stress myself or do a job that is not what I'd hoped. Or both. Often both. That level of stress isn't just unpleasant, it's a wearing down of the self's resources.

To get some persepctive on what was going on in my life, I thought of making a character who overcommitted herself and had to choose between wearing herself down, dropping the ball on commitments or both.

But in many games, this is impossible

You see, many larps have a "downtime" system. You write in with your character's actions between sessions; the narrators write back. Due to administrative workload limitations, and/or the push for strategy, this is often limited to three tasks or "actions."

Players know exactly how much their characters can reasonably try to accomplish. There is no more.

Lucky them.

Consider downtime systems - and their applications for real life.

How many actions do you have? How many hours in a week, sister? How many weeks in your life?

My attempts to be what low-imagination forms of "respectable" visions expect of me (a teacher, a tradeswoman) do not work especially well. Like my attempts to become a thing in large part for the respect of others  (a professional, a provider, a writer ), they stagnate. The virtuous ones especially (solar tech, volunteer teacher?, social-work spectrum) - those really bottom out.

My attempts to surprise society with bold and creative plans (President's Choice, Doubleplusgood, Rhino, SFSS, Sculpture?, Femininjas, League of Tomorrow), do seem to work. And being things? Well, that "butch dyke" thing seems to be working out pretty well. The shadowy guerilla feminist organization worked out *for me* until it went mainstream and started (gods forbid) "inviting dialogue."

Sometimes the former creep into the latter - electrical into creative uses of power; metalwork into sculpture; entrepreneurship into organizing for change - but not just any change as it turns out - the creative stuff that drags fiction into the world of fact.

The crazy creative impresses people. But often, in the creative material, they see the potential for toned-down conventional means. Like when people want John Stewart or Rick Mercer for office. I really want to please them. But I don't think I can give them all the conventional they want while preserving my potential for work I'm proud of.

Who else has refused to be what others want of zer, but still achieving, not "flapping zer tail in the mud" like Chuang Tzu?

(Great satirists spring to mind)

For a long time, expecting utopia, I asked myself "isn't there something else you should be doing."

This made it hard to focus.

And my mind raced for alternatives. Ways to fix things. Other ways to live? Projects to get there? And when I couldn't see a road to utopia, I found <i>something</i> to busy my mind with. Something not here, something to deny our slow, imperfect world. 

Last night I said, "No. This is probably the best thing I could be doing. Definitely the best thing now."

And I could focus.
Quarter-year review of resolutions

1. Pursue romance. Fall in love. Get laid more.
Definitely dating...

2. Continue to practice physio. Regain the use of my arm.
Slipped off on it. Getting back into it. Mobility definitely returning/increasing. Wrist exercises commence Thursday.

3. Get cardio exercise 2+ times per week
In training. Should get specific instructions this week

4. Meditate, pray or whatever twice a week for 1⁄2 hour each time.
Not doing it. Journaling though.

5. Listen to my body about sleeping, sun, time outs and food.
Doing better.

6. Playtest and name my storygame system
Playtesting it. Named: Interstice.

7. Dance
Finding excuses to dance.

8. Give myself permission to be feminine
Not sure what this entails. Exploring greater flexibility in body-language. Feels natural. Need to do more Have been thinking about it - but how to execute it?

9. Address work-life balance.
Taking one day per week, more or less. One day out of the shop to be sure. Need to set a schedule: at-work, or not-at-work
I my have been invited to speak at a conference or attend it. It's unclear which. And it's awkward to ask whether this great honour was intended for me or the person who forwarded the message to me. It would be easy if the conference was in or near the city in which I live - in that case I'd attend either way. But it's not.
For a long time, when discussing responsibilities, other activists have told me "I had to realize that there is only so much one person can do, alone or as part of a group."

But where do you draw the line? Where do I? I fear drawing it too close, to set my standards too low, to cop out. I could always labour more, organize more, act more.

But recently, working-working-working, a metalwork business, a docuentary, peripheral involvement in a startup, getting published, old struggles their heads from the mud of history, studying, cooking, exercising, and dating, I've started doing as much as I can do in a day. Planned, methodical, constructive.

I should say "As much as I can do in a day if I want to do it over the long term." I can and do do more when I abuse my own health, but this usually is a short-term gain with a long-term loss.

Doing this maximum shows me the limits of what I as one person can do. It shows where potential ends and hubris begins.

From here, it is not about doing more, but doing it smarter, and with my whole self, weighing, prioritizing, choosing. Finding time to rest. Knowing when to push. And not feeling guilty for not doing more. Rather, feeling cunning about how I could do what I do better. (Cunning is one of my favorite states of mind.)

My life is pretty good right now. Not "soon," not "eventually," not "someday," now. It's just a matter of optimizing.
I'm running up against the limits of what I as a human living near full productivity can do in a day. I feel frustrated that even now, things aren't "fixed." I guess I see the world as "something that needs fixing" and myself as, thus, "that which should really go fix it."

It shows me just how big the world is, and how limited our reach. At least I'm doing something that I like.
Sometime in grade school, I got the idea that the more time I spent alone, pursuing recreative activities, the more I "won." It was a sensible idea under the context that birthed it. School was a place of two states of being: bored; and picked-on. But it is not the case anymore.

I find that I can be engaged all day in productive-context activities, come home, spend a little time unwinding, sleep, get up and do it again the next day. And this is more gratifying than days where I spend little or no time in productive activities less, and more time screwing around on my own. A day off is nice, but even then, I like working on something.

The key is finding the activities that I find rewarding, then establishing a social context that enables my working on them.
Job search - Metal fabrication

Where: outside of the GVRD, preferably in Nelson, Tofino, the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine coast, Haida Gwaii, or Whitehorse.

What: preferably, but not necessarily, as an assistant to a artist with their own wetal fab ticket.

(fortunately, all of the above locations are full of artists)

I also want to work somewhere safe. Metal working accidents can be ugly.

Do you know anyone who makes:
- medieval armour
- giant pieces of metal kink equipment, like cages or racks
- metal sculpture
- metal boat hulls
- metal props
- metal sets

My mad skillz includeRead more... )
I'd very much appreciate any advice on where to look.

For me, January will be a month of closure.

On the 6th, I finish transition. (and begin bruising in uncomfortable places)

On January 20th, Bush leaves office and will be replaced by a member of homo sapiens.

On the 29th, we see the CFS elders in court.

Closure. Yes.

More Rabbit Hole-ness.
(It's okay if you don't have a clue what it's about. I barely get it myself.)
Click on the tags for more.

Orat, this is for everyone

I'm back. After all that, it doesn't seem like I've been gone very long. People look older though. Grey hair. That's hard to take. I suppose. I'm older too - at least in the sense that being frozen and thawed is none too good for your health.
Read more... )

And while this gender/volunteer/trans stuff is interesting, I want other things in my life.
(But not so much enough to sellsword myself out as an anti-CFS consultant, as has been suggested)

So I get back into reading. I design a rules-lite RPG system for math-phobics. I rent documentaries on Rennaissance Italian Warfare and growing up in a Maoist Household in Vancouver. I read speculative fiction set in Vancouver. I dance a bit. I hit queer events (that aren't so trans-focused). I try to network-up a roomate.

I bicycle too. Today I tried to take Spinning Wheels (I guess that's her name?) to Main and 45th but I hit a big piece of glass. The tire went flat and I only noticed when it got bumpy. So I'm getting it fixed.

A bump. A disruption. A repair. Some learning. An alternate route. Returning to pick it up and ride it again.

The wheel keeps turning.
People keep telling me that I'm good at things, especially writing, politics. A variety of people, but especially those who make a living in these fields. And it's intimidating. Now I understand that I appreciate the compliment, and the advice. But the suggestion bothers me, because it tires me. Not so much the writing, but the politics. All the suggestions that I seriosly run for office, and their disappointment or irritation that I really really don't want to - not right now, please.

Or, as I did not say, but hinted at last week: I could run with you, but I would crumble in the campaign and were I by some miracle elected, would die in office

Politics is a lot of work, and all I feel right now is tired.

It's been a long haul. Gender and school and work and volunteering - the latter three a means to cope with the first. Like pumping a bike until your legs are tired, and only then just cresting the hill and resting in the slight decline, I have burnt out and am now coasting. The next few months should be a lot lighter.

The last ecstatic experience I had said to go be a normal person for a bit. "A bit" being perhaps two years. I guess a normal person is someone who tries to live their life first, then do other things. Whereas I was doing other things so that I did not have to live my life. Of course, a good leader is one who lives first and leads from that.

This is part of why I am thinking of moving away for a bit. The person I am here is not someone I can be anymore.
On Friday, Samonte*, Milo** and I*** went to the park at the northern end of Burnaby near Boundary. It's past where the hill crests and descentes again, before the railway tracks and the water. The whole park is on a slant, and that combines with the copious amounts of green to make it fine hiking. There's a steep drop-off right before the tracks, and Milo thought this was the most interesting thing ever - and went right over the edge.



August 2017

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