Archive for the ‘Body Count’ Category

Made very famous by REM’s use of it in one of their great, great,  songs from Monster – an album that I waited in line at midnight to buy as soon as possible-  But also not noted is that one of my other favorite bands, Game Theory, used it in the proper phrasing “Kenneth, What’s the frequency?”

It was a slight amazing bit of sound and intro to one of the best of the albums from the 80s, and one of the best bands I had ever seen.  Saw them in a dive on the south side of Milwaukee, in the middle of winter, which seemed to shock the women in the band, because they wore completely inappropriate skimpy tops.

I saw Dan Rather interview the Two Mikes from REM the other night, and of course the phrase came up.  They had a clip of Dan Rather trying to sing the song during a sound check which was not amusing, it was painful.

So, let’s talk about the frequency of eye lengths.

Do you guys remember being in grade school?  Do you remember being asked to read the text on film strips?

Well, it was Second grade, I was seven, you know?  And when the teacher was going through the class asking for students to read the film strip, and got to me, I was not able to respond.  Not because I couldn’t read, but because I couldn’t SEE. After she spent a little time trying to help me because she thought I couldn’t read, she eventually understood it was an eyeball thing….How would I know?  My eyes were what I had, and what I could see was the way things were.  Had no idea I should be seeing better, because I had no comparison.

So after my teacher stopped embarrassing me, she told my parents that it was time to get an eye test.  And after that, I got some glasses for the first time in my life.  And I saw things I had never seen before.  IN fact, when I had glasses, I was weirded out by the depth perceptions.  It made walking weird, at best for a short tome of acclimatization, until i got used to the way everything seemed a bit….closer.

I have worn glasses since then.  Or contacts. For a few years, as a kid, I needed new glasses pretty much every year, because my eyes kept going south. I much prefer contacts, but it is hard because I have a weird diagonal astigmatism.  I haven’t seen my eye doctor in some time, And I need new contacts and new glasses.

I had my glasses fall apart tonight, one of the lenses fell right the hell out, and I was forced to use a bent paper clip to put them back together.  Believe me, as a guy who has worn glasses for WAY more than half my life, I have worked out any number of ways to do emergency and field repair.

And it was curious, in that I was forced to use my backup last version glasses, and that those glasses seem to serve better than the ones that lost the screw.

See now here.  As a diabetic, I am supposed to expect my eyes to go weird and degrade.  Which, I guess, is not going to be any weirder than any year before; my eyes have degraded all  my life.

Since I have been wearing glasses all my life, and my prescription is weird and changing and I have the diabetic multiplier, I have long been sensitive to the quality of the eye care I seek out, and I have a very clear preference for a for-real Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist versus an optician, and when providing lenses, I have never had a satisfactory experience from the mall shops or places like Mall-Wart.  Fortunately, one of my neighbors is an Optometrist, and a good one; and in a fine example of work going both ways, I designed his new office on the south side:

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What we found is that my right eye has decided to make a run for it, getting much worse over the past couple of years.  So I need new contacts, and we’ll be trying a couple of different treatment options, and my existing frames get new lenses.  There doesn’t seem to be any other degradation of my eyeballs, so other than just getting older and worser,  we seem to be in good shape.

Recycler

Posted: September 5, 2019 in Body Count, Fridge Note, Music nobody listens to

Nearly forty years ago, I was on the home stretch of high school and thinking about college (not sure I was going yet, but thinking about it.  Mainly because my father insisted, and Dad, I Thank You).  And there was a song on the radio, a sound I had never really heard before and lyrics about sunglasses.  So when the band in question played the Madison Coliseum (hereafter called the Great Clamshell because: Original-Coliseum-1030x660

I decided I would roll the dice and go solo to check it out, as Joe Bob Briggs will eventually say.

Since I was flying solo, I didn’t bother drinking anything and after the opening bands I was sitting on the main floor, when two absolutely shitfaced girls came stumbling by, tripping over me, kind-of-apologizing then one of them barfed on the floor next to me.  I found it kind of inconceivable they paid to get in then got completely blotto before the main act even started.

ZZTop changed most of my thoughts on what a live show would be.  They had almost nothing on stage, other than a drum kit, two mike stands, and ranks upon ranks of Marshall 4×4 cabinets.  And then only three guys come out, with ridiculous beards.  But when they started playing, all ridiculousness stopped, and complete no-nonsense rock and roll commenced, with a Texas twang.  I knew hardly any of the songs, but I loved it all.  It was loud, and the synchronized shuffle and on-stage communication was entrancing.

I was not aware of the backstory, that after their run of their first albums, they all decided at the same time to go incommunicado, independently.  Nobody knew if they were coming back, not even them; but eventually they did, and started making a dent on radio with Deguello, containing songs like “I Thank You”, “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”, and, of course, “Cheap Sunglasses”.  But here they were, and they rocked me hard.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to see the “Texas House Band” (as Molly Ivins referred to them) several times, never disappointed.

So.  Tonight.  My concert buddy had asked if I wanted to go to the 50th anniversary (!) show, with Cheap Trick opening, and I figured, well, I’ve seen both of them multiple times, so felt no huge compulsion.

But things being what they are, and things going as they will, Concert Buddy’s date fell through, so I said I would go, nothing to lose.  Except I have been in the middle of trying to catch up on work after vacation, and I have a building walk-through for an RFP tomorrow morning.  The show was at the BMO Pavilion, easily the prettiest open air venue in the State. summerfest_bmo_2019_wp-620x400

So, after 40 years or so, I found myself in a similar situation. Watching ZZTop kicking ass, staying sober while the people around me were getting well lubricated (although way older than before) and more-or-less behaving myself.  They, and Cheap Trick were good as ever, and produced a pretty effective greatest hits overview of my high school and parts of my college years.

Although when I got home I poured a couple of bourbons and sent out about $15,000 in invoices.

 

so, tonight we had a party.  It’s one we do every year, really ever since we bought a house.  It’s a combination house warming/anniversary party, and friends and family always get invited.  We drink and talk smart, eat food that would cause our many doctors to look at us with the hairy eyeball, and tire the dog right the fuck out.

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It is often the only time we see many of these folks, and we all have a grand old time.  But the friends become scarce and family starts to fade.  Mortality takes its toll, and where once we would party like college students, now we are old people.  Hell, even most of our kids have aged out, and now don’t really want to spend a night with the parent’s old clueless friends.

Oh!  Hey!  I have to mention the kewl gift I got from one of my bestest friends.  This takes a bit of backstory; we got to be friends while playing league darts for a local dive bar (steel tips, not those namby-pamby machine darts) and competitive drinking.  At one point, his father wanted to get a computer, and he asked me if I could help set up the old man, which of course I was happy to do.  Well, his dad and I hit it off, and in addition to becoming his IT department, also became good friends.  Sadly, a few years back R’s dad had to enter a nursing home and then passed, leaving R with a shitload of debris and belongings.  And amongst those, was a certain item.

R knew that his dad meant it for something, since it was published well before we ever did the Macintosh stuff together, and it must have took work to track down.

R knew that his father would love that I now have it, R was happy that I would have it, and I am tickled fucking pink to have it.  It is a pristine copy of the inaugural, number one issue of Macworld, from 1984:

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Now, here’s the thing about this that makes it something I will put in a safe place and treasure:

I am not entirely sure about R’s future, and I fear that it may not be long before this is what I have to remember him by.

When I first knew him, he just was an ebullient drinker.  But as time went by, he lost several jobs because he would drink at lunchtime and become inconsistent and unreliable.  Eventually he became a cab driver (and a good one!  at one year’s Milwaukee Film Festival, there was a short film about him!)  and all the while, we remained good good friends.

But at the same time, other friends were fading and ghosting, not wanting to be seen as ‘enablers’.  While I was seeing R being abandoned and becoming more isolated; I have since learned that is often the result.

R eventually ended up in Hazelden, and worked to become sober for quite a long time.  But again, as is often the case, the addictions snuck back in; yes, addictions both smoking AND drinking; the classics!

R has been off and on, sober or sober-ish, and then backsliding.  Tonight, he was abjectly apologetic that he was too drunk to visit me in the hospital on my Events (which I assured him I never held against him and instantly accepted his apology, trying to assuage his feeling of guilt).

But things got worse.  He had a doctor diagnose him with cirrhosis of the liver (which may have been erroneous, but nonetheless alarming) and had throat cancer discovered.

Thankfully, we once had a President and government that actually gives two squeaky shits about the normal fucking people, and expanded the range of health care coverage; R was able to obtain health insurance on the ACA markets, and went to the doctors for the first time in years.  Not only the alarming things up above, but started getting his diabetes under treatment. Thanks Obama (not sarcastically) and fuck you Republicans (in complete earnestness).

he had the throat cancer successfully treated and removed, hurting like a motherfuck.

R and I are not only good friends, but also concert buddies of the first order.  I recently sent him a text, remarking on the upcoming concert schedule, that I had seen all that I cared, and nothing was coming up.  Recently, we saw the Outlaw Music Festival at Summerfest, Jason Isbell at the BMO Amphitheater, and the incomparable Figgs at the tiniest East Side bar, Circle A.

So I spent the late evening, dialing up our favorite songs to give him hope and courage; Jason Isbell, Trapper Schoepp, Okkervill River, Sally Timms, Trampled by Turtles, Mountain Goats, Gaslight Anthem….basically anything visceral and affirming, that might give him the feeling that there is value in staying around.  We talked late into the night, and I sent him off to spend the night with his fuzz bucket dogs and aggressive greenwing macaw named Biko and telling him he could be strong enough to get through.

Rory is the kind of guy that everybody loves.  He admitted tonight, that his happy-go-lucky life of the party persona is a front – it kind of had to be, I think – he was not only an instant lover of our first dog Mieshka, he also came up with a hilarious drunken backstory at at the first party we had her, identifying her as a ‘Kalaka’ a fictitious Russian attack breed.  Check it; this dog is only lethal if you are allergic to dog licking;

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But….yeah.  I don’t know how this ends, except like that line from the Mountain Goats song “this scene ends badly, as you might imagine….”

But it is a one time I wish I wasn’t joking about this zombie thing, so I could bring R back in the worst case.  Because he would, undoubtedly, be an AWESOME zombie.

Unplugged

Posted: July 30, 2019 in Body Count, Humanity is a virus, Shovels

When MTV still did meaningful music, there were two or three times they made a difference.  One, oof course, was the Nirvana unplugged broadcast, and then there were two times they had REM do it.

And here you go (mikey should love this one) featuring the goddess Patti Smith:

 

Because I had the weirdest day in my office today, in that I came in and the internet connectivity was wonky.  Now, this is not that weird and a bit of rebooting of the hardware usually makes it stop.  But this time it didn’t

I spent much time on the phone with actual humans, and we tried several things.  Of course, the service provider would not do anything past their machines, which seemed to be functional.  So I reworked my routers, and reset all my settings, swapped out my routers, and nothing worked.  In the meantime, I was using my phone as hotspot.

So in a final call, I was hoping for a schedule of a technician, and the phone tech managed to ask me about which piece of hardware I was plugged into.  And here was the array of shit they had installed and left me plugged into:

The big tall thing is my Apple router, and the other four things are….something else.  I brought them all in for internet and phone, and the cost is like 1/4 of what AT&T was charging me.  But they had me plugging my router into the tall thing with blue lights, and that’s where we we falling down.  So after talking with the tech, she asked me if I was plugged into the short thing, and I said no, they told me to plug into the tall thing.  So when I plugged into the short thing, everything turned green.

Here’s the weird thing.  The white box on the left is a wireless router that I apparently never used.  Never asked for.  but it was wired in.

So, the upshot is that the guys wiring this shit didn’t know what they were doing, I don’t know what the fuck I am doing, and somehow it’s working now.

John Oliver, who is being a heavyweight offsetting that fucker Maher, had a great episode on the ERA.

As he does, on everything he does.  But his show reminded me of a younger zombie.

A zombie who joined a couple of buses of people., going to DC (my first time!) to attend a rally in support of a final push to ratify the fucking ERA.  Because, of course, America!  where equal rights has always been a controversial idea.  It did seem, at the time, that a few loud voices would help push it over the finish line, and holy hell, how optimistic was I?  All of it, Katie.

Kind of distressingly, a reporter from a Madison paper stopped and interviewed me while we sat on the Mall.  Ignored, of course, my wife and all the other women around, to do a ‘fish out of water’ curiosity rocks piece about an actual MAN that supported the ERA.  Because, fucking patriarchy.  FWIW, even my parents, who had no knowledge of our participation, noticed the interview, which was funny as hell.

One of the things Oliver brought back to cognition was the existence of ambulatory horrorshow Phyllis Schlafly.  I understand if you wanted to never think about her ever again, I know I didn’t.  But Oliver detailed the intensity of her hate for her gender and how ardently she worked to make sure they did not have legal protection for their rights.  Yes, she is one of the most horrible people that had ever existed.

We are one state away from ratifying the ERA.

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Illinois ratified the ERA last year, which was the 37th state.

Phyllis is a loon, who is a tool of the patriarchy.  She lied.  She once thanked her husband for allowing her to make a speech.   She lacquered her hair.  I really did not like her, and I am not happy that I still have to think about her.  Tolkien would have left her out of Lord Of The Rings as too evil to be believable.  I have read several alternative novels about hell, and  none of the levels seem to suit her perfidy.

I don’t like her, is the feeling I am trying to get across here.

But most of all, let’s think about this.  I went on this demonstration  THIRTY FUCKING YEARS AGO.  This is a terrible statement on our country’s lying about our dedication to equal rights.  Yeah, like all those years of enslavement, rape and brutalization of brown people, and the way we are now putting slightly brown children in cages is not able to demonstrate that we have never, not really, grown beyond it.

Well, I started out being kind of cheered by John’s show, and now I think I will start drinking.  Anyways, here is his show….

 

 

Not one of you asked for this, which is why I am putting this out.  LOL.  You guys are all masochists, I am sure.

So, we went to Spain.  This was, as you might expect, very cool.  But I have a history, you know, or maybe you don’t and here you go, whether you want or not.

In college, I was in a studio that had restricted admission, that was involved with the area that was the Olympic Village, and we had one of the architects from the master planning firm drop in for visits.  But I was admitted based on my prior studio work.   I spent much time researching the city and its architecture, and of course I fell in love with the city and with Antonio Gaudi.  Because of course, I have affinity for insane people.

We flew into Madrid.  Lovely city.  and then we went all over the country, and spent much time on a bus, but…. Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Seville, Cordoba.  Every one special in their own way.  But here; I needed to go to Barcelona, because that was where that old project was centered.  And I finally got there, like 25 years after. And we saw Cathedrals, FFS, cathedral after cathedral.  I am so tired of Cathedrals, I know all of this from my Architectural History classes, and I am so tired of thinking that the Church has done nothing  but steal from their people for thousands of years….

And here;  this is the kind of modern intervention I love in the midst of historic cities.  Because, yes, cities are built over time and reflect the new stuff every time, and this is alarming until the next generation, who just say this is part of the city.  But this:

 

Is lovely and exciting example of modern intervention in the midst of an historic city., and this is the kind of thing I love.  The only complaint I have on this is that throughout Spain, all the paving is wonderfully textured and complex and tough to walk on, and this was depressingly plain.  I think there was a lost opportunity here, to make the plaza below a well woven part of the city…

Barcelona is a real, for fucking real city.  Hundreds of taxis, and most people use motorcycles and scooters at best.  Also, they have actual transit.  And after much great times across Spain, we ended up in Barcelona.  Where I wanted to be.  Where I wanted to SEE.  Being in this city was lovely in every way.  But here is where I have to get all architect about this.  SO bail if you would like.

Antonio Gaudi was a lunatic who connected with a patron.  He was aggressive and shitty, and his fame largely came after he died.  Which happened because he was driven over by a tram driver.  Gaudi loved to stop traffic so he could look at his work and he would walk into the street to stop traffic so he could look at his work, and come on, but tram drivers must have hated him. So one ran him over.  And because he dressed like a tramp, he was ignored until someone took him to the hospital for the indigent, where, after a couple of days, someone recognized him just in time for him to die.  Which is the health care the Republicans think we should have available.

So I loved what I found about the city.  The rules about the expansion.  And after being here, the way those expansion  regulations have been incorporated into daily life.  The 8 sided blocks.  The sidewalk cafe culture.  We had sangria and nachos while staring at Sagrada Familia and feeding the pigeons: IMG_2875

Here is where I am going to tell you to go ahead and skim the rest, because I will be getting into the weeds and lots of feels….

Because I have been feeling, since my Adventures in Modern Medicine, that I seem to have lost the ability to feel strongly, for art or music or snuggly animals.  And as great as it was, coming soon after my heart attack, the Mekons show in Mineral Point, I have to count.  I have seen so many great musicians and enjoyed them, but they haven’t made my brain triggers go nutty nut nutters.

And based on that college history, I needed to see Gaudi buildings.  And we did.  But first, we walked around the Cathedral, and as I went around, I was feeling disappointed.  And as the guide talked about how there were a series of dudes who directed the construction based on their own ideas – because Gaudi designed by models and fudging and yelling at people on site.  And the 4 or 5 or 6 people running the show since, nobody really knows what he meant.  But you can see it.  Well, I can see it, you may or may not….

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I was tremendously amused by the fact that they already have to start cleaning the stone of the first efforts, while the remainder is still under construction.  I love that the existing stone  will not only be different from the new stone being used, but that cleaning the older stone will never make them look the same.

But here is what I saw, almost immediately upon walking up.  It is completely obvious that the newer parts of the cathedral are being done by someone else.  You can see that the bronze model of the whole mess is completely different from what is being built.  And I felt, that from the outside, that the lack of a supervising loud person has resulted in something that does not cohere.  My wife agrees, and FFS that is rare….

So here is the thing.  First, I walked up and saw the building and I hated that obviously the subsequent  architects could not resist to put their own stamp on it.  And as I walked around, I started to question the designs of Gaudi.  I found a lot of it to be silly and frumpery.  I became a bit harsh.  I became a bit tough.  I was no longer enthralled, this was not the masterwork it was extolled as, it was kind of a mess.

So the next day, we went to Parc Guell.  Which was completely amazing and a lovely work, in so many ways.  designed with two or three levels, it is a tour-de-force of design for landscape and the integration with the built environment.  It was a chance for Gaudi to party as a designer, and make all kinds of crazy that was still functional and would be a part of the life of the kinds of rich people who paid him for work.

It was all kinds of lovely, and a great ability to recover from my initial response to the Sagrada Familia…

Because then we went back down to the cathedral for an interior tour.  And that was a 4:30 afternoon, on a bright day, which is important.  We were there a bit early so we found a cerveseria, and got some sangrias and nachos, and looked at this:

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So, then we went to our scheduled entry of the church, and the first thing I noticed is that the bronze model of the church is much more complete and coherent than the current state of the exterior building, as I have been saying up above.  Architects love to fuck with shit; Gaudi took the basic floor plan of this church from a gothic architect, and turned it into this massive eruption of personal design.  The eastern apse is representative of the birth of Christ, and the western apse is representative of the Passion;  the southern portion is the eventual entry, which is scheduled for completion on or about 2026 (I am skeptical) which hilariously, requires the demolition of buildings that were built across the street in full knowledge that they would be time-limited, but they kind of thought it would take forever….

And then we went into the church.

It must be understood that Gaudi went beyond any Gothic design or engineering, by using Catenary arches to provide freestanding columns and arches that do not need subsequent support, and then there were more opportunities for colored glass and lighting from above.  He used innovative techniques to design the arches, which all work together to be a complete structure that works together.  And then he had glass artists that provided blues and greens on the birth side, and oranges and reds on the passion side.

I wandered the apse, and I had the audio thing but I paid little attention.  I was looking and seeing and absorbing.  I took some weird vertical panoramas which came out kind of nice:

The spaces within this building were astonishing, and I walked into people because I couldn’t stop looking up.  But the time we were there, we had the opportunity to see the afternoon sun casting through the red and orange windows and making the whole place sing with color.  And I felt joy.

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When we left the church through the passion entrance, which is much more severe and modern in sculpture, but they have a GOOD DOG:

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And a couple of nights after getting back, we saw the Musical Box, a tribute band for early Genesis; which they did not play the song Visions of Angels, if they had I would have likely burst into tears thinking back to the feelings I had in this building.

And so here.  All the feels I ever have.  This church and the previous Calatrava buildings, they brought it back, near as I can tell.  A buddy and I saw the Genesis tribute band the other night, and it swept me up.  FFS, I was walking over a bridge toward my office, listening to the new Mekons album and it brought tears to my eyes. Something- SOMETHING – has been repaired, somewhere.  Was it Gaudi?  Was it Spain?  Was it something else?  Dunno.  Should I care?  It feels good to feel something that has been missing….

 

well, hey.  You remember the other day, when I said Wisconsin was closed?  Well, we took a WHOLE GODDAM TWO DAYS OFF, not so much from the snow but from the 20 below temperatures right after.  But since then, we have had TWO fucking deep snowfalls, not to mention a couple of warm days in-between, which allowed some of the snow to melt, then get piled up behind the snow that did not melt, and then it all froze again.  Which then got covered by new snowfall, providing slip-n-fall hidden traps designed to kill Wisconsinites.

or, as the Eskimo say, kaniktshaq moritlkatsio atsuniartoq.  strictly translated, it says “Observe the snow. It fornicates.”  But the intent is clear:  LOOK AT ALL THE FUCKING SNOW.

This is the toughest snow year in a long time.  When I moved to Milwaukee, we had a snow year that had heroic piles of snow along side roads, and the intersections, you had to lean out and peer along to see if cars were coming.  And that was when I wasn’t even a property owner, where now I have to shovel that shit my own bad self (I keep an eye on the smartwatch, making sure I don’t over do it.  You know, if you read the past).

But this is what we do in Wisconsin.  We are all shoveling today, and tomorrow we will just go to work like normal.  Because we have boots and brandy.

So, now I got that off my chest, I have to get heavy.  Me, very heavy.

Some might expect that I might be talking about Ryan Adams, and I feel tough enough about that, but it’s not.  But it is related, in that his early work was released through an awesome label, Bloodshot Records in Chicago – they release Langford and Mekons content, and that should make them cool enough.

What I found out tonight is that the life partner of one of the founders of the label, was abusive and grabby toward one of the label’s artists.

This is appalling.

I friended this guy on Facebook, and have been a fan of his music.  I unfriended him tonight, as soon as I heard.

This is so sickening.  Every woman I know has these stories.  I start to look back and wonder, “when did I do something a woman did not appreciate and still hates me for?  And I don’t know when.  I feel queasy when I think it might have happened.  When I have been an employer, I never treated my employees in any other way, but maybe in my personal life….it makes me feel bad for anyone I might have.

FOR FUCKS SAKE, MEN, THIS IS NOT THAT HARD.  when they say no, they are not kidding.  back the fuck off, and if the deal changes, they will come back to you.  Being asked to call a cab is a pretty good indicator, don’t be a fucking rapist dick.

As has once been said, men are afraid that women will laugh at them.  Women are afraid that men will kill them.

The difference in power is what women say when they rail against the patriarchy, and the change is what men want to resist, because the status quo is a fucking good deal for them.

At this point, I don’t know what to say.  I am heartened that the Me Too movement is encouraging women (and men, let’s not forget the bravery of people like Terry Crews) to come forward even when the perpetrators are not the richest, most famous people.  The idea that this massive outpouring of stories of abuse and sexism need to stop being treated as some fakery by a small number of people, but that this is endemic, it exists everywhere.

I am very disheartened to find that people in the music industry I respect, have been embroiled in this.  I am particularly chagrined to find that a Musician I liked, is one of the perpetrators.

I think the only alternative is to continue and deepen the Me Too movement, in that people who feel that they have been abused in any way, come forward.  In a way, certainly that allows the accused (if named) to defend themselves or provide the alternative memory.

But this still taints me for musicians I liked.  And I hate them for that.

Related videos:

I recognize that second video is different, but as a black belt who helped teach women (and men) self defense techniques, I felt the attitude was good.

Meanwhile, guys, can you fucking just pull back a little?  Or a Lot?