Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Entertainer" Woes and Rant

     I just got back from doing a show and for some reason I'm feeling kind of pissed off.  In my more enlightened moments I don't blog when I'm upset because I'll usually say something I'll regret.  So, lets see what I say!
     First off, I love performing, I really do.  I don't care if it's in my underwear or in a chicken suit or both at the same time, I love being on stage and entertaining.  You get the point.
     Yesterday I finished a term paper and I don't yet have a topic for my last paper so I thought I'd just do some reading on Friday night, maybe hit the gym.  In the afternoon I got a call to do a show.  Not just a bachelorette party but a show at a club to promote their upcoming ladies night.  It paid absolute crap, $70.00, but it was cake: I just had to get myself there, do my 5 minute show, then I could go.  Sure, why not? I thought. It'll break the monotony of eat, study, gym, study, study, class, eat, sleep, study, study, procrastinate, procrastinate, gym, eat, study...anyway, you get the idea.
     It was at a Mexican night club (more on that later) so the show wasn't until 1am.  In order to get there 15min early I left at 12.  When Im half way there my contact calls me and tells me it's been postponed until 1:30am.  No big deal.  I  could use some down time and I'm a night owl so it's not that late for me.  I'm in the change room with the other guy who's dancing at the event.   We're waiting and waiting and waiting.  Finally, at 1:50 I said to the organizer, either you put us on next song or I'm leaving.  I'm pretty easy going but we were now 50 min behind schedule for a show that essentially pays nothing and I'm cooped up in a little change room.
     The club was full on traditional Mexican with a Mexican polka band blaring their oompapa music. No big deal.  I was kind of expecting more of a Mexican-American type club with reggaeton but this was a more traditional club.  The part that felt strange was that this was not a ladies' night.  This was just a regular Friday night polka-fest; guys and all.  I don't think I've ever done a show in front of guys.  Well, actually I'm pretty sure of that.  Not that I have a problem with guys.  Some of my best friends are guys.  And some of them are Mexican guys.  And some of them are gay Mexican guys.  I just prefer not to strip for them.  Anyway, as with most traditional cultures, the guys tend to be pretty homophobic, so I thought it was odd that they all watched the show.  Maybe I'm just. that. good.   Or maybe they wanted to steal my moves!  Oh no!  Well, the more likely answer is that they probably wanted to keep an eye on their women.
     I brought my cowboy act because I thought it would go over well.  The act requires a girl from the audience.  I brought a girl up on the stage and sat her in the chair.  There's one part of the act were I take her hand and run them down my rector abdominalis (I love that word).  In this part my shirt is off but I have yet to tear away the pants.  Immediately after I turn around, straddle her legs and slowly take my belt off.  The whole time she's trying to tear my pants off...
     Let me stop for a moment and tell all of you who have never done any type of performance a thing or two about entertainer pet peeves.  Near the top of the list is audience participants that fuck with your show!  Everything is carefully timed, be it a magic or dance or comedy.  Also, it my show, not yours!  If you want a show, put the time in, and spend years getting to the point were people will actually pay to see you.  Moving on....
     There's a musical cue I'm waiting for and if you mess shit up I'm gonna be pissed!  Of course most people by 2am in a bar are drunk and probably won't know and don't care, but to the entertainer, we care!  The only way to be a good entertainer is if you care.  You can't be good if you don't care.  It's simple!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
     Anyway, I'm trying to nicely hint to her to stop it by firmly but gently taking her hands off my buttons and placing them on my hips but she won't stop. This is not the first time this has happened an usually this subtle hint is sufficient.   Let me stop (again) to explain something.  I had come to the club in a good mood.  To me I wasn't doing it so much for the money but as a break from studying and do something fun that I'd also get paid for (but not sooooooo fun that I'd do it for free).  But after the 50min wait I was a bit irritated.  And I felt a little awkward with all the guys in there staring me down.  This chick was going to push me over the edge.  So, I grabbed her wrists really hard and placed them very firmly on my hips.  Remember, the whole time everyone in the club is watching so I'm smiling my face off like everything's just dandy.
     Finally, the music, my choreography and the plot-line of my schtick (by schtick I mean act)  cumulate into a glorious festival of flying pants to reveal my "sacred" American flag booty shorts.  In the final part of the act I kind of side straddle the girl in the chair (hard to describe), put the cowboy hat on her and spin her around in the chair.  So I'm trying to get into position but she keeps pushing me off her.  WTF?  A second ago you wouldn't stop tearing at my pants, and now you won't let me side straddle you? (does that sound weird?)  Every time I approach her she pushes herself away in the chair.  I'm literally chasing her around the stage.  At this point I should have given up, walked away and improvised something.  But no.  Sometimes you're locked on autopilot.  Or maybe it was cuz she had pissed me off earlier.  I don't know.  Anyway, I grabbed her, forced her in the chair, lay down with all my weight across her lap sideways and spun her around in the chair....the way the show is supposed to go!  Don't mess with my show, bitch!
     I have no idea if anyone noticed but after that, when I went to collect tips from tables I wasn't very jovial (I've been performing so long that I smile automatically when I'm on stage whether I want to or not--muscle memory).  Also, while I was collecting tips of course one of the guys had to take his shirt of and flex for me.  The guy needed to lay off the burritos, I'm not sure what he was trying to prove except that he needs to go to the gym.  Wow! I'm bitter! usually stuff like that makes me laugh.  Also I noticed with that crowd, which is true of most crowds, that there is an inverse relation between how much they tip and how much they grab at you.  A note to women who plan on going to a ladies night.  Yanking on a guys underwear is not sensual, or on anything else for that matter.  Maybe your boyfriend is different but as far as I know, most guys had enough wedgies back in high school.
     Ok, I'm gonna stop now.  I feel a bit better. This has been therapeutic for me.  I hope it was at least mildly entertaining for you.  As a final note, 95% of the time audiences are respectful and I am treated well.  I guess no matter what your job, there will be the occasional crappy day.  Thanks for reading!  G'night...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Update and T. Burge vs J. Campbell: The Limits of Vision Science


What's up friends...I apologize for the increasing duration of time between entries.  I'm in the heart of term paper writing season and it's hard enough just to get my reading and writing done.  I've put work on hold until the semester's over so I can dedicate myself to the work that will hopefully move me forward in life.  
Anywho, aside from an increase in stress, which is to be expected, things are going well.  I'm healthy, learning philosophy, and I go hiking once a week.  What more could I ask for?...I'll stop there.
For all youz guys who like to hear funny stripper stories, I apologize, I have none because I haven't been working...So, on with the philosophy!

T. Burge vs J. Campbell: The Limits of Vision Science

     Could a colour-blind scientist who was an expert on the science of colour vision be able to recognize the colour red (unassisted, on the first try) if she got her vision back?
     Within the realm of philosophy of mind there is a subsection that deals with perception.  The main issue it addresses how much about the external world can we learn through our senses (if anything).  Philosophers who endeavour to answer this question naturally draw heavily empirical (i.e. scientific) knowledge from vision science and perceptual psychology.  Within this specialized field there is a debate as to whether the empirical sciences can give a full description of perception.  (I'll refer only to vision because it is the most studied sense).  
     Historically, there are a couple on background facts that are relevant.  First, in modern philosophy of perception, pre-vision science era, philosopher conjectured on how vision worked.  Some of these philosophers started to employ the scientific method and ran empirical experiments.  Eventually they branched off and formed their own discipline (which is what happened with all the natural and social sciences at some point).  Those that stayed continued to philosophize about vision "from the armchair".   
     Of those that stayed in the armchair, some declared that there were some aspects of perception that science could not tell us about.  Most scientists outside of philosophy scoffed at this notion and saw the philosophers as archaic and simply trying to legitimize their existence. 
     OK, enough background, lets get to the issue.  The issue hinges on what is called, in philosophy speak, "the qualitative aspect of perception".  In normal English it means "what it's like to have an experience".  Essentially, the argument is that science and psychology can tell us how perception occurs, how all the subsystems work, how light arrays on the eyes are converted into neural impulses, how seeing colour activates one part of the brain rather than another, and so on.  But, they say, if you added up all the scientific facts about perception it could never tell you what it's like to see, for example, "a red ball".  Or to make the example more clear, science can tell us how a bee sees, but science cannot tell us anything about what it's like for the bee to see a flower.  
     Philosophers that oppose this view are generally labelled materialists.  They argue that the aggregate of explanations of neural impulses and descriptions of brain states is what is to see x.  In other words, given such and such a brain state and such and such an arrangement of sensory organs and subsystems, the phenomena that arises out of all that stuff simply is perception of x.  There's no more to say about it.
      I find that there is an intuitive pull to saying that, no, all this talk of brain states doesn't give a full account of what it is to see.  Here is a classical argument for the position.  Imagine the most brilliant vision scientist to ever live.  She is knows every thing there is to know about vision.  The knows how every single neurone will respond to seeing any given colour.  In a strange twist of fate, our brilliant vision scientist was born colour blind.  The question is, will all her factual scientific knowledge, does our scientist know what it's like to see red? If she suddenly were able to see colour would she be able to (unaided) identify red the first time she saw it?
     I'm not going to tell you what I think.  I'm curious to know what other people think.  Please post your comments!  I hope I've explained the issue clearly.  If you have questions please affix a wedge-like piece of metal to the end of a wooden handle and ax me!