Friday, August 31, 2007


Hey, fellow geeks! It's time to party! This will be my very first DragonCon, where a splendid time is guaranteed for all. I expect to be dazzled! The whole concept of geeks taking over the downtown of a major city is just so GREAT!

If you're gonna be at DragonCon, try to drop me a line sometime today, and maybe we can meet tomorrow by a statue of Obi Wan or something. My only immediate goal is to meet Tippi! (YES!) Unfortunately, Katee Sackhoff canceled, and Mr. Daisy is bummed out over that.

Related links: Check out DragonCon pages on LiveJournal and My Space, as well as DragonConTV.

Be there or be... well, non-geeky, I guess. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Kissed by a Rose

Left: Holy card, St Rose of Lima

Rose was born Isabel Flores de Oliva, on April 20, 1586, in Lima, Peru. Her mother, Maria de Oliva, was of Inca descent, and her father Gaspar Flores, was said to be a Spanish soldier, although considering the political climate in South America at that time, it is doubtful canonization would have been granted to any saint who didn't claim this lineage.

Indeed, Rose was the first saint of the Americas.

She one of the extreme ones; the women who starved and punished themselves. The hagiography is haywire. One wonders what lessons we are to take from such deliberate martyrdom:

She began by fasting three times a week, adding secret severe penances, and when her vanity was assailed, cutting off her beautiful hair, wearing coarse clothing, and roughening her hands with toil. All this time she had to struggle against the objections of her friends, the ridicule of her family, and the censure of her parents. Many hours were spent before the Blessed Sacrament, which she received daily.
Like so many of the great women saints, Rose was harangued by her parents to marry, and she resolutely refused, taking a vow of virginity. At age 20, she takes the strict vows of a Dominican nun:
In her twentieth year she received the habit of St. Dominic. Thereafter she redoubled the severity and variety of her penances to a heroic degree, wearing constantly a metal spiked crown, concealed by roses, and an iron chain about her waist. Days passed without food, save a draught of gall mixed with bitter herbs. When she could no longer stand, she sought repose on a bed constructed by herself, of broken glass, stone, potsherds, and thorns. She admitted that the thought of lying down on it made her tremble with dread. Fourteen years this martyrdom of her body continued without relaxation, but not without consolation. Our Lord revealed Himself to her frequently, flooding her soul with such inexpressible peace and joy as to leave her in ecstasy for hours. At these times she offered to Him all her mortifications and penances in expiation for offences against His Divine Majesty, for the idolatry of her country, for the conversion of sinners, and for the souls in Purgatory.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

I told you she was one of the extreme ones.

Do you suppose any of this really happened? If so, my heart bleeds for Rose. It is a fact that she was only 31 years old when she died. How could anyone have allowed her to do all that? Then again, there is no question from records that survive: this was her own choice, in the context of the pious times she lived in.

If Rose's suffering is a fable, what are they teaching us in this story? Is voluntary pain a vehicle to ecstasy and spiritual enlightenment?

Can we achieve religious or spiritual ecstasy without self-denial?

Miracles were reported after Rose's death (in 1617), by her intercession. She was canonized 1671 by Clement X. Her feast day is celebrated on August 30 in South America. Her iconography is represented by a crown of roses.

Note: This is the first in my series on women saints, whom I'll be writing about on subsequent Feast days. In so doing, I also ask for their intercession.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dead Souls

This comes courtesy of Victoria at Vortex(t):

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Oh, how I miss Kato Kaelin...

Left: Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin, aka Punkin Pie, from The Darwin Exception.

The Phil Spector murder trial is winding down, and I am meditating on the value of friendship. What do we do with "friends" who come out of the woodwork, during these bizarre Hollywood trials? Where do these people come from????

I am fascinated by the demolition of Punkin Pie, Lana Clarkson's supposedly "best" friend (again, remind me not to make friends like this, okay?), yesterday on the witness stand, during rebuttal.

I once endured a three-hour cross-examination, and held up remarkably well (let's hear it for ST JUDE!) and for this reason, I sometimes cringe when I watch COURT TV. I know how it feels to be sneered at by a lawyer, while they add to your words: IN YOUR OPINION!!! IN YOUR OPINION!!!! And what flits through your mind is odds and ends and wise-ass replies that must be suppressed at all cost. For example, when the attorney kept saying IN YOUR OPINION, Cheech Marin's voice kept bubbling up in my consciousness, asking Do you see anybody else up here, dude??

I didn't say it out loud, but the fact that it was right there behind my palate, ready to come out, has become part of my retelling of events. I often wonder if witnesses are blurting things out, like my Cheech and Chong remark, or if they are remembering similar funny things. Sometimes, you can see that they are concentrating on self-restraint, and I'd love to know what they are really thinking.

But with Pie, well, you just stare in amazement.

For those unaware, Pie is a traitor to her friend, and testified for the defense in the Phil Spector trial. She says Lana was seriously bummed and depressed, highlighting Lana's supposedly dejected and very negative mental state in her testimony. This account therefore bolsters the defense's proposition, that Lana Clarkson went to Phil Spector's house to shoot herself with Phil Spector's gun (which she didn't even know was there). This explains, of course, why she put her purse over her shoulder, since we know everyone puts a purse over their shoulder and sits in a stranger's foyer to commit suicide. (((sarcasm)))

Will the jury buy it?

Well, maybe. They have a battery of mercenaries, oops, I mean "experts", extremely well-paid by Spector the billionaire. And then, there is Pie.

After yesterday, I dunno, though. It was a beauty to behold. On a great blog titled The Darwin Exception ("because it's not always survival of the fittest, sometimes the idiots get through") there is blow-by-blow trial coverage, and slices of Pie (you knew I could not resist that metaphor!) are served up piping hot:

[Defense attorney Roger] Rosen then asks the Pie about the Christmas letter. He quotes her the line that was read to the jury by Nili Hudson that says “My Lana, my best friend, my right hand and my inseparable sister, was violently and abruptly taken from me at the hands of Phil Spector.” Rosen asks Pie what she meant by this statement.

Pie then comes out with one of the most insensible, rambling, lamest ass excuses I’ve ever heard in my life - and I had three kids who were forever giving me lame ass excuses. None of them came close to this pile of shit - and this bitch is an adult who should fucking know better.

Pie says that she included this line because she has friends “all over the world from all different walks of life” and she was explaining to them why they hadn’t heard from her, or gotten their cards and letters that she was normally so good at sending. Which you know, would explain why she would say “Well, Lana, my best friend and my soul sister and my right hand and my inseparable sidekick - DIED or PASSED AWAY or KICKED THE BUCKET” - that doesn’t explain why she would include the editorialization of “At the hands of Phil Spector!” I mean, does it? Does that explain it? No - I don’t think so.

Then she tells us “I wanted to BROADLY explain why they hadn’t heard from me…:” BROADLY??? Who the fuck does this bitch think she’s fooling? Broadly would be “my friend died” - that’s broadly. NAMING THE PERP is not BROADLY.

I can’t even believe Rosen is believing this pile of shit. Even he has to realize this is NOT an explanation for what she said - it makes no fucking sense.

She continues (believe it or not), and says “The reason I put it that way was because I was trying not to describe it one way or another as to what happened - because no one knows what happened” (Ummmm….Pie, Phil Spector knows, now doesn’t he?), and some people would know about it and some had no idea. I was trying to be politically correct by not saying too much - I was trying to keep it simple.”

Which is completely and utterly diametrically opposed to what she put it in her Christmas letter - she wasn’t “simple”, she wasn’t “not describing it one way or another” she says Lana died at the hands of another - that’s not “not describing it one way or another.” I think that’s making a pretty clear fucking stand on what you think happened, right?

Who the fuck prepared this witness and agreed to let her get on the stand and say this shit? It makes her look like a fucking moron. And it’s insulting to the jury that she thinks this is a reasonable explanation. If *I* was her - I would have said something halfway fucking credible like “Oh, at this point I was still going through the stages of grief, and when I wrote this letter I was up to “blame” and I was blaming Phil Spector, and wrote this. Of course, as I moved through the stages I realized that this was just my grief speaking, and he wasn’t the only one I blamed during that period - I blamed myself, I blamed her mother, I blamed her other friends - it was just where I was at emotionally, at that time. I no longer blame him and realize that Lana had her own demons and that as hard as it is to accept, that she took her own life, and Mr. Spector had nothing to do with it. But that was then and this is now…”

Anything other than this incredible unbelievable poo she’s slinging from the stand. “Oh I said “Lana died at violently and abruptly at the hands of Phil Spector” - because I was just trying to keep it broad and vague out of respect for the family, because they were recipients of the letter, too. You know, not saying anything one way or the other, mind you. Just keeping it all ginger like and conscious of the family and our mutual friends.” What the fuck?

I swear to God, if any of my friends ever commits suicide, I’m going to send out a Christmas letter, and just out of respect for the family, and to keep it really BROAD and not inject my opinion into it anywhere, I’m just going to say in my letter “My friend was violently and abruptly taken from me at the hands of Tom Hanks.” I mean, you can’t really read anything into that, right - it doesn’t really MEAN anything, just that I’m being vague - since no one knows what happened.

She’s a fucking maroon if I’ve ever seen one.

Dixon gets up to cross examine and he points out that one of the dates in Pie’s date book says that Lana was with her on 1/17/2002 at the Cat Club - just three weeks after her injury to her wrists. He asks if Lana went out partying with that medical apparatus thing on her injuries - the “halo” appliance, and Pie seems to think “Sure! Not a problem”.

He also points out that Pie has no actual recollection of any of these events - can’t remember the venues or the dates or the events other than from reading her notes in her date book. She can’t remember where, exactly, the Bad Company concert was, for instance, just that it was “somewhere in Orange County”.

Dixon then asks when she sent out these Christmas letters, and how many people received them, and she says that she assumes they were sent sometime in December, but that sometimes she didn’t get around to it until January or even March, and that because of everything going on, she was late that year getting the letters out, but it was probably sometime around the New Year. She says that she sends them to like 100 of her closest friends.

Dixon then gets specifically to the last line of the letter, and says “OK - you described this as you being political correct?” Yes. “As not describing one way or another how you felt?” Yes. “as not giving an opinion?” Yes. “But you say that Lana was violently and abruptly taken from you at the hands of Phil Spector! Isn’t that a distinct opinion?”

“No, that was just my way of saying what the situation was.”

“But you could have said that she simply passed away - or even that she passed away at his house…:”

“Yeah, I could have…”:

“Yet you say that she was abruptly taken away at the hands of Phil Spector - that’s an opinion, isn’t it?”

“That was my way of describing the situation.”

“You denied seeing Rick Brody at Ann Marie’s wedding and telling him that you hoped that they would “fry the bastard” when talking about Phil Spector - you said that that was something you would never say, because you didn’t believe it, but isn’t that basically what you said here - that in your opinion, she died at the hands of Phil Spector - and isn’t that what you told to 100 of your closest friends and acquaintances in your Christmas letter?”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Well, isn’t that what you believed in December of 2003, that your best friend died at the hands of Phil Spector?”

“No, I didn’t believe that.”

“And when you talked to Officer Tomlin, the day that she died, you said that she was never suicidal and never depressed you told him the truth, didn’t you?”

“Because someone told me to say that.”

“Well, who told you to say this in the letter?’

“I didn’t want to hurt people”.

“Who? Was Phil Spector on your mailing list?”

I laughed really hard at that, by the way.

Rosen gets up to redirect and really, he can’t do anything to make anything Pie says sound any more believable, because no one is buying the shit she is trying to sell. It’s just not a saleable product. And all the “Oh, you were trying to encompass the whole situation weren’t you?” “You were trying to be sensitive to the family, right?” that Rosen tries to polish the turd with just makes it sound all the more fucking stupid.

She is finally excused. But she isn’t excused from making me have to listen to her lame ass excuse. My kids really were coming up with better ones than that when they were 10.

Tee hee!

Well, it's nice to see her finally get it, but is it enough to convince the jury that she is not to be believed?

Stay tuned, sports fans!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Goodnight Moon

Left: photo by NASA

I'm a Virgo, so tonight's lunar eclipse should have a dramatic effect on me. In the Tarot, the Moon usually means we must look for what is hidden, what is deeper.

There is so much to learn.

Now I wanna be your dog

Left: Michael Vick, photo credit MSNBC

With all the foofaraw about Michael Vick, one would think this is a teachable moment. On Feministe, during a discussion on how to feel moral and ethical while killing animals for the sole purpose of tasting something delicious, I tried to introduce a comparison of dogs (and dogfighting) and cows (and slaughterhouses). Why, I wondered, is everyone so upset about the dogs? I just came from a cafe wherein I witnessed outraged dog owners, trashing evil Michael Vick whilst chomping on hamburgers. Am I missing something? Have these people visited a slaughterhouse lately?

Basically, sounds like the usual Quentin Tarantino excuse to me: A dog has a personality, and a personality will take you a long way.

Obviously, then, it is up to the cows to develop that quality we call 'personality', so that people will similarly care about their well-being, also.

However, it is also entirely likely that the cow never evolved a 'personality' because it's primary use has been as food. If, like dogs and cats, they had to learn to depend on the good will, companionship and affection of humans for their livelihood, perhaps they might have learned to be charming as the dickens. Who knows? Fact of the matter is, the poor cows never got a chance.

And so, I dared to ask, why is everyone so upset over Vick, while they scarf down pepperoni? One reply:

The goal of dogfighting is watching prolonged pain, the goal of killing a cow for a steak and a nice pair of shoes is the steak and the shoes.

And I replied:

Actually, I disagree totally here. Speaking of north and south, I guess you aren’t familiar with the culture of dogfighting.

The ‘goal’ of dogfighting is the same as a bullfight or a greyhound/horse race: male camaraderie/bonding and gambling. The participants simply do not see the animal as anything but an object, a means to an end. It’s like a car; you wouldn’t feel upset about racing a car, would you? The in-breeding of hyperviolent dogs that have little or no resemblance to “pets” are the way they can objectify the dogs as “different” than their own beloved pets.

IMO, this is exactly how people can distance themselves from animal death in the consumption of meat; it is labeled “food” instead of animals. Dogfighting and horse-racing are labeled “sports” to the people who participate. I am talking about the language and practice of ‘alienation’ (marxist definition) as applied to our use of animals.

Yes, I know that we ain't suppose to quote Karl Marx, even in lower case, but still. That was the best I can do. I hope someone else takes up the cause.

Next time you hear someone say, Bad, bad Michael Vick, ask them if they eat meat. Watch the look of incomprehension and surprise, as they ask "You aren't comparing the two, are you?" And then ask them what exactly the difference is.

No, they can't tell you what it is, other than some semblance of the Samuel L. Jackson version offered above, but they KNOW it isn't the same thing. Why not? Because it just ISN'T.

Got it. Pass the tempeh.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hey yall!

Left: Portrait of Winona LaDuke by Robert Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth.

Guess what? I'm in the 16th Erase Racism Blog Carnival! It's my very first blog carnival, so I feel really special! (Note: that word is pronounced in the southern way, e.g. spay-shull)


There are some fabulous posts, and I feel honored to be included. (My post about Harriet Washington's book, Medical Apartheid was the entry.)

I started to link a few of the great posts, and then realized there were just too many good ones to choose among them. Go over there and check em out, at ALAS, a blog.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bimbo Eruptions

Left: African Daisy Mandala by Susan Warner

Good Lord, sports fans! It's getting ugly over there at Feministe. My favorite sex- worker-blogger, Renegade Evolution, a bee in the bonnet of old-school radical feminists, posed a series of sensible and interesting questions in a sensible and interesting post. As a woman unashamed of her breast implants, as well as her buff, beautiful bod, she asked:

I understand that with conventional beauty standards it is important to instill in women and girls that there is more to body comfort and beauty that what the media dictates, because truth is, women of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, and “styles” are beautiful and that wider realm of beauty and comfort should be encouraged to flourish and grow. No woman should feel ashamed of the way they look or what they wear, but I often feel as if perhaps this has spun slightly out of control in some aspects. When a woman who is naturally blonde or naturally thin is applogizing for it, it seems to me as if something his gone wrong here. It seems like an odd sort of backlash to what was supposed to be a mode of thought that would make women more comfortable in their own skins, no matter their shape, size, mode of dress, or alterations. One can read feminist lit of all types, from books to blogs, and see this odd backlash, feminist people calling women bimbos, porno barbies, sticks; women disdaining their own natural attributes that fall within the realms of conventional beauty, things such as being tall, or thin, or curvy or blonde…

And it makes me wonder whatever happened to women, all women, being happy with their bodies?

Or is this just one of those things I find myself pondering? And if so, what did I miss?

Shaggy-haired and thoroughly unfamiliar with mascara wands, I was one of the people who replied:
Well, I am harassed constantly, for 37 years now (since I turned 13) to “do something with myself”… I HAVE done something, and this is it, thanks. I am clean, well-scrubbed, not dirty or gross, but I am given the message virtually every day that I should “clean myself up”…if I did not work in an alternative business, I probably couldn’t obtain gainful employment.

All my life, I have been fussed at to wear makeup, cut my hair (or “do something” with it), wear traditional middle-class clothing, and so on. Women my age are expected to wear make-up, and I am constantly given advice I never asked for about that. Women my age are not supposed to have long, unstyled hair. We are supposed to have manicures, pedicures, wearing capri pants, etc. No thanks. MY FUCKING CHOICE. And yet, I am interrogated about MY CHOICES. I do not criticize others unless they start in on me, and then, yes, I will catalog for them all the chemicals they are absorbing into their skin. But only if they ask. (And no, that is not the only reason I don’t use it. I learned the names of the chemicals just to upset the interrogators.)

Until my choices are fully respected and I am LEFT ALONE by the busybodies (all women, interestingly enough), then I really don’t care about “feminist pressure” (where?) about make-up or shaving. Are you kidding? This is a joke, right? Feminists lost that battle; that ship sailed. The majority of women are all about make-up, hair-styling, dieting, botox, etc. So I am at a loss to figure out where this “feminist pressure” is supposedly coming from?

And these are rhetorical questions, not necessarily directed to Ren, with whom I have had this discussion before! :)

And for five minutes, at least, the discussion seemed to go pretty well. Magniloquence, for instance, made an interesting contribution:
What constitutes comfort? A well-made pair of heels feels good to me. I have a nice pair of 5 1/2 ” black stilettoes that are so comfortable I’ve worn them for a full day out at an amusement park (going on rides, wandering the hot asphalt, chasing my friends and everything) - they don’t hold me back, and they feel better on my feet than any pair of tennis shoes I’ve ever owned. (Or, for that matter, any pair of ’sensible flats’ that wasn’t flip-flops.) That has nothing to do with how they look and everything to do with how they’re made and how their shape interacts with my body. How do you know the woman in the baggy jeans and flats is really comfortable?

(For clarity: I’m not saying that all fancy/femme/dressy/complicated stuff is comfortable, and I do like wearing loose nondescript clothing periodically. My point is that comfort is every ounce in the skin of the wearer, not the eyes of the beholder. You can’t say ‘wearing comfortable clothes’ is better without admitting that people’s ideas of comfort differ widely, and that what is comfortable for you may be immensely awkward for me and vice versa. I like corsets; properly boned and laced, they feel great. That doesn’t mean that you have to.)

That’s the part that really bothers me. We conflate comfort and natural expression with rebellion, at this point. And in one sense, the philosophical, broader-movement sense, that’s right. The exhaust metaphor fits there. But the micro and the macro do not nearly so neatly coincide; you can’t go from the macro ‘this stuff hurts us overall’ to ‘you are a bad person’ or ‘you must be brainwashed’ or ‘you aren’t doing your part.’ You don’t know that.

And then, the whole thing blew up. Why? Well, why do you think? The amazing Ginmar, who is to radical feminism as Ernest Angley is to Christianity. One cringes upon their emergence from the fringes into polite debate/mass consciousness: please go away. Whimper. PLEASE?

Ha! Dream on, my little Dworkinites! Greatest hits from Ginmar, over on the thread in question:
That said, I know some pro-porn, sex pos, male kiss ass pseudo feminists who are all about the bitching at other feminists. I still don’t think it’s a feminist thing because simply speaking, kissing male ass and attacking other feminists is not feminists, and I’ve seen these women in action and they’re vicious. Whether they’re feminist—they sure protest enough—is not something I’d be willing to answer affirmatively. They’re feminist for themselves. That doesn’t make them feminist for others, and often they’re not.

I call ‘em like I see ‘em, Ren, and as you’re still saying that feminist criticism is mean and nasty and OMG unfair, you don’t have a leg to stand on. You want to do what you want to do, I don’t give a fuck. But I’m gong to talk about why I see a bunch of women doing it, and oh, by the way? Wanting to silence radfems from criticizing a practice you like to do cuz it makes you uncomfortable is your personal problem.

Well, when you bitch about feminists being OMG so mean to you maybe it’s better if you don’t associate with women who go around associating with trolls and gloating over others’ faux pas.

Kind of like this whole topic, actually.

Oh, and someone who has named themselves after a character on a LAW AND ORDER episode, Csquared, is also pretty interesting:
Again, I’m seeing this bizarre conflation of questioning with attacking. I do question Ren’s motivations; as someone literally employed by the patriarchy, she has a vested interest in maintaining a patriarchy-approved exterior, so her motivations totally come into question. Why should they be above reproach? Why should anyone’s?

I’m just mystified by posters here conflating attacking someone for their looks (i.e., “fatass!” “anorexic blonde!” which I don’t do) and questioning why they do the things they do (i.e., “I don’t think you would’ve gotten those implants if the patriarchal beauty standard was for a flat chest, so it’s pretty disingenuous to say you got them only for yourself” which, yes, I do).

Again, all I’m seeing from the anti-mean-feminist klatch is a demand for silence from feminists when it comes to personal grooming rituals. And… no. Not gonna do it. Sorry.

"Employed by the patriarchy"? If one believes that we are living in a patriarchy, then EVERYONE is employed by the patriarchy, unless of course they are UNEMPLOYED, in which case they are LIVING OFF the patriarchy.

Since LAW AND ORDER FAN is safely anonymous and does not disclose their occupation, one can't point at them and explain to them that THEY TOO, contribute to the patriarchy. (Which is, of course, why they are anonymous in the first place.)

Tangential issues are then brought up, including Ren's friends such as I AM CURIOUS BLUE, accused of harassing HEART. What this actually has to do with the subject at hand, is anyone's guess, but hey, this is war. And speaking of which, there is a thinly-veiled threat to out Ren, apparently a reprise of a Blogdonia-feud I missed some time ago.

The thread finally goes up in flames. Heavily-moderated, Ginmar accuses Ren of censorship in this serially-posted tirade:

Can’t you read? Oh, wait, Ren deleted my comment! And there’s a quote right there. Oh, wait, I’m a radfem, so let me guess—I’m making it up? Fuck you. I screencapped this asshole.

IACB you’re a porn-and prostitute-justifying man. If you talk to me any further, I’ll just pretend you don’t exist.

Let me guess, that one’s going to get deleted too. Oh, wait, do I get to use the “I was so upset” excuse? It seems to be awfully popular.

Oh, look, my comments go into moderation after their first appear! How strange.

And finally, disgusted, I said:

Ginmar, are you always an hysteric, or do you just play one on the internet?

Ginmar replied with an articulate "fuck you"... but you know, I remember Ginmar from the old days at Ms, and little has changed. She drove people away from feminism there, and she is busy doing the same thing here, too. Ernest Angley, Ginmar, what's the difference?

The thread is now locked after a record-587 posts, but threatens to open back up when Ren returns. Oh dear God, will it happen?

Stay tuned, sports fans!

ADDENDUM: Ren has just said on her blog that she is not re-opening the thread:

Lauren closed the comments on my Feministe post of ill omen. I sent her a note with a last statement, but nope, not bothering with trying to have the thread openned because its DONE. Anything of use or interest got bogged down in the bullshit, and is currently being misconstrued throughout bloglandia, but hey, what did I expect?

She says that honestly, she was not expecting such a reaction, and I believe her.

Can you say AMBUSH?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My new imaginary boyfriend

I currently have a crush on Michael Eric Dyson, and I have been reading all of his books. He's a far better writer when he's all pissed off, as in Come Hell or High Water, Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Not surprisingly, he is an ordained Baptist minister, and knows how to preach it.

For example, snooping around on the intertubes, I found this entertaining exchange with Ann Coulter:
COULTER: I have not heard anyone say we’re fighting this war for Jesus. We’re fighting this war because of 9/11.

DYSON: But they do invoke Christian values. And you don’t have to mention Jesus specifically to talk about Christianity. As a Baptist minister myself, and this is Good Friday, I certainly feel a proximity to this issue. But the thing is, I think that the Crusades themselves—as is the contemporary crusade—are backed by an implicit reference to Jesus okaying this. And so not only do you have “patriotic correctness,” you got “Christian correctness” now. Because if you’re not on the right side of the war, which means that Jesus stands behind it to justify and legitimate missionaries, in the name of God, going over there. “By the way, we’re going to give them some food and help them out, but if we happen to mention God and conversion from Muslim faith to Christianity, it’s alright.” And as a Christian minister, I find that reprehensible. Because imperialism has been draped not only in the flag but in the cross. And we who are Christians must stand up and be voices for those who are oppressed, and those who have been maligned, and those who are being put upon. I think that’s the real role for Christians here.

COULTER: You know, this concern about George Bush referring to this as a crusade or denouncing this as some sort of crusade. I note that General Dwight Eisenhower’s memoirs about World War II were called The Crusade in Europe. That didn’t get people inflamed.

DYSON: There’s a huge difference between politics and religion.

COULTER: We’re not going to be killing people if they don’t convert to Christianity. What do you think the crusades were?

DYSON: There’s a huge difference between politically being opposed to persons in war and in the name of religion trying to wipe out your enemy who happens to be religious—whether it’s between Protestants and Catholics or, now, between Christians and Muslims. I think it’s a huge difference.

COULTER: You think that’s what we’re doing?

DYSON: I think absolutely that’s what we’re doing. Look at your president, I mean, who bows his head to God, and prays to God, and says, “Because I have God’s love— Here’s the problem. That’s not what’s happening. We’re praying, and then we’re blowing stuff up. That’s the real problem. I think that, as a Christian minister, I believe in praying, but I’m saying what do you do—not pray, p-r-a-y, but p-r-e-y, is the problem. In the name of religion we’re going over exploiting people and [saying] God’s backing us up. And this is what ticks me off. People always point to the civil rights movement. “Well, Martin Luther King, Jr.” Martin Luther King, Jr., did not want to make this a Christian nation. He was a Christian minister who believed that the disestablishment clause of the amendment was very critical to establishing every religion having its right to say, which means none should be officially enshrined. When the president and Rod Paige, the Secretary of Education, says that it’s good to have Christian schools, the administration is really shredding that line between separation. And I think that’s problematic. It shows in education, it shows in the war, and it shows across the board. So as a minister, I’m offended by that. Let’s keep God out of this madness that we’re doing and this militarism that we’re engaging in.

COULTER: After both World War II and the Korean War we specifically sent in Christian missionaries. And we got a Christian country out of Korea—[Laughter]—McArthur offered to convert all of Japan. That was a country that was not a Christian country that we conquered and occupied and turned into a country that is producing—is beating us in small electronics and cars now. I think that is a fine example. McArthur didn’t explain that the military doesn’t convert people, but he put out a call for Christian missionaries. They poured in, Bibles poured in, and now there’s religious freedom in Japan. And South Korea was converted.

DYSON: This is what Archbishop Tutu said. He told a story. When they went to South Africa, the Christian missionaries had the Bible and the South Africans had the land. They said, “Let’s pray.” When they opened their eyes, the South Africans had the Bible and the Christians had the land. That’s the deal. That’s the history of imperialism in America.

I just finished PRIDE, part of that Seven Deadly Sins series, and currently on RACE RULES. I have decided to forgo Know What I Mean, on the strength of HNIC's insightful review, at least for now. Although Dyson was engaging and positively electric on C-Span last week, discussing the book in a Harlem bookstore. I think he probably said more at the book store than he does in the whole length of the (very thin) book.

The good Reverend Dyson just left Penn and is now at Georgetown, which supposedly took everyone by surprise. Was this a hurried departure? Why? Gossip?!? Please add yours!

His wife, Marcia, is a preacher too. I am impressed that he preaches for women's access to the pulpit, then marries a woman preacher. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Old fashioned gals

Left: Cybill Shepherd in The Last Picture Show

Today's question: How can we make art that is truthful to the past, without being obnoxious? We need to tell the truth about the role of women with sympathy and awareness, without being anachronistic.

I am particularly interested in the AMC series MAD MEN, which I assume was inspired in part by Tom Wolfe's dead-on essay about the advertising world, The Mid-Atlantic Man, also written in the 60s.

Plain(s) Feminist commented briefly on MAD MEN:

And while we're on the topic, I don't really care that the gender "issues" brought to the fore on Mad Men are true to the era. They make me damn angry to watch. What is the point? Yes, television is supposed to make one think, but it's not supposed to make me pissed-off for no reason. I have enough sexism to deal with in daily life without needing to reach back into the sixties for a fix, thank you very much.
The New York Times recently reviewed several TV shows about domesticity in an article rather cutely titled Say, Darling, Is it Frigid in Here? Here is Alessandra Stanley's description of MAD MEN:
This Madison Avenue drama, set in the advertising business at the dawn of the 1960s, recreates middle-class life in the pre-Friedan era, when graduates of Wellesley and Bryn Mawr wore girdles and aprons as they raised the children and waited for their husbands, who stayed in town late, drinking and smoking and carousing with compliant secretaries. “Mad Men” has a satiric edge, but it is a stark reminder of what the battle of the sexes looked like before women’s lib, civil rights, the Pill and legalized abortion.

The series also serves as a taunting rebuke to modern wedlock: Careful what you wish for.

One couple on “Tell Me You Love Me” has a happy, vigorous sex life that is undermined by the wife’s inability to get pregnant. Another has two children and no sex at all, which is undermining the family bliss. Both end up slowly and guardedly confiding in an older sex therapist, played by Jane Alexander. She has an uninhibited sex life with her loving husband, Arthur (David Selby), but even her time-weathered marriage has a few cobwebs.

Katie (Ally Walker) and David (Tim DeKay) haven’t had sex in a year, but nothing appears to be wrong. They are a loving if repressed couple deeply and equally involved in raising their children, from grocery shopping to Little League practice. David is not impotent; he masturbates with furtive relish when his wife leaves the room. Yet neither seems able to summon desire for intercourse or take the initiative. A clue to their problem spills out during a therapy session, when the mild, buttoned-up David unleashes a rant about the lust-numbing domesticity of his life.

“I guess, yeah, I should be in the mood every time I clean out the gecko cage,” he hollers, his sarcasm turning to rage. “Everybody else is, it seems. I’ll tell you what turns me on: Buying Cheerios is really hot, and then of course getting shoelaces or fantasizing about minivans, that’s sexy too.”

Those intimations of emasculation stand as a cautionary tale next to Don Draper (Jon Hamm) of “Mad Men.” Don has a wife, two kids and a freethinking mistress in Greenwich Village. He doesn’t buy Cheerios or mop the floor. He’s barely ever home. But he has enough libido to sleep with two women and chase a third.
Dump that pesky equality, guys, and get back to basics! Wink, wink, nudge nudge.

As I commented on Plain(s) Feminist's blog, one drama that succeeds in being sympathetic to women, yet totally realistic for its time (the 50s), was THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, which--not coincidentally--stars several (all?) self-identified feminists. Was it the strength of their performances and/or interpretations of their characters that made the difference? Or the stellar writing of Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich?

Which old movie makes you cringe regarding the role of women, yet you like it anyway?

And like Plain(s) Feminist, which one is impossible for you to watch without getting pissed off?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

If only my mother were alive to see this....

...because she thought I was butch, all because I wouldn't wear high heels and mascara.

I tried to tell her, it was a just a hippie thing.

You Are 69% Feminine, 31% Masculine

You are in touch with your feminine side.
Sensitive, intuitive, and caring are all words that describe you.
And you're just masculine enough to relate to both men and women.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mike Wieringo 1963-2007

I have just learned comic book artist Mike Wieringo, known to folks in comics as 'Ringo', died on August 12. He was 44, a vegetarian, and died of a heart attack.

He drew several of the familiar MARVEL favorites such as Spiderman, Fantastic Four and Rogue, as well as DC's Justice League and The Flash. From Newsarama:

Wieringo was born June 24th, 1963 in Venice, Italy, and first caught the attention of comic book fans when he joined writer Mark Waid on DC's The Flash with issue #80 in 1993. Together, the two co-created the character Impulse, the future speedster brought back to the present. Wieringo (or, 'Ringo as he was better known by then) moved on to Robin at DC, and then moved to Marvel, where he settled in on Sensational Spider-Man with writer Todd DeZago.

The pairing with DeZago was something of fate, as the two co-created and launched their creator-owned property Tellos, which saw several projects and miniseries published over the years. Ringo moved back to DC for a run on Adventures of Superman, and then, in 2002, reunited with Waid for a run on Fantastic Four that was perhaps best known for fan outcry when Marvel announced that they were going to replace the team. Marvel quickly reversed their decision, and the two completed their run on the series.

Ringo then moved to Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man with writer Peter David, and most recently, completed a Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four miniseries written by Jeff Parker. His next project had not been announced, although, as readers of his blog knew, he was very excited at the prospect of doing more Tellos work, with an eye on being able to debut something at next month's Baltimore Comic-Con.
This was Mike's webpage and Wikipedia entry.

Rest in Peace, Ringo.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

On Senator Graham

From the blog Down with Tyranny, we have this example of homophobia, written back in February:

Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an unmarried/never married 52 year old with a funny, forced way of walking, has been far more fastidious with his homosexuality. Again, "everyone" knows-- except the voters in conservative South Carolina. Not that it doesn't come up from time to time; people talk. In fact, the head of the Democratic Party in South Carolina said something when the effeminate Lindsey decided to run for Thurmond's senate seat. "He's a little too light in the loafers" to succeed Strom Thurmond. Graham got into a really queenie tizzy fit and loudly threatened to sue-- although he didn't. (They never do.)
We ain't stupid in these parts, okay? Fact is, the right wing has been (mostly) happy with Graham until recently, and they decided to put up with the rumors. And the left doesn't usually pick on politicians, even Republicans, for that reason. South Carolina Democrats do not want to gay-bait Graham, although several have in the past.

I know it's an old question, but unfortunately still very pertinent: Is it homophobic to out a closeted politician, if he is himself supporting a homophobic Republican party? Lindsey Graham has voted against gay adoption, and has predictably and faithfully supported the family-values crowd throughout his time in office.

The more powerful Graham gets, the more pertinent the question. Graham was recently censured by the SC Republican Party , for his stance on immigration. So, even under attack from the far right, it's notable that he has barely missed a beat. He doesn't seem at all worried.

If Senator Graham can trumpet his military service in the Gulf War to put forth the proposition that his experience as a veteran makes him particularly knowledgeable about foreign policy, it seems reasonable to ask why a big family-values fella like himself still isn't married. (How knowledgeable can he be about family values, if he has no family?) He used to make a lot of cutesy jokes about taking over Strom Thurmond's Senate seat, since Strom didn't get married until he was 45. The difference, of course, is that Strom was a known womanizer, and Graham is now 52. (It's pitiful he thinks he will get points comparing himself to Strom in that way.)

Then again, read Down with Tyranny, above. It's unpleasant.

Your thoughts?

The Four of Cups

A beautiful chalice is held out to the uninterested (petulant? sad?) youth. Ho hum. He isn't impressed. Yawn!

Got boredom?

Are you apathetic?

What is boring you in your life? What is thoroughly monotonous now, that was once wonderful? Or was it always monotonous?

Are you ignoring a golden chalice? What's in it?

As for me, my apartment is boring me. It's a disaster and a mess. (Particularly the nearly-threadbare rug, every square foot of which has been puked on by cats at least once!) Beyond that, I have lived here forever (too embarrassed to tell you just HOW long) and I'm ready to move... and yet... well, I am too bored and apathetic to look for anywhere else to live! Complacency thus leads to further boredom. This self-perpetuating cycle of apathy is what the card refers to.

Obviously, this is why I drew the card.

How about yourself? Any fours of cups in your reading?

The Catawba fight for economic survival

Tribal Affairs

South Carolina’s Resilient Native People, the Catawba, Fight for Economic Survival (excerpt)


The irony isn’t lost on Donald Rodgers. Dressed this day in a polo shirt, slacks and running shoes, the professional credit counselor is just weeks into his new mandate - and no doubt the greatest vocational challenge of his life: to lead his people out of a wilderness of near financial ruin, lawsuits, mismanagement and internecine conflict.

Last month Rodgers was elected chief of the Catawba Nation of South Carolina, the state’s only federally recognized Native American tribe. He succeeded the embattled Gilbert Blue, who resigned under pressure last March after a 34-year tenure that began during the Nixon administration.

Rodgers understands the job won’t be easy, citing “backbone” as an essential asset for a tribal chief.

“I knew this was going to be a tough ride,” he says.

Several years ago the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs suspended the Catawba’s approximate $1.5 million annual federal grant, pending a long overdue audit of its financial records. And earlier this year, its Rock Hill bingo operation, the tribe’s other major source of income, was shut down.

The financial bind is so dire, there’s no money to pay Rodgers’ salary. He supplements a small tribal stipend by continuing to work part-time at Charlotte’s Alliance Credit while his wife has taken a job as a dental assistant to help support the family’s three children.

There does appear to be some light at the end of this dark fiscal tunnel, however. BIA has agreed to reinstate the Catawba’s grant - probably by this fall - and a consultant is working with the tribe to update its bookkeeping practices.

Meanwhile, the new chief is concentrating on healing deep-seated internal strife. Division between supporters and critics of Blue’s administration that Rodgers compares to the legendary Hatfields and McCoys dispute became so hostile that deputies from the York County Sheriff’s Office were assigned to maintain order at Catawba tribal meetings.

And there are even thornier issues awaiting the new leadership, including the need to provide for the long-term economic survival of the Catawba. This could depend on the settlement of a lawsuit against the state of South Carolina currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. On an even more basic level is the tribe’s struggle to preserve its self-determination in a dominant culture often indifferent to its right to exist.

Read the whole thing

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Feast of Elvis Presley

Alphabitch just reminded me that it's Elvis week! I was gonna post on him tomorrow, since I always (mistakenly) think his date of death was the same day my dearly-departed friend/mentor Steve Conliff hit the Governor of Ohio with a banana cream pie (Aug 17), but in fact, Elvis died the day before. However, Steve was always proud that he made the cover of the NEW YORK TIMES the same day as Elvis!

Since I am feeling like a bad Catholic today, I thought I'd try to keep with the general theme. Photo above: Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore in CHANGE OF HABIT! Tagline that should have been: I'll bet you never knew Vatican II could be like this!

In fact, Elvis did drive one beautiful, broken-hearted actress into the convent, where she stayed. If you can't have Elvis, the only logical man is Jesus. Makes sense to me.

AND WOW--she is actually MOTHER DELORES now! The other nuns are probably in awe. Why not? I am!

Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, one day late

Left: Coptic Icon, Feast of the Assumption St Menas Church, Old Cairo. (artists and dates unknown)

Well, I meant to go to Mass on my Holy Day of Obligation, I really did. But I got home from work, kicked back, diddled around, smoked a bit, watched old movies, fumed over the new HARPERS article attacking Andrea Dworkin, looked in on the blog and talked about the Mormons on other planets... and...well... I am a BAD CATHOLIC.

Aside: Of course, there is a blog titled Bad Catholic. :)

So, I wanted to apologize to Our Lady, who has done so much for me. I owe her bigtime. You know what they say: you have to sit in waiting rooms for God, but Our Lady will see you now!

I hope she doesn't mind that I missed her Feast day. I love her so much, I think she will give me a pass, but you know how that goes. You shouldn't take your mother for granted! I figured I would post on her, to make up for it! HI MOM, WE LOVE YOU!


I am now debating whether to take on the Harpers' piece, but there is no link for it yet. If anybody can find one (I know yall have magic powers!), post it here! I'd definitely call it a hit-piece.

Meanwhile, watching the Phil Spector murder trial like a damn junkie, and later today, going to a product training from a company called Lumina Health. I'm not sure what this company is about, so I will let you know!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Today's feminist reading and discussion question

Abuse is always about abandonment. She knows that now. She knows what it feels like to be left stranded at the heartbreak church. She knows what it feels like to lose precious things. She knows that some things become more precious because they are lost. It all began when she was little and just starting to walk and talk and reach for things. When things were out of her reach, she would just keep trying. Unable to accept the reality of not being able to acquire whatever she was reaching for, she became violent. She screamed. She threw a fit. Silence, isolation, the small spanking, a beating if necessary, that was the way to handle fits. Their punishments seemed to make her more determined. She reached. They became violent. When the hitting would not work they began to take things away. And what better things to take away than the things she loved.

She loves cowboys and Indians. She loves guns. She loves Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. She loves Clint Eastwood, she loves to shoot. She learns to shoot to kill, to shoot straight. These are the things her father and television teach her. She loves horses, The Great Plains, the frontiers. She dreams of riding a black stallion, of becoming an Indian, a renegade. They give her a cowgirl outfit, with only one gun because she is a girl. She has a plaid vest, white cotton blouse, a blue skirt and a holster with one gun. Girls can only wear one gun. She would be happier to be an Indian, a renegade, but she accepts being a cowgirl. It is in the closest that she can come to her true desire.

One night they took it all away. They threw those red boots in the trash. They talked about it as necessary, claiming that her attachment to them was not natural. When they witnessed her heartbreak it made them feel glad. They had won. They had triumphed over that small hand grasping for things it could not reach. They had pulled her out of paradise, away from heaven, and brought her back down to earth.

From Wounds of Passion: A writing life by bell hooks.


Question: What did they take away from you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fantastic Planet

Left: Tiva and her pet Om (named Terr) in FANTASTIC PLANET (1973), original title La Planète sauvage.

As a vegetarian, I always assumed the little Oms in FANTASTIC PLANET were a method of tweaking our consciences. Look how the big nasty giants (Draags) treat the little Oms, who look just like us. They cruelly keep them as pets and even have mechanical toy rainclouds follow them around to rain on them. They exterminate them like rats. On one occasion I saw the movie (have seen it dozens of times), a girl in the audience sighed "Ohhh!" when they exterminated the Oms. I wondered if she worried about the mice and rats that periodically get exterminated by concerned Health Departments throughout the land? Did she make the connection? I did, and it bothered me. I was not yet vegetarian when I first saw the movie, but it was a building block in my consciousness.

The French/Czech team that produced FANTASTIC PLANET apparently meant the Draag/Om war to be a metaphor for the Cold War and the political repression of Eastern Europe:
French animator René LaLoux' first feature film, produced in Prague's Jiri Trnka Studios, is widely regarded as a metaphor for the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. The story is based on Stefan Wul's novel Oms En Serie (Oms By the Dozen), but the symbolism of a powerful technological culture subduing a (literally) smaller one, then thoughtlessly underestimating and abusing its people, is clearly nonspecific enough to apply to almost any situation of political inequity. As an act of political defiance, it's fairly vague, though considering its broad call for mass education and overthrowing the ruling class, it's surprising the Communists allowed it to be produced at all. (It was a struggle; the film eventually had to be completed with French financing.)
(From Classic SciFi)

Certainly, things turn very dramatic when the Oms start organizing an insurrection. Even so, the amazing, spiritually-based climax is a total surprise. I have always wondered if they stole the idea of mating on other planets from the Mormons; if so, good steal:
...the Oms launch their manned rockets toward the Fantastic Planet, where they discover headless statues. As bubbles descend to alight atop the statues, the statues begin to dance. Each bubble seems to contain an image of an individual Draag in meditation; their "spirits" are what animate the statues.

It turns out that the statues facilitate "nuptial rites" between the Draags and entities from other galaxies, and from these, the Draags draw their life force. When the feet of the dancing statues threaten the rockets, the Oms use energy weapons that shatter the statues. Pandemonium reigns supreme in the Council chamber, for it seems the two races will destroy one another if they cannot find a way to live together.
(From the Wikipedia link.)

If you've never seen it, check it out. Total magic! And there is a happy ending.

Meanwhile, on Planet Earth, we continue to treat our Oms as the Draags did. Will we end up learning the hard way, too?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bisexual Invisibility

At left: from FUN HOME by Alison Bechdel.

I loved Alison Bechdel's fabulous graphic novel FUN HOME, but am I the only one who wondered why she labeled her father *gay* rather than bisexual? If someone has been married for decades, but still enjoys periodic sexual relationships with their own gender, to me, that makes them bisexual.

Perhaps because the parallel between her own (gay) sexuality and her father's became much more poignant and obvious; it makes for a great dramatic narrative. Nonetheless, as much as I adore the book, I feel as if the reality of bisexuality is ignored and downplayed, here as elsewhere.

Why does this happen? Does bisexuality cause people to feel disoriented? Too many possibilities? Or are we simply accustomed to either/or thinking?

Other questions I have pondered lately: If someone is legally married for a long time, yet has a few gay afffairs, why are they then considered gay, instead of "heterosexual who likes a few gay afffairs"? If it were the reverse, they WOULD be considered "homosexual who likes a few straight affairs." This brings to mind the infamous racial "one-drop rule" of days past. The one drop rule held that "one drop of black blood" whether it be 1/2 or 1/16, makes a person black, period. The underlying concept of the one drop rule was that whiteness is purity.

I think we have a *one drop rule* as applied to heterosexuality. ONE POSITIVE OR ENJOYABLE GAY RELATIONSHIP (or encounter) makes one gay; again, the underlying concept is that heterosexuality is purity and can therefore be sullied and ruined.

Bisexuality messes up the binary and the *one drop rule.* Therefore, people just sort of tune it out.


Other questions: If you are bisexual and monogamous, do you ever stop saying you are? If one has been monogamous for a decade, one is assumed to be gay or straight, depending on the gender of your partner. Do you ever "correct" people who make these assumptions? After so long, does it even make any sense to correct people? Why should we? Do you ever feel foolish doing that?

And several transpeople are now reading my blog, so I'd love for you to weigh in here. I have noticed many transfolks are bisexual, so please jump in: Do your partners ever get neurotic over their own sexuality and whether they are gay or straight?

Do you think bisexuality automatically means polyamory or the possiblity of threesomes to many people? Bisexuals are presented as fickle, immature cheaters in a lot of TV shows and movies (thinking now of SIX FEET UNDER); how can we "rehabilitate" the bisexual image in media, for instance?


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Church service--wake up!!!

Yes! I know you slackers don't wanna go to church. Too bad! Church instead comes to you.

29 years ago, I helped occupy the site that is now the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire, as part of a national coalition with the Clamshell Alliance. I camped out on a construction site, that had heaps of trash EVERYWHERE! It was horrific, but it was the type of thing I did 24/7 in those days.

I got up on Saturday morning, covered with mosquito bites (I stopped counting at 40), consigned to eating rock-hard unsweetened peanut butter, while the head Clams (as we called the Alliance) sat in a circle and argued. Will this never end? Why am I here? And why didn't anyone tell me New England summer nights are freezing and include mosquitoes the size of WASPS??? Meanwhile the Manchester-Union Leader was telling the local Authoritays to smash heads (bust some clams, they liked to say). Every loud noise made everyone jump; there had been a lot of arrests in the previous months. I hated the whole thing.

And then, guess who showed up!? All right!!! It was Pete Seeger and Jackson Browne!

Yes, I know JB supposedly beat up Darryl Hannah and is therefore a bad man, but I love this song, which I have thought of as a hymn ever since. It literally gave me the strength to continue the cursed occupation. At one point, hearing thousands of activists (who were currently trespassing) sing together "Oh people, look among you, it's there your hope must lie..." was just an overwhelming experience.

Also, I find it interesting that JB was lovers with Nico, of all people.

Anyway, enjoy the hymn, have a nice day, and avoid occupations of large construction sites surrounded by the National Guard... unless, of course, you just HAVE to do it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Asia Extreme Film thread

Okay, which of you maniacs likes Asia Extreme Cinema? I've only seen a few of these, but I'm not up for too much of this stuff! Aiyee!

I must admit, I enjoy the deliberate subversion of the "passive" Asian female stereotype, particularly in AUDITION, which is like something on LSD. (They even replay conversations two ways, like, how the two different people *heard* it.) A man is supposedly "auditioning" actresses for a movie, but in actuality, he is looking for a proper submissive wife, the "old-fashioned" type. He thinks he's found her, and well, he's in for a major shock. HAHAHAHA, serves him right!

I've seen others, but had to turn off SUICIDE CLUB because that roll-of-skin thing was just too gross for me. I'm a vegetarian!

Do you have recommendations? Go easy on me, please!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Stay out the way of the southern thing

Left: Kudzu (from The Fruit Fly)

I am from a southern mother, and like Rita Mae Brown, I repatriated as an adult. Moving south was like coming home, only it wasn't.

Being an ethnically-displaced person is strange and oddly transcendent. I think of VS Naipaul, an Indian and Hindu, born in Trinidad. No one else makes India more real to me. He loves India as an insider and outsider, and in his writing, he shapes-shifts, back and forth, inside and out.

I never felt like a yankee. My family was looked down on and called hillbillies, but I had never actually lived in the "hills" at all; I grew up in the city. To me, "hillbilly" meant that my family played in a country-and-western band, and we ate certain foods like cornbread and pinto beans. My grandfather said "shit fire!" which shocked my young yankee schoolmates--one of them asked: what is 'shit fire'? (I had to admit I didn't know, but it was reserved for situations that nowadays would call for a response like "Fuck me!") So I was never a proper yankee, but when I first got here, could not in any way feel like a southerner either. I remember being in tears when I couldn't understand about half of my neighbors, so deep were their accents.

After over 20 years of marriage into a deeply-southern family, I feel that I finally belong.

I can still remember when I first saw kudzu, covering everything like a thick, lush, wavy, symmetrical, emerald-green blanket. Upon my arrival in Columbia, SC, I even took photos of it. I have photos of kudzu snaking up telephone poles and electrical wires; enveloping houses, abandoned gas stations and shotgun shacks, turning everything beautiful, as snow does. Transforming the whole world into green leaves. But there are snakes and other varmints in there. Kudzu chokes other plants and kills them. Southerners cuss the kudzu, and here I was, in my neo-southern repatriated ignorance, wanting to plant more.

Kudzu hides things, as southerners tend to hide things. How fitting that it has traditionally been used in herbal medicine as an alcoholism remedy and to detoxify drug addicts; conditions that thrive on what is hidden.

Some people go to war with the kudzu: goddamn shit is gettin outta my yard if it's the last thing I do! And other people resign themselves to it: you can't kill it. Surrender Dorothy! As an herbalist, I am dedicated to understanding the kudzu, but I daresay, it is the way we once tried to "understand" the Soviets. Shades of "we will bury you!" come to mind. Does the kudzu want to co-exist? Or will it take over?

It's indestructible, and will survive the nuclear war, they tell me, just like cockroaches. Probably.

But I can't help it: I love survivors. Particularly southern ones.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Corporate take-overs of everyday life

From LuckyMom at the wonderful PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY CHRONICLES, comes this post:

A new study has revealed that children surveyed at a Head Start center in California prefered the taste of food wrapped in the McDonalds logo over the exact same food unwrapped. Some of the foods were common-place snacks like carrots and milk.

Researchers are balking at the overly successful effects of McDonalds strategic marketing toward children. Psychologists are lining-up against MickyDs while others choose to blame the parents.

I am always in the market for another reason to hate McDonalds. But seriously, this is alarming. LuckyMom wonders if all children would have this positive reaction to fast-food wrappings, or is it more likely among poor children and/or children who watch a lot of television. What do you think?

Meanwhile, the evil WalMart is coming to my neighborhood. Like, two buildings away. I'm sick over it.

I had been overly-confident that (see article) the rich people in Thornblade, the hyper-affluent golf-course neighborhood adjacent to my apartment complex, would be able to keep out WalMart. They COULDN'T. And they spent several million dollars trying. What hope is there for the rest of us?

We are contemplating moving. Then again, will rents decrease? That might not be so bad. But there is a REASON rent will decrease, if you know what I mean. The traffic around here (intersection of Pelham and I-85) is horrendous as it is. What are they trying to DO to us????

--thoroughly disgusted with runaway monopoly capitalism--

Graphic from Warning, politically incorrect, sometimes sexist cartoons, etc etc.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Male vs Female Gaze

At left: Girl before a mirror by Pablo Picasso.

When I first saw the Picasso painting, I didn't know squat about art or cubism, but I remember thinking, "She doesn't like what she sees." (Rorschach test, anyone?)

In the discussion over my last post (about the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival), a related issue came up: Do we feel our appearance is judged more harshly by women or by men?

Maggie Jochild wrote:

I was not visibly disabled the first time I went to Michigan in 1977, but I was fat. Very fat. And it was the first place in my life where I ever went naked in public -- even with my lovers, I'd not shown my body. Michigan created enough safety for that to occur. It was also where I learned that women have beards, have mustaches, have flat chests, have enlarged clitorises, have mastectomy scars, have unimaginable scars (like I now have), have every kind of body type you can imagine, -- that women often look like what our culture calls "men" -- because bodies are on full view and it's just not voyeuristic. We come out of our mothers this way. It was tremendously validating and educational.
I am now really fond of nudism, and have often gone to events where clothing is optional. And the fact is, at venues where men are present (even or sometimes especially leftie/gay men), I get snickered at. Always by a man. NEVER by women. I do believe this is conditioning -- and what I refer to as ideology is conditioning, not hard-wired into any brain -- but it's so entrenched and laid in so early, the only way around it is a complete re-do of identity. NOT appearance.
Others immediately disagreed. Bint commented:
I have often had my body ridiculed by women. I remember when I was going through radiation and the skin on my back was burned to a crisp. It wasn't a bit contagious or oozing, just charred. I was engaged and had gone to try on wedding gowns. Of the people who saw me in that store, daring to show my non-conforming body, feel free to guess the gender of the person I could see sneering at me when I turned around to face them. I could give even more accounts of situations like this. The idea that men are conditioned to be less accepting to variations on body types is a joke to me and many other women of color and women with disabilities.
Octagalore has also felt more *judgment* from women:
Bint: I too think what you said was very reasonable, especially the above. Most of my friends are women -- I'm not someone who claims "women don't get me" -- in fact, women usually get me better. But I've also gotten the most heartbreak from them.

I was horribly unpopular in grade school through high school. Although I became identifiably conventionally attractive during this period, I was very "different" in religion, how my parents dressed me (awful crocheted ponchos, "interesting" ethnic outfits) and in other ways. New boys would come to the school, hang out with me, then inevitably a girl would tell them how weird and oddly-dressed and outcast-y I was and they'd back off. High school was more of the same.
How about you? More nasty comments from men or women? Has that changed since you have aged vs when you were young?

If you agree with Bint and Octagalore, do you think women's negative judgments are due to oppression and rivalry, or is this just because we are also so hard on ourselves? After staring at ourselves in the mirror a long time, it seems likely we have developed a hypersensitive awareness of physical appearance, which we then turn on each other.

On the other hand, men have this way of humiliating women that, for me, far exceeds anything women do. It just feels different. The misogyny? Aggressive language? The tone of voice? I'm not sure why. Is there a possibly-physical threat present in men's statements, that is not present in women's?

As a child, were you ever picked on for looking different? Did this come from boys or girls, mostly?

On a related note: Do lesbians have more positive experiences with other girls, regarding personal appearance, than hetero girls? I'd be curious to know if lesbians ever wanted to tell their friends they were pretty, but refrained from doing so. Or did you go ahead? As a child, I had a friend who always told me I was "pretty like a doll" (I wasn't, but I loved hearing it), and I have always wondered if she grew up to be a lesbian or was just being a nice friend.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Say Yes to Michigan

Just for the record, I am not the one who tried to comment on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (herein known as Michfest), over at Women's Space/Margins. It wasn't me! Besides, Heart is once again shilling for plane fare, and damned if I will interfere with her reindeer games. But I decided to start a Michfest thread, seeing as how we are in countdown mode! ONE WEEK TILL FESTIVAL!!! Par-tay!!!

For those living in Antarctica and unaware, Michfest is for women only. I have been there and it is fun, but that was a very long time ago. I don't really know what the festival is like now. I don't know exactly when the controversy started, and it depends on which account you read, but I didn't hear about it until the 90s. The controversy is about the phrase "women-born women" and what that means. The festival is for "women born women only." Camp Trans, for transgendered women, was set up to counter Michfest, as an alternative for everyone. But keep in mind, many transfolks, both transwomen and transmen, have attended the festival since it's inception.

One of my initial problems with Camp Trans was the fact that there are many, many places and institutions that are unapologetically closed off to transpeople, such as the military, Miss World, Miss USA, the priesthood, the convent, the FBI, and so on. Yes, they all do panty-checks at some point. I wondered: Why weren't people concentrating on protesting THOSE institutions? Why attack feminists? This seemed plenty suspect to me. In some ways, it still does.

And then, I realized: If *I* were a transwomen, I wouldn't want to go any of those places, I'd want to go to Michfest. This is a feminist gathering, or at least it began that way. It is women's culture, and many feminist women go to Michfest at least once. You might say it is like the feminist Mecca or Rome; it's like a pilgrimage. Once I thought about it that way, I thought it made sense that feminist transwomen would want to attend.

Some background on the issue:

Official Michfest website.

Wikipedia on Michfest Contains an excellent account of the history of the festival, as well as Camp Trans. Great links and resources.

Dykes to watch out for-Episode 495: Last year's Michfest thread with 350 comments! (bonus: a great comic!)

Michigan Womyn's Music Festival sets the record straight Women's Space/Margins (8-22-2006)

Camp Trans (although it says CAMP TRANS 2006 at the top, information applies to 2007, too.)

Your opinion?

Please try to respect the concept of an all-women's festival in your reply. And transwomen are welcome to give their opinions, of course: Are you interested in actually attending? Or has this just become a symbolic thing, as I often suspect it is?

I'd certainly be interested in comments from any transwomen who have managed to attend anyway, and if you felt "at risk" or if anyone actually seemed to care? (some think this is mostly a "management" opinion, and the festival attendees themselves actually don't care as much)

You are welcome to comment anonymously as long as you are NICE. This is a SOUTHERN blog, and we try to be polite as we reload. :) (old joke, don't get upset!)

Thanks in advance.