Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April is the Cruelest Month

Falls Park, Greenville SC. Photo by your humble narrator.


From Mountain Xpress comes the following:

How much is that nuclear plant in the window?
by Nelda Holder on 04/30/2008

The N.C. Utilities Commission has decided that Duke Energy will not have to disclose cost estimates to state residents in preparing for a proposed nuclear-power plant to serve North and South Carolina customers, according to a report today by The Raleigh News & Observer. The twin-reactor plant is proposed for construction in Cherokee County, S.C. — just south of the N.C. border. Most of the customers served would be in North Carolina, however, where the Utilities Commission has now agreed with Duke Power that state law protects the cost estimate as a “trade secret.”

“Customers would ultimately pay for any new power plants through their monthly rates,” the article states, noting that some estimates for a single reactor run in the $9 billion range. Duke Energy argued that revealing cost estimates would affect vendor and contractor negotiations and keep the company from getting the lowest cost.

A South Carolina decision on the question of disclosure is anticipated in May, according to the article.

Meanwhile, a public hearing concerning the same proposed plant — which would be located some 60 miles southwest of Asheville — has been scheduled by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Thursday, May 1, at 7 p.m., at Gaffney High School, 149 Twin Lake Road in Gaffney, S.C. More information is available through Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League or by contacting Mary Olson with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service at 675-1792.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor, Mountain Xpress.


Left: traditional holy card of St Joseph Cottolengo of Turin.

It is the traditional, liturgical Catholic feast day of St Joseph Cottolengo of Turin, one of the Vincentian saints who counseled us to care for the poor. In keeping with that, I wanted to share a great blog entry from Parkside Q, titled Biting the hand that feeds me. Parkside linked me a view days ago, and then I went to snoop and found this fabulous entry. (And isn't that the way it works?)

I admire the self-awareness of the author, as he honestly describes his discomfort in encountering a homeless man on the subway, begging for spare change:

I've only been here a few months, but I can already feel myself becoming calloused toward that man, and the 5% of New Yorkers that have been walking miles in his well-worn shoes. But this time, I genuinely felt bad that I have been so caught up in my life that I've been ignoring others' suffering. His main concern on that train was trying to find his next meal; my biggest problem was trying to find reception for my next text message. Kind of puts in perspective what's really important, huh?
Read the whole thing!


Also see Content Regulation and Porn Laws by Renegade Evolution... don't forget to guard those pesky Civil Liberties they keep trying to yank away from us!

And finally, Treehugger notes that US Consumers "Get the Cheap Stuff":
We had a faint hope that the rise in food prices might lead people to buy more carefully, perhaps cook more from scratch instead of buying prepared food, or even cut back on meat and eat more vegetables. No such luck; according to the IHT, Americans are just buying more crap, because the cheap calories come from the most processed, corn-based foods.
While they keep telling us to lose weight! (Is there a problem here?)
Listening to: Grateful Dead - Eyes of the World
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 28, 2008


I am battling another flea infestation, and it isn't even summer. (Doncha love that warm southern weather?) And then we watched CLOVERFIELD, featuring a giant monster who commandeers a platoon of tiny recon baby monsters that look like--yes! Giant fleas! OMG! Extremely creepy, particularly under the circumstances.

The movie drones along for awhile with young New York professional types at a going-away party. Lots of interpersonal stuff, somebody slept with somebody else, blah blah, and just as it starts to get boring (it was produced by JJ Abrams, the Hollywood guru behind LOST)--then booooooooo-yahhhhhh here comes the monster. It roars just like Godzilla, which of course is how you know it's a monster. As these clueless, well-dressed party-goers go on about oh-wow!-was-that-an-earthquake?--one wonders if they are too culturally unaware to recognize the Godzilla-noise when they hear it. DIDN'T YOU HEAR THAT? History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of men!

Spoilers ahead.

Filmed with a hand-held camera, the movie brazenly channels THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, as survivors sprint madly through the streets of New York, never losing focus. Although it IS realistic that someone would feel the need to record such an event ("This is gonna be important!"), I found authentic suspension of disbelief pretty difficult in the face of multiple monster attacks. (By contrast, BLAIR WITCH was a mystery of sorts, with no full-frontal violence depicted.) However, I must say, when the monster finally comes down on the guy holding the camera, I like the scared-desperate noises he makes, as well as the way the camera sweeps up--HE CAN'T HELP BUT JUST STAND THERE AND GAPE AT IT (and you would too, if Godzilla was right in front of you!)--and of course, as we know, monsters wait for no man. The hand-held camera is a real winner in this scene, but I hated to see TJ Miller go, probably the most likable actor in the movie (also doing double-duty as unofficial narrator). The camera is then (unbelievably) picked up by someone else, and on with the show.

I dunno about you, but if I am under attack by a Godzillian creature with junior flea-monsters at his disposal, the last thing I would be thinking about is picking up some dead guy's camera.

The whole perils-of-Pauline subplot is damned annoying, and reminiscent of all the save-the-girls plots on LOST, which rapidly become tiring. Handsome hero-boy must go save the pretty girl in midtown!!! Otherwise, he'd be evacuated with everyone else and there wouldn't be a movie. One evacuation scene on the Brooklyn Bridge is quite something, as is the scene where the Statue of Liberty's head goes crashing down into Manhattan. This Godzilla does not like the Statue of Liberty, clearly. (Is this supposed to be some kind of quasi-political commentary?) In between, lots of BLAIR-WITCH-style arguing about which way to go, what-is-that-thing?, they gotta go save BETH and so forth. Much angst, hysterical cell-phone calls, lots of panicked scurrying every which-way, etc.

Consensus at my domicile: more monsters, less discussion.

One scene in a tunnel, under attack by the junior crab-flea monsters, is utterly terrifying. The ending, flashing back to the happy couple at Coney Island, is utterly predictable.

And Odette Yustman is lovely, but really needs to try eating a whole meal. I'm sure it's been years.



Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pentagon liars exposed

From MEET THE PRESS (NBC) 2005: Tim Russert talks to Wesley K. Clark, center; Wayne A. Downing; Montgomery Meigs, right; and Barry R. McCaffrey, foreground. (photo from New York Times)


I woke up this morning to find Mr Daisy growling at the computer screen and gesticulating madly. I knew immediately, it was somehow related to Dubya and his friends. I was right.

Please check out the Sunday New York Times article about various news networks' so-called "military analysts" who, it turns out, have extensive connections to military contractors profiting off the war strategies they are being interviewed about. Are you surprised?

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
It's an amazing, if predictably harrowing, investigative article. And it just gets worse:
Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Though many analysts are paid network consultants, making $500 to $1,000 per appearance, in Pentagon meetings they sometimes spoke as if they were operating behind enemy lines, interviews and transcripts show. Some offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the networks, or as one analyst put it to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.” Some warned of planned stories or sent the Pentagon copies of their correspondence with network news executives. Many — although certainly not all — faithfully echoed talking points intended to counter critics.

“Good work,” Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force general, consultant and Fox News analyst, wrote to the Pentagon after receiving fresh talking points in late 2006. “We will use it.”

Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.”
Real scumbags. (Here is a complete video report.)


The Disability Blog Carnival is over at Abnormal Diversity, so you should go over and read. The invaluable matttbastard (I remembered all the t's, mattt!) at bastard.logic pointed me to a rather wonky piece by Michael Bérubé, and I just MUST quote this one paragraph:
And I have to admit that I’ve been mightily vexed by this phenomenon in recent years. Not by Hillary Clinton herself, mind you – by the phenomenon of the avoidance of disability qua disability. It’s as if we Americans have been talking about disability all our lives, as Molière’s M. Jourdain has been speaking in prose, without realizing it. Remember that debate about SCHIP? You know, the one we lost on Bush’s veto? What the hell was that about? It was about disability, folks – about children suffering catastrophic illnesses and traumatic injuries for which their parents couldn’t (and their parents’ dastardly, moustache-twirling health-insurance providers wouldn’t) provide. Vets returning from Iraq with PTSD or TBI (post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury) and being warehoused and/or underserved and/or neglected by VA hospitals? Uh, well, once again, here we’re talking about disability. Why in the world do we frame these things as matters of “health” or “employment” or “veterans’ benefits,” when doing so prevents us from realizing that we’re all touching different appendages of the 8000-pound elephant in the room? The subject is disability, people. It’s about our common frailty and vulnerability. Get used to it.

Left: Quilt by Sandi Garris, at Artisphere.

Some other fun stuff you should be checking out:

Thene blogs a fascinating online conversation about marriage.

Zen Denizen's amusing resume: Hire her today!

A BRAND NEW BABY GOAT on Smokey Mountain Breakdown!

Aishwarya blogs about the importing of cheerleading to India. (Hey, we're really sorry about that!)

Theriomorph says these photographs are old, but I have never seen them before. The pics show a sled dog and polar bear, making friends. Too adorable!

I had this Saturday off, so it's been a great weekend for me--as I browse my favorite bloggers, drink ginseng tea and stay out of the rain. Hope yours is going well, too.


LATE EDIT FROM READER NAMED 'KELLY' (no link, or I would!): FYI - given the photo from the Times article you've got posted - you might want to let your readers know that one of the generals in the photo was not one of those enlisted by the Pentagon - in fact he was specifically not included, largely because of his criticisms of the Bush Admin and its handling of Iraq and Afghanistan...General Wesley Clark.

Thanks, Kelly!--D

She has funny cars - earworm edition

One of the great bonuses of blogging is sharing some of my lifelong earworms. It seems I have hummed the following songs my whole life... is that even possible?

And so, this very late Friday night, I am awake and spreading the curse of the earworms.

:: I defy you to get this first tune out of your head. It was the innocent, playful theme of a Saturday morning children's show for baby-boomers--and it is possibly the most earwormy TV theme ever written. I DARE you to play this all the way through without serious auditory side effects. (Warning: video clip below contains beginning and ending theme.) You can't erase it from the memory; it simply CAN NOT be done. For godsake, they even haul out the kazoos! Surrender Dorothy!

:: The second song is similarly deadly, even downright evil in it's apoplectic catchiness--coming complete with singable sha-la-las. Mick Ralphs left the band for Bad Company shortly after this, but the great riff comes from Luther Grosvenor (ex-Spooky Tooth) who played with Mott the Hoople under the name Ariel Bender (which was British slang for vandalizing car antennae). Mott was fronted by the fabulous Ian Hunter, who also wrote a pretty good book in diary form, about the band's 1972 tour.

Possibly the earwormiest rock song ever written.

:: The third song is extremely sneaky and insidious--since it's psychedelic, it's not possible to utilize the infectious nursery-rhyme vibe like the first two songs... but ahhh, it snags you with that Spencer Drydenesque and thus totally unidentifiable time signature (what IS it, will someone PLEASE TELL ME?)... eventually, it worms it's way into your head and stays.

Of course, it is also philosophical:

Your mind's guaranteed
It's all you'll ever need
So what do you want with me?

You'll find that if you ever actually like the song enough to sing it, you WILL eventually say those words to somebody in real life. Beware.


As a special treat, we'll have a generous helping of 70s TV-Land nostalgia while we're at it, since we start with the Bugaloos theme:


Mott The Hoople - Roll Away The Stone

[via FoxyTunes / Mott the Hoople]


Jefferson Airplane - She has funny cars

[via FoxyTunes / Jefferson Airplane]

Friday, April 25, 2008

MetaFilter and Amandagate

Left: from Patrick Farley's The Guy I Almost Was. (This one goes out to the MetaFilter gang!)


I am currently catatonic over the number of hits I'm getting. I always wanted a lot of hits, so I guess it's one of those "be careful what you wish for" scenarios.

I suppose it's like those fresh-faced kids who've been singing for the church congregation all their lives, then find themselves in front of Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. Paula applauds, tells you how fabulous you are, pops a Vicodin, while Simon sneers: "You don't reeeeeeeeeeally know how to siiiiiiing, doooooo you?"

Crestfallen person: sobs.

Yes, that was me yesterday. Although it's nice to get over 6500 hits (!!!) in one day, I would have preferred a few more Paulas, and take as many drugs as you need to get into that space, I'll wait. Several blogs that have linked me have contained far too many Simons, sneering, weeeeeellll, her writing is (insert William F Buckley eyebrow-arch here) rather ped-EST-rian, and rawther BAAAAAAAD. And I've sent my secretary to research the story, and she'll be back after lunch with the name of the Saturday Night Live character, so HOPE YOU AREN'T FIBBING, missy!

To the Simons in my new readership, whom Amanda Marcotte (more about which in due course!) would call "joy-killers":

1) Saturday Night Live goes back to 1975, and yes, I ALSO go back that far, as well. I do not refer to the last two years, when you kids were in the dorm, but you know, I refer to THE WHOLE HISTORY OF THE SHOW... knock yourself out!

Apparently there have been numerous Shaniquas and Laquitas and various other names on the show. This tells us the black-named-hooker/crackhead joke is ongoing and simply gets updated with a new name every year. Just like Saturday Night Live in its entirety!

2) For those of you born last week, who dare to say such intelligent things as "I can't believe that happened in a classroom! That could NEVER happen!"--please understand that I am talking about 1964 or 65, you know, the year they passed the Civil Rights Act? You've heard of it, yes? You realize they had to pass that FOR A REASON? What did you think the atmosphere was for black people before that? Yes, I heard the n-word in school, even spoken by a teacher on one occasion. The word was not DIRTY then, it was considered an almost mischievous, cute thing to say. I do not expect you to understand what it was like for people born in 1957; at least get a clue that it won't be comparable to your life, born in 1987, okay? Good God in heaven.

Is it the schools?

3) If you think I am a bad writer, or stupid, then FUCK OFF.

Apparently, it costs a whole week of waiting and a $5 tip to post on MetaFilter. You may say I'm an asshat and an idiot, but I don't pay $5 to post a damn thing and you do, so who's the idiot? :P

To those of you who were sweet, thank you. They made me cry yesterday. :(

4) To the extremely persistent people who keep emailing me for my name: It is not forthcoming.


Left: illustration from Amanda Marcotte's It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

And now, back to important stuff, like War in Feminist Blogdonia. Twisty calls it Amandagate, and I guess that's as good a name as any.

For my new readers, I'll recap. It's just like LOST and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA--if you miss any of it, you get damned confused.

Background, some months previous: Amanda Marcotte, important feminist blogger and famous Victim of William Donahue and Michelle Malkin (i.e.: people have respect for what she has endured at the hands of the right wingnuts), writes a book scheduled to be published by Seal Press. The cover is eventually shown on Amanda's blog PANDAGON (not linking, sorry Amanda). The cover illustration is comic-strip-type retro art featuring a King Kong-type-character kidnapping a beautiful cartoon-blond woman. Women of color say, you know, that is an insensitive, racist stereotype, and you might want to change it. Amanda hyperventilates, screams, calls the critics "joy killers."

After the controversy, the cover is changed to the current cover.

Next: Feminists of Color at the WAM conference are pissed off at Seal Press over their treatment of a WOC author. Black Amazon dares to say "FUCK SEAL PRESS" (in capital letters, no less) on her blog, which brings the Seal Press flunkies a-runnin over to chastise her. Then the flunkies take it to the Seal Press blog, and receive a shitload of comments criticizing their rude behavior (i.e. coming onto someone's blog and patronizing them, particularly with NO introduction or previous history of interaction).

Seal Press deletes the entire thread.

Amanda posts her famous Alter-Net piece, which does not acknowledge a very popular and cherished WOC blogger, Brownfemipower (known as BFP), who has been covering the same issues Amanda is writing about. For years. At least one of the immigration cases covered in the post is one that BFP pointedly mentioned at the WAM conference.

Amanda, called out publicly, proves that she wrote the piece before the conference, as various other bloggers back her up. Many people, including your humble narrator, point out that appropriation is one of those tricky, even unconscious things (which I also touched on in my "black name" post; people often believe they have invented things that they likely have heard previously). Amanda freely admits she regularly reads BFP and even mentions BFP's blog in her book. Yet, she does not say "Wow, okay, here's a link to BFP, sorry about that!"--which would have been plenty sufficient to avoid more trouble. Instead, she digs her heels in and says she was IN NO WAY inspired by BFP and goes on the counterattack. For many folks, the nastiness and cluelessness of the counterattack are far more disturbing than the Alter-Net issue itself. Amanda accuses people of being jealous, trying to ruin her career, etc etc.

And along the way, Brownfemipower deletes her entire blog, causing great sadness throughout Blogdonia.

Latest update, Amanda is on the book tour.

Apparently, Seal Press saw fit to change the cover art, but FORGOT ALL ABOUT THE INSIDE ART, which features (see picture above) the same blond cartoon lady, set upon by evil dark natives.

Ohhhhh, dear God. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.*

And so, that's where we are right now. Some of Amanda's defenders, it would appear, are left with their thumbs up their asses, as we say here in the south. Or as my endodontist likes to say, it doesn't look good.

When you've got all of this, who needs COURT TV? Stay tuned, fight fans.

*For the kids: this was the famous tagline for JAWS II, useful in many situations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Odds and Sods - Azaleas and Beatles

Left: Azaleas! Photo from my hike in Falls Park (Greenville, SC) last weekend.


I've been entrusted to get the oil changed in Mr Daisy's car, but can't seem to rouse myself to do anything but putter around and look at Vanessa's cat drink out of the toilet. Lots of overwork lately, with attendant exhaustion. Where's my Rhodiola? I need an IV administered.

Whilst sifting through a mountain of ancient, illegally-recorded videotapes, I discovered A HARD DAYS NIGHT ("My grandfather? I thought he was your grandfather!"). And that reminded me: I need to stop and pick up Pattie Boyd's book, because clearly, there isn't enough trashy gossip in my life. I was talking about the book with a friend recently, who proclaimed it a must-read.

Apparently, the UK edition is titled Wonderful Today, which is perfectly fine, but in the USA, it was changed to Wonderful Tonight, in case we didn't know which famous fellas she was attached to. ((rolls eyes))

Quote from Times review:

In “Wonderful Tonight,” Boyd seems like a real person who happened to be lucky enough to live shoulder to shoulder with rock deities. The prose is clear and unpretentious, and although she writes candidly about the pain her husbands’ infidelities caused her — particularly [George] Harrison’s affair with Ringo Starr’s first wife, Maureen — this isn’t a bitter tell-all screed. There’s an aura of sweetness around Boyd’s approach. Her early years with Harrison, who comes off as a relatively gentle man, clearly were happy ones, and she rather openly states that she regrets leaving him — although she’s quick to acknowledge she would have regretted missing out on the passion she felt for [Eric] Clapton.


I know I am pretty delinquent in my coverage of the Pennsylvania primary, which I knew Hillary would win, anyway. I am getting plenty depressed as the media and the electorate wallow in blatant racism and sexism, then self-righteously yammer that "The candidates should just focus on the issues!"

Hey! In case yall haven't noticed, those ARE the issues!


Speaking of George, this was the first song he ever wrote to appear on a Beatles album, and is also prominently featured in the aforementioned A HARD DAY'S NIGHT. George and Ringo called themselves "the economy-class Beatles"--usually George was rationed at two songs per album, max. (John and Paul were very territorial in the songwriting department.)

Not sure who he was talking about in the song. He was somewhat shy and introspective (especially compared to the other three) and was likely referring to various hangers-on, groupies and weirdos coming out of the woodwork after the Beatles became mega-famous. Certainly, he wasn't talking about our beloved Pattie!

Enjoy this little-known Beatles tune, which I've loved since I was about six years old. Feminists will appreciate that lots of us little girls sang it to boys who bothered us (in unison, too!) and we also jumped rope to it. (People who wonder why Pete Best got canned, just listen to that BEAT. The name was Beatles for a reason, people!)

The Beatles - Don't Bother Me

[via FoxyTunes / The Beatles]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On having a black name

My blog name is my grandmother's name, Daisy. My real name is one that would identify me very easily, so I don't use it. But I recently realized that something is missing in my online identity. While reading about The Carnival of Allies (proposed by The Angry Black Woman), I noted that I have never had to pointedly present myself as an ally to black people (not every minority; I specifically refer to black people) because they have usually assumed that I am.

They assume so, I figure, because I have a black name.


The first time it happened, I was in the third grade. I had moved to Columbus, Ohio, from a small town near Cleveland, where various types of ethnic names were common. No one had said anything about my name, since there were various names considered genuinely odd and unpronounceable in my class. Mine drew no attention there. But then, we moved. For about a year, the class I was in was mostly white. (As white flight reigned, within the year, my classes ran one-third to one-half black.)

The teacher called the roll. She got to my name, screwed up her face, looked confused, even alarmed. She said my name, _____? (Trepidation? Why?)

I answered.

She looked relieved. "That's an unusual name," she remarked, smiling. Why was she relieved?

I answered dutifully, "My mother made it up," which I believed was true. My mother had said so.

The teacher furrowed her brow, "Well, I've heard the name before," she said. She HAD? I was astonished. I had never met anyone else with my name. I thought it was mine and mine alone. Unique and one-of-a-kind.

"It's a N-GGER name!" some boy in the back of the room shouted, and the room erupted with laughter. I was too stunned to be embarrassed. I was taught that you weren't supposed to use that word. Would he get in trouble?

"Now, now, we'll have none of that!" the teacher injected, obviously slightly amused.

"But IT IS!" he shouted back, his comrades hooting with hysteria. "IT IS!"

"Well, maybe it is," she answered, "but that's nothing you should be saying like that!" She pursed her lips in disapproval; she didn't seem all that upset by it. Then she smiled sweetly at me, "And I'm sure _____ doesn't want you to talk about her name like that!"

I didn't, but I also didn't know why. I just wanted to cry. I told my mother.

"I made UP that name," she yelled indignantly, at no one in particular. "And they shouldn't be saying 'n-gger' in school!!! I hope you know you STILL AREN'T ALLOWED to use that word?!?" I nodded; I knew.

"I made UP that name," she repeated. "Well, damn!" She lit a cigarette. "Sorry, kid. It's so hard to be original."

(Lately, with all the appropriation issues in the feminist blogosphere, that line has been echoing in my head.)


I am a white woman, a blond, blue-eyed white woman, and I have a first name strongly associated with black women. My mother, a southerner by birth, never stopped telling me she made the name up. The fact that she truly could not remember ever hearing the name before, is a testament to the strength of southern segregation. It is likely she heard it once or twice, and simply forgot it until later. Just like those legendary blues riffs that got lifted from black musicians. (Is it plagiarism if you just FORGOT where you heard it?) And so, even at 50 years old, I have a name that makes people do a double-take. "You're _____?" is something I have heard all my life. "Yes, that would be me," is what I say, as they look confused. I have upset the social order. Names, I have learned, are a big, big part of it.

I always knew, for example, without really articulating why, that I should go in person to fill out a job application. Make sure they see you, I would think, unconsciously. I always called after sending in a resume, made sure they heard me. But even so, it's always been a problem; I have always had trouble securing interviews if I didn't already know someone in the company. And I have always known why. I was happy when the experts vindicated me.

And I only got my silly record and book reviews published when I started using a pseudonym. Were they suddenly more readable?

In the south, a few white women have my name--some have made sure to tell me about their aunts or cousins who have the "unusual" name, and how they spelled it (since nobody spells it exactly the same way). But it remains a "black" name--to the extent that several racist parodies have used my name, for instance, in places like The National Lampoon. Googling my first name, I find: an African-American Olympic medal winner, an African-American recipe website, a still-unknown jazz singer, a model, a teacher. All black women.

In addition, I've received black-oriented catalogs, mass-mailings, spam, coupons, radio station advertisements and invitations to church.

Saturday Night Live even assigned my name to a black crackhead-character in a comedy skit. I was at a small social gathering of mostly-white people when I saw it, and a roar of laughter went up at the mention of the character's name. Just like when I was in the third grade.

For some reason, it's always considered funny. Mistaken identity, ha ha ha. People of all races confide to me, laughing, that I'm the only white ____ they have ever met!

Why, exactly, is that funny? Because I've never understood why.


When I did customer service, I worked with mostly black women. And we were supposed to give our names, like good customer service robots: "Thank you for calling blabbity blabbity, I'm _____, how may I help you?"

"WHAT did you say your name was?"

Here it comes.

I always repeated it, obediently. And I often heard lots of illuminating stuff after that. A few:

"Are you a n-gger?"

"Are you black? Give me someone white. I want someone who can find their ass with both hands, no offense."

"Oh, God no."

(to someone else in the room) "Oh guess what, guys? I've got ______ on the phone, and she's gonna -solve- our problem!!!!" (room responds with hoots, hollers, boos, laughter, etc.)

"Give me someone white, and don't argue with me about it, just do it." (On these calls, I very much enjoyed getting the black supervisor with the British accent on the line; we both enjoyed putting one over on them. But I always made sure to tell the supervisor what was up.)

In other cases, I dug my heels in. Fuck you, I thought.

In short, on the phone, when assumed to be black, I reacted that way. When asked point-black if I was black, I wouldn't tell. "Why?" I'd ask.

"Because I need to get someone who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING," they'd reply, screaming. They would wait a half-hour for a supervisor they believed was white, before they'd let me deal with their situation, as I could have done in 5 minutes or less.

They made all sorts of assumptions when I wouldn't tell. "Most white people don't want to be mistaken for black," said one woman authoritatively, "so I think you're black, but you don't sound like it." Obviously, she thought this was a high compliment.

"You never know," I said.


:: At a retail location, a white male sales rep asked who was purchasing the books for a display, which was my job: _______ is, he was told. He blanched, shook his head adamantly and had something of a fit. He needed someone who knew about READING.

:: Employees are attending a seminar and a list of attendees' names given over the phone, to reserve seating . Wait, WHAT'S that name, again, who? "Has she finished high school?" (Everyone must finish high school to have the job in the first place, so why this question?)

:: "That's the worst name I ever heard, unless you're black, and you ain't!"

:: "Did your mom expect you to be black, or wasn't she sure who your daddy was?"

:: Lots of canceled dates, due to my name. Lots of changed invitations. And these were (white) guys my friends wanted me to meet, fellas they assured me were nice. I would invariably hear that the guy snorted derisively and/or initially freaked out: "I'm not going out with ______!!!" --until informed that I was blond and pale. Then he would.

But then, I wouldn't.


Various factors have influenced my politics. My mother was an EEOC representative and disability activist. She believed all people should be treated equally, and she lived her politics. And somewhere along the line, she gave me a black name, which has helped to guide my life. I have been forced, even against my will, to identify with a despised people.

"I know, I gave you a black name! I still thought I made it up," she told me, some time before her final illness.

"But it's been GOOD FOR YOU!" she announced. And then she smiled, satisfied.

It has been.

Monday, April 21, 2008


... was this weekend in downtown Greenville. It was a veritable invasion of the artists.

Some of the performers at this year's Artisphere:

Cajun king Marc Broussard, Asheville's popular Firecracker Jazz Band, the fabulous Susan Tedeschi, teenybopper favorite Nathan Angelo, soul songbird Kellin Watson, amazing New Orleans brass-funk masters Bonerama, Spartanburg's own Shane Pruitt, Lowcountry musician Shrimp City Slim, Christian blues artist Marvin King, the voice of South Carolina soul - Wanda Johnson, Asheville improvisational foursome the Nightcrawlers, entertaining blues bands Gas House Mouse, Elliott and the Untouchables and Chicago Joe Jones (click on Joe for some great tunes!) and of course, the Carolina Ballet.

And even more...


The Dead Air Artisphere Art award goes to my favorite artist of the festival-- Geoffrey Aaron Harris. Below are his pieces Rocket Launch, Supersonic, and my new computer desktop background, the completely irresistible Shrunken Heads of Robotica!


Left: The Dead Air Artisphere Music Award goes to Atlanta's bluesy Breeze Kings, who were just right for a relaxed Sunday afternoon by the river. (Click here for some good music!)


Below, the Reedy River on the west side of the falls. I was writing last week about the extensive development on the river, and this gives you a general idea of what it looks like. This is only a small part of Artisphere, but the prettiest part!

More great photos here!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


This one comes from lovely Zan!

I'm so glad you and your love are having a fabulous weekend, you both deserve it! ((kisses))

PS: I feel vindicated that I don't cuss as much on my blog as I (sometimes) do in real life!

Everyone have a great sabbath, and watch your mouths!

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou
Listening to: New York Dolls - Private World
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 18, 2008

Christian for Congress!

This morning, opened my email to find some YouTube video featuring a fella with a SUIT on, claiming to be TED CHRISTIAN!

Wait, that IS Ted Christian! Wow--he cleans up real good! Who knew?

Antiwar activist and all-round swell guy Ted Christian is running for Congress, South Carolina 4th district. The district Democratic primary is June 10th. If you are local, vote for him. If not, send him money! He is up against incumbent Republican Bob Inglis, hard-core right wingnut.

Ted, who lent you the tie, man!?!


Ted's kickoff campaign video, with suit:

Free speech for sex workers!

Left: Renegade Evolution, best sex-worker blogger in all of Blogdonia, ready to debate.

Colleges are known for serious drinking and hardy partying, right? Fraternities hire strippers and varsity athletes hire sex workers for private parties, as we learned during the educational Duke Lacrosse case. Just don't let the stripper come in through the FRONT DOOR.

Octogalore, being all lawyerly, offers these facts:

Our friend Renegade Evolution was asked to speak Monday, April 21st, at 5:30 pm, in the Andrews Building on the Campus of William and Mary College on pornography and sex work, in a debate alongside with Jill Brenneman. Debating Ren and Jill will be John Foubert, a professor at the college, and Samantha Berg, who started and runs

Read more about it here and here.

Unfortunately, Sam has apparently complained about comments Ren made and is attempting to get her disinvited. While these comments were clearly dramatic and not at all serious, Sam is attempting to piggyback on them to hide other, less sympathetic reasons for stifling the First Amendment...
(Read more of Octo's smart-lawyer comments here.)

Ren's actual post (that Sam is currently yowling about) was something along the lines of, I wish Sam would fall under a truck. Sam is hyperventilating that the mean stripper might hurt her and push her under a moving vehicle. She is pretending that the Blogdonia hyperbole of several "fuck-yous" exchanged on blogs in the past, is the equivalent to a real threat.

Indeed, this sums up Sam.

If you've ever read Sam's pedal-to-the-metal hysterical writing (she refers to our kind of feminism as "spreademism"--do I need to say more?), you know that she is given to major hyperbole also. But even more than that, she seems to believe that pornography is "real"--that simulated rape-movies are actual rape, that all women who perform in pornography are hoodwinked, ignorant gals who blundered into it, just as most of the flimsy story-lines would have you believe. Sam has blurred the line between fantasy and reality for so long in her politics, she seems to have forgotten that things we say online are quite often not "serious"--thus, "fall under a truck" translates as "I think what you are saying is pernicious and you have bad politics"... but alas, puritan hysteria and censorship are Sam's stock and trade.

And so, we see which side favors freedom of speech and open debate, and which side would shut it down.

Not for one second do I believe that Sam is truly physically "afraid" of lil ole 5'2" Ren. What I believe she is afraid of is not being able to debate her. And she has every reason to be afraid, because Ren will clean the clock of ANY puritan censor, particularly one disguised as a feminist.

If Sam IS afraid of Ren, all I can say is, she ain't gonna be much for taking on the REAL patriarchs, you know, the big boys with guns? Yeah, the patriarchy must be a-quakin in their boots, when they see Sam approach!

Other folks have written about this situation, too. Galling Galla asks "Who is feminism for, anyway?" and ties this incident to other recent skirmishes in Feminist Blogdonia, and rightly so:
when [feminists] engage in the silencing tactics that they have against sex workers, exactly how are these “radical feminists” any different from religious fundamentalists?
Good question. Any takers?

Listening to: Sugar - A Good Idea
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sweet Jesus, I hate Chris Matthews

Today, we are reminded that there is good reason for a blog titled Sweet Jesus I hate Chris Matthews.

Eric Boehlert at Media Matters has the goods on MSNBC's Matthews, doing a sort of greatest-hits-round-up of his misogynist obnoxiousness. Since there appears to be a never-ending supply, that proves to be pretty easy.

This particular jaunt into Matthews' misogyny starts with a story about Matthews in the New York Times, by Mark Leibovich:

“Did you get a load of Lou Rawls’s wife?” Matthews said as he left the spin room. Apparently the Rev. Jesse Jackson was introducing the widow of the R&B singer at the media center. “She was an absolute knockout,” Matthews declared. It’s a common Matthews designation. The actress Kerry Washington was also a “total knockout,” according to Matthews, who by 1 a.m. had repaired to the bar of the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton. He was sipping a Diet Coke and holding court for a cluster of network and political types, as well as for a procession of random glad-handers that included, wouldn’t you know it, Kerry Washington herself. Washington played Ray Charles’s wife in the movie “Ray” and Kay Amin in the “Last King of Scotland.” She is a big Obama supporter and was in town for the debate; more to the point, she said she likes “Hardball.” Matthews grabbed her hand, and Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC who was seated across the table, vowed to get her on the show.

“I know why he wants you on,” Matthews said to Washington while looking at Griffin.


“He wants you on because you’re beautiful,” Matthews said. “And because you’re black.” He handed Washington a business card and told her to call anytime “if you ever want to hang out with Chris Matthews.”
And that's just the first page.

As the Times reluctantly admitted, Matthews' considerable and undisguised hostility to Hillary Clinton is palpable:
Still, it’s hard to watch Matthews and conclude that he has been anything less than enthralled by Obama and, at the very least, is sick of Clinton. The antipathy dates back some time. Just before the start of Clinton’s first campaign for the Senate in 2000, Matthews said: “Hillary Clinton bugs a lot of guys, I mean, really bugs people — like maybe me on occasion. . . . She drives some of us absolutely nuts.”
One wonders, who is "us"--and he answers: GUYS. Yes, the guys are bothered.

And Chris doesn't like it when you call him sexist, according to the Times.
The conversation moved to what Matthews calls “the sexist thing,” or what Media Matters calls Matthews’s “history of degrading comments about women, in which he focuses on the physical appearances of his female guests and of other women discussed on his program.” This would include Matthews loudly admiring the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham (“You’re great looking, obviously — one of God’s gifts to men in this country”), Elizabeth Edwards (“You’ve got a great face”), Jane Fonda (“You also dazzle us with your beauty and all the good things”), CNBC’s Margaret Brennan (“You’re gorgeous”) and Erin Burnett (“You’re beautiful. . . . You’re a knockout”), among others. The Burnett episode was especially remarked upon. In the video Matthews instructed Burnett to “get a little closer to the camera.” As Burnett became confused, Matthews persisted: “Come on in closer. No, come in — come in further — come in closer. Really close.” It was, at the minimum, uncomfortable to watch.

Matthews says the notion that he is sexist has been pushed unfairly by blogs, women’s groups and, to some degree, the Clinton campaign.
The girl bloggers are after Chris! Well, let me hasten to add my voice, in that case.

But Eric Boehlert believes misogyny has actually propelled Chris to media stardom. After reading his piece, I was put in mind of how certain heavy metal and hip hop stars often look more "cool" and "edgy" when they get down in the dirt and engage in some hearty male-bonding with the dudes by vigorously and repeatedly trashing women.

It's a great career move, as it has been in Matthews' case:
And while a blog swarm did engulf Matthews in January, followed by a forced, pseudo-apology by the host -- and his attacks did prompt some women activists to carry picket signs outside the MSNBC studios -- the openly sexist comments have produced very few condemnations from within the industry and even less soul-searching from the (mostly male) press corps. In fact, in Matthews' case, the sexist outbursts have helped propel his career. That's how he landed on the cover of the Times magazine.

Why? Because misogyny pays.

Question: If Chris Matthews had been forced to apologize to Sen. Barack Obama for divisive, personal comments the host had made about the candidate, and if the comments had prompted civil rights groups to protest outside the MSNBC studios, do you think Chris Matthews, three months after the fact, would be photographed on the cover of The New York Times Magazine with an uproarious grin on his face?

For me, there were two key takeaways from the Times opus. The first was that Clinton-bashing -- and specifically, misogynistic Hillary-bashing -- pays off in the form of magazine cover stories. And second was that political journalism is a farce.
And this is really too bad. I enjoy political news, and I don't mind if people are biased (as I realize they are at FOX, CNN and MSNBC), as long as I am aware of the bias. What's dicey about Chris Matthews is that he tries to present himself as a fair reporter and/or commentator (what the hell IS he, anyway?), then unabashedly airs his personal prejudices. With someone like Bill O'Reilly or Michelle Malkin, you know exactly who they are and what they are about, right up front. They don't pretend to be objective, detached journalists.

It's hard to believe a sexist swine is acceptable in this day and age and is rewarded with his own TV show and attendant media fawning. Then again, the word MISOGYNY is something of a dirty word on TV anyway:
The press plays dumb about the misogyny, and the Times magazine article was a perfect example. (The political press hates the word misogyny and considers the idea to be cuckoo. Click here to watch Keith Olbermann jump down Elton John's throat for even daring to utter the word in the context of the Clinton campaign.)
I've been puzzled about this, and Boehlert offers his opinion:
And c'mon, what's more adorable than watching powerful men in their 60s publicly lust after women often half their age?

Please note this odd, yet crucial, point: Matthews' openly sexist streak extends only to Democratic and liberal women, and that's another reason the press plays dumb. Because media elites would never anoint Matthews the Hot Journalist if he went on and on about how Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) was too ambitious, or how Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was "witchy," or how the voice of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) sounded like fingernails being run across a chalkboard, or how Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) had "cold eyes."

That would be considered offensive and out of bounds. But to suggest Clinton's a "witchy," "anti-male" Nurse Ratched? That's deemed by the Beltway elites to be shrewd, astute, and fearless.

See, misogyny pays. And according to the Times, Matthews has three Mercedes in his driveway to prove it.
Excuse me, think I gotta go barf!

Listening to: Squalls - Kalinka
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Odds and Sods: The bitter edition

Someone left a Jack Chick comic on my windshield! I figure this has something to do with the Pope's visit to the US.

The frame at left is from This Was Your Life, one of his most famous, and the exact one left on my car. It's been years since I've read the whole thing, so I was tickled pink to get it! (I heartily suggest the Jack T. Chick Parody Archive, for an afternoon of fun!)

And speaking of the Pope (great segue!) I confess to being an unabashed fan of Politico's SHENANIGANS, where this week, Anne Schroeder Mullins tells us:

Scalping tickets to see the Pope — oh, the irony. But it's goin' on. A quick search has the price up around $100 a pop. We asked your thoughts:

*"Seems fairly sinful, but I think if you leave face-value of the tickets in the plate on Sunday you're cool." — MSNBC's Willie Geist

*"If you want the Hallmark moments you got to pay ballpark prices." — Dem Hill staffer

*"The Pope hasn’t played Washington since ’79. It’s like the Stones returning to Baltimore after 40 years.” — Senate staffer David DiMartino

*And, "Of course there is scalping, he’s the Hannah Montana of religious leaders." — High level senate staffer, understanding free market economics.
This explains so much!


Meanwhile, the media continues ravaging Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for his much-repeated (and rather tepid) statements about how some working class people are "bitter" and cling to religion and guns. I didn't initially blog about this (like a lot of lefties, I notice) because I didn't regard it as any big deal and assumed all related foofaraw would blow over quickly. I mean, everyone knows this, yes? Didn't Pat Buchanan build his entire presidential campaigns (in both 1992 and 1996) on these same proto-populist, anti-NAFTA sentiments? Hasn't Ron Paul said as much?

Ohh, wait. I get it now. THOSE ARE WHITE PEOPLE!!!

The Angry Black Woman breaks it down, in a piece aptly titled Is it still an insult if it's true? She discusses a fascinating book (that I've just ordered)--Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War, by a fellow named Joe Bageant:

[Bageant] points out, for example, that the American educational system was initially designed to produce good workers — specifically, people who were just educated enough to handle complex industrial labor, but purposefully not educated enough to question authority. Educational methods which would promote critical thinking have historically been de-emphasized versus rote learning, and few American school systems have endorsed subject matter that gave equal time to global versus local knowledge, complete versus Eurocentric history, etc. We’ve heard this before, of course; IMO, it’s the main reason America’s schools are crap, and yet too many are blaming that poor performance on immigrants and PoC. What Bageant points out is that this “teach them to be good, unquestioning, America-first workers” trend disproportionately affected rural and small-town communities, simply through scarcity of resources. After all, a 2000-person town can hardly support both a Montessori school and a regular kindergarten. It’s not going to have the wealth of options that larger cities provide via charter schools, etc. And since fewer parents in such communities went to college versus parents in cities (where often there were low-cost educational options available, like New York’s CUNY system, which was free until 1975), the likelihood that those parents would then encourage their kids to seek higher education was low, versus the population in cities.

The result of all this, according to Bageant? People from rural, poor communities have been virtually programmed for generations to listen not to their own reasoning, but to whoever speaks loudest and most authoritatively on any subject. They respond to simple, emotionally charged messages — even when the the issues that the messages involve are complex and nuanced. They resent, and therefore distrust, those Americans who had greater access to education, or who were taught to question as they were not; Bageant believes this is less about anti-intellectualism/anti-elitism than it is simple schadenfreude towards the more fortunate. And they’ve developed the perfectly reasonable survival mechanism of listening to whoever seems willing to help them, regardless of whether those people actually are helpful. Bageant notes cases of conservative politicians who visited rural areas and shared a beer with poor constituents — then turned right around and instituted policies that made health care, housing, food, and education unaffordable for those same people. Frequently these politicians got elected multiple times in spite of this. Loyalty, after all, is one of the values their constitutents were taught in school.
She links a bunch of people, so go over there and read the whole thing.

Similarly, Nicholas Von Hoffman brings the facts and figures over at THE NATION:
Last week Barack Obama, destiny's tot, suggested blue-collar Americans are feeling bitter about their financial condition, which has been on a bit of a decline during the last five, ten, fifteen, twenty years or so. Rival politicians immediately pounced and they've been whaling on him ever since.

How dare Obama suggest people are bitter? Americans are not bitter! Americans are happy, proud, peppy, content and optimistic!

Maybe. But if millions of them are not bitter and/or angry at this point, there is probably something wrong with them.
Hoffman's piece is titled Bitter? You Should Be! Why Obama Is Right.


Octogalore defends feminism! She makes it clear why it must be done. I just love her for it:
I hurt when I hear someone I respect opting out of the principle that says: these people deserve better.

Because that’s all it is. That’s all feminism is. There are tens, hundreds of different varieties. But feminism is very simple. No matter how dominant-seeming, no matter how vocal, no group can define for any individual woman what comes along with believing she is equal.

Listening to: Uncle Tupelo - Chickamauga
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Waterfall Downtown

Left: The Reedy River falls, downtown Greenville, SC. Photo taken yesterday by your humble narrator. This is from the footbridge, looking down on the falls.

The first time I realized I had moved to a locality with a waterfall downtown, was, I think, 1988. I remember thinking I was hallucinating, circled the block, got out of my car on what was then the Camperdown bridge. Holy shit, Niagara Falls below! I told my husband, who thought I had imagined it. "Probably some water-power system for the old textile mills," he said, and in fact, that is exactly how Greenville became a textile town. I finally took him to the falls, then hidden under a gargantuan, ancient and thoroughly ugly concrete bridge. There is a waterfall downtown!


Left: The footbridge over the river, taken from the Wyche overlook.

Very, very few cities can claim a downtown waterfall. Certainly, I've never heard of any others.

You just GAPE at it, rather like coming upon a mountain, an orange grove or some other natural wonder in the middle of a town--huh? What?

For years, Greenville was embarrassed by it's pre-electric, pre-TVA past, and hid the waterfall. Like me, newcomers weren't sure they'd even seen it; you could drive right over it. But then came the trendy global-capitalist, latte-town dreams of the Chamber of Commerce. Various rich investor-newbies to Greenville took one look at that waterfall and went--OMIGOD! Dollar signs lit up the eyes. They moved Mr Billy Mitchell out of his famous record store. They built a Hampton Inn, Quiznos, Starbucks, and the rest. But most importantly, the thing they got right? They tore down that nasty old bridge and exposed the beautiful waterfall for the people to see. A $4.5 million suspension bridge, named the Liberty Bridge, went in. Following the natural ravine around the river, a park was landscaped, connecting the new Governor's School for the Arts with downtown.

And what else goes with a lovely new park along the waterfall and river, but pricey restaurants and condos?

I guess you know the rest. Appropriate for tax time: It used to be cheap to live here, and now it isn't.

Edit: Some construction photos of the pedestrian bridge, for engineering geeks and other interested parties.

Photo at left: from the south side of the park.

Listening to: The Who - Heaven and Hell
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dead Air Church: Shining Star

Dead Air Church brings you Earth, Wind & Fire's wonderful Shining Star recorded live (1975) on the old Midnight Special TV show. I recall this fairly well, since I taped it on an ancient RCA tape-recorder with the extremely low-tech microphone propped up in front of the TV. (Many of us regularly taped the show, which was a great way to get live recordings.)

This song is about human dignity and self-respect, and goes out this week to our newly-retired blogger Brownfemipower. I will dearly miss your spiritual writing and fierce insight. Also, to Blackamazon, who is able to bring down the wrath of feminist publishing with three little words! An amazing and powerful woman, whose words command earth-shaking responses. These are the women the world requires!

At the end of this song, unlike the recorded version, there is a "call and response" segment, which first entered mass-marketed popular music (to my knowledge) with the Isley Brothers' Shout. This is a worship style of the African-American church, that evolved from African community-debate tradition:
In Sub-Saharan African cultures, call and response is a pervasive pattern of democratic participation -- in public gatherings in the discussion of civic affairs, in religious rituals, as well as in vocal and instrumental musical expression. It is this tradition that African bondsmen and women brought with them to the New World and which has been transmitted over the centuries in various forms of cultural expression -- in religious observance; public gatherings; sporting events; even in children's rhymes; and, most notably, in African-American music in its myriad forms and descendants including: gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz and jazz extensions.
Not surprisingly, this song has been covered by Christian artists also, notably the pioneering Christian metal band Stryper.

And before there was Samuel L. Jackson, there was... Maurice White!!! One of the coolest guys ever; the very measure of cool even though people used to call his hair a "half-ro" since half of his hair was gone. Unfortunately, White has Parkinson's disease now and is no longer in the music business. He was quite the marvel in his day, as was Earth, Wind and Fire--inventive, fabulous funk-originators.

And yes, he popularized the sparkly-jacket-with-no-shirt look, imitated by 70s lounge lizards everywhere. Singing effortless harmony with White is multi-talented Philip Bailey.

Enjoy, and live the message!


Earth, Wind & Fire - Shining Star

[via FoxyTunes / Earth, Wind & Fire]

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, David Cassidy

Left: David Cassidy's wonderfully sexy ROLLING STONE photo, by Annie Leibowitz.

Truth be told, I don't particularly enjoy knowing it's David Cassidy's birthday, but this bit of arcane knowledge remains stuck in my head.

Ellen Goodman once wrote a good piece about old folks' memories. She said she realized what the problem was: we can't erase things like you would from a hard drive. She said we'd have more ROOM to remember stuff if we could erase the detritus, such as old songs from childhood, capitals of countries that no longer exist, and other meaningless gibberish. My God, I now know how true that is. I can't remember the names of any of these new bands and tend to get the names all botched and morphed, i.e. Coldboy and Fall-Out Play rather than Coldplay and Fall-Out Boy. Sigh. Meanwhile, I can tell you that David Cassidy was born today in New York City in 1950. He's 5'8" and his favorite song was The Thrill is Gone by BB King. I do not WANT to retain these nonessential facts, yet inexplicably, I do--since I memorized this junk when I was 12. It shall therefore remain forever, since we have not perfected a delete function for the brain.

In person, David Cassidy was cute as a button, and I shrieked like the hysterical young fan I was. At some point I intend to write about full-fledged teenybopperdom and its undercurrent of violence--as an adult I read Cassidy's book (C'mon, Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus) in which he confesses his fear that he would be literally torn apart by the screaming-girl-hordes, and I daresay, he could have been. At what point does adulation and recently-turned-on estrogen turn into dangerous mob hysteria? And need I tell you, it's a lot of fun to be in that mob? (Or it was, I certainly wouldn't do it now.) I had the time of my life!

Thanks, it was fun, and happy birthday.
Listening to: Yo La Tengo - Moby Octopad
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dr. Doom: Misogynist Pig

Left: the frame that started it all, Marvel comics' Mighty Avengers #11. (Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Mark Bagley, based on originals by Frank Cho.)

As comics fans know, Dr Victor von Doom is a menacing and evil presence. How can we complain that he's a misogynist? Of course he is.

And further, shouldn't the bad guy sound like a bad guy? And isn't some good-ole random, nasty woman-hating (in this case, directed at Ms. Marvel) an easy, all-purpose way to establish that he is indeed a villain?

Considering these and many other related questions, great conversations are taking place on Myriad Issues, The All-New, All-Different Howling Curmudgeons, and links aplenty on the invaluable When Fangirls Attack.

At Newsarama, Lisa Fortuner writes:

Now, is it INAPPROPRIATELY misogynistic? There is such a thing as characterization, after all. And Dr. Doom is a bad guy. So the attitude is proper. And I’ve heard, in even darker corners of the internet, that the “Feminists are overreacting here, because Doom is a dick.”
Valerie D'Orazio writes, at Occasional Superheroine:
I know Doctor Doom is a dick -- I get it. But, I still don't want to read stuff like this. And from the standpoint of Doom being a Marvel character that is licensed across a wide range of products, both for adults and children, it's just not smart. There were other ways to show Doctor Doom is a bad guy besides calling Ms. Marvel a whore. Ask Stan Lee when you have the chance.
And the prize goes to Kali at Possibly Irrelevant Information:
I haven't even begun to address the fact that in almost forty five years of delivering verbal smackdowns that would make Oscar Wilde turn bilious green with jealousy, Doom has never, EVER resorted to sounding juvenile and grossly desperate. Doom is the lord and master of the putting-you-in-your-place-and-making-you-feel-two-millimeters-tall verbal lashing, but he does it with regality and elegance. Doom is never base.

That's not Doom. That's a SKRULL that watches too much Bill O'Reilly filtered through Frank Miller. Wait, I take that back. The Skrull aren't sexist. That's Otto Weininger filtered through Bill O'Reilly filtered through Ann Coulter filtered through Norman Mailer filtered through Frank Miller.

Conflating an insult by attacking the size and shape of a woman's body and accusing her of being a slattern? Oh, Bendis. Is that the best you can do? Exporting Western misogynistic cultural perceptions of a woman's worth being tied to her physical attractiveness and templating that onto Victor Von Doom? If Bendis is trying to show us that Doom is a villain, he's failing, because it's such a typical pattern for Bendis that I don't hear Doom speaking in this issue, I hear BENDIS speaking through Doom's mouth. That's not the mark of a good writer.
Listening to: The Replacements - Alex Chilton
via FoxyTunes