Sunday, January 31, 2010

Puttin on the Ritz

We survived the ice storm this week; now awaiting the next arctic blast... ugh.

Meanwhile, staying mellow with Fred Astaire.

Watching BLUE SKIES (1946) on Turner Classic Movies, and just beheld this gem:

Puttin on the Ritz - Fred Astaire

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I wish they'd stop saying that...

General Announcement!

The Who without Keith Moon and John Entwhistle are not The Who. Thus, THE WHO are not playing the Super Bowl. HALF of The Who are playing the Super Bowl.

Just wanted to clear that up.

And now, some music with (among others) the REAL Who.


I have played this video before on DEAD AIR, but love it so much it gets a rerun. All that mods-on-speed dancing! Great cultural artifact, enjoy!

Keith looks about 14... in fact, by my estimation, he was only 18 or 19.

I Can't Explain - The Who (circa 1965)


Dirty Work - Steely Dan (1972)


Earworm time! This has been IN MY HEAD FOR TWO SOLID WEEKS! And then I always think of Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (three hanky alert for that clip, for those of you prone to sobbing in the middle of the day!)...

Check out Bryan's early-80s hair, very nice! Most guys who sat and watched themselves in a video-within-a-video? I'd make a nasty crack about narcissism... but this is Bryan Ferry, and as this song makes clear, he has earned the right to do whatever he wants.

More Than This - Roxy Music (1982)


More Than This - Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (2003)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lt Gov Andre Bauer refuses to apologize

South Carolina Lt. Gov Andre Bauer, photo from The Palmetto Scoop.

As you probably have heard, there is now a national firestorm over our esteemed Lt Gov Andre Bauer's "ill-chosen" remarks:

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better,” Bauer said.
He made the Washington Post, Jon Stewart and the Rachel Maddow Show! Bauer is famous at long last. ((sigh))

And locally, his reviews haven't been much better:

Bruce Ransom, a political science professor at Clemson University's Strom Thurmond Institute, called those words “shocking.”

“It’s obviously an attack on poor people,” he said.

Rep. J. Todd Rutherford, a Richland County Democrat who said he is a friend of Bauer, said the remarks would be disappointing coming from anyone.

“It appears crystal clear that Jesus has left the Republican Party,” he said. “The only comparison between animals and people that should ever be done is to say that they are all God’s children.”

Rep. Harry Cato, a Greenville Republican, said it sounds like Bauer “has gone overboard.”

“We do have a responsibility as adults, as Christians, to take care of the children,” Cato said. “They’re here, and it’s not their fault that they were not born into loving parents or a life that does not provide for them. Sometimes parents are just down on their luck.”

He added, “Maybe it sounds like the point we’ve all been talking about forever and that is how do you help people that are down on their luck? How do you break the cycle of those who are in a cycle? There‘s a lot of various cycles people get in, and they do seem to go from generation to generation.”

Ransom said he also thought that was the issue Bauer was trying to get at, using an old argument that has been made against welfare recipients on people receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Bauer was saying that poor people are costing the government more and more money, Ransom said.

“The argument is one that shows no sensitivity and no compassion, particularly in that the argument is one that makes the analogy to stray animals,” he said.

Ransom said it’s hard to tell how Bauer’s remarks will affect his run for governor. They will appeal to people who believe that “all these unworthy people out here who are not responsible for their behavior and are not raising their children properly” are a burden on the rest of society, he said.
The local NAACP and Democratic Party have weighed in, also:

South Carolina's Democratic Party chairwoman, Carol Fowler, asked Bauer to apologize for making the remarks.

Fowler released a statement, saying, "Andre Bauer's crude utterances once again reveal his immaturity and poor judgment. Bauer is a bachelor who has never once had to worry about feeding a child of his own. His notion of punishing children by not feeding them because their parents missed a PTA meeting flies in the face of basic South Carolina values."

In response, Bauer said he shouldn't have used the "stray animals" reference. However, he said he knows his comments are politically incorrect, and he does not feel that he needs to apologize. He said his critics have not offered any solutions to what he called a cycle of dependency on government programs.

In a release, Bauer said he feels "strongly that we can and should help our neighbors who are truly needy ... There's a big difference between being truly needy and truly lazy."

The Greenville NAACP isn’t calling for Bauer's resignation, or even for an apology. The group’s leaders say it's too late for that. But what they would like is for Bauer not to run for governor, and if he does, they want him to lose.

Greenville NAACP leaders said Bauer has proved he doesn't deserve to be South Carolina's next governor. They are upset because they said some of the people Bauer aspires to serve are lower income.

In a news release, Clarence Echols, Greenville NAACP president, said to Bauer: "Keep your foot in your mouth. If you do that, we won't be subjected to such stupidity."

Bauer said he regrets using the metaphor, but he stands firm on his main point. He said some people who don't need welfare take advantage of it, and it becomes a cycle passed down through generations.

Echols said, "To see another politician who wants to be a leader in this state step into that same quagmire of speaking before thinking, it disturbs me greatly."

Monday morning, Bauer spoke to WYFF News 4 and said, "If they wholeheartedly feel that there ought to be a discussion, then that's great -- if they think I'm wrong by bringing up a topic that I feel is important. The fact is that we're going to have to cut somewhere in state government. We're having to cut essential services to people that can't actually provide for themselves because we're taking care of people that are just lazy. I think it's a topic worth discussing. If I'm wrong, so be it."
And here is the official non-apology from Bauer's campaign:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vegetarians at the playoffs!

Reaching into my invaluable GRIT cookbook, Athens' finest restaurant, to share some vegetarian recipes for this round of playoff fever. (Still waiting for the restaurant-owner to show up on the premises!)

For those of you looking for some decent football-fan eats, try this recipe for hummus... I love hummus with pretzels and/or wheat crackers, but anything is good to dip!



2 cans (15.5 oz) chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) -- drained, save liquid
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 scant teaspoons powdered cumin
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed butter/paste)

Puree all ingredients except chickpea liquid in food processor or blender. Gradually add the minimum amount of chickpea liquid required to give the mixture a thick, creamy, smooth consistency. Blend/mix until all graininess is gone. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. Serve cool in pitas sliced in half with shredded cabbage, cucumbers and carrots.

Yields approx 4 cups, or enough for 6 pita sandwiches (or an afternoon of 2-4 football fans idly dipping over the course of several hours... depending on appetite-levels, of course).

Keeps about 3 days refrigerated.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

SC Lt Gov Andre Bauer compares poor to stray dogs

Photo of Lt Gov Andre Bauer from 67 Degrees.


Those of you who wondered why we weren't so all-fired anxious to get rid of our wayward governor, Mark Sanford, down here in South Carolina... well, this should solve the enduring political puzzle at long last. Next in line for the job would be Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, whom I have written about quite a bit here at DEAD AIR.

And Bauer has just distinguished himself in his inimitable fashion, at a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn, comparing poor people to stray dogs.

I could never make this stuff up:

Bauer equates 'stray animals' to people in speech on aid to needy
Lieutenant governor says those receiving help 'owe something back'
By Nathaniel Cary • Staff Writer • January 23, 2010

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer drew a comparison to “feeding stray animals” during a speech about people on government assistance, “babies having babies,” and parents whose children are on free and reduced-price lunch.

Bauer, who's running for the Republican nomination for governor, made his remarks during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents.

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better,” Bauer said.

In South Carolina, 58 percent of students participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program, 45.5 percent in Greenville County.

Bauer's remarks came during a speech in which he said government should take away assistance if those receiving help didn't pass drug tests or attend parent-teacher conferences or PTA meetings if their children were receiving free and reduced-price lunches.

Bauer later told The Greenville News on Friday that he wasn't saying people on government assistance “were animals or anything else.”

In his speech to the group, Bauer said people have to become more engaged with government.

“You see, for the first time in the history of this country, we've got more people voting for a living than we do working for a living,” he said.

What the hell is he talking about, Daisy interrupts to ask indignantly. Jesus H. Christ.

And of course, it just gets worse.

Later in his speech, he said, “I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina,” adding, “You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch and I'll show you the worst test scores, folks. It's there, period. So how do you fix it? Well you say, ‘Look, if you receive goods or services from the government then you owe something back.'”

Bauer said during the speech that there are no “repercussions” from accepting government assistance.

“We don't make you take a drug test. We ought to. We don't even make you show up to your child's parent-teacher conference meeting or to the PTA meeting,” Bauer said.

“You go to a school where there's an active participation of parents and guess what? They have the highest test scores. So what do you do? You say, ‘Look folks, if you receive goods or services from the government and you don't attend a parent-teacher conference, bam, you lose your benefits.' We're going to have to do things like that. We can't afford to keep just giving money away.”

And he said it was time to confront “babies having babies, somebody's got to talk about. Politicians don't want to talk about it anymore because it's politically incorrect.”

Later, Bauer told The Greenville News that “people in society have certain responsibilities, just like if you don't pay your taxes, there are certain repercussions.”

He said government hasn't made requirements to make those receiving aid be more responsible.

“They can continue to have more and more kids and the reward is there's more and more money in it for them.”

Instead, he said the government should place incentives in its welfare programs such as providing child care so parents can work or receive education so they can break the welfare cycle.

Government continues to reward bad behavior by giving money to people who “don't have to do a thing,” he said.

Does this include corporate welfare, such as subsidizing Boeing's expensive move to South Carolina--to the tune of a 60% tax break? (And how many millions does that eventually work out to? Never was too good at math!) I agree, that kind of welfare sucks! Not to mention the bloodsuckers who keep running for office and pandering to the lowest element in our society. What are THEY giving back? Are these party hacks good for South Carolina, or do they just contribute to the continuing stereotype of us as a bunch of stupid, xenophobic rednecks?

Is Bauer proposing we take away free lunches from the kids with bad parents--the ones who test positive for drugs and won't attend school conferences, et. al.? Punish the kids for the parents' behavior, isn't that what he is advocating?

Interestingly (and hypocritically), Andre Bauer is a major pro-lifer, and takes the OPPOSITE line when the subject is abortion: Why punish the baby for the behavior of the parents? Like Mike Huckabee, whom he supported for president, Bauer does not believe in any legal exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape or incest; and this is the moral defense he and Huckabee repeatedly offer. So, apparently, it's okay to punish kids for what their parents do, as long as they are already born! Just not in the womb! The womb is sacrosanct, but once they are born? Fuck them and their free lunches!

(((blood boils)))

Anyway, now you know why Sanford is still the governor. Everyone here in SC already knows.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters at the Bohemian Cafe, this afternoon! A splendid time was guaranteed for all.

This was taped as part of WNCW's fabulous TOWER OF SONG series.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mark Sanford to mention affair in state-of-state speech

At left: Mark Sanford in Greer, South Carolina back in July, 2009. (Photo by Owen Riley Jr of the Greenville News.)

I have no time to address this right now, but simply couldn't let it pass without comment. And besides, what can you say? I think I've said most of it by now!

Do you believe?!?

Mark Sanford to mention affair in state-of-state speech
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • January 20, 2010
Greenville News

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford will address his affair with an Argentine woman and offer a slimmed-down policy agenda for the Legislature in his final state-of-the-state address.

“What we are asking for is I think a streamlined, specific, limited and achievable list of legislative priorities for the year,” Sanford said in a briefing for reporters ahead of the speech.

The affair launched ethics investigations and a failed impeachment effort. Last week Sanford was formally rebuked by legislators.

“I'll certainly at some point address it — not at length,” Sanford said of the affair. Some have told him to move on, but “I don't know that I'm capable of that” particularly since its his first address since news of the affair broke.

The policy agenda boils down to three themes Sanford has pushed in the past: a state Employment Security Commission overhaul; bureaucratic function reorganization and constitutional changes to reduce the number of statewide elected offices; and new limits on state spending growth.

The items are closer to reality than ever before and working their way through the Legislature.

Sanford told civic groups around the state as he pleaded to stay in office to support his policy agenda. He said it had been held back by people who didn't want to hand him political victories, but that's not a factor now because he's done with politics after he leaves office following his second, term-limited stint in 51 weeks.

Sanford will mention other accomplishments since he took office in January 2003, because “they are real and they are meaningful.” Still, “I would not describe it as a victory lap by any stretch of the imagination,” Sanford said.

Sanford's agenda rises or falls with a Legislature he's sparred with regularly since he took office. He famously carried pooping piglets to the House's doors to protest budget veto overrides and repeatedly challenged legislators in state and federal court, including last year's effort to bar use of federal stimulus cash.

While he has 357 days left in office, he has only until June's session end to mend rifts and get work done. And that time is colored by the affair and subsequent investigations. Just last week, the House voted 102-11 to formally rebuke him for abuse of his office and called into question his leadership. It rejected an impeachment resolution.

The resolution said “Sanford's conduct in its totality has breached the public trust of South Carolinians and has lowered their confidence in his ability to be their chief executive” and “has also brought ridicule, dishonor, disgrace, and shame not only upon Governor Sanford but upon this State and its citizens which rises to a level which requires a formal admonishment and censure.”

While it's nonbinding and has no practical affect on Sanford, he'll leave office as the only governor on record with a formal censure from the House. The Senate has referred the resolution to committee and it is unclear if it will act on the measure.

Meanwhile, the State Ethics Commission will schedule a hearing for Sanford on 37 charges involving violations of state ethics laws tied to his use of state planes, pricey commercial flights and use of campaign funds that could bring $74,000 in fines. And the attorney general is reviewing those to see if they merit criminal prosecution.

First lady Jenny Sanford has filed for divorce and the governor is not contesting it.

He calls it all “the storm” and knows people are interested. “Some would venture this will be my most widely watched state-of-the-state,” Sanford said.
Certainly, I'll be following it, probably on the local PBS affiliate.

Martha Coakley campaign memorial Open Thread!

No, it wasn't snowing indoors... the mirror was dirty. But I like the blur... at my age, blur is your friend!


Regarding the whole Martha Coakley debacle in Massachusetts: Does this mean I shouldn't run for office until I learn the names of sports figures?

What a horrifying thought.

Are male politicians asked for recipes when they run for office? Why aren't they? Obviously, recipes are much more important than sports. (((rolls eyes for emphasis)))


Meanwhile, I am looking at the photo at the left and wondering why I wasn't born with dainty, high-class girl-hands instead of hulking hands that look like they belong to a peasant. (Wait, I think I know the answer to that one.) Now you see why they forced the awful violin on me. Argh.

Consider this an open thread! Looking for interesting reading material, and too lazy to go looking for it. Contributions please; spam permitted. Keep it civil, and do not use this as an excuse to pick a fight over my moderation policy.

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dead Air Feminist Movie Series: Splendor in the Grass

Yes folks, I am bringing my considerable old-cinema-geekery here to share with all of you.

I have written here before about how I often feel guilty for watching politically-incorrect old movies... and I decided it was time to talk about the vintage films that blazed trails for women, however flawed these movies might be.

The problem with labeling an old movie "feminist": Invariably, something about it won't be feminist at all, and may even be anti-feminist. Revolution takes a long time. A movie that might be revolutionary in one sense, can be incredibly backward and oppressive in another.

Thus, I offer the following series with strong caveats. These are OLD movies. However, feminists will discover that in most cases, once you start watching these, you will be unable to stop.

First movie in our series:


I have seen this movie dozens of times. Dozens. And I have some issues with it, but it is nonetheless the finest (only?) example of a movie that dared to discuss the constraints on white middle-class female sexuality and present them as overall negatives. Being a lady SUCKS, and William Inge and Elia Kazan actually illustrated it for us in no uncertain terms. The movie takes a stand.

The setting is the late 1920s in Kansas. High school kids Natalie Wood (Deanie) and Warren Beatty (Bud) (*also together in real life during the making of the film; one reason the chemistry just crackles) are all hot and bothered, but of course, not allowed to have sex. And that's it. That's the whole story--but what a story it is. What happens when kids are not allowed to have sex? This is the answer to "true love waits" and needs to be shown right alongside the fundamentalist propaganda.

Football star Bud gets restless; he is, after all, Warren Beatty (one of those instances wherein an actor's real-life reputation is useful for the narrative). Bud wants a girl, he even feels bloody ENTITLED to a girl, but alas, Deanie is far too nice to put out. He therefore takes up with the school's "bad" girl... and as a direct result, our sweet Deanie starts to crack up.

It is to Natalie Wood's credit that she is able to gaze in a starry-eyed fashion at the numerous, hot football-photos of Beatty that wallpaper her bedroom, and somehow communicate to us her sexual desire without saying a word... this isn't some teenybopper merely sighing at pin-ups. This is serious stuff; she WANTS him. And when he disses her, there is an amazing scene of Natalie taking a bath--one of the veritable triumphs of Wood's career. Director Elia Kazan made her put her hands over her face, exposing her wrist, which had been deformed as a child; it was broken and never set properly. She was extremely self-conscious about her wrist, and always wore very expensive, clunky bracelets to hide it. (Good lord, did anyone bother to look at gorgeous Natalie's WRIST? HELLO?!?! Amazing what beautiful people worry about! But note even in the movie poster above, the clunky bracelet. Go back through Natalie's life, and just look at all the bracelets. She was never without one.)

Natalie, a child star, had been hanging with method actors like James Dean, and felt inferior to them. She wanted to break through, but was frightened too. She knew what that meant. Kazan challenged her with the scene. In his biography, Kazan wrote that Wood was supposed to be naked and vulnerable and showing her wrist was the equivalent of that for her. He pressed her until she agreed to do it.

Of course, who notices her wrist? I have run it back, and only then do I notice, but only because I am looking for it and I know about her self-consciousness. But it is when she covers her face that her acting takes off; Kazan knew his job very well. While Deanie is in the bathtub, carrying on about losing Bud, her mother suddenly catches on, more or less. (Deanie's mother was played by fabulous character actress Audrey Christie).

And her mother asks, with lowered voice and obvious trepidation: "Did Bud... spoil you?"

Natalie flips out, covers her face, jumps out of the bathtub and becomes hysterical: Did he SPOIL me, Mama?! No, mom! I'm not spoiled! I'm not spoiled, mom! I'm just as fresh and virginal like the day I was born, mom!

It's a great moment and a great scene. Likewise, when Natalie tarts herself up like the "bad" girl, Bud is jarred and confused instead of becoming attracted: "But Deanie, you're a nice girl!" he protests, shocked when she puts the moves on him. Natalie replies, "I'm not! I'm not a nice girl," and Bud responds by asking her where her pride is.

Natalie loses it again: "My pride?! My pride?! I don't have any pride!"

Yes, we know what she means. Suddenly, the untenable position of the "nice" girl who felt sexual feelings and dared to act on them, is laid completely bare.

And Natalie/Deanie completely cracks up, swimming out to a waterfall and nearly drowning (which is pretty creepy in retrospect, since Wood hated water, couldn't swim, and her actual cause-of-death was drowning). There is an extended psychiatric interlude for Deanie, while Bud's dad jumps out a window after the stock market crash. There is some excellent class-awareness in this movie, as we might expect from a famous almost-blacklisted director. And then, a very nice ending, which I won't spoil for you, but one you MUST SEE.

Many people feel the movie did not make as much money as it could have, if the ending had been different. Suffice to say, the ending is not a typical Hollywood happy ending... but is poetic, real, and beautiful.

You all must see it!

More movies to come... stay tuned, movie fans. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dead Air Church - Wasted on the Way

Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way
It used to be

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started
Long before I did

And there's so much time to make up
Everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Oh when you were young
Did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers
Who had all the nerve

Look round you now
You must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did
And got what they deserved

And there's so much love to make up
Everywhere you turn
Love we have wasted on the way
So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away
Let the water come and carry us away

(written by Graham Nash)


Wasted on the Way - Crosby, Stills and Nash (Live 1983)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Odds and Sods - First for 2010 edition!

It's been awhile since I served up the links... and you all have my deepest and sincerest apologies for not sharing.

I've been somewhat overwhelmed lately, and have mostly taken refuge in goofiness like old movies and playing FarmVille, she admitted, embarrassed. Mr Daisy has offered the unsolicited opinion that FarmVille should feature floods and tornadoes and periodically wipe out our crops, just like in real life. He doesn't seem to understand that real life is what we are ESCAPING FROM. Yeesh!

Anyway, fasten your seat belts, sports fans, and get ready for some fun reads!


Big shocker: Sarah Palin has a gig on Fox News now! As SouthernFemaleLawyer humorously puts it, What a Non-Surprise:

While I obviously am not a Palin fan, I don’t think that anyone can deny that the idea of Palin has become almost metaphysical. And not just to her supporters. “Palin” now represents, in a strange way, the ultimate expression of democracy. The sticking point there being, of course, that we are not a democracy. But the idea that anyone (yes, even YOU) could control the shots, combined with the idea that anyone (yes, even YOU) can override the current party system and define the country, pretty much has resulted in Palin-the-Idea.

However you look at it, it is a pretty empowering concept, which is why I don’t think that there is anything Palin (the person) could do to damage Palin (the idea). And that applies to both a pro-Palin sentiment AND an anti-Palin sentiment. Because what the meta-Palin represents to me is the fact that the conservative use of a social pyramid scheme (‘we the powerful will convince the powerless masses to support us against their better interests by pretending that they could one day be us’) has gone terribly awry. And, given, history, it was only a matter of time.
SouthernFemaleLawyer is one of my new favorite pit-stops in Blogdonia; centered, logical and insightful, don't miss her blog! And her observations about Palin are right on the money.


Jessamyn Smyth always rocks my Facebook feed with some great stuff. This week, her contributions have been particularly noteworthy:

The Loss of Legibility, Or, Why Do People Still Pile Into Grad School?

Why do people still go to grad school in the liberal arts?

My generation had an excuse; we were told that a great wave of retirements was imminent, after which jobs would spring from the ground like mushrooms. In other words, we were lied to.

But the adjunct trend is so well-established at this point, and the economic irrationality of grad school so screamingly obvious, that it's fair to wonder why many departments are actually experiencing record applications.
Love and Death in Indiana is about the murder of Don Belton, gay assistant professor at Indiana University:

It is easy to speculate about what may have happened. In fact we do not know. But the circumstances track with a familiar pattern -- one common enough to have a name: “the ‘gay panic’ defense.” This rests on the idea that the wave of disgust created in a heterosexual person at exposure to gay sexuality can create a state of temporary psychosis. The panic-stricken victim loses responsibility for his (for some reason, it always turns out to be “his”) actions.

This is an idea that should be retired to the Museum of Deranged Rationalization as soon as possible. But it seems far-fetched to imagine that Griffin and his counsel will get through trial without invoking it. (Despite his confession, Griffin has pleaded not guilty to murder.)

On the other hand, the “panic” defense touches on an issue that was of vital interest to Belton himself. He wrote the introduction to a book edited by the late Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Her work on queer theory includes a sustained inquiry into the complicated and damaging way certain institutions have forged intense bonds among men while also obliging them to police one another for the slightest trace of homosexuality. This contradictory demand makes for paranoia and volatility.
An excellent, if very sombering, read.

DEAD AIR sends our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to Don Belton's family, and novenas are currently ascending to heaven for his immortal soul.


Pat Robertson has once again opened his big, dumb mouth... this time about the tragedy in Haiti--undoubtedly you have heard this one already.

Robertson's "true story": Haiti "swore a pact to the devil" to get "free from the French" and "ever since, they have been cursed":

PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal."
See, remember back in the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church wouldn't allow just anybody to freely pontificate (root word: pontiff) about the ways of God?

Well, that is the kinda thing they were worried would happen.



And speaking of Catholicism (giggle! simply could not resist that segue!), Figleaf offers the amusing post titled "Women's Sex Drives Lowered By Guilt?" Why Would it Cost Us $105,000 to Learn If Research Really Says That?. Research? They really need RESEARCH for that?!? (They could have paid ME $105,000 and I could have told them!)


I am #10 on the local library's list for the fabulously scandal-mongering GAME CHANGE... I am afraid I may have to break down and actually buy it before all the fuss is over! I promise, sports fans, I will review the book here if I ever get my grubby little hands on it.

Already, my feminist antennae are up, as the women in the narrative (Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards, Sarah Palin) are getting the Lady Macbeth media-treatment. Those of you who saw 60 Minutes last Sunday know that Sarah Palin remarked that her choice as VP nominee was "God's will"... which is hardly the worst thing I can think of. (Is that supposed to be some big deal? Religious believers of all stripes regularly make this statement.) Much more alarming was the fact (later disputed by Palin, of course) that she didn't know why there was a North and South Korea. OMG.

Hillary is painted as crazy as a bedbug, and apparently, Elizabeth isn't far behind. The men (you know, the guys with the power) seem to fare much better. Hm.

As I said, my feminist antennae are up and I will certainly let you know.


AND FINALLY: Daisy (the Curly Cat) and Harley are being very, very good kitties and trying hard to find two disabled kitties a home! They must be adopted together because they help each other. Their names are Lenox and Diamond and you can read all about them HERE! They are located in South Florida, so if you can help at all in any way, please contact Your Daily Cute (see second link) or Animal Aid at LeeSparkman (at) aol (dot) com.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

General notice

In Feminist Blogdonia, the melodrama over Mary Daly's death has been fairly extreme.

Although many of the drama-majors have very good points, many have also been intentionally mean, vicious, childish, self-centered, solipsistic and politically backward. I'd link, but won't give them the satisfaction.

Suffice to say, I have done a huge reevaluation of my involvement on some of these blogs, and probably will not personally participate on these blogs in the future except to read and generally keep up.

There is no reason, I repeat, no reason to randomly attack people on blogs. If you were bullied as a kid or young person, that is still no excuse to act that same bullying and viciousness out on others. If you are a malcontent, I feel for you, but don't expect me to have respect for sheer emotion divorced from all true political action. Show me the creds. What have you done? If you can't point to something IN REAL LIFE that you have managed to do (the net is safe and anonymous, one reason why you feel free to behave like an asshole), yet you fulminate constantly about your supposed "oppression"* blah blah blah, I do not take you seriously as a political activist. I am laughing at you as a dilettante and fraud. Got it?

Yes, you know who you are.


*addressed to anyone not on Facebook, that I can't actually verify exists in real life in the form they present themselves on the net (proof that people IRL actually KNOW THEM). I am beginning to believe that several of these troublemakers are total made-up fakes, since there is no real-life record of their existence. If they bellyache that it's too daaaaaangerous for them, try a pseudonym, as many (including me) have done. I want proof you EXIST.

No proof, then as far as I am concerned, you don't.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker by Steven Greenhouse

Rarely has a book left me so thoroughly depressed.

I had planned to start writing this review over the weekend, but it was an unpleasant prospect that I kept putting off, rather like changing the kitty litter.

But I knew I had to. Rah rah the working classes, and all like that. But that's just it, I hate to catalog exactly how bad we're getting it right now, and will likely continue to get it. Whilst reading this book, I remarked offhandedly to Mr Daisy that surely it can't continue like this, and he just laughed at me. Sure it can. It can get much worse; just take a look at those exhausted seamstresses in Taiwan hurriedly sewing sewing sewing for a measly 9 cents a garment. Reading this account of working conditions in the USA right now, one comes away with the (thoroughly depressing) idea that the Labor Movement was a mere blip, a momentary pause in the long march towards turning the masses of us into automatons and work horses, not necessarily in that order.

Interestingly enough, what initially grabbed me about this book was the inclusion of a chapter about the company I used to work for. Wow, there it is! I was somewhat dazzled to read it: see, I told you it was bad. Of course, I already knew that, but how validating to see it here on the printed page; the lousy working conditions duly listed with the other shitty employers like Walmart.

The company in question runs call-centers for corporate clients, and although the client in the book-example is different, the description of the work-atmosphere and job-requirements are the same. (I have mentioned this job a few times on DEAD AIR, notably here and here.) I made pretty good money, admittedly, but I paid for it in blood. During rush-seasons, we got bonuses simply for showing up and on time, so that should tell you just how vicious and nasty the calls could get. It was not unusual for people to dramatically walk out on the job with a "take this job and shove it" flourish... or they might simply scurry away in tears. They finally had to bribe employees to stay.

Now, however, in today's economy, they don't even bother with the bribes. Wages are down; bonuses and perks largely non-existent. The layoffs and pay-decreases enumerated in this book started in 2001, which is the year I left.[1]:

They call it the script. But it's actually an arcane list of things you are supposed to say, and things you'd better not say. At the [company] call center in [Anywhere, USA], the script sometimes seems only slightly less sacred than the Bible.

If any of the 550 [my center had over 800] customer service representatives (CSRs) stray too much from the script on one call, they risk a tongue-lashing. If they are caught straying on three or four calls, they risk their job.

You must always say "Thank you for calling ____." [...] You should never call a customer sir or madam, it's always Mr. or Ms. with the last name. And you had better not mispronounce the last name, even if it's Krzyzewski. If you don't slip in the customer's name at least three times during a call, that will mean some demerits. And you'd better mention [special bargain] at least once each call. You need to sound chipper and energetic, and you shouldn't spend more than four minutes on a call [our official call time was three minutes, ten seconds, give or take]. You also need to slip in at least two "pro-actives" [instructions to customer on how to avoid calling back, things they can do themselves, but say it nicely].

[...] And when a call is about to end, you'd better not forget to ask, "Have I resolved all of your concerns today?"

[...] There are more than 60,000 call centers in the United States and an estimated 4 million call center workers. It's an industry at the heart of the American economy. Call centers are the connective tissue of modern commerce, handling airline reservations and stock sales, selling HBO subscriptions and cell phones, taking orders for LL Bean and Dell computers, troubleshooting problems with your hard drive or your credit card.

Call centers are sometimes viewed as factories that supply an invaluable product: customer service. One academic study found that "call centers introduce principles of mechanization and industrial engineering into a much wider array of service transactions than was hitherto possible"--thanks to specialized software, networked computers, sophisticated equipment that distributes calls, and recording devices that keep tabs on a CSR's every word. While call centers rely on modern technologies to maximize productivity, their techniques often seem borrowed from the "drive" principles of old.
In short, deviate from the script, take too long, mess it up, and it's your ass in a sling.

And you know, some folks in management tried to be as humane as they could be about it, but rules are rules. I once listened to myself cut off an extremely-talkative jerk (on a tape-recorded call; all are recorded, but only a random few are listened to for monthly quality-review), because he was running up my call-time drastically... After every few word-torrents, I interrupted him with, "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah" [2] which made my supervisors crack up so bad, they could barely write me up, they were laughing so hard. Nonetheless, I was written up. You have to keep the call short, but you can't interrupt the customer either (even if he sorely needs interrupting); obviously a no-win situation for the CSR. [3]

If you've ever wondered why it often takes two or three calls to straighten out a situation, keep in mind, the CSR answering your call might be working on a backlog of the last several calls. If you are put on hold immediately, it's because she has every window on her screen filled up, and has to clear one first to handle your call. Also, much of the new technology "auto-populates" screens with customer information that is often incorrect. So, she has to fix that, too. And a bunch of other shit besides:

[...] While on a call, perhaps answering a customer's questions about a monthly bill, the CSRs not only were supposed to slip in all the elements from the script, but were supposed to verify names and addresses and type them into the computer. And if the customer changed their cell phone plan [this was the Verizon call center in the book, mine was not] during a call, the CSRs had to type a great deal of additional information and do a credit check, all while navigating among various computer screens. [...] If while juggling all these tasks a call center rep concentrated so much on her typing or her computer screen that she didn't listen to the customer for a second or dropped a beat in the conversation, there would be consequences. "If you ever asked a customer to repeat something, the supervisors had a fit," [recalls one employee] "and you couldn't have dead air."

;) And now you know another reason for my blog name.

And now you also know why your information gets all screwed up.


As I said, I feel validated reading this account from the labor correspondent for the New York Times. Then again, note the "golly gee whiz" tone in what he has written, above. These are investigative "field studies" for him. It sounds remarkably like anthropology involving a pilgrimage to another culture that the author doesn't belong to, rather than workers in his own country. One gets the distinct impression that Steven Greenhouse doesn't actually associate with the people he is writing about. And see, although his heart is undoubtedly in the right place, I think this is part of the problem. Who is his intended audience, the workers in question? Who is he telling all of this to? NPR listeners? PBS viewers-like-you? People who attend Ivy-League schools? I can't quite figure out who is supposed to be reading this book; I didn't need to read it to know about the state of affairs described therein. I know what's in it. Who doesn't know about the current sorry state of affairs for the American worker? The educated people who will never have a job like CSR? (And are they utterly certain about that?)

Part of the problem is the class-schism of New York Times readers (wherein handbags are advertised starting at $4000 on sale) vs the rest of the country.

The problem is that he has to write this book in the first place, because people like him don't know about the call centers unless they read it in a book.


The best chapter in The Big Squeeze is (perfectly) titled "Leaner and Meaner," in which Greenhouse delineates the collapse of basic decency among management... something I first noticed during the Reagan era, when Big Business was manically fetishized as the savior of the American economy (and we see how well THAT worked, she coughed). Suddenly, bosses were given carte blanche to rip you a new one and scream stop fucking up whenever they took a notion. Before this time, such behavior was seriously uncool (have a look at MAD MEN again) and could lead to dismissal. After the 80s? The temper-tantrum-throwing supervisor was considered a real go-getter and was promoted to a fare-thee-well. Having no "sentimentality" and screaming at people the day their mother dies, well, that's a guy who CARES ABOUT THE COMPANY and will certainly go far, with hella commitment like that! The longer I have worked, the more I have seen this phenomenon in play. I have seen it increase to the point that I just assume most supervisors will be cruel--and I am pleasantly surprised when they aren't. Cruelty has become a managerial requirement; unkindness and brutality signal that you run a tight ship. A lot like the military.

Other chapters are also required reading, particularly "Outsourced and Out of Luck" and the well-documented "The Rise and Fall of the Social Contract"--chapter titles that speak for themselves. Although he offers 'solutions' at the end of the book, one can't help but think that companies and capitalists have already found their solution--and he even mentions it himself: Outsourcing. Maquiladoras. India. Mexico. If American workers complain or buckle under the pressure, do what the rich have always done: move on. Textile workers in the north start unionizing? Move the textile industry to the south. Too expensive THERE TOO? On to Mexico. Too expensive to pay call center workers a living wage in the USA? Hey, they speak English in India, and that's the new frontier for call centers.

They will just keep going until they find more people to use. And there seems to be a never-ending supply.

As I said, the book was depressing. The only thing I can think of to make me feel better is to repeat this old expression I learned years ago: Workers of the World unite, we have nothing to lose but our chains.



[1] I left the company virtually right before 9/11... one of my first thoughts on 9/11 was how much of a mess it would be if I was still taking calls (my shift was heavily East Coast/New York), which is a terrible, self-serving thought, but one I couldn't suppress. I was so grateful to be off the phones, so that I would not hear the anguish up close.

[2] I sounded rather like the yeah-yeah's at the end of the B-52s song, "Dance this mess around" if you have ever heard it.

On another call, I got a customer named Fernando and asked him if he liked the Abba song of the same name. I nearly got written up for that too, but it turned out he loved the song and started singing it to me. (That one also made the rounds of management, and some would sing "Fernando" to me when they saw me in the hallways.)

[3] What was jarring about the call was how I didn't remember a thing about it, as if my memory banks had been wiped clean ("Did I fall asleep?")... Even now, years later, only a few calls really stand out--most are a veritable blur of meaningless capitalist verbiage in my memory.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy Birthday!

How could I forget?

Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel (live 1956)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mary Daly 1928-2010

Photo of Mary Daly from Trivia: Voices of Feminism.

Not just any feminist's passing gets mentioned on NPR. Not just any feminist's passing is noted by the National Catholic Reporter:

Feminist theologian Mary Daly died January 3. She was a radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian who taught at Boston College for 33 years. Daly consented to retire from Boston College in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her Women's Studies classroom.
Her books included Beyond God the Father; Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism; Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy and Webster’s First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language.

Intergalactic was most assuredly the word. She wasn't quite on the same planet as the rest of us.

I didn't like her.

Kittywampus wrote a very good obituary, and this was my comment at her blog:
Daly did irreparable harm to feminism with her essentialism and transphobia, and we are still dealing with the fallout. As a Catholic, I believe she did irreparable harm to Catholic women who sought to reform the Church; she advised radical women to withdraw from it, leaving the liberal women who preferred to stay, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind. (I notice she didn’t advise them to withdraw from other patriarchal structures such as, um, academia.) In her later books like Pure Lust, she was positively hateful to any feminists who did not follow her out of the Church, but instead chose to stay and fight. Her way or the highway.

She was SO arrogant she did not even respond to Audre Lorde’s Open Letter To Mary Daly, which charged Daly with colonialism. I found it interesting that she simply ignored Lorde, rather as the males in the Church ignored Daly… she imitated the exact behavior that she criticized men for elsewhere.

Following the dictum “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”–I have decided not to write an obit for Daly. Considering the way she ignored Lorde and encouraged [Janice] Raymond, I’ve decided she doesn’t deserve one from a practicing Catholic. (She wouldn’t want one from a hopelessly-tainted woman such as me anyway. In Pure Lust she announced we were “imitation males”.)

I always thought it was weird that she railed against Churchly segregation of women, then went ahead and tried to keep men out of her classes. Like they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
This is my last word on Daly. Comments welcome, but please keep it civil.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I feel like I owe it to someone

This one goes out to Nicole.... don't cut it!

(And that goes for all the rest of you too, of course.)


Almost Cut my Hair - David Crosby (live acoustic 1991)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thinking like a drug addict

I invite you to closely examine the photos that accompany this post. They are all of the same person.*

Would you know this, if I hadn't told you?


Ironically, Mr Daisy and I had just been watching King of the Hill DVDs when we heard the news of Brittany Murphy's death. And as a King of the Hill fan, I felt that I had lost my dear friend Luanne, whom I loved like my own cartoon-land sister. And now I can't think of Luanne's sweet, scatterbrained, thoroughly clueless southern voice without tearing up. Ohhhh no, not Luanne!

Brittany Murphy was 32 years old.

With one or two exceptions (see below), there is a huge silence around her death. The implications are pretty far-reaching, so let me say it out loud: surgery is painful. Frequent surgery will make pain a frequent, even omnipresent reality.

In Hollywood, people (once it was only women, now it's everyone) have constant surgery to look good for movies and TV, and simply to stay employable. This state-of-affairs eventually evolves into endless medical tinkering and tweaking of the appearance. Surgery hurts, of course. Thus, the patients/victims are given ample painkillers, as Michael Jackson was. The result: you have a whole town full of rich, famous junkies, whom doctors will not refuse. (Out here in the heartland, you can have an exceptionally hard time getting your painkiller-Rx refilled, even when you are ready to drop dead; in Hollywood, the doctors are eager to do housecalls.) Need drugs? Have a handful!

Brittany Murphy's bedroom contained:

According to the notes, the medications included Topamax (anti-seizure meds also to prevent migraines), Methylprednisolone (anti-inflammatory), Fluoxetine (depression med), Klonopin (anxiety med), Carbamazepine (treats Diabetic symptoms and is also a bipolar med), Ativan (anxiety med), Vicoprofen (pain reliever), Propranolol (hypertension, used to prevent heart attacks), Biaxin (antibiotic), Hydrocodone (pain med) and miscellaneous vitamins.

The notes say, "No alcohol containers, paraphernalia or illegal drugs were discovered."
(Why the hell would you need illegal drugs when you can get all of that?!)

One of those phrases heard in recovery is: You are thinking like a drug addict. I found myself mulling over the death of young Brittany and by extension, the whole crew of drug-dependent Hollywood entertainers... and I wondered if they were also thinking like drug addicts.

That is to say, is the surgery first, or are the drugs first?

If you know you will get open-ended prescriptions, is that a possible enticement for more surgery? Perhaps that's one unacknowledged reason for the endless tweaking? Drugs, drugs and more drugs... but you have to plug into the system, you have to ride the gravy train. You have to get your face cut and pasted, probably some serious liposuction. It's like a baptism; a christening as a new Hollywood-being.

As a reward, perfectly legal chemicals that make you feel marvelous all the time. You can have as much as you want, but only if you continue the tweaking, the cutting, the pasting, the surgical tinkering.

And of course you will. By then, you are thinking like a drug addict.


Director Amy Heckerling has already weighed in:
Did Brittany Murphy's death have anything to do with her weight?

"Clueless" director Amy Heckerling seems to think so.

Heckerling, who worked with a much curvier Murphy during the filming of "Clueless," told that she is "angry" about the actress' death, and believes Hollywood played a large role in transforming her from a round-faced teen to a rail-thin adult.

"It just seemed like she was blowing up, being on every magazine and being treated as though she had suddenly become beautiful.," Heckerling told the mag. "And I think she was feeling very good about that. I'm just not happy with Hollywood."

Just a couple weeks before she collapsed in her shower and was pronounced dead from cardiac arrest, Murphy even admitted that she was too skinny while speaking with reporters at a store opening.

"I am a bit thinner now than what I would like to be," she told Fox News.
Murphy's official cause of death is still listed as "pending." But I see the photos, and I know that such a radical rearranging of one's appearance could not happen without considerable pain. And painkillers.

Brittany, we hardly knew ye, dear one.

Goodbye, my dearest Luanne.

*Photos above are Brittany Murphy in the films Clueless, Girl Interrupted, 8 Mile, and the not-yet-released Abandoned.

Dead Air Church: Where Evil Grows

Yes, you sinners, Dead Air Church is back in session!

I heard "Where Evil Grows" last night, and decided to reprise what I wrote about it in November of 2008:

This [song] is from waaaay back (1971) when songs were forced by radio censors to use oodles of euphemism. Virtually every line of this song has double, even triple meanings, and you just wonder how they got away with a line like "Evil grows in cracks and holes" without the record getting banned. No doubt, it's because of the presentation, which at first listen, sounds very bubblegum. Gotcha! Critic Kim Cooper writes: "The Partridge Family + The Manson Family = The Poppy Family"... even the name of the band wasn't what it seemed at first. They looked hippie-wholesome as the very dickens... yes, the same wholesome kids who took various strange acidhead detours in the late 60s/early 70s... wholesome, Canadian, fun-and-funky kids gone... well, if not exactly WRONG... then, you know, off. Yes, just off.

Some time later, the author of this song recorded one of the worst pop songs of all time, truly the fate of the damned. (Terry Jacks: Seasons in the Sun) But you know, we don't remember all of those bad Partridge Family songs they tortured us with, do we? No, we remember SEASONS IN THE SUN, it's badness is of a truly legendary nature. It's that touch of Manson that makes it morbid and weird.
And I realized the song was perfect for DEAD AIR Church.


WHERE EVIL GROWS - the Poppy Family