Monday, July 26, 2004

Vote Early, Vote Often

I've also cross-posted this at Rox Populi.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled reading of blogs covering the non-event, also known as a political convention, for this important news from the WAPO, via Oxblog:

Right wing. Left wing. Indifferent. Irreverent. There's a blog for every taste, opinion and attitude. washingtonpost.com's 2004 Best Blogs - Politics and Elections Readers' Choice Awards is your chance to speak out and vote for your favorite politics and election blogs.

From now until September 3, we'll be taking nominations from the blogosphere on the best weblogs from this political season. Whose rants could give Dennis Miller a run for his money? Who's making the best use of the technology? Who will be around long after the hype has died down?

For more details on Best Blogs - Politics and Elections including special information for bloggers click here.

Mark your calendars

Nominations begin: July 26, 2004
Voting begins: September 27, 2004
Winners announced: October 25, 2004


Of course, it would be really cool if a woman won.

Do You Believe in Angels?

Do You Believe in Angels?
I do. Here's why. (It's a creepy story, so be prepared.)

When I was about 13, we lived in a trailer on the property of my mother's boyfriend's job-- which was a big trucking company. One of the employees (we found out later) was an ex-con, who had been in prison for rape. I remember once in my youthful enthusiasm, I had happily hugged him (again, we didn't know he was a rapist). But even then, right as I hugged him, my nascent instincts about creepy men kicked in and I saw a funny look on his face and avoided him from then on.

We had this beautiful Doberman Pinscher named (can you guess?) Angel. She was one of the red Doberman's, and she was my sweet best friend. She had been abused by her former owner, and because we were kind and loving, she adored us. She would spin and leap happily whenever I came home from school. If you've ever seen a Doberman run flat out at top speed, you know how gorgeous an animal happy with life can be-- they look like speed personified. (They are bred partly from Greyhounds and you give them room and they will sprint like there's no tomorrow).

Angel liked to sleep in the doorway of my bedroom. One night, I was awoken by the sound of her yelping slightly to see her standing firmly in the door, with the look of permanent unbudging determination that said "Okay, buddy, you've got about ten seconds to live if you even think about trying it." The guy, I'll call him Zeke (since that actually was his name-- hey, I'm not protecting the bastard here!) was standing in front of her, hand out in that supplicating "please don't eat me" way that people tend to respond to Dobermans with their temper up. Angel didn't bark, she didn't rip his throat out, but there was the distinct impression that she would be glad to at any time. I realize in retrospect that my response to the situation was problematic-- Zeke said "sshhhhh" and "go back to sleep" and I did. Nothing untoward happened to me. Angel prevented him from entering my room, but she was a shy dog, and not trained to chase him off (he was, after all, a normal person to be on the property, so not exactly a stranger to her.)

My sister, who is seven years older than me and was sleeping on the couch, woke to find Zeke hovering on top of her. She told him if he didn't get off, she would kill him. Now, you have to realize that if my sister told you that, you would (and should) believe her. She is not at all shy, and would definitely carry out her threat (make that promise). He did-- he left, and was not seen again. (I don't know if he quit his job, or was fired, or what, but I never did see him again). My sister is kind of a heavy sleeper, though, and when she finally got up the next morning, she found that her underwear was gone. Nothing happened to her other than that "attempt" and we sort of wrote it off as a weird event that was fairly harmless. (Again, now, in retrospect, I would be calling the cops if it were my daughters telling this story to me the next morning, if only to keep my husband from going after the bastard with his well-polished Glock, but I think that's the issue with a lot of these cases-- people don't always realize how they should respond).

Angel was hit by a car and killed not very long after this incident. It was a heart-breaking moment and I saw it happen and cried for a very long time.

But here's the point. I am quite certain that if I had been the one to wake up with Zeke actually in my bedroom, given that I was young and used to minding adults, I'm not sure what would have happened. Angel firmly kept him out of my room, and my sister could handle herself. There are other things that would have been nice if they had happened, like Angel actually ripping his throat out. But that's what Angels do, right, they protect, but they don't actually inflict harm. Then, after saving me from a painful terrible event, she was sent back to wherever Angels hang out when they aren't in bodily mortal form.

I like to think that she's my guardian still today. I have a particular fondness for red Doberman's. It's possible I may get one myself one day, especially if I have a daughter who might need some firm protection. Of course, I plan to teach a future daughter's Angel to not be so gentle when assholes who don't belong somewhere show up. In the future, any man who doesn't belong in my home will be finding his balls as a new form of Alpo.

Originally posted at Kim Procrastinates

Sunday, July 25, 2004

That time of innocence

After more than 40 years, a group of my college sorority sisters got together around a dinner table.  Many of the young women who read this weblog are the ages of our children and grandchildren.  We were the girls in college around the time of the setting of "Mona Lisa Smile."

I'm writing on my weblog about the memories we all shared about that time --  that time of innocence, that time of boundless energies. A time when we were all learning together how to figure out who we wanted to be. A time when draft beer was 10 cents and girls would be confined to their dorms at night for a week if they stayed out later than 1 a.m. (midnight if you were a freshman).
 
I'm writing about the girls we were and the women we've become -- those golden girls who, I think, glow more compellingly now -- and for some it's 44 years later -- than they even did in what we all remember as our sweet golden glory days.

If you're interested, c'mon over.

ten stories that are not about Iraq

 
To shine a spotlight on some of the important international issues and developments that often do not get sufficient media attention, the United Nations Department of Public Information has created  "Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About."
 
The stories are not ones that have never been reported, but are often second-rung issues that need more thorough, balanced and regular attention. The list itself is a snapshot of the most compelling stories that includes the plight of child soldiers in Uganda, who are emerging as central figures amid deadly violence and a growing humanitarian emergency; the crisis of children orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; and overfishing as a threat to marine biodiversity.  

Friday, July 23, 2004

Under the Covers

I worry about terrorists. I don't obsess, and it's not on my mind every minute. But I think the Bush administration has set up a self-fulfilling prophesy.

So when I read Ann Jacobsen's article in the Women's Wall Street Journal last week, it made me nervous. Because, given the tenor of the times, I probably would have been seeing and feeling what she was seeing and feeling:

After seeing 14 Middle Eastern men board separately (six together, eight individually) and then act as a group, watching their unusual glances, observing their bizarre bathroom activities, watching them congregate in small groups, knowing that the flight attendants and the pilots were seriously concerned, and now knowing that federal air marshals were on board, I was officially terrified.

Jacobsen's tale is long but compelling and worth reading.

Even more worth reading (and a lot shorter) is lawyer and Stanford Ph.D. candidate Clinton Taylor's research and analysis of the happening.

It used to be easy to tell books by their covers. Sometimes you still can. You just know that this one is sure to be a bodice-ripper.  This one is too, in it's own way, but it's harder to tell. (This new "romance" category with strong, brave kick-ass females and strong, brave, tender males is one I plan on writing more about.)

I've had doors held open for me by Goth-garbed kids and have been given the finger by guys in suits driving SUVs. You can't tell the good guys from the bad guys any more. Or gals either for that matter.

Who knows what wickedness lurks behind the pleasant facade of a little ol' granny.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Teddy Pendergrass is worthy of fantasy

Toni and Foxxy, cold Crystile in wine glasses.

Flashing.

We macking -- Brown and Braxton.


Toni Braxton and Foxxy Brown
"You're Making Me High"


Rich people are different. So, it would be presumptuous of me to declare much commonality with Ms. Jackson. I had my wisdom teeth removed at 18. Janet Jackson had a CD, a starring role on a television series and a Rolls Royce at 18. 'Nuff said. So, it is with some amusement that I admit to sharing an experience with a Jackson family scion. In a recent interview in Blender magazine, Jackson describes certain prurient aspects of her early adolescence. The Vancouver Sun summarizes the article.


NEW YORK -- Long before her right breast was exposed to the world during the Super Bowl halftime show, Janet Jackson says she had thoughts about sex.
"As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that I had a very active sexual mind at a very young age. I hope that doesn't sound bad," Jackson tells Blender magazine for its June-July issue.


"My first crush was on Barry Manilow. He performed on television, and I remember taping it. When no one was around, I used to kiss the screen."


Jackson also recalls having a "major crush" on Teddy Pendergrass when she was 12.


"I thought he was singing to me," says the singer, now 38.


"When you're a kid, you have little fantasies, but I saw myself being with him as an adult, not as a kid."



Make that a double.

Wait a minute. I do not mean Barry Manilow. Scratch him and the donkey he rode in on.

But, Teddy Pendergrass? TP? Teddy Bear? For Ms. Jackson's fantasy to come true, she would have had to knock me down to get to him. The gift of a TP CD has reminded me how enthralled I was with the sensuous singer back in the day. He may be the last of the soul men and deserves more attention than he gets. The late Barry White pales in comparison, despite his reputation for being the man to get down to. For more than a decade Teddy ruled that roost. That voice -- always 'reasonable,' yet sensual and commanding. From smooth baritone to gruff growl. That face -- soulful eyes that seem to look right into yours, luscious lips that beg to be kissed, and possibly the only beard I've ever wanted to run my fingers through. That body -- long and lean, deep chocolate, and always clothed, though somehow it seemed not to be.

Teddy Pendergrass' genius was to transcend the material he was singing, to endow it with a soulfulness that it lacked in the voices of less magnetic singers. From his early 20s on, he had the ability to convey both sexuality and spirituality in a manner that mesmerized. The songs, some sensual ("Close the Door," "Love TKO," "Do Me") and some evangelistic ("Somebody Told Me to Deliver this Message," "Wake Up Everybody") made him the first African-American male vocalist to have five albums in a row go platinum. His erotic appeal, acomplished without ever removing clothing or sexually explicit dancing, took American girls and women by storm. Millions must have fantasized about 'their' Teddy Bear.

That one Teddy CD was not enough. I bought Life is a Song Worth Singing and Joy this week. Couldn't stop there. I have TP's autobiography, Truly Blessed, and hope to finish reading it soon. Watch for the review.

It is difficult to describe how convincing Teddy's songs can be in print. Suffice it to say that when he wheedles, "Let me do what I want to do. All I want to do is make love to you. Let me do. . .do. . .do" on "Close the Door," even a nun might be not just willing, but eager. Ms. Jackson's judgment might be questionable sometimes, but she couldn't have chosen a man more worthy of erotic fantasy than Teddy Pendergrass.

Whats's the art?

Teddy Pendergrass' smile.

Reasonably related

•Read the article in which Ms. Jackson gets nasty at Blender.

•Read a capsule history of Teddy Pendergrass' career at MP3.com.


Note: This entry also appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dick's The Ticket

It's time for me to put an end to all the "will Bush dump Cheney from the GOP ticket" speculation:

Dick's The Ticket
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Dick Cheney's Halliburton teamed
With evil axis, mad regimes,
To make big bucks while Dick was CEO.

Now Cheney lies and feigns and schemes,
With haughty self-regard extreme.
His pompous air and bluster's quite the pose.

The rest of    Dick's The Ticket is here.  

Monday, July 19, 2004

All bozos on this bus: A 1980 science fiction memoir

Cory Doctorow notes with amusement that in the span of a few short months in this year of 2004, both the Democratic Party National Convention and the World Science Fiction Convention will be held in Boston. He links to a handy guide for telling these 2 sets of conventioneers apart.

More info about the Dems in Boston.

More info about Noreascon Four. Also in Boston.

All of this takes me back to the end of August 1980. I was 27. The guy I’d been living with since 1974 had just come out to me, and I was spending the summer reeling from the shock. I mean, how could I have not known? How did I not see this? I could understand being rejected for another woman, but for another gender? Confusion. Self-hate. Pain. Pain. Pain. I lived on quarts of Haagen Dazs dulce de leche ice cream; I smoked -- a lot, nearly two whole packs each day; and I did not sleep at all.

Sometime earlier I'd seen an ad in the local alternative weekly from somebody who was organizing a trip to the World SF Convention over the long Labor Day weekend. I don’t remember why that item got me up and out of my Summer of Suffering funk, but it did. I decided to take some vacation days, go to Boston with a dozen people I’d never met before, and celebrate my 28th birthday at Noreascon Two, aka WorldCon 1980.

I was always one of those “SF readers are born, not made" people, who was hooked by the time I reached 3rd grade. The first SF book I remember reading was Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids , and that was it: I was lost. Then came the rest of the Lucky Starr series...(I wanted to be Bigman Jones and have those cool boots.) Then Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet books... After that it was Heinlein’s Time For the Stars, then the Otis Adelbert Kline Prince of Peril series…
That was it. No turning back.

None of my friends read SF or Fantasy. Although I went to three or four Minicons during the 70s, I wasn't much of a joiner and just kind of hovered around on the fringes of the Minneapolis fandom scene, which was perfectly alright with me. Sometimes being among fans was the most blissful thing imaginable, and at other times those could be the loneliest hours you'd ever spend.

At the time, WorldCon sounded like the perfect prescription for everything that was ailing me. The biggest SF con on Earth! Not some sleepy little mellow relaxacon of 750 people in Minneapolis, but 3, 5, 6,000 people from all over the world. Five days of programming: panel discussions… the dealer room --sorry, the huckster room… the costume masquerade… the Hugo Awards banquet… movies all night long… four concurrent TV/Video/Anime tracks…I could stay up for four nights in a row watching episodes of Kimba the White Lion! And the bid parties for future WorldCons – the “Minneapolis in ’73" bid party had been so great that even after they lost out on hosting the ’73 WorldCon, the con committee still held a “Minneapolis in ‘73" party every year. Those parties have become the stuff of legend. I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they're still having them 31 years later. If any Minn-stfers are reading this , you can verify if that grand old tradition continues.

Best of all, it was very likely that I’d meet some of my favorite authors. WorldCons have always been chockablock with writers famous and obscure. Many of the biggest names in SF/Fantasy would be there. Who knows? I might get stuck in an elevator with Isaac Asimov. I might sing a filksong or two with Anne McCaffrey. I might see for myself just how short Harlan Ellison really is. I might get drunk and throw up on Bob Silverberg. The possibilities were spine-tingling.

There was discouraging news from a couple of people I knew who were WorldCon veterans. They said I shouldn’t expect to see the author who was my favorite at that time, R. A. Lafferty. He was never a big name. I discovered him when I read his story Land of the Great Horses in the landmark anthology Dangerous Visions, and quickly snapped up everything of his I could find, which was not a whole lot; a few novels, most notably Past Master and Arrive at Easterwine, and some short story collections such as Nine Hundred Grandmothers (my single favorite Lafferty volume.) He had a stock company of recurring characters, all members of the Institute For Impure Science, which was forever testing some crackpot metaphysical theory or other, or summoning ghosts from out of our collective species-memory … you know, impure science stuff. He used wordplay that was truly strange and surreal. Frequently the things he wrote were laugh out loud hilarious.

Raphael Aloysius Lafferty was a retired electrical engineer who lived in Oklahoma. He hadn’t started writing SF until he was well into his 40s. In 1980 he was in his 60s. A bachelor, a devout Catholic and an alcoholic, he’d also been the caregiver for an invalid brother for several years. Ray had been at some WorldCons and other regional cons in the past, but if he wasn’t on the wagon there would be incidents. He’d have a dozen Cuba Libres and wind up in a shouting match with some unfortunate shnook in the bar. Or, more often, when he was feeling no pain he would start sitting in women’s laps, whether they’d invited him to or not. After several of these episodes, he had stopped coming to the cons altogether. I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be meeting the divine Lafferty now, nor anytime soon. I wouldn’t be giving him a huge hug and telling him how much I loved his work. Oh well. Maybe throwing up on Bob Silverberg would make up for that.

Looking back, I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember much about my fellow travellers on that fabled expedition to the East coast. We were 13 in all; nine men and four women. A few had met before, but most of us were strangers to each other. There was room for seven in a VW Microbus which was instantly christened “The Bozo Bus" (a Firesign Theatre reference.) The remaining six rode in "The Slan Van" thanks to an A.E. Van Vogt fan in our midst. During our 48 hour trek from Minnesota to Massachusetts, people switched vehicles each time we stopped for fast food or bathroom breaks. It helped whoever was driving stay awake if they had fresh conversation partners every couple of hours.

I remember being very thankful that we had a fairly good mix of personalities and philosophies. Most people could chat civilly and intelligently all day and all night about this topic or that, and nobody was blatantly obnoxious or argumentative, altho you could tell some people were prepared for that eventuality. One of the guys had brought an aerosol can of air freshener labelled in big red letters “SMOF-B-GON". (Ten points to the fan who knows what “SMOF" stands for. Or is that too easy? Answer at the end of the post.*) He never used it once on the trip out, altho a week later on the way back to Minnesota with all of us hellishly hungover and close to catatonic, he would periodically spray it in the driver’s ear to jolt him or her awake.

Our fearless leader, the guy who’d organized our little convoy, had reserved a room at the Copley Plaza Hotel, which was not the main con hotel, but conveniently located about two blocks away. He said the room would be plenty big for all 13 of us, which gave me some vague twinges of anxiety, until it turned out that the “room" was actually the Benjamin Franklin Suite, muy swanky indeed, with a bedroom, separate living room, kitchenette and bath. There really was plenty of space for all of us and all of our sleepingbags, if we had ever all been there at the same time. As it was, we spent very little time in the BF Suite. Most of every day and every night we were roaming the halls of the main con hotel, going from track to track; from panel to party; from restaurant to dealer room; crashing in the corner at some party, or in one of the movies shown in the big auditorium between midnight and dawn.




TO BE CONTINUED

In the next installment: After two nights we get kicked out of the Copley Plaza. Also, a discussion of the definition of the word blog. What is it? An online journal, or a party beverage?

* SMOF = Secret Master Of Fandom. A boor; a conversation-monopolizing creep; an obnoxious individual ; the self-appointed repository of all knowledge concerning everything fannish since the dawn of time; to be avoided at all costs.


This post may also be read here.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Go Ahead, Be Creative

I've started a group novel here, where contributors can add to the story via the comments area. If you feel like being creative, come on over.  

A shocking fact!

I was watching T.V. yesterday when a Commercial came on and said 1 out of 3 people in the U.S. has HIV and doesn't even know it! That Shocked me. I know I go every year or so and get tested. I don't do anything now that would warrant me to worry but like every other person in there teen years I had my fair share of unprotected sex. Well not every person I'm sure but most teens nowadays does have unprotected sex. Its a Startling fact, I'm sure my mom wouldn't have guessed in a million years I would do such things because I was always well behaved and my mother didn't have to tell me something twice. Sad fact though, my parents never did come to me and had the "bird and bees talk". Although, even if they did I don't think it would have stopped me from being sexually active. But I think its very important for people to find out there HIV status, even if they don't suspect any of there partners may have it or not. You can't be too careful nowadays.
 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

In the balance

It hit me thirty years ago as a newly single mom. And it seems like it’s a challenge that each new generation of women faces all over again – how to take care of yourself first so that you have the energy and will to care for others.
 
It sure is a dilemma, and that’s why lots of us went into therapy 30 years ago; that’s why we formed consciousness raising groups to help us figure out how to survive in a world that expected much too much of us at the expense of our own hopes and dreams.
 
Adding pressure to that struggle for women of this generation is all of the ongoing fear of “codependency.”  Heaven forbid that we should worry about anyone else but ourselves! 
 
I'm remembering a little story that was part of Marlo Thomas'  “Free to Be You and Me” recording back in the 70s.  It was about a little girl who always insisted “Me first!  Me first!”   Now it’s “Self first!  Self first!”
 
I'm all for taking care of myself.  I read, I blog, I knit. I go out with my friends, I get my hair done. I give myself pedicures and long showers. I watch the tv programs I like and take long walks in the park. And I take on free-lance writing jobs.  But I also take care of my mom, help out my kids, drive my 91-year old neighbor grocery shopping, and try to be there for my friends when they’re having a hard time.  I don’t hesitate to give my opinion, but I also support them in their choices.  See, all that money and time I spent on therapy actually paid off!
 
It’s not always Self First.  It’s a constant balancing act.  Otherwise, you’re liable to wind up like the woman in this little satiric story who takes the Self First approach to an extreme
 
I’ve been thinking about my experiences with my married/committed women friends over the past thirty years, and I see a pattern that reflects why some women are still being pulled off-balance – and it usually has to do with the expectations of the male partner that he doesn’t have to share household and child-rearing responsibilities.  These women are comfortable with and enjoy caring for others.  What they don’t want is total and automatic responsibility for taking care of everyone around them.  That’s probably why I’m still unremarried.
 
It’s true that first you have to learn to take care of yourself.  But you do that, I think, so that you are then free and able  to extend that caring to others, to live by the Golden Rule.
 
Balance.    Balance.     Balance.    Balance.

 It’s what it means to be human.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ode To John Edwards (The Trial Lawyers Song)

I've figured out why Republicans refused to condemn Dick Cheney's four-letter word Senate outburst. It's because Republicans view Democrats as so evil, that anything goes. Especially those Democrats who are liberal and/or trial lawyers, both of which condemnations must be said with curled lip and a disapproving hiss.

Note, however, that trial lawyers are perfectly fine and upstanding individuals, if they happen to be Republicans seeking a Senate seat, like Mel Martinez. Which brings me to my latest song parody, "Ode To John Edwards" a/k/a "The Trial Lawyers Song." I hope you enjoy singing it to "Moon River," by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, using this midi link.

Ode To John Edwards (The Trial Lawyers Song)
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Trial lawyers
Go that extra mile,
To see that all those vile
Guys pay.

They're risk takers
And rain makers.
They're able and knowing.
Wrongdoers they slay.

Corp grifters
Ripping off the poor.

The rest of my
Ode To John Edwards is here.

Take This Survey, Damnit

Some students at UCI are conducting a blogger/ blogging/ blog reader poll. Take a few moments now to take the survey so that we don't have to hear the whole "women don't do political blogs" / "women don't read political blogs" thingie ever again.

Via Feministe.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

U.S. Senate- Where Dinosaurs go to die.
Observations on the Debates about Gay Marriage

I've been watching today's Senate proceedings today and found myself very mindful of how this episode will play out in the history of our country. I Know now, definitively, how the activists in the Abolitionist Movement must have felt as the proponents of slavery roared and blustered in trying to justify their crimes against humanity. Like a dinosaur flailing as it sinks finally into the bog, Rick Santorum and his cohorts have made monkeys of us all today.

Marriage is a loving commitment between people who choose to build a life together. Whether they raise children or not has no bearing on the definition. We do not prevent barren individuals from marrying. We do not penalize those who choose not to procreate. Marriage is a bond of love, period.

Santorum brought charts and graphs and wailed about how "children need a mother and a father". His examples and descriptions of male and female roles were so old, so outmoded as to take on the appearance of satire. If only I could find this funny. The caveman scenario of "Me hunter, you gatherer" is not even born out in sociology, psychology or archaeology, but somehow I suspect he isn't up on the current research. He cannot see beyond his narrow vision of the "proper" roles in society for men and women. I agree that marriage is important, and that children are better off in loving stable homes with a loving parental relationship. I just don't happen to agree that the parents must be a male and a female. Children with two happy parents thrive, without regard to gender. Parenting is a skill, not an innate gift enhanced or limited by the presence of ovaries or testicles. You don't need one set of each to form a commitment. Wake up Senator- times have changed. As Ann Richards recently told Larry King "We need more loving families, not less." If a homosexual couples' marital bliss threatens your own union, that union must not have been so strong to begin with. The love of one couple does not diminish another. Frank Lautenberg (D- NJ) said it best - this is just gay bashing, and political posturing.

I'm also tired of hearing about the "5,000 year tradition of marriage". What you call tradition, I call 5.000 years of an unnatural social order, imposed by violence and maintained with draconian laws that have "traditionally" relegated women and children to the status of chattels. The same patriarchal, Old Testament laws these Christian Supremacists are so fond of are the source of the world's misery, women's poverty, children's undoing. Our American Taliban wants to keep women in America barefoot and pregnant with no control of their sexual destiny. This same Senate was informed this week that the slave trade is alive and well in America. Tens of thousands of human beings, mostly women and children, all poor, all desperate, are being smuggled into this country and sold on the blackest market ever conceived. They'd like you to believe that these subjects are unrelated, and will wail and moan at the implication that their cannon is of less than divine origin. Don't you believe it.

The same Old Testament that advocated violent imposition of strict laws of chastity and marriage also advocated slavery, the selling of daughters, the stoning of sinners, all calculated to achieve one goal : a patrilineal system of inheritance that would give men exclusive control of land and wealth. Mission accomplished. Now this body of old white men are in a panic because the old order - the one we as women never agreed to, the one that has and is enslaving us, keeping us in poverty, preventing us from having a voice or an equal chance to thrive today, or even the most basic rights to control our own bodies.- that order is over. We aren't going to be bound by ancient and avaricious doctrine anymore.

We are blessed to be born in a country where we are all considered equal. We claim our right to love as we choose, to live as we choose, to raise our children, to love our partners with Liberty and Justice for ALL. The Constitution was designed to protect us all equally, with a specific eye toward protecting the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. The courts have always been the vanguard of social change when the majority dragged its heels and clung desperately to the status quo. The LGBT community is a minority whose time has come. To those who would stand in the way of America's social evolution - shame on you. As we walk into the 21st century, let us do so together, with love and hope for every American family of every stripe.

Now where the hell is Osama Bin Laden?


A recent study by the NEA shows that Americans are reading less literature. My intuition is that bloggers and blog readers are more likely than the general population to be consumers of literature (although my assumption is not based on any empirical data).

You'll find my current reading list at my blog on the righthand sidebar, listed under "Gutenberg Ten." What's on your current reading list? Do you tend to read literature or non-fiction?

Via XX.

This post may also be found here.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Tom Mauser's Petition to Renew the Assault Weapons Ban

Tom Mauser's Petition to Renew the Assault Weapons Ban
This man's son was Killed at Columbine High School. He's asking us to sign his petition to keep AK-47's off the streets.

Please sign. You don't need assault weapons to hunt deer.

Listen to the Wise Woman

If you don't read Molly Ivins, you should. If you don't ever read another column of hers, read:

To the ladies in the room
Warning: Frank Luntz arms Bush with 'framing' devices to court the womens' vote -- Bush's anti-woman record be damned
.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Thirty Years Later

Several posts below, Blog Sister Brooke Biggs asks for input -- 200 words or less. Well, I couldn't do it in even twice that many. But here it is, anyway:

It was 1975 and the first Stepford Wives movie had just come out, Ms Magazine was three years old, the book Fascinating Womanhood was getting big play, and the Vietnam War had just ended. I was a vocal feminist, a disgruntled housewife, a struggling mother, a war-protestor, and I thought that Gloria Steinham should rule the world.

Along with thousands of other women, I marched and argued for women’s rights – to choose, to earn salaries equal to men for equal jobs, to be treated with respect and collegiality, to share family chores with our spouses so that we could also pursue our career dreams. We were the ones who read Ms Magazine and stopped wearing bras. Some of us even burned them. We gathered together in what became known as "consciousness raising groups" as a way to explore ways to help ourselves and each other.

We couldn't understand why so many of our "sisters" were against our vision, our values. But plenty were. Not exactly Stepford Wives, but almost.

It's just about thirty years later. A new version of the Stepford Wives is out, with the villain, this time, a woman. Women against women.

Women are still trying to get equal pay for equal work, still fighting for the right to choose. Code Pink is out there marching and arguing and exploring ways to help ourselves and each other. But there’s also the strong media-enforced "Fascinating Womanhood" message of The Swan and all the women who watch and wanna be. Because that’s what they’re told men want. And the message we keep getting is that we can’t have a man and our true selves at the same time. It's an old message. It hasn't changed in generations.

What we still have not done right yet is convince enough women to turn away from buying into the values that historically have enabled male leaders to get and hold power. There are still too many women against women. What we have not done right yet is convince enough men that there are other and better ways to govern and relate and succeed. There are still too many men happy with their Stepford Wives. Too many women afraid to step off the pedestal, no matter how damaged and precarious they know it is. They are the ones who vote conservative.

I think we need to find a really good public relations firm to market our cause. Maybe we need to co-opt the tool of our successful antagonists and use it against them. And maybe we need a whole lot more Gloria Steinhem types.

Finally, some great Steinhem one-liners that, sadly enough, are still true thirty years later:

I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.
• We've begun to raise daughters more like sons... but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.
• Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry.
• Most women are one man away from welfare.
• A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.
• I don't breed well in captivity.
• A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.
• If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?
• The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.
• Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.


Certainly the last is true of me.

(cross posted on kalilily.net)

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Take Action: Tell your Senators to Oppose the Discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment

Take Action: Tell your Senators to Oppose the Discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment

Also please visit my blog to read about why the religious movement behind the FMA is not to be taken lightly.

Who Will Benefit From the Federal Marriage Amendment?

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) this week, possibly as early Monday, July 12.

This constitutional amendment would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. In doing so, however, the FMA would also be writing discrimination into the Constitution, and would undermine the right to privacy our Constitution so wisely protects.

Who benefits from discrimination? Perhaps, in the short term, Bush and the ultra-conservatives who are driving this amendment would gain some political momentum. But at what cost? Most Americans value their own privacy more than just about anything, and for good reason. Most Americans would prefer to protect the Constitution than to use it to legislate morality. Less privacy and more discrimination? None of us will really benefit from that.

To read the proposed amendment, click here.

Many groups are working on campaigns to make it easy for Americans to make their feelings about this proposed amendment known to their representatives. Check out some of these if you are interested in joining them:

American Civil Liberties Union

Flags Across America

Human Rights Campaign



cross-posted @ Distracted

Friday, July 09, 2004

And the Band Played On ...

We're through the looking glass here, people. Instead of leading over-sugar'd, bratty kids through the faux boulevards of an Orlando theme park, some musicians are going to be doing this, this summer:

Washington, DC, Jul. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is keeping the bands playing, with 15 musicians among 5,600 former soldiers being tapped this week for a year's military duty.

The Army said Thursday it is calling up four clarinetists, three saxophonists, two cornet or trumpeters, two French horn players, a euphonium player, an electric bass player and a percussionist for service in the Individual Ready Reserve.

"The bands are being stressed quite a bit," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday. "They do an awful lot of burial services" especially for World War II veterans, he explained.

Cody suggested the musicians may not be sent to Iraq but could be tapped for duty in the United States.


Via The Daily Show and also posted here.

Motherhood On The Bargaining Table

Recently, I stumbled across a timely article in The Guardian that tackles and explodes the assumption that having children is a) a natural step/stage in life and b) one of the pre-requisites for having a whole and happy life.

Apparently, the link between children and happiness is one of the unspoken cultural myths of our time:

A major new survey last week into parents' attitudes towards their offspring came to a rather awkward conclusion: it showed that, far from children being little bundles of joy, having them does not necessarily bring happiness.

Instead, according to the 1,500 Britons aged between 20 and 40 who were questioned, adults are finding the courage to admit that parenthood is not all it is cracked up to be.

About one third of women and 5 per cent of the men questioned in the Lever Fabergé Family Report 2003 admitted that having children has not made them any happier.

A steady flow of surveys in the past few years has shown that, torn between quality of life and success in the workplace, adults are delaying parenthood, sometimes forgoing it altogether. But what has remained taboo, however, is the admission by those who do start a family that children are not a constant source of unadulterated delight.

The link between children and happiness has, as a result, remained relatively unexplored. It is only now that we are getting whispers of the often equivocal relationship parents have with their children.

Parents are becoming increasingly able to admit that children can erode as well as increase their quality of life, despite all attempts to prepare for their impact by stockpiling wealth and precision-planning their careers.


I had always thought that my mother's insistence that a life without kids would be an empty life--in response to the declaration of my intent re not to have kids--was a bit off-kilter (and I still do). I mean, despite the fact that my sister and I were the ultimate sprogs from Hell while we were growing up, she still advocates having kids.

Well, right now--i.e. after we've all left home--she does.

At this stage of her life, she wouldn't admit that she wanted to kill us many times over. And she nearly did kill us many times over with all those increasingly violent whipping-with-a-cane sessions she gave us over many a transgression. Imagined or otherwise. This was usually followed by threats to walk out on us (which she never did) and groundings ("No pocket money for six weeks!!") to putting us in "cold storage" (aka, not talking to us and ignoring us) to shutting us out of the house to sleep outside for the night because we failed our exams.

Then there's all the verbal invective that she would never own up to now. All the name-calling ("You are a stupid fat pig with a bird brain!" was one favourite when I was an obese teenager whom she couldn't get to go to the gym regularly to lose weight) and guilt trips ("How can you do this to me when, not only were you two weeks overdue and had to be induced but I also had to endure having my pelvic bone cracked while giving birth to you???!!!").

My mother, as you can see, is not the most patient of mothers. She was, I think, a disappointed mother in a world where mothers compete to have the most accomplished children. I mean, when you have one overachieving but obese and ill-tempered daughter (me) and one kleptomaniac, underachieving tomboy daughter (my sister) while your friends--and sisters--have slim and pretty daughters who play the piano perfectly, score straight A's, do not fight with their siblings and automatically do the housework, it must be a terribly difficult pill to swallow.

She was an unhappy I-Could've-Been-A-Contender middle-class mother. Machiavellian to the point of brutality, she managed to produce one Rhodes scholar out of her three children but still, I hear the disappointment in her voice when she talks about the other two who haven't done so well (in comparison, of course, to friends' kids who are all doing well as professionals.

It's enough to give anyone a complex. In fact, it has given my siblings and I more than our fair share of it. So much so that sometimes, I wish I could've had the privilege and opportunity to ask her (and my dad, early on):

Calvin and Parenthood.JPG

But now, it's like she's suddenly developed a state of selective amnesia that softens and tints memories with a faint rosy hue. I think it's something to do with wanting grandkids now that my aunts--her sisters and my father's sisters--are already starting to have grandkids.

Like I said: Keeping up with the Joneses is a big thing for my mother. Though, to be fair, this competitive parenting mentality is part of the culture I come from.

My father is more equivocal about it all. He loves kids but he also admits that if my siblings and I hadn't come along, he and my mother would have been able to carry on living the high life: new car every year, designer togs, annual renovations and redecoration of the house etc etc.

Children, he tells me, are expensive and not necessarily worth the hassle.

I'm sure he loves me. My mother says that I'm his little princess. But I also appreciate his being candid about his equivocal attitude towards having kids. The way he puts it, it's a trade-off and one he's made willingly and with his eyes wide open. And he'd rather bring up a highly educated, independent daughter who doesn't want kids than one who goes straight into marriage after high school/college and becomes a baby-making machine.

Well, I guess he's got his wish.

My mom got her wish too: she wanted me to have an independent life with a flourishing career above all else and before I settled down with somebody at some point. Though with her occasional lecture about why I should accept that having kids (eventually) is a great thing smacks of a peculiar maternal schizophrenia. Ironically, having one of her wishes fulfilled re my progress in life has just about cancelled out her other wish.

What's weird is that all my friends--especially the men--tell me that I'll make a great mom simply because they've seen what they call my "mothering instinct" in action: taking care of my singing group members by making sure they have dinner and a good night's sleep before performances; nagging my (ex) boyfriends to eat their dinner, tidy their rooms and take showers; baby-talking the cat; talking to friends who have kids while dandling the babies on my lap with ease; being at ease around little kids; babysitting for cash etc.

So I like kids. I fully admit that.

But I would also like, at the end of the day, to be able to give the kids back to their parents, thank you very much.

And I do not appreciate the Young-Parents-With-Babies Brigade who lord over the sidewalk and bus spaces with their pushchairs like they and only they have the right of way and you, as a single person/non-parenting figure, should make way for them. Apparently, membership to this brigade includes the right to be as rude as need be to secure your--and your baby's--rightful claim to the entire sidewalk or the entire row of four seats.

All the hail the young chic parents with Baby Gap-wearing sprogs!

This irritating smug self-entitlement attitude of parents on this side of the world, combined by the Competitive Parenting Syndrome I bore the brunt of while growing up on the other side of the world, just combines to tell me to not have kids because having kids seems to bring out the worst in people instead of, as popular belief would have it, tapping into the best in our natures.

Having kids seems to draw out our tendencies towards tyranny ("children should be seen, not heard"), bad manners to others (see above re the Young-Parents-With-Babies Brigade) and cruelty (mental and/or physical depending on what sort of punishment your parents tend towards).

Of course, there are those, like my Second Aunt and her husband, who do have the oodles of patience; a genuine fondness for kids; a clear idea that discipline is meant to educate and not terrify; and the realisation that children can think for themselves. I'm not saying that they are perfect, but they did know how to raise their kids--and their nieces and nephews whom they looked after for about 3 months of the year during school holidays--without giving them a complex or hang ups.

I was--and still am--lucky to have my mother's parenting histrionics balanced out by my Second Aunt's sensible approach. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

In some ways, I think that my decision not to have kids (at least, for the foreseeable future) has, childhood experiences and growing pains aside, also been affected by the way parenthood is treated over here in the West.

In eastern cultures such as the one I come from, children--especially sons--are much treasured although child-rearing methods, as evident in my mother's mothering style, can be brutal. Children are taken as a matter-of-fact in both public and private life. In fact, my ease with children and with socialising at family-based events that include children (which terrifies or bores so many of my peers), can be said to be a result of such a family-based culture.

Sure, people make a big deal out of how many grandchildren--especially grandsons--they have and young parents do show off their state of parenthood, but there is rarely any excuse for being rude and getting your way just because you're a parent with a stroller stocked with babies. Maybe it's because people do automatically give way to parents with kids with ease. It's a part of the culture to the point where it is natural to do so. Everyone does it out of habit. And it is also part of a culture where "saving face" and "giving face" is all and thus manners and ritual can rule with an almost iron grip although etiquette is much relaxed now.

Over there in the West, however, children seem to be a status symbol in a different way because less and less people are choosing to have kids or rather, if people do have kids, they have less of them. It's almost as if just having a kid entitles you to swanning around in front of everyone else in your age group who doesn't have kids. Even more insufferable are those who are married and have kids. It's like you've made the Valedictorian grade-level in the School of Life and so are entitled to being the Queen Bee of your social group just because you've demonstrated that a) you can get a man and b) your ovaries are functioning.

Of course, this has the knock-on effect on the kids growing up here in the Western hemisphere. With parents setting such a bad example re manners as well as the laws against smacking or any reasonable disciplinary action* in legislation, so many kids here are growing up to be, as one man who is of my parents' generation said, "little monsters".

I mean, on one hand, I have the eternal dread of messing up someone else's life with my own failings (inevitable when you have kids since you are the person whom they learn from) and on the other hand, if I did have kids, I don't think I am currently living in a culture that is conducive to bringing up well-adjusted and useful members of society.

What right do I have to bring another life into this world and then mess it up for them from the get go with either too much expectation or too little discipline?

This is compounded by having a mother who always urged me to have my own career and life and not to waste my twenties because she always felt trapped as a young mother and homemaker and took out her frustration on me throughout my growing-up years and now witnessing the shitty behaviour of young parents.

Moreover, after taking into account the amount of money my parents spent on giving me what they call "a proper upbringing" which includes:

1. Eating well (i.e. nutritious food)
2. Dressing well
3. Going for nice holidays
4. Having all sorts of lessons including piano lessons, ballet lessons, gym memberships, painting lessons, swimming lessons, singing lessons, extra tuition lessons for my weaker academic subjects
5. Putting away enough money in an education trust fund so that I could go to university and come out without student debt.
6. Paying for medical bills
7. Any other incidental expenses

Well, I don't even know if I can afford to have kids even when I am more than halfway up the career ladder.

So the rising cost of living--even getting on the property ladder is almost impossible--and the fact that one needs to put more energy than ever into growing one's career, also puts in a mean argument for me permanently joining the ranks of the childless. As the article in The Guardian further elaborates:

When faced with the reality of sacrificing a hard-earned lifestyle, women without children in their thirties are revealing an ever more cautious attitude to motherhood.

One third of women in their twenties without children now admit fearing the impact that a child will have on their career, a fear that appears well founded when compared with the complaints of women who did choose to have children in their twenties, 25 per cent of whom cite missing out on their career or putting their working life on hold as a major regret.

But while such fears and complaints might once have been dismissed by their elders as the uninformed whim of those too young to know better, a growing list of studies shows that the older they become, the more today's young women question whether children are really worth having.

'I began stockpiling my income in my twenties so that having children in my thirties wouldn't make such a dent in my income,' said Marie Matt, a 33-year-old PR manager. 'But now I'm in my thirties, I realise I would have to make far bigger lifestyle sacrifices than when I was younger and less successful,' she added. 'I'm just not sure I'm prepared to do that yet.'


My sentiments exactly.

My mother would pooh-pooh the article. She always said that young couples have always coped with bringing up kids on less money than is ideal but then, she married my dad who was able to maintain the family on a comfortable middle-class lifestyle where we could have whatever we wanted or needed within reason.

And to be honest, I'd rather be called "selfish" and stay happy and solvent with enough energy left over to work with my favourite issues and causes and to spend time helping my friends, than to become a genuinely bitter person while wrecking someone else's life, all for the sake of having a picture-postcard "normal" life.

To me, that is the most selfish thing you could do.

If I do eventually have kids, I want to be able to look back on my life and say: "I did everything I wanted to accomplish in my life and more." and that I will have no regrets going on to the next stage in life. I want to have become comfortable in my own skin, confident in her own abilities and sure of who she is.

So all those who subscribe to the myth that parenthood (and/or marriage) guarantees happiness can go stuff it.

* I'm not saying that beating your kids is a good thing. Heaven knows how many times I've cursed and resented my parents after they've beaten me black and blue. But a well-timed and strategic smacking has hurt nobody, especially when you've told the kid why they shouldn't do something umpteen times and they just go ahead and do it anyway. Kids need boundaries and... God I am really starting to sound like my dad...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

How to Stop the Next War Now

I'm working on a book for CodePink about how to keep the momentum of the peace movement going, despite some major losses in the last two years. We've mobilized millions worldwide, but we still didn't stop the war. What did we do wrong? what could we do better next time? What is the unique role of women? Environmentalists? Direct-action? I'm soliciting personal thoughts and stories from women all over, and this includes you, BlogWomen. Keep it under 200 words and we could include it in the book.

Go over to my site to submit (easier for me to keep track) here.

Bush Birthday Haiku

With all the Kerry VEEP pick hoopla, Dubya's birthday was overlooked by many. But not by the DCCC and thousands of poetic Dubya fans.

Stepford Anybody?

I haven't seen the new remake of the Stepford Wives yet. I want to; I've been "saving" it to see with a friend of mine. I did see the original, long ago.

I've been a feminist probably as long as I've been a female. I've never questioned the idea that I have the right (not mere privilege) to have my own career, my own opinions, my own life. I married a man who agrees with me, and in fact, is almost more driven than I am in pursuing my career. I believe that my children, when I am ready to have them, will be enriched and strengthened by my independence and strength. If, for some reason of fate and destiny, I am unable to have my own biological children because I have waited a little longer than some women then I will adopt-- or go without. It probably goes without saying that I don't believe we have a biological imperative to reproduce-- I want children, very much, but am NOT willing to sacrifice my own life and my own happiness to have them.

"So what's your point?" you may be asking. "This is all obvious, and we figured this stuff out a long time ago about you."

About a week ago, one of my "relatives by marriage"-- a young man, not the typical old guy who pesters me every time I see him-- lectured me on the problem with "you career women." This lecture came suddenly, in the middle of another conversation, and I really had a hard time with the rudeness and ridiculousness of finding myself having the discussion. At first I thought he was joking; when I realized he was serious, I felt sick to my stomach.

Why he felt, based on a casual family relationship with me, that he had the right to lecture me when my husband and I have BOTH made the choices we made is infuriating. (I have had maybe one other serious conversation with the guy in the years I've known him so it's not like this was something that had precedent).

I did want to tell him to get stuffed, but for family peace, held my tongue. But he felt that it was perfectly alright to butt into my personal business and literally lecture me. He eventually said "Oh, it's just my opinion" but also said things like "That's the trouble with YOU". This was not a rhetorical discussion, and I did not invite his opinions, nor did I feel comfortable debating it with him.

Can you believe that there are still people who believe that merely because of their maleness they have a right to tell others what is right for their lives? And without any knowledge of my situation would feel justified in lecturing me? It makes the Stepford Wives feel much less like a science fiction speculation and much MUCH more scary.

originally published at Kim Procrastinates


*an interesting editorial about this is available at Women's E-News

Embracing the 'Rainmaker'

The power to name is the power to define. That is, words are not neutrally descriptive, but they communicate meanings and values. Whether someone is a terrorist or a freedom fighter depends on who's talking and who has the authority to legitimize and institutionalize the term.

In response to Kerry naming Edwards as his presidential running mate, the RNC posted this statement, post-haste, on their website: "WHO IS JOHN EDWARDS? A Disingenuous, Unaccomplished Liberal And Friend To Personal Injury Trial Lawyers." That's a mouthful, isn't it? It could be 'fisk'd" on a whole lot of different levels, but let's focus on the "Friend to Personal Injury Trial Lawyers" bit.

It's true. People, by and large, hate lawyers. Until they need one. And the "folks" love that Erin Brockovich shit.

In an age of Enron scandals and gargantuan Wal-mart class action suits, as well as a distrust of Dick Cheney's relationship with Halliburton, will this tactic earn the Reps more votes? Is it designed to raise more cash from corporate donors? Energize the base?

Who is the target audience of that message?

This post may also be found here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Zoe Trope

Who is Zoe Trope? She's like friends with Dave Eggers and Jonathan Safran Foer.

My Uterus, Myself.

I haven't smoked in five days. I am quitting. Really trying to. I'm going insane. I'm on hormones. No nicotine, a sweet child (whom I see as a ball of knotted hair and razors for a voice right now) on summer break, estrogen, and bloody bleeding.

Maybe I should go back a week or so.

Or a lifetime or so.

I've had fibroid trouble since puberty. I almsot died after having Jenna via c-section when I had to return for emergency surgery 8 weeks later due to the massive degeneration of my fibroids and hemmoraging. 6 hour surgery. Transfusion. 10 days in the hospital.

So, I'm still a little traumatized seven years later.

The bleeding has been back in full force the last couple of months. This month was so bad I'll spare you the details. The doctor is trying the pill again, along with some other tricks, but the trick is I'm 42, and I cannot, absolutely not, smoke on the pill. My last obgyn wouldn't even try the pill until I had quit for three months. This time, we didn't have that kind of time. So I quit five days ago when I started the hormones.

So, I've abandoned nicotine and started this hormone thing all in five days time. My head is spinning. My house is spinning. I walk around a lot. In a daze. Anything not to smoke. I really do have to quit. For more reasons than this.

I'm heading toward surgery--sooner or later (I'm hoping later)--since I'm getting more anemic from all of this bleeding. I went through hell to keep my uterus, but I'm beginning to accept that maybe it's time. Getting close to time.

But shit. Why am I so tied up with what my reproductive organs mean to me as a woman. I wept at the doctor's yesterday, and the sweet blood-taking lady aske what I was most afraid of. I said, surgery. And besides that, if hysterectomy becomes the ultimate answer, I feel like I will lose my womanhood, my woman-ness, my motherness, my tie to my child, the tug I feel RIGHT there when she's hurting or happy, I feel like I'll lose all of that.

And I know that's silly, but I know I'm hormonal, and I feel like a mess, and that's what it's like sometimes being a woman in your 40s.

sigh.

God, I want a cigarette.

Monday, July 05, 2004

A Glorious Fourth

Kim Ode, one of the Minneapolis Strib's op-ed columnists, asks what flying the flag means to us. Turns out that the act of flying the American flag is these days interpreted by many as signifying the flag-flier's support of the war in Iraq and of the Bush administration. What th'...? Of that particular spin I had never heard, but it doesn't surprise me one bit. Read the Kim Ode column, including many responses to the question of Why Do You Fly The Flag?

Link

Know what? Gonna fly the flag anyway. Dumbya and his cretinous gangsters don't own the American flag. I do. And you do. We all do.

Also today, symbolically thumbing my nose at that #ucking nitwit, I made a flag cake, or flag pudding, or flag ...layered dessert ...thingy. OK, so I just checked, and I guess its official name is Wave Your Flag Cheesecake. Yeah, it calls for a tub o Cool Whip topping. And for lots of red Jello. Deal with it, my all-natural purist pals -- the picture just looked too damn good. This recipe called out to me; nay, more than called out, it verily demanded to be made! I salute you, Red Jello Cool Whip Layered Dessert Flag Thingy!

In other news concerning the food we ate today: Slaves to consumerism that we are, we partially recreated Slate's hot dog taste test. As there is no way I would touch one of the tofu franken-franks the Slate testers had to endure, the only two brands we used were our current fave rave, Hebrew National Beef Franks, which came in second in Slate's test, and the Slate winner, Nathan's Skinless Beef Franks. The results: Couldn't choose one over the other. Both are juicy-greasy -- but in a good way!-- with great mouth-feel, and just the right amount of garlicky, spicy, salty flavor. Yum. Best. Hotdogs. Ever.

So, in the evening the boys biked down to the local celebration at Round Lake and hung out with their respective peeps, mostly at the Democratic Party booth. The hub and I stayed home and offered comfort and protection to Bandit, our 80#, 11-year old, dynamic and heroic dog who is afraid of only one thing in this world, and that one thing is fireworks. Poor pup; he was trembling so violently that petting him was like putting your hands on a vibrating Happy Fingers massage mattress (you know, those coin-fed conveniences in cheap motel rooms of yore.)

After the kids returned home at about 11pm, we ate the fabulous flag cake/dessert/thingy, and it was indeed fabulous. Then we all watched THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, and I had the great enjoyment and satisfaction of seeing my kids discover for themselves one of my alltime favorite films. They were just blown away by it. Talk about the perfect movie to watch on July 4, 2004!! .. No wonder the remake is going to be opening in theaters in a couple weeks. Just in time for the national conventions!

I hear the remake shifts the locale and time to the first Gulf War. Hmmm.... actually I don't know how they're going to get by with calling it the Manchurian Candidate this time. From the locale shift, I'm surmising that they might want to call it the ...uhhh .......How about the SaddamHusseinian Candidate? the BinLadenian Candidate? Whatever; the word "Manchurian" would seem to make the whole thing a bit dicey 42 years after the original was made. Wonder how much the remakers will adhere to Richard Condon's novel? We'll see how they handle those pesky little details. Casting sounds pretty darn good to me, with Denzel taking the Sinatra part, Liev Schreiber playing Raymond, and Meryl Streep playing Raymond's mom. Yikes!! You just know La Streep is gonna rip up the screen, but even she will have a hard time topping Angela Lansbury's performance. Definitely the mother of all monster-mothers, that part.

Hope everyone's had a happy and glorious Fourth. Remember: we are not playing a game of Capture the Flag, folks. Don't let Bush/Cheney and the rest of that gang of jackbooted thugs hijack the Stars and Stripes. FLY THE FLAG.



Cross-posted at Tild~

Sunday, July 04, 2004

One Girl's Take on Fahrenheit 9/11 (spoiler)

I put this on my blog for my readers, but I thought the masses might find it interesting:

Last night, I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 at the AFI with the FABULOUS ladies of Code Pink DC. Afterwards, we discussed politics over Ethiopian platters at Addis Abbaba.

About the flick: The footage of Dubya putting his foot in his mouth was hysterical. Moore conducted a solid investigation of the issues--enough for the average American to learn something and form an opinion. The film could've probed deeper in spots, but we would've been in the theater all night. (Ya'll remember Malcolm X.) Moore did an excellent job of connecting the dots for those folks who don't notice how news stories get buried, or those who believe that there's no relationship whatsoever between a string of suspicious events.

My boy Keso said it best: "It's crazy how they buried the (Abu Ghraib) prison scandal with Reagan's death. How'd they do that? He's probably been dead for, like, two years." Well, that's a little insensitive to Nancy, but I get his point. The timing was a tad sketchy, and the outcry over the prison abuse was all but silenced by the Reagan PR machine. Heck, they almost made me cry for the man and I grew up knowing that he didn't give a crap about little Black me on the West side of Detroit. And, now for my own insensitive comment: I never fully believed that he had Alzheimer's. I wasn't really old enough to grasp the situation in the 80s, but it always sounded like a fabrication to me, to stay consistent with his "I can't recall" Iran Contra defense. Some things just sound fishy to me as soon as Tom Brokaw utters them. I guess I was a born conspiracy theorist.

Anyhoo, Moore revisits the 2000 election debacle, which is a sore spot for many people, and a REALLY sore spot for Black people. *Deep breath* I often ask myself the same thing Moore asks: "Did the last four years really happen?"

Coalition of the Willing: "Japan's Sending Playstations"
It's funny how concisely accurate Dave Chappelle's Black Bush was. He said in 4 minutes what took Moore 116. Mars, Bitches.

My favorite part of Farenheit? ( Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Ifoolmuh can't get fooled again." Guess which fool said that.
(Via give love:get love)

What to Do:
1. Go see the movie

2. Take friends

3. Host a discussion about it (and about politics in general)

4. Register to vote

5. Make sure everyone you know is registered to vote

6. PAY ATTENTION TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES, not just the presidential one. Remember those Senators (all of them) who sat there with blank stares while the Reps pleaded for just one of them to lend a signature, so they could bring their objections of the 2000 presidential election results to the floor. Get educated about your Congresspeople.

6a. FYI, Maryland's Democratic incumbent, Senator Barbara Mikulski, is being challenged by a Republican. There's no Senate race in Virginia this go 'round. And DC, well, what can I say? No taxation...you know the rest. If you vote absentee in your home state, you can go here to see if your Senators are up for reelection and where they stand on the issues.

6b. There are no Black Senators. You knew that, right? Zero. Zilch. None. No Latinos either. This year, there's a Black Democrat (Obama) challenging the Republican incumbent in Illinois, and there's a Black Republican (Cain), yes, a Black Republican, vying with a bunch of other folks for the retiring Senator's seat in Georgia.

6c. In other Peachtree news, former Rep. and 9/11 whistleblower Cynthia McKinney, who was ousted by Republican-turned-Democrat Denise Majette (also a Black woman)in the 2002 Democratic primary, is trying to win her House seat back. Remember when all those Republican voters in Georgia (43,000 of them)crossed over to vote Democrat, just to get McKinney out? Interestingly enough, Denise Majette quit the House to run as a long-shot for the Georgia Senate. It's just like The Young & the Restless, ain't it?

7. Give money to somebody that you support, if you can.

8. Check out Democracy for America (formerly Dean for America,) Redefeat Bush, Billionaires for Bush (Check out their CD, especially the song "Voting Machine," which I'm gonna put on a mixtape), Move On and of course, Too Stupid to be President.com.

9. If you've got more activist groups or funny Bush links, send 'em to me. Post them on your sites, too.

10. Walk, carpool, bike, or take the train when possible. Support organizations that support alternative energy sources. And stop buying Escalades to drive down East Jefferson (Detroit), 7 Mile, U Street, Flatbush, Peachtree, the Plat, the 'Shaw, etc. You are NOT on rough terrain. Every gasoline fill-up supports this farce of a war.

Celeste