Friday, March 28, 2008

not what I called them

When I was a child, I called them "teens". As a teen, I called them "yuppies". As an adult, I refer to them as "Disco kids" or more properly, "the disco kid generation". This is the set of people who came of age in the days of disco, from the mid-seventies (by the time it was properly the seventies and not left overs from the 60s) to the early eighties. They sometimes call themselves babyboomers, and if they were raised in some rurality, odds are they are more properly babyboomerific. But on the whole, there was always something about them which was not quite babyboomer and not quite the same as my generation.

Truly - and I say this after years of experience with this age group and recognizing there are people of that age group who do NOT fit that type - I don't like many of the characteristic traits of this age group. Listing them would be exhausting so I'll try for a summary statement. They are ungodly self-centered. At least the babyboomers had something to be self-centered about. They did try. They made changes. They raised consciousness. Sure, they sometimes can get gloaty or possibly worse, maudlin and bitter, but they came of age at a time when even just acting contrary was having a point. The disco kids? Nah. They tried some of the same shit, the "look at me! I'm different! I'm wearing a denim vest!" approach, the tendency to confuse being contrary with being intellectual for example, but it is stale. Not that this is odd in its proper context. It's a typical adolescent thing to be fascinated with yourself to the point where you believe deeply and unselfconsciously (about the only thing an adolescent is not self-conscious about) that you and your uniqueness are the center of so very many things. What makes the disco kids special, what marks them as a generation for me, is that they never fucking grew out of that.

Needless to say, I don't like them. Working with them is always a chore, and working under them is irritating to the point of a near physical aversion.

Tonight I looked them up. Turns out the fuckers have their own name. Generation Jones. Go figure.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday and fate

Well, no poetry for now. I'm off to get my resume critiqued and to fax a lab req to a doctor's office. The doctor forgot to sign it, I called on Friday, they were off for the holiday. I called yesterday, they said they'd fax a new (signed) req to the lab. I got home last night around 8:30 and found a message telling me the doctor can't remember what he ordered and asking me to please fax the req back to them.

Which causes me to wonder....have these people heard of cell phones? I know I put my cell phone number on the chart, even listed it as my primary number. "Ok, so I guess I'll be doing that blood draw Wednesday," I said to A____ after playing the message. A____ started to chuckle. "What?" I asked. He said "I just had an epiphany. What we consider 'Fate' is often the consequence of other people's stupidity."

Friday, March 21, 2008

what to do with a bad movie?

My fella and I watch a lot of movies. We see some good movies, although we're convinced that the post 9/11 film industry approved a whole lot of CRAP. That's another rant for another time, and no, there are no government conspiracy theories. Just a notion about what movie execs think the American people want when the American people are acting like or being portrayed as, well, idiots.

So we watch a lot of shitty movies too. I refer you to a (possibly already redundant) past blog post devoted to this topic for a more comprehensive discussion.

For some time now, I've thought it would be fun to record commentary tracks to these truly shitty movies, you know, MST3K style. We could do specifically feminist commentary (guest starring my sister of course) as well as just your generic, run of the mill knocks like yelling "LINE!!!" every time Keanu Reeves graces the camera with one of his signature blank stares.

Well it turns out someone's had this idea - and I am very glad for it. There was a niche which demanded filling. And someone has stepped up to fill it. Specifically, the MST3K folks (or folk). You can get the commentary or "riff" track for movies online then synch them up to movies (or get a special player which allows you to play a DVD with this audio track without needing to manually synch the two playbacks). It's called RiffTrax. Tonight, we are watching Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. Here's the RiffTrax synopsis.
The Fantastic Four are back! Or the Fantastic Four is back! Depending upon whether one is referring to the title of the film, the four individuals who are fantastic and number four, or the group of four fantastic people who use that title! The point is, they're back! And this time, unlike the first, there's a surfer made out of silver and he rises! It's fantastic!

This means I can finally watch ALL the new Star Wars movies without wanting to chuck things at my screen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday Poetry

Well I woke up late for a day which is late heavy. I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon in Hartford and immediately after I need to race to campus to work. Campus is not close by. And I am apprehensive about the doctor appointment. I already saw one guy in this office and he was a jackass.

So for today, we get one of mine because it's here. And it's seasonal too. How about that.

Spring 1999
Her hair ribbon's on the counter.
Blue green coil, a plaid crisp when she first bought it
brought it home fresh from the store
still holding the shape of the spool it was cut from.
My mother lifted it out of the bag and held it up to be admired. She had made a big deal of ribbons that month. I don’t recall the details, just the quest: To find a ribbon for her hair.

The bathroom scale is broken, and has been for a while. I still weigh myself on it when I'm home, hearing something stony crunch against the charcoal porcelain tiles.
I wonder when she wears it, why? And how she fastens it around her head. With a bow, small and almost perfect, perched on the top, or worn to the side? In a slipping knot underneath, in the back, so all that shows is a neat thin strip of blue green plaid? What is she thinking when she ties it? When she tries this side, then that, and the shades of lipstick to go?

I would rather not see her hair ribbon wilted and knotted,
obscured by the tumble of cremes and powders,
or lost in the midst of lacquers and gels,
or sulking behind splashes and ointments.
Seeing it crumpled there over rings of rust
caked with dried soap lather, I fight the urge to clean.
I comfort myself by blowing a bit of powdery lint off a corner of the counter.

She is a christian again, or seems so since she goes to church now.
On the door, the useless one that has loose hinges and no knob, she's hung a calendar from the church. It has a picture of jesus and some lambs.
She says she doesn’t WANT to be angry. She asks God to forgive her for hating.
My sister says “if she really wants to stop hating, she should practice on the small shit”.

She wakes up 5 minutes before I leave to drive two hours in the car to clear my head before Monday starts. She comes into the kitchen dressed in a pink robe holding her reluctant cat. The cat jumps to the floor.
She sits on the foot-stool and sighs.
The dogs greet her with wags and snouts, and she pushes them away.
She shoves and says “No, God damn it, No! Go away, fucking dogs”.

She tells me I wouldn’t understand, that it is loathsome to me. I ask her if compassion is really so bad.
We have been given the wrong scripts, I realize this as I am saying my part. Or we are not on the same page.
I flip ahead and back, looking for where she is. She says she hates February. I watch jesus pat his loving lambs above her, calmly waiting for her to turn to April so he can die and come back as a fluffy bunny with candy and plastic grass to teach us that an egg is just an egg.

Today is March 1, but I do not tell her. Any contradiction will be taken as a blow, and I'm still looking for a smooth ride home. And anyway, God will forgive her for not knowing what month it is, for blaming the days and weeks, for hating Februrary, for hitting the dog in the face for trying to give her a kiss. Everyone knows God likes plaid.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

biology n'stuff

Quaid and his wife are the biological parents of the twins, who were born November 8 to a surrogate mother.
Biological seems like the wrong word here. A woman (the surrogate) had the embryos implanted in her uterus, carried two to term, and did the whole labor thing. In my book, that makes her "biological". Perhaps "genetic" is the better word the AP folks are (or should be) casting about for.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


While searching for some kind of context for Ferraro's comments, I came across this, in a piece delightfully named "Ferraro: 'They're attacking me because I'm white'", Ferraro apparently had this to say.
....[Ferraro] told a FOX News interviewer: “I got up and the question was asked, ‘Why do you think Barack Obama is in the place he is today” as the party’s delegate frontrunner.

“I said in large measure, because he is black. I said, Let me also say in 1984 – and if I have said it once, I have said it 20, 60, 100 times – in 1984, if my name was Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would never have been the nominee for vice president,” she said.

Oh. I see. Well there's a very simple response to Ferraro's sentiments. Actually, there are several responses from recent history:
*Al Sharpton
*Carol Moseley Braun
*Alan Keyes
**L. Douglas Wilder
**Lenora Fulani
*Jesse Jackson
*Shirley Chisholm

This is a nice set, isn't it? I think it pretty handily tears Ferarro's point down. In her defense, she may have just been ignorant that other women had run for president before her. But even granting ego centrism fueled ignorance, she'd still have to have noticed Jesse Jackson since she ran against him, right?

I am always annoyed when my choices, attitudes, and principles are called "PC". It's such a dismissive and invalidating term. It suggests the person who holds such views did not arrive at them each individually through a process of reasoning, rather that she picked them up as a package off the shelf at "Philosophies R Us". And I kinda get the feeling this is what Ferraro is implying. That if I'm a liberal feminist, I'd vote for a woman because she's a woman. That if I'm a liberal and apparently more racially motivated than sex or gender motivated, I'd vote for a black guy because he's black.

Here's why I didn't vote for Clinton in my state's democratic primary (which I declared a party affiliation simply to vote in). Clinton is an old boys' girl. She has all the proper hand stamps, ones which the feminists I came of age with were expected to embrace simply because they came attached to someone a bit more estrogeny than your average good ol' boy. I don't want more of that shit. If I had, I'd have voted for Gore in 2000 (yeah, I'm one of those "assholes" who voted for Nader mostly because I wanted something ELSE). I was on the fence for a while, seeing most people who get as far as Clinton and Obama do in party politics with a very large degree of skepticism. I looked over both of their position statements on their websites the week before the primary and from what I saw, they looked pretty damned similar. The details were slightly different. Experience has taught me that expecting a politician to stick that rigidly to a set of campaign promises is foolish so I decided the minor detail differences which were likely to be most of them swept away in a tide of people and party pleasing further down the road were not going to be enough to sway me one way or another. Truly, what did it was disability law and the fact that the Obama campaign had seen fit to even bother addressing it (that the ADA needs to get some teeth put back in it after how federal courts have handled it) and the Clinton campaign didn't.

To me, this reaffirmed my already brewing view of Clinton as more old boysy than Obama. People whose lives have been so insulated that they never had to think about how shut out someone can be based on physical factors are not people I am going to support as policy setters or leaders. And that is that. Not race. Not sex or gender. Health and equal access and disability.

All that said though, I'd be a liar if I tried to claim that Clinton's apparent pandering to a certain kind of feminine quality (presumably either shared or expected by her possible voters) didn't annoy me on a personal level also. My guess is if I were black I might feel similarly about Obama when it came to constructs of race.

So back to Ferraroh-no. My search for context dug up this quote from her in 1988: "If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race."
From the same reference, Jackson punted back with his own below the belt (or bodice as it were): "Some people are making hysteria while I'm making history."

I guess while it's still fair (pardon the pun) to say she was talking about race and racism in her recent comments, I need to update my reaction to her February 2008 commentary. I'm naive when it comes to shit like this. It seems in context, her later comments (above) and much, much earlier comments (more immediately above) do make it clear she was indeed saying something along the lines of "black people get it easy because they're, you know, black..." That she included in her recent comments that she was nominated as VP primarily because she was a woman, to me, makes her seem more an apologist than anything else. I guess chalk it up under another woman with (an overblown case of) imposter syndrome.

* = Two sources (1, 2) list these people as recent candidates for the US presidency.
**However, the above two sources do not give fully equivalent sets in that one names L. Douglas Wilder and not Lenora Fulani. The other names Lenora Fulani and not L. Douglas Wilder.
Thus, here are some extra references for Wilder 1, 2 and for Fulani 1, 2.


What was Ferraro talking about when she first made her "race remarks", the ones which I read today had triggered "fury" from the Obama campaign? (quoted phrases from the press)
By my reading of what the comments quoted, I don't have an automatic interpretation. It's clear to me from the quoted remarks that Ferraro was talking about racism and sexism. Ok, so is talking about racism is automatically racist? Is assuming that sexism exists automatically sexist*?

Answers to those questions aside, it seems Ms. Ferraro, even if we take a less reproachful interpretation of her comments, is guilty of failing to accommodate a cardinal rule: you can't talk to the media about the media's biases and expect them to play nice. It's not like this is news to Ferraro. My god, the woman's been involved in politics for over 30 years now. I think it's fair to say she's someone who should know the deal by now.

After seeing headlines about the "fury" over her race remarks, I had to track down the remarks myself. (the "full" interview is below)

What I see is Ferraro speaking about racist** and sexist** attitudes and motivations as if we all knew they existed. I can see that there's room for interpretation, or more properly, interpretations. What I mostly notice is that Ferraro's commentary, as excerpted in the "full" interview below, seems to be a candid discussion about the social implication of what is clearly for some people a contest between their racist or sexist attitudes.

Do we have to pretend the world isn't sexist or racist when we speak of public, media, and media fueled perceptions of the candidates in terms of race or sex? Is there a list of words which have to be preceded by "alleged", "purported", or some other qualifier - even in a context where we all supposedly understand that racism and sexism exist?

I would have so much rather seen a response to Ferraro's comments which addressed what I see is more the point. I want to see a public discussion of institutional sexism and racism, how the manifest and interact. An open and intelligent discourse about this is so notably absent, I can't help feeling in part because as soon as a person says "sexist" or "racist" or something about sex or about race, the conversation becomes a hazardous material and we are all required to stand at least 20 yards away while the men in suits come to clean it up.

Racism and sexism are toxic, that's for sure. But discussing racism and sexism, well, that's more waste than toxic waste. More shit than poison. It can be ugly. It smells bad. It reminds us of something disgusting about ourselves, a thing we'd prefer not to think about perhaps. When we are confronted with it, we want to deal with it carefully because god knows no one wants it to hit the fan and go all over the place. Hell, there are even some people who, in a discussion of the shit, will decide to throw shit at others because they are fucked up and mistake an occasion about shit for an opportunity to revel in shit. But the shit alone, it's not going to kill us or even harm us unless we fail to dispose of it properly.

So shit's there and it's not going anywhere. It's piling up while we alternately pretend not to notice it, or notice it each time anew as if it was NEVER there before with cries of OH MY GOD HOW DID THAT SHIT GET IN HERE???!!! and then an often short lived shit storm ensues.

Well, below is the latest shitstorm. The selection below is representative. So far, absent from the reaction in the press is the reasoning behind the interpretation that Ferraro's comment are racist. I am definitely interested in hearing comments from anyone who has that perspective and can discuss*** it with me. If there's some reasoning which would make this something other than a "YOU SAID JEHOVAH!!!" reaction here in the press, I'd truly like to understand it.

* = I've experienced the latter accusation first, second, and third hand in a variety of contexts.
** = I mean these terms to include so called "benevolent" forms of racism and sexism, not just the other more familiar kinds. Benevolent racism is what underlies the "That Barrack Obama/Condoleezza Rice is so articulate!" sort of comment. Benevolent sexism is what my neighbor was spouting last month when he told me he'd vote for "Hillary over Obama" (note which names are used) because "women's hearts are more peaceful. Women are more caring. We need that right now."
*** = No shit throwing allowed. Please keep hands and feet inside the cart at all times while the ride is operating. Do not taunt happy fun ball.

Geraldine Ferraro let her emotions do the talking, now people are talking!
The Daily Breeze
By Jim Farber, Staff Writer
As the only woman ever to be selected by a major political party for the position of vice president of the United States, Geraldine Ferraro is uniquely suited to comment on the political events of the day.

An outspoken advocate for women's issues and a staunch supporter of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, Ferraro offered her views on the state of the nation and the race for the White House.
Speaking by phone from her New York law office, the 72-year-old former Democratic congresswoman outlined the themes of her talk. She also offered pointed observations regarding the Barack Obama juggernaut and what she sees as a sexist media bias against the candidate of her choice.
When the subject turned to Obama, Clinton's rival for the Democratic Party nomination, Ferraro's comments took on a decidedly bitter edge.

"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign - to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," she said. "For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign.

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," she continued. "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." Ferraro does not buy the notion of Obama as the great reconciler.

"I was reading an article that said young Republicans are out there campaigning for Obama because they believe he's going to be able to put an end to partisanship," Ferraro said, clearly annoyed. "Dear God! Anyone that has worked in the Congress knows that for over 200 years this country has had partisanship - that's the way our country is."

Obama fury over Clinton backer Ferraro's race remark
"That's a really outrageous and offensive comment," Rice said on MSNBC television after Ferraro, who sits on Clinton's finance committee, had said: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."

"It is the sort of comment that we have heard repeatedly, I'm afraid, from some of the Clinton surrogates," said Rice, Obama's leading adviser on foreign policy.

She said Ferraro's remarks were "far worse" than those of another foreign policy aide, Samantha Power, who was forced to resign from the Obama campaign last week for calling Clinton a "monster."

"I think if Senator Clinton is serious about putting an end to statements that have racial implications, that diminish Barack Obama because he's an African-American man, then she ought to really repudiate this comment and make it clear that there's no place in her campaign for people who will say this kind of thing," Rice said.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


It's break here. My fella says since he's on break he may just start randomly flashing people. I told him if he starts doing this, he'll also have to adopt other pop culture spring break behaviors like grabbing whichever same sex friend is nearby and making out if someone trains a camera on him. (If he were to wear chaps while doing this, we'd know we had entered an evil alternate dimension)

Flashing and other popcusexual* shenanigans aside, I think we'll be having a pretty tame and lame break. He's got a paper rewrite deadline on Saturday and I've got hey, what else is new....job searching, grading, and doctors' appointments. Oh yeah kids. Hold onto your hats (and lunch) - it's Spring Break, grad student style!

* = Popcusexual. N, Adj. /pp-kyü-sek-shə-wəl/ (only because the more morphologically transparent /pp-kə-sek-shə-wəl/ seems a bit anemic - although the usage board is divided on which is preferred). Apparent sexual orientation and/or preferences primarily determined by believed appeal to a pop culture audience. Also, popcusexuality.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

bed time kitty

According to the cat, it's bedtime. He's developed a new habit of insisting on a bedtime. This means he starts meowing any time after 11 and is inconsolable until we get INTO bed. If I get into bed and then out (as sometimes happens), he seeks me out and finds me. I'm really not at all exaggerating on this. I know I have a tendency to read into my pets' behaviors but truly, the cat is acting like it's his job to ensure A____ and I are in bed well on our way to sleep by a decent hour every night.

Tonight I bribed him into letting me stay up with a fresh catnip fest on the living room floor a while ago. It seems the high has worn off though and it is most definitely bedtime.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

not what they meant

I'm pretty sure this isn't what they meant to say:
Medical Secretary required for busy Consultants Rooms Blackrock Clinic to cover Maternity Leave commencing March '08 on a part time basis, 3-4 days a week. Salary will commenstruate with experience.

Candy is dandy

I have noticed the personalizable M&M ads lately. It could be they've been there for a while and I just didn't notice them but since I don't tune out moving stimuli well, I am often more than subconsciously aware of what ads are flashing, dancing, or whirling at me from the borders of any given website. To my recollection, the slow rotating M&Ms are new. One thing though. I am disturbed - likely for no good reason - by what is apparently reinforcement for the notion that formal statements of sentiment are best conveyed in a rhyme. Also, "Mona" does not rhyme with "Diploma".

I am quite taken with the idea of printing up some M&Ms for my department head. I wonder if the M&M people would reject an order to print up candies reading "Eat Shit" "And Die"? And if so, would it be on the basis of form or content?

I suppose I could see if they'll print up a batch of "eat shit" "you tit" candies if the "and die" line were to be rejected...although if that happened, I'd never know whether "tit" was preferable due to the rhyme or the non-violent word choice.

Other M&Ms I'd like to print.
for the mean gossipy granny grad student: "bad woman" "no baby"

Er, the one for my department head's wife won't fit. I'm sure of it because I just tried. Damn. Well I guess just "PhD Whore" works.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tuesday Poetry (a little early)

Interactive sound poems, jörg piringer (thanks to M. Sock for the link).

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I woke up to hammering. It took a while to identify the location of the origin of the sound as probably my upstairs neighbors' apartment. I don't think is is a peculiarity of my apartment, although the high ceilings may do something to scatter the noise. Rather, I think it's just a 9 AM on a Sunday after several aborted post midnight attempts at sleep.

The boys had some company over last night. I found a little intoxicated girl in the hallway around 1 AM. I had come out to ask them to kill or at least stop revving the engine on the monster truck idling in the parking lot. We're ground floor facing the parking lot so any gunnings of engines, squealings of tires, and slammings of doors are done in a space about 4 yards from my not highly insulated bedroom wall.

9 AM is certainly a reasonable hour. The sounds of well shod feet hustling across the floor every Sunday morning tells me the younger woman directly above us probably goes to church when she's not hammering a bed apart. She was testy when I went up to ask if the noise was coming from her apartment. I'm not sure she realizes that she's been quite noisy in fact. She's one of those people who leaves their shoes on inside, and she is a "hard sole woman" too. Then there's the dogs, who after an initial quiet period started the occasional fits of barking for little reason.

But then it could have been worse. Although my current but soon to be former upstairs neighbors were not quiet, I could have someone like The Boys up there, and man that would suck.

The landlord is still trying to sell the place. Meanwhile, he tells A_____ he's got a job as a manager in training at a chain restaurant. I guess the finances didn't work out as he'd hoped. I still don't really know what happened with all that. I'm not sure I want to know, just so long as my rent doesn't go up and he's contactable for things like the driveway being an ice rink.

The upstairs neighbors' moving a reminder that it's the season for moving. Regardless of whether my landlord rents the upstairs apartment to more of The Boys type, A_____ and I will probably be moving within the next few months. Partly because when the landlord DOES sell, it seems at least plausible that whoever buys will want to raise our rent, and we can just barely afford this place as it is. It's too bad. I've liked this place. I think of all the rentals where I've lived here in this wretched state, the current one has been the nicest.