Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shame on You, All of You, The Press

My morning routine has included Good Morning America since I can remember. I don't know when it started, but I do recall watching when Charlie Gibson and I *think* Joan Lunden served as the hosts of what was once the best morning news show on the block.

It is sad when things decline. Sadder yet when it is under the reign of such seemingly respectable luminaries as Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts. You want them to succeed. But it seems the spiralling that embodies all things MEDIA has also begun to rot the roots of a once admirable little tree that, while just as much fluff as substance, once was at least purposeful if not steeped in journalistic heft. But it seems even the sweetest, best intentions must be sucked into the piss-soaked vortex that is Modern News, or lack there of. Journalistic integrity is a pale whisper on a windy plain. Wave bye-bye to Excellence and Relevance, folks. Buckle in for the grinding ride of hell that is New Journalism in all its neon shouting and flatulent banter. (yay)

It's been going wrong for a long time now, but the election of Obama and the death of Jackson have pretty much writ that Salieri death-score. Woe is me, woe is us, woe is the brain that bakes in the heat of the scorched soul of pop culture. It is sad to see GMA shuffle relevant stories to the backburner to yet again beat that dead horse (pop star) deep into the ground: the doctor, the tracks, the son, the alleged son, the custody, the doctor, the drugs. Who the fuck cares?

And, this morning, coupled with the inevitable "new" news on Jackson, his addictions, his personal chef, and his conflicted fame, we also got to hear a sickeningly sarcastic news cast about Obama's "beer summit" with the White Guy and the Black Guy. And GMA was not alone. It seemed the only important news of the week was the arrest, the black professor, the white cop, and Obama's "horrifying" (yet accurate) comment.

First, let us not let those venerable members of the press off the hook. No matter the race of the questioner--for Press, in my eyes, you are all due a reckoning--did you not think that every member present at that press conference had a rock hard boner to ask that question? Who gives a shit about health care, Iraq, the economy, anything, when we can finally get that Black Man at the podium to answer a highly controversial question about race? God, they must have been dizzy with desire, wrecked with wanting, and blowing their loads all at once.

Too much? Too bad.

My cop experiences have been good and fair. I spent too much time with them one particularly bad winter due to a stalker problem. They chased and caught the son of a bitch and did their jobs well. On the fair front, I've been pulled over twice: once for having a light out, once because I was driving like a homicidal maniac. It must be stated, of course, that on that second, regrettable incident, I was not hauled out of my car and my car was not searched. I have, however, known African Americans--men and women--who were pulled over for piddling reasons and WERE searched. Weird. Wonder why.

Worse yet, it seems to me that it is general knowledge that this shit happens. I do not believe that it is "coddling" to extend a little racial sensitivity, then, when a cop is called to investigate a possible crime in process. NOT to give the possible criminal a break because of his poor, sad, racially compromised life, but to consider that it Might, MIGHT, be possible that a member of a specific race immediately feels threatened, vulnerable, and even guilty just by being who they are. So, if the questioning went on a little too long...if it got a little too tense...perhaps someone lost his temper and told that poor little white cop "Your mama."

Really? Gates talked shit about the cop's mama? Is that an arrestable offense? Because lock my ass up. I will talk shit about your mama any day of the week and two times on Tuesday.

But I really don't have to get into the legality of the situation. They dropped the charges because they knew the score: You shouldn't use your power as an officer of the law to threaten and incarcerate people just because they said your mama was a hooker. Sorry. You just can't.

The incident itself was interesting--a learning moment, if you will--but was it worthy of the non-stop blattering from the press? Gosh, I guess so. Because our president is African American and--much to the collective press' boner delight--he said that the police acted "stupidly." Well shit me a firestorm.

This leads me to today, already saturated beyond the point of reason with this ass of a story, each news outlet chose to dance their little dance of wicked deviltry, joshing about the "red, light, and blue" beer preferences and clearly hoping for a post-beer fistfight. As I readied myself for work, GMA yapping its own version of stupidity on this already stale story, I coolly considered shutting off the show for good. That verdict isn't out.

What saved me today was the wonderful humor column by John Kenney in The New Yorker. It's like a sweet salve for the soul, my friends. If print news dies, any hope for truth--and the brutal, even cruel indictments of our baser, monkey characters, leaping out of trees and shrieking for blood--will die with it. Thank you, John Kenney.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Simon's Cat 'Fly Guy'

Cutest series of videos ever?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Be a Man: We must be swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon...

I love the movie Mulan. YES, I know it is a Disney movie. YES, I know that I am a growed woman. YES, I know it ALL (duh), but I love it more every time I see it. Last night I made myself pay special attention to the sex politics, since that tends to be one of the things most people focus on.

Now, the whole Disney franchise is a living monument to stereotypes and traditional sex roles—this is not a secret and never was. While I understand the general annoyance (she has to become a boy to be a hero), I’ve never really understood the exasperated, almost childish foot stomping that follows this type of portrayal. Western women are nowhere near where they used to be 100 years ago, never mind 50 or even 20 years ago. Progress is, well, a progression. You don’t jump from point A to point Z—the world and all it’s vile, stinking pustules of hatred, fear, and oppression, is not going to miraculously heal itself after one heartfelt verse of “We are the World” whilst holding Hands Across America.

I think it’s important to remember that this movie is made for children, and speaks directly to both girls and boys in very specific, very progressive ways. The movie starts with Mulan readying to meet the matchmaker…a culturally foreign and antiquated rite of passage that most Western girls will never know firsthand, but the message is not lost: Find a man to complete you and, more importantly, do not dishonor the family. People could generalize and say that this is specific to the culture—Western kids don’t give a crap about honor, loyalty, and the bickering chorus of ancestors—but I think they certainly relate to the concept of not letting your parents down. Culturally different, but the same in all the ways that count.

Mulan is clearly not cut out for domestic life in the Han dynasty—just look at the creative way she handles her chores with the puppy/bone on a stick trick to feed the chickens—and it’s inevitable that she will fail at the matchmaker’s. When Mulan returns home to face the shame of her father, she sings the lovely “Reflection,” which basically boils down to the question any conflicted young woman wants to know: Who am I and what is my purpose? The lyrics are heavy with allusions to “play[ing] a part,” “wear[ing] a mask,” and how she must “pretend” and “hide” who she really is. A disastrous daughter in a traditional family is inevitably a tomboy, a role she gets to inhabit as soon as her father is summoned to war.

But note that Mulan doesn’t want to be a boy—she just isn’t cut out for the delicate, practiced, well-mannered servitude of a traditional wife. Her first steps in the army are the same as her introduction to the matchmaker: awkward, destructive, alienating, and generally disastrous. She’s no more a success as a “man” as she is a “woman.” Mulan doesn’t aspire to be a heavily muscled, standing atop a mountain peak, sword-in-hand iconic warrior: she wants to be good at something and she wants to save her father, simple as that. The modern Western girl can certainly relate to Mulan’s identity conflicts: They want to work, they want to make the cash and feed the family, they want to be the CEO and bang the gavel…and they want to have princess weddings and babies and appliances and clean, shiny floors, too. More than anything, however, they want to be good at what they do, and accepted in whatever roles they choose.

The movie keeps the male roles fairly traditional to a point—the most searing and bittersweet for young women to watch undoubtedly is every scene with Mulan and her father, Zhou. Even now, in this world of idyllic equality (ha), female babies, children, teens and adults are intimately aware of the protective father figure, whether it is a father, grandfather, uncle, etc. As a person trying to grow into someone self-confident, strong, and independent, having a protective father is both endearing and comforting while simultaneously irritating and, in some cases, enraging. Even while Zhou tells Mulan she must learn her place—with strutting-while-limping male pride and slamming his hand on the table like the ultimate family gavel—I think he also understands how keenly her conflicted identity pains her and tries to assure her that even though she will bloom late, she will certainly be the most beautiful of all. And I doubt they mean physical beauty here—any little girl will tell you that Mulan is already beautiful. I think despite Zhou’s sexist, get-in-your-place position, he understands that Mulan is trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in. He begs the ancestors to help her at the matchmaker's but I feel it is directed more to his desire that she find her way in a safe, societally accepted the father-protector, he doens't know any other way to be. In the end, when Mulan presents the gifts from the emporer, Zhou tells Mulan "The greatest gift and honor is having you as a daughter."

Little boys watching Mulan must also respond and relate to the male roles throughout, especially with Captain Li Shang, the square-jawed young warrior who must “make a man” out of Mulan and the rest of the troops in order to fight the approaching Huns. I think boys grow up in an equally conflicted world: while we generally do not expect a boy to fulfill the traditional role of protector (and, by association, oppressor), he should certainly at least desire to do so. Otherwise, he is a wimp: he’s a loser, he’s yellow, he’s weak. It’s a delicate balance to be strong and protective...but only to a point.

Mulan’s success at training, on the battlefield, and at the palace owe equally to her physical strength and her problem solving abilities. It’s the old “men are meat bags and women are cunning kittens” routine, no doubt, but this old hat is also a tip to the idea that women have to do “twice as good as a man to go half as far” (Fannie Hurst). I love Mulan’s moxie, her quick thinking and wild spirit, and I “get” the device, but I don’t think it’s necessary to keep overcompensating to make a point. After all, girls these days aren’t aspiring to be “as good as” men—ain’t no such thing—they just want to be treated equally. In my opinion, it’s the one thing in Mulan that falls short(sighted).

What really succeeds, however, is the complete dismissal of sex politics in the end. The evil, horrible, no good Hun, Shan Yu, has taken the palace and wants the emperor to bow to him. Mulan and her army buddies break into the palace by going drag—the “ugly concubines”—and a reprise of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” makes it both ironic and, ultimately, irrelevant: A girl becomes a man to become a warrior; men become girls to save China. Sex is interchangeable and immaterial: You need smarts, guile, and strength to win the battle. When Mulan is fighting Shan Yu one-on-one, she must draw back her hair and cock her head to show him that she is the same warrior that bested him on the mountain. And what does he say? Is it “A wooooomannnn!?” or “You shall learn your place, female” or even “Bitch!”? Well, no. It is Disney, after all (hello, “concubines”?) so instead of all that he says this: “The soldier from the mountains.” If the Hun(-nybun) leader—the very symbol of over-charged, over-grown, testosterone fueled male violence—can see Mulan not as a woman or a man, but simply as a soldier, the world might, too, mightn’t it? Now that’s progressive.

Of course, having said all that, I must admit that I love the movie because it hits all of my most personal chords: the traditional father who I want to please and yet struggle against as I try to assert my identity and independence; the conflicted schizophrenia of youth as I tried to figure out what/who I should be; the desire to be excellent in that endeavor. Being a girl of girly proportions, I will stand tall and state that I cried--sometimes outright bawled--throughout the film. Having confessed to such womany blubbery, I must say that it would be nice to feel safe inhabiting all gender roles, wouldn’t it? We could be warriors, mothers, crybabies, welders, cake bakers, bunny herders, and rugby players. With nice nails and a wicked right hook, too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

PS22 Chorus "Landslide" Fleetwood Mac (a capella)

I know you've probably seen this already...but can I just say: Hysterical tears a-flowing.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sluts v. Virgins = I Hate You, Media and All Slaves Bending, Forevermore

Okay, I’m not stupid enough to believe that the Cyrus family genuinely freaked when those Annie Lebowitz photos first started making the rounds via the earth, but, upon seeing this latest “spread” for Elle, one must ask: WTF?

Really? The photo above is perfectly OK as opposed to this?

Hmm. In one, she is NAKED and EVIL, wrapped in a sheet of Whoredom, no doubt, with little makeup and a, dare I say, sweet expression. In the Elle-spread-her-legs-wider shot, she’s wearing fuck-me boots and a cum-on expression. Guess we’re done playing HORRIFIED over the innocence of little Miley, huh?


Hey We're Overdue for Another Randomass Post and You Have to Read It because You Loooove Me

Movies I Have Seen and Will Probably Never See

I just saw the original Dawn of the Dead for the first time. I was delighted by the fact that the parts of the people getting eaten looked a lot like the groom's cake at Shelby's wedding -- and even tho Ouisa said it looked like "an autopsy" in Steel Magnolias, I have to say that it was almost charming to see those retro gross out effects and their undeniable red velvet cake beginnings. Cute!

The great thing about DVDs is getting to see the old ads -- I remembered how terrified I was back when these ads aired. The Dawn of the Dead from my childhood--while it has some nice surprises and scares--can't compare to the Dawn of the Dead of recent in terms of terrors, night sweats, and general unease about humanity or lack thereof.

AND: I would like to wish all Harry Potter maniacs, groupies, and mental patients a happy weekend. I was waiting for the N train with one of my co-workers today when a friend (Ms. Sarahbearah to be exact) came up with a light in her eyes and a hop in her step and immediately enquired as to whether or not I'd seen the latest Harry Potter. I have room for only so many geekazoidal tendencies and, as my mother will tell you, I'm more of a sci fi nerd and less (to none) of a fantasy nerd, so my answer was no. But I respect the love, kittens, so enjoy.

Dirty Websites That Make Me Laugh Out Loud

It's called Texts from Last Night and DON'T GO THERE if you are sensitive about the dirty talk. Because there's loads (pun intended) and loads of it. Even if you don't think it's funny, it's certainly fun to see how the youngsters are shaping up. My fave so far?

(516): Are you with Adam and his vodka?
(1-516): Yeswdsssss I masde his pickle gi away ans he go anbnoued

It's gold, I tell ya.

Speaking Of

[Really funny video removed because Comedy Central can't manage to embed without jacking my computer. Thanks, Assholes.]

The Corner of Shame

If you've ever had the honor of visiting my palace, you no doubt couldn't miss the now legendary Corner of Shame. The Corner of Shame is just inside my front door, next to my great-great grandfather's handmade chest of drawers, and consisted of various sad, saggy boxes that contained my Old Ass computer from the 90s. I can now declare with Glee and Highkicks that the Corner of Shame is NO MORE! I finally cleared all of that shite out. After X years of it sitting there, gathering dust and serving as a Shame Table on which I stored my bags, old magazines and various change, it is finally gone.

Of course, having no idea what the computer still stored, I got it in my head that opening it up and yanking out all of the fancy, shiny components would render it somehow inoperable. I got almost everything out--and to this I owe a great debt of gratitude to Mr. Chan who I observed disassembling and reassembling various computers o so many years ago--however, I finally realized that I could not remove the biggest part of it--the (I'm guessing here) motherboard?--which meant that I was completely screwed in my endeavors...BUT. It's lovely when you realize that a useless antique can be made into a dandy little table with the right covering...and so that is it's new life: once I find the right cloth to cover it up, anyway. In the meantime, did you ever notice how those little microchip board dealies (YES, I know that's not the NAME, OK) look like little cities?

Speaking of My Foyer

Adair gave me a piece of art she made by hand, from her head, and I am so proud to now have it on display. SEE:

We had some discussion about art on the day she handed it over--is it art if it's just for fun, stress relief, a steam valve that keeps you from KILLKILLKILL, etc.--but I have to say that there's something particularly eerie about Adair's choice to give me this particular piece of art. I'm a MOMA freak and head straight to the modern art section of the MET every time: I have to say that this winsome little lovely just speaks to me. Hey Adair, maybe that's the real art? How did you know that this was exactly the one I would dig, truly and completely?

Dreaming is Free

I had two interesting dreams this past week:

Dream 1: I found myself at the University of Someplace in the South, looking at my new dorm room, discovering I was registered, and that class started tomorrow. All of my stuff was still back in NYC and I hadn't made a single plan to move...including quitting my job. Yasmin was my roommate and she was (as usual) bullying me to just DO IT (and NO I haven't talked to the cop since Sunday and NO I am not baking him cookies dammit, bully!) but I was freaking out because the classes were paid for and there was no turning back. Then she made me go to an orientation kegger and I said oh, OK. As the kids say: Win?

Dream 2: I had my first chicken dream last night! It was all about other crap--various ex-boyfriend drama, travel, intrigue, etc.--but at one point we were staring out of a caved in roof and saw this giant brown and red rooster, 10 times the normal size, strutting toward the apex, apparently readying to crow. Then this weird talking owl distracted me, the rooster was gone, and all hope was lost. What do rooster dreams mean, anyway...and what does it mean if you get cock blocked by an owl?

Ooo, too fresh?

Finally: I am a Very Good Driver

This video is painfully boring to everyone but me. It features me driving on the interstate between Kansas City and Wichita after visiting the wee beeb Noah and his wonderful parents, Dave and Ruth. Note the Journey playing in the background. This video sucks in terms of adequately showing you the Flint Hills, so all I can hope is that you'll someday have the pleasure of driving it in person. It really is lovely and, given the right amount of imagination, quaintly enchanted. Yeah, I said it. Enchanted. Goooollld I tell ya.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


This is me.

And also this. But change "jeans" to "white Nike's."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Dracula! Musical!

This makes me supernaturally happy.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Head Up, Homegirl

I was walking home from the R train when I witnessed a moment of retro irritation. Retro because it doesn't happen to me anymore, but it happens--daily, hourly, by the minute--to women all over the world.

I was walking up 95th street, enjoying the sparkly end of the day, the sun dappled sidewalk, the prancing dogs leading their human slaves on the bi-daily poop walk, when I noticed a group of young men on a stoop, laughing like low rent trolls and probably not meaning any harm. I made eye contact, as grammas are empowered to do, and their eyes met mine, skated on by, and they continued on with their manly, late afternoon banter. I saw a lovely coming the other direction; she was trim, fit, fresh faced and on her way to a work out it looked like...certainly something to give more than a glance to, were I a young, garrulous buck looking to look. It's funny, they didn't say anything, and I certainly never saw anything, but I could not help but notice that brow that furrowed as she approached their tight niche. Her eyes were dead ahead, set to nothing, it seemed, but her brow grew clenched and tense as she passed them (and, incidentally, me) as if by instinct.

God, I knew her heart right then.

It is hard to describe to the most well-meaning gents the immediate and undeniable impulse to flinch from a manscape of strangers all grouped and laughing together. After a young lifetime of catcalls, hisses, kisses, and crude promises of black, hateful sex acts it is truly impossible not to close up, lock down, and grow rigid with unease if not downright fear. Its the scarring of time, I guess. Irreparable, maybe not, but when you walk the walk of the The Object with Tits long enough, you know the score at least enough of the time to make you wary ALL of the time.

Sad, isn't it?

Do I sound wistful? I hope not. I don't feel particularly wistful. In that moment, I felt sad and strong for her. I knew what she was thinking and hoped she'd feel better, more secure, by the end of the block. That's something to hope for, right?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happy 4th of July, Patriots!

I love how the mainstream media mocks the growing trend of the youngsters getting their news from comedy sources like The Daily Show, but how else would I know what kind of messed up shenanigans are going down on ultra conservative jerk off shows like Glenn Beck's? Behold:

[Sorry, had to remove this one, too. Thanks again, Assholes.]

So there you go, Americans. Don't forget to stop, drop, and roll on the 4th, thanks to the right-hand-job crazies. Is this what failure looks like? No wonder I'm 0% competitive. Jesus. While we're putting out the flames, just a quick shout out to the soldiers that died so that I can live in relative safety compared to the rest of the world. Thanks, Grandpa! For freedom!