Friday, August 24, 2012

Seriously... It's Gonna Be SUPER Embarrassing

Just to expand on a recent Facebook post, I will reiterate this public service announcement: if you are trafficking in birtherism you will, barring a spectacular level of racist delusion, one day, be very embarrassed by this.  I am telling you this for your own good.

Further to this, even right now your loathsome commitment to othering the duly elected leader of this country is causing great pain and embarrassment to someone who loves you. To illustrate this, I want you to imagine that you're standing in the silent but crowded halls of your own high school. Next to you is the person you have a crush on and the coolest person in school (this may or may not be the same person).  Suddenly your Mom, who is also there, farts audibly and then laughs loudly and says "Whoa!  Must have stepped on a duck."  Imagine how embarrassed you are.  Someone you love is that embarrassed and more every time the words "birth certificate" are vomited carelessly from your mouth.  In this example, your mother has been very rude and clueless as to the effects of her audible farts on your social standing.  But she is not being a racist asshole.  Your bitherism is more embarrassing than this loud, maternal public fart in front of the head cheerleader.  By a long shot.

And while I know too that the pundits and politicians you admire may have convinced you that the worst social travesty in the world is to call someone else racist, but they are wrong.  You know what's worse than pointing out someone else's racism? Racism.  Racism is worse.  And birtherism, I promise you, is one hundred percent racist at its core.  Well, at its core, around its core.  It's pretty much a thick core of racism surrounded by self-deluded dumbness.  Which may itself be the definition of racist.  Regardless of how much of it is racist (it's all racist) it's all super dumb and embarrassing.  

And I know... I know it seems unfair that all the poor black people in the world are getting rich on welfare checks and also get use the N word and are also cooler than you.  But this is a fiction!  There are more white people who get welfare than black people, and no one gets rich on welfare.  And it is also not unfair that black people get to use a word that you shouldn't (and it's pretty dumb to resent that anyway).  On the third point, though, you're probably right.  If you are trafficking in birtherism, you are not cool.  You know what would make you cooler?  Not being a birther!

I tell you this not because I care about you, per se.  If you are are a birther you are also a racist shit-for-brains and I'm not particularly interested in maintaining a relationship with you.  But the more you air your paranoid, racist delusions, the more the rest of the world begins to think this is something Americans in general do.  And, dude, it's EMBARRASSING! Knock it off.  For real. You sound like an asshole.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Holy Crap! Andie Did Pick the Right Guy

I was going to write about these chick flicks I've been watching through various domestic chores over the past few weeks.  There is nothing to soothe the weary domestic through her day like the Lifetime Channel for Women.  I was going to write about how fucked up Legally Blonde is for making Elle Woods smilingly agree to protect that vile woman who's built her fortune "perfecting women's bodies," all the while lying about "perfecting" her own on the plastic surgeon's table.  WTF, right?  Or even worse, that moment in the Sex and the City movie when Samantha shows up with like the tiniest gut and the whole crew pretends that the only way to avoid a bikini-ready belly at 50 is to shovel endless piles of junk food into your gaping maw.

The way women's bodies are dealt with in pop culture is endlessly frustrating.

But it was my kabillionth viewing of Pretty in Pink that really astonished me.  See, I have been on Team Ducky my whole life.  Why, just this morning I said to Don, "I cannot BELIEVE she picked that vapid rich boy when sweet, funny Duckie was right there..."  But even as the words were coming out of my mouth, my feminist brain suddenly went, ""

Because there's this thing we talk about in feminist circles:  The Nice Guy(tm).  This is the guy who believes that girls are a commodity to be purchased with a currency of courtesy.  It doesn't matter if a girl is out of his league, lookswise, or if they have nothing in common, or (for crying out loud) if she just doesn't like him.  Once the guy puts in the nice time, the only reason a girl might have for not throwing her panties at him is that she's a shallow bitch.  It's a nasty notion that never seems to go away.  

But in Pretty in Pink, Duckie goes from Nice Guy(tm) to nice guy.  He knows that Andie doesn't want to be his girlfriend and so he stops trying to make her feel obliged to be his girlfriend.  And Blaine recognizes that he fucked up, ditches his gross friends and walks out of the prom, away from pretty Andie in the seriously fugly dress (amirite?) with no expectations of her.  At the end of Pretty in Pink, Andie has agency over her own romantic life.  She makes the choice and chooses, wisely, the one she's attracted to.

(I'm just going to gloss over how Duckie does get rewarded with a girl for being nice.  Because I have a heart and am therefore  happy that Duckie got laid on prom night.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Frank Ocean and the New Normal

I have been flat out obsessed with this Frank Ocean song, Bad Religion, for the past few weeks.  If I am in the car, I will literally play it five or six times in a row. I'll embed a link to a video below, but don't feel like this blogpost is one of those, "OMG, you guys, you HAVE to hear this song now."  Because, god, who can handle the pressure of feeling obliged to wait for a video to load and then if you don't like it are you polite or do you risk being the jerky person who's all "This song sucks"?   Consider this a non-obligatory recommendation.

If you don't listen to it and haven't heard it, it's this yearning R&B song about loving someone so bad that just will not love you back.  And this kid can sing!  When he gets to the lyric "and if it brings me to my knees," I'm like "Oh, yes! Frank Ocean!  I can feel it! I can feel what you're feeling!"

The person on the other end of this unrequited love is a straight man so it's a song about a man in love with another man.  But Bad Religion doesn't aim to raise anyone's consciousness and it's not a song where the singer is all disco sexy and outrageous and there's no caginess about pronouns to cast doubt on the gender of the parties in question.  It's just itself right there in the pantheon of great, yearning unrequited love songs.  It just makes you, like I said, think "Oh, yes!  Frank Ocean!  I can feel what you feel!"

Which brings me to the new normal.  I read this post some time ago on T.Lo (a blog which EVERYONE should read daily because not only is their pop culture analysis really thoughtful, they also manage that awesome thing of being really funny without ever stooping to mean) about an episode of Glee.  The post (which is so good, I'm linking to it twice) blew my mind as something that would never have occurred to heterosexual me: how lovely and significant it must be for a gay teenager to see their idealized love stories on TV.  This is the thing that pretty much composes the sum total of teenage pop culture for straight kids!  But for gay kids?  It was genuinely revolutionary.

I have been on record that I think Glee is a terrible show now (fwiw, Tom and Lorenzo agree).  But it was an important part of this late culture wave of normalizing sexuality that is not only heterosexual.  So, while my aged ears fell in love with Bad Religion because I have felt what he's feeling (who hasn't become a grown up with some painful experience of loving someone who doesn't love you back?) .  But, I also remember being a teenage girl and listening to John Waite yearning and aching his way through Missing You, and thinking "Oh, John Waite, I will love you if she won't!"  And this is a teenage fantasy so common it's banal.

How great is it that we're living in a world where some gay teenager can see Frank Ocean (who is, not for nothing, a really cute guy) and indulge in the same silly teenage fantasy that's been served up to every straight teenager since Shakespeare was writing about Romeo and Juliet? And indulge in it in a world where being gay isn't some exotic abnormality?  Where it's Top 40?  In a song that's not about how hard it is to be gay, but how hard it is to be on the wrong end of an unrequited love?

It's just, I think, a wonderful new thing in the world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Journalism is SOOOOO Sexy!

This is a quick bloggity written as I make dinner and Laney watches Adventure Time (which, with all apologies to Phineas and Ferb and Animaniacs, is the greatest kids show evaaaaa).  I'm a little behind tonight because on the drive home Laney and I got to talking about fireworks which reminded us of a trip to Iowa in which a much younger Laney had been frightened by some impressively close fireworks. This in turn reminded me that during those same fireworks they played Lee Greenwood's odious anthem to jingoistic codswallop which is such a fucking awful song that sometimes I find myself blaming America itself for its execrable existence. So I decided we'd better go for a swim in Lake Michigan in order to purify our souls in one of the great glories of this beautiful country and celebrate the truly inspired city planning that gives Chicago its miles of lakefront even if they would almost certainly not survive a referendum vote in today's world where even grown up people and vice presidential candidates proudly announce an almost sexual passion for Ayn Rand.  When I was young, by gum and golly, Ayn Randism was the purview of simple-minded adolescents who would have been much better served intellectually by getting really high and earnestly pondering how we really know we're not living in a dream, man.  Also back then grown up congresspeople understood the difference between macro- and micro-economics instead of the ones we have now who seem honestly perplexed as to how we can't balance the budget without anyone paying taxes and have all the wars we want simply by using a simple Excel spreadsheet or that Quicken thing they saw an ad for on TV one time.

Anyhoo, I got distracted by thinking about the terrible, terrible Lee Greenwood and our (FSM, save us) even worse congress..  Journalism is sexy.  You know what's not sexy?  This thing I heard on NPR this morning when they were talking about the campaign and played a Romney ad which included two verifiable and quantifiable accusations about the Obama plan for social security. This was followed by the following from the intrepid journalist covering this story, "The Obama campaign says that these two verifiable and quantifiable accusations are untrue for the following verifiable and quantifiable reasons."

End of story.

And you know what I bet?  I bet that the intrepid NPR journalist (by which, obviously, I mean pinko commie socialist atheist liberal homo) never even thought to himself, "I wonder if I should use those fancy journalism chops of mine to find out, you know, which quantifiable and verifiable claim was true."   Because actually fact checking a story is totes for nerds.

And all of this reminds me of my favorite Adventure Time quote, which is actually coming out of my TV now:  "My life is like a fart."

In case you're reading, Shawn, thanks for turning us onto Adventure Time and IT'S YOUR TURN!!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Enjoying the Aging Process

Oh, lordy, I'm not talking about my own!  The only thing I like about being in my 40s is the realization that at least I'm not in my 50s yet.  Don't get me wrong, there are some pluses, added confidence, sweating less the small stuff.  But let's be honest here: everything I eat makes me fat and tweezers are my new best friend.  I'm pretty sure if I were just to let everything go, I could run away and join the circus.  Sure, it'd have to be a circus from 1934 where Nick Stahl brings Grandma Joad back from the dead, but you take my obscure literary-cum-pop-culture point.  Or maybe you don't - I'm talking about the preponderance of chin hairs - if I were to just stop plucking, I could easily be mistaken for a billy goat.  An attractive billy goat with a nice rack and good legs.  But a billy goat nonetheless.

I'm talking about Laney's aging process.

I'm not a baby person.  I like to hold babies and coo over how cute they are.  My coos are honest coos, they are not just-being-polite coos.  But I also like handing babies back to their parents.  This might be because I never had Laney as a baby.  I don't really have a typical parental frame of reference for babies.  I like to talk (I know, that's shocking) and especially like talking to kids.

I tell Laney that I like her more every day and, much like the coos, I'm not just being polite.  It's true!  I like being able to sleep eight hours every night (that's a lie... I prefer nine).  And knowing that Laney can bathe herself and brush her own teeth!  And that I can take the dog for a walk and leave Laney in front of Adventure Time.  Oh!  And the TV they watch!  Dora the Explorer is blissfully blessedly a thing of the past. Dora the Explorer is literally the worst and Adventure Time is fantastic!

But more than that, we can have conversations and read the same books.  She's so smart and so funny.  And still so snuggly and lovey!  She's my little girl, but she's my little girl who can wipe her own butt.  This is a lovely place to be.

Alas, though, I know this time will go too fast because we got here from two years old in about 15 minutes. Soon she'll be getting her period and having those girly dramas and going to high school and getting really embarrassed of me (I actually look forward to that part... I can have a lot of fun with that).

I remember when I was Laney's age and we'd go to church in early December and the priest would light the first candle on the Advent Wreath. It took a million years before Santa came.  And now, I'm thinking already about what to get Laney for Christmas, knowing I'll have to go shopping like next weekend.

It just goes so fast, doesn't it?  And it's such a hard balance to strike among mourning the child that was and enjoying the child that is and looking forward to the child that will be.  I suppose this is something best intellectualized less and accepted/enjoyed more in the moment.  I'll always be wanting to slow it down and she'll always be wanting to speed it up. In the meantime, I like Laney at 9.  A little more than I liked Laney at 8 because I have an extra year of getting to know her and of her getting to be who she is.   I'll probably like Laney at 10 even more.

I expect, though, a slight dip in the graph will occur with Laney at 13... if she's ANYTHING like I was.  If you're reading, Mom, sorry!  I'll make sure to email you when Laney starts rolling her eyes and flipping me off behind my back.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Casting The Big Problem into a New Light

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but have been traveling and working and being lazy and stuff and, as such, have not been writing.  But I was struck by a recent interview Rachel Maddow  did with former climate change skeptic, Richard Muller.  He said something remarkable that I wanted to, uh, remark on.

But first, I learned recently on Facebook that Rachel Maddow is a hate monger who routinely sacrifices integrity and ethics at the altar of a grossly partisan agenda.  Although I am a routine watcher of her show and a fan from way back, I had been, prior to this context-less Facebook exchange, sadly unaware of her journalistic decrepitude.  But I have since removed the mote from my own eye, stripped off my liberal tinfoil hat (which makes me hear only the words coming out of her mouth instead of what she so totes means) and see, finally, the hateful, agenda-driven-y subtext.  I shall translate the first part of the interview:

Rachel: So, bitch, you heard what I had to say. You want to call me a liar, you corrupted Republican fucktard?
Muller: Well, now, Ms. Maddow, I don't want to call you a liar.  I would just like to point out that the Koch Brothers didn't make the funding of my research contingent upon coming up with a specific result set.
Rachel:  Oh, puh-leeze.  You think you're so smart, but you're not better than me.  I know the Koch Brothers hired hookers to blow you through million dollar bills.  Besides, everything is politics, man.  Open your eyes to your own foolish conservative fucktardedness.  And if you're going to stick to being an agenda-less pussy, at least explain why you broke ranks with those Koch bastards and did your damn science?

Which takes us to the part that I found revelatory.  Muller responded to the question (which was really why he thinks it's so important that we know that climate change is caused by humans), with:

If we are at cause, we can do something about it.  If we're not at cause, if it's the solar variation, which we ruled out in our current study, then it's hopeless.  We just have to wait for it to happen.  But if we're causing it, we can do something about it. 

This viewpoint blew my mind.  Granted, I have a long and storied history of thinking I've struck upon some truly radical way of seeing the world but when I, all goggle-eyed, present it to other people they often say, "Uh... ka DUH!"  (I like to hang around with people who articulate at the same lofty rhetorical standards to which I hold myself).  So, it might be that this is just obvious to people who are smarter than I am. But I think seeing the fact that global warming is caused by humans as a relief rather than an awesome burden is a radical reframing of the issue.

It's like you think your house is going to burn down at any minute and then suddenly realize, "Oh, what a relief!  It's not that a fireball is hurtling inexorably towards my front door.  I just have to turn the burners down on the stove!" It's not all doom and gloom. It's not God's judgment.  It's a problem that is within our control to fix.  Let's crack a beer and get to work.

I don't know, made me feel better anyway.  It enables us to cast global warming in a way that feeds our substantial egos (we can fix this!) rather than scolds us for our substantial over-consumption (god, turn down the AC, you fat lazy fuckers).

Do you think Barack Obama has thought of it this way?  I'd better send him a note. He'll be so relieved.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

This morning while riding the elevator down in the parking garage, I was reading Cheers and Jeers on DailyKos because GOD FORBID I should stand quietly in an elevator for 16 seconds with nothing else to do.  How boring would that be? 

I like and admire DailyKos because they put our hella content and they are also a happily partisan website with a stated goal of getting more and better Democrats elected, which is a goal I can get behind.  But, it's not a perfect website; e..g, if you were to only visit the user-recommended diaries rather than the front page diaries, you might get the impression that the website exists entirely up its own ass.  That said, Bill In Portland Maine, who writes their Cheers and Jeers column, is a super funny guy and a pleasure to read.  I read this on that achingly long elevator trip from the 7th to the 1st floor:

(Do I need to write down that this was a joke?  It was a joke.)

I giggled and then thought, "Damn, those Righties really do love their Reagan."  And then I thought, "Damn, those Righties are really good at writing and then sticking to their hagiographies." We Lefties tend to be some equivocating motherfuckers.  We're all, "Sure that whole Bay of Pigs things was good, but WTF, Kennedy, were you some kind of sexual predator?"  And "Clinton, good job on the economy, but WTF DOMA? Welfare 'reform?' Seriously, dude?  You totally DID have sex with that woman!"  And even if he's known as St. Reagan of the Giant Testicles amongst the RedState readers,  if you got in your TARDIS and carried Reagan up to 2012, he'd totally fail the Tea Party Purity Test.  But they don't care!  They have created a Reagan and the Reagan they've created is the one they're sticking with.

It's a level of delusion that I can't help but admire. 

Look at the way they want to name everything after Reagan.  There are Reagan highways and Reagan byways and the airport in our nation's capitol is named for him.  And they're not done.  They want Reagan on our money. They want him on Mount Rushmore. I think they want to paint his face over the Capitol Dome.  They LOVE Reagan. They want to live in the United States of Reagan.

But Reagan was terrible!  Let's take a look at some of the hits:
  • Dog whistled LOUD at the most virulent racists by kicking off his campaign in Philadelphia, MS 
  • Put a knife in the family farm
  • Made student loans harder to get and harder to pay back
  • Introduced the economic abortion known as supply-side (lookit, it hasn't trickled down for 30 years; it ain't trickling)
  • Tripled the deficit
  • Failed utterly to take any leadership when AIDS was devastating the country
  • And, good googly moogly, the man sold arms to IRAN!  Iran, you guys! IRAN!!!!
In the interest of bipartisanship, and in service to our national obsession with elevating our public discourse, I would like to provide a list of things that I think should be named for Ronald Reagan:
  • My butt
Sigh. This is what I'm reduced to when I encounter the Church of Reagan.  I say things like "My butt."  Because it seems so shockingly obvious to me that Reagan deserves not a hagiography, but a WTFiography (I'm trademarking that term.  It's mine. You can't have it). But, I'm not ready for the Thunderdome, I do need another hero.  And the only one I can think of?  Is a goddamn Republican, who's been dead for 150 years.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Swear to the Ghost of Dorothy Parker this is Not About Chick-Fil-A

Well, it's a little about Chick-Fil-A, although I'm embarrassed because the word "Chick-Fil-A" is a kind of embarrassing word. Is it even a word?  And why is it "Fil-A"?  What is with the hyphens?  It's a lot less weird to say than to write, because then you think "fillet," only I guess that would wreck their chances of franchising in England because I'm pretty sure they pronounce it like "fill-it" since they talk weirder than us and "Chick Fill-It" just doesn't sound as good as "Chick Fil-A." Less French, which is good on the one hand because the fucking French but also bad because I think their food is supposed to be better than ours and also because apparently there are no fat French people.  There. I just figured it out. Skinny gustatorial Frenchiness outweighs smug superior Frenchiness.

Anyhoo, a friend of mine from way back asks a question about whether or not it's intolerant to boycott Chick-Fil-A because the owner disagrees on a moral issue. This is a guy I'm happy to engage because while his politics are not mine, he is also unfailingly civil and always wishes a happy birthday to aging rock stars which I find totally sweet.  I think he's wrong on this issue, but I also take his point.

An anecdote (yay!  anecdotes are the BEST):

Many moons ago, Don and I were on a road trip and pulled off to spend the night. The hotel on our left looked kind of shitty.  The hotel on our right looked a little less shitty but had put on their marquee, "This hotel is American-owned."  Now, I'm a big advocate for buying American whenever possible, but this marquee really meant, "White people own this hotel."  So we stayed at the shittier looking hotel which was owned by an Indian family and was, while shitty, clean enough and the continental breakfast was the same as it is at any roadside motel, which is to say shitty, but certainly no less shitty than the continental breakfast the white people across the way were serving.

This was an easy one.  The actual owners of the hotel had decided to appeal to their consumers via xenophobia and bigotry.  So we had a clear moral choice and gave our $59.99 to the other guys (Don and I always stay at the nicest hotels).

The Chick-Fil-A thing is also easy.  The owner of the business decided to make a point of announcing his homophobia because he is proud of it.  This is his right but it is also my right to think he's a bigot and a doof for being proud of his own bigotry.  But, it's not just easy, it's too easy.  The gay rights culture war is all but over and the good guys won.  When the famously cowardly Democratic leadership decides to put gay rights on their plank, dude, it's over.  I'd put good money down that gay marriage will be the law of the land within 10 years. It's all but normalized and that's thanks to folks who fought the hard fight.

I wasn't one.  I was all "Hey you mean gays! Leave Barack Obama alone because if he supports you he'll lose and then President Palin." Other people took the prez at his word, put their passion to the test, decided against cautious equivocation and made him change.  

And the prez, along with most of the American people, changed.  And I felt like a big cowardly coward... mostly because I was.

But Chick-Fil-A?  The only awesome power Dan Cathy has is over chickens. Literal chickens.  If chickens want to take on Chick-Fil-A, I'm with them.  But, of course, as a vegetarian, I tend to be on their side.    

 If the good guys' victory in the culture war has taught us anything, it's that the only way to effect change is to take some risks.  So whaddya say?  Let's take some real risks. Let's start boycotting processed meats* all over the place!  Who's with me?

Anyone?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

*I am also a coward on this issue because I will totally buy Laney a Lunchable on our road trip Sunday.  Or McNuggets.