No Taming This Shrew


The Quest to be a Funny Liberal

I typically don't recommend whole issues of magazines, but I've got to say that this month's Vanity Fair had me from the table of contexts. (I know, I'm a little behind on my summer reading.) First, a very grave commentary about why the feminists are all hot and bothered by Summers and the editor at the LA Times and so forth ("Caution: Women Seething," by James Wolcott), then (brilliant editorial placement) an essay about why liberals are not funny: "No Jokes, Please, We're Liberal," by Michael Wolff. I'm skipping the Dominick Dunne column in between because I always do -- I find him sycophantic, even in a very smoochy magazine.

There's no online access, hence the length of this post...

The first article basically goes like this: "What exploded, methinks, was a protracted buildup of exasperation over the persistent over-representation of women in positions of prominence and authority, and mulish inability of powerful men to recognize the scope of the problem or their tendency to rationalize it with voodoo genetics and Victorian parlor sociology. Women are sick of hearing the same old sea chanteys. They've had their fill of men who insist on protecting their privileges and pretend it's the natural order of things." (It's just too bad, I guess, that the women are so damn cheeky: "There's something about Susan Estrich [lady who went up against Kinsley] -- some ineffable quality she possesses that, should it ever become effable, would peel paint off battleships -- that annoys people of all faiths and political creeds." Although, in all honesty, I too dislike how shrill she is, and I think she screwed up the LA Times business when she went after Kinsley personally, including his Parkinson's. Apparently I might as well hop into bed with Sean Hannity now and call it a day.)

But the best part of the magazine -- other than the lengthy article with the fascinating, beautiful, and completely looney toons Angelina (Angie) Jolie -- is the Wolff article about how lame liberal humor is. I feel this way at times myself: how I craved a candidate who could zing Bush's mistakes and play hardball with the big conservative boys! But we're so damn NICE. Ben Bradlee called today's liberal's "little constipated souls," and I think that might be perfect.

So my new goal (on some days when I'm not shrieking about equal rights, of course), is to be a funny liberal. Able to make fun of myself, able to lambast my enemies with good will and rapier wit, etc. I want to be ready for when the Battle of the Blondes takes place and I have to kick Ann Coulter's ass.



My beloved Hermano was almost shot outside his surprise birthday party Friday night in San Francisco. He wasn't hurt, although it scared the living hell out of him. He and some friends were getting out of a car and walking into a house, and as they were walking back to the car a few minutes later (to get the cake for the li'l brother) four dudes were jacking it and peeling out. Hermano & Co. all ran out yelling after them, and the car screeched around in a U-turn and started heading straight for them and two guys were leaning out of the window with guns, firing. They chased my brother and his friends until they hit the dirt behind some shrubs or in some neighbor's garage. This is the second time my brother's come up against a gun in SF and he's lived there less than three months.

I live in the Murder Capitol of the US, although Detroit and Atlanta like to think they're getting in on something. I have staggered through unfortunate neighborhoods late at night, I have driven into drug busts by accident, I take the subway when I shouldn't to places I shouldn't go. In other words, I'm a lucky idiot in a bad bad city. Mon frere goes to the happy hippy picturesque gay-o-polis and gets gunplay.

My first response to this news was to put on my spurs, saddle up the ponies, and head west to kick somebody's ass. Since I have neither spurs nor horse I've been mostly spitting mad. The last time I felt this shaken was when my college roommate was brutally raped and beaten when we were on summer break from Woof U. I had dreams for months about finding her rapist and killing him with my bare hands. (I still think about finding him when I head south to her town...I still might kill him given the chance. She was never the same again.)

Little Bro is considerably younger than I am, and I have always been his self-appointed protector. When he went to China, I was constantly worried but exhilarated when he decided to have himself an adventure. (I was more relieved when the Peace Corps sent him home for his own safety.) Now he's moved to a place far away on "the left coast" where he has friends and a place to live and he's so happy and HE'S ALMOST GOTTEN SHOT TWICE! I don't know whether to rail against gun lobbies or crime legislation or San Francisco or what.

Memorial to my social life

Just a brief bitch that it's a holiday weekend and I've been revising a chapter about body parts on the Renaissance stage. Not particularly summery. Meh.


Shopping can kill

There's been a strange rash of shopping-related violence in the area lately. Stabbings at a nice mall, shootings in the lesser mall, and even shootings "across the river." Cops were often related, sometimes it's a woman who just got out of jail who starts stabbing people near Loehmanns.

Why at malls? I know I get hugely frustrated trying on clothes that are inevitably too short, too big, too tight, etc. Very Goldilocks. But I've never been driven to violence inside a store. I can see how entering a mall and being surrounded by people might set someone off, though. It's like a filmstrip of "This is What You Cannot Have" running in perpetuity.

But I think the violence might come from something a little deeper - the mall is a place where folks charge what they cannot afford and desire what they should not crave. It's a place of frustration and deception in many ways (am I going too far here? I really dislike shopping so this might just be me), and I wonder whether the Muzak sets these guys off.


Lightsaber mishap

Just in case you missed this -- J(NY) spotted it and knew I'd enjoy: (It's from Yahoo News)

The Force--let alone common sense--was definitely not with them. Two British Star Wars fans sustained critical injuries after constructing their own lightsabers from fluorescent light tubes filled with liquid fuel.According to British media reports, a 20-year-old man and his 17-year-old female friend were filming a mock duel in homage to Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, the latest chapter of George Lucas' record-breaking franchise.The two Brits suffered severe burns when their homemade sabers exploded. The two had been videotaping their clash. They have been hospitalized at Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire since the accident Sunday.

Apparently there's a string of robberies in the UK featuring thieves wearing Darth Vader helmets, too.


You were the chosen one!!

I saw Revenge of the Sith, and I found it to be a very upsetting movie. I thought it was quite good and very adequate to the task of linking the two triologies, but I was also really, well, upset by it! (I was also floored at how attractive Hayden Christensen has become. When did that happen? Are all evil guys so hot?)

I'll try not to "spoil," but I'm pretty sure I'm the last one on the planet to have seen it. Go read my rant about education if you want to stay clean of this mess.

Any movie considering the nature of evil should be disconcerting. I expected that. What I didn't expect was to be so sad and uncomfortable with the nature and facility of evil in this movie. I didn't buy how fast Anakin turned, but I also was really thrown by how Lucas exactly captured what makes us totalitarian: fear.

Many of you have written far more clearly about the political allegories in the film - "only sith deal in absolutes," etc., - but it was the larger consideration of how quickly we embrace what we perceive as safety that got me. There's some cheesy line when Padme responds to the Chancellor's (who is a fantastic actor and quite fun and evil) grab for power by saying, "so this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause." It might have been moving delivered by someone other than Bland-ette Extraordinaire Natalie Portman, but I doubt it.

This is what the movie's about, I think. How good people can become "bad" in others' eyes by simply trying to keep safe the things they love. The dichotomy appears almost totally subjective. The movie then hastens away that conclusion by making Darth a killing machine, but in his mind he's completely justified. So those sensibilities and the truly horrifying visuals at the end did me in. Bad dreams all night and a sick feeling this morning when I remember it. I'm impressed that a Lucas film can stay in my head for more than an hour. Who knew?


She can be taught!

I went out for Mexican with some folks last night, educators all, and finally got the school system figured out. I've been so flummoxed by how No Child Left Behind works when the money seems to be coming from somewhere else. So I had a public school teacher and a private school teacher in my clutches and I made them teach me a thing or two.

Maybe you all already knew this -- if so, apologies. Maybe you can correct the parts that I remember hazily after the tasty margaritas. So: money for schools comes from property taxes in a city or county. The city or county council then allocates those funds to schools on whatever byzantine system they have devised. It is rarely demographic, seemingly. Largely those funds head towards the "middle managers," namely people who are "cluster directors" of fields like science or social studies. (Our table really enjoyed the title "cluster directors.") The classrooms get very little actual financial support.

While this trickle down is happening, the Department of Education and No Child Left Behind are providing less than 10% of the fiscal support for public schools. 10%. So they've (the feds) added to the burden of overworked teachers while necessitating a middle management ring to handle the bureaucracy, thereby guaranteeing that funds never get to the kids themselves. And of course, the schools must perform without money as well.

I've been trying to figure out why the public schools are so screwed up in this country for years, and this really cleared it up for me. Everything works to suck money away from the classroom. I think public school teachers should be paid more than corporate lawyers, for starters, but then I know myself that the funds need to head straight into that teacher's classroom budgets. Books and field trips and technology, o my!

So from the Department of Education on down, Education majors are sustaining themselves and their progeny, yes? We need more supervisors who have nothing to do with classrooms! Talk about those who cannot do, do what they can to mess up those who teach...

(Seriously, if I've messed up the math on this, I hope someone corrects me. I think I've got the gist here...)


It's this or Katie Holmes

...and I swear if I see that shot of Tom Cruise grabbing her head like he's going to break her neck I'm going to snap my own. What is WITH people and this couple? ARGH!

Meanwhile, in the world of books and learning...we learn today that students no longer enjoy reading because teachers ask them to read too much in school.

I mocked this internally when I read it because it sounded like whining. In a big way. But then I read the article, and lots of these kids at foofoo schools are being corralled into reading assigned books over all school breaks! YECH! What a rotten way to read over the holidays! (I'll just ignore for now the fact that kids at low performing schools are lucky to get a crappy anthology all year...)

[There's also an accusation that students are made to read books that are "classics," which therefore "have no meaning to kids' lives." (Ahem, why are they classics, then?)]

My summers in south Georgia were either spent under water in my cousin's pool (or eating watermelon, drinking lemonade, eating barbeque, going to Dairy Queen, resting for 45 minutes, swimming more, drinking more lemonade....I really miss summer.) or stretched out inside in the airconditioning reading reading reading.

And I read FUN stuff! All the Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys, a couple of times. Moved on to Agatha Christie and read all those (this latter was in response to the librarian in my small town telling my mom that I shouldn't be reading Judy Blume since she was so "mature." Mom promptly walked me into the "adult" section and told me to pick out whatever I wanted. Loved that. In your face, book nazi!). Went back to the young adult section and read all the cheesy books about love and crushes and cute boys and how smart girls can be cute, too. In other words, I was not plowing through "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Midnight's Children," which were the Christmas Break reading for one high school class. I loved Garcia Marquez when I read him after college (for pleasure), but damn I never could have pulled that magically odd book off in high school!?!

Even in high school, when those books would (should?) have been "my speed" I was reading the Robot Chronicles, Dune, romance novels, and lots and lots of other novels for fun. Wilkie Collins, Dick Francis, etc. In school I had my world rocked by Farenheit 451, Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Flies, and All the King's Men -- books that I never would have picked up myself. I loved those books, but I never read them on my own time.

Maybe that's why I still love to read, and why I can still share that with my students to a certain extent. All this being said, the last time I tried to teach a book (not a play to college kids), I tried to teach my high school SAT kids A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, because I thought it would be fun. They were so thrown at needing to read ANOTHER book that they hated it. And they couldn't "figure it out." The article I'm referring to finishes off with a similar sentiment, one that made me so sad:

That happened to Abbey Becker, a graduate of Richard Montgomery High School who attends Emerson College. During the summer before 11th grade English class, she read Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" and enjoyed it. The joy was lost in class, however, "ripping apart sentences and trying to figure out the metaphors."

"The word 'funny' might have meant one thing to me," she said, "but it supposedly had a definite counter-directional slant to it, in the author's mind. How did my teacher know this?"


Flushing Newsweek

I've watched with interest the uproar over Newsweek's truly abysmal reporting and resulting debacle over whether or not interrogators put Qu'rans in the toilet in Guantanamo. The Media Critic column today discussed how the right has taken this issue and made it a "new club with which to beat journalists."

I think it is interesting to consider the relationship between the military and the media. After the big schism in the 60s and 70s that had Vietnam at its epicenter through to the cozy embedding in the Gulf, the two organizations have had a strange on again off again relationship. I don't think that this story was going after the administration, necessarily. (Some have compared it to the Dan Rather attack on Bush's National Guard record, which used that fellow who was clearly and loudly biased as its only source.) I think Guantanamo is likely a hotbed of horrible things, not the least of which is the complete absence of any judicial process for the majority of prisoners who remain there. Years have passed!

(As an aside, I was intrigued while reading about Saddam's undies to learn that he hasn't been charged with a crime yet! It's been over a year!?! One would think that there'd be a laundry list of charges, but he's sitting there in prison much like the people at G'mo. I have to say Due Process might be something our admin needs to remind itself of.)

Oh yeah, and Sith broke all opening weekend box office records. And I haven't even gone yet. Damn Lucas and his mind control.

Running for the shelter...

My chiquita TC brought this to my attention: Post reported yesterday that "'The number one medication in college is antidepressants,' said Richard Kadison of Harvard University, whose book about the growing mental health crisis at colleges was published last year. 'It's surpassed birth control pills.'"

WHAT!!!?? I knew this was the statistic nationwide (there are more people on antidepressants than on allergy meds), but in COLLEGE? 18-21?!?!?

This is the article's conclusion about such meds: "But psychiatric drugs such as Prozac that popped up in the 1980s and '90s have changed the culture of campus life; they've made it possible for many teenagers who wouldn't have made it to college in the past to get in."

Here's my interest: I myself have often considered getting on antidepressants to "even myself out," but have chosen the therapist route instead (I loooooove talking about myself as you poor souls know all too well). But my students are very often on meds, and often for reasons that puzzle me.

There is no doubt in my mind that some students are helped by medication -- they cope better. (And of course I'm not talking about kids with chronic depression and bipolar, etc. Good grief.) But at the same time I see all too frequently kids who cannot deal with any kind of stress (especially at an enormous research university like mine) because they have never really had to do so. They've been carefully placed in a box labeled fragile, and they buy into the label. These are the ones who cannot fathom getting a B or who cannot bear the stress of writing a paper or even meeting with me to talk about poetry. There's stress, and then there's flipping out.

So I wonder about these Students' Little Helpers. Life is really hard. If they're bonking out in college, dear god what will they find when (if?) they graduate? Is it really a good thing that some of these kids are going to gi-normous colleges? My own beloved hermano went to a tiny college because he knew he would do better at a small school. Seems sensible, yes? So why dump the jittery dude at a 35,000 person campus?!? I could go on about this, but I have to go tutor other overachieving kids whose parents send them to me on a Sunday. That's a whole other post.

In the meanwhile, my solution is to reverse the ratio of antidepressants to birth control. More protected sex, I say! That'll even you right out...


Saddam's skivvies

Lordy lordy I have never felt sorry for a dictator before, even when he didn't have the mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction (oopsie). But those pictures of that aged man in his underoos were really horrible. Typical Brit tabloid behavior, but...shudder. The Pentagon should really enjoy this round of "which American soldier is acting out this time." I am very proud of and worried for the vast majority of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afganistan, but GOOD GRIEF what is going on over there?
Bush probes Sadd's pants
President vows: I'll get to the bottom of it

The Sun:

OUR pictures of Saddam Hussein rocked the US — and were beamed around the world.

Americans woke to find the The Sun on all the news channels with our exclusive the top story on CNN.

The New York Post carried the pictures on its front page, along with our famous red logo.

It said: “Most Iraqis don’t know how Saddam can even sleep at night, but these photos show that when he does get some shut-eye, he bundles up against the cold like a street bum.”

Fox News anchor David Asman said: “This has really steamed some of the top brass at the Pentagon.”

CBS’s Early Show correspondent Steve Holt said: “They are truly remarkable pictures.”

Newspapers followed up our exclusive from Germany and Italy to India and Australia. The pictures were shown on TV in China and Hong Kong. And they were even screened in Baghdad by a Dubai-based station.

Back in Britain three 30p copies of The Sun, headlined Tyrant’s In His Pants, were cheekily put up for sale worldwide on eBay — with bids rising up to £4.40. The auction will continue for four days.

I admit it - I laughed at this. I also laughed at the insane website that is The Sun UK. But I think it's safe to say that we've lost the war for hearts and minds in the Gulf. We have actually lost ground with the Arab world. I didn't think that was possible, but we've pulled it off. Cheers all around.


Hail and farewell

Two of the most interesting people I have had the pleasure of knowing in the area are leaving. Last night a group of us feted them and wished them luck while actively mourning their departures. One always feels a bit that friends are "awfully selfish" to leave, right? How dare these interesting people leave and reduce my number of fascinating friends? This will spoil my rankings for certain.

My grief at losing Professor Friend is somewhat assuaged by having access his blog, which is written with (actually, primarily by) his wife, who is a truly lovely writer. It's one of these damnable blogs that has focus and depth all at the same time. I told you he was an interesting one! The link will be in my linkography henceforth. Although I must warn you that reading their ruminations can immediately inspire a session of "blogging shame" and make you run back to your blog to fix up the place a bit. (In [sort of] the words of Mr. Bennet in P&P, this bad feeling passes faster than it should.)

Super D, the other friend, is moving on to greener professional pastures where her photographic genius will have room to thrive. If one is in the arts, one must head to the Big Apple, I think. (I'm not sure why I'm writing with "one" so much -- probably after effects of the stupid good blog.) She is one of these people who have a skill set that any Renaissance humanist would envy. She can do and does do anything. She has also been trained to kill with her hands, I'm sure. She's also wicked and very fun to be with, and I will miss her terribly. This will inspire more Megarita in the Big Apple adventures, no doubt.


Krispy Kreme Birthday

My favorite Birmingham Boy went home this weekend for one reason -- a birthday party with a Kripsy Kreme cake. This is the only reason to fly, as well as being a litmus test for what part of the country a person's from. I've been pondering a Krispy Kreme wedding cake for myself, should I ever take the plunge...

Nina Torres of Cakes Plus in Tampa created this Krispy Kreme Doughnuts cake, a pyramid adorned with ribbons and flowers.

Even Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is getting into the wedding cake act. A trickle of a trend began last year with word spreading that doughnuts could be fashioned into a cake by making a pyramid and then adorning it with ribbons and flowers.

Best word of the day

"Wookie Hookie."

Apparently this is what NPR called people who ditched work to catch Star Wars. Love it! I'm convinced this is the same reason why Stereophonics didn't sell out.

I'm hoping to hook a wookie soon...mmmm, wookie.

Need to revist my top 5 live shows

Because man oh man was Stereophonics amazing last night! I had an actual "Beatles Head Grab & Shriek" at one point because I was so overwhelmed. This band basically rewired their sound for their latest album (which I really enjoy), so the concert was hard hard rocking. This from the band who sang "Step on my old size nines"!?! Amazing transformation. The lead singer had a little bit of a Bono-as-The Fly thing going on with sunglasses, but he was a wee guitar god last night. Truly an amazing show. Had to take an extra-long shower to get the rock smut off myself (this is that delicate amalgum of cigarette smoke, beer, sweat [yours and others], and rain in my case) this morning and I'm pretty beat, but this was easily one of the top 5 shows in my book. It was one of those experiences that made me think, "I need to go buy all of their albums. Tonight." At the very least, Momentary and I turned to each other afterwards and said, "we need to revise the top 5 lists!"

If they're coming to your town, for god's sake go see them.


Champagne hangover

So my friend ES is now DOCTOR ES, PhD. She defended in 90 minutes, setting a department record for "love fest." I was doing my duty as the "booze wagon," in a friend's words, and waiting outside with champagne and glasses. Some people cock an eyebrow at bubbly at 2 pm. I have three words for them: mi-mo-sa.

So we were swinging back bubbly and toasting the Good Doctor and weighing her ENORMOUS dissertation in our hands for a while, then sashayed down to a local watering hole for more drinks. I got home around 6 and had to lie down before getting behind the wheel. Completely inadvertant drunk. And this morning I woke up feeling as though my head was...bubbly?

I chatted with my friend S. ( might be a man for Retrodragon, actually -- devastatingly good looking and distantly related to me!) last night as I was winding down and he assured me that champagne headaches, while deadly, were "totally worth it." He's right. Champagne (especially the nice extra dry that I prefer) means celebration, adulation, and goofy toasts. It's a beautiful thing.

Hee hee hee. Front page of the Post online. I laugh, but I'm shaking with excitement for this film. I foolishly think it will give me closure, even while I know the disappointment will be incredible. Damn that Lucas for kidnapping my childhood. Posted by Hello

Return of the Bride

Well, I was disappointed to hear that our Fleet Footed Sister actually planned the whole bail-out in advance, but I'm still not angry enough. This certainly says much more about me than about the situation. I've had many a moment when I felt like pulling onto the highway and aiming the car "west" rather than to the grocery store or to dinner. Heck, it's a big country, right?

A friend of mine saw some shrink on TV considering the meaning of why she went to Vegas and why she claimed that two people kidnapped her -- she hypothesized that the woman felt that Vegas is where fast weddings happen and where things can go wrong and be ok, and that she felt as though two people were indeed controlling her life (like a mom or a mom-in-law or a fiance, for example). Very interesting analysis, but that doesn't help her now. (Hank Steuver recommended that a GPS scrunchy be attached to her from now on.)

Favorite (and last, hopefully) comment about this situation. My southern gentleman friend at work confessed that if he were the fiance, he'd likely be more attracted to her after she fled the state. "Damn, girl, you are Crazy! GET IN MY BED!" Hilarious, and a confirmation of what I've always suspected: loony is sexy.


"Are you on the rag?"

After reading through my little musical post below I had a hilarious memory of an old boyfriend. We were living together at the time. Every now and again I'd listen to some ladies on the stereo like Ani or Tori or Liz and inevitably at some point during the evening the fella would ask if I had my period, thereby explaining the women singing. God help him the times he was right...served up a vente can of whoop-ass.

Hahahahahahaha what a tool.

High Fidelity Challenge

So Momentary wanted me to do this test, which will be a sad proclamation of my banal music tastes compared to hers, but here goes! (sorry formatting is so weird)

Top 5 lyrics that move me today (I can't rank, just list):
1. "If I could be who you wanted all the time..." Radiohead "fake plastic trees"
2. "she tried to be a good girl and a good wife
Raise a good family
Lead a good life
It's not good enough
She got herself up on the 48th floor
Gotta find out
Find out what she's living for" U2, "Surrender"
3. " dreaming of the tenderness-the tremble in the hips
of kissing Mary's lips" Peter Gabriel, "Mercy Street"
4. "F*&ck you, and your untouchable face. F*&ck you, for existing in the first place,
And who am I, that I should be vying for your touch,
Oh who am I, I bet you can't even tell me that much." --Ani Difranco, "Untouchable Face"
5. " Years go by
Will I still be waiting
For somebody else to understand
Years go by
If I'm stripped of my beauty
And the orange clouds
Raining in head
Years go by
Will I choke on my tears
Till finally there is nothing left
One more casualty
You know we're too easy Easy Easy" Tori Amos, "Silent all these years"

Top 5 instrumentals
1. Goldberg Variations
2. Beethoven's Ninth
3. "Reel Beatrice" on Brothers McMullen Soundtrack
4. Miles Davis
5. (cheating -- it's opera) Carmen, Bizet

Top 5 live shows
1. U2 any time I've seen them. Especially the "Everything you can't leave behind" tour because I was so damn close
2. Radiohead back in the early 90s when they opened for Belly or something silly at the 40 Watt in Athens
3. Cure, early summer 1992 tour -- damn damn damn that was a performance
4. Beck on the Midnight Vultures tour (or maybe Weezer -- both fun)
5. The Hives -- most fun at a concert ever. "You have 20 minutes left with The Hives! How will you use them?"
honorable mentions: Public Enemy, Pixies, and Pigface; Pete Yorn

More people should hear:
1. Starsailor -- I love this guy's voice
2. Doves -- great band
3. Shins -- I cannot stop listening to them. Great great songwriting and melodies
4. StellaStar* -- I enjoy their writing and their sound more than I thought I would
5. Bloc Party -- Great tunes

Five (or 6?) Albums I listen to in full (this is something I rarely do):
1. Postal Service, "Give up" -- It's once of the few "new" bands I listen to consistently
2. Beatles, "Sgt. Peppers" -- Grew up on the 8-track; it's the only one I don't skip around on
3. Interpol, "Turn on the Bright Lights" -- revelatory album still
4. Liz Phair, "Exile in Guyville" -- angry sexy screwed up album
5. Pete Yorn, "Music for the Morning After" -- solid throughout
6. U2, "War" -- I think it's glorious

Five Musical Heroes:
1. Elvis
2. Joan Jett
3. Janis Joplin
4. John Lennon
5. Blanking....David Bowie, Bono, Puffy? :)


Music therapy

God bless my CD changer -- this is what has gotten me down from the clock tower this week. Here are a few tunes I recommend for sanity-inducement and embarassing car singing and dancing:

She's Come Undone -- the Guess Who
Check it Out -- Beastie Boys
California Stars (I think?) -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
Michael -- Franz Ferdinand
The Jump Off -- L'il Kim (because I am the one who put the range in the rover)

Back to the (make me sing the) blues books.


Grading Finals

I snapped in a committee meeting this morning. I had been up since dawn, given a Shakespeare final, started grading said final (ahhhh blue books. how I hate them), and had 78 left to go. The meeting included a "catered" lunch of inadequately portioned sandwiches (too small for lasses who'd been chugging java since 6), diet pepsi (Grrrrrrrrrrr), and a lot of humanities types who relish the sound of their own voices. (Megarita has no such flaws. I am a veritable oracle who speaks only when the spirits of truth and wisdom move me.)

I rank low on this committee's totem pole, such as it is, so I tried to keep my head down and nibble on my wee sandwich and make it last as long as I could. But this one nasally-voiced creature wouldn't stop inserting her goddamn expertise into the meeting and disagreeing with everyone. This is obviously her moment to shine. I should pity this small's woman's tiny life and smile benignly, but I really wanted to fling my scrappy crappy sandwich on its stale roll at her, nay, to cram said roll into said creature's gaping maw and silence her.

I wish I had, actually, since now my tamped-down resentment is burbling over into my poor students' blue books. "So you think you know what a pun is, jackass?!?! Do you!?! DO YOU?!?!"


On a lighter note

Since I've emptied my spleen on you already, I'll share this: went to the library yesterday and ended up lying down on the big stone steps/porches to soak up some sun. (When at Turtle U, do as the Turtles Do) When I got up, I realized that I'd crushed about 100 redbugs under me. My entire pastel ensemble was dotted with redbug corpses. My shorts had measels on the back side (but only on the left side, yeah that's the Crip side). Had to research for three hours covered in dead bugs.

I just hope these weren't the legendary redbugs from my south Georgia childhood who crawl under your skin and KILL YOU unless you paint your skin with nail polish.

Academic crankypanting

This morning's Post had two interesting editorials on academic freedom. The first discusses anti-Zionism* in British universities, and the second centers on my personal hobbyhorse, academic freedom of expression.

I was interested in the first one because of how chic it is to be anti-US in the UK right now, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of Iraq. The editorial is rather more sobering, as it ties this trend into an increase in anti-Israeli policies in academic circles. This was the exigence:

"A group of academics, many of them members of Galloway's year-old Respect Party, had gotten the Association of University Teachers (AUT) - Britain's main higher education union -- to adopt a boycott against the Israeli universities of Haifa and Bar-Ilan and to circulate a petition promoting a boycott of all Israeli universities for their alleged complicity in the mistreatment of Palestinians."

I personally think Israel has a lot to answer for in its treatment of Palestine, but to boycott academics (from publishing, conferences, funding, etc?) because they teach at an Israeli university is stunningly overt discrimination. The article also discusses a recent PhD applicant to Oxford who was rejected because the advisor wouldn't work with someone who served in Israel's army. Israel's mandatory army.

The next article, by a fellow from Georgetown, revisists the hoopla over Churchill, the fellow at Colorado who made some provocative comments about the 9/11 families, and our boy Larry Summers. Looking back, I wanted to be far more outraged at both of these guys, but I really couldn't pull it off. Churchill has freedom of speech no matter what, and the limits of his academic freedom are decided by his university. (Here's a bit from CSM about his case and new considerations about tenure.) This malarkey about other schools/academics trying to get him silenced or fired were misled and, I think, censorious. Good old Summers brought up the chestnut that men and women may be different and suggested further study. While I think his remarks were poorly chosen and showed a striking lack of considered thinking about women in academia or just in America, I don't think he deserved the no-confidence vote. It was a shrill response to what could have been a debate. You know, those things that are supposed to happen on academic campuses.

But I digress. Basically, the fellow from Georgetown argues that academic freedoms are more under attack than ever, only from within not without. It's the academics who seem to be silencing each other, much like the Brits trying to hamstring the faculty at Haifa. (The attempts at legislating students' "right to learn" seem to be springing from a similar font, although from a different side of the aisle.)

For what my opinion matters, I think there is a shocking lack of free speech on most campuses. What we used to term "political correctness" has become a much larger issue. Now it's not enough to not use derogatory language about other races and genders (jeez, how hard can that be?!), but we have created this self-serving congratulatory culture of liberal self-righteousness. Those who disagree (even foolish people, like Churchill) are pilloried rather than engaged.

As you can see, this discussion gets me all cranky. This career I really love is so tainted in the larger culture by these types of behaviors. This isn't education anymore, and that pisses me off. So, as a disturbed liberal, I call it a day. Love to hear other positions on this, so smoke 'em if you got 'em.

*I believe they're using this term to differentiate this stance from anti-Semitism. This isn't hating Jews, it's hating Israel. Just like others loathe the Bush administration but think Americans are peachy keen. I suspect the distinction is semantic.



These are not actually "my" dudes, but the frat farm that sprang up around me and Jordanbaker at the baseball game last night. We had these fabulous seats, were doing the scorecard thing, and happily sloshing back Blue Moons and hot dogs. Great evening all around. (JB can comment on the "goddamn woman next to her" herself!)

But as the evening progressed (and the temperature dropped -- holy toledo I was wearing wool in May!!?), more and more dudes appeared. I call them dudes, because their true selves emerged into full dude-dom as the evening wore on.

First it was two dudes about our age. Excellent beer yellers -- "BEER ME!" and "BEER LADY!" -- who were sitting next to each other, but then had to move so that they had a seat between them. They needed the room so they could spread their legs as far apart as humanly possible and flop their arms over chairs but still have no physical contact between them. Hilarious -- why do dudes do this? I've seen it in boardrooms and locker rooms. No one needs that much space; I don't care what you're packing.

Then the wee dudes emerged. These were Teen Dudes (whom I called The Toddlers in my mind). These guys were underdressed for the cold, high on pepsi and testosterone, and screaming obscenities as the game really fell apart for our local team. (Heck, I was kind of with them on this: "Catchers are supposed to CATCH?!? Is that why I have this enormous mitt???") Their cries were soon amplified by the additional wee dudes behind us, who started screaming that the Chicago Cubs "take it up the butt." This was repeated about 10 times in case any of us missed the subtle wit behind it.

Then, and this was the weird part, the elder dudes emerged. We had several people around us who seemed perfectly normal. A few of the redder necks, a few dads, and several DC types with their expensive leather baseball caps and LLBean windbreakers. But then, around the 7th inning, they transmogrified into OLD DUDES! It was like watching a poor rendition of the Incredible Hulk. Drunken questions screamed at each other, gesticulating with beer, and weird signals and movements that I really don't care to interpret. Was it the beer? Was it the truly terrible disintegration happening on the field? I don't know!

I do know this: game started at 7:05 pm. By 9 pm we were two of maybe 6 women left in our area, the rest of the space being taken up by dudes in full regalia. It was a sight to behold. The Circle of Dude Life, Simba. From Toddler to Geriatric, men do not change.

That's one cute meth addict!

Had an odd experience the other day. I was watching Oprah and letting my brain fizz for a while, and when I finally tuned into what she was talking about, I realized it was a program about Meth addicts. (In typical Oprah style - e.g., "there are child molesters in this country and they are coming after your kids." (actual quote) -- she said that meth is the fastest growing drug in America and it is "the devil's drug.")

Thing is, this chick looked like no meth-head I've ever seen/met/fled. This was a little blonde chick from the suburbs. She didn't even look the typical rode-hard-put-up-wet meth addict. (I'm obviously no expert, but have sadly known more than a few.) I figured they wanted a cute girl to really scare the all-female audience into locking up their daughters.

Then Boondocks this week was all about "black television." Huey decides to watch a week of "black" television and scientifically calculate results. Here's his findings from today's Post. Positive black role models on TV spend their time "talking to white people about their problems." It made me laugh, and it certainly explained the Marcia Brady Meth Addict. She was whisked off to an all expenses paid detox farm in a limo after a live intervention - Oprah told her she was not her past but her potential. (Oprah Winfrey is absolutely the person who gets to say that - I don't know another person who has gotten through more incredible hardship with so much.) I hope hope hope Marcia heard her, but it's tough to hear that when you're SEVENTEEN.



An unfortunate consequence of NPR

I've been oversleeping every morning since I made NPR my clock alarm, and I've only just discovered why. It's all the bad news. When I hear sad or upsetting reports, I tend to get up, walk to the alarm, slam the snooze, and crawl back into bed. This has gone on for up to an hour this past week.

"Today in Iraq insurgents killed 60 Iraqis..."
[Me: Growl? Sigh shuffle shuffle shuffle slam! shuffle shuffle rustle snore]

"Bolton's confirmation should move to the Senate floor..."
[Me: Argh! Pat pat pat pat SLAM pat pat trip curse rustle rustle snore]

"There are over 60 military bases in Virginia and Maryland that could be shut..."
[Me: (Disgusted sound) tromp tromp tromp CRASH shuffle shuffle grunt rustle deep breath]

But today, something rather unusual happened. I was wide awake and making coffee at 6:30. Here's why:
"Billy is a young actor with wonderful expression and tremendous agility. He's performing in his school's musical production of Oklahoma! this week, along with a fellow actor who sings the part while Billy signs it. Billy is a hearing impaired actor." [this is my sleepy remembrance of it -- Morning Edition will have it later.]
[Me: 'Wha? Delightful!' whistle whistle shuffle ball change tap tap tap OFF trot trot trot off to get the paper]

So the alarm only works when the news is good or (literally) uplifting. Since I have to give an exam at 8 am on Monday, and I can't take the risk of the news being about Iraq or about something else I find soporifically upsetting, I have to change channels. Suggestions welcome!

Last day of class brings sharing

Not really, but this amused me:

A student of mine in discussion section (yes, I am a lowly TA this semester) found me after the last day of class this week. (He's been to maybe half a dozen classes all semester. I barely know this kid's name.) He greeted me seriously and said, "This is the first discussion section I've been to more than twice in four years of college. Thank you."

Uh, you're welcome? Glad I could lure you to six. Warm fuzzies all over.


School for the Gifted

Two dim bulbs from Pennsylvania gave Washingtonians dirty underpants yesterday. Idiot savants flew OVER DC in their wee plane because they had "outdated maps." You have not lived until you've seen Hill Rats running for their lives. It's a full-fledged polyester migration. (I jest -- I would have been knocking over the elderly to get away from the Hill with a plane coming in.) These guys flew their Cesna over the VP's residence, which is about 10 minutes by car from 1600 Pennsylvania -- I'm surprised Cheney didn't "take care of things" himself, quite honestly.

When contacted by radio, the two fellows asserted their right to be flying this way and refused to change direction. Only thing that tipped the pilots off to their error? Flares shot in front of their plane's nose by F16 fighters. I am floored that these guys weren't shot down. Mildly disappointed, actually.

Thankfully (???) W was bike riding up near my area and the leadership decided they didn't need to bother him since he was out of harm's way. (This strikes me as hilarious, personally.) Everyone else was evacuated (including Joan Rivers, thank heavens, who was on the Hill for some malarkey).

It takes a very special person to fly over DC these days and then refuse to change course when confronted by sophisticated military aircraft that are loaded for bear.* Their friends are quoted as saying that, "I am utterly shocked. I think this was, honestly, just an honest mistake." Honestly.

*I think I can work the word "bear" into every post I write. It's unconsciously done, but then I re-read and realize that I might be an Ursaphile or something! Maybe it's Theodore E. Bear's secret mindcontrol, which seeps into my skull through his furry tummy on loud nights...


Remembrance of things past

After getting a chapter draft back from my director yesterday (an experience which can be likened only to being punched squarely in the nose and then being asked to congratulate your attacker on such a well-aimed blow), I teetered home to open a nice wine and make some comfort food.

I turned to a food stained collection of typewritten pages called "M's Meals," which is the compilation of my mom's recipes I typed up (on a typewriter, no less! Woooo...history) while she was still alive and making them. These were the foods my little brother and I would demand. She would never teach us how to make them -- we became remarkably proficient in using a jigger and pouring beers without heads instead -- so we thought perhaps we should write all these things down in case we should need to feed ourselves in the big bad world someday.

Unfortunately, I've discovered through the years that Mom eyeballed stuff a lot more than she said. These "measurements" of which she spoke are complete and total falsehoods. (At first I thought I just couldn't bring back the past by cooking food from my childhood, but then I realized that no, I was just doing it wrong and working off a flawed map.) So after some tweaking and several years away from the book, I opened the collection again last night and made Persian Chicken.

Now, there's very little Persian about Persian chicken. It's exotic in a south Georgia kind of way -- it's got raisins and a nice little cream sauce and spinach fettucine, which really rocked our white bread world at the time -- but incredibly gooey and satisfying the way a chicken tetrazzini can be (when it's made without fancy colorful things like pimentos...scandalous!)

So I corked the wine (a nice cab-sav with a rooster on it!), starting chopping and dicing (Vidalia onions are in season, too, which is another pure and honest delight for me -- I lived about 30 minutes away from the home of those delicious flying saucers of flavor) and sauteeing and what not. Made the dish going by the marginalia I've added to the recipe over the years: "need more pasta" "need less mayo" "why didn't someone train me how to use a knife? [bloodstain]" and so on.

Popped that first bite in my mouth and almost burst into tears. Complete time machine back to my small town. There are some things I'd rather forget about that small town and my life in it, but there are so many wonderful things that this silly casserole reminded me of. (yeah, that's a dangling "of," and I'm not gonna fix it!) A little wine, a little Persian chicken, and a little House...the only prescription for having a director write "ho-hum" on your work of staggering genius.


Smells straight to me!

New evidence that being gay is nature not nurture: From PlanetOut via Huffington.

Unfortunately, the article starts with this howler: "WASHINGTON -- Gay men's brains respond differently from those of heterosexual males when exposed to a sexual stimulus, researchers have found." [Um, exactly?]

But then it goes on to talk about how gay men respond to the smell of testosterone the same way straight women do. (Like someone in those terrible TAG ads when the women are snuggling up to recycled aluminum products [hahaha I just did a quick search for TAG to see if I got the name right, and their website is " hahahahahahahaha!].) Also, it appears that gay men give off an aroma (like a pheromone, I guess?) different than that of straight men. As one of the doctors researching this hypothesis stated, "It's hard to see how a simple choice to be gay or lesbian would influence the production of body odor."

He just looks like trouble -- this is the bear-sized one. Posted by Hello

The days of boys and pooches

It's spring FINALLY here in the mid-Atlantic, so I've been frolicking with my neighbors in and around the area. Spent last night on the waterfront in Baltimore, which is really The City On the Make right now -- more construction that you can shake a Hon at.

One thing I noticed as my pal T. and I were lounging at some yuppy bar with our Sierra Nevadas and crab dip: there are a lot of boys and dogs in that town. And damn do they get attention! One nice looking former beach bum came sauntering along the River Walk (wearing an unfortunate straw hat, but still) with his terrier mix. He had this dog trained, I think, to introduce him to women. The dog skipped over several tables of mixed groups and sat next to a two top of women, who promptly made MUCH of her. And him!

T. and I laughed at this, but later that evening when I went back to T's neighborhood, I found myself being worked over by dogs. Saw my other friend T. in the park (he's T1's delicious houseboy, I mean, housemate) with his Huskie, and before I knew it I was zeroed in on playing with her! No effort required; I really basically ignored the owner. Back at T1's house -- she has a bear-sized dog who owns my soul -- I was barely in the door when The Bear basically takes me down and sits his enormous ass on me and waits for his rubdown. I really wonder about ESP or something with this dog; I find myself doing things and fetching things for him without thinking about it. He's got that stare -- "I oooooown you. You will waaaaaalk me. Rub my buuuuutttt."

As I walked back to my car, disshevled and covered in the hair of at least two dogs, I felt a little used. It was a bit like a Walk of Shame -- trying to straighten myself out as I headed for the cover of my car and my home. It's not the boys who are working the women on the boardwalk; it's the pups.


Best date story of the weekend

My dear friend called this weekend and we chatted a bit. She, like me, is a swinging single gal and we often commiserate over unfortunate dating experiences. She's got me beat this weekend.

She went out on an online date with an artist. Got to dinner, the man has only one arm. They've been in touch for a while, and he's never mentioned it. Entire date, he never mentions it. He's an interesting guy, so they go out again. Still nothing. She called it off after the third because he was a pompous ass and because "he was really touchy-feely, especially for a guy with one arm."

(To me this is only equaled by my acquaintance who, when being charged by Canadian cops with assaulting a street performer, stated in his defense that, "the mime was talking shit to me.")

60 Minutes on a Sunday

Before being sucked into flipping between The Matrix and Return of the Jedi last night (it's my little way of keeping grading from being too tedious -- watch old movies in between papers), I caught 60 Minutes, which I haven't watched in a loooong time.

Amazing story on it about a young fella from the 'Point who's a two-tour veteran of Iraq. He's 28. Safer interviewed him, and it was as though a 65-year old man was talking out of a young man's body. Desperately unnerving for me, watching this man younger than myself speak and look out of eyes that were, for lack of a better term, steely. He was going back for a third tour because he loved his men and felt responsible for them. The story was about the newest grads from West Point and the way the Army is trying to transform in order to give junior officers more leeway and more leadership training, since those are the fellows who are fighting in Iraq while trying to run Iraqi cities. Cannot imagine. Did more for my support of the troops than anything in recent memory, but I have to say I'm worried about this old young man and where he'll be in 20 years. He's seen too much.

The other story was sadly, hilarious. Mike Wallace was interviewing Vlad "I've gotten a sense of his soul" Putin, and he was such a snarky prick to this world leader that I sat there with my jaw on the floor. He made vulgar hand gestures referring to the money dealings with Russian oligarchs, ordered Putin to "speak English," and basically told the world "I'm Mike Wallace. F*&k you." Watching Putin -- wasn't he KGB back in the day? -- watch Wallace, I was mildly concerned over the journalist's lifespan once the cameras went off. But WOW was it a train wreck to watch! 60 Minutes -- not just for the grandparents anymore!!


My name's Megarita and I want a shortcut

"Hi Megarita!"

Alley had a typically hilarious post about a computer program to grade student essays. I knee-jerked a response about how "outrageous" such a thing was and how people wanted to hire people "who could write."

That being said, I'm completely on autopilot with the last of my student papers. I'm literally skimming looking for words more complicated or original than "despair," "hope," or "tragedy." If they can say more than "howling is what dogs do" or "grief takes a lot out of a person" when discussing King Lear, those SOBs are getting an A. I had one paper last night that was so excellent in places that I thought it MUST be stolen, but I was so happy to be reading non-excrement that he got an A-. (I'm betting on some good comments he made in class, don't panic.)

So here's to the Chimps -- I've taught them well.



For those of you who have had to hear my complaints about the jungle feel of my yard -- Evil Coach Landlord has been refusing upkeep, resulting in the arrival of a herd of wild fratboys roaming the bush looking for prey -- there is right now a young man mowing! Who knows where he came from or how long he'll stay, but I just saw a couple of small mammals darting out of the tall grass! Take Back the Tenement!!

Forgive my assumptions

A student who burned to death in a housefire down the street from me was honored in a ceremony on Friday here on campus. He died in his sleep, we all hope, knocked out by the smoke. He was left in the house after another housemate lept from a top-story window and unknowingly told firefighters that the house was empty. I didn't attend the service, but I know several students of mine did -- the young man was very well liked. I saw his death as a terrible tragedy, one brought on by too much booze and poorly-placed gas grills. The sort of awful accident that unfortunately happens all the time on a campus this size. I said a prayer for the parents and friends and moved on.

Turns out the house was intentionally burned down. That boy died in a fire that was set, not accidental. That "gas" I had read about was not a natural gas grill but gasoline mixed with an accelerant.

What kind of sick freak sets houses on fire? We've just had a serial arsonist arrested who terrorized the DC area for years. Huge relief. But this is obviously a new one. I was so ready to write this death off as idiocy, tragic mistake, etc. But it was murder. Someone killed that boy and messed up his friend and destroyed all their belongings.

I'm furious and also very worried. I'm checking my smoke detectors and making sure my 12 windows are available to leap out of as needed. I'm making copies of my dissertation and scattering them among various locations here and elsewhere. I hate this guy. I hate him a lot.

Dudes redux

Drove home from a truly wonderful evening of being fed delicious food in a manse and then seeing a short film at a friend's birthday party to find an enormous orange extension cord stretching from my back deck outlet across the driveway (as though they boobytrapped my way in) and into a neighbor's backyard. (About 35-50 yards.) The Dudes had invaded, and they needed our plug to power the rocking stereo placed atop their keg.

No heroics on my part (I don't pay power - they can take it). A. and I just got out of the car, backed slowly toward the house -- so as not to startle the native dude in its habitat -- and made a run for the back door. It's like the Serengeti around here -- college campus in Springtime.


Here's to Labour!

Three terms! Heck yeah, Tony Blair! I have to confess that I was rather stunned that the blokes pulled it off this time. (This story in the Post notes that it was a close thing -- smallest victory every.) The town hall meetings and street protests against Blair were so vociferous that I was convinced the party wouldn't make it into Downing Street again. (Oh foolish Megarita forgets so soon all the screaming about Bush before the election...silent tear.)

I guess the economy in the UK (which effectively bankrupted me last month and guaranteed no travel until AUGUST - limey bastards) outweighs Iraq. If anyone reads Doonesbury, the series on the blogging soldier is rather cutting. He writes that he's thankful that anyone remembers them anymore, since "Iraq is the new Afganistan." Lordy...


NPR is a bear to wake up to

First, thanks to everyone for their nice responses to my emotional baggage drop off. I laughed at myself during the day, because my friend T had asked about my blog last weekend. He demanded assurance that mine was not a blog "that talked about really personal stuff." No, I assured him with a Bacall cackle, mine's simply about the banal minutiae of my existence.

HA! Then I cut loose with my emo-bomb! Thankfully T has the attention span of a coked-up bumblebee, so I'm not too concerned with whether he remembered to look at my blog in order to get disappointed. To those of you who did get splashed on a bit, cheers and thanks.

I recently changed my clock alarm from the soothing sounds of classical music (such a gentle waking) to NPR, thinking that a little news would do me good. Damn was I wrong! The 6 am news this morning led with "EXPLOSIONS IN MANHATTAN OUTSIDE BRITISH CONSULATE." I lept out of my bed and was in the living room with the TV on and a phone in my hand before I heard that no one was believed injured and that today is the British national election. Sheesh. My heart's only now slowing down. To ease the pain, please see one of the UK's better political parties, the Monster Raving Looney Party. (they are indeed official)

In other happier news, one of my students discussed the apocalyptic imagery in King Lear by referring to that book near the end of the Bible. You know, Revaluations? Simple perfection. I wrote that he wasn't far wrong...


Mother's Day is hell

That felt good to write.

I've not been a fan of May for many years. My own mom will have been dead 13 years later this month. (On my little brother's birthday, unfortunately. We have always been a family with a dramatic sense of timing.) Mother's Day has since then been a time when I send cards and notes to all the women who mothered me along the way -- both when my mother was alive but too drunk to be present, and after she died when I was a very angry and perplexed 17 year old.

Last night I had a wonderful conversation with some girlfriends about their moms, especially about those of them who were struggling or had been struggling with cancer. Moms can be a frustrating bunch, but the prospect of losing them is so horrific that it's almost paralyzing.

It reminded me that even hallmark holidays serve their purpose, especially when it's to thank the women who were not your mom, who helped you in spite of mom in some cases. I need a kick in the pants to say, "Go thank your mother/aunt/grandmother/sister for doing all that she did!" I don't know what I would have done without those women -- I don't want to know.

The glorious shame of a midweek hangover

It's Wednesday morning and my head is very tender. Nothing's deadlier than a girls' night out. Especially when foofoo hotel bars are serving martinis for a nickel. (Very special Bison nickels that no one has, mind you, but nickels nonetheless.) There was also wine and many margaritas. So many...

But this is the end of the semester, when we're all dealing with plagiarism, presentations (godspeed to MM, who had to write hers after we parted ways staggeringly last night), teaching assignments, funding, and a boatload of student papers. We needed a break. So we talked about boys, old and young. We trash talked about our colleagues and profs. We made a spectacle of ourselves in said foofoo hotel bar sharing waxing experiences. We decided on the hottest US President (we were surrounded by portraits of loomingly famous dead white fellas, so it was a natural turn, honest!). We also talked very seriously about health, our moms, about the ways we survive this impoverished career, and why or even if we should stick with it.

I don't know why we ladies don't go out sober, but it's never happened, and I don't think it ever will. I think we all behave ourselves so often that we need to take the edge off. Inevitably a lot more than said edge comes off, but it's worth it. Even now, when the sound of my typing hurts my fragile brain.


Hold that tiger...

Princeton faculty and students are protesting the Republican attempt to get rid of the filibuster by staging their own outside the Frist (yes, that Frist -- he's a huge benefactor!) Campus Center. The Post reports, "The campus talk-a-thon started Tuesday and continued into the weekend. Some protesters honored Senate history by reading from phone books, but many were more high-minded. They read from biographies of federal judicial nominees, poetry, the Constitution and Shakespeare's plays."

Ahhh, to be at an Ivy that can afford to thumb its nose at donors. Loverly!


Runaway Bride

I've been thinking a lot about the girl in Duluth (outside Atlanta) who hopped a bus out West the week of her enormous wedding.

First, my consideration for her depends probably too much on whether this flight was premeditated or spontaneous. Second, I think we have no idea what went on in that relationship. Third, I think it's terrifying that she had 14 bridesmaids and no one to talk to.

That being said, she obviously messed up BIG TIME.

But I think her plight is fascinating. Here's this lovely young woman who is marrying some southern scion in a princess wedding. The whole town is coming (no one does gi-normous weddings like the South. I've been a 'maid in a few) and everyone's SO DARN EXCITED FOR HER! (This former is being said in an Atlanta accent.) But she wants out, yet she feels like she doesn't have the option of calling off the wedding!

How many times do people get cold feet? All the time, I'm sure. My friends have flipped every now and again. (I have a friend in B'more now who's about to marry the wrong woman and he knows it yet he continues because he doesn't think he can do any better than this hot little blonde psychopath.) But this is something different. This is fleeing from something terrible, whatever terrible means in that addled girl's head. It's terrible enough to ruin her in some ways.

She's going to catch hell when she gets home. Her town will never treat her the same way. I would recommend high-tailing it out of the state and starting fresh. But this might be a GOOD plan. Maybe it's time to leave Duluth and the Southern Prince. Something was so desperately wrong that she couldn't ask for help or couldn't delay the wedding, etc. We embrace the expectations and wishes of others nowhere more than in weddings and careers. I feel sorry for this woman, both because she's obviously desperately unhappy and because she is now infamous. This is a doomed combination for a southern woman, even today.

How to make a movie without even trying

I spent Saturday in the company of tremendously funny people. My "DC Guys," whom I've known since I was but a wee slip of a girl (like 22, for pete's sake!), get a bunch of us together a few times a year to make short films for the 48 hour film project. It is hilarious work, but I have to say it's really work.

J and C, who typically write the screenplays between the time our team gets the "genre requirement" on Friday night and when the team shows up for filming at around 10 am, are two of the funniest people I know. I have humor envy. I've considered joining them for a screen writing session, but I've found that my Angry Estrogen Factor often hurts their humor. Just too mature, I guess...

Then we start filming with a really odd assortment of people from varying sectors of DC life -- journalists, yoga instructors, tech managers, academics...we've got 'em all. They're also really funny people. T. was the villain in our superhero film, and B. was our hero, and they're both show stealers nonpareil. I was a sassy journalist (Lois Lane type) harassing the cops and frolicking with the hero. Thankfully I own a rainbow assortment of journalist trenchcoats, so I was ready for the day.

As far as the film goes, it's a superhero plot featuring The Mime (nobody fights crime like the mime!) and his evil nemesis, the Khan to his Kirk, The Ventriloquist. It's a damn funny script, featuring gems like "Damn your mimed masonry!" and "Booze jockey! Fetch me that bottle of wine!"

We spent about 6 hours in a bar shooting and reshooting scenes for a 7 minute film. We didn't do my scenes until last, so I had plenty of time to catch up with people I hadn't seen since the last time we got together. People had bought houses, asked people to marry them, and had minor life crises since last we met. (Indeed, a former boyfriend of mine is getting engaged to his girlfriend, which is both excellent and somewhat queasy-inducing...)

So basically I get to tag along with the guys (most of whom are married to rather extraordinary women who are clever enough to not come to these) and play make believe for a day. They would howl with derision if they heard me say this, but I'm so happy they let me come with them on these adventures. I almost wish the films came around more often. Almost...