Monday, June 30, 2003

Tell us what you really think

Russian newspaper Izvestia reports Strom Thurmond's death under the headline "America's Last Racist."

If only that were true...
Canada, ho!

A cheeky Canadian outlines the case for a U.S. led invasion of Canada:
It didn't support the war, it's soft on pot and gays, its economy is rolling and U.S. troops are bored. Anyway, reasons to invade countries are no longer needed!

Here's the beef, though:

Bush's real concern will be the state of the Canadian economy. It's currently outpacing the U.S. quite nicely. Canada's budget deficits are under control while America's soar; the once-pathetic Canadian dollar is climbing steadily against the U.S. buck. Once Americans realize that even a dope-addled nation enveloped in a giggling fog can do a better job of running its economy than the Republicans are doing, it will be curtains for Bush. America's next president will be Dr. Dre. An invasion must begin now.

The Poorman is having a rough day. Ever feel like this:

"I understand nothing of politics, and I have noticed that it is a really stupid activity that leads to nothing."
- Marcel Duchamp

I feel the same way about art and chess. And school. And most things, actually.

Me, I feel that way about applying for new jobs.
From the WPost:

From the Ministry of Truth Mailbag: Writer Fredric Alan Maxwell has just received a handwritten fan letter from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) for an April 27 New York Times Magazine column about his unsettling experience of being investigated by the Secret Service. The agency was concerned about an unfriendly remark about George W. Bush Maxwell was overheard allegedly making in a bar. While being interrogated by agents, Maxwell wrote, he volunteered that he had attended a White House news conference and that "Hillary looks far better in person." The senator responded: "Dear Mr. Maxwell: I vouched for you with the Secret Service -- anyone who thinks I look better in person is a true patriot, albeit myopic. In any event, don't let this experience deter you from speaking up and out. We need to keep our sense of humor during this Orwellian time. All the best, Hillary Rodham Clinton."

On NPR, Christopher Hitchens harrumphed that there is nothing Orwellian at all about this encounter, as it does not smack of Orwell's total state in which citizens are not only forced into obedience, but enthusiastic participation. He then added that Hillary was a fat slag. (not really, but you can read between the lines. Hitchens has a chip on his shoulder the size of Montana when it comes to the Clintons.)
Wha' Happened? vol. 3

First, a brief note: The impetus driving each issue of Wha' Happened? is a simple one. When I first moved to Our Nation's Capital, I was blissfully unaware of the goings-on of those people who live and work on that stretch of real estate known as Capitol Hill. In fact, when my first roommate here in D.C. told me that she worked "on the Hill" I believe I stared blankly at her. As the months progressed and more and more stories filtered my way detailing Hill culture, I felt it was my duty to share these details with my fellow non-initiates, lest they reach their mid-20s as clueless as I. So, in the spirit of spreading the good word, I bring you volume 3, or:

The Last Plantation
Some around these parts refer to Capitol Hill as "the last plantation." This scathing moniker encompasses everything from backwards gender roles, to race relations, to working conditions. My anonymous source maintains that she cannot wear a skirt that comes a millimeter above her knee without suffering obvious leers from the older gents in the halls of congress. Rumor has it that female staffers in Tom Delay's office are barred from wearing pants; they must be ladies in skirts at all times. While the Gary Condit/Chandra Levy scandal was a shock to the nation, staffers on the Hill are rather blase with the common knowledge of which congressman is sleeping with which intern/staffer. These congressmen office in D.C., you see, and only see their families back in the home state on some weekends and during recess. And while most offices in the private sector have liberalized dress codes and conducted informational sessions on sexual harassment, and concerned themselves with safe working environments, you can still work in an office in Capitol Hill as cramped as a studio apartment (with no ventilation), and have to type through the fog of your boss's chain smoking. The Republican National Committee's "clubhouse" allegedly features an all-black serving staff in waistcoats and white gloves.
Furthermore, my own undercover infiltration activities have revealed that government offices are as unsightly as the depressing cinder-block high schools to which we ship the students in need of "alternative education." The building that houses the National Education Association is quite possibly the ugliest building this side of Moscow. Government employees wear unattractive clothing, ugly ties, have unfortunate eyewear, and the male hair style of choice is the bouffant. I know that public sector employees do not get paid a lot. But I also know that I do not get paid a lot. My friends do not get paid a lot. And we manage to put ourselves together presentably. This is no excuse. I asked my anonymous source to explain the direct link between government employee and ick. She explained that in the upper echelons of politics, looking too good can be a detriment. The shabby look is supposed to convey a sense that these public servants are dedicated to their issues and their work rather than to their image. This is laughable to anybody who has actually meant a government employee. But sure enough, my source insists that if a man's haircut is too smart or if his ties are too expensive, he is regarded with a wary eye by the public. "Who's this fancy boy up in Warshington?" they imagine Middle America saying. "He ourghta spend less time in his fancy clothing stores and more time buildin guns! I'm not paying his salary so's he can go shoppin'!" And so on. Thus, visitors will continue to experience the reaction that my recent guest had to this fair city: "Ach! Why is everyone so ugly?"


It is not unusual for me to have a righteous bout of insomnia; a good, old-fashioned tosser and turner where your mind keeps whirring away and unconsciousness is a distant possibility. Even so, last night's round of sleeplessness was a bit odd. I was preoccupied with putting together a sex education curriculum for young girls. Why this was such urgent business at 1am on a work night, I cannot fathom. But by the time I finally slipped into sleep, I was convinced that I would be a bloody brilliant sex educator for pre-teen girls.

My aunt teaches "at risk" kids in a tough high school. She's seen guns, knives, abused kids, and hordes of pregnant teens, many with their second or third child. She believes stridently in intensive intervention at a young age. She thinks we're getting to these girls too late, and coming on too softly. I agree.

I understand the parents' fears. It's probably natural to want to cover your ears and think "if you don't talk about sex with her, she won't know it exists!" And it's a quick leap from that thought to "if you teach them about sex, they'll want to do it!" But that is giving adults far too much credit. Who here first heard about sex through a school seminar? Dirty playground jokes that you didn't understand is far more likely. We need to speak with these girls as young ladies who are already aware that sex is out there, and who are capable of making up their minds about it if they have the right information.

And this is just a guess, but I imagine they would respond more to a younger woman who is speaking to them as an older sister, than a post-menopausal, asexual matriarch scratching on the blackboard and droning about "fallopian tubes." I would tell these girls that whether they are ready or not, all those boys in the next room are going to want to have sex. And that they need to be smart, and they need to be ready, and they need to have their answer prepared so they aren't caught off guard.

I would make sure they have the language in their vocabulary to tell a boy that they are not ready, or tell a boy to use a condom if they are. These are hard, hard things for an insecure pre-teen without much confidence in her fledgling womanhood to say. I don't know if I would have been able to, and I'm glad I was never in a situation where I would need to. We need to give them the script, and have it be as natural as "stop, drop, and roll" or "look both ways." I would tell them, that boy will paint himself plaid and dress in a monkey suit to have sex with you. He will definitely put on a condom.

I have lots of other things to say, but at this point in my insomnia-fueled fantasy, the mothers and fathers with burning torches and pitchforks arrive to drive me out of the schoolyard.

*sigh* I wonder what will keep me up tonight, now that I've solved the teen pregnancy problem. Perhaps I'll tackle juvenile delinquency? Or maybe it's time I took care of Israel/Palestine. Better still, I think I'm long overdue for an imaginary encounter with Ewan McGregor circa Moulin Rouge...

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Revised plans for weekend

A) Canoe down the Potomac Attempt to see play in unfamiliar neighborhood
B) Slug down booze Fail to see play because theater is in terrifying neighborhood, and you are by yourself on foot
C) Finish biography of Lenin [check!]
D) Eat leftover Chinese food with cold hot dogs Endure vulgar catcalls from motorists as you walk away from theater along the side of highway, past decrepit trucker's motel
E) All of the above at the same time Take very long walk home, happen upon outdoor screening of Mary Poppins, return metaphorically to womb and have a nice evening after all.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Found via The Poorman, a really long and quite thorough Geek Test. I felt like I checked an awful lot of boxes, but am only 24% geek. I lost points in the computer techie/role playing game/comic book areas, as well as the having-poor-fashion-sense areas. Did better with spending too much time reading and general familiarity with sci-fi authors.

Kriston, with the exception of the computer programming stuff, you will blow this test out of the water.
This weekend will SueAndNotU:
A) Canoe down the Potomac
B) Slug down booze
C) Finish biography of Lenin
D) Eat leftover Chinese food with cold hot dogs
E) All of the above at the same time

Come on now. You know.
News Item of the Day

Sorry for the previous. Sodomy law is so yesterday. DC politics yawn yawn. Telemarketer evasion - useful, but blogworthy? Doubtful. So I make it up to you with this breaking story from the Wide World of Sports for Dorks:

High-brow New Yorkers lose out to leftist radicals in biggest softball coup since Liberal Arts Council beat Business Council back in ought one. Or, as Gawker puts it, "surely one of the most excruciatingly overintellectualized softball games ever played in Central Park."

The post-game summary:
June 26, 2003 -- IRONIC detachment and pet cartoons don't win ball games. The New Yorker softball team was soundly trounced 11-6 Tuesday night in Central Park by the rag-tag squad from Harper's, led by literary editor Ben Metcalf, writer Jacob Silverstein and book review editor Jennifer Szalai. The New Yorker fielded Talk of the Town editor Nick Paumgarten, writer Hendrick Hertzberg and cartoonist Michael Crawford. The winners graciously paid for the drinks later at Tap-A-Keg on Broadway and 104th Street.

Holy Shinola

It has been a weird week in Washington. A rather conservative Supreme Court gives a half-nod to affirmative action, two thumbs up to sodomy, republicans are pushing Medicare, and now, hennypenny, the sky must be falling because a Republican in congress is actually working on a proposal to get DC congressional representation.

Democrats have brought this up time and time again, and of course it is ignored, since DC is a guaranteed Dem seat in congress. But this guy's plan would probably grant another seat to Utah (a guaranteed GOP seat) to maintain the balance of power in congress. Nothing's happening yet, but the fact that a prominent Republican is finally taking up the banner and saying things like "It's hard to make a straight-faced argument that the capital of the free world shouldn't have a vote in Congress" is a good start.
I have seen the future, and it is blonde

Got a sneak preview of Legally Blond 2 last night. As a big fan of the first one, I have to say that #2 is rather funny, but not quite up to par. The formula is stale, the writers were playing for the exact same jokes, and it seemed to take itself a bit too seriously. It was less "Election" and more....I don't know...what's a move that should make fun of itself but doesn't? And I don't remember the first one being quite this cheesy. I actually cringed with embarassment when Elle Woods has a heart-to-heart soul-wrenching late-night monologue with Honest Abe at the Lincoln Memorial. That said, there are some hilarious moments, most involving the brutal mockery of Washington DC suits. That redeems it well enough for me. SueAndNotU gives it 2.5 stars.

Oh, plus I won a Legally Blonde 2 wife-beater. I had to whack some short girls to get it. I rule.
Quote of the day

From Andrew Sullivan:

Sodomy legal in South Carolina, Strom Thurmond dead. On the same day. It's a funny old world, isn't it?
The government redeems its existence

Starting today, you can register for the national "Do Not Call" list by going here. This government initiative, years in the making, should prevent up to 80% of unwanted telemarketer calls, according to the NYT.
Grand old flag

Buried at the end of today's New York Times article on the overturned sodomy law is a poignant moment. The article describes some gay pride celebrations that took place in cities across the country. The following scene occurred in Castro, San Francisco's famous gay district:
As word of the ruling spread in San Francisco, a group gathered at the corner of Castro and Market Streets, where a rainbow flag — a symbol of the gay movement for the last 25 years — had regularly flown.

A small chorus of gay military veterans sang the national anthem as the rainbow flag was gently lowered, replaced with an American one.

Now, it takes something and I mean something to bring down the gay pride flag in Castro. Something big. Something like gay men and women finally feeling like Americans, instead of marginalized criminals. A big victory for the America of equality and justice, and a big defeat for the America of bigotry and fear. Hear hear.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Ha Ha, Suckers!

Total electric bill for this month: $7.94

I, SueAndNotU, have spent more money on a martini than on an entire month of utilities.

It is a damned good year to be gay.

I think we're seeing the turning of the tide on this issue. Now I'm going to go find some Southern Baptist websites and start laughing.
A rare slip into the personal. Don't get used to it.

Since I already betrayed the fleeting homesickness that occassionally descends, this:

The Scene: Sidewalk table of a neighborhood bar. Warm air still feels strange on the newly bared skin of all the girls flouncing down the streets, showing off skirts that have been waiting angrily in drawers through May and June. Waiting for a friend, I am eavesdropping on the conversation at the next table.

The girl and her boyfriend/husband/fiance will soon be moving to Austin. Her companions ask about the town. What is it like? Where will you live? Is it near the University? Do they have more houses or apartments there? Are they big or small? How are the restaurants? Isn't there a lake? Oh, it's a river, but they call it a lake? How silly.

I want to interrupt to answer these questions, but she knows all the right answers. She's buying a house in Hyde Park. She knows how many blocks that puts her from the university, and how many from the river/lake. She knows the years they were built, and what restaurants are nearby.

I feel myself becoming anxious and jealous.

But then I remember two nights ago, taking the bus up to the park to lie in the grass and listen to old rockers wailing on stage. And how, when walking back, I passed the crowds of people shucking crabs and eating falafel and sipping drinks at the sidewalk tables lining the streets. And then, when it was darker still and I was five minutes from home, I looked up at the National Cathedral which at night loses the too-new sheen it has during the day and instead looks like something ancient and mysterious.

And remembering all that, I didn't mind the conversation next to me anymore. Because she didn't mention Curra's. I probably would have started crying like a little girl if she'd mentioned Curra's.
Quote of the Day

Overheard last night at 18th & T, table next to mine:

"If being at home is a major accomplishment, having a dog is a bad idea."

It's Biennale time

Why am I not in Venice?

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Men and women sure are different! vol. II

I'm working on a hypothesis that runs like this:
Ladies night at the gay bar = boy's night out?

You see, I've been thinking about women and gay bars, and how women love going to gay bars when they want a fabulous night out with their girlfriends free of any testosterone assaults. (DISCLAIMER: Do not feel maligned, male readers. Women do sometimes want to go out and meet men. I am only referring to certain women and the occassional mood of not-wanting-men-to-talk-to-them. For me this mood is always, but I know I am abnormal in this.) The appeal is obvious and hardly needs stating: chartreuse/fuschia colored drinks + girlfriends + non-threatening men + no body image anxiety/paranoia/competition = fun night out. This is not rocket science.

I heard a story some years back and scoured the web for an article about it. Apparently, in response to rising urban crime and domestic abuse problems, the quirky Mayor of Bogota declared an official Ladies Night Out. As part of this social experiment, for one night all men were subject to a curfew, and lady police officers sent home any errant knaves. A sort of vigilante police force, "crowds of women and girls took over bars and restaurants and chanted "Go home!" to men they saw." There was practically zippo crime for the evening, and I remember listening to women rave about the wonders of just one night on the town without the complication of men. (Of course, this can only work in occassional one-night spurts, as women ultimately *do* like having men around. Sometimes.)

But this is all a convoluted way to get to my first hypothesis. So - when women have "ladies nights" it is a time for them to enjoy each others' company and ignore for one evening the presence of men. Do men have something similar? When you go on "guys nights," are you essentially doing the same thing, or are you still looking to find a lady? Or does it just depend on the guy? Is there ever a time that you all want to get together and not have to worry about being nervous or uncomfortable or pressured to get a phone number? Do you get in that mood but never express it, lest your friends call you a [female genitalia]?

I guess it boils down to this:
Do men ever want to get the hell away from women?

Corrections: Do SINGLE men ever want to get the hell away from women? I have no doubt that attached men very much want to get the hell away from women now and then...
Pop Quiz

You wake up in the morning in Washington DC to the sounds of NPR informing you that you are under a CODE RED!
Quick. Are you:
A) Under terrorist attack NOW! Find the MOTHERFUCKING duct tape!
B) Encouraged to drink a lot of water and avoid physical exertion.

The answer is B, but that doesn't mean your first conscious thoughts more closely resemble A. On this first hot day of summer, you might be excused for not knowing that the Ozone weather alert uses the same color coding scheme as the Department of Homeland Security.
Shouldn't somebody look into this?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Found via a complicated web of links and what-not: Ten Modest Proposals to Help Ann Coulter Get a Date.

This is actually a Salon article from a few years ago, but appropriate for the times now that the Right-Wing Wacko has started her own blog somewhere. Apparently Mizz Coulter was whining about her inability to find dates in D.C. The writer, a Mister Thor Hesla of the District of Columbia, has some useful suggestions that include:

--Quite injecting yourself with your own urine
--Have a beer
--Quit being white (with a hilarious diatribe on the fact that there are a LOT of people in DC who are not white and do not behave as the men she desribes behave. "Ann, if Washington had the demographics that you ascribe to it, it would have two senators all its own, and a real live congressman who could vote. Because if it were white, Republicans would give a ... ")
--Blow this sentence up on a photocopier and tape it next to your refrigerator:
"Men Don't Want to Date Castrating Bitches Who Make Their Livings Peddling Tales of Male Weakness."

It is HI-LARIOUS. Go read.
Andrew Sullivan is justifiably appalled at Dick Gephart's inexplicable assertion that when he's president, "we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day." That a presidential candidate could ever suggest that executive order would overturn Supreme Court decisions is indeed shameful. Almost like a presidential candidate not knowing that Social Security was a federal program, or say, not knowing the difference between Slovakia and Slovenia1, or perhaps thinking that the executive branch interprets law 2. Some how I think GWB wins the expectations game here. Expectations are so low for GWB's mental gymnastics, all he has to do is avoid drooling on himself in public, and everyone considers it a great success. Yes, I'm embarassed that Gephardt would say such a thing, but let's have some consistency here! I've never seen Sullivan criticizing Bush for his complete failure to grasp the most basic tenets of constitutional law, the legislative process, and English grammar. Slam neither or slam them both, but you just look silly to pick and choose.

1"The only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned firsthand from your foreign minister, who came to Texas." [6/22/1999 - Bush was referring to his meeting with the prime minister of Slovenia. Comment made to a Slovak journalist]
2"The legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law." [11/22/2000 - Comment made in Austin, TX]

Monday, June 23, 2003

A new perspective

I have watched Sex and the City backwards forwards upside down, but never until last night have I watched it with real, live single women in their mid-30s. I was always sure that the show provided quality entertainment, but now I am convinced it provides a much-needed public service. Lord help them when the season ends...

Office poll:
--Does Charlotte marry Dr. Evil?
--Will their wedding cost ONE MILLION DOLLARS?
--Does Aidan leave his new wife for hot vixen Carrie?
--Could he be cuter?
--In past episodes Miranda has had male ejaculate in her hair, now feces on her forehead. What other unpleasant substances will grace Miranda's face?
--Does Samantha age gracefully, slipping quietly into the dark embrace of menopause?
--Or does she rage, rage against the dying of the light?
--Seriously, why is Charlotte dating the Egg-man? I missed this story-line.
Office Invites

Would you go to something called:

Ice Cream Social and Branding Initiative?

Me neither.
Everything is Going Wrong!

I was going to use this space to make a short catalog of Everything That is Going Wrong in the world, when stymied by a grammatical conundrum. Damn. What a great last half of a sentence. ahem. sorry. Can things go wrong? Can wrong be an adverb? You wouldn't say "things are going wrongly." Perhaps I should say "Everything is Going Poorly!" but that doesn't quite get the indignation across. "Everything is Going to the Shitter!" crossed my mind, but, eh, it just seems a bit old man-ish for my taste.

And now that I've gone through all that trouble, I no longer have the energy to catalog all the Things Going Wrong(ly). You know them anyway. Israelis and Palestinians. John Ashcroft. Bus fares up $0.10.

But here's one you maybe didn't know. In Russia, Putin's Press Ministry just shut down TVS and replaced it with state-controlled all-sports channel. According to the Moscow Times:
TVS was the last private national channel, and its closure gives the Kremlin a monopoly on the airwaves ahead of December's parliamentary elections and the March presidential vote.

This is all not terribly surprising, given Putin's record, and the TVS chief's Spidey Senses are telling him something is a bit funny: ""I have a persistent feeling
that the events are guided by somebody's evil will."

Yevgeny, I feel that way ALL the time. All the time.

You know, I tried to take care of this problem. My Fulbright research proposal involved the imperiled independent media sector but alas, they seemed to believe that this wasn't necessary, and now you see what they get? I expect an apology forthcoming from the Moscow Fulbright Commission any day.
Damn, damn, damn

I really miss Austin today.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Donald "Tact on legs" Rumsfeld opened his big fat mouth again and pissed off D.C. officials by suggesting "that the homicide rate in Baghdad is lower than that in the nation's capital."

I note that this statement from Rumsfeld coincides unpleasantly with the beginning of the "City Living, DC Style!" campaign that is intended to attract "hip, new residents" to the district. Somewhere, some PR executive just cut his wrists. "Only slightly more murders than Baghdad!" is not a glowing testimonial.

City delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote to Rumsfeld:
"Your remarks are particularly injurious to our citizens here," she wrote. "D.C. residents are risking their lives in Iraq, even though District citizens have no voting representation in the House and no representation at all in the Senate, and even though our residents are second per capita in federal income taxes."

Hey! That's right! We all sit here in the nation's capital with no more rights than the citizens of Guam, but higher taxes, CRAPPIER weather, a murder rate that is apparently worse than a war-torn nation, AND our own Secretary of Defense is mocking us? Good Lord, somebody get me a donut. It's not a good day when Rumsfeld says "Hey Iraqis, you've got it rough, but come on. It's not like it's D.C."
Kriston and I have been having an ongoing disagreement about New York's smoking ban. I'm anti-ban because I disagree with any sweeping, draconian measure pushed through against the will of the people (unlike CA's ban) that doesn't address something dire like, say, civil rights. Kriston, on the other hand, is for the ban because, well, he thinks people getting lung cancer againt their will is worse than people having to follow legislation against their will. Softy. (this is all very ironic since he's a long-time smoker and I only indulge one cigarette every 6 months to remind myself why I don't.) Anyway, via Andrew Sullivan, here's a British New Yorker's take on the ban. In it, there are some amusing tidbits, such as the fact that Mayor Bloomberg's approval rating has plummeted to 24%, and that he was booed when marching in the recent Puerto Rican parade. Bars and restaurants are suffering from dwindling business. Noise complaints from residents around bars have shot up by 160% since everyone has to go outside to smoke, and the streets are carpeted with cigarette butts.

I know that it's hard to argue against serious public health issues, and I suppose my aversion to this law is more instinctual and visceral than logical. But my friends all really do look sexier when they smoke, and I don't want to take away one of the few things we have going for us.
Anthro 101

In my anthropological journey deep into the heart of McLean, VA, I was lucky enough to have a sighting of a rare creature--so rare, in fact, that its very existence has been called into question, and the stories surrounding it blur the line between myth and reality. Nevertheless, I believe that I did, in fact, come into contact with the elusive:

Straight Male Boutique Hair Stylist

With his fantastic plumage and colorful pelt, he is often mistaken for the far more common Flaming Gay Male Boutique Hair Stylist. But a trained eye can spot the difference. For instance, the SMBHS is extremely insecure with his masculinity, and will take the first possible opportunity to advertise his attraction to the opposite sex. Consider the following scenario:
"Hi, I'd like you to chop all my hair off and make me look fabulous."
"Do you live in D.C.? My ex-girlfriend lives in D.C. Man, D.C. girls are awful. They are always whining and very snobby. Boy oh boy, have I dated a lot of D.C. girls. They are very difficult, these many, many, many girls that I have dated."

Furthermore, the SMBHS will attempt to affiliate himself with stereotypical male interests as much as possible. Like so:
"I like going to football games. Yep, just me and the guys. Drinking beer. Can't go too far wrong there. Hey, did Simms get picked up in the draft?"
"Simms can suck it."
"Yeah. I have another client who is from Kentucky and hates Duke. I like basketball. I also like drinking beer while watching basketball. With the guys."
"What is that divine conditioner you're using?"

Finally, the SMBHS will tactically acknowledge the preponderance of gay males in his profession, in order to erase the suspicion that he is merely unaware or closeted or sexually conflicted:
"Man, the last Hair Show I attended was down in Myrtle Beach. I was like, one of two straight guys there. We just sat and watched all the gay guys chase after each other."
"Well that sounds lovely."
"I can't wait for the next Hair Show next month. It's in Vegas. Dude, it's going to be awesome."
"I am paying you an awful lot of money. Can you just not say "dude?" Can you at least act gay so I feel I'm getting my money's worth? I feel for your awkward position, but the plain fact is, I don't feel comfortable with a straight man cutting my hair. I have stylist heterophobia issues."

With these telling signs in mind, you too may one day be able to spot, identify, and tag your very own Straight Male Boutique Hair Stylist.

Wha' Happened? (the a-political issue)

Today's news in Pitchfork addresses an issue of concern that came up last weekend.

Grrl rockers extraordinaire Sleater Kinney are opening for Pearl Jam??
Pitchfork sez:
If this summer's tour itinerary is any indication, "opening for one of the biggest rock acts on the planet" is the new "being so fucking indie it hurts." At least that's what we assume to be the case for Sleater-Kinney taking on the warm-up slot for Pearl Jam. Idlewild and the Buzzcocks have both opened for the Seattle grungedads earlier this summer, proving that, if nothing else, Ed Vedder's heart is in the right place.

Okay, fine, but the arena is not the right place. As "Bubba" (not his real name) in Dallas this weekend pointed out, "I heard them Sleater Kinney girls when they opened up for Pearl Jam. They shore sucked. I couldn't unnerstand a word they say-ed."

I can't really argue too much with that, I would think they sucked if I heard them a Starplex ampitheater too.

But they rocked the house at the 9:30 club a few months ago. And, before any of you men out there start sassing me about grrl rock, I'd like to point out that more men than women were rocking out at that show. By far. I need a bass.
*cough* shamesless plug *cough*

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Teste TV

My reaction thus far to the announcement that Viacom will be launching the first "men's television network" has been: "whatever."

In my social calculus, the men that really want to watch a cartoon pamela anderson fight crime all day are roughly equivalent to the women who want to watch cancer survivors crying on Oxygen all day. There's your network, go have fun. I'll be over here watching America's Next Top Model.

But, seeing how I'm all testy these days, it was only a matter of time before something about the whole endeavor annoyed the crap out of me. And voila! According to Kevin Kay, an executive at the new Spike TV:
"There's this resident, I don't want to say anger, but it's a feeling of disenfranchisement" among men about TV these days.

Even the NYT couldn't swallow that one without a choke. The article couldn't help a brief editorial line: "That may seem less than just, given dude-zones like ESPN, CNBC and the Playboy channel."

Look, if you want to build your little "No Girls Allowed" treehouse, more power to you. I have bigger fish to fry, and you'll probably flop in 3 months anyway. But do you really have to justify it by assuming this retarded persecuted man posture? Have you ever SEEN a beer commercial? It is nothing less than an assault on my already beleaguered intelligence to suggest that men are somehow underrepresented on television. And to claim that the 3 women's networks that you skip over religiously are somehow disenfranchising you? To paraphrase Chris Rock, "If you're losing, who's winning? Cause it sure ain't us!"

Finally, I have to say that this balkanization (sat word for me!) of television is a bit discouraging. I understand the purpose of special-interest networks for different races, languages, etc.--they probably make good profit sense and community sense. But now we're even dividing men and women apart on TV. Can't there be something to highlight our shared interests? Do we really have to re-hash this whole "Men and Women Sure Are Different!" point over and over? I wish we could concentrate more on emphasizing aspects of our shared humanity. In other words, more Daily Show!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Stop them you fools, they're getting away!

Diabolical genius Orrin Hatch has devised a diabolical plan to thwart the evildoers who illegally download music files:

"We will destroy their computers! BWAHAHAHAHA!!" he announced, twisting his black moustache.

Or as Salon more judiciously phrases it:
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.

And Senator Hatch will not be stopped until ALL the plagues that infest our society have been squelched by REMOTE DESTRUCTION. To that end, his team of diabolical mad scientists is working around the clock to develop:

--Exploding credit card receipts that detonate when a server is under-tipped
--Ejection seats on city buses that catapult citizens out of the bus when they fail to vacate their spot for the elderly/handicapped
--Fire bombs installed in car engines that burst into flames when the driver fails to come to a complete stop at stop signs/doesn't use blinker.

You can purchase Orrin Hatch's Christian Music recordings here. Oh, hell, just go get them from Kazaa.
B or C-list celebs in my sphere of connections on FRIENDSTER

Neal Pollack
The cute guy from Call and Response
William Kuehn from Rainer Maria (but no Caithlin! Damn!)
Seth from Les Savy Fav

D-list or below

the Trial of Dead guys
Looks like All of Canada will eventually allow gay marriages. And Tony Blair is introducing a bill that will grant full marriage rights to gays in England (though they won't call it marriage) within the year. This is going to be an interesting issue for the United States, who has always recognized marriages performed in Canada. Will they change the laws to make a specific exception for same-sex marriages? What about other countries? Could an American marry a Frenchman in Canada and then get French citizenship through marriage laws? Canada really opened a can of worms for the world. Ha. Ha.

And as Andrew Sullivan notes, both Blair and Chretien are Christians. But there is room in their Christianity for human dignity and equality, not to mention adherence to rights outlined in their respective constitutions. Americans, and those American Christians who use their faith as an excuse to disenfranchise a group of people, and those legislators who pander to this element in society, ought to be ashamed.

I wish I had the pride of saying that my country was on the vanguard of this important progressive change, but instead I just hope they don't miss the boat entirely.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Dear Boss,
Please stop making me do things for you.
It is really cutting into my blog time.
Look at this crap I have posted!
Ol' Dirty Aguilera. Dave Eggers yawn yawn.
What has happened to Hitchens? To the Hip-Hop RoundUp? To sports color commentary? To Men's Journal analyses?
This. Must. Stop.

Thank you,
Faithful Employee
I am beautiful, no matter what they say....

is that dirt???
No he didn't!

Contrary to reports, "Dave" is not dropping his last name for his upcoming novels. We apologize to Mr. Eggers and all involved for the misunderstanding.

(via Gawker)

Monday, June 16, 2003

Everybody's fave media whore, Dave Eggers, in his latest stunt to ensure that somebody, somewhere is keeping his name in print, has announced that he is dropping his last name. His next novel will simply read: "By Dave."

Shameful. Everybody knows that "Dave" means Dave Thomas and Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers.
Have you no respect???

Apologies. Now!

Friday, June 13, 2003

post voted most likely to be deleted

damn. Has Dallas gotten hipper since the days of scorn, or do I just miss my ol' friends? They took me to a bar that filled my old-school craving for the clash, the ramones, and the velvet underground all at once with an adam-endorsed scotch to wash them down. Either way, Happy Day of Proclamation of Russia's State Sovereignty Birthday to me.

Inside joke of the night:
"Pardon me. I was metaphorically cleaning my penis."

Thursday, June 12, 2003

In Honor of the Day of Proclamation of Russia's State Sovereignty, SueAndNotU will be in Dallas until Monday visiting her mommy. But she may check in from time to time if the cultural delights of Dallas fail to captivate her attention, or if post-enchilada malaise sets in early. She hopes she remembers how to drive a car.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

They're here, they're queer, and watch out Rick Santorum, they're getting feisty.

Good for Canada. A Canadian court ruled in favor of gay marriage, allowing the first gay couple to marry and enjoy full equal recognition and treatment under the law. Public opinion in Ontario favors gay marriage rights by a very slight majority. So the courts are a little ahead of the social curve on this, just as they were for civil rights in America. And I believe the ruling will help advance acceptance and inclusion for gays as Civil Rights legislation did for African Americans in the 60s. When Canada fails to fall into an abyss of bestiality and incest (though what wouldn't you give to see that?), it will be harder for legislative bigots to mouth off about homosexuality destroying the social fabric.

And good for Rosie O'Donnell's gay brother, a freshman senator in NY's state legislator. One of Daniel O'Donnell's Republican colleagues spoke against a bill that would protect gay students from harassment on school grounds by declaring that children need to get a consistent message that homosexuality is not OK. In response, O'Donell shouted "You keep your homophobia out of this chamber and you keep it out of this building and you keep it out of the government. We are here. We are your brothers and sisters. We deserve respect and we demand respect and we're going to get it."

Goddamn right.
Tomorrow is an important holiday, but I'll be travelling. So I'd like to take this time to wish you all a Happy Day of the Proclamation of Russia's State Sovereignty! Everybody treat yourself to a shot of vodka tomorrow.

Today in my GWB Calendar:

"They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."
--11/2/2000, St. Charles, Missouri

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Forbes magazine, which clearly has its finger on the pulse of America far more than the questionable Men's Journal, has dubbed Austin #1 in its Best Cities For Singles poll. Austin garnered high points for Cool factor, but fared at bit worse on "culture."

I know that rampantly single smokin'-hot Matty may be distressed to hear that Austin is as good as it gets, but the article does note that 57% of Austin males are single. So just chalk it up to all the competiiton.

To my surprise, the DC Metro area came in 4th, scoring high points for culture, nightlife, and singles. But it appears I'm not the only one to underestimate what I guess are DC's charms:
So what prevents the metro from winning our ranking every year? The reader poll. Unlike other cities that finish on the top of our ranking, the Washington metro elicits a ho-hum response from its own residents. Some complain of the singles scene being too snooty, careerist and politically charged. Both men and women say there is a dearth of the opposite sex. Maybe they just don't know how good they have it.

No home-team pride. Reminds me of highschool.
More good news for SueAndNotU!

From Salon: Light drinking may cut diabetes risk.

I used to tell my diabetic former-roommate to keep her diseased germs away from me and throw sugar packets at her to ward her off. Now I know I was practicing a natural, homeopathic defense against her cooties! Yaayyyy! (don't feel too bad for her. she's been scattering hypodermic insulin needles in my car for years and years. she's just lucky I never got pulled over by any snoopy cops.)

(has anybody noticed the plethora of "studies" recently proving that booze is good for all kinds of health reasons? methinks somebody at anheuser busch has been administering research grants to scientists, and I'm all for it.)

(is it dumb to use a bunch of parantheses in a row? am I whispering or something? what the hell?)
Oh! Someone understands me! Searching for my new Barton Springs, I read this article on area lakes that are good for swimming. The article began its lake advocacy by explaining some of the drawbacks of the ocean:

Here's the problem with the ocean: It wants to kill you.

The sea is a bouillabaisse of death. It is swimming -- literally -- with toothed, barbed and tentacled meanies. There is a seashell so toxic that merely touching it can freeze an adult's heart (at least, according to an episode of "Hawaii Five-O" there is). There are red tides, rip tides, killer whales and hurricanes. Five days in an open boat and you're beef jerky in sunglasses. What's the deadliest occupation in the United States? Crab fishing.

As beach season begins, it's worth remembering this: One little shudder of the sea, like a horse shivering its hide, and a rogue wave can snap your back on the coral and sweep your rag-doll remains under a rock where they become a buffet for bottom dwellers.

I'm not scared of the ocean killing me, but I definitely agree with the sentiment regarding the GROSS DISGUSTING NASTY NASTY ocean denizens.
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Abstinence Pistols

Headline in the NYT today: Christian Bands, Crossing Over. Of course I instantly thought: "Quick! Send them back!" But my curiosity won out and I shortly found myself reading in astonished disbelief about a new musical genre: Christian punk. Like other unnatural hybrids such as tequiza or compassionate conservatism, this music probably should not be. Christian rock was bad enough, but this article suggests that Christians are now experimenting in hardcore. I searched the article in vain for what I really wanted to know: lyrics. While there is certainly no set definition, rock and punk rock have common roots in an anti-establishment ethos. It's supposed to be sex and drugs and sweat and intensity--to paraphrase Edina's rant from Absolutely Fabulous "Who chokes to death on their own vomit now? Nobody!" And even though straight edge didn't go in for the sex and drugs and booze part, there was a radical political agenda to take up the rebellion banner. I am dying to know what these punk rockers rage about: "GO TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS!" "HONOR THY MOTHER AND FATHER" "TRICK YOUR CLASSMATES INTO LOCK-INS BY OFFERING FREE PIZZA!"

In the interest of investigative journalism, I went to the premiere underground Christian punk site on the internet. I still was not able to find any answers about lyrics. But there was an enlightening discussion on the various bulletin boards. "DARWIN SUX!!! IM[sic] NOT A MONKEY ,dont[sic] believe all of his lies!!!" ranted one young scholar.

There was also a sort of manifesto defending the genre. It ran something like this: nobody has a monopoly on punk rock, it is all about creativity. So Christian punks can be real punk rockers. But we should not spend all our time defending ourselves as such against the naysayers, because we need to spend more time thinking about God.

One of the bulletin board topics from these true punk rockers was entitled "Fugazi." Curious, I investigated. The verdict? "this band's pretty cool, at least the one song ive heard by them, im gonna d/l some more songs by them."

Wow. A new discovery is made. Yes, I'm aware the kid is probably 12, but can't he just start rebelling like a *normal* teenager? Is this to be the scourge of our generation? We grow up to have a bunch of kids who rebel against our sensibilities by attending youth group rallies?

Which reminds me. Did you know that Ian MacKaye is something like 40?

Monday, June 09, 2003

From the Washington Post
As Reagan's budget director, David Stockman, later acknowledged, the real intent of the Reagan tax cuts was to produce a "strategic deficit that would give you an argument for cutting back the programs that weren't desired."

My conspiracy theories are getting less and less unfounded, no?

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Why I love Christopher Hitchens, part XXI

Some time back, I blogged profusely (doesn't that sound like a symptom of something awful? "Doctor, I'm blogging profusely and running a fever, is it serious?") about Christopher Hitchens standing out among essayists as one daring to put forth a strong opinion in a field of wishy-washy peers. When I saw him speak in person some time ago, I realized that his fierce pronouncements and fiery opinions aren't just reserved for his work in print. So I was hardly surprised to find some classic Hitch moments in this summary of a festival that featured Mr. Hitchens on several panels.

One bold audience member asked the Hitch what he thought of the treatment of the Dixie Chicks after their illustrious anti-Bush statements. Hitch's reply:
"Each day they dig up dead bodies in personal death camps run by a Caligula dictator," Hitchens shouted, "and I'm being asked to worry about these fucking fat slags - do me a favour!"

Later, Hitchens expanded on this sentiment:
"The reason I like P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde is that they teach you to take frivolous things seriously and serious things frivolously," Hitchens replies. "It's all a complete farce, you understand, we're born into a losing struggle. In the meantime, I think, I must show some contempt and defiance and the best means of doing that that I know are irony and obscenity."

Laughter, applause. "Which is why it was a mistake for that man to ask me about those slut Dixie Chicks," he adds.

Of course, by refusing to comment on the Dixie Chicks due to the far greater importance of mass graves, he could be accused of taking serious things seriously and frivolous things frivolously, but I'm certainly not going to argue with him. Nor am I going to get into a huff over his misogynistic attitude towards the Dixie Chicks. For one, the Hitch is not Sean Hannity, and has proven himself as a tireless advocate on behalf of the underrepresented and repressed; secondly, it was damn funny, and thirdly, I hate New Country anyway. Between Fleetwood Mac and the Smashing Pumpkins, Landslide has been taken care of brilliantly and their nasally twangy selves aren't going to add much to the canon.

Friday, June 06, 2003

My law firm has a fairly traditional corporate structure; of the 50 secretaries employed here, 49 are women. They are almost all middle-aged, most have grown children, and busy themselves with the same concerns of secretaries everywhere: shrieking over baby pictures, losing their minds when the fridge is out of Diet Coke, sniping at each other behind backs, and convincing themselves that the other secretaries are out to ruin them via vicious plots such as failing to reserve a conference room. There are also several young female attorneys at my law firm, many of whom are doing the career-woman's dance of balancing new babies, working husbands, and a stressful career at a competitive law firm. One of the secretaries, we'll call her "Pat," was assigned to work for two of these young female attorneys. Both attorneys are extremely accomplished women who are doing a lot of good work so early in their careers. (Both are also preggers, incidentally, and arranging conference calls around vomit-sessions.) "Pat" is one of the more, ahem, vocal of the secretaries, and could not keep the indignity of working for these attorneys to herself.

"They could be my daughters," she whined. "It is not right that they can be telling me what to do." She proceeded to rant about how these female attorneys were disrespectful and rude and, well, let's not dissemble, bitches.

One of these attorneys is well aware of her secretary's attitude. "I know she hates us," she said. "And I try to be sensitive to her discomfort and ask her politely when I need things done. But I am extremely busy, and sometimes I have to be short. I don't always have the time to hold her hand or massage her ego when I need something copied."

To top it all off, "Pat" has made it perfectly clear that she would have no problem whatsoever working for a man who was her junior.

And I can safely say that this attitude is not rare. It's hard enough for women trying to succeed in the careers and in motherhood without having other women bring them down. When even a young man is curt or barks at his secretary, they blithely accept it. He's busy, he's a grouch, oh, those men. You know how they are. He's a very important man. But there is a sense that women should be the appeasers, the hand-holders, the ladies. The secretaries don't take kindly to these pushy bitches.

Of course, there's jealousy. Pat has groused to us younger gals that we have opportunities in this world that she never dreamed of. So I can imagine it might be painful to be a woman in your 50s who, as a secretary, has reached the pinnacle of her professional career. She has probably comforted herself by saying, "this is the sacrifice I made to be a mother," and now she works for women who seem to have it all: career, families, success, secretaries. Even so, I wish there was some sort of sisterhood solidarity between these women rather than competition. After all, Pat is right--those attorneys could be her daughter, and her daughter could be an attorney even if Pat never got to. It's progress. Surely that could be a source of pride rather than shame?
Why my boyfriend is alone. very alone.

Kriston has recommended that to pass the time this weekend, I ought to check out a screening of artist Matthew Barney's "Cremaster" series which is playing in my neck of the woods. I knew Barney's films were on the experimental side, but I can handle it. I liked the surrealist Bunuel/Dali films I'd seen, and I tend to have a pretty high tolerance for artistic wonkery, all things considered. Even so, I was a bit wary after reading the synopsis of Cremaster 1 offered by the theater:

On a blue astro-turfed football field, one woman wields mini-Goodyear blimps, while others dance in geometric patterns.

Accompanied by the following still shot:

The Cremaster series will be playing in Austin at Dobie in the upcoming weeks. Anybody want to place bets that K will be attending those gala openings solo?
-I am too young to be this anxious about my career.
-By helping powerful attorneys screw over helpless innocents, I am only reinforcing my commitment to the non-profit sector, and am anyways accruing a massive karma debt that can only be relieved by do-goodering in the future.
-everything happens for a reason, and I can choose to believe this for the moment even though I really believe it is complete hogwash and a mantra only repeated by losers to make themselves feel better.
-Unstimulating job leaves more time for me to work on my novel.
-Reminder to self: start writing a novel.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

These young ladies certainly have their work cut out for them. It's a plot straight out of a Drew Barrymore flick, but these 14 year old girls are teaching FBI agents searching for on-line pedophiles how to talk like 14 year old girls.

It's really rather cute.
Check it out:

During the past year, the three have been teaching agents across the country how to communicate just like teenage girls, complete with written quizzes on celebrity gossip and clothing trends and assigned reading in Teen People and YM magazines. The first time the girls gave a quiz, all the agents failed.

"They, like, don't know anything," said Mary, 14, giggling.

"They're, like, do you like Michael Jackson?" said Karen, 14, rolling her eyes at just how out of it adults can be.

Apparently one of the girls' father is an FBI agent, who saw his daughter IMing one night, and realized that he had no idea what she was typing. He realized that agents trying to realistically pose as teenagers need a lot more help with lingo and trends.

Around the FBI offices, Karen, Mary and Kristin have become like the agents' adopted daughters, getting hugs and high-fives from their students. But naturally, the adults often think they know best.

One agent kept insisting that he was right when he answered on a quiz that Justin Timberlake was more popular than Destiny's Child. Another was miffed when the girls told the class that Led Zeppelin was just not cool. Some kept wondering why "l2m" in instant messaging couldn't be "love to meet," instead of "listen to music."

And the younger female FBI agents assumed that teenage girls would think actor George Clooney is cute.

"We're, like, no," said Mary, making a face.

"He's, like, 50," Karen exclaimed.

But as precious as they are, these girl are also vicious narcs, ruining the internet lives of their peers:
Thanks to the girls, Bald said, the FBI has gathered such valuable information as: never begin a chat with "hello"; never use proper grammar in instant messages; and "pos" stands for "parent over shoulder."

After the ceremony, several parents talked excitedly about finally finding out what "pos" meant.

Karen shot Mary a worried look: "Our classmates are going to kill us."

Book club

I just finished the first part of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, and good God was I blown away. Once I got about 20 pages in, there was no way I could put down the book until I'd finished. Basically, the three stories are sort of post-modern detective tales. Which leads one to think instantly of Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, but really, it's more Umberto Eco and The Name of the Rose. Auster's ideas are remarkably interesting and he ties them in so well with the story, you don't feel you're being lectured. Like Eco, there is a lot of emphasis on language, a focus on primal myths, the arbitrary nature of identity, etc. It's the first book I've read in a while that I can't read without a pen in hand. One of those rare books that engages your intellect in a satisfying way and also delivers one hell of a story. I've started the second part of the trilogy, but even if the rest is no good (which I doubt), it'll be worth it for the first bit. Go buy it.
Well the good news for women couldn't last too long. The House is set to pass today a ban on partial-birth abortions; the wording of the measure "adds up to a sweeping prohibition that would, in effect, overturn Roe v. Wade by criminalizing the most common procedures used after the first trimester, but well before viability." The wording of this measure replicates that of a state law that was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court 3 years ago, and furthermore does not allow for an exception to protect the health of the woman.

Keep your eye on this one...
Men and their Journal

My second unexplained issue of Men's Journal arrived in the mailbox today. With each new issue that arrives, I feel further efeminated. (I believe I just coined that term. Men get "emasculated," so now there's one for the fairer sex.) But instead of dumping into the trash with a huff as planned, I decided to do a little investigative reporting to learn what these strange creatures called men like to talk about. Now, I should preface this by pointing out that women get a lot of (well-deserved) heat over the fact that all women's mags deal primarily with: Sex (how to have it better), Beauty (and products), Fashion/Shopping, and Problems With My Boyfriend (accompanied by How to Trick an Unsuspecting Male into Being Your Mate). Throw in the obligatory "health" article about scratchy bumps in impolite places, and you pretty much have the whole stereotype of women prominently being exploited in our newsstands. What my anthropological survey revealed was the following: men aren't any better.

Primary topics of discussion?
Hot tubs (sex), mountain climbing (rugged, manly thing), Barry Bonds (sports), WAR (war), power tools (manly, unconscious symbolism with penis), and golf. And ugly, ugly shoes. Do not take Men's Journal's advice on shoes. Or you will never, I repeat, NEVER end up in a hot tub, waging WAR with your power tool.

So the male magazines are just as predictable as the female, I conclude after my exhaustive survey of one. I also scanned a couple articles and picked out a few choice observations:
--Breastmilk ice cream is a bad idea
--Burgers made from Kobe meat are "missing that cheap, almost slutty blast of grease that accompanies the best burgers." (While this description is endlessly evocative, I have to wonder about the state of this man's mind that such a metaphor should spring forth.)

Articles that interested me, a woman?
--Article on designer aftershave
--Article surveying camping gear, and introducing such nifty gadgets as a blender with a hand-crank for margaritas-in-the-rough, and dehydrated Thai noodles with fold-up chopsticks. As somebody who generally doesn't like being outside unless there is a margarita in my hand, I am comforted.
--Article on the 50 Best Cities to Live In.
Actually, this article bears discussion. The #1 city was Boulder, CO which sounds fine by me. But only one Texas city made the top 50! Can you guess? If you were to guess what ONE city on Texas would make a top 50 best cities list, what would you think? Especially if it came in at the prestigious #9 slot?

Whatever you're thinking, you are WRONG.

I know this, because I know that NONE of you, NONE of you would ever think: "College Station." I kid you not. It is on page 72. Austin does not make the top 50. And what, you may ask, does College Station have to recommend to anyone other than brainwashed ROTC grunts or straw-chewing yokels? Listen and learn, with annotations:
Texas A&M University brings more than just art, music, theater, [pardon me, I just choked up a lung in disbelief] and football to College Station. [yes, it brings date rape, religious zealotry, bigotry, and an unhealthy relationship with livestock.] The concentration of 45,000 students deep in the heart of sagebrush desert means an abundance of recessionproof jobs and a low cost of living. [correction: the utter undesirability of the property and the populace brings a low cost of living.] For $245,000, you can get a palatial four-bedroom on a half-acre plot. About $114,000 will buy a ranch house with three bedrooms. And less than $50,000 will guarantee your choice of cozy homes that can be driven off and replaced if you so desire. (There are 14 mobile-home parks) [that last big wasn't me. it's actually in the mag.]

So. If I may summarize: if you want to live dirt-cheap and in the middle of nowhere, you can probably do it in any rural location in the country. But College Station is good because, um, there is arts and music and culture football.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Inspirational Message of the Day

[via chrisafer]
And now for some hard news

Proving that there is no such thing as bad publicity, I kind of want to see Vincent Gallo's new film "Brown Bunny," since it is widely considered one of The Worst Movies Ever. Here's how Roger Ebert summed up the Cannes screening:
Gallo's "Brown Bunny," which screened as one of three American entries in the official competition, was the lowest-rated film in the history of Screen International, the British trade paper that tabulates votes of a panel of critics. It was booed and laughed at during its screenings, there were countless walkouts, and its inclusion as an official selection called into question the judgment, even the sanity, of the programmers.

Chloe Sevigny, who plays a role in the film, reportedly cried during the screening. Gallo himself reportedly confessed "I accept what the critics say. If no one wants to see it, they are right. I apologize to the financiers of the film, but I must assure you it was never my intention to make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film, an unengaging film." and "It is a disaster and a waste of time."

Well all that was last weeks news. Roger Ebert wrote a snarky article about the terrible flick, and Gallo took offense. (somehow). Gallo said something to the effect of "I have cursed Ebert's colon," and Ebert, ever ready for the trash talk, replied with my favorite quote of the week: "I don't know what he meant . . . but when I had my last colonoscopy, they let me watch it on a little TV, and it was far more entertaining than 'Brown Bunny."


The Baghdad Blogger, is for real! A NYT writer who had spent time in Baghdad didn't hear about the famous blogger until he returned from his trip to Iraq. After reading Salam's posts, he put the pieces together and realized that Salam was the same young man that had worked as his translator while he was reporting in Baghdad. Pretty wild coincidence that puts to rest, I think, the "is he?" "isn't he?" controversy.
With the Bush administration's obsession that no teenager know what a condom is and the single-minded pursuit of abstinence-only education, it's refreshing to read the recent good news for women's reproductive issues.

First, in Florida, the atrocious "Scarlet Letter" law was repealed. For those of you unfamiliar with it, I'll explain, and you'll assume I'm making it up. It's that unbelievable. If a woman decided to put a child up for adoption in Florida, she was first required by law to take out an ad in the local paper or papers where the father or potential fathers of the child might reside. In this ad, she had to list her name, the circumstances of conception (places, dates, times) and all potential fathers. This was designed to prevent paternity suits cropping up in later years. Which I'm sure is a huge problem. All those deadbeat dads suddenly showing up and wanting to play a part in the child's life. There must be, why, nearly tens of twelves of such men. So it's clearly worth publicly humiliating women. To add horrific insult to injury, this requirement also applied to rape victims. That's right, a woman who was raped and decided to bring a child to term had to take out an ad saying "Me: a twenty-something brunette, you: big brutish and stronger than me. Place: the alley behind my workplace. Had a kid, and you have rights of parentage, so ready to start a family?" This is serious stuff, and it is a horror. Again, how often to rapists come looking after their potential offspring and WHAT JUDGE ON THE PLANET would award paternity? We are making policy on these assumptions?

So this vile, vicious, medieval law was repealed, but not by the good graces of Jeb Bush and company. It was decided through court cases, and the judges ruled that the law constitued an unconstitutional violation of the women's privacy. So the law had to be struck down. It should never have existed in the first place, and they estimate that hundreds of women had to place ads, but at least it's gone.

Item 2:
A woman suffering from Down's Syndrome in Florida was raped and impregnated. If her body was even capable of bringing the child to term, it would almost certainly be mentally deficient, and odds are that due to her seizure-prone condition, carrying the child would endanger the life of the mother. Labor would likely kill her. Even so, pro-life groups voiciferously opposed abortion of the fetus. They took it to court to prevent her from going through with the procedure, but it didn't stand up and the judge allowed the abortion. Of course abortion is controversial but if it should be allowed in any instance, I would hope that a mentally retarded rape victim whose life is in danger would qualify.

Item 3:
Finally, today. The Supreme Court denied antiabortion activists' appeal for permission to display "Wanted" posters with pictures and personal information of physicians that will perform abortions. In fact, the Bush administration, in the form of Solicitor General Ted Olson, asked the court to rule that the posters did not qualify as protected speech. Given the nature of the radical, violent fringes of the pro-life movement, it is not unwise to assume that these posters constitute a threat. An antiabortion web-site had posted these pictures, along with the doctors' addresses, and crossed off the names of the murdered doctors. A to-do list of sorts. But it's been ruled a violation of the first amendment, so goodbye to the hit list.

Let's hear it for sanity!

Monday, June 02, 2003

For those of you who break out in hives at the sound of conservative talk-show radio hosts or Fox News anchors, Atrios unearths a gem of a transcript. It's from way back in May 2001, but involves dear Hannity whose star has inexplicably been rising. Here's a selection from a conversation between Hannity and RFK, Jr discussing US oil dependency and drilling in ANWR:

HANNITY: In 1973, the United States imported 36 percent of its oil. Today, it's almost 60 percent that we're importing presently.

ANWR production, based on the lower numbers, anywhere between six billion -- six-trillion and 19-trillion barrels. ANWR production could percent of this entire refuge, for 30 years.

KENNEDY: Well, that's not true. That -- that's just a bogus...

HANNITY: U.S. Geo -- let me read you...

KENNEDY: That's a bogus...

HANNITY: The U.S. Geological Survey estimates oil...

KENNEDY: This is a misreport. I guarantee you, Sean. But let me tell you something else.

HANNITY: Excuse me. Well, no, no. No. Wait. Don't tell me. I'm reading from the U.S. Geological Survey estimates. It could be as much as 16-billion barrels of oil, which would be the largest supply of domestic oil ever discovered.

KENNEDY: Let me see that.

HANNITY: Right there.

KENNEDY: You're reading from an advertisement by the...

HANNITY: No, I am not.

KENNEDY: ... Energy Steward Alliance.

HANNITY: Let me -- let me put...

KENNEDY: Wait a minute. This is not honest, Sean.

HANNITY: Get my still ready from the Boston paper.

KENNEDY: Sean, this is not honest.

HANNITY: Get my -- get my still ready from the Boston paper.

KENNEDY: This is not honest to say that you're reading from the Geological Survey.

HANNITY: Excuse me. Excuse me. Can I -- let's -- it is -- let me quote...

KENNEDY: No. This isn't -- this is from an energy propaganda.

[Kennedy reaches over and takes it out of his hands]

HANNITY: Give me my paper!


HANNITY: Can I -- I'm going to put up from the Boston -- hang on a second. Hang on a second. From the -- from the Boston paper. Here it is. This is from "The Boston Herald," your neck of the woods, hardly a right- wing paper.

KENNEDY: "The Boston Herald"?

HANNITY: Environmental...

KENNEDY: Are you kidding me? That's as right wing as...

HANNITY: Well, you -- you want to discourage everyone. This is the U.S.

KENNEDY: Well, this is not the U.S. Geological Survey.

HANNITY: Wait. Excuse me. Wait a minute. I have the survey. I have the -- wait a minute.

KENNEDY: Sean...

HANNITY: I'm going to show you the survey.

[thanks to eppy for the link]
The Washington Post got my attention this morning by uncharacteristically asking hard questions about Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, who is also wanted for the bombing of two abortion clinics and a gay nightclub. Since his actions are religiously motivated and since Rudolph is suspected of affiliations with radical, violent Christian movements, is it apt to characterize him as a "Christian terrorist," the way we dub suicide bombers and the like "Islamic terrorists"?

Read this excerpt from a letter Rudolph allegedly wrote and see for yourself if you think it is fundamentally different from the ideology of Hamas and co.:
We declare and will wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in New York and your legaslative bureaucratic lackey's in Washington. It is you who are responsible and preside over the murder of children and issue the policy of ungodly preversion thats destroying our people.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no debate as to whether or not this constitutes "Christian terrorism," but the term will of course meet with resistance. James Aho, an Idaho State sociology prof, eschews the term "Christian terrorism" as an oxymoron, instead favoring "religiously inspired terrorism." For the same reasons, he dislikes "Islamic terrorism" and notes:
If Christians take umbrage at the juxtaposition of the words "Christian" and "terrorist," ... "that may give them some idea of how Muslims feel" when they constantly hear the term "Islamic terrorism," especially since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Found via Clap Clap Blog,the 365 Days Project is an initiative to post an obscure, underground, or otherwise non-mainstream MP3 every day for a year. I didn't listen to "Jogging for Jesus," but the album cover alone merits its salvation from obscurity:

Wha' Happened? Vol. II

Alright, kids. Tilt your head back, hold your nose, and open your mouth because it's time for another bitter tequila shot of reality from your source for the sinister machinations of your federal government. In our last issue, we discussed the impact of hookers on the legislative process. Today's issue is less insidious, though far more prevalent. Like everything else stinky in DC, it also involves lobbyists.

During Estrogen Fiesta 2003, there was some discussion about "Gina's"* upcoming birthday. "We're going to have it on the 13th," intoned the party-planner. "Everything's taken care of. I'm renting out [generic capital hill bar]."

Listening to this, I couldn't help but think, "What nice friends Gina has! My friends can barely be bothered to tip a 40 on to the ground in honor of my birthday! And they're renting out bars and doing all the planning! Wow."

The party planner continued, "We have 2 or 3 sponsors already, but of course we could always use more."

Now I am lost again. Sponsors? As in the Enron Birthday Party? Wha'? So I inquire. Sure enough, well-connected Hill staffers have their extravagant birthday parties paid for by lobbyist "sponsors." They rent out a bar, put all the booze and cigs on a tab, and after they've racked up a bill in the $2000-3000 range, they hand it over to their sponsors of choice who divvy it up, send the check, and flop metaphorically onto the massage table to prepare for their reciprocal back-scratching. And all this is so commonplace it doesn't require code words or hushed conversations or guilty self-conscious embarassment at the yawning chasm between public service ideals and sordid reality.

*Not her real name. Her real name is Uhura.