Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The "homewrecker," as they call it, is a lovely species of burrito. It's a ginormous flour tortilla stuffed with rice and black beans, chicken (or beef or steak), sour cream, hot sauce, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. I've had two of those this week after 12-hour days at work and would have added a photo of last night's lovely burrito here...
...but I ate the whole thing before I even thought about taking a photo of it. So much for chewing slower so I don't overeat.
The lady who made last night's burrito for me must've been new. The more experienced burrito construction workers would have known better than to try to stuff THAT much chicken, rice, beans and veggies into the tortilla for fear of decreasing the burrito's maximum chance of successful closure. My burrito had closure, but the standard piece of foil they use to wrap the whole deal in wasn't near big enough to fully enclose it. Lucky me. *urp*
I'm saying that my burrito must have been on steroids to segue into a mindless yet enthralling bit of television that captured my attention last night and prompted me to produce a fine piece of artwork I will no doubt sell on e-bay later for a kajillion smackeroos. I was drawn into the show by the fact that it was on The Learning Channel. I stayed because it was titled The Man Whose Arms Exploded. You can't turn away, either, can you?
The star of the show was an idiot named Gary Valentino whose only goal in life for nearly 20 years was to win various muscle man competitions where muscly and manly types appear on stage in a little bitty bikini and flex what they've got for the judges. His regular bodybuilding routine wasn't enough to give him the kind of ripples, bumps, lumps and veins he wanted, so he turned to steroids.
Steroids created for him the largest biceps in the world (literally!) that looked like beavers fighting under the skin on top of and underneath each arm. Standing at 5'6", he liked his new look, he said, because it got him a lot of "attention" and "respect" at bars.
After several years of heavy workouts and steroid use, though, HIS BICEP FOUGHT BACK!
An infection in his right bicep made it all red and swollen and full of pus. He tried to operate on himself by stabbing a hypodermic needle into the swollen area over and over again, filling up glasses with blood and landing himself on a surgeon's table. Surgery to fix the whole deal left a huge dent smack in the middle of his right bicep. His career was over. Boo. Hoo. The following digital drawings are lifelike portraits of Valentino both before the infection and after the surgery.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
That means 1) don't (allegedly) rape anyone; 2) don't (allegedly) be a rotten liar and 3) don't mislead an easily misleadable public by saying (and setting the example) that males can protect against HIV after unprotected sex by washing off their willies in the shower.
Jesus H. Christ! Have you all gone mad?
Zuma, who wants to be the country's next president and was fired as deputy president last year because of a corruption scandal, is now on trial for the rape of a "friend" who has admitted to being HIV positive. Of course, Zuma is saying the sex was consentual, but both sides agree that no condom was used. When questioned why he would expose himself to the disease knowing that she has it, Zuma replied that he didn't use a condom because there wasn't one handy, that it's harder for men to catch the disease and that the possibility of catching it is even less if a man takes a shower right after unprotected sex.
I know the white man shouldn't be trusted and that HIV/AIDS is some big scheme the white man cooked up to kill all the black people, but, HELLO!, something you guys are doing over there obviously isn't working!
Millions and millions and millions and millions and millions (more than 5 million) of South Africans are infected with HIV, a number that grows daily. I've been following the HIV/AIDS crisis over there and, I've got to tell you, it doesn't take a genius to realize that, for men, 1) having unprotected sex with prostitutes and 2) telling prostitutes and women you have sex with that you refuse to wear a condom and, for women, 1) continuing to give it up without requiring the man to use a condom, is unwise.
I know condoms aren't the answer to the AIDS crisis, and I know a staggeringly high percentage of people over there don't think that HIV/AIDS is spread through an exchange of bodily fluids or that it even exists for that matter, but, if I lived in certain regions of South Africa, I'd look around me and take a chance on trying something new.
Of course, if I lived there, I'd 1) kill myself; 2) kill anyone who tried to fuck me; 3) move to another country if I had the resources to do so and/or 4) keep my legs shut - or my penis in my pants if I was a guy - until everyone with the disease dies off.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
North Florida is considerably cooler in the wintertime, but, in the summertime, it's just as hot here as it is in Central Florida where I grew up. One of the many things I had to adjust to after my move to New York was the fact that air conditioners never come standard there. Although temperatures there reach into the 110s in the summertime, air conditioning is still considered a luxury that must be purchased separately.
I say all this to say that my air conditioner started blowing outdoor-temperature air two nights ago and that two nights is all I can take. I know it's only April, but it's already well into the 90s during the day here. This thermostat reading shows the temperature in my apartment at 11 p.m. last night:
The first thing I did when I got to work this morning was call my landlord to see about getting it fixed. It's a new central heat and air unit, and he doesn't seem too happy about having to go take a look at it. He sounded suspicious, almost like he thought I had something to do with it not working. Please! I'm spoiled rotten where air conditioning is concerned. You would be, too, if you lived down here.
Update: 10:30 a.m. EST. My landlord has been out to my place. The problem isn't some kind of cutoff switch near the compressor like he first suspected. Time to call in the big guns - and pay the big bucks!
Update: It's 7:45 p.m. There's a zero percent chance of rain, and it's a cool 74 degrees.
I don't like to admit it, but sometimes I'm that guy.
I'm not trying to impress a woman (or man). I'm trying to impress myself. I'm not trying to say something bad about you. I'm trying to say something good about me - and doing it poorly. I admit it. I'm addicted to competition.
I love tests of math and logic, and I take IQ tests on the internet just for fun. I love completing tasks for a grade and comparing my grade to the grades of others as well as the number of hours we studied. I love playing all sorts of games against friends and strangers, and I keep a backgammon board in my trunk for impromptu sessions. I love racing anything and seeing who will win. When I was a reporter, I didn't have to write the most stories but I had to have the best stories faster and on the front page. When I worked in public relations, I had to have the most media hits on campaigns and come up with the best and brightest ideas. I had to be a better writer, a better thinker and a better schmoozer than all the others.
I'm the one who would cover her test paper so others couldn't cheat. I'm the one who wouldn't allow do-overs.
Faster, more, better, nicer, smarter, cleverer, meaner, stronger, braver, funnier. It's my curse, and I have been known to wear myself out in my quest for perfection.
While at an employee cookout at an ex-boyfriend's boss' house, I discovered Smirnoff Ice for the first time. A million bottles of it sat nestled among chunks of ice in a huge cooler under the biggest tree in the yard that spiked the ground halfway between the rib-covered grill and the volleyball net. After two or three bottles, I decided I could never live without them, lots of them, all of them. It didn't help that I was already determined to get drunk that day so I could be more at ease with the boss and all his boring older friends.
Most everything after the fifth or sixth Smirnoff is a blur except for the memory of me holding a volleyball and - loudly and provocatively - challenging five or six 20-something sportsmen to a game. If memory serves, I basically told all the muscly bodybuilder-looking guys that they could suck my ass and that I was going to turn each one of them into a whimpering child on that court and that there was nothing they could do about it.
I hit my serves hard. They missed a lot of them. I laughed and taunted them with, "What? Can't handle playing against a girrrrrl?" All they came back with were insults over me being left handed. I laughed harder.
I was loud. I was cursing. I crouched into attack position on more than one occasion. I jammed my wrist diving into the net for a spike. I got filthy. I was covered in sweat. I was exhausted.
My team won.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Let's get one thing straight: I'm claustrophic. My dislike of extreme crowdedness and small spaces was made even worse that night by being forced to sit for hours in a tiny underground space lit only by candlelight that was crammed to overflowing with hot, sweaty, smelly people made even more hot, sweaty and smelly by the absence of air conditioning. Even worse, my companion and I arrived late and were forced to sit, along with some unlucky others, on stacks of books located smack in the middle of the "stage," an area that amounted to little more than a clearing on the floor.
So there I was, trying to balance on a stack of books in a 120-degree basement lit only by candlelight and filled with hot, sweaty, smelly people while quickly becoming one of those hot, sweaty, smelly people as "actors" buzzed by me so closely that I felt a rush of air with their passing.
Watching Tarnation brought me back, for a while, to the uncomfortable, almost unbearable place from which I fled that night. Pieced together like a patchwork quilt, Tarnation is a whole composed of many parts that include snapshots, Super-8 home movies, answering machine messages, video diaries and early short films sewn together using on-screen text and haunting and frenetic effects (think Twin Peaks), all recorded and filmed by Jonathan Caouette, the star of Tarnation, a documentary that is his life.
The film opens with footage of Jonathan's grandparents and of his mother, Renee LeBlanc, as a baby and small child in Texas. The family story went something like this: Renee, a beauty in her younger years who became a child model, jumped off her parents' roof one day and was never again the same person. At the beginning of the movie, Jonathan showed the jump as the turning point for her, an incident that led to shock treatment after shock treatment, hospitalization after hospitalization, anti-depressant medication and a stroke.
Raised in foster care and by his grandparents, Jonathan suffered abuse and found a great escape in moviemaking. He started capturing images on film at the age of 11. A precocious child, Jonathan had already acknowledged and accepted his homosexuality by that age.
In his first short film, he played a battered woman. Rife with homoerotic overtones, later films and footage become filled with images of constructed violence and drug abuse and chillingly capture his intense anger. At soon as he was able, he moved to New York City where he met and moved in with current partner David Sanin Paz, also in the film. A struggling actor and doorman, Jonathan had time to heal away from his family and later reconnected with his mother, met his father for the first time, captured the decline of his grandparents and got some answers regarding his mother's psychological illness.
It seemed fitting that I watch Tarnation on my laptop computer after finding out that Jonathan edited the film using iMovie on his boyfriend's iMac at a production cost of $218.32 for videotape and materials. That low dollar figure shouldn't deter anyone from watching the film, however. With executive producers like Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho) and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and original instrumentals by Max Avery Lichtenstein, Tarnation is way, way better than any avant-garde film to come out of Andy Warhol's factory.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Some people collect Star Wars figurines. Others collect vintage stamps or rare coins or those horrendous little porcelain Precious Moments tchochkies, all of which could one day actually be worth a wad of cash. I collect postcards and refrigerator magnets.
I have an extensive collection of postcards from museums, restaurants and book stores. My friends have learned that a book of postcards given to me as a gift from their vacations to fascinating foreign lands will (almost) make up for the fact that they didn't invite me. I also pick up several books of postcards and one or two magnets as souvenirs from my own domestic trips.
This post is largely my first big effort to liven things up around here using photographs. My first inclination is to show off the most important part of my collection, postcards and magnets stuck to one of my favorite things in my apartment to look in and at - besides, of course, the screen of my computer thanks to the installation of cable internet this morning by a former registered socialist from California. Turns out, he's just not a free market kinda guy.
My fridge is where my favorite postcards - reflections of my personality and spirit - have found their place. And, duh! Where else would a refrigerator magnet hang out?
First, an overview. Notice how the postcards and magnets are artfully arranged.
Now for a closer view. Notice my handy camera work? Whatever you do, don't pay attention to the glare.
Ok. Come a little closer. First up, my dead mom. Well, my dead mom is in a cannister somewhere, but here are a couple of images of her. On the left is a portrait of my birth mother when she was just a wee lass. On the right is a photo of her taken about five years before she died. My brother made copies of these photographs to hand out at her funeral in 2004.
Let's move on to one of my favorite corners of the fridge. As a volunteer with NOW NYC, I worked on a street harassment campaign that involved handing out fliers on the streets of New York to inform men and women alike about the huge harassment problem New York has on its streets and in its subways. In upcoming posts, I'm sure I'll share my own private daily ways of coping with and defending against this plague and the maggots who plagued me, but, for now, I'll just say that - per my idea - the cover of the flier said "Nice ass, baby." I sure offended a lot of women that day.
Hateful me (from a gift I gave a boyfriend one Valentine's Day. On the back of it, I glued a typed copy of a love poem by Paul Eluard)
My idealistic and utterly ridiculous goal for myself and all of humankind
I trudged several uphill blocks with the famous black activists Friday morning. It was just me, Jesse and Al - and a cozy group of 600 or so pissed off protestors - who marched toward the capitol building where microphones waited to project so much rousing rhetoric crafted to appeal to Gov. Jeb Bush and scores of journalists willing to spread the message: Justice will be served.
Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old black kid who violated probation, died after spending one day at the Bay County Sherrif's Office boot camp in January. The initial stated cause of death? Complications of a sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder found most frequently among blacks. A videotape found later showed Anderson being punched and kicked by boot camp guards as he lay on the ground motionless after having collapsed while exercising his first day at the camp. He died in the hospital the next day.
After the tape was found, there was a second autopsy and a change in the cause of death. But there have been no arrests or firings. There hasn't even been so much as an investigation.
Sharpton and Jackson didn't keep their mouths shut about King and Diallo, and they're not going to keep their mouths shut now. They say they know that singing "We Shall Overcome" and chanting "Justice delayed/Justice denied" won't bring about a happier ending to this story. Marches don't solve problems. They expose problems, said Sharpton, who grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn and recounted a story from his impoverished childhood to illustrate the issue at hand.
"As long as momma had the lights out, roaches would sit at the table and eat all the food. As soon as the lights came on, they would run for cover," Sharpton said. "We need to turn on the lights."
Jackson is a mesmerizing speaker who rallied the crowd with something about choosing excellence over mediocrity, futures over funerals and sobriety over drunkenness and standing up to save the world. Backwards never; forward ever. Rah! Rah! Rah! I was impressed and slightly moved at the time, but it's late now. I'm tired.
Overall, I felt that Friday morning was little more than a display of an excessive amount of posturing punctuated with predictable sound bites that will likely get Jackson and Sharpton somewhere largely because of who they are. I seriously hope something wonderful - or at least logical - will come out of Friday's efforts. But I learned long ago never to hold my breath.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
My complete submission to all things sweet, creamy, nutty, salty, greasy, chocolaty, chunky, milky, gooey, chewy and fruity (in a number 2 red, fruit flavor kind of way) has been going on for a long time. It's a wonder I never got pregnant. But all my bingeing on candies, cookies, cakes, chips, pizza, french fries and other wonders of the unnatural world has come to an end in an effort to lose weight so I can look like the women in those magazines who do nothing but sit on the beach with their flawless hair, makeup and complexions in their designer clothing with their GQ-worthy men while sipping their Veuve Clicquot Brut Carte Jaune. They are wonderfully, endlessly, rapturously in love, and they are wonderfully, endlessly, rapturously - almost painfully - loved back.
Life is good for the thin and rich. If I can't be rich, I might as well be 15 pounds thinner.
My addiction to food that expands waistlines when greedily ingested can be traced to a rebellion against my militaristic upbringing that included strict rules where food was concerned. Every day, the same routine. Breakfast: none. Lunch: cafeteria food. Afternoon snack: apple. Dinner: 6:30 p.m., one meat, two veggies, milk or water. Nighttime snack: 9 p.m., two scoops of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup. Soda or other sugary beverages: never. Candy, cakes, cookies and other pastries or assorted junk food: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I'm not completely whining about the rules. After all, my diet back then is undoubtedly what made me grow into the strikingly bodacious 5-foot-9 beast I am today who has unbreakable bones, healthy teeth and a hearty constitution and immune system. I never get sick, and I'm sure my eating habits as a child have something to do with it.
But as my teen years crept closer, I started hanging out more and more at the homes of friends, fantasy lands containing cupboards stuffed with Nutty Buddies, Swiss Cake Rolls, big soft chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, sweet and chewy fruit snacks and individual cups of smooth and creamy pudding - in chocolate and vanilla! Jill had the best goods, and she became my best friend. Months later, her parents figured out who had been eating all the damn snacks, and I wasn't invited over nearly as often anymore. Lacking money, I began to steal.
Local convenience store. Girl, age 11 or 12, enters. She is thin and sweaty and dressed in grungy shorts, a striped sleeveless top and flip flops. She is wearing thick glasses. Her long dishwater brown hair is pulled back in a ponytail with the kind of rubber band that snags and stings when snapped against one's leg. She is carrying a purse with a broken zipper and is walking up and down the aisles in search of prey. She finds it in the form of Kit Kats and Rolos and grabs a handful of each, at least 10 candy bars in all, and stuffs them in the purse. She disappears, laughing and tingly all over at the thought of spreading her loot out around her and gorging until her stomach hurts.
I became a thief to procure my drug of choice and quit stealing Astropops, Sweet Tarts, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, 3 Muskateers, Laffy Taffys, Gummi Bears, Fig Newtons, Sprees, Necco Wafers and other assorted goodies only after I was caught and banned from the store.
On the day of my 16th birthday, I began working as a cashier at a grocery store where I gained ready access to a paycheck and more candy, baked goods, frozen foods and fried chicken than I could ever possibly handle.
Hopefully, in the months to come, I will be working on a major overhaul of maarmie's musings - as soon as I learn how to use the Web design software I recently...acquired.
Any suggestions on a new look for the site? I'm tired of the color scheme here: depression blue and white. I was thinking of something bright and peppy to offset my usual gruffness and rancor. I already plan on using more photographs in the future. I want maarmie's musings to become the USA Today of blogs.
E-mail suggestions to me at maarmie at hotmail dot com.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Members of the White House Press Corps have long been frustrated by McClellan, a seemingly idiotic man sent in to cover for an even more idiotic president. "The truth" and "full disclosure" were endangered terms around the White House before McClellan was hired, but, between June 2003 and now, McClellan stood poised as one of the gunmen who attempted to wipe them out altogether.
Reporters have been looking for honest answers from McClellan about more than just the slaughter in Iraq and intelligence issues. What they have seen has been something else altogether. They have seen Scotty sweat. They have seen Scotty stammer. They have seen Scotty deny. They have seen Scotty avoid. They have seen Scotty divert. They have seen Scotty blame. They have seen Scotty lie. And they have captured it on tape and in writing so we can feel like the fools we are for voting G.W. into office - twice!
McClellan was likely named press secretary at the beginning of the Iraq war when G.W. (his advisors) realized he would be needing someone expendable to stand in front of him and swallow the grenades he knew the press would be lobbing his way. He found that stooge in McClellan. Now, full of shrapnel and damn near death, McClellan is being replaced. Any sap who believes McClellan actually resigned probably believed everything he told us these past few years as he stood before us at the dais.
As of this moment, Tony Snow is the only person seriously in the running for the position. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Snow is a commentator for Fox News and a longtime trusted Bush ally. I hope he - or whoever replaces McClellan - is good at distorting facts with grace. We may not get anything closer to "the truth" and "full disclosure" out of the next press secretary, but maybe we'll get the lies fed to us with a little more panache and a little less perspiration.
Tonight they are listening to an exciting little album that is most certainly titled "Dirt Rockers of the 90s." I was in bed, under the covers, lights off, air conditioner set to cold. But, gosh darn don't ya know it, my shoulders started to stiffen and my heart started to thump as one long guitar solo after another screeched through my head and my neigbhbors' voices got louder and louder so they could hear each other over the noise.
My former neighbor was a young single certified public accountant who spent most of her nights at her boyfriend's house. She was frequently gone entire weekends, and, when she was home, she never made a sound. She's gone now, and my landlord rented to the neighbors from hell. Loud voices, lots of extra cars always jamming up the lot, daily guitar practice and, of course, 90s dirt rock, whatever the hell that is.
If they have good pot and promise to share, I may decide to cut them some slack. Until then, I'm pissed and awake and capturing "artistic" (grainy and blurry) images of myself with my sub-par webcam just to pass the time.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
(maarmie opens front door)
Cable guy: Are you maarmie?
Cable guy: I had a hard time finding this place.
maarmie: Oh. Yeah.
Cable guy: You ordered cable internet?
maarmie (excited): Yep.
Cable guy: Where did you want to run it?
(maarmie stands back to let cable guy in and shows him the nook containing a desk upon which sits her desktop and laptop computers.)
Cable guy: From the look of things, I'm gonna to have to run the wire from outside to under your apartment and up through the floor.
maarmie (not really caring if he has to take a wrecking ball to the apartment and build a new apartment around some wires as long as he installs cable internet and installs it NOW!): Uh. Ok.
Cable guy: Do you have the letter of permission from your landlord?
maarmie: Huh? Letter of permission?
Cable guy (now stripped of his thin outer crust of happiness): The cable company does this to me all the time! They swear up and down they tell every customer about the letter of permission, but you don't know how many times I come out to someone's place and they tell me they weren't told they needed a letter! I'm an independent contractor. I just lost 30 bucks. And this is bad for you, too. You were excited, right?
maarmie (more disappointed than when she figured out she likely wouldn't ever be marrying Michael Jackson or George Michael): Tell them I hate them.
Monday, April 17, 2006
After a two-year self-imposed hiatus, I broke down and spread my legs for a guy I had had a crush on (and lusted for) for eight years. Orgasms, yes, and loud ones at that. Imagine. You're hot for this incredibly sexy guy (or girl) for eight years and you finally get your chance? Not only does the guy in question have that manly Jersey swagger and attitude, those big brown eyes, longer-than-I-don't-know-what eyelashes and style out the wazoo but he also *gasp!* kisses better than I ever imagined and has that touch of femininity that, combined with said swagger, would drive any woman bananas. I'm telling you, the boy's got game. He wasn't as kinky as I had hoped, but the fact that he was a journalist at the time made up for all that.
The secret is out now. maarmie will give it up gladly for most any writer, no questions asked. In my book, the ability to string words together well is a strong aphrodesiac. Stronger, anyway, than my ability to resist.
Before Mr. Former Journalist, I kicked off my knickers with a duo: a guy and a girl. Although there was no penile penetration, I enjoyed my first no-holds-barred sexual experience with another female. We did it all. Need I say more?
(I'm sure most of you guys out there would like me to say more and, perhaps, provide photographs. Too bad! Provide me with enough cashola, and I'll provide you with a live show. Capisce?)
Now, I'm on another hiatus (masturbation aside) until the right offer comes along. I'm not entirely sure what this right offer will include, but I'll know it when I see it.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
You criticize dooce.com's creator for not taking her readers seriously enough, but I didn't see you taking that guy from South Dakota very seriously at all. While his letter to you was ridiculous and he came off like a moronic jerk, you could have taken the time to talk to him about verbal abuse and why he shouldn't be making his wife cry. Your reply to "All Tuckered Out" was no better than Heather telling a critical reader to get laid. Quit being such a hypocrite.
You have an excellent point, my friend, and I am not afraid to admit my weakness where moronic jerks from Sturgis are concerned. I wasn't sure if "All Tuckered Out" was expressing a genuine concern or if the letter was, indeed, a hoax. Just as law enforcement officers should treat every complaint as valid, I should treat every letter as valid and respond to it as such - however pissed off it might make me. It might have felt good to rant and rave like a lunatic, but it didn't do my reputation or a crying wife in Sturgis any good if, indeed, the letter is genuine. I also almost passed up a prime opportunity to teach my readers about verbal abuse. Shame on me!
All Tuckered Out: To pinpoint exactly what's going wrong in your marriage, I would need additional information on other aspects of your relationship. Do you both have friendships and interests outside the marriage? Do you both contribute positively to the marriage? Do you both value each others' positive contributions? How do you each contribute negatively? How does the other respond to that negative contribution?
From the little you have shared with me, it seems you have a need to control the relationship and that you seem to insist on treating your wife, a full-grown woman, I'm assuming, like a child. She might not handle situations the way you would handle them, but it's not your place to tell her how to run her life. The two of you are separate people with separate ways of looking at and responding to the world. Those differences should be accepted. I'm not saying offering advice about friends or work is a bad thing. It's ok as long as she asks for it or you ask permission to give it. But ramming advice down your wife's throat, yelling at her for failing to listen to or take your advice and making your wife cry are unacceptable. You might feel immediate gratification, but, in the long run, all your behavior does is drive a wedge between you and your wife and crumble any foundation there was for a good marriage. Your behavior will only breed fear and resentment, not gratitude or love.
Yelling at, nagging, putting down, judging or criticizing someone or talking to that person as if that person is a child are all ways of verbally abusing someone. Verbal abuse is a means of establishing control in a relationship and erodes the self esteem of the person being abused. Over time, it can cause long-term emotional and psychological damage to the person being abused. Verbal abuse in a household can also negatively affect any children who may be witnessing the abuse. I recommend that you and your wife seek counseling as a couple, "All Tuckered Out." A little individual counseling for both of you wouldn't hurt, either.
Friday, April 14, 2006
I'm so tired of seeing the notion of an abortion - a scary, sad, horrific, traumatizing and painful experience - wrapped up in silly pretty words in an attempt to try and make it more palatable to more people. It doesn't make abortion more palatable to those who want to see it criminalized, to those who want to see the day where women who have them - and the doctors who perform them - are tossed in jail for between 5 and 50 years like they currently are in El Salvador - a backwards Catholic-dominated place where abortion is illegal in every case, where the government would rather that women suffer with perforated uteruses and life-draining infections, where women who have terminated unwanted prenancies live in constant fear of being found out and jailed and where the doctors who illegally help them live a constant lie.
But we don't have to go very far to see women and doctors who have and perform abortions treated as criminals, as animals who deserve nothing better than to die and burn forever in hell. We need only look as far as our own towns and cities. Abortion may be legal here, but it's going black market whether we like it or not.
Eight years ago, Jack Hitt, contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, wrote an article on the status of abortion in the United States. What he found almost a decade ago was that the number of medical schools requiring some kind of course or lecture on abortion was in rapid decline (according to the article, only 12 percent of hospital residency programs routinely taught abortion in 1991) and that the number of doctors willing and able to perform them had drastically shrunk. In 1995, Hitt said, only 33 percent of OB-GYNs were willing to perform the procedure and that only 15 percent of chief residents doing family practice had any experience with the simplest abortion procedure.
According to the article, doctors don't want to perform the procedure for two main reasons. The first is that they value their lives. The second is that abortion providers are routinely thought of as the red-headed stepchildren in the medical world.
New doctors simply don't want to learn about and provide a procedure that, while extremely unpleasant, saves the lives of women who are going to terminate the pregnancy whether the procedure is legal or not. They don't want to learn about and provide a procedure that, while extremely unpleasant, saves the world from another unwanted child who will likely be improperly cared for only to possibly become a burden to society. They don't want to learn about and provide a procedure that, while extremely unpleasant, saves unwanted children the burden of being unloved. To do so would alter others' perceptions of them and make them targets for conservatives who supposedly value life above all else but are willing to take one life in the hopes of saving others. These same people undoubtedly support the death penalty and revel in the United States murdering innocent others in war.
In South Dakota, abortion is now illegal - even in cases of rape and incest. Mississippi is currently attempting to follow in South Dakota's footsteps. Which state will be next? And next? And next? And next?
Would the same narrow-minded individuals who vote for an abortionless world bust a nut (or an ovary, as it were) to pay for the care and education of all the unwanted embryos who are currently scraped from the uteruses of women? If they succeed in their mission, will they be equally as eager to step in to solve the problems of society caused by the birth of children who should never have been? Fat chance, folks! They make the laws. What happens after that is on you and you and you and me. Oh, and you.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Of course, some of the people who posted were obviously religious nutbags who couldn't string a sentence together if you did most of the work for them. And most of the people also didn't seem to know enough about their own language to get punctuation and spelling right, either. These imperfections didn't get past the scrutinizing eyes of Heather and her most ardent of fans, cronies, brainwashed lemmings and blind ambassadors, the 100 billion fans who are served on her site every day. Heather and her witchdoocery have become a force to be reckoned with, y'all, and ya best not fuck with the dooce...or her peeps.
I must have coincidentally clicked onto her site the instant she posted that message yesterday. I immediately logged in to leave a comment relating to her topic of choice but one that had to do with my own site and the couple of shitheads who have enjoyed leaving cruel and offensive messages here, messages I didn't try and pretend never existed by immediately deleting them as Heather might have done.
Seconds later, my message appeared on her site, but, guess what? I was already number 11. That's high up on the chain for me there as far as messages are concerned, though, don't get me wrong. Her fans are everywhere, and they are eager to comment on her every breath, her every word, her every thought. Being a fan of the dooce myself, I've left a few messages in the past. This time, I was number 11 among 591 others who had something to say about this particular rant of hers. The others echoed her sentiments and gushed about their love for her and her husband, daughter and pooch. In their eyes, it seems, Heather can never do any wrong.
I think Heather is funny. I think Heather is charming. I think Heather is incredibly lucky to have the life that she does. I think she is brave for getting away from the church. I think she is cool for not being ashamed of her depression. I think she is entertaining. I think she is a good mom. But I don't know if she is taking her readers seriously enough, because some of the people she so immediately dismisses may, just may, have a point.
Here's my criticism: Heather plays it safe. I like Heather's style of writing and her sense of humor, but I would hardly consider her to be as controversial as she seems to think she is. Maybe she is controversial in the atmosphere in which she lives, but she's speaking to an audience that spans the globe. Her readers aren't just morons or ex-morons (yes, I spelled it right) in Utah. They come from Canada, Japan, Australia, California, Georgia, New York, Colorado, Texas - all over this country and all over the world.
Dooce has the visibility to really shake things up. To take a stand, to sometimes be a voice of reason in a really shitty world where men, women and children are being abused and killed on the streets and in their homes, senseless wars are being fought, millions are going hungry and homeless, the masses don't want to learn and the government doesn't care what you or I have to say about any of it.
Heather could learn from her readers be they hostile or friendly or somewhere in between. But, sadly, it seems you're either with her or against her. For her, and for her fans, there simply is no debate.
Note: This post has been amended since its initial publication to more accurately reflect my viewpoint.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Crazy people like to read about crazy people, and, as such, I bought a copy of Knut Hamsun's Hunger at the recommendation of my crazy artist friend as recommended to her by an even crazier artist friend of hers who's also a writer. And you know how fucked up writers are! The. Worst.
Like A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, Hunger, originally published in 1890, is a novel that serves as a sort of fictionalized memoir - only the original publisher, Norway's Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, isn't offering full refunds.
Set in Christiania (now Oslo), the novel's main character is a starving writer, and the paranoid, delusional and obsessive thoughts and actions of said writer make up the minute-by-minute content of the book. Interestingly enough, Hamsun himself suffered through more than a decade of poverty before writing the book, one made all the more realistic by Hamsun's experiences and continuous journey inward.
"Truth telling does not involve seeing both sides or objectivity; truth telling is unselfish inwardness," Hamsun once said.
Though his goal of being a writer and his singleminded pursuit of that goal can be seen as noble by some, Hunger's star is hardly deserving of sympathy, others might say. Instead of finding a stable, if temporary, white- or blue-collar job so he can escape the squalor of his drafty room, the cold of the outdoors, the disrepair of his clothing and the screaming hole in his gut, he, instead, fills his time daydreaming, harassing strangers, feeling sorry for himself for his professional and social failings and listening to, examining and attempting to silence the ever-present critic and madman - demons dwelling within his psyche. He also sometimes writes articles for the local newspaper, some of which actually sell. But the quality of his work is hit or miss, and a few kroner here and a few kroner there can't ever add up to anything when you squander it as soon as you've got it on lavish meals and drink.
Unlike other similar novels, this one casts no aspersions on the king of folly. He is who he is, and he impacts those around him the way he does. The book offers no remedy, no social recriminations, no judments, no path to higher moral ground. What the book offers - like the murky waters of a swelling sea - is a seemingly neverending abyss of misery and suffering, and reading it feels like watching - in slow motion - the crushing daily collapse of the world's most unlucky individual.
A fun read.
What could very well end up being the model for a national health care plan, Massachusetts's's's's's' new plan will penalize those who can afford (someone needs to define "afford") health insurance but opt out of it and provide government subsidies to private insurance plans for those who can't. Bingo! More working poor will be covered, and, according to an article in The New York Times, more children will be eligible for free coverage.
Are you a Massachusetts business owner who employs more than 10 people? What? You don't provide insurance for your workers? Tsk! You will be fined up to $295 per employee per year under the universal plan. That's definitely not a big enough payout to make you not be a slumemployer, but it will, at least, be a thorn in your side to remind you, each year, what a scumbag you really are.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is all in favor of the plan. Oh, except for that little provision penalizing businessowners. Bah!
This nearly universal health care plan, funded by a mix of those penalized and the government, is projected to cover 515,000 uninsured people within three years, according to the Times article. Legislators say that's 95 percent of the state's uninsured.
Currently, the great State of Hawaii boasts the slimmest rate of uninsured: three percent. That's thanks to a 1974 universal access law that required employers to provide insurance to employees working 20 hours a week or more. Other states have tried and succeeded - only to quickly fail among a flurry of repealed statutory language.
Cowards. You're only hurting yourselves. It has long been understood that where there are insured people there is preventative health care. Where there is preventative health care, there are way fewer indigent people making emergency room visits they will never pay for. Where there are fewer unpaid emergency room bills and unpaid surgeries and treatments that could have been avoided with preventative care, there are lower insurance rates and lower costs of treatment. Vicious cycle, anyone?
To read about the state's first moment of clarity, click here.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The girl's tiny fingers, their nails a bit too long, weren't wrapped around a stick used for drumming as she sat in the kitchen that night, near grandpa while he cooked dinner for his family and a guest. With a thin line of drool forming a bridge between her mouth and the tips of her thumb and forefinger, the girl clutched in her left hand a special treat she plucked from the bowl she circled with her legs. She held the treat up for me to see as if gloating, as if hinting that her treat was the most special of treats reserved for the most special of little girls.
The girl's mom and dad were busy that night, and grandpa offered to entertain. She loves grampy because he lets her play on the swing and the slide at the park, pet and kiss his zoo of dogs and cats, eat exotic cheeses and fruits, stay up late and gulp a swig of red wine here and there. Most especially, grampy lets her have her fill of her favorite special treat - after she scares off a zoo of cats, of course, for a spot around the bowl.
Monday, April 10, 2006
My wife is a faithful reader of your blog. She has tried to get me to read it, but I don't want to. You are way too sarcastic for my taste, and you seem to have some kind of problem with men. I wouldn't even be writing you, but I need your advice.
My wife has a big mouth in her head just like you. She is stubborn and has a mind of her own, and she gets really mad when she thinks I'm not treating her right. Her biggest complaints are that I try to tell her what to do too much and that I get loud with her when she doesn't listen.
We have been married for nine years. I am eight years older than her and when we first met and got married, she seemed to look up to me for advice about problems with jobs and friends. Now, she never asks for advice, and she rarely listens to me if I give it to her anyway. It makes me so mad that I start screaming at her, and it always ends up with her crying her stupid eyes out. It seems we fight all the time now that she reads your damn blog.
First off, go to hell. Second off, what should I do? All this arguing gets me more mad, and my throat is sore from all this yelling.
All Tuckered Out
Sturgis, South Dakota
Dear All Tuckered Out,
First of all, I want to congratulate your wife for having such a big mouth in her head. I'm sure that's the only way she has managed to cope with your lame ass for, what, nine fucking years? I would've either pressed divorce papers in your hand or pushed a fucking bullet through my head by now. But, whatever. To each his (or her) own.
Let me guess. You and your wife have a traditional type of marriage. She scrubs the shit stains out of your underwear, cooks you dinner every night, makes your bed every morning, lets you have command of the remote and plays dead every other day so you can hump her, right?
The man is the head of the household in your home, 'aint that right, buddy, and that's how it's a gonna stay, goddammit! But all this inequality isn't enough for you, is it? It doesn't secure your place in the home enough, does it? You just can't live unless you feel like you control every damn thought that runs through her brain, right? Your insecurity runs so deep that you wish you could see into the future and head her off at every pass, right? Do you have a hard on just thinking about it?
Tip #1: Shut the fuck up. Tip #2: I'm assuming your wife is an adult, so treat her like one. Tip #3: Shut the fuck up. Tip #4: Scrub out your own shit stains sometime. Tip #5: Shut the fuck up. Tip #6: Lay off her. If she ever writes me and I find out she's still crying because there's a bully breathing down her neck, I'm a gonna have to pay a visit to Sturgis, you verbally abusive piece of garbage.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Public Enemy's Flavor Flav needs some lovin', Boyeee!, and was pathetically willing to make his desperation known to the drooling masses (including myself) on his very own "Bachelor"-like series, "Flavor of Love." And what a catch these 20 women were in their cheaper-looking-than-a-porn-star garb and with their obviously insincere professions of love for one of the ugliest men known to exist. I mean, really. Gold teeth? Nappy hair? Those clothes. That body! The fucking clocks? I don't think any amount of money in the world could get me to stick my tongue in his mouth or let him stick anything of his in me, but all these women were willing to do it for even a chance at becoming the next Mrs. Flav.
I've got to hand it to Flavor Flav, though. Considering all his bad choices throughout the series - excusing some who seemed halfway normal and keeping others for their cup sizes or willingness to, both literally and metaphorically, kiss his ass - he ended up picking the right girl: the pretty and athletic young thing he nicknamed "Hoops" at the beginning of the series. She was smart. She was sassy. She spoke her mind. She appeared geniune. And the fact that she dumped him after the series ended lets me know she has at least some sense.
Hoops was one of the few women on the show who refused to get into attack mode against the others in this dog-eat-dog competition. There was screaming. There was cursing. There were accusations. There was tattling. There was even spitting. During the second-to-last episode after "Pumpkin" - one of the last three left - got the boot, the skeezy trash-talking "New York" started running her mouth. Apparently having nothing to lose, Pumpkin figured the timing was right to launch some of her saliva at New York's face. The attack seemed pretty fitting to me considering the nature of the show and the personalities of the women involved.
Ranking at one notch above "Jerry Springer," "Flavor of Love" is entertainment at it's almost least finest. If you missed it, don't worry. Since Flav didn't find what he was looking for the first time around, there's talk of a "Flavor of Love" part II.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
I got this tattoo in Dallas while visiting a friend. It's located on my spine between my shoulder blades. I'm terrified of needles, so it was a rite of passage of sorts. It means "true, honest, sincere" in Chinese or Japanese. Sadly, I don't remember which.
It's not this dark anymore. My tattoo has since faded with time and sun even though I slather SPF 30 on it every time it comes out for fresh air. It looks like ink was spilled on it courtesy of PhotoShop. I need to get it touched up, but I almost passed out from pain and loss of blood when I initially got it. Word to the wise: Don't take aspirin before you get a tattoo. Definitely don't take three. You might think it will stave off any impending headaches, but, in the end, you will just end up bleeding "like a stuck pig," according to the tattoo artist who permanently injected this character into my flesh.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Two young boys get pleasured by an older woman simultaneously while they grope under her dress and wrap their greedy hands around her boobs. A 15-year-old (or so) girl sits naked from the waist up while grandpa, fat-bellied and soaking in a bubbly tub, moans and groans as she clips his dirty toenails with her teeth. Baby, you know what grandpa likes! A small boy's much older brother gets a mouthful of pubic hair after he chomps into part of a pork kidney his brother had recently wanked one off inside while looking at nudie magazines in the bathroom.
Directed by Jean-Claude Lauzon, "Leolo" is, plainly and simply, about growing up among family members who are as savage as they are kind. It's about the vulgarities of the everyday - magnified by 100 - and the horrendous things that can be passed from one generation to the next through both DNA and the culture and norms of the family. Leolo, played by Maxime Collin, learns how to cope in a highly dysfunctional family by concocting a fertile alternate reality in which to exist.
The imagery and incidents in this film disturbed even me, and I highly recommend it.
French, of course, with English subtitles
Thursday, April 06, 2006
OK! Wake up! It's time for you to get turned on to some really good music. Put down that Christina Aguilera! Throw away Hilary Duff! Toss out Britney, Brandy and Justin! Fuck you, Jessica! Country music, you say? What?! You only listen to the radio? Get with it! I present to you My Music, part deux.
So I last left off at around age 15, when I was a big-time lo(s)ner whose favorite activities included making out with posters, reading and pretending I was a professional dancer in my parents' garage. The radio was my best friend, and I often played games like Monopoly and Uno by myself. You wouldn't have fucked me, either, would you? Well, things change.
My junior year in high school, I got a job and a boyfriend and became an even bigger outcast at school. But, wow!, I grew boobs (finally!) and the longest legs in the universe, got a good hairstyle, lost the glasses and became a Goth bombshell almost overnight. I started smoking and drinking, my grades went from 5 As and 2 Bs each grading period to something hovering around 3 As, a B, a couple Cs and, always, a D or an F.
My downward spiral was greased with bands like Guns n' Roses (My dad gave me the Appetite for Destruction tape for Christmas when I was 15 after I begged for it for hours. We would sit on the patio playing backgammon and listening to it. I think he liked it!), the Beastie Boys, Depeche Mode, The Cult (Sonic Temple) and The Cure with, thanks to my new skater buddies, a little Dead Milkmen, Circle Jerks and Minor Threat thrown in. I introduced my high school to Jane's Addiction after I stumbled upon an interesting-looking album cover containing two mannequins with their heads on fire. I had no idea what a Jane's Addiction was at the time, but I learned quickly and ended up seeing the group in concert not long before it split up.
|Jane's Addiction - My two favorite J's A albums|
|Violent Femmes - Spent most of my senior year listening to this one|
|Pixies - Way cool guitars. Frank Black is a genius!|
|Concrete Blonde - What was I thinking?|
Just after high school
I moved out of my parents' house about two weeks after I graduated from high school. My life was so chaotic at this point, I didn't really have time for new music. But, in addition to the above-mentioned bands, here were some of my favorites. I had them all on tape.
|Sugarcubes - The Icelandic band that eventually gave us Bjork. This album is my favorite of theirs.|
Around this time or earlier, I started listening to Nine Inch Nails. Somewhere in here came Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam, a one-good-album wonder, in my opinion.
Fugazi - I became a HUGE Fugazi fan around this time and had the group's first album on tape. The band, now defunct, hailed from Washington D.C. The lead singer owns the Dischord Records label. I saw the band in concert in Pinellas County and, for a while, became a pen pal with the bass player, Guy. Because of him and his acrobatics on stage (while playing!) I bought a bass guitar and started learning some of the band's songs. They sold concert tickets for $5 and refused to come out with so much as a T-shirt. Hated commercialism, ranted against the government and kicked people out of their concerts for being violent. I own all of Fugazi's albums on CD, but these are my favorites.
Portishead - Moody girl stuff that will make you want to kill yourself
|Single Gun Theory|
|Coil - One of the most interesting albums I've ever heard. I believe they're German.|
Rosewater Elizabeth - The lead singer in this now-defunct band was a friend of a friend from the old days. I saw the band play twice, once in an abandoned cigar factory in Ybor City and once at the on-campus bar/club at FSU. I wish I had a huge voice like this tiny woman. I normally don't like ethereal music, but this music is ethereal in a really good way. One of my favorite bands of all time. I'm not sure if you can find any of the band's albums. I own them all.
I was in college at FSU during the time I got turned on to the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy. It was like a dam broke in my brain, even though an ex's friend from Germany told me rather smugly, "All the music in Europe sounds like this. What's so great about it?"
|Brainticket - Kraut rock from the 70s that will blow your mind. It's weird.|
PJ Harvey - This feminist hard rocker knows how to make an album. I own everything she's ever come out with, but these are my favorites. Are you man-size?
|Tricky - These are my favorite albums of his. I have seen him in concert twice (NYC and Portland). He needs to lay off the coke, but his music is fabulous.|
Rage Against the Machine - All the albums are great
Lamb - Electronic girl music. These albums are great.
|Kruder & Dorfmeister - Modern bossanova by the masters. Fabulous music for road trips.|
While I lived in NYC, I discovered very few bands. I was too busy just trying to survive. Here is where I gained a love of jazz and began listening to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. What better place to do it?
In Portland, I worked for Border's and got paid to stand around all day and listen to music and talk about music and books. My favorite job ever. I was introduced to a lot of great bands here, but I will mention only the big ones whose albums I own.
|DJ Krush - Another band I listened to as I drove to and from work in Portland. This is my favorite album by the Krush. Japanese breakbeat.|
|Roni Size - This is the best Roni Size album. I listened to this album a lot when I would go for walks in Portland.|
|Radiohead - I know I don't need to say more about this band. These two are my favorite albums. I came to like Radiohead pretty late in the game. I would say I jumped on the Radiohead bandwagon, but I like Amnesiac far too much to say that.|
I'm back in Tallahassee now. Here are some bands to which I was introduced when I first moved back here.
|Amon Tobin - This is my all-time favorite band. I have everything made by Amon. These four are my absolute favorites. This is the jazz of the future. The music contains jazz influences with all different sounds mixed in. Many of the songs have their own individual, distinct feel. Good to dance to and go crazy with. Some songs have D&B mixed in as well. This band is a MUST!|
|Ohgr - Industrial. This is my favorite.|
|Pigface - Introduced to me by an ex as was Ohgr, Bonobo and Dieselboy (below). This band is mostly a revolving band with some central characters, but other musicians float in and out. It's mostly industrial, but each song has a distinctly different feel. I saw this group perform in Tallahassee.|
|Goldie - This is his best album by far. I think I had this album much earlier, though. Oops!|
|Dieselboy - Any of his albums will do. All his stuff sounds the same. For the hardest D&B around, come knocking on Dieselboy's door.|
Bonobo - Dial "M" for Monkey, baby! Electronic.
|DJ Spooky - I'm not a fan of his other albums, but this one is to die for. Love the moody strings in the background.|
Within the last two years
Goldfrapp - Electronic to the max
|Jolie Holland - Old timey country sounds and a bunch of other influences. I love her voice.|
|Four Tet - Electronic music. One of my favorites. I listened to the first album below the whole time I was in North Carolina. Perfect music for driving through mountains.|
|Matmos - Experimental band that is one of my current favorites. There is a new album coming out May 9.|
|Celebration - One of my favorite new bands. Is the lead singer a male or a female? Read the liner notes.|
|Hooverphonic - Electronic|
|Bohren & der Club of Gore - Dark and moody German jazz. Would jazz from Germany be any other way?|
|Odd Nosdam - Experimental music. Cool sounds|
|The Octopus Project - An experimental band that has some neat sounds|
|Wilderness - A rock band that hails from Baltimore. I heard them play at Black Cat in D.C.|
|The Evens - A mild folky rock band featuring former lead singer of Fugazi, Ian MacKaye|
*This post contains just a tiny sampling of the music I dig.