Thursday, March 29, 2007
The Infamous Proust Questionnaire
I'm not sure why it is so infamous...but over at Blogora, they did an updated version. I thought I'd play along...

You can too!

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sunday, nothing to do, comfortable bed, laziness
2. What is your greatest fear? Letting people down/not living up to expectations
3. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Eleanor Roosevelt
4. Which living person do you most admire? As of late, Elizabeth Edwards...but before that it was Howard Zinn
5. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I can be a *tad* judgmental
6. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty
7. What is your greatest extravagance? Buying clothing that I can't afford
8. What is your favorite journey? Don't Stop Believing...I mean....My intellectual one (oh wow, that is so lame...yet true)
9. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Selflessness--Some selfishness is good.
10. On what occasion do you lie? I don't. I would do better to be a little LESS honest actually
11. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Pasty. White. Skin.
12. Which living person do you most despise? George W. Bush
13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Actually, uh-oh (I know there are more but I can't think of any...I'm sure people will remind me)
14. What is your greatest regret? No regrets
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? ADS
16. Which talent would you most like to have? Ability to paint
17. What is your current state of mind? Full
18. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? They'd live closer
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting into [and surviving my first year at] UGA
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? Another version of myself
21. If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Another version of myself
22. What is your most treasured possession? Can people be possessions? ADS
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Having to beg for money and food
24. Where would you like to live? Washington D.C.
25. What is your favorite occupation? What? As in...what would MY favorite occupation be? Tenured professor with some consulting on the side
26. What is your most marked characteristic? I'm very social
27. What is the quality you most like in a man? Intelligence and humor
28. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Intelligence and humor
29. What do you most value in your friends? Intelligence and humor
30. Who are your favorite writers? Oh geez. I could go on and on but I'll narrow....Carson McCullers and Jane Austen
31. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
32. Who are your heroes in real life? My mom, Howard Zinn, Eleanor Roosevelt
33. What are your favorite names? Annabelle, Avery, Stella, Eliot
34. What is it that you most dislike? Cold weather and mayonnaise
35. How would you like to die? In my sleep
36. What is your motto?[I'm adding two from the original questionnaire here} The personal is political
37. Who is your favorite painter? N/ little sisters?!?
38. Who is your favorite musician?[and one of my own} Van Morrison
39. What is your favorite song? Brown Eyed Girl


Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Some words about Steve Martin
It seems to me that I'm not the only one who didn't know Steve Martin wrote things until Shopgirl came out (I think I just assumed it was another Steve Martin writing in the New Yorker...I probably even thought to myself 'that poor guy, I bet everyone always assumes it is STEVE MARTIN.'). And maybe even after that film people didn't realize it...maybe you still don't realize it. Well....I guess you realize it now. So...thank GOD you read this blog. Thank. God.

People...Steve Martin is funny. And I don't mean Cheaper by the Dozen or Bowfinger funny. I mean witty. And subtle. And genius.

I mean...

"writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol..."
Funny. (and true)

I just finished Pure Drivel. At the recommendation of my brother-in-law and because of my fondness of Shopgirl, I picked it up in the library today. I was wandering aimlessly and decided to look at it. I loved the cover so I went for it. It is a little book full of funny vignettes. Very quick and enjoyable read. I read it in approximately 45 minutes. It made me giggle. He gives advice on writing, taking medication joining Mensa and taking Zoloft. A little something for everyone.


"Let's go to the beach tonight...with a bottle of wine" -Office

In between itching by eyes out and suffering through the most violent sneezes known to woman*, I've been thinking of all the things I love about spring.

I love the ping of the metal baseball bats.

I love the sun!

Lots of dresses.

I (seriously) cannot get enough dresses.

I love flip flops!

My soundtrack for Spring? Office: Q & A
Take a listen and fall in looooove. You'll be be-bopping all around...or is that just me? Just me? Okay.

* Our pollen count is over 5,000. 5, 000. Anything over 200 is considered high. 200. I. AM. GOING. TO. DIE.


Monday, March 26, 2007
I'm Never Getting Work Done Again
You guys. The celebrity gossip website TMZ is planning a DC EDITION.

As you probably know TMZ relies on freelance photographers to photos of celebs. They pay dearly for cell phone photos and videos of stars at their worst. We have TMZ to thank for the tape of Michael Richard's tirade and many assorted bathing suit shots and clips of celebs being pulled over.

But now they are moving into the nation's capital and I can't help but think they'll be many other things to capture on film that goes beyond bathing suits.

Lots of DC'ites are claiming that TMZ is too lowbrow for the beltway. I wasn't aware that anything was too lowbrow for is already getting harder and harder to keep secrets in DC. TMZ is going to make it even harder. I think the site will start with pictures of staffers and senators acting inappropriately but I think that eventually it will spill over into many other areas.

Can't. Wait.


Sunday, March 25, 2007
Reign Over Me
Given the absence of blogging, you may have assumed I've quit my blog. But I haven't! YEY! I've just been living it up here in the ATH.

My lovely husband and I even went to see a movie on Saturday. A real! live! movie!

Reign Over Me

I have a little bit of a crush on serious Adam Sandler. I'm ho-hum on crazy, funny Adam Sandler. Mostly I just wonder why he wastes his time doing crap (Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison aside) when he is a very talented guy. I really enjoyed Punch Drunk Love. And although (my boy) Philip Seymour Hoffman made that movie, I thought Sandler was fantastic. He does awkward, discontent, and borderline crazy SO WELL. So. Well.

This movie is another fantastic example of Sandler's ability. His character is funny, charming and very broken. The script is great. The dialogue is moving without being trite. And it is about 9/11 without being about 9/11 (thank god).

I'd give this movie a 7/10. I would rate it much higher (IMDB has it at a 7.8 right now) except for two things--it moved a little slow at parts and Jada Pinkett Smith's character was pretty bad.

However, it is a very moving film with a great soundtrack. You should go see it. And cry in your popcorn.


10 books I can't live w/out

The Guardian's list is here.

My [top 10] list is:

1. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

2. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Carson McCullers)

3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer)

4. Encyclopedia of Rhetoric (Thomas Sloane)

5. Undoing Gender (Judith Butler)

6. The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen)

7. Little Women (Louisa Alcott)

8. The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

9. The History of Sexuality (Foucault)

10. Rules for Radicals (Saul Alinsky)

A nice blend of fictional, scholarly and political works.

And yours is?


Tuesday, March 20, 2007
What a perfect time to mention

that it is Back up Your Birth Control Day. Go forth, good emergency contraception. Because you know what access to contraception means? It means less unwanted pregnancies. YEY FOR LESS UNWANTED PREGNANCIES.

In related news, as you all know--I live in Georgia. And Georgia is crazy.

The Georgia house approved a measure yesterday that would require doctors to offer to show patients requesting an abortion an ultrasound image of the fetus if an image was made.

See? Crazy! An. Ultrasound. OFTHE FETUS?!?!?!

In other related should only go to Kroger because they actually force their pharmacists to give out EC. As you know, I have some grocery store issues....glad Kroger cleared them up for me.


Monday, March 19, 2007
Sad Anniversary

Today is the fourth anniversary of the US occupation of Iraq. And the sacrifices continue:

* Over 3,000 US troops have died and another 24,000 have been wounded

* $505 billion of US taxpayers' money. President Bush is expected to request another $100 billion in war-spending for 2007 and $140 billion for 2008. The cumulative total? Over $700 billion.

* Iraqi casualties are reported somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000. Although some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian causalities at over 600,000.

* Iraqis who "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops" - 82%

* More than six in 10 Iraqis now say that their lives are going badly -- double the percentage who said so in late 2005.

I'm reading an incredible book right now--Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. The author argues that looking at the practice of mothering (which is not limited only to women) and the tactics of feminist resistance movements may give way to new ways of resolving disputes. I highly recommend it!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007
Hey! Good news!
And by good, I mean bad...and by bad, I mean not overly surprising...

Did you know the tenure process discriminates against women? Full story here.

Balancing family and work is one reason why achieving tenure is so difficult for women. The average age of someone applying for tenure is 33, and the review process takes about five years from the day he or she is hired at the institution. This coincides directly with when many women are considering starting families. “Fulfilling responsibilities is a 60- to 70-hour-a-week job. That’s the kind of commitment universities are looking for."... While work-life balance can be a challenge for men, too, women must handle the biological demands of pregnancy and are much more likely to become the primary caregiver for their children and the primary domestic laborer in their homes, even when both partners work full-time.

I know that balancing work and family is an issue for all career women who choose to become mothers. However, I can't help but reflect on how specifically unfair it is for academics. Not only have we been in school for ten years by the time we actually begin our careers but if we are unable to publish at a rate which is satisfactory to our institution, we have to leave. And by leave, I mean we're asked to go. You don't get to stay in un-tenured land forever. The demands of tenure are hard enough for people who don't have to give birth, breast feed, stay at home during a difficult pregnancy, etc, etc, etc.

I remember when I chose this of the reasons I did was because of the "flexibility" the career provided.


Spring Break 2007 Part II: Chicago
I love March. I love March Madness, St. Patrick's Day, spring, and spring break. But by now, my spring break is spring broke (little giggle at that joke). *le sigh* It was a good week while it lasted.

Drew and I (along with our friend Ammon) headed to Chicago for a few days this week to visit our sisters. I ate lots of good food, saw many old friends and did a ton of shopping. I have pictures of exactly none of it. But I did photograph debauchery. Lots. Because you know what happens when you go visit two hott ladies who live a crazy life in the city? Debauchery. Lots.

Besides all the family goodness that occurred, the highlight of the trip was the Soupbox. Peoples, I love soup. Very much. This place is awesome. A bar of soup. You could try all sorts of different soups. Combine soups. I never wanted to leave. But I did. I combined the Baked Potato with the Cheese Beer. MMMMMM.

Here's my sister, Kourtney. She likes when I post pictures of her on the Internets.

More pictures in the Shutterfly.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Spring Break 2007 Part I: Savannah
Hey you crazy kids! You know what you should do? You should go to Savannah, Georgia. Yep. Today. We just got back and had a great, great time.

See?! That is fun being had!

Great weather. Great company. Great food. Ahhhhh vacation.


1. Lady and Sons. PAULA DEEN'S restaurant. Paula Deen (Paula's Home Cooking) has a show on the food network. She is awesome. Her food is awesome. Her place is awesome. But you have to be dedicated to go--in order to get on the list to eat, one* must wait in a very long line with other crazy tourists. But once you get inside...OH WOW...lots of fried, starchy pieces of heaven await.

2. Smiles Piano Bar. I love piano bars. This one was particularly fun and cheap. I can't guarantee you as good of time as we had as we are extraordinarily fun people. But you should go anyway and give it your best. But you should know that the players refused to play Come On Eileen--even after three requests and much pouting from me. Apparently they don't know all the words. Pffff.

3. Mrs. Wilkes' Dining House. More country home cooking. Family style dining. Also involves a line (an hour in our case). More variety than Lady and Sons but the chicken wasn't as good.

More pictures at my Shutterfly account. You should take a look at some of the scenic pictures. There is more to Savannah than food and drink.
We are trading in our warm weather to head north tomorrow. Chicago here we come!

* And by one I mean someone other than me...I made Drew do it because that is the type of partner I am

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Thursday, March 08, 2007
Down with Sexism
Blog Against Sexism Day

So here I am blogging against sexism...


Blogging against sexism is hard. Hard because sexism is almost impossible to define and explain. Sexism is linked to so many other manifestations of power and domination and hegemony. It involves gender, sexuality and empowerment issues. And I have a lot to say. So much to say that I can't say it.

Hmmmm...That's problematic.

I try to point to lots of instances of sexism everyday. And I talk a lot about the challenges of feminism and the challenges of being a feminist. I hope you've all been listening.

So to start...I'm going to point you to a lot of different resources. The answer to sexism/discrimination/hate/misogyny is dialogue and education. And, um, blogs are good for both. So are books.

Go, go gadget feminists.....


Feminist Authors and Projects:
* Judith Halberstam
* bell hooks
* Judith Butler
*Monique Wittig

And some non-scholarly stuff....
*Carson McCullers
*Zora Neale Hurston
*Toni Morrison
*Anna Quindlen
*Jane Austen

And some movies....
* Maria Full of Grace
* Magdelene Sisters
* Boys Don't Cry (lots of gender/sexuality/violence issues)
* Vera Drake (and we think we have it tough fighting for emergency contraception)
* North Country


Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I'm going with hell to the no

This is what a feminist looks like?!

THIS article from the New York Times is rIIIIIdiculous. If I wrote letters, I'd write a letter.

Parents looking for role models for teenage daughters: Finally there is a show for you. “Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll,” which is to have its premiere on Tuesday night on the CW network, may look like just another reality show with attractive, slinkily dressed women preening for the camera in the hope of a shot at stardom. But “Pussycat Dolls Present” is about female empowerment, the show’s producers explained to a group of television writers and critics here in January

The article suggests that the Pussycat Dolls are 'clad in feminism' due to their sexual empowering performances. Sexual. Empowerment. Sexual empowerment comes in nudity and child-like characters?!?!

“They feel that it is empowering to get up there and dress up like a Doll. It’s fun, and it’s something that every girl in the world — she may think one thing, but I think inside every girl in the world wants to do it.”

This article links the Dolls to third-wave feminism. I agree. And while I think there are libratory functions to be had within the third-wave, examples like this make my head explode. If this was a truly feminist text, the show would be talking about ways advertising/male-dominated entertainment constrain women. The Dolls wouldn't perform (on a stage!) to music that refers to sexually empowered women as Freaks. It raises another question--why is it that when middle/upper-class, white women strip they are seen as provocative and liberated but when lower class women have to perform to survive it is seen as dirty and degrading?

Thumbs down NYT. And thumbs down to all people who think feminism has boiled down to this.

Parents?! If you're looking for role-models for your teenage daughters, turn off the television and give them a book.

Holy cow...head exploding....


Monday, March 05, 2007
Faith Based Politics
With all this talk about the benefit of Obama and his faith, we often overlook Edwards' faith-based message. He recently sat down with beliefnet for an extensive interview. I'd encourage you to take a look/listen and see what you think. I've said before that something about Obama's religious rhetoric makes me uncomfortable. That something isn't present in Edwards. I've given some thought as to why....but I encourage you all to add your thoughts. Many of you know way more about this stuff than me.

We can probably all agree that as the chief executive--presidents both reflect and influence cultural norms. That is why so many Americans look for a religious leader (and will continue to elect religious leaders). An American president, therefore, becomes the priest, prophet, and guardian of the national civic religion. As a moderately religious person and someone who does not identify as a Christian, I feel confident in Edwards ability to be the guardian of my civic religion.

1. Because of the President's influence over cultural norms it is important (to me and probably to others) that they understand the separation of church and state yet are still able to articulate a strong faith-based message. The message has to be grounded in the Constitution but articulated in a way that doesn't allow the right to continue to dominate the discussion. I see both of these aspects in Edwards rhetoric. He articulates the difference between allowing faith to influence decisions and not needing to impose his faith on others.

Yes, it does. I do believe in the separation of church and state. But I don't think separation of church and state means you have to be free from your faith. My faith informs everything I think and do. It's part of my value system. And to suggest that I can somehow separate and divorce that from the rest of me is not possible. I would not, under any circumstances, try to impose my personal faith and belief on the rest of the country. I don't think that's right. I don't think that's appropriate. But freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion. And I think that anything we can do to promote the idea that people should express their faith is a good thing.

2. I really, really, really like the way Edwards articulates the morality debate. He does not argue that the most pressing moral issues of our day are abortion, gay marriage, stem cells, etc. Instead, he calls on us to provide health care and shelter for the millions suffering from extreme poverty world wide. This is an important step for the public discourse surrounding "morality." Specifically, it gives the Democrats ground in the debate. I like the idea that a country can be moral and not legislate sex, bodies and marriage. Obviously the Republicans like to claim that they are the party of family values and morality--Edwards beats this perception back. I'd like to see him extend that analysis to the war and other int'l issues.

3. Edwards authentically deals with sin, disappointment and Godliness. I think his honesty will resonate with voters. In particular, I like phrases such as the one below as opposed to Obama's continuously positive/worship/preachy message.

Because I am like anyone else. I revert to bad, selfish behavior. I try to make myself not do it, but I'm like everybody else. Sometimes better; sometimes worse. And I think there's not a single day goes by that he doesn't feel some disappointment in me. But, he doesn't give up on me--never gives up on me.

No matter how much I wish candidates didn't have to talk so much about faith, God, morality, etc, I accept the fact that they do it to win. I want the democrats to win in 08. Therefore I look for the candidate that most reflects my values and I can accept that their values come from their faith in God and mine come from a belief in justice and civil service. With Edwards--his message resonates with voters that fall here, there and everywhere in between.

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Some words about loyalty
I finally finished The Twenty-Seventh City by Jonathan Franzen....

I've talked about Franzen before. He is a very, very good writer. Love his dialogue...attention to detail...complete catalogue of the mundane. thing I didn't start with this book-- his first novel. wouldn't have picked up anything else by him. Ever. Even if it was the one and only book left on the planet and I would die if I didn't read it. Even then I would refuse.

Ok...I may be exagerating a teeny tiny bit BUT I didn't enjoy the book. It moved a little too slow and then, in contrast, the dramatic parts were just a little too dramatic. And that went on--for 500+ pages and I found myself irritated with Franzen. Not irritated enough to put down the book because I'm a loyal reader and was trying to find sophistication in the wandering story...but irritated enough to say 'shame on you' in my silent, judgmental voice.

Anyway.... I realized upon reflection that this is a trend with me. This being my unhappiness with authors who I previously had fallen in love with.

Franzen, Dave Eggers, Nick Hornby* and Jonthan Safran Foer are fantastic examples of authors that I devour and then turn on later in our relationship. Don't get me wrong, I haven't disowned them. No. I still pick up their new work and give it a chance but I always have that little voice of doubt in the back of my mind.... "Dave, Dave, this going to be Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius awesome or You Shall Know our Velocity mediocrity?"

So, Internets....Is it that my standards become so high it is impossible for them to meet the expectation...or am I just fickle? Or is a love/hate relationship normal to have with authors ? (authors who, um, you don't know yet continue to have imaginary conversations with anyway)

*It should be noted that I have enjoyed more than one book from both Franzen and Hornby. I've enjoyed many books by Hornby...


Sunday, March 04, 2007
Nicely Played: Elizabeth Edwards
John Edwards has done a lot of great things in his life and I'm sure he'll do a lot more. However, I can't help but think the best thing he's done is asking Elizabeth to marry him. I've talked before about how much I love her. And she keeps on keeping on...she has been fundamental in gaining the netroots support of her husband and really has mastered the virtual political game. Yesterday she issued this response to Ann Coulter's attack on Edwards. (Coulter's comments)

It isn't as much a response to Coulter as it is to hate speech. I particularly enjoy this analysis:

We are all sick and tired of anyone supporting or applauding or introducing hate words into the national dialogue, tired of people thinking that words that cause others pain are fair game. And we are sick and tired of people like Miss Coulter thinking that her use of loaded words about the homosexual community in this country is remotely humorous or appropriate.

As those close to me know, even the word "gay" gets to me. I continuously ask people what about the object they just called gay has "homosexual tendencies" or if they "ever call anything good gay" (they don't). I spend many days in class talking about harmful language with my students and ethical considerations as a public speaker.

Not only am I horrified that Coulter used such inappropriate language. But I am horrified that she was allowed to speak at a national political event (remember--she's already done this once in reference to Gore) and that those in the audience laughed and continued to listen to what she had to say. (laughed?! you know what isn't funny? jokes about rehab and homosexuals...hers had both)

So you can vote for the people who were sitting in the audience or you can vote for the people who speak out against this type of hate speech.