Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Listening pleasure, too
More Winterpills....

These people are ridiculously good. Love this song.


Monday, April 23, 2007
Taking a break
Me and the blog will probably be taking a little break this week...gots some stuff to do.

However, I leave you with some reading material:

A great NYT article that links violence, misogyny and masculinity to the VA Tech shooting. I've tried to make that argument but this piece is much better.

Inside Higher Ed talks about what instructors can do when they see red flags in a student's creative expression. I've only ever had one student give me that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was actually last semester. I didn't really do anything about it other than attempt to avoid him. He's been on my mind A LOT lately.

A breakdown of all the 08 candidate's reactions to the partial birth decision last week. Predictably Hillary Clinton is lame. I really enjoy Edwards' response and I am particularly drawn to Obama's ability to frame it as a human/equal right's issue. Considering these types of procedures are done in less than 10% of abortion cases and only when women's lives are threatened, that is exactly what it is.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Words to live by
Not enough RFK's out there today....

On the Mindless Menace of Violence
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, OhioApril 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

[edit] My friend Mike just sent me the link to Obama's speech from yesterday. Dead on and very lovely words. In particular I love his attack on "verbal violence" and his call to action. Very good stuff.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Sad News Week
I haven't chimed in much about Imus....I haven't really known what to say. I mean I have A LOT to say...and I say it in conversations with friends, classmates and students. A lot of really productive conversations. But nothing overly insightful. That whole "nothing overly insightful" thing is bothersome. I study rhetoric for a living. I read and write constantly about langauge, rhetorical strategies, public argument, etc, etc, etc. Yet the way people use words never ceases to amaze me. The way people misuse words sting me. I almost take it personally as a critic. And as a woman, I take the events of these past 7-10 days very personally. From Imus to VA Tech--the media and the pundits and even a lot of the blogs are talking about the wrong things.

First, it doesn't matter if Imus gives money to charity or if he is "performing" when he is on the radio. It also doesn't matter he was using words that hip hop artists use. It doesn't matter that he met with the Rutgers women or Al Sharpton. What matters it the culture of discourse he and so many others represent. What matters is that almost no one was talking about it before Imus said the [now] infamous phrase. What matters is that because he was fired, we think "justice was served." Case closed. Asshole off the airwaves. The left waves their hands in the air in victory. The right nods their head knowingly. I'm left wondering--what the hell took so long? And how long do we have to wait for other racist mysoginists to be off the airwaves. ALL AIRWAVES.

Do I think that Imus shifted the blame to the hip hop artists? Yes. I was mesmerized by the ability of Imus to mention 'hip hop' on the Today show one morning and then not even be on the show the next (Matt was too busy to talk to Imus when he was talking about hip hop). Imus reframed the public debate. "Yes, I'm guilty but so are they...." Character=weak. Rhetoric=strong. Hip hop artists were not the ones in trouble. But do I think they share in some of his blame? Yes. NO ONE SHOULD SAY THOSE TYPES OF WORDS. No artist and no radio personality. Media Matters does a great job summarizing this culture of discourse that I find so disturbing. Why aren't people yelling about ALL THESE PEOPLE? Or why do a lot of YOU listen to music, watch movies and tell jokes that are offensive to women and African Americans?

Second, while the VA Tech massacre is horrifying, if I have to hear one more person say "how surprising it is" I am going to scream. Loudly. What is surprising about it? The violence? Really? The violence is surprising? Not to me....

The Iraq occupation wages on and we've seen the deadliest 6 months since the start of the war...
...and you can buy a doll at Toys-R-Us that is a rapist. A rapist. The doll is "rapist number one" from the movie Grindhouse. And how many of you went to see that movie? That movie that grossed over 4 million dollars this weekend....
And let's not forget about all the women bloggers getting graphic death threats.

What about this violent outburst surprises you? Our culture is a masculine, violent, misogynistic one. Case closed. If we want to fix it, we have A LOT of work to do.

And the worst part is that as we sit and shake our head at Imus and focus on the nationality of the shooter, we don't understand that these systems of discourse and violence implicate us as well. We're guilty based on the songs we listen to, movies we watch and people we don't stick up for. Guilty. I've said many times that beliefs are a lifestyle. I don't believe in violence, I don't spend money on violent movies. I abhor sexism, I don't buy hip hop cd's. I don't support the war, I don't vote for war supporters.

I can only hope that we all continue discussions about our choices.


Sunday, April 15, 2007
Never Have I Ever...
Sometimes you have the type of week that necessitates the type of Friday night where you spontaneously penny roll your pants, pull your hair into a side ponytail and dance to the Police in your friend's living room.

And then you feel better.


Thursday, April 12, 2007
All that is wrong in the world summed up in three words*
One day of the week, I do all my work at Panera bread. There were a few different reasons this decision was made...

1. I like soup. Maybe I've mentioned that before. Panera is a great place to get soup
2. I did a lot of work there once and I decided that Panera is a 'good place for me to do work.' And like the good little OCD person I am, I have followed through with that plan every. single. week. Think Michael Douglas' robe in Wonder Boys. Yes. I'm that kinda crazy.
3. At Panera I'm not distracted by the people that I often get distracted by downtown. You know--these people. Or other assorted hippies that wear Members Only Jackets and drink beer at all hours of the day.
4. But unlike other non-downtown establishments, Panera doesn't seem to attract a loud, noisy family crowd. There is no play-place. There are no french fries. In general, kids aren't really Panera-people. And I like that. I tend to think kids under the age of 18 are rather uncivilized, annoying, distracting and in most situations gross. Very gross. That is why when I have little K-Mac junior, she'll be locked in her room until she's learned to chew with her mouth shut, talk in complete sentences, and consume high brow entertainment and academic theory. At the very least, she won't be allowed in public. You know why? Because I understand that kids are annoying when they are out in the public. And if they aren't your kids?! Even more annoying.

But Panera...No kids at Panera.

Until yesterday. Yesterday some sort of memo went out that told all the stay at home moms and dads to bring their uncivilized beasts to Panera. There was also some sort of addendum that urged the parents to allow their children to approach the bitchy woman in the corner who hates them. "Send them over...have them touch her books and her computer" the memo said. "Let them make lots of noise and run around as to prevent her from having a SINGLECOMPLETETHOUGHT" the memo encouraged. "Let them sit on the table and scream for butter so the bitchy girl is so amazed at your COMPLETELACKOFPARENTINGHERHEADEXPLODES" the memo read.

Yes, readers....There was a child SITTING. ON. THE. TABLE. And he was SCREAMING THAT HE WANTED BUTTER. BUTTER. BUTTER. ONTHETABLE. WITHHISSHOESON. "I WANT BUTTER" he yelled. And the mother? Gave him butter...after she was done talking on the phone, of course.

* Oh...you thought I was only going to say three words?! Silly reader.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007
From T.S. Eliot
The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.

April is the cruellest month.

I hate starting papers. I hate April. I think I'll just sit around and read poetry.

So close to the end...yet so far...
*le sigh*


Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Some words about place*
It is always weird to return to a place where you used to live. At least it is for me...immediately flooded with good/bad/fun memories at particular locations and with particular people. Winston-Salem is a particularly tricky place for me as the majority of my time spent there was pretty miserable--well not really miserable but I spent a majority of the time wishing I was somewhere else experiencing different things. I was getting adjusted to the south, grad school, being away from my family, the south, the lame-ass town that the 'Dash' was at the time, the south...you get the idea.

But a lot of really great things happened to me as well. I met great people. I finished a degree. I stayed warm and out of the snow. And somewhere along the way, I started to really like Winston. Of course, I didn't realize how much until I was away. But I like that town. I like it even more now that it has actually became a really cool place to live (not that I ever want to live there again...but I like to visit). There is actually a downtown with bars! There is culture!

We hit up the W-S this weekend for some tennis. We also went to a gallery hop where we saw work from my talented sister-in-law, Alison, and her equally talented partner, Cagney. We spent a LOT of time catching up with old friends and eating good food.

Oh! And...um...we hung out with Andy Roddick. See?

Andy and my aforementioned sister-in-law

"Hanging out" may be a slight exaggeration...but I did handle his American Express card and his shots of Grey Goose as I passed them back and forth from the bartender to him. I wasn't actually the biggest fan of Andy this weekend--but that had more to do with his excessive yelling at the ballboys and poor interaction with the crowd during his match and less with his inability to smile in this picture.

I'll post more pictures to my shutterfly soon but like a bad comedic skit, my camera finally died just as we began to do something cool. Bad camera. But I borrowed Alison's so have no fear. Pictures will be posted. Fun will be seen.

* And Andy Roddick


Monday, April 09, 2007
Female Blogging
Help a girl out...

A student (not mine) is doing research about why so many women blog. If you are a female blogger, take the survey!


I'm interested in her results...I think blogging is a great liberatory medium for women's voices to be heard. But...um...it could just be that we like to use the internets for fun.

Either way....

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Thursday, April 05, 2007
Some words about [lack of] sleep
1. I've been wearing my glasses a lot due to the pollen and itching. Sometimes I forget that I don't have sunglasses on and catch myself [openly] staring at people. They don't appreciate it.

2. When I'm waiting for the bus or riding on it....or sitting around groups of people in general, I often wonder why they aren't jamming along to the music. Then I realize they can't actually hear my ipod so I should probably stop dancing...

Yeah. My only defense is that I haven't been sleeping well.


I know that there are people around the world with whom I am intimately* connected. Sometimes when I'm awake at 3:30 in the morning, I find myself thinking about the many other people who are also awake...how many of them are connected to me in some [distant] way...then I wonder which one of them is keeping me awake with their negative energy. And then I hate them...for a brief second.

*You know...experience what they experience; feel their presence in some sort of weird way; connect with them on some sort of deeper level... that kind of intimate. We all have those people. The people that haunt us--some who haunt us before we've even met them. They are future soulmates.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007
The Science of Sleep
I have a love/hate relationship with sleep. I love it but often can't actually do it. As of late, I've been plagued with super wierd dreams*...

I think that is why I enjoyed the spirit of The Science of Sleep. I still can't really decide if I actually liked the movie or not...

The pros:

Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal who is easy on the eyes and ears...he's fantastic and has been in every movie he's ever done. I really can't say a bad thing about him. So maybe his performance alone is enough to warrant the rental. He is sufficiently crazed and hopeful. A perfect blend of broken yet promising. And have I mentioned he's good looking?!

The art direction was creative, visually interesting and unique. Because of that, the movie held my attention.

There was a certain degree of charm in the movie... I can't really elaborate other than to say that you were pulling for Bernal's character and could relate to a life that was led (and sometimes tortured) totally by dreams and fantasy.

That being said....

It was a little too fantasy fiction for me. While I'm okay with movies that dabble in the self-conscious, I prefer to be able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention to the movie, but at times I was flat out lost.

Besides Bernal, the other characters were incredibly boring as was the dialogue. Thank god the art direction was creative or I don't think I would have made it through.

Upon further reflection, you should watch the movie under a few circumstances:
1. You appreciate good art direction
2. You like fantasy fiction
3. You have a crush on Bernal (however, if you do and haven't seen Motorcycle Diaries, you should rent that instead.

* A couple nights ago, all my dreams were from when I was in high school. I was in high school and so were all the people who were currently in my life. They all looked the same but I looked 18. It was strange.


Monday, April 02, 2007
Some words about Hemingway and Letter-writing
A few years ago I went to the Outer Banks with some friends. We stayed in Hemingway's Havana. It was lovely...and the closest I've ever been to really liking anything Hemingway. I just don't normally connect with ole Ernie...If I want depressing, alcoholic fueled babble and crazed male protagonists I'll re-read some old journals*....

But clearly I've been reading the wrong stuff all these years! Today NPR had a feature on some newly released letters from Hemingway to [singer] Marlene Dietrich that are being unveiled at the JFK library.

Apparently Hemingway had some game....

"What do you really want to do for a life work...break everybody's heart for a dime? You could always break mine for a nickel and I'd bring the nickel."

"victims of unsynchronized passions..."


You know I have a fondness for celebrity relationships...and lament the loss of letters...it is a lovely story.

* I kid, I kid...I only have teenage agnst filled journals