Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I-Tues v. 7
You all know about my beloved Modern Skirts. They are incredible. I heart them. A. LOT. And now you can show them some love as well! They are trying to get their new video in the rotation on MTVu. They are in second place right now but you can vote for them. You can vote for them more than once. Just sit, watch t.v. and vote...over and over and over.

Go forth. Vote for the Skirts.

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Dangerously Reading v. 2
This month's selection was Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I was nervous to pick up the book as I had tried it before and didn't enjoy the experience. And the book started off a bit slow this time as well. But by 50 pages in, I was hooked and chiding myself for not reading it earlier. It is a beautiful but sad story filled with sharp social critique. The book narrates the story of Pecola, a poor, African-American, girl who suffers abuse at the hands of her father and (white) society. She prays for beauty and attention.

"Each night Pecola prayed for blue eyes. In her eleven years, no one had ever noticed Pecola. But with blue eyes, she thought, everything would be different. She would be so pretty that her parents would stop fighting. Her father would stop drinking. Her brother would stop running away. If only she could be beautiful. If only people would look at her."

While Morrison doesn't identify as a "feminist" writer, her books certainly keep the plight of African American women at the center. As such, I would argue that she resists patriarchy, sexism and racism. At the very least, her very style is resistant to hegemonic literary rules. The plot, choice of narrator, and language are all examples of Morrison pushing the literary envelope. Her discussion of the impact of abuse, racism and patriarchy is pointed and necessary. While I know Morrison has received a lot of flack about her female characters, I found the self-loathing of the African American women and children in this book to be heartbreakingly accurate.

You have to be in the right mood for the book. To. Be. Sure. It is not a light and fluffy read. But it is a commendable work. My edition had an epilogue from Morrison at the end that was excellent. She talked about how the book was received in 1970 and her rationale behind the characters. She writes, "With very few exceptions, the initial publication of The Bluest Eye was like Pecola's life: dismissed, trivialized, mis-read. And it has taken twenty-five years to gain for her the respectful publication this edition is."

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Happy (Fake) Love Day..tomorrow
As most of you know, I think Valentine's Day is a large bunch of ridiculousness. I posted about it last year resulting in some controversy. I like love. I like romance. I just don't like those things occurring on a designated day. And I don't enjoy holidays that reek of heterosexual conditioning. But whateves. To each their own. I'm willing to meet you half way....

So if you want a little romance in your life tomorrow, you should pick up this book. Other people's love letters?!?! Count me in.

Fevered notes scribbled on napkins after first dates. Titillating text messages. It's-not-you-it's-me relationship-enders. In Other People’s Love Letters, Bill Shapiro has searched America’s attics, closets, and cigar boxes and found actual letters–unflinchingly honest missives full of lust, provocation, guilt, and vulnerability–written only for a lover’s eyes. Modern love, of course, is not all bliss, and in these pages you’ll find the full range of a relationship, with its whispered promises as well as its heartache. But what at first appears to be a deliciously voyeuristic peek into other people’s most passionate moments, will ultimately reawaken your own desires and tenderness…because when you read these letters, you’ll find the heart you’re looking into is actually your own.

Letters on napkins? That is romance. Lust, provocation, guilt? Romance for sure.

I'm reading My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams right now. It combines two of my favorite things--being nosy and following politics.

A charming review can be found here of Shapiro's Love Letter book.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008
A Little Sunday Reading v. 8
A couple weeks ago I picked up Charles Baxter's book A Relative Stranger: Stories. A beautiful book of short stories that I found recommended on a list of the "best novels you've never read." The stories were so well-written and charming that I read many of them multiple times. An added bonus was that most were set in Michigan (Baxter used to teach at the University of Michigan). I'd heard of Baxter before but had never read him. I have no idea why. I immediately headed to the library and literally picked every book he's written from the shelf. This week I finished Feast of Love. AH-MAZING.

Baxter, in a self-proclaimed insomniac state, weaves the story of several people to give one coherent story of mistaken and real love. At times the story is so sad, I felt suffocated. But other moments were touching and uplifting. At all times, the writing was envy inducing. I feel like I marked every single page as notable.

Here is a small taste....

The man--ME, this pale being, no one else, it seems--wakes in fright, tangled up in the sheets. The darkened room, the half-closed doors of the closet and the slender pine-slatted lamp on the bedside table: I don't recognize them. On the opposite side of the room, the streetlight's distant luminance coating the window shade has an eerie unwelcome glow. None of these previously familiar objects have any familiarity now. What's worse, I cannot remember or recognize myself. I sit up in bed--actually, I lurch in mild sleepy terror toward the vertical. There's a demon here, one of the unnamed ones, the demon of erasure and forgetting. I can't manage my way through this feeling because my mind isn't working, and because it, the flesh in which I'm housed, hasn't yet become me.

As a member of the bourgeoisie, I live quietly in this midwestern city of ghosts and mutterers. Everywhere you go in this town you hear people muttering. Often this is brilliant muttering, tenurable muttering, but that is not my point. All these mini-vocalizations are the effect of the local university, the Amalagamated Education Corporations, as I call it, my employer. It is in the nature of universities to promote ideas that should not be put to use, whose glories must reside exclusively in the cranium. Therefore the muttering.

They--we--had a certain party varnish on. Depending on whether I've had enough to drink, I usually don't like ironic friendliness as much as homely glitter. Because it's the Midwest, no one really glitters because no one has to, it's more a dull shine, like frequently used silverware. We were all presentable enough, but almost no one was making any kid of statement. Out here in Michigan, real style is too difficult to maintain; the styles are all convenient and secondhand. We're all hand-me-downs personalities. But that's liberating: it frees you up for other matters of greater importance, the great themes, the sordid passions.

There are so many more great passages but they only really make sense when you've gotten to know and love the characters. I strongly, strongly recommend this book.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
The one in which I write about the big day

Happy Super Tuesday everyone! Gah. I love voting day. Normally it gets me energized and pumped for change. I'm nestled into my regular coffee shop/bar for my Tuesday morning routine. I am constantly refreshing Daily Kos and I'm eavesdropping on multiple conversations. This place is normally pretty divided between those who do tequila shots in the morning and head to their blue collar job and those who drink tea and don't ever go to a "job." The tequila folks stick to the tequila and the tea people stick to their respective corners. Except today. Today there is mingling. Today conversations are started over the peach "I Voted" stickers. There is division among the group. But that division isn't as simple as tea and tequila. Tea and tequila are mixing. They are in Obama, Clinton and Paul corners. As for me? I'm on the outskirts drinking my tea and listening in. I'm in the undecided corner. A surprising place to be. To be sure, I'm not here for lack of information. I'm not here for lack of concern, interest or opinion. I'm here because, well, I just can't decide. The way I see it, I have three options....

1. Vote for Obama. Vote for change and experience. Vote for someone who is promising to move the party in a new direction. I'll make history because I'll endorse a new face of the democratic party. I'll reward someone for fancy speeches and sound rhetoric. I'll vote for someone I like (and, dare I say, want to have a beer with) and smile knowing that I have spent the last 7 year blasting voters from 2000 and 2004 who argued they liked Bush better.

2. Vote for Clinton. Vote for change and experience. Vote for someone who is firmly rooted in the mistakes and progress of the Democratic party of old. I'll make history because I'll vote for a female president. I'll reward someone for 30+ years of service and hardwork. I'll vote for someone I like (and, dare I say, want to see succeed because of the sexism running wild in our system) and smile knowing that I have spent the better part of a this year blasting some media sources who would claim I would do something similar.

3. Vote for Edwards. Vote for the platform that I hold dear. Vote for someone who has consistently fought for the issues I hold dear. I won't make history, instead I'll be cast aside as a "wasted vote." People will talk about my percentage of the vote and laugh about how we must not have known Edwards dropped out. But I'll smile knowing that my message, although subtle, was a political one. I'll reward someone for setting the progressive, populist agenda in this race. I'll reward someone for talking about health care, poverty, and the fledgling economy from the start.

The option I'm leaning toward is 3. There is the cynical argument to be made that it won't matter. The polls pretty clearly show GA going for Obama. But I hate that "my vote won't matter" argument with a passion. There is the optimist argument to be made that I like both Clinton and Obama. I think they're both experienced and fighting for change. I think the differences between them are so minimal that if I hear one more argument about "mandates" I'm going to scream. If one's vote comes down to health care mandates, I'm concerned. If one becomes a political dogmatist over mandates, I'm incensed. Your vote should come down to who inspires you. Edwards inspired me which is why I'm so drawn to voting for him. I'm persuaded by both the benefit of a new direction for politics and a regression back to Clinton politics. In short, I'm persuaded. I'm also excited and hopeful. No matter which option I choose, I'll be glued to the television and political blogs tonight. This is an exciting day.

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I-Tues v. 6

I get a bit obsessive with music. If I like something, I really like something. I listen to it constantly and run it into the ground. I can tell something is "good" or "a favorite" if I continue to like it after a month or so. I have a new "good" "favorite" to let ya'll know about--The New Pornographers Challengers.

I've had a love/hate relationship with The New Pornographers. At times I get down with their insanely pop rock sound and other times they sound too noisy to me. I like Neko Case's voice but sometimes don't like the instrumental interludes. There is a fine line between fun and annoying for me. But their new album (I'm using "new" loosely as this album has been out for quite a while) gets it just right. It is the perfect blend of harmony, pop sound and moving lyrics. I can't get enough of it. Last week, I listed to it three times in a row. I don't know how it manages but the album is perfect to listen to during dinner and while you get ready to head out on the town. It is chill and uplifting. It is, in a word, awesome.

Download now and thank me later:
All the Old Showstoppers
Go Places

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