Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I cannot stop loving on Rachel Maddow...I'm sure you'll understand why:

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Monday, October 20, 2008
Thanks Colin Powell...for lots of things. Including this:

Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.

And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life."

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Friday, October 17, 2008
Friday Flicks v. 8
I normally like the fall movie season much more than the summer "block busters." There are quite a few movies I'm really looking forward to seeing. I haven't been in a movie theater since Labor Day weekend. I miss going to the movies...Here are a few that I plan on seeing:


Rachel Getting Married


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Monday, October 13, 2008
Gay Friendly High School?
CNN reports that public school officials in Chicago, Illinois are recommending approval of a "gay-friendly" high school because harassment and violence are causing gay students to skip class and drop out at alarming rates.

The school would not be only for gay students but would provide counseling for teens who have suffered from bullying and include curriculum about sexual history and identity in history and literature classes.

In part, I am sad that it has to come to this and in part and I've considered that the move may reduce tolerance because homophobic straight students will not have any interactions with LGBTQ peers. But, it is not the LGBT students' job to educate their peers on tolerance. Especially when it puts them in danger....

The study found that 86.2 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1 percent physically harassed and 22.1 percent physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

The rates are startling but understandable when you consider that 39 states do not provide protection via the law. If only ALL schools had diverse curriculum and programs in place to help students understand that sexual diversity is not deviant....

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Sunday, October 12, 2008
A Little Sunday Reading v. 17
I recently finished F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. It took me forever to get through. In part, I moved slowly to take in all the decadence, expression and beautiful language. In part, I moved slowly because the plot did. I attacked this book when I first started. I was immediately taken with Amory Blaine and his sadness, introspection and curiosity. I was totally with him through his last year of college. And then. In that last year, he got a bit...needy and whiny. And I'm not sure if this is an indict of Amory or Fitzgerald but he had no point. In part, I think it was the point. But I don't think it was Fitzgerald's idea that Amory have no insight other than what others saw in him. But I could be wrong.

The truly lovely parts of the book came when Amory was in love. And he was in love often. Amory in love was the redeeming part of the book. When I was reading those sections, I was convinced I was going to read the book over and over! But then....imminent doom would descend upon his relationships and, in turn, the plot! And perhaps that is where my discomfort lies--with the fact that I only liked Amory when he was in love. I didn't like him on his own terms.

However, the writing was breathtaking. Wanna see? Ok.

I know I'm not a regular fellow, yet I loathe anybody else that isn't. I can't decide whether to cultivate my mind and be a great dramatist or to thumb my nose at the 'Golden Treasury' and be a Princeton slicker.

He had a snapshot of Isabelle, enshrined in an old watch, and at eight almost every night he would turn off all the lights except the desk lamp and, sitting by the open windows with the picture before him, write her rapturous letters.

No, I'm romantic--a sentimental person thinks things will last--a romantic person hopes against hope that they won't. Sentiment is emotional.

As long as they knew each other Eleanor and Amory could be 'on a subject' and stop talking with the definite thought of it in their heads, yet ten minutes later speak aloud and find that their minds had followed the same channels and led them each to a parallel idea, an idea that others would have found absolutely unconnected with the first...Oh, she was magnificent--pale skin, the color of marble in the star-light, slender brows, and eyes that glittered green as emeralds in the blinding glare.

We can't possibly have a summer love. SO many people have tried that the name's become proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It's a sad season of life without has no day.

He was in an eddy again, a deep, lethargic gulf, without desire to work or write, love or dissipate. For the first time in his life he rather longed for death to roll over his generation, obliterating their petty fevers and struggles and exaltation. His youth seemed never so vanished as now in the contrast between the utter loneliness of this visit and that riotous, joyful party of four years before. Things that had been the merest commonplaces of his life then, deep sleep, the sense of beauty around him, all desire, had flown away and the gaps they left were filled only with the great listlessness of his disillusion.

He pictured the rooms where these people lived--where the patterns of the blistered wall-papers were heavy reiterated sunflowers on green and yellow backgrounds, where there were tin bathtubs and gloomy hallways and verdureless, unnameable spaces in back of the buildings; where even love dressed as seduction--a sordid murder around the corner, illicit motherhood in the flat above.

Usually, on nights like this, for there had been many lately, he could escape from this consuming introspection by thinking of children and the infinite possibilities of children--he leaned and listened and he heard a startled baby awake int he house across the street and lend a tiny whimper to the still night; quick as a flash he turned away, wondering with a touch of panic whether something in the brooding despair of his mood had made a darkness in its tiny soul.

In other bookish news, I want to share a few links you may find interesting:

Interesting inscriptions
by interesting people. Totally love this.

Bill Clinton recommends some books.

Feministing talks about their ten fave feminist books.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Giveaway: Josh Henkin's Matrimony

Ya'll! I have exciting news! I'm happy to announce a very special giveaway today: an inscribed copy of Josh Henkin's Matrimony which has recently been released in paperback. The novel was a New York Times Notable Book, a Book Sense pick and selected as a Borders' Original Voices.

Matrimony tells the story of a young married couple, Mia and Julian. The story weaves in the love, loss and struggles that define all good marriages. The best part of the book for me is how well Henkin understands life in Michigan. While I no longer live there, I still consider myself a Michigander. He gets every detail right...the gray weather, the great people, the academic endeavors at U of M. Truely charming account of the great state! You can see Henkin talk about the book here.

Henkin is a huge supporter of book clubs. In a recent interview, he said "I'm a novelist and a professor of fiction writing, so my life is a book group." Awesome. Check him out. Recommend the book to others. Select it for your book club. Perhaps you'll have a super, duper fancy book to bring to your book club meeting!

I'll select a winner at random. All you have to do is COMMENT by Friday the 10th at 8:00 a.m. Be sure to leave your email address!

[edit] CONGRATS TO ANDI and sorry about the delay! I'm bad at giveaways!

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Thursday, October 02, 2008
I'm concerned....

I am a literal person. But, on occasion, I enjoy symbolism. I think symbolism can be powerful and effective. Except! Except! in images like these....The image campaign is from Declare Yourself--a voter registration group targeting young people to vote. The provocative pictures are accompanied by a headline that says "only you can silence yourself." And, I get it. In theory. I get that not voting means not having a say in the future. Except....women aren't the only ones who can silence themselves. Sexism silences women. Patriarchy silences women. Violence silences women.

The pictures mimic violence. And, perhaps worse, they normalize it. These pictures should be disturbing. And not because they makes us think of voter registration or political apathy.

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Some words about the debate
I won't be watching the debate tonight. I've got a concert to attend. It is Rocktober after all...I can't be bothered with political participation. But I've had some thoughts over the past couple days regarding debates, expectations and sexism.

My sister-in-law sent me an interesting article today. The article does a few interesting things...

First, it lends credence to the idea that the Obama camp is attempting to raise expectations about Palin's debate skills. Most people who follow political rhetoric understand that if the expectations are low for a candidate, they most always meet or exceed those expectations. The better than expected performance is often misinterpreted to be a victory in the debate. The most recent example of this was George W. Bush. Because he was able to put together coherent sentences in 2000, he was seen in (some of) the post-debate spin as a winner. Not the winner but a winner. And soon, the headline was BUSH WINS DEBATE. These types of headlines suggest that Bush was somehow intellectual enough to be the leader of the free world. Obviously, the recent press about Palin suggests that she is about to crash and burn. This means any performance she has tonight is better than expected. The Obama camp is trying to manage some post-debate spin before the debate.

Second, the article continues the question of "how" Biden will debate Palin. Palin, after all, is a proud owner of a vagina. Vaginas make debates difficult. The article echos many others in tracing the difficulty back to the Bush/Ferraro debate in 1984 when Ferraro called H.W. out for being "patronizing." Of course, Ferraro dropped the line (although I don't doubt it was prepared) after Bush had offered to help her understand the difference between Iran and Lebenon. A difference she understood after 6 years in Congress.

To combat the difficulty, Biden has been practicing against Jennifer Granholm. A woman. The article says his practice is...."making it unlikely that he will fall into some of the potential pitfalls of debating against a woman." This is where I get a bit fuzzy....Does Biden normally fall into sexist, patronizing, hurtful speech? Does he have to practice against a woman in order to stay focused in the actual debate? Shouldn't it be true that Biden is as committed to a respectful, equal debate no matter the sex organs of his opponent? I'd like to think so. And I'd like Biden to come out and say so. I place much of the blame for this fuzzy analysis on the media and their pre-debate spin and (sudden) propensity to cry sexism. But I also am skepitcal of this essentialist handling of debate prep by the Obama/Biden campaign.

As a proud attendee of debate camp, I do not disparage the value of practice for debaters. I do not deny that Biden's biggest weakness during the debate will be his propensity to shout. Shouting=bad. Shouting does not seem presidential. Shouting does not sound calm and rational. And shouting can be sexist....when the words someone is shouting are sexist. But practice does not prevent falling into sexist traps. Nor does practicing against someone like Jennifer Granholm prepare Biden for debating Palin. As far as I can tell, Granholm and Palin can not be more different.

If Biden has to succumb to essentialist practicing to prevent sexist language from spewing out of his mouth, we have bigger issues than the debate....

[edit] Salon's take here

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