Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In Space, No One Can Hear You Laugh


For those who find chocolate deaths and orgasms to be passe, check out the recipe for this Dalek chocolate cake.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Music Meme

Karrie tagged me with this music meme.

Guidelines: list seven songs you are into right now. No matter what they are. They must be songs you are presently enjoying. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

1. Billy Bragg Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards

The original circa 1988


and updated for today ("I don't believe we can defeat no "Axis of Evil" by putting smart bombs in the hands of dumb people")


2. The Editors Munich


3. Robyn Hitchcock I Saw Nick Drake


and

Television


4. Pulp Disco 2000


and

Common People


5. Roddy Frame Crossing Newbury Street

6. U2 If God Will Send His Angels


7. The Police Synchronicity II I am looking forward to seeing this song performed live. (Yeah, I got tickets. Thank you, Joel, I owe you.)


OK, so now I must tag seven people.

Alright, I tag all of you. If you haven't already been tagged for this meme, consider yourself tagged. I have already blogged about how the only thing worse than being tagged for a meme is not being tagged for a meme. So if you are reading this and you haven't already blogged this meme, I want to know what music you are listening to. Tag, you're it.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Midnight Train To Georgia-Gladys Night and the Pips



This song always makes me cry.

When I was younger, I was overwhelmed by the love and the sacrifice in the song. I was always bowled over by the idea that you could love someone so much you would leave behind everything you knew just so you could be with him (and maybe I felt a bit of guilt as this is exactly what Fred did for me). I realized today, however, that this isn't the only reason I cry. Now, when I hear the song, I hear the part about realizing that all your dreams don't come true and the part that suggests that some things may be more important than dreams.

He kept dreamin'
That someday he'd be a star.
(Superstar, but he didn't get far)
But he sure found out the hard way
That dreams don't always come true.

The night of this year's Academy Awards, I went through the usual feelings of self doubt, recrimination and depression which acting awards shows inspire in me ("Maybe the truth is I am just not very talented"). And then I walked upstairs and looked at Julian sleeping and thought, "He's better than an Academy Award." For me, it is so easy to focus on all the things I didn't do and to wonder how things would have been different if only. In all my "if only" imaginings of the alternate reality, I have Fred and I have Julian, but I have read enough science fiction to know that if you change one thing, you run the risk of changing everything. There are parallel universes where I moved to LA at 21 and won an Oscar before I hit 30 (which was my original plan, but then a variety of factors, including falling in love with Fred, changed the plan). Is Fred with me in those other worlds? Because if I don't have Fred, I don't have Julian.

So now this song makes me cry because it makes me realize how lucky I am and how, despite the depression and doubt, I wouldn't change anything if it meant I didn't have my boys. As Gladys sings, "I'd rather live in his world than live without him in mine."

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Three Inch Golden Lotuses


If you missed the story on Morning Edition, go read about the last remaining women in China with bound feet here.

Foot binding has always fascinated me. In part because I couldn't imagine how anyone could do something like that. even wearing too tight shoes bothered me (I buy size 7 shoes usually and thought this was my shoe size up until about four years ago when I found out that I have a size 6 1/2 foot. I like having extra space.) At a young age, the knowledge of foot binding established a line which I knew I would never cross for beauty. Not that I understood making sacrifices for beauty when I was only six or seven. I believed everyone was beautiful and everyone had the bodies they were supposed to have and I wasn't aware that one could make modifications if they so desired. I remember I used to watch my mother put on makeup and I used to think she was so much more beautiful before any makeup went on; that I eventually began to see her as more attractive with makeup on says less about how my mother has aged than it does about how well I have internalized societal norms. I started to see people the way society wanted me to see them, I started to see myself the way I imagined society saw me. I was no longer the girl who climbed trees, I was the woman who was positive that all anyone saw when they looked at her were her thighs. So now I can understand foot binding. I can see how a mother living in a society with only one option for females, believing that it is her daughter's only chance at marital success, would wrap the bandages and break her child's foot. We do it here, today, except the bandages are invisible and the part of our children which we crush is the spirit and, oftentimes, we do it in spite of our best efforts to do otherwise.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Peace In Our Time


This is a panorama photo of the Reed College War Memorial and Protest.

Signs say
3,000 red flags
represent the 3,055
America soldiers who have died in the war in Iraq.
*In addition 356 soldiers have died in Afghanistan.

and
655,000 Iraqis have died.
Each of the 120,000 white flags represent
6 Iraqi soldiers and civilians who have
died in the
War in Iraq
Yes, they base their numbers on the controversial Lancet study so, perhaps, the number of flags are not truly representative of the number of human beings who have lost their lives in Iraq. It doesn't change the power of the photos or the reality that people have died (we can quibble over the numbers all we want, but every person who dies is important to a whole host of people who feel the loss of that one individual intensely.)


When the first Iraq war came, I was eighteen and I knew where I stood. I remember riding the bus home (I lived in an apartment off campus that year) and some guy my age asked me what I thought of the war. I told him I thought it was a bad thing. He told me this was probably because I didn't actually know anyone fighting seeing as I was obviously a student at that crazy commie school. For him, supporting the troops meant supporting the war. I told him I didn't like the idea of anyone dying and that, for me, supporting the troops meant meant only putting them in harm's way when absolutely necessary and I wasn't convinced.

My father supported that war. He insisted that a nation's sovereignty must be respected and that it was wrong for Saddam Hussein to manufacture a grievance as grounds to invade Kuwait.

In retrospect, I think my father was probably right. A nation's sovereignty must be respected. It is wrong of a nation to manufacture a grievance in order to justify the invasion of another country.


In the weeks before the current Iraq war, I didn't know how I felt. It felt inevitable and had felt that way for many months. George W. Bush was going to war with Iraq, regardless of what anyone else had to say. I didn't like the idea of going to war, I didn't think it was right for one nation to invade another, and I didn't think it would end terrorism. I didn't like the lack of diplomacy displayed by the United States and I didn't like the way our President squandered the sympathy generated by the events of September 11. I felt like I was trapped in a slow moving car headed straight for the edge of a cliff. However, Saddam Hussein was a terrible dictator who gave the impression he had something to hide and freeing the Iraqi people from his rule seemed like it would be a good thing.

I remember listening to the UN Security Council debate regarding the proposal by the US, Spain, and the UK which would have authorized military action and I remember how angry it made me. I remember one of the delegates, perhaps it was the ambassador from Brazil, saying that extending the "oil for food" program while continuing sanctions was necessary to secure "peace in our time." I called everyone I knew, shouting, "Peace in our time? OH MY GOD, someone actually said PEACE IN OUR TIME! They believe Saddam has nuclear weapons, they just don't care enough to do anything about it! What the hell is wrong with these people?" (although, to be fair, this is a misquote. Neville Chamberlain actually believed the Munich Agreement would bring peace for our time.) I started singing a variation of Robyn Hitchcock's Cynthia Mask, "Peace in our time, oh thank you Saddam, tell that to the Shia, tell that to the Kurds." I didn't necessarily believe that we should go to war, but I didn't think we should imagine for a moment that living in Saddam Hussein's Iraq was anything less than terrifying and if people believed that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons, how could they just sit there and say sanctions were working?

I felt paralyzed. The only feeling I could identify, the only feeling with regards to the war which wasn't conflicted or modified was incredible sadness. I remember thinking how, in a month or two, people who were at that point living their lives in Iraq would be dead and it would be because of the United States. People who would die because of the war who might have lived in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. For those who would lose a loved one, it wouldn't matter if the war was right or wrong.

The shock and awe began in March 2003.

I remember listening to Anne Gerrels one morning and her describing a man walking through the streets of Baghdad with his son's brains in a can shouting "Is this what you call liberation? Is this what you call democracy?"

We were told the war would end soon. And we were told it ended soon. Saddam's statues were toppled, President Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier an announced the mission had been accomplished, there was even an Iraqi election. But here we are, four years after the first shots were fired, our troops are still there and people continue to die.

Before the war, the Bush administration and those who supported their efforts told us our soldiers would be greeted as liberators, that the Iraqi people would throw flowers at them and wrap them in hugs. It didn't happen. Since then we have been told that anyone who criticizes this war or how it has been fought is not supporting our troops or is siding with the terrorists.

Is this what we call democracy? Is this what we call liberation?


Thanks to Dean for bringing this to my attention, Professor Ed Segel for teaching me everything I know (which, I'll admit, is not much) about diplomatic history and World War II, and my Dad for encouraging me to go to that crazy commie school all those years ago.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Food Porn


I feel so dirty reading this website. Just see how they describe the traditional Easter candies:

Red Fire - Volcano Rabbit (Romerolagus diazi)
Hops in the pine forests near the foothills of the Popocatepetl volcanoes. Rub my belly and you'll feel my spice, Ancho and Chipotle chillies, Ceylon cinnamon, and dark chocolate. Ahreeba, Ahreeba!!

Naga - Black-Naped Hare (Lepus Nigricollis)
In my native southern India, I regularly indulge on the beautiful flowering plants! Bite my ear and you will be swooned to India, curry, coconut and milk chocolate. A must-try for the adventurous sort!

Black Pearl - Ryukyu Rabbit (Pentalagus Funessi) I love to snack on bamboo shoots and Japanese pampas grass on my local Japanese island of Anami Oshima. Nibble on my toes and you will taste my native ginger, wasabi, dark chocolate and black sesame seeds.

Gianduja - Italian Hare (Lepus Corsicanus)
I enjoy the beautiful scenery of my native, Sicily. My long ears help me hear very well and my large hind feet enable me to leap high. Nibble on my paw and you'll see that hazelnuts, almonds, and milk chocolate run in my family! Bon Appetito!

Barcelona - Tarragona European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
I am native to Spain, along the Costa Brava and play among the Marcona almond trees. Nibble on my petite pouf tail and revel in cravings of salt and sweet with Hickory smoked almonds, grey sea salt and milk chocolate.
I hope there is an NC17 label on every box of chocolates.

Yes, I still have writer's block and, as you can see, I am seeking comfort in food.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Why I Hate Football

Today is Blog Against Sexism Day.

I'll admit, I have watched a game or two. I have even found myself getting excited when a player catches the ball and runs to the end zone. I am enough of a sports geek to appreciate the good moments and enough of a body geek to appreciate the athleticism of the game at its best. However, I usually have a hard time watching as I am generally sickened by the images of gigantic men pounding into one another, jumping on top of one another, flying over the heads of other players and slamming full force into the turf. I know how it feels to fall down and have the wind knocked out of me and I know that the human body is not really designed to bounce. I don't like being tackled and pummeled by my 27 pound two year old, I can't imagine what it would feel like to have 3 250 pound men flatten me to the ground.

All that being said, however, the truth is that it isn't the viewing of football that makes me throw a fit and demand the channel be changed, it is the sound of it. Every time I hear that Ba Bum Ba Ba, the lead in to the commercials, the aural reminder that THIS IS FOOTBALL, it is like hearing the iron bars of a prison slamming shut. I start to panic and hyperventilate.

For many years, I credited this involuntary response to my academic behavior in high school. I went to a high-powered Jesuit college prep which took itself very seriously. The teachers all seemed to compete with one another to see who could assign us the most homework. As much of a goody two shoes as I was in the eyes of my fellow classmates (don't drink, don't smoke, never been kissed) I also had a pretty bitter view towards authority and refused to do any of the homework until the last possible moment. So Sundays were spent in my pyjamas, desperately trying to get all the homework done. My dad was somewhere in the house watching football and I couldn't block out the sounds of he game. So I assumed this conditioned me to hear that Ba Bum Ba Ba and think "I'll never get that paper written by tomorrow." Easy.

Except that wasn't really what I was thinking. The thought that would go through my head was, "Don't even think of leaving. The world is less safe for awhile."

So the Chicago Bears made it to the Superbowl this year and I started to wonder at my response to the sounds of football. And then I remembered.

My mother was a high school teacher at an inner city school for a number of years and found herself in the position of confidant to many students. One of the stories she would tell me was how one of her students was raped during the Superbowl and how, though she screamed, no one bothered even calling the police, either because they couldn't hear her over the sound of the tv set or didn't want to spend any time away from the game.

I can't remember this story making much of an impression upon me when I was younger--I mean, I had heard of Kitty Genovese, I knew I couldn't depend on the kindness (or even the basic humanity) of strangers. I was smart and wouldn't find myself in that position, ever, and I had taken self-defense classes. This would never happen to me. But somehow the story seeped in through the cracks of my consciousness and left its mark. And as I got older, I became less confident of my ability to avoid evil and more aware of the dangers that befall even smart women. A girl in my acting class was mugged and never saw the assailant--she remembered walking down the street and then she woke up, with her purse missing and a huge lump on the back of her head. The former neighbor of a woman I worked with was raped, cut up, and left for dead by a man who crawled through her window. The sex offender registry showed me the number of predators in my zip code. Suddenly the statistics that 80 percent of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim seemed less comforting (not that it was ever intended to be comforting) because it meant that 20 percent of rapes are the stereotypical "stranger danger" ones we are taught to fear. I realized I'd have to start following sports, if only to know when the important games were on, the ones which people might deem as too important to miss, more important than finding out where the creams are coming from.

So that innocuous, incessant Ba Bum Ba Ba serves as a reminder to me that I am not safe. It reminds me that there are predators out there and that if I should encounter one, no one will come when I call. It reminds me of how we were told in those high school self defense classes to yell "FIRE" and not "HELP." It reminds me not to leave the house until the game is over. And it fills me with rage. Rage that we still live in a society where this could happen to anyone. Rage that for all the so-called strides we have made in this country with regards to women's rights, we still have the highest rape rate (of countries which report such statistics). Rage that only 2% of rapists are convicted. Rage that screaming out statistics (found here, here, and here) seems as effective as screaming for help in an empty alley.

So, yeah, I really hate football.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I WANNA BE ADORED -- THE STONE ROSES


I am suffering from writer's block right now, and it seems the only way I can communicate is through videos from my formative years. YouTube is my muse right now.

I was reading stuntmother's recent post (which was inspired by all the blogging that is being done about Linda Hirshman) and I was reminded that salary.com did estimate the value of a stay-at-home-mom and determined that a SAHM would earn, on average, $131,471 if she did her job in the job market. Which is pretty impressive, I think (it's more than I ever actually made in the job market). I went to salary.com and found that they have a calculator which will factor in one's individual specifics (zip code, actual hours spent on certain jobs, etc).

If paid, the typical stay-at-home-mom in my zip code would make $146,048. Even when I factor in my incompetence with regards to housekeeping and my fondness for raw (i.e. no cooking required) food, my yearly salary is calculated to be $116,668. This is more than I ever made in the actual job market.

This is not unlike the moment when I realized that the words being sung in this song were "I wanna be adored" and not "I wanna be a door" as I had previously thought. (I had previously spent a lot of time pondering the philosophical implications of wanting to be a door, an entryway or an exit, or perhaps, an opportunity--and this was years before Neverwhere.) Maria claims that she was even worse, thinking Ian Brown was singing "I wanna be a dored" and wondering what the heck a dored was.

No wonder I have writer's block.

Oh hell, I hear the cat throwing up. On second thought, I probably should add more hours worked as a janitor.



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Sunday, March 04, 2007

XTC - Mayor of Simpleton

As I lay in bed last night, I realized I made an error in my last post. If The Style Council released My Ever Changing Moods in 1983, 24 years ago, than I was eleven at the time of the release, and not twelve as I kept insisting. Clearly I am getting so old that I can't even remember how old I am and, like a teenager desperate to get into the clubs, I am adding years to my age. Or maybe I just can't do math.

Linda Hirshman would suggest this is a direct result of my turning my back on my elite education to be a stay at home mom (and actress and writer, I say desperately, not wanting to be considered "just" a SAHM, because I have internalized the disapproval which Hirshman voices). Obviously, all the knowledge I may have once had has slowly leaked out my ears to be replaced by information regarding Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Total digression here: how the heck could one little girl's love cause the dog to grow so big? And if you were Emily Elizabeth's parents, wouldn't you be sortof annoyed that your daughter's love caused the dog to grow so big that you had to leave the city and move to an island? Sorry, but if this were our household, the dog would have to go. But I am a bad mother.

Well, I have a lot of opinions about Linda Hirshman and the Mommy Wars, about how I think she is to feminism what Candace Bushnell is to singlehood (except no one has smartened up her storylines for HBO), how I think it is unfair to slag other women and the choices they make (though I realize I am doing just that when criticizing Hirshman and Bushnell), how having a big fancy career isn't the path for everyone (even if you are really intelligent and well educated) and how success is no guarantee of happiness, but I think Andy Partridge says it best, "If depth of feeling is a currency then I'm the man who grew the money tree. Some of your friends are too brainy to see that their paupers and that's how they'll stay."

I must admit, I feel a lot like the girl in this video. While I find it invaluable and wouldn't change a thing with regards to my education, I sometimes feel all this knowledge has chained me up and kept me from completely living my life. I fight against the voices in my head which tell me to be serious and profound and do something IMPORTANT, because, in truth, I would rather spend my time posing around London in stylish clothes and telling people where to place the chess pieces. Oh, and swooning behind a screen when the Mayor takes off his hat and plants a kiss on me.



PS. go read Karrie's blog.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

My Ever Changing Moods-The Style Council

"The past is a knowledge, the present our mistake
And the future we always leave too late"--Paul Weller

For those of you wondering where I am, to quote the song, "I'm caught up in a whirlwind and my everchanging moods."

I get absolutely giddy whenever I am in Trader Joe's and this song is played. And not giddy in a "remember the 80s" sort of way, either. I actually really like this song now, today, in 2007. Which is funny because I didn't really like it when it was first released 24 years ago. Shows that my Duran Duran listening twelve year old self was but an egg when it came to taste in music. And taste in videos too. I mean, 24 years ago, I thought this video was boring, but now I see it as wonderfully surreal (in the way that many an 80s video was) and oddly reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch (mushroom cloud crossing sign, for example).

Also, can I just say that Paul Weller was pretty attractive? I mean, obviously not an "appeals to preteen girls" sort of attractive, but hey, I am no longer a teenager and having married a skinny bicycle riding man, one could say I have developed a taste for them. Which is a good thing because I don't think I would like being married to John Taylor, even though it was my destiny (or, at least, I believed it to be) back when I was twelve.

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