Archive for ‘Musings’

March 8, 2014

Peter Pan is basically about female jealousy and pedophilia…And now I’ve ruined your childhood.

"It will live in your heart forever!"...like heartworm

“It will live in your heart forever!”…like heartworm

Have you ever watched a beloved classic in adulthood and found it wasn’t quite as you remember it?  This happens to me more than I imagine it does your average person, as I have grown exceptionally cynical and opinionated with age.  

Recently, I found myself re-watching Disney’s Peter Pan and was struck with how positively, well, 1953’s-ish it is.  I was particularly taken with the portrayal of female characters in the film (I know, shocking, right?).  And, I think this is still a valid conversation to have because a lot of these troubling tropes most definitely have a still substantial foothold today (and are not just fodder for the desultory diatribe of an unctuous little upstart about a 60-year old cartoon!  Although, obviously, that is happening also.).  (For brevity’s sake, I’ll skip the outrage over Native American stereotypes– including actually having their faces be beet-red— since the fact that old movies are often racist in a way that would be unacceptable in the present-day is kind of an obvious truism.)

It’s funny how this went unnoticed by me as an impressionable child…or frightening depending on whether you yourself currently have young children.  Because children, by nature and circumstance of being children, are impressionable…and too inexperienced to recognize or be critical of things, particularly when they are inundated with noxious input from all angles…constantly.  (Buck up, by the way: when I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a pretty, pretty princess plastered in pink having a perpetual tea party while riding a unicorn that poops glitter (in other words, Lisa Frank was my God)….and I turned out alright!)

Anyways, a few interesting thoughts stand out:

1.) Female childhood is basically female adulthood, only with tiny females

So, the entire premise of the story is that children view adulthood as boring and full of responsibility so they live in a faraway land where they never have to grow up.  And even the originator of the tale, J.M. Barrie, intended it to be about the selfishness, impulsiveness, and mischief of an eternal child.  Yet the one female child in the whole movie (all the other females are adults; more on that later) is designated as “Mother” to the rest and spends the entire time being the sensible, reliable, reserved one and doing what’s expected of her: namely, telling stories, singing songs, making mature choices, and enforcing bedtime.  Which is basically how it is in real life.  Which is crap.

2.) Jealous females are capable of just about anything…as long as it doesn’t involve either logic or reason

This isn’t conjecture, by the way.  Captain Hook basically says this verbatim (Actual quote: “A jealous female can be tricked into anything.”).  And then it actually happens, when Hook tricks Tinkerbell into revealing Peter Pan’s secret hideout by exploiting her jealousy towards Wendy.  This is actually the least sociopathic thing she does having, earlier in the story, literally tried to kill Wendy by getting the Lost Boys to shoot her down as she arrives in Neverland.  Like a female.

Traitorous harlot!

Traitorous harlot!

Then when Peter takes Wendy to see Mermaid Cove and the mermaids discover he’s brought a girl with him, the brazen hussies try to drown her.  For real.  “We were only trying to drown her,” one of them coos innocently.  Peter, of course, finds this just hilarious: “They’re only having fun,” he says, condescendingly dismissing Wendy’s hysterical female desire to, you know, live, when she tries to defend herself with a seashell.  Wendy herself is, of course, not immune to “bitches be crazy”-itis either.  After Peter rescues Tiger Lily and they start dancing together at the Indian camp, Wendy storms off furiously and that’s when she decides it’s time for them all to go home.  And never once does it occur to any of them to perhaps hold the flippant, disdainful, self-absorbed brat who put them in this position accountable for any of it!  Mind you, this, all of this, all manages to take place inside of a little over an hour; it’s like Jerry Springer…only with more fairy dust.

3.) And did I mention all this shrieking, scratching, and hair-pulling (and attempted murder) are for the affections of a (~)10-year old child

And an unruly, impudent little shit at that.  And aside from Wendy and the Indian chief’s daughter Tiger Lily, all the other females are, in fact, adult women.  Fairies and mermaids perhaps, but women all the same.  Rather, um, developed women actually, sometimes with only a well-placed lock of hair to conceal that.  All of them pine sighingly (and spew venom at one another) over an ego-maniacal minor.  If you don’t think that’s creepily sexual (or that I’m sexualizing something innocent- “This is for children! You’re injecting a sexual component through your adult perception!”), switch the genders of the child and the adults.  I rest my case.

4.) And, although a little off-topic, there are never any unattractive women…unless the purpose of the unattractive woman to the plotline is that she IS unattractive.

Like, take the weirdo-looking kids up there ↑.  You never see a female character just look weird for no reason.  When a female character looks weird, she’s usually grotesquely fat and ugly and is chasing some poor, frightened male.  You see, it’s hilarious because she’s disgusting and doesn’t know it!  Ha, she actually has the gall to feel alright about the way she looks; I’d be offended if it weren’t so funny!  Hahahahahaha…awwwww!  No one gets  similarly repulsed  when Captain Hook’s weird angles saunter into scene, or by the Darling children’s goofy-looking dad (with smoking hot wife, naturally!), not to mention obsequious Mr. Smee!  Because they’re attractiveness isn’t tied into who they are as a character; it’s not expected of them.  Of course, this is a crazy rampant problem in media and, well, life, and this little cartoon is hardly the worst offender.  In other words, I’m not going to get anymore into it.  I’ll just get pissy.  And that’s no way to end a post!

In fact, I know precisely how to end this on a high note…

Still adorable: The croc who swallowed the clock, with his rhythmically twitching eyes and tail as he licks his chomps in anticipation of devouring a human being.  I’m sorry, that is just delightful.

July 27, 2013

Celebrating the opportunity to work my ass off basically for free

A couple months ago, I discovered that I had been accepted to the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program at UMB.  Finally, a journey that began with my registering for the GRE’s in January 2011 culminated in a teary-eyed, sweaty-palmed ultimately victorious meeting with the department chair last April in which I received my acceptance letter with trembling fingers.  Naturally, I am only writing about it now because…grad school gave, and grad school hath taken away…and I soon became mired neck-deep in the unclean dreck I had just worked so hard to wade into.  But I did want to take a moment and touch on the things the Greek and I did to celebrate…this and my recent birthday, a day now, since my thirties, celebrated by everyone but me (including all the citizens of Canada since it also happens to be their independence day).  I was playfully calling it my third 29th birthday, but you’ll also notice that I have very saliently and intentionally neglected to account for the passage of time in the profile of this very blog.  And so begins the period of my life in which I am only truthful and forthcoming of my age when not doing so is considered a felony…to be immediately followed, around the age of 50 I imagine, by my “Couldn’t give a shit how old I am” stage.

Conundrum: How do two suburban misanthropes enjoy the peak blooming of DC’s cherry blossoms and not have to interact with any people?  I asked the Greek if he wanted to see the cherry blossoms that bloom along the National Mall (because it’s one of those things people nearby like me vow to do but then never get around to).  He said sure, but he didn’t want to deal with the crowds and could I maybe play hooky from work some day during the week, confirming 2 things for me: 1.) That he had the same idea I had in my brain that I hadn’t shared, and 2.) That, apparently, people still say “playing hooky”.  And why am I suddenly talking about something that occurred a season ago?  Well, because this didn’t end up happening (see “Bad hostess”), but we did finally recently end up doing our ‘burb equivalent- the nearby nurseries, an outing that is both fun and utilitarian- since I’m pretty sure you can’t take the cherry blossoms on the National Mall home and plant them in your garden, speaking of felonies.  This is an especial treat for me because, as we can now almost certainly conclude, I am an inveterate ‘brown thumb‘.  The accidental arboreal Angel of Death, if you will.  And I must accept that the most beautiful gardens I shall ever have will be the ones I create in my mind.

photo (33) photo (34)

They had magnolias there that were lovely…far beyond the price range of the pay grade I recently forced upon myself…but lovely all the same.  And of course cherry blossoms.  And we have made another decision, or rather, another attempt to make gardening happen for me: azaleas (if only I were as tenacious at actual gardening as I am my unwillingness to accept my botanical limits!).  Reputably quite hearty and even the dwarf bushes we had our eye on will grow big and cover more surface area at once.  The Greek has proposed we come back later (which I guess is about now!) when they’ve filled in a little more (Translation: For you, we’re really going to need them to be at the peak of their health, my little flower assassin.  Aren’t you adorable?  You kill everything you touch, like some sort of manual Medusa).

After that, we dined for the first time at The Iron Bridge Wine Co., a small, dark, charming little place on Route 108.  I departed from my normally vegetarian diet and had the diver scallops.  The Greek had the duck in a delicate brown sauce.  And between us, we split a bottle of a red blend from South America whose name I can’t recall.  And for the close of this sumptuous feast, we each had an enormous crème brûlée with, get this, a thick layer of chocolate ganache gloriously discovered at the bottom and topped with fresh blackberries.

photo (32)

For my birthday, we went to a place called Honey Pig, a Korean BBQ my fellow grad students are basically obsessed with.  Now that I’ve been there, I’m beginning to understand the prepossession.  At my behest, our first trip there was actually the prior week when my mother took me out for a birthday dinner.  This picture was taken at Honey Pig, part deux, when the Greek and I found ourselves back there a few days after my birthday: thinly sliced pork belly cooked right at the table (bring a hand fan; it gets hot in there!), udon noodle soup with fish cakes, and kimchi of course.  Additionally, and it goes without saying, I have also clearly fallen off the vegetarian wagon for this one as well.  Sadly, I am like Julius Ceasar: when I celebrate, something has to die.

photo (46)

April 15, 2013

Gone With The Dim

gwtw 2Ah, Gone With The Wind.  Now, I consider myself a lover and connoisseur of old movies…much to the Greek’s chagrin, most recently when he was repelled from the living room and the house last weekend by my watching of Guys and Dolls and Cabaret (Bob Fosse, you were a god among men!), respectively.  I can literally not watch An Affair to RememberCasablanca in which Ingrid Bergman played a leaky faucet for the entire 102-minute running time, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s without crying…no matter how many times I see them.  But the times they are always a-changin’, and even some of my most cherished favorites have to be viewed with the critical understanding of the world as it was then.  I have a rather vivid memory of the Greek’s awed horror upon seeing Fred Astaire, timeless icon and household name, don blackface for his “Bojangles”” number in Swing Time.  And the unbridled hilariousness of a movie called Cat People about a woman who is descended from a race of people that turn into panthers and proceeds to try to turn her romantic rival into kitten chow.  I tell you, it takes a sharp mental acuity to grasp the subtext of that!  Meanwhile, when she repeatedly tells her husband of her tendency to get catty and kill people, he soothes her and tells her that’s lady-nonsense in just about the most placating, condescending, and insulting way I’ve ever seen, complete with Sssh-ing and head-stroking.  Good times.  Anyways, despite my self-professed prowess, I had still not seen what some regard as the greatest movie of all time.  “What?!?!” they’d exclaim, “How can you never have seen GWTW?!”.  (They sounded out the words by the way.  I would never talk to someone who was so familiar with something so specific yet obscure that they would assign it an acronym and expect everyone else to know what they were talking about.  Because the people I know are cool.)  So, finally, a time when I had five hours of uninterrupted free time coincided with a time when AMC happened to be airing the behemoth movie, and I got to see what all the hullabaloo was about…It’s five hours of my life I will never, ever get back.  Much like dental surgery, only without the feeling of accomplishment afterward.

Now, a little background first so you can understand how freakin’ epic this film supposedly is.  It was released in 1939, which is generally regarded as the greatest year for American cinema, EVER.  And, it would take home the Oscar for Best Picture that year (among many others), beating out films like StagecoachNinotchkaWurthering HeightsOf Mice and Men, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and a little film called The Wizard of (freaking) Oz!  And, it has been on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films since the list’s inception in 1998.  And, it is the film most likely to be declared her favorite movie by that friend of yours who wants to sound romantic and wistful and charmingly old-fashioned.  So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

The film opens on a cotton plantation, naturally.  Scarlett O’Hara is being dressed by her family’s slave, Mammy.  She is prattling on like a hollow idiot in a manner that would put a Kardashian to shame.  Wait, this is our heroine?  Complaining to an enslaved black woman about her problems?!  She receives a letter that she’s been invited to the engagement announcement party (ha, they draw out their wedding celebration hoopla interminably, just like us!) of Ashley Wilkes.  This is a problem because Scarlett loves Ashley.

At the party, everyone’s laying the Suthun accents on pretty heavy.  This would be nothing short of camp nowadays.  Scarlett is the object of affection of every man there, but none of that matters because she loves a boy named Ashley.  Descending the stairs, Scarlett gets her first look at comely Clark Gable with his slicked back hair and the perviest of perv-staches.  You know it just drove those Civil War-era women wild with desire and was, historically, totally NOT the style in the 1930’s instead.  I can’t help but feel that the modern day equivalent of this is a guy in Ed Hardy jeans and gelled hair spiked into the shape of some kind of modern sculpture.

gwtw 3.1 gwtw 3

A guy playing the impudent, ill-tempered asshole no one would ever invite to their BBQ…ever, says the South is going to kick some Northern ass and he wants in on it.  Rhett Butler says there’s no way the South can win with their smaller numbers and lack of military technology.  What a keen observation!  Clearly, Rhett and I watched the same Ken Burns’ documentary because he is just spot-on with his insight.  Foreshadowing!

Scarlett corners Ashley and professes her love.  He’s not interested and leaves.  He says that he is engaged to his cousin.  Ew.  She goes nuts (just like a woman!) and throws a vase.  Rhett had a case of the meats and was napping on a sofa in the room and heard everything.  He reveals his presence to her and is being rather slimy and mocking, but he promises to keep her secret safe.  Just then, the party-goers receive news that the South has declared war, and the young men rush off to enlist.  Scarlett catches her first sight of Melanie (Mellie) Hamilton as she kisses her future fiancé, Ashley, goodbye.  At that moment she is approached by Mellie’s brother Charles who is enamored with her and proposes.  Scarlett marries Charles for some reason, laying the groundwork for every romantic comedy to follow in which women do absurdly desperate, foolish, and self-destructive things that somehow the men (read: bland, dashing cyborgs) cannot resist.  Fortunately for her, Charlie dies basically immediately afterward.

War happens.  We don’t see terribly much of it because, well, when you like a boy, everything else is pretty inconsequential, amirite ladies?  Scarlett is in Atlanta with her now sister-in-law Mellie in the Hamilton family home.  She is totally just doing it so she can wait for Ashley to return home and steal him out from under poor, angelic Mellie.  She attends a charity function with Mellie, which gets all the sniping, gossipy society hens all aflutter because Scarlett is a widow and should shut herself up in her room, wear black, wait for death, and never hope for happiness again.  Further feather-ruffling follows as Rhett wins her at auction and asks her to dance during which time he informs her he will win her hand.  Oh, did I mention the charity event involved auctioning off eligible young ladies to, um, philanthropic suitors to raise money for the war effort?  My feminist self might have had a small stroke there, but I can’t be sure.  Additionally, selling people to pay for your right to slavery seems in kind of bad taste but whatever.  Ashley returns home for a short respite, and, as Scarlett is seeing him to the door and bidding him farewell, they share a kiss.  What the hell, dude?  You’re the reason this agony won’t end.  Just cut the cord already.  You might be worse than the psychological train wreck that is Miss O’Hara.

More young men die.  Enter Mellie (making Mother Teresa look like a lazy, selfish schlub) nursing the injured troops.  Sherman is about to raze Atlanta to the ground.  Mellie goes into early labor, and Scarlett must deliver the baby and get them all out of the city.  She totally doesn’t want to; she wants to ditch everyone and save herself.  Now normally I wouldn’t be so judgmental about such cowardice, but in combination with all her other abhorrent qualities, she just, I just, well, she makes me want to blech.

Ok, ok, so I know there’s been a lot of talk about Mammy and the portrayal of African Americans.  But nothing could have prepared me for Prissy.  Oh god, the most high-pitched massa massa talk imaginable!  If I’d have been holding a sharpened pencil at the time, I would have jammed it into my ear canal [shudders].  So anyway, Scarlett has Prissy help her deliver the baby and sends her to recruit Rhett to help them get out of Atlanta.  He gets them out of the city but, in a decidedly inconvenient fit of nobility, decides he must return to fight, and Scarlett must make it the rest of the way on her own.  Prissy is shrill and Melanie is weak.  At this point, I’m attributing Melanie’s frail state to generations of incestuousness and not her womanly tenderness.  When Scarlett reaches Tara, her family’s plantation, she finds it in a poor state and discovers that her mother has died.  That’s when she vows to never go hungry again.  Blah, blah, blah.  We all know that part.

At Tara, they are trying to rebuild.  The Reconstructionists are making life in the South hard.  The skirts are still poofy though.  The war is over, and Ashley is at Tara feeling worthless and unhelpful and generally sorry for himself.  He and Scarlett share more kisses and secret professions of love and desire…because that’s what’s going to make you feel like less of a bastard.  Meanwhile, Scarlett’s father has not handled the death of his wife well, and in a fit of craziness (demonstrating the profound lack of understanding of mental illness at the time), he is flung from his horse chasing a carpetbagger and dies.  When the taxes get too high, Scarlett turns to Rhett.  Unfortunately, Rhett is in jail and can’t access his money.  So, in an act both resourceful and despicable, Scarlett encounters her sister’s fiancé, Frank Kennedy, convinces him her sister is no longer interested and has married someone else, and they marry.  You’d think this revelation and violent shift in affection might have caused good ol’ Frank to head a couple miles down the road and fact-check this with the sister, but evidently, that doesn’t happen.  Fortune smiles on Scarlett again, and another husband dies immediately after.  And this one leaves her a lumber mill and a great big pile of money.  Jesus, this woman is the Angel of Death.  gwtw

Rhett proposes to Scarlett and she accepts.  If that seems like an abrupt transition for you, understand that they very nearly made this agreement at poor Frank’s wake.  C’est très romantique!  Brace yourselves because, no lie, for realsies, everything is about to get really messed up!  As in, more so than what just happened: the Civil War was the opening act for the sweet fuck all that follows!!!  They have a daughter that they name Bonnie Blue (cough, white trash name, cough).  Scarlett laments the loss of her figure and refuses to have more children because, at husband # 3, she’s still saving herself for mother eff-ing Ashley.  They start sleeping in separate beds.  How quaint!  Then, I guess because she felt she hadn’t been repugnant in a while, Scarlett and Ashley start being inappropriate again and are caught in an embrace by the neighborhood busybodies.  Rumors start swirling.  Rhett forces her to face the music and attend Ashley’s birthday party later that evening and without him as an escort.  Yeah buddy, feel sorry for yourself.  After your long history together in which she made no secret of her a.) repulsion towards you and b.) unreasonable obsession with Ashley, who could have predicted that this would happen to you?  You are utterly blameless, good sir!  At the party, Mellie stands by her sister-in-law and declares the rumors to be false.  This is a triumphant moment for Mellie and I like her more for it, but at the same time I can’t help but think there is a fine line between goodness and just plain stupidity.  Aren’t you even a tad suspicious of the soul-sucking remora whose permanently attached herself to your husband?  And really, how hard can it be to be everyone’s favorite character in this movie?  Just don’t be a vile jackass and you’re there!

When Scarlett returns home, Rhett rapes her.  Wait, did I just say that?  Yes, yes I did.  Can a husband rape his own wife?  Yes indeed!  Now get back in your time machine and go back to 1939!  I am, of course, referring to the epitomous stairway scene in which Rhett carries a struggling Scarlett up an immense staircase to the soaring sounds of an orchestra.  But Lisa, isn’t that the paragon of cinematic romantic moments?  Yes…and that is fucking sickening!  Have you ever watched that scene in its entirety?  She’s terrified!  And the struggling is sincere, not that playful, feminine, I-don’t-really-want-it-but-I-do type of resistance (that’s not a real thing, by the way).  This is totally rape.  Rape with a soundtrack.  Rape encased in red velvet.  Rape, rape, rape.

The next morning, he feels bad, and she has a devilish smile on her face indicating she secretly enjoyed it.  So, is ok.  She did want it all along (like they do!), you see?  Gah!  He feels so bad he offers her a divorce.  (Take the deal, sweetie!)  But instead, he just ends up taking an extended trip out of the country with their daughter.  This is actually a relief for me because the child has now reached that age where old timey movies insist she needs to start being eye-gougingly precocious and unnatural and just downright creepy.  When they return, Scarlett is eager to greet her rapist and tells him that she’s carrying his demon seed.  An argument ensues, and she lunges at him and falls down the stairs (or so his ass probably told the cops).  Stupid movie.

She loses the baby, and while she is recovering, her daughter tries to jump a fence she was told not to on her pony and dies.  At this point, horses have claimed more lives than the Union.  So, Rhett shoots the pony.  That’s right, this is your hero, ladies and gentlemen: a man who would kill an innocent animal when really it was just that his spawn was too spoiled and stupid to listen to him when he lazily parents whilst browbeating his shrewish wife.  Inbreeding rears its ugly head again, and Mellie falls ill.  She’s dying and, in her last throes, she asks Scarlett to look after Ashley (oh I’ll bet she will!) and to be kind to Rhett…because he loves her (clearly that’s what that is!).  Is it weird that Melanie, in her death-knell, would have by her bedside this witchy woman and not, oh I don’t know, her husband!?!?  Ok, so this actually happened:  Melanie dies, and Ashley is inconsolable.  He has his face in his hands, weeping.  Scarlett is trying to comfort him until she realizes how profoundly Ashley loved Mellie.  She backs away from him and starts monologue-ing about how Ashley only truly loved Mellie and never her.  You guys, I can still see the poor man crying in the background.  At least pan the camera over a bit.  I can’t think of a worse time to have your own personal epiphany.  Of all the many, many moments in this movie, this one is sooooooo not about you, Scarlett!  Dammit, what’s WRONG with you?!?!

Then she realizes what she’s known all along: that she is in love with Threat Butler!  She leaves to share this newfound love with him…in the middle of mourning!  Like, I’m not even sure she closed the door behind her.  Thank God this happened, darling, right?  Otherwise how would you have made this all important realization about yourself?!?  She arrives home, tells him it was always him and never Ashley, but he’s hearing nothing of it.  He’s packed his bags, he’s headed out, he doesn’t give a damn, my dear!  He leaves her weeping on the [rape, abortion, domestic abuse] staircase.  She vows to return to Tara, the wellspring of all her wackadoodle, and find a way to win him back.

gone-with-the-wind-tomorrow

The End.

Ok, fine.  I liked the ending.  It befittingly wrapped up the whole steaming pile of crazy I’d just witnessed.  If they’d have rode off into the sunset together (and not shot the horse or been killed by it), I would have probably simultaneously vomited my stomach and pooped my intestines whilst clawing my eyes out and lobotomizing myself with the nearest sharp object.  And I’m not denigrating the entire movie.  I know, I know, what was all that before then, Lisa?  But I thought Vivien Leigh created a dense and complex character, Olivia de Havilland’s Mellie had sincere warmth, and Hattie McDaniel gave her role real strength (and won the first Oscar to be awarded to an African American for it!).  I love movies about damaged people (helloooo? Cabaret!); they really are far more interesting.  But egads Viv, is this what you can get away with and still everyone roots for you?  I blame The Great Depression; having just emerged from such a decade, I can see where folks (of the Caucasian persuasion, of course) could find her struggles identifiable.  And those blasted Southerners and their pride.  I’m almost most agitated with the perception of the movie today.  Why is it still regarded so reverently?

Anyways, there, I’ve saved you from having to watch the thing yourself.  On the other hand, if you think I’ve spoiled it for you, worry not.  Spoiling the ending (the North wins!) really takes nothing away from the movie (and, as a side note, nearly 75 years after a movie has been released, you’ve kind of forfeited your right to be pissed; the statute of limitations on water cooler chatter so expired about half a century ago).  And if anything, I’ve created a new expectation for you so that if you eventually see it, you will perhaps find it a little less grating on the soul.  Also, Rosebud is his childhood sled and Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time.

November 19, 2012

Replenishment

As I had mentioned in my previous post forever ago, you might be seeing a lot less of me in the next few months.  This is because, as with all other entering UMB grad students, I would be taking something called The Core Course.  And it has proven to be all that I thought it would be: it is both tedious and simultaneously terrifying.  It has consumed all my time and energy and soul.  I am so physically, mentally, and emotionally spent, and yet I find myself with still another month to go.  But there comes a point (or many) in every grad student’s life where she hits a wall.  Where fear turns to ambivalence.  Where my brain has literally begun to hurt from overuse, and I worry that I may be giving myself a tumor despite several hours of lectures a day reminding me that this is not scientifically possible even though, as it has been reiterated to me many times, there are always exceptions in science (and it seems I am responsible for learning ALL of those exceptions!).  Where the presence right now of a chainsaw-wielding psychopath in my living room would be met with nothing more than an apathetic “m’eh”.  And apparently, for me, that time is nigh!

 <— Leatherface          Me (bored) —> 

So, since my wall has not corresponded with the end of this course as I had planned and because I do still need to pass it, I have decided to take a weekend (or a day this weekend) and replenish my soul.  And I decided this shall include a brief blurb on my blog, before WordPress discontinues it for inactivity.

Now, what does your typical overworked, underpaid hippie/nerd do with her day of rest?  It begins with yoga class, which starts at 11:00am yet I barely make it there on time…because my day actually began with beginning it WAY later than they make me most days now.  I find my inner balance and expel negative energy, something that has become a desperately needed respite right now.  Then it’s coffee and lazy brunch with the Greek and tons of fresh fruit; today this involves the two of us going through the accumulating piles of our respective catalogs that have arrived in the mail when we were too busy to read them.  For the Greek: Pottery Barn, Franklin Covey, and REI.  For me: Athleta and Knit Picks.  I dog-ear pages as if I’m going to go back and buy these things…in a world where my desire for nice things is treated as currency by everyone else.  We both thumb through Consumer Reports (a.k.a. my Bible)…because in the same make-believe world where we fake-buy things, we want to be conscientious consumers.  Then I completely nerd out, and my late afternoon is spent starting a new knitting project and watching Tosca on PBS (the combination of knitting, public television, and Italian opera (in my fuzzy slippers) causes the Greek to call me Grandma for the remainder of the afternoon).  And yes, I’ve finally started a new knitting project!  And now I have a helper:

As evening approaches, I find those previously dog-eared pages and buy everything I marked, because screw you student loan debt.  I will not allow the fact that I have no foreseeable income drag me back to my college days of Ramen and Sweet Tarts.  I’m a grown-up, dammit!  Why? Because fuck you, that’s why!!

For dinner, vegetarian Indian food and sustainably sourced wine, naturally.  Not for the Greek, though.  He has goat curry and a Coke because, well, goat and sugar drinks is perfectly appropriate and almost a requirement if you’re a Greek American man-child.  This is the man for whom I must buy an annual ice cream cake for his birthday and who, after my obligatory single piece on the day of, will eat the entire thing himself over the course of a week with, I kid you not, a scoop of ice cream on the side.  Seriously, ice cream cake à la mode!

The night was spent with the Greek watching bad TV, mostly Japanese-inspired game shows and wild police videos (<– man-child), and me reading until I drifted off to sleep.  Because I have joined my first book club.  An unofficial one, really, but a book club all the same.  Upon the departure of one of my dearest girlfriends back to her Northeastern roots, my circle of close women decided to keep in touch via the internets with a monthly video chat, with only mild delays due to my technical issues.  I am not good with the technology…how I intend to make a career in the sciences is anyone’s guess.  And we decided why not start a casual book club while we’re at it.  We’re reasonably young, verbally gifted, well-informed intelligentsia; surely we can read one book a month and come up with valuable things to say about it.  And let’s be honest, the only way I was going to keep such a commitment is if I can do so from the comfort of my sectional sofa, in my sweatpants, whilst swilling wine.

Sadly now, the weekend has ended, but I am happy to report the heavy bleakness has, I think, gone with it.  That was what I needed: a whole lot of glorious nothing.  I think I shall make it after all.

August 26, 2012

Farewell, fair readers

Not really.  However, graduate school classes begin on Monday (huzzah!), a mere day away, and I think I can reasonably expect to spend the next three months with my nose buried in a textbook.  My summer reading assignment alone was large chunks of three ungodly large textbooks, just one of which would have taken a year to get through in college.  I printed out the readings and lecture notes for the first week of classes the other day and ended up with a pile of paper two inches thick.  You see, in the first semester, all new students take something harmlessly called “The Core Course”, and it is, in a word, rigorous.  It’s essentially a whirlwind review of all molecular biological science to bring us all up to speed, particularly people that weren’t biology majors in college or, say, someone that hasn’t been to school in a hundred years and has spent that time blissfully NOT brushing up on basic science principles (ahem, that would be me).  The stories, oh the stories, I heard all last week during Orientation of the grueling study hours, the six-hour long exams every couple of weeks, the mental breakdowns.  These older students sounded like war survivors recalling their first year with a mixture of horror and fatigue.  The mere memory of the class traumatized them!

And so, it doesn’t sound as though I’ll have much spare time left for blogging about randomness.  So, I thought I’d lament this loss by dedicating a post to a bit of randomness as I say an ephemeral farewell to my various hobbies, farewell to writing about them, farewell to reading for pleasure, and farewell to learning for fun…at least until Christmas.

I was lounging on the deck the other day (ah downtime, how I’ll miss you!), and I saw what looked like a tiny hummingbird (relatively speaking) feeding on my petunias.  It was the strangest thing.  It was moving too quickly for me to really get a good look at it, but I could have sworn it was a little miniature hummingbird I never knew existed.  It’s at times like these that I’ve started turning to my iPhone, a devious device I’ve had for only a month and yet have, in that short period of time, become hopelessly dependent on.  Seriously, it has created a dangerous combo: a vehement necessity for immediate information without the requirement that I store the information in my own brain (i.e. learn).  Anyways, a single search of “tiny hummingbirds” later, it was revealed that I’m not the only one to make that mistake.  According to the Connecticut Audubon Society, they receive all kinds of letters and emails around this time of year with the same question about the mysterious creatures.  It turns out they aren’t birds at all but moths:

“The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) is one of three species of clearwing moth found in Connecticut.  All three have a hummingbird-like flight and all three favor the red, pink and purple flowers that are often frequented by our local Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  Hummingbird Clearwings are members of the Sphinx Moth family (Sphingidae) – a large group of fast-flying moths. The clearwings are somewhat unusual in this group in that they fly during the day, while most moths are nocturnal. Different species of clearwings imitate hummingbirds or bees in their appearance and behavior, briefly hovering in front of flowers and slurping up some nectar from each through a long proboscis that acts as a straw.”

These are the pictures I took on my patio:

  

And this is the photo from the CAS’s website:

Pretty cool, huh?  Ha, I’m such a dork.  This post is likely to amuse only me and perhaps my friend Jess, who studied moths for her undergraduate thesis.  Of course, she now lives and loves in Italy and writes about her life there, more than making up for her painfully dorky collegiate pursuits by having an enviously romantic life now.  Whereas I, on the other hand, am clearly still a giant dork.

Look…a chicken!  Randomness!

And now, to conclude this post, photos of my boys demonstrating what I will not be able to do until December…

August 16, 2012

Bad hostess

You know how when you visit a friend who lives in an iconic city and you naturally want to see all the tourist-y things there.  And your dear friend dutifully takes you from place to place and feigns interest.  Only you discover that, despite living so close to this landmark or that attraction, she herself is visiting it for the first time with you.  Because it’s, well, full of tourists.  And so ubiquitously in the background of daily life that it’s become bland and commonplace.  Well, that’s me.  I live in DC metro, and yet I have never been to the Lincoln Memorial or the top of the Washington Monument.  I haven’t been to the Reflecting Pool or the Pentagon, The Kennedy Center or the National Archives, and almost none of the museums.  The few times I have been to the White House or Capitol Hill, it was in protest (though I was still taking pictures; I’m not a very good protestor: I don’t chant or sing, and I hate portable toilets and when people are rude to each other).  The only thing I do visit with regular frequency is the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History…because science is awesome, and I have treasured memories of visiting it as a child and realizing then that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Because I can visit these things whenever I want to, I never do.  So, I have also had my fair share of opportunities to be a bad and unenthusiastic hostess.  My first visit to the National Gallery of Art was a few years ago with my cousin from Indiana.  He was enraptured; I was hung over, having spent the previous evening at a Halloween masquerade ball that had gone into the early morning.  Hours before meeting him there (late), I’d woken up at my friend’s house still partially costumed and could just manage to pull jeans over my torn fishnet stockings.  I spent the rest of the day trying not to let the Picassos make me dizzy.  Such was also the case this summer (though in far less spectacular fashion) when my younger stepbrother and his travelin’ buddy, who make their livings in Hong Kong, made their way along the eastern coast of the US and pit stopped in DC.  (Disclaimer: This actually happened in June.  How long do photos languish on YOUR camera’s memory card?  Contemplating renaming this post “Bad blogger”…)

I met up with them one soggy weekday afternoon at the National Mall.  The Reflecting Pool had been drained (hopefully to be cleaned) and stank like a bog, and I had unsuitably worn flats and kept stepping in muddy puddles.  We had a lovely lunch at the National Gallery of Art (upon my recommendation; I have rather poignant memories of their piping hot espresso and ice-cold gelato quelling my pounding head and objecting digestive system the last time I was there).  But, following a trip to the International Spy Museum (which is a great museum, really.  It’s just I don’t find a silver sports car with machine guns mounted to the hood terribly interesting.  Sorry.), my ankles and calves were beginning to ache and the perpetual dampness of the day was starting to get to me.  We ended up in the National Portrait Gallery.  And, as it would happen, I wouldn’t see a single portrait.  Leaving the youngins to their own devices, I made my way through the double doors directly behind the information desk at the entrance, ignoring exhibits to my right and left, and found myself in an inner atrium area.  It was a courtyard that had clearly once been outside, and the façades of the old buildings (the building that houses the National Portrait Gallery is one of the oldest in Washington, “begun in 1836 to house the US Patent Office”) looked just beautiful beside the modern structures used to enclose the courtyard.  The contrast between the two, I’m sure, has some fancy architectural term attached to it, but I don’t know what that is.  Anyways, I kicked off my offending, waterlogged shoes and spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the marble benches listening to the trickling of the water in the stone fountains and snapping pictures (that museum security can’t object to!) while the two boys were left to tramp around the museum alone.  Ah well.  Between the three of us, I think I must have had the best view; so, I thought I’d share those photos with you now.  They make me long for my own elegant, calming oasis, steeped in history, and near my home, that I could go to when I needed to unwind or reflect.  But, in the tragically white trash suburban wasteland in which I live, I don’t foresee such a thing happening anytime soon.

This one was taken whilst lying on my back.  There were so many trees in the courtyard; the glass roof let in so much natural light (you know, when it’s not unrelentingly dreary outside!).  I’m also noticing at this moment that, in unintentionally keeping with the theme of the day, almost all my photos, the majority of which were taken inside, are also grey…

These were taken of the lighted walkway in the National Gallery of Art that connects the West and East buildings.

 

And of a silver tree in the Sculpture Garden outside the National Gallery of Art, where one can also listen to jazz on Friday evenings in the summer.  The last concert is on August 31st, and, as luck would have it, I have no work or classes that day since Baltimore’s annual tradition of street racing falls on that date.

June 23, 2012

Things that didn’t used to happen to me when I was twenty: The 30th birthday edition

So, I’m driving home from work the other day on I-95.  I’d overslept, and it was all I could do to drag my toothbrush across my teeth and pull on some jeans that morning.  As I’m going along, this truck beside me starts honking his horn lightly.  I look over, and he starts waving his hand at me.  I immediately look to see if my headlights are on and then I look in my sideview mirror to see if maybe my gas cap is open.  I have no idea what my problem is.  So I start waving back at him trying to indicate where the issue on my car is.  It wasn’t until he started involving his tongue that I came to the horrific realization that what he had in fact been doing was making obscene gestures at me and what I had been doing was reciprocating them.  Awesome!  Since when does three days without a shower and my why-can’t-these-people-drive frowny face make me irresistable?  Back in the day, I would have immediately known what was going on!  Why, even now I remember the time my college girlfriends and I were heading up to a club in Baltimore.  We thought we were really hot stuff when these overly horny and increasingly aggressive guys were trying to get our attention.  Yep, those were the days!  Unfortunately, we finally discovered they in fact were actually trying to tell us our headlights were off…on the freeway…at ten at night.  Oh well, it’s nice to know I still got “it”.  But it got me thinking about things that didn’t used to happen to me back when I was younger.  And with the big 3-0 steadily and steadfastly (and unavoidably) approaching, I thought, what better time to reflect upon the last decade of my life and how I’ve changed.  And what better way than with humorous anecdotes, you know, to dull the pain at the inevitable (and now visible) decay of the body and mind that comes with aging.  ARGH. 

Anyway, here I list a few more:

1.   I didnt’t used to put quotation marks around words to indicate that I’m using slang.

2.  Tickets.  Speeding, parking, illegal manuevers, expired tags, no seatbelt, headlight out, you name it.  If there is a traffic law, I’ve been ticketed for it.  There is also no age, race, or sex that hasn’t ticketed me.  I’ve been given a ticket by a white policeman, a black policeman, an old policeman, and a policewoman.  There is also, apparently, no extraneous circumstances that could excuse me from a ticket; being completely lost, for instance.  I have been ticketed for making an illegal U-turn in the dead of night with no other cars around (other than the police car it would seem) and then been given proper directions to 495 by the cop himself.  When I was all of 19, my girlfriend Amy and I, already a couple rum shots into our evening and decked out in more sequins than a Vegas showgirl, were headed to an off-campus party when we got pulled over.  Not only was I going 50 in a 30, but I handed him the wrong registration.  When I handed him the correct registration, it was expired.  And did I get a ticket?  What do you think?

3.  Getting carded and having the person humpff when they realize how unnecessary that was!

4.  I can no longer make guys do dumb things when they’re drunk.  Cruel and manipulative you say?  A demented interpretation of the interplay between man and woman?  Absolutely, but I did it, and I can make them do it no longer!  This one is not entirely my fault (for aging?) because the guys went and got themselves old too.  Why, the Greek, who once let me paint his toenails red one of the first nights we met, now gets tired and wants to go home after his first beer.

5.  I now have three different designated spots for Rolaids: at home, at work, and in my purse, so that wherever I am, I have them handy.

6.  On Saturday nights, I can now be found…at Lowe’s picking out lumber to haul home, plopped in front of the television bitching about how uninteresting I am, staining the deck, conked out facedown in bed since 8:30 that evening, trying to call younger people or still-exciting people in their late 20’s and early 30’s to chat only to realize that it’s Saturday night and they’re probably out doing something, trying to coax the Greek into playing Scrabble or watching an old movie with me (nine years, still no success), at Costco trying to convince the Greek that we should buy that Bocce ball set I’ve been eyeing (once more, no success, something about the mud pit we call a backyard being unsuitable for it), Facebook-stalking people in my fuzzy slippers, negotiating the price on a used lawnmower…Yeah, it’s an amusing post until you realize all I did was give you a rundown of my activities for the last four weekends.  Still in disbelief?  I give you

Exhibit A, kindly taken by my Greek in what I thought was a private moment one Friday, I suppose as revenge for this…

…which I did not delete as I may have otherwise asserted

7.  Since when did my significant other become a crotchety old man?  I have witnessed him on more than one occasion shaking his fist and yelling at neighbors in his pajamas from our yard.

8. Tattoo regret. Now, some people can wear their tattoos with dignity well into their lives. I do not believe I am that person. Already I am beginning to feel the pangs of regret as my thoughts invariably turn to in-laws, job interviewers, and children and the fact that little red hearts on a vine will be dancing across my ankle for all of it.

9.  Receiving catalogs from Coldwater Creek in the mail

10.  Understanding almost all of the jokes on Family Guy: I can’t say my knowledge of 1930’s vaudeville, 1950’s movie musicals, and 1980’s sitcoms was quite as prolific then as it is now.  I attribute this to the fact that I increasingly find the new, hip things kids these days are into nothing more than shiny, trashy noise and find myself pining nostalgically for the olden times when TV, movies, and music were actually good, much like your intermittently lucid grandpa ranting about the good ol’ days.  By the way, I found out a search of “crazy old man” in Google images will give you a 50-50 split of pictures of actual senile people intermixed with images of public figures from Ron Paul to William Shatner to Kanye West.

11. Having my naturally round cheeks go from being thought of as “baby fat” to just plain fat.

12. Genuine looks of pity and incredulity at the fact that I’m not married. From subtle hints like my aunt saying “The clock’s ticking, girl!” last Thanksgiving or my hairdresser audibly scoffing at my suggestion that I don’t need to marry a rich man as I plan on having a glorious career of my own to the Greek’s Yiayia full-on weeping in my arms one Christmas (holidays seem to be the reminder to preceding generations that the succeeding generation isn’t getting any younger).  Or perhaps I’m just becoming more sensitive.  Perhaps the fact that an HPV vaccine is no longer free after age 26 isn’t my gynecologist’s delicate suggestion that, either I’ve settled down by now or at least am too old and gross for anyone to want to have anonymous, unprotected sex with me. 

13. “Ma’am”

Anyone else have silly things to add?

June 20, 2012

My weekend camping at Loft Mountain, Shenandoah National Park [LETTERS]

Dear Nature,

You can’t make me sleep in a tent for two excruciatingly uncomfortable nights in 40-degree weather and yet when I come home my limbs are covered in mosquito bites.  I will not suffer the consequences of camping in hot AND cold weather at the same time.  You cannot have both.  You must chose.

Dear Extremities,

It’s nice to have the sensation back in you.  Regrettably, the sensation I am most feeling is “racked with pain”.

Dear Mountain biking,

You are a horrid activity, and I don’t understand why anyone would do you.  That is all.

Dear Tree I Hit Whilst Biking That Caused Me to Fall (for the second time),

Sorry about that.  Believe me, that hurt me far more than it hurt you.

Dear Laura and Dan,

So sorry to have attended your wedding the following weekend in a sleeveless tea length dress covered in cuts, scrapes, bruises, blisters, and bug bites. Mazel tov, you two!

Dear Londoners of the early 20th century,

While enjoying an afternoon drink at The Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia this weekend,  I noticed the entire front driveway of the hotel lined with vintage cars.  As it turns out, there was a gathering of Morgan enthusiasts that same weekend.  For those not in the know, Morgan Motor Company is a British-based car manufacturer and a Morgan is their signature car, which they began producing back in 1909 and which they still make.  They are made-to-order, assembled by hand, and have a waiting list!  What I also learned from the loquacious owner of two Morgans at the adjoining table was that the Morgan was originally a three-wheeled car (two in front, one in back) known as a cyclecar.  This was done to bypass the hefty British tax levied on cars since the three-wheeled Morgan was considered a motorcycle.  Now, Lord knows I’m all for saving money, but the idea of riding around in a rickity, unbalanced, steel Deathmobile to shave a few pounds off the cost of owning a car, which I’m going to guess, at the turn of the 20th century, was a luxury only afforded to the wealthy, is cuckoo puffs.

Dear Ears a Week After Returning From Mountain,

Stop popping already!

Dear View from the Mountain,

Well done.

Sincerely yours,

Lisa

February 2, 2012

Bits 3

I recently stumbled upon this article celebrating the fashion photography of John Rawlings.  What the occasion was I do not know, but I adore these photos!  Thusly, I then did an impromptu Google search and spent the next hour looking at still more images instead of the planned task of organizing all my electronic files.  This, folks, is fashion photography before photoshop.   The halcyon days in which the technology of photography a.) wasn’t capable of capturing every microscopic imperfection, and b.) wasn’t yet able to airbrush and photoshop pictures to death.  I love older fashion photographs; a bit hazy, yet far more natural and completely untampered with after the moment it was taken.  Art in every way.  Not to mention the fact that I love this period for fashion.  So classically simple, graceful, and elegant.  And the women aren’t frighteningly skinny.  Nowadays, it’s almost unhuman-looking, isn’t it?  I am always reminded of prancing giraffes.  Or those stuffed animal monkeys with the dangling limbs that have Velcro on the paws so that you can hang them from doorknobs or fasten them around standing lamps.  Well anyways, found…loved…shared: http://www.retronaut.co/2011/08/john-rawlings-1940s-colour-fashion-shots/

                 

Speaking of old-fashioned fashion, in my effort to find the most perfect hatbox (apparently, they have gone out of fashion), I stumbled across this wonderful shop on Etsy.com.  Check out these inspired, clever little hats!  Sadly, as I am neither a member of the British royal family nor a black lady at Sunday service, I will likely never ever find myself in a position where I would wear a hat like these.  But at least I can ball my fists, wriggle my arms, and go “Eeeeee!” at how cute they are.

        

  • Love this photo.  Dogs are incredible animals:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/12/02/143046017/some-combat-dogs-suffer-post-traumatic-stress-too?ft=1&f=1001

  • This video must be watched with the volume on.  Do not watch without sound.  You’ve been warned.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/01/31/146148969/video-a-bunny-that-thinks-its-a-sheepdog?ft=1&f=1001

November 15, 2011

Bits 2

I read an article a little while back celebrating the 60th anniversary of Ruth Orkin’s photograph, “An American Girl in Italy” on MSN.  They interviewed the photo’s subject, Ninalee Craig, who is now 83 and reflected back on the impact of the photo since it was taken in 1951.  And I just wanted to take a moment and share it with you because I find it to be so breathlessly romantic.  Within the article, they do discuss the sexist connotations that some people have derived from it, but I disagree.  I see a woman perfectly in control of herself, traveling abroad, an almost careless look on her face as she’s blissfully unaware of the effect she’s having on the men around her.  Probably on her way to some fabulous brunch, no doubt.  I suppose they could have called the image “An American Woman in Italy” but then it sounds less youthful and adventurous.

    • So, apparently Atlanta is not simply the town with the notoriously nightmarish airport that was nearly razed to the ground by General Sherman because the Confederacy refused to surrender it to Union troops (take that, Savannah!).  It is also the Zombie Capital Of The World!  The AMC series “The Walking Dead” is filmed there.  If anyone reading this isn’t watching it, you should at least give it a look.  And this is coming from an extreme hypochondriac whose nights are plagued by nightmares of zombie epidemics in the days after each week’s Sunday episode.  Worth it.  Anyways, it also boasts zombie film festivals, zombie parades, and zombie haunted houses.  The CDC headquarters in Atlanta even has a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness section on their website (no, really): http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm.  In fact, all manner of paranormal creature has found a home in Atlanta as both “Teen Wolf” and “The Vampire Diaries” are filmed there.  Alright, admittedly, I can be caught watching “The Vampire Diaries” occasionally although that doesn’t prevent me from periodically bursting into laughter at unintentionally funny moments.  It took me about ten minutes into my first show to realize that the gruff voices and brooding expressions weren’t part of some sort of elaborate farce and that they were meant to be taken seriously.  That’s how overwrought it is; I mistook it for a parody of teen vampire shows.  Anyways (Wow, this is a distractable post!), check out this funny article about the throngs of Atlantans auditioning to be zombie extras for “The Walking Dead”.  My favorite part…when a zombie extra is receiving direction from one of the show’s executive producers: “That’s when we cut to you.  And you go ‘Munch, munch, munch, munch'”.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/us/zombie-apocalypse-in-atlanta.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&src=ig
    • In the news: Congratulations to the citizens of Mississippi and Maine for voting in line with my own personal belief system and winning!  And to the graceful losers: the fact that you got legislation so atrocious onto the ballot in the first place is astounding and a victory all by itself.  To Penn State students: is there something in the water that causes Pennsylvanians to riot everytime something sports-related ends unfavorably for them?  Ah, the willful ignornance of youth…

Ok, I do not normally get my news from the UK’s Daily Mail and, in fact, find it to be filled with the most mean-spirited smut.  British tabloids, ruining Britain’s reputation as the most civilized society in the world one illegal phone hack at a time.  But I did love this tale about a horse and his owner who do yoga together.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2034410/Lewis-Egyptian-Arabian-horse-Still-competing-old-age-beating-stiffness-joints–doing-YOGA.html

How cute is that?!?  Apparently, Linda, ertswhile equine yoga instructor, began doing yoga to overcome a chronic back injury, and Lewis, her Arabian horse of advanced age, began mimicking her poses.  Linda claims it has helped Lewis’ stiff joints, and he’s able to return to competitions because of it.  Now I don’t know about the therapeutic benefits of yoga to horses personally, but I still thought it was a charming story.

  • For those of you foolish few who have not done so already, you have until March 23, 2012 to read The Hunger Games before the movie is released.  “Good Morning America” showed the first trailer for the movie yesterday morning during the show.  The link to view that is here, courtesy of Lauren, who is getting me fiendishly excited about it against my will (if we get too wound up, we’ll spoil it for ourselves!): http://jezebel.com/5859211/finally-watch-the-official-tingle+inducing-hunger-games-trailer.  All you newbies have to do is read one piddling book before then, and you will not regret it.  In fact, I challenge you to just read the one and NOT finish the entire trilogy during one sleep-deprived, swollen-eyed weekend.
  • So, it’s no secret.  I want an iPhone.  I ABHOR my current phone and can’t wait to be part of the brainwashed masses who tolerate Apple’s frustrating quirks and pomposity so they can get their hands on technology smarter than they are.  The other day, I read this interesting article about one of the most tantalizing features of the newest iPhone 4S: the voice-activated virtual “assistant”, Siri.  It delves into the complexities and implications of why, in our society, robot voices are female when they are meant to be helpful or performing some service and male when they are meant to be commanding or menacing or even villanous, such as Stanley Kubrick’s homicidal HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey” [shudders running down spine].  I completely agree that women’s voices are more soothing (and sexy).  And I like the interpretation that the nurturing role of women accounts, at least biologically, for our preference for female voices.  Women as caretakers and nurturers are woefully undervalued in our society, and I don’t just mean in the home; these characteristics have tremendous value in the job world as well.  And I also agree that this stems from a learned behavior as well: that we’ve grown accustomed to female voices in the capacity of an “assistant”…secretaries, telephone operators, flight attendants, teachers.  But I think that while we should diminish the concept of assigning gender to jobs (what is men’s work and women’s work), we should also embrace the fact that, generally speaking, distinctly masculine and feminine characteristics do exist and that is the key to treating “male” and “female” jobs with equal worth.  In the meantime, I still want an iPhone.  Here’s the link: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/21/tech/innovation/female-computer-voices/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn.  If you read only one article from this post, it should be this one; it’s a very intriguing discussion.  By the way, what’s the matter with Germans?  Their sentiments about not taking orders from a female GPS voice are not improving their global reputation.

I am madly in love.  I bought and have begun knitting with the Harmony Wood Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needle Set from Knitpicks.com.  I may never use a straight needle again.  They are so versatile and pretty!  Incidentally, anyone in need of a rag tag assortment of straight needles should let me know.

    

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