Friday, June 29, 2007
I've always been drawn to art (ha!). As a kid, I was all about the visual arts -- drawing, painting, photography, etc. The letters, well, they've always been there as well. But I was a pretty shy kid, and with visual arts, the rest of my class saw and complimented me on my wunderkind-ish abilities. With writing, I would have had to foist my scribblings upon them so that they could recognize my genius. And, well, I wasn't that bold. I am now, though (wink).
Where was I? Oh, right. When the opportunity arose in my ninth grade social studies class to write a research paper on a current event, I chose to write about Jesse Helms' zealotry in limiting the NEA's freedom to grant...well, grants. This was in the time of Robert Mapplethorpe and various other artists that Congress deemed too racy to subsidize. To be honest, I don't know that I'd fork over $500,000 for one of Mapplethorpe's photographs, but here's what my fourteen-year-old self and my thirty-one year-old self believe: his right to create it was incontrovertible, and it's up to the NEA, not Congress, to determine who should and shouldn't receive artistic grants.
And the reason I have this opinion? Because art was exciting, and controversial, and was making people think. At the time, there was a LOT of conversation about first amendment rights to express one's self through art. The debate took center stage on many a news broadcast, and many a news magazine.
And what do we debate today?
Whether or not Paris Hilton was treated fairly when she was tossed in the clink for violating the terms of her DUI probation. Britney Spears' parenting skills. Is Nicole Richie sporting a baby bump or does she have a distended belly since she's malnourished? Lindsay Lohan's substance abuse problems. Is Angelina Jolie a savior of disadvantaged children or does she have some kind of weird hording complex?
So, here's the thing. I don't think I was more engaged with the current events when I was fourteen. At my house, we received US News & World Report and US Weekly, and I read both of them cover to cover. What's weird, though, is that I know much, much more about celebrities now than I do about, say, the United Nations. But I'm reading the same amount of news, and I'm watching more of it courtesy of 24 hour news television. So what gives?
Clearly, celebrity news isn't a recent cultural phenomenon. The society pages were the precursors to the tabloids. The hoi polloi have often lived vicariously through the elite, so it's natural that we'd want all the bulletins about them. But celebrity journalism...well, it's supplanting actual news. It's not relegated to a column, or a page, or a section, or a publication. It's inextricably entwined with all news.
Dana Gioia's point is that artists could possibly generate enough of a buzz to make us stop the madness and talk about current events in a productive way. It's not like art is the answer to the world's ills, but if Guernica could still cause a bit of a scandal in 2003, well, wouldn't something from the 21st century generate some pretty interesting conversation?
Even if we don't use art to highlight tragic conflict and force the movers and shakers in world politics to have a chat about resolving them, we should still be more aware of art and literature. I'll leave you with this: Robert Frost was the US Poet Laureate from 1958-1959. Name one of the thirty-three poets who held the position after him. One. You can check your answers here.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Eeargh. It was a self-hating thingamajig about the myriad things that stink about being a woman. The things that earn the writer's ire are as follows:
- Being stared at;
- Having to always look pretty/cute;
- Other women;
- High heels, pantyhose/stockings, bras, jeans, bikinis/bathing suits, nail polish, etc.
All of it is just so...ugh. Really? This is progress? Do women today really honestly believe that it is a requirement to look pretty? And wear high heels? And what kind of women are you friends, with, anyway? And the advantages listed are more misogynistic than the disadvantages. I'm not sure that I want to get my way by flashing a smile.
The thing that bugs me is that there isn't even a hint of irony in this post, or a glimmer of understanding that the author has some control in these situations. It's not like you're going to be fined if you don't wear makeup. You don't have to hang out with women who are going to talk smack about you. And you really don't have to be weirded out by guys staring. My guess is that if you're flashing some cleavage to get what you want, then perhaps you're inviting a guy's unblinking gaze?
Actually, the thing that REALLY bugs me here is that someone else thought the post was so awesome that she slapped it on her MySpace page without giving credit to the original author. Does no one understand that we do not need to conform to societal expectations of women? I feel like there was a bunch of cybersister high-fiving going on, without anyone questioning the author's contribution to her own disadvantages.
It's moments like these when I feel like a harridan of Dorothy Zbornak proportions.
P.S.: I'm not linking to the post 'cause I'm not really wanting a debate on this. And I'm a coward.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Hubby will not like knowing that overtaking is a sin. He'll have racked up a score of sins to report the next time he finds himself in the old confessional. Heck, he'll have racked up a score of sins by the time he arrives home from his afternoon commute.
Friday, June 15, 2007
does not exist. It's from a fan's MySpace page. Can't be a dedicated fan if s/he doesn't know the song is called "Enjoy the Silence." Perhaps it's a clever way around piracy laws? Oh, except the other two songs on the fan's page are correctly titled. Do you feel the waves of anger that my fourteen-year-old self is sending across space and time to this poseur?
This month's chapter -- 31 years, 11 months -- would go a little something like this:
You may start getting e-mails, phone calls, or other forms of correspondence from former high school and college friends and acquaintances. In some instances, they are looking for a Big Chill experience. In others, they are just starting to revisit what they've done with their twenties, and for many people, that means reconnecting with people who meant a great deal or shared intense experiences during that decade. In still others, they are revealing that they have been diagnosed with a serious health condition, and would love it if you could sponsor them in a fundraiser for research for a cure for that health condition.
Yep, I received one of the latter e-mails yesterday. I jumped into an Olympic-sized pool of empathy for the guy. He was always so much fun, very easygoing, and for him to have Multiple Sclerosis is just crazy. I'm glad he contacted me, even if it was via mass e-mail, and even if it was to ask me to pony up some sponsorship coin for a bike ride fundraiser. I'll be happy to do it. I just wish that I'd kept in enough touch to know this before he got to the stage where he was mass-emailing about it.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Swim? Really? Not fly, or sail? And the time estimate -- 29 days to cover 3,462 miles -- requires a swimmer to chug along at about 5 miles per hour. The fastest swim time on record is just a little faster than 5 miles per hour, but that was only in the 50 meter freestyle. A human couldn't possibly sustain that speed crossing the Atlantic, ipso facto, Aquaman is the only fella who could use these directions. So, Arthur Curry, should you want to know how to get from Abingdon, England, to Pylesville, Maryland, I've got the directions saved in my Favorites.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
What's up with that? The WIP, well, that one's easy to explain. I'm at the tail end of it -- reworked the final scene and everything -- and all I really need to do is take an hour to read it, then hit the revision process. That's when I can take it like it's a wrinkled sheet and snap it flat to fold it up into a neat little package. Where to find that time to read and edit and rewrite and re-read and edit and rewrite, though? My goal is to have query letters out by my birthday. If I have a deadline, I can usually find inspiration to climb over or tunnel under my own personal Dark Tower of Fruitlessness. Usually.
E-mail's another story. With that one, I put a little too much pressure on myself to scribe something witty, or intellectual, or both. Usually both. Inevitably, I send something out that was written in a state of delirium with many, many errors. Not spelling errors, because I take advantage of spell check, as all writers using modern media should. My errors tend to be of the I-used-the-wrong-word or I-straight-up-forgot-to-include-a-preposition kind of errors. Just the type of goof that makes people smile and think, "Wow, she must have been really delirious when she wrote this." I hope. Oh, Lord, I hope people think that and don't think that I have some kind of learning disability that prevents me from noticing when I skip prepositions.
Writer's block on a blog, though...yikes. LtW is an online journal for me, 'kay? And when I find that I don't have anything to write about, well, I start to think that maybe I'm not engaged enough with the world around me. Shouldn't I be fired up about the news? Well, I am, but other people provide better analysis than I. So go read them, I think. Regardless, my niche is commentary on pop-culture for the under-forty set, but the stuff that's been going on there is pretty boring too. I know, I know, rehab and jail are pretty juicy topics. Yeah, for a Lifetime movie.
And the stuff that's going on for me personally, well...life is sweet. Not a lot of conflict happening at the homestead, and conflict is the root of comedy and drama, yes? I s'pose I could talk about how the Boy is an exhibitionist and streaks around the house after a bath, but that's about as far as the story goes.
Blah. I'll figure it out. We've got a few events this weekend that usually provide some fodder for Ye Olde Blog. A dance recital and Father's Day -- let's see what happens, shall we?
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
This happens on the radio all the time. Don't get me wrong -- I fully acknowledge that it's tough to answer an obnoxious question with grace, so the askee is at a disadvantage. I mean, someone only asks this question so that they can get into the mindset, theoretically, of the askee. Well, I've got news for ya: there's not a lot of ipso facto in the world of Catholicism. Many a Catholic deviates from Church doctrine on the finer points of birth control, charity, attendance, etc. Some would call this buffet-style religion (you only put what you want on your plate and leave the rest), which it may very well be, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.
So, we've established that I'm annoyed by the question in the first place. Then, though, my annoyance is exponentially increased when the askee deflects the question by providing only the religious affiliation of his youth. Just say, "I don't really practice anything," or, "I'm not comfortable answering that," or "I'm agnostic," or "I'm an atheist." It's okay to be these things, so don't hide behind former religious affiliations. And if you converted, state your current religious affiliation. Why's that so hard?
Would have made and interesting social commentary, eh?
But Mizz Spears has not appeared in public with her nubbly head. Nope. She must own a habedashery these days, because you can't pass a magazine rack without peeping her kaleidoscope of hats, scarves, wigs, and most recently, hair extensions. My opinion and four bucks will buy you a Frappacino, but I'm totally disappointed that she's not rockin' the Mia-Farrow-circa-Rosemary's-Baby style. If she went that direction, the buzz cut would be perceived as a rebellious statement against image, against fashion, against tabloid newspapers. It would have been her opportunity to show that she controls who she is, and that she doesn't have to rely on all the fluff and candy floss of stylists, hair, makeup and the media to paint her a specific way.
Instead, she covers it up. And by doing so, she acknowledges that it was a big ol' "Oops." Not a deliberate choice, but a mistake. She's only twenty-five, though, so maybe that'll change in time.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
How did it get there? Did someone pack her suitcase really, really poorly and fling it on the back of a pick-up truck, and then the bra sprang free when the truck hit a pothole? Or did the owner toss it out of the truck in frustration? Or passion? Or both? Will it manage to hang onto that tree until a be-jumpsuited felon snatches it down? I mean, you see shoes and cups and cans and boxes on the side of the highway every day. But a bra? That was a first.
UPDATE: While Googling for an appropriate image for this post, I came across this site, dedicated to trees that bear apparel. Maybe that's what's happening on 95? Eh, probably not.