Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I give up. I'm weary. I'm over it. I'm ready to stuff her in a box and ship her back to the goddamned humane society whence she came.
This is the offending behavior:
Monday, July 28, 2008
This is a teeny cabinet I found at Goodwill ages ago that I'm turning into a wine rack/shelf for my kitchen (when I get the rest of it done, I'll show you the whole finished product). I painted it and took the doors off; the idea is that I can get some sort of single-row short metal wine rack to stabilize the bottles in there (although it's not tragic if I can't find anything; the bottles don't really roll around). I X-acto-knifed a retro-style cookbook for the pictures. Cool, no?
This is where you end up when you attempt to paint your dining room table. Option A: Small, manageable task with concrete results that, if things go horribly awry, can be pitched with no lost investment? Option B: Probable days-long endeavor with potential hideous results ("nutmeg?" what was I thinking?)? Yeah, I came to the same conclusion.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
This fictional counterterrorism agent—a man never at a loss for something to do with an electrode—has his fingerprints all over U.S. interrogation policy. As Sands and Mayer tell it, the lawyers designing interrogation techniques cited Bauer more frequently than the Constitution.
According to British lawyer and writer Sands, Jack Bauer—played by Kiefer Sutherland—was an inspiration at early "brainstorming meetings" of military officials at Guantánamo in September 2002. Diane Beaver, the staff judge advocate general who gave legal approval to 18 controversial interrogation techniques including waterboarding, sexual humiliation and terrorizing prisoners with dogs, told Sands that Bauer "gave people lots of ideas." Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security chief, gushed in a panel discussion on "24" organized by the Heritage Foundation that the show"reflects real life."
Hmmm. Yes, it does have that element of truthiness to it. But the real question is: how did we collect so many sadist/morons in one place?
Because I am a sheep, I went to see the Dark Knight. I didn't see Batman Begins, so I'm not being religious about the franchise. But I do sometimes like adaptations of comic books, and I do love the humanness of Batman and the possibilities that creates for a character. He's got no superpowers, no superior moral compass. He's just a broken man with a large R&D budget, initially propelled on his mission by vengeance. And as in my favorite sci-fi Whedon-verses, the line between the good guys and the bad guys is fluid, and the heroes are just a decision away from crossing it, regardless of intentions.
The cast was superb. Heath Ledger deserves all the praise that he's getting for his turn as the Joker. He's absolutely terrifying as a tool of pure anarchy. He has no boundaries, so every scene he's in is transfixing. The suspense is agonizing while you're waiting for the unexpected, violent, yet whimsical twist.
And overall, the movie was well done (if very, very violent). It poses some interesting, and timely, questions about the limits of power in a time of perceived siege and terror. Does Jack Bauer have it right, and are we reliant on the goodness of (one) man to save us? Or are we all too corruptible? Is there a system that can work, or is it forever destined to be manipulated by the people inside of it?
As a side note, the movie was filmed on location in Chicago, and they didn't do much at all to disguise the obvious recognizability of the city. I found this amusing ("hey, I had jury duty there!") and a bit distracting. And as a further side note, way back, I got a flier from some dude in the el to be an extra, I think for this movie. But the appropriate weary-of-it-all metropolitan-denizen response is to roll one's eyes and toss the flier into the recycling bin, while muttering about the inconvenience of the goddamned filming crews and equipment shutting down streets. Heh.
LATER. Slideshow here of location filming.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
2. the right profile, the clash
3. sonic reducer, dead boys
4. when i was a young girl, feist
5. don't change horses (in the middle of the stream), tower of power
6. isn't life strange, the clientele
7 into the sea, the album leaf
8. success, iggy pop
9. david watts, the jam
10. i remember nothing, joy division
I seem to be feeling a little bit punk. Enjoy your summer weekend. Barbecue, or something.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The real proof, however, seems to be evidenced in the speed with which my immediate boss chased me down afterward to follow up on my job description/promotion proposal submitted to him in February. (Yes, February. I've been agitating at intervals since, with nary a response. It's the usual management black hole. I am alleged to have been put in for a raise, the proof of which might show up by September.)
So I gave a laundry list of what I want to be in charge of; ergo, I appear to now be in charge of pubs and marketing and membership development, and the uber boss later introduced me to a development big wig with whom I'm apparently going to be working. That's a bit unnerving, in that I hope that these people don't think I'm an experienced professional rather than someone with a Dummies book. Experience for resume: good. Failing spectacularly due to being in over my head: bad.
Anyway, I'm angling for an assistant director-type position, and I'm thinking that it might be a real possibility. It's unfortunate that this place was (is) so mismanaged and populated by loonies. The uber boss has a good open style that jibes really well with my approach, and she seems to have good instincts about a lot of things. She also adores my propensity to bullet point stuff.
So, the plan: get more money, get better title, build skills. Keep ear to the ground for other jobs. (Network for me, people!) Soon, I'll be able to sell myself as a communications/publications/development professional.
It's amazing how we all behave accordingly (path of least resistance, I guess) and one person can enforce her arbitrary will. It's also amazing how infuriating it is.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Nonetheless, it's unsettling in the extreme to find yourself unwittingly exposed and to realize the extent to which your life, habits, and movements are readily available to anyone interested. This guy, for instance, knows where I work, where I live (or he can look it up), where I board the train, what stop I get off, which train I take in the morning, and all manner of information readily available via google.
Apart from that, though, conversations with colleagues and friends on all of this brought up some other interesting angles and perspectives. And the views split often along gender lines, because, generally speaking, this situation is more particular to women than to men. Nearly all the women had a story of an overzealous suitor to tell.
For everyone, particularly the security experts, the immediate takeaway message was that women should not make small talk with anyone to whom they don't want to give a wrong impression of interest. Maddening as it is to have to conduct one's interactions with all men in the universe on the binary of "I either want to sleep with them or I don't," that's fair enough advice, as far as it goes, I guess. We live in the world we live in. But, especially among women, certain social conditioning makes it really difficult to cut off people who are trying to talk to us. We don't want to be rude. We don't want to cause a scene. In short, we want to be nice, and once subtle cues are disregarded, we're left with saying something mean. And of course this mean response is met, often, by anger ("who do you think you are?" "why are you such a bitch?" "I was just being friendly!"). I'm someone less inclined than most to be "nice" to complete strangers demanding my attention, and even I get into this tangle. The ones who ignore the subtle cues are the ones who tend to get offended.
Beyond this, I tended to find that the women generally either put themselves in my place and reached worst-case stalker scenarios and declared I should call the police. (Whether or not someone is a physical danger to us, we all understand the dynamics of harassment and the feeling of helplessness it triggers.) Alternatively, the women tended to be very level-headed and matter-of-fact about the realities of navigating overenthusiastic men. It happens sometimes, and you learn to deal with it. What's the fuss?
The men, interestingly, tended to interpret the situation in terms of whether the person constituted an actual physical threat. Thus, the solution to the problem would be to round up the posse and pay the dude a visit. Apart from the hilarious vigilante picture conjured by this proposal (especially as carried out by librarians), the concept that stalking is so simply averted by a firm talking-to and a threat of violence seems a bit simplistic. People who stalk, after all, are not actually operating in the world of logical reason, consequence, and abstract things like what other people want.
So what's the upshot to all of this? I guess there really isn't one. I by no means want to imply that I think all men are like this (in fact, I'd say most aren't). The trick, for women, is knowing which is which. For all the decent dudes, the trick is understanding that navigating about your life as a woman can sometimes make you feel really vulnerable, and this makes us more defensive that perhaps seems necessary (and I'm personally sorry about that if it causes offense). Everybody, though, can develop reasonable shells and try to form better instantaneous judgments of other people. If we happen to make misjudgments, we can also try to avoid blaming ourselves for our own stupidity.
No, for my money, the really maddening thing about working with crazy people is the things you have to do to accommodate and/or work around the crazy person. Such as: inadvertently encountering undisposed personal hygiene products when one innocently heads to the loo; eating frozen carrots; putting personal belongings, trash cans, and other office paraphernalia into someone's else's precise yet arbitrary idea of just so; scurrying about behind partially closed doors because the person in question saw a stinging insect in a hallway (never mind that cracked doors allow flying insects, as do the louvered transoms above the doors).
That last one is just today, and we are all going about our day gingerly closing doors. Me, I can't so much as get anyone to make my deadlines, so I'm thinking I'm obviously going about things the wrong way.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
1. three is a magic number, bob dorough
2. no woman no cry, bob marley
3. tennessee waltz, sam cooke
4. ballet for a rainy day, xtc
5. i spy, pulp
6. thirteen, big star
7. rung by rung, the mystery meat
8. judy and the dream of horses, belle & sebastian
9. california sun, the ramones
10. psyche, nouvelle vague
Thursday, July 17, 2008
So true. They seek me out with pitiful mewlings at my back door. Then they die in my basement.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Hope this kind of preservation doesn't involve bathing in the blood of virgins, though.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The police chief is warning residents of Flint, Mich., to pull up their trousers ... or else.
"Some people call it a fad," Chief David Dicks tells the Detroit Free Press, a fellow Gannett newspaper. "But I believe it's a national nuisance. It is indecent and thus it is indecent exposure, which has been on the books for years."
And, in the heat, you know what's nice and easy to make for dinner? Tomato salad, on which I've created the following variation.
Combine the following:
grape tomatoes, sliced in half
small amount of olive oil
lots of fresh basil (from the garden)
Mix it all up. Chow down. Yum.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I also think that we are obligated, as good citizens, to reinforce whenever possible memes such as "flip-flopper" about my (well, let's face it, formerly chosen) candidate. The press can't do it all itself, people.
Sadly, all of this leads me to conclude that the only choice for the pure of heart is Cynthia McKinney. Or I hear John McCain is kinda sorta moderate and not at all flip-floppy.
LATER. Or, yeah, what she says here.
EVEN LATER (Just because I'm still thinking about it): If there is a person who cannot understand why a black dude from Chicago with a funny MUSLIM-sounding name might need to do some gesticulating in the direction of right, good, salt-o'-the-earth, middle-American people, I cannot help you.
*Past voting record is no indication of future performance or priorities.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
It's just so depressing to see these up-close effects on good people of the housing bubble and the recession. This makes two empty houses to the north of me, plus the one to the south of me (and I know the guy in the next house is having problems too). There are more empty houses, more unkempt lawns, more teenagers milling about, and--as he and I were discussing--the recent appearance of gang graffiti on a couple of garages in our alley. And those of us that are left are left with the falling home values and a less family-friendly neighborhood. This is all very sad, and for the first time, I'm kind of regretting having tied myself to real estate. I am, however, grateful to be employed, paid decently, and with good benefits.
On a different, more amusing note, my neighbor told me that he had been surprised to see me in the window the other day, lugging a baby. He brushed it off, he said, assuming I was babysitting for somebody. I think he found the full explanation less reassuring.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
The first one I picked up was this 1996 film, Paradise Lost (and its 2000 follow-up). It's the story of three eight-year-olds murdered in Arkansas and the three teenagers arrested and charged with the crime. You follow the subsequent legal process and get a glimpse at all sides of the story--the police, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the defendants, the victim's families, and the defendants' families. On the basis of a (coerced?) confession by one of the defendants, who has an IQ of 72, and the habit of the defendants to wear black and listen to heavy metal, a prosecution theory emerges of a ritualized Satanic killing. For those who grew up in small-town America as slightly "different," it's an uncomfortable view into a rush to judgment of the Other and the role that religion can play in helping economically powerless people have control over their world (what did Obama say about downscale whites "clinging" to guns and god?). After watching both of these films, I was spurred to research what has changed since 2000 (answer: precious little).
The other documentary, Crazy Love, ties into my recent Margaret Atwood-related musings on the way that women are limited by societal expectations and their own conditioned behavior in response to same. The film unfolds as follows. Man meets woman. Man lies to woman, strings her along, and woman finally gives him the heave-ho. Man goes stark-raving mad. And the results and fallout of his actions are head scratching, horrifying, and very, very sad. And as my friend and I talked about the film, it seemed to me that so much of what happened in this story (which begins in 1959) was, if not a particularly likely, then not completely illogical outcome of certain social norms at the time. Women get married unless they want to be sad old maids. Good girls don't do that, and they certainly aren't mistresses (I don't defend anything on this score, but it seems to me that, say, another time period, say the 1970s, looser ideas of monogamy might be more thinkable). Beauty is a woman's greatest asset, and once she loses that, it's a sad state of affairs for her. It makes complete sense to behave in certain ways, given all of those messages.
So, friends, watch these so that we may discuss, and you can tell me that I'm full of nonsense.
And a campus bookstore assortment allows one to pick up such exciting finds as a collection of Margaret Atwood's essays, reviews, and other published pieces dating 1983-2005.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Seriously, I had to shut the windows for the noise and the asthma-inducing smoke wafting through. I suppose the slamming of the windows was a bit ostentatious, but it let me vent and prevented me storming out and scolding, which naturally would make me the bitch on whose lawn you want to stomp and possibly let your dog take a dump.
Ah, Margaret Atwood--let me count the ways I love Margaret Atwood. I don't believe I've read everything she's ever written, although it's probably pretty close. And you may be aware that I named this blog after one of her stories. Well, she has a new collection of stories out, Moral Disorder, which I recently plowed through. It was, as with all of her work, thought-provoking, humane, unforgettably detailed. It's a series of stories, but in their totality, they tell a story of a life and a family. Atwood has always drawn her female characters with great care, representing their own complexities and the limitations imposed on them both by themselves and by the times and environments in which they live: reliable young girls expected to help raise younger siblings; schoolgirls pushed and pulled by maturing bodies, other people's responses to them, and moral codes imposed on what "good girls" do and do not do; young women in new professional environments navigating the minefield of powerful, entitled, and horny old men. In this book, as with most of her others, Atwood shows the layers of confusion, anger, resignation, and internalization of societal expectations inherent in just being female in the world.
And as an added bonus for my country relatives, this (apparently somewhat-autobiographical) book has stories featuring memorable characters who happen to be animals, as the narrator spends a portion of her life on a farm. And, okay, that really spoke to my experience too, as someone who has, for example, been acquainted with a cranky horse with stubby legs and a million tricks for making this whole "ride" thing come to an abrupt end.
On the flip side, I wanted to like The Reserve. I recall liking The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction (but maybe I just saw the movies of each of these and didn't actually read them). I can appreciate noir for what it is, and this is obviously a nod to that, as well as an homage to Ernest Hemingway. It was perhaps a mistake to follow Atwood up with a book featuring cardboard female characters. What we find out is that they have "creamy" skin and that they cross their "long" legs (they never ever just cross their legs). Their internal life is basically about who they find manly and attractive. Even, it seems, in the midst of devastating loss of a parent and incipient emotional breakdown, these women can only be focused on scheming and plotting for seduction. And okay, it's not as though any of the characters--male or female--were drawn with full depth, and yes, there was a certain stylized form to the book to capture the genre.
But I jumped off this train, I have to admit, because of the prose. After about the fortieth reference to "the artist Jordan Groves" (For the love of god, the scene is him in bed with his wife. We know who we is!) I cracked and couldn't take it anymore. Save yourself the hassle and read Hemingway instead, or better yet if you want adultery and mental breakdown and characters that are human, Fitzgerald.
Finally, for the Angel fans, you can do worse than pick up the comics continuing after season 5. The comic series, overseen by Buffy/Angel creator Joss Whedon and based on his sketches for the canceled sixth season of the show, are a great way to immerse yourself back in the universe and find out what happens next.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Because ladies don't go to college, sillies! I wish I'd captured the correct pivot, when she swings toward the camera (there's some baffling gyration going on with this figure; I have no idea exactly what it's supposed to represent--enthusiastic strolling toward an institute of higher learning?). Near as I can tell, she's naked.
RULE: "Bipartisanship" is good! Lest you think this idea of "bipartisanship" has anything to do with persuading members of the other party to pass objectively worthy legislation, perish the thought! Nor does "bipartisanship" have anything to do with going against the idealogues of your party and standing for something right, even though the easy political path is something wrong but popular among the voters. No no no! The true measure of it is how mavericky you are in bucking your party leadership. Yes, friends, if we view things in the correct light, I think we can all see Joe Lieberman for the "bipartisan" treasure that he is. And I know I don't have to tell you how the calculus comes out for a mavericky maverick like John McCain.
Separate note on objective media sourcing: When comparing two candidates' performances against each other, it is best to cull all your quotes from supporters and fellow party members of candidate A and such dispassionate analyzers of fact as AEI.
Also, John McCain likes doughnuts with sprinkles and coffee with a little cream and a little sugar.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A new entry this year is this restaurant, run by the African Hebrew Israelites and featuring some spectacular vegan soul food (yes, vegan. and yes, non-vegetarians also love the food). Mmmmmm, barbecue twists, which I may have to seek out in their natural habitat on the South Side.
Unfortunately, on our wanderings today we heard some crap band, which sounded like the worst country band you can imagine mixed with the worst metal (in my friend's immortal words, like an unholy combination of Brooks & Dunn and Motley Crue). Yesterday we saw a dapper (matching mint-green suits!) Motown cover band featuring some nice harmonies and choreography to make Berry Gordy proud.
Throw in the agoraphobia-inducing crowds and the street acts (hey, did you know that the kids are tap-dancing these days?), and you've got a festival, my friends.