Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day and the Mountains

Memorial Day means more during war time. I'm grateful to live in the United States. I'm also well aware that many of my fellow citizens spent their Memorial Day in dusty, hostile and miserable foreign countries while I spent my Memorial Day in the cool, placid mountians of Oregon.

Thank You servicemen & women for your ultimate sacrifce.

Nobody has ever come out and said that the Iraq war was started because George W. wanted to settle a family grudge against Saddam Hussein. But that's what I think. Even if we hadn't been traumatized by Sept. 11, George and the neo-cons would have drummed up some other excuse for invading Iraq.

I saw our fearless leader speaking on Memorial Day. He thanked the dead for their sacrifice then added that we wouldn't tarnish their memories by giving up the fight. We would finish the mission.

I wished he would have just left it at "thank you."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Friends with Benefits

I'm watching prime time with my family tonight, and a new show called 'Falcon Beach' is being previewed on ABC Family.
A clip from the show has one teenager suggesting to another that they could be 'friends with benefits.'
This is family television? Remember, Disney owns ABC - lovely.

I've always found the concept of 'friends with benefits' an absurd one, and certainly not one I want to see explored on a family TV show.
The whole 'friends with benefits' charade was invented by a man, or rather a group of irresponsible guys. It's the latest round in the centuries-old game of men trying to get sex for free.
Women can't really sleep with a man regularly without developing feelings for him, we're just not hard-wired that way.
I've known my share of tough chics who like to play like they don't care for the guy and they're screwing, but it's a bunch of crap.
Women have emotional needs, and guys don't want to deal with all that heavy stuff. They just want sex.
So some frat-boy or boys invented 'friends with benefits',then marketed it as the hip new way for men and women to relate.
They even gave it a cool catch-phrase, because what woman would participate in something that really should be called 'prostitution without the money'?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Who Wants to Be An American Idol?

I'm coming out of the A.I. closet.
I watch faithfully every Tuesday night. I call my mom on Wednesdays to find out who got booted off because she lives in an earlier time zone.
After Mandisa was voted off (you're beautiful, sister!) Taylor was my man.
At the first audition he was clapping his hands, stomping his feet, and wailing like a black white man. He even sang "Sing that Funky Music White Boy!" The dude is classic.

Katherine McPhee, on the other hand, is a vapid, goodie two-shoes slut.
She's got a nice voice, and a lucious bod, but the girl is practically a cardboard cut-out. Her attempt to cover Aretha Franklin was fucking horrible.
Simon said Taylor wouldn't make it to the Top 24. The king was wrong, long live the king!Speakin of Simon, nobody cares what Randy or Paula have to say, it's all about Simon. He's so cool. A cold prickly to be sure, but I'd rather hang out with Simon than the other two, not that it's ever going to happen.

Four years ago, American Idol didn't even register on my radar. I heard about that girl who won on the radio, but other than that I couldn't have cared less.
Three years ago, I snobbishly avoided it as a show for teenagers.
Two years ago, I caught a few episodes and was drawn in by the magnificently talented Fantasia.
Last year I caught a few more episodes and sighed with dissapointment as yet another beautiful white girl won.
This year I waited anxiously for the audition episodes to start in January, and delighted in every hideous performance. I could watch audition out-takes for the rest of the year until the new A.I. season starts up.
American Idol is the only show I can watch with my little kids, then still have adult discussions about it with everybody from my little sister to my retired downstairs neighbor to the internet chat rooms.
Everybody watches Idol, and I mean everybody. The only people not watching are those poor souls who have to work on Tuesday evenings, and those hard-core geek/hipsters who distane such pop-foolery.
Weirdly, nobody I know votes.
Not even me. I tried to vote one time but the lines were busy.
Of course I'll be watching the finale tonight. They've got me hooked. I heard that Meatloaf is performing. (?)
(Can you believe that guy chose such a shitty stage name? )

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Mixed Race Baby

Obviously, this is my child.
It's obvious to you because I am posting a picture of him on my blog. In real life however, it's not so obvious that he is my child because he looks nothing like me.
His dad is black and I am white.
Growing up, I only saw black people on TV, and my parents weren't exactly progessive thinkers when it came to race relations.
I never considered race or racism my problem.
Our little cross-cultural family lives in a pretty liberal big city on the west coast. No one has ever commented negatively about our conflicting skin colors, but it's out there.
Sunday afternoon - Mother's Day-we all took a walk down to our local grocery store.
Walking down the street with my very tall dark husband, I noticed people, in the safety of their cars, staring at us.
Staring at us.
Apparently, a black man, a white woman and two little children walking together is still a bit shocking.
How can I prepare my beautiful kids for this world that considers them an oddity? Sure, it's not as bad as it used to be, but I'm their mother, and I worry.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

American Polygamy

For several years I lived in southwestern Utah.
Polygamists, or Poligs as everybody in Utah calls them, are just part of the scenery like fantastic rock formations and quakies on sides of mountains.
I learned about poligs in the same casual manner I learned about rock climbing; it's just part of culture.
The women wear long dowdy braids with the trademark bump of hair over the forehead. They don't wear make-up, but always wear pioneer-style, long-sleeved dresses, even in the roasting desert summer, when the sun doesn't shine so much as it thunders.
It always irritated me that the women look like freaks, but the men just blend in. The only way you knew a man was a polig was when you saw him with the women. Otherwise, you might be dating one and not even know it.
That really happened to a roomate of mine.

Poligs keep to themselves; they don't even like to make eye contact.
To get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you have to drive through their little town, but nobody stops there for gas.
And thats the way it's been in Utah for the past century: We know they're there, we know what their doing, but everybody just looks the other way.
Recenty, only within the past 10 or 15 years, women and men who've escaped or been forced out of the polig community have been speaking out.
The 2002 Olympics also shone a spotlight on Utah poligs, their renegade ways, and the general public's complacency about it.
Now the Utah Attorney General and the FBI are getting tough, and if you've heard what Warren Jeffs is accused of, you know why.

You may think me strange but, I'm not against polygamy under the right circumstances
Chinua Achebe, author of "Things Fall Apart" writes about pre-Christian western African society. Polygamy there is completely normal and practical.
West African women had way too much work to do by themselves, and men were always doing crazy things like attacking neighboring tribes and getting killed, so polygamy worked.

Modern Utah poligs like to say they are living a 'higher law' or practicing the 'old-time religion', but in reality theirs is a weird sexual thing that has long out-lived it's practical purpose.
The Mormon Church practiced polygamy over 100 years ago, at a time when female chruch members outnumbered men almost 7 to 1, and women simply couldn't be alone on the American frontier.
When the FBI put Warren Jeffs on it's Top Ten Most Wanted list I know that a secret cheer went out in the hearts of many a poligamist woman. And probably some of the men, too.

I knew one ex-poligamist woman and she told me she wanted to be normal, just like everybody else.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Citizen Uses Ironic Political Satire

While walking out of a coffee shop, my jaw about hit the pavement. A man wearing a white towel over his head, huge black sunglasses, and an obviously-fake beard was driving a white van slowly through the parking lot.
I almost dropped my iced latte.
He saw me staring and theatrically stroked his beard.
I pivoted, a few other people stared at him, then I saw the signs in the back of the van and started running after him.

I knocked on the window of his van, I tried to get him to stop or roll the window down. He probably thought I was pissed off and ready to rumble.
Praise Jesus, I had my digital camera on me and started taking pictures as he drove past.
He must have seen what I was doing because he stopped the van, jumped out and gave me this great pose.
Unfortunatly you can't read the writing on the signs in this picture, Damnit.
The Left side says: "Disgraced traitor John Kerry" with a great picture of a 2-faced Kerry.
The Right side says: "Arabs for Bush" and "Vote Bush."
We didn't talk, as soon as I put the camera down, he said he had to get back to work and drove away.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Could It Be Any Easier?

It is so easy to vote in Oregon. They actually send you a ballot in the mail. You can fill it out at home. It's like an open book test.
I admit that as a voter in another state I voted for some candidates based on the lyrical qualities of their names. I just never heard of these people running for County Commisioner at Large or Dog Catcher Extraordinaire.
The big races like governor and state senator get lots of press coverage, but the majority of the candidates in the small races are literally unknowns.
Oregon is also nice enough to send a voter handbook in the mail containing names, pictures, and little biographies of the candidates in almost every race.
Today, I browsed through the voter handbook and voted at my leisure.
It was much better than scrunching into a little box and pulling a curtain with about as much coverage in the back as those hospital gowns behind me, then quickly voting for whoever sounds good because I don't want to keep everybody else waiting.
Once voted for the wrong guy! (It was Mike Leavitt-shudder.)
I knew he was going to win anyway - Utahns love their Republican incumbents, but I despise him and just wanted him to know it. After getting over the horror of my mistake, I decided it wasn't worth the hassel to get another ballot and possibly stand in line again, or make the other politically active citizens wait any longer.
Voting in Utah, and most other places, is also a major hassel because you have to figure out where to vote.
You can't just walk across the street to the elemetary school decked out in "Official Polling Place" signs. No, most likely your particular 'district' votes at some senior citizen's center you've never been to on some road you've never heard of, in some part of town your regularly avoid.
You'd think that with all the ease and convenience of voting, Oregon would have one of the highest voter turnouts in the country.
You'd think that wouldn't you?
Voter turnout here is about average, no more, no less than any other state.
I've got to wonder, why?
If the state offered to send ballot collectors to your home, then would more people vote?
If you could vote telepathically, would more people vote?
Probably not. One day I might accept that some citizens just don't care. They don't think their vote counts, or that nothing will change even if they do vote.
I don't get those people, I don't accept their thinking.
It's got to be something else.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Heard it on the Radio.

I could listen to NPR all day, except Saturday mornings when those annoying car guys are on board.
Today was a particularly gratifying day for me because I spent a good 2 hours in the car driving across town listening to NPR.
My 3 year old son was not in the car, so I didn't have to listen to Dora the Explorer sing about bouncing balls or Thomas the Tank Engine's Childrens Choir harmonize about the glories of being a train.

If you were listenting to a Top 40 or an adult contemporary station today, here is what you missed:

American Idol ,the biggest TV ever, was turned down by all the networks twice before Rupert Murdoch's daughter told her dad to buy it.-Thank you Rupert Murdoch's daughter.

  • Americans are more likely to trust their government over their media-What? They trust the government? Those Fools!
  • Ethnic Serbs may move from Kosovo if that country becomes independent-Kosovo is big enough to be it's own country?
  • The Prime Minister of Italy dosn't think America is too strong, but that Europe is too weak-holy crap, did he reallly just admit that Europe is weaker than America?
  • Google is playing offense against Microsoft and hiring big time lobbyists and lawyers-good for Google I hope they make lots more money.

I love learning this kind of stuff, I love it.

This made me somewhat of a dork in grade, middle, and high school, where smart wasn't cool but, all my years of collecting tibits of history, politics, science, and society makes me one brutal Trivial Pursuit player.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Of Riots and Protests

May 1, 2006; USA-A nationwide day of pro-immigrant protesters take to the streets.

I've never been involved in a public protest. I prefer to write letters to the editor and e-mails to elected officals; I'm kinda poindexter like that.
I don't think peaceful protests work. As a young jounalist, I was sent to cover a students protesting the rising cost of college. If you are attending school now, or will be sending someone in the future, you know how effective that was.
May Gandhi forgive me, but who has 40 years to wait around for change?
All our major sucessful American protests of the 20th century: Vietnam, Civil Rights, involved some element of violence.
It seems as if injuries have to be sustained and property destoyed in order to bring a measure of credibility to the protester's demands.
That's right, it takes a riot.
From the days of the French Revolution rioting commoners force the powerful to listen.
In the past month, we've seen riots in Nepal and France (those frogs love a little civil disobediance). The rioter's demands were met and pretty damn quickly, too.
It's got to be some intense rush to literally set the establishment on fire.
No wonder rioting is so popular.
Americans have gotten away true rioting. We riot when our team wins the Super Bowl. We think political rioters are crazy.
I say they're not crazy; they're effective.
Let's put it another way: You can hold hands with Cindy Sheehan and wear obnoxious T-shirts, or you can make a Malatov cocktail, and set some tires on fire.
Who would you be more likely to listen to?