Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Web Art from the Cabinet

Everyone should check out this awesome web-art feature on the Cabinet's website. It's called "There There" by Jackie Goss. It's very informative, and the graphics are kinda awesome.

I hope you enjoy and feel free to post your favorite factoids. Mine happens to be: "In a map of 1900 you see the Philippines tucked under California" or maybe "Henry Garnett, chief cartographer and pizza lover, chooses 'souvenir'--a font he recognizes from Pizza Hot menus."

I never really think about space or place really all that much outsides of wanting to find places to go out for vacation. But in reading this, I remember a really interesting West Wing episode where some people tried to convince Leo or Sam that the United States should back this organization that wanted to redraw the map of the world. We very rarely think about the world at large in a geographical sense...or so I think. Although of course as of late we have been obssessed with ecological issues. Look at films like Wall-E or The Happening.

There really is such a large space out there, but it is seriously dwindling each day. We are not only losing space and resources at an alarming rate, but we are increasingly destroying the Earth with our horrible habits. How many times have we kept the lights on too long? Wasted food? Or abused our access to gas and water? In ecofem, I remember reading an article about how women in some countries walk five hours a day to reach available water sources.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Banning Bullying

Why is New York such a cool state? Answer: Because its Republican State Senators introduced a bill into their state legislature attempting to ban bullying in public schools. Key element to the bill: gay, lesbian, and transgender students would be protected under the bill because it will protect students and teachers of all sexual orientations and genders. Awesome.

Alan Van Capelle, the director of a pro-gay New York agency, said, “In a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy [and] Will and Grace world, kids are coming out at a much younger age,” he said. “As a community, we have done a woefully inadequate job of protecting them.”

I totally think that this is awesome that New York is doing this, and I hope that soon many others states will catch on. To me, this says that there are parts of America were progress and education have reached the minds of individuals. However, as per course, there are some issues with the bill. It won't be voted on at today's session, but hopefully, they will vote on it in the near future.

I personally remember a kid/possible friend/acquaintance from high school who was treated horribly at school because of his orientation. The worst of it was during P.E. one day when some other students threw rocks at him, which was just absolutely horrible and explains why I took extra-credit courses outside of school to make up for my in school P.E. credit. Maybe someday this won't happen to children. Maybe one day societ will be able to realize that we are all just people and that treating others with such disdain for no reason is not necessary.

For more about this legislation see the article in NY Times:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Secret Life of an American Teenager

Because of DVR, I was lucky enough to catch a marathon of the first six episodes of ABC Family's new television show, Secret Life of an American Teenager, and of course, it wouldn't be a typical summer without latching onto some weird television show that I will indubitably not end up finish watching once school starts. Of course, the big "secret" is that teenagers have sex and that you can get pregnant the first time that you have sex. Wow! I didn't really know that those facts were that secret.

Monopolizing on the rather public pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears, ABCF decided to jump on the disturbing "new" trend of redefining "family values." Every episode is followed by a PSA about preventing teen pregnancy, however, it seems the only way to deal with it is to get married and have the kid (uh, disgusting). Of course, I was overly thrilled at the idea that Amy, the main "pregnant" character might actually succeed in getting an abortion. I mean, since the first episode, the word was mentioned and the seed planted. However, I should have known that a network with "family" in the title wasn't going to allow sweet teen Amy to actually follow through with it. This weeks episode was the final straw. She actually made it into the operation room of the clinic after being bombarded by a pro-life, evangelical ex-cheerleader and her new boyfriend who wants to marry her and make everything better. The naivete of half the cast is so lame and sort of passe when it comes to TV drama.

The redeeming features of the show, however, are Molly Ringwald as Amy's mom and India Eisley (quite the newcomer) as Amy's sister. While Molly Ringwald is playing the opposite end of her 80s roles, she does a pretty good job of acting like the adult version of her former roles, sometimes. India often steals the spotlights from the other characters of the show. The dry delivery of her lines seems to make her acting style seem raw and lame, however, her quirky lines and forward-thinking sensibilities outweigh her own childishness concerning her inability to understand adult relationships. And before I forget, I have to mention Francia Raisa as Adrian (the school's resident bad girl who enjoys sex and quite frankly may have the best lines of the show so far) and Amy Rider (Ben's friend and resident romance/sex statistician who seems to know more about sex than those two dudes from Loveline).

So, what is Amy's way out of this pregnancy? Well so far her options are abortion (which is probably a no-no), marrying Ben (which is lame and shouldn't happen), or getting together with the baby-daddy (which will probably happen for ratings and plot twists). Ah, conventional television.

But what really bugs me is that ABC Family won't just give her the abortion. Doesn't that happen in families? Is every family so story book? There are no gay families on the network. It seems as if the most they are willing to do is have inter-racial families (that are because of a foster agency not because of choice). (While I'm not an expert on the whole network, I'm pretty sure my statements are true, and if not, I apologize.)

Anyways, I'll keep watching it for a while, and who knows, maybe like Gossip Girl, a follow-up might appear in the future.

One Of The Places Where I Want To Live...

I was perusing the NY Times site, and I often like to look at the pictures that accompany ads. I was so excited when I came across this one, and I was even more excited to see that this house was actually in Rhode Island, a place that I have always dreamed about moving to. And by dream, I mean think about a lot and know that it probably won't happen. However, if I had enough money, I would totally buy this place (after Mt. St. Michael, Mt. St. Michel, and the Biltmore...although I technically think this house would be the cheapest).

The house is named Clingstone, and it sits in Narrangensett Bay of RI. It was built by the Mr. J. S. Lovering Walton and Mr. William Trost Richards in 1895. It was eventually purchased by Henry Wood, a distant family relative in 1961 for only $3,600 dollars. Since then, Wood has made the house practically a completely green house with solar power, seawater composts for water, collecting basin for purifying rain water, etc. So yeah, that makes the house completely great...but I want it because it looks so beautiful. I can just see myself sitting at a window typing on an old school typewriter thinking of my youth traveling abroad.....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Paris Running For President

I actually love this video, and I don't see why I wouldn't vote for her. Haha!

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Running Red Lights

I hope that the following link does not ever die out there in cyberland:

The above link is to an article by Chris Rose, a writer for the Time-Picayune in New Orleans. Of course, my native city is quite the interesting place...especially as of late. However, Rose's condemnation/critique of the city's adoption of this week's national fad is quite poignant and hilarious.

I guess I love the part "But is it really necessary to have an awareness campaign to get people to obey the law, particularly a law that everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- knows is the law?" since its the best (rhetorical) question Rose's article poses.

This article should also be read by every Tulsan, since that seems to be quite a huge problem here as well. In fact, I think its more of a problem here than back home where speeding is the real issue.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Time for some art talk.

I recently watched the 2003 film based on the 1999 historical novel by Tracey Chevalier based on the painting by Johannes Vermeer (circa 1665-1675). I was really moved by the film and touched by the rather personal performances of Colin Firth as Vermeer and Scarlett Johansen as the maid and subject of the painting, Greit. The film also sported a rather early cameo by Cilian Murphy, and of course, no one other than the Tom Wilkinson played the weird villain-patron. I haven't read the book, but after watching the film this time, I am quite tempted to make it one of my many upcoming purchases.

Wanting to know more of course, I perused wikipedia and for a chance of finding out more about the film, but it wasn't until researching the book that I came across this great website: . To put it simply, I was kinda amazed by this guys in-depth study of the painting and had some of my own thoughts, of course. This is his website <> if you are interested in this painting and want to know much more than I do about it or will be able to write about in the rest of this blog.

What really stirred me was the comment that Vermeer's (aka Colin Firth's) wife said when she was finally able to get her greedy eyes all over the painting, which is that it was "obscene." So maybe there is a lot more going on in the novel/film that I can figure out because I don't exactly see how that painting is obscene. It a portrait of a fully clothed girl. Is it some class thing? Is this way too poor girl not supposed to be sporting these pearls and glossy fabrics?

It's just kind of interesting that this is now one of his more famous paintings because supposedly it was never sold during his lifetime is apparently moderately different from more of his other works. Jonathan Janson says that we know the less about this painting than any of Vermeer's others, which is just how this works of course (the one you really want to know the most about is the one its too hard to find information on). Some people call this painting the "Dutch Mona Lisa," and I kind of find that appropriate since there is something quite enigmatic about her. What is she looking at? Why capture just her? In a lot of Vermeer's other's paintings, you see the workroom studio he used (and which is captured brilliantly in the film). I wander how much of Chevalier's speculation/Griet's lines in the film about the chair making the model feel trapped influenced this painting. Is that why she is painted with just the background? To give her more freedom. Is she the pearl? The expensive symbol of virginity, vanity, and femininity...
I rather like what Arthur Wheelock writes, "As this girl stares out at the viewer with liquid eyes and parted mouth, she radiates purity, captivating all the gaze upon her. Her soft, smooth skin is as unblemished as the surface of her large tear-drop shaped earring - like a vision emanating from the darkness, she belongs to not specific time or place. Her exotic turban, wrapping her head in crystalline blue, is surmounted by a striking yellow fabric that falls behind her shoulders, lending an air of mystery to the image." (taken from Janson's website).

However, there is also something quite critical that can be said about her dress and the pearl. Some of the stirrings of Orientalism and the fascination with the East. Apparently, Vermeer owned quite about of Turkish materials, and the turban was quite a commonplace headdress in paintings (see Jan van Eyck's Man With a Turban, 1433).

I think what moves me most about this painting is that it demands the imagination rather than controls it. Unlike some paintings like say Starry Night or La Grande Jette, with Vermeer's Girl you have to use your own mind and imagination to see what is going on underneath the surface, to see what is being expressed on the canvas. All that we have before us is this girl looking at us, but it is up to the viewer/us to create the rest, whereas with other paintings, with so much material presented for the viewer, commands the mind rather than allows it to move more. I hope that makes some sense.

Peace out.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Inspired by The Blood of Fish"

"Inspired by The Blood of Fish"

As I look down, I see the blood
surrounding the women and the solitary fish.
A voice speaks within my body
telling me to accept in the pain
because grief would make it easier for them to swim.
Even better, it allowed me to become the artist and paint.

She steps off the page, dripping in paint.
Walking slowly around her friend’s body,
she wonders why there is a fish,
and she begins to realize that it is harder to swim
within the cavity of blood
than to walk over the bodies writhing in pain.

The artist’s brush has entered her body,
Causing torment, anguish, and pain.
He not only created but used his pen to swim
within the concave self smothered in blood,
a sacred space that should be untainted by paint
or the presence of this rude fish.

She moves slowly toward the fish,
not enjoying the walk as she would a swim.
Not prepared for the movement, she slips on the paint.
The solitary figure inspects her body,
and notices that her friend is in pain,
a single soul not subject to death but still gurgling life’s blood.

The artist observes, realizing that his pain
can no longer control the movement his figures of paint
make as they exist on the field of blood
squirting forth from the veins of the lonely fish.
The soul enters in the body
of the broken, walking girl as if on a summer’s swim.

The creator looks like a lifeguard saying, “You cannot swim
in that curious liquid known as blood,
which will only cause you such pain
and heartache because of the rape of my brushstrokes and paint!”
He gazes upon the now inanimate woman and the dying fish
and realizes that his own soul is bound to the canvas like her body.

He realizes that she, the subject, has a body,
superior to his and not suspect to the nature of blood
because she exists, unlike him, within the medium of paint.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Follow-up on Gossip Girl

So having now seen all of the first season of the CW's Gossip Girl, I'm sadden to report that since Serena's little brother, Eric, came out of the closet, he was only given one line in the season finale...something lame about the wedding (having been skirted over in the penultimate episode in which Serena's secret became exposed). Anyways, this blog won't be wholly devoted to how I was just a tad ticked that the show is ignoring its great gay plotline, rather, it will be on their new rather aggressive ad campaign for season two. Perhaps we could claim that the campaign is a little desperate, but I'd rather claim that its ingenious. But maybe that's because I love brooking disappointment and I like transgression.

The above image featuring the letters "OMFG" was part of the advertising for the final three episodes of season one. Of course, the Christian right, who I guess happen to be watching this show for entertainment value, as well as a number of other conservatives, seemed to think that the above ad was quite offensive. I mean really? According the Parents Television Council, the ad campaign was perhaps a little too mature for tweens, teens, and adults. I mean inserting the word "fuck," or rather its variant "fucking," between an already pretty blasphemous phrase, which takes the Lord's name in vain, seems rather brilliant.
Although this ad only inserted the letter "F" between the letter "OM" and "G." Surely what they really meant was "official meeting facilities guide" or "Ophelia Madeline Fabrizio Guido" or "Ohio Milling and Farming Group." Regardless, I loved the ads and wasn't really offended by them. Of course, I can handle TV-MA more than the average TV-goer I'm sure.

So, what I find even more completely amazing is the ad campaign in response to the original controversy. Taking some of the most outspoken and heavily critical reviews of the show, the advertisers thought that they would take the most "severest" criticism to plug the show and make it sexy.

I think it works rather effectively, but of course, you should judge for yourself. I wouldn't want to influence you too much. Of course, my favorite would have to be the one on the rather delicious Chuck Bass because undoubtedly he is "very bad for you."

I think its great to take your severest criticism and turn it against those who gave it to you. It's the best form of appropriation.

So, I don't really know how you feel about these ads, but I like them. I'll surely be tunning into o season two. And for those of you that will also be tunning in, I have some spoilerly fun via appears that Serena and Nate will be having some action going on in the Hamptons, the locale of the season opener; however, it hasn't been disclosed whether or not this wonderful connection will be in a dream sequence or in the real world. Also, prepare for a NYC blackout in episode three that will apparently have Serena and Blair fighting over a flashlight. And what's to come of little Jenny. Hopefully, not this lame spin-off their talking about because I really want to see her in this internship with Blair's mom...not to mention wrecking havoc on the queen bees in this new season.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Welcome to Gilead....

At first I wasn't going to write about this until a friend of mine made a Facebook post with her own personal take. Let's just say my blood curdled when I was checking the news on CNN and came across this interesting headline: "Plan calls Pill, IUD abortions." It had the little camera icon next to it, which means that it was a video. Usually, I don't watch their videos because you have to let them load and sit through some cheesy commercial, however, with a headline like that, how could I possibly pass up some fervent discussion I knew was going to stem from this already controversial headline and amazingly interesting (and quite horrifying possible) subject at hand.

What? Are you serious? So supposedly in some final act of Republican hoo-haa, the Bush administration is trying to push some bill/act through Congress that would question the scientific stances on birth--conception or implantation? To back up my already growing astonishment, I raked some other news sources and came across this article by The Wall Street Journal (thanks Callan).

After just talking to Fink about how her Catholic college doesn't cover birth control, I realized that she could potentially be buying abortions under the new regime if this legislation is being passed. Yet again, I recall conversations in Scholars', of course all in Stave's classes, about abortion and what women go through to get them. I mean, do we really want to start having hanger-wire abortions and coke-a-cola douches again? Hell no. I still am just incredibly shocked by the hubris of man, thinking that he has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body. Really.

All of this for me is just foreshadowing many conversations to come in my 1033 class. I've already printed out several articles, and I can't wait to start presenting some of this information to students to start getting them all riled up about personal and political issues. Of course, as the title of this blog alludes to, this is nothing more than a Atwood's dystopia coming to life before our very eyes. She warned us all, and unfortunately, a lot of us aren't taking her seriously.

The WSJ articles states, "A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying 'the life of a human being.'" ... The article goes on a bit later, "If the draft regulation were to prompt some insurance companies to drop coverage for prescription birth control, 'that would be fantastic,' said Tom McClusky, a strategist with the conservative Family Research Council." OMG!? Are you serious? (I must hand it back over to Callan who ingeniously in her response to this posted a picture of the Duggar family, asking the question, "Is this what the American family should be like?" It wasn't framed that way, but it was along the lines of, is this what's going to happen without birth control. Of course, I don't think it would because we would still have under the counter abortions and new, ingenuous ways of aborting.)

So of course my own personal response to this issue is to want to go out and protest any possibility of this happening in our country. However, I realize that I'm probably part of a growing minority when it comes to this issues. Trying not be defeatist and wanting to flee America is not going to change the fact that continually this country is moving slowly towards fundamentalism. Sure, we haven't started bombing each other, segregating the nation, and taking away women's bank accounts, but with the way the environments keeps deteriorating, the economy weakens, and religious indoctrination continues...I just don't see any other possibility for this country. I mean I remember being in Ecofem and talking about the wars that America is going to be fighting 50 years from now over water. I mean I just can't handle it. Why do we have to impose religious beliefs, fuck even scientinfic beliefs onto others. I don't remember there being all of this hoo-haa when Lamarck (I think that's his name) was fucking up the agricultural life of Russia. Sorry for the mini-rant.

So what can we do? Callan says we should wish that Stevens doesn't drop dead and that Obama wins so that he can put more Democrats on the bench, but is that all we can do? No. We have to continue to educate others and show that having an abortion is not evil. Abortion is an option, and let's face it, sometimes it can be the best option. Should we keep bring babies into a world that would rather rip itself apart than live in harmony? Why is it that people feel the need to have their own biological offspring, is it some biological imperative or is it a hegemony that we have already bought into for so long we can see our way out of it?

Integration 2008

Thank Beamish for this blog.

Having been sent a video link the other date about sex without condoms (how ridiculous a thought, honestly)....I started to peruse NPR's website. Those of you who may not know, will soon find out through confession that I'm not overly fond of NPR, if only for the fact that when I'm driving in the car I tend to be screaming too much or singing beautifully. I tend to get my news from other sources. That, however, is besides the point.

Surprise, surprise when I actually read that a Mississippi school held their first inter-racial prom in 2008. OMG! 2008, 2008, 2008. I mean seriously. It's been over a hundred year since the Civil War and over 40 years since the Civil Rights Movement. I thought that least we could have achieved since then is integration. Apparently, I was wrong.

Read the above link for more on the prom.

(I must also add at this point, that this blog is heavily influenced by my recent viewings of The Great Debaters and my absorption in all things Toni Morrison and this new found book (thanks Hall) by Octavia Butler, Kindred.) (I'm also sort of really upset that I haven't been able to watch more of this "Black in America" stuff on CNN. I think it's really very fascinating and its just got my blood boiling.)

So, it has to go on record that I am the most liberal person and my family and that I was particular shunned from most family gatherings because I would not admit that white people are better than black people...okay, so it didn't go down like that, but I felt that it did. Everyone in my family is obsessed with race. Sure, we live in the South, but I think it's time to move past that. I was recently in Jersey visiting a friends, and rest assured, there are racists in the North. But really, what is a school holding their first integrated prom in 2008.

The weirdest thing about the blog was how it nonchalantly dropped in that Morgan Freeman was a local from this Mississippi town who wanted to sponsor an integrated prom for years without any success. Wow! If Morgan Freeman wanted to have sponsored Ehret's prom, we would not only have accepted, we would have demanded he be there to get down with us. As Karen says speaking for Morgan Freeman, "I gotta bad feeling about this."

So all of this has my thinking about a lot of things. Like when Stave and I were at the conference in Louisville and one of our (yes, I guess I'm a professional now that I've started teaching) colleagues was talking about post-race issues at Emory. How students actually that race was a moot point when discussing African-American literature of the 20th century. Wow! Really. And then there is this kick ass CFP that Kate had me working on for TSWL about how can we conceive of race beyond nation or family. I mean mind was blown away. How can you think of race that way? And then of course, there was that really awesome dynamic conversation I had with Courtney about African-American inspirational sports dramas.

I just think it's really sad that at this point in time we are still struggling with integrations when what we should we really be struggling with is equality. I find it horrible that races can't even interact together in some places because of ingrained socio-economic hegemonies and because of this weird propagandist mis-education of American youths and individuals. Race is one of the founding principles of our country (according to Dr. Means). If it wasn't for different races, America wouldn't be the same. Well, to be honest, sometimes I wish America wasn't the same. Why do we (here insert Americans, I include myself here) have to hate one another so much? I really do wish sometimes that America could be a better place, and I think to myself sometimes that it can be if we makes steps to make changes.

The recent Robert Redford movie ripped to shreds because of its dealings with this war we are at has this really interesting message embedded within a class room scene. Perhaps a little too overly didactic, the students, Derek Luke and Michael Pena, propose that there is one way American can becomes better, which is start practicing what we preach and start living in the other's shoes to see what we can do to actually improve the quality and equality of life. For instance, they claim that instead of having a junior and senior year of high school, students should be forced to live in one of the 500 poorest neighborhood in America, or to work from Green Peace in foreign countries. Could you imagine if students actually had to do that? I wonder how many would resent it, but I also wonder how many people would be touched by a possible epiphany they would have when they realize that the systems are in place to keep people down. To keep people broken.

A work colleague just mentioned to be in passing the other day that what made the original Star Trek show rather progressive was the writing not the technology or shooting of the show. She mentioned that their Earth was a place where there was no hunger, there was no war, and there was no racial separation. Maybe it really will take us another 1,000 years before that happens. But I sure hope it doesn't.