Friday, December 18, 2009

Your Friday Awesome: Ladies Who Rock

Can I just say how awesome it is that Kristin Stewart's next role will be one in which she plays someone full of agency? I can? Good. It's awesome.

I am not so excited by the fact that she looks just like, well, Kristin Stewart - with a shag. Though Dakota Fanning looks awesome.

Oh, and speaking of ladies who rock:

I especially like the puppy and the leaf fight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whedon's Feminist Cred? Intact.

I've already admitted that I love Joss Whedon. And, while I've watched every episode of "Dollhouse" it didn't really sit too well with me in the Whedon cannon. Some fans, however, think that when it comes to Whedon and feminism we have nothing to worry about.

I think they might be right.

My latest post over at Mother Jones highlights the site Not a Doll that is using "Dollhouse" to bring awareness to the main plot point of the show: human trafficking.

Liking Whedon's shows and being a Whedonite are two very different things - I haven't read the Buffy comics and don't own a Browncoat. But, if Whedonites can get a giant studio to make a high budget movie out of a show that didn't even get a full season, they might just be able to create quite a bit of real life change.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nothing Says Happy Holidays Like Domestic Violence

I am really bad about sending holiday cards, but this year I figured I try and send them to a few people that I don't see on a regular basis and who regularly send me cards, cause I'm all adult and responsible now.

I am crafty and my husband is an artist so I don't like buying cards, but really, you can only make so many things in a year. I am also particular about messaging, and it is surprisingly hard to find a secular, non-sappy, attractive card free from bad puns. Unfortunately, this year did not offer many alternatives. It did however offer what could be the most offensive holiday card in the history of Hallmark:

If you can't see what is going on in the picture that I made my husband take while I held them up righteously indignant in the middle of the CVS aisle, it is an image of two gingerbread women (we assume they are women, since traditionally in illustration only women have eyelashes...). One is missing the lower portion of her body with the caption "First he dunked me in milk, then he bit off my legs."


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things I Read This Week

Police at the G20 meeting assaulted female protesters.

Amy Dickinson still doesn't get it, so Amanda and Melissa try to explain it one more time.

Justice Sotomayor is bad ass.

So is Patrick Stewart.

Oh, and Rolling Stone wants you know that Taylor Lautner is a total dude-bro.

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Friday Awesome - Kids are Awesome!

This kid is not only an awesome ukulele player, he makes the song sound way better than the original by that dude who sings songs with the girl that says she is inspired by sunshine (no, really).

And, then there is this kid:

So awesome, that I can't help but laugh for ten full minutes every time I see it.

via BoingBoing and Teppei.

Your Friday Awesome: Breast Cancer Awareness

This is how you use pink to generate awareness about breast cancer. No October-specific bedazzled products dipped in peto-bismol that give 1% of proceeds to research. Instead, the entire team of people that care for patients, including janitors, cafeteria workers and admins. Awesome.

via Feministing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let's Mail R. Kelly Condoms...Lots of Them

R. Kelly seems to have misunderstood all of the parodies of "Trapped in the Closet."

Note to R. Kelly: Parody is different than imitation and is not a form of flattery. Either that, or he his some kind of crazy smart business man that has decided that creating songs that seem like parodies of bad R&B, will make him the king of R&B. That is really the only reason I can think of someone making this:

To quote:
Girl you make me wanna get you pregnant,
That’s what I told her,
Girl you make me wanna get you pregnant,
Lay your body down and get you pregnant,
Like you are,
Knock you up, pregnant,
Oh and this lovely sentiment:
Shes more than a mistress enough to handle my business,
Now put that girl in my kitchen,
On top of that lyrical genius, the music is genuinely awful and contrived, which is another reason why I hope this is self-parody. Otherwise, he is (along with Tyrese) singing the praises of unprotected sex, deadbeat fatherhood, and an extreme insecurity in his own masculinity which requires a legacy of genetic proof. For the future of R&B I hope that is not the case.

Which is why I give you as a unicorn chaser the best in R&B and general awesomeness:

Whew! That's better. Thanks, Mary.

Via my husband, via Buddyhead.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quote of the Day - The Boss

The Boss officially joined Sean Penn in the ranks of commie, homo-loving son of a guns with this statement on his site:
Like many of you who live in New Jersey, I've been following the progress of the marriage-equality legislation currently being considered in Trenton. I've long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same sex couples and fully agree with Governor Corzine when he writes that, "The marriage-equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is -- a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law." I couldn't agree more with that statement and urge those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now.

The Right has been co-opting "Born in the USA" for years, twisting the meaning of the song for their purposes (I do not think it means what you think it means), so in honor of Bruce and standing up for equality:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Modern Day Mad Men Channel Pete Campell

So, Method (that designy home care line that smells of cucumber and first gained market share at Target) made a really really dumb ad:

Melissa McEwen of Shakesville (and the rest of the angry feminist blogosphere) pointed out that the ad was very unfunny and supported the culture of sexual exploitation and assault of women.

Method responded saying "we're sorry you're so sensitive, but oh well it's funny! Exploitation is bad...but, funny!" (I paraphrase).

Madison Avenue then found out that one of their own was being criticized by those angry overly-sensitive feminists and freaked out. Not once, but twice.

What did we learn from this little exercise? A few things:
1. It's not just PETA that thinks the protection of the environment should leave women to be (ahem) washed down the drain.

2. The big wigs in advertising have not progressed much past 1963 in their understanding of gender.

3. Perhaps the reason they refuse to move on is because it makes their job easy. Its much easier to remain within the status quo (even if exploitative and supportive of a violent culture) than to actually be creative.
Of course, we can always assume that Method didn't actually see how offensive the ad was to begin with, since you know, they work in an industry where this (WTF Michael Bay directed! No, seriously.) crap is the norm:

But, you know what? There is a pesky little thing called learning and until they figure out what they did was dumb, sorry Method, but I'll get my biodegradable cucumber scented fix somewhere else.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Your Friday Awesome

Sure, this has been all over the interwebs, but can you really ever get tired of it?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Child Labor - Then and Now

Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.

The magazine I blog for, Mother Jones, is named after Mary Harris Jones who spent her life working to gain basic labor rights for everyone, including children.

Sociological Images featured some really haunting images of child laborers in the United States during early industrialization. They feature the factory labor we are familiar with:

They also show other forms of work outside of the home, like the romanticized "newsie" and field laborers. One image in particular resonated with me:

The child is working with what look like clams, but it reminded me of images like this:

From the site, "A child collects recyclable materials from garbage in order to earn his living on 14-11-08 here in Guwahati."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Austin Chronicles: The Game

The Austin Chronicles are an ongoing series about a California gal (me) who decided that Texas during the Bush Administration would be the best place to get a graduate degree in Women's Studies. I learned much more living in Texas than I did in school.

When last we left our intrepid bowtied Californian in Texas I had successfully negotiated geeks, robots and Texas-specific beer - I had quite a a lot more to learn...

I had barely worked up a tolerance for Lone Star before the phone rang again.

"Hi, can you work The Game on Saturday?"

"Sure! What game?"

"THEE Game."

"Um, yeah, what game would that be?"

"The FOOTBALL Game."

"Oh,, which football game?"

"The U.T. FOOTBALL Game."

"Ohhhhhhhhhhh....that game."

Here's the deal. I know jack-squat about football. Sure, I grew up in a small town in California where the only thing to do on Friday nights was go to the high school football game. After five years of attending, I finally asked my friend why the referees kept throwing their hankies on the ground. I was informed that they were not hankies, they were penalty flags. My bad.

But, my apathy for learning how many "downs" need to be completed and why they are being attempted in the first place and why a touchdown isn't enough and why you have to install giant tuning forks in the end of the field so the little guy can get one more point, isn't just because I think it is boring. I don't just not like football, I am opposed to it on principle.

In fact, I'm kind of against most organized sports - not the sports themselves because teamwork and exercise is good and all that - but the extent to which they are an obsession, a marketable, profit-driven, exploitative obsession. Lots of organized sports often require people to push their bodies beyond the limit, resulting in "career-ending" injuries at 17, but the whole point of football is to throw your body weight against other people that are doing the same thing - that is just not a good idea.

And how can we talk about "career ending injuries" when the majority of people playing won't be able to make a career out of it? And don't get me started on the billions of dollars that are pumped into everything from Pop Warner to the NFL. Oh sure, football generates income, but it also diverts it and a whole crap load of energy. Just imagine if we had "boosters" for the science-fair, drama department and Model UN. Or if all of that scholarship and sponsorship money went to preschools and preparing kids for college or apprenticeships to actually learn things that will allow them to have a successful career for more than a decade or two? A career that won't lead to early onset senility. Oh, and it remains one of the few sports where girls aren't allowed - unless they fight really hard to be able to kick the ball between the tuning forks. I'll stop there for now...

But, in Texas, saying you hate football is like attending a PETA convention and saying you enjoy clubbing baby seals on the weekend. At first, people think they might have heard you wrong. Then, they move past the sheer confusion to raging anger and some finally arrive at mournful pity over your inability to function with the moral parameters of society (though they might be totally cool with it if you do it naked...and have boobs). So when I arrived in Austin, it was a little like arriving on Mars, and not just because folks talked a little funny. Thanks to football, the color was a bit similar, too.

I was the editor of the art and literary magazine in high school (we could have really used a booster club). I was very familiar with burnt ochre and burnt umber, but burnt orange? In Austin, it's not just burnt orange t-shirts and giant foam fingers and bumper stickers. Its burnt orange clothing, burnt orange furniture, burnt orange cars and burnt orange street signs.

And lets clear the air - the outrageous use of burnt orange and longhorn profiles is not about school spirit. They are not worn and emblazoned on everything that holds still for .25 seconds because people are proud of academic achievement, or the choir, or even the tennis team. They are celebrating football, plain and simple.

So, if you are going to ask if I want to work "the game," sorry, but you are going to have to be more specific.

But, once I figured out just exactly what game I would be working, I donned my bow tie, found my way to the appropriate gate, waited with my fellow caterers in ill-fitting tuxedo shirts, and tried not to sweat. Once again, it looked like I was the only newbie. All of the guys still had their shirts unbuttoned, or draped over the arm and stood fanning themselves in undershirts. All the girls were still hastily putting their hair up. Once again, everyone was friendly and confused as to why I had moved to Texas (Answer: because 75 and sunny can get so booooring...).

Finally, a woman in a better fitting tuxedo shirt and vest came out to look us over. I couldn't tell if she was taller than me or if it was her hair (how much Aqua Net does it take to keep up a Texas bouffant in 98 degree weather?). After sizing up the group, I was told I would be going to the VIP section where I would be a cocktail waitress. After a brief moment of panic that I had signed myself up for some Division I version of the thinly-veiled-porno craigslist ads and would be "working the Champagne Room" I realized instead that I was about to be introduced to not just college football, but TEXAS LONGHORNS FOOTBALL - Hook'em Horns!

She ushered me and a few others who had been deemed VIP section worthy, into an elevator marked VIP ONLY.

"If we catch you watching The Game you're fired."

"Okay, but can I watch the marching band at half-time?"

The elevator doors opened to a giant room with windows running the length of it with a sweeping view of the field. She walked to one of the three bars in the room and started digging behind it:

"Here is your tray, your change apron - tips will be pooled - now 'git to it."

Um...okay. That probably would have been a good time to let someone know that I'd never had experience as a cocktail waitress. That, in fact, those beers I handed out at the conference center were the first I had slung. I did not. Beyond my lack of career experience, my drinking repertoire consisted of any red wine that cost under $6, California micro-brews (and the newly discovered Lone Star and Shiner Bock) and mixed drinks that fit the [blank] and [blank] model (gin and tonic, cranberry and vodka, rum and coke - well liquor only).

Without any customers, I wasn't sure what we were supposed to "git to" so I stuck by one of the guys that I had chatted with outside. Evidently that was the right move since he handed me limes and a knife. I decided then was the time to fess up:

"This is my first time doing this."

"Working The Game?"

"Yeah...and also cocktail waiting."

"Ha! Its okay, its super easy. Just take drink orders - they are free, by the way, since these f*ckers give a bunch of money, so your apron is just for tips - and come to me to fill them."

At that point a streak of blonde and a whiff of Aqua Net rushed past and whispered "Doors open!" I handed my bartender buddy his limes (which he proceeded to re-cut correctly), took a deep breath, channeled my highish-end retail customer service identity, and a twang of what I thought was Texan hospitality, straightened my bow tie, and walked up to a friendly looking couple in their 70's.

"Hi! What can I get for you folks?"

"Oh hi, honey. We'll have two cooooba leeeeebras."

And he handed me a twenty. "Sure thing!"

In any other situation, I would have been strategizing about how I could educate him that "honey" was not good manners, but condescension, but I had bigger problems - like what the hell was a cooooba leeeeebra?

I dodged groups of twos and threes in burnt orange greeting each other with "Hook 'em!" on my way back to the safety of the bar:

"They want two cooooba leeeeebras. What the hell are those!?!"

The bartender smiled and narrated as he poured: Ice, rum, coke, and a slice of the just-cut limes.

"It's just a rum and coke!?"

"With a lime."

"Oh, okay, thanks. Um, they handed me a twenty."

"That's your tip."

"But they are free, and I haven't given them anything yet."

"It's so you keep coming to them. Don't worry there will be more at the end."

Evidently the tipping was going to be much better than the ones and nones I got at the convention center. But I had more important things to do - like try and find the right friendly looking couple in their 70's in burnt orange, when the room had filled to the brim with other friendly-looking couples in their 50's, 60's and 70's in burnt orange.

But, I found them, delivered their drinks and continued to make a bunch of other rich, football-loving Texans happy throughout the game. I tried not to stare at the whole new inventory of burnt orange accessories, though I'm pretty sure I spotted a silk scarf covered in longhorn profiles with "Hermes" in the corner.

Luckily, Cuba Libres seemed to be the drink of choice - second only to diet Cuba Libres. With the exception, of course, of the one cranberry and vodka ordered by the granddaughter of one of the friendly folks - which, I promptly spilled down the back of her white denim jacket.

Thanks to true Texan hospitality (assisted by a half-dozen Cuba Libres) she and her grandparents were nice about it, blamed the guy behind them for bumping into me, and worried that I would get fired. Surprisingly, it turned out she had nothing to worry about.

The Longhorns ended up losing the game really, really badly (blasphemy!) so folks started to clear out early and we were already gathering all the discarded limes and cocktail napkins before the teams left the field. At one point, I smelled the distinct smell of Aqua Net next to me.

"You did a good job today."

"Thanks, when I spilled that drink?"

"Well, that always happens. Too bad we can't hire folks full time."

Evidently, when the Longhorns lost the bar was lowered.

-Photo by Alycat.


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