random news

First of all, i probably need to forewarn everybody that i may soon become more of an insufferable a-hole than i already am. The reason? i'm blogging this to you from the linux operating system. My hard drive crashed last week and i may have decided to go all shareware for my os.

Problem is, i'm not sure i know how to do some of the more important programming bits. And then there's Quicktime media player, which i don't think is even available for linux. This is a problem because...well, because some of the things i find so very appealing about computers and the internet use Quicktime.

Anyway, if this linux thing works out, get ready! I figure i'll be preachin' the gospel.

Also: i'm getting ready to go up for a teaching review tomorrow. I was thinking about what i need to do to get ready for that as i prepared my morning bowl of oatmeal and thought of something: There was a point in school when both Alison and I asked our committee professors: "Okay. Just tell me the hoops you want me to jump through, and i'll do it." And both of us recall said professors becoming very irate at this question.

Problem is, Alison says that she now totally understands why they got angry with that question. I don't.

(number of times i used the phrase "problem is" in this post: 2)


eef and hambone, hambone and eef

Sarah Josepha Hale

It's Thanksgiving once again, which means it's time for my annual homage to Sarah Josepha Hale. Normally only my immediate family gets to hear this, but I figured this year, I'd share it with the blog.

Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) is one of the very cool forgotten 19th c. women I studied back in the day, when I studied 19th c. women (I probably will study them again, but as you all know my heart is currently with zines). Hale is responsible for Thanksgiving being a national holiday. As editor of Godey's Lady's Book, hands down the most popular magazine of its time, she was incredibly influential nationally, and she used her influence to argue for things like equal education for women, high-quality American literature, and Thanksgiving.

The United States only had one national holiday at that time: July 4. A lot of people celebrated Thanksgiving, but there wasn't a set day for it, and it wasn't nationally recognized. She lobbied the Presidents for 25 years about this issue, and finally Lincoln complied in 1863. She'd been saying for years that an additional holiday would help bring the country together, and during the Civil War Lincoln saw the symbolic significance of this.

So as you enjoy your day off, eat your turkey or to-furkey, and think about the native people whose land the Puritans stole, raise a glass in honor of Sarah Josepha Hale, who should be a national celebrity on Thanksgiving.


Hambone Brothers

These are two of my favorite Hee Haw performers doing what's known as "eefing and hamboning." Biffle made reference to this phenomenon awhile back on this blog--he's known about effing and hamboning for a while, but I'm kind of an eefing-hamboning newbie. I learned about this particular art form last year when I bought Biffle the boxed set of Hee Haw DVDs.

Biffle assures me that this is a legitimate folk art performance. I think it's incredibly disturbing and hysterical. It's the abject: I'm horrified, and I can't turn away.

There must be more important things going on right now for us to blog about (like the fact that Eliza just visited, Thanksgiving is coming up, racism continues to run rampant in the state that Biffle has dubbed "the anus of the Confederacy"), but all I've got for you today is eefing and hamboning.


Orange report

Because his computer has crashed yet again, Biffle asked me to post today's Orange Report.


Something Just Felt Terribly Wrong About It....

I was raised a bourgeois wannabe, without any ammunition and no real chance of getting any. My daddy, although a man of really garish taste, still had a good eye for "quality" and cursed me with it early on. I appreciate a well-tailored suit. I know what a salad fork is. I can be...well, maybe with a little refresher course...be quite gracious in that trivial, shallow sort of way. But, listen: i was not prepared for the gig i played the other night.

It was a political fundraiser. And a pretty baddass one at that. And this wasn't even 1st string. This wasn't even 2nd or 3rd sting, really. The first string kicked everything off two weeks ago when the president and vice president made a simultaneous showing there. All we got was a bunch of tired old senators and representatives, but i still recognized a lot of names. Sort of. (Before i knew who we were playing for, Roy Blount of "missourah" introduced himself to me, and i said "the author?")

This fundraiser was held at a pretty exclusive resort on an island around here. You have to pay to get there. There are several guard shacks. Here's the deal (and the reason i mention the bourgeois thang): If i had been able to climb to where my parents wanted me to climb--and i had stayed politiclly where they wanted me to stay--this thing would have absolutly impressed the gee-willikers bejeezus outta me. There is nothing at this resort--and i do. mean. nothing.--that is not nicer than anything i have ever owned in my life. The rug in the entrace hall of the resort? Nicer. The landscaping? Oh, way nicer. The telephones? Nicer. Even the paper towels in the bathroom, embossed with the name of the place, were nicer than any paper towel i've ever had. Hell, i didn't even know they make paper towels like this. I took several just for the hell of it. I plan to try and dry off with one after a shower just to see if i can.

Anyway, i could get into the fact that there was a mixture of the new rich and the old rich at this thing. (I know this because one over-dressed woman with bad plastic surgery ignored me while a youngish couple in jeans volunteered how much they loved the music and appreciated us being there.) But that's not really the point here.

The point is that this former agricultural, slave-occupied island cum newly private, million dollar homed island--with its several golf courses, it's fee to even enter, it's private security force--is just too much wealth. The resort itself, with all that nice stuff, and with the party i played at being hosted on a luxurious putting-green quality lawn the size of most housing projects, this resort with well-mannered white people as the help and the guests dining on a damn pig with an apple in its mouth as the ocean's waves softly broke on the nearby shore....well it all just made me sick.

This is how our national policy gets made. And the whole scene reminded me of nothing more than what i might have found at Versailles before the revolution.


Me and my bad attitude

I just got out of my panel at a conference in Philadelphia. I presented part of my chapter-in-progress, "Why Zines Matter: The Workings of Visual and Material Culture in Grrrl Zines." I approached this conference the way you're supposed to: I brought something that I'm still working through, that I have questions on. I wanted feedback--is this approach valid? What are the theoretical weak spots?

Two people attended our session. Two. One of them didn't show up until after I presented. I got one question.

The good attitude part of my brain says, "Now, now--the work you did getting ready for the conference is still useful for your book. And think of all the interesting things you've learned from other panels this weekend! And isn't Philadelphia a beautiful city? And hasn't it been nice to be in a hotel room, and to have so much quiet time to think and feel like an academic."

That good attitude voice is annoying as hell. Of course all that is true, but it feels a bit pointless to have come all the way here and have gotten no useful feedback about my book, which was the main reason for coming.

It's funny--as a graduate student, I would have been relieved at the poor attendance. I would have felt like, "Hey, I got all the credit for presenting at a conference, but it wasn't scary! No questions that I don't know the answers to! Let's go have dinner!" So I guess it's good that I can see that I've progressed in my career. I want hard questions. I want academic discourse! I want theoretical rigor!


Two Fer One

Here's a post i wrote a few days before our latest election--the one where 700,000 South Carolinians pushed a button that said they supported America's new penchant for curtailing people's liberty:

I asked my drawing class today if they supported South Carolina'a attempt to define marriage as between one woman and one man. To a person--and without hesitation--they proclaimed they DID NOT support this attempt. Again: 100% of my students believed that marriage should be open to anyone. 100% of them!

You know what this tells me? Although it's difficult to recognize because of this state's current citizens, it just might be that South Carolina has finally done it's children a good deed.

What good deed might this be, you ask?

Well, this new crop of South Carolinians may actually be the first who have the good fortune to define themselves by what they love, and not what they hate.

(or, to put it another way: It appears they aren't growin' up to be bigoted, halloween-hatin', women-in-their-placin', hypocritical, war-mongerin', gay bashin', klan-lovin' freaks.)

The good news is that 200,000 South Carolinians felt the other way. That's a lot of folks. Anyway--Man, my heart goes out to those who seem to think that somebody doing something they don't like, or letting people do something they disagree with ruins their own good time. The kind of folks who only seem to know themselves through what they are opposed to. I've spent quite a bit of my life there and know now how much it sucks to be like that...i guess that's why i chose to not post this the other day--i just didn't want to be all angry and stuff. Anyway, God bless all our small little hearts.

Onto other things (mostly bragging): I have a long-term goal: i want to try and finish a very small tri-athlon. Like a 5k run/1k swim/10k bike. And i do mean long term: like maybe three years from now. But toward this goal I try and eat better, lay off at least some of the sugar, and i go exercise just about every morning.

My routine varies quite a bit, but i've figured out that i want to try and run long, slow distances on sundays. The rest of the week is an increasing intensity of a particular set of (currently all land-based) exercises. More or less, each weekday (with a skip in there if i want to), i go up to the local park and run three miles, do 20 pull-ups, 40 leg lifts, 40 inclined pushups, jump over a waist high bar 40 times, and walk fowards and backwards on a balance beam 6 times. (all the pullin' and pushin' and jumpin' is interspersed evenly over the last two miles.)

Well, this morning i reached a particular milestone. Each friday (what i've starting calling "hard Fridays") i take a shot at doing all that crap in less than thirty minutes. This morning i did it in 31 minutes and a few seconds, which is close enough for me. Whoohoo!


Vote NO on homophobia

Like folks in eight other states (including our beloved Tennessee), South Carolinians will be voting Nov. 7 on a homophobia amendment, which will be Amendment 1 on our ballot. You can read the full text here. This amendment will change the SC Constitution to say that the only valid family unit in South Carolina is one man married to one woman, and no other family unit of any kind will be recognized in any way.

This amendment is so broad that it will harm single parents, common law marriages, etc. But the obvious real targets of this amendment are same sex couples.

When I was a kid, I remember learning about the Civil Rights movement and thinking about all the folks who worked for it, as well as the folks who opposed it. I remember wondering which side I would have been on, if I'd been alive at the time. Of course we all want to think that we'd be on the side of the Civil Rights activists rather than being among the angry faces in those photos of white mobs, but I recognized that the side of justice isn't necessarily as clear when you're in the moment as it is in hindsight. And I remember hoping, hoping, that I would know which side to be on if any issue like that emerged in my own lifetime.

Well, LGBT rights is that issue. This is one of the most important civil rights issues of the early 21st century. History will look back on what we do now--school kids will say, "What was wrong with those people? Why did they think that two women marrying would hurt heterosexual marriages? That doesn't even make sense."

Denying full civil (and human) rights to gays and lesbians is irrational and indefensible. It's bigotry, no matter what kinds of justifications the bigots use to try to pretty it up. I don't know if Amendment 1 will pass in South Carolina, but I know that the tide is turning on this issue, and the bigots will eventually be proved wrong. As MLK said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." I just hope it doesn't have to be too long, because people are being harmed every day that our country doesn't provide equal protection under the law.

You can read an interview with some of the activists working against the amendment that I wrote up for the Women's and Gender Studies magazine.

just taking up space