March 2008 Archives

Feminists on Film


Pagan Moon Stuff


Happy Easter, I guess. Not that I much care about the resurrection of Jesus these days, and I can't say I ever much believed in it, really. Easter just seemed such a second-rate holiday. It's supposed to be the holiest day in the Christian calendar, but it never felt convincing: Thanksgiving and Christmas were obviously so much more important, even though Thanksgiving was supposed to be secular and national rather than religious.

There were two things I always liked about Easter: getting a pretty new spring dress, and the way it moved around. Ever wonder how Easter is reckoned? Well, I learned long ago in a class on medieval literature. Easter follows the lunar rather than the date calendar, because people went on pilgrimage at Easter time, and they needed light to travel by, and the sun and the full moon were really the only things that provided much light long about the sixth century. So Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox--the vernal equinox bit being important because Easter supplanted all sorts of pagan spring festivals--hence the bunnies and eggs and such.

Easter this year is about as early as it can be. The equinox was Thursday; the full moon was Friday. The earliest it could possibly be is the equinox itself, if that were also a full moon falling on a Sunday.

On my mission I went to church one Sunday morning in March and wished the elders "Happy Easter," because it was Easter. They told me it wasn't Easter, couldn't be Easter, because Easter was always the first Sunday in April. I explained about the equinox-full moon thing, adding, "Go home and ask your families when Easter is this year. They'll tell you I'm right," but the elders informed me--foolish, misinformed girl that I was--that there was no way determining the date of a holiday could be so silly or arbitrary. They were ADAMANT, and of course I had no evidence to support my claim, because there wasn't a single mention of Easter in any of the lessons or talks that day. The country as a whole didn't pay attention to Easter (and why should a non-Christian country bother with it?) and no one but me cared about observing the progress of the calendar, so no one but me knew it was Easter--even though, as I say, it was supposed to be our holiest day, the day on which the miracle that justified our entire religion occurred, some two thousand years before.

Yeah. If I ever forget why I found my mission frustrating or why I gave up on Christianity, thinking about that always helps me remember.

Anyway, if you celebrate and enjoy the holiday, I hope it rocks for you.

JS on "the Speech"


In case you didn't see it:

For the record, Obama's my man. I am praying he wins the nomination.... And lately I've been thinking about what else I can do besides requesting that vague powers somewhere in the universe help us put the right person in the White House, particularly as Pennsylvania has one of the few remaining primaries. So when someone from the Obama campaign called me yesterday and asked me for a donation, I gave it, and asked for a volunteer packet as well.

The First Day of Spring Where I Live


Looks like this:


So if you live someplace where it's already green and bright; if you've already spotted those early harbingers of spring, crocuses, dainty but brave; if you've already seen a clump of sunny daffodils; if you've already been caught by the seductive, sweet scent of hyacinths (one of my very favorite flowers, of spring or any season); if you're already noticing the prim, proper appearance of tulips, whose petals remain close about their nectar, modest and protective no matter how bright their exteriors until they suddenly become frowzy and blowzy when summer's almost here; if you're already living with all that, well, all I can say right now is

Bite Me.

Stupidest Flesh Wound Ever


Yesterday I was fiddling with something in a cabinet under the counter and I stood up a little too quickly and a little too close to the counter top and scraped the skin off the bridge of my nose. It bled--copiously, profusely, excessively. I have to wear a band-aid across my nose, and it looks really dumb. It also feels unpleasant--it's much worse to have a sticky piece of plastic on your face than on, say, your finger or elbow.

And when, after trying to stop the bleeding, I went back to the kitchen and finished what I'd been doing, I found the bit of skin still clinging to the counter top.

In other words, yuckiness abounds.

Arguably Giants

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Earlier this month I wrote about my interest in trying voice-recognition software. I decided I might as well go ahead and buy the program--it wasn’t that expensive, and I thought it might be helpful. It arrived last week, and having spent some time using it, I’ve decided, typing is better.

I admit I had some fallacious ideas about what using voice recognition software would be like: I thought I could roam around my house and speak my random thoughts aloud and the words I’d spoken would appear, almost like magic, on my computer screen. No such luck! I have to sit down at my computer and wear this annoying little head-set microphone thing that’s jacked into my computer, and then I have to speak VERY SLOWLY AND E-NUN-CI-ATE VER-Y CARE-FUL-LY or the program mishears half of what I say.

I’m a really fast typist--in the neighborhood of 80 or 90 words a minute--and I also like to type. I like how it feels and I like seeing words appear on a page and I like the way it helps me think as I compose. So this program is beyond useless in helping me compose or draft new material--it actually slows me down. However, it is useful if I have to transcribe a long passage of text I can read aloud, provided I am willing, once again, to speak SLOWLY AND CLEARLY--that is about as fast and easier on my wrists than propping the book open and trying to get everything right without once glancing at my screen. Still, the program makes mistakes. Here’s a passage I had to transcribed today, from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen:

Last week was a pretty funky week weather-wise here in Northwest PA. It ended with the blizzard that dumped two feet of snow on us, but it began with abnormally warm temperatures--it was 65F on Monday, March 3, well over 20 degrees above average.

And then on Tuesday, March 4, we had an ice storm. It started raining in the afternoon, and then temperatures dropped sharply, and precipitation continued to fall, not as snow, but as rain, which froze when it hit just about any surface--in particular, roads and sidewalks. It's really hard to control a vehicle when you're driving over a surface entirely coated with an inch of slightly bumpy but still very slick ice, which is why ice storms can be one thing that entirely shuts down an entire city used to cold temperatures--in Iowa City, when there were ice storms, buses and so forth quit running and people did their best to stay home. Here, apparently, they just called out the cops and the ambulances to deal with all the people who ended up in traffic accidents because schools and businesses didn't shut down.

Anyway, I am not writing to complain about the ice storm--I'm writing to praise it, or at least to tell you how astonishingly beautiful and strange it made everything. And I'm not asking you to take my word for it; I'm going to include photos.

ONN: TV Nudity OK If It's Who?


Here's a funky little thing from The Onion News Network that freaks me out a bit:

FCC Okays Nudity On TV If It�s Alyson Hannigan

I saw this a few days ago but haven't posted it sooner because I needed a while to think about it. Obviously it's a joke 'cause it's from the Onion, but is part of the joke that Alyson Hannigan isn't all that sexy? I'm honestly confused, and I honestly need help understanding this, 'cause it's sorta relevant for a paper I have to write.

As longtime readers of my blog will know, I do scholarly work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Alyson Hannigan played Willow for seven years, and part of Willow's character was that, at least initially, she WASN'T sexy--she was the wallflower character. But does she become truly sexy and do I fail to see that about her because I am blinded by her original characterization? I honestly think she's the least sexy character on the show, even after she hooks up with Tara--I think Tara is much hotter.

I haven't stopped to think about whether or not I find the women of Buffy all that hot--too fixated on Spike, I admit--but now that I consider the matter, I think there are lots of female hotties on Buffy, but Willow really isn't one of them. I think Joyce is hotter than Willow. I think Jenny Calendar is hotter. I think Halfrek is hotter. I might even think Dawn is hotter, though her sexuality is so rarely addressed that I find it inappropriate to consider the matter. And there's no question for me as to who's the hottest woman on Buffy: it's Anya.

But is Alyson Hannigan hot in ways that Willow (regular Willow, not vamp Willow) isn't? I admit I didn't think she was hot as Trina Echols on Veronica Mars, and I didn't watch enough of How I Met Your Mother to decide if she was hot on that.

I know, I know; it's a goofy thing to worry about. But as I say it's relevant for a paper I'm writing so I welcome opinions from any and all Buffy fans who might come across this.

Thanks to the media news digest I get every morning, I was able to spend several hours following the links detailing the sordid history of How Glamour Fired Nasty Male Blogger after its readers demanded the magazine do so. Turns out some self-proclaimed narcissistic asshole had a blogging gig at Glamour, which he used as a forum for writing about (among other things) running out on a woman after she made dinner for him because he assumed that some sort of small sore on her lip meant she had herpes, and how he then went to a Foo Fighters concert with her a week later, only to use it as an opportunity to feel up some other chick, and how being SUCH a jerk has been really emotionally HARD on him, especially since he forgot to the get the phone number of the anonymous chick at the concert.

The bile rose in my throat as I read about the events from the perspective of the woman who actually bought this creep a ticket to the concert. I'm glad to say that I've never dated anyone this awful, though I was sickened to realize that some of what the guy said echoed lines I heard from my evil ex Adam.... No. Won't go there. It's in the past. Anyway, after all his asshole-ry, this guy has the nerve to claim he's still the wronged one, that he would sue this crazy bitch, except she's crazy--really crazy, and he's afraid of her and for her--if he took legal action, she might hurt someone--even herself, and that would make him sad, because he's both an asshole and a guy with a big heart! As for the other details, well, Jezebel knows and analyzes the whole situation well enough that I don't feel obligated to attempt it myself.

What I really want to know is this: how did such an obvious douchebag and really crappy writer get this gig in the first place? OK, I discovered that part of it is that he used to screw the woman who started the blog at Glamour--it still has her name in the address. But didn't any of the editors read this guy's stuff? Didn't they pay attention to both the misogynist content and the dreadful prose? He treats women like shit, and then writes shitty little entries detailing it all. And for this he got paid? Like, not just with hair care products or a year's supply of Turtle Wax, but with real money, that stuff you can use to buy toilet paper, dog food, hot dog buns, bleach and a place to live?

It's all further proof that most fashion magazines are written and published by people who hate women and consider them stupid. If you don't believe me, check out Jezebel's wonderful column Cover Lies, which decodes the hyped-up teasers on the covers of magazines into the sorry, pathetic messages they really are.

Not Unpleasant, But Still Not Attractive

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It turns out that certain psychological states are simply unavailable to me when I positively REEK of Bengay, the first being any sort of inclination to engage in social interaction, even interaction via an unscented forum like the web. Another is the belief that I can write anything worth reading. No, when my skin and my clothes smell so strongly of Bengay that my cat won’t come near me, all I really want to do is lie down.

The smell of Bengay is weird, right? Most people will agree with me on that. And I might be the only one who feels this way, but I don’t find the smell unpleasant--I don’t think it out and out stinks--but I also don’t find it attractive. And it’s not just because I know it’s medicine often marketed to old people; it’s because it’s such a strong smell, from a substance that really freakin' HURTS if you get it near any mucus membranes, and because it makes you want to lie down. Seriously: I put it on, and I want to lie down. I suspect there’s some real physiological process going on there; something about how it increases blood flow, and makes your skin feel sensations ranging from mild tingling to out-and-out burning, and makes your muscles soften a little, and assaults your nostrils and tear ducts. I don’t know. I tried to find out what the side-effects of Bengay are, if overwhelming albeit short-term fatigue is one of them, but an entire series of google searches only turned up this bizarre story about a teen athlete who died from a Bengay overdose.


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