What a Weekend!


Our weekend started on Friday, when we went into San Francisco to attend an Ivy League mixer at a club bordering North Beach. We found pretty good parking on a quiet street just three blocks away, and we set off looking for a place to have dinner. There was a fancy looking restaurant right on our street, Myth, and since I was hungry enough that the golden arches were starting to look pretty good, and Ted says no WAY he’s driving into San Francisco and eating THAT crap, we decided to see if we could get a table. Well, all of their tables were booked, but they had room at the bar, where they also serve the full menu. Oh.My.God. So glad we stopped there, rather than the golden arches. Ted ordered the braised octopus, and I ordered the seared marscapone and potato gnocchi with peas, panchetta, and a Parmesan butter sauce. Quite easily the best gnocchi I’ve ever had, and I love gnocchi. Ted’s octopus was mighty tasty, too. We then shared a New York Strip, which came with a huge pile of thin and crispy French fries. They were perfectly prepared and tres yummy. We finished the meal off with dessert of a brownie topped with a peanut butter mousse, served with homemade cracker jacks and a shot of milk. The perfect dessert for us to share, because Ted LOVED the brownie/mousse combo, while I enjoyed the cracker jacks and milk. Yum. The bartender was a wonderful server, too. Loved her. Maybe mostly because she brought us yummy food and drinks when we were SO hungry, but she was also very friendly and efficient, which is a good thing. (sidebar…if we ever win the lotto, I would love to have the celebratory dinner at this restaurant…they had the coolest little banquet rooms, separated from the main dining room by green raw silk curtains. SO elegant!) We then went to the mixer, which was VERY loud, and full of young business school graduates. Yawn. But who knows who you will meet at these things, so it’s worth it to try, right? After that, wandering back to our car, still fat and sassy from our lovely dinner, who should Ted spy next to the car in front of us but a screenwriter who taught a class he was in at San Francisco State way back in 1988. Wow. So we stopped to say hello, and the man was mighty pleased at being recognized on the street, and there was a camerman filming a documentary about said filmmaker, so we’re in the documentary footage…though we’ll probably end up on the cutting room floor. ;)

DSCF1787
Saturday, Ted and Maya took on the huge task of preparing our home to be painted. They moved furniture, primed Maya’s room (It was bubble gum pink, and is now white), purchased paint and supplies, and many other sundry details that had them busy from probably 11:00 until 8:00 that night. Meanwhile, Cherry and I went to a bridal shower, where we got to meet the gorgeous Tracy from the Starshine Report. (I clearly didn’t take enough pictures, as this is the only one I have of all three of us, and it’s blurry…sorry. Hello Melissa, you can kind of see my hair, which isn’t nearly as cool as yours…dang it.) Cherry and I agreed that Tracy has a warm, welcoming family, and we had a wonderful time. If you ever have the chance to get together with Tracy, I highly recommend it. She is exactly how she represents herself on her blog – she represents herself so honestly, that she is just how she seems – funny, warm, happy, and lovely. We had such a nice time meeting her, and her lovely family as well. Saturday evening, while Ted and Maya continued to work prepping the house, I fulfilled a prior commitment and attended a fund raiser auction for Maya’s school.

Sunday was painting day, and we had a ‘painting party’ at our place. Wow, what a lot of work THAT was! We were fortunate that so many friends and family came to help us, so that a job that would have easily taken s at least a week was completed in about 6 hours. HUGE thanks to Laluna, Big Sis, Chee, Chee’s friend Arielle, Cherry, Eric, Ted’s uncle, aunt, and cousin, plus our lovely neighbor, Tracy. Now our little condo looks so bright at fresh, and we are pretty much worn out. What we wouldn’t give for a three day weekend! Alas, here we are, it’s Monday. Hope it’s a good one for you.

Oh, by the way…for those of you who signed up for the interview meme...I haven’t forgotten you…I’ve just been swamped. Hopefully I’ll have the questions out to you today or tomorrow. :)

Because it’s Friday, and I got nuthin…

It’s Friday…I cut my hair kinda short, today is “spring pictures” at school, Sunday we’re painting our house, Emma Bovary is, sadly, dead, and I missed three days of work this week due to Jury Duty (guilty as charged, your honor), so not much time to type type anything for you. So you get one of these, as your reward for stopping by. Happy Friday!

You Are a Hot Fudge Sundae

Classic, simple, and divine.
Why mess with perfection?

What Kind of Sundae Are You?

Birthday Meme

I thought of saving this until my birthday, but with all of the spring cleaning and a third day of jury duty upon me (Py has Jury duty today too!  What are the chances?) and work craziness around here, it’s the perfect time to pull a few memes out and use them, right? So here we go.

1. Go to Wikipedia and type in your birth date only -without the year.

December 31st

2. List 3 events that occurred that day:

1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time.
1946 – President Harry Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II.
1997 – Quaker Oats settles a lawsuit involving the immoral use of child subjects in radioactivity experiments circa 1945-1956.

3. List 2 important birthdays:

1869 – Henri Matisse, French painter (d. 1954)
1942 – Andy Summers, British guitarist (The Police)

4. List 1 death:

1995- Last Calivin and Hobbes strip published “…let’s go exploring”

5. List a holiday or observance:

Hogmanay in Scotland (That’s just the Scottish way of saying New Year’s Eve, but just LOOKING at December 31st, you know it’s NYE, so I thought I’d throw you a curve ball.)

So far I’ve seen this meme on Ally Bean’s site, and Hello Melissa! so far. Plus, I already did it on Maya’s birthday last month. If you want us to see it on your blog, post away, and let me know! Fun!

Feminine Mistake?

Guess who has Jury Duty?  That’s right, I’m juror #2 today, on what is supposed to be a very quick trial, so hopefully I’ll be back to “real life” tomorrow.

Yesterday morning was spent in the “Jury Room”, where you go to sign in and wait to see if you’ll be called to meet with the judge and lawyers.  (I’ve never gotten farther than this room before, so I’m kind of excited to be on an actual jury today!).  The Jury Room is a good place to catch up on your newspaper reading, try to think of interesting ‘interview questions’ for fellow bloggers (I’m working on it…), and catch up with Madame Bovary.  So there I was, hanging with Emma, and I overheard a conversation between two women.  Two middle class, stay at home moms, talking home improvements and real estate.  From the difference between the price of 53 acres in upstate New York and here, the conversation drifted to stay-at-home-mommying.  One of the women talked about how she always intended to go back to work when her kids got to a certain age, about how she loved her job, but the realities of having children made it impossible.  “Homework, getting dinner on the table, after school activities” – she couldn’t see doing all of this while having a job that took her away from the home.

This reminded me of an article in The New Yorker, The Wives of Others, which is a book review of The Feminine Mistake, by Leslie Bennetts.  Do you remember the New York Times article in the autumn of 2005, where the Ivy League women claimed that they didn’t want to try to ‘have it all’ like their boomer mothers had, and were looking for husbands to support them?  Well, Ms. Bennetts is horrified, though not for the same reason that Betty Friedan wrote about in The Feminine Mystique.  Friedan wrote that “If women do not put forth, finally, that effort to become all that they have it in them to become, they will forfeit their own humanity.”  Ms. Bennetts isn’t so much worried about the humanity of women as the financial well being of women.  Where will women be, she argues, should they remove themselves from the workforce for 5, 10, 15 years to raise children, and then suffer from a divorce or the death of their spouse.  She argues (according to the New Yorker article, I haven’t read the book) that women need to be able to support themselves, should their support system fail.

This hit home to me, because when my Grandfather died, my then 27-year old Grandmother was left with two young children to support, and only a High School education and a glass ceiling so low you had to crawl on hands and knees.  She had to put my mother in a convent, and my uncle in foster care, so that she could work (child care clearly wasn’t what it is today).  She only got her children back when she remarried, and again had a man to support the family.

From this, you might assume that I agree with Ms. Bennetts that to remove one’s self from the work force is placing one’s family at risk.  And truth be told, it is.  And yet…and yet, as the New Yorker article stresses, these moms that Bennetts interviewed are not unhappy, depressed women who are being stifled and forced to stay home because of their gender.  These are women who are choosing to stay home, in greater and greater numbers, because they find it more fulfilling than the jobs they held, and because they prefer to stay home with their children rather than to pay someone else to do it.  And they are generally educated women, who have a much better chance of getting a decent job than my grandmother did in the late 40s.  Perhaps not as good of a job as they would have had if they stayed in the workplace, but still, decent enough to pay the bills.

Which brings my wandering mind to another issue…the issue of money.  If it’s stifling and unfulfilling to be at home with your child, and you will perhaps lose your humanity by doing so, why is it more fulfilling for your nanny?  Or do we not care about her humanity?  And also, what of the families who cannot afford to live off of one income?  These articles talk as though feminism is carried on the backs of these women with a choice, when actually, it is a burden and a glory carried equally by us all.  By the female CEOs, the lawyers and doctors, the computer techs and grocery clerks, the teachers and nannys, the stay at home moms…hell, even the rarest of all, the stay at home wife, who has no children at all.  We are all the face of feminism, we are all of us women.  We should all be in this together.

And yet, when I overheard those two women say that they had intended to go back to work, but it was impossible for them, I’ll admit, I bristled.  Because it’s not impossible.  It’s a choice.  I do it.  Women do it every day.  Some because they love their jobs and would not feel fulfilled at home.  Some because they need the money.  Some for a combination of reasons.  These women have chosen to help the kids with the homework, drive them to sports practice and club meetings, cook all of the meals, and clean the house.  I do not mean to discount that choice, because it is a valuable one.  But it’s not impossible.  People do it every day, and it doesn’t have to even be hard.  The rest of the family has to chip in more, the kids might not have to do as many activities, might have to take on a share of the housework, as would the husband, but honestly, I suspect that a household where everyone contributes is a happier one anyway.  It’s possible.

OK, enough rambling.  Time to get ready for jury duty…

Interview Meme…

Interview

Here’s a complicated kind of meme that I got from Ms. Mamma. It’s an interview, where she emailed me the questions, and now I have to answer them. What a lot of work, coming up with different questions for each person! WOW!

1. You excel at so many things-writing, cooking, parenting. What is your greatest unrealized passion or what would you be doing now if you could pick anything you wanted? You have the knowledge, funds and other resources at your fingertips and the support of your family.

I’m blushing at the compliment at the beginning there…whew. OK, if I could pick anything in the world to do, and have the ability to do it? I’m going to say I would become a painter. I have no talent in this realm at all, but in my fantasy world, I would make beautiful works of art, some tranquil, some edgy, and people would clamor to have them on their walls. I might also be pretty darned good at the piano, though again, I don’t know how to play, so it’s a fantasy land I’m living in. Just skills that I truly admire, I guess.

2.You can’t believe it(ha ha), but you’ve been invited to Wisconsin for a free all expense paid vacation hosted by me, MsMamma. Would you A.) go to a Packer Game at Lambeau Field B.) take a whirlwind tour of the award winning artisan dairies and a few winerys C.) Visit the Milwaukee Public Art Museum designed by Santiago Calatrava?

Oh, the Public Art Museum, no question. I might have to request a dairy or two on the way there or back, since Wisconsin is known for their cheese, but honestly we did that in Holland many years ago, and, um, yawn.

3. We all know the pangs of being a woman. Cramps can be devastating. Imagine you got hit by a car and could be saved only by a special operation. The operation would give you a normal, happy life, but would unfortunately cause you fifteen minutes of terrible, stabbing pain every morning when you awoke and right before you go to bed. Would you want to have the operation?

15 minutes of pain every morning and every night? No problem. Hell, I gave birth with no drugs, I could handle that no problem! Nagging pain all day, that debilitated me, that might be another matter altogether.

4. You’re making a special meal for Maya the night before she goes away to college. What do you make?

That’s easy…crispy chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. Why? Because it’s her favorite meal ever. The recipe for crispy chicken? It’s on the back of the box of Ranch Dressing mix. Mmmm. Of course, if her tastes change before then, or if she goes back to being a vegetarian, we’ll have to change things, but as is, that’s the dinner. Oh, and we have a pretty groovy bottle of 1996 Maya put away…we might pull that out, to go with the chicken.

5. What is your favorite beauty product of all time and why?

Hairspray. I’m sorry, it’s so boring and suburban, but my hair is naturally just flat flat flat. I think I could have had an altogether different high school experience had I just known about Shaper Hairspray back then. (OK, a different high school experience based on my hair? Doubtful…but still, I live on the stuff!)
Here are the rules, if you would like to be interviewed:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Happy Birthday Mom!

mom

(This is my mom looking a lot like Shirley Temple…)

Today is my wonderful mom’s birthday! I wrote a post to her last year that pretty much summed up what I would say today…and if I trusted you to go to the old post and read it, I would leave it at that.  But knowing how lazy I am about clicking other people’s links, instead, I’ll paste it into this post, and you can read about my amazing mom:

Today is my Mom’s birthday.  You may think you have a good mom, but my mom will trump her in almost any category – and since today is her birthday, we’ll just take out the “almost” and say, Any Category.  She rocks.  She was a single mom, who somehow managed to take care of two young children, go to school (Berkeley), and work to support us. She moved us up to Alaska when she was but 27 years old, still single, living out in the woods on a homestead with no running water and no telephone. She worked so hard to get us whatever we needed when we were growing up – I’m not talking about the popular jeans, the fancy shoes, that kind of thing. I’m talking about how my brother hated school, and she did everything she could think of to make school enjoyable for him.   She put us in a fun yet fruity private school, she home schooled us, she tried everything possible.  She taught us at a young age to think for ourselves. We had a clothing allowance, so that we REALLY understood the cost of those fancy jeans – that in order to have one pair of fancy jeans, we had to give up 4 other pairs of pants and a few tops in addition.   She taught us to cook, and we had to cook two nights a week. That included planning the meal, and figuring out what we needed for ingredients, all of that. When we moved out, we had SOME idea of the value of money, and we knew how to cook. At least a few things.

She taught us the value of education, that learning is more important than grades. At my high school, we had the honors classes and the regular classes – I was smart enough that the regular classes were boring, but the honors classes were a bit too hard. Most parents would have encouraged me to take the regular classes, so I could have a higher GPA. She encouraged me to take the classes that challenged me, to do what I wanted to do. Had I wanted to take the easier classes, she would have praised me for being practical. Because I stayed in the harder classes, she praised me for wanting to learn. She always supported us in everything we did (except my brother’s brief stint in the army, and if he had been happy there, if it handn’t been the WORST place on earth for him, she would have supported him there, too.) There was never a day in my life when I questioned that she approved of me, approved of my (almost) every move, that she loved us unconditionally.

She taught us a lot about raising kids. She taught us by example. When we would hit, she would say,  “People are not for hitting”. We were not spanked, we were not sent to time out, we were not berated or made to feel ashamed for who we were. We were definitely disciplined. We were taught “Logical Consequences” (sometimes I would have preferred a spanking, because it would have been OVER). She taught us so many things about how to live and love your family, to support each other and be kind to each other.

She has lived a life to be proud of – a life where she hasn’t exactly been successful in terms of money, but she has been successful in so many other areas. She has worked for (still does) organizations that work to help children, from her early days teaching Montessori School, to teaching parenting classes, working to prevent child abuse, and currently, working to reduce teen alcoholism. She is a kind, giving, wonderful person. I am so proud of her. I love her. I could have said so much more, but there are only 24 hours in a day, and I wouldn’t really know where to stop.  So all I will say is, my Mom rocks. Best. Mom. Ever. (She still drives me nuts sometimes, but that’s part of the job description).

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday!

In other birthdays, we have William Shakespeare, Shirley Temple, Michael Moore, Roy Orbison, and many others.  (Maya says that’s fitting because she looks like Shirley Temple and writes like Shakespeare…but don’t tell my mom, she’ll get a HUGE head if she hears that her granddaughter thinks she writes like Shakespeare…)  When I was a little girl, I LOVED watching Shirley Temple movies on channel 44, every Sunday morning at 10:30. That rocked.  I would walk to my friend/sister’s house (oh, another complicated family story, sigh) and make pancakes for the two of us, and we would watch Shirley Temple together.  I was a huge fan, and the fact that her birthday was the same as my mom’s was just gravy.  Here, you can see one of her most famous dances, with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, which created quite the stir back in the day, because, you know…she’s a white girl, and he’s a black man, and they’re dancing TOGETHER!…he even holds her HAND! (Never mind that he’s 50 years older than she is…whatever.) (Wikipedia says they had to edit out the hand holding in Southern States) , and in honor of my mom, and Shirley, you may enjoy it too. :) Don’t they make it look easy?

YouTube Preview Image

And lastly, as my mom is a very kind, giving person, here is a fitting quote, from none other than William Shakespeare.

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

–From Merchant of Venice (IV, I, (184-186)

And really truly lastly, today is also my Great Aunt Flo’s birthday…my mom wrote a wonderful post for her today. :) Happy Birthday, Aunt Flo!

Sunday Recipes

It’s been quite awhile since I posted a recipe around here, and by posting these, I’m clearly cheating, because I saw them over on Fancy Toast last week. But I don’t know how many of my loyal readers also go look at her hilarious (and gorgeous) food blog, and I do want you to try these yummy recipes. If you peek at her site, you’ll see that she wrote the post tongue in cheek, as though she were cooking parrots rather than chicken. She has some mighty loud and annoying wild parakeets in her neighborhood, and is hoping to scare them off with dangerous sounding recipes. I totally understand, having had plenty of homicidal thoughts about a certain blue jay last spring. So, without further ado, here are Fancy Toast’s yummy recipes, in which I am substituting much more affordable chicken for the parrot she suggests.  The pictures are mine, hers are far better.  (She also has a third recipe, but the local Safeway doesn’t have red curry paste, so I skipped it.)

Roasted Chicken with Orange Blossom Honey
~adapted from Charlie Trotter by Fancy Toast
Ingredients:
1 cup orange blossom honey
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 3-4 pound chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

The honey glaze creates a deliciously crispy skin. Even if you don’t eat the skin, prepare it this way, and the meat underneath remains moist and flavorful.

Glaze:
Place honey and stock in small saucepan and whisk over medium heat for 5 minutes, until smooth.

Bird:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place bird in roasting rack in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Generously brush the glaze all over the chicken and roast for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear (if using smaller birds, less time will be needed). Brush on additional glaze every 15 minutes during the roasting. Remove from oven, let rest for 10 minutes, then carve.

J’s note…mine didn’t brown as much as I would have liked, and I was afraid that if I left it in too long, the breast meat would dry out…so I put it under the broiler for a few minutes, and watched it closely…worked like a charm. :)

Chicken with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
~Fancy Toast original recipe

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup white wine

1 pound chicken tenders (I used chicken thighs, because that’s what we had in the freezer)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 oz. jar artichokes (I used marinated)
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper the chicken tenders on each side.
In a Dutch Oven or a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Cook the chicken until just browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate.
Add the shallots to the now-empty pan and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the wine and scrape off any browned bits from the bottom.
Return the bird to the pan, along with the artichokes and tomatoes.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the bird is cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm. If the sauce is too thin, increase the heat until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
Spoon sauce and vegetables over the bird. Sprinkle with parsley.

J’s note – I wasn’t sure whether to use the marinade from the artichokes in the sauce or not, so I did.  I thought it was a bit overpowering, but Ted liked it a lot, and said he thought it gave the dish a lot of flavor. Next time I’ll try it without, and see what difference that makes.

Sexy is…

You Are Independent Sexy

You drive men crazy with your “playing hard to get act”
Except, it’s really not an act at all.
You’re a strong, sexy woman with her own life and interests.
And that makes men even more interested in you!

What Kind of Sexy Girl Are You?

I saw this over at Confessions of a Sophisticated Writer…she’s bad girl sexy, which sounds all cool and stuff, but I guess Independent Sexy isn’t so bad, either. Independent Sexy reminds me of back when I was in the 5th grade, and we had some pretty white trashy neighbors, and the husband thought I was cool because I didn’t take any man-guff (I don’t mean that in a sexy way, because you know, 5th grade…I mean, I liked to try to beat up his son) and that Helen Reddy song was popular…he said that was me. Let’s all sing it now…”I am Womaaaaan……”

Restaurant Meme

For Michelle…

Michelle, over at Scribbit, did a pretty cool Thursday 13 today. She listed what she believes are the 13 best remakes of all time. Her criteria were that they had to be at least as good, if not better than, the original. She had some pretty groovy songs included , like “American Woman”, the Lenny Kravitz version, and one of my all time favorites, the Depeche Mode version of “Route 66″. In the comments, I mentioned that one of the most interesting remakes I’ve heard is the Scissor Sisters version of “Comfortably Numb”. She mentioned that she wasn’t able to listen to enough of the song on the free iTunes taste to know whether she liked it or not. So, Michelle, I’ve got it here for you. For those of you who deeply love “The Wall”, and remember listening to that most depressingly genius album, this one might just make your ears bleed. Imagine Pink Floyd as performed by The Bee Gees, circa 1978., and that’s what you have HERE. (click to listen!)

I must confess, the first time I heard it, I was properly horrified. Ever since, though, it just makes me want to dance cheesy disco moves.

BTW, my beloved Py did a great Mix Six he titled “Cover Me” last November, full of cool remakes/covers, so go check it out and enjoy!

Musical Therapy

I saw this at Black Belt Mama’s blog, and it looked like a twist on a familiar theme. I’m in.

Of all the bands and artists in your collection, of which one do you own the most albums?

I haven’t done any counting, but I’m going to guess the Beatles. Since I’m married, and we live in a common law state, 1/2 of Py’s RUSH albums belong to me…but still, they’re his.

What was the last song you listened to?

Some little ditty Ted made up about dinner last night…

What are your favorite instruments?

I love the guitar and the oboe. Really, I’m too lame to know what they all are. The bassoon is pretty darned cool, too, as is the violin, and then there’s the piano…boy, hard to say, isn’t it?

Who’s your favorite local artist/band?

I’m ashamed to say that I’m not really hip on the whole local scene. I guess I’ll be lame and say Green Day, because they are definitely cool, and they are somewhat local.

What was the last show you attended?

Mmmm…I think it was probably Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris.

What was the greatest show you’ve ever been to?

Day on the Green, 1983. The Police, The Fixx, The Thompson Twins, Madness, and Oingo Boingo. Amazing, amazing, amazing. This guy who kind of liked me took me, and I pretty much ignored him and hung out with my best friend, Rosemary the whole time. I didn’t give him a kiss goodnight, either. Bad J, bad. (On that subject, if there are any guys who read this blog…what’s worse, to take a girl out to a concert or something like that, when you’ve always been friends but not dating, and for her not to kiss you goodnight…or for her to kiss you, when she’s not interested in you, thus kind of leading you on? I never wanted to be a tease…)

BTW, my FIRST concert was also labeled a “Day On The Green”, and I never really thought about it, but it was just a few weeks before this concert. I saw Simon and Garfunkel on that one. Amazing.

What’s the worst band you’ve ever seen in concert?

That’s probably a tie between New Order and the Sugarcubes. I loved them both so much, and they were so frikkin’ BORING. It’s enough to break a girl’s heart.

What band do you love musically but hate the members of?

I don’t know…hate is such a STRONG word…

What is the most musically involved you have ever been?

I’m not really involved…I was in chorus in 6th grade. Does that count?

What show are you looking forward to?

The Police, in June. We have tickets. I’m SO excited.

What is your favorite band shirt?

My brother gave me his ‘Changes One’ Bowie shirt when he outgrew it, and I wore that until it fell apart.

What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?

I don’t know. I’m afraid I would either clam up and be a boring dolt, or they would really disappoint me by being assholes. Or maybe both.

What musician would you like to be in love with you for a day?

Lenny Kravitz. He’s a bad bad man, cheating on Lisa like that, but for one day, that would be great.

What was your last musical “phase” before you wised up?

Probably crappy jazz music, like Michael Franks. Then I heard real jazz, aka, The Scott Hamilton Quintet, and it was all over. I will also admit to being into Belouis Some back in 1986/87. That was a phase that kind of let into Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. Which I liked, so maybe I never really ‘wised up’?

Sabbath or solo Ozzy?

Sabbath, but before Ozzy left. Wow, I’m really old. And dorky.

Did you know that filling out this meme makes you a music geek?

If only it were that easy to be a music geek.

What was the greatest decade for music?

The decibilization of time is so arbitrary…

I will say, no, can’t answer. They all have their highs and lows.

What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

The Moderns, I think. That would be my number one favorite. I also liked Henry and June a lot, though in some ways it’s a lot like The Moderns. For popular music, I loved the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club, although I could easily go three lifetimes without ever hearing “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” again. Blech. Some Kind of Wonderful had some great songs, too, esp. Lick the Tins cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.

Who is your favorite artist who is much better live than on a recording?

My friend conned me into going to see Rod Stewart back in the 80s…he’s fine and all, but I’m not what you’d call a fan. He was great, though, and it was a really fun show. Very energetic, and this was before that crap fest “Forever Young” came out. More the Camouflage era.

Do you have a hidden desire to be a popular musician?

Not even close. There was a time when I thought how cool it would be to be Sam Phillips or Liz Phair, but specifically them, because I was into their music at the time, and I wanted all of my old friends and boyfriends to think how cool I was, and wish they had kept in touch with me. I know, whatever.

Have you ever used drugs to enhance the music experience?

No. There’s always weed floating around at concerts, but I’m not into that, so I ignore it.

What was the last song you heard that gave you a chill?

I have no idea. I will say that I can’t listen to Romeo and Juliet, by Dire Straits, without getting a little chill.

I can’t do the talk so like the talk on the TV
And I can’t do a love song like the way it’s meant to be
I can’t do everything, but I’ll do anything for you
I can’t do anything except be in love with you

And all I do is miss you and the way we used to be
All I do is keep the beat and the bad company
Now all I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme
Juliet, I’d do the stars with you any time

Juliet, when we made love you used to cry
You said I love you like the stars above, I’ll love you till I die
There’s a place for us you know the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong?

Where would you be without music?
Empty. I mean, how could I break out into song at random, inopportune moments and annoy my child if there were no music?

I won’t tag. Play if you like. :)

A Sea of Troubles


I found a new blog the other day (not really new, just new to me), called Majikthise. I was looking through her posts on Gender Issues, and I came across something that had slipped by me a few weeks ago…do any of you watch America’s Next Top Model? I have never seen it, and never plan to, especially after reading about an episode a few weeks ago, in which the models were all posed in photographs as though they had been murdered. WTF? Majikthise linked to an article at Women in Media and News about this episode.

If you want to see the pictures, and read the truly creepy comments from the judges, you can find them here. I’m so disgusted by this whole thing, I don’t really even know what to say. People who find beauty in the violent deaths of scrawny women make no sense to me. Perhaps this is symptomatic of the detachment that we feel toward violence, as expressed so well by Py Korry in his post about the murders in Virginia on Monday. Or perhaps this is symptomatic of the misogyny of our society in general. Perhaps people should be just a bit more disgusted and up in arms about crap like this. Or, perhaps they should just go out and see if they can find snuff films about people in concentration camps. I don’t know. I’m just disgusted.

Then there’s this study from the AP, which I saw first on Broadsheet about women in Mauritania. As twisted as our ideal of stick thin beauty has become in the United States, their ideal of obese beauty is equally sick and twisted. I had never heard of the practice of “gavage” used on people before. Here, from the A/P, via Seattlepi.com:

In Mauritania, to make a girl big and plump, ‘gavage’ – a borrowed French word from the practice of fattening of geese for foie gras – starts early. Obesity has long been the ideal of beauty, signaling a family’s wealth in a land repeatedly wracked by drought.

Mint was 4 when her family began to force her to drink 14 gallons of camel’s milk a day. When she vomited, she was beaten. If she refused to drink, her fingers were bent back until they touched her hand. Her stomach hurt so much she prayed all the animals in the world would die so that there would be no more milk.

To end the brutal feeding practices, the government has launched a TV and radio campaign highlighting the health risks of obesity. Because most Mauritanian love songs describe the ideal woman as fat, the health ministry commissioned catchy odes to thin women.

These efforts, combined with the rising popularity of foreign soap operas featuring model-thin women, has helped reduce the practice, especially among the country’s urban elite.

Only one in 10 women under the age of 19 has been force-fed, compared to a third of women 40 or older, according to a survey conducted by the National Office of Statistics in 2001, the most recent available.

I wonder how long it will be before the government jingles praising thin women, and foreign soap operas of model thin women, will bring anorexia and other eating disorders to the ‘urban elite’ in Mauritania? I wonder if any society will ever relax enough to let naturally skinny women be beautiful and skinny, naturally fat women be beautiful and fat, and naturally average women be beautiful and average? That, to me, would be a fantastic improvement on this kind of madness.

On a much brighter note, (though one that owes itself to more evil/creepy/bad behavior) if you want to read another story that passed under my own personal radar screen, one that impressed me, check out this tale, in which a bartender and a waitress notice some very not-nice behavior on the part of one of their patrons…they noticed him putting some powder into his date’s drink when she went to the bathroom. They claimed the drink before she could get a drink of it, saying that her beer had come from a fermented keg, and they replaced it. Being wise women, they saved the drink for the police, and told the woman what was going on when she went outside to smoke a cigarette. The patron, however, wasn’t giving up so easily, and while she was outside hearing of his nefarious deed, proceeded to drug his date’s next drink as well.

The would-be attacker is currently in prison on narcotics charges related to the incident, but is scheduled to be released in May. I’m not thrilled that all he got was 6 months in jail, I’m not thrilled that he worked for the SF Unified School District, but I am thrilled that these two women saw what was going on, and handled the situation so well. They’re surely heroes in their neighborhood.

Marguerite Duras

The other day, I was flipping through the latest New Yorker, and I came across a short story by Marguerite Duras, The Stolen Pigeons. My first thought was, “Hey, I thought Duras was dead?” Well, I was right about that, she died in 1996. I didn’t know that the New Yorker published fiction by dead authors…I mean, there are so many LIVE authors out there, who would LOVE to get their work published in the New Yorker, so why go with someone who doesn’t care? I guess this gives me away, and you all know now that I don’t read the New Yorker closely every time…just look for anything interesting, read the funnies, and move on.  Sad, isn’t it?  One interesting tidbit, which I learned from Wikipedia, is that Mme. Duras was not only a writer, but also a film director. Who knew? Not me, I’m afraid.

Anyway, I’m glad the New Yorker included this story, because I enjoyed reading it. I won’t say I enjoyed it, like it was a lively romp, but I enjoyed it because it was a well told, well written story, which made me really want to not be old, or when I am old, hope that I am dealt better cards than poor Mme. Bousque. Here’s an example of Mme. Duras’ beautiful language:

“People were a little afraid of her, as one is afraid of those whose vision is clear and who retain everything, as one is afraid of life, with its inspirations, its unfathomable poetry. Which is why people chose to call her a gossip, when she was really a fantasist.”

I recommend it, and you can read it in its entirity by clicking the title, above. (There’s also a cute bit on The L Magazine, pretending that Mme. Duras is alive and competing for a Literary Upstart award that you might find amusing.)

My first (and only other) Duras story is The Lover.  Has anyone else read this book? It came out in 1984, and I think I read it then or shortly thereafter. It was probably the first book I ever read that wasn’t for school that made me feel…literary. The writing style, so evocative and poetic.

So, I’m fifteen and a half.
It’s on a ferry crossing the Mekong River.
The image lasts all the way across.
I’m fifteen and a half, there are no seasons in that part of the world, we have just one season, hot, monotonous, we’re in the long hot girdle of the earth, with no spring, no renewal.

The subject, so racy and taboo. The story, compelling. The characters, distant and strange. If you’ve not read it, I’m going to spoil it for you here by telling you that it’s the autobiographical story of a young Frecnh girl (15 years old) who is going to boarding school in French Vietnam in the late 1920s. She is bored and lonely, and starts an affair with a Chinese man twice her age. She is in it for the affection, the thrills, and the power…he is in love, and wants to marry her. His millionaire father won’t allow it, nor probably would her parents, and he is eventually forced to marry a woman of his own caste and race. You could probably get most of that from the back of the book, so it’s not a huge spoiler…

I really liked The Lover. It had such a haunting quality to it, sublime and textured…really, a very good read. It’s a quick read, too, so if you haven’t read it, you might want to pick it up. Thanks, New Yorker, for the blast from the past.

Blogs That Make Me Think

I’m both flattered (three days in a row of being flattered! It’s INSANE!) and a little bit annoyed. Flattered, because my wonderful mom, Maya’s Granny, has tagged me for a Blogs that Make Me Think meme, and thus awarded me with a Thinking Blogger Award.  How cool is that?  Amazing.  I’ll confess to being a tiny bit annoyed though, because three of the blogs that make HER think are ones that she probably started reading in the first place because they were on MY blogroll. She shouldn’t get to use Angry Black Bitch, Brilliant At Breakfast, and Echidne of the Snakes, should she?  She should leave them to me, right? Even if none of them know that I exist, and they all have her on their blogrolls, so they CLEARLY like her more than they like me?

Oh well, it’s too late now, and I’ll bet I can come up with 5 other blogs that make me think, at least part of the time. (Because while I may make you think by talking about PBS shows on fat, or things like that, I also post about my middle finger or my favorite potato chips.) I’ll stop being annoyed, and move on to just snippy. So, aside from the blogs above, here are 5 MORE blogs that make me think:

1. Bitch, PhD. Not only does she make me think, about all kinds of issues, political and personal, she has the best header on the internets. And, she knows how to shop for a bra, and isn’t afraid to tell you.

2. Tiny Cat Pants. She makes me think about a lot of things, mostly feminist type things, but also liberal politicky things, and I love it when I go visit there.

3. Broadsheet. I know, this is kinda cheating, because it’s part of Salon.com, not really a blog at all…but hell, the women who write here make me think, and it is kinda bloggy in format. Broadsheet is where I first came to know and love Angry Black Bitch, Echidna of the Snakes, and Bitch PhD, as well as my dirty little secret, that I sometimes read The Superficial.

4. PostSecret. Some of the secrets are silly, some sexyish, and many will break your heart.

5. Py Korry. Mostly he writes about music, which is fun to think about, but sometimes he pulls out the political stuff, and he can clarify an issue in such a way that makes me go, “Oh, THAT’s what they’re saying. Idiots.” I love that about him, among many other things. ;)

I’m guessing Py MIGHT play, since we’re married and all, but none of the others even know I exist, so they won’t. Just in case anyone is interested, here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to The Thinking Blog so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote. Oh…OK, I forgot that part. Here are a few posts that I wrote that had me thinking at least…

This one, in which I discussed September 11th. (there are no comments, because they were left behind at my blogger blog. And I’ve closed them here, because I was getting spam on this one, mostly for Viagra, which really pissed me off.)

This one, talking about U.S. Foreign Policy.

This one, talking about U.S. involvement in Iraq…

Gosh, I have a few more I could link to. I’ll stop now, since my readers have all read these already. If you’re new and even remotely interested, the non-potato-chippy type posts are listed under topics like politics and feminist. Enjoy.

UPDATED TO ADD: My mom’s technorati comment made me curious, so I went and peeked there, and found that I had received not one, but TWO Thinking Blogger Awards!  What a lovely day!   Thanks to Debra at Reflecting for your award and your kind words! Can I say my title twice, like a professor with two PhDs in Germany gets to be “Doctor Doctor”?  I’m liking that idea. ;)