Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Favorite Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain --and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Through the Red Door

Found this quote from the person who inspired Gilda's Club:
"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."

Filmgoing phantoms

Hmmm, so the Harvard Exit Theatre, my default Friday night hangout when new movies are showing, is apparently haunted.

Not that I believe in haunted houses. Or ghosts. (At least, that's what I proclaim loudly and emphatically in the dark...)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

And so it begins...

The Washington Post reports that yesterday's schizophrenic Supreme Court ruling has spurred some religious groups to action:
"Within hours of yesterday's Supreme Court decision allowing a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, Christian groups announced a nationwide campaign to install similar displays in 100 cities and towns within a year."

When their political symbolism surpasses their application as an individual spiritual guide, I think ye olde tablets should count as a graven image . . .

Friday, June 24, 2005

Is this what the Third Wave has come to?

So The Feminine Mystique is considered outdated, and feminism has evolved to a postmodern state. Nevertheless, "Cater 2 U" by Destiny's Child takes the radical notion of gender equality back several decades. Reminiscent of "Wives and Lovers", there's no indication of any reciprocity in the lyrics' slavish tendencies (cuz otherwise, I'd be fine with it)!

And I was such a fan of "Independent Women"! I realize that the market can change artists' ideologies and identities (witness the brilliant chameleon-like qualities of Eminem and Madonna), but that's slightly offensive! And the hidden sociologist in me is wondering what larger cultural shift in gender perceptions enabled such a lyrical backlash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Random "Aha!" moment...

When a normally unintelligible board member drops the same word four times during a two-hour committee meeting, and that word happens to have been yesterday's word of the day, can one properly infer that he is finally trying to build his public vocabulary skills?

Or maybe people are just saying "gravitas" more often these days when discussing the joys of coalition-building . . .

Friday, June 17, 2005

Slooow Friday...

Create your own South Park character.

C'est moi -- ou sont les penseurs?

Molto fromaggio

Not to be mistaken for Josh Groban wannabes, Il Divo (Simon Cowell's latest sensation) remakes such pop chart-toppers as Sinatra's "My Way" and Toni Braxton's 'Unbreak My Heart". Also a MakePovertyHistory advocate (isn't every Euro artist these days?), the international quartet (they hail from the US, Switzerland, Spain, and France) remakes songs opera-style. In Italian.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Napoleon. In the barn. With Snowball's medal of honor.

The Trotsky murder weapon may have been found. And the woman whose father may have made off with it 65 years ago says,
"I am looking for some financial benefit. I think something as historically important at this should be worth something, no?"
Na Zdorovye!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Red or white for that Cana wedding?

So if the Maker's Diet wasn't enough (see previous rant), there is now What Would Jesus Eat?, a guide for the faithful to truly emulate the Savior (or at least speculate about which grocery store He'd prefer).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Manifest Destiny, 21st-century style

POTUS gave this year's commencement address at Calvin College, an institution of higher education with this mission statement (in every sense of the phrase):
Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God's work in God's world.

The speech itself is remarkably devoid of religious references. Instead, it frighteningly (yet, somehow, strategically and deviously) appropriates Tocqueville's Democracy in America as "an agenda for our time." And the self-deprecating introduction almost immediately ingratiates the speaker with the audience:

"Someday you will appreciate the grammar and verbal skills you learned here. And if any of you wonder how far a mastery of the English language can take you, just look what it did for me."

If I temporarily detach myself from my personal political beliefs, social values, and History degree, among other things, I can admit that the White House speechwriters are incredibly, undeniably brilliant. Their manipulation of metaphors and myths, coupled with symbolism of the speech's locale, is pure genius. They utterly understand the power of language, and have mastered the art of how to craft and convey their message.

And ... Time is suddenly a very heavy entity.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"Not tonight" for life...

In the ever-developing world of identity politics, the NYT recently featured an article on asexuals. Um. Very enlightening. Especially this paragraph:

Asexuals might have sexual urges and even masturbate, but they do not want to have sex with other people, said David Jay, 23, who founded the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (called AVEN by its members) four years ago, when he was in college. Asexuals often feel romantic attraction for other people, Mr. Jay said. It just doesn't involve sex.
Doesn't half of that negate the definition of asexual??? Not that I don't believe in asexuality -- I just don't think this particular description qualifies. For above situations I can think of half a dozen other words to explain the lack of action, but I won't go there...

Generation Why?

In the UK, they're called kippers; to Canadian academics they're boomerang kids; in the US of A they're known as twixters, according to this week's Time:

The peculiarity of the twixter social phenomenon might be that it reflects a shift in Western notions of adulthood, maturity, and independence. Lots of cultures don't care if the offspring never leave the nest (Time and the BBC love to mention Italian, but I feel qualified to highlight Asian cultures too) . In fact, some cultures don't expect them to fly away in the first place. This is understandable and completely respectable. However, if it ain't in yo' upbringing....

I understand the bond of family, and I sympathize with peers (and relatives!) who need to refresh themselves financially. But seriously, if you're not staying with the fam out of intense clan loyalty or to save moolah (for your own place, for your wedding, for grad school, to pay off loans, medical bills, whatever), there's no excuse. Really, there's not. It's called laziness, fear, social ineptitude, or hypocrisy (how else did the same demographic make Friends a hit for ten years?) There really is a point where you need to know how to sign a lease or deal with a mortgage, make car and insurance payments, contact your public utility providers, and in general understand how to competently and completely navigate social structures on your own. Western notions of independence can indeed be twisted, and I'm all for advocating subversion --- but I don't think twixters are consciously undermining the dominant paradigm!


400 Club

Despite the fact that he joined the leviathan, uber-epitome of capitalism (aka the New York Yankees), every now and then it's fun to check up on the reason some teenage Seattleites (cough, cough) became interested in baseball back in '95.

Then again, maybe it's just the tight black T-shirt...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More Than You Think You Are

Sometimes, unconsciously singing along to your personal anthem can scare the interns...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Possible book in reading queue

Amnesty International's quartlerly magazine recently featured a short mention of Luong Ung's Lucky Child, the sequel to her autobiography First They Killed My Father. I read the latter, but didn't realize autobiographies had sequels (Roald Dahl's comic recollections notwithstanding!). Her latest book apparently details her experiences as a Cambodian refugee in Vermont, and contrasts them with her sister's experiences as the child left to live in rural poverty under the Khmer Rouge.

First They Killed My Father told a story similar to Kien Nguyen's The Unwanted: children in Asia survive war, flee oppressive political regimes and then live the quintessential
third-world-rags-to-American -riches Dream. (They're well-written and certainly heart-wrenching in terms of subject matter, but these autobiographies always end with the final arrival in America! The reader is left to wonder why, just because the authors are no longer persecuted as they were in the communist regimes they fled, that their struggles as immigrants and refugees in the United States are not equally worth telling.)

Though I haven't read it, Ung's newest book suggests it is another Pudd'nhead Wilson tale: the accident of environment determines a child's life. And if Twain wrote about a central unbridgeable gulf of the 19th century (namely slavery) in Pudd'nhead Wilson, Ung uses her life to illustrate some central ideological conflicts of the 20th century (namely communism and third world development).

Might be worth a read.

Friday, June 03, 2005

J-Lo and Japan, are you listening?

Just as Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl" became a sort of anthem, perhaps recent hair dye trends could offer vindication for non-blondes bombarded with lyrics about how they don't have all the fun.

That Britney Song

Lesson learned a year ago: Never wear a skirt with a side slit to a fundraiser where everyone else is likely to wear headscarves and turtlenecks.

New lesson, learned today: Never wear a teddy-like top to a fundraiser where everyone else is likely to wear salwar-kameez.

(If, at both events, you're technically representing your organization to a coalition partner, these lessons are true adventures in cultural incompetence.)

"Oops, I..."