Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Carnival of the Godless #41

One of my posts appears in Carnival of the Godless this session. (It's a bi-weekly collection of posts that people take turns hosting.)

Scroll down to "Carnival of the Godless 41" to check out all the fabulous entries:


Review of X-Men 3; or, DIE, Ratner

Well, my nightmare has become reality. This new X-Men film destroyed almost everything I loved so much about the first two.

Instead of retaining all the wonderful subtlety and social commentary of the others, this movie throws itself headlong into the abyss of stereotypes and cheap lines and juvenile sexism. The point of the whole film seems to be a systematic disempowerment of the strong female characters, including Rogue, perhaps the strongest mutant of them all because she can swipe your power from you while she kills you. But in this movie, because she thinks her boyfriend might dump her over the fact that she can't touch him, she chooses to "cure" herself from her power and become a nice safe repository of physicality for him. Because of sexual jealously she castrates herself. I wanted to VOMIT.

This is the young woman who (in X2) whips off her glove and prepares to kick Magneto's ass for him. This character whose development we follow from scared, self-flagellating, and crushing girlishly on Wolverine in the first film to the self-assured woman in a relationship of affectionate equals who is not going to take Magneto's crap in the second--and Ratner breezes in and just erases all that. Eviscerates it. Does not understand it in the least. He sees Rogue as the Sandy character in Grease: Her feminine triumph comes from making herself sexually available to her man so he won't look for it elsewhere. How fucking inspiring.

And then the crime he perpetrates against Mystique. I love Mystique. She's so enormously powerful and so committed to her individuality, to her selfhood. She's blue and freaky looking and if you don't like it you can go piss up a rope. She can look like anyone but chooses above all to look like HERSELF. That's awesome. And her devotion to Magneto, and his to her, has been arresting, even touching, throughout the films. Arguably the most brilliant aspect of the X-Men story is how sympathetic Magneto and Mystique are. They're the villains in that they stand against the goals of the protagonists, but we get them. We understand their position. Why else do we see young Eric's horrific concentration camp experience? Why else the devastating conversation in which Mystique announces that she does not alter her appearance to better fit in with humans because she "shouldn't have to?" Why else Xavier's and Magneto's continued friendship? They're not homicidal maniacs--those guys make picking your team easy--they're people.

Look what the Rat does with that shimmering legacy. I started squirming in my seat early in the film, dreading what I knew was coming. All the talk of the mutant "cure," then lots of Mystique being way too cocky and powerful, clearly being set up to be put in her place, and I recall with ghastly clarity the moment I knew, when the thought burst unwilled into my recoiling consciousness: "This is leading to Rebecca Romijn naked." I could cry.

But it gets worse. Ignoring everything about the history of Magneto and Mystique's mutual trust, each putting his or her life in the other's hands utterly and absolutely without fear over and over, Ratface has Magneto leave Mystique naked and vulnerable on the ground as she begs for his help. Not insulted yet? Magneto then walks away quipping grossly, "A shame. She was so beautiful."

Ha, ha...ha? Get it? Because she's Rebecca Romijn, a lovely swimsuit model, and the lingering Male Gaze shot of her helpless and naked establishes that, wow, she's really hot now that she isn't all blue and scaly, and you know you'd totally hit that and how HILARIOUS that Magneto doesn't want her around NOW when she's finally a proper woman, all tits and ass and heavy eyeliner(?) and none of that annoying power.


So Magneto ditches the bitch without a backward glance, and the next time we see her she's sitting pretty as a picture as some kind of government fucking SECRETARY or something, having given up Magneto's base of operations to the feds, allowing Ratturd to feed us the oh-so-original line, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Yes, IT'S ALL BECAUSE SHE'S FEMALE OF COURSE and GOD HOW I HATE YOU.

And Jean Grey. Oh god. It's truly horrible. Jean, being female and all, suddenly can't handle all of her power and goes rabid, so Wolverine has to put her down like Old Yeller in the end, saying "I love you" and then running her through. She's his dog so he's the one who has to take her out behind the barn and put a bullet in her to protect everyone else, right? She spends the whole film surrounded by men who try to control her and then ends up staring into space wearing a shiny purple bridesmaid's dress (the HELL?) during the climactic battle, waiting passively for someone to please come and "save" her with knives to the belly.

I know some of you will think I'm reaching with this, but it's my blog so bite me: It reminded me of an "honor" killing, like everyone agrees that since Wolverine is her nearest male "relative" (in that he loves her, even though she repeatedly asserts her intention of staying with her husband so he really has no recipricated connection to her, but that doesn't matter because MALE love rules all, which is why stalking is romantic in the movies--but I digress) it's his responsibility to take her out when she's dishonored the family. Nice that it's Storm, Jean's woman friend, not that you'd know it by this movie, who delivers the cold line, "She made her choice," and tells Wolverine to be ready to kill her. Charming. Even Magneto is worth keeping alive, but the plan is to put Jean down, period.

Yes, I understand that Wolverine's quick healing powers make him the only one who can get close enough to kill her, but the sub-text is there too, that he has to do it because he loves her. It's fucking creepy.

The one part somewhat reminiscent of the subtlety of the first films is the Angel character. His relationship with his father suggests a sub-text of his being gay and his father wanting to "cure" him of it, not maliciously, just kind of ignorantly, and I bought that. Of course, they were only in it for like 2 minutes, and it had to end with that cheesy scene where his wings let him catch his father after the bad mutants throw him off a building. Whatever. At least it's just goofy and not soul-killingly offensive.

Speaking of things that bug but at least don't make me wish I could murder people with my mind, Night Crawler (whom I adore) isn't in the movie at all, and unless I missed the explanation while I was busy trying to cut my wrists with my ticket stub his absence was never mentioned.

It is so depressing to me, so heart-wounding, to keep crashing into the same tired gender stereotypes. Even sitting through previews depresses me. They all seem to hate women so much, making nothing but two-dimensional jokes out of us at best and nothing but holes out of us at worst. To hold on through that garbage just to see such a progressive series as X-Men screech to a halt and whip around backward is...painful.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I am like that freaky little girl in Firestarter now

The Quiznos about which I complained HERE burned down last weekend. I didn't even find out until days later. I have no idea how powerful I truly am.

Jeff Probst should flame out any day now. The tribe has spoken, bitch.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Grading final essays sucks.

I'm usually against censorship, but can I please have the phrase "in today's society" EXCISED from English usage? I can't read it again and continue to live. I can't.

Help. Me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Back away from the Robert Frost. Slooooowly...

I won't bore you with my opinions on the border and illegal immigration and all that crap. I want to talk about something more important: improper use of poetry.

That's right. With everyone chattering about the (admittedly important) issue of border security, I am just about ready to start shooting if I hear ONE MORE PERSON drool proudly [you should really read this line aloud while holding onto your tongue with your fingers to approximate the way it sounds in my head]: "As Robert Frost said, 'Good fences make good neighbors!'"

Here is the poem they haven't read:

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it
And spills the upper boulder in the sun,
And make gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there,
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Pop Quiz--Short Answer

(100 points)

One of the poem's characters is presented as a close-minded dickweed, while the other appears thoughtful and imaginative. Which is which? Which character claims that "Good fences make good neighbors"? What do you make of this?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Da Vinci Code is not dangerous. It's not even that good!

I already wrote about the fundamentalist freakshows having kittens over Harry Potter books in (public) school libraries. Now the evil narrative du jour is the criminally overrated Da Vinci Code, and I so do not get it.

For one thing, the threat of Harry Potter lies in its pure, unapologetic awesomeness. Those books kick so much imaginative ass they can set even a freeze dried old English professor like me aglow. That power presents serious temptation; it's one of the most succulent fruits in the garden, especially of course for kids.

But The Da Vinci Code? Scares you why?

I read it, and it was fine for a Saturday afternoon, but it's hardly Shakespeare. It's better than Deception Point--but so is a punch in the nose, if we're keeping score, because man that book sucks. Point being, I absolutely believe The Da Vinci Code's hype wrote checks the book can't cash, but it doesn't matter since the people who fear its influence so insanely will never read it (or see the film). Why would they? There's nothing there for them. The book and film are marketed to an adult audience, and the adult cuckoo birds who flap around in a frenzy over hack fiction will never get close enough to catch the anti-church cooties, and every other adult in the world has enough sense to deal with fiction as fiction, even when it's excellent fiction, which this is not. So relax already.

What year is this again?

I found this gem while perusing www.fstdt.com:

Bible Distortion Bill defeated
By Nick Williams
Dist. 65 Representative
Legislative Report

I am glad to report to you that through a bi-partisan effort of Republicans and a few conservative Democrats we were able to defeat the "Bible Distortion Bill". Normally I would be all for this type of legislation, but this bill promoted a certain liberal textbook instead of promoting the Bible. As conservative legislators, we could not allow this terrible bill to pass. It would have had a very negative impact on our teenagers.

I’ll recap just a few of the reasons this was a bad bill:

For years Alabama has provided for an elective in Bible literacy under authorization of the State Board of Education consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Currently, there are public high schools in Alabama where the Bible is being taught. The curriculum already in place by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is a very sound curriculum that teaches the Bible and simply provides a workbook for the students to work out of.

The proposed textbook, The Bible and It’s Influence, also asks students such theological questions as "Do you think Adam and Eve received a fair deal, as described in Genesis?" Page 38. Is this a question you would like for your child to be asked? Personally, I would not. Another unbelievable question: "And if God allows evil things to happen, can God honestly be described as good? This puzzle remains essentially unsolved." Page 156.

Charles Haynes, who is one of the key spokespersons for the Bible Literacy Project, and also a contributor to the BLP textbook for students, "The Bible and It’s Influence", the textbook selected for this course, has said that the National Day of Prayer should be declared illegal and has authored a paper, "When the Government Prays, No One Wins." Along with Haynes, it has been reported that the ACLU, NEA, People for the American Way and the Council on Islamic Education are all supporters of this project. With groups like this supporting this book, you can understand why I do not support this project.

It is my belief that if we are going to teach the Bible, which I am very much in favor of, we should teach the Bible and not some textbook that talks about the Bible. By defeating this bill we are promoting true Bible literacy in Alabama.

Oh, Nick. Let me start by pointing out that I cannot take seriously any comments on education from a grown person who can't even get through a 400-word document without errors. Here is the amazon.com listing for this book you find so incredibly offensive, and while I haven't read it I am at least relieved to see that the incorrect apostrophe appears only in your version of the title, not the actual published one--you MORON. Also, is there a reason you (correctly) italicize the book's title in one instance and then (incorrectly) place it in quotation marks later?

But to address the content of your little statement. First, I am sorry to tell you that you clearly have no clue what a "Bible literacy" course is. You will be shocked to hear that it is NOT, in fact, a Sunday School class designed to perform an end run around the secular public school curriculum and present the Bible and Christian doctrine as factual. Such courses, in the hands of qualified, competent instructors, allow students to read Biblical literature as literature, to unpack its archetypes and discuss the way its symbols have appeared in literature since its publication, to identify its relationships to and reflections of the cultures in which it was created, to--cover your eyes now, Representative Williams--think critically about its content.

It is certainly not in any way an anti-Christian enterprise, but neither is it supposed to be pro-Christian. It is a literature class.

Now I know the idea of critical thinking burns, Representative, but consider for a moment, if you can stand it, the examples you pull from that shocking evil textbook:
"Do you think Adam and Eve received a fair deal, as described in Genesis?" Page 38. Is this a question you would like for your child to be asked? Personally, I would not.

Well, I feel sorry for your children, then, Sir, because you are raising them as drones rather than as thinkers. What is so terrifying about that question? More curiously, why are you so convinced you wouldn't like the answer? Perhaps because the human part of you that's left, the glimmer that has not yet become fully Borg, recognizes that children, on the receiving end of inscrutable (to them) parental disciplinary actions, are more likely to lean toward Adam and Eve's perspective than that of the bullying father-god? Or maybe you're worried that students might scrutinize the anti-intellectual blind obedience message most fundamentalists extract from that tale and come to different conclusions?

To continue:
Another unbelievable question: "And if God allows evil things to happen, can God honestly be described as good? This puzzle remains essentially unsolved." Page 156.

Apparently this conundrum does remain unsolved in the religious community, as I saw the exact issue addressed on the marquee of the fundamentalist church near my house just last month. The sign read: "Why does God let bad things happen?" or something similar. It's an important question, a crucial element of faith. So why do you deem it "unbelievable"? Again I ask you: Of what are you so afraid?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Martyr's Day!

Before I rant, let me say that I had a great Mother's Day weekend, with everything I wanted. My son and I got season passes to the local amusement park so we can spend the whole summer making ourselves sick on our beloved Tilt-A-Whirl, and my husband (the only person in our house capable of cooking anything edible) prepared a fantastic plate of eggs on toast, England-style, which was served to me in bed with some lovely flowers. Thanks, guys--I love you!

I don't hate Mother's Day; it's a nice thing.

What I do hate are the ghastly emails I get this time of year--you know the ones I mean, patronizing claptrap like "Here's to all the mothers" followed by a depressing list of dozens of "womanly" chores, celebrating the enslavement and martyrdom of women. They make me CRAZY, these emails. I don't live, thank the goddess, in an environment where duties are gender-specific or unfairly distributed, but I know plenty of women do, and the whole idea of normalizing inequity by praising the screwed for their sacrifice and inculcating them to self-identify as silent sufferers is vile to me.

And it's ALWAYS women who send this bullshit around to each other, like a tiny bandage for a gaping wound, a desperately, falsely cheerful "We may be leaving the best years of our lives behind working ourselves into early graves, but see how special and appreciated we are for it!" If we can't have political power at least we can harness the power of martyrdom and guilt? No.

I understand the spirit in which many women embrace these emails, sort of, but I can't agree with it. They're just another way of fetishizing us, and there's plenty of that to go around already, thanks.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Good night, sweet prince

First real American Idol shocker of the season: Chris Daughtry eliminated in the fourth place spot made popular by such luminaries as Tamyra Grey and Jennifer Hudson, if I recall correctly. (And please do correct me if I'm wrong.)

Shameless Katharine McPhee devotee that I am, I still expected to see her jettisoned this week and, yeah, she would've had it coming. The Elvis thing did not work for her at all. On strength of past performances I believe she deserves her spot in the top three, but that has always been a bit of a sticky wicket with this show: Are people voting from a perspective on a performer's overall talent or solely based upon each week's merits, one week at a time?

Who knows. (Who cares?) I sure didn't see the Daughtry boot coming, though. Best of luck to you, Chris, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


I can't believe that fool Britney Spears is pregnant again.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What he said.

I've been out for a little minor surgery. No biggie, just annoying. But as I'm still kind of drowsy, I'm giving you Jacob Clifton, a writer for Television Without Pity, and the recap of that wretched Burger King commercial he included with his recap of last week's episode of The Apprentice. Jacob is the best.

A man with falsely bushy eyebrows sits in a nouvelle restaurant, and is brought a piece of well-presented sushi. He turns to the camera -- holding his faceless girlfriend's hand behind a wine glass full of water -- and begins to sing. "I am man, hear me roar / In numbers too big too ignore..." He stands -- his bitch's face goes sour -- and takes off down the aisle of the restaurant, which is filled with men wearing the same colors he is. He tosses his napkin behind him, because what need has he of the napkins of the matriarchy? He is man. In the background, his girlfriend is weeping inconsolably. "And I'm way too hungry / To settle for chick food..." He frees himself and sets off into Manhattan; turns manfully, sternly toward the camera as he walks directly across the street -- not even looking for oncoming traffic! -- toward a Burger King. "'Cause my stomach's startin' to growl / And I'm goin' on the prowl / For a Texas Double Whopper...man that's good!" His sentiments are echoed by another man outside the BK, who holds the prenominate sandwich into the air like Lady Liberty -- a new statue for a new millennium, where men finally have a place they can just be men. Where they can rediscover their liberty to eat sandwiches larger than a full-grown adult person's head, dripping in fat.

Men flood the streets; a host of men come out of Burger King holding their sandwiches proudly. "Oh yes, I'm a guy / I'll admit I've been fed quiche..." He barely shies away from this admission, but you can tell what he's implying: eating quiche is basically equivalent to eating dick, which is fine in a sushi prison, but in the brave new world of the Burger Kingdom, there's no need for that. These proud men are of all races, all classes, all forms of dress, in a parade now numbering in the hundreds. They pass a bistro patio, where men shove their plates across their tables, standing up in disobedience -- they will no longer be eating quiche, no sir. They will be eating beef. Their girlfriends -- all womankind -- left far, far behind, the bistro boys are helped over the railing to join the throng, a hamburger shoved into their hands as they come, blinking and unbalanced, seeming new-born. "Wave tofu bye-bye / Now it's the Whopper Beef I..." A man comes out of a salon, confused, in a smock, with a green skin mask on his face -- but he cannot be hated for having gone so terribly, awfully wrong. All men deserve the freedom of the Burger Kingdom, even those led into sexual purgatory by their pores. "I will eat this meat!" A man in the foreground shoves the sandwich into the camera, as behind him, ten floors or more of rioting men dance on balconies, unfurling banners that say "Eat This Meat!" and "I Am Man!" They do not dance like homos -- they have the power of beef. "Till my innie turns into an outie!" These men, in defiance of all nature, will give birth to hunger itself! They will consume the world, until women and their disgusting foods are left far behind!

An Asian man in a business tie smashes a racist cement block with one fist, while proudly holding his sandwich aloft. Three hipsters (mesh cap/Neil Young burns; black glasses music nerd; temporary neck-tied slave to The Man) roll up their sleeves and show off their negligent muscles, as they raise their sandwiches to their mouths, in unison, not unlike Rosie the Riveter: "I am strong (STRONG!) / I am starved (STARVED!)..." One construction worker sucker punches another, both of them still holding firmly to their sandwiches. It's a sign of love, but also of excitement! Thanks to the Burger King! Nothing for the Dairy Queen, not today! Skinny, teenage cheerleaders do their routine against a building, no breasts, no body hair, as a man rips off his underwear from inside his pants and tosses it into an open flame (that part was weird). The men line up behind him, thinking of things that they can burn away in this rebirth. "I am incorrigible!" Somewhere, Helen Reddy realizes that she was basically the Leni Riefenstahl of women's hegemonic control of mankind, and hides her face, ashamed.

The men take to the highway, causing a minivan to swerve to a stop before their awesome tide. "And you can't keep a big burger beef bacon jalapeno good thing down..." There is silence as the minivan door opens, and a father steps out. What will he do? Is he in too deep? Is it possible that his whipping by the pussy will pause long enough for him to eat a hamburger? YES! He jumps to his feet proudly, throws his hands in the air -- at last, he is free. Free of bullshit like women, and kids -- free to eat the sandwiches of freedom. Fists and sandwiches are raised to the sky as the men -- all across the city, the country, the world, proudly raise their barbaric sandwich yawp: "YEAH!" The men's smiles fade somewhat as they -- as a group -- lift the minivan by its sides ("Do Not Attempt," says the screen) like a Watts riot of misogyny, and plunge it over a bridge and into a garbage truck, which is being pulled along by a an old, bulky man wrapped in chains. (This part is also weird.) "I am hungry / I am incorrigible..." A young woman with no face and lots of tits holds a sandwich out to the pulling man on a shovel, tempting him with manhood. "I am man!" scream the men on the bridge, watching the old man reaching for his sandwich, pulling the garbage truck in which they've deposited their fatherhood, their couplehood -- their enslavement. "Eat Like A Man, Man," says the screen, above a BK logo.

Perhaps we all will. And then we can all go to a White Power rally. Oh, you're not Caucasian? Sorry, you're not invited. It's really about celebrating how great it is to be white. Why would that be a problem? Stop screaming! You can eat the hamburgers, ladies, if you really want to -- you're just not allowed to celebrate them with us. It's a man thing.

Yeah, I hate that commercial.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sing it, sister

My pregnant sister sent me the following email this morning:

I got an email today from Pregnancy Weekly. One of the links made me so mad I surfed for an appropriate message board and posted [a rant].

Here's the list that set me off:

Nice Things to Do for Mom To Be

Give her a foot massage and rub her back

Cook her favorite meal

Take her out to her favorite place to eat

Help her finish (or do it yourself and surprise her) decorating the nursery, especially if it needs to be painted or wallpapered

Throw her a baby shower

Take her to a movie or rent her favorites and bring them home

Take the kids out for a couple of hours so she can just relax

Help her out around the house so she doesn't have much to do

Do some last minute errands she might have

Take her away for the weekend or on vacation before the baby arrives (you might not be able to do this again for awhile)

Volunteer to help shop and prepare meals the first week the baby is home

My response:

HELP HER do housework? Cook meals the FIRST WEEK AFTER BABY IS BORN?? What is this - friggin Bewitched? I know our culture is not likely to break free from the basic chauvinistic principles upon which it was founded, but come on! This is supposed to be a site for modern moms. How can they honestly suggest that all housework, cooking, home decorating, etc. is solely the woman's responsibility? And women are supposed to be so bloody grateful if men magnanimously decide to "help us" prepare meals ONLY one week after we have a baby? I can't stand it. I surfed the Pregnancy Weekly website (yes, I am at work AWAY from the house) but couldn't access the message boards, nor could I find a way to contact the responsible parties directly. Argh! Wake up PW! It's the 21st Century! At 30 weeks pregnant, I know I may be hormonally charged, but honestly, I feel like mobilizing a mob. Knocked-up, Fed-up women of the world unite!

Yeah, what she said. I can't improve upon it. She's right and it's infuriating.

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