The Only Reason There Won’t Be a Draft

Yahoo is blathering on about why there won’t be a draft.  The main point seems to be that there won’t be a draft because drafting people won’t actually solve the military’s problems.  I’m going to address that in a second, but let’s be clear.

The only reason there won’t be a draft is because it would be political suicide for the party whose administration enacted it.  If the burden of this war has to be born more equitably across social classes, you’d see ugly like we’ve not seen in a long time and no politician wants to be responsible for that.

But here’s why Yahoo thinks we won’t have a draft and why I think they’re full of shit:

Yahoo: “But the downside, the report claims, would be a less effective fighting force, thanks to a sudden influx of draftees who would remain in uniform for much shorter spells than today’s all-volunteer soldiers.”

Me: What’s to prevent the military from keeping drafted soldiers as long as they want?  Our “volunteer” soldiers are already doing a lot more for a lot longer than they signed up for.

Yahoo: The report says that while 91% of last year’s recruits were high school graduates, only 80% of U.S. residents aged 18 to 24 have attained that level of education.

Me: Ha, ha, ha.  The armed forces are really trying to argue that many Americans are just too stupid to risk letting them into the military?  Please.  Then don’t draft drop-outs.  Problem solved.

Yahoo:   The CBO, which does not make recommendations but only charts options for lawmakers, estimates that somewhere between 27,000 and 165,000 would be drafted each year. That relatively small slice – some 2 million males turn 18 each year – could resurrect the problems seen in the Vietnam era when deferments and friendly draft boards kept some well-connected young men out of uniform.

Me: Yeah, well, guess what.  Well-connected young men are staying out of uniform right now as it is.  At least this would make going to war a real, actual possibility.

Yahoo:  If it doesn’t make military or economic sense to launch the draft, what about the notion of fairness? Critics have claimed that minorities are over-represented in the all-volunteer military because they have fewer options in the civilian world.

Me: No, critics have claimed that poor people, many of whom are minorities, but many of whom are white, are over-represented in the all-volunteer military because they have fewer options in the civilian world.

Okay, back to my point.  There’s no reason that the government can’t enact a draft that suits the military’s needs.  This nonsense about not needing a draft is all a smoke screen and anyone who thought about it for very long would see that.   What we’re asking from our military and supporting families right now is gravely unfair.

But no one really wants a draft.  People who oppose the war don’t want a draft because, well, we oppose the war and don’t want to send anyone to fight it, not the folks who are there, not the folks who aren’t there.

And people who do support the wary don’t want a draft because it would solidify opposition to the war and make opposing the war seem urgent for most Americans in a way it just doesn’t now.

With My Luck, I Will Catch the Black Plague

 bites.jpg

I have fleas.  Well, technically, I’m covered in flea bites, but I’m guessing that means something in the house has fleas.  The animals are all Frontlined (I believe.  The Butcher and I may have to have a talk about whether he’s been keeping the cats up to date.), but I am still riddled in little red bumps.

My fear is that my beloved computer chair may be infested.

On the plus side, my right foot, which has more bites that my left foot, is no longer swelling like a loaf of bread.  I wonder if I can use leeches to reduce the swelling on my left foot, then. I mean, I wonder if it’s a loss of blood from the flea bites that has helped the right foot.  And, if so, can I get some blood-letting done on the left?

Do barbers still do that?  Hmm.

Ha, you know, I had this idea that I would write a post about the undo influence The Addams Family television show had on me as a child, but I couldn’t really think of anything to say other than how much I loved Gomez Addams and how I couldn’t possibly pick between John Astin and Raul Julia as my favorites.

Raul Julia… See, now that’s a name a woman can whisper to her lover.  Well, if her lover is Raul Julia, I guess.  I just think those are some nice syllables.  Raaaahhhh oooooollllll hooooolllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.  Shoot, drag that out just right and it’ll do you for the whole act.  Ra-ah-ah-ah-ah–oooo-ooolll-hoo-ooo-ooo-lllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeee-ahhh.

Ha, I tickle me.

You know, the Addamses would have found something delightful about being covered in little red spots.  So, I think this ended up being a fitting post all together anyway.

BarCamp

This BarCamp thing has me intrigued, but I don’t understand it.  If you go, do you have to present?  If I had to present, what do I do that folks would be interested in?  Not much, and yet, it’s just over the bridge from my house…

Managing Expectations

I’ve been thinking a lot about y’all this weekend.  Basically because I spent Friday evening and Sunday with some folks who just blew my mind, gave me so much to think about and mull over, and wonder about and be touched by and yet I didn’t breathe a word of it here.

I think there are a lot of ways that how I blog has changed.  I feel like I blog a lot less about the Butcher because I was starting to realize that y’all thought he was kind of a dink, based on what I say about him (obviously, if you know him in real life, you’re entitled to your own opinion about his dinkiness).  I mean, there are a handful of things that annoy me about the Butcher and a million things that I love.  And I’d come here, vent, and get over my annoyance at him.

That was useful to me, but not fair to him, because y’all never got to see the cool stuff.

On the other hand, I’ve shared a lot of stuff with you guys over the years that had really allowed me to come to terms with some stuff and come into my own as an adult person.

I’m still sore over an incident this spring in which a friend got pissed at me because she thought I was airing our dirty laundry in public without coming to her first.  I thought I was just venting about something I was being stupid about that wasn’t important enough to bother her with.

Different expectations.

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard from people who have taken me to task for what I present and the ways in which I present it.  I’m not trying to be passive aggressive by not mentioning their names.  For the sake of this discussion, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is how I feel about it.

And how I feel about it is that a lot of people have different ideas than I do about what’s appropriate and about whether they can attempt to hold me to their own standards and it ought to be obvious, to me, that we’re just having a disagreement.

But I’ve got to say that it sometimes knocks me off kilter.

Ugh.  I don’t know.  I feel like I’m not being very clear.

It’s just that I sense this change–whereas this used to be a blog whose audience was people I knew and then grew to be a blog whose audience also included people I hoped to know or could imagine knowing and I knew or learned, I think, how to understand that, we seem to have rounded another corner, where folks in the audience have expectations of me that I’m going to fail to meet–and it’s kind of scary for me.

There’s nothing to be done about it.

I just wanted to acknowledge that I feel like the dynamic has shifted again.  I don’t know what to make of it, but it’ll be interesting to see.

What is Truth?

I think I’m totally getting the hang of how to talk like a conservative. 

Take a look at Martin Kennedy–“it would be better if parents had the option between mixed gender or single gender.  That is self-evident.”–and that cutie Bill Hobbs–“The truth is, Ms. Trunk, that there IS truth and if your ‘truth’ isn’t actually true then it is fiction, no matter how badly you want to believe it.”

See?

I can totally do this.  You just pick something that is actually up for debate and pass it off as unquestioned truth in order to further your position on something else that is also up for debate.

Okay, let’s try it:

First something up for debate passed off as truth: “Because everybody benefits when Aunt B. is happy”.

And then using my “truth” to further my own agenda: “conservatives should argue less with her and buy her more flowers.”

Woo.  That is fun.

And, seriously, wouldn’t things just be much easier if the conservatives just went along with whatever I said?

I am tickled by Bill Hobbs, though.  It’s not just because I adore performative contradictions, but also because I’m pretty sure that he’s so outraged by Penelope Trunk that he doesn’t see that he’s enacting a performative contradiction.

Let’s enjoy.

Hobb’s position is that there is an objective truth, that one can look at a situation and, with enough information and work, one can come to the TRUTH of a matter (and in all fairness, this is tempting to me, as well) and yet, he reads Trunk, who is arguing that everybody’s take on something is colored by their own perspective, and interprets what she says as saying that “journalists are supposed to misquote people.”

Oh, the funny.

Premonition

We chose to see Premonitionover some movie that starred Selma Hayek and Penelope Cruz as Mexican outlaws because we thought that might be a little stupid.

It could not have been stupider than Premonition.  For starters, Sandra Bullock’s character doesn’t actually have premonitions.  She’s having some kind of problem where her experience of time is all out of joint.  I don’t know what the word for that is, but it is not “premonition.”

Second, the whole premise of the movie rests on the idea that Bullock’s character and her husband are in some sort of marital doldrums and that he’s actually considering cheating on her.  And yet, the marriage that they show us is on the happy side of ordinary.  Granted, her husband is played by Julian McDudefromCharmed, so maybe he’s still wrestling with being half demon, I don’t know.  But his cheating on his wife made no sense based on the marriage they showed us.

Also, if there are people in the world who wear different pajamas every night, I have not slept with them.

And and, the movie appeared to be made by people who’ve never actually lived through a tragedy.  In the movie, Bullock’s character’s mom has her committed the night of her husband’s funeral because she seems distraught and slightly crazed.  Well, I ask you, America, who does not seem distraught and slightly crazed when they lose a beloved husband?

AND and and, the reward Bullock’s character gets for suffering through all this nonsense is that she gets pregnant.

Now, please, I know kids are wonderful, but there’s something really disgusting about the idea that your beloved husband can just be swapped out for a baby and it’s all good.  Baby as consolation prize is just… well, kind of gross.

Worse yet, we watched the special features, which were howlingly funny as apparently everyone is under the false impression that they made a good movie.

I am having a “monition” right now that they are wrong, very wrong.

A New Home for the Tiny Cat

As you all may remember, the tiny cat is not really all that excited about the size of the world.  She’ll pick a place to live–like wedged between the window and the bookcase–and that’s pretty much where she’ll hang out until she finds a better place to live.

She spends most of the winter in my room wedged as described above.  This summer has been more difficult for her.  For a while she was living on top of the dryer.  Then she seemed to try out living right next to her food bowl.  For a couple of days, she lived under the sink.

Lately, she’s been living on the Butcher’s golf clubs.

It can’t be comfortable, but the golf clubs have lasted longer than under the sink as an acceptable dwelling.

Like Loaves of Bread

When he got up in the morning, my grandpa would always need my grandma’s help to slide his feet into his slippers.  His feet were so square, like boxes with five pink toes straining to pop off the fronts of them.

My feet used to be normal. I used to look down at them and wiggle my toes and see tendons flashing under the skin as they did their work.  At some point this spring, I noticed that my ankles were swollen.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think much of it, because they didn’t hurt.

And then my feet began to swell.  They look like dough, like loaves of bread at the bottom of my legs, rising over the day.  In the evenings, I try to lay on the couch with my feet above my head.  Sometimes, though, this hurts, as the fluid drains.  Other times, it doesn’t feel like anything.

Saturday, when I took the dog to the park, my left foot was so swollen that I had to undo my laces to get my foot in my shoe and then, over the course of the walk, tighten them back up as my foot shrank back down into normal proportions.  Funny enough, the one thing that helps them the most is to just get out there and walk the shit out of them.  Of course, getting motivated to walk when your feet look like two tiny blimps and are tender to the touch is not always easy.

So, thank goodness for Mrs. Wigglebottom.

Weirdly enough, they also itch.  It’s difficult to scratch them, though, because it hurts to touch them.

Yes, I am going to the doctor about this, because clearly something is wrong.

But the real question, I think, is whether I need some cute slippers to wear around the world when I’m not in my walking shoes, because all the shoes I own bug me at the moment, or if I can just hire some folks to carry me around.

Random Things–The Things That Need Our Good Vibes Edition

1.  The Jena Six–I’m with Blue Collar Muse on this.  When you first hear about it, you assume there must be some back story that would explain this.  But then you start digging and you realize that, the more you find out about the situation, the worse it becomes.  These kids have gotten and are getting royally screwed over and they need our help and support.  More here.

2.  The West Memphis Three–Rick Maynard brings us news that forensic evidence in the case points to a suspect.  Unsurprisingly, it’s not any of the three men sitting in prison these past 14 years.  Surprisingly, it’s not the stepfather of the kid, who upon hearing that the kid was found with bite marks on him, had all his teeth removed.  When, hopefully, the West Memphis Three are finally released, I really hope they sue Arkansas back into the stone age.  I don’t know if they can do that, but damn.

3.  Granted, it’s not quite the injustice of the other two, but Joe Powell needs our good vibes.  From what he can tell, someone broke into his house–perhaps with the intent to take his dog–and in the chaos, his dog escaped and ran off.  As you can imagine, he’s distraught.

Stacey Campfield Feels for Assholes

Let us talk frankly (no, not about how hilarious the double entendre in the title of this post is) about divorce.

Listen, I do think that the courts tend to be biased towards mothers when it comes to awarding custody and I do think that one of the unintended positive consequences of our divorcing culture is that men have become more nurturing.  So, I don’t think that, all things being equal, women should be automatically granted sole custody of their kids.

Men are more than capable of raising and nurturing children and the courts should take that into account.

That being said, when Stacey Campfield starts sponsoring legislation designed to make that happen, you can bet I get uneasy.

Let’s take a look at his latest post:

Shared parenting has been an issue that I have been passionate about for some time. The thought is, that in worse case senerio when a couples get divorced, that with all things being equal and with the best interest of the child always in mind that both parents be given equal say and where possible equal time in their child’s life.

Many times, in courts across the state, this has not been the case. Many times good fathers have to fight long, hard and at great expense to just get close to equal footing when they walk into court. Many times they walk out of court disgruntled at the unbalanced decision and walk out of the child’s life.

See what I mean?

On the surface, it seems like a good idea–guaranteeing that women aren’t automatically awarded custody as if they are the best parent when they might not be.  But you don’t have to dig down very deeply to see some troubling problems here.

First, if the best interest of the child is always in mind, how easy is it to work “equal time”?  Is it really in the best interest of the child to spend 26 weeks one place and 26 weeks another, divvied up in smaller portions throughout the year?  What if one parent gets a better job in another town?  Isn’t it in the child’s best interest for the parent to take that job?  Would the other parent have to move there as well?  Would the courts forbid the first parent from accepting the job if it interfered with the custody arrangement?

Second, I’m sure there are some divorces that are civil enough that two folks can hash out every single detail in a kid’s life without it turning into a battle, but most of the divorces I’ve seen, especially the fresh ones, aren’t that way.  If both parents have an equal say in the kid’s life how does that not put the parents at constant impasses?  One wants to send him to private school (perhaps with the money from his new job).  The other wants him to go to public school because it’s closer to her house and easier for her when she has custody.  Do they take that to the judge to sort out?  What if one wants him to go to the Baptist church and the other wants him to only attend the Seventh Day Adventist?  Back to the judge?  What if the father wants him to be an ovo-pesca-vegetarian and the mother thinks he needs steak and eggs for breakfast most days?  Back to the judge?  What if the kid has a fever and it’s right around 103 degrees and the doctor says “Bring him in in the morning for sure, but take him to the emergency room if he gets worse.”  What if the mom decides that a cough isn’t that much worse but the dad thinks it’s best to take him to the emergency room?  Are they going to call the judge to settle that?

I mean, really, at the end of the day, someone’s got to be able to make the final call on what’s going on with the kid.  And it makes sense that the someone who can do that is the person who has custody of him.   It’s hard enough for two people who are married and get along and share goals to always make decisions together.  Divorced couples?  Even worse.

And also, you’re divorced.  It’s commendable if you want to play a major roll in your kid’s life.  It is an asshole move if you are looking to use your kids as a way to retain some control over your ex, to use the courts as a way to throw your weight around when it comes to her.

Which kinds of guys is Stacey Campfield watching out for?  Look no further than these two sentences–“Many times good fathers have to fight long, hard and at great expense to just get close to equal footing when they walk into court. Many times they walk out of court disgruntled at the unbalanced decision and walk out of the child’s life.”

Are Campfield’s constituents emotionally four years old?  Come on, divorced dads who see themselves in those two sentences.  These are your kids.

If you would walk out of your child’s life because you don’t like the decision the Court made–a decision, need I remind you, your kids had nothing to do with–you are not a “good” father, you are an asshole.

No, it’s not fair that the courts appear stacked against you.

But you know what’s really not fair?  Having to suffer through your parents’ divorce only to have your dad ditch you at the end of it because he’s busy throwing a giant temper tantrum at the Court.  That’s really not fair and that really sucks and the fact that Campfield would help you blackmail the State (“Give us what we want or we’ll fuck over our kids as hard as we can”) is, sadly, not surprising.

Random Things–I Have Pissed Off the Bridal-Industrial Complex

1.  My girly parts name is “Breakfast of Champions.”  I defy any of you to come up with one more awesome.

1a.  On a side note, doesn’t “Rachel Walden, MLIS” sound like it should be the name of a TV show?

2.  Could there be any more clear cut a case of the pot calling the kettle black?  Shoot, I’d spring for beers with Liz Garrigan if there were a corncob up her butt removal procedure at some point in the evening.

3.  Bridgett brings us news of a new Viking horde discovery.  When, America, am I going to win the lottery so that I can go see these places in person?

4.  The Bridal-Industrial Complex has taken umbridge at my musings on marriage.  Seriously, over the course of my life, I’ve probably spent over $2,000, if not more, being in weddings, traveling to weddings, buying dresses for weddings, etc.  It’s never enough for the BIC.  No, not until you’ve shelled out $75,000 for a wedding complete with koi pond in the shape of your mom and dad is it satisfied. 

Well, ha ha, BIC!  I’m stroking one ample breast as a hot woman wearing nothing but a wicked smile enjoys the “Breakfast of Champions” while the illegal immigrant I’m exploiting as my meal ticket/other lover strolls around the living room in nothing but his boxer drawers, sweat glistening off his manly shoulders, as he gets ready for work.

You’re going to tell me you spent your morning doing something more fulfilling than basking in the glow of being the center of attention all night long as two fine folks competed to see who could bring you more pleasure?

I thought not.

Ha, I kid.  I actually spent my morning eating breakfast and walking the dog.

My point is this: clearly people who oppose gay marriage feel that, if gays were allowed to marry, it would somehow impact their own marriage.  From my perspective, try as I might, I cannot understand how allowing gays to marry in any way has any affect on straight marriage, as I understand straight marriages to work best (love, trust, mutual admiration, etc.).

Therefore, folks who oppose gay marriage must have some different notion of how straight marriage works, if, indeed, gay marriage can threaten it.

I proposed, then, that those folks might not marry primarily for love, trust, etc., but because that was what was expected of them.  If you’re marrying first and foremost because that’s what’s expected of you, being faced with people who are so committed to love, trust, etc. that they’re willing to redefind marriage to be first and foremost about that, would indeed threated your ideas about marriage.  It may even feel like a direct threat to your marriage.

That seems like an easy enough point.

But I could be wrong.

Oh, Boys

So, I’m reading on the Chronicle of Higher Education about how weird it is that, even though it’s obvious that colleges and universities are bypassing better qualified female candidates in order to keep their male to female ratios closer to 50/50 instead of the dreaded 60/40, no women are suing.

It’s an interesting article, if you can get access to it, lots to think about.

But what it’s got me wondering about is where are all the bright guys?

Are men getting rapidly and progressively stupider?  That seems unlikely.

Are men finding shitloads of good paying jobs that don’t require college degrees?  This also seems unlikely.

Is college suddenly so terrible men cannot be persuaded to go?  Again, considering how much of college is billed as drinking and having sex, I doubt it.

I think the explanation is that we’re failing boys long before they go to college.

I want to be clear, too, of course.  I don’t think the solution to a decline in male college-goers is to screw over female college-goers.  There are enough spots to go around.  And I don’t think it does us as a society any good to cut off opportunities for well-qualified women in order to leave room for less well-qualified men.

But, if half the population in general is men, then it seems that, all things being equal, roughly half the population in college should be men and, if it isn’t, then all things must not be equal.

Are we overmedicating boys?  Are they suffering more under the “teach to the test” nonsense?  Have we instilled in boys this idea that, if they can’t be the best, they might as well not bother?

Men, give us some insights here.  Why aren’t y’all going to college?

If Only Dwayne Johnson Would Smother Me With His Obese Ass

Ooo, this is fun.  This story comes via NiT, who got it via Freedonian, who got it via Coble over at Music City Bloggers.*

I admit, I hadn’t previously considered the insurance company angle to the BMI, but I will be mulling that over.

Here’s what I don’t get.  Why don’t we, instead of focusing on the BMI, focus on a set of health standards.

If you’re a healthy, able-bodied adult you ought to be able to, say, walk for an hour at a normal pace without being winded or able to exercise aerobically for thirty minutes without feeling like dying afterwards or something.  And you ought to be getting however many servings of vegetables a day and so many hours of sleep.

You know what I mean?  Set real standards that would benefit everyone across the board instead of using weight as a stand-in.  I don’t need to know what a “healthy” body looks like.  I want to have a guide to having a healthy life.

It makes me highly suspicious of the motives of the federal government that they’d rather focus on that number (the BMI) than on real things that would benefit a lot of people.

*I feel a little remiss for not saying anything about the ongoing shake-up at NiT.  I thought I didn’t really have anything to say about it and then I got an email from Christian Grantham asking if I’d like to take some days over there.

That made me feel like I should be clear.

So, let me be.  I have nothing against NiT.  In fact, just as my own opinion, I really am enjoying having both NiT and Music City Bloggers.  On MCB, I have a lot of voices I’ve come to love and respect over the years and lord knows I’d pay good money to read Roger Abramson AND over at NiT, I’m getting a kick out of William and Alison (and even Nemesis Girl).  If the defection of a large stable of writers from NiT means that WKRN goes out and finds new voices and gives them a shot, well, hell, I’m all for that.

But if Christian Grantham thinks that he and I are on good terms, that he can write me and ask me for favors… Good god, man, are you nuts?  We’re not okay.  A year ago, you may have thought you were just riling up the locals in order to make a name for yourself that you could then parlay into better things and that such behavior was okay (Here and here for those of you playing along at home), but I thought it sucked.

And I, being the local so riled, have not forgotten.  I find that behavior dishonorable and your handling of the whole situation to be so disingenuous that I feel an almost spiritual duty to have nothing to do with you.

How could you not notice?

So, yes, as long as you’re the one responsible for NiT, Grantham, NiT should not ask me for help.

When Nemesis Girl (I’m trying to act on good faith that these are all different people–Nemesis Girl, Alison, William–and not avatars of Grantham, but I actually have very little faith in that being the case) says, “What used to be a priority for bloggers seems now to have settled into the option category.    NiT brought community together, through the incredible, insightful, and talented Miss G.” I hear that and my heart does go out to NiT, because it’s hard to watch something I care about flounder.  But NiT worked because, regardless of what you thought of Brittney, you felt like there was a genuine person behind the scenes, working with NiT’s best interests at heart (even if she screwed up sometimes, even if people disagreed with her about what NiT’s best interests were).

My interactions with Grantham online and off have not led me to believe that he’s a genuine person and I have no confidence that he has NiT’s best interest at heart.

That, more than anything, is what scares me for NiT.  Not all the defections, not the Music City Bloggers, not the change in upper management at WKRN–but that the man pulling the strings on NiT now has never given any indication that he actually has any interest in this community or desire to foster continuing good will.

(Yes, I am still pissed about my dog.  Let that be a lesson, when it comes to her, I hold a grudge.)

I Vote for “Smothered Under the Bodies of the Dead Dogs He’s Responsible For”

Sadly, I am not Queen of the Universe or I would sentence Michael Vick and his cohorts to be smothered to death under the bodies of the dead dogs they are responsible for.

I believe that, when we die, if we go on, we become completely aware of the results of our lives here on earth.  Every good deed that ripples out ten people will be a joy to us.  Every hurt will be a pain.  I sometimes need to believe that because I want to believe that some day, even if not in this lifetime, anyone who would be a part of something that resulted in the deaths of dogs “by hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground” would have to bear the whole weight of his actions.

But most of the time, I guess I believe they get away with it, not just legally, I mean, it doesn’t weigh on their consciences.  And I just don’t understand that.  My dog will curl up next to me in bed.  She seems to smile when she sticks her head out the car window.  She whines when the cat is laying in the middle of the room and won’t get up so that she can get past.  If you’re laying on the couch, she wants to get up there and lay next to you.

footballfans.jpg 

You see what I’m saying?  How could you not find this footballfans.jpgfootballfans.jpg(see photo) a better use for you dog than fighting it?  The Commercial Appeal calls it

a phase that has made it a status symbol in neighborhoods where violence and intimidation are valued, cooperation and generosity are signs of weakness and guns and gangs are rampant.

Even the very young have been infected with the attitude that intimidating others with an angry animal on the end of a leash is a way to acquire respect.

If that’s so, then we are a fucked up culture indeed.

Detective C. R. Beals of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says “there are people who are animal lovers who would do everything up to and including put a bullet into some of these clowns” and I have to say, if I were on the jury of someone who shot a dog fighter, it would be nearly impossible for me to find her guilty.

Here’s another good one of Mrs. Wigglebottom.  Again, if you could look that in the face and then put it in harm’s way, I question whether you have a soul.

dogdriversmall.jpg

Three Posts on the From Dusk Till Dawn series? That Tickles Me.

I have been working hard all lunch hour to come up with fine refutations to Mack’s assertion that I’m reading too much into the “From Dusk Till Dawn” franchise.

I have the script.

I have screen shots and more screen shots.

I’ve got the screen writer saying “It [the front of the vampire bar] literally looks in some ways like the entrance to Hell.” and a screen shot of the entrance of the club looking very much like a stylized vagina. Here’s Clooney standing in front of another yonic door.

The screenplay says “Seth stands where he was, limp dick of a .45 in his hand” and we see another weapon standing in metaphorically for a penis.

If you don’t believe there’s some subtext going on there, especially when the woman dances around with a snake (!) and then begins to kill people, I just don’t know what to say to you.

Especially because I think the difference of opinion goes deeper than that.  Either a text is just what it is–utilitarian, hard working, earnest–or, well, ha, that’s it really, isn’t it?  Is literature in Earnest or is it Bunburying–pretending to be one thing in the countryside and quite another thing in London?  Are things at play or are they not?

If you believe things are at play, then it’s easy enough to watch a shitty Tarantino movie and enjoy it at its Earnest level–what you believe you see plainly before you–and also for any Bunburying that you might do–finding, for instance, vulvas all over the place, things being penetrated by phalluses in response to the threat of the all encompassing female sexuality, etc.  It’s not hard work.  It’s play.  You are playing because the text is playing with you.

Endless possibilities.

But if the text is in Earnest, then there’s just one right Meaning and thinking about that Meaning is hard work.

I side with Play, even if it means I might “marry into a cloakroom and form an alliance with a parcel.”

There are worse fates.

I’m Not Going Any Place that Charges You Six Dollars for a Burger and Extra for Fries

Lee seems to have been thinking a lot about things feminists might not especially want to hear.  I can only assume that’s because he’s also giving a lot of thought to what kinds of sweet-nothings to whisper in our ears.

On that list, I hope he includes:

1.  “No, no, you stay there and finish watching Divine Design.  I’ll take care of the dishes.”

and

2.  “Do I make this donation out to ‘Planned Parenthood’ or ‘Planned Parenthood of America’?”

and

3.  “Woman, I am terrified.  Why is this house shaking?”

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is Our Neighbor!

We were out walking again this morning and ran into the Staffywe saw the other day.  We had some time to talk as Mrs. Wigglebottom had managed to snap her collar in order to get a better sniff at his butt and so I had to take a moment to put it back together and get it back on her.

So, it turns out that the Staffy belongs to the new folks right next door.  We hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them except for their vehicle.  But it turns out that they have a cool dog.  He’s two and a half.  He’s got Mrs. Wigglebottom’s coloring and stands shorter and squattier than her.

So, that’s neat.  I should get a picture.

Two pitbulls in the same building.  I feel safer already.

The Thrill of Shitty Movies

Fuck it.  I had a post all written called “My Name is Not Jesus and I Never Promised I’d Be Perfect” all about some bullshit that’s been annoying me, but I can’t bring myself to finish it because I keep losing interest.

The truth is that it seems to be human nature to make up standards you expect particular people to hold to and then to get pissed when they don’t.  And what can you do about it if you’re the person who’s being held to the undisclosed standards?  Not much.

So, you know, what the fuck?

Instead, I want to talk about why I love shitty movies, because, boys and girls, I do love me some shitty movies.

Seriously, I could sit through four shitty made-for-Sci-Fi channel movies before I sat through, say, “Steel Magnolias” even once.

And why?

Because I suspect that shitty movies are kind of expressions of our collective desires and anxieties and, because they’re so shitty, they don’t pretend to be anything other than that.

Take the “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” movies, especially the one I watched last night.  It doesn’t take a film degree to see that those movies are about the dangers of misreading or misinterpreting a situation.  One doesn’t have to be a genius to see that they’re about anxiety about women’s sexuality.

And so, it seems to me that, because you can dismiss so easily with figuring out what the subtext is, you can spend more time trying to figure out what’s going on in the subtext.  What exactly, for instance, is it about women’s sexuality that is so anxiety producing?

In the “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” movies, having sex or wanting to have sex makes men vulnerable to the point of death.  Women are draining and not what they seem.  They can devour you and turn you into something you aren’t normally.  They come between men.

Those aren’t hard themes to spot.

I don’t have to think too hard in order to be rewarded.  And I don’t have to wonder if I’m right because the truth is pretty self-evident.

From Dusk Til Dawn III

So, last night I was watching From Dusk til Dawn III and I have questions.

1.  It wouldn’t take much to make this a better movie, so why didn’t they?

2.  Ambrose Bierce.  Why did he see his doppleganger in the bar?

3.  Why, in a movie so nicely beautiful, are the vampires so ugly and cheesy?

4.  What was the boy Christian’s back story?  I ended up liking him.

5.  I totally missed the girl outlaw’s death.  When did that happen?

6.  Just Ambrose Bierce in general.  Who disappears in Chihuahua, Mexico?  It just seems unseemly.

Marriage as Sacrifice

This morning, as I was walking Mrs. Wigglebottom around the neighborhood and contemplating various things, I got to wondering about gay marriage.

If churches would still be able to define marriage any way they wanted–marriage in our church must be between Catholics only; marriages in our church must be between members only; we frown on interracial marriages; we disapprove of second marriages; etc.–then what does it matter how the state defines marriage?

How, exactly, is a secular straight marriage “ruined” by a secular gay marriage?

I had an idea, though, on my walk about tattoos.

There was a time not so long ago when people who had tattoos were outside of the mainstream of society in some way.  They were bikers or Marines or carnies or whatever.  The point is that they were doing something most people didn’t do and it made them visibly special.

The tattoo had meaning not just because of what it looked like, or the pain withstood in order to get one, but because having one set you apart.  It meant that you were a badass, willing to sacrifice in order to wear that ink.

Nowdays, tattoos are ubiquitous.  If your grandma goes out and gets a tattoo, you might think it’s cool or you might not like it, but you don’t think that your grandma has gone off and become a carnie.

On the one hand, the rise in popularity of the tattoo is nice, because it means that people who wanted tattoos before but didn’t want to send the “badass” message can now get them.  But on the other hand, it clearly means that the “badass” message is not completely obvious when one sees a tattoo.

I wonder how much of this feeds into our thoughts on marriage (not just gay marriage, but open marriage, and polygamy).  If marriage is, to many of the people in it, a sign of sacrifice, “Yes, I gave up other sex partners and I stopped looking for other loves and I pushed out of my mind the question of whether I’m happy with you or could have been happy with someone of my same gender and I have made a commitment to you that I will try to keep until we are both dead, whether or not I still love you at that point–I made this commitment that means I gave up other shit I might have liked better,” then it has value because of that sacrifice.

Do you see what I’m saying?

I think, for many people, marriage is not just a sign of their commitment to their partner, but also a sign of them turning their back on other possibilities.  And that turning their back seems like a noble sacrifice.

But if we understand straight marriage in this way, I think we can start to understand the opposition to gay marriage. 

Why is gay marriage a threat to straight marriage?

One, because it suggests that you don’t have to sacrifice major parts of yourself in order to be married.  Not to get sidetracked but can’t you see how the “marriage as great sacrifice” meme gets played out every time some jackass says, “Gays can get married.  They can marry women just like the rest of us.”?  In other words, since marriage is not first and foremost about love and caring for the person you’re with, but instead about sacrifice, why can’t gay people just make great sacrifice, too?  But if gay people can marry who they want without having to sacrifice great parts of themselves, it suggests that no one has to do that.  Marry who you want; make arrangements that suit you.

But two, and I believe that two, though it goes hand in hand with one, is more crucial for understanding the secular opposition to gay marriage, two is that, if people can marry who they want in arrangements that please them, I believe it makes straight people who thought that marriage was about sacrifice feel incredibly stupid.  Here they were making choices that were designed to show how much they were willing to offer up to marriage, even if it meant that they’d be vaguely unhappy most of their lives, when all along they could have chosen to marry who they wanted and worked out an arrangement that pleased them.

And people will tolerate a lot, but they don’t tolerate feeling like they’ve been made fools of.  And what would be more foolish than to marry in order to show your willingness to sacrifice the things that made you happy when you could have married because you are delighted in the person you’re marrying?

Three O’Clock Dessert

Last night I was asking a real German (not like Kleinheider and me who are German in grouchiness only) about how the Pennsylvania Dutch will sometimes serve you chocolate cake before dinner, which I think is the most awesome thing ever, because it means you have room for dessert, when he (the German, not Kleinheider) explained that, where he’s from in Germany, on special occasions, you’ll eat lunch at noon and have a lavish dessert at three o’clock and then dinner at eight.

This idea of a lavish three o’clock dessert is so exciting to me that I immediately took the Professor out to Calhoun’s to celebrate my German heritage by eating chocolate cake in the middle of the afternoon in order to celebrate the Professor’s moving.

She is a little stressed out by the move.

I am, I’m embarrassed to say, kind of happy because, in the course of talking about the move, she revealed that she believes she’ll be here in Nashville another two years at least.

Two more years of having the Professor right here in town.  That’s an indulgence best celebrated with three o’clock dessert.