Pop Culture Question

Why is it that my evil twin–who has a goatee–is easily mistaken for me, even with the facial hair and the complete change in personality, but Clark Kent takes off his glasses and he’s a different person?

It’s fairly easy for me to take off my glasses. I am doing it right now.

But it would be hard for me to grow a goatee in a short amount of time.

It’s strange.

And what if Superman grew a goatee? Then would it be obvious he was Clark Kent?

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Eastwood

I said this a little on Twitter last night, but here’s the thing about Eastwood and Rice at the Convention that’s important to not overlook. They were not about playing to the base. Nor were they really on stage, it didn’t seem to me, to appeal to potential voters.

I think they were a message to the base about what a viable future of the Republican party has to look like. You can be racist, but it has to be a la Archie Bunker, not “throw peanuts at a black person.” You can be an enormous cheerleader for war/war criminal, but it has to be based on policy not on religion. Plus, Rice and Eastwood are both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. And represent a kind of multicultural comfort with the nation as it is, not a nostalgia for how we imagine it was sixty years ago.

Someone was using old, familiar faces to make an argument for the fresh direction the Party has to take it if wants to survive.

That’s why I can’t really dog on Eastwood’s chair thing. I thought it was weird, but, on the other hand, when was the last time we saw a Republican modeling actual discussion with the President? That’s kind of refreshing. It might not have worked quite right, and it, I don’t think, caused anyone to decide they weren’t going to vote for Obama.

But I don’t think that was the point. I think it was a painful point delivered to the Republicans sitting there about the direction the Party needs to take, camouflaged as a piece of performance art about the direction voters need to take.

Damn It, Tater Red

Once upon a time, the SuperGenius and I went to Memphis and got drunk and I accosted Tater Red about… something… I just remember being so sure I was right, but I cannot for the life of me remember what I was attempting to impart to this complete stranger. Or why. This, kids, is why getting drunk in Memphis is not wise. And it’s Memphis. If you want to sleep in the back of a leaky VW bus on Beale Street sober, you totally can.

Well, you can’t anymore. But you used to be able to.

This was not the VW trip, though, obviously. That was a million years ago.

This was more recently, within the past decade. And yet, who knows why I was so angry at Tater Red? Was I angry? Or just passionate? I just don’t know.

I’m hoping the Super Genius can remind me. I would have thought I wrote about it here, but I guess not.

But yesterday, Beth, knowing my love of Robert Johnson, sent me a link to this story. And there, in the second video, was Tater Red! Clearly, I should not have been drunkenly accosting Tater Red, but drunkenly celebrating our mutual love of Robert Johnson.

And here’s the weird thing. When I typed “Tater Red” into the search engine up there on the right, to see if I had mentioned him at all here, ever, this post came up. No mention of Tater Red in it, but there’s old Bob.

And can you believe I ever wrote anything so beautiful as

But then we came over the hill and there was my favorite stretch of road, fully puddled. And as we walked through the shallow water, the trees seemed to stretch down beneath us towards another sky in another world mirrored below us. For a moment, it felt like all that was keeping us from falling into that vast sky below was that we were standing on the feet of two folks on a walk in that world, who, when I looked down at them, were looking back at me just as curious.

?

Shoot, I should have just retired right after that. Mrs. Wigglebottom still annoys me sometimes, but I feel worse about it now, like I’m wasting our brief time wanting her to be different than she is. The truth is that she’s already over there more often than not. She sleeps so hard and she stands in the living room, distracted by something internal–a memory, maybe, a voice from some other place calling her–when I want her to go outside. I don’t think she’s in any pain or anything, though she eats a lot less than she used to. But she’s obviously practicing so she’s ready when Death finally calls her name.

I hope I did okay by her. If there’s someone who keeps track of how girls treat their dogs, I hope she reports that her experience was mostly pleasant. And I hope she just goes in her sleep. And goes someplace where, when she dreams, it’s of our time together.

Anyway, I made up this joke this morning and shared it on Facebook and then laughed and laughed. It goes like this:

A guy is getting ready to murder a Methodist, and, obviously, the Methodist is really upset. “Wait, wait,” he says, “Can I just sing one hymn before you kill me?”

The murderer thinks about it. I mean, he’s a murderer, but he’s not a bad guy. “Yeah, I guess.”

“The whole hymn? Start to finish?” The Methodist asks.

“Sure,” the murderer says.

The Methodist takes a deep breath and starts, “O, for a thousand tongues to sing…”

That’s a Charles Wesley joke. I’d bet there’s not a comedian alive making those. It’s special, folks. Ha ha ha.

Isaac

I know it’s probably not unusual, in the scheme of things, for a hurricane to get kind of stuck some place, but in the time I’ve lived here, I’ve grown used to them moving fairly quickly. If one comes ashore in the western part of the Gulf on Tuesday evening, we usually have the remnants of it as a tropical storm by Friday night.

And yet, here we are at Thursday and Isaac is still hovering over the same spot in Louisiana. That’s really bad.

We’re seeing some clouds here from it, but these are still reaching finger clouds. The monster sits far over the horizon.

That is another thing I didn’t really get about hurricanes until I moved down here. They are so enormous. I mean, I live far, far from the ocean. We’re a good ten hour drive from the Gulf of Mexico, at least. And a storm in Louisiana and Mississippi is so massive that we have fringe clouds from it.

Fretting about History’s Ghosts

So, I got in touch with Alyssa Rosenberg and she said I could totally use “History’s ghosts are powerful. Those who dare summon them should be clear about what they want, and be prepared for the consequences.” as an epigraph for Remind Me of the Dreaming Dead as long as it’s clear she said it.

I am, of course, back to fretting about the book, though my fretting is pretty amorphous. I can’t really hone in on exactly what about it is making me anxious today, just that I feel like I should be doing something… anything… to make it better. But since I’m not really sure what that “anything” would be, I just need to sit down and shut up and wait for the beta readers to finish up.

So much of life is teaching you the things you never wanted to learn. And I am afraid that I’m not a very good writer. No, that’s not exactly it. That would be something. I’m afraid that I am trying my very hardest and falling two inches short. But because this is the best I can do, I will never have it in me to clear those final two inches.

That scares the shit out of me. And yet, you know, I can’t stop trying, because that scares the shit out of me worse–that I could make it, because I’m so close, except I gave up.

Things and, Oh, You know, Just Rivers Running Backwards, No Biggie

–So, overnight, the Mississippi ran backwards.

–“History’s ghosts are powerful. Those who dare summon them should be clear about what they want, and be prepared for the consequences.” Do you think it’s too late to add that as an epigraph to the Sue Allen project?

–Apparently, I should have just bought some reviews for A City of Ghosts or something. How is this remotely ethical? How does that not result in Amazon reviews you simply can’t trust?

–The Professor, excuse me, Dr. Professor, ruined my lunch by sending me this quote, “I believe that if you have to choose between new life and existing life, you should choose new life. The person who has had an opportunity to live at least has been given that gift by God and should make way for new life on earth.” This is Paul Weyrich explaining why it’s totally cool to let moms die. And this is pro-life. I am convinced women do not count as life in some circles.

–I will give you a dollar if you can explain to me how

Carr, who is a delegate at the convention, was summarized Tuesday in a publication called the Memphis Flyer as saying that he agreed with Akin that women are capable of terminating pregnancies after being raped.

He denied saying that on Tuesday.

can be immediately followed by

“I understand there is a body of scientific evidence out there that suggests that a woman who has been violently raped has some biological mechanism that may inhibit her ability to conceive,” Carr said.

and make a lick of sense. Are reporters really under the delusion that what Akin said is different than what Carr is saying? If Akin was actually implying that women could abort a pregnancy through sheer force of will–if anyone believed that–, conservative church services across this land would look a lot different. They believe abortion is wrong. There’s no “Unless you use witchcraft to bring it about” exception.

The Problem with “Small Business Owners”

The Butcher and I watched some of the RNC until I begged him to turn it. I thought everyone did fine, what I saw of it. They were obviously fairly successfully walking a thin line by trying to prove that women are Republicans without bringing up any unpleasantness about why they might feel the need to prove such a thing.

But the Butcher and I were talking about how hard they kept hitting the “small business owner” talking point. Romney needs working class white people to vote for him. They are not business owners. They work for business owners. And here’s the problem Romney has–think of your own jobs you’ve had. For every business owner you’ve worked with, who was behind the counter with you or stocking shelves or running some day-to-day part of the business that seemed as difficult as what you were doing, how many did you have who were rarely on-site or who sat at their desks farting around on the internet all day or who had an administrative assistant who really seemed to run the joint?

Or worse yet, how many of you worked some place where you, doing the manual labor, didn’t have air conditioning, but the front offices did?

Working class people don’t have any problem voting for the small business owner who is running the bobcat while you’re pouring concrete. They don’t want to vote for the guy who’s playing solitaire in the air conditioned office while they’re sweating their asses off in the warehouse.

And the Butcher strongly felt like almost everyone they put on stage was an air-conditioned person and it was a mistake to keep reminding voters of it by referring to them as small business owners.

I can’t say I disagree with him. But I don’t know how it will play. We have a strong desire in this country to believe we are better than someone. It may be possible to get voters to throw their lots in with people they hate in real life if only to prove that they are not like those poor people on welfare.

I don’t know.

The Question I Ask This Morning

In the time we’ve lived here, two different houses on our side of the street have gotten robbed. One twice.  We have some junk of ours in the garage. It is filthy because it was in a ceiling collapse and now it’s sitting in the garage. But it is of sentimental value and could appear to have actual value.

When Mrs. Wigglebottom and I were out on our walk this morning, I noticed either two sets of tracks going from Lloyd to the general direction of the back of our house or one set of tracks coming and going.

The garage door is pretty well barricaded from the outside. My question is, do I barricade it from the inside and just leave out the front door?

Or do I assume one of our neighbors was walking even earlier than us?

Let’s Raise a Toast to Sherry Jones

First, Joe Carr shoots off his mouth:

Carr would explain later on that he agreed with Akin that women did indeed possess certain biological means to close themselves off against pregnancy in cases of violent rape. He further thought that Republicans had no business telling a bona fide Republican primary winner what to do.

Then Sherry Jones calls a rat’s ass a rat’s ass:

Rep. Joe Carr has shown today what many of the women in the General Assembly have known for a long time—he is completely and totally unfit for office. Claiming that women’s bodies possess the ability to “close themselves off” from pregnancy in cases of violent rape is not only biologically inaccurate, it is offensive to each and every Tennessee woman who has ever been the victim of rape. Tennessee Republicans are continuing their march to the extreme ideological right at the expense of our mothers, daughters, wives and sisters. It’s time for Rep. Joe Carr to apologize for his ignorant remark and for the Tennessee Republicans to end the war on women.

And then Carr tried to weasel out of the mess:

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, denied telling a reporter that he agreed with U.S. Rep. Todd Akin’s theory that victims of “legitimate rape” seldom carry pregnancies to term, but he stood by his position that the Akin should not be pressured to leave the Missouri Senate race.

The Memphis Flyer reported this morning that Carr told its correspondent to the Republican National Convention that he believes pregnancies terminate automatically after a rape, a medical fiction sometimes advanced by opponents of abortion. The remark — which the Flyer summarized and did not quote directly — came after a lunchtime speech by GOP strategist Frank Luntz in which Luntz asked members of the Tennessee delegation to demonstrate by show of hands whether they agree Akin should step aside.

See that “telling a reporter” nonsense? Baker doesn’t say that Carr told him that he agreed with Aiken, just that he said it later. So, in actuality, Carr doesn’t deny saying it, just denies saying it to Baker.

So weaselly. So hilariously weaselly.

Anyway, Sherry Jones. I want to high-five her. I wish I could vote for her.

A Light in August

There’s this way, when the sky is just the right kind of overcast in the morning, that the flowers in the back yard have this almost translucent glow. Today, with the early hints of Isaac hanging above, I saw the morning glories in all their vibrant blue glory. Some of them are working their way up the black-eyed susans, which, you know, is not a gardening victory of any real sort, but I love how the blue and yellow look against each other. I love how the blue of the morning glory is actually, if you look closely, three blues. I think the shape of the morning glory is just about perfect–part trumpet, part fairy hat, part flamenco dress.

So, I stopped my car and ran out to get a picture of this.

And now I think, the actual interesting bit of information I could share with you is in the green dagger of the morning glory’s leaves. See how vibrant that is? When I’m getting a migraine, that is how all greens look. Like better than real life.

Divorcing Your Parents

I was telling the Butcher about Tom Smith and he was like “Oh, the guy who thinks getting pregnant from a rape is just as bad as getting pregnant out of wedlock?”

“Yeah, that dude.”

“You know, I was thinking about how much it must suck to be his daughter.”

“I know, right? Imagine discovering that a person who might someday be called on to make medical decisions for you–like if you’re in a car accident or something–can’t tell the difference between you having sex because you want to and when you’re raped, because both are embarrassing to him.”

“Can she divorce him?”

And you know, I don’t think there’s a legal mechanism to sever familial bonds like that. But then I was thinking about how some gay families still face instances where, even though they’ve tried to set up all these legal contracts that would force the world to treat them like they’re married in places they legally can’t be, some douchebag family member will still swoop in and try to claim the ability to make medical decisions or to inherit instead of the loved on.

It might be a useful legal mechanism to be able to say “No, these people have no ability to make decisions on my behalf. They cannot inherit from me.”

And then, on MSNBC, a commentator named Krystal Ball began to speak and the second her name appeared on our screen, the Butcher said, “See? There’s another person who needs parental divorce.”

The New Kitty Will Look into Your Soul and then Eat You

I was trying to get a picture of the new kitty draped across the back of the couch like some weird bear-skin rug, two legs on each side of the back of the couch, her tail stretched along the top. It’s so adorable that, if captured on camera, it would cause the viewer to literally die of cuteness. Which, um, I guess means I just admitted to trying to premeditatedly trying to kill my readers, which, in retrospect seems like a bad strategy for a blogger.

Shit, well, no wonder bloggers get no respect.

Anyway, I was attempting to take this adorable photo when the new kitty was all, “Oh, you should totally pet me.” And that was the end of that. I did manage to get this photo. Please note how her paws are in the “making biscuits” position. This is how you know she’s serious about wanting to eat whatever you are eating–she makes biscuits and stares into your soul, as if willing you to obey her every thought. Since I wasn’t eating anything, I can only assume this was an early salvo in her attempts to eat me.

I thought I was the only person in the house who noticed how unbelievably adorable the new kitty has been being lately. But then, yesterday, I got this text. (Please note, this text came from the other end of the couch upon which I was sitting.)

Also, warning: you will die.

Sleep Well

These past two nights have been the best sleep I’ve had in ages. I don’t know if it’s just the weather turning or luck or what, but man, I slept like it was for a medal.

And yesterday, I didn’t do shit. I bummed around with the Butcher all day. No clean bathroom, no clean kitchen. The living room is still empty.

It was nice.

Ministers’ Kids

I ran into a minister’s kid this weekend who told me that she’s convinced, most of the time, that there’s no god. Atheism in the rest of the world doesn’t bother me. If you’re reading this and you’re an atheist and you’re not a minister’s kid, believe me, I don’t give a rat’s ass–as we apparently say down here. It’s a legitimate conclusion to draw about the world.

But I hate hearing it from ministers’ kids, though I do. Not because I’m particularly worried about their souls, but because being a minister’s kid is not easy and becoming an atheist means you must, by definition, believe your parents put you through that either because they were deluded or con artists.

The con artist thing may be easier to make peace with. But believing that your parents are deluded?

It’s basically giving up on any ability to have a functioning relationship with them. Think of it this way–if you believe you were abducted by aliens, I can be your friend and respect you without your alien abduction beliefs coming into play. There’s nothing about the fact that you believe you were abducted by aliens that would require me to be on constant guard against you.

But if you believe that you were abducted by aliens and they required you to make me do things I didn’t want to do, we obviously couldn’t hang out. How could I be sure at any moment that you weren’t going to suddenly be called on through some mechanism I can’t vet to make me do things I don’t want to do?

I think there are probably atheist ministers’ kids who are fine with being atheists. And, as such, it may never come up in conversation with me. After all, you just can’t be saying shit like that. Even as an adult, it puts your parent’s job at risk. And we all know how to protect the job, by habit.

But the people I hear from are usually in the middle of a basic existential crisis. They don’t want to be atheists. They just don’t know how to reconcile the fact that no One rescued them with the existence of Someone who is omnipotent. In a way, they feel like what they’ve been told about God is the means by which God, who was important to them, has been stolen from them.

I find that upsetting.

I toyed around with writing a survival guide for ministers’ kids when I was in college. I’m kind of glad I didn’t, though, because the truth is, I don’t know. You just do. Is there a way to survive it with your faith intact, without then becoming a minister yourself?

I guess I’m starting to think not. No matter what, it looks like you’re going to go through some kind of loss and grieving process. Some folks find their way back from that.

And the rest of us don’t.

Some Kind of Fairy Tale

This is a book where the description I heard of it ages ago–it’s about a girl who disappeared 20 years ago when she was 16 and she returns to her family thinking only six months have passed–is exactly true and yet so inadequate to the task of telling you what the book is about that I didn’t recognize it as that book.

This book suffers from a strange problem in that all of it is good, but parts of it are so brilliant that it makes the good parts seem kind of “eh” by comparison. The whole part with the missing chick’s nephew and his old-lady-next-door-neighbor and her cat that he accidentally kills is just one of the most amazing things I’ve ever read. Which made the whole “and so why would this character, who spent the whole book chasing this character, suddenly be flirting with this other character?” thing really stand out. Whereas I’m not sure it would have bothered me in a lesser book.

And Joyce (the author) does a really brilliant things with the epigrams on the chapters , that are just kind of a subtle way of increasing the tension and giving you backstory without intruding on this really tight narrative.

So, I liked it, but I felt bad for the main character because she never got laid. The old lady did, though.

Hillbillies

I wish someone would look at this for ICMC, because I’m very curious to know if you could map the general public’s interest in “rednecks” as cautionary tales to any particular trends in country music itself. I just think that it’s not quite enough to point out that country music kind of got its start as an actual thing during one of these hillbilly-interest booms. I want to know what we might see if we look to see what’s popular in country music every time this happens.

Because, I have to tell you, I suspect we’d find–just before the wave of “hur hur, look at those dumb hillbillies” culturally, a wave of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” I could be wrong, but I think you’d see some kind of initial stressor–across the whole culture, to which the country music genre responded by making “We out here are fine and it’s awesome” music, to which the broader culture responded “Look at those dumbasses.”

It’s not about kicking “hillbillies” while they’re down, I don’t think. I think it’s about kicking them when they’re trying to stand up.

On Rats’ Asses

Oh, Jim Summerville.

I have thoughts. None of them are “What kind of jackass would do this?” because, obviously, Jim Summerville would. But mostly I’m curious to watch how this played out among Republicans.

Y’all know that I’ve long thought that a certain, rather large faction, seemed to have made no plans for how to actually lead, since they were busy trying to figure out how to both be on top and to frame themselves as underdogs rallying against their overwhelming enemies. And you know that I’ve long thought that there are some Republicans who seem to be disappointed that they are only the overwhelming victors and that they are not capable of punishing their enemies by completely and utterly ruining their lives.

And I think Summerville has often positioned himself in these two camps–both as the plain-spoken defender of what’s right against the forces of immorality and as someone who believes he should get to punish his enemies.

But it seems like that’s a fine line for a party to walk. The Republicans knew they had voters on their side to redistrict and to undo some (seemingly) unfair Democratic practices (I put seemingly in parentheses because I think they took the opportunity to both undo some unfair practices and to undo some that could just be spun as unfair. I think both of those things are to be expected.). They made some pretty radical changes to education. And even with all that, there is still a small, but really vocal minority that wants even more.

But the line the Republicans have to walk is that you can only tear down so much before you have to turn the corner and govern. If you can’t make that pivot, you’re going to lose your moneyed backers. And you’re going to lose moderate voters.

So, what’s interesting to me is watching Dolores Gresham show such self-assured leadership (no, that’s really not a sentence I ever thought I’d be typing). If there was any dithering, it happened so far behind the scenes I’ve caught no whiff of it. And it happened so quickly that it seemed like she heard about it, gave the situation some careful consideration, and then did what needed to be done.

People, that’s more than the Governor has managed to do in his first term. Let that sink in. Dolores Gresham has out-led the governor.

But, anyway, I’ve got my eye on this. Some Republicans are doing a good job of turning that corner (or at least looking like it). Others, obviously, not so much. It’s going to be an interesting session.

Headache Victory

The main difference for me between a migraine and a regular headache, aside from duration and funky drugged feeling, is that nothing except Excedrin Migraine will touch a migraine and I can’t drive after I’ve taken it until I’ve slept some, so, if I get a migraine at work, I just have to live with it. But a regular headache can be vanquished with regular old pain killers.

Mid-morning today I got a headache which was so terrible and painful that I was like “Another migraine?! What the fuck, week?” and I set my head in my hands to weep a little. At which point, I noticed that, if I pressed on my head, the pain stopped. Which meant this headache was not a migraine at all, but just a really bad regular headache, which could be vanquished by the shit in my purse.

And so it was!

I find migraines really fascinating, frankly, and would like to read some kind of popular science book on them. Because the one I had this week lasted for over three days. Only one of those days involved any pain, but I spent two and a half days being tired and yucky, while also feeling like everything just felt so awesome. The sun shining on me, it felt like I could literally feel every single ray, every particle, hitting my skin. When I washed my hands, the water rolling over them felt almost like the energy you get when you hold hands with someone you love. Everything seemed kind of pleasantly swaying and looked brighter.

Oh, and there are huge cognitive changes, too. I can read just fine, but I have no number recall. Like, if I’m either having a migraine or in that trippy weird time around it, I can’t count and I can’t remember numbers–like my zip code or my phone number. I think this is why I can’t count. It’s not that I don’t know what comes next. I think if I saw a 10, I’d know that 11 comes next. But it’s literally like I can’t access the last number to know where I am.

Which was fun on Monday because I had to go to the bank and drop books off, both of which required telling the people at the bank and at the bookstore the amount of things I was giving them. And I frankly had no idea if the amount I thought I was giving them corresponded to the actual amount. Thankfully, everyone was very cool about recounting for me.

The other thing I’ve noticed both as I get older and since I’ve gone on the pill is that the pain from my migraines is a lot less incapacitating–even though it lasts forever, which is annoying–but the trippy weird time grows. When I was younger, a migraine could just slam on–like one moment I’d be fine and the next moment I’d be in so much pain I had to throw up. It could often leave just as quickly. But now I spend a lot of time not having a headache but feeling kind of nauseous and pleasantly connected to the world.

I’d like to understand more about what’s going on there. It’s almost like, for me, a migraine is the volume on the world turned up so loud that it hurts, but the time I spend with the world being more intense than usual, before it gets too loud or as it goes back down from being too loud, is not without its interesting parts and that time seems to be growing.

It’s like being stoned, a little. Almost hallucinatory. And I wonder what’s happening there and why.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

The thing I found most affecting about the new Patsy Cline exhibit down at the Hall of Fame is that they have a small collection of her salt and pepper shakers. I believe, if you have a grandma of this era, you would recognize such items. And that’s, I think, what made it so powerful. There’s a lot in the exhibit that is kind of about her career in her own words (and that’s really cool, too), but it’s the salt and pepper shakers that really just got me in the gut.

These people, some of whom are standing in this room, lost their mom and grandma.

It’ll break your heart, really, that sense of the missing grandma. There’s something immortal about Patsy Cline, the star. Ooo, there’s her dress and there’s her handwritten letter! But the salt and pepper shakers just don’t let you forget that there was a woman who should have sat at the end of the kitchen table laughing and listening to little girls’ gossip, who should have gotten to know if they would call her Grandma or Granny or whatever.

Ugh.

And there was Harold Bradley! So, that was nice.

Craig Havighurst Clarifies Things

Oh, people, this is a great post in general about our friend, Hank Jr. but I want to say that it hadn’t occurred to me that we’re watching a man on a four-year bender being an angry drunk while his fans cheer him on, but once Havighurst said it, it seems obvious.

And now this is the part that bothers me most. I mean, frankly, Hank’s just embarrassing himself and lying to his fans. Fine. But isn’t there a way where we’re almost at the GG Allin point here? Where folks are showing up solely to watch a dude self-destruct as a form of rebellion? To see who he’ll try to take down with him? To see if he’ll die?

That part breaks my heart.