Monday, June 30, 2008

long time, no see, bookslut

i haven't read a real book in ages and i can't drum up the energy to plan my reading the way other people do. so i depend on the recommendations of others.

like bookslut. this recommendation, however, is not the latest business manual from Fast Company.
but if you've always wanted to stick it to your boss, have at it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

how i feel today

Scene: Ding sitting with Roomie and Guest at Gibson's, after being stood up.
Ding: I'm so hungry I could eat a small child.
Roomie: Look at all the meat...mmm...
Ding: Hm. Maybe I could eat half a child.
Roomie: And the sides. Mmm. Asparagus?
Ding: Omigod. Hashbrowns. Ok, I could eat half a child, some hashbrowns and asparagus.
Roomie: They have strawberry shortcake.
Ding: Jesus. One third a child, hashbrowns, asparagus, and strawberry shortcake.
Guest: You guys always like this?
Roomie/Ding: Yes.
(later, halfway through a gorgeous Chicago cut steak, 1/2 order of hashbrowns and asparagus)
Roomie: Is it rude to suck on the bone?
Ding: Do it. Suck the bone.
(disapproving look from unhealthily skinny Asian woman at the next table. Fascinated stares from the business men across the aisle, watching me and Roomie feast like Henry 8th.)
Roomie: (sucking her steak bone) Mmm. I love meat.
Ding: I want to eat until my panties roll down.
Guest: (snorting out his wine) I don't think I've ever heard a girl say that.
Ding: Welcome to Chicago.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

asshat: karl rove

"Even if you never met him," Rove said, "You know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Clearly, if making snide comments was all that counted I guess that makes all of Gen X 'cooly arrogant.'

Rove's comment prompts some deep thoughts:

1. how many black people actually belong to a country club?
2. of those black people, how many would actually make snide comments about their fellow privileged country clubbers?
3. how many country clubs actually allow smoking?
4. since when does 'cooly arrogant' mean something bad when pop culture/literature/cinema tells us 'cooly arrogant' men are frakking hot?

A Few Cooly Arrogant Men We (ok, I) Have Loved:
Mr. Darcy
Captain Wentworth
Toby Stephens
Cary Grant
James Bond
Daniel Craig, James Bond
Pierce Brosnan, Thomas Crown
Steve McQueen
Rupert Everett
Omar Sharif
Peter O'Toole (when he was less cadaverous)
Jean Reno, Swept Away
George Clooney
Clive Owen
almost every Regency romance hero ever written
Bruce Willis
Severus Snape
Nick Charles
Mr. Tibbs
Han Solo
Spencer Tracy
Paul Henreid
Humphrey Bogart

In the meantime, the GOP needs to resolve their collective cognitive-Obama-dissonance if the best they can come up with is calling Obama a milk chocolate WASP.

(Feel free to add your own 'cooly arrogant' object of desire in comments - male or female, all are welcome.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

not far enough

it's thursday and i really must get some work done so i'll just throw up some links to some articles i think you should read against one another.

Liking What White People Like - TIME is a rather soft piece that falls apart a little trying to problematize the word 'white.' or something.

then we have the blog Stuff White People Do, which takes a slightly different view of the 'empowering' laughter at white culture.

at the same blog, there's a post up about the 'mask' of whiteness that, though i think it could have gone a little deeper, touches on an aspect of white performativity that is very different from What White People Like ever imagined. (it also has a rather revealing clip of a very angry woman who, perhaps, might want to rethink some things.)

and then there is this, Tim Wise's strongly-worded post about that very mask of whiteness slipping in some circles. (is Wise's tone a bit sharp? yes. how else to get people to pay attention to anti-racism work?) there is a (very) brief discussion of it on Bitch PhD, but it's funny how the whole whiteness conversation gets swallowed by a discussions of gender, class and a 'heard it before' discussion of electoral strategy.

anyway, carry on.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

summer of love, take 3

it's been a while since i shared what's going in the game called my social life: nothing.

the bench is empty, the players on the field are about to get traded.

B3 (who lasted until right before italy) is about to find out that i really wasn't kidding when i warned him about my intimacy issues - if only he'd answer his email.

B- (!!!), referencing a hot and naughty message i sent him LAST YEAR, sent me a message right before i boarded the plane to italy asking how i was; when i returned, i told him that particular boat of dysfunction had sailed. i kept it friendly! (yes, i have processed this with Dr. C- . with the help of a few friends, i have resisted the siren call of do-over sex with a person who makes my homicidal rage peak.)

and that's about it. sure, there are possibilities (Dr. Cop; Old Irish; NatureDude) but, for all intents and purposes, Ding's dancing card is blank.

i'm fine with it. really.

actually, i'm not, but whatever.

just for snarky, horrifying fun: crap email from a dude - Jezebel via Siddity (on my blogroll, silly.)

this, i could get behind: 'Genius'

Girls read comics » Adam Freeman and Genius.

As a comics reader, I have a certain love of superhero stories. What's not to love? Costumes, shoes, hot dudes, hot chicks, kick ass fighting, some great storylines. (Some. Not all.)

But I tend to like those comics that break the formula a little bit - like Powers. Or even those titles that aren't about capes and tights at all - like BPRD, The Losers, 100 Bullets or The Damned.

I'm sort of excited to read this new one, Genius. It asks what if the world's most formidable military genius was a girl gangbanger in South Central Los Angeles mounting a war against the LAPD?

I already like the art but my fingers are crossed that the story will give us a female character who is complex, ferocious and smart. (And not just a hot brown chick in a belly t-shirt carrying a gun.)

And if it's ever made into a movie and frakkin' Angelina Jolie is tapped to play her I will shoot myself. Swear. To. God.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

a belated father's day tribute to pastor john

Some of the photos I like most during this election season have been the ones showing Obama in the role of father. Images of him embracing his girls make my little adamantine heart sort of clench, you know?

I've written a lot about my dad on ChurchGal. He reads that site and has been incredibly gracious about standing in as my occasional straw man against which I throw my screeds and opinions.

If you looked at him today, with his distinguished gray hair, glasses and the goatee (that makes all the old ladies love him), you'd see an educated, charismatic older black man. A man who looks like he could be a jazzer or a popular philosophy professor at a city college. A man who looks comfortable wearing the collar of a reverend as well as the crazy red cashmere sweater-gym shorts-dress socks-sandals combo he wears to his daughters' chagrin during Saturday brunch. He looks settled, comfortable, successful. But his life story is, to me, the typical African American bildungsroman.

My father grew up in the ghetto. Literally. THE GHETTO. The projects of Compton and Watts might as well have been a sharecroppers plot. But from the ghetto, he went into the Army, married my mother, went to school to earn two degrees (including one from Talbot Seminary), became the young associate pastor of our church, then senior pastor.

I think growing up in the ghetto gave my dad some resilience. He built several ministries from scratch, launched a radio show and a web ministry; he survived a number of professional rivalries, controversies and church schisms. He survived the sudden death of his wife, the new world of dating in the 21st century and has somehow managed to avoid getting leg-shackled again. I remember a story he told me about dating a woman who became so frustrated at his unwillingness to 'take it to the next level' she sicced her little yappy dog on him and dumped water over his head on a beach date. Clearly, my relationship issues are a family trait.

My pops has lost several friends, made quite a few enemies, and earned grudging respect because of his unwavering integrity and willingness to call bullshit on the black church's excesses and hypocrisies. He's often an exasperating object of frustration to his two daughters.

(A common refrain: "Dad, why don't you do things the way they're meant to be done?!"
A common response: "Oh, girl. You worry too much.")

In his middle age, my dad has become a different dad. The authoritarian i grew up with has been replaced by a more mellow, cigar smoking, wine-sipping, Christian libertarian whose motto is 'That is between you and God. But you know you're wrong.' And he leaves it at that. Free will means free will, you know?

This later incarnation of my dad is a very cool, though befuddling, one.

So this is what my father taught me:

He taught me how to argue. Dinnertime was usually 90 minutes of my dad and I exhausting my mother and sister while I argued why it wasn't a sin to go to the Homecoming Dance or the weekend ski trip and he'd block me every time - until I figured out how to flip his rhetoric around on him. Good times.
He taught me how to fight. Watching my dad constantly turn the other cheek in the name of the Lord, I formed different opinions about the value of strategic conflict. I mean, David was a warrior, right?
He taught me how to think critically. Listening to my dad tear apart the faulty logic of his opponents was cool; having that same logic-tearing applied to me, not so much.
He taught me how to tell a story to make a point. These were always the best parts of his sermons.
He taught me how to lose. Like that Elizabeth Bishop poem, 'One Art.'
He taught me how to start over. Watching a pastor incubate and launch new ministries will do that.
He taught me that education counts. My dad is who he is because of the higher education. It can save a life.
He taught me that integrity and character count more.
He taught me that it is possible to change.
He also taught me there are some things you can't change - who you are is WHO you are. It's just that some folks lie about who they are.
He taught me how to charm. The moms in the PTA liked my dad for a reason.
He taught me about jazz.
He turned me into a feminist (when he told me I needed to learn how to make a man a sandwich.)
He is a walking lesson in vulnerability, sacrifice, faith and dedication to one's Call. (Yes, he might have *said* he wants to give his congregation the finger but he's still there.) This is a lesson I'm still trying to get.
He taught me that you make your own path. One thing I've always loved about my dad (both of my parents, actually) is that he has never, despite the unfortunate sandwich incident, tried to dictate my identity.

My memories of dad are those of unwavering support, whatever my decision has been. He was the one who drove across the country with my stuff when I started at UofM; he was the one who helped move me to Chicago when I decided to leave UofM; he was the one who didn't blink an eye when I told him I was going to jump into the unknown world of the non profit. He was the one who shut down his congregation when they had the nerve to whisper about my gay friends attending and helping out with my mother's funeral. He was the one who showed me that when other people start telling you how they need you to be someone you know you're not, you need to walk away and say, 'You crazy.' Consequences be damned. Most likely, there won't be any.

So, thanks, Dad. You've made me the feminist, bitchy, snarky, authority-hating loudmouth bougie snob I am today.

Love you! Happy Belated Father's Day!

i knew it! MoDo=misogyny!

Media Matters - Report: Maureen Dowd repeatedly uses gender to mock Democrats

since the Gore/Bush election, and the putrid swell of media coverage from that election, i've always suspected that MoDo was riding a whisper thin line between political commentary and outright sexist bullshit. i can well remember her attacks on HRC, Howard Dean's wife, Teresa Heinz. i remember her columns about sweaters, wardrobes, mannerisms, and haircuts. i remember how infuriated her columns made me, with their high school gossip girl slam book feel.

and now it's confirmed!! ha ha ha ha!

she's a bitch!

(yes, i use that term in full knowledge of baggage, meanings and all the rest. i use it deliberately. MoDo is a craven, bitter, patriarchy-loving bitch.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

not so funny now, huh?

stuff white people do is not stuff white people like.

where the latter is mild satire, poking fun at a certain class of white folks, SWPD is a blog where the writer lays down some serious posts about white privilege and the funnies are...rare.

personally, i love it. it's so much better for my blood pressure when white folks say things i get tired of pointing out. if only there would be a post about from a white person why it's bad to be too preoccupied with a black woman's hair...oh, wait. there is.

via Alas, a Blog, here is a really good post (and scary photo) on whiteness and trustworthiness that says things i have only ever said to other people of color: i don't expect much from white folk.

('but, ding,' you say. 'you have white friends!' indeed. my really close white friends are, to me, exceptions - in much the same way white people have said to me: 'oh, ding, you're not like other black people.')

but for every other white person, when it comes to race and identity issues, i set the bar waaaaay down here. why? cuz y'all's track record ain't so good.

from his post:
"Most of the people reading this blog believe that it’s racist and unfair to mistrust a black person, simply because he or she is black. And I agree. But as I’ll try to show here, in most cases it’s actually realistic, not racist, for a black person to withhold trust from a white person. This is because black people tend to know more about white people than white people do about black people. And what they tend to know is that white people who haven’t untrained themselves can be annoying, and even dangerous."

read the post. read the whole blog, actually.
you won't chuckle but you'll learn something.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

rhetorical devices, 101: hyperbole

"This is the happiest day of my life." Really? Are you sure? I mean, out of all your days on earth you're sure that this day, this particular day, is the one that gives you the best feeling of happiness (well-being, satisfaction, contentment and joy) you have ever experienced? Can you measure that happiness and back that up with some sort of empirical evidence - and can you be sure that this zenith of happiness will hold firm in the future?

"Oh my god, that was the worst sex ever." Really? Ever? In your lifetime of sexual activity, this one instance was measurably worse than (and exceeded the badness of) the sex you've had before? So bad that it may put you off sex forever? If you run an analysis of all your lovers, taking into consideration their various techniques and the quality of the sexage, will this one lover top the list as the worst, or just one of the worst?

"For the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country." Oh, please. You mean you have lived in a state of perpetual and uninterrupted dissatisfaction with this country since the day you were born? I mean, you haven't even felt a little swelling of pride during the Olympics?? And what makes this particular moment so great for you it erases all other, potential pride-inducing moments a country could give, huh?

"Mission: Accomplished." Sigh.

So. Out of all these dramatic, hyperbolic declarations, which one is the most damaging to our civic psyche? Which one exposes the speaker as a liar or, at least, someone with only a glancing familiarity with the truth?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the media and the dap: or, how to tell who skipped diversity training

having had my Black Card revoked so many times before, i didn't know it had a name but i've at least seen the fist bump thing before. so imagine my total jaw-dropping surprise when the dap suddenly becomes 'a terrorist fist jab.'

again, i implore the heavens: do white people NOT have friends of color?? (or at least watch tv?) swear to god, listening to the MSM dissect the dap is like having some clueless white girl ask to touch my hair. it is tired, tired, tired.
i wonder what else will become signifiers for Otherness?
  • as one blog put it, if the Obama girls start sporting corn rows, will that be dissected as too ethinic or perhaps a juvenile declaration of Black Power?
  • will the mention of ashy skin suddenly become interpreted as code for 'terrorist derma disguise'?
  • will photos of michelle obama with her hair wrapped become a sign of 'secret-muslim-ness'?
  • will knowing the words to the Black National Anthem become a code for 'kill whitey'?
this isn't anger. today, i am actually amused by our media's vanilla-ness. i will be angry another day. but, lord. shit is about to get triflin' real fast in this election.

[things to read: Too Sense: How American Culture Works
MoDo's latest craziness]

Monday, June 09, 2008

oh, italy.

i LOVED italy.

the views, of course, were stunning and gorgeous. (even the rainy days were glorious. i mean they were the kind of days that made you want to throw open your windows, lean out and belt an aria. you don't get days like that in Chicago.)
the wine, natch, was unbelievably good (even the cheap farmers' wine we guzzled at the villa. 50 bottles of it.)
the roads were treacherous and the italian style of 'driving' terrifying. (yet energizing in a 'you're going to meet your Maker very soon' kind of way.)

but you know what i really liked about italy?

their pace was my pace - slow. i don't think i saw anyone actually 'hurry.' you really could sit and drink and eat all day and no one looked at you like you were a wastrel.

sure, i could have stuffed my days with shopping and touring and running from this museum to that old church. instead, in siena, i sat on my butt in the main piazza and read my book; in volterra, i eye-flirted with a hot syrian alabaster sculptor and then ate a load of gelato that gave me gas. (hello, lactaid.) in florence, i sat with friends off the Duomo and ate lunch and ordered liter after liter of wine, smoked at least two packs of cigarettes, wandered to another cafe for several glasses of prosecco, had a round of drinks bought by the kind old israeli vendor who liked Obama (and our friend K-), then stumbled across the street to the restaurant and stuffed myself full of rabbit, beans and more wine.

i LOVE italy!

photos will be posted when they're all downloaded so patience, all 5 of my readers.

i'll be buzzing off this italian high for a while.


[ps: who has the best bathroom in Florence? the Ferragamo Show Museum. it's worth the 5 euro to pee in it.]