Monday, December 22, 2008

books and reading other folks' books

why i'm at the office infecting everyone with my germs, i don't know.
but while i ponder that, here's a list of books that caught my eye and maybe you can stun your holiday list with the gift of learnin':

Honour Killing: Stories of Men Who Killed by Ayse Onal
Falling for Science: Objects in Mind edited by Sherry Turkie (scientists write about when they first fell in love with science)
Nerve: The First Ten Years by editors (especially if you remember when was really good and had a print magazine)

(thanks, bookslut, though i wish y'all would read more people of color. but whatever. it's your blog.)

did you also know December is Buy a Book Written by a Black Author and Give it to Someone Not Black Month? (not really, but it's a good idea. i have to confess, i should probably read more black authors, too.)

here are some totally random suggestions of titles that have caught my eye or oldies and goodies (and, no, i'm not listing anything by Zane):
Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching by Paula Giddings (Wells has always been one of my feminist heroines and the book is also big enough to concuss someone in a black feminist rage, if that is your wont.)
I am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lord by Rudolph P. Byrd
Best African American Essays edited by Debra Dickerson and Gerald Early (but not avail until jan)
Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat (who doesn't love Danticat?)
On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century by Sherrilyn A. Ifill
Through the Ivory Gate by Rita Dove (an old one but I still love this book)
Incognegro by Mat Johnson (a graphic novel - and a word me and my friends would use to make fun of one really really straight-laced black dude in grad school. i know. hello, pot; i'm kettle.)
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson (for a kid you might know)
Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks (don't let the opening line throw you)

i am heavily indebted to these two blogs - here and here - for their suggestions (some of which are already on my library wish list.)

update: more on this topic here, as well.

what she said: the freakily accurate tarot lady

Scene: friday late afternoon - dimly lit nightclub - office party - tarot reader's table

TarotLady: love your glasses!
Ding: thanks!

TL: so this will be a brief reading for the next 6 months or 1 year; we can talk about relationships, work, health, family. whatever you want.
Ding: i've been dealing with work all week so how about relationships.

TL: think about what you want to know and shuffle these.
(Ding thinks and shuffles)
TL: (slapping down cards) hm. are a relationship?

Ding: it's (sigh) complicated.
TL: i'll say. (looks at all the upside down cards) is he married? involved? somehow not available? i'm getting that someone is really wrapped up in their career.

Ding: uh, that would be me. and no, he's just as single as i am. though he could be seeing someone else, i don't really know. (shrug)
TL: huh. this has been happening for a long time now, hasn't it? like a merry-go-round. but there's something there. intensity.

Ding: yeah. you could say that. it's been...7, 8 years? we actually have a lot in common and works. it's like having a long distance relationship but in the same city.
TL: i see. (slaps another card down) well. not for long. you two have an old soul thing going on but it's more habit than anything else. and 2009 is when you break the habit.

Ding: really?
TL: oh, yes. you break the habit. (another card) you move on. you learn what you can, and you're very sefl-aware, you know what's happening, and what you've been practising for happens in 2009. this guy is gone by march or april. march.

Ding: huh. wow. and there's someone else?
TL: yes. (slaps a card down) the one you actually want. the one you don't have to hide from your friends.
Ding: whoa.

TL: yes. he actually wants to be in your life, meet your family, friends, talk with you, spend time with you and will make the effort for you. but you know that you don't get married, right?
Ding: really?

TL: oh, yes. (slaps another card down) you don't get married. you'll be committed, but you're not the marrying kind. so if that was what you were hoping for, it's not in the cards.
Ding: no worries. (actually feeling some kind of relief)

TL: it'll be something that you and he understand. very unconventional and non traditional because that's who you are.
Ding: wow. thanks.
TL: you're not really surprised by this, are you?
Ding: no, i kinda knew. except for meeting someone new.

TL: 2009. it'll be a new year and you'll have a serious change.
Ding: good to know. do you have a card?

Friday, December 19, 2008

and just to emphasize all the gayness, here's your year in entertainment, seen through the gay:

MSN Year in Review: The Gayest Year Ever?

it matters: the rick warren decision

Obama’s Selection of Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren for Inauguration Sparks Gay Outrage - US News and World Report

i have to admit, i'm puzzled over this one.
(who would i have picked? Peter Gomes. he's black AND gay!)

rick warren's disgust with the 'gay lifestyle' (like it's picking a tea cozy or deciding where to vacation) is just code for 'i am a raging homophobe.' and that's why it matters.

choosing someone like rick warren is exactly like inviting a friendly, raging racist to stand up there and give the prayer.

when are we going to see that civil rights are civil rights, no matter who's asking for them?

if the larger society is to accept the basic humanity of gays and lesbians then certain lines need to be drawn in the sand. one of those lines is recognizing that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice but a life, like yours and mine and, therefore, it should be recognized as such and reap the same benefits of lives like yours and mine.

in the same way you cannot choose your skin color or your gender, you cannot choose your sexual orientation.

(a lesson that Ted Haggard is still learning, clearly.)

this is not a point to debate or cavil over but the basic, fundamental dividing line between those supporting gay civil rights and those who are against it. there is no point in conversing, negotiating or symbolically linking these two camps when the two camps are so fundamentally opposed.

i can understand only some of the thinking behind this pick. rick warren symbolizes a so-called 'post-denominational' church (an idea which would make my dad spit.) but i think we can probably think of pastors on the religious left who better symbolize this spirit of moving away from tired fundamentalism and its culture wars: brian mclaren? peter gomes? my pastor? jim wallis? father michael pfleger? an ordained woman from any of the mainline churches, perhaps?

a friend made me realize that Power is Power, no matter who wears it, even the affable, tall, skinny, black guy we're going to call President. and Power, no matter who wears it, never willingly cedes ground.

and so, those of us who are demanding something from Power, neither can we.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

intimacy = epic fail

what a weird day: shoes thrown at Shrub, a good friend let go from my office, massive project about to descend on my shoulders and having weird, sudden, totally bizarre and *couple-like* thoughts about giving a christmas token (ok, gift, whatever) to LTF (Long Term Frolic) who would probably freak if he knew what i was thinking.

exchanging gifts is what couples do.*
LTF and i are not a couple. but i'd like to acknowledge the years (count 'em) we've known each other, show that i'm fond of him and to wish him a good holiday.

or is this guilt?**

what do you get someone who's been your lover for the past 7-8 years but who you've put in a tiny little box and never invited to meet your friends, family, spend a night at your place or read a single piece of your writing? (all 5 of my readers see more of my life than he does.)

a poinsettia? an ornament? an itunes gift card? a set of plushy bath towels***?
* Not that i'd expect anything in return. geez, no.
** Which is what my old coach, Dr. C-, would ask me to explore. But I won't.
*** Or is that too girl-friendy, even though he really really needs them?

Friday, December 12, 2008

the blagonian mind

she has a point.

in all this week's craziness surrounding our (crazy) governor's (crazy) attempt to turn his administration into a mirror image of the 18th century french court, the words crazy, delusional, insane, psychotic, sociopathic, unhinged, unbalanced, etc., have been thrown around with glee to describe g-rod's possible motivation.

(i'll admit it. i'm one of the gleeful ones.)

but last night, at a little cocktail party with some non profit chief execs, the ceo of a children's aid agency said, 'what if he is mentally ill? is it still funny?'

and we stopped laughing.
because, in all reality, mental illness isn't funny.

which is why, from now on, i'm no longer going to refer to the governor as crazy. not just because it's not funny to make fun of the mentally ill but because i really don't believe he is.

he's just crass, corrupt, venal, dishonest and overwhelmingly stupid.

which begs the question: is it ok to make fun of the stupid?
and i say, of course.

holding up the stupid to ridicule is permissable when the formula follows thusly: stupid + power + (crippling pride - impulse control) = target.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

back to teh gay: stewart grills huckabee

last night, after a funny bit on our governor, jon stewart had probably the most thoughtful and firm interview with mike huckabee wrt his stance on gay marriage.

stewart was like a boxer, cornering huckabee, not letting anything get past him. the whole thing was very very skillful (and respectful) and finally got the conversation around to the crux of anti-gay rights folks' thinking: they honestly still think being gay is a 'choice' and, therefore, civil rights for what is clearly something they don't have to choose to be is moot.

there was one point in the conversation where huckabee said that he wants to make it clear that folks who are against gay marriage aren't homophobic, don't hate gay people. but clearly, if you don't think gay people are exactly like you and deserve what the rest of us have, and you think it's ok to force them to live fake lives because you don't 'believe in homosexuality' then whatever your intent, the impact is hatred and homophobia.

the link from Think Progress has the video clip:

Think Progress » Stewart Grills Huckabee On Gay Marriage: ‘At What Age Did You Choose Not To Be Gay?’

Blagonian Venality

there is a pile of work on my desk and a list of to-dos at least 10 items deep but i'm still repelled/fascinated by the scandal whirling around our governor.

everyone was talking about it yesterday. my two cabbies, my LTF (Long Term Frolic), my Roomie, my friends (even those from out of state), everyone on cable tv (including jon stewart who also had a righteous conversation with mike huckabee about gay rights and marriage) and, this morning, it's still everywhere.

i was trying to figure out why this scandal disgusts me so. after all, we're all old hands at political scandals. spitzer, stevenson, mcgreevey, senator 'wide stance', clinton, old man daley, etc. the mental image i had of our governor, who's supposed to enforce the state constitution (an article of which is the elimination of poverty for those who live in this state) putting price tags on every aspect of his office made me angry. i actually felt like spitting in this man's face.

there is about this scandal a tackiness, a grasping, idiotic greediness that disgusts me. but i realized it's not just the greed, it's the venality.

it is 'the prostitution of talents or principles for mercenary considerations.' (thank you, OED.)

i'm trying to remember my dante and figure out where our governor would be: in the eighth circle of hell with the corrupt politicians? or with the hypocrites? the thieves? or in purgatory, trying to work off his sins of pride, wrath or avarice?

Blagonian Saga, pt 3: impeachment?

if you don't know, the Capitol Fax Blog is the place folks go to keep a pulse on Springfield. it is awesome.

and from them comes this little tip that there is movement to begin impeachment proceedings against the G-Rod, his resignation notwithstanding: The Capitol Fax Blog » MADIGAN: HOUSE TO CONVENE MONDAY ON SENATE ELECTION BILL - MJM “PREPARED TO DISCUSS” IMPEACHMENT

let's not forget all the other things the state has to deal with:
$5 billion in unpaid bills
a growing deficit budget that has no hope of being balanced anytime soon
a hobbled general assembly that has new leadership
a crumbling and ineffective infrastructure without any guiding priority list
an economic meltdown that will surely affect every county in the state
an unstable unemployment trust fund
growing unemployment
a housing crisis

all of this on top of a corrupt and mordantly stupid governor under investigation.

december is going to be an exciting month.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

the blagojeviches: they're like hillbilly macbeths

Chicagoist: Quoting the Blagojevich Complaint

the Chicagoist has pulled choice quotes from the Blago complaint and it's like reading excerpts from a badly redacted Cliffs Notes version of MacBeth. i mean, you have patty blagojevich in the background of a phone call screeching about a piece of the pie, egging him on, and you have Blago putting a price tag on everything/everyone and thinking his dumb ass actually has a chance to run for president in some alternate universe where no one can read or Google search his name. really, Governor?! really??

this arrest is like a gift to the IL GOP.
they could run a high school valedictorian for governor and win.

you can read the whole complaint here. they're not lying; it really is a good read.

holy crap

so...Gov. Rod has been arrested. i'm listening to the press conference now. (and, can i say that patrick fitzgerald is awesome?)

i was in an early morning meeting, standing in line for coffee when the guy next to me looked down at his blackberry and said, 'huh. the governor was just taken into custody by the feds.'

a white-haired woman said, 'get out.'
i said, 'you're kidding.'

he said, 'no lie. the trib just sent an alert.'

all of us whipped out our blackberries and checked. we gasped and hurried to sit down and read the news. the trib updated about every 20 minutes or so and when 2 state senators referenced it from our panel later in the meeting, the majority of the audience gasped.

dude. this is huge.
this dumb, awful, incompetent man was trying to sell Obama's old senate seat, among other things.

you have to read the trib story. appalling.

the thing is, until he's convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime, he's still governor! technically, he could still appoint obama's successor!


consider this your place to mull all things corrupt and shameful.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

good lord. what is this??

WHY, sweet jesus, why??

i'm serious. why?