Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Please excuse the mess. We're finishing up the last of our kitchen home improvement projects and all should be well by the time you leave here on Saturday. In the meantime, feel free to grab something to eat and look around. Your altar is in the bedroom. But, uh, stay outta my closet, por favor.
And, yes, I forgot cake this year, but I've got candy and at least I didn't drink all the tequila.
Love you! – Moi.
Read all about one of Moi's favorite holidays, Dia de los Muertos, here and here.
Monday, October 29, 2007
If there's anything I hate more than crap science, it's crap journalism. Gone are the days of Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, savvy observers of the American political, social, and cultural scene who before ever putting pen to paper, first totally and fearlessly immersed themselves in the topics they were covering, whether those topics included California car culture, Russian revolutionaries, or the inner workings of the Hells Angels.
Today, we rely primarily on television "news" shows to bring us investigative stories and in depth profiles. And for ages it seems, 60 Minutes has been considered the cream of the crop. But over the past couple years, the show I've been watching has slowly devolved into something with all the journalistic integrity of The Tyra Banks Show.
Witness last night's coverage of the collapse of hundreds of bee colonies across the United States. Most of us know the gist of what's happening: over the past several years, millions of bees have simply up and left their colonies. Not died, but just, well, left.
While no one has as yet discovered the reason our bees are disappearing, no one is in dispute that they are. (I don't dispute it, either, although, oddly, my own garden has never been as lush, as healthy, and as overrun with bees as it has been these past 2-3 years. Hmmm . . . )
Like almost all of the newspaper, magazine, and online coverage of colony collapse, last night's show focused exclusively on the disappearance of honey bees from commercial colonies. That is, those colonies which are cultivated by professional beekeepers – like Dave Hackenberg, profiled in the show – to travel across the country to pollinate commercial farming operations. Like the bazillion acre pumpkin farm owned by Brian Campbell of Berwick, PA. When asked by reporter Steve Kroft what would happen to his operations if he didn't have tens of thousands of bees on the job, Campbell answered: "Well, my business wouldn't be as profitable." AS profitable, Party People. In other words, he wouldn't be able to grow mass quantities of pumpkins. Pumpkins headed not for our dinner tables, but for Wal-Marts throughout the eastern seaboard as eventual Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween.
After listening to about half the story, it occurred to Moi that maybe the bees are disappearing because they are continually being carted thousands of miles across the country on flat bed trucks, plunked down in the middle of hundreds – many times thousands – of acres of one single crop, and forced to spend the whole season pollinating not just said single crop but also one most likely treated with God only knows what kind of chemical(s).
In other words, the very industry that relies on bees for its profit may be stressing its main workforce right the hell out. And we all know what stress leads to. It leads to the fight or flight response. And the last time I checked, honey bees don't wear little honey bee boxing gloves.
Surely, if that theory occurred to lil' ol' Moi, it would occur to the Powers That Be at 60 Minutes. Right? Uh, that would be a big NOPE.
Never once in his report did Steve Kroft point out this irony. Never once did he wonder aloud at industry-wide reports suggesting that, unlike traditional industrial beekeeping operations like Hackenberg's, organic beekeepers, even those who operate at the same commercial level, are experiencing NO instances of colony collapse. Never once did he point out that this particular practice of beekeeping is still in its infancy, and we are only just now beginning to study it's implications for bee health and behavior. Finally, Kroft never once wondered if feral bee populations in non-agricultural areas (like the one that includes Moi's garden) were undergoing the same colony collapse (it seems they are not).
So, a story that should have been inspired and of-the-moment ended up just feeling kind of shabby and way too much like yesterday's news. Yes, we all know the bees are splitting for parts unknown. But tell us something new, why don't cha? I have a feeling that someday soon, you'll see 60 Minutes reporters undergoing their own kind of collapse: from boredom, disinterest, and lack of ideas.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Same pill, different Armani suit. The woman is beholden, beholden, beholden.
Same pill, only meaner. I don't care that the man is a lapsed Catholic and cheats on his wife. I care that he's a jack-booted fascist pinhead who delights in dreaming up ever more clever ways to whip us into blind obedience.
Kinda the same pill, only much, much cuter. But we all know what happens when we elect cute guys to office, right? They're either assassinated or their names are forever stained by naughty sexual misconductivities. Or both. Barak, honey, go save the world some other way. But stay cute, 'kay?
Gah, then there's THIS guy:
Forget the fact that he's a moron, er, Mormon. I simply refuse to vote for anyone who spends more time on his hair than I do.
But, wait . . . what's this?
Huh. What do you know? Okay, give Moi a glass of Pinot to go with that pill and yeah, I'll swallow it.
Monday, October 22, 2007
This ever happen to you? You meet someone new and you're discussing your likes and dislikes and the person tells you they just love to read and then you go over to their house and the bookshelves are filled with nothing but Danielle Steel and Harlequin Romance titles?
Okaaaaaay, not really what I was talking about . . .
So, what is it with us women and this stuff? Men have porn. They need, like, 1.5 seconds of it – literal or visual, doesn't matter. Women on the other hand, we have bodice rippers. We need 250+ pages and pirates and lusty wenches and increasingly clever ways to describe one's body parts and all the things you can do with them. Only with a back story.
And this literary trend is only getting worse.
Recently, my buddy Bob the Copy Editing God sent Moi an email about the possibility of him working for a bodice ripper-type purveyor.
Apparently, the Internet has set the genre ablaze. Suddenly, the virtual world is filled with scads of POD (print on demand) publishing houses that also serve as on-line bookstores for readers rabid for a seemingly endless stream of bodice ripping yarns. Unlike traditional publishing houses, these companies contract with writers to produce X number of books a year and pay them X amount (sometimes up to 50 percent) of the retail price of a book whenever X number of readers log onto the site and place an order for their book(s).
And good gawd, what all you can order! Everything from lite romance to full on, out-and-out smut of the smuttiest kind involving everything from – I kid you not, Party People – space aliens to vampires to house pets. All with, you got it, actual story lines.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against romance books. Or smut lit. Or pornography. Or erotica, or whatever you want to call it. After all, I wrote my senior history class thesis on the Marquis de Sade. Well, okay, not really because of the smut. But because, in addition to his filthy little mind, the Marquis was quite the literate libertarian and had some interesting things to say about personal freedom and responsibility and the tyranny of gub'ments: "Social order at the expense of liberty is hardly a bargain." for instance. So naturally, I felt a bond with the man.
Even when not couched in scathing political allegory, smut is fine with me. So long as it's written well. Which most of this POD stuff is not. Where, in today's churned-out-by-the-pound bodice ripping set is Erica Jong's ribald humor? Sidney Sheldon or Jacqueline Suzanne's über hip renderings of a specific time and place? Henry Miller's fluidity? Hell, even half of a sixth grader's dexterity with the most basic of adjectives? Way, way too much of this is an embarrassment and not because of the subject matter but because of the poor way in which it's conveyed. Bottom line: sucks the big one applies in more ways than one.
But what really puzzles Moi is this: why do so many women gobble these tales up?
All I can say is, let's hope Bob gets put on the job. Then at least then the stuff will be spelled correctly.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Remember when you were a kid and you were afraid to go to sleep at night because you were sure, just sure, that within that cavernous space under your bed lurked a hideous monster lusting to make you a tasty mid evening treat just as soon as you escaped to sleepy-bye land? Or that those creaky noises you heard in the hallway outside your bedroom were the spectral footsteps of long-dead former denizens biding their time until they could suck the life out of your quivering pajama-clad body?
Then you grew up. And realized that there was nothing lurking under your bed except perhaps some dust balls and a few misplaced Barbies or G.I. Joes and that those footsteps outside your room were simply the noises of a house settling as the night air cooled. You came to realize all that because your rational faculties were developing. In other words, you were coming out of the Dark Ages that is childhood and into the Enlightenment of adulthood.
Funny thing, though, many adults still hold onto their myths and their hysterias as tightly and closed mindedly as they did when they were children. And our media, government, and so-called consumer advocate groups just love to feed that hysteria. The result being that behind every dark skinned fellow airplane passenger there lurks a bomb-toting terrorist, behind every block headed-dog, a child chomping beast, etc., etc., into infinity and beyond.
This is the latest frenzy:
For years, an organization called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has made it their job to ferret out the chemical boogie men lurking within our lotions, eyeliners, and lipsticks. Their latest findings? Unsafe amounts of lead in our lipsticks. Not all of them, mind you, just 33. They don't know about the rest because you know what? They admit they simply cannot test them all.
So how safe is unsafe? Well, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' report uses as their baseline, and I shit you not, the amount of lead found in candy. That's because in order to keep the kiddies (and junkies like Moi) safe, the FDA has placed an allowable limit of lead in candy at .01 ppm. More than half (61 percent) of these 33 lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million.
But then the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics goes on to state that in their professional opinion, NO AMOUNT of lead in any quantity is safe. So, uh, that would mean NO AMOUNT of candy is safe either, right? The report doesn't touch that with a ten foot pole.
Reading all this led Moi to ask the following:
1. The report's assumption of danger relies on the assumption that women ingest lipstick like it were candy. Which simply isn't true. I mean, yuck! I'm willing to bet that your average child is exposed to more lead during this upcoming holiday than I'm ever likely to be exposed to via my lipstick, despite a lifelong, die hard devotion to its use. And, again, no one's suggesting we reformulate candy . . .
2. Further, the report's assumption of danger relies on the assumption that lead molecules are small enough to penetrate the layers of our skin with regularity. Which simply isn't true. Otherwise, we'd all be long dead and gone from the way higher amounts of lead we're exposed to on a daily basis when we touch a myriad other lead-laden substances.
3. It would seem to me (Pirate?) that we're exposed to more lead by working in our offices and sleeping in our homes, hell, even walking outside or drinking municipal tap water. So wouldn't it behoove us to regularly test our paint, soil, and drinking water? Oh, yeah, we DO.
4. Why didn't the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics do a really real scientific study? I.e. take blood samples from x number of women who have regularly worn lipstick for, say, the past ten years and blood samples from the same x number of those who have not? Then test both groups' blood for lead, and, voila, compare the differences? Perhaps it's because such a test most likely wouldn't show a statistically significant difference between the two groups.
Bottom line question? Why is a consumer advocacy group pedaling misinformation? Is it deliberate? Or is it simply bad science?
The clue lies within their very own Web site:
Personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, after shave, lotion and makeup are not regulated by the FDA or any other government agency. It is perfectly legal and very common for companies to use ingredients that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins in the their products. (Not true. the FDA does not regulate what a cosmetic company can claim about their product. But they do set limits as to what is safe to put in them. In fact, there is a very effective sunscreen that has been used in Europe for years that the FDA has yet to approve for use here in this country.)
We are asking cosmetics and personal care products companies to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics (also known as the Compact for the Global Production of Safer Health and Beauty Products), a pledge to remove toxic chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives in every market they serve. (What are these alternatives? By whom are they manufactured? The site doesn't specify. And if you're thinking, no, not more chemicals, the advocacy groups wants us to use natural products, well, natural doesn't necessarily mean safe. Poison ivy is natural, but I don't want it in my moisturizer. And safer according to whom? The FDA? Again, the site doesn't specify.)Ah, here's the clincher: The Campaign works with endorsing organizations and individuals so that together we can ramp up the pressure on companies that have not signed the Compact and continue to sell us toxic products, including Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Avon and many others. Our founding organizations also work closely with other allies to reform the chemical policies that allow for toxic ingredients in consumer products in the first place.
Sigh. It seems that behind every motive, and no matter which side of the Party Line it falls, lies one thing and one thing only: $$$.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I'm sorry. I cannot contain myself any longer. In 1.5 weeks, S.B. and I will be attending our first Halloween party in a coon's age. And, we're actually dressing up. Not dressing up as in nice shoes and shirt dressing up, but dressing up as in for true, purchased-over-the-Internet, Halloween costume dressing up. Because that's what the invitation says we should do. And I, for once, am just going to go with it.
So can you guess who I'm going as?
I did think about:
(The only comic book hero to ever garner a Ms. Magazine cover, complete with essay by Gloria Steinem. So, you know. She's steeped in feminist cred.)
I also considered:
'Cause she's dark and conflicted and also has the requisite on-again, off-again love affair with a super duper hero dude (yes, I am a comic book nerd – deal with it).
But then I realized that both costumes are likely to be a wee bit too chilly for a late October evening.
So I decided on Cat Woman. The Michelle Pfeiffer version, though, not the Halle Berry one. Because:
A. I do not have the ta-tas to fill out Halle's costume.
B. Halle's Cat Woman sucks ass. Pfeiffer's is, was, and always will be, the über coolest of them all.
Monday, October 15, 2007
P.S. And those shoes? Totally NOT fabulous.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The roses still bud.
The flowers still bloom.
The spiders still spin, waiting.
The banded garden spider – Argiope trifasciataz. I haven't seen an egg sack yet.
But this one . . .
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
You know what I like best about running?
You don't need expensive gear. You don't need a special field, arena, or course. Hell, you don't even need much talent. All you need is an awesome (but wicking!) outfit and some special shoes. Then all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and go. You may not go far. You may not go fast. But, and again unlike almost any other sport, you'll be doing exactly what the elite runners of the sport do. Only slower. And perhaps, if you're like Moi, spazzier.
Another thing I like about running?
The race you run is against yourself. World record-busting is for the professionals. For the rest of us, well, you'll rarely hear another runner say, "Today, I'm going to try and beat Mary Jo's time of last week." What you'll most like hear is, "Today, I'm going to try to beat my time of last week."
And when a fellow runner tells you, "Great job!" they mean it. They don't just say it and then slink away in a fit of silent, seething jealousy to send you mental darts filled with bad luck poison. You may beat yourself up over your suck ass time, but believe me, somewhere out there is a runner for whom your suck ass time is their Holy Grail.
In fact, runners must be the nicest people in the sports world. Living where I do, I encounter the best of the best out on the trails. You know, those human gazelles from Nigeria and Kenya and Jamaica and Morocco who set world records as easily as the rest of us stuff Twinkies in our mouths and who, when they pass you on the trail, make an audible whoosh, they're moving so fast. But not before first giving you a gigantic smile and a hearty "good morning," as if you, too, despite your plodding stride and sweat-soaked brow, have just as much right to claim this sport as they do.
Finally, becoming a runner has made me realize that the only person on this planet responsible for my own health is Moi. As Bill Maher, my sometimes tenth husband, said on a recent show, we don't have a medical care crisis in this country. We have a health crisis. Personal responsibility? Prevention? Exercise and proper diet? Hell no. Who needs those things when the pusher-men pharmaceutical companies got new drugs hitting the streets every 2.5 seconds?
Sure, I know that I can run/bike/hike/climb/swim/eat spinach until my feet fall off and I'm still going to die. Sure, I can still get cancer, still fall over dead from a heart attack, still get hit by a bus. Can't run away from crap genetics or freak accidents. But at least I can remove myself in some small way from the "demand" side of the equation. And leave it open – and more affordable – for those who really, truly cannot fling their bodies around in the glorious pursuit of sport.
*Blatantly stolen without shame or remorse from Bill Maher.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Hence, what I like to call my Lazy Ass Excuse for a Blog Post, posts. In which I make instead half-hearted attempts to convince you that your life will be as devoid of light and meaning as a raging black hole if you don't watch, read, or listen to what I tell you.
"This Wreckage" – Gary Numan
With his grinding moody Moogs and lost-in-psychic-space vocals deadpanning bargain basement existential clichés like And what if God’s dead/we must have done something wrong/This dark façade ends/We’re independent from someone, Numan was a grunge/goth/industrial guilty pleasure way before anyone else (you listening, Trent Reznor?).
Geronimo: His Own Story: The Autobiography of a Great Patriot Warrior by Geronimo, S. M. Barrett, and Frederick W. Turner
When you're down and feeling blue, just ask yourself: What would Geronimo do?
Bad ass mother fucker (I just put that in here to see if the Censor Police would come after me, too.)
If loving you is wrong, I don't want to feel right.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
(But not necessarily my woefully behind-the-times digital camera. The photo is a wee too orange and the cabinets are more sage than neon.).
They came, they tented, they sanded, they stained, they sealed. They sorta cleaned up in that way that men have (dudes, you do what you do best; I'll do what I do best). All in one day (well, to be fair, they had our doors and drawers for five days).
I am happy. And will be even more so once Granite Transformations inserts the new counters on the 19th. No dirty demolition and tear out; just a nice, clean (supposedly) insert over existing counter tops. And if they hurt Moi's brandy new cabinets, I will be a force to be reckoned with.
Or I'll just sic S.B. on 'em.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I've certainly learned some interesting things about myself over the years. Like what happens when you mix Drama Queen Moi with So Laid Back He Makes Gary Cooper Look Like Woody Allen S.B.
You get conversations like this:
Moi: "I love you truly, madly, passionately. I can't live without you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, except for the fact that I don't want to do your laundry and simply must have my own bathroom. Dahlink, do you feel the same about Moi?"
S.B., dragging his eyes away from the LSU/Arkansas game: "Uh, yeah. I mean, okay, sure."
That conversation has pretty much set the tone for the rest of our relationship. I spin little dramas and S.B. defuses them. Take, for instance, my continual fear of being caught in a spinning-out-of-control airplane. To S.B., experiencing something like that would, "Certainly tell you a lot about how you handle stress, don't you think?"
Uh . . . no. For S.B., who was born cowboy-ed up, surviving something like that would be nothing more than a character-building exercise. For Moi, it would mean my main mode of transport from that point on would be roller skates. If I ever again left the house at all.
Thankfully, the majority of the time, this difference in our personalities is more a source of entertainment than friction. Except . . . when it comes . . . to . . . the thing . . . I dread . . . more than flying:
I don't have to relay to you the statistics outlining the spike in divorce rates among couples who undergo major renovation projects or build their own homes. Suffice to say, if it weren't for the fact that S.B. organizes these projects, then merrily trips out of town for work, leaving Moi to handle everything, our relationship would most likely have been shit canned long ago.
Because we simply cannot be in the same house together when these projects are going on. Because I turn into a surreal version of my lurking drama queen self. I worry and niggle and stay up at night spinning scenarios of horrific destruction and rampant lawyering. S.B., he sleeps like a baby. And the more relaxed he is, the more wrapped around the axle I become.
Like take right now, for instance. S.B. is in Oklahoma making the world safe for toaster ovens. I am at home, tap, tap, tapping my foot over contractors who are now 60 minutes late to start our cabinet refinishing project.
Ain't nothing more worry-producing to Moi than late contractors. And the sorrowful sight of my bare-ass nekkid kitchen:
Monday, October 1, 2007
Today marks the first day to sign up for National Novel Writing Month 2007, which begins November 1.
A paradigm-busting, speed-writing, giggle-inducing, great-excuse-for-padding-your-word-count-with-sex-scenes, mass insanity writing event, NaNoWriMo is guaranteed to keep you in the house all of November, tattooing day glo orange Cheetos stains on your PJs, blowing keyboard fuses with spilled coffee, and proclaiming to friends and family all stiff and serious-like that no, you cannot come out and play, you have a novel to work on.
And come November 30th, that's exactly what you'll have to show for your efforts: a 50,000+ word tome that will either be:
A. A great first draft of the novel guaranteed to earn you fame, a six figure income, and Meryl Streep signing on to play the main character in the film version;
B. Utter crap that's good for a laugh with friends at a mass post-NaNo read, complete with crackling fire, a bottle of Scotch, and a Smith and Wesson 38.
I have done NaNo three years in a row and have three fabulously crappy novels to show for it. But within those crap-laden pages lie what I believe could possibly be the rough gems of really real novels. If I ever get around to growing up and actually applying myself.
Mostly, though, I do NaNo because it's fun.
So my bloggy friends, join me, won't you?
For more info, log onto www.nanowrimo.org – sign ups start tonight.