Links: X-treme Edition

31 Aug

You’re shitting me.  It’s Wednesday, and I have links for you???  You bet your ass!  All of the following links deal with the “x-treme” – x-treme movie-going, x-treme weather, and x-treme pooping.  Are you excited?  I’m excited!  Let’s do it!

Tracy Moore for Jezebel: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Pooping During Childbirth

Lately, my writing has taken a somewhat scatological turn, so it’s no wonder that I practically fell off my chair when I was reading this.  I have written before about how I believe humor – especially humor written or performed by women – can be an effective way to challenge stereotypes and give the kyriarchy the big “fuck you.”  Also, laughing is fun.

From the piece:

The theatrics and agony of labor are about many things both literal and symbolic, but let us all agree right here and now that they are about transitions and releases. Therefore, the poop must come out. And it must be ushered in joyously, as gently as Nature’s Pillow, as the Big Finish to nine months of gassy purgatory. And as we all know by now: That which cannot handle the poop surely cannot handle the scoop!

And the scoop is this: I’m afraid there are no easy answers here. But really, going forward, now that you’ll have this baby, I think that’s a good theme for everyone involved to get used to – the no easy answers thing. And the poop. So, go ahead: Release the Kraken!

I died.  I really did.

Brady Potts for Sociological Images: Should We Be “Like 1900”?  Probably Not.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landing on the Gulf Coast, and Sociological Images has been memorializing the event with a series of posts about the disaster.  All of them are worth a look, but this one in particular talks about the evolution of disaster response in the U.S., especially in light of Congressman Ron Paul’s recent assertion that FEMA is unnecessary, and that disaster response should be modeled after the response to a hurricane in 1900 that devastated Galveston, Texas.  Potts’s analysis is quite astute, and I really, really enjoyed this piece.

Potts describes the disaster response in Galveston:

So, for instance, some of the citizens of Galveston who survived the storm were given liquor for their nerves and pressed into service at gunpoint by local authorities to clear dead and putrefying bodies from the wreckage; some were later partially compensated for their time with a small sum of money. Property owners, however, were exempted from mandatory clearing of debris and corpses.

Capital idea!  Get traumatized citizens drunk, and then force them to clear away wreckage and dead bodies at gunpoint!  Good thinkin’, Ron Paul!

Go and read the rest of the piece, though.  It’s really enlightening to compare the way disasters affect us now to the way they affected us a century ago.

Larry Fahey for The Rumpus: Return of the Movie Binge

This is by far the most fun and creative movie review I’ve ever read – and I read FILM CRIT HULK!  Basically, our friend Larry spends a day theater-hopping on one matinee ticket.  Seven movies in one day.  Holy smokes.  And this would be a fun concept on its own, but it’s made so much better by the fact that Fahey is amazing.  Take the beginning of his review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which I’m totally psyched about, by the way):

I always think of science fiction as our most earnest genre, and for me it’s often an uncomfortable union of big ideas and ridiculous execution. Take Star Trek, for instance. How can I seriously consider the weighty philosophical issues so often promoted in science fiction when I have to look at aliens that are nothing but homely character actors wearing plastic foreheads? I can’t, is the answer. Over and above budget consideration, even the most revered science fiction movies are often marred by heavy-handed symbolism that undermines any interesting themes. For me, the gold standard of distractingly earnest, homemade-looking sci-fi has always been the rubber masks and ridiculous tunics of the original Planet of the Apes.

I’m with ya, Larry.

So aside from getting seven movie reviews in one go, Larry also shares with us some of the survival techniques of extreme movie-going, including what to pack and how to avoid getting caught.

I really can’t think of a higher commendation for this piece, and if you read nothing else this week, read this one.


Surprise! No Monday Column!

29 Aug

It’s been a busy day, but the spambots are out in full force to boost my self esteem!

Effectively stated and with wonderful timing

Hey, thanks, bro!

Now that is some excellent writing.

Daw, you shouldn’t have.

One of the more impressive blogs Ive seen. Thanks so much for keeping the internet classy for a change. Youve got style, class, bravado. I mean it. Please keep it up because without the internet is definitely lacking in intelligence.

You like me!  You really like me!

Spam of the Day

29 Aug

I haven’t felt so generically loved since the last time I went shopping for sex at Aldi.  WHAT!

I must say, youve got one of the best blogs Ive seen in a long time. What I wouldnt give to be able to create a blog thats as interesting as this. I guess Ill just have to keep reading yours and hope that one day I can write on a subject with as much knowledge as youve got on this one!

Five stars for making me feel special in a really nonspecific way!

Fridays Are Beautiful

26 Aug

A toddler in a pageant; text reads: "Eden's favourite food is everything..."A toddler in a pageant; text reads, "... and her ambition is to rule the world."This past week, I wrote over on Orange the Brave about the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras.  I don’t watch the show myself, but I get uncomfortable criticizing the girls on the pageant circuit because like… they’re girls.  All girls deserve respect.  And clearly, some of them are having a freaking good time and are little spitfire individuals.  Gotta love that a pageant kid’s favorite food is “everything.”

I have felt kind of under the weather all week, and have not felt too productive, so I don’t have much to share with you.  Instead, I’ll just cross-post a true story that I originally shared on Tumblr:

This morning at work, I was hit with the undeniable urge to pee.  This happens every few hours for me – you know, I have to pee.  Every few hours.  And because I had to pee, I went to the bathroom.

Let me tell you something about the ladies’ room at my office – it is a mixed fucking bag.  There are usually no less than five silverfish, creeping along in that almost viscous way they do, stark against the white tile floor.  One must hold the handle on both of the toilets in order for whatever one has just evacuated to be flushed away, and because of this, I often discover “surprises” waiting for me.

So when I tell you that I walked into the bathroom to be greeted by the foulest stench I have ever encountered, know that I have happened upon toilet bowls full of menstrual blood, vomit, and shit of every consistency in that bathroom – and none of that smelled as rancid as it smelled this morning.

Being the good citizen that I am, I hastened to flush away whatever was causing the offending stench.  In the first stall, I lifted the lid on the toilet, and saw only clear water.  In the second stall, I opened the lid, and found what I was looking for.

It was pee.  It wasn’t particularly dark, but a bit more day-glo than I am used to – the urine of someone who consumes a lot of vitamins or glow sticks.  But what sickened me even more than the smell had already done was the fact that there was no paper mellowing in the toilet.  Just pee.

Considering where I work, it’s very unlikely that a man would pee in a ladies’ room.  I have to assume, then, that it was a woman who was responsible for the piss.  A woman who deigned to wipe her snatch.  A woman who, even now, must have traces of the rankest smelling urine on the planet drying in the crotch of her cotton panties.  And ye shall know her by her odor.

Have a beautiful and odor-free weekend!

[Image Source]

Links: All About Books Edition

25 Aug

Apologies for the lateness of this week’s installments.  I had a bug yesterday that I’m still recovering from today, and I’ve just felt kind of crappy in general.  But let’s get back to it, shall we?  Without further ado, here are my top three links from the past week:

Jonathan Gourlay for The Morning News: The Day Borders Got the Wobblies

I’ve mentioned before that I used to work at Borders, and that the chain’s liquidation has left me feeling both sad and triumphant.  This is the most elegantly written piece by a former Borders employee I’ve ever read that captures both what it felt like to be a cool employee of a cool company, and to feel the harsh chafing of a corporatocracy.  A passage that I particularly identified with:

 Poor Doug was an immigrant from the land of Blue Light Specials. He was now in charge of a funky bookstore where most of the workers held advanced degrees in esoteric subjects like Marxist Geography and Women’s Studies. How could we tell him that his very presence made us feel bad about ourselves? Not because of anything that he did but because of the fundamental essence of who he was. He was a boss, plain and simple. His K-Mart management style sucked all of the romance out of our bookstore and made us realize that what we really did was push product. You’d think that running the gauntlet of Howard Stern and Michael Crichton displays each day would have clued me in.

And I nodded my head so hard that I was in danger of knocking out a few teeth.

But most notable about this article is the recollection of Borders’ strained relationship with unionization.  I came on board some time after the first Borders in Ann Arbor, Michigan had unionized, and I remember being frequently intimidated and threatened.  The message was that if management heard of anyone even breathing on a union, they’d get the boot.

If the closing of Borders feels like the end of an era to you – or if you’ve ever worked for the chain – this article is truly a must-read (H/T to the New Yorker).

Robert Lipsyte for Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?

A recent study shows that boys read much less than girls.  Unsurprising.  Have you checked out the young adult section at your local Borde–oh wait… (too soon?).

Lots of young adult fiction – dare I say most of it – is geared toward girls, and one can see it by just taking a cursory glance at a stack of YA fiction (most of it is hot fucking pink).  Further, boys are less likely to read fiction (which is a shame, in my opinion – I barely read anything but fiction, though, so I’m biased).

And this article?  This article pissed me off.

The current surge in children’s literature has been fueled by talented young female novelists fresh from M.F.A. programs who in earlier times would have been writing midlist adult fiction. Their novels are bought by female editors, stocked by female librarians and taught by female teachers. It’s a cliché but mostly true that while teenage girls will read books about boys, teenage boys will rarely read books with predominately female characters.

So here it’s being framed as a problem that are too many women writing, and they’re writing about other women, and boys don’t want to read that.  How about we quit teaching our boys that they aren’t supposed to read about girls, hmm?  Also, why the fuck would women writers and women editors and women publishers be a problem?  Huh???  What do you, dear readers, make of this?

Sam Riley for The Rumpus: Your Reading List is About To Blow Up!

This isn’t really an article, but a bit of information about a super cool tool that I’m sure I’m going to get addicted to. works similarly to Pandora – tell it a book you like, and based on a “DNA” analysis of that book’s traits, BookLamp comes up with a buttload of recommendations for you.  I’m drooling.

In Which I Non-Apologize for Missing Yesterday’s Column (Again)

23 Aug

It has been pointed out to me that, while I said that I would be adhering to a posting schedule, I have not exactly followed through.  Now, the manners that my mother raised me on dictate that I ought to apologize (though really, I’m only sorry that I was admonished for my slacktitude), and then spend the next few days listing all of the ways in which I am inadequate in my internal monologue, and then spend a year in therapy undoing all of the damage I’ve done to my psyche.

But last night, I sat on the phone for an hour with my mother, and while a good portion of that time was spent howling and wailing about all of the ways she fucked up my childhood and, by extension, ruined THE REST OF MY FREAKIN’ LIFE, another part of it was spent discussing the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, and whether our uteruseses (uteri?) will compel us to vote for Palin or Bachmann (in case you didn’t know, my ideologies become moot when a woman runs for office – or at least that’s the logic McCain used when he selected Palin for a running mate in 2008 – TRUFAX!).

So I decided that instead of doing my usual apology/self-flagellation rigmarole, I’d take a page out of some of my favorite politicians’ playbooks, and offer some good, old-fashioned political non-apologies.  Because if it’s good enough for the nation, it’s good enough for the three of you who read my blog!

Governor Mark Sanford – “It’s not that I slacked off and failed to prepare a column, you guys.  I was fucking my mistress HIKING!  That’s the ticket!  I was totally hiking.”

President Bill Clinton – “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘schedule’ is.”

Congressman Anthony Weiner – “Look, maybe somebody hacked my WordPress account and instituted that posting schedule.  I mean, I can’t say with any certitude that that posting schedule is even mine.  No, no – we don’t need to get the FBI involved or anything.”

President Richard Nixon – “I am not a slacker.”

Further, I apologize for not being terribly creative about the political scandals I chose to poke fun at.  It just seemed like a bit of a stretch to try to spin Iran-Contra so it would be about my little ol’ blog.  :)

Seriously – I’m sorry about slacking.  I’m planning on skipping this week’s column, because over the weekend, I wrote not one, but two pieces on atheism, and that kind of leached all of my righteous indignation for a couple of days.

So!  I apologize to you, faithful readers, for not upholding my posting schedule, and, in true political form, I am hereby making a pledge to do better in the future (my fingers are crossed, by the way).

Addendum to Yesterday’s Post

20 Aug

Yesterday, I wrote that I have little tolerance for Christians who feel “unwelcome” in certain circles – be they writers, scientists, or academics.  I received a little pushback on Google+ from a good friend of mine, which made me think a little bit about what I wrote.

I maintain my point, but perhaps I should express it better.  Certainly, there are spaces in the U.S. where Christians might feel unwelcome.  I used to be a member of an online forum that was like that.  So religious folks might experience some condescension and asshole-ish behavior from non-religious folks, but I still don’t think that there is really anything in the U.S. that would prevent a Christian from doing what ze wants to do – whether ze wants to be a writer or an evolutionary biologist.

A panel from a rather famous comic by Gabby about discussing sexism online

via Gabby's Playhouse

Let’s make a feminism analogy – even though I said this wasn’t about feminism.  In the comic to the left, which has gotten a lot of notoriety since it was initially published at Gabby’s Playhouse (make sure you click the link to go see the whole thing – this is only one part of several), Gabby pokes some fun at the way some men tend to steal focus away from women on the internet.

You see, sometimes, dudes go into a feminist space, and sometimes they say something sexist, and then sometimes they get butthurt because they feel like everyone’s ganging up on them.  Social justice advocates and people who are versed in talking about such things might tell you that part of the reason a dude may feel shitty in a situation like that is because dudes are so used to operating in systems where their voices are privileged over everyone else’s, and so it feels uncomfortable for them to step into a space where that is not the case.

I’d argue similarly that when Christians get into spaces that aren’t Christian-dominated, they might feel a little uncomfortable.  I mean, after all, Christians make up a vast majority of the population – close to 80%.  So, the logic that many activists would use tells us that some of that belly-aching about feeling unwelcome in academia or art might be attributable to the fact that everything else in U.S. society is framed for Christians, and that discomfort is actually just the experience of things not being Christian-centric.

I recognize that that is extremely simplistic and does not account for asshole atheists.  I’m getting there.

Seriously guys – there are atheists who are assholes.  There are also Christians who are assholes, but nobody deludes themselves into thinking that just because some Christians do super asshole-y stuff that all Christians are assholes.  Are there some atheists out there who are self-righteous snobs?  Of course.  Assholes span all races, classes, and systems of belief, guys.  For serious.  THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.

But when we are talking about actual persecution and oppression, assholes have nothing to do with it.  Well, they often have something to do with it, but it has more to do with who holds power in a larger system.  So maybe a dude wanders into a feminist space and feels persecuted there (we don’t need to get into the reasons why – maybe he’s just being a baby, or maybe the ladies are actually being super mean to him) – that does not change the fact that we live in a society that systematically oppresses women.  And I’m not kidding – there are men out there* who really believe that just because some feminists have been mean to them, that men are an actual oppressed group in the U.S. (never mind the fact that women still tend to make roughly 25% less than men do when performing the same job, and never mind that most film, television, and literature is male-centric, and never mind… oh, whatever).

We also live in a society where atheists almost never achieve public office, where our currency says “God” on it, and where our president mentions “non-believers” in his inaugural speech, and Fox News throws a shit-fit about it.  Our federal holidays not only celebrate significant dates in American history, but also Christian holidays.  Our work week is designed to accommodate Christians.  I think I can pretty confidently say no one is oppressing a Christian in the United States based on hir religion.

Whether some people are mean to Christians… well, that’s a completely different discussion.  Maybe if all non-Christians made an agreement to not be assholes for a day, we could help disentangle the oppressors from the jerks.

[Image Source]

*This is not to say that there isn’t a place for men’s activism and that Men’s Rights groups have absolutely no grounds for their movements.  But when you encourage people to play “Feminazi Monopoly,” you have to wonder what the motivation is here – is it actually dealing with real issues that really affect men, or is it pushback against women’s rights movements?  You tell me.

Your Daily* Dose of WTF?: But What About the Christians???

19 Aug

First item: notice I’ve changed the name of this feature.  I think it reflects the spirit of what these little tidbits are meant to be better than the sexism thing.  Because I’m not always going to talk to you about sexism.

Case in point:

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like The Rumpus.  Okay, I’ve totally mentioned this before – my love for The Rumpus is deep and unadulterated.  I would do nasty things to The Rumpus (were it corporeal, of course).  I would whisper private things in The Rumpus’s ear as I let my fingers play over its skin.  I would usher it firmly and lovingly into a sexual awakening, and then The Rumpus would weep from both pleasure and catharsis because it’s never experienced a love like mine before.  That’s how much I love The Rumpus.

And because I love The Rumpus, I also love Dear Sugar: The Rumpus Advice Column.  I have mentioned time and time again that this is the only advice column you ever need to read.  It’s lyrically written with an acute understanding of victims and survivors, of self care, and of social justice.

And yesterday, Sugar got a question that made my head explode:

My dream is to take all the painful, gut-wrenching, soul lifting, breathtaking, fucked up and ordinary life experiences and turn them into stories that are beautiful and meaningful. I’m young and inexperienced and am desperate to learn and experiment with writing.

But there’s something that paralyzes me. I’m a Jesus-loving Christian.

The grad school I’m aiming for is a seminary because seeking understanding of my faith and reveling in its mystery is incredibly important for me. I don’t believe out of fear, but rather love. But I’m afraid that the beautifully open, tolerant writers and artists, like those I read circling in The Rumpus orbit, will not have room for someone like me because of what I love.

You read that right.  This person is writing to Sugar because ze is afraid that, as a Christian, ze will be discriminated against in the art world.

I can’t even.

First off, let me say that I am an atheist.  I was raised an atheist, I never felt like a believer, I never went through the whole “rejecting my faith” thing that a lot of atheists go through.  As such, I’m not really one of those atheists who felt like they had to fight for acceptance from their families or friends, and I’m just not interested in faith or whether someone’s got it (as long as that someone isn’t trying to ply me with it).  I will say, though, that when I was a kid – and to some extent, even now – I assumed that nobody really believed in God, because I didn’t.  It all just seemed so implausible to me, so rather than think that everyone who went to church was an idiot, I decided that they believed in God in the same way that I believe in ghosts and Bigfoot – I can’t give you any real proof that they exist, and I’ll readily admit that there’s probably more evidence negating their existence than there is affirming it, but I’m just going to kind of put that aside because I like ghost stories and Bigfoot gives me the heebie-jeebies, and I like having the heebie-jeebies.  And I’ll admit that then, as well as now, I sometimes catch myself thinking that the people who do genuinely believe (and those people, I think to myself, are very uncommon, because most people engage in the whole “suspension of disbelief” thing because believing in God feels better to them than not believing in God) – those people… well, they just don’t know any better.

I admit readily that it’s not terribly kind of me to think that way.  I know that it’s wrong, but it’s a thought that developed over many years and went unchecked for a long time because religion was just not something we discussed at my house.  We talked about how fat I am, and how much we loved Bill Clinton.  It’s a hard habit to break.

So yes – I’ll admit that I’m not terribly interested in reading Christian fiction.  I might even turn my nose up at it.

But don’t try to sell me the whole, “Christians are so persecuted!” line.  Don’t even think about it.  To me, it reeks of that bullshit where white men complain because minorities get college scholarships just because they’re minorities.  Like, yeah, that might be true, but are you seriously going to tell me that you, white dude, are being disadvantaged because a person of color is getting a break?  Fuck OFF!  (For the record, it’s more complicated than, here’s a pie, and the more he gets means the less you’ll get.  There are no pies in affirmative action – a la mode or otherwise.)

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Christians make up 78.4% of the adult population in the U.S.  Atheists – 1.6%.  An additional 2.4% identify as agnostic, and another 6.3% identify as “secular unaffiliated.”

So maybe us nonbelievers aren’t always super nice about our non-belief, and maybe some of us are even a bit snobbish about it (but trust me – we feel really fucking bad about it and continuously try to tamp it down), but there is no fucking way that a non-Christian is ever going to keep a Christian from doing something in the U.S. – not when Christians make up nearly 80% of the adult population.  You can put your persecution complex away now, thanks.

Spam of the Day

18 Aug

This is literally sitting in my WordPress spam folder AS WE SPEAK!  It is, hands down, the best spam I have ever gotten.

A guy walks into a bar.

Guy: “Hey, barkeeper, give me a beer.”

Barkeeper: “Tell you what, if you can make that horse out there laugh, I will give you a free beer and $500.”

So the guy walks outside and whispers to the horse. The horse laughs. The guy walks back in.

Guy: “Where’s my $500 and free beer?”

Barkeeper: “Alright, double or nothing says you can’t make that horse cry.”

The guy walks outside again. The barkeep chuckles to himself as he’s cleaning a glass and misses what the guy does, but he hears the horse crying. The guy comes back in.

Guy: “Alright, where’s my $1000 and two free beers?”

Barkeeper: “What did you say to make the horse laugh?”

Guy : “I told him I have a bigger penis than him.”

Barkeeper: “What did you do to make him cry?”

Guy: “I showed him.”

Dick jokes FTW.

Your Daily* Sexism Digest: Weight Loss > Oscar

18 Aug

Okay, so this isn’t about sexism, but Your Daily* Sexism Digest doesn’t really have to be (I decided just now).  Maybe I should change the name of this feature… any bright ideas?

Anyway, I was reading along at Jezebel, and I happened upon this poop nugget of celebrity news, and it was just too wtf-ey to pass up.  According to Jennifer Hudson, her weight loss is more awesome than her Oscar.

You read that correctly.

Here’s what Margaret Hartmann reports:

She explains that she had an epiphany when an (incredibly rude) interviewer asked her what it was like to be plus-sized in Hollywood. Hudson says, “I looked around, like, Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I’m plus-sized? In the neighborhood I’m from in Chicago, a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out.” She adds, “I’m prouder of my weight loss than my Oscar!”

Was it Kate Moss who said that thing about how “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?”  I think the new weight-loss mantra of the decade is going to be, “Even winning an Oscar sucks if you’re a giant fatass.”

Fuck off, Jennifer Hudson.