Thursday, June 29, 2006

Touched by Mary Gross

When I was fifteen and in sophmore gym class, I decided to give jockdom another chance. I had recently broken up with my first real boyfriend, and was in the mood for a change. Previously I had avoided gym class, and when I couldn't avoid it, participated as little as possible.

I didn't start out that way. When I was about nine, I really wanted to be a jock. I joined a girls softball team and went from bad shortstop to semi-adequate outfielder. My team, the Bensalem Doves, was actually good in spite of me - we won the division championship both years I was on the team, and the second year we were undefeated. So I got two trophies just like everybody else. But the only way I could claim credit for our record was, maybe, that I psyched the other teams out by making the sign of the cross when they came up to bat. I was very religious as a kid, ironically.

I don't think I ever actually learned all the rules of softball while I was on the team, and I spent most of my time on the field hoping that the ball wouldn't come to me. So in spite of my proto-feminist belief that it was important for girls to play sports as much as boys I was a lousy jock. And after the second year in softball, I admitted it and didn't try to fight it any more - until I was fifteen and depressed and looking for a way to redefine myself.

Bad move.

I don't know why they allow kids to play field hockey without helmets. They didn't provide helmets in my day, and I'm told kids are still not required to wear them. Who the hell thinks it's a good idea to distribute long heavy wooden sticks to a group of adolescents wearing nothing more protective than gym shorts and t-shirts and tell them all to try to hit a tiny ball at the same time?

Now I know even less about the rules of field hockey than I did the rules of softball when I was a player, but I'm pretty sure it's not considered good form, at the very least, to raise your field hockey stick over your head and then slam it down on the ball like you're playing golf. But nobody told Mary Gross.

So there I am, back on the jock trail, chasing after Mary Gross, who was controlling the ball. She decides to go for a hole in one. She swings her stick violently up and back and connects with my face, knocking me out for maybe five seconds. The next thing I remember was the gym teacher quickly hustling me off to the school nurse, more annoyed that I delayed the game slightly than worried about my welfare. I ran with the blood streaming. The field hockey stick had rammed my lower lip into my upper right tooth, ripping a big gash in my lip. I had to have a bunch of stitches - big long black ones that protruded straight out from my lip, just in time for a Halloween party - and yes, my ex-boyfriend was at the Halloween party.

After it was all healed, my lower lip was uneven - the scarred side was slightly lower than the other. This was bad, and at first I thought that was the only permanent disfigurement. It took me years to realize that my nose had been broken. I had always had a small hump on my nose, but now it was also out of alignment from left to right - and got worse over the years. My septum was deviated. Eventually I had rhinoplasty. That was ten years ago.

Even more slow to develop, but just as ugly, was my discolored tooth. When Mary Gross literally hit me with an ugly stick, she also killed my upper right tooth. Over the decades it slowly, steadily became discolored. I tried various whitening schemes until a dentist finally declared it dead and said no amount of topical treatment would lighten it up.

So today, finally, all these years later, I have corrected the last effect of the touch of Mary Gross. I had a nice white veneer placed on that tooth. Now I'm ready to get back in the saddle again - I'm ready to give physical fitness, at least, a chance. But nothing that involves free-swinging wooden sticks, that's just madness.

An Inconvenient Truth - with a bullet

An Inconvenient Truth is the 7th highest grossing documentary of all time, and unlike numbers 1 - 6, is still in theatres.

UPDATE An Inconvenient Truth is now number 5 and closing in fast on Madonna's Truth or Dare.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Huck Finn blog



I have a new blog up, to help promote my play in progress HUCK FINN. The blog is also a tribute to Mark Twain, who was very focused on promoting his work any way possible.

I was fed-up with Blogger when I began the site, so created my own blog, using SQL and ASP to connect the front-end to the database, although I still need to do a little tweaking of the text handling. But if Google wants to buy my blog service too, I'm cool with that.

The logo for the play is based on a significant event in the story. I wonder if people will get that.

The site includes my ongoing project of recording the entire original novel's text narrative. I had to do it myself, since I don't know any 13 - 15 year old boys who want to do all that work for free. But hell, I think I sound more like the character than Garrison Keillor or any of the other adult males who read the unabridged versions available on iTunes.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The atheists nightmare



From the good Rev. Bookburn and You Tube:
The atheist's nightmare: the banana
Kirk Cameron seems a bit skeptical.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I get emails

This choice item showed up last week in my Inbox:
This is the whiney and unfairly remunerated Daphne Merkin reporting in, having stumbled on your blog late this night instead of sleeping or finishing reading D.H. Lawrence's THE RAINBOW. Aside from insulting me, you sound like a generally unreflective and overly self-regarding person. >From glancing quickly at your bio, I gather your own "feminist" credentials are less than wonderful, since you seem to have abandoned one early putative interest (illustrating) for another ( playacting) on the basis of meeting a "beautiful young man." Your blog makes me fshudder on behalf of bloggerdom, seething as it is with envy and bravado and received wisdom. I hope your plays are better than this.
Now I still haven't confirmed that this is the actual Daphne Merkin, but if it isn't her, somebody sure can do a great parody, from the revelation of a mundane-yet-pretentious detail of her life: "...finishing reading D.H. Lawrence's THE RAINBOW..."; to the utter cluelessness on the subject of feminism: "I gather your own "feminist" credentials are less than wonderful..." to the pitch-perfect whine and operatic grievance that suffuses her every written thought.

For those of you who don't know, Daphne Merkin is a writer who has been published in the New Yorker and the NYTimes - she seems to have a regular slot in the Times' Sunday Magazine.

I certainly hope it WAS Daphne Merkin though. The thought that I might have given her a moment's discomfort, and slowed down her project of reading the entire Great Authors Home Library Collection almost makes up for many and sundry moments of utter frustration and itchy trigger finger I experienced before I wised up and began ignoring anything connected to her byline.

And in fact, the item that "Daphne Merkin" responded to was written after I began to disregard her work. I wrote an item way back in February (ancient history in blogland), in response to an item on Pandagon, where Amanda happened to catch the Merkin show at the NYTimes. When I received the email it took me a few moments to remember what in tarnation she was on about.

I'm guessing that Merkin recently learned how to Google her own name which is how she came to find my remarks about her. But when I Googled her name myself I discovered my item on page 13 of the hits for "Daphne Merkin." The Pandagon article was on page 10. And Amanda and I are certainly not the only people on the Internet to say something critical or unflattering about Daphne Merkin. I see that Granny Gets a Vibrator at the top of page 10 of the Merkin hit parade says:
So in today’s NYT Magazine, whiny defeatist anti-feminist Daphne Merkin informs us that there’s nothing hot about women over 45.

“It would seem fairly self-evident,” she declares based on the flimsiest anecdotal evidence she could muster, “that as women enjoy longer and more active lives in a culture that venerates youth, especially in women, something's gotta give — and what gives, mostly, are men.”

And even earlier, on page 3 of the Merkin Google hits, is a Susie Bright article at the Huffington Post in which Bright says:
Meet Daphne Merkin, The Lady Who Talks Dirty But Hates Sex.

Daphne's latest think-piece, Our Vaginas Ourselves, appeared two weeks ago Sunday's Times magazine. (I wanted to respond more quickly, but was distracted by L'Affaire Leroy).

It starts out with a promising lede: "These are cruel times for vaginas." Go, Daphne, Go!

She began to talk about those awful operations that some Beverly Hills plastic surgeons promote, to refigure your labia and sew your hymen back together. I can't type the description without wincing!

But why is this surgery a new trend? Why does feminine self-loathing seem to be going over the edge?
You are not going to believe Daphne's answer.

According to Merkin, this nightmare has came to pass because feminists in the '70s looked at their vulvas, schooled themselves in gynecology, and demanded to have a say in reproductive rights!

GONG, please!

"Truth be told, I always considered myself lucky to have escaped coming of age at the height of the consciousness-raising era, when anatomical self-examination took on the aspect of a collective ritual. Those were the days when women felt obliged to convene in sisterly circles with mirrors and flashlights the better to study their bodies, themselves. Never having been one to enjoy group activities of any sort, the thought of becoming more closely acquainted with my private parts in a public setting seems potentially traumatizing rather than liberating or, God knows, celebratory."

Indeed, it has always seemed to me that one of the singular advantages of being a woman lies precisely in the "dark continent" quality of our genital cartography...

What a piece of work. The only reason Daphne even knows what a speculum is, or has the legal right to abortion, or maybe even a clue what is involved in clitoral consciousness-raising, is because of revolution initiated by the very women she disdains. I'd call her a cunt, but frankly, she hasn't earned it.

What is she talking about, women "OBLIGED" to perform genital examinations in PUBLIC EXHIBITIONS? Is she high?


The Bright article goes on to quote the great Betty Dodson - whom Merkin could certainly learn a thing or two from - taking Merkin to task.

So lots of people think that Daphne Merkin is a hopeless, regressive feminist-bashing whine-meister besides me. Is that what Merkin meant when she accused my blog of seething with "received wisdom?"

Did Merkin Google her own name and then go down the list, shooting off defensive, whiney screeds to anybody who ever complained about her? Are famous (famous-ish at least) well-paid editorialists that incredibly petty? And what about poor neglected David Herbert?

I will have more to say about Merkin's idiotic comment about the spark that ignited my playwriting career presently.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

Find teh funny - Alan Keyes edition



See the whole thing here.

Frequent challenges at Pandagon.

note from Karl Rove

Hey guys,

I wasn't indicted. That's the good news. The bad news is that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Let's face it, we fucked up. Iraq is now rife with ethnic cleansing and summary executions. Global warming is getting worse, and that robot boy Al Gore is getting attention with his dog and pony show.

How to deal? In the time honored fashion - shoot the messengers and blame the scapegoats.

If ANYBODY suggests that Iraq isn't a shining example of democracy, attack them. I don't care how. If you think of something really low down and mean, and don't want to say it yourself, send it to Ann Coulter. So long as it's low down and mean, she'll say it. Keep up the good work with infiltrating the major news organizations with operatives. And if somebody notices all the operatives, start screaming, 24/7 about the leftist slant of the mainstream media.

Don't count out linking Iraq to Al Qaida. I realize that there's a certain percentage of people now who don't believe that Saddam was behind 9-11. But guess what - there are still plenty of people who do! God I love this job.

Whenever the base starts to get restless, you can easily stampede them back into the herd with our two big dogs: Terrorism and Homosexuality. There's nothing that scares Ma and Pa Johnson out in Bumfuk South Dakota like the thought of a bunch of Arabs blowing up the world's biggest ball of string, or a bunch of gays waltzing into the Johnson homestead, stealing Ma's wardrobe and making a pass at Pa.

Remember, if the base had a chance to fix Iraq and end global warming, but along with it had to give gays "special rights", they would gladly see Iraq's streets flowing with blood and the polar ice caps burst into flames.

And never forget - Dear Leader has been appointed by God to be the Decider. To question his Decisions is to question God.

Karl

Friday, June 16, 2006

Pollitt's back

After months of hiatus from her Nation column to work on a book, Katha Pollitt is back, and saying something that many of us have also been saying to Nader voters and fans of Daily Kos:
For more than thirty years, opposition to legal abortion has nourished right-wing politics at the grassroots. The right, you see, never got the memo about abortion being a trivial "cultural" issue, or the one about how a strong uncompromising position would alienate potential recruits. Liberals got those memos. Liberals got other ones too, and not just on abortion: Don't bother with small rural conservative states. Build big top-down Beltway organizations that don't give members much to do except send money and e-mail their Representatives. Focus on the national picture--the White House, Congress and, above all, the courts.


You go, Katha Pollitt.

The New York Times should hire her now, in spite of its quota of one female op-ed columnist for every seven males.

How to spin Paul McCartney into a conservative hero

Pity the poor conservatives. So many people in the arts are flat-out liberals. But some conservatives like pop music too, just like normal people. Which pop music celebrities can they celebrate, without running the risk of promoting liberal causes?

Paul McCartney turns 64 on Sunday, and The National Review Online has an editorial about it. So I'm reading, I'm reading, and the author is talking about McCartney's career, and her own career as a teen magazine journalist, and I'm reading and I'm going "where is the conservative spin"? I mean, I knew that McCartney is an agnostic, a vegetarian, a peacenik, and like the other Beatles was always opposed to the war in Viet Nam. He may not have been as vocal about it, but McCartney is no less a liberal than John Lennon was on a whole slew of issues.

So how is the rightwing bitch gonna spin this? And finally, the answer comes at the end:
Linda and Paul met at a small press reception for the release of the Sergeant Pepper album, the very first time “When I’m Sixty Four” was played in public. A shrewd, fierce New Yorker, she created on their Sussex farm (while her family handled Paul’s money) a very private and quite simple—considering their fortune—family-focused life for the singer, especially when their four children were growing up.

In contrast, Heather Mills, according to her many critics, is an attention-seeking gold-digger obsessed with her causes, which include animal rights, and especially the hunting of baby seals.


So THAT'S it. Bitch is going to jump on the press's whipping girl, Heather Mills and paint her as a greedy liberal bitch who forced poor Beatle Paul to care about those stupid animals! You'd think that Mills having a child with McCartney during the brief marriage would have mollified the wingnuts, but she's needed as a symbol, so forget that. She must be contrasted to the good wife, family-values Linda.

Now of course conservatives won't hear anything that might impact their simplistic beliefs about the world, but Linda McCartney was no fucking Stepford Wife conservative ideal. BEFORE she hooked up with McCartney she was a divorced single mom working as a photographer. Once they were married, she was the one who got Paul to become a vegatarian. And why did they become vegetarians? Out of compassion for animals. Linda McCartney was a huge animal rights supporter.

Holy hopping jesus on a pogo stick. The only mystery about conservatives is - are they really that stupid, or are they really that shameless?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I love Al Gore



And the fact that our country is run by an ethically deficient cretin instead of this good and decent and thoughtful man is a tragedy, not only for this country, but maybe for all human civilization.

Republicans should hang their heads in shame. They are the ones to blame when the environmental shit hits the fan.

If you haven't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" GO SEE IT NOW!

Friday, June 09, 2006

We are living under a virtual dictatorship

From The New York Review of Books
The President's recent political weakness hasn't caused the White House to back away from its claims of extraordinary presidential power. The Republican lobbyist Vin Weber says, "I think they're keenly aware of the fact that they're politically weakened, but that's not the same thing as the institution of the presidency being damaged." People with very disparate political views, such as Grover Norquist and Dianne Feinstein, worry about the long-term implications of Bush's power grab. Norquist said, "These are all the powers that you don't want Hillary Clinton to have." Feinstein says, "I think it's very dangerous because other presidents will come along and this sets a precedent for them." Therefore, she says, "it's very important that Congress grapple with and make decisions about what our policies should be on torture, rendition, detainees, and wiretapping lest Bush's claimed right to set the policies, or his policies themselves, become a precedent for future presidents."

James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 47:

The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

That extraordinary powers have, under Bush, been accumulated in the "same hands" is now undeniable. For the first time in more than thirty years, and to a greater extent than even then, our constitutional form of government is in jeopardy.

more on the patriarchy's double-standards

Via Ann Bartow

Cable TV's premium Playboy channel is about to take all those dating reality shows a step further with its new show, "Foursome."

Playboy TV will roll out the half-hour show July 8. It will take two couples each week and follow them for 24 hours to see if they end up in the sack, Daily Variety reported.

Every move will be recorded -- including bedroom moves.

Among the more racy episodes revealed by Playboy is one in which one of the men is so obnoxious, he drives the women into each others' arms.


The network said while women are being encouraged to discover "their inner bisexuality," man-on-man action is being strictly banned from the show.



Of course. Because so many straight men are incredibly hostile to homosexuality - unless it is between women.

Bunch of hypocrites and gender fascists.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Go Al Gore!


This cartoon appears in this week's New Yorker. You can buy a print at the Cartoon Bank

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The New Yorker has a great review of "An Inconvenient Truth" in the latest issue. I especially liked this
(Gore) knows that people find him exasperating, and he has learned to modulate his voice; one has the impression of a complex personality that has gone through loss, humiliation, a cruel breaking down of the ego, and then has reintegrated itself at a higher level. In the movie he is merely excellent. But in person—he is on a speaking tour to promote the movie—he presents a combination of intellectual force, emotional vibrancy, and moral urgency that has hardly been seen in American public life in recent years. It will be interesting to watch how skeptics will deal with Gore’s bad news on the environment without making themselves look very small.
An Incovenient Truth web site.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fun at the Women's Center



Click to watch the video

Back in the day, my friend Bob and I did security for a women's health clinic in South Jersey. Well, Bob did security and I videotaped him doing it. Sometimes we got a little silly, as in this video clip.