Monday, August 29, 2005

Reason Not to Call Myself a Christian #72

'Kay, so this guy named Rev. Fred Phelps has decided that "God hates fags" (his words) so much that He actually started the war in order to kill American soldiers as retribution for defending America -- a country that tolerates homosexuality. I swear, I'm not making this up. This guys has a church in (where else?) Kansas that consists mostly of his children, grandchildren and in-laws, and they have been protesting the funerals of Tennessee national guardsmen killed in Iraq.

How sick is that? Aside from the fact that it lets Bush off the hook for starting an illegal and immoral war, it also fastens the blame on the one person who doesn't deserve it and in whose teachings such a things is strictly prohibited -- God. This only goes to prove my point that Christianity, while used by a few to promote love and peace, is mostly an instrument of evil -- especially in Kansas. I think Christianity should be banned in Kansas. Kansans simply don't know how to use it properly. It's like a loaded gun to them.

Somebody needs a good smitin', that's all I can say. (Do you need a permit to smite someone? Where do I apply for one?)


Sunday, August 28, 2005

"Where Math and Art Collide"

In my efforts to finish my school projects, I've been drawn back to digital art in a big way. Rather than clog this blog (which is already clogged enough with my endless opinion and mockery, thank you), I've started an artblog, which I will occasionally be updating as time permits. I'll post updates here, so you don't have to worry about checking in randomly to see if there's anything new.

It's called "Where Math and Art Collide," which was the title of a piece of flame fractal art (see above) I did a couple of years ago. Pop in and see what's what. It's not like I'll be exhibiting at LACMA any time soon, but it's a nice release for someone like me, who has pictures (to go with the voices) in her head, but very little drawing skill with which to express them.



Friday, August 26, 2005

Insert Shameless Incestuous Blog-Interpromotion Here

Okay, guys.... Naked Voodoo Chicken Dance is in a coma. I've done a long, fully illustrated blog post on the benefits of nerdy-sexy men, and no one is reading it. I need you to give me kudos. KUDOS, DAMN YOU ALL!!! I've been kudoless for nearly... well... it's been at least a couple of days now, and I am starting to get the shakes.

Well? What's keeping you? Go on. Click the link. My enormous, unchecked ego and I will be waiting here when you get back.


The Voodoo Chicken God must be appeased....

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Last Quarter Countdown

I registered today for my last quarter as an undergrad. And, here we go:

(SCI 335) Environmental Landscapes (3 units) -- this is being offered as both a LIT class (of which I have plenty) and a SCI class (of which I need two units), so I'm taking it as a science. We'll be studying about conservation and restoration of what the professor calls "urban wilderness" areas, as well as becoming more aware of our environment as an environment (as opposed, presumably, to simply the space we occupy) -- a biosphere with interdependent systems and organisms, etc. We're going on a field trip to the Ballona Wetlands. It's a quarter-mile from the front door of the university.

LIT 374 Edge Conditions: Women in Greek Antiquity (3 units) -- The professor removed her syllabus (presumably to make some changes), so I can only tell you that she's using the Greek classics (Antigone, Odysseus, The Theban Plays, Symposium Phaedras) as an exploration of what life and society was like for women of the age (men off at war, women at home tending the fires, etc.).

LIT 390B Special Topics in Children's Literature: Retelling the Myth of Romantic Love (1 unit) --I'm taking this one-day seminar because I was supposed to take in my very first quarter, and got sick the day it took place. I like the professor and I like the idea -- how fairytales and fables shape our ideas of romantic love. I also love the title of the primary textbook (Don't Bet on the Prince).

So, there you have it. My final quarter. Of course, I'll have to finish this one first. And I do have all those papers to write, don't I? Ew... I'd better get started.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Speaking of Referrals (I was -- You weren't)

I have been trying to slowly build traffic on the Chron, lo, these many weeks. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "If you want to build traffic on this site, why don't you sit your butt down and write more posts, you lazy welp!" And you're right, of course.

However, since my time is at a premium these days (I have an MFA application due September 1st, and all my papers for my penultimate undergrad quarter due a week later), I'm away from the Chron more than I'd like. It might get worse next quarter -- it being my last and all.

In any case, I have been using my trusty Bravenet counter to monitor how traffic is coming to the Chron. Most of it is through direct hits, which is heartening, because it means that a lot of you guys have me bookmarked and just keep coming back for more torture rhetorical misadventure. Some of my traffic is coming from the blog registries (Blog Explosion and Blogazoo) sites. I also get a lot of hits from other sites, like Damp Dog, Do They Have Salsa In China, The Lucidity and Lunacy of Millicent Frastley, Skinnydipping with the President and A Twist of Kate, either because they've been gracious enough to put me in their links, or because I've commented on their posts. That's a nice feeling, too.

Every now and then, though, I get a search result as the referrer. I can't help myself. I feel compelled to click on the link and find out what was searched that brought up the Chron. Almost invariably, it is a search for something containing the word "naked." Presumably, the many mentions of the Chron's sister blog, Naked Voodoo Chicken Dance, creates a Chron hit. Today's search was an MSN scour for "naked tide." Yesterday, somebody googled "naked voodoo."

I guess what I want to know is… who are you people and why are you so obsessed with naked things? I mean, do we need to call someone? Because I just think this absorption over nudity is really unwarranted, and more than a little unhealthy. Admitting that you need help is the first step to a new life. I just saying....

Anyway, I have to go finish typing my admissions dialogue. After this quarter's over, we'll sit down and have a nice, long chat about science and the miracle of human nakedness. Perhaps if I answer all your questions, you guys won't be so idly curious.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Don't Know Much About...

....the precise history of the Gaza strip, except that it has been the bone of contention between the Palestinians and Israelis for decades. As the Israeli Army continues to remove Jewish settlers from the strip, though, it becomes more and more apparent that this is a staggering deeply personal story, without regard to politics.

There's been some random violence. A few settlers have vowed not to be unearthed quietly. They believe it is their land -- because that is what they were told when they moved there -- and now, they are less concerned with someone else's political expedience than they are the wellbeing of their own families. I hear ya.

However, the saddest, most poignant part about it is that young Israeli soldiers, who have been raised to believe that theWest Bank is part of the Israeli homeland, and plays a vital role in maintaining a safe, sovereign Israel, have been ordered to unsettle their fellow countrymen. It is clearly taking its toll, not only on the dislocated Gaza settlers, but on the soldiers as well. Young men and women torn between their dedication to duty and their strong patriotic political beliefs.

How do we humans get ourselves into these messes? And, once in, why can't we seem to get out without somebody winding up with a broken heart?


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Very Jackson Breakfast

I was only a little surprised to find myself standing next to Jermaine Jackson at Starbuck's this morning. It's happened before. The Jacksons live all over Encino, and I have, at various times, co-coffeed with Jermaine, Randy and one or both of those non-Janet sisters (I can never tell them apart). Usually, though, it's at the "other" Starbucks -- the one I only go to if I just happen to be shopping at Barnes and Noble next door, or they run out of toffee nut syrup at my "home" Starbucks. Today, Jermaine was at my Starbucks.

Today, he stepped onto my turf.

This was the first day I've seen a Jackson since Michael's trial ended, and I found myself wanting to reach over and slap his perfectly coiffed head!! I was shocked at the level of my animosity. I suppose it's misdirected. It's Michael who has behaved badly. But the weekly show of support from his family was somehow infuriating this time. Walking in and waving to the crowd as if they were going in to perform at a reunion concert. Sickening.....

Should I be mad at Jermaine for supporting his brother? It seems to be unfair, when taken out of context. I'm usually the first to understand when a mother, father or a family member says, "Johnny's been so misjudged. The prosecutor is just on a witchhunt. Johnny would never do that." What are they going to say? Only when faced with the most egregious, incontrovertible evidence (such as with Jeffrey Dahmer) will parents say, "Yep. Johnny did it, the no-good little bastard." For the record, even after admitting his guilt, Jeffrey Dahmer's mother said, "But he's my son and I can't help loving him."

Totally understandable. He may be a monster, but he's her monster, dangitall, and it was her right to love him.

So why am I so peeved at the Jacksons? I think it has to do with what most people believe is the root cause of Michael Jackson's problem -- whether its pedophilia or just plain felonious whack-assedness.

His family.

Starting with those parents, Joe and Katherine (frankly the name is too good for her). He of the driving ambition and the reputedly hellacious temper tantrums. She of the Haldol-sanded edges and the submissive, "anything my husband says is fine with me, let's go shopping," passivity. Michael Jackson grew up in a house where only one person ever said no to him -- his father. Once he was out from under Daddy Joe's vice-like grip, he went wild. No one's crossed him since. Oh, sure, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has tried -- TWICE. But to no avail. I'm sure, once Thriller was released, even his brothers were, like, "Yes, Michael. Anything you say, Michael. Just keep paying Mom and Pop's mortgage, so they don't got to come and live with us!"

In a few months, after things die down, Michael will go back to his slumber parties and his spikey coke cans and his Neverland daze. And his family will stand by and do nothing. Jermaine Jackson is a daddy, with children (nearly grown now) of his own. How can he stand by and watch what is, at it's best, highly, highly inappropriate behavior between a grown man and children, and what is, at its worst, child molestation, and do nothing?

That's what I thought of today as we both waited for our grande lattes, side by side, with me using every ounce of self-control to stop myself reaching over and just smacking the side of his head like a tetherball on a kids' playground. "See evil and do nothing, will ya, Jermaine? Well, take that! And that! And THAT!!" You get the idea.

I used to have a crush on Jermaine. He's by far the best looking of them all. When I was twelve and Jermaine was sixteen, I wanted to marry him. But it's all over between us now. I'm sure, if he had any idea of that, he'd be devastated.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Freudian much?

After making the Nagasaki/Sharon Tate post yesterday, then going off to school, while I was sitting in class, it suddenly hit me that August 9th is another anniversary. On August 9th, 1991, my mother died of a stroke. She was 57 years old.

Not really surprising that I didn't remember, given our history. But it is my history, and the history of one is as important as the history of many.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

August 9th, Historically Speaking

Today is the 60-year anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb nicknamed Fat Man on Nagasaki. Nagasaki wasn't the original target of the bomb. Kokura was the primary target. But when heavy cloud cover made it impossible for the bombadier to zero in on a target, the industrial area outside of Nagasaki was chosen instead. The Japanese later coined the phrase, "Kokura's luck" to characterize a near-miss situation. Undoubtedly, though, the citizens of Kokura must have suffered some significant ill effects due to the proximity to Nagasaki. Though Fat Man was the bigger of the two bombs, it did less damage and caused less initial casualty because it was dropped on the outskirts of the city (39,000 to Hiroshima's 80,000). Still, nearly 40,000 people is the size of a small American city, and the idea that so many people were wiped from the face of the earth in a fraction of a second is stunning and saddening.

This time, though I had to dig for it, I did find a CNN article on the memorial. I guess you can only get so much mileage out of Cindy Sheehan, prison breaks and Discovery landings before you actually have to report on world news.

Today is another, less monumental but no less tragic anniversary. On this day, in 1969, Sharon Tate, her unborn child, three house guests, and a young man visiting her groundskeeper were killed by the Manson family in the house on Cielo Drive. I remember sitting across from my mother at the International House of Pancakes, looking at the photos as she read the news coverage inside. My mother never read at the table, so I knew that this was something especially horrendous. The discovery over time that it was the senseless act of a bunch of brainwashed, stoned kids who freely followed a psychotic middle-aged ex-con only added to the intense horror. It was my awakening to the potential of humans to perpetrate tremendous evil.

So, today we commemorate two events that, in their own ways, altered the way perceive each other and regard each other.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Silence Speaks Volumes

Tomorrow (August 6th) is the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. BBC online ran this cover story, covering the gathering of thousands of Japanese in Hiroshima's Peace Park to commemorate the event and remember the thousands killed.

I'd link to the story on CNN about this, but, golly... there's just isn't one.

Now, before we go getting all lovey-dovey regarding the dropping of the A-bomb, let me tell you something that might shock you. I think it was -- given the events leading up to it, and the fact that Truman gave the Japanese every conceivable opportunity to surrender prior to it -- the right thing to do. They were never going to surrender. They would have just gone on flying planes into the decks of our ships until the very last plane. And, while they didn't have a lot of planes left, and had fewer pilots than they cared about (the average age of the kamikaze pilot was around 17 by the end of the war, if I remember correctly), we still had a couple of sailors we wanted to bring home. And, not to sound too grade-school about it, but the Japanese started it.

So we shouldn't be apologetic. I mean, we're sorry civilians died, but we're sorry Japanese fanaticism left us with no other options. Besides, my philosophy is that we'll apologize to the Japanese for the thousands of dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki the day they apologize to the Chinese for the million plus they raped and killed in Manchuria. Live by the sword, and all that rubbish....

But here's the thing. Truman was tortured by the decision to deploy Fat Man and Little Boy. He was up nights, trying to find other options. It was a big deal. It still is. There are people in Japan still suffering the aftereffects of this cataclysm. Shouldn't our news agencies be just as interested in covering commemorative events as the BBC is?

I don't know. Maybe they're all planning on a big fiesta tomorrow. But the Japanese are standing in Peace Park as I type these words, lighting candles and weeping and praying for the long-dead. Yet, the biggest American online news source doesn't breathe a word of it. Aside from a blurb about the TIME magazine issue covering the anniversary, there's nothing about it. Not. One. Word.

Does it speak to our humanity as a nation that we could turn our backs on such a violent historic event? If we felt it was such a right thing to do, then cannot we afford to be big about it, acknowledge it, own it, and move on? Are we too concerned with the possibility that parallels might be drawn between that war and this? August 6, 1945 was a momentous day in United States History, people. Our president (who had not been elected into the office, mind you) had to give an order that no president had ever given in history, nor has since had to give, nor should ever have to give. And it ended a huge, devastating world war. 58 years later, another president who (it could be and has been argued) was also not elected into office made another big decision -- only this one was to start a huge and devastating war.

On August 6th, if you happen to think of it, just have the decency to stop what you are doing for just a moment, and remember that on a sad, sad day, 80,000 people died in the blink of an eye, and nearly that many died over the course of the following months. And if you forget, but it occurs to you a day or two later, then try to remember again on August 9th, to consider Nagasaki.

Now, 60 years later, it's meaningless to dwell on the right or wrong of what happened. We're humans, as were they, and we can honor them as humans who died believing they were right. It doesn't make them any less dead for us to do so. But it does make us more human.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Credit Where Credit is Due

After weeks of fretting, vis-a-vis final papers and such, I finally got my evaluations for Spring quarter of '05. (My asides in yellow.)

Lit 383: Psychology of Women Thru Film and Literature: Catherine (sic)... did outstanding work in this class. She illustrated her fine ability for independent, analytical and critical thinking in both her classroom contributions (note: I was completely obnoxious in this class -- you all should know this, in the interest of full disclosure. Feminist debate makes me cranky.) and in all of her written work. Her final paper was beautifully written (actually, I was very proud of this paper. Click here if you're interested in reading it -- and if you are, what's wrong with you?), filled with astute insights and very creative in its approach to analyzing the film "Frances." Her incorporation of ideas from [Phyllis] Chesler's work, "Women and Madness" (a fairly foreboding -- and expensive -- text, but if you can find it in the library, I highly recommend it!) , were enriching to the ideas Amanda was expressing. All in all, excellent work.

But the paper and class I was really fretting over, if you recall, was the other class.....

Lit 336: Lyric and Narrative, History and Imagination in Contemporary Literature: Catherine (sic) engaged the course enthusiastically (hmmmm.... I think he may have confused enthusiasm with abject terror) from start to finish. Her spirited participation in class showcased her ability to interpret and analyze very challenging examples of "Historiographic Metafiction." (Yessir.... I never met an example of "Historiographic Metafiction" I didn't like.) She was comfortable using the poststructuralist critical terminology, and I was impressed with the quick, astute connections she would make, often extemporaneously and on the fly. (Can you see why Ed Frankel is one of my favorite professors?) Her final paper examined Michael Ondaatje's use of history as a backdrop for his memoir, Running in the Family, and his fictionalized poem/novel, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, a very complex text, difficult to navigate and understand. (Good. Then it wasn't just me.) In my final comments on Catherine's paper (will these people never learn to spell my name?) I noted, "Well done. Focused and intelligent. You did close readings of these books as well as a fine job of pulling together your insights and discoveries into a very readable paper." (He did indeed write this on my final paper, much to my relief.)

No one knows better than you guys how much I was stessing over the second paper. Now I think you understand why. You'll note the my Graduation Watch has changed to reflect 6 fewer units -- only twenty to go now. Either that pinprick of light I see waaaay down there is the light at the end of the tunnel... or....

It's an oncoming train. Either way, it will soon be over now.