Monday, June 30, 2008

Shoe Superiority Complex

I know all y'all expected me to be discussing my own shoe snobbery, which I freely admit - and more importantly, own - but I have a different sort of Shoe Superiority Complex on tap today. I refer, of course, to the people who think that wearing hideous fucking shoes gives them some kind of moral high ground.

I'm not even talking about the people who feel it necessary to lecture me on the nefarious plans that my heels have for my toes/back/knees/face/whatever. (Note to those people: I am 25. I have considered what I put on my feet. I know the medical travesties lurking in the shadows, and I probably know more about it than you do, but here we are anyway. Fuck off.) No, no...I refer to the Hippie Shoe People. Birkenstock wearers are the inarguable pioneers of this movement, though some sanity has been mustered and I haven't run into a good, obnoxious Birkenstock Acolyte for some time now. You know what I'm talking about...that guy who just HAS to tell you what shoes he's got on...the girl who just HAS to mention that her shoes are made only of hemp and molted dove feathers...the people sneering at your leather shoes and then saying "are those vegan," just so you have to say no. There's a way to wear any kind of shoe and not be an asshole about it, but there's an unreasonably high proportion of people wearing these hippie shoes - Toms, Earth shoes, etc. - who just cannot keep their shit in their own basket. You'll note that I am not even touching the Croc and Ugg people, who are irritating in their own right, but differently so.

The problem, I think, lies in the fact that these shoes profess to do all kinds of magical things for your body and sometimes the environment. Great, right? Except when given to people who think doing good things elevates you to sainthood, you run into trouble. TOMS shoes (in navy, below) are not only made of ugly, but they donate a pair of shoes to a third world country. Awesome! Shoelessness is an epidemic problem (I am not being snide), and that is a great cause. That being said, it makes you a nice person, rather than a shining beacon of all that is right in the world. I guess my issue is that many of these shoes are kind of hideous-on-purpose so that people can tell you about them...not unlike the red soles of Louboutins, though to me the red sole is actually a pretty stylistic choice, though it is label-flashy. It's the buying shit made of hemp more because you care about people knowing you buy shit made out of hemp than actually caring about it being a renewable resource issue, not that I don't like the shoes. Hey, if people want to wear ugly shit, they can wear ugly shit, but wearing shoes made out of nastiness and duct tape doesn't give you any moral high ground, you know?

So the reason I'm hacked off about this, besides my normal static levels of unrest, is that someone made the enormous tactical error of commenting on my shoes all "how do you wear those, oh em geeeee" after having once been a total douche about them previously (Today's heel height: four inches. I thought they were 3. How did this happen? And why are there seriously like 87 rulers in the top drawer?).

A while back, when the summer was just ramping up for some serious heat, I decided that it was long past time to return to full-time heel wearing. As you may know, when it gets really hot outside, the sealant used to patch asphalt gets all melty and gooey. If you have flats on, this is no real step on it and it skooshes out and does not adhere to your shoes. If you are wearing heels, however, physics dictates that most of your weight is concentrated on a wee little spike, which is enough to ensure your heel will dig into the goop and if not get black gunk on your shoe, at least stuck so you have to yank your foot a bit to carry on walking.

So it's the end of the day, and I'm walking out to my car across the minefield of black goop repairs (this is New England, after all), and as I go, I'm rummaging in my purse for my keys, and my phone starts ringing. Instead of stopping where I was and getting my act together, I of course just kept wandering on, oblivious to the goop, so needless to say, I plant a heel square in a patch of it, and it pulls my heel out of my shoe briefly, making me look like a weirdo who can't walk in heels. I'm sure I don't need to explain to anyone that this is not the case...I have ADD, not incompetence. Of course - OF COURSE - one of these Earth-shoe-TOMS-Birkenstock-ish people is driving past, and she feels it's necessary to roll her window down and be all "watch out, walking in those heels," with tone all over the place. I mean, that shit was pronounced with a silent "if you were wearing heinous flat shoes produced by feeding them to cows and hosing them off once they're digested and expelled you wouldn't have so many problems" on the end.

Needless to say, I spent the drive home thinking about running her down with my car.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

SCOTUS Club Remix In Da House

First of all, just as a helpful hint, I recommend that everyone check out what their respective Presidential candidate is likely to do given the chance to appoint people to the Supreme Court, given that the next POTUS will have several shots at this.

That being said, the current SCOTUS handed down a bunch of stuff in the past couple of weeks, and it's all important. I can guarantee that this post will be of a rambling sort, so you can bail now if that's an issue. I'll also be linking to straight opinions, not analysis, so if you want Cliff Notes on the cases you'll have to hit up the Googleverse yourself. I personally read SCOTUSBlog, and recommend it to all.

The easy one, for me, is the DC vs. Heller case. DC had a handgun ban, the Court struck it down, pretty clear but apparently needed statement on the Second Amendment. To me, the great debate over guns in this country has very little to do with the actual Second Amendment and more to do with how that Amendment should manifest in society. The actual text, for those of you who have not actually read it (SHAME), reads as follows:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The big argument comes from whether part B is contingent on part A...are people allowed to have guns only if they are in a militia, or is the Second Amendment a free pass? I find it to be fairly clear - the prevailing sentiment is that the people should have be able to defend themselves if the government gets up to nefarious shenanigans, thus, guns are okay. I think the sentiment is outdated but clear...I seriously doubt that we will reach a point where the government's misbehavior will prompt a conflict involving gunfire in today's modern society, but the Constitution and Bill of Rights were drawn up in a period of great political unrest and paranoia, and it's important to remember that many of the people involved were NOT convinced that this little social experiment would actually work.

That being said, I actually think that the relevance of the Second Amendment to modern times is where today's squabbling comes from. As I noted above, I find it seriously unlikely that we will ever see actual armed conflict between the US government and US citizens, and if that be the case, what arms should be allowed, how should they be controlled, and what use is appropriate? Many Second Amendment advocates cling to reasons like gun collection and hunting as justification, which removes the militia aspect of the Amendment. Can you take half the Amendment away and rely solely on the latter half? I think so, logically. But legally, Constitutionally, I have a serious aversion to that kind of cherry-picking, and moreover, I don't think you get to be all "but I want to hunt" and abandon the militia component, and in the same breath finish up with "and that's why I should be able to stock an arsenal of full-auto weapons and a bazooka."

I would like to see some basic Federal guidelines laid down as far as the common sense aspects of firearm regulations, concealed carry guidelines, registration rules, etc., and then allow the states to add on to those Federal mandates as necessary. I think the Founders expected the states to act much more independently than they have come to, and this is what necessitates establishing rules on a Federal level. All that being said, I like the Heller decision...DC's myriad crime issues aside, they don't currently have the right to restrict handgun ownership. It will be really interesting to see how the Heller case is unpacked both by government and by the Court in the cases that are sure to follow.

The Court also ruled on whether or not the death penalty is appropriate for those convicted of child rape in Kennedy vs. Louisiana. The Court struck down a Louisiana law allowing convicted child rapists to be executed via the Eighth Amendment, and I can imagine that a lot of people have mixed feelings about this. Even the staunchest death penalty opponent must look at a person capable of raping a child and consider putting two right between the bastard's eyes. It's such a heinous, inhuman crime that when you consider it fully, it's so, so simple to fall into thinking "if not for this, for what?" My mother believes that imprisoning someone for life is worse than executing them, because they have to think about what they did for their entire life. I would love for that to be true, but I don't think it is. I believe that there are some horrible sociopathic people out there who are simply remorseless, and will never feel any kind of regret for whatever crime they committed, be it murder, rape, whatever. The sad truth is that this same concept is what makes child rape (and any rape, really) so horrible...the victims DO spend their lives affected by the crime.

At the same time, it seems wrong for a government to stoop to the level of a soulless murderer and snuff out a life. Maybe it's overly idealistic, but I just feel like the death penalty is below the United States. Sometimes you do have to be the bigger person, and when faced with the scum of the Earth, you just need to persevere. I don't have some detailed matrix of logic to base this on, I just feel like the death penalty is wrong, like it's giving up. At the end of the day, I think the Kennedy case gets it right...horrible though the crime may be, justice isn't the same as revenge.

Most exciting for me is the Boumediene v. Bush case which dealt strongly with the Guantanamo detainees. Not only did my ConLaw course deal heavily in the latter half of the semester with the ball of barbed wire and fighty snakes that is the Guantanamo legal shitshow, but the issue of Guantanamo detainees has been of great concern to me over the past several years just as a standard issue citizen (more on that later). Basically, the Court told the government to stop pissing around and start trying Gitmo detainees in a timely manner, and seriously, can we all say "it's about goddamn time?" To me, the abandonment of habeas corpus has been bizarre at best, throughout this war; if these detainees are truly the key players the Administration claims they are, why not bring them to trial as quickly as possible, get them dealt with, and allow yourself to claim these small victories as quickly and often as possible? This Administration and its war is in sore need of positivity, and bringing Dangerous War Criminals to justice would certainly qualify. In this light, the delay in trials seems like a declaration that the Administatration has nothing on these people. To my mind, the whole situation has been waiting for a good swift kick in the ass, and this one, too, will be interesting to watch shake out.

I...hate the Geneva Convention, okay, I think it's outdated, slow, and that it boxes itself into a corner by relying on the assumption that combatants will be members of uniformed militaries. That being said, it provides a baseline for running the most humane war possible. America is supposed to be the greatest nation in the world...the most upstanding, the most sensible, the most magnanimous. We hold and declare these beliefs daily, yet lately, it seems like these declarations do nothing but highlight abundant hypocrisy. This Administration in particular seems hellbent on finding ways to do what they want to do, regardless of any kind of moral baseline settled on at any point in history. I find that endlessly worrying, and wonder why more people don't as well. The fact that we NEEDED a Boumediene ruling really makes me worry about where we're going and where we've arrived.

I have referred to and drawn on several somewhat vague feelings of what is correct conduct for the United States. The Constitution is such an amazing document...I'll try to spare you too much dorky poeticism but one of the coolest things about it is its flexibility. The fact that it's endured for centuries as an effective ruling document for a nation that has expanded exponentially during its use is so spectacular and awe-inspiring. It has endured sweeping social, political and technological changes, and survived thousands of major foreign and domestic challenges that have changed the shape of politics in the United States, yet this same document remains relevant and true. However, it seems that we have come to a point where one of the Constitution's greatest strengths has become one of its greatest weaknesses, as Presidents and Congresses and Supreme Courts pull it in every direction to get what they want. I have complained before about Judge Richard Posner's book for my ConLaw course, Not A Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency, and my main issue with it was that Posner spent most of his time refusing to plant his flag on any side of any issue. Posner is a brilliant legal mind, and because of this, he can bend the Constitution to whatever end he wants...most of his arguments follow an irritating "you could say this...unless you say this...until you examine this...and contemplate that...and all being said, it's all important" pattern, like some kind of deranged game of Constitutional ping pong. The thing is, Posner is writing as an academic, and others are playing this game with people's lives and the People's law.

I always thought that there were certain things all Americans could agree that America was all about...a certain uprightness of character, a belief in true justice, the freedom to make of ourselves what we will, aspirations to do better and to pull our neighbors along with us, a desire to make the world better. In fact, within my lifetime, I've seen people stand up singing the praises of these ideals, shouting out the dream of a glorious America, after September 11th, when we were forced to examine the ways in which we were different from the rest of the world. Since then, I don't know what happened, but something is wrong. Something is wrong, and we're all standing down and letting it happen. I hope that whoever the next President is makes a priority of pushing these values once more to the forefront and appointing Supreme Court Justices who will do the same.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Two Great Disappointments

I've encountered two disappointing things recently, and I wanted to share so any readers here can avoid the same let-downs.

First disappointing thing: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, movie version. I've been an avid Harry Potter fan since my little sister gave me the first book and insisted that I read it. I resisted the Potter books for a long time, because I've developed a certain snobbish disdain for books held up as modern masterpieces - basically, until one of the core group of fellow readers whose opinions I trust tells me something's worth the read, I assume it's crap - simply because trite, unoriginal writers abound on bestseller lists, but I just fell completely, stupidly in love with the Potter books. The reasons I love them are varied - resurrection of reading in kids, intelligent writing that doesn't condescend, etc., etc. - but most of all I love them because they are great stories. It was inevitable that they would be turned into movies, and it was inevitable that I'd have creative differences with the directors that took the projects on, but the Order of the Phoenix really reaches new heights in this regard, and it's because they forgot about the story.

Let's start with the basics...the movie looks, as all of them have, absolutely glorious. The castle looks great, the magic looks good (though not always as I would have imagined it), the casting on the series continues to be fantastic, this time with the addition of Luna Lovegood and Prof. Umbridge, and the whole feel of the film is true to tone. The basic themes remain intact and the movie is a decent length. That's where the problem starts, really. After Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the books jumped from long-for-kids-but-manageable into the edge of Ponderous Tome territory. Here are the page counts for the series (American hardcover versions):
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 309 pages
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 352 pages
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 435 pages
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 734 pages
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 870 pages
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 652 pages
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 759 pages

Not to mention that these are pretty detailed pages, with a lot of plot happening and a lot of characters popping in and out, to say nothing of the creation of an entire wizarding world in some pretty intense detail. Like I said before, there was no way to get every single detail into the movies, and it's probably best not to, since after a point it would feel crowded and forced, but there are essential details and throw-away details in the Potter world, and the creative team in charge of the Phoenix movie seems somewhat unable to grasp this distinction. The best example I can give is of one of the most important scenes of the book and film.

If by some miracle I'm NOT the last person in the known universe to see this movie, spoilers from here until the spoiler ending alert, also in red.

The Order of the Phoenix is a group assembled to fight Lord Voldemort, to which basically all the Good Guys in the Potter books belong. Harry has been having visions of a room that he eventually finds out is the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic, where a prophecy is stored that Voldemort believes tells who will emerge victorious, Harry or Voldemort. Harry and his gang of Hogwarts cronies are eventually lured to the room by Voldemort, and they fight the Death Eaters there. Eventually the adult members of the Order of the Phoenix arrive, and the fight goes nuclear. By the end of the book, Sirius Black has been killed, and Dumbledore fights Voldemort in the lobby of the Ministry, pressing massive golden statues into service. The entire sequence is full of symbolism and Important Stuff.

In the movie, Sirius is still killed by Bellatrix Lestrange, his own relative, but the scene is stripped of all its significance. Sirius is fighting the nefarious Lucius Malfoy (still accurate), then Malfoy is knocked away and Bellatrix appears on top of a rock (??) and Avada Kedavras Sirius. No build up, no real battle, just Bellatrix showing up and zapping Sirius. In the book, Bella and Sirius have a fairly extended fight, which stands as a metaphor for Sirius's frought relationship with his family, and also allows the reader to see that Sirius and Bellatrix are both powerful wizards. This is one of the great hallmarks of the books - the bad guys aren't just cardboard cutouts, they're seriously devious, smart, powerful people. Instead, the movie's creators stripped the scene of its significance. The same thing happens when the action moves to the Ministry lobby. In the books, the statues in the lobby feature a witch, a wizard, a goblin, a centaur and a house elf, and they all come to life to help Dumbledore fight Voldemort, symbolizing a new unity between all creatures that will be necessary in the very near future. This theme carries through to the penultimate book. In the movies, the statues don't even move. Can't throw that away, guys.

End spoilers.

I'm not really sure what the answer to the longer books is...I honestly do think that if the books were split in two, filmed at the same time, and released close enough together, people would go to a two-part series. That would allow the directors to keep more detail in and pay more attention to the plot threads, rather than frantically hitting the major points and mashing whatever else can be made to fit into two hours. Order of the Phoenix was so choppy and jumpy I can't imagine anyone who wasn't already a Harry Potter fan even tolerating it, much less liking it or seeing what was so great about the series. Sad, really, to do that to a story so beloved in modern society.

So there's that.

In 2005, the Pontiac Solstice was featured on The Apprentice, and I decided that I must have one.

Sexy, no? So for the past three years or so, every time I saw one in TV or in person, I'd turn to Speed and say something about buying one, and he'd roll his eyes and call me a butthead or something and that would be the end. Let's face it, it's not a practical car for a New Englander. That being said, I'm not exactly known for my well-reasoned, logical consideration of things in the face of prettiness or shininess, so the dream endured.

Every now and then, Speed starts a conversation completely out of the blue and starts it with "I don't want you to get excited," which of course immediately makes me assume I am getting some kind of rhinestone encrusted phony being ridden by Gordie Howe carrying a pink golden retriever puppy with saddlebags stuffed with shoes from Irregular Choice to Blahnik. The last time it happened, he was telling me about how a friend of ours who is a travel agent was organizing an Alaskan cruise, and maybe that would be a honeymoon possibility. I wound up more excited about the fact that Speed had recognized he would need to fly to get to said cruise and embraced it, since the timing was all wrong for our particular honeymoon. Last week, he started up another one of those conversations, and this time it was about the Solstice! GM is having a big 0% financing thing to get rid of some older models, and Speed had crunched some numbers and found out that if the planets aligned properly, we could actually wind up paying less for a snazzy new Solstice than we currently do for my beloved Stratus.

Is that sunlight reflecting off of rhinestones I see in the distance???

It was a long shot, but I was most excited that Speed had not actually written off the past eighteen million references I'd made to wanting a Solstice. On Wednesday, we went out to Danvers to test drive one, and oh. em. gee. the crushing, inexplicable disappointment.

Now, when you look at that car, you kind of assume power, no? I know I sure as shit did, but man, my Stratus could wipe the floor with it. It's only got a 2.4L engine in it, and it feels like it. The power steering, had we bought it, would have been the most effective exercise machine we'd ever bought, and I would have had arms like a power lifter after a week of driving it, just from cranking that wheel around. The bad kind of road feel abounded...I should feel a connection to the road, not every dimple in the asphalt jarring my cocyx into a fine powder. The dash gauges were canted weirdly so you couldn't see them well, and the steering wheel felt cheap as shit...flat on the edge, and Speed thinks it was hollow. Besides all this, it's got Fiero level maintenance problems (yes, the Fiero whose engine block you had to lift to change the oil), requiring a mechanic to change the oil and being outfitted with a battery that was all but inaccessible, so you'd need a mechanic to remove shit to replace THAT, too.

Just to add insult to injury, it also did not transform into Jazz from Transformers.

If a car doesn't transform into a racist stereotype from outer space, I want no part of it.

Very disappointing, and further proof that Americans don't really have their priorities in order viz. cars. For the St. Patrick's Day parade this past March, we drove two Ford Mustangs, and were underwhelmed to the point of rage at their wussiness. I have talked about this before, but the Mustang is considered one of the Great American Cars, and while the re-style of the Mustang does not fit my own personal taste, it's still clearly geared towards the consumer who wants a badass car. Shouldn't that include some power? Shouldn't badassery involve superior driveability? I realize we were driving base models and all, but come on, Ford. Of course, now I can't just blame Ford, since Pontiac is up to the same tricks. There are certain things that appearance can overcome (see above re: my wanting a car that's really only appropriate to Miami), but when you're talking cars, I really don't see how appearance should overcome things like "how the car goes vroom." Get with the program, America.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Old Person Racism

When I lived in DC I got to experience something we don't really have in our family...a good, old-school racist grandparent. I think the further south you get, the more common the Racist Grandparent Phenomenon becomes. The grandparent in question was that of a friend of mine, and had come up for said friend's graduation.

DC has been largely black since time immemorial...for a long time it was the first free city you hit on the Eastern Seaboard if you were an escaping or freed slave, so a lot of folks just stopped there and got themselves established. (Interesting Josie Fact: I learned much of this in the class whose professor accused me of plagarism because the events in something I wrote matched exactly the order in which they occurred in my sources. For those keeping track, it was a biography.) DC to this day is about 56% black, and in the past has been so strongly canted black that it was referred to as "the Chocolate City."

When you have a racist grandma, this is an issue.

After about three days of passively racist remarks and behavior from this woman, I eventually wound up actually getting off the Metro at a random station because I couldn't take it any more. We'd been on Metro for maybe 20 minutes and this woman was still dropping the word "nigger" into casual conversation every three words, so by now the entire goddamn car is looking at us like they want to taste her blood, and her family is doing nothing about it. It may have been rash but I wound up getting the hell off the train, answering when asked why that I couldn't take the shit coming out of her mouth or her family's willingness to let her disgrace herself and insult everyone around her anymore. Needless to say, I don't hang out with this friend anymore.

Everyone's talked to death about the difference between intentional and passive racism...older folks are often more a product of their upbringing and don't realize the weight of their casual racism, and this is a far cry from the member of my generation who slings the n-bomb at someone in a club. Strangely enough, I feel the old-person variety of passive racism to be less harmful than the more active variety of younger people, though I find the passive, well-intentioned racism of demographically-based government programs to be extremely harmful. (What do we want? INCOME BASED SOCIAL PROGRAMS! When do we want 'em? NOW!)

All that being said, I was watching CNN again this morning, and it seems that Don Imus has said something stupid again, this time about Pacman Jones being arrested for the sixth time. I guess he heard Jones got arrested and asked his sidekick there what color Jones was. Upon hearing that Jones is black, Imus said something like "well that's why then," which he now says he meant in the sense of "because black people get arrested for no reason all the time." Okay, fine. That qualifier makes me think he just isn't great at talking. That being said, he's also getting up there in years, and I really wonder if he is just kind of a racist grandma. (I don't have the strength to talk about the "OMG FIRE HIM IMMEDIATELY" shit that's doubtless about to go down. I just don't.) I was watching film of him as they were discussing the whole situation and he is...old. I think he just approaches race differently than current political correctness dictates, and he's doing it in the media.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Assorted Fun Stuff

Facebook has really been a wealth of awesome lately! Thanks to The Lucy for sending me the video of that interview with Kevin Garnett I was talking about the other day...seriously, if you can watch this and not want Garnett to come live in your house and be awesome all the time with you, we cannot be friends any more.

And then we have a couple great sites from School Friend Cindy, one old and one new.

Old: Photoshop Disasters

New: English Fail

Updating the blogroll, too...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Congratulations Celtics!

I know almost nothing about basketball, but you can't really be in New England and not be aware of what was going on. As you may know, I'm a sucker for sports drama (and male athletes crying) so the story alone is fantastic, and what I watched of the game was just thrilling. One of the best things about it, in my mind, is the camaraderie that's so evident on the team...really makes all the difference. I also ADORED Kevin Garnett's "interview" with whoever that little shrew from ESPN is...he'd start off strong answering a question, then trail off into yelling things like "TOP OF THE WORLD!" Awesome.

Congrats to the Celtics!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Have Balls. bowling balls, that is. Who's cooler than me? No one, that's who.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In Which I Fail At Being A Housewife From 1939.

While I was pissing around on the Internet, avoiding behaving like a functioning member of society, I came across a little gem from 1939. I spend a lot of time mentally being from the 1950s, and have to a certain point romaticised past eras of genteel behavior, and as a result tend to forget that gender relations back then were kind of extremely fucked up. This test is a Marital Rating Scale that helped men and women gauge the success of their relationships, based on an awesomely deranged set of criteria. Check it out.

There are 50 Demerit questions and 50 Merit questions. For each "yes" answer, you give yourself one point (unless otherwise noted), then when you're done, you subtract the demerits from the merits. However, if you are me, you attempt to keep track in Notepad, fail, open an Excel document to keep track, and then forget what gets subtracted from what. In the end, I think I got a 37. Think.


1. Slow in coming to bed - delays till husband is almost asleep.
I am a night owl, but the fact remains that Speed gets to bed at around the same time or later than I do, so I'm not taking a hit on this one.

2. Doesn't like children. (5)
Frankly, I've come a long way since being constantly on the verge of a hysterectomy, but I still don't LOVE kids. I think this is mostly because I usually see them at the DCU Center, where the vast majority of the under-18 population are ill-behaved little shits. I give myself one point instead of 5, since it's more ambivalence than anything else.

3. Fails to sew on buttons or darn socks regularly.
I'm sure you all thought I was going to fail this one, but this is one I actually do. Perhaps not so much with the sock darning, but I am a button-sewin' machine.

4. Wears soiled or ragged dresses and aprons around the house.
Aprons! HAH!

5. Wears red nail polish.
Currently playing at Josie's Toes Theatre? OPI Vodka and Caviar. That's whore's nail polish if I ever saw it.

6. Often late for appointments. (5)
Not really.

7. Seams in hose often crooked.
I love what 1939 was like. Seams! In hose! I shudder to think what 1939 would have to say about fishnets in the modern sartorial mindset.

8. Goes to bed with curlers on her hair or too much face cream.

9. Puts her cold feet on husband at night to warm them.
I put my cold feet on Speed, but to ANNOY him, not to actually warm them.

10. Is a back seat driver.
I limit myself to back seat road rage. I throw the finger so you don't have to!

11. Flirts with other men at parties. (5)
I try not to encourage Speed to pulvervize people, so no.

12. Is suspicious or jealous. (5)
I'm going to admit that there's usually one day a month when my body's having a hormonal free-for-all that I get intensely paranoid and weird and decide Speed has plans to run away with some chick to Belize, but luckily this is simply a product of hormonal and mental imbalance.

13. Uses slang or profanity. (5)

14. Smokes, drinks, gambles or uses dope. (5)
Did, do, occasionally, no...however I also have too much self respect to use the word "dope" so I'm giving myself a free pass on this one.

15. Talks about former boy friends or first husband.
I don't...NOT talk about them if the situation calls for it, but I think the point is incessant discussion of previous men so I guess no? I also love that an allowance is only made for ONE FIRST HUSBAND because clearly in 1939 multiple divorces were from the future.

16. Squeezes toothpaste at top.
NEVER in my life have I contemplated how I squeeze toothpaste. Of course, I never considered toothpaste's effect on my abilities as a wife, so maybe I should start dedicating more thought to both.

17. Reminds husband it is her money they are living on. (5)
UNPOSSIBLE! I am in college and thus poor.

18. Tells family affairs to casual acquaintances, too talkative.
Casual acquaintances, no.

19. A chronic borrower - doesn't keep stocked up.
I...don't even know what this means. Stocked up on what? Bottled water? Underwear? Samurai swords? Ponderous philosophical texts? Puppies?

20. Slows up card game with chatter and gossip.
The only card game that happens in this joint is Spider Solitaire on the computer, so no.

21. Opens husband's personal mail.
People who do this creep me out greatly. NOT OKAY, PEOPLE.

22. Frequently exceeds her allowance of family budget. (5)
Even though there's no formal "you may spend exactly X dollars" arrangement, I think the answer to this is probably yes.

23. Eats onions, radishes or garlic before a date or going to bed.
Not...habitually but I'm sure I've done this. I also didn't realize that radishes were so dastardly in this regard.

24. Tells risque or vulgar stories.
I'm not huge on vulgar stories...most of my stories focus my life pretending to be a French farce, but I don't know, by 1939's standards, I'm starting to think EVERYTHING I do is risque or vulgar.

25. Wears pajamas while cooking.
This is sort of a way of life for me. Frankly, it's a banner day if I'm even wearing PANTS while cooking.

26. Talks during movie, play or concert.
No, irritating.

27. Is more than 15 pounds overweight.
Yep! But making strides...go me.

28. Often whining or complaining.
I'm not really a whiner (or complainer)...if I whine, it's usually for effect and designed to irritate Rich rather than for the sake of whining.

29. Discourteous to sales clerks and hired help.
I hate when people do this, and have even told people off for doing it, so no. Yeah, I'm talking to YOU, asshole guy from 3 years ago at the American Airlines counter at Logan

30. Shoulder straps hang over arms or slip is uneven and shows.
Visible bra straps are one of those things, like miniskirts with Uggs, that I just don't understand the appeal of. I don't wear slips but I wouldn't be caught dead with hanging straps of any kind.

31. Fails to wash top of milk bottle before opening it.
I don't even know what this means.

32. Corrects husband's speech or actions before others. (5)
Well, if he's...wrong, then yeah. But not to be a douchebag about it.

33. Saves punishment of children for father at night.
No kids, no punishment! I do occasionally threaten the cats with Speed Discipline, but that's more an indicator of my weirdness.

34. Serves dinner but fails to sit down till meal is half over - then wants husband to wait for her.
We usually eat at the same time, and who ever is cooking just brings chow over when it's done.

35. Wears pajamas instead of nightgown.
I avoid this thorny issue altogether. I'm just saying.

36. Fails to bathe or brush teeth often enough. (5)

37. Puts stockings to soak in wash basin.
I don't do this, but...isn't laundry what a wash basin would be...FOR? Is wash basin code for sink? What's going on here?

38. Serves too much from tin cans or the delicatessen store.
Another question I don't understand. Wouldn't you just serve as much as who ever you're serving usually eats?

39. Visits mother too often - a spoiled child.
Well, I visit my Mom a lot, but I don't think I'm a spoiled child.

40. Is snobbish or too much concerned in "keeping up with the Joneses."
Not going to lie, I am TOTALLY like this. However, I have learned that people find it creepy, and thus keep it to myself.

41. Dislikes husband's hobbies as fishing, baseball, etc.
Some of you may not have met Speed but if you have, and particularly if you've seen us together, you know that we share a brain, so this is not an issue. Did I mention we MET at a hockey game?

42. Tells lies - is not dependable. (5)
I am a terrible liar, so even if I for some reason WANTED to do this, I couldn't. NO I don't play poker, NO I do not want to learn so you can gank as much of my money as possible, NO I will not humor you on this count.

43. Doesn't want to get up to prepare breakfast.
Dude...who does? Isn't it enough that it eventually HAPPENS? I have to WANT to do it?

44. Insists on driving the car when husband is along.
Don't care in the's usually whoever makes the most sense.

45. Smokes in bed or has cigarette stained fingers.
Okay, a.) I have the sense to not smoke in bed, what with not liking being ENGULFED IN FLAMES, b.) I don't smoke anymore (except a cigar when the occasion I miss DC sometimes), and c.) even if I was dumb enough to smoke in bed I would not be gross enough to allow my fingers to get all nasty UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE I COULD NAME.

46. Cries, sulks or pouts too much.
I've never been a big crier...I tend to save up upsettedness until I finally crack, at which point I cry really violently for about 15 minutes while babbling to myself, then act like nothing happened. I'm also kind of lazy, and have something akin to ADD which is why I don't usually sulk or pout...I get a good sulky burn on, then something shiny comes along and I forget about it. Plus, God, who wants to expend that kind of energy?

47. Makes evening engagements without consulting her husband.
Routinely, and with enthusiasm! I find the surprises keep the relationship fresh.

48. Talks too long on the phone.
Not a big phone person, though he does give me a lot of shit about texting people.

49. Is a gossip.
I deal mostly in petty crap, which I guess counts as gossip, but frankly I think I'm too paranoid about it to be a true gossip.

50. Walks around house in stocking feet.
Good luck even getting me in STOCKING feet. I ditch my shoes and socks when I get in the door and LEAVE 'em there.

I wind up with 25 demerits. Less than I would have guessed, to be honest with you. On to the merits...


1. A good hostess - even to unexpected guests.
I love having people over, so I'm all over this one. This is not to say I suffer people who overstay their welcomes well, but overall I come out on top.

2. Has meals on time.
This is tough, simply because Speed and I don't have a set schedule for meals...sometimes we're both home around the same time, sometimes not, etc. However, when I DO give a time that dinner will be ready, it's on time.

3. Can carry on an interesting conversation.
I think I do, though if asked to find an issue in this area, it's that I tend towards the overly cerebral. I am pretty good at reading my audience, though, so usually I do all right.

4. Can play a musical instrument, as piano, violin, etc.
Technically, I can play french horn, though I am horrible at it. HORRIBLE. In a way most people aren't. Plus, I haven't touched a horn since 2001. That being said, I am a good singer, and cling desperately to that.

5. Dresses for breakfast.
I usually can achieve underwear and a teeshirt by breakfast time. Does that count?

6. Neat housekeeper - tidy and clean.
I'm not going to give myself a point here, simply because I do let it slide during hockey season. I feel like to really be a good housekeeper, you keep it clean ALL the time, thus sparing yourself the need to throw all your mess in the office when people are coming over. Not that I do that.

7. Personally puts children to bed.
Not only do I not have any kids to put to bed, but if/when I DO have children, I am TOTALLY buying a robot to put them to bed. The Roomba people will be all over it by then, I'm sure.

8. Never goes to bed angry - always makes up first. (5)
I'm giving myself the points here, because I DON'T usually go to bed angry (see the above commentary about my in ability to maintain a good solid sulk) but something really tweaks me about the assumption that the woman is the one meant to be making up first. If I was in a relationship where this assumption was actually held, I'd constantly be in trouble for saying shit like "you're right, honey, I'm sorry you decided to be a total fuckhead about my red nail polish. Let's make up."

9. Asks husband's opinions regarding important decisions and purchases.
I shudder to think where the importance line is drawn in terms of purchases for the 1939 people, but I do check with Speed on important "stuff" in general.

10. Good sense of humor - jolly and gay.
I think I qualify, though my sense of humor is probably less "jolly and gay" and more "snide and fighty."

11. Religious - sends children to church or Sunday school and goes herself. (10)
Really shines a light on the evolution of religion's role in society, doesn't it? Ten points! I do try to go every Sunday, and if/when we have kids, they will be EXPOSED to religion, but not frogmarched, so I'm giving myself five points here instead of the whole ten.

12. Lets husband sleep late on Sunday and holidays.
He's...a voting adult? So he can sleep in whenever he wants? As long as he's not sleeping off a mid-week hangover or shirking work, I don't give a damn. That being said, it's not ME Speed needs to worry's the cats.

13. Encourages thrift - economical. (5)
Honestly? Not really. I'm not a spendthrift but neither Speed nor I are the type to shy away from spending money on getting the best quality whatever. We save where we can. One point here, I think.

14. Laughs at husband's jokes and his clowning.
I laugh at his jokes, often hysterically, and if I catch him "clowning" I will be sure to report accordingly.

15. Ambitions for her family - urges higher attainment.
HAH HA! Does this not DIRECTLY contradict Demerit Question #40? I think I get what they mean differently, but I prefer to be ornery. I'll say yes.

16. Belongs to parent-teacher club or child study group.

17. A good cook - serves balanced meals.
I've talked a bunch about cooking habits...I am not as good a cook as I could be or would like to be, since I don't DO it much, but I think I do okay, balanced meal wise.

18. Tries to become acquainted with husband's business or trade.
Absolutely. Not only do I think what Speed does is neat, I also know almost nothing about it, and we all know how I like learning about pretty much anything I don't know about. I blame my father for this. ("Symposium on riveting technique through history? COOL!")

19. Greets husband at night with a smile.
Yep. Except, of course, for when the local commuters/demolition-derby-participants have been particularly awful on the way home. Then, ranting followed by reset button and smiling.

20. Has pleasant disposition in the morning - not crabby.
I wake up pretty fast, so my disposition's pretty much always the same. I consider the days when I have a foggy wakeup and ask frantic, stupid questions like "IS IT THURSDAY?" or think it's the evening instead of the morning as a kind of entertaining bonus.

21. Keeps snacks in refrigerator for late eating.
I...guess so? Speed's pretty self sufficient vis-a-vis his snacking, so it's not so much my doing as his.

22. Likes educational and cultural things.
Have we met?

23. Reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress. (10)

24. Faithful and true to husband. (10)
Let me put it this way: until Speed and I got together, getting married wasn't even on my radar. Don't ask me why the relationship works, it just does. It is creepy, and it is awesome.

25. Has pleasant voice - not strident.
I think I have a pleasant voice...but an obnoxious laugh. I'm gonna go ahead and cling to the pleasant voice thing.

26. Has spunk - will defend her ideals and religion.
I have a long tradition of said spunk.

27. Praises husband in public.
Absolutely! He usually deflects it. Heh.

28. Writes often and lovingly when away from husband.
The only really long trip I've gone on was to Italy, and I sent a postcard and called every day. I think that counts.

29. Writes to husband's parents regularly.
Look, 1939, I hate to bust up your game here but I REFUSE to believe that every good little wifey was writing to her in-laws. I write thank you notes when appropriate, to the never-ending fascination of Speed's Mom and Dad. Is writing thank you notes really that weird these days? Not that it's the first or last time I get caught doing weird, arcane stuff, but still.

30. Willing to help husband at office or shop.
Willing, but the exact OPPOSITE of able. Don't nobody want me near their mainframes. That being said, I do help out with the Booster Club, so I guess maybe I do.

31. Sympathetic - likes children and unfortunates. (5)
Though DC did stamp some of my sympathy for "unfortunates" out of me, I think I do pretty well in this category, despite wanting to clothesline the Heely-wearing children at Sharks games.

32. Keeps hair neatly combed or shampooed and waved.
I have a feeling that the gentleman husbands of 1939 would take one look at me lumbering out of the garden with my hair all but staplegunned to my head and dressed like a homeless person and run screaming into the night. I will note though that every time I need to look presentable, I do so.

33. Often comments on husband's strength and masculinity.
Um...I head this off at the pass by being with someone who's actually secure in his strength and masculinity, so he doesn't need me extolling his virtues?

34. Good seamstress - can make her own clothes or the children's clothes.
I'm limited to the most basic repairs and patterns. I'm going to say no here.

35. Gives husband shampoo or manicure.
Well, Speed shaves his head, and I'm pretty sure if I tried to come at him with a file and a plot for manicuring I'd get a slap in the head,

36. Keeps husband's clothes clean and pressed.
Speed doesn't require a ton of pressing, and we both do laundry.

37. Bravely carries on during financial depression.
Here's my question...what other option is there?

38. Healthy or courageous and uncomplaining.
I think this is the part of the quiz where the author started dropping E. Does this seem like a "one of these things is not like the other" puzzle to anyone else?

39. Keeps self dainty, perfumed and feminine.

40. Is of same religion as her husband. (5)
Nope. Point of order: Is "fightily fallen Catholic" an actual category, or no?

41. Has minor children to care for. (5 points per child)
No, but more importantly, does this not sound like a Maury episode just waiting to happen? Five points per child?

42. On friendly terms with neighbors.
I love our neighbors! Except that jerky guy across the street who is NOT an awesome elderly German dude. The Jerky Guy Across the Street sucks and needs a hobby other than calling the town to report that we are paving our driveway in an attempt to get us in trouble. NO PERMIT NECESSARY FOR PAVING, SO WHO LOOKS LIKE A DOUCHE NOW, FUCKFACE?

43. Fair and just in settling the children's quarrels with others.
Nope! Also, when the cats fight I just laugh and let them go at it. Seriously, I probably shouldn't be entrusted with children.

44. Likes to vacation with husband.
Is this a test for wife-ing skills or some kind of test about whether or not you should get an IMMEDIATE DIVORCE? The hell? Why would you be/stay with someone you didn't have fun on vacation with? Vacation's the EASY part.

45. An active member of some women's organization.
I am open to this idea but to date have not found a group that works for me. I tried one of the women's groups in the area and it was just so insipid (but for a few legitimately cool ladies) and not-my-thing that I left. I'll stick to my sporatic knitting groups for now.

46. Often tells husband she loves him. (5)
Why is this only 5 points? Just so you know, kids...what Hollywood has been telling you is correct: fucking is more important than love. WTF 1939? I tell Speed I love him all the time.

47. Polite and mannerly even when alone with husband.
This is like #44 for me..."even when alone with husband"? What kind of weirdo only sets the politeness switch for public appearances?

48. Willing to get a job to help support the home.

49. Praises marriage before young women contemplating it.
I haven't run into this but honestly not everyone should get married, and not everyone should get married to the person they're thinking about marrying, so I'm going to say no here. I'm not willing to just push the concept at large.

50. Is unselfish and kind-hearted.
I also love puppies!

Merits = 70.

Less 25 demerits....drum roll please...45 points!

According to the chart, that means I average wife. THAT doesn't sound very flattering. Of course, it doesn't take into account my overall awesomeness, so I don't know...I think I'd RATHER be an average-to-poor 1939 housewife, since a lot of the criteria here are absolute horseshit. The idea that the color of my nail polish has jack shit to do with my quality as a wife is just absurd.

Teaches ME to get sentimental and nostalgic for older times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I woke up half an hour early today, and since it's still on the humid side and my hair has been the exact same kind of ornery for the past 25 years, I've attained a certain zen about it and don't bother with the full round-brush-and-assorted-hair-clip-deployment extravaganza that usually occupies my morning hours, so I wound up with substantially more time to roam around the house doing nothing before leaving for work. (NB: I am no longer going to try and adjust my commute for traffic. There were insane awesome/scary thunderstorms last night, which downed a lot of trees and such, and the radio people promised delays...cue me turning into the parking lot almost a full half hour early.) I decided to spend this jackpot of free morning time doing something I haven't done for - though it pains me to say it - several years.

I turned on "American Morning."

I used to be a complete CNN junkie...I'd come home from work or whatever and just turn it on. Even if it was muted, I would watch the ticker. The height of this madness was around 2001-2004, when I lived in DC and "needed" to watch it constantly. Since then, and maybe even during that period, I don't know, I find CNN absolutely insufferable, and can't even bring myself to watch it for election results. There's a select core of reporters and talking heads who I like - and we're talking about maybe five people here - but CNN has filled the spaces between then with the most vapid, hyper-partisan bullshit artists I have ever had the displeasure of hearing spew nothing comments around. There is a difference between presenting both sides of an argument (which frankly they would do better to just stop trying to claim) and presenting every wingnut extremist viewpoint the Internets have to offer. Even some formerly excellent reporters have devolved into emitting complete word salad without saying anything revelant, anything with some MEAT to it. Sad, really.

Shouldn't we demand more of the viewing public? I ask this not just of CNN, but of almost everything on TV these days. The best professors I have now and have ever had are the ones who demand that I give my dictionary a workout, who demand that I follow the pace they set, who demand that I have some level of background in a (fucking) 300 level course. What the hell is so wrong with asking people to engage their minds every now and then? I have absolutely no higher ground upon which to perch here...last night, I watched a gigantic man painted green (a la The Incredible Hulk) whomp someone off a platform and into water on American Gladiators, and as I have discussed here before, I will watch any crappy weekday court show you give me. But can't it be both? Do we really think that we're so...unfaceted that we can't think that someone painted green is kind of hilarious while also giving a shit about the state of foreign and domestic policies? ARE we that single-minded that we can only enjoy or care about one or the other? If so, a.) I'm moving and b.) how the hell did we get here from the days of the American Revolution?

So okay, I watched CNN this morning and clearly this has riled me, so let me tell you why. Amidst the Attention Deficit Theatre that is CNN's programming, there was a brief - and we're talking 45 seconds or so here - piece about a recent Bush comment on the war.

"I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric," Bush told the Times as he flew across the Atlantic on Air Force One. The phrases he used to win support for the war such as "bring 'em on" and "dead or alive" he said, "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."

Let's first dispense with the angry that you know is brewing in my head right now. Look...I realize that some people think I'm a bit of an asshole when it comes to grammar, vocabulary and spelling. I get lots of exasperated comments along the lines of, "Jos, who cares" when I correct people. You know what, I care, and you should care, because you sound and look ILLITERATE, okay? You a moron. This goes double, triple, to the nth power for the goddamn President of the United States. From the historical examples he gives of "bring 'em on" and the charmingly dick-swinging "dead or alive" to the contemporary usage of "you know," there's just inappropriate ALL OVER THE PLACE in that statement. You are the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD. Try to muster some more dignified speech, you asshole. I was talking with a friend this weekend, and language came up (via My Fair Lady...yes, I know super awesome people. Nerds of a feather, etc., etc.)...he'd basically taught someone English, and felt that was one of the greatest gifts you could give someone. How can you argue with that? How can you possibly give any more than the ability to express yourself as accurately and eloquently as possible? How can you give a greater gift than to be able to communicate with such an enormous swath of the world's population?

And then how could anyone say it doesn't matter?

My other strongly held and apparently old fashioned belief is in the virtues of diplomacy. I know, I know...I'm so out of the loop. No one needs DIPLOMACY today...we just smash everything with the largest hammer available! Stupid fucking me. I try to refrain from getting all "I told you so" about things that involve actual people dying but seriously you guys, how much time did I dedicate to pissing and moaning about the fact that diplomacy spent all its time bent over George Bush's desk during the run up to the war? Saying what you want to happen does not constitute diplomatic negotiation. Listing demands does not constitute diplomatic negotiation. Pretty much any time you drop the phrase "bring 'em on," you're not dealing with diplomatic negotiation. This is not complicated. This is Diplomacy 101. Diplomacy is a conversation, and nothing of the sort happened.

So, Bush feels like maybe he made a bit of an oopsie with the language. Okay. This gets 45 seconds of coverage, then switches to a report on how Ken Starr is going to help Hollywood deal with the paparazzi problem. (In that report, someone actually said, "we have to protect our celebrities," at which point I threw up in my own lung and swore a bunch.) But back that up...45 seconds to cover Bush's comment. Let's look at this. Had Bush bothered with some diplomacy, my nearest guess is that one of two things would have happened. First of all, it would have created more time to do a bunch of important things, starting with actually resolving the dispute without all the shock and awe, passing through allowing for some actual Congressional and press review and consideration of the plan, and ending somewhere in the vicinity of developing both a modern, well-planned military attack and that thing where you get out without everyone dyi...oh yeah, an exit strategy. Second of all, and I realize that this is wishful thinking considering the woeful state of the intelligence community's Arabic resources, but they might have realized that the problems of the Middle East will never be resolved via American Democracy, and that maybe a different approach should be taken, IF of course they didn't have the Light Bursting Through the Clouds style realization that we really shouldn't have touched this particular wasps' nest with a ten foot pole.

In short, Bush's little language booboo cost around 4000+ American lives, to say nothing of injuries or foreign casualties. Oops.

45 seconds of the news, and no analysis. Just a quote.

Maybe war in Iraq was inevitable. Maybe we had to go in. I don't think ANYONE'S complaining about the fact that Saddam Hussein is dead. But there's no question that Bush's stance and language exacerbated an already hot problem, and that is a goddamn shame. How embarassing, for what I truly believe is the greatest nation in the world to have as its spokesman such an inarticulate, backwards-sounding man. Maybe the saddest thing is that he cultivates this image, deems it appropriate to the office. I sincerely believe that he feels he is larger than the office, and someone who feels that way shouldn't be anywhere near the White House or any of its attendant red buttons. But good just throw what is potentially a hugely significant comment out there and then immediately veer back to the fluffy celebrity news seems such a disservice to basically everyone ever. Is no one doing their job? Where are the muckrakers? Where's the outrage? Doesn't anyone care about this stuff...worry about it...think about it?



Monday, June 9, 2008

Walking the Walk

A couple weeks ago, some of the Friends from the Worcester Meeting came over to visit, and amongst many topics covered, we discussed the relationship between Catholics and Quakers. I did not know that the two groups actually got along quite well, particularly because (as one of the women put it), "we live what they're talking about."

Just the other day, a work friend sent me further proof of the relationship, in the form of a blurb written by the Historian of the 36th Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Wayne Porter, and entitled "Quaker Friends of Irish Catholics." This particular note is geared towards Quaker actions during the Irish Famine, but I think it's interesting regardless.
The Society of Friends commonly called the Quakers has always practiced what we as Catholics call the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Catholics and Quakers have something in common; both persecuted and struggled to exist in a hostile country. They were persecuted in England (as usual) and left for religious freedom in America but they did not find what they hoped for. In Boston they were not accepted many were whipped and banished. With that history they understood what it was like to be persecuted for your faith. In America they have always been in the forefront of compassionate social change going back centuries, some of the issues which they have been fighting for are still with us, death penalty, prison reform, homelessness, child abuse, peace and hunger. It was all about treating people with basic human rights that are not given by the state but by Almighty God with the belief in a humane society. When the famine hit Ireland although there were only about 3,000 Quakers with a population of 8 million, they were heroic in their attempt to feed the hungry. Many protestant churches did not act in a Christian way, they would offer food only if they converted to Protestantism. Those who converted were called soupers. How much they attended church services determined how much food they would get. One cannot judge these people as they were starving and God knows what we would do in their place. The Quakers refused to proselytize as a result how many lives they saved we will never know. They saved lives in their belief that human beings were hurting and they needed help. In the folk memory of Ireland the Quakers are known as people who helped during the famine, they are to be admired for their true Christian beliefs and works that some of today's Christians could emulate. We owe them a great debt of gratitude. The many that died not abandoning their faith should be recognized as martyrs and hopefully honored by the church.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Books of Late, Plus Perfume

Remember that whole reading list where I was like "here is my neatly organized life and my books that I shall read while sipping fabulous fruity drinks and being absurdly awesome"? Totally derailed, because I am dumb and went to the Harvard Coop unsupervised.

Thus I have not touched a single lovely page of Shakespeare but instead have finished two books, only one of which was on the list (finishing Anna Karenina). The second was a book bought on a whim as a result of my suceptibility to bookcover design, called Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles. The book begins as a complaint letter and request for a refund addressed angrily to American Airlines. The author of this letter is delayed in O'Hare, teetering on the edge of missing his daughter's wedding, and is understandably upset. As he writes, however, he tells the airline more and more about his life and how he arrived at this point. The whole thing is really well done...not too much gimmicky nodding to the conceit that it's an actual letter, smooth writing, interesting story. Highly recommend...good for a quick beach read or any travel you have coming up (maybe not so much a flight, though).

Also on the recommendation list, this one for summer perfumes, is Emporio Armani Diamonds. I'll admit that I assumed it would be kind of cloying and thick, but was pleasantly surprised to discover a light scent that was perfect for a nice sunny day. I was just very concerned about the Beyonce Factor. While I love Beyonce and all her shiny wonderfulness, I have this theory (prejudice?) that the closer a hip hop star gets to a perfume, the more clunky and ill-advised that perfume will be. Then again, I've discussed my bizarre affinity for every perfume J. Lo has ever slapped her shorthanded moniker on...I don't know. In any case, Diamonds would be a fantastic summer perfume, thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Loans of the Destitute Student

I started my Great College Adventure in 2001, and at that time entered into the totally thrilling and not at all horrid world of student loans. My dad did a lot of the legwork on that, because a.) he is awesome and b.) let's just say that things like "math" and "finance" are not my strongest areas. My loans were strewn across two areas, one being the US Department of Ed and the other being with American Education Services. I went to school, left school, started paying loans, great, fine, everything went pretty well.

So finally, I got my ass back in school, and Assumption gave me a pretty awesome financial aid package (Take that $2000/year in work study and SHOVE IT, American), including a bunch of Stafford loans. Okay, great! I have a fabulous company that I have already been doing business with! I can totally just use them! I tell the AssCo Financial Aid Squad, "hey, I have this totally great company called American Education Services, I want to use them for the Stafford section of my aid."

AssCo: Yeah, we don't think that's gonna work.

Me: But I love them! Every time I call them I can get a person, and they are helpful and reasonable and not robots and rule at life!

AssCo: Well, we really like MEFA and we want you to use them. You'll love them too.

Me: But I already found my one true lending love.

AssCo: Trust me, this is the lender of your dreams. We totally love them and work with them all the time.

Me: But...

AssCo: Just do it, please.

Okay okay so I go get myself some MEFA loans and that's fine, and a year goes by with all calm on the Financial Aid front. Then I get a letter, which says something like this:
Dear Student,

Remember the time we told you to get you some MEFA loans because they were
the bestest ever? Well, they're not providing loans for the 2008-09 school
year. Oops. Go apply with some other company, sucka.



After I got that, I chilled out around the house for a while, bleeding out of my eyeballs and swearing menacingly, and then put the letter in one of my many filing piles until such time that I could remedy the situation without the rise of homicidal urges.

Am I out of line in being pissed about this? I realize my paraphrasing above is snide and bitchy but the fact remains that Assumption really pushed MEFA as a great company that they worked with all the time. I now have loans out with THREE COMPANIES and am going to have to pick up a fourth. What the hell is THAT? Four goddamn loan companies? What happens when NEXT year, Assumption AGAIN doesn't do adequate research on their chosen lenders and whatever dipshit fourth company I pick up stops giving loans? I had a company I wanted to use, and now instead of being able to continue enjoy what seems to be the world's only existing Student Loan Lender/Lendee Relationship not fraught with peril and angstiness, I get to apply for MORE GODDAMN LOANS! I don't want to ride herd on four effing companies! I'm sure I can consolidate them somehow but dang dude why should I HAVE to?

If anyone needs me, I'll be fuming in a corner.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Your Guide to Encountering a Reader

I have done a fair amount of reading at work in the past several months, since I've moved from the department I started with to the school-and-other-work-friendly receptionist cockpit, and in so doing, I've discovered that people don't really understand how reading works. I don't really take issue with people interrupting me while I'm at the actual desk - being available for pestering is 99% of the job description - but the same interruptions happen when I'm reading at lunch, on some form of public transit, and in a variety of other book-friendly situations. For those battling confusion over how to approach their nearby readers, I offer this handy guide.
  • Don't ask me how the book is. I won't be able to give you an accurate answer because you're distracting me from reading it.

  • When you inevitably DO interrupt me to ask how it is, and I answer monosyllabically, don't then ask me what it's about. I don't want to expend a single word to tell you how it is, and I definitely don't want to expend multiple words to explain a plot you don't care about and won't retain. Find a bookstore or go on Amazon.

  • If someone is reading, for instance, to pick a wildly random example, Anna Karenina, chances are slim that you'll convince them that they MUST check out anything by Janet Evanovitch because "she comes up with the cutest ideas." There's a place for both kinds of books to exist, but there's not a hell of a lot of Venn diagramming in there, and furthermore, the time to pitch books is when the person you're trying to sell isn't reading.

  • Don't have a completely random conversation with someone while they're other words, learn to identify what books look like. There are a couple people here at work who strike up utterly random conversations with me EVERY TIME they see me reading in the cafeteria, and it's utterly beyond me why they do it.

  • Multiply all these rules by about a million when you don't know the person.

The reading world thanks you for abiding by these few simple rules.