Monday, June 13, 2011

One Fish, Two Fish, Hot Fish, Cold Fish

Pop quiz! How do you get from fishing in Colorado to pick-up artist misogyny?

A quick Googling, of course!

So I'm reading my Facebook news feed today, all happy-go-lucky, sharing awesome cello videos and collecting Gardens of Time bonuses, when I come across a posting from the state of Colorado fan page talking about all the fishing you can do in this beautiful state of ours. The page mentions catching "hot and cold fish", which phrase I have never heard. More to the point, my former Alaskan salmon-seining husband has never heard it. Off to Google!

Which ably answered the question - warm fish like warm water, cold fish, cold. Makes sense. But amid all the  links to Wikipedia and Yahoo!Answers was this gem, right on the first page of the search:

How To Warm Up A Defensive Cold Fish? HELP!! 

God, I don't know, how would you warm up a fish? Microwave? Oven?

Oh, wait - did you mean you want a human being to like and trust you? Well, here's a tip: Don't call her a fish. 

Gah. I shouldn't be so irritated before I'm even out of pajamas.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Skechers Has Some Balls

Yeah. Not, you'll notice, for kids - No. For girls, and girls only, because God knows, we need to be pretty and thin even if we're 6!

Skechers' response to the public outcry is highlighted in this segment from The Today Show, which quotes Leonard Armato, Skechers Fitness Group President:
The whole message behind Shape-ups is to get people moving, exercising and getting fit. Skechers' advertising for Shape-ups for Girls contains the same messaging being used by the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative, which is aimed specifically at children. Shape-ups' intended purpose is to promote exercise and fitness, which should be viewed as a positive mesage for kids to get up and moving.
Yeah, sure. It's for "kids", it's for "fitness", it's for "health". And that's why it's only for girls, right? Because only girls are unhealthy?

Or because only girls offend us when they're fat? Because only girls are supposed to be decorative from the day of their birth, and any failure to do so means - What, exactly? That we might be out doing something useful and dangerous to the status quo?

I saw this commercial with Bacon while she was watching SpongeBob. My jaw dropped to the damn floor until she said, "Ugh. Those stupid shoes are so ugly. Why would anyone buy them?"

Thank God for small favors.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Virgin Bees

I know what you're thinking. "Kate," you're saying, "those two things have nothing to do with each other. Virgin bees. It's nonsense!"

And until last weekend, I would have agreed with you. I would have done the Stewie head-tilt  and then immediately disregarded everything after "virgin bees". Because bees are, well, bees. They buzz, and they dance to give directions, and they make honey, but I'm fairly certain that for all their complexity, they do not subscribe to human standards of sexual discourse.

I was wrong.

And here I need to give a little background. I know that over on the right there, it describes me as "Roman Catholic". Up until recently, that was true. Mostly true. I had my issues with the Church, because who doesn't, but I was willing to put up with them because the faith still resonated with me. I believe in Christ, in the True Presence of the Eucharist, in the celebration of the Mass as a recreation of the Last Supper. I like the Latin, the pomp and circumstance, the tradition.

What I don't like, and what's driven me away from the Church, is the relentless sexism and obsessive focus on sexuality. For a few months, we got a sermon on "deviant" sexuality and sexual "sins" every. single. Sunday at the Cathedral Basilica. You'd think after a while, priests would get tired of thinking about who's sticking his junk in whoever else's junk drawer, but you'd be wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We got everything from "not kissing on dates is awesome because you're totally saving yourself from sin" to "give up birth control for Lent!"

I'm not even joking. While Rome was changing the translations of the Gospels to make Mary a "young girl" instead of a virgin, our priests were hammering home the fact that being gay makes baby Jesus cry and girls better keep those skirts below the knee and collars above the clavicle!

It was relentless and ridiculous, and I stopped listening. It was either that, or stroke out in the choir loft.

Last weekend was Easter. The Archbishop celebrates the Easter Vigil Mass every year, and he usually gives great sermons. I generally look forward to Christmas and Easter, when I get to hear him preach.

He started off normally enough, discussing the symbols of Easter. He discussed candles, and how Christ is the light of the world, and how the Vatican has very specific requirements for the candles we use in the Mass. They must be at least 51% beeswax, and for special candles - like the Paschal candle - the percentage is usually much higher. This is because beeswax is natural and especially fine, and we glorify God in part by using the materials He gave us in building His churches and all the things therein.

Beautiful, right? An interesting fact about candles, a Catholic rule explained, a nice little sermon about light and truth.

Except that I guess he thought Easter - unlike Christmas - just doesn't have enough talk about junk drawers, because he went on to include the fact that the beeswax is made by "female" drone bees. Bees who will never be queens, and will never have children.

Virgin bees. 

I was amazed my eyeballs stayed in my head and didn't fall out of the loft and onto unsuspecting parishioners, they were rolling so hard. Virgin bees. VIRGIN BEES, people. Not even the non-sentient, non-soul-bearing creatures put on the earth to help us live are exempt from being slutty slutty slutbags! That dirty queen bee, fucking all those drones just to perpetuate the species! It's a good thing she's not involved in making the wax, or we couldn't use it in church, could we? It would be no-good slutwax, and we couldn't have that!

I'm just - I'm done. I'm finishing out this choir season, and then it's over. I can't listen to another sermon like this. I certainly can't instruct my daughter in a religion that thinks she's a second-class citizen simply for having a vagina, and a nothing-class citizen if she ever decides to treat her body as if she owns it. I don't know where I'll be going - I know the Episcopalian cathedral has been hiring vocalists recently, so I may start there. I'll probably check out ELCA Lutherans if that doesn't pan out.

But honestly, I'll just settle for anywhere I won't have to hear about virgin motherfucking bees.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Under the Tome

Under the Dome
Stephen King

The entire town of Chester's Mill, Maine, is suddenly and inexplicably encased in an invisible, indestructible dome one bright, beautiful October day. Will the residents get out? Will life Under the Dome be bearable? How long will supplies hold out? 

The story, as with all King works, is good. Well-crafted, well-researched, with painstaking attention to detail and foreshadowing. Anyone who's ever read a King novel will know what to expect, and you won't be disappointed. The cast of thousands, the gory descriptions of accidents, the eternal play of good v. evil. Yadda yadda, you know what you're getting. 

But I found the ending if not completely unsatisfying (coughTheDarkTowercough) then very - light, for want of a better word. I slogged through over a thousand pages of iffy character development (The bad guy is fat!) and rolling plot to get to a scant 15 or 20 pages of resolution. It was pat; it was convenient; it had all the hallmarks of a King lampmonster. Honestly, I carried around five pounds of book for three weeks for that? Really?

Because my time could have been more poorly spent, Under the Dome gets 3 out of 5 bacon strips. Yes, it was good; yes, I was engaged. But I could have pulled something hefting this tome around, and I don't believe for a second he needed every single word he shoved into it. Maybe it's because I'm a different generation of novelist, but there were extraneous words. Many extraneous words. I also think King is falling back on stereotypes as he gets older - seriously, the bad guy being fat was written as an honest-to-God piece of characterization. And other bad guys were stupid. And one was bad because he had a brain tumor. The good guy was in the Army, and had a secret. The good woman was a reporter who said things that definitely didn't sound Republican (because all Republicans are...what? Ignorant racists?). I guess I just like my people to be people, not walking collections of stereotypes, tropes, and tics.  

I think I'll stick to rereading the classics from now on. There's nothing like a little Tommyknockers or Carrie to make a King fan - and nothing like Cell or Under the Dome to unmake one. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two New Subies: A Story of Colorado

Two shiny new Subaru Outbacks rolled off the assembly line and onto a lot in the Denver Metro area. They sat patiently, waiting for the perfect owners to find them. The kind of owners who would plaster them with "Coexist" and "Obama '12" bumper stickers; the kind who would drive not a whit over 35 mph and would eventually convert them to bio-diesel or hybrid fuel. Oh, for the day when that would happen! How marvelous life would be!

But as is so often the case in life, their dreams came only sort of true. They were bought by the right sort of people (a grey-ponytailed professor of Keynesian economics and a working mom who made her kids only organic food and never visited McDonald's). They were plastered with the right sort of stickers ("Support Public Education!" "Feed The Poor!" "Coexist"). They went to the right sort of places (Democratic political rallies; global warming seminars; Ann Coulter eggings).

Of course, there were always those days when SuperMom was in kind of a hurry, and would push her poor little Subie to ridiculous, mind-numbing speeds of 45 MPH - or higher! And sometimes, Grey Ponytail would be angry about what those Bush-loving, Limbaugh-listening wingnuts were trying to do to the country, and he'd yell at other motorists, occasionally even blowing the horn!

The Subies bore this unbecoming, un-Coloradan behavior with grace. What else were they to do? Yes, of course it was dangerous to go so fast. Dangerous to be so angry. But they were only cars: they couldn't force their owners to be anything they weren't. If they thought about it, all the organic grocery stores and farmers' markets and rallies really made up for it.

Until that day, that fateful, horrible day, when SuperMom was in a hurry, and Grey Ponytail was angry, and they found themselves on the same road at the same time, hurtling toward disaster.

Grey Ponytail listened to Air America and smacked his steering wheel and ranted about tax cuts as the sun slanted in through his passenger-side windows. He was on his way to the Aurora arts district on this fine, lovely morning, planning to swing by the Fox theatre and buy his season tickets. Very important to support the arts, you know. He observed the de facto speed limit, and kept himself even a little under. No one needed to go faster than 30 MPH, really. Everyone should leave enough time to get where they needed to go at that speed, and if they didn't, they should suffer the consequences of being late.

SuperMom was late to drop of kid 1 at daycare, and kid 2 at the public school across town - you know, the better public school. Thank God Colorado was an open-enrollment state: she might have had to pay for private school! Sure, she could afford it - why else would she work? - but then she wouldn't be able to tell everyone how committed to state-funded schooling she was. Her friends wouldn't approve.

She sped along, easily outmaneuvering the other traffic, until she hit Havana north of First Avenue. The street was down to two lanes in each direction. In front of her, a low-rider doing 32. To her right, another Outback doing 30. She didn't want to anger the low-rider - who needs to get shot at 8 in the morning? But she couldn't quite get around the other Subie, either. She waited, getting as close to the low-rider bumper as she dared, until she could cut off the other Outback, and then made the lane change.

10 seconds...20...30! Yes! She was in the clear, she'd made the change! Just another couple of feet over the line, and -


Grey Ponytail had taken this moment to speed up to 32, not wanting to allow a gap in the traffic pack. That wasn't the Colorado way. He slammed into SuperMom's bumper.

And that was how both little Subies - put upon, maltreated, abused - ended up on the back of a tow truck I saw the other day.

Or at least, that's how it happened in my mind.

Friday, October 1, 2010

You've Got To Be Shitting Me

This is ridiculous.

Let's go through it again, shall we? Food has no moral value. Food is not a drug. Food is not addictive. Food is food. Eat a hamburger, don't, but for fuck's sweet sake, shut up about what other people are eating.

The only way to eliminate fat kids is to - well, eliminate them. Last time somebody tried to eliminate a whole class of people, it didn't end up so well, did it?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

Bacon is in the first grade. She attends a charter school that we chose for its academics, its uniforms, its proximity to our home, and the fact that last year, when she started kindergarten, it had no restrictive food policies or silly health lessons about exercise.

I knew that raising a kid with HAES, to be an intuitive eater, to love her body would be difficult. I knew I'd come up against some pretty determined people who would think they'd have her best interests in mind when they suggested other methods, when they pooh-poohed Family Feeding Dynamics and were aghast that, yes, I have fed my kid McDonald's and agreed that it tasted good, and was a treat.

I knew it would happen. I thought I had at least a little more time before her school started crusading against all things "unhealthy".

She received this assignment on Friday:

This year we are challenging our school community to establish healthy habits at home. Starting Friday, September 24, 2010, students will have weekly homework for physical education class. Students will be required to fill out activity logs for the time they are active when they are not in school. We are encouraging families to work together and find ways to be active and start establishing those healthy life habits. Every two weeks students will receive a blank activity log. It is their responsibility to find ways to be active so that at the end of each week they have accumulated at least 150 minutes. At the end of the two weeks they will return their completed activity log to their homeroom turn in bin and receive a blank one. The activity logs will be part of the student's physical education grade and follow the school homework policy. Students may count any physical activity done outside of the school hours (before and after school activities/sports count). Biking, swimming, playing at the park, skating, sports, &walking, are all examples of ways to be active. T.V and video/computer games do not count as activity time. Please help your students to find fun ways to be active and start living a healthy lifestyle together! Get up and play 60 a day! If you have further questions please contact [the gym teacher].

You'll notice it assumes, three times, that we and our students don't already have any healthy habits. Considering this went out to all nine grades of the school - K-8 - I find that astonishing. Not one family in that school is athletic? None of these kids play sports? Oh, but wait, they do - since sports count toward your obsessive total - so ...? I also like that she makes a point to tell us that watching television is not physical activity. All these years, I've been sitting on my ass, needlepointing or reading or scrapbooking while in front of the tube, and NOW I learn that didn't count as exercise?! WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME!

Of course Bacon will not be participating. I'm sending an email, bright and early Monday morning, telling them that she won't be participating and why: it's antithetical to our values as a family. I refuse to teach my six-year-old that exercise only counts if you write it down, and that the only way to be healthy is to monitor yourself. I'm pretty sure she'll manage to absorb that message someday - she is, after all, a girl in America.

They've placed restrictions on snacks, too. Did you know that plain honey-graham snacks are cookies? Cookies. Like Oreos or Chips Ahoy!. We're allowed to send fruit, veggies, cheese, unflavored crackers, and water.

Unflavored crackers and water. My, that sounds like a nutritious snack, doesn't it? You'd be so depressed eating it, you wouldn't be able to absorb a damn bit of good from it. Also, I'm not sure what constitutes "unflavored". Silly me thought plain bunny grahams were unflavored, but then, I also thought they weren't cookies. I mean, I'm fat: shouldn't I be able to tell a cookie from a non-cookie? 

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is probably all part of federal funding and Michelle Obama's fatwa against fatties, which just compounds my anger. Bad enough that the school is meddling in my family's health practices, but that they're probably doing so under the aegis of the fucking feds? 

There's no way to look at this in a good light. There's no way to not rock the boat. I've been a pretty passive activist, mostly due to my personality, my anxieties; there's no way for me to subvert this without standing up and screaming about it. 

Let's hope I've got the lungs for it.