Friday, April 28, 2006

activist time

Okay, you US citizen readers, this is the time to get out and get angry...and to start writing letters and e-mails to your elected representatives.

By now, you've probably heard about the W/GOP plan to grant a gas rebate check to all American consumers (article here). What you may not know is that, attached to that bill, is a provision to open the Alaska wildlife reserve to oil drilling.

Now, everything I've heard about that oil deposit is that it wouldn't actually yield benefits for a large number of years. And there is utterly no hope of getting that oil and keeping the surrounding areas uncontaminated...drilling equipment, trucks, construction, these things all yeild pollution.

So what the GOP plan is essentially doing is offering a bribe to the average citizen in exchange for us looking the other way while they pilliage one of the most pure parts of our nation...for what looks like negligible gains.

If this gets you mad (and I hope it raises that ire), then send e-mails to your senators (here in Ohio, that's Senator George Voinovich and Senator Mike DeWine. I then suggest following those up with e-mails to your representatives and to our president. Let these people know how you feel. While I don't know if it will do any good, it will at least make your conscience feel a little less dirty.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

102 movies you have to see--a survey

While killing time between classes, I found a link to a piece entitled "102 Movies You Must See Before...," and to my surprise, I've only seen 36 of them. I'm not sure if this is a good number or not, but I feel I should see more...because there are some serious ommissions on my list.

I only picked the movies that I am 100% sure I've seen all the way through and could discuss with any degree of accuracy. I'm proposing a many of these have you seen? Figure it out and post your results in the comment section. Here's my list:

  1. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) Stanley Kubrick
  2. "Alien" (1979) Ridley Scott
  3. "Annie Hall" (1977) Woody Allen
  4. Apocalypse Now" (1979) Francis Ford Coppola*
  5. "Bambi" (1942) Disney
  6. "The Battleship Potemkin" (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
  7. "The Big Red One" (1980) Samuel Fuller
  8. "Blade Runner" (1982) Ridley Scott
  9. "Carrie" (1975) Brian DePalma
  10. "Casablanca" (1942) Michael Curtiz
  11. "Chinatown" (1974) Roman Polanski
  12. "Citizen Kane" (1941) Orson Welles
  13. "Dirty Harry" (1971) Don Siegel
  14. "Do the Right Thing" (1989 Spike Lee
  15. "Dr. Strangelove" (1964) Stanley Kubrick
  16. "Duck Soup" (1933) Leo McCarey
  17. "E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) Steven Spielberg
  18. "Easy Rider" (1969) Dennis Hopper
  19. "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) Irvin Kershner
  20. "The Exorcist" (1973) William Friedkin
  21. "Fargo" (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen
  22. "Fight Club" (1999) David Fincher
  23. "Frankenstein" (1931) James Whale
  24. "GoodFellas" (1990) Martin Scorsese
  25. "The Graduate" (1967) Mike Nichols
  26. "Jaws" (1975) Steven Spielberg
  27. "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) David Lean
  28. "Mad Max 2" / "The Road Warrior" (1981) George Miller
  29. "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) John Huston
  30. "Metropolis" (1926) Fritz Lang
  31. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975) Terry Jones & Terry
  32. "On the Waterfront" (1954) Elia Kazan
  33. "Pulp Fiction" (1994) Quentin Tarantino
  34. "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) Billy Wilder
  35. "Taxi Driver" (1976) Martin Scorsese
  36. "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) Victor Fleming

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

take that, ideological certainty....

Just when I think I'm relatively good on one of my internal convictions, somthing comes to thwack me around.

Case in point: I write a nice post about gender roles ("women work at home"). Then I go home and attempt to tackle the assembly of one of those "cabinet in a box" deals. Suddenly, my ideological certainty starts taking a pounding.

First off, I have mixed thoughts about ready to assemble furniture. I don't like moving to cheap pressboard surroundings, but I'm that tends to ameliorate my objections. And it would be sad to admit that I long for the day when I can buy furniture that's actually made of real wood.

The first part of the basic assembly went fine. Then I had to attach the doors to the unit, and the hinges needed to be screwed in. While there was some level of pre-drilling, the holes looked like they were bored using a smallish thumbtack. So I proceed to screw, and not a single hinge screw goes in straight. Every one is at a different cock-eyed angle, and they 90% strip out before I can get them even somewhat tight.

Then I have to hang the doors on the carcass of the unit, which is that much more of a nightmare, because you have to hold them just so. I'm sweating, cursing, very close to throwing things. Luckily, my wife is patient. She has to be, living with me.

The unit got put together, and somehow, it actually doesn't look too bad. Through the travails, however, the major damage was to my ego. I feel terrible, not being able to smoothly assemble a stupid piece of pre-made furniture. I feel horribly inept, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm an academic (and therefore have no practical skills) or if it's because I'm not a "real man."

Yes, I doubt my "machismo" factor at times don't laugh, honest). And it bothers me that this bothers me. I want to be able to assemble stuff, to build stuff, to do something with my hands, but I cannot. And I feel inadequate due to my failures to do these things, even though I think I've never fully bought into the traditional 50s masculine stereotype. Ready to assemble furniture does this to me every always precipitates an ideological catastrophy.

Luckily, my friend Eric could meet me for a mini-pitcher of beer or three ("beer...the cause of and solution to all of life's problems"), and we could discuss jingoistic patriotism, Fox News (the best comedy on television), monuments/architecture and the politics of use/meaning, student housing, and a whole bunch of other deep/important sounding stuff. I eventually wander home and get to fall asleep next to the woman of my dreams. Life is good again.

I still, however, dread the next redecorating decision...I don't know if I can take another shelf unit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

see, this is why wrestling fans need a college education

During the TNA Wrestling pay-per-view on Sunday, one of the characters, Father James Mitchell, used a Nietzsche quote in his promo...and used it accurately!

I love this sport! German philosophy always goes better with chairshots and blood.

initial thoughts on my first visit to a "District"

Washington DC was fun. Much like I always do, I looked upon the trip as more of a vacation than a work outing to a conference. So I only went to my own panel (there was only one other panel I wanted to see, but I overslept) and spent a lot of time socializing.

Cuisines? Peruvian (whole fried fish!), Indian (lamb chops rock), Chinese (in Chinatown, with a massive noodle-twirling chef), and some of the worst bar food I've ever had. We also were next to a good ice cream/sub sandwich/pizza place. One night, one of my friends got a sausage patty pizza. They were honest to goodness sausage patties, bigger than the type you would get at breakfast, and they covered the whole slice. They were tasty if a little heavy.

We stayed at The Highlander Motel ...which made me want to talk in a really bad European accent, swing a sword, and shout "There can be only one!" every few minutes. I wish the "continental breakfast" was a bit more than donuts, and it would've been good if the phones worked, but overall, it wasn't a bad place. It was close to the conference, relatively clean, all my friends were staying there, and someone left a sixpack of Corona in our room's fridge.

We spent a bit more time at our hotel than I could've liked, but none of my friends wanted to go clubbing...for some reason, they prefered watching the Game Show Network...but there was a convenience store nearby, they did have Yuengling (which is a sweet beer), and they did have a regular patron who looked just like Elvis would've, if he were alive and in construction.

DC has a great subway...very Art Deco. I took some photos, and as soon as I get a chance, I'll figure out how to get them online.

More thoughts coming on monuments and museums.

women work at home

My wife brought me home a catalog for The Pampered Chef...they sell good kitchen gear. From what I gather, it largely follows the Tupperware model of home parties and catalogs, all being run by some ordinary person who's been co-opted into being the company's sales force.

They look like they have good problem there. My wife even got me a citrus peeler and a plunger measuring cup, both of which will come in handy.

They tend to only have women pictured using the products. This is a little bit more of a problem for me. Lots of men cook, even (according to my brother) a large percentage of construction workers. Does The Pampered Chef not want their business?

It reminds me of when I had a subscription to Cooking Light magazine. I loved the recipes...about 85% of them worked...but I got tired of paying for 100+ pages of women's health advice. It was also a lousy feeling to know that the magazine, rather than looking at me as a customer, kinda treated me as an interloper on women's domain.

The worst thing about The Pampered Chef was that it seemed to only have a women's workforce. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm glad there are options for women who need employment. But why does this style of employment have to focus on gender-specific products? It's another home care product (like Tupperware), or it's beauty (Mary Kay, Avon).

Women get the ability to sell women's products (even when they're not really for only women) to women only. And it strikes me as slightly regressive that they're pushing The Pampered Chef employment as perfect for women because they can still stay at home! There's even a testimonial from a former schoolteacher who became a sales agent...because teaching was apparently too much like a "job" that took her "home." Yes, even though she was doing what's traditionally a woman's job (cough), she still wasn't where she belonged.

Granted, it is better than no women employment opportunities, but this kind of work still reinforces the "housewife" stereotype...and if they gotta work, they should be allowed to have a job which lets them keep their feminine duties up.

I've been of the mind that the main problem with society is that people seem to be bound by rules, regulations, and expectations, and that these are generally based on power this case, the man works and the woman stays at home. And I've also been of the mindset that society isn't going to change unless we nuke these expectations and fundamentally change the way society operates.

Companies like Mary Kay and The Pampered Chef don't want to change anything. If the world requires that females work, they seem to argue, at least let's let them stay as close to "womanly" duties as possible. And this strikes me as very stupid.

Imagine trying to convince a male construction worker to give up his trade and sell razors and nostril hair trimmers at guy far would you get with this suggestion? How often would you get beaten up?

Monday, April 24, 2006

back from DC

I have returned from the government wasteland of Washington DC. Expect contacts, e-mails, postings, other weird stuff.

I will have papers coming in from all my students this week, but I'm not sure if that will lead to more posting or I tend to use the blog as a way to procrastinate.

Topics to be covered: monuments, sausage patty pizza, museums, joggers and shoving them into traffic, ethnic food, a few new albums, mass transit, mindless patriotism, commercialism, hotels and people who can't leave them, review essays, academic groupies, words and phrases we need to bring back into use, wrestling and German philosophers, and Elvis (or reasonable facsimilies).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

good students

I had a student yesterday tell me the "Paris Hilton Conspiracy Theory of Culture"...I don't remember all the details, but basically, it explained how talentless celebs like Paris are pushed because they make normal folks hate the rich instead of envy them.

I overheard another student say that I was his idol, because I proved that you could get a professional job and still wear sandals.

Students...sometimes, you gotta love them.

Back to the work and non-posting.