roundup

June 4th, 2009 | Other Projects

Photo 90

Wow. I just got caught up on the blog after being AWOL this past week. What a set-to you had there! Thanks to everyone who tried to keep things civil in the discussion that unfolded after Dr. Tiller’s murder. And thanks also to the folks who felt so strongly they couldn’t be civil on this volatile topic. And please come back, M. Pigou! I hope there’s room here for debate, language differences, and varying levels of practice discussing such heavily, um, rhetoricized issues here. If rhetoricized is a word. I mean, some of us have been debating abortion for decades. Some of us are only, like, 20.

Thanks, Maggie, for your wise counsel. Hope you’re feeling better.

Thanks, Soozie, for your gay marriage emma goldman t-shirt:

if I can’t be lifted up on a chair in a white lacy gown with a schmatte in my hand while my guests dance to hava nagila and another woman is doing ditto and holding the other end of said schmatte and if it’s not all legal and binding and stuff? I’m not coming to your revolution…

Thanks, Alex K, for the link to the review of The Little Stranger in the dread Spectator. Has anyone read the book yet? Here’s another review in The Guardian. And an interview with Waters on AfterEllen.com.

I myself have absolutely nothing to report. I’ve been working hard on my book, which I find is pretty antithetical to to blogging when I really get going. It’s a weird adjustment, not to be more present here, not to be doing comic strips about what’s going on in the world. For better or for worse, I’ve really needed to withdraw a bit.

We have a great new person who’s about to start tweaking this site–I’ll introduce her properly soon.

And here’s Dr. Winnicott, calm as a cucumber.
Photo 88

169 Responses to “roundup”

  1. Renee S. says:

    Midway through Little Stranger, enjoying it, so far.

  2. Renee S. says:

    Looking forward to your new book…
    keep busy.

  3. Alex K says:

    Nothing to report, sez AB — balderdash, sez I. Tell us all how that garlic bed throve, or perhaps didn’t.

  4. Aunt Soozie says:

    You’re welcome… and glad to hear you’re working on your book… that’s exciting.

  5. Diamond says:

    Sarah Waters is getting a lot of publicity here in the UK. Hope you can access the following BBC radio interview:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007qlvb

  6. Alex the Bold says:

    Bechdel needs to stop lying to all of us.

    I have long suspected that she is a superheroine crime fighter. Her recent lapse with the blog is merely the latest piece of unshakeably absoluter proof of my theory.

    She’s off foiling jewel robbers and such instead of updating the blog. And she thinks we’re going to fall for the old “I’ve been busy working on a book?”

    We aren’t idiots!!!!1! We know what you’re up to there in Vermont, fighting radioactive syrup monsters, no doubt.

  7. ksbel6 says:

    Well I can happily report that my week of turning my niece and nephew into liberals is almost up and I have managed to make their parents mad only a couple of times…about things like recycling and adopting abused animals from shelters. It’s actually quite scary how quickly you can get kids to believe whatever point of view you put in front of them. At least with me around, they have to think about different angles to a topic.

  8. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey, I just noticed that there are now many posts to the front page, not just 3 or 4. With a few new comments on some old ones that I hadn’t read because, you know, it’s all the trouble of flipping to a back page. Great change, AB, thanks.

    And yer doing the work of posterity, ksbel6, with your nieces and nephews. The ripples will travel on and on. Thanks from all of us.

    Radioactive syrup monsters…I can just imagine one mucking slowly, stickily, through the woods we see in Alison’s videos. Unnaturally attracted by bacon but repelled by keen cats and their ink-wielding sidekicks.

  9. Ginjoint says:

    the folks who felt so strongly they couldn’t be civil on this volatile topic.

    **Whistling, looking around**

    What?

  10. Ginjoint says:

    Thanks from me too, ksbel. Fight the good fight.

    I’m glad to hear you’re making so much progress on the book, Alison. The level of concentration that takes must be very tiring by the end of the day. And – thank you for understanding.

    More to say, but I’ve got to go jump in the shower and get to my McJob.

  11. meldyke says:

    @ Ginjoint – you’re hysterical. As a mostly lurker who didn’t catch the discussion about Dr. Tiller’s horrifying murder under the wee hours last night, I have to send you a big thank you for your many posts. As a youngish (mid-30s) dyke who had an abortion in my early 20s, I felt very protected by you. That may sound like radioactive syrup, but I mean it sincerely, because I don’t often feel that way given that I don’t/can’t talk to that many people about my experience, and know that I would be shunned by some of my closest loved ones if they knew. For what it’s worth, AB (as FAB-U-LOUS as she is) is not the only superhero on this blog.

  12. hairball_of_hope says:

    (…Imagines Ginjoint grinning like a Cheshire cat…)

    The front page briefly had even more posts on it earlier this week, it’s somewhat reduced today. I also like the change to having more posts on the front page, easier to keep track of updates when AB is posting threads in rapid succession.

    Alison does need to be careful around those mutant radioactive syrup monsters, lest Burlington VT get buried in maple syrup à la Boston in the 1919 Molasses Flood.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Molasses_Disaster

  13. Aunt Soozie says:

    “unshakeably absoluter proof of my theory”

  14. Thanks for delurking with this moving comment, meldyke.

    And Alex K, yes, I’ve been holding out on the garlic. Here it is this morning:

    IMG_2856

    I don’t know about radioactive syrup monsters, but Dr. W has been bringing a steady stream of chipmunks into the house. Or chipmunk. It might be the same one over and over—Holly and I keep rescuing it. The other night I looked up from the tv to see it flying through the air from the landing of the staircase into the bedroom.

    It might be time for the thing Cat Pimp mentioned a while ago.

  15. B says:

    Got to see Sarah Waters in SF. Bought The Little Stranger (in hardcover). Stopped all work and read it immediately. When do we get to talk about it?

  16. ksbel6 says:

    Don’t start talking about The Little Stranger yet! I just recently finished The Night Watch. That was so painful to read. Her other books didn’t hit so hard.

  17. Heidi says:

    I just love the pictures of Dr. Winnicott. She’s just so cute. My kitty has very similar coloring, but she has longish fur and black paws instead of white.

  18. Maggie Jochild says:

    Perhaps Dr. W. and the chipmunk have a relationship which you and Holly don’t comprehend. Something like yiffing but with real fur?

  19. judybusy says:

    That is some beautiful garlic! Looks like Dr. W. is a fan, too!

    I also wanted to thank every one for the comments following the death of Dr. Tiller. Like meldyke, I too, had an abortion in my early twenties. I almost never talk about it, not because I’m ashamed, but fear of others’ reactions. So, thanks for all the supportive comments and to all who work to safeguard our rights. Pro-choice voices are not heard that often in MSM, but of course, a lot of anti-choice crap is, so it was especially refreshing. I was also OK with the outrage for the same reasons others have pointed to. Outrage is needed.

  20. ksbel6 says:

    My newest outrage is with the guy who hired another guy to rape his wife at knife point while he watched (in their house while the kids slept down the hall). I say we shoot both of them (not the kids, the men). I know, the death penalty is bad, but sometimes I want to use it all by myself.

  21. m.pigou says:

    It was never my intention to cause such frictions. Therefore I check in once more to clear up after the mess I have made.
    As I began to say in my first message, I am pro choice, so don’t feel in any way criticised in your decisions. I do (I do!) understand the tragedy behind abortion, the tragic dimensions of it; all I wanted to add is that I often miss the recognition of these tragic dimensions in the rhetoric surrounding abortion. Slogans as ‘my body’s nobody’s body but mine’, in the context of pregnancy, struck me as harsh and hit my raw nerves. Without raw nerves having been hit I wouldn’t have reacted in the first place.
    Unless all your objections I do think my problems with the rhetoric form a valid point, worth discussing. It is therefore a pity that the visitors of this blog have taken it so badly, thinking I am a troll, or even worse, someone who can’t google.
    It is touching that Alison Bechdel invites me back in, but since I can’t promise I will never do it again, have an unwelcome opinion, I’ll pull my tail between my legs and leave.

  22. Mentor says:

    m.pigou:

    It is unfortunate that you have been made to feel unwelcome. And I hope you will reconsider your decision to leave.

    It is true that you have expresses opinions with which many have disagreed, some strongly as they have made clear.

    But it is also true that, in general, your opinions have been expressed reasonably and civilly. As, to be fair, have (most of) the responses to your posts.

    We should emphasize this point: The only criterion for “Troll-ness” is simple civility and respect. It has nothing to do with the degree to which we disagree –or agree– with the content of the post.

  23. Therry and ST. Jerome says:

    M. Pigou, don’t you leave and never come back. We want this blog to be hospitable to all shades of opinion, especially those expressed in a civil tone of voice. If we all agree, this blog would be boring, which it never is. Dissent is the lifeblood of discourse.

  24. Churchy says:

    I couldn’t agree more with M. Pigou. Abortion IS tragic, but sadly sometimes necessary. It should be the decision of no one but the woman involved, with her partner’s input as appropriate. If you don’t want one, don’t have one.

    And I also agree with M. Pigou that the tone of much of the commentary here is “We know that what is good, and anyone at all to the right of us is bad.” While Mentor is right, civility and respect are in just as short supply on the left as the right.

  25. hairball_of_hope says:

    @m. pigou

    Please hang around here and don’t be discouraged. We’re all guests of our host Alison, and as she once wrote, this blog would be a less interesting place if it were simply an echo chamber of like-minded individuals. I think her invitation to you (actually an entreaty), to stick around here says it far better than any of of us could.

    Silencing folks who don’t think exactly alike on all the issues, or who raise questions that challenge the seeming orthodoxy of the group, is something that I leave to the hated far-right wing.

    I disagree with what I think are the assumptions behind your questions about the rights of the fetus vs. the rights of the woman, not with your raising the questions in the first place. I hope you didn’t feel stifled by my response.

    Speaking strictly for me, it’s important to discuss, debate, and challenge ideas not in agreement with my own. I might not change your opinions. You might not change mine. But I think we’re both better off for having the discussion and debate. I hope there’s a way we can do that respectfully and civilly.

    Aussi, pardonnez vous mon français mauvais, SVP. Je ne parle pas couramment.

  26. Pam I says:

    On the subject of having discussions outside of our usual comfort-zones-I-hate-that-phrase, I discovered today that one of my young adult students voted yesterday in our Euro elections for the loathsome racist british national party. I’ve never knowingly met anyone before eho has voted for them. I am now in mid email exchange with her about how she came to think that was a good thing to do, especially as my college is about 90% not white. Softly, softly, though I just want to punch her. I do have the power to fail her on the course though….

  27. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Tiller’s Important Job:

    http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/george-tiller/

    “Our understanding of what late abortion is like has been almost entirely shaped in public discourse by the opponents of abortion rights. In recent years, discussions of the issue have been filled with the gory details of so-called partial-birth abortion; the grim miseries that drive some women and girls to end their pregnancies after the first trimester have somehow been elided.”

  28. hairball_of_hope says:

    The AP is reporting that the Justice Dept is investigating the murder of Dr. Tiller:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jGVWFtfQ4MUmrEXhndOpdcrhe4OgD98KPD501

  29. Mad Scientist says:

    Concerning wierd adjustments: I imagine and hope for you that it is a thrilling wierdness, during this time of change. This personal revolution. Screw statements like ‘for better or worse’ ‘fer christ sakes. This is you evolving. Thank you for stepping outside of your box.

  30. Renee S. says:

    To Mpigou~
    Yes, please stay. Let’s all talk. Even though your opinion has been criticized, this is no reason to run and hide. Dialog is a good thing. Believe me, My beliefs and actions are criticized daily, but I just keep on talking. Keep your thoughts and opinions free flowing!
    However, I still question why you think that the mention of Piercy’s “Right to Life” (I will choose what enters me, what becomes flesh of my flesh) which, according to you, “seems hopelessly out of place in this context.”
    1) why is it out of place? It certainly pertains to the topic of abortion rights.
    2) why do you use the word hopelessly? The freedom and ability to choose what happens to our own bodies is something that gives us hope. Without this freedom, then we become the hopeless and the oppressed; power and control over our very beings belongs to someone else and not us.

    @HOH Thanks for the article! Glad to see the Justice Dept has decided to step in.
    Terrorist organizations that encourage political assassinations and outright murder should be scrutinized by the Feds. Maybe we should all start pounding out letters to our congressfolk. Freeze all of their bank assets!

    @Ginjoint~glad to see you back, was worried there for awhile!

    @Hoh~

  31. Renee S. says:

    whoops typo above at the end

  32. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    Hey guys! There’s a reference to the Bechdel Rule in this crazy webcomic.

    http://wondermark.com/521/

  33. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    To see it you have to move the cursor over the panels though

  34. hairball_of_hope says:

    @ksbel6

    Thinking about what you wrote earlier, regarding kids needing thorough sex ed by age 15…

    In an article about the incoming head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, I spotted this factoid:


    Dr. Frieden said he also would place “a high priority” on strengthening the agency’s reproductive-health efforts and improving programs to prevent unplanned teen pregnancies. Births to girls and women between the ages of 15 and 19 rose in 2006 and 2007 after a 14-year decline in the U.S. The CDC hasn’t had a permanent director of its reproductive-health division since 2002.

    Gee, ya think there might be a relationship between no public health leadership in reproductive health during the Bush years and the rising unplanned teen pregnancies?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124424516896490519.html

  35. Alex K says:

    @m.pigou: Are you stopping by to see if people want you to stay? I hope so. Please don’t go.

    @AB: Hella garlic! Or at least hella garlic leaves. But the proof will be in the harvest, when we see the bulbs. And FLOCONTROL rules.

  36. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Renee

    Cheney made those remarks five years ago, during the Bush re-election campaign, when his lesbian daughter Mary was working on the campaign. I think Mark Moreford is a bit behind the times.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29862-2004Aug24.html

    But Moreford is right about the code phrase “states rights.” During the struggle for abolition of slavery pre-Civil War, and later, during the struggle for civil rights for blacks, the issue of states rights was used to obstruct attempts for equality.

    It’s interesting to note that Ground Zero of the abolition movement and the beginnings of the US Civil War were over the statehood of Kansas, and whether it would enter as a slave state or free state. After years of vicious fighting (known as Bloody Kansas), it entered as a free state. The Civil War (aka The War of Northern Aggression if you were educated in the South prior to the mid-1960s) began shortly thereafter.

    Yes, this is the same Kansas that now is home to right-wing loonies who murder abortion doctors, and allow misogynist and homophobic wacko clerics to dominate political discourse. The same Kansas. The place where the Republican party was born, back when being a Republican meant you were against slavery.

    It gets curiouser and curiouser in Kansas. Lewis Carroll couldn’t have written a more bizarre history.

  37. hairball_of_hope says:

    Wiki on Bloody Kansas:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleeding_Kansas

    I didn’t want the prior post to disappear down the rabbit hole because of two links.

  38. Renee says:

    oops.. gar rights? Fish worship, is it wrong?…lol

  39. Ginjoint says:

    Meldyke, I was very touched by what you wrote. Truly. Thank you.

    This is not my blog, and I have to respect that. However, I stand by everything I wrote. I’m civil when I’m debating tax increases, neighborhood zoning, even global warming; when debating the basic right of women to have complete autonomy over their own bodies without shame, not so much. I don’t think there’s anything reasonable, civil, or respectful in throwing out comments that question a woman’s ability to think through her choices, one of which may be an abortion.

    One reason I go to sites like Feministe, Twisty Faster, and this one is that it seems a given that women can be trusted at these sites. It’s not up for debate. I am very, very UNinterested in proving the smarts of women, or debating the depth of their humanity. However, despite my lack of interest, like most women I find myself having to do this very thing in real life every. damn. day. Although, as I mentioned above, this is not my blog, I felt safe here. This was the first site I visited after hearing of Dr. Tiller’s murder, even before the news sites. I wanted to commiserate. That sharing of outrage and condolence was effectively snipered.

    I call bullshit on the “oh-WHY-don’t-you-tolerate-my-intolerance?” trope. To me, being “civil” with that lends it credence, which I refuse to do. It leads directly to things like meldyke’s inability to speak of her experience with some of her closest kin. I will not participate in that.

    In that vein, I’ve done a lot of talking here over the last few days, more than I’m comfortable with. I need to back away from this computer…

  40. Lee Pisosteus says:

    We gar are now called “trashfish” but we have been around since the cretaceous and yes, First Nations people of the Americas were wise enough to worship us.

    We lurk in your shallows, slow and voracious. Some of us are spurning our heterocercal tails and evolving into forms new to this world — and you better bet, we are demanding our rights.

    What do we want?
    GAR RIGHTS!
    When do we want them?
    Before the time comes in!

  41. Lee Pisosteus says:

    I mean to write “TIDE” comes in. It’s hard to type with fins.

  42. hairball_of_hope says:

    (… stops laughing long enough to post the obligatory link …)

    Lee, that was brilliant. But I am confused. What anatomical structure are you using to operate the keyboard? Your mouth? Your ventral fin? And I see gar could make use of a ‘preview’ function too… I presume you want gar rights before the *tide* comes in.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gar

  43. hairball_of_hope says:

    Oh, I see our posts crossed over. Questions answered.

  44. Khatgrrl says:

    It is great to see Dr. W. We lost our chipmunk killer, Allie cat, about three weeks ago to pancreatic cancer. Last night we had to have Rusty, one of our other cats, euthanized. He had kidney failure and bone cancer. Thankfully our vet has been great to us and our animals. We seem to be running an animal geriatric ward.

    Thanks all, just needed to get this of my chest. Its been a rough day.

  45. Ian says:

    Um … isn’t ‘Mentor’ a woman?

  46. Maggie Jochild says:

    Khatgrrl, my heart goes out to you. I had a run of feline death a few years ago and still am not over it. Thank g*d geriatric cats have people like you.

    Ginjoint and M.Pigou both — you’ve not been banned or asked to leave. I ask that you don’t censor yourself or act like there’s more animosity toward you than actually has been expressed (something women do as part of our conditioning, and it’s not attractive). As Janeway would say, ENGAGE. We’ve said we want to hear from you. Quit arguing with us and either talk or don’t talk, up to you.

    M.Pigou, you’ve been asked several questions now and have not answered. I’d like to hear why you made certain assumptions about our intent and connections here. If you are, in fact, assuming I/we put the needs of an individual woman’s body ahead of the “rights of the child”, well, you’re correct and we can talk about that if you wish.

    Ginjoint, you get to have a hard time, especially with body sovereignty issues, given that you’ve had girl bits removed and are reclaiming your relationship with your own corpus delectable. Some of us remember that about you. Do come here first.

    On my own front: I finished the Great American Lesbian Novel this week, first draft, 3200 pages. (Okay, it’s either a trilogy or editing is going to leave gore.) I’m really happy with it and not sure what to do with myself at the moment, except visit blogs and maybe spend five bucks on Chinese food.

  47. Renee S says:

    @Maggie~congrats! Now if I could only start that first sentence of my great novel…..

    @Ginjoint….we need you here

    @khatgrrl sorry for the loss in your family.

  48. Anne Laughlin says:

    On the subject of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger – well, I can’t wait to read the comments of those who have read it once we can discuss it without spoiling the ending for those who have not. I’m a huge Waters fan and particularly loved The Night Watch. I’m bursting to talk about the new one. I’m not sure I loved it. I know I admired it, the craft of it. My opinion can’t really be trusted when it comes to ghost stories, however. I’m a stick in the mud non-believer.

  49. Ginjoint says:

    act like there’s more animosity toward you than actually has been expressed

    Dammit, that’s just what I was trying to avoid. If I came across that way, I’m very sorry, because I hate a martyr act too. And I’m not going anywhere until I’m thrown out. Old-school style, wherein the bouncer grabs the back of your shirt and the waistband of your pants and tosses you into the alley.

    I gotta go buy The Little Stranger. Speaking of books – Maggie, CONGRATULATIONS!! It sounds like an epic for the ages. Thirty-two hundred pages! That is simply stunning. I hope you celebrate with friends.

    Khatgrrl, ouch. You have my sympathy. Losing a familiar is incredibly sad – I hope you and yours are letting yourselves cry your heads off.

  50. shadocat says:

    Ginjoint, you are my hero, or shero, or whatever we’re saying these days, you are it. I’m still deep in mourining over Dr. Tiller’s death, and hearing your voice helps a lot.
    His funeral was todya , and I hope to God they were able to keep the protesters away (but somehow, I doubt it).

  51. shadocat says:

    that’s supposed to be TODAY; getting emotional makes me temporarily dyslexic it seems.

  52. Khatgrrl says:

    Many tears, including the vet.

  53. I just now heard this... says:

    K.D. Lang is going to be on “Prairie Home Companion”, live from LA on public radio, sometime in the next 2 hrs.

  54. Renee S. says:

    KD…DANG MISSED IT
    looking for website now

  55. Renee S. says:

    ohh streaming it now via website

  56. Renee S. says:

    re: Little Stranger…shall we make a date to finish it by and talk about it?…I am almost finished

  57. Renee S. says:

    Has anybody seen anything paranormal? I have a couple of anecdotes that are creepy//

  58. Renee S. says:

    @Ng Yi-Sheng
    Thanks for that post. Funny stuff. However, I found myself wanting more, as usual.

  59. Renee S. says:

    says kd lang: “banjos are chick magnets”.
    (good news for me as I make home-made guitars, check out the dog metronome):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxllQFnSbgc

    anybody want to get one?

  60. Ginjoint says:

    Renee! That is too cool!! The truck! The dog keeping time! Your banjo! You playing the banjo! Everyone go look!!

    Although you called it a guitar. Being musically ignorant, I’m not sure, is that actually a guitar?

    The music sounded like the kind of day I’m having…a slow and twangy day. Also, I think setting a date to finish Little Stranger is a great idea.

  61. Renee S. says:

    @Ginjoint~ glad I could add a soundtrack for your slow and twangy day. Guitar? Banjo? don’t know. It’s 4 strings and I use a slide. Since it’s made from a cigar box, how about we call it a ceegar geetar? I usually make them with 3 strings, but those 2 were special requests, one for my mom.

  62. Renee S. says:

    oh, and they are also electric, just dint plug em in that day.

  63. Ian says:

    Banjos a chick magnet? Hmmmmm. I only put out for Spanish guitar, violin, clarinet and piano myself.

  64. Ginjoint says:

    I’ll give it up for a tenor sax or trumpet with a snoot.

    Also, from my local paper’s coverage of Dr. Tiller’s funeral: “On the altar, a photograph of a smiling Tiller was displayed next to a large wreath with the words “Trust Women,” a favorite Tiller saying.” Yup.

  65. Timmytee says:

    Renee, I just checked that out–that IS da blooze, girl! Big thanks.

  66. ksbel6 says:

    @Khatgrrl: I’m so sorry for your losses. Animals are such wonderful friends.

    @Ginjoint: you rock.

    @The Little Stranger: give me a date, I’m in.

  67. Aunt Soozie says:

    Is that a bottle of Southern Comfort? Or Jack Daniels…? either way, nice touch Renee.. I’m amazed by that homemade guitar.. .wanna hear more… get yer video camera back out and treat us to a little something something. And M. Pigou… please don’t be tucking that tail between your legs!… I mean, save that space for something more fun and stick around awhile.
    Yes, banjos, well played, chick magnet… for sure.

  68. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Renee

    If banjos are chick magnets, how does Bela Fleck ever find time to make music?

    What’s the tuning on your 3 and 4 string ceegar lutes?

    re: Tiller

    I was flipping through a magazine which had a compilation of best and worst advice that folks ever received or gave. The following bit of advice from a son to his mom during the Washington DC sniper attacks seems to embody a bit of Tiller’s approach to life and his work:

    “Mom, that sniper may decide how I am going to die, but he will not decide how I am going to live.”

  69. Ann S. in Madison in Australia says:

    @Maggie Jochild: Hallelujah’s and hosannah’s and salutations!

  70. Ali says:

    Thanks to you I have been having a stimulating ( albeit sobering) time following the last two posts and their comments. Isn’t it a blessing that the worst in some people ( e.g. intolerance and murder) often brings out the best in others as it has at this site. Sorry no comments from me for a while- the sun has been shining in the UK and I have lived at the beach with flasks of tea, picnics and beach combing for belemnites. Talking of good books I just finished reading Gentlemen and Player by Joanne Harris of Chocolat fame. It had one of the most surprising endings and a fascinating, page turning plot – recommended – but I would give away the ending if I explained more fully why you might get a lot from it. I also just read Rebecca for the first time for book club – I didn’t know Du maurier was bisexual?!? It seems all the enlightened girls see value in the arts of sapho. Although neither female character dead or alive drew respect from me – either too self obsesed and selfish or selfless and lacking in self awareness – to show what is great about female kind. Which Sarah Waters novel should I start with? I have seen all the UK TV dramas so know the stories but don’t know what one to read first – recommendations please!

  71. Renee S. says:

    Little Stranger: how about June 14th? Too early? Too Late?

    @HOH Tunings-I use different tunings. On the 4 strings,
    I tuned them DFAD, open D minor.

    But they could also be tuned to any open tuning, such as:
    DGBD (open G), or DGCD which I use for old-timey type music,
    but there are many different tunings possible.

    Personally, I like to use an open E tuning on the 3 strings, cuz my singing fits nicely there, as I don’t have much range of voice. This tuning could either be EG#B or G#BE, depending on the string gages that I use.
    These dang geetars go so quickly I am having difficulty keeping any in inventory and keeping up with the demand, so I have not been able to make myself one yet!

    About the chick magnets…those were kd lang’s words when she appeared on the Prarie Home Companion Show last night. I imagine that kd lang has no problem with the ladies, sans banjo or no…
    I have not yet experimented with this hypothesis. However, if I am ever able to make one of these stringed wonders for myself, I think it would be fun to initiate the research.

  72. Renee S. says:

    er, I should have said “make one for myself.” Don’t think I could withstand such a metamorphosis.

  73. Renee S. says:

    @Aunt Soozie…It’s Jack, but not mine. My nephew placed it there for effect. And then he drank it.

  74. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ali — My freshman class was assigned Rebecca by our closeted dyke English teacher (there may be a redundancy in that phrase) and even at age 14, I got some kind of lesbophilic thrill from the novel. It seeps through. I still get a tingle when I think of the line “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

    Banjo players have deft, strong fingers. ‘Nuff said.

  75. Ginjoint says:

    I dunno Renee, a woman who wakes up and finds herself transformed into a geetar would make for an interesting book.

    Ksbel, back atcha! Also, I might need more than a week to finish Little Stranger; I’m in the process of moving, so there’s much upheaval around here. Anyone else have feelings one way or the other?

  76. Alex K says:

    Jeezo man, you guys have more spare time to read than I do!

    But I don’t want to be a brake on things. So, yeah, go ahead, one week. But…

    Howzabout flagging plot detail giveaways with the usual SPOILER ALERT?

    I’ll be grateful. ‘Cause I don’t want to have to avoid seeing what you’re all up to till I get to the last page of LITTLE STRANGER.

  77. Renee S. says:

    RE : date for Little Stranger…how about hmmmm
    June 28?

  78. Renee S. says:

    @ Ginjoint…as long as I woke up and kd lang wanted to play me

  79. Mentor says:

    [[In a fit of "send-key remourse" I've thought better of it and have decided to self-prune an absurdly-long comment that I posted a few minutes ago. But I would like to make the following point, and then I will shut up.]]

    [...snip...]

    3] Are there situations for which outrage and anger are not only appropriate, but demanded? Of course there are, no one but a fool (or worse) would question that.

    But for those reading this list I would only ask that they consider the community with which they are dealing, by which I mean the following:

    We are not talking to the world at large here: our families, clueless coworkers, or idiots on the street.

    The community of this blog has shown itself to be a group of highly intelligent reader who are all –or should be– friends. And it is reasonable to ask that other posters be given the benefit of the doubt until evidence proves otherwise.

    To point back to an example from this thread, it was correctly pointed out that it is ridiculous –to put it mildly– to imply that there is anyone here who would “not consider the child”.

    But in the same way I feel it is also reasonable to suggest that there is no one in this community who needs to be lectured about “not considering the woman”, or deserves to have their adamant, fervent devotion to such principles called into question because they may disagree with us on a given issue.

    [...snip...]

    [Back into the woodwork.]

  80. Renee S. says:

    alright already

  81. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Mentor

    (… sings off-key paraphrase of Tina Turner classic …)

    What’s gender got to do, got to do with it?

    (… ends aural torture …)

    Seriously, it matters not what set of gonads you happened to be born with, or what identity you have now. Last time I checked, empathy and understanding weren’t gender-restricted. I don’t think one has to be born or identified as female to “get it.” One look at the opposition to reproductive choice should dispel us of that illusion; plenty of the opposition are born women.

    I know some folks will disagree with me, citing historical and social gender privilege, etc., but as you pointed out, this community is not a random collection of clueless idiots. We’re a self-selected group of folks who find a connection to AB’s works, and to one another. By definition, we’ve got plenty of clues.

    All of us are/have been on one side or the other of the historical gender, race, and class privileges, and I think we’ve shown a remarkable capacity for bridging the divide.

    To me, your gender identity is a total non-issue.

    Your role as Mentor is to keep the rowdies in check, toss the occasional malicious interloper, and most importantly, free up AB’s brain and time so she can do what we all love about her – create interesting and compelling words and art that speak to us.

    It’s a thankless job, but someone has to do it. I did it for years on some other forums and it burned me out. I sympathize with you on this.

    I don’t care if you stand up when you pee. (N.B. I had a female college suitemate who bet us all, after many rounds of lab vodka drinking, that she could pee while standing up facing the bowl. All six of us piled into the stall and watched. She won the bet. Julie, wherever you are, I am still awed.)

    Quoting from one of Peter Alsop’s songs that Maggie thoughtfully posted:

    The moment you’re born
    Grown-ups look where you pee
    To try and tell you
    What you ought to be

    Girls pink and quiet
    Boys noisy and blue
    It seems like a dumb way
    To tell what to do

    It’s only a wee-wee
    So what’s the big deal
    It’s only a wee-wee
    So what’s the big fuss
    It’s only a wee-wee
    And everyone’s got one
    There’s better things to dicuss

    Thank you Mentor. Put the seat down when you’re done.

  82. hairball_of_hope says:

    Well damn, I respond to something that Mentor posted, then the post is snipped, so it seems like a strange non sequitur.

  83. Renee S. says:

    One morning, as Renee S. was waking up from anxious dreams, she discovered that she had been changed into a monstrous giant, yet easily playable, cigar box guitar. She lay on her maple hard back and saw, as she lifted her head up a little, her mother of pearl abdomen divided up by perfectly spaced fret bars. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. Her three strings, tuned pitifully higher than a normal guitar, twanged loudly as they were plucked by k.d. lang.

  84. Ginjoint says:

    I’m interested in the rest of that post that got snipped.

  85. Ginjoint says:

    Do share.

  86. NLC says:

    hoh:

    In the current context, would it helpful to point out that the Mentor was a character from the Odyssey.

    But more precisely the “Mentor” that appears in the epic is not actually the real Mentor (an old friend of Odysseus) but rather the goddess Athena taking on the external , physical guise of Mentor?

  87. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ginjoint, Mentor said you had no balls and needed to just find a good man to straighten you out.

    Okay, I’m totally kidding. But let’s see how many blood pressures go up before they read this second line.

    HOH, I agree with you that actual biology plays no meaningful genetic role in personality. If there are predispositions (which is unprovable in a scientific sense), they are utterly overridden by conditioning. The great human achievement is culture and social conditioning, which is infinitely varied and creates, for each of us, a definition of who we are based on what we are told by those around us. Whether we’re agreeing with what we are told or resisting doesn’t change the fact that we have been irrevocably shaped by the information we receive before we even have language. Babies of six months have learned their culture’s “gender rules” and become uncomfortable when they witness them being violated — although those same violations cause no dissonance for a baby in a different culture where they are not considered violations.

    But, as I say, it’s all unprovable because who is ever raised without profound cultural conditioning?

    Having said that, I am sensitive to male conditioning wherever it is demonstrated, either by someone brought up with it or someone who has chosen to adopt it. Because it is the dominant form of acceptable human behavior in our particular culture, and because it contains some distinctly oppressive attributes (as all binaries are inhumane because they are only pieces of the entire spectrum available to us as a species), it creepeth in and quelcheth discourse without us always understanding it.

    However, I can’t honestly say I can point to any such conditioning trace in Mentor’s comments. He’s a bit pedantic but hey, look who’s talking.

    In a larger sense, I suspect what Ginjoint felt pricked by (and I use the term deliberately) was what I also felt, that a woman having a strong emotional reaction to being called insensitive to children because she favored abortion was being asked to alter her manner of expressing her feelings by a man. We simply cannot pretend to exist outside of the categories our culture uses to keep us target and nontarget for oppression — we are not post-liberation, not yet. And the old calumny of “hysterics” (which means, essentially, having a womb) is a sore spot for feminists and all thinking women.

    So, we have to cut each other slack. We can’t read each other’s facial expressions, we can’t give a hug or make much in the way of jokes, we don’t know how hard it is for someone to type or read a screen or focus, we’re not even all native English speakers. What works here is giving each other the (woman-conditioned) benefit of the doubt, striving for cooperation and communication rather than power-over games. Which I personally don’t find hot even in bed, not any more.

    I, too, can pee standing up. It’s not a bragging point. But talking, talking, talking (as we come and go, speaking of Michelangelo) is a skill that may save the planet. Ya know?

  88. Ginjoint says:

    Thank you for saving me from breaking my keyboard, Maggie, what with the manner of typing I was about to do.

    I’ve got to get to work. More later…

  89. ksbel6 says:

    I peed standing up (possible as a part of the male conditioning I was experiencing from the boys I was always playing with in the timber behind our houses) until my mom saw me do it when I was about 8 and made me stop. I still did it that way in the woods though, what she didn’t know didn’t hurt her.
    Anyway, I’m wondering, Maggie, if you somehow see my POVs skewed or not quite as worthy as the “completely female” other views here. It just doesn’t seem fair to exclude the views of men because of gender priveledge. My 2 best friends (outside of my soulmate) are men and they are both very liberal, pro-choice guys that were just as upset by the death of Dr. Tiller as Ginjoint. They also would have attacked m.p. for thinking that a fetus was somehow being ignored.

    I’m hip to June 28th for The Little Stranger discussion. I will happily post spoiler alerts for those that don’t want something important revealed.

    Oh, and to whoever asked about which one to read first, I like Fingersmith the best. So maybe you should save that for last?

  90. Renee S. says:

    It sounds like the 28th!
    I’ll keep my notes about the book separate from the blog until then…Everybody? Whatchu think?

  91. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ksbel6, I’m not sure where you got in what I said that I:
    (1) consider ANY views here as “completely female” — I don’t think I believe there is such a thing. There’s conditioned female, yeah, but I don’t assign a value to that in comparison to other conditioning. Instead, I ask that we all acknowledge our conditioning, sort through it as best we can for the parts we want to preserve and ditch the rest (again, as best we can), and stop trying to fit any of the horrible boxes that dehumanize us all.
    or
    (2) “Seek to exclude the views of men because of gender privilege.” What, because I pointed out a difference in conditioning? Would you think if I noticed that white people often try to clamp off or avoid anger expressed by blacks (or label it as “scary”, even though it’s white men’s violence that has everybody living in terror), that I was somehow saying white people shouldn’t speak because of their race being the voices mostly heard? I think any of us in the group not targeted for oppression need to listen first and speak second, yes, but that’s just smart. If you grow up “privileged”, you are kept from hearing the reality of much of the world. Listening long and hard is a necessary first step to undoing your biased conditioning — and that includes not arguing inside your head whenever you hear something upsetting. But being a good listener absolutely doesn’t mean going silent and guilty, that’s plain icky.

    Consent, balance, reciprocity, cooperation, redressing the injustice of our ancestors, self-examination, humility, kindness: These are all values which some groups in our culture get more training in that others. That lack of conditioning for the groups who’ve been in charge for 2000 years or so has brought us to the edge of destruction. But it doesn’t mean those groups are to blame, should die or go away or hate themselves. It’s a system we’re out to change. It will take ALL of us to come up with a complete answer. I do think those who’ve been mostly silenced will likely lead the way, but I look forward to the seismic shift that will bring to my own thinking.

    I have a hard time with the term privilege, as in gender privilege. There’s a definite economic survival value to being identifiably male (which means straight, as in “real male”, according to the lies). But emotionally, spiritually, even physically, boys who receive male conditioning are shredded by the experience — not exactly the same as girls getting female conditioning, but to an equal degree. Otherwise, we’d have more leaders than we do. No boy on earth wants to be forced into a role which says expressing his emotions is bad (except for anger), which teaches him that sex is the only form of physical tenderness and intimacy he can hope to obtain reliably, which strongly discourages him from seeking a life based on home and children, which tells him he must have an answer to problems no matter what, which allows him violence as an answer to his frustration (thus driving him further into emotional isolation), which defines strong as numb and incoherent — these ludicrous notions common to Western views of what is male are utterly toxic, just as toxic as the definitions of female that feminism challenges. But if you think the only way you’ll survive is to hang onto what is called privilege, you’ll try to look the part and not get singled out as “not a real man”.

    Fortunately, my life too contains men and boys who are too brave and smart to buy this threat. And yeah, I cherish what they have to say. But I shouldn’t have to say “Oh some of my best friends are men” every time I point out that male conditioning tends to silence female voices.

    Anyway, I’m wondering, Maggie, if you somehow see my POVs skewed or not quite as worthy as the “completely female” other views here. It just doesn’t seem fair to exclude the views of men because of gender priveledge.

  92. Maggie Jochild says:

    Sorry, Ksbel6, at the end of my post there I had copied in part of your comment previously so I could be sure I was addressing it directly and I forget to delete it before I hit submit. (No preview option.)

  93. Ali says:

    On the link Alison posted a while back on Womyns lands – I was surprised that a group of women would be so anti men that transgendered people, male children and women who had previously had relationships with men would not be welcome to visit or join. It challenged me to read about such prejudice even if it is a form of positive discrimination. Yet I have recently realised I am sexist about men – mainly due to my experience of them rather than preconceived notions. I know so few men whom I trully respect but so many women who inspire me – that I have been guilty of generalising and have overlooked the great ones. Thank you for reminding us that a place where lesbians are valued doesn’t have to be an exclusive enclave.

  94. ksbel6 says:

    Thanks for the comment Maggie…I must have read more into your post than was your intention…it is the paragraph that starts, “Having said that, I am sensitive to male conditioning wherever it is demonstrated,…” that grabbed my attention and prompted my response.

    I have great respect for your opinions and did not mean to cause you any stress. I was seriously just curious about the tone of that paragraph.

  95. Ian says:

    Sorry, off-topic, but someone post something to cheer me up (and Pam I, Alex K and any other UK-based readers). Britain just elected its first fascist member of the European Parliament. After a corruption scandal, voters have turned in their thousands to the British National Party, a neo-nazi organisation. :( I feel so ashamed.

  96. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ian, fascism is definitely on the rise everywhere. We’ve ejected our fascist-promoting Prez/VP but not removed their stench yet. One member of EP doesn’t begin to compare with our citizen’s errors.

    However, you asked for uplift, and here’s where I turn, have turned for years, to the words of someone who was one a UK citizen:

    When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always. — Mahatma Gandhi

  97. Anonymous says:

    @Ali – “I was surprised that a group of women would be so anti men that transgendered people, male children and women who had previously had relationships with men would not be welcome to visit or join.”

    Agreed – I can see how shocking that sounds! But I think the reality of womyn’s land of which you speak (separatism) exists for the very concerns Maggie gave voice to regarding male conditioning. Perhaps the womyn in the article do consider themselves “anti-men,” but I’d assumed they were, like many separatists, “anti-male conditioning” and “anti-sexism” (which are pretty much equivalent). And their desire to separate and step out from the ubiquity of that conditioning is what informs their policies on membership.

    Plus, my recollection was that women *IN* romantic r-ships with men were asked to leave – not that women who had previously had r-ships with men were not welcome (that would exclude many dykes, after all). The issue of male children & transfolks, well, this has been at the crux of debate at Michigan forever (the Michigan Women’s Music Festival)- and I won’t open that can ‘o worms now.

    I’m also of the ilk that anti-male prejudice is not the same as sexism or so-called reverse sexism. For me, “isms” exist when they are backed by institutional power & privilege* Without social/institutional/structural power backing a viewpoint, it’s just plain old prejudice.

    But in the end, it’s a good thing when anything on the blog gets us to rethink our prejudices! “Thank you for reminding us that a place where lesbians are valued doesn’t have to be an exclusive enclave.” Hear hear.

    *no qualms abt using that term – it suggests access to resources, yes, but also to assumptions, health care treatment, leadership, and fulfilling one’s true potential. I could say “access” instead, but for me, privilege works better.

  98. Ready2Agitate says:

    Oops – that’s me, above. I turned into “Anonymous” b/c, truth be told, I felt a little censured by AB’s comments re: rhetoric & being sensitive to the varied ages of bloggers here (since my post during the Tiller discussion was deliberately rhetorical & mentioned age). :(

  99. Ready2Agitate says:

    Renee – you rawk, girl! (do you know Paul Rishell & Annie Raines? you’d like their music). So fun. Thank you. (What are you using for a slide, btw – it looks like a clear plastic cup?) I’m sure Dr. E. would know….

    And thanks to the shout-out here, I listened to the rebroadcast of Prairie Home Companion today to hear kd lang. After her “chick magnet” comment, Garrison Keeler says “It’s working, I’m feeling it….” and she says, jokingly, “well it won’t work on YOU, Garrison!” Later, Sheryl Crowe joins the show, and she says, in response to something Garrison says: “Well, I’m just hoping to go home tonight with some…one….” (and Garrison quips, “be careful what you pray for, dear”). Cute.

  100. Kat says:

    June 28th for a discussion of Stranger? Yipes, must order the book….

    I’ve been away from this blog for a little while, so I just read all 300 or so comments on the last 2 posts….I’m a little exhausted…

    I heard kd lang on Prairie Home Companion today, and it RAWKED. Sheryl Crowe….uh, not so much…I was reminded of how much I dislike her songs.

    Instruments as chick magnets? Totally the cello.

    Cello all the way.

    Sadly, the one time I jumped into bed (and then a relationship) with a cello playing woman, it did NOT end well.

    Maggie’s Great American Lesbian Novel is great indeed. If any of y’all haven’t read it, get on with it!! It’s mind blowing.

  101. Renee S. says:

    Thanks to Timmytee, Ginjoint, HOH, R2A, Aunt Soozie for all of your compliments on the blues playing,,,it inspires me to get rockin’ and quit goofin’ around.
    @R2A yeah, baybee, I LOVE that Paul Rishell and Annie Raines! Thank for turning me on to them. Just checked out some of their videos. I play harmonica too, I am always so dang busy,,,Aunt Soozie is right, I need to make more videos..Gotta get in the workshop and clean it out, I have 3 new orders…

    RE: Little Stranger..maybe AB can set us up a post only for that, and as people finish it, they can add and read to it as we go along…?

  102. Renee S. says:

    Oh, yes, almost forgot to tell you R2A, that particular slide is made of glass. I usually don’t use glass, but instead a 5/16 ” deep well socket or a brass slide, it gives the strings a warmer tone.

  103. Renee S. says:

    In these parts, we have a duo called Madcat and Kane:
    I studied with Shari Kane for a bit.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3CXkyUnD7A

  104. Ready2Agitate says:

    The cello, you say, Kat? Well then allow me to introduce you the Boston-based Cello Chix (“tearing and sawing through classic rock since 2002″)

    http://www.cellochix.com/

    don’t know much abt these women, but they DID go to Oberlin Conservatory…. ;)

  105. Ready2Agitate says:

    Shari Kane rocks (reminds me of both Bonnie Raitt and Jorma Kaukonen). Meanwhile, since we’re in a blues thread: RIP Koko Taylor. Will miss her dearly.

  106. Alex K says:

    @Ian / Pam et al.: Election results — even for this DAILY MAIL reader, yep, that was a bit of an eye-opener today (along with the coffee).

    It could be worse. In Hungary, the leader of the equivalent party has endorsed the idea that the Jews are fomenting conflict between “true Hungarians” and Roma, in order — after a period of standing publicly and deploringly aside whilst privately rubbing hands with greedy glee and hooknosedly gloating — to come in and gather up, for their own profit, the pieces of the broken and exhausted nation. As for the Jews who claim to put Hungary’s interests first? Lies, all lies, and they would do better to go back “to playing with their circumcised little tails”. MORVAI Krisztina is her name. Watch for her.

    Oh, my — oh, my. That sort of rhetoric isn’t acceptable in the UK. Not yet.

  107. Keith Knight says:

    Alison!!

    I’m trying to track you down..Can you email me?

    keef@kchronicles.com

  108. Ali says:

    I desperately hoped that all the corruption in UK politics expense claiming would lead people to vote more for the Liberals and therefore have a more balanced and accountable parliament, rather than go over to the Tories in droves. I had no idea how far to the right they were capable of going. I am fearful of a general election at a time of such reactionism. I never thought I would say this but hold on in there Gordon – just for a little bit longer.

  109. Pam I says:

    I remember this feeling from 1979, when Thatcher and the Tories swept into Downing Street. Arriving at work with despair all around, that’s the end of everything then. But one Liz Cooper, who had seen it before, brought us up short – this result must bring us not to our knees – but to our feet. And 18 years later, Blair et al swept back in. And meanwhile great things happened at the local authority level – real socialism and real participation brought about changes that could not be undone (tiny doubt that oh no pleasenot) especially around what has become Equalities. Let’s hang in there and try to minimise the damage, and yes no point in sacking the PM meanwhile.
    But OMG 6.6% who voted, fell for the BNP line. It shames us all.
    Lotta continua….

  110. Renee S. says:

    @R2A yeah, I won free tickets to see Buddy Guy a couple of years ago, and Koko surprised everyone and showed up as the opening act. She rocked the house! She obviously did not want to leave the stage, and it appeared her handlers were worried about her health, but mannnnnn, could she put on a show! In my opinion she was better than Buddy Guy, and I left early during Buddy’s concert.
    I read that she performed just 2 weeks before her death. That’s the way I wanna go-kicking and screaming all the way. Wherever we go when we die, I don’t think Koko is there resting in peace-she’s shakin’ em all up with Wang Dang Doodle.

  111. hairball_of_hope says:

    Today’s Supreme Court decisions reported by the Wall Street Journal include this bit about “don’t ask, don’t tell”:


    The justices turned down a challenge to the Pentagon policy forbidding gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, granting a request by the Obama administration. The court said it won’t hear an appeal from former Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, who was dismissed under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124447000965394255.html

    Foo. No info yet on the vote tally, or other details. Looks like I’ll be listening to Nina Tottenberg tonight for that info.

  112. hairball_of_hope says:

    Bloomberg has a little more of the details, but not much:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aC_i2I17f9Ng

  113. grrljock says:

    1) I can’t pee standing up–neatly, that is. I also seem to have really bad aim when I squat. One time when my spouse and I were in the bathroom with a squat toilet (on Komodo island –she didn’t want to be in the bathroom by herself in case one of the dragons decided to drop by), she was greatly amused to see me trying to be contained. Ahem.

    2) Yes on the June 28 deadline for “The Little Stranger”!

    3) So, do y’all think Obama will really repeal DADT?

  114. Feminista says:

    Dear wise people of the blog,

    I need some advice re: an upcoming high school class reunion (our 40th)**gasp**.So far the committee has planned an evening at a sports bar,a morning of golf,and a banquet at a golf club. This is in Michigan,now #1 in unemployment.

    Now y’all know I’ve been going against the mainstream since I was a wee lass,so I can’t just sit by idly. Any suggestions on how to inject a modicum of social responsibility & fun into what sounds like an expensive,boring weekend? Contribution to local food banks &dining at a much cheaper venue? Community service? Picketing the damn golf club? A joint event with Malcolm X Community School,located near the site of his family’s house in nearby Lansing? (I say site because local KKKers destroyed the house because of Malcolm’s father’s Black Nationalist beliefs.)

    I haven’t been to any of the past reunions but have kept up with classmates through updates published every 5-10 years.
    I can count maybe 5 classmates who might go along with some of the above,but haven’t seen ‘em in years.

  115. Mentor says:

    A DTWOFBlog Public Service Announcement:

    Just to let folks know:

    It was noticed that very old articles still seem to attract comments. Most are spam which has slipped through the filters; a (very) small handful are legitimate comments; but a fair number –while still “real” comments– are troll-ish or otherwise problematic in nature.

    [For example, an article titled "FUCK. ME." (about life with an massively overflowing e-mail in-box) from June, 2006 seems to attract a fair amount of attention for some reason...]

    Such message are deleted when they’re noticed, but a few slip through.

    Anyway, after discussion, AB has asked me to modify the configs on this site such that comments on articles older than 60 days will be closed.

    This will manifest itself by the “Leave a Reply” message and text-box missing on those pages.

    If this limit seems to crimp the current discussion we can always adjust it. Likewise, if anyone feels that they just have to comment on an older post, we can probably make arrangements. But for now we’re going to go with this.

    So, just in case anyone happens to bump up against this, I wanted to make clear what is going on.

  116. hairball_of_hope says:

    @grrljock

    So glad to see I’m not the only one who has to be mindful not to piddle on my shoes. I was starting to get UUE (Upright Urination Envy) reading about all these fabulous women who can pee standing up. In the woods, I find it helpful to be facing uphill when Nature calls. Don’t know how that would work with a squat toilet.

  117. Ready2Agitate says:

    Can’t pee standing up but I can pee squatting on a crowded beach with a towel wrapped around me and no one notices. :)

    Mentor – 60 day rule sounds fine.

    Feminista – Has this group been planning for a long time and are they attached to their current venue? If so, injecting some social awareness into the mix sounds like the only way to go – serve fair trade coffee, goods from the local bakery, check on the club’s recycling policies, ….

    Renee – Buddy Guy, yup. Koko’s “I’m a Woman,” which starts off with “ohhhhh yeahhhhh.”

    Britain and Hungary and DADT, not feeling like dealing today. It’s Monday.

  118. Ian says:

    @Maggie Jochild: thanks for passing on those very profound and reassuring words of Gandhi’s. Much-needed. There’s always been a strain of fascism in British politics and xenophobia a national hobby, pretty much like everywhere else. It’s just worrying that protest votes this time round, instead of going to other parties, went to the extreme parties, with the Green Party taking the place of the communists of earlier years and other countries. (Obviously I don’t see Greens/Communists as extreme!)

    Oh well to cheer up those with vertical urination envy, please take note of this egregious product placement: have you not seen the “She-Wee” at all?

    http://www.shewee.com/

    I know a couple of people who’ve bought them and say they’re fantastic. Well, it cheered me up a bit.

  119. Pam I says:

    @ Ian and other Brits – cooler examination of the votes shows that the bnp vote actually went down – just that the Labour Party vote evaporated. So maybe we should be celebrating the swing away from them…

  120. Feminista says:

    @Ready–Good ideas,esp.the local bakery idea. The venues are the same ones used last time,but with the reunion held in October,I may also make some suggestions re: cheaper entrees & veg.options,a box for food bank contributions,etc.

    For the last reunion I suggested a visit to the Nokomis Center (Native history)as an option for those who didn’t want to play golf,but the planning committee wasn’t interested. And I thought that was fairly non-threatening.

    Our school district was named after Chief Okemos of the Potowatamie tribe,but we learned very little of this and other area tribes. Our teams were the Chieftains,our yearbook the Tomahawk,and the paper The Drumbeat,yet we had only ONE Native family in our district in the 60s. Now Nokomis (which means grandmother in Ojibwe)offers tours to area schools and partners with Mich.State Univ.for other cultural events,so ignorance is lessening. I bought a handbeaded hairclip made in MI and some wild rice harvested at the White Earth Rez in MN (Winona LaDuke’s tribe)on my last visit to the center.Staff members asked me if I were Native! I was honored,but said that I like to learn about and honor other cultures.

    Sometimes all we can make are small steps,but damn,sometimes change is way too slow.

  121. Ali says:

    @ Feminista
    Are you totally honest at reunions or do you reinvent yourself? It must be tempting to shock. I like your social and environmental responsibility angle – but organising committees can be tough nuts to crack – all the best! How about arranging the trip and people can come along if golf is not their thing be it ratified or not?

    I find it hard to face the history of how native peoples were treated all around the world but especially in America and Australia. I read chief Seattle’s speech in a picture book when a young girl “Brother Eagle Sister Sky” and felt then – as I do now – that the wisdom of these people who live in harmony with the land was a higher state of being. It is a shame that capitalist theory deemed that non exploitation of the land negated ownership – because you had to invest your labour to be able to morally own land – they missed the whole point that Native Americans didn’t seek to own land – but live alongside it respectfully.
    I was amazed today when a sparrow hawk dove down right next to me and caught a sparrow in the undergrowth less than a metre away in my garden!! I felt sorry for the little sparrow but amazed by the power and skill of the hawk. Talking of gardens I have a big problem suddenly with moles – they have destroyed all my raised beds and are permanently digging up the plants in my garden – but strangely enough never my lawn. Does any one have any experience of anything other than traps working to encourage them on to pastures new?

  122. Kate L says:

    (pee-related)
    Hey, any woman can pee standing up! At least, they could if they roomed in the Oliver Hall women’s dorm at the University of Kansas some years back. The rest rooms had female urinals with extended lips that you could stand right over!

  123. Kate L says:

    God, I LOVE this group! :) Where else can we share about such a fascinating range of subjects???

  124. Feminista says:

    @ali–I haven’t been to any of these events; I emailed the suggestion to the committee chair,who requested ideas, for the 35th reunion. I haven’t gone because of the expense flying 2700 miles for a weekend which held little interest. My trips back there from 2000-2007 have focused visiting/helping my ill parents,co-managing their health care & estate,selling their condo,and planning their memorial services.

    My intention re: the reunions was/is not to shock,just to raise questions and issues,as my dad often did. The last two ideas in my first post were in jest,in keeping with the the frequent joshing in this blog.

    The center in question is quite small,consisting of 3 rooms and a small kitchen. The 3 area tribes (Potowatomie,Odawa,Ojibwe) decided to focus on education about their cultural heritage & values. They have traditional gatherings as well as art exhibitions and book clubs.

    I’ve visited 7 Native museums/centers in the Northwest; all mentioned the mistreatment of the past & marginalization of the present, but focused primarily on the rich cultural traditions and harmony with nature. As feminist historian Amy Kesselman said,”Just because a history isn’t pretty doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

  125. Maggie Jochild says:

    Feminista, yeah, the main point in learning about First Nations people is to not treat them as historical — i.e., mostly gone. They’re still around and intact and creating new lives. So connecting with the living is a great idea.

    But — arrange in advance. Most people don’t thrill to being social experiments for those breaking from the ignorance of racism. I know YOU know this, Feminista, it’s just a general comment.

    Here’s a true story I’m going to blog about eventually: Several years ago, a friend of mine at the time took off on one of her gotta-be-alone-on-the-road escapes. She’s white and aspires to middle class. She wound up driving throught he Dakotas, and decided she wanted to see Wounded Knee, the massacre site. But she arrived on Pine Ridge after dark and felt too shy to ask anyone for directions, advice, etc. (White folks syndrome — g*d forbid we should actually demonstrate how uninformed we really are.) So she drove alone out the two-lane road that, according to her gas station map, lead somewhere near the historic site. Eventually she spotted a small wooden structure alongside the road. She pulled over and investigated — it was a tiny canopy over a sort of table, with hillside rising behind it. She decided it must be an altar, and in the dark on the hill must be the massacre site. She sat down and began praying.

    After a few minutes, a battered pickup came along, slowed to a stop, and backed up. A middle-aged native man got out and walked over slowly. He asked if she was in trouble or needed help. She unclasped her hands and said no, she was just sitting for a bit. He stood there diffidently another minute, then said in what must have been a very careful tone of voice “You know this is a produce stand, right?” He then go in his truck and left.

    I bet he’s still in hysterics about finding her there praying in the dark to the Great Tomato Spirit.

    Mentor, re closing comments: Great idea. These threads are valuable social documents emblazoned on the immortal web, much too valuable to get cluttered up by porn and spammy commerce.

    Re upright urination: Some time around 1974, I attended a regional NOW conference here in Austin and after a boring day of meetings, we put on Cassie Culver, drank a LOT of beer, and had a dance I’ll never forget. It was in some rec center, and at one point a large group of up (mostly straight women, including the very straight and rather prim president of Texas NOW at the time) sloshed into the boy’s restroom to see what it actually took to pee standing up. What we finally decided on was the two-finger method: One digit placed flat on either side of the urethra (try for the clit if in doubt) gives phenomenal control and aim. Of course, you must wash hands afterward but I take that as ordinary hygeine anyhow.

  126. NLC says:

    Feminista Says:
    … an upcoming high school class reunion (our 40th)**gasp** …

    A fellow 69′er!!!

    ([koff][koff], well, er, um yes… uh you know what I mean….)

    Feminista you are a much braver person than I am. I can’t possibly imagine going back to a reunion. Fleeing all that once was enough…

    Er, not that I don’t hope you have a great time.

  127. Feminista says:

    @Maggie–congrats on your book triumph! I look forward to seeing it in print in the future (and some of the acknowledgments going to all of us blog-folk).

    I wish you and others blogsters were on the reunion committee. We’d have a great time!

  128. Feminista says:

    @NLC re: 69ers. **chuckle** In high school Spanish class, solid D student Bill Copeland used to harass me by hissing “69″ and then muttering Spanish swear words. I didn’t know the “other” meaning of 69,didn’t even know oral sex existed (it was illegal in MI to teach
    any more than the biology of reproduction). Then I looked up “chingar” in the Spanish/English dictionary!

    I’m happy to say that the creep was unlucky in love (married and divorced twice). However,as of 5 years ago he worked as a women’s swim coach. **shudder**

  129. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie

    The Great Tomato Spirit?!?! Oh dear, I have to use four digits over my urethra to stop from peeing!

    My college suitemate used no digits, she could aim for the bowl via muscle control. Impressive.

    Speaking of college freshman girls, I have just been informed that I am going to be teaching my oldest rental daughter to drive. Her first road adventure today with Mom went soooo well… ahem, that’s why the task now falls on me.

    Anyone have any pointers on teaching a 19-year old to drive? I know they now teach 9 and 3 instead of 10 and 2 on the steering wheel because of the airbag, obviously skid management with ABS brakes is different. What else has changed in the last 30-someodd years? The goal is to have her pass her road test before going back to school in August.

    She will be taking driver’s ed, and I told her I won’t be taking her out to drive until she’s had at least two or three lessons from a pro. Now to find an empty parking lot to practice in for the first session…

  130. Ian says:

    “I bet he’s still in hysterics about finding her there praying in the dark to the Great Tomato Spirit.”

    Thanks Maggie for making me giggle for a good few minutes with this one!

    You’ve just reminded me – I had a very random thought today. There’s been a lot in the papers about bees being in trouble and the vital role they play in pollinating our crops. Out of nowhere I wondered whether any society had practiced bee worship. I’ve no idea, but the idea buzzed in my head for a bit! (Sorry).

  131. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ian

    There’s a Wiki on bee worship in mythology, but that link would be so predictable.

    I ditched the idea of posting a link to the Saturday Night Live bees once I found this:

    http://www.cla.purdue.edu/waaw/ressler/ARTISTS/mackostat.html

  132. Renee S. says:

    Bizzy Buzz Buzz

  133. Kat says:

    Cello rock is a pretty awesome genre, R2A. It’s also called “String Metal.”
    Some guys that I grew up with started a string metal band called Judgment Day, and they rawk!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma4_zGP8ZC0&feature=related&pos=4
    They prove that just cuz you’re a classical music nerd, it doesn’t mean that you have to learn bad guitar to play in a rock band!

    My cello player ex-girlfriend loves Rasputina
    http://www.rasputina.com/history.html, but I’ve never been a huge fan of their vocals.

    RE: High school reunions:
    A couple of years ago, Boyfriend and I went up to semi-rural British Columbia for his 10 year anniversary. It was fascinating to me, because I had never met any of these people, but it was really evident which “crowd” everyone belonged to back in the day.
    The “popular” girls were all still snobby, fake blonde and obnoxious. The sweet, sweet revenge was that they were all jazzercise mommies with 2.5 kids, a minivan and no life. They approached one of boyfriend’s good friends and asked what she was up to, these days.
    Susan paused, shifted her weight while she decided how brutally honest to be, and said:
    “Well, um, at the moment I’m living in a tent in southern Sudan, helping to spread democracy…”

    It was priceless!! The formerly snobby and nasty girls all just kind of picked up their chins and walked away.

    There wasn’t any golf, but it was kind of similar to Feminista’s school’s plan: “social hour” cocktails at somewhere way too “mainstream” (read–jock-ish), a banquet-y thing with overpriced bad food, worse music and a silent auction…..blech.

  134. Kat says:

    Sweeeeet, the Cello Chix have an electric cello!
    My friend just bought an inexpensive instrument and pulled it apart, electrified it, and put it back together…..They do have an electric violin, though, so they’re not totally DIY.

  135. Dr. Empirical says:

    I went to my 5th-year high school reunion. Stayed about 20 minutes, and never looked back. No one I wanted to talk to showed up. I was only there because it was Thanksgiving weekend and i happened to be in town to see family.

    Renee: I loved your kickin’ video! Are your Cigitters fretted like guitars or dulcimers? Instead of a cigar box, have you ever tried a paint can, or a canned ham? I’ve got a ham-can ukulele that always gets a great crowd response when I play open mike. Took me three hams to get it built right. Hmmm… I think I could do a YouTube video if I get a better memory chip for my camera…

    ps: I can pee standing up. Given enough vodka, I can put out a small campfire. That makes TWO ideas for YouTube videos!

  136. Kat says:

    a canned-ham ukulele?? that’s way too cool.

  137. Timmytee says:

    WOW! Do my eyes deceive me?? For the first time in my three-plus years of coming here I see NUMBERED COMMENTS!! Is it possible? Could Alison’s near-perfect site actually be MORE perfect? Maybe I’m still asleep? Thanks, Alison, Shawn, whomever (even if it IS a dream)! Best wishes to all from northwest PA.

  138. NLC says:

    I’ve not read _The Little Stranger_ (and I suspect I won’t have time in the near future) but, for interested parties, I thought I’d mention that I’m listening to a (5min+) story about Sarah Waters and the book on NPR’s Morning Edition as I type.

    There is a link to story here:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=3

  139. Renee S. says:

    @ Dr. E
    Well, I have a cookie tin that I was gonna use, but I also made a table top diddly bow out of an iron skillet and a jackhandle.
    I wanna see your uke and your video! This is wayyyy too cool!
    The Git is fretted like a guitar, but I was planning on making a dulcimer and uke soon.

  140. Dr. Empirical says:

    Cookie tin! Great idea!

  141. Ian says:

    Numbered comments? Ooooh, this place just went even more upmarket!

    @hoh: Thanks for that link on the art installation, I think. I had been flirting with the idea of doing a critical studies art/art history course at night school, but you just reminded me why I’m a little dubious about it. That installation just exploded my pretentiousness and bullshit-o-meter.

  142. Khatgrrl says:

    Perhaps its just me, but I don’t have numbered commments.

    On the topic of reunions, my last was a 20th. (The wife and I graduated together from the same school.) Someone decided that opening weekend for the track, Saratoga Springs, NY, would be a good time to have it. We went to one of the events at a bar in downtown Saratoga, where we spent much of the evening screaming over incredibly loud music, to a select group of people we actually were happy to see.

    I would have much preferred meeting at a local museum or getting together to do some sort of community project. Drinking always seems to win out those in charge. Not much into that. I would rather have met somewhere where we could have had a normal conversation and caught up with what others had been up to.

  143. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ian (#142)

    Oooh look, I can reference a comment number!

    re: Art installation bullshit-o-meter

    I recall shuffling off to Buffalo to see the opening of a friend’s roommate’s art installation that was part of her MFA requirements.

    How to describe the art? Imagine a room filled with large sand-filled burlap sacks hanging from the ceiling, each sand-filled thingie in the shape of a scrotum. Some had barbed wire surrounding them, some had other things (I think I’ve blocked the memories). Each had some pretentious blather about the meaning of the piece on an accompanying plaque.

    We cracked up, knowing that this woman was (oh how to put this politely), a pit stop for males, she screwed 2-3 guys a day, every day, for the year she lived with my friend.

    I had brought a bottle of Jack Daniels to the opening. I told my friend she was now the designated driver, I was going to drink this memory away. And I did.

  144. Ian says:

    @hoh#144: In the shape of scrota you say? So it was a load of balls? ;)

  145. Maggie Jochild says:

    As opposed to a sack of butt.

  146. hairball_of_hope says:

    The LA Times is reporting that Dr. George Tiller’s family has decided to close his medical clinic:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-tiller10-2009jun10,0,6032915.story

  147. Anonymous says:

    @grrljock

    As to DADT I don’t think Obama will do anything about it. Like so many of his campaign promises its been tossed in the toilet.

    One of my Dyke cousins was in the Navy and switched to the reserves where she reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer. She told me there was always some investigation or questioning wherever she went so she quit the regular Navy and joined the reserves where there wasn’t as near as much bullshit going on.

    There is one type of male conditioning going on that I know you appreciate and that is putting the toilet seat down. I had no idea why I was supposed to do that until I was about ten.

    Congrats to the “69ers”, I am a “59er” myself and have a reunion coming up in October. Evidently we have “lost” about 10% of our graduating class of 1400.

    Here’s a link to a “Tom Tomorrow” cartoon about abortion at Salon.com.

    http://www.salon.com/comics/tomo/2009/06/09/tomo/index.html

  148. Ted says:

    Sorry about “Anonymous” I’m trying out a new browser and my name wasn’t auto inserted. #148

  149. Dr. Empirical says:

    Crooked Still has a smokin’ cello player.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh5zmCcrRAA

  150. Diamond says:

    Has the heading just changed or was that the same time as the numbered comments? Looks great.

  151. Diamond says:

    It isn’t 3.57 here in the UK by the way. I don’t actually check websites for changed headings at 4 o’clock in the morning . . .

  152. Diamond says:

    Oops,it’s pm. How about a delete post function as well as preview? Sorry.

  153. Kate L says:

    Garfunkle & Oates (no, not a new fusion band of 20th century music icons) sing a paradoy of the homophobic arguement that legalizing gay marriage will lead inevitably to -gasp!- sex with ducks. I really, really find the brunette (Oates, I believe) easy on the eyes, as we say out here in the Midwest… http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/offbeat/2009/06/08/moos.duck.sex.parody.cnn?iref=videosearch

  154. Acilius says:

    I’ve been wishing for numbered comments ever since I started commenting! Three cheers!

  155. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Diamond (#152,153)

    The time shown is local Vermont time, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). EDT is UTC (GMT) -4:00.

  156. hairball_of_hope says:

    That calendar archive thing is new, yes? Or have I somehow missed it all this time?

    Hey AB! When are you going to introduce your new webwoman? She’s tweaking the site, we’d like to tweak her. :)

    (… image of crane hoisting my mind out of the gutter …)

  157. Pam I says:

    The Daily Distress is up there too.

    Can we have more pages of small ads added on to the DD, pretty please? Too good to waste that great ur-mind contribution.

  158. blink says:

    i think the daily distress has been on the menu for a while

  159. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Pam I (#158… it’s so much fun to have comment numbers)

    The DD link has been up there since early April. I agree with you that the DD outtakes are also worthy of having their own links.

    I’m actually wishing for another DD contest, it was so much fun to read the entries.

  160. shadocat says:

    Ted-that cartoon would be really funny iif it weren’t so true…

    The word is that the Tiller family is not going to re-open the clinic after all.

    My thought is what’s going to happen to all those women who have already been scheduled to be seen at the clinic? Who is going to help them now?

  161. shadocat says:

    whoops, hoh, I see you’ve already scooped me on this—good article, though.

  162. Metaphysical says:

    I like the new header on your homepage, AB. Cute and, I suppose, appropriate now that you’re not drawing DTWOF anymore *sniff*

  163. hairball_of_hope says:

    Some good news for a change… EU Court of Human Rights rules against Turkey for failing to adequately prosecute a domestic violence case, and classifies it as gender discrimination, which is unlawful under EU rules:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124458614223099683.html

  164. Ready2Agitate says:

    Enjoyed the cello links, Kat – good to have you back.

    And yeah, I love Tom Tomorrow, but my response was just like Shadocat’s (‘would that it just wasn’t so…’)

  165. hey.

    lookit all the new blog things!

    Is there a preview function here yet? Just checking.

  166. hairball_of_hope says:

    Remember my pseudo herbal insect repellent recipe? The one with odd herbs and condiments? Here’s a bizarre factoid about a real herbal insect repellent under development:


    Chemical maker DuPont Co. is closer. It recently received EPA registration for a repellent made with catnip that it claims is as effective as DEET. The company, which is in the process of finding partners to market the repellent, says it could be available for sale in about a year.

    Oh good, repels mosquitos, but attracts every stray feline in a three block radius. I can just imagine the lawsuits from unhappy customers when feral felines shred the crap out of their calves.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124460131483800913.html

  167. Timmytee says:

    10 AM June 10:
    On NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, right now on Vermont Public Radio, Rev. Katherine Ragsdale(sp?) is talking about Dr. Tiller’s tragic murder. I’m listening on line, but some stations, my local Erie one included, carry the broadcast later in the day.

  168. hairball_of_hope says:

    For those of you gallivanting in France, Le Centre Pompidou has an all-female exhibit going on, “elles@centrepompidou,” art by women from the Pompidou collection.

    http://www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Manifs.nsf/AllExpositions/44638F832F0AFABFC12575290030CF0D?OpenDocument&sessionM=2.2.1&L=1

    (You can use Google Translate on this URL.)

    Among the artists exhibited in the section entitled “Une chambre à soi” (“A Room of One’s Own”) is Sophie Calle. That poor ex-boyfriend is never going to catch a break. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Virginia Woolf had in mind.