February 25, 2008
Over the weekend I came across an interesting article in Slate titled either (depending on where you look) “What does Hillary Clinton eat?” or “How hungry is Hillary Clinton?” It’s kind of all over the place. It starts out with the idea that one’s eating habits can give others insight into one’s personality:
That food preferences are clues to personality was the firm belief of French gourmand and essayist Jean Antheleme Brillat-Savarin, who in his 1825 work, The Physiology of Taste, wrote, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.” In the absence of an interview with the lady herself, I have pieced together clues to Hillary’s eating habits from various reports, to try to determine whether she is tough and self-assured enough to function as president or is merely a food-fashion victim who opts for the flavor of the moment. Does she indulge wild, instinctive cravings with a hat-over-the-windmill bravado, or is she an abstemiously disciplined eater who can be counted on to make the sensibly healthful choice?
Naturally, though, it doesn’t focus simply on what she eats, or even on the psychological implications therein (evidently “people who love hot chilies are considered limited risk takers”). It gets into Clinton’s personal life, from quoting from “soul-searching letters” written to a high-school friend during her college years to — of course — alluding to Bill Clinton’s infidelity:
And if President Clinton was on his own for dinner, he invariably canceled the healthful meal that had been ordered for him and asked Scheib to dig into his secret stash of prime meat and grill a 24-ounce porterhouse steak with béarnaise sauce and fried onion rings, evidence that marital cheating can take many forms.
What gets to me most is that I like the idea of this article. Life on the campaign trail is interesting to me. I enjoy imagining what I would ask for if I had a personal chef (“baba ghanouj, hummus, and tahini” would be pretty high on my list, too). But I just can’t get past the notion that no one would write an article like this about a male candidate — something the author seems to acknowledge when she mentions that “Being a woman, Hillary is expected to cook, something that is rarely demanded of a male political candidate.”
And then the piece ended on a bit of a frustrating note, with the author apparently giving credence to Ann Althouse’s interpretation of the carrot sticks that replaced the onion rings in the Clinton campaign commercial that spoofed the final episode of the Sopranos. Even Freud conceded that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
February 13, 2008
My Short Skirt
(from The Vagina Monologues)
My short skirt
is not an invitation
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook
My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it down.
My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.
My short skirt, believe it or not
has nothing to do with you.
My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my lower calves
about cool autumn air traveling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.
My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or a malleable little girl.
My short skirt is my defiance
I will not let you make me afraid
My short skirt is not showing off
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.
My short skirt is happiness
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.
My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women’s army
I declare these streets, any streets
my vagina’s country.
My short skirt
is turquoise water
with swimming colored fish
a summery festival
in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town
my short skirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip
my short skirt is
But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it
—Eve Ensler, 2001
February 10, 2008
I don’t mind admitting that I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that’s centered around generic ideas of romance, of courtly love, of The Way Your Romantic Life Is Supposed To Be, and so it bothers me on a number of levels. Still, I’ll be happy come February 14th, because the arrival of the day itself means that the aggressive marketing for flowers, candy, and jewelry that comes with the holiday will cease, and we will — in theory, anyway — get a bit of a break before the aggressive marketing for flowers, candy, and jewelry for Mother’s Day begins.
Today, however, I came across the worst TV commercial for Valentine’s Day jewelry I’ve ever seen. It was comparable to the Family Guy diamonds commercial, and was perhaps worse because it was longer, and it was actually a serious commercial, put out by JCPenney. (I couldn’t find the ad on YouTube, but for the time being, anyway, you can see it on their website; it’s linked in the right-hand column.) It shows two or three men holding up heart-shaped pendants, then swinging them back and forth in the style of a hypnotist. In soothing voices, they give the recipients of the necklaces what are at least meant to seem like post-hypnotic suggestions: “You love how it looks. You think I’m the perfect man,” and “You are very happy with me right now.”
And then it ends with the line “Today’s the day everyone gets what they want” written on the screen.
The implications of this commercial made me exceptionally uncomfortable. On the one hand we have the idea of men hypnotizing their significant others to make the latter appreciate the former more. On the other hand we have men buying jewelry (a bribe, anyone?) for their significant others for the same purpose. Either idea would bother me, but together, they’re so much worse. And I wonder, who thought this was a good idea for a commercial? It doesn’t paint a flattering portrait of people who enjoy Valentine’s Day and celebrate it in traditional ways. “Everyone gets what they want”: women get a piece of inexpensive jewelry, and men get women whose esteem can be bought with a piece of inexpensive jewelry. So, ultimately: what the hell, JCPenney?
February 7, 2008
The title question is more or less rhetorical. My real question on the subject is this: did they hate them this much in 2000? I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the other side of the aisle at that point; indeed, I was less politically aware in general. I do have one McCain memory from that primary season, though. He’d been asked a question that boiled down to, “What would you do if your daughter got pregnant out of wedlock?” His answer, if I recall correctly, was something to the effect of, “We would sit down and have a discussion as a family.”
I remember neocons being up in arms about that response, as if any answer short of “I would force her to have the baby! Young people have to learn that sex has consequences!” constituted a betrayal of the “Pro-Life” cause. I on the other hand, was fairly impressed. I think he answered the question that was actually asked, first of all, and furthermore he answered it the way I think a real person (as opposed to someone who’s sold his soul to the political machine) would answer. I’ve always been far enough to the left that I had a very hard time imagining a scenario in which I would actually vote for McCain, but his answer that day gave me a certain amount of respect for him.
Unfortunately, the pandering to the right he’s done since 2000 has completely eroded that respect. From my perspective, McCain seemed to be a viable candidate in 2000, and he’s only moved further to the right since then. I understand that he has some stances that are unpopular with the neocons, but that doesn’t seem to me to explain the animosity they’ve been exhibiting toward him.
Still, if McCain is the Republican candidate, and neocons decide they’d rather vote for a Democrat than McCain, then who am I to argue?
All clips are from Dressed to Kill (which means many of you have probably seen them already, but they still make me laugh, so I figure the same may well be true of my lovely readers!)—
Empires, Risk, Hitler, mass murder, the cunning use of flags, and — of course — CAKE OR DEATH:
Two countries separated by a common language, and being bi- or multi-lingual:
British versus American film-making, and British actors in American movies:
February 6, 2008
Written by quixote in a post at Shakesville yesterday:
We’re not supposed to get into an Olympics of -isms. Nobody’s suffering trumps someone else’s.
That’s true. Totally, entirely, completely true.
It’s true all ways. You have to care as much about my suffering as I do about yours.
If my suffering doesn’t matter to you, you’re just fighting for privilege.
Something worth thinking about, at least.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
—Mary Oliver, 1986
February 1, 2008
Katie Couric recently asked a number of the primary candidates, Democratic and Republican, what book — other than the Bible* — they would take to the White House with them. [*I appreciate that Couric included that clause, because you know a number of the candidates would have answered "The Bible, of course," and we wouldn't have learned anything new.] Clinton said she’d take the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, for obvious reasons; Obama’s answer was, I think, somewhat more illuminating (emphasis added):
Obama: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals.” It was a biography of Lincoln. And she talks about Lincoln’s capacity to bring opponents of his and people who have run against him in his cabinet. And he was confident enough to be willing to have these dissenting voices and confident enough to listen to the American people and push them outside of their comfort zone. And I think that part of what I want to do as president is push Americans a little bit outside of their comfort zone. It’s a remarkable study in leadership.
A few days ago Melissa McEwan reminded us that “when the Supreme Court struck down the bans against interracial marriage in 1968 through Virginia vs. Loving, SEVENTY-TWO PERCENT of Americans were against interracial marriage” (the statement is from a 2005 blog entry by John Rogers), and so when I hear Obama talk about wanting to push Americans out of their comfort zones, I want to believe he might have same-sex marriage on his mind, which is what I thought of when I read that sentence. Of course, given that it follows “be willing to have these dissenting voices,” I fear that the idea of pushing Americans out of their comfort zones is actually a message to progressives: I’m going to pander to the middle in the name of unity, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.
But maybe I’m just paranoid. Indeed, I rather hope I am.
[Hat tip to Petulant.]