August 28, 2009

Et tu, PBS?

Posted in Books, Children and adolescents, Education, Television at 3:43 pm by The Lizard Queen

If you listen to NPR’s Morning Edition or read Shakesville faithfully, then you’ve already heard the news that Reading Rainbow is going off the air after a 26-year run.  It’s not happening because LeVar Burton wants to retire (though who knows; maybe he does) or because every child in the US is so excited about reading that it’s no longer necessary.  Here’s why it’s happening: Read the rest of this entry »

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August 26, 2009

Hump Day Poetry: Rafael Pérez Estrada

Posted in Poetry at 11:43 am by The Lizard Queen

A poem for a rainy day…

Chronicle of the Rain

One of her nipples was red, tepid, carnal; the other, blue, looked
made for death’s caress. They also brought to mind the luxuri-
ous faucets of a porcelain tub.

There’s a story of a woman who was devoured by the moon. It’s
said that her cries were made of silver.

Never write the words “tiger” and “dove” in the same line, for
the first may devour the second.

I was fascinated by the cloud the farmer kept anchored to the
door of his shack: “It’s very docile,” he explained, “and we milk
it three times a week. That’s all the land needs.”

I knew that he had assassinated the sea, for his hands were
stained blue.

“That swan is a rapist!” the frightened girl shouted at me, point-
ing at the erect neck of a ferocious swan. And I, who through
some strange interference shared her dreams, proposed at that
instant that we exchange nightmares.

The girls came running: “The sea, the sea!” they shouted.
“There’s a wave made of gold!”

I asked her to, I asked her like a child asking for the impossible: she
took off her shoes and clothes and walked all night long on the sea.

It was a forest of infinite trees, and each tree had a swing, and
in each swing was a dead child waiting to be resurrected.

A boy whose eyes were darkening asked me, “When I die, will
the sea cease to exist?” I chose not to disillusion him.

—Rafael Pérez Estrada, 2004
Translated by Steven J. Stewart

Edward Moore Kennedy, 1932-2009

Posted in Government, Health care, News, Politics at 10:43 am by The Lizard Queen

“[L]et us resolve that the state of a family’s health shall never depend on the size of a family’s wealth.”

–Senator Ted Kennedy, from his his 1980 address to the Democratic National Convention

Senator Kennedy was a complex figure indeed, even if one ignored his personal life*.  Nevertheless, he helped Congress make a number of great strides toward progressive ideals**, and I expect his loss will be especially palpably felt (and has been felt already) during the continuing health-care-related struggles.  I wish peace and comfort to his family and friends.

*I realize, of course, that that “even if” is pretty damn loaded.
**Hyperbolic?  Oh, most definitely. After all, this is a memorial.

[Hat tip for the opening quotation.]

August 24, 2009

Monday read-ems

Posted in Current events, Feminism, Gender issues, GLBT issues, Health care, Racial issues, Trans issues at 5:00 pm by The Lizard Queen

Perhaps my favorite discussion of the current debacle that is the health care debate is Michael Bérubé’s Chávezian Airspace exclusive interview with “the whole entire American mass media!”  It’s mostly my favorite because it made me laugh as I beat my head against the desk, as opposed to other discussions, which just made me beat my head against the desk.

TransGriot discusses the sexism and racism inherent in the discussion of whether or not Caster Semenya is “really” a woman, and Cara takes Germaine Greer to task for the transphobia in her discussion of Semenya and gender.

And speaking of transphobia, I was jazzed to see that city leaders in Lawrence, KS are debating “whether to approve a new city ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of gender identity.”  The comments on the article are, sadly, full of fail, and I was ready to write them off entirely after skimming the first few, until I came to this gem:

I hope they pass this so women have to pay as much as men do for car insurance.

Women only get 70 cents for every dollar a man gets which is unfair because now the man only has 30 cents.

Equality now.

My train of thought went something like this: Oh jeez, another “what about the menz” guy who… wait, what?  No, dude, see, the 70 cents is… you can’t be seriously saying… spluh?  I mean, surely this is a disingenuous argument, not someone genuinely misunderstanding the “women make 70 cents for every dollar men make” talking point, right?

On a cheerier note, for those who may be looking at attending a college or university in the near future, Campus Pride has put together an LGBT-friendly campus climate index.  I haven’t yet checked to see how my alma maters scored, but I’m definitely curious.

Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start!

August 19, 2009

Hump Day Music: Dar Williams

Posted in Music at 1:50 pm by The Lizard Queen

I thought I’d post some tunes in anticipation of our going to see Dar in concert tonight!  (I’m super excited.)

“What Do You Hear in These Sounds,” from her 1997 album The End of the Summer:

A couple of songs that are way better than their videos (though of course Dar is, as always, adorable in them): “It’s Alright” [sic] from the new album, Promised Land, and “As Cool As I Am” (one of my favorite Dar songs ever), from her 1996 album Mortal City.

Eee!  🙂

August 14, 2009

Friday beastie blogging

Posted in Animals, Apropos of nothing at 12:48 pm by The Lizard Queen

I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for the weekend!  Here’s some fun beastie-related stuff that I hope will brighten your Friday and get you through ’til 5:00.  🙂  Enjoy!

First, the latest report in the ongoing saga of the belljar atop one of Neil Gaiman’s beehives: “We’re individuals in the community…”

Next, quoth Evil Bender: “That squirrel is jerks. But awesome jerks.” (Hat tip.)

From the squirrel piece I came across this article: Bald penguin given wetsuit to prevent sunburn.

Finally, pictures of our dogs as puppies below the fold, just ’cause.  😉  Read the rest of this entry »

August 12, 2009

Snarking about what passes for front-page news

Posted in Feminism, News at 5:50 pm by The Lizard Queen

Okay.  So.  The kerfuffle involving Secretary of State Clinton “snapping” at a Congolese student who asked her what former President Clinton thought about something.  (Here’s one article on the subject, with a rather unfortunate title, that I picked up off of Yahoo’s front page this morning.)  Um… why is this an issue?  Because it feeds into the popular narrative of Secretary Clinton as a termagant ball-breaker?  Let me tell you something about having people ask what your husband (or boyfriend, or male partner) thinks of something you do in your professional life or the public sphere in general: that shit is irritating.  It puts me in mind of one of the arguments against giving women the vote: the idea that a woman would just vote the way her husband (or father, or other male authority figure) told her to, effectively giving him multiple votes.  (It also puts me in mind of the question Radical Vixen has to field on a regular basis, in reference to her sex work (site generally NSFW): “Your husband lets you do that?”)  It’s a reminder that as much as a woman might have achieved, as much as she is working toward, she is still considered less than a man to a large portion of the world population.  Questions like “what does your husband think about that?” — however innocently they might be posed — nevertheless carry that baggage, and are likely to provoke anything from eye-rolls to frustration.

Personally, I think Clinton responded in a diplomatically appropriate way (and I certainly appreciate that between nerves and translation, what the student intended to ask might have differed significantly from what was ultimately asked), particularly given some of the points Liss addresses here.  In the end, I hate that the State Department is having to justify her response, and that that is what’s making the front-page news.  Is that really the only majorly newsworthy aspect of Secretary Clinton’s trip?  (The answer to that question, of course, is a resounding no…)

(ETA: Check out Tami’s post on the subject; she said it better than I!)

August 11, 2009

Musings on motets and writing without acquiring encyclopedic knowledge on a subject

Posted in Blogging, Music, Musings, Personal at 4:15 pm by The Lizard Queen

Gye Nyame recently requested a post about songs I like, which I’m going to interpret relatively loosely, because on his blog he recently mentioned motets (or rather, I see as I click over to the post in question, a particular motet), and I thought, ooh!  Motets!  I know about motets.

When I was a junior in high school I got it into my head that I should audition for choir.  I’m not sure where the idea came from (I was… okay, and really still am, when given half a chance… a dedicated band geek), maybe from successful experiences in various musicals, but I do distinctly remember my boyfriend at the time pooh-poohing the idea.  (Harrumph.)  At any rate, I have a good ear, which got me into the chamber choir for my senior year.  In the chamber choir we focused largely on motets, about which I went over to Wikipedia to brush up my knowledge/memories.

Whereupon I discovered that I pretty much don’t know anything about motets.  Read the rest of this entry »

August 10, 2009

Musings on writing and blogging and taking risks

Posted in Blogging, Movies, Musings, Personal at 12:10 pm by The Lizard Queen

I want to blog more—indeed, I want to write more in general.  Part of the problem with doing so, of course, is that it involves… blogging/writing more.  My major problem is feeling like I don’t have anything interesting to say.  Perpetually.  I’m a quiet person to begin with; lately it seems like waiting until I have something I feel is worthwhile to say leads to my saying nothing at all.  The problem, of course, is that little phrase I feel, the inclination to self-censor my thoughts, observations, and creative impulses, because who could possibly find them interesting?  Read the rest of this entry »

August 6, 2009

Hump Day Poetry: Carl Sandburg

Posted in Poetry at 3:09 pm by The Lizard Queen

I know; it’s Thursday.  But I felt moved to post a poem, and today might also be aptly called a hump day because I have crested the hump of the nasty cold Evil Bender and I picked up on our way back from Washington D.C.  (Two recommendations from said trip: one, go see the monuments at night—trust me; two, please don’t make your small, hyper children wait in line to see the Important Documents at the National Archives: they’re going to be bored out of their minds and are also likely to irritate people around them.)  Anyway—enjoy:

In a Breath

To the Williamson Brothers

High noon. White sun flashes on the Michigan Avenue asphalt. Drum of hoofs and whirr of motors. Women trapsing along in flimsy clothes catching play of sun-fire to their skin and eyes.

Inside the playhouse are movies from under the sea. From the heat of pavements and the dust of sidewalks, passers-by go in a breath to be witnesses of large cool sponges, large cool fishes, large cool valleys and ridges of coral spread silent in the soak of the ocean floor thousands of years.

A naked swimmer dives. A knife in his right hand shoots a streak at the throat of a shark. The tail of the shark lashes. One swing would kill the swimmer… Soon the knife goes into the soft underneck of the veering fish… Its mouthful of teeth, each tooth a dagger itself, set row on row, glistens when the shuddering, yawning cadaver is hauled up by the brothers of the swimmer.

Outside in the street is the murmur and singing of life in the sun—horses, motors, women trapsing along in flimsy clothes, play of sun-fire in their blood.

—Carl Sandburg