My Nephew, Alex P. Keaton


Sympathy card

Sympathy card (Photo credit: artnoose)

It’s no secret that my younger nephew, N2 is a Republican. During the election of 2008, he used to yell rebuttals at Obama signs as they drove by and while he has outgrown that, he took yesterday’s election results a bit hard.

“Who won?” he asked my sister when she roused him for school.

“Well, N2,” she said, gently, “Obama won.”

He was mute for a moment and then, “But how? Why? Don’t they understand?”

Because for N2, this election was about the economy. It was about taxes and the 53%, which is where he firmly plants himself and his parents.

There were no vagina politics or healthcare concerns for him. He doesn’t have a vagina, and healthcare for him is a moot point. His parents are middle-class and professionally white-collar.

More to the point, he lives in an area of the country that has an unemployment rate of less than 5%. Jobs actually go begging.

Oh, there is poverty. He’s never seen it himself though he’s driven past it on his way to his paternal grandmother’s. It exists just off the edge of the peripheral vision of the city.  Some endemic and some uprooted from Chicago when that city tore down its low income housing and the inhabitants fled to the river cities along the border Illinois and Iowa border.

Like a lot of people in my hometown, N2 has limited patience with those of the generational poverty crowd. Needing help and even taking it is fine but it isn’t a first resort and certainly isn’t something you do forever and then pass on to kids and grandkids.

You work hard. You follow the rules. Pay your taxes and save and you live a good life because you’ve done the things necessary to make it happen. That’s how his father does it. That’s how his grandfather did it. That’s how N2 plans to do it.

He doesn’t think it is fair that some people get to skirt around the self-restraint, work, sacrifice, and in a lot of ways, he is not wrong.

It’s like that bible story of the prodigal son, who demands his inheritance and then pisses it away, crawling back later when he has nothing left. His father, instead of taking the kid up on his offer of working to make it up, simply hands him more. When the prodigal’s older brother expresses some rightful resentment, he is told not to be such a jerk.

That’s how N2 sees it. The rules for him are different, more demanding and requiring that he shoulder his own weight and pony up for the slackers besides.

And while it is a little more complicated than that, he is just eleven. Life is concrete and nuance-less, and some of us never really leave the idea of middle school fairness behind. Which is also not all that bad a thing.

After his mother calmed him down and got him out the door to the bus stop, his dad joined him and N2 ranted himself up into a frenzy again.

“I just don’t get it.”

And though it’s tempting to try to explain the politics of social values, race, gender and those who consider themselves too educated and too far up the food chain to dirty themselves worrying about anything as grimy, slimy as economic realities, it would be a waste of time.

N2 is a simple guy in the making. Family first. Work ethic. Loyalty to friends and community. Politics is and always will be local for him.

And that’s not a terrible thing.

Those who puzzled along with N2 yesterday, maybe still today, are not concerned with the great social agenda as much as they are with impact of a sputtering economy on their families and communities. It’s not wrong to care about those things either.

I ran across FB updates and op-ed/blog posts reminding these people “hey, I lived under Bush and survived, so just shut the fuck up and do the same as I did”, which they’ve forgotten was whine and whinge and carry on like toddlers more often than not. Though they seem to think they were the Dalai Lama and Jon Stewart rolled into one during Bush/Cheney, I remember it differently.

“My condolences,” I said to N2 when he appeared in the background as I chatted to my sister and mother on FaceTime.

“Huh?”

“She’s saying she is sorry that Romney lost,” my sis translated.

“Oh, thanks,” he smiled.

That’s all people want. To know that you know their disappointment and respect their right to it. Saying, “I know you are disappointed just like the time I was but I wasn’t as big a baby as you are being” is not empathy. Just saying.

That is Enough


English: Logo for the Our America Initiative

English: Logo for the Our America Initiative (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometime later today (except for this blog and photobombing my own FB feed), I head offline for a few days. I can pretty much count on no one around here feeding me POTUS election results because, frankly, no one in my neck of Canada really cares all that much. While the folks out East gobble up election coverage with the same hysteria that Americans do, we out here in the hinterlands just don’t dwell close enough (apart from Vancouver) to worry over much about the cry baby/sore loser fears, and we puzzle a bit about all the smug gloating. Canadians really don’t do either and consider it one of those undesirable American traits that feed our own sense of superiority – only quietly. Arched eyebrow, slight eye roll and maybe a slightly inaudible cluck of the tongue.

So, if I manage to avoid accidental contact with print media, I might be able to remain ignorant of who is POTUS until my mother arrives for her visit.

That’s my focus of the next several days. My mommy is coming to visit me. The only member of my family and friend set who will brave the trip up to bask in my company. No one else really loves me enough, which is why we trek down there once a year, enduring questionable sleep and GMO-laden foods.

I think my plan is a sound one. I stole it from another FB friend who is employing a similar tactic though she plans to be gone for weeks. Living in Michigan, I don’t know how she will manage blissful ignorance but I admire her spirit.

She is one of the few FB friends I have who didn’t either unfriend me or hide my feed during the last few months as I railed against the lack of fact, tact and general disregard for buying in totally to the age of soundbite and meme politics. One person even blocked me from posting on the blog s/he writes, which is interesting given how infrequently I comment anywhere in the blogosphere anymore.

It’s been an ugly wrap up to a interminably long POTUS cycle (two years and $6billion dollars – they should be asking for forgiveness for such a waste of time and resource), and in the end, nothing much will change. No Mayan end of the world. No zombies. No notably shifts in culture or socioeconomic levels.

When I compare it to a Canadian election cycle – six mercifully short weeks at the end of which politicians actually go back to work – I could weep.

Biggest awareness moment for me is that I have changed. Enough that I need to do some real thinking about quite a few things.

In the past reactionary, lesser evil politics worked well enough for me. Now? Not so much.

I used to be a big supporter of women’s rights but I see now that it is a distraction issue and that civil/human rights issues and laws that don’t distinguish gender, religion, or “race” is really where effort must be put. It only serves the masters when we scramble for scraps and fight amongst each other.

One of my feed updates today said that I just don’t care about how anyone feels – good or bad – tomorrow in terms of the POTUS election aftermath. A friend noted that I seemed to care a lot, but she read it wrong. I care about all the issues that weren’t discussed as folks bought wholesale into the little details they think are at stake and about the continuing degradation of the voting process in the US, but the drama and the gloating tomorrow – because it will be out of proportion, mean-spirited in a personal way that will ruin friendships and hurt family relations – I don’t care about that.

This election isn’t personal in an intimate sense for me, but it is a watershed.

If your guy won, congrats though I still think that he will have no great impact on events to come. They are bigger than he is and the Europeans, Canadians, Chinese, Russians and all the rest have it right – America doesn’t matter as much as she thinks she does.

If your guy lost, I am sorry. Nothing bad is going to result though. Your life is going to be pretty much the same as it was last week and last year. A POTUS can’t really create jobs or fix economies or stop hurricanes from inundating neighborhoods that really just sit too close to the sea now that the climate is shifting (and he can’t do anything about that either). Chin up. People have lived under POTUS’s they didn’t vote for before and even believed was the anti-Christ. They survived without any visible scarring, so take heart.

I will cheer a bit in Gary Johnson gets enough votes to qualify the Libertarians as a real party with a right to federal funding for their candidates. A third-party emerging from this farce is a bright spot to be sure.

Enjoy the election theatre this evening. I am going to teach a yoga class , read a few chapters of The Mark of Athena to Dee before tucking her in. take a long shower with my husband and then curl up with my iPad to finish a book about Henry VII. Fascinatingly, we can virtually nowhere since the days when paranoid monarchs ruled us through fear and favoritism.

Tomorrow is another day for thinking about things. Scarlett may have been self-interested, but she had her priorities straight.

2010 Top Ten Posts


Australia Day Fireworks

Image by Sam Ilić via Flickr

Top tenning is THE new year eve’s week thing to do in the blogosphere.  Mostly because bloggers need vacation time too.

Thanks to the wonderful tech team at WordPress’s need to constantly justify their paychecks, I have a plethora of data aggregating goodies to help keep track of posts by popularity.

So here are the top ten posts by page views at anniegirl1138 for the year we are about to bid adieu:

10) Brad Pitt shaved the scraggly thing off months ago, but it lives on in my post about goatees and dead husbands.

9) Though I’ve successfully steered my daughter away from the cash-grabbing universe of “dance” studios, my contempt remains. Remember the Single Ladies? 9 year olds hoochie dancing for the dirty old men who troll the Internet?

8) Although I wrote this ages ago and it’s true intent has been repeatedly misunderstood, Angelina’s non-weight problems continues to be a big draw.

7) Another oldie but goldie, Lisa Parker still pulls readers and comments.

6) It’s hardly the only Facebook Meme worthy of scorn (I ignored the equally awful Movember Movement), but breast cancer awareness meme’s, and pink ‘s co-option by Susan Komen for that matter, sparked a rant that people read.

5) Jennifer Petkov was another post that missed its mark but certainly got read.

4) I’d originally planned to write this for Care2, or maybe I did and it got rejected, regardless, young and dumb in America was a huge hit.

3) Jillian Michaels is a poor role model and apparently I am not the only one who thinks so.

2) Musing on my life of plenty.

1) And the biggest post of the year? Women with no basic understanding of dressing for body type.

“You know,” my husband observed as he glanced through this list, “not one of these posts is about your family … or me.”

“Can you believe that? ” I said, “No one wants to read about you guys.”

“I am dismayed, disappointed and disgusted, ” he replied, ” but not surprised.”

Nor am I.  My best stuff is usually not the most popular, but that is the bane of all bloggers.

I hope you enjoyed the year’s effort and will continue to read in the new year.

Take Two on The Facebook Bra Status Meme


 

Drinking and/or working.

Image by parislemon via Flickr

 

Do you recall the cutesy coy Breast Cancer Awareness meme that swept Facebook last October during the annual “save the boobies” month that the Pink People Awareness brigade foist on us year after year?

The idea was that only women (‘cuz we have 3D breasts is my understanding and men don’t) would know the meaning of the mysterious status updates that ran along the lines of “mine is polka-dotted and lacy” or “I have a sea-foam green one”.

Though the women who participated were referring to the colors of their bras, the updates were meant to titillate and confuse men. Because that’s what women do best, right and why God bothered to create us (as an afterthought, I might add) in the first place.

I didn’t participate for two reasons. The first is that I don’t wear a bra. I didn’t burn it or anything, and it’s got nothing to do with any of my feminist tendencies. I just don’t like them. The other reason is that it was stupid.

Why does breast cancer awareness have to be titillating (well aware of the pun – move along)? Or pink-tinged? Or based in lament about the loss of diseased flesh that happens to fit inside the totally male invention of the bra?

And while I am here, why are my breasts more important than my lungs or my ovaries or my colon?

I ranted a bit about it at the time. Was dismissed as an old lady feminist killjoy and moved on … to this year when I received this message:

Really? This is the path to female domination of the world? Facebook meme’s that are the social media equivalent of those grade school “girls’ only” clubs we once thought would secure us a little control in a boys’ only world?

Power and influence. Dare to dream.

Maybe someone will blog it for the Huff’po and it will become a trending topic in the Twitsphere. If that happens then Jon Stewart is sure to make snide comments about it in his opening and Fox news will toss it to those morons on their morning show, which means that the ladies on The View will have to cackle over it for a few minutes, pondering the social influence and reach of women today.

Because as we all know conquering web space is … exactly nothing.

Will it give us parity in Congress? Abolish the double standard? Free us from the tyranny of photo-shopped female images or frozen foreheads?

I think not. Though I could be wrong even as I doubt that highly.

The reason this type of schoolgirl nonsense isn’t power is best illustrated by the fact that men don’t similarly engage in fluffy social media attention-drawing antics – unless they are Ashton Kutcher.

Would men pass around a super double-secret FB message instructing each other to leave a cryptic status update?

Hey Guyfriends! We’re going to play a girls’ not allowed status update meme where we name our favorite place to ogle women (or men if you orient that way). Just update your status with something like: I only do it at the grocery store. And don’t add anything more.  It will drive those out of the loop (the loop being men and really, does anyone else truly need to be “in the loop”?) crazy. Most importantly – don’t tell. We’ll wait until the MSM picks up on this and then only our most important members of the brotherhood (not you Ashton Kutcher!) can stand spokesmen for us all.

This is a way to demonstrate what a force to be acknowledged even more than the force we are. So get that update active!

And then it would sweep the Internet until President Obama updated with “I only do it in The White House” and Glenn Beck – who only does it in the sanctity of his own married bed – outs the meme by wondering which intern Obama was referring to and then it’s a blue dress hunt circa 1997 all over again.

If women wanted to flex a rusty muscle, why don’t they simply stop shopping for a week? Or even a day.  Say the day after Thanksgiving. They could just stay home.

Or they could declare October to be a ladies’ holiday.  No work.  No parenting.   No transporting, laundry or sex*.  Every day we’d met up for coffee and head off to free yoga classes before having dinner out with friends and coming home to nestle in our snuggies and watch whatever reality horror is masquerading as television.

Maybe we should refuse to vote for male candidates. We will only vote for the woman on the ballot and if there isn’t one, we’ll write one in.

That’s power.

But instead, we’re going to “tease” men with not so vague sexual innuendo, give ourselves a collective pat (on the head) and call ourselves “clever”.

The women of Stepford couldn’t have been trained any better than we are.

*The sex strike thing is an old idea that dates back to a play from Ancient Greece called the Lysistrata. In it, women stage a martial bed boycott to try and force their husbands to give up on a war they have been waging. Though they initially stand together and nearly succeed, in the end, one of them breaks ranks and the rest soon follow and the men go back to being “men”. It’s interesting in that the men at first don’t take the women seriously and believe that they will give up their strike because – being women – they aren’t single-minded and focused enough and that they ultimately can’t put aside their individual wants for the good of the group – which proves to be true.

Doug Stanhope’s Canadian Tour 2010


Doug Stanhope performed at New City in Edmonton on the 22nd. He’s a comic.Apparently hosted The Man Show at one time and hangs on the radio waves with the likes of Howard Stern and Alex Jones, the former a career douchebag and the latter a charming leftie conspiracy theorist who, among other things, believes that 9/11 was an inside job and that detention camps are being secretly built all over the U.S. for the coming New World Order.

I came to know Stanhope via my husband, who discovered him inadvertently through Charlie Brooker and Newswipe.

As is often the case with Internet finds, one click leads to another and soon Rob had “liked” Stanhope’s Facebook page – his only nod to that particular function – and found that Stanhope would be touring Canada over the summer.

“Do you want to go see Doug Stanhope?” he asked.

The answer was – not really so much. The clips I’d see of the guy were clever, spot-on and funny, but revealed a man who was teetering on the edge of Kurt Cobain-like self-absorbed disillusionment with life. It makes for poignant poetry whatever the artistic medium of choice, but it’s painful to submit to being a witness to.

“Sure,” I said.

Because it meant a night out and as Rob still has the soul-sucking job while I live a comparatively bliss-driven life, I like to do things that add joy to his life.

New City is a dump. Both my step-daughters and Rob apologized for the venue up and down as we stood in line, wandered the floor searching vainly for a table, lined up in hurriedly procured bar stools along a side wall and surveyed the mainly male, increasing drunk as the minutes ticked by crowd.

“Will took me to worse places than this, ” I assured Rob.

And he did. My late husband’s passion for pool dragged me through a tour of some of the skankiest  dive-ish small town southern Iowa bars in existence. Women without front teeth exposing postpartum goose-flesh via midriff tee-shirts pilfered from their teenage daughter’s laundry baskets and men in flannel – and not the Abercrombie and Fitch devil-may-care kind of nonchalant faux working man look either. These guys actually worked and no amount of Lava soap could erase the caked crud under their nails or the cigarette stains between their fingers.

The New City crowd was not nearly as authentic working class as they probably thought they appeared. Mostly just a bunch of drifting 20 somethings who worked dead end service gigs, still shared housing with at least five other equally aimless people and thought the meaning of life was being able to claim they were in a band and had enough money to alter their consciousness on a regular basis. That last part is probably a prerequisite to being able to live an existence that can’t help but lead to waking up at 35, looking 40-ish and wondering why 19 year olds suddenly think you are so very, very lame.

Opening acts?

Awful.

The combined pair spewed enough self-loathing into the atmosphere, it’s a wonder Stanhope took the stage at all.

Rob Mailloux mc’d and opened. His schtick is adoption, abortion and hating himself. Paced a lot. The pregnant woman at the table in front of us threw the Queen Victoria stink-eye at him from the get-go. Hard not to sympathize with her when the man’s opening line was something along the lines of “adoptee’s are merely abortion survivors” and his act culminated with a long rant on how most adoptee’s had whores for mothers. Somewhere in the middle was a bit about George Tiller, the murdered abortion provider, which fell flat because I doubt that many Canadians know that story and because it simply wasn’t funny.

Next up was someone who apparently is the world’s fattest contortionist - which he demonstrated for his finale by exposing his belly, remarking that his belly button looked like a clit and then proceeded to fist himself. Leading up to that however was a long ramble about how women wouldn’t “fuck” with him. Because he’s fat. Which I suspect is the least of the reasons women resist his overtures, the rejection owing more to the fact that he doesn’t like himself much and that he makes a living off his own self-loathing. But that’s just my opinion.

And then came Stanhope.

I hadn’t laughed up to this point, so I was glad to see him.

He was drunk and would proceed to get a lot more so as the hour wore on.

And I wondered why a person would do something for a living that they needed to drink their way through.

I didn’t wonder it for very long because it soon became clear that Stanhope really isn’t all that into what he does anymore. I could relate. The last two or three years I taught, I alternated between brilliance and phoning it in. I could pull rabbits from anywhere if a kid really needed me to do it, but mostly, I’d left the building.

Doug Stanhope has left the building. What’s up on the stage is ghostly energy. A haunting if you will.

But the audience was either too awed by the man’s legend or too inebriated and full of their own imagined cleverness to notice.

Hecklers, I am guessing, are part of the Stanhope act though I don’t think it’s by his design. He’s inadvertently cultivated this idea that he’s all about “partying” when he’s really all about numbing himself. His mostly dumb young and full of cum white trash followers don’t know the difference.

They also don’t realize that much of what Stanhope mocks, they embody heart and soul.

At various times, Stanhope was brilliant. He’s often compared to George Carlin or Bill Hicks, but unlike them, he’s very close to moving beyond caring. Mostly I think because he doesn’t believe he can make a difference.

Not that comics – or any artist really – should have to bear the burden of “making a difference”. The world really shouldn’t rely so heavily on being “inspired” before doing something about all its glaring and, mostly, self-inflicted ills.

One heckler in particular was desperate to be part of the act. I later discovered that he is a Facebook friend of a friend of one of my step-daughters. Very Kevin Bacon is Facebook.

Decked in the obligatory uniform of a rapidly exiting his twenties but refusing to get his shit together because that would be knuckling to the man, he wooted and echoed and drove Stanhope to at least three rants, one of which basically labeled the guy – Jochum – a douchebag loser.

A couple of days later, Rob creeped him on Facebook and discovered that Jochum was a cliché on top of it. A drummer in a band – isn’t everyone? – he had an event notice on his page for a pot smoking event in an Edmonton park where his band would be supplying music. Edmontonians like to pretend they have the balls to smoke pot openly every now and again. It makes them feel equal or superior to the folks in Vancouver, who actually do partake in the open.

At the three-fourths mark, Stanhope gave up all pretense of brilliance and went back to The Man Show and I stopped listening and began watching his very young girlfriend act up. She tried to break into his act a few times when he was basically disparaging the idea that love is meaningful and by the end was so angry with him, she brought his snack tray down from the “green room” and began sharing it with the daughters and their friends.

After the show, the club cleared quickly. Due to the male heaviness of the audience the usually clusterfuck at the women’s washroom consisted of me and three others waiting for a stall to open. Behind me a young lady gushed about her fortune.

“I can’t believe I got to see Doug Stanhope,” she told the equally young women behind her. “I just found out about it two days ago and I was so excited. Doug Stanhope is like the new George Carlin.”

Oh, sweetie, you need to listen to much, much more Carlin – and watch way less television.

Doug Stanhope has his moments but Carlin he ain’t.*

*Stanhope’s blog has a bit in a post about trolling the blogosphere and stumbling across reviews that talk about how he sucks and the impact on his feelings. He doesn’t suck, but he does appear to be in the backcountry descent in terms of his own involvement in his career. Catch him while you can.

Time of Death? There’s an App for That


Ever wondered when you were going to die? Imagine no further because an app developer has got you covered.

With the ease of a click and for the pittance of exposing your personal information (and the personal information of everyone whose foolishly friended you), the time of your shuffle off the mortal coil can be yours to cherish and share with your family, friends and that girl from high school who you only friended in order to find out if she’s gotten fat or not (she didn’t, which validates your continued dislike of her).

Of course it’s just a spoof. A fun way to pass the time you choose not to spend interacting in the real world.

But what if those few clicks away of your privacy revealed your actual date of death?

And what if it was like … an hour or a day or a week or so from right now?

This app has popped up on my Facebook feed a few times. It’s slightly creepy, and in my opinion – fate tempting, but overall rather harmless. The bell tolls for us all eventually. No point in cowering fearfully.

Most of the death sentences put the recipient well into old age. The impending demises are sitcom hokey.

What I’d like to see would set a person recoiling from the keyboard like school girls from a bathroom mirror after a “Bloody Mary” chant during a sleepover.

Anniegirl1138 Well, this is inconvenient.

Annie has just found out DEATH’S TIME

DATE: July 10th, 2010 at 2:12 AM

CAUSE: Asthma attack induced by selfish next door neighbors and their love of fire pits but their complete ineptitude, which creates more smoke than actual fire.

AGE: 46

Hmmm, it sorta isn’t as funny, eh?

I wonder what would happen if I posted this as my FB status update?

Not that I am in favor of squashing ghoulish fun. Mocking the impending is a brilliant coping strategy. Truly.

But, the non-yoga space in my soul can’t help but going to places that would make others feel uncomfortable in their naiveté.

The First, perhaps to become annual, Social Media Day


is today. Or so Facebook and The Bloggess tell me. And that alone makes it true.

I’m not so sure the advent of Social Media as a primary venue for human interaction is something to get all “rah-rah” about. After all, it can only lead to this in the end:

If it hasn’t already for some of us.

Not knocking the brave new world. I met my husband on the Internet, as some of you know, and many good friends exist only across time and space with the help of powerful satellites and Al Gore.

Just a caution I’m throwing out.

So, happy social media day. IM or text your favorite virtual friend. Tweet goodwill to all and update that neglected status bar for the hundreds and hundreds of people you’ll never meet.

But consider taking a walk and doing some Sun Salutations while you’re at it.

Namaste.