Saturday, August 06, 2005
There's an opportunity for real trenchant social commentary there.
Well, Michael of AmericaBlog has seen the movie and thinks that opportunity has been answered. He writes:
But why is Americablog talking about it? Because this movie is incredibly relevant. The far right can't turn this into some leftie diatribe -- this is recent American history, based on the facts and often using historical footage from the HUAC hearings and the actual words of Murrow and McCarthy. It's the far right's own unease over Bush's deeply un-American policies (torture, smearing people who disagree with you, attacking anyone who doesn't support you as weak on terror/communism) that let's them understand why this film speaks to us today.
Well, guess what. There's more.
The FBI has searched the home of Spokane Mayor Jim West, seizing his computers and related files, court documents filed today reveal.
The FBI obtained the federal warrant to search West’s home in west Spokane after convincing a federal judge that there is probable cause to believe a federal crime has been committed.
The warrant says there is sufficient evidence to believe that West “knowingly and willingly engaged in a scheme to entice others to engage in sexual activity with him through offers and grants of city of Spokane jobs, internships or appointments.”
The search warrant affidavit, signed by FBI special agent Frank Harrill, said the federal investigation suggested West’s solicitation of sex-for-city jobs was performed on a personal computer located at his home at 639 W. Persimmon Lane.
Friday, August 05, 2005
For the first time in my life, I'm scared of critics. and I really haven't been so far. What I laughingly refer to as my writing career has been so non-noteworthy so far, I've thought I'd welcome any review, even a bad one, as long as it meant somebody saw something of mine and thought about it.
But now, having spent a few minutes looking up reviews of Diana Son's play Stop Kiss, which I've just read, I find myself feeling really fearful about what people are eventually going to say about my movie/book/play/whateverthehell it grows up to be about those couple of lesbians. Because most of the reviews seem to be seeing different things in it.
Stop Kiss is the story of a couple of women friends who spend a few weeks fighting a mutual attraction and then, the moment they kiss, are the victims of a gay bashing--and find themselves kind of "taken up" by forces from all sides.
It's moving. But it's those "raised stakes" I'm so sensitive about, that thing I don't want to do. It's all very "The Plight Of The Young Lesbians." The world that just doesn't understand, etc, etc.
And it doesn't help me that one of the women is named Callie (for those who don't know, one of my characters is a man named Colley)
I guess I'm just worried whether there is any way for me to tell, or I could mean whether I am going to "allowed" to tell, the story of my characters while keeping them who I want them to be and their story about what I want it to be about.
It's weird, I've been thinking about why I had such a...ambivilent, lukewarm reaction to Kissing Jessica Stein, and I think one of the reasons is that I have no particular interest in seeing (or writing) stories about women who are neurotic about being gay. I don't know why, but as I see them, Annabel never was, I think Keitha was briefly but by the time we meet her in My Girlfriend's Boyfriend she's well over it.
Nor do I have any interest in "ramping up" to the gay stuff for a "straight" audience. In Girlfriend's Boyfriend the first shot of the first scene is of the two women dancing together.
I don't know why this should be, but, I just feel like...I'm already there. I'm with Keitha and Annabel. It's up to the audience to catch up. It's entirely possible this is a foolhardy feeling. I think it was Cocteau who said something along the lines that the artist is in a car and the audience is following behind in a car. The artist is always ahead, but he must not lose sight of the audience or they will be lost.
What's weird is that what's so potentially controversial about my basic premise--the relationships between a lesbian, her straight boy best friend, and her girlfriend--was never intended by me to be so. Maybe it's because I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, maybe it's because I'm naive--or both--but to me, in a way, that's only a mild point of interest.
(So why do you expect anyone else to be interested, Ben? You're that good, are you?)
So time will tell, and time's never wrong, so time will tell-but time takes so long...
--The Twins, "Time Will Tell"
What I want to talk about is why, I think, this book is even better than its "prequel." There are a number of reasons and they are presented here as I find them flipping through the book a few minutes after having completed it. And they're kind of personal.
I don't agree, of course, with every one of his choices. I haven't seen it since 1985 but I suspect I'd be hard-pressed to put The Color Purple on any of my lists of great films. But then I seem to be a little more agnostic about Spielberg than Ebert is.
I love Raiders of The Lost Ark too, but Ebert can't convince me it was an early examination of Spielberg's feelings about the Nazis. And led eventually to Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.
Then, also of course, there are the choices I agree with completely--Leaving Las Vegas.
And I like the book for giving me information I didn't have before and I'm glad to have now, like that the picture Beat The Devil contains a line where a woman warns her husband about the "seedy gang of charlatans" they've thrown in with:
"We have to be careful of them, they're desperate characters. Not one of them looked at my legs."
And I like his nomination of My Dinner with Andre as a movie that is "entirely devoid of cliches." But I'd still stand up for New Waterford Girl, a movie I've mentioned a couple of times here recently. One of the things that's made it a great film for me are the times when, the first time you're watching it, something happens that makes you think you know what's going to happen next. But you don't, and what does happen is so teriffic it makes you think you'll love the film forever.
But possibly what makes this great movies book more essential for me than the first is that it includes a movie I've long suspected was great, but feared might be seen as too...I don't know, "common" or something: John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In his review here, Ebert makes the point that:
"Some movies are obviously great. Others gradually thrust their greatness
And I think he's right. PTA is, for me, a beautifully played and written, and unexpectedly poignant movie that has stood the test of time. And a comedy that might actually earn the much-hopefuly-overused adjective "Capraesque." It's funny as hell, but I don't think I've ever been able to watch the last scenes of the movie without crying, just a little bit.
I'm also pleased that he included a film by Eric Rohmer, even though I don't think I've seen the particular one he chose. Because it reminds me that a few years ago, I went through a brief passion for Rohmer. When I worked at a video store, I took home a number of his films in sequence. Ebert reminds me why. I think the movie I remember best from my "Rohmer Review" was Full Moon In Paris, but it almost doesn't matter. They tend to run together, being generally stories about intelligent, educated and/or professional young women, twisting sometimes painfully in or out of love.
What I remember about the "Rohmer period" of my viewing life is not the plots, it's the admiring way he shoots, and treats, those women. As Ebert says:
He admires physical beauty but never makes it the point; he chooses acrtesses who are smart and bright-eyed, and focuses on their personalities rather than their exteriors....What pervades Rohmer's work is a faith in love--or, if not love, then in the right people finding each other for the right reasons. There is sadness in his work but not gloom...his films succeed not because large truths are discovered but because small truths will do.
Yes. Exactly that, and no more. And stick those "stakes," that one-or-two people have been telling me I need to "raise" in my work about beautiful, smart women who find each other for the right reasons...where the sun does not shine.
Via Tennessee Guerilla Women:
"The drop in the number of people who see Bush as honest was strongest among middle-aged Americans as well as suburban women, a key voting group in the 2004 election. A further erosion of trust could make it tougher for Bush to win support for his policies in Congress and internationally.
But the portion of people who view his confidence as arrogance has increased from 49 percent in January to 56 percent now.
"This country is a monarchy," said Charles Nuutinen, a 62-year-old independent from Greenville, Wis. "He's turning this country into Saudi Arabia. He does what he wants. He doesn't care what the people want." "
Looking back, that--the Schiavo case-really does seem to be the first moment that an overwhelming number of people in this country opposed something Bush and the Republican congress did. The GOP so completely misjudged, was so utterly tone-deaf about how it was going to make them look and the concerns it was going to raise among many Americans about the moral agenda of the Republican party.
And they ended up with mud all over themselves.
Unless I'm mistaken, ever since then, Bush's polls have been steadily dropping, and dropping, and dropping, and dropping. So I think I'm justified in saying that the right-wing being that wrong about Teri Schiavo is the moment that the slim majority of Americans who voted for George W. Bush woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
So, all of this occurred because reporters were sloppy, because they didn't do their work. I mean, that, in effect is the cover story, or that's what Robert Novak is insisting. And I have interviewed Geneva Overholser, for example, the former editor at The Des Moines Register, and she said some strong words about Novak, but what's interesting is because he's really at the core of a elite group, a cocktail party crowd or kind of celebrity journalism at CNN, nobody will come out and -- the Washington press corps is pretty much silent. The big wheels and big guns are not saying anything. They're not policing themselves. And this could have really deleterious and damaging long-term effects on journalism.
Could have? Excuse me, could have? What United States is he living in?
We don't have journalism in this country. We have Jon Stewart. And we have...well, we have Jon Stewart.
Me, I'm torn between the Vaginal Cleansing Film (although, I highly recommend you read Jessica's amusing entry about it) and the Child “Pimp” Costume as the most deeply disturbing examples of products that are just not right.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
An AP-Ipsos poll taken early this week showed public support of Bush's handling of the war had dropped to 38 percent, the lowest so far.
The AP-Ipsos poll found that only 38 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, the low point so far. A year ago, the public was evenly divided on Iraq, and confidence in Bush's stance on the war and terrorism helped him to election victory.
Bush has lost support most dramatically among younger women, especially those who live in the suburbs, and among men with a high school education or less, the poll indicated.
This is one of those evenings where news like this just makes me want to line up a group of the people who are only now starting to get this and slap them all hard against their stupid faces. Every one of them should be enlisting, right now, lining up to shed their blood for Bush's war.
ETA: Or, to put it another way...
So Ed Henry was going to ask Novak about his role in the Plame Scandal. Amazing, it only took CNN 25 months to ask him about it.
Original post: Somewhere, Jon Stewart's eyeballs are rolling back in his head with pleasure. That douchebag of liberty, syndicated columnist and spy-revealer Robert Novak just had what I believe is technically called "a shit fit" on CNN, tore off his mike and walked off a show.
Oh, yeah. Oh, boy. I think this is enough lead time for Stewart and his crack staff to have something on it by tonight, but if not, monday's show is gonna be golden. Seriously. Stewart must be kvelling so hard right now.
"...and talk about abortion? I feel like I'm losing some of you, and I want to win all of you back with this one. Let's talk about abortion. Let's talk about child-killing..."
-Bill Hicks, 1993
But seriously folks. Jessica, a blogger at BushvChoice, makes what I think is a good point:
[W]hat’s disturbing is that choice and abortion are being discussed—in blogs and in the media—more as a political tool than as an issue that affects women’s lives.
She recommends the ladies start taking control of more of the discussion, and lists some well-known progressive blogs as a place to start. Sounds like a plan to me.
Mr. Parker objected to this.
After meeting with school officials, Parker refused to leave unless they agreed to notify him in the future if similar material is again offered to his son. He was arrested and banned from school property.
Now, obviously I don't think much of a man who seemingly goes into conniption fits at the notion of his son being exposed to the idea that gay people exist. But that's not what's so stupid about this story.
I think a parent should have the right to dispute the books his or her child reads--though, if I were the child, as I got older I'd be more and more curious about what it was my elders didn't want me to know. But here's where it gets stupid and bizarre.
A right wing group has obtained what are apparently authentic e-mails between the parent and school. Pandagon has excerpts. Now, I'm assuming that almost all of you reading this share my scorn for homophobia and closed-mindedness, but for once, I'm asking you to put that out of your head.
Regardless of whether you agree with Mr. Parker's position or not, have you ever read a less coherent series of arguments in your life?
It is one thing to endorse to not persecute/harm homosexuals/lesbians, it is another to teach young children implicitly that these values are acceptable. Some may maintain that if they can not present homosexual situations in school--- this is a form of persecution and harm. To us- this is a very contrived argument. The real question is-do parents have the right to exclude/shield their children from these contrary values being pushed upon young children in elementary school.
Our parental rights and Christian belief system will be respected in this diversity- oriented, anti-biased school community.
This last, one, believe it or not, is from their lawyer, who presumably had to go to school:
the Parkers find it alarming that the definition of diversity does apparently not include people with views such as theirs. Moreover, although this town claims to be "no place for hate" there seems to be no shortage of hate for people who do not agree with the norms endorsed by segments of the populace.
To hell with offending me as a left-winger. This offends me as a writer. And that's when you're really in trouble.
As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the
probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler
approaches one. There is a tradition in many groups that,
once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned
the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in
For a fuller definition, see here.
I find that this law can be expanded beyond Usenet. Whenever I see or hear someone reaching for such a comparision in just about any context I almost always assume they know, deep down, that they're wrong.
Or at the very least, that I should treat anything and everything they say with great, great suspicion. Which brings me to this little item:
James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, compared embryonic stem cell research with Nazi experiments conducted on live human patients during and prior to the Holocaust.
It's a real simple rule. When someone reaches for the Nazi comparison, you know they have no really convincing argument.
Cornell University researcher Robb Willer used a survey to sample undergraduates. Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine....
But the guys' reactions were "strongly affected," Willer said today.
"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."
Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.
The women had no discernable reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey.
Turns out the Catholic Church is adamantly pro-birth control in one very special circumstance--when you're fucking the clergy and the church doesn't want to pay to support your child.
Look, my conservatarian friends,=: If you like tax cuts, union-bashing, loosening environtmental controls, right-wing Supreme Court justices, and the War in Iraq enough to make you willing to vote for a party dominated by people who prefer what they call "faith" and "values" to logic, science, and fact, then go ahead, hold your nose, and vote for them. The same is true if you simply loathe liberals and Democrats so much you simply need to vote for the other party.
But don't fool yourselves, and don't look surprised when it turns out that the party of the Christian Right is against evolution, stem cell research, and the morning-after contraceptive. That's who they are, and they've never pretended to be anything else.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
President Bush lamented the deaths of 14 Marines in Iraq Wednesday, calling the deadly attack a ''grim reminder'' America is still at war.
''These terrorists and insurgents will use brutal tactics because they're trying to shake the will of the United States of America. They want us to retreat,'' Bush told some 2,000 state lawmakers, business leaders and public policy experts gathered here.
Not the will of the United States of America, Georgie. Yours.
''Make no mistake about it,'' Bush said. ''We are at war.''
Enjoy your vacation, Georgie. Try not to think too hard about the men and women who are dying because of you--and no one else. When do you suppose the Republican party lost every last bit of shame?
He said the families of fallen troops can know that the United States government will ''honor their loved ones' sacrifice by completing the mission.''
I am fortunate enough not to have any loved ones who have served or are serving, much less any of the fallen. Knock wood. But if I had, I have to think those words would be cold comfort. What, you mean you're going to send even more troops to die FOR NOTHING? Woo!
Beyond just having found an easy way to post pictures, which I'm still tickled to death about. For one thing, I'm trying to stay away from the straight links and especially lists of links. What I used to call the "Recommended reading...about which I have no witty remark to make" entries on The Sound of the Crowd.
Now I'm trying to make it that I only link to something if I think I have actually got something to say about it. If it's witty, great. But I'm also trying to make the posts here a little more thoughtful and I hope, thought-provoking. If not scary as hell.
For this reason some of the entries have been getting a little longer, too, and I hope that's OK with y'all. Of course, some things will never change. Like the fact that if you don't get one of my headlines, Google-ing the phrase will usually find it's an obscure Soft Cell or Dean Martin lyric or something...
Hope you're all digging it.
"This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. No one else will know, so you won't be fooling anyone but yourself if you give anything but a truthful answer. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which will have to make a decision. Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous. Please read slowly and thoughtfully, giving due consideration to each.
Here's the situation:
You are in Florida; Miami, to be specific. There is chaos all around caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions. You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury. Suddenly you see a man floundering in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer...somehow the man looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is....It's George W. Bush, President of the United States!
At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him under... forever.You have two options-you can save the life of G.W.Bush, or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most powerful men.So here's the question, and please give an honest answer: would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?"
Well, the Democratic candidate lost, but by only a four-point margin. In Ohio. Some of the blogs are calling this remarkable. I don't know about any of that, but I do know that this is the face of the woman who won.
Ladies, this is what remaining in the Republican party can do. "I'll get you, my pretty...and you little war dissenters, too!"
For the love of god, think of this the next time you register your party affiliation. Thank you.
Bush goes on five-week vacation, longest presidential retreat in 36 years
Uh-huh. Say, anyone remember something that happened right around the last time Bush took a long vacation? Something the anniversary of which is almost exactly five weeks away?
My god. Now it's not only that he's a bad president. He's not even good at PR anymore.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
even though I believe passionately that men can and should teach women's studies courses, I also believe we must do so with a profound sense of humility. Ultimately, no matter how strongly we sympathize with our sisters, no matter how committed we are to women's liberation and equality, we can never claim to be equally affected by the issues we are discussing. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, I will have not suffered any loss to my personal autonomy. Regardless of whether or not I am pro-choice or pro-life, I am incapable of truly understanding -- on a visceral and emotional level -- what it means to live as a woman in a body that many believe ought to have its natural processes regulated by the state. That's not a personal failure on my part, and it's not something for which I feel compelled to apologize. But while men can be deeply interested in women's issues (I am) we cannot claim personal expertise in what it means to live as an embodied woman.
It must be obvious where I feel a twinge of recognition. I'm a male writer who likes writing women characters, and in the last year or two gay women characters. And so I have some expectation or fear that somebody, somewhere, sometime, is going to ask how I can be so immodest? How can I claim I can write about "The Woman's (Or Lesbian) Experience?"
Writing fiction about people different than you is different from teaching college courses about them, of course, and the artist does get some dispensation. But if someone asked me, my answer would be something along the lines that the Keitha and Annabel stories are not actually about The Lesbian Experience. They're about me. I'm writing about lesbians in order to listen to and speak through voices, or parts of myself, that are harder to deal with as "masculine."
But anyway, this Hugo makes some thought provoking and well-worth reading points.
Anyway, according to Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid, the reason for this isn't the aforementioned big weasel-ness of Carlson, or even that the country is finally starting to get sick of the conservative POV.
No, it's because of that mean old Media Matters having encouraged the show to be a little more "fair and balanced," and because--pause for gasps of horror--the show regularly features-- ---a short-haired lesbian as a guest.
I, for one, am appalled.
Monday, August 01, 2005
American Heritage says:
adj. Abbr. PC 1. Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. 2. Being or perceived as being overconcerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters.
The latest TV series to receive more attention than it may deserve even before it premieres is a Fox sitcom titled The War at Home, created and exec produced by a man named Rob Lotterstein, an openly gay man who has written in the past for Will & Grace and Ellen. According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer (via IMDB News),
Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori has ordered one line to be rewritten and is considering having another line changed...War [at Home] stars Michael Rapaport and Anita Barone as parents in constant battles with their three teenage children. A story line in the pilot revolves around whether one of their two sons (Kyle Sullivan) is gay.
In one scene, his sister (Kaylee DeFer) says to the parents, "He's not gay, he's just a fag." That line set off sparks with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which met with Fox officials. The line was changed.
Another line that might end up on the cutting room floor comes in a scene in which the mother remarks, "He's not gay. He's a normal kid. ... Well, he's not normal, but he's not gay."
Now, as most of you probably know, I tend to be a little more sensitive than most straight men to things that I think are offensive to gays. For a number of reasons, not least of which is that I have these couple of lesbians living in my head.
But...obviously I'll have to see the show to be sure of the full context, but as presented, those lines look funny to me. Sorry. This just looks like another case of TV people making cosmetic changes that don't adress real issues, and/or gay advocacy groups going after flies with pepperspray.
Poor GLAAD. They seem to have the worst sense of what to protest against. Between Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, this show, even Basic Instinct (arguably), they've really made themselves out to be examples of Political Correctness gone too far.
I don't like using that term much, but feel it's appropriate here. Or to put it another way, if GLAAD ever said anything about Sin City, or (god forbid) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I missed it.
"The press is a watchdog. Not an attack dog. Not a lapdog. A watchdog. Now, a watchdog can't be right all the time. He doesn't bark only when he sees or smells something that's dangerous. A good watchdog barks at things that are suspicious."
-Dan Rather in Esquire
"Look, when a President of the United States, any President, Republican or Democrat, says these are the facts, there is heavy prejudice, including my own, to give him the benefit of any doubt, and for that I do not apologize."
-Dan Rather in a panel discussion
"George Bush is the President, he makes the decisions and you know as just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where, and he’ll make the call..."
--Dan Rather on The Late Show with David Letterman
Dan? Shut up, go away, and leave us alone. You and the rest of the network news anchormen had a chance to be "watchdogs" when, as Eric Alterman wrote:
a President of the United States was able to mislead the people of the United States based on what, even then, were demonstrably false arguments.
But you thought it would be better for your ratings to cry crocodile tears and swear allegiance to George Bush. You abdicated the responsibility of the press to not give anyone the benefit of the doubt, no matter how powerful they are.
You are, finally, no better than John Kerry, and I don't know how much more damning I can be. Shut up. Go away. And leave us alone.