Monday, September 25, 2006

I Couldn't Make This Sh*t Up

I know the Learning Annex isn't exactly Harvard. Usually, it's a lot of classes like "How To Find The Next Hot Areas to Invest" and "Managing Income Property for Profit". There are always the vegetarian cooking classes (hooray!) and the "How To Start Your Own Business" classes too. I have even thought about taking a class on tarot card reading techniques or voice over pointers. I never thought I could get the tools I need to find and keep my man for only $99.95 though! My God, what a bargain!

What do you get for your money? Well, there are three classes designed to instruct poor, lonely women in the best man-finding methods. According to Maryanne, there are many things you need to know before you "drop your drawers". (yes, that's a direct quote.) First you have to Find The Man. They are so elusive aren't they? I can never find one when I need one either. Apparently this involves "creating a powerful vortex for attracting your ideal partnership. Presto! You're entering into the realm of becoming a divine man magnet." Vortex? I'm already worried. I get motion sick so easily.

Then, you have to "Get The Man." Now, if just the thought of speaking to a guy at the grocery store makes your palms sweat, Maryanne has the solution. "Practice, practice, practice 'til you feel like a pro, getting ready for the real-time interviews with men, men and more men!" I know a date is like an interview, but this sounds so...I don't know...fake. I have visions of women role-playing bumping into guys at the mailbox. First you say "hello" and smile. Be sure to make eye contact etc. Blech.

Now, once you have managed to get the guy interested, you have to trap him into a long term relationship and (hopefully!) marriage. "Now that I've found him, how do I make him stay?" If you have to make him do anything, then perhaps we should take a look at your relationship from the beginning. Oh wait, you attracted this guy using manipulative techniques you learned at a Learning Annex class. I forgot. Carry on.

"What you need to know before you drop your drawers counts here the most! This
is the biggest secret of all, and Maryanne Comatoro has the answer to this
billion dollar question! You want to get married or at least have a commitment?
Of course you do! She will show you how. You'll plan top to bottom, the wedding
of your dreams - a ceremony you'll never forget. This is the fun part, and the
most necessary step of all in creating that lasting commitment you have always
wanted - and Maryanne will even introduce you to your beloved! You'll write your
vows and set a date for your Sacred Commitment Ceremony, It's physics, ladies
-it is simply the law of attraction. She will teach you how creating and
cultivating a sustainable climate for a lasting, fulfilling relationship is as
easy as marrying yourself!"

Well, I don't know about you, but that last part is just confusing. Does she mean that by planning my wedding and setting a date, I will ensure that I will meet the perfect man and get married? Am I supposed to walk down the aisle by myself for fun? How does the guest list work for that kind of thing? Do I only have to order half the food and flowers since there is no groom yet? Do I still get to do a registry? And who exactly is she introducing me to?

This all kind of reminds me of those awful quizzes in Cosmo or the articles that promise to tell you the secrets to getting the guy. It's like a real live interactive glossy women's magazine circa 1955. Who needs Glamor, now you can just go to the Learning Annex! I don't know what bugs me more, the assumption that we all need a man to feel like a complete and whole person or the pseudo new-age jargon used to pitch the class. As if all you need to do to attain the lofty heights of "married gal" is to find your inner self. Ugh.

I didn't need any fancy class to get me a man. I just bumped into him on the street one day. He was good at giving shoulder rubs, playing guitar and I just generally liked the look of him. How have I kept him? Well, I used to keep him chained to the radiator, but now I allow him out on his own as long as he wears his radio collar.
That will be $100, please.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On This Day In 1973

This is one of those events that make me wish Dr. Scott really had created a time machine out of a Delorean car. (sigh) Oh, to travel back to the Astrodome in '73 and see this event for myself.
On Sept 20th, 1973 Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in a tennis match that came to be known as the quintessential battle of the sexes. I don't know enough about tennis to understand the (what seems to me) rather complicated scoring, but it was a "best three out of five" situation. Billie Jean King slaughtered the guy in the first three sets and it was all over.

The New York Times article from that day is HERE.

I get all proud and teary-eyed just reading about it. I can't imagine how amazing this must have been for women who actually got to watch it on TV or in person. I would have been terrified that she might lose and still excited about what it would mean if she won. Can you imagine what it must have felt like on Sept 21, 1973? Did Billie Jean's accomplishment make other women feel proud that morning and hopeful about our futures? It was such a media circus at the time. Did people understand how important this was, or did it just seem like another publicity stunt?

By 1973 women had been able to make some progress within the feminist movement, but it was all still so new. The Title IX law had just been passed in 1972. Title IX was the law that prohibited sex discrimination in sports for any federally funded programs, mostly public schools. This is the law that allowed girls to get a chance to play basketball, soccer, be on the swim team etc. Other laws had been passed that prohibited sex discrimination in job hiring, sex discrimination while on the job and also against women with pre-school age children. We had accomplished a lot, but there was still so much to do. Hey, we're still working on that whole "equal pay for equal work" thing.

And so was Bille Jean. She started the Women's Tennis Association and the first thing on her list was the gap between what male athletes earned in prize money and what women earned. Here's what Larry Schwartz wrote about it for ESPN.

from Billie Jean
Won For All Women

"In those days, women players received much less money than men earned.
King's voice was heard loudest in the quest for equality. When a new women's
tour was started, with Philip Morris sponsoring a new brand of cigarette, King
was perceived as a "radical" heading a breakaway group. The Virginia Slims Tour
was marketed with the slogan "You've Come a Long Way, Baby."

She convinced her colleagues to form a players' union, and the Women's
Tennis Association was born. King was its first president in 1973. King, who
received $15,000 less than Ilie Nastase did for winning the U.S. Open in 1972,
said if the prize money wasn't equal by the next year, she wouldn't play, and
she didn't think the other women would either. In 1973, the U.S. Open became the
first major tournament to offer equal prize money for men and women."

Even though I was never a big athlete myself, I still get excited about the implications of Title IX and Billie Jean King's winning tennis match. These things happened before I was even born and they made the world a little better for me and my girl friends. It meant that a girl could pursue her talents even if those talents have more to do with hitting a ball than sewing (not that there's anything wrong with sewing!). It meant that a girl could have more choices and experiences in her life than what was traditionally offered. If we could get girls on the basketball team, what else might we accomplish?

So, when Billie Jean King beat the crap out of that loud mouth, blustering, nasty little man, I imagine it felt pretty good. I imagine a lot of women jumped up off their couches and cheered. And for a moment, they got to feel like there was a place for them in this sometimes hostile, usually male-dominated little world. How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ahoy, me beauties!

Just a friendly reminder that today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Oh yes. It's true.

So....Arrrrr! If yer wantin' to know the history of this day, ye must click

And if yer wantin' to learn some useful pirate-ese, click

And here'e some pictures of me favorite pirates for yer enjoyment, me hearties! Arrrr.

Ahoy, ye crafty wenches*! Now we can KNIT like a pirate too.

* The term "wench" is not considered offensive ONLY on International Talk Like A Pirate Day and on trips to the Renaissance Faire while in costume. (see below)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fun With iTunes

So, I have this iPod...

It's an older model, but I think it's cool. It holds more music than I could ever listen to. I have discovered pod casts because of this thing too. I'm thinking that I'm going to have to take a cross country trip just so I can listen to all the music and pod casts I now have. (I can play stuff through my speakers in my car.)

This little iPod thingy has introduced me to a whole new world of downloading (legally!) new music that I might not have listened to before. It's terribly addictive. Rather like heroine. Not that I would know or anything, get the idea.

I have learned something about myself that I never thought would have been true of me. I never in a million years would have thought this, but I think it's time to come clean and admit it. Ok. Here goes.

I like country music.

There, I said it. Not ALL country music mind you. I'm still not down with that twangy stand-by-your-man nonsense. But there are a few out and out country artists whose music I have happily purchased. Like a dieter gleefully buying a Three Musketeers bar and hording it away in a dark corner, I have country music files secretly tucked away on my iPod. They're mixed in with the Ani DiFranco, David Bowie and Indigo Girls. It's true.

My two favorites these days are
Gretchen Wilson and Trish Murphy.

Gretchen has two songs on her latest album, All Jacked Up, that I have been known to sing along with, erm..with great gusto while drivin' down the road. The first one, California Girls is one of my favorites. Check out these lyrics,

"Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls
Ain't you glad there's still a few of us left.
That know how to rock your world
Ain't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle
Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls.

There ain't nothing wrong with plastic surgery
Well Dolly Parton never looked so good to me
Everybody ought to be exactly who they want to be
But that Paris Hilton Gets under my skin
With her big fake smile and and her painted on tan..."

I admit, I have never listened to an entire Merle Haggard record and I would be eatin' fried tofu rather than chicken, but this is the kind of tune that makes me proud to have curves. Especially in this town. Then there's Full Time Job, a relaxing little number about how easy it is to be a mom.

"It's the hardest gig I've known,
I work my fingers to the bone
Yeah, the dishes and the diapers never stop
Lousy pay, there ain't no 401k
I know this may come as a shock.
But this here's a full time job

Well I'm takin' a vacation
I could use a little fun
I'll be sippin' on the silence
And soaking up the sun
I'm leavin' you my apron
You can try it on for size
You said there's nothing to it
So I'm sure you'll be fine."

Trish Murphy is a singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas that I think I found on a compilation list from Lilith Fair. She has this one song called Thelma and Louise that's kind of in the same spirit as the Dixie Chick's song Goodbye, Earle. It's about two girlfriends hittin' the road after their marriages disintegrate into an angry pile of divorce papers and abuse.

"I should have run away I said, but I just didn't care.
You get so used to feelin' fear that you don't know it's there.
You holy rollers don't know jack about domestic strife
Until you seen my daddy lit up, beatin' on his wife.
I clocked him with a skillet, grabbed Momma and the keys
And we floored it on the interstate
Like Thelma and Louise."

You can listen to a 60 second clip of the song HERE

I always like an artist who writes their own music as these two ladies both do. I guess what I really get a kick out of is their outspokenness and spunk. How refreshing to hear a song making fun of the Hollywood ideal of super-thinness or the double standard of mothers working all day for no pay. Trish has this great honesty to her voice. I feel like she's telling me a story that she thinks I really ought to hear.

If this kind of thing keeps going on, I may have to buy a pair of cowboy boots and learn how to line dance.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How to Leave a Comment

Ok, I've been getting lots of complaints from folks who say they can't leave a comment on my blog here since I switched to Blogger Beta. I hear that the good folks at Blogger are working on this but in the meantime:

When you write a comment DON'T click on your Blogger name below the comment box.

DO click on Anon or Other

If you do Other you can type in your blogger name and then put a link to your blog if you want to.

I hope that helps.

P.S. Of course, you could switch over to the new Blogger Beta and enjoy all the new goodies they have put together. C' know you want to.
Ah, peer pressure. :)

Farewell, Ann

Sad news today. Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas and all around amazing gal has passed away. She died of esophageal cancer last night at her family home. She was 73.

Ann was one hell of an feisty woman. For one thing, she was an outspoken politician in a state that doesn't exactly have a history of equal rights. When I think of Texas the first thing that comes to mind is the phrase "good ole' boys club." Ann Richards blew the doors off that club when she won the gubernatorial election against Clayton "Claytie" Williams in 1990. Mr. Williams, by the way, was once quoted comparing rape to the weather saying, "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." Nice, huh?

While in office Ann Richards appointed more women, black and Hispanic representatives to state government than any other governor before her. According to KWTX-TV she appointed "the first black University of Texas regent; the first crime victim to join the state Criminal Justice Board; the first disabled person to serve on the human services board; and the first teacher to lead the State Board of Education." A teacher on the State Board of Education? A crime victim on the Criminal Justice Board? Imagine! Kind of scary when you get somebody in office who uses plain old common sense for a change.

Richards often used humor to get her political ideas across to a possibly hostile audience. Here's a few of my favorite quotes:

"Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in
his mouth" - referring to George H.W. Bush during the key note address at the
1988 Democratic National Convention.

"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean
house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government
to everyone.' "

Encouraging other women to get into politics - "Let me tell you,
sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is a lot dirtier than
anything I've had to deal with in politics." Yeah...I usually just throw that
plate away.

"Ginger Rodgers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did
it backwards and in heels." Yeah, she's the one who said that!

She really did so much. There is just too much to list without missing something else phenomenal that this lady did. She lobbied corporations like Apple and Southwestern Bell to move to Texas. She fought with the state financial board to get rich school districts to play nice and share some cash with poorer ones (the poor kids want books!?) and tried to get the "abstinence only" policy changed for the sex education programs in public schools. She was a busy lady and an inspiration.

Her most lasting legacy may turn out to be the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, which is planning on opening it's doors to 6th and 7th graders in 2007. The school will be a college preparatory school for grades 6 through 12. The first graduating class will be in 2013.

Ann Richards was one of a kind. Hopefully she will also be the inspiration for another generation of outspoken leaders.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Angry Dilbert?

What is up with Dilbert this week? Did Scott Adams break up with his girlfriend? Maybe he was just bloated and cranky the day he drew these. (ah-hem) Where does this sudden hostility towards women at the office come from?

click to enlarge

Ok, the first one from Saturday Sept. 9th is kind of funny. The observation that guys just wear whatever is up next in the laundry rotation while we have to run around matching shoes to handbags is funny 'cause it's true. I even get a bit of a nasty chuckle at the idea of the co-worker in question beating the crap out of poor little Dilbert for pointing out this gulf between men's and women's fashion obligations. I know I recently spent about a week's worth of lunch hours trying to find a pair of shoes for a pink bride's maid dress that, let's face it, nobody ever really saw. The guys? They rented tuxes and bought a pair of black shoes the day before the wedding. Bastards. Still, is society's demand that women's appearances are so much more critical then men's "nonsense". Hmmm....

click to enlarge

But the Sunday strip really irked me. "Success is the happy feeling you get between the time you do something and the time you tell a woman what you did." WTF?! To begin with Dilbert doesn't even know who he spoke with on the conference call (was it Bill, or Bob or...uhm....?) because he didn't bother to confirm the information. Sounds like the typical move of an incompetent mid-level employee of a soulless corporation to me.

So, when his female coworker points out that not only doesn't he know who to follow up with, but he doesn't know enough about his team members to know who not to give the job to, he gets all huffy. If this is like any of the office jobs I've had, chances are she's the one whose going to have to clean up the mess that he just created with his stupid delegation choice anyway. Of course, she's also only making 70 cents to the dollar that he is. Unless she's a single mom, then she's probably making 56 to 66 cents to his dollar. And who the heck does he have to support? Catbert?!

Seems to me his time would be better spent finding out who works in his office than bitching about his female coworkers to a dog employed at the Human Resources department. Doesn't he know that you never complain to HR about your fellow employees unless you have a resignation letter typed and a new job lined up? Has he learned nothing in his years at this comic strip? (sigh)

And what's up with that tie?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fragile: Handle With Care

I can't believe I'm at work today. All I want to do is go home and watch the news channels and old video tapes. I want to look at every picture I can, read every word written about it. I feel like if I could just absorb everything there is to absorb, then maybe it would make some sense. Maybe I could understand what happened to me on September 11th, 2001.

I live in Los Angeles now, a world away from Wall St. and Broadway and Ground Zero. It's all so far away here. How can people understand what 9/11 was here among the palm trees and movie stars? I know that everyone felt horrible and scared when they saw it on television, but does it mean the same thing when you've never eaten lunch by the fountain in the huge courtyard between the towers, if you've never gone up to Window On The Worlds just to see what it feels like to be that high up? I don't know.

I wish I could wear a big sign that says "Handle With Care". I wish I could make people understand how much I still hurt today.

I know I'm lucky. I didn't die on 9/11. Nobody I worked with died. I escaped relatively unhurt. Banged up a bit, smothered in dust and debris, but still not least not on the outside. And that's the thing about it. Since I don't look messed up on the outside, who's to know how much I'm bleeding on the inside? I don't even know. I thought I was doing pretty well, actually. This year has been really tough, though. I guess I thought I was more healed than I am. It still feels so raw. To me 9/11 was yesterday...and it was a hundred years ago.

And I really miss being a part of New York City. I miss riding the subway and walking through the Upper West Side to Central Park. I miss the grit and the realness of life there. I miss the people. It's like missing a lover or a dear friend. It's a physical feeling. But I lived in NYC from 1995 to 2002. My New York is mostly a pre-9/11 New York. My memories are from a city that doesn't really exist anymore and maybe that's why I grieve so deeply.

I wrote about that day at the September 11 Digital Archive. You can read it here if you want to. I don't think I'm up for writing about it all over again today...although I probably should.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Gotta Help the Critters

So, I'm doing something that I've not done since....oh, high school.

I think it's kind of a big deal.

I hope you'll think so too...

I'm doing the Walk For Farm Animals to benefit Farm Sanctuary.

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Farm Sanctuary is an organization that works to rescue animals from factory farms and raise awareness to help the millions of animals being hurt and killed on these farms every year. They have two rescue farms that you can just go and visit! How cool is that? One in northern California and the other in upstate New York. I would love to go and visit or, even better - volunteer, but it's just too far for me right now, so I'm doing this walk to raise money for them.

Why am I posting this on my blog that is supposed to be about feminist stuff? Well, the part of me that believes that women have rights (shocking, I know) is the same part that believes animals have rights too. I wrote about it here as well. I would like to live in a world where ALL living creatures are respected and treated with the dignity they deserve. To me factory farming is a symptom of the same societal disease that oppresses women or destroys our environment. It's all tied together.

This organization is just amazing too. I feel good about asking folks to support them. Honestly, I can't read more than a page or two of their rescue stories at a time without tearing up. Their story about Hilda, the first animal they rescued is both heart breaking and inspiring. She was a "downed" sheep they found left to die in a stockyard. One of the things that I just don't get about farm animals and people is the way we compartmentalize their suffering. I mean, we would be beyond outraged if we saw a dog or cat or horse being treated the way factory farm animals are treated every day. If a horse were left to die because it had been so abused and neglected that it could not stand up, we would call the SPCA, rush the animal to a vet and prosecute the owner for abuse. Not so if the animals is a sheep or cow.

So, if you have a few dollars you could spare, I think the animals would be really grateful for your help. You can go to my giving page here:

Michelle's Farm Sanctuary Giving Page

The site is totally safe and uses VeriSign technology to protect all your information.

Thank you for reading all of this. I hope we can all do a little bit to help these animals have better lives.

Nicodemus is helping me with the paperwork for the walk!

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He says he will be sitting in vigil at the window until the farm animals are as happy and healthy as he is.
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He will, however, be taking a break to play with his 100% vegan mousie every now and then! (his mommy likes to knit)
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