it's my party, and-i-will-indulge-in-shameless-self-promotion-of-my-birthday if i want to

it's only 10:45 am, and there have been multiple highlights to this day of me already. these include (but are not limited to)

--being paid court to in one's bed, and receiving bounteous gifts from my (lovely) old man, boy, and family. items included jewellry, crabtree and evelyn loot, kickass red shirt, and sarah vowell's assassination vacation. and yes, i did already get a sewing machine. and yes, i am one spoilt b'yatch.

(note to self, your mum always puts in something for grandson in every package that she sends. she is a good nanna like that. and that said something is always, without exception, delicious english chocolate directly from one's childhood--chocolate buttons, smarties, milky bars, and curly wurlys...--remember to place this package discreetly to one side before letting son rip into it at 6:30am and demand to eat it).

because a) the whole sugar on an empty stomach thing induces the crazy eyes and b) if he sees the loot with his own eyes first, this precludes mummy and daddy from digging into that stash in the interest of "he's had enough sugar today..."

--being a complete bad-ass mother' who, upon chauffeuring boyo to preschool, lets the car-bass reverberate to teeth-jangling levels to gorrillaz' "kids with guns." (another delightful gift).

--being sent an animated greetings card by one's coworkers with an rotund cartoon-man cavorting naked around the screen, emitting noxious fumes, and with the tag line "Curry Fart?" (this being an invitation to have indian food at lunch time).

--receiving the below birthday card from one's mummy and daddy... (in a gesture quite unlike them, and so appreciated all the more for it).

NOTE: before posting this image, i had some inner wrangling over how this might blow the "anonymity" thing. and then i snorted out loud because there is no way in freaking hell anyone would recognize me from this...

a) i now have something on my face that is called flesh

b) the angularity of the 16 yr old me, is utterly, utterly, gone... (sniff? nah!)

c) i no longer sport the ubiquitous 1980s bleached out home perm of which i was so fond (folks, that hair had been permed, blow dried, moussed, and hot-iron tonged. all before school).

[update: also, as i ponder this pic, i am struck by how goddamn conservative i was. (it *was* a school photo, btw). wassupwidat? i know there was a flat-top period in there somewhere, dammit. and then, of course, there are the false-eyelash wearing college years, where the truly whorish "90's-maddona-"i'm, like, in charge of my sexuality"-feminism" (please don't judge me) came in to being... ]

--still to come. an evening of close friends, booze, and fried chicken/cheese/potatoes/ice cream. whatever the hell we can get our hands on... nice!

What's wrong with this picture...?

or should i say,

"rhat's wrong wid dis pictsha, rhaggy?"

(you should have been here when i tried to vocally intonate how scooby would say that so i could type it out right)


and speaking of wanting to punch the lights out of the t.v....

so it seems that my ire over the "o" lady and the yoplait chicks brought forth a rash of "me effing too" feelings on the part of my readers.

real women getting pissed off over the representations of real women. what a shocker.

so. here is another version of sassy domestic womanhood that makes me want to do an elvis on the telly. that fricking woman from the new Wendy's commercial (which utterly corrupts my Lost viewing. bastards).

yes, that's what makes me want to chow down a wendy's salad. witnessing a woman having what looks dangerously near to a psychotic breakdown 'food-network's-next-star' style over the assembling of a delicious salad. because we all know only women eat green vegetables, right? and that to show a man pulling that shit, or (god forbid) munching arugala and mandarins with visible pleasure --well, his very sexuality would come into question.

"only men can be shown to have real appetites on the mainstream media, whereas when women eat, it is represented in forbidden/eroticized/psychotic terms. discuss."

here endeth my rant about the gendered ideology of hunger...
you're welcome.


sharp chicks with pointy sticks

flashback to email conversation among my Stitch n' Bitch lovies the other week. said conversation occurs after monthly SnB drinkfest knitting session the night before...

jen: "uhm, is it just me or did i agree to run in a race last night???"

yes jennifer. there is a charity race with your name on it. and somehow we pretty much all managed to say "i'm in." was it the vast quantity of cheap plonk we were drinking, or was it an act of pure selflessness on all our parts? i like to think it was both. dammit.

while i (and jen) can partake of the saturday morning "cardio buffet" at the local Y (9 freaking AM, i'll have you know) with the best of 'em now (thank you very much), running a race. well that's a different matter. for those of us who "don't do running" and do not like bouncing overly much, this requires added incentive.

it requires accessories...

and the unbelievably creative jen has delivered on this front, in the form of fabulous t-shirt that our SnB team will be sporting for the event. and here you see it. the fabulous logo that will adorn our heathered, pink, ringer tees. (heh heh, i said "ringer"). this, of course, gives me complete license to walk, not run, because who wants to sweat all over this glorious creation? huh? huh?

no more pfaffin around...

so, yesterday after work i hopped into the car and drove over to a store that has both "country" and "stitches" in its name. and i bought a fucking sewing machine. that's right....

my bloggy friends urged me to go for the jewellry/clothing/spa day, etc. and then i realized (kind of sheepishly) that i had actually already ordered myself a rather posh necklace from lia sophia at a jewellry party a week or two ago in the name of "it's my birthday soon." because, of course, i purchase nothing for myself unless it's a special occasion (HA!). (and let me tell you, lia sophia is the mother-lovin' devil)

so anyway, i walked into the store and was dealt with by the rather brusque "pam," who herself modelled a pink sweatshirt with hand-appliqued gingham hearts (delightful). she informed me that if i was looking for a machine that could stitch through 7 layers of fabric (uh, no) then i needed one of these here "vikings."

"i got three of 'em at home," pam croaked.

mine, for 10 monthly installments of $143.00 PER MONTH. (sweet jesus. do people really go into debt for these things???)

"uhm, i really only want to stitch some pillows, and maybe curtains...and stuff.."
"do you quilt??"
"not really" (as in, not-fucking-at-all, and nor will i ever. will i????)

with some eye-rolling on pam's part, i was veered to a much more appropriate model for someone of my retardation skill-set. and ended up getting a rather good deal (i bloody hope) on a Pfaff machine that faggots and everything...

so, yes, i got me a machine. and i should thank my SnB cohort, ann, for handholding me enough through the process so i did not make a massive gaff. poor wench. she thinks she only gave me purchasing advice, but little does she know she needs to show me how to faggot now.

(and yes, i am indeed overly enamored with the term "faggot" still not having the foggiest over what it means).

will i become one of those crafty bloggers who posts pictures of her stitched creations for all the world to see? you bet your frigging ass i will...

i declare, that i am about to start to sew nostalgia. (shuddup...)

so fellow crafty bitches. dooo send me your links to all the best sewing sites/blogs. pretty please.


update on shoe situation (because you are so dying to know)

upon schlepping down the corridor towards man-colleagues in sneakered feet, aprox 1 hour ago... (note, man-colleagues have no clue about this here blog, or my latest quandary. so this is just weird. oh, and they are not even remotely metrosexual, so whats the deal with this?):

  • man-colleague 1: "wow, you look all secretary-esque in your sneakers and trench"
  • me: "HA ha ha ha HA ha"
  • man-colleague 2 (just joins group, does not hear first comment): "joy, what's with the secretary-esque look?"
  • me: "HA haha Ha ha ha ha"(mental note: you are soo getting blogged, mein comrades)
  • man-colleague 1: alls you need is a pair of little socks with pom-poms on the back...
  • me: "Ha hahaha HAHAHAHA. you guys.... oh, really. HA HAHAHAHaahahaha."

an alarming detail...

today i am wearing a pair of "lady shoes" to work. they are kickin'--in a mary jane, suede, high-heeled, embroidered kind of way. they are also reasonably comfortable. i say reasonably. i can strut around the office and say "i am a lady, and these are my lady things" like no one's business. (scroll down and watch the vid. it's ace).

in ten minutes time, i will be walking over for a lunch meeting. about 1/2 mile. with male colleagues with long legs. i am considering donning a pair of white "sneakers," i just so happen to have here in my office. so, what am i? a fashionista (HA!) or a panty-hosed, skirt, and lunchtime-walking, sneaker-wearing, office-type who appreciates sports-executive clothing lines? or am i really a "comfortable shoe" wearer, and need to face up to my authentic self?

post to come in which i consider not only how i am slowly but surely becoming yanky-doodlefied, but also how i am becoming an archtypal midwesterner (and i say this with love.) let me just say this. said post will involve discussion of canned cheese product and its evolving role in my life...

p.s. comfortable shoes does not = american. pantyhose, skirt, and nikes. i'm afraid so... (but one day, remind me to tell you about the british toddler underwear my mother sent recently--really quite horrifying, and another point where i fully embrace my new american ways).

It's All About The "Ewwww"

is it just me, or is anyone else completely creeped out by this chick? especially when she says "and sometimes... it's all about the gooold" (cut to me, climbing the walls)
but nothing, nothing makes me want to punch the t.v. more than those freakin' yoplait girls with their "this is day at the spa good" or "this is secret admirer good.." how about "this is finally took a dump good?
and so endeth this crappy, somewhat dated, and needlessly vulgar post...


Indecision 1971-2006

so, i consider myself a forthright, seize-the-day, let's-get-this-show-on-the-road-NOW kinda girl. i believe those who know me would say that i have a tendency, for better or for worse, to barrel forth with certain decisions regardless: move to america to a place i pronounced miTchigan??? never been, but get me on that plane, baby! make a decision to take up the best part of a decade of my life on a doctorate??? bring it ON!

let's get married, let's get a new car, let's have a baby, let's buy a house, like, NOW!!!!

big decisions, i seem to handle ok (for the most part). but when it comes to decisions about the relative minutae of life, and specifically the purchase of the relative minutae of life, i disintegrate into this person of immobile inaction the likes of which you may never have seen. my husband refers to solo expeditions to the grocery store as a trip to "joyland." i can stand in an aisle and stare intently, jaw-agape, at two different brands of whole wheat pasta or oatmeal for disturbing periods of time. i will examine the price, (do i have a coupon? when do i ever have a coupon?) what's the fiber, protein, sugar, content? (hmm, this one has 2 grams of fiber per serving, but this one has 3. hmmmm). and i reserve this behavior for batteries, cottage cheese, yoghurt, and don't even get me started on birthday cards. can't find joy? send in the search parties, and check the card aisle first. (ah, there she is, slackjawed, with spongebob card in one sweaty hand, and elmo in the other. she is muttering, and jerking erratically, so approach with caution...)

i remember when i was a small kid, there was a sweet-shop on the corner of my street. one of the big treats in my week would be to go to the shop (on my own) to get my mother a pack of fags ("twenty number six, pleeease. s'for my mummy) and to spend the 10 pence i would be paid for the job. this was one of the old school sweet shops that had a whole array of penny sweets in the front counter (and some of these sweets were actually 1/2 p). gummy false teeth, asteroids, cola bottles, milk bottles, sherbet sachets, bazooka gum, licorice pipes, and (how fitting) packs of sugar cigarettes. i remember being absolutely mortified, when the man behind the counter having had it with my internal agonizing over "weeeell, if i get this gobstopper, it lasts longer, but i can get two fizzy worms for a penny" finally snapped and said "'ERE! take 'em ALL, why doncha??"

fast forward a couple of decades, and picture me on a beach in mexico, pouring over the handmade and ridiculously cheap jewelry an old woman and her grand-daughter are selling to the tourists. "hmmm. this white one is soo pretty, but i don't have much of a tan yet and i am sooo pale; on the other hand, i have sooo much turquoise stuff. hmmm... hmmmm.." picture same old woman getting increasingly twitchy, and my dear friend rescuing her and saying "for chrissakes, buy 'em both. i'll buy them for you" as she snatches them out of my hand and presses notes into the poor old gal's hands. and let me say, this is not about the money. it's about having to choose. (and i do wear them both, thanks very much)

so, anyway. this brings me to my point. my husband has, for about the 50th time, said "so what DO you want for your birthday??" he knows, you see, that i think i want a sewing machine. but i am not a hundred percent sure yet.... part of this indecision stems, no doubt, from mild sense of internal horror that i would ever be actually asking for one of these contraptions. (if you remember about a month ago, i linked such desire to the indisputable fact that i am becoming my mother). but the indecision also stems from a complete lack of knowledge over what to buy. should i go relatively inexpensive ($130 or so) and get a simple machine, or is this a tremendous gaff? akin to buying a laptop without wireless or a CD player with no MP3 capacity? should i go more expensive and more bells and whistles? button-holes, and fagotting, whatever the fag fagotting is. if so, should i go second hand? and if i get this machine, does it mean i don't get to have this??? coz i really, really want it.

advise me, crafty friends, for i am lost wandering the symbolic aisles of my sad-sack indecision. tell me what to do, i beg you!

ok, i am now off to purchase about $100,000 of digital equipment for my research center's audio-visual lab. see if you can help me with the sewing machine thing will you?? (pur-lease).

not my precious TARGET.... noooooooo!

dear target,
along with many other likeminded women of my generation, i am a complete and utter devotee of you (we loved you so much, we even renamed you continental style--taj-ey). indeed, a couple of weeks ago, when weaker vessel waxed lyrical about her devotion to you, i commented in kind, and as a result we instantly bonded...

this speaks to your powerful and seemingly benevolent spirit. you had the capacity to bring women together. where else could i plonk tide into my cart one minute, and lovingly handle asian-themed home accessories and burnished, metalized handbags the next?

mall-deprived, where else could us working mothers who live in middletown, U.S. of A (and, i am sure, even harder-worked SAHMS) get in a bit of a fashion fix while at the same time performing our domestic duties for the sake of the family? where else can i buy fitted cotton tees, long enough to actually cover my gut, for $7.99? you gave me this, target. and so much more.

and that is what makes this all the more painful, for now, dear target, it seems you and i must part our ways (and when i say this guts me, i am not exagerrating in the slightest...)


As planned parenthood as put it:

"If Kmart, CVS, Costco and other chains can find a way to accommodate
employees while still ensuring that patients receive timely, on-site access to
their prescription medication, why can't Target?"

it's a sad, sad day. i know. but fellow target-devotees. if you remotely care about issues of reproductive freedom, then please join me and others in abstaining from the target fix until they get a fucking clue.... between us, we might just make a difference.

even better, write them a letter in protest (i plan to) feel free to pillage my friend jill's:

Robert J. Ulrich
CEO Target Corporation
1000 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Dear Mr. Ulrich:

Due to the fact that I am angry about Target's policy on pharmacyrefusal and emergency contraception, I have closed my Target Visaaccount, and I will no longer shop in your stores.I am upset and betrayed by a company that I have admired andfrequented for years. In fact, I used to hold Target up as a decent(or, at least, apolitical) alternative to such corporations asWal-Mart. I bought completely into your expect more, pay lessphilosophy: "Expect more of everything: More great design, morechoices, more convenience, more service and more clothes, housewaresand designer-created items that you'll never find anywhere else. Andpay less."I expected more, and now I see that, really, there is no difference.I will not return to Target until your policy on emergencycontraception changes. Pharmacists should never be permitted torefuse any legally prescribed medication to their customers.By the way, this is the first letter of protest that I have everwritten to a corporation--and, with the exception of the computeritself, everything I used to compose and send this message waspurchased at Target.This situation makes me profoundly unhappy because I am giving up aweekly shopping chore that I actually used to enjoy.Sincerely,


i return, and i got nothin' (much)

so, just had a great trip to chicago, where i went to this conference and among other things, attended a panel where this woman was presenting on blogs (and specifically the use of blogs for academic peer-to-peer review). it's slightly shameful for someone in my field to say this, but i had actually never come across this blog before, even though her work overlaps a lot with mine, and even though she's a blogger. so, i come back here to my computer, and check out her site.

i think that image she has on the front has to be one of the most disarming ones i have ever seen. let me tell you, the chick looks like the woman who gave the talk. (initial interior monologue: what's the deal with the image? it's ironic, right? right? right?).i am a little knackered, ok?

i think it's pure fucking genius, actually. it reminds me of sarah vowell's short story from this american life (search "American Goth") where she goes underground and becomes a goth. one part of her immersion involves her final selection of a goth name. she chooses "becky" and inspires awe amongst her goth peers, for the name is so anti-goth, it is goth... that's how this image works (don't ask me to explain it any more than that. i'm shit-for brains)

there was also some discussion about academic blogging and whether it should count as publication (towards tenure). one woman said she recently chaired a job search committee where a candidate declared herself as "Bitch PhD." wow... (i wanted to go up and shake her and say "SO did you HIRE her??? did anyone have a problem with the blog???) it got me thinking about my pseudononymous ways, and also how potentially dangerous it can be for academics to "come out" online. when i started this whole thing, i completely intended to publish my real name, and then a close friend commented on how her school Dean googles candidates when they come for on-campus interviews. yikes... i might be able to get the search committee to chortle along to posts about willies and zits, and look with benign amusement at the memes, but... do i want the Dean to read "100 things about me.." and so forth? or maybe i am just overthinking it all, and the notion of blogging being academically dangerous is just overblown bullshit.

i am not really going anywhere with this, and i realize that mine is not an academic blog really--save for a few moments where i need to wax lyrical about something theoretical from time to time, but for the most part this is a space for me to tell stories about the banal yet (what i find) hilarious details of life.

so--what do you all think? if you've opted to stay anonymous is it only about protecting one's career? what other benefits (or drawbacks) are there to having a "personae" you have created (or do you even think about it in these terms?).


"Don't Be a 'Fraid-Cat, Mother. There's No Danger"

"Life is so much more fun when one is not afraid. It is her happy
courage—the zest with which she welcomes every new delightful freedom—which is
the charm of the modern girl. What mother can bear to stay in the drab
shadows of middle life when such a daughter beckons back to

Youth—which will not tolerate senseless drudgery, the
slavery of old-fashioned ways.

It is to this demand of youth for the best
that Modess owes its remarkable

Manifesto for these new-found liberated 1920a gals to take up flying?

Think, instead, of wings with a "dry weave top sheet" and you'll be a little closer...

I am going to be offline for a few days, m'ladies (and lads). A-conferencing I will go. In my absense, i bring to you...

****Antique Feminine Protection Ads!****

I don't know about you, I simply can't get enough of 'em. And Duke's Ad Access has a whole plethora of ads for sanny towels, (no tampons, you sluts) deodorant, airlines, rouge... You name it. (a one-stop shop for all your feminist cultural studies needs)

See you in a few!

memes. i love 'em. so shuddup...

[insert obligatory "weeellll, i don't normally do memes, blah blah blah. BUT." here.]

writer of blog (with-possibly-the-cleverest-blog-name-for-feminist-creative-chick-evah) weaker vessel, tagged me for this one.
it is an honor, mrs vessel.

3 things you wish for (just for you)
[i am not one to define myself through material goods, but if i MUST...]
a) a bottomless slush fund so i can shop whenever i want to for clothes (not just target) just for ME for the upcoming season, and not the past one which is on sale. the slush fund would also be used for: music, home fashioning accessories, gourmet food/wine. all of which is "just for me," but i would share because i am so thoughtful like that (and i would need an audience to witness my new outfits/home accessories).
b) oh, i guess i would like a slush funds for books and art and stuff too (cough).
c) small cottage in england, close to my folks (but perhaps not too close). again, something i would be willing to share in all my benevolence.

3 things you would do to/for yourself if there was no one to judge you (or if you had the guts to do it!)
a) like weaker-vessel, participate in group sports like soccer or rugby (this from the girl who was always picked last for team sports at school, and flinched anytime the ball came soaring toward her on the rounders pitch).
b) several tattoos and a nose piercing
c) liposuction and a boob job (but would never do it, as i would actually judge myself harshly for that. but, oh, the convenience...)

3 bad habits you have
a) messing with facial eruptions
b) interrupting people, and finishing their sentences.
c) not seeing things through to their completion and generally making a career out of procrastination

3 insecurities you feel
a) that i am generally "too much" sometimes in drive to be an exhibitionist and that people actually don't really like me (i sound like a right saddo there--i do know that people like me, but i think i am overly invested in being liked--even by people who i should not give a shit about)
b) the body image thing that weaker-vessel is talking about. uh, got that going on too. (See 2c).
c) that even though i have a PhD and a pretty good job, that i am a complete imposter who manages to pull off looking like knows what she is doing during sporadic moments, but that one day soon i will be found out. and then ritually stoned.

3 talents/skills you wish you had
a) the ability to always stay applied and focused on something--writing an article, painting a room, hanging pictures, finishing a craft project, etc.
b) the ability to engage with my son for long and undistracted periods of creative play.
c) photography (i am such total shit at it)

3 things that you would do if you had more time
a) learn the piano
b) watch more television (HA!)
c) volunteer at a woman's shelter

3 things that bring you peace/relaxation
a) reading to my boy before he goes to sleep
b) booze in all its dazzling forms
c) knitting

3 things that spark your creativity
a) my stitch n' bitch cohorts.
b) writing and reading--especially, right now, this blog thing. and then talking to my ol' man and friends about it.
c) enforced deadlines (i'm not kidding--give me a paper or a proposal deadline, and i can crank that shit out).

hmmm... who should i tag who is not going to be hatin' on me for doing so... (see 3a). ok. in the interest of geographical diversity: ozma, sarah, and mike. y'can all consider yourself tagged. (bite me;-)



my day yesterday had two (maybe three) defining moments.

the first, i went to go and hear this guy speak about his experiences on robben island, where he was jailed for 25 fricking years with nelson mandela.

amazing speech, obviously, and i was especially moved when he said that the thing that made life the most empty was the lack of children. to be forced to not see or hold a child in 25 years is a form of emotional brutality he could not express. gulp... (shoot oprah-style to pasty white chick in audience who is discretely dabbing her eyes, and thinking "isn't anyone else blubbing here?" same white chick is also looking sidelong at the various preschool aged children seated quietly in the audience, and thinking "good grief. how do parents raise such well-behaved and culturally sophisticated toddlers?" and then, as kids begin to noisily act up, "i know it's wrong, but that makes me feel much better....")

the second [and if you are married to me, or have dined in my home, you perhaps might want to leave off here]: peeling carrots in the kitchen, solo, and realizing that the dog liked the peelings. after delicately scooping a few peels from the sink into her bowl, i proceed to grate the carrots directly on the kitchen floor with dog acting as canine-hoover. for some reason, it felt so wrong...

Update: this just in via AIM:
[13:05] love-of-my-life: you actually peeled carrots directly onto the floor?!
[13:06] me: uhm
[13:06] me: no
[13:06] me: i mean
[13:06] me: yes
[13:07] love-of-my-life: why not just start shitting on the lawn and calling it fertilizer?

sigh... sometimes he just up and reminds me of why i married him all those years ago....

i'm quite a slut when it comes to musical taste, but...

i am definitely not a purist when it comes to bands covering songs. in fact, i am not a purist about music at all. (i like me some madonna, radiohead, abba, barbara streisand, elliot smith, and even some black-eyes peas. i am currently plaguing m' man to buy me the latest gorrillaz album for my birthay, simply because i like that tune what they play on the ipod ad)

my favorite covers actually surpass (and even make me like) the original. these include greg dulli's version of mary j. blige's loathsome "real love." peter mulvey's live version of jungle book's "I want to be like you" is just swingin' smokey monkey fun. and perhaps my favorite cover of all time is elbow's version of destiny child's "independent woman" (which can be heard here, complete with xylophone playing cats) . (and yes, I know rathergood is so, like, "2002," but my son is addicted to it. especially the spongemonkeys).

oh, and lest i forget. as a diehard depeche mode fan, i am also quite haunted by johnny cash's quivering version of "my own personal jesus" (even as it adds a distinctly evangelical gospel stance to what, in its original form, is a highly twisted and ironic ditty).

actually i do discern a pattern here: "cover song" + "singer who smokes 4 packs a day" = "good times."

i think i can attribute this somewhat lax attitude to musical "authenticity" to my childhood. for a period in the late seventies (when I was about 8 or 9) each year for christmas i would ask for albums by abba or the beegees, or the grease soundtrack. And each year i would rip open that big flat square package, place the album on my princess turntable and listen excitedly and then think "hang on a minute.... something's not right..."
I would then look closely at the cover, and realize that Father Christmas had bought me a cheap knockoff: "a tribute to abba" or the ubiquitous and uninspired knockoff title "Sounds Like....[insert title of seventies band here]" and so forth.

anyway--this brings me to my main point. i am not a purist about music, but as i listen to accuradio's listening post throughout the day, i am plagued by this bird has flown, a 40th anniversary tribute album to the beatle's "rubber soul." and it is sacrilage, i tell you, SACRILAGE!
(note, i have not heard the tracks by surfjan stevens and cowboy junkies, who i like big time, so my diatribe is based on only partial and therefore incomplete knowledge. sooo?)

anyone who knows me and the fam' also knows that we exist in a beatles vortex ( i grew up in one, and then i married one--and given what i have told you about my own musical proclivities, you might say you don't blame him at all).

ask my boy what noise a walrus makes, and he will reply "goo goo ga joob."

in some ways, this might make me welcome a little respite from the liverpudlian onslaught in our house and in our car, at least something a little different.... but no. there are some things that should just be left well alone, especially when it comes to the "tribute" genre. beatles is one of them. hitchcock's psycho is another. oh, and if anyone ever does a cover of talking head's psycho killer. well. let me say. "i will cut you.."


wherein caucasian mid-westerners celebrate their cultural heritage

the young student-laddy on reception downstairs came into work this morning dressed like this (complete with lucky charms suit). every time i walk past him, i can't help wondering if he can be really comfortable. and then i feel uncomfortable for him as he says "top of the morning" to all and sundry who happen past his station. including the cadre of south africans we have here right now for a research trip. ("we give you insight into zulu cultural tradition, and you give us this?")

campus is crawling with these creatures. a sea of green off to lectures, recitation, and then to the bar. perhaps its my colonial (potato-hating?) heritage, but i don't get it... (and i have it on authority that my irish ex-pat counterparts don't quite get it either. especially the "let's turn the rivers green" part: "jayzus, what 're they thinkin'?").

i also happen to know that i can expect to be feted by a whole array of "shamrock/paddy art" when i pick up my boy from preschool tonight, and there will be much green glitter and tissue paper festooning the floor of the car for a few months to come.

UPDATE: Uhm, how about your three-yr old coming home with an utterly green painted face, and a beer buzz ...?
"honey, you look like the hulk!"
"NO, no, NO! I am a LEPRECHAUN."
"a hulk-leprechaun?"
"NOOOO, just a leprechuaaaaaan. dammit"

but on the other hand, if it gives me an excuse to get drunk of my ass on guiness and jamesons tonight, or to do green jello shots, I'M IN.

So, top of the mornin', afternoooon, and evenin' to ya all"

p.s. don't get me wrong, i fucking love ireland. and potatoes. and cabbage. (but not Enya).


i'm not a usability expert, but i play one in my job

so, as i was squinting at my own screen the other day, i thought to myself "nice job, joy. tell 'em how you have a job in "digital literacy research" and then create a blog which makes one's reader's eyes feel a mild stabbing sensation.

first rule of usability, "thou shalt not write white text on dark green background, for to do so sucketh big ones... even if thou dost have a teal fetish." so over a coffee break (see how i rationalize my prostination on this thing? it's a mere "break") i trolled for new template that are sassy yet usable.

and i realized, things could be much worse. so tell me, which one should i go for?

Teddy Bear's Picnic... how cute! it says "i value writing, but i'm not afraid of my cuddly side."

this designer knows what all the mommy bloggers really want..pictures of someone else's kids. all over your blog. awesome.

Or, my personal favorite. sexy yoga chick. doing her thing. all the sweaty-assed hell over your blog. nice.

ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream (with olive oil)

just to prove to you quite how much i might be rammed up my own british arse, i should divulge that my contribution to last saturday's italian food was garnered NOT from the finest italian cookbook one could find, but, of course, from everyone's favorite pasty-faced english boy: Jamie Oliver. AND. not only did i use jamie's expertize to guide my way into italian cuisine. i elected to "make" what might well be the most lazy-assed, rank-sounding dessert on the planet. here it is.

1-2 globs of good quality vanilla icecream (breyers worked for me)
small spinkle of sea salt.
lightly drizzle with the greenest olive oil you can find (i used trader joe's unfiltered).

everyone was game, and everyone was scared. and let me tell you, while it might not have been the delectable butternut squash ravioli with sage butter (sigh...) made by my lovely pal, it was amazingly good. i mean, amaaaazingly good.

seriously, i highly recommend it. and according to jamie, it's all the rage in italy. so there you go.


let me tell you why i hate sting

yes. i hate sting. and it's not just because of the Ten Summoner's Tales. (though, let's face it. this is crime enough*).

no. one main reason i positively loathe sting is because he is among that breed of insufferable "rock stars" who use their fame as a platform to be complete sanctimonious arseholes. even bob geldof, who i do happen to like, and who I do happen to think might do some good in this world, decided to include only western (uh, "global,') performers in the Live 8 gig (you remember-- intended to raise global public awareness of the challenges confronting Africa?) according to sir bob, this was because the event needed bands that triggered global recognition.

uhm, let me see. is there any correlation (per chance) that there is some kind of connection here between a need to raise awareness about some of the oppressive factors of globalization and a general lack of global cultural visibility? but i digress...

anyway. back to sting (and he was there headlining it up at Live 8, of course). in this case, my dislike runs to a much more specific incident than that.... sting messed with my family.

a few years ago, my younger brother worked at this place as the head waiter. it might not have been his dream job, but he he also had a healthy sense of pride about his work and approached his work with professionalism. (hence the fact that he was head waiter at a rather posh hotel).

so, sting comes into the restaurant, along with a gaggle of his "people" and my brother asks:

"Can I take your coat, sir?"

and sting replies, "I don't know CAN you?"

["yes, DICK. he can and may..."]

now remember, the-sting-formerly-known-as-gordon-sumner was a secondary school english teacher before being propelled to fame with roxanne. well guess what, sting, me too (well, except for the roxanne part) and does this give me carte-blanche to correct the grammar of the "underclass" with every breath i take?

no, it does not.

actually, the grammatical correction was lost on my brother, who just thought (quite rightly) that this git was just making a sarcastic comment over this here waiter's ability to actually take his coat. (i don't know, can you?)

so, there it is. sting is a classist, hyprocritical knob-shite who has the audacity to proclaim it his goal in life to help the poor and underrepresented. and the rain forests.

anyway, let me close this post by inviting you to check this classic piece by ricky gervais, who effectively lampoons the whole sting/bob/bono ethos with this piece where he we see him "do his bit for charity" as a famous celebrity.

yes, it's cringeworthy, but give me a bit of satire any day...

[*let me go on the record as a Police lover, and a Sting loather]



thanks mom-101 for reminding me of something in vital need of sharing with my american cohorts:

fanny = front bottom NOT back bottom. (as you can see, this distinction is quite important)

remember this, as mom 101 says, when you find yourself in harvey nicks with some sales person looking disdainfully down her noise at you. and be sure to say in a loud voice, "oh, you think I mean VAGINA." and then, please also say "you can cut the attitude, lady. you only work in shop you know"*

*who said that last part first?

notes from a small blog (or, just how much more mileage can i get out of this english thing?)

just came across this post from newly discovered Breed 'em and Weep. (yes, my monday is proving to be sooo productive). "bum bum" a bad word in america, but acceptable in canada? who knew?

of course, brits refer to their Be-Hinds as "bums" (as in: "diarrhea! diarrhea! comes out your BUM like a bullet from a gun, DIARRHEA!" OR "yum, yum, bubble gum, stick it up your mummy's BUM) (oh, and for more verse from this latter gem, check it here)

(lucky, lucky mummy).

and this got me remembering some strange shit from my childhood. not least, that not only were the words "bum" or "willy" outlawed in our house (and "arse"???? well, you just don't go there. disgusting.) but we were taught to use a terminology i believe might be completely unique:

front bottom & back bottom

it's that simple...

does anyone else have a front bottom and back bottom?


when will i ever learn??

[note: the following post is overly-long, and has terrible pronoun slippage issues. please attribute to my delicate condition].

one day, i might decide that life is too short to piss away an entire day by slobbing about the house in my pyjamas, cringing at any sudden moves, and sitting stupidied in front of Spy Kids while your son attempts to engage you in play. "honey, mummy doesn't feel very well. ok?" [read: honey, mommy can't really function right now, as she has a raging hangover. ok?"] last night, we had a houseful of guests for what started as a concept for an elegant italian-themed dinner party, and ended up as the raucos "Dago-Fest 2006!"

some friends and i have been reflecting lately over "wow, remember when we were totally wild in college? how did we shift from nightclubbing to potlucking so seamlessly? could we ever do that again?" and then we realized, while the context for getting together and, uhm, having a tipple (or 5) might have changed, much still remains the same. let's take a closer look.

In college, planning an evening's entertainment involved a simple process of drinking vodka and cokes in one's flat (why pay pub prices?) while you and your flatmates vye for use of the bathroom in order that you can each get tarted up like utter slatterns. this process would take much of the evening, with each of you ready (and adequately lubed up) to hit the town, oh, say, at about 11pm. there will be some consternation over whether one really needs to hamper one's self with a coat or handbag, or if one is willing to risk hyperthermia to parade the streets in a vest top and jeans, with lipstick, cash (and perhaps something illegal) wedged down the side of your platform boots. you the proceed to dole out for taxis, nightclubs, and drinks, and, after at least two trips to the cash machine (being sure not to get a balance receipt--who needs that downer?) end up spending what is the equivalent of your monthly budget for food and "necessities." after an evening of teetering about town and in clubs, you fal/l out of taxi, fall into bed, and spend sunday in front of the EastEnders Omnibus (and other mindless shit) and nursing your hangover by consumng large quantities of tea, galaxy bars, and cheesy wotsits.

As an adult and a parent, i immediately notice that the scene of socialization and debauchery quickly shifts from the town to one's own home (or the homes of others). before preparing for such and evening, one vital issue must be addressed--do we make this a family thing, or do we arrange for sitters? an ingenious convention that occurs in my neighborhood is the "off-site" child play area. kids get dropped at one house (we *do* get babysitters) and the parents then trot to another for an evening of fun that kicks off at 6pm, and must end at 11pm, sharp.

let me tell you, there is nothing quite like a group of thirtysomething parents who are quite unfettered of parental responsibility. (sidenote--remember in the late 80s when Hope, Micheal, Elliot, Nancy and all those from Thirtysomething looked old to you?? that's you and me now, baby).

so, replace the vodka and cokes with about 15 bottles of italian plonk, and for entertainment, instead of a d.j. enlist the skills of your amazing chef-friends who make fresh pasta dishes before your eyes, which you get to eat all night long.... our musical backdrop is provided by dick cheese, who croons sinatra-style covers of songs like "me so horny" (2 live crew). (picture also groups of people giggling inanely over cheese's version of beastie boys' brass monkey. we're sooo bad).

at some point, someone asks "what time is it??" you look over at the clock and say "it's only 7:45!!" and you high-five each other. by 8:30, you are thinking, "wow, it's only 8:30, and I am buzzed." by 10pm, the FM radio has been switched on and a couple of folks are (I shit you not) getting down and groovy to NPR's American Routes. At 10:55pm there is some discussion over whether to ask the sitters to stick it out a bit longer, and if so, which hapless spouse to send over to break the deal. At 10:59pm, we decide to quit while we are ahead, and I walk (carefully) with the other parents to retrieve children.

sunday morning. 7am. you awake to son bright eyed and bushy tailed, and immediately begin plotting as to how to make this day as devoid of all activity and motion as possible...

Hey honey, want to watch Spy Kids??"

Now, where's that bag of cheeto puffs...?

[p.s. to our dago-fest comrades. awesome...!]


psssst... don't tell anyone, but...

despite the fact that i have spent the massive of majority of my adult life accumulating degrees in literature [Lit-Tra-Chaaa] i am not really a poetry person. don't get me wrong, i can appreciate stein, and auden, and yeats along with the best of them, but i am not one to "curl up with a book of poetry" if you know what i mean.

anyway, several years ago, as part of a now defunct (i.e. unfunded) project on michigan writers, i had the chance (along with two great colleagues) to meet and interview Thomas Lynch. michigan's very own undertaker poet, and winner of the American Book Award. i remember being very star-struck when, after asking him if he'd seen 6 feet Under (a show that i still believe to be pure fucking poetry) he replied by saying, "oh yes, Alan Ball brought me in to consult." w.o.w... (this might be sad reflection on me--ok, so you're a poet and all that, but you *know* Alan Ball. like. wow). anyway, lynch's poems are quirky and quite beautiful, and can make poetry converts of us all.

if you're interested in a short dose of poetry this fine day, then Lynch himself can be heard (and read) here. michigan's very own "undertaker poet" (and very much more). have a good weekend all.


survey in need of human subjects testing.

scenario: upon waking this morning, and taking a shower, one finds a zit the proportion of mount vesuvius gracing the tip of one's nose. does one?:

a) mess with it, while mouth-breathing heavily on the bathroom mirror[1] [preliminary findings. yes, i know it's a nasty and counterproductive habit. see footnote below on history of this perversion]

b) apply liberal amounts of foundation/concealer in futile attempt to mask the now raging beast [preliminary findings: there's perhaps nothing that draws more attention to such disfigurement than the caking of cosmetic]

c) apply light blush to each cheek in attempt to perhaps balance out redness that occupies middle of face and therefore carry off "sunkissed" look. [preliminary findings: yeah, that'll work]

d) upon arriving at workplace, conduct conversations while looking down, or masking offending item with "wow-the-bridge-of-my-nose-really-needs-a-light-rubbing-right-now" gesture. [preliminary findings. interesting. this gesture can actually incite the respondent to participate in same motion, under false assumption that there is something on his/her face. whether this is a posivitive or negative attribute in this study is yet to be determined]

e) own it. in wild attempt to dispell the elephant in the room, and to convey humorous sense of self-deprecation, exhort to co-workers "just LOOK at this zit on my nose. LOOK at it! no, really LOOK at it.... Sheesh (laughs jovially) I'm 35. WHen's puberty done. HA HA HA HA! HAhahahahaha..." then skulk back to one's office to continue the day, knowing that people will not be saying "do you think joy know's there's a *thing* on her nose?"
[preliminary findings: to be determined]


1. in this propensity for self-mutilation, i, of course, blame my mother. (she, in turn, blames hers--and quite rightfully so, Nana). imagine the terror of teenage years, when your mother would catch a glimpse of that eruption on your chin/nose/shoulder. the glint in her eye meant you'd had it. you attempt to flee, to shrill "it's baaad for them, Mum!" but before you know it, you're wedged up against the kitchen cabinets squawking for your life. Upon completion, she says in (fake) soothing voice "thaaaat's it.. there you go, love. doesn't that feel better???" and you scutter away to nurse your throbbing wounds.

and here's the tragic part. fast forward a few more years, and you find yourself, having internalized the perversion, watching in horrified, gleeful repulsion as she literally knees your younger brother in the small of the back so she can steady him for her task.


time to put t'kettle on and bring out the rubber hoses... (or... do try this at home)

come back vera drake, all is forgiven.

it would be funny if it wasn't fucking true. south dakota has just decided to ban all abortions.

get your donations to planned parenthood now, folks...

apparently a new web revolution is picking up steam

what, another one?

According to CNN Money, "things are really crackling in silicon valley these days..":

We are in the early stages of what might be better thought of as the Next Net. The Next Net will encompass all digital devices, from PC to cell phone
to television. Its defining characteristics include the ability to interact
instantaneously with any of the more than 1 billion Web users across the globe
-- not by, say, instant messaging, but by evolving instant-voice-messaging and instant-video-messaging apps that will make today's e-mail and IM seem
The Next Net is deeply collaborative: People from across the planet
can work together on the same task, and products or tools can be rapidly tweaked and improved by the collective wisdom of the entire online world.

really? truly? wow... the whole collective wisdom of the entire online world????

[warning, navel-gazing straight ahead]

i love it when pundits start to use epochal terminology to describe the latest advances in technology and communications media. whenever i read about the "next big thing" and how it is going to revolutionize our ways of communicating, living, even our sense of identity, i always find that i am at once both deeply cynical and captivated. part of this cynicism comes from my academic training. i got interested in new media during the mid-to-late nineties when the rhetoric surrounding the new "digital era" was deeply epochal and polarized ("cyberspace" would liberate or enslave us; dehumanize us or free us from the shackles of material identity, and so on and so forth). like the good graduate student i was, i spent time examining this rhetoric and summarily critiquing it for inherent essentialism, cartesian leanings, postivitist logic, and humanism. (blegh). i noted how so many of the anxieties/celebrations of digital media could also be traced to the similar tenor surrounding the invention of the printing press, image-based culture, photography, telephones, telegraphs, film., etc., etc., what a clever, clever girl i was...

my own job is actually reliant on the prevelant assertion typified (however hyperbollically) by the CNN piece. that people can come together (in my case, scholars, programmers, teachers, students) and use digital technology to collaborate, learn, and share resources. i write grant applications that fully exploit the old"we stand at the dawn of a new digital age" addage. in our proposals, we speak of the dramatic improvement we can make to curricula resources, student learning, online access of digital archival materials, scholarly research and collaboration. and a lot of the time occasionally, i really do believe it. as a project director, i try and put these lofty visions into a concrete and workable production plan. (let's place the emphasis on try shall we?)

as an academic, i am fascinated by research that can make solid (and historically situated) claims over how technological advances intersect with cultural transformation. but at the same time, as i drudge through a day of programming specs, administration, documentation, design tweaking, troubleshooting, email sifting, and endless meetings (and I swear, with some of these meetings--i have the same one about 50 times) i think to myself, where is all this transformation we are supposed to be witnessing? will i always feel this sense of schitzophrenia over what we actually do, and what we say we do? or is the schitzo feeling normal or even necessary?

there must be something going on... and so i write this. in a blog. a blog where for the most part i write about the ludicrous things i observe about my everyday life. this act is at once an elaborate avoidance strategy (see above on, daily drudge activities) and also a way to discover things about myself and how i see the world--toilet signs, knitting, mothering and all--through the act of writing. and suddenly i am connected to the blogosphere--mommy blogs, gossip blogs, tekky blogs, craft blogs, personal blogs, academic blogs--all intertwining and interacting. and now i am a minute but active part of it. i am still not entrely sure why i am writing a blog, although i do know that even in these few short weeks, i have discovered something about myself as a writer that 10 years of grad school and long and drawn out ABD process failed to illuminate (perhaps even suppress).

my academic/geek side is fascinated by the nature of the various blogging communities, and how these contexts for blogging are emerging in such different ways. as an old school cultural studies gal, there is something deeply grativating to see that, despite all the Alan Bloom type panic over the dumming down of culture, and the degeneracy of the next generation, there is a shitload of creative energy out there that is driven by the written word; writing conducted by and for the people. the lunatics are running the asylum (or at least an outhouse of the asylum) and i couldn't be happier. i am beginning to scratch at the surface of the academic research concerning blogging, and i might just might pursue this line of research further.

and then there's the other side--the level that is not represented in this post so much, where blogging is about something else for me. something distinctly non-academic. finslippy's recent interview with leah peah kind of summed up that part of it for me (embarrasingly, but accurately so). when asked why she blogged, she responded (at first) with this:

You know when you went to parties in high school, and there was always that
one girl who was drunk but probably acting more drunk than she was, and she was staggering around spilling drinks on people and announcing anytime anyone would look at her, “Oh my God, I am WASTED!”? That’s me, only on the Internet.

yeah, i was that girl too (though i have toned it down somewhat). finslippy goes on to explain how her reasons for blogging keep shifting. while at first it was about showing off how clever she could be, and then about how she could find something interesting to say about the most mundane and boring details of her life, she ultimately found that the most valuable part of blogging was connecting with a community that seemed to arrive out of nowhere. "Imagine writing something down and the next day a big group of people ring your doorbell and tell you that they feel exactly the same."

so. is this also a symptom of revolution? the Next Net? even though we are not talking about tools-perfecting here, there is surely a collective wisdom or certain zeitgiest that is being collected, interconnected, and stored here. the voices of the mommy bloggers are especially fascinating to me in the regard, because there really is nowhere else of these voices to be heard (notwithstanding Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping, of course (har har)). Of course, put the term "mommy" in front of anything, and run the risk of having it trivialized and demeaned. but even this trend is openly, honestly, and even heatedly debated within the community--online. yeah, i'd say theres some collective wisdom there. not "triggered" by technology, but certainly facilitated by it.

i am not sure how to end this, as the specter of academe is telling me "delete! delete! for such a long and perhaps incoherent post" but i am a lunatic in the asylum, after all. so i'll throw my two cents of wisdom out, and get back to the daily work of making transformative digital resources...


MILF maids and other hilarity

i am swamped with work right now, and have vowed to get a shitload done before the weekend. so contrary to my promise below to bring the content-level up a notch or two, i totally cop out blog-wise, and instead bring to you this little snippet from the inimitable Go Fug Yourself:

"Gee, thanks for getting dressed today, Rita. Who the hell does she think she is?" Kate Capshaw snarled to herself, unable to stop glaring at her former friend's bodacious rack. "She should have TOLD me. I ASKED her if she thought I should still wear my Ellen DeGeneres suit, even though it had fallen off the hanger and sat in a crumpled heap at the bottom of my closet." you've just *got* to read the rest...


semiotics and the can (or, how the intellectual content of my blog is degenerating rapidly...)

the design manager posted this little missive on the inside door of the toilet that is adjacent to our offices this morning...

[read: if you need to do something antisocial, please go get your stink on somewhere else. we're trying to project manage around here, 'k?]

This new note is in addition to two other pieces of signage that grace the walls in the loo. This one:

You can only imagine what prompted that one, can't you???? (miss you paula, kiss kiss)

And this one, in which we are instructed, in step-by-step specificity, how to run water and use soap:

and it struck me.. what filthy, filthy creatures we must truly be to warrant this barrage of disciplinary instruction. and also, how so very very lucky i am to have this foul receptable within flushing distance of my office.

ok, ok, tomorrow i intend to post on something that will do justice to the "it's not all about toilet and willy jokes" side of me. i have a phD for chrissakes.