Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friend Joel - יום הולדת שמח

June 26 is Joel's birthday. I'm remembering it early this year, remembering it accurately for the first time, and celebrating Joel's friendship. Happy birthday, Joel! Here we are in 2003, at a wine tasting event in Royal Oak. Lily's has a first Tuesday wine club hosted at a different RO venue each month. No, that's not Secretary Clinton with us. She's a friend who said, as I whinged one Tuesday about not having traditions for women entering menopause, "of course we do! It's called Wine Night!"

But this is about Joel. A man who came to a Partylite soire at my house because he thought the conversation would be interesting. Joel is completely myopic about women: he sees women the same as men. Joel is a gifted writer, a practicing intellectual, a mensch, a lousy punster, a stellar character and a fabulous friend. We have known each other a long time: if Joel and I were talking about this, I would guess how long, and he would advise "however long ago you think it was, double it."

I met Joel at Janet's Seder Lite celebration - double how long ago I think that was. We talked all night. I whinged, Joel philosophized, we solved 62% of the world's problems. We talk often about important stuff like books and movies and words, all of which we are passionate about. We used to talk about good wine, but neither of us has the inclination or the loot to indulge that passion any more.

We agree about authors disproportionally to everything in the universe we otherwise disagree about. We share Sir Terry Pratchett, John Crowley, Michael Chabon, Lawrence Block, Jasper Fforde. We are thrilled by good character development whenever it appears. We like particular screenwriters, certain directors, a couple of theaters for popcorn. I can trust him absolutely to tell me if I can't watch a movie because it has knives in it. If Joel says don't watch it, I won't.

We have other opposite tastes. He is attentive to movie reviewers, I won't read them. I write, review, let the writing sit, read it again, send it. Joel finds bliss in rewrites. He enjoys foreign martial arts films; has particular favorite directors and an extensive collection. I think it's a bunch of silly swirling robes. Perhaps that's the ticket: we disagree and we're okay with that.

I once called him a snob, and we got into a long hour of semantics about it. We're both snobs, and I like the company. Joel is loyal to his steel cut oats, and a particular store's olives. He will travel absurd distances to satisfy his tastebuds. I boycott certain stores for bizarre snobbish reasons I never tell anyone about. Except Joel.

So, there you have it. I enjoy Joel's tastes, twists, nuances and humanitude. We may disagree at length and volume, but I respect, admire and trust him, and he knows it. We have code words, traditions, summer squall spats that clear in a moment, we are good friends in a universe of casual acquaintances. And we are fortune's favorites in that way.

Happy birthday, dear Joel! L'chaim!

Monday, June 14, 2010

All Others Pay Cash

Browsing NPR's site today, I found a blog named 13.7 Cosmos And Culture. I'll be reading this blog. Intrigued, I searched "13.7." It's the estimated age of our universe. Then I searched "prestate" a word used in Stuart Kauffman's blog about co-evolving civilizations. The first definition (sponsored link?) was Merriam-Webster online. It's not usually my first choice because it doesn't offer audio pronunciation, synonyms or the like. But I was lazy, and clicked.

Merriam-Webster Online reads:

prestate, it turns out, isn't in the free Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, where you just searched.
However, it is available in our premium Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary. To see that definition in the Unabridged Dictionary, start your FREE trial now.

And while I was aghast, pinned to this monetization of words, there was a commercial for Toyota playing on the sidebar.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Admirable Women III

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: working to have portrayals include women and girls in TV and film for children under 11.

Anita Sarkeesian at educating us about the Bechdel Test.

Jehmu Greene and all the women at Women's Media Center.

Caroline Simard who wrote yesterday about the absence of women in management in green technology.

And my magnificent niece Rachel C. M. Jackson, engineering junior at Michigan State University who is working with Clean Water Action and enjoying making a difference!

The King Is Dead. Long Live the King.

Oil is king and we're all subjects. William K. Reilly, Oil Spill Commission appointee has ties to King Oil. Former FL Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham has environmental credentials, including pushing for tougher restrictions on the oil industry during his Senate tenure. But he hasn't spoken to BP since being appointed two weeks ago.

ExxonMobil, Gazprom, Chevron, Shell and BP remain the world's most profitable corporations. And the most villainous despoilers of our planet.

Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President, new media darling, made millions serving the oil industry. He and Gov. Bobby Jindal are pushing hard for their Gulf sand barrier project, capitalizing on the crisis to shove their agenda. Our government is responding to this oil-soaked plan faster than to our environmental outcry for energy policy reform.

Long live the kings.