Sunday, February 27, 2011
Once the economy collapsed, JPMorgan Chase added new offices to help home owners stay in their homes? Wow! Who wrote this original screenplay? Best adapted BS. Special effects! The commercial is voiced over an animated storybook, and these guys are from fantasyland. Is there anyone anywhere who buys this? The Boots - full throttle, to one of the perpetrators of this country's economic collapse. I'm not sure I can watch the rest of the Academy Awards with these bozos as sponsor.
Movies today: tonight is the 83rd annual feast of praise and damnation, a celebration of the best & awfullest. I'm dusting off my tails. Francine LeFrak's article titled "The Mysterious Disappearance of Hollywood's Trailblazing Women" bemoans the lack of success for the movies about women this year. She points to Amelia, Conviction, Made in Dagenham, Secretariat and Fair Game. She writes in dollars: is box office the only criteria for 2010 being a "painful" year for women in movies? There are a thousand villains in a movie's supposed failure. The screenplay is the usual first suspect rounded up. Only two women writers: Pamela Gray (Conviction) and Anna Hamilton Phelan, second billed (Amelia). Maybe the director? Only one woman - Mira Nair directed Amelia. Nigel Cole has good woman movie creds (Calendar Girls, Saving Grace). Could be subject matter: Amelia Earhart again? Secretariat is a horse opera, I don't care who owns him. Conviction is a marginal story: sure there's a woman's struggle against possible injustice, but geez, did the brother do it or not? Is there anyone in this country who doesn't know the Valerie Plame story? How did these less than stellar story concepts get produced? This is no mysterious disappearance of women, trailblazing or other, in movies. It's a classic storyline. Moving pictures began in 1895. In 1896, Alice Guy-Blache directed her first narrative film. Frances Marion was scripting movies for Lois Weber, Mary Pickford, Marion Davies (as actors, directors, producers, studio executives) in the 1920s. Dorothy Arzner was admitted to the Directors Guild in 1937, after the money men had laid seige to Hollywood. Women have been, and continue to be, deliberately disappeared. Kathryn Bigelow won the first woman director's Oscar and DGA Award in 2010, a double first - 115 years after moving pictures began. In 2010 only 16% of directors, editors, producers, writers working on the 250 top films were women. I will wager a bunch that this year that percentage will be less by 2%. And we'll get still fewer movies about powerful women, brought to the screen by powerful women. 116 years of the movie business, with pioneering, trailblazing women working the majority of enterprising executive positions in the industry in the late 1800s, early 1900s. And here we are at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Now that's a screenplay to be written, a movie to be directed, edited, produced, distributed. Women's work.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
What to do with this snowing day? I can blog about microfinance, union-busting, my Dad's guybonics, the remarkable book I read "If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland. I sat at my desk, staring at my fountain pen. I have fistfuls of writing implements, reams of beautiful paper, art cards from galleries on my travels, notebox gifts from friends. Healing Garden Journal published my article about avoiding by collecting titled The Last River. Today I moseyed through the writing paper and notecards, chose some, picked up the fountain pen and wrote a letter to a friend. Then I wrote to another friend. And another. I used artcards I bought on a wilderness trip in 2003, never opened. I wrote on banana paper from South America. Wrote on Geri's Christmas gift notecards. A letter to a friend is the best possible use for beautiful paper, glossy ink and a full heart.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Nondoing. Action without action. The phrase is in William Powers book Twelve by Twelve, and it is not the first time I've seen or heard the words. I understand the concept a little more now. Powers' cabin owner has a mantra she practices: see, be, do. Seeing is an acquired skill. Robert Heinlein had Fair Witness characters in his novels. If you asked one what is the color of that house in the distance? the Fair Witness would reply it is white on this side. She would not assume the other three, nor comment on the color. I am learning to see. Like the white space in a painting, there are stories to be told in seeing well. Being is a life's work; to be still and absorb. I can only be still when I am walking at speed - I am a rookie being stiller. My mind jabbers until I notice my lungs laboring, my heart pulsing, and then my mind shuts up. Probably checking for vital signs, at my age. Do is the last word in the mantra. We are a nation of doers. We labor harder for unseen corporate enterprises to increase productivity and profits, and to give us the lucre to shop, and work more. We're well trained. And untraining is the labor of the last quarter of life. Do is what I'm redefining. For myself, not for others. I am learning to see: body language, truth, sustainability. I am learning to be: still, contemplative, appreciative, grateful. I will learn to do: act when what is seen and how it is being can be improved for the highest good, in balance and harmony. While I learn, there is wu wei.
I'll shop for diapers today. Scott has a new companion with ExpertCare, and I like her truthfulness, and she said it's time. Trolling the internet, can't yet find a good source for a purchase decision, so we'll wing it for now. I like the names of the drugstore brands. Good marketing creates comfort, whether the products do or not. I hope he'll understand the use, but am prepared to be serene about what's next. I remember laughing at my brother-in-law when he told my sister the week that their youngest child was potty-trained "Well, Susan, we're out of the diaper business: right up until the minute we both need them." Among the small joys of this time in our lives is that there is information to be had quickly, there are books to read that calm the spirit and help make adjustments like the one I just finished. Twelve by Twelve is about the luxury of enough. Scott's happiness with a cup of coffee out in the world, a dinner made especially for him, his music, his room, a warm shower, is a little piece of heaven. And today with the ice fully cleared off the path, my legs and back feeling good with the hard work, the sun is shining in a world of snow poofs in the trees. The luxury of enough.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Our household stands in virtual solidarity with the people on the street in Madison, Wisconsin. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! Your voices are in the hearts of wage earners throughout the world, and freedom-loving American workers. Keep us safe, Wisconsinites!
Blogs for women over 60 search top results: 1) Hairstyles, 2) Getting Laid, 3) Glamour, 4) Get a Job. Redo using advanced search to exclude the words fashion, style, laid, intimate, job, hairstyles results: 1) Menopause Decreases Sexual Desire, 2) nearly all women over 60 wear these traditional clothes, 3) martini skydiving, 4) more clothes 5) movies with women over 40. Next advanced search exclude words martini skydiving, clothes, movies, tummy tuck (tummy tuck?!), work. Results ditto but add makeup techniques, and man, 74 charged with assault on woman over 60. Thank the goddess and all her attendants for Lynne Morgan Spreen and Any Shiny Thing!
The Cost of War. Combine this visual cost counter with the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment figures updated to February 5, 2011. Combine that with what the unimaginable amount of money spent on war in foreign countries could do in believable terms for Detroit, Michigan. And weep. When the tears are dried, start writing Congress about bringing our soldiers - and the money to take good care of them - back home. With gratitude to Brave New Films and the Rethink Afghanistan video.
Friday, February 18, 2011
House voted to defund Planned Parenthood today. Pence and his cronies went at it a third time with H.R. 217 and in this hostile to women climate, it passed. Access to HIV testing, cervical cancer screening, mammography, family counseling - funding gone. Pence and his cronies denied healthcare access for women and girls. Denied. Treatment denied. Lest we forget: there is no federal funding for abortion. But the leadership of this Congress demands you not forget they own and control women's reproductive systems in toto. The 112th Congress representatives have created a more dangerous world for women. This defunding will not stop abortions or sexual activity. But it will further burden women with the consequences of activity that men engage in with women. Often against their will. It will place more women in danger. And that's fine with the oligarchy and its legislative triumvirate. Someone needs to step up and call this travesty what it is - a bill of attainder. Again I ask: where are the jobs? What about the economy? What's the plan, boys? Get your heads out of our reproductive system and back on solving our country's serious problems.
My new persona. I use ziggity boom a lot - mostly to describe when I go ballistic about something or other - like when I forget one of two things on my mental list, or when yet another product I prefer is discontinued. Live long enough and everything we prefer is discontinued, and though I know that cognitively, I am not zenned enough to accept it. I go - and use - ziggity boom so much that my good friend Joel named a character in his book Ziggy Bloom. I typo'ed ziggity boomer the other day, and I liked it. Funny that the older I get, the more typos seem significant. Maybe as I age, I need significance and will pounce on it wherever I find it, even in my sent folder. Or maybe I'm making everything up, including anything I think I notice. That's Ziggity Boomer. I'm going to trademark it. If I remember.
I drew this long ago, was afraid to use it because it is not a pretty picture. The Silent Woman is a pub name still in use today. It is an ugly image. The rise of gender-based violence in the world is ugly. I am angry enough now to use the drawing. I'm going to use Silent Woman Speaks for posts that are shouting about gender-offensive behavior. Whenever I spot guybonics and tomfoolery. The idea of a woman who can't speak is referential in jokes, casual conversation, pop culture, and raises its headless form this year in the 112th Congress' legislative agenda. We need to speak. We need to stop being silent. I call on my matriarchal ancestors to help stop the madness of violence against women for all time.
Jane Arraf is a journalist who covers war and conflict. She has reported from Iraq and the Middle East since 1991. On npr today Ms. Arraf writes about women journalists writing in wartorn areas. It is particularly timely since Lara Logan was sexually assaulted in Egypt. A sidebar article regarding comments posted on a story about the attack on Lara Logan explains why comments have been flagged and removed from the story. npr had to explain that the rules do not allow hate speech, sexist, bullying or obscene comments. While schoolgirls in Iraq are leaving school because of the violence against them by teachers, commenters in America can't keep their comments civil. Violence against women is on the rise. Iraq, Sudan, Middle East. And the United States. The 112th Congress is busy assaulting women's reproductive rights. Blaming the victim is an old, tired game, but it is a game that is played daily in the world. I honor the women who speak out. I shout the names of women who speak the truth and speak it often. Jane Arraf, Ann Jones, Christiane Amanpour, and so many others who observe and then report.
I have yammered for years about The Luxury of Enough. The opposite of enough is planetary degradation and freedom bereft of meaning. I learned in therapy (also for years) that want and need are different. We want new jeans and the latest handbag. We need very little. Food, shelter, clean water, love. Nature requires needs be met to simply survive. I can live without dark chocolate. I cannot live without water. I can live without music, but I want it enough to elevate it to a need in my soul. Enough means survival at its core: spiritual calm, brain function, and body ease at its most pure. One article recently tried to explain to us dumb humans that buying an eco-friendly $150 shirt is not the same as self-abnegation. Stephanie Mills writes about The Luxury of Enough in "Epicurean Simplicity." Anita Roddick understood the global need for clean water and education and enabled poor cultures to establish businesses by buying locally on a global scale. I am learning. I am learning faster than I learned for 50 years that my actions have consequences, that what I want has an impact on my loved ones, my village and my world. I hope I am improving as I strive to embrace The Luxury of Enough.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
A Michigan company that makes covers and armor for factory robots + a Detroit native Project Runway guy who wants a business in his hometown = Motor City Denim Co. This is a story about ingenuity, turning automotive slump into fashion upswing, and wicked clever entrepreneuring. Cheers to npr for running with it. Read about Mark D'Andreta of TD Industrial Coverings, and Joe Faris, designer who loves high zoot fashion. You can own a tshirt March 1st at Motor City Denim Co. website. First jeans off the line are in showrooms in May, or you can preorder March 1. Back belt loop has Motor City Denim Co. on a seatbelt! Industrial chic! I'm in - I want a pair.
Ken turned 50 this month. Barbie is older than Ken. In 2009, when Barbie reached 5-0 I started rescuing chewed, green-eared, haircut, forgotten Barbies on eBay and changing each into a 50-year old. We got older, why didn't Barbie? Wrinkles were created with marble dust, rather than life experience. I took off the face paint and repainted more age appropriately. The Barbie pictured here was the Unicef Barbie circa 1989. She had bitten fingers and toes which became arthritic with a little sanding. I gave her a cool haircut and gray hair. I had trouble with one poor doll whose legs were bent. The repair sites told me to plunge her in boiling water, and bend the legs back. I preferred to just give her a cane and tell the story that she needs a knee transplant, but can't afford it. Each doll got reading glasses around her neck, and in her handbag a membership card, proudly proclaiming membership in WWWBY. I didn't get my first Barbie until I was 35, because when I mentioned I'd never had a Barbie to my then husband, he thought I missed having one. I didn't. I appreciated that my mother and grandmother thought the doll was strange gear for a little girl's toybox. But I sure loved every one of the Barbies who weren't born yesterday!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Isn't that what H.R. 217 is about? Pence and his 164 cosponsor cronies want every baby born. And they want more of them. Isn't that why they want to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that offers family planning and contraception information? Isn't that why? Let's make sure we watch the votes on reducing childcare funding, financial help for all the new mothers Pence and his crowd are encouraging, and education support. Just watch the votes. These liars support life until the minute life is here, needing genuine support and financial assistance. Here are the Michigan co-conspirators: Reps. Justin Amash (MI3), Dan Benishek (MI1), Bill Huizenga (MI2), Thaddeus McCotter (MI11), Candice Miller (MI10), Tim Walberg (MI7). I predict they will cosponsor bills to cut funding from life support systems. Once again: how many jobs does this create?
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Touched a tactile thread today. An article about women:men speak led to an article about studies that find what a viewer is touching influences whether a picture viewed is perceived as a woman or man, which led to me giving it all up and calling Geri. Geri is experiencing an editorial writing class, and we talked about using subject passion in choosing what to write. We talked about touch. What touches us, what we touch. We both love books, paper, tile. We both know that touch is needed in life, that touch triggers memory, that touch soothes and reveals. That touch is a precious personal communication. Geri talked about the anonymity of the class: no names on the paper, no names on the comments shared, which is meant to be freeing, but everyone in her class knows who writes her words because she is mature and nurtured in her time and place: her writing reveals her. Young people communicate in big groups who do not touch. Our time and place is/was face-to-face, one-with-one. We wondered what the future would be in touch. Keep in touch. Reach out and touch someone. If we don't touch each other and touch our world, are we truly connecting? Will we lose our sense of touch in the future Geri and I will not see or hear?
Friday, February 11, 2011
At the end of the day is overused. Why are we using it so much? 1) It's easy, like um or look. 2) It lends a sense of urgency to the speaker's words. 3) It creates an apocalyptic timeline. 4) It replaces the ubiquitous when all is said and done. It conveys false importance. We need to listen to words, and eliminate the chaff from the kernel. Our words are valuable. What we feel and think that creates the words is the essence of communicating. I hear words. I need to understand your meaning, then I can appreciate fully who you are. Do I understand you well? At the end of the day, appreciating each other - communicating deeply - is what words help us do.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R. MI(11) is the sole sponsor of H.R.554 - to withdraw normal trade relations treatment from the products of foreign countries that do not maintain acceptable standards of religious freedom and worker rights. Weirdly worded, isn't it? Sounds good though, doesn't it? No text released from GPO yet, but H.R.554 has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee. That's Dave Camp, Chair, R. MI(4) who is one busy Chair this session. McCotter's in my district, and we know his work. He's the guy who recently said we need to stand solidly with Mubarak in Egypt against the democracy demonstrators. Stay tuned for this bill's definition of religious freedom. Whatever it is, it sure as blue spruce is not about jobs or reducing the deficit.
The newbie governors have gotten their IT set-ups, made State of the State speeches and are now hunkered down with budget planning. Governor Snyder has a $1.8 billion budget shortfall to reverse, a double digit real unemployment rate, and businesses and people leaving Michigan. Rumors of tax cuts for business gather applause at meetings. Getting rid of the Michigan Business Tax may be a good idea, but it will subtract $1.5 to $2.2 billion from the plus side, and thus add to the deficit. Closing special interest tax credits may be good, but will we say good-bye to the film industry? Snyder will look at the education system as well. We'll see. Watch for the budget Feb. 17. Watch for The Dashboard. Snyder was Gov. Engler's MI Economic Development Corp. appointee in 1999. How'd Snyder do with that? Engler closed Lafayette Clinic, other institutions and put hundreds of mentally ill people on the street. Engler ended licensing of day care centers, inspections of nursing homes, he knifed education in the back. We'll see if Snyder does better. Snyder wants to cut from the prison system, too. Are we headed for privatizing prisons? The Governor wants to remove antiquated laws and regulations - thinks we don't need to put price stickers on products. WalMart's idea; only two States do it, but there are other consumer protections in that law that are useful. Not to WalMart, but to consumers. Meanwhile, Lt. Guv. Calley is being his usual quotable self.
Handicap parking doesn't mean grocery carts. Businesses that use the spaces to dump the snow from the rest of the parking lot will lose business. And please, moms in vans, park the car somewhere else to let your kids out to drop the videos. You'll need the space for real soon enough.
Cloris Leachman in a leather jacket. Ziggity BOOM! Network Solutions' new Go Granny campaign got me to call. My ziggity boomer side winced at the granny, but I am also senior, sensible & savvy and dislike the tata godaddy ads. NS was smart to offer an alternative image and I'll move my business from godaddy. The man I talked with said the phones are ringing off the hook. That's cool. I worked in industrial advertising for decades and liked the work because it's simple: appeal to the greatest number of potential customers and make your current customers happy with the decision to buy. We savvy women and men aged 55-64 have a whole lot of money to spend nurturing our businesses. Women entrepreneurs are the fastest growing small business segment. Job creation is rising in the women-owned business realm. We buy and we influence major purchase decisions. Women not only buy purses and make-up, we buy high tech, industrial and automobiles. I remember years ago at dinner with a newly-arrived automotive marketing vp from the UK. This is Detroit, so he was with one of the formerly Big 3. I asked him what his plans were for marketing to women. He said, "you can't market to women." At that time - circa 1985 - women influenced a new car buying decision at about 75%. It was the 80s so influencing was a far as we got. Little wonder we had to bail these birds out 25 years later. I saw the taglines on an msnbc blip about marketing to Boomers yesterday. The 30-something man and woman discussing it talked about brighter colors and Depends. I saw the spot. Honestly. Who the hell cares what color your Depends are? It's a start, long overdue. It will get better, once the ad agencies aren't chockablock with 30-something boys who dream of Mad Men women, instead of 401k-cashing, business-starting, fast-car-driving, motorcycle-owning, techsavvy women like us.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I am imported from Detroit. It's my hometown. Sometimes its rulers are hard to love, but I love the Motor City. The hospital where I was born is torn down. My Dad's houses are torn down. The aquarium on Belle Isle is torn down. The college that tried to improve my brain is torn down. But I'm not torn down. Neither is Detroit. Life is tough and it is also short. Together my birth city and I are gritting our teeth, clenching our fist, and finding the luxury of enough. Detroit is still here. Whether the Chrysler commercial is about automobiles or rebirth or nothing at all, I'm proud to be imported from Detroit. That's the luxury of enough.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The 112th Congress war against women continues. Rep. Pitts, R. PA16, of last year's Stupak-Pitts infamy is at it again. This time he's introduced the Protect Life Act, which does nothing of the kind. It would enable hospitals to deny a pregnant woman a surgical procedure to save her life. She is to be left to die. Doesn't mention where exactly she's supposed to do this dying, but die she must. This atrocity has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Health. Indeed. And a Georgia peach, Rep. Franklin, R. Cobb County, proposes changing what a woman who has been raped is called from victim to accuser. This nicely translates into calling a rapist the accused. Much more friendly. The rocks are being overturned and out from under them crawl the men who wring their hands and wail about supporting life while working hard to let women die. Again.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
We've been curious for some time why the pork chops we occasionally enjoy don't taste good and have the consistency of cardboard. I shop daily across the street because I can walk there, they sell Michigan produce when it's available, the butcher said the meats they sell are from local farms, the farthest away Indiana or Canada. We eat much less meat than we used to; I'm weaning the guys in favor of vegetables, but I'll buy a request. Recently the entire pork section from hocks to roasts is PrairieFresh with a Kansas address. PrairieFresh is a trademark of Seaboard Foods. There are three degrees of pork listed. The 100% Natural line offers "no antiboitic [sic] residues." Not no antibiotics, no residues. Seaboard's Guymon, Oklahoma feed lot was cited for animal cruelty (the infamous pig abuse video). Seaboard Farms has paid fines for polluting groundwater with runoff from their feed lots. I won't buy this - or maybe any other - pork again, and I guess I'll tell the butcher why. Read some testimony from the Seaboard CEO, Rod Brenneman to a Congressional committee. You can find the document on the internet. I do not feel sorry for the pork industry complaining of economic pressures because of oversupply from the CEO of a bad actor "integrated food company" with a couple hundred feed lots churning out pork. I feel sorry for the pigs.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Campaign finance comes home to play. One of my passions is protecting our environment. Used to be one of Fred Upton's, too. Not any more. He's been bought. Upton's bid for the Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee was funded, and is now staffed by, lobbyists for industries with an aggressive agenda to gut the EPA, and deny climate change. Interested Michiganderians need look at just two sites. Here are Upton's Top 5 campaign contributors. He got fistfuls of dollars from Trust PAC, and shown are the Top 5 contributors. And his gang's all here. And here. Add a lament from Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth, about Benton Harbor's own Fred Upton's switch-hitter role. Gary Andres, Staff Director of Energy and Commerce Committee is a lobbyist for oil and energy interests, formerly at Dutko Worldwide. DTE Energy is a player in this money game. DTE Energy is seriously behind on their commitment to clean energy, and rather than strive to meet standards, would rather spend big money on buying public servants. In Fred Upton's case, it's money well spent.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
HR.3 is misogyny and ultima ratio regum [last argument of kings]. I cannot tell the stories of elected officials who find this "highest legislative priority." I can tell personal stories. Stories of women I loved and admired fiercely, generations of my matriarchal ancestors. I can tell my own stories. Stories that need to stop. Maybe if we tell the stories for the first time, and loud enough, and in great enough numbers, the HR.3 perpetrators of the world will stop, too. My mother needed a certified copy of her birth certificate to get a passport for a trip to Australia. She was excited anticipating her tour. The birth certificate arrived with her name, parents' particulars, and her position as "second live birth." My mother understood herself to be firstborn. My grandmother had passed on, and her sister, my mother's aunt was in a nursing home. My mother asked Auntie why the birth certificate read second birth. It must be a mistake? Aunt Suoma told my mother the secret that two generations of women kept from the third, fourth and fifth. One late night, when my great-grandmother and her two young daughters were home alone, several men broke into their house, drunk, laughing, talking loudly in another language they did not understand and gang-raped the three repeatedly; mother and two daughters, aged 10 and 12. Men held the screaming mother from reaching her little girls while they raped her; men held the young girls down while other men brutally violated them, laughing and talking all the while. Were they beaten? Bruises, some cuts, tearing, bleeding from their ordeal. Would they qualify under the "forcible rape" language of HR.3? No. My great-grandmother was beyond conception, Aunt Suoma at 10 hadn't menstruated yet, but Saima, my grandmother, was impregnated. At 12 years old. She was young, a country girl, a foreigner and, now, a rape victim carrying a child of violence. She was sent away to nanny for another family and she learned there, as I have put together from stories she told me, to never look forward to anything again. She told the tale to me of that horrifying winter in the context that she had gotten a job as a nanny, and wasn't allowed home to visit her mother and sister. We assume the child was given up for adoption. My grandmother had a doll she called Georgie for as long as I knew her. She knitted clothes for her doll, kept he/she clean and safe, and I thought it was charming as a child. I now have Georgie in my bedroom. The doll means something else entirely to me now. My heart, soul and body ache telling this story, but our society is only as sick as the secrets it keeps. Women are trained from birth to go along to get along, and to shut up. We have shut up and suffered for generations. The picture with this post was taken in 1916, Suoma is on the left, Saima in the middle. The two sisters were never far apart from each other in their long lives - notice Saima has her fingers touching Suoma's shoulder. The date on the picture is 1916: two years after the gang rape in 1914. 97 years ago. We haven't come so very far, have we?