Friday, December 30, 2005

Time to Bury the Donut Guy

Everyone's favorite donut maker, Michael Vale (aka "Fred the Baker"), passed away this week. While Vale was a former acting classmate of stars Tony Curtis, Ben Gazzara and Rod Steiger, the Dunkin' Donuts pink and orange never looked better on another. (Though fellow "sleepy-eyed" actor Vincent Schiavelli may be equally missed.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Miss Seventeen Shocker

News Alert! News Alert! Seventeen Magazine has selected this year's teenage role model, "MTV's Miss Seventeen," and she is... a Skinny, Blonde, White Woman! YAY!

Now, I have nothing personal against "Jen" -- she sounds like an okay person who has been through a lot, what with both of her parents incarcerated and having to work three jobs and all. And yet she remains "perky and happy." Good for her. Oh, and "Jen" was mostly raised by her grandparents -- such a shockingly "different" story for a pretty white girl.

I find it remarkable that competitions which apparently factor in more than beauty still result in conventionally beautiful people making it to the finals. And a pretty, skinny, blonde, white woman winning. What, am I supposed to feel better cause she has braces? If the winner didn't receive a photo on the magazine's cover, would an unconventionally attractive woman have had better odds? Would a woman of color with a similar backstory won? Would a disabled dyke have had a shot?

Sheesh, I don't know why I'm kvetching. I really shoudn't have expected more from a magazine that features a Body Mass Index on its website's homepage -- all in the name of "health," of course. Of course.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Resources for Gremlins

Even though the mythical stork will never deliver a bundle of "joy" on my doorstep (and if he tries, I'll tell him just where he can go), I can appreciate good books for kids and abnormal -- but extraordinary -- approaches to dealing with them. Two such resources caught my attention recently, the first being (Queer Eye) Carson Kressley's new book for kids, You're Different and That's Super! It's for tots who feel different in all sorts of ways -- race, gender, style, class, hobbies, etc. Carson seems sincere in his motivation for entering the crowded celebrity children's book market; let's hope the contents of the book live up to its potential.

Also exciting is GenderPAC's emerging "Children as They Are" campaign, which entails treating kids, er, as they are and not according to any rigid gender stereotypes. It means not telling boys they shouldn't cry or play the flute and not prohibiting girls from joining a game of tackle football or chasing frogs in sewers. The little gender-confident gremlins will thank you for it later.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Corky Jones D. (1991?-2005)

Corkster, you had the personality of a Hollywood maven – you knew what you wanted and when and didn’t take bullshit from anybody. You were selective in your chosen companions, and faithful to the chosen until the end. You were an athlete, a musician, an adventurer, an enemy, an acrobat, a glutton, an imp, an alarm clock, a distraction, a seat warmer, a flirt, a co-conspirator, a nag, a de-upholsterer, a comfort, and a friend. You were my first true love and you will be missed.

Friday, December 09, 2005

#5: Frondeuse Duchesse de Montpensier

The marital history of Anne, Duchesse de Montpensier (and daughter of the duc d'Orléans) appears to be a point of dispute. In his history of Paris, Jones claims she never married. But Wikipedia claims she was secretly married to the duc de Lauzun, "a little man whose ugliness seems to have exercised a certain fascination over many women." This little, ugly man later treated her (and, presumably, the many other women) like shit. Perhaps the answer to the question of her marriage can be found in her memoirs?

Regardless, there is no disputing Anne's diehard support of the Fronde, during which she personally commanded anti-royalist Frondeur cannonfire from the Bastille.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

#4: La Pucelle

Jeanne d'Arc -- the coolest woman in French history. Enough said.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

#3: Queen Regent Blanche of Castille

Jones writes:

In 1250, while Saint Louis [Louis IX] was away on crusade, the king’s mother Queen Regent Blanche of Castille donated to Sorbon ‘a house which had belonged to Jean of Orléans and the adjacent stables situated on the Rue Coupe-Gueule, in front of the Palais des Thermes’. On this material basis was founded the college of the Sorbonne, for sixteen poor scholars, in 1253.

I can just see Queen Blanche scheming right now: “Hmmm...while the cat’s away, the mice will start a world renowned university. Yes, yes...”

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

#2: Les femmes de la Rue Pute-y-Muse

Today I salute the women who walked the streets named "Whore-Hides-Here" and "Scabby Whore" (Rue Pute-y-Muse and Impasse Putigneaux, respectively) in 13th and 14th century Paris. These philanthropic women requested to finance a stained glass window in Notre Dame (as had other tradesmen and tradeswomen), but the bishop refused their money. Perhaps he couldn't bear the thought of Church money being laundered through prostitutes only to return once more to Church coffers?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

#1: St. Geneviève

Thirty pages into Colin Jones's intriguing book Paris: The Biography of a City, I am inspired to initiate a daily series honoring interesting women from French history. For each day it takes me to read the near-500 pages of tiny print, I'll profile a woman mentioned in my previous day's reading.

Today: Saint Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, police officers, and air stewards. A strict vegetarian, Geneviève was charged by a bishop with protecting the "sanctity" of Parisian virgins. While interesting, that's hardly the most important credit to her name. She also saved the city from Attila's ravages and ended at least one famine single-handedly. Geneviève also lived to be almost 100 (419-512!), which is surely a noteworthy accomplishment for 5th century France. Vegetarian, virginal, and vitalizing. Not quite Jeanne d'Arc, but she'll do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Wanna Holler

In French, a “détroit” is what we Anglo-parlant folks call a “strait" -- a narrow channel of water that connects two larger bodies of water. At the risk of being make-ya-wanna-vomit symbolic, I like to think that the Detroit Cobras are a channel for connecting two different eras of sound -- older R&B/soul and newer pop/rock. Their albums are endlessly enjoyable (including their new release Baby) and have introduced a number of people to a lot of songs they probably never would have heard (and all that other sappy stuff). But, for me, one lingering question remained -- which Nagy is more talented in the spotlight: Rachel or Charles?

After Friday night's show at the Triple Rock, I can definitely say that the winner is Rachel. Sure, Charles was a 3-time all star, but did he ever have an audience at his fingertips, ready to obey all commands? If he had told the Indians' fans to stop their offensive tomahawk chop, would they have listened? Probably not.

But Friday night, Rachel was in charge. If the audience started to act up, slamming each other a little too hard for her tastes, she'd quiet us down. If the white male half of a multi-racial couple refused to dance with his "hot latte mama" of a girlfriend, Rachel would have given him hell. And when a tall man in the back of the crowd refused to move a muscle or smile, she called him out on it.

Oh yeah, but the music. Well, Rachel dominated that too. Sure, the rest of the band is pretty rocking, but there's really nothing that took my attention away from Rachel and her voice. (And that décolletage-showing button-down. Ahem.) Much like at the Sleater-Kinney show, there were points where I totally forgot myself and couldn't stop jumping around, especially on "Hey Sailor" and "99 and a Half Just Won't Do."

Plus, it’s rare to find a three-band bill that thrice delivers, but this one sure enough did. Chooglin’ performed their first ever show like the seasoned stage vets they are – apparently most of the band is former Midnight Evils. And Reigning Sound followed with a captivating performance, led by Greg Cartwright, who also co-produced the Cobras' new album and appeared on stage as a full-on band member. Their name is also pretty accurate, as the sound emanating from that stage seemed bigger than what three people could produce. Though perhaps a more apt band name woulda been "Hyper-Vibrato Frontman," as Cartwright's entire body shook while he sang, reminiscent of a clarinet or sax reed being attacked by a stream of hot air.

Yeeha, I had a good time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

From Hell to Z

Since my new employers are forcing me to learn more about comics and graphic novels as part of my job -- I know, they're so mean -- I was excited to see and explore IGN's Ultimate Bookshelf of graphic novels, found via CJ. I haven't read many (probably just one, I'm ashamed to confess), but I hope to improve my batting average soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Unsolicited Advice

  • Visit my former housemate Sam's new blog -- Unsolicited Advice. Her choice of url ( hints at the humor that is to be found there.
  • Believe Mark's review of last Saturday's show at the Entry. I mostly agree with it, though I may have enjoyed Spider Fighter more than he did -- I thought their departure from the stage was too abrupt, and I didn't necessarily miss Arzu's vocal hysterics.
  • Experiment with Linda McCartney's vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe, found below. She's dead, ya know, so making this dish is like paying her homage. Do it. But add a middle layer of canned peas or corn for full tastebud acrobatics.

1.5 lbs. potatoes
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1 large onion, chopped
1 4.5 oz. packet TVP mince or 6 veggie burgers, crumbled
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1.5 cups vegetable stock or water (3/4 cup if using veggie burgers)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. (Or not -- why do recipes always ask you to pre-heat before 'tis absolutely necessary?) Boil the potatoes and mash them in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of the butter and enough milk to give a good sticky consistency. Put them to one side.
Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion. Add the TVP mince, soy sauce and vegetable stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste.
If you want a thicker mixture, blend a little flour or vegetable gravy mix with some vegetable stock and add to the sauté. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and cover with the mashed potatoes.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are nice and brown.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Rolling in Harper Lee's Grave

Yesterday I overheard a pubescent boy squeak out the question, "I'm supposed to have a book on hold -- uh, I think it's called How to Kill a Mockingbird?"

Well, I don't think this is exactly the required reading he was looking for, but here's a Flash interpretation of "how to kill a mockingbird."

[NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, I myself haven't viewed said killing, but all internet reviews proclaim that it's hysterical.]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Aural Double Dutch

In Thunder, Lightning, Strike, their 2004 UK release, The Go! Team created the perfect soundtrack to go alongside memories of schoolyard days filled with sidewalk chalk and kickball. Luckily for those of us in the U.S. who balk at import prices, Columbia released the album in the states in early October -- with two bonus tracks! [Also, check out their U.S. website, which is less annoyingly Flash-based and allows you to download the neat icon to your upper left.]

Though less politically motivated than either Northern State or Le Tigre, The Go! Team inspire the same goofy grin and unconscious head-bobbing. Plus, they're more talented samplers and know how to use vocals sparingly and effectively.

"Get It Together" has lazy sunny day anthem written all over it -- until the last 30 seconds kick in and you're forced to your feet, jumping and chanting along. "Junior Kickstart" is what every '70s cop show theme song tried to be. "Friendship Update" is what every '80s cop show theme song tried to be. And "Huddle Formation" is just damn near the best new song I've heard in years.

I'd definitely be going to see them at First Ave. tomorrow night if I wasn't getting out of work three hours after the show starts. I'm crushed; still, I hope my Minneapolis compatriots will go shake their respective booties at the show for me.

NOTE: Today, I've found that in addition to a perfect schoolyard soundtrack, the album nicely accompanies celebratory dances in honor of Harriet Miers’ Supreme Court nomination withdrawal and/or Cheryl Swoopes’ coming out.]

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Final "Final Solution"

Well, I finally got around to reading Michael Chabon's Sherlock Holmes as old man in the countryside pastiche -- The Final Solution: A Story of Detection. My grade: B+.

The mere facts that Chabon used an actual Doyle story title (The Final Solution) for the title of his own novella, and that he is a Pulitzer-Prize winning, mega-popular writer put me ill at ease. I was prepared to wretch and convulse throughout the mere 131 pages at the slightest hint of snobbery or misunderstanding of Holmes's character. Luckily for me (and the pristine pages of the library book), I found no serious cause to hurl.

This was my first Chabon adventure and I discovered what many already know -- this man can write. Anyone who can use the words "echolalia" and "susurrus" without making you flinch or lose your rhythm doth know how to wield a pen. The tale he crafted was sweet, though the mystery itself was tame and somewhat boring. However, unlike Doyle, Chabon consciously pursued character studies rather than intrigue, so perhaps this lack was on purpose.

Now to the big question: was his characterization of an 89-year-old Holmes pure? I'd say relatively so. While I prefer my Holmes strong and spry, any near-nonagenarian has gotta have his creaky bones and slow habits. Chabon gives his "old man" these qualities with a quiet dignity. The role of solitary beekeeper who doesn't actually like honey nicely bridges Doyle's solitary and ironic Holmes into the land of the elderly. I didn't quite appreciate or believe that Holmes would have abandoned all of his vices though. Not that I expected him to still be shooting up coke, but I doubted his antipathy towards any kind of alcohol. The major qualm I had was his overly emotional response to people and situations, particularly his quick and easy attachment to the German boy at the heart of the story and his near breakdown at the sight of post-war London. Oh well.

Just a couple more notes:
1) I hated those goddamn illustrations. They added nothing to the story, and actually detracted from it. Jay Ryan, you ain't no Sidney Paget, and I'm not reading a children's book.
2) Chabon's attempt to slip in references to real Holmes stories bordered on overkill. You actually read all the stories, we get it and believe you.
3) I am still uncertain about the perspective of Chapter 10, but I'm beginning to think I like it. (You'll have to read it for yourself; I hate people who ruin surprise twists.)

So, anyway, I guess I actually recommend this one. Plus, unlike Kavalier and Clay, it's super short and will only suck a few hours from your life.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fit for the Godfather

Like Richard Nixon said, "I am not a cook." I love baking, but anything requiring olive oil rather than vegetable oil is usually out of my domain. However, I was inspired to put away my bundt pans (temporarily) by a recipe for baked ziti with seitan from a Vegetarian Times cookbook. I made it last night and it was tasty. Leftovers tonight were equally pleasing. Here's the recipe in case you want to try for yourself.

12 oz. dried ziti
8 oz. seitan
2 cups button or cremini mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 25-oz. jar tomato sauce
1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained, or low-fat ricotta (I used high-fat ricotta)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 5.5 tsp. dried basil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. olive oil
salt to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. (That's a lie. Preparation takes a while; no need to preheat yet.)
2. Heat pot of lightly salted H2O over medium heat and cook pasta. Drain & set aside.
3. Chop the seitan and mushrooms until coarse and crumbly. (That's the seitan that should be crumbly, not the mushrooms.) Put the mixture in a large saucepan, stir in the tomato sauce and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Put the tofu, basil, lemon juice, 2 tsp. of oil, pepper and salt into a food processor or blender, and process until the consistency resembles ricotta. If using ricotta, mix by hand.
5. Spread several Tbsp. of the tomato-seitan mixture in a 13x9 inch baking dish, making sure to evenly coat the bottom and sides to prevent sticking. Combine the pasta, tofu mixture, the remaining tomato-seitan mixture and parsley. Fold gently to combine all the ingredients. Spread evenly into the baking dish.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through. (Or until you've dealt with the blaring smoke alarm and turned the oven back on.) Remove from the oven, and serve hot to Don Corleone.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lost Twin Cities

I recently watched the second installment of TPT's "Lost Twin Cities" series from the mid-'90s, based on Larry Millett's book by the same name. (Yes, the same Larry Millett who gets my hackles up whenever I think about his Sherlock Holmes stories.) While the segments about Northwest's Stratocruiser and the downfall of Porky's Drive-Ins were boringly quaint, the series really delivered when it described the tragedy of lost architecture in St. Paul and the racial unity (however brief it was) around jazz at the Treasure Inn.

Treasure Inn sax player Percy Hughes wistfully described the turning point in the Inn's life:

There was an argument. And all of a sudden there were gunshots. And I remember kneeling behind, of all things, my music stand, which wouldn't stop a bullet. No way! And a dear friend of mine was killed. He was shot. And my heart just went out to Dick and Claude and Howard [the club's owners]. But to see a club, black and white and everyone just enjoying, there's a beautiful message there. We need more messages like that right now.

The most heartbreaking segment was about the callous destruction by St. Paul officials of the culture and homes at Swede Hollow on the east side of the city. Tucked away in a ravine that you can only access through an old railroad tunnel -- and towered over by brewer magnate Theodore Hamm's mansion -- Swede Hollow was the home of numerous waves of immigrants who couldn't afford to live anywhere else. Sure, the Hollow probably wasn't the safest or healthiest place to live, but why slash and burn (quite literally, by the way) when you could help the residents build safe homes up to public health standards instead of shipping them all off to apartments?

On the upside, at least Minneapolis' Urban Adventurers, the Action Squad, have found pleasure in exploring the abandoned ruins of Hamm's Brewery. Until the brewery gets razed by the city, that is.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Frankly, Big Papi, I Don't Give a Damn

It’s Oscar time for baseball. Soon, overly muscular men will strut their stuff on the red carpet of the media (or at least sports journalists and the players’ PR reps will) to prove why each one is or is not deserving of the Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year awards. These awards seem as meaningful to me as a juicy filet mignon sitting on my plate -- not very. I can never remember who won the previous year’s awards, nor do I care to.

But I am intrigued by the debate stirred up this year (and in past years too, I’m sure) about the relative merit of giving the MVP award to a DH rather than to a player who participates on both offense and defense. Fans and journalists are pledging their allegiance either to Alex Rodriguez or David Ortiz for the AL MVP; most for Rodriguez are citing Big Papi's less than frequent stints on defense. Despite my Red Sox love, I don't really care who wins. But if pinned down to choose, of course I'd say Ortiz. The argument (thank you Scott Miller) kinda goes like this:

Normally, I subtract points for a designated hitter. I know the argument -- hey, it's in the rules that a guy can use the stick but not his glove -- but a DH still is not a complete player. However, Ortiz has been so money for the Red Sox over the past two seasons -- and particularly this year -- that I believe his summer has been special enough to warrant the award. Of his 47 home runs, 20 have either tied the game or put the Red Sox ahead. As Ortiz himself might say, that's a lot of clutch homers, bro.

Beyond what this discussion means for the MVP debate (cause I don't care, remember?), I'm more interested in the potential implications for Hall of Fame inductions, which I do care about. In 2003, when the debate was raging about Edgar Martinez, I remember staunchly refusing him a ticket to Cooperstown by arguing that as a DH he didn't belong. Now I realize that what I meant to argue was that EdMar shouldn't be in the Hall because of his lack of stellar accomplishments, not because of his position.

If Ted Williams had been a DH and hit in the same way, I would have wanted him to be inducted. Same with Pete Rose. (Oh, right.) Just cause you're a DH doesn't mean you can't be the most valuable player or Hall of Fame caliber. It just means you have to be pretty damn awesome to overcome the fact that you're sitting on the bench for more than half the game. I think Ortiz has it in him to do just that.

[Oh, and since I mentioned it, I may as well officially say on record that Pete Rose has my backing to be in the Hall of Fame. Anything he did while a manager isn't any more greedy or harmful to baseball than any number of moves made by players, coaches, and managers nearly every day. He just got caught. It shouldn't affect his status as one of the greatest players of all time. (In 1999 Sporting News selected him as the 25th Greatest Baseball Player, ahead of Sandy Koufax, Tris Speaker, Rod Carew, Mel Ott, and Yogi Berra, among others.) Hell, they let violent assholes into the Hall, so why not a gambler?]

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

You Mean I Can't Buy Condoms with That?

Congratulations to Dr. Dora Mills, Director of Maine's Bureau of Health, and Governor John Baldacci for continuing to refuse federal abstinence-only "sex education" money. Their decision has brought the grand total of states that refuse to take such funds to a whopping three; Pennsylvania and California complete the trio.

Unfortunately, Dr. Mills (and future state funding for the Bureau of Health) are now under attack by conservative members of the state legislature:

"First of all, the bureau's director, Dr. Dora Mills, is not a policymaker or elected, like legislators, so I continue to object to policy being made by bureaucrats," [State Sen. Debra D.] Plowman said. "Second, I hope that she's going to find that $161,000 somewhere in her budget to continue the program she has been involved in, because we're not making it up. So she best not be asking for any increases in her budget next year, or the two years after that for that matter. If she can unilaterally turn away money, then she can't be in too difficult circumstances. She, and the governor, should have run that one by the Legislature."

Aside from the petty linguistic criticism of Plowman's contention that one can make a unilateral bureaucratic decision in conjunction with a state elected official (the Guv at that!), this quote is pure schoolyard battle drivel. "She best not be asking me for an Oreo after thumbing her nose at Mrs. Smith's Soft Batch chocolate chip cookie yesterday." What, is Debra Plowman 9 years old?

Of course, I'm anti-abstinence-only funding, so I'd agree with Mills's and Baldacci's decision regardless of the conservative response. But if I were a Maine resident and read Plowman's asinine threats, I'd be incensed that this woman was ever elected to the legislature. Mills wasn't overstepping her bounds as a bureau director by acting in conjunction with the Administration to refuse that funding. She was being smart and principled and demonstrating that not all state officials are out for more federal money to stuff their own coffers.

Monday, September 26, 2005

La Haîne

Here are some folks who recently have received spit-laced invectives for committing various "crimes," some great, some small, and some imaginary. You decide which is which.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Walk, Don't Run to the Playoffs

For other ailing Red Sox fans out there, I have a temporary cure for your playoff worries: the toe-tap inducing guitar-and-drum goodness of The Challengers. It's hard to find an objective history of the band, but check out bassist Randy Nauert's nifty summary and Challengers Cartoon Book.

Though not the most famous of the surf rock bands of the '60s, these guys knew how to play the genre well and outplayed some of the original bands on the very tunes that made them so famous (The Ventures and The Surfaris, to name just two). Seriously, check out The Challengers' version of "Wipeout." It may stave off fears about the Red Sox, who are in danger of doing just that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You gotta have balls to call 'em

Do you go to a French restaurant expecting the head chef to have been born and raised in Provence? Or are you more concerned that the chef cooks your “moules avec frites” to perfection? According to “Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime” by Jean Hastings Ardell, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL) demonstrated its allegiance to pure French ethnicity in a 1968 lawsuit concerning the contract of Bernice “Bernie” Gera, one of the few female umpires to break even the single A ranks of professional baseball:

Leisure [the NAPBL Wall Street-trained lawyer] likened the NABL’s need for male umpires to that of a French restaurant’s need for a French chef or a religious organization’s preference for a salesman of its own creed.

Hmm...isn't an employer hiring based on preferences for her/his own group characteristics illegal (in theory, anyway)? The New York State Human Rights Commission agreed that it was, and Gera eventually did win the battle -- after 5 years of stress and attorney fees. So, how come the situation of female umpires in professional baseball has not improved since Gera’s case almost 40 years ago?

For example, Pam Postema – who had accumulated 12 years of professional umpiring experience, including 6 in triple A – was set for a historical promotion to the majors in 1988. However, after a controversial media attack against her led by born-again Christian/ Houston Astros pitcher Bob Knepper, Postema was “released” from her duties for ejecting too many people and a “worsening” attitude. [Insiders knowingly blamed these foibles on a bad case of PMS, I'm sure.] Postema's fate was sealed by a tell-all expose of major league baseball (which I've gotta read) and questions surrounding her sexuality. She would never call a game in the majors -- and neither would any other woman.

It is true that Postema's goal eluded her and that few women followed in her path. Melvin Driskoll, of Jim Evans's Academy of Professional Umpiring, said they have a hard time attracting women. [Do they even try?] Between 1977 and 2002, thirteen women attended Harry Wendelstedt's school, with only Postema and Theresa Cox making it into the minor leagues.

If professional experts are supposed to reflect their charges or clientele, can someone explain why so many women’s basketball/ hockey/ volleyball/ curling coaches are men? Or why so many gynecologists and obstetricians are men? Cause last time I checked, men don’t have vaginas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

But It's Only 10 Miles from I-80

Since Mark has already brilliantly documented the highlights of our semi-cross country trek, here are the coulda-been highlights -- if we had had two more weeks to make the journey and a shitload of money:

Our first tangential stop was to Wheatland -- "Where Presidential History Comes to Life." Oh boy, and did it ever. I will never forget traipsing through the rooms that once housed James Buchanan.

We then headed west to Altoona, PA to visit the famous horseshoe curve. I had been there before, but wanted to ride that crazy "Funicular" again.

A couple hours into our trip, we stopped at Frank Lloyd Wright's classic woodsy architectural haven, Fallingwater. I bought this T-shirt.

Next, Mark wanted to stop at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. We spent a couple hours gazing at Marilyn and a bunch of soup cans and then combed through the archives.

In our continuing search for presidential paraphernelia, we had barely crossed the border into Ohio before hitting the McKinley Memorial Library and Museum. We even got to sit next to McKinley, who was daintily perched on a red velvet couch.

After leaving McKinley behind, we hightailed it to Cedar Point Park, where two full days were spent riding roller coasters. We probably felt a combined 500 G's pushing and lifting and generally propelling our bodies in all directions. I left a happy woman.

At this point, we decided to make a beeline for Minneapolis, and only allowed ourselves one more (ridiculously expensive) stop -- at Taliesin, the Wright house and compound located in Spring Green, WI. Super pretty and worth the money if you happen to have it bulging out of your wallet.

Aaahhh...then home once again.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tennis Rocket Battles

Dear Lord. And to think Andre Agassi used to be at the top of my "I hate you" list.

Agassi over Blake 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

I sure wish Pete were still playing, so we could compare their mid-30s tennis capabilities. And their adorable schlockiness:

At 1:15 in the morning for 20,000 people to still be here, I wasn't the winner, tennis was.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Stalled at the Start

How is a person supposed to start boxing up books and clothes when the fascinating U.S. Open match between Rafael "I-can't-decide-if-I-prefer-black-or-white-capris" Nadal and James "Thank-God-my-face-is-no-longer-paralyzed" Blake is taking place?

Blake's currently serving at 5-4 for the first set after having just broken Nadal. Oh, what I wouldn't do for Blake's inside-out forehand.

Blake just won the first set. Please let him knock that pretty Spaniard out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hometown Pride

In honor of the anniversary of the first day of the Great Textile Strike in Woonsocket (Sept. 1, 1934), take a look at this Illustrated Timeline of Woonsocket Labor History. Those fiesty Canucks!

I am also proud to report that the University of Minnesota library has the book published by the Industrial Trades Union of America that is pictured at left.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Snoozin' Song Tag

Okay, so Bob Mould didn't exactly tag me personally, but I've visited his Whole Foods a couple times in the past week and maybe I touched a nectarine that he gently nudged with his knuckle while reaching for the grapes...

Here's the deal: List ten songs you currently are obsessing over -- any genre, any format, etc. If you have a blog, do it there; if you don't, do it here. Then tag five people or so. Here are my songs, in no particular order:

Arcade Fire: Wake Up
Kleenex/Liliput: You
Rufus Wainwright: One Man Guy
Bikini Kill: Feels Blind
Will Smith: Switch
Imperial Teen: Teacher's Pet
The Go-Betweens: Heart and Home
Missy Elliott: Lose Control
Guns N' Roses: Mr. Brownstone
The Positions: Back to Me

Okay: Mark, Eli, Jon, Ezra & Alex, Kate & Eden, Emily, CJ, Ross, and Liz -- consider your nectarines gently nudged by my knuckles.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ride Again, $4 & Stall Humor

While I didn't exactly approach Michael Boodley's Bastille Day, 1975 record-setting performance of 1,000 consecutive rides on the Coney Island Cyclone [pictured left], I did experience the historic wooden coaster's brilliance twice in a row this past weekend. Who knew that a coaster that began operating in 1927 could be so damn exciting! I guess I would expect nothing less from "perhaps the most famous roller coaster of all time."

The Cyclone's notorious first drop (of 85 feet at a ridiculously steep 60 degree angle) was phenomenal. Then, for a blessed one minute and 50 seconds (covering 2,650 feet along the way), you're whipped around six 180 degree turns, 18 track crossovers, and a whopping 27 changes of direction. I left with bruises and the next day woke up with sore muscles. Of course, I wouldn't have my wooden roller coasters any other way. I feel perfectly content with skipping Cedar Point now.

Also while in NY, I ran across the funniest bathroom stall graffiti conversation I've seen in quite a while:

Drunk woman #1: I hate those damn Red Sox, except for that Mike Timlin, who is H-O-T.
Drunk woman #2: I'm with you, except mine is Brian Daubach. Woo hoo!
Drunk woman #3: The Red Sox rule! MLB Champs 2005!
Drunk woman #4: The Red Sox can go fuck themselves! Yankees rule! They were just throwing the Red Sox a bone!

Wow, where to begin? First, I love that there was a drunken baseball debate happening in a women's bathroom stall. This makes me happy.

Second, I need to point out that Yankees fans have, uh, interesting taste in men. Timlin and Daubach? These certainly can't be the same fans who drool over Jeter.

Third, just throwing the Red Sox a bone? Then what are they doing this year? Setting a big juicy steak in front of us? Cause it sure looks to me like the Sox are going to win the Division, and that the Yankees are in a 3-way tie for first in the Wild Card race. Red Sox rule!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Throwing Asymptosy

Umm...take a look at the new Throwing Music Blog. Now, I know there are blogger templates and all that, but I distinctly remember screwing around with different color combos before settling on this design.

Also, note the hip new TM home page, as well as the exciting news about more "Free Music" in the works. Plus Kristin's working on a new solo album AND a 2nd edition of "Murder, Misery and then Goodnight". What a way to start my morning. I love this woman.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hatching and Strippling

After my weekend trip to the National Building Museum, I am convinced some part of me was an architect in the 18th or 19th century. Their current exhibition, Tools of the Imagination, made my blood pressure rise, my eyeballs explode, and my latent kleptomania emerge. You can see some of the beautiful instruments as part of an exhibition flyer. Here are the tools I especially wanted to swipe:

1) Four-layer magazine case: Who doesn't want to keep all of their architectural implements in a nickel silver bound burr walnut case?

2) Beam compass: Or, in this case, a "microscopic" beam compass.

3) Ellipsograph, or trammel, if you will. If you get really skilled with it, you're even allowed to join the Elliptical Turning Association. No joke.

4) Perspectograph: Which can be used to make fancy perspective drawings of houses, such as this or this.

5) Volutor: That Andrew Kay is a genius.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Buckeye Battle

Mark nicely summarizes a current debate we are having over Ohio cultural attractions. Though it is kinda lopsided, in that he has choices 'a'-'e' and I'm left with meager old 'f'. My mom has already told me she's with Mark on this one, despite those presidents being "the most boring ever." Which would you pick?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Crisis at 357 Park Place

I attended Woonsocket Middle School from September 1991 to June 1994 -- and they were the three happiest years I spent in school. One would think middle school would be absolute torture for tomboyish, corpulent, adolescent girls, but I loved my time there.

It's amazing how much things can change in a mere 10 years. The descriptions of the school's current state in 2005 from this Providence Journal 5-part series do not ring true to me at all. I guess I sensed things were changing at the middle school when I was in high school and heard stories from my friends' younger siblings. But this?

Woonsocket Middle School -- New England's largest -- has been called a labyrinth, a jungle, a danger zone, and even a haven.

The complex, which covers a city block larger than a football field, is full of snaking hallways, storage closets turned into classrooms, and shadowy stairways known to disorient even the heartiest visitor.This year alone, faulty intercoms, broken bathrooms, corroding pipes, and cockroaches have disrupted learning and eroded morale.

School days are frequently interrupted with arrests, fights, and violent confrontations. Three months ago, a teacher was arrested for hitting a student. Last year, 13 students were suspended for assaulting teachers and 170 students were suspended for assaulting each other.

In 1998, a student was raped in a stairwell. In 2001, another student was sexually assaulted by a gym teacher.

The school is so volatile, teachers feel it is more important to take 10 to 15 minutes out of academic time twice a day for escorted bathroom breaks rather than risk what might happen if they allowed children to tackle the bathroom trips on their own.

Now, sure, there really is nothing unique about this situation. There are bad schools around the country, many much worse than this. Woonsocket surely isn't the only community where parents are yanking their kids out of public school to go to uptight Catholic ones. And teachers clash with an ever-changing repertoire of administrators everywhere. So what's the big deal?

Well, I guess what really disturbs me is how fast the school became an absolute quagmire. To me, it epitomizes the complete disinvestment in public schools that's happening around the country, particularly in urban settings that have experienced recent waves of immigration and only seem to be getting poorer. (According to this article, 32% of Woonsocket Middle School students live in poverty and 61% come from low income families.)

In a recent conversation with someone familiar with urban New England school settings, it was agreed that investment in schools alone is not enough. The ailing schools are merely a consequence of a community that's suffering in a myriad of other ways. So do you start trying to repair the city's economy before the schools? Do you attempt a simultaneous fix? I guess that's what I went to policy school to try to figure out, but hell if I know.

Perhaps the one concrete recommendation that jumps out to me is to build another school -- this structure is clearly too small and old to hold all these kids. Woonsocket is far from being the largest city in New England, so there's no reason for it to have the largest middle school. Split the school in half, have smaller class sizes, you know the drill.

Fat 6th graders who like to wear plaid blazers should feel comfortable at Woonsocket Middle School, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't in 2005. Kids who hate going home at night should have a reprieve during the day at Woonsocket Middle School, and it sure sounds like the nightmare only continues.

Teachers, administrators: learn to get along and friggin' figure out what the hell to do with the students. Mayor, City Council, community leaders: you're no longer a mill town filled with Canucks, Italians, and Irish folk. The population's changed, so get with the program and serve your constituents -- yeah, even the ones who don't have money.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Andy Roddick's Jaime Yzaga

I'll never forget the 1994 U.S. Open because of a Peruvian tennis player named Jaime Yzaga. My favorite netsman, Pete Sampras, had had a rough year and ended up losing to Yzaga in the fourth round. I was devastated. How could Pete lose to someone I had never heard of before? My friend (and 6th grade crush) Carlos sensed my distress and taunted me with the name Jaime Yzaga for years. (Little did I know that Yzaga also had dealt Pete his first ever U.S. Open loss -- in 1988!)

This devastating memory was jogged tonight as I watched Andy Roddick lose rather handily to Paul-Henri Mathieu a mere two days after Roddick won the Legg Mason here in D.C. Mathieu's performance was incredible, culminating in a scrambling point on his serve that ended with Mathieu running down a Roddick volley for a desperate forehand winner. It was amazing.

I like Roddick enough, and I loved Pete Sampras. But I imagine it being infinitely more satisfying to walk onto a tennis court and beat someone who everyone is expecting to kill you than to walk onto a tennis court and fulfill everyone's expectation that you're going to win.

Guaranteed Roddick will come out firing in next week's tournament. No one likes to learn the Yzaga lesson.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Eli has already posted about this on Expecting Rain, but I like to brag about highlight the talents of my friends. Check out the last paragraph of this NY Times article by Robert Strauss.

[Update: You now have to purchase the article to read the last paragraph. Basically, the article describes the award for humor fiction writing that Strauss established at Carleton, and that Eli is the only winner of the award he has ever met. And that Eli won two years in a row. And that one of Eli's winning stories pondered whether or not dogs could be Jewish.]

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Design Like You Give a Damn

Thanks to a profile in the Washington Post, I've discovered one of the neatest non-profit organizations ever -- Architecture for Humanity. Co-founded by practical idealists Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, AFH is committed to promoting "architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises."

AFH is working on tsunami reconstruction in Asia, improvement of "tent cities" for refugees and internally displaced persons, and construction of soccer pitches in South Africa with a focus on the pitch as a place of community gathering for HIV/AIDS prevention.

These folks ain't after the Gehry or Calatrava glamour -- they're not making much (if any) money. But they understand that not only wealthy people deserve thoughtful, ecologically sound, aesthetically pleasing design. Hats are off, guys and gals.

Friday, August 05, 2005

There Go Those Liberal Colleges Again

Who knew that since 1986 Hampshire College has been home to such a valuable resource as the Population and Development Program? In a cursory glance at their online materials, I've already explored "10 Reasons Why Militarism is Bad for Queer People" and "Why the Hispanic Challenge Should Be Discredited." Take that Samuel Huntington (whose incendiary article "The Hispanic Challenge" is available online if you register for free at Foreign Policy).

Hampshire is also home to yet another phenomenal center -- the Civil Liberties and Policy Program. CLPP hosts an annual reproductive rights conference and organizes a National Day of Action that sounds pretty damn cool. Those lucky kids...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

He'll Flip Ya For Real

Sometimes, but not often, Hollywood does pick the right movies to sequelize. Several reports indicate that Kevin Spacey has signed on to reprise his Keyser Soze/Verbal Kint stint from The Usual Suspects!

It appears as though an Australian barista started the rumor. I guess Kevin trusts her to make his coffee, so she must be telling the truth, right? Right? Don't burst my bubble. My team of monkeys can beat your team of monkeys.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Spinning Wheel

Friday, July 22, 2005

No Bugs Sucka!

This is one of the best pictures of me ever taken! I wish I could have protective netting surrounding me 24 hours a day, so no evil spiders ever invaded my personal space. Thanks, Ross!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

DTWOF: The Blog

Comic genius Alison Bechdel (whose Carleton book-signing I staffed!) has her own blog! Check out Dykes to Watch Out For: The Blog -- the new hot spot loaded with super-cool dyke talk and previews of new DTWOF strips. [Found via Blogs by Women.]

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Egg Cream

I am at work at 8:19 p.m. and desperately craving an egg cream. Apparently, people spend their time theorizing about the origin of the egg cream or about the origin of its curiously innacurate name. If I only had my hands on the proper ingredients, I would make this recipe, or this recipe, or this recipe, or this recipe...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

United Feminists of America

According to a Washington Post article published in today's edition, feminists long ago formed a union and created a "Code of Conduct for Honorable Feminists." Well, that's not exactly what the article said, but it may as well have.

Surely your average successful lawyer has faced this dilemma: give up a career or take care of the family. But not the Chief Woman Lawyer of America -- she shouldn't quit to take care of her family, should she? What kind of message does that send? "I was on a radio show and someone called in to say, 'Would we ever see a man retire to take care of his spouse?'" says Suzanna Sherry, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who has written about O'Connor. "This is why she's never been considered a feminist's feminist. A feminist would say: 'Well, why would she do that?'"

Rule of the Code #1: Care about no one. Feminists (even 75 year old ones) are not allowed to leave their jobs to take care of any family member. Thou shalt maintain your professional standing until you die.

Corollary to Rule of the Code #1: Men never care about other people, so why should we? Men would never retire from their jobs to take care of an ailing family member. Remember that.

Her public persona in Washington was maternal, nurturing, genteel, soft. She let her granddaughter write a book about her featuring a picture on the cover of the two of them holding a teddy bear. On her clerks' door she left a Xerox of her hand with a note that read "For a pat on the back, lean here."

Rule of the Code #2: Hate stuffed animals.

Corollary to Rule of the Code #2: Be hard; do not support anyone else.

Now, I am certainly not the softest gal on the block, but I would like to think I could keep my feminist union card if ever I chose to leave a job to take care of a lover in ill health. I also would like to maintain that card in the highly unlikely event that I had a grandchild and decided to pose with it and a teddy bear. Insinuating that O'Connor would never be embraced by feminists because of loving her husband or grandchildren is ridiculous.

Not all feminists are harsh, single-minded, and selfish. Sticking with one's job is also not harsh, single-minded, and selfish. Not all men are harsh, single-minded, and selfish. Articles written from such a perspective (even if in the Style section) perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes.

And if you believe that all feminists think alike and would define feminism in the same way, I invite you to my office some time. It's a supremely blissful environment with absolutely no conflict ever.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Modern Girl

Dear Carrie:

I just wanted to let you know that the perfomance of Sleater-Kinney last night at the 9:30 Club was one of the most intoxicating, high-flying concert experiences of my life. You own the distinction of being only the second musician to ever cause tears to well up in my eyes upon first glance or first guitar chord. No joke. I've understood the fervor of S-K fandom ever since first buying your records; now I truly get why you, Janet & Corin are idolized.

From the opening riff of "The Fox" to the blistering closing rendition of "Dig Me Out," you were stellar. And I can't thank you enough for the cathartic experience of watching you spit out the lyrics to one of the band's all-time greatest songs, "Modern Girl." It was vitriolic and I needed that.

Other highlights included chanting "Oh, you've got the darkest eyes" during "One More Hour" and getting slammed around during the energetic cover of Danzig's "Mother." And no doubt "Rollercoaster" is bound to become one of your concert anthems for years to come. Other tracks from The Woods played well live too -- "Wilderness," "Jumpers," and especially "Entertain." That song rocked!

One thing sure needs to be said -- you and your bandmates were definitely in finer form than the lackadaisical crowd (with the notable exception of the shaved-headed lass and short 40-yr old man who entertained [and pushed] me throughout).

Please make sure Janet's snare and Corin's vocal chords are okay. They both took a mighty beating last night. And tell Janet I'd like her arms.

-Sarah D.

P.S. Also pass on to the boys who opened for you that they were fully loud and semi-compelling, but need to understand that they haven't reached the realm of "jam-ability" yet. They should stick to their discrete, linear songs (which alternately sounded like Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, and the Clash -- sometimes even within the same tune) rather than waste the audience's time with jamming that grew to sound lazy and was stiflingly boring. Maybe you should give the preppy twins and the erstwhile pirate (Redbeard!) a lesson on how to jam without putting the crowd to sleep?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Orgasm Addict

Now that I have your attention, my monthly excursion to Revolution Records turned up a couple treasures:

1) The Buzzcocks: Singles Going Steady -- I bought the cassette tape of this compilation from a Coconuts record store in Franklin, MA when I was 17 or 18. It was a little too hard for me then, but it's just damn perfect now. (Hey, I was coming off a year or two of listening solely to classical music.) Between "Orgasm Addict," "What Do I Get?" and "Noise Annoys," I am in aural heaven. [Orgasm, aural, get it? Sometimes I'm so 14-yr old boy-ish.]

2) Me'shell NdegeOcello: Plantation Lullabies -- After reading a Washington Post article about this hot maven of the bass, I had to get an album. I was initially turned off by the sticker exhorting the buyer to pronounce her last name ("say it: 'n- DAY -Gay -O -CHELLO'") but decided to get over it. The appealing song titles overcame my initial hesitation: "I'm Diggin' You (Like an Old Soul Record)," "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)," "Shoot'n Up and Gett'n High," and "Dred Loc."

Turn it up.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Call of the Lakes

Last night I attended a farewell gathering for some fellow Humphreyites who (much like myself) had ventured out to the policy world of Washington, D.C., fully doe-eyed and greener than Shinnecock. Well, as a few of us have discovered, the land of 10,000 lobbyists is not nearly as satisfying a place to live as the land of 10,000 lakes. A fellow New Englander was also in attendance and so turned to me to explain this indescribable allure of the Twin Cities and its environs. While I could come up with some concrete examples of its brilliance, I must have sounded like a blathering idiot. Cause for the most part, in my comparison between D.C. and the T.C., tangible factors did not really play into it. It's more the general "feel" of the place and the people. The general laid back vibe versus the hyper-competitive, "Let's-define-you-by-your-job" vibe. The general "It's okay for you not to shave your legs" sentiment versus "Dear, God, she's not wearing nylons" sentiment. But, there are certainly some tangibles, as well. And here they are:

  • The Walker and the M.I.A. and the Weisman vs. the Smithsonians, the National Building Museum, the National Gallery of Art, etc., etc.: Now, I know what you're going to say: How can Minneapolis possibly win in the museum category? OK, well, I guess it really can't. The Building Museum is probably the most serene, exquisite, and interesting museum I've ever been to. I love to sit in the expansive hall and read -- certainly not something I'd be caught doing in the Walker. Still, for the sheer size of the city, Minneapolis' museums are quite impressive and are more than enough to keep a less than museum-savvy gal happy. And -- due to recent shake-ups at the Corcoran -- D.C. is still without a Gehry. Score one for the T.C.
  • The C.C. Club vs. ??: Yeah, it's kind of sad that there is not one bar in D.C. that I feel comfortable comparing to the C.C. Club. The dog-eat-dog D.C. thang seems to preclude the existence of any truly chill bar with a good juke box that isn't some fancy new computerized beast. Whereas, C.C.'s jukebox is full of jewels. And they serve Leinie's Honeyweiss, which D.C.'s Brickskellar can't even boast. Add in the musical history of the C.C. Club (scroll down for C.C. goodness), and it's just magical.
  • Metro Transit vs. Metro: OK, neither's a gem, but let's see, an hour long ride below ground vs. an hour long ride weaving your way through the Cities? I'll take the bus. Sure, D.C. also has buses, but I have heard enough horror stories to know that they are NOT reliable. AT least not in the way that I was always able to count on my 1 a.m. bus home after my shifts at Marshall Field's.

  • The Twins vs. the Nationals: The Nats are certainly growing on me. And the Metrodome is one of the very few MLB stadiums that is a worse baseball venue than R.F.K. But, I will always be an American League woman. Give me whichever team provides the greater chance of my being able to see the Sox. (That's the Twins, for you baseball novices.)

  • Blue Moon and Vera's and Anodyne and Hard Times and Caffeto and the Urban Bean and Pandora's and Heavenly Daze and ... vs. Starbucks and Lawson's: Please, need I say more? Sure, D.C. also has Murky Coffee, which has the right atmosphere, but the iced coffee has never impressed me. And, it's SO far away!

  • The Wedge Co-op versus Takoma Park/Silver Spring Co-op: The Wedge is bigger (though I've never visited the SS branch of TPSS) and has a better selection. I do enjoy the quaintness of the Takoma Park store (the Wedge is sometimes uber-crowded), but it really can't compete. The Wedge has fancy juices and smoothies, bad-ass vegan carrot and cheesecake, and sea beans! ;-)
Other personal reasons aside, isn't it clear why one would want to move back to Minneapolis?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

JFK & Lincoln Got Nothin'

Say what you will about the supposedly impressive "similarities" between the lives of JFK and Lincoln -- there's a much more exciting comparison to be made between fictional leading men MacGyver and Sherlock Holmes. There are certainly more than six comparisons, but, hey, I'm not writing a thesis, so this will have to suffice. If anyone can come up with some others, please let me know.
  1. Pete (RIP Dana Elcar) = Watson
  2. Murdoc = Moriarty
  3. Houseboat = 221B Baker Street
  4. Nikki = Irene Adler
  5. Hockey = Boxing
  6. Harry Jackson = Mycroft

Friday, June 10, 2005

Happy F'n 40th Griswold

The landmark Supreme Court case giving (married) women right to privacy in their birth control decisions, Griswold v. Connecticut, turned 40 this week. While the case (in conjunction with the Eisenstadt v. Baird case in 1972 that extended the right to single women) has been important in terms of women's reproductive rights and health, let's not get too hyped about this over-the-hill celebration.

The attack on this fundamental right (and women's sexual behavior) is steadily increasing in state legislatures and pharmacies across the country, as this Guttmacher Institute fact sheet demonstrates. Yet, men's sexual behavior continues to be encouraged and federally FUNDED -- even if you are a sex offender, as was widely reported in the past few weeks.

But, the Viagra/sex offender scandal is just one of many instances of governmentally approved sex - if you have a penis. Of course, governments aren't the only entities working to boost male sex drives while firmly ignoring women's. Corporations are busy R&Ding new drugs & products to get it up, prolong, enhance, improve, increase sensitivity, etc.

In her most recent column in The Nation, Katha Pollitt addresses this double standard:

The only new birth control method coming up soon is actually a nostalgia item, the Today sponge, beloved by Seinfeld's Elaine, which will be returning to drugstores later this year. Two decades into the AIDS epidemic, the only woman-controlled means of protection against HIV--now the leading cause of death among black women age 25-34--is the aesthetically repulsive, cumbersome and hard-to-find female condom. Hormone replacement therapy, promoted since the 1950s as the fountain of feminine youth and sexual vitality, looks to be mostly hype, with the possibility of heart attack, stroke and breast or ovarian cancer.

And what about sex aids for women? Where's that female Viagra they're always promising us? Most newspapers didn't even report that in December an FDA panel turned down Procter & Gamble's application for Intrinsa, a testosterone patch intended to raise libido in women whose ovaries have been removed. The problem wasn't that Intrinsa didn't work (the panel voted 14 to 3 that the manufacturers' trials showed a meaningful improvement in desire and pleasure); the issue was health risks as well as the potential for "off-label use" by women who had simply lost their mojo. A "lifestyle drug" for women! Can't have that.

So, Happy 40th, Griswold. We hardly know ye.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hot & Sticky Extraction of Daughters of Sappho

A few random items:

1. The humidity that plagues Washington, D.C. each year is rearing its ugly head. Beer bottles are sweating, children are crying, and I'm ready to die.

2. I went to the dentist this morning and was told to say goodbye to my wisdom teeth. Too bad, cause I'd grown to like my third molars.

3. There's an awesome episode of "All in the Family" on right now about a local election. It's already discussed corporate welfare, women running for political office, and gay & lesbian politics. I miss Meathead and Archie.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Terrorism v. Feminism

Barbara Ehrenreich has a fascinating take (at AlterNet) on countering terrorism with feminism. I guarantee that some of her strategies (supporting girls' education worldwide, revoking the global gag rule, etc.) would do a hell of a lot more than simply eradicate terrorism. They would improve the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Carrilo-McCarver Syndrome

There seems to be a never-ending stream of star athletes or wannabe star athletes who feel it is their post-athletic career duty to squawk on national television as a commentator. In most cases, this sense of duty is a selfish desire to stay involved in the game and impart their vast wisdom to the viewing public. Also in most cases, fulfilling this duty is a mistake that causes many TV spectators either to become intimate with the mute button, or to stick a fork in their eyes. The following hacks are the folks who most inspire me to search for a cure for the Carrillo-McCarver Syndrome.

1. Mary Carillo - This woman may be a big proponent of women in sports, but her voice is grating, her analysis is obvious, and she's so obnoxious that I've had to learn to enjoy tennis without being able to hear the ball being thwacked. I'll only listen to a match that Carillo is anouncing if John McEnroe's sarcastic and thoughtful banter is around to counteract her.

2. Tim McCarver - Clearly a talented baseball player in his day, but he needs his mouth to be stapled shut while the camera is rolling. Who awarded this man 3 Emmy Awards for "Best Sportscaster/Analyst"? His mom?

3. Bill Walton - I'll put Bill on the list in honor of the conversation that inspired this post in the first place. Honestly, it's the man's toothy smile that drives me batty more than anything else.

4. John Madden & Pat Summerall - Since they're a team and all, they get ranked as a team. They deserved each other. But, I'm glad to hear Summerall's found Christ. The "Lost Christ" flyers posted in my neighborhood were getting annoying.

There are certainly more horrifyingly bad sports commentators, but I'm going to go watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Jams and Gams

I think I have finally recovered from Martha Wainwright's brilliant and goofy performance Monday night at Iota: Recovered from her searing vocals that at points bordered on bursting your eardrums. Recovered from the stunning renditions of some of my favorite tracks from her new CD, including "When the Day is Short," "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole," "Factory," and "Ball and Chain." And recovered from the adorable black tennis dress that left her standing on stage "half naked," as she described herself. When's she coming to town again?

Oh yes, and don't forget to go vote for her bro as "Best New Act" in the Mojo Honours List. If only to mock the fact that his first CD was released seven years ago in 1998!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Down Under Vaccine

Australian scientists have developed a vaccine to protect women from cervical cancer and expect it to be available late next year.

Cervical cancer is one of the few human cancers known to be directly caused by the viral infection, human papillomavirus (HPV) and up to 70 per cent of sexually active women become infected during their lifetime.

HPV causes about 470,000 cervical cancer cases worldwide a year, killing 274,000 women.

Trials of the drug Gardasil reported in the British medical journal Lancet Oncology reported it cut HPV infection rates by 90 per cent.
--From a Courier-Mail article

Hot damn this is good news! Shouldn't this have been the lead story or editorial in every newspaper over the weekend?

Monday, May 02, 2005


If you want to prove your diamond knowledge, take this test and submit your answers. If you get more than 34 points (out of a possible 36), you are a bigger baseball nerd than Jon, who is currently in first. [Honorable mentions go to Eli (33 points) and Alex and my Uncle Ben (31 points each).] And no looking up answers or calling my former coaches to dig up the dirt!

1. Going into the 2004 baseball season, which team had gone the greatest number of years without winning a World Series?
a. Boston Red Sox
b. Seattle Mariners
c. Pittsburgh Pirates
d. Chicago Cubs

2. Which team did the Washington Senators become in 1961?
a. Seattle Mariners
b. Milwaukee Braves
c. Minnesota Twins
d. Montreal Expos

3. What does it mean to “put a shift on”?
a. Garb oneself in a loose dress
b. Move the catcher to the inside half of the plate
c. Move fielders from their normal field position in a certain direction to account for a hitter’s tendency to hit to a certain part of the field
d. To send the runner on first during a “first and third” situation

4. Which Yankees jerk was roundly criticized during the 2004 ALCS for knocking the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove when Arroyo attempted to tag him out on his way to first after he hit a weak ground ball?
a. Derek Jeter
b. Jorge Posada
c. Bernie Williams
d. Alex Rodriguez

5. What is “the hot corner”?
a. Third base
b. First base
c. Homeplate
d. Second base

6. Who is the greatest St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher of all time, having compiled a 1.12 ERA during the 1968 season?
a. Bob Forsch
b. Bob Gibson
c. Dizzy Dean
d. Cy Young

7. Which former Vice President’s collection of autographed baseballs and other memorabilia has been showcased on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota campus?
a. Al Gore
b. George Bush
c. Hubert H. Humphrey
d. Walter Mondale

8. Which baseball team plays its games at Camden Yards?
a. St. Paul Saints
b. Toronto Blue Jays
c. Florida Marlins
d. Baltimore Orioles

9. Which current Red Sox first baseman used to play for the St. Paul Saints?
a. Bill Mueller
b. Kevin Millar
c. David Ortiz
d. Trot Nixon

10. What is statistically the hardest hit to get when trying to “hit for the cycle”?
a. single
b. double
c. triple
d. home run

11. In what city is the College World Series played in?
a. Tampa, Florida
b. Austin, Texas
c. Reno, Nevada
d. Omaha, Nebraska

12. Who won the 1918 World Series?
a. Chicago Cubs
b. Boston Red Sox
c. New York Yankees
d. Brooklyn Dodgers

13. What was the name of the Washington, DC Negro League team?
a. The Senators
b. The Nationals
c. The Grays
d. The Capitols

14. What is the “clean-up hitter”?
a. The batter with the most RBIs in the game
b. The batter who agrees to sweep the clubhouse after each game
c. The batter who hits fourth in the lineup
d. The batter who hits after the pitcher (in the National League)

15. Which team defeated the Red Sox in the ever-so-painful 1986 World Series?
a. The New York Mets
b. The Philadelphia Phillies
c. The Pittsburgh Pirates
d. The Fiendish Jerks

16. When Sarah was 8 and played on the Farm League team Mailloux’s Furniture, what was the only position she did not play during her All-Star season?
a. Pitcher
b. Shortstop
c. Catcher
d. Hell Raiser

17. Which popular Pittsburgh Pirate died in a plane crash in 1972?
a. Tim Wakefield
b. Nolan Ryan
c. John Kruk
d. Roberto Clemente

18. What is the last name of the baseball brothers known for throwing knuckleballs?
a. Niekro
b. Tricky
c. Smith
d. Marshall

19. What is a “set-up man”?
a. The batter that hits before the “clean-up hitter”
b. A relief pitcher that pitches before the closer
c. The fielder that gets the first out in a double play
d. The player from the home team that has to go on a date with the visiting team’s starting pitcher

20. Which awesome baseball movie stars Robert Redford and features a bat with a lighting streak on it?
a. Bull Durham
b. A League of Their Own
c. Cobb
d. The Natural

21. Which Minnesota Twin won the Cy Young Award in 2004?
a. Shannon Stewart
b. Torii Hunter
c. Johan Santana
d. Bert Blyleven

22. Which future Hall of Fame pitcher is nicknamed “The Rocket”?
a. Roger Clemens
b. Randy Johnson
c. Greg Maddux
d. Pedro Martinez

23. Who is the most famous baseball player to hail from Woonsocket, Rhode Island?
a. Clem Labine
b. Rocco Baldelli
c. Nap Lajoie
d. Canuck Perrier

24. In 1969, which team did awesomely named starting pitchers Vida Blue and Catfish Hunter play on?
a. Oakland Athletics
b. Detroit Tigers
c. Los Angeles Dodgers
d. San Francisco Giants

25. Which former Red Sox player is the greatest traitor of all time?
a. Babe Ruth
b. Roger Clemens
c. Wade Boggs
d. Pedro Martinez

26. Which former White Sox first baseman was nicknamed “The Big Hurt”?
a. Edgar Martinez
b. Seymour Bruise
c. Frank Thomas
d. Ryan Klesko

27. In what city is the Minnesota Twins AA team, the Rock Cats, located?
a. New Britain, CT
b. Portland, ME
c. Wilmington, NC
d. Iowa City, IA

28. Which former baseball player – known for having a ball bounce off of his head into the bleachers while he was playing outfield – recently released a “tell-all” book on steroids in Major League Baseball?
a. Mark McGwire
b. Jose Canseco
c. Bo Jackson
d. Cal Ripken

29. What does it mean when a baseball player “paints the corner”?
a. Just barely hits the corner of a base while running the bases
b. Hits a ball into the far corner of a ballpark while hitting
c. Spits tobacco juice into the corner of the dugout while riding the bench
d. Just barely nicks a corner of homeplate while pitching

30. What is Sarah’s favorite position to play?
a. Third base
b. Center field
c. Shortstop
d. Pitcher

31. Which Twins Hall of Famer battled it out with Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski for the home-run lead during the 1967 season?
a. Dean Chance
b. Harmon Killebrew
c. Kirby Puckett
d. Bob Allison

32. How many innings must a starting pitcher complete in order to be credited with a win?
a. 3
b. 4
c. 5
d. 6

33. Who was the 2004 American League batting champion?
a. Bill Mueller of the Boston Red Sox
b. Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins
c. Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees
d. Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners

34. Name one of the three oldest baseball stadiums still being used for MLB games.

35. Sarah had two of the nicknames below when she played fast-pitch softball. You only have to pick one to get a point for this question. {Two points if you get ‘em both!}
a. Hoover
b. Smiley
c. Hot Pants
d. Crazy Legs
e. Butch
f. Hippy

36. Who do you predict will win the World Series in 2005?