Tom Waits on YouTube ["Video Bar" added 4/3/07]

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Friday, November 30, 2007

* My Blogger POLL(s)

----A "Sticky" Post [orig. 8/2/07]----
[--text hidden until next poll--]

* RADIO RANT: Indian Wars (Still Going On)

Billy Cunningham is the "new" conservative talkshow host in these parts, replacing Matt Drudge on two local radio stations. Last Sunday night (11/25/07), I tuned into a discussion (or rant) regarding the "Indian Wars." To one caller's allegations of land theft & immorality, Cunningham replied [not verbatim here, but close], "It was war. We won. Get over it!" (I'm reminded of Paiute poet AC Louis's anecdote about a white student who told him, "We shoulda killed you all when we had the chance"!) "If the Indians had won," Cunningham continued, "they'd have done worse to us." No. We especially wouldn't have forced you to follow another culture's jealous monotheistic deity. But this radio guy is adamant that the Natives were apparently in need of a little good ol' Western Civilizing: "Why do you think they call them savages?" (And the phrase "Stone Age" was also tossed around liberally—er, conservatively.)

Hell, if these "GET OVER IT!" people (including some of my own students) were JUST talking about a survival-of-the-fittest social Darwinism, then I wouldn't be so upset. But if this "might makes right" is what you folks ultimately meant, it also means that you have to surrender any lofty pretensions regarding your Western ethics & religion, and acknowledge Christianity as a hypocritical & bankrupt enterprise, as mere prop and rationalization for capitalism & colonialism [cf. Vine Deloria, Jr.].

Thursday, November 8, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Savage Ignorance Encore

An apparent true believer called Michael Savage and asked, seriously, for a history lesson from the good Doctor "for us" listeners, on how the Christian monks of the Middle Ages saved Western Civilization. Now, I haven't had time these last few months to ride herd on all of Savage's assertions of ignorance, but this one blew me away. His one lone example of an answer? Gregor Mendel!—a "monk" who was, he claimed, of "THAT PERIOD"!?!—who did some things with peas and thereby "discovered genetics." (Uh, Mendel lived from 1822-1884. The medieval period ended approx. half a millennium before the beginnings of genetic science.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

* Children & Animal Extinction


* SPEAKING of EXTINCTION (and morbid children's books)--here's an ad from the BITS & PIECES gifts catalogue (Holiday 2007). How casually the young are indoctrined into an "everything's-all-right" attitude regarding the extinction of other species. The phrase "don't exist in the wild anymore" even intimates that these animals are still safe, in zoos or in rich people's backyards, perhaps. The Dodo on the cover is especially ironic in this regard, as perhaps the most famous species driven to extinction by humankind's own handiwork. But, "whatever": it's "Hours of dot-to-dot fun," all the same!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

* Call Me Ishi. Or Buddy.

Ishi (the last Yana Indian) has been best memorialized by Native critic Gerald Vizenor, I think, in an essay called "Ishi Obscura." The marvelous first sentence is —"Ishi was never his real name." Ergo my serendipity here, dog-loving as my whole life has been:

Monday, October 15, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Cheap Labor Through the Centuries

One of my local talk radio stations now has a new conservative radio talking head, a certain Bill Cunningham (yes, one "great American"). He was trying to be clever and ironic last night (10/14) in wondering aloud how our American economy ever "managed," from 1776 on, before the heavy 1990's influx of illegal labor. (Conclusion: we don't need 'em!) Of course, for almost a hundred years, we had—uh—SLAVES to help out w/ all that lowly menial labor. After that, we had waves of legal immigrants poor enough to willingly be degraded themselves as cogs in the capitalist machine until labor unions alleviated their plight to some extent. And hey, I've taught (legal-immigrant) ESL students who've told me horror stories of meat-packing plants: no, it ain't worth $20/hr. an hour to be disabled (i.e., one's hands) by the age of 40.

* U.S. Pontificates on Genocide

So—the U.S. House of Representatives wants to "declare" the "slaughter" of Armenians by the Turks during WWI "genocide." Gee, that was less than a score of years after the Wounded Knee massacre. I don't care how many times "our government" has apologized for its own attempts at genocide; "we" shouldn't be allowed, even today, such a facile moral high ground.

Friday, September 28, 2007

* It's a Hormonic Imbalance

So George Bush fucks up again: "childrens do learn. . . ." There's plenty of Hopi, and Lakota, elders who say that a precise use of language = a healthy culture. I fear for "ours."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

* "Name the Four Oceans"

. . . to quote some game they're playing on a call-in radio show right now. But it occurs to me: there's really only ONE ocean, or else they'd just be REALLY BIG LAKES.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

* "Beat Me, Daddy-O"

It beats me how public television can consider itself educational sometimes. So I'm surfing by this "educational" show set in a bookstore—and stop because the bookstore person is talking about the fact that the Beat writers used to frequent the place. When the interviewer asks what "Beat" means, our literary expert explains, "It was called Beat poetry because it had a rhythm to it"!?!? (Yeh, sure; hit that bongo, man.) Jack Kerouac, that beatific hipster, must be rolling in his grave.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Michael Savage on Ecofeminism

Thanks, Mr. Savage—you've given me a better title for my ENGL 945 course. Last night (9/5), you made reference to "wackjob moron feminist treehuggers." What an interesting appellation! Henceforth, then, I think I should call my Native Ecofeminist class "Wackjob Moron Feminist Treehugger Squaws." Okay, maybe squaw isn't a word you'd be brazen enough to utter on the radio, but I assume it's an epithet that swims around comfortably in your consciousness.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

* FOX NEWS & Vivid Analogies

One of the Stepford-blonde newsreaders on Fox News describing Mt. Aetna's 1,000-feet-high lava eruption: "Look at that! Kinda reminds me of one those lava lamps." Okay, yeh. Nice original & effective comparison, there. Sure. (Her description kinda reminds me, actually, of a sentence from an old web list of worst student figures of speech: "The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon." You bet.)

* RADIO RANT: Savaging the "Noble Savage" Now

Last night (9/4), Michael Savage was slamming a San Francisco "hippie reenactment" of the 1967 Summer of Love. The event began with "some Native Americans shamans" [sic], Savage said, or read—adding, "Shamed men, you mean. Ashamed to go back to their reservation!" This may have been true, actually, on a level beyond our commentator's ken (and shaman is a dangerous & problematic word itself); but no, Michael was just offering another gratuitous knee-jerk insensitive racist dig at a minority group, the kind of kick in the side his audience has grown to know, love, & expect.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

* Shakespeare = Culture

A colleague just turned me on to an editorial in the Omaha World Herald a few months back (23 June 2007 [7B]), by a professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney who has set himself up as another Apostle of Culture, as one more Savior of High Literature. Doctor Thomas Martin laments the fact that students at the U of Nebraska-Lincoln don't even have to take a course in Shakespeare to acquire a major in English. I, too, lament the fact that English students (graduate students, more crucially) aren't exposed to all the major eras & figures of British and American literature. But I also think that they should have to read some Continental literature in translation (Dostoevski, Goethe, and the like); and maybe a course in Spanish(-American) lit., from Cervantes through García Márquez?; and some American Indigenous lit. would be a good idea, too. Ay, there's the rub: where should one stop, given the economic pressures that English departments currently face?

In fact, Martin asserts that majoring in English sans Shakespeare is "comparable to a medical doctor who did not take a course in anatomy." This analogy is, first of all, completely absurd on the level of logical categories. But it also ignores the fact that Shakespeare himself, as literary historians remind us, was never the Great-Be-All-and-End-All of the English canon until well into the nineteenth century, and that the canon of "essential works" of which Martin speaks is itself a historically constituted body.

This lack of historicity is Martin's main problem. For him, "literature" still has an "essential quality"; it is still "timeless," and its theme is an unchanging "human nature." (And someone play "God Save the Queen," while we're at it.) But literature, in reality, is always situated in place, and time, and ideology: there's never anything disinterestedly "eternal" about it. And yet he complains that English departments have turned "into sociology departments, emphasizing the topical literature of race, gender, class and ethnicity over the traditional works of literature." Huh? Shakespeare's corpus, too, we recognize, is a "topical" one, utterly involved in "race, gender, class and ethnicity." This recent turn of events—our "sociological" or political focus—is merely evidence that we are now conscious how all texts are inescapably complicit in such politics.

Professor Martin also claims that the "faculty in most modern institutions of higher learning lack respect for their ancestors," who are —as is clear later in the editorial—the good ol' dead white English males. But ancestors is a strange word, when mine happen to include the non-white and non-European. Can't I be true to mine? (And all of them?!: what fun to teach Black Elk, and James Joyce, and Albert Camus in the same course!) Martin's entire argument, in sum, is quite an ethno/Eurocentric one.

Other once-upon-a-time word choices that Martin tosses around include "liberal education," "spirit," "conscience," and "reasoned"—all of which smack of Matthew Arnold and other self-anointed Apostles of Culture—and all these all-too-humans have had their own self-interested, political reasons for appealing to such values! Our latest apostle here is finally so bold as to speak of the "moral in a classical work" as something of great use in one's Socratic "self-examination." Ah—for indeed, Martin finally admits—his "discipline is philosophy," after all, and his castigation of the English discipline arises from someone no doubt deeply immersed in a much higher calling than mere "literature," all mere shadows, sophistry, and illusion compared to his calling. We must thank him, then, for descending, if only momentarily, from the Clouds (. . . of Aristophanes).

Monday, September 3, 2007

* Life in an Open Boat

Why are those "Funniest Home Videos" TV shows still so popular (in syndication, at least)? Maybe because they're the closest thing to a real reminder that humans aren't truly in control of their own destiny? Or better—we really don't want to know this truth about ourselves; it's far preferable instead to project this anxious knowledge upon others (e.g., the dad catching the ball from his son's bat in the groin). No one wants to recognize that, at last, we're all sailors in Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," forever at the whim of the random farts of fortune.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Birds as Symbols

I only caught snippets of Michael Savage last night (8/29), but his discussion (or rather, rant, as usual) about the Senator Craig affair had somehow wandered to the bird calling in the background of the Senator's "I am not gay" press conference. Yes, it was a Red-winged Blackbird (its "cong-er-ee" call), as a caller or two told him; but Savage's immediate reaction was so typically Western, and by the way, so typically traditional-lit-crit: he asked, "What does the blackbird symbolize in literature?!" Yikes! The very subject, really, of my book-manuscript-at-the-press. I couldn't handle the ideational pain and fled to sports talk radio.

I suppose that at least one caller fed Savage the standard freshman-in-college answer—"the blackbird stands for death"—and that our good Doctor applied it "cleverly" to the Senator's doomed career. But again, how symptomatic of mainstream anthropocentric culture to see other species as "all about us," as if God had put other species here to remind humans of our own mortality. (Geez, was there ever a real, honest-to-goodness snake in the Garden of Eden?) There was a real, individual Red-winged Blackbird calling there, with as much "reason" and worth to do so as the human fellow frantically trying to save his political ass. A deconstructive reversal of foreground & background might be instructive here: "What's that stupid primate sputtering about while Mr. Blackbird sings his wonderful tune?"

Finally, the old "death" equation hardly works with the red-wing, anyway. The "black birds" traditionally demonized in Western folklore are the crow and raven, not even loosely related to the red-wing. Closer, ornithologically, are Wallace Steven's grackles, sometimes read by critics as symbols of death (though symbols of sheer mundanity, of "reality" itself, works better for me in the context of Stevens' corpus). In contrast, though—if I HAVE to talk "symbolism"—the red-wing has always suggested to me the jouissance of the new spring, a powerfully ebullient paean to (and epitome of) nature's general rejuvenation. But as a poem I wrote as a much younger fellow reminds me, even this is sheer homocentric projection:

        AFTER LORCA   (c. 1986; rev. 1992)

the red-winged blackbird
sings, but not to call his pied-brown mate
or a cattail congerie--
he sings to be singing: he sings

the red-winged blackbird
sings, but not for the ever-returning spring,
or other springs, gone by--
he sings to be singing: he sings

the red-winged blackbird
sings, not to recall in us some preter-
natural nature of things:
he sings

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Subduing the Universe

A biblical scholar speaking on the Michael Savage last night (8/28, though apparently it was a "best of" rerun): "God created man to subdue the universe." I'd comment on this powerful notion in some detail, but right now I'm busy planning the subjugation (and ecological rapine) of a 3rd-world island-nation in the South Pacific. . . .

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

* RADIO RANT: The Savage Within

Michael Savage admonished godless liberals last night (8/27) for not understanding something about good Christian conservatives, shouting, half-apoplectically, "Why do you think people worship God? To control the animal within!" A pretty scary (self-)admission, and a pretty poor reason to believe in a deity.

Ergo—some Quots. of the Day:

Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. . . .
    --William Blake

Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.
    --Nietzsche

The will to overcome an emotion is ultimately only the will of another, or of several other, emotions.
    --Nietzsche

Monday, August 20, 2007

* "DEEP Ecology"

I'm sure all of you got tired of listening to that glib sleazeball capitalist, Utah mine-owner Bob Murray, on the cable news. What an asshole. I guessed immediately that this was Mr. $$ doing a cover-up operation, despite all his cant about his company's great concern for the trapped miners' families, etc. Worst of all—let's blame it on "Mother Nature," Bob says; besides some purported originary "quake" (refuted by real seismologists), it's them damned "NATURAL" movements in the earth, them damned seismic "bumps" that won't let us progress upon our savior mission. Did you ever think—duh, you KNOW you knew, you bastard!—that all that ground activity is BECAUSE of your (questionable) mining practices? I don't even wanna witness all the tracks-covering you'll be performing in the next week or so: think I'll bury myself in my schoolwork.

* SKOOL DAZE BLUZ

(The following effusion was inspired in part by my awareness that I seemed to be "rushing" out blog posts now, knowing that I wouldn't be able to expend nearly as much effort when school started.)

I imagine that damned near EVERYONE who has grown up in a Western nine-month school system has internalized the same seasonal-emotional clock: the clock that says, with the end of summer, something painful comes. Whether your particular school starts in mid/late August or after Labor Day, it's that same archetypal turn towards the "Fall of Man," both a darkening of the seasons and an imprisonment of the soul: i.e., SCHOOL.

And it also really doesn't matter that much if you're a student or teacher, young or old. ALL know that two-weeks-to-go shudder, that beginning-of-the-end-of-pleasure "I-have-to-do-something-now-before-it's-over!" As a child, I knew it, even though I also knew that, as a poor kid whose only love was books, it wasn't that great a loss. As a young man without a job, though, I especially felt it, perhaps, since watching Jerry Lewis & his marathon without having found a real job YET meant true failure, according to the natural order/timeframe of things. (That is, without a job, I should by all rights be in school now, in some fashion or another, doing something!) As a middle-aged curmudgeon with a teaching job, yes, there's the pressure of syllabi and handouts and trying to concentrate the mind beyond the ephemeralia of blogs & "radio rants"—and yet my classes actually do deal with many of the issues that I'm so po'd about in these blog entries.

But still—yes: the body's, and society's, clock says it's the end of summer, a death, a finale, a funeral for the soul. But like that toothache I blogged about before—it's rather a delicious pain at this point in my life, an acknowledged product of the heavy fruits of consciousness. [Geez, I came off sounding older than I am. I hope.]

* RADIO RANT: "Let It Lie!"

The English-teacher schoolmarm in me has a whole list of future-blog bitches regarding English-language usage in the popular media. (One that has especially irked me on sports-talk radio is the ubiquitous dangling modifier, "Having said that.") But one old chestnut has especially struck my Queen's-English-obsessed heart these last few weeks. (I often point out the irony to my Anglo students, that the mixed-blood mutt that I am has HAD to obsess about, CARE about, "their" language, to be "good enough," more than they have.)

Well, the problem is the old "lie" versus "lay" deal. Whether it's Michael Savage or the ESPN-talk-guy-du-jour, it's inevitably, "So then I went to lay down [in bed, on the couch, etc.] . . . ." No, you went to lie down. You lay down, Michael Savage, that copy of Mein Kampf you've been reading so assiduously. [Low blow, admittedly, but he does worse to "my" side. And yes, I know that the past tense of lie is lay.]

Worse yet, these last few weeks, I've heard several examples of characters in sitcoms making the same error. (Characteristic: "I'm going to lay down now.") The writers might easily say, "Well, that's how everyday people talk. Most of us make the same mistake." Well, geez, you can't actually help the "State" (and the state of public education) by some proper modeling/brainwashing here?! A lot of "everyday" people also say "fucking" as a phatic interjection every 3rd or 4th word, but I don't hear that in your "realist" aesthetics. (If that was your rationale. Actually, I wonder if you know the proper usage, either.)

A final objection: Tom, this "rule" is obviously becoming defunct, out of ignorance + usage. Well, maybe. And I could admit defeat more magnanimously if only I hadn't spent my life learning such rules—and, as I said, sucking up to the Great White Ways because I was a bit less than white. (At least I NEVER made my students adhere to that stupid don't-end-your-sentence-with-a-proposition rule; I'm mean, that's so archaic—except in the most formal of rhetorical situations—that I don't have the words that express my disdain for. It.)

[Added 8/21/07:] Again, tonight, on CNN, a fellow speaking about the Utah mining disaster: ". . . leave the bodies where they lay."

* Tom's Garlic Toast

I mentioned in my last recipe that garlic was my "favorite vegetable." In fact, I used to munch on raw cloves, for the sheer rush. In contrast to that namby-pamby store-bought garlic toast (using garlic salt or powder?), here's an "in-your-face" version:
1. Prepare garlic by chopping several garlic cloves (I prefer pretty big pieces, 3-4 per clove).
2. Make 2 pieces of toast.
3. "Butter" toast.
4. Sprinkle chopped garlic over toast, so that each bite will hit a piece of garlic.
5. Do NOT make spaghetti, or whatever. This is a heavenly repast unto itself.

* Lima Bean (& Ham) Soup

I'm making my famous-only-to-me bean soup today, another one of those recipes that sound so boring, but taste so good, and remind me of my childhood, and of the days before Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage! ("Yeh, Hubert Horatio Humphrey is still alive, and the future looks bright, and progressive. Yeh. Good beans, too.")

I use a slow cooker now for this recipe, though like chili, it's hardly required, or even preferable.
Ingredients:
* HALF-bag of dried beans, your choice (recipe originally designed for large lima beans, but baby limas, black beans, even that bag of 13 assorted beans—all fine)
* spices of choice: mine include (lemon) pepper, salt (substitute), (1/2) bay leaf, garlic powder, dry mustard powder, and Tabasco sauce . . . (Yes, I used to SMOKE—and so used/still use lots o' spices so I can taste the food. Also, having recently acquired a love for Asian Indian food, I even added some minced ginger this time.)
* veggies of choice: chopped carrots & celery are bourgeois de rigeur; good, too: several garlic cloves (my favorite vegetable), and (half?) a chopped onion
* [OPTIONAL:] ham product of choice—a hamhock (my traditional way, in the days sans money), or a ham part/steak w/ bone, or that precooked cubed ham, etc. (UNcooked is preferable, if you want those "traditional" fat droplets floatin' atop yr soup.)
* small can of tomato sauce

[Crock-pot cooking time: Low: 6-8 hours; High: 3-4 hours (?—I don't mind my beans & veggies al dente!)]
1. Prepare beans, either by overnight soaking or that "quick-prep" boiling method given on the back of most dry-bean packages (former method preferable).
2. Throw some water into the slow cooker. (Doesn't matter how much—you'll be adding more later.)
3. Add spices & beans.
4. Add "hard" vegetables (carrots, onions, etc.).
5. Add ham, if uncooked. If cooked, you can wait several hours (see #6).
(I like to stagger the steps above by a half-hour or so, just to take a break from the computer. Also, add water as needed at any stage.)
Several hours later/halfway through the process:
6. Add (cooked) ham. Add "soft" vegetables (probably only celery here).
(Half-)hour before serving:
7. Add tomato sauce. (Overcooking tomato sauce makes everything taste "burnt" or "turned," for some reason.)

8. Last, but most importantly: add approx. 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar to that bowl o' beans you just ladled out: mmm, mmm! Serve with hard rolls or other bread of choice (spread w/ "oleo"?—as my mom used to call it), to dip into the soup.

Of course, these crock-pot recipes make a lot more than a person living alone can handle, in one meal, or even one day; for soups or stews like this one, I eat as much as I can (bad advice!), and then freeze the rest in individual microwaveable bowls (covered with aluminum foil), which I can slowly unthaw/reheat in the microwave on a rainy day.

[Added same day:] Oh! The ginger makes it entirely NEW. I added more. . . .

* Subliminal Appeals on Cable News?

Several of the main cable news channels are displaying a visual of Hurricane Dean as a marquee in one corner, as it tears through the Caribbean. But sometimes when I'm channel-surfing and not thinking (happens a lot), I suddenly come upon this visual and see at first—gasp—a BREAST. And the hurricane's eye is the NIPPLE. "I do not know what makes me see these things." (Hey, that was iambic pentameter. Cool.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Making Mirth w/ Myths

I was car-radio-surfing this Sunday morning, on the drive back to Lincoln from Verminville, when I happened upon a Christian talk-radio station. They were doing an apparently weekly feature for them, a review of the week's new movies, including one called Arctic Tale. The main reviewer fellow was surprisingly positive in general, given my assumption that this film is at least "sort of" a lefty/tree-hugger/eco-nut movie; but things heated up (pun intended) when the other radio personality detected a global warming agenda in the plot. Even here, the reviewer eased all good Christians' fears(?!) by asserting that this message is understated, not blatant. Well, until the ending-credit stuff, that is, where such bogus ideology becomes too overt for these good souls: a few quotes therefrom have both of them guffawing, chortling, snickering . . . at the sheer absurdity of believing in this myth that is global warming. . . . Thank the Good LORD that Christians don't believe in anything nearly as ridiculous.. . . ["Eat this dried-up, tasteless wafer. It's really the body of Jesus of Nazareth, who died circa 33 A.D. Besides that, he's still alive, even as you're munching on him right now." "The hell, yu' say!"]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Shakespeare Savaged

Michael Savage brought out his bag of literary learnèdness again last night (8/15/07), quoting—sort of—Shylock's famous speech beginning "Hath not a Jew eyes . . . ?" (MofV 3.1). But, sputtering on the quotation, he ended with the following edifying advice: "Read your Shakespeare, and you'll get the rest of that particular couplet." Couplet? It's a speech in prose, man; read your prosody handbook, and you'll get why "couplet" in no way applies here. A forgivable error, maybe, if you weren't such a poseur in pedantry. (I think that's called "illiteration"!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

* That's GAY[?!]

THE BILL ENGVALL SHOW [TBS; aired tonight (8/14/07)]:
[At a Parents-Teachers Conference:]
BILL: You didn't like to read Jane Austin as a teen[ager], did yu'?
TEACHER: Yes, I did.
BILL: Well, that's just GAY.
[BIG AUDIENCE LAUGH.]


When I read the transcript above to my wife over the phone, expecting a surprise/outrage that mirrored my own, she said instead, "I'd need to know the full context." HUH? Would she have have had less of an ethical dilemma if Bill had said, "That's so Negro" (the teacher was black, BTW) or "You're such a fag"?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Carrot-&-Stick Ethics

A relatively new commercial on the radio seems innocuous enough: it's for http://www.getgoodkarma.org, and asks one to be "civically active"—to vote, to volunteer, etc. But the "goodkarma" part of the URL is the sticking point for me. Why be civic-minded, ethical—ultimately, GOOD? Well, you'll be rewarded for it, for "stay[ing] on the universe's good side," as the web site tells us. Or punished for being "bad," apparently: "So play nice. You won't like the universe when it's angry." This is merely a New Age/Asian metaphysical version of good-old-fashioned Christian theology, which says to the unwashed masses: "Be good—SO you can get to Heaven. Don't be bad, or you'll earn eternal damnation." I'm against any such carrot-and-stick ethics because it is just a grander displacement of the child's early "ethical" development: be good, and Mommy will hug you! Be bad, and Dad'll beat your ass! This isn't being ethical at all; it's being a pawn of operant conditioning. (Thus Freud saw Western religion itself as part of an earlier, "childish" stage of human evolution.) At least from Kant on, philosophers have spoken of an ethics for its own sake as the real "Good," in contrast to behavior dependent upon an external set of reinforcers. In sum, how is volunteering at the homeless shelter—to guarantee some good karma for yourself—in any way ethical in a fundamental, intrinsic sense?

(An objection: "Maybe the 'karmic' discourse of this whole web site is just good-naturedly tongue-in-cheek, just tryin' to get people more positively involved." Well. Okay. . . . Or IS it okay, to "play" willy-nilly with such serious things as worldviews, as if they were mere Pepsi or Coke t-shirts to be donned and doffed at will in this postmodern era? I don't have a sense of humor in this realm. [Geez, I'm becoming a curmudgeon, as the Minnesota Twins continue their losing ways!])

* RADIO RANT: Women's Rights vs. Animal Rights?

Paul Zeise, a beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has created a new round of controversy in the Michael Vick saga by uttering the following on a Pittsburg talk show: "It's really a sad day in this country when . . . Michael Vick would have been better off raping a woman [rather than running a vicious dog-fighting racket] . . . . Had he done that, he probably would have been suspended for [only] four games [rather than a year] and he'd be back on the field." To me, the meat of this new controversy is that several national sports commentators have come to Zeise's defense (e.g., John Fricke), via at least the implication that the current atmosphere of "political correctness" has led to a privileging of wild animals over our own women.

On one important level, these people are right, of course: Kobe Bryant and the legion of athletes charged with rape and spousal abuse have been getting mere hand-slaps from their leagues & teams, as the patriarchal game of wink-wink continues. They should be getting much more severe penalties. However, this issue is really independent of the Michael Vick episode; and the stance above, in its ostensible attempt to be anti-sexist, reveals once again an utter anthropocentrism: i.e., a human (woman) is more important than another animal. I, for one, believe that being instrumental in the violent deaths of many individuals of another species is a greater crime than the sexual abuse of any single member of our one species (whatever the gender). There, I've said it. Zeise, Fricke, et al. are wrong; it is hardly a "sad day," but a positive evolution in the general consciousness, in my mind. What is sad is that this debate seems to force one to pick & choose between women's rights and animal rights. But again, they're separate issues.

Of course I'm completely wrong in the "separate issue" thing, but this twist of an admission takes the argument to entirely different level. A major tenet of ecofeminism is that what the patriarchy does to women and "animals" (and to Natives and the environment) comes from the same source, an imperialist White male need to identify and ostracize an Other, including a propensity to commit violence against "her"—to maintain at last a master/slave, Self/Other, civilization/nature hierarchal binary, to reassure the Self of its superior status. What is truly surprising, then, is that these commentators are speaking of the two crimes as if they were fundamentally different things!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

* SPAM: Writing Software

Spam is especially delicious when its very message belies the offer, as in a writing-aid company that can't spell (or punctuate):

"Writing a business email? Feeling short on words? WhiteSmoke writing software takes your writing from simple to sophisticated. [. . .]

To no lnger be included in mailings about this send an email to support@whitesmoke. com

Wish to no longer get mail, rmove here"

Thursday, August 9, 2007

* HSN: "Sheer Cover with Leeza Gibbons"

I channel-surf too much. I jut saw a before and after pair of pictures, of a woman's eyes, and I thought the "before" looked so much more alive and attractive. What are these cosmetic people thinking? I recall French feminist Hélène's Cixous's assertion that make-up is a way that women "kill" themselves ("ghastly" appearance-wise), under the pressure of a gynocidal patriarchy. But her comment only became real to me now, listening to this discourse that seems from another planet.

For instance: oh, this product gives one those much-cherished "pouty" lips, which "we all" want. All women do?! And what, exactly, are you all pouting about, besides the fact that capitalism has rendered you visual OBJECTS stuck with a bogus aesthetics? (More words I'm hearing right now: "concealer"; "cover up"; "spots"; "punch-up"; "larger pores"; "eraser." It's as if one were ashamed of being a corporeal being, a real animal.)

* Twins Surge?

As usual, the Minnesota Twins are making some noise in the second half of the season—despite Johan Santana's complaint about no major moves before the trading deadline. Unfortunately, they have two (pretty) good teams in the division to catch now (or several more teams in the wild-card race), and I don't think they have the pitching this year to make up for an inconsistent offense. But it is good see Joe Mauer's bat back; and Justin Morneau is simply a monster. But it'll boil down to timely hitting from the Jason Bartletts and Nick Puntos of the world, finally. (Remember who got the game-winning hit in the extra-inning Game 7 of the 1991 World Series? A relative nobody named Gene Larkin.)

But it was the 1987 World series champions that I most loved: with Puckett, Hrbek, Gaetti, Brunansky, and Viola. I wrote a song for/about them a few years later (country/folk chords & rhythm):

Big Kent Hrbek, well, he's our man--
We jut call him Hrby--
And Kirby Puckett's loved by the fans--
We just call him Kirby--
And Garry Gaetti, let's give him a hand--
We just call him the "G(ee-ee)-Man"--
The Twins'll take the Series with just these three:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G."

They're Minnesota's blessed trinity:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G"--
For other teams this trio spells tragedy:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G"--
Over the shoulder or over the wall--
With a glove or a bat, they can do it all--
We could challenge the division with just these three:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G."

At the start of ev'ry season, they're in first place:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G"--
They'll spoil it for someone when they're out of the race:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G."--
Over the shoulder or over the wall--
Can't believe what they can do to that baseball--
The Twins could play the spoiler with just these three:
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G."--
Hrby, Kirby, and the "G."-- [repeat & fade]


(The song's lyrical progression is based on the old baseball anecdote about beloved Chicago Cub, Ernie Banks: at the beginning of each season, he'd always say, "We're gonna win the pennant!"; midway through the season, he'd say, "We'll finish in the upper half of the league!"; and finally, when the Cubs were mired as usual in the cellar towards season's end: "We're gonna spoil it for somebody!")

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

* Noodles Marco Polo; Halfbreed Suppers

Popular demand has clamored for my "Noodles Marco Polo," referred to in the previous post. ("Right"!) Well, they're pretty much plain, "buttered" noodles: I love egg noodles/pasta, but I don't care much for either the tomato-y or cheese-creamy sauces most people put on them.

—1/2-pan of water, w/ tablespoon of oil: bring to boil.
—Add 1/2 package of pasta of choice (= approx. 2 servings/platefuls). (I prefer the thick, "dumpling"-size egg noodles; but fettucini, etc.—they're are all good.) Cook approx. 5 minutes, or to al dente state. (There's nothing worse than mushy pasta. Plus, they'll be cooked a bit more later.)
—Drain noodles in a colander. Turn heat to low. To the still-hot pan, add approx. 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine or olive oil. (The last is my new preference.) Add a pinch of basil, some garlic powder (and/or chopped garlic clove, if ambitious). Add now-drained noodles. Stir vigorously. Add as much grated Parmesan cheese as desired. Stir again. Salt and pepper to taste. (I use "No Salt," i.e., potassium chloride, which I now prefer to sodium chloride for purely irrational reasons.)

Wow—I actually have this as dinner/supper several times a month: no meat! (And no animal products at all, if you don't use butter. [Oops—correction: the EGG noodles, of course.])

(Oh, yeh: I suppose you should leave the "salt & pepper to taste" to other people, if you're lucky enough to live with someone else. I keep forgetting that possibility. And, oh, you might want to double the recipe, you lucky one.)

P.S.: "dinner" or 'supper"? We poor halfbreeds in SoDak had three meals: breakfast (totally optional), lunch, and supper. "Dinner" was that place your better-off relative took you out to every few years. But now, where I work, these people speak of "dinner" as an everyday occurrence. In fact, I've been to a good dozen or so every year these last few years. But I keep wondering, keep asking myself: "Aren't you guilty, Tom, for having dinner so often?"!

* Crock-Pot Recipe: Chicken & Dumplings

Yum; my new invention is up there with my bean soup and my chili and my "Noodles Marco Polo":

1 can of chicken broth (as much water as I added later, TWO cans might be better)
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 carrots (6-8 baby ~), chopped
Spices of yr choice (basil, bay leaf, celery powder, garlic powder, etc.)

(Hours) LATER:
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
2 chicken breasts (bought mine already "oven-roasted"; if not, add w/ 1st set of ingredients)

LAST (hour):
1 bag of frozen dumplings (or other egg-noodle product of yr choice)

"ENJOY." (=4-5 servings; double ingredients for "family"-sized meal; hey, I LIVE ALONE!—which is probably no surprise to many of you. . . .)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

* BIG AFTERNOON (& Lost in the Wilderness)

Yesterday (8/6/07) I did a "Big Afternoon," in which the birder records as many species as she/he can in that time period (noon to dusk [or to midnight, for the hardy]). These are much more difficult than "Big Mornings": the two hours after sunrise are the climax of the day, bird-activity-wise, with the last hour or so before dusk usually a distant second, in my experience. By noon, the songfests & feasting are done, and the doldrum-heat of the afternoon is lethargic "kick-back" time for many species. Another contrast: on a Big Morning, I am also excited & invigorated at daybreak, along with the birds; with a Big Afternoon, I'm pretty tired & spent by that last daylight hour when the birds are once again quite active.

So I did pretty well, I suppose, to get 50 species, a record for me. Since I've rarely done Big Afternoons, for the reasons stated above, the record was easy to break. Plus, early August—after many species are done nesting and before they start migrating—might be one of the worst times for such a venture, next to the dead of winter. Worse yet, yesterday, there was a downpour from before noon until about 1:15, and so the enterprise began as a semi-fiasco (for me, not nature; and would end with another one).

But I was rewarded, when it stopped raining, by having driven to a new spot for me, Schramm Park SRA, a state park between Lincoln & Omaha, just south of I-80. (But, characteristically, I took the back roads there, in hopes of more birds.) The highlight was a new species, the Least Tern: there was a pair of them, both diving in one of the ponds at the park entrance, making seemingly kamikaze splashes into the water, for small fish. These are small birds, after all, and ergo their name, "Least." Kinda sad, really, for a bird: some birds are GREAT (e.g., the Great Crested Flycatcher), but some are LESSER (e.g., the Lesser Yellowlegs) than "great," and some are last and LEAST! Well, at least there were two of them: "one good tern deserves another," I always say. (Bad birder-nerd humor.)

I saw my first Green Heron of the day at these ponds, too, and several later: I've grown fond of this particular species, which I never saw in SoDak—so small and, uh, skulking, I guess, compared to the Great Blue Heron. (I meant something more positive in connotation than skulking—and something less generic, more assertive, than secretive or furtive.) [(Same day, later add:) Maybe the word is just "sneaky"!?] Later, at a slough in Pioneers Park (Lincoln), I scanned the water—nothing . . . no, wait! There was a Green Heron there, frozen in place & time, its head and neck posed just above the horizontal, its eyes indicative of a mind bent on a fish-fetish monomania of a mission—all beyond the bounds of my human patience. (If I had a heron's patience, my life wouldn't be a collection of unfinished stories, essays, songs, web pages, and other projects grandly conceived but only half-executed.)

Across the highway was the Platte River itself: "I've heared talk o' this here Platte River"—and Nebraskans have good reason to boast of its avifauna. I watched a Bald Eagle fly overhead, the first I'd seen in several years. It was an adult, with the full white head. It was probably only 30 or 40 yards away, and I was struck again at how large this bird is, compared to its hawk-raptor relatives—though the Turkey Vulture is nearly as big. I also thought I saw a Piping Plover when I first arrived at the riverbank, on the closest sandbar, but it immediately ran to the other side of the bar, beyond my vision. But this may have been wishful thinking on my part since, Least Tern just recorded, this bird is now #1 on my species-to-get-for-my-Life-List. (And it still remains so—I didn't see it well enough to count it, especially as the first sighting of a new species.)

Farther down the river is the Platte River State Park, where I recorded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a species I've become much better acquainted with since moving to Nebraska. The song is curious—not a "coo-coo" at all, really: rather a repeated skoht—deep-pitched, gutteral, even fowl-like.

The afternoon's other highlights, in terms of variety of birds, were the two best birding venues in Lincoln, Pioneers Park and Wilderness Park. But in the latter place, a second fiasco occurred. Somewhere between marveling at the song of an Indigo Bunting and ogling a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher ogling me back, I got "turned around," direction-wise. Note that Wilderness Park is aptly named, a deep-wooded area several miles long, intersected by a few roads a mile apart. Well, I finally came to the bridge/road where my car was parked—it seemed like it had been a longer trail than usual—but wait: my car wasn't there, and it was actually a different bridge, and a different road. Damn: it was in the mid-90's, Missouri-humid, and I hadn't brought anything to drink, and I couldn't figure out/remember if this road was a mile north or a mile south of the road where my car was, and I began to panic, and I wondered how far it was (these are the boonies/outskirts of Lincoln) to a Mini-Mart phone to call a cab or something—and then I heard a Black-capped Chickadee—ah!—and wrote it down. I finally flagged down a biker who told me that I was on Old Cheney Rd, that my street—W Pioneers Blvd—was a mile north . . . I found a bottle of water in the car that I'd kept in there for months. It was hotter than hell, but still tasted good. In spite of "losing" an hour (approx. 6:00-7:00 pm), I still had the time and motivation to hit some dirt roads and WMAs (Wildlife Management Areas) northwest of Lincoln for a few more species. . . .

"Oh, Tom Gannon? Yeh, the irony: he died birdwatchin' down at Wilderness Park. Roasted to death, poor man. But at least he broke his Big Afternoon record that day, I hear."

= = = =

P.S.: Oh, yeh, I saw a Eurasian Collared-Dove in Elmwood, Nebraska. (Just caught a flash-glimpse, but the white under-tail feathers were distinctive.) I'm familiar with this bird, which has begun showing up in Rapid City (SoDak) the last few years, and I actually wonder why I haven't seen them in Lincoln yet.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Imaginary Worlds Made More So

Michael Savage flashed his erudition once again last night (8/3/07), imparting an anecdote in which he felt like being in [Jonathan Swift's] Brobdignag. As usual, when making such learned literary allusions, he immediately said something to the effect that his audience probably had no clue regarding the reference. Well, I MUST admit to feeling a bit befuddled, because he actually called Gulliver's imaginary land "Brobingdang"—at least twice. Oh, strange imaginary world, a place to which Gulliver himself never ventured.

* RADIO RANT: Taut Tautologies

Glenn Beck made a brilliant contribution to the history of philosophy yesterday afternoon (8/3/07) by making the following statements: "Stupid people are stupid people; lazy people are lazy people." I'd try to explain how these assertions are much deeper, much more illuminating, than the fact that "4 = 4"—but I'm too stupid and lazy to bother.

Friday, August 3, 2007

* John & Martha IX

* A Dream Deferred: Aunt Bea!

On my GREAT INDIAN pages, I have some incredible Andy of Mayberry dialogue demonstrating the Anglo ideology regarding the Native American, circa 1960. Yep, the discourse presents the Indians as living a healthier, closer-to-the-earth lifestyle, but at the same time—the Indians are "devils." Curiously and/or symptomatically, this last statement (specifically: the "Shawnee—they're devils") has been expunged from the most recent TV version of this sitcom episode—that is, the one I just saw tonight. But I'd already transcribed the "devil" line from the original version on VHS, and so I wonder—uh—why are they erasing such "history"?

But that's the obvious socio-political shtuff. This time I noticed something maybe more precious. It's when Andy comes in and sees Aunt Bea, who's having a great time hammering on the piano & singing, apparently hammered from alcohol for the first time in eons, and Andy says, with a curious look: "You haven't played that piano in years." OH!—now there's an eternal note of sadness for yu'. As a musician who's progressed from various you can't's, I know how hard it is to make the psychic evolutions, and still love to play. "But Aunt Bea! What social/familial forces made it an either/or for yu, Auntie? Why'd yu' have to give up your music?!"

Thursday, August 2, 2007

* God Is Red (and White and Red and . . .)

As a volunteer for NASCA (the Native American Spiritual & Culture Awareness group), at NSP (the Nebraska State Prison), I attended a fine get-together last TU night, of a buffalo-stew supper & speech-making. But I was troubled when another volunteer gave a talk himself, a wasicu who claimed to have had a vision of Leonard Crow Dog's father at age 6(?), and claimed that Leonard himself later told him that, yes, that was his father. He was embarrassingly apologetic (& understandably so) thruout his speech about how he wasn't trying to "over" on another people's religion, and that he still didn't "know much" about Lakota ceremonialism per se. And yet he went on to recount his own hanblecia (vision quest) from a few years ago, spoke cryptically of the heyoka, and generally put himself forward as an earnest initiate into Lakota "religion." (An awful word, at last, in this context.)

I'm still not sure what to think of the fellow. He may well be an earnest & wonderful & enlightened dude. But in my teaching of NatAmer lit, etc., I've come across so many Indian wanna-be's & "Plastic Indian Medicine Men" that my initial response HAD to be negative, or at least suspicious. . . . But then, what about MY motives for this negativity—jealousy? As someone w/ Indian blood whose "red-skinned" mother herself had been raised an "apple," both of us less "close" to Rez ceremonialism than this guy? As always, such issues transcend any simple binary of "Red" & "White."

Well, he ended with a fairly eloquent appeal to "us" Natives to be true to our traditional religious ways. But I suddenly wanted to ask him whether he had been true to his. Or wasn't that tradition (i.e., Christianity) good enough for him? Or why couldn't any Indian there that night have had a vision of, say, St. Francis, circa age 6, and have left his hopeless Hopi ways for good?!

* Ah, Cool: Sticky Blog Posts

Making my occasional foray through Blogger tips&tricks sites, I stumbled upon a hack for something I'd always wanted as a Blogger feature—a "sticky" blog post that you could keep at the top of your first blog page. The trick is to edit the desired post and select "Post Options" (bottom left): here, you can actually edit the post's date. (This possibility never occurred to me, Mr. Rule-Driven Propriety. Geez, it's like time travel.) You can simply set the year to next year, but that fouls up the display of the Blog Archive widget on the right, if you've chosen the standard "Hierachy" style. So for now I'm using instead the last day of the present month (and 11:59 pm), and will only have to change it with each new month. (Or: I'll get tired of the "sticky" itself even before that.)

* RADIO RANT: A Demagogue's Spleen

One of Michael Savage's current promo spots contains one of his characteristic diatribes against the "leftist" government+media establishment, against which he pits himself and all other Americans, apparently: "WE are the backbone of America!" I would limit the breadth of that populist "WE" a good deal, and modify the metaphor. No, Mr. Savage, you are rather the SPLEEN of the American body politic, and your toady-acolyte of an adoring audience, the BLACK BILE thereof. (A dangerous—but ultimately hackneyed—remark follows: I sometimes feel that I'm listening to some crank in Germany of the 1930's; seriously "bad—and scary—vibes, man.")

Savage's clever demagoguery was in full splendor last night (8/1/07), as he fed his masses suggestions that the Minneapolis bridge collapse was "perhaps" an act of Islamic terrorism. As he repeated a bald attempt at sarcasm—"but we CAN'T consider the possibility of terrorism because the government TELLS us it isn't"—his callers became more and more rabid in their speculations. "There's a huge Muslim population right in that area!"; "I've lived in Minnesota, and they're so liberal and P.C., they're a perfect target!" To all such (il)logic, Savage was cleverly "reluctant" to draw his own overt conclusions, repeating his sarcastic mantra above, but it was all too clear that he relished his rhetorical power over his slavering/salivating lackeys. (Historical analogy: screaming rhetorician finds scapegoat, and whips followers into a frenzy against said scapegoat.)

Another of Savage's populist slams last night was against "the old white-boy hegemony." For one thing, people who pronounce hegemony with a hard "g" shouldn't be using the word in public. Secondly, if Savage's own tired & predictable sexism, racism, and (lip service to) morality-driven conservatism isn't part of "the old white-boy hegemony," I don't know what is.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

* Of Computer Nerds & Birds

. . . a hobby fit only for little old ladies in tennis shoes.Another "nerd" tip from the desk—er, laptop—of TCG, for those of you who are both proud iPod owners and (sheepish?) birders.

"Sheepish"? You see, when I was growing up, anyway, birdwatching was the height of nerdsville, pictured in the popular media as a hobby fit only for little old ladies in tennis shoes. I'd slink around the alleys and woods and sloughs with my 7x35 K-Mart binoculars, hoping that people thought that I was merely a peeping Tom, or some other human category less socially ostracized than that of—BIRDWATCHER. Things have changed at least a bit, apparently: I just read the other day that ""[o]ne of every four Americans is a birdwatcher" (Birding Nebraska 144), but that stat is pure hyperbole, unless one includes (as this source does) those who take a nature walk at least "once or twice a year." (We real birders know that such people lack the requisite requirement, which is a veritable MANIA that cannot be eased by the occasional "nature excursion.") . . . I've just invested in a cheap (of course) spotting scope and cheap but humongous tripod—for those "pesky" gulls and other waterfowl often visible only at an extreme distance. I set it up in my apartment, to practice with it, looking out my patio window at distant trees, the moon, etc. Well, now, I'm sheepish about being seen using it for a far different reason. Yes, the irony: in this day and age, I don't want anyone thinking I'm a peeping Tom! . . . I imagine it now, one police officer saying to the other: "Ah, the perv has cleverly strewn his apartment with bird books. An interesting but transparent ruse. Take him away."

To the iPod and the "nerd" tip, finally. Buy one or both of the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs CD sets. (If you're in the Midwest/Great Plains like me, you'll want both the Eastern and Western sets.) Then transform them all to iTunes. (Or you can be selective, if jealous of hard-drive space: I omitted many birds that I'll never hear in the northern Great Plains—unless global warming gets on with it even more quickly.) Now, of course, sync your iPod with iTunes, and—voilà—you now have a great birding field-trip aid. If, like me, you hate waiting for hours after having heard a strange bird's song to check it out at home, via a recording or that paragraph-long description in a tome you'd never lug w/ you on the road, and your own faint memory and a bad transliteration that you scribbled down—wait no longer, dear friends! Simply whip out your iPod on the spot, find the two or three bird names/songs that your bird guide has suggested as most likely: [insert Christopher Walken imitation:] ah, that new species is yours, baby, and life is good!

If you want to match my compulsiveness—and don't we all?—you can also cut&paste a photo (readily found on the 'Net) of each species "into" its mp3 file as iTunes "album art." But, assuming that you have a bird guide per se, this is no doubt overkill. (But, ah, an iTunes/iPod digital BIRD GUIDE. I thought of it first! The standard bird-guide textual info can be put into the mp3 file's text fields, and the range map—also readily available on the 'Net—can be a second "album art." [Though I'm not sure the iPod handles multiple albumart yet.] You could even use specific mp3 text fields for personal info on date first seen, et al.)

Finally, and the final irony: I've never remembered to bring my iPod on my birding trips as of yet. As I've mentioned before, I hate the idea of a mini-stereo that I've got to attach or pocket somewhere; plus, I'd have to bring some "real" (bulky) headphones, since those earbud deals drive me to distraction. Hey, but I bet somebody else has thought of this idea, and has tried it and liked it. Or will try it. And maybe like it. I don't know. . . .

* The Tao of Toothaches

I'm finally getting over another 4-5 day period of toothgumtraumapain, and I'm still surprised how surprised I was at that "old" feeling, when I shouldn't have been. The feeling I refer to is how monomaniacally obsessed one becomes with one's own debilitating pain, to the exclusion of all else. Work, food, love—"F--- it all: I've got a tooth that's killing me!" . . . Quot. of the Day:

For there was never yet philosopher / That could endure the toothache patiently. . . .
    --Shakespeare
And the mere philistine that I am endures it even less well.

And I don't think that I'm being especially masochistic in noting that such acute & enduring pain becomes a talisman of sorts, almost a blessing in its ability to concentrate the mind, to constantly remind you that you're alive, that {ugh} "life is pain"; to teach you that your holy list of Immediate-Things-To-Do is an utterly ridiculous thing, at last—a lesson that I'm forgetting again already! Indeed, it's not entirely unlike an unsolicited vision quest or a near-death experience: if only one could keep that "vision" more within the view of the glass-darkly lens of everyday consciousness. (NOT that I'm hoping for more dental trouble. Please, no. Please, no. Please, no.)

* Nicotine Dreams

As I briefly mentioned in a previous blog entry, the warnings for the nicotine patch include those damned "vivid dreams." If these occur—oh, no!—one must "consult" one's "physician." (Now there's a waste o' money.) With the patch on as I sleep (to misquote Wordsworth), "I am the dreamer—Nicotine, the dream." I haven't dreamt so well since I earnestly kept a dream journal, as a budding Freudian/Jungian in my undergraduate days. Dreams that seemingly last for hours on end; dreams that are seemingly as cogently plotted as a movie. (Okay, as coherent as a double feature of two movies by David Lynch, maybe.)

And Freud is right again, at least regarding wish-fulfillment. I'm dreaming once again—or more obviously, at least—about things I want to do, not about anxieties I have about waking life: 1) I'm playing guitar for long periods of time (and swear I can ALMOST remember new licks I've come up with in the dream); 2) I'm spending lots of time with my daughter, and with other family members whom I haven't seen in years (incl. my dear dead maternal grandma); 3) I'm even having quite—uh—Freudian dreams about old girlfriends, and, again, for LONG periods of time; 4) and finally, yes, I'm even smoking the occasional cigarette!

Don't pinch me. I'm dreaming.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Jammin' w/ Junior to Judas Priest

ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd is quickly climbing the marble steps of my pantheon of most obnoxious radio personalities because of his dogmatic tone, his blithe "I'm right/you're wrong" certitude. When he reported this morning that the Jets had changed to Mozart as their training-camp music of choice and Cowherd lauded the move, an emailer objected that such a preference might connote a certain racial & cultural bias. Cowherd said simply (I paraphrase): "Nope. I'm right, and you're wrong: more smart people listen to Mozart [than to, say, hiphop & metal]. It's just a fact."

Well, if you define "smart" people as those with a college degree and all that, no doubt a greater proportion of them listen to classical music. But that's because they've been conditioned by their socio-economic milieu to think that highbrow music is better. There is no cause/effect here: they didn't become 'smarter" (and ergo more future-college-worthy) because Mumsy played Mendelssohn in Sonny's nursery. The real cause&effect involves the monied class's traditional music of preference, a preference that has of course been imparted to their offspring.

The actual scientific study, if I recall, simply found that exposure to the elaborate formalism of music from the Baroque and Classical periods of European concert music aided in the development of the brain in early childhood—and this makes perfect sense. But it is hardly a cultural-valuing endorsement of good old Eurocentric art: I'd guess that there are many types of "world" music that would fit the bill just as well here. Did they have their test subjects listen to the complex polyrhythms of African tribal drum groups? To the complex counterpoint of original Dixieland? (To the lyrics of Ozzie Osbourne?—just kiddin'. That the cause of MY stunted development.) I just hope the study was well controlled: obviously, if they just picked parents who "naturally" played Classical music to their kids, versus those who jammed out with junior to Judas Priest, there are a lot of other causal issues involved—again, largely socio-economic.

* RADIO RANT: A Savage Democrat Plot

Listening to Michael Savage last night (7/30/07), I learned a new phrase—not sure how it's spelled, but it's pronounced "VIHSA VERSA"; and I learned that Chief Justice Robert's seizure may well have been the work of a conspiracy by the Democrats, who can't stomach a conservative Supreme Court. . . . (Come, now: wouldn't such perfidious schemers wait for a Democratic president? If Roberts died now, Bush would have time to simply nominate a new conservative. And another objection to this inane hypothesis: there are "batter targets"—more diehard [no pun intended] reactionaries—to choose from on the Supreme Court.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

* KALI--"India's Greatest Export"

Channel-surfing, UGH!: All-Star Wrestling (or at least that's what they called it when I was a kid). This is so f%$#ing sad. After an intro of "flower girls," etc., suggestive (but totally simulative) of the heights of Hindu culture, "Kali" strolls upon stage, as "India's greatest export," to utter some gibberish syllables in no way related to any discernable language of modern India. (The US audience boos, of course, in fine white-trash xenophobic fashion. And that's what the producers wanted.)

Geez, it occurs to me that, if such TV fare is indeed popular, our media is producing, or at least promulgating, the very anti-"foreigner" mentality that militates against any viable rapport with the rest of the planet. "No wonder they all hate us." Remove quot. marks: NO WONDER THEY ALL HATE US (U.S.).

To return to a previous theme: other academics keep asking me why the hell I care about such "low-brow" examples of pop culture. It's the ideology, people. Get it, or be taken down, without your concern or consciousness.

* Atlas (SHRUG!)

Teddy Atlas: now there's an articulate commentator for the sweet science of the squared circle. His too-obvious modus operandi: 1) Let's repeat that ONE point about a certain fighter's most obvious strength or weakness for 8 or 10 rounds (e.g.: "His strength is getting inside, and he's not doing it"); 2) let's try a metaphor: but make it so tortured that even a college freshman in English Lit cringes; 3) let's refer back to the fact that I (Teddy) once trained Mike Tyson, to attempt to recuperate any ethos that still remains.

* John & Martha VIII

(There are several levelsl of irony here, too.)

* John & Martha VII

(Obviously—and intentionally—you can read this cartoon in a variety of ways.)

* ANDY of MAYBERRY

I just channel-surfed past The Andy Griffith Show, recalling my longtime judgment that it's the best TV sitcom ever. (Save yr "hayseed" jokes.) I've seen plenty of (reruns of) All in the Family, M.A.S.H., Seinfeld—and now I'm a big fan of Everybody Loves Raymond, having never followed the original run; but all the 70's thru even the 90's sitcoms seem dated, compared to the Everyperson/Everyplace comedy&realityland that was Mayberry. Of course, the first several seasons were the true masterpieces. The show already began to decline when "Barney" left, when "Goober" replaced "Gomer," when "Howard Sprague" and color TV showed up. And of course, there is not even a mention of an African-American, and the Native American is complete stereotypical myth when said race does appear in discourse (my transcription of crucial passages from the episode, "Aunt Bea's Medicine Man"). . . . But when Opie lets his baby birds go, and then laments the empty cage, and Andy says, "But don't the trees seem nice and full?"—all is forgiven.

* Bar Band Blues II

I could never sing worth a crap (after my voice changed—as a kid, I was an All-State soprano!), and so, when any of my old bar bands insisted, I liked to wait until the 4th & 5th sets to do any lead vocals—that is, when the crowd(?!) was pretty well "tuned up," and ergo more forgiving: A few more asides: yes, that's a Blue Öyster Cult t-shirt I'm wearing—bought it when I saw them in Sioux City a few years back. And yes, I'm prob'ly one of the few people in the world who actually (occasionally) finger-picks that narrow-fingerboard slab-of-wood called a Gibson SG. (But hey, with a pick and a fuzzbox, it's a monster. The amp, more visible in the previous photo-cartoon ["Bar Band Blues I"], is a Fender Deluxe Reverb, another classic: only one 12-inch speaker, but a real TUBE amp; and when you hit it on its top, you can actually hear & feel the reverb springs "shimmer.")

* Lost in Space: Drunken Astronauts

The recent report regarding possibly intoxicated astronauts blasting off is understandable on one level: after the Challenger & Columbia shuttle disasters—or heck, go back to the Apollo 1 fire—inebriation might be considered a viable modus operandi for strapping oneself atop any of NASA's ballistic concoctions.

But that is an obvious take—a version of which I've even heard on the "talk radio"—which I try to avoid in these blog entries. A slightly less obvious, but no doubt closer to the truth, explanation involves the very culture of the "Top Gun" pilot/astronaut: hard-flying, hard-drinkin'—the whole stereotype. But my own (as usual, more idiosyncratic & nutsy) angle is an "eco" one (surprise): "We are members of a species of Gaia, the earth; and they expect us to go to Luna, etc.?! Do they think we're LUNatics?! I'm havin' a few shots right now. . . . (No, I didn't think this consciously. Mostly, I've just been in the habit of drinkin' with the other 'Top Guns' for years.)"

Ultimately, it's a sad, sad thing that behind GW Bush's lip-service policy regarding our eventual colonization of Mars lies many scientists' belief that our species' sole salvation is to become trans-planetary, because of either global warming, humankind's propensity for warfare, and/or that inevitable big rock from space that'll cause mass extinction. Part of me is as pro-futurist, Star-Trekky, and "let's go" as many of you. Another part of me feels that we're futilely trying to flee from a Mother who's weened us for eons: would we even still be "human" then? (Oh, that's called evolution. I see. I'm such a Geico caveman.)

* My Bourgeois Palate

I grew up in north Rapid City, SoDak (informally, the largest Rez in the state, I swear) eating potted meat sandwiches and mayonnaise sandwiches and government commodity canned & boxed goods—including commodity powdered milk: could you EVER get the lumps out, however much you stirred?! And what WAS bulgar, anyway? And why did canned commodity beef always smell like dog food? I remember getting food poisoning at Garfield Elementary: the school nurse drove me home first, to drink some milk, but when I told her sheepishly, as we stopped at my mailbox, that I'd have to mix it up first, she drove me straight to Sioux San (the Indian hospital).

Well, my tastes have remained pretty simple through the years, still including an occasional Totino's "dollar" pizza—the staple of my college years. But the English Department has introduced me to (Asian) Indian food, and frankly, I'm a fanatic about it maintenant—thanks, in part, to my wife's further "enabling." I also have two home-eating "vices": brie (or camembert)—which I buy once every few months, to spread lasciviously on French bread—and NOW, olives stuffed w/ garlic! Yes, they're damned near $5 a jar, but OH, they're good. My excuse is that they're not quite as expensive—or "decadent," to use the wife's word—as many of the sweets that she covets. But then, I don't like sweets, anyway. (Did we ever get commodity "candy" as kids? Not that I remember.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

*Hell=The Root of the—Canal

I got a root canal this morning. No pain, no prob., in a physical sense, but the true hell of the thing was mental. I assume that the dental industry has done lots of consumer studies to get to this point, but the point sucks: I was forced to listen to "piped-in" 60's rock thru the whole thing. (No, it wasn't even a real radio station: this was "elevator" music, on a long loop, I'm sure, for the dentally challenged.)

I remember some episode from a 1970's horror series à la the Twilight Zone (Night Shadows?) in which some hippie-loadie dies in a car crash and gets sent to Hell—to a place he thinks is the waiting room thereto, with several elderly people listening to Lawrence-Welk-type music. He waits & waits . . . and finally realizes that he's waiting for nothing, no form to sign, no confrontation w/ Mr. D. This is his eternal (waiting-room-of-a) HELL.

Aside from the doo-wop-rock crap, there were a few tunes by the Stones & Beatles, etc., that I actually liked; or used to like: they were totally out of their rightful, their righteous, context. I was being drilled into; I was not in the mood for either musical pablum OR the Beatles singing about "Revolution." I wanted either silence, or—hell—give me Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King," over and over, and over and over. At least let the music be a constant fit metaphor for my current psychic condition. Don't jack me around with "pretend" bourgeois "ain't life great" ditties when surgery into the jawbone is involved. Geez, I just want the à propos!

* The Untranslatable (this really BYTES)

[I just got my first outside reader's feedback on my book manuscript, but (I couldn't open the attachment)—]
Question: If a Windoz document gets sent to a Mac computer, and it can't be opened, does it even "make a sound"? What is the sound of one OS "clapping"? Does being a (humble-Zen) disciple of the iMac, and of iTunes, and of the i-bloody-universe(-that-is-Maya) necessarily make you a fan of—uh—e. e. cummings?

<do loop eternalreturn.c>
i
don
't
know
<repeat loop>

* HTML Table insert-check

I don't agree with those who find white text on a black background—i.e., this blog template here—to be virtually unreadable. But it does get hard on the eyes sometimes, so I'm trying something different as a change of pace.

* Happy Thoughts IV

Quot. of the Day:

The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.
    --Gibbon

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Fox News Talk encore

The Fox News Talk fluff radio interlude once again strikes fear & angst in those who are against "all that doesn't suck." This one, which I've heard several times in the last week or so, has the grammatically vacuous opener, "Next to Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett is a true TV legend." (Huh??)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

* RADIO RANT: Savage Pronouncements

Lat night (7/23/07), Michael Savage was showing off his culture again, calling the CNN/YouTube questioners "illiterate morons," while intermittently playing Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia" and cooing about "great art." "Great" and "art" are both problematic terms, but never mind that: I'd just like to tell Dr. Savage that most of those YouTube folks probably know how to pronounce Dizzy's last name correctly, in contrast to our "great art" connoisseur: the first syllable is gill, not jill.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

* RETARDED

As an advocate of the developmentally disabled, I despise those comedians who must say "RETARDED" over and over, as part of their limited & relatively talentless shtick: e.g., Carlos Mencia. (And hey, Carlos, no Indian with any self-respect would mock his own race like you mock yours.) I've also noticed, in this decade, that the use of the word "retarded" among the general public—and above all, MY STUDENTS—has become even more blatant. I always stop them in class when they use the word: "you mean 'developmentally disabled?'" Obviously, they're trying to redefine a term in a way that I both resent and deny. Ditto "gay," as my students say: "that's so gay." I ask them: "you mean homosexual, and in an obvious negative connotation?" Nope, they have no clue thereof—things are just "gay"—I guess because, like Paris Hilton, they haven't got outside their six-friend, six-video-game, 600-pop-song, 6,000-word-vocabulary "retarded" lives. Excuse me for my language.

* Dennis Miller

Is it just me, or has Dennis Miller become incredibly less funny once he became overtly (& conservatively) political in his humor? And I don't think it's just my liberal bias, either: the labored jokes just seem more strained, more petty, more "trying too hard."

* YouTube Debate: The Unasked Questions

I believe that tomorrow night is the CNN "YouTube" Democratic debate, for which "home youtubers" can send in their video questions for the candidates. Questions you WON'T hear in the debate:

1) What should the government be doing about Silicon Lizard? ["Silicon Lizard" = the title of an old surrealist poem of mine]

2) Please raise your hand if you think all this talk about religion in the primary debates has been a bunch of disingenuous, pandering, hypocritical bullshit. [Assuming no hands are raised, a follow-up question (the one that Larry King asked Paris Hilton!):] What is your favorite passage from the Bible? [Then:] How many minority groups does this passage alienate & ostracize?

3) Would you consider a gay Native American paraplegic as a running mate?

4) Please raise your hand if you really consider George W. Bush to be an illiterate nincumpoop who will certainly be remembered as the worst president in history by far.

5) Tell us what you think—or know—that the candidate to the right of you likes to do in bed, as his/her most lascivious & taboo turn-on. (The candidate on their far right can speculate instead on whether metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct.)

6) When did you last beat your significant other?

7) If elected, do you promise never to serve, and to leave the country & never come back? [a paraphrase from somebody else's poem, by I forget who]

8) If you idiot Democrats couldn't even beat George W. Bush in two straight elections, what are you wasting our time for, again? (Shouldn't we select a candidate, at least, whose first name is CHAD?)

9) Given you liberals' great concern for global warming, will you promise to campaign around the country without the use of fossil-fuel transportation? (Hey, it'll work those hips & bellies off o' some of yu'.)

10) Will you PLEASE promise never to end a speech with anything close to "God bless America"? If not, could you define both "God" and "America" in your campaign materials? If no to both, could you please read Dante's Inferno and accustom yourself to the most nether circle of Hades, because that's where I'm telling you to go?

* Happy Thoughts III

Quot. of the Day:

Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe on instinct . . . .
    --F. H. Bradley

* Bar Band Blues I

Me playing in a Yankton (SoDak) bar a few years ago:

* Happy Thoughts II

Quot. of the Day:

Everything that a man does in service of the state he does against his own nature.
    --Nietzsche

* A Philosophy of Blogging

Quot. of the Day:

The NEWSPAPER is the second-hand in the clock of history; and it is not only made of baser metal than those that point to the minute and the hour, but it seldom goes right.
    --Schopenhauer
The BLOG, then, is the millisecond "hand" (or LED)?—and almost never goes right. But therein lies both its charm and power.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

* Complete Filler!

This blog entry is COMPLETE FILLER. You see, I'm disappointed that I don't have as many blog entries this month ("as per usual"), and I need more. So here's _one_. . . . You see, I spent much of the first half of this month among people, and family (those bastards): "not that there's anything wrong with that." And I spent a good deal of the rest of it OUTSIDE, driving backroads around Lincoln, and neighboring counties, and even up to South Dakota by-ways, watching, uh, BIRDS: "not that there's anything wrong with that." (And rendered my relatively new car a veritable rattle-trap-clap of a vehicle: but it was worth it.)

But I'm back, in earnest, to the Macintosh and to the digital world. I just revised and submitted an article on the Passenger Pigeon to a journal (yeah, one of those lame, uh, print, things, but younevermind); I'm getting ideas about doing something actually funny with the John&Martha cartoon series; and I'm back to converting the rest of my Classic/OS9 documents to OSX versions (mostly WordPerfect and HyperCard; the bane of my existence right now).

You see, I have fruitfully once again forgotten any human contacts. Yes, my daughter in Colorado just had some traumatic dental work—I sent her flowers. Yes, my wife is at wit's end regarding her job, her son, and her raison d'être—I told her that I'd take her to a nice Indian restaurant the next time she limped her sad—auto into town.

So you NETmeisters who thought I'd abandoned our posthuman project—never you mind! I'm back!

* Thinking Happy Thoughts

Quot. of the Day:

Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.
    --Jean-Paul Sartre

Friday, July 20, 2007

* Eco-Indian vs. Eco-Anglo


In The Journey, a museum in Rapid City, SD, humankind's concern for the environment is emblematized in a two-part exhibit, with a definite value-judgment timeline implied. On the left side of the presentation [photo above] is an archetypal Indian, as it were, living as one with the land–although, frankly, he looks rather stunned just to be alive. In the 2nd photo (the Native guy can still be seen, now on the far left), the Euro-American–or, the "new & improved man"!?–has a similarly healthy concern for the environment; moreover, with the aid of charts and graphs and Darwinian science, this dapper fellow must be considered even more eco-conscious: indeed, he is a fine tribute to human evolution, to the advance of civilization itself.  [Oh, my daughter tells me that the person on the right is a woman! Still hard to tell, even from the larger version of this photo, but now I guess she's right.]

* RADIO RANT: ProNOUNciation

As someone who grew up a poor breed introvert in the "sticks," I spent a lot of time reading the classics on my own—but never hearing anyone pronounce the names of the people I was reading. So through junior high and high school, I thought "Yeats" rhymed with "Keats," and I pronounced the German author of Faust as "GOHTH"—and never lived it down, in my own mind. So I'm particularly sensitive about pronunciation. The following, then, are really complaints about mes semblables et mes frères, to paraphrase Baudelaire:

1) Rush Limbaugh, for instance, had a running commercial blurb a few weeks ago in which he mocked those (of us) who have mocked his grandiloquence. But he pronounced the word "grandELoquent." There's irony for thee, good apothecary.

2) But Michael Savage is (again) my main target of complaint. Since his doctorate is in nutritional science (or nutritional ethnomedicine—there seems some controversy here), you'd think he'd know that the h in "herbal" is silent, but he continually aspirates it when he speaks of formerly being in the "herbal business." This may be some inside joke with himself and long-time listeners; if so, I don't get it. (Like Rush, he also seems to think that emphasizing one syllable of a word overly long is either very funny or otherwise incredibly rhetorically effective. Again, I don't get it.) . . . Also, instead of pronouncing homocide as "HAWMuhside," like most of us, he insists on saying "HOMOside." But this may again be an attempt at humor & political-moral commentary: "Look! I can attack gays even when I'm talking about something else completely!" . . . However, I'm certain that he doesn't know how to pronounce monolingual and proselytize; the first syllables, respectively, are not "MOH" and "PROH." . . . Finally (and this is grammar, not pronunciation), Savage has half-remembered some apocryphal Voltaire this last week or two, having at several points said to us liberals that he "will fight to the death your right to"—well, be stupidly, wackily liberal and wrong. But the original is "defend to the death," of course; Savage's version is syntactic gibberish. (Or the OPPOSITE of what he means: "fight your right"?!)

3) Finally, it's no great shock that the French language has never had a chance in the good ol' USA. Close to home—in South Dakota—French-Indian names that end in -eaux often end up being pronounced as "-ooh" (e.g., Roubideaux; Flandreaux). A vowel shift of sorts, really. But my big gripe in this category involves media pronunciations of Moulin Rouge, especially in the song "Lady Marmalade" from the recent movie about said French placename. Why someone has insisted that they sing "moohLAW(n)" is beyond me, especially since there are also many mainstream media examples of its correct pronunciation. (This includes the actors in the movie itself, one web site claims, although I don't remember myself if this is true. It's another of those movies that my wife made me watch. While that damned bird of hers bit the hell out of me!)

* RADIO RANT: OverOverstatingstating the Obvious

The quandary of 24-hour cable sports news and of sports-radio-talkshow news &—especially—play-by-play commentary: why must these guys & gals forever be spouting the hackneyed & obvious? (Examples among myriads: the number of home runs Babe Ruth hit, either in his career or his best season; what the offsides rule in hockey [or soccer] is; the last year the Cubs won the World Series; how many feet a receiver needs in-bounds for a legal catch in college football; which NBA center "always" outplayed Wilt Chamberlain, even though Wilt scored 100 points in a single game; when a baserunner shouldn't risk making an out at third base; what a Maryland "Terrapin" is; what a rotten bastard Ty Cobb was, personally; why/how the NFL has surpassed baseball as our national pastime; etc., etc.) The most blatant criminals in this regard include Brent Musburger, Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan, and John Madden, and most of the ESPN and FOX Sports newswriters. We (sports fans) KNOW all this! Those who don't know such stuff aren't even watching/listening, because they obviously care little or nothing about sports in the first place. In sum, you're wasting all of our time in aiming this so-called enlightening info at an audience that doesn't exist. . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2007

* John & Martha VI

À propos the Michael Vick dog-betting fiasco:

* RADIO RANT: Dog Eat Dog; Rich Wear Fur

The outrage by the talking heads on sports talk radio and cable news regarding the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal was understandably vehement—but so self-righteous. That is, all these people can be "right," but for the wrong reasons. "How inhumane! I'm a dog lover! All Americans love dogs!" But when the occasional "nut" called in suggesting that shooting deer and pheasants is no less barbaric, such discourse was dismissed as beyond the pale. Worst has been the pompous&supercilious attitude of ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd, whose elitist/urbanite biases distinguished themselves: pit-bull fighting is a despicable sport practiced especially by the poor, the rural, and the Southern (and the—shshshsh—black). You're so right, Colin. You city folk are immune to such first-hand visceral cruelty, with enough money to distance yourself from the inhumane (such an ironic term) factory farming that provides you with your veal parmesan and chicken Kiev, while your pasty-skinned lazy Euro-jet-trash-of-a-wife can't decide whether to wear a dead fox or mink, to cover her pastiness.

All this outrage is also completely anthropocentric: that is, it's all about us humans—including "man's best friend." There would certainly have been less outrage if Vick had been involved in cockfighting. Or how about terrapin matches? (Yeh, probably very lengthy affairs.) Or cricket bouts, to the death?! My point is that, if humankind has an innate biophilia (love of all life), it's still quite mammalo-centric: we love the animals that remind us most of us, that have fur, and cuddly babies . . . and maybe milk that we can feed to our own babies. And so, following my niece & nephew around the zoo gift shop last week, I wasn't surprised to see that nearly all of the stuffed animals were mammals. The few birds seemed unnatural and stiff and "distant"; the reptiles and insects were intentionally rubbery and "alien."

In fact, though my book-in-manuscript spends pages on end explaining the poets' age-old obsession with birds, I'm still rather surprised when people actually grow attached to them as pets. (I refuse to do so, being against caged birds in general.) But my wife, for one, treats her budgie as her best friend, though it shits on her shoulder all the time and bites the hell out of me when I show up. (Well, at least we and birds are both vertebrates: so, yeh, birds still kick ass on locusts as pets.) But I wonder if the average human mourns as much when his/her lovebird flies out the window in the middle of winter and never returns, compared to when old Fido gets run over by the neighbor's car. Birds, I guess, are somewhere between our mammal-compatriot dogs and cats—and that goldfish whose tombstone is the toilet-bowl lid. ("Mom! Where's Jimmy? He's not in his bowl!")

I've wandered far from Michael Vick to illustrate how problematic "animal rights" is. I don't even like that term ("rights" is a human legal construct, after all), preferring Lawrence Buell's phrase, "nonanthropocentric ethics." But that won't fit into a talking point or on a bumper sticker.

[Added same night:] Wow: it's pretty fascinating to learn, then, that Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank's reaction to his quarterback's legal problems has been belated because the fellow has been on vacation. In Africa. On safari.

* RADIO RANT: Blue Earth Inter-Tribal

"Blue Earth Inter-Tribal is the lodge for the 21st century[!!] Native American Traditionalist[!!]." (21st-century . . . traditionalist?!—I want my "New Age" and my "Old-Time" religion, too.) Yeh, and now they're advertising on network radio big-time. These people are f#$%s; er, fakes. There is no such thing as "Indian spirituality" that is not tribal-specific. (And what's up with their "Indian-feather" logo—is that a Star of David inside the circle?!) And as I've said already on my "Indian Pop Culture" pages, if they're chargin' yu' money, they ain't "authentic." This is just so much reprehensible bullshit, and an attempt, furthermore, to take advantage of a mainstream white culture that has found its own religion to be insufficient, wanting, no longer nurturing. (Hey, if that's your case, the SUN DANCE won't help yu'. [Hey-yeh-yeh-yelo.])

* Bury My Heart & Dances w/ Wolves

But at last, the movie is about Eastman's own tortured culturally hybrid soul.
My brother just sent me a homemade VHS recording of the recent HBO movie, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. (Our cousin actually got invited to the premiere a month or two ago, in Rapid City, SoDak, as an employee of United Sioux Tribes.) Well—I hated it immediately, with the opening gross historical inaccuracy of Ohiyesa/Charles Eastman being present as a boy at the Little Big Horn. He wasn't there. He wasn't even Lakota, but Dakota, for starters, an embarrassing fact that was glossed over by the (also historically bogus) use of "Sioux"—even by the "Sioux"—in much of the movie's dialogue. (In sum, Eastman was even more the "outsider" at Pine Ridge/Wounded Knee, for reasons beyond his Eastern education and assimilation.) Also, Eastman was much less questioning of the benevolence of white culture & colonization than the movie presents—especially before the Wounded Knee Massacre, anyway, at which point his memoirs reveal a new looking askance at the wonders of the colonizing project. But the title of his eventual book, From the Deep Woods to Civilization, implies no conscious irony, and he remained an assimilated Christian who never renounced his brainwashing that Western Civilization was positive human evolution at work.

I was also put off by the initial characterization of Sitting Bull as an egoist engaging in petty cruelty. Where is Tatanka Iotanka as wicasa wakan, as singer & seer? (That is, Sitting Bull was above all a "medicine man" who wrote a song to a meadowlark, not a political/hereditary chief per se.) The justification for this seems to be some formulaic plot/character transformation: "middle-aged grump/crank/egoist loses hubris and becomes old, venerable sage." (I myself am waiting for this to happen. To me.) . . . Other problems: Standing Rock (Sitting Bull's rez, in south-central North Dakota) and Pine Ridge (southwestern South Dakota) are sure a lot closer in the movie, "geographically"!?—for plot "integrity," obviously, especially in the conflation of Sitting Bull's murder and the Wounded Knee Massacre itself. And the cinematographic dramatization of this latter, the movie's apparent climax, pales in comparison to, say, Black Elk's or even Eastman's own written memories thereof. But at last, the movie is about Eastman's own tortured culturally hybrid soul. (Note the movie's final crucial image, a "union" of the crucifix and the feather. And this is also a typically Western-Civ. emphasis on the individual ego and all that "suffering hero's journey" stuff, I might add.) . . . A final minor reason for disliking the movie is Adam Beach's acting: sure he's the hunk-Native actor of our day, but I can't watch him in anything now without seeing his shit-eating grin in Smoke Signals in my mind's eye. But this is probably my problem.

However, there are several moving moments in the film, which, as with Dances with Wolves, prevent one from despising it completely. Like the finale of Dances, the words of Sitting Bull and Red Cloud at the "Council"—however historically inaccurate—make the Indian in me want to cheer and cry at the same time. . . . I recall a graduate lit. theory class in which a voluble&vociferous South American "radical" brought up Dances with Wolves, in the context of race and poco theory. She stated categorically that no "Indian" could/would tolerate the movie, given its various misrepresentations of Native culture (not that I'm sure that she could have pointed them out). I sat there—agawk, silent as Kaw-liga (the stereotype is true!?). I wanted to say—and curse myself to this day that I didn't say—"Well, I can name two 'Indians' who loved the movie: my MOM, and my BROTHER (whom they call 'Chief' at his job, to this day). And they both live in that local country where the movie was shot. And they both go up to Sioux San—in Rapid, en'it—for their meds. And your intellectual ass wants to deny them the right to enjoy one of the few semi-positive portrayals of the Lakota in the mainstream media, in their lifetimes?" But I didn't say a word, aware deep in my soul that, someday, the . . . blog would be invented.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

* Peahen Politics

* Portrait of the Artist as a Pissed Bird

This Cattle Egret was a highlight at the Folsom Children's Zoo—a person upon whom I could project my own misanthropic mood. . . . Through the series of four picts, he/she seems to get more and more indignant, to the point of a slow burn:

* Humane Slaughter Wins!

I'm not even awake yet, really, but I just heard on the radio that those bastards at PETA have once again maligned our good people at Omaha Beef (or someplace like that, business-wise): those godless radicals are wrong again! Our good local meat people have been judged by the authorities to have "done nothing wrong against the 'Inhumane Slaughter Act'"! (God, I never knew there WAS such a law. . . . and thank the Good Lord once again for all acts of HUMANE slaughter, wherever they occur. . . .)

But then, I do have a problem w/ PETA, as I do w/ most so-called "animal rights" groups: they are often so damned "mammalo-centric" (to quote a term coined in my book manuscript), and/or so infatuated w/ the "big" animals of either size or number that I gladly prefer the even greater (and truer) radicalism of Deep Ecology. . . .

[P.S., later this morning: I'm not even sure that there is such a thing as the "Inhumane Slaughter Act" now; I may well have been (partly?) dreaming? This quit-smoking nicotine stuff says that it may cause "vivid dreams"—in which case, one should stop using it immediately and consult a physician. Huh?? What civilization/culture before/besides ours has been so dead-set against "vivid dreams"?!

But a web search for the "Inhumane Slaughter Act"(!) confirms the fact: I manufactured an entire blog entry—complete with initial satire and and subsequent arguments of some vehemence—around a nicotine hallucination, apparently, around two or three heard or misheard words on the morning radio news as I was just waking up. But it all seemed so real!

And of course and finally—those on the right could well claim that I've only been tilting at windmills all along, and chasing chimeras from day one; but then they must have missed the poetic truth of everything written above. And below.]

* EGRETude #1 (Bad Vibes at the FCZoo)

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