Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This is what a feminist looks like

I was wearing my "This is what a feminist looks like" tank top to a football party a couple of years ago. One of my friends commented that he thought feminists wore cargo pants and Doc Martens. To which I sighed, "Matt, that's the point! Feminists look like that, but they also can be sexy. And, for that matter, they can also be dudes."

And feminists can also be gray-haired old mathematicians, like Gerald Gardner who passed away last week.

A geophysicist and mathematician, Gardner provided the statistical analysis that bolstered a 1973 landmark sex discrimination case. He and his wife were among the earliest members of the Pittsburgh predecessor to NOW.

Reading about Gardner yesterday reminded me of the importance of being a feminist, in practice and in name. And it makes me proud that my husband is one, too. I have a daughter who hugs her football with as much love as she hugs her pink stuffed bears, and that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cat gratitude

My dear sweet husband is very fond of pointing out that when he met me, I was a hopelessly terrible dancer who hated cats. He takes visible pride in having reversed both of these issues, though friends would probably say that while there has been notable progress on the former, there is still a great deal of work to be done.

This anecdote, however, illustrates how the latter, my new-found regard for cats, is continually put to the test by none other than Sirius and Buffy, themselves. Mostly Sirius.

Some days our hectic lives catch up with us, as happened on Saturday. We had two parties to go to, which used to require only scheduling finesse but with a 2-year-old in the mix seems to be much more challenging. Since the Bug loves parties, she was completely fine with blowing right past her nap amidst the festivities. We got home around 7:00, gave her a quick dinner and bath, and put her to bed by about 8:15. At which time Joker and I proceeded to crash as well, in our clothes and on top of the covers. I got myself up around 9:30... for the excitement of a frozen burrito and a quick read-through of the newspaper.

So as not to arouse my sleeping husband, I didn't turn on any of the lights as I passed through our room on the way to brush my teeth. Which is how my left foot found itself smack dab in the middle of a cold, wet pile of gently used cat food. I silently cursed Sirius while I scrubbed cat vomit out of our white shag carpet in the dark. His furry black ass is now on Cat Treat Probation. If he remains barf-free, he'll be permanently off of the crunchy little feline-meth tablets. If his vomit problem returns, in addition to being sans treats, he'll also win himself an all-expense paid trip to le vet to see if anything can be done. I'm pretty sure when I agreed to bring him into our home it was under the explicit condition that I never - repeat, NEVER - would clean up after him. Of course, I'm pretty sure I also swore he would never sleep in our bed, that if he ever woke me up he'd be banished from the bedroom, and that Joker would have to brush him every day to minimize shedding. Those didn't stick, either.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Smithsonian Art Museum: Washington, DC

Mima sent this to the Bug from her latest business-and-pleasure visit to Washington, DC. She said the painting reminded her of the Bug... who immediately remarked upon seeing the postcard that it was a picture of her with her Mima!

That's what I'm into

For someone who works in television, I am woefully unschooled in the programming that actually airs on the medium. So this may come as old news for those of you more in the know, but Flight of the Conchords has got to be funniest show on television. I mean, these guys are freaking hilarious! Joker and I are just a few episodes into the first season, and it is definitely laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Aquarium update

Almost two months later, my fish tank is finally populated with its first five schools! I bought three each of the following apparently hearty (and thus good for brand new tanks) breeds: green tiger barbs, gold barbs, zebra danios, bleeding heart tetras, and white clouds (which unfortunately already number just two).

These are some seriously happy and joyful little friends, and I am sure you will be impressed by the photo shoot we had today:

Two of the gold barbs are in front of the bonzai, one of the green tigers is just above them, a couple of the zebras are swimming very fast in the top right corner, with another green tiger below them, and one of the white clouds below that one.

To the Lighthouse

Since struggling through Virginia Woolf's brutally dull To the Lighthouse, I have tried to find a valid defense of this modernist classic. It's one of Time's 100 greatest English novels of all time, and it supposedly takes the stream-of-consciousness writing style that worked well in Mrs. Dalloway to a whole new level. My ass. This book is dull, dull, dull. Nothing happens. Woolf may have been many things, but this frankly does not showcase her talent. In fact, you'd be better served reading her Wikipedia page - her personal life is far more interesting than this insipid book.

Up next: I'm treating myself to Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's new-ish translation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. I love the Russians, but was rushed through my first reading of this classic. That, combined with the phenomenal translating team of Pevear/Volokhonsky, has me giddy with anticipation!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The hard lesson

Yesterday morning I observed something that I have never before seen in my twenty years of road running: I saw an animal get hit by a car and die. It frankly didn't bother me - while I would rather the rabbit have died of old age in his cozy rabbit hole, surrounded by thousands of his little rabbit progeny, I think the death of wild animals is simply part of the natural order of things. I eat meat, I fish, I have no problem with hunting. Don't get me wrong: I think people who torture animals have something seriously wrong with them. But the death of a wild animal is of little importance to me.

It did, however, get me to thinking about how my Bug will feel about death, and how and when to teach her about it. Buffy and Sirius won't live forever, but they're young cats with incredibly sheltered lives, and the Bug's lessons will probably be long behind us before they expire. My parents' dear, sweet old Mack recently passed away, but it seemed a bit abstract for a two-year-old to comprehend the death of a dog she loved but didn't see on a daily basis.

What really struck me while I was meandering down this train of thought was that this is a lesson without any good ways of being taught. The overwhelming feeling of loss associated with the death of someone dear cannot be explained. The Bug will learn about death, and she'll decide for herself whether she believes we'll all reunite someday in a castle in the sky. But she won't learn that from Joker or from me. We won't be able to protect her from the pain of that lesson, and will be seemingly for naught. I think the best we can hope for is to prepare her with the strength and the support network to handle it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Slice of summer

The Bug's awesome babysitter has started taking her to the Trumbull library on Thursdays for story time and arts & crafts. The summer icon below is her first-ever construction paper creation:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I'd been looking forward to reading Watchmen, probably the most critically-acclaimed graphic novel of all time, for over a year when I finally picked it up. While I appreciate certain merits of the book - that it turned the superhero model on its head in some ways, with every hero having major flaws and every villain having redeeming qualities - I can't say I really enjoyed it. The plot wasn't interesting or complex enough to keep me hooked, nor did I find the art to be visually appealing.

Watchmen is set in an alternate 1980s reality, where the only thing keeping nuclear war at bay is Dr. Manhattan, a naked, blue dude whose dalliance with a nuclear reactor some years ago gave him major super powers (the ability to see all time in complete and non-linear fashion, super strength and quickness, teleportation, and the aforementioned blueness). The story opens with the gruesome murder of The Comedian, an ex-vigilante costumed crime fighter who'd been sanctioned by the government. Comedian's ex-teammate, the un-sanctioned vigilante Rorschach, sees the event as evidence of a huge anti-masked-hero conspiracy. Rorschach sets out to warn another former teammate, Dan Dreiberg (aka Nite Owl II), of the impending danger, just before he's framed for murder himself and thrown in jail. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II (you guessed it, another ex-teammate) now have to break him out of the pokey so that they can get to the bottom of it all.

The primary plot is interwoven with a number of sub-plots, my least favorite of which was a comic-within-a-comic about an evil pirate ship. Between each chapter there are relatively interesting "excerpts" from other books or articles about various characters - part of the first Nite Owl's autobiography, the first Silk Spectre's scrapback, a really lame article on owls "written" by Dreiberg. These explore various characters' back stories, and are in some ways better than the main book.

As a whole, I just didn't find Watchmen to be all that compelling. I wouldn't even call it the best comic book/graphic novel that I've read, and I've only read a few. It didn't piss me off enough that I'd swear off the medium altogether, but neither would I recommend it.

Next up: Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. I love that guy, and am looking forward to another of his satires.