Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tactical Spinster Thursday:The Long National Election 2016 Nightmare Begins

Over the weekend, Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) announced her bid for the presidency. I hope to write many things here on Tactical Spinster Thursday, but I want to get started with what I hope will become my overriding message on this impending national nightmare: do not cast your vote for a vagina in the White House (VWH). This is not the vagina you are looking for.

There, I said it.

I will now list my principle objections to this particular VWH:

Benghazi I have to go right to the top of the list with Benghazi. Long before the American Ambassador, Chris Stevens, was dragged into the streets of Benghazi and murdered like a dog while Barack Obama, the President of the United States, did nothing while huddled under his desk shitting his pants, trying to listen to Valerie Jarret about the best way to cover up his inability to act to save his legacy or whatever, I was for HRC before I was against her. I had many times and publicly during the 2008 campaigns said I would vote for HRC over Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain. I honestly do not know what I was thinking, looking back--but when you have a presidential field so piss poor testosterone-wise and keeping an eye to some kind of experience, you have to look a little farther afield then gender and party. When Benghazi was breaking, my only hope in the whole wretchedly craven mess was HRC. But no, stricken as she looked when the bodies came out draped in the colors, the blood of those murdered there was all over her hands, too. Why? Because it was clear at that moment that Hillary was going to line up with the President and the party while eying her 2016 bid for the presidency and go with the cover-up concocted by the White House about some lame video that the murderers of  the Ambassador and four Americans had never seen. It was clear that this was an orchestrated Islamic terrorist attack on the embassy and you could trot out Susan Rice all you wanted to to repeat the lame story it remains to this day as a cover up and it would not change the truth. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in this while knowing the gravity and the horror of the situation. She knew it was wrong. She could not, however, bring herself to do the right thing. In my estimation, had HRC been POTUS, I believed at that time that she would have done everything in her power to not let that go down the way it did. I do not believe that now, based on what she actually did then. I will never cast my vote for her. I don't care how many vaginas she has on her or with her or in her coterie of minions to run this country. Never.
Bill Clinton  My first real memory of HRC was when she said this, way back in 1992:
I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.
                               Response to reporter's questions (16 March 1992), reported on "Making Hillary an Issue" Nightline (26 March 1992). Quoted in Boston Globe.
 I have to say that I really liked this lady for saying this. It was 1992, she was campaigning around with Bill, she had nice hair and headbands, she was a lawyer herself and had attended a very women centered centered women's liberal arts college. Who among us women centered centered women was not saying this same thing as we made our way in the world? It was good to hear a woman say--well, I'm in it, too and I'm not in it like Jackie O and the Kennedy sisters. That was then and it was ok then, but women have gained much more ground to run on. Unfortunately, that is not the Hillary of today. Too much silence over the indiscretions of her man whom she later said she was not standing by like Tammy Wynette sang and then stood by her man like Tammy Wynette sang.  She then had to go to the next place and say that there was a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy out to get her husband and suddenly I'm nostalgic for Jackie Kennedy and her sisters who it turns out when you look at the mess that is HRC's response to a husband sleeping with every woman and her sister--perhaps discretion is the better part of opening your mouth and concocting a fake conspiracy to answer for Bill. Then HRC is forced to kind of disappear while Bill says nonsensory like It depends on what the meaning of the word is is to answer for the Monica Lewinsky debacle. I guess my point here is that she started out strong as a woman making her way in the world with a useless man and has just devolved downward. She is someone who you sense has been told, Well, Hill, it depends on what the meaning of is is, to the question, "Bill, is Monica Lewinsky another one of your dumb bunny interns on her knees?"  At that point, with her own ambitions cooking in her head she decides to follow along with what Miss Tammy Wynette sang and with what Mrs. Kennedy did: Stand by your man and tell the world you love him. Turns out Miss Tammy had a point if you want to be Madame President in 2016--and that slightly disparaging remark toward Jackie about baking cookies and having teas? Kind of makes HRC look petty towards a woman with class and a sense of her own worth and greatness outside of the work and public life of her husband.
Feminist Icon, Not When I think of the criteria of what makes a woman a feminist icon, I do not believe HRC has any of these qualities or accomplishments. All feminist icons have a vagina, so ok, you got me there, but there it ends. I think in the future, I will be writing about this, so I will let it go at that so you can mull about what may comprise my list of What Makes a Feminist Icon.
Experience, Not so Much Look, being a survivor in her marriage, in the White House, in Washington, most women, if that is all it takes, have that experience. Hillary and women everywhere are survivors and overcomers. Miss Tammy Wynette might say that without Bill, there would be no Hillary 2016.  How does this distinguish her from any other woman? It doesn't really. She has a good education? Many women have good educations. Many women have done great things with a good education and many have done great things without an education. She is smart, savvy, and knows how to play in the Bigs? Again, plenty of other women are these things. She was the first woman SecState? So the party and the Obama Administration gave her a consolation prize befitting her status as the wife of Bill and the heiress apparent of the Presidency after it became clear the powers that be were going with Barack Obama, instead. As SecStat she...?  Yes, she...? See first entry above. Also, couldn't use two communication devices at the same time, set up her own private computer server in the basement of her home (we will get to all this) and did who knows what because she was in her private world where laws, the Constitution, policy of the State Department and such are not applicable to her. Even if all she did was wander the vast expanse of planet earth on the public dime  making "friends" with money who would later be able to support her as President and pledge to work with her blah blah blah how does this put the best interests and national security of this country ahead of her own and that of her political dynasty family?

And also? No one disses Miss Tammy Wynette and Jackie Kennedy and gets to be the President of the United States.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

For Those About to be Triggered: The Gg Condition Early Warning System for The Tactical Spinster Thursdays

Let it not be said that I have no concern for my fellow person. Thus, I have developed the Gg Condition (Gcon for short) Early Warning System for those about to be triggered by reading my words. These will be assessed and deployed on Tactical Spinster Thursday for your safety.

GgCon5  Lowest state of triggering.GgCon5 Lowest state of triggering.
I'm not sure that I am going to keep this particular graphic, as much as my friends on the left feel comforted with unicorns and rainbow shyte. It gets the message across pretty straight forwardly and anyone that sees it will feel free to go ahead and read on as I am about to say something (a) completely out of character for my politics or (b) I am going to reveal parts of my political character that lean Left or (c) I have gone completely around the political commentary bend, Left-wise, causing you to ask (plaintively) Where is Gg and what have you done with her? This probably will not happen that often, but because I cannot rule it out, here it is.

GgCon4  Increased triggering watch and strengthened anti-triggering measuresGgCon4 Increased triggering watch and strengthened anti-triggering measures
I picked this because it is a faerie and sprites sitting in a circle chatting. Perhaps there will be a post that is just that and although about politics, people can sit and read and then feel free to interact with the topic without feeling the threat of Nazism raising its ugly head...
GgCon3  Increase in triggering readiness above that required for normal readinessGgCon3 Increase in triggering readiness above that required for normal readiness
Turn back now if you love me. From here on in, most Leftists will want to just walk away on Tactical Spinster Thursdays. Keeping the door closed (as it were) is probably a good idea.

GgCon2  Next step to triggeringGgCon2 Next step to triggering
You're a grand old flag, you're a high flying flag and forever in peace may you wave. You're the emblem of the land I love, the home of the free and the brave...pretty much says it all about this post designation. And The Constitution.

GgCon1 Triggering  is imminentGgCon1 Triggering is imminent
 CAUTION: This scene is very intense. War, bloodshed, death, destruction. You have been warned. From now on, all such warnings will only be presented with the above flag patch.

In this scene from Blackhawk Down, (no less than one of the very best war films in the number two spot here at The Spinster's Compass after Band of Brothers), Eric Bana stars with the fabulous Tom Sizemore opening our scene. This scene will trigger you, I shit you not and so will the post with this battle flag patch icon attached to it. In other words: do not read the post, do not comment on the post if you read it--and furthermore, do not look at this video.

I hope this has been helpful in maintaining our friendship on Tactical Spinster Thursdays. I think this system works well for true Americans as well. It will help them gauge the greatness of the post by the level of passion with which I write it on the news of the day. That which triggers my friends in The Vast Left Conspiracy will encourage those of us in The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Let us go forth in peace.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Walking Dead's Archer Dude and a Few Season Finale Thoughts

As we are a few days away from the season finale of The Walking Dead, it is time for a Daryl Dixon retrospective and some season finale thoughts. Not that we have much to go on for this season with DD, because DD has been woefully in absentia for the majority of the eps especially in this back nine, but here we go. The absence of DD has dragged the whole show--that's right--the whole show into the story shitter. The show has been circling the story shitter ever since the prison war. I'm not saying Andrew Lincoln isn't doing some good work. His character's look evolution has been appropriate, believable, and thought-provoking seeing as how last week, Rick became the new Shane. It's about time. However, this is an ensemble show and these writers and show runners do not seem to know what to do with their ensemble, how to showcase members, how to craft story in and around and about them and zombies and other humans. Thus we have a very bad situation for going forward.

First, Daryl. As goes Daryl, so goes the show.

I've been saying it all season, and I will say it now: when did Daryl have the time to get his fashion model haircut, dye his hair black, and why? I don't like this new DD.  I know Norman is a fashion model. I know Norman has a $500 fashion model haircut and dye. I also know that Norman does not have pitch black hair.  It cannot even be said that they were trying to go for a darker DD this season, because Daryl has been increasingly going sensitive-strong, thoughtful-open, and relaxed-free. That's going light, not going dark. I miss the Daryl Dixon of the first three seasons, just as I am missing Daryl Dixon, period.  

Daryl was the farthest thing from a fashion model. He was a broken boy/man with an abusive older brother, Merle, who did not have a heart of gold. These two were story gold, however. So they kill off Merle, just when he was getting really interesting. Bad move. Daryl was a survivor of the most horrific physical and mental abuse (some of it at the hands of Merle)--who nonetheless started to bond with the members of his group while still being the most bad ass awesome zombie slayer and protector of women and children on the show. Rick was the protector of his family. Shane wanted to protect the group but was busy protecting Rick, Lori, and Carl, for love of Lori. It was really left to Daryl to be the guardian and avenging angel. Daryl is now (we are left to imagine) wandering around in the woods, thinking deep thoughts about when his next cover shoot is for GQ or Moda Italia. He looks out of place and preoccupied with stardom or something because they have stopped writing for Daryl--stopped writing for story--and have been writing badly. Story drives character, drives interest, drives what is good to watch.

The story has deteriorated along with Daryl's look, as well. 

Alexandria is by far the worst encounter of other humans thus far--and by worst I do not mean that these are bad people (who knows/who cares?). These are boring people. If I ran across these people in the Zpoc, I certainly would not be staying with them. These people are more creepy and out of place than the zombies, Philly bad boys, Woodbury and the governor, the trailer camp people, the Terminus cannibals, and the hospital freaks who killed Beth. Remember the group they met in Atlanta that was protecting the nursing home old folks? That was the only interesting and believable group in this whole series. Those people deserved many more eps or their own spin off. We've never seen another group (that is sane) like those boys and their old persons.

Speaking of interesting and believable: they kill off (granted, in a glorious way) one of the best characters and actors on the show: Tyrese. That episode was far and away one of the very best episodes of the series, if not the best and deserves to be ranked up there with the Rick and Shane death fight at the school when they went to abandon the Philly kid, and the death of Shane ep. Tyrese they kill off--who had so many stories left in him and about him after his time with Carol and Mika and her crazy sister who looked at flowers...bad move. Very bad, wasteful move.

There hasn't been enough time spent in developing Alexandria and our group being there--so now we are at the season finale and I'm not sure why--except it's the season finale so--everything's got to change. Who are these Alexandria people? Why are they so clean and well fed? They don't look smart enough or prepper savvy enough to save themselves in such a fine station of life. Would you stay among them?  Is Rick crazy or smart or crazy smart like Shane as he seems to just want to take over the place and get on with it? That makes the most sense, actually. However, looking ahead, if they take the place, which is where this appears to be going, then what? This has always been the issue with this show. Then what? Indeed, the writers/show runners do not seem to know. I have a few ideas, but they don't seem to care, satisfied with moving our little group from one crazy-assed group of survivors to encounter to the next. It's tiresome. Are there no sane people left after the Zpoc?  Moving on, what's up with the girl who has taken up the sniper position in the woods? Yes, a tertiary character who we don't know much about except she fell in love with Bob who died a few eps back has refused to come in and play suburban house party with the others. She's so secondary, she's tertiary and I can't even remember her name. I didn't care about her when she allegedly fell in love with Bob. Why would she do that? He was a weirdy from the get go and never her type believably. I didn't care when Bob died. I didn't care when she was struck down with grief. I don't care now that she is crazy sniper girl (except that she is a sniper. That's cool.)

There are a whole host of characters who who need to be killed off in the most unimaginably zombie laden way and here they are: All the Alexandria people except for Enid (Enid? Seriously, who names a girl Enid in 2015?):  Jessi and her kid, Eugene, Abraham and his girlfriend, and that other girl from the trailer camp people. Done and done. The sniper girl can live, if and only if, she stops crying about Bob and the Zpoc in general--and this only because we need a sniper on the high ground. Honestly, though, Carol can do that--except we need her taking care of the ordnance.  Jessi has to go because I am not buying this romance with Rick--except that it creepily mirrors the whole Shane/Lori thing. Jessi and Rick have had no reason to fall in love with each other except for a few furtive glances, brushed hands against each other, and a wife beating husband. 

I need to say a few words about our gay friends in Alexandria. So they introduce a gay couple who apparently have no story except that they are gay and love each other and then the show gets to say, Look we have gay people on our show. Look how progressive we are. Daryl might even be gay--or he might fall in love with one of these gay men and then we will have a gay triangle...or...or...or...or WHAT? Are they making this up as they go along?  So far we have a gay man with a broken ankle who we never see again and his partner who is now wandering around in the woods (dressed in his JCrew finery) with pensive Daryl and then a spaghetti dinner party and...seriously? Where is the fucking story with these people? When I think about gay men in the apocalypse, the last thing I think of is them hosting spaghetti dinner wine parties and wandering around on patrol in JCrew. Stereotype much? Gay persons, much like fat girl nation, disabled persons, and The Other (as we are want to say in the academy) are hardcore survivors for whom the zombie apocalypse ain't no thing. Come on you idiots. Write some decent shit for these people, for once.

I am very close to saying that I am done with The Walking Dead. There was so much promise with this show. So much promise with the original cast. Can you remember when they spent a whole season searching for the little girl Sophia? Searching for wisdom? Only to find Sophia a zombie and watching as Rick is left to shoot her in the head--destroying wisdom--as in once there is a Zpoc everything we thought we knew is no more? As in, we thought we knew it all, but in the end we infected ourselves and our children with death and now there is nothing left?  Remember that story? So many stories that could be told--with and without zombies. Now it has come down to quick clips and confused episodes of about 20 film minutes in length with long commercial breaks, followed by an hour of analysis on The Talking Dead where there is no analysis because there is really nothing to analyze because there is no story driving the characters. The Talking Dead is just a vehicle to speculate about who may or may not die next. Who cares about that, anyhow, unless it's Daryl? And now, because Daryl has been allowed to take on the fashion model persona in the broken man's stead, and sidelined without a story (Carol? What about Carol and Daryl?) we have no need of Daryl at all. There. I said it.  If you kill off Daryl, Carol, Rick, or Carl, show ends. That leaves Michonne, Glenn, and then Maggie who must eventually die. Judith should have starved to death, unfortunately, last winter. How are they keeping that cute, chubby, healthy looking Zpoc baby alive? Acorns? Smashed acorns, road kill a la Daryl, and dust? Or, they could--if they were capable, write an episode about keeping Judith alive which would be a metaphor for staying alive during the Zpoc for humanity who have reduced themselves to helpless babies from a once thriving world such as the one in which we are right now living, right?

Again, they have wasted Michonne--a warrior queen, who they have turned into a whining, crying wreck (again, for no reason, ostensible or otherwise) who wants Rick to just settle down and stop running around in the woods. Michonne is too smart a woman to ever believe that this is a possibility in the current Zpoc--yet they have dumbed her down (without reason. What, she's tired? That's it?)  Everyone else--they can die: especially Maggie and Glenn. Actually, just Maggie. I never bought the whole Maggie/Glenn love story or whatever it was trying to be, forced to be. Maggie hasn't been of use this entire season--not as a fighter or much of anything else. Either write the woman or cut the character. I vote cut Maggie to keep Michonne. Glenn has been allowed to develop in this season and I think Glenn going forward without Maggie opens up opportunities for us to see good story from a Glenn thread. I hearken back to when Merle tied him up in the room with the walker and Glenn destroyed that walker with his bare hands and a chair. I come forward now to last week when Glenn laid down the law with that Alexandria guy about who gets to go outside the wall with a weapon. Glenn has the potential, when written right, to contribute to the story. Once the writers have  figured out that story is all--perhaps it would then be incumbent upon the show runners and writers to think about stories for these wonderful characters--stories that make sense as they make their way episodically through a zombie apocalypse. 

An episodic zombie tale must be about more than who dies this week. A zombie story has to be a vehicle about something larger, truer, and more real than zombies, because it really isn't about zombies, is it? Anyone can survive the zombie apocalypse--what we crave to see each week is how they do it and why they are able to keep doing it and what it does to them, as they go along. Therein we find the stories we crave like zombies crave brains, you might say.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Beginning of Knitting for a 19th Century Woman Trapped in a Post Modern World

  • What made me turn to knitting for something to do to fill the long hours of this Hiems horribilus, I'm not really sure. Perhaps the key words there are "to fill the long hours". Many women have spent the long hours filled with knitting. I was now becoming one of them. The bleak midwinter was made more so to me as it was filled with caretaking of a sick father (of which I am wholly unsuitable and dislike immensely, but is entirely keeping with this Victorian sounding tale). I am not a nurse. I don't like nursing or any parts of it--and especially not seeing nursing, smelling nursing, or touching nursing. I would have been a total disappointment in the Crimea with Florence--but Elizabeth Ann would have loved me in her little school community in Emmittsburg. 
  • My people crochet; all of them, both the Irish and the Sicilians. So I don't know. I blindly went off and bought a size 8 fourteen inch long pair of needles and some 100% cotton dishcloth yarn, because I gathered from online and youtube that everyone and their sister and including Fred Rogers' mom (who hand knitted all his sweaters) learning when she was seven starts with the dish cloth. I checked this out with AMZ who affirmed this was the way to go. I immediately realized these needles were too big for such a project. Then I bought six inch number six double points. These were ok but not for beginners fumbling around with needles and yarn and instructions and fear of stitch dropping or being a laughing stock to those knitting bombers and The Secret Spinsters Tactical Knitting Corps friends on my friends list. I landed on a size 6, ten inch pair of single point knitting needles. I started with wooden needles which people online suggested. These do not work for me. I do not recommend them for beginners or for dishcloths (Cf: AMZ, again). The cotton yarn is called Sugar and Cream and can be had (buy only on sale) at a craft store. Again, this recommendation from AMZ: do not be tempted byPeaches and Cream, which is a low grade knockoff. If you're going to do something, do it right. This cotton stuff is always on sale at some point and repeatedly. I will just let yarn, needles, patterns, projects, websites, and other knitting notions go for this communique, because there is so much in just those categories to think and write about with any kind of coherence. I must meditate on these things before passing on the wisdom of a beginner (in case you too, wish to begin). Lessons learned.
  • I practiced the garden stitch for a good three weeks when I was on night turn when my dad came home from Harmar. This resulted in a peacock color neck shawl and a tyedye dishcloth that mysteriously disappeared from the kitchen and was never seen again. I guess the house faeries were like, Uhm no. This cannot stand! They took that dishcloth and buried it in a forest faerie circle in Ligonier--far from here. My knitting friends proclaimed this thing "good work". This was very encouraging. Knitters, you will find, are the most encouraging sorts of persons. I then moved on to the official Grandma's Dishcloth Pattern. This is a very charming pattern that has been handed down to us from generations of women until no one knows who developed it and no one cares. It has a very pretty scalloped lace edge that is delightful to a beginner because it looks like something actually worth having when it is completed. It is also superduper easypeasy pumpkin pie. I made the first one out of a very delicate ecru and gave it to Mommy. She put it in some safe place, lest it still not be good enough for the The Knitting Committee of the Local House Faeries #219. I have not yet moved on from the dishcloth projects, but  have become almost expert, such that I am churning out dishcloths and also matching coaster sets for various people I love in colors that match their kitchens and/or personalities. I have yet to make a single thing for myself. I wonder if any knitters do. 
  • I have also started a winter baby/toddler pixie hat project list and one hat is in the pipeline for the growing list of babies coming into this world from a big list of grown ups who were once fifth graders. The design consists of a garden stitch border and stockinette stitch center. Quite charming a little pixie hat with a pompom on top. Don't get on me about assigning gender appropriate colors or binaries or whatever if your new woobie or toddler or teen or even yourself eventually gets a pixie hat. I am the designer and I execute the knitting and I will decide who gets what color. That any one would criticize a hand made gift is beyond me. I do not want to find a picture of my loving knitted handiwork on Jezebel with a venemous diatribe about how your child was gifted with a gender specific hued pixie hat and now their whole life is ruined because you were letting them decide their gender and my pixie hat ruined all that. You could just say thank you. You better say thank you. In writing. In cursive. On some nice paper. With a discernible border. Inclusive of the date, the greeting, the body, the closing, the farewell, and a legible signature. Stamp. Mail it. The Secret Spinsters Tactical Knitting Corps does not take kindly to lowered standards of courtesies and manners.
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Ebola: Run for Your Life

I have a question this morning: Why are we allowing the free transport of people with Ebola virus into the United States of America? Thus far, we have had zero reported cases of Ebola in the United States of America. Now we have two. 

This one question leads to a list of others:

  1. How did they get here? Commercial flight? Private?
  2. What precautions were taken on the flights?
  3. What was done to clean and clear the planes after the flights?
  4. Were those planes put back into commercial service here in the US?
  5. Who did the cleaning?
  6. Where, when, how, and by whom were the cleaning materials disposed?
  7. How many people were on theses flights?
  8. How was their safety considered?
  9. How did they come into contact with the Ebola victim and his/her caretakers?
  10. How were these people protected from contracting or carrying Ebola?

This is just a short list. This is a list that back in the olden days before journalism rolled over and died in favor of supporting pet causes and political favoritism would have been the questioning line to the government, to the Centers for Disease Control, to the airlines, to Homeland Security, and to anyone else a real journalist could pin down and ask a pointed question.

We cannot look to the president of the United States for answers, because he is not a serious man. He waves off the work of his office with dismissive hand gestures, lame attempts at hip humor, and whining about the hatin' haters who are hatin' on his folks who tryin' to get the work done if not for the hatin' haters. In a less serious scenario than importing a deadly virus with no cure that delivers an horrific death to its victims, this might be a way to address thing other than the topics of state. 

We cannot look to Congress, right or left, because they are so polarized by the unserious president and their own concerns for power and control, we might as well not have Congress. 

If Ebola doesn't frighten a body it's because we are first worlders and we haven't a clue how it is to watch a person die from it. For years, we have watched and read, and heard about it as it flares up in some far flung unfortunate African nation--so remote from our understanding that we don't even say a prayer that it doesn't jump to someone outside that country, hop a plane to Atlanta, and land in a busy flying hub in the United States of America. Will never happen, we muse. They won't let it. They? They are all of a sudden not only letting it--they are purposely allowing it--actively permitting and facilitating the possibility of infection of thousands and horrific deaths of American people. 

We have no collective memory in this country of uncontrolled death by contagious disease on a large scale in this country. No one remembers the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1919 that swept the world--including the United States and took out millions. Whole families in every little community of this country were wiped out. You can go to just about any cemetery of an older town and find the 
pandemic victims of that era laying in their quiet graves with headstones side by side indicating a lost family. We have no memory of empty streets and the few people on them even in our largest cities walking around with their faces covered for fear of contracting the flu. We don't know the grief of death. Modern life, medicine, and better living through chemistry has eradicated the way death stole into communities and took down the healthy and the weak--the young and the old without distinction. Many people have only the experience of losing a grandparent--someone whose time had come, and rightly so. We have been comfortable in the natural order of death: the old, the sick, the weak, the suffering. Throw in an accident here and there, the inexplicable cancer in a the young friend of a fiend of a friend-but by and large, we can explain the death we encounter these deaths and so--we do not know death

We think we are in no danger of an Ebola pandemic happening to us now--Ebola only happens in Third World countries where they don't have running water and internet connectivity. It's over there. It will run it's course before it gets to over here. A few doctors, nurses, and other admirable souls who care will die ministering to the victims over there and then it will die out and we won't hear of it again until later.

Only not this time. The government of the United States of America has brought Ebola to us, landed it in one of the busiest airline hubs in the country, has exposed the entire community in Atlanta to this horrific sickness and death with no cure, and is also apparently allowing it to stream over the border along with untold other diseases that we have handily controlled in this country for the last 75 years.

I hope we don't have to learn the lessons of stupidity and hubris and grief and suffering that our government has brought to us--a lesson that was learned by our ancestors almost one hundred years ago. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of these movies that could have ended so much sooner and without a lot of bloodshed for the humans and the apes if only people and apes could trust each other, sit down to talk one on one, share books, life stories, heal each other's hurts, learn to get along and in the end--to love one another.

Sound familiar? 

Hollywood has this penchant (Avatar for the most glaringly obvious) of deploying this admirable and wishable dream on the rest of us. The bad guys are bad because they are both tormented and tortured--usually by members of their opposing tribal members. In this case, humans of course have tortured the apes and thus the apes cannot love nor trust humans with good reason, right? We put them in cages and allowed Maybelline and Revlon and Umbrella Corp., and the Military Industrial Complex to torture them for centuries. On the other hand, the Simian Flu that escaped a lab and caused the almost extinction event for humanity caused pain and torture to humans who now cannot love nor trust the apes. Except there is always one guy and one ape that try to rise above all this and learn to love and trust again so everyone can live in peace. Throw in your rogue, hillbilly, ape killers opposing your rogue tortured ape with a revenge fantasy and that's pretty much this whole movie. Why can't we all get along?

There are serious flaws in this movie:  Apes and humans have lived for ten years not knowing of each other's existence even though the City compound (SanFrancisco dystopian style) and the ape village are pretty much within sight of each other. Yet, both humans and apes are totally shocked to run into each other in the forest--the humans looking to reach a defunct hydroelectric facility. Along for the ride is the one guy, armed of course, who used to work at the facility. This guy also has a shaky trigger finger and hates apes. Chaos ensues from there, even though the one human and the one ape leader try to make it work. Why does the crazy guy with the gun always have the mystical powers to make the plan work? Why can't he be the guy with the mystical powers who is disarmed? Why is the leader of the humans hell bent on a war "to save humanity" when the other option is just to take a beat and try talking to the apes whose territory humans must cross to get to the hydroelectric plant? Isn't there another route around the apes? How did they know the hydroelectric plant was there, but not the ape village? When the crazy American leader calls in an air strike after making contact with other humans (an air strike, really?) to eradicate the armed ape forces--why doesn't the good guy call off the air strike? Why does every single human hate and despise the apes in the first place? Sure it was a Simian Flu that escaped the lab--but it escaped the lab because of a human--not the hapless apes and monkeys. Were the humans riled up into hating the apes--was that in the other movie? Are there no humans in the City that would say--hey, wait a minute--let's not jump the gun here. Let's ask the apes if we can cross through their territory, do what we need to do at the hydroelectric plant and then we can all live in in peace. Hydroelectric plant? Can one crazy guy with the apparent education and apparent abilities of a Walmart garden area employee get this defunct thing to go again? How is it that the City is so heavily armed ten years after the extinction event in the first place--because "FEMA" left it all behind for them? Where did they go? Why is the human leader suddenly made to 
be a crazed, gun toting wild-eyed, war monger, when for the first two hours of the movie he was not? Maybe I missed something by not watching the previous installment of this series? Finally, with an airstrike impending upon the City--the ape leader declares to the human guy who is his friend that they will stay and fight because humans cannot forgive. As far as I can tell, there is still time to call off the airstrike but not enough time to get all the humans and apes out of the city. The crazy leader called down the strike on his own position. Shouldn't both humans and apes be running the hell for the forest? Quite honestly, they're all about to take the hit from the airstrike. If someone, somewhere has the capabilities of making an airstrike called in by unknown persons--why would they--and further, why had they not discovered the  City of SanFrancisco by doing fly overs to see if there were any humans left? Huh? How about all that?

The ape CGI and all the industrial light and magic was very well done. The script was lacking. I'm not sorry I saw it--I'm kind of put out that it was so filled with cliches and improbabilities, predictable  characters and stereotypical good/bad guys; plot holes and convenient occurrences driving the movie 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Spring Semester Begins

The Spring semester arrived, finally, for me this Friday at 10:10 this morning when I drove up to campus, purchased coffee, stamped my frequent flier's coffee card, and met with my first student. There have been a few delays and a cancellations due to the extreme cold and snow--but finally I am back at my tutoring table and my students. What a relief, I must confess. It is the island of normalcy in my current life of exile.

Warning: Sentimental, crispy-crunchy, granola, made in California style, new agey, teacherly emotions ahead. Curvy curves ahead. No guard rails.

On the first day of teaching in each semester, I go through this thing where I feel connected, suddenly, with all teachers everywhere in all time, space, and dimension. Also, I get all maudlin and remembrical about my former students. This may come as a shock to non-teachers, but I sometimes miss my former students--even after all these years. Some of them left quite the impression, but that is what happens in teaching. It's not like selling car insurance, where you work the paper and make people safe from their own selves or the caprice of fate or the stupid actions of others. Oh, you do that in teaching, to a degree, but by and large, I spent a great deal of the most productive years of my life so far teaching people where to put a comma, the right word, sentence, and/or piece of research in a writing project. I also taught people where to cut and on which line for construction paper art projects. Child: Is this right? Teacher: No. Did I say to cut on the line or on the fold? C: The line. T: And where did you cut? C: The fold. T: Now what? C: Another tree dies in the forest because I cut on the fold again? T: Yes, that's correct. Now then, go put that in the scrap barrel for another non-cutty, 
foldy project we might have in future and let's cut one together on the line.                                                    

The connection I feel is palpable. It comes from memory and chalk dust and magic fairy dust. It    comes from hearing myself say things my most revered teachers have said to me, it comes from        
    seeing my student lean into her work and come up with invention, outline, thesis, paragraph. It comes from the voices of children, Miss Teacher, can you help me? It comes from assignments that angered  me, confounded me, gave me life. Then, of course, there are the books, the papers, the pens, the parts, and the pieces of the profession. Write my name on the board, say: I am Miss and I am your teacher. I pause in the silence of the moment and I let that sink in for my students. It's suddenly a covenant and we all know it. Turn a page, make a point that lands and flourishes in the mind, stumble upon the thing that works, that generates the thing that sparks the thought that opens the door that was closed and the writing comes out with the query: Is this it? Is this any good?  And sometimes it is so good it's spectacular.

Today, I spelled out Amontillado in phonetics so a student could say the title of Poe's work without being embarrassed in class. Oh, she said, I can say it! Sure you can, I said. Why had a teacher not taught this student to say this word before college? It took less time to teach this than it did to say
skip it and keep reading...      

Today, I walked past students who lit up when they saw me, Hi! I have you! Some of these students I            
 have been tutoring since 2007. That's the nature of teaching in the CC. We hang out here together, sometimes for years. It's what the government pays both of us to do, afterall. I can think of worse things the upon which the government spends money. Sadly, I can think of better, too, for both of us. Some of these students I worked with last semester. They were all but shredded the last time I saw them. Some did not pass their class, I see. They have readjusted their outlook, shouldered another failure, and it looks like they are getting on with it.

The snow and delays have purified and made new the school year. Whatever came of last semester is long gone.  Some are repeating what is gone. They are happy and shiny about it. The angst and misery of just a month ago is barely a memory. There is a scar from it, to be sure. A failure scar registered in there inside them, yet here they are. They are ready to go back to it, to try to get the words and the thoughts in the order that the instructor insists they must go while trying to push back on and overcome the things that hinder that from happening. They are ready to try and slay the
dragon again.          
My students feel tiny, tiny and the dragon is huge. They have a pen and some paper. The dragon has everything else. I am like the second, I stand behind the dragonslayer with my own pen and paper and experience in dragon slaying. They check to see that I am there. I nod. They step forward. The dragon bellows. I cringe a little, plant my feet. Shudder a little, myself. They do not see me. I am the teacher, afterall. No fear, no crying in teaching. They look back at me and I nod and say Do it! They step forward again, and the pen goes down on the paper. We both lean forward into the battle.