Monday, October 31, 2011

Why is it okay for a girl to dress like a boy, and not the other way around?

It's homophobia, pure and simple. No one gives a second thought when girls dress up as male characters, right?

Last year blogger Sarah Manley allowed her son to dress as Daphne from Scooby Doo and unknowingly created an internet firestorm. I wrote about how she was a braver woman than I am, since two of my sons expressed interest in dressing as female characters and we steered them toward other costumes. Because of our liberal community and awesome friends and family, we would have been unlikely to encounter the same reaction as Manley did.

Now Manley is reflecting back on the year in which she was catapulted into notoriety. I agree with her that bully parents make bully children:
"I think what became so clear to me from this experience was that children are not born hating anything just because it’s different. They learn it. And with the ever increasing list of child suicides tied to bullying, it is a cycle that must end.

It is our job as rational human beings to teach our children and those around us that it is O.K. to be different. It’s O.K. to not conform to every single thing. It’s O.K. to be who we are. We can’t bow to that lowest common denominator."
Nicholas has passed way beyond his princess phase. This year he is Spiderman and he eschews all things girl related (and girls in general). (I'm okay because I'm a grownup. Grownup girls are okay in his book.) As I said last year, I wish I'd had the courage to let him live out his princess self during that phase--it will never pass this way again. Well never say never...I guess you never know!
I love that my friend and her husband are supporting their sweet son to live out his princess fantasies this year for Halloween. Doesn't he make an adorable witchy princess?

Here's a sort of funny spoof from the Onion on how to find appropriate "manly" costumes for effeminate boys. I actually thought it was really sad...because (1) some people actually treat their children like that, and (2) because of the bullying in the video (ala Carrie--that broke my heart instead of making me laugh). I know it's meant to be a parody and point out ridiculous some people are, but I found it to be disturbing. What do you think?

How To Find A Masculine Halloween Costume For Your Effeminate Son

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mommy's as smart as Velma, apparently...

Today I took Nicholas to see "Toy Story 3 On Ice."
As we approached the Rose Garden, we ran smack dab into an Occupy Portland group protesting against the Bank of America. They were marching and shouting "We are the 99 percent!"

Nicholas asked me why they said they were the 99 percent, and I tried to explain (in five-year-old terms) the gross inequities in our economy.

Then he said "Mommy, why do you know everything?" I said "I guess you think I'm pretty smart, huh?" "Yep, he're just like Velma!"

Well, I consider that high praise indeed. I've always liked Velma more than the shallow Daphne. Although Velma could stand to let her hair down occasionally!

I considered the irony of attending a show produced by a mega-corporation (Disney) next door to the protesters. Especially when ice-skating Barbie said her famous line from Toy Story 3: "Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!"

I guess it symbolizes my feelings about the Occupy protesters. I support their freedom and courage to protest, and I'm glad to see a spirit for passion and justice rising up in this country; however, I'm also aware of the burden the protests are placing on our already-burdened civic servants and limited city that could instead be put into the schools or spent on social services.

I guess today I was just a mom instead of a radical. Trying not to feel too guilty about putting money into corporations' coffers.

Cowboy-boot-wearing Nick ready to see the toys

How I added to the bank coffers of Disney...a bit more
(At least I didn't buy him the $10 snow cone in Toy Story character cup,
or the $20 glow-in-the dark whirlybird...right?)
We greatly enjoyed the show. I liked Ken and Barbie (talented pairs skaters), but Nick liked it when Buzz defeated Emperor Zurg (in a flashback to Toy Story 2). (You killed my father! I am your father!)

Yours truly,

Long live the queen(s)!

When I first started dating Mike, I recall my surprise when he told me that members of the British royal family could not marry Catholics or they would give up their rights to the throne. I mean, this was 1987! (Well, it was when I first met Mike.) I guess it hasn't been long enough since the crusades.

Now not only can the royals marry Catholics, but the female children actually have the same access to the throne as the male children. So if Kate and Will have a first-born daughter, she automatically gets in line to the throne. The Daily Beast reported that William and Kate's child would be fourth in line to the throne (the position currently held by Prince Andrew); however, Mike informs me that this is incorrect. Obviously, Tina Brown did not proofread that article.

Poor Princess Anne...the rule change came too late for her. Wonder how things might have turned out differently for Charles if he hadn't had the weight of the monarchy on his shoulders. Would he have married the woman he loved, instead of the woman the world loved?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jesus, the original zombie

For years, diehard fundamentalist Christians have shunned Hallowe'en as a pagan holiday (hello Christmas and Easter!). Pat Robertson calls it "Satan's night...the night of the devil." A pastor in Calgary has started a new movement that he is calling "World Evangelism Day": Jesus Ween.

Yes, you read that right. Such an unfortunate name!

Participants in "Jesus Ween" are encouraged to wear white "to symbolize righteousness" and hand out bibles or "Christian gifts." Because it is acceptable (and encouraged) for people to solicit and knock on doors, the idea is to take advantage of these unsuspecting children who think they're going to receive candy...and instead give them a Christian CD or tract. Won't they be delighted? Doesn't sound like a very good way to attract followers.

Jesus Ween will be followed by "Jesus Win," a two-week period when participants are encouraged to share their evangelism successes. Will this take off and be "one of the most effective Christian outreach days ever," as the founder predicts? I am thinking not. As one blogger commented, it sounds like a good way to get your house TP'd.

As Stephen Colbert riffed, "Jesus is the original zombie." Watch his take on "Jesus Ween" and why Jesus and Hallowe'en are a natural connection. Love him.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

John Lithgow on Prairie Home Companion

I enjoyed listening to Prairie Home Companion this afternoon via Stitcher Radio on my iPhone...I drove Kieran to play rehearsal and then ran to Costco and I didn't want to miss anything because today the guest was one of my favorites, John Lithgow. Mike and I got to see him perform on Broadway in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," and we both loved "Third Rock from the Sun."

I especially enjoyed "Teacher," and I also loved the music today, from an acoustic duo named Storyhill.

I also enjoyed "The Lives of the Cowboys,"

but it made me would not have been so funny at the end if the prison warden had been male and Lithgow had been female. It made me think about how sexual harassment is portrayed as humorous when it involves a man being harassed by a woman, and not the other way around. I imagine this must be infuriating for any male who has been put in a vulnerable position by a female superior.

Lithgow has a new book out, which I already had on hold at the library. He is so skilled at playing clueless people in such a classy way. Love him!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Good news for the day

I got up at 4:30 a.m. today to get ready to fly out to Denver...I came here for a meeting, yet when I arrived I discovered that they don't actually need me in the meeting until I could have flown in later today. Fortunately I used the time to make some good connections and it's all good...although I'm more than a little tired. (Denver always makes me feel tired anyway.)

But it was in this frame of mind that I discovered that I might be predisposed to live a longer life. Now of course we must ask ourselves if this is always a good thing...the idea of outliving Mike makes me anxious. And then there's the question of whether we'll have enough retirement savings to support long lives. But I'm not going to worry about all that now. Today I will celebrate because of the ten indicators for longevity researchers have recently discovered, I am lucky enough to score well in several categories (indicated by the purple font):

1. How many elderly relatives are in your family tree? This one I don't do so well on, at least with my grandparents. None of them reached the age of 90, but I'm guessing my parents will!

2. How fast and how far can you walk? Anyone who's ever taken a walk with me knows that these short legs can go quite fast!

3. Do you have a lot of people in your life? I feel very, very blessed to be able to answer that question with a yes. We have many wonderful communities around us...children's schools, church, family, childhood friends, work, and former workmates.

4. Are you a woman? Well, yes.

5. Did you have a child after 35? Contrary to what it feels like (that older parenting gives you gray hairs), apparently it's a sign of longevity if you get pregnant after 35. Given the fact that I bore two children after 35 (one at 38 and one at nearly 42), my body should definitely be aging slowly!

6. When were you born? Well, this doesn't help me much...apparently the later that you're born, the longer your longevity.

7. Do you worry--but not too much? Apparently it's best to strive for a "healthy" worry level. I think that fits me. I do worry, but wouldn't describe myself as a worrier. I'm much more of a Tigger than an Eeyore. Half-glass empty types tend to die sooner, perhaps as a self-fulfilling prophecy?

8. Is your weight normal--or are you slighly overweight? Yes--I'd be happy to lose a few pounds, but I'm not terribly far from my goal weight. The more serious goal for me is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

9. How long are your telomeres? I don't know the answer to that question...but I do like to eat salmon (rich in Omega 3s).

10. Are you a positive person? Yes, I'm definitely an upbeat person. That's not to say I don't ever get depressed or sad, but when it happens, I hate it! I immediately want to snap out of it. (See #7--Tigger vs. Eeyore)

It's getting late here in Denver--10:17 p.m.--and I'm about to collapse. So off to bed to get some shut eye before another (not-quite-so) early morning. Even though it wasn't in the list, I know that sufficient sleep is another healthy habit. Good night!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Going to the pumpkin patch

Today, we went to the pumpkin patch. This hasn't been an annual tradition for us, but we've been to a variety of patches over the years. A few of the trips were before digital cameras, so the photos are not too easy to find. Here are some memories from a few years ago...

Kieran at 1-1/2 (2004)

Chris with his friend Sam

Family shot--2004

Family shot the following year--2005 (Chris 9, Kieran 2)
For some reason, when Nicholas was one I ended up taking the two little ones to the pumpkin patch on my own--not sure what Mike and Chris were doing.
2007 (Nick 1, Kieran 4)

Then we had another gap, until Kieran went to the pumpkin patch as a field trip in first grade.
Having lunch after finding the pumpkins--Kieran with his teacher and friend Natalie (2009)
Nicholas hadn't been to a pumpkin patch since he was a little tyke, so when our friends asked if we'd like to accompany them, we were all over it.

In front of the piggies

And goats (Nick was not too anxious to get near them)

On the boat ride

The Loch Ness monster in the lake :)

Pirate scene

Fun with wheelbarrows
Brad and Catherine in the pumpkin patch
Nick on an oblong pumpkin
Found one!

Group shot

And another one
Nicholas found a tiny little white one he liked

Kissing his pumpkin

On the train

Nick posing with Brad

You're never too old for face painting!

Kieran's turn

Very fun outing!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dancing in the street with Martha Reeves!

It's my lucky day! I got to go hear the Motown legend Martha Reeves in KINK FM's Bing Lounge this afternoon.

Martha was born on July 18, 1941 in Eufaula, Alabama, as one of Elijah and Ruby's 11 children. Today she said that she didn't realize she was poor until she left home. She speaks about her loving family and the way she still channels her parents when she's singing. She has some fascinating stories to share about the early days of Motown. (She has written a memoir, Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva, which I plan to check out.)

The brief (45-minute) show consisted of a short interview and several songs, which was recorded and broadcast on the radio. She was accompanied by her long-time music director, Al McKenzie (who also played for the Four Tops and The Temptations).

Since I happen to be reading a biography of Harper Lee at the moment, I can't help but wonder about all the things Reeves has seen in her life. She started performing when she was 18, in 1959. She talks about the racism in this video, "Going in the south and having segregated audiences and being shot at and being denied privileges. To overcome the fact that our earlier records couldn't have our pictures because they might not have sold." She also addresses the deep racism they experienced when touring through the south in the 1960s in this Guardian article, also mentioning that Barack Obama reminds her of Marvin Gaye. I can't help but notice that in this video of Heat Wave, their audience appears to be entirely white.

In recent years, Reeves has served on the Detroit City Council, although now she's back to touring and performing. Now 70 and a grandma of three, she gave an inspiring, fun performance! My friend Tina and I were in the fourth row--about the same distance away from the stage as Mike and I were when we got to see the Indigo Girls (in another free concert I won from KINK).
Reeves closed with her iconic, legendary song, "Dancing in the Streets," which has always been one of my personal favorites! Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reconsider Columbus Day

Today is the "observed" Columbus Day in the U.S., and an appropriate day to ask ourselves why we continue to celebrate this man who is so directly responsible for the annihilation of native peoples, among other crimes against humanity. As the Transform Columbus Day web site says:
  • Columbus is responsible for the murder of millions of indigenous people.
  • Columbus was a slavetrader in Africa before invading America. He began the slave trade in the Americas. He deserves no holiday, no parades, no statues.
  • Columbus Day celebrates the doctrine of discovery – the legal process that stole Indian people's territories, and that continues today.
  • Columbus brought a philosophy of domination to the Americas that persists today – domination of other peoples, domination of the environment, domination of other belief systems, domination of women by men.

 The creative minds who developed these e cards had fun expressing their thoughts:

Last year some folks developed this still-relevant video and propose changing the day to honor indigenous peoples:


Transcript of video:

Columbus Day: a day that our government has deemed worthy of remembrance. And with all due respect — with all due respect — with all due respect — there’s an ugly truth that has been overlooked for way too long. Columbus committed heinous crimes against the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and millions of natives throughout the Americas, and Columbus set the stage for the slave trade in the New World. So please — please reconsider — if this is a man you want to honor. Reconsider if you want to celebrate the crimes of Columbus? It’s not your fault, it happened a long time ago, but remaining neutral and pretending like it didn’t happen or that it doesn’t still impact us today. So please take the day to learn the whole story. Celebrate the people who were here first. Petition for a nationally recognized indigenous holiday. So please reconsider how you plan to spend October 12th. Reconsider the story of Columbus.