And I Award You No Points

Posted February 25, 2013 by blu4vr
Categories: Uncategorized

Here’s why I am not going to “lighten up” about Seth MacFarlane’s ugly stint as Oscar host.

I agree that we need “edgy” humor, humor that pushes boundaries and engenders discomfort or even anger. The national discourse benefits when our comedians use their wit to highlight the absurd, to attack our thoughtless assumptions, to make us question the status quo.

A brief definitional digression: satire means using irony, sarcasm, or similar devices to highlight or critique vice or folly. Satire does not mean hurling insult jokes at the same societal punching bags that white heterosexual men have been pounding for generations. And virtually every.single.joke. MacFarlane made was aimed at a traditionally disenfranchised group (and most jokes reinforced particularly toxic stereotypes about women. I mean…really? You follow a song called “we saw her boobs” with an appearance by Channing Tatum, and the fact that WE SAW A LOT MORE THAN HIS BOOBS in “Magic Mike” goes unmentioned? Really? So much for MacFarlane as equal-opportunity offender.)

MacFarlane is no satirist. Rather, MacFarlane is the bully’s toady, getting away with reinforcing regressive attitudes by hiding behind “geez, it was just a joke. Lighten up.” And many people – even educated women, even men with daughters – will echo his complaint. I don’t care if all the “cool chicks” think it’s funny. Racist, sexist, homophobic humor is toxic, and excusing it as “just a joke” falls into the same category as telling someone to “get over” pervasive institutional racism because the Emancipation Proclamation is 150 years old.

Before you go all First-Amendmenty on me, I’m not arguing that the government ban or censor even the most offensive humor. But the First Amendment does not just protect offensive speech; the First Amendment protects – indeed, encourages – counter-speech. And I’ll be damned if I’ll let fear of being perceived as a “humorless Feminazi” peer-pressure me into remaining silent when particular humor says something troubling about those who endorse it.

But I know I’m wasting my time arguing this issue in a country where people will claim – earnestly and sincerely, without a hint of satirical intent – that white, Christian, heterosexual males are an oppressed class.

If it makes you feel any better, though, I did laugh my ass off at the socks in the dryer. That shit? Was funny.

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Thank You. Really. Thank You.

Posted November 8, 2012 by blu4vr
Categories: Uncategorized

Just a little note to those of you out there posting batshit crazy stuff in the wake of the election.  You know, those of you warning that the most middle-of-the-road Democratic president imaginable is going to take us straight to communism in the next four years, that the man who didn’t even SUGGEST some sane gun-control measures after Tucson and Aurora is somehow going to take away your guns, that the church-going father of two is going to somehow ban God. . . yeah, you guys.

Keep it up.

You heard me.  Keep it up.  I.  Freaking.  LOVE it.

Your obsession with birtherism, your “war against sluts,” your “legitimate rape,” your paranoia about someone else getting something you think you deserve, your insistence that gay marriage somehow threatens your heterosexual marriage, your overall nutjobbery makes it basically impossible for any sane person to align herself with you.  And that helps me.  That helps my guy.

So, thank you.  Thank you for voting for Tea Party candidates in the primaries, and thereby handing several “safe” Republican seats to Democrats.  Thank you for highlighting the backwards, racist, sexist, homophobic side of the Republican party, and thank you for forcing your spineless, blows-with-the-wind presidential candidate to pander to you.  Thank you for forcing fiscally conservative women and homosexuals to choose protecting their rights and their families over guarding their pocketbooks.  Thank you for making all my sane Republican friends from college and law school vote for Obama.

Thank you.  Really.  Thank you.

Boring lawgirl rant

Posted September 17, 2012 by blu4vr
Categories: gratuitous, obsessions

There’s been a lot written lately about the value of a law degree and whether a legal education is “worth it” in an era of escalating tuition and declining big-dollar employment prospects. A few organizations even purport to rank law schools based on “value” per tuition dollar.  In these rankings, law schools are ordered by percentage of graduates securing employment in JD-required positions as compared to tuition.

Many, of course, challenge this type of assessment.  Rightly so.  Curiously, however, these critics do not seem to challenge the very notion of rankings, or note the myriad reasons one might pursue a law degree, or acknowledge that some might choose a law school based on factors like location or programmatic offerings or financial aid availability. Rather, they quibble that these particular rankings don’t consider the salaries or – even more importantly – prestige accorded to different categories of legal employment. A federal clerkship or a job at a white-shoe New York law firm or at the Department of Justice surely, they argue, surely is worth more than a job working for a Superior Court judge or as a public defender or city attorney in a small town.  A job working on sophisticated intellectual property litigation must be more worthy than one handling “red car / blue car” personal injury cases.  Surely some legal employment has more value, and surely that value correlates with prestige, and salary, and intellectual rigor.

It’s interesting. I worked on some complex and sophisticated litigation in my five years at O’Melveny & Myers and four years at Quarles & Brady. I toiled shoulder-to-shoulder with prominent, brilliant, and skilled attorneys who graduated from the most prestigious law schools in the country. And I represented countless fascinating clients – ranging from multinational corporations to Catholic archdioceses to (rather dubious) celebrities – in front-page litigation.

But I never felt the value of my law degree so keenly as when I kept a family together by preventing a single mother from being deported to a country where she had been raped and tortured because of her tribal affiliation. None of my sophisticated corporate clients broke down in tears and thanked me as did the two men I represented this summer at the Office of the Pima County Public Defender. And I never learned so much about the alchemy of trial practice as when I worked with Daniel  Petrocelli, a brilliant trial attorney (and trumpet player) who earned his law degree from Southwestern Law School.

I’m not sure any of that can be captured in a law school “value ranking.”  And I’m not so naive as to believe that every law student enrolls with dreams of becoming Atticus Finch or even Jack McCoy.  But we must take care not to get so buried in the quagmire of ranking – or so isolated in the proverbial ivory tower of legal scholarship – that we presume too much about what makes a legal education valuable, or about what “impact” really means.

Hello. My Name Is Susie and I Am a Shopaholic.

Posted October 21, 2011 by blu4vr
Categories: Uncategorized

Or, probably more accurately, just a spendaholic.  Hey:  I’m helping the economy, right?  Right?  And I can pay the bills when they come; it just means that I’m not saving a dime, and that I occasionally dip into my emergency what-if-I-lose-my-job-tomorrow account.  So I don’t have a problem.  Right?  RIGHT?

Or am I just a high-functioning spendaholic?  Like one of those guys who knocks back a fifth of whiskey every night but gets up and goes to work the next day more-or-less on time so he obviously isn’t really an alcoholic.

I know I have an addictive personality.  This is why I never even flirted with the hard drugs; I’d be sleeping on the street with a needle protruding from my arm within four days.  Shoes, food, caffeine, books, magazines, iTunes…pretty much anything that doesn’t make me vomit can trigger a binge.  (The vomit thing is the only thing that stands between me and alcoholism, I’m sure.  More than three drinks in a row and I’m hugging the toilet for hours.  A weak stomach and a hair-trigger gag reflex finally come in handy – who knew?).

At last count, I subscribe to over fifteen magazines.  That’s right:  fifteen.  Vogue, Elle, InStyle, Bazaar, W, Lucky.  The Atlantic, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Vanity Fair.  Entertainment Weekly.  Cooking Light, Vegetarian, EatingWell.  Real Simple.  Fitness.  I recently let my subscriptions to People, Bon Appetit, and Newsweek lapse, or we’d be talking closer to twenty subscriptions.  Of course I don’t have time to read all of these – or even most of these – each week.  When they come to shoot my Hoarders episode, they will find me buried under a pile of Bazaar and Lucky when the leaning tower in the corner of my living room finally collapses.

The Internet is the addict’s worst nightmare.  I can see that adorable Tory Burch tweed dress in a magazine, and, within moments, it’s headed to my address.  My iPod and nook offer gratification that’s even more instantaneous:  the $1.99 iTunes charges start to rack up, and it’s $9.99 here and $12.99 there every Sunday morning when I’m perusing the book review section of the Sunday Times (which I also ordered on the Internet).

Folks, I have my Visa number memorized.  Yeah.  It’s a problem.

So, every day my scary room gets scarier.  The magazine tower teeters.  My closets and bookshelves bulge.

Wait:  I KNOW WHAT WILL CURE MY PROBLEM! I WILL BUY A BUNCH OF ORGANIZING TOOLS FROM THE CONTAINER STORE!

One Day You Wake Up and You’re Older than You Planned

Posted October 16, 2011 by blu4vr
Categories: Uncategorized

We spend a few days in San Francisco this week, walking up and down and up and down, miles and miles through the park and along the Presidio in the October sunshine, looking down across expanses of city to the bay and the red arches of the bridge beyond.  Walking the hills feels good – the warm ache sliding up the back of my thigh, blood flushing my face – and something about city walking makes life seem…livelier.  Not infrequently, I find myself grinning.

Friday afternoon, we wander around the Inner Sunset, looking for the apartment where Kevin lived the year after he graduated from college.  We walk up and down 9th near Lawton and Kevin stops with his hands on his hips, squinting up at this building and then that one until finally he determines that it must have been the grayish one with the steps up the left side….or maybe not.  After all, it was twenty-two years ago.

We have dinner with Katy at this dark, wood-paneled supper club and I wear my clingy new cranberry wool dress and Katy and I both just a tiny bit flirt with the waiter until he makes a particularly absurd crack about the green-chili apple tart and the laugh that escapes my throat belongs to my mother.

Afterward, we wander back through the city streets and I’m feeling the martinis more than the exertion so we meet Michele for drinks at The Clock Bar, which is near our hotel.  Michele mentions my great-grandmother and I realize that she has been gone so long that Kevin doesn’t even know her, never enjoyed her Christmas cookies and has no way to assess whether my attempts at her ravioli recipe hit or miss the mark.

But my cocktail smells of lavender and the city is ours for one more night, so we wander back to the hotel and pretend to be young one more time.

 

An Open Letter to the Person Sitting in Front of Me on the Airplane

Posted July 18, 2011 by blu4vr
Categories: Uncategorized

The comfort you gain from reclining your seat is slight compared to the discomfort you cause me by doing so. I promise. Please think about this next time. Especially if you plan to spend the majority of the flight sitting bolt upright, your head not even grazing the back of your seat.

Also, please think about the things I could secretly put in your hair.  Is it worth it?  Is it?

Thank you.

Need to DO Something?

Posted January 13, 2011 by blu4vr
Categories: Uncategorized

When something horrible happens, it’s hard to sit quietly and do nothing.  It’s only natural (and probably healthy) to want to do something concrete and positive, to tangibly honor the victims of a tragedy in some way, no matter how small.

We cannot all tackle and disarm the gunman.  We cannot all provide exceptional health care to the surviving victims, or help facilitate the miracle that Gabby Giffords’ recovery has been.  We cannot sit by Gabby’s hospital bed and hold her hand.  And, much as we desperately want to, we cannot console Gabe Zimmerman’s fiancee, or hug Christina-Taylor Green’s parents and brother.

Of course we can attend vigils, or leave candles, notes, or other mementoes at the many memorials that have sprung up around town.  We can even leave a lovely “Ben’s Bell” somewhere to send a message of kindness and healing.

We can do something that in some ways is even more powerful, though, by giving of our time, money, or blood to organizations that helped those harmed in the shooting, or organizations that mattered to those victims.

I’ve tried to collect information here on all of the opportunities I could find.  Some are charities supported by a specific person, or funds or foundations created in a victim’s honor.  Others are funds honoring all the victims or created to support the ongoing needs of victims and their families.

Gabrielle Giffords

On Sunday, the Congresswoman’s husband, Mark Kelly, asked that those moved by the tragedy who wanted to make a “positive gesture” donate to one of the organizations that matter to Gabby:  Tucson Community Food Bank, or the Southern Arizona American Red Cross.  You can also demonstrate your faith in Gabby by donating to her 2012 campaign.

Judge John Roll

Judge Roll’s family has suggested memorial contributions in Memory of John Roll to MeriLac Lodge Group Home, c/o Catholic Community Services, 140 W. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85705, or to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, together with the Arizona State Bar, have established the John M. Roll Memorial Fund.  The fund will be dedicated to a scholarship or other purpose Judge Roll’s family and close friends will designate soon.

An endowed scholarship fund honoring Judge Roll has been established at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson.  I do not have a donation link right now, but you can send donations to:  The John Roll Endowed Scholarship Fund, Salpointe Catholic High School, 1545 E. Copper St., Tucson, AZ  85719.  Judge Roll was a Salpointe alum.

Christina-Taylor Green

The Green family has established the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona.

The Los Angeles Dodgers (Christina-Taylor’s dad is a scout for the organization) has created a vehicle for those touched by Christina-Taylor’s life to communicate their memories, thoughts, and condolences with the Green family.  The Dodgers will compile those communications in a memorial book that will be given to the family.  You  can send emails to greenfamily@dodgers.com, or letters to Dodger Stadium, c/o the Green Family, 1000 Elysian Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA  90090.

Gabe Zimmerman

Child & Family Resources, Inc. has created a fund to honor Gabe Zimmerman.  Gabe was on the Board of Directors of the organization.  The YWCA of Tucson – where Gabe was also on the Board – has also set up a fund in Gabe’s honor.

Several alums of UC Santa Cruz – where Gabe graduated in 2002 – have set up a scholarship fund at the university in Gabe’s memory. 

Emerge! Center Against Domestic Violence is compiling a book of memories for Gabe’s family.  My understanding is that his mother, Emily Nottingham, donated time to the organization.

Non-specific Funds or other Opportunities

Homicide Survivors, Inc. has established the Tucson Tragedy Victims Fund to cover expenses for the shooting victims and their families as they try to recover from this tragedy and as they pursue justice for themselves and their loved ones.

Safeway has also established a fund, but has yet to provide any details regarding how the money will be used or how the fund will be administered.  More here.  You can make a donation at any Arizona Safeway store, or mail your check, made out to “Safeway Foundation Tucson Victims Fund,” to Safeway Foundation, Safeway Arizona Division, 2750 S. Priest Drive, Tempe, AZ 85282.

Pima Community College has established a scholarship fund to honor the memories of all who lost their lives in the incident.

The Red Cross in Tucson still needs blood, particularly type-O.  You can sign up for an appointment here.

I will update this post as I learn of new opportunities.

Don’t forget, though:  we all can honor those we have lost every day, by keeping a piece of them alive in our hearts and our actions.  Honor Gabe Zimmerman by surprising at least one stranger each day with a genuine smile.  Honor Judge Roll by giving freely of your time and talent, and by celebrating time with your family.  Honor Christina-Taylor Green by helping a child reach her potential.  And honor Dorwin Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorothy Morris by staying engaged and involved in your community.

And, to borrow the words of President Obama:

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.