Msnowe's Blog

Just in case…

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on October 21, 2009

cartoon_plane

Dear Reader (whoever you might be):

So I just wanted to write this letter in case I am the victim of a horrible accident. I decided to go on a trip to Europe, and while it was fun planning, now an over-arching sense of dread is totally mucking up all my excitement. So I decided that it would be best to write this letter in preparation of my unlikely, yet possible, demise.

So first, let me say that I really love my family. And my friends. I mean, I know a lot of people would say that, and Love Actually already covered that aspect of human relationships and planes crashing right at the beginning of the movie, but I just really want you to know that I actually mean it. Sometimes I yell at you all, and sometimes I don’t talk to you for years on end, but let me assure you, that as I approach my watery grave, you and every other single person I’ve come into contact with will go through my mind, like, um, a Rolodex of emotion. This I promise you–and even you, Ewan, who I promised, while yelling down from my bedroom window, that “I would never even think of your sorry ass again,” well, in this instance of despair and terrific horror, my emotions, like my bowel  movements, will be out of my control–and so I will think of you. I want you to know that, so you can feel especially bad once this letter is made public.

I feel like I should also tell you all how I want to be remembered. This can go one of two ways, and it’s all dependant on how exactly I die, and whether or not my remains are found.

Okay, so if they find me, I want a full funeral. But before that, I would like a group meditation, with the final Leo DiCaprio scene in Titanic playing softly in the background. (I know, I know, that was a ship and this is a plane, but come on, he’s clutching debris and sinking into the ocean–same difference!). Then, I want that song that they played for Liam Neeson’s dead wife in Love Actually played as the pallbearers bear the pall. I forget the name of the song, or who sang it, but god that was beautiful. Also, get Liam to be one of the pall bearers. He doesn’t have to cry, but a single tear would add a nice touch.

If they don’t find my body, I would still like you all to believe I went down loving, in my mind, every one of you–however, and this is key: I am not dead. I was in the tail of the plane. I crashed onto an abandoned tropical island, and a Matthew-Fox-looking guy is tending to my wounds and trying, with more and more success, to seduce me into a tryst of tropical, tropical passion. (Yeah, how do you like that, Ewan? How does that smack you?).  So again, I am totally still alive (even if I’m not). Disregard my early infatuation with Amelia Earhart, and understand that it is a mere coincidence that we both ended up missing (but feel free to bring it up, teary-eyed, when you are interviewed on the Today Show, or Oprah). Come to think of it, my story should be more compelling and have a longer shelf life, seeing as I’m waaaay hotter, and Earhart was kind of a gap-toothed, Eleanor-Roosevelt type, if you understand what I’m saying. And if Dateline has taught us nothing else, it has shown us that hot people who go missing are much more important than the fugly-looking ones.

Alright, I think that’s really all I have to say. So remember, you all are so important in continuing my legacy once I am gone. And also, this letter should be saved for posterity, so please keep it safe. (But just in case you misplaced it, there are about ten copies scattered about my apartment, and at work.)
Love,

Me

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Monday Postage for Friday

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on October 19, 2009

The fiction Lady-Rating returns (on a Monday).

Do you have what it takes, fictionally?

Do you have what it takes, fictionally?

First, apologies–m.snowe has been neglecting this Friday post  idea. But to remedy that on a Monday morning, here we go with a new book to analyze in terms of its female characters, or the presence/lack of any type of feminist ideas.

Today’s Lady-Rating, for American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

americangods_big

Do ladies ever strike twice?

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Reasoning: First let m.snowe say that she enjoyed this book immensely. It was an easy read, and presented ideas and creative vignettes that were extremely original and thought-provoking. There was an underlying message or preachyness to the book, but it really didn’t distract or take away from m.snowe’s enjoyment of the story. But here’s the problem–most of the lady bits are tangential. The protagonist, Shadow, is actually quite a redeeming character, and it’s clear that he respects and enjoys the company of women (yeah, in that way too). And women do play a crucial role in the movement of the story–Gaiman’s premise of broke-down gods living in America is not neglectful of lady gods–Easter, Mama Ji, the Zorya sisters, etc., and so on. And Shadow’s dead wife is also a key character. But honestly, sometimes m.snowe felt like the ladies were either there to add flourish or intrigue, or merely drive the story–which is fine, but the women don’t get the kind of character development that the men sometimes do. Despite the variety of names these lady-gods are given, it might not be completely unfair to say they are all really Muses. They guide and assist Shadow on his way, and the real players are men–Shadow, Wednesday, Mister World.

But let m.snowe make it clear–she loved this book, and found herself reading passages that were completely unique, and many times wished she could’ve come up with such strange and beautiful stories. The small stories that breakaway from the main action were just out-of-place enough to work, yet intrinsically tied to the plot, even if you couldn’t fully puzzle out why. A scene of a reverse birth was shocking (at least, it was to m.snowe!), and the frank suspension of reality somehow works. In fact, it was mildly disappointing to see that the end was connected to the solving of a “real life” murder mystery, because it hurled the story back into reality, taking the reader out of the world of strange possibilities that Gaiman navigates so fluidly. If only Shadow or Wednesday had a lady counterpart, this story would’ve tipped the lady-rating scales to a seven or eight. But m.snowe recommends you read it anyway.

My Chotchkie Is Better Than Your Chotchkie

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on October 13, 2009

…also, m.snowe just likes saying “chotchkie.”

Imagine each grain of sand is an Awesome, Awesome Word.

Imagine Each Grain of Sand Is an Awesome, Awesome Word.

m.snowe is referring to this project/contest–where writers have been enlisted to compose very short stories, stories centered around some arbitrary, worthless knickknacks. The knickknacks in question are then auctioned off, all in some attempt to see if storytelling can thereby increase the value of an otherwise practically value-less object. Some fairly well-knowns have submitted stories, including Colson Whitehead, Jonathan Goldstein, and Nickolson Baker. Now, the creators of this little project have opened it up to any Joe or Josephine Schmo, and ask people to submit their best less-than-500-word stories about some rando BBQ sauce baster thingy.

Okay, so m.snowe thinks it’s an interesting premise, writing about rando objects. It sounds kind of like a first year composition class project. Fine. But here’s the problem: you cannot use this as an accurate gauge of how the object’s monetary value changes in response to storytelling. Because in reality, the story is not what is changing the monetary value of the chotchkie written about. Inherently, what people are paying for is the name. It would be like saying, “this baseball is absolutely worth more in itself…oh, and it happens to have Babe Ruth’s signature on it.” People are not paying for the baseball–the baseball is merely the vehicle for the expensive, added value thing appended to it. So yes, maybe Colson pulled out a good story, and people will want to read it…sure. But you can be certain that the object connected with the story is not going to be more expensive or sought-after on a large scale, aside from that single one written about. Because Colson’s story is his signature on a baseball, in effect. Which is fine. But let’s call this what it is folks–a marketing tool. Aren’t convinced? Well if this one is writing a story for it, you know it’s shameless self-promotion.

He Said, She Said.

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on October 7, 2009
"Off with Her Head!" (Don't worry, she's just PMS-ing)

"Off with Her Head!" (Don't worry, she's just PMS-ing)

m.snowe just came across an interesting article on Slate that discusses the quantity and quality of female judges relative to male ones.

The article seems to be tackling two main questions:

1. Are female nominees for judicial positions chosen based on affirmative action?

2. Are female judges “better” or “worse” than their male counterparts?

The writers then go on to explain the findings of their study–that women perform just as well (if not better, at least by the factors studied) as men in terms of their output of dissent, opinions, and being cited by other lawyers/judges. Of course, how does one actually quantify what it means to be a good judge? Though the professors who conducted this study tried to, m.snowe is still skeptical. m.snowe is also skeptical of any study that pits a group of male and females against each other, because despite the good intentions of the study’s authors, it  reinforces the notion of difference between “genders” instead of among them (i.e. there is more variation within a group of males or a group of females than there is when you compare the two groups against each other).

But there are some specifics we need to totally shoot down, right now. Here’s a quote:

They [women] have attended lower-ranked colleges and lower-ranked law schools, they are less likely to have had judicial clerkships (a prestigious job often taken by top law school graduates), and they have less experience in private practice before becoming judges. This suggests that the pool of stellar female candidates for the judiciary is smaller than the pool of stellar male candidates, which provides ammunition for the conservative argument that President Obama’s choice of Sotomayor, or another female justice, involves affirmative action in favor of women.

Okay. The study they are using involves a “dataset of all the state high court judges in 1998-2000”–so it is reasonable to assume these judges were at the very least in their late 30s, early 40s at the time they were serving as state high court judges. That would put them in law school probably about 20 to 30-plus years before the 1998-2000 sample years (somewhere between the late 1950’s  up through the 1970’s). At this point, m.snowe refers to her old stand-by of unfair treatment of women in law school and afterwards: Sandra Day O’Connor. O’Connor was third in her graduating class at Standford Law (by any estimation in today’s and yesterday’s law world, that’s kind of a big deal). This was the mid-1950’s. No law firms were interested in hiring O’Connor, and she was only offered a position as a legal secretary. So she pretty much flipped ’em the bird and decided to go into public service. From there, she worked her way up to the Supreme Court–no easy task for a male or a female.

So conservatives or whoever call foul when women are added to the court instead of equally experienced or perhaps “more experienced” male judges, because they perceive a smaller pool of “qualified” female judges verses men–and yes, the numbers are tipped towards more men in higher-up, prestigious, money-making positions. They shout “affirmative action! No fair!” (And this is a wider issue, that spans sex, age, race, orientation, etc.). You can shout ’til your un-discriminated-against lungs can’t take it anymore, but once you claim unfairness, once you introduce that onto the evidence pile, you must be ready for the defense’s counter-claims. Yes, maybe there are more men who have the qualified pedigree you’re looking for that they earned back in the day when Old Boys Clubs existed freely and without question (as opposed to now, when they’re merely implied and secretly enforced). But some of those “qualified” men took spots from women (in law school and directly upon graduation) that they had an equal (or more than equal) right to years ago, but were denied merely on the basis of their sex. And that set into motion the situation and skewed averages we have today. If men and women were judged absolutely equally (blindly) 20-40 years ago, in terms of school admissions and then job placement, there would be less of a disparity between the sexes in this study. Yes, m.snowe realizes that society dictated in that era that less women would persue law school. However, even the smartest, most determined female students were met with offers of secretarial positions. And now conservatives have the cojones to get upset that Obama might appoint women to the court because of affirmative action? And how can you possibly suggest that women with a less prestigious pedigree are less talented, when women were actively discriminated against, and still performed (and in some cases, out-performed men) and still rose to the highest ranks?