Kate Capshaw as “Willie” in The Temple of Doom and Missy Piggy are the same character:
#1 Both are whiney.
Miss Piggy: Kermy!
#2 Both play hard-to-get while they are themselves totally infatuated with the leading man.
Willie: And you’re too proud to admit that you’re crazy about me, Dr. Jones!
Miss Piggy: He tries so desperately to hide his love for me.
#3 Both have blond locks and pose as high-maintenance famous singers/actresses
#4 Both their significant others give them movie roles. (You know Kermit and Spielberg had no choice).
So I’ve sat down here at this lovely writer’s table (made of fine milkwood slats from IKEA) to begin composing my memoir. I think it’s very important to call it such, as it really gives a French sensibility to the whole idea — “autobiography” is a garish word, one that I associate with many other “auto” words, including eroticism. Actually, in that light, it’s very important that before I go into the details of my quixotic 23.3 years of life, I first outline some things that will not be touched upon in my memoir. So let me tell you right now, I’m not a pervert. A weird sexual fetish would indeed increase my eccentric caché, but at what cost to my roguish yet boy-next-door demeanor? Perhaps just the wink of a intercoital tick, nothing too tragic or unredeeming. Fecundity is key.
Sorry, I had to stop for a moment in order to fill my stem-less wine glass with a nice Cabernet. That’s right, I’m deftly swishing it around in my left hand right now. I hope later that my hours toiling over this manuscript will be gauged by the reddish-brown rings left by the wine on the corrugated cardboard slats parallel to where I rest my computer. But right now, the wine is twirling like a tiny eddy in my glass. Speaking of moving against the current, my memoir will also be a counter-cultural view of the political and social age. For one, I’ll be sure to voice my simultaneous amusement and condemnation of things. God, I loathe myself…isn’t that funny?
I’m working intensely right now on developing an obsessive, self-destructive habit (non-sexual of course), and also looking to get into an abusive relationship. I haven’t decided whether it would be better to find a fragile and loving woman in order to slowly and irrevocably crush her soul while she continues to pledge her loyalty, Maryann Carver-style, or whether we would have an intriguing role-reversal scenario in which she threatens castration and dogs my work in more of a Zelda kind of way. Either way, that woman isn’t getting any of the royalties from my books. And my physical estate (including the desk and wine glass) will be donated to some sort of obscure German museum with an Übermensch curator. Note: inserting the word “Übermensch” is perhaps the easiest and best way to exhibit your erudition and confuse people at the same time.
Now that I’ve got a few glasses in me and feel a kind of Hemingway-at-a-French-cafe repose (which incidentally doubles as the perfect gray-scale back-cover photo pose), I would like to really reflect on things, kind of to add that extra philosophical node to my body of work. If a man is truly judged by what he didn’t do as much if not more so than by what he’s done, perhaps not writing a memoir is the best idea yet. Or maybe a memoir with blank pages? Because heck, I can’t remember everything as it happened. And that’s the god-honest truth.
Okay, less about boobies and more about breast cancer prevention and treatment. This NYT article highlights the US Preventative Services Task Force’s decision to raise the age of yearly mammograms to 50 years of age for women without major risk factors (which is up from the previous suggestion of 40 yrs old).
The ten-year difference in recommended testing for women hinges around the group’s claim that new data shows that testing later will actually reduce “potential harm from overscreening.”
While the arguments could be rationalized on both sides, this paragraph was particularly galling:
“While many women do not think a screening test can be harmful, medical experts say the risks are real. A test can trigger unnecessary further tests, like biopsies, that can create extreme anxiety. And mammograms can find cancers that grow so slowly that they never would be noticed in a woman’s lifetime, resulting in unnecessary treatment.”
Okay. Extreme anxiety is a real thing. But m.snowe finds it hard to call that an excuse against testing for one the top killers of women in America. And m.snowe finds it hard to believe that any medical professional would urge any patient to actually know less about what’s going on inside their bodies. Also, the implied perception that women somehow can’t handle the knowledge harkens back to the days when a man would consult their wife’s physician for a report, as if they were children.
Aside from any sociological/gender issues, how exactly does any panel evaluate the threshold for what constitutes the value of a single life saved? This is a large question that really applies to any scientific study of a similar skein. Well, this study decided that one prevented death per 1,904 women between the ages of 40-49 just wasn’t worth the hassle of testing all women of that age group. That’s fine, until you’re that one woman, I suppose. And anyone can be that woman.
m.snowe would probably be more apt to accept the study’s conclusion if other independent organizations working for better cancer treatment were also in line with the findings. Both the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology are sticking with 40.
“The guidelines are not expected to have an immediate effect on insurance coverage but should make health plans less likely to aggressively prompt women in their 40s to have mammograms and older women to have the test annually.”
If a government agency is producing guidelines, as an insurance company, you would do your best to use that to your advantage in terms of lowering costs, and restricting “unnecessary” testing. Despite what people think about universal healthcare, government-funded panels like this already dictate much of our healthcare practices.
Did Kafka meditate on koans? Either way, there are similarities between his work and the zen parables (come on, buddhist “gateless gates” v. Before the Law ‘s “gatekeeper”?). Also, “koan” is just a cool noun.
“Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”
m.snowe just realized she’s surpassed the 100 comment mark (since she started this wordpress version of her blog). Awesome, but it’s about damn time. Comment early and often!
“Dreams are so rich and have such an authentic feeling that scientists have long assumed they must have a crucial psychological purpose. To Freud, dreaming provided a playground for the unconscious mind; to Jung, it was a stage where the psyche’s archetypes acted out primal themes. Newer theories hold that dreams help the brain to consolidate emotional memories or to work though current problems, like divorce and work frustrations.
Yet what if the primary purpose of dreaming isn’t psychological at all?…Drawing on work of his own and others, Dr. Hobson argues that dreaming is a parallel state of consciousness that is continually running but normally suppressed during waking.“
Isn’t fiction, by this loose definition, like a dream, then? Doesn’t fiction (usually, at least the realistic kind) have to be a string of somewhat plausible events that are a “crude test run” for life? Or perhaps, more accurately, a test run with limitless possibilities and artistic flourish that we think on even when we are not reading? Surely, you can’t live out fictional stories, just like you can’t live out dreams during wakefulness. They are random smatterings, but also taken from aspects of real life. They may or may not have psychological applications. But they can be consuming, absorbing. And how many times do we reference novels in real life, as if an invocation of their dream-like hopefulness, or lack thereof?
So, what if fictional characters “woke up” and everything was just blasé? What if fiction was the fun house mirror we look at ourselves through?
So this was an interesting Newsweek article that m.snowe was kindly forwarded the other week. What is not interesting or controversial is the premise of atheists in America, given that many people are atheists (the article claims 12 %), and usually live comfortably even in a nation with such extreme sectors of evangelism.
Regardless of your theology (or lack thereof), the author of this article, Miller, isn’t doing herself, or atheists, any favors with her tepid and, frankly, elementary assault of the three horsemen of the non-religious apocalypse: Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens.
m.snowe will fight on the front line for causes that attempt to widen the audience and the speakers for a given issue, be it political, social, philosophical. But the one thing that should not happen is the use of tactics that she herself would call foul on. You can point out that a conversation of atheism needs to happen between atheists of all shapes, sizes, colors, and sexes. You can point out that right now the authorities and centers of debate on atheism as most people know them are these three men–that is a statement of fact. But you cannot dismiss their arguments due to their sex or skin color, or try and say they are not scholars because of these factors. Sadly, how does one reconcile the need to let other voices in without silencing the other legitimate voices due to stereotype, sight-unseen?
This is a hard point of contention for m.snowe (and she has a feeling, other femiladies) because you want to be purely objective, but you also know that these men who are the leaders in the field did receive advantages that many women growing up beside them did not (in terms of education, social acceptance, etc.). It’s not fair to punish the “three smartest guys in school” because they flourished in the environment given to them that allowed them to become smart, but it is also not fair that that environment or selective exclusion of ladies and minorities existed in the first place. The image of “two white men sparring in a pub” might not be sexy, but if two women sparring in a pub is, then isn’t that just as un-nuanced and unnecessary too (not to mention sexist)? We need to open up the forum for more voices, but they should all be free to approach the podium without assumptions based on factors such as sex. Woolf pleaded for ambiguity, and if an atheist needs help with that, perhaps they should start talking to the agnostics.
To be fair to Miller, religion is an especially thorny area of debate for feminists, given its extensive tendency to subject them, and the outright inability of most religions to supply women with an equal framework to start from. So it’s understandable that Miller would want to point out that even the current conversation about non-religion is being run by a small panel of well-to-do men. But at least, if she used some sort of historical argument to ask for inclusion of women and people of different racial backgrounds, she’d have published a much more persuasive piece. There is nothing more wonderful than an eloquent and well-thought-out response, one written with conviction and strength, not name-calling. m.snowe engages in some good old bullying now and then, but would never consider it a 100% effective tool for getting people to support your ideology.
So how does one reconcile? Luckily, there is no divine answer.
m.snowe is chock full o’ lady stuff to share from the past few days…
Ariel Levy writes on this in the New Yorker. (False memory syndrome is scary shit).
m.snowe got to see The Dinner Party, finally.
Thoughts on The Party?:
m.snowe liked the span of this piece. Never having seen pictures, only reading descriptions of the work, the concept was clearly different in practice than as msnowe envisioned. It was offset from all the other exhibits, and the lighting was intentionally low. If lucky enough, you received a small booklet to explain the “famous” lady table settings that you could flip through as you explored each section of the piece. Admittedly, (shamefully,) msnowe needed the booklet in order to know about many of the ladies, especially those towards the beginning or middle of the walk around the exterior of the triangle. This fact, that msnowe’s own lady-knowledge was lacking, was upsetting, especially given her penchant for knowing these things. But also, how is it that one table could possibly contain most of the influential women in history? Because msnowe thought of all the ladies she’d like to see at this table before viewing it, and the exhibit wasn’t missing any of them. How can it be just one table? Even with a floor that scribbles on many other names as well? And how could msnowe not know all their stories? If there was such a table, and it was filled with 39 of the most important male figures throughout history, would it possible to not know every single, blessed one? Even just having the name ring a bell? The ignorance was at once excusable and completely unreasonable–rational yet enraging. We live in a world that for most of its history has been unconcerned with female triumph (i.e. history is written by those in power). What also bothered msnowe (not as much, but still quite a bit) were the place settings themselves. Why does everything have to be vulvar petals and porcelain lips? I know Georgia O’Keeffe was an influence in this, but if there was a male dinner table of dominance (um, we already have plenty of those in real life anyways, one might add), would they need to have knives shaped like penises? Wouldn’t the men be celebrated by their accomplishments and not necessarily their bait and tackle? Don’t get msnowe wrong here, lady-hood should be celebrated, every bit including the genitalia–but isn’t defining a woman by her parts the antithesis to equality? Difference should be respected and accepted, not defining and segregating. If someone writes an amazing novel, or paints an amazing picture, they should be toasted for their talents, not their genitals (or skin color, or orientation, or age, etc.). msnowe supposes that any piece of art which tips the scales away from phallic imagery is still doing some good. And msnowe also freely admits this piece belongs to another time, one where the celebration of all things female was a necessary reaction to a hostile world view. This was a revolution after all. Regardless of your artistic bent, it’s important not to forget that. Because as Levy explains in her New Yorker piece, the worst kind of feminism is one void of feminists.
Speaking of a lady-void, did you see this shiznit? Obviously, Publisher’s Weekly didn’t feel it necessary to invite any of the amazing lady writers to dinner.
Also, this is just catchy.
That place never has any plain rice. They have jasmine, and yellow, and Basmati, and brown mixes and medleys, but never the plain sticky “I just worked in the paddy all day” white. That’s not the first time I went into that store looking for the basest of base ingredients and came through the opposite swinging door empty-handed and ticked off.
This time, some jerk with a smile on his face was standing in a Hawaiian shirt at the entrance, and told me I had to go through the exit doors around the corner instead of back out the way I came in.
Well, I hate doing that.
Every time, no matter how small my bag is, I feel like I’m trying to smuggle something out, unpaid. I don’t ever steal except for that one time when I took plastic figurines off my grandma’s mail table, and after my parents found the tiny orange giraffes caravanning on the dresser in my room my chin smarted for a week. I was really foxed by those giraffes.
But I feel like a crook whenever I leave a store through a separate exit and haven’t bought anything, but the store layout makes it so you are definitely exiting and not entering. And you pass the registers, and you say to yourself “I didn’t buy anything, but I have no reason to feel strange or apprehensive.” But then the thought that you have no reason to appear that way makes you wonder how you appear, and that extra layer of consciousness always gets me–soon my eyes are shifting, and I’ve morphed into a hoodlum, complete with baggy pants, a cautious step, and a feeling that my parents never thought I would amount to anything. I’ll show them for slapping me on the chin. What’s an 85-year old woman doing with tiny giraffes anyways?
That’s the feeling of the tragedy of capitalism, or something. And they make the exits so sinuous and impossible to get out of without banging into something or otherwise drawing undue attention to yourself. It’s like navigating a sleigh in the Iditarod with rabid raccoons, all the more if you have an empty cart with a busted front wheel.
My dad once told me never to talk politics in polite conversation. But I don’t think it’s politically controversal to ask markets not to fill their register n-caps with small bags of goodies I would like. You’re walking through without a purchase, or you have your ingredients for dinner, and then you see that damn barrel of honey roasted peanuts, calling out like an orange giraffe on a mail table. But you don’t need them, and they are pricey for such a small portion. It should be illegal. It’s like they are aiding and abetting a crime. The crime? Highway robbery, as my father would say. And if you’re on a public highway, it is now a political/social issue. I’m more than capable of shoving bags of peanuts in my pockets unnoticed before I get to the checkout. But now, when they’re right in my face at the end of my trip, I’m mad if I missed them back in the aisle where the security camera doesn’t have good visibility. The pockets of my coat can’t afford any unusual bulges. I didn’t think it was possible to say “fuck you” using legumes, but that just goes to show how insidious politics can get.