Monday, September 30, 2013

In Which I Fear my Fellow Citizens and Quote David Bowie

I have moved to Wyoming, a clear indication that I have lost control of my life.  That's not important right now. But on the way to Wyoming, while on one of several planes,  I was waiting in a line for the lavatory, because planes have such things, at which time I was chatting with a nice gentleman who was complaining about having to wait in line for a plane lavatory.  I did that annoying thing where I explain how much worse things could be and start telling stories about Peace Corps Tanzania, where we would be on a bus, and the lavatory would be when the bus pulls over maybe once every 4 hours and people run out and use the bushes.  And by people. I mean men, who get out of the bus first, and then the bus often isn't stopped long enough for the women to get off, much less find a place farther away than the men have to go, and deal with the logistics of excreting while female.  So women tend to just get dehydrated on long, unairconditioned bus rides.  Healthy!

Anyway, once I got off my returned volunteer soapbox of how much worse I've had it than you (such the fun soapbox) the nice gentleman responded by telling me that I must have a heart of gold (not really) and no fear (also not really) and that East Africa has this terrible problem called Kony who is next on "our" (the US' in general?  Or is he DOD?  Less savory acronymed people?) hit list and he's going to be killed soon.

Umm.  I said I thought it was illegal for the U.S. to engage in assassination activities (which technically, it is, not that anyone seems to care.  Well, sort of, it's a matter of executive orders rather than law.)   He told me it was only illegal to kill legitimate political leaders, which I'm reasonably sure is not how the executive orders are phrased, but I didn't have an internet connection to check at the time, and I'd rather not argue based on my fuzzy recollections of official documents.  Also, I was a little disturbed and managed to get out of the conversation by entering the lavatory.

However, among other considerations, for example human rights and due process of law and respect for the sovereignty of other nations, killing big name evil types isn't really a sustainable approach to making the world a better place.  Also, Kony?  Not really a thing right now.  Al-Shabaab is much more of a problem if we want to talk about how folk are dying violently in East Africa.

All other things aside, that the reaction to hearing about another part of the world is "there's someone there that should die and 'we' are going to arrange it" is a little creepy. In the immortal words of David Bowie, I'm afraid of Americans.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Caturday Post: To the Tiger at the Zoo

Madeleine may have simply said poo poo, but I felt sorry for the tiger. The tiger couldn't get the toy out of the tree!

Judgy sibling tiger is judgy.

Fortunately, there is another toy. 

 Unfortunately, it got lost in the water.

 Judgy sibling is still judgy.

Poor toylesss tiger! 

My Mountains

These are the mountains that I grew up with:
These are the Appalachians.  Their kami are good kami.1

These are the White Mountains, mere plateaus next to the Rocky Mountains farther west, but still big enough to loom over the valley:
Their kami are fierce kami.

Winter came this morning:
but melted away by afternoon.

1 kami is usually translated as "god," but can mean anything from improbably anthropomorphic superbeings to the vaguest of genius loci.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Celebrate Banned Book Week!

Being somewhat behind the times, I am reading Gargantua and Pantagruel, which I don't think has been banned since the 16th century.  Nonetheless, controlling-type folk are still busy trying to decide for us that some things we simply mustn't read.   We should foil these folk.

Visit for more information and lists of banned and challenged titles.

What are you reading that someone objects to?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Which Red Pandas are Interpreted from a Pokémonist Perspective

Warning: references to Japanese games and folklore.

At the zoo over the weekend my friends and I were admiring the fluffy cuteness that is the red panda.

It's indistinguishable from a plush toy, really.

One of the fun things about speaking the local language natively is that eavesdropping becomes effortless.  Thus it was that I heard a small child ask her parent/guardian ask what the red panda evolved into.  Methinks this child has had a little too much Pokémon and not quite enough science.  At the same time, it's a great question.  What does a red panda evolve into?  A black and white panda?  A bear?

Post-evolution yawning!

Still, who am I to criticize the small child?  I had an urge to help the tanukis escape so they would do me a life-saving favor later at my next deus ex machina point.

Magical shape-shifting raccoon dog!

Tired magical shape-shifting raccoon dog.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Today in Gendered Advertising: Prettified Tools

Seen at the gift shop at Zoo Atlanta.  Because heaven forbid we merchandize without reinforcing gender stereotypes.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gratuitous Sex and Ninja Assassins: Troilus and Cressida for Some Kind of Win. Maybe.

Shakespeare Tavern Night!  It's probably my favorite place in Atlanta.  My friends and I went there for Troilus and Cressida (selected over Twelfth Night because none of us had seen it before), and I'm not really sure what to make of this play.  I'm tempted to be shallowly pleased by the shallow crowd-pleasing gratuitous sex scenes (on a leopard skin rug, no less! With musicians!) and be done with it.

As a comment on the absurdities of war (particularly the Trojan one) and silly love stories, Troilus and Cressida starts out well enough. The Trojans hang out on balconies fanboying/girling over the hot Trojan warriors coming back from the field (To be fair, hot Trojan men in short kirtles.  It's not the worst.). The Greeks, meanwhile, are led by a bunch of old drunk men who, after a drunken counsel, decide that all their problems in taking Troy are Achilles' fault.  As Achilles is spending all his time in his tent with Patroclus (unabashedly presented as a catamite, complete with kissing, go Shakespeare Tavern!) this is sound policy.  Always blame the person not in the room.  Our titular lovers, meanwhile, are going about their titular love with the aid of Cressida's Sassy Gay Uncle and his witty repartee, and it really doesn't seem that serious, vows of eternal affection in poetic language not withstanding.  Other characters on both Trojan and Greek sides have silly witty repartee and it's all very slapstick and fun.

It's after the intermission that the play falls apart.  It stops being a comedy when Cressida gets traded to the Greeks in exchange for another prisoner being released.  Troilus decides to be a complete jerk about this, and gives her a speech about staying true (like she's going to have a choice in the matter, do we really have any illusions about what happens to captive Trojan women who are given to the Greeks?) and later decides to visit her in the Greek camp to spy on her to make sure she's being true(rescuing would seem more to the point, but she's not that important, I guess) and not only is she all sweet and affectionate toward Diomedes, she gives the following speech:

Ah, poor our sex! This fault in us I find,
The error of our eye directs our mind.
What error leads must err; O then conclude,
Minds swayed by eyes are full of turpitude.

Is that Shakespeare's take on this?  Really?  Her lover Troilus gives her to the Greeks.  Just gives her.  With a hug, but that doesn't make it better. He's a prince, I'm sure he could actually manage to do something useful. So is Shakespeare, with his much vaunted insight into the human psyche, really saying Cressida now totally has the hots for Diomedes, totally for realz and not at all influenced by a desire to not be gang-raped by a bunch of drunk old men?  There's a scene in which they all take turns kissing her.  I'm thinking that is probably a stand in for sex, if not, it's still creepily non-consensual.  This is a play in which women have no agency and are explicitly referred to as things (that the things are pearls does not make it better).  Cressida is doing what she can to protect herself, that Shakespeare has her saying she's just a fickle woman with her love at the mercy of the last hot man she saw is repulsive.  

Back to the main plot (because the titular characters seem like afterthoughts throughout), there are battles going on now! We have gone from comedic Greek commanders and silly Trojan love stories to Serious Combat and Depressing Death, and it doesn't seem to tie together in any clear manner. Particularly since the only characters who die are Patroclus (who we never really cared about) and the hottest man in the cast Hector.  Hector is enough of a character that we might care, but the drama of his death is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that the responsible Myrmidons are magical ninja assassins. Achilles' knavery in claiming glory and responsibility for Hector's death at the hands of Myrmidons is also overshadowed, because why are the Myrmidons magical ninja assassins?  I hate to criticize magical ninja assassins, I really do, but I was so busy trying to figure out why the Myrmidons were magical ninja assassins that I missed some speechifying.

Oh, in further questionable staging choices besides the magical ninja assassins, while all the Trojans are in mourning, the bastard son of Priam assumes a crucified hero shot, because Reasons.  Not only does The Illiad (and any actual historical events forming its basis) predate Christianity, it predates crucifixion as a popular form of execution.  I realize Shakespeare didn't particularly care about anachronisms, so if there seemed some actual reason for some crucifixion symbolism tossed in at the end, I doubt I'd care, but there wasn't, so I do.

It's not that the Shakespeare Tavern did a bad job presenting this (except for maybe the magical ninja assassins), it's just that the play itself is odd.  But as the announcer telling people to turn off their phones remarked, seeing Troilus and Cressida gives one serious Shakespearean street cred.  So there's that.  Also Thersites, who tells everyone in excellent turns of phrases that they are stupid and he hates them.  He may be the only character in the play with sense.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Caturday Post: Useless Kitty is Useless

I am catsitting for my parents at the moment.  They have an overly fluffy Persian mutt thing named Ophelia.  She is cute.  She is also useless.  I can send her outdoors when I see plump squirrels and she doesn't notice them. 

There was recently a large cockroach in my vicinity.  I picked up Ophelia and put her down right in front of the roach.  She didn't even notice it.  Useless. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apple Pie--Now with More Space Lobsters!

My parents don't seem to have food coloring for me to play with while I make free with their kitchen.  They do, however, have cookie cutters.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

In Which Our Intrepid Narrator Starts Afresh and Makes Muffins

I am no longer a dirty Peace Corps bum.  But I am soon moving to Wyoming, a clear indication that I have lost control of my life.  I have, however, all the amenities of the developed world, and am making muffins, which I regard as the pinnacle of western civilization.  That I have neither rationale nor allegory for this does not concern me.  There are muffins, and muffins are good, and the internet has lots of suggestions for muffins.

Civilization takes time to do right.  Pans should be
well greased and floured.

If barbarians disrupt the proceedings, that's okay.  

Cranberries!  Also apples, for cranberry apple muffins, but
cranberries!  Out of season but still available!

Stirring too much is not advised.  Never poke too much at the underpinnings
of civilization.  


Muffins with bacon!   And eggs scrambled in bacon grease
with cheese added.   America has all the fats and I love it. 
Love and muffins to you all, darlings.