Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley Cyrus, Naked

I heard about Disney's newest "scandal" involving Miley Cyrus this morning; these are two of the photos taken that are being analyzed (or perhaps more aptly, devoured) on the top morning news programs. They were taken by Vanity Fair and I've heard every label given to them from "raunchy" to "pornographic" to "shameful" to "disturbing." What made me want to write about them, though, was the way people are "handling" them. I watched two so-called family experts on the Today Show deal with how to talk to your children about the uncomfortable combination of Disney wholesomeness and sexuality. To me, they missed the potential of what could have been a really interesting conversation.

You see, everyone is highlighting the shame that Cyrus should feel about "giving into the temptation that Hollywood provides." They're emphasizing her apology and how disappointed mothers of young children are in the new idol. The "experts" I saw this morning said they were going to rush home and talk to their children about how peer pressure can get the worst of anyone, "even celebrities." But I think this is really about 2 other, much more complex (and interesting) topics. First of all, what we're really talking about is adolescent sexuality. Miley Cyrus is 15 years old; she's not 8. And, let's be clear, she's not naked in either of these photographs, nor were they taken at some seedy dive before she became famous. But the sensual look she's throwing over her shoulder and the skin that she's given you permission to look at suggests what anxious young moms are really worried about: she's in charge of her own sexuality. She's given you access to a body she's covered with bright colors and Disney goodness up to this point. And that makes people nervous.

The other thing that's making people upset, really, underneath all of this talk about corrupting young children, stems from an inability (or perhaps a refusal) to see the shots as art. Vanity Fair is and always has been a master at straddling the line between popular news and artistic experimentation. The photographer Annie Leibovitz is known for striking depictions of celebrities; when Cyrus saw the digital photos before they were published, she commented on how "artsy" she thought they looked -- a comment she has now been forced to rescind.

So, really, if we want to talk about the scandal in a productive way, it's perhaps more useful to skip over chiding what so many see as yet another morally depraved celebrity and move instead to a more interesting discussion. When is it OK for a child to embrace her sexuality and, really, can a 15-year-old be discussed as a child? At what point does a daughter begin becoming a woman? Aren't most women playing multiple roles their entire lives -- mother, lover, wife, daughter, sister? Isn't Cyrus, then, just beginning to embrace what so-called "adult" women must balance for the rest of their lives? And what divides art from pornography, if anything? If Cyrus were unknown and the photograph where her back was exposed were a painting, it would probably be hailed the world over; should the nation's idolatry of her be recognized as the nation's problem and not her own?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Sabbath

Have you ever wondered which Christian felt it was a good idea to put the Sabbath on Sunday? It hasn't always been on a Sunday, of course -- the Christian calendar is largely an arbitrary one, usually arranged to eclipse the pagan holidays it was, at one time, trying to create (you remember learning that Christ wasn't born in December and that the time of Resurrection had nothing to do with the pagan fertility rites that remain in our Easter eggs, right?). No one has ever properly explained to me how we moved away from the Sabbath as a holy day of rest and into the Sabbath as a day to stuff full of activities from dawn until dusk. Even the Puritans, a fairly industrious group of Americans since they believed idleness led to sinfulness, rested on the Sabbath. I say this because it is raining today, a Sunday, and the world outside is heavy with dark clouds and beautiful as a backdrop to a green Mississippi. Oh, I know I can't fight aeons of tradition and I'm not saying I'm giving up attending worship services. It's just that there's something sacred that comes from stillness.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A New Dawn, a New Day

It's a good day to be alive! For the first night in -- I really cannot remember when -- my insomnia could not get the best of me. My new weapon of choice? Nope -- no chemicals or new age music. A gigantic bed and, finally, a mattress I did not pull from the top shelf at Sam's Club. I know, this isn't the most interesting thing I could share with you, but if you've ever been an insomniac, you know that a decent night's sleep makes you feel like you could conquer the world. Bring it on, Thursday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

I haven't yet recommended books to anyone through my blog because I assume everyone has varying tastes. But this one is different. This one appeals to anyone who loves a story. St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is a collection of short stories by Karen Russell, only 25 years old and already (as one reviewer said) "on fire." Here's an excerpt from one of the stories entitled "the Star-Gazer's Log of Summer-Time Crime":

"Petey's not particularly nimble, but he sure is quick. I'm not surprised. The formula bubbles up unbidden in my brain: Momentum = mass X velocity. And Petey is a sandy dervish of a man, soft-bellied, at least twice my height.
He is also twinkling like a star.
When I get closer, I find out why. Somebody has tied a trash-can lid to Petey's chest with crisscrossed strings of Xmas lights. It's been buffed to an impressive sheen."

The star-gazer story recalls a little boy, a "science nerd" by his own definition, who meets a mentally challenged albino on a beach along with the school bully and his girlfriend, who rope the star-gazer into tricking baby sea turtles to climb into a burlap sack so that they can say they have become criminals (it's against the law to violate a sea turtle's nest). The other stories are equally strange; the one I finished last night was about a 19th century minotaur with a human family who pulls their wagon across the desert to the West in a (vain) search for free land. The first story in the collection recalls two orphaned (or abandoned? I'm not sure) children living on an alligator farm in Louisiana who are separated by the sister's schizophrenia, a disease which convinces her to run away into the marsh with an invisible boyfriend.

And although all of them, as you can probably tell, have a penchant for the "strange," they are surprisingly, equally, human. Each character struggles with something just recognizable enough that, although the main character may have horns or talks to ghosts who aren't there, you could almost swear this exact scenario had once happened to you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


As of 4/20/2008, Andrew and I have been married for 6 years and together for 8. Many thanks to my husband for putting up with idiosyncrasies, graduate school, and, well, all that comes with living with me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

All Hail the Queen of the Bluestockings

Meet Anne Macvicar Grant. Well, technically you can't meet her because she's been dead for about 200 years, but I'll do my best to introduce you to her. (As you're all probably sick of hearing) I write about women's letters, and I'm about to start writing my 3rd chapter, which is about women who wrote letters about the natural world -- that is, plants, stars, comets, animals, and unidentifiable phenomena. Anne Macvicar Grant is the newest addition to my project, and she's a fascinating woman.

She was born in Glasgow, Scotland so technically has no place in an American studies project except that she moved to America (specifically, to Albany, New York) with her father, who was a representative to the British military, in 1758 and she took to the place immediately.
She lived here from age 3 to 13 and received such an education and had such an appetite for reading that she was known as Queen of the Bluestockings. Bluestocking women were the educated elite, often ridiculed for what they knew and how they challenged typical misogynist thought in the 18th century.

During the American Revolution, she and her family had to leave the US despite owning much land in Vermont because they were loyalists to the British throne; her return to the Highlands in Scotland provided fodder for a widely-circulated book that she later wrote called Letters from the Mountains which blends the genres of travel narrative, autobiography, naturalist musings, and epistolarity (letter-writing). Interestingly enough (at least, to me), she also published a memoir that she called Memoirs of an American Lady, indicating that she identified, not with the place of her birth, but the place of her adolescence. Adding her to my project will certainly call into question the confines of what it meant to be a (British-Scottish-Loyalist) American in the late 18th century. Consider yourself, as I do, only nominally introduced.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eavesdropping on Evangelists

I have a dissertation fellowship, which means I'm privileged to work from anywhere my laptop can take me. This usually means libraries, coffee shops, and, if I'm lucky, city parks. In my time in these places, I've overheard some very strange things -- you wouldn't imagine some of the stuff that goes on outside of your cubicle during the day -- and I thought I'd share my top three favorites.

The first happened in the Tupelo library upstairs in a neglected part of the city library, where the building stores antique furniture and collectible books stored in glass cases. I had wedged myself into a corner in an attempt to hide and get some work done on the dissertation when the peace and furniture dust were interrupted by the approach of two women: one, a young attorney representing a local firm, and the other, an older, perhaps retired woman looking besmirched but reluctantly willing to be there. They sat in a position where they could not see me, but I could hear everything. The attorney began the interview -- I really thought she was dictating her will or something -- but it got strange as it progressed. It went something like this:

"Where were you when you when Mrs. ____ passed away?"
Elderly-looking garden-club lady: "By her bedside. I was her nurse."
"Did you administer any medicines to her that day?"
"Only those prescribed to her."
"Are you aware that her daughters think you poisoned her?"
"I am."
"Did you?"
"I did not."
"Do you believe in euthanasia?"
"I believe people have the right to die or live as they see fit."
"Do you believe you should be the one to determine if they should die or live?"
"No. I am a nurse. I want them to live."
"Did you poison Mrs. _____?"
"I did not."
"Why would her daughters think so?"
"Because I am their stepmother, and I married their dad. They've hated me since the beginning of the marriage. They didn't trust me with their mother."

So that was odd. I do wonder what happened to her. Do you think the garden-lady went to jail? Why would her husband let her take care of his ex-wife? And why would she do it? The whole situation seemed bizarre. And the woman seemed completely, unflappably calm.

The second odd thing I heard was at my typical visit to Starbucks, which I go to once a week to do my work. This story also involves an attorney and her client. The conversation went something like this:

Attorney: "You do know you'll have to translate everything I say into Arabic or whatever language it is you people speak. Everything. Your wife must know everything I say."
Man: "Yes."
Attorney: "I don't think this procedure will be difficult. Is she a terrorist?"
Man: "No."
Attorney: "Is she related to a terrorist? Has she ever been around terrorists? How long did she live in the Middle East before coming here? Has she ever been to jail? Has she ever been in a rally?"
[Man answers questions]
Attorney: "I had a friend who moved here from the Middle East. Everyone automatically thought he was a terrorist."

So I suppose she was a getting a visa -- but it was an odd conversation nonetheless. Incidentally, the woman who needed translating never showed.

And, finally, one of the strangest conversations I've overheard in a while came yesterday on the town square. I'd just finished running the Batesville 5K route and was stretching to let my right leg stop cramping up on me when I saw an evangelist with a sign. On one side, it read : "Let me tell you why you should go to hell." On the other, it said something like "Repent of your sins." And he had a bullhorn. He was shouting to no one in particular, "Women! Cover yourselves! Don't let the sin of the world corrupt you with temptations of the flesh! Cover your arms and your legs and do not tempt men of Christ!" I truly looked around for the ghost of Flannery O'Connor. I think she was certainly there with me. About this time, instead of my favorite cantankerous Catholic writer, I saw a man approach the evangelist and begin an animated conversation. I was afraid to get close -- I, after all, was in a running outfit and feared the lunatic's wrath -- but I heard the man tell the evangelist, "My mother was a Catholic and her mother before her. I am Mexican." And the evangelist responded, "Then you, sir, are a half-breed." I do not know what that meant.

As I began pondering whether or not free speech should, in fact, be limited, a local police officer took the evangelist and his gigantic sign away. Perhaps the saddest part of that overheard conversation was the silent part. Two young boys, I'd say about 11 or 12 years old, accompanied the man with the sign and they sat slumped on the bench, completely silent. They did not look unhappy, or angry -- even exuberant or committed. They looked . . . blank. Minions. In training, perhaps.

Have you ever wondered if people are, even unwillingly, listening to you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chloe versus the Vet

This is Chloe the tortoise-shell cat. My "firstborn." She's six years old and today she's at the vet. Saturday night, she became ill and I couldn't get her to stop "becoming ill" by Monday morning so I took her to the vet; this morning, I went to pick her up, hoping for some sort of diagnosis, and the vet, who, after a day and a morning still hadn't seen me, left a note to tell me that the cat had hairballs and that would be $150 please. With one skeptical eyebrow raised, I said how odd it was that she "developed" these "hairballs" just 2 weeks after her visit to the vet for her annual checkups -- and, I noted, it was even stranger that her partner in crime, Allie, our tabby cat, has developed the exact same symptoms this morning. Sans hairballs. In other words, neither cat can even swallow food.

We all know what happened. The girls picked up some sort of virus a couple of weeks ago at the vet, but when I suggested it, instead of looking into it the nurses got defensive: we keep our cages clean, I can't remember what animals came in that day, that was 2 weeks ago (the time it takes for a human virus to "awaken" if I remember biology correctly) and so on and so forth. Since when did it become a bad thing for a doctor to say, "Oh? That information changes my outlook. I will look again." or "Oh? Perhaps I was wrong. If both of your animals have the exact symptoms at the exact time following a visit to my place of occupation, perhaps I should see what animals visited here to see if they picked up something I know how to treat already." Why, instead, do people make excuses for a mistake or ineptitude? Is it actually more important to appear right than to administer adequate care?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The South's Largest Flea Market

Yesterday we went to the South's largest flea market and I was amazed! There were 3 warehouses full of stuff -- perhaps the most amusing being the largest convention of AKC registered puppies for sale I've ever seen.  There were Yorkies and Snorkies and Yorkiepoos; Miniature rotweillers and rat terriers and teacup chihuahuas; even pomeranians and great danes and poodles. I have it bad for a Yorkie and stayed next to one for about ten minutes. He chewed on my knuckles and fingers and when I finally tore myself away -- he was $500 -- he stuck his arms through the gate and CRIED.  And the people around the cage turned to me and gave a collective AWWW. I felt like I was on some sort of sitcom.  But I had to say no.

The coolest thing we found was that Lane furniture store was selling remainders at the market -- brand new king-sized beds for 90% off.  So, I finally have a king-sized bed. I'll get a chance to sleep without a cat up my nose or an elbow in my ear. Thank goodness. And thank you to to the government, who bought it with the "incentive check" which I surely hope arrives next month.

The flea market also had an array of other interesting sites, too numerous to list in the entirety, but here's a sample: hairbows, Amish people, honeycomb honey with the honeycomb still in it, comic books, Jesus shirts, redneck bumper stickers, boxes of candybars, makeup, baby bags, groceries, roasted almonds, dirty children, dishwashing liquid, homemade soy candles, pet carriers, knives, and Cockatoos.  What a day.     

Friday, April 11, 2008


[On the left: the original Devdas]
[On the right: Sharukh Khan]

[Originally posted on my myspace blog]

A run-in with another Bollywood fan yesterday (in my small town, no less) prompts this part 2 of my Bollywood Guide for the Uninitiated. But this will be short -- I’ve got to get to work!

Devdas is a classic Bollywood film that has been done and redone but no matter which version you see, you’ll know it’s something special. Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya’s novel Devdas, it’s the Indian version of Romeo and Juliet, complete with tragedy, a sweeping story about two childhood sweethearts, Devdas and Paro (Parvati), who come from two different backgrounds and so are consistently kept apart from one another. The most famous version was directed by Bimal Roy in 1955, with Dilip Kumar playing Devdas, Suchitra Sen playing Paro, and Vyjayanthimala playing Chandramuki, the prostitute Devdas turns to when he turns Paro away. The flick was masterfully (but scandalously) redone in 2002 when Leela Bhansali directed SRK and Aish Rai (who now no longer speak to each other) in the lead roles. Bhansali’s decision to redo it would be equivalent to someone attempting to reshoot Gone with the Wind -- a 4 hour masterpiece that very few people see a need to redo.

What’s interesting about this film, though, is that the hero (unlike Romeo) isn’t necessarily likeable, especially in Roy’s version. Devdas is abusive and begins the show as a bad boy who smokes and skips school and breaks Paro’s heart whenever he can. As an older man, he’s physically abusive and beats Paro when he wants to vent his frustrations over not being with her. And, since 1950s India was characteristically misogynistic, Paro takes it and comes back for more. The 2002 version makes Devdas a pitiful but attractive creature -- not so much a violent devil as a victimized lover. But Bhansali kept one pivotal scene in the film, when Devdas purposefully scars his lover’s face without warning to make her "remember" him, and it’s just as hard to watch the 2nd and 3rd time as it was the first.

Both versions are a must-see for any Bollywood fan, but if you’ve never seen one before, don’t start with the 1955 version. It’s 4 hours long and Devdas is hateful and I’d be afraid you’d never want to watch another one! Keep an eye on the lake scene in SRK’s 2002 version, though, and tell me what you think of India’s version of an intimate sex scene though no one sheds an article of clothing.

Kacy's Guide to Bollywood for the Unintiated

[Originally posted to the myspace blog]


So everyone who knows me knows I love Bollywood but truthfully, I completely understand that no one wants me to launch into "cool stuff about Bollywood" when I’m talking to them. It makes me sound like I want to be a know-it-all and it’s usually uninvited. That must be annoying, so I’m going to curb my urges to share random trivia about my favorite past time with people in face-to-face conversations.

So to get it out of my system (and to maintain current friendships), I’m going to start a blog about bollywood for the average, American celluloid fan. I’m fairly certain no one will read it, but maybe it will stop me from grabbing Indians in supermarkets just to ask them if they know where I can see "Jodhaa Akbar" in the state of MS.

Since this is my first blog, I thought I’d write about the basics.

1. Bollywood films are all musicals. Those who let their curiosity get the better of them should not be surprised if, at a very dramatic and dark point in the movie, like in Salaam Namaste where 2 characters struggle with abortion, the characters break out into song. They don’t have musicals and non-musicals; they just have movies, which all involve singing. And a particularly successful movie will cause Desis to dance in the aisle -- literally. Some Hindustanis, or Indians, will see movies several times over so that they can sing with the flick if they like it.

2. None of the Bollywood actors sing their own songs. They have playback singers who do that, and they’re really popular. And Indian MTV is directly linked to Indian cinema.

3. The most recognizable face in the world (according to a study based in London) is Sharukh Khan, affectionately known as SRK. Everyone -- EVERYONE -- knows him but the Americans. He’s the face of hundreds of commercials, and he’s made more movies in 20 years than anyone in Hollywood. He is Bollywood’s leading man, and he’s known as King Khan because he’s so popular. At the latest Bollywood Filmfare Awards, he actually descended to the stage on a throne.

4. Speaking of King Khan, if you want to give bollywood a try, you should start with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Bridegroom will Carry the Bride), or DDLJ for short. It’s the longest running Bollywood film, and something like 15 or more years after it opened, it STILL plays in theaters. And SRK is the star. There are more references to that movie in all Bollywood movies than any other I’ve seen.

5. That brings me to 5. Bollywood is infectious because it’s full of inside jokes, references to other films, and cameos. Indians go to more movies per week than anyone in the world, so they all know the actors, the movie themes, even the directors and directors’ families on sight. So there are a lot of cross-references that make Bollywood fun. If you start with DDLJ and a kitschy 1970s flick called "Bobby," you’re set to get all the jokes too.

6. Speaking of the 1970s, the man whom SRK is constantly trying to live up to is Amitabh Bachchan, or "Big B." He’s been in more movies than SRK and is twice as versatile. He invented the "brooding man" role in India. And that leads to --

7. Bollywood is a nepotistic system. Almost everyone who makes it has family in the business. Amitabh’s son Abishek is a huge star now, in part due to his own abilities but he got the break because of his dad (SRK’s kids are too young, though they’ve had small roles). Abishek married Aishwarya, or Aish, Rai, the most beautiful woman in the world (no really that was her title for a while) who is also a famous actress. Aish Rai marrying Abishek Bachchan means that they are now called the Royal Family of Bollywood -- and if you see them all in a film together, you know it’s a showstopper.

8. But even Abishek and Aish can’t kiss onscreen. Indians believe that kissing on the mouth and sex have no place on the silver screen because it demeans Hindustani values and defiles the actors/actresses in the film. Some risk the shock -- like Aish Rai did with Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom 2 -- but they have to go to court for indecency charges for it. In the 1990s, it was more than a court sentence; the Muslim mafia (India is made primarily of Hindus, hence "Hindustani") tried to control Bollywood and would do anything to damage the set or the people on the set if they were adopting "Western" values onscreen. Censorship and this lingering violent threat means you won’t see any sex in a Bollywood film, but they get around it by kissing everywhere else (neck, arms, all OK) and drenching women in water whenever possible. Seriously, you’ve never seen so many wet saris in your life. Interestingly (or not depending on if you’re still reading at this point), Bollywood films in the 40s show kissing -- but that’s because India hadn’t broken from English rule yet (as they did in 1947). When they did, and when Pakistan and India underwent Partition, splitting into two groups, Indian films vowed never to be associated with Western ways -- hence, no more loose women!

9. I’ve probably done little to inspire your interest. But let’s say it comes up in a weird conversation with a friend of yours and your friend wonders -- where could I find this strange phenomenon? Netflix has tons of Bollywood films for rent (including DDLJ).

10. Bollywood films are in Hindi, so that means you have to read subtitles. And they’re 3 1/2 hours long, with an intermission. But you get used to both. You might even pick up a few new words, like "Shukriyaa," which is "Thank you," as in "Shukriyaa" for reading my blog. =)

The New Slick Bollywood

So this post is mainly about the new slick bollywood but I do have an update on the "Church of Oprah" posting. I got a email from a man who has apparently adopted the title "King of the Crazies;" the text is about 4,000 pages long saying that Oprah will be the downfall of the world. He's actually used his church listserv to encourage his congregation to boycott the talk show because she appears to endorse universalism. He also manages to throw in as a kind of PS that we should boycott Barak Obama too because he supports same-sex marriage (go BARAK!), and I particularly love the way that he blended the two completely irrelevant topics into one nice big purple (yep - purple) rant. Sometimes I wonder if he knew I am as afraid of paranoid lunatics like him as he is of "liberals." I shudder.

At any rate, what I signed on to talk about was a new bollywood flick I watched last night. (I wrote a "Bollywood Guide for the Unintiated" that I put on myspace; I may repost it here.) The show is called "Race" and fits into a new category of Bollywood films that seem to cater to the Western appetite for stop-action shooting, blowing up cars, special effects, and lots of guys in sunglasses. It's about two brothers who are always in competition (in a "race") for everything: money, success, a girl -- and at the end, their lives. It features Saif Ali Khan -- who holds a special place in my heart as he's one of the first Bollywood actors I ever saw in Salaam Namaste, which is the film I recommend everyone start with if they're interested -- and a couple of new actresses named Katrina Kaif (from a flick called Welcome you should try out) and Bipasha Basu (or Bip) (from one of my favorite movies called Dhoom 2). There are as many twists and turns as there are in a junior high girl's diary. I highly recommend it.

The way I got "Race" is unusual. I went to an Asian Grocery in Memphis not too long ago and discovered a treasure trove -- this place sells $2, brand-new, still-in-theater Bollywood movies. Race was one of them, as was Jodhaa Akbar, Holla Bol, Black and White, and Saawariya (the first American, Sony-made Bollywood flick). More to come on those films as I find a spare 4 hours to watch each one. Anyone looking for an adventure should definitely go to the Asian Grocery, which boasts a small cafe in the back with homemade Dhosas and Pani Puri as well as a market FULL of affordable Indian spices, rices, breads, and even serving dishes.

That's it before the weekend begins. Andrew and I are headed to a local gigantic flea market to see what fun is to be had in a warehouse full of junk. Wish us happy hunting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Church of Oprah

Okay, so I get a lot of strange emails. But today's email took the cake, the icing, the platter, and ran out the door with it. There's a movement to boycott Oprah because -- get this -- she doesn't support Christian values and her religious tolerance is "dangerous." You have to understand, before watching this, that I post it while *laughing*. I believe in religious tolerance. But the paranoia behind someone sending this note to me makes me shiver. Every email I get these days suggests something is out to "get us." What is the Christian community so afraid of? If the faith is as strong as we suggest, why do we believe that anything -- even as silly as an Oprah show, or a book with magic in it, or being exposed to opinions different than ours -- could break us down? In my opinion, a foundation that weak had cracks in it already.

The video claims that Oprah does two particularly "frightening" things: 1. She claims that all religions lead to the path of God and 2. She reviews a book that teaches openmindedness and has, in the past, supported the power of positive thinking (I have in mind The Secret). So far, in my book, that makes her just fine -- hardly the antichrist this youtube post makes her out to be.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the premise behind this email and the video to follow is that the sender (and the creator of the clip) believes Oprah is some sort of Christian watchdog meant to guard the sentinel that is religious faith. Um, might I remind everyone that she runs a -- TALKSHOW. She's not a religious leader. Not only is it her right but her job to avoid isolating large groups of people (say, all of Islam or Judaism, just for example).

A Real Post

So my class at church is studying the story of David and I picked up an interesting tidbit there I'd like to share.  Did you know that we wouldn't even know the story of David -- or many other Biblical stories -- without the Muslims?  Islamic scholars believed that these written texts were sacred and worth preserving, so they not only copied the Bible but preserved it (or them -- no one should pretend there was one version of the Bible) during holy war after civil war after holy war. Now, isn't that interesting? The very people whom Americans fear most -- and have no idea why, except to make the blanket statement that all of them are terrorists -- are indebted to them for the preservation of the Christian tradition, the very same tradition some fundamentals invoke to justify war with the East. (I also wonder how widely known it is that Muslims and Hindus believe wholeheartedly in peace as an integral part of their religious faith system; what's broadcasted from Baghdad, Qatar, etc  is the opinion of an angry few.)

On a lighter note -- or perhaps not -- I heard a news report say today that milk in NYC is $7 for a gallon in some places.  Gasoline here is $3.18 and in 2005 alone there was a 233% increase in eggs, the most basic staple of grocery foods.  And yet, I heard political officials on TV this morning insisting we weren't in a recession, suffering from inflation.  Stagflation! The worst -- when your income goes down and the price of food goes up.  They might as well call that starving.  What upsets me isn't so much that there is a problem but that I feel like everyone has  gone stark raving mad to deny we have one.  I feel like someone in a glass box beating on the inside of the walls saying "HEY! COKES ARE $6/BOX! AND I CAN'T AFFORD TO DRIVE TO WORK ANYMORE!" and the people who can do something about it are -- literally -- tapdancing on the stage.  

Perhaps the most frustrating part about feeling this way is that somehow, as if the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 have been called up from their watery graves, questioning the situation has become "unpatriotic." Like a little critique from people like me invokes a cough under the breath that goes something like: "you-must-hate-the-flag."  But what's more "American," more democratic,  than demanding your nation be run by the will of the people, and not the will of the few?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Batesville 5K!

Kacy's First Imix

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mango Smoothie

In the spirit of miscellaneity: a new mango smoothie recipe that's made me feel happy.

In a blender, liquify the following:

1 banana
1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 bag frozen mangoes (16 oz?) Substitute any fruit but these are the best
1/4 cup honey
1 cup apple juice
1 tbl flaxseed (optional)

Makes 3, 1-cup servings.

After I have this smoothie, I feel like I could conquer the world.

Photo Slideshow: India Night - Multimedia

Photo Slideshow: India Night - Multimedia

We went to India Night at UM on Saturday and had a blast. They had authentic Bhangra dancers and previews of upcoming Bollywood movies. The night ended in an authentic Indian spread -- excellent food -- and it was great to be in a room full of people who knew what Hindi films were and loved them like I do.

Cool websites that make my life easier

I love the internet. And I've come across several sites that make life easier or more amusing and I thought I'd share.

1. www.kaboodle.com

My family used kaboodle at Christmas. This is a website that lets you and your friends/family amass a gift wish list and everything each individual lists is linked to the site where you can purchase the gift. It has a place to mark size and color, too! You not only get to avoid the mall and crowds, but your loved ones get what they hoped for and you don't have to insult anybody (ok any girl) by getting her an XXL just to make sure it fits.

2. www.mypoints.com

Through mypoints.com, Andrew and I have "earned" (altogether) about 4, $50 gift cards (to anywhere -- Macy's, target, best buy, wal-mart, olive garden) by clicking on emails mypoints sends us about 3 times a week. The emails are all neatly ordered, so no flashing lights or anything like that, and if you click on them you get 5 points. If you shop "through" mypoints to get to amazon, barnes and noble, target, overstock, or any of the merchants you might typically use online, they "double" or triple the points you earn and log them in your mypoints account. Once you've reached a certain number, you get a gift card. I've earned 5,000 in about 5 months and almost have a Macy's card just for shopping where I always do and clicking on a few emails that I promptly close and rarely read. Yay free money.

3. www.travelzoo.com

I have to fly every year to get to conventions for my job. Travelzoo is a comparison shopping site that compares flights so I have finally been able to stop going to expedia, travelocity, pricegrabber, cheapoair, etc separately. Travelzoo searches them all at once. Voila.

4. http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/

This is the funniest satiric blog I have ever seen. I check it regularly -- just can't miss a single post. The "graduate school" post is my favorite.

5. www.eyeslipsface.com

For the women, and for guys who have to buy women presents, this is "elf." It's the site where every woman can buy all the stuff they ooh and aah over at sephora but can't afford. Shipping is cheap, quality is pretty good, and the price is outstanding.

6. www.cookinglight.com

I make a menu every week of about 3 recipes from this website. Cookinglight has a button on each recipe's page that says "save to shopping list" where it automatically categorizes everything you need to make that recipe into a shopping list (that you can edit). As you add recipes, the shopping list's categories grow longer. When you're done, you print the list and the recipes are hyperlinked at the bottom for convenient printing, too. And since all of the recipes are rated and reviewed, it's been a long time since I've made something inedible.

6. http://home.ingdirect.com/products/products.asp?s=OrangeSavingsAccount

This is the home web site of the ING savings account. I'm the bookkeeper in our family, and it's hard to save money when you're in grad school, so I needed every cent to work harder for us than the %.4 Bancorp South's savings account. ING is an internet banking account that links directly to whatever bank you currently have, and the Orange savings account has no strings attached and earns you %3.00. No strings means no minimum deposit, no hidden monthly or yearly fees, etc. They're able to give you more interest because they have no overhead -- no building, no lights to keep on, etc. And you can automatically draft your savings from your checking, monthly, if you like to save on an automatic draft plan. I've had it for a couple of months now and it's wonderful, took maybe 2 minutes to set up. Oh, and they're FDIC insured for $100,000 (or more?). If they go belly-up like Coldwell Banker, they will still be able to give me my money back.

7. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/files/customize-your-workout/index.html

Andrew and I are into circuit training but it's so easy to get in a rut. This is a website from women's fitness that lets you build your own circuit training routine by dragging and dropping exercises into a fitness plan that you can then print and take with you to the gym. It's free free free. And there are so many different combinations, it's difficult to get bored.

8. www.oxfam.org

You've probably heard of oxfam, but if you haven't, this is an organization that lets you buy gifts for your loved ones that won't sit on their closet shelves. You can order school supplies for the needy in Africa, donate supplies to build a well in Ghana, or buy 30 trees to be planted in South America. OxFam sends the person receiving the gift a creative card saying that whatever deed you've selected has been given in their honor. A great idea for green people! And it "fits" everyone.

9. http://www.coolchaser.com/message/home

For myspace fanatics. They have the loveliest layouts here and they don't require any code pasting.

10. www.photobucket.com

Upload and share photo albums, slideshows, even, I think, videos with your friends and family. For all of my friends who have babies but their grandparents aren't too keen on signing up for myspace to see your pics.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Brinkley the Dog Makes it to YouTube

Our bad dog Brinkley makes his big break on youtube. (No worries--Mom was OK in this video)


Miscellaneity isn't technically a word but it captures what this blog will be. I've never had a real blog before, so who knows how long this will last? I have plans to keep you posted on the weird stuff that happens to me here in rural Mississippi -- and lots of weird things do happen here.