Superhero Resume

I posted a few weeks back about my ambition to become a superhero. Now that you all know the depth of my insanity I would like to plead my case a little more. Because I don’t think I am that crazy. I think I actually have quite a few of the necessary qualifications and a good deal of relevant experience. So I present to you my superhero resume:

Experience:

April 2012 rescued three damsels in distress in less than ten hours (by jumping their cars)

June 2012 saved my entire family from a fire

Lived a double life from Sept 2003 to June 2004

Numerous years of appearing in front of people in spandex

Special abilities/qualifications:

Superpower: hypermobile joints, ability to slide hips out of socket at will

Superpower: flight (though I usually require the assistance of a trapeze or piece of fabric)

Can walk on ropes (I’m not calling this a superpower, since it’s a learned ability)

Ability to make sorbet out of anything (oh you say this is a useless skill, but just wait and see)

Speak three languages, one of them dead

Can assume random accents at the drop of a hat (you know, for undercover, espionage type stuff)

Can lie like an expert (or maybe I’d make a better supervillain…)

Big hair: While it seems like long flowing hair, swirling around your face would be a hindrance in battle, most of my comic books indicate it is the preferred style of most super heroines

Unnatural hair color: Not as common as hair that’s just plain big, but still popular enough to be worth mentioning*

Boobs: they’re a somewhat recent acquisition, and maybe not as impressive as those of other bloggers on this site, but they are bigger than average and once again, my comic books have taught me they are a requirement

Junk in my trunk: clearly a requirement for striking a pose in a superheroine uniform

Survived four years at William & Mary (which I think ought to qualify as some sort of superhero endurance challenge)

*though I have contemplated whether going back to red hair might help me in my quest for superhero-dom. It seems that there are an inordinate number of red haired superheroines. Are the genes linked?

A Crafty Time Vampire

I damn near forgot to put together a post tonight because  I got sucked in to a reoccuring Time Vampire in my life:  browsing Etsy.

If you’ve been dwelling under a rock for the past, I dunno, half decade or so, or if you’re male (dude, if you’re a guy reading this, please contact us.  Right now we’re categorizing your kind with Unicorns and El Chupacabra), you may not be familiar with Etsy.  It’s a shopping set up for makers and crafters to market their wares.  If you are looking for something unique and NOT available at your local big-box store, this is generally a place to start.  From the useful, to the useless, the bizarre to the beautiful, Etsy has all kinds of shit.

Now, I have yet to actually purchase anything from Etsy.  I keep swearing I will.  I have a wish list (comprised primarily of geek jewelry, of all things), but I keep putting it off.  Sadly, my stinginess with my money does nothing to influence the amount of time I waste perusing the offerings.  Hours, frittered away.

And, Etsy has a unique shopping problem with its higher-than-average tendency to create a spin-off time suck in the form of “hey, I can do that!”  Good grief.  You spot one cute item, you think you might be able to muster the craftiness to make it yourself, and before you know it, it’s 2 a.m. and you’ve bookmarked just about everything from the Google(tm) search you did to figure out just how you were going to execute this excellent idea.  You wind up falling into a fitful sleep and going to work grumpy the next day.

I’ve tried to give it up, but once in a blue moon, I find myself back here, racking up a list of things I want.  And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go finish hemming and hawing over a bracelet engraved with a Firefly quote….

Kristy Watches Dallas: Part I

I have vague memories of the original Dallas, but they’re mostly limited to the opening credits (it was a tradition in my family to sing the theme song every time we drove into Dallas, just to annoy the menfolk in the family) and what I’ve seen in retrospectives. Imagine my delight at realizing my mother had the first and second season on DVD!

We start off with a nice hook. Bobby Ewing and Pamela Barnes have just gotten married (presumably an elopement) without telling their families. This becomes a nice way to weave in plenty of exposition. We learn quickly that the Barnes and the Ewings have a long standing family feud. We know that Jock Ewing is a big oil baron, and his wife Miss Ellie is from an old cattle family. Work in an old gunfighter and a dark eyed señorita somewhere and you’ve kind of got all your Texas essentials rolled up in one family.

Older brother JR has apparently been taking over the family oil business while Bobby’s been out doing the wheeling and dealing to cover their butts politically. There was a good-for-nothing middle brother in there somewhere, but he ran off, leaving behind a good-for-nothing daughter (more on this later). JR is a little resentful when Bobby announces now that he’s married he wants to settle down and move into the office with his big brother. And you kind of feel for him (even though JR is an underhanded snake); he’s worked hard for years to get where he is and his brother just walks in and wants to be in the same place. (In episode 2 we also learn that Bobby was a football star in his younger days. As the younger sister of a teen model I can imagine how much it must suck to be the older brother of a football star in Texas).

Bobby’s new wife Pamela is a nice girl. You can tell because she wears such demure dresses and has soft brown hair and a soft voice to match. We don’t know much about JR’s wife Sue Ellen other than from a few comments she makes to Pamela we can gather she’s a snob. Miss Ellie is sweet and loving like matriarchs often are in soap families where they have a patriarch to do the dirty work. She’s a good southern woman who is always nice to people’s faces, though you gather she’d have no problems doing a little smack talk behind someone’s back.

Then there’s Lucy. Jock and Ellie’s aforementioned good-for-nothing granddaughter. She’s our resident slut. You can tell because she wears lots of red. She’s also, perhaps not coincidentally the only blonde on the show. Lucy serves as a constant reminder that the show started in the 1970s and that the 70s were a dark, dark time for fashion. In her first scene she’s scrumping Ray Krebbs, foreman on the Ewing ranch. By the way, Ray used to date Pamela, and is more than a bit of a slimebag, but not a terribly smart one.

Lucy warns Pamela she’s not tough enough to survive the Ewing family. Pamela responds by showing Lucy how tough she is: she makes her start going to school, spoils her plans to get a teacher fired with a bogus attempted rape charge, and exposes her affair with Ray. Lucy does not enjoy any of this, but is moved by the realization that Pamela actually cares for her. Aw!

I’m not totally sure what I think about Pamela. Pamela’s such a good girl she wears a white turtleneck to a disco and puts her hair in a Gibson girl style bun. But she’s a little too street smart for a nice girl. And a little too comfortable using blackmail. I’m not complaining though. These are the things which will allow her to survive in this family. Speaking of survival skills—I have to admit that I love the way Lucy smirks every time a fight breaks out in the house.

In Episode 3 we learn that JR could have married his redheaded, deviously loyal secretary and that his marriage to Sue Ellen is not exactly happy. Their honeymoon is definitely over. We’re not real clear on why he married Sue Ellen at all, but my best guess is she had family connections and he liked the status of a former beauty queen for a wife. When Sue Ellen buys a lacy black nightie to wear for JR he dismissively declares it’s not her and instructs her to take it back. I’m starting to worry about JR—what kind of good Texas boy turns down sex for work? I can’t blame him for running out when she starts crying about them not making love anymore though. There’s no way to use “make love” in a sentence and not have it sound awkward.

I can blame him a little for leaving to go scrump his secretary (who is begging him the whole time to stop the bootie calls so she can move on.) He dismisses secretary’s urging to stay the night and leaves her with a $100 bill to buy herself something “real nice.” Oh… JR. That’s no way to treat a lady who knows all your dirty secrets. And has Cliff Barnes’s phone number.

So far… I’m enjoying it. I’m not exactly loving it. Like I know I should be rooting for Jim and Pam and their love to triumph over all. But really I’m just itching for more scandalous, soapy goodness. Maybe that’s what this type of show is really all about though. I’m diverted enough to keep watching.

How I Came to Drink More Jack Daniel’s and Find Pride in My Profession

If you spend any amount of time on the web, you have probably already heard about the best Cease & Desist Letter in the history of lawyers.  I could have blogged about this when it happened, but I was so delighted I went out and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels and that was kinda all she wrote.

Let’s start with a brief overview of the world of “cease and desist” (or C&D) letters.  These onerous little pieces of paper are a large part of why I went to law school in the first place–I generally hate them.  A letter from an attorney telling someone to “stop doing that, or we’ll sue!” is a tactic used in multiple areas of the law, but ever since the internet went from the playground of the nerds to being co opted by the business-man, it’s been (alleged) intellectual property infringement that’s generated most of these beauties.  When the average person gets one of these letters, the fear of legal bills brought on by the site of a page full of angry legal-ease is generally enough to get them to agree to just about anything demanded of them.

Many of these threatening letters are NOT legitimate.  They are merely thuggish intimidation meant to keep people from legitimate activities by introducing the threat of legal action, the cost of which can break most people, even when they are in the right.  The costs of this behavior by litigious clients and their attorneys is higher than you might think.  The “chilling effect” of a C&D on discourse, communication and the development of new ideas is incredible.  And the problem is great enough to have prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several law schools to set up Chilling Effects.org, which monitors the impact of things like C&D notices.  Their catalog of C&D letters people have received is astoundingly large.

So why am I so delighted by a C&D letter from the attorney for Jack Daniel’s to the author of a book?  Well, for one thing, it is most decidedly not a false claim.  The cover of this author’s book was modeled after the distinctive label for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.  Since that label is trademarked, the use of that distinct look and style on the cover of the book is more likely than not to hold up as infringement (nothing is ever 100% certain).  While I have mixed feelings about the way trademarks in general have been warped*, within the current legal environment, protection of a trademark is legitimate and important to many companies.

So that’s one plus.

But even more than it just being a legit request, is the way the attorneys for Jack Daniels approach this.  There is no high-handed threat in this letter.  It acknowledges and shows appreciation for the fact that the choice to emulate the Jack Daniel’s label is flattering.  By and large, the people receiving C&D letters are not pirates, thieves or crooks–they’re fans–and yet when you look at other C&D letters received by people in similar situations, the letters are written to intimidate and imply if not openly accuse the recipient of being crooks of the lowest order.  Mad points to Jack Daniel’s for NOT taking that accusatory route and actually acknowledging a fan as a fan.

Wait, wait!  There’s more!  Not only did the Jack Daniel’s letter acknowledge a fan politely, they made a very reasonable request (rather than a demand).  They asked not that the book’s cover art be immediately changed, but that the author and publisher change the art when the book is re-printed later.  Ha!  Completely reasonable.

And, to add just a little more awesome to this thing, Jack Daniel’s offered up money to defray the costs if the author was willing to make that cover art change immediately.  Jigga what?  I can’t even tell you just how incredibly impressive that move is.  I just don’t have the right words.  Sure, not everyone could afford to help pay so that someone doesn’t infringe their mark, and no company wants to make a habit of paying off infringers–but in this case it was an appropriate move and shows that these attorneys (and their corporate client) put thought into the situation and made an appropriate decision.

While the author and publisher did not accept the money to change the initial cover art, they made immediate changes to the print-on-demand versions and will be changing in the second printing as requested.  Clearly, they have retained the appreciation of the infringing party, rather than alienating them as a customer.  And, in the case of myself and others, Jack Daniel’s gained customers.  While I do enjoy whiskey, I had no preference or brand loyalty driving my choices and did not purchase it frequently.  The day this popped up on twitter, I was so impressed, I stopped on my way home from work and bought a bottle of Jack.  I’m not saying it is the only whiskey I’ll ever buy, but good, bad or indifferent, I am now more willing to purchase from them knowing, at the very least, that my money will go to a company that uses humanity and sense in their intellectual property dealings.

Now, contrast all that, with, oh, this letter at Chilling Effects sent to a fan-site from Paramount.  As an attorney, I am sad to say that there are far, far more letters like this one, than like the Jack Daniel’s letter.  And while I know lawyers work at the pleasure of our clients, we are called counsel for a reason.  Advising our clients that there are reasonable and polite options that still protect property and intellectual property is something we can and should do.  It may not always work, but this letter proves that it can.

 

*The original purpose of a trademark was not for the benefit of the owner, but for consumer protection.  The idea was that trademarks should allow consumers to feel confident about the source of the product/service they were paying for.  Along the way, however, the emphasis on trademark has become focused on the protection of the owner of the mark and the investment they’ve made in it.    Honestly, at the end of the day, how many people were going to be misled into buying that novel because it had a cover that looked a lot like a Jack Daniel’s bottle?  And how many would actually be dumb enough to think that a maker of whiskey is involved in writing novels?  It’s not really protecting a consumer, so it’s perverted the intent of trademarks, in my opinion.

Coffee and Bandits!

Would we drink coffee with Eric Hobsbawm?

Kristy: When I heard about Eric Hobsbawm’s death a short time ago I had one of those weird, “Oh I didn’t realize he was still alive… but now he’s not…” moments. We had just spent a good amount of quality time together as both The Invention of Tradition and Bandits were on my reading list for my qualifying exams. And it’s because of those that I’m going to have to say yes. Bandits is one of the most delightful pieces of scholarship I’ve encountered–it has a fun subject matter, it’s written in an easy to comprehend manner, and it’s short. It was only in reading his various obituaries that I learned about his political leanings. And yeah, they were a little… extreme. But I think it’s also very easy for people in my generation to dismiss communism; we grew up able to see that it would never work on a large scale. Not because of the propaganda our government put out, but because we literally got to see it fail. But if I hadn’t seen that… I mean, it’s a nice idea. Not a nice enough one to justify Stalin’s actions, and not a practical or realistic one, but in a theoretical sense… nice. So anyway, I’m really hoping I can get him caught up discussing invented traditions and folklorization of history and we can just avoid that political whatever. Honestly, I’d like to know his opinions on how scholarship should be written. Why don’t more scholars write accessible works and should they? I have to wonder if his political leanings have anything to do with his proletarian style. It might be interesting to see. (By the way, are there British intellectuals who aren’t Marxists and aren’t Christopher Hitchens? I feel there must be, but everyone I encounter is fairly severely Marxist. Maybe Eric can tell me.) I’m curious to see where he stands on disciplinary divides given that he often worked kind of on the edge of his discipline. And I’d like to know, even though this might get the political rants going, if he has any regrets about being so vocal on his views. Several of his obituaries stated that his brilliance as a scholar was overlooked because of his political reputation. I’m not sure that will be true for his long term reputation, but if it is, is he okay with that? Was it all worth it?

Cammy: I’m gonna pass.  I know next to nothing about his scholarship, which means I’m gonna have a damn hard time participating in any kind of meaningful conversation, and I’ve a nasty feeling that despite all of Kristy’s best efforts, there will be political ranting.  Since there is about 0% chance he and I are going to be in agreement on anything in that arena, and while I’m sure a debate on political theories with this guy would be WAY more valuable and well-informed than with most people, I’m SO OVER political ranting right now.  So, I’m gonna go hang out at the bar and let Kristy handle this one.

Back-road warrior

I missed Friday.  I know.  In my defense I was on the road again.  I had grand plans to get a post sent from my phone and, well…yeah.  No.

My travels took me up to Iowa for a visit with the parents of on of our gentle readers.  As always, visiting with them was a blast and, despite the fiendishly-October weather (grey, wet, pea-soupy) I got to see something of Iowa (other than I-35).  It’s not as boring as some people might claim, but then I’m a girl who appreciates small towns and plains (note: Kristy, I did identify a fair number of wooded areas for you to hide in).

My trip up was heavy with free-way driving.  For reasons dealing with cell reception and teleconferences, I had to stay where I knew I would have signal at least through the 11am hour.  This derailed my plans of taking smaller highways and back-roads up through northern Missouri (I’ve driven that area more than once and cell coverage is less than spotty).

But today I had no pressing phone calls to be concerned about so, I avoided the freeway my entire drive.

And it was fantastic.

As much as I appreciate that the US Interstate system is reliable and saves time, I really love getting off the damned things.  The scenery is better, for one.  And not having an ass-load of trucks driving well over the speed limit and honking up on my tail pipe was beyond worth it.  In fact, the roads were so empty in some places that I could drive completely as I pleased–which included slowing down if I bloody well felt like it. And I felt like it quite often because despite this summer’s painful drought, Mother Nature is still managing some nice fall color these days and there was plenty of wild-life out (crap-tons of turkeys out today).

I’ve done plenty of this kind of driving before.  Over the summer, I did most of my driving in Texas, down to Houston and over to my grandparents on these kinds of roads.  But it strikes me that, other than very local-travel, most people don’t see the country this way much.  Understandably, it’s mostly an issue of time.  Between flying and interstate driving, these state and U.S. highways just don’t get the kinds of road-trip traffic they did once upon a time.  Kind of a shame, really.  How else do you see turkeys in Iowa, or pass by the Calamity Jane roadside park, or find out about the Kolache festival in Prague, OK, or stumble on the Watermelon Thump in Luling, TX, or dodge 4 deer the size of cattle in Northern Missouri?

 

Defending Aly

I promise this is my last Olympics related gymnastics post. I do realize we’re two months past the event and that, for the most part, our readers don’t care anyway. But there’s one more thing I have to get off my chest.

In a lot of ways, my favorite gymnast to come out of the most recent Olympics was Aly Raisman. This is strange enough I felt the need to write a blog post explaining why.

First of all, you might be wondering why it’s strange. Well, generally gymnasts I really like fall into three categories: The uber graceful: Your Svetlana Boguinskayas, your Nastia Liukins, your Anna Pavlovas; the uber charismatics: your Dominique Dawes, or your Mo Huilans; the diva-licious: your Svetlana Khorkinas, your Aliya Mustafinas.

Aly fits into exactly none of these groups.

So why do I like her so much?

I think the first thing is sentimental. She’s been the “solid” one of the team almost since the beginning of the quad, but she’s never been the star. The one only expected to win if everyone else messed up. You kind of have to want her to finally get a moment in the spotlight.

I also appreciate that I don’t think she’s ever had any delusions about who she is. She knows her uneven bars are wretched and she knows she doesn’t have good toe point. She’s never tried to hide or excuse or deflect any of that in interviews. And this leads me to my next point…

She never stops working. It would have been very easy for her to drop uneven bars and focus on the other three events. But she’s never stopped working on that wretched bar routine and it has gotten marginally better. So she was there with a routine ready to go when the team needed her. And her form has gotten better gradually. And amidst all of that she’s also managed to upgrade her floor routine. You have to respect that kind of ethic.

And I think, just to be ornery, I like her because the gymnternet doesn’t. Call me a sentimental sucker, but there’s only so long I can watch a bunch of catty people online made fun of an eighteen year-old before I have to root for her just to piss them off.

And, in the same vein, I like her because NBC doesn’t. You could smell it; from the very beginning of their coverage leading up to the Olympics, they had written her out already. Jordyn Wieber was the reigning world champion. Gabrielle Douglas was the rising star overcoming all sorts of disadvantages with the chance to make history. McKayla Maroney had that vault. I mean seriously, have you seen it? (to be clear, I’m not blaming any of these ladies for NBC’s doucheyness) And I love that in doing better than expected Aly threw their pre-scripted storyline to hell. It was sad for her that they made her success in the prelims all about Jordyn’s lack of success, but I still liked to see them scrambling.

I like that she stays as focused as she does on the success of her whole team. I like her because when ASac went down last year at world’s she jumped right in and took over as leader and inspirational speech giver. And must have done it well since they won while missing a team member.

And finally, I like her because, while she tends to be the overly measured, platitude spouting type of gymnast that USA Gymanstics grooms them all to be, she has some adorable little genuine moments. My favorite of all of these might be her quiet exclamation of “Yes!” when she saw her floor score during event finals. Yes, I’m sure she really did just want to represent her country and go 4 for 4, but she also wanted to nail the fuck out of that floor routine, and it was nice to see her do exactly that.

Catching up with a Time Vampire

As you all sort of know I took my PhD qualifying exams a few weeks back. It was a weeklong torture ritual, but thankfully it’s over now. Well… sort of.

One of the great things about my department is that they arrange for the rest of your life to stop for a week so that you can concentrate on your exams. The bad thing is that nothing actually stops. I work three jobs, two that I actually get paid for. I took the week off from all of them. And it was great.

Except… all the things I needed to do that week in those jobs, still needed to be done. Which meant that when I got back, I had two weeks of work in three jobs to catch up on. And… well you can’t do that in one week. So here I am, weeks later, still trying to catch up. Because I do just about as much work as a person can do in a week on a normal basis. The problem with that is it leaves no time at all for doing work from previous weeks.

So what little time I have is still being sucked away by a time vampire that should have been dead weeks ago.

Musikalischer Mittwoch Has “Cows Around”

My family is full of cow people.  It’s a lot easier for me to count the number of people on Dad’s side who were not dairy farmers than it is to try and tally up how many of us were Holstein-hoarders.  While the rise of consolidated farm corporations forced the last of the family to give up the dairy business in about 2009…there are still plenty of cows around.  It’s like a disease.   Cows aren’t easy to have around.  They require more work and money than you’d think.  But, even though the family has all sought work off the farms and the milking barns are closed up, they don’t know how to give up having at least a few of those mooing, bellowing, chud-chewers around.  Even I still cling to the small dream of having my own place with room for a cow, despite the realities and facts I know about the damn things.

So when I was giving my first listen to Corb Lund’s new album, Cabin Fever, and “Cows Around” came on, I found myself clutching the steering wheel trying not to laugh myself right off the road (I was driving to visit Kristy at the time).

Every Corb Lund album gives me at least one dance-able western-swing style song (like “Little Foothills Heaven” on Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer), and usually at least one song full of humor (like “Family Reunion” from Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!).  This time, the two collided in one fabulous ear-worm.  The musical style and tune are very jaunty–it’s an instant toe-tapper.  It would be great for a really fast turn around the dance floor (think of the speed and style of something like Vince Gill/Reba McEntire’s “Oklahoma Swing”).  And then the lyrics, oh my.  If you don’t have first hand knowledge of the cow-ownership malady I described above, the song will sum up the situation concisely:  “Let me bestow this western blessing / Share what I have found / May you always have cows around / What else you gonna spend that extra money on? / What else is gonna get you up, hours before dawn?….”  On the surface, it’s funny because it’s the juxtaposition is ridiculous.  And for those of us who’ve encountered this, it’s hilarious for its accuracy.

And, if the cultural education provided by this depiction of the bizarre love-hate relationship cattle owners have with maintaining a herd, then you may at least appreciate the chance at 2:34 into the song to get a nicely rhymed listing of various breeds of cattle (both beef and dairy).

 

Kids these Days…

Yesterday I got an email from my nephew. My eight year-old nephew. Sent from his iPod.

Sorry, I don’t know about you, but I need a second with that…

My nephew’s eight. He has an iPod. And he knows how to send email from it.

Holy crap.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m not saying it’s a good thing, I’m just saying it’s a thing. And my sister is a responsible mother and he informed me in his first email she would be monitoring what he did online. And I’m sure she is. It’s just…

Damn times have changed.

I got my first email address when I started undergrad. Before that my entire family shared one email address. Can you imagine that? A time when a family of five all used one email address? And it was okay, because I only had two occasions to receive email before that point—the first from a friend who had moved cross country, the second from my boss.

Getting email when you start college seems a reasonable idea; your life changes drastically and it’s sort of a rite of passage. Or at least it was for me. Because I don’t think email represents the same thing to them as it does/did to me. For me, it was a way to prove I was really all grown up now. For kids these days email is a integral part of life.

Yeah… times, they are a-changing.