Coffee….or Carménère

Would we have Coffee With….Chilean President Michelle Bachelet?

Cammy:  Sure.  I mean, every-friggin’-where but here, gals are getting the top political job.  It’s almost getting to be old-hat.  Almost.  But even if we’d crossed into old hat territory, I think it would still be worth it to have coffee with Bachelet.  For one, thing, mad respect to a woman who has a medical degree and success in politics.  That pedigree puts her into that category with Angela Merkel (physicist) and Margaret “The Lady” Thatcher (chemical engineer) (could that be why we haven’t had a female president yet?  Should we be tapping the science department instead of the law department or wherever the fuck we’re getting the female set in US politics?  Me?  I’m hoping for a Computer Science Gal.  Preferably NOT me).  And then, well, she was tortured and exiled.  Even though she tends to play her torture down somewhat (generally pointing out that others suffered far more), doesn’t change the fact that she was tortured.  That puts her into a very unfortunate, and limited circle of world leaders, and I don’t think there are a lot of other girls in the club with her.  There is no way that cannot result in some serious insight and unique viewpoint on things.  Not saying I’m likely to agree with her politically, but I don’t agree with a lot of people politically, so it’s not like that’s a coffee-killer.  And if we can pull together a special bonus round, I want coffee with Bachelet AND Merkel.


Kristy: Definitely. As Cammy said, she’s got to have a fascinating life story, and I would love to hear her tell it. I would like to hear also what she thinks we’re doing wrong up here in los Estados (or what they’re doing right down south) that has enabled women to have more success seeking executive office. Besides her lack of a Y chromosome she has a couple of other factors that would make it harder for her to get elected in the US: she’s an open agnostic and she’s separated (for those not in the know, divorce was only legalized in Chile about ten years ago, so most people just stop living with their spouses when things go bad). I’d like her take on whether that’s a sign Chileans are just less uptight, or were those things she had to overcome. I’d also like to chat about relations between Latin American nations; she’s had some issues with Peru, Bolivia, and Cuba, does she have any thoughts on those? (other than simply telling Peru their maps are wrong)

Cammy:  And seeing as both Kristy and I are fans of a good Chilean Carmenere, I think we opt for wine over coffee here….

Headline Heckling

These days, any news I get, I get from pulling up the Google News page and skimming the headlines.   I hate a news day when the same crap stays in the top stories and I’m left knowing something more critical has to be going on in the world, but Google didn’t bring it forward and I can’t spare time to dig deeper.

I’m left to mock what’s there:

“Obama announces proposal to reform NSA surveillance” 

Every time I see a headline about someone in politics “reforming” anything, I recall the Molly Ivins piece about the drill team from Kilgore, Texas hanging their asses over the gallery railing, each with a letter on her bloomers to spell out REFORM.  It sets a certain standard for that particular word that prevents me from taking it seriously.

“Oprah faced not just fashion retail racism, but size bias too”

I can’t believe that the adventures of Oprah and the Snotty Swiss Handbag Store remained on Google News all day (plus I had to hear it in German when I put on SWR to drown out the sound of the air conditioner cutting on–thing sounds like a shuttle lift off, I swear).  Racism sucks.  Bias sucks.  But at the end of the damned day, let’s be real here, I once had the door to the Tiffany’s in North Park Mall shut because I was hanging around outside cooing over the turtles in the fountain (how do I know it was me?  Because no one else was in the area, it wasn’t closing time and the guard gave me a dirty look as he shut the door), I’m betting this Swiss joint wouldn’t have let my ass within 20 feet of the door, white, black or dyed Smurf blue.  Also, $40k for a fucking purse?

“Amanda Bynes’ hospital stay extended, conservatorship granted”

I thought we were done hearing about this after last week.  Guess I was wrong.  I remember some of the kids I baby-sat in high school watching Amanda Bynes’s show (the stand alone and when she was on All That).  I thought she was bat-shit crazy then–all she did was yell, flail and act like a raving lunatic.  I’m going to assume that was a clue right there.  If her folks missed it then, I can only hope they have better luck this go-round.

“U.S. to reopen 18 of the 19 embassies, consulates closed because of terror threats” 

Okay, so this one changed since my check of the news earlier today at work.  I have a theory about this.  It involves the embassy closures, lavabit, Snowden, Jimmy Hoffa, the Lindbergh Baby, AMC’s cancellation of Remember WENN and a jello salad…but these things are best not discussed on the web (everyone, wave and smile to your not-yet-reformed NSA Analyst)

“Spain, U.K. Spar Over Colonial Post”

Oh, please.  They are sparring over a rock.  A large one, but still, a rock.  And can you even call that sparring?  Not really.  Sparring should be more interesting at the very least.  I say we have each of them send a rep to Switzerland.  The reps will be seated across from one another at a cafe table, with hot chocolate in hand.  They will trade insults until the first person finishes his or her chocolate.  Belgium will be the referee regarding the best quantity and quality of insults.  The loser then has to enter the discriminatory handbag shop to be berated by a Swiss shop-owner.  Gibraltar will declare complete independence.

Two Things I’m Not Posting About, and One That I Am

What I won’t post about?

1) Stupid drivers.  Because every single one of them apparently decided to get out on the road today.  A left hand turn from the right hand lane?  REALLY?  And just because of the volume of snow?  Doesn’t mean you get a license to drive down the middle of the street when there’s on-coming traffic, asshat.  And if you’re going to tail-gate, at least don’t do it on the cell phone (and when that cop stops you, don’t look so shocked about it).

2) Sequestration.  Because it’s been a term I’ve had to deal with for over a year due to the nature of my bill-paying job, because too many people have presumed to know what I think about it, and because all of a sudden today everyone from the ladies in line at the cutting table at the fabric store, to talking heads on the news, to the politicians from the two major parties, to an inordinate percentage of my normally party-politics-quiet twitter feed is pointing mother-fuckin’ political fingers!  If you think either major political party holds the blame for this, I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona I’ll sell you for a song.

 

What I will post about?

Snow.

This is the primary reason for my having missed so many posts.  We kinda got smacked.  Twice.  In two weeks.  And it was snowing again today (thankfully without any real accumulation).  It’s not that I live in an area that’s a stranger to snow, it’s just that we’re more used to it being parceled out in 2-3 inch increments, rather than a foot in a single go.

So, there’s been a lot of the death-defying commutes through white-outs, the lost time at work, power outages and the annoyance of dealing with the aftermath of a snow-plow when you just spent 2 hours clearing your drive….

And then there’s the good side:  the crazy, fun stuff people do with a shit ton of snow.  I haven’t seen a snowstorm yield this much activity out of people in a long time.  Maybe it’s the lack of snow last year and for most of this winter that drove people out to do something with the white stuff when we finally got it.

Up the street someone constructed a snow-castle that, before it began to subside was basically a story and a half high on it’s highest side (it was built on a slope), and big enough to park a car in it.  Seriously, it was amazing.  Even the igloo someone built on Barksdale field while I was at W&M was nothing compared to this perfectly constructed castle tower.  They even put up a tarp roof on the thing.  All I can think is that I must have missed one hell of an interesting snowball siege earlier in the week if that kind of fortification was developed.

I saw a brief bit of a battle (probably un-related to the castle, though I think some of the kids involved may have come from that end of the street–it’s not easy to tell when they’re all bundled up like Randy from A Christmas Story) out on the streets during the previous storm. Snow still falling, the street nearly full of snow after the plow had made its one pitiful pass hours before, there was a gaggle of kids advancing on a group hunkered behind the growing mounds of snow surrounding a going-nowhere Mustang in a drive way.  The advancing group thought they had the numbers, but they didn’t see what I did–that the kids by the Mustang had two teenaged older brothers lurking around the corner of the house behind what I first thought to be another mound of snow, but which turned out to be an arsenal of snowballs.  The battle was short, but heated (cooled?).

Someone across town sculpted bears in the yard.  And I don’t mean added bear-like features to snow-men, I mean actually carved out two bears about 7-8 feet high (they’re up on their hind legs, with fore-paws out in front of them), with sculpted fur and realistic features.  Menacing, but damned impressive.  Another house across town had formed some sort of large flower, which wasn’t all that cool, unless you drove past a night, when they had the thing lit from the inside.

Then there are the kids with the videos.  I’ve seen some pretty impressive footage from 10-year-olds mounting cameras on their helmets before saucer-sledding it down an area hillside. The coolest was when the camera-kid wiped out and was looking back up the hill in time to catch his little buddy–coming down right behind him–make the jump and sail right over the camera.  I’m sensing future camera operators for action films coming out of this.  Or, y’know, in some cases it’s more like Jack-Ass, The Next Generation.

We can get big snows into mid-March around here, but it’s likely this last blast will be it for the snow-ball and sled set.  I may not have enjoyed dealing with the snow from my own perspective of having to deal with it in getting out to go to work, but I can’t complain about what I’ve gotten to see other people do with it.

 

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.

The Blog Is U.S. Politics-Free!

It’s that time again.  Time for the wonders of our US political process to churn under the power of the people.  I would like to say that I take great delight in our elections, but for the past several presidential elections, the process I have such appreciation for as become buried under so much rhetoric, bitterness, and polarization-without-actual-thought that I kinda hate it.

Last presidential election, I jettisoned multiple people I’d followed on Twitter, stopped reading certain LiveJournals and abandoned most of my google reader.  Some, I’ve never gone back to.  Especially the celebrity types.  Really, I can’t think of any celebrity I ever gave a shit about his/her political view (even the ones where they share my views).  If I’m following a writer, its because I want to hear about her writing.  If I’m following a comedian or an actor, it’s generally because he’s just f’in funny.  If it’s a musician, I want tour info and album news…..If I want angry ranting, well, I’ve got my bathroom mirror, thanks.  I don’t need it from people I’m looking to for entertainment.  Unfortunately, an awful lot of people I like for other reasons just got downright ugly, spouting off political vitriol that had no more rational and informed a basis than than you’d find with the average American (and when I saw average, you should be pondering Bubba down the street, Sally Kay in the junior league and Tiffany, your vapid barista here).  Hey, they’re entitled to use their soap box…I’m just entitled to roll my eyes and un-follow that Twitter feed.

And it’s not just the celebrities.  Members of my family–even those who vote the way I do–were put on restriction with me.  And it’s happening again.  Baseless political forwards.  Rants based on rumor and stereotype instead of, oh, I dunno…facts?  Reason?  An elementary level understanding of the U.S. Constitution?

So, to provide a place of rest and reprieve, even though it rarely comes up here anyhow, we are declaring this blog officially US POLITICS FREE from now until  after inauguration.  Note we said U.S. Politics.  If you wanna talk about ANYONE else’s politics, we’re down with that.  Will Angela Merkel hang onto her spot, or be ousted by that former finance minister?  What does it mean for Mexico now that PRI is back in power (it means they have a President who’s hot, that’s what!).  Any predictions on elections in Venezuela?  Will Julia Gillard continue to hang in there in Australia, or could she still be subject to being removed by her own party through the same kinda back room dealing that put her into that office?

Whole globe full of political parties and elections, all of which are fair game for discussion.  There’s enough shitty coverage of US elections, so leave that over on facebook, kids.

Crawling Out of a Cave

So, I had one of “those” weeks in my meat-space, bill-pay job last week.  And apparently it took more out of me than I thought because on my to-do list for the weekend I marked off….well, nothing completely.  I slept an inordinate amount of time.  Like, ran-out-of-battery-and-collapsed-for-6-hours-in-the-middle-of-the day.

So, with a week that was packed and a weekend where I struggled to remain conscious, I’m stuck here on Sunday night, feeling like I’ve just crawled out of a cave after a few years of isolation.  I haven’t seen or read news in over a week.  I have no idea what’s going on in the world, other than I do know from the calendar that Monday is First Monday….but I have no idea what’s actually on the Supreme Court docket for the first argument, so….

Not willing to go into this coming work week with this level of ignorance, I’m trying to pay catch up.  Hmmm, bullshit political news?  We can skip that drivel since it’s cheap, useless and does nothing more than give a lot of un-talented half-ass writers delusions that they are real journalists.  Local news?  Sadly, not as entertaining as it can be at times.  New plans for the bus routes in the city.  Since there’s like, one bus from the transit authority that comes out here to my neck of the woods, well, forget that.  What else?  Now the Afghan Army and the US troops are shooting at each other.  I can’t honestly say I never saw that one coming, and if you didn’t, can I just tell you about a lovely piece of ocean-front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you at a super-low-low price?  Next up, entertainment news?  Oh, look, Lindsay Lohan looking more like a train-wreck than ever.  It’s a complete waste that girl can’t get her shit together, but  not really news.  Let’s see, some new gadget released that I don’t give a shit about…World economy, blah blah…

Y’know what?

I didn’t miss a damn thing.

EXCEPT WHO THE FUCK IS LETTING TAYLOR SWIFT PLAY JONI MITCHELL?

Seriously?  I mean, I’m not going to claim I’m a huge Joni Mitchell fan–I like her stuff, and own a few albums, but I’m not die-hard or anything–but even I know that’s just a travesty.  As Kristy once said, “Who told that poor child she could sing?”  Now, I honestly can’t comment on the girl’s acting, but I’m not holding out much hope that it’s going to be any stronger than her vocal talent.

Yeah, I’m definitely crawling back into that cave now.

Five Discarded Blog Posts

I have nothing I want to write about tonight.  Not a thing.  It was a pretty long day at the bill-paying job and I mostly want my acetaminophen-pm and my pillow.  But, since it’s my turn to post (and I’m all kind of resolved to be better about that this year)….here are things that I considered and discarded:

1) The Job.  One day, when I have other means of income, I will write a fabulous tell-all about my way not glamorous job.  It will be a fantastic mix of tragedy and comedy.  I will be hailed a genius, and the world will be changed.  Until then, I like paying the bills.

2) Politics.  Not touching that with a 10-foot f-ing pole.  To quote Josh from The West Wing, “I’m so sick of Congress I could vomit.”  If I hear about one more damn Republican Primary….

3) The Idiot Who Nearly Ran Me Into a Ditch This Morning.  He made my day start out sucky and since he didn’t actually manage to run me off the road and to an early grave, you’re stuck reading this sub-standard post.

4) The Weather. I’m not talking about it because ours has been fantastic and I don’t wanna jinx it by saying more than that (having written this much, we’ll get 6 inches of snow and -15 temps tomorrow)

5) The Cat.  She’s being bitchy and a little attention-whore, and paying her the slightest mind will only make it worse.

And on that note, my little painkillers-o-wonder are standing by to cure the pounding in my head and whisk me off to the land of Nod on 25mg of Diphenhydramine.

CENSORED

In case you haven’t been tuned into, oh, I dunno, the whole internet:

American Censorship Day.

Given that the Congress-folk involved in the hearing this morning all but thought DNS was a Nintendo thing their grandkids use, now would be a good time to contact the brain doner for your part of the country and tell them that the “Stop Online Piracy Act” is a bad, bad, bad idea.  Seriously, this is a hideous abuse of copyright, a misuse of government resources to act as a thug squad to protect outdated business models, and a big honkin’ Pandora’s box of oppression waiting to happen.

Oh, and it TOTALLY MAKES THE FIRST AMENDMENT ARGUMENT IN ELDRED V. ASHCROFT RELEVANT (YO!  SCOTUS!  YOU TAKIN’ NOTES?!?!)

 

Note:  Normally The Management here at MTV, MPB tries to check the politics at the door to the Spacial Anomaly Coffee Bar and Refueling station, but in this case, Cammy was not to be deterred.  Kristy may or may not agree with this post’s suggestion that you call your Senators and Representatives to tell them to shove this Bill where the sun doesn’t shine.

Coffee with Molly Ivins

Would we drink coffee with Molly Ivins?

Kristy:  Um… I feel like I should have a cute, colloquial way of saying “Hell yeah” but Cammy’s the one who’s good at that.  So I’ll just say Hell yeah.  I have to give Cammy the credit of introducing me to Molly, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.  For one thing, it’s another case of owing her a cup of something (coffee or something stronger if she prefers) for the hours of amusement she’s given me.  Not to mention a couple of readings I assigned to my composition classes.  Also, there’s a lot I’d like to talk with her about and commiserate on.  Being the liberal daughter of a Texas conservative, every time Molly talks about her father it sounds… very familiar.  But what I’ve always loved about Molly went way beyond political orientation–it was a lot more about her willingness to critique everyone and her ability to point out the humor in everything.  So you can’t tell me it wouldn’t be delightful to people watch with her.

Cammy:  By cute colloquialism, I’m assuming Kristy means something along the lines of “Does a wild bear shit in the woods?”  So to this, I’ll say,”Did Han shoot first?”  YES.   Even though I’m most definitely not a liberal, I still love Molly.  She would lampoon anyone on either side of the aisle with sharp insight and the kind of humor that would literally leave my sides aching–and I love equal opportunity mockery.  Granted, she didn’t have to work hard, at least not when she was covering her native Texas politics.  The utter madhouse of the Lone Star State was (and still is) comedy gold.  She bucked trends, pissed some people off (a lot of people) and even when I totally disagreed with her politics, I had to give her credit for her style.  She painted some of the most accurate pictures of Texas I’ve ever read, and shared them with the world*.  For all that, I owe her several rounds of the beverages of her choice.  I’d love to hear her tell stories–because Lord knows she has them–of the insanity of Austin with the Lege in session that didn’t quite make the article/book cut.   And how pissed is she that she’s not around to address the wonder of Governor Good-Hair trying to go national on us?  I want to know if she truly has the same kind of misguided, twisted pride that our state gave the world people as nutty as H. Ross Perot.  I also want to talk about our mutual love of Texas.  As she once said, “ I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”  I’m always ready to talk about how we can love a state that manages to thrive in a state of total fucked-up insanity, especially with someone, who like me, left the state, got educated on the East Coast….and still managed to love that misfit of a state.

Kristy:  For the record “Does a wild bear shit in the woods?” and “Did Han shoot first?” are what we folklory types call “sarcastic interrogatives.” Totally counts as a cut colloquialism.

*See this article in The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/texas-america

Coffee With…. Angela Merkel

Cammy: Yes!  While I know I should probably hesitate more about this, I can’t help it.  I would completely risk looking like a moron to sit down and have a cup of coffee with the “Iron Mädchen.”  Just as long as I had easy access to a German-English dictionary and time to brush up on my verb conjugations because the last thing in the world I’d want to do is go in and “Du-tz” the Chancellor of Germany (familiar rather than formal “you”).

I’ve got a boatload of topics I want to cover with this woman, starting with the quote I’ve heard attributed to her that “Anyone with something to say needs no makeup” (“Jeder, der wirklich etwas zu sagen hat, braucht kein Make-up”).  There’s a lot of clues to this woman’s personality wrapped up in that one, especially knowing how vastly she had to be “transformed” style-wise before winning her spot as Chancellor.  And the transition from physicist to politician–there’s got to be a goldmine of interesting talk to be had there.  I’ve got my theories about women in political power with science backgrounds, and a conversation with Merkel would go a long way toward testing those theories.  And, of course, I couldn’t talk with this woman without going into the East German thing.  Not just the recent little amusing story about how she was at the sauna when the wall came down, but about the impressive fact that she’s an East German in the top job in a unified German.  Symbolic, if nothing else.

I’m anticipating that the woman has at least a little bit of a sense of humor (anyone making a crack about the German sense of humor is invited to attend one of my family reunions for a counter-argument), which, hopefully, would keep her from getting pissed at me firing off questions like a fan-girl at at Con Q & A.  Hmmmm, maybe this should be over a beer instead of coffee….

Kristy: Um… probably not.  To be clear, this is not about not wanting to have coffee with Chancellor Merkel.  I’m just fairly certain she wouldn’t want to have coffee with me.  There’s that whole thing about the make-up.  Personally, I’m a huge fan of make-up (what?  I have fair skin and had horrible acne as a teen, I’m covered with acne stains and no one wants to see them).  I know some feminists will roll their eyes and tell me I’m just allowing myself to be exploited and I’m trying to fit myself to the expectations of men and yadda yadda.  But I disagree.  I don’t wear make-up for men–they don’t notice it.  I’ve had conversations with my male friends about how they don’t like women with lots of make-up; inevitably they praise me for not wearing much, oblivious to the fact I’m speaking from underneath a pound of concealer and powder.  I wear make-up for myself.  Partially because the powder absorbs the grease my skin produces and keeps it from clogging my pores, but mostly because I feel better about myself with it on.  And when I feel better, I’m more confident, more likely to speak my mind, more likely to get things done.  But somehow I think the “Iron Maedchen” might just see me as superficial and vain.  Also, I’ll be totally lost when she and Cammy start talking about science and physics.  And I don’t know a word of German.  So I will eagerly take notes about everything she says when Cammy comes back with a full report, but I don’t think I’ll be attending that little coffee klatch.

Cammy: I think there’s more to  the cultural aspect of the make-up thing here.  It’s not just about the make-up itself–it’s how it ties to her being an East German.  As I understand it, cosmetics were an incredible luxury item before Communism collapsed.  An Epic!Win hostess gift when visiting the East was some CoverGirl eyeshadow.  It’s one of those things that set “Ossis” apart from the West.  There was, and still remains a view of those from the East as being backward in comparison to the West (at least in Germany).  So, needing make-up for confidence was as much a luxury as the make-up itself, especially immediately after unification when the East Germans definitely had something to say.  Merkel’s line is more of a defense against those in the West who were too busy laughing at their dowdy Eastern neighbors.  I’ll grant you that I like that quote because I’m the lazy girl who doesn’t like to put on make up and would love to level the cultural playing field enough to remove the pressure for me to put it on, but the reality of the quote is something different altogether and it probably doesn’t do either of us much credit to reduce it to mere physical appearance.

All that said, I’ll give you an out on this one, Kristy, though part of me would really like to drag you in.  I have a feeling you’d find a way to hit it off with the Iron Mädchen better than I would.  If nothing else, you two could sit around and practice your Russian together and leave me out.  And don’t forget, no matter how you interpret the make-up comment, they DID hire a stylist for the woman to get her into office, and last election she was workin’ the cleavage, so…..