Thursday, May 27, 2010

In defense of kittens.


Above you will see me and my dear friend Erika holding kittens. You may wonder, where did we get the courage? We are not, as you may expect, exceptionally brave women. No. It is just that these tiny cats are just too cute.

I came to cuddle them after my boyfriend found some abandoned six-week-old kittens last week. Having been fed years of fear-mongering media stories of kittens - you know, how they eat faces, poop on televisions, and generally ruin lives - I was understandably against the idea of bringing kittens into our well-ordered, immacuately appointed home.

But my partner was moved by their notoriously seductive mews, so often compared to the sirens of Homer. And against my will, we moved them into our basement.

Here comes the twist in my story, reader. Because I was also taken in by these creatures. Kittens are, in fact, totally cute.

I know, I know, this is a rather startling argument. Subversive. Radical, even. But trust me. I have evidence.
If you will look at the the kittens in the above photo, you will see that they fit in a man's hand. This is an illustration of how small these kittens are (contrary to prevalent stereotypes about their terrifying hugeness). Small beings are often read as cute. These are very small, and thus cute, mammals.



Above, you can see that these beings have a lot of hair. Though most believe that kittens have leatherlike skin, in fact these baby cats have plenty of fuzzy fur that is soft and nice for nuzzling. Though the word nuzzling may have been sullied from misuse in those anti-kitten stories above, it is actually quite a pleasant sensation.

Their beguiling mews are not a form of deception, but are instead an indication of their very factual adorability.

I know I'm taking a risk here. I know this is going to create quite the controversy. But I will say it here, to all those nay-sayers on this hot-button issue: kittens are adorable. Deal with it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The End of Lost, and why the sixth season missed the sci-fi mark



I am a rather contrary person, but I am also quite the conformist on occasion, which is why I write groundbreaking, earthshaking posts that generally go something like “HEY YALL DID YOU KNOW THAT CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION, CHEESECAKE IS DELICIOUS?” or maybe “HEY YALL I DON’T LIKE CLEANING AND HOUSEHOLD CHORES, I KNOW WEIRD RIGHT?”

So I’m not exactly sure how to react to the Lost finale after watching it yesterday morning.

I liked it. I did. But tentatively, problematically.

I reacted well to it, like I reacted well to Across the Sea. There were plenty of problems, but like that episode, I felt like it gave me a better idea of the nature of the show and its ideas and what it’s trying to get across.

I liked it much better than Across the Sea in many ways. While Across the Sea was a bit of a rush job as far as “developing the island as a character”, this was a coda for characters who were already extremely well-developed.

That’s what The End really did well. It banked on the viewer’s strong emotional ties to these characters: it made us remember how wonderful Jin and Sun and Rose and Bernard and even Jack and Kate are, made us remember that a big part of the reason we’d cared about this show for so long was the characters: well-developed, well-articulated, three-dimensional. The acting was also exceptional: I’m not usually a huge fan of Evangeline Lilly’s acting skills, but even she gave her character’s end gravity and meaning. In a show that consistently punished, tortured, killed its characters with rewards few and far between, it gave us something unexpected in its conclusion: their happiness in their death, their redemption through their trials. It showed us what they died for in a way the penultimate episode could not. Seeing these characters find understanding and happiness was incredibly powerful after six years, and it made the conclusion much more pleasant and satisfying. I cried several times, but not bitterly or out of sadness.

--

I have no problem with big, epic, science fiction shows ending up being about religion, like BSG and now Lost. Science, to me, is about religion. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been that good at understanding either. But life, growing, changing, nature, are wonders to me. Creation and science are fact, but the facts are constantly shifting, truth is constantly changing with our knowledge. The universe is not something we can intimately understand.

Thus, I did not mind the focus on faith and religion in this episode or these season. Faith has always been a strong current in the show. It’s mixed with science to create grand mystery and suspense, and when the plotting and pacing are good (as they were in this final episode, it can be magnificent).

But science was mostly abandoned this season, in favor of magic and religion. And that’s not living up to the show – it’s lazy fucking writing.

I had reserved judgment on the “magic everywhere in this bitch” aspect of the season. And now, I feel cheated.

Magic, as I hope I illustrated above, is not mutually exclusive with science. The light, the energy, the magic, the heart, works to a certain degree as a motif - flashes of light are a frequent punctuation on the show, and energy is a basic concept in science. But the show does not develop the energy/light/force as the scientific property behind many plot points on the show. Instead, it chooses to focus on developing a side world that ultimately does not exist. That’s wasteful writing, and it’s unnecessary.

A more productive tack to take, in my opinion, would have been to start developing the island as a character early on in the season, placing Ab Aeterno and Across The Sea early on in the season. Some of the weaker episodes (in particular Sayid’s, the Kwon’s, Kate’s, and Sawyer’s) should have instead been devoted to seeing more of the history of the island and developing how the energy affects the inhabitants, and defining the parameters of the protector’s guidance of the island. In this way, the show could have answered a lot of central questions: questions they built up and promptly abandoned. If you’re reading it, you know what they are. For me, I think that it would be easy to explain:


-the island’s past, particularly with regard to all of the Roman and Egyptian imagery and mythology

-conception and pregnancy [Particularly here – I would have loved to see more Alison Janney in different situations because I love her]

-fucking magnets, how do they work

-time and how it shifts

-the smoke and the nature of MiB

The problem with the construction of this season is that they did not trust the viewer enough. I do not dislike the idea of the sideways as purgatory. But they worked too hard to build it up when they really didn't need to in order to give these characters resolution. But I do dislike that they created a demand and an anticipation for specific aspects of the show, and actively chose to avoid answering those questions.

Further reading:
Jezebel
TLo
this ain't livin

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dirty laundry: I also hate it


Last week, I wrote at some length about how much I hate doing the (fucking) dishes. I still hate them. But I forgot to write about another thing I hate.

Laundry.

I hate laundry. I hate everything connected to laundry, except of course for the wearing of clean clothes.

When I was a child, I perpetually refused to throw my clothes in the goddamn hamper. Nothing has changed in nearly two decades. There are clothes all over my floor, on my bed, even on the back of my couch. I suck at putting away my fucking clothes.

What's worse is that my boyfriend is perfect about this. He comes home from working outdoors and immediately puts them in the wash, then in the dryer immediately after that. So that mess up there? All me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gardening porn.

Earlier today, you probably saw a weird plant next to a picture illustrating my rant about laundry. That's my beloved rosemary plant.

For my birthday this year, I asked for some basil and some rosemary from my boyfriend. He obliged, and my basil has been hitting it out of the park:


But my rosemary wasn't flourishing at quite the same rate. So I transplanted it, twice, and bought a little sister for her, and mixed in some sandy soil. It's doing pretty well. But I want a bush, so I don't have to worry about how much I can and cannot take to season my salmon.

In other news, my "Big Bertha" bell peppers are failing:



I transplanted a couple of plants out, but for some reason the ones didn't get transplanted are dying.

Wahhhhh, I was looking forward to them. Luckily, my yellow bell peppers are kicking ass:


I have to transplant them, too. Hope they don't die!

Oh, my cucumbers, by the way, are kicking ass and blooming all of a sudden:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Coffee: today it fails me.



Coffee has many varied purposes, including tasting delicious and making chocolate taste especially delicious. But for me, its central purpose is to wake my tired ass up in the morning.

Today, that is not happening. I have been awake and drinking coffee for three full hours. I have had an egg and the last piece of cheesecake in addition to several cups of coffee. I have been working and watching TV, as is my routine. I've walked around, done some gardening.

But I am still fully prepared to wake up in three hours with no memory of what's happened and qwerty on my face.

Coffee, what is your DEAL today?

Monday, May 17, 2010

I don't have a microwave, and that makes me better than you.



I own the hell out of my TV. I watch that shit critically, and daily. I am not ashamed to l-o-v-e my tee-vee. I am watching it right now (The Office UK special).

But there is one common household appliance that makes me feels superior because I do not have it. A microwave. Yeah, that's right, I'm avoiding the shit out of some cancer.



Actually, I'm probably putting plenty of cancer freons or particles or whatever in my system. They're everywhere.

But I like not having a microwave, for whatever reasons. I adore cooking, and I like doing it a little slower. Heating things slowly and manually requires more care and attention, and for me, that means a better tasting dish. Efficacy is one of my favorite concepts from political science - it's the idea that feeling like you have control over something makes your appreciate it more. The feeling that I am putting active work into whatever I'm doing, whether it's my writing, my body, my friendships, the herbs I'm growing, or my cooking, always makes me more satisfied with the subject of my efforts.

Of course, it would be easier for, like, boiling water or reheating stuff. I'll probably get one eventually, particularly after I become a mom. Microwaves are convenient everyday appliances that are necessary to many people, and it's indicative of my class privilege that I can exist without one.

It's silly that I am so smug about not having a microwave. But smugness is kind of silly in general, isn't it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crocs are goddamn comfortable, and that is enough for footwear

I love Crocs.

Yeah, you heard me. See how happy they make me?


I love Crocs. I wear mine all the time. I wear them in public, I wear them around the house, I wear them to my casual workplace with jeans, I wear them whenever possible.

They are so goddamn comfortable. They are easy. They are durable, even when I treat them bad (or leave them in the car too long. Which I have done several times, and it has warped slightly, but they are still comfy goddamn shoes. They were a gift from my boyfriend for Christmas 2007 (I used to steal his since we wear the same size; they are Red Sox-themed; he gives awesome gifts) and I wear them constantly, and they’ve held up totes well.

Are they stylish? I guess not, no. Normally I am a clothes kind of gal – I like looking at them and wearing them quite a bit. But these are so goddamn fucking comfortable.

--

Halfway through writing this (which was supposed to be a warmup for real writing), I read this awesome piece on Beyonce and beauty performance. I read it, thought “fuck yeah!” clicked “like” to tell Google basically that I like it (because who else cares?) and then went back to my word processing document.

And I thought, “wait, why the fuck is this so defensive? Why do I feel like I have to defend occasionally veering from style/beauty standards even the last little bit? They’re Crocs. They’re comfortable. That's the point?Why does this fucking matter, why should I feel like I have to put on cute shoes every time I go in public?” I’m guilty about it for some reason (hint: the reason is the patriarchy) and so I’m moved to write this to assuage my guilt.

Style and fashion and what we wear are a construct, demanded by the patriarchy, but the building of it, the tiny choices, the shoes – that work is pushed off onto us. Like a, I don’t know, clock-making kit you get from an aunt or uncle or grandma for Christmas, except they don’t always have the colors or the batteries or something is missing, and you work hard on it, and it’s still a mess.

The beauty myth is very DIY.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The verdict on cheesecake: awesome

I love cheesecake.

I don't generally like cheese that much, so I didn't start eating it until I encountered chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick at FloydFest last year.

Holy shit it was delicious. It was a fucking party in my mouth. Since then I've been getting it every once in a while, when Food Lion has it on sale or when it's not too expensive on the menu.


I've also been getting into baked brie, which I can actually make myself. Cut it in half, slap some kind of jelly in the middle and on the top, cover in pastry dough. Oh baby oh baby.


The above is called South-African Rose Baked Cheesecake. I don't know what that tastes like, but I want to. It is here because it is on Wikipedia and looks delicious.

Yum. I've been on a stupid diet for a while, so I've been avoiding it. But my period has a way of making me realize that diets are stupid and sugar is delicious, so I had cheesecake and chocolate ice cream for breakfast today.

Another great thing about cheesecake is that it's a dessert my boyfriend likes. Usually he's not much of a sweets person, but he too loves cheesecake and ice cream, so I don't feel like a lonely fatass. (Not that I should feel like a fatass, because that is a perjorative and blah blah feminism blah blah, but that's how I feel).



This is me, after writing this essay.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dirty dishes, everywhere.



I hate doing dishes. Especially without a dishwasher.

I've been down for a week, and between my work-generated dishes and the dishes I'm supposed to do because my boyfriend cooked last week, I'm basically a step below Liz Lemon taking her fork out of the dishwasher. I wish I had a dishwasher.

When I was a kid, my least favorite chore was taking dishes out of the dishwasher. I was generally pretty obnoxiously lazy in general but particularly with regard to housework. I was supposed to empty the dishwasher after dinner, and I would usually put it off for hours after forks were down.

Ugh. Youth. I had it so easy and I didn't even know.

The pile-up of dishes means that one load is a fucking production. I have to soak the dishes (because they're disgusting), then empty the water and clean off the food particles. Ew and ew. Then I fill with hot soapy water and wait some more, go do something else for a while. Then I have to either put up the clean dishes or move the dirty dishes to another part of the kitchen, which, when my kitchen is in the state it's in, is also an ordeal. Then I have to rinse them, which is not a big deal.

At this point, I say to myself, "Look at what you've accomplished. You are done with cleaning for the night."

Then I go and make and eat dinner, generating at least another two loads. My life, it's so hard.

In short, fuck dishwashing. My least favorite part of any day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cucumber plants suck.

Man, fuck cucumbers.

I've been gardening this summer, in planters, on my porch. I've been doing pretty well:

Yeah, it's pretty rockin. I'm particularly proud of my basil and rosemary plants. Thyme has been a challenge, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. I love going outside as I'm preparing dinner to get my spices and prune my plants. My chicken tastes better and my plants are mostly flourishing.

I'm also doing pretty well with some of the veggies I'm growing. My peppers are kicking some ass, as are my tomato plants.

But my cucumbers?


Ugh. My cucumbers. I had four seedlings. One is doing well. One has died.

This is probably mainly because I don't really know how to garden. This is king of a grow-as-I-go type of thing. But still - it needs full sun, I give it full sun. It needs water, I give it some goddamn water. This plant is a hater.

Y'ALL I LIKE "ACROSS THE SEA"


SPOILERS DUH

Okay, so, I really liked Across The Sea. Like, I really liked it. I was taken in, involved, everything.

It's a little bizarre, and yeah, you know, it is about magic after a fashion. But honestly, what the fuck did you expect it to be? Was the "it's PHYSICS" explanation really any more articulate or seriously meaningful? Time travel doesn't actually exist, you know. It doesn't. Time may be a dimension but we don't understand it. At least they're giving some kind of explanation instead of being like "WELL IT'S THIS MACHINE WITH WHEELS AND GEARS YOU SEE". We already got the sci-fi weird machine bullshit out of the way in seasons 2-5. And besides, as my nerdy brother is fond of quoting, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

This is a weird fucking island. A lot of weird, inexplicable things happen. Is magic really that surprising?

And it's not just magic (though it is very much magical). It's also about spirit. And yeah, it's hokey, but again: the fuck did you want? This is all about the power of fucking love and the human spirit and faith versus fact and all of that.

And it's not just magic and spirituality: think about the role that light, overpowering, beautiful light, has played on this island as a theme and a motif. Most notably, this light accompanied the time jumps of season five, due to the malfunctioning wheel MIB fashioned. When Desmond pressed the fail-safe, light accompanied the tremors that brought the plane down.

Also, what's so fucking wrong with magic? Magic is awesome. I love Harry Potter, and magical realism, and all of that bullshit. Magic kicks ass.

Was the CGI corny? Yeah. So? I thought it was also beautiful. This show is not about fucking reality.

I love this episode because it did not give "the whispers are SPIRITS" bullshit direct answers. It told a story of mythology that moved forward my understanding of the island and the essence of this show. Across The Sea shifted the way I view the show: what it's about, what lies beneath it, where it came from, what it represents. And I couldn't ask or expect anything more of it.

Further reading:

Lost S6E15: Across the Sea

Thesis statement


I love writing. I love writing for my usually very serious critical feminist blog Deeply Problematic.

But sometimes, it's a little hard to verbally and critical limber up in the morning. I don't think about feminism and my privilege twenty-four hours out of the day. I don't always want to write about the Problems in the World and why they're Relevant. I don't always want to re-draft and re-draft, and re-draft and re-draft, to make sure I'm not offending, not centering my privileges, etc. I love doing this a lot of the time. I feel honest and real and insightful when I write for Deeply Problematic, and it's deeply challenging and deeply gratifying.

But that's not all I want to write. I want to write about, like, my struggles with gardening, or why I love Bette Davis. I want a space to write about stuff without having to re-draft. I want a place to write about silly things. I want to write like a regular blogger, really colloquially, write and press publish, etc.

So, this is my space to write things off the cuff. It's where I'll come to warm up my critical skills in the morning while drinking my coffee, and to vent at night while I'm drinking my beer. There will be feminism on occasion, since I am a feminist. And just because I'm sick of considering my privilege doesn't mean it won't show here, and hurt people, and you're welcome to call me on that. But mainly it's just going to be my critique - positive or negative - on things not necessarily directly relevant to dismantling the kyriarchy.