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Archive for April, 2008

One of the reasons I fell in love with my house is that the two tub/shower combo units have these privacy windows over them. That way you can get some natural light in while you shower, assuming of course that you’re showing during the day.

Since my inner two year old still loves shiny glass objects, I’ve started a collection of blue glass items in the window above my basement shower. It’s quite pretty, with stained glass and interestingly shaped jars filled with glass beads.

It always kind of makes me sad when the sun goes down and I lose a bit of the pretty. I’ve thought recently about getting some of the simple cheapy tap lights like the ones I have under the kitchen cabinets. I figured I could put them on the base of the window and uplight the glass with a pretty effect. But you know what would be better?

If they made the same type of product, but solar-powered instead of “tap” powered. I get that you can’t really solar charge lights that are mounted under a kitchen cabinet. But lights resting on a window sill? How cool would that be? All the results of my Mad Google Skillz are showing yard lights. I wonder if it’s possible to invent the other kind. I’ll do almost anything to avoid balancing on the edge of the tub.

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Folks are up in arms because they think it’s too sexy. I hadn’t seen it until late last night, and I have to say I find it jarring.

Not because the picture makes her look sexy. I’m used to seeing Miley Cyrus look sexy. Don’t know what I mean? Google “Hannah Montana” and you’ll be greeted with thousands of pictures of her in full makeup, sparkly tops, spandex pants and her hips thrust out.

We’ve all seen so much sexy that we’re mostly immune to the Baby Hooker look that Cyrus sports on a regular basis.

The Leibowitz Picture, however, presents an entirely different image. It makes Cyrus look like what she is. Not a hooker grabbing a mid-stroll coffee at Chock Full O Nuts (which is how most of the HM costuming comes across) but like a little girl who is just waking up. You can clearly see, in the much ballyhooed photo, the baby fat in her cheeks, the clean-scrubbed look in her face and an innocence in her eyes. She looks like a fifteen year old child. [In case you were wondering, that's also why the pictures aren't posted here. I have a personal policy against posting sexualised photographs of children. So neither type of picture is here.]

Is it art, to expose the child behind the Baby Hooker? I think on some level it probably is. The Leibowitz picture, as all true art, says something deeper about the subject and the zeitgeist. Is it in the right context? I think probably not. It might have been better released in a photographic retrospective or a coffee-table book. Releasing it in the current context of mass media (i.e. Vanity Fair) means whatever art exists is muddied by the streets of commerce and loses its artistic merit.

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I both love this show and lose patience with it. In that way it makes me feel almost like I’m the parent of a 14-year-old. Lately we’ve been in a particularly adolescent patch of episodes. Remember how it was to be 14 and think you know better than everyone else and that the whole world which came before you is filled with fraktards? (Of course I know people in their middle years who have this same outlook, so it’s not exclusively the province of early teenagers, but for now we’ll let them haul the blame.)

That’s what BSG is right now. I was afraid it would come to this when they started dealing with the religion episodes, and I’ve been very nervous to see how it’d be handled.

“Does it feel like they’re mocking Christianity to you?” I said to my spouse as we tried to stay awake through the latest episode.

“Not exactly mocking. It’s sort of like they don’t have any familiarity with it, so they’re trying to write impressively about a topic they know nothing about” is what he said.

By the end of the episode I was pretty convinced that most of the people writing the show have driven by churches on their way to the bookstore where they bought books about popular Gnostic and Hedonistic takes on religion. On the one hand that’s fine with me because I’d just as soon keep the whole “this is SciFi” world apart from Christianity. I don’t think the two need to mix, really. On the other hand, they keep nudging ever closer to parallels–the destruction of the temple of Zeus and the mention of the Mithras cult–and setting up plotlines which run thisclose to the history of the early church. The one consolation I took from this recent episode is that it seems they’re using Baltar as more of a St. Peter figure, shying away from making a complete Jesus analogy. Which is good, because as most of you know those of us who believe in the divinity of Jesus believe that he was without sin. That means to have someone like Baltar, a grievous sort of human being, be the show’s “Jesus” is about as offensive as possible. Not that it’s going to matter at all what a TV show thinks of Jesus in the long run. But still.

All that being laid on the table, let me just leave one parting thought.

Can we please get back to the interesting story lines? More Starbuck, more Quest for earth. Less of this crazy Religion/Pain thing. Please.

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I know several teachers personally; more than I can count with two hands. Thankfully due to good teachers in my past, I’m able to count them in my head–without using my fingers, toes or (non-existent) penis, as the old blackjack joke goes*.

I also personally know several doctors, attorneys, and other people who are what most folks consider “professionals”. Just like the doctors and lawyers and dentists the teachers have post-college education. They read journals, attend continuing-education seminars and stay up-to-date with changing theories and methods of their chosen course. This holds true not only for university professors and secondary teachers but also for those who teach in elementary grades.

A teacher I know called me last night to vent about the way her boss spoke to her. She was rightfully upset, because the boss (mis)directed his frustration with a roomful of pushy parents and tired children by yelling at her. This is not the first time that scenario has happened, and she’s not the only teacher to which it happens.

I suspect the problem is that most teachers are female. Well, that and pretty much everyone who has been to college knows at least one woman who used “elementary education” as code for “I’m here to get my MRS degree.” But somehow, somewhere the idea has become commonplace that those who teach young kids, especially Kindergarten, are no more than babysitters.

New laws (the abominable NCLB grist mill included) now require that most Kindergarten students be taught skills that are often beyond their mental development processes. In spite of what lawmakers think, little 5-year old brains can’t necessarily grasp some of the things their curriculum requires. Nevertheless it is up to the professionals to see that all students know the legally-mandated material. Those happy innocent years before First Grade are not just about making turkeys out of hand tracings and learning the alphabet song. And the folks whose job it is to do all this are people who are highly educated, put in long days and know their stuff.

They deserve the same respect accorded to other professionals.

*”He can’t count to 21 unless he’s naked.” (for those of you who didn’t know the punchline.)

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The Harry Potter Lawsuit

There’s much speculation going on about the current lawsuit between J.K. Rowling and RDR Publishing about the Lexicon. My newsgroups are all of a sudden full of folks who’ve never before bothered to read the Fair Use clause and are now trying to practice law over the internet. (Since that’s a favourite pastime of my own, I can’t really fault them. But even I admit that non-attorneys practicing law over the internet are kinda silly. Myself included.)

While I’m not an attorney and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express or play an attorney on TV, I did work in Publishing and Trademark Rights for a number of years, and so I’m what you might call a lay expert.

A lot of folks in the fandom are very upset that JKR is “attacking” Steve VanderArk. After years of her working hand-in-glove with her fan base, it can seem a little bit callous to suddenly sue a person whose site she has admittedly turned to herself for reference. The fact that she’s got a bajillion dollars doesn’t help her any in the court of public opinion. I think back to a post on Ron Coleman’s site that talked about “Piggy Lady Rowling”. (For all you fans out there, Ron Coleman is an ACTUAL copyright lawyer, so it’s good to drop in on his site to get some real information.)

I said last fall and I say now that I side with Rowling in this matter, even though I think she may lose. The thing is that when I was working in P&T Rights our attorneys drummed into our head that the most important thing we could do was “vigorously defend” our trademarks. I spent long hours sending letters to random people just to ensure that my company was on record as defending its ownership of the various things we copyrighted. If we didn’t fight the small battles we could lose the big one.

That’s why I personally think Rowling is going toe-to-toe with the Lexicon. If she doesn’t stop RDR (who?) Publishing from printing a few thousand copies of this book, she’ll have less of a leg to stand on should Random House decide to print a few million copies of another “Guide To Harry Potter” book.

Of course, I also think that Vander Ark saw what MuggleNet did by putting out their own book of original material and decided that he wanted some of that shelf-space. Shame Vander Ark is a cataloger instead of a writer, because his material consists of reorganising Rowling’s work as opposed to writing original commentary, like MuggleNet did.

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“Why didn’t you answer my email?”

About a month ago my husband started coming home and saying this on a regular basis. He’d send me two or three emails a day that I didn’t get. I called Comcast and they saw nothing wrong on their end, so I assumed it had something to do with Husband’s at-work provider.

Then other people started saying the same thing.

Also, my inbox went from about 50 emails a day to about 6. Some of this I attributed to people steering clear of me during my post-euthanasia meltdown/freakout.

But now there can be no denying–there is something wrong with my email. I have no idea how to fix it if Comcast doesn’t see a problem on their end. I think I might just switch to gmail.

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My brother’s son plays T-ball, and one of the coaches in his local Little League group (group? team? franchise?) is the man I once wanted to marry.

Of course, I was really young then and hadn’t seen much of the world. But I loved that guy in my own fifteen year old way. One time we had a picnic with sparkling grape juice and plastic champagne glasses I bought at Belmont’s (our hometown version of WalMart before WalMart put them out of business.) Another time he was in the middle of asking me to go steady when he steered his truck into an Amish buggy. No one was hurt except our pride. And I had to wait an extra week to get his class ring.

The biggest memory I have of him is that he wanted to play Major League baseball. Some coach once told his mother that he had promise, so their life was spent driving all over Northeastern Indiana to groom the guy into a pro. For the year and a half I dated him I got sucked into the dream, too. I went to countless games, watched countless baseball movies and even read the encyclopedia entry on “Baseball” to make sure I knew what was going on. Twenty years later the only things I’ve retained are the fact that the pitcher’s mound is 60 feet, six inches from home plate and the certain knowledge that I hate that sport with a passion.

Oddly, the universe decided to churn out several top 40 hits about baseball while we were dating, and he loved each and every one of them. [If I never hear "Center Field" by John Fogerty again, I'll be a happy girl.] Even more oddly, his favourite was Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days”. He liked the fact that the old guys were sitting around talking about baseball. I think he missed the part that the characters in the song were lamenting the death of their dreams.

When my brother told me that he ran into Jim at Little League practice, that was the first thought that crossed my mind. I felt so sad for him and at the same time wondered how he could do it. How can he live the ghost of a dream, coaching seven-year-olds in Fort Wayne? Then I thought about it some more and realised that no stirring novels of mine have topped any best-seller lists and I just write for a blog. I think most people have their early dreams die. But I think the stalks of those dead dreams can, if you’re lucky, fertilise the new shoots of young dreams that grow into the fruits of your true adulthood.

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