July 17, 2007

The Dept. of Professional Panic Dept.

Apparently we haven't worked ourselves up into a frothy enough panic about global warming, so the doomsayers in charge of predicting our demise have come up with something else for us to freak out about:

If we don't get a colony on Mars within the next 46 years, we are doomed. DOOOOMED!!

Well, 5,100 years from now, that is. But still! DOOOOOOMMMMMEEEEDDDD!

I believe I mentioned this a couple of years ago, but it bears repeating: I am all out of panic. Done. Fini. At this point, a live broadcast showing the sun hurtling toward earth in a sea of apocalyptic flame would probably only prompt me to shrug and head inside to await my demise in climate controlled comfort. With Doritos. And maybe some red wine.

Media? I'm looking at you, buddy. Your constant, 24/7 exhortations to freak out or mobilize or DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS OMG have bequeathed to me an apathy so complete that I doubt I could be roused to respond to an attack of flesh eating zombies on my front porch. Well, beyond offering them some Doritos and red wine in lieu of my brains, that is.

So from now on, I will respond to any future salvos in the OMGDOOM! campaign with the following: Yeah, yeah, yeah. End of days. Again.

Full disclosure - I think it would be cool to be able to hang out on Mars. For a weekend. Once. But the zero-g muscle atrophy and the massive radiation exposure and the amount of time it would take to get there? Not so much. Call me when you manage to figure out the whole light speed travel and transporter thing - in other words, when space travel becomes more star trek and less scurvy-riddled sailor.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 12, 2007

Shallow Hal*

Ah, embarrassed southern apologist! How I've missed your rantings, your declarations that even though ignorance and racism are everywhere, it's all the fault of the south! Poor, backward south! If not for embarrassed southern apologists bravely toiling in the mills of local indepent rags, we'd still be feckless layabouts sippin' shine on the shanty porches when we weren't donning hoods to make sure that darkies knew their place...

But fortunately for me, you've moved up in the world, and are now imposing yourself upon my eyeballs via the latest issue of the Oxford American, where you spend three pages reminding everyone that the south is still hopelessly backward, in large part because of the lacrosse case at Duke.

Ya know, I'd be a bit more inclined to pay attention to your other points if the center of your "omg rich white people in the south are evil racist bastards" argument wasn't quite so, shall we say, factually challenged:

"The DA was virtually lynched, an unprecedented martyrdom that seems to have crushed his career and any hope of future happiness. The black stripper who pressed the charges was merely impeached, ostracized, and forgotten. The exonerated lacrosse players, according to my local paper, were “greeted like heroes” wherever Duke students gathered. Innocent was the word in general use, though all the Attorney General had actually determined was that they couldn’t be convicted—and shouldn’t have been indicted—on these charges brought by this witness (doesn’t that make them less innocent, technically, than, say, O.J. Simpson, who was actually acquitted?)."

Point of fact: The AG declared the defendants "Innocent." On TV. Live. Saw it myself. And then there's the whole preponderance of evidence supporting this fact, handily compiled by a historian and easy to find both on the web and on media sites. But ol' Hal's never been one to let reality get in the way of a good rant. Oh, and nice job dragging OJ into this, btw. Seriously. Because the two cases are so similar. You know, because black people and white people are involved. Which makes them identical. Well, if you're Hal.

"Their innocence was asserted so aggressively by the media that we were left with the impression that they had actually been studying in the library when the incident in question occurred, or perhaps that the whole episode with the strippers had been a sociology project in community outreach. “What actually happened?” has become a question that no one gets to ask. I experienced extreme nausea when one local columnist apologized abjectly to these newly purified paragons, though neither she nor any pundits in their right minds had ever claimed to know that they were guilty—only that they were behaving like over-entitled little pigs with atrocious judgment, behavior that many Duke observers claimed was chronic and that we all fervently hoped had not culminated in sexual assault."

Here Hal is referring to Ruth Sheehan, who apologized in a column for rushing to judgement in her first couple of columns on the case. So a columnist admits a mistake - I find that refreshing. Not so our brave Hal, who is nauseated by this, because, dammit! Athletes! White athletes! At an elite school! IN THE SOUTH!!! SO...YEAH! Pigs! Never mind that one of the kids who was being threatened with up to 30 years in prison for a crime that didn't occur wasn't even present at the evil bacchanal when the alleged crime (that didn't happen) allegedly occurred, AND the cab driver (who happens to be, gasp, black) who came forward to tell the truth about this fact was harrassed by this same sainted DA--PIGS! Because, WHITE! And, RICH! And, DURHAM! Yeah, I follow that logic. Oh, and no one gets to ask what actually happened? Except for EVERYONE IN AMERICA FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR?! Jesus.

"If injustice was avoided, everyone should be relieved. But the smell of whitewash—accent on white—was hard to escape. Blacks and whites didn’t view this case through the same lens. A columnist for the student newspaper at North Carolina Central University, where the dancer had been enrolled, called for violent resistance to white justice, under the headline DEATH TO ALL RAPISTS. Certain white people I regarded as enlightened and well-meaning appeared to be rooting for Duke’s dubious bruisers—one of them had a rap sheet for gay-bashing—long before any of the facts were clear. Professors who used the lacrosse case to make a statement about over-privileged and under-restrained athletes are still receiving threatening e-mails from bullies with racial agendas. A lot of race stuff that had been half-buried came to the surface, and none of it was very pretty."

Yeah. None of it is pretty, is it, Hal? Especially when reality doesn't fit your agenda. Gotta hate it when that happens. Again, you can see what the professors considered "making a statement." And what they consider "threatening emails." But that would require research. So much easier to just swoop in, smear some college kids in the service of saving us from ourselves, and then swoop out again, safe and secure in your self-righteousness. Golly, thanks, Hal!

*post title suggested by the fabulous Hublet.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:28 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 13, 2007

Tell Me You Didn't See This One Coming

So yesterday Dan Rather complained that Katie Couric has "tarted up" the evening news and made it less serious, which is why no one's watching.

Okay. Bad word choice, Dan. Can you tell me why using "tarted up" in conjunction with a diatribe about a female news anchor making the news "less serious" might be a bad idea? Think hard, dude. I'll wait. Ann Althouse blogged about this yesterday. As for me, my reaction was more, "Oh, here we go," than "Dan's misogyny is showing," but then I'm a bit of a cynic, and think that Dan Rather is careening merrily downhill into drooling senility.

And word choice aside, there's no way this was ever going to end well. Not when you have the trifecta of crazy bitter ex-employee, ratings crisis, and a whiff of gender baiting.

So now it's on. No less a luminary than Les (ha!) Moonves jumped on the Evil!Misogynist! Rather! bandwagon with a quickness. However, since he immediately used that stance as a springboard to blame all of evil!misogynist!America for CBS News' crappy ratings, you'll have to forgive me if I don't take his gallant outrage on Couric's behalf at face value.

So, since we have reached the point in this country where any criticism of one gender by the other always devolves into cries of Evil! and Victim! and You Just Don't UNDERSTAAAAAANNNDD!, let me lend you the power of my estrogen--which immunizes me somewhat against the automatic charge of misogyny--and tell it like it is:

Katie Couric was the wrong person for that job. And it's not because she has breasts. She just sucks as a news anchor. You don't spend your entire career cultivating the image of approachable perky person and then try to ratchet up the gravitas by haranguing a cancer patient's husband. At a certain point, your image is your image, and you need to accept it and work with it.

This has been the perfect storm of a network with no clue how to recover from a devastating professional embarrassment (ahem, DAN) deciding that a 180 is the best way to go and then realizing their mistake too late and trying to fix it in the ham-handed way that's so typical of large organizations.

But, you know, why bother with all those details when you can call Dan Rather a misogynist and blame America for being stupid?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 25, 2007

No. No, No, No, No. No.

Hublet took a bit too much glee in pointing out the following sentence (which appeared in a weekly newsletter that Shall Not Be Named) to me yesterday:

"I have been doing intentional reading lately..."

Probably because he has a rather unhealthy fixation with watching my head explode.

I have ranted, at length, about the stupidity inherent in thinking that putting the word "intentional" in front of a verb gives it more impact, as though the verb magically attains a greater degree of verbiness when the reader realizes that there was actual INTENTION behind the verbing going on, when the USE OF THE VERB IN THE FIRST PLACE IMPLIES INTENTIONALITY!!!!!!! Unless of course you use the modifier "accidentally" or "unconsciously" in front of the verb, which tells your reader that the action immediately following was UNINTENTIONAL, which negates the IMPLIED INTENTIONALITY INHERENT IN VERB USAGE!!!



Your strategizing doesn't become MORE strategic if you say it's intentional. Your reading doesn't become more meaningful if you say it's intentional. What, you accidentally read War and Peace last year?

You are killing me slowly, people. Killing me.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:36 PM | Comments (11)

May 10, 2007

I'm Already Over it

The 2008 election, that is.

Given my predilection for fits of irritated rage, I have largely ignored any and all political news beyond skimming the links at large sites. And the stuff I have come across has only reinforced my belief that you have to be either mentally ill or stupid to want to run for president.

For lo, the parsing has begun. If you misspeak, and then give an excuse that would work anywhere else in the world ("I'm sorry, I'm tired and tripped over my own tongue") you'll be psychoanalyzed. If you honestly aren't all that exercised over a particular issue, and would prefer to focus on other issues, you'll be pilloried by people who can ONLY THINK ABOUT ONE THING ALL THE TIME OMG!, well, until the NEXT THING THEY WANT TO THINK ABOUT, TOO, OMG! comes along. If you belch or pick your nose, an analyst will appear on a cable news network not 20 minutes later to dissect the nuance of your kleenex placement, investigate your ties to the "tissue industry," and debate a member of the "cotton hanky only eco-movement" on your apparent lack of green bona-fides.

Eventually, this scrutiny would probably drive anyone around the bend. Particularly since we've decided that the only break we have from presidential campaigns is a 20-minute pause on Inauguration Day. And even that's negotiable if the election is close--gotta protest and sue, you know.

So is it any wonder that candidates are now actually confusing fantasy with reality? If it's not Mitt Romney quoting a sci-fi novel as legislative fact in France, it's NC's own John Edwards promising to "look into" the claims of a conspiracy nutjob. Dear God, boys. Maybe you should take a break for a week or two. Because the trend of denying objective reality is not one I think you should be looking to get out in front of, no matter how politically expedient it seems at the moment.

My advice for 2008? A bunker.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 23, 2007

Signs that you've been watching too many nature documentaries

I think I may have reached my saturation point with nature documentaries.

Normally I love them, but lately the treacly anthropomorphizing voiceovers have started to grate on my nerves. Perhaps this is directly related to the fact that said voiceovers have increasingly become less about the habits of the animals onscreen and more about MAN RAPING THE PLANET OMGWTFBBQ!!11 Or maybe they've always been that way and we just haven't had entire channels dedicated to them before - whatev. I'm done.

Case in point: Planet Carnivore. I tuned in last night while enjoying my nightly glass of red wine, because the National Geographic Channel had been hyping the crap out of it, and I like the occasional reminder that nature is red in tooth and claw--it helps reinforce my stance that camping is unnatural. We built houses for a reason, folks, and part of that reason is large, befurred, toothy and roaming freely through the woods.

Anyhoo, I caught the episode dealing with our Arctic brethren. The major narrative thread involved a female polar bear who, apparently because she doesn't like to stray far from where she was born, was having trouble finding food in the UNSEASONABLY WARM WEATHER THAT IS TOTALLY OUR FAULT OMG!

Usually when confronted with the "sad pan flutes of imminent species decimation at the hands of uncaring man" and related voiceover I roll my eyes and continue watching, but last night, the following sentence just made me snap:

"[Name of female polar bear that I forgot but which is appropriately Nordic] is troubled."

No. No, the bear is not "troubled." Nor is she "pensive," "emo," or "ennui-ridden." She is HUNGRY. And possibly OVERHEATED. But not TROUBLED. Because she is a POLAR BEAR, not a member of Greenpeace.

I just - gah! I know they want to increase the level of viewer involvement with the animals onscreen, but when did the National Geographic Channel begin employing polar bear whisperers? Bears are not people. Their thought processes, from what we can scientifically ascertain, are not the same as ours, nor are their emotional lives.

Guess I'll be avoiding the upper two-hundreds on the satellite from now on.

Well, at least until Shark Week. Sharks don't do emo.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:20 AM | Comments (5)

April 12, 2007

Holier Than Thou

First of all, thanks for all the kind words about Gertie. The Boy is coping well.

And since I've got craziness approaching this afternoon, this will be short and to the point. It seems to me that the animating factor behind the Duke lacrosse case and to a certain extent the bonehead Imus crap is the human desire to feel better about oneself by demonstrating that you're better than all those other people, as if moral rectitude consists of how loudly you're screaming for your pound of flesh, regardless of evidence or the real amount of harm done.

For all the lacrosse stuff, go here.

For a nifty example of how those who were loudly proclaiming their moral rectitude and rushing to judgement will be parsing their former statements, keep an eye on the articles (and comment threads) here. Pay special attention to this meme, as you will no doubt be hearing it quite a bit:

Some students said the confirmation of the players' innocence should not overshadow the underlying issues brought to light during the national reaction to the lacrosse case.

"We will never know what really happened on the night of March 13, but it is our sincere hope that justice has been served," the Black Student Alliance's outgoing and incoming presidents, Malik Burnett, a senior, and Simone Randolph, a junior, wrote in a statement. "The lacrosse incident has become much more than a case of alleged rape, but serves as a lesson that issues of prejudice and inequality still exist within our nation today."

The question of whether or not learning that "lesson" about "issues" was worth the public railroading of and death threats against 3 innocent people will somehow be avoided. And the "never knowing what really happened" trope is a lie. But as it's a lie in the service of helping these folks avoid confronting their own behavior, I don't expect to see it corrected, do you?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:14 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 27, 2007

News Flash! Causes of Cancer Discovered!

And while I'm stuck in pissy beyotch mode (see previous post), I just thought I'd share with you Everything I've Learned About Cancer, Thanks to Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow:

1. If cancer afflicts someone you don't agree with politically, it's because their evil WrongThink has eaten their guts out; if it afflicts someone you do agree with politically, it's probably still the fault of the Evil Other Side, because they use pesticides on 3rd world countries and don't recycle, damn them and their cancerous guts to hell!

2. If people on your side of the political spectrum demonstrate empathy for the Evil Cancer-Afflicted WrongThinker on the other side, they're either a) lying, or b) pretending to be empathetic so that they can congratulate themselves on how fabulous they are. Either way, they should probably be Purged For the Good of the Party.

3. Cancer is a metaphor! For how rotten our evil rotten country is! Or how evil the Other Guys are! I know! That's like, so totally deep and stuff!

4. Confessing that one secretly wishes cancer upon your political opponents is a cathartic experience, and one should be congratulated for one's bravery at making such a bold admission! Bravo, you fearlessly self-aware and self-actualized person, you!

5. Katie Couric picked the wrong subject with which to try and prove that she was a hard-hitting journalist, and not in any way a shameless ratings whore.

6. Ultimately, all cancer everywhere in the world is probably George Bush's fault. I mean, duh!

7. On any message board or blog discussing these people and their illnesses, eventually some ironically distanced, intellectually nuanced ding-dong will show up and make a pronouncement to the effect that we're all just globs of animated protoplasm and slaves to the mindless need to exist. And that also, there's no God, so will everyone please stop cluttering up the place with those irritating "prayers?"

8. The above person will probably, ironically, get cancer and religion in roughly that order. But just so you're reassured, their faith will be of the ironically distanced variety.


10. Cancer sucks. That one doesn't have a punchline.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:07 PM | Comments (8)

February 27, 2007

Oh, yes. That'll help.

Prince Charles, ever the arbiter of well thought out positions, has decided that the best way to fight obesity in Britain is to ban McDonalds.

And with that, he has proven that freeing ourselves from the taint of monarchy was the best idea ever.

I am sick to death of being lectured by "our betters" on how to live and what to eat "for our own good," and their shrill cries of "ban everything icky!" as though they can legislate bad choices out of existence. They can't, and screw them for thinking they can. I already have a mom and dad and I don't need either my government or some shmuck who only got where he is through an accident of birth to fill that role for me, thankyouverymuch.

Freedom is about choice and responsibility. Why am I not surprised that a prince might have a bit of trouble with that concept?

Some days I'm positively libertarian in my outlook. Dunno whether or not I should be scared about that.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:49 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

Oh Goody. Another Dollar Coin.

I hate dollar coins. Already. And I haven't even held one yet, but that doesn't matter in the slightest, because I hate them. Hate them with a fiery, fiery hate.

Wanna know why?

Scotland. Yep, it's completely Scotland's fault that I hate dollar coins. See, when I did my year of study abroad, I went to Scotland, where they had these super cute little 1 pound notes that fit neatly into one's pocket. Now down in England they'd recently gotten all het up about the one pound coin which was actually pretty aptly named. The damn things were heavy! And bulky, and difficult to deal with in a pub--which, let's face it, was where I did the majority of my spending while abroad. So I was all smug and pleased about the fact that in Scotland people were civilized enough to realize that carrying around thin sheets of paper was much easier than bulky, yucky coins.

And then I got on an English plane to come home, and discovered that the English were being all English about the fact that the Scots hadn't bought into the whole coinage issue, and were throwing a hissy fit about it by refusing to take Scottish 1 pound notes. I wanted a coke. I had 3 pounds, all of it in notes, all of which were refused by some stupid air waitress in a cheap blue beret.

It was there, 30,000 feet above the earth, depressed because I was leaving my friends to return home and DYING FOR A COKE, that my total irrational hatred of dollar (or pound) coins was cemented.

Oh, and when my layover in London meant that I ended up with some of the one pound coins, guess what I discovered when I returned home? Banks wouldn't exchange coinage - only paper bills.

Evil, stupid, coin currency.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:08 PM | Comments (6)

December 01, 2006

Direct TV DVR? You Suck.

No, seriously. Your DVR is quite possibly the most annoying, counter-intuitive, slow, kludgy piece of garbage I have ever dealt with.

See, I had a TiVo. A real, honest-to-God TiVo, with quick-loading menus, Season Pass management options that didn't suck, and the ability for the internal timer on the recordings to keep up when I fast-forwarded. Then that TiVo, sadly, died, but you came to my rescue with a shiny new DVR.

Of course, the fact that you were careful to call it a DVR should have tipped me off.

The menus? What the hell. You can't do a one-click season pass. You have to search, record an episode, tab over to a new menu, and SURPRISE! Even when you manage to push all the buttons, INCLUDING the one that specifies "first run only," you STILL end up with every stinking copy of the episode ever. And as someone who actually watches X-Play, which airs approximately 437 times a day on G4, it is important that I get only the first run episodes, dammit. My old TiVo? Understood the concept of FIRST RUN ONLY as more than just a fun label with no actual meaning.

And God forbid you want to do something simple, like have the episodes start one minute early and finish one minute late. If you select those options on the POS DVR, you will end up with exactly one minute of a show taped. Also, the DVR doesn't notice when there are schedule updates, like when 2 new episodes of a series come on back-to-back. It only catches one. My old TiVo? Totally caught that stuff.

And the fast-forwarding. The internal timer on the recorded episode can't keep up, and gets stuck about 11 minutes in, and then EVERY SINGLE TIME you go back to catch the rest of the episode, it starts it 11 minutes in. That is, if it doesn't give you a black screen, which happened last night with my episode of Supernatural.

Word to the wise: you do not screw with my recorded episodes of Supernatural. I will CUT you.

Did I mention that the POS DVR is "free," if by free you mean "locks you into a 2-year service contract, which we won't mention when you agree to have us send it to you but will tell you about when you call to activate the service?"

I have 3 shows I watch regularly. Is it too much to ask that in the year of our Lord 2006 I be able to, you know, WATCH THEM at my convenience?

I hate you, DirecTV DVR. I hate you with the fiery hate of a million super-novas. You can take your two-year service agreement and your shiny silver POS DVR and put them where the supernova don't glow. I want my TiVo back. Well, obviously not the one that died, but you know what I mean.

I think I hear the siren song of Best Buy...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:25 AM | Comments (7)

September 22, 2006

And the Jokes Just Keep on Coming

If the joke in question is named Mike Nifong, that is. KC Johnson has an entire blog devoted to keeping up with the lacrosse case, which at this point looks to me as though it's going to end up another one of those "OMG, check the yokels!" affairs, with the twist of the usual racial roles being reversed.

And it's already started, if some of the comments at Johnson's blog are any indication. Which brings me to the larger point I want to make about mealy-mouthed southerners, transplants, and others who seem to feel obligated, whenever there's a negative news story that takes place south of the Mason-Dixon line, to bust out with the accusations, mea culpas, and "but we're trying to overcome!" bullshit:

You are neither responsible for nor the sole repository of southern history. Please stop acting as though you are. Wearing a virtual hair shirt in the comments section of a damn BLOG is completely freaking pointless, and the only reason you're doing it is so that you can impress a bunch of people you'll never meet. How sad does that make you? Pretty damn sad. About as sad as the people who feel compelled to apologize on behalf of America to crazy violent freaks when someone intemperately points out that the freaks are, indeed, a bit crazy and violent.

And also? Please stop with the nonsense about how even though you're secretly (or not so secretly) ashamed to be southern/live here, it's okay because you've managed to carve out a "Progressive Space" in a "Sea of Fundamentalism." All that does is demonstrate that you have carved out a Fantasy Space in a Sea of Complete Denial of Reality. If you truly believe, as does one benighted commenter, that

"This area (the Triangle as it's known) prides itself on being a bastion of progressivity in a sea (the rest of NC) of backwards, controlling, nasty and corrupt religious zealots,"

then you, my friend, have issues. Many, many issues. Issues that have very little to do with Mike Nifong's, erm, intriguing approach to DA work, and a whole lot to do with your self-image, apparently. Yes, we all proudly display our "Screw the Papist Hick Overlords!" badges and bumperstickers here in Raleigh, and fight the daily fight against roving Protestant Inquisition Squads. Christ on a crutch. Ooh, look! I was just mildly blasphemous! And I haven't been stoned to death by an angry mob! Obviously, our progressive bastion's walls are holding!

Listen to me, commenters who must share their enlightenment with the world even though they're commenting anonymously because they have to prove that the south isn't really like that! The south was what it was and it is what it is and
if you sit around being ashamed to live here, well, that's your problem, not the region's. You're not a brave warrior who toils daily at dragging the backward out of the swamps of ignorance, okay? You're just some shmuck with a mortgage and a job who bitches about the morning traffic, just like most everyone else down here.

And also? You are not anyone's moral superior based upon your place of nativity, former residence, political affiliation, or how many gay friends you have.


Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:06 PM | Comments (7)

July 25, 2006

Shut Up, Gail Sheehy

I've often wondered what would happen when the generation that has managed to define every decade of its life as being "the time to get to know yourself, to do what you want with no limitations" would do when they finally, finally had to confront death.

Then I read this article and the answer became clear: they will have a contract with psychic John Edwards that will allow them to publish books from beyond the grave about how "the post-life era is really the time to take time for yourself, to do what you want to do with no limitations," and oh, by the way, can we just mention that being dead really affords you "the best sex ever?"

I hate these people, I really do, because they have manged to distill all of life into a tiny space where all that matters is personal gratification. Which is ironic, since all they ever talk about is how they changed the world. Or maybe it's illuminating, because when you think about it, their motivation seems to have been "change the world so I can do what I want and screw everybody else!"

Being dubbed "the me generation" isn't a compliment. It's sad how they just don't seem to get that.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)

July 19, 2006

How To Ruin Pride and Prejudice

The following are actual lines of dialogue from the recent movie remake of Pride and Prejudice. The lines are remarkable mostly for their ability to yank the viewer completely out of the 19th century and plunk him or her into the middle of vapid 21st century mall culture.

  • Charlotte to Lizzy, "Don't you dare judge me!"
  • Lizzy to her family, "Leave me alone for once!

These are the best two examples--there are more but I refuse to rewatch the movie--because they're completely out of line with the mores of the time, disrespectful in the extreme, and when included in speeches lifted directly from Austen, totally jarring.

And that was my main problem with the film--its inability to commit to the time period it was set in. If you're doing a period piece, the audience will accept different patterns of speech and mannerisms in the characters. If you feel that Austen's story needs to be tampered with to make it more "now," then maybe you shouldn't undertake the project. It was like the director wanted to "modernize" P&P; but still remain faithful to the original. This cannot be done. If you want to modernize P&P;, then don't set it in the 19th century. Do a Clueless, instead, which was a modernized "version" of Emma, and was actually kinda cute.

My other main problem with the film was the insistence on "instant chemistry" that the director kept forcing--P&P; is about two people overcoming unfavorable first impressions, for crying out loud! Plus it takes them a YEAR to figure it out! Darcy didn't have enough time to go from "not nearly handsome enough to tempt me" to touching Lizzy's hand when she left Netherfield with Jane. And that weird almost-kiss between Darcy and Lizzy immediately following the botched proposal at Rosings--I'm sorry, but WTF? That argument was full of repressed passion, sure, but not the kind that has you tearing your clothes off in the rain! I know we only had two hours, but it still felt rushed and wrong.

And WHY are the characters spending all their time standing in the rain, and striding manfully across the moors with their coats open, and visiting inappropriately at all hours of the day and night? What is this, Wuthering Heights does Meryton?

Urg. Just, urg. I'm going to have to go back and watch the A&E; version to cleanse my brain.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:19 AM | Comments (6)

July 06, 2006

The Manolo's Word is Law

At least when it comes to Crocs.

Seriously, what he said.

If you aren't 10 years old, a chef, a medical professional or a gardener, you have no business wearing shoes in public that make you look like a plastic-footed muppet with orthopedic issues.

One would think we'd have learned the "plastic shoes suck" lesson after jellies, but apparently not.

And after seeing more than my share of gigantic grown men in pairs of bright blue, green or red Crocs last summer, I realized that it really isn't possible to affect a dumber sartorial choice than crocs and shorts, except maybe crocs and capris, or crocs and jeans, or crocs and skirts.

I mean, news flash--they're ugly, and not in the crunchy granola, my shoes signify my lifestyle choices and politics Birkenstock kind of way, either. They're just ugly-ass shoes. Plus, they draw everyone's attention directly to your feet. Most people don't need attention drawn to their feet, particluarly if the feet in question have been transformed into garish rubbery-boat-bedecked monstrosities.

If it's comfort you're after, purchase some custom-made orthopedics and move on.

Or go barefoot.


Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:59 AM | Comments (13)

June 13, 2006

Makes Me Wish for a Scold's Bridle and a Margarita

It's my considered opinion that the biggest detriment to the feminist movement in the 21st century is all these women writing books about:
a) The betrayal of the feminist movement
b) The perils of being a stay-at-home mom who is so freaking competetive she makes herself miserable (emphasis on the phrase MAKES HERSELF MISERABLE)
c) The crushing burden of liberal guilt when it comes to dealing with cooks and nannies.

File Linda Hirshman under option "a."

I just read four tedious pages which can really be summed up like this: It's not fair that women have wombs, families are a punishment and men should be forced to join in this punishment with women, religion is scary, evil and oppressive, and what's wrong with you that you aren't out there pursuing power and wealth? Oh, and by the way, if you say you "chose" your life, you're lying to yourself, because the only true choice is to choose to work in the pursuit of power and wealth.


This overabundance of sanctimonious, judgemental harpies in all three categories who are hell-bent on "saving women," really just makes me want to go on a three-day killing spree.

Love, trust and self-confidence are what make a good marriage, good family, and a good career. Replace any of those with just a "love of work," or "shared housework," and it's not going to make you a more fulfilled person--take any of them away and I can pretty much guarantee you'll be miserable, no matter how many revolutions you're fomenting.

It's as though Hirshman thinks you can take some sort of tally-board approach to fulfillment, which completely disregards things like human emotion, love and personal sacrifice--which we do make for people we care about. And not just women.

But I guess all that pales in comparison to the fact that someone with a PhD isn't out there PhD-ing like crazy, dammit! Plus, you start talking about love and sacrifice and you're verging into scary Jesus-land. And we can't have that; I mean, Jesus was a man! Proof positive that God is just a damn misogynist.


Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:54 PM | Comments (8)

May 25, 2006

For the Record

I would just like to officially go on the record as stating that if I ever hear any of you using this term:

Intentional strategies

Within my earshot, I will pull out your nose hair and strangle you with it.

"Intentional strategies?" Because they're intentional as opposed to what, all those unintentional strategies we've been creating for all these years?

Strategy implies intent, people. It means that you're thinking about something enough to make a plan. THAT is intent! When you put intentional in front of something that implies intent to begin with, then you're intending to have intent, which--um, yay for you, captain redundant--makes me inattentive, because you have demonstrated that you are a moron with no grasp of the english language and I am therefore free to ignore you. ARG.

I blame corporate America, with its "if using one long word to describe something is good, then sticking another long word in front of it is better!" style of communication.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:47 PM | Comments (2)

May 16, 2006

Please Cancel My Membership

In the club known as "feminism." I'm done, I'm out, and I've had it with sanctimonious beyotches telling me that I can't be truly concerned with the plight of women everywhere if:

1. I don't believe women are victims.

2. I do believe women are victims.

3. I like porn.

4. I don't like porn.

5. I hate abortion.

6. I'm all about the fetus-scrapin'!

7. I wear makeup and pay attention to fashion.

8. I don't wear makeup and think that fashion magazines are an evil plot to promulgate anorexia and poor self-image in women.

9. I'm a stay-at-home mom.

10. I'm a working mom.

11. I'm a mom who uses "culturally loaded" and "non-values neutral" terminology like "stay-at-home" or "working" when I describe myself.

News flash, professional uterus-having pundit types! You don't get to decide what is or isn't feminism based upon what aligns with your politics.

The point of feminism was freedom, right? Giving women the same freedom, via equality under the law, to make lives for themselves--the same freedom men had taken for granted all along. And now that we've got the freedom, and are actually exercising it, folks are all "Oh, no no no! That's not what we meant by feminism! I mean, sure, you can be free to choose, but if you choose X, then you're not really one of us!"

Feminism isn't a club. And if you try to make it one, I will toss my ovaries at you as I walk out the door.

This little hissy fit has been brought to you by the handwringing of the womb-having over Caitlin Flanagan's new book, and by Nora Ephron, who sucks.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:51 PM | Comments (9)

January 13, 2006

Brief Pop Culture Digression

Why did they make a sequel to Underworld? Why? WHY? Was it because they figured that so few people had seen the first one that maybe they could pretend that THIS movie was the first one? Because if you've seen the first Underworld, there's just no way. I mean...2 hours of fetish wear and languid vampires and torturing a piece of befuddled beefcake just wasn't compelling enough to scream sequel, you know?

But hopefully you don't know, because that means your retinas were spared the first movie.

On a related note, I was reading an article about King Kong today, and how even though it's grossed $500 million so far, people are still calling it a disappointment, because apparently Hollywood thought ONE movie could singlehandedly save them from the ticket slump. Then they went and got all introspective about what went wrong, and completely missed the point, again.

It wasn't the fact that the main character was CGI. It wasn't too much hype. It wasn't the marketing department, period, people! The problem is that you seem to think that the marketing department is somehow magically responsible for making people go to the movies. NO! NO! A WORLD OF NO!

Moviemakers are responsible for that, by making movies that people actually want to see! Apparently, said moviemakers haven't been holding up their end of the deal lately.

Nowadays when I go to a movie and sit through the previews, I have a mental category list that I sort them into:

  1. Oh, hell no.

  2. Netflix and don't tell anyone.

  3. Netflix and be proud, because it looks decent but it's just a dang hassle to get to a movie.

  4. Will suffer through it for my kid--maybe.

  5. Am curious and will call up a girlfriend to go with me.

  6. Must. See. Now!

The majority of the previews I sat through in my Christmas movie forays fell into the "Oh, hell no" or "Netflix to my secret shame" categories. And this is bad because studios start hyping the big summer releases during Christmas, which means that this summer's selection will likely suck.

And that bums me out, because I actually enjoy big summer stuff blowing up in the dark or goofy people making me laugh movies, and I like my fall selection of smaller, darker films.

Surely someone out there can put down the heavy mantle of "I must share the TRUTH with the world!" long enough to make a movie that doesn't preach, pander or preen.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:59 PM | Comments (6)

October 20, 2005

Hell no, I won't gaucho.

It's Fall 2005, the time of year when I put away my summer clothes, pull my winter stuff out of storage, get disgusted and toss half of it out the window, and then go shopping. But I'm thinking that this year I'm gonna skip the shopping part. Why? One word: Gauchos.

The hell, people. Gauchos? GAUCHOS? At least capri pants have that kicky "Annette Funicello at the beach party cookout with all the wacky cool kids" vibe. Do you know what sort of vibe gauchos have? They have the "mid-70s shag haircuts strung out hungover why do I look like a cross between a pirate and a South American cowboy" vibe!

I do not understand why these fashion types have to go around messing with my pants! Either I'm showing more crack than a drug dealer or I have pants that can't determine whether they want to be Really Long Flared Shorts or a Mid-Length Skort.

I suffered through gauchos as a third grader. I particularly remember a pair of bright orange polyester gauchos that I paired with a matching vest over a rainbow striped polyester turtleneck, and topped off with brown boots, buck teeth and an ill-informed short shag haircut. I do NOT need fashion flashbacks to that particular era, people. It was like everyone was on the bad acid, even elementary schoolers.

Can someone call me when we've returned to the Land of Pants that Don't Endanger My Buttocks, My Calves, or The Eyes of Innocent Passers-by? Thanks. I'll just be over here in my sweatpants awaiting your call.

And do not get me started on the flowing bohemian look. I do not "flow." I do not "boheme." There are no shawls, lace tops, bell sleeves or gypsy skirts in my closet. I do not see the point in paying $100 for something that makes me look as though I live in my car with a colorful band of minstrels and mischief makers, or as though I wandered out of the Renaissance Faire and forgot to take off my costume.

Hey, designers? Remember the 30s and 40s? Clean tailored lines that made people look pulled together? Remember when looking like a bag lady, an unemployed mystic or a polyester throwback was something to be avoided? I do. Fondly.

I have suffered through the retro turbo-slut wear, telling myself that it too shall pass. I have managed to ignore the shrug, because it's just too bizarre for words. Heck, I've even cautiously embraced tweed and the color orange! So don't think I'm not trying, here. But I've gotta have some help, and you're not being forthcoming.

I am begging you. Go into rehab, get clean, and then return to your drawing boards. America will thank you.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:09 PM | Comments (6)

September 06, 2005

Dark Mood. Bring a Flashlight.

Perhaps it's the non-stop 24/7 Katrina coverage that I am unable to tear myself away from: full disclosure - my job entails watching news and reading newspapers both in print and online, so it's not like I can turn this stuff off. And the position of forced voyeur into unrelenting human misery--well, it does take a toll on one's views on humanity after a while, not that I was all that impressed with my fellow man to begin with.

Perhaps it's the culmination of a bunch of minor and not-so-minor disappointments in real life, or maybe it's just an incipient mid-life crisis, but for whatever reason, I am feeling rather dark, verging on vicious.

I like to try to keep the mood around here as light as possible, preferring hyperbolic rants played for laughs over straight vitriol, but I'm finding it hard to do that lately.

So, until I get my head out of darkspace, posting will be somewhat light in this space.

Plus, no one here really needs to know what I think about men who cry EVERY TIME they address an audience. And that last bit was left deliberately vague in order to avoid uncomfortable scenes with those of you who know me and the weepy man in real life.

Then again, maybe I just need a beer and a dog who refrains from regurgitating entire rabbit carcasses onto my freshly steam cleaned carpets.

But mostly I need beer.

In the meantime, here's a really long article by Charles Murray (remember The Bell Curve controversy, anyone?) on the recently released studies into differences between male and female IQ. Read and be provoked.

Via AL Daily

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:56 PM | Comments (9)

August 31, 2005

Hurricane Over. Now Let's Get Straight to the Blame.

Hey, here's a novel idea--let's not.

I'm not interested in theories blaming global warming, zionist conspiracies, or a laser blast from planet Zabox for the hurricane.

I'm also not interested in people standing around wagging fingers, saying, "Well, they knew this would happen eventually. Why didn't they plan better?" Or, "Why aren't they getting HELLLP?!? It must be because no one cares!!!" Uh-huh. Or it could be because a major natural disaster makes things like transportation and resource mobilization a tad difficult.

Yeah, you bloggers and reporters on dry land with electricity, ac, and, oh, your lives--I'm talking to you.

How about we do something radically different, like shut up and help? The Monday morning quarterbacking can wait a few months; at least until the city's dry. Then you can cavil all you want without fear of being backhanded.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:57 AM | Comments (25)

August 30, 2005

All Hail Hedonism!

Well, not really. I'm not about to don my furry costume and head to the nearest fetish convention, or rally around the NAMBLA flag.

But I am pissed off about what I like to call "selective puritanism," the push to rid society of "evils" that don't really have a moral component but that everyone can agree on and are thus non-controversial and easy to oppose.

Like snack food, for instance. It's bad! BAAAAAAAAD! Ban it! Cigarettes? You should be taken out and shot for merely THINKING about nicotine! Dodgeball? Why, it's the very Hand Of Satan, coming for our precious children! But alcohol and some casual drug use, which can be just as physically harmful, is still socially acceptable--the same soccer moms railing about Doritos are toking it up on the weekends. I have to wonder if they suffer moral pangs while in the throes of the munchies...

The cynic in me believes that it must just be easier to ban things that don't make life aesthetically pleasant, like fat people and cigarette smoke, while keeping the ones that allow us to pretend that we aren't the problem, like booze and drugs. But that's a bit dark, even for me.

It's almost enough to make me a libertarian. It's definitely enough to drive me to drink.

Inspired by this article.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:53 AM | Comments (4)

August 15, 2005

Damn Good to be Here. Not.

Okay, people. Is it too much to ask that you just hold it together for the one week--ONE WEEK--that I was on vacation?

Apparently so. I spent a blissful week in the Redneck Riviera, troubled only by the failure of my 30+ sunblock to, you know, BLOCK THE SUN, and then I return home, a bit itchy and peely, but still all eager to catch up on what I've missed.

Dear God. This is what I've missed? The nationally televised mental breakdown of a suburban housewife in a ditch in Texas? Who has now moved beyond simple anti-war polemic to tax evasion and delusions of foreign policy wonkdom? And whose husband is divorcing her mid-ditch freakout?

And I thought Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede was vapid. At least it had live ostriches and a pig race.

On days like today, I find it is much simpler to just hate everyone and everything and be done with it. It saves a lot of time, and I could use that time to do something constructive, like replay all of Diablo II as a crazy bald barbarian dude.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:34 PM | Comments (12)

August 02, 2005

Womyn Rant Redux

Okay, what sort of brain trust thought this up? Seriously. I mean, I know that NARAL is not what you'd call a "middle-of-the-road" organization, but hello? They couldn't have done a better job of making themselves look like dumbass idiots if they'd hired Karl Rove to do their fundraising planning for them. "Screw Abstinence?" Why, because you can always get those inconvenient fetuses vacu-sucked right out of your uterus if they show up? Because STDs are so reliably prevented by condoms--NOT? Because you're a vapid poseur who thinks that a "clever" event title won't in any way mar your attempt to disassociate the "right to abortion" from the idea that women use abortion not as a "tragic last resort" but as invasive, bloody birth control? Stupid cows. Here's a gun. Your foot is that large thing below you on the ground. Good luck with that.

Crap like that is almost enough to make me side with Sheila Jeffreys. Well, no, not really. I've never been down with the whole "I'm a political lesbian all sex is rape ohmigod PATRIARCHY DIE DIE genderless society uber alles" crap, because I am proudly prejudiced against reality-challenged nonsense. And I'll pause here while Hublet sighs in relief.

However, I am fascinated by the ways in which extremely militant feminists often intersect with right wing attitudes toward sexuality--condemning porn and sexual libertarianism. Of course, their arguments come from the opposite extremes of the political spectrum, but in a broad sense they are all about the same thing--the dirty little secret that by sexually saturating our society we may be doing more harm than good.

Read the Jeffries article. Yes, you'll roll your eyes so hard that they might fall out of your head, but it's still interesting.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:36 AM | Comments (4)

July 26, 2005

Must Love Children

In the past couple of days I've come across a sentiment in two different forums that is beginning to bug me. Okay, perhaps "bug" isn't the right word. Read on--I'm sure you'll figure out what the right word is in time.

My first encounter happened whilst I was perusing the local news rag. There's a parenting advice columnist in there who I enjoy reading, mainly because he goes staunchly against the conventional child raising wisdom--that is to say, he believes that children are capable of being polite, well-behaved, and respectful of their elders, and doesn't mind telling people so. Unsurprisingly, given today's climate of "I can't discipline my darling angel even if she really needed it, which of course she doesn't, and isn't it cute how she spits on strangers and climbs the walls like a kitten on acid" child raising, the columnist received a letter from a reader asking if he actually LIKED children. Because God knows you can't advocate yucky unpleasant things like discipline and still LIKE children--that's unthinkable!

Then today I came across a throwaway line from Matt Yglesias describing a David Brooks column - "I love family values but hate actual children." So I went and read the column, a pretty pedestrian humor piece like those we've heard from a million different comedians complaining about being trapped at 30,000 feet with toddlers. Incidentally, the piece never contained anything approaching the "all children must die" sentiment that tripped so pleasingly off of Captain Glib's keyboard in his summary.

You know the saying--two makes a trend, right? Yeah. Sound the warning klaxons, people, because I'm about to go off:

Children are not the grand high holy apex of the universe, okay? A miracle? Sure! Cute? Sure! Creatures that require patience and understanding? You bet! They are also a giant vortex of time-sucking, selfish, uncontrolled impulses bundled up in matching togs from Baby Gap. Curbing their irrational impulses (or wishing that the panty-waist loser parents next to you in line or at the store would do so) will not stunt their growth, result in astronomical therapy bills, or herald The End Of The World As We Know It, OMGWTFBBQ!!! Stopping little junior from climbing the stacks in the local Barnes and Noble or encouraging him to use silverware in a restaurant does not mean that you hate children.

Who the hell came up with the idea that it's "cute" and "empowering" to have a couple of tiny smartasses walking around and sassing grown-ups? 'Cause it's neither, and the only reason that kids like that manage to remain upright in my presence is because I was taught self-control. As a child, I might add. And I don't seem to have a problem with expressing myself OR with my self-esteem.

I have had it up to here with the cult of freaking personality, the "me-me-me I must express my unique flower-hood for the world to see and everyone has to put up with it but if you offend me I shall moan piteously and gnash my tiny little teeth" crap that leads to laissez-faire parenting and children who I would gleefully see bundled off to Oliver Twist's orphanage. Hey parents? Grow up. And if you can't manage that, then please, for the rest of our sakes, fake it. And if you're afraid that your kids might not "like" you if you discipline them? Oh, dear God. Call me when you return from orbiting whatever planet you're on, because it isn't your job to be your kid's buddy, okay?

Oh, and for the rest of you idiots out there who think that asking parents to take control of their parenting means that the asker hates children? Call me when you've read a book from cover to cover that doesn't have pictures on every page.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 04:29 PM | Comments (11)

July 11, 2005

Because it's not really weather until Geraldo shows up

So, the family took a long weekend to travel hither and yon across our fair state, visiting grandparents and eating fatty restaurant food.

Being cut off from the online world is usually something I look upon as either "a nice vacation" or "a necessary evil," depending on what's going on. Since last Thursday, the day we left, was marked by terrorists trying to blow up London, I was definitely in the "necessary evil" and moving toward "extreme and painful withdrawal" camp.

But there was always the sweet, sweet balm of cable news to tide me over, right?


WRONG. Do you know what I was confronted with each and every time I tried to access some 24 hour news? A freaking rainstorm, that's what! And don't give me, a survivor of Hurricanes Hugo and Fran, any guff about being "insufficiently concerned" about the "dire peril" of my "Florida neighbors." Listen. Those folks know how to handle themselves in hurricanes. They do not need troops of morons driving around in SUVs across flooded highways, reporter-esses in cutesy ball caps pointing to debris with exclamations that run along the lines of, "Boy, that wind sure did blow hard," Soledad O'Brien's "concerned face," which is possibly the scariest thing I have ever seen on television, OR Geraldo freaking Rivera standing on a beach in the panhandle being, well, Geraldo freaking Rivera! GAH! DOUBLE GAH!

People were being blown up! And all I got was shot after shot of stupid ass no talent talking heads having their immobile hairdos teased by a stiff breeze. Screw you guys! Had Soledad and Geraldo actually been blown into the sea and swept out of sight, well, THAT might have been newsworthy. It definitely would have renewed my faith in a wise and omnipotent Almighty.

Sigh. Anybody out there wanna buy me a laptop with wireless?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:46 PM | Comments (2)

June 28, 2005


I have a confession to make--I'm very easily irritated. Yes, I know. It's difficult to face my admission of weakness, particularly as I'm such a paragon of all the other worldly virtues--stop laughing.

I remind you of this personality quirk of mine so that you will be able to properly contextualize my next statement, which is: watching other people parenting their children in public is hell. And not of the run-of-the-mill, flamey variety. Nope, we're talking 9th level frozen wasteland, hangin' with the Big L himself hell.

The following is a true story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of the last week of swim lessons. The Boy was excited, and had fun bouncing and paddling around the shallow end. Except his favorite teacher--Miss Melly--was absent, and I was wondering how The Boy would handle the lack of personalized attention. Miss Scarlett is not, how do we say, overly attentive to the kids she drags around the deep end. But that's understandable--there are 2 teachers, and one of them has had to spend almost an hour every evening trying to coax one kid into the pool, which leaves Scarlett to deal with the other five children, including Ahab.

Ahab doesn't listen. Ahab runs around. Ahab jumps out of the pool. Ahab goads his sister into equally foolish behavior. Ahab, in short, is probably a bit too immature to be in the swim class, for which the instructions clearly state "Child must be able to leave parents and follow instructions in a group." Ahab's got no problem with leaving, but the rest of it is right out.

And so after a few days of this, the swim teachers decided that if Ahab couldn't follow instructions, Ahab would have to have time out until he could "get his listening ears on." Which, okay, I don't have a problem with. 2 teachers, six kids, 40 minutes, no time for dealing with behavior problems.

Here's what I do have a problem with, because here's what I overheard Ahab's mom telling another mom poolside,

"Well! They keep threatening him with time out. He just needs more direction. I don't know what their problem is."

Lady, the problem is that your kid can't follow instructions. Period. And it's not like the instructors are barking out choreography for a synchronized swimming contest--the instructions consist entirely of: Hold your noodle! Kick your feet! Don't splash the other kids!

The secondary problem is that while everyone else recognizes that Ahab's antics distract the teachers and take time away from the lesson, Ahab's mom is oblivious to the fact, as she's convinced that her potbellied angel with the bowl cut can do no wrong.

And so she marches over and delivers a condescending lecture to the instructor in the ways of the Force as it pertains to her child, undercutting any semblance of authority that the instructor has. And don't think Ahab doesn't notice. Meanwhile, MY kid and the others are left adrift with their noodles. But, you know, screw them, right? Poor innocent Ahab might have to suffer the slings and arrows of "time out!"

I am SOOOOO looking forward to the numerous permutations of "Ahab-Mom" that I'm going to encounter in elementary school, on little league fields and at community pools. Not.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:56 AM | Comments (7)

June 07, 2005

Empathy? Screw You.

Well hello, summer! Nice of you to drop by--nothing like a slow cool May followed by the soggy, humid boot in your butt that is 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Especially thoughtful of you to arrive over the course of a 24-hour period. Perhaps next time you could give me more than one day's notice before you ruin my life? Because ruined! My life! You have! What do you mean, I've watched the Yoda portions of the original trilogy too much?

Well, that's not exactly true. I can't blame my current highly irritable state on the weather, although it tends to work for Lileks--dude, I love your stuff, but just move already. It'll be winter again in, what, a month and a half? Don't fall prey to the false sense of security that a bit of sun provides. You live on a freaking tundra! Flee! I've been to Arizona and it truly is fabulous. Not fabulous enough for me to give up my easy access to the ocean, the mountains, and the West Nile virus, but it's plenty fabulous all the same...

But I digress, as usual. I am irritated. Because as mentioned previously it is summer, and summer equals mellow. And I am looking around, and all I am seeing is bitter, scared little pissants who are harshing my mellow! Would you like a list? Well, you're getting one.

1. Atlantic Monthly, you are dead to me. I know that I've threatened you in the past, but now I am serious. I mean, it's one thing to constantly predict DOOOOOOMMMMMM concerning current events, because, hey--at least there's a case to be made from actual evidence at hand, but now you've sicced your personal black cloud of pessimism, James "Why Do I Bother to Get Out of Bed in the Morning" Fallows on the future. On the year 2016, in fact. Guys? It's just as likely that we'll have flying cars by 2016 as it is that James "My Track Record is Impeccable if You Ignore the Articles I've Actually Written" Fallows will correctly predict our financial future. But thanks for playing. Oh, and maybe the next time you hire a french dude to follow in the steps of Tocqueville you might suggest that he visit locales that don't just confirm his preconceptions about America. But I understand why you didn't--it would detract from that inexplicable sense of superiority that makes continental europeans so dang fascinating. Or irrelevant. I never can get those two things straight.

2. Faux "documentaries" from the future. The hell, people. First we have an overwrought two hours about how Old Faithful is a SUPERVOLCANO that is ready to BLOW STEAMY FLAMING DEATH ALL OVER AMERICA OH MY GOD!!! and then last night it was two hours of OILSTORM OH MY GOD, the better to get all those end of days folks frothing and foaming at the mouth. Guys? Here's $100.00. Purchase your black Nikes and prepare to board the mother ship, because you are dead to me. What, you can't find enough riveting human tragedy in, say, Rwanda or Darfur? Oh, right. Those folks are too distant for middle America to relate to. And also, they're the wrong color, and nothing blows up so much as it slowly starves to death or gets dismembered. My bad.

3. The death of empathy via academia. Time was writers could create any characters they wanted to in their fiction. They used two tools--empathy and imagination. Well guess what, writers? No more of that! If you aren't a transsexual female of color you can just forget about writing about one, no matter how empathetic you are, because you aren't an "authentic" representative of a tiny balkanized community. Hey, literary diversity police in publishing? DROP DEAD.
UPDATE: Hublet corrected me - Article I refer to in the above paragraph is from the New Criterion - link here. Will erase the rambling paragraph from earlier...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:09 AM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2005

Good Humorless

This is why I will never, no matter how destitute or desperate I become, turn to driving an ice cream truck for a living: teenagers.

Actually, it's also why I will never, no matter how much I like teaching, go back and get certified to teach public schools. Because I think that had I been in the position of the Good Humor Man (thanks, Irony!), I wouldn't have bothered to pummel the foul-mouthed kid--I probably would have run him over with my truck.

See, I am not a patient person. My patience wears especially thin when I am forced to deal with marginally intelligent beings who posess inexplicable feelings of entitlement. And if some pudgy fourteen year old were to fling an f-bomb my way; well, let's just say that sometimes I believe that acting one's age entails proving that older folks are indeed bigger and stronger than younger ones, and that this means that the younger ones might want to watch the 'tude, yo, lest the crazy woman get medieval on they asses at the corner of Smackdown and Jabroni.

And please spare me the "you're an adult, shame on you, you should know better" sob story crap. Because the adults who should know better are the over-indulgent parents who raise children to believe that the best way to get along in the world is to treat everyone else like dirt. Yes, this guy broke the law, and yes, he got what he deserved for it. In a perfect world, the teenager would have also learned a little something about deportment; namely that a lack of deportment can result in a fat lip and busted bike from a stressed-out ice cream vendor. Alas, this doesn't seem to be the case, and I blame the parents.

How do I know it's the parents? How's this for a clue:

The teen giggled as Didiano recounted the obscenities directed at him.

Didiano, who worked for Paul's Ice Cream Co., served up his own frosty insults.
"I told him he didn't need any ice cream anyway because he's fat," said Didiano.

The teen, about 5-foot-5 and 140 pounds, responded by calling Didiano a "bald (expletive) ripoff." Didiano later attacked when he found the boy sitting on a bike two blocks away.

Assistant District Attorney Dan Regan presented photographs of a red-faced victim with a cut inside of his mouth.

"He instigated the whole thing," said Didiano, who is looking for a new job.
The teen's mother said she's satisfied with the verdict, but complained that her son is now self-conscious about his weight.

"This has been a nightmare," she said.

Lady, the only nightmare in your vicinity is 5-foot-5, weighs 140 pounds, and thinks it's cool that he called a service worker a "bald fucking ripoff."

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:33 PM | Comments (4)

April 11, 2005

And on the Eighth Day

God created a Vision Team, complete with sub-teams for Mission Statement and Vision Statement.

And the lamentations of the people were great, indeed.

One of my biggest peeves with Modern Organized Religion (now with new improved Protestant flavoring!) is the idea that it's not enough for the church to serve as a gathering place, dissemination point for the word of God, and support for the community at large. Nope, the church now has to have an overarching Vision Thing. Because apparently those 10 Commandments that Moses toted down Mt. Sinai and all the letters of St. Peter aren't doing an adequate job of Defining the Church's Mission. Because "Do Good and Try Not to Suck" doesn't sound high-falutin' enough. And "Go ye therefore and teach all nations" is no longer representative of the goals of our "core audience." So our church will now have a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement.

All hail the new improved Methodism v2.0! I'll just be over here in the corner, cursing The Enemy and his latest assault on humanity--corporate speak in the church. And waiting for the inevitable appearance of Successories posters in the narthex.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:29 PM | Comments (6)

March 30, 2005

This Guy is a Lawyer?

To paraphrase The Onion, Holy F***ing S**t!

Here's the article I read that piqued my interest--yeah, it's NRO, so know where it's coming from ideologically, but Felos does a more than adequate job of painting himself as a bit, um, Out There.

So then I went to the book's website, just to see if there was more of the same. Guess what? There was.

I would like to state for the record that I never, EVER want legal representation from someone who goes around soul-touching, all willy-nilly. It's my soul, and I'll thank you to keep yours off of it. PARTICULARLY if you're going to come back and tell everyone that what my soul really, really wants is to be free of my body--and they're all going to believe you! Holy F***ing S**t!

I guess when I think about lawyers and souls at the same time, it tends to be more in terms of "soul-sucking parasites," so perhaps this is just my paranoia talking. Also, I tend to be wary of people who go around straight-facedly proclaiming themselves to be agents of God, primarily because those folks tend to have--how shall I put this--an inflated sense of self-importance. I believe in God, sure. I tend not to believe in mortals who make insane amounts of cash while proclaiming themselves His personal agents on earth. Although I have to admit that holy hubris coming from a lawyer instead of a televangelist is an interesting turn of events.

But maybe all of this is perfectly rational. You be the judge. Here's an excerpt from Felos' book website:

Intuition does not lie in the rational mind. Sometimes it is "seen" through other centers of the body, such as the heart or solar plexus. Everybody has had that "gut feeling." For me, the experience of intuition through sight is like seeing two different realities at the same time. To use a Star Trek analogy, it's dimensionally multi-phasic. (I wondered whether I could write this book without referring to Star Trek, and didn't get past page three!)

The crew of the Enterprise, beset in one episode by all types of strange maladies, discovered that they were infected by invisible parasitic creatures attached to their bodies. The creatures were unseeable because they existed in another phasic dimension. They occupied the same space and time, but at a different vibrational level. With the benefit of a hand-held "multi-phasic viewing device" constructed by our heroes, they could press a button and observe the creatures on their skin. Release the button and they were gone. Intuitive seeing is somewhat like that for me. A transparent image exists and is there, and then it's not. While extremely subtle, it is also undeniably real.

For me, that excerpt is undeniably real disturbing. But what do I know? I can't see anything with my solar plexus except navel lint.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 04:42 PM | Comments (6)

March 16, 2005

Living Will, Will to Live, Take Your Pick

If I'm breathing on my own, don't kill me. Seriously. Don't take away my food and water, even if I'm kinda drooly and can't talk. DO NOT KILL ME. And also? CAT scans would be nice. MRIs would be nice. Use me to test theories about how the brain damaged communicate. You never know.

The older I get, the less inclined I am to be all, "If my life isn't exactly perfect in every respect the way it is now, unplug me," and the more likely I am to say, "Plug me in! Hook me up! Pray for a miracle! I've got a kid I'd like to see again sometime!" After all, I have eternity to be dead in. My time here is much more finite.

And as a side note to Hublet--it's called DIVORCE. If dealing with the (presumably) veg-tastic wife gets to be too much for you, then see a lawyer and divorce my drooly self, preferably before you shack up with someone else and start popping out the kids. Don't get a court order to starve me to death and try to say it's "what I would have wanted" because I told you so in some conveniently unverifiable conversation we allegedly had 15 years ago. Umm, no. If I'm totally brain dead and on a respirator, that's one thing. If I'm awake and breathing and looking around, it's not like I'm going to go gently into that good night with the flick of a switch. I'm going to SLOWLY FREAKING DEHYDRATE AND STARVE TO DEATH. And I'm here to tell you right now that starving to death is most definitely NOT what I would have wanted. Ever. Period. Have a nice day.

And if some boneheaded judge tries to rule to the contrary? Wheel me into his courtroom and let me drool on his gavel. Then knock some sense into him with it.

Update: I'm enjoying the Million Dollar Baby debate, so to those of you who fear you're hijacking the comments--don't. Fear, that is. Not don't hijack the...oh, you know what I mean.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:16 AM | Comments (25)

March 11, 2005

If it's Friday

It must be time for me to bitch about The Atlantic. Actually this month, not so much--pretty good range of articles and reviews, and James Fallows has been relegated to one sad little page of "OMG there's still time for us to loooooooose in Eye-Rack, WTFBBQEleven!!!11" so that's a plus. Cover art? Still ominous in that Jackbooted Thugs Are Going to Eat You and Your Little Dog, Too™ way, but there aren't any actual dead bodies on the cover, so maybe the incipient spring thaw has raised spirits in the art department.

But. You knew there'd be a but, didn't you? The feature story irritated the crap out of me, and not for the reason's you'd think. See, its a feature called "Host," which purports to unravel the great mysteries of talk radio. Well, whatever. I managed to get past the writer's incredulity that radio is a ruthless business and not a vast political conspiracy, because that's frankly the take I expected. Again, whatever. But the thing that irritated the snot out of me was the "look ma! I'm cleverly using color-coordinated sidebars to simultaneously insert myself into the story and show you how High-Larious I am! Woo-hoo! All I need is a quart of tequila and a few hits of acid and I'm Hunter Thompson!"

I don't read news articles for my daily dose of Too Clever By Half. That's what op-eds and blogs are for. Ostensibly, feature articles in serious magazines should be informative. If the article is 12 pages long and only 6 of those pages are dedicated to, oh, I don't know, actual information, then maybe SOMEONE at The Atlantic could have said, "Umm, dude? Can we go just a bit lighter on the 'amusing personal anecdote that highlights the insanity of this crazy host fellow followed by 3 sidebar paragraphs of personal opinion that you'll read because some of the sidebars actually elucidated terminology so you're totally sucked in and at my mercy' stuff and get to the point?" I think the person who normally fulfills this function is called an "editor," but since I don't work for The Atlantic, who knows? Maybe they don't have them there.

Look, I'm fairly media savvy. I know where to go to get the information I need, which is good because I don't have a lot of time to wade through chaff to get to the wheat. Hunter Thompson's legacy has created a helluva lot more chaff to wade through, and I'm more than a little unappreciative.

Let me put it bluntly: reporters? I don't care about you, your life or your experiences. If I did, I'd read your autobiography. If I want your opinions, I'll read your op-eds or your blogs. But this idea that you're somehow as exciting as the subject you're writing about? It's wrong. So very wrong on so many levels that I'm not sure there are enough hours in the day for me to explain the wrongness.

And editors? Stop acting like the parents of the disruptive toddler who think the behavior is "cute" and so encourage the little beast to continue. Either that, or institute a warning label on feature stories that merely "feature" the reporter. It could be something simple, like:


Those of us with busy lives would then be able to pick and choose our reading accordingly. Just a thought.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2005

Things That Will Make Me Hunt You Down

And beat you with my shoe, purse, or car--whatever's handy:

A Moaning Ring Tone on your Cellphone.

What the hell? Having to listen to the first few notes of "Toxic" over and over again isn't nearly annoying enough? Now I have to listen to the aural equivalent of Meg Ryan's diner scene when some moron who can't grok the concept of "put phone on vibrate" is out in public?

Given the audience these tones are aimed at, I would think "vibrate" would have been sufficient for their needs.

On the other hand, those ring tones might serve the useful public service of letting all women within a 10 foot radius know EXACTLY which man to avoid, and letting men know which woman to zero in on.

But as for me, I'll just be chucking a Nine West at the head of the idiot with the pR0n phone.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)

March 04, 2005

Whaddya Mean, "We?"

You know, I've been spending a lot of time on the blog lately railing against stupid women, not all of whom are academics. I was actually hoping to post a huge rant about the Churchill-lite chickie who replaced everyone's favorite faux-Indian faux-scholar at Colorado and invoked the Spectre of the NeoConservative McCarthyite Hilterian Jackbooted Thug of Doom™, but I was sidetracked yesterday by an unepected bout of vomit at mile marker 301 (The Boy's, not mine), and I had to defer my apoplexy for 24 hours, during which time it abated somewhat.

And today, whilst persuing AL Daily, I came across this book review which, in the proud Hunter Thompson tradition, tells me more about the book reviewer than the book being reviewed. I'm thinking that the writer has some Issues, and they aren't with the author. Nope, it's all about Marriage.

Here's the paragraph where my internal monologue went from "blah, blah, blah, yadda yadda yadda," to "who's WE, bitch?":

As a divorced woman in her mid-forties, I am only too aware of the ghastly truth that feminism has never touched. My career is irrelevant. Not having a husband makes me a total loser in the eyes of the world — particularly, I’m sorry to say, in the eyes of other women. We have a dismal tendency to look behind a successful woman, and to pity the poor dear if she hasn’t managed to grab a man and a couple of children on her way up the ladder. She may be successful, we say, but she can’t possibly be happy.

Never mind the fact that this has only tangentally to do with the book being reviewed, which the reviewer later admits is:

This book is a witty, incisive deconstruction of the entire bridal myth. It is not a call to arms. Kingston is not urging us to burn our white frocks. Although unmarried herself, she is not against the institution of marriage.

So what's with this "we pity sad, unmarried women with good careers" crap? I don't pity them, unless they spend every available moment whining about the lack of good men out there, or about how lonely they are. And even then, I don't pity them. I might fantasize about beating them soundly with an issue of Cosmo, but that's merely motivated by my hatred of all things whiny, not pity.

Let me type this once again, slowly, so that my thicker sisters-in-arms will get it: feminism is a means to self-empowerment. Self-empowerment means that we have the opportunity to be as happy and successful, or as miserable and unsuccessful, as we want to be. It doesn't mean that everyone is going to bend over backwards to praise every life decision you make. It requires more than a small amount of self-confidence. And if you think that everyone believes you're a failure because you aren't married, well, forgive me if that still, small voice in my head wonders if you--not the big, bad, amorphous "society," or poor brainwashed female fellow travelers--are the one who thinks you're a loser.

Sigh. I may start filing stories like this under "Reporter TMI Syndrome"--wherein the reporter cannot get past his or her hangups long enough to write a story. Then again, maybe I won't. I have a feeling the file would quickly get unmanageably huge.

But that's a "Dear Reporters: Stop using the press as a self-help mechanism!" rant for another day.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:45 PM | Comments (8)

February 25, 2005


Okay, so I get this email yesterday to the Big Arm account, talking about an upcoming book, provocatively entitled "The 7 Myths of Working Mothers, Why Children and (Most) Careers Just Don't Mix." It includes an invitation to review the book or email the author, and mentions that she (the author) will be appearing on Fox News' DaySide to pimp the book. At first I am intrigued. A free book? That might be interesting. Then I check out the endorsements, you know, the blurbs from folks who just lurved the book, and I notice that Dr. Laura, she of the no sympathy or empathy for anyone, ever, unless you live EXACTLY THE WAY SHE DEEMS BEST, is prominently featured. Those alarm bells? Woah. Ring-a-ling, people.

Look, I'm savvy enough to realize that the Trauma of Motherhood is a multi-billion dollar beast, and that the beast feeds primarily on conflict between working and stay-at-home moms. Hell, they've even turned calling yourself a "working" mom into a slight against stay-at-homes, because it implies that they don't work. Um, no, but thanks for once again addressing an issue by getting self-righteous about terminology, you stupid bastards. But I digress.

Am I the only person in America who's tired of this crap? The DaySide program will feature little miss "careers kill children's souls" alongside little miss "oh, woe is the stay-at-home mommy," the whiny authoress of the correctly much-mocked Newsweek piece. And to what end, beyond ratings and self-flagellation fodder for people who are incapable of making decisions without the approval of some invisible other?

As a third-generation working mom, I must be frank and tell you that I have noticed exactly zero difference between my own levels of self-esteem and socialization and those of my peers whose moms stayed home. And when I was a kid, my mom was the exception to the rule in the middle-class suburban enclave where I lived, so all those feelings of inadequacy that I should suffer from and the resulting mental deficiency should be fairly well pronounced. Strangely enough, they aren't. So I'm a tad sceptical of the studies and scare tactics telling me what will or won't happen to my kid if he is or isn't in daycare.

Hublet and I made choices when we decided to reproduce. He's a teacher, which works well for him both in terms of what he was born to do and having a schedule that will coincide with The Boy's when he starts Kindergarten. I chose a job at a university, because it's a hell of a lot more flexible in terms of getting time off than a comparable job in the corporate world. We use a daycare that I am comfortable with. We made some sacrifices and some decisions and we have a pretty happy kid as far as I can tell. If he turns into a psycho killer in another 15 years, feel free to beat me up with a copy of "The 7 Myths of Working Mothers." Until then, Dr. Laura, the author, DaySide and Newsweek can conveniently store said book somewhere that the sun don't shine.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:26 PM | Comments (13)

February 23, 2005

Employ Me! I Can Be Crazy Too!

So folks are dragging out the tired old "why aren't there more women bloggers blogging on bloggity goodness" meme. Again. I guess this is in response to Susan Estrich's hissyfit about "female voices" on the op-ed page.

As usual, the discussion is much more revealing about the biases of the folks participating in it than it is revelatory about the causes of the dearth of the wimmin.

Which brings me to Ted Rall, whose latest column can be summed up thus: "I thought blogging was cool, but then I saw that all those bloggers don't think exactly like I do, therefore they are EVIL! EVIL! EVIL! I shall hurl meaningless invective through poorly constructed sentences and then pat myself on the back as I cash my paycheck. And oh yeah--McCarthy! Hitler! AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!"

Connection? Well, one of the ideas put forth in the discussion about female bloggers is that women, poor delicate flowers that they are, don't have the chutzpah to make bold, inflammatory statements (either online or on the op-ed pages) and then get into a screaming match with the trolls--or Chris Matthews, whichever--who subsequently show up.

Folks, if Rall's column is an example of the kind of writing you need to do in order to be a successful op-ed writer/blogger, well sign me up. I can be crazy, and I can be crazy in a fair and balanced way. Samples? I'm so glad you asked.

Here's a teaser for a column I wrote for The Guardian:
Karl Rove totally framed Dan Rather! And invented time travel so that he could create the atomic bomb, paving the way for the Cold War and Ronald Reagan! Plus he shoots laser beams out of his eyes, has Scanner powers, and bathes in the blood of infants to ensure his immortality! AAAAAAAHHHHHH! And did I mention that SUVs totally suck and will DESTROY THE WORLD!?!?!? KYOTO NOW! But I totally support the troops, even though if they die they deserve it for murdering babies and shit. Not that they're actually murdering shit, it being not alive, but you know what I mean. And, um, YAAAAAHHHHHHH!

And I'm ghostwriting Ann Coulter's next op-ed, too:
There is a name for evil in this world, and that name is Liberal. While I am firmly pro-life, I am willing to make an exception for these folks. And did I mention that liberals are stupid? 'Cause yeah. So let's all grab our AKs and kill everything that moves! And that's liberal! And, um, YAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Now bring on the trolls! Or Chris Matthews! Or any other spittle-flecked screaming teevee head! I'll kick all y'all's asses! OOH-RAH!

Sigh. It is truly tragic, the way my genius goes unrewarded. If I had known sooner that all I needed to do was lower my standards; well, The Boy's college fund would be complete, is all I'm sayin'.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:43 AM | Comments (7)

February 17, 2005

It's Called Xanax. Perhaps We Should Introduce it Into the Water Supply.

Oh, goody. Looks like as my generation approaches the 40 mark it's our turn to kvetch, complain, hyper-analyze and hand-wring about The Trauma of Being A Woman. Let me take a moment to feel the pain of my sisters...wait. I feel no pain. None. Nada. Zilch. Because I have a hard time getting on the pity train with a bunch of educated, middle-class women in their mid-thirties who are just now figuring out that life is not the freaking Brady Bunch. That maybe there's more to life than getting your kid into a preschool--PRESCHOOL--with tougher admissions requirements than Dartmouth. That the world will not come to a screeching halt if you feed your kid chicken nuggets more than once a week. That dust mites are not the same as E Coli in terms of health hazards. And that your toddler does not give shit one about the color-coordination factor of the art supplies at his Enrichment Program.

Ladies? The fact that you are stressed out and "feeling unfulfilled" has nothing whatever to do with a lack of support by society at large. It has everything to do with the fact that you are so obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses that you are incapable of being your own person. So what if Muffy McDuff of the Mercedes SUV dresses her darling child in Pulitzer and Prada and looks askance at your Subaru wagon filled with bulk buys from BJs? Do you like your kid? Do you like yourself? Do you take the time to just lie on your somewhat dusty floor and wrestle with a giggling toddler? Does your kid laugh a lot, or does he have that pinched, drawn look that you see when you look in the mirror? Kids are pretty easy to deal with. Kick them outside and let them run. Feed them a few times a day. Keep them clean and read them bedtime stories. Tell them you love them. And when they screw up, be honest about what they did, then tell them you love them again. It's not about Quality Time Quotas, Brain Enrichment, or all that other crap. It's called Getting On With It. My grandmother, she of the sixth-grade education and the 14 hour days in the cotton mill and mother of three happy middle-class kids, would laugh in your face for complaining and tell you that these things are NOT HARD. Of course, if you're a status-conscious twit who can't unclench enough to understand that dashing off to K-Mart in your sweatpants is not a sign of abject failure in motherhood, then I imagine things get a lot harder for you.

But don't blame me for your inability to deal with reality. And don't blame society. And for the love of all things holy, spare me your cheap auto-therapy. Because I have no time for you. I'm too busy getting on with it.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:16 AM | Comments (23)

January 25, 2005

Farging Bastiges

Once again, a single bonehead paralyzes traffic in Raleigh. Okay, compared to last week it was no biggie--just an overturned dump truck blocking 2 lanes of the four on 440 and dumping sand all over the place--but still, I think we here in Raleigh have reached our Big Stupid Traffic Jam quota for the winter.

And do you know why the truck overturned? Because it was swerving to avoid a ladder in the road. Which brings me to the subject of my rant: Moh-Rons and their crap-spewing vehicles of doom.

Seriously, if you are toting a bunch of construction-type crap hither and yon, would it kill you to TIE IT DOWN? I cannot count the number of 2 x 4s, hammers, gatorade coolers, assorted bits of metal and trash that I've had to swerve or attempt to center with the car or just grit my teeth and hit, hoping for the best.

And then there was the ladder that fell off a truck directly in front of me while I was hemmed in with a concrete barrier on one side, traffic on the other, and some asshole in an SUV practically in my backseat. There was no swerving or slamming on brakes possible in that situation, so I took my foot off the gas and watched as the ladder casually skidded off the truck and onto the shoulder. I (and the asshole on my bumper) was lucky. The dump truck? Not so much.

So I don't blame the dump truck. I blame the stupid no-driving, unthinking piece of redneck crap who counts on the principle of inertia to keep 83 tons of garbage safely tucked into his Ma and Pa Kettle-Mobile as he barrels along at 75 mph on the highway. Hey asshole? If I find you, I will beat you senseless with your discarded ladder.

And don't even get me started on those alleged "trailers" that are supposed to safely convey lawnmowers and other "light equipment" from point a to point b. I wouldn't tether a radio flyer wagon to my rear bumper with twine, load it with 15 unsecured chainsaws and head for the hills, and these trailers are attached about as securely and are about as durable as the aforementioned child's toy. Heck, the radio flyer is probably more stable.

If you can't secure the load, don't tote it. Don't make me put on my high heels and come over there.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:59 PM | Comments (4)

January 20, 2005

My Wednesday Commute; or, Get the Hell out of my way or I will beat you with my SHOE!

One inch of snow. One lousy, freaking inch of snow and all of Raleigh, NC shuts down. Completely. With Jacknifed tractor-trailers! Stranded school buses! Abandoned vehicles!

It took me from 2:20 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. to travel from my workplace to The Boy's daycare and then home. It is a 22 mile trip. The distance from my workplace to the daycare is 4 miles, which can be covered in about 6 minutes, even accounting for stoplights. Yesterday, it took me an hour. And here's why:

  • The light, fluffy "flurries" that accumulated on the road melted when folks drove over them and then immediately hardened into a solid sheet of ice in the 28 degree weather. Our intrepid "meteorologists" who make a living talking up the slightest little flurry into the storm of the century, somehow failed to mention any of this to the fine folks at the DOT, so there was no salt or sand on the road to melt the ice or give traction. THANKS!
  • The schools all let out early, which meant every single person in Raleigh had to suddenly hit the ice-covered roads at the same time, where they all crashed into one another and created gridlock that would make New Yorkers proud.
  • 99% of the native population seems to think that the best way to drive in ice is to gun the engine and then slam on brakes.
  • The other 1% seems to think that SUV = INVINCIBLE, and then wonders why people are shooting them the finger as they emerge from the vehicle that they rolled in the middle of the highway.
  • Tires with treads seem to be an exotic commodity for the majority of our population. It's called Just Tires, people. There's a franchise on EVERY CORNER. Maybe you should stop in sometime, you know, so that you actually stick to the road.
  • The fastest way to get where you're going is NOT to zoom up to the end of the merge lane and then try to muscle in. Because if you're trying to do it to me, I will cut you off and laugh when you land in a ditch. If you then have the gall to get mad about this, I will beat you with my shoe. A lot. And then I will steal your wallet, find your home address, go there and beat your family with my shoe for good measure. In short, do not piss off the woman toting a Juicy-Juiced toddler through wall-to-wall traffic. I have larger considerations here--like bladder capacity.

Fortunately, there were no casualties caused either by my vehicle or my shoe. My pal Feral Girl had a 6 hour odyssey, so I really shouldn't complain. And yet, I am. Complaining.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:16 PM | Comments (7)

January 11, 2005

The Monthly Journal of Dooooommmmm!

Okay, I don't think it's just me. I think that the editors of the Atlantic have finally gone completely over the edge. Seriously. Look at the the last sequence of covers, starting with September: Gloom, the overuse of sepia and off-center photography, and headlines that run the gamut from "Oh, dear God! Republicans!" to "Oh, dear God! Terrorists!" with a brief stopover each time at "The End is Nigh and it's Bush's Fault!" And after running out of ACTUAL overwrought cover art, the latest issue features computer-generated images of doom. The covers have also lately led the casual peruser of the Atlantic to believe that there is actually only one writer on staff at the magazine, a certain James Fallows, whose most recent contributions to the journalistic art have been: "Bush's Lost Year," "Will Iran be Next," and this month's snappy little ditty "Success Without Victory."

Could someone send James Fallows the following memo?

To: James Fallows
From: The Editors

RE: Your latest piece and current mental state

It has come to our attention that your piece for the upcoming issue of The Atlantic, tentatively entitled, "Everything Sucks, So Why Not Kill Ourselves and Get it Over With," contains facts that we cannot verify. There is no hard proof, for example, that Taliban headquarters is located at Halliburton's New York Office Building, that George W. Bush did in fact sign a contract with Satan for the presidency, or that you can tap into terrorist communications via the fillings in your teeth. We understand you've been under a lot of stress lately, James, and the election results have only made that more apparent. Perhaps you could take a week or two off to regroup?


I'm not terribly sure what the target readership is for the Atlantic, but I'm beginning to be convinced that I'm not it. Which is a shame, because this month's issue has some really good stuff in it, most notably Niall Ferguson's piece on American/European relations and Walter Kirn's scathing commentary on academia, education and the meritocracy. His experiences resonate with me quite a bit. And I only got to read the Kirn article because I overcame my first impulse at seeing yet ANOTHER overwrought cover featuring James Fallows' latest dirge and didn't toss the magazine--actually, my first impulse was to set it on fire, but I don't want to scar The Boy for life, so I practiced admirable self-restraint. But seriously, who exactly wants to shell out money on nothing but gloom and doom? What sort of focus-group feedback led the marketing department to say, "No, really. That's not dark enough. We think the next cover should feature a mushroom cloud and a dead puppy. THAT'S when you'll really see the numbers take off!"

Maybe I'll send the Atlantic my own memo:

You hate Bush and blame him for every single bad thing that's ever happened. Ever. I get that. Really. And so does every other benighted soul on your subscription list. I'm not asking you to change your mind. I'm not asking you for unicorns and lollipops. But would it be too much to ask that you maybe feature stories on your cover that won't drive the mentally unstable to suicide? Just once?

Thanks ever so,
Big Arm Woman

I'm not holding my breath. And since I'm trapped in a paid subscription for another year, it looks like I should stock up on matches.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:49 AM | Comments (4)

January 10, 2005

A Giant Crock

Okay, here's why I will never be a successful foodie: I'm too freaking lazy. See, I have this theory about meal preparation: if it takes longer to prepare than to consume, you suffer a net time loss which is simply not worth it. For example--a nice steak with sauteed mushrooms and a baked potato and steamed broccoli or a salad on the side takes about 30 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to consume. You've eaten a nice meal and you haven't lost days of your life in so doing. The 30-minute rule holds true for most of the meals we eat. I do exclude baking time, however, because I can use that time to do something else. No, I don't think that's overthinking the process at all, but thanks for your concern.

Anyway, enter the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog. I love that store, even though all I ever buy from them is hot chocolate mix and rubbing blends for use in grilling. Just breathing the rarified air of Williams-Sonoma makes me feel as though I, too, could achieve effortless culinary masterpieces, casually tossed together in my All-Clad pans over my gas stove in my fabulously well-appointed kitchen. So when I got the latest catalog with its recipe for a Crock-Pot beef burgundy (or beef bourgeinnonneeeesss, or whatever), I was all excitement! I can do Crock-pot cooking! It doesn't violate the 30 minute rule! I can have my foodie cake (or beef bouregeingoengonsg) and eat it, too! Woo-hoo! I tossed the recipe at Hublet on my way to a hair appointment and told him to pick up the ingredients when he went to the store, with visions of an effortless gourmet meal on Monday evening dancing in my head.

Reality tried to intervene, really she did. When I canvassed the ingredients on Saturday afternoon I discovered that Hublet hadn't actually, you know, read the recipe. He'd bought wine and beef, but no veggies or spices. So okay, we had to go back to the store.

Which we did, on Sunday after church, when we were all tired and hungry. Since the local Food Lion doesn't sell Beef Glace', I just grabbed some consomme--it was all going to be cooked down, anyway. Right? So the vision wouldn't be perfect. So I had to make two trips to the store already. It would all be worth it in the end! We finished shopping, went home, had lunch, and retired to bed for the traditional Sunday Siesta.

The Sunday Siesta turned into a three-hour afffair, which threw the rest of the evening into disarray. Suffice it to say that I stood, catalog in hand, over my stove at 10:00 p.m. last night, surveying the paltry one pound of stewing beef Hublet had bought (the recipe called for 5). Arg! Math! And I was going to have to sautee' a whole bunch of crap that included CARROTS, which I HATE, and have to PEEL, and did I mention MATH? Dammit? And then the all purpose flour got out of control, and the garlic had gone bad, and MATH! DAMMIT! And hey, Williams-Sonoma? Sautee' THIS, you sons of bitches, selling me some unattainable dream of culinary delight with no regard for the fact that I'm a working woman with a toddler who won't even eat this crap anyway, and there's laundry to do, and dusting, and, and....OH, SCREW THIS!

And so a whole bunch of crap got dumped into the crock pot, including consomme', wine, onions, garlic, mushrooms, beef, and whatever spices I had handy that might have had something peripheral to do with the recipe, and then I turned it on, threatened Hublet with grievous bodily harm if he said One Word, poured the rest of the wine into a glass and retired to the den to play Spiderman2 on the PS2.

I hate you, Williams-Sonoma. Seriously.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:32 AM | Comments (9)

November 30, 2004

No Sex, Please--I'm Sick of It!

So last night I was watching a Science Channel special on the Bog People--you know, those amazingly well-preserved bodies that have turned up in bogs around Ireland, England, Denmark (and even Florida!)--and I was happily listening to a woman who may be a little bit insane going on about ancient Celts and human sacrifice and how excited she was to see these boggy folk and think about their lives, when the show cut over to two male bog bodies that were recovered in Denmark. No biggie, right? Wrong. Mixed in with the usual "this is how old the bodies were, how old they were when they died, presumed cause of death" scientific stuff was a sudden treatise on how these men might have been killed because they were lovers, OMG Sexshual OPPRESSION among the VIKINGS!

I spilled my wine in my WTF reaction. Seriously, I expect more than a little supposition in these specials because so little is known about the cultures that produced these bodies, but WHEN exactly did science feel compelled to give a nod to the OC, or Queer as Folk? All the scientists have to go on is two dead male bodies that were placed (or tossed, or disposed of, or staked down in a ritual) in a bog at the same time. That's it. Is the Science Channel so desperate for ratings that they have to paint everything with the Sexay brush? Or is everything so sex-saturated that they merely felt that exploring the possible sexuality of a couple of 2,000 year old corpses was a matter of course?

Maybe I've been over-sensitized to this lately because of Alexander--a movie which manages to mostly ignore the amazing battles and accomplishments of an exceptional historical figure in favor of creating a bi soap opera. And maybe I'm a weirdo, but I'm not exactly emotionally invested in who Alexander the Great or a couple of Bog People were or were not boinking, regardless of how cute Colin Ferrell looks in a blonde weave. Have we always been so reflexively "So, are they doing each other" every time we see two people together on screen, or off screen, or in a history book? I understand prurient interest. I know that the hook history teachers sometimes use when teaching about Catherine the Great involves a horse. But lately it seems that we have Lost. Our. Minds. about the whole "who's doing who" thing. And I'm here to politely request that we just knock it off for a while. Or if we can't knock it off, perhaps we can just keep it to ourselves? Please? Because some of us are trying to eat, here.

As usual, it's All About Me, and I've gotta say I reached my own personal sex-life-supposition Ick Threshold when Liza Minnelli married David Gest. I don't want to know about Paris Hilton's stick-figure-populated one night stand, about Tommy Lee and Pam's Hepatitis-iced honeymoon, or whether Thomas Jefferson was getting busy in the quarters. When everything is all about the sex, sex gets decidedly less interesting and a lot tackier. And then you end up with the boinking bog people of lower Denmarkia, or whatever the hell. I'd say that after that we've got nowhere to go but up, but I know I'd be wrong. And there's not enough wine on the planet to help me deal with whatever's next.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:44 AM | Comments (5)

November 09, 2004

Well, Crap.

I've avoided blogging about the intellegentsia's post-election meltdown as much as possible, because, hey! Being bitter after a loss isn't really endemic to any one political party, but I must link to this one piece by Simon Schama, mainly because I enjoyed his History of Britain so much, and so his apparent loss of all deductive skills and sanity hits me hard.

At least he loses his mind in a quintessentially British way, which is to say, with slightly more evolved sentence structure than that of Maureen Dowd, but that's really all this piece has going for it; after all, a mule in horse harness is still just a mule, and condescending bigotry dressed up in ten dollar prose is still just condescending bigotry.

Mr. Schama, if I may be so bold as to point this out--I come from a state which HAS an "outward-looking coastline," I live in an area that actually houses immigrants from Asia, India and Europe and which still went almost completely red. I have LIVED in Europe, although I imagine Scotland is a tad provincial for the evolved tastes of one such as you, and I have an excellent educational background. So I am puzzled, to say the least, by your extrapolation that not only must I be "mythic, messianic, [and] conversionary," in my approach to both life and my fellow east coast denizens, but I must also be a "rock-ribbed" "creationist" who downloads "Pastor John Ashcroft singing the Praises of the Lord right to [my] Godpod."

Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt. Well, I am familiar with both red and blue types, and I tend to reserve my contempt for those whose over-arching self-importance eclipses every other aspect of their personalities, regardless of geographical location, education, or the designation of their voter registration cards. So my contempt of your ill-informed screed is richly deserved.

I think that UN-familiarity is the real culprit in breeding contempt, and that it is possible that the insular, close-minded, fear-mongering folk you ridicule MIGHT reside a bit closer to you than you think.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:53 AM | Comments (14)

October 25, 2004

Worst Breakfast Ever

Dear Kellogg's:

I am writing concerning your new Fruit Loops Cereal With Milk Bar product, which my son and I recently tried as "part of a complete breakfast."

Which part that would be remains a mystery to me, as the entire gustatory experience was certainly not one to which I am normally accustomed. Even now, a full twenty-four hours after unwrapping the lumpy, multi-hued sugar bomb which your company euphemistically labels "food," I am at a loss to pick just one defining portion of the experience.

Was it the strange chemical smell? The unnaturally bright colors? The waxy white sugar paste which I assumed was meant to be the "milk" portion of the bar? The strange textural combination of gluey sweetness and tooth shattering crunchiness? The fact that even attempting to swallow a bite prompted the gag reflex in both me and my son? The strangely bitter, lingering aftertaste that not even two cups of coffee could eradicate? The double vision and DTs caused by my hyper-glycemic reaction? The fact that not even my dog, who regularly eats fecal matter, would touch the leftover portion of the bar? So many choices, all of them equally horrific.

You will be comforted to know, however, that our family has found a use for the remainder of the Fruit Loops Cereal With Milk Bars. We have shipped them to Guantanamo to aid in the interrogation of prisoners. While the US Armed Forces do report a resultant increase in the number of confessions, do not be alarmed if a UN inspector shows up on your premises. I am sure that if he samples your product he will see that it is not a WMD--provided he survives the experience.

Big Arm Woman

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:00 PM | Comments (8)

October 13, 2004

Because I'm Contrary as All Hell, That's Why

Ya know, I can take just about anything European types say about America with a grain of salt, because, well, they're all just so (insert American stereotype of Europe here: cute, quaint, completely meaningless, etc.) and European, but I've got to draw the line at a transatlantic mail campaign to harrass a bunch of folks in some random Ohio county.

Seriously, Guardian, THE HELL? Extreme Self-Importance, much? Here's the Best. Bullet. Point. Ever.:

Explain why you think they should pay the slightest bit of attention to what you think about their election. Remember, charm will be far more effective than hectoring.

Irony actually cracked a rib laughing at that coming from The Guardian, where hectoring is second only to breathing.

It's a cute publicity stunt, I guess, if by "cute" you mean "typically condescending claptrap from a bunch of pseudo-intellectual brits," but it does have some unfortunate consequences, I'm afraid.

See, if our all-knowing betters had actually paused to study the history that they continually SAY they know ever-so-much-more-thoroughly than we do, they might have noticed something about the American character--you know, beyond our obvious six-gun waving, tobacco-spitting, crotch-grabbing bravado and inexplicable belief that things generally don't suck--they might have noticed that we tend to react badly when Britain tries to tell us who our leader should be. We're a bit touchy that way.

And although it would be amusing to see how many folks would deliberately change their vote to piss off some random brit (and I'm sure there are some out there who would), I fear that my own contrary nature, coupled with my Southern distaste for rudeness, have come to the fore. So I have decided to Take One for The Team: I submitted my email address to the Guardian and thus spared one of my Buckeye Brethren from a horrifying confrontation with written condescension. You're welcome, Miller family.

CAVEAT: I know this is The Guardian, with all of the moonbat disclaimers that entails, but still--sheesh! I thought it was The Onion at first.

Via Emily

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:11 PM | Comments (14)

October 12, 2004

News Flash! Reuters Discovers Blogs!

File this under "Oh, Dear God."

Reuters, ever the reliable news source, has discovered that individuals with opinions are publishing them online, and that some of the aforementioned folks with opinions might be, oh, I don't know, biased!

Here's an example of hard-hitting investigative reporting at its finest, folks:

Many bloggers have been so partisan that they have even raised money for the candidate of their choice -- something that has led most media watchers to take much of what appears on the sites with more than a grain of salt.

Oh, you mean "grains of salt" that prompt "serious media analysis" like this:

"Blogs probably pretty accurately reflect the level of polarization and paranoia and frustration among everyday Americans that the entire campaign reflects," said Vanity Fair media critic Michael Wolff, characterizing the new form of overtly-biased journalism as "the voice of the mob."

As opposed to the more polite, less overtly biased and let's not forget "accurate" "journalism" from "sources" like "Reuters" that we've come to love and trust.

I can't decide if Reuters is actually this far behind the times or if this article was accidentally published a year and a half too late. The remainder is formulaic nonsense:

Thrill to the air of intellectual seriousness achieved by the inclusion of quotes from a random academic! Never mind that the academic in question holds the dubious title of "pop culture professor."

Gasp as the internet's dark underbelly--that some denizens of the 'net are certifiable--is revealed!

Freak out completely at the discovery that both the left and the right come under attack online!

And share a beer with Irony when the article glosses over the fact that blogs are popular because the American public has become "increasingly distrustful of mainstream media."

How, oh how could that be? I get the feeling that the folks at Reuters honestly have no idea.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:28 AM | Comments (10)

October 11, 2004

Non-Hyphenated Voter Demographic Manifesto

Dear Pollsters, Demographic Study Makers, Spinners, Marketers and Assorted Faith Popcorn Acolytes:

Hi. Part of what I'm about to share with you will probably be old news; after all, you're all about the data, right? So you already know that I'm a middle-class, female, married, well-educated mom whose hobbies include reading and extremely violent video games and whose turnoffs are bloviating academics, email spam and too much body hair. Yeah. So how about I share something with you that your excruciatingly detailed data about my shopping history may not have clued you in on?

I am not a mindless drone within a voter block. Not a soccer mom, not a security mom, not a crunchy granola stilt wearing ex-hippie mom, not a pro-choice feminist environmentalist mom, nor a SUV-driving "screw Kyoto" mom. I don't take kindly to being lumped into any of these categories, because for some strange and obscure reason, I find it more than a little demeaning that women of a certain reproductive age are subjected to this categorization. You don't hear about the "soccer dad" vote, do you? You don't have academics wetting themselves over the pathetically non-nuanced proletarian threat of the "security daddies," either. What is with you people that you can talk about the "youth vote" or the "AARP vote" or the "conservative base" or the "liberal base" (all of which contain multitudes, thankyewverymuch) but you cannot seem to deal with voting moms unless you've put some ridiculous, outmoded, condescending 19th century throwback piece of shit label on them? Seriously, I read articles fraught with the same sort of breathless horror about the almighty Mom-Voter that used to be reserved for anti-suffrage pamphleting. So I have to ask, what are you people afraid of? That on election day all women will pop two Midol so that our minds will be opened to the Uber-ovary and her voting directions? Or is it that women might be individuals who can make decisions that aren't based upon what they're driving or their kid's choice of extra-curricular sport?

My ovaries are telling me that it's probably the latter. Uncertainty's a bitch, isn't it? And so is this voter.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:41 PM | Comments (6)

October 07, 2004

Sign of the Apocalypse. Or Poor Grammar. Whatever.

Saw this lovely little sign on the side of a beat-up panel truck this a.m.:

Rick's Repair's

So whose is it? Rick's or Repair's?

Ever since I finished Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I see this stuff everywhere.

And my inner English major sheds bitter, bitter tears.

UPDATE: From Naomi's comment and a story forwarded to me by reader Meisha, the immortal words of an artist who created a library mural (irony alert) fraught with misspellings:

"The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people," Alquilar said. "They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."

Congratulations, your work is successful! We're all united in thinking that you can't spell Shakespeare! She adds the following Deep Thoughts In Defense of Illiteracy:

"The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind the words register correctly."

BLAKE? William Blake? Is there some other Blake I'm unfamiliar with that she's invoking here? Because the William Blake I studied never confused creative enlightenment with "freedom from proofreading." And he always managed to spell Albion correctly...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:52 PM | Comments (15)

September 24, 2004

Them. Or They. Or Him. Pick One.

Via fad and reader Sally:

"They" is fighting the power! He's fighting the grammar! And you know what, he's succeeding in driving at least one english major insane, because not only did he force me to write "They is fighting the power," the story about his exploits features this sentence:

"They holds 14 patents including Ground-Effect lighting, used to create a neon glow beneath vehicles and patented in 1987."

Arg. Subject-verb agreement. Pet peeve. Must. Hold. On. Must. Not. Succumb. Arg!

Plus, it's not bad enough that the guy has ruined my day grammatically speaking, he's also the fellow responsible for all those annoyingly distracting puddles of light underneath the souped up pieces of crap the local 2Fast2Furious2Stupid2BReal wannabes drive. Thanks, dude! Not.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:04 AM | Comments (4)

September 15, 2004

Things I am Sick Of

I'm beginning to think that Wednesday is my own personal Vent-Day. I tend to be at my pissiest on Wednesday. Ah well, enough about that. Here are things I am currently beyond sick of:

1. Hurricanes. Seriously, Mother Nature. KNOCK IT OFF.

2. Vietnam. I'm tired of hearing about it. I'm tired of people who cannot seem to get over it. In case you boomers haven't noticed, there are now SEVERAL generations for whom Vietnam boils down to Apocalypse Now, Oliver Stone's Platoon, China Beach reruns, and grainy video of hairy people in fatigues and kaftans alternately dancing around while stoned out of their heads or shrieking at cops in riot gear. That's your legacy, and you want to drag us right the fuck back there in an election year when there's a WAR ON? A NEW war, one which isn't Vietnam? Drop dead. Now would be nice. Because the rest of us are a bit more concerned with, you know, the realities of living in 2004 than we are with your sketchy recollections of 30 years past.

3. My dog.

4. The fact that iTunes does not have Ray of Light available for purchase. I have that on cassette (yes, I was alive during the Stone Age when cars came with cassette players standard, not CD players), and just want two songs off of it for my iPod. Then Madonna and I will part ways forever. But I want those two songs, dammit.

5. Chicken.

6. Phlegm. Mine, Hublet's and the Boy's.

7. These stupid freaking shoes. "Buy the mules with the pointy toes and the tiny heels and the insouciant side bows!" my inner voice said. "They're sassy!" my inner voice said. Hey, inner voice? My blisters and put-upon ankles would like to tell you to shut up.

8. Dan Rather. Your glory days ocurred decades ago. As in, they are over. At least when other 70-something people want to suck me into the vortex of reliving their past they don't use a national media forum to do it.

9. Faux-Eastern influences in hip-hop. Finger cymbals and chanting don't make your music more interesting or exotic. Or, God forbid, good.

10. Paris Hilton. Please make it stop.

There. That's a start. Now to limp off to lunch.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:49 AM | Comments (12)

September 08, 2004

Stop the Fundies! Breed Like Crazed Rabbits!

I must say I was a bit surprised to read this article (via A&L; Daily) which seems to suggest that the best way to restore liberals to power in America is to outbreed conservatives.

The hell? Because apparently ideas are not sufficient to persuade, and besides, EVERYONE KNOWS that you grow up to be JUST LIKE YOUR PARENTS in EVERY RESPECT. It's a sinister plot to take over the world through Womb Power!!! OMGWTFBBQELEVEN!!!!1111!!!

I am particularly amused by the lyrical call to reproduction that sums up the mildly hysterical prose, "If 'Metros' don't start having more children, America's future is 'Retro.'" Guess I'm screwed, then, as I am not fruitful enough to benefit either the Metro OR the Retro crowd.

The sinister evocation of the Mormon Threat is quite good, too. Perhaps we should just cordon off Utah entirely, and then nuke it!

And I would be very interested in NOW's response to the exhortations to breed for the good of the fatherland...has anyone forwarded this to Kim Gandy?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:25 PM | Comments (11)

August 31, 2004

Pray For Rain

Let's get a few things straight about yours truly.

#1: I'm mostly an extrovert. If you're into the Myers-Briggs thing, I'm an ENTJ, which basically means I'm blunt, I'm bossy and I don't care what you think. Feelings? What the hell kind of a pansy ass are you, anyway? Get over it!

#2: I don't like people as a generalized glob. I like most people in one-on-one situations, but when it comes to committees, task forces, panels, large parties, crowds and groups I tend to spend most of my time wishing I had Scanners powers and could make heads explode by sheer force of will.

I realize that some of you might consider an extrovert who hates most people to be an oxymoron, but there you go. I am an enigma. I explain these things in case I need you to testify as to my state of mind in any upcoming trials, because I have recently been appointed to our department's Social Committee. The Social Committee is responsible for planning and executing three yearly social soirees, all of which I hate. As is typical of these corporate cheer endeavors, the committee is comprised of the one person who really gets off on planning parties, and 4 or 5 unwilling representatives who have been pressed into service for the term of one year. Also, the one person who really gets off on planning parties is a moron with no discernable planning skills who cannot pull the trigger on any decision, no matter how trivial, without having a two-hour group encounter session.

We have the fall picnic coming up. Over the course of three one-hour meetings, we have managed to determine that we would like to have a cookout. "Wow," you're saying, "That's a lot of time to come to that decision." Why yes, yes it is. And the kicker is that the decision was ultimately made by Assistant Director fiat, NOT by the committee. "So what did you spend those three hours discussing?" you're asking. I'm SO HAPPY you ASKED!

Apparently the fall picnic needs a theme. Why? I don't know! It's a freaking. Fall. Picnic. Slap some damn mums on the tables, tie some ballons to the picnic shelter, get some poor sap to organize games for the kids, put out the feed troughs and HAVE AT IT! But in bizarro-social-committee world, we need to spend 30 minutes debating whether we should use "Connections" as a theme and then another ten minutes listening to some airhead attempt to fashion an acronym out of the word BINGO. Hello? Earth to spaz! BINGO is a game, not a self-actualization tool!

After the BINGO acronym is shot down (by me, prompting a lovely passive-aggressive "It was just an IDEA" from our little Warren Buffet wannabe) we have to spend another hour or so complaining about how no one ever wants to come to the picnic because the pitiful proles are soooo downtrodden and misunderstood by the evil overlords. Speaking as a prole, shut up. Seriously. Since you work at a State University, your jobs are safe, your benefits are pretty damn good, and your work schedule is apparently flexible enough to allow you hours and hours of time to drink coffee and whine. In my world, working for a university is not a real job. Why the hell do you think I came back to the university to work? Moving on...

The final order of business is the inter-departmental gossip. This would be mildly interesting if I CARED, or if I didn't have, you know, work to do, or if I were talking to anyone but these idiots, but as none of those conditions have been met, I spend the final fifteen minutes of each meeting trying to slash my wrists with an unfolded paper clip and practicing my Scanners look. Thus far, however, the only head in danger of exploding is mine.

The picnic is in two weeks. Pray for rain. And while you're at it, you might want to look into a way to cancel Christmas.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:17 AM | Comments (18)

August 26, 2004


Back when I was a carefree swingin' twenty-something, I used to mock-grumble about something I referred to as "Life's Checklist." Life's Checklist was the litany of questions that carefree swingin' twenty-somethings received from elders and later from the already marrieds among their social sets. The questions were well-meaning small talk, but they always had the effect of making the questionee feel somewhat pressured, even if the questionee was generally well-adjusted and pleased with her life's course. The typical Life's Checklist encounter occurred at a wedding, and went something like this:

Elder: So, I hear you're out of school now. Any plans?

20 Something: Actually, I'm in grad school and thinking about the PhD.

Elder: Ah, sounds interesting. Anyone special in your life?

20 Something: Not right now.

Elder: Yeah, it seems your generation is in no hurry to settle. When I was your age I already had a mortgage and four kids, blah, blah, blah...

20 Something: (downing entire beer in one gulp, looking frantically for rescue) Oh, wow, really? Look! They're doing the Electric Slide! Gotta go!

You'd think that getting a job and getting married would put an end to the Life's Checklisters, but you'd be So Very Wrong. The only thing that changes is the parameters of the list. Here's a remembered conversation from my wedding day:

Elder: Congratulations! You two make a great couple.

Me: (Desperately attempting to get to the buffet while still being polite to my mom's friend whose name I cannot for the life of me recall) Thank you so much. Thanks for coming.

Elder: So, are you planning on starting a family anytime soon?

Me: (downing entire glass of red wine in one gulp) Umm, not this year. Oh, look! They're doing the Macarena! Gotta go!

And then you do have a child, thus rendering yourself safe from the checklisters, or so you think. Again, you'd be So Very Wrong. See, now the elders are off your back about the Big Things--you have a job, you are married, you are reasonably fertile--but Society At Large starts getting antsy. Here's a sample conversation from (pick one) work, church, daycare or the supermarket:

Society Member: The Boy is so darling. How old is he?

Me: He'll be three this year.

Society Member: Such a great age. I bet he'd love a little brother or sister! Are you planning to have any more children?

Me: (caught helpless without an alcoholic beverage or an insipid wedding line dance to rescue me) Umm, maybe. Oh, look! The Boy is playing in traffic! Gotta go!

Where does it end? I got the job, got married, had a child. What's next, people asking me about my DNR orders and the status of my will? I know I'm sensitive, but I feel like I'm being checklisted into an early grave. And what do I get when I cross off all these accomplishments, anyway? A gold star on my headstone?

There'd better be an open bar in heaven, is all I'm saying.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:30 AM | Comments (6)

August 10, 2004

A message for my fellow white office mates

Okay people, listen up, because I'm only going to say this once: PLEASE stop telling me how much you love/respect/admire Denzel Washington, Samuel L Jackson, Morgan Freeman and Halle Berry. No, seriously. I'm not debating their acting ability--they all have it. I'm telling you to stop and ask yourself why you're compelled to mention, every single time a movie with one of these actors in it comes out, how much you lurve them. Really. You don't fawn all over every Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson or Meryl Streep flick. You don't feel compelled to loudly proclaim the fabulousness of their acting chops to everyone in your racially diverse office. Why do you suppose that is?

Could it be that you're so desperate to prove that you're not an evil racist that you're using admiration for actors of a certain hue as a, dare I say it, CODE to prove your faboo openmindedness? Never mind that it comes across as annoying, self-serving, and as a kind of backhanded racism because it's as though you're astonished that ANY "person of color" can manage to be a good actor. Seriously, it's annoying me, and it seems to be endemic to certain intellectual circles, which makes it even MORE annoying. Because the fact of the matter is that if you're truly interested in getting to a color-blind society, or at least a society in which you're dealing with people as people and not as a demographic, continually singling out a particular demographic--even if it's for unmitigated praise--kinda defeats your purpose.

And while the whole "I just love Denzel--he's so talented and handsome" thing seems trivial, when you're in an office peopled with the brainiac hoi polloi who have wholeheartedly embraced the "campus diversity" concept to the point that they've basically resegregated the campus, it's just another reminder that race-obsession is apparently here to stay. And that depresses the hell out of me. Yes, I know that Will Smith has a new movie out. If you want to see his movie, go. If you liked it, say so. If you want to discuss the merits of a character or the film's message, have at it. But try to tamp down the white liberal guilt for a couple of hours, okay? I find that popcorn is so much tastier when you do.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:22 AM | Comments (9)

August 06, 2004

Building a Saner Person: Step 1--Remove Head from Ass

Seriously, this crap sounds just like some of the "discussion" we would have in our Grad level Lit Theory class. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be a parody. The best comments appear before the trolling/mocking/outrage occurs, when the thread in question was being discussed by (I assume) the blog's regular readers. Thrill to the threats against Glen Reynolds' job! Gasp at the unmitigated stupidity! Be not at all shocked by the occasional reference to physical violence!

I have one word for those people: T-Shirt. Well, technically that's two words, or maybe one and a half, but Holy COW!

Look people, if I want unhinged hysteria and meta-interpretation taken to previously unheard of levels, I'll either visit Fandom Wank, where they at least bring the mock, or re-enroll in grad school. Perhaps I could contact the evil Zionist/Mason Cabal and get them to spike our water supply with Xanax, because quite a few people need a time out.

Gotta love the internet. It's just a big ball o' crazy!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:26 AM | Comments (3)

July 20, 2004

Things that Make Me Go BOOOM!

Saw this lovely bon mot on the back of a car today:

Mission Nothing Accomplished
Defeat Bush

Ookay. Vote for who you want. Plaster Kerry/Edwards stickers all over your car. But please, for the love of God, spare me stupid nonsensical bullshit bumper sticker philosophy that you're displaying merely because you thought it sounded good (insert Beavis chuckle here) and you hate the Other Guy. Let me reiterate how much I hate sloganeering bumper stickers and EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HAS ONE right here, by reprinting a fevered rant from November 2002:

If Only I Were In Charge

Bumper stickers would be banned. I do not care who you voted for. I do not care what radio station you listen to, what bands you like, or what sci-fi convention you attended to get that dumbassed "do not meddle in the affairs of dragons" bumpersticker. You are merely a ship (or in this case, a car) passing me in the night. And no offense, but I really cannot be bothered to give a rat's ass about you or your life. So stop trying to suck me into your head via tiny rectangular soundbites of stupidity, particularly when said soundbites make my head explode and I have no recourse for my rage.

This morning I was stuck in traffic behind a 40 year old Toyota that seemed intent on violating every emissions standard EVER. Pasted to the back of this charming vehicle was a red bumper sticker with a heart motif and white writing which read, "Better a bleeding heart than none at all." Because I have a toddler in my car during morning drive time, I was unable to reply appropriately. However, my toddler can't read--and come to think of it, I have my doubts about the owner of the aforementioned maxim, but since this is about making me feel better, I shall vent anyway:

Listen to me, you tin-headed little shit. You are not my moral superior because you ooze emotion over every single example of unfairness on the planet. In fact, you are the opposite, because you obviously lack the judgement necessary to make the tough decisions which will result in material aid to the disadvantaged. I'm sure it makes you feel fabulous to wail, moan and gnash your teeth about environmental injustice while you drive the Pollution-mobile, but I don't see your ass biking to work every morning to spare us your greenhouse gases--the very ones that are now filling my vehicle. The fact that you have bought into the idea that empathy is an either/or enterprise doesn't fill me with optimism about your reasoning skills, either. Either a bleeding heart or none at all, eh? Ummm, no, you freaking moron. The application of logic to emotionally charged issues isn't easy, but it is necessary, and a little more effective than that glib slogan on sticky paper that appears to be holding your vehicle together. You suck.

And don't even start with the free speech crap. It's not free speech, it's guerilla speech. You feel perfectly safe in putting any ill-considered idea on the back of your car, secure in the knowledge that you will never be taken to task for your ideas while simultaneously inflicting them on a helpless audience. I cannot pass you in a traffic jam. I cannot change the channel on your bumper. My only escape from your stupidity is by staring into the sun, which isn't even up yet. You do not have the right to force me to listen to you, and yet you are.

Perhaps if you were required to put your phone number on all the bumper stickers you display, you would think twice about broadcasting your idiocies to the world.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:25 PM | Comments (14)

July 16, 2004

24 Hour Turnaround

The beer is cold, Irony and I are kicked back and ready, so let's cue up Dissent Crush 2: Electric Boogaloo.

I hear it's at least as entertaining as the 7th Police Academy movie...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:47 PM | Comments (4)

July 15, 2004

Cue Whining In 5...4...3...2

Sigh. How long until we get the gratuitous "crushing of dissent/VRWC" posts/soundbites/interviews that will merely serve as a forum for dissent?

I'm taking bets, and Irony's bringing the beer.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2004

I Have a Question

Does anyone take the World Court seriously? No, really. 'Cause when I hear the words "world court" followed by "the Hague," my immediate reaction is a snort of laughter followed by a "whatever" eyeroll and I'm just wondering if I'm the only person who feels that way.

Of course, that's also my reaction when I hear "UN" nowadays, except that I feel compelled to add "corrupt soulless bastards" to the snort and eyeroll.

Maybe it's just me.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:53 AM | Comments (21)

June 22, 2004

'Nuff Said

"To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery."


And yet, I expect the theatres to be full with precisely the type of people who think it the pinnacle of intellectual dissent to hiss when someone shows a photo of Rumsfeld. If you think I'm making that last bit up, I hate to disappoint you: the art-house crowd at a recent showing of a documentary about Iraq was all over that model of dissent.

Is it too much to ask that folks in media actually pursue the facts--regardless of ideology--when they say they're interested in the facts?

Don't answer. I keep asking that question, even though I know better. It's like rhetorical Tourette's Syndrome: I can't help it.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

June 21, 2004

I'll Make This Brief

There was never a halcyon period of total intellectual enlightenment in America, wherein the average person was an amazingly well-informed, free thinking individual ready to assume his or her rightful place in world affairs. Sorry about that. Similarly, there is not now and has never been a systemized campaign to delude the masses and numb them until either a (pick your poison) vast right or left wing conspiracy could lead them by the nose down the path of all ignorance and evil.

I'm telling you this because it's becoming beyond tiresome reading folks who, when trying to back up some assertion or other in the comments section (or even, God forbid, in the main body of their own blogs) decide that the best way to make their point is to decry and demonstrate the ignorance of the masses. This doesn't help your point, because it shifts whatever point you may have had into "Because I'm smart and I said so!" land, and it has the bonus effect of making you look like a total prick. I mean, is this the reaction you're expecting: "OMIGOD! Everyone else is soooo totally ignorant and I never realized it until YOU POINTED IT OUT! OMG SHEEPLE! What an amazingly salient, creative, and original point! You ROxxxorZ! The Other Side has been totally pWn3D!!!!!111111 Eleven!!!!" Sorry to disappoint you there, Captain Intellect. Never. Gonna. Happen.

Instead, everyone who is moderately well-informed and who can think will write you off as a blowhard with an inflated sense of self-worth. Way to win friends and influence people, buddy. Now run along and peddle the results of your mental masturbation elsewhere. Thanks so much.

Big Arm Woman

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:55 AM | Comments (4)

June 18, 2004

How To Enjoy Troy

  1. Have absolutely no knowledge of The Iliad, Homer, or Greek Mythology beyond reruns of Xena: Warrior Princess.
  2. Yell "Hector SMASH!" at the screen every time Eric Bana comes on.
  3. Mentally calculate the gallons of body oil used on the male actors for all the scenes of half-naked manly-chested men washing, or fighting, or boinking, or some combination thereof.
  4. Hum Madonna's Vogue every time Achilles strikes a pose with his sword, which would be approximately once per scene he's in.
  5. Every time Orlando Bloom appears, yell the condom slogan "Trojan MAAAAN!"
  6. Mentally calculate the number of tubes of waterproof mascara that they used on the women in the film, who do nothing but cry, cry, cry, boink, and cry (sometimes while boinking, or after, which might explain Paris' lack of self-esteem.)
  7. Daydream about how much better the film would be if it were called The Odyssey and dealt exclusively with Sean Bean, who can actually act.
  8. Try not to picture how much better the film would be if ANYONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD HAD BEEN CAST AS ACHILLES.
  9. Studiously ignore the fact that Achilles, a Greek warrior, seems to be very familiar with Nietzsche and suffering from post-modern ennui.
  10. Pray to Apollo, the Sun God, and ask for that 2 hours and 45 minutes of your life back.
Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:04 AM | Comments (8)

June 17, 2004

That Magic Age

I need your help. I need you to tell me when exactly I will reach The Magic Age of No Longer Giving a Rat's Ass What I Look Like in Swimwear. And don't tell me that no such age exists--I've been to the beaches, and I've seen what's out there, and I know that if any of those people cared about what they looked like, they would not be regaling me with their banana slings, spandex trusses, and not-a-thong-when-she-bought-it ensembles. Seriously.

I'm asking because it seems to me that The Magic Age (or TMAoNLGaRAWILLiS) must be a remarkably freeing experience. I could just let it all hang out, literally. Never purchase another new swimsuit regardless of changes in fashion or my girth. Hold my head high even as the string bikini top I got when I was 22 fails to do the same for my post-breastfeeding boobs. Tan myself into beef jerky and laugh when people mistake me for a mobile naugahyde sofa. Walk hand in hand with a hublet covered in back hair and sporting what might be a speedo under that copious gut. Ah, glorious freedom!

The interesting thing that I've noticed lately about The Magic Age is that it seems to be getting younger. It used to be that only septugenarians wandered around with the ease that comes from knowing that no one's looking at you anyway, so what the hell! Put on pasties and a big straw hat! But this year I see lots of high school and college-aged folk with a disregard for the retinas of their fellow beachcombers. Perhaps it's just the payoff from all those years of self-esteem boosting in school--you're fabulous even if you can't do anything useful and have the personality of roadkill--or perhaps the concept of a personal fashion sense has just escaped them utterly. Either way, in addition to the usual "don't care, don't have to" suspects, we have a parade of folks with no concept of what a bathing suit that actually fits looks like.

I blame Abercrombie and Fitch, which first proposed that the best way to sell clothing was through naked models. See, if you have no idea what the clothes are supposed to look like when they're ON YOUR BODY and everyone else is naked, then it's no stretch to assume that more is better in terms of skin-baring. And I need to tell you right now that no, that's not necessarily the case, particularly if you're not of the naked model body type. Here's a free tip: Ladies, if the back of your swimsuit is wider than one inch across, it is not meant to be a thong. I promise you that. And gentlemen, I don't care if you're Adonis himself, don't buy any swimwear that isn't baggy trunks. You're not going for the gold at Myrtle Beach, and cool ocean water tends to make things appear much, much smaller than you'd probably be comfortable with. Did I mention SMALLER? Yeah.

Sigh. Perhaps I'm just put out that I spend time trying to find flattering swimwear that fits and that won't traumatize small children, when obviously it no longer matters. Bring on the pasties and the big straw hat! I'm goin' for the gold this year!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:36 AM | Comments (8)

June 15, 2004


Oh, no. Please no.

Look, I realize the remaining members of INXS probably want to continue working, but--nonononono. Not like this. Gah.

And I know there's a precedent for Australian bands replacing deceased lead singers (AC/DC), but...doing it via a reality TV show is just a little too Rock Star for me. And having seen that flick on cable recently, trust me when I tell you that emulating Rock Star is a very bad thing.

Sigh. Guess I'd better hop over to Amazon to replace my INXS vinyl. It's hard being an 80's music purist.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2004

I Must Be Slipping

Is there such a thing as "inchoate rage burnout?" 'Cause I think I've managed to attain it. This weekend and the blogroll have offered me ample opportunity to vent my spleen on all manner of subjects, both political and personal, such as:

1. When it's appropriate to be pissy about the dead: short answer, maybe you could wait until the corpse is underground, or incinerated, or has had its head safely encased in liquid nitrogen at the behest of its wacky greedy relatives--you know, when it ISN'T STILL FRESH.

2. Oral sex is still sex, it's just that you're substituting one orifice for another. And also, if you're giving and not receiving, and you aren't in a mutually loving relationship, well, here's a news flash: blowjobs don't empower the chick doing the sucking. Unless of course you're charging for them. And even then, you're still just a warm, moist substitute for someone's hand and a porno mag. Congrats! You're the new face of feminism--though you might want to wipe your chin before you have your empowerment parade.

3. Hyperbole is your friend. Your sadly misunderstood friend, as this reader email makes apparent:

I am shocked. I typed in Jo's Jos's Circus to find a web-site and this crap pops up. Are you crazy? My two year old loves Jo Jo. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the show or Disney for that matter. It's people like you that make this world such a crazy place. If you don't like it, guess what, this is America and you have the right to change the channel just like I have the right to watch it with my child. Humans are not born with fear, we as parents put it in them so your child will thank you in the future for his phobia of clowns. What a sick individual you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep, "Disgusted Mother," my hatred of an insipid Disney Channel show has led to my hiding under my child's bed at night in a clown suit, waiting to put the Fear of Clowns into my toddler. Dear God. I post on things political and academic, and the lion's share of hate mail I get is from crazy women who don't quite grok the concept of exaggeration in humor. Unless of course her comment was ironic, satirical and hyperbolic, in which case--never mind.

But even in the face of rampant classlessness and idiocy on the part of my fellow man I can't seem to summon the inner incandescent ire that fuels the keyboard. This rage trigger failure, plus my usual post-Hayes Barton mommies detox (wherein I am reminded that I'm too over-educated and under-funded for the idle rich set, too conservative for the hipper than thou pseudo-intellectual set, too bourgeosie-and-lovin'-it for the trendoid art-house set, and too geeky for everyone else except not geeky enough for actual geeks), have burned me right on out.

At least my visit to the hairdresser was moderately successful. I have hopefully kissed that whole Rod Stewart-esque poofy-topped head phase goodbye (note to self: your hair has A LOT of body. When it's short, it grows up, THEN out). Of course, I was going for "insousciant flippy 'do," and I'm stuck somewhere at "post-Rod Stewart, mildly That Girl winged helmet of Nike." Ah well, hair grows.

And rage has a tendency to return.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:03 AM | Comments (4)

June 04, 2004

You Can Take Your Freaking Pencil

And stick it where the sun don't shine. So now a school is banning cupcakes for birthday celebrations, because:

``It would be 23 times during the year that other families would not be anticipating that their kids are going to be eating something sweet,'' Chandler Principal Deborah Zetterberg said.

Instead, students get a sticker, a sparkly sash to wear for a day, and a PENCIL. Well, now I know what was missing from my childhood birthday celebrations: my special pencil. Woo.

Naturally, the ban makes perfect sense. I mean, if it had only been 18 times a year, or even 20, that would be fine, but 23? Waaaaay over the top. 23 extra sweets a year will only lead to rampant obesity! Children dropping dead on the way to the bus! Dogs and cats having babies! Moderation? Common sense? Crazy talk! Bah! Ban the cupcakes!!!!

As a normal human being, here's what I'm looking for from my local school system:

I want my schools to provide nutritionally sound lunches that I may or may not CHOOSE to purchase. Also, I'd like to think that while at school my son will not be carried off by a crazed pedophile. And that he might learn something. But that's it. Policing cupcakes? Not on the School of Excellence Agenda here, people.

Unfortunately, I imagine this trend will grow. After all, it's a hell of a lot easier to ban cupcakes than to reinstate PE programs or reinforce good eating habits.

Yes, I am testy about this. I LIKE making cupcakes to share with The Boy's little pals at the daycare. With sprinkles. WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE SPRINKLES!!!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:26 AM | Comments (7)

June 03, 2004

Proving That No Matter What You Do, You Cannot Win

The recent blog brouhahas over the presence or non-presence of women bloggers on the Big Blog Scene, and the kerfuffle over whether or not Cathy Seipp's recent American Cinema Foundation panels accurately represented proper diversity. Read the comments on Cathy's site--the mocking of the stupid there warmed the frigid dessicated cockles of my shriveled once-heart.

Note to everyone who's pissed that their bloggage hasn't taken the NYT by storm (or even a local, decently attended intellectual seminar by storm): maybe it has nothing to do with your gender or race or political leanings. Maybe you just suck. Maybe you could quit whining, and accept the fact that unless you're willing to devote a huge amount of time to being innovative and the first to post on topical matters that interest the press you'll probably have a small readership (or no readership). Maybe you could stop worrying about site stats, the vast array of evil forces that are so obviously out to get you, or the TTLB Ecosystem rankings and concentrate on, you know, writing stuff that might interest someone. Gosh, what a concept!

Blog. Or don't. But don't pretend that a lack of readership or accolades has anything to do with your skin color, politics, or gender. It's about whether or not you're an interesting writer. And if you're spending all your time whining about persecution and pissing on the Big Dogs, odds are you're the only one who finds that interesting writing.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

Impromptu Review

I recently caught an episode of the HBO series Band of Brothers on The History Channel, and I have a couple of questions:

Do soldiers under fire or imminent threat of fire really have a lot of time to stand around (or huddle in a pit) gazing angstily into the distance? And if they do have a lot of free time waiting for the bad guys to resume trying to kill them, do they spend it being angsty, or do they try to get their minds off of the fact that they're waiting around for bad guys to kill them?

And when they're under fire, and serving as medics, and people are yelling, "MEDIC!" because someone's just had his leg blown up and is bleeding everywhere, do they saunter over and gaze angstily down at the screaming, bleeding man, or do they get over themselves, let the training kick in, haul ass and try to save a life? I'm kinda hoping it's the latter, especially if I'm the screaming, bleeding person in question.

Because while I was intrigued by this episode of BOB and will try to catch more of them, I found myself not exactly sympathetic to the angsty, glaring medic who was the focus of the whole thing. In fact, Hublet had to stop me from yelling, "Would you QUIT STANDING THERE PULLING YOUR PUD AND GET ON WITH IT! YOU'RE ANGSTY! AND TROUBLED! I! GET! IT! NEXT!" at the screen every time he was on. And since he was the main subject, he was on a lot.

I understand dramatic license. But I also understand "way the hell over the top," as well as "scenery chewing." What I didn't understand until I saw the "Bastogne" episode of Band of Brothers is that it's possible to chew scenery when protraying silent, glaring, angst. Congratulations, Mr. Angsty Glaring Medic Actor Guy! You've created a whole new category of irritating actor mannerisms for me to endure! Huzzah!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:39 AM | Comments (6)

May 25, 2004

We'll Always Have Paris

To which I reply, "Why? Why must we have Paris Hilton in our lives, on our tv screens, and plastered all over the front of every magazine adorning my checkout lines?" I hate Paris Hilton. Not because she's a vapid whore, a spoiled brat with no concept of reality, or possibly the most self-absorbed twit in the world, but because she's everywhere and there's absolutely no reason for it! Gah!

There are much prettier vapid whores out there to ogle: Britney, anyone? There are spoiled brats who are at least entertaining to mock--pick a star under age 25 and have at it--and self-absorption? Everywhere. Throw a dart into the crowd at a movie premiere and I guarantee you'll whack an overfull receptacle of self-love, possibly sporting a Kabbalah bracelet.

So WHY? Why Paris Hilton? She of the plastic surgery that hasn't really made her attractive, poor fashion sense, and inability to do, well, anything? I reached my Hilton saturation point about a year and a half ago; incidentally that was about the same time as I first heard about her. Now I'm irrationally angry at her very existence. She is not news, people! Please take her out of your trashy gossip rags so that I may peruse them in peace!

And while you're at it, please forward me the name of her publicist. This person is obviously amazingly talented if he or she can transform a mediocre-looking, no-talent nobody into a cash machine, and I'd like a piece of that action. I have a son to put through college. Of course, the publicist might actually be the devil, in which case the deal is off. Come to think of it, the devil angle is the only rational explanation for the Hilton phenomenon. Never mind.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:46 AM | Comments (10)

Self-Help Jesus

Except in this case, without the Jesus part.

When it comes to religion, I'm a middle-of-the-road Southern Methodist. Of course to some people that's a very scary thing, but those people are ignorant and fun to laugh at (Secret Methodist Cabals? Sure, if by "Cabal" you mean "Pot Luck Dinner." ). Besides, at my church we never have to wear little white gloves while we eat raw babies. We're very progressive that way, because the bleach used to get the stains out of the gloves could harm the environment.

As a middle of the road Methodist, I'm a bit annoyed by the explosion of what I like to call The Self-Help Jesus Movement, in which the Son of God and His Dad exist solely to help you get a better job and live the American dream. I think it's the whole "what has God done for you lately" attitude underlying this stuff that bothers me the most, because in my naivete I figured that attending worship service meant you were supposed to, you know, THANK and WORSHIP the higher being, not ask Him why your stock portfolio wasn't perfoming at the appropriate level. Obviously, I have been misled. Religion is really All About Me. All hail Me! Oh, and Lord? While you're at it, the car needs an oil change.

Ironically, Judaism seems to be suffering from a bout of Self-Help Jesus-ism, except in their case I guess it would be Self-Help G-d-ism. Who knew that the Kabbalah was so simple that anyone could use it to end depression, create world peace and cure hemorroids? Besides Madonna, that is. Thanks, Hollywood, for participating in the commercialization of an aspect of a religion you know nothing about! Perhaps they could print up some trucker caps with this slogan: Kabbalaism - Like Scientology, only cheaper to join. That seems to sum up the Hollywood understanding of it, anyway.

I suppose I should be grateful that Methodism doesn't go in for the mystical, lest Demi and Ashton show up in Raleigh for the yearly Appalachian Service Project Birdhouse fundraiser.

Seriously, read the article.

Articles found via Dean's World and Twisted Spinster.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:08 AM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2004

Newsflash: Women Can be Evil!

Apparently, the discovery that women and men are both human and capable of evil is too much for Barbara Ehrenreich. My first reaction to this article: "Oh, so you've finally pulled your head out of your ass?" was a bit flip and cynical, even for me, so let me explain. Truly the most remarkable aspect of Ehrenreich's hand-wringing despair here is the bold admission of the one thing that turned me off about mainstream feminism--the idea that women are somehow morally superior to men. She and all the other feminists were wrong, of course, and while I'm gratified to see her own up to her silliness, it's coming a bit late.

For me, feminism was about getting equal opportunity, period. It was never about changing the world through the moral superiority of womb power, or expunging the word "seminal" from literary analysis in favor of "ovacular" or crushing the patriarchy by substituting the letter "y" for "e" in "women" or about pointing out that a doorknob is really a stand-in for a clitoris or any other such ridiculous crap. I'm a smart, self-confident person, and feminism assured me that I'd have a shot at competing. I was pretty confident that my fabulous other qualities would help me take it from there. I'm not going to deride the entire women's movement, because insofar as it gave me that shot--to get the education I wanted, to get a job to give me the economic opportunities I wanted, and to live my life the way I want to--it's been wildly successful and I owe it a lot. Where the whole thing went off the rails for me was in the assertion that feminism was essential because women were the salvation of humankind, that if women were in charge war would vanish and the playing field would be level and cats and dogs would live in beautiful harmony together forever and ever, woo-hoo. Basically, feminism took the traditional stereotype of "woman as nurturer" and canonized it in the service of political ideology, sending reality out the window. Women are competitive, women can be evil backbiting bitches from hell, and do not get me started on what I would be capable of if someone threatened a member of my family--it wouldn't fall under the rubric of "moral superiority," that's for sure.

But for Barbara Ehrenreich, the only thing capable of dissuading her from her utopian ovarian vision are photos from Abu Ghraib? The hell? It never dawned on her that when feminism succeeded in giving women equal opportunity to just be human beings, they would BE human beings? One wonders if Ms. Ehrenreich went to middle school with any other women, or if she has any female friends. If she did or has, then I'm not entirely sure how she managed to hold on to her naivete about the feminine portion of humanity to this point. Although I guess when you're on a religious crusade you're often willing to overlook the aspects of reality that prove inconvenient to your cause. For Barbara, the Road to Damascus took her to Abu Ghraib. Welcome to reality, Babs. Took you long enough.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:31 AM | Comments (11)

May 14, 2004


As promised. Or threatened, whatever.

I think I'm finished with getting my news from big media. Particularly if this is true. I believe it is, because I did a little impromptu experiment the day of and the day after the Nick Berg story broke. It didn't take long, and it confirmed for me everything I suspected about the news we're getting and the way we're getting it. Okay, 6:00 p.m., remote in hand. Let's hit the cable news stations and check the leads:

Fox - Nick Berg
CNN - Nick Berg/Abu Ghraib
MSNBC - Abu Ghraib/Nick Berg - lead sounded like they were doing the causal link angle, but I was trying to hit the leads of all the networks, so I didn't hang around long enough to confirm.
CBS - Abu Ghraib
NBC - Abu Ghraib
ABC - Abu Ghraib

So I skipped it. Got all my info off the internet, where I can sample a cournucopia of news with simultaneous discussion and where folks are at least open about their slant. I used to be all righteous about the media in this country and how it was superior to English media because it strove to be "unbiased." Hey England? Sorry about that. I was a moron. It's much worse to claim impartiality and not actually, you know, BE impartial.

I'm a free person walking the earth. I don't need to be "protected from the truth" by a handful of telegenic partisans, smug in their moral and intellectual superiority to the great unwashed. I wash, I'm smart, and I resent the hell out of all of you. Go blow.

Oh, and I can handle the truth. It's the media I'm concerned about--they seem to fear the public's reaction to it. Not in their script, I guess.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:46 AM | Comments (11)

April 29, 2004

How I Got the Hell Over Myself and Learned to Love McDonald's Again

Hip trendoid that I am, I was on the verge of getting sucked into that whole fashionable Fast Food Nation ohmigodourkidsarefatwemustblamesomeone!! kill the fast food establishments vortex, when something changed my mind, particularly about Mickey D's: Salad. Yep, that's right, salad. You may rightly be asking yourself, "Salad? But I thought all fast food establishments were firmly committed to killing us dead and raping the rain forests and giving us mad cow disease! Surely this "salad" you speak of is an abomination!"

Well folks, I'm here to tell you different. Gone are the days of the lame-ass "salad shaker" that Mickey D's came out with a few years back. The new McDonald's salad can no longer be referred to as "iceberg in a cup."

Take for example the grilled chicken and bacon garden salad, on display at the McD's marquee near you: fresh mixed greens, flavorful grilled chicken, a dash of bacon, cheese and Newman's Own dressing. It's a damn fine salad--better than I would make, mainly because I haven't the patience to find, shred and toss my 14 lettuce varieties and all the other crap that constitutes a happening "salad" nowadays--and it's Atkins friendly.

Today I tried the Fiesta salad, with Newman's salsa, ground beef, cheese and some of those little nacho chip strips--eeek! Carbs!--and it was also quite the tasty.

As one of The Boy's very favoritest occasional treats is a Happy Meal, it is good that McDonald's has diversified their menu. This way I can actually eat something I like when we go there, and not freak out about a) removing the bun, b)salt content, or c) immediately dropping dead from special sauce overload OMGWTFBBQ!

I suppose we actually have the sue-happy, "blame everyone but me for my own morbid obesity I had no idea that a steady diet of FRIED FOOD would make me fat" types to thank for this, since the culinary shift at the local Golden Arches seems to be driven in part by the time-honored capitalist desire to cover one's ass. So thanks, tort lawyers, greedy Americans, and food nazis!

Me, I'll be having the Cobb salad while The Boy plays on the slide.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:44 PM | Comments (7)

April 27, 2004

Agree With Me or You're a Racist Pig!

Okay, so if America doesn't like the same singers Sir Elton John likes, we're all racist.
Or perhaps we have different tastes--oh, right. In Sir E land, different = racist.

Well, I think Elton John jumped the musical shark sometime during his 427th retooling of Candle in the Wind.

Disagree with me? RACIST!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:37 PM | Comments (8)

April 21, 2004

On Being a Failed Evil Genius

I had a lot of time to think last evening, between driving the dog back into Raleigh for a vet visit, getting her shot full of fluids and antibiotics and anti-nausea drugs and sanitizing (in no particular order) the house, The Boy, the dog, the bathroom, the kennel, the carpet, and myself, and I came to a realization:

I will never be an evil genius.

I'm kinda bummed out by that. Evil geniuses tend to be provocative (in that "person you love to hate" way), and nowadays they also tend to be rich. It's that second part that really bums me out, particularly since I'm suddenly in the mood to recarpet my home.

You may be wondering two things at this point: One, what is the definition of an evil genius, and two, why, BAW, oh why are you a failure at it? Let me answer those questions in order.

An evil genius isn't just some guy who has a tank full of sharks with lasers on their heads. Oh, no. Those folks might be evil, and they might be geniuses on some level, but in the end they always get taken out by some bumbling dude in a leisure suit. Nope, the true evil geniuses of the world are a tad more mundane in their methods and appearance, but have two things in common: a lot of vitriol, and the ability to turn it into cash. Let me give you a couple of examples--Michael Moore and Ann Coulter. No one political affiliation has the lock on evil genius, and neither does any one career. If you're a successful evil genius, you will be despised by approximately one half of the population but you won't care, because the other half will buy all your stuff and love you for "sticking it to the (pick one: man, liberal media, hegemony of the day)." I would gladly be hated by half the population if the other half gave me cash, because I'd then have enough money to make sure that the half that hated me stayed on the appropriate side of the shark-filled (head lasers optional) moat.

So why am I a failed evil genius? I don't lack in vitriol, that's for sure. I do, however, lack the cash flow that can come from channeling one's rage, and that lack can be summed up in one word: dimples.

I have dimples when I smile. They're symmetrical dimples, too, evenly spaced and just below the apple of each cheek. I have cute, rounded, dimpled cheeks, and even now people tend to pinch them. I'm 35 freaking years old, and people still pinch my cheeks. As you may imagine, being pinchable severely hampers one's ability to be taken seriously as an evil genius. Let's recap: Ann Coulter? No dimples, and she has an action figure, for crying out loud! Michael Moore? No dimples. Even my hero, Florence King, lacks the stupid little marks of Venus.

First impressions are everything, you know. I can see it now: I break into big media with an opportunity to yell at O'Reilly and attempt a sardonic evil grin and: DIMPLES! Dammit! So all the folks at home are like, "How evil can she be? She looks like Shirley Temple with those things!" and my evil genius street cred (and subsequent cash flow) is ruined. The flip side of that is that while I may be too dimply to be taken seriously as evil, the fact that I'm always griping prevents me from being America's Sweetheart--another cash cow, or so I've heard.

So here I am, stuck in the middle, dimpled and enraged. My dreams of new carpeting and a shark-filled moat are just that: dreams. Broken dreams, smashed against the unyielding reality of dimples.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:20 AM | Comments (6)

April 14, 2004

Open Letter to the Press

Dear White House Press Corps:

Yeah, hi. Look, I know you're very busy people, what with all the sitting around and being disdainful of the president while simultaneously begging for 30 seconds of televised self-aggrandizement in the form of a "Question," but could we talk?

See, it's come to my attention lately that we have a problem. No one likes you. It's not necessarily the poofy oversprayed TV hair or the overly self-conscious way you dress or the way that you drop your voice an octave or two in order to sound more "steady and trustworthy;" no, the problem goes much deeper than that.

It's that when you are presented with the opportunity to ask the current President of the United States actual questions about the way Iraq and related foreign policy will be handled, all you manage to pull out of your collective asses is "Twelve-step Lite for Recovering Baby Boomers." And that, my friends, is where you lose a large segment of the population. You know, the segment that DOESN'T still think it's 1970? The segment that kinda thinks that baby boomers are a whining bunch of bastards who can't get past the fact that they're no longer 18 and burning bras and draft cards? Yeah, that segment? Bigger than you think it may be. Just sayin'.

So maybe next time you interview the Prez, you could go a little lighter on trying to make him into Nixon or a guest on Jerry Springer and a little heavier on the, you know, actual questions? Fishing for apologies and headlines is just SO 1994. Totally.

Big Arm Woman

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:30 PM | Comments (23)

April 05, 2004

Wages of Public Education

Pursuant and relevant to the last entry about the dearth of actual debating ability on campuses comes the comment thread from this little piece (via Wonkette).

Dear God. If I were still teaching Freshman Comp, I would print out the comments and force my class to go through them and pick out the ad hominems, circular arguments, false choices, and strawmen on display. But as I haven't the time, let me just pick out a few items which made me almost homicidally angry:

1. McCarthy! It's the new catchphrase for the rhetorically retarded! If you can't think of an actual argument, just scream McCarthy!

2. The "Yeah, well, unless you're 100% perfect you're a HYPOCRITE" tactic, which manages to avoid argumentation altogether. Because really, why discuss the issues at hand when you can turn the argument into a personal attack on your opponent? For added "oomph," toss in a cry of "McCarthy!" or for added partisan dash, try a pinch of "Bush Lied!" or "Kerry Flip-Flops!"

3. The OMNISCIENT COMMENTER. This person is somehow magically able to divine the innermost thoughts and desires of his or her opponent, and communicate disdain for the same with pithy comments like, "Yeah, right." Here's some advice: If you're omniscient, then you should already know how the argument's gonna turn out, right? SO SPARE US YOUR SANCTIMONIOUS CLAPTRAP AND LACK OF REASON! Good God!

4. The, "See? This is why we're all DOOOOOMMMEEEDDD!" Cassandra commentor. Hey sweetie? Here's a ladder. Get over yourself. I can guarantee you that you'll have an entirely new piece of Evidence of The Decline of Civilization by tomorrow morning. In the meantime, this has something to do with the debate at hand HOW?

See, I used to think that this level of stupidity was primarily the purview of Fan Forums. I enjoy going to sites like Fandom Wank to laugh at exactly these kinds of argumentative tactics popping up in debates about whether or not the Hobbits are gay.

It's not as funny when the topics are a little, shall we say, more serious. It's just pathetic. Well, pathetic and proof that the American educational system sucks righteous ass. OMG! We're DOOOOMMMMMED! McCarthy!


Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:38 PM | Comments (3)

March 30, 2004

I'm Lazy. Sue Me.

I thought about titling this post "Greatest Hits Tuesday," but then Hubris dropped by and informed me that would be tacky. Soooo, it's "BAW wants to go shopping at lunch and can't be bothered to get all het up about academia or toddlers, so here's a retread--deal with it!" Tuesday.

So here's my most favorite-ist rant that I did; interestingly, it's also one of my first big ones. Read and enjoy, or leave vitriolic comments about me being too lazy to tackle anything real today--whatever. I'm going to Target.

I Just Want Some Pants. Is That So Hard to Understand?
Warning: The following post contains gratuitous overuse of the word "ass." Read or skip accordingly.

Would someone please tell me when the women of America took a vote and decided that what we really needed to be taken seriously and to empower ourselves in the workplace was turbo-slut wear? 'Cause I must have missed that vote, and I'm more than a little annoyed about it. See, I just want some new pants. Preferably some nice, khaki-type pants, suitable for work or a casual outing. And I'd really like for those pants to actually cover my ass. I didn't think that requirement was optional, you know, for PANTS, but then I've been a little distracted lately, so that's why I'm thinking I missed the great Ass Covering Referendum of 2002.

There can be no other explanation for the fact that every pair of pants I recently tried on clung firmly to my hips, regardless of how I tried to make the waistband match my waist. Okay, let's get a couple of things straight: I am neither ancient nor obese, but I am a mom, and not interested in reliving my college years through sportswear. Nor am I interested in perfoming an impromptu impersonation of a plumber every time I bend, sit, twist, move, or breathe. And while I do appreciate the occasional cool breeze on my face and other normally exposed body parts--my posterior is neither accustomed to nor eager to feel mother nature's breath. I have never been, am not now, nor will I ever be a fashionista. So please, manufacturers of clothing, keep me in mind when you're making pants. They don't have to be fancy, they just have to perform one essential function--keep the elements away from my ass. Thanks so much. Sincerely, Big Arm Woman.

And while I'm at it, can I just mention this to our well-meaning yet ultimately deluded by Cosmopolitan Magazine co-eds? I do not ever want to see your ass. Okay? Do we have that? Why do you insist on showing it to me? I have no interest in your super-cute thong underwear. Frankly, I can't see how you wear those things, because they chafe an area that should never be chafed. Ever. And do not accuse me of being prudish or out-of-touch. This is your ASS we're talking about, not Michaelangelo's David. Come to think of it, I wouldn't want to see him doing plumber chic, either. Plus, you don't have to look at your ass. I do. You are forcing your ass on me, and frankly, it's rude, because your ass? Is not all it's cracked up to be.

As an aside, just because low riders come in a size 26 doesn't mean you should purchase and wear them in a size 26. If you purchased those low riders in a size larger than eight, you need to turn around and go home right now. Don't tell me not to look at your ass, because it's taking up the entire horizon. There is no avoiding the ass that is yours, that is hanging out, that is mocking me with its crackitude. I hate your ass. Really.

I'm also not interested in your cute little belly shirts. One in ten human beings has the body for these shirts, and the entire 10% lives in CA or NY and is employed as a model. I promise. Ditto for the lace-up front jeans, the ripped-and-held-together-with-big-safety pins jeans, the jeans with splits down the side from knee to ankle, and just about any other too-tight, too small, see-through item of apparel that you can purchase at 5-7-9 or Razzle Dazzle or any other cheap trendoid place of sartorial doom.

How are normally intelligent, active young women being deluded into purchasing glorified hooker wear that allows no movement whatsoever? There is no bending in this clothing, lest you pop a seam. Likewise, no running, sitting, or breathing hard. God forbid you sneeze-passerby will have to hand you your bra and panties while averting their eyes and dialing 911 for the fire department to come dislodge your pants from the treetops.

Listen to me. Just because you CAN be half-naked, doesn't mean you should be. This crap is not fashion-forward, it's France's revenge for no longer being a superpower. Don't give in. Give pants a chance.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:51 AM | Comments (3)

March 29, 2004

Worst. Jesus. Ever.

It's to be expected that everyone and their brother who ever made a Jesus movie will be running them all over our airwaves between now and Easter. But let me just say that The Passion has ruined all of the other Jesus movies for me forevermore, and not because of the gore. Nope, it's because Gibson's version, by "cutting to the chase," managed to sidestep every bad Jesus movie cliche' known to man. And boy, there are a LOT of 'em.

Last night, Hublet and I were channel surfing and we landed on Jesus, the latest made for tv Bible flick (it was made in 1999). To say that this Jesus blew righteous chunks is to insult the blowing of chunks everywhere. Hublet and I lasted five minutes with the bad Jesus movie, during which time we groaned, we laughed, we mocked the production values, and we fervently wished that Mike and the 'bots were with us to aid our mockery. I know you're dying of curiosity, so let me just highlight a few aspects of Really Bad Jesus Movies and How to Avoid Them.

1. "Holy" does not equal "Constipated." Bear this in mind while watching.

2. If the actor's idea of Jesus involves a lot of turning his face into the light and attempting to look "beatific" WHILE playing the Son of God as an irrevocably constipated surfer-dude, change the channel.

3. A man whose personal charisma induced people to fundamentally change their lives and beliefs probably didn't deliver his sermons like Al Gore on 'ludes. Also, see #1 above for further clarification.

4. If the production values for the Walking on Water scene resemble something filmed in your bathtub, change the channel. Also, if the Walking on Water scene reminds you of the old Cars video for "It's Magic," just give up and go to bed.

5. I am fairly certain that the inhabitants of the Holy Land did not punctuate every utterance by either flailing their arms, rolling their eyes beseechingly heavenward, or dropping to their knees.

6. Overwrought soundtrack? Why yes, yes it is. NEXT!

7. Lots of eyeliner = visual shorthand for morally compromised. See: Mary Magdalene and Judas. It makes you want to yell at the screen: "No, Jesus! Don't trust him! Don't you see he's just a shill for Mary Kay? This can only end badly!"

8. Language--for folks brought up with the King James version, hearing classic Biblical quotes spoken as, "you have little faith," makes you long for Aramaic.

9. The soft focus and backlighting. Please. It's just too Touched By An Angel to be taken seriously. Holy. We GET IT.

10. Repeat after me: Jesus? Not a hippy. I know he wore robes and sandals and had longish hair and a beard, but there's a difference between period-appropriate costuming and hippie wear. The former actually involves some grooming.

There. I hope my list will be helpful to you, particularly in the two weeks before Easter, when Jesuses (Jesii?) will be everywhere. Watch at your own risk.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:03 PM | Comments (5)

March 09, 2004

Snobs, Damn Snobs, and Food Snobs

Okay, so I needed some nitrate free bacon. I should have known that I was in for trouble when I googled "nitrate free bacon" to find a local provider and came across a cycling board where a commenter had posted: "I can't seem to find Nitrate free bacon. The local Wal-Mart doesn't carry it. Can anyone help?" Only to receive this reply: "I'm surprised that a Wal-Mart shopper has even heard of nitrate free bacon." Well excuse her for asking, you holier-than-thou tool. I figured the rude replier was one of those "my body is my temple and I disdain fat middle America because I am soooooo much more evolved" types, and went on my way. I soon discovered that no normal store around here sells the nitrate free bacon, which meant I had to make a special pilgrimage to either the Fresh Market, located in upscale Cameron Village, or the Whole Foods Store, located in the crunchy granola block off of Wade Avenue, next to the fiercely independent bookstore and the Hot Yoga Emporium.

Let me tell you a little something about Cameron Village's Fresh Market: it isn't a grocery store, it's a hangout for all the wealthy dilettantes planning their next dinner party. The "food" there is useless unless all you ever eat is hors d'ouvres. Seriously, they have 2 aisles of assorted nuts, an aisle of jelly, every cracker known to man, 4,000 varieties of cheese, and exactly 1 piece of meat and 1 head of lettuce. Also, there is apparently a dress code if you want to shop there. And they check out your vehicle when you park, just to make sure that you're Fresh Market material. I have a simple credo: if I'm giving you money, you need to get off the disdain train. No matter how middle class I look, I've got the cash. The cash that's paying your freaking salary by partaking of the macadamia nuts? Yeah, that cash. So back off, snobberella. Seriously. I hate the Fresh Market. Oh, and they have no nitrate free bacon.

So I trek to to Whole Foods, where I encounter an entirely different brand of snobbery. Here, you're looked at askance if you lack dreadlocks or wear makeup. And while they have a large meat department, the only people shopping in it looked ashamed to be there. I did find the bacon, however, right alongside the Veganaise.

See, here's the thing. Of all the snobs in the world, food snobs are the absolute worst. I'm not interested in your super special imported brie and pate' on cracked pepper rounds, and I could give a rat's ass that you refuse to pollute your body with non-soy milk. It's food. Eat what you want, freak out about pesticides and GM crap and whether that rhubarb root is really super fresh all you want--you're all still going to end up in the same place: DEAD.

I'm sorry. I cannot get exercised along with the "food as religion" crowd. So stop treating your grocery stores as clubs for fellow travelers, buy what you want and eat it, preferably without a lot of fanfare. I can't stomach the food snobbery anymore.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:16 PM | Comments (26)

March 04, 2004

How to Be a Crazy Right Wing Blogger, According to Ted Rall

  1. Wake up. Shoot alarm clock and dog with big ol .357 magnum.
  2. Have breakfast of toast and tea. Plug Fox Newsfeed directly into cerebral shunt for upload of "approved" daily headlines.
  3. Update list of "liberal bete noirs."
  4. Fire off angry emails to everyone everywhere who has anything to do at all with anyone on the list, because God knows right wing bloggers are just obsessive compulsive little conspiracy theorists convinced that the other side is persecuting them because of their belief--oh, wait. That's actually my description of Rall. Moving on...
  5. Get Ted Rall's comics removed from one online source. Just one, mind you, out of about 142 print and numerous other online spaces.
  6. Have big party, because it's ALL ABOUT TED and persecuting him for daring to speak truth to power.
  7. Sleep like a baby.
Sometimes I'm curious as to what it would be like to believe that the world revolved entirely around me, that only I held the answers to the universe, and that I must fight fight fight the forces of EEEEvvvviilllle, who also conveniently seem to be strawmen. And then I read Ted Rall's blog, and I realize that it would be a hell completely of my own making.

Via michele.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:04 PM | Comments (8)

February 18, 2004

You Suck, Alec Baldwin

And not for any of the reasons that you'd think I'd list here: dumb promises (still unkept, sadly) about moving to France, yadda yadda yadda.

Nope, Alec Baldwin sucks for that most basic reason: he is an actor who truly, honest-to-God, cannot act. Not a bit, not an iota, not at all.

Why does this annoy me now? Thanks for asking. I was tired of trying to break into a desert prison to rescue Mr. Pickle (SOCOM: Navy Seals reference, sorry--I'm stuck on mission #9. Damn helicopter. Anyway...) so I decided to flip channels and have a glass of wine.

I landed on The Shadow, which I vaguely recalled seeing in the theatre. Ian McKellan is in that movie, btw, playing Penelope Ann Miller's dad. Poor Sir Ian must have been enduring an off year, employment wise. But I digress. I decided to rewatch it, mainly because I couldn't remember whether I liked it the first time. Note to self and readers: if you can't recall ANYTHING about a movie you PAID to see, chances are you didn't enjoy it, and rewatching it will only make you want a retroactive refund.

Alec Baldwin is the title character, and boy, does he suck. The whole movie sucks: premise, execution (WHY does The Shadow grow a weird prosthetic over-face whenever he uses his mystical eastern mojo? It's a great mystery of our time, lemme tell ya.) and performances, but Baldwin stands out as the worst performer of them all.

His acting consists of pursing his constantly glistening, wet lips, and occasionally furrowing his brow. Oh, and special effects contact lenses.
That's it. He growls, and purses, and gets heroically wounded (and then heroically laid, we may presume) but that's really it.

Perhaps it is a measure of the blissed out 90s that this guy was considered a super-hunk and Actor par excellence. If so, then in 2004 I've reached the pissed off portion of my hangover, and I want to obliterate all traces of my decade-long bacchanalia. Alec Baldwin? You're first.

I'm also holding a grudge because not only can Baldwin not act, he hasn't even maintained his supposed good looks, AND he can't even narrate a Thomas video properly. Talk about constantly putting the acCENT on THE wrong sylLABle. Yeesh.

Perhaps the folks over in Sofia could get a remake done that wouldn't suck? They could even utilize that scary wig Maxwell Caulfield wore in their latest Sci-fi Channel release--it could play the villain. No, JKrank, I am not over the Caulfield wig in Dragon Storm. I may never recover. I am even developing a theory that the wig in question, if ever coupled with the right actor, could destroy the world. Keep it out of Baldwin's hands!

Sigh. I have GOT to get a better hobby.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:03 AM | Comments (8)

February 17, 2004

Letter to TPTB

Dear Mother Nature -

Yeah, hi. Look, far be it from me to tell you how to run things, what with me being a lowly mortal and you being in charge of nature, but I thought I'd just drop you a line in the event that some things had been overlooked in light of your full schedule.

See, I live in what we like to refer to as the Sandhills of North Carolina. Notice the charming usage of the word "sand" there, to refer to a dessicated, dry surface usually associated with hot, sunny weather. I wonder if you might have gotten "Sandhills" confused with "Foothills" in your weather database. It's not uncommon for the foothills and mountains of North Carolina to see snow many times each winter. Here in the SAND hills, on the other hand, we pride ourselves on freaking out and laying in a month's worth of food supplies whenever a meteorologist happens to mention the word snow in passing. We don't do snow. Ever. So you might imagine our surprise at Yet. Another. Snow. Event. I think I speak for everyone here (with the exception of schoolaged children and possibly Hublet who is tiring of the soap opera that is his fourth period class) when I say, "Could you, like, STOP WITH THE SNOWING?!?!?"

Seriously, this is getting out of hand and I'm beginning to think that you waited for me personally to buy a new car so that you could turn our roadways into a combination of Deathrace 2004 and the demolition derby. I'm not feeling the amusement here. Let's just say that I chose not to live in North Dakota for a freaking REASON, that reason being white, fluffy and currently falling from the sky in the SAND HILLS, dammit.

And no, we're still not over the 20 inches of snow you "favored" us with a few years ago. See, we figure that tornados and hurricanes are our little crosses to bear, and they're quite enough, thank you. We're used to stifling heat, humidity that physically knocks you backwards when you step outside, and the mosquito hordes that roam our land from April through December. It's enough, we promise. We North Carolinians are a hardy people, but even we have our limits.

So could you knock it off with the white stuff and get down to baking our earth into dust?


Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)

February 12, 2004

And Now a Message From Your Hostess

Okay, until this whole hoo-ha intern thingy re: Kerry is over, Tightly Wound will be an election-free zone. I won't discuss candidates, scandals, or any of that crap, because frankly I think my head will explode. Not because I'm morally outraged, disappointed, or angry, but because I no longer have the stamina to endure round after round after round of media reports/arguing pundits/told you so bloggers fighting what amount to playground battles during a year in which we prepare to elect the leader of the world's current hyperpower. Good God almighty, is it too much to ask that people just give it a freaking rest already?

Apparently so. So for the forseeable future, I will be avoiding all of that draft-avoiding, medal-hurling, intern-boffing, Halliburton-scandaling, your side is way more eviller than mine, is this all a clever ploy by Hillary to cinch the nomination crap. Because crap it was, crap it is, and crap it will ever be.

Instead, I will mock academics and tell riveting tales of life with a toddler. Or not. It will depend upon my mood.

There. I have officially changed the channel on this superbowl halftime of an election. Welcome to the boob-free zone, and I ain't talking mammaries.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 03:34 PM | Comments (2)

February 10, 2004

And the Word of the Day is

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn`t get it.

Brought to you by this commenter on this entry:

I can't believe what type of person you are to go and blame Disney for tainting your child about clowns. Did you know that you can change the channel if you fear that a show about happy small small clowns will taint your child? You are in controlRemember Poltergeist and IT were movies? What is wrong with you? It is scary to know that people like you can get a drivers license let alone have a kid. There is so much stupidty is being spewed along this string and I am just as guilty for posting.

Of course, there is always an outside chance that he/she/it could be using sarcasm; thus I would be standing on the other side of the sarChasm, and boy, would my face be red. But I somehow doubt it.

Be careful with sarcasm, boys and girls. It's truly a WMD--witticism of mass destruction.


Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:54 AM | Comments (9)

February 06, 2004

Obviously, I Chose the Wrong Career

Temperamentally, it seems I am better suited for PR work. At least, if this guy is any indication of what passes for PR nowadays.

Full disclosure - I don't pay much attention to the nanotech stuff over at Instapundit and TCS, for various reasons. But I think I may start, if for no other reason than the fact that Glenn Reynolds' fairly innocuous (from what I've read and been able to glean) articles on the subject have caused this man to lose his freaking mind.

See, I've done (and still do) marketing. At no time was I encouraged to generate interest in the products I was selling by calling people who researched and wrote about them "delusional," "nutty," or "weird" denizens of their mothers' basements. I can only conclude that PR and marketing for the nanotech industry have decided to adopt an "in your face" approach. Perhaps that's appropriate for such cutting edge technology?

Or perhaps Mr. Modzelewski needs a vacation. I report, you decide.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)

February 05, 2004


Read the anonyblogging article in Slate yesterday...the thing that always strikes me when I read mainstream journalists' articles about blogging is that they all seem to be operating from the assumption that bloggers want to BE mainstream journalists, but that the bloggers must suffer from some mysterious social disability that forces them forever to remain hunched over keyboards in their parents' basements, Quasimodo-like.

I can't speak for everyone, but I like blogging because I'm not tied to deadlines or editors or anything else. I'm anonymous because I'm a little cautious about what I want to reveal to everyone on the internet and because I have a real job and don't want my personal life and my professional one to intersect in any way that could cause harm to me or the folks I work with. And I'd just like to add that my hump removal surgery was fairly painless, that I no longer eat with my hands in public, and that I have my very own cave right now, with net access and central air and everything. So there.

The thrust of Salon's anonyblogging article is that psuedonyms don't make for serious journalism, so neener, neener, go back to your basement, Quasimodo! Look, if you want to be a serious journalist, go be one. The reasons for blogging and for anonyblogging are as varied as the bloggers and their topics. In other words: Salon? We aren't lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportune moment to leap out, bludgeon you to death and steal your jobs. How about instead of thinking about bloggers as either unhinged Unabomber wannabes or your political enemies operating under cover of darkness you just read them, decide whether you like them, and if you want more information about something contained therein, ASK for it. Or, if you doubt the veracity of something on an anonyblog you could always, you know, do some LEGWORK. Surely they mentioned that once or twice in journalism school.

Blogs are just idea containers, not stepping stones to fame and fortune. And if you think they are stepping stones to fame and fortune, or displays of piquant jealousy aimed at the Holy Anointed Media, maybe you need to get out of YOUR mother's basement, Quasi. I can recommend a great surgeon to take care of that hump, and my real estate agent is available. Oh, and forks? Forks are great for getting food from the plate to your mouth. I can't believe it took me three decades to realize it! You learn something new every day, I guess.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:57 PM | Comments (7)

February 04, 2004

Please Stop. You're Embarrassing Me. Really.

See, it's stupidity like this that makes me want to download and distribute Metallica's entire oeuvre, just to spite the recording industry:

The Recording Academy plans to debut a public service announcement during the Grammys aimed at educating young consumers about the pitfalls of obtaining music from unauthorized sites like Morpheus, according to Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy.

"The cast of the spot is made up of young people who are into music, and in 30 seconds you can see the potential consequences (for) when there is a lack of music in the world," Portnow told Reuters in an interview.

What? So if little Bobby downloads a trash-pop single from teh innerweb, there will BE NO MUSIC IN THE WORLD EVER AGAIN!!!! OMGWTF?!?!?!

Gah. Yes, stealing is wrong. But I'm not really interested in hysterical PSAs from self-important porn-pushers masquerading as Protectors O Teh Artistes. Here's a Bette Davis sized eyeroll for you, dude.

Actually, that entire article is a giant hoot. Yes, put that all important video delay on the Grammys. THAT'LL help. Has it occurred to anyone that the wardrobe malfunction was merely a tame preview of the inevitable destination of the music industry? If you position your entire industry on attitude and shock value and not on content, eventually you're left with sun-tits at the Superbowl, aged hags tongue-kissing coeds, and declining sales. Hey, Music Industry? Your decline isn't all due to little Johnny and teh innerweb.

But cheer up! You haven't had live sex shows yet. And if that fails, there's always simulated cannibalism. That should be good for about a month's worth of shock value.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)

February 02, 2004

All Hail the Sun-Tit!

Well, The Boob Heard 'Round the World has come and gone, along with all the predictable responses. Me? I didn't see the boob live, as I was busy trying to kill a bunch of mercenaries on my PS2. But that's neither here nor there. I always find the reactions to "shocking events" much more interesting than the events themselves. Of course, I had to check out the photos on Drudge (and may I just say, OUCH! Six months of breastfeeding wasn't sufficient to toughen my parts enough to endure a piercing. Just, ouch!), and read all the reactions concerning what the boob MEANS to the CULTURE at LARGE, and I've come away feeling pretty bummed out. Not offended, not all self-satisfied and smirky at the bourgeoisie, just sort of "eh," and disappointed that after several thousand years of humanity and technological advances out the ying-yang, our big stamp on world culture is a tit with a sun on it. Dude, Astarte the big-breasted earth goddess had us all beat on the boobie score in 1400 b.c. It's true there's nothing new under the sun, but could we do a little better than just using the sun to decorate our naughty bits?

I don't think "lowbrow" culture is sufficient to describe this crap. It's not really the kind of thing I normally associate with lowbrow anyway--lowbrow is "Hustler" magazine and the Budweiser fart joke commercial. And "middlebrow" implies a general acceptance by the average person that the MTV sponsored sun-tit is emblematic of our culture. I don't think that's happened here, either. No, I would call the super bowl halftime show the perfect example of mono-brow culture, with all its attendant Neanderthal connotations. Mono-brow culture is exactly the sort of bestial sex-saturated skank set to a drum beat that pervades musical and visual mediums nowadays--it appeals to the inner caveman, and that's about it. Ugh! Me get women to be naked and oiled up! Ugh! Me have bigger cave, car and bling than caveman over there! Ugh! Me have kickass semi-automatic club! Ugh! Ugh! We get naked and make glorious Zug-Zug together! It's not shocking, it's not titillating, and it's about as much fun as Pauly Shore in Encino Man.

Hey, mono-brow culture? Get plucked.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:35 AM | Comments (7)

January 08, 2004

Parody, Real and Way, WAY Too Real

This is a parody, right? You know, like when that guy faked a Yahoo!News entry about Madonna going into politics? I can't find a citation on Drudge, so I'm sticking to the "this is a parody email" theory. It's a good theory, and gives me comfort in the dark of night.

On the other hand, I only wish this was a parody. Note to Dean--look, just stay away from the whole God thing, okay? Because every. Single. Time. You talk about it, you make an ass of yourself and people everywhere freak the hell out--unless causing folks to freak the hell out is a secret and previously unheard-of election year strategy that guarantees winning.

At this point, I don't care if God appeared to you in a vision and TOLD you to run for president, annointing you in oil and sending you off every morning to an angelic fanfare, holy talking points in hand. Just stop, okay? Please? It's embarrassing. Ooof.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:10 AM | Comments (6)

December 18, 2003

Bored Now. Next?

Why do I read Tina Brown? Must be that well-hidden yet surprisingly strong streak of masochism in my heart. Her piece this week pushes all the usual buttons about politics:

Repubs are "Top Gun," unsophisticated cowboys, blah, blah, blah throw in some academic credentials from a Berkeley hack named Lakoff-cakes.

It's not even worth a fisking, really. I mean, I'm to the point now where I just scan articles like this in order to reassure myself that the same five tired canards are in place and then continue my day with the knowledge that the sun is in its heaven and all is right with the pundits. Or left. Or completely unhinged. Whatever.

Look, here's my question for the Tinas, the MoDos, et al: Aren't you bored with this yet? Your weekly columns are the same ones you've been writing since November 2001, when it became apparent that the War on Terror wasn't gonna be just another piece of discourse, but a real, live, actual war. You know, with the shooting? You freaked out, and have been letting the freak flag fly ever since. Only it's the same flag every week, and it's looking a little tattered now.

Every week, we get the same formula:

1. Introduce subject by way of name-dropping or mentioning some fabulously high-toned social affair you attended.

2. Bemoan ineptitude of Bush administration on (pick one):
Foreign policy, Military strategy, Economy, Environment

3. Compare other side to (pick one): John Wayne, the Terminator, the EEEVVVILLLLE patriarchy, or (bonus points) the mentally ill. Double word score for tossing in quotes from an academic.

4. Beatify the "progressive mindset."

5. List all the horrors that will come from (insert event or policy announcement of day here).

6. Submit column.

7. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Perhaps the nice paycheck and the frequent cocktail parties with the progressive hoi polloi have numbed you to reality, ladies, but you've lost your edge. Aren't you bored by this yet? I sure am.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

A.M. Amusement

Via Drudge -

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF - News) announced today that it has decided to retire the A&F; Quarterly and will cease publication with the Christmas issue. While it has enjoyed success with the Quarterly over the years, the Company believes it is time for new thinking and looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the Spring.

Wow, maybe the new campaign will actually involve models who WEAR the clothes. For A&F;, that would be innovative indeed.

This just makes me laugh, not because I'm all "eek! Naked people!" but because the execs are going to try to spin the idea that clothing stores featuring models WEARING THE CLOTHES is somehow innovative. Who knew?

Word of advice, A&F; - while I admire the chutzpah of a firm that manages to succeed in selling overpriced, shoddy J Crew knockoffs via the ultimate Emperor's New Clothes strategem, you had to know that "underage pr0n" marketing was a short-term titillation at best. Now you're faced with marketing the actual clothes--your sales are probably going to suffer. Ah well, there's always Heroin Chic to cash in on...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

Sucking the Fun

I was watching my spanky new Pirates of the Caribbean DVD this weekend and playing SOCOM Navy Seals on the PS II when it dawned on me:

I haven't watched regular television programming regularly in a really long time.

I used to have several different shows that I never missed, but over time that's been whittled down to three--two that I try to never miss and one that I watch if I remember. Here they are:

Justice League (animated)
America's Funniest Videos

I'm sure I could do a long overblown sociological and psych analysis of myself based on this selection, but who cares? The fact is that there are only three shows I give even the tiniest bit of a rat's patootie about watching now, and those three shows have one thing in common: they're fun. Not didactic, not preachy, not au courant, not "edgy" or "topical," just entertaining.

I read the newest Nielsen reports, and I read Jonah Goldberg's essay on the death of television and to be honest, I agree. Not that TV is necessarily dead, but that what's out there now surely is. I mean, what's left? Hackneyed sitcoms? "Hard-hitting" dramas in which the same characters face a) substance abuse issues, b) topics that "resonate" or c) romantic dysfunction? Soft core pr0n?

You know things are bad when pr0n is boring. Seriously, people, Skin? Bad implants, bad acting, blah, blah, blah. I'm sure we would have had some gratuitous girl-on-girl shameless ratings grabbing, too. Yawn. I'm SO over it.

I'm also way, way, over being preached to by my television. Hell, MASH annoyed me with that crap when I was fourteen. A couple of decades haven't made me any more amenable to it; what they have made me is much more likely to find the writers responsible and throttle them. Yeah, I need to be shown the light by a bunch of folks whose idea of intellectual diversity is hot girl-on-girl action during sweeps week, with a nod to Kwanzaa in December. What. Ever. NEXT!

The bottom line, network TV, is that we just don't need you anymore. There are currently about a million channels out there, and if half of them come up with one good program a year, that's sufficient. We also have the internet, fun "cursed pirate" movies on DVD, and video games, none of which are trying to open my eyes to the harsh realities of a disease of the week or to teach me that living in the suburbs and enjoying the occasional Wal-Mart expedition is somehow bad and wrong.

Listen, TV people. Pushing the envelope and shocking the bourgeoisie is so seventies. We've moved on. You can either dig deep and find the fun or you can wither on the vine. America won't be terribly bothered either way. Well, as long as we can keep watching wacky pinata hijinks on AFV, that is.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:39 AM | Comments (6)

December 01, 2003

A PSA for Our Yankee Friends

I am back, fed and rested after a wonderful turkey day experience. Went to see Master and Commander on Friday, and enjoyed it very much. The movie part, at least. Actually, I should clarify. I enjoyed the MOVIE part of the movie, not the four hundred and seventy three mini-movies that the wags in Hollywood jokingly call "previews." When you are given everything but the money shot during a preview, it doesn't whet the appetite so much as spoil it. And they wonder why we've lost the art of patience in this country--we can't even wait until a movie is released to see the whole damn thing. Grr.

Oh, and can I offer a little etiquette advice to those of you out there we like to refer to as "yankees?" And I don't mean the baseball team, nor do I mean the generalized "Yank" term that brits use to refer to all Americans. I mean yankees as defined by southerners, which is to say, anyone who wasn't born south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Dear Yankee in the Movie Line: if you're annoyed because you're forced to stand in a movie theatre lobby because it's the DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING and things are a LITTLE BIT CROWDED and you have some DUMBASS SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT, could you at least have the courtesy NOT to remark that lines in a movie theatre are why "the South never rose again?" 'Cause, see, we don't like you to begin with, not really. That saccharine sweetness you hear in our tone? It's what we like to call "killing with kindness." The minute your tiny little pea head is turned we engage in knowing eyerolls and sotto voce expressions of "Yankee," which is code for, "Well, what did you expect, manners? Breeding? Common courtesy? The ability to breathe when the mouth is closed?"

Also, while it gives me satisfaction to know that you will spend the rest of your life being a short, fat, greasy, balding little boil on the ass of humanity, whereas I will return to my comfortable middle class lifestyle unencumbered by a stupid accent, piggy little close-set eyes or an attitude that apparently originated on the ninth level of hell, it would have given me immeasurably more satisfaction to have broken my foot off in your wide, flat ass, you pustulent little rodent. And the fact that Hublet, normally the mildest of mild-mannered people, would have gladly held you while I did so should give you an idea of how annoying you really are. But since I am a delicate flower of southern womanhood, I am far too polite to point any of that out to you. However, if you had any observational skills at all, my body language and facial expression would have made all of that abundantly clear. And you would have felt fear, little man. Cold, creeping tentacles of fear wrapping themselves around that dessicated husk you call a heart.

Not that I am in any way bitter. And I'm certain that any readers of mine hailing from parts north would be the very picture of politeness, if they were in a similar situation. RIGHT?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:40 PM | Comments (15)

November 25, 2003

Delinking. It's What's For Dinner.

Look, I know that the blogosphere is a vast and lovely place, "containing multitudes," to paraphrase Uncle Walt, but can we just all agree on one thing here? No, I'm not asking everyone to get along. Good grief. Can we all agree that the Delinking Hissyfit (tm) is a particularly juvenile, pointless activity, and that it actually does more harm to the delinker than to the delinkee?

I'm saying this because as we launch ourselves into Election Cycle 2004 with all the force of a tsunami, it's becoming increasingly clear that folks are less and less interested in listening to the other side's opinion and more interested in finding examples of "what's wrong with those people." Seriously. And yes, there is a difference between a fisking and a general demonizing--like there's a difference between Dennis Miller and Ann Coulter. Look, if you want to be the most obnoxious booster in the universe for your political beliefs, hey, knock yourself out. Name call, pile on, fling pejoratives high and low. But for the love of all that is holy, do NOT get on some sort of moral freaking high horse about how "So-and-so is no longer worthy of my blogroll. Off with his link!" Just post a critique, delink if you want to, but don't announce the delinking to all and sundry and expect the rest of us to be all "Oooooh! He showed THAT uppity blogger! He totally r0xorZ!". 'Cause the rest of us? Responding with a big, fat, virtual eyeroll, dude.

Frankly, a big delinking ceremony is the online equivalent of an intemperate two-year old throwing a fit. And I know all about intemperate two-year olds, so trust me, the comparison is apt. It doesn't help that the delinking usually follows ONE and only ONE post by a blogger that doesn't seem to fit the linker's preconceived notions about said blogger's political beliefs, either. Woah. Way to champion tolerance and promote your point of view by not only delinking someone who hasn't behaved the way you want them to, but announcing it like you've just won first prize in the ideological purity contest, and presenting it like that's somehow a GOOD thing.

Your blogroll is your business. It can reflect one point of view or many. It will probably change as your interests change. Linking and delinking is therefore no more personal than choosing between Coke or Pepsi at the supermarket. And if you think it is, or if you think that announcing a delinking makes you cool, or powerful, or whatever, then I've just got two words for you: Grow Up.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:48 AM | Comments (4)

November 20, 2003

Would the REAL Intellectual Zeitgeist Please Stand Up?

So a reader pointed me to this fun little article, in which the publishing industry attempts to explain why it is that the New York Times Book Review seems a little bit, erm, BIASED when it comes to reviewing right wing tomes.

The books compared are the same in terms of tone: in this corner, Al Franken and Michael Moore, who get multiple reviews, and in the other Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, who get none.

They sell similar numbers of copies, the content is the same--belittle and name-call the other side--so why the blatant disregard? Please, John Baker, enlighten us:

“I don’t think it’s a matter of shunning them because of their political slant,” said John Baker of Publisher's Weekly. “I think it sees itself as having the responsibility to pursue the intellectual zeitgeist as it were, and … not in things that it regards as comparatively transient in terms of political whims and currents of the moment."

Ahaahaahaahaahaa! Whew! Okay, let's recap. Conservatism, so-called in part because it's all about tradition and beliefs that have BEEN AROUND FOREVER is a "transient political whim."

Amazingly, this transient whim on the part of wacky, callow, insufficiently intellectual youths like William F Buckley, seems to have caught on in parts of the country! Why, whatever will those whippersnappers think of next?

Also, Mr. Baker, you might want to double check your local zeitgeist. The real youth of the country tend to poll a little to the right of the baby-boomers. But don't feel too badly--I'm sure that just like your generation, they'll get over it and see the light. Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:07 PM | Comments (13)

November 19, 2003

The Gift of Reality

I'm sitting at the stoplight this morning, waiting to make my left turn onto campus, idly sipping coffee and half-listening to the radio, when this commercial catches my ear:

"This season, give yourself the gift of Botox cosmetic. Before all the holiday get-togethers and parties. Botoxilin blah-blah-blah...Give yourself the gift of Botox cosmetic."

I almost missed my light. Yes folks, injectable paralytic bacteria is now being hyped as the perfect little accessory to go with your new strappy heels and party dress. You too can look like an escapee from Madame Tussaud's in all of your holiday photos! And you can spend all day on Christmas assuring your family and friends that yes, you do really like the gift, it's just that the facial muscles responsible for smiling have all been temporarily rendered immobile!

And did I mention that you're getting your face injected with Botulism? Just double checking, because for me that's sort of a deal breaker. It's your FACE. And you're deliberately injecting it with BOTULISM. See, no. It's called Oil of Olay, people, and as far as I know the side effects are a little bit of tingling, not needles jabbed into your head and four hours forced into an upright position so that the "toxin doesn't seep." When you whip out the word "seep" and use it in conjunction with MY FACE, little alarm bells go off. Same deal with the words "Botulism toxin," and "injected into."

Oh, and the fabulous paralyzed mannequin effect is only temporary, so in order to permanently look younger you have to repeat the procedure. A lot. And it's expensive! Whee! Sign me up, stat!

Listen to me. It's called AGING and we all do it. Use sunscreen. Moisturize. Lay off the cancer sticks and hydrate yourself. It's a helluva lot cheaper than having poison rammed into your head repeatedly. It's also a lot SANER than that, but hey! Let's not allow sanity to supersede vanity. This is America after all. Oh, and a footnote? No matter how many facelifts, botox treatments, peels, polishes, laser-finishes, sandblastings, and industrial strength shellackings you endure, you're still gonna end up looking like this. If you're lucky, that is.

Deal with it.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:55 AM | Comments (4)

November 12, 2003

Home Decorating

And not the Trading Spaces, paint in your hair, fabric stapled to your wall (or worse, straw glued to your walls if you have the misfortune to incur the "stylings" of one Hildi Santo-Tomas), check out the abs on the preternaturally telegenic "carpenter" type of decorating, either. No, I'm talking about the "dashing to Target or A.C. Moore and picking up a kid-friendly, seasonal themed doo-dad or two to help The Boy navigate the course of the year," kind of decorating.

It's Thanksgiving in two weeks, right? So I figure I'll pick up a pumpkin and turkey themed flag for outside, and maybe a candle and a couple of pilgrims for the dinner table centerpiece. Thanksgiving tends to get short shrift nowadays--the least I can do is introduce The Boy to the "Pilgrims and Indians give thanks and have big feast thingy" before some PC-addled first grade teacher forces him to color a pictogram of Plymouth Rock crushing people of color...but I digress. Fortunately I had purchased a Thanksgiving flag (smiling turkey on a field of pumpkins--no truth in advertising in the Big Arm household, thank you very much) last month, so that was no biggie. Now to find some pilgrims.

If you've been anywhere even remotely commercial in the past two weeks I'm sure you know what's coming. No pilgrims. Nary a buckled shoe to be found in the entire burg of Raleigh. Or in Cary. Or even in Garner. The Thanksgiving displays at the usual suspects (Target, AC Moore, Michael's, Wal-Mart, Kohl's, etc) consist of one run down shelf in the back with a "fall-themed" (read--brown with orange and red leaves on it) table runner, a few sad "fall-themed" candles, and MAYBE a ceramic or painted tin turkey. Okay. I want a pilgrim. No, strike that. I want TWO PILGRIMS. A little pilgrim man and a little pilgrim woman, striking Miles Standish poses on my "fall-themed table runner" and flanked by orange candles. Just like I remember from my childhood. WHERE ARE THE DAMN PILGRIMS?!?! It is a full 3 and a half weeks BEFORE THANKSGIVING, so I don't think it's too much to ask for the stores in question to reserve ONE shelf for items that are actually SEASON APPROPRIATE, unlike, oh, the FOUR HUNDRED FREAKING AISLES OF CHRISTMAS CRAP! That have been there since OCTOBER! Oh. My. GOD!

Dear Stores of America -

Thank you SO MUCH for rushing the Christmas season to the point that by November first I am completely inundated with red bows, holly berries, tinsel, santa, snowmen and carols, and therefore completely sick of Christmas by November 30. I'd send you a lovely bouquet to thank you, but I can't find any flora that isn't a poinsettia or an evergreen, so please accept this gaudy inflatable SpongeBob as Santa lawn ornament as a token of my thanks. Please ignore the fact that SpongeBob's middle finger is raised in a defiant salute--I'm sure that's just due to a glitch at the factory. And rest assured, if I DO manage to find a little statue of a pilgrim amidst your endless fake-snow-encrusted piles of crap, I will derive much joy from visualizing you placing said statue in a place where the sun most assuredly does not shine and then spinning. I will not, however, make that vision a reality, because I refuse to sacrifice my seasonal decor in the service of vengeance.

Big Arm Woman

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:44 AM | Comments (5)

November 11, 2003

I Had a Dream, I Had an Awesome Dream

Yeah, the title is from Lionel Richie. Don't tell me you've never had a Lionel Richie song stuck in your head.

I had a very bizarre dream last night. It was election night, 2004, and I was at some kind of convention/political thingy with a crowd of people, watching election results coming in on a really big screen TV.

Suddenly there was an excited buzzing in the room. Apparently California's results were coming in and George Bush was winning California! Everyone started yelling about landslides and precedents and Reagan and all this other stuff and confetti dropped from the ceiling--I must have been at RNC headquarters.

Meanwhile I had found a dark room off of the main convention floor. The room was empty except for a couple of computers and a large aquarium that had a hole in it. Water had poured out onto the floor, but the aquarium still had enough water left for the few fish that were swimming around in there. A Bill Gates-looking fellow was standing behind the aquarium, stooped over and peering through the hole as if trying to figure out exactly what had happened.

"What's going on?" I asked him.

"It broke," he said sadly.

Then I woke up confused, thinking that I needed to turn on the TV for election results.

I have no idea what any of that meant--was it a subconscious meditation on my belief that the Democrats don't have much (so far) to offer me in 2004? Was it a sinister portent of the eeeevilllle that will occur if Bush wins in 2004? Was it just that last glass of wine before bed?

I am clue free on that one, folks. But it was certainly a vivid dream and I felt compelled to share. Interestingly, I woke up in a good mood.
Does that make me a member of the eeeevillle GWB cabal? I've always wanted to be part of a cabal...but only if I get to carry the Hammer of Righteous Smiting and crush the bad guys.

Eh, it was probably the wine.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2003

I'll make this brief. Wait, I Lied.

You knew it was inevitable--but it's fun to read anyway. Sort of. Well, if you consider taking long thin strips of bamboo, setting them aflame, and then ramming them under your fingernails fun. But enough about my Friday evenings...

I know Michele over at A Small Victory was having concerns over First Amendment issues with this thing, and in some ways I see the point, but mostly I can't be bothered. Why? Because even though CBS isn't airing the flick, it's still being aired by Showtime. So it's not like they took it outside, shot it, burned it, and then salted the earth around it to protect our tender eyes. But according to Babs, showing it on Showtime is censorship, because:

The movie will now be aired on Showtime, where the difference in viewership is in the millions.

However, anyone missing out on the CBS experience is welcome to subscribe to Showtime to catch what they missed, so I'm not really seeing the OMGWTF CENSORSHIP111!!!11 argument here. But whatever. I was unaware that censorship meant "lower ratings share."

The comedy of this piece comes from the following three paragraphs, in which Barbra starts talking about the Dixie Chicks as though she would have even the slightest inkling about Country Radio, its target demographic, or any red state reality at all. Wearing a cowboy hat on the cover of an album you recorded in 1978 isn't really the same as living in Texas.

She follows that up by saying that her sainted party would never, ever try to muscle the First Amendment. Wow. I need to pause for a moment because my head? Spinning. Doing a pretty good Linda Blair impression, in fact. Perhaps a short list is in order here:

1. Non-partisan reality check, sweetie: EVERYONE tries to manipulate facts to their advantage, and an easy way to do that is to try and limit or change the facts your opponents present. It's called playing politics. We can argue about degrees and successes here, but please pull your head out of your ass long enough to recognize that simple fact. No political party wears a halo.

2. If you think a bunch of folks being pissy about a movie and letting CBS know about it is proof of a well-oiled Republican machine and not representative of anything else...well, see #1 above for some advice.

3. Nice caveat about The Reagans being a MOVIE and not a DOCUMENTARY--did your lawyer advise you to do that to avoid any possible libel charges? Just checking. Also, do you think anyone at CBS would have gone out of their way to make that distinction? Me neither. So what do you think the audience would have assumed? Yeah.

4. Also, relegating a piece of crap movie to cable isn't a sad day for artistic freedom, unless you think that every time Jean Claude Van Damme releases some straight-to-video-and-cable feature it's also a sad day for artistic freedom.

But don't worry, Babs. Reagan will be dead soon. And in the meantime, I'm sure Showtime will still send you guys the royalty checks whenever they air the "movie."

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)

October 28, 2003

Evolution of Language

So it's a slow Monday evening--I'm hanging at home, noticing the dearth of anything even remotely interesting on any of the several hundred TV channels, when there's a knock on the door.

ME: Well, look who the cat dragged in! The twins, Connotation and Denotation! What brings you by?

Denotation: We're fighting.

Connotation: Not fighting, exactly, merely having a spat.

D: Fighting, spat. Same difference.

C: Not really. Fighting is such an ugly word--spat is more descriptive of the type of disa...

ME: Okay, I assume there's a point here?

D: She's all mad at me about this article about Afghanistan.

ME: Let me see...

C: Look at that! Since when did terrorists become "Afghan rebels?"

D: They're rebelling against the status quo in Afghanistan, aren't they? "Rebel" is fine.

C: No it isn't. It gives them a veneer of respectability that they don't deserve--ooh, lookit the brave rebel freedom fighters! It conveniently leaves out all that honor-killing, explosive strapping, woman oppressing stuff. Rebels, my fat white ass.

D: Look it up. Rebel: "To refuse allegiance to and to oppose by force an established authority." What's incorrect about that?

C: Oh, you know damn well what's incorrect about that. Here's a definition for you, Miss "Look It Up;" Terror: "Violence by a group to achieve a political objective." Their political objective is to live in a perpetual, violent world circa 1350 AD.

D: And to do that, they're rebelling.

C: UGH! Do you know what you lack? Nuance.

D: I don't need nuance. I have definitions.

C: Oh, baloney. You know full well what you're doing by substituting "rebel" for "terrorist."

D: I can't imagine what you're talking about.

C: Please. I saw the way you looked at that AP reporter when he called on you to help with his story, with his earnest puppy-dog eyes and tousled sandy hair...

D: You're just jealous that he wasn't paying attention to you.

C: Oh, he was paying attention until I questioned his motives, and then he was all "Whatever, I guess I'll just have to look it up." and then you were all over him like white on rice. You have no shame.

D: Jealous, jealous!

C: Tramp!

ME: Woah, ladies! Look, I'm gonna have to side with Connotation on this one, D. Sorry, but don't feel too bad. It's not the first time a word has been hijacked by an idealist.

D: But...

C: And it doesn't look like it'll be the last, either, with her track record.

D: I didn't see you objecting when he was all "Hand me a Thesaurus, would you babe?"

ME: He called you "Babe?"

C: I guess I didn't realize it at the time...

D: HA!

ME: Okay, both of you, go home, make up, and take cold showers. Also, you might want to be a little more careful in the future. You know how those AP reporters can be, and you are responsible for our language, you know.

C&D;: Fine. We're leaving.

ME: Hey! Who left the AP Style Guide here? Hey! Come back!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)

October 15, 2003

Clowns, Damn Clowns, and Clowns From Hell

I know that I am not alone in fear and loathing of clowns. I found them terrifying as a circus-attending child, and had an aversion to them I didn't quite understand until the twin pop-culture forces of Poltergeist and IT solidified my adolescent prejudices: clowns are evil.

Yep, eeeevillle. Look, first of all, they're basically mimes in technicolor, which should be enough to put anyone off their lunch. Then there's the whole nose/wig/grotesquely oversized eyes and wide, wide, predatory mouth problem. NO ONE smiles that wide, ever, unless they are preparing to DEVOUR YOUR SOUL, MUHAHAHAHA!! Then there are all the negative cultural references: John Wayne Gacy, those hideously freaky sad clown paintings from the 60's and 70's, the Insane Clown Posse, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, The Day The Clown Cried...you get the picture. Clowns are embedded in our collective consciousness as very bad things.

So WHY did Disney, in its infinite wisdom, design a brand new show for toddlers about CLOWNS? Jo-Jo's Circus has been an instant hit with The Boy, and while the clowns are as friendly and innocuous as only Disneyfied clowns could be, they are still clowns.

It's lulling The Boy into a false sense of security about the scourge that is clowndom, and I dread the day that his little eyes are opened to the reality of clowns. It'll probably happen at the circus, too, because that's where most kids first confront the garish, big-mouthed freaks--in the cavernous empty darkness of the Big Top. Thanks, Disney. I'll be sending you The Boy's therapy bills.

Oh and PS - Target, WHAT is up with the giant eyeless clown mask decor dangling from your ceilings? Are you trying to kill me?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:33 AM | Comments (17)

October 14, 2003

One Nation, Under Something. Or Not. Whatever.

Dear Mr. Newdow,

I am going to state this once, and for your benefit, I will enunciate clearly and moderate my typing speed so that you may follow my reasoning:

You, sir, are an asshole.

Yep, an asshole. Not a principled atheist, not an ordained minister--minister of what, exactly, I must ask given that atheism tends to preclude religion--and frankly, not a very good father if you're using a nine year old girl to impose your views not only on her entire school, but also possibly upon a whole nation.

A nation, that, by and large, isn't much fussed over your cause du jour.

In your brief moments of lucidity, perhaps you ask yourself why America isn't all that up in arms over the massive daily threat posed by the Pledge of Allegiance. First of all, you don't even have to recite it if you don't want to. Secondly, last time I checked YOU weren't in fourth grade and your daughter, who is, "doesn't have a problem with it." And finally, well, because reasonable people don't REALLY BELIEVE that the words "one nation, under God" mean that if you aren't a Christian you will be put to death, relocated to Guantanamo, or that:

"Those who deny the existence of a supreme being have been turned into second class citizens by a government that continuously sends messages that 'real Americans' believe in God."

Here on planet earth, we like to call that statement "projection." Of course, maybe I'm just missing all those subliminal message billboards that read "Atheists are Big Doody-Heads." Maybe I need special glasses like yours to see them.

Or maybe, you're just mad that Everyone Hasn't Seen The Light And That Your Evangelistic Efforts Haven't Been That Fruitful, and your religious fervor to convert the unbelievers has gotten just a little out of hand. So you're attacking a phrase in the hopes that wiping it away will also erase that icky concept of God, or Yahweh, or Allah, or whoever you're getting all pissy about this week from everyone's consciousness. See, whether you're right or not isn't really the issue. The issue is your use of the First Amendment to throw a tantrum because everyone doesn't think the same way you do.

But mostly, you're just an asshole.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:30 AM | Comments (13)

October 09, 2003

Gee, Ya Think So?

I hated The Bridges of Madison County. Really. Hated it with a burning, fiery hate the likes of which few humans have witnessed and lived. However, unlike the tool in this news story, I didn't manifest my burning fiery hate by actually BURNING DOWN THE FREAKING BRIDGES.

Look, you arsonist ass, the actual bridges of Madison County are not to blame for the excrescence that is the book or the soporific bloated mass that is the movie. Frankly, your actions, instead of freeing us from those twin media menaces, mean that we can no longer conveniently forget that either of these things ever existed, because now everyone is talking about some crazy-ass firebug who is obsessed with burning down all of the Bridges of Madison County, and so the book is inevitably mentioned. Thanks for nothing, you loser.

Hmm, has anyone checked the alibi of Robert James Waller?

Incidentally, the money quote from the article linked above leads me to believe that these crimes will never be solved:

Investigators think all the fires are linked.

In other news, investigators think that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that the sun may rise tomorrow and that death and taxes are reasonably assured permanent status here on earth.

But my money's on Waller.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2003


  1. Ghost and pumpkin cling cutouts applied to front windows - check.
  2. Halloween flag, mailbox cover, and candles on display - check.
  3. 6 ft tall inflatable Freddy Krueger left in attic until The Boy is a tad older and less likely to be scarred for life by its presence on front porch - check.
  4. Tombstone lights festooning bulletin board and Boo Bowl full of M&Ms; on desk in my office - check.
  5. Evil Dead trilogy within easy reach, yet out of The Boy's sight for reason discussed in #3 above - check.
  6. Spanky new glow-in-the-dark Halloween pajamas washed and ready to go - check.
  7. Irritation at Target for having only 2 aisles of Halloweeny goodness RIGHT NEXT TO THE INFLATABLE FREAKING SANTAS - check.

All systems are go for Halloween at Big Arm Central. But I'm still rather pissy about the inflatable Santa situation--perhaps they meant to order inflatable Satans and someone made a typo? That still doesn't explain the lighted reindeer sillhouettes and Christmas ornaments, though. Sigh. Okay, brace yourselves, for I am about to utter the five words that mean I have Officially Entered Mid-Life:

When I Was A Kid you didn't see Christmas decorations at the end of September. They all magically appeared on Thanksgiving weekend, which made the yearly day after Thanksgiving pilgrimage to the mall even more exciting--it was like you had passed through the gauntlet of lesser holidays and now had been sanctioned to enter the secular world's high holy days of rampant consumerism. Christmas had a beginning and an end and amazingly they dovetailed with the Judeo-Christian observance of Advent. See how that worked? So that while we were all running around like crazy people and spending money we didn't have we could at least pretend that it was being done in concert with religious beliefs.

But nowadays, forget it. Christmas seeps into all the other months of the year. It's like someone left the Faucet of Holiday Cheer on, and it's filled up the sink, run over onto the floor, and is slowly making its way through the floorboards and onto the heads of everyone in the Basement of the Rest of the Year. It is pissing me off. I want to enjoy Fall--changing leaves, trick-or-treating, football, goofy yard displays involving three bales of hay, a scarecrow and a couple of pumpkins, and a nice leisurely journey into Thanksgiving. After that, I can get into the frenzy of baking, decorating and shopping, and actually enjoy it. But seeing Christmas decorations while I'm shopping for Halloween? It's like a big Sword of Damocles (albeit a sword tastefully festooned with white lights and a garland) hanging over my Fall. Stop it! I refuse to think about Christmas on September 30! I refuse, I refuse, I refuse! GRRR!

Oh, I forgot #8 on my checklist:

8. Transformation into Scrooge 3 months ahead of schedule - check. Thanks a lot, Target.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:12 AM | Comments (13)

September 29, 2003

I am Woman, See My Bra!

Let's get a few things straight here in Big Arm land:

I like bras. They are useful and sometimes fun. As I approach the age at which gravity reaches critical mass, I find that a well-made bra is a must have accessory. That said, I don't really think that a piece of underwear is a symbol of either feminine oppression or feminist control. It's underwear. It keeps the naughty bits from flopping about al fresco. Plus, you couldn't jog without one.

So you can see where I might differ with these feuding artistes of the San Fran variety. Yes, California has managed to bring you not one, but two dueling bra balls of freedom!

Thrill to the descriptions of size and mass!

Gasp as each artist claims the original inspiration!

Be amazed at straightfaced declarations such as:
He says they were going to collaborate, but he dropped her when she proposed using only some of the bras and sealing them with silicone, which he sees as demoralizing to women.


"It's a monument to the average American woman who is so strong, and yet no one talks about that," Duffy said. "She is solid in a very dense way -- the way the ball is. Women hold this world together."

And finally:
"For centuries, men have been using women's bodies to make art," she said. "This is a monument to us."

Note to the artists:

  1. Silicone is not demoralizing to women.

  2. Watch who you're calling dense, there, Ms. Pot. The Kettles are laughing at you.

  3. If the best monument to the power of women you can come up with is a bra, then feminism failed utterly. Plus, I would rather die unremarked and ignominiously than be memorialized by a giant ball of bras. The hell, lady.

  4. Finally, men have not "used" women's bodies to make art. I'm thinking there was some willing participation there. Also, women's bodies are nice to look at. You seem to be confused about the difference between art and prostitution. It may shock you to realize that you probably have more in common with Jesse Helms than with the art community on this score.

If I ever get around to writing that dissertation called "Art for Art's Sake: Mental Masturbation in Mixed Media," I'll be sure to include this article as Exhibit A.

Thanks to C. Houts for the link!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:53 PM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2003

In Other News, Some People Just Never Recover From High School

Yep, they're taking their toys and going home like the petulant little whiny-pants they are, and all because their audience didn't leap up to declare them the second coming of Christ when they acted like boneheads.

I suppose no one can possibly understand the pain of being the only three people in country music with the correct ideology. If I strain myself, I can hear a sad tune playing on the tiny Violin of Martyrdom.

Here's a big heaping helping of "What" with a side of "ever," ladies. If you come up with a political idea that isn't taken directly from Indymedia, we'll talk. In the meantime, have fun competing with Britney and Justin. Maybe if you're really lucky, Madonna will soul kiss you for ratings.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:05 AM | Comments (9)

September 09, 2003

Fools, Damn Fools, and Folks I'd Like to Slap

Boy, 9-11 just really ups the ire quotient 'round some parts, and not in the way you'd think. It seems that some people find online commemoration like Michele's Voices project tacky, because it means she hasn't moved on fast enough. Or they're pissy at James Lileks for being, I don't know, emotionally affected by an act of war. Apparently, he doesn't have the right to be affected because he didn't lose his mommy in the towers, or some such piece of tripe. So let's get the thought processes of these folks straight:

1. Empathy is bad, because it makes you have feelings for Actual People Who Died, when what we should really be doing is remembering 9/11 as a symbol of rapacious capitalism getting its comeuppance.

2. If you didn't lose someone in the twin towers, you have no right to commemorate 9/11 on YOUR OWN FREAKING BLOG, WHICH YOU PAY FOR YOURSELF IN THE UNITED STATES OF FREAKING AMERICA. See number 1 above for further clarification.

3. If you are tacky enough to actually experience empathy, or to remember the attack as an act of war and not a symbol of the fruits of orientalism, then you deserve to be ridiculed in the following manner:

  • You shall be called a coward for not including your Social Security Number in your posts in the interest of full disclosure

  • Ad hominem, ad hominem, ad hominem, blah blah blah sticks and stones cakes

  • Your intellect, motives, and race will be mocked

Again, see number one above for clarification.

And finally, some moron will come out of the woodwork and declare a big, morally equivalent "whatever" on the whole thing (see comments from one "neil"). How very non-evolved.

Of course, all of this will be done in the name of "greater understanding" and "moving on." Note to the "movers" whose views are represented above: Irony will be stopping by your home later, and she'll be bringing a hammer.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)

September 05, 2003


Can anyone say, "Freaked out publicist?" I can.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

Oh, Look! I Just Spit a Nail!

So I must be feeling a bit testy, what? It's been a weird week--one day too short, which, while I don't mind the time off, has thrown my internal work-clock into disarray. Day four of early rising and bleary-eyed toddler wrangling and coffee drinking and traffic means Thursday, not Friday! Good grief, my worldview has just been destroyed! I'm so discombobulated I may just throw caution to the wind and get a pedicure during lunch! Decadence! End of the world! Plus, it's a workday after a girl's night out, so I'm feeling rather decadent to begin with--a three hour dinner with plenty of alcohol and sex talk will do that to a person.

And I'll need a relaxing calf and foot massage after this morning's three hour torture session, otherwise known as the Beginning of the Year Program. Some of you may fondly recall my rant last May about our End of Year Program. Well, the Beginning Program is a lot like that one, except instead of watching our Vice Chancellor play dress up and mispronounce employee names, we get to watch our Vice Chancellor shill for the State Employees Combined Campaign and mispronounce employee names. See the difference? Yeah.

Okay, I've got no problem conceptually with the Combined Campaign. What I do have a problem with is the coercive way in which it is presented. Basically, the edict comes down from the top that NC State needs to look good with this charitable event. By the time it trickles down through the various Vice Chancellors, it's turned into a percentage game. "Last year we had 85% participation, and I want to do at least that well this year!" I think anyone who's worked anywhere, ever, knows what happens next. Politics, politics, politics. Gah. See, hublet and I give to charities. We also give "presence, prayer, gifts and service" to our church, which also results in giving to charities, cooking meals at the local shelters, etc. I like to pick and choose. Myself. Without Big Brother breathing down my neck about how "Charities are Double Plus Good" or something and toting up the percentage points so that we look good for the honchos. I'm such the rebel. Plus, missing the point of charity much, honchos?

The breaking point is the inspirational video they show. This year I sarcastically remarked to a friend, "cue the sad-eyed children video" as they got really cranked up, and guess what the first image was? So okay. We see the usual montage of death, starvation, cholera, terminal illness, and suffering children overlayed with the super cheesy theme song for the year. We. Get. It. It's a simple way to do your charitable giving. It's a good idea! We GET IT! We don't need to spend 5 minutes with the 4 horsemen to grok the concept. And then they wind up the video with images of 9/11. My friend and I looked at each other, our eyes wide, as shots of the plane hitting the second tower and the towers falling played on the screen. The. Hell. People. I had the same sick, embarrassed feeling I got when I saw advertisers blatantly using flag imagery to sell a product after 9/11--like something dirty was happening in front of me and I couldn't stop it or get away.

I spent the next 10 minutes analyzing my reaction as the Vice Chancellor stumbled through the roster of new employees. There's nothing wrong with showing the real horrors of suffering to people who aren't acquainted with it. There's nothing wrong with reminding us that disaster can happen anywhere. There's nothing wrong with trying to wake people up to the necessity and goodness of charity work. But I have to draw the line at shameless emotional manipulation of this sort, because it almost seems cynical on the part of those creating it, like they were sitting around going, "You know, I don't think the song's lyrics are coming across properly. Let's superimpose the words over an image of the WTC in flames with an American flag flying in the background! That'll force 'em to give us cash!"

The second anniversary of 9/11 is next week. I want to remember it appropriately. I may even donate some money to a charity that day. But my money and my memory won't be tainted by opportunistic advertisers playing politics with charity. Put that in your Combined Campaign and smoke it.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:41 PM | Comments (2)

September 03, 2003

Been There, Heard That--a.k.a. Get a New Meme, Dumbass.

Oh, look! Another ex-pat celeb has graced us with pearls of wisdom, no doubt culled from his vast intellect--oh, wait, it's just Johnny Depp. Never mind. See, like the author of this piece, I'm conflicted about the Deppster. I usually enjoy his movies, because he's very good at being someone else. I like the Else-Depp, and would be perfectly content to forget the Real-Depp, particularly when, every time he opens his mouth, something banal or inane or childish comes out. I mean, really, Johnny--"a dumb puppy?"

If you were going for insulting, I think you missed. I like dumb puppies--they're happy go lucky and carefree, and generally won't bite you on the ass unless you are mean to them. Of course, there's the whole housetraining thing, but you can fence in your yard and solve the problem...but I digress. For some reason you seem to think that dumb puppies are also mean puppies. Or did you really mean the whole "broken toy" analogy instead? You're mixing your similies, J. Pick one and stick to it--otherwise you sound disjointed and possibly stoned...oh, nevermind.

Don't worry, little Real-Depp. I'm not going to go out and run a steamroller over a copy of What's Eating Gilbert Grape because you're dissing the motherland, although you would probably be happy if I did, as it would be a vindication of your small-minded stance about America. I won't even tell you to shut up. But I will sit here and smirk in a superior manner at your hollow self-righteous posturing. Hopefully, that will drive you mad. Because all great artists are slightly insane, and that means that you'll continue to make good movies.

That's the bottom line, Johnny, and one you should pay attention to. For all of your deeply held beliefs about life and art, you're still just a product. And we'll consume you until we tire of you, then we'll forget all about you. Sort of the way a dumb puppy treats a chew toy. Hmm, guess you had a point there, after all.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:42 AM | Comments (5)

August 28, 2003

No Snappy Title. Just an Observation.

For the record, I am positive that the fellow being quoted here is joking. But his words are very revealing of a certain mindset. The quote in question refers to the French government's brilliant idea that maybe one more day a year of productivity might help them (read the article--it's great!) finance health care for the elderly and prevent another disaster like the one this past summer. Here it is:

Transport Secretary Dominique Bussereau said he opposed abolishing a May 8 holiday that celebrates the end of World War II in Europe, or Christmas, or Armistice Day on Nov. 11, when fighting stopped in World War I.

"Definitely not May 8, because it left quite a few memories; not December 25 because I want Christmas presents," he said. (emphasis mine)

Yes, Secretary, if the French Government takes away the day off for Christmas, it means that the BIRTH OF CHRIST MUST BE WIPED FROM OUR CONSCIOUSNESS! NO PRESENTS FOR YOU, BY ORDER OF THE STATE! Dear God. I know he was probably just trying to be droll, but isn't it interesting what his drollery reveals? When you believe in the State above all, then you couldn't possibly hold a celebration that wasn't state sanctioned, could you? I would say that this subjection of individuality to the state is Orwellian and disturbing, but actually it's just typically French.

The rest of the article is lots of fun. Thrill to the outrage of the Communists! Gasp at the oblivious selfishness of the trade unions! Wonder at the doomed naivete of the French business federation! And when you're done, thank God that you don't live in France.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 02:01 PM | Comments (1)

August 27, 2003

Quick Note

To the person who found my site by searching on "women uterus humility," you are Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Seriously.

Weirdest. Search. Ever.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:56 PM | Comments (3)

August 26, 2003

Inchoate Rage

My mood, in two words. Seems like we get an influx of the stupid this time of year, and what with the heat and my schedule, my tolerance is low, low, low. So, in no particular order, here's a list of stuff that's making me mental:

Leaving children in hot cars. I'm sorry, there's no excuse for this. None. Ever. I can see leaving a bag of groceries in (or even on top of--don't ask) a car because you're "rushed," but not a child. These stories make me feel physically ill, and they make me paranoid that It Could Happen To Me!

I'm not sure under what circumstances it would slip my mind that I have a child in the car with me, but whatever--it taps into that same vein of irrational, primal fear I had at the beach where I was convinced that I was going to accidentally drop The Boy off the balcony, regardless of the fact that I never even went out ON the balcony with him during the entire stay. Sometimes my imagination is not my friend.

The iron fist of "tolerance." Hooray for The Fire, as they are successfully suing these draconian dipshits. But take a gander at the "unreconstructed" language of the original policy, which defines harrassment rather broadly:

Harassment shall be defined as unsolicited, unwanted conduct which annoys, threatens, or alarms a person or group.

Well, I'm alarmed at this assinine policy. Can I sue for harassment? It's called the Real World, you bunch of idiots--we're not all just going to get along, no matter how hard you try to legislate human thought and emotion.

I wonder if Shippensburg University considers my mocking of them harassment; after all, it must be somewhat alarming when you're told that your worldview is pernicious and misguided...and it must be extremely annoying to be successfully sued for First Amendment violations. Do you think they feel "threatened" by this "unsolicited, unwanted conduct?" I hope so.

Finally, the Big Ass Mel Gibson Jesus Movie Freakout of 2003. Seems some folks think there will be crazed rioting in the streets by Jew-hating fundies looking to focus their rage when they discover that "The Joooooz gave the order to kill Jesus!" Let's see...how many Jew-hating fundies do you think are willing to sit through three hours of Blood and Aramaic to find fuel for their righteous fire? Zero? Yeah, that's about right. It's a movie critics will talk about and scholars will attempt to lend "gravitas" to, but that no one will actually SEE, except for those folks who want to impress the cocktail party set. And a post-film pogrom is a touch too "bourgeois" for them, so I think we're safe.

Ahh, venting. Good for what ails me. Well, that and a fifth of gin, but I'm at work.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:02 AM | Comments (7)

August 19, 2003

Now this is just pure laziness

So Al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for the blackout? I suppose I should come clean about a few things as well:

The heat wave in Europe? All me. Me and my Mazda 626, which is equipped with a super-secret weather controlling device and invisibility shield. The control panel is located under my toddler's car seat. I am a fiendishly clever, diabolical and power hungry villainess! Muhahaha!

I plan to bring Europe to its knees with WEATHER! And then I'll make my demands--One MILLION DOLLARS, or the continent fries! Again I say, Muhahaha!

Way to capitalize on current events, A.Q.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:51 AM | Comments (4)

August 13, 2003

"Funny" is Taken. How About "Tired Old Hack?"

Okay, I saw this article and had two thoughts:

1. That's stupid.

2. Al Franken is a humorist?

Umm, I remember his one-note schtick on SNL WAAAAYYYY back in the day, before Stuart Smalley. You know, where the entire punchline was about sending money to Al Franken? Yeah, I was ten and I knew it was lame. I kept thinking, "For the love of GOD, man! Quit sucking the oxygen out of the sketch comedy and get on with the humor! Where's Mr. Bill?" Again, I was TEN. But my taste in humor was impeccable. Franken and Davis as writers behind the scenes? Funny. Franken alone in front of the camera? Not. Maybe someone should have told him that back in 1979. It would have saved everyone some pain.

Stuart Smalley never appealed to me, either. The only one of those sketches I remember had Kiefer Sutherland doing a great rip-off of Franken. That was funny, which makes me wonder if you can count yourself a successful humorist when people only find humor in other people mocking your humor...or something like that. And so now he's written another humorous tome, with another highbrow yet amusing title. Whatever, guy. We all know that you secretly wish you were PJ O'Rourke, but you're not. Enjoy the free publicity and then retire. And while you're at it, if you could refrain from splattering the reading public with bon mots like these:

"As far as the personal attacks go," Franken responded, "when I read `intoxicated or deranged' and `shrill and unstable' in their complaint, I thought for a moment I was a Fox commentator.

"And by the way, a few months ago, I trademarked the word `funny.' So when Fox calls me `unfunny,' they're violating my trademark. I am seriously considering a countersuit."

We would be grateful. You're not bringing the funny, guy. You're making us all uncomfortably aware of your lack of the funny, in fact. That lawsuit should be a goldmine of comedy, but you're going straight for the third grade invective. And Ann Coulter's already got that category sewed up, plus she's got better legs.

And Fox? Lighten up!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:12 AM | Comments (2)

July 24, 2003

A Question. Or Twelve.

Hey, lady! Yeah, you, standing next to me in Target, having a REALLY LOUD conversation on your nifty walkie talkie phone. I have a question for you: WHY are you using a walkie talkie in public? You look to be about 35 or more, so I'm not thinking it's because you're in the middle of a really involved Power Rangers roleplaying game. No, I'm serious. Are you doing it because it wasn't annoying ENOUGH to force me to listen to a one-sided loud conversation that I cannot ignore until I locate the merchandize I need and get the hell out of the aisle we're in? Do you feel that you need to up the annoyance ante to avoid being grouped in with the unwashed plain cell phone masses? Are you some sort of audio exhibitionist who doesn't CARE that everyone within a four aisle radius of the contraceptive section can hear the intimate details of your life? Is there no freaking EARPHONE with that damn contraption? And the beeping! After! Every! Single! Sentence! Thank you, we are all aware that you're using a radio phone. Yay. You get an award for being on the cutting edge of annoying ass-dom. I am going to go ninja on your ass with a bag of Huggies, Miss Thang, and I can guarantee you that no jury in the world will convict me when I do.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

July 22, 2003

This Means War

Because I am here to help, I feel that I must pass a little bit of advice on to my friends in the media:

It's not 1972. I promise. I don't know what they taught you in Journo-school, but I imagine that there was a lot of hyping of the glory days of Vietnam and Watergate, with Woodward and Bernstein appropriately sanctified in your collective consciousness. As far as it goes, a little of that is fine. However, if the daily worship sessions at the altar of the Sainted Lady of Crusading Journalists somehow gave you the mistaken impression that journalists are "at war" with the government, then you and your professors have missed the point. And I believe that this might be the case. Here's a quote to that effect from your brethren at the BBC:

“We all called it a war – the greatest ever war between the BBC and the government," said Andrew Marr on BBC Radio 5 today, on the death of Dr David Kelly "We never meant it like that. We never thought there would be any casualties.”

Umm, dude? How exactly were you parsing the meaning of the word "war," then? 'Cause I don't know about you, but the connotations of war have to do with death and violence, and even if you were speaking figuratively, your word choice was, well, how to put this delicately--completely freaking assinine. And when a professional Beeber comes out and says that the folks in the media were walking around referring to being in "the greatest ever war between the BBC and the government," well, let's just say that your credibility and our belief in your veneer of journalistic impartiality suffers.

Not that I believed it to begin with. Every news story I've been a part of, even tangentally, has been reported inaccurately. The best example is from my glory days at Barnes & Noble, when the local rag (the News and Observer) ran a story on the new store. At the time it was a big story, and we all knew that the angle was going to be "Big Freaking Chain Puts Mom & Pop Out on the Street!" but I didn't realize that they would actually fabricate stuff--like the square footage of the store--to make their point. How do I know it was fabricated? Well, because I was the one who brought the actual store blueprints out for the reporter to see. I watched the reporter ask the square footage, saw the store manager Point To The Actual Number On The Blueprint, and saw the reporter jot it down. Somehow between the jotting and the typing, our store grew to Super Wal-Mart proportions. Apparently, our modest B&N; wasn't nearly huge enough to terrify the masses, so it needed embellishing. Either that, or the reporter was a moron. Neither scenario makes the media look particularly impressive.

Small example? Sure. But my point is that if journalists can't get the most basic details right, why should I or anyone else think that they get ANYTHING right? Journalists exist to find and record facts. And don't give me that subjective reality crap, either. Sure, different folks will interpret events differently--that's why you interview more than one person. I am sick of reading and listening to what amounts to Op-ed pieces parading as hard news. I am equally sick of all the "media analysts" picking at their navel lint and ignoring the elephant in the center of the room--you know, the big pink one with the sign reading BIAS around its neck. But mostly, I am tired of the attitude that in order to be a journalist, you must be some sort of holy crusader, always at war. Some famous guy once said, "Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself." The NYT and the BBC should have listened to that guy--he seems pretty smart. Who was that again? Oh yeah, it was Nixon.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:10 AM | Comments (3)

July 21, 2003

Most. Pointless. Show. Ever.

The Future is Wild on the Discovery Channel.

Okay, so some programming exec was sitting around mulling over the popularity of the Walking With Dinosaurs and Walking With Prehistoric Beasts shows and thought, "Hey! We need more shows with CGI beasts that don't exist! I know, let's make some shit up and call it evolution! Ratings gold, baby!"

And voila! The Future is Wild. Full disclosure: I only saw the final 15 minutes, so I don't know if they ever explained exactly why we had sent a space probe to earth (my guess: EVIL HUMANS CAUSE GLOBAL WARMING AND DESTROY ALL LIFE AS WE KNOW IT--but that's just a stab in the dark...), but for me the most pressing question was this:

What do the REST of the silver spiders eat, you bozos? See, they spend all this time interviewing "evolutionary biologists" (a.k.a. our Wild Guesses about the future count more 'cause we've got PhD.s) about the fabulous things that could happen if spiders cooperated, and then they set up this elaborate society where all the worker spiders harvest seeds to fatten up the unsuspecting mammals who are then food for the Queen Spider! Dun dun duuuuuuunnnn! So, what are the other spiders eating then? Just curious. This sort of thing drives me nuts. If you're gonna try to draw me in, please pay attention to the details. I do, and now I am going insane wondering what some hypothetical piece of CGI is gonna freakin' EAT 100 million years from now. Dammit.

Sigh. Look, Discovery Channel, I like you. If you want to make some crap up and computer animate it, fine. But can we stop pretending that it's anything other than some guys sitting around going:

"Huh-huh-huh. It would be COOL if octopuses climbed trees."

"Yeah, huh-huh-huh. And, were like, really big and stuff."

"Ooh, with evil poison fangs!"


Okay? I mean, we might watch that anyway, without the veneer of psuedo-scientific accuracy. It's July after all, TV is a wasteland, and we have to wait a whole month before we get to Shark Week--now with new improved footage of an actual shark attack! Which begs the question, what will they do next year? Toss a toddler out with the chum? But I digress...

We nature voyeurs aren't that picky, but what does it say about you and us when regular nature, "red in tooth and claw" is no longer sufficiently interesting?

I think it says it's time to read a book. But that's just me.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:19 AM | Comments (5)

July 17, 2003

Damn You, User.

Okay, the blog has been dullsville for the past few days, and it hasn't been because I've suddenly discovered the joys of Paxil. No, it's because I've been Insanely Busy at Work. And while that in and of itself is not bad, the REASON for my insane busy-ness is annoying in the extreme. See, we're a forward-thinking, hepcat kinda techie university, and so we figure that we'll help our 'net savvy students out by emailing them all the info. they'll need to when they come to campus this fall. Sounds like a plan, no?

No. It was a bad plan. A heaping helping of Bad! Plan! with a nice little side of Dammit! for garnish. See, some of the information the students will need is private, so they need to log on with their SSN and birthdate to get it. There's a little web page with the little boxes and even little examples of how to enter the info into the little boxes, so that everything pops up and they can be happy or pissy or whatever. Well, on Monday the Wonders of Technology met their most dreaded foe: The User. The User who cannot read. The User who cannot follow directions. The User who, for whatever reason, is using a browser that doesn't like 1k gif files. The User who calls the front desk and freaks out the ancient ladies there who FEAR THE EVIL TECHNOLOGY and forward the User's call to me. The User who suddenly has a lightbulb go off when I inform them that a) using YOUR Social Security Number when you're the student's MOTHER won't get you the info. you seek, and that b) the four digits in the example mean that you ACTUALLY NEED TO USE FOUR DIGITS IN THE BOX. The User who, after sending me fourteen separate emails, each one detailing a different glitch in the process, calls me on top of it to make sure I got the emails. I hate the User. A Lot. And I'm not even a programmer, for crying out loud!

So I change the User Interface to FORCE them to enter the information in exactly the format I require. Does this stop them? Why no, no, it doesn't. And so I leave work yesterday and go to the Evil Zombie Pirate Movie With Johnny Depp in order to relax. This works until I realize I must stop at the craptastic Food Lion for a gallon of milk. One gallon of milk. One single, solitary, plastic encased gallon of cow juice for the boy's breakfast. It's 9:30 p.m. in the middle of the biggest, most violent thunderstorm I've seen all summer, and I need a gallon of milk. I dash from the truck to the store, grab the milk and head for the checkout, when I realize that I am trapped in Big Grocery Hell. Every toddler in the county is out--at 9:30 in a giant storm--with parents who are buying enough food to feed North Korea. I have One. Gallon. Of. Milk. So I head to the self-checkout, where a little boy is scanning a small amount of groceries while his dad bags. Should be quick, I think, but noooooo. I have encountered another User. The ice cream won't scan. The self-check mistress can't fix it. The dad is clueless. The toddlers are screaming. And the self-check machine keep saying, Please Remove This Item and Continue Scanning. My hand is cold from the milk. I am tired. I wonder what I did in a past life to deserve this. I affix the patented Big Arm Woman Death Glare to the machine, the father, and the assorted Food Lion occupants. Fortunately, this appears to work, and after a painful 5 minutes of the dad trying to figure out how to pay (hint: It might involve that GIANT RED RECTANGLE MARKED PAY NOW) I get home.

My sleep wasn't restful, because me, hublet, the Boy, the dog and the cat all shared the bed due to thunderstorm trauma. And now I am back for a third day of dealing with The User. I am not helped by being forced to repeatedly endure the high-pitched hyena laugh of the annoying curly haired intern from hell. Really, it's not that funny, curly haired intern. I promise. NOTHING is that funny. EVER. I am hungry, and if I have to deal with ONE MORE INEPT USER today, I may actually explode. Of course, I must now go to the bank. Listen hard at noon EST--if you hear a muffled pop, know that I have finally shuffled off this mortal coil, another hapless victim of technology.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:30 AM | Comments (3)

July 08, 2003

Off the Rails

Got the latest issue of the Oxford American yesterday. Back in January, I wrote about why the new, improved OA pissed me off. Since then, I hadn't paid attention to the issues beyond a quick "skim and trash" procedure to make me feel like I was getting my money's worth.

But yesterday the July/August issue arrived, and it had a very well done article on Jim Hatfield, the con artist and petty criminal who tried to realize his dream of becoming a professional writer by inventing history. Anyway, I was impressed with the article and decided to read the rest of the magazine, beginning with the Letters page.

All I can say is, the hell, people. Apparently, I wasn't the only person who took issue with the reissue of the OA. However, the letters section went beyond criticism of the mag--it was an outright flamewar worthy of the comment threads on a site like Little Green Footballs.

Here, let me share the fun:

First, we get the usual selection of letters that actually reference articles in the magazine. Whatever. But toward the end, it gets a little, well, wacky. One lady writes to complain about a photo of a turtle being held upside down. TURTLE TORTURE! DEAR GOD, NO! She cancels her subscription in a huff. (Note: she hails from Sonoma, CA. Insert regional mockery here.)

Another guy writes to complain about the photo essays in general. I have to concur, on the grounds that they are an obvious way to "pad out" the issues without having to pay writers for columns. That would be a legitimate complaint--the new OA seems awfully thin on content--but he focuses on the fact that seven pictures of old people in Florida just suck. Okay. Moving on...

Then the "Stop the Liberal Agenda" letters begin. Best quote: "Spare me the anti-Southern views and youthful angst!" Hee! That made me giggle.

And this one, which I will quote at length, and which also complains about the photos of old people:

"We are not a bunch of inbred, Marlboro smoking tattooed, tater-eating, screwing-our-first-cousins bumpkins...And what is with the nine pictures of old Northern women and men sitting in nursing homes...Who wants to look at a bunch of wrinkled Yankees?"

I must've missed something good with that old folks issue...Hee! Moving on, we get a letter of praise from a Yankee (oh, THAT will go over well with the "you Yankeefied the magazine" crowd), someone who cc'd Trent Lott on his letter to the editor about the same subject, and then this crazy-ass screed that gave me a blogwar flashback:

"I see that you have run afoul of the `don't diss my Fuhrer' mentality so often expressed by right-wingers of the Republican party, who organize these letter-writing campaigns to intimidate those who have other ideas about the country or state they live in."

Yep, we've managed to invoke Godwin's law on the letters page of the OA. The writer goes on to reveal all sorts of weird southern self-loathing, adds some conspiracy theory speak and a dash of vitriolic name calling, and finishes by claiming that the critical letter writers are intolerant and hateful. I had to check and see if the guy's last name was Pot, because if so, he should expect a call from Kettle ANY DAY NOW. Geez, dude, calm down!

Oh, and in case you're interested, the fiction selection still sucked. Guess I'm glad I'm letting my subscription lapse; I really don't need the added stress of flamewars in my coffee table reading, you know?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:15 AM | Comments (4)

July 01, 2003

See, This is Why I Took Spanish.

A couple of weekends ago, hublet and I took a tour of Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home. In the entryway, mounted in a small glass case on the wall by the staircase, was a large iron key. The tour guide informed us that it was the key to the Bastille prison in France, sent to Washington by Lafayette to symbolize the power and hope of revolution.

I remember remarking to hublet that Lafayette would have been better served to have sent HIMSELF to Washington, as he fell victim to the revolution shortly after sending his gift to Mt. Vernon.

I also remember wondering again WHY the French cannot seem to get anything right that doesn't have to do with hollandaise sauce, and then moving on. Then today I came across this little item and was moved from bemusement at those silly frenchpeople to extreme levels of disgust and pissed-offitude.

See, during this whole "France throws a hissy fit, tries to stand on moral ground while appeasing dictators, covers its own ass, attempts some weird tri-lateral UN coup, fails, then tries to pretend that they don't REALLY hate Americans and wish us all dead so we should visit them and give them our money because Woody Allen says so" fiasco of this past spring, I always thought it was unfair to berate them solely on the basis of what we did in WWII. Sure, it was accurate, but it seemed kind of petty, and besides, there was so much RECENT stuff to berate them for that WWII didn't even need to come into play.

But I'm over that. I'm totally and completely over the notion that somehow WE need to be the bigger person, that WE need to just laugh it off and move on, that WE shouldn't believe that the entirety of the French nation loathes, despises, and wishes us ill. Because when you desecrate historical memorials, you aren't caught up in the passions of the moment. You are trying to erase past realities for the sole purpose of elevating yourself at the expense of others. You're also showing your true colors by throwing a petty little hissy fit.

And you know what, France? Your true colors suck. What's french for "bite me, you scum-sucking morons?" Or maybe I'll just shoot them a virtual bird. No words necessary, and the minimalism should appeal to the artistic sensibilities of those gallic geniuses across the pond.

UPDATE: A reader informs me that it wasn't Lafayette who was executed during the Revolution. I remember reading something deliciously ironic along those lines, though. Perhaps I have confused the famous person? Anyone here able to help me out? I'll try to locate my original material later, but I think the book is in my attic. Sigh. Anyhoo, thanks for the correction.

UPDATE, PART THE SECOND: Much ado about nothing, apparently. See here and here for full details. Sigh. Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed in the morning. Now I have to go and find other reasons to get pissy about France. Fortunately, I probably won't have to look too hard.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:27 AM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2003

A Short PSA

Went to DC with hublet this past weekend, to do some museuming, and headed over to the Holocaust museum. While we were in the Ukraine section (for those who haven't been, the exhibit is in parts, from Hitler's rise to power through liberation of the death camps; the Ukraine section details what happened to Jews in countries defeated or occupied by Nazis), an elderly man in an army cap who was standing next to hublet suddenly said, "I was there."

He told hublet that he avoided the camps because his mother would take him and his sister out to the woods when the soldiers came, and they would stay in a tent out there for a week or so, foraging for food, until they judged it "safe" to come back. All things considered, he was very lucky.

The upshot of all this? Simple. The next time some ignorant ass decides to forego rational discourse in favor of calling the current administration/anyone of a different political stripe Nazis, I will bitchslap that person until his or her brain is the consistency of jello, because that might actually IMPROVE their reasoning ability, and I'm all about intellectual improvement here.

Don't play the moral equivalency game with me. I won't just take my toys and go home, I'll take your toys and shove them up your ass first, THEN I'll take my toys and go home.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by Tightly Wound. Have a nice day.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:07 AM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2003

Radio Ga-Ga

I hate morning radio in this town. Hate it the way my cat hates the golden retriever down the road: with puffy, irrational, hissing hate. The only show I can stomach is syndicated out of Charlotte, and I like it because it makes fun of stupid stuff. Go figure. But when they're having an off day and I am driven to surf the dial, I end up wanting to kill myself. No, wait, that's all wrong. I end up wanting to kill the following radio personalities for being (in no particular order) vapid, loud, obnoxious, ill-informed, unfunny and named Bob. Come with me as we tour the FM dial in Raleigh, NC...

First off is 96.1, the rock station, with "Chopper and Jimmy."
Positives: No one on the show is named Bob.
Negatives: everything else. For Chopper and Billy, if it ain't hockey or boobies, it don't exist. NEXT!

98.1, which runs the show I actually listen to: Bob and Sherri. Positives: They actually entertain me.
Negatives: There's a Bob here. Also, craptastic music.

100.5, the oldies station, with John Boy and Billy.
Positives: None.
Negatives: The Music. The "look at me, I'm a silly redneck" schtick is TIRED. I don't care if you're the reddest redneck on the planet, there is such a thing as too. much. NASCAR. Dammit. Also, burping? Just not the laugh riot it used to be when I was TWELVE.

101.5, aka The Pallid Rip-off of the Show on 98.1.
Positives: None.
Negatives: Bill and Sherri. Wow, no one will EVER NOTICE YOU'RE RIPPING ANYONE OFF!!! Also, it would help if "Bill" wasn't 110 years old, if his jokes didn't come from the public library's copy of "How to be Entertaining at a Social Gathering" (copyright 1952), and if Sherri actually had a personality that wasn't cribbed from her namesake. It's like watching a community theatre production of CATS--very, very painful.

105.1, the show that makes me violent. Also, I think the most popular show in town.
Positives: My rage at the very existence of this show causes me to drive faster, so I get to work on time.
Negatives: Bob and Madison. Some marketing exec thought, "HEY! I'll put an ignorant fat whiteboy conservative nutjob on the air with a knee-jerk liberal black woman and watch the sparks fly!" Except there are no sparks. It's painfully obvious that "Bob" spends his every waking moment trying really hard to "gin up the controversy" by broaching topics like toejam, fat people, and how Harry Potter is EEEEEVIILLLLLEEE, and all Madison does is occasionally pipe up for A Dinner With Friends. You go, liberal firebrand. Whatever. For the "wacky hijinks" segment of the show, they persuade people to be nekkid in public. Woo. Watch out, Howard Stern--Bob and Madison are gaining on you!

106.1, the "classic rock" station. Hey, can I hear some more Skynard? 'Cause, you know, I eat that shit up, being southern and all. I think that covers the "positives."
Negatives: Bob and Tom. One of them--dunno which, as my finger usually punches this button in desperation, pauses for a moment until I regain my senses, then moves on--smokes so many packs a day that his vocalizations barely manage to squeeze past his phlegm-encrusted uvula and make their raspy way to my ears. It is grotesque. Also, they're all about the boobies. It's like The Man Show on FM! Sign me up. Not.

89.7., the Classical Station. When I am trying to wake up, listening to classical music introduced by someone on a break from announcing the PGA tour doesn't help.

AM? Try Imus. Or rather, don't. Wishy washy ancient codger who thinks it's the height of hilarity when his 5 year old lets fly the "fuck!" Also, NO ONE CARES that you used to do coke and drink. I promise, so shut up about it. And, please get your head out of Paul Krugman's ass. I'm sure he'd like to sit down.

All I want from my morning drive time is a little weather, a little traffic, and the funny, interspersed with decent music and not a lot of commercials. Yes, I realize that I won't find any of those things on this planet. Still, a girl can dream.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:34 AM | Comments (16)

June 17, 2003

Because I Said So, Dammit!

Okay, so hublet's been reading The Long March, which is essentially a guidebook as to why Baby Boomers chap my ass--not all of them, just the morons who thought that it would be a good idea for a bunch of chemically addled sub-adults to be in charge of a nation and proceeded to whine and throw molotov cocktails 'till they got their way--and since he can't be outraged without reading the offending passages aloud to me, I was introduced to the illustrious Angela Davis.

Since she's currently a "professor" (sneer quotes intentional and extra-sneery), I thought I'd Google her, given her radical past.

I came across a lot of entries of the "academic airbrushing" variety--you know, the bio pages where they kind of gloss over her implication in the deaths of four people, the arms dealing for the Black Panthers, etc., and treat her ideas about abolishing prisons with great gravitas--but I also came across a site called disinformation.com, which styles itself as one of those uber-hip, truth-revealing, conspiracy-busting sites for fighting The Man. I read their entry for Ms. Davis, which basically went with the whole "she was like, black, and like, a radical, so she was like, framed" angle, and I thought--"well, okay, but where are your sources?"

The bottom of the page is chock-full o'links, but they're mostly links to what Davis says about Davis, or radical sites about how she was framed--the one "alternative" site--the Truth About Angela Davis--is labelled "disinformation at its finest." At this point, Irony stopped by, pointed, laughed, and moved on...

The gist of Disinformation.com seems to be that because it's opposed to mainstream media and because it calls itself a source of truth, it is. And in a nutshell, that's the legacy of the Angela Davises of the world--you can remake yourself eternally, because the truth is very very malleable, particularly when you're dealing with the morally superior branch of the intellectual elite, who will gloss over any "past indiscretion" in their search for political poster-folk for the cause du jour.

The legacy of the sixties isn't radical change or social betterment so much as it's freedom from consequences and the primacy of image over substance. Yay, sixties. Explain to me again why we're romanticising this crap?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:10 AM | Comments (3)

June 10, 2003

The H Factor; Or, Frankly

The H Factor; Or, Frankly My Dear, We Don't Give a Damn

So I'm spending last weekend trying very very hard to avoid the whole Hillary media blitz on the TV, which, as you might imagine, is impossible. After bouncing between Fox News' lovely snarky commentary and the straightfaced proclamations of the other news sources, I found myself wondering exactly why I have such a visceral reaction whenever someone mentions the "H" word. The reasons are myriad, but since I'm all about the "root causes" here, I've managed to narrow it down.

Whenever I see Hillary on TV, I am always left with the impression (moreso than with other politicians) that HRC is a construct, a persona as fake as the cardboard cutouts of her husband that you could get pictures of yourself taken with at fairs and theme parks. Now the charge you hear all the time among the folks who go rabid about Bill and Hill is the Hypocrisy charge, and Lord knows, we don't need to travel that path again. What I'm talking about here surpasses simple hypocrisy and goes into a level of cold calculation that would make Machiavelli blush. You can see the wheels turning back there, sizing up the potential fallout from every scenario, and then choosing the one most likely to give her the desired result, which is simply more power.

I'm not interested in whether or not Hillary really believes she knows what's best for the country; I'm not interested in her plans, ideas, or even, oddly enough, her politics. My revulsion for her stems from her inability to be an authentic human being, the lust for power that she takes pains to conceal behind conservative pantsuits and middle-aged hip housewife hairstyles and the fact that although she claims to be a progressive feminist of the first water, she's nothing more than a Scarlett O'Hara sans hoopskirts. Don't believe me? Okay, let's examine the facts:

Remember Scarlett's second husband, the ill-fated Frank who owned the lumber yard? Remember how Scarlett married him and took over the entire business, getting herself into a bit of trouble as she did so? Well, here's the Hillary parallel: she rode into the political scene on the coattails of her husband, then proceeded to try and take a hand in policy when she was NOT ELECTED TO DO SO. Say what you will about the 2000 election; at least the people at the center of the debate were ON THE FREAKING TICKET and you could VOTE FOR THEM. My reaction to Hillary's health care hoo-ha at the time (when I was a young, rabid, feminist democrat) was still something along the lines of, "Bitch, please!" A law degree does not equate expertise in socialized medicine, no matter how hard you wish it to be so. I guess we should be relieved that a racial incident involving the Klan and the shooting of Bill by Union soldiers didn't ensue, although that would have been lots more interesting than her health care plan.... But that was merely the beginning.

She famously denounced the whole "Stand by your man" scenario of wifely duty in the face of infidelity and scoffed at cookie baking, yet when it served her purpose to be seen as the strong, suffering wife and modern do-it-all mom she both stood by her man AND submitted chocolate chip cookie recipies. Visions of Scarlett working at the charity ball, anyone?

Just as Rhett forced Scarlett to rehabilitate her image in the eyes of Atlanta society, Hillary has employed ghost writers and Barbara Walters to give the public the impression that she truly is a woman who's in touch with the average American. Scarlett's implacable will to power was disguised behind a pretty face and coquettish smile; Hillary's is hidden behind a wall of P.R. In both cases, the mask slips occasionally and we see what is truly there. The irony is that you can admire a Scarlett O'Hara for doing what she must to survive in a male-dominated post-war society. In Hillary's case--in a post-modern, liberated America--it's not just a pathetic throwback and a betrayal of all those good feminist ideals about being a strong woman, it's also a little bit sinister.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 06:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2003

Gratuitous Whining Self-Indulgent Post Here's

Gratuitous Whining Self-Indulgent Post

Here's my week thus far:

  • Eyeball is swollen--I know not why. It doesn't hurt or itch, the lid is merely swollen and droopy. I look like I'm drunk or insane--no comments, please.
  • Evil fairies have replaced my darling boy with a whining, petulant, demanding, tantruming doppelganger who hates everything but doesn't know why. Helloooo, terrible twos three months early. He's so advanced. I'm so proud.
  • I cannot figure out how to get past the freaking Nazi tank on screen three of Medal of Honor. You would think this would be a small consideration. You would be WRONG.
  • My boss is an idiot. And not the way you're thinking. I mean he's really, actually an idiot. He overexplains the most menial tasks, and still manages to get all the details wrong, so that I spend 50% of any job going back and retracing the steps he took and then trying to extrapolate what it is that I'm supposed to do. Example? Okay. Hypothetically, let's say my boss wanted me to build a fire. The conversation would go like this:
  • Boss enters office, notices that I'm obviously EATING LUNCH, sits down (heavily) and sighs (heavily).

    Me: (irritated glance trying to pass itself off as politely quizzical) Yes?

    Boss: We have a new project. (pregnant pause)

    Me: (swallowing bite of Hummus wrap) Yes?

    Boss: Well, see, a few millenia ago, there was a thunderstorm. And lightning hit a tree, causing it to ignite. And some cavepeople came by and noticed the flaming branch and thought that it would be a good idea to take it home to warm their caves, so they did. And they figured out ways to keep the fire going, but one day it went out, so they had to try and figure out how to create the fire from scratch.

    Me: So what do I need to do?

    Boss: Well, eventually they figured out that flint was good for creating a spark, and so was rubbing sticks together, so that was good. And they came up with the myth of Prometheus to explain how we got fire--that was a good one.

    Me: Oooookay, so the new project involves fire?

    Boss: Sort of. There's this pile of sticks that came from I think a pine tree. They should be dry by now, although we did have that rainstorm last night, so they may be kind of wet.

    Me: (gritting teeth in a feral pseudo smile) You want me to build a fire?

    Boss: Well, Dr. L thinks that the department would really move ahead. I mean, it's in our compact so we should get cracking on this.

    Me: Deadline.

    Boss: Well, I don't have a firm....

    Me: Is next week okay? I can do it Tuesday morning. Is that early enough?

    Boss: It just needs to get done. Here, call Fred.

    Me: (never having heard of this Fred) Fred who?

    Boss: He's in Environmental Health and Safety.

    Me: Why am I calling Fred?

    Boss: He originated the project.

    Me: Okay.

    Boss Leaves. I search the directory for Fred, and realize that there is no employee by that name in that department. There is, however, a Frank, so I call him and discover that not only did he NOT originate the project, he has no idea what I'm talking about. After a 15 minute, embarrassing conversation, I am informed by the secretary to the department head (also NOT NAMED FRED) that the project in question is actually a bonfire to be built three months from now. So then I go check with Dr. L, who also looks at me like I'm insane and wonders why we'd be working on this so early.

    I return to my desk and take a bottle of Tylenol to dull the pain.

    Posted by Big Arm Woman at 05:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2003

Neo. And I Ain't Talking

Neo. And I Ain't Talking Matrix, Here.

So in this whole post 911, Republican in the White House, dusting off the military and getting involved in furrin affairs world, it seems like writers and pundits are trying to define and redefine the shift in American sensibilities from "laissez-faire, hey let's hug a tree or whatever" politics to "don't make me come over there, grow the hell up and let's get moving" politics. In other words, the chattering classes can't seem to figure out why being attacked might cause some folks to re-examine their world view, so they start doing what they do best--parsing words. The latest example is the neo-con kerfluffle. What is a Neo-Con? Hell if I know. I've heard every explanation from "term that was in vogue for 15 minutes in the seventies and is being dusted off again," to "Eeeeevillllle! Pure Eeeeeeeevilllle!" So I took the liberty of consulting some friends of mine...

Me: Thank you all for coming. I had nowhere else to turn regarding the meaning of the whole "Neocon" thing.

Irony: Don't look at me.

Hyperbole: Nope, me neither, although there is some fun hysteria out there that I must modestly take credit for.

Irony: (Rolls eyes.)

Similie: It's kind of like a conservative, only new.

Irony: Thank you, Captain Latinate.

Metaphor: It's merely a mask, a cover, if you will, for the new brand of conservatism--fiscally conservative, socially pretty liberal.

Me: Not according to this chick, it's not.

Metaphor: She misunderstands the basic premise. For her, conservatism is a noxious cloud, preventing those she sees as fun-loving and morally superior from raising taxes, pooh-poohing SUV owners, and feeling smug.

Similie: Noxious cloud? More like a wet blanket.

Metaphor: But you cannot extend the wet blanket comparison as well as you can the noxious cloud. With noxious cloud you can make allusions to "piercing the veil," "drawing a breath," and other...

Me: Ooookay, let's reel that in and get back on topic, shall we?

Irony: Can I go home?

All: NO!

Me: Frankly, if I have to be here, you all do. So metaphor thinks the neo-con label is a smear?

Metaphor: A smear. Yes, yes, I could do things with smear.

Similie: Yo, metaphor. We're not writing a novel here. We're defining a term.

Hyperbole: So why didn't you, like, consult a dictionary? Helloooo! Shiny book on shelf? Lots of pretty words?

Me: It's talking about a movement that started in the 60's, and leaves me as confused as ever about WHY people are so obsessed with it now. I need my labels to be definitively defined and to make sense, dammit, not just be whatever the pundit of the day wants them to be. Look, do any of you have ANYTHING helpful to add?

Irony: It's stupid and needs to die on the vine.

Metaphor: I can get behind that.

Simile: It's like this--yeah, I guess Irony's right.

Me: Okay, so the term neo-con has been hereby banished from our collective consciousness?

All: Hear, hear!

Hyperbole: Great! Now can we talk about this Eagle stuff from Andrew Sullivan?

All: NO!

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2003

Touch Not the Cat Or,

Touch Not the Cat

Or, eat not the cat-like mammal, whichever. See, I know a few things about cats. The main thing I know about them is that will happily dedicate their entire lives to vengeance if you do them wrong. Oh sure, maybe the actual cat you bothered won't get you, but he or she will certainly invoke Kitty Karma and sooner or later, you will suffer the wrath of the felines.

China is a case in point. So now it turns out that SARS may have jumped from a "catlike" animal--considered a Chinese delicacy, btw--to the human population. Incidentally, the Chinese also farm and kill cats for their skins. Coincidence? I think not. Kitty Karma has arrived, and payback is a giant yowling alleycat bitch.

Don't mess with cats. They will get you. Oh yes, they will get you good.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:10 AM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2003

What. A. Shock. That Phil

What. A. Shock.

That Phil Donahue would use a commencement address to talk politics, not commencement. Could there BE a more inappropriate venue for the content of his speech? Probably not, else it wouldn't be a Donahue moment. Grr. Contrast the excerpts from Donahue's speech with those from Bill Cosby's speech at UNC-CH. Well, on the bright side, the students will always remember their graduation...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 05:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2003

Note to French--Please Stop Digging.

Note to French--Please Stop Digging.

Confession time: it's fun to mock the French. I mean, first of all, it's easy, which is a huge consideration in my life just now, what with my hectic schedule. Who has time to dig up things to mock about, say, Lichtenstein? Secondly, it really seems to get their little panties in a wad, which just adds to the ease of mocking. Look, if your self-worth is predicated on belief in your own intellectual and cultural superiority to the US, and the US, bunch of tubby un-nuanced cowboys that we are, persists in mocking you, well, it's got to be a little galling. Or Gaulling, if you're into the cheap pun (which I completely am not. In fact, I didn't even type that. Lies! All lies! Written by journalists in the employ of the Bush Administration! Oh, wait. Getting ahead of myself here.).

But this is just over the top silly. I truly thought that this article was from The Onion, but unless the International Herald Tribune is code for Onion, I guess not. See, I would think that with a 35 hour work week, a French diplomat would be able to keep busy doing French stuff like striking under the table oil deals with brutal dictators, screwing over other countries for quick cash, or disdaining anything that isn't French. I mean, that's a LOT to do in a week, particularly when you have to stop every few hours to demonstrate solidarity with your fellow public servants back home who are busy striking for more money and less work.

However, I seem to have underestimated French industry, particularly when it comes to generating self-righteous indignation. Ladies and gentlemen, we are Being Monitored for Anti-French Lies Put Forth by the Bush Administration. Hang on a sec, would you? Got something in my throat: Haaaaaaahaaaaahaaaa! Bwaaaaahaaaaahaaaahaaa haa! Heeeeee! Ahem. Better now.

The thrust of the complaint and subsequent monitoring seems to be that newspapers are reporting unfavorably on the French. What are they reporting, exactly?

The impression given, she said, was that France had "protected a tyrant and a bloody dictator" and was "hostile to the United States."

Now WHERE would we have gotten such an idea? Crazy talk! As confirmed by Tom Bishop, professor at New York University, who tells us exactly who's to blame for Jay Leno's recent monologues:

"What's coming out of the right-wing think tanks in Washington, and elsewhere, is not innocent, I think, and is not accidental," he said.

Damn, you, Vast Right Wing Conspiracy! Damn your eyes!

Of course, the French are demonstrating their typical verve and devil-may-care attitude toward danger with this policy, because complaining about press coverage carries some Very Real Danger. Yes, the danger that their complaints "...might be seen...as a 'kind of petulance.'"

Oh, those brave risk-takers! You go, pampered, overpaid, underworked, disdainful little French diplomat! Fight the power! Woo!

No, seriously, France? You can stop digging now. You've hit bottom.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2003

Things That Make Me Go

Things That Make Me Go Raaaarrrrr!
(Raaaarrr copyright Frank J, 2000-something)

Yes, the blog has been fairly dullsville this week. However, I have had a valid excuse. This week is the week that the students leave, or, as it is known hereabouts:

The Week of the Hellish End Of Year Program.

Ah, the beloved End of Year Program, in which the entire division is forced into an auditorium for Three. Solid. Hours. During these three hours our Vice Chancellor recognizes individuals and gives awards. Okay, so recognition isn't such a bad thing, right? Riiiiiiiight. See, for one thing, we get "recognized" not only for major division and university-wide awards, but also for individual accomplishments, which culminates in a thirty minute litany of mispronounced names and recognitions like this one:

Finally, we'd like to recognize Bob (garblegarblebarble)son for gaining an Honorable Mention in the University Picnic's Three Legged Race last September. As you may know, Bob (garblegarblebarble)son HAS three legs, and so was able to compete on his own. His Honorable Mention is an Honorable Mention to the three legged everywhere! Bob, you truly are a living embodiment of this University's commitment to diversity!

And on it goes, blah blah blah awardcakes. Plus, our Vice Chancellor has a strange penchant for dressing up in costumes during this event and performing bizarre one man "comedy skits" that would be more at home in a Postmodern Pinter Theatre Festival. This year it was an homage to Phantom of the Opera; in previous years we've done wizards, Santa Claus, and drag. What does any of this have to do with the Division Award for Innovative Use of Technology? Well, on this planet, nothing. But I've come to accept that the End Of Year Program is neither conceived nor written here on earth. It's a three hour tour of planet Vice Chancellor, and I can only be thankful that the auditorium isn't called the S.S. Minnow.

Regular ranting will resume after I resume enough sensation in my legs and butt to go outside and give thanks for my freedom from this torture--well, until August, when we have the Beginning of Year Program. Raaaarrrr.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2003

The Dangers of Modern History

The Dangers of Modern History Writing

From the Chronicle, this story about a new history book that's winning prizes and hullabaloo. The book deals with the "other slavery" in the US involving the Spanish and Native American clashes that occurred out West before and during English settlement. It sounds interesting, and I'll probably give it a read (the funny thing about getting degrees in English is that now I primarily read history books for pleasure...), but the quotes that jumped out at me from the article were these:

Some readers are almost certainly going to be offended by Mr. Brooks's attention to the ambient violence of the history he recounts. The Indians that he portrays aren't New Age icons -- peaceful, egalitarian, in touch with the deeper rhythms of the cosmos. The pre-Columbian slave system was by no means as horrific as the Middle Passage, but it was violent even so. ...

"That's where James is taking something of a risk," says Donald Lee Fixico, a professor of American Indian history at the University of Kansas. "It might be safer not to look at the brutality between the two races, but he's quite willing to go into that gray area."

Okay, so what I got from that was that a guy who did painstaking research and presents actual facts about brutality and history in a book is in danger of "offending people." Yeah, that damn reality. Offensive! I suppose I should be impressed that such risk-taking works are being published, but I'm mostly just disappointed that a seemingly straightforward work like this one is being called "risk-taking" in the first place.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2003

Jean Grey is a Big

Jean Grey is a Big Fat Mary Sue

I'm coming out of the X-Men closet right now and coming clean: of all the mutants in all the parallel universes in all the world, I hate Jean Grey the most. Why? Well, I've given this some thought over time, and beyond the inexplicable damsel in distress vibe she puts out, her super-perfect powers, super-perfect boyfriend, and super-perfect flowing red hair, I've finally realized why she bugs me.

Jean Grey is a Mary Sue.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "Mary Sue" was coined by fanfiction writers back in the early days to describe an "original character" inserted into an existing fictional universe who just happens to be the most beautiful, most talented, most amazingly gifted being on the earth. If the Mary Sue didn't end up marrying the lead character from that universe, then she would sacrifice herself in an heroic act that saves everyone else, and expire prettily in the arms of the lead character. Then much angsting would ensue. A Mary Sue is a cipher for the author, and is annoying because she is two-dimensional, perfect in every way (even her flaws are designed for maximum angst potential until she manages to overcome them), and completely unnecessary in an established fictional world.

You can see where I'm going with Jean Grey. Except for the whole "cipher for the author" part, she matches this description perfectly. The X-Men already have the most powerful telepathic mutant in the world in Professor X. He's not a telekinetic, but I would consider that unnecessary given the skills of the other team members. The X-Men would be fine without her. Jean is also perfectly lovely, just happens to be a leading scientific researcher who gets to address panels of government officials on a regular basis, and is in a relationship with the leader of the X-Men, Cyclops, PLUS she has the undying affection of Wolverine, the untouchable badass. Jean even gets to sacrifice herself and cause angsting to ensue with the whole Phoenix/Dark Phoenix storyline (which appears in both film and comic, although in very different form.) And I would argue that while she isn't a self-insertion of the comic's creator, she may very well be a projection of the perfect girlfriend.

She doesn't even have a good backstory--Professor X takes her in as a protege when she manifests her mutation and almost goes mad, she becomes Perfect Woman, blah blah blah Phoenix-cakes, insert alternate universes and pseudo romantic triangle stuff here. Rogue and Storm are far more interesting (here I'm talking about the comic Rogue--the movieverse version is toothless and pathetic), with real conflict written into their characters. They develop more over time, as well. And as a bonus, they don't spend all their time in battle situations exchanging these bon mots:

Scott: "JEAN!"
Jean: "SCOTT!"
(something blows up)
Jean: "Scott......" (faints prettily, gets kidnapped or otherwise imperiled)
Logan: (running up just in time to espy the trauma of Jean) "JEEEEEAAAAAANNNNN! NOOOOOOOO!" (to Scott): "How could you let this happen?!?!"
(much manly glaring, while Rogue and Storm finish kicking everyone's asses and wander off, shaking their heads at the stupidity of Scott and Logan)

Not that I'm bitter.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 07:57 AM | Comments (2)

May 02, 2003

Anti-Semitism Question of the Day

Anti-Semitism Question of the Day

Why is it always a "sinister cabal" of Jewish advisors? Or even just a "cabal?" What, these words aren't good enough to use instead (from Thesaurus.com):

bunch, cabal, camarilla, camp, circle, clan, club, coterie, crew, crowd, faction, gang, in-group, insiders, mafia, mob, organization, outfit, pack, ring, set, society

I'm pulling for more use of the word "crew;" you know, to drag anti-semitism into the hip hop era. I mean, just because someone's racist attitudes date from the middle ages, it doesn't mean that their language needs to be similarly ancient and stilted.

Or I guess it's just a play on Kabbalah, right? I mean, if you're going to insult a race based largely on religious differences, might as well get in that dig from the get-go, right? How very clever. Not.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)

My. Damn. Sinus. Dear Sinus

My. Damn. Sinus.

Dear Sinus Located on the Right Side of my Forehead:

It has recently come to my attention that you might be upset with me for something I may have subjected you to in the past. As I am ignorant of the cause of your rage, let me give you an opportunity to meet with me and discuss what's bothering you, face to cranky body part. I am a reasonable person, sinus, perfectly willing to compromise with you on the issues most important to your kind--pollen, dander, perfume, and even mold and dust. In short, I am hip to the sinus jive. So, if it's not too much trouble, could you please explain why you insist on swelling, throbbing, aching and draining into my ear on a daily basis? Your next door neighbor, the Left Hand Sinus, doesn't seem compelled to mimic your behavior, so I can only conclude that you, Right Hand Sinus, are being unreasonable.

I've given you every attention, Right Hand Sinus, including enough Sudafed to fuel thirteen crystal meth labs, nasal sprays, steam treatments, and anti-inflammatories. And yet my overtures are rebuffed--was it really necessary, Sinus, to cause me to look like a stroke victim during the entirety of a very important meeting? To suddenly begin draining with the force of a fire hose during the same meeting, causing me to honk and sniff and drip and water and still look stroked out? I think not.

Frankly, Sinus, I think your continual raging against the machine is making you look bad. In fact, I have taken steps to ensure that if you do not see fit to shape up on your own, you will be compelled to do so by Allergists, Inc. Surgery is not out of the question, Sinus. I don't mean to threaten, but you have forced my hand.

Your Landlord, The Head

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2003

Rick is Reilly Pissing Me

Rick is Reilly Pissing Me Off

Confession time: I, a female, womanly type person, regularly read Sports Illustrated. I don't follow sports that closely, but I usually like the columnists and features, although the overwrought heartstring tugging style of sports reportage currently en vogue does annoy. However, I deal with it. I liked the movie Rudy, after all, so I'm not essentially opposed to the Lifetime for Men aspects of sportswriting. But lately my enjoyment of SI has dwindled to almost zero, and it's all the fault of one person: Rick Reilly.

Let's get something straight: When I pick up an issue of Sports Illustrated, I assume that the issue will contain stories about, oh, I don't know, SPORTS. Imagine my surprise when the March 19th issue contained a Reilly-penned paean to Dean Smith--not for the winning at basketball thing, but for his politics. Okay, I thought, that's odd and a little annoying, but perhaps I'm annoyed because as a State fan I must automatically despise all things Chapel Hill. But it's still weird to see someone celebrated in SI for his politics...oh, well. Hublet and I discussed our surprise and annoyance, engaged in a little healthy Chapel Hill bashing, and moved on.

The following week, Reilly wrote about the disconnect of getting excited about sports when there's a war on. Okay, fair enough. But must we descend into this lovely little PSA in the middle of the column:

Chris, there are millions of us in this country who hate this war, hate how it came to this, hate what it will leave behind in sorrow and debt and newly minted terrorists. But we respect you who must fight it, are humbled by your service, honor you for your willingness to die for our flag.

Again, my response was something along the lines of eyeroll, shrug, move on. It was a wartime column, after all, though I found the "those of us" somewhat smug and condescending. Have you checked your readership demographics lately, Ricky boy? But I digress.

The following two weeks were back to form--light satire. Tra-la. But then I get this crap last week, in a column entitiled "Three Ring Masters;"

Or was it when a Canadian, a lefty and a hockey nut won the Masters -- all in one day? It was a big week for lefties: winner Mike Weir, third-place finisher Phil Mickelson and Burk, of course.

WTF? There were about 50 protesters, and half of them had nothing to do with Burk, and some of them were mocking everyone there. Reilly then relates this freaky story about almost coming to blows with a KKK guy at the protest:

"You want to shake my hand?" he said, offering it.
"No, but I'd like to spit in it," I replied.
"If you do," he said, "they'll have to get the law over here to pull me off you."
"Pack a lunch, motherf

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2003

The X-Files? Was A TV

The X-Files? Was A TV Show, Dammit

Listen to me, because I am only going to say this once (today), albeit loudly for the benefit of those of you living in soundproofed bunkers and draped in tinfoil:

Those images you saw yesterday? You know, the hoopin' and hollerin'? REAL. Yep, really real. Not staged, retouched, digitally enhanced by Peter Jackson's WETA workshop, or pulled out of Brit Hume's ass by the photoshop fairy. Okay? You got that, you bunch of mental midgets?

Perhaps you've spent too much time smoking Longbottom Leaf with your fellow sociologists, but I'm no longer interested in excuses, root causes, or medical theories to explain your bizarre behavior. So I'm going to spell this out for you:

  • You are insane if you believe, actually believe, that there is some sort of all powerful, all knowing illuminati out there pulling the strings of every government worldwide.

  • You are insane if you think that there is a top secret jewish cabal plotting to wipe out muslims, twist christians to do their evil bidding and control ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD!

  • You are insane if you seriously claim that the current administration is a dictatorship, that earth was settled by humans during an alien experiment, or that Michael Moore ever gave a rat's ass about any "people" whose initials weren't "Michael Moore's Bank Account."

  • You are merely deluded if you think that one day, somewhere, communism can work out, and that ANSWER is a grassroots conglomeration of concerned citizens with no other agenda.

  • You are deluded if you think that a government will EVER overcome human nature and result in a utopia, that people everywhere will someday spontaneously start getting along, and that Star Trek was a pretty accurate depiction of the future.

  • You are inhabiting another dimension entirely if you think "Castro's not so bad, no worse than our government," that foreigners will like and respect you for agreeing with (and one-upping) their anti-American disdainful vitriol, or that "natural anti-perspirants" actually, you know, WORK. And in that same vein--patchouli? The hell, people. There are like a MILLION natural scents that DON'T make you smell like year-old Avon pillowcase potpourri. Pick one.

If you find that you suffer any of these symptoms, there is a cure. It's called Putting Down the Chomsky. Don't delay, get help today.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 09:59 AM

April 07, 2003

Note to Baby Boomers--It's the

Note to Baby Boomers--It's the Beginning of the End

Saw that Cher's televising her final performance ever. Guess it's about time, as the buffed, polished, and shellacked visage on my screen was largely indistinguishable from that of one of her female impersonators. When you become your own drag queen, you might want to stop with the surgery. I'm just sayin'. Could someone pass that along to Joan Rivers? 'Cause she didn't get the memo.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2003

Oh, Sorry Tina. Didn't See

Oh, Sorry Tina. Didn't See You There.

Though I can't imagine why not, since she's trying soooo very hard to remain relevant in the face of all sorts of proof to the contrary. This diminutive loud mouthed catty Ted Turner wannabe manages to stun the world again with her latest screed, which demonstrates both her amazingly tenacious self-absorption and her complete lack of understanding of anyone or anything who isn't Tina Brown.

First, the gratuitous "It's all about me, dahlings!" moment:

"No doubt the Bush White House has its own good reasons to feel cross with me, but scheduling Operation Shock and Awe to begin precisely at the moment of my new CNBC TV show seems a little excessive."

Yeah, Tina. Operative words here are "CNBC TV show", as if anyone anywhere would be watching it, or would know who the hell you were even if they did stumble across it. Oh, I see, it's supposed to be a joke--poking some humble fun at your inflated sense of self-worth. Hmm. Doesn't work, mainly because anyone who's ever read anything by you knows that you're not REALLY joking. Whatever.

More random ramblings designed to demonstrate that she understands the "little people"--what, she had a conversation about the weather with a doorman once in 2000? I'm sure you have your finger on the pulse of America, Tina. As this demonstrates:

“If only Tony Blair were President” is still the prevailing feeling among Americans, whatever they feel about the war. It’s only a matter of weeks before Bush starts to become seriously jealous of Saint Tony’s press. He is already put out by Blair’s insistence on the importance of the UN in postwar Iraq.

Umm, no. I love Tony Blair for standing by us, but I doubt he would have spearheaded the effort to get rid of Hussein, since he's more UN friendly than we. And although jealousy and image supercede all other factors in your little world, I doubt Bush is jealous of Blair. And he's "put out" with the UN, not Blair, because the UN has consistently demonstrated itself to be hypocritical, irrelevant, and self-interested. But like they say, it's difficult to see your own faults in others, so I'm not surprised you missed those salient points.

And finally, this foray into the bizarro world of Shakespearean tragedy viewed through the lens of current events:

Blair’s complex nobility makes us feel that he is on his way to being a tragic figure, which is something Bush could never be. When they appear side by side at press conferences the disparity in quality is almost painful. There is something dense and taciturn about Bush even when he’s being charming. He has the damped-down anger of the dry drunk. When he’s not scripted, his bald answers seem to be covering up ulterior motives. His true motives are private and his own and he will tell us only whatever it takes to mollify us. He is the embodiment of a crack Eleanor Roosevelt made when a friend pressed to know what FDR thought about an issue: “The President doesn’t think. He decides.”

Could someone please explain what the hell the "damped-down anger of the dry drunk" is supposed to mean, except to remind us that Bush was in rehab? Do you truly mean to suggest that W. would be happier if he were an alcoholic? That he just needs a Budweiser and suddenly all the messy world events that coincidentally pre-empted your TV show would vanish? Have you been hanging out with Mark Morford?

Additionally, I kind of like folks who make decisions, and seeing as that's a president's JOB, I can't get behind your smugness here, Teen. Nor do I think it's a bad thing for a president to be a little more emotionally reserved than say, Phil Donahue. I guess your complaint is that W. doesn't make good TV. So sorry. Maybe next time we'll elect a president who makes a point of emoting all over each national "event" to demonstrate that he "feels our pain"--oh, wait. Been there, done that. Didn't work out too well; ended up parsing the meaning of "is" on national TV and bombing an aspirin factory. Not exactly King Lear, but I guess you can't have everything.

The sad thing is that the size of this column in inches is probably 8 or 10 times greater than Tina Brown's emotional or intellectual depth. But TV is a two-dimensional medium, so I can see why she fits right in.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:01 AM

April 02, 2003

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now? You Can? Oh, Nuts.

So I've been thinking--a dangerous pastime, I know--about love and war and death and taxes and education and health insurance and politics and what I'm going to eat for lunch today because I've only got $2 in my pocket and I'm really tired of soup, and I have realized a few important things. The main thing is that all this thinking makes my head kind of hurt, but that should be obvious and in any case, isn't really my point.

I'm a ranter by nature. Little things build up, I vent, fume and spew, then I'm fine. My blood pressure routinely stays around 80/60, so either I HAD a heart attack years ago and died and my body hasn't figured it out yet, or the volcano approach to self-expression seems to work for me. And I really only get worked up about little non-personal things; I tend to be able to deal rationally with stuff like car accidents and medical emergencies while losing it completely over ill-worded signage at the local Wal-Mart.

I think it's a control issue. Car accidents and medical emergencies are out of my control, for the most part. They're things that just happen sometimes, regardless of how careful and prepared I am, and I'd better accept that reality and move the hell on. But the little things, like that sign--well, they piss me off because they ARE controllable, and folks should know better. Someone was sloppy and muddied communication was the result.

Words are controllable and controlling--this has been done to death, so just think "Orwell" here, and move on. There is no excuse for sloppy language, particularly when the sloppiness is intentional. I started this blog because I found humor in the ways professors routinely use 43 words where two will do, usually in the interest of making their ideas appear weightier. But now it's starting to lose some of its humor, mainly because in posting their words I've done what I never did in college--started paying attention to them. And a lot of times, the thinking behind these writings isn't merely wrongheaded, dated, obscure and muddled, it's dangerous and damaging.

The funny part is, these profs are so accustomed to either having their colleagues skim their work because everyone is so inundated with poor language that it's no longer worth the effort to fight through the copious prose in search of meaning, or being rubber stamped as "right-thinking" and reflexively praised, that when they are finally called on their opinions they freak out. Case in point: DeGenova, whose idiot blather and subsequent spin and disappearing act point to the fact that true academic inquiry and debate must be dead. If DeGenova honestly had a clue about the reception of his speech, I doubt he would have made it. At the very least (one would hope), he would have tempered or controlled his language. He is a pure product of the insulated, self-congratulatory professoriate, so involved in ginning up masses of words and catchphrases for the approbation of his peers that he no longer understands what those words mean to the unindoctrinated.

Further proof: the organizer's attempt to spin the whole thing as a wacko conspiracy. Well sure, if by conspiracy you mean a whole bunch of people who you regularly hang out with, talk to, and whose papers you read and sometimes edit for publication. The reality is everyone else up there was expressing similar ideas; DeGenova's problem was that for once in his life, his language was straightforward and his meaning was crystal clear.

Sloppy communication is annoying and sometimes amusing, sure, but it's also a tool whereby unacceptable opinions can fly below the radar of the public. Is it a conspiracy? No, it's just an academic culture thing. Me, I'm all for more teach-ins whereby this crap can come to light. Well, that and Wal-Mart employees who can spell. But that's a rant for another day.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:58 AM

March 24, 2003

Adventures in Reality So I'm

Adventures in Reality

So I'm having a bit of trouble reconciling reality with, well, reality right now. I'm still getting up early, dealing with the fact that my son is most emphatically NOT a morning person regardless of how much sleep he gets at night, rushing to work, rushing home, and trying to find time for a leisurely family stroll, a moderately healthy dinner, and a few minutes of "me time" before bed.

Then I turn on the television, or check my blogroll, and a wholly different reality appears. War and protests and oscars, oh my! I feel disconnected from everything I see on the screen, and then I feel guilty for not "feeling" appropriately, whatever that means. It seems like something this earth-shattering should be more earth-shattering, I guess, not just reduced to sound bites and maps and the reactions of pundits and guesswork and talking, talking, talking all day. And how utterly self-absorbed is that? "Oh, the war in which people are dying is insufficiently moving. It lacks that certain...reality."

The boon of the communication age is that we're immediately and intimately aware of each other and the world. The curse is that we don't understand that the other people and the world are real, when all we get are pixels, not people.

There was one sad little protester outside our office today, whacking a bongo, ostensibly to simulate the drums of war. She's gone now, probably had to get some lunch or go to class. After all, what are symbolic drums of war when compared to Taco Bell or an "A" in Comparative Lit? I could insert a little caveat here about how wonderful it is that she can be a dilettante for peace, but I won't, 'cause it's just stupid and a waste of time. Whatever, little girl. Thanks for playing the home game. I'd suggest that she give that plane of existence called "the real world" a try, but that'll happen for her soon enough. Or not. Particularly if she's getting her reality from pixel-ville.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 12:02 PM

March 19, 2003

Grocery Slumming Because I'm trying

Grocery Slumming

Because I'm trying to wean myself (unsuccessfully, thus far) off of clicking all over my blogroll every 6 seconds and obsessively scanning every news site on the planet, I've decided to take a step back, breathe, and focus on the mundane.

So Lileks and Instapundit had some sort of bizarre "grocery-off" via their blogs this morning, with Insta musing over a margarine wrapper and Lileks doing the grocery shopping full monty. This made me think that I'm missing out on the whole grocery experience. See, I live outside of Raleigh, in what used to be a pretty rural area. Until recently, we had only one grocery store: Food Lion. I hate Food Lion with large chunks of bitter hate, because it is the antithesis of everything I look for in a shopping experience; namely, The Shiny. Food Lion has no Shiny. Food Lion doesn't even have a muted glow. Food Lion is dull and unpolished, and it sucks the life right out of me every time I go there. And I go there a lot, because the next most "convenient" store is about 10 miles away.

The clientele at the local FL all look as though they'd rather be ANYWHERE else, shuffling dispiritedly through the badly lit, kiosk-obstructed aisles, loading their tarnished, squeaky carts and wrestling them to the checkout, then toting their drab plastic bags to the exit. I can see their shoulders straighten and the faint blush of life returning to their cheeks as the automatic doors open and allow the fresh, fresh air of freedom to caress their careworn faces. Okay, so that's over the top. I still hate Food Lion.

Not even the food looks happy to be there. The produce is sad and listless, despite the best efforts of the water-misting system to keep it perky. The bananas all huddle together on one side of their display for comfort, and the meat department frankly forces me to avert my eyes. Even mass-produced canned goods manage to seem as though they've been recently discovered in a cold war era bunker and yanked from their underground lair for our consumption. And this is AFTER a 6 month renovation to the store. I can't even remember what it looked like before the "improvements"--I think I'm suffering from a post-traumatic memory loss.

So imagine my delight when I discovered that a new grocery store would be coming to our area. I waited impatiently for the ground to be cleared and construction to begin, visualizing a shopping area with cheese that didn't all come from Kraft, and a bakery that didn't consist of 6 shelves of Merita's Sweet Sixteen powdered doughnuts. Finally one day as I drove past the site, I saw the long-awaited sign announcing the arrival of the new store. In large letters, it read: Coming Soon! Food Lion! My tears were bitter indeed.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:03 AM

January 29, 2003

You Say "Pacific," I Say--THAT'S

You Say "Pacific," I Say--THAT'S AN OCEAN, DANGIT!

What with all the hubub over presidential pronunciation of "nuke-u-lar," I feel compelled to insert my biggest pronunciation peeve here:

My direct superior, when he wants to say "specific," says "pacific." In meeting after meeting I sit there, dreading his "pacific examples" of X or a "pacific reference" to Y. His examples and references are neither particularly peace-loving nor oceanic. Like the narrator in the Tell Tale Heart, I am going to go slowly mad, until one day I leap upon the conference room table and start whacking him with a Palm Pilot, shrieking "SPA-cific! SPA! SPA! SPA!"

See why this blog is called Tightly Wound? Yeah, I thought so.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 01:00 PM

December 16, 2002

I Just Want Some Pants.

I Just Want Some Pants. Is That So Hard to Understand?
Warning: The following post contains gratuitous overuse of the word "ass." Read or skip accordingly.

Would someone please tell me when the women of America took a vote and decided that what we really needed to be taken seriously and to empower ourselves in the workplace was turbo-slut wear? 'Cause I must have missed that vote, and I'm more than a little annoyed about it. See, I just want some new pants. Preferably some nice, khaki-type pants, suitable for work or a casual outing. And I'd really like for those pants to actually cover my ass. I didn't think that requirement was optional, you know, for PANTS, but then I've been a little distracted lately, so that's why I'm thinking I missed the great Ass Covering Referendum of 2002.

There can be no other explanation for the fact that every pair of pants I recently tried on clung firmly to my hips, regardless of how I tried to make the waistband match my waist. Okay, let's get a couple of things straight: I am neither ancient nor obese, but I am a mom, and not interested in reliving my college years through sportswear. Nor am I interested in perfoming an impromptu impersonation of a plumber every time I bend, sit, twist, move, or breathe. And while I do appreciate the occasional cool breeze on my face and other normally exposed body parts--my posterior is neither accustomed to nor eager to feel mother nature's breath. I have never been, am not now, nor will I ever be a fashionista. So please, manufacturers of clothing, keep me in mind when you're making pants. They don't have to be fancy, they just have to perform one essential function--keep the elements away from my ass. Thanks so much. Sincerely, Big Arm Woman.

And while I'm at it, can I just mention this to our well-meaning yet ultimately deluded by Cosmopolitan Magazine co-eds? I do not ever want to see your ass. Okay? Do we have that? Why do you insist on showing it to me? I have no interest in your super-cute thong underwear. Frankly, I can't see how you wear those things, because they chafe an area that should never be chafed. Ever. And do not accuse me of being prudish or out-of-touch. This is your ASS we're talking about, not Michaelangelo's David. Come to think of it, I wouldn't want to see him doing plumber chic, either. Plus, you don't have to look at your ass. I do. You are forcing your ass on me, and frankly, it's rude, because your ass? Is not all it's cracked up to be.

As an aside, just because low riders come in a size 26 doesn't mean you should purchase and wear them in a size 26. If you purchased those low riders in a size larger than eight, you need to turn around and go home right now. Don't tell me not to look at your ass, because it's taking up the entire horizon. There is no avoiding the ass that is yours, that is hanging out, that is mocking me with its crackitude. I hate your ass. Really.

I'm also not interested in your cute little belly shirts. One in ten human beings has the body for these shirts, and the entire 10% lives in CA or NY and is employed as a model. I promise. Ditto for the lace-up front jeans, the ripped-and-held-together-with-big-safety pins jeans, the jeans with splits down the side from knee to ankle, and just about any other too-tight, too small, see-through item of apparel that you can purchase at 5-7-9 or Razzle Dazzle or any other cheap trendoid place of sartorial doom.

How are normally intelligent, active young women being deluded into purchasing glorified hooker wear that allows no movement whatsoever? There is no bending in this clothing, lest you pop a seam. Likewise, no running, sitting, or breathing hard. God forbid you sneeze-passerby will have to hand you your bra and panties while averting their eyes and dialing 911 for the fire department to come dislodge your pants from the treetops.

Listen to me. Just because you CAN be half-naked, doesn't mean you should be. This crap is not fashion-forward, it's France's revenge for no longer being a superpower. Don't give in. Give pants a chance.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2002

Okay, Everybody Out of the

Okay, Everybody Out of the Water. Your Gene Pool Privileges are Hereby Revoked.

This was initially going to be a reflective post on the nature of anti-intellectualism versus pseudo-intellectualism, but then I read my blogroll and just got pissed off. Why? A couple of reasons:

1. Sean Penn is going to Baghdad.
2. Ellen Goodman is still writing.

You would think these things have nothing whatever to do with each other or the idea of the pseudo-intellectual, but you would be wrong. These two largely insignificant, yet blood-pressure increasing news items demonstrate exactly my problems with the state of the intelligentsia in this county. Let me break it down for you, because I know you're probably wondering how the heck Sean Penn and "intelligentsia" are appearing in the same post.

First, Mister Penn. His trip is being sponsored by the Institute for Public Accuracy, which "seeks to broaden public discourse by gaining media access for those whose perspectives are commonly drowned out by corporate-backed think tanks and other influential institutions." So you're trying to tell me that Sean (I've been in front of a camera since I was 21) Penn is somehow being drowned out by corporate-backed think tanks? I'm sorry, if you're a local news producer and you have a choice between a controversial soundbite from Sean Penn or a similar soundbite from the Brookings Institution, which would you focus on? It's a poser, I know, so I'll give you a minute to think about it....

Time's up, and Mr. Penn will be appearing on your local newscast spewing his spew tonight at 6. Because it's all about the ratings (or possibly it's all about how Sean Penn's views are probably a little closer to Peter Jennings' than, say, those of the American Enterprise Institute), we out here in the real world are being forced to watch the erasure of the line between celebrity and expert.

Not that the experts are much help, either. The IPA, "With systematic outreach to mass media...promotes the inclusion of outlooks that usually get short shrift." And here's the crux of the problem. I'm sure that the good folks behind the IPA think they're doing the world a favor by sending Sean Penn to Baghdad (and as far as I'm concerned, Have At It!), but they are only doing it because his opinion, in addition to being a minority opinion, coincides with theirs about the war. Sure dissent is good to have, but there hasn't been a problem with war opponents getting air time thus far. Have they ever stopped to consider that maybe certain opinions get short shrift because they're either a) unworkable in reality, or b) just dumb as rocks?

And that brings me to Ellen Goodman, whose latest column (found via Juan Gato) demonstrates both principles aptly, as she argues that fast food corporations are responsible for obesity, because they try to market to children and they don't have Ronald MacDonald standing outside, repeatedly pantomiming a heart attack to warn people of the dangers of too many Big Macs.

See, we have the FDA, which tests and labels food. These labels are mandated, so you can check out how much that kid's meal will shorten your kid's life. And any food, eaten in enough quantity, will harm you. The crux of Ms. Goodman's argument is this--you people out there are too damn stupid to either monitor what your children eat, or to pay attention yourselves. For this, we must engage the lawyers and the courts and big brother to protect you, else you may just eat until you explode, Monty Python-style. Either that, or you may walk off a cliff. Because you're a moron.

The same thought process underpins the IPA--obviously Americans are just too stupid to know that war for any reason anywhere ever is bad and wrong. Thank God we're here to save them! And if Americans ignore the message, well, we must be getting silenced or repressed! Because no one could possibly disagree with us on principle, unless they're stupid or something.

And this is the state of the intelligentsia, coming from insular homogenous political environments within academia or journalism schools, utterly convinced of their superior intellectual standing, and completely unable to understand that they may actually be in the minority for a reason. They are pseudo-intellectuals, plain and simple, and they dominate what passes for intellectual circles nowadays. It is tiresome, to say the least.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2002

Red Rum. Reeeeddddd Ruuuuummmm! When

Red Rum. Reeeeddddd Ruuuuummmm!

When it comes to Christmas decorations, I'm a lowest common denominator kinda gal. If it lights up and/or is shiny or tacky or plastic--great! I'm not gonna strap eight tiny flashing reindeer and a glowing Santa to my roof, but I'll enjoy your home if you have. Wanna incorporate Frosty and Rudolf in your front yard nativity scene, gazing adoringly with vacant cartoon eyes at the baby Jesus? Fabulous! I'll slow down to appreciate the view, chuckle, and move on. Mix your media, mix your messages, plug it in and/or inflate it, and I'll take the long circuitous route home just to be able to tell folks what I saw on my drive.

However, there is one decorating element that does not fill me with Christmasy joie de vivre--red lights. I'm not talking about the bulb on your mechanical Rudolf's nose, either, or the occasional strand mixed in with all the other stuff. I mean the homes that do all of the window candles and trim in red. I know that red is supposed to convey the warmth of a cozy hearth, that it's one of the two main Christmas colors, etc., but I'm sorry, it just doesn't work that way when used on a large scale. It looks like your house has channeled the spirit of the Overlook Hotel, and frankly, it frightens me. Not from a "how gauche" perspective, but from an "AAACCK! Hell on earth! Axe murderers!" perspective.

My horror of the red stems from my fifth grade year, when for some light Christmas reading I picked up The Amityville Horror, and scared myself into a fugue state with it. The most lasting image from that book was the glowing red pig eyes that appeared in the windows of the home. After reading that book, every time I saw a lightbulb reflected in a window pane, I jumped, and it was in this heightened state of fear that my mom took me with her to visit a friend, who had incidentally done all of her window lights in red. I spent two hours convinced that I was surrounded by pig demons, and have never fully recovered from the trauma. To this day, houses bathed in the all over glow of red chill my heart.

So if you want to make your home into the Eye of Sauron for the holiday season, feel free, but don't be surprised if I give your expression of holiday cheer a pass.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 05:51 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2002

Did I Stutter, Susan? Because,

Did I Stutter, Susan? Because, really, just shut up.

Apparently the divine Ms. S and her paramour Tim (no, I have done movies since The Shawshank Redemption, honest!) Robbins are now being asked their opinions on political appointees. See their comments re: Kissinger here.

Perhaps I should address the following questions to reporters: Why do you keep asking celebrities about politics? Does it make you feel that your hack writing for the entertainment page is somehow more relevant if the overexposed photos are coupled with celebrity commentary on the issues of the day? Is it because you honestly think we read the celeb pages for their political ideas? Are you depressed and overmedicated? Closet sadists who laugh at the pain of the reader when confronted with such idiocy? Or are you just going straight for the kill by making my head explode?

Whatever the reasons, please stop. Celebrities don't need any more reason to feel self-important. You're just enabling their delusions of grandeur. And while I suppose you could argue that the entertainment value of these pieces approximates that of putting my eyes out with a knitting needle, it's not really a selling point for me. Just thought I'd point that out. Thanks.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2002

Shut Up, Susan Sarandon. Tuned

Shut Up, Susan Sarandon.

Tuned in (briefly) to the protest on Saturday night, and caught this nugget from America's bug-eyed sweetheart: "I'm tired of being afraid to voice my opinion!"

Just before my head exploded, something occurred to me: in Hollywood, being silenced means that no one is paying attention to you. And for people who are accustomed to being fawned over, it's a fate worse than death. Look, anyone with an internet connection has seen or been forced to avoid the "Not in Our Name" letter crap, the bizarre pseudo-political screeds by every hack writer, director and actor vacationing abroad, and now a TELEVISED PROTEST, FOR CHRISSAKES. Your message is and has been out there, and none among your number has been "disappeared," so I can only assume that your complaint is that C-Span doesn't get the ratings share you're accustomed to. My God, your voice is being silenced!

It's not that you're really fearful for either your life or your livelihood, Suze. You're simply unaccustomed to having people ignore you, or pay attention to you just to mock your words. And your experience with this is so limited that the public's indifference and ridicule seem like censorship. But buck up, little soldier! The longer you flap your gums at the world at large, the more experience you're going to have with being ridiculed and ignored.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2002

I Want My Two Dollars!

I Want My Two Dollars! (Points to anyone who recognizes that pop culture reference)

Or more like $550, since that's the amount of cash I dropped a year ago on the wedding of a friend who is now--you guessed it--getting a divorce. It's not like the demise of this happy union was in any way unexpected; however, as I am not independently wealthy, reflecting on the money wasted gives me physical pain, especially when I realize that the DVD player I cannot now afford could have been paid for twice over for that amount. And I bet it would have lasted more than a year--the warranty says so.

What did I get for my $550? Let's see..

  • A lime green dress that is now 3 sizes too large (and still lime green), because I was 5 months pregnant (and carrying the fetus entirely in my ass, as I confused the term "pregnant" with "eat like a freaking moose for nine months") on the date of the nuptials.

  • A pair of matching lime green shoes that almost looked cute on the shelf but that I had to lash to my feet with twine to keep them on.

  • A bouquet that died within 2 hours of being toted down the aisle.

  • And a 1/3 share in a completely useless silver trinket box from Tiffany's™, because the other bridesmaid thought we needed to follow the Martha Stewart's Weddings book to the letter and purchase wildly expensive gifts for the rehearsal dinner in addition to the wedding presents we were required to bring, and the showers we were required to throw.

I'd just like to mention, re: the wedding presents, that my "friend" registered for Waterford™ and Wedgewood™ exclusively.

What else did I get? Surprised, when I discovered AT THE REHEARSAL that I was the matron of honor and therefore required to read a Shakespearean sonnet during the ceremony. Which I did, cold, with the preacher clutching my elbow in a death grip as I tottered up the steps in my loose shoes with my giant ass threatening to overbalance me and send me into a decorative fern.

I also got completely ignored by the groom, even as I sat NEXT TO HIM at the rehearsal dinner. No "Hi, thanks for participating in the most important day of my pathetic life thus far, " no acknowledgement of my presence (or anyone else's who wasn't an old Navy buddy) at the table, not even a "Hey, could you pass the butter?" to let me know that he was aware that the bride might have some friends, too. I considered hitting him with the ubiquitous copy of Martha Stewart's Weddings, but the other bridesmaid was afraid he might bleed on the cover.

The only saving grace was that the happy couple did not write their own vows, so we were all spared having to pretend we were "touched by the heartfelt emotion" of the ceremony. Don't know if I could have pulled that off in any case, since having your shoes tied to your feet tends to be distracting.

My husband has always complained about the numerous weddings we've had to attend and participate in over the years, and usually I can defend my friends' choices of venue, bizarre "personalized" ceremony glitches, crap food, and bad taste, mainly because in most cases I've believed in the people involved. But I think I've had it. Unless you can guarantee me, in writing, that the marriage will last longer than it takes me to pay off the credit card bills I've accrued from participating in your wedding, I will not be attending. I will, however, think of you fondly as I pop another movie into my new DVD player.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at 11:18 AM | Comments (1)