Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sarah Palin's Gender Roles

Rachel Maddow showed a clip from a Sarah Palin speech given yesterday in a location that isn't New Mexico where Palin takes "Joe the Plumber" to the next level. Now everyone, according to Maddow, is [Name] The [Occupation]. Palin gives two lists: people she's met on the campaign trail and signs being waved in the hall where she's speaking. Her list of people she's supposedly met tells me a lot about her concept of gender roles. She's chosen occupations that are architypical and sometimes old timey.
  • Ed the Dairyman
  • Tito the Builder
  • Phil the Bricklayer
  • Rose the Teacher
  • Corinna the Nurse
Now contrast that with the people who are at her rally or speech or whatever (as read from the signs they're waving.
  • Anne the Engineer
  • Dave the Cop
  • Jeffery the Hockey Player
  • Jon the Only Republican in My High School
It's interesting to me that she chose architypal occupations, confirming that the whole "Joe the Plumber" thing is, for them, about wooing people whose primary concerns are those of business. And men are builders and bricklayers and dairymen. Women are teachers and nurses. The people at her rally (or whatever), however, did not choose architypal occupations because they chose either their actual occupation or something else that they think defines them. And the first one (at least in Maddow's clip) indicates that Palin's "women are teachers and nurses" view is not our reality any longer. Anne the Engineer. I like it.

If it were anyone else, I would admit that it is patently unfair to judge someone on the content of one excerpted speech. But Palin has stuck me as a kind of unintentional truth-teller. Her pagent-style of question answering (just keep talking! fluently! about anything, it doesn't matter!) lets things slip all the time. And, frankly, I just don't think she's all that bright. I mean, telling everyone that the campaign moved out of Michigan without consulting it's VP pick who had to email her runningmate, "Oh c'mon, do we have to?" is just so obviously a terrible idea. But it let us know exactly where she stands with the campaign behind closed doors. And I think this is the same kind of thing. When she's most comfortable, she's most revealing. She's working with some very old material, like 1960s style. Yes, women work, but primarily at one of two jobs.

Campaign lit

I'm trying a new thing: short posts. It's very hard for me, as a natural-born bloviator. Normally I would wax philosophical (read: gripe) about all the campaign lit making it our way, what it means, why it's nutty, how badly they've missed their target audience... But instead I'm just going to mention the one thing that actually caught my eye from a Yes on 57 ad.
Measure 61 is a failed, one-size-fits-all approach to crime.
Measure 57 has some things we really need. It targets repeat offenders of crimes like identity theft and requires drug treatment.
I read that and laughed to myself. "Oh, who put this together? 'One-size-fits-all is bad! Make all identity thieves get drug treatment!' A+, guys! Like drug treatment is really going to cure repeat identity thieves." Then I read the next sentence.
About 85% of offenders in jail for property crime have drug and alcohol addictions.
You know, that really took the wind out of my imaginings about the one identity thief who isn't a drug addict being required by law to attend NA meetings. Sails. (Sorry - broken metaphor, broken sentence.) He's all, "No, really guys. I do not do drugs." And they're all, "Sure you don't, buddy. Look: you flunked the 'I don't do drugs' test. You stole credit card numbers." And he's like, "But I wanted them to feed my internet porn addiction!" And at about that time my brain registered, "wow, 85%? really?" That's a pretty good idea, drug treatment, if that stat is true.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Doucheyest commercials ever

Have you seen those "rotoscoped" Charles Schwab Commercials? They are the douchiest commercials in the history of douchbaggery. I thought the one good thing the on-coming depression (oh, sorry - Depression) would do is end that insufferable "I'm rich, whiny and a cartoon all for no good reason" ad campaign. Alas, that is not the case. I saw a new one last night, which I don't see on YouTube yet. It's a guy opening a bottle of wine (zing!) and smugly talking about how he's so not worried about his investments. Seriously: if I had any money, those ads alone would have me looking everywhere else before Schwab for my investment needs.

Monday, October 20, 2008

CNN has slow readers

It seems like every day CNN has a new headline related to "Marcia Brady." I think that someone there is reading Maureen McCormick's memoir very slowly and everyday is posting some new tidbit from whatever chapter they've managed to complete. Here is today's: "Marcia Brady says set was 'hormone city'." I did a search to see what the previous ones were, but CNN has the worst search engine ever. And I'm lazy. So you'll just have to take my word for it: someone at CNN is reading a memoir full of rather obvious revelations very, very slowly and they'd like you to know about it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Your full emotional spectrum in one drive

I know - two posts in one day. But the other post was so very very crappy, we'll just pretend it doesn't exist. Have you driven up Powell blvd recently? (No need to answer, People Who Don't Live In Portland. This is a rhetorical question for you.) We had not in quite some time, but today took it from 39th to the I-205 entrance at 82nd. Anything you have ever felt - happiness, appreciation for beauty, sadness, depression, befuddlement, total confusion, ire, rage, amusement - you will feel again in those 43 blocks. I am not kidding - it's a roller coaster for the brain.

Okay, you pretty much have to start out happy. I may have lied about the full spectrum being on Powell itself. Unless you super love Safeway or restaurants with weird names (see befuddlement below). And for most people, they get happiness once they hit amusement. But let's assume you start out happy because you're going somewhere you want to be going (like to REI to get a cycling-specific balaclava).

What is with those weird parking areas on the south side of the street? What is up with that? They're so completely awful! In fact, they're so awful that you almost don't notice you're on a tree-lined boulevard complete with planted medians.

Someone told me once that those odd parking islands were created to encourage shoppers and build Powell up as a shopping district. The idea was that you'd increase commerce if people had a place to park and it would be better for the neighborhood if shoppers weren't parked in front of houses just off Powell. Here are the problems with this set up, if that is indeed true: 1) all the "shopping" is on the other side of the street. And from the large cement retaining walls behind the little parking areas, I think that's how it was intended. 2) Powell is a four lane highway with few protected cross-walks. 3) Most of the commercial buildings on the north side of the street have their own little parking lots.

Appreciation for Beauty
You almost don't notice the trees on Powell, but at a certain point (maybe around 70th?) the blue sky is filled with riotous yellow leaves. So long as you look up, your heart swells.

This really goes with the depression. It just makes you sad to know that once upon a time someone had great hopes for Powell. They planted trees, they zoned light commercial, they probably even encouraged the development of local neighborhood and business associations. And for what? It's dirty and dingy. Everyone seems resigned to life behind a cement retaining wall, the neighborhood hiding from the expected noise the busy little shopping district was meant to generate.

There are always some kind of traffic shenanigans going on along Powell. Pedestrians run out into traffic like common squirrels; drivers make sudden, violent and thoroughly unheralded left turns; cars with no functioning brake lights cause others to stop short; the list goes on. We did not actually suffer rage ourselves; but some of the drivers stuck behind the two cars waiting for the police to come after their rear-ender in the center lane seemed to be pretty full of rage. Although we didn't feel it, we did at least see it, and that's something, right?

We did feel ire, though. After we made it past the minor accident slowdown, the woman ahead of us decided to stop a full car-length back from the line. While that didn't make a difference to us, it did effect someone behind us because they couldn't quite get passed the accident detritus until the light changed, which slowed things down further. That's so irritating - just rude.

I love this restaurant name: Dream Cafe & More. I tried to accurately represent the relative sizes of the fonts, like the "& More" is being whispered. There was a pumpkin patch with lots of hay bales and some bouncy castles to draw in kids. There was a sign that read:
Corn Stock
For Sale
Pete asks, "Do you think they mean 'corn stalks'?" I like the possibility that spelling was not the author's problem. S/he wanted people to invest in his/her corn. S/he had a supply of corn s/he wanted to sell. S/he did not have any suped up models of corn on hand.

Depression, Again
Pete pointed out a girl walking along with two nasty, dirty, swarthy looking men. She was several inches taller, very slender and pretty, wearing a tight pink hoodie, a short very cream-colored skirt and shimmery tights. It was the skirt Pete pointed out. "Do you think that's an ice-skater's skirt?" That is exactly what it looked like. It fell to just below her butt (or where a butt would be if she had one), was kind of pleated/ruffle-y full, and had some kind of gold trim along the bottom. Pete says, "Prostitute, do you think?" I said, "I dunno. I mean, she looked pretty healthy." (Most of the hookers we see around 82nd look like they're hooking to feed a pretty nasty drug habit - all pock-marked and lurching.) "And," I continued, "she wasn't, like, trying to be sexy at all. She wasn't wearing a ton of visible make-up. Her hair was pretty boring. It looked like she was just walking along with two dudes. My guess? Russian. Tall, slender, elegant, mixing sportswear with what could be nightclub-wear but is really more misappropriated sportswear. I bet those guys were relatives." But it's pretty depressing to see a pretty girl walking along the street and because she's with two kind of gnarly guys, assume she's a hooker.

Total Confusion
And then we crossed 90th. And we saw this. Guess what it is? It's just sitting there on the north side on Powell, at 92nd. Next to the I-205 on-ramp, almost under an overpass. Go on: guess!

The Columbia School of English. Yeah, I have no idea why. Do you think they built that building for themselves? It reminds me of that episode of South Park where the Persians want to take over the local lesbian bar and Mrs. Garrison freaks out because they'll do up the whole place in columns and gold curtain rods.

See above

Heirloom Tomatoes Have Funny Names

A certain friend in medical school had a quote involving (but not really about) heirloom tomatoes as his facebook status and that reminded me that cooking light had a great guide to heirloom tomatoes last month. I didn't realize that they all had different names, which just goes to show I really need to use my brain in a wider variety of circumstances. (There are like a billion varieties of apple, potato, tulip and rose, and each has a different name, but tomatoes? Nah. They're all either "the red kind," "the green kind," "the yellow kind" or grape, cherry, pear or plum shaped.) Not only do they all have different names (duh), but they have crazy hilarious names! Examples? Mr. Stripey! Abraham Lincoln! Morgage Lifter! Yes, these are actual tomato names. Seriously: go check out that guide.

On a related (and probably equally uninteresting) note... Last summer, in line at Fred Meyer, there were two women behind us, one of whom had five or six green zebra tomatoes. The woman behind her comment on how nice they looked and wasn't it nice how you could get so many tomato varieties, even at Fred Meyer these days. The woman with the green tomatoes said, "Oh, it's wonderful. I've wanted to make fried green tomatoes for years, but they never sold green tomatoes before." Here is my understanding: friend green tomatoes are made with the end-of-the-season green tomatoes that won't ripen before the first frost. They're kind of hard and sour, so they're sliced horizontally in rounds, breaded and fried for a late summer treat. I assume it's the hardness that makes it work: can you imagine trying to bread horizonal rounds of a ripe tomato? It seems like all the seeds would fall out and make a mess, and you'd just end up with fried tomato rings. But you know, I've been wrong before.

So I turned around and said, "I'm sorry to butt in, but it was my understanding that fried green tomatoes were made with unripe tomatoes."

The woman replied, "Oh no - my receipe says green tomatoes. Like heirloom."

The woman behind her said, "I always heard unripe too. That's why they're green."

"Well," said the woman with the green tomatoes, "you can do it with either. That's what my recipe says."

And we all left it at that.

Regional cuisine is always tricky when it's not your region. I'm sure that if you're southern, you just know that fried green tomatoes are either heirloom or unripe like northwesterners just know that... um... philberts and hazelnuts are the same thing? ...that hefeweizen is made of wheat? Okay, those are suck comparisons. (Our regional cuisine - which I would sum up as salmon served with spinach ravioli in a hazelnut beurre blanc and a salad of mixed bitter greens, toasted hazelnuts and apple slices dressed in a balsamic vinegrette - is pretty descriptive and relatively straight-forward; we like to tell you in the name of the dish which exact ingredients you will be eating.) But if you look at fried green tomato recipes, they simply don't say "these tomatoes are unripe." And maybe they aren't; maybe I've made the mistake of assuming "green" means "unripe" because I have the horticultural skills of a swarm of locusts.

Okay, now I've wandered far afield of my original point (such as it was) and I don't know how to wrap this up. Pete is watching Telemundo and it is showing commercials for super-sexy telenovelas and "" This seems like a good way to lose either a lot of money or a lot of gold. It has a little BBB Better Business Bureau logo in the bottom left corner at the end. Or what could be a BBB logo - it's hard to tell because it's so small. I have to say that would just confirm my belief that a BBB designation means nothing. (The movers that shanghai'd our stuff to northern Maryland and stole our vacuum - of all things - were BBB members.)

Sorry this is so rambling. I will leave you with a link to a joke that is terrible on every level. It's not funny, it's badly punctuated and contains a rather obvious factual error that is extremely annoying. Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Local Commercials: What are you guys thinking?

So is there a law that local, amateur commercials have to be terrible? (I know there's a law that Lifetime movies have to be terrible. I'm pretty sure it's in the Constitution.) It would have never occurred to me that local commercials could be better than terrible before living in Maryland. And then we were exposed to the wonderfully bizarre Senate Insurance ads. (I think there was one with heads in a bag like bowling balls, but maybe I'm thinking of something else because I couldn't find a link.)

Local carpet ads seem to be the worst. I mean, "Carpet Carl"? What is he thinking? That's so gross. And then there's one for like, The Rug Store, or something. With a guy in a wagon, talking to a taxidermied bull about getting the carpets to the store. And the bull's eyes bulge and he pulls the carpet salesman out of the wagon and drags a very obviously stuffed shirt and pants to the carpet store. Um, what? And that isn't the only local ad starring a bull either. There's the car dealership (Wilsonville Toyota?) that goes a very long way for a very dumb joke: there's no bull at that dealership. My question is: why use the bull contrivance in the first place? If it's so hard to come up with a reasonable scenario in which someone might utter the phrase, "There's no bull at Wilsonville Toyota," why not try something else?

That's what makes Senate's line ("You can tell those other insurance companies to kiss my bumper - just kiss it!") so brilliant: when would you not say "kiss my bumper?" A friend of my mom's said that they enter the New Yorker cartoon caption contest every week with the same line: "Fuck off." And holy crap if it doesn't always work and if it isn't always funny. "Kiss my bumper" works the same way.

And then there are the ads that are unintentionally funny. In this one, I think maybe they meant to be a little funny, but maybe also a little cool. And the cool part definitely did not work. But they're having fun, so it's fun to watch, even if it is a little cringe worthy. There's another local commercial for a furniture store that I can't find on-line that makes no sense at all. And they think they're being funny - they're aren't - and it is just painful to watch. Well, at least as baffling as it is painful. There's a woman and she says, "Normally I like to dress up for ads this time of year, but my husband said he wanted to do something more serious. Let's go see what he came up with." [cut to woman opening door to office. Inside office is man on phone in a very very bad banana suit. Man shrugs and looks, um, sheepish? Is that what he was going for?] "Well, I guess he changed his mind!" The woman says shrugging the most exaggerated shrug ever. How is that selling furniture?? How?

The Portland "Local Ads Must Be Awful" Ordinance seems to extend to local politics as well. While Earl Blumenhaur, Gordon Smith and Jeff Merkeley (to name a few) have all managed to put together ads that do not look like they were shot on a ten-year old camcorder with a budget of pocket change, some duct tape and a handful of Brach's neopolitains, the same can not be said of Diane McKeel (for county commissioner). Check out the second video in her embedded feed. (I couldn't find a YouTube of this specific ad.) What do you think: does she know it looks terrible and she just wants everyone to know how good she is at following city statutes? Or does she think it's looking pretty awesome? Pete loves how half the 'S' in 'JOBS' is cut off. It's kind of like an SNL bit, but without Scarlett Johansson in a Curly Sue wig (more's the pity).

[Momentary digression: actually, there is an anti-Gordon Smith ad that is incredibly effective on mute. Seriously: hit mute now and then watch this ad. I think the photographs are beautiful - masculine, intense, emotional, even a little gritty - and the words really cut to the heart of the issue. Okay, now watch it with the sound. I think the sound totally kills the impact. The music is maudlin and the voice-over is just a little bitter, a little snide. The first few times I saw it, I saw it on mute, and I thought it was so powerful. "Yes," I thought, "This is how political ads should be. Artful, thoughtful, understated." We watch TV with the commercials on mute so often I don't really notice anymore, unless they don't make any sense without sound. I was so disappointed when I heard it for the first time. If I were the DCC (I think that's who did this), I would have just read the words on the screen so that the illiterate can understand as well and I would have had them read by veterans who feel that Gordon Smith should not keep his seat in the Senate.
--Digression digression: I can't bring myself to hate Gordon Smith. Have I said this before? Maybe so - but it's true. I just don't feel any vitriol. Merkeley seems just as bad, he just happens to share one or two more of my views than Smith does. But Pete put it this way: "No, we need Gordon Smith out so that I can see revenge enacted upon Lieberman." Fair enough.--]

I probably should have embedded some of those videos. ::sigh:: But I'm soooo lazy.... Here, I'll embed the singing furniture ad for you as a parting gift.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oregon Coast

Pete and I were at the coast today and oh my god it was so beautiful there are no words to describe it so here are some pictures. [Error 503: Pithy phraseology about weeping, jealousy and not living in the pacific northwest not found. Please substitute actual conversational content or accept fail.] ::Fail accepted::