Friday, June 30, 2006

On A Bitch: This Is Your Soundtrack

Okay, so I'm sure you've all been over to Doug's blog to hear his woeful tale of the bitch who dumped him to his voicemail, and I am not even kidding, his voicemail. Just in case anyone was wondering and thought the fact should be submitted to the record: That is not even okay. There is no excuse, short of breathless dying words, for dumping someone to his/her voicemail (and those dying words had still better be, "Baby, you know I love you more than anything, but I won't be able to see you anymore after my brain ceases to function in about twelve seconds, and I feel awful about that").

I'm not even going to mention her name, because it's not worth mentioning, and she's less than a human being for doing what she did. Doug's taking it pretty well, all told, because that's the kind of guy he is, but I feel no compulsion whatsoever to do the same. If I need to cut a bitch, don't think I won't. Seriously.

And that's why this Friday Not-Even-Random Ten goes out to The Bitch Who Dumped Doug To His Voicemail. Honey, you have less than a soul. Don't run into me. Ever.

The Ten:

1. Annie Sellick, "How Insensative"
2. EMF, "Unbelievable"
3. Beck, "Loser"
4. Dixie Chicks, "Bitter End"
5. Coldplay, "Yellow"
6, Injected, "Faithless"
7. Home Grown, "Suffer"
8. Bon Jovi, "You Give Love a Bad Name"
9. Cibo Matto, "Know Your Chicken"
10. Green Day, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"

And for Doug:

11. Ben Folds Five, "Song for the Dumped"

Your Ten and/or best time-tested revenge suggestions go below.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On a guy whose job I want

Okay, so this got pitched over to me by our dear friend Doug, and I'm really glad it was, because I like it a lot.

Where the hell is Matt?

Also be sure to go to for the full story of why he's going to all of those different countries and dancing in a silly way.

Which I'd be totally willing to do, by the way. I'm no dummy.

Friday, June 23, 2006

On more shallowness (because we can)

Okay, so so there's thin, and then there's skinny, and then there's bleeeeh. Courtesy of The Superficial, we have pictures of Nicole Ritchie and Mischa Barton at the beach together, probably weighing about a hundred and ten pounds between them. Seriously, it's hard to tell if they're trying to tan their skin or bleach their bones.

And the dog is thinking, "Oh, boy, a stick! A stick!"

Seriously, guys, not to be a bitter curvy girl here, but is that the least bit attractive? Or this? Or, dear Lord, this?

These women are young and, apparently, not terribly bright. They have to have handlers. I know that there was a point in Nicole Ritchie's life where some kind person said to her, "Nicole, honey, your hair looks like you left it for a week without washing and then styled it with an egg beater, and buttercup, I think the cat got at your top, and don't you want to put on pants of some kind?" I mean, hell, the girl showed up at the MTV Movie Awards looking like this, and honey, I'm fairly sure I hate that dress, but you just look so classy.

So if there is a person in this world who can turn Nicole from skank to swank, can that person not also influence her to eat something? Yes, I understand that there's a huge amount of pressure on young women in Hollywood to be not just hot, but the hottest, and not just thin, but the thinnest, but this girl's health has got to be in danger. And she's probably hanging out with Mischa because she's the only other girl who'll go to The Ivy with her and split a grape.

Please, nameless handler, get this girl a sandwich. Get her a salad. Hell, get her a glass of whole milk; just get something into her. 'Cause the only one on that beach looking hungrier than her is that dog, and we don't want to find her buried somewhere in his backyard for him to come back to later.

On being shallow (and loving it)

Okay, so after six long years, I can finally say it (and say it with glee):

I've got better legs than Britney Spears.


On Shakespeare for Dummies: This Is Your Soundtrack

Okay, so British schoolkids are getting a new and different take on Shakespeare with the dumbed down versions they're reading in class. A whole generation of Brits get to grow up thinking that "You'd best be off now" and "Eat dagger, old man!" sound, like, totally Shakespearean. I mean, like, who the hell bites their thumb at people anyway?

So this Friday Not-Even-Random Ten goes out to Coordination Group Publications and all of the students who think that "Ooh, look! A dagger!" sounds Shakespearean. Behold the vast range of movies loosely based on Shakespeare, from "interpretation" all the way to "bastardization." And when I say "bastardization," I mean, "Give us a snog, then."

The Ten:

1. Garbage, "#1 Crush" (from Romeo + Juliet)
2. Borealis, "Mightier Than the Sword" (from O)
3. Sister Hazel, "Your Winter" (from 10 Things I Hate About You)
4. The Crystal Method, "Keep Hope Alive" (from Romeo Must Die)
5. Morcheeba, "Big Calm" (from Hamlet)
6. Ludwig von Beethoven, "Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor" (from Scotland, PA)
7. The Faders, "No Sleep 2Nite" (from She's the Man)
8. The Pogues, "The Old Main Drag" (from My Own Private Idaho)
9. Giacomo Puccini, "Che Galida Manina" from La Boheme (from A Midsummer Night's Dream)
10. Depeche Mode, "It's No Good" (from Midsummer)

Yours go below.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On the Shakespearean term for "gettin' it on"

Okay, so educators in are (understandably, I think) up in arms about new versions of Shakespeare's classics that take "dumbing down" to a new and outrageous low.
Examiners recently complained that teenagers are approaching Shakespeare's plays as if they are TV soap operas, peppering their essays with conversational cliches and references to popular culture.

Coordination Group Publications, which describes itself as one of the country's most popular educational publishers, produces a series of complete plays of Shakespeare and revision guides.

The first page of the complete play of Romeo and Juliet states that 'reading Shakespeare can be a real headache'.

And don't think this is just another one of the usual colloquial and/or simplified versions used to help students better understand Shakesperean language. Oh, no. Thanks to the CGP versions of the plays, we get a lot of interesting translations.

Romeo and Juliet, Act One, Scene Five, is the big first-kiss scene. Rome kisses Juliet and declares,
Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg'd.
... which scene, in the CGP version, becomes:
Juliet: What are you thinking about?
Romeo: Oh, just moons and spoon in June.
Juliet: Wow. Give us a snog then.

Same play, Act Three, Scene Five, Juliet wakes up next to Romeo and says:
Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day. It was the nightingale, and not the lark That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear. Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate tree. Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
... unless she says:
Well that was nice. You'd best be off now.

Macbeth, Act Two, Scene One, where Macbeth sees the dagger that he'll shortly use to stab his father:
Is this a dagger, which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?
... which becomes:
Ooh! Would you look at that!
... after which he stabs his father and exclaims, "Eat dagger, old man!"

Not even kidding.

Some would decry the loss of Shakespeare's innate poetry. Some would complain that the act of learning Shakespearean language and decoding the plays themselves teaches students to think critically and stretch their brains a bit to accept ideas that don't, on first glance, seem to make sense.

I wonder what will happen to flirting.

I mean, come on. What guy hasn't, at at least one point in his life, pulled out a little bit of Shakespeare in one way or another? Who hasn't taken a girl to a Shakespeare play that he didn't particularly like or even care about, just to make him seem deep and sensitive? Has the most tenacious among you, perhaps, even managed to pull out, "Her beauty makes / This vault a feasting presence full of light"?

"Parting is such sweet sorrow." "What's in a name?" "To be or not to be." These are the remnants of our high school years that we pull out only in those situations where we need to appear more intelligent and/or charming. "Give us a snog then"? We can get that anywhere (anywhere vaguely British, anyway). Give us back our pretentious, high-toned language, for it is all that we have to pretend to be more than we are.

Alas and alack.

On yet another arbitrary milestone

Okay, so in the quote-excitement-unquote of my second blogiversary, another milestone has almost been overlooked. At some point this afternoon, Practically Harmless turned over 20,000 views. The lucky 20,000th visitor came to us from Ballysmuttan, Ireland, during a search for the waterlogged-Kate-Winslet picture I linked to once, stayed all of nineteen seconds, and then buggered off, clever man.

The Irish Titanic Googler joins the ranks of the UofT Inappropriate Smile Googler (15,000) and Commenter Tami (1,000) (I'm sure there was someone at 10,000, too, but damned if I can remember who).

As with all of our milestone guests, the Irish Titanic Googler wins a sense of self-satisfaction and a bright, shiny nickel, should s/he ever reappear to collect it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On now being this many

Okay, so for two years now, I've been sitting down to my trusty laptop (or, occasionally, the Disco Mac at work) on a daily (or every-other-daily, or occasionally weekly, when things got really busy) and writing about stuff that interested me. To my pearls-clutching shock, a few folks have actually cared. Which is pretty cool. When I started out, I was sufficiently satisfied with the fact that I finally had an outlet for the opinions that had been rattling around in my head more-or-less unexpressed. Since then, though, I've really started grooving on the knowledge that I have an audience, and I can't say for sure that I would have kept doing this if I hadn't gotten some kind of response. So, to my regular readers and commenters: this is your fault.

The old saying is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. So now, a look back at a few of the things that have changed since this time last year, and a few of the things that haven't:

Changed: My employment situation. I finally ballsed up and struck out on my own, which is not so great for the paycheck but far better for the advancement potential.
The Same: My standard of living. The cool thing about being broke-ass is that there's not much more broke-ass you can get until you hit "homeless."

Changed: Zarqawi, bitches. The head of al Qaeda in Iraq got a couple of much-deserved 500-pound bombs to the head, and uncharitable as it is, I think the world is all the better of for it. I know that I'm supposed to mourn all loss of life, even scumbags like this guy, but I'm just finding it hard to think anything but, "Score!"
The Same: Iraq. Scum rises to the top, and Zarqawi's replacement, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, has sought to prove that the new boss has even less of a soul than the old boss by brutally killing two kidnapped American soldiers. And for the record, torture is bad no matter who does it. It's the fact like guys like this do it and are proud of it that only underscores our need to act like actual human beings.

Changed: Gay marriage. The amendment to the Georgia state constitution establishing marriage as a bond between one man and one woman was overturned on the single-subject rule. The issue is currently under debate, but hopefully, Georgia voters will be given the chance to vote again, this time without legislators trying to pull a fast one and slip civil unions into the gay marriage debate.
The Same: Gay marriage. Still not legal in the vast majority of states, Georgia included. Despite concerns that legalization of gay marriage in Massachussetts would result in a tide of groom-on-groom weddings nationwide, the US remains 99 percent straight-married. And 62 percent straight-divorced. Nice work, folks.

Changed: Like, the entire staff of the White House. John Snow is gone. Scott McClellan is gone. Andy Card, out. Karl Rove, demoted. Never before have so many families had so much time to spend with their ex-White-House-staffer daddies.
The Same: Donald Rumsfeld. 'Cause it would be awful to change horses in midstream. Even if the horse we're on is lame. And old. And smelly. And constantly trying to bite us. And might actually be a donkey.

Changed: Iraq's finally starting to get its government together. Parliament has filled some important security posts, and although a few ethics questions have been raised, none of them concern anything that the US government wouldn't overlook in its own legislature. It's too soon to know if things are actually looking up, but at this point, they've got the potential for good things.
The Same: The rest of the stuff. Electricity. Bombings. Personal security. Religious freedom. For whatever reason, and I'm not trying to throw around blame here, Iraq citizens (especially those not living in the same neighborhood as a cabinet minister, by some strange coincidence) are still only without electricity about 16 hours a ridiculously hot day, and sectarian violence and intimidation is on an upswing. Hopefully, a complete and more stable Iraqi government will be able to make significant changes in those areas.

In other Same news, I'm still single, still po', still waiting to replace the mass airflow sensor in my VW, still waiting for Michael Buble to call. But I'm also still living comfortably, still eating daily, still surrouded by people who love me, and still free to post this stuff at my leisure for another year. Looks like I've still come out on top.

Keep reading, y'all. I love it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

On Friday Not-Even-Random Way-More-Than-Ten

Okay, so I know I've been really negligent lately as far as blog posts go. I did mention that things had gotten a lot crazier around the Practically Harmless household when I made the leap to go freelance, but I really did intend to stay on top of things a lot better than I have. This is my pledge for the future, that I will take more time to waste more time, just to keep y'all entertained.

In the meantime, though, I know I've missed a couple of Not-So-Random Tens, so here's what I'm gonna do: I'm giving you a Not-So-Random Thirty, with plenty of tracks for your enjoyment. And, as an added bonus, it's actually happening on a Friday.

And this one is dedicated to me. God knows I've earned it.

Thirty, y'all:

1. Kent, "Unprofessional"
2. Beck, "Jack-Ass"
3. The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
4. Queen, "I Want to Break Free"
5. Elvis, "It's Now or Never"
6. 311, "Sever"
7. The Ceasars, "Jerk It Out:
8. Maroon 5, "Sweetest Goodbye"
9. Athenaeum, "So Long"
10. Green Day, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"
11. The La's, "There She Goes"
12. Ben Folds Five, "Song for the Dumped"
13. Jump, Little Children, "All Those Days Are Gone"
14. Big Audio Dynamite, "Rush"
15. Pet Shop Boys, "Liberation"
16. Furslide, "Over My Head"
17. Evanescence, "Where Will You Go"
18. Remy Zero, "Glorious"
19. The Smiths, "Panic"
20. Coldplay, "Don't Panic"
21. Dido, "Honestly OK"
22. Dixie Chicks, "I Like It"
23. Nina Simone, "Feelin' Good (Joe Claussell Remix)"
24. Ramsey Lewis, "Do What You Wanna (Mr. Scruff's Soul Party Mix)"
25. Shirley Bassey, "No Regrets"
26. Kelly Clarkson, "Miss Independent"
27. Owsley, "I'm Alright"
28. Sarah Vaughan, "I Could Write a Book"
29. The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"
30. Sting, "Tomorrow We'll See"

And as a sidenote: I selfishly dedicated this'n to myself, because I can, but in a way, it's also a shout-out to a dear friend of mine who just found her own kind of freedom. Jen, honey, congratulations on getting your last name back. I'm drinking to a bright and prosperous future for the both of us.

On not leaving well enough afreakinglone

Okay, so this is - It's - I really can't describe - GAAAAAH!


Okay, so some people won't take "Shut your stupid face, you're an idiot" for an answer. Gloriously smacked down by the Gwinnett County School Board in her attempt to clear the school libraries of Harry Potter books (none of which she's actually read), Loganville mother Laura Mallory has stomped her foot, screwed up her face, and taken her case to the state Board of Education. Her letter requesting an appeal was received by the school board late last Friday, and Gwinnett County had ten days after that to forward it on to state authorities. District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said she didn't know when the state would be taking up the issue. She didn't add, "or whether they'll send a guy with a Wiffle bat to beat her down for wasting their freaking time already," but you know she was thinking it.

When I mentioned this whole mes to my mother, she said, "It would be really nice if people would raise their children as they see fit and tell them not to read those mean, nasty, evil books, and leave other parents to raise their children and let them read those mean, nasty, evil books." To that, I say, nyeah. We live in a world where the FCC hands out fines for profanity on shows that a) kids shouldn't be watching anyway b) that are shown when kids should be in bed anyway, because God forbid you should actually parent your child instead of using the TV as a handy, dandy babysitter. We live in a world where it's easier to raise your kid in a plastic bubble than to actually raise a strong, smart human being who can face down vice and temptation and not actually freaking deal with it instead of collapsing into a puddle and crying for Mommy to make it go away.

Raise your freaking kids, parents! If you don't want your kid exposed to something, you do something about it. Watch your kid. Teach him. Guide him through life. Don't expect the world to get all soft and squishy just because little Tommy there never learned to grow a freaking spine.

My mom likes to tell the story of a friend of hers who was absolutely meticulous in her housekeeping, verging on OCD, really. She sprayed, scalded or otherwise disinfected every single surface that her toddler came in contact with, to save the little dear from getting germs on him. Well, one day, they're at a playdate at the park, and a fly - just a regular old housefly - lands on Junior's lip. And Junior ends up with an abscess on his lip the size of Kansas. Why? Because for all of her desire to keep the tyke safe and protected, all she did was leave him unprepared for a world that doesn't smell like Lysol.

On men having babies

Okay, so I'd be horribly remiss if I didn't stop in to visit two of our favorite Atlantans, Shaunti Feldhahn and Diane Glass, also known as the AJC's Woman to Woman team. The girls are discussing a fairly timely question: Should fathers be held financially responsible for children born without their consent?

I hate to say it, guys, but, shyeah.

And yeah, I've heard the reasoning, which, on the surface, makes sense. Shaunti's case, as well as that of a lot of MRAs (Men's Rights Advocates) and even otherwise-reasonable people, is that men can't control whether or not a woman has a baby. Women, however, can do that. The right to have an abortion gives women the opportunity to decide, in given circumstances, whether or not to have the kid, and thus if the babydaddy doesn't want to support the kid, she can decide not to have a baby she'll have to raise by herself.

The problem with that argument is that men can't get pregnant.

When I was in college, I didn't have the right to demand a Braille note-taker from the University. Doesn't that suck? All of these other kids could have one; they made the announcement at the beginning of class and everything: if you're blind and need someone to take notes and transcribe them into Braille, the university could provide. Ohhhh, but not for me. If you can see (assuming you don't have some other kind of diability, like a learning disability, which also warrants a note-taker from UGA), you have to take notes your own self. Lazy blind punks.

You might ask yourself what the hell blindness and Braille note-takers have to do with men's rights, and that's fine, because only in my convoluted mind is such a connection readily apparent. But here 'tis: A man doesn't have the right to have an abortion, because men don't get pregnant.

An abortion terminates not a child, but a pregnancy. Now, of course, a side effect of the pregnancy's termination is that the fetus involved doesn't make it to babyhood, but no-baby isn't the purpose of the abortion. No-pregnancy is the purpose of the abortion. If all a woman wanted to do was not have a baby, she could simply give birth and put the baby up for adoption.

And that's where men's rights come in, because while a man can't be pregnant, he can be a father. The vast majority, if not all, pregnancies result from the union of a man and a woman in one way or another, and once that baby has been produced, both father and mother have a right to decide how the kid is raised. In most states, the decision to put a baby up for adoption has to be a unanimous one, agreed to by both parents, and several high-profile adoptions have gone pear-shaped when an absent sperm donor turned up and decided he wanted the kid after all. Issues of consent and support come up only at that point, and not before. Diane mentions a case where a father (unsuccessfully, which I think is a pity) argued that the woman who stole his sperm and purposely impregnated herself without his knowledge should not have a right to child support, and that, I think, is worthy of reconsideration as a seminal (if I may) case on this subject.

What a man can't do is decide what goes on in a woman's body, regardless of whether that body is harboring his sperm. A man can't force a woman's hips to spread. He can't force her hormones to race, her breasts to swell, her feet to swell, her back to ache, her moods to swing, or her vagina to express a watermelon. Those are all things that only a woman experiences during the length of her pregnancy, and her partner/husband/boyfriend/sperm donor can't make the decision for her to keep experiencing them or stop doing it. Only when a woman has made the decision to carry a pregnancy to term does a man's right to keep or not keep his child come into play.

So men, when you're able to carry a baby, carry away. When your girlfriend/wife/woman/what-have-you decides that she doesn't want to be pregnant anymore, and you valiantly take over incubation of the fetus, you can decide whether or not the little peanut becomes a big peanut. But until reproductive technology gets that far, you don't get to make decisions until the sucker's out. And for God's sake, keep it zipped.

On losing my sense of humor

Okay, so yet another Marine has managed to shoot his compatriots in the foot - figuratively, at least. The story breaks in the wake of investigation into the deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha, although the video in question was made a month before the Haditha incident took place. Still, the viral distribution of the "Hadji Girl" video only makes the Pentagon's job more difficult as they try to assure America that Marines in Iraq are able to maintain compassion and respect for the Iraqi people throughout their long deployments, and that killing two dozen civilians in the heat of anger isn't something they'd do.

The video (available here, along with coverage of the Marine's apology) shows 23-year-old Cpl. Joshua Belile playing the guitar and singing to a laughing and cheering crowd. It's kind of a pity, really, because Belile's voice has a lot of quality to it and the tune is fairly catchy. The lyrics, however, leave something to be desired:
“I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally. . .I blew those little f**kers to eternity. . .They should have known they were f**king with the Marines.”

Sick, sick, sick bastard.

I in no way mean to imply that this is the attitude of all Marines in Iraq, or even most Marines in Iraq, or even many Marines in Iraq (note: the Pentagon's response to the incident says that "the video is not reflective of the tremendous sacrifices and dedication demonstrated, on a daily basis, by tens of thousands of Marines who have assisted the Iraqi people in gaining their freedom,” and I couldn't agree more). I know a few Marines, and none of them would ever consider doing the things described in the song. But the fact is, a lot of them would laugh at it, and not just at the funny-'cause-they-aren't-PC parts. When Belile describes pulling the "Hadji Girl's" younger sister in front of him and watching the blood spurt from her head wound, his audience laughs and cheers, and call me stodgy, but that shit just ain't funny.

Right now, the position of most of the country (somewhere around 62 percent, last I read, but don't quote me on it) is that things in Iraq aren't going well, that going in was a mistake, but that we need to fix what's going on. The idea is that we're trying to do good for the people of Iraq, trying to bring democracy and restore infrastructure and give rights to people who didn't have them. But we're not going to be able to do that successfully if we don't have respect for them; we can't teach them to respect themselves if we're joking about blowing them up - and laughing when other people do it.

If the subject of Joshua Belile's song had been a black American woman, and he'd sung about using her little sister as a human shield, America would be up in arms; we recognize, whether because of the Civil Rights movement or sensitivity training or just because we know in our hearts that human beings are human beings and deserve respect, that that sort of thing is wrong and bad and not a joking matter. But when it's a brown person overseas, it's a different matter. These people, the ones we've been sent to help, the ones for whom so many of our troops have lost their lives, are less than human, are just objects, are largely without inherent value, and if we save three and execute one, we're still ahead by points, right?

Yeah, I know it's just a song. Yeah, I know that, as Cpl. Belile said, it was supposed to be a joke. But it wasn't a funny one, and it seemed more like one of those not-joke jokes that are more revealing than anything else. Investigating the killings in Haditha and making sure they don't happen again is important; also imporant is impressing on the troops the idea that that sort of thing isn't a joke, not the kind of thing that should be taken lightly. Belile said, "I think it’s a joke, and anybody who tries to take it seriously knows it’s a joke. People can’t just laugh at it and let it go.” I'm sure he'll quickly learn that some things, you just don't joke about.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On the way things are

Okay, so some of you may have noticed that I've been posting less frequently (and those of you who haven't noticed, shame on you!). You may think that this is because I've just stopped caring, and, to some extent, you'd be right.

So here's the deal: I was recently given the option of strangling my editor with a lamp cord, rolling her body up in an area rug, duct taping the whole thing and pitching it into the woods somewhere just off of I-85. I instead chose option (b), in which I quit my job and strike out on my own as a freelancer. I've had more success at this than I expected, seeing as how my expectations involved a sleeping bag under the overpass at the Grady Curve, but, to quote Angelina Jolie in Gone in Sixty Seconds, I've discovered that you have to work twice as hard when it's honest.

And that's basically what I've been up to, and the combined jobs of doing work and looking for work leave little time for hittin' the blogs. But rest assured that I'm still trying to do it all; that I do care deeply about, like, political stuff, when I actually have the opportunity to know about it; and that my opinions tend to be unresearched and pulled-from-my-ass enough that my lack of time shouldn't really affect the quality of my work.

If I've missed something that you think I shouldn't miss, let me know. And if you know of anyone in need of a marginally talented and occasionally reliable freelance writer, sure as hell let me know. And if you know of anyone, particularly a rich and elderly anyone, looking for a trophy wife to coddle, spoil and endow with an endless supply of shoes... Well, you get the idea.