Friday, May 25, 2012

On the Good, the Bad, and the Friday Random Ten: Final frontier edition

Okay, so I was really sad to see the space shuttle program go. I know NASA has its reasons for backing off of manned space flight, but for me--a child of the 80s--that's just what the space program is about. Huge, powerful telescopes and rovers on Mars are super cool, and I get a thrill every time astronomers report the discovery of a new celestial structure, but space exploration has to involve people in jumpsuits doing slow backflips in outer space and eating pudding out of midair while talking to second-graders live via video feed. I wanted to be Sally Ride.

That's why the science-fiction-y concept of commercial space flight is such a thrill to me--even if the government doesn't feel compelled to put humans back into space, private companies (hopefully) will be able to pick up the slack in terms of discovery and general childlike wonder. And this morning, I got to watch via live feed as the SpaceX capsule Dragon docked with the International Space Station. The Boy and I both remember the thrill of watching rocket launches when we were little, and we were sitting rapt the entire time as the docking happened in real time, right in front of us. It made me hopeful for the the future, and not a lot of things really do that a lot.

What's good (for the week ending 5/25):

- The Replacements. I'd spent enough time quoting this movie that I finally managed to convince The Boy to sit down and watch it, even though he doesn't care about football or Keanu Reeves. But of course he loved it, and now when I say, "Get the ball! Get the ball! I'm comin' for ya, blue eyes!" he laughs because he knows what I'm talking about, not because I seem slightly unstable and it's best to humor me.

- Google Chrome

- Otis Redding

- Kayaking. I'd never done it before, but The Boy bought a kayak, because it was half-off, and who can resist a half-price kayak? and I thought it would be fun to try. Dude. That's the most intense upper-body workout known to man, and it's transportation, and it puts you right next to the water on a hot day.

- Nutrisse Nourishing Color Foam in Light Intense Auburn

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On fifty shades of lame

MOM AND DAD: I'm a virgin, The Boy and I haven't gotten past second base, and I'll probably never have sex because it's totally gross and icky. Maybe you go read another post now. Look, this one has kittens!

EVERYONE ELSE: Mom, Dad, I told you to go read the kitten post.

EVERYONE ELSE FOR REAL: This review almost certainly isn’t safe for work. The novel might be. Ho hum...

Okay, so despite (or perhaps because of) the frenzy surrounding Twilight, I resisted picking it up and struggling through it until I was informed that it might help me better understand true love. Now, no one has tried to imply that I don't understand true kink (thank God), but since the newest suburban-mommy literary craze--alleged kinkfest Fifty Shades of Grey--is receiving those same kinds of accolades, I thought it might be time to update my education. And what better way to do that than with a book that is not just inspired by Twilight fanfiction but directly adapted from it in a search-and-replace kind of way? Fifty Shades of Grey, by British author E.L. James, started out as “Master of the Universe,” by fanfictioner Snowqueens Icedragon. Ctrl+F, and Bella Swan turns into innocent virgin Anastasia Steele; Ctrl+F, and Edward Cullen turns into powerful and enigmatic business magnate Christian Grey. The couple that taught me so much about love between a 107-year-old bloodsucker and the high-school student he stalks and longs to murder can now teach me the joys of a good spanking.

(I actually thought I knew the joys of a good spanking, but then, I thought I knew about true love, so maybe I've just been kidding myself all this time.)

For the record, I have no problem with fanfiction. (I mean, hi, y'all.) There are actually some fairly well-written ones out there. This is… not one of those. The prose is repetitive, florid, and boring. Removed from its source material, the novel is staffed with underdeveloped, one-note characters without history or motivation (not that the ciphers and caricatures of Twilight were that much better). The twentysomethings talk like teenagers. Christian talks like my grandfather. Hispanic Jacob-analog Jose talks like Dora the Explorer ("Dios mio!"). The exposition seems written for the sole purpose of reminding us that Christian is dark! and Ana is innocent! while shuttling us along to the next sexy part. It's a fic about Bella and Edward getting kinky, and so that's what the novel is about and the only thing the novel about. The story arc goes from "Hey, wanna let me whip you?" to “Okay.” to "No, too much whipping! (runs for the door)" over the course of 26 chapters.

And who struggled through it anyway, for you? Who’s sparing you the time and heartache? Who loves you? That’s right.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On my mom

Okay, so it wouldn't be right to let Mother's Day pass without a tribute to the unequivocal and objectively best mom of all: mine. I'm sorry that none of you have a mom as cool as mine; you can take comfort in the fact that, since my mom is the best of all possible moms, that means that your mom can certainly be awesome even if she can't compare to the awesomeness of my mom.

All joking aside, though, Mama ACG is an incredible human being. She gives a great example of how to live as a person--she's kind, smart, generous, funny, kind of bitchy sometimes, easy to talk to, and fun to be around, but all in an attainable way. She's compassionate and sweet, but not in a way that makes you feel like you can't be yourself around her. She's mastered the maternal art of laughing at something inappropriate you just did while simultaneously shaking her head disapprovingly. She doesn't make you feel ashamed because she's a nicer or more charitable person than you--she inspires you to want to be like her. When I was little, she was the kind of mom a kid needs; when I was a teenager, she was the kind of guiding hand and sympathetic voice a teenager needs and occasionally the jailer a teenager deserves; and as I've grown into a woman, she's become my best friend. I'm indescribably blessed.

So. Some time ago, possibly the summer before my junior year of college, the family took a trip down to Seagrove Beach. With me nearing the end of college and Big Bro already out on his own, we wanted to get in a family beach vacation while we still had the chance. Mom and I headed down first, with Big Bro and Dad to follow the next day. Somewhere near the Florida state line, we passed a roadside stand advertising bonsai trees for $10 each. Mom and I decided that $10 was an absolute steal for a bonsai tree and that we'd have to be sure to pick some up on the way home. Then Mom said, "You know, we're going to be riding with Dad on the way home. He's going to think it's silly, and he won't want to stop." I agreed, and she pulled a Rockford Files u-turn in the middle of the highway, and we went back and bought our $10 bonsai trees and brought them to the condo with us. I eventually managed to kill mine, but I think hers might still be alive.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, but especially to mine. I love you, Mom.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

On inviting Thai sex works to come to Daddy

Okay, so courtesy of perennial Practically Harmless favorite JBF comes a video that will make your entire day feel creepy. This is the story of eleven young women from the U.S.--almost exclusively white--who went to Thailand to save the "bar girls" to Jesus. "We found that we were the perfect ones to fight for them," say the title cards. "Because we used to be women in chains… Just like them."

This is then illustrated by a series of "testimonies," written in Sharpie on cardboard, squicktacularly set to the contemporary Christian song "When I'm With My Daddy."


Just like a woman willingly or unwillingly providing sexual services in Phuket's red-light district, their "chains" include masturbation, not fitting in a magazine, and perfectionism. "I stopped touching my neener through the grace of Jesus Christ--and so can you."
I had sex ... Now I'm pure 
I struggle with masturbation ... No condemnation for those who are in Christ 
Felt like I was supposed to fit in a magazine ... Now I fit perfectly in His arms 
I labeled myself as an adulteress at 17 years old ... Daddy called me his bride

[Cross-posted at Feministe]