Monday, June 27, 2011

Breaking Up With Potatoes

The incredible shrinking typist of Roxie's World was disappointed but not surprised to read the news last week from a Harvard School of Public Health study suggesting that what you eat matters as much as how much you eat when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight over the long haul. That concern looms large for Moose as she gets close to the magical moment in her Lifestyle Adjustment Program when she shifts her focus from trying to take off weight to trying to keep it off. Forever. (For those of you who have been following the progress of our very own Biggest Loser, Moose has dropped 43 pounds since January. Of 2011. Yes, she is proud. And feeling really, really good.)

Anyhoo, the Harvard study analyzed "data collected over 20 years from more than 120,000 U.S. men and women in their 30s, 40s and 50s" and came to the conclusion that the mantra Moose has been repeating to herself over and over for the past five and a half months -- Eat less, move more, and you will lose weight -- is kinda true but also kinda simplistic. Yes, calories are important, so paying attention to how many you consume and how many you burn still matters. The study shows, however, that "some foods clearly cause people to put on more weight than others, perhaps because of their chemical makeup and how our bodies process them."

“All foods are not equal, and just eating in moderation is not enough," said Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study published in last week's’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The leading culprit among foods in terms of the slow, incremental weight gains that so often add up to middle-aged girth? Poor Mr. Potato, of course. Rob Stein explains the sad news in his report on the study in WaPo:
Every additional serving of potatoes people added to their regular diet each day made them gain about a pound over four years. It was no surprise that french fries and potato chips are especially fattening. But the study found that even mashed, baked or boiled potatoes were unexpectedly plumping, perhaps because of their effect on the hormone insulin.
Stein's next paragraph focuses on the better news from the study about particular foods that seem to help keep weight off, should that happen to be your goal:
[W]hile it was no shock that every added serving of fruits and vegetables prevented between a quarter- and a half-pound gain, other foods were strikingly good at helping people stay slim. Every extra serving of nuts, for example, prevented more than a half-pound of weight gain. And perhaps the biggest surprise was yogurt, every serving of which kept off nearly a pound over four years.
Moose's first reaction to the study was to get a little wistful about her lifelong relationship with the lowly, lovely spud. Oh, potatoes, she might have said, if she were in the habit of speaking to vegetables, which, we are pleased to report, she is not, I love you so, from the bottom of my German-American heart. I remember every french fry I ate with every single Big Boy sandwich of my misspent Midwestern youth. I remember every barrel of Charles Chips I ever curled up with in front of the TV for long hours of Dark Shadows and The Secret Storm. I remember every hour I spent in the kitchen with my mother, grating piles of you to be turned into hash browns, nestled on a plate next to giant sausages. You were the faithful companions of my peripatetic childhood, the ones who whispered in my ear that food was my friend and overeating my birthright as a middle-class American kid. You were the cheap staple of grad-school vegetarianism, and later, the glorious gratin dauphinois the lord clearly meant to accompany Julia Child's beef bourguignon. Oh, potatoes, I can't even say that I wish I could quit you. It appears, however, that I should.

Her second reaction was to look around the kitchen and get a grip, realizing she had already quit potatoes, mostly, months ago, and was getting along quite well without them. Oh, nuts! Oh, yogurt! Oh, couscous! she rhapsodized. You are my new best friends, and you are better to me than potatoes ever were. With you I feel light and strong and full of energy. I have no cravings, no hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. As dog is my witness, with your help, I swear, I'll never eat potatoes again!

Well, it's possible she didn't entirely have her grip, but you know how Moose is. In any case, kids, the results of the Harvard study are worth pondering, even if you aren't prepared to go all nutri-Nazi in an effort to reach or maintain a healthy weight. The study's release follows by just a couple of weeks the launch of the USDA's latest effort to encourage healthier eating, the MyPlate campaign, which replaces the dopey food pyramid that no one ever understood or used. A WaPo story on the MyPlate rollout is here. A nice history of government nutrition guidelines, first issued in 1916, is here.

It's interesting to note that one of the government's earliest food-related initiatives was the Clean Plate Club, launched in 1917 to encourage citizens not to waste food due to limited supply during World War I. The Clean Plate Club was terminated after the war but was restarted in 1947, when food was again scarce at the end of the Depression and World War II. Moose swears there was a Clean Plate Club in her elementary school in the mid-60s in southern Indiana and blames it entirely for her inability to leave a morsel of food on her plate, ever. Goose says there was no such program in her school -- and feels no compunction at all about leaving the table with half a meal left on her plate, which may or may not prove Moose's point. Note, too, on the poster for the Clean Plate Club anchored to this paragraph that potatoes are prominent on the list of foods citizens are encouraged to eat more of as part of the war effort. Moose insists that potato-eating was still considered patriotic in southern Indiana in the 60s. Goose cannot explain why Texas appears not to have been on board with the program.

Consider this an open invitation to share stories about food, family, ideology, and your own adventures in embodiment. Was there a Clean Plate Club in your school growing up? Do you have vivid memories of being kept at the table until you had consumed everything on your plate? Have you broken up with potatoes -- or made peace with them or some other food you have loved too much? Do you think the Tea Party will manage to demonize as yet another nanny-government overreach that interferes with Americans' god-given right to have fries with that, dagnabbit? Is this blog successfully avoiding fat-shaming as we search for ways to write about these issues? We sincerely hope so, but let us know what you think.

Have at it, darlings. My skinny-a$$ed typist has to get up off it and go for a little run. Peace out, and have a healthy tomorrow. ;-)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Progressive Versus Fauxgressive

WaPo editorial on last night's passage of marriage equality in the Republican-controlled New York Senate nicely clarifies the distinction between a progressive Democrat (NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo) and a fauxgressive Democrat (MD Gov. Martin "You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy" O'Malley). Cuomo, according to the Post, fought hard for the bill, which makes civil marriage equality the law of six states and more than doubles the number of citizens who live in states that offer it: "[Cuomo] used the bully pulpit to garner public support around the state. He backed that up by using the power and prestige of the governor’s office behind the scenes. Cuomo was personally involved in securing votes until the very end."

Cuomo's high-profile activism on the issue and the legislative outcome are pretty much the opposite of what we saw in Maryland a few months ago when a marriage equality bill was up for a vote. Democrats here in the Free State control the House and Senate and occupy the governor's mansion. The Post explains how little that proved to matter for the state's LGBT citizens this spring:
The history made in New York stands in stark contrast to the disappointment in Maryland last March, when a similar effort failed. After passing the state Senate, a marriage-equality bill was referred back to committee in the House of Delegates after lawmakers who had supported the bill backed down in the face of opposition. Among those reneging on their commitment were Del. Tiffany T. Alston (D-Prince George’s) and Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County), who got elected campaigning on the issue. For his part, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) supported the marriage-equality bill. He even lobbied some legislators behind the scenes. But as we learned in New York, legislation of this significance needs more than rhetorical hand-holding by the governor. It needs determined leadership.
Rhetorical hand-holding versus determined leadership, platitudes versus action, bull$hit versus the bully pulpit, losing versus winning: Yep, that sums up the difference between the fauxgressive and the progressive Democrat about as well as anything we've seen. We wish we could believe that You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy would aspire to be the latter rather than the former as he moves forward in his promising political career, but we're not holding our breath waiting for the tiger to change his stripes. O'Malley, we have learned, is less of a tiger than a pretty but ineffective kitty cat when it comes to tough fights on hot-button issues.

Thank you, Gov. Cuomo, for showing how it's done, and congratulations, New York, for bending the arc of the moral/legal universe a little further in the direction of justice here in the Weirdly Divided States of America. We heart you today and always.

(Photo Credits: Top: Nathaniel Brooks for the New York Times [via]; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs same-sex marriage bill late last night in Albany. Bottom: via; Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley looks up, in hope, perhaps, of finding his missing courage.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Celebrating Our Sister Bloggers

If my typist had the tech skill required to create speech balloons, there'd be one above this photo that said,

Having a swell time in Northampton -- Wish you were here!

(Photo Credit: Willa Cather Archive [Image Gallery]; Louise Pound and Willa Cather at the University of Nebraska, 1890s.)

Pardon the radio silence, kids. The moms have been away at Cather Camp for the past several days, making their debut as co-authors and collaborators with a paradigm-shifting (that's academic-speak for, No one in the audience audibly snored) plenary address called "Cather, Dickinson, and Sexuality." The conference was focused on novelist Willa Cather's roots in and connections to the nineteenth century (she was born in 1873), so Moose seized the opportunity to get Goose to pay her back for delivering a paper at last year's Emily Dickinson shindig in Oxford. They did indeed have a swell time hanging out with old and new friends on the bucolic campus of Smith College, which is as crawling with fiercely adorable young dykes as their fevered, middle-aged imaginations had hoped it would be. Moose used the photo above of Cather and her college crush Louise Pound to illustrate a point about how different literary history would look if women's affective and creative relationships were brought into the picture. (Goose had a similar Dickinson image, but we are not at liberty to show that to you yet -- Stay tuned!)

Anyhoo, while Roxie's World was as deserted as the executive suite at Gingrich campaign headquarters, some of our very favorite blog pals were hard at work, making news and waves and paradigm-shifting announcements of their own. We'll toot their horns as a way of getting back to regular programming. Go read 'em, and tell 'em Roxie sent ya.
  • Tenured Radical announced on Wednesday that she's pulling up her virtual stakes and moving to the big stage of The Chronicle of Higher Education. We couldn't be happier for TR and look forward to seeing her wise-cracking, professionally savvy self shaking up and queering up the sometimes stodgy Chron. We are also crossing paws, fingers, and a variety of other appendages in hopes that her great and powerful blogroll will migrate with her, on account of we totally heart the hits we get by way of her influential sidebar. Love you, TR. Need you. Mean it.
  • Meanwhile, in today's New York Times, our favorite queer legal eagle Katherine Franke, who runs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia (and its blog) has an op-ed bravely arguing that marriage will be a mixed blessing for same-sex couples if it means losing some of the rights that have been gained for unmarried domestic partners and effectively forcing "people to marry — whether they be gay or straight — to have their committed relationships recognized and valued." It's a great piece and a timely one, as New York seems poised to become the sixth state in the nation to offer civil marriage to same-sex couples. Of course, as we learned in Maryland recently, there is a world of political difference and distance between being poised to become and actually being a state that offers complete marriage equality. We look forward to seeing what happens in Albany, but in the meantime we recommend reading Franke's op-ed as a way of saying, again, Be careful what you wish for, darlings. I mean, yes, equality is swell -- but compulsory marriage? Uh, not so swell, if you ask us. And you should.
  • Finally, speaking of surprising news of a queer sort, our beloved blog buddy Historiann, who recently publicly confessed to being a breeder, has now announced that she has gone gay! We are delighted, of course, to welcome her to the fold and the team. We even offered to declare her male husband an honorary lesbian so she could continue to keep company with him while pursuing her new lifestyle choice sense of queer alliance and comradeship. We always knew, girlfriend, and we are here to help. Now, tuck in that flannel shirt before we slide your pisco sour across the bar. We're running a classy joint here, you know! (Srsly, kids, go read that gone gay post. It's hilarious, but it and the comment thread that follows raise some great questions about identity and conversation online.)
Paws up to all of our wonderful sister bloggers and to you, our loyal readers, who have been so patient with our sporadic attention lately. It has been and will continue to be a busy summer, but we will do our best to keep you up to date on how the view looks from the ridiculously large backyard of Roxie's World. Peace out, and a sweet summer weekend to you and yours.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RIP Clarence Clemons

(Photo Credit: Scott Audette, Reuters [via])

Clarence Clemons, aka "the Big Man," incomparable saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has died from complications of a stroke he suffered last weekend. Here's how the news was announced in Jersey. And New York. And here's a statement Springsteen put up on his website:
Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band.
The E Street Band was, is, and ever shall be the official house band of Roxie's World. We are devastated. That is all. Except, of course, for this (a sublime Clemons sax solo starts at 4:20):

Peace out, darlings. And play on.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Truth in Blogging

For some reason I feel compelled to remind you today that I am not really a dead dog. You get that, don't you, intelligent reader that you are, but you click back in here regularly, perhaps because you are bored senseless in your cubicle and find some mild amusement in our quirky mix of commentary, sophomoric humor, and randomly appropriated images? You understand, though, that the "I" who speaks here is a Dickinsonian "supposed person" -- er, dead dog -- and not an actual one, right? (We will save for another day -- or blog -- the vexing question of whether any and every speaker is not in some sense a supposed rather than an actual person. That conundrum is way beyond my pay grade.)

Anyhoo, kids, just wanted to clear that up. Truths are being announced or exposed all over the blogosphere this week, and we didn't want anyone to think we were trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes. We take seriously our blogger's oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, with stretchers occasionally thrown in when the truth is insufficiently entertaining. We also have strong opinions on the matter of pseudonymity in blogging (enunciated here), and we don't blame readers for getting ticked off when some a$$hat abuses the venerable tradition of writing under a fake name, even if he thinks his cause justifies it. My typist taught Riverbend's Baghdad Burning, the book based on a pseudonymous blog produced in occupied Iraq, in her blogging class, as a way of exploring with students both the power and the ethical complexity of pseudonymity in online worlds. Bloggers and other users of social media are risking their (real) lives to tell the (true) story of events in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. For them, pseudonymity is an essential tool aimed at assuring their survival. It's disheartening, to say the least, to see some white straight American guy undermine all that brave work by deciding to pose as a gay Syrian woman as a way to bring attention to issues he felt strongly about. Oh, dude, you so went about it in the wrong way. And you so don't get the difference between an apology and a mansplanation.

So, anyway, as I was saying: I am not a dead dog -- or the living mother of a living child or a gay girl in Damascus. I am just a -- Oh, never mind, my darlings. That is all for now. Carry on.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Advice from the Big Dawg

(Image Credit: Jack Ohman, The Oregonian, 6/9/11)

No, darlings, there is nothing at all funny about the ridiculous case of the congressman lost in the Twitterverse, but my typist still chuckled over her WaPo this morning when she saw the above cartoon. The sexual/textual relations joke has been made before. If you google the phrase "I did not have textual relations with that woman," you get tons of hits related to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who had, among many other moral and legal impairments, a bit of a text-messaging problem. Anyhoo, we like the way the revision of Clinton's famous denial works in this instance, because the cartoon succinctly acknowledges Clinton as patron saint of the modern sex scandal, while marking the shift from what already feels like a remote universe in which what mattered was the biological evidence of sexual activity (the DNA left on Monica Lewinsky's blue dress) to the wacky world of Weiner-gate, in which fools are done in by the merely textual traces they leave of their junk. Have we reached the place where bodies matter only in that they are what we use to produce ourselves as texts -- images and films that we eagerly publish, apparently oblivious to the potential harm, to ourselves and others, that might result from doing so?

Not quite, my pretties. This dead dog is here to tell you that bodies still matter, which might help to explain why we can't let go of Bill Clinton. Love him or hate him, Clinton still reminds us of energies and appetites rooted in the body. They can get us into a world of trouble, those incorrigible desires, but they also make us look and feel and be alive. Clinton survived the humiliation of a politically motivated investigation of his sex life at least in part because, for all his denials and apologies, he never seemed ashamed of the deep passions that got him into such a mess. We loved him for that, even if we deplored what his recklessness did to his wife and his presidency (and, believe me, we were furious with him over both of those things back in 1998). Whatever his failings, Clinton got through his ordeal by relying on a joie de vivre that fueled his determination to stay in office when everyone in Washington had declared him toast. We have a hunch that same joie helped repair the damage he had done to his marriage, though far be it from us to speculate as to why or how Bill and Hill have stuck it out together when so. many. other. political. couples. have fallen apart.

We can't let go of Bill Clinton because we don't want to. Thirteen years after he wagged his finger at us and insisted he hadn't done anything "inappropriate" with Monica Lewinsky, we still need his passion, his resilience, his heart, his Aw, shucks, babe, it's good to be a little bad from time to time, isn't it? spirit. That's why he finds his way into every story about a politician with a self-inflicted junk problem. Clinton owns that story, and we are all still reading it, with bated breath, waiting to see how it ends.

Disclaimer: This post in no way condones or promotes infidelity, meanness, or the photographing of one's private parts. Srsly. Swear to dog. No junk photos, please. Why? We'll let Gina Barreca explain.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sated in San Fran

Being a culinary followup to yesterday's post on the Moms' just concluded trip to one of the finest cities on dog's earth. Because even the most committed Lifestyle Adjusters dine in style when they spend time in the food-fabulous town formerly known as Yerba Buena

The Plan: Eat, drink, and bond for four nights and three days while exploring San Francisco without the monumental distraction of a major professional obligation to get in the way of the fun.

The Players: Moose and Goose, plus the Sister, Brother, and Sister-in-Law of the Goosians.

Base Camp for the Adventure: Hotel Monaco on Geary Street, which we would recommend even if it didn't welcome dogs, but it does! Plus: Free coffee and tea every morning and a wine reception every evening! Oh, and a goldfish in your room if you selfishly left your dog at home but still want to have a pet around!

Where We Ate: Boulevard, the Slanted Door, Poggio (Sausalito), Sears Fine Food (breakfasts), Sam's Grill, Barbara's Fishtrap (Half Moon Bay), Sutro's at the Cliff House.

Best Bites: Goose loved everything she put in her mouth, including the cute little Swedish pancakes from Sears, but she was especially impressed by the cellophane noodles with green onion and dungeness crab meat at the Slanted Door, duck breast roasted in pancetta at Boulevard, and the ahi tuna tartare at Cliff House. Moose was determined to enjoy food without seriously sabotaging five months of strenuous dietary discipline, so her choices were a little more restrained than Goose's (and she logged several miles on the treadmill at the hotel), but she ate well and felt good doing it. She loved the salad with grilled calamari she had at Poggio as well as the halibut with cilantro, lemongrass, and kaffir lime she had at the Slanted Door. Oh, and the salmon in whole-grain mustard sauce with celeriac puree at the Cliff House was pretty yummy, too.

Bottom line? We didn't have a bad meal the whole trip. Sam's Grill was underwhelming food-wise, but the great service and the stepping-into-olden-times vibe of the place made up for that disappointment.

Here are some photo highlights of the culinary part of the adventure:

Slanted Door: The aforementioned halibut is in the foreground (two orders); that's sauteed baby spinach and asparagus with king trumpet mushrooms in the background.

Barbara's Fishtrap: Dungeness crab louie salad tasted as fresh and wonderful as it looks.

Sutro's at the Cliff House: Ravioli with an arugula and walnut pesto that was good but not as great as the tuna tartare. We didn't have a chance to snap a shot of the tuna before an overly zealous waiter mixed all the artfully arranged ingredients together, so this will have to do.

Sutro's at the Cliff House: The dining room at sunset. Comradde PhysioProffe trashed the joint in a comment on the previous post, but we're thinking maybe he hasn't visited since a recent renovation. Try it again, my friend -- Looks great, tastes better! And if you dine on a Tuesday night, you can sip a fine bottle of wine for half off the usual price!

A good time was had by all, lovelies. We hope your summers are off to a similarly delicious start, whether you are combing a beach somewhere or shopping for your next girlfriend at the Mother of All History Conferences or toiling away in some dusty archive. Leave us a little postcard in comments to let us know what you've got planned for the sultry summer of 2011. The denizens of Roxie's World care deeply about everything that's on your plate, too. Bone appétit, my pretties.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Spotted in San Fran

In Which It is Learned that One of the World's Great Cities is Even Greater When There Aren't Ten Thousand English Profs Roaming Its Streets Searching for Free Drinks and Cheap Food Fabulous Enough to Merit a Facebook Status Gloat

Spot #1: On the top of Nob Hill, the last elegant woman in America sits on a park bench not worrying that something she posted on Twitter is going to get her in a boat load of trouble:

Spot #2: When dogs start running around the park unleashed and soaking wet, the last elegant woman in America makes a dignified exit and leans gently against a lamp post while waiting for a light to change. Perhaps she fondly recalls the (less elegant?) days when she worked this corner:

Spot #3: Why, look -- Someone has gotten the crazy idea that if you want support for public higher education you have to ask for it! Who'd a thunk it? Way to go, SFSU:

Spot #4: Oh, look, off in the distance, a pretty bridge! Neat, let's have dinner:

(Photo Credits: Moose, 6/5-7/11)

Sorry for the lack of commentary, kids, but the typist has a plane to catch. See you on the other side, darlings!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Dogs For Choice

Well, will wonders never cease? The new kid – the embodied dog of Roxie’s World – is ready to make her first political statement. Suffice it to say, I – the spirit dog of Roxie’s World – heartily approve Ms. Ruby’s message:

(Photo Credit: Moose, 6/3/11)

Of course dogs in general, being sensible, freedom-loving critters, are pro-choice, but sweet Ruby is, well, like a dog with a bone on this particular issue, having been forcibly bred lord knows how many times during the three years and two months of her life she spent in a Missouri puppy mill – Bow-schwitz, as Moose insists on calling it – before she came to live with the moms. She knows that no being can be called free if it lacks reproductive autonomy: the right to choose whether or not to have sex, bear offspring, and tend to those offspring as one’s own. What is the difference between Bow-schwitz and South Dakota or Georgia these days? Not much, Ms. Ruby declares.

Want to meet some other pro-choice dogs and a couple of anti-dog/pro-choice cats? Check out Dogs For Choice, which we stumbled upon by way of the critter-loving, gyno-affirming Melissa McEwan of Shakesville.

Have a lovely weekend, darlings, and, whether you’ve got two legs or four, we hope you will fight for reproductive choice – doggedly. Start by clicking here and giving the good folks at Planned Parenthood  a shekel or two. With all the woman-hating, sex-phobic dipsticks that have taken power in the states these days, Planned Parenthood could use all the love and money you can spare. Peace out.