Friday, December 28, 2007

Death of a Shero

(Photo Credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters; the coffin bearing Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 12/27/07)

Tragically, my friends, the Benazir Bhutto death watch, begun in Roxie's World when the former prime minister returned to her country in October despite threats to her life, ended Thursday with Bhutto's assassination in Pakistan. We mourn the loss of this brave woman and deplore the misguided policies of the United States that contributed so much to the instability in Pakistan. (For our previous commentary on Bhutto, click here, here, and here.)

NYT obit is here. Times slideshow of highlights of her life is here. Coverage of the assassination is here. And here is Bhutto in her own words, blogging this fall on Huff Po about her risky decision to return to Pakistan. Here is some of what she had to say then:
I long ago realized that my personal life was to be subjugated to my political responsibilities. When my democratically elected father, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was arrested in 1977 and subsequently murdered, the mantle of leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party, our nation's largest, nationwide grassroots political structure, was suddenly thrust upon me. It was not the life I planned, but it is the life I have. My husband and children accept and understand that my political responsibilities to the people of Pakistan come first, as painful as that personally is to all of us. I would like to be planning my son's move to his first year at college later this month, but instead I am planning my return to Pakistan and my party's parliamentary election campaign.

I didn't choose this life. It chose me.

Words fail us. Pray for peace, beloveds. And work like hell to make it happen.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stocking Stuffers

Goose wanted my legions of loyal fans, all of whom have been such good little boys, girls, and genderqueers this year, to have this holiday treat from the real king of (rock 'n roll) kings, Mr. Bruce Springsteen:

Moose wanted you all to see this editorial from the latest Nation, which opts to endorse not a presidential candidate but the idea "of a broadly based small-d democratic movement, as only such a movement can create the space necessary to realize this moment's full potential." The editorial offers a fairly even-handed assessment of the three leading Democratic candidates and acknowledges that Obama has been less innovative in his policy proposals and more centrist in his positions than progressives mights have hoped. Roxie's World is certainly on board with the idea of using the occasion of the election to build broad public support for transforming the country and moving in a more progressive direction.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion encourages you all to click over to BuzzFeed to see who's leading the list of best links on the subject of Oprah campaigning for Obama. You guessed it, kids -- It's your very own favorite dog blogger in the provocatively titled "Once You Go Black." Remember to click on the link to my post from BuzzFeed to help keep us in first place!

Last but not least, the obsessive close readers in the Department of Eye Candy insisted that we toss up this extraordinary photo (from NYT) of Bill and (we presume) Hill out on the campaign trail:

(Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images)

Ole Blue Eyes has just about mastered that adoring spousal gaze that is so essential to the role of First Lady, don't you think? If I didn't know better, I'd swear the guy was a puppy dog with those big beautiful eyes!

Happy Solstice, sweet children of the sun. On this day, Roxie's World remembers Moose's dad Frig, who loved the winter solstice because it meant that summer was on its way. He taught Moose that even on the coldest, darkest day of the year, you could close your eyes and feel the warmth of summer reaching toward you. Close your eyes, beloveds, and let yourself feel it now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Who Loves You?

We love you here in Roxie's World, and so, one week before Christmas, we have a little holiday treat for you that we sniffed out over at our new blog crush, Joe. My. God. Here's the most honest Republican campaign ad you will never see:

I dare my Auntie Faye to send this to her mom for Christmas! ;-)

Peace out, beloveds. Moose is on a grading binge.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"The Times Demand Results"

Des Moines Register endorses Clinton in Iowa caucuses! (Boston Globe endorses Obama. So what? Wa Po weighs the significance of the endorsements.)

(Photo Credit: Jim Cole, Associated Press; Senator Hillary Clinton campaigning in Manchester, NH)

Acknowledging the strength of the Democratic field and the enormous potential of chief rival Senator Barack Obama, the editorial board of the Des Moines Register today endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in terms that should thrill her campaign and may persuade a few hearty voters to lace up their ice skates and turn out for her on caucus night. Here is some of what the influential paper had to say:
The choice, then, comes down to preparedness: Who is best prepared to confront the enormous challenges the nation faces — from ending the Iraq war to shoring up America’s middle class to confronting global climate change?

The job requires a president who not only understands the changes needed to move the country forward but also possesses the discipline and skill to navigate the reality of the resistant Washington power structure to get things done.

That candidate is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

From working for children’s rights as a young lawyer, to meeting with leaders around the world as first lady, to emerging as an effective legislator in her service as a senator, every stage of her life has prepared her for the presidency.
The endorsement goes on to map out the professional and life experiences that have prepared her for the presidency and to praise Clinton for her toughness and her ability to learn from her mistakes. "Tested by rough politics and personal trials, she’s demonstrated strength, resolve and resilience," it admiringly notes. The endorsement acknowledges that some voters have found Clinton less inspiring than Obama and admits that he more than she inspired the board's imaginations. "But it was Clinton," the editorial concludes, "who inspired our confidence. Each time we met, she impressed us with her knowledge and her competence."
The times demand results. We believe as president she’ll do what she’s always done in her life: Throw herself into the job and work hard. We believe Hillary Rodham Clinton can do great things for our country.
The board's framing of its choice between a leader who inspires the imagination and a leader who inspires confidence reminds me in some ways of the choice my moms faced a few years back when they were picking an architect to re-design our house. After careful research and several months of dithering, they had narrowed the field down to two talented yet totally different guys. The first guy was a fancy fellow whose name you might recognize who came to their first meeting with his latest coffee-table book and seemed ready to start tearing down walls before he had even said hello. "If you want to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs," he declared to a quizzical Moose. He took phone calls in the middle of the meeting but enchanted the moms with fantastic visions of the postmodern wonder he could make out of our humble little red brick cape cod. The other guy, by contrast, rode up to our house on his bicycle, came in, and sat quietly at the dining room table while the moms struggled to put their dreams for the house into words. He listened intently, asked numerous questions, and nodded thoughtfully as Moose stumbled from one architectural tag cloud to another: "Um, you know, arts and crafts, um, Frank Lloyd Wright, um, Sarah Susanka. Eclectic, really. We're pretty eclectic."

As they wrestled with the final decision, the moms went to a party and Moose found herself explaining their dilemma this way: "Coffee-table book guy, well, he's like poetry, you know, and bicycle guy is like prose. Coffee-table book guy sweeps you off your feet, makes you feel all tingly and nuts, but bicycle guy is the one you end up marrying. For something like this, though, shouldn't we go with poetry rather than prose?" A wise friend with a knack for cutting to the chase looked Moose right in the eye and said simply, "Prose doesn't have to be boring." Moose looked back at her in amazement and suddenly recalled that she had devoted much of her career to the study of prose she found to be anything but boring. Indeed, she uses words like "luminous," "soaring," "gorgeous," and "delicious" to describe the prose she likes best. She reads it aloud to her students and goes weak in the knees at a particularly fine turn of phrase or a metaphor that surprises and delights.

Long story short, the moms hired bicycle guy and worked with him for a year and a half in a satisfying creative and professional partnership that resulted in their vague dreams being beautifully realized. They wake up every morning in a house that shelters their bodies and feeds their souls. One of the best decisions they ever made was to go with the low-key guy who inspired confidence, listened closely, and worked tirelessly with and for them to achieve the desired results.

As it is in the building of houses, so may it be in the leading of a nation. Who is best equipped not only to make us dream but to do the hard work of making dreams real? Is it the guy whose every word is a poem or the prosy woman who has never walked away from a fight -- for kids, for health care, for her marriage, for accountability in government? In 18 days, voters will finally start weighing in on that decision. Roxie's World gives a PAWS UP to the Des Moines Register for effectively framing the choice and for coming down on what we see as the best side. Fasten your seat belts, though, kids. Democracy's a-comin'!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Once You Go Black

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Cole; Senator Barack Obama and wife Michelle campaigning with talk-show host Oprah Winfrey in Manchester, NH, 12/9/07)

(Post Title Credit: Robert Reid-Pharr)

How did you survive Oprahpalooza? Moose got through the avalanche of pretty pictures and the orgy of second-coming press coverage by toying with a theory about how the Oprah card might play in election '08. Before I divulge the theory, though, I will remind you that Roxie's World has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton, but we bear no ill will toward the handsome junior senator from Illinois. We just think the next president of the United States ought to have a little more than a learner's permit before being handed the keys to the car of state. Oh, and we think Obama is far more centrist than his swooning progressive fans seem to think he is. Don't believe an old dog with a leaky heart and a Hillary widget on her blog? Check out Paul Krugman's recent critiques of Obama's health-care plan (here and here) and his naive position on Social Security (here). If your holiday shopping is finished and your grades have been posted, run on over to see Digby's thoughtful response to the Obama campaign's overheated response to Krugman's fairly mild criticisms. (That's here.) We heart Digby a little bit more every day, by the way. We think she's doing some incredibly thoughtful stuff on the presidential campaign.

Anyway: Moose's theory. Playing the Oprah card is a high-risk strategy for both Oprah and Obama. For her, it risks alienating broad swaths of fans who have accepted her enormous cultural authority and influence because they perceived it as largely nonpolitical. Oprah got them to read challenging books -- Toni Morrison's Paradise, for heaven's sake! -- but she has never challenged her viewers to do much more than feel good about themselves. By taking a partisan position and actively campaigning for a candidate, she makes herself vulnerable to discovering that influence is not the same as power and that her audiences care less about what she thinks than about how she makes them feel -- about themselves, not about the world. The truth is Roxie's World gives Oprah props for taking those risks, though we got over her billionaire-girlfriend-next-door shtick way in the last millennium.

The risks for Obama in playing the Oprah card are arguably even greater and harder to predict. He could win big if her influence actually affects voters' behavior, which celebrity influence usually does not. The strategy could backfire, though, if voters come to feel that the substance of Obama's campaign -- which is already on the thin side in this blog's opinion -- is being overwhelmed by Hollywood style and spectacle. Whites are comfortable with African Americans as entertainers and athletes, but it remains to be seen whether they would vote for an African-American candidate who is short on policy experience and long on showmanship.

Even harder to gauge is how voters will respond to what can only be described as Oprah's blackening effect on Obama, an effect that is partly visual and partly rhetorical. Obama has always presented himself not so much as a race man but as a multiracial man, as someone who, because of his mixed heritage, is uniquely qualified to close the nation's racial divide. He has faced skepticism in the African-American community for not looking or acting "black enough," while whites have seen him as black enough to make them feel good about their open-mindedness but not black enough to make them feel threatened. (I realize we are trafficking in crude generalizations here, but we are trying to make a point. Direct all complaints to Moose, though -- It's her theory.) Those gorgeous tableaux of the Obamas on stage with Oprah, though, are striking in part because they make the candidate seem "blacker" by placing him in a racial context that is, for viewers of the presidential campaign, unusual. We are accustomed to seeing Obama on stage with the other Democratic candidates, where he looks comfortable, handsome, and just about white. Standing next to Michelle and Oprah, he looks comfortable, handsome, and a whole lot blacker than you thought (or imagined) he was. At the same time, in her speeches at the rallies, Oprah further "blackened" Obama by promoting him as a civil-rights politician (which he has never been) by invoking Martin Luther King and speaking in a churchy cadence clearly aimed at black voters. Watch and listen (though you'll probably want to skip the weird message at the end from a group called Christ for Barack Obama. Or maybe not.):

The risks here are multiple. Some voters will see this positioning as disingenuous and at odds with the centrist, beyond-race politics they thought Obama represented. They'll see it as pandering to black voters and therefore the basest kind of "politics as usual." Others will be threatened by it, suddenly finding Obama's politics a little too black or radical for their comfort. Roxie's World doesn't endorse any of these readings (well, okay, maybe we'll stand by the disingenuous part). We're just saying that playing the Oprah card is as risky for Obama as playing the gender card or the Bill card is supposed to be for Hillary. We might want the campaign to be a vigorous debate of issues, policies, and positions, but we can't deny that subtle subjective perceptions are going to matter even more than usual in an election that offers voters the first credible non-white, non-male candidates battling for the highest office in the land. In politics as in poker, you play the cards you're dealt, but you gotta remember that once they're on the table you can't pick them back up.

For a no-holds-barred critique of the Oprah-Obama alliance from an African-American perspective, see this hard-hitting piece by Bruce Dixon in Black Agenda Report.

For a thoughtful discussion of idealism and pragmatism and how those terms apply to Clinton and Obama, see this piece by Sean Wilentz on Huff Po. It's nice to see that bastion of Hillary hatred putting up something positive about the poor girl. We're as idealistic as you can get here in Roxie's World, kids, but we have a healthy respect for pragmatism, too. When push comes to shove, we like actually getting things done.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Randomly Scented

(Photo Credit: My Aunt Isa)

On the grayest December Sunday in the history of low-hanging clouds, Roxie's World is so quiet you can hear the trains on the tracks a mile or so from our house. The moms are mellow from a weekend of holiday fun that isn't over yet -- Moose still has a fundraiser to attend tonight before the Non-Lady Terps' ACC opener against Boston College. (Goose is staying home to catch up on work before the last week of the semester hits.) We took a vote and decided we're way too sleepy to wrap our minds around the weighty subject of Congressional briefings on waterboarding or the astonishing news that Oprah has voted for as many Republicans as Democrats. Instead, we'll pass along some links to stories you might have overlooked in the course of your own holiday revels. Pause for a moment in the midst of the madness for some pointing, clicking, reflecting, and possibly some head-banging over the state of the silly world.

Wa Po launches a series of stories on the leading presidential candidates with a long piece on Hillary Clinton (by sports writer Sally Jenkins) called "Growing Up Rodham." It focuses on the influence of her formidable conservative father, Hugh Rodham, and the softening counterbalance supplied by her mother, Dorothy. The Clintonistas interviewed for the story seem to have decided to use it as the occasion for proving that Clinton is genetically wired for the middle of the road. Her lifelong friend Betsy Ebeling says Clinton is "triangulated" in her very fabric, a condition she vaguely attributes to "that Midwestern thing, cheesy or all-encompassing as that sounds." Jenkins also cites a story Clinton's mother told biographer Gail Sheehy about having taught her daughter how to read a carpenter's level:
"Imagine having this carpenter's level inside you," she said. "You try to keep that bubble in the center. Sometimes it will go way up there," she tilted the level. "And then you have to bring it back."
The resident Midwesterner in our house said she felt a little burning in the back of her throat when she read these treacly paeans to post-war heartland values. She, too, was raised by small-C Midwestern conservatives. She emerged from the experience with a firm conviction that the middle of the road is where animals get killed, though she also escaped with a mighty fine recipe for cheesed olives. She is willing to share that recipe with the Clinton campaign in an effort to lure the hungry housewives of Iowa out on caucus night.

Speaking of women looming large in the public eye, Wa Po ran a piece earlier this week on one of the major deities here in Roxie's World, Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, who, as we have previously noted, is pregnant with twins and coaching a team that has a serious shot at winning Frese's second national championship. It's a great story, though the b-ball fans here in the home office are nervous as heck about how the coach, her mostly new staff, and her incredibly devoted team will handle the multiple stresses as the season and Frese's pregnancy advance.

Here's a funny (as in interesting) story on blogging in Japan you probably overlooked in the course of your busy week. According to Technorati, Japanese-language blog postings slightly outnumber English-language blog postings, though English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers 5-1. The story also explores the significant differences of style and tone between Japanese and American blogs. No snarkiness, please, we're Japanese:

Blogging in Japan, though, is a far tamer beast than in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world. Japan's conformist culture has embraced a technology that Americans often use for abrasive self-promotion and refashioned it as a soothingly nonconfrontational medium for getting along.

Bloggers here shy away from politics and barbed language. They rarely trumpet their expertise. While Americans blog to stand out, the Japanese do it to fit in, blogging about small stuff: cats and flowers, bicycles and breakfast, gadgets and TV stars. Compared with Americans, they write at less length, they write anonymously, and they write a whole lot more often.

Finally, an occasional reader from New Jersey put us on the scent of this NYT story about Dogster, the social networking site for dogs. (It's here.) No, your favorite dog blogger does not have a page on Dogster, yet, though some of my canine blogging pals do. We'll look into that when the grades are in and the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care.

Oh, and a parting shot and one last lick for Ripley, a feisty little Cairn terrier who commented here occasionally. Ripley's human companions are the fabulous DC BasketCases. They pass along the sad news that Ripley "crossed over the Rainbow Bridge" earlier this week. Our condolences to Eileen and Judith. And safe travels to Ripley, wherever the bridge takes you.

Peace out, kids. Go find something you love and snuggle it. Trust me, you'll feel better.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Braver One?

(Photo Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images; Jodie Foster at the Women in Entertainment Breakfast, 12/4/07)

Hot News from the Tinsel Town office of Roxie's World (with a big PAWS UP to qta for calling this to our attention): Has actress Jodie Foster decided it's time to open up the door of her crystal closet? Has the two-time Academy Award winner been lurking in Roxie's World and taken to heart our open letter urging her to stop being so darn coy about her sexuality? Could be, kids, it just could be!

The Scoop: Foster accepted the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award on Tuesday at the 16th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast. (I bet the men get dinners, don't you? With, like, hot hors d'oeuvres and cocktails and everything? Did the women even get valet parking?) (Greg Hernandez's LA Daily News report on the event is here. Many photos of the event are here. Film clip here.) Foster gave a sweet if hard to believe acceptance speech in which she professed to be clueless and weak:
I don't feel very powerful. I feel fragile . . . unsure, struggling to figure it all out, trying to get there even though I'm not sure where there is . . . I've been working in this business for 42 years and there's no way you can do that and not be as nutty as a fruitcake.
"Oh, yeah," Moose muttered from the couch when she read that. "I'm full of self-doubt, too, sweetheart, and I don't rake in $10-12 million per project. Let me tell you about feeling fragile." "Moose," I said, "that isn't the point." "Oh, right. But, Rox, according to After Ellen, she also said she felt like 'something of an impostor.' Don't you just hate that kind of public self-deprecation from powerful women?" "Please, Moose, if we edited all the self-deprecation out of your daily speech, the transcripts would be blank." "I think you're the one who's off-point now, Rox."

On the other hand, Foster also described herself as a "professional" and a "gentleman," a curious bit of gender-bending that Roxie's World's Special Task Force on Butch-Femme Secret Codes and Signals is struggling to decipher at this very moment. Most importantly, though, near the end of her remarks, Foster finally paid public tribute to Cydney Bernard, the woman widely reported to be her life partner. (Foster's two children are named Kit Bernard Foster and Charles Bernard Foster.) Prominent among those Foster thanked in her speech was
my beautiful Cydney who sticks with me through all the rotten and the bliss.
"I like that," Moose said. "Me, too," I replied. "Why do you like it?" "Well," she said, "you know -- that's what sharing daily life with someone is all about: a certain amount of rotten and a certain amount of bliss. You slug through it or soar through it day by day until the days turn into years and the years slowly add up, and if you're lucky or stubborn or foolish enough, someday you'll find yourself standing up in public and feel moved to thank your beautiful Cydney or Goose or Tammy or whomever just for hanging in there with you through every single bit of it." "And is that as good as coming out?" "Silly dog," Moose said, with a scratch behind my ears, "that is coming out, and you know it."

Welcome to daylight, Ms. Foster. We're glad to have you with us.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sex Pervs for Hillary!

That post title ought to boost us up in the search engines, dontcha think, kids? Of course, it might also jeopardize our status as Unofficial Dog Blogger to the Hillary Clinton Campaign, but what the heck. Here in Roxie's World, we're fighting off the post-turkey, pre-Santa doldrums. Moose wanders the halls muttering about how fat she is. Goose keeps threatening to declare e-mail bankruptcy and delete her in-box. I wake up periodically to eat or get my hair done, but mostly I curl my creaky old bones into a ball and nap, figuring I'll just sleep through the whole cycle of Obama is surging / Hillary is stumbling news stories.

That cycle may have been broken by the bizarre hostage-taking incident that occurred yesterday at Senator Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, NH. The astonishing fact that something actually happened in the course of a presidential campaign woke the press from its holiday nap and gave the Clinton campaign a chance to show the candidate doing a full Rudy by shifting into crisis management and response mode. The golden girl took full advantage of the opportunity, as this MSNBC video shows:

Clinton: 'Relieved' no one got hurt
Clinton: 'Relieved' no one got hurt

David Paul Kuhn in The Politico gives Clinton and her team a thumbs-up for their handling of the incident. As events were unfolding, the moms and I briefly imagined that Clinton would don a flak jacket and, with a gun-toting Jodie Foster at her side, storm the building and free the hostages herself, but having her look calmly presidential while expressing maternal concern for the young campaign workers was probably a better, though vastly less entertaining, way to respond to the situation. (Note to the political division of Roxie's World: Please add Jodie Foster to Clinton Fantasy Cabinet. She'll be the director of Homeland Security, which will have to be given some fancy, possibly French, name that sounds a good deal less creepy than "Homeland Security.")

Back to my provocative post title: Another bit of good news for the Clinton campaign came yesterday in the release of a Hunter College poll showing the senator has the support of 63% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual voters likely to vote in Democratic primaries. Pretty boys Barack Obama and John Edwards earned the support of just 22% and 7%, respectively, of those polled, which either means a disproportionate number of lesbians responded or -- and our money's on this explanation -- that gay men are trending in the same direction as the Candy Man and QTA, Roxie's World's co-chairs of the Pretty Boys for Hillary Caucus. The poll shows that 72% of LGB (no T's in the survey, alas) voters consider Senator Clinton a supporter of gay rights, "with Senator Obama at 52 percent and former Senator Edwards at 41 percent. On the Republican side, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at 37 percent, followed by Senator John McCain at 13 percent."
These findings suggest opportunities. Clinton benefits from a high turnout in this very Democratic bloc; her opponents would benefit from making their stated support for gay rights more visible to LGB voters,” said Murray Edelman, a distinguished scholar at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute and one of the study’s investigators.
Memo to the Clinton campaign: Don't waste one minute worrying about Oprah's decision to campaign for Obama. You've already got yourself a gay general. The photo at the top of this post suggests you're on friendly terms with Elton John. I can loan you a queer English prof or three for the duration of the campaign. I'm thinking that with a couple more appearances on Ellen, an Indigo Girls concert or two, and perhaps some timely references to relationship equality and Project Runway, you will sew up the gay vote and with it the nomination. Here's a tip, Hill: Queers may be the new Christians. The Hudson poll suggests that gay voters are more interested in politics and more likely to have contacted a government official in the last 12 months than the general population. After seven years of an administration willing to traffic in homophobia in order to swing elections, gay voters will be strongly motivated to vote for a change in direction. Present yourself, proudly and without apology, as the change gay voters want to see, and we will carry you right to the White House, where, I promise, you'll be met by a team of burly dykes ready to unpack your boxes and a team of pretty guys ready to pull off the grandest makeover this country has ever seen.

Let's go, girl!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sweeter Than Pie

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

The Department of Eye Candy insisted we pass along this exceptional photo of Maryland guard Marissa Coleman, known in Roxie's World as Shoulders, for reasons this picture makes obvious, in action late Friday night against UC Santa Barbara. Shoulders scored a career-high 30 points and saved the game for the turkey-stuffed Terrapins, who opened up an early lead but found themselves down by 3 points in the second half to a team they had beaten by 61 points last year. You read that right: 61 points! Coach Brenda Frese, who is pregnant with twins, didn't make the trip to Santa Barbara on the advice of her doctor. (Report on the game is here.) The Terps kept their composure in the last few minutes, though, and won the game on free throws and without the help of forward Crystal Langhorne, who is still out with a sprained ankle.

Here are some early-season predictions from Roxie's World: The Mighty Women of Maryland have shaken off the doubts that plagued them last season, as they tried to figure out what to do after winning a national championship as a young team. They are having a blast on the court, and they will go far this year, even if they have to deliver Coach B's twins themselves at mid-court during a time out in the middle of an ACC tournament game. (Frese is due in early March.) Shoulders will be the strong, calm leader of the team, even after Langhorne returns and re-asserts her dominance under the basket. When that happens, these women will be unbeatable. Oh, wait -- With a 7-0 record, it appears they already are unbeatable!

Pull the red tee-shirts out of the drawers, kids -- It's college basketball season. Roxie's World will root first and always for the Lady and non-Lady Terps of Maryland, but we'll keep an eye on the Scarlet Women of Rutgers as well to see what coach C. Vivian Stringer and captain Essence Carson will do this year after their amazing journey to the championship game last year (and the bizarre Don Imus debacle that followed it). Oh, and if you're looking for another reason to be thrilled that the Maryland women beat LSU last weekend, look at the way the hiring of Van Chancellor to replace Pokey Chatman, who resigned in the wake of allegations of "improper sexual relationships with former players," is being presented by LSU:
Chancellor’s credentials aside, the hiring of a man added to growing concerns among some administrators over the declining number of women in college coaching. On the other hand, the hiring of a man allowed L.S.U. to avoid and eliminate the stereotype of lesbian coaches as sexual predators.

The Lady Tigers have signed seven high school recruits and a junior college player for the 2008-9 season, a group generally rated among the nation’s top three recruiting classes.

“We didn’t dwell on the past,” Chancellor said of recruiting. “We told them what my wife and I stood for, that we believe in equal opportunity and a great education and that you could come here and feel comfortable.”

(That's from a New York Times story on LSU's post-Pokey re-building. Emphasis added to indicate places in the story that made us put our paws on our head and cry.)

Um, okay, I suppose it's a safe bet that if you hire a man to coach a women's basketball team he won't be a lesbian sexual predator. Maybe he'll just be the more typical HETEROSEXUAL MALE sexual predator. Probably not, though, with that WIFE right next to him to certify what he stands for. We all know what a reliable barometer of sexual probity that is, don't we?

Eight months after her resignation, Roxie's World is still waiting to hear Pokey Chatman's side of the LSU story. The Times notes that Chatman reached a $160,000 settlement with LSU and is currently serving as an assistant coach for a professional team in Moscow. Carla Berry, the assistant coach who made the accusations against Chatman, has since left coaching.

Hold 'em high, Shoulders. We need your pride, your strength, and your incredible muscle definition. And LSU needs to pause and consider whether it can compete at the highest level if its communication strategy makes lesbian athletes and coaches feel they are not welcome in the program.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Garden State Gratitude

The moms and I have hit the road for this Thanksgiving. Here is our collaboratively generated list of things we are thankful for this holiday season, produced in the Freehold, NJ offices of RW Enterprises, LLC.

Roxie’s World
is thankful that. . . .

George Bush has only 424 days left in office, which means Darth Cheney has only 424 days left to run the country.

The United States Bridge Federation has dropped its effort to punish six members of the women’s championship bridge team for holding up a sign that said “We did not vote for Bush” during an awards ceremony last month in Shanghai. Paws up for free speech!

On the Internets nobody knows you’ve lost your hearing and are so stiff in the joints that you can’t jump up on the couch anymore. You are always a spry young pup racing through the ridiculously large backyard in leaps and bounds.

Maureen Dowd only publishes two columns a week, which means she only has two opportunities to subject us to attacks on Hillary Clinton that are shallower and nastier every time she sits down at her computer. Memo to Mo Do: Have two slices of pie today, and look up the word "dynasty" in the dictionary. Trust us, you will not see a picture of the Clinton or Rodham families there.

Our beloved Lady Terps look so happy and fluid and fierce on the court this season that they seem prepared and determined to win another national title, even if they have to deliver Coach B’s babies at halftime.

Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire fame) returns to series television with a new Fox series called Dollhouse starring Eliza Dushku. This item is on the list because we are spending Thanksgiving with old friends in New Jersey whom we’ll call June Star and the Man Formerly Known as Michael. June Star is a major Buffy fan and a backstage consultant to the creative team here in Roxie’s World.

Showtime’s Weeds has for the most part continued not to suck as it moves through its third season. We haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, but we’re happy that Nancy and Conrad have consummated their smoldering desire for one another and that the show has shifted back to a comic mode focused more on its wonderful characters rather than a melodramatic one focused on the seamy underside of the drug world.

Alberto Gonzalez is out of a job and Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his extraordinary work raising the world’s consciousness about the threat of global climate change.

The situation in Iraq has shown signs of marginal improvement, but the country’s political apparatus still seems paralyzed and the U.S. seems clueless about how to leave, why to stay, and what to do to move the political process ahead.

Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is still, incredibly, alive and mobilizing for parliamentary elections in January. Roxie’s World continues to pray fervently for the health and well-being of this exceptionally attractive world leader.

The field of Republican presidential candidates, even without Darth Cheney, is so scary and unattractive that Democrats could, as Moose is fond of saying, run, um, poop on toast and likely come away with a victory.

On the other hand, the field of Democratic candidates is strong and appealing. My progressive pals need to remember that as the race heats up and the mud starts flying as candidates try to distinguish themselves from one another. Don’t forget, kids: We are the good guys – and gals – so let’s try not to stage a ritual disembowelment of our potential nominees.

Last but never least, we are thankful for our legions of loyal fans, who have played along with us this year here in the happiest little corner of the blogosphere. We are grateful to you for your devotion, your laughter, your input, and your love. Wherever you are today, may your feast be sumptuous and your journeys safe. Wherever you go, you are never far from Roxie’s World. Peace out and joy to you all, beloveds.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roxie's Watching: Trans Films

First off a big thanks and a face lick to Queering the Apparatus for twisting our paws and insisting that Roxie’s World be a part of its very first queer film blog-a-thon. We are delighted to be included in the festivities. We’d also like to extend a hearty welcome to new visitors to Roxie’s World who came here by way of the blog-a-thon. We are America’s favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. When we host our first blog-a-thon, it will probably focus on Canine Stars of Stage and Screen – Asta! Lassie! Pongo! Toto! Snoopy! Eddie! – but for this shindig we’ll rely on the expertise of Moose, one of my two moms and an English prof who happens to be teaching a course on trans lit this semester. She’s doing a number of films in the class, so I’ll play the silent Siskel to her chatty Ebert as she takes us on a guided tour of some recent trans films. Take it away, Moose!

Thanks, Roxie, and thanks again to qta for inviting us to the party. Being an English prof, I should first explain my use of the term “trans film.” The broadness is purposeful. I’m using it to refer to films that focus on characters who exhibit a range of variations from conventional gender identities and expressions. I’m interested in stories that run the gamut from gender-queerness (drag queens and kings, butches and nellies) to transsexualism involving chemical and/or surgical modification of the body.

If we limit our discussion to films of the last ten years – which puts Belgian director Alain Berliner’s poignant story of a beautiful, resourceful boy-girl, Ma vie en rose (1997), at the head of the line I am drawing -- two things immediately stand out. One is that we’re seeing a lot more trans characters, and two is that we’re seeing such characters depicted with greater nuance and performing a much wider variety of narrative roles than we saw in the past. We’ve come a long way from the bad old days when trans characters in film were viewed almost exclusively through the frames of camp or pathology. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) are fun and fabulous films, but their marvelous accessories do not include a lot of emotional depth or complexity. Dressed to Kill (1980) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) are gripping films, but both feature trans characters who are serial killers. Films are under no obligation to offer “positive” images of members of any minority community. Nonetheless, Roxie’s World says paws up to the spate of trans films in the past decade that avoid or demolish stereotypes and depict complex trans characters in richly woven stories. Even the campiest of the recent films, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), a wild homage to 80s glam rock and the song stylings of Toni Tennille and Anne Murray, tells a trans story as a way of raising serious questions about where gender “lives” – i.e., in the body, the mind, or a social/political world as divided into “male” and “female” as the Berlin of Hedwig’s childhood was divided into “east” and “west.”

To what do we owe the new variety and sensitivity of trans representations in film? Much of the credit has to go to a vocal, visible trans community that has protested the narrow and often damaging terms of previous representations and raised awareness about transphobic violence. In the U.S., the brutal murders of Brandon Teena (in 1993) and Matthew Shepard (in 1998) sparked a movement to expand federal hate-crime laws to include crimes motivated by bias against a person’s perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Both of those murders also became the subjects of films and/or plays that were both critically and popularly acclaimed. For the purposes of this discussion, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry (1999) is the most important of those projects because it offered a sustained example of what queer theorist Judith Halberstam has termed the “transgender look” in a film that reached mainstream audiences and earned Hollywood approval in the form of a Best Actress Oscar for Hilary Swank, who played the role of Brandon Teena. Halberstam’s concept, which explores a dynamic of looking with transgender characters rather than at them, is crucial to understanding the politics of representation shaping many more recent trans films. Boys Don’t Cry depicts a trans character as the victim rather than the agent of horrific violence, but even more importantly, in Halberstam’s account, in key moments the film shows shots from Brandon’s point of view that confirm his masculinity and give viewers access to an alternative vision of time, space, and bodies that survives the character’s physical death.

Documentary films have been powerful vehicles for bringing viewers “inside” trans experiences by allowing the subjects of the films to tell their stories in their own voices and from their points of view. Sundance Channels’s 8-part series on four transsexual college students, TransGeneration (2005), is a significant achievement in this regard, as it follows four protagonists (two born-male, two born-female, of varied race/ethnic and class backgrounds) on their journey through gender identity and higher ed. The audience readily feels for protagonists who are so young, in some ways so uncertain and in others so fierce, so impressively determined to fight for their dignity. They offer eloquent testimony to the violences of compulsory, binary gendering, but in their resilience and their mostly satisfying outcomes they demonstrate that resistance is not futile. Other powerful trans documentaries include Gabrielle Baur’s exploration of the world of drag kings, Venus Boyz (2002), and Kate Davis’s recording of the last year in the life of female-to-male transsexual dying of ovarian cancer, Southern Comfort (2001).

We’ll end this brief tour of recent trans films with Duncan Tucker’s Transamerica (2005), a feature film that starred Felicity Huffman as a pre-op male-to-female transsexual who learns she has a son a week before she is scheduled to have sex-reassignment surgery. Though in some ways undeniably sentimental, as Mod Fab points out today, Transamerica can also be viewed as a comedic/utopian exploration of trans possibilities. Tucker’s use of the road trip as a narrative framework and his panoramic cinematography evoke the grand American traditions of road films, Westerns, buddy films, and outlaw flicks. Those evocations also remind us that the road can easily become a landscape of profound threat for certain kinds of outlaws – Thelma and Louise as well as Brandon Teena come quickly to mind. Transamerica consciously echoes both Thelma and Louise and Boys Don’t Cry, yet it lovingly delivers its pretty-in-pink protagonist from murder or a fateful plunge off the edge of the world. Bree Osbourne survives her road trip. She reaches home in time for her surgery and thus reaches what she sees as the home of her proper gender. At the same time, as the final credits roll, Dolly Parton’s Oscar-nominated song “Travelin’ Thru” moves away from the comforts of home in offering a rollicking celebration of flux, mobility, drift, and uncertainty. “Well I can’t tell you where I’m going, I’m not sure of where I’ve been,” the voice declares, “But I know I must keep travelin’ till my road comes to an end.” She calls upon the lord for protection and direction, but you get the sense that the speaker is delighted to be in transit, intoxicated by the possibilities of “travelin’ thru.” The journey itself is the destination, which seems as good a “place” as any to conclude this mini-survey of trans films.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bitches, Unite!

Why is Roxie's World issuing a clarion call for bitches to unite? (Don't feel left out of the call, fellas -- Some of the biggest bitches I know are boys. You know who you are, and you know how much I love you and your raging bitchiness.) Moose is back on duty in the red chair and has been gathering the evidence for this Thursday night theme party. Just to prove she hasn't gone rusty in the research department, she tracked down an embeddable version of the John McCain campaign event in South Carolina on Monday in which a female supporter asked, "How do we beat the bitch?" Now you can watch it without leaving the happy confines of Roxie's World:

Don't you just love how Republicans go about the sacred task of restoring honor and dignity to the White House? Don't you admire the steadfastness of their commitments to country-club fashion hits of the 1970s? I mean, someone needs to stand by ponytails, scarves, and gold hoop earrings, don't you agree? Not to mention tans in November and bottle-blond hair. Aren't we glad Republicans will fight to the death to defend those? You tell me what you think of McCain's response to the question. By my bleary old eyes, he pauses with what might generously be described as a pained expression on his face (but doesn't McCain always have a pained expression on his face?) before joining in the laughter and then declaring it an "excellent question." He then cites polling data suggesting he is best positioned to "beat the bitch" before offering a perfunctory declaration of respect for Senator Clinton. His campaign has disingenuously claimed he "first responded" by stating his respect for the senator, as pointed out yesterday in Talking Points Memo.

Even New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, a bitch-hating bitch if ever there was one, seems a little put out with the War on Bitches this week. Her Wednesday column ran under the plaintive headline, "Should Hillary Pretend to Be a Flight Attendant?" Mo Do is upset with a spate of new studies suggesting that bias against intelligent, ambitious women is alive and well, both in the world of hetero dating as well as in the work place. Turns out the moms' moms were right when they told their daughters boys would be scared off by girls who came across as "too" smart or ambitious. (The moms' moms neglected to mention that at least some girls find smart girls a turn-on, but, lucky for me, they managed to figure that out by themselves.) Not surprisingly, the unreflective single gal Mo Do doesn't seem to have noticed that her own relentless and catty attacks on Clinton are part of the problem she laments, but, hey, maybe she'll figure it out over the next lonely Cosmopolitan she sips while watching reruns of Sex and the City.

Next, we turn to global uber-bitch, Benazir Bhutto, who was released today from her second house arrest since returning home to Pakistan last month. (Memo to John McCain: If you can't beat the bitch, arrest her ass!) The Bhutto Death Watch continues here in Roxie's World, though we know y'all know that means we are just in awe of this bitch's bravery. Bhutto had an Op-Ed piece in Wa Po yesterday calling on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to resign.

Finally, we call upon the mighty bitches of Roxie's World to respond to an outrage against bitch power that is roiling the world of . . . competitive bridge.

(Photo Credit:

These four bitchin' babes -- Jill Levin, Jill Meyers, Debbie Rosenberg and Irina Levitina -- represented the United States in the world bridge championships last month in Shanghai. Click on the image so you can read the little sign Rosenberg is holding up declaring, "We did not vote for Bush." The sign has provoked an absolute kerfuffle in bridge circles. (I know, I know, kids -- You didn't know there were bridge circles, did you, and that they were as politically charged as the more rarefied circles you travel in at, say, your gym?) The Times reports the sordid details of the drama here. The women face the prospect of a yearlong ban from competition for their protest, which they insist was spontaneous and aimed at expressing solidarity with international friends in the competition who had raised questions about U.S. policies and actions. We're pleased to report that the French team has expressed support for the Americans in fine bitch fashion. According to the Times, the French sent an e-mail to the federation's board and others saying:
By trying to address these issues in a nonviolent, nonthreatening and lighthearted manner . . . you were doing only what women of the world have always tried to do when opposing the folly of men who have lost their perspective of reality.
To which Roxie's World can only reply: PAWS UP, and cut the cards. Wait -- Do they do that in bridge? Never mind, kids. The point stands: Bitches of all ages, sexes, and breeds are under assault. We've got to stick together to fight the meanies and the misogynists, the warmongers and the chick-haters. Are you with me, kids? Can we deal you in?

(Props to the blogosphere's original bitch, BitchPhd, whose post on the McCain event put us onto this theme.)

Still trying to wrap your mind around the saga of the Bridge Bitches? Keith Olbermann interviewed a couple of them on tonight's show. Vid is here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Call Me (at) Ishmael's

From the Department of Paranormal Communication
I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value -- certainly no large value . . . However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden.
-- Mark Twain's Autobiography
Mark Twain, director of the Office of Persona Management for Roxie’s World, is in a bar called Ishmael’s, around the corner from RW Enterprises, LLC global headquarters, eating fried mozzarella sticks and drinking whiskey in front of a large-screen TV. Twain has been despondent and drinking heavily for several days over concern that Moose’s recent lecture at Rutgers University on the subject of this blog and blogging generally would compromise the integrity of my persona as sole owner and proprietor of Roxie’s World. At my behest, Moose tracks him down at the bar for a talk.

Moose: Hey, Mark. How’s it going?

Mark: Oh, it’s you. Back from your little road show, are you?

Moose: Yeah. Hey, look, no hard feelings, eh? What do you say we get back to work? Roxie wants to get the whole creative team together to talk about next steps. How ‘bout having a cup of coffee, maybe some eggs, and heading back to the office with me?

Mark: I’m enjoying these fried cheese sticks, thank you. An amazing culinary feat, you know – We didn’t have these back in my day. We ate actual food then. But what do you mean by “next steps?” It’s hard to un-ring a bell, Moose. The damage you did in your lecture was incalculable, devastating. What are Roxie’s readers supposed to think when you stand up publicly and speak for Roxie’s World? That’s not what you’re supposed to do around here! You’re merely a typist, a researcher, a critic, for heaven’s sake, and you know my opinion of critics –

Moose: Yes, yes, I know, Mark – the most degraded of all trades – but that’s really all I was doing at Rutgers – speaking as a critic about the development of the persona, the growth of the audience, and the relationship between and among words, images, music, and video in Roxie’s World.

Mark: Images are very important, you know. My books were always so nicely illustrated.

Moose: Absolutely. That Edward Kemble fellow did some amazing work on Huck Finn – Such spare, simple drawings, yet so evocative, despite the unfortunate appeal to the race and gender stereotypes of the day.

Mark: The what? Oh, never mind. Bartender, I’ll have another whiskey and bring the lady – may I call you that? – bring the lady –

Moose: I’ll have an extremely dry martini, up, with olives, and another round of those mozzarella sticks. This may take awhile. As I was saying, Mark, I really don’t think my lecture should be any cause for concern. I devoted a whole section to your office and to the important work you do maintaining the integrity not only of the central persona but of all the identities in Roxie’s World. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we need you back in the office soon. We’ve got a problem with a persona we’ve come up with for a new reader. She has some ambivalence about it, and I think we may need to go back to the drawing board.

Mark: All due respect, Moose, but you are way out of your depth on this. You have no idea how essential persona integrity is to what we’re doing in Roxie’s World. It is everything, and I mean everything! If our readers should come to doubt their belief in Roxie, we are doomed. If they come to suspect that she is really you, next thing you know some nincompoop is writing a book called Was Roxie Gay? And then where are we? Up the Mississippi without a paddle, I tell you.

Moose: I really think you’re over-reacting, Mark. Our readers are more discerning than that. And you and Roxie and the creative team are better than that.

Mark: An author values a compliment even when it comes from a source of doubtful competency, but spare me the flattery, madame, and pass the marinara sauce. We have other problems arising from your lecture, you know. While you had your head in the clouds of meta-blogging, the world continued to spin on its axis, and Roxie’s World has fallen woefully far behind. (He glances toward the TV, which is playing images of chaos in the streets of Pakistan.) It’s high time we updated our Benazir Bhutto Death Watch, for example. They’ve got her under house arrest now, and Musharraf is insisting that the best way to defend democracy is to destroy it. I’m thinking that brave woman’s days may be numbered.

Moose: I know, and I’m sorry we haven’t been on the story. It’s perfect for us – a beautiful, intelligent woman with a voice like melted butter and the courage to face death to help save her country –

Mark: (With a sidewise glance at Moose) Melted butter? Guess I’m not the only one trapped by the race and gender stereotypes of my day, eh? In any case, we’ve also been ignoring the presidential race here in the U.S., where another beautiful, intelligent woman who hopes to save her country is getting heat from a couple of fellas who seem to think that one politician calling another politician “calculating” is likely to strike voters as something other than a pot calling a kettle black. Excuse me – Was that racist?

Moose: I don’t think so. Joe Klein has a wonderful piece on exactly that subject in the latest Time. He argues that what some call calculation, he would call principle and that Hillary Clinton and her husband have been pretty consistent over the years in being moderate problem-solvers, willing to make deals in order to “get stuff done,” as Bill Clinton puts it, for the American people. Klein insists that the senator has become a very effective campaigner who doesn’t come across as the robot a lot of the coverage tries to conjure up. John Dickerson also has a piece in Slate on Clinton’s appeal to women voters in Iowa. According to him, the more the male candidates go after Clinton, the more women voters gravitate toward her. You know, Mark, my theory is that every time some guy calls her “Hillary,” ten women voters swing her way.

Mark: Interesting theory, Moose. When you’re through pretending to be a writer, you might try pretending to be a political analyst. And do I need to point out that the college basketball season has started and your beloved Lady and non-Lady Terps are already back in action? Shoulders and her crew knocked off #6 Oklahoma the other night, and Shoulders was named the ACC’s first Player of the Week for the season – but did Roxie’s World have anything to say about it, though our good pals the BasketCases did?

Moose: I know, I know, Mark, I hear you. Look, I realize this lecture has been a big distraction for all of us, but the guys in Clicks and Eyeballs are pretty happy with the new readers we’ve picked up, and I swear we’re back to regular programming now. We need you back in the office, though. I’m really stuck on this persona management problem. I mean, what would you call a gregarious Victorianist who loves opera, hates New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, and deplores the fact that any expression of deep feeling is dismissed as “sentimental?” We tried “Anti-Mo Do,” but she feels it’s too limiting. I kind of like the Gregarious Victorianist, but I think we might come up with something even better with your help.

Mark: (With a sigh and picking up his coat) Moose, [you] must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes [you] as much as a week sometimes to make it up. Coffee to go, bartender. I’ve got work to do.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Garden State Update (Updated)

Newsflash: Moose turns world on with smile in blockbuster blog talk at Rutgers. Enthusiastic audience says, "She took a nothing day and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile". . . . Yesterday's horoscope for Aries affirmed in every detail. (See Thursday's post.) Roxie's World considers adding an official astrologist to growing list of official persons. . . .Mark Twain still drunk in seedy bar around the corner from RW Enterprises global headquarters, convinced that persona integrity has been severely compromised . . . .Rutgers English faculty vowing to become regular visitors to Roxie's World, planning series of meetings devoted to trying out new blog names for themselves.

One minor disappointment: In all the excitement, Moose deviated from her prepared text and neglected to thank Candy Man for his devoted attention to Roxie's World. Moose is planning to join Mark in the bar as soon as she and Goose get home this afternoon to drown her sorrows over this breach of etiquette. She hereby publicly and profusely thanks Candy Man for being a dog's best friend in cyberspace.

It was a great day, kids, and we're just as proud and happy as we can be. Paws up to Moose in her moment of triumph and a five-paw salute to Rutgers English for awesome publicity and extraordinary hospitality.

Update: Those of you who are dying for details of Moose's lecture should run over and check out our new best friend in the blogosphere, Manuel at A Blog Next Door. He has an amazingly detailed summary of the talk, with verbatim quotes of some of the funniest lines. He also says very nice things about Moose's first attempt to analyze what we've been up to here in Roxie's World. A big lick on the cheek and a hearty welcome to this brilliant new blogger!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Sound of Moose-ic

Through the miracle of Roxie-Cam (trademark: RW Enterprises, LLC), we can tell you that Moose spent part of the morning before her Very Big Lecture at Rutgers doing 3.5 miles on a hotel treadmill while listening to The Sound of Music on her iPod. As I have said many times, Moose is weird, but we'll let her do anything to psyche herself up. She was so buoyed up after hearing "I Have Confidence" that she played "The Lonely Goatherd" twice so that she could imagine all of the blog pals and friends and family members who have been so supportive of all the fun we've been having here in Roxie's World singing it along with her. She grinned and hummed and imagined a kickline of her favorite homosexuals (including, of course, QTA, Candy Man, and the Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World), a chorus of her actual and metaphorical sisters (including Big Sissy and Baby Sis, who, as we speak, is in rehearsals for a local production of The Sound of Music, as well, of course, as Goose, Rutgers Alumna, Dudley's Human, my Aunties Faye, Katie, and Isa, the Official Baby Butch of Roxie's World, and even the Shy One, provided we can coax her out onto the stage for a public singalong). She also imagined a bunch of my dog pals running across the stage for a chorus of barks during the big finish -- You know, "lady oh lady oh LAY!"

Moose also checked her and my horoscope for today. (We are both Aries.) It read, and I quote,
For Thursday, November 8 -Nothing can slow you down today -- your energy is booming and people are climbing all over each other to line up and see what you've got to offer! Ride this wave of good feeling with everything you've got -- and invite others to catch the killer surf with you. You will feed off the energy that an audience gives you, and you will savor the energy of the crowd. There is a real sense that anything is possible when a group of like-minded folks hang ten together.
It's like it was written right here in Roxie's World by our own team of tea-leaf readers and prognosticators, isn't it???

Okay, kids, it's almost showtime. We'll let you know how it goes. Meantime, here's a little video amusement to help focus your dreams and the good thoughts you are sending in Moose's direction.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Canine Cultural Studies

Welcome to Roxie's World, Zippy, where dogs have been publishing the results of their studies of humans since March, 2006! Sorry we don't have time for more detailed results today, but my typist is putting the finishing touches on the big lecture she's giving next week up at Rutgers. (Check out the incredibly snazzy publicity here. Make sure you click through Roxie's "Best in Show" for a selection of my most brilliant musings on a range of topics.)

The Office of Persona Management here in Roxie's World is pretty upset with Moose for stepping out from behind the curtain to talk about my blog, but she has promised to give me all the credit. Still, OPM director Mark Twain is drinking heavily in advance of the event and has threatened to resign if Moose in any way compromises the integrity of my happy little corner of the blogosphere. We love Mark, but he is a bit of a drama queen.

Okay, kids. Gotta run. Moose needs the computer back. Peace out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hillary's Bunions

If Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, it's safe to predict that every part of her body and most of her bodily functions will have undergone perversely fascinated scrutiny by a news media that operates 24/7 but apparently only thinks about the serious challenges facing the nation for an hour or so, say, every other Tuesday. Fortunately for Clinton, her poll numbers have moved steadily upward through the lunacies of the Cleavage Kerfuffle and Cackle-Gate (to which Roxie's World proudly contributed in defense of the candidate's hearty chuckle). Now that her lead in the polls and money is approaching the insurmountable point, news-starved reporters are finding their way back to the irresistible subject of Clinton's hair.

In fairness to Wa Po fashion/culture reporter Robin Givhan, whose article on Clinton's wearing a shirt with a V-shaped neckline on the floor of the senate officially launched the Cleavage Kerfuffle, the astonishingly vapid piece she published yesterday in the paper's "Style" section isn't, technically or primarily, devoted to Clinton's hair, but the cutesy headline on the story gestures in that direction: "Touching Up (And On) Feminist Roots." The point of the article appears to be to reflect upon how feminism has changed over the past several decades and how it is informing Clinton's campaign for the presidency. Givhan pursues the point through a strained comparison between Clinton's campaign and "WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution," the show at the National Museum of Women in the Arts that the moms and their friend the Shy One took in last Sunday. (I comment on the show in this post.) WACK!, which includes a number of women performance artists of the 1960s and 1970s who brought their bodies and sexualities into their work as a way of critiquing masculinist ways of seeing and depicting women, gives Givhan an excuse to mock that "old" work as "vulgar," "humorous," and "cliched," though she commends its feminism for having a bracing "clarity of purpose." Clinton, by contrast, represents for Givhan a feminism that "has become more nuanced, more reserved, more politically savvy, but also more painfully ambivalent." Givhan explains:
Clinton dwells on the uneasy relationship between making a historic statement for a group and being held captive by it. Of being proud of one's gender, but not wanting to dwell on it. Of savoring the pleasures of femininity -- ever-changing hairdos -- but not wanting others to be distracted by them.
On Givhan's planet, "the body has been, for the most part, banished from the cultural conversation" and "No one needs to spread her legs to make a political point." This, in her judgment, is a good thing, though she seems bothered by the supposed ambivalence of contemporary feminism, by its reduction, at least in the Clinton campaign, to jokes about weight and "bad hair days."

Robin, dear, we know you're a fashion writer who has probably, at best, only "dabbled in women's studies," as you put it in your article. We don't expect you to be strong in the kind of historical and structural analysis that would be necessary to explain that the Clinton campaign's careful tip-toeing through the minefield of gender politics is part of a broader cultural dynamic of ambivalence about women's power and female bodies in the public sphere. Breasts, hair, hips, that space between the legs no one needs to spread anymore to make a political point -- They are all relentlessly scrutinized (by people like you, in industries like yours) and severely judged (as when you wrote of Clinton's display of cleavage that it was "unnerving," because it came across as if "you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding -- being a voyeur"). Women's bodies have hardly been "banished from the cultural conversation." It's just a question of whether they are an audacious and liberating part of the conversation, as they were in those "old" works of feminist art you seem so eager to trivialize, or a half-buried yet compulsively reiterated subject that taps into deep-seated anxieties about sex, power, desire, and social change. You are a part of that conversation, and your ambivalence is every bit as palpable and problematic as Clinton's.

Meantime, here in Roxie's World, a planet populated by reasonable middle-aged women whose audacious bodies occasionally ache, we think about Clinton's long, hard days out on the campaign trail and worry about the one part of her anatomy that is not likely to garner significant media attention -- her feet. As she makes her way through the vast cornfields of Iowa and the snowy woods of New Hampshire, we hope she's wearing sensible shoes with good orthotics and that, at the end of the day, she's got someone to give her feet a thorough and vigorous massage. Really, Bill, it's the least you can do. Put the cigar down. Your hands have some serious work to perform.