Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MLA 2008

(Photo Credit: Moose; Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco, 12/30/08)

MLA Highlight Reel: The Good, the Bad, the Barfing

My typist has discovered that actually attending the MLA Convention leaves one precious little time for blogging about the convention. Apparently, being several states away and in a different academic field leaves one considerable time for blogging about the convention and rounding up other peoples' posting about the convention, so go visit our good friend Historiann, who has been doing an excellent job of proving that you don't have to go there to know there. (Click here, here, here, and here for reports and links.)

Meanwhile, here on the ground in San Francisco, the moms have enjoyed the usual mix of hard work, hob-nobbing, heavy drinking, and sleep deprivation that is the MLA. The fun has been a little more subdued this time around because Goose was hit by a nasty stomach bug that sidelined her for about 24 hours. It's hard to decide whether her most impressive accomplishment during the convention was tackling a terrified job candidate as she raced to a bathroom to barf and then returning to the lobby of the Hilton to schmooze as if nothing had happened or getting through two presentations on back-to-back sessions when she hadn't had a bite of food in two days. Or, wait, finding clever ways to use her new iPhone to promote her latest scholarly project. That Goose, she's a trooper and a marketing genius.

The professional highlight for Moose was having a front-row seat for the big smackdown between Stanley Fish and Judith Butler over Fish's provocative new book, Save the World on Your Own Time. (The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a report on the session, which also included Patricia Bizzell and Jonathan Culler, here.) Moose, being a keen observer of human behavior, was as fascinated by the spectacle of the session as by the substance of what anybody said, since what was said was a mostly unsurprising argument over what we mean by "the political" when we talk about politics in the classroom. For the record, Moose thinks Butler won that argument on points, because she thinks Fish, like most critics of political profs, sets up a straw man, some agenda-driven ideologue who uses the classroom as a space for recruitment to a cause. From her front-row seat, Moose had great fun watching the body language of the occasion. Fish and Butler sat next to each other on the dais -- the aging curmudgeon and the still youthful-looking theory diva. He looked out at the audience with bemusement as the other speakers took their politely delivered shots. She made occasional sidelong glances in his direction and looked out at the audience with a gaze that seemed serene or studiously non-reactive. Or both. Moose happened to be sitting with a friend who knows Butler, so when the session was over she was delighted to have a chance, at long last, to meet the Girl Who Upset the Apple Cart of Gender and discover that she is, in fact, an incredibly warm, down-to-earth person. How cool is that, kids?

The highlight for today is that the MLA is over and Goose woke up with some semblance of an appetite, declaring she wanted Corn Flakes for breakfast. As you may gather from the photo on this post, room service at the Mark Hopkins had only Rice Krispies to offer in the way of Cereals We Remember from Childhood and Long to Have When Our Tummies Are Recovering from Icky Disturbances, but she has eaten, and now it's time for the moms to hit the streets of one of the world's queerest, most fabulous cities. No, they can't get married, but they can sure as heck have some fun, and that's what they're going to do. Tomorrow: Off to the Sonoma Coast to ring in the new year on the mighty Pacific. Peace out.

PS: Blog pal Jon Swift has posted his round-up of Best Blog Posts of 2008 (Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves). Roxie's World is proud to have contributed to this venture, with our favorite political post of the year, "Hillary: A Valediction," which we wrote in early March when it appeared that Hillary Clinton might be driven from the primary race. We were wrong on the timing, but, we think, right on the emotional/political significance of Clinton's race for the White House. Head over to Modest Jon's blog and check out some of the self-selected greatest hits of the blogosphere for 2008. It's been one helluva year, and somebody somewhere was blogging every amazing moment of it. Don't miss a click.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

California Christmas

(Photo Credit: Courage Campaign)

Sorry to mess with your holiday buzz again, kids, but my typist stumbled across this community photo project aimed at putting faces on the 18,000 California couples who face the threat of forcible divorce as a result of Prop 8. Forcible divorce. Is it me, or does that phrase sound just a little Romanian to you, too? Click over to the Courage Campaign, and take a look at some of the families Ken Starr would like to de-legitimize. Just make sure you've got a hankie handy and maybe an extra shot of bourbon for your eggnog.

Happy Holidays from all of us in Roxie's World. Here's hoping that the sweet-faced kids gathered around your Christmas tree aren't worried that their families might get voted out of legal existence. Here's hoping that in the new year the next president of the United States will come to understand that a truly "fierce advocate" of LGBT equality would never demean that struggle by casually referring to it as one of several "certain social issues" upon which reasonable people will disagree. There is nothing reasonable about denying a class of citizens all of the rights and benefits of citizenship. We'll play the kid card on you, Mr. President-Elect. Look at the kids in this picture and try to imagine explaining to them why their mommies can't be married anymore. We'd like to hear you do that. Maybe you could bring Sasha along to help you find just the right words. Forcible divorce is not a very child-friendly expression, after all.

Hey, we're not the only grinch in the blogosphere. Tom Watson's got a little holiday pick-me-up called "George Bailey and the Darkness on the Edge of Town" that offers a grim reading of It's a Wonderful Life and its echoes in our own grim winter of economic discontent. He ends by channeling Bruce Springsteen in one of his gloomier moods, calling the Boss's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" (1978) "the Christmas carol I'm humming this week." Yikes, Tom. You need to drop by Ishmael's, the seedy yet cozy bar around the corner from the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, for some good company and a glass of something special. Maybe we could help lighten your mood. Or at least get you whistling one of Springsteen's happier tunes. "Out in the Street?"

May your days be happy and bright, my lovelies. Barring that, may the state at least not seek to intervene in your most intimate choices or take away rights it has given to you. The moms take off at the crack of dawn Saturday for the big gathering of English profs in San Francisco. Where, obviously, they will not have to waste time trying to decide whether to attend sessions or run off to the county clerk's office to get married. Lucky for you -- Instead of boring honeymoon stories, you'll get luscious SF photos, details of sybaritic meals, and the latest news on what's happening in queer studies and digital humanities. Oh, what fun!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Praise of Gus Van Sant

(Photo Credit: Found on imdb; provenance unknown. Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn on the set of Milk.)

Attention, Please:
First Guest Post EVER on Roxie's World!

Greetings, citizens of Roxie’s World. This is qta, and I am here, at special invitation from Roxie herself, to bring you the Queer of the Year for 2008 (Non-Grrl Division). The Candy Man will no doubt be disappointed that we did not choose out Australian Olympic diving gold medalist, Matthew Mitcham for this year’s honor. It was close, and we are certainly proud of Matthew for his triumph, his skill, his dexterity, his bravery, his physique, his tears of victory, and for having his mom and his boyfriend by his side as he gave interviews. But young Matthew will have to settle for silver in this category, because director Gus Van Sant is the Queer of the Year (Non-Grrl Division).

Gus Van Sant’s quest to bring the story of Harvey Milk to the big screen began in 1992, right after his breakthrough film, My Own Private Idaho (1991). It took him 16 years to bring the project to fruition. But those 16 years of waiting paid off enormously well in 2008. Van Sant is no novice when it comes to queer film. In addition to the above mentioned My Own Private Idaho, he also directed Mala Noche (1985), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), and Elephant (2003). But Milk (2008) may just be his greatest work.

This film could have gone so wrong in so many ways. It could have fallen into the standard biopic trap, but that would have been an injustice to all that Harvey Milk represents to the LGBT civil rights movement. It could have fallen into the “issue film” trap, but then it would have lost the story of the man. It could have been just a political thriller, but then it would have lost its soul. Van Sant falls into none of these traps. Instead he offers us a powerful and moving film that keeps the man, the movement, the politics, the tragedy, and the queerness of it all in splendid balance. What’s more, he makes sure to keep the film queer. It would have been so easy to play down the queer sex and politics and just shoot a deifying portrait of a slain martyr.

But Van Sant is not content to limit Harvey Milk to the status of martyr. His Milk is just a man -- but a charismatic and passionate man -- who by the age of 40 hadn’t even begun to make his mark. His Milk is a savvy and powerful politician who knew how to make the system work and had the strategic genius to make it work for his agenda. Gus Van Sant’s Harvey Milk shows us everything that is wrong about our current LGBT political movement and its players. This film is meant not only to celebrate the life of one of our greatest leaders, but also to wake us up out of our complacency. One need only look at the enormous setbacks the queer community suffered in this year's elections to see that the current LGBT political establishment is not working. By bringing Milk to the masses this year (perhaps when we needed it the most), Van Sant reminds us of how it can be done . . . and for that, Gus Van Sant is Roxie’s World’s Queer of the Year for 2008 (Non-Grrl Division).

(Comedian Wanda Sykes is Queer of the Year for 2008 [Grrl Division].)

PS from Moose: Many thanks to qta for this post and so much more. You are the Queer of the Year (Grad Student Division) for this and every year. Love and happiness to you and yours from all of us in Roxie's World.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Dark Night

A little solstice treat for my adoring fans, because you've all been so incredibly sweet this year:

Somewhere in the dim recesses of the culinary past of the Moosians, these delightful shortbread holiday cookies had another name, but in the bawdy, chick-centric period of her early dyke-o-lescence, Moose gave them a new name that matched her gyno-sensibility. For some mysterious reason, she started calling her all-time favorite cookie "Boobs." Incredibly, the name stuck, even among the church-going Midwesterners in the family. A few years ago, when the Mother of the Moosians passed along the recipe, she had written across the top of the index card, in her excellent former schoolteacher's hand, "Mom's Boobs," which makes Moose laugh every holiday season when she pulls the recipe out of her file.

We pass the recipe along to you, but we are going to call them "Moose's Boobs," on account of Moose has made some slight adjustments in the recipe (she uses butter rather than margarine) and because, well, frankly, she's just a little creeped out by the idea of inviting you all to partake of her mother's, um, body. Hers? Oh, have at it, kids. And may the darkest night of the year find you warm and happy and surrounded by those you love. Take heart. As the light-loving father of the Moosians used to say on this night, summer's coming! Tomorrow, the days start getting longer! Peace out.

Moose's Boobs

Preheat oven to 400.

1 C. butter
3 T. sugar

1 t. almond extract
2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt

candied cherries, halved

Cream the butter and sugar together. Slowly add flour, salt, and almond extract. Mix together, but don't over-mix.

Form teaspoon-size balls. Place on cookie sheet. Press 1/2 candied cherry on top. (You can also use Hershey's Kisses, but Moose strongly prefers the candied cherries. Use a mix of red and green cherries for a festive-looking presentation on that tacky Christmas-tree platter somebody bought you when they thought there was hope of turning you into a conventional suburbanite.)

Bake for 10-15 minutes, but keep a close eye on them. They burn easily.

Yield: 30-36 cookies

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Rev. Wrong

(Updated below.)

A Visual Representation of Reaction in Many Parts of the "Progressive" Community to the Announcement that the Rev. Rick Warren, Who Has Compared Same-Sex Marriage to Incest, Pedophilia, and Polygamy, Has Been Selected to Deliver the Invocation at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama:

A Visual Representation of Reaction to That News in Roxie's World:

(Image Credits: Edvard Munch, "The Scream"; random image search on "sleeping dog")

Why so blasé, you ask? Because, my darlings, we. told. you. so.

Pam's House Blend and Shakesville have had analysis and reaction on this issue all day. Pam nicely characterizes Obama's reaction to criticism of the selection as "sucktastically ineffective." Melissa McEwan has a withering critique of the suggestion that both sides of the abortion issue or the same-sex marriage issue are equivalent when in fact they are not.

If you feel the need for a deep, cleansing puke, go read HRC president Joe Solomonese's op-ed in Wa Po, which makes us ill not because of anything he says but because we still haven't forgiven him for those triumphant e-mails the morning after election day, which took credit for Obama's victory without acknowledging the stunning disappointments on all of the ballot issues of importance to the LGBT community in the election.

Anyway, kids, we are so totally unsurprised by this news that we can't muster up any significant outrage or indignation. All we can think to say to anyone who expected Obama to be a strong advocate on LGBT issues is, Told you so, suckers.

Update: Butch PhD takes on the Warren debacle, in thunder. The piece includes a solid interview with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. We think Rache is trying to position herself for next year's Queer of the Year (Grrl Division) in Roxie's World. Work it, girl:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Excellence WITH Money?!?

(Image Credit: The Carnegie Corporation of New York, 12/16/08)

OMG, kids! It's just Day Two of the Excellence Without Money campaign launched by Roxie's World and blog pal Historiann, and we already have a major victory to report! (To read up on our joint effort to save public higher ed from the forces of evil and economic contraction, go here, here, and here.) What happened? The Carnegie Corporation of New York spent buckets and buckets of money to place two-page ads in Wa Po and the New York Times this morning calling upon the incoming Obama administration to intervene in the crisis of underfunding that is imperiling the nation's public higher educational system. Moose nearly spat her coffee across the breakfast nook as she looked at the letter, signed by more than 40 leaders in higher education (including William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the Queer the Turtle U system).

(Wanna know if your prez or chancellor signed the letter? To see a pdf of the ad, go here.)

The letter calls on the Obama administration to commit 5 percent of the economic stimulus package "-- in the range of $40 to $45 billion -- toward higher education" in order to "provide the stimulus that will propel the nation forward in resolving its current economic crisis" and to "lay the groundwork for competitiveness and the well-being of American families into the future." The proposal calls for the creation of block grants to states that would be administered by governors and focused on construction and renovation projects to help campuses upgrade their infrastructures and meet the rising costs of building high-tech facilities. The emphasis on construction is clearly aimed at heightening the appeal of the proposal, because such projects would generate jobs and other forms of economic activity in the communities surrounding the campuses. That's all well and good, but here's the quote that brought a tear to Moose's under-caffeinated eyes this morning:
The present economic crisis requires an investment in human capital, and graduates of public universities historically have provided most of the workforce to meet the nation's needs. After all, their innovative researchers have often invented the technologies that have fueled economic progress and enhanced America's economic competitiveness and ability to deliver high-quality health care. At the same time, public universities must remain accessible to all families, thereby providing opportunity and hope to families from all social and economic strata.
Shorter version: No money? No excellence, people! No money? No access!

Does the Carnegie letter lay the groundwork for the bailout of higher ed Moose was fantasizing about the other day? We'll leave it to the experts to make that determination, but the good news here is that higher ed is making a bold move to lobby on its own behalf during a moment of national economic crisis that could have catastrophic repercussions for institutions whose budgets were strained years before the bottom started falling out of everything. Some may quibble with a grant-making foundation spending a sizable amount of money on what are basically advertisements, but we think the urgency of the situation and the rare political opportunity afforded by a new president committed to making big changes justify the grandness of the gesture. Being published as they were on the very day that Obama's pick for education secretary was announced, the ads help to assure that higher ed will be on the radar screen as opinion-makers consider both the economic crisis and the incoming administration. (For brief reports on the ads, see Wa Po and The Chronicle of Higher Ed.)

Roxie's World gives the Carnegie Corporation a hopeful PAWS UP for seeing smoke and yelling "FIRE" rather than convening a meeting to decide whether to call it a "FIRE" or "a non-threatening heat-related event that will in no way impede normal operations on campus." It's gettin' awfully hot in here, kids. I say let's call it a FIRE and bring in the big trucks with a whole bunch of water! Peace out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Excellence Without Money

(Image Credit: Words by Moose; fabulously clever seal by Historiann, with help from the Official Seal Generator at Says-it.com.)

Game on, kids! Roxie's World and Historiann have joined forces to launch a movement aimed at saving higher education from the forces of evil and economic decline. Following up on Moose's reflections here the other day on the perilous budgetary situation facing public institutions, Historiann took our ball and ran with it, designing this eye-catching seal aimed at spreading the gospel of Excellence Without Money throughout our cash-starved land. We are humbled by her creative appropriation and invite all of you to join with us as we try to figure out how to survive in a period of plunging revenues and soaring workloads. Go read Historiann's excellent post on this subject, which is full of brilliant ideas for how institutions can go on pretending that the most severe budget cuts imaginable will have no impact whatsoever on the quality of the educational product. (Wouldn't want to give shoppers any reason to suspect they had wandered into an academic Target when they thought were going to Bloomingdale's, would we?) Make sure you check out the comments, too -- Historiann has a very smarty-pants group of readers, all of whom are welcome in Roxie's World any time.

So, we've got a slogan and we've got a symbol. By the logic of 21st-century capitalism, most of our work is done. All we need now is a marketing plan, but, really, what does that involve -- a Café Press account, a tech-savvy grad student with time on his hands and a homosexual's flair for design (qta -- Mama has a job for you!), and maybe a bored intern at The Chronicle of Higher Ed who stumbles across this crazy meme and decides to put it on The Chronicle's daily blog list?

Help us out, though, kids. Tell us what your schools are doing to advance the cause of Excellence Without Money. What are the rumors flying around your campus and the grim new realities that have already taken hold? Larger classes? Layoffs? Libraries Without Books, as Dog-Eared Book suggested here in comments the other day? What's the scariest thing you've seen or heard, and what is the most inspiring example you can offer of an administrator determined to maintain both integrity and true excellence in the face of enormous challenges? You know we're a glass half full kind of crowd around here. We laugh in the face of adversity, and we honor those who act creatively in the face of it. What can we say? It's a way we have of driving off the spleen. We're firm believers in hanging together rather than hanging separately, so come hang with us and we'll all muddle through somehow.

Special Note to Our Grad-Student Readers: We realize your anxieties right now are particularly acute. Let Roxie's World be your warm fuzzy friend in a time of trouble. Tell us what's on your minds, and we will look back at you with that gaze of total recognition and acceptance that only a dog can offer. I'm telling you, it's better than an on-campus interview at 5-Courses a Term/No Sabbaticals Ever College. Love you. Mean it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sykes to Watch Out For

Truth be told, we're feeling a little overwhelmed by our blogger's duty to compile gargantuan Best of/Worst of lists for 2008. Looking back, it seems we didn't pay attention to anything this year but the election. (Devoted readers may well agree with that assessment, but I guess you wouldn't be devoted readers if that bothered you, huh?) We only saw a handful of movies, and the moms saw fewer live performances than they usually do. (Even if they'd spent every night of the year rockin' out in some bar or concert hall, I'm betting they'd still rate the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand show they saw in June as the no doubt about it best live performance of the year. It was a stunning show -- sublime performances of the bluesy, soulful, rootsy songs that producer T Bone Burnett compiled for their collaboration, with a few amazing re-workings of selections from the singers' separate careers.)

Anyway, while we procrastinate on our solemn obligation to tell you what to think about everything that matters in the world, we are prepared to announce Roxie's World's Queer of the Year for 2008 (Grrl Division). (Stay tuned, pretty boys, for an announcement of the winner in the Non-Grrl Division. You may leave nominations in comments. No, Candy Man, you may not nominate anyone you are dating.) Our selection may disappoint some members of the Tough and Smart Grrls Caucus, who might have expected Rachel Maddow, aka Butch PhD, to win in this category in recognition of her breakthrough this year to something close to media superstardom, as she got her very own show in September on MSNBC. I know, I know, wimmin, it's disappointing, but before you get your boxer shorts in a wad, let me assure you that Rachel's accomplishment will be honored elsewhere on the hypothetical Best of list that our largely imaginary team of culture vultures and close readers is compiling somewhere deep in the bowels of RW Enterprises, LLC. We will celebrate Rachel, even though, to be honest, we think she's gone a little overboard with the make-up, the plunging necklines, and the reflexive defense of all things Obama. Cut back on the Kool-Aid, Rache, and wear a shirt with a collar every once in awhile. Trust me, large swaths of your audience will love you for it.

Nope, kids, the Queer of the Year for 2008 (Grrls Division) is comedian Wanda Sykes, who is no slouch when it comes to toughness and smartness either, of course.

(Photo Credit: Richard Hartog, Los Angeles Times)

We honor Sykes for years of edgy, brilliant, hilarious truth-telling but also for her decision to come out in November as a fierce, proud, married dyke in the wake of the passage of California's Prop 8. We might have wished Sykes had made the announcement before the election rather than after, but late is better than never and there's still (obviously) plenty of work to be done. If the defeat on Prop 8 is to become the catalyst for an angrier, more righteously determined movement for LGBT civil rights -- Stonewall 2.0, as it's been called -- it will be in part because people like Sykes realized they had to step into the fray. They couldn't go on being privately gay and publicly silent, not using the bully pulpit offered by their celebrity while citizen-fans voted their rights away.

In the week after the election, Sykes gave a stirring speech at an anti-Prop 8 rally in Las Vegas. (Go watch the vid if you haven't seen it already.) She followed up with a rather extraordinary conversation with Jay Leno this week on The Tonight Show. The clip is long, in part because it contains commercials, but we wanted you to be able to see the whole thing. Her appearance begins with a comic moment of non-appearance, as Leno waits for Sykes to come out on stage. When finally she emerges from behind the curtain, she explains that she was doing her part to honor Day Without a Gay, which had asked people to phone in gay on December 10 and devote themselves to work for LGBT rights instead. The bit was funny, and the ensuing conversation with Leno is masterful in its blend of humor, indignation, and confident visibility as political pedagogy. If the aftermath of Prop 8 is to be a teachable moment, Sykes is a strong candidate for teacher of the year as well.

Wanda, baby, sister/friend, you made all the girls (and probably a few of the boys) in Roxie's World wish they had detachable, um, privates a long time ago, but we'll never detach ourselves from our admiration for your moxie and your devastating wit. With all paws high in the air, we proudly declare you our Queer of the Year for 2008.

Now, children, honor your new queen by watching the Leno vid. Wanda would want you to:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hard Times

Times are hard, you may have heard. Here in Roxie's World, where the primary wage-earners are state employees facing the prospect of furloughs in the next six months, we've had a series of increasingly frantic messages from our accounting firm (a now sad pair of number crunchers that we will call, let's see, not Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, but, um, TIAA & CREF) urging us to cut costs, increase efficiencies, and seize upon any available opportunity to make money. Right, guys -- Money-making is what we're all about here in the ad-free zone of Roxie's World.

Anyway, like other academics who got their holiday buzz killed by bad budget news this week, both moms sat in on a grim departmental committee meeting devoted to going over a list of cuts that might have to be made once the state lets Queer the Turtle U know how much of a hit it's going to have to take to get through fiscal 2009. And, please, don't even think about 2010.

Folks, we're real sorry to hear that the bailout for the auto industry has apparently fallen apart, but have you noticed that no one is even talking about a bailout for higher education? For years, public institutions like Queer the Turtle U have been stuck between the rock and the hard place of declining levels of state support and mounting pressure to keep tuition affordable. Caught in that vise, schools have fought to do more with less while scrambling to catch up to private institutions in the game of fundraising. That strategy worked reasonably well when times were good and the bubbles in stocks or real estate had a lot people feeling rich. Now? The party's over, public and private revenues have dried up, and schools are desperately trying to figure out how to cut costs without compromising the value of their brand (the ne plus ultra of higher ed under the consumer model).

Moose, who has a healthy respect for academic entrepreneurship, has a slogan for public institutions eager to prove that larger classes, smaller operating budgets, and reductions in advising and other forms of academic support are no threat whatsoever to the quality of education. She's been using the slogan informally all over campus at Queer the Turtle U this fall, but it hasn't been officially adopted yet, so, in the spirit of academic capitalism she has decided to auction it off here to one of my legions of loyal fans who works at some other cash-strapped public school. Listen up, Historiann! How 'bout it, Dog-Eared Book? the Shy One? Get in on the action, because this won't last long. Bidding opens now. Name your price in comments. All marketing suggestions (tee-shirts? coffee cups? backpacks?) welcome. Are you ready? Here is Moose's slogan for hard times in higher ed:

Excellence Without Money

Brilliant, don't you agree? Can't you just see it festooned on banners all over your campus, inspiring the young to scale the heights of pretending that everything is really just fine, no matter how many staff are laid off or how many searches are canceled or how many lines are cannibalized? Imagine the cool video your marketing department could produce, featuring a racially and ethnically mixed chorus line of smiling students dancing as fast as they can to a happy tune played by your school's marching band. Cue the tubas, kids! Let's show 'em what we're made of!

Meantime, here on the home front, we're considering a broad range of revenue enhancers to try to weather the storm of Great Depression 2.0. We realize we've been remiss in not seeking to capitalize on Roxie's World's strategic location near the epicenter of Obama Nation as the date of the coronation of the Precious approaches. That, I assure you, is about to change. Having no senate seat to auction off, we've decided to jump on the bandwagon and rent out space to the thundering hordes of Hopers and Changers preparing to converge on the national capital area around January 20. Why the heck not? Apparently, everybody else is doing it. We've already promised beds to three friends who will be in town for the occasion and actually plan to go, while we stay home and watch the festivities on teevee, having recently decided that inaugurations are like football: You see more of the action and are a whole lot more comfortable curled up on your couch than freezing your tush off in the not so great outdoors.

So, here's the deal. We figure we can sleep six more people in the house and maybe a hundred or so out in the ridiculously large back yard. We hadn't planned on renting out space there, but with word yesterday that camping will not be allowed on the national mall, we decided to make a play for the cash-poor granola-eating set insane enough to sleep outside in January. Take a look at our packages, and let us know what you'd like. Make your reservations in comments or by e-mailing me at roxieblog@gmail.com.

Bed Only:

Bed (shared) indoors, with bath privileges: $1500 @ night
Couch (shared) indoors, no bath privileges: $1200 @ night
Lawn space (no fires allowed), 1/2 bath: $800 @ night

Board Packages:

Pre-inaugural scrambled egg breakfast: $250
Eggs with Kraft cheese slices: $299
Eggs with Kraft cheese slices, coffee, and glass of Cold Duck: $499
Post-inaugural dance party and cold buffet: $899
Post-inaugural dance party and hot buffet, with Cold Duck: $1799

Transportation Packages:

Pickup/dropoff at National (no, we don't call it Reagan) Airport: $399
Pickup/dropoff at Takoma Metro (extra for early a.m. or late p.m. rides): $299


Students: none
Seniors: none
Disaffected Clintonistas: free drinks and an "Old Bitches for Hillary" tee-shirt, slightly worn

Yes, times are tough, kids, but if we all stick together, if we share the sacrifices and embrace the opportunities, we will get through our current challenges with our souls -- and, if we are lucky, our senses of humor -- in tact. Roxie's World is here for you, but as the bleeping governor of Illinois says, you've got to pay to play. So pay up, beloveds, and let's play on.

(Image credits: Seat for sale, via NYT; Rooms for rent, via PB)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Totally Gay Newsweek

(Marchers in a South African gay pride parade. Photo Credit: Nic Bothma/Corbis, by way of Newsweek.)

Newsweek seems to have taken a turn for the lavender. If you are not yet sick to death of the subject of same-sex marriage (but, please, how could you not be?), run over there and read Lisa Miller's cover story on how much more complicated the biblical view of marriage is than the fundamentalist caricature of "God didn't create Adam and Steve" would have one believe. Long story short: Most of the patriarchs of the Old Testament were polygamists, and the unmarried apostle Paul, chief architect of the New Testament's sexual morality, might actually have preferred the company of Adam and Steve, so it's fairly tricky to claim that the Bible is strictly committed to the one man/one woman model of "traditional" marriage. The article is already being denounced by the usual suspects, and it isn't likely to win a lot of converts or keep a lot of biblically inspired homophobes awake at night trying to counter the fine points of its theological arguments. Still, it's good to see a religious point of view more sympathetic to queers acknowledged in the mainstream media, which too often assume that Bibles are for banging and "religious" equals "homophobic."

While you're over at Newsweek, check out the results of a new poll purporting to show a post-Prop 8 surge in support for same-sex marriage. Moose realized she was officially sick of the subject and all public discussions of it when she ran across this line early in the (annoyingly triumphalist) story on the poll:
Americans continue to find civil unions for gays and lesbians more palatable than full-fledged marriage. Fifty-five percent of respondents favored legally sanctioned unions or partnerships, while only 39 percent supported marriage rights.
Moose for some reason became incensed at the words "more palatable than" and immediately fired off a message to a listserv on which the article had been posted declaring that she found caviar more palatable than poop on toast. She ended with this snarky salvo aimed at her fellow citizens: "As the good Rev. Wright said, 'God damn America.'" Perhaps now you see why Moose's writing privileges around here are so severely limited. I'm the dog, but she is the one on the leash. It's the only way to assure that Roxie's World remains the patriotic, family-friendly place my readers expect it to be.

Finally, because we don't want you to miss one single tidbit in the "gay is the new black" meme, we leave you with this vid, also from Newsweek, in which a number of queers weigh in on the aptness or inaptness of the black/gay analogy in arguments for civil rights. Especially helpful are the comments of Michael Crawford, who blogs at the Bilerico Project, on the problems of the analogy, one of which is that it erases individuals who are both black and gay. Go watch the vid. Y'all have been pretty quiet in comments here lately, but we're not giving up on the colloquium on history and the perils of analogy. It's exam season, kids. Study up, and weigh in:

Friday, December 05, 2008

Cover Stories

It's Friday evening, and my typist is hoping to get in a long overdue workout before settling in for drinks before a roaring fire at Ishmael's, the seedy yet cozy bar around the corner from the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, but we couldn't resist throwing up some provocative eye candy to get your weekend off to a pleasant start. As America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball, it is of course our solemn obligation to showcase the New Yorker cover that shows President-Elect Obama vetting candidates for the all-important position of First Dog. And, yes, this cover was done by the same artist, Barry Blitt, who did the infamous terrorist fist-bumping cover last summer.

You will no doubt have noticed that Roxie's World has kept silent on the sad news that the Obama administration clearly plans to continue the abominable War on Terriers. We are still trying to come to grips with the president-elect's unprovoked attack on Barbara Walters' cute little Havanese terrier, Cha Cha, whom Obama contemptuously dismissed as a "girly dog" when Walters proposed the hypoallergenic breed as a good candidate for the Obama family dog. We suspect the incoming president may harbor some kind of grudge against the terrier group because he is still bitter about not having earned the coveted endorsement of America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball, but we are sorry indeed that he feels a need to lash out in such a vindictive fashion. We plan to let the new secretary of state know that we hope she can prevail upon Obama to let bygones be bygones and, for dog's sake, end the War on Terriers!

Next up on the pile of magazines is this cover of the December 16 issue of The Advocate. We haven't gotten around to reading the story yet, but Melissa McEwan of Shakesville has, and she criticizes the framing of the piece (in a magazine catering to a disproportionately white audience) for seeming to appropriate the black civil rights movement while too breezily implying that the struggle for racial equality is finished. We think Liss is probably right, and we have noted before the problems of positing analogies between the struggles of different oppressed groups and of relying on a "march of progress" narrative to frame a history of civil rights. We want y'all to go read The Advocate story, though, as well as Liss's critique, and then come back here to talk about it. Does being careful about analogies mean we have to abandon them altogether? To avoid offending some African Americans, should queers (of every color, shape, and creed) never dare to invoke the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- even when his widow embraced the struggle for LGBT equality as a civil rights issue comparable to those for which her husband gave his life? These are complicated issues, we realize, and we have been relentless in our criticisms of LGBT advocacy groups for their failures to organize in communities of color and address the concerns of racial minorities, but we still feel the analogies can be strategically valuable and are not always unwarranted. What do you think?

Finally, because we think in threes, we offer up the cover of last week's New York Times Magazine. Again, we haven't read the article, because my typist has been trapped in the seasonal hell of post-Thanksgiving / pre-end of semester "good lord, what 17 things do I have to try to finish in the next 15 minutes?" Fortunately, Historiann read the story and blogged it with her usual mix of smarts and snark. Go read both of them, and come back here. The seminar on feminism, surrogacy, and the conundrums of privilege will convene as soon as the colloquium on history and the perils of analogy has concluded.

Drinks for everybody at Ishmael's as soon as the work -- and the workout -- are finished. Oh, who am I kidding? It's after 7 -- Belly up to the bar, kids. It's Friday night and high time we tied one on. Pour me a tall one, Peter Coffin, and bring a couple of orders of your delicious fried mozzarella sticks. My typist promises she'll go to the gym tomorrow, which is, as you well know, another day. Peace out.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Prop 8 -- The Musical

Roxie's World orders you to get up off the couch and go to the bathroom. Now.

Very good. Now, watch this vid. You will love us for making you watch it (and you'll be grateful for the empty bladder when Jack Black starts singing his Jesus song), even if you are one of the more than 800,000 people who have already seen it, including most of our Facebook friends. Can someone please explain to us why the homo mafia that supposedly runs Hollywood wasn't smart enough to get this on the air before ballots were cast on Prop 8? Do they not realize that America absolutely depends upon the gay community for verbal wit and precision chorus lines and would be happy to support our right to wed if only we would promise to continue supplying an endless stream of entertainment and elegance? Watch the vid, kids. We're sleepy.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Monday, December 01, 2008

A New Dawn

Substance Makes a Comeback:

(Senator Hillary Clinton and President-Elect Barack Obama leave the stage at a press conference in Chicago at which he announced she is his choice to be secretary of state. Photo Credit: Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via New York Times, 12/1/08)

Style Takes a Backseat:

(The North Portico of the White House festooned with a red ribbon for World AIDS Day. Photo Credit: Jason Reed/Reuters, via New York Times, 12/1/08)

Transcript of the press conference announcing Obama's national security team, in which he declared "a new dawn of American leadership," is here. Chris Cillizza's short but smart take on why Obama would have offered Clinton the job and she would have accepted it is here.

Roxie's World officially celebrates President-Elect Obama's choice and hereby orders all Clinton haters on the left to shut the hell up. Time for a new meme, people. Bitch is going global. Paws up to that!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Roxie's Watching: Australia & Milk

(Photo Credit: Bill Bray, Focus Features; Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Milk.)

When you are so full that gravy is oozing out of your pores and you've already made your way through the safe topics of conversation -- both of them -- with your family, what do you do with the rest of Thanksgiving weekend? You go to the movies, of course. The moms ventured out with the Mother of the Moosians to see Baz Luhrmann's Australia on Friday and caught Gus Van Sant's Milk Saturday evening after the MotM had safely returned to the heartland of America. Both films earned a paws up from the tough critics of Roxie's World, though Milk comes with a serious hankie alert. It will make you cry, kids, repeatedly, even if you aren't a menopausal queer still furious over the passage of California's Prop 8. We command you to see it, but be prepared for a little public weeping. Don't worry -- Everyone else in the theater will be wiping their eyes right along with you.

If you like Baz Luhrmann, you will love Australia. It's big, it's meta, it's gorgeously filmed, it's at least 20 minutes longer than it needed to be -- and yet no one in our party snuck out for a potty break before the closing credits had stopped rolling. A couple of pithy sentences from Ann Hornaday's Wa Po review capture the whole adventure rather nicely:
[Australia] doesn't wink as often as it genuflects toward its massive subject and, even more worshipfully, toward old-school Hollywood schmaltz. A wildly ambitious, luridly indulgent spectacle of romance, action, melodrama and revisionism, Australia is windy, overblown, utterly preposterous and insanely entertaining.
Insanely entertaining, people -- because you want to see Nicole Kidman fly across the screen on a horse as if she were born with a whip in her hand. Because you need to see Hugh Jackman without his shirt on. Because you love a multi-culti cutie-pie, and Brandon Walters, who plays the mixed race child of an Aboriginal woman and a white man, steals the show with his winsome smile and his remarkable affinity for The Wizard of Oz (told you the film was meta, didn't we?). The racial and colonial politics of Australia are no doubt a whole lot more complicated than its earnest message of love conquering difference and history seems to imply. (A telling detail is that, as in most such fantasies, dark-skinned characters who are allied with good-guy white characters tend to get killed, while mixed-race characters survive -- even though, as is the case here, tribute is paid to the necessity of a connection to Aboriginal culture.) Nonetheless, Australia succeeds because it isn't interested in nuance or analysis. It is interested in sentiment and spectacle, and it delivers both in spades. If you get that, you'll enjoy the long, bracing ride Luhrmann has in store for you. (Manohla Dargis's NYT review of Australia is here.)

Van Sant's Milk would be a remarkable film at any moment, but in this moment -- thirty years after Harvey Milk's murder, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, in November 1978 and three weeks after the passage of California's Prop 8 -- it has a poignancy and a political urgency that one can't quite imagine it having at any other time. Just three weeks before his death, Milk was the driving force behind the defeat of a California ballot initiative that would have led to mandatory firings of gay teachers in the state. As told in the film, the story of Milk's triumph on Prop 6 is a thrilling come-from-behind victory made possible by shrewd organizing and a politics of visibility. Over and over in the film, we see Milk demanding that queers come out, insisting that the battle for equality will be won by getting the heterosexual majority to see the homosexual minority. "If they know us," he insists, "they don't vote against us." Milk's tactics stand in stark contrast to the mealy-mouthed campaign waged by opponents of Prop 8, who were reluctant to place LGBT people and families at the center of the battle, pitching it instead as an abstract matter of rights.

Dennis Lim has an excellent piece on Milk in Slate that muses on whether Prop 8 would have passed if the film had opened in October rather than last week. (Van Sant himself entertained this question in an interview with the San Francisco Bay Guardian and conceded that Milk, wily tactician that he was, would have opened the film earlier.) That question is, of course, impossible to answer, and we needn't burden the film or its maker with such responsibility. What we can do is use the occasion of the film and the painful passage of Prop 8 (and the other anti-gay initiatives that succeeded on Nov. 4) to re-acquaint ourselves with Milk's legacy and to re-assess the priorities and tactics of an LGBT political movement that has been far less effective than he was in the sole statewide referendum battle he fought before his tragic death. In the shadow of Prop 8, it is excruciating to watch Sean Penn's sublimely human Milk agonize on screen, thinking the battle against Prop 6 is doomed, and intoxicating to watch him revel in the unexpected victory. Thirty years later, we should be angry that the foes of equality are still subjecting LGBT civil rights to popular votes, but we should be ashamed that we haven't yet found a more effective means for waging these ballot battles. Thirty years later, we can honor Milk's memory by finally proving we have learned the lessons in democracy he worked so tirelessly and courageously to teach. See the film -- and then get to work.

(A. O. Scott's NYT review of Milk is here. Christie Keith has a review up on After Ellen. Keith also has an interview with Alison Pill, who plays Anne Kronenberg, the lesbian who managed Milk's successful campaign to get on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. It's got some comments from Kronenberg and Van Sant as well.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Female Gaze

(Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton [access by clicking here and then going to "Photo Gallery"]; Moose [on the left, looking up] and Goose's sign, Comcast Center, 11/23/08)

We've been woefully remiss in our basketball blogging so far in this young season, so we'll begin to make amends this Thanksgiving eve by letting you share in the greatest accomplishment of Moose and Goose's lives as sports fans: the photo above, snapped at Sunday's Lady Terps game against UCLA, which is featured in a gallery on the team's web page. Word on the street is that the Terps got this solid win against a pretty good UCLA team (after LOSING their season opener to -- if you can believe it -- Texas Christian University) because they are beginning to find their groove and chemistry, incorporating new players into a team that still relies heavily on the experience of seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman, both veterans of the 2006 national championship team. There's probably some truth to that, but here in Roxie's World we give a lot of credit to the passionate devotion of Moose and Goose, whose neighbors in the Comcast Center fondly refer to them as "the Sign Ladies" because of the hand-painted signs they bring to every game. I mean, really, people, look at the neat penmanship on that sign! Consider the elegant simplicity of its kick-butt feminist message. Then look at Moose's laser-like eyes, gazing fiercely up at the scoreboard. What is she thinking? Is she worried that Shoulders won't score her 1600th point (which she did, moving into 6th place all-time among Maryland scorers)? Is she annoyed that the scoreboard refuses to count points for Marah Strickland, though Moose knows for a fact that Strickland sank at least two free throws in the second half? Is she wishing Goose had gotten her a hot dog when she went to the concession stand, thinking she could really use a hunk of meat by-product slathered with mustard right about now, and why the heck is Goose hiding behind that sign anyway?

Oh, who knows, kids? Write your own caption. Tell us what you think. Beats hell out of trying to talk to your family, doesn't it? (By the way, the Lady Terps prevailed against South Dakota State this afternoon down in Cancun, 68-56. They play Montana at 7 p.m. tomorrow.)

And because all the other bloggers are passing along Thanksgiving recipes, we'll share with you the reason dog invented cranberries: this delicious recipe for Cranberry, Cherry, and Walnut Chutney. It's from Cooking Light (or, as Moose calls it, Food Porn for the Conscientious), and it'll be on our table tomorrow:

Cranberry, Cherry, and Walnut Chutney

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Orange rind strips (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cherries, and cook 1 minute. Stir in cranberries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grated rind, and extract. Garnish with orange rind strips, if desired. Cover and chill.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)

CALORIES 108 (25% from fat); FAT 3g (sat 0.2g,mono 0.7g,poly 2g); IRON 0.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 11mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19.7g; SODIUM 2mg; PROTEIN 1.5g; FIBER 1.8g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Love you, kids, and wish you a bounteous feast and every happiness. We're hunkered down at home, with the Mother of the Moosians and delicious odors wafting through the house. Peace to you and yours and the whole damn planet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pre-Holiday Eye Candy

(Image Credit: Maksim, ThePeoplesCube.com [You'll have to scroll way down through a lot of other images to get to this one, but if you enjoy the parodies of Shepard Fairey's iconic Obama poster, it's worth the trip.])

Why pre-holiday eye candy? Several reasons. One, it has no calories, and you need to save room for all the gorging you'll be doing over the next several days. Two, we think some of our readers might be in need of a snuggly, cuddly, and slightly ironic image of Winnie-the-Pooh to gaze at as they steel themselves for whatever dramas and disappointments may arise over the holiday. We realize it's an emotionally fraught time, and you might not be able to take your dogs with you on your trips. We suggest you take a laptop along and come click on this post whenever you feel the need for a little virtual hug. That's what Roxie's World is here for, kids, and dog knows you need us. We'll be here when the last piece of pie is gone and you're still not done trying to plug up that hole somebody put in your heart. We'll be here after your drunk aunt has broken the last of the crystal wine glasses you inherited from your grandmother. We'll be here when your racist step dad has gone off on his fourteenth tirade about the Muslim socialist who's getting ready to move into the White House. And, yeah, we'll even be here when your littlest nephew takes his first tottering step and throws you a look of delight and dawning self-confidence that takes your breath away. We'd love to hear about that.

Holiday angst and sentimentality aside, our main reason for tossing out some snappy images is to pass along the results of research recently undertaken by the powerful Office of Eye Candy here at RW Enterprises, LLC. The team of old yearbook editors and skinny kids in tight jeans who work there has been surfing the internets looking for information on Shepard Fairey, the graphic artist who designed the Obama poster parodied in the image above as well as the to us far more compelling "Love Unites" poster he did in the wake of the passage of California's Prop 8. We found a couple of interesting news articles, including one in Wa Po and one in the LA Times focused on Fairey's reaction to the pilfering of his work. Not surprisingly, given his roots as a street artist, Fairey is blasé about such appropriations and variations, seeing them as confirmation of the power of his original image: "When something becomes pervasive enough, it becomes a reference point that people are going to use for commentary and parody," Fairey said. "They build their own thing off of it and use it for their own agenda."

If, like us, you loves you some parody, you will want to check out the impressive collection of riffs on Fairey's Obama assembled by Rene Wanner. It's well researched and beautifully presented so that you can easily see all 149 parodies he has compiled. We also give a grateful hat tip to Wanner for helping us answer a question that has gnawed at us ever since we tossed up the image of a parody that used the Pope in place of Obama in a post we did back in September. Our blog pal and top-notch scholar Historiann liked the image, too, and asked about its provenance, to which we offered a sheepish, "Dunno, dude, we stole it off the internets." Well, Historiann, we can now tell you that the Pope poster was designed by Michael Ian Weinfeld and commissioned by ANIMAL, an extremely hip online magazine, in connection with Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the United States. (More links to Fairey and Obama parody stories here. You know, if my typist weren't already complaining bitterly about overwork and fragmented attention, I would order her to delve more deeply into the whole underworld of cool graphics and image freaks on the internets. Y'all would love it, wouldn't you?)

The truth is that eye candy is another of the answers to the deep-thoughtish question we were pondering here the other day -- "Why do we blog?" We blog in part because we deeply and freakishly heart the way in which the (plat)form allows us to think with images, to play with them, to work with them and re-work them -- as a way of telling stories, as aspects or objects of critique, as a means of arresting the fast-moving eyes of our impatient readers as they careen through cyberspace. Slow down, our pretty pictures implore. Slow down. Stay here. Look at me. See me -- truly. I am here for you.

We'll close with Fairey's favorite of the Obama parodies, the hilarious, if in some ways predictable, cover Mad magazine ran in October. "I loved Mad as a kid," Fairey said of the spoof of his work. "I think Mad’s satire heightened my understanding of irony and hypocrisy. I’m very excited to be a part of Mad’s history." We would be, too, and, if it were us, we'd probably be so excited that we'd also overlook that what Mad is satirizing in this instance is the obvious lack of irony in the cringe-inducing secular religiosity of Fairey's original Obama poster. Sweet pea, we won't bother to explain to Fairey, you're the reason we started calling Obama "His Hopeness." That Pope parody? A no-brainer, man -- bound to happen. But never mind -- We'll cut Fairey some slack in the hope that he won't come after us for prominently displaying his "Love Unites" poster in the side bar. Can't help it, kids -- We are suckers for any combination of red and yellow and graphics that hearken back to WWII propaganda posters. Can't. Get. Enough.

What are we thankful for in Roxie's World? Why, you, of course -- always and forever. Peace out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who's the Boss?

Roxie's World refuses to comment on positions that Senator Hillary Clinton may have been offered and might have accepted in the administration of President-Elect Barack Obama. Why? Because we've noticed that every time we get all puffed up and confident about something having to do with the junior senator from New York, it disappears into thin air and we are left with egg on our faces, ashes in our throat, and disappointment in the depths of our leaky heart. So we will say nothing, nada, not a word, not a peep, not a whit, not a woof, not a yelp, not a whistle, not a whisper, not a whoop, not a holler, not a shout, not a cheer, not a chant, not a huzzah or hurrah or hooray or yee-haw about how happy we are for Senator Clinton, how impressed we are with the cabinet the president-elect is assembling, and how thrilled we are at the prospect of the country's tattered global reputation being mended by one of the smartest girls on dog's earth. But we are not saying anything, doggone it! We are not saying anything. In an effort to continue not saying anything about Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of state in the Obama administration, we are going to amuse ourselves by coming up with a caption for this photo that ran on the front page of this morning's New York Times (although it was taken in October, when Obama and Clinton were campaigning together in Florida).

(Photo Credit: Damon Winter, New York Times)

Our Caption: No, no, Barack -- It's, "Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,/And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again," not "up came the sun." Trust me, 'kay? It was Chelsea's favorite song.

What's your caption? And what are your thoughts on the emerging shape of the Obama (hey, it turns out the Clintons weren't wrong about everything) administration? So far, we'll give it a paws up on smarts and experience, even as we try to stifle the chortles from the Department of We Told You So (as in, we told you there was no substantive difference on policy between Obama and Clinton, we told you he was a centrist, we told you he wouldn't close down the Pentagon his first day in office and turn Kumbaya into the national anthem). Turns out the Hopey Changey Crowd realizes the business of governing requires the expertise of those who have spent some time in the sausage factory, no matter how much it offends the delicate sensibilities of the blogger boyz. There, there, boyz. Have yourselves a nice bowl of tofu and spinach. Barack and Hillary have a country to run and a world to repair.