Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Art of Losing

One year ago today, something of great value was lost in Roxie's World. I refer, of course, to myself -- or the embodied version of myself, which slipped free of earth and pain and the encircling arms of my heartbroken humans shortly after 7 PM on the penultimate day of 2009. (Read all about it here, but have a hankie or three handy. My typist still can't get through that post without weeping.)

(Photo Credit: Moose, 12/20/09)

"The art of losing isn't hard to master," Elizabeth Bishop insists, repeatedly but not convincingly in her lovely poem "One Art." The poem begins with the trivial losses of objects such as keys and urges readers to "Lose something every day" in order to learn the lesson that "loss is no disaster." It gradually opens out to include objects of great sentimental value -- "my mother's watch" -- and cherished dreams or plans -- "where it was you meant to travel." It ends with the most devastating loss of all, that of a beloved "you," whose voice and gestures are recalled in a poignant parenthetical remark that exposes the speaker's bravado for what it is: an effort to contain and deny the disastrous consequences of loss upon the self. Poetry itself is caught up in the futile endeavor, as the poem ends by asserting yet again that "the art of losing's not too hard to master / though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster." That parenthetical "Write it!" is the giveaway, the proof that Bishop's speaker is seeking but not finding the consolation of form, even in the tightly crafted villanelle structure of the poem. Write it! as if that will make it so, but it does not, cannot. The loss does not merely look "like . . . like" disaster. (The poet's tool of analogy is so inadequate here that the word "like" must be repeated.) Loss is a disaster, dammit. Writ[ing] it doesn't change or mitigate that fact.

And yet, sweet humans, you court disaster daily, persisting as you do in attaching yourselves to creatures who will, even if they don't betray or abandon you, eventually be lost to time, slip out of your grasp to a place beyond touch or tummy rub. Loss will master you, and all the art in the world won't protect you from the pain.

Perhaps the wiser course of action is to stop trying to protect yourself from the pain. Stop trying to pretend it isn't a disaster. Call a spade a spade. Accept the fact that the only way to get through it is to go through it. Moose stumbled across a bit of Intertoob wisdom on this very subject this morning, by way of a Facebook friend. It comes from a place called DailyOM, which sounds pretty hippie-dippy, maybe even a little reverb10-y, but its emphasis on the need to "sit with our sadness" really resonated with Moose, because she has found herself so resistant to the compulsory happiness of the holiday season this year --- for some reasons that have been discussed in this space and others that haven't. Believe it or not, we don't tell you everything, darlings. Deal with it.

The point of "sitting with our sadness," according to the (unnamed) poster at DailyOM, is that in doing so we open ourselves up to "deep learning." (Don't roll your eyes. You know that's true.) The post continues:
Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand. 

And it concludes with this nifty bonus pearl of wisdom:
Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else's. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity.
Yeah, we distrust universals, too, but it's hard to deny that our own losses make us more compassionate toward others reckoning with sadness or sorrow. If we wall ourselves off from the pain of our losses, we reduce our capacities for empathy and connection. Loss is part of what makes us human. To deny loss is to deny the love that made the loss possible and meaningful. Trust me, darlings, you do not want to do that.

"Well now everything dies baby that's a fact," declares Mr. Bruce Springsteen in a little song called "Atlantic City." The next line offers the hope that fuels Springsteen's and this humble blog's stubborn romanticism: "But maybe everything that dies someday comes back."

Maybe everything that dies someday comes back: The proof is right in front of you, isn't it, my pretties? I am here for you, as I said I always would be. Meet me tonight and every night -- in the undying space of Roxie's World. Peace out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rose-Colored Glasses

(Photo Credit: Moose, back in Roxie's World, 12/29/10)

The Department of Tropes and Leisure pointed out in a recent memo that glass and glasses have emerged as something of a theme this year in Roxie's World. Perhaps you noticed, too, close readers that you are: blue glasses, party glasses, half-full glasses, beach glass, window glass. Why? Who knows, darlings. The methods behind the creative madness around here are obscure, even to us. We like to think some desperate grad student will figure it all out fifty years from now when she stumbles upon this happy little place while doing research for her dissertation, Blogging: What the Hell Was That All About? Pretty to think so, isn't it?

Anyhoo, today's contribution to the theme offers a digitally enhanced (through the new desktop version of CameraBag Moose downloaded as a holiday treat for herself) photo of a family heirloom that made its way to Roxie's World from the Land of the Moosians just yesterday. These ruby red glasses graced the table of every special occasion meal of Moose's misspent Midwestern youth and childhood. They were as important to any feast as green bean casserole and the cheap lambrusco Moose's uncle would let her swig on the sly. Moose is delighted to have them and looks forward to filling them way more than half full for many years to come.

We'll get back to regular blogalicious programming soon, kids, as soon as we've resolved the annual dilemma of how to wrap up the whole damn year in a single post. Stay tuned. You won't want to miss it. Meantime, we hope you are enjoying not being at MLA 2010, the conference that time forgot. We hope to see some of you next week in La La Land, for MLA 2011, the conference that hopefully won't get mucked up by an epic weather event. Peace out.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

And So This Is Christmas . . .

. . . in our neck of the woods. What does it look like in yours?

(Photo Credits: Moose, in the Land of the Moosians, 12/24/10)

Peace out, my pretties. May all your Christmas dreams come true. Here is your musical thought for the day:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Lieu of a Post . . .

. . . we offer a poem, my pretties, which is in no way holiday-related except that it expresses Moose's wish that Santa existed so that he could bring her a puppy for Christmas so that she could have a furry companion to go along with the human companion who walks with her on the long, arduous, lovely trail called life. The poem, by the Australian poet Petra White, was brought to our attention by our beloved Candy Man, our personal authority on all things Australian and many things poetic. Thank you, kind sir, for a beautiful poem and so much more.

And thanks to all of you for being such excellent furry and non-furry companions to all of us in Roxie's World. If you are traveling this holiday season, may your journeys be safe and joyous. If you are not, well, lucky you. The moms hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning for a few days in the Land of the Moosians. Details as time and circumstances allow. Meanwhile, the poem (which we found here):

Woman and Dog

A woman and a dog walked all day
beside the non-moving canal.
People who walk dogs displace themselves:

the dog sniffs and leads, harnesses
a human soul, spirit and flesh
willing or not. Its human-dog eyes

cradle the walkable world – a happy place –
a brimming here-and-yet. The canal
neither followed nor lagged behind.

There was the simplified world, on either side, green
fields and red houses. There was the little pub
they always got to.

So long they trudged, two bodies and one
soul, so many miles,
the paws began to bleed.

Little flecks of ruby blood glittered the black
rubbery pads, as if the dog was inking out
all the sadness of the woman.

And the woman, being just strong enough,
gathered up the dog (not a small one)
and carried it all the way home, wherever that was.

© Petra White

Don't you love that line, There was the simplified world? Let's take a long walk in the new year, darlings, and see if we can find it. Peace out.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice, Lunar Eclipse

Tonight (by which we mean after midnight, or Tuesday the 21st) is the longest night of the year, darlings -- the winter solstice. And tonight, in case you haven't heard, the moon will go into full eclipse, starting at 2:41 AM Eastern. When was the last time a total lunar eclipse occurred on the winter solstice? Oh, not long ago, as the universe reckons such things -- December 21, 1638, according to NASA by way of WaPo, which is where we picked up that pretty pic of a 2001 eclipse by AP photographer Heribert Proepper. We'll take NASA's word for it -- There were no photos in 1638 and no Intertoobs for speedily transmitting them upon. 1638: The Thirty Years' War ended in March of that year, and Anne Hutchison was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for heresy, also in March. We learned that on the Intertoobs, with a little help from our faithful research assistant, Wick E. Pedia.  Oh, and King Louis XIV of France was born, on September 5.

What does it mean, this remarkable convergence of astronomical shenanigans? Two things at least, my pretties: 1. As of tomorrow, the days start getting longer, which dramatically increases the possibility that life will start sucking less. 2. My typist has a certain cheesy song from 1983 stuck in her head, and the only way to get it out is to pass it along to you. I am so very sorry for subjecting you to it, but it's a bitterly cold night and her grades aren't finished yet. We simply must get the cheesy song out of her head.

Peace out, darlings. Snuggle up to something, for dog's sake, lest you freeze to death -- or fall apart.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Today in Gay

It Gets Better -- according to a small, brave group of openly gay college presidents, who made this video, which we picked up here, at the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and which you should watch in case you find yourself, on this chilly Friday before Christmas, feeling the need for an uplifting message about hard work, visibility, and success:

It Gets Worse -- or certainly could, according to our pal, Columbia law prof Katherine Franke, who kills the buzz about the prospect of finally ending the odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy by pointing out that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military is likely to lead to a significant increase in hazing, harassment, and violence toward such service members, at least in the short term. Considering the military's (horrible) record "of preventing and prosecuting violence against female service members under the current regime," Franke observes, "why should we think they’d do any better in addressing harassment and violence against lesbians and gay men?" Good question! Go read the whole piece, especially if you have been eagerly awaiting the day when donning now your gay apparel would mean dressing up like the guys on the left rather than the happy fellow on the right.

Whatever you wear, darlings, be fabulous and have fun! Peace out.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Party Glasses

(Photo Credit: Moose, on her iPhone, somewhere in the swamps o' Jersey, 12/5/10)

Did we or did we not assure you in our previous (kinda grouchy) post that the moms had "ordered a fresh supply of half-full glasses to arrive in time to ring in the New Year?" Et voilà, mes amis. Here they are! Not half-full yet, but they will be. You see? I told you everything would be fine in Roxie's World.

OK, technically, the part about ordering the glasses above isn't true. And the whole fine thing might be slightly exaggerated, too, but have faith, kids. We'll muddle through.

The whole truth, no stretchers: The incredibly happy glasses in the picture were pressed into service for a champagne toast at a wonderful celebration the moms attended last weekend in honor of the 91st birthday of one of the last of the Bonus Moms. Ninety-one! Wow. Way to go, JZ!

Anyway, you know how my typist loves a riot of bright colors backlit by the sun. We thought we'd toss up this photo to remind us of warmth and longevity on an evening when Goose is far, far away, and a patch of cold, nasty weather is about to roll into town. Why? Because otherwise we would feel compelled to do a Debbie Downer post on the death and funeral of Elizabeth Edwards. Or a Sally Snark post on the Big Dawg's triumphant return to the White House yesterday to save the skinny a$$ of the sorry Little Pup currently living there. (Please go read Dan Balz's bedazzled report, which was the lead story in the dead-tree edition of today's WaPo, on Clinton's unparalleled wonkery and his undiminished political acumen. Then go watch the vid of Obama and Clinton together in the briefing room, as Clinton cogently and non-defensively explains the importance of supporting the imperfect agreement on taxes Obama managed to strike with congressional Republicans this week. The moment [which comes at about the 10:50 mark in the vid] when Obama says he has to go because he's got to join the First Lady at some holiday event and Big Dawg practically pushes him out the door so he can go on explaining how it is, still and always, the economy, stupid? Priceless. Watch the whole thing and tell us if you think we're crazy to fantasize that there ought to be two Clintons in Obama's cabinet. Bye-bye, Geithner. Hello, Blue Eyes! Tell us again how we gotta keep this goin' so we don't slip back into recession.)

But like we said, kids, we are not going to blog about any of those things. You've got your eye candy and a couple of luscious links to follow. Knock yourselves out -- It's Saturday night. Moose is going to light a fire, nuke some leftovers, and curl up with whatever movie she can find that Goose probably wouldn't want to watch. Good times, people, good times.

And here: We love you so much we are just going to embed that vid of Clinton in the briefing room. You don't even have to click away to enjoy it. Peace out.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Not Catching the Reverb

Are you curious to know why Roxie's World is not participating in #reverb10, the super-groovy end-of-year online initiative to get folks to reflect on what's happened in the current year and "send out reverberations for the year ahead"? I mean, gosh, we love nothing better than a bit of navel-gazing, especially when it's combined with the blogging equivalent of a group hug. Plus, you know, we've been known to go a little yogic on y'all from time to time, and some of our bestest blog buds have hopped on board the reverb train. (Love you, girls. Mean it. You are doing some great work in connection with this project, and we look forward to reading every single word.)

Here's the thing, kids. We thought about giving #reverb10 a shot, because we get all goose-bumpy over any opportunity to make our blogging part of a communal, collective adventure. I mean, hell, we're a dog blog, dudes -- We wanna be part of a pack! Shoot, we were even willing to consider committing to posting every fricking day for a month -- on prompts designed by total strangers who seem to have consumed quite a bit more herbal tea than we have! -- in an effort to be a part of this endeavor.

And then my typist sat down and looked at the prompts and realized we couldn't attend this party, because if we did we'd end up misbehaving. We'd either be the wiseacre standing in the corner, dumping a poisonous barrel of snarkitude into a babbling brook of earnestness and sincerity, or we'd be the Debbie Downer, killing everybody's buzz by yammering on relentlessly "about a new disease, a car accident or killer bees." Don't believe a dead dog? Well, take a look at the notes my typist made on the first few prompts:

December 1 -- One Word: Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. That's easy: D E A T H.  Because that's what happened every time we turned around this year in Roxie's World. We started the year grieving the end of the embodied life of the beloved critter who inspired this quirky little corner of the blogosphere. Halfway through, we mourned the loss of the equally beloved Mother of the Goosians. And we haven't even bothered to acknowledge in this space the recent death of a dear friend whom many of you may know as the director of the best film the Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strikes Back. We're big into Bonus Moms around here, but we only had one Bonus Dad, and that was Kersh. He's gone. That sucks. Our hope is that the grim reaper will leave us the hell alone in 2011. Enough already, 'k?

December 2 -- Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it? Apparently, you're not supposed to count blogging as part of writing, so it would appear that pretty much every thing I do every waking hour of nearly every day of my life does not contribute to my writing. Which is, in its way, like, really impressive!

December 3 -- Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). Piece of cake: That would be the moment when I felt myself falling forward on a set of concrete stairs, knowing that when I landed something was going to break. That moment is vividly described here.

December 4 -- Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? By being continually overwhelmed and befuddled, leading me to wonder things like, Who the frack is going to die next? Will Obama and the Dems ever manage to get anything right? Why do I not feel grateful that I broke my left wrist rather than my right one?

December 5 -- Let Go.  What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? A whole lot of dead people and critters, dammit, because that's what the universe seems to have decided I will do.

December 6 -- Make.  What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? A delicious Thanksgiving dinner that was kinda sorta very nearly interrupted by -- Oh, never mind. See prompt for December 1. Yes, the pies helped.

See what I mean, kids? I really don't think you want the surly girls of Roxie's World messing with the happy vibe of #reverb10. Don't worry. They'll recover their equanimity soon. We've ordered a fresh supply of half-full glasses to arrive in time to ring in the New Year. In the meantime, click on over to our forward-looking pals Clio Bluestocking and Dr. Crazy and see what they are planning to (wo)manifest in 2011. You go, girls, while we curl up here by the fire, cover our heads with our paws, and quietly hope we'll get through next year with fewer casualties.

Peace out, darlings, and for dog's sake, stay alive!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Feisty Old Broad of the Week

And it's only Wednesday! I know, I know, the regulars are thinking, Wait just a goldurned minute -- Roxie's World has never had a "Feisty Old Broad of the Week." Not that I object or anything, but is this just a cheap, quick way to throw up a post in the midst of late-semester madness? To which we can only reply: Hell to the yeah, darlings! You betcha!

Anyhoo, back to our FOB of the W. Her name is Betsy Stanford. She lives in Northwest DC. She just turned 107. And she earns the FOB of the W prize because she shares our fundamental belief, which we might have stolen from someone else, that everything bad is good for you. For example, what does Betsy recommend you eat if you would like to live to be a spry century + seven? Why, anything! she tells WaPo. Everything!

"Juicy steaks . . . pork chops - as much as you want!" Stanford exclaims. "Everything they say not to eat, I've been eating it since I was 45 years old." (Puzzled aside from my typist: Why the late start, Betsy? I've been eating badly from the day I met my first Cheeto back in nursery school.)

And what's her idea of a pick-me-up? A smoothie, of course,"made of Guinness stout mixed with the nutritional supplement Ensure, a drop of vanilla flavoring and a sprinkle of nutmeg 'if [the stout] is too bitter.'"

A 107-year-old church-going lady who drinks stout? Oh, yeah, Stanford says: "I drink stout. It's good for you, baby!"

A smoothie made out of Guinness and Ensure? Oh, Betsy, my swooning typist says, can I hang out with you in the retirement center? Can we play Bingo in the afternoons and spend our evenings getting loopy on Guinness while we yell about all the morons on the teevee?

Get a grip, Moose. Betsy's game of choice is Scrabble, but she isn't even in a retirement home. She still lives in the home she moved into with her husband in 1976. Ah, so among her other feisty qualities, Mrs. Stanford is an independent gal who has managed to age in place, thanks in part to an extended network of supportive, nearby family. (Stanford never gave birth, but she raised a nephew whose children consider her their grandmother.) That's a point worth keeping in mind as we ponder the question of how to age well -- and we do ponder that question 'round here, pretty regularly in fact.

Wevs, kids, let's raise a pint -- hold the Ensure, please, for now -- to Betsy Stanford, for proving once again that being what the nutri-nazis and the pleasure phobes call bad can do a soul good. (As we noted just the other day in calling your attention to Richard Klein's tantalizing "The Case Against Health.") It's good for you, baby! We'll drink to that, Mrs. Stanford, and to you. Live well, live long, and speak the truth. Peace out.

(Betsy Stanford, center, at her birthday celebration at Wesley United Methodist Church. Photo Credit: Jahi Chikwendiu, Washington Post.)

(Guinness image picked up here.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What Remains

Scroll down to the previous post to see what Moose's Thanksgiving pies looked like on Thursday morning. Here is what they looked like at 3 PM Eastern today:

(Photo, Food Prep, Styling, and Considerable Eating by Moose, 11/28/10)

That is all, darlings. It's been a long, long weekend. There's laundry to be folded and a certain amount of decompressing to be done. And the last two teaching weeks of the semester begin tomorrow. Time for a couple of Tums, a deep, cleansing breath, and some quiet time before the fire to steel ourselves for what lies ahead. We hope you had a joyous holiday and managed to avoid ending up with, um, stitches in your lip.

Speaking of what remains, if you are trying to figure out what to do with the rest of your bird, here is a great recipe for a white chili with turkey from our good friends over at "Food Porn for the Conscientious," Cooking Light. Just 217 calories per one cup serving!

If, on the other hand, you've decided to stay on board the party train and are looking for allies in the noble cause of pursuing pleasure, we highly recommend this fascinating piece by Richard Klein that was in the Chronicle last week. "The Case Against Health" (an adaptation of Klein's contribution to this cool-looking new collection from NYU Press) argues that "the official version of health" peddled in the United States today is a deeply moralizing, complexly political, and potentially noxious Puritanism that "views the least indulgence in adult pleasure as the sign of a nascent habit on the way to becoming a dangerous compulsion." Klein locates an alternative and, as it were, healthier model of health in the pleasure- and body-affirming tradition that comes down to us from Epicurus. We were tickled to see that Klein holds up Julia Child as a contemporary exemplar of Epicureanism, noting that "Whenever anyone asked [Child] to name her guilty pleasures, she responded, 'I don't have any guilt.'" Go read the article. And then, dammit, go polish off the last of that pecan pie. You deserve it!

Ah, Julia, a woman without guilt? No wonder we heart you so! Peace out, pleasure-lovers, and have a happy tomorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Aunt Pie

(Photo Credit, Food Prep & Styling: Moose, 11/24/10)

Happy Thanksgiving, darlings! Thanks for popping in to share a small slice of your holiday with your pals in Roxie's World. We hope that you are settled in for a happy day of feasting and fun. We are. The out-of-towners (the older Moosian siblings and their straight-married spouses) arrived yesterday without overly zealous government frisking. (They drove.) The sweet potato and carrot soup has been made, without a repeat of last year's unfortunate blender malfunction that resulted in hot soup exploding all over the stove, countertop, floor, and, um, Moose. A large batch of grandmother Janie's olives is chilling out on the porch, ready and waiting for cocktail hour. The superb cranberry chutney is in the fridge, jacked up with an extra half cup of port, thanks to Moose's poor skill with numbers. (She was increasing the recipe by half and ended up doubling the amount of port. Oopsy doopsy, darlings! What's a girl to do?) The bird is brining quietly in the cooler.

And the pecan pies pictured above are snuggled up next to the apple and pumpkin pies that the guests brought for the dessert extravaganza destined to precede the traditional post-prandial screening of Best in Show.

Y'all know the moms are pretty good cooks. They are not, as a rule, big bakers, but come holiday time Moose becomes a pie chef, because the ritual requires it. She embraces the role with joy, reveling in the opportunity to plunge her hands into flour and the deep culinary herstory that pie-making carries with it. The Mother of the Moosians (who will celebrate Thanksgiving with the family of her oldest grandchild today) was a mighty fine pie-maker in her day, so fine in fact that the cousins of Moose's generation called her "Aunt Pie" instead of "Aunt Pat." For decades, Moose avoiding pie-making because she was sure she could never make a crust as light and flaky and perfect as the ones her mom would make. So now, when she takes up the task at Thanksgiving, she spends those happy moments lightly mixing the flour and the Crisco doing her best to summon up her mother's sure, delicate touch.

Moose and Goose are partial to pecan pies. The recipe they use is a version of the delicious pies Goose's Aunt Inelle whipped up for the family gatherings of Goose's Texas girlhood. The mother of the Goosians shared the recipe with Moose one Christmas when the moms were in Austin. "Inelle always added a couple of tablespoons of bourbon to her pies," Mozelle explained to Moose with a twinkle in her eye. Which means, of course, that every year when Moose pulls the bourbon out of the liquor cabinet during pie-making, she pauses to send up a good thought in memory of Aunt Inelle. And this year, she paused to note that this was the first Thanksgiving in twenty-six years that she wouldn't have a holiday phone call with her beloved mother-out-law.

Ah, there it is: the poignant side of the holidays -- that moment in the midst of the celebration when we pause to reflect upon who is not at the table, who will not walk in the door and wrap us in a bear hug, who will not wag a tail in eager anticipation of a morsel of turkey that just might fall to the floor.

Party on, beloveds. You have so much to be thankful for. Here is Moose's pecan pie recipe, which combines the Silver Palate recipe with the aforementioned touches of Texas spirit. (We picked up the Silver Palate recipe here.)

Moose's Pecan Pie


4 eggs
1 C. brown sugar
3/4 C. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. melted sweet butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 C. shelled pecans, chopped
9-inch unbaked pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
1/3 C. shelled pecan halves


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the pastry.

Beat eggs well in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, melted butter, and vanilla to the eggs, and mix thoroughly.

Sprinkle chopped pecans in pastry-lined pan. Pour egg mixture over pecans. Arrange pecan halves around edge of filling next to crust for decoration. (NB: Moose just mixes the chopped pecans in with the egg mixture and pours them all into the pastry shell together.)

Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for one hour.

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Note: The Silver Palate recipe calls for starting the pie at 450 degrees for ten minutes and then lowering the temperature to 325 for another 25-30 minutes, which makes the pie more candy-like. Moose prefers the softer pie that results from longer baking at a lower temperature.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Refusal, Resignation, Resistance

(Image Credit: Steve Garfield's photostream on Flickr)

(Brief Note from the Office of Snort-Inducing Visual Allusions: In the unlikely event that you missed Glee this week and need a recap to understand the left side of the above image, go here. In the even more unlikely event that you don't get the right side of the above image because you think Sally Field made it big through Boniva commercials, go here.)

Once upon a time several weeks ago, before the mania for Xtranormal cartoons and the pressures of November interrupted the flow of normal blogging around here, we intended to weigh in on a conversation about salary stagnation in higher education that our pal Tenured Radical started late in October. We return to the subject now because it still seems important, as evidence of faculty discontent and institutional desperation continues to mount.  First, we direct your attention to some extraordinary tidbits from those earlier posts that convey the deep anger and demoralization faculty are experiencing as the expectation that they will do more while earning less begins to seem like a permanent rather than a temporary condition of their work lives. Tenured Radical lays down a line in the sand, declaring her “bottom line” on the pressure on faculty to earn additional income (for themselves and their institutions) by teaching, in effect as adjuncts, for summer and winter extension programs. Acknowledging the reality of financial problems in higher ed and the need for restructuring at her own institution, she nonetheless offers up a fiery je refuse to the idea that faculty should take on extra labor to make up for the inadequacies in compensation for the work they have already contracted to do.

“I refuse to sell myself for less than I am worth,” she declares. “I refuse to contribute to the casualization of academic labor; and I refuse to do what is essentially volunteer work for my employer.”

That has the feel of an oath or a pledge, doesn’t it, kids? Raise your right paw and repeat after me: I refuse to sell myself for less than I am worth, dammit!

TR, who is 52 and has committed to retiring at 65, ends the post by dangling before us the possibility of her leaving academia to become a fulltime writer.

Meanwhile, over at Historiann, there was talk of an atmosphere of resignation among the tenured faculty, of postponing completion of second books because merit and promotion raises are currently miniscule or nonexistent, of feeling disinclined to take on service commitments when class sizes have increased and there is steadily more work for fewer people to do. “We’re all turning into Alfred E. Neumans,” Historiann sardonically quips, “captioned by ‘What – me bother?’” That sad joke brought an even sadder figure to Moose’s mind -- Hurstwood from Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), who ends his life in a flophouse with a weary, “What’s the use?” after his prosperity and prestige have slipped away through a series of poor judgments and failures to adjust to changing circumstances.

What’s the use? Is that what we’ve come to, my pretties? In truth, I don’t think we have, and I include Tenured Radical and Historiann in that royal, bloggy “we.” In these gestures of refusal and resignation, the queer optimists of Roxie’s World choose to see encouraging signs of an overdue resistance to the grim and getting grimmer conditions of academic work in the 21st century. We want to keep the resistance going. We want to see it get broader and deeper and more concrete. In raising our paws and taking our own oath against collaborating further in the casualization of our labor, we would like to start a conversation about steps faculty might take or changes they might advocate that would make more efficient use of faculty time. That's right, kids: Efficiency. We can play that game, too!

Here then are our Faculty Tips for Surviving in the Age of Excellence Without Money (™RW Enterprises, LLC). Read 'em. Add to 'em. Live 'em -- Unless you secretly long to end up starring in the next viral video of the Professor Who Totally Lost It.

Refuse to take on independent studies. That won’t really hurt students, who tend to take independent studies as much for the sake of scheduling convenience as to satisfy a burning desire to conduct research that couldn’t be undertaken within the context of a regular course. Special note to the untenured: You should say no to independent studies under any and all circumstances. They are major time sinks. You get no credit for them, and they take away from the already limited time and energy you have available for the work that will matter come tenure time. The clock is ticking! Say NO!

Refuse to take on service roles that feel pointless and don’t advance the cause of shared governance. Example: Conducting merit reviews in years when there is no merit money. The argument has always been that you do the reviews anyway so that the money can be awarded retrospectively on that magical day when the bronze turtle out in front of the library turns into a pot of gold. Bull$hit. Conduct the review if and when the funds materialize. Stop wasting our under-compensated time in the meantime.

Reduce the size of thesis, exam, and dissertation committees. In the moms’ department, for example, dissertation committees have four members from inside the department and one from outside. Lop off one of those insiders, and the student is still assured a range of input and an adequate supply of recommendation writers. This seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Efficiency means that you don't need too many cooks hanging around the kitchen arguing over the meaning of the recipe, right?

Scale back the surveillance/mentoring of junior faculty, which crossed the fine line between helpful and pathological about two years ago. Moose jokes that junior faculty are observed so frequently that their classes might as well be co-taught. She heard tell recently of a department that conducts a fifth-year review before tenure – on top, no doubt, of an extensive second- or third-year review. Don’t get us wrong. We adore our junior colleagues and want more than anything to see them succeed, but we are not convinced that constant monitoring is in their or the department’s best interest. For dog’s sake, people, you admired these young whippersnappers enough to hire them – How about just letting them do the job? Paging Goldilocks. Goldilocks, come in, please. Can we strive for just right when it comes to the amount of adult supervision the untenured are forced to endure and the tenured are asked to supply?

Similarly, dial back on the number of external reviewers required for tenure and promotion, which slipped into crazy territory about a decade ago. Srsly, folks, given the size of some fields in the age of hyper-specialization, it's darn near impossible to find six people that candidates haven't known in either a biblical or dissertational sense. I know that the point of having a bazillion letters is to limit or offset the damage of a negative letter, but how large and loud does the chorus of praise really need to be? Imagine the sighs of relief that would be heard across the land if four reviewers became the standard again in the humanities. When was the last time you saw a department chair turning cartwheels in the center of your campus, darling?

Unionize if you can; work like hell to make your faculty senate an effective advocate on workload and compensation issues if you can't. A recent study suggests unionization "'greatly increases faculty influence' over faculty salary scales, individual faculty salaries, and the appointments of academic department heads and of members of institutionwide committees."

So, what do you think? What would you add to our list? What are you planning to do to feel a little less miserable in your work life? Tell us! Best suggestion will get made into an Xtranormal cartoon featuring the feisty and entirely fictional rabble-rouser, Professor Louise Sawyer. Call me crazy, but I think Louise looks an awful lot like you. Peace out, proffies, and have a better tomorrow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Resistance Is Futile

Please let me in, Mr. President. I mean, srsly, what. have. you. got. to. lose? People are saying this joint has already gone to the dogs. Let's make it literal, and at least you'll know you've got one true pal. Lemme in. Lemme IN. Lemme IN already!

(First Dog of the United States, Bo, peers into the Oval Office from the Colonnade of the White House. Photo Credit: Pete Souza, the White House, via.)

That is all, darlings. We stumbled across this photo and thought it was a succinct way to do some political venting and indulge our dog-lust, which is considerable among the dogless dog people of Roxie's World at the moment. Moose blames the impending holidays. Wevs. You know it's bad when you get misty-eyed over the pic on the Dog of the Day Calendar.

How're things in your neck of the woods, kids? Here's hoping there is a pink-tongued bundle of love standing outside your door. Fer dog's sake, would ya let it in already? Peace out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Excellence Without Money: The Movie

Raise your hand if you had figured Excellence Without Money (™RW Enterprises, LLC) would be the title of our second contribution to the Disgruntled Academic Animated Short Film Festival that has been going on in the blogosphere lately. Good for you, darlings. You know us well, and you have been paying very close attention, as always.

Well, here it is, just in time for your weekend movie-watching pleasure. In this followup to our debut flick, "I Want to be Promoted," Professor Louise Sawyer (who, as we told you before, is entirely fictional) sits down with her (also 100% imaginary) dean to discuss the budget for the (nonexistent) program Professor Sawyer directs. Sparks fly as the two women debate the relationship between resources and (insert groaning sound here) excellence.

Moose is so fond of our latest cinematic masterpiece that she is considering taking it to La La Land for the MLA Convention in January, where she will be presenting on a roundtable (that will include our blog boyfriend Chris Newfield and MLA Exec Direc Rosemary Feal!) called "New Tools, Hard Times: Social Networking and the Academic Crisis." The session is part of a series of panels and workshops on the timely theme of "The Academy in Hard Times." What do you think, kids: PowerPoint or snarky cartoon? Snarky cartoon or PowerPoint? Leave your votes in comments, please.

Oh, and lest there be any confusion: Our film is in no way intended as a response to this peculiar little video that was flying around the campus of QTU this week at the behest of an extremely high-ranking administrator. Nope, not no way, not no how. Far be it from us to try to figure out whether building a car is anything at all like running a university or whether the color beige is the universal signifier of the opposite of excellence. No, my darlings, such conundrums are way beyond our (furlough-depressed) pay grade. Just watch the movie. Send it to your favorite adjunct or, if you dare, your favorite dean. Feel free to pass it along with our motto: Serious times call for unserious responses. Or, pass it along with this handy little phrase, Excellentia sine pecunia. That's "Excellence Without Money" in Latin, of course. Big wigs just love fancy-sounding foreign phrases, especially in dead languages!

Have a lovely weekend, my pretties, and enjoy the show. The soundtrack for this one? I'm thinking it's gotta be R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." That sound about right to you? Yeah, I thought so. Peace out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"I am an Eater of Chips"

Dear Mr. President,

Next time you sit down with a comedian, you might want to click on this vid a few times beforehand, just to see how it's done. Yep, this gal's got some serious comic chops, Mr. President. She can sit down with a couple of Aussie snark wizards, crack 'em up with some dead-pan looks and a couple of well-timed jokes about potato chips, and probably still create world peace by dinner time. Meantime, you are -- Oh, well, never mind, sir. We know you've had a rough couple of weeks. Everybody deserves to get out of town every now and again. Anyway, that SOS of yours -- Heck, Mr. President, she's so funny we're thinking of trying to snag her for our next Intertoob cartoon sensation. We think she'd be a huge hit with our core audience of hormonally unbalanced feminazis. Would you, um, let her know we'd like to talk to her? I mean, you know, if you happen to run into her somewhere in your travels. Tell her that we, too, are eaters of chips. Big time, as a former vice president used to say.

Anyway, sir, click on the vid. You'll be glad you did. Honor bright. Oh, and if you'd like a little insight into the incredible meltdown of your presidency, click on over to our old pal Anglachel, who is suddenly blogging up a storm again, mostly upon that very subject. You may not like what you read there, but, well, the truth, like election results, may hurt sometimes. We still think it's worth knowing. Dogspeed, Mr. President. We wish you all the best.

Yours sincerely,

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I Want to be Promoted

Blame it on Tenured Radical. She jumped onto the Xtranormal bandwagon earlier this week with a side-splitting text-to-movie cartoon about a tenured professor demanding a raise from a priggish, tight-fisted department chair. Her directorial debut followed on the heels of the brilliantly sardonic tale of a naive yet determined undergraduate seeking a letter of recommendation from a jaded professor, "So, You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities." Finally, at the end of the week, thanks to Facebook, we stumbled across a masterful bit of dreamwork, "One Professor's Fantasy," which finally answers the question, "What would you say to slacker students if you were supremely clever and didn't give a rat's hind end about what might happen if you said what you were actually thinking?"

We're thinking it's just a matter of time before the Academy Awards adds a new category, "Animated Short Films by Disgruntled Academics." That's why my typist spent most of this week -- when she wasn't teaching, presenting a paper, preparing for a dissertation defense, or conceding defeat in her campaign to become governor of Maryland -- working up Roxie's World's first foray into video blogging. Hey, she set up a YouTube channel for us and everything! Our debut film is a heart-breaking work of staggering silliness also focused on life after tenure in the age of Excellence Without Money (™RW Enterprises, LLC).

Couple o' things you need to know before you gather 'round the laptop for your first viewing of "I Want to be Promoted":

1. The soundtrack for the film would, of course, be this song, which has been banging around in Moose's head for the entire week as she fiddled with Xtranormal's not especially user-friendly interface. Please click on that link so that the song will move out of her head and into yours. Please. Give a working girl a break, will ya?

2. The film is a work of fiction. Totes. Swear to dog. It depicts a conversation that never took place between two people who do not exist, though the clever might detect an allusion or two to this also fictional work. That means the Huck Finn rule applies:
PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
Interpret at your own risk.

3. Despite being a work of the imagination, the film makes reference to certain true facts of academic life, most notably that standards for tenure and promotion have changed significantly over time and vary widely from institution to institution. As for the claim that as late as 1969 a third of American professors did not have PhDs, we ran across it in Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University. Page 121.

OK, kids. It's time to press play! Be kind in your reviews, and then run on over to Xtranormal and get in on the action yourself. Ballots for next year's Oscar noms go out December 27! See you on the red carpet, darlings. It's never too late to become a star, is it? Is it?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day 2010

Good morning, citizens! It's Election Day! Time to get our sorry a$$es out the door and party like it's, um, oh, you know, 1994! Raise your hand if you are old enough to remember that long, strange night. If your hand is up, tell us if you think it's worse to have been pretty much in the dark about what was coming in 1994 or to have been beaten over the head for months and months with confident predictions about the size, scale, and nature of the bloodbath, as has been the case this time. Tough call, isn't it? Me, I don't know, I'm thinking a little more ignorance might have been a lot more blissful, but, hey, it ain't over till the votes have been counted, right? Right?

Get out there and do your duty, and remember: If you are a Maryland state employee bitter about furloughs and underfunded pension obligations, you can write in Moose for governor. She's running on a platform of no more furloughs, legal (and taxable) marijuana, and an end to state-sponsored marriage for everybody.

Moose: Responsible Radicalism for Ridiculous Times

Speaking of responsible, Moose has to vote and teach today, so she can't sit around typing for me all day. Spend a couple of minutes watching this odd slideshow WaPo did on how "ordinary voters" are feeling about government on the brink of the election. The first voter featured has her hands on her cheeks in a gesture reminiscent of Edvard Munch's The Scream and describes the government as "freedom-robbing." Which made us want to, you know, scream. Anyhoo, kids, have a great day and remember: We survived impeachment over a blow job. We survived the stealing of an election. We have survived -- so far -- nine seasons of American Idol. I feel confident we can endure whatever the results of today's election might bring. Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Peace out.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear

Or, Irony in Defense of Liberty Is No Vice

Uh, really? You sure about that? You'd think the committed ironists of Roxie's World would be on board with the above proposition, which was impressively affirmed on the National Mall yesterday at the joint rally staged by Comedy Central fake news geniuses Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

For darn near five years, after all, this blog has offered up a steady diet of parody, irony, and satire as ways of criticizing and coping with the social and political madnesses of our civilization [sic]. We believe with all our hearts that hypocrites in high places deserve the calling to account Stewart delivers night after night on his show. We believe that comedy is a supremely effective means of truth-telling and that humor is essential to the health of the body politic in a democracy. (For more on this subject, see this illuminating 2008 conversation between Moose and the patron saint of irony in Roxie's World, Mark Twain.) We are also hip enough to get that media critique and signs mocking the tradition of carrying signs ("Americans for . . . oh look! A puppy!") are politically potent gestures. And we are not worried that the 200,000+ citizens gathered on the Mall the Saturday before election day should have been out knocking on doors or calling up registered voters to urge them to get their sorry a$$es to the polls come Tuesday. Such calls are mostly automated these days, and nobody answers their doors to anyone who shows up on the doorstep with a Bible or a clipboard in hand anyway.

So, why did the moms walk away from the Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear with a feeling roughly similar to the message on this sign?

It's hard to say, really. The moms don't usually do indifference. It could be their reactions to the rally were impaired by the struggle required to get there. They didn't reach the Mall until nearly 2 PM, in part because Moose insisted that her personal restoration of sanity required her to attend her Saturday morning yoga class before heading downtown and in part because Washington's Metro system was overwhelmed by the crowds trying to get to the rally. (The crowds were sizable, yes, but the real problem was that Metro didn't have enough trains running and stuck to a schedule of weekend maintenance that meant north- and south-bound trains were sharing a single track in some of the busiest parts of the system.) Once they got there, the audio was so bad it was hard to know what you were hearing (Hey, um, is that Tony Bennett? Wow, yeah, OK, Tony Bennett!), and the crowd was packed in so tight it was hard to see anything but the jacket of the person in front of you.

As veteran march and rally attenders, the moms were prepared for that special sardines-in-a-can feeling you get at big public events in relatively small spaces, but in this case they couldn't shake the feeling that the crowd was all there was to the event. From where they stood, it felt like the political equivalent of Seinfeld, a show famously described as being "about nothing." The signs participants carried were, as coverage has noted, all over the map and frequently off the wall. The most consistent political message the moms noted was support for legalizing marijuana. We are down with that idea, kids, but its prominence at the Rally for Sanity left the impression that the politics of the event, such as they were, were a hollow libertarianism that strikes us as inadequate to the urgencies of the present. It's impressive that Stewart and Colbert were able to draw such an enormous crowd to the nation's most sacred political/civic space, but to us it was sad that participants were asked to do so little once they got there. "Don't litter," Stewart repeatedly implored the crowd. Cute, Jon. Would it have killed you to tuck in a mild suggestion that folks get their sorry a$$es to the polls come Tuesday? Apparently, it would have. In remarks after the rally, Stewart rejected the idea that he should have done that, saying, "I think people should do what moves them. It's not my place to make that choice for them." Indeed, his closing words to the attendees suggest that, even in Stewart's mind, the crowd really was the point: "If you want to know why I’m here and [what] I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted" (emphasis added).

Media prof Jeff Jarvis seems to have had a better experience on the ground than the moms did, and his commentary (H/T Dog-Eared Book) offers a more optimistic takeaway than we can offer here. Jarvis is right to call out coverage of the event that dismisses it as mere entertainment. It wasn't that, but as a political action it was pretty underwhelming, even if we appreciate it as a mass act of media criticism, which we do. We saw lots of signs lambasting Fox News and other purveyors of disinformation and a few, like the one below, criticizing new media tools we habitually use:

We paid tribute recently to candlelight vigils, video campaigns, and other political gestures that may not change the world but perform the vital function of creating opportunities for people to demonstrate their determination to be kind rather than unkind. Perhaps the Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear was for those who organized it and many who attended it an event of that sort. For us, it felt unsatisfying to stand on that ground, where countless citizens, ourselves included, have stood over the years for great causes and high stakes, and to feel purposeless. Called to nothing, we groused that our cell phones couldn't find a signal that would have enabled us to call others. When the rally was over, we wandered off to the National Museum of American Art and killed time in the Norman Rockwell exhibit, chuckling mildly over the contrast between the goofy ironies of the spectacle we had witnessed on the street and the utter lack of irony in the paintings on the wall. En route, Moose snapped a last shot of the thinning crowd ambling past the National Archives. It seemed fitting to her that the people in the picture are out of focus. Alas.

Peace out, fellow citizens, and a Happy Halloween to you. And please do get your sorry a$$es to the polls come Tuesday. This morning, over coffee, Goose slammed down the Times and muttered with disgust, "Idiot voters and hapless Democrats." The remark captured the state of the nation on the precipice of this election more clearly than the thousands of words of prognostication Moose read in the WaPo over on her side of the breakfast table. Idiot voters and hapless Democrats: That's where we are, but is it where we have to be, darlings? You tell us. Please.

(Photo Credits: Moose, 10/30/10.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Days Like This

Rather than apologizing for yet another prolonged blog silence, we'll post a picture of a cute little lion cub at the National Zoo being tossed into the chilly water of a moat to see if it can swim before it is too big and dangerous for a human trainer to be in the water with it. You may regard this photo, which was above the fold on the front page of the dead-tree edition of today's WaPo, as an apt metaphor for -- take your pick -- the state of the moms at midterm, the state of the Dems at midterm, or the state of your own frantic self paddling around in a chilly moat of student papers and meetings and assorted impossible expectations. The cub has no name yet. Feel free to call him by yours.

(Photo Credit: Karen Bleier, Agence France Presse, via.)

Welcome to the world, little fella. Sink or swim. Suck it up, dude, but try not to suck in a mouthful of dead leaves in the process. That would be unpleasant.

Meanwhile, in lieu of a post, which would require brain power that isn't currently available, here are a couple of updates and delectable treats from the Intertoobs and other places:

  • The write-in campaign to make Moose governor of Maryland, launched here last week by one of our very prettiest readers, has taken off like a shot! Sister blogger Clio Bluestocking, who actually resides in the state, promised her vote via the Twitters, while Tenured Radical generously promoted the campaign over at her place. Meanwhile, on Facebook, we've been flattered to note the spontaneous emergence of an Out-of-State Straight Guys for Moose caucus, headed up by a much loved pal and new blogger, the author of Benglish, who has vowed to ride naked through the streets of Philadelphia if Moose prevails. Latest polls show that Gov. Martin "You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy" O'Malley has widened his already impressive lead over former Gov. Bob "Big Hair" Ehrlich. O'Malley is now 14 points ahead among likely voters, as even the state's registered Republicans -- yes, both of them -- seem to have lost confidence that their guy can prevail. That means, of course, that state employees angry that the fauxgressive O'Malley decided to balance the budget on their backs, through salary freezes and furloughs, rather than through more broadly distributed fiscal sacrifices can feel free to vote their consciences -- by writing in Moose! -- without worrying that they'll run the risk of putting Ehrlich back in the governor's mansion. Need help writing in Moose's actual name? See the photo on this post.
  • Speaking of anger, frustration, and revenge, don't miss the amazing cluster of posts on rising dissatisfaction with stagnant academic salaries and non-stagnant workloads being produced this week by some of our bestest blog pals. Tenured Radical got the ball rolling on Monday; Historiann picked it up on Tuesday, prompting a followup from TR on the importance of organizing in order to combat the neoliberal policies that are destroying higher ed; Dr. Crazy gets in on the action today with a post that ends with a passionate call for leadership and vision on funding and the value of higher education. It's a great conversation to which we have little to contribute at the moment, beyond saying that we think this gal has some awesome thoughts on precisely the issues Dr. Crazy raises. Just sayin'.
  • Finally, as a follow-up to our optimistic assertion a couple of weeks ago that blogs come and go but blogging will abide for a good long while yet, we are pleased to announce the birth of a brand new blog by devoted reader and most excellent RL pal, June Starr, who is on leave this year and has launched an ambitious project to read and post her way through all 243 books shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize since its inception in 1969. Her blog, which Moose helped name because she is good at that sort of thing, is called Reading the Bookers. Give it a click, you bookworms, and show a new blogger some love. Have fun, June Starr, and please remember that when your blog is made into a major motion picture Meryl Streep should be cast in the role of the lifelong buddy whose insane adventures in online self-publication helped launch you into the blogosphere. Just sayin'.
That's all we got for now, kids. Except, of course, for the musical mood-matcher tucked in below, which will explain our post title to those who haven't yet figured it out. Mama was right, my little swimming lion cubs. There will be days like this, but soon enough you will find your way to the safety of dry land, and before too long you will be big enough to bite the hand of the jerk who tossed you into the water. Keep paddling, and keep eating. Tomorrow is another day. Peace out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

O'Malley v. MOOSE?

Or, Revenge of the Furloughed

On Sunday, WaPo endorsed Maryland Gov. Martin "You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy" O'Malley in his rematch with former Gov. Bob "Big Hair" Ehrlich. The editorial praises O'Malley for taking "tough, decisive steps" to close the budget deficits the state faced (thanks in part to Ehrlich) even before the recession seriously depleted revenues. It mildly chastises O'Malley for failing to take action on $33 billion in unfunded pension obligations but sharply criticizes Ehrlich for refusing to say how he would recover a measly $600 million in revenue that would be lost if his (nutty) idea to roll back a 2007 increase in the state's sales tax were to pass.

Let's see, though, what does the endorsement have to say about higher education? And about O'Malley's three years of furloughs (="temporary" pay cuts) for the state's 70,000 employees? I'm sorry, but I didn't hear you. What did the Washington Post endorsement have to say about tuition freezes and budget cuts and three straight years of asking state workers to do more and earn less?

am crickets 01 hpx sound bite

(Please click on that sound file. My typist is banging her head against her laptop in political frustration and won't be able to resume typing for the next little while, so you might as well do something to amuse yourself.)

So, things are looking good for "You, Sir." He snagged the endorsement that eluded him four years ago (when WaPo thought the mayor of Baltimore "had failed to make a persuasive case for toppling a generally proficient incumbent [Ehrlich]"). As we noted here a couple of weeks ago, O'Malley has also opened up an impressive lead over his opponent. Shoot, he'll even have the Big Dawg rallying for him Thursday in Baltimore! Polish up the saxophone, Bill! Here's one Dem who stands a chance of surviving the Screw Hope and Give Me Back My Change tsunami of 2010!

Despite all the happy news, it would appear that O'Malley's March to a second term isn't entirely thrilling the state workers whose pockets he has been picking for the past three years. (Not, I hasten to clarify, that we long for an Ehrlich Restoration, but, well, you know: three. years. of furloughs.) The evidence? Look what showed up in the in-box yesterday -- a photo of the absentee ballot of one of this blog's most faithful readers, a hard-working young QTU prof with a family to support and no patience left for fauxgressive Democrats who don't have the guts or the brains to explain that civilization costs money, fer dog's sake, and things will go better if we ALL pitch in our fair share rather than forcing a few to shoulder the burden for the rest of us!

Yes, fellow citizens, our beloved Candy Man has submitted a write-in vote for MOOSE as governor of Maryland! With less than two weeks to go until election day, it's a little late to be launching a campaign, but Moose is so flattered by the idea that she is thinking seriously about giving it a go. I mean, think about it. She is no crazier or less qualified than a lot of the nut jobs that have managed to get on the ballot in this loony election season. She would fix the budget by taxing the rich, booze, and marijuana, which she would decriminalize on her first day in office (H/T Joycelyn Elders!), just as soon as she ordered the state to stop issuing marriage licenses and find other ways to distribute benefits and protections that all citizens should enjoy regardless of their relationship status. She hasn't picked a running mate yet, but he will be pretty and smart and able to eat crabs without making a mess of himself. Goose will make an exceptional First Lady. Her pet project will, of course, be assuring access to high-quality, affordable education. We will call her initiative, um, Excellence With Boatloads of Money. She will travel the state giving her "The Humanities Are Not a Luxury" lecture to watermen and schoolchildren and waitresses who really do say, "Welcome to Bawlmer, hon." Today, at Chesapeake House, the First (I Ain't No) Lady of Maryland explains money, metaphor, and better thinking through poetry! Stop in for a Cinnabon with a side order of truth!

It's pretty to think so, isn't it, darlings? Politics got you down? Worried that the world is succumbing to furloughisme and other forms of short-sighted, destructive cowardice? Sick to death of the major parties but still too ticked off about the 2000 election to vote Green? Write in Moose for governor of Maryland.  Tough times require a tough broad with a sharp tongue and a big heart. Moose: Braver than Martin O'Malley, tall enough to leap over Barbara Mikulski in a single bound, every bit as liberal and very nearly as funny as Al Franken on her best days. Moose: She'll balance the budget and make sure there are no misplaced apostrophes on highway signs. Moose: Because Annapolis isn't quite queer enough.

Vote Moose. It won't be the stupidest thing you've ever done. Peace out, citizens.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The Humanities Are Not a Luxury"

Or, Goose Makes Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

September 30 was a day of apocalyptically bad weather in the Washington area. To say it was raining cats and dogs is to understate the case considerably. To say it was raining elephants and blue whales, with interludes of giraffes and hippopotamuses, comes closer, but even that doesn't quite capture the deep dreariness and tropical weirdness of the day.

In Roxie's World and on the campus of Queer the Turtle U, however, September 30 was a day of celebration and inspiration, as our very own Goose delivered her much anticipated lecture, "The Humanities Are Not a Luxury: A Manifesto for the 21st Century." The lecture was part of the prize package that went along with Goose winning a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award this year at QTU, which is a pretty big deal on account of just a handful are made each year. We grew to like the poster advertising the series of DS-T lectures, once we got used to an image that at first looked like Emily Dickinson was smoking crack through a saxophone. (One of Goose's fellow awardees is a sax player from the School of Music.)

Goose's 45-minute lecture, delivered to an overflow crowd of more than 200 weather-braving souls, was a stirring affirmation of the value of the humanities and a shrewd critique of the rhetoric of crisis that so often characterizes discussions of the field. The talk was by turns folksy and fiery, as Goose compellingly wove together insights gleaned from her career as a scholar of poetry and a builder of institutions with recent reflections on the state of the humanities by good guys like our blog boyfriend Chris Newfield. Lest you think we are something less than objective when it comes to our Goose, here's how the event has been described by a neutral observer from the QTU English department:
Throughout her lecture, Professor Smith was gracious and seemed jazzed to be addressing such an enthusiastic crowd.  She was warm, funny, and above all, impossibly smart.  Smith made profound historical connections between the humanities and their perceptions over time, musing upon the generative and integral nature of the humanities in academia.  Smith iterated the vital nature of humanities studies for our university, our collective histories, and our society.
"Impossibly smart": Well, yes, but you know she still has to ask Moose for help every time she wants to heat something up in the microwave. "Two and a half minutes on 7," Moose says patiently, knowing that all those deep thoughts in her partner's brain occasionally crowd out the mundane facts of daily life.

Follow that link, darlings, and you will be able to watch the tape of the whole fabulous shindig, including the hilarious and heartwarming introduction in which Goose sings and Moose interrupts the proceedings to correct a botched joke. Late in the lecture, Goose works in a clever reference to this humble blog by invoking the phrase excellence without money (™RW Enterprises, LLC) to describe the unrealistic expectations the public has for institutions of higher ed these days. We held off blogging about the occasion until the tape was available, but now it is, so there you are. Go watch it. You can't spend all day grading papers, and if you are grading on this impossibly beautiful autumn afternoon then you are probably in need of a little professional inspiration. Pop some corn, crack open a beer, and press play, my pretties. Rev. Goose is down front and has some testifyin' to do.

Congratulations, Goose, and thanks for bringing sunshine to us every single day. Sing it with us, kids. You know you want to: