Sunday, March 27, 2011

End of Spring Break Link & Photo Farm

Or, Notes on Stuff We'd Be Blogging About If We Had Time to Blog, Which We Don't Because My Typist Actually Took Something of a Break This Week and Now Has to Spend the Day Doing Everything She Was Pretending She'd Get Done Over "Break"

(Photo Credit: Moose, with Hipstamatic, 3/26/11. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.)

Big Love: Series Finale. It's been a week since (spoiler alert!) the queerest show on television ended its five-year run on HBO not with a whimper but a bang that liberated the three sister-wives of Bill Henrickson to fulfill the dreams of non-Mormon Sapphists from sea to shining sea. You know the burly girls of Roxie's World were pleased with the show's Thelma & Louise & Nicki denouement. Beyond that, we have little to say, except that we will miss a show that stayed so true to its characters and was so deeply intelligent about complex intimacies and, you know, one of the wackier religions ever to have gotten hatched on American soil. There's a lot of great stuff out there on the winding down of the show. Take a listen to Terry Gross's conversation with Big Love's creators, Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer, or check out Allyssa Lee's interview with them in the LA Times. It's kind of cute to see the show's two (gay, male, married [to each other]) chief architects seeming wounded and perplexed that the audience pretty much wanted Bill to die to get him out of the wives' way, while they saw his death as a way to preserve his vision without having to figure out how he would support his large family once he had lost Home Plus. Vision, schmision, the audience seemed to say. Kill Bill, and the sister-wives will figure it all out. Which the final scene, eleven months after Bill's death, makes clear is exactly what happened. You go, Barb, priest-holder you. Whatever the heck a priest-holder is. Margene Without Borders, we heart you. And Nicki, we're pleased to see you found the milk of human kindness we always hoped was flowing somewhere beneath your sociopathic surface.

Anyway, for commentary on Big Love's big ending, click over to Undine, Troy Williams, and, again, Allyssa Lee.

College Basketball: Oh, kids, we have nothing to say but "Go, Butler" (in the non-ladies' tournament) and "Please, Stanford?" (in the women's). We were looking forward to having a big blog trash talk smackdown with UConn-loving Tenured Radical, but our beloved Lady Terps got spanked bad Tuesday night by Georgetown, thus denying the little Turtles their chance to go up against the big bad Huskies in the Sweet 16. See ya next year, TR, when Maya Moore will have finally graduated and gone on to a better place (the WNBA? ESPN? grad school?) and our tender Turtles will, we hope, have toughened up a bit on the defensive end of the court. Also, good thoughts go out to Terps forward Diandra Tchatchouang, who tore her ACL in the Georgetown game. The official French speaker of Roxie's World offers a hearty bon rĂ©tablissement to Diandra, who hails from La Courneuve, France, as she recovers from her injury.

Death: Death had another big week in the world. What with new revolutions and civil wars breaking out on a daily basis and the toll from Japan's triple-dip disaster still rising, one feels sheepish even mentioning that the nation's supply of Feisty Old Broads took a couple of significant hits this week with the deaths of Elizabeth Taylor and Geraldine Ferraro, but, well, that's the way it is. We raise paws in honor of these gutsy women, pioneers in their different ways and worlds, and thank them for their courage and tenacity. Gina Barreca's got a nice feminist tribute to Taylor up on the Chronicle (H/T Goose) focused on her early, unsung role as Helen Burns in the 1943 version of Jane Eyre. Moose and Goose fondly recall going door-to-door for the Mondale-Ferraro campaign in a small, conservative town on the Jersey Shore back in '84. It was the first but by no means the last time they passionately committed themselves to a losing cause. Twenty-seven years later, they have no regrets.

Who's Reading Your E-Mail? Moose was experiencing fear and loathing of her in-box long before she read the story of University of Wisconsin historian William Cronon being harassed by the state's Republican party, which is using open records laws to gain access to his e-mails since Cronon started writing blog posts and a New York Times op-ed piece focused on the GOP's recent activities in the Badger state. Now, her fear has turned to panic, as she worries that she could get canned for using state resources to mock her state's governor as a fauxgressive pretty boy. Or for her stubborn refusal to use her several different e-mail accounts to separate her professional life from her personal life, her political life, her blog life, and her online shopping life. Historiann has proposed that academics at public universities forward all of their e-mails to Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans in the state. Tenured Radical has a great post up that includes Walker's e-mail address ( and lots of terrifying reminders about how e-mail is never private and nothing can ever really be deleted and your university computer can be searched anytime. Moose read that post and has been sitting quietly in a chair ever since. Just staring. And deleting lots and lots of e-mails. See previous paragraph about her fondness for lost causes.

So, kids, how are your brackets holding up? And how did you waste your spring break? Here's another pretty glimpse of how time slipped away in Roxie's World. Peace out, lovelies.

(Photo Credit: JK, Sister of the Goosians, 3/25/11. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Excellence Without Money: Flying By Night Division

Or, This Is Ground Control to Major Tom, You're Really On Your Own, 'Cause Only One of Us Is There, And He's Not in the Chair Right Now . . . Check Your Landing Gear and May God's Love Be With You . . . .

You've probably heard this scarifying tale of Life in the Age of No Public Employee Left At All, but here are some snippets (via WaPo) of a conversation between a pilot and an air traffic controller not at the airport in which the pilot is about to attempt to land:
“So you’re aware,” the controller said, “the tower is apparently not manned. We’ve made a few phone calls. Two airplanes went in the past 10 to 15 minutes, so you can expect to go into an uncontrolled airport.” 
“Is there a reason it’s not manned?” the American pilot asked. 
“Well, I’m going to take a guess,” the controller replied, “and say that the controller got locked out. I’ve heard of it happening before.” 
“That’s the first time I’ve heard of it,” the pilot said. 
“Fortunately, it’s not very often,” the controller said. “It happened about a year ago. I’m not sure that’s what happened now, but there’s nobody in the tower.”
(You can actually listen to some of that conversation here. Can't say I'd recommend it to readers who spend much time on airplanes, but, on the other hand, it is always fun to hear dudes engage in cool banter in the midst of some deeply effed-up and potentially dangerous situation. It restores your confidence in the whole idea of Remaining Calm.)

The incident occurred shortly after midnight Wednesday at Washington's Don't-You-Dare-Call-It Reagan National Airport. Two planes had to land without assistance because the lone person on duty in the tower between midnight and 6 a.m. failed to respond to repeated efforts to reach him. That individual has been suspended while the incident is under investigation. AP is reporting that the control tower supervisor simply fell asleep. On the job. Of helping to land airplanes. With people on them. In this case, 165 people.

In the wake of the incident, WaPo reports, "Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ordered a second air-traffic controller to be on duty overnight at the airport. LaHood also instructed the FAA to examine staffing levels at other airports around the country."

Good idea, Ray, good idea! We look forward to hearing the details on those staffing levels. Call us crazy, Ray, but it just seems to us that there ought to be at least two controllers on duty anytime planes are taking off or landing, because, well, sleep happens. And gastro-intestinal disturbances requiring lengthy trips to the bathroom happen. Heart attacks happen. Accidental lock-outs happen. Oopsie-doopsie, man! Sorry I can't help you find your way through that fog or avoid the snowplow in the middle of the runway, but, well, I'm the only one here and I just blew an aneurysm. Sucks for both of us, doesn't it? Hey, could you call 911 for me?

Do us all a favor, Ray. Use this unfortunate incident as a little object lesson for the American people on the importance of investing in silly things like a fully staffed federal work force. Point out that if in fact you succeed in shrinking government down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub you will see a steep decline in the safety, security, and quality of life. If you want the skies you fly and the food you eat and the water you drink to be safe, you have to be willing to fund a work force committed to serving those public goods.

Think of it this way, Ray: The American people are willing to take off their shoes and subject themselves to a range of other inconveniences and humiliations just to get on an airplane. Don't you think you could convince them that a modest public investment might be worthwhile to assure they stay safe once they are on board? Srsly, Ray, this ain't rocket science. It's political communication 101. Give it a try!

And for you, my beautiful earth-bound darlings, go ahead and space out on the song I put in your pretty little heads at the top of this post. Planet Earth is blue, kind of, and there's something you can do, I'm sure. Peace out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Have a Feeling We're Not in [Missouri] Anymore

We know there's news breaking out in the world, darlings -- news monumental, heartbreaking, terrifying, and queerly relevant and disappointing -- but we can't wrap our paws around it right now. Forgive us. It's spring. Goose is away at a conference. Moose has a plane to catch early in the morning. And the new dog in Roxie's world made her first trip to the groomer's today. Would you mind terribly if we uploaded a couple of really cute pictures and called it a night? I mean, really cute. Miss Ruby is a super high-femme girlie girl, so her day at the beauty parlor made Dorothy's makeover in Oz look positively ho-hum. Ruby loved her groomer -- my erstwhile groomer, of course -- and the groomer loved her. She came home smelling sweet and looking absolutely, well, foxy. Don't you agree?

The shot above is in the car on the way home. (Note to Rulers of the World: Please pass a law against taking photographs while driving. Moose really shouldn't be doing that, should she?) Ruby likes car rides, too. She looks sleepy, though, doesn't she? Well, you know that the quest for beauty can be exhausting. She looks a little perkier after she'd gotten home and had a snack and a chance to strut around the house a bit:

(Photo Credits: Moose, with effects by CameraBag, 3/18/11)

Bet your teeth are aching from the sweetness, right? Yeah, I thought so. Don't worry, my pretties. The world and all its sorrows will be waiting for you tomorrow. For now, savor a little cuteness rescued from the horrors of a Missouri puppy mill and magically transported to a world of love and fabulousness beyond her wildest terrier dreams.

Ah, Ruby, you are a fortunate critter indeed. I may be in heaven, but you are in paradise. Dorothy Gale had nothing on you. Savor the bliss. You deserve it.

And so do you, my darlings. May you be up to your eyeballs in love and fabulousness. Peace out.

(Go watch the clip of Dorothy and Toto taking their first awestruck steps through Oz. You know you want to, and we want you to, but we can't embed it here.) 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Now We Are Five

Er, I mean, this here little blog is five -- Yep, count 'em, five years old today! -- and in blog years that's, like, ancient. But, you know, the Forever Young'uns of Roxie's World have decided to honor the occasion by reconnecting with the happy spirit of this bright-eyed West Texas girl, who celebrated her fifth birthday a long, l-l-l-l-long time ago out where the deer and the antelope play:

(Photo Credit: Most likely, the Mother of the Goosians, 5/14/??)

Thanks for coming to the party, kids. And thanks for all the love and fun and righteous anger, not to mention the clicks and the links and the laughs and the determination to keep the glasses at least half full. Thanks, in short, for all you do to inspire us to keep on blogging, come hell, high water, hard times, and happy ones. We couldn't do it without you. Or, well, we could, but why the heck would we bother? You are the most wonderful critters on dog's beautiful if messed up earth, and we love having the chance to hang out with you. Thanks, above all else, for stopping by.

Every party needs a song. Here, not surprisingly, is ours for today. May your hearts always be joyful, darlings, even after, you know, they've stopped beating. Peace out.

(Previous blogiversary posts: fourth, third, second, first.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rainy Thursday (Mostly About) Work Rant

(Photo Credit: Via)

Being the Secret Archive of Messages Moose
Absolutely Did Not Write or Send Today

To My Darling Students (43% of Whom Were Absent Today): "Rain" is not a short way of saying "attendance optional." Your teachers think of it as a short way of saying "in-class writing." Just saying.

To the Dunder-Headed Hack No Doubt Well-Intentioned Administrator Who Thought Employees Would Feel Motivated to Complete the Useless and Insulting Convenient and Illuminating Annual Activity Report by Sending Out a Mass E-Mail Publicly Identifying Those Who Had Not Yet Accessed the Online System Six Days Before the Filing Deadline: Srsly, dude. Three years with furloughs and no pay raises, and you think public shaming and calling attention to the mechanisms of surveillance that now characterize every aspect of our work lives will inspire us to get the job done? Dream on, pal. If the freakin' system crashes on deadline day, I will carve my report on a stone tablet and deposit it on your desk by hurling it through your window.

To the Senders of the 956 Other Messages Currently Languishing in My In-Box: Don't hold your breath, darlings. I have become so overwhelmed by the crush of e-mail in the past couple of months that I have basically given up, waved the white flag of e-mail bankruptcy. Is it really important? Call me. Dear Computer Overlords: Please come up with a better way for the slaves of techno-culture to communicate and easier ways for us to store and retrieve information. Thank you.

To the Members of the Maryland House of Delegates Who Are Hemming and Hawing About How They Will Vote on the Marriage Equality Bill on Friday: The feisty old broads of Roxie's World have a message for you (that ran on the front page of the QTU student newspaper this morning!). Read it here, and shame on you if you don't have the guts to get on the right side of history. And shame on you, Gov. Martin "You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy" O'Malley if this bill passes and you sign it into law and then stand back and let it go to a referendum in order to "let the people decide." Because, you know, it always works out so well when we subject minority rights to popular votes. Yep, you're a regular Profile in Courage, Gov. Looks to us as if the lesser O'Malley is running our state.

Yours Sincerely,

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Twenty-Seven Years of Queer Delight

Or, Simple Gifts

What do you get for a couple who seems to have everything to honor the occasion of their having managed to keep company for twenty-seven freakin' years without killing each other or anybody else? Yes, today is the day, darlings: International Women's Day and Moose and Goose's anniversary. No, the coincidence of the two events was not planned. Moose and Goose got together for drinks on this night in 1984. A freakish New Jersey snowstorm turned their drinkypoo into a sleepover, and the rest, as they say, is herstory.

So, what do ya get 'em? The kitchen is fully equipped. The car is eco-friendly. Art seems risky, given their questionable taste. Champagne is nice but probably verboten on Moose's Lifestyle Adjustment Program. (I know, Dr. Crazy, not totally verboten, but she's still in that obnoxious early stage of strict discipline that makes the whole booze thing tricky.) The right to marry would be a cool gift, but the store said delivery of that item is currently delayed in the moms' state. What to do? What to say? How to mark this miracle of commitment or delusion, especially knowing what a tough year they've had, what with death and furloughs and everything?

Oh, I know! What do you say we get them something we know they love and haven't had in their lives for awhile? A small but significant gift that will keep on giving -- every day, of every season, for many delightful years to come? How about it, kids? Are you with me? What do you say we give them this?:

(Photo Credit: Moose, 3/8/11)

Yeah, I thought you'd agree that was the perfect gift. Happy Anniversary, Moose and Goose, and welcome to Roxie's World, sweet Ruby, a 3-year-old wire-haired fox terrier who joined the household just two days ago, on a dreary Sunday afternoon that became happy and bright for the moms the moment she walked in the door. In time, of course, Ruby's story will be told here. For now, we'll just say she is settling in beautifully and the moms are as grateful as could be to the good folks of American Fox Terrier Rescue who brought this precious critter into their lives. Dog bless you, AFTR. Dog bless you, every one.

Peace out, darlings, and remember: Sometimes, with the right combination of love, luck, and ridiculous persistence, it really does get better.

(Previous anniversary posts: "Twenty-Six Years of Queer Delight," "Twenty-Five Years of Queer Delight," "Twenty-Four Years of Queer Delight.")

Monday, March 07, 2011

In Praise of -- Srsly! -- Fred Phelps

You read that right. I am here to offer praise for the demented Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church, whose gospel of hatred scored a major victory in the Supreme Court of the United States last week, as the court ruled 8-1 in favor of the evil rev's right to stage virulently homophobic protests at military and other funerals.

(Photo Credit: Michael S. Williamson, Washington Post. WaPo caption: Gen. (Army, Ret.) Bill Branson stands in salute to protest the Westboro picketers during [Army Staff Sgt. James] Ide's funeral. "It is an insult to every American who has died for the freedom of speech," said the father of another dead soldier. "No one in the history of the nation has ever protested like this. Don't tell me that my son died for that.")

Now, before you start thinking that America's favorite dead dog blogger has lost her mind as well as her body, permit me to explain why I'm in the mood to plant a big wet kiss on the desiccated cheek of the meanest thing to whirl through Kansas since a tornado whisked Dorothy and Toto away to Oz.

Look, folks, it's not every day that Chief Justice John Roberts and all four of the associate justices appointed by presidents Clinton and Obama (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) agree on a matter of law. That in itself is cause for contemplation if not celebration. (The lone dissenter in the ruling was Justice Samuel Alito, who seems to be charting his own path on First Amendment law, favoring privacy interests over free speech in a number of recent cases, according to Jeffrey Rosen.)

Further, the decision afforded WaPo and the New York Times a golden opportunity to clear their throats and offer up a robust defense of the right to speech they respectively described as "ugly" and "hurtful." Moose took a similar position in a discussion in Thursday's blogging class, pointing to photos of some of the rev's more odious signs and declaring, "This is what free speech looks like." And, yes, she also used the occasion to talk to her baby bloggers just launching their little First Amendment machines about the great responsibility that goes along with unrestricted freedom. "Just because you can say it," she said, gesturing again toward the photos of the Westboro protesters, "doesn't mean you should say it." Lord, she's cute when she gets all soap-boxy and Miltonic.

The decision in Snyder v. Phelps also performs the useful public service of dispelling the fog of misunderstanding that too often clouds popular discussions of free speech. On the one hand, we see assertions of an After-School Special model of free speech, under which individuals are free to say anything -- as long as it doesn't hurt the feelings or offend the sensibilities of anybody else. Such a view perhaps influenced the decision of the Maryland jury in the Phelps case to award millions of dollars to the grieving family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 and whose funeral was picketed by the hate mongers of Westboro Baptist. On the other hand, we hear people assert that their right to free speech has been violated should they suffer any kind of consequence for, let's say, using the N-word several times on a nationally syndicated radio call-in show. We might call this the Dr. Laura model of free speech: I get to say whatever toxic lunacy happens to pop into my feeble brain, and anyone who objects or proposes boycotting the sponsors of my show is violating my rights under the First Amendment.

Both views of the First Amendment are, of course, incorrect. Despicable as the words and actions of Phelps and his followers are, Justice Roberts is right that they qualify as speech on matters of public import and were carried out in compliance with local ordinances designed to maintain order. In short, they were protected, no matter how odious they may be to the vast majority of citizens and how painful to the grieving family and friends of the deceased. As for Dr. Laura, as long as the government isn't infringing on her right to spout her idiocies, her decision to leave radio has absolutely nothing to do with getting her "First Amendment rights back," as she claimed last August in an interview with Larry King. It has to do with avoiding criticism and the economic consequences of behaving badly in a very public fashion. Dr. Laura was free to say whatever the heck she wanted to say -- and listeners were free to express their opinions of her speech by boycotting her sponsors. Money talks, after all, and in this country that kind of speech is protected, too.

There is another reason to be grateful to Rev. Phelps and his weird band of publicity-seeking followers. Beyond providing the nation with a useful object lesson in what a, um, full-throated commitment to free speech really means, we should thank the Westboro Baptists for becoming the public face of homophobia in the United States. In being so relentless, so visible, so hateful, and so singularly focused on homosexuality, they have contributed much to making homophobia, at long last, a socially unacceptable prejudice. The group's apocalyptic antipathy toward gays and gayness -- made famous in the ubiquitous slogan (and website) God Hates Fags -- has made it difficult, even for religious conservatives, to be comfortable asserting a casual anti-gay bigotry that used to be de rigueur among theo-cons. Thanks in no small part to Rev. Phelps, I'd be willing to bet that if former Senator Rick Santorum gets back into politics, you won't hear him comparing gay sex to "man on dog" sex. Shoot, I'll even give crazy Fred some credit for President Obama's self-described "evolving" position toward support for same-sex marriage. No one in public life wants to be accused of homophobia these days, no matter how mealy-mouthed their policy positions might be, and that is progress, my friends.

We were pleased to find an ally for our concurrence with the majority in Snyder v. Phelps in someone with her own painful history with the Westboro Baptist Church, Romaine Patterson, the friend of Matthew Shepard, the murdered gay man whose 1998 funeral first brought Phelps to national attention. When Phelps and his followers returned to Laramie, WY the next year to protest at the trials of Shepard's accused murderers, Patterson was ready, having organized a counter-protest in which she and her friends "dressed as angels, silently encircling [the Phelps crew], our huge outstretched wings blocking their vicious signs from view." Such counter-protests now regularly greet Phelps, as the notion seems to have taken hold that an Angel Action is what is called for when the Devil comes to town.

In Sunday's WaPo, Patterson wrote of her sympathies for grieving families who, "in their most vulnerable hour," have been subjected to the "cruel rants" of Westboro members -- and yet she strongly agrees with the court's decision in the Phelps case. Patterson, an out lesbian with a radio show on Sirius XM Radio, argues that the court has to be "blind in its devotion free speech," protecting Fred Phelps so that it might also protect her -- and me, and you. We may not be able to eliminate his speech, but we can and should counter it. Fight bad speech with better speech or a righteous, dignified, grieving, outraged silence. As Patterson puts it:
To me, the lasting legacy of our counter-protest so many years ago is the enduring power of drowning out noise with silence, of smothering hate with peace.
Amen, girlfriend. Remember that, darlings, the next the Devil shows up in your neck of the woods. Peace out. Peace always.

(Photo Credit: Via. Romaine Patterson [right] and others counter-protest at the 1999 trial of one of the men convicted of killing Matthew Shepard.)