Friday, March 26, 2010

Random Generator: Big Effing Deal

To celebrate Joe Biden's words this week, passing healthcare (despite its flaws) was a big deal.* Thus, from Something Good Can Work by Two Door Cinema Club:
  1. Dudun Dun - Para One
  2. Xtatic Truth - Crystal Fighters
  3. Up All Night - French Horn Rebellion
  4. Beeper - The Count & Sinden (nothing like a bit of speed garage to celebrate health insurance reform!)
  5. Miss It So Much - Royksopp
  6. Shame on Me - Amanda Blank
  7. Hard Times - Patrick Wolf
  8. Dance Till Dawn - Heartsrevolution
  9. Luckier - Shazam
  10. Sucker Pin - Modeselektor
* And yes, I stole this theme, wholesale, from feministe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unhealthy Debate

I don't have much to say on the topic of health reform, really. It's just such a big old mess. There are several main topics that have come out of it that really bother me, but I don't want to go on a diatribe here. Still, in case you were wondering (which, if you are at all familiar with this blog, you're probably not as you know what pushes my rage buttons):
  1. Abortion is out of the healthcare bill - because it's not healthcare. This is a theme that drives me insane. It's the most common outpatient procedure, it's there because women's mental or physical health is threatened by being forced to carry to term a foetus that they do not want/can't have. And yet, that's not covered, but viagra is? Really? A man's right to have a long-lasting erection is healthcare (and drugs for it can be advertised at all hours of the day), but not a woman's right to bodily autonomy. For eff's sake.
  2. The rage and violence and sheer thuggery of some of the opposition to healthcare is, frankly, extremely remarkable. The threats of violence (death threats to Louise Slaughter), the actual violence (bricks through windows), the spitting, the racial "epithets" (don't you just love the fact that everyone says "epithet" when they mean the N-word?), the homophobic abuse toward one of the only openly gay members of Congress... and the guns. The guns. The "blood of tyrants" quotes. To be fair, I oppose this Act, in part, because of the way that women's reproductive rights are being sold down the river. So I am distinctly not claiming that opposition to healthcare is, per se, outright wrong and/or racist. But my response is not violence or threats thereof. It's remarkable how people who are used to getting their own way behave like such violent brats when they can't control the electoral process anymore. And there is nothing like their demonisation of women (Pelosi) and the foreign (Obama) to illustrate why people who are, often, powerless or used to having all the power in the world cannot cope with this shift.
UPDATE: I just read this by Jill, and, of course, she (and Bob Herbert, whom she quotes) say a lot more eloquently than I do what I think I detect in the shifting of privilege / power and why that is making the raging people just so raging.

UPDATE 2: Jill and others also have pointed out the utter failure of Bart Stupak to connect the threats of violence he's received with the intimidation and fear that women seeking reproductive health services - be they tests, contraception, treatment or abortion (and again, that's only 3% of the clients that attend Planned Parenthood,* for example) - when they go to their local Planned Parenthood. Or with the death threats and violence that reproductive health workers receive many/most days of their lives in the US.

UPDATE 3: In point 2 above, I think I have misrepresented what I think. I think this is a good start, but it is health insurance reform, not healthcare reform. There are several things I deeply dislike about this Act (as it is now): a/ I'm not keen on individual mandates - I think that it truly is the government's responsibility to provide healthcare for its citizens. What I am hoping is that the mandates will flood the system with more premiums, and so hopefully lower the costs for all of us. At least, that's in theory what would happen without privatized, for-profit businesses in control of dictating who gets what and for how much money. We'll see if it does work. But I believe this bill doesn't go anywhere near far enough. b/ Women have been sold down the river, again, for their actual healthcare needs when, unsurprisingly, men haven't. And that's depressing and awful and wrong. c/ The "better than nothing" argument is true - it's just not enough and the people of this country that I currently live in deserve much better. I'm not sure if I would have voted for it or not; probably if the votes were close, but if I thought the Bill would pass without me, maybe not.

UPDATE 4: And here we go again - yet another reason why this reform does, indeed, fall short.

* See p8 of the pdf.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who Is He, and What Is He to You?

I remember that my Dad had a copy of a Bill Withers LP when I was a kid. I don't remember what was on it, other than Lovely Day. I had an interest in that song, because it had been re-released, with some horrible jaunty "updated" backing track (never a good idea). That was the only song to which I listened on the album.

Likewise, when Will Smith's Just the Two of Us came out, I remembered it was a Bill Withers song, and that focused my attention, briefly, on that song.

But then the ER adverts happened. Channel 4 back home decided to promote a new season of ER in which Carol and Doug were clearly going to get back together by having a 2 minute advert that featured lots of longing glances and heated moments with Ain't No Sunshine as the backing. And so, when I soon thereafter saw a copy of Bill Withers' greatest hits for about four quid in an hmv sale, that's what I bought. I've not really looked back.

The first two songs are, indeed, the aforementioned Lovely Day and Just the Two of Us, and yet I'm not exaggerating by saying that these famous songs are my two least favourite of the album. Right after JTTOU comes Use Me, which is one of the best songs about loving what's bad for you, because it feels so good. It's joyful, despite the premise that Withers knows that nothing right other than the here and now can come of this. Kissing My Love is another exuberant expression of the joys of someone who blots out the rest of the world. Harlem somehow completely evokes the 70s and the neighbourhood, painting a picture more realistic, it seems to me, than that often portrayed, particularly by those who were terrified of above 100th street for so long.

And then there are my two favourites: Ain't No Sunshine, and the title of this post. That song is just full of menace, despair and longing, in the way that (probably my favourite song of all time) Heard It Through the Grapevine is. And Ain't No Sunshine is just perfect: short, sweet, full of love, and yet stripped down. I think that's one of the things I love about Withers - no swooping vocals, just pure and sweet baritone, that roughs up with emotion at times, but it's all so strangely demonstrative through its relative restraint. And yet, it appears, he was a pretty angry young man, and is still fired up about lack of respect and his life.

And, of course, without Bill, possibly my favourite joke of all time would not exist (but I can't write it down due to typographical/grammatical aversions to conveying it on paper; aurally is the only way).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Reflection...

... forget what I said yesterday. I really am getting carried away. But that's because we had a glorious meal of big ass jerk steak (the actual name of the recipe, not my name for it), cooked on the barbecue on the deck, and today we had tea and tomatoes on toast on the deck while plotting where I was going to grow my lettuce. Indeed, inspired by the sun and the memory of fresh, home-grown tomatoes, and my friend's plans for self-sufficiency, I've now ordered seeds for lettuce and herbs and tomatoes, and I cannot wait to start growing this stuff. If I manage it, obviously. Not sure how green-fingered I am these days, but I think it's going to be fun to find out.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I'm not getting too carried away. I'm wearing a cardigan, and I only put on the peep toes for lunchtime - the socks and closed toes will come back on this evening to go home.

And yet. The sun is shining, and it's hard to be in too bad a mood, given the blue of the sky.

I know that now is not the time to put the coats into storage; I've been here in the snow in April before.

And yet. Crocuses on Park Place; the magnolia tree is budding. It's coming.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

And the winner is...

... well, I'm not sure, really. And I won't know, at least not by watching in real time, as my cable provider is in a massive dispute with ABC, the Oscars' broadcaster. So I've been receiving emails all day from Cablevision - I can watch pre- and post-show (wow!) stuff, and I can watch any movie on Cablevision's On-Demand channel tonight, free of charge. So, really, there's no contest - I will be watching, doubtlessly, some of BSG (onto season 2.5 and loving it, still) and maybe a free movie or two. They are showing each and every Saw movie, as well as both Smokin' Aces. Tempting.