Friday, May 26, 2006

"Taking Lives" (SPOILER ALERT)

You know you're watching an...let's say...ODD movie when the twist at the end involves a silicone pregnant belly. The put-in-her-place ex-FBI agent, barefoot and pregnant (literally) from a night of "bad judgement" (code for the fact that she slept with the serial killer who was pretending to be a sensitive artiste. You know women, always falling for the sensitive guy even when he's completely obviously a killer!) The twist? It was ALL A STING!!! The FBI agent was never fired for having sex with a murderer who they thought was a witness at the time! She's pretending to be pregnant and alone in a creepy house in the middle of Pennsylvania! She KNEW he was watching her!

The twist on the stereotype is interesting, but I think it's misguided. The stereotype I'm referring to is: the tough, unfeminine woman, good at her job, must be put in her place by the men in the story. This sterotype plays itself out in many ways (the HBO description even referred to her "annoying" the police men with whom she is working). The end is just the logical conclusion to this constant disregard for a PERSON who is good at her job.

Another side of it: she's only good at her job when her feelings don't get in the way. Blinded by love for a (shock!) sensitive man, she can't see what is completely obvious to the audience (that he's an insane serial killer). She is then so bottled up with revenge that she devotes 2 years of her life and career to catching this guy. How does she do this? She becomes the sterotype she's been dancing around the entire movie. "Taking Lives" ends with the now un-pregnant Angelina Jolie calling the detective she worked with on the case two years ago (the man that SLAPPED her when he confronted her about the serial killer sex). She tells him "It's done. It's finished." What does he say? "Good. I was worried."

(I'll take this moment to acknowledge the perpetual equation of sex and violence that is extremely highlighted in this movie. No time to explore it, but it's there with a flashing red arrow pointing to it.)

And that's how the pregnant woman stereotype became the unpregnant woman stereotype. The men in the movie still control her lives. They still show her what's right and wrong (even though she works for the FBI and is a "top" special agent).

I know there's nothing really new here. Feminists have been bemoaning this crap for years. But I found it interesting and, yes, maddening, that they acknowledged the stereotype that they were promoting. I feel like they are saying, "Look, we're not going THIS far with the sterotype! Be happy! She's not pregnant, she's just consumed by revenge!"

Addition: I just saw the poster for the movie. I think it says almost everything I did. OF COURSE, it doesn't show any of her strength. All you need to sell a movie is an image of Jolie in the throes of passion/the grip of violence.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Little Georgie and the Great Big Perch

I've had an epiphany. I will no longer call George Bush an idiot. He is simply a 7 year old. He is a little boy in a big ugly body. Watch out Tom Hanks.

A story related to the self-proclaimed greatest moment in Bush's presidency: catching a 7.5 pound perch gave me this idea. According to "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me..." the world record catch is a 4 pound perch. Bush's response? The Germans translated it wrong. Peter Segel says, however, that the white house transcript originally said "perch." Now? It says bass.

Let's compare that with a fictional account based on years of teaching children.
Me: Georgy, do you know how to spell animal?
Georgy: Yeah.
Me: Okay, so how do you spell it?
G: A-n-n-i-m-o-u-l.
Me: No, that's not right.
G: Wait, what did you say?
Me: Animal.
G: No, you said An-nim-oul. You just changed it. Animal, geez, I know how to spell that. You said it wrong, dummy.
Me: Now that's not polite. Why don't we write it out and see what we get? Do you know the word I'm saying now?
G: Yeah, no thanks to you, stupid head German.
Me: Okay, please spell animal.
G: Karl! Can you come here? Donny? Sorry, I have to talk to my friends.
Me: Sigh. Kids these days. They can't even CHEAT well.


An idiot president? I feel sorry for an idiot president, but we can probably wade through eight years of idiot. Eight years of a seven year old that didn't come out of you? That's too much to ask of anyone.

We better watch out. I think Iran just gave Georgie a wedgie. We better bomb them before they put his head in the toilet and flush.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Villanelle

Definitely a work in progress:


I’m wiping my ass, reading poetry.
I think Billy Collins would like it that way.
Each hand grips a piece of history.

I grasp the remnants of two trees.
Would the great oak gasp if I say
I’m wiping my ass, reading poetry?

They grew the oak to clean debris.
The swishing pine became wordplay.
Each hand grips a piece of history.

The trees both came from Tennessee
to find me here today,
where I’m wiping my ass, reading poetry.

My hands are unsteady
The verse dips and sways.
Each hand grips a piece of history.

I want the oak to guarantee
the frail pine won’t slip away.
I’m wiping my ass, reading poetry.
Each hand grips a piece of history.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Journalism at its Finest

I caught a glimpse of CNN this morning. I have written off the 24-hour news networks, but my partner Jason likes to watch CNN in the morning. The display I saw this morning only reminded me why I'd stopped watching.

A female anchor followed a group of cops as they set up and arrested a "sex offender." A male cop had posed as a fourteen year old girl in a chat room and had set up a meeting with a man. The blonde anchor narrated the piece, quoting the man as saying, "When no one is looking, you can give your daddy a wet kiss." It was ridiculously funny as read by an annoying blonde anchor.

The anchor and her camera crew were in the police car when the "offender" tried to get away. The cops arrested the man who fell face-down onto the street, and as the cop handcuffed him, the blonde stuck her microphone in the man's face. When the cop asked the man's name, the man responded and the mic caught it. The cop then asked where the man was from and, realizing the camera crew was there, the man refused to respond. This could have had serious repurcussions for the man.

The anchor didn't stop there. Before he was read his rights (as far as we could hear) the female anchor asked, "So you came here to have sex with a fourteen year old girl?" To which the man replied that no, he hadn't. The blonde scoffed and continued the line of questioning.

I know this kind of entrapment is a "hot button issue." But the fact remains that the man did not commit a crime. I know some states have gotten around this, adding crimes like seducing a minor and intent to commit, but I think that is a dangerous way to think. I want sex offenders arrested if they commit a crime, of course I do. But I think we need to draw a clear line and remember that these men and women have rights too.

But this isn't my main issue with this report. Fine, the state has found a way to get around the fact that this man didn't actually commit a crime. But what the hell was the camera crew doing in the backseat of the cop car? The cops actually invited CNN to come along and ruin this man's life before he's had a trial? Innocent till proven guilty. Sure, on paper. But the anchor painted this man's face with a big red S. Anyone who saw that report knows that man's name and face. They know enough information to agree with the anchor. I can smell the fairness and the balance. Mmmmm. Smells like eggs.

I can't believe how quickly people can move from logical human beings to a riot mob. The way we treat accused sex offenders is disgusting. I'm not saying they should roam free, but I also don't think we should victimize them. A man who had sex with his girlfriend when he was 18 and she was 16 is on that database of sex offenders for the rest of his life. Even if he's married to her now. At least that's true in Florida. If someone was released from jail, then theoretically they should be harmless. If they aren't, then they should still be in jail. I know this is a bit of an idyllic way to look at the world. But if the system doesn't work, then we need a new system. What we don't need is worried mothers and vigilante citizens prowling for sex offenders in their neighborhood and kicking them out. We've been down that road before. It is the road best left behind.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A quick sampling of two short stories

Excerpt from "Pieces"

Ellen stood inside The Guggenheim and looked at a sculpture of herself. She couldn’t look away. She had only a peripheral interest in art, preferring the effect a painting had on a room to the piece itself, but she was stuck in the city with five hours left before her brother Jordan got home from work. She had been walking up this never-ending spiral for what had seemed twice that long when this sculpture of a woman’s face had stopped her. Her feet hurt and her backpack had become heavier with each new leg of her uphill climb. She shifted her weight and folded her arms. Was this actually her? She tilted her head to the right, mocking her plaster counterpart. Their eyes looked deadly at each other. Their chins snuck away from their thin, frowning lips.


Excerpt from "Echo" They weren’t hungry, so they went to Krispy Kreme for milk and doughnuts. They sat in comfortable silence, relishing their ‘Hot Now’ doughnuts.
“Nothing should be this good.”
Robyn nodded, agreeing. Her mouth was full of melting doughnut. She had never known that doughnuts could melt. She couldn’t stop thinking about it: lonely. Fran was lonely. She saw it now, in Fran’s eyes. Alone.
“I can’t believe you’ve never had these before.”
Robyn put the doughnut down. “I know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. ‘Hot Now.’ Two little words with so much more meaning now. I throw my hat off to you, Krispy Kreme. You are a goddess. I bow down to you.” She got up and bowed repeatedly. Fran laughed. Robyn swam around in its echo. There was a sweet tinge of loneliness in that laugh.
“You’re a crazy lady. Better finish your doughnut before it’s ‘Cold Now.’”
Robyn stopped mid-bow, laughing. “You’re right. Is that a song request I hear? You say ‘Hot Now,’ and I say ‘Cold Now.’ You like hot sweet juicy doughnuts, and I like ‘em cold and soggy and hard.” She stopped. “No, I guess that doesn’t work. I’ll have to think some more.”
She looked out the window. A red Vibe was idling at the light. A dark blue Commander honked its horn. She winked at the cars and smiled. Lonely.
“So . . . you’re lonely?” Robyn broached the subject cautiously.
“What? Oh. No, not really, darlin’. I’ve got the job to keep me on my toes. The puppy was a bad idea. My life is way too hectic for a self-centered, completely dependent puppy. I mean, yeah. I get lonely sometimes. Who doesn’t? But I don’t think a puppy’s the solution. These doughnuts will probably do the trick, though!”
Robyn looked outside, as a silver Mirage pulled in to the parking lot. She burst into tears. She was the only one who felt this way. She was so alone. She heard her tears hit the floor with a loud bang. She looked up. Someone had dropped a tray. Not her tears. A tray.
“Woah. Are you okay? What did I say? I’m so sorry.”
Fran came over and knelt beside her. She felt Fran’s hand on her back -– it warmed her entire body. She smelled the Head and Shoulders. She wiped her eyes and forced the tears to stop.
“Yeah. Sorry. I gotta get to work. Sorry.”
She smiled and stood up. She stuck her tongue out at Fran, smiled again, and walked out the door and headed to her apartment.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Another Foray in to Form: Accentual Alliterative Verse

Free Will

The dark, disturbing
____________________day descends.
She tears a bag of Tostitos,
____________________tempting herself.
She is her own snake,
____________________full of salty secrets.
She will devour each triangle,
____________________destroying her diet.
The plump, purple
____________________grapes sit proudly
in their basket, their backs
____________________turned on this barbaric
display. She drops
____________________the bag, defeating
her foe, facing
____________________her fat figure.
She picks up the produce
____________________and pops each grape,
one by one,
____________________into her watering mouth.
The bushel disappears.
____________________She burps and walks back
to the Tostitos, taking
____________________her time, thinking
of the crispy crunch,
____________________condemning the chips
and herself on this day,
____________________so sad and satisfying.

Author's Note: I have no clue about HTML. The only way I could get the form I want was to put the underscore (____) on there to push the line over. Any tips would be welcome!

Everything that Rises...

Wow. Things do happen in threes. Two were on a personal level: both my brother and I had very good news today. The third: Moussaoui was given a life sentence in jail for his role in the 9/11 attacks, rather than the death penalty. The jurors aren't quite as insane as Moussaoui himself. Good sign. I hope he gets treatment for his mental illness inside, though I sincerely doubt it. At least we aren't moving completely backwards: exterminating the mentally ill (or, if we want to split hairs, castrating them) for "the greater good."

Yes, the 9/11 attacks were . . . well, there are no words. But Moussaoui should not be our scapegoat. Just put him away, get him help, and stop letting him yell fire in a crowded building. It just shows us how insane he really is.