Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Shotgun Abortions

According to, "yesterday, by a vote of 264-153, the House passed the Child Interstate Abortion Act (CIANA), a bill that would make it a federal crime for anyone other than a young woman’s parent to help her cross state lines to get abortion services."

Though the pro-choice argument was sappy and one-sided (an aunt or grandmother can't help her poor, abused neice/granddaughter), the other side's argument struck me as ridiculous. Save Roe details one argument:

On the anti-choice side, some lawmakers made the absurd argument that if we allow minors to have abortions without parental notification in cases of rape or incest, we would "end up hiding the crimes of rape and incest."
Yeah! We need some evidence in the form of a child! That'll show the rapists, fathers (in this case, we're forcing girls to notify their rapist of the abortion, in which case this whole argument falls apart), and brothers! A report on NPR included a related argument: that an abusive boyfriend or a rapist might force a woman under the age of 18 to cross state lines and get an abortion.

I'm not naive. I know that there are men out there who really would try to force their girlfriends to get an abortion (I sincerely doubt there are rapists out there who would). And again, the incest part of the argument doesn't play out - a father raping his daughter would have no problem forcing abortion on her. But what pro-lifers refuse to see is that clinics are not handing out abortions like those poor people with flyers on the street. Clinics are there for the woman. They sit with a woman - alone - and counsel her to make the decision that's right for her. There would be no way to force an abortion on a woman, because a qualified counselor would see if it's not the choice she wants to make. This argument assumes that clinics place little value on a woman's opinion. Having worked at a Planned Parenthood clinic, I can say with complete conviction - this is a ridiculous assumption.

So, here we are again. One step forward (Plan B over the counter! Yay). Five leaps back. I'm scared.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It's a Movie...No! It's a Musical!...No! It's a Movie Again!

I am pissed. Not about anything of any real consequence. I'm just pissed. Why the hell do people want to turn wonderful movies into mediocre musicals? I'm talking Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Finding Nemo, The Producers. Yes, I realize it's for the money, but these musicals are ruining my childhood memories. (Finding Nemo - not really a CHILDHOOD memory, though many people think I still look 12 years old.)

The last movie-to-musical I mentioned brings in a new category that I absolutely despise. It's the movie that's been changed into a musical, which is then delivered again in movie form. Possibly, I'm so irate about this matter because The Producers was one of my favorite movies. Gene Wilder is ridiculous and hysterical. Zero Mostel is dirty and over-the-top. Everything about the movie holds that Mel Brooks humor, laced with both satire and innocence.

But then, they come along and make a musical out of it. Brooks writes more songs, but he's not really a songwriter. The songs turn out to be poor imitations of Cole Porter and Jerry Herman. The script comes from the movie, which is funny. But on the stage, everything needs to be bigger, right? So the script, the acting, the general tone of the show gets amped to the nth degree. Everything is loud and "wacky"(the 'wocka-wocka' kind of wacky). Not my bag at all.

But that's not enough. They have to make MORE money off of this ridiculous enterprise. Do they worry at all about what quality may come out of a story that's been raped and pillaged?(movie!musical!movie! who am I, what am I?) Nope. Ostensibly, nobody cares. The movie is shitty as a result. Though admittedly, I haven't seen the film (I think I'll cry), from what I hear, the performances are to broad and campy. They've lost the heart of the first film, the humanity in the two losers who star in this ...thing. Movie? Musical? Movie-musical? Thing formerly known as good?

This is not the only instance of this, and we should expect more to come in the future. Hairspray is the next one up. Though I hold no attachment to the ORIGINAL movie, my problem is still the same. I don't want to lose these movies that were apparently so inspiring that people were moved to make a musical out of them. The next generation (yes, I'm doing it, I'm playing the child card) is going to miss some wonderful movies. Instead of the subtly subtlety (a phrase I just made up for a work that is over-the-top with quiet strains of pathos and empathy) of the original The Producers, people will see a cotton ball fluff of a movie. No one will have the context we have, of my generation and older. No one will have seen the process of bastardization that we have witnessed. They'll just see a bunch of crappy, campy movies that do not interest them. This will then begin the ultimate turn away from movies with any substance. The nation will then be over-run with violent, sex-filled gang movies (rated PG unless they are either gay gangsters or straight gangsters who show their penises).

There I go, ranting again. Oh well. I know that the 'art' of the remake is nothing new, but these things get to me. I see no other reason to remake something unless you will change it somehow for the better. Whether that improvement comes because of an update for a generation's mindset (Baz Luhrmann, I'm NOT looking at you), because of a new, updated "look" for the film that would have fit with the director's original vision, or for some other artistic, interesting reason. But these movie-musical-movies seem to be solely cash cows. There is no other purpose in making these movies except to cash in on people's bad taste in musicals.

That's it for me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

An Army of One...Straight...Man

The Daily Show presents me with: things that make you go...hmmm...

It was a quite absurd interview from Jason Jones that did it this time. Jones interviewed a former military officer who was serving as an Arabic translator. The 'former' is present because he was kicked out for being gay. Openly gay, that is. He told. And we are suffering.

Although I have no actual statistics to back myself up, there seems to be a severe shortage of Arabic translators at a time when they are desperately needed (I'm obviously not the only one who believes this - click on the comic strip to the left). As Jones said (I'm paraphrasing): we'd rather be attacked by terrorists than have gays in our military.

Jones also pointed out that the military has opened their ranks to "the old, delinquent, and severely retarded," but has neglected to revise their ridiculous 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.

For the other perspective, Jones interviewed Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute. This man was obviously chosen for his tendency to make extremely ridiculous and inflammatory remarks. However, his reasoning for dismissing gays from the military makes as much sense to me as any other.

Why else would people have a problem with gays unless they thought, like Cameron, that gay men are constantly on the prowl, distracting other men, making other men uncomfortable, all the while neglecting to get any work done. People assume that their presence will affect the environment. Cameron mentioned rape and 'intromiss'ing. Who the hell is this guy?

My point, though, is that this is all actually a realistic version of what women in the military face every day. There are many stories of male-female rape in the military. Are there ANY stories of male-male rape? If there are, I'm sure the numbers are nowhere near equal. This is the same argument people used to keep women out of the military, only swapped. STRAIGHT men were the ones constantly on the prowl, unable to control themselves. But it was women who were forced to suffer for it. If the argument stayed the same - we should keep gay men out because they harm and distract the straight-ies - then we should have no straight men in the military either.

An army of women. Interesting. But now that we only have women in the military, let's get some homosexuals in there! No one would want anything to do with the other sexually, and they can all set their minds to war and nothing but war. Mindless machines. That's what we're after, right?

I know. Now I'm getting inflammatory. I won't impose my ideas about the military without getting there through rational argument. That's for another day. Anyway, just some ideas. I'm going to go finish watching The Daily Show.

Book Club of One, Part 4 - Marquez-lite

I finished Of Love and Other Demons a couple of days ago, but couldn't find time to write about it until now.

Can anyone tell this is my night off?

I don't have much to say about the book. It just didn't strike me as deeply as some of Marquez's other novels (namely One Hundred Years of Solitude). I felt it could have been more fleshed out. I guess I just wanted more.

Obviously, I have little to say about it. If anyone has another opinion, please let me know. Truthfully, I found Marquez' 2 page introduction on the inspiration for the novel much more riveting than the novel itself. I wanted more hair, more magic, more broken faith. Instead I get a rabid, demonic little girl and the righteous holy man who falls for her. Sounds great, right? But that's all we get. There is a lot left up to the imagination in this 150 page book.

I know. I'm sure I'm missing something. But honestly, it's hard for me to see the Marquez I've come to adore, in this novel. That isn't to say I didn't 'enjoy' the novel. I'm just a bit disappointed. This feels a lot like Marquez' latest 'novel'
Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores. Maybe it's a name thing. The books with the best titles are the least beautiful. Hmmm...

I know. I'm probably dense and ridiculous, missing the best side of this novel and all its intricacies. Enlighten me, please.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oh, Boy

If anyone's interested in a better, more succinct analysis of the game I discussed below, please see JWL's comment on said discussion. He is completely right.

What I forgot in my discussion was a very apropos news story. It turns out we Americans are not the only ones obsessed with the babies and baby bumps (don't even get me started on that one) of our stars. The Japanese people are shouting in triumph after Princess Kiko gave birth. (Interestingly enough, a quick internet search revealed no photos of the Japanese baby. There's a HUGE cultural difference for you.) Nope, this was not just any run-of-the-mill proudly painful and completely silent Scientology birth. This baby was ... a boy! The first boy, in fact, to be born into Japan's royal family in more than four decades, according to the BBC. His birth effectively puts an end to the debate about whether the law should be changed to allow a female heir to the throne. Yahoo...

But this debate did reveal a sign that the general public of Japan could...maybe...sort sliding to a more moderate social structure...perhaps. The current Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, was advocating the change in law. And there were signs that the general public agreed with him. That's great. So the public was CONSIDERING allowing a woman into an inconsequential, cardboard position. It would have been a small step, but a step nonetheless.

This news story simply backs up what JLW said and puts the game into more of a perspective. Japanese culture is truly hard for someone like me to understand, much less respect. Though there are small signs things are getting better out there for women, they are not nearly enough to satisfy someone like me. Again, that's ME coming from MY viewpoint referring to things through MY frame of reference. Ahhh...the plight of (as religious people call me) the relativist. (italics are to denote the fact that this word is considered dirty by many of said religious people).

Friday, September 15, 2006


Alright. Here we go. Come with me now (Buffy fans, take note of my Andrew impersonation) as we follow Amanda on another journey through her brain.

I recently had a birthday. My family, being the crazy, generous people they are, bought me a PS2. I have recently been embracing my inner geekdom and needed a console to complete the process. I love it, though Jason has gotten more time on it, the bastard. Anyway, though I received some great games from my family, I have, of course, been looking at other games that are out there. Beware, my Amazon wishlist will soon be three times as large. Of course, I use it for myself - a way to remember the things that I want so that I can make smart decisions about what to buy for myself. Yep, you guys didn't need to know that.

I'm getting there, my point is near. We're rounding the curve...yeah. Here we are.

While browsing PS2 games, I came across a game calledThe Daughter Simulation: Together with Father. I'm not sure why I clicked on the title to get more information about the game, but I did. Here's what I saw:

A first-person adventure that puts the player in the role of a loving father who can raise his daughter to be 20 different kinds of women. Begin at childhood and watch her grow-up into an adult. Japan only.

It wasn't until the end of this blurb that I realized exactly what kind of game this was. It was the "Japan only" part of the blurb. This is a game that completely distorts and idealizes gender issues. I mean, what could this game possibly accomplish? What does it mean?

So yes, we have "a loving father." A loving father who chooses between "20 different kinds of women." I'd really be curious to see the choices. Are they all Japanese? Does the player see what his 'daughter' will look like when she grows up? Do they have different personality traits? What are the objects and goals of this game? I wonder if I'd be less conflicted about it if some of the goals were: get her to college, make sure she's independent and kind? What if the goals are: get her married, fed, and pregnant? If anyone out there can help me, I'd be really grateful.

I obviously don't know enough about the game to form an opinion. The blurb and the title just struck me as...odd. And potentially dangerous. I mean - The Daughter SIMULATION?

And, as I discussed with a good friend the other day (in a two minute conversation that is still obviously making me think), I have always had a little voice in my head. It tells me when I'm looking at something through my own frame of reference and judging it before I can see/hear the other viewpoint. Is this a cultural thing I just don't understand? I hope so. Someone Japanese! Help!

Is this so different from the popular American simulation game The Sims? There is a small difference - we are playing god when we're playing the sims. In The Daughter Simulation, the player is only playing dad. Is ours better because it bears so little resemblance to our own reality (none of us are, in fact, gods)? Or is the Japanese game better because it is involved in preparation for and "love" of a daughter? I think the questions and fears that come with these games warrants a different post, so I'll stop here.

I know my lack of knowledge and understanding of the game may strike some of you as annoying, and I'm sorry. But I'm really asking for help here. I want to know where I stand with this game.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yikes! + Book Club of One, Part 3 - Crime and Punishment

Well, now we know what happens when my computer breaks down, I open a show, and feel uninspired in the course of a week or two: no posts. No writing actually. I need to fix that. Here goes, from Jason's computer.

I finished Crime and Punishment a couple days ago. I really don't think I have anything to say that hasn't been said many many times before me. It is an incredible book. I enjoyed it immensely. More than I thought I would, actually.

The book follows Raskolnikov as he plans, carries out, and meditates on a murder of two women. One victim is an old woman, "a foul, noxious louse! An old pawnbroker woman no good to anybody, who sucked the life juices of the poor . . ." in Raskolnikov's words. She is Raskolnikov's intended victim. The one he owes money too, the one he justifies killing. The second is a young woman, Lizaveta, the old woman's sister, who happens upon the murderer just after he has committed the crime. The bloody axe and the dead woman are two good indications to Lizaveta that the man standing in front of her (Raskolnikov) is the murderer. Thus, she is R's second victim.

For this second swing of the axe, Raskolnikov does feel a twinge of regret (please correct me if I'm wrong). But R never feels remorse for the old woman's death. In fact, at times he feels justified.

We spend most of the novel inside R's head, which Dostoevsky uses to great effect. First, we see the psychology of murder, the reasoning of the murderer, and the effects the murder has on the murderer. Secondly, and more importantly, we identify with him. We see how he came to the murder. We see how he got there and a chance that he could come back. The book ends with Raskolnikov in jail and the prospect of a new, possibly heroic Raskolnikov (altered by love - another main character saved by love? what is this?)

I think I'll stop there, before I turn this into a Lit paper. I've started a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel (I think it's the only full-length novel of his that I haven't read), Of Love and Other Demons. Marquez is one of my favorite authors, and the premise promises an enjoyable, thought provoking read. It focuses on the love affair between a priest and a young girl.

Hopefully, I'll find more time now that the show is open. Though we're starting another one tomorrow. Oh well. I'll write whenever I can. Wish me luck with MY computer.