Monday, May 28, 2012

Giant Memorial Day Blowout Bargains!

Melanie had also been made secretary for both the Association for the Beautification of the Graves of Our Glorious Dead and the Sewing Circle for the Widows and Orphans of the Confederacy. This new honor came to her after an exciting joint meeting of those societies which threatened to end in violence and the severance of lifelong ties of friendship. The question had arisen at the meeting as to whether or not weeds should be removed from the graves of the Union soldiers near those of Confederate soldiers. The appearance of the scraggly Yankee mounds defeated all the efforts of the ladies to beautify those of their own dead. Immediately the fires which smoldered beneath tight basques flamed wildly and the two organizations split up and glared hostilely. The Sewing Circle was in favor of the removal of the weeds, the Ladies of the Beautification were violently opposed .
Margaret Mitchell

The first time I read GWTW, I was mesmerized by the name “Association for the Beautification of the Graves of Our Glorious Dead.” It was so evocative, so rich in subtext, so noble, and so…so…so Southern. I was enraptured of the idea that one could have Glorious Dead. And that ladies could fight to a less glorious death over weeding was positively beyond my scope of comprehension.

Fast forward a few decades and suddenly, the dead aren’t so glorious and in fact, they seem to have even lost their gloriousness for Memorial Day. Yes, there are parades and flags are set out in local cemeteries, but for every person who stops to observe the solemnity of the day, there are a dozen who are out scouting the local sales for Memorial Day Blowout Bargains! Bunting now decorates adverts and store signs, and speeches are presented as sound bites on the evening news.

Memorial Day is a fine idea. It was meant to be a day of reflection and appreciation; a day when we pause to recall those who put their lives on the line out of a sense of duty and honor. Even if we disagree with why we were in Iraq or in Afghanistan now, it doesn’t matter; they wore the uniform in service to this country. Scoring a  big screen TV at a great price has no place in that same pantheon. Like every other holiday in this country, it has been hijacked into a reason to go shopping. How is it that Madison Avenue thinks the only thing America does is shop? It’s a chicken and the egg kind  of thing. Did the ad execs notice we shop or do we shop because the ads compel into the stores?

Oddly, today was also the second day of the holiday Shavuot and a day on which we recite Yizkor, the memorial service. While Shavuot often falls at the end of May, it’s rare when second day happens to fall on Memorial Day. That said, it’s quite fitting. It’s a short service within the service, and one says the prayers appropriate to one’s loss as well as for communal groups. It’s not an easy service to get through, but it specifically addresses loss and the impact of that loss. And it is quite to the point: we remember our dead. 

America should be saying Yizkor for our lost soldiers, for our Glorious Dead. If there’s going to be a Memorial Day, maybe that’s what it needs to be: a day when there aren’t sales, when people perform some kind of national service to remind us that we are one single country and one American community.

And if we do that, maybe our candidates will remember that they are also part of the one country and one American community.

Just a thought.

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
Tuesday, May 29th, marks the 559th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks.
And the 59th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest.
Traditionally, angel food cake with chocolate icing is served. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been A Uterist

Sunday morning, I was minding my own business, cup of coffee in hand, and the New York Times…in print….my  favorite Sunday indulgence, before me,  when I happened upon an editorial in the SUNDAY REVIEW section: The Campaign Against Women. There was no by-line, and I supposed that's just as well, being it is an editorial. The piece succinctly delineated the 4 major areas in the Republican platform that put women at risk: abortion, access to health care, equal pay, and domestic abuse. Using legislative changes currently proposed in state legislatures across the country, the thesis is supported by governmental action and not opposition rhetoric. And this should be scaring the shit of women across this country.

Okay, now I can understand the philosophical differences between people who have (or have had) a uterus and people who are less fortunately equipped. I have a father, a brother, and TWO sons. I had a husband (until he had the poor form to die.) I know how penile beings think...and I don't remember any of my guys ever so much as intimating a woman's place was shackled between the bedroom and the kitchen with a nursery in between. 

Recently, seven states have enacted measures that restrict the availability of abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or, most terrifying of all, where the life of the mother is in jeopardy. The new statutes require that a women be "near death" before an abortion can be performed. "'Near death," however is not defined. Wanna battle that one out in court? With your wife or daughter or sister lying there fading away? 

And speaking of women's reproductive rights - here's another update from Fantasy Land: they want to un-fund organizations that provide women with affordable, competent health care INCLUDING but not limited to birth control, AND get rid of the programs that provide support for parents of young children. So, the net result is more kids and no net. Can you please explain to me why on earth you would want to hinder pregnancy prevention? 

In the re-authorization of Violence Against Women Act, our crackhead Congress managed to rip the teeth right outta the bill. Gone, amongst other crucial portions, is the protection for immigrant women whose status depends on a spouse. The end result is that instead of preventing abuse, a whole classification will be more likely to remain with an abuser because there is nowhere to turn.

And as if Wisconsin's Scott Walker's attack on unions followed by the successful demand for a recall election hasn't had any impact on this moron of a governor, he just repealed a state law that allowed women to bring equal pay lawsuits to the state courts rather than to force a long, costly battle in federal court. As if this will discourage women from standing up and yelling, "FOUL!" Or, in Governor Walker's case, "FOWL!"

What is it about these Republican guys that makes them think women are going be herded back into the 19th ...not even the 20th!... century without a fight? Don't these men have wives, mothers, sisters, and/or daughters? Can they not see beyond their own hot air cloud to even glimpse the ramifications?

I am not talking radical feminism here…I’m talking about basic health and human services issues. Believe me, if I was being a radical feminist here, these are not the issues I’d be going after. This is about the status quo with an eye toward a gender unbiased future.

Which brings me back to something that keeps rattling around this little empty head of mine like a pea in a tin can: these guys don’t go after guns and Viagra….both of which are dick things; they go after anything that directly impacts someone with a uterus. Why? What is it about the menstrual cycle that scares them? That women can bleed for 7 days non-stop and NOT die? Or maybe it’s that we can do the one thing they can’t: bring a new life into the world.

Penis envy is bullshit. No one wants one of those; they just get in the way of a guy’s ability to think. Nope. This is a clear case of uterus envy. If they cannot accomplish what we can….they are going to do everything in their power to screw it up for the rest of us.

Ladies….this is our time. We have the ultimate power. If you know a Republican who preaches the gospel of the reduction of women’s rights, reproductive or otherwise, straighten him out immediately. And if you need help, I’m willing to bet there are lots of sisters around who would be more than happy to assist. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Getting ready for Shavu'ot? 
Try making your favorite cheesecake with half cream cheese and half neufchatel.
It really does come out fluffier.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Seems like  gay marriage has taken over the airwaves of late. Between Joe Biden forcing POTUS to come out of the philosophical closet, and the head of the RNC’s declaration that a plank of the party's platform is to fundamentally deny civil rights to an entire class of people, there has been so much venom spewed that I began to think seriously about my own sentiments toward gays and gay rights in an attempt to better understand where all the agita comes from. The issues being addressed (or not addressed) were beginning to pile up and suddenly I had a funny feeling I was not being completely honest with myself or, perhaps worse, with my readers.

Was I harboring a secret prejudice? Was I hiding behind some politically correct posture and using it as a shield? Or was it something more nefarious, something I was loathe to confront in others, much less myself? I spent a lot of time obsessing about this. I examined and re-examined everything I've written about homosexuality in the past year, hoping it would shed a renewed light on my thought process. It did, and I came to some conclusions:
  • I am not gay. My sexuality is not in question. I have a fair number of friends who are lesbians and nope, I am not attracted to anything but their intellect and senses of humor. Skill at mahjong is definitely a plus but I am definitely a hetero kinda girl. 
  • Having been in the theatre biz for a long time, gay guys are part and parcel of the scenery. Since I'm not invited into their bedrooms as either participant or spectator, I’m not entitled to any opinion. Their sexuality has no impact whatsoever on me. I’m more interested in their upper brains. 
  • I really don't care if someone is gay. Really. What anyone does in the privacy of his/her own bedroom is none of my business. I’m just not interested in someone else’s sex life. Not gays, not straights, not even Kardashians.  Unless I know someone is being raped or abused or hurt in any way and I am in the position to call the cops to stop a criminal act...consenting adults of any persuasion having sex is not a criminal act. 

La Coste
Now, let's add another layer of confusion to this debate with the addition of Tom Friedman's column in Sunday's NY Times, This Column is Not Sponsored By Anyone. Ostensibly, it deals with corporate sponsorship, but it raises an interesting point about labeling. Everything has a label these days...from college football stadia to high school lockers. Are you old enough (like me) to recall when it started? Remember Jordache and Gloria Vanderbilt? Or “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins?” Or the La Coste crocodile  and the Ralph Lauren polo guy? These were all visible signs of  70’s coolness. Suddenly everything had to have a label. Even infant clothes sprouted designer labels. Inner city kids were murdered for the name brand sneakers and team parkas. Why do we feel the need to pigeon hole everything in our life?

I when I was in grad school and sported a full length cast on my leg following surgery, my dad painted those trademark green and maroon stripes down the front, with the interlocking Gucci "G" diamond pattern all over the rest of it. We even stopped at Gucci on Fifth Avenue to show it to the ladies and they loved it. That was then….this is now.  These days, I don’t want someone else’s name emblazoned on anything I own. The label is nonsense… it must be about quality. And this applies to people as well. 

So I've made up my mind. From now on:  

(Actually I dumped that last one long ago...but that's a different blog topic.)

Going forward, my friends will be my friends. They will not be my gay friends, or my Polish friends. Barak Obama will not be our black President. Nope. No more. Unless a label is specific to the point of the conversation, as in, “My New York friends have a different understanding of Pastrami from my Minnesota friends," I will no longer label people.

As for DOMA or the ridiculous amendment here in Minnesota, there will be no more discussion of GAY marriage.  Marriage is marriage is marriage and everyone has the right to turn a significant other into an instant next of kin. We can talk about civil rights begin denied a class of citizens because of sexual orientation. We can protest that civil rights are for ALL American citizens, and all citizens constitute WE, the PEOPLE.

This is NOT about  being politically correct; it’s about being humanly aware. We can change the conversation in favor of inclusiveness, and it doesn’t cost a damn thing. 

Join me in rejecting the label culture in favor of 
civil discourse, 
civil rights, 
equality for all American citizens under the law.

The Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
The longer we continue to affix the labels,
the longer those targeted segments of the population 
experience alienation and discrimination.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Speak Up Loud and Speak Up Often!

A modified version of this appeared on the Minnesota Public Radio - Commentary site this morning. And while I am thrilled that they published it at all, a few of the finer points were edited out. Therefore, here is the column in its entirety. 
I just watched the most terrifying video clip I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t from ALIEN or some Gothic vampire flick, it was a radio talk show host delivering his message to his loyal listeners. It wasn’t just the topic that was scary; it was something he said in the middle of his screed.
Richard Grenell

The speaker was Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association on his May 1st broadcast talking about the resignation of Richard Grenell, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign who happens to be an openly homosexual man. Now, no matter how you feel about homosexuality, you cannot help but be terrified by what Bryan Fischer said about the candidate. Below is a quote taken from the video:

“Mitt Romney has been forced to say, ‘Look, I overstepped my bounds here. I went outside the parameters here. I went off the reservation with this hire. The pro-family community has called me back to the table here. Called me back inside the borders of the reservation’….I [Fischer] can flat out guarantee you he is not going to make this mistake again.’”

Excuse me? Did I hear that right?

We, The People who, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, were just told by some guy that his organization controls some other guy who is a major party candidate for President of the United States.

Now, I’m sure Mr. Romneyy will come out and denounce Mr. Fischer, but the damage is done. This radio guy just told America that his organization, small as it is, is so powerful that presidents will bow to their will, and that we should all fall in, goose-stepping all the way, behind him.

While ultimately this may be a matter of free speech, there are lingering doubts over how much power the ultra-right wing lobby really wields. On some levels, it hearkens back to that classic film, The Manchurian Candidate, casting a rather large shadow over the Republican party. Are they pandering to that segment, and at what cost?

So here’s the question that needs to be asked: if Mr. Fischer and his constituency have this much power, and if Mitt Romney is elected, what comes next? Are all homosexuals to be denied employment? Are the business they own to be given to heterosexuals? And what is to become of them? Are there already plans in the works for relocation camps to house them away from the general population?

Manzanar in California
Sounds more like Germany, 1933…or California in 1942. Let’s not forget what a fearful government did to We, the People of Japanese descent during World War II.

We, the People do not have the luxury of standing idly by while this kind of rhetoric is making it onto the air waves. We, the People need to stand up for the rights of ALL American citizens.  If you don’t approve of the Vatican, don’t be a Catholic. If you don’t approve of abortion, don’t get one. If you don’t approve of homosexuals, don’t be one. Regardless of opinion, We are part of We, the People and have all the same rights as every other citizen of the United States regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation.

It’s unimportant whether or not Mr. Fischer is telling the truth. He thinks he is, and probably a whole lot of other people think he is, too. And this can spread. Fast. Too fast. Unless We, the People, stand up against bigotry of ALL kinds, there will be no one left to speak for any of We, the People when they come for the rest of us.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If we do not step up to the plate to protect our civil rights,
we don't deserve to have them