(1) This weekend I watched three movies:
- Home For the Holidays
- Just An American Boy, a documentary about Steve Earle
- Les Miserables, the five-hour French version directed by Raymond Bernard
(2) I am currently reading five books at once: Wasn't That a Time: Growing Up Radical and Red In America, by Robert Schrank; Chasing Che, by Patrick Symmes; Ease, by Patrick Gale; For Whom the Bell Tolls, by our pal Hemingway; and Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo. I got all of these except the last from Paperback Swap
Wasn't That a Time: Growing up Radical by Schrank is enormously readable and highly educational -- it's Schrank's life on the socialist side of America from the 1920's on: being sent to socialist summer camps and day camps as a kid, singing the Red Flag and learning about the evils of capitalism; the onslaught of the depression; life in working class schools; organizing labor unions in the early thirties. It's great.
I'm also enjoying Chasing Che, and Russo's book, though I'm not far into either. Hemingway I am making myself re-read (I haven't read it since I was about fifteen) and it is heavy going I must say. Don't I wish I could go back in time and smack Hemingway in the ear. When he is not taking himself so fucking seriously he is not a bad writer at all. Dude! I want to say. It is just a fucking novel. Calm down!
(3) Cool Links: What folks eat , What Folks Play With, What to Look At AND this link, which you have to go see: all about germs! Guess what! Your bathtub is filthier than your trashcan! Your laundry (yes, after you wash it!) is full of poo! Washing it spreads the poo through your entire laundry! That's right! Won't this link cheer you up! Go see!
The What Folks Eat is also worth a visit, both for a look at the differences in class and consumption and to read the comments stacking up at the sight. (It's interesting that most of the initial comments are on the order of "gee if only Americans were like refugees from Chad maybe we could lose some weight." )
(4) Random event -- The kid came home from school yesterday and told me, her small face furious, "Superman is a pillar of the patriarchy!"
"Ah," I said. "Well, yes."
"We had to listen watch a musical video about him in music today! It was totally patriarchy-oppressed!"
"Ah. And did you make that clear to your music teacher?"
"Yes! And Justin said for me to be quiet, because Superman was real! And he rescues women in trouble! And that's good!" The kid flung her arms out, her entire body outraged.
"Which you said what?" I inquired.
"Woman can carry mace and rescue themselves!" she shouted.
"Excellent," I agreed. "Also? The idea that women are in all this danger and need rescuing all the time? Myth of the patriarchy. Why would the patriarchy tell us that story? That if we go outside, if we walk around by ourselves, we'll get attacked by evil men and need other men to save us? Why would they tell us that story?"
"To scare us," she said. "To keep us from going outside."
"Because Superman isn't real," I agreed, "so if we believe that story, we'll lock ourselves up."
(5) Random Event #2 -- the kid has recently been fined $30.00 by mr. delagar, for telling Miles what the f-word was (a bit of justice I find extreme, given she was only doing what we have always done for her: when a question is asked, we answer it: Miles asked what the f-word was, and she answered; plus, she didn't say it, she only spelled it, so what's the deal, I ask, but I am not interfering) -- anyway, she asked me, "Why can't kids say bad words? That doesn't seem fair. Adults can say them. Why not kids?"
"I have explained this before," I said, because I had.
"Again!" she insisted.
I went through the class issues spiel. I went through the inappropriate/appropriate/code-switching spiel. She was unconvinced.
"But what do they mean?" she asked. "What does the f-word mean? Why do you say it? Why can't I?"
"Well," I said. "Well. The f word means...it means, technically it means sex...but it doesn't mean that, in context...it context, it means you're angry, and you want to hurt the person you're saying it to."
She frowned at me. "What's the b-word mean?"
"That's why I don't want you saying that one," I said, feeling on safer ground. "That one's misogynistic. People use that one to call people women, or to say women are stupid. That one is used to either attack women or to use women as tools to attack people."
She was frowning more. "What about the other b-word? B-I-N-T? What's that one mean?"
"Um..." I could see where this was going. "It's just Arabic for girl. But it's used the same way as bitch. To attack women, to use the idea of being a woman to attck people."
"But...you use that word. If it's misogynistic, why are you always calling people that word?"
"Excellent point," I agreed. She scowled at me. Moving right along, I said, "And other words, like tool, you know, and scmuck, those are words that attack men -- because tool means penis, right? And so does schmuck -- so when I call people tool (which I am also always doing) then I'm saying those people are acting like men, or I'm using the idea of being like a man to attack that person...see," I said, "that's why you shouldn't use bad words. Not because the words themselves are bad, because they aren't, exactly; but because you're using the words to attack people. Which do we want to do that?"
"So why do you do it?"
"Right," I said. "I shouldn't." Fuck, I thought, because how I am supposed to stop? I only just recently managed to stop saying fuckwit and fucktard and Rethuglican, afterall. Now I'm going to try to stop cussing entirely? Oh, that sounds likely.
She rubbed her face against my shoulder. "Thank you," she said.
"What?" I said.
"I like how you explain things to me," she said.