Archive for August, 2010

The “fuck you” fifties: I can hardly wait!

August 25, 2010

I was tempted to place the customary scare symbols between the “f” and the “you” in my post title, but then I thought,  fuck it!

Say what you mean, mean what you say and let the language all hang out. 

In my 30’s, I wrote a series of journal essays (for my eyes only) called The Dirty Thirties in which I explored the intense fear and disappointment of that particular decade of life for those of us who failed to attain the goals so coveted and promoted by society.  

Many of my contemporaries who enjoyed relatively peaceful family lives then,  found the 40’s to be rougher—with marriages either dead or near-dead, real problems with children, and the seemingly unavoidable  financial struggles that we never  imagined would be so much part of Generation X’s middle years.  

There’s been much discussion lately about Generation X’s reputation as slackers, whiners, children of the “me generation” who insisted on prolonged adolescence and having to have it all.

Fortunately, much of what I’ve read concerns the  unfairness of this characterization, given the facts on the new economic ground of the 21st century and a deeper understanding of the nature of Baby Boomer success.  

In other words, the big dream of middle class security is over.

Criticism of an entitled, lazy and greedy generation seems today to come mostly from those who either still believe middle class contentment and security is possible or from those who have been lucky enough (or yes–cautious enough) to achieve it.

But then there’s still that pesky question of whether it was that great a dream to begin with.

Big stories about what makes success and failure are hard to shake. 

Yet there’s still some hope—-the fuck you fifties.

In preparation for them, I’ve been anything but a slacker.  I’ve been training hard, asking the hard questions and letting go of the regrets.

If you think this is easy, well….you can guess what I have to say about that! 

Here’s another cheeky article on some of the benefits, other than the sheer pride of survival, for women in or approaching their fifties. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-sokol/swear-by-it_b_688411.html

George Carlin on a “fart that could end a marriage”

August 25, 2010

Carlin loved to talk about farts—-because no one else was doing it.  

Irreverence has always been a part of humour. If farts make people uncomfortable (astonishingly so, I’ve always thought), then farts must be talked about. 

I’m open to pretty well any type of irreverent humour but it has to be funny and it has to be smart. And, of course, there’s the rub!

Oven jokes about Jews, slave jokes about blacks and starvation jokes about Ethiopians or Somalians are also irreverent—but they’re irreverent towards suffering and death.

Go head and be irreverent about your own death; I figure that’s just part of accepting the miniscule place we all occupy in the proverbial scheme of things.

Attempting humour about the agonizing and slow deaths of other people? Never funny, in my comic book. 

But farts?—–the human fact that dares not speak its name? Come on!

I used to say that I don’t trust anyone who can’t see the humour in farts (I’ve since become more compassionate toward the bathroom humour-challenged). 

I’ve also heard that all across this great planet of ours, children giggle at farts. And that’s good enough for me and my inner-Bart Simpson.  

Watch this video of fart connoisseur, George Carlin, on letting out a “fart that could end a marriage.”

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMX8L7Yxyfk&feature=related

Darwinian dating in a post-feminist world

August 23, 2010

Comments from some of my students about feminism “not being interesting” anymore can make me smile and cringe—depending on the kind of day I’m having. 

If the feminist movement was meant to free women from the confines of domestic and beauty-obsessed hell, then it’s done half the job.

If feminism was meant to allow women the freedom of honest sexuality, equal pay for equal work and a release from the caged mentality of gender roles, then yes—-what a job!

But what about the animal nature of mating? What has happened in so-called post-feminist culture to the biological facts that inform so much of our sexual relations?

According to  many post-feminist thinkers, societal equality has actually led us right back to biology—the hunt for sexy women without the impediment of commitment for the men.

So what are young women looking for today?

According to  Kay S. Hymowitz, they’re pretty confused.

Here’s a fascinating read on the anthropology, psychology and sociology of post-feminist dating.

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_4_darwinist_dating.html

23 bagel flavours = the illusion of choice: a dose of George Carlin

August 14, 2010

Every once in a while, I come across a George Carlin video that reminds me that, sometimes, the most cynical people care the most.  

The eternally pissed off Carlin held America and popular culture to the fire; and it couldn’t have been easy.

Here’s a superb montage of George Carlin on war and the illusions of democracy: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr7ePrCAqzo

Dying without god

August 11, 2010

For those of you who don’t know Christopher Hitchens’ work or who don’t care about it, I would ask only that you indulge me a bit longer.

That might well be all the time Hitchens has.

Sometimes, a lowly blogger must  blog—-what grabs her. And what’s been grabbing me lately is how quickly people can disappear, even people I’ve never met who have, in some way, shaken my world for good. 

Watch this video of Christopher Hitchens and his “dearest friend,” Martin Amis, discussing death and dignity without god.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/10/christopher-hitchens-im-d_n_676681.html

Information and power

August 10, 2010

Like many of you, I’ve been thrust, sometimes painfully, into the so-called information age.

It’s no use being timid in the face of technology anymore; the battle is over. You can’t participate if you don’t update.

I’m wondering, though, if this magical, magnificent thing called the Internet has seen its best days—at least in terms of providing a forum for anyone with computer access and leaving the choices about which ways to be brainwashed (or NOT) up to us.

I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of the Google-Verizon deal that will essentially place the Internet under the benevolent control of mega-corporations.

I don’t know how my car operates but I do love to drive and do it quite well. That’s about how I feel about the World Wide Web. 

But something tells me I should be interested in this story.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-aaron/google-verizon-pact-it-ge_b_676194.html

Christopher Hitchens on his “battle” with cancer

August 4, 2010

About ten years ago, my mother gave me a book called letters to a young contrarian (yes—no capital letters before this became techno-trendy).

There was much about the 1968 social awakening of the left, Henry Kissinger as war criminal, and Mother Theresa as dogmatic and blindly irresponsible that wafted gently over my budding brain, but I nevertheless got the spirit of Hitchens’ worldview. And I was an instant and willing fan.

In this book, his literary model was Czech poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, whose book Letters to a Young Poet was given to me as a gift a few years before.

Through a series of letters, Rilke advises a follower on whether the young man should pursue a life of writing. Rilke asks him whether writing, for him, is  a necessity—-whether life would be unbearable without a devotion and dedication to words. Rilke concludes (in my necessarily crude paraphrasing) that only if the answer is “yes” should he become a writer. Otherwise, it’s just too damn hard.

I’ve often leaned on Hitchens’ advice during my own struggle with the increasingly unpopular notion of truth and evidence and the world of getting along, of remaining calm and carrying on.

From the great man himself, here is the advice I took to heart over a decade ago:

Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the “transcendent” and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness of stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.   

He concludes his book with one last piece of advice: …may you keep your powder dry for the battles ahead, and know when and how to recognise them.

Hitchens essentially told me that it was okay to be me—and that it might be a whole lot more than just okay. 

My women friends tend to be the same; once in a while, they can even tell me that I’m full of it.  And in pure Hitchens manner, sometimes—I am forced to agree. 

But we always come back for more!

The blogs, they are a chirping tonight—with the lazy threat of prayers and the lazier pronouncements of bad living meeting its karmic comeuppance.

But they’re also filled with ingenuous expressions of hope that this stylish and brilliant provocateur will live to write again—-and again, and again.

Here’s Hitchens on Hitchens with one of the uglier forms of cancer and on the dreaded poison that might give him just a bit more time.  

ettp://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/09/hitchens-201009

“I think I’ll try French,” she said with a certain attitude

August 3, 2010

Being English, I’ve heard about those French.

They’re into sex  and stinky food and questionable hygiene. Parisians are arrogant, often hostile or at least stand-offish to sycophant foreigners. And their morals?

Oh, dear God, their morals!

And now I hear that French women tend to see aging more as a journey toward mystique and dignity, instead of as a  humiliating, fat/wrinkle loathing journey toward death.

After reading this up-lifting (pun intended) article on differences, I’ve decided to go French for a while.

Read this and dare to be uninspired:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-ollivier/anti-aging-tips_b_657393.html

And then there’s this little acorn:

http://www.qrw.com/features/QRW-french_women_2.pdf