Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If You Love Something Set It Free

I was crushed to learn that Sarah Haskin's Target Women, as we know it, will exist no longer. Apparently she's moved on to other stuff, according to this awesome interview with Jezebel. I also learned from the interview that somewhere there are Kathy Lee and Hoda shower curtains, and well these were a few of Sarah's descriptions of Los Angeles life.

"I murdered a screenwriter, slept my way to the top and poured cocaine all over Mullholland Drive. And that was just yesterday."

or perhaps more realistically:
"I saw Michael Cera at the grocery store! But I did not say hi."

I guess if you love something you have to set it free, and let it go out into the the world and write awesome screenplays. Sarah has some promising stuff in the works. She and screenwriting partner Emily Halpern (who I automatically love cause she wrote for Private Practice) have been working on this script titled Book Smart about two accomplished and intelligent high school senior gals who set out to find boyfriends before prom. Its the kind of script that from the pen of Sarah and Emily is bound to rule. Its been scooped up by Fox and Handsomecharlie Films, which is Natalie Portman's production company. Portman said of the script " it was as though the script we always talk about wanting to find for our company suddenly materialized."

When Amy Poehler read Book Smart she eagerly turned to Sarah and Emily to write the script for Lunch Lady, which will be based on an upcoming graphic novel about a superhero lunch lady.
So we might have to wait a little while for these to come out but in the meantime Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern are working on a webseries called DILF. I'm super psyched on this series that shoots to level the playing field and give some DILFs the loving attention thats been so unevenly dispersed to MILFs the last few years. Sarah let slip that someone may make out with Tim Daly, and so basically I'm already a fan.
Don't keep us waiting too long Sarah!

Personsality Disordered

I'm really excited that Tracey Ullman has added Rachel Maddow to her cast of people to impersonate on her show State Of The Union. Man, sometimes I do miss having TV.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Double the Hotness On One Stage

GirlSchool and Motorhead together in 1981.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Half The Sky : Your New Required Reading

The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in this routine "gendercide" in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.
-Half The Sky

There is a reason Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity has been on the best seller list for a while now. Authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are the first married couple to ever win a Pulitzer Prize together (for their coverage of the Tienanmen Square Protests), and boy do they pull out all their skills for this one. Nicholas Kristof is a multi prize winning NY Times journalist known for being both the moral compass and "Indiana Jones of our generation of journalists" according to wikipedia. Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer, is an investment advisor, with a focus on philanthropy. She's worked as a journalist and editor for the NY Times as well as a private wealth investor and specialist in alternative energy.

You can tell this powercouple researched the best way to write this book almost as much as they researched the actual material it contains - Half the Sky combines personal tales of both oppression and opportunity with statistics, facts, and truth about what methods of aid help women and which just don't work. By peppering the book with stories of women they met on their travels and stayed in touch with, the reader can actually connect with the lives of women in China, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Cameroon, and many more places. The stories are actually interesting too, I spent a lot of time crying while listening to the audio version at work (yea, I've just come to except that), because of women whose stories are so far beyond the threshold of pain and suffering that I could imagine. Yet, the book manages to never leave you at that point, but consistently shows what specific tactics work to turn these stories around and help the women in leading themselves out of abuse and poverty.

Chapters include topics such as sex slavery and prostitution, the power in speaking up, rape, shame and honor, maternal mortality, Islam and misogyny, education, genital cutting, micro credit, and aid programs that actually work. I enjoyed the unpredictability of Kristof and WuDunn's approach to each of these topics- they weren't always what you thought they would be. For instance, they explain the ways Islam itself isn't as misogynist as you might think and while constantly promoting education they acknowledge that sometimes introducing television to small villages can do wonders for encouraging women to understand their basic human rights. I learned a lot about issues like sex slavery, and how often times our emancipated western views lead us to think of it more as prostitution, when such a small amount of 3rd world prostitutes were allowed to make the decision for themselves. Also simple things, like the US Congress asking in 2000 for all countries to report their statistics on prostitution, helped extensively in getting some of the worst countries to crack down, therefore decreasing underage prostitution and AIDS.

One of the interesting approaches they took to the topic was looking at women's emancipation in an economic sense. For instance in China where women a few generations ago bound their feet and were at times named Daughter 1 or Bring A Younger Brother 2. China decided to integrate women into factory work and now women outnumber men in many sections of the workforce and 5 of the 6 richest self made women in the world are Chinese. While they still have far to go with work conditions, the country's economy has grown incredibly and women are now seen as valuable assets, and less frequently drowned in the river to make room for a son. There is also vast proof that by providing women in developing countries with micro loans, you are actually helping the whole community. When you empower women you raise economic productivity as well as health, nutrition, and education, and you decrease infant and maternal mortality as well as terrorism. WuDunn's economic prowess is enlightening and truthful in these segments. She explains that when a village or a country works to support its women, their economy almost always grows. However, she is bluntly honest in acknowledging that better off countries who lend aid may have to take a hit themselves. Yet, this is one of my favorite elements of the book. I get weary of those who constantly validate their cause with saying that it will all work out for the better of everyone - sometimes its just the right decision and you won't be like Tom's Shoes and make a huge profit off the cause. But its still the right choice. They name Britain in the book for being the leader of the Abolitionist movement, as far as countries go. While they took the hit and lost money for decades on their decision to stop slave trafficking Africans , it was still the right decision.

Half The Sky
combines tactics that we can do personally- both giving of our money and time as well as three things they would like to see the US Government do - making the emancipation of women and girls a priority.

1. Spend 10 billion over 5 years to educate girls, focusing on Africa but also prodding Asia and the Middle East. This would narrow the education gap by doing such simple things as building schools or just supplying uniforms or sanitary napkins to girls so they could stay in school. These programs would be measured carefully to find which showed the most progress and should be continued.

2. Iodize salt - Supporting the
micro nutrient initiative. Iodizing salt would prevent the loss of up to 10 IQ points in still developing fetuses. Female fetuses are especially effected by the lack of iodized salt. Apparently with this method of help you can get "more bang for the buck than almost any other form of aid."

3. A 12 year 1.6 billion dollar initiative to eradicate obstetric fistulas. This issue that both conservatives and liberals could get behind would lay the groundwork for a maternal health overhaul.

Those might seem like expensive projects but consider this : The World Health Organization estimates that 536,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year. Yet, as Americans the amount we spend on maternal health is less than one twentieth of one percent of what we spend on our military. We spend so much on foreign aid, why not spend it on programs that would actually work. Or better yet, follow all these programs and see which ones work the best and where to put more money. Kristof and WuDunn make the point that this is no more a "women's issue" than slavery was a Black issue or the Holocaust was a Jewish issue. These are humanitarian issues. Providing aid isn't the answer itself but it is the oil in the machine that will turn these issues around. Carolyn See who reviewed Half The Sky for The Washington Post said that it was probably the most important book she'll ever review. I think it probably is for me too, and I really strongly recommend reading it, I promise it won't feel like homework.

Here are some really adorable photos of the Chikumbuso Project girls in Ng' ombe, Zambia. The uniforms they are wearing are from my hometown, my awesome middle school gym teacher sent the uniforms we used to wear for basketball or soccer to Chikumbuso.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Ten Other Things Martin Luther King Said: by Ill Doctrine
These quotes are ones you don't hear very often but very much show the MLK who was the real mover and shaker.

The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you are interested in learning more about MLK or other leaders in the civil rights, black power, or modern freedom struggle I really recommend going into Itunes and looking up The Modern Freedom Struggle under Itunes U. Itunes U is a really wonderful new section where you can watch or listen to entire college classes at different Universities, talk about democratizing education! The Modern Freedom Struggle is a class taught at Stanford University by Clayborne Carson. You can learn about Bayard Rustin who was primed to be the MLK of the movement but was shoved out for being gay. Actual women of the Black Panther movement, such as Erica Huggins and Elaine Brown, come in to talk to the class about their experience and what they're still doing. There's even a good half hour on Tupac Shakur. Today I'm going to listen to the hour on Martin Luther King, which I've been saving up for his day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This Is For My Ladies

Marianne Faithfull - Broken English

Sneaker Pimps- Six Underground

The Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang

Christina Aquilara featuring Lil Kim - Can't Hold Us Down

Cocknbullkid- I'm Not Sorry

Xscape- Just Kickin It
I believe one of these gals is on Real Housewives of Atlanta these days.

Beth Orton- She Calls Your Name

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fair Haired and Funny

As Anna Farris said in her NY Times interview, these days most comedies have a girl playing the 'straight man' to the funny guy. In other words playing the boring, stable, wet blanket that props up the dudes jokes. I guess this is why I find myself rooting over and over again for any actress that manages to steal a little bit of the comedic spotlight in any of the recent Judd Apatow and Co. type movies. However, it also seems that you have to have leading lady looks to even get in playing the best friend of the leading lady. This has created a handful of blonde bombshells who are primed for world comedic domination if only Hollywood would consider them bankable and let them get a fair amount of the good lines in the movie. I wonder sometimes if the world is okay with people like Tina Fey being so revered because she downplays her looks - like would the Apatow crowd totally loose their shit if someone like Elizabeth Banks started drawing in more money than their underdogs like Jason Segal? It would be like their worst high school nightmares all over again. Anyhow, there are a lot of different ways to look at this stuff. For instance, whats up with Rashida Jones - with her roles in Parks and Rec, The Office, and I Love You Man, she must have a load of funny stuff under that 'straight man' act. Someone give her more funny stuff. And I thought Amanda Seyfried was amazingly funny in Mean Girls, so why is she making shitty romantic dramas these days?

So here are a few of my favorites who are managing to get their toes in the door with their babeness and then really deliver on the comedy.

Elizabeth Banks - I've loved her since that ditzy camp counselor she played in Wet Hot American Summer. Her and Paul Rudd really secured their roles as the hot hilarious couple of our generation's romantic comedies in that movie. I've gone to see movies like Slither in the theater cause I have such faith in her. She was amazing in the 40 Year Old Virgin -really rounding off the movie at a steady R rating. Banks has played everything from Laura Bush( W) to a slacker making a porno with her roomate (Zack and Miri). She occasionally plays totally normal not funny characters but she's also the only girl who seems to really fit in with the Apatow crowd. I wish they'd give her more good roles. Writing roles for actresses like Katherine Heigl and and Mila Kunis only proves how intimidated Apatow Inc. is of an actually funny gal like Elizabeth Banks.
Unfortunately, its really hard to find good clips from her online. Most of them are labeled "Elizabeth Banks in sexy panties!". This is a funny take on the Sarah Silverman fucking Matt Damon video. It actually makes more sense though, cause boning Seth Rogen will probably get you a lot further these days.

Anna Faris - Anna Faris is bypassing the Apatow machine and doing it on her own. She might in fact be the most successful of these blond babes because of that. She lists Goldie Hawn as her favorite actress and it really shows, she's like our generation's screwed up postmodern Goldie Hawn. She built up a good base with 4 Scary Movies and smaller roles in amazing stuff like The Hot Chick (oh yea and Brokeback Mountain and Lost In Translation). Then after really proving herself with an epic Britney's back! type performance in Just Friends she's now leading lady material in both big hollywood(The House Bunny) and art house movies(Smiley Face). When Greg Araki picks you to star in his only female fronted movie ever, well its like you've been chosen by the gods.

Rachel McAdams -Rachel McAdams plays the hot boring girl a lot, but when she does comedy its really great. I really wish she'd go back to doing some awesome stuff like Mean Girls or her small parts in The Hot Chick. Actually those two movies are really great in that they have more than one funny great actress in them. The Hot Chick is one of my not so secret favorites cause its got Anna Farris and Rachel McAdams as best friends, and then Rob Schneider comes in and switches bodies with Rachel McAdams. Seeing her play a hot chick whose body has been possessed by a loser criminal dude is kind of amazing. Like obviously he would try to cash in on her looks by doing some really shitty strip routines for money.

But really Mean Girls still really stands up there as one of the funniest teen girl movies ever. More proof that if you let Tina Fey continue world domination, with Amy Poehler as the all powerful Godmother, and then you let the female characters actually have substance and sass you can make a really good movie.

The Onion Goes Next Level, Once Again

The Onion has a really funny new video thats based off of the law (i think its only in some states) that requires you to watch an ultra-sound of your fetus before getting an abortion. This law is another ridiculous measure that treats women as if they were children who are unaware of their actions. Anyhow, this Onion video does a great job spoofing that and pretending there is a new law that makes a woman actually prepare a nursery and name the baby before getting the abortion.

New Law Requires Women To Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion

Is Deborah No Longer With Us?

Ya know what, when you work at real music stores no one throws you a spontaneous funeral so you won't go all Lady Bic on yourself. But well, thanks god for the land of Empire Records where everyone's hair and skirts are always getting shorter! Sinead O'Rebellion! At least in fantasy 1995 tv land things are cool. And while we're at it, lets fess up.... AJ might be going to art school(but he's sooo annoying) and while Rory Cochrane(Lucas) may be the best actor of all time,,,, well we all know we'd really end up picking Mark(Ethan Embry) to makeout with cause who can resist a sk8ter boi? I spent years trying to narrow those three down.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sound, Performance, Video

Karen Finlay- Enter Entrepreneur

Forough Farrokhzad - The House Is Black
The most influential female Iranian poet made this film about leprosy in 1962.

Kristen Oppenheim -
hey joe where ya goin wid dat pun in yer hand

Pauline Oliveros - Duet With Dog
One of the central figures of experimental electronic music does a duet with a dog friend.

Marina Rosenfield
- Sheer Frost Orchestra
Originally done in 1994 - 17 girls play 17 guitars with nail polish bottles

Possum Living

After dropping out of school in 7th grade, the young Dolly Freed became an expert on self education and living off the land. Her dad Frank had quit his job and the two lived off gardening, grains, light hunting, and deals, more in a pioneer way than a hippie way - it wasn't motivated by fads or politics. However this was 1978 and the American economy was up shit creek, much as it is today. When they eventually did need some money Dolly decided she would write a "how to" book on living cheaply. She wrote it up, went to the library and looked up contact info for book agents, and the next thing you know Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money was a cult classic and best seller. Dolly did press tours and interviews for a while but she really just wanted to get home to swimming and fishing.

Jezebel did a cool little piece billing her as "the coolest teenager of all time" and after watching the below videos on youtube I agree. I kept expecting her to say something naive or out of touch but even when her stepdad explains that he works to pay his mortgage she gives a well informed and researched answer about options that might cost far less. She's also very clear that she's isn't against the idea of working, she just thinks everyone should be able to enjoy their job, or choose to not work.

Recently journalist, Paige Williams, wrote a piece about finding Dolly Freed and what she's been up to. Dolly eventually grew bored of living at home and wanted to go off to college. She went to Rutgers, Temple, and finally Drexel Univ. eventually working as a bonafide rocket scientist for NASA where she met her husband of 20 years. Dolly and her husband now live a "half possum" lifestyle - she works as a nature educator for various schools and libraries and her husband is a music engineer. She still does a great deal of gardening and cheap living but now indulges in things like olive oil and cookbooks, she's considering writing a Possum Living Cookbook, which personally I'd be really interested in.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Good Man

The "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest": Legendary Folk Musician, Activist Utah Phillips, 1935-2008

Folk musician Utah Phillips died back in 2008 but he's one of my all time favorite Democracy Now interviews. Here are a few of my favorite parts...

About a friend teaching him that being a pacifist is like being an alcoholic....

"He said, “Well, I could give you a book by Gandhi, but you wouldn’t read it. So”—but he said, “You’ve got to look at nonviolence like—your capacity for violence like an alcoholic looks at booze.” Alcohol—booze will kill an alcoholic, unless he has the courage to sit in a circle of people that are like that, put his hand up and say, “Hi. My name is Utah. I’m an alcoholic.”........
Twenty years sober, you’re not going to sit in that circle and say, “Well, I’m not an alcoholic anymore.” You’re going to put up your hand and say, “My name is Utah. I’m an alcoholic.”

He said, “It’s the same with violence. You acknowledge your capacity for violence, you see, and you learn how to deal with it every day, every instant, in every situation for the rest of your life, because it’s not going to go away. But it will save your life.” See, it’s a different way of looking at pacifism. I have to be a pacifist, you see.

So I said, “OK, I’ll do that, Ammon.” And he said, “It’s not enough.” And I said, “Oh.” He said, “You were born a white man in mid-twentieth century industrial America. You came into the world armed to the teeth with an arsenal of weapons, the weapons of privilege, economic privilege, racial privilege, sexual privilege. You’re going to be a pacifist. You’re not just going to lay down guns and fists and knives and hard angry words. You’re going to have to lay down the weapons of privilege and go into the world completely disarmed. Well, you try that.” I’ve been at it—Ammon died over thirty years ago, and I’m still at it. But if there’s one struggle that animates my life, it’s probably that one."

And his thoughts on war and feminism:

It’s young people with guns, you know, that are doing it to everybody else. And we don’t have a problem with violence in the world. We’ve got a serious male problem. And I bought into it, so I know. And I’m buying myself out of it, you see. It’s terribly, terribly important for me for people to understand that and begin to shut up and listen. The most important movement in the world is the feminist movement. If we can really figure out what’s going on between men and women, the other problems will take care of themselves. I’m sure of it.

On getting rid of his TV:

Me, the last TV set I had, I shot. I don’t know what commercial importunement drove me off of the pier, but I hauled it into the backyard. It was up in Spokane, Washington, and I got a—had an old Stevens shotgun. I tied a scarf around it for a blindfold and scotch-taped a cigarette to the front and lit it and let it burn an appropriate amount of time, and then I blew a hole through it with the shotgun. It was out there in the lilac hedge, which grew through it eventually. It was kind of pretty after a while. But I have not—you know, I haven’t owned one of those foolish things since.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Thing You Should Read This Week

There's a really good response article over at Feministing this week in response to a really annoying article on the Double X blog, which is the neo-con "feminist" site that Slate put up in hopes of achieving Jezebel fame. Man, I'm sorry but the XX blog (otherwise known as Double X) really gets my blood going. I used to listen to their podcast but I can't even do that anymore. With article titles like "How Can You Possibly Outdo Eat, Pray, Love" and "Why I'm Sick Of Volunteering at My Kids Wealthy School", well, I'd say its a blog for wealthy Park Slope moms, but I almost feel like that's offending wealthy Park Slope moms. This is why people discredit feminism for being an upper-middle class white movement - because of "feminism" like Double X.
So Double X founder Emily Bazelon wrote this piece about the senate's debate over abortion coverage in the health care bill. While she acknowledged that its a bad idea to have abortion coverage separate from health coverage she says that its not bad to send the issue to the states and let them decide individually. This is the thing with Double X, it always sounds almost okay, but then its just not.
So then Feministing put up this great response explaining what is so problematic to start thinking of parts of the country as our sacrificial lambs.....

I realized from whence my disturbance comes...that it is sourced in that space of us and them and of have and have nots...of a movement that will forever carry the scars of past compromises that result in real consequences for some women who live in "conservative parts of the country" and thus live in a different America where the lack of "national reach" translates into a denial of rights.

One of the really creepy things is that with fights like this it doesn't just end at abortion. The easiest way to role back basic rights is to start small and gradually increase so that people barely notice that its sneaking into their lives. And it won't just stop at abortion.

It's a place many women and minorities know all too well.We who know this place know that when shit rolls down hill it picks up speed and mass and that these compromises never stay simple...and that little comfort can be found in knowing that women who live someplace else will have the same health care insurance options they had before reform when we who know this place teeter on the edge of reproductive Jim Crow.

The view is different from here, in a conservative part of the country where privacy and choice are deemed negotiable...where the denial of reproductive justice that is causally discussed in the luckier parts of the country manifests itself in pharmacy denials, sex education curricula designed to perpetuate sexual illiteracy, and waves upon waves of anti-choice legislation fueled, in part, by the apathy of those who either can't imagine needing the full range of reproductive health care services or know that a proper cushion of money solves pesky little problems like access and geography.

Political parties can be annoying and subscribing to labels like liberal or leftist can be trite, but I really do feel strongly about a belief in the fact that we are in this together. Maybe its because we're all ruled by the same government, but also cause those gals down below the mason dixon line driving for days to find a clinic or even a pharmacy are gals too, like us.

The Kathleen Hanna Papers

Bikini Kill lead singer and noted feminist Kathleen Hanna has just made a sizable donation to the NYU library. The library is referring to the donation as The Kathleen Hanna Papers and will make them a part of their newly announced Riot Grrrrl Collection. The “papers” are believed to contain her many zines, much of her correspondences and plenty of material pertaining to her time in Bikini Kill, as well as various other writings. This is cool for a number of obvious reasons.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Get On That Crazy Train

You may have seen comedian Maria Bamford in those recent Target commercials. As her agent told her - at first I didn't think I would like her due to the high pitched girly voice. But it grew on me.

Comedy Central PresentsFriday 10pm / 9c
Maria Bamford - Impressions
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

Maluca: El Tigeraso [Mad Decent]

OOIOO - Loke Kika

Transvision Vamp - If Looks Could Kill

Vanilla Ninja - Kauge Kuu

Mika Miko - I Got A Lot

The Plasmatics - Butcher Baby