Friday, October 9, 2009

A Sensitive Issue

This morning was one of those moments when I just don’t know what to think. I usually watch the local Fox morning news. Mainly because it’s the only local news cast on weekday mornings in Dallas. And there really isn’t much of the partisan politics that the Fox network usually gets accused of on the morning show. Mostly it’s a classic morning news show: stodgy, older anchor; perky, young co-anchor; whacky traffic guy, etc. They do live shots from elementary schools, say “happy birthday” to little kids and older folks, and tell you if you need to carry your umbrella. Honestly, at 7:30 in the a.m., I don’t really care what’s happening outside of my own Metroplex. I’ll catch up on CNN after work.

But this morning, they were talking about the movies opening for the weekend, and one of the flicks mentioned was Chris Rock’s doc “Good Hair.” And I don’t want to say that the two anchors sounded exactly prejudiced. But my spidey senses started kind of tingling at the really dismissive manner they treated the movie’s subject. I don’t like to call “racist” without some damned good evidence. But it was like one of those moments where you’re talking to a group of people that you thought you knew, and the conversation takes a weird turn talking about race, or sexuality, or nationality, and you’re suddenly wondering if in a minute or two you’re going to have to take a stand. You’re not exactly ready to jump on your high horse, but you might want to check the saddle girth, just in case.

I’m lucky in that I’ve had black girlfriends that I’ve been close enough to in order to ask the stupid questions about black hair. “What’s with that really thick conditioner, dreads, straightening? What’s a conk? What does nappy mean? How long does it take to do braids?” And for all of those friends, hair has been anywhere from a moderate issue to a great big emotional thing. I don’t know anyone who was black and female for whom hair was no big deal. It always seems to mean something. Me, I’ve always thought that if I was black, I’d wear one of those cute little natural ‘dos that Shari Belafonte used to rock back in the 80s. But I’ve known very few black women who’ve chosen either the afro or braids. And given what a costly, time-consuming and potentially painful choice straight hair is, there’s obviously some heavy emotion at play if so many people chose it. Certainly not something I would expect two public figures to make light of.

But not everybody has the chance to ask a good friend a potentially embarrassing question in a safe environment. And given that two presumably well-educated and clued-in newscasters acted pretty condescending about something that they appeared to know very little about, I’d say that if “Good Hair” is a movie that can be that explains “good hair” to white people the way that black friend they’ve never had would, then it deserves to be on at least two people I could name’s must see list.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


On the one hand, it's kinda sad. In a I-shouldn't-be-laughing-that's-kinda-sad-no-seriously-just-because-your-hand-is-over-your-mouth-doesn't-make-laughing-okay kind of way.

On the other hand, I have to admire his chutzpah. A donkey, a bottle of Clairol and some masking tape. That's can-do spirit.

On another hand (if you'll allow the handsiness), little kids should see real zebras, and okapi, and pandas. And goofing on a kid this way is just wrong. Funny as HELL. But wrong.

And, fourth hand, it just shows that kids are excited to see zebras. Any zebras. Even jacked up, tagged, could you just even try to get the stripes kinda right, hillbilly ingenuity zebras.

The Emperor is POed that somebody pointed out his naked butt

Boing Boing are my new heroes. Not afraid to name them and shame them. Ralph Lauren can put out these surreal images all they want. That's their right. But other people have the right to say, "Um, dood. That's whackadoodle."

What I'd like to know is, how is it that this image was photographed of what I have to presume is a rail-thin by normal standards model, and then someobody said, "Nope. Not thin enough"? Then they airbrushed her into something not-quite-human. And NOBODY NOTICED. I would have to assume that dozens of ad department people and dozens of Ralph Lauren people looked at this picture and JUST DIDN'T NOTICE that she looked bizarre. How screwed up is their perception that they can't tell normal from NOT NORMAL??

Here's the thing. I know women don't look like this. I've met real models. They don't look like this either. If it was possible to look like this, I would choose not to look like this. It is weird. And wrong. And kind of creepy. No. Really creepy. And I would be scared to buy Ralph Lauren clothes because they might make me look like Jack Skellington's best girl. I would think that maybe RL might be a little grateful that somebody had the balls to say "Um, Mr. President? The Bay of Pigs? Maybe not so much."

But the threatening? BS. Just plain BS. And I'm backing Boing Boing all they way. Here's the link:

Hit 'em up. Click like the wind. Pass it to your friends. Talk about it. Regardless of what some power mad merchants of surreality may try to tell you, it's still a free country.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Progress Report - Project Shakespeare

Okay, so my prep for the Shakespeare on Sunday proceeds apace. I found the half pint canning jars for the “meal in a jar” at Target. I broke the bank and got the Platinum Series Ball jars with the wide mouths. I liked that they were kind of squatty, and it would be easier to get your spoon in the wide mouth to scrape out whatever yummy goodness is in side. A whole $5.49 for 4 of them. And actually I bought 2, so we’re talking big money.

For the crocheted jar cozies, I found cotton yarn on sale for $1 a ball at Wal-Mart in a variegated rainbow color called “gum drop.” I looked on-line, but never found a pattern that rang my bell. The few I found were a bit too fancy, if you can imagine that. So, I grabbed my hook and started experimenting. My experience making amigrumi frogs really came in handy. After a couple of false starts, I got the bottom the right size, and from there it was pretty easy. I added a drawstring to keep things snug, and give it a little flair. I’ve got three and a half finished. And I’m very optimistic that I’ll have the full set done by the weekend.

Then recipes. I found a Paula Deen recipe for cornbread that I think should work. I decided that it would need to be pretty moist cornbread, since I don’t want it to act like a sponge and soak up the stew on top. And lord knows, Ms. Paula specializes in moist. I also found a green chile stew recipe that sounds pretty kickin’. But I’m handing off stew responsibilities, since it’s not really my forte. (Yes, I do feel it necessary to tell others what to cook. I'll calm down soon.) And I think we’ve landed on the cauliflower puree on the top. For dessert? The Washington Post came to the rescue today with a recipe for pumpkin sandwich cookies (whoopee pies) that sound ideal – seasonal and not too messy.

Momo is on tap for the wine. She’s a wine gal, so she actually cares beyond any old hooch, and is a good wine steward. Now I just need to peg somebody with responsibility for bringing a thermos of hot tea (looks like there might be some chill in the air – made to order). And we’re all set. Photos of the end results on Monday. Pity the show is getting, shall we say, “unfortunate” reviews. You can’t have it all.

Monday, October 5, 2009


This is a recipe that I came up with as my “covered dish” for a recent brunch. I wanted something non-alcoholic that would substitute for the mimosa. But a little more unusual than just plain orange juice. I think this is a little challenging, because it’s a slightly unusual flavor profile, but very crisp and refreshing and a nice counter point to breakfast food. Haven’t thought up a zippy name for it yet, so I’ll just call it what it is.

Cucumber, lavender and citrus agua fresca

1 tsp. dried lavender flowers
3 ½ c. water (divided)
½ c. sugar
A few drops almond extract (a very little goes a long way here)
3 limes
1 lemon
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced into ½” pieces
½ cucumber, sliced (for garnish)

In a small pan, combine lavender and ½ c. water and bring to a light boil. Strain to remove lavender and return water to heat. Add sugar and simmer until completely dissolved. Remove from heat.

In a blender, combine juice of 2 limes and the lemon with the lavender simple syrup, water, the seeded cucumber and almond extract (reserve 1 lime). Blend until all of the cucumber is liquefied. Taste and adjust water, sugar or lime juice (from reserved lime) to taste. [Note: leave keep everything in the blender until you have the flavor where you want it. The blender is very effective in getting sugar to dissolve quickly.]

Chill and serve with slices of cucumber and lime (if you have any left) as garnish.

Free to Bee You and Me

Last night I took my niece along as my wing woman for my regular Theatre 3 tickets. It was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Which got a lot of attention when it opened in New York. For my taste I think it’s a good show that can be made great by a cracker jack cast, or could be a complete cluster by a middling cast. Luckily, our cast was en fuego.

The story is about elementary school kids in a spelling bee (truth in advertising), and the kids are played by adults. There’s a real borderline that could be easily crossed when adults play kids. Go too cutesy and it gets irritating bordering on creepy. But the actors did a really good job of playing the kid who is inside the adult-to-be. Because really, by the time you’re spelling bee age, many of the elements that will make you the adult you will be are already there. You’re just learning to cope with them. And I’d read a few reviews that noted that some of the actors were off key. For me, it actually worked. Enough to think that it may have been a really canny acting choice that added a verite element to the show. If you’ve ever actually sat through an elementary school music production, you know you’re in for a night of kids missing the tune by thismuch.

The actors also did a nice job of engaging the audience in-character. From audience members who became spellers in the bee and found themselves in the middle of dance routines (better them than me), to one woman in the front row who was the object of the funniest pre-pubescent mack-daddy routine I’ve ever seen. But they never crossed the Tony & Tina’s Wedding line into that “Oh, for chrissakes, I paid for you to act, not me, lemme alone” zone. And I thought that the one character throwing candy into the audience was a nice touch. Though when you have a noted candy freak in the audience and stiff her (hee hee, that’s a much funnier line if you’ve seen the show) on the sweet stuff, that’s just rude. Hook a sister up.

I think the only bad moment I had was when I realized I’d been remiss in doing my due diligence and found myself sitting next to a kid who’s being exposed to boner jokes. But then she laughed. And really, at 17, if she’s not getting the woody humor, I really haven’t done my job as an aunt.

I'd say that if you see this show playing in your area, being done by a theater you trust, give it a try. I haven't seen an audience having that good a time in years.

TIME: Quotes of the Day