Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rubbing out romance

Wouldn't you just hate to have a mother like this?
There's a princess in my house. I know she's a princess, because she wears a purple fun-fur-and-silver-glitter tiara, changes her clothes five times a day, and issues regular commands in an imperious voice.

She's 31/2. I ask her what, exactly, a princess is. She says it's a girl who wears pretty dresses and a crown and can fly.

"I'm beautiful, aren't I, Mommy?" she asks when she dons one of her many dress-up dresses, most obtained for $3 at a thrift store.

Her favourite colours are purple, pink and yellow.

I am slowly but surely trying to instil my feminist values into her -- to absolutely no effect.
Oh, don't worry. St. Ignatius Loyola said "Give me a child until he is 7, and I will give you the man", so even though you're working on indoctrinating a girl, that expert would tell you you've still got half the term left to make the grade.

Sometimes we have breakthroughs.

I was reading Snow White one day when we came to the point where the prince sees Snow White in the glass case and instantly falls in love with her.

"Why?" she asked. "Why did he fall in love with her?"

I was stumped. "I guess it's because she's pretty," I said. "But maybe he won't like her so much when she wakes up. She's kind of boring."
So don't try to be pretty, kid. Only ugly women are interesting. God forbid that at this tender age, a girl could have her mind clouded by thoughts of "love at first sight" or "it was meant to be" or any of the other formulas we use to try to convey something mysterious and otherworldly.

"These stories teach girls from a very young age that the prime purpose of life is to attract and keep a mate, not to find a career or a way of life that brings them any interests beyond consumerism."
Interesting that she equates "consumerism" with the mere act of love and marriage, and NOT with "finding a career", which, with its invariably mercantile side, is explicitly linked to a consumer society. Who gets the salary, the wife and mother or the career woman? And what is a salary but money? And what is money for but buying things?

I don't know why the writer picks on the Disney princesses; Ariel and Belle were deliberately created to be unconventional heroines, and they're hardly the passive plants complained of in more traditional fairy tales. Belle is literate and Ariel is daring; both of them are resourceful and adventurous. I'm not really much of an apologist for Disney, but it's just ridiculous not to notice that they've changed the pattern for their fairytale heroines from the days of Snow White.

I'm so glad my mother didn't hang over me like a vulture when I was reading. I pretty much was left on my own to read anything I liked. The only time she interfered was when I was about 12 and got hold of a copy of 'The Godfather' (out of HER room, mind you!) She must have thought that was a bit strong for a kid (probably the sex scenes) and it quietly vanished from my room before I finished it. I didn't make a fuss; it was her book, after all, and I wasn't enjoying it much anyway. But I don't ever recall her horning in on my Sherlock Holmes or Bobbsey Twins stories to deliver lectures on how inferior their world was because it didn't match up with her ideals. It would have rather defeated the point of reading altogether to keep insisting that every page be graded for political correctness.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More on Doctor Who

I was surprised and delighted to get an email from a friend in Chicago who'd read my Doctor Who post; I thought the show had a strictly British/Commonwealth following. It's great that Americans know about it too. Though when is one able to view it? We have fancy HD cable, and the only time it comes on is at about 3:00AM on the BBC 'foreign service' channel. If that marathon hadn't come on, I wouldn't have seen it at all.

Anyway, I ambled by Andrew Rilstone's blog and was excited to see that he'd posted something on the 2009 Doctor Who finale I'd just watched. I've read his blog off and on for years, but I'm forever bookmarking it because of some zinger post, and then furiously deleting the bookmark a week later because of something outrageous - he's that kind of writer, very polarizing and contradictory. But the guy really knows his Doctor Who. Go and read his post on the episode itself, which goes on to discuss how the writer (Russell Davies) has mangled and garbled the Doctor Who universe by grasping after the shiny baubles of effect and sensation, sacrificing a coherent mythos in the process. Then follow the link at the bottom to the rest of his Doctor Who writing. (The topic had seemed to have gone dormant for about a year, which is why I was so pleased to see the new essay today.)

He's also just put out a book of collected blog essays, with the stimulating title, "Where Dawkins Went Wrong". Check out the preview section to get a sample of his writing on Dawkins - he's realy a very clear-headed critic. I'm sorry to see it doesn't contain his essays on Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' movies, which was where I first discovered him. But maybe that will appear in some future volume. Anyway, I've ordered the book, fully aware of the risk that I will react furiously to half of it, the way I do to his blog, but the brilliance of the good stuff is worth the risk.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'll take 'Things Ending in '-oscopy'' for 100, Alex

One of the delights of passing the magic age of 50 is that your doctor will suddenly sign you up as a candidate for all sorts of new tests. I am scheduled for a colonoscopy tomorrow morning at 8:30. Why? Because I'm the right age for it! It's just a way of screening for colon cancer, which is a good thing, of course, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. But I figured, why not do a thorough check the first time around, and then if everything is OK, I can probably get by with annual specimen samples.

There is a multi-day preparation involved, starting on Wednesday, when I stopped eating anything with seeds, including tomatoes and cucumbers. Supper last night was my last solid food until this is over, and I had to take two Dulco-Lax tablets before going to bed. I'll vouch for the "-Lax" part; a little less emphasis on the "Dulco", though. Nothing but clear liquids today and tomorrow until the procedure is over. That's not so bad, but I've also got to take 2 packets of something called Pico-Salax, dissolved in water. This works the same way as Dulco-Lax...only more. I had the second dose of the magic elixir at 6:00, and if this keeps up much longer, my colon is going to be inside-out. I think I'm going to head to bed soon, and hope I can get through the night without interruptions.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Doctor Who

We had some interesting TV on New Year's Day: a Doctor Who marathon. Marathons are very popular over the holidays: I saw a Mayday marathon on the Discovery Channel, and there were marathons of Parking Wars, Police Women of Broward County and several other such shows. But I was surprised to see Doctor Who, because it doesn't seem to be THAT popular here, despite the old British connection to Canada. Nothing to compare with Star Trek, that's for sure.

Anyway, just out of curiosity, I decided to watch it, and realized that it was the final episodes of the last season. My, it's changed a lot. The Doctor has changed, of course - he's changed several times since the last time I paid attention to the show, which was when Peter Davidson was the Doctor. Actually, I left off watching the show after he became the Doctor; he was just too "Tristan Farnon" for me, and I could never adjust to him in the new role. The last Doctor I really connected with was this guy:

The best Doctor, without a doubt.

The last fellow, David Tennant, was alright, though I got a bit sick of his glaring and bellowing, but then, the stories were vastly more melodramatic than the old classic series, so there was much more scope for scenery chewing. (I'd love to see Rifftrax take on Doctor Who, come to think of it!) The special effects of this reworked Doctor Who are a LOT better than they used to be, but the season finale had to go and throw in a gay pickup in a bar, which spoiled it for me. "Oh, we've got THAT now. I see." I guess this sort of thing plays well in England these days, but it'll probably date modern TV and film faster than anything else.

But one thing I can't fault the show for is its theme. The best sci-fi show theme ever; maybe even up among the best TV show themes of all time. It's been rattling around in my head since New Years: oooOOOOOooooooo! OOOOOO-oooooo! I don't even mind the modern reworking of it, with an orchestral setting; the original was pure synthesizer, but this is good too. To contrast the two, here's the theme I remember from the Olden Days when I watched the show, and the new one. The logo is different, but you can't beat that tune.

And this is the new version. A bit more hectic, but still good:

A very small tail wagging a very big dog

The news today is that New Jersey's senate has become the latest state legislature to vote against homosexual "marriage". I haven't been by the Swan of Newark's digs lately, but this sounds like it will be sure to inspire a three-hanky pastorale very shortly.

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago I saw this interesting map of the U.S., which puts the furor on this boutique fetish into perspective:

The map appears to be from 2007, but it depicts places where the issue has actually been voted on, rather than where it's been imposed by legislative or judicial fiat. And what's more interesting, is it shows the vote by percentage of "intensity" in individual districts across the U.S., so you can see where interest for and against is strongest and where it's just tepid. Opinions don't change that much in just 2 years, and what changes have occurred might well have tilted the map further into the red (such as California last year).

Any thinking person will have to be struck by just how TINY the committed pro-homosexual marriage camp is. They are holed up in a few tiny green fortresses, almost swallowed up by the vast ocean of distaste that prevails in the rest of the country. And yet these insignificant misfits have succeeded in barking their fetish onto every television screen and newspaper in the country, and hogging attention far out of proportion to their puny cause.

It's a true case of a grown man being led around by his...well, nose I suppose is the standard cliche, but I think it would be more accurate to refer to a different, though similar-sized organ.