I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mystery Science Theater Thanksgiving

While at the Con, Beloved procured for me a poster signed by Joel Hodgson. I'm a fan of his work, but that is not what made this token so dear. He had signed it "Happy Thanksgiving!" Y'see, what my dear spouse knows and perhaps did not share with Joel, is that MST3K, while a fine show, is also a reminder of my personal rock bottom.

It was Thanksgiving. My law school break was so short and I was so deep in a hole that I was staying on in Iowa City. I was boarding in the house of my college friend's mom. It was usually just us in the house. We had settled into a quiet rhythm together. I cleared out as she prepared for the onslaught of kids and grands, and sought out the other Thanksgiving refugees. There were two candidates -- both men I had some history with. One was sort of dodging me. So that left James.

James looked and acted just like Kiefer Sutherland's vampire bad-*ss in "The Lost Boys". Our relationship centered around my need to carpet the legal world with my resume and his job at Kinko's. He was ostensibly taking classes, but more notable were his achievements in horticulture -- of those plants one cultivates with a growlight in one's closet.

James and his buddies were settling in for the MST3K marathon. I thought that sounded like a kitschy way to spend Thanksgiving until I realized that that was the sum total of what we were doing that day. Not eating. Not conversing. Just sitting in rapt silence punctuated by that swallowed laugh, that "h-h-huh" characteristic of stoners. I thought I might leave this pathetic scene until it occurred to me, Where would I go?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Police State

Now, I'm not saying we live in a police state. Mind you, I'm not saying we DON'T live in a police state. I'm just saying that the only time I hear anybody claim that we're living in a police state it's when a White guy is indignant over Homeland Security's treatment of his wife. Or his son's wife. Oh yeah, our immigration policy is all fun and games until it's your kin in the slammer with all those unclean Mexican border crossers. "Why, they're treating her like a... like a common immigrant." And then, and I am not kidding, this is what always comes next... "What about MY rights?"

Rights to what? To a foreign hottie? That must be somewhere in this penumbra I've heard so much about.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who you calling Sandy?

I think it is fair to say that, as a group, culturally, Arizonans don't privilege professionals. This is true across all professions. We consult osteopaths and chiropractors before we'll go to MD's; "document preparers" before lawyers; charter schools before district schools. And we all think we're landscapers and construction engineers.

This is frontier living. Don't let the smarty-pants elites come in from the coast and get rich off of making things more complicated than they need to be. Here we've gotten this far with horse sense and cash on the barrel-head.

I'm sympathetic to this mindset. On the East Coast, where I'm from, it would have been unthinkably flaky to send my children to a charter school or to an osteopath. Then again, on the East Coast, I might not have had the courage to go into business for myself.

But, as an attorney in business for myself, I also see the limits of this thinking. I can sit down with a client and explain to him the limits of his options and inevitably I'll see him later in very different straits after he's paid three times my fee to some unlicensed notario who's promised him the moon.

So I feel for Robert Pela in his confessions of a blog snob. (I like him already because he's a scholar of Baltimore native son John Waters). I feel for him, but with reservations.

As a journalist, he likened his experience of the usual blog fare to that of a chef going to a bakery and finding only "pecan sandies." That comparison is not apt. If I understand him right, I agree with his generalization that most bloggers are unschooled, unedited, and undisciplined compared to real journalists. But then the appropriate comparison is not to "pecan sandies" but to home-made brownies, no?

To further torture the analogy, I think it would be fair to say that lots of home-made brownies, like lots of blogs, are just plain bad. I would even go so ahead and say "toxic." But, ok, SOME home-made brownies, like some blogs, are quite good and, even if not so polished, maybe at least have a charm that comes of being fresh? local? authentic?

And Mr. Pela will surely concede that lots of journalism isn't exactly artisan craft either. It is carelessly re-packaged PR releases and staged puffery. And surely that's your "pecan sandies." (Not to pick on sandies. I rather like sandies.)

Mr. Pela, you are fighting the good fight over at our feisty alternative free weekly, where your investigative reporting fights for attention among the singles ads and "The Angriest Dog in the World." So I know your quarrel is not with my home-made brownies, but with the hegemony of that stale flavorless junk journalism.