Running to stand still

18 11 2012

What is the line between acceptance and resignation? Is there a line?

I do not accept my body.  No, wait, that’s not right: It’s my body, and it feels like my body, and some parts are fine and some parts are not, blah blah.

But it is rounder than I would like and I wonder if this is what inevitably happens with age or with the shifting assertion of my Absurd and Beat genes or if this is simply the result of my unwillingness to give up cheese and beer and chocolate or to work out more than I do.

If it is a battle of wills, then my will for my kick-ass home-made peanut butter bars is kicking my will for a taut ass.

I’ve been going to the gym for over two (three?) years and have “progressed”: I am stronger and my muscles have more definition and despite my recent back-induced sabbatical, I’m confident that this trend will continue.

Why the scare quotes for “progress”? Because in this context I’m not sure what it means. Is progress about gaining strength, or staving off decline? Is it about being healthy for my age, or to be healthier than others my age—to be healthy for someone younger than me? Is there some point at which I won’t add be able to add more weight, to increase my speed on the bike or treadmill or loop around the park? Will it be progress simply to be able to do anything at all?

I’d like to run the New York marathon some day, and to do that I will train, with a clear goal in mind (finish within a respectable period of time).

But I’m not now training for that marathon, I’m training for. . . huh: I’m not training at all. I want to look better and feel better even if I don’t know what “better” means, I know that it’s not what I look like now. I’d like to be leaner, tighter: I’d like my discipline apparent in my body.

Ah, and there it is: my discipline is apparent in my body.

*Sigh*





It’s gone, gone, gone, and it’s never coming back

15 11 2012

File this under “oh for fuck’s sake!”

All City University of New York campuses were closed that Monday-Thursday of the storm, and although weekend classes were held beginning that Friday, most of us didn’t return to work until the following week.

Fine.

The different campuses/CUNY had to decide what to do with that missing week, whether to adjust schedules, extend the semester, write off the time off, etc.

Again, fine. A missed week of instruction is a serious matter, so considering how to deal with it is reasonable.

However.

Not everything can be fixed. There have been suggestions about assigning students extra work, making up classes at another time, scheduling activities outside of the class, which again, while not unreasonable, lead me to that exasperated ohforfuck’ssake.

I put a lot of work into my syllabus, and losing that week matters to me, but it is precisely because I put a lot of thought into the semester’s schedule that I find the suggestions that I shoehorn something extra in just. . . y’know, to pretend that the lost week was not, in fact, lost, really crisps my nippers.

I’m being churlish, I know, and the suggestions offered are not necessarily bad ones, but honest to pete, do administrators really think that either instructors or students can somehow add hours to the week? Do they not understand that students (and their laaaaarrge contingent workforce) have other commitments that might just conflict with the make-up time? Do they in fact think that time is fungible, such that the hours not used during that lost week can somehow be plucked out and glued on to the weeks following?

*grumble mumble piss moan sniff*

The week is gone gone gone daddy gone, and unless my campus is willing to extend the semester a week, we should just say sayonara and be done with it. Anything else is mere Potemkin pedagogy.





Weird wonder 16 redux: Kathryn Rathke!

14 11 2012

Hey! Remember Kathy Rathke?

Sure you do! She’s the bitchin’ graphic artist who created this, back in the day:

And other stuff!

Amazing sly talented Kathy—ahem, Kathryn, her professional name is Kathryn Rathke, and you can see her current work here—is featured in The Stranger’s Slog series of people who both voted for Obama and manage to wake before noon*:

(Who took this photo? It’s a great shot!)

*Stranger writer Goldy posted a vid of conservative crybaby Cal Thomas complaining that Obama was elected only by moochers who sleep until noon, so his colleague Dominic Holden decided to run with it.

Anyway, read what she has to say, then read the comments and see “katrat” responding to a compliment with a thank you and a pug.

Yes, a pug. She’s sly that way.





Listen to the music: No I don’t want to hear it

13 11 2012

Four hundred and sixty.

That’s how many cds were stolen, four hundred and sixty: 407 pop, et. al., and 53 classical. Of those, I replaced 276 of the stolen pop, and 22 of the stolen classical—which means of course, that 131 pop and 31 classical were not replaced.

I’m no longer exactly sure how my cds are arranged—since they’re now all in my wine-box bureau, i.e., hidden away, I’m much less likely to rearrange them by various genres—but it looks as if my jazz, classical, traditional, and perhaps soundtracks are separated from the pop, blues, and electronica stuff.

So, had my collection not been pilfered, I would have already listened to:

1. Dot Allison, Afterglow
2. American Music Club, Mercury
3. Laurie Anderson, Mister Heartbreak
4. Laurie Anderson, Home of the Brave
5. Laurie Anderson, The Ugly One With the Jewels and Other Stories
6. The Band, The Last Waltz

I would have been able to replace all of these from the used bins while I was living in Montreal, but for whatever reason, I chose not to.

Right after the burglary, I was mad to rebuild my collection exactly as it had been, title for title, whether or not I had listened to or even much liked the lost cd. After awhile, however, I relaxed, and while browsing for the gone-away cds would also be on the lookout for new (used) discs that I wanted more than the old-used discs.

I do remember that I wasn’t terribly impressed with Laurie Anderson’s Mister Heartbreak, and while I liked Dot Allison’s cd, there were always others that, on my scavenges, I found more interesting. I can always get that later, I thought.

Yes, I did have renter’s insurance, but there was a limit as to the dollar amount of the cds they’d replace. I bought extra coverage, but it still wasn’t enough to pay for everything. (I’m not complaining: my insurer dealt with me quickly and didn’t contest any of my claims.) Anyway, that my coverage was limited meant that I couldn’t just stroll to the HMV and load up on [outrageously high-priced] new cds.

That was fine, actually, as I preferred with both cds and books* to prowl the used shops. I’m not much of either a shopper or a hunter, but my atavistic impulses emerge at the challenge of trying to find what I want in the bins and on the shelves.

Then there is the added thrill of coming across something that just looks. . . intriguing, and taking it home for the hell of it. Sure, that can happen at a new-goods store, but it seems that kismet is more likely at a hodgepodge kinda joint.

So while I didn’t  replace 162 of the cds (although there are a few I couldn’t find and still pine for), I did end up finding room for hundreds of cds I might not have otherwise.

On the whole, I’d rather I hadn’t been burglarized, but with the music, at least, the loss led to something more.

*Oddly, not one of my books was stolen. I wonder why that was. . . .





Listen to the music: Banjo on my knee

12 11 2012

Okay, so I happen to be listening to the Be Good Tanyas sing “Oh, Susanna” when I wrote the title to this post.

No, I don’t have a banjo.

I do, however, have a guitar, an Epiphone by Gibson, purchased, mmm, back in the 1990s at Aabe’s Music in south Minneapolis. It’s black and nice and the back of the neck is curved so that my wee hand can cup it and my wee fingers can squeeze all of the strings on the fret.

Not that my wee hand has cupped the neck any time recently.

I took lessons when I first got the guitar, and. . . never made it out of a Mel Bay’s beginner’s book. I did learn some chords and could play (badly) a few Beatles’ tunes, a Suzanne Vega song, and parts of a few Indigo Girls’ songs.

I stopped, started, stopped, started, stopped, started, stopped. My guitar was tucked in my closet until a few months ago, when I said, Self, time to start again.

I did not.

As I was circling Prospect Park today I wondered why I didn’t just give up and give the guitar away. It’s been years and . . . honestly, did I think I was ever going to get good enough that practicing was more fun than frustrating?

Why not? Why not believe I might start yet again, and that even if I stop again, one of these start-agains will lead to me. . . playing, actually playing the guitar?

Why not believe I can have a life in which I am always trying to play the guitar?

I keep trying to breathe; there must be more than one way to breathe.

~~~

13. Laurie Anderson, Life on a String
14. Marc Anthony, (eponymous)
15. Arcade Fire, Funeral
16. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
17. Joan Armatrading, Classics
18. B-52’s, (eponymous)
19. B-52’s, wild planet
20. B-52’s, Cosmic Thing
21. Susanna Baca, espiritu vivo
22. Susanna Baca, eco de sombras
23. Back From the Grave, Vol. 8
24. Eryka Badu, Baduizm
25. Eryka Badu, Mama’s Gun
26. The Band, Greatest Hits
27. Be Good Tanyas, Blue Horse





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Wrap it up

11 11 2012

And so ends the election season.

A few last points before I lay this theme to rest:

1. Winning is nice. I’ll enjoy it while I can, because wins don’t last. (And for those who lost, don’t despair:  losing doesn’t last, either.)

2. I understand how and why it happened—Gingrich, Trump, Cain, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann—but I’m still amused that the Republicans nominated the man who lost to the man who lost to Barack Obama in 2008.

3. Similarly, while I understand why it happened, it seems to me that a man who made his fortune as a financier was not the best person to send into the ring in the midst of a shaky recovery from a savage recession. It could have worked—turnaround specialist!—but that’s not really what Romney did, and his political personality didn’t allow him to transcend the sense that he was the boss who fired you, not the boss who hired you.

4. I won’t diagnose the ills of  the Republican Party or recommend fixes because a) I am not a Republican and b) concern-trolling is annoying, and c) I’d rather put my efforts in trying to figure out a left-political program than a right-political program.

(And that, it seems, is necessary. Barack Obama deserved the votes of leftists not because he was leftist but because, unlike his opponent, he would at least inch us toward something better. Those of us on the left need continually to make sense of that something better, and to find effective ways to blunt policies which are decidedly not better, e.g., regarding secrecy, surveillance, and the drug war. Oh, and that whole capitalism and immiseration thing.)

5. That said, developing some sort of philosophy of or program for governance might be worth considering. “No!” is a slogan, not a platform.

6. It is entirely too soon to begin speaking intelligently about the chances for possible candidates in 2016. For those who might want to run, however, it is not, unfortunately, too soon to begin thinking about it, and in a year (and certainly in two) to begin working toward it.

That is among the many reasons I am very glad that I am not now nor will I ever be a candidate for president of the United States.

7. That presidential campaigns are multi-year endeavors is a pox on our polity.

Election campaigns and governance are not the same thing, and what is required to win in elections can be detrimental to good governance. To the extent that we are fully in an era of the permanent campaign bodes ill for said governance.

8. I take back nothing I said about the “everything goes” nature of presidential campaigns, and I expect that same sensibility to drive the 2016 race.

Now, that lying didn’t always work this campaign doesn’t mean it won’t be a part of the toolkit for future campaigns—although, again, smart tacticians will recognize when such lying is counterproductive. Romney was able to make deft use lies during the primary, but the Obama campaign was much swifter (first debate excepted) in rebutting those lies than were Romney’s fellow Republicans, which meant that lying should have been abandoned in favor of more effective tactics.

The Romney tacticians didn’t do so, which speaks poorly of their abilities.

9. To be fair to those same tacticians, however, the road to the White House is always steeper for the challenger than for the incumbent—that’s just how it is.

There’s plenty of easily-available information on the advantages of incumbency, as well as the role that a declining, advancing, or stagnant economy plays in the election. The US economy was/is still weak in 2012, but it is also clearly in recovery. The Romney campaign focused on the first part without taking account of the second, and thus were unable to shape a message which matched the reality.

10. How much campaigns matter is still up for debate, but in the face of uncertainty, it seems prudent to act as if the campaigns mattered more than anything.

Romney said in his concession speech that he and his staff “left it all on the field”, and I don’t doubt that. But it’s also clear that the Obama campaign was demonstrably superior in organization, especially in voter mobilization. Whatever Romney left on the field, Obama had more, and better.

And, of course, Obama was a good candidate. Yes, he was flat in the first debate, but that misstep was so magnified in part because it was so rare. Romney wasn’t terrible as a candidate, but as the challenger he needed to be much, much better than the incumbent. He was not.

~~~

Herein lyeth the end of the Mayan campaign mashup of 2012. May we all find some peace and comfort before the circus beginneth again.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: It was sad, so sad

9 11 2012

I am so enjoying the wailing and gnashing of teeth among celebrity conservatives.

Oh no, we lost America! America died! The makers have taken over! Alas and alack, we are ruined! No marriage, no babies, just guns and ammo and hunkering down for the coming doom!

Et cetera.

TNC has a post up on the denialism of such reactions, and many, many others have corralled the increasing number of howls into lists of lamentations and these are all so. . . incredibly. . . amusing.

I have zero sympathy for the pundits and professional liars, so my joy in their sorrow is pure.

Regular folks, though, the people who make no money spinning bullshit into gold but who honestly believe that Republicans have the best ideas and that the country will now be worse off under Obama than it would have been under Romney, I do sympathize with them.

I’ve been there. It hurts. It hurt to care and believe and work and lose. It always hurts to lose.

There’s a tumblr called White People Mourning Romney that, yeah, I clicked through, but I felt bad for doing so (and am thus not linking to it). There are a few screenshots of the Fox-Cons, but most of the pictures were of ordinary Republicans looking sad.

I didn’t enjoy that. People shouldn’t be mocked for caring about their country or hooted at because they wanted to win and are crying because they lost.

Politics is about a lot of things, but at the center of it is love. Karl Rove might believe the crap he spews, but he’s also paid to spew; the volunteers and voters just believe, and they do the work because they love their country and believe that their ideas and politicians are the best for the country.

Yes, some of them hate—politics is also about hate—and motives regardless are almost always mixed. But let’s give the ordinary losers the dignity of their love and hope and dreams.

As for the rest of them—Krauthammer and O’Reilly and Coulter and Lopez and that whole lot—-do not let pity interfere with your enjoyment of their dismay.