Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everyone Hates Anonymity

I just read a rather witty and concise article about the new Shakespeare authorship intrigue film, Anonymous: Wouldn't It Be Cool if Shakespeare Wasn't Shakespeare? from The New York Times Magazine. It's full of well-crafted, biting sarcasm--the best kind, in my opinion.

Ignoring the missed opportunity to use (correctly, thus reiterating the article's point) the subjunctive mood in the title, I'm not sure quite what this says about the 2009 Supreme Court decision, but somehow I still want to see the movie. Just for kicks.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Pumpkin Is No Cinderella

La-di-da-de-dah, time to go to the pumpkin patch! Carving pumpkins is so much fun!

If I could just--cut--out--the--stem--



Ladies and Gentlemen: this is no ordinary pumpkin.

This pumpkin has, in all likelihood, been genetically engineered to resist carving.

Please observe the following cross-section:

Note the absurdly thick rind. The dense flesh. The self-healing property that instantly converts partially sliced skin into a consistency not unlike the stem.

This is no ordinary pumpkin.

If I were in a horror movie, eerie music would begin to play in the background, and someone would be readying the fake blood.

And yet I had such high hopes for you. Those tattoos? Should have used pencil. Or had lower expectations for my fine detail control when required to use a BUTCHER KNIFE.

And yet, in the end, good triumphs over evil.

Jen triumphs over the pumpkin.

And the year's masterpiece fishbowl of terror is (close enough to finally call it quits) complete. Watch out, little Nemo.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Violating Cameras

In the American language and legal system (albeit not etymologically), the word rape has a precise, ugly meaning. It also has a visceral connotation, so it's tempting to use the term interchangeably with "violate" "attack" or "abuse" to produce a stronger emotional response from listeners.

I strongly dislike the practice, especially in reference to sporting events, but have not articulated or worked through my reasons in writing. This week, in "Celebrities and the 'Rape' of Photography," Soraya Roberts on The Awl does a thoughtful job analyzing this practice using concepts from Susan Sontag's On Photography (1977). The comments section is also worth reading, particularly because Foucault makes a brief appearance.

(I might be adding Sontag's work to my reading list this fall...considering a follow-up post if I do.)

Check it out. Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today's Theme Song

Thousand-word Personal Statements

If you miss the theme I'm on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear rejection's "no" [from] a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,
You can hear rejection's "no" [from] a hundred miles.

Lord I'm one, Lord I'm two, Lord I'm three, Lord I'm four,
Lord I'm 500 words from my goal.
500 words, 500 words, 500 words, 500 words
Lord I'm 500 words from my goal.

Not a thought in my head, not a reason to my name
Lord I can't submit my file this a-way
This a-away, this a-way, this a-way, this a-way,
Lord I can't submit my file this a-way.

If you miss the theme I'm on you will know that I am gone
You can hear rejection's "no" [from] a hundred miles.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturdays Off

...should end like this:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Proverbial Wisdom (3)

One cannot geographically demarcate the sphere of influence for physical rules that are not related to physical space or geography. Furthermore, any potential sphere of protection provided by a geographically delimited space does not travel with individuals once they leave said space.

The fair comes to town and sets up within its high-arched gates and spiked fences. Outside are traffic cones and high-priced parking. Inside is magical: lights, animals, barkers, rides, and so much more. Within this space, the fairgrounds have been transformed. Don't forget the food. Two words: deep fried. Kool-Aid? Deep fry it. Cheesecake? Coat it in chocolate, then deep fry it. Bread dough? Drizzle it into hot oil, fry it, then coat it in powdered sugar. Potatoes? Pshaw, we did that in March. This is October, y'all. Let's fry some lasagna and macaroni and cheese and place a hamburger between two doughnuts. One might be led to think that within this magical world normal rules of of culinary and digestive health do not apply. One might be wrong.

Culinary and digestive health are not fooled by the gleaming archway, and once you step outside that gate, you are on your own to reckon with your stomach. So, reconsider, "I might just skip straight to the funnel cake" on an empty stomach. Right now, inside those magical archways, you might. But at 2:30 in the morning, you might never be skipping again.

Lesson learned, proverb. Lesson learned.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Farmers Market Fan Club

Nothing smells more like autumn than homemade applesauce. At a chilly 50 degrees and windy, today was the perfect day to hang out in a sunny kitchen and make applesauce with apples from the farmers market.

Nothing more autumnal than a ripe apple.

Or a half peck of them.

I never claimed to be an expert.

But eventually they make it into the pot.

There should be an applesauce foam "latte."

At last, the reduction phase.

(a.k.a. the eating phase).


Saturday, October 1, 2011

October's Shadow

It's October, one of my favorite months. The weather begins to turn crisp and cool, making me sneeze when I first step outside in the early morning. The leaves blush into sunset colors: reds, oranges, yellows. Pumpkins, squash, and apples claim space at the local farmers' markets. The fair comes to town. Halloween is close behind. Somehow, the sky seems a little more blue and a little farther away.

But October also has a shadow.

In 2011 alone, it is estimated that 230,480 women in the United States will receive the heartbreaking news -- no easier to hear the second time or the first -- that they have invasive breast cancer. This year alone, 39,520 women will die from breast cancer.(1)

Men are not exempt. An estimated 2,140 men will receive the same news, and 450 men in the United States will have died from breast cancer this year.(2)

The numbers may sound abstract, but breast cancer is a very personal enemy in my family. My mom is a two-time survivor, and my aunt is also a survivor.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although fundraising and awareness-building events go on year-round, this is one month when organizations like Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the National Breast Cancer Foundation combine their efforts to reach as many people as possible.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974, First Lady Betty Ford wrote about the difficulty of going public in the face of "this traditional silence" about the disease. Although we have come a long way, the effort is still ongoing to portray breast cancer as an enemy to be defeated, not a thing of shame for the men and women fighting it.

Even if, like me, you are not in the position to donate millions to cancer research, provide free preventive screenings, or conduct public information campaigns, you can still help. If you enjoy running or walking, find a local Race for the Cure and sign up. Another simple way you can get involved is to buy Dannon or Yoplait yogurt --the ones with the pink lids.

Each Dannon lid has a code on the back. For each code that you enter at, Dannon will donate 10 cents to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The process is similar for Yoplait. Go to to redeem your lids. For each lid, Yoplait will donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

You can also take the Pink Ribbon Challenge from the NBCF. Nothing is required of you but two minutes of your time and a click of your mouse.

The most important thing you can do is to know your own body and take care of it. Find out what controllable factors put you at risk, and work to reduce their effects. Find out what screening measures you should be taking at your age, and get screened.

This year, won't you join the fight?

Actress Lynn Redgrave (Gods and Monsters) described her battle with cancer in this way: "But when this happens to you -- and I think other people would identify with this -- suddenly, colors are brighter. You see everything."

October seems like an appropriate month to do just that.

1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2011.
2. Ibid.