Now it’s just cold two day-old leftovers.
This post was supposed to go out on Friday. It’s almost Monday now and past time for my ROW80 check-in. Delays, STUFF (our car needs an exhaust, and it’s going to cost us nearly $900 dollars–who in their right mind spends that much for an exhaust on a 14-year-old car?) and exhaustion have taken their toll since Wednesday. I can pretty much say that until Saturday morning struck, nearly nothing got done toward any of my goals, except the goal of spending more quality social media time. Oh, wait! Not quite true… While waiting for the verdict on the car, I did manage to gather all the pieces that became this post on my other blog. So chalk up some creative writing and a lot of typing as well!
It’s always nice to find out things are never as bad as you feared. After all, I did dance.
I was originally thinking that I may start doing scheduled theme-based posts. Of course, there are these check-ins, but something more as well. Something that shows a bit about what’s happening, what’s interesting, and what’s coming up. And in that spirit, here is the first installment of will be the Friday Snack Pack.
- a small review of my reading Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist by Hank Fox
- some personal observations about kids clothing and marketing
- a mini-review of V for Vendetta
Book review of the week:
Everyone, I would like to introduce you to my friend, Hank Fox, author of Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist. (I say this in the spirit of full disclosure, even though Hank never asked me to write a review of his book; I just had it in the nearest “to-read” pile to my desk when I needed to pick out my first 50/50/Me choice.) Hank is, like most people I know, a generous, caring, and thoughtful person–he’s also an “Angry Atheist” or at least so some would say.
I would actually describe him differently. He’s an optimist. His belief in the beauty of human beings and the great things we can accomplish is actually staggering. But he’s ‘down-to-Earth’ as well. In his own words, “like a lot of cowboys and commoners, I’m not stupid.”
As for Blue Collar (Hank uses this short-form regularly on his site; I hope he won’t mind me borrowing it for here) I enjoyed its generally upbeat nature. Yes, Hank knows we’ve got problems in the world and thinks we’ve got a lot of work ahead to make it better, but it’s clear that he thinks we can do it. Of course, Hank thinks religion is slowing us down and even turning us back at times. And he’s not afraid to say so, often bluntly. Reader note: While Hank does not say so as often as some atheist writers I’ve read (and you’ve likely heard of), his focus is not solely on organized religion; at times this is very clear such as the end of Chapter Three where he says: “You get only these two choices: You’re an adult–someone who controls his/her own life–or you’re a child, a ripe victim from the next parasite that comes along looking for a meal.”
Harsh, yes, but if you take the time to read the two opening pieces before you start reading the meat of the book, you’ll understand. In the Introduction and Foreword, Hank gives us a museum tour of his life and reasons for writing such a (dare I call the work “daring”) book. He doesn’t exactly say that his book isn’t for the average reader, though he does tell his reader that his book isn’t about the reasons why one might choose to be an atheist, but more a tale of one man’s look at how. Blue Collar is a book for people who are already on the path toward skepticism and anti-theism, not for the curious reader who might want to know “what’s all this talk of atheism and such about anyway?” It’s the Encyclopedia Brown or Three Investigators for future readers of Sherlock Holmes.
Hank does this by the use of analogies and parables, much in the same way some well-known religious texts do. From diversions such as ice cream in Chapter One, the creation of M&Ms in Chapter Two, and Batman in Chapter Five to the Village in Chapter 23 Hank spins yarns about our choices and experiences. He takes us on an emotional roller coaster at times, thrilling us with the beauty he’s experienced in his life-time, making us laugh and then cry as he shares with us the loss of dear friends and then confesses to us his fear of his own mortality. There are times Hank speaks to us as if we’re sitting together, young aspirants and wizened teacher, staring out at the world. He warn us of the loneliness, the sorrow and loss we will suffer on our quest for enlightenment, but we know he still wants us to go; we know that he hopes we will find succeed as he has, even if only for a moment. Because he knows that if we manage to catch a glimpse of that treasure, we’ll never be able to turn back to the farms and villages of our youths–our lives will be changed forever.
In general, I enjoyed Blue Collar. As I hover between the deist and agnostic bars of the religion spectrum (floating more toward agnostic than deist), I’ve considered many of the arguments that Hank used and have discussed them in different form with friends and family. If I had to pick a fault, I could. Indeed, I could nitpick and probably find several. I’m like that sometimes. I won’t. For one, Blue Collar‘s charm lies in its humanity. For another, I know who Blue Collar was written for, but maybe, just maybe… if I don’t tell the rest of you, you’ll pick up a copy and see for yourself.
Shopping for kids clothes shouldn’t be this hard (or heart-breaking):
Spend even five minutes on a Google search and you can find any number of articles on the Sexualization of young girls out there. Spend another five, and you’ll probably find an article or three about how we’re destroying childhood, not just for girls but for boys as well. Toys that divide the sexes early on, clothing for toddlers that blur the lines between cute and horrific,…. The possibilities are endless and not just online. Go to any retail store and browse the kid sections. You’ll either be amused or annoyed. Probably both.
I’m not going to dwell on any of that. While I see the problems and agree with them, I’ve got bigger fish to fry–bigger clothes actually.
See, I have a five year-old son (some pictures here) , and he likes rainbows and Hello Kitty and the color pink. And he likes his matchbox cars, his K’Nex and planets too. Lots of planets.
Back when he was almost three, and I had more energy to scrounge the clearance racks, I found him some Hello Kitty underwear and a pair of jeans with rainbows on the pockets. He was thrilled and wore those jeans until he couldn’t button them. As soon as they were washed and in the drawer, they were out and back on him. So of course, we went shopping for replacements…something similar, since I knew we weren’t likely to find the same things again even at full price.
Well, it wasn’t that there weren’t jeans with rainbows on the pockets out there. I actually found the next two sizes in the same pattern. But something had changed between his 3T size and even the 4 and 5T sizes. The jeans had gained hips.
Excuse me? What four or five year-old girl needs to show off her …um… hips?
Well, long story short we found some boys slim pants and settled for getting a couple packages of underwear. And though they didn’t have Hello Kitty in stock, Marcus was happy as pie to get the store brand bonus pack of rainbows and flowers as well as some Rebecca Bonbon panties too. Though he was wearing a size 4, I picked up size 6 in preparation for the next growth spurt and that seemed enough.
They don’t fit, at least not well. He has some generic boys’ underwear and a few pairs with Finding Nemo on them of the same size 6, and those fit just fine, even a touch loosely. And if you think I’m imagining things, I took pictures for you:
Now, it’s not my place to tell people what they should or shouldn’t buy for their daughters. The clothes are cute. And believe me, it doesn’t matter–when your four year-old comes running and laugh into from his/her room some morning in nothing but a pair of underwear on that says “Shopping Day”, you’re going to laugh with your child and hug him/her.
But think about what else is happening here. Think about the number of women who have eating disorders–not just women, but girls as young as seven and eight.
The statistics for recovery from any of them: bulimia, anorexia, even compulsive and binge eating, are staggeringly abysmal. Anorexia has a notable death toll to its credit. Bulimia destroys teeth and damages the digestive tract by allowing excess bile to touch tissues it normally wouldn’t. And compulsive and binge eating set in motion body defenses that make the cycle harder and harder to break, encouraging depression and potential self-harm.
It’s bad enough that the media is bombarding all of us with unnatural images of the human body. And it’s equally depressing to know that what’s being sold as “attractive” at the moment is skinny, skinny, Skinny! when there is clearly a need for girls to have a healthier and more positive self-image.
Instead, we have clothes designed for Kindergarteners that encourage the stereotypes of “big strong boys” and “delicate little girls”. Are you as disgusted as I am?
Other links considered in this section:
- Achilles Affect book about the way pop culture creates gender stereotypes for boys
- The Lolita Effect book about the same for girls (This is a link for a review of the book/interview with the author–LOTS of links to follow here and some excellent analysis too)
- Shaping Youth a site devoted to studying the effects of marketing and the media on children; a lot to see and look at, but the page is hard to read, and a lot of links on older pages will give you a 404 Not Found error
- Considering this page (and this one too) it strikes me as odd that parents who worry about the type of education their kids will receive won’t at least think about what the overarching society sees them as (not to say that parents should change their children’s clothing choices, just they should consider them) mobility between social classes (in the US) is an all time low.
- Along with the above “You are what you wear” articles, here’s a (former–the article was written in 2008 and I have no doubt this girl is well into college now) high school sophomore weighing in on the issue.
- One of many pages I found on a quick search for sexualized girl’s clothing, and the video is good, because it points out the Achilles Affect as well as the concern over girl’s clothing
- I remember reading this one when it first came out, and if anything, it is more relevant now.
- A “Dress for Frances” — not the first post I’ve read where kids identify a generally neutral character as one gender or the other based on the accoutrements she or he wears
- Noted in the main piece but worth repeating: Eating Disorders are DANGEROUS
What makes a potentially great movie good:
This mini-review of V for Vendetta could also be called “Why I dread seeing the Wachowski brothers name in movie credits”. It’s not that I think the Wachowskis are actually doing anything wrong per se, it’s more of how any film they seem to work on becomes relegated to the “Gee wow, super awesome ninja skills to the rescue” level of special effects. And while a lot of good scripts can work along side of such dramatic effects to amazing results, I almost always feel shorted when I see them in Hollywood releases.
Take The Matrix, the movie the Wachowski brothers first came to my attention in, the movie that made their “brand”. It was damned good. But the story was a good story without the nifty “bullet time” special effects. Indeed, the whole concept that we are all living in a virtual reality like some giant Sims game and that a group of rebels had found a way out was super, not just in it’s initial days, but even now. Yes, the fight scenes were fun to watch, impressive even, but for me, they didn’t add anything to the story except eye candy. To me, the story was in Morpheus’ now infamous speech about the prison of the mind.
V for Vendetta had a similarly intriguing monologue at the beginning. And throughout the movie, V offers us up similar pieces of wit. The settings were good. The heroes were played well. There was a sense of tension and a passion, and the desperation and heart-break that we often find appealing in good cinema.
What destroyed it? Sutler. Sutler and Creedy. Two “bad guys” who were bad almost for the sake of being bad. Granted, there was something of a sense of more to their characters, but really, they both epitomized so many “bad guy clichés” that it bordered on funny at times. I don’t think it was the goal of the movie.
Watching it did provide a little extra insight into current events such as Occupy Wall Street, though I’d known about the Anonymous/V relationship before. It even enlightened and amused me to remember the Depth Takes a Holiday episode of Daria in which Guy Fawkes was one of the “guest stars”. And it was enjoyable. I liked V for Vendetta a lot. I just don’t think it was as awesome as it could have been.
Well, that’s more than enough of this. I’m going to post my progress to the ROW (late) and have done with it. This post is already far longer than it needs to be. But I hope you liked it. Have a great day. And thank you to my new followers. I owe you all a proper acknowledgement very soon. Until then, please, pull up a chair and enjoy a few minutes of rest.