Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Really? I was so disappointed to tune into the Oscars and waste my time listening to sexist jokes and misoginist attitudes.

One of the songs performed by host Seth MacFarlane, "We Saw Your Boobs" reduced women actors to objects of sex rather than talented artists. The lyrics, "We saw your boobs," were repeated over and over with MacFarlane singing the names of actresses that had appeared topless in movies. Four of the women MacFarlane sang about played rape victims in the movies. Not funny.

If you missed the poorly performed song (that did not belong on the Oscars), here you go:

And what was up with the continued lame jokes about women? The setting was not appropriate.

MacFarlane gave tribute to thin women at the Oscars. He said, "...to the women who gave (them)self the flu so they could get there (lose weight)... It paid off." While smiling, he pinched his waist line. Why? MacFarlane and the producers must think eating disorders and Hollywood's unnatural cultural and social beauty requirements are funny. Or, again, they wanted to point out that LOOKS are most important when it comes to the ladies honored by the Academy.

Another rude "joke" came when MacFarlane announced an award for Zero Dark 30:

"The film was a triumph and also a celebration of every woman's innate ability to never ever let anything go."

Harhar. Brave men and women special forces and armed forces put their lives on the line for years to apprehend Osama Bin Laden. Why would someone belittle that? Objectifing and putting women down to get a laugh from the boys is so last decade. NEWS FLASH: Misogyny is no longer in vogue.

Happy Birthday to Mom

Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Mom had a special birthday this year and even though she didn't really want to celebrate it, we surprised her with some nice things on Saturday. I traveled to Columbus and we made reservations for dinner at Hyde Park on the Cap. Before going to dinner mom opened her gifts.

When it was time to go, Dannen, mom and dad and I went out to the garage to get in the car. The garage door was up, however and there was a surprise waiting in the driveway. Mom laughed when she saw it.

We decided to order a stretch limo for mom and have champagne chilling inside for the ride downtown! I even arranged for Elvis Radio to be playing on Pandora and we danced as we toasted to mom (okay, she and I danced but Dannen and dad had fun as well). 

James helped with the preparations by picking out a bottle of bubbly and chilled it for the ride. We enjoyed the taste! 

Because the lighting was low in the limo and I wasn't using a flash, it was a bit difficult to get clear pictures but the self portrait option worked fairly well. I snapped a few of mom and dad but unfortunately they turned out to be a little blurry. 

We picked up James on the way to the restaurant and once everyone went in, I smuggled a flower arrangement and a cake from Pattycake Bakery (North High Street) into the lobby. 

The hostesses were amazing! They moved quickly and placed the flowers on the table and the cake in the back. Mom didn't notice and both were nice surprises for her. 

Our dinner was amazing and the steak and sides were perfectly prepared. We ordered a gorgeous bottle of Pinot Noir that was featured on the menu. Every last drop was delicious. 

Finally the waitress brought out the cake which read, "Happy Birthday, Debbie!" and everyone tried a piece. I ordered Coconut Cloud because mom likes coconut. Yummy. The evening was a fun celebration for our special Momma who always makes life exciting and fun for us! 

Shopping at North Market

Sunday, 24 February 2013
I went to Columbus this weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday with my brother, father and James. We had so much fun and even though James wasn't feeling well (he's such a trooper), the celebration was unique and special. 

One of the highlights (other than than mom's b-day evening which I'll post about later) was shopping for dinner with James at Columbus' North Market. We strolled through the market stalls looking for something appetizing. Truly everything looked tasty and it was interesting to see what was on offer for the evening. We finally settled on freshly made, gorgeous, smoked mozzarella and three sausage ravioli with a roasted red pepper garlic sauce. 

The best part for me was stopping by the cheese monger stall. He helped us pick out a blue cheese, mild brie and lovely Romano for the pasta. David (I think?) is knowledgable and passionate about cheese and we had a nice time discussing the different choices. We prepared the pasta as directed and enjoyed the cheese as an appetizer. James opened a lovely bottle of bubbles and we had fun just being together.

Power Play

Tuesday, 19 February 2013
I experienced an interesting moment while flying through LA recently. After going through customs, travelers proceed to baggage claim to pick up their bags and then go through another security check point before entering the area where they re-check their bags. The line for the security check point was very long. You know the drill: children are crying, people are complaining, the area is hot and bags are cumbersome. One woman was even shouting because someone had grabbed her bag which was the same as the one she was holding but not hers... The situation was tiresome. Nonetheless the line was moving, slowly.

As I got closer to the front, I could tell that the two lines were being serviced by three male federal officers. Their podiums were approximately 15 feet from the line and we were to wait behind a red line for them to call us to approach with our entrance cards. No problem. While I noticed that the distance between the officers and travelers created "down time" where the officers were standing alone waiting for the next person to approach as the line stretched on for miles, I'm not here to complain about the lack of efficiency of the design. I wanted to share my interaction with the officer.

He (late 40s, Caucasian, bald) called me up and I approached with a fake but believable smile on my face (I'd already been traveling for eight hours and was tired of standing in line) and said, "Hello, sir" while handing over my card and passport. "Welllllll...." he says, looking at me for what I felt was a long time. "Aren't you just a ray of sunshine?" He smiles, looking me in the eyes and finally glances down at my passport. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I suddenly felt uncomfortable. The officer peered at my picture and gave a creepy laugh. "My, my, my. Aren't you just beautiful?" Starting to fume because I recognized the undercurrent of a power play, I didn't reply. I was thinking, "Really? The line is wrapping around baggage claim for miles and you want to discuss my looks?" Expecting me to respond, he stopped what he was doing with a creepy smile again and held my documents in his hand. Unfortunately, I caved, feeling a touch of fear and answered, "thank you." He took my card and handed me my passport, hanging onto it for a second longer than necessary. He said, "Have a great day, dear."

Some men (and women) may read this post and think I'm being overly sensitive or perhaps even ungrateful. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect a variance of perspectives. However, the behavior of this officer was not friendly, it was unprofessional and worked to solidify the structure of power of the "elite." Not only did he use his position of power (federal officer) to control my behavior, he demeaned my confidence as I approached by diminishing me from a person to an "object."Does he comment on male travelers' appearances? Maybe - but I doubt it.

What is the point of this post? We need to recognize power plays in motion and share our experiences. Perhaps this is a small way to challenge hegemony in our culture. The officer felt he had the right to comment on my appearance and hold my passport until I thanked him for his "compliment." How often do things like this still go on today? I was surprised but not shocked. 

A question about the Second Amendment

Wednesday, 6 February 2013
I've been listening to political conversations about gun control this week and I have a serious question. Before I pose it, please allow me to say that I support the Constitution of the United States and our fine liberties provided by it.

Specifically in my research on news media, I spend time examining the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment in the context of Democratic Theory, Public Forum Doctrine and First Amendment Theory. I believe that people (citizen journalists) have the freedom to express their attitudes, believes and values whether I agree with them or not.

However, while we have the freedom of speech, not all speech is protected. Hate speech is outside the law. Congress has interpreted the law to determine that hate speech is, "any speech, gesture or conduct... which is forbidden because it may incite violence..."Most Americans do not protest that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.

This gets to my question about the current debate about aspects of the Second Amendment. Again, I support the right of a person to own a gun whether I do or not. Hunting is important in many rural communities in order to cull the animal population or perhaps feed a family. Some people believe that owning a gun is a tool to protect their family. I understand that. I do not understand why responsible gun owners take issue with the suggestion of a ban on military assault weapons and magazines that hold large amounts of ammunition that can be quickly fired.

Society evolves and culture slightly changes over decades and centuries. Although hate speech has always existed and people will find motivation to use it (racism, sexism, elitism), technology allows it to be reproduced and disseminated quickly. Perhaps this is why a modern interpretation of the First Amendment was necessary.

Technology impacts the gun industry as well. Who benefits if military assault weapons are legal in our communities? Those who create, produce and sell them need to keep the industry flourishing.

Interpretation of the law regarding the Second Amendment (considering advances in technology, context of the law when it was developed and the purpose of our founding fathers) may show some measures are necessary to protect communities from criminals who would use these weapons to kill masses quickly. This seems like a progressive, practical step in the right direction. Please argue this point if you're interested. I respect your views. 

70F to Snow in Two Days

Friday, 1 February 2013
The weather has been outrageous in Eastern Tennessee. It was 70 degrees on Monday and yesterday we had snow. This morning it was barely 20 degrees and we're supposed to have snow again this weekend. I just don't know how to dress anymore! Most of my warm weather clothing has been packed away for the winder so I dug some of it out this weekend.

Speaking of the weekend, I'm glad it's here. I used to be excited about a couple of "days off" when I worked a full time job for television news. Now, as a PhD student and teacher, I see the weekend coming and think, "Thank goodness! I hope I can get a ton of work done!" This is because I don't have to take time to fix hair, do makeup or get dressed up to attend class or go to research meetings. I can just sit in my house all day and read and write. Sounds fun, eh? I have more work than I know what to do with at this point.

Happy Friday!