Friday, June 27, 2008


Goodness gracious, I've gotten more readers and comments after my Regional Differences and Eddie Izzard posts than I have in weeks! Why is it that I never noticed that the big blogs are popular precisely because they will court controversy? I don't like it in general; I don't like making people angry, and I don't like the way they get when they are angry.

My brother-in-law has picked up on this tendency of mine over the years; he might be having a battle with Elder Sister in my presence, and I will blend into the furniture, or start chivvying the children to clean up or snap to... and B-I-L will turn to me and say something like "It's ok, you know; no one is in danger just because I'm angry!" Which I know, of course; but when you've learned to deal with an angry father over 13 years of childhood, you try and do whatever you can to alleviate anger, to placate, to pour oil on troubled waters. I will grow very quiet... I will start to tidy up... I will speak in a subdued fashion, to indicate my appreciation of the situation.

I have been fortunate to have friends who will disagree with me, and have spirited arguments over things like religion and politics... it has taken time, but it has allowed me at least some understanding that disagreement and argument do not mean someone will hate or hurt you when the debate is over. But even with all of that, I find myself adapting to the opinions of whomever I am with. I leap to find common ground, to express a sympathy and comprehension of their opinion.

This is why I cannot endure the rants of the Bill O'Reillys, the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs. (I know they have liberal counterparts, but I don't know who any of them are, for some reason.) I might agree with some of their opinions, but their absolute inability to see any good in liberalism troubles me. I wish there was more of an appreciation in this country for the Moderate and the Centrist, and that they could be allowed to have their own voice in the media. I don't think it means that someone is any less compelling, just because they can see both sides of an argument... I mean, wouldn't you want to have that kind of respect in a discussion? Instead of just being lambasted as an idiot?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Disappointed by Eddie

I do not like to go out at night, in general. Maybe to a cozy friend's house, or to my family, but most evenings I would much rather stay home, especially when I have been home for an hour or more, and have to get up and go back out. There are exceptions of course, and last night was one of them - I had tickets to see Eddie Izzard live at the Ryman.

I loooooove Eddie Izzard. I have watched or listened to everything he's ever done (stand-up), and seen most of his movies. I think he's brilliant. He's the only comedian I know to have figured out how to combine history so effectively with comedy.

The place was packed; at one point the audience started chanting "Cake or Death"; they obviously knew his material by heart. When he came out, it was the loudest audience response I have ever heard. The poor man could hardly speak for the screams of delight, and got into the habit of regularly shushing us whenever we would cheer for a particular line, just so he could get through his material. He performed without intermission for almost 2 hours straight, which has GOT to be exhausting, and my face got tired from smiling and laughing.


I don't begin to be able to articulate my disappointment in what he obviously thought of us. There's usually some kind of overarching theme throughout one of his shows, and tonight, it appeared to be Why Religion is Stupid, and I'm Here to Straighten You Out. He's touched on his dissatisfaction with the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of organized religion for years now, so it wasn't unfamiliar... but last night, I felt like he was on a mission to disabuse us of our blinkered and illogical devotion to God. It felt like he had tailored his show specifically to this Bible-Belt audience to correct us in our irrational habits. Every 5 minutes or so, he'd take a step back and make a little disclaimer about how there WERE things he admired about religion, like the sense of community and whatnot... but then he'd jump right back into mocking various stories in the Bible, the proliferation of gods throughout world history, the fact that some don't believe in evolution, etc. It felt like he took every single stereotype of Southern Christian culture as true across the board, and riffed on how foolish it was off and on for 2 hours.

I am NOT hypersensitive to this in general. I am used to it in almost every form of entertainment media I can think of, and I often agree. But I paid $59 for a ticket to have a good time laughing, and I came out of there feeling a little depressed, as thought I'd been gently scolded for more than an hour. Even my friend A. M. who went with me, and who generally shares his same opinions on religion and Middle American (and particularly Southern) culture said that she felt "patronized," as though he had come on a mission to try and fix us. I don't mind stand-up shows that use comedy to teach certain principles, such as Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman... but Eddie doesn't do that in general, so to have him try and correct what he thinks is wrong with American culture in his show here in the Bible Belt really made me feel disappointed, and for the first time in a long time, defensive.

I don't generally feel offended by that sort of thing; when it's addressed to an audience in San Francisco, and I watch it on a TV screen, it's not directed at me. But this WAS directed at me, and as I think of the supportive, genuine people at my church who help take care of each other so well, of the kind-hearted, generous, open-hearted relatives I have in Georgia who would do anything for a stranger, I was hurt. Because Eddie obviously thought they - we - were foolish and misguided.

AND YET, he was a little bit hypocritical himself, last night... despite gently mocking the religious culture we live in, he dressed down for the occasion - he wore jeans, boots, and cutaway coat - and barely any makeup. I have NEVER seen him wear jeans in one of his shows; he doesn't wear dresses, but he'll wear really gorgeous silks and brocades in beautifully cut suits, loads of makeup, nail polish, etc. But last night, he dressed for a Nashville audience. Perhaps it was meant as a sign of respect for what he perceives as a more conservative crowd, but I suspected that it was more of a "don't scare the crackers" choice.

The ridiculous thing is that, for the most part, he was preaching to the choir last night! The audience was made up of the most liberal-minded elements of Nashville society, with a huge majority agreeing with pretty much every word out of his mouth. So it was a wasted effort - I would venture to guess that 75% or more of that crowd would be voting Democrat this November anyway.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Regional Differences

I don't know if it's possible to write about this without sounding judgmental. We'll see.

Bearing in mind the differences in population (urban vs. suburban) and urgency (dire vs. steady increase), it's hard not to make comparisons between the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (ie: New Orleans) and the flooding along the Mississipi (ie: Iowa).

  • lots of water
  • destruction of personal property
  • breaking levees
  • typical for area - it's happened before

Now let's think about how people responded. New Orleans was one long series of "Who's responsible," with local, state, federal government, FEMA, and the population all getting a portion of blame. Iowa seems to be more about "How can I help preserve my city?" I know, they have more time to fill sandbags; their flooding has been a slow and steady increase, while Katrina was a matter of only a few days warning, right? But if you look at it from the perspective of what we can see in media coverage both then and now, New Orleans was all about what the government was supposed to do to fix the problem, while Iowa is all about what the local residents are doing to try and save themselves.

I do see that getting millions out of the path of a devastating hurricane with not enough time is a vast deal more difficult than what's been going on along the Mississippi, and it's not something that could have been stopped with sandbags. But I never seem to hear anyone in news stories talking about how the government has failed the Midwest in this flood season; it's just lots and lots of v-roll of hundreds and hundreds of people filling sandbags, trying to keep their own levees from breaking.

Is the difference that people in urban areas are more dependant upon the government, while the more scattered populations of the midwest are more self-reliant? Yeah, I think so.

I'm sure everyone can think of their own set of rational excuses to be made for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and how it responded in the face of natural disaster. But the bitterness and blame of Katrina is curiously absent from the Midwest, who have lost as much, and will continue to lose more for some time to come.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What I Learned This Pre-Summer

  1. A lake house is nice, except when it's in the 90s and the AC is broken.
  2. AC filters need to be changed periodically so that the AC can keep working.
  3. There is such a thing as a 24-hour emergency HVAC repair service.
  4. Just because you and your friends say over and over that the AC WILL be fixed, it doesn't necessarily produce the desired result.
  5. It is possible to sleep in an oppressively hot house, as long as you have a fan and a damp towel to drape over your legs and forehead, and you dose up on Benadryl.
  6. My car loves to kick off its hubcaps.
  7. There is always something useful to be learned in trying situations.
  8. I have more endurance and adaptability than I thought.
  9. It's not always a good idea to force through a vacation trip, because sometimes God doesn't mean for you to go.
  10. Even in the midst of trying situations, there are treasures such as fine regional cheeses, and excellent country meat-and-three restaurants to be found.
  11. Just because a store advertises itself as an Amish market does not mean that you will actually find any Amish people there, nor that they will necessarily have any locally produced Amish products.
  12. There is a time and place for makeup, and a lake house with no AC is not one of them.
  13. It is possible to fit more activities into a 29 hour trip than initially thought possible.
  14. Giving up and going home early because you're melting from the heat is not weak; it is sensible.