Friday, October 31, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Censorship In Turkey: Because We Just Don't Have Enough Of It There

That's right. Not just me, but all of Blogspot. At first, the rumour was that Adnan Oktar had gone whining to the courts again that someone wasn't being very nice to him, but it later turned out that it was Digitürk (a Turkish cable provider) that brought the case to the court. I guess some people were posting links to illegal streams of soccer games that Digitürk had the rights to. Rather than punish those bad linkers, or the illegal sources themselves, a court in Diyarbakır ordered the whole of Blogspot blocked. All of it. That's millions of blogs. I'm starting to think someone doesn't quite get how this whole new-fangled Internet thing works.

Like everyone in Turkey hasn't already figured out a number of ways to get around these bans. The Wordpress ban was lifted a few months back, but Youtube continues to be blocked because of a few videos teasing Ataturk, and Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya) also managed to get Richard Dawkins's (a respected biologist and noted atheist) website banned because Dawkins said of Oktar's book, "I am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content." Have a look at Oktar's book, Atlas Of Creation. I think Dawkins was being rather kind.

There are many reasons why all this banning is so frustrating and stupid, too many for me to go into right now because it's LE's dinnertime and I don't think the Wiggles will hold him much longer. I'm sure you can come up with enough angry reasons of your own.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sarah Palin Sex Tapes?

Okay, not really. But it could be true, right? Just keep talking about it like it is true, and let's see how long it takes for the general public to start believing it. It's somehow believable. Just like this is somehow believable:

Here is my hope for Sarah Palin. One day maybe five years from now I'll be sitting in a bar with some friends talking about pop culture moments of the past and someone will go, "How about Sarah Palin?" and someone else will go, "Whoa, now that's a blast from the past. Remember that episode of Gilligan's Island where everyone was allergic to Gilligan?" and several other people at the table will go, "Who the hell is Sarah Palin?" And we'll round off this discussion with a friendly debate about Dick York versus Dick Sargent, or Hannah-Barbera "Jerry" versus Chuck Jones "Jerry."

That's the kind of trivial nonsense I hope Sarah Palin will have become in five years. She's one of those people that makes me embarrassed to be American.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting Old

An aging meme, courtesy of Siobhan. This took much longer to do than I thought it would!

At a certain age women should know who their real friends are, and make a commitment to only wear shoes that fit nicely.

At a certain age men should change their underpants regularly without being reminded, make themselves useful without being told, and stop considering video games a "hobby."

When I was a kid I thought I would join the Marines, or be really famous, or figure out time travel, or run away to live with Peter Pan.

Now that I am older I wish that whole Peter Pan thing had worked out, though I guess in a way, it did.

You know you are too old to be cool when some freaking teenager calls you "Ma'am," or when your brother-in-law's university friends all sit up and try to pretend they aren't stoned when you walk into the room.

You know you are too young to be old when you realize you have no retirement whatsoever, no plans or means of acquiring one, and you just go "Oh, well. It'll sort itself out."

When I was in high school I listened to the music of ... Hmmm. A long answer, but I'll try to keep it short. In my early high school years, it was mostly along the lines of punk, both good and bad, like Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, Social Distortion, Fishbone, old pre-trendy Red Hot Chili Peppers, stuff like that. The middle high school years were all about being maudlin with the likes of Depeche Mode, New Order, Erasure, Love and Rockets, Sisters Of Mercy, and that was also when I got into late 60s-early 70s music: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, some Beatles and Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, the Doors, the Velvet Underground, and I even thought Simon and Garfunkel were great... This continued into the end of high school years, when I also got into Jane's Addiction, Primus, Pixies-- all that alternative music back when alternative was really alternative. I've also always listened to classical starting from when I was about ten, especially, Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Schubert, and Beethoven.

Nowadays I find I like the music of, oddly enough, the high school years. Except for Simon and Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones, I still love the late 60s and the 70s. Then I started really liking the 80s again. I've re-bought some of that stuff on CD and found I like it way better this time around, especially Social Distortion, Misfits, Duran Duran, OMD, Soft Cell, Tears For Fears, Abba... In recent years I've gotten into Johnny Cash, the White Stripes, Scissor Sisters, the Killers, Muse, Fatboy Slim, Crystal Method, and pretty much anything funk. The list doesn't end, actually, and there's probably a whole bunch of stuff I haven't thought of. I suddenly got into girl-punk while pregnant, which was an interesting twist in my life. For some reason I started to feel for Courtney Love. Vivaldi suddenly became less appealing in those months but I couldn't get enough of "Death and the Maiden" and the Trout Quintets by Schubert. Because I'm now too old to be cool, I'm enjoying being released from the responsibility of pretended coolness and I like not feeling the need to worry about my music tastes reflecting on me somehow. I no longer have to feel ashamed to admit, for example, my love of Barry White and Aerosmith and the creeping feeling that I may really like Bon Jovi again.

On my last birthday I almost forgot it was my birthday, but went out for dinner with BE, another couple, and our close-in-age babies. The year before that, I actually completely forgot it was my birthday due to LE's birth. Even my PARENTS forgot it was my birthday.

On my next birthday I want... out to dinner again would be nice, perhaps (gasp!) baby-less this time, though I do think it's fun having them along. It just means less drinking and grown-up talk.

The best birthday present I ever got was my son, born two days before my birthday, and who probably would have been born ON my birthday if I hadn't allowed myself to be bullied into that stupid induction. My second best birthday present was a trip to Europe.

The first time I felt grown up was when I announced to (rather than asked) my parents that I was moving to Turkey, and they seemed to think was how it should be.

The last time I felt like a kid was... I was going to describe a specific situation, but actually, most interactions with my parents-in-law leave me feeling like they think I'm a slightly feeble-minded ten-year-old.

When I read (I can't remember the title!) it changed my life. When I was about 4, I had this reader for children. The first story in there was the riveting "I see a bee, the bee sees me... (and so forth)." After years of being read to, and pretending to read books, then memorizing books and fooling people into thinking I could read them, after years of hearing words sounded out on Sesame Street and Electric Company, this was the book that made the reading penny drop for me. I think I asked my mom about the "ee" sound, then I read the story. For real. Then I read the one after it. Then I read the whole book. It didn't really stop after that, though the books got harder and often, more interesting.

Last year was hard, but the discovery process of life with LE has been almost astounding enough to make up for the other crap.

Next year I hope will not be so hard, and that I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Enough about me, as if this blog has ever been about anything else. To continue the meme, I tag bri, Melissa, and Steph. Have fun, ladies!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Trip To The Great American Southwest Pt. II

As I mentioned in Part I of our travels to the Great American Southwest, Cedar City in southern Utah was one of the most typically American places I've ever seen. Being there was the most American I've felt in a long time, in the sense that no one stared at me or asked me to justify George Bush. A non-foreign American, Americanning around doing American things. It was fun for awhile, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Following our day-long driving tour of the mountains, we needed something to do to entertain ourselves until dinner. So we decided to go bowling. It's not just because we're American that we decided this. It's also because bowling is probably one of the few activities available in Cedar City, and lucky for us, it wasn't league night. It was also the night of Homecoming for the university, so the bowling alley was nice and empty. A good thing, given that LE, in his Wiggles daze, had failed to take his afternoon nap. He didn't want to go bowling. He wanted more Wiggles. He was quite loud about this.

But we took him bowling anyway. Once LE discovered that bowling involves balls-- lots of big multi-colored shiny balls-- he realized he was okay with it. Not that he's strong enough to lift a bowling ball. But that didn't stop him from trying to lift every ball that lined the racks behind the lanes. It didn't take him long to figure out when it was his turn, or that hitting lots of pins was good, while hitting a just few pins was ho-hum and everyone clapping for him was just being patronizing. On his first try, he hit nine pins, and then tried to run down the lane, at which point he fell on his bottom.

I thought the best part of bowling was that we were able to rent little tiny bowling shoes.

So that was bowling. Sweet.

My aunt and her family live in Las Vegas, where my mother was also born and raised. Trips to Las Vegas have never been anything like the TV show for me. As a kid, Las Vegas was mostly about going fishing with my grandfather and getting spoiled rotten by everyone. We always wanted to go swimming, and my grandmother was happy to take us to the pool at her neighbor's house across the street on the condition that we attended church and Sunday school. We didn't like either one. The only Sunday school I remember is a lesson where the teacher held up pictures of different things that God had made. She held up a picture of a whale and said "The white whale," but she pronounced it "hwite hwale." I thought that was really funny because I was like five or something. Afterwards, when we were invited to mention other things God made, I may have said that God made butts (or something to that effect), but it's possible that's just a made-up memory of something I wish I had done.

Anyway, I just brought all this up so you don't go getting any crazy ideas about LE and I blowing it up on the Vegas strip. Vegas, to me, is about family time, though I admit someday I'd like to go there as a tourist and do the proper tacky, glitzy, over-the-top Vegas thing. They have lots of things to do there besides gambling, which is nice because, having grown up in Reno, gambling holds absolutely zero appeal for me. And nowadays they have these new-fangled slot machines that run on credit or something, so the sound of the casino, while still zany with exciting bells and music, was sadly lacking in the cheerful chink of coins falling into the slots' metal trays.

Speaking of gambling, growing up I was always told casino floors were the dirtiest, nastiest places on earth, after airport floors and public toilet floors. Here is a picture of LE throwing a fit on the floor of the Mirage. My mom was scandalized.

And just for fun, I'd like to take moment to scandalize both grandmothers equally by including a picture of LE outside with no shirt, wet hair, and surrounded by dogs.

Yes, yes, I know.

Fortunately for LE, the Mirage also has dolphins which was the real reason we were there. Determined as he was to throw his fit for the rest of the day, the dolphins pretty much brought an end to that.

This was part of the Mirage known as Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden. It is definitely not what came to my mind when I thought about what Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden might contain. Since I was taking my little boy there, it's probably for the best.

Another attraction of the Secret Garden was a baby dolphin, just 17 days old. Dolphins are cute in any case, so naturally a tiny dolphin is unspeakably cute.


And this concludes our adventures in the Great American Southwest. As you can see, I've pretty much given up my self-imposed restriction on writing too many squishy, dribbling posts about my wonderful kid. I hope to have something a little more substantive to write about in the future, but until then, this will have to do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My New Nanny

Remember I once wrote something about not wanting to leave the boy in front of the TV too much? And how I was all against using the TV as a babysitter, except in small doses so I could eat breakfast?

That was funny. Hahahahahaha. See how I laugh?

That was before we discovered these fellows:

For the kid-less or otherwise uninitiated, these are the Wiggles, a kids' musical act from Australia. My aunt brought LE his first Wiggles video a couple months ago (along with Old School Sesame Street, which, as it turned out, I liked WAY more than the boy). When I watched it, I thought, "Okay, it's just nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are okay, and he should learn them. And anyway, the boy likes songs. And dancing. And men. And men dancing." So even though the smiling sincerity of these guys freaked me out a little, and even though their antics made me feel a little embarrassed for them, and even though I knew it'd take years to get the songs out of my head, I let LE watch the Wiggles.

And watch it he did. Then he watched it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. You see where this is going. The more he watched the Wiggles, the more he liked it. Sometimes he dances along. Sometimes he just stares, frozen, with his mouth gaping open. I can actually leave the room to go to the bathroom, or do something that is very enticing for LE, like open the dishwasher or the snacks cupboard and he doesn't even glance away.

Now, you cannot even utter "The Wiggles" in his presence unless you plan to watch it shortly thereafter-- LE hears that and screeches with joy and jumps up and down and starts running in circles, waving his hands frantically. The kid can't talk, but he can sing, or at least hum, Wiggles songs more or less recognizably. And as it turns out, he can eat from his own bowl with his own spoon without being strapped into a high chair to keep him from racing around, and without throwing anything or spilling the slightest drop if he gets to watch the Wiggles.

Seriously, I think these guys are slipping some kind of baby subliminal messages in there because there is nothing, not even nursing, that holds my kid's attention like this show. The DVD conveniently restarts itself from the main menu without my doing anything. LE's record is 6 times through, on the DVD in my aunt's SUV during an all-day tour of Southern Utah. Not once did he lose interest, though I'm pretty sure my cousins were getting ready to kill someone.

Maybe he's learning something. Or maybe it's turning his brain to mush. I'm going slightly insane with having "This Old Man" and "See Saw Margery Daw" stuck in my head for days on end.

But I have to say, I'm kind of liking my new nanny.