Monday, June 20, 2011

A Visit With Nature

Last weekend, we went for a short, child-friendly hike. LE both enjoyed the hell out of himself and bitched the whole time because 4 year olds are unpredictable, passionate and mercurial people. At the end of the hike were some super-cool waterfalls, so it was like getting a reward.

Pissed off about nature.
For my part, having loathed and carefully avoided exercise for at least several years, I was pretty pleased I was neither sore nor tuckered out after a mild two-hour hike. I decided it's because the hike was nothing different than the walks I take once or twice a week anyway, only with more sweet moss and interesting tree roots and fewer cobblestones and selfish dickheads in expensive cars. So that was all right.
Contemplating nature.

In Oregon, we seem to be somewhat between wildflower blooms, so instead, I got all excited about greenery because greenery is freaking exciting and totally underrated.

Aside from ferns' prehistoric coolness, they're like clouds in that they make me want to jump into their billows and roll around and fall asleep. They're just as deceptive though, because if you actually did that, you would hit nothing but ground only it would be way worse if you jumped into clouds.

Giant clover rock. Shamrock!

Why is the circular growth of these fronds so gorgeous?

Or the triangular growth of these leaves?

Triangle leaves are cuter when they're small, like snakes and wolverines.

There's nothing special about these flowers. I just felt guilty about not wanting to include them.
Somewhat more assuming, but not really.
Very unassuming.

Oh, moss. When will the world learn to love you as much as I do?
I don't think it's a stretch to call nature sexy.
Spitbug! What is nature without a spitbug sighting?
As though moss weren't cool enough, this moss has to go and look like a miniature prehistoric forest.
Still mad at nature even though he knows the tree is cool.
I would not be me unless I found something in nature that looked like a piece of shit. Also I freaking love slugs, and this one was like a 4-inch slimy piece of shit with spots on it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Trip To Taksim: Or, How I Knew AKP Would Win

Sometimes I take pictures of some cool thing I see, and then I think of some socially or politically relevant sentences to go along with them. And then I fail to get around to posting until it's no longer relevant but out of pure egoism I decide to post it anyway because I can't stand to let my great thoughts die with Zen-like serenity.

So this post is completely past-due.

A word on Taksim: I still get a little thrill in my belly every time I go there. I get butterflies before I even leave the house, and I feel a rube-like amazement every time I arrive. It's like I'm an Istanbul virgin all over again, breathless to pop my East-meets-West cherry. It doesn't bear repeating all the stuff about Taksim that's in every guidebook and blog post about Istanbul. The mishmash of languages and cultures and old and new and blah blah blah.

But whenever I go there, I have the sense that whatever the Grand Master Plan for the morass that is Turkey, for all its failures, is completely working in Taksim.

And that's okay. Quite.

Not my photo. Thanks, Internet!
The last time I was there was a couple of weeks before the elections. A few parties had their displays up around the old water thingie. My favorite part about the water thingie is that behind it is Futuristic Space Mosque 5000. I don't know why I've never taken a picture of it to snark about, because I'm pretty sure it's my favorite mosque in Istanbul. The crappy tin rocket ship minaret kills me every time.

Sorry, guy.
So, moving on to some pictures I actually took myself. First, a party that clearly didn't have a snowball's chance. Their roots and politics and potential voter-base aside, it's obvious from HAS party's campaign display in Taksim that they were never ever ever EVER going to win.

Despite getting a good spot in the shade, their display consisted of the bus, that little kiosk brochure thing, and an old guy standing near the bus smoking. He's probably the driver.

Super hip?
Next, there's the only viable opposition to AKP, which is CHP. Too little too late, they decided their best approach was to appeal to the kids with some blasted second-rate Turkish hip hop. CHP's entire stance seemed to be "Against Everything AKP Does." As we all know, it didn't work, though I quite enjoyed their anti-AKP censorship ad.

I also liked their slogan here (Türkiye rahat bir nefes olacak, meaning something like, "Turkey will breathe a sigh of relief"), which contains a reference to the word "nefes" (breath) having appeared on the list of forbidden words on the Internet. I'll skip over the obvious hypocrisy here, because of course there was never any censorship under CHP. The only reason they didn't censor the Internet is because there wasn't really much Internet around at that time, and hardly anyone in power knew how to work it.

Kicking back with AKP
Still, no one had anything close to AKP's extravaganza. They staked out the prime real estate under the flashy shiny amazing digital billboard, which I often worry might be making Futuristic Space Mosque 5000 feel inadequate. In addition to a massive bus the size of a fire truck that probably gets about 2 miles to the gallon (if it can be driven at all, on Istanbul streets), they had that giant sign promising an 80% decrease in the cost of all medicines. As if cheap sedation for all weren't enough, they also had comfy multi-colored chairs with little tables, umbrellas, and I'll bet there was some kid slinging free tea.

The elections were a foregone conclusion well before the parties started breaking out their big guns, but a small part of that conclusion must come from stuff like this, where people see displays like this and think it's obvious from the money being spent who will win, so why bother voting for anyone else?

Now, I'll leave you with this fellow, a water-seller near the spot where the Havaş buses go in and out. Notice how he took the time to beautify his little corner of the universe by planting a few basil plants around the tree. He watered them tenderly, and when the taxi drivers from the nearby cab stand came over wanting water for abdest, he instructed them as to which plants to perform it over.

Who did he vote for?

80s Night: Or, A Manifestation Of My Not-So-Latent Inner Dork

Oh, how fucking original.
I freaking love Portland. In Portland, no one is a dork and no one is a loser, except maybe those Trustafarian drainbow shitheads who ask you for money and act all entitled to your money they didn't earn and then have the gall to bitch at you because you didn't give them any money.

But that's just part of the scenery.

The rest of the scenery involves adorable bungalows and self-consciously organic landscaping and look-at-me-borderline-Puritanical dietary habits and loads and loads of trees.

Shades of green
So many fucking trees, and underbrush and wildflowers and thrilling mosses. It all smells so good and it's always dripping with some sort of fragrant moisture falling from the sky, whether it's the actual wet kind or the oh-no-that's-not-rain-you must-be-from-out-of-town kind.

You will never know how many shades of green exist in nature until you come to the Pacific Northwest. Unless you're British, of course. But then you don't have the microbrews and coffee. Instead, you have kids' play areas in your pubs and curry so it all kind of evens out.

Anyway, last night was 80s Video Dance Night at the Crystal Ballroom. The Crystal Ballroom is great because they have proper ballroom dancing floors on either springs or ball-bearings, that give in wavy deliciousness while dancing.

Which is like a little slice of heaven in Stranger-ville. I admit I didn't really get into the videos because I take off my glasses while dancing. They get all sweaty and steamy and also not wearing glasses helps me believe I'm the only person on earth because I can't see clearly past the end of my arms.

Before getting married I used to go dancing a lot. Like, it used to be okay to answer "What shall we do?" with "Let's go dancing!" Marriage pretty much killed that, for a lot of reasons I don't want to bum out my blog with going into.

I hate exercising with the white hot fire of a thousand suns (except swimming, which, even with the two free, clean pools available on my posh hotel-like university campus, is just too time-consuming to get into, what with the job and the boy and everything). I haven't actually exercised, per se, in about I don't know how long because exercising sucks. I always feel intensely guilty about this and I tell myself, to no avail, that all the walking I do is exercise. Dancing, apparently, also counts as exercise.

Which is why somewhere in my Istanbul neighborhood seriously needs to start hosting an 80s night because I danced like a fucking moron for four hours with only a few breaks, one for pee, one for water, and one for a vodka tonic. And I didn't even feel for a second like I was exercising. Only the smell of my bra and a stiff neck (the result of a Def Leppard hair-swinging infelicity) told me any different. Some of the hair-swinging was, to my delight, posted on Facebook, which will no doubt, among other things, send BE into some sort of predictable yet nevertheless boring-ass dither.

Out of business?
Before 80s night started, I had myself a seared ahi with wasabi mayonnaise sandwich. That's because I'm almost 40 and I'll be damned if I start dancing with Bob's Big Boy either before or after, if Bob's Big Boy still exists which I think it doesn't so just insert IHOP where I said Bob's Big Boy for a similar effect.

Dinnertime conversation included, "What was the worst haircut you had in the 80s?" in which it was agreed that hairspray and a blow dryer on the sides at the same time was only for special occasions. Then there was "What was your favorite outfit in the 80s?," wherein I found out I wasn't the only one who drooled over a yearly trip to the Esprit outlet in San Francisco, and my mom wasn't the only one who imposed Draconian Guess jeans rules, and that knowing what Generra is defines a certain generation-within-a-generation. The conversation shifted before I got to bring up my much-beloved Firenze T-shirt.

And then the dancing. As I said, there are no dorks in Portland and any gathering attracts the sort of people that render the notion of "demographic" irrelevant. The only people that annoyed me were the owners of bony little elbows that clearly were born so well into or out of the 80s that I felt they ought to respect the oldies by keeping their bony fucking little elbows to themselves or go to other bars that welcomed their shorty kinds.

Middle school: Gorgeously fraught and awful
One of the best things was how much like a middle school dance it all was, closed-in and low-ceilinged like you were at the rented Elks' hall, and there was a pause between each song before the next song started. Not that I don't love a proper DJ but I've always a little bit missed that thrill of wondering, "What song is next?"

And I know it means I'm fucking old (and I'm totally cool with being fucking old because if almost-40 looks like this, then I've been woefully mislead my entire life), but, after the 70s, there has never been a decade of fantastic one-hit wonders like in the 80s. I'm just so glad it's not the early 90s anymore, when the music sucked and I felt like I had to pretend Men Without Hats and Spandau Ballet and Frankie Goes To Hollywood weren't cool. And also Ah-Ha and Right Said Fred.

Because they're really cool and I embrace that. On top of that, you know what I'm watching right now? Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Oh yeah. Gene Wilder can snap my white checkered suspenders any day.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Six Reasons Why I Love, Nay *Heart*, Yo Gabba Gabba: A Musical Exploration

I know I've extolled the virtues of Yo Gabba Gabba before. It just doesn't get old. I feel like it wants to turn my kid into a Mini Me, and since having kids is the ultimate act of selfishness and vanity, this show is working for me.

I love Datarock because they're kind of like Devo.

Can't get enough of Chromeo. Plus their hands must be very clean.

I'm ashamed to say how often I get this Aquabats song stuck in my head but it's freaking cool.

Best count to ten song ever, because they pretty much only get up to six.

The best part is near the end, when the food is all swimming joyfully in Brobee's stomach acid. It's purple.

I appreciate that TV is teaching my kid to beat box with Biz Markee.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vote Hat!

In honor of the upcoming Turkish elections on Sunday, elections whose conclusion is forgone and which no good can come of, I'd like to throw in for the National Hat Party.

I'd vote for him.

And here's a poster for the kids, you know, to show we're down with the youth vote and stuff.

It's the dawning of a new era. Of hats.
He's got as much chance of winning as anyone else who isn't AKP.

Friday, June 10, 2011

First Day Back: A Catalogue of Unpleasantly Parallelish Things, and One Super Great Thing, That Happened On My First Day Back To America

On my first day back home on my yearly pilgrimage to see my family and eat shitloads of good food and retain my American-ness, whatever that is, I opened the morning paper, which gets thinner and crappier every year. It's kind of sad to see newspaper culture disappearing in the US, but at least it thrives in Turkey even though I also feel sorry for the trees, making it a lose-win-lose situation.

Dumb as posts.
On the front page was the latest installment in the ongoing Followers of Christ train wreck. The Followers of  Christ are a little cult in Oregon City (read: buttfuck backwater, nothing akin to any city) who keep making the papers for failing to seek medical care for their sick children, and their children die on them because oil and prayers just don't cut it in the real world. So the first bit of good news was that the Wylands were found guilty of criminal mistreatment of their little girl. The better news was that they didn't manage to kill her, and that she will most likely regain the sight in her eye.
God just didn't love her enough.

It was all pleasing news, another chapter in the ongoing "Church vs. State" thingie that seems to open up every summer around the time I come here. In 2009, it was the Worthingtons. They were not at all good news. Despite the posh-sounding name, the Worthingtons were a pair of shit-asses who, frankly, ought to be denied the right to reproduce. Their baby daughter died at 15 months after laying on hands, oil, and a bit of wine failed to make her breathe while a cyst on her neck, obviously placed there by the Devil hisself, slowly choked the life out of her.
Doesn't Jesus love me?
Disappointingly, the dad in this fiasco only got a few months in prison. His wife Raylene, who apparently was led astray by the Devil, had allegedly made a tentative suggestion during the witchery around her dying baby that the girl be taken to a proper Devil doctor, so she got off with nothing but a dead baby. At the time of the trial, she was pregnant with another little Church vs. State precedent-setter, whose fate is probably something I'll learn about in another summer trip home while I'm getting back in touch with my American side.
Thicker than pigshit.

Raylene Worthington, however, wins the Stranger "Biggest Dumbass" Award. Not only did she allegedly sit by and get ignored on the doctor thing while her baby died, she had also lost her little brother not long before, because Jesus didn't love him either and He had decided the boy should die of a blockage in his urinary tract that caused him to lose the ability to pee for a couple weeks.


As stupid as they look.
Maybe it was just some creepy Job thing, letting the poor Beagley kid die a slow and painful death as a show of faith, but clearly it didn't work out for him as well as it did for old Job. His parents' trial was 2010's Church vs. State train wreck.

Sucked for Job.

Anyway, the point of this whole Oregon-based rant is this. Everyone struggles with their separation of religion and legislation issues. If this is how it looks in Oregon with the anointin' and layin' on of hands and cypherin' and all, I'm pretty freaking glad the Turkish media are focusing on headscarves, because this is about all I can handle of dead babies and losers who should get their baby licenses taken away.

As a pointless aside, I despise Keanu Reeves for his crappy acting and erstwhile attractive face (spoiled by the crappy acting, why didn't you just remain Ted-esque and Rivers Edge with Dennis Hopper, my dear boy?) but I should credit a Film Moment for where I got the term "baby license" from:

Open Letter To Dennis Hopper:

Dear Dennis Hopper,

I love you and I wish you weren't dead. I also wish your celebrity death triad hadn't included Gary Coleman and Art Linkletter.

With creepy adoration,

It's bad for kids when God wins
The other inspiration for this post wasn't all the dead kids in Oregon City. It was supposed to be about some cool things that happened to me on my first day back. As I think about it, the minimal prison sentences these baby murderers have been getting aren't that cool at all. I blame God and the judiciary. It seems that, in terms of actual justice as I see it, the score is Church 3: Grown-Up Reason 0.

The real reason I wanted to post in the first place was totally frivolous, which is that my boots arrived.
Hello, ladies.
Ever since I got my sweet university job where I make money and gain personal satisfaction and stuff, I decided I had to reward myself with these boots. That's right, I totally have this secret shoe thing, and since I started having some money I've been looking every week, in a porno-istic way, at these boots on their website.

Unlike their harnessed sisters which I already own, these babies fit like a dream on the first go and won't take a year to break in properly.

Open Letter To My Boots:

Dear Boots,

It's enough to just to smell your sweet, sweet leather smell, and to stroke your luscious leather uppers from time to time. My feelings for you are unnatural and I'm okay with that.

With deep affection,

Being in America mostly makes me want to Eat and Buy Things, in what is surely a microcosmically meaningful phenomenon.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An Article By Someone Way Smarter Than I Am

 This is one of the most interesting things I've read in awhile.

And I read a lot.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Can't catch me!
Before I wrote the post a few days back about polygamy, I did a bunch of reading. Like every issue in Turkey, or perhaps like every issue everywhere, things turn out be very multi-faceted and complex once you get past the part that pisses you off. It's just that the multi-facetedness of every issue in Turkey is slipperier and way more fun.

Having a think.
I had to mull things over for quite a long time before I could come up with a way to write about polygamy, and the implications thereof, without repeating what everyone else has been on about for a long time.

So I've decided to give credit where credit is due. This way you can see how nothing I think of is particularly original. Mostly I just use swear words in surprising places.

First, I read Nomad's piece on the same article. He got to it before I did because he generally tends to do that:

Legalizing Polygamy In Turkey

The comments in there lead me to Jenny White over at Kamil Pasha...

Disturbing Trends

... which was written almost a year ago. This is to show you I pretty much have my head up my ass as far as current events go.

As is often the case, the comments prove to be as interesting as/more interesting than the posts themselves, so for sure read the comments on the Kamil Pasha post. When it comes to stuff that happens in Turkey, especially where context is needed, Bülent Murtezaoğlu magically appears out of nowhere full of links and useful information.

Rexella has learned how to say big numbers
On a seemingly unrelated note which I assure you will turn out to be related, my dad and I were once watching scary televangelist Jack Van Impe on TV, and I was like, "He has to be making up those Bible quotes he throws in every 2 seconds Ezekiel 2:15 Matthew 21:7 verse 5," and my dad was all, "You know, there are just some people who have that skill and can cite from the Bible accurately like that, " and I was like, "Oh, yeah, there was an episode of Little House On the Prairie when Mary went to go teach in some po-dunk town with that bad lady all going on about the cipherin' who turned out to be illiterate, plus that show Carnival that sadly only lasted one season..." and he was all, "You see?"

The reason I'm relating this touching story of my dad and I watching creepy Christians on TV is because Bülent can cite useful things from the Internet with the swiftness and ease of a televangelist who memorized the Bible. Seriously, it's like he memorized the Internet and then somehow remained one of the world's only reasonable and polite Internetters who leaves comments. I just didn't want to mention Bülent and the the televangelists in one sentence without some sort of context.

Lastly, one of Bülent's links on Kamil Pasha led me to this article by Claire Berlinski...

Ban the Burqa

... which I really enjoyed because it's so tortured and almost gets to why I feel so tortured over the headscarf thing, and the other shitty things Islam does to women when religion and legislation meet over tea and decide to fuck the women over while appearing like they're being all democratic and human rights-ish about it. Oh and also the poor people and minorities get fucked over too when these tea dates happen but it's the women that are most visible, probably because a lot of them are neither poor nor minorities so the media actually give a shit.

Happy reading!