Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obligatory Bea Arthur post

One day in the mid-1990s, I was standing in the tiniest Kinko's in the world, at the corner of Broadway and Zimpel in Uptown New Orleans, waiting to buy a course packet.* On the tiny television, facing away from me, was a sitcom that sounded for all the world like a bunch of drag queens doing a campy send-up of a sitcom. I spent probably ten minutes listening, in fascination, wondering how on earth I had not heard that there was now a sitcom - a NETWORK SITCOM! - starring an entire cast of drag queens.

And then I heard, "Golden Girls will return after these messages." Ahhh. I see. It wasn't drag queens, it was freakin' Bea Arthur and the gang, with their excessive performance of femininity. Eye-opening, that was.

My other favorite thing about Bea Arthur isn't really about her. It's that my friend M. dressed as Bea Arthur for Halloween when she was in grammar school in the mid-70s. Which I think is hilarious. Perhaps I shall dress as Bea Arthur-as-Maude for Halloween this year. Where ever will I get such a wig, though?

Herewith, Bea and Rock Hudson (Rock! Hudson!) singing about doing drugs. This would never happen on network TV in this day and age. It's hard to imagine that the 70s were more progressive than the 'Oughties in some ways, innit?

*For those of you too young to remember a time before the internet and digital reserve readings and J-stor, a "course packet" was a xeroxed collection of readings for a class. Kinko's would bind them up and make a tidy little sum on these suckers. Eventually academic publishers decided that Kinko's definition of "educational use" had gone over the line, copyrights had been sullied, and the course packet went the way of the 2400 baud modem.**

** For those of you too young to remember the 2400 baud modem..... oh, never mind. Just pretend like I'm talking about an abacus or a slide rule.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Ay, me. I am allergic to the entire state of Mississippi, but today, this weekend, I am, specifically allergic to Ligustrum sinense, the Chinese privet plant, an invasive species in North America.

Ligustrum, how do I hate thee? With my swollen sinuses,
my hacking lungs,
my itching eyelids.
I loathe your lurking presence just outside my air conditioning unit, spraying pollen into the air, up my nose, onto my car.
Yes, you smell sweet, poisonous, sickly sweet, with your disarming floral array.
My scratchy throat, my sneezes, they know better.
Antihistamines: drowsy
decongestant: dizzy
I nod out, leave incoherent messages, ramble instead of lecture.
Oh, ligustrum sinense, go home. Invade not these foreign shores, my Southern immune system, my head and my chest.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Who's Buddy Holly?

Yeah, so, I had a relapse and watched a lot of Celebrity Rehab this weekend, because I had a lot of ironing to do and it seemed like a good idea to watch something brainless while I did the ironing.

I was in error, my friends, ERROR. Let me assure you, it's never a good idea to watch Celebrity Rehab or Sober House. Learn from my mistakes, I beg you. I will tell you the single most shocking thing I heard said on Celebrity Rehab (which for some reason I keep wanting to call Celebrity Apprentice):

"Who's Buddy Holly?"

Sean Stewart, son of Rod Stewart, asks this question of Gary Busey. You should've seen Busey's head whip around and say, "WHAT?" "Who's Buddy Holly?" was the repeat. I just, I can't imagine how someone who grew up in the music business doesn't know who fucking Buddy Holly is. Addict behavior, abuse, tantrums, lies, overdoses, yeah, that's to be expected, but "Who's Buddy Holly?" just ripped a hole in the fabric of the universe for me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

A word on cat ownership.

Never turn your back on ranch dressing.

I kind of love Texas.

Went to college in San Antonio, spent a few years in Austin during the slacker years, but on the whole, Texas has been a little douchebaggy of late, there's no denying it. I mean, I've got a passport, so I could visit for Taco Cabana and visits with my college friends, but if no Texan ever became president again, that would be A-OKAY with me, ya know?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Look, I've been paying taxes to the frat boy, supporting his stupid wars and abstinence-only sex ed and his war on women for eight fucking years. Yet I am not such an asshole that I think my disgust with his choices has anything - ANYTHING - in common with the American colony's objection to taxation without representation back in the 1770s. What a bunch of fucking whiners. We won, you lost, fair and square, which is more than the R's could say about 8 years ago. I fully intended to go document the Teabagging in downtown Buttcrack today, but professional commitments forced me to leave town for the day. Alas. However, nothing I could post here could be as hilarious as Rachel Maddow covering this story:

I mean, seriously, have none of these people ever seen a John Waters movie, even by accident??

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Reduce the Rate (on student loans)

I'm just going to put this out there. I've been off the parental dole since age eighteen, and I have three college degrees (BA, MA, PhD), all paid for at least partially by student loans. I now have a six-figure student loan debt, that gets bigger *every single month* because I cannot afford to even pay the interest on it each month. My payment plan right now is the Income Contingent Repayment plan, in which I pay a percentage of my take home each month (right at 15%). This figure, as noted, is less than the monthly interest, so every six months, that extra interest is capitalized. Yeah. So. My student loan debt is three times the size of my mortgage. It's brutal.

The interest rate is around 8%, and there is no amount of re-consolidating that will improve it. My first student loan was in 1984, when 8% was considered low. These days, a new student loan runs somewhere below 5%. If I could even drop the interest rate to something reasonable, I might be able to make some inroads into the capital.

My only hope, my only consolation is this: after twenty years of ICR payments, the capital will, supposedly, be forgiven. OR, after ten years of payments while working for a non-profit (which I do), my balance may be forgiven. This latter plan is a new Obama production and is supposed to go into effect this summer. I'm not one for praying, but if I did, I'd pray and pray that this actually happens. I could be out of debt before I'm fifty years old! Holy crap!

I have been working very hard to get my finances in order and pay down my credit debt. I've scrimped and saved a $1000 emergency fund. I've quit using credit cards. But always, looming, is this enormous student loan. E-NOR-MOUS.

Here's the thing: I'm a middle-class kid. Dad worked for the federal government, mom worked part-time office jobs. We lived in the suburbs, had two cars, my brother and I went to private schools on and off. But even if my parents had paid for my BA, they would not have forked over for the next two degrees, because, frankly, they couldn't have afforded to support me for another 8 or 10 years. College education - even just the BA - is getting to be out of reach for even the middle classes, never mind the poor and working classes, who are increasingly unable to go to even the most affordable junior colleges. This is unconscionable.

I bring all of this up because of a post I just read at The Angry Black Woman's Blog about a movement to Reduce the Rate. As in, reduce interest rates. Make student loan payments affordable. Stop penalizing universities for studens who default. Here's the agenda:

* Reduce the interest rate on all student loans to 1%.
If banks can borrow at 1% or less, then so should our students.

* Extend the grace period before loan repayment begins from 6 months to 18 months for students who graduate.

In these tough economic times, it takes a college graduate an average of 6 months to 1 year to find a job. The rules should reflect this reality.

* End the penalties assessed to schools for student loan defaults.
Schools should not be held accountable for students who don’t pay back their loans.

* Increase Pell Grants to cover the average yearly cost of a public
4 year institution instead of the amounts in the current stimulus package–$5,350 starting July 1 and $5,550 in 2010-2011

I would like to add: reduce the rate on existing student loans - not just new ones. I work for a museum. I'll never make enough money to pay off my student loan. Seriously. Never. Even if I were to be able to get a tenure-track teaching job at a university, the pay is similar. I know guys digging ditches in oil fields who make twice what I do. This is my choice, yes, but it's also a choice that benefits my community. Those of us who work in non-profits are highly educated, under paid, and deserve a chance at one day, somehow, some day, being DEBT-FREE. It's not a lot to ask.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

cheesus fucking christ on a popsicle stick

I am sick and tired of people - feminist people, even - calling Nadya Suleman "Octomom". She's got a fucking name, and she is a human being. Common courtesy, is it too much to ask?

That is all.