Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Public, Like a Blog

(Image Credit: Shannon Scott Shiflett, who also found the [perfect] lines by Dickinson)

We offer this exceptional piece of eye candy -- just one of more than 1100 images that have now been uploaded to the "Aretha Franklin's Inauguration Hat" fan page on Facebook -- as a short answer to the question, "Why do you like living in the 21st century?" It might also be an answer to a number of other fascinating questions -- e.g., "How do you justify the inordinate amount of time you spend on social networking sites or trolling the internets looking at images?" or, "What's a sure-fire way to make a couple of English profs laugh so hard they wet their pants?" -- but we'll leave it at that.

We have watched with interest and no small degree of amusement the viral spread of the spectacular hat Aretha Franklin wore for her performance at Barack Obama's inauguration. (Loyal readers may give us some credit for helping to launch the virus. We posted a picture of the hat here in Roxie's World before the inaugural parade had even made its way to the reviewing stand.) Our hunch is that the hat has captured the cultural imagination because it so deftly signifies the nation's release from the soul-deadening non-style of the Bush years -- the non-drinking, early-to-bed, rod-up-his-rear president who left no peanut-butter sandwich behind and the robotic wife whose hair didn't move in eight unbearable (to us) years. Aretha's hat -- larger than life and perched at its jaunty angle as her ample body belted out a soulful rendition of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" -- heralds our liberation and summons us to a new style with deep roots in African-American traditions of display and in something that feels just a little bit queer to us. Both are styles of excess, exaggeration, and audacity, styles that call attention to themselves as styles, as minority groups boldly call attention to themselves and their differences from the norms of Bush-league white, straight America. "We're here," such style declares. "We're queer -- and/or black -- get used to it -- or don't. Who cares?" Aretha's hat compels us to look and, having looked, we long to have or be what we see, and so the image proliferates . . . and we end up with the wheelchair-bound Dick Cheney at the inauguration in Aretha's hat (Moose's new profile photo on her FB page) and the glorious anachronism of the sole surviving daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson looking dapper rather than damaged (Goose's new profile photo on her FB page, thanks to Shannon).

And so Aretha's hat becomes a way for us to come at the deeper questions a friend has been probing lately about "your brain on the internet[s]." Part of what we love about our brain on the internets is precisely the kinds of creative engagements it makes possible -- between the present and the past, between and among persons, devices, and strangers who bump into one another in their journeys through cyberspace. Would the intensely private (according to myth) Dickinson "mind" the radical remaking of her image that Shannon has engineered and the several recontextualizations it has already undergone (its display first in the Facebook gallery, then in Goose's profile, and now in the oh so public space of this humble blog)? That hardly matters, though the official Dickinson scholar of Roxie's World, whose Dickinson has always been far more public and a whole lot funnier than the legend of the half-cracked agoraphobic poetess would have you believe, is confident that a 21st-century Dickinson would have taken readily to all the tools of self-publication we now have at our disposal. Were she alive today, instead of declaring, "I had told you I did not print," she might have sniffed to an influential editor, "Oh, honey, it's all up on my blog."

What matters, though, is that our brains on the internet expose the intense proximity of these worlds to one another. Of course they are different, and the differences matter, but there is something valuable to be gained in bringing Dickinson and Aretha (and Cheney!) into relationship and conversation. Dickinson, who declared herself "the only Kangaroo among the Beauty" nearly a century and a half ago, well understood the subversive, strategic powers of difference. She was also devastatingly insightful about the kind of tyrannical power exercised by would-be despots like Cheney. In her reading of Moses' being prevented from entering the Promised Land by a vengeful god exacting a petty punishment, Dickinson sides squarely with Moses, declaring that God deals with Moses "As Boy — should deal with lesser Boy —To prove ability." We have a hunch Dickinson would have understood why we always called the former vice president "Darth Cheney," and we bet she would have enjoyed herself immensely at the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president. "Little boys commemorating the advent of their country," is how Dickinson once described the Fourth of July in a letter to a friend. We like imagining what Dickinson might have had to say about about what feels, in our best moments, like a second and very different advent for a nation much in need of something new. We raise our hats to it -- and to Shannon, for making us laugh and giving us an excuse to wax anachronistically.

By the way, this is not at all the post we intended to write this evening. We had planned to catch up on our basketball blogging and bombard you with links to the terrific piece Sally Jenkins had in Wa Po today on Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who is about to pick up her 1000th victory, or the disheartening piece John Feinstein had on the state of the Non-Lady Terps, who continue to find ways to lose. Or, we thought we might weigh in with something funny on the consternation in Washington over President Obama's snide remarks about how his new hometown deals with winter weather. (Note to Prez: When you're new to the 'hood, don't go on and on about how much better things were back in your old stomping grounds. It's boring, and it ticks off the locals.) Or, we thought we might get in on the ground floor of writing eulogies for the political career of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted this evening by the state senate. As it is, we shall have to content ourselves with sending out a brief word of condolence to our loyal Illinois lurkers, who shall now have to endure a gov who thinks that being "cheerful, earnest, frank, and honest" is the way to lead a state. Ho-hum!

Anyway, that's what we meant to blog about tonight, but it didn't happen. That's your brain on the internets, kids. You may not go where you intended, but you'll almost always end up enjoying where you've been. Peace out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Look Again


You're sure about that?

Not having any doubts?

A few maybe? I thought so.

Honeymoon's over, kids. Time to get back to the hard work of citizenship. Roxie's World joins Katha Pollitt in urging you to make your voice heard on restoring the family-planning provisions to the economic stimulus package before the final version of the bill reaches the president's desk. Do what Katha says:
Call the White House comment line at 202 224 3121 and tell President Obama to put back the birth control provision. Then call your Senators at 202 224 3121 and tell them the same.
You won the election, Mr. President, and you've already made a couple of important moves aimed at ending George Bush's war on women and reproductive freedom. We commend you for that, but please don't let low-income women be used as a bargaining chip in a futile effort to pick up votes from the far-right wing of a severely weakened opposition party that has no real interest in working with you. That doesn't feel like the vaunted new politics you were supposed to be bringing to Washington, Mr. President. From where we sit, it looks, feels, and smells a lot like the old politics. We'd be happy to call you a feminist -- All you have to do is man up and act like one. Don't sell out low-income women and their families your first five minutes in office.

What are you still doing here? Didn't I tell you to go make phone calls? Go call your new best friend in Washington and tell him to do the right thing. That's why you helped put him and his pretty family in that lovely house you own downtown, isn't it? Start dialing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Click to embiggen and read the comic, or you won't get this post at all:

We agree wholeheartedly that what queers really need is a miniseries comparable to Roots, the 1977 series based on Alex Haley's novel. It is the next logical step toward full citizenship in the United States of Painful History Re-Packaged as Banal Spectacle, and, no, we don't count the 1993 miniseries based on Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City because it only aired on PBS. We gladly offer Fruits as a proposed title for the series, but we're reluctant to start trying to cast the role of a queer Kunta Kinte for fear of again incurring the wrath of the Division of Standards and Practices here in Roxie's World, which is monitoring us closely after yesterday's naughty little post about lesbian sex practices in the Obama White House. (You missed the shocking news? Scroll down, or click here.) If we started daydreaming about who should play the role of Kunta Kinte in our queer miniseries, my typist's known fondness for bawdy, anatomically oriented puns would no doubt lead to a series of tasteless Jodie Foster jokes that would probably culminate in a semi-pornographic fantasy of an Amazonian warrior queen leading an army of, um, fisted sisters. Oh, dear. I told you we should not head down this road. Stop thinking about Kunta Kinte immediately. Please.

Anyway, we think this miniseries idea is brilliant. What better way to win back the friends the LGBT community is apparently losing by getting all hot and bothered when fellow citizens vote to take their rights away? SF Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders explains that, though she has voted against efforts to ban same-sex marriage in the past, in the November election she chose to abstain on California's Prop 8, apparently because gays and their allies have been just a little too pushy for her taste. "There's a heavy-handedness to the true believers," Saunders sniffs. "They use public schools to push their political agenda with young kids." She offers no evidence in support of that claim and suggests that queers are being disingenuous in arguing that Prop 8 "took away" any substantive rights enjoyed by same-sex couples in California once the Supreme Court had legalized marriage: "The only right changed was the ability to call themselves married under state law. The other benefits stand."

Dear Ms. Saunders,

Thanks for the helpful explanation. We are real sorry that you've been offended by the passion with which LGBT citizens have pursued their right to civil equality and by their righteous determination to hold fellow citizens to account for making money off the gay community and then contributing some of that money to the effort to deny them rights enjoyed by others. We can appreciate how uncomfortable this makes you and promise to exhort California queers to be more well-behaved in the future, because we understand that civil rights are always granted to those who wait politely for them to be granted without causing any undue discomposure to others. We are also grateful to you for explaining that the Supreme Court of California was gravely mistaken when it ruled that reserving the term "marriage" for opposite-sex couples was a constitutionally impermissible denial of equal dignity and respect to same-sex couples, even if their relationships were granted the same substantive benefits and protections of marriage. Since words don't matter, we've decided to start referring to opposite-sex marriages as "poop on toast" just to see how it makes our straight fellow citizens feel. We hope that won't offend you, but we got the idea from your incredibly thoughtful explanation of why queers should shut up and accept their second-class status. We promise to give you credit when we send in our RSVP to the next poop-on-toast invitation we receive.

Yours sincerely,

Yep, what we need is a good miniseries. We're pretty sure Roots is, like, 99% responsible for the election of President Barack H. Obama. We don't have any evidence for that claim, of course, but the art of the unsupported assertion is one more lesson we learned from Debra Saunders. Maybe we can get Jodie to direct. Unless she just really, really wants to lead that unruly band of, um, fisted sisters. And fruity brothers. We'll reach out to her people and let you know what she says. Cross your fingers and get ready for your close-ups, kids!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Read My Fist

Perhaps the most extraordinary news to emerge in this extraordinary week in the shiny new place called America is that Barack and Michelle Obama have brought lesbian sex practices into the White House! Seriously, kids -- It was on Fox, so it must be true! Watch this vid, picked up by way of Shakesville (with a helpful reminder from the Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World):

Moose's sly response to the hottest news from Pennsylvania Avenue since Bill put out his cigar? "I'm really starting to like this Obama fella! Who knew we had so much in common?"

Of course, we suppose it's possible that the Fox "sex expert" was referring to the infamous fist bump (or "terrorist fist jab") the Obamas publicly indulged in last summer, but the logic of her statement implies a continuum of sexual intimacy that begins with touching and moves through kissing to fis --

Attention: The Division of Standards and Practices of Roxie's World interrupts this post to prevent a violation of the family-friendly ethic of this blog. The typist will be severely sanctioned for her unconscionable indulgence in a fantasy of randy presidential sexuality. We apologize to our readers, who expect better of us. To purify the air of this happy place, we conclude with a sugary sweet video of the Bush sisters giving advice to the Obama daughters about growing up in the White House. No kidding -- It's actually kinda touching, even if it is mostly a ploy to win sympathy for their dad and start the long, impossible project of trying to rehabilitate his image. Good luck with that, twins, but props to you for warmly welcoming the Obama girls to the small, strange club of presidential kids:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dog Bless Bill Moyers

Go watch this extraordinary post-inaugural conversation Bill Moyers has with Columbia law prof Patricia J. Williams and Princeton poli sci prof Melissa Harris-Lacewell about race, politics, history, and the meanings of the milestone achieved in the United States this week. We'd embed it if we could, but we can't, so just click on over there or, or, . . . or you'll wake up ten pounds heavier tomorrow morning. We're not even going to give you any eye candy, because if we do you'll be tempted to linger here, and for once in our blog-whoring little lives we don't want you to do that. Go show Bill some love, and we'll get back to you real soon about how cool it is to live in a country not ruled by idiots and fascists.

Oh, and while we're begging you to leave us, go read this lengthy piece by Simon Schama on Obama. It tends toward the hagiographic, but in a smart way. Read it now, or my typist will start writing a poem that looks for other words that rhyme with "Obama" besides "Schama." You know, like this:
I went downtown upon my llama
to talk to President Obama
about the fact that my two mamas
should get to marry if they wanna --
I told you to get the heck out of here, people! Go do your homework. There will be a quiz! Obama would want you to study! ;-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Madame Secretary

Newsflash: Guys can hold bibles and look somber and supportive while their brilliant and accomplished wives take oaths of office! The Big Dawg shows how it's done in the above photo, taken in Hillary Clinton's senate office during her swearing in as secretary of state in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was confirmed for that post this afternoon on a 94-2 vote, with Republicans David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim DeMint of South Carolina voting in the negative. We are disappointed yet not surprised that Clinton did not win the support of one of the more prominent conservatives to show up on the phone list of the DC Madam and the wing-nut who brags that he was rated by The National Journal as the most conservative senator two years in a row.

We're so pleased with Hillary's new position and so suffused by the sense of well-being that has resulted from more than 24 hours without George Bush and Darth Cheney anywhere near the executive branch that we are delighted to pass along to you this very funny bit from The Onion about Hillary allegedly mouthing along to the presidential oath yesterday at President Obama's swearing in. It is a good example of how to be funny without being mean, the line we strive continually to find here in Roxie's World. The only detail we find objectionable is the suggestion that Hillary only appeared to change the wording when it came time for the president to say his name. We feel confident in asserting that if she had been mouthing along Secretary Clinton would have corrected Chief Justice John Roberts' bungling of the word order of the oath. She'd have fixed that as quickly as we reckon she'll start fixing all the diplomatic disasters wrought by her predecessor in Foggy Bottom, but here, in any case, is the bit from The Onion:
WASHINGTON—Network news cameras covering Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony Tuesday captured Hillary Clinton silently moving her lips along with each word of the minute-long presidential oath of office. As she stood watching several yards from Chief Justice John Roberts, the former Democratic presidential candidate could be observed placing her left hand on a leather appointment book and raising her right hand slightly from her hip. Clinton, who carefully followed the swearing-in procedure with her eyes shut tightly, only varied from the president's words once, when she soundlessly mouthed her name instead of Barack Obama's. Clinton was later seen at an inaugural ball pretending she was dancing with first lady Michelle Obama.
Hey, we bet all the girls at the balls last night were pretending they were dancing with the new first lady. We're quite sure that if we had been there we would have been, even though Moose, the tallest girl in Roxie's World, has never had the experience of dancing with a woman taller than she is. We'll close with a last piece of inaugural eye candy, a photo of the First Couple dancing at the Commander-in-Chief ball, to help persuade Moose that in this new day she needs to open her mind to new possibilities. Well, she mutters from her red chair, as long as I get to wear a white tie and tails. And, you know, rule the freakin' world.

(Photo Credit: Doug Mills, New York Times)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inaugural Grab Bag

Images We Liked

The crowd assembles on the Mall before daylight:

(Photo Credit: Matt Rourke, Associated Press)

The uninvited guest arrives, heavily sedated:

(Photo Credit: Saul Loeb, Associated Press)

The one part of the oath that went right -- because Michelle was in charge:

(Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, Associated Press)

Safe Bet -- Oval Office sex, without interns?

(Photo Credit: Brian Snyder, Reuters)

Comments We Noted

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Nation, on Obama's address:

Inaugural speeches, at their best, set the tone and offer we, the people, a challenge. It is now we, the people, who must act--organizing,mobilizing to counter the forces of money and establishment power which remain obstacles to meaningful reform. Let us be the wind at the new President's back, to ensure that together we complete the unfinished work of making America a more perfect union.

We can, yes.

Jeff Sheshol, former deputy speechwriter to President Bill Clinton, on the speech:

It was quite a severe speech — muscular, tough-minded and unsparing (at times startlingly so) in its critique of the outgoing administration. It was a display of strength (his) and a summoning of strength (ours). Never again, I suspect, will his critics talk of the wispiness of “hope” and the emptiness of “change.” (They will talk of other things, but not this.)

Alice Walker, advising the new president on how to maintain a sense of balance and happiness in his new role:

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to Earth, to Peoples, to Animals, to Rivers, to Mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

The Idiot lately returned to his village in Texas, on history and his plan to write a book:

I want people to be able to understand what it was like in the Oval Office when I had to make some of the tough decisions that I was called upon to make. History tends to take a little time for people to remember what happened and to have an objective accounting of what took place and I’d like to be a part of making a real history of this administration come to life.

Fear not, beloveds -- The idiots and evildoers are gone, and the good guys -- and gals -- are back in charge. We survived the Shrub debacle, together. Now, let's figure out how to pick up the pieces and move forward, together.

The Price and the Promise

IN:(Photo Credit: Ricky Carioti, Washington Post)

OUT (Praise DOG!):
(Photo Credit: Saul Loeb, Associated Press)

UP (and Adorable!):
(Photo Credit: Susan Walsh, Associated Press)

(Photo Credit: Ron Edmonds, Associated Press)

TEXT of President Obama's inaugural address is here. VIDEO is here. TRANSCRIPT of Elizabeth Alexander's poem, "Praise Song for the Day," is here.

The View from the Couch:
Reactions from Denizens of Roxie's World
to the Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama

Some of my most devoted fans gathered in the great room this morning, with mimosas, eggs, grits, and shrimp, to watch the pageantry of American democracy and weigh in on the vital question of whether Michelle Obama's dress would be stunning or flat-out supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Consensus among the pretty boys and smart girls glued to the ridiculously large TV screen was that the sunny silk brocade was decidedly the latter. You'll have to go to the big blogs or the msm web sites for detailed reports on and reactions to the changing of the guard. Events this large and momentous are beyond the capacity of a humble dog blog to cover fully. Nonetheless, because we love you and don't want to disappoint you, here are some quick thoughts/reactions from the gang gathered 'round the plasma:

Observations on the Inauguration…
Re-re [i.e., Aretha Franklin] is FIERCE!
Michelle is Stunning!
Rick Warren is an ASS!
Our new President gave an amazing speech!
Grits are GREAT!

I am proud that my country is no longer missing a leader. I am inspired by the progress we have made. I am frustrated that we aren’t as far as we could be. I believe we still can get there. Recycle.

Elizabeth Alexander’s poem was astonishing, quite amazing, especially for an occasional piece. Sasha’s thumbs-up made me giggle and grin. Rick Warren was an embarrassment, and it felt like being back in the Church of Christ. I look forward to an inauguration when there is no invocation. Michelle’s outfit? Breathtaking! That Roberts flubbed the oath of office and Cheney was being pushed around in a wheelchair seems somehow appropriate. May Obama have the courage NOT to escalate war. May he have the courage to be inclusive enough to extend embrace to queers like me and all of my wonderful friends sitting here in front of the fire, enjoying jalapeno cheese grits and Chesapeake spiced shrimp. May we have the courage and compassion to redistribute wealth, REALLY. And here’s to a sense of humor in the new administration. Change can only be enacted by remembering to have fun!

Aunt Margie (back in the 'hood from the Badger State):
I have been on line reading letters from the descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T Washington. I try to get inside this experience to see what this means to descendants of slaves – like Michelle – to those who had to drink from different drinking fountains than me. I get inside my own history growing up in a family in Wisconsin in which racism was deeply engrained. I remember the "race riots" in my city, the National Guard in my streets – and I did not believe I would see this day in my lifetime.

But I am aware of the limits of politics. I am aware of the limits of this space as a repository for hope. I know that true equality will not be achieved until we include those still excluded from the full rights of society. I know that we have a lot of work to do to fully realize the dream.

The Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World:
Obama’s inaugural address took me by surprise, particularly his pragmatic attitude about the state of our nation. It would have been incredibly easy for him to paint a more optimistic, but less realistic picture of just where we stand as a country. Since I’m far from an Obamaniac, I celebrate today less because of Obama’s “ascendancy” (a word that a newscaster used to describe his taking of the office) and more because of Bush’s departure. I relished seeing Dubya respond to Obama’s less-than-subtle critique of his shameful administration. I couldn’t help but notice that they sat Aretha Franklin behind Bush. Why didn’t she take that big-ass, but nonetheless fabulous hat off her head and pummel him with it, all the while singing, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T?” A girl can dream.

I give the day an A++ for spectacle and for the sheer emotional release of finally being free of Shrub and Darth Cheney, who obviously had to be medicated in order to be forced out of town. I thought Obama's speech was thoughtful and beautifully delivered, though not as soaring as I might have expected. I looked at the transcripts and don't see anything that cries out to be carved in stone, though I do like the piece we used for the title to this post. I like his emphasis on our common purpose, something that was glaringly absent from Shrub-era rhetoric and politics, and hope that as he moves forward he will focus more on that than on individual responsibility, a theme he has borrowed from Republicans that gets on my last nerve every time I hear it.

I want to send warm wishes to the extended pack here at Roxie's World and thank you all for sticking with us through the long strange odyssey of this campaign, election, and extraordinary transition. Today truly is a day for setting aside all kinds of differences and focusing on the historic significance of this moment. Tomorrow, we can begin to contemplate the perils and possibilities we face as a nation and a world. We are grateful to all of you for your friendship and your passionate dedication to the cause of justice. Join us in wishing the new president and his family a joyous day, a safe journey, and a warm welcome in America's home. Peace out -- and always.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The End Is Near

Bush countdown created by James Miller

Hear My Prayer

Updated at bottom.

We had intended to declare Roxie's World a snark-free zone today, out of respect to those of our readers who are in the mood simply to savor the long-awaited end of the Shrub presidency and the much-ballyhooed beginning of the Obama Era. We were prepared to shift into a HOPE-ful, even sentimental mode after watching bits and pieces of yesterday's inaugural celebration and realizing that, at a bare minimum, it will be very nice to have people in the White House whose taste in music comes pretty close to our own and whose unselfconscious response to any song is to smile, sing along, and move their bodies in time to it. Trust me, you would have loved the post we were planning to write.

But then my typist clicked over to Pam's House Blend for her morning cup of something strong and black and learned why we hadn't managed to catch openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson's invocation on HBO's broadcast of the festivities. According to AfterElton (by way of Pam), HBO didn't broadcast the prayer because the Presidential Inaugural Committee decided the invocation was part of the "pre-show." AfterElton explains:
Uncertain as to whether or not that meant that HBO was contractually prevented from airing the pre-show, we followed up, but none of the spokespeople available Sunday night could answer that question with absolute certainty. However, it does seem that the network's position is that they had nothing to do with the decision.
In other words, the buck stops with the same dimwits who decided open, active homophobe Rick Warren would be a swell invocation speaker for the inauguration itself.

In other words, queers are fine for the unseen warm-up act, but the play itself -- on the main stage, under the big top, through the front door -- is reserved for those who hate queers in the name of the little lord Jeebus. Awesome, dudes. Way to progress! Hey, could I by any chance borrow that snazzy Obama sweatshirt of yours? It's kinda chilly here in the back of the bus.

Perhaps Dan Savage (again by way of Pam) says it best, apropos of Robinson having been included to appease the LGBT community for the Warren kick in the teeth and then rendered for all intents and purposes invisible:
When you're throwing folks a bone it's a good idea to make sure they can, you know, see the bone.
Indeed. For a visual representation of reaction here in Roxie's World, we refer you back to this extremely clever post.

Wanna hear the prayer the Obanauts decided not to show you? Here 'tis, courtesy of Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today:

Sigh. Maybe they didn't like the part about the new president being a human being and not a messiah. That news still hasn't gotten out to many parts of Obamerica, and perhaps the Powers About to Be prefer to keep it that way.

Anyway, we sincerely apologize to those of our readers who are trying to sustain a pre-inaugural buzz. We had no intention of interfering with your happy dancing, but our blogger's duty to tell as much of the truth as we happen to notice on any given day required us to report that the president-elect continues to be tone-deaf when it comes to the LGBT community. Just to show you that we haven't lost HOPE for the era of CHANGE that is finally, fer dog's sake, about to begin, we will end with another snippet from We Are One (without any cynical questions about the nature of the "one" that "we" "are"), the rousing performance of "This Land Is Your Land" by Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger that closed the show. Our prayer for a nation battered by eight years of official deception, destruction, and abuse of power is that the incoming administration will walk with some humility and bear in mind the deeply democratic dream that impels this song. It is a dream of collective agency, shared ownership, and profound responsibility to all who dwell here. Please, Mr. President-Elect, hear this prayer:

[Update: Apparently, HBO didn't get the memo about shared ownership. The network is asserting copyright claim to video of the inaugural celebration and has taken a bunch of stuff down off the YouTubes, including "This Land Is Your Land." Got that, kids? Nothing of value really belongs to "you and me" after all. Meanwhile, HRC continues its shameless shilling for Team Obama, posting on its web site a statement from the Presidential Inaugural Committee claiming it had "intended and planned" to include Bishop Robinson's prayer on the broadcast but that somehow there was an (unspecified) "error in executing this plan." Thanks for clearing that up, guys!]

[Updated again: Found another version. Let's hope this one lasts.]

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Audacity of Hype, Part Deux

Carved Watermelon Edition

We just love it when reality outstrips our capacity to make up tasteless jokes. These were spotted this morning in the deli section of the Whole Foods in Silver Spring, MD by Goose, your official Inaugural Kitsch Detective (though Clio Bluestocking continues to contribute to this extensive inside-the-Beltway effort).

(Photo Credits: Goose)

Carved watermelon -- to commemorate the inauguration of the nation's first African-American president. Does this strike anyone else as the most unintentionally hilarious joke ever produced by the color line? And are we the only ones who gaze at these images and immediately think of Camille Paglia's side-splitting cameo in Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman, in which the self-important white professor explains to the young black filmmaker that African-American critics have been wrong to view images of the mammy and of watermelon as racist tropes? Paglia goes off on an insane riff that compares the mammy to her Italian grandmothers and the watermelon to the red, green, and white of the Italian flag. She insists both are images of a nurturing fecundity that is in no way racist. The scene is so funny that it tempts Moose to overlook what a dip-stick the media-hungry Paglia is 99% of the time.

Anyway, Wa Po offers its own contribution today to the kind of unintended humor we are beginning to think may characterize the impending Obama Era. Roxanne Roberts and Krissah Thompson have a front-page story on the intense social/racial jockeying going on in elite Washington as the city prepares to welcome the Obamas. Reading the story, one imagines jaws locking all over Georgetown as frantic hostesses try to figure out how to negotiate a strikingly changed social world:
. . . for the first time, the face of ultimate power is African American. With a black first family in the White House and a diverse group of appointees and Cabinet nominees, the all-white dinner party feels all wrong. Certain hosts are suddenly grappling with a new reality: They need some black friends.
Yes, that's right, fellow citizens. The world is in the throes of economic meltdown, Israel would just as soon blow Gaza to kingdom come, and geese have found a way to bring down airplanes, but the real problem is finding an A-list black person for your next dinner party. No, darling, I told you the Powells are already booked for Saturday. I'll try the Jordans, but we may have to make do with Bill [Cohen, former def sec] and Janet [Langhart Cohen]. At least one of them is black. What kind of fork should I have Mavis set for the watermelon course?

You know what, kids? It could be that the future of humor is secure in Obamerica after all. At least it's starting to look that way from Roxie's World. We promise to let you in on all the jokes. Peace out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Audacity of Hype

Let Them Eat Cake Edition (Updated)

(Photo Credit: Goose!)

Not to be outdone by rival Safeway, which, as reported the other day by neighbor and blog pal Clio Bluestocking, is marketing Obama cookies in its Washington-area stores in advance of the Inauguration, Giant is offering sheet cakes festooned with the rarely seen visage of the nation's 44th president. Moose made this discovery this afternoon but was in a hurry and didn't happen to have her iPhone in her pocket. Realizing she risked losing an opportunity to break actual news in Roxie's World, she got into the car, phoned home, and ordered Goose to go to the store, photograph the cakes, and send her the pictures pronto. (Moose had to get to the office, kids, or qta would have felt lonely, sad, and tragically under-utilized.) Goose eagerly accepted her blogospheric mission and raced over to the store, prepared to do a full-on Emma Peel right there in the bakery aisle in order to document the madness that has overtaken the national capital area as we prepare for new neighbors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. We feel compelled to pass the evidence along, particularly for the benefit of those of our legions of loyal fans who live at some distance from what is starting to feel like the G-spot of the epic Obama-gasm that is about to break across our fair, apparently virgin land.

We were inspired to begin collecting such evidence by Stephen Colbert's brilliant piece last night on the indisputable fact that "Barack Obama can sell crap," featuring black Republican entrepreneur P. K. Winsome (Tim Meadows) and his amazing Obama collectibles, including a commemorative butter substitute, Obamargarine. Let us know what's for sale in your neighborhood. And let us know how you feel about these weird opportunities to ingest the body of the new president. What is the appropriate wine pairing for a big slice of Obama cake? Is it just us, or did these questions simply not arise in the Eisenhower years?

[Update: Go watch this long, detailed, ABC News report on Obama-bilia. No margarine, but pretty much everything else.]

Meanwhile, here in the reality-based community of Roxie's World, we are slashing prices on our inaugural room and board packages (originally detailed here) on news today that there are still hundreds of hotel rooms available in DC and thousands in the greater Washington area. Plus, we've added babysitting to the list of available services after hearing that swarms of high-powered moms and dads are desperate to dump the little ones somewhere so that they can join in the inaugural gang-bang -- oops! -- festivities. Fine. Here's the deal: We'll charge you five hundred bucks an hour to get your own precious Malias and Sashas and Madisons and Samuels off your hands for the night. Package includes one glass of Cold Duck in an inaugural sippy cup for kids under four, one mixed drink for kids over four if they're willing to learn to make cocktails so that Moose and Goose can get liquored up without ever leaving the couch. Bedtime is 8 p.m., unless Andrea Mitchell says something really annoying earlier in the evening that makes it impossible for Moose to refrain from dropping an F-bomb. Kids who show up wearing "World to Hillary: Save Us!" tee-shirts stay free and don't have to go to bed at all.

Wake me when it's over, boys and girls. This is just nuts, and all I really care about is what will happen to the Bush Countdown widget in my sidebar at high noon on Tuesday when at long last the clock ticks down to zero and the nation is free of the little idiot that never should have been president. Will it explode in a cloud of happy confetti? Will it be instantly replaced by an Obama Countdown to Miracles widget? I'm thinking you all should be right here in Roxie's World at noon on Tuesday so we can share that glorious moment together. After all we've been through, wouldn't that be lovely? Free Cold Duck for everybody. Dog knows we deserve it! Peace out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Companion Species

Watch this, or your tender heart will turn to ice with the next Arctic blast that comes sweeping down the plain:

Watch CBS Videos Online

H/T to the Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World, who knows that queer love makes the world go 'round.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hillary: A Vindication

The Happy Prologue to Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today: A new Gallup poll shows her with an approval rating of 65%, her highest rating in almost ten years.

The Condensed Version of what she had to say in her opening statement and testimony: World effed-up beyond recognition, guys? Don't worry -- We'll fix it, with smart power! (Because it's Hillary, we will restrain the impulse to make a snarky joke about how "smart power" sounds like a new cleaning product, but it does, doesn't it? Transcript of her opening statement is here. ABC's Charlie Gibson and Jonathan Carl discuss Clinton's hearing here. Update: Dana Milbank has a not too snarky account of the lovefest here. Shorter version of Dem sens to HRC: We really, like, totally like you, despite the fact that we endorsed the guy who kinda stole the nom from you. Please don't make our weenies feel any smaller than they already feel. Repubs to HRC: We, like, love everything you've ever done or thought of doing or will ever do at any point in time, and we're completely faking any concern about your husband's fundraising activities because, you know, both of the people in the country who still consider themselves Republicans expect us to. Sorry. Love you -- mean it!)

Shot of the Day? No contest:

Caption as we imagine NY Times chief Clinton hater Maureen Dowd would write it: Mom will bring peace to the world -- and then I can take it over in 2016!

(Photo Credits: Doug Mills, New York Times, here and here.)

Necessary Losses

(Duke's Bridgette Mitchell and Maryland's Lynetta Kizer fight for control of the ball in the first half of their battle at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 1/12/09. Photo Credit: AP [click here, then go to the Photo Gallery].)

Coach B put it best in saying of her team's 68-65 loss last night to the Duke Blue Devils: "We look at this almost like a win. The way that the team fought and battled in the second half makes me very proud of this team."

The moms were proud and impressed with the way the Terps battled back in the second half after a frustrating first half in which Kristi Toliver was held scoreless by brilliant Duke defense. Props to freshman Lynetta Kizer, who fought like a tiger under the basket and did an excellent job of scoring when Toliver couldn't. (Toliver also did a great job of finding Kizer under the basket, but that's to be expected of the World's Greatest Point Guard.)

The Terps were without the services of guard Marah Strickland, who was ill and stayed in College Park. Maryland fans had a moment of panic when senior forward Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman fell to the hardwood and writhed in pain midway through the second half. Moose was prepared to rush to the floor and perform CPR or any other intimate and heroic life-saving gesture, but that turned out not to be necessary, as Coleman had leg cramps and merely need Gatorade and a chance to walk. Still, Shoulders, Moose wants you to know that she stands ready to do anything -- anything -- that might help you to perform at your best.

Down by 11 at the half, the Terps staged a gritty comeback in the second half that was fun to watch even if, in the end, it fell short. Toliver found her offensive groove in the second act and had Duke fans on the edges of their seats in the final minute, as she connected on a 3-pointer with 2.6 left that brought Maryland to within one. Sophomore point guard Jasmine Thomas sank two free throws for Duke that took the lead back to three. Toliver threw up a hail-Mary with less than a second on the clock that bounced off the rim, denying the Terps the chance for a sequel to their thrilling upset of Duke in the semifinals of the 2006 NCAA tournament, when a Toliver 3-pointer with six seconds left sent the game into overtime and set the stage for the young Terps' tournament triumph. Commented Toliver after last night's near miss, "I guess it's too early in the season to break the Dukies' hearts." Kristi, darling, if they had hearts, would they be Dukies? But even if they do, it is never too early to smash them into little pieces and dance upon them with your big, proud Turtle's feet!

In any event, the Blue Devils travel to College Park on Feb. 22, and we sincerely hope that Toliver and company will break their hearts then. In the meantime, we sense the team has found its rhythm and will learn the lessons that a hard-fought loss against a quality team can teach. Kizer played an awesome game but missed four free throws that might have changed the final outcome. The Terps were out-rebounded 56-39 and were particularly weak on the offensive end of the court. They still need to do a better job of figuring out what to do when a defense is smart and strong enough to contain Toliver.

Nonetheless, the season is young, and the moms thoroughly enjoyed their first road trip with the Lady Terps. As for storied Cameron Indoor Stadium, well, let's just say the high school gyms of Moose's basketball-obsessed Hoosier girlhood were every bit as impressive and quite possibly bigger. C'mon, Dukies, would it kill you to join us in the 21st century? And, really, Coach P, can you not diplomatically suggest to the band that "Devil With a Blue Dress On," tempting as it is, is really not the best song to inspire the hard-driving women of your team, who obviously rely on something other than high-heeled shoes and alligator hats to stymie their opponents? We're just sayin'.

Gotta run, kids. Time for this show to hit the highway. Peace out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tobacco Road Trip

Just popping in to say that the moms and I are down in North Carolina for the big smackdown between the 5th (or 10th)-ranked Blue Devils and the 14th (or 15th)-ranked Lady Terps. Yes, kids, it's true -- They'll be venturing into the belly of the basketball beast, Cameron Indoor Stadium, accompanied by two of the Carolina Moosians, mild-mannered former Republicans who violently hate the Blue Devils because of their loyalties to a couple of other institutions of higher ed and basketball in the Tarheel State. Look for the four middle-aged people in red shirts proudly holding the hand-painted signs (Fear the Brenda! Terp Women Rule) so familiar to denizens of the Comcast Center. It's their very first road game, so the moms are of course inordinately excited. Tipoff is at 7:30. Game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Can the Terps pull off a big win in enemy territory? Our beloved seniors, Kristi Toliver and Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman, have had some shaky moments in this young season, as they learn to play with new players, but the team was impressive in its ACC opener against Wake Forest last week. We'll just have to see what Coach B and her Mighty Women have in store for Coach P (as Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is known) and the strong team she has assembled in her second season in Durham. Tune in, kids, and pray the Devils are kind to these travelin' Terps!

Wa Po had a nice pre-game piece this morning on junior forward Dee Liles, who has been a blast to watch this season. Dee says she's been waiting for two years to have a chance at the Blue Devils. Game on, Dee. Let's go, Terps!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Category Crisis

We feel confident that one of these years the good folks over at the Weblog Awards will come up with a category this blog will stand a reasonable chance of winning. You know, something like, Best Pet Blog that Has Almost Nothing to Do With Pets, or Best LGBT Blog that Regularly Rants about Queer Stuff But Often Has Its Mind on Something Else, or Best Humor Blog Subject to Occasional Bouts of Hormonally Induced Depression. We bet we'd do pretty well in the category of Best Sports Blog But Only During College Basketball Season, and Moose thinks we'd have a good shot at Best Education Blog Dedicated to the Proposition that Americans Would Rather Be Stupid than Smart, though competition in that category would likely be stiff. It could be that as soon as the inauguration is over we'll take the prize as Best Progressive Blog that Told You Obama Was a Centrist Weenie Before the Election.

None of those categories exists yet, which perhaps explains why Roxie's World is not a finalist in the 2008 Weblog Awards competition, despite being nominated for the second year in a row by blog pal Jon Swift. Jon put us up last year in the pet blog category and this year in the LGBT category. I'm sure we confused the heck out of the judges both times. They either thought we were a gay dog or a barking lesbian and were probably worried about how we'd behave at the awards banquet. (Note to judges: We are very well-mannered creatures. I am an AKC-registered purebred, and the moms -- well, they're fine if you get 'em liquored up. But not too liquored up, if you know what I mean.)

Anyway, voting for the Weblog Awards is underway, so to show you what good sports we are we're going to urge you to go over there between now and January 12 and show some love for some of our favorite blogs that did make it to the finals. Modest Jon himself is up in the category of Best Humor blog, and we urge you to vote for him because we're hoping a strong showing will get him to post more this year. Jon's far too modest output during the final months of the presidential campaign was a grievous loss to the political process and may well have determined the outcome of the race. John McCain clearly needed a reasonable conservative to stand up and explain the method behind the apparent madness of his campaign and the absolute necessity of voting for a grumpy old man who, as we have said many times, could make a victory speech sound like a prayer for a bowel movement. Modest Jon fell down on the job, and you see what we ended up with -- a young guy who could make a bowel movement sound like a Verdi aria. Seriously, folks, we heart Jon not only because he produces some of the best darn political satire we've ever read, but because he's also a fine citizen of the blogging community. He consistently supports small blogs, such as this one, and his liberal blogroll policy means that everyone is welcome to the party. Don't disappear on us again, Jon -- We need a good guy and a grownup in the room, and you're it!

For Best LGBT blog, since you can't vote for us, go vote for Pam's House Blend, which day in and day out is simply the best there is for thorough, thoughtful coverage of LGBT issues. We've been following Pam and her talented crew of baristas for awhile, but we became true fanatics in the wake of the passage of Prop 8 in California. The Blend's handling of the tumult of feelings unleashed by the triumph of Obama and the defeat of LGBT civil rights was a model of how to manage conflict in the blogosphere, which is generally pretty awful at dealing with strong feelings and deep disagreements. We're also impressed with the Blend's commitment to covering all segments (sexual, racial, and economic) of the LGBT community.

Finally, in the category of Best Liberal blog, ignore the silly battle being waged between Wonkette and the Confluence and cast your vote for Shakesville. We've already told you why.

There are a bunch of other categories and a ton of other blogs nominated, but those are the ones we follow closely enough to lobby for. You can vote every day between now and January 12, so click into the action. Meantime, we are already strategizing for next year. If we can't sell the judges on any of the categories proposed above, we may just nominate ourselves in the Best Hidden Gem category, which is for blogs with a Technorati authority of less than 50. We rather like thinking of ourselves as a hidden gem, at least until such time as the capricious gods of the blogosphere deign to notice us and send us the billions of clicks a day we so clearly deserve. In the meantime, kids, it's just us and you -- but that, rest assured, is more than enough for this old gay dog and her two barking dykes. Peace out.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pink Dachshund

(Photo Credit: Kate Flint, Santa Fe, 1/7/09)

Because it's late, and it's been raining all day long, and the Non-Lady Terps somehow managed to lose their last non-conference game of the season, and Moose is feeling administratively harassed and hormonally unbalanced and professionally . . . ambivalent, we pass along this image from a good friend and devoted reader who has launched an ambitious Image a Day project on Facebook.

Because some days, a girl just needs a little eye candy, and a pink dachshund in a Santa Fe store that doesn't even have a name is exquisite eye candy if the light is right and the photographer knows what she's doing. And you do, Kate, you totally do. Get a blog, and we'll send you our legions of loyal fans. Or, become the official photographer of Roxie's World. We'll get you a corner office in the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC -- Your own darkroom and everything!

Peace out, kids. Here's hoping the sun comes out tomorrow. My typist is feeling soggy in her soul, and John (our sole surviving koi) is treading the fine line between hibernation and death out in the pond in our ridiculously large back yard. Send us good news, pretty pictures, and upbeat tunes to get us through the chilly days of winter. Love you, need you -- Mean it!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

(Click on image to embiggen.)

We write to you on the precipice of the Obama Era to offer our thanks and to make a modest suggestion. We wish to commend you on yesterday's strip, which we've reprinted above (without any links to the original source because this humble dog blog lives in fear of detection by the copyright police for our audacious yet never for profit image appropriations). The funny girls of Roxie's World are gravely concerned about the future of political humor in the brave new world that is about to be born. We think that humor is essential to the health of the body politic, particularly in a democracy, where leaders are supposed to be of the people, not above them. Humor, particularly of the irreverent variety, is a necessary check on the arrogance of power. It is the people's way of saying to its leaders, "You are not the boss of me." Humor is a powerful means of holding leaders accountable for their words and their actions and for pointing out the often large gaps between the two. Mission Accomplished? Yeah, right, dude. All leaders are mortal and therefore all leaders are deserving of a good skewering every once in awhile. He -- or, far less likely, she -- who is deemed beyond such skewering is walled off from forms of engagement and critique that are vital to the operations of democracy.

That's why we have been worried about the great humor deficit that has been apparent in the coverage of our soon-to-be president, Barack Obama. We've written on this subject before, and the situation doesn't seem to be improving as we approach that spine-tingling moment when a black guy puts his hand upon a bible and swears to preserve, protect, and defend a constitution that once would have allowed him to be auctioned off right here in the nation's capital. We realize that We, the People are a little bit in awe over what we have done in electing our first African-American president. We appreciate, too, that there is a certain trepidation among the nation's legions of mostly white comedians about making jokes across racial lines. Such jokes can easily go awry, even when they are not, as in this example, obviously and egregiously racist. (For more on "Barack the Magic Negro," go here.) And yet, Mr. Trudeau, our funny bones long to be tickled. We worry that in the moments of national crisis that are bound to occur on Obama's watch, comedians will be reluctant to embrace their solemn duty to help us laugh ourselves silly. Will anyone be brave enough to come up with anything even remotely as funny as the pants-wetting sketches SNL did during Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998? (Need a reminder and the biggest laugh of this still young year? Go watch Molly Shannon as Monica Lewinsky addressing Congress at the height of the frenzy. After you've gone to the bathroom.)

All of this is to say that we were relieved and encouraged to see your strip yesterday because we think you have opened up a potentially rich vein of comedy in the landscape of Obamerica. In eight simple panels, you deftly dissect the moral earnestness of the Obamaniac -- still decked out in his Ob-noxious campaign gear even as he prepares for the ostensibly less partisan work of governance and still suffering from a severe case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. We think it's a good and deserved skewering that is even-handed in its (fairly gentle) mockery. Surely even the most devoted Obamaniac can chuckle a bit at the dweeby facilitator with his binder full of corporate buzzwords and his mindless anti-Clintonism being stopped dead in his tracks by the Clinton whose unstinting support of the man who barely beat her in the Democratic primary race helped put him into the White House. And surely even a still-growling PUMA would purr at the reference to the (still) Biggest Dawg in American politics, the blue-eyed rapscallion we can't seem to live with or without. Of course he's late. Of course we'll wait. We love him. We hate him. We can't wait to see him. Brilliant, Mr. Trudeau. Thanks for reminding us that the joke is always on us. And thanks for giving Hillary the punchline. The funny girls around here were particularly pleased about that.

We said we had a suggestion for you, too. We know you haven't decided yet on what -- if any -- icon you will use to represent President Obama. It'll be tough to come up with something as metonymically marvelous as the waffle you used for Bill Clinton or the helmet you settled on for Shrub, but we think we've come up with a good possibility. We think you should image the new president as a pair of chiseled pectorals glinting in the sun. Oh, we know the etiquette police might write you up for seeming to reduce the black guy to a physical attribute rather than a mental one, though it was hardly a compliment to Shrub to be depicted as a reflexively martial nit-wit and no one complained about that. Whatever the risks, this icon would convey a number of important messages. First, it would remind the media that its love affair with Obama not infrequently results in "news" reporting that sounds like a script for a soft-core porn flick. (Doubt us? Go click on that last link. The phrase "chiseled pectorals" appeared on the front page of Wa Po in a story on the new president's commitment to fitness. On Christmas morning. Just in case you thought the Obama = Messiah meme had run out of steam.) Second, it would foreground the fact that, for all the vaunted coolness of No Drama Obama, the nation's forty-fourth president is going to be, like, a total hottie. I'm not sure we've ever had that in a president, though that's hard to say, given the shifting and highly subjective character of hotness. Kennedy and Clinton were both charismatic and sexy, but Obama exudes a sense of physical grace and comfort in his body that is remarkable and an important part of his powerful allure. I want to compare him to Fred Astaire, but, if I did, Goose, who strongly dissents from this line of analysis, would grouse that Fred Astaire was no hottie and, besides, as Ann Richards pointed out, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels. Well, yes, but we still think the chiseled pectorals would be a rich and hilarious means of signifying the new president.

In any case, Mr. Trudeau, we hope you will give our suggestion your most serious consideration as you sharpen your pencils for the Age of Obama. Please remind our fellow citizens that no man is above a good joke -- and no nation can survive without one. Thanks for all you do, and a very happy new year to you and yours.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Going Coastal

The Sun Sets on 2008 . . .

. . . And Rises on 2009

(Photo Credit: Moose, evening, 12/31/08 and morning, 1/1/09)

The moms are ringing in the New Year at a funky, wonderful inn on the beautiful Sonoma Coast. They spent last night feasting like queens and dancing in "2009" masks and a glorious afternoon today strolling along the beach at Gualala Point talking about their hopes and dreams for the coming year. Resolutions? Yoga, writing, and pushing the Obama administration to the left.

How about you, my legions of loyal fans? What's on your hearts and minds as a new year dawns? Your friends at Roxie's World send warm wishes and virtual face licks your way. May peace, health, and dog's love be with you in 2009.