Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stayin' Alive

The sun is shining, we stand (or, in my case, sit) on the precipice of June -- and America's favorite dog blogger devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball is, emphatically,

not dead yet!

So crank up the volume, and put on your white suits, kids. Disco down with us for the song of the day in Roxie's World:

Am I experiencing a miraculous recovery or a momentary reprieve? Haven't a clue, and Dr. House is not in the house to investigate my extraordinary case. Here's what the doctors of philosophy of Roxie's World can tell you based on their observations.

Up to Monday (Memorial Day), I was taking the following medications, as prescribed by my primary vet and my sweet-as-pie Portuguese cardiologist, who I saw for my annual check-up two weeks ago Tuesday:
  • Proin (for urinary incontinence)
  • Enalapril (an ACE inhibitor, used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure)
  • Pimobendan (used to manage heart failure secondary to mitral valve prolapse in dogs)
  • Tramadol (an analgesic, used to treat severe pain)
  • Metacam (an NSAID, used to relieve symptoms of arthritis)
  • Pepcid (used to treat peptic ulcer disease, perhaps caused by prolonged use of an NSAID)
As of Monday, when I resolutely refused to take any of my meds, despite Goose's repeated attempts to get me to swallow previously irresistible wads of pills wrapped in liverwurst, I have been taking:
  • Nothing
  • Nada
  • Bupkis
  • Nuttin', honey
  • Diddly squat
  • Jack s_it
  • Zilch
On Tuesday, you may recall, my primary vet took a blood test and declared me to be in liver failure. She predicted I would be dead in two weeks without treatment. Since that time, the moms have declared our house a Hospice for Dogs (H/T: the Shy One), with Moose making a series of snide remarks about the pharmaceutical industry, high-end veterinary care, and the virtues of Christian Science, except for, you know, the whole Christian part.

Meantime, here on the floor, I am comfortable and content. My back legs still aren't working, though I have made valiant efforts in the past couple of days to stand. I eat, drink, and potty, with varying degrees of assistance. My coat is soft and smooth again, though earlier this week it was stiff and dry. New daily rituals of hot compresses and artificial tears have alleviated the icky crusting around my eyes that had briefly left me functionally blind. Moose has gotten all poetic about my patience during these tender ministrations, telling a friend that I sit in complete stillness, like some grateful, canine Buddha, even as she takes the flea comb to dislodge the schmutz that has gotten stuck in my eyelashes.

For once, Moose's metaphor may not be wide of the mark. There is a bit of the Buddha in this old dog as I make my way through however much time I have left in this body, this state of being. On Wednesday, I told you I was dying. Today, I would like to rephrase that. Let us say instead that,

I am living -- for how long, who knows, but what mortal creature knows the answer to that question, my philosophical friends?

The mood here in Roxie's World has shifted from sorrow to gratitude, the mode from vigil to celebration. Every moment now feels like an unexpected gift, which is arguably how all of our moments should always feel, but even a dog can struggle to sustain an absolute commitment to being in the present. For you hyper-active, hugely self-important humans, such a commitment is even harder to maintain, and so you add yoga and meditation to your to-do lists.

Go outside and play, little Buddhas. Hold your face up to the sun and bask in its warmth. Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'. Feel the deep rhythms of your own and everyone else's stayin' alive. Our good friend Julie has a beautiful piece up today, addressed to yours truly and aimed at helping me make the best of heaven when I get there. It's full of excellent advice (e.g., "Look for the Jew part of heaven. You'll know you're there because everyone will say, I don't really believe in any of this, but you look swell, Sol.") and good suggestions on who I should hang out with. (Gert, Alice, and Virginia were already on my list, Jules, but I would also like to add Galileo and Gilda Radner to your suggestions. Plus maybe Abe Lincoln and a couple of musicians. How 'bout Mozart and John Lennon?) We are extremely grateful to Julie for her thoughtful consideration of how I should negotiate my next phase, but I am sure she won't mind if we say that for now, for this moment and perhaps the next few, the consensus in Roxie's World is -- you guessed it -- that heaven can wait. We've still got some livin' to do.

Peace out, beloveds, and thanks for holding us in the light.

Friday, May 29, 2009

All Gay, All the Time

Poor Richard Cohen thinks the world is too much with him because he is finding it impossible to avoid problematic (to him) women -- such as Elizabeth Edwards and Nadya Suleman, the woman obscenely re-christened by the media as "the Octomom" -- whose faces and stories he encounters on every screen.

Cry me a river, Richard, and spare us the public misogyny. Think of me, a frail old dog edging her way toward that great kennel in the sky, trying gently to disengage from the human drama that has absorbed so much of my attention these past few years. Suddenly, the world finding its way onto my typist's screen has become a 24/7 Totally Gay News Channel, and we can't turn it off -- especially when loyal readers implore us in comments to weigh in on such mind-boggling breaking stories as the news that Ted Olson and David Boies, the attorneys who were on opposite sides of the lawsuit that handed the presidency to an idiot lately returned to his village in Texas, have joined forces in a federal suit aimed at overturning California's Prop 8, which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state and was upheld this week by the California Supreme Court. Wow, talk about an odd couple. Strange bedfellows, as it were. Queerest pairing since, like, Chillingworth and Dimmesdale, don't you think?

Julie wants to know what we think, having noticed, careful reader that she is, that we avoided the ginormous story of the Olson/Boies suit in last night's post. The first reaction here in the infirmary was something along the lines of, "I may be dying, but this old dog's nose still works pretty good -- and methinks I smell a rat." Moose agreed and said she thought Boies, who got his lawyerly butt kicked in Bush v. Gore, was being played by Olson. She speculated that Olson had signed on to what seemed like a premature move in an effort to get the Supreme Court of the United States to make a ruling on same-sex marriage before Obama had a chance to alter the balance of the court. Even Goose, the official conspiracy theorist of Roxie's World, was impressed with that bit of tinfoil-hattism.

On further reflection and after taking a look at Olson and Boies' Wednesday appearance on Larry King Live, we are a little less inclined to doubt Olson's sincerity, since, philosophically, the true Republican position (as opposed to the wingnut position currently dominating the GOP) would seem to favor maximizing individual liberty and encouraging stable, familial relationships, which same-sex marriage obviously does (as long as you overlook the monstrous instability and dysfunction of many marital relationships -- wevs). Andrew Sullivan, for one, is encouraged by the language Olson uses to explain his support for the cause and the case, particularly his insistence that marriage is a basic civil right and not a liberal or a conservative issue. Olson says early in the interview that his position on the question of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples is a matter of "human rights, human decency, and equality under the law."

Many organizations advocating marriage equality were quick to question the wisdom of a federal court case on the issue, arguing instead that the state-by-state strategy currently being pursued should be given more time to change state laws and public opinion before SCOTUS steps in, as it did in 1967, to settle the question of interracial marriage. (Pam's got links to the orgs and her take on this matter here.) Yale law professor William Eskridge and attorney Darren Spedale, who have written a book called Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? What We've Learned From the Evidence, take a similar position, arguing in Salon that "the state-by-state experiment with gay marriage" should proceed until it is the rule rather than the exception, thus increasing the likelihood of a favorable ruling by the high court.

Our position? We tend to be impatient rather than patient when it comes to matters of justice, but in this case we have to confess the idea of SCOTUS ruling on a case of this nature sooner rather than later makes us nervous. We have long found ourselves, to our considerable surprise, agreeing with Justice Antonin Scalia, who, in his hysterical dissent from the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, thunders that that ruling paves the judicial way for same-sex marriage in the U. S. by "dismantl[ing] the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned." (He deplores that dismantling. We give it a hearty PAWS UP!) Nonetheless, we aren't confident that a majority of the court would be prepared to follow the logic of Lawrence to its conclusion by judicially imposing marriage equality when so few states have done it and opinion is still so divided.

To assure success on a high-stakes legal bid that we can't afford to lose, we need to pick the legal battles carefully and wage the political battles more effectively than we have done so far. No more debacles along the lines of what we had with Prop 8. Not another dime to advocacy organizations who are afraid to be loud, proud, and clear about what they are supposedly fighting for. Oh, and we need one more thing: Fierce advocacy and brave, visionary leadership from the guy who was elected with the strongest level of LGBT support by any presidential candidate in history. That's right, Mr. President. The buck stops with you. Get on the right side of history -- or don't count on queers to get you through the re-elect.

Thus endeth today's impersonation of a lawyer and a political strategist. Can I get back to my dying now? Here's the vid of Olson and Boies on Larry. Even if we've taken off our tinfoil hats, we say keep a close eye on Olson and trust but verify everything. Let us know what you think.

P.S. Other gay news bits of the day: Wa Po has an interesting story today on how supporters of marriage equality are planning to use the strong involvement of Mormons in funding and organizing on behalf of Prop 8 in order to gain support for the pro-SSM cause in other states. Yeah, kinda creepy to exploit the fact that sizable numbers of Americans hate Mormons more than they hate queers, but, hey, that's politics for ya. Also, the Lambda Literary Awards for 2009 were announced last night in New York. Roxie's World is pleased to single out two of the awardees for a special PAWS UP: Mark Doty, co-winner in the gay poetry category for his book Fire to Fire, and Regina Kunzel, who won the LGBT Studies category for her Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern American Sexuality. We tout Doty because he's one of our favorite poets, and he wrote a beautiful memoir on dog love and loss that we adore but cannot bear to look at right now. We tout Kunzel because the moms read Criminal Intimacy in their queer studies group and found it to be riveting -- a history book that even a literary critic could love. That is high praise, believe me, and a plug -- Go buy the book will ya, while I go back to my dying?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Dead Yet

(Engraving of Florence Nightingale with an injured collie. Source: Maude E. Abbott, Florence Nightingale as seen in her portraits. With a sketch of her life, and an account of her relations to the origin of the Red Cross Society [1916], via Wikimedia Commons.)

The sensitive kids in the Office of Affect Management felt (not thought) that decency required a day of silence here in Roxie's World after yesterday's somber announcement that America's favorite dog blogger devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball is dying, but their sensitivities were overridden by reports from Clicks and Eyeballs that y'all are burning up the internets in your feverish desire for updates on my condition. We encourage you to click over or scroll down to that heart-breaking post and add your warm expressions of devotion and concern to the scads of tributes that have already been left in comments, and we sincerely thank those among you who have already done so, here or elsewhere. Still, if it's a choice between good taste and vox populi, you know which way the wind is going to blow in Roxie's World, so I am back at it today to let you know, officially and with considerable if only momentary relief, that

I am not dead yet!

Feel better? Yeah, me, too. I'm doing pretty well, actually -- mostly resting, still taking food by hand, even (warning: skip this part if you are not as fascinated by scatological information as we are) pooping a little this afternoon. Goose, on the other hand, is flat on her back, down with a nasty flu-ish thing that has pushed her temp to 102. Which means, of course, that for the time being the part of Florence Nightingale is being played by Moose, who is doing her very best to remember which one of us gets the TheraFlu and which one of us needs to have her back legs propped up when going to the bathroom. Highlight of the day? It's happening right now, peeps. I am on the couch beside Goose and just gave her face a thorough licking as Moose sits typing in her chair. And so it goes in Roxie's World.

Meanwhile, outside our charmed circle of love and infirmity, the larger world spins on its axis, and though I don't have the time or energy for a proper post right now, I can't help noting that the nation's self-proclaimed Fierce Advocate for LGBT rights is starting to take some serious heat for having discovered the Fierce Urgency of Procrastination, Evasion, and Obfuscation when it comes to the most burning civil rights issue of our time. Since the California Supreme Court upheld the voter-approved initiative banning same-sex marriage on Tuesday, President Obama has gone into the state to raise a truckload of money -- $4 million -- for the Democratic National Committee and seemed to make light of protesters who had gathered outside the Beverly Hilton to express their disappointment with administration's record so far on gay rights. Here's how the NYT Caucus Blog reported the incident:

A gaggle of sign-waving protesters milled around outside The Beverly Hilton, the sprawling hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. They must have caught the president’s eye when he arrived at the hotel from an earlier stop in Las Vegas because he relayed one of their messages to the crowd.

“One of them said, 'Obama keep your promise,’ ” the president said. “I thought that’s fair. I don’t know which promise he was talking about.”

The people in the audience – who paid $30,400 per couple to attend – laughed as they ate a dinner of roasted tenderloin, grilled organic chicken and sun choke rosemary mashed potatoes.
Petulant over at Shakesville has an angry retort to the president's callow joke that is aptly titled "Fierce Advocate, My Gay Ass." Towleroad jogs the president's memory by helpfully reminding him, "Which promise? How about starting with the repeal of DOMA, the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', a federal hate crimes law, and above all, the promise to be a 'fierce advocate' for all the LGBT people who voted him into office?" Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean has "An Open Letter to Barack Obama" up on The Advocate Web site that calls on the president to offer deeds that match the strong words he offered in support of LGBT rights as a candidate. "We not only need to hear from our President," Jean writes, "we need his action. And we need it now." Pam's House Blend is doing its usual righteous and thorough job of documenting the disappointments Obama has offered so far in this particular arena. For a couple of recent examples, click here and here.

Enough with the indignation, kids. Let's close out with a song that reminds us that, no matter how hard life gets, the right wing will always supply us with ample fodder for the wit machine. Today's lesson in Hysterically Funny Bad Analogies is brought to us by a FB pal. Go curl up next to your rubber duckie, and sing along. Thanks again for all the love. Hang in there with us. You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sweetness and the Sorrow

We have had forbidden conversation; we have had oral intercourse; we are bound in telling story upon story with nothing but the facts. We are training each other in acts of communication we barely understand. We are, constitutively, companion species. We make each other up, in the flesh. Significantly other to each other, in specific difference, we signify in the flesh a nasty developmental infection called love.

-- Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness
The Sweetness

My typist awoke in the middle of a dream this morning. It was a remarkably happy dream, especially when you consider the aching sadness in which she had managed to fall asleep the night before. In the dream, the moms were having a party, a big, raucous, decadent gathering like dozens they have hosted over the years in the re-built home they jokingly refer to as “the palace.” Friends were jammed into the great room, milling around the peninsula in the kitchen over drinks and noshes. The mood was festive, even a little giddy. Suddenly, to the moms’ evident surprise, a couple of the guests commanded the group’s attention for a moment of ceremony. They stood up, each with a bag in hand, and started making speeches that were some kind of tribute to the moms. They opened their bags and began presenting the moms with small gifts. One of the gifts to Moose was a bottle of shampoo called “Feelings.” Moose laughingly accepted the gift, though she insisted she did not use that brand of shampoo. She woke up at that point. In sleep, her hand had reached up to her cheek. She could feel the broad smile on her face as she awakened. Even in unconsciousness, you see, she is prone to moments of severe literalness, but the dream helped to calm her. It was her mind’s way of taking in the incredible outpouring of love and concern that transpired yesterday through e-mails, Facebook, and a series of phone calls.

The Sorrow

There is no pretty way to say this, so I will just say it plain, because I know you care deeply about me and expect the complete, unvarnished truth:

I am dying, beloveds.

Yes, it’s true. The embodied Roxie, the old dog with the leaky heart, is knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door. Assuming there is a heaven and dogs go to it, that is. I will let you know. Soon, perhaps.

I will spare you the unpleasant details and say only that my liver is failing, not my leaky heart, though that is not in great shape either. The moms brought me home from the vet’s last night to weigh the options, but without a lot of hemming and hawing we have quietly decided to let nature take its course. I have been resting comfortably since we got home, taking bits of food and water when they are brought to me, but unable to walk or do any of the other things that make me me, with the notable exception of blogging, of course. Some things never die.

That is something you need to keep in mind as we make our way through the next uncertain steps of our journey together. The vet says the embodied me probably only has a couple of weeks left without treatment. I will starve to death, she says, which is not nearly as awful as it might sound. Moose’s beloved father, known here and elsewhere as Frig, essentially starved to death in 1991 when colon cancer metastasized throughout his abdomen and blocked his bowel. Moose was a witness to his dying and has always insisted that, aside from the perfectly crappy fact of its happening at age 60, it was not a bad way to go. So far, I am inclined to agree with her.

And so, having been a part of my living over the past three years, you – whoever you are, wherever you are, out there in what I recently described as the aching, overflowing void of cyberspace – are now to be a part of my dying. Lucky you, right? But maybe it won't be so bad. Perhaps heaven won’t turn out to be so very different from cyberspace, and you and I will just keep making each other up, as we have been doing all along. Perhaps we’ll discover together the deep truths of the dream my Aunt Katie reported a few weeks ago, in which she generously imagined this blog as a crossing of knowledge worlds and of the worlds between the living and the dead. I assure you Moose and Mark Twain are already consulting behind the scenes on the problems of persona management that are likely to arise from my slipping of this mortal coil, but you know those crafty devils will figure out how to handle them. I foresee a series of long meetings, perhaps over lunches at Ishmael’s, the seedy yet cozy bar around the corner from the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, where the two of them will thrash out strategies aimed at persuading you to believe that old dog bloggers never die -- They just have longer telecommutes. It’ll be funny, I promise! And there’ll be buffalo wings and fried mozzarella sticks for everybody! It’s pretty to think so, isn’t it?

It’s more than pretty, kids. It is essential. Yes, there is sorrow in Roxie’s World, but even in the midst of sorrow we feel the sweetness that surrounds us – the sweetness of the many joys we (Moose, Goose, Roxie, and all the embodied others of our actual world) have shared over the 15 years of my earthly life and the equally profound sweetness of the virtual world we have brought into being and shared with all of you since March of 2006. Remember that this quirky little corner of the blogosphere was born out of the uncertainty of my original diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse. My damaged heart set this deeply serious silliness into motion and has seen us all through more than three years of love, laughter, and the rich webs of connection that have been enabled by the extraordinary convergence of technology, imagination, and my typist’s midlife career restlessness. Whatever may be lost over the course of the next few weeks, don’t lose sight of the fact that we made exquisite and often entertaining use of the time we had to borrow.

Stay close, dear friends, and hold the denizens of Roxie’s World deep within the mighty hearts that beat in your own dear mortal bodies. As I have said before, without you, I’m just an old dog with two crazy moms and a laptop. With you, I’ve got a whole world in my paws. And right now, I feel the need of that whole world most acutely.

We’ll sign off for now with the sentimental song that inspired this post, because sorrow brings out my typist’s inner show queen and we don’t mind indulging her today. This one goes out to all my candy men and all the dykes with dogs and anyone, really, who ever had the guts to believe that love is never gone. It isn’t, darlings. I swear to you, it isn’t. Belt it out in your biggest Broadway voice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CA Supremes Say YES to H8

And NO to Forcible Divorces of 18,000 Same-Sex Couples Who Legally Wed During Brief Window of Opportunity, According to the Department of No, Really, That Glass IS Half Full

NYT report, with a link to the opinion, is here.

Pam's House Blend
has put up a "link farm" of reactions from LGBT and allied organizations. It's here, and growing.

Mad as hell and ready to hit the streets? Day of Decision will tell you where to go. List of protests throughout the country is here. Wear comfortable shoes, and remember that the appropriate target of your wrath should be neither the court nor, really, even the voters of California but the well-funded right-wing coalition that got Prop 8 on the ballot in the first place. Like who, you say? Like these guys.

Scratching your head, trying to figure out what to think? Richard Kim has a good, quick reaction up on his blog over at The Nation. Kim suggests we pause for a cleansing and reflective breath before jumping into a whole new initiative battle aimed at overturning Prop 8 in 2010. He points out that California's robust domestic partnership law gives couples all the substantive state-controlled rights and protections of marriage and that energies and resources might be more effectively used to gain "better and more inclusive movement goals than an uphill initiative that would give same-sex couples the M-word in one state only." Point taken.

Longing to know what the official reaction of Roxie's World is? Short version: Furious but not surprised. The ruling had been widely predicted. We can't imagine why such a pretty state as California enjoys wasting so much time and money on the circus of the initiative process, and we wish to heck someone in a position of power would stand up and say it is obscene to subject the civil rights of a minority group to popular votes, but we are not holding our breath waiting for President Obama to wake up and lead on this issue. Equivocation, hesitation, and evasion seem to be his plan on all things LGBT right now. Long version? You'll have to wait for that, kids. Your favorite dog blogger is having a bit of a health emergency today, and the moms will be taking me up to the vet soon. Thanks to everybody who's been sending me good thoughts and healing vibes on FB all day. You're the best darn virtual pack an aging girl and her moms could have. We'll let you know how things go at the doc's.

Meantime, here's a little ditty we'd like to send out from one set of Supremes to the other. If only the ones in the black robes had listened to the ones in the slinky white dresses . . . .

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big Gay Holiday News Roundup

Hoping for Change Edition

Gay Number of the Day:

Cranky Old Gay Dude Standing on the Front Porch Shaking His Fist at Neighborhood Kids While Declaiming Long, Incoherent Passages from The Big Book of Transhistorical Gayness: Larry Kramer (again). (H/T: qta.)

Cute Young Gay Dude Steps Aside as Mayor of Gayest Town on Earth -- Goose's Home Town of San Angelo, Texas! -- Because Discriminatory Policies on Marriage and Immigration Force Him to Choose Between Love for his Mexican Boyfriend and the $600 a Year He Earned as Mayor: J. W. Lown. (H/T: Geoffrey.) Yes, Goose has local sources deep in the heart of San Angelo investigating this heartwarming yet somewhat baffling story. We will update you the moment we hear anything!

Middle-Aged Gay Dude Who Believed the Silver-Tongued Black Guy with the Nice Pecs Would Usher in a Big Queer Era of Harmony, Equality, and Elegance and Now Faces the Threat of Separation from His American Boyfriend Because of Discriminatory Policies on Marriage and Immigration that Obama Is Clearly in No Hurry to Change: Andrew Sullivan. Oh, how it hurts when the big gay scales fall from the eyes, eh, Andrew?

Further Proof that Being For Same-Sex Marriage Is Much Funnier than Being Against It:

Roxie's World wishes you and yours an early happy Memorial Day. May the skies in your part of the world be clear and the steaks be sizzling. (Apologies to our vegetarian readers. May the tofu be . . . as steak-like as it is possible for tofu to be.) Congratulations to all the grads out there who are celebrating the beginning of the next stage of their lives, especially all the wonderful kids from QTU who became fully certified queers yesterday at Lavender Graduation. PAWS UP and a thousand face licks to you as head out to face, embrace, and change the world armed with your big gay degrees and your awesome, beautiful hearts. Dogspeed to each and all.

Peace out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boss Rocks DC

Rockin' good shot of Bruce Springsteen (and Nils Lofgren) Monday night at the Venue Formerly Known as the MCI Center, Washington, DC:

(Photo Credit: Linda Davidson, Washington Post)

Totally crappy shot of Bruce and the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, that effectively exposes the limits of the iPhone as a camera but at least proves that the Moms were in the House:

(Photo Credit: Dancing Moose, with iPhone)

The summer revival season got underway Monday evening for the aging rockers of Roxie's World, as the faithful gathered under the big tent of the Verizon Center for three hours of movin', shakin', and mystery-ride takin' with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. (Okay, technically, Goose got a head start on the season by running up to Philly on a school night a few weeks back to catch one of the Boss's two Farewell to the Spectrum performances. She has always been a slightly more fanatical worshiper than Moose is. Plus, she copes better with sleep deprivation.)

Here is Monday night's setlist (courtesy of Backstreets):
No Surrender
Outlaw Pete
She's the One
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Raise Your Hand
Out in the Street
Little Latin Lupe Lu
Hava Nagila/Blinded By the Light
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The Wrestler
Kingdom of Days
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
* * *
Hard Times
Kitty's Back
Land of Hope and Dreams
American Land
Here is J. Freedom du Lac's mostly spot-on Wa Po review of the show. Paws up to this 'graph in particular:
At 59, Springsteen remains one of the most potent live performers in popular music, largely because he's among its most committed practitioners. He drains every bit of his creative energy whenever he's onstage -- all in the service of proselytizing the power of rock-and-roll, in which his faith is unwavering.
Here is Mary Ann Akers' snarky backstage report on all the Obama insiders who were at the show, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. (The moms knew some big muckety mucks were around when they spotted a couple of obvious Secret Service dorks seated uncomfortably by the door of Jaleo, where they did their pre-concert tapas-loading. Oh, and they stepped into the First Church of Springsteen right behind North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, who was all by himself and looked, um, extremely senatorial as he made his way into the sanctuary. [Yes, you know you've been observing the DC political scene a little too closely when you recogize the senators from obscure states you have never visited when you bump into them in public.])

Our thoughts on the show?

Paws up to the interactive new schtick in which the Boss takes audience requests from people holding up signs in the first few rows. It's goofy, but it works. And who ever thought we'd hear Bruce and company crank up "Hava Nagila?"

Paws up to whoever figured out that Jumbotrons can do more than let the folks in the cheap seats have some vague sense of what the tiny little dots on stage are doing. We don't know how other artists are using them, but with Springsteen you get televisuals that feel as tight and polished as a concert video. It's a smart way to appeal to 21st-century eyeballs. It also gives audiences a chance to judge such things as the on-stage intimacy between Mr. and Mrs. Springsteen, as the couple weathers the storm of his having been named as a party to adultery in a New Jersey divorce case. (All right, we will gratify your prurient curiosity: From where the moms sat, it appeared that Patti Scialfa spent a lot of stage time with Steve Van Zandt, cozying up to her hubby of 17 years only for their duet on "Kingdom of Days." They detected a slight chill in the marital air, but, hey, the original red-headed woman is still the one who gets to strut her stuff with the boys in the band.)

Paws down to the turn toward pop Bruce has taken in recent years. It pains us to report this, but the moms now openly mock songs like "Working on a Dream" and "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" when the band starts to play them. They do this by pretending to skate right there in the stands, because the schmaltzy melodies and rhythms of these songs remind them of the roller rinks of their misspent youths, even though, technically, Moose probably only went to a roller rink twice in her life. Please, Bruce, you were born to rock and roll. It's a little late to start chewing bubble gum. We also continue to think you need a serious infusion of inspiration when it comes to your lyrics. The creative division of Roxie's World is going to demand that you stop writing songs if you tarnish your legacy by continuing to produce embarrassments along the lines of "Outlaw Pete." Can we hear you? Uh, yeah, but sometimes we'd rather not.

On the other hand, we'll end with an enthusiastic paws up for the durability and the glory of the masterworks of the Springsteen canon, those songs that, no matter how many times we hear them and share in the magic of their public performances, move us, amaze us, and take us outside of ourselves to a space of collective dreaming and desiring and world re-making. We'll forgive you "The Rising," which feels forced and derivative, as long as you keep "The Promised Land" in the setlist and treat us to an occasional "Rosalita." Give us your best poetry, Boss, and we shall endeavor to endure your pop. I guess that's what you once memorably referred to as "the price you pay." We'll pay it, gladly, for all the righteous good fun we've had thundering down the road with you over the years. You keep strumming, and we'll keep coming. That's a promise that won't ever get broken.

Monday, May 18, 2009

MoDo Must Go!

From the New York Times Web site:
May 17, 2009

NY Times Columnist Admits Using Blogger's Words


Filed at 11:38 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has admitted to using a paragraph virtually word-for-word from a prominent liberal blogger without attribution. Dowd acknowledged the error in an e-mail to The Huffington Post on Sunday, the Web site reported. The Times corrected her column online to give proper credit for the material to Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall. The newspaper is expected to issue a formal correction Monday.

The error appeared in Dowd's Sunday column, in which she criticized the Bush administration's use of interrogation methods in the run-up to the Iraq war. In the original column, Dowd wrote: ''More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.'' Marshall last week wrote virtually the same sentence. But where Dowd's column used the phrase ''the Bush crowd was,'' Marshall used ''we were.'' Dowd, who won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1990, told The Huffington Post that the mistake was unintentional. She claims she never read Marshall's post last week and had heard the line from a friend who did not mention reading it in Marshall's blog.

A spokeswoman for the Times late Sunday referred requests for comment from The Associated Press to remarks Dowd made to The Huffington Post. In the updated version on the Times' site, Dowd's column had this note: ''An earlier version of this column failed to attribute a paragraph about the timeline for prisoner abuse to Josh Marshall's blog at Talking Points Memo.''
Note to Newspaper Industry from Blogosphere: Riddle me this: Who's the parasite and who's the host? And what's that you were saying about print journalism saving the republic from an army of pajama-clad, laptop-wielding nincompoops?

Note to NYT Op-Ed Page: My typist has some time off coming up. I'd be happy to rent her out to you a couple of mornings a week. Really. Impeccable research skills. Decades spent learning the difference between her words and other people's. Extremely limited capacity for projecting her twisted fantasies onto other people. Or dogs. Really. Read this blog. You'll see.

Note to MoDo: You might think about taking off for the Hamptons early this year. And never coming back. Have a sandwich. Or three. Have a drink. Before breakfast. And if you are going to let casual chats with friends substitute for reporting and research (you know, that stuff some of your more old-school colleagues refer to as work), then you might at least consider taking the occasional note and maybe asking a question every now and again -- Nothing rude or challenging, mind you, but perhaps something along the lines of, "Fascinating -- Where did you happen to read that/see that/hear that?" It might save you some trouble and your employer some embarrassment in the long run. Just sayin'.

(Image Credit: Dallas Observer)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Makes Us Happy?

(Photo Credit: Most likely the Mother of the Goosians, San Angelo, TX, 5/14/58)

What Makes Us Happy? Well, among other things, Goose does, and today is her birthday, so we celebrate her and the happiness she brings us with one of our very favorite photographs ever taken of our bright-eyed party girl. You will notice that Goose and her cousin Jeff, to her left, are both wearing fireman's hats. Theme parties are the best parties of all, of course, but the incendiary theme of Goose's fifth birthday party has an extra bit of sizzle if you understand that it was sparked by an unfortunate incident in which Goose and her cousin Tommy (the blond boy on the far left of the photo) had set the living room on fire while playing an overly realistic game of cowboys. What Makes Us Happy? Well, among other things, that Goose's mom was good-humored enough to take that scary moment of family history and turn it into a way of celebrating the spunk of her fiery-headed youngest child. The Mother of the Goosians is now on the brink of ninety, and we think her deep reservoirs of resilience and forbearance help to explain why she remains a spry and generally happy person, despite having lost her husband and her sight within the last ten years.

Go read that article by Joshua Wolf Shenk in The Atlantic that we keep linking to. Shenk looks at the archives of an extraordinary longitudinal (72 year) study of 268 Harvard men who were judged to be healthy and well-adjusted during their college years. Shenk also talks to the study's longtime director, George Vaillant. It's an engrossing read that delves into themes of aging and the mysteries of happiness that are of interest to all of the cranky old broads (and a lot of the pretty young men) of Roxie's World. Here is a quote worth pondering as you lurch forward on your own life's journey:
“It is social aptitude,” [Vaillant] writes, “not intellectual brilliance or parental social class, that leads to successful aging.” Warm connections are necessary -- and if not found in a mother or father, they can come from siblings, uncles, friends, mentors. . . . In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
If Vaillant is correct, then we predict a long, happy life for the most affable girl in Roxie's World. Party on, Goose.

Every party needs a song -- or two! -- so here's a vid that gives you two songs in one by two glorious divas singing their troubles away. (Question: Did you know there was ever a Judy Garland Show on CBS? We didn't either, and then we realized it was only on for one season and that it was up against Bonanza on Sunday nights. You know what the cowgirls of Roxie's World were watching, don't you? This vid would make us regret a little the questionable taste of our misspent childhoods, but there's no room for regret in a successful old age, so we'll forgo that feeling.) Sing it, Babs! Sing it, Judy! And many happy returns, sweet (old) Goose!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Searchers

Barking Up the Wrong Tree Edition

Y’all know how we dote on our readers here in Roxie’s World. We view each of you as a member of our extended pack, and we love you – love you -- all.

Recently, though, we have to admit, a few of you are creeping us out a little. Permit me to explain.

The geeks down in Clicks and Eyeballs report that we’ve suddenly had a number of visitors land in this happy space through internet searches on the phrase, “Go, Taliban, go.” Indeed, in the past couple of weeks, that phrase has brought more readers here than any other search term, including “Roxie’s World” and, surprisingly, “what is the rank of salary for being a pet psychic.” (Hey, times are hard. People are exploring all kinds of career options, and Roxie’s World is here to help!) Loyal readers who share (or merely endure) our passion for college basketball realize that here in Roxie’s World the phrase, “Go, Taliban, go,” has a particular meaning that arises from our antipathy toward the Blue Devils of Duke University. House Rule #1, as we have explained before, is:
We hate Duke so much that if Duke were playing the Taliban, we would root for the Taliban. Therefore, any team that plays Duke is known as the Taliban, and we all sit on the couch screaming, “Go, Taliban, go!”
Now, of course, we cast no judgments on our readers, and we know from our own wacky search habits that one ought to be cautious in the extreme about inferring anything about the motivation or intention behind any search string. Perhaps in the deep dullness of the off-season, the vast legions of Duke-hating basketball fans are trolling the internets searching for kindred spirits. Perhaps we are not alone in expressing our loathing for the dark lords of Durham in a uniquely post-9/11 combination of snark and apocalypticism. And perhaps Pakistan, where, it seems, at least a few of the searches on “Go, Taliban, go” have originated (though location information can be maddeningly imprecise with the kind of cheap [i.e., free] stat-tracking software used in our bare-bones Department of Clicks and Eyeballs), is a bastion of Duke hatred.

And perhaps by now you appreciate our concern. With the situation in Pakistan deteriorating by the second largely because of recent gains by Taliban forces inside the country, we feel compelled to say, loudly, clearly, and very slowly:
We are kidding about rooting for the Taliban. Big time, as a former vice president/war lord might have put it. Especially when it comes to nuclear-powered Pakistan.
Really, folks. We hated the Taliban before everybody hated the Taliban. We hated the Taliban back in the 90s when all they were doing was knocking down statues and, you know, stoning a few women. We have our issues with the foreign policy of the United States, even under the new administration, but the idea of a Taliban-controlled Pakistan scares us more than almost anything we can imagine -- a thousand furlough days, a lifetime sentence as Learning Outcomes Assessment czar of QTU, a demon possessing our big TV set and forcing it to broadcast nothing but Duke basketball 24/7. Anything. Seriously.

Got that, searchers? We are not rooting for the Taliban. We are a 100% pro-American secular queer feminist dog blog so madly in love with our country that we believe it is our solemn duty to tell our new president we think he is being a weenie on gay rights and a few other things we'd be blogging about if we felt competent to say anything about the economy and health care and Joe Biden's big mouth. And we intend to go right on doing that, at least until basketball season cranks up again and gives us something else to rant about. But move along if you're looking for true Taliban love here, kids, 'cause ya ain't gonna find it. Not none. Not any. Not no how. Dog bless America. Amen. A-women, too. And everything in between.

This public service announcement brought to you by the Division of Loyalty Oaths and the Office of Humor Contextualization, RW Enterprises, LLC.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sweet Dreams

My Aunt Katie offered something in comments on a recent post this morning that was so intensely gratifying to my narcissism that I simply had to pull it up onto the main page, lest any of my more casual readers miss out on some rather extraordinary evidence of the deeply inspirational power of America’s favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. (See this post for a previous example of my power to inspire flights of fancy and creativity among my legions of loyal fans, including my very youngest readers.) Here is what Katie, a brilliant feminist/queer theorist and recognized authority on, well, very nearly everything, had to say:
I had a dream last night, Roxie, and you, sort of, figured in it. After dreaming that I had changed the name of my course in the fall to Lesbian Communities, Queer Transdisciplinarities, and after falling asleep listening to a science fiction story in which a Martian was so absorbed in his artwork that he didn't notice he had died and continued to work on and on, straddling many worlds . . . .

Well, then I dreamed that your blog was crossing the transdisciplinary knowledge worlds and the worlds between us and the ancestors. Mark Twain was very eloquent on this subject and I suspect if you ask him it will turn out he deliberately infiltrated my dream world last night, too . . . .

So, Roxie, I think we should confer on you the order of crossing worlds, and that Mark Twain should do the honors at the awards ceremony. And that all of us should be grateful to have a fox terrier looking out for us and the ancestors, too.

Love, Katie (my Second Life cat Fenstalker says hi).
Katie also sent us an image she cooked up over in Second Life, where she has been spending a good bit of time recently, that looks cool and kinda feels like it goes along with the dream:

I have to admit that when the comment first popped up, I was a little confused. “Crossing transdiciplinary knowledge worlds,” I said to Moose. “That’s a good thing, right?”

“Oh, absolutely, Rox,” she assured me. “It’s what all the cool kids in the humanities are doing these days.”

“Ah, well then. And crossing the worlds between us and the ancestors?”

“Again, a very good thing. Katie’s dream recognizes our habit here in Roxie’s World of messing around with all kinds of boundaries in the interest of having fun, of making new senses of things, of seeing or creating connections between and among seemingly unrelated objects or ideas.”

“Really? We do all that?”

“Sure, we do, Rox! It’s your special talent! And Katie pays us the compliment of connecting the work and play we do around here with the fascinating scholarly work she is doing in what she calls the posthumanities.”

Posthumanities – Is that about dogs?”

“In part,” Moose replied with a chuckle, “especially in the version pioneered by Katie’s great teacher, Donna Haraway. She is hugely into dogs.”

“But what about the Martian artist who was so absorbed in what he was doing that he didn’t realize he had died and just kept working? Does that mean love never dies?”

“Yes, Rox. That is exactly what that means,” Moose said, and then she turned aside and coughed a little.


“Yes?” she said quietly.

“Do you ever dream of me?”

“Of course I do,” she said, with a brisk rub behind my ears, “and they are among the sweetest dreams I ever have, silly old girl.”

Watch the vid, kids. Let Roy Orbison sing you to sleep. And, as I’ve told you before, if you're not inspired to dream, you might as well be dead, so go ahead: Dream on me.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Moose's Bad Day

A Special Message from My Typist

To the Dipstick Who Broke into My (Locked) Office While I Was Teaching Last Night and Dug Into My Backpack and Stole (Some But Not All of the) Credit Cards from My Wallet:

Thank you.

Thank you for not taking my iPhone. I could have lived with you stealing my identity and cleaning out my bank account and walking away with the driver’s license I forgot to renew in March when I was busy celebrating the monumental birthday I felt so ambivalent about, but I would have been really upset if you had taken my iPhone with all of that contact information so lovingly inputted and all of those photos I haven’t yet loaded onto my computer and all of that gadget-love I have expended upon my sweet, sleek, amazing toy. On top of the furloughs and the menopause and the Lady Terps getting their butts kicked by a lesser team in the Elite 8 and Obama being the gay rights weasel we predicted he would be all along, that would have been really hard to take.

But on second thought and also:

Thank you for not taking my debit card. It actually would have been quite a drag if you had figured out a way to clean out my bank account, because, well, the pension fund is in the toilet and this pretty house we live in is losing value with every step we take across the lovely hardwood floors, so the checking account, with its .000000001% interest (I may exaggerate slightly, but not much), is just about the best investment the household has going for it right now. We’re really glad that money is secure, though I will probably continue to check my balance online every 37 seconds for the next six months just to make sure you didn’t copy down my account number and figure out a way to get my pin number, which, I swear to dog, was not in my wallet or anywhere near it, so don’t come back to try to find it.

No, really, you should have, but:

Thank you for not taking the $100 in cash I happened to have in my wallet, though, frankly, I would have understood if you had taken it. I am assuming that if you are desperate enough to be breaking into offices and rooting around in backpacks you might have felt a deep need for that (wholly untraceable) money. Indeed, if you had asked me, politely and with a few emotionally compelling details (an elderly dog in need of expensive veterinary care, perhaps), I might have given you the money, or some of it anyway. I am a kind person, not lacking in empathy. We might have talked and come up with a more constructive way for you to approach your difficulties.

As for what you did take, well:

Thank you for taking my state-issued university purchasing cards and an Am Ex that you probably thought was a corporate card. I imagine you judged that in taking those cards rather than the others you were minimizing my personal liability and inconvenience (which is in fact true and for that I am grateful), though I suppose a cynic might say you figured a slow-moving bureaucracy might not readily detect fraudulent activity on a company card. If that was your calculation, my itchy-fingered friend, you were sorely mistaken. The banks that issued the cards contacted me within two hours after your attempts to use them, because, well, it’s been a long time since my happy little program dropped $500 at a Target on a Wednesday morning. All the cards were immediately canceled, and the vast resources of Queer the Turtle U and the state of Maryland are now trained on the Mysterious Case of the Highly Selective Credit Card Thief. I spent part of my afternoon with a campus cop who grew visibly excited by the prospect of going over to the local Target to watch security tapes. He asked me – several times – to clarify that two of the cards were state-issued, and each affirmation seemed to heighten his glee and determination. He said to me, with steely resolve in his voice, “I am going to catch this guy, ma’am.” “I hope you do,” I replied, in what I hoped was a tone that was equal parts grateful damsel and outraged custodian of (diminishing) state resources.

So there you have it, Mr. or Ms. Pardon Me While I Rifle Through Your Wallet. The turtles are after you. And the eyes of Target are upon you, we hope. Thanks for deciding to shop so ridiculously close to the scene of your crime. Good luck.

(P.S. We post this piece with some humility, knowing full well that the petty crime that absorbed too much of Moose's attention this afternoon was nothing in comparison to the tragedy that occurred on another college campus today. Our hearts go out to the campus and community of Wesleyan University, where a 22-year-old student was shot to death this afternoon. Tenured Radical breaks the news and responds to it here. Peace to you all, TR.)


Because it's never too early to start thinking about basketball.

Because in your heart of hearts you long to see your hand-painted signs on the jumbotron at Comcast or in promotional e-mails or on the team's Web site.

Because you want to be there when Moose decides who will succeed Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman as the object of her passionate but completely respectful devotion.

Renew or purchase your Maryland women's basketball tickets now. Or Cannibal Terps will eat your kids for breakfast.

What are you waiting for, turtles? I said RENEW!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Soggy Sunday Supplement

Something Pretty

Imagine how happy you'd be with all this rain if you were a young azalea struggling to establish yourself in an obscure corner of the yard that the slacker gardeners usually overlook in their occasional bouts of watering.

(Photo Credit: Moose)

Something Satirical

Moose is always pleased to find someone who shares her antipathy toward the pharmaceutical industry and its relentless efforts to make boatloads of money trying to convince people -- and particularly women -- that handfuls of pills will make their lives better. And she is thrilled when someone turns that antipathy into a fairly funny comedy bit.

(H/T to Cara at Feministe)

Something Uplifting

You might have seen this vid from Playing for Change, but we haven't posted it before, and it seems like a nice non-pharmaceutical way to brighten up moods when the forecast for Monday is calling for lots more rain in the DC area. Perhaps you will be reading this post in your office, after slogging into work and realizing that all those papers you spent the weekend grading got soaked because you didn't fully close the zipper on your backpack. It's okay, sweet pea. Put down the pack. Put your umbrella out in the hall to dry. Sit down at your desk with a soothing cup of something warm. Crank up your volume, and remember: Roxie's World will stand by you, no matter what. And those undeserving students of yours wouldn't have read all those comments anyway. Peace out.

(H/T to Amal, who posted this to FB and blogs here.)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Less Than Fierce

Richard Socarides has a hard-hitting op-ed in today's Wa Po calling the Obama administration out on the glacial pace of its follow-through on promises made to LGBT citizens. Socarides was an advisor to President Clinton on LGBT rights in his second term. He begins by recalling that moment in December 2008 when president-elect Obama was trying to quell the furor over his selection of the Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. Obama claimed that throughout the campaign he had been a "consistent" and "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans." Socarides argues that, so far, the reality of Obama's presidency falls well short of his campaign rhetoric: "At the end of its first 100 days, his administration has been neither [consistent nor fierce]."

We're just the messenger, kids, so don't get mad at us, though it's true we agree with every word of the column. For example:
President Obama will never have more political capital than he has now, and there will never be a better political environment to capitalize on. People are distracted by the economy and war, and they are unlikely to get stirred up by the right-wing rhetoric that has doomed efforts in the past.

And people are willing to try new approaches. The court ruling legalizing gay marriage in Iowa represents a real opening, an opportunity to get "undecideds" to take another look not only at gay marriage but at gay rights in general. As Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin remarked, many Americans may be asking themselves, "If the [Iowa] Supreme Court said this, maybe I have to think anew."

So far, friends, instead of leadership on LGBT issues, we have foot-dragging. (Example: Don't ask, don't tell.) Instead of clarity and forcefulness, we have silence and mush. (Example: The White House's reaction to the Iowa Supreme Court's marriage decision.) A new Wa Po-ABC poll shows a "sharp shift" in support for same-sex marriage, with 49% of those surveyed now saying they support it, while 46% oppose it. (Just three years ago, the numbers were starkly different, with 58% opposing same-sex marriage and 36% supporting it.) As a growing number of states move to extend full relationship equality to LGBT citizens, the president's support for civil unions, coupled with his inaction on extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples in either civil unions or marriages, looks more and more like a profile in political cowardice. How many states have to give gay couples the right to say "I do" before the president musters the courage to say "me, too?" How high do his own poll numbers have to go before he is willing to expend some political capital on the defining civil rights issue of the era?

Mr. President, you are standing on the wrong side of history. You can't please all of the people all of the time, and you can't lead anybody if you don't have the nerve to piss a few people off in support of justice. When the dust settles on these issues, do you really want the record to show that you stood back and risked nothing to bring about equality for a group of citizens? You cannot imagine how fervently we hope that is not the case.

Thus endeth your Saturday sermon on queer justice and political courage. To reward you for your time and attention to such weighty matters when your minds might otherwise be occupied with handicapping the ponies, we pass along a sublimely hilarious parody of the National Organization for Marriage ad, which contains what is possibly the funniest joke about Chilean sea bass that we have ever heard. Yes: Chilean sea bass. You know we never steer you wrong. Watch the vid, and think of Moose when you hear the first strains of "My Old Kentucky Home" this afternoon. Peace out.