Archive for May, 2011

So tell me, if you’ve ever fantasized about sex in public, did you have a solo effort in mind? And if so, did you imagine just how mind-blowingly sexy it’d be to whack off in your local Walmart? That’s a scenario I’ve never seen in Cosmo. In fact, I think it might even invalidate Rule 34: “If it exists, there is porn of it.” (I went searching for porn set in Walmart. Maybe I’m just having a bad google day, but I came up empty.) Clearly, this is a cutting-edge sex act.

And yet, a local man (not of my acquaintance) dared to live out his pole-polishing fantasies at my local Walmart!

Details in the university’s paper of record, The Post, are tantalizingly brief and slippery:

OMG, did the paper have to juxtapose the crime report with a picture of – what’s that – an erect baseball bat? Hitting it out of the park for – a home run? Oh, Walmart dude: you should have gone to sporting goods. There, you might have started a pick-up game and at least tried to get to second base. (To be clear: the athlete pictured is not the accused Walmart wanker.)

Now, at this juncture I should take a feminist stand. I know this is my duty. I should mention that men who expose themselves in public are engaged in an act of predation and intimidation. I could regale you with my Carl’s Junior bathroom encounter with a peeping tom. And I could concede that women commit similar acts on occasion (Girls Gone Wild, anyone?), but it’s absurd to call nonconsensual exhibitionism and voyeurism a sport protected under Title IX. Instead, these are intrusive manifestations of male sexual entitlement that remind women not to step out of line or consider their sexuality their own. As always, the bedrock principle is self-determination and consent. And I’m quite certain that in this case, his fellow shoppers had not consented to a free peep show.

But I can’t sustain that argument (correct though it be). I just keep bumping into WALMART – and giggling. I mean, a guy actually decided to buff his bishop under those glaring fluorescent lights, in constant danger of ramming carts, and under the watchful eyes of store detectives (or, as the piece preciously puts it, “loss prevention officers”). This just floors me. I’m still trying to parse what it means to be “near” automotive. Was he actually in the nearby toy section, a fact that – if true – trigger a moral panic about local pedophiles? Or was he actually in automotive, turned on by the manly-man smells of grease and rubber tires? Perhaps he had just misunderstood the meaning of “lube job”?

Seeking to understand, I undertook some research, which revealed that our local miscreant was not the first to get a Walmart woody. He’s probably not even the most abject, if you consider a case reported last year in the Frisky:

In case you folks were thinking about masturbating in public anytime soon, let William Tyler Black be an example of what not to do. The 28-year-old substitute teacher (yes … teacher) was arrested in Florida (yes … Florida) yesterday for spreading his baby batter all over a local Walmart (yes … Walmart).

William apparently became aroused by the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, featuring Brooklyn Decker, while browsing at his local Walmart in Sarasota. He decided to pleasure himself right then and there, splooging all over the floor and wiping some of it onto a “Star Wars” light saber in the toy section. When confronted by the staff about his masturbation session, he said he was buying a toy for his daughter. (Oh no! He’s a father?) He was charged with battery and exposure of sexual organs. Just so we’re clear, this is not something you should ever do. I don’t care how hot Brooklyn Decker is.

At least no light sabers were involved here in Athens, though I should add that there’s one wacky connection between the two incidents: Ohio and Florida are now tied for having the least popular governors! If you’re saddled with a Governor Jerk-off, why not join him?

But geez, Walmart? Rly? This is precisely why the Ceiling Cat created almost-private rooms for us.

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If you haven’t seen this sweet kitteh hugging her very young baby, you probably haven’t been on the Internet this week. Watch for the real hug about halfway through:

If the hugging mama kitteh is already old hat, then you’ll want to proceed straight to these three clouded leopard cubs, born in the Nashville Zoo (via William K. Wolfrum). There’s no actual mother in this clip, only a human simulation of leopard-mama technique. Watch for it starting at 1:05. (My first thought: Oh, if only my son the Tiger had enough of a scruff for that trick to work!

And on the theme of calming our cubs, I’m besotted with the cover of this book,

Go the F**k to Sleep,

which isn’t out yet, but is eagerly awaited.

The cover art alone gets the Kittwampus pawprint of approval for felinity. Want to see the cozy cat family inside? The whole cubs, kits, and kaboodle has been leaked and put up on YouTube:

Sweet dreams! I, for one, am off to emulate that lucky mama tiger, except I won’t be using either of my cubs as a pillow.

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No, I wasn’t raptured. Didja think I might be on the short list, with my oh-so-pious ways? Thank you for your prayers!

But I guess I may carry more of a pious rep than I’d realized, judging from an email I received this week from a student; maybe he just noticed that I teach a course on religion, gender, and sexuality.

As a matter of policy, I don’t write snarky things about my own students. But I’ve never taught this guy, never even met him, so he’s fair game, just like Facebook creepers and other Internet parasites. Personal details are redacted, of course; I’m not that mean.

My name is [redacted, but Jesus knows!] and I’m currently a sophomore here at Ohio University. Next year, I’ll be taking a year off of school to pursue God’s calling and I’m excited to see how he will use me to further the Great Commission. I’m building a financial and prayer team throughout the country and was wondering if it would be possible for me to meet with you before school is out for about 25 minutes. I’ll answer any questions you have about the area I’ll be going to and more importantly, I’ll be able to share my excitement with you for what God is doing in my life. Please let me know if we can meet and talk about it!

I am not sure whether this would be the Great Commission or the Great Heist. Seriously – he wants money from me? I guess there’s often a fine line between evangelizing and grifting (see: Benny Hinn).

Of course I’m not giving this fellow 25 seconds of my time, never mind 25 minutes – or 25 cents. But I’m still puzzling over how I’m supposed to have questions about the “area” when he doesn’t divulge his destination. Perhaps that’s because it’s in another realm altogether, one bedecked with harps and gossamer wings?

At any rate, it seems unwise to fund him for a whole school year when, as we know, the world is now scheduled to end on October 21.


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Yesterday, the Tiger asked me: “Mama, what’s the opposite of ‘boys and girls’?”

Me: “Do you think there has to be an opposite? Well, some people think boys are the opposite of girls, but are they really?”

Tiger: “No! They’re all just people.”

Leave it to a seven-year-old to dismantle oppositional sexism.

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The kids are asleep, as of 11:55 p.m. EDT. I’ve got candles burning in the same tealight candelbra that did a job on Grey Kitty’s whiskers, lo those many years ago. I sit on the front porch as the rain cascades around me, letting me and my candles burn.

Oh, and I’m wearing a bathrobe, just to confirm that most hoary of prejudices against bloggers.

The kids will wake soon, and when they do, I’ll be presented with offerings. One involves dirt. Or earth. Or something that requires earth. I’m all for it, though I nearly managed to kill my ‘mater seedlings this weekend through a deadly combo of drought, too-close grow lights, and lack of fertilizer. (When my own fumbling incompetence rains down, I do wonder how my children continue to thrive. It helps that their CNS trumps the tomato’s defense mechanisms. I guess opposable thumbs don’t hurt, either. At any rate, my earth mother cred is shot to hell; just ask my ‘maters.)

I will tear up at my children’s sweet offerings, no matter that they felt obligated or spurred by a class assignment at school.

I will hug them and kiss them and keep their presents forever.

And yet, I still have a wishlist.

1) Can we get beyond the idea that women are uniquely suited to multitasking? Cordelia Fine just bulldozes this stereotype in her book, Delusionas of Gender. And more: Kevin Drum marshals the evidence that multitasking is folly for everyone, irrespective of gender. No wonder I still have a florid scar from the time when I tried to pull a baking sheet from the oven while ensuring that the mini-Tiger (aged not-quite-three) wouldn’t get burned. (Guess who got schorched instead??) I keep multitasking, I’m liable to lose that opposable thumb. Picture a dog watering a tree. Picture a dog baking a souffle. The intersection of that? Um, that would be me. Multitasking. The combo of onions and knives is a particularly foolhardy ideas.

2) Can we please just “be excellent to each other,” as Bill and Ted would say? The one thing I truly want from my beautiful boys is kindness. Toward each other. Toward me. They have mad skillz with their friends, so can we please bring those skillz home? Because, y’know, rudeness is a neurotoxin, especially when rudeness is spread among peer or near-peers. I’m well aware that another camp of researchers regards sibling arguments as healthy, spurring on their verbal development. May God, or some benevolent goddess, or my pal the Ceiling Cat save us from further precocious verbal development. We’re already at a point where the least bad outcome could be a Amero-Germanic version of Alan Dershowitz. But back to the neurotoxins. My kids appear to bee more than fine. They chat; they argue, they wear me down. But my brain? It’s in acute danger of rotting! Neural termites and mad-cow disease could hardly hollow it out any faster than the daily squabbles! No wonder the Red Cross recently rejected my blood on suspicion of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease, aka mad cow for homans. (True story.)

That’s just my very personal list. I know theere’s ooodles more to say about what other kids and mamas need – not to mention daddies. I realize that my personal wishlist is very much formed by the concerns and privileges of educated, middle-class mothers.As for what less-privileged mothers need – well, Katha Pollitt pretty kicked it into the goal with her commentary on the “Tiger Mother” flap.Please read what she has to say about class,mothering, and solidarity, and I’ll just leave it at that – with the injunction that we should all be excellent to each other, to our parents and our children, tomorrow and always.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all, be you bio-mother, step-mother, adoptive mother, other-mother … or just another exhausted multitasker of any age, gender, or species. May your day be crowned by candles, flowers, champagne, and the survival of your opposable thumbs.

And on those days when excellence turns to flatulence? Well, you’ll still be welcome here at the Kitteh, where we recognize that being a child or a parent or just a fallible hooman is simply who we are. Welcome to the club. I’d light a candle for you, but I must admit it’s rather perfumed, and you might just prefer eau de methane.

(Next up: our local Mama Robin, if I can manage not to terrify her.)

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I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about the Hitler-Osama connection. Only a couple of the pundits I’ve read have remarked that the announcements of their deaths both came on May 1. When Hitler died, there was a little less evil in the world. The same is true for Osama. But the parallels don’t stretch much further. With Hitler’s death came the end of Nazism and unconditional surrender. People who celebrated weren’t cheering Hitler’s death so much as the end of a long, brutal war.

In the War on Terror, though, no end appears to be in sight. And how could it be? The “enemy” remains amorphous and hydra-headed. Its leader is now dead, and it’s not clear who would capitulate in his absence. More to the point, we don’t have well-defined war aims, and we never did. Nabbing Osama was as close to a clear goal as Bush or Obama ever articulated. Even with him dead, the WoT grinds on. As my students wondered last quarter: How will we know when we’re done? How can we know if the WoT has been “won” or “lost”?

Well, let’s examine the balance, so far. On one side of the ledger: Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians dead. Rampant Islamophobia. Over a trillion dollars spent while children go hungry, here in the U.S. and globally. Strained relations with our allies. Fertile ground for demagogues like Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, and now Trump. Spies screening our emails and investigating our library records. Naked body scanners and grope-downs in our airports. The demolition of habeas corpus. The triumph of the “unitary executive” over checks and balances. Contempt for the rule of law. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Extraordinary rendition. Torture in our name.

On the other side: One dead fanatic who threatened the world at large. One dead dictator who posed no danger whatsoever to anyone except his own subject. And as a special bonus: Uday and Qusay! (Maybe they knew where the yellowcake was hidden?)

I’m not sad Osama is dead, but I am ashamed that my fellow Americans are treating this like we just won the World Cup. “We Are the Champions?” Really? If you lost loved ones on 9/11 or in the WoT – if your life has been on the line – then you can celebrate any damn way you choose. In this college town, Osama’s death brought people out to the bars on a Sunday night, wrapped in flags and drenched in beer. That’s not to denigrate the real joy or relief people may have felt, but somehow those feelings merged seamlessly with the student drinking culture. Even cutting the kids some slack (they were pre-teens on 9/11), it feels like celebrating an execution with only a glancing thought for the dead man’s victims. Which, you know, people used to do all the time with hangings in the public square; it’s just that we pretend we’re more civilized than that now.

I put my husband on a bus today. From there, he’s boarding a plane to Germany. While I’m pretty confident he’ll be fine, this is not a week I would have chosen to fly, had we known what was coming down the pike. Obama Osama is a martyr now. The months ahead will likely bring retribution.

How about you? Are you feeling safer yet?

(Thanks to Evil Fizz and Hugo for the correction of the typo – which originally appeared in the headline, too! Geez, I’m as bad as Fox News! Teach me to hit “publish” while I’m flying out the door for school pickup. Sincere apologies for the screw-up.)

Update, 5:45 p.m., May 13, 2011: Throughout last Saturday, I heard repeated drunken chants from a nearby street party that college students throw annually. “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” Tim Wise has, well, wise words of warning to those partiers, unheeded though they may be:

So yes, we can argue that bin Laden deserved to die. But that’s the easy part. Beyond what onedeserves, whether they be terrorists or just street criminals, there is the matter of what society needs. And it may be that what a healthy society needs is less bombastic rhetoric, less celebratory embrace of violence, and less jingoistic nationalism, even if that means that we have to respond to the news of bin Laden’s death with a more muted tone, perhaps being thankful in private, or even drinking a toast with friends in our own homes, but not turning the matter into public spectacle, the likes of which cheapens matters of life and death to little more than a contest whose results can be tallied on a scoreboard.

It may prove cathartic that one the likes of bin Laden is dead. His death may provide an opportunity for a much-needed exhaling; but that doesn’t render it the proper subject of a pep rally. And given the larger need to challenge the mentality of disposability that is at the root of all murderous violence, it may be that in such moments we would be far better off to solemnly commemorate the death of the monster than to cheer it openly, when the latter is so likely to inflame passions on the part of those whose allegiance to the monster remained unsullied right to the end.

It’s not just a pep rally. It’s a drunken binge. And while the past week has shown that there will be some tangible, non-psychological benefits from killing bin Laden (in the form of intelligence on future Al Qaeda attacks), the hangover from these shitfaced celebrations is liable to negate those gains.

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“Oh, b-b-b-baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet …”

The other day on Facebook, I told an old friend (who lives near Bachmann territory, woe is he) that the only reason to look forward to a Palin candidacy would be the chance to use the phrase that I already blew in the title of the post.

I’m sorry to say that this post has just run out of indigenous humor. But fortunately, Jesus’ General recently posted a clip that does my concept one better: Pain and Bachmann as rock opera! I could do without the cheap Ann Coulter joke (really, if she were trans, it would be the most sympathetic thing about her!) but the rest is brilliant satire, a sort of politicized This Is Spinal Tap.

(Click here if you can’t see the clip.)

Also, the Tiger – with his seven-year-old’s taste – thinks it rocks. Clearly he needs much more exposure to The Who’s pioneering rock operas. He’s firmly anti-Justin Bieber, so we’ve still got time and opportunity. But I’ll admit that those power chords are firmly stuck in my head.

Go here for the backstory; the creator’s blog is pretty funny, too.

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