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Archive for July, 2012

Getting Filthy Gingrich

Posted in Editorials on July 30th, 2012
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We all know how Dan Savage turned Rick Santorum’s name into a profanity. I would like to do something similar to Newton Leroy Gingrich, but not a profanity. I would like to see the word “Gingrich” become an adjective.

Gingrich /ghin-grich/ adj. Wealthy as a result of exploiting the gullible. (Pejorative)

Newt Gingrich sure sold a lot of books on the campaign trail this year, didn’t he? Lots of people wanted to see the big man on his way to the White House. What Mr. Gingrich didn’t get were a lot of states in the GOP Primaries. What we do see is Newt Gingrich sabotage his campaign, again and again

This sounds a lot like the plot to The Producers. Gingrich evidently doesn’t manage his money very well, perhaps he saw this financial difficulty coming, and decided he could use his presidential race to raise his personal capital, even if it meant screwing over his campaign staff.

Newton Leroy Gingrich may be full of himself, but he knows he could never be President. It’s much too hard. It’s much easier to write books and piss and moan and mock anyone crazy enough to become president. Gingrich treated the campaign trail as a book tour.

Lawrence O’Donnell figured out Sarah Palin was trying something similar back in May 2011, deducing that she and Donald Trump were just publicity hounds that had no intention of actually running for office. Gingrich managed to get away with it a little longer.

He’s not the only one who got filthy gingrich, and he won’t be the last. It would seem many politicians decided to use the campaign year as a means of selling books and collecting appearance fees. I expect we shall see even more of this in the future. In the United States of America, we crave money, and fear responsibility -we get the government we deserve.

Zombies, Run!

Posted in Editorials on July 23rd, 2012
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I’ve been running for a few years, on and off and I have only used the ubiquitous Couch-to-5K app to keep track of my runs. But when I heard about Zombies, Run! last year, I knew I had to have it. (Not to be confused with “Run for your lives!” a series of 5K obstacle races where people in zombie costumes chase runners.) It’s currently available for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

The way that it works is simple. You turn on the app, select a mission, and start running (or walking, skating, cycling, elliptical-ing, whatever). Each mission is an episode in the story, and separated into several 2 – 3 minute segments which play in between songs on your playlist. Additionally, while you are listening to your music, you will occasionally hear a voice over telling you that you have collected supplies. If you have GPS turned on, you will get voice overs telling you that zombies are chasing you and you have to increase your speed. If you don’t sprint far or fast enough, you lose all the supplies you are carrying. At the end of each mission you can use your supplies to further build Able Township – the base where your character lives in a mini-Sim City-esque game.

There are story missions, which advance the plot, and supply missions where not much happens but are good for collecting supplies. At the end of either kind of mission, if you keep the app on, you will hear brief segments of a radio show broadcast by characters who live in Able Township.

I am so surprised at how wrapped up I have gotten in the story and how attached I am to the characters. I feel like it’s a tv show or book series I have been a fan of for a long time. I highly recommend this app. Wanting to know what happens next will encourage you to work out more often. People have complained about the price ($8 for iPhone). It’s not more than the price of a movie ticket, new book, or more traditional video game, and you will get a lot of entertainment for your money. There are 30 missions plus radio content and the mini-city building game, also an extensive glossary and character guide that expands as the plot advances in case you want to refresh your memory if you haven’t worked out in a while.

The story is told in the second person perspective, and the listener is referred to as “Runner 5.” The creators have done an excellent job of immersing the listener into the story seamlessly. The plot begins when your helicopter crashes outside Able Township, and you join up with the people who live there, running missions to support operations of the base. But you soon discover that there’s a lot more going on than just survival. The characters are vibrant, and the voice acting is superb. I may or may not have been wiping more than sweat out of my eyes on a few occasions. The quality of the radio drama combined with the adrenaline rush of going for a run create a fantastic experience.

Reality Bites Back

Posted in Book Reviews on July 19th, 2012
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I don’t often disclose that I can occasionally be found watching reality television. I first started watching Tool Academy because of this withering critique of it in Bitch Magazine, but somehow I stayed a loyal fan through all three seasons. And while I knew there was something disquieting about the show’s sexual politics and the cartoonish way race relations were portrayed I didn’t give it much more thought than a few eye rolls. I didn’t expect a sophisticated or egalitarian view or sex, gender or racial politics from a VH1 reality show, so I didn’t bother getting upset. But maybe I should have.

Jenn Pozner’s book Reality Bites Back breaks down the dismissive argument that “it’s just television.” She not only critiques the harmful sexist and racist (and classist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist…) messages perpetuated by reality television, but she explains why it’s profitable for these shows to be made (constant product placement, to the point of surreality) and how networks consider themselves beyond reproach.

The things Pozner uncovers are truly shocking, even for people who are generally grossed out by reality television. For example, the women who auditioned for “Joe Millionaire” didn’t think they were trying out to win a marriage proposal from a wealthy man. They were told that they were going to a casting call for a Real World meets Sex and the City in Paris show. Instead they wound up fodder for water cooler gossip and national mockery for being “gold diggers.” This is unconscionable.

All hope is not lost, and Pozner encourages readers to take action and let networks know what kinds of programming they find objectionable and why, and what they would like to see more of on television. There’s an extensive appendix of resources for would-be activists, and an accompanying website with even more information.

What I liked most about this book was that while the issues of sexist and racist messages in reality shows are taken seriously to task, there’s still a genuine appreciation for the medium of television. Pozner isn’t telling us to kill our televisions, just that we should expect better.

You are quite welcome, Lisa Brown

Posted in Editorials on July 18th, 2012
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In the aftermath of a getting banned from speaking because she used the word vagina in defense of abortion rights, I made a donation to Lisa Brown’s campaign. Term limits prevent her from running for the Michigan State Assembly again, but I am glad to support her campaign for county clerk.

During the controversy some claimed that she was not punished just for saying the word vagina, but for the content of the entire statement,

I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’”

A powerful woman like Brown’s confident smack-down of Republican talking points probably stings rather harshly. It’s not just an awesomely snarky end to a political speech, but she is blatantly calling the bluff that this isn’t about controlling women’s sexuality, and in using the words that she did, she is refusing to acknowledge the illusion that this is not about sex. It makes sense that it would feel all the more humiliating to be talked to that way, which is why they lashed out like they did. However, the expectation that women will sit quietly while their rights are being taken away has no basis in reality, so I find it humorous how shocked many Republicans appeared.

Brown’s thank you note below.