Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman, the fascist

There is an article at Watching America from the Pakistani press The Nation entitled “America Uses Superman to Promote its Fascist Agenda”. While there are some things in this article I agree with, I do believe the writer is overreacting a bit at the nature of this particular superhero, and forgets, or is ignorant of, the heroic ideal that crosses time and continents.

It may be news to foreign policy Pundits in Islamabad as well as to the majority of readers that Superman, the highly coveted American film hero, is an expression and a creation of fascist minds rooted in a political culture that epitomizes power and the use of force.

Ok, yes, America is big on use of force. Americans are sadly too gung-ho for a smackdown, and the prevailing attitude they are trying to invoke is “you better not mess with us”. While this might grant some security to many of its citizens, there are plenty of us out there who think not all wars should be fought. Superman himself, however, was created to make money, with the added effect of entertaining a few kiddos (and some adults) along the way. He was created in the spirit of many mythic heroes, born of another world, carried off as an infant to protect him from harm.

This is so, as Superman alters the nature of reality and creates a reality of his own, which defies human understanding and logic. He also violates every rule of physics and all scientific principles known to humanity. The notion of Superman is based on the idea of a battle between "good vs. evil," from an exclusively American perspective, where the battle always demonstrates an external threat to American society and its people.

Well, yea. Superman was created as an “American” hero, therefore, he protects American interests, from an American perspective. Why shouldn’t he? If anyone else, in any other country in the world, created a comic superhero, I bet they would protect that country, not America. However, once we get into the idea of good vs. evil things get a bit more interesting. Take World War II, for example. Allies thought they were the good guys. Hitler and his cronies thought they were the good guys. Everyone likes to think that their side is the right side, the good side, the moral side. Is there a definitive answer? Not always. I’d like to think fighting against Hitler was a good thing, but maybe that wasn’t the entirety of the Allied cause. When it comes to the war in Iraq the acknowledgement of right and wrong is a bit murkier. But does all this really apply to Superman?

In the end, obviously, "good" prevails and America is saved. What could be more virtuous than that? Superman is naturally and invariably a white male, handsome, debonair, brave, moral, and kind, potent, exciting, loving, and capable of generating ecstasy at the touch of a finger. And of course, he is in love with a white female equally kind-hearted, devoted, beautiful, loving, noble, pious, pure, and honorable – and together the pair fights the "evil-doers" to ultimate victory for "good," and lives in love and peace thereafter.

Well, not exactly. Superman isn’t even human, remember? And Lois Lane, well it seems she has moved on in this latest film, perhaps. Sure, they are both in appearance white, attractive, cornfed Americans, but let’s be realistic – they were created in a pre-pre-politically correct America. DC Comics is making an effort to make some “modern” changes to their superheroes, so we’ll see what happens. But even so, so what? Do you take umbrage with Alexander the Great, Pericles, Achilles, Heracles, Beowulf, King Arthur – real and imaginary characters that might be said to have the same traits listed above for Superman? Superman follows a tradition of heroic characters in the west that goes back to ancient times. The idea is hardly American.

No wonder then that at the height of Bush's neo-con-manufactured war on the so-called terrorism of Islamic militants, Superman is back with a "bang" in American movie theaters. "Superman Returns," which opens in the United States this week, is receiving knock-out reviews from critics and is winning over audiences as the latest crime-fighting, evil-smashing, and sincere "Man of Steel."

How else would America express its solidarity with the Bush Administration and its faith-oriented politics? Indeed, the concept of Superman can only be explained by unflinching faith - absolute faith that transcends ideas and is based on unshakable convictions and messianic notions that overwhelm the need for analysis. Superman is absolutely unreal, and yet he is admired for the deeds he performs. It all boils down to the promotion of Bush's fascist doctrine, both inside and outside America.

Whoa there doggie. You are completely underestimating (overestimating?) the American movie going public. I can guarantee you that more than likely, 99.9% of the movie going public will not give one thought to President Bush while watching Superman Returns. They aren’t being fooled – the story behind Superman is much older than Bush, it is the heroic tradition, again – but in the case of the new movie, you are dealing with a hero who has perhaps lost his way, no longer needed, and a villain with a personal vendetta against him. Could be an allegory for the current Bush administration and their war on terror? Could it be an allegory of American anti-Islam tendencies? Perhaps. But it could also be an allegory of a thousand stories already told.

Now, the article, which is quite interesting, goes on to talk about Bush’s fascism, religious extremism, and various other issues with the Bush administration. Honestly, I don’t altogether disagree with some of it. This view of Bush from a Pakistani perspective is quite fascinating. But obviously, I take offense at the misuse of Superman, a fictional character who can be different things to different people, a character that continues a long legacy of heroic ideals, a character that is altogether American, but whose roots run as far back as the sands of time, blending with the heroes of the ancient west, and indeed the world over.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

If only he had a brain

You've gotta love a husband who, not five minutes after you tell him you are starting the meat for tacos, says:

"What's that burning smell? Are you cooking something?"

I think I'm cursed

Every team I decide I like (I do this on a game by game basis these days) seems to be losing their World Cup matches. I was rooting for Mexico, Holland, Australia, Switzerland, and Ghana and they all lost. It used to be, with baseball, that whenever I watched the Orioles play, they lost. I must have the same vibe going with soccer.

From now on, I'm not picking a favorite team. I'm not even going to think about a favorite team. I'll just enjoy the games and not have heavy heart beating moments like in the penalty shot shoot out during the Ukraine/Switzerland match. Sure, it isn't as fun. But in the very unlikely event that I am jinxing World Cup chances for some much deserving teams, I'll stay out of it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And my wish is finally granted

Blade Runner will be rereleased in Region 2 DVD in October. I still have to wait a few months, but finally, I'll have a copy in my hot little hands.

Now, if only someone will release the second season of Twin Peaks, I won't bitch about DVD releases for a long, long time.

A sad celebrity death

IMDB is reporting that Moose, the "actor" that played Eddie the dog on Frasier, has died of old age (which was 16 and a half). I suppose he lived a good doggie life, and provided hours of entertainment to the Frasier viewing audience.

Bow wow, old friend, bow wow.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Slow news day

You know, I'm really happy for Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. They appear to make a nice, seemingly genuine couple. I can't say much for Urban's music, as I rarely listen to any country, but I've always enjoyed Kidman's movies.

Still, is their marriage really fodder for front page news in the Tennessean? Nothing else going on in Nashville today? I know it is a boon for Nashville to have a big, glamorous star like Nicole Kidman to put down roots there and even like living there. I'm glad she likes Nashville. I'm glad she thinks people are friendly there. I happen to agree with her. But lets not go and show Nashville's amateur side by making any story involving her front page news, wedding or not. We don't want Nashville to become the scary friend who tries too hard and frightens people away because really, Nashville just wants to be liked and if it involves tattooing pigs with slogans saying "Nicole Kidman, Nashville loves you!" and unleashing them in the Green Hills area then so be it.

Nope, we don't want to be that city.

And from the distant shores comes a traveller

For the last week, we have had the marvellous fortune of having a good friend from Nashville visit with us, sharing home and hearth and experiencing all the sights and flavors of Thessaloniki. Being an expat, one gets accustomed to not seeing old friends on a daily basis, although they are never far from our thoughts and the friendship remains as dear, if not more so, than ever. New friends are enjoyable but just don't compare to folks from home with years of remembrances of good times and bad.

With departing comes a quiet melancholy, buoyed by talk of future visits and the knowledge that other friends will come and go. It is a reminder of how much we give up as expatriates, but it also reinforces how much we've gained. Thankfully, the connection that ties us to our abandoned home remains intact, if a bit taut.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Finally, a team to root for

Now that the U.S. is out of the World Cup and I've had some time to watch a few games and decide which team I like the most, I have finally decided on a team to support, however short-lived that may be.

I realize that they defeated the U.S. because of what seemed to be a rather unfair foul call, but after watching the Ghanians play a couple of times I feel they have the spirit I am looking for in a team. They are an underdog, although they are well known in the African circuit. But these boys played their hearts out against the Czech Republic and again against the U.S. And it helps that Leanne's stories of life in Accra have endeared me to the Ghanian people.

Still, they are playing Brazil in their next match, which most betters would say means a certain loss for Ghana. Lose or not, the Ghanian team has my support. Here's hoping for a good show on Tuesday.

In the meantime, I'm sure I'll enjoy Germany vs. Sweden tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day of light

Hope everyone is enjoying the longest day of the year. Here in Thessaloniki, darkness descended about 9:45 pm (and the sun began rising around 5am). That is a long damn day, but not as long as the days my in-laws just experienced in Helsinki, where it never really got dark, only twilight.

Blessings for a good summer for everyone.

Καλό Καλοκαίρι

Monday, June 19, 2006

Good question

I really wish Greece had made it to the World Cup to defend their Euro 2004 title. Then maybe Portuguese fans wouldn't be mocking them like this.

Nashville, new home for human trafficking relief

World Relief, Inc., has made Nashville one of four locations for the Network of Emergency Trafficking Services. While many Americans seem to turn a blind eye to the idea of human trafficking in the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 20,000 people a year are trafficked into America. Honestly, I fear that number may even be a bit on the low side. The network will offer assistance in shelter, health and legal services to human trafficking victims, and also help raise awareness of the issue, offering training in how to identify and respond to victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking has long been a big concern in Greece, as the country provides easy access to Eastern European nations, where human trafficking is a large problem. But every country in the world needs to take efforts to curb human trafficking seriously, so maybe someday we can put an end to this horrible act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a brochure with all kinds of information about human trafficking, including how to identify possible trafficking victims and how to talk to them.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How appropriate

The U.S. managed a 1-1 draw with Italy because an Italian scored a goal for them.

Although - I honestly think the offside call on what would have been the second U.S. goal was complete and utter bullshit.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Watch out, it's a cartoon pig!

In crazy extremist paranoia news this week, the Turkish state network, TRT, banned the airing of Winnie the Pooh because one of the main characters (the second best character, in my opinion, next to Tigger) is a pig. At first they were going to cut the scenes with Piglet in them, but there were too many.

I can respect the fact that to Muslims, pigs are considered "unclean" and not fit for consumption. But I think banning Piglet is a bit extreme, considering it is a cartoon pig, and I really don't see any Muslims running out to eat pork because of it. In fact, if anything, it would keep them from eating pork, because Piglet is so cute and you wouldn't want to eat something that cute. And I suppose that is the point - you can't portray a pig as cute, because pigs are evil.

Still, any religion that exerts so much control that you can't even see a pig in a movie or a cartoon is a bit weird to me. I mean, Christians are exposed to sinful things all the time and it doesn't necessarily mean they will do these sinful things. People were breaking religious laws long before movies or television came along, and I suspect will keep on breaking religious laws without any outward provocation.

Defining classic

As my husband and I were flipping channels this afternoon, we discovered that VH1 was counting down the top 100 Classic Rock videos. Now, I don't know what anyone else thinks of when they think of Classic Rock, but in my mind I think of Pink Floyd, the Who, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes, etc., etc.

Imagine our surprise when the first video we see is Alice in Chains. Now, I like Alice in Chains, but I never would have considered them to be "classic rock". At least not yet, and even so, I think the genre of "classic rock" is pretty much stuck on those bands from the 70's - if we are talking about another time period we need new terminology.

Of course, I could be objecting because I can't stand the thought that music I listened to while I was in college is now considered classic rock. But I don't think so.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm not cut out to be a competitive sports spectator

After watching a handful of World Cup matches and a brief stint watching the Greek games during the European Championship I've learned one thing about soccer (ok, football) - it usually doesn't really get interesting until the last five minutes of a game, but then, it really gets interesting.

Still, not being a hard line soccer fan and feeling a bit lukewarm on the whole who to root for front, I find myself, from time to time, on the side of the underdog. Take last night's match between Germany and Poland, for example. Poland lost their first game so really, they had to win to have a shot at this whole thing. The game was 0-0 until the extra time, when at 91 minutes (I think it was) Germany scored, and ultimately won the game. I felt really bad for Poland at that point, because they were playing their little hearts out and you could see how much they wanted to win in their cute little faces. Sure, at times the Polish players showed some questionably unsportsmanlike behavior on the field, but I attribute that to their extreme desire to win. Obviously, it didn't help them.

Fast forward to tonight's game between Sweden and Paraguay. Both teams lost their first games. Both teams really wanted to win. It was a draw up until the 89 minute mark, when the Swedish guy used his sweet little bald head to bounce that ball right into a game winning goal. The Swedish team was so happy, and I felt happy with them. But then I saw the exhausted and defeated faces of the Paraguay (Paraguain? Paraguigian?) team, and felt really, really bad for them, which totally overshadowed the happiness I had felt a minute before for the Swedes.

Honestly, I don't know if I can keep this up. Sure, you can throw one of those cheesy catch phrases at me - "everyone at the World Cup is a winner!" but that doesn't really make me feel any better for the losing teams. I just think about how much hope every participant has going into this thing and how horrible it is to get dashed, one by one, as the time goes on. It is hard to be humane in the world of competitive sports.

But who knows, by the time this whole thing is over, I may be rooting hard core for one team over another. We shall see.

Dark days

Today marks the anniversary of the execution of Margaret Jones, the first person executed as a witch in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She was a midwife, as many alleged witches were, which attests to the continuing tradition of placing blame on the medical community. Still, one wonders how a colony of people who left England to avoid religious persecution could be so intolerant once they reached the New World.

One might wonder why I keep bringing up these witch executions. As Arthur Miller so brilliantly portrayed in The Crucible, the trials of witches in the 17th century were eerily similar to persecutions of people later in history- from the McCarthy hearings to hippies to blacks to gays to immigrants ad infinitum - the witch hunt appears to be a vital and unceasing part of American history. Not surprising, I suppose, in a country that continues to seek to limit the liberties of its people.

At any rate, I post these anniversaries so that we may remember - and in the hopes that perhaps one day we'll figure out a way to end unjust persecutions.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My kingdom for a tissue

I've been too sick lately to be my normal, mildly entertaining blogging self, so I shall resort to searches.

To the person who came here searching for "well hung military men" I say yes please!

To the person who came here searching for "cool satanic names with meaning" I say how about jackass?

To the person who came here searching for "cigarette stench" "redneck" I say not only rednecks smoke cigarettes.

To the person who came here searching for "my cat won't shut up" I say how about getting the poor critter fixed?

In other news, what would drive a person to smack someone silly with a dead chihuahua? I mean, I can understand being upset about the puppy dying and all, but using the dead puppy as a weapon has to be a first.

Everyone get ready for the first all cat reality show, to air on Animal Planet starting June 16th. There is no end, is there?

Monday, June 12, 2006

I guess I need to pick a new team

So the U.S. lost their first game in the World Cup, to the tragic beat of 3 - 0. The U.S. team didn't play altogether poorly, but they surely didn't play as well as the Czech Republic. Of course, for me I find it pretty amazing that anyone can run around a field with a ball at your feet and not constantly fall over it.

I thought the night would end in fisticuffs as my ire mounted towards a group of Greeks down the street who kept cheering every time the Czechs made a goal. Of course, the Greeks might as well pick a team who knows how to play to cheer for, since their own team didn't even make it to the World Cup.

Two more games for the U.S. on the 17th (Italy) and 22nd (Ghana). Italy will be a tough competitor for sure, I can't really speak for Ghana. Here's hoping the U.S. can manage at least one win.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The perfect storm

As dawn approached a storm drew near – not a virulent, violent tempest – a gentle, calming thunder that rolled in slowly from the sea. While the sounds rumbled overhead the dawn sky emitted the most spectacular light, as if the world was sheathed in a sheer, caramel silk. The color was alluring, sensual – the city was calling to the storm in the sea like a lustful siren

Come to me
Cover me
I am waiting

The rain fell in large, crystalline droplets, as if they carried long forgotten tears – a sailor lost at sea, a hero felled in combat - the quiet sorrow of a thousand years. The thunder boomed sonorously yet peacefully, a long lost lover emerging from Poseidon’s realm, embracing the city in the protection of sea, mountain, and sky. One last gift of Zeus, his voice whispers among the winds and the rain

I am here
I am here
I still watch over you

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Times they aren't a changin'

Today marks the anniversary of the hanging of Bridget Bishop, the first official execution of the Salem witch trials in 1692.

It is a bit spooky how things in America never change, the only difference is the cast of characters and their alleged sins.

Cats will rule the world someday

Think you are having a bad day? I feel sorry for this little bear who got chased up two trees by Jack the cat.

More evidence for my ongoing theory that cats are simply aliens waiting to take over the world.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My husband is making me sick

A week and a half ago, my husband and I arranged to have a date. Sure, a date when you're married is kinda silly, but everything we do, even plans with friends and colleagues, seems to be last minute so we thought we'd arrange a day and time and go out for dinner.

The day of our date, my husband arrived home from work cheerfully. He had a small snack then hunkered down for his usual siesta. When he woke up a couple of hours later, though, he wasn't feeling so well. I thought he was using stomach upset as a cop out on our date, but a couple of days later he was really suffering. Sore throat, coughing, runny nose, stomach issues - the whole shebang. This is what we get for scheduling a date.

A week later, my husband is almost cured, aside from a few sniffles. Today, however, I woke up with the itchiest, scratchiest throat of my life. Since my husband is working in the ER all night, I have to face my sickness alone, all the while cursing him under my breath.

I guess this is why "in sickness and in health" is in the wedding vows. Sure shootin' if one of us gets sick, the other will follow. There is no avoiding it. Still, if he didn't work in a hospital it might not be so common.

I know one thing, I'm never scheduling a date with my husband again!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What your mother-in-law doesn't tell you

Because of my husband’s vitriolic hatred of cat hair, our large apartment is divided in two parts: one part of the apartment is our normal living area - bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom - and the other part of the apartment is a large living/dining area. My husband keeps all his clothes and does his changing in the cat free zone of the apartment, and thus, his clothes are all over the place in there.

When my mother-in-law arrived for my Greek lesson today, my husband answered the door and they talked for a few minutes. When I came into the room, I mentioned with some exasperation to my mother-in-law that a tornado of my husband’s clothes was taking over the room. She said that is what they had just been talking about, and that my husband told her he was going to put all the winter clothes in the closet. I responded, laughing, that he said he would do that a month ago.

My mother-in-law shook her head sadly, and spoke with some regret, “I know”. She paused a moment, then said “I am married to his father”, with a long and resounding sigh.

Geez lady. A warning before I married your son would have been nice.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Happy Satan Day!

There is a bit of numerical interest to living at the beginning of a century - you get to see calendar dates align. We've already experienced 1 through 5 and now the sixes get their turn.

The sixes, however, generate more hullabaloo because, in triplicate, they represent the alleged sign of the alleged devil, the prince of darkness, the unholiest of the unholy, the bane of the Christian existence.

Of course, for most of us, celebrating 6.6.06 is just about having a bit of fun. Most of us don't take it seriously, because it is simply superstitious fodder. Plus if you consider the whole date, 6.6.2006, it kinda screws the whole thing up. But there are some people who are taking it a bit too seriously, making plans so they don't give birth today, counting down to the apocalypse, and so on and so forth.

Personally, I think it would be cool to have a birthday of 6.6.06, although not as cool as being born in 69. But for those women who are upset that they gave birth today, here are some helpful tips from the satirical slubberdegullions of Landover Baptist Church.

For everyone else, enjoy this once in a lifetime day of numerical alignment, and remember, it is all in good fun.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Only in Greece

I've said before that I feel the Greek law enforcement system is woefully inept. Here is some proof:

Only in Greece can you stage a prison escape BY HELICOPTER.

If they weren't dangerous criminals still on the loose, it would be almost funny.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I'm so bummed

My husband is working an ER shift on Tuesday, which means I'll have no one to celebrate 6.6.06 with!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

This is what happens when adults hate... start hating too.

In a horrible news story that has shocked Greece, five children between the ages of 11 and 13 have been connected to the murder of an 11-year-old boy in Veria.

This sort of thing used to be quite rare in Greece. However, hateful attitudes among adults seem to be on the rise in Greece, especially among nationalists and anti-immigration proponents. Unfortunately, the attitudes of adults can be reflected in the actions of children.

Obviously, we don't know all the facts of the case yet, whether or not all five children were party to the murder or simply witnesses or what the motives are. But the murder of a child, no matter where or for what reason, is the type of thing that should stop us all and make us think.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I don't think this is what the Constitution is for...

It looks like Dubya is going to back an amendment banning states from recognizing same-sex marriages on Monday. Sure, it seems unlikely that it will garner enough votes to pass through the Senate, but I think the fact that the government thinks this sort of thing is proper fodder for Constitutional amendments is worrisome.

What will be next? A ban on mixed race marriages? A ban on immigrant marriages? A ban on special needs marriages? Special requirements on marriages to make sure good gene pools are marrying? How about a ban on certain types of art, literature, music? How about a ban on certain thoughts?

An amendment banning states from recognizing same-sex marriages, even if the people of any given state support and wish to recognize same-sex marriages, seems to be crossing some boundaries I don't think we want to cross with the federal government. I'm sure I'm overreacting on some levels, but I think such a ban is cruel and unnecessary. There is absolutely no logical reason to ban same-sex marriages, except that some people just don't like the idea of it. But if we start banning things people don't like the idea of, there aren't going to be many things left.

It lives to annoy

Does the mosquito really have a living purpose other than annoying the ever holy living crap out of people? These Thessaloniki mosquitoes are hard core bitches, they get in and suck every last morsel of blood, on every last part of your body, making you look like some inhuman creation of the Planet Pox. And oh god, the itching! The itching! These bastards are making me scratch my ass in public, for god's sake.

I have experienced mosquitoes before but never like this. These mosquitoes are surely the spawns of some backwater swamp demon who is looking for a promotion. And by the way, why is it always the females of any given species who are such dirty, dirty, mean, bitchy whores?

Wait a minute, please don't answer that. I'd like to keep the worms in the can, please.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Great minds or scary in-laws?

It is one thing when you and your spouse say and think of the same things at the very same time. It is entirely another when you and your mother-in-law say the same things at the very same time.

I think I spend too much time with these people.