Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last night, the Balabusta settled down with Frida, the famous Salma-Hayek-as-Frida-Kahlo biopic-as-soft-porn extravaganza that was treated as a revelation from heaven by all the Balabusta's Frida-worshipping homegirls when it came out, and which she had nevertheless managed to avoid seeing until last night. When Netflix delivered it into her hands, and she settled down and enjoyed.
Some things about Frida:

1. Salma Hayek is a very, very, very pretty woman, much prettier than Frida Kahlo actually was.

2. The movie is also very pretty. Lavish color, hot people, and of course, Frida's over-the-top Mexican folk-costume clothes.

3. The politics are very meh. Soft-pedalled. And if I was Mrs. Trotsky, I would ice-picked Frida.
4. When Frida first demands Diego Rivera's opinion of her work, she tells him that she has to make money to help her family, and that she can't afford to waste time being a vanity painter. Years and years later she's living as Diego's wife/muse, and has sold four paintings. It doesn't quite add up, unless she meant 'help my family until I get married to a Communist painter'.
5. The scene where Rockefeller confronts Rivera about his portrait of Lenin on the Rockefeller Center fresco was much cooler in Cradle Will Rock. ("Leh-neen STAYS!")

Now, the thing about the Balabusta and Frida, besides the fact that her work was DROOLED over by all the girls I went to college with, and I actually like Rivera's much better, is this--I had always been told her father was Jewish, and I always counted her as a yiddishe kuzine, although I wished she'd give it a bit more of a nod in her paintings. Actually, it sort of annoyed me. Yet another Jewish woman running around the twentieth century, without a nod to the Jewish world...
I remember, for some reason, being irrationally offended by some woman ranting on in an essay in Colonize This! about white girls being obsessed with Frida, with her woman-of-color unibrow, because she is so exotic to us, so wild and untamed...riiiiiiiight. And please note, as evidenced above, that the unibrow actually comes from the Hungarian side of the family. I don't have five pairs of tweezers for no reason, zeiskeit.
Anyway, after all, it turns out that Mr. Kahlo probably wasn't Jewish. (The unibrow, however, seems to be authentic.) So, hmmph. There it is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop. 8 Stands, So Do Existing Marriages

Back in the fall, when I started at St. Dymphna, several families at our very Catholic school were planning weddings.

I got to hear about one of them during the freshman orientation. The uncle of one of our freshman girls was going to have a formal wedding to the man he'd been with for some years. She was thrilled, because she was going to be in the wedding party. This meant she got to wear a long dress, and heels, and her mom had said she could wear her hair up and get her makeup and nails done professionally. Oh, and also she was going to get to do one of the Gospel readings, which was nice, but obviously not as nice to a fourteen-year-old girl as professional makeup and wedding cake.

More casually, I got to hear about the wedding plans of another gay uncle, from his nephew, who was also going to do a Scripture reading, but had no plans to get his makeup done. It was that nephew who breezed into class on the Tuesday California voted Proposition 8 into law, and told me that his uncle and the uncle's young man had gone to City Hall Monday afternoon and gotten married, on a hunch that they should do it while the doing was good. The formal wedding was still on, but they had the paperwork.

I'm glad the existing marriages stand legally. I feel sad for the people left in the cold, angry at how hard this is. Who profits if people who love one another can't get married?

I don't know if the court could have done anything else legitimately. But I hate this precedent. We get to vote now, on who gets access to legal rights? Whooo, boy. Not a good idea.

I'm glad Shimon's uncle got married in time. I wish it hadn't been, as a man on the news this morning said, a limited time offer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

American History Rethunk

I've been reading David McCullough's biography of John Adams since, I think, last fall--I started reading it, and then stopped, and then started from the beginning, and I actually think I may finish it this week. It's filled in a lot of my knowledge of the Revolution, and is generally interesting, but the parts I have found most intriguing have had to do with the Adamses' attitudes about slavery. They were staunch anti-slavery folks, these Massachusetts Puritan types, and McCullough gives some interesting insights as to how this affected their world view, for example, mentioning Abigail's fear at one point that the war effort will fail because the colonies have permitted the sin of slavery.

Much later in the book, when the Adamses are living in London, Abigail goes to see Sarah Siddons as Desdemona in Othello. (MA puritans though they may have been, the Adamses liked theater, and since there were none in Boston, living in Europe was a chance to rock out.)

McCullough writes:

To Abigail, Mrs. Siddons was brilliant but miscast as Lady Macbeth. It was
in Othello, as Desdemona, that she was "interesting beyond any actress
I had ever seen."

Yet to read of Desdemona in the arms of a black man was, Abigail found, not
the same as seeing it before her eyes. "Othello was represented blacker than any
African," she wrote. Whether it was from "the prejudices of education" or from a
"natural antipathy", she knew not, "But my whole soul shuddered whenever I saw
the sooty heretic Moor touch the fair Desdemona." Othello was "manly, generous,
noble" in character, so much that was admirable. Still, she could not separate
the color from the man.

What I find fascinating is that she tries to, and feels disturbed that she can't. I suppose I'm projecting later ideas about race onto poor Abigail Adams, but I find it both interesting and informative that an eighteenth-century American woman (granted, one with a rock-solid anti-slavery bias) would feel bothered by the idea that she couldn't be open-minded enough to feel comfortable with interracial romance.

Apparently, while Thomas Jefferson was shuttling his kids around Europe, his daughter Polly ended up staying with the Adamses in London for a while, along with the soon-to-be-infamous Sally Hemings, who was at the time fourteen and non-infamous. Abigail was somewhat thrown off--she thought Sally was far too young to be taking care of Jefferson's daughter, and she'd never had a slave living under her roof before or since. One wonders what she made of it when the Jefferson/Hemings scandale later hit the papers.

Bishop's Holiday

I get a four-day weekend, because in addition to Memorial Day, the school is having a 'bishop's holiday', an extra day off from school granted to the kids by our local bishop as part of the celebration of St. Dymphna's patron saint's feast day.

It feels good.

I've been to two job interviews so far. One mediocre, one pretty good, I thought.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Well, I'm job hunting...again

At least this time I can blame the economy, rather than insane administrators.

I hate job hunting. I hate ANNUAL job hunting. This will make the fourth summer in a row I have been job hunting, and let me tell you, folks, this is starting to wear thin.