Tuesday, January 19, 2010

michael didn't do it

for this important, not-quite-breaking news about michael jackson, samara will be guest blogging. take it away, samara:

"If Michael Jackson didn't molest kids the world needs to know this so they will leave him alone and stop dogging him around because he's dead and thats just ignorant. I knew michael didn't do it. Ever since my step dad and step brother told me that he did when i was in kindergarten and wanted to go to neverland... a lot, I never actually believed it. Read this article and tell everybody you know so the world knows the truth!" -Samara B.

thank you, samara. let it simmer with l-o-v-e!

Monday, January 18, 2010

the female youth market

thanks to the media ed doc consuming kids, i heard about an organization called the g.i.a., or "girls intelligence agency." this is so fucked up. they get young girls to conduct market research by hosting shopping trips and slumber parties for them. all of the information gathered by "agents" gets funneled to corporations so they can better manipulate this demographic, thereby increasing profits.

here is a snippet of their mission statement: "g.i.a. provides the girls a place to voice their opinions, make a statement or simply to text and im with other like minded agents. during these sessions, analysts listen to their music, watch their body language, and hear how they relate and communicate with friends... we connect with girls on a deep and continuous level, forging a working relationship with the target audience from the beginning."

visit their website to read more appalling details of their operation.

doesn't this sound really porny? "40,000 g.i.a. secret agents are on call nationwide, ready to invite you into their bedrooms, to hang out with their closest friends and give you candid feedback on your concept, product and brand."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

louis wain

here is a nice little video tribute to louis wain, painter of cats:

esther teichmann

i wanted to post some of esther teichmann's photographs, thinking that i could just link to something brilliant that lexi wrote, but as it turns out, she didn't have all that much to say about them. i don't actually have all that much to say about them either, except that i find them beautiful and calming. the figures are so still, the camera so close to them, giving us permission to look without their knowing, to gently witness moments of introspection, repose and privacy, almost like we are entrusted with and ennobled by them. against black backgrounds, the bodies are illuminated, not exactly sacred... i would like to embody the aesthetic of these images, to be so fully within myself, so solid, so trusting, so pure.

she also has an interesting series of people half-submerged in dark dark water, inspired by early experiences with night swimming:

"the night air is cool, the water warm as blood, and diving into its centre is simultaneously terrifying and exalting..." ~esther teichmann

Thursday, January 14, 2010


since i started my culture jamming group at r*nfrew, i've been keeping an eye out for interesting resources to aid in media literacy education. one of the most helpful resources i've found is the media education foundation, whose stated mission is to "produce and distribute documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical reflection on the social, political, and cultural impact of american mass media." all of their films are viewable in their entirety online and available for purchase through the foundation. some of the more interesting ones were created by sut jhally, founder of media ed. these include "the codes of gender," a documentary about gender construction in commercial advertising, based on the ideas of sociologist erving goffman, and "dreamworlds 3," about "the pornographic imagination" in music videos. i find these films far more engaging and intelligent than anything else i've seen on the topic, such as jean kilbourne's work (kind of nauseating) or the dove "realbeauty" campaign (so condescending and hypocritical!). one of the things i like is that he doesn't emphasize "body image" and "beauty ideals," so much as the "stories that the media tell us about those things." they do a really nice job, for instance, of lifting the veil off of glamour photography, revealing the messages contained therein about femininity as subordinate, defenseless and child-like. on monday, when i screened "the codes of gender" for my group, i had them choose advertisements with images of women that they liked. before showing the film, they described to one another how they liked the clothes, the beauty, the expressions, etc. after the film, i asked them to revisit their pictures and describe what they saw. it was pretty remarkable - like i had reprogrammed them in the course of an hour. they were talking about the positions of the women in the pictures as conveying powerlessness, how they seemed disengaged from their environments, posed in unbalanced and ungrounded ways. in "dreamworlds 3," jhally examines "the degradation and control of women that has colonized commercial culture." what's really refreshing is that he doesn't condemn the imagery, he merely underscores how limited of a view it is, and examines the function that this view plays for the corporations. it is a visual analysis that goes well beyond "the beauty myth," highlighting the meaning and influence of specific visual tropes that are used over and over again until they seem "normal." i think i might be presenting on my group at the neda conference in october!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

paint your tv

got an old broken-down tele lying around? or perhaps a fully functioning tele that you've simply had enough of? why not paint it? it's fun and subversive and makes a kick-ass centerpiece for any room. samara and i painted our tele with all our favorite pop culture icons. check it out:

these are the players.

buffy and angel forever:

samara's first husband, heath ledger and some meerkats from the lion king 1 1/2:

vampire edward cullen, being staked by a totoro:

wall*e, as seen in the 2008 pixar sensation wall*e:

prince, circa "purple rain", looking rather angry. samara and i thought about making a stencil of his face here and painting it onto the front doors of all our new neighbors as a way of introducing ourselves:

barack and michelle obama, dancing at the inaugural neighborhood ball, as beyonce sang "at last":

who else? you can't have a tele painting without mj in it!

ralphie parker, played by peter billingsley in a christmas story. here he has just received pink bunny pajamas from his aunt clara. his father remarks that he looks like a "deranged easter bunny":

balto and jenna, husky heroes, with eva flying by:

a delightfully unlikely pairing of the great jacque tati as monsieur hulot and a michael jackson-loving king kong:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

agenbite of inwit

a memory: in k4, ms. watson asks the class if anyone can figure out what 13 plus 13 is. i add them in my head and come up with 26, but when i look around and see that no one else has figured it out, i assume that my answer must be wrong. after all, if it was that easy, everyone would have gotten it. i do feel the impulse to raise my hand, but my insecurity is too great. so ms. watson tempts me one more time - "no one can figure it out?" my heart is pounding in my chest. and then she announces that the answer is 26. i feel angry and betrayed. a missed opportunity to impress the teacher. now she thinks i am like everyone else, unable to solve a simple equation. all because of my tragic error in thinking that other people know very much more than me. that if they can't answer a simple question, it's because their thinking is more advanced than mine. this pretty much sums up my experience of academia (up until and including my ulysses class).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

charlotte for ever!!!

omg - so excited! charlotte gainsbourg is coming to town! i haven't been to the tla in ages. i missed the hidden cameras a couple months back... i'm not making that same mistake again. yay! je t'aime charlotte!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

rules to live by

i've been thinking a lot lately about my shoulds. i live with a set of instructions designed to bridge the gap between zoe as i dream her and zoe as she is (sheba hart). perfect zoe does lots of wonderful things. she listens attentively, stretches every morning, drinks lots of water and flosses her teeth. she sees all the important films and keeps a dream journal. she does full moon rituals and keeps her house very clean and lovely. she slathers her feet with shea butter before putting on her socks in the morning and never eats processed food.

actual zoe resembles perfect zoe in certain ways, but she often becomes anxious and fatigued. she picks at her cuticles and compulsively checks her email. sometimes she can't figure out how to live and wonders if this is terribly abnormal. she catalogues and hordes and intoxicates her reptilian brain with alphabetizing and tweezing. she makes list after list after list, often delighting more in the crossing off of a thing than her actual engagement with it.
what about you? what rules do you create for yourself? how well do you abide by them? what happens if you break one? what is your image of your ideal self and how does it differ from the way you live most of the time?

Friday, January 1, 2010

top ten films of 2009

1) the white ribbon
2) the beaches of agnes
3) inglourious basterds
4) anti-christ
5) adoration
6) a serious man
7) the messenger
8) this is it
9) 35 shots of rum
10) julia

bright star was beautiful, big fan was almost great but it punked out after a phenomenal build-up, in the loop was hilarious and frightening, little ashes was unbelievably sexy, ponyo was adorable, two lovers was touching, the box was trippy and creative, gamer was totally awesome, herb and dorothy was a worthwhile documentary and bruno, the hangover and next day air were all very funny.

best actor: matt damon in the informant!
best actresses: monique in precious, tilda swinton in julia, charlotte gainsbourg in anti-christ

ereshkigal's domain

these two passages are saying basically the same thing, but they are both so scintillating that i can't choose which one to post:

"it is the place of the powerlessness of chaotic and numb or unchanneled affect, the lonely grief-rage of powerlessness and unassuaged loss and longing, a hellish place where all we know to do is useless thus there is no known way out of the despair. we can only endure, barely conscious, barely surviving the pain and powerlessness, suspended out of life, stuck, until and if, some act of grace with some new wisdom arrives. such raw, impersonal, though potentially initiating miseries are ereshkigal's domain."

"when we are reduced to the depths of numb pain and depression, to timelessness, preverbal chaos and emotionality – all that we call awful or infantile and associate with the archaic dimensions of consciousness – we can know that the goddess we must serve and revere is ereshkigal.”