Tuesday, February 24, 2015


This winter has been so strange.

Normally, I curl up with books and read my way into spring, but this year, my circadian rhythm seems to be disrupted by icicles and wind-chill.  I fall asleep really early, and wake up really early--only to fall asleep again an hour or two later.

It's finally happened.  I think I'm actually hibernating.

I confess, I've spent the past two weeks trying to be cheerful about the weather, and then, sometime on ... Saturday, I think... I just snapped and began to use words like "ENOUGH" and "sucks" on a regular basis, often while looking at piles of snow and sheets of ice.

Because really, Mother Nature, it's just enough already.  It's almost MARCH now.  It's time to be a bit more mindful of that fact.  And I know, "March winds" and "like a lion, blah, blah, blah," but I say again, "ENOUGH."

My spring break is in a few weeks and if I don't see something that offers a few very clear and unambiguous hints of spring (no more of this raising the temperature 40 degrees only to drop it 50 a day later), I'm filing a formal complaint.

All this to say, I think my blogging brain has also run low on anti-freeze.  Because I'm finding it hard to think of things to blog about (besides constant complaints about the weather, and no one needs that).

So what follows will be a mish-mash of observations that have marked the past several weeks.  In the words of Bette Davis, "Buckle up.  It's gonna be bumpy ride."

I was reading Bill Streever's book, Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places, a few weeks ago.  Oddly enough, while reading Heat, I stumbled upon a description of Barrow, Alaska, the community located near the northernmost point in the United States, Point Barrow.  (Apparently, Streever also mentioned Barrow in his book, Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places, which makes total sense, but for some reason, I just blew right past it and didn't even notice.)

So, geography fun-fact--here's where Barrow is located:

Yeah.  I know.  Wow.  A total reminder that I need to just shut up about the cold and the wind chill, because some people are actually choosing to live in a place where it doesn't ever get much above 40 degrees Farenheit.

So of course I Googled "Barrow, AK" because I wanted to find out more.  The first thing I thought upon seeing a picture of Barrow was, "That place looks like that place in that movie."  (When I talk to myself, my language-skills are often sub-par.)

By "that movie," I'm referring to the movie in which a cute little girl is transformed into a vicious, blood-sucking vampire right in front of a gigantic Pepsi machine.  (Much to Josh Hartnett's dismay.)   I remember this because at the time that I was watching it, I commented to a friend that, "If I were Pepsi, I would have objected to the product placement in that scene."

Call me old-school, but I think there are some situations in which subliminal messaging may not work to your advantage.

The film I was thinking of is "30 Days of Night."  And, as it turns out, that film--or, more accurately, the graphic novel on which the film is based--is set in Barrow, AK.

Which, just so you know, tends to get about 90 days of night, in any given year.  30 days of night is being very optimistic, once you move that far north of the Arctic Circle.

In a totally different moment of enlightenment, I had a (fairly typical) conversation with my best friend about The Guess Who's song, "American Woman."  (Sidebar: if you watch a few of the "Sisters" videos made by The Kloons, you'll get a pretty good sense of the kind of conversations my best friend and I tend to have.  I think it's a function of knowing someone for 30 years or so.)

Anyway, I confessed to her that the song "American Woman" has always troubled me.  There's no context in the song for why all of the women of the US are being lumped together in this way and then painted as some kind of ... well, I don't know what, really.

I can't imagine that anyone out there is unfamiliar with the song, but if you are, here are the lyrics.

I told my friend, "It seems to me that if he's had a bad dating experience with an American woman, then fine, I can understand that, but I don't see what her citizenship had to do with it, and the song certainly doesn't explain or clarify that.  So I'm left wondering, what exactly does he plan to do?  Not date American women anymore?  Is that really fair?  Is he really willing to openly declare himself to be that narrow-minded?"

So my best friend clarified that she thought--and she emphasized that she wasn't absolutely certain about this--but that she thought that the song was supposed to be referencing the Vietnam War.  Not... dating.

My response: "It is?"

Her reply: "Yes, I think so."

My response: "But why call it 'American Woman'?  They're blaming Vietnam on American women, now?  When did that start?"

Her reply: "Well, I think it's because, you know, the nation is a woman.  Symbolically."

My response: "It is?"  (A brief pause.)  "Do the current members of Congress know this?"

So this sent me off on another Googling expedition, and I must say, my Barrow-search was far more satisfying.  Because the writer of the song "American Woman" has apparently tried to argue that the song isn't meant to be misogynist or anti-American at all.  He claims he "just wrote it."

Hunh.  I must say, I'm willing to give all kinds of artistic licence to pretty much everyone, but I really think you're going to be hard pressed to argue that a song with lines like "American Woman, get away from me" is not designed to diss or reflect negatively on either Americans or women.

Just saying.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."