Of Meat And Men

I just read Julie Powell's second memoir, Cleaving. It's about learning how to be a butcher while she cheats on her husband. Or tries to get over cheating on her husband. Whatever. My verdict: the bits about the meat are good. Clear voice, fun recipes, compelling. The bits about the men? I don't care. And the bits where she tries to find meaning and metaphor about the men in the meat? Irritating. I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the whole book because of it. I did, and could have done without the whole last travel section as well. But the bits about the meat more or less made up for it.

My initial reaction was actually a lot more harsh - I said some mean things about her while I was reading, wanting her to focus on the interesting stuff and leave the forced introspection out of it. I had a similar reaction to the Julie & Julia movie (I didn't read the book) - I like the Julia bits, not so much the Julie bits. But now that I've sat with it a bit, she's grown on me some. It's her memoir, so she's entitled to write about whatever she wants. (kind of like blogging, no? Which is where she got started, after all. But I doubt I'll be reading that anytime soon.) And it's her life, to fuck up or fix up however she wants. I just wish I didn't have to read about so much of it.

Like: she starts with an interesting description of how to take apart a pig, and then goes off on the symbolism of how the flesh (aka she and her lover) clings to itself and has to be pried apart carefully to avoid tearing a ragged edge...blah blah. Get back to the juicy stuff. More meat, less men!


Choose Your Own Amendment

You're walking down the street on a sunny day when you spot someone who looks out of place. This person is loitering and anxiously looking around. He is wearing a funny cap on his head and is darker than most people who live in this area. If you: go up to him and ask in a friendly way if he needs help, turn to page 32. If you: check your bag to make sure your concealed weapon is loaded before calling a buddy for backup, turn to page 57.

PAGE 32: Well done! He just needed to find a public restroom he could use. You are a kind human being that offers us all hope for the future. Live long and prosper. Go forth and multiply.
PAGE 57: Good job! You scared him so badly he peed in the street, splashing your shoes. You are the antithesis of all that America stands for. Go directly to jail (or better yet, to school), do not pass Start, do not collect $200.

Selected Amendments, as interpreted by the squeaky wheels we love to hate:

The First? Only when it applies to me!
The Second? Hell yeah!
The Fourteenth? We don't need that no more.

And while we're at it, let's write a few more that will redefine the world to fit our narrow-minded perspective. (Is this where both sides whip out Leviticus to prove a point?) Apparently only a few red-blooded patriots really know what the Founding Fathers had in mind. God forbid any of the rest of us actually read the Constitution.

Oh, how the blood boils. It makes me inarticulate. The worst of it may be how poorly this represents our people, but you'd never know it from what you see in the media. (except Jon Stewart, of course, peace be upon him) Hearst created a war out of nothing (ok, not nothing, I'm oversimplifying history to support my point, just like everyone else) and it's happening again, people lining up to take sides over issues that didn't even exist until the flames were fueled by the Fox flock.

And the so-called "Mosque at Ground Zero"? Neither a mosque nor at ground zero. What a good opportunity for peacemaking and community-building that's getting twisted around until it will only end badly. Let's fight more wars - after all, what else do we have those guns for?!

I don't know about you, but when I chose my own adventure, more often than not, I ended up dead. Unless I cheated and looked at all the options until I found the happy ending. It was always there to be found.


Parenting Advice from a Jackass

It was too windy to read the paper in the park today, so I ended up listening to a nearby phone conversation while hanging out with the boy. (Ok, yes, I would probably have listened in anyway.) He was going on and on about all sorts of things, interrupting himself now and then to yell at his kid. Here's the nugget of wisdom he had to share, loudly:

If your seven-year-old keeps pooping his pants, you should make him wear them on his head and (I quote) "smell that shit all day until he learns not to do it again." If you don't have the heart for that, you don't let him out to play and you be sure to tell his friends why.

He also talked about a girl he knew who was scrawny because she was a junkie, but could drink anyone under the table and win bets. They'd split the cash. He was real proud of that. Delightful, no? I admit he sort of endeared himself to me when he talked about the dirty hippies who won't get a job and don't wash their hair. He was most upset about how bad dreadlocks smell, except for this one hot chick he knew with platinum dreads - all the rest remind him of his cat's hairballs.

On a vaguely related note (well, not related to hairballs), I came across some equally revolting parenting advice in the classic manual "What to Expect: The First Year." In a listing of games to play with little ones, they included this rhyme: "Clap hands, clap hands, till daddy comes home, cause daddy has money and mommy has none."

Yeah, you read that right. Welcome to parenthood, ladies and gentlemen.