Sunday, January 20, 2008


(Suzanne Pleshette and Tippi Hedren in "The Birds")

I am saddened to hear of the death of Suzanne Pleshette, who would have turned 71 at the end of this month. We've had a chance to see her recently on TV reminiscence shows about Bob Newhart, and probably that role is the one for which she will remain best known. But those of us who carried a crush on her since childhood remember her particularly as closeted lesbian schoolteacher Annie Hayworth in The Birds, whose "death by crows" was likely intended by Hitchcock as a symbolic punishment for imaginary deviance.

Ten years ago, I wrote a slash piece of fiction for a proposed book of dyke sex scenes between Golden Age Of TV Female Stars. The book was never published, but I had a lot of fun imagining Mary Tyler Moore moving from Minneapolis to Chicago and coming out with Emily Hartley. Suzanne Pleshette wore a plum-colored velvet pantsuit. And was the top, of course.

A funny, smart, powerful, talented, and drop-dead gorgeous woman, our Suzanne. We'll miss you.

(Thanks to Shadocat for letting me know about this loss.)

In local (Austin, Texas) news, Uri Horesh, a University of Texas lecturer of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, has begun a hunger strike after the university refused to budge on its policy not to extend spousal benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of employees. Horesh said "The fact that the university is conducting itself in this manner makes me feel like I'm a persona non grata here, a person whose rights are less important than others."

According to the Austin American-Statesman, "The university has pursued neither his original complaint nor an appeal, citing state law, which prohibits state institutions from recognizing same-sex unions. The university's nondiscrimination policy prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but Horesh's complaint could not be pursued because 'to provide him with the remedy he sought would mean that the university would be violating state law,' said Linda Millstone, UT's associate vice president for institutional equity and workforce diversity. 'I and other administrators are not unsympathetic to his concerns. The issue of providing benefits in today's society is critically important in the recruitment and retention of employees, faculty, (and) staff.'"

The paper reports "Horesh, who as of Tuesday afternoon had consumed only water and vitamins for about 40 hours, said he intends to fulfill 'all my duties (at UT) to the extent that my health will allow. I'm not going to start eating until this matter is resolved or I'm taken to the hospital. Whatever happens first.'"
("Office at Night" by Edward Hopper)

In a similar story, Deb Price (out lesbian columnist for the Detroit Free Press) points out "A tsunami of empty desks is about ready to pound Uncle Sam. Largely due to baby boomer retirements, the federal government is going to lose a third of its full-time work force during the next five years, according to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. That's a staggering 530,000 workers." She goes on to say "And that's a reality at the heart of bipartisan congressional legislation to offer partners of gay federal workers the same benefits, including health insurance, provided to spouses of married heterosexuals."

Twenty senators -- one-fifth of the Senate -- are co-sponsoring the legislation. They include both front-runners in the Democratic presidential race, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the lesbian Democrat from Wisconsin, introduced the bill on the House side.

If you're interested, contact your Congressfolks and tell 'em to get behind this bill.

(Members of "Heterosexuals for Mandatory Marriage" listen as the Vermont Marriage Advisory Council held a public forum on the topic of marriage at the University of Vermont's Davis Center in Burlington on Saturday, January 19, 2008; Liza Cowan is in the mink hat and chartreuse scarf -- photo and copyright by Glenn Russell, Burlington Free Press)

Delicious news from Liza Cowan in Burlington, Vermont: "Yesterday some nutjob Heritage Foundation morons held a public forum on Heterosexual Marriage. A bunch of us went as Heterosexuals for Mandatory Marriage (hmm), and did our best to disrupt the proceedings in a theatrical manner."

The Burlington Free Press's article doesn't share any of the details about Liza's group (whose antics may have gone over their heads), but we can simply imagine...

From the Associated Press via, "In an effort to help Sen. Larry Craig, the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that people who have sex in public bathrooms have an expectation of privacy."

As a dissenting voice in the lesbian/gay community, I have to object: Privacy for what? Bathroom functions, certainly. Privacy as to my identity, genital appearance, gender identity, absolutely. But privacy for sexual activity? I don't agree that I've extended my consent to others to have sex in public bathrooms. And, vehemently, I don't want any child under my care to be exposed to adult sexual activity in public environments. I want the ability to control what versions of adult sexuality my child is witnessing until they are developmentally old enough to process the information.

This is a no-win stance for queers to take, supporting the right to public sex between any genders or orientation. The most successful wedge used to stop passage of the Equal Rights Amendment was the lie (from Phyllis Schafley, predominantly) that the ERA would mandate unisex bathrooms. A great majority of women do not want to have to share bathrooms with men. (Yes, even in their own homes, if they have the option.) Male sexuality and biology as it is expressed in America tends to be intrusive and uninterested in the expression of an equal, independent female sexuality. We need more room from it as it currently exists, not less.

If, as a movement, we are to get behind the option of safe bathroom space for transgender folk (which we absolutely should), we're going to have to be open to respecting those who want sexuality removed from the vulnerable setting of emptying our bowels and bladder. It doesn't have to be bundled together.

(Europa Polyglotta, published in 1730 by Gottfried Hensel, located at Strange Maps)

Sara Robinson over at Group News Blog has a great post, Just to put it in perspective... which shows map wherein U.S. states are renamed for countries with similar GDP's. It's a great read, but even better, it turned me on to Strange Maps. As a cartophile, I've begun trawling their unique and beautiful creations. The one above combines my passion for maps with my passion for language! Hist, Maoist Orange Cakers!

The Daily Green (Consumer's Guide to the Green Revolution) is offering us "4 Best Web Tools to Help You Eat Local: A Quick and Dirty Guide to Sourcing Local and Seasonal Eats Via the Web".

A synopsis of their tips are:
1. Map Your Course of Action.
2. Find Your Farmers, Family Farms, Community Supported Agriculture Programs (CSAs), and Food Co-ops.
3. Find a Restaurant That Sources Only Local Foods.
4. Find Your Inner Farmer.

Click on the link above for excellent details.

(Another LOLcat from little gator.)

In a similar vein, if you eat a lot of fish (like Ginny Bates) and are concerned about which seafood is sustainable, you can call the Fish Phone from the Blue Ocean Institute via text message at 30644 and get an instant answer. You can also download a copy of their Blue Ocean’s Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood to view at any time. SNAPper!

Not for the arachnophobe: After scissors and all manner of metal tools began to be confiscated from airline travelers by the TSA, artist Christopher Locke began buying these seized items and turning them into sculptures of spiders. Check 'em out at his website Christopher Locke's Heartless Machine. He's also got bug made from pieces of multi-tools and Swiss Army Knives that were likewise confiscated by the TSA.

(Quote from Hilda Gutierrez-Baldoquin)

If I've failed to address things uppermost on your mind this week, you can use the service offered by the Zen Center of Cleveland's Cloudwater Zendo and go there to Ask a Monk. This is a serious offer. Their website states:

"The historical Buddha Shakyamuni is said to have 'turned the Wheel of Dharma' when he decided to share his Compassion and Wisdom with all beings so as to enable them to end their suffering. The traditional way of requesting a Ch'an or Buddhist teacher to answer one's questions about teachings or practice is known as Turning the Wheel. All questions, whether general or specific in nature, will be given respectful consideration by a qualified Buddhist teacher as time permits."

(Image by little gator.)


shadocat said...

You're welcome Maggie. I also had a HUGE cush on her as a kid...Remember her in "Nevada Smith"? All the other girls were all googly-eyed over Steve McQueen, but I only had eyes for Suzanne. I was totally shocked when they said on "George Stephanopolous"(sp?) that she had died---I knew she had lung cancer, but last I heard, she was doing well.

GAWD I wish I'd been there to see the Hets for Mandatory Marriage group! That sounds like great fun...

Maggie Jochild said...

Yeah, Shado, according to her press folks, the cancer had been contained -- guess not, though, if she died of respiratory failure. A crappy way to go. She, her husband Tom Poston, and the husband before that were all smokers and all died of lung cancer or related ailments. Damn.

And -- I'm hoping either Liza or someone else from the HMM group will come here and post their Manifesto, which apparently got read aloud but not entirely understood as satire by the wingnut presenters. One thing I did hear about is that every time the presenters said the term "heterosexual marriage", the HMM group burst into applause and ladylike cries of approval. Must have been hysterical.

Maggie Jochild said...

And let me add here -- I think we should take a good look at the brilliance of this protest action by the HMM. Understanding the lie and using humor or art to reframe the discourse is not just FAR MORE effective at stopping the lie, it is often the ONLY way to do so.

In my Broad Cast of September 8, Reality or Real-Lite, I quoted from an article in the Washington Post about research and writing which is demonstrating that once the myth is in place, efforts to dislodge it when refer to it only serve to reinforce it. Per a conversation I had with Jesse Wendel at Group News Blog this weekend, whoever frames the issue first tends to have the upper hand. Because of how the human brain works, the only practical means of undoing myth (especially for people who value faith above intellect, following authority above independent thought) is to outflank it with, yup, the mechanism of laughter and a vivid alternative image like theater.

kat said...

an expectation of privacy while you have anonymous sex in an airport bathroom????? seriously?????

jeezus, that's messed up.

Yes, I'd love to hear Liza's report. Should be great.

Blue said...

Yeah, I don't much want Rocky in a restroom with people f#@!ing in there.

I like the dancing goat.


kat said...

yeah, what about the privacy of the folks in the other stalls?
not to mention comfort...