She's a Real Mother

Mutha's got eyes in the back of her head.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bright Green Wrapper

I was watching one child of mine play baseball while trying to keep track of the younger child playing on an adjacent playground. I turned my attention to playground-child in time to watch him size-up the jump from a platform to a overhead bar.

"He won't do it," I thought to myself, "He knows it's too far and too high."

Only to see him take off, fall, and lay still.

There is nothing like the timespan it takes to run to a hurt child.

When I got to him and he did sit up, he held his left wrist in his right hand as if it were a hurt bird he found.

"Why did you do it?" I asked.

"Because sometimes I think I can do things I can't," he reported.

What a sober answer. He is the owner of courage and the ability to clearly assess a lost. Some day this will feel handy. But not so much today:

The first day of summer vacation, with a bright green wrapper around a wrist that is indeed fractured.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Girls, Get Out Your Ya-Yas

I am so sick of hearing top ten (even twenty) lists of albums, songs, artists, etc and hearing all male names or bands void of women. Boring AND bullshit to boot. I have pulled together a list of must-have albums that are by women or bands that include women, AND I managed to do this without including Joan Jett, Pat Benetar or Heart. They can go on your list if you like, but to me, they prove one thing: just cause women did it, don't make it good. Here's the other end of that spectrum.

The Pretenders, The Pretenders II
I saw the Pretenders in concert in the 90's and after a kick-ass rendition of Bad Boys Get Spanked, Chrissie Hynde commented, "Not bad for a girl guitar player." Nope, not bad at all.

Aretha Franklin, Thirty Greatest Hits
I once dated a man that loved this women so much, he was determined to name a girl child Aretha and a boy child Franklin. Few dispute that Aretha is a diva of soul, but she is often overlooked as a musician. If you hear a strong piano line in any of her songs, odds are that is her at the keyboard.

Janice Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Live
Too often Joplin is best remembered only for Pearl, the album released after her death. As great as her studio work is, there is simply nothing like how the woman sounded live, and this album can prove it to you.

Joni Mitchell, Blue
If there is one singer/songwriter who is consistently paid less respect that she deserves, it is Mitchell. Countless musicians and singers name her as an influence and yet she is often lumped in to some vague folk/jazz mish-mash and overlooked all together. I suggest picking anyone of her albums, but Blue marked a level of power in her songwriting that is a wonder to behold.

The Velvet Underground, Loaded
Lots of people forget or never find out that the VU's drummer was a chick, Maureen Tucker. Moe is also the owner of that irresistible baby-doll voice featured in some of VU's most endearing tracks. But, at the end of the day, she was the one that kept up with Lou and the boys from beginning to end. No small task for man, woman, or beast.

The Pixies, Surfer Rosa
Black Francis is the big front man, but this band's unique sound owes just as much to the bassist and vocalist Kim Deal. On the Boston scene, she made it cool to have a girl in your band -- especially one that might do something more than shake a tambourine and her money maker.

Hole, Live Through This
Courtney Love has apparently lost her mind, but before she did -- and before her husband offed himself -- she made this album with her band, Hole. Comparisons to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were, of course, inevitable, but it's too bad this album is often overlooked because of that. Why? Because it rocks harder and spits out more interesting lyrics than any other female-lead band (sorry, save Chrissie -- see #1 on this list).

Rickie Lee Jones, Pirates
She has so many strong albums, but this is her first. It offered her fans the first chance to fall in love with her versatile, expressive voice and her vivid, often heartbreaking lyrics. One of my favorites: "He spoke fluently blond from her legs to her cigarette."

Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
In her debut album, Liz came out with guns blazin and took no prisoners. She talked about sex so frankly it was disarming, especially to male listeners. Salt-N-Pepper had talked about wanting to have a guy's baby and later Missy Elliott and Li'l Kim would detail positions for listeners, but when this album came out in the 90's no one was much used to white girls talking like that. Plus she knows her way a round a guitar.

The Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
The first woman musician I ever worshipped was Tina Weymouth, the bassist of the Talking Heads. With a face like a teen-aged girl and ability to dance while she played (ever notice how still most bass players are? shhh! I'm counting! It's a skill) she laid down some of the most interesting rhythm tracks of the 70's, 80's and 90's. Check out any one of their albums for a sample, but this one has some of my favorites, including I'm Not In Love, Thank You For Sending Me an Angel, and Take Me to the River.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Worst Case of Side-Kick-Itis

There used to be a cartoon called the Tick. It featured a superhero by the same name and his side-kick, Arthur who dressed as a moth. In one episode, the superheroes all have their own bar, while the side-kicks have a lounge, which looks like the trailers parked behind schools for extra temporary classrooms. Illustrating what we all know: it sucks to be a side-kick.

I was thinking of that lounge recently for the strangest reason. I happened to be wondering what it was like to be Judas. Yeah, Judas -- from the bible. How many Judas' are there, afterall? As I heard a bible scholar say recently, "You wouldn't even name your dog Judas."

Perhaps it is this consensus that Judas is the worst villain of all time that has made certain folks go after a different perspective. Antje Duvekot has a beautiful song describing Judas as a misunderstood, abused kid. She sings,
Jesus, he was a school yard martyr
was every mother's perfect son.
Not like Judas
In the back of the school bus
Invisible to everyone.

Then there is the Judas of The Last Temptation of Christ. Harvey Keitel is a frustrated Judas, one that loves but can't figure this Jesus guy out. He is left to wonder: One minute it's the love thing and then the next, you're going to die? And you want me to what?

Clysta Kinster's book The Moon Under Her Feet is a retelling of the Jesus story, in which Mary Magdalene is finally portrayed as something other than a whore -- and what's more, Judas is Jesus' twin in body and in purpose. The notion is put forward that Jesus needed Judas and indeed asked him to alert the cops, so that the prophecy of his fate could be sealed.

Now, The Gospel According to Judas hits air and word is the man had his own side of the story to tell -- suggesting perhaps, that there's more to talk about.

This has made me wonder: Can the Christian world stand a different version? What will they do with no Judas to hate? Centuries of disgust with no where else to go?

All I know is that I believe this new version of Judas. I think the poor guy was stuck in the trailer with Moth Boy/Arthur -- only Judas had the most thankless job: turning in his superhero buddy.

The worst case of side-kick-itis ever.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One Mutha of a Film Festival, Day 5

So far my very own Film Festival has given you the "Must Have" day, the Men, the Kids, and the Rock and Roll. But Mutha would never forget the women! How could Mutha do that to you? Call Day Five Femme Fest, because these movies shall all feature women who need you to sit back and think them over for a minute...No! Don't turn your back on them, you might be sorry.

Mildred Pierce
As if Joan Crawford's eyebrows aren't enough to worry a soul, the woman is shot in such extreme light and shoulder pads in this one that she'll scare you even when she's supposed to be happy. But when seeking out Joan, what could be more fabulous! Crawford is amazing in this film noir about a crooked husband's murder and the price women pay if they become (gasp) successful business owners.

Norma Rae
Alright, alright! I loved the Flying Nun so much when I was little that I used to run around my backyard pretending to fly and talk to the Reverend Mother. I admit it! But that is not why Sally Field is here. It's because she kicks ass in this movie. Instead of a full-blown saint/martyr, Norma Rae is an imperfect, factory-working, single mom who sleeps with the wrong guys -- and Sally plays her gritty, frightened, lovable, and very real.

Bull Durham
And I don't even like Kevin Costner. Then why Bull Durham? Because I love baseball and I love Susan Sarandon. Her character Annie is a quasi-intellectual Southern Belle turned hardball guru. I tell you, there is nothing like her explaining how the game has to be embraced as a non-linear experience. But another reason why her character is such a memorable one is because she is a woman beyond her twenties who has a real sexual appetite and is not a homicidal freak on the side (see: Fatal Attraction). Imagine that.

Harold and Maude
This cult film about suicide and the difficulty of having a really good blind date is great for so many reasons, but none out shine Ruth Gordon. Her Maude is the splash of life in the otherwise morose experience of a lost young man (played by Bud Cort, who is also fantastic). And yet, just as the part could be presented as simplistically sunny, the plot turns and Gordon pulls out her incredible ability to play scenes almost entirely in her eyes and face. Worth obsessive renting from the video store.

African Queen
Yeah, well -- Kate Hepburn had to be here somewhere, right? There are many stories about the making of this film including real bodily harm, different accounts on how well the stars got along, who was drunk, who got malaria, but in the end -- how wrong could you go with Hepburn and Bogart? Kate is beguiling in this role because she begins the story as a shy woman of God and ends up screwing up the Nazis in the arms of Bogey himself. Warning: Leeches!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Naughty Chicken

I was in an elementary school the other day and the kids were all very eager to talk about the baby chicks who had hatched and were now living in a coop by the principal's office. As I looked at the three adorable puffs of cute with a little girl, she informed me, very solemnly, that there had been four chicks.

Mutha (fully expecting to shift into the chick-dying-is-sad-but-life-is-just-one-big-circle conversation): "What happened to the other one?"

Girl: "He was too naughty and they had to take him back to the farm."

Naughty. Out because of naughtiness. It begged the question: How naughty could a baby chick be?

Apparently, plenty.

I asked several kids to explain and they all had the same story:

"He was mean."

"It wouldn't leave the other chicks alone."

"I saw him pecking on the other one."

"They tried to put him in a little box to be separate, but he jumped out."

Wow, who knew? Is this data towards the "bad seed" notion of social competence? Did this baby chick come into the world just looking for a fight? And what about intervention? Sure, the mentioned box was one tactic, but did they really try to rehabilitate the little fellow before banishing him?

I decided to ask the kids.

Mutha: "Was it right for the naughty chick to go back to the farm?"

Kids (in chorus): "YES"

Mutha: "Why?"

Boy: "Because bullies aren't allowed."

No bullies indeed, even if they are cute.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pass the Python and Quit Your Yappin'

"I don't believe reaching people is the purpose of art.In fact, I don't know what 'reaching people' means.I know what Hazlitt said:It's easy to get the mob to agree with you; all you do is agree with the mob."

David Mamet wrote this in his book Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama, and I gotta tell ya' the rest of it is just like this. It made me think: okay, I know David Mamet is a great play write, general smart guy, but I'll be damned if this doesn't sound like something one's theater-major friend might say while stoned.

It must be a function of my getting older (let's hope so, it might qualify as wisdom then) that I have less and less patience for intellectuals. I used to think they were God. Now I realize they think they're God, and I used to fall for it.

But when will I learn this for real? For instance, why would I read something called, The Theory and Practice of Postmodernism:A Manifesto? No one should read it, but I need some company with this, so I'll share.

In this essay, David Antin declares:
"i believe in taking descartes advice"
(By the way, I'm not pulling your leg with the lack of punctuation and capitals. He ain't Cummings and he ain't kidding.)
"if youre lost in a forest and you have no idea which way to go
go for it straight ahead because its not likely to be any worse than anything else"

To illustrate my point about tolerance for intellectuals in my old age, I found the only reaction I could muster to this revelation was to sing:

"Ole Descarte was a drunken fart
I drink therefore I am."