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How does someone love me? Let me count the ways . . .
Jan 26th, 2011 by Dr Karma

On Saturday, I had the worst migraine of my life. Migraines have only induced vomiting for me four times; this time I threw up for eight hours.

One moment, I was making calzones and lemon meringue pie, then I was praying to the toilet gods. The boy ran down the stairs, got me water, and turned off the stove.

He then called me several times after the boyfriend took me to the ER, where we did several courses of iv fluids, narcotics, and anti-nausea medicine.

The boyfriend read to me in between bouts of holding my hair.

But that’s not even the end of the love. My friends have all offered their care, as usual. My students, out of pure concern for me, have suggested that I shouldn’t be at work this week (too bad for all of us–I’m there!), and the delightful man who serves me Indian food offered to take me to the hospital if ever I found myself without a ride . . .

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Inciting me to Violence
Jan 20th, 2011 by Dr Karma

Sarah Palin, in defending herself since the Arizona shooting, has done what people people do when defensive–gone on the attack. On Tuesday night, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert discussed the hypocritical move of saying this event shouldn’t be politicized and then totally blaming liberals for everything, as Palin enacted the double standard of saying rhetoric shouldn’t be taken as an incitement to violence, but then claimed that liberals wouldn’t be happy until they destroyed the country (she said something about bringing America to her knees).

My favorite comment was that “if it weren’t for their [liberals’] double standards, they’d have no standards” on her Hannity appearance.

I didn’t think that woman could incite me to violence, but . . .

I’m not actually motivated to attack, just to start gathering weapons for when her minions eventually come for me. My master’s thesis (and something I’ve been interested in all my adult life) is about how you use words to turn your neighbors into something you can kill–how you can make them an enemy, a traitor, an animal. When you research how rhetoric has been used historically, you do start to see the signs of when the villagers are going to start building a bonfire for the witch.

And while Palin keeps saying everyone’s coming after her, we know that’s not true. She’s on tv all the time. She’s not the lone woman on the outskirts of the village; she’s the powerful woman in the village who keeps deciding who’s a witch and making sure that everyone knows it.

Her comment about liberals having no standards is a way of making them sound like they’re not you–they’re not American, they’re traitors, they can’t be trusted. For example, it can’t be that they want health care because they’re bleeding hearts or because they have pre-existing conditions, but because they hate America and love Stalin and somehow want you to have healthcare so they can join a panel that will send you to your death. And even if they don’t want to kill you, they want healthcare to kill your job!

I’ve seen the villagers who are most likely to attack. Yes, some are just unbalanced. Others, however, are being trained to attack. They are the children of the quiverfull movement; they are the children in Jesus Camp. They are the fringes of the Republican party that is now gaining dominion over the moderates.

They believe–and people like Palin don’t correct them–that this is a “Christian” nation. They believe, like Palin, that liberals have no morals. I know some personally who believe in witches (and I’m not talking about the wiccan next door, but the actual sacrificing your baby in her dark sabbath kind).

They keep being told what Americans are–people like them (that’s how you can say that “Americans” want the repeal of healthcare when all of the studies show this is a minority opinion). I am apparently un-American. I teach at a university. I don’t believe in their god, and  am dedicated to the separation of church and state. I want healthcare for all of my fellow Americans. I have more faith in science than in the Bible in terms of understanding history and things like germ theory.

Once upon a time, they would have called me a heretic and burned me. Or witch. Or accused me of being a Jew. Later, the terms became “radical,” “communist,” “traitor,” and “terrorist.”

We need to be careful when we make everything “us” and “them.”  “Them” never fairs well in that scenario. You shouldn’t have to make me a “them” to vote differently than I do.

I disagree with Palin and those like her, and I may think they’re stupid (or brilliantly mean), but I don’t think they’re un-American. America is my family; like any family, it contains people I don’t agree with, but they’re still family. And just because I disagree with them doesn’t mean I want the destruction of our family unit.

So I don’t like it when I see the fires getting stoked and the words being thrown around that indicate that Americans/people like me are so different/evil that we aren’t even Americans/people.

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Visiting “The Simpsons”
Jan 12th, 2011 by Dr Karma

As many of you know, I don’t have a twitter page, but Denise, social goddess that she is, made one for our book, The Simpsons in the Classroom–you can follow us under Simpsonology. It is through this apparently fabulous entity that we got in contact with some of the heavy hitters at THE SIMPSONS: David Silverman, animator & director; Josh Weinstein, producer & show runner & writer; and Chris Ledesma, music editor. The latter invited us to see a recording of the music for the show if we were ever in LA. This year’s MLA happened to be in LA, so down we went last weekend.

Walking on to the Fox lot, we were nervous. As Denise had explained to our friend Kathy, our excitement was extraordinary because the circumstances were. How many people have loved one thing and been obsessed with one thing, since 1987? How many people then teach it and write about it? How do you expect people to react when they get to meet their obsession after over twenty years? (I think we held ourselves together very well, all things considered.)

Getting our passes from the guard seemed surreal; I think we were both expecting to be turned away, like it was all some sort of mistake, but the passes were given and we set off down a fake street that they use on BONES and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER toward the FUTURAMA trailer to meet up with Josh. Josh used to work on THE SIMPSONS, but now is on FUTURAMA, which Comedy Central will hopefully renew (it’s been really good lately–check it out!). The two nice people in reception were expecting us, and Josh was summoned.

We started with a tour of the Futurama building–his office, the revision room, etc. Josh offered us some Matt Groening doodles that were on post-its in the revision room. Apparently, Groening can’t sit down without doodling something and we now have our own proof of that.

Then Josh took us on a brief tour of relevant parts of the lot. The recording stages in one building are named after three famous Hollywood women–Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, and Marge Simpson. We couldn’t access Marge’s studio because they were doing some dubbing for BONES. “You mean Angel from BUFFY might be in there?” quipped Denise.

The old SIMPSONS‘s building itself looked like a motel–it was small and two stories and all of the rooms were accessible by the outside. When you look straight on to it, you see a fountain with koi (and netting to unsuccessfully keep feral cats out) and bathrooms. Groening’s office is behind a nondescript door to the right of the bathroom doors.

Along the way, we met Ian Maxtone-Graham (who wrote, among other things, “24 Minutes” and who is very tall), Rob LaZebnik (“Homer vs. Dignity”), and Michael Nobori (“To Surveil with Love”). Due to Denise’s description of my love for Weird Al Yankovic, Mr. Nobori has probably banned me from the lot from now on.

Josh then took us for coffee at Moe’s Bar on the lot. We talked about working with his old writing partner, his brief stint on SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, Groening, and the behind the scenes stories of some episodes.

By this time, it was 11; we’d been there for an hour. Josh had to hand us over to Chris, which is where I’ll continue with the next post.

(Relevant pictures are being uploaded to Facebook; I can’t get them to post here . . .)

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