Daily Archives: July 4, 2004

Women Blog, Too! #9 – The Mermaid Tavern

‘indiejade’ of The Mermaid Tavern (Born Feb ’04) is helping to redefine ‘the blog’ by exploring its creative possibilities. Forsaking the standard socio-politico-cultural-personal rant/analysis format in favor of humorous or satiric monologues and set-pieces on the vagaries and anomalies of everyday existence, she uses her own life as a launching pad for exploring all the stuff we only notice when it drives us nuts. In the process, she dedicates herself to providing potential solutions to problems or answers to complex and difficult questions like ‘What’s the deal with shampoo?’ Asked by a supposed reader, ‘Do you believe the “repeat” part of the directions is a ploy by the shampoo companies to sell more shampoo?’, she answers:

Congratulations on bursting the bubble. You have inadvertently destroyed $1.4 trillion dollars worth of potential profit for the shampoo companies with your discovery. And now it is time for the truth to come out.The first part of the truth is that the shampoo companies are actually fronts for the National Committee of Librarians against Harry Potter.

The National Committee of Librarians against Harry Potter believes that there is a direct linkage between the number of bottles of shampoo sold and the amount of sorcery that occurs at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This linkage has actually been prove[n] in a complex algorithm that nearly shut down the Internet and mysteriously caused the pine tree needles of the world to stand on end. The algorithm has since disappeared.

The second part of the truth is that the shampoo companies have been deceiving consumers for years. Most people do not know that shampoo is simply a by-product of a chemical called “air” that has the amazing ability to purge itself of toxicity.

Or trying to explain one of THOSE days:

*the sky turns dark and thunder crashes*Do you know what I mean? THOSE days are days that you wish you hadn’t gotten out of bed. THOSE days are days when absolutely nothing goes your way. In the morning, you burn your bagel, pour orange juice into your coffee (instead of milk), and accidentially lose your keys. Later you realize, halfway through the day, that you are wearing your shirt inside out. Your shoes keep coming untied. You cannot remember where you parked your car. The deli has run out of smoked turkey breast, when, that’s all you really feel like eating. Rush hour traffic is at a standstill (ironic that they call it “rush hour” while everyone is stuck going nowhere, eh?). Your dog has had a heyday while you were away — taking every single pair of underpants you own and decorating the living room.

So yeah, it’s been one of THOSE days.

Or commenting on a recent scorpion outbreak in Seattle (Seattle? Is this true?):

Recently in Seattle (motto: “You smell like a two-day fish”), residents reported an outbreak of scorpions. Perhaps you think there are no scorpions in Seattle. Perhaps you are an idiot.As the French say, au contraire (literally: “Yo momma’s so fat that when she stands on the scale, it says: TO BE CONTINUED!”). I have here on my desk a copy of an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader Ziggy, whose name can be rearranged to spell “ZYIGG”, although that is not my main point. “Ziggy”, by the way, only has the letters “iy” in in common with “Monica Lewinsky,” so there is no other reason to mention Monica Lewinsky in this article.

But her glory is showcased in a 2-part piece just published after a lengthy hiatus (I was going to make indiejade the first WBT review but she wasn’t posting at the time because she was trying to get through finals, and some of you know what that’s like). Titled ‘The Hangover Monster’, it’s a hilarious send-up not just of hangovers and what they feel like, but of why we tell ourselves we do them: ‘Somebody made me.’ The evening starts out reasonably enough–

It was to be a simple gathering with friends . . . well, okay, I lie. It was to be a simple gathering of burned-out college students who may or may not know each other, all gathered in the name of social drinking. The simple gathering of college students milled about, chatting “small talk” while the water cooler bubbled moodily in the background #. The vibrant notes of Erasure pulsed out of the speakers.The philosofairy was proud of herself, for a moment, as she surveyed the scene. She’d actually dragged herself away from the house and attended . . . dum da dum . . . a Social Gathering!

(Please hold the applause)

–but with the arival of ‘Beatrice’ (‘names have been changed to protect identities, affiliates and potential lawsuits’), things start to slide downhill. Mud-slide, actually.

“Yeah,” says Beatrice*, finishing her drink. (Imagine ravenous gulps of alcoholic beverage consumption followed by insane laughter and punctuated by the slam of an empty glass on the counter) “I’ve just been workin’. Goin’ to school. . . .. Girl, you look great! Hey, you need a drink? You look like you need a drink.””I don’t really –”

But by then it’s too late. The philosofairy has a coconut mudslide in her hand.


Fast forward one hour, and the philosofairy is suddenly taking generous shots of tequila, sipping (something) and drinking some more of (something) which is 49.2 percent alcohol, but, for legal purposes, has been spiked with (something) that contains 110 percent alcohol.

In Part II, the predictable results of this behaviour are described with ruthless precision:

Sunday: 10:20 a.m.When she finally has the courage to open her eyes, the philosofairy realizes that the scientists have been right all along. There really are things called “molecules” and “sound waves” swimming in the air around people. Trillions and trillions of molecules and sound waves. The philosofairy knows this because she can feel every individual molecule and sound wave assaulting her poor, bedraggled body. If she closes her eyes and concentrates very carefully, she can feel every molecule and sound wave bounce off her body at speeds of perhaps three hundred thousand miles per hour. She is especially aware of the sensation on her left foot because her left foot has somehow become sockless in the course of the night. She is also aware of the sensation acutely in temples.

It’s a molecular homicide, of sorts, wherein the molecules of the earth have, sometime during the night, conspired with the sound wave of the earth to create a cacophonous symphony of discord. The philosofairy winces when the symphony reaches its crescendo. All she can do is utter a groan which, when she thinks about it, sounds something like a water buffalo giving birth.

And which of us hasn’t been there?

The Mermaid Tavern is Robert Benchley translated for a modern audience, and the good news is: when she’s on her game, indiejade writes every bit as well as Benchley, sometimes better. But even when she’s off, she’s still one of the funniest and most human reads on the net. If she’s not as flat-out funny as Fafblog!, that’s because it’s a deeper kind of funny, the kind of rueful, ‘O jeez, I did that?’ funny that comes with recognition and self-awareness of and resignation to your own foibles, flaws and weaknesses. You know the ones: those little ones you think nobody notices. indiejade knows all about them and is exposing them for all of us, god bless her.

So read and enjoy. Pretend she’s not talking about you if you have to, but understand this: we know who she’s talking about….

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Why Do Conservatives Hate the Constitution?

The question is meant as a parody, of course, but it’s also a serious question. Where pod-people like Sean Hannity insist that liberals ‘hate America’ but can’t offer either reasons or evidence of any such thing (last time Hannity admitted that he didn’t know why liberals hate America, ‘they just do’; in right-wing whacko-land, this hateful proposition is so obvious it apparently doesn’t need anything resembling evidence or reason), any one of us could come up with a dozen major proofs–evidence, actions, actual proof–that conservatives a) have patently never read the Constitution; b) didn’t understand it if they have; or c) read it and understood it but don’t much care for it.

Republican reactionaries, led by The Hammer, rammed through the PATRIOT Act so fast that nobody forced to vote on it had time to read more than the title, and this was a law that used 9/11 and ‘national security’ to excuse warping, limiting, undercutting, and re-writing out of existence key provisions of the Consitution these ‘representatives of the public’ swore an oath to ‘protect and defend’. The new conservative mantra–‘9/11 changed everything’–hardly excuses much less explains the lifting and/or corroding of key Constitutional provisions like the necessity for warrants, the right of the accused to a speedy trial or access to a lawyer that were denied Wilson in WWI and FDR in WWII, both much more serious wars than the WOT (ie, thay actually were wars, not insurgencies resulting from juvenile neocon adventurist fantasies of world domination for the naked corporatist purpose of controlling the flow of oil).

But even if we accept the mantra–and there is some truth to it, though not nearly as much as they like to pretend–the fact of the matter is that Publican reactionaries have never been terribly comfortable with the Constitution or its protections as soon as it strays from what they imagine are its ‘No Taxation’ roots. They like the idea of ‘freedom’ but they’re uncomfortable and even appalled by its messy consequences, and their concept of ‘liberty’ seems to revolve heavily around removing it from anyone of whom they don’t approve. Since the end of WWII when their incipient paranoia over the imagined threat of the Soviet Union grew into an obsession, they have been more than willing, eager to remove those portions of the Constitution that might be used to protect ‘commie sympathizers’. When the Viet Nam war exposed a cultural rift between the ‘Greatest Generation’ (a misnomer if ever there was one) and the ‘Hippest Generation’ the size of the Grand Canyon, their first instinct was to call out the dogs: they wanted demonstrators thrown in prison by the police or shot down in the streets by the National Guard, and they didn’t much care which.

Republican policies over the years have almost always favored the restriction of personal freedom and curbs on personal liberty to one degree on another while favoring the expansion of corporate freedom and removing the ‘chains’ of corporate responsibility. It is as if they see the Constitution ‘through a glass darkly’, only dimly aware of its core concerns and blurry on both its use and its purpose. One gets the feeling after 50 or so years that if they could trade this Constitution’s unfortunate and inconvenient emphasis on the individual for a more corporate-friendly emphasis on oligarchic entitlements, they would see that not as the ultimate corruption of the American promise but as a decided improvement skewed more toward their idea of the proper focus of society: protecting the power and riches of the Haves.

It seems reasonable on the 4th of July, the date when we have decided to celebrate our rebellion from monarchy, to ask how conservatives can love this country so much when they so detest the foundation on which that country is based? How can you love America at the same time you hate what is best about it? what sets it apart? what makes people all over the world–or did before Junior got his hands on the machinery and perverted it beyond all recognition–see democracy, our democracy, as their best hope for a decent future?

Because they are, that’s undeniable. Oh, not that they would copy it word-for-word, only that they realize that their only hope lies in replacing class societies in which rights and freedoms are the exclusive property of the propertied class with societies in which all classes receive equal treatment under the law and all people have the same rights, freedoms, and responsibilities.

And yet, at a time when ordinary people all over the world are reaching toward the democratic ideal that we used to represent to them, the radical conservatives in the Republican Party are desperately trying to return the US–Home to those aspirations for 2 1/4 centuries–to the rules and priviliges of a de facto monarchy with themselves in the role of the ruling nobles to whom the plebian serfs must doff their caps and tug their forelocks in feigned respect. It seems pretty clear from their actions that if they were jumped back in time to the early 1770’s, it wouldn’t be the dirty, rebellious, ‘rabble’ represented by Sam Adams and Tom Paine that they’d be identifying with and supporting.

If that seems unkind or ‘polemical’, how else could you explain the radcon love affair with John Ashcroft’s near-fascist belief that law is nothing but a tool of the powerful and they can do what they want with it? Or Cheney’s broad-based, ‘I’m above all that’ contempt for the rules and regulations of civilized behaviour? Or Junior’s patented preference for imperial prerogatives and monarchical pretensions? These guys don’t just want a return to monarchical values, they want to return to pre-Magna Carta monarchical values when the law was what the nobles said it was and droit-de signieur was in full flower. It’s as if they regret being born too late to play Feudal Lord of the Manor and they want their shot at it.

And yet these are the people who will shout the loudest today, wave more flags and wear more lapel pins while viciously attacking more democratic values than any random 10,000 ‘liberals’ put together. Shouldn’t they be celebrating the Queen’s Birthday or something more appropriate than a day that belongs to an idea of freedom they despise and will outlaw first chance they get?

And shouldn’t it concern us that the followers of George II have more in common with the Tory followers of George III than with Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson?

Seems like it to me.