Outfits, Costumes, and Conniption Fits

So another Halloween has come and gone with the Usual Suspects decrying anyone who dares to wear a sombrero, kimono, grass skirt, or beaded headband. Such benighted individuals (the wearers of insensitive outfits [and there’s a glaring assault on English grammar, at least the version I learned]) are guilty of disrespect, cultural appropriation, racism, and other vile thought crimes for daring to disrespect proud ethnic and cultural traditions. Sombreros, embroidered peasant dresses, leather jackets with beading and fringe, eating jerky while wearing a flannel shirt (no I am not kidding), harem costumes (think I Dream of Genie), and turbans and keffiyehs are out (unless you are showing that you stand with Palestinians against the eeevil Zionist oppressors). And once again I looked in my closet and wondered which dirndl or Trachtenanzug to wear to work. Continue reading


To Dad Red, Uncle P.,

“Grandpa” Carl, Uncle W.; Tex, Gerald, Ross, John, Gene, Matt, Bill, Greg, Mike, and my other CAF friends and mentors; Cyn, Jeff, Foxfier, Walter, Mike, J.Y., Courtney, and my other IRL and on-line friends who have served or are serving in the military:


And the Wall Came a Tumblin’ Down

Twenty-five years ago today, November 9, the first brave souls crossed the Berlin Wall openly from east to west without dying in the attempt. I remember watching it on TV with a sense of wonder and a little fear, fear because I’d never known a world without the closed borders of the Iron Curtain. Everyone knew that something had changed, and I for one don’t like major changes to my world. After all, there had always been a Soviet Union, and two Germanies, and an Iron Curtain behind which everything was grey unless it had a red star on it. And Yugoslavia was odd, and Albania? It and the Shining Path were the only Maoists left in the world. But the Wall was forever. Or so I thought. Continue reading

Gateway Music

So, over at the Passive Guy’s blog, PG posted a story about someone worrying that a fondness for Rick Riordan’s books might lead young readers down the path of reading only popular fiction and not real literature. (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/10/2014/the-percy-jackson-problem/ and the rebuttal: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/10/2014/young-adult-fiction-doesnt-need-to-be-a-gateway-to-the-classics/  ) The original articles were both in major publications with large audiences, and the discussions got spritely, although (as you would suspect) most writers sided with the “Hey, if the kids are reading get out of the way” side of the argument. I mention this because I listened to Saint-saens’s “Danse Macabre” last night, and woke up with “Carnival of the Animals” running on my mental playlist. We talk about gateway drugs and gateway books, so what about gateway music? Does it even exist anymore? Continue reading