Monthly Archives: June 2014

Emmet vs. Eponine

So this weekend my husband and I finally saw The Lego Movie (turns out the bargain theatre in town is totally awesome, yay), and we had a great audience (another post) and people only looked at me once for laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, and to retaliate against my husband constantly singing the Awesome Song I’ve started sneaking up on him and yelling DARKNESS (NO PARENTS) so all is well in our household.

One part of the movie did get me thinking, however, and upon posing the question to my lovely Facebook friends and discovering that their ideas mirrored my own, I decided to summarize our collective thoughts.
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Categories: feminism | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Foundational Media: Wag the Dog

(Did you know that when Comcast suspends your services, all attempts to access the internet will take you to Walled garden. How terribly poetic. Comcast, for once, I’m actually a little impressed.)

Foundational media! A new series wherein I discuss books, films, and other media types that had a deep impact on my psyche at what were probably impressionable ages.

In honor of all the current talk about Iraq, I thought I’d reach back to November 2001, when I was a wee thirteen-year-old visiting my aunt and uncle who were noticeably more lax about such things as “caffeine intake” and “movie ratings” than my own parents. I remember sitting in my aunt’s father’s living room with my cousin and my aunt popping in a movie for us to watch. I remember protesting mightily at being shown an R-rated movie, and doing my best not to pay attention, but of course I was sucked into it anyway. I honestly have no idea how my aunt came to have this movie on VHS, or why she thought sticking it in was a good life decision—I’m ninety-nine percent sure we were visiting because her father had just passed away, and so I’m sure she had more important things on her mind than how terribly she was about to affect her niece’s view of the world.
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Categories: foundational media | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

urticaria existencial

I have all the links for a Friday Link Spam collected but not formatted, and a post about thunderstorms hastily scribbled across several pages of a notebook, but this week has been busy with entertaining so instead I leave you this Friday with my New Favorite Phrase:

“urticaria existencial”

or, en anglais,

“existential hives.”

It comes from our very own Papa Francesco, in a interview that I read part of here. The whole interview is here and no doubt says lots of interesting things but tragically I still don’t know Spanish well enough to read the whole thing.

Anyway, thanks to Google Translate/my smattering of French, il papa was here concerned with talking about contemporary portrayals of Pope Pius XII, who was pope during a little conflict called WWII and, as Pope Francis put it, “le han tirado encima de todo.” He went on to say, “También quiero decir que a veces me da un poco de urticaria existencial cuando veo que todos se la toman contra la Iglesia y Pío XII, y se olvidan de las grandes potencias” which, as far as I can tell, means, “Also I wanna say that I get a little bit of existential hives when I see everyone ganging up against the Church and Pius XII and ignoring the Allies,” i.e., ignoring that the Allies made mistakes too.

And OH what a glorious phrase il papa has given to us here. Who doesn’t know the feeling of sitting there while someone says something that’s, at best, technically correct in a very narrow sense sorta kinda but not really OH WILL YOU PLEASE STOP TALKING LET ME AT LEAST EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS ON THIS ISSUE COME ON? If you haven’t been there, probably you should take a moment to read the comments section on any blog (excepting mine). Come back when your fingers are just ITCHING to start typing, and we’ll talk about existential hives, okay?

Of course, as the linked comic implies, it is not always the best idea to scratch our existential hives. If we want to correct someone else for the sake of self-aggrandizement, if someone is proposing an alternative that would require change and effort on our parts, or if our correction veers too deeply towards the ad hominem approach, we ought to practice discipline. Look at the pope. His hives stem from attacks against his Mother Church and predecessor and usually come from people who are seeking to tear down both for the sake of their own historical agenda, rather than to build anything up. That’s worth some gentle correction. (Needless to say, all existential scratching should be gentle. Souls are fragile things, and scratching so hard you draw blood only offers the occasion for festering infections.) (SEE HOW GREAT THIS METAPHOR IS?)

People trying to convince you say that any of the The Hobbit movies are worth spending money on and they really enjoyed them–maybe internally you are screaming NO NO NO WRONG but since it’s subjective (oh and you wince at that because come on) you shouldn’t harsh on their joy EVEN WHEN THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY WRONG–let it go. (People insisting that Frozen is good cinema despite its uneven pacing, confused thematic elements, and subliminal messages that all the movies you loved as a child were stupid DESPITE RELYING ON THE SAME TACTICS–)

I spend a lot of my time suffering from these hives. I am better about not scratching mosquito bites. But now I have a phrase to describe my suffering! Thanks, Papa Francesco. Now, to work on that whole meek and humble thing you’ve got going…

Thanks to Fr. Jerabek for wondering what this phrase meant. Next time on Jo Interprets the Pope: “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism.” It might be a few weeks, folks.

Categories: random thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

The Walk

I was going to do a post explaining the difference between officers and enlisted soldiers, but it got bogged down in details and acronyms and so it’s on the shelf for another day.

Today I am going to talk about something else: The Walk.

Now, I don’t know how it’s perceived within the military. I highly suspect that once it’s learned it’s not even noticed. And its existence makes sense, and I understand why it happens, but it does not make it any less annoying.

All soldiers walk the same.

I mean obviously they do, they train to march in formation, part of being in formation is being exactly like everyone else, but they do it OUTSIDE formation as well. And it’s a very specific walk: the steps are probably whatever length the person’s legs require in order to match the person they learned to march next to (a problem you probably also see among marching band alum); the arms swing in a not-quite-natural rhythm at a not-quite-natural distance from the body. The hands are half-curled and the arms have a somewhat gorilla-esque curve to them. The shoulders…we won’t say swagger, but noticeably shift from side to side. It’s not a march, but it’s a learned step, and if your soldier is wearing a uniform, they’re walking this way.

And honestly it’s really only vexing when they’re in uniform when they do it, mostly because I cannot count the number of times I’ve been sitting in the car waiting for my husband to emerge from the building only to be confronted with a wave of round-abouts-six-feet-tall men in uniform Walking towards me…no…wait that one’s hair might be too short…no the hair’s okay, are those his sunglasses? wait he’s coming this way he’s coming…no they’re all going…towards their cars because their cars are not my car because they are NOT MY HUSBAND HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN EVEN BE IN THAT BUILDING YOU SAID YOU’D BE DONE TEN MINUTES AGO.

The rest of this post could be a reflection on uniformity and diversity in the Army, but I spent twenty minutes in ninety-five-degree heat waiting for my husband this afternoon (which I’d rather do than deal with the hassle of affording a second car) and the heat has sapped my strength, mental and physical. Besides, we’ve barely even talked about what the Army is! Who the Army is! It’s far too soon to be reflecting.

So for now, I leave you with the fact: all soldiers walk the same.

Categories: army life | Tags: , | 1 Comment


“What do you do?”

What an excellent question, person I’ve just met.  You’ve noticed I’m not carrying a baby and certainly don’t look like I’ve had one, and you’d be right.  You’ve probably figured out I have a college degree, so naturally you’ve assumed I must have some kind of employment, given that I’m not living at home with my parents.  Of course, it will come out that my husband’s in the military, so it’s understandable if I haven’t found something yet.  But there must be a something, right?

To answer your question, I’m a teacher.  I had a teaching job that I loved with most of my heart and soul, and I left it because I loved my husband with all of them.  But I don’t have my Master’s and I’ve never taken any education courses and thus can’t get my certification and in any case the state market is currently flooded with teachers desperate for work.  I could tutor or volunteer in a school, sure, but it’s summertime anyway.  And as previously mentioned, my husband’s in the military, so until I have a sense of how long I”m going to be in any one place it’s hard to look for work.  What’s the point of starting a job in August when I’m going to leave in October?  This is especially poignant when it comes to what I’d really love to do, mentor, because it’s not fair to a child to start building a relationship and then cut it off two months in.

“Jo,” you say, “those sound an awful lot like a whole bunch of excuses.”

They probably are.  I’m making excuses to cover up how much I miss it.  I’m talking around why I’m not doing what I love, why I’m not doing something that’s work yes but so rewarding and awesome that I ultimately would do it for free (maybe I should put that on my resume), why I’m not doing something that comes fairly easily and naturally to me.

Instead, I am doing something hard hard hard, something totally against my natural inclinations and desires, something I do not because I love it but because I love and it must be done:  homemaking.
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Categories: marriage | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

I was thinking…

A new series where I jot down quick thoughts because I wrote a giant post yesterday and don’t have the time to do another one today.


  • There’s the whole “scare” about “over half the population being Spanish-speaking” or whatever, but I think it ignores that a) the language of the one percent is still English and is likely to remain that way and so if you want to become part of the one percent you’d better speak English and b) as far as I know other countries are still mandating their students learn English.
  • I did that thing where I remembered something I usually don’t think about, namely that Europe is really rather tiny compared to America, and so probably a large part of why they learn so many languages over there is because their neighbors four hours away speak something entirely different from them.  In America, unless you’re along the border with Mexico, four hours away people will still speak English.  We’d be better off trying to learn each others’ dialects.
  • Obviously that doesn’t work as well in a global economy, but think about the languages you had to learn in America.  Latin, if you were a boy, but that was over by the twentieth century; French, if you wanted to be cultured or a diplomat.  And think too about how so many immigrants quashed their native language in an attempt to assimilate and/or show their pride in their new country.  Then English becomes the new language of diplomacy and if everyone speaks it, well, it allows for laziness in foreign-language-learning.
  • We’re also “lucky” that of the two countries with the largest concentration of people, one of them was colonized by the Brits and so the population was more or less forced to learn English.  That’s handy!  /sob
  • Part of me really wishes I had seriously studied linguistics in college, or that I had at least been aware enough of it to take a few more classes on it.  A greater part of me wishes classes didn’t cost so much money.
Categories: random thoughts | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Pacific Rim: A Review

THIS WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS though obviously I’m the last person on earth (well, my husband and I) to see this movie so I don’t know how much that matters.

I should note for starters that the only real reviews I’ve read of Pacific Rim are a couple of scientific critiques and this, which I’ll talk about later in greater detail. It’s my habit when I know I want to write about a movie or book to avoid other mentions of it until I’ve had a chance to get my thoughts down. I welcome links if you have them!

That being said, I have a Tumblr account, and thus I saw a lot of hype for this movie and many, many gif sets of Mako Mori. Again, more on that in a minute.

Also, I missed like half the character names in this movie, so, uh, be on the lookout for other identifying makers.

I enjoyed large parts of this movie, and I thought that cinematically speaking it was well-shot, edited, etc. (except for one cut towards the end with the escape pods). It’s definitely a solid B- movie (that space is there intentionally); it’s too pretty for a C+, but there are too many

for to it to be a solid B movie. I know people like to say “it’s a movie about giant robots facing giant aliens you just have too little imagination” or “it’s an homage to anime/Japanese pop culture/mecha/etc.,” but suspension of disbelief has less to do with being able to accept premises (giant robots vs. aliens) and more with how the story treats the fallout from those premises.
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Categories: reviews | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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