Friday, October 28, 2011

Poetry Friday

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

by E. E. Cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

any experience,your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility:whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens;only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More skirts

I frequently try to convince people (my students, my girlfriend, random strangers) that the concept of "things are getting better" or "things are better than they used to be" is problematic.
Progress is not one of those straight 45 degree angle lines streaking across a graph. The x and y axes are not so 1) measurable and 2) in sync that we have this perfect progress line.
And this not-so-neat-and-easy "progress" can be applied to sport--women's sports specifically.
Look at the women playing sports! Isn't it great!?
It totally is.
But there has been some backlash--some subtle, some not-so-subtle. There's the obvious crusade against Title IX in the US. There's the rampant, yet largely hush-hush and/or hard-to-prove homophobia. And now there's skirts.
Skirts where none existed before. Skirts in soccer. (Remember the fashion show in 2009 when the WUSA debuted its Puma kit complete with "wraps"?)
Skirts in badminton.
Skirts in running.
And now skirts in....wait for it-----
The Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) tried to give out skirts to its female competitors at the World Championships last year because they are trying to "phase in" the new uniform in international competition. Just in time, perhaps, for women's boxing at the London Olympics next year??
It's pretty difficult these days to say--in most parts of the world--that women should not be able to play sports. But that does not mean people still aren't trying to distinguish women's participation in sport. This attempt is through skirts.
It isn't a mandate from the AIBA--though Poland has required skirts as part of its national uniform because it is "elegant" and gives a "womanly impression."
There seems to be a certain amount of ambivalence--even among the various national team leaders/coaches--about women who box. Yes, women hitting each other does seem a little masculine because hitting each other has always been the domain of men--except when they hit women.
But putting a woman in a skirt does not take away from the fact that she is hitting another woman--for sport.
The skirt is not going to convince the naysayers that it's ok for women to box. It's not going to attract more people to the sport--perhaps a few fetishists (not that there's anything wrong with that).
I am just waiting for the next not-a-skirt-sport to insititute skirts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

P.S. one's a lesbian

I've had over a day to sit on this story because of other obligations. This has meant that the highly acerbic tone laced with expletives that I was going to use yesterday has been slightly tempered by time.
I'm still a little irked by ESPNW though. I really haven't seen anything to like about this endeavor yet. Shouldn't we be shooting for more than just mere visibility?
Anyway, what got me all hot and bothered (and not in a good way) yesterday was this article about the different paths Hope Solo and Abby Wambach have taken post World Cup.
In case you haven't heard, Hope Solo is on Dancing with the Stars this season. She was also on (one of) the cover of ESPN Magazine's The Body Issue a few weeks ago. She is racking up endorsements (worth millions of dollars)--and turning down offers for photo shoots in men's magazines. In other words, she's making the most of this (likely) brief spike in the popularity of women's soccer. (Let's note, for the record, that Solo pursued her spot on DWTS. Her agent "mined his contacts at ABC" to get her on the show.)
Her success in doing so is not surprising according to a UMaryland consumer psychologist. Dr. Stephen McDaniel:
"Think how unique Hope Solo is. She's very telegenic, she's attractive, she's successful; she's the kind of person that can translate into a personality."
And what's up with Wambach?
Well here is an assessment of the differences between the two from the president of a company that pairs celebrity endorsers with companies:
"Every time you see Hope Solo, she's pumping her fist and clapping her hands and she's got a really great demeanor and a great smile and everything about it is positive. That's not to say the same thing about Abby. I can't really say where Abby is. Abby is not unattractive, but I don't know what she wants to do."
Yes,  what is it about Wambach? Not unattractive, but....
Oh, yeah. She's gay.
Is she out like Natasha Kai? No. But it's not a secret either. She's not trying to pass as straight.
And she's not clamoring after endorsements like Solo because, according to observers, experts, and Wamabch herself, it just isn't her style. She's more quiet. She's more behind the scenes. (And she's doing good stuff too trying to promote the game.)
She also can't sell heterosexy like Solo. But no one will say that aloud.
So where's the space for someone like Wambach? She can sell lesbosexy. (Check out the comments on photos of her.)
But the woman saved the USWNT from an early exit in the World Cup. She was in a scoring drought and pushed through it and then came through big with the US needed it.
But there's little space for a strong, successful female athlete is not heterosexual (or who does not pass as heterosexual).
Yes, Wambach has been with Nike for almost 10 years now. She endorses Gatorade and both she and Solo are recently signed with Bank of America. (Really, Abby and Hope? You thought signing with one of the most maligned banks in the country right now was a good idea?)
But these different paths they allegedly chose are not necessarily all about free will or radically different personalities. Look at them on the field: they are both clapping their hands actually--they are both intense. They pump up their team not in pleasant Mia Hamm way, but in "let's get our butts in gear" (that's the polite version) kind of way. Neither smiles a whole lot during the game. And let's note that Solo's ESPN Magazine cover. Very intense. A little bit with the crazy eyes too. [My roommate glanced at the cover when it was sitting on the kitchen island and asked me "who's that guy?"]
This is not just about choice. This about market. The choices Wambach makes not to be in the public eye as much as Solo are not entirely unfettered.
And ESPNW looks a little naive in its coverage of these "different paths" especially when one of the sources hints heavily at the whole "lesbian thing."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WSF Awards

The Women's Sports Foundation held their annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards ceremony last night in NYC.
Abby Wambach won best sportswoman in a team sports; Yani Tseng (I guess people are paying attention to her!) won for individual sport.
The US Women's Ski Jumping team won the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award for their activist work in getting their sport included in the winter olympics.
A theme of the evening was Title IX because the Foundation is gearing up for the 40th anniversary.
It was a little disappointing that the :Billie Jean King Contribution Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrates a lasting commitment and dedication to the growth of sports, fitness and physical activity for women and girls" was given to Visa. Given the current climate of backlash against corporate America--which began right on the streets of NYC, it didn't seem to be the b est choice. I would have liked to see WSF go a little less corporate.

Like a younger, more hipster Ellen.

 For all my butchie girls: this is how Abby Wambach dresses it up. The pants are a little too hipster for me, but the woman can rock formal wear too it seems.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reform through 5 scholarships

The NCAA in August, during the Presidential Retreat, started talking about some of the ongoing controveries and the need for reform. Everyone else already is, so they should be too.
And they have some ideas, apparently. In September the Resource Allocations Working Group suggested cutting scholarships for FBS (Footbal Bowl Series) teams from 85 to 80. The FCS will have their scholarships reduced from 63 to 60.
They are also considering reducing men's (13 --> 12) and women's (15 --> 13) basketball scholarships.

Yeah. I'm pretty sure that will take care of it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wasn't there supposed to be a movie...

...about the Immaculata College women's basketball team?
Why yes, yes there was.
And apparently there is. It was actually filmed in 2007. But the film, The Mighty Macs, which chronicles the 1971-72 team as it made its ways to the NCAA championships, only recently got a distributor.
The movie stars Carla Gugino (Entourage, Sin City), David Boreanaz (currently of Bones but formally of Buffy the Vampire Slayer--his best role in my opinion), Ellen Burstyn (Ya Ya Sisterhood, Big Love), and Marley Shelton (Uptown Girls. Pleasantville). 
The movie comes out in limited release (1000 theaters) next week.
You can watch the trailer here. It looks good.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poetry Friday

Like the poem, but I'm thinking the translation could be better. Nevertheless...

Bring me the sunflower

Eugenio Montale

Bring me the sunflower so I may transplant it

in my native soil burnt by the sea-salt,

let it display all day to the mirroring blue spaces

of the sky the anxiety of its yellow face.

Obscure things tend towards clarity,

bodies dissolve themselves in a weightless flow

of colors: these then into music. To vanish

is thus the supreme fate of all fates.

Bring me the plant that points to where

pale transparencies rise to the heights

and life itself evaporates like air;

bring me the sunflower crazed with light.

translated from the Italian by Margaret Brose

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In golf?

I flipped on the Golf Channel, which was airing the LPGA's HanaBank Championship this past weekend. It was background and it was on less than two minutes when I heard the British male commentator say that it would have been a "wussy" move if Yani Tseng hadn't pulled out her driver for her tee shot because her playing partner had just done so.
Really, wussy--in golf?
I mean wussy anywhere is problematic. But in golf it seems all the more weird to use such sexually suggestive slang. And in the context of Yani Tseng? The woman is dominating the LPGA. Never heard of the current number one player who has 9 victories this season and has held the number 1 spot for 34 weeks? Well she's not American and she's not white--which means she isn't getting a lot of attention in the American media.
But at least she's not a wussy after all. She hit an amazing tee shot at that hole--and she won the whole thing.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Poetry Friday

Because I've been teaching transitions in my composition classes...

A Word About Transitions

by Billy Collins

Moreover is not a good way to start a poem
though many begin somewhere in the middle.

Secondly does not belong
at the opening of your second stanza.
Furthermore is to be avoided
no matter how long the poem.

Aforementioned is rarely found
in poems at all, and for good reason.

Most steer clear of notwithstanding,
and the same goes for

nevertheless, however,
as a consequence, in any event,
and as we have seen in the previous chapters.

The appearance of finally
in your final stanza will be of no help.

All of which suggests (another no-no)
that poems don't need to tell us where we are

or what is soon to come.
For example, the white bowl of lemons

on a table by a window
can go anywhere all by itself

and, in conclusion, so can
seven elephants standing in the rain.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Um, yeah, no kidding

Did anyone really believe that Reebok's special Easytone sneakers were going to firm legs, thighs, and butts? Well if you did--congratulations, you may be getting some money.
Reebok has settled a class action lawsuit for $25 million. A Federal Trade Commission investigation found that claims of what the sneakers could do were slightly exaggerated--as in they couldn't be proven.
I knew though sneakers were trouble from the start. I mean, did anyone else note the irony? In order to get a hot ass, you have to wear ugly shoes. That seems wrong. Also, the commercials were particularly egregious in terms of the sexualization of the female body.
But it's kind of too late now. Those rocker shoes are all over the place. Sketchers has their own version. Not sure if Sketchers will be on the hook as well. It's possible they aren't making the same kind of claims about what the shoes can do. They have chosen not to comment on the settlement.
Reebok is standing behind its shoes though. The settlement does not require them to take back their previous claims; they just can't keep making them--the claims. I think they will keep making the shoes.
No study has found that the shoes make any difference. My surprise was that there was no evidence the shoes do damage. Anecdotal evidence that I have not-so-painstakingly gathered suggests that people who wear the shoes end up with hips and knee and foot pain.