Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stuff (White) Mommy Bloggers Like

Have you seen this blog? Stuff White People Like. Apparently it's the new big thing on the internet; the authors have a book deal and everything and they haven't even been blogging for three full months. I poked around it a bit this weekend. When it is good, it is very, very good; when it is bad, it is ... standard-issue, puerile, male internet offensive. And then there are the commenters! Yowza!!! It all makes for a fun blog, though I'm not sure why anyone would want to buy the book--unless it's to put it in the bathroom so that shitting guests will think, "hey, my host is cool, self-reflexive and internet-savvy!"

Now, I may not be a queen of satire but I'm always game for a little self-mockery and, even though I'm afraid this post will go over like a lead fart, I can't resist giving you a list of Stuff (White) Mommy Bloggers Like.

1. Using parenting experts as straw men in order to uphold the virtues of good, old-fashioned common sense: Any self-respecting (White) Mommy Blogger ((W)MB) has written at least one post lambasting a parenting guru. Favourite targets are Dr. Sears, Jack Newman, or any sucker who has ever tried addressing sleep issues in infants. (W)MBs particularly like beating the snot out of male parenting gurus. The same can be said for syndicated parenting columnists, particularly if they too are men. When a (W)MB reads a post of this nature by another (W)MB she usually comments by saying, "You are such a good mother. Only you know what's best for your child." Optionally, she may add a "sistah" to the end of her comment.

2. Contemporary idiom: The (W)MB desires to be young and hip but does not wish to sacrifice a second goal: sounding wise beyond her years. To achieve this, she will often cite noted theorists or canonical authors while simultaneously tossing off words such as dude and asshat. The (W)MB loves linking to The Urban Dictionary. Not only does it make her look dope to her peeps but it draws attention away from the fact that all other links from her blog are to wikipedia and/or posts from her own archive.

3. Letting her heart bleed for all to see: The (W)MB likes to wring her hands at the world's ills. Unfortunately, this makes her fear that doing so smacks of slacktivism. To create a smoke-screen, she will resort to discussing the erosion of journalistic integrity or the socialist politics of Howard Zinn. Sometimes she even links to Wikipedia in an effort to bamboozle.

4. Righteous rage: The (W)MB is a finger-wagger like no other. The focus of her righteous rage is almost always a target external to the (W)MB community because the (W)MB knows that courtesy reigns in the (W)MBlogosphere, dammit. The only exception to this rule is the issue of commercialization of the (W)MBlogosphere. On this issue the righteous rage has been known to fly from all sides. Fortunately for all (W)MBs, most (W)MBs now turn away from any discussions on this issue because it has repeated itself around the (W)MBlogosphere like a radish burp with none of its soothing, warm, healthy aftertaste.

5. Inclusiveness: The (W)MB LOVES inclusiveness, particularly if she is the only one talking about it.

6. Shoes: What (W)MB doesn't like a great pair of shoes? Or boots? Or funky Wellingtons? (W)MBs partucularly like to ask the advice of other (W)MBs before buying shoes. Only seldomly does the (W)MB seek advice on other articles of clothing. This is because it may serve to remind her readership that she has a body and is actually a flesh-and-blood woman, not just the weightless synapses behind a series of insightful and sardonically humourous posts.

7. Breastfeeding controversy: The (W)MB simply loves a good breastfeeding controversy. Sit Bill Maher down in an Applebees or, better yet, have him fly American Airlines and the (W)MB gets all a-tingle. What better way to satisfy righteous rage (see above) than to proclaim oneself a lactivist! Besides, a good tirade against an anti-breast crusader can help a (W)MB forget just how miserable her own experience of lactation truly was.

8. Bratz-bashing: Bratz-bashing is not a universal (W)MB trait. It is the sole domain of the (W)MB with a girl-child. (W)MBs with boy children alternate between wishing they had a girl child and thanking their lucky stars they need not engage in Bratz-bashing. Occasional Barbie and Polly Pocket bashings have been witnessed in the (W)MBlogoshpere but such tirades have paled in comparison to the vitriol needed for a good Bratz-bash.

9. Daddy-bloggers: (W)MBs LOVE daddy-bloggers ... because tokenism feels oh so good when it's turned on its head.

10. Books: (W)MBs are a well-read bunch. They review books. They talk about books. Occasionally, they put pictures of books on their side-bars. They do this in an effort to create an aura of wisdom for their blogs. The (W)MB's ultimate end, though, is to distract other (W)MBs from noticing that the (W)MB must, in fact, be spending her every waking moment writing posts and/or reading other (W)MBlogs instead of books. Ditto for TV, movies and other forms of popular culture.

OK, I open the floor to comments. What did I miss? On the off-chance you don't find the humour in this, please keep in mind that each of these points can be directed squarely at me.

Re: #3 above. The Just Post round table is just around the corner. Please send your links to me at madhattermommyAThotmailDOTcom if you read or wrote a post or posts about social justice in the month of March. You've got until next Monday night to get them in. Confused? Click on one of the purple birds on the sidebar.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

But you don't really care for music, do you?

My brother-in-law, L, never listens to music. He says it holds no attraction for him; in fact, he finds music a public annoyance because it's always destroying his train of thought. When he's not listening to music (ha!), L is one of the foremost philosophy scholars in Canada. He's also the National Champion for his age group in track cycling. Oh yes, my husband's genes are of the intense, purist variety. Of the four boys, two are professors, one's an anesthesiologist and the other's a stay-at-home dad. The SAHD dad is a Birkebeiner racer (that's x-country skiing for 55 kms while carrying a baby, fyi) and, as you know, MadDad is a marathoner. Like I say, intense.

I got to thinking about L's disdain for music last Tuesday night when my attention was briefly captured by American Idol. I used to be an Idol-head but the show has long since lost its brassy shine for me. In the few minutes the TV was on, I saw a frightfully inarticulate pretty-boy with dread locks do a passing karaoke imitation of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah (ok, Cohen's Hallelujah but no one would ever try to imitate Cohen's vocal stylings, now would they?). The song was trimmed down, of course, to meet time constraints and wouldn't you know it the verses that were removed were the sacred and profane ones. The song became nothing more than a neat break-up song with Old Testament overtones.

The judges were very much pleased with Dread Boy's performance. In fact, Simon Cowell commended it saying, "That was brilliant. The Jeff Buckley version of that song is one of my favourite songs of all time."




Yes, Simon Cowell, our greatest pop culture arch-villain, the man who gave us The Spice Girls and Hunky Tenors Who Sing Air Supply (aka Il Divo), the man who packages cult of personality entertainment and formulaic pap tunes, actually lists Buckley's version of Cohen as an all-time favourite. I need not mention that neither Cohen nor Buckley would have ever got a record deal under Cowell or that a 7 minute song of delicate timing and ethereal precision would never cut it in the Cowell industrial complex. Why, Dread Boy's version on YouTube is only 4 minutes and 24 seconds and that includes his pre-song interview and the judges comments. There's no grace in that. Yet, Mr. s'Cowell loves this song. As do I.

The Cohen version was on one of the first CDs I ever bought. I picked up Buckley's Grace in the mid-90s and, then, just before Miss M was born I treated myself to kd lang's Hymns of the 49th Parallel. When Miss M was a newborn, we would frequently dance together to lang's version of the song. While I suffered the psychic gashes brought on by lactation and all manner of deprivation, my daughter wooed me with her own cold and broken hallelujah. Her fathomless infant eyes never left my face as we swayed around the room.


Then one day, when she was three weeks old, I looked up from one of these dances and saw my husband looking at me enraptured. My sister was there too, having traveled a great distance to initiate me into the rituals of motherhood. It was there that I found grace: in love, in family and in a simple pop tune well executed.

I am no philosopher. The things that I have faith in need no proof. I can live without intensity or purity of purpose. I cannot, however, live without poetry, without music, without art, without veiled glimpses at all that is sacred and profane. Last night, Miss M and I listened to Buckley's Hallelujah while she brushed her teeth. She danced away from the sink wearing nothing but a pj top, her pale bum in the lamplight overthrowing all that I am.