Women's history documentaries

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 14, 2009 10:19am | Post a Comment


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24 Fact-Based Films Celebrate Women's History Month

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 10, 2009 01:06am | Post a Comment

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Happy Texas Independence Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 2, 2009 11:21am | Post a Comment

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, the newly independent country organized itself into several states. In the northern Coahuila y Tejas, there were many Native peoples like the Alabama, Apache, Aranama, Atakapa, Caddo, Comanche, Coahuiltecan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa and Wichita that the nearly bankrupt Mexican government had little resources to subjugate. So they invited immigrants from the US, called Texians, to help keep down the aborigines.

Soon the immigrants outnumbered the Mexicans and Natives put together. These Texian immigrants made little to no effort to assimilate into their adopted country -- they they self-segregated, carried guns everywhere, didn't learn "the language" (Spanish) and wrote signs in English. Even though slavery was illegal in Mexico, the Texians (who numbered about 30,000) simply ignored Mexican law and brought 5,000 slaves. Before long, Mexican president Bustamante sought to restrict futher American immigration to Mexico, recognizing they were up to no good. Before long, the Texians took up arms and ultimately gained independence from Mexico.

Joel McCrea, not Texian, but played one on the radio

By 1850, Texians started referring to themselves most commonly as Texans. The Texas Almanac of 1857 waxed purple about the mere dropping of the letter "i," continuing the Texan tradition of making something out of nothing, moaning [in Chris Elliot's fancy lad voice] "Texian...has more euphony, and is better adapted to the conscience of poets who shall hereafter celebrate our deeds in sonorous strains than the harsh, abrupt, ungainly, appellation Texan -- impossible to rhyme with anything but the merest doggerel."

Ever since joining The USA, Texians have crafted a unique identity that seems to possibly stem from deep-seated phallic obsession coupled with a Texas-size inferiority complex. "Everything is bigger in Texas!" they brag incessantly. It is true that the size of their belt buckles and guts and insecurities are gargantuan, but in other areas, not so much. Their cry of "Don't Mess with Texas" further reflects an endemic insecurity and defensiveness of greater degree than is found anywhere else in the country. But denial of reality and a steadfast clinging to ignorant blind faith in themselves seems to be a crucial aspect of being Texian as well. Just look at the Oklahoma panhandle, for instance. Obviously it's named for its similarity to the shape of said object, but the Texas panhandle bears about as much resemblance to the the object in question as a pyramid does to a snowflake. No matter, try telling that to a Texian, where reality is always considered "fighting words."

Another essential aspect of the Texian identity is the pronounced cultural cringe. Instead of embracing its unique character, most Texians will threaten to "kick the ass" of anyone who brings up cowboys or their posh, plantation southern accents. This, considering Tales of the Texas Rangers, is just about the greatest thing ever! No, Texians will passionately deny being country and instead point to things they wrongfully assume to be uniquely Texan, in the process revealing an ignorance about the rest of the country more often associated with the east and west coasts. Most Texian's notions about the rest of the country seem to be based on their awareness of Oklahoma and exposure to television. Where Texas is first in many areas (obesity, capital punishment, smog, hate crimes &c), they brag about their kick ass county fairs, quality high school football, rapidly changing weather ("Don't like it? Just wait five minutes"-- *Yuck yuck*) and the fact that they used to be their own country. (Ever heard of Hawaii, California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina or Vermont? No? Never mind.) They brag about their diversity in comically old-fashioned ways that sound like they're actually complaining, e.g., "We've got tons of Hispanics and Orientals." To make matters worse, they aren't the biggest state either in terms of size or population. On the other hand, they did invent Dr. Pepper there and Dallas's involvement in the history of recreational ecstasy consumption is criminally overlooked.

They are proud of their food, so-called Tex-Mex. Usually Tex-Mex consists of taking a Mexican dish and making it taste like something from a cafeteria. Usually it can be as simple as replacing cotija with cojack and slapping on a new name. Even though this hardly seems worth fighting for, the states of Arizona, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Texas still routinely argue over who first dropped a burrito in deep fryer.

This blind faith in denial is also evinced on something Texas can claim to be number one in. They have the highest number of religious folks who pack megachurches to pay tithes in what amount to cult infomercials. If there was a lesson to be learned from David Koresh, it's that he should've done his preaching in a behemoth class structure, not some flammable plywood Tuff Shed.

I don't mean to suggest that nothing good ever came out of Texas. Far from it. It's just that another big part of being Texian is ignoring everything that's good about Texas. Texas has produced Blind Willie Johnson, Ronnie Dawson, Geto Boys, Ornette Coleman, 13th Floor Elevators, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, UGK, Buck Owens, Mike Jones, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Big Moe, Hank Thompson, Ray Price, Pantera, Selena Quintanilla, Bob WillsDJ Screw, ZZ Top, Ernest Tubb, Slim Thug, Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Chamillionaire, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Townes van Zandt, Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Lightnin' Hopkins, among too many others to name. But, aside from the rappers, most Texians give little love to their homegrown artists and their radio stations are the worst in the country, completely ignoring their own rich musical past and replacing it with Christian pap.

In keeping with Texians' affinity for not appreciating what's good about the state, instead of pointing to their rolling plains, piney woods, big cities and wide open country, they attempt to unify the large region by covering it in religious-themed billboards.

Texas has provided us with so many of our presidents (and taken the life of one) that one can only wonder where our country would be today if they remained their own nation. In typical Texian fashion, the mural suggests that Johnson and the Bushes were the latest presidents born in the Lone Star. Never mind the fact that HW was born in Massachusetts and Dubya in Connecticut.

The stars at night are big and bright!!!

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Happy Pig Day -- celebrate with pig-related dvds, vhs

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 1, 2009 02:17pm | Post a Comment

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Who's black and whose black?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 17, 2009 12:00am | Post a Comment

As Black History Month rolls on, I asked myself a question that may seem stupid to most people: Who exactly is black and who is not? And how is it decided? Does the individual or society determine what we are or is it a combination of both? Are there other factors? Is this the Family Feud or actual objective science?

In 2009, all rational and educated people now accept that race is a human construct, which isn't to say that it's meaningless. As long as people are treated differently (preferentially, discriminatorily or just differently based on presupposed differences) on the basis of race, how society constructs and applies that race is worth thinking about. And, ideally, there shouldn't be any shame in recognizing broad cultural differences either. Why should "white pride" be offensive? Pride in er-one, I say. Minor caveat: to even assume that American society has reached a consensus on race defies reality – that's why Dave Chappelle instituted the racial draft. So step with me into a blog of shadows and substance, things and ideas into, to coin a phrase, The Twilight Zone.

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