This is a topic I’ve been wracking my brain about since my WordPress peep, The Finicky Cynic, put it out last week in a writing prompt. She asks about her readers’ families’ background (i.e. native born or emigrants) and whether their families’ pasts shaped us in any way today. The reason I’ve been wracking my brain about this is I’ve personally never learned much about my family’s background, either on my mother’s, birth father’s, or stepfather’s sides, and I’ve never been one to think about the subject very much.
While I was waiting for new lenses to be installed on my eyeglasses, I walked around West Towne Mall (yes, I can still make things out without glasses) and browsed through a couple of stores such as Windsor, where I spotted and photographed the display you see to your right. As you can see, the mannequins are decked out in some awesome looking dresses, and in a respectable neutral color for late spring/early summer (off white). Look, too, at their feet; those are some pretty gnarly heels they have going there.
As you can also tell, there is also some serious gown action going on. You know, the kind of gown that goes well with a mortar board on the head. Yep, it’s the second half of May, which means graduation time. By now, your nearest high school or college will have had or are about to have their annual graduation ceremonies. Here in Madison, the University of Wisconsin already had their ceremony a couple of weeks ago. And this weekend, my oldest niece will walk down the gymnasium aisle, take her diploma, turn her tassel, and enter the post-high school world.
Before I get to the main purpose of this post, a side thought: Whoever said that change is the only consistent thing in the world certainly knew a little something about the business world. Case in point: The team I’m on at my place of employment, which will soon undergo a reorganization and shifting of duties. While I understand management’s need to “serve our customers” in an effective manner, no longer having a chance to perform a cool task you really enjoy doing can be the pits. Oh, well. The good thing is that I do still have gainful employment, and there’s always the possibility that another cool task may be coming my way (I love having a bit of variety in my daily work routine).
Another thing about this move that’s the pits is that some of the people I enjoy working with won’t be on the same team as I. One of those people serves as inspiration for this post. This afternoon, he went to the wonderful world of endodontics and undergo a root canal procedure. Yeah, what fun, huh?
I’ve been away from WordPress for the past couple of days and I’m wanting to get back into the writing swing of things. Trouble is, I had been wracking my brain about something to write about. Then I came across an A.V. Club article about a certain Chicago television institution — Bozo the Clown. Oh, sure, Bozo may have had a presence in other towns (he was not so much a character as he was a franchise, and I’ll circle back to that term later), but to many in Chicagoland, he was as much a part of the city as the Cubs, the Field Museum, and whatever they call the Sears Tower these days. I imagine many natives of the city still believe this 16 years after Bozo’s show was cancelled by WGN (another Chicago institution in some circles).
But this post isn’t about Bozo or Chicago. Rather, this is about a little something A.V. Club included in its article from way down deep into the Wikipedia wormhole (their term): In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was something called TV Powww, and it was literally a video game played over broadcast television. So what, you say? The premise was this: A contestant watching TV Powww would be on the phone with the station (either as a random caller or as a name drawn from a barrel of entrants) and play some sort of a “target shoot” variant of video game they saw onscreen.
“Skip! Skip! Can you maybe make it next week? I hate to miss Brian’s birthday; and Friday, the transvestites are back on Donahue.”
– the title character, speaking to one of his alien brethren in a 1986 episode of ALF
I want to start this post with the definition of “crossdressing,” as found here: “the act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society.”
Why do I use that word? Well, I first started dressing in women’s clothing back when I was 11 years old going on 12. Even back then, I knew that putting on women’s undergarments or anything else feminine was considered taboo and against societal (and more immediately, familial) norms. But while I knew the definition at the time, I didn’t know of the word. To me, it was nothing more than “putting on clothing that belonged to my mom or my sister or, before that, what was found in that spare bedroom where we lived.”
A warning before I go any further: This is a hard post for me to write, not just because I struggled with how to write it out but because of references (albeit as indirect as possible) to details of a brief yet dark and ugly moment in history, a moment where the legacy of those who were lost or affected should be recognized and remembered. It’s because of the references to that moment that you may find this post hard to digest. So, if you want to hit your browser’s “back” button and read some other post, I perfectly understand. But if you wish to read on, proceed with caution after the jump.
If she belonged to me, I’d give her everything
I’d never cheat or lie
I treat her with respect, not just a sex object
I ain’t that kind of guy
–lyrics from Rod Stewart’s “Crazy About Her”
When I shared stories last weekend about three of the women in my life who faced verbal or sexual assault, a memory from my own past sprung up into my mind. It’s not any form of assault I directly suffered, if that’s what you are wondering. Rather, it’s a moment that got me to thinking about just how a sexually-driven alpha-male attitude toward women of all types could be spread. And I had thought about including it in that previous post, but I still had trepidation about doing so, and besides, that post was long enough. (Warning: Though I will try to use some sanitized terms, some of the subject matter may be sensitive to some readers, so click on the jump with caution.)
This is another of those times when I was planning to write about one subject, but my attention is directed to a totally different subject. So, instead of writing about dressing up or whatever I was going to write about (I’ve forgotten already), here I am responding to this one-word Daily Post prompt: Eclipse.
When I saw the prompt today, my mind didn’t think of any existentialist definition of the word “eclipse” but rather automatically thought of the astronomical term, precisely a solar eclipse, which, for all you kids out there who haven’t taken any science classes yet, is when the moon crosses between the sun and the earth, causing part or all of the sunlight to disappear from view. The most epic version of a solar eclipse is when the moon is close enough to Earth to completely cover all traces of sunlight — the total eclipse.
Time for another edition of “Allison in Madison,” and this entry will be one part City of Madison highlight, one part dive into the deep recessions of my memory bank. I’ll start with a little teaser question for you: How would you think the site pictured below would connect to one the greatest, most popular, and legendary entertainers of all time? (No spoilers from the Madison audience, please!)
I’ll get into the hows and whys later, but I’ll start by telling you upfront who the entertainer in question is: Elvis Presley. When Elvis hit the big time in the mid-1950s, it was with an energetic, provocative stage presence and a combination of upbeat country, rhythm and blues into a new form of popular music — rock and roll — that [A] drove the kids and teens of the time into a wild frenzy (much more of a frenzy than what the prefab pop stars of today would generate), and [B] drove the older generations into having fits when they realized that his music and performance styles were not the same as the tried-and-true entertainment they enjoyed for decades. Simply put, Elvis helped usher in a changing of the guard in popular music as well as culture: Older, more conservative styles and morals were on their way out; in its place was a new “youth culture” with its own beliefs, opinions, and political and cultural stances; combine that with the growing popularity of television and the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and it really made the grownups’ heads spin. They needn’t have worried, though, for Elvis always seemed, to me at least, to be one who, despite breaking away from his elders stylistically, still had true respect for them. (“That’s all right now mama” indeed.)
There’s a big story that occurred at the Rio Olympics within the past 24 hours that inspired me to write this post. I’ll get to the Olympic story later, but I want to bring up a topic I think I’ve mentioned in passing here before about my school days. I got teased. A lot. From elementary right up through my junior year of high school. Sometimes, that teasing would result in a physical altercation, most often started by the person teasing or bullying me, or by someone who didn’t really give a rat’s behind about me but was just itching to push me out of the hallway, down to the ground, or into a locker.
More often than not, anyone who wasn’t me or the person teasing me would just look the other way or do nothing, not even giving me the benefit of the doubt. Even a school principal would not look kindly on me. For just one example, I was in 6th grade, I got into a shoving match with a notorious teaser in our class, who later responded during the lunch line in the cafeteria by grabbing a pepper shaker from the kitchen and throwing pepper into my eyes. What was more stinging than the pepper was the stern talking-to the principal gave me in his office after the incident, all because I may have provoked him into the shoving incident earlier (or may not have, I don’t remember anymore). Mom made it worse that evening back at home with her own stern comments of disappointment.