Oct. 27th, 2006

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So here's the reason I was asking people about the shape of dinner. At least one of the editions of The Joy of Cooking says something about "in California, where they do everything their own way, the salad comes first." Another old cookbook says "It's becoming more common for people everywhere to serve the salad first, as they do in California." And this Spanish cookbook I was reading said, "In Spain, as in California, the salad is served first."

I'm a California girl, and yeah, if there's going to be an order to the meal, I expect salad to come early (but I think soup trumps salad for first position, though since I have no dining room and an awkwardly-shaped kitchen with no room for a dining table, dinners here are always food laid out around the kitchen all at once and people fare the best they can). But I just thought it was weird that for a time anyway there was a perception that salad comes some other place in the meal than the front, except in California and Spain, where you expect things to be different.

On another front, I'm at 46K words for Prospect Road, and for probably the first time ever I have no clear idea of what the end of the story is. But I'm having fun with it, which is some consolation. Oh, and Afterwar? doing that thing with the verbs might be paying off. I don't know. Anyway, I did realize that the word the writing group probably wanted instead of passive is static. Because passive means something grammatically, and it's not "excessive use of appositives (if I remember that right) and progressive past."
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what happened to the boy?

I've been thinking about this question. Why was the boy turned into a girl for the modern movie?

I think, actually, it's down to sexism. Not overt sexism on the part of the movie makers, who probably actually thought they were being anti-sexist by making a movie with a strong female lead, but real sexism -- that pervasive thing that comes from culture and politics and expectations, the thing which has to be fought consciously and with great effort if it is to be fought at all.

Here's what I think is going on. In the fifty or so years since the book was written, horses have moved from economically active working chattel to luxury, to pure entertainment: conspicuous consumption. The original boy's passion for horses was a masculine passion for a vocation. This girl's passion for horses is overtly nostalgic, and overtly tied into a theory of the land and America which has nothing to do with economics or (so-expressed) politics. (did I mention in my first post on this movie that there's a running voice over of the girl's essay for school on the topic of "How America Was Settled" which expresses these ideas in so many words -- and which never once mentions the fact that there were people here before [modern] horses? No Native Americans, just a wild, untamed land, settled by Men With Horses)

It's a really old reactionary trope -- Girl is Nature, Wild, Beautiful, Free. Oh yeah, and "flicka," which in Swedish actually means "girl" plain and simple, is here translated as "a beautiful young girl just on the brink of her greatest beauty," and at least the actors have the grace to be awkward and embarrassed when they deliver these horrible lines.

And then, the girl is called upon to behave in ways they would never have a boy do -- she has tantrums continuously, from the beginning, before the going even gets rough. She never completes a logical thought (her essay is a mess, too, but I don't think it's necessarily supposed to be): she expects to get her way because she's right in an inchoate, earthy way, beyond reason, all about passion. She never does the right thing either -- it's a wonder she survives her three cat confrontations, it's a wonder she doesn't get trampled to death on several occasions, it's a wonder that she doesn't get two different horses killed on at least htree different occasions. She pouts, she flounces, she sulks, she shirks her work -- and everybody seems to think her father is the unreasonable one, because, really, they really say this, he can't see that she is him -- thatg is, she is the part of him which is the expression of the earth and the wild.

(the animal they call a lion, I realized last night after being bugged about it subliminally all day, is actually a lynx -- I don't know if in Wyoming "lion" is the correct name for a lynx, but in California, a lion is a mountain lion, (or a cougar or a puma, or a catamount, all names for the same large animal) and a lynx is a lynx. A lynx is quite easy to distinguish -- it's much smaller than a lion, and has the most amazing tufts on its ears and tail. The animal in the movie is much smaller than a lion and has the most amazing tufts on its ears and tail: it's a lynx)

I'm late. But I think I made my case for why they turned the boy into a girl. The girl is a good character study though, it's just too bad they put it into such a horrible bad and horribly ideological vehicle.
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So the chicken lady reported the chicken death to Animal Control and I get cited and I have to pay a fine. There's not even any point in fighting it, because the only thing I could make happen is to get her to pay a fine as well as me, which would keep this feud festering. I don't intend to forgive her, and I don't intend to stop thinking she's responsible for her chickens' deaths (yes, plural, because she'd already lost two chickens to raccoons since she hadn't put any effort into protecting them and didn't until I used the words "attractive nuisance" in talking to her -- three weeks after her chicken died!), but I'm not going to get her in trouble.

She so did not report this out of a feeling for the law. She did it for revenge, pure and simple, because I wouldn't accede to her rising demands.

And -- I have to go sign a ticket at 8:30 in the morning on Monday (the other time they offered was 9:35 tomorrow, but tomorrow I have to buy a crate of dry-farmed Davenport tomatoes at the stroke of nine, and then get to the S.E.I.U. (county workers' union) office before ten so I can walk precincts for my man Bruce.

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