Sunday, December 28, 2008

Countdown to the Election I

On all of this Rick Warren Hullabaloo

So it's been a few weeks since it came out that christianist-conservative pastor Rick Warren would be giving the invocation at Barack's inauguration and now that it's more or less been flushed out by both sides of the media, I thought I'd add just about two cents worth of input.

Initially, I'll admit that I felt thrown under the bus. After so much hope, so much camaraderie, after he mentioned "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters" in his acceptance speech, I felt like once again a liberal-democrat official was leaving us behind for the sake of political efficacy. But after all of this has gone down, I feel like ultimately, this whole event will be looked at as a faux pas, on both sides.

Here's why: From what the Barack Transition Camp has said, this is a gesture of good will, something that he talked about in his speech. I can see how ol' boy thought it would be a good idea to make in-roads with the 100-something electoral votes that went to McCain. If I were a conservatron, I'd feel good about the invitation to Warren—but not anymore.

I think we (and when I say we, I mean the entirety of the "liberal media") have ruined all of Obama's good intentions by blowing this whole mess out of proportion. Any kind of good will to the conservative camp has probably been turned into a more heightened sense of us versus them.

Yes, it would have been a better choice to have, say, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church do the invocation at such an auspicious and momentous event in our country's history, not some middle-of-the-road, white-evangelical conservanator who was influential in the Prop 8. mess. And while those hurt feelings are there, I think we all need to just need to take a step back for a second, and trust that Barack knows what he's doing.

To quote pundit kitchen:

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

I think, between now and the inauguration ceremonies, I'm going to check my baggage at the door. This is going to be looked at, in a year, as a non-issue. Let's be a little more forward thinking, nu*?

*Look for a post soon called Das Fettchen's Wörterbuch, where you'll finally learn about all of those crkay words I use. Incidentally, nu is yiddish for "right?" or "don't you think?" or "what the fuck is wrong with you already won't you just do what I tell you?". We could all use a little more yiddish, I think.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


*Watashitachi yappari dekimasu! That's Yes we can auf Japanisch. Go ahead with my High School Japanese skills.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Iron Man, the Film for Ecofeminists?

For those of you who read Fettchen, I apologize for being MIA these past few weeks. Life has been nutty, you know, with class (Neue-Sachlichkeit-Marlowe-Queer-Theory-What?), work (Forty-Student-Leaders-What?), stomach flu (suck!), Rock Band for my Wii (mwahhahhahhaha!), and design/writing articles for my college's newspaper (read my latest article here).

After the torrent that was the month of September, I took this evening to catch up with a friend of mine and have a night of hanging out and movie watching. The movie of choice? Iron Man.

I enjoyed the film a lot, and since I didn't see the movie when it came out, there's no sense in writing a review or giving you a full blown rundown of the film (you can get that, if you want it, here). What I would like to offer is a slightly different angle that some of my counterparts in the blogosphere may not have taken.

Iron Man fits into the vogue of superhero-moviedom with all of its variegated clichés. Take one part debonair + two parts asshole + 3 fl. oz of dramatic-life-changing-moment + financial capital + weird-primogeniture-motif and you've got 2.35 hours of action packed, testosterone injected, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-ary. In a word: Trite.

Not so with Iron Man. I'm excited that, despite preconceived notions, we're starting to see films coming out of the superhero genre with more substance than before. Iron Man offers a lot of truly critical moments that give to more sophisticated moviegoers that spark of higher-thinking we need to keep watching.

The character of Tony Stark fits the mold of comics superhero to the T, with splashes of womanizer and alcoholic. After the character undergoes his crisis and begins to craft his hero identity, we see an interesting frame of thinking envisaged by the filmmaker. In a world where the power of patriarchy and he who carries a big stick is king, Iron Man posits that its the sleeker, more compact, more energy efficient superhero that saves the day.

Ecofeminism asserts that the patriarchal oppression of woman intersects and is analogous to the oppression of the earth through conquest and imperialism. Ecofeminists consider the domination of nature by a system that values male-land ownership to be at the root of the exploitation of lands, the tragedy of the commons, and the subjugation of the third world and persons of color.

While an ecofeminist critique is far from the center of Iron Man's purpose as a film, I find that, at times, the film makes an ecofeminist critique.

In the film, the main character is initially culpable with the patriarchal system of war that rapes and pillages the people of Afghanistan. Tony Stark creates weaponry that is, without his knowledge, sold to the people he thought he was rightfully fighting. After being captured and forced into labor (you know, building a bomb), Stark realizes who the real enemy is: the system that engenders the people that have held him captive with their warmongering and manaical hatred of others. Through this transformation, Stark leaves his powerful weapons that hurt the earth in order to build a single weapon to save it: his suit.

The exoskeleton, unlike the weapons he's crafted previously, are small and compact. Their purpose is to efficiently get in an out of situations in order to help people, not hurt them. Now, I'm not so into my own argument not to admit that his way of helping people is by breaking those who hurt them in half (or throwing them through brick walls, or shooting them in the head, or handing them over to vigilante justice . . . where was I?), but keep up with me. In essence, Stark shifts from thinking about weapons as a way to subjugated and force surrender toward the idea that technology can be used to aid those who are being subjugated and forced to surrender.

In the last epic fight of the film, Stark is pit up against another version of his suit, one that is clunkier, slower, and seemingly more powerful because of its might and brawn. Stark is able to defeat this suit because of the increased effectiveness and efficiency of his smaller suit. In a show down of arms, its the Prius of the two, the suit with better mileage if you will, that saves the day.

At the end of the day, the film isn't about an ecofeminist critique. Though elements of a critique float around the edges of the movie, the film finishes with all the glory of the commonplace wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-ary, as always. What remains, however, is that these critiques, these thoughts, are perimating the genre-driven, money-grubbing sphere of that his Hollywood. Its only a matter of time before this sleekified, possibly-maybe ecofeminist superhero takes a not so nuanced step out of the fading limelight of patriarchy and into the, forgive the flourish, basking radiance that is deeply thought provoking, yet entertaining, film media.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So, sometimes, I can't resist . . .

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

The Problem with "Persepolis," the film

So in an increasing attempt to solidify what this blog talks about, I think it safe to say that anything I want to talk about is what this blog talks about.


Essentially, the frame of this blog is a means for you to understand the writer: where he comes from, what he's thinking, and why, perhaps, he's thinking it. In addition to being morbidly obese and twenty-one years of age, I'm also a proud, gay, gender-queer person who is a staunch feminist. It is from that lens that I'd like to give my two cents on the film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis."

Having read the novel about a year ago and recently as part of a common reading program put on by my university (which I reported on here for my college's newspaper), I've come to know the book, and the author, very well. In addition to reading Persepolis, I've also read Satrapi's book Embroideries, which was published between the two halves of Persepolis. While I wouldn't call myself an expert on Satrapi, I feel as if I've come to understand her language of storytelling—her interesting cross-section between graphic novel and memoir.

One thing that I love about Satrapi's novels is that they complicate the western view of women in Iran. There's this idea in the western mind (planted there for us by President Bush in his famous speech, naming, among others, Iran as part of an Axis of Evil) that the women of Arabic, middle-eastern countries have, for centuries long, been persecuted under Islamic law. It appeals to our western sense of crusade romanticism that even the intellegencia fall under. One way to rationalize our nation's blatant overstepping of Afghanistani, Iraqi, and dare I say soon-to-be Iranian rights is that we, as a country, will liberate these women from the oppressive, patriarchial hands of their sharia-laden overlords.

Satrapi works against this. She shows that, in Iran, middle to upper-class women had the choice whether or not to veil and that their was great backlash against its imposition upon Iranian women in the early 80s. Satrapi also shows, through her memoir, why women took off the veil, and, I think more importantly, why she might choose to put the veil back on, and what such an action means.

What struck me as odd is the way that the movie side-stepped most of these complications and how that might simplify, or even inhibit, the way a receiver of the memoir perceived the intricacies of the veil.

It's always a problem, adaptation, and good adaptation is almost an art form. For it to go about well, the writers and directors who are adapting the novel need to be experts in the novel and be able to capture the novels spirit—they must be able move past the letters of the page and into the heart of the story. What 'Persepolis' did, however, was go right past the heart of the story's literary complication, and bundle the movie inside of an animated, histrionic ball, that made the subject matter of the book not only more superficially interesting, but also lose insight into the complexities of the gender politics of the novel.

What viewers got was a sense of the hardship Satrapi undertook in her life in order to be a woman, free from the oppression of Iran not the struggle that Satrapi endured in order to be congruent with herself. The book drew an interesting line between what one's actions and words and what one believes and how, despite the simplification of a western eye, the truth of the matter is more complex and deep then ever before imagined. The viewer does a great disservice to themselves by not reading the book because in this adaptation what isn't lost is the heart of the story, it's the heart of the purpose of the story—to show us that we, as westerners, are not only very much like a little girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution, but that, more importantly, we are very much different from a little girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution.

Despite my theoretical impetus for writing this post, I enjoyed the movie. But when reading important and necessary books like "Persepolis," given our shaky political climate, what's more important—that I enjoy the movie? or that I engage in a dialog that makes more difficult my preconceived notions, thus prompting me to probe deeper and understand more?

I'm glad I understand more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's english for beschäftig?

Oh yes. Busy. Beschäftig (buh-chef-tih) means busy. One can verbalize this noun, and say "ich beschäftige mich" or "I busy myself" (it's a reflexive verb).

The point is—last week Friday was the first day all week that I'd been home before sundown. This is the third time in five days that I've gone to bed around 3 and woken up around 8.

Balance. Please?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"The Call" Logo

With less than 60 days to perhaps the most world-watched, life-changing, decision-making election of my generation, I can't help but share a bit of my graphic designer's perspective on this:

The logo for The Call, self described as a "divinely initiated, multi-racial, multi-generational, and cross-denominational gathering to corporate prayer and fasting." The group is calling for fellow christianists across the United States to fly into San Diego, clog its empty Manchester Hyatt suites, and join each other at Qualcomm Stadium to fast for the nation and appeal to God to end Gay Marriage. Judging by the ultra-swank video they've posted on their website and youtube, they've got some talented people working for them.

Now, I'm not going to say anything about my opinion of their organization or my belief that what they are doing is not only morally reprehensible as they fundamentally seek to enact their own belief systems into law, but just plain nonsensical [Because not eating is going to make they gays straight? (wait . . . there I go again with the editorializing. Damnit.)].

I'm simply going to offer my two cents on their design choices.

:: ahem ::

An arrow pointing up, inside of a circle, for an organization hell-bent on destroying the right for to all Californians to marry who the choose?

In a word: Sub-tle.

I think their designer was thinking "I'll just shove a bit more penis into this vagina by complementing it with a neat-o sans-serif type treatment."

Way to go, right-wing America. Brava.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Everyday a Marathon, addendum

. . . It's not that I don't like the encouragement. It's that sometimes I feel that it trivializes my real pain. The point of the last post was to emphasize the realness of my pain and struggles.


Everyday a Marathon

The school year has begun, which for most means finally cracking open those books after a summer of non-commitment, or perhaps a summer of working that Barista job, but still having time to take a step back and tip-toe through the random-ten-hour-Six-Feet-Under-marathons.

I've had a different summer and thus, a different first day back.

Because of my internship with Student Involvement and Leadership at my university (I was their print and web design intern), in some ways, I never left last year. My summer was filled with plenty of fun, enjoyment, and relaxation, but for the past month or so, I've been going 200 mph, trying to mitigate my various levels of involvement while still doing my respective jobs. This has effectively translated into one tired Fettchen.

I want to say something that I'll most likely say again and again, but perhaps maybe, when I need to talk about this in the future, I'll just do a clever link back to this post. Think of this as our Grundsatz, a basic principle I want you all to understand:

Walking is hard.

Yesterday, the first day of class, was host to our campus' involvement fair, where the first-years come, fresh from convocation, and get a chance to see the array of clubs and organizations offered at PLU, deciding with whom to give their email. I'm a diversity advocate working out of the diversity center, so from about 8:30 until 9:45 I was running around, getting this together for not only my job, but also the organizations I belong to. There was set up. There was take down. And all before noon, I was zonked.

Then it was time for class.

I want the world to understand that despite the specialness that was yesterday, for me, everyday is a marathon. The weight that I carry around makes it so that by the end of the day, I'm completely exhausted, and sometimes even thinking of moving hurts. The support that we give to fat people when they're working hard physically is the kind of response that values the percieved outcome of that pain, rather than the pain. I don't know how many times I've heard others say "Good for you!" or "Proud of you!" as if they feel that this level of activity is taking me somewhere, to that place of being thin like them.

I'm not sure that's the case, really. I take everyday in stride, hoping that this won't be the day I injure myself. Sometimes, I think, how easier my marathon life would be, were it not for the extra me that I carry.

Monday, September 8, 2008

sos . . .

As in, the plural of so, not the distress call save our souls.

Anyway. I've been gobbled by the hole that is the beginning of school for the past three weeks, and for that, dear bloggypoos, I apologize, not to say that it will get better, because it won't—three jobs, three 300+ level classes, and two clubs? Bet your boo we could be heading toward lean times.

But I want this blog to work. I know!

die vier Zielpunkte Fettchens
otherwise known as Fettchen's four goals!
  1. Post at least once a week
  2. Eventually work toward posting three times a week
  3. Acquire before study-abroad video blogging technologies
  4. Get a cat to love and snuggle with
Okay, so the last goal isn't related to this blog. But I wants one.

Thanks for the understanding lovelies. Until then, das Bett.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Faith and the Election

Earlier today I had a conversation with a friend and fellow blogger Jessica about the appropriateness of faith and religious language in public discussions.

Today, I offer you scripture:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
--Hebrews 11:1
This evening I broke down in my parent's living room. My sister and I had just finished watching Michelle Obama's speech on YouTube and were commencing to watch Barack Obama's speech where he accepted the nomination. I watched the speech last night, in my bed, after a long and busy day, and then I was moved.

Today I broke down.

I cried and told my sister about the hope I felt, that I, for the the first time in years, feel patriotic about my country and hopeful about my world. My mother, whose vote I was not sure of, talked with me, and for the first time in my life as an adult--I felt as if we truly saw eye to eye and made a deep, intellectual connection.

My faith in America and my family has been ignited. I stand in Faith and Hope tonight, not saying that Obama will be my president. The work of that is done. Obama is my president and I stand in hopeful expectation, with evidence of things not seen.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

After the Stairs

It was worth it, even though I was miffed. I climbed them and found it to be uplifting, in the end.

I'm going to write soon about my experience at PLU's Student Leadership Institute. First, das Essen. And then das Bett.

For an optimist, I'm pretty pessimistic . . .

After a day of walking around Tacoma, pushing past inconceivable limits, and making great strides through pain and discomfort, I am now sentenced to the lower floor of the UC. Without warning, cause, or information as to when the elevator would be fixed, facilities at PLU has decided to render elevator service out of order.

In a word: Livid.

In another word: Hurt.

In a few sentences: After a day like today, this was the last thing I needed. As a morbidly obese person, I hold on to the plans and precautions I make in daily living. I know when to walk, how to walk there, where resting places are, and how far I can make it in between. I know in whose car to ride based on my comfortably. I know what words and defenses to make when I can't do something.

There are major portions of tonight that I'm missing and this has thrown a serious wrench in my experience.

I'm going upstairs. Or at least trying.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Can I get my two-piece with a side of $300, plz?

Friday, I had a long day.

While I wanted to write you a blog post about all of the wonderful things I had done this summer in my internship, I had a hell of a time getting my last big project done. This brochure of doom (I feel like a Fettchen's Terminology Post is yet to come) was getting on my nerves and despite having excellent company for lunch, my microwavables weren't cutting it and I needed me some subway.

As my sister and I were strolling up to our local sandwich-artist-establishment, the radio station blaring, the music (Bleeding Love and other such delectables) cut to two female voices, trash talking, the kind of noise you just tune out. Today, however, was an exception.

Radio Transcript*

Did you hear about Alabama? They're giving people a year to lose weight and if they don't, they're going to charge them.


Nuh uh!

Yes huh.

You straight trippin'.

Yes, they're giving fat people one year to lose weight and then they're either going to have to leave, or pay.

Oh shit!

Yes, Oh shit indeed.

My sister and I were both completely taken aback. The people speaking on the radio station weren't so much outraged at the fact that a state was telling its citizens that they needed to lose weight or face paying more money—as they were thinking it funny that fat people were either going to have to "drop that two piece**" or flee Alabama.

I placed my order for a veggie delite, toasted, on italian herb and cheese with all the veggies (except green peppers), yes I do want banana peppers and mayo (light), oil and vinegar please, toasted while my sister had a mini-sub which she got for free with her card. I, of course, proceeded to get angry and bombast the radio talk show hosts with my sister. We both were completely flummoxed and despite our more than apparent anger—this invisible fear hung between us: It's happening. We, both overweight for our entire lives, have experienced the quite visible nonacceptance and at times blatant discrimination that overweight people face daily. Stares. Ugly little children pointing us out to their inattentive parents. Laughs. Ambivalence. The thought crossed both of our minds as we waited for our sandwiches.

If it could happen there, what's to stop it from happening here—happening to us?

When the radio was turned back on, we got the whole story. In fact, it isn't that Alabama is charging its citizens for being overweight, but its state workers. If after a year of leniency and access to state funded programs these workers do not make progress, they will be charged an extra $25 in health premiums, about $300 more than their BMI-efficient co-workers.

While I understand the logic (it apparently having worked for smoking state workers), I can't jump behind the motivations. In essence, this sends a message to the citizens of Alabama that their bodies aren't valued assets to the state, but are perceived as costing them more money, and as such, should be penalized. It doesn't look at diets, at body types, at activity, or even at overall health, but at a quantitative number that truly, only shows a minute part of someone's overall wellness. What should feel like a state saying "hey guy, it's okay, let's see what I, the recipient of your tax dollars, can do to help you become well" is instead yet another example of institutionalized discrimination against the obese.

When you penalize the obese, you send the message that they—that we—are unwelcome.

For me, this policy will creates more stressors and will likely cause people to lose weight rapidly and unhealthily. Alabama should be on the side of wellness and on the side of its state workers, not on the side of beauty and its pocketbooks.

*Artistic Representation not intended to actually quote the radio show hosts. Like, at all.
**This was actually said.


So. All I want to do for you people is write awesome, amazing, thoughtful, inquiring, and innovative posts. Developing the habit of blogging remains, however, daunting. Here's the deal:

I'm working on three posts right now, all of which look promising, and I'm going to get them to you by Monday.

I just feel the need to set goals and remain focused. Did I mention I've been up since 7:30?

Do me a favor—keep reading, even when I'm all crazy and shit. I mean, you wouldn't be here unless you liked crazy and shit, right?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Squash Soup, Redux

So I had a little too much fun with Photobooth in the office. Sue me.

The squash soup, on day two, was not the best thing ever. Which makes me sad, because I have a good track record soup-wise. I suppose the main issue is that it isn't soup, it's a vravy, which is my new word for vegetarian gravy.

What's interesting about my soup making is that it coincides with amazing soup weather. Western Washington was besieged by hot weather of doom, which caused me at times to feel nauseous. In less than 24 hours the days of 85-90 degree weather somersaulted (heh—that boys and girls is what we call a pun) to 65-70 degree weather. It seems that my Squash Vravy-Jasmine Rice-Two Tortilla combo was right up nature's alley.

A short post yes, but whatever. It's 11:31 and I think, for the first time in months, I'm tired before midnight.

In the coming days: Fettchen's Goodbye to his Summer Internship and Fettchen's Corolary to Godwin's Law. Should be fun. I expect y'all to be on the edge of your seats. snore.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Squash Soup

  • 1 Whole Onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sized bag of baby carrots, chopped
  • 5 small potatoes, chopped
  • 1 2 lb. bag of frozen, chopped squash
  • 2 cans of yams, rinsed
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • garlic powder (lots)
  • curry powder (some)
  • basil (little)
  • paprika (bit)
  • salt/pepper
  • water (omg lots)
  1. Sweat Onions and Carrots in butter/oil mixture until soft and slightly caramelized
  2. Add Potatoes, Squash, Yams, Garlic Powder, Curry Powder, and Basil
  3. Stir and let cook a bit
  4. Add water; set to boil
  5. When boiling add paprika, salt, pepper
  6. Let boil and reduce by 1/2 inch
  7. Use immersion blender until smooth
As you can see, I more of an intuative cook. This also means that I a) make a shit ton of soup and b) I have a general sense of how things are going to work out, but there are always some surprises.

In this instance, I think my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants soup turned out more like an really good recipe for vegetarian gravy. There wasn't enough bits to make a thick immersion, but it tasted amazing over rice. I think recommendations for my next try at Squash Soup (I have another bag of frozen, chopped squash) will be to:
  • Add Corn
  • Use less Water
  • Add Vegetable Bullion
Now, you may ask, What does Squash Soup have to do with your blog, Herr Fettchen?

That shall be explained tomorrow. Until then, das Bett.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Can't sleep, busy dreaming

It's Monday, 3:01 AM and I need to be working in less than seven hours. There are a host of reasons why I can't sleep, most of which boil down to the fact that I can feel an immense change in my life coming.

The title of this blog is das Fettchen, German(ish) for fatty. The actual word is das Dickerchen, meaning literally "little thicky," which, for my audience, made mostly of English speakers, could become tricky (sidenote: one of my favorite phrases when I was first learning German was ich ziehe einen dicken Pulli an, or I put on a thick pullover. Say it out loud if you don't think its funny yet. There you go. Incidentally this is a good way of remembering the masculine of the accusative case).

Where was I: I chose the title das Fettchen for my blog because 1) I like the way it sounds, way better than Dickerchen, 2) I speak German, and 3) frankly, that's what I am—a fatty.

Since I was born, I've been a big kid. My mother, who was 510 at the time I was born (she's since gotten a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and is a paltry 200) broke her pelvis pushing me out. A Pentecostal Christian at the time, she bore me, all 11 lbs 3.5 oz (she claims the other 0.5 oz for effort) on nothing more than aspirin and prayer. The joke growing up was that I, days old, pushed her out of the hospital.

But this blog isn't about where I came from. It's about who I am.

I have, for the duration of my life, been overweight. Since I was in eighth grade, I've been morbidly obese. Morbid Obesity is defined as having a BMI over 40 or being 100 over one's desired weight. My BMI is 75.

I don't write this to frighten you, or me (although it does), or to elicit your pity—I need to give you some idea of what I'm working with.

The subtitle of this blog is Young, Ambitious, and Morbidly Obese in America. You've been prepped with the nitty-gritty. I, like many of my excessively-overweight peers, don't spend my life committed to losing weight. I spend my life living, inking out an existence same as you, but under the persistent heaviness of health, of society, of normalcy. You will come to learn here about what it's like to be me—I'm 21, a college student at a small liberal arts school, an English/German Major, Chinese Studies Minor, a co-editor of a literary magazine, a design layout editor for a college newspaper, a student leader/liaison for a Diversity Center, and a 3.89 GPA student, who's taking 400 level German after skipping three semesters from 102, a 300-level American Lit class and senior seminar on Shakespeare's Contemporaries in his junior year. Did I mention that I'm also a drag queen?

The point of all of that is to say that in spite of my size, I've lived my life and have excelled in it. I have pushed past the point of what normally-sized individuals would call success and rounded up honors and accolades all to prove a point—this size does not own me.

But the clock is ticking.

In the next year, I plan to do something about it. Follow me in my journey.

Plans for the Week:
  • Update Layout of Blog
  • Finish _Black, White, and Jewish_ by Rebecca Walker and Re-read of _Want_ by Rick Barot before Sam gets here
  • Get flashcards started for German verbs found in _Crazy_ and _Töchter des Himmels_
  • Make Squash Soup