Sunday, December 30, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

I saw Charlie Wilson's War today.

The Julia Roberts character says "He was convicted by a jury," as her way of absolving Zia of any complicity in Bhutto's execution.

This movie is interesting for many reasons, but the treatment of women in it is a useful reminder that we've come a little way over the last 27-odd years.

I'm not claiming there are no more sexist idiots in our legislatures. But Charlie Wilson wasn't a complete idiot. While he wanted pretty women around, he also wanted competent women around. He relied completely on his main assistant (ably played by Amy Adams). While he readily bedded any woman who was willing, he seemed particularly to admire women like Joanne who also had power and money.

a little tah dah for poetry!

i posted this on my blog as well.
it's an e-mail i just received from the head of the poetry kit list
who is also the main list administrator (i'm the other one. the "american cousin" one, so to speak!)

this is a wonderful award and worth a read. ( a little poetry, couldn't hurt )

; )

This years recipient of the Ted Slade award is Connie Pickard, who has organised events at Morden Tower in Newcastle since 1964. You can see the excellent site for Morden Tower and read something of the long history of the venue at

Connie has been informed today so please feel free to contact her at if you would like to pass on your congrats. I am also pleased to say that I have reached an arrangement with the University of Liverpool to display the glass trophy that we have obtained and which, when the new plinth for it is ready, will carry the names of recipients of the award.

If you would like to know more about the award go to

The Official Citation

Each year at Poetry Kit we have a nomination and voting process to make a number of awards. The most important one as far as we are concerned is to make a good choice for the Ted Slade Award. Ted Slade was the founder of the Poetry Kit and the award is a recognition of others who like him gave freely of their time and energy in order to help preserve a platform for poetry at the grass roots in the UK or to develop an audience for it.

I am incredibly honoured to tell you that the award this year has been awarded to you for your tireless work in providing a platform for poetry.

The award will be listed on the front page of Poetry Kit Website where it will be seen by our 10 thousand plus visitors each day and their name will be inscribed on the trophy which will be on permanent public display.

You can find out more about the award at

The recipients of this award are;
Sally Evans
(Poetry Scotland)
Gerald England
(New Hope Int.)


Michael Horovitz

(Poetry Olympics)


Connie Pickard

(Morden Tower)


Saturday, December 29, 2007

End of Year Stuff

Just a few random thoughts I want to put out as we head into the New Year.

Has anyone seen the movie Juno? I loved Saved and this sounds interesting. Should I see it?

As expected, Ledcat came through and gifted me with Season One of Maude. We watched the first three episodes last night. It was amazing how relevant the entire episodes are to contemporary life in the United States. The political discussions, the battles over family values, the intergenerational relations, the "white liberal guilt" dynamics ... it is all there. I can't wait for more stay-at-home evenings to view the remainder of the discs.

Today is my blog's two year anniversary. And it received a really cool present as one of my favorite bloggers, Pam from Pam's House Blend, posted a comment. Very cool.

I love historical mystery novels. It seems to be a genre that lifts up strong, smart women. I just found a new series by Kathy Lynn Emerson set circa 1580 in Elizabethian England. The first novel I read which I believe is the most recent focuses on the race to lay claim to the New World. I got a little lost in the details, but it was a slightly different account of how Spain and England were locked in a death match over this conquest.

The downside to the genre is that most of the protagonists seem a little too modern-thinking. There's often very little growth to show how the progressive female character evolved from a culture hostile to uppity women. She's just suddenly there. Maisie Dobbs is one exception. The Gaslight Mysteries are a little less so.

Our niece turns 2 tomorrow. We bought her a retro Slinky and the book "Walter the Farting Dog" complete with a stuffed dog that farts. It is very popular with the toddler and preschool set. Our friend's daughter takes it to show and tell on a regular basis. The teacher lets all the other children "farted" the stuffed dog. I'm curious how my sister-in-law will feel.

We saw Charlie Wilson's War about five days before the Bhutto assassination. I *think* Julia Robert's character absolves the Pakistani leader of her father's death. I can't recall the exact line. Anyone?

Friday, December 28, 2007

interview with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

I just posted an interview I did with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on my blog. We talked about queer writing and queer politics. I hope you check it out.

Isn't She Lovely?

The Post-Gazette's most feminist columnist, Tony Norman, gave our Maria a shout out.

I canvassed colleagues and friends to help me create a parallel list: "The
25 Most Beautiful People for Now" in Pittsburgh. I am grateful for all their
suggestions, but the final list (in no particular order) was concocted according
to standards known only to me:

David DeAngelo and Maria Lupinacci are co-founders of "2 Political
Junkies," one of the most popular political blogs in town. David is no Adonis,
but he and Maria do have "beautiful minds."

As further proof of just how beautiful they are, check out Maria's latest metamorphosis ... I bet no one from the Top 25 Beautiful People from Pittsburgh Magazine would show such creativity!

And just for the record, the lesbians believe that David does have Adonisish qualities ... especially around the glasses.

Metrobloggers in Pakistan

I should probably be posting this on Metro Blogs, but as there's already a post about it here, I thought I would follow-up. I just received an e-mail from Sean Bonner, The Big Cheese of MetroBloggers, concerning Pakistan. [Copy and Pasted below.]

"Hey Metrobloggers!

Just a really quick note for you at the moment. As you might haveheard there have been some major events in Pakistan in the last 24hours including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Of course, thePakistani Metrobloggers are doing an amazing job covering the news andlocal reactions and major press is noticing very quickly. Check out afew of these stories:

If you want to follow this, or see more about any of it check out anyone (or all three) of our blogs there:

you can also follow metroblogging on twitter where we'll be postingannouncements as they come in:

I've had a few people ask if they can write about our blogs in theircity, even if it isn't related and of course pointing people in yourcity to what were doing in other cities during major events isperfectly OK. You can see how Markland in LA did this very thing:

OK, that's all for now. Stay safe everyone, and keep up the amazing work!

-Agent Ska-

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

From the PG website ...

By SADAQAT JAN and ZARAR KHAN Associated Press Writers


RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.
Bhutto's supporters erupted in anger and grief after her death, attacking police and burning tires and election campaign posters in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf.

Here's the BBC

Hospital anguish

The killing is likely to deepen the political crisis in Pakistan, where radicals had vowed to disrupt the vote and Musharraf's opponents, including Bhutto, accused him of planning to rig the result.

Manzoor said he believed the poll, sheduled for January 8, would now be cancelled

Blogher '08


I know I sent this out via e-mail but I thought I would also post it here for any women out there who are readers and not authors.

Blogher is the national blog that houses lots and lots and lots of women bloggers from all over the USA (I'm sure that that's not their official elevator pitch).

They have various conferences.

I'm looking to go to the one this summer in San Fran.

Conference List Here.

Agent Ska

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last Words

I have to write my first eulogy.

One of my dearest friends (it was as close to a Harold and Maude relationship as you could get in real life, only vice-versa) passed away just hours after my last visit with him Tuesday. I'm not fishing for condolences, but I have an opportunity to praise a life well-lived, and so I say here that my neighbor, Fritz Vogt, 89, was one of the most remarkable people I've ever known. He was a good man with all the scars and flaws, and I'll take that over a saint any day.

His daughter Francine, a city school teacher, is one of my dearest friends and asked me to say a few words at his ceremony Saturday. She gave me the greatest flattery one could ever receive -- he knew that I was coming Tuesday to visit because I was off that morning, and when she called to give me the news later, this is how she broke it: "He waited for you."

"So you mean?"

Yes, a great life over. She was calm, and we all expected it, but the laughter comes and goes with the tears. He was one of the last great bar owners of our generation -- former owner of "The Spot" in Whitaker and "The Crafton Grill." He hung out with Joe Chiodo. He flirted with me incessantly for years. He would become angry when I said I loved him like a grandfather -- and so I'd switch it to "father."

I sat with him that morning and read him the headlines from the newspaper, something we did a lot of together, and though he was unable to speak from being weak, I continued anyway, telling him that he got out of the bar business just in time. Then I talked about the squirrels outside the window of his hospice room, as he always did when he lived at home, because they'd eat his bird food, and I would always remind him that squirrels are God's creatures too and they need to eat as well. He'd roll his eyes and groan. We argued all the time!

He was convinced from the first day he met me that I was sent to him from a "higher power" because we didn't meet until his wife passed away. We shared the same name, so I became "Fran number 2."

Cheers to a great man, who was loved to the very end by his family, friends and -- me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Vagina Monologues -- Free show for bloggers!

Cynthia Closkey made mention of this on her website today and thought it would be a great tidbit of information to share with our group!

From her blog:

Pittsburgh Bloggers Invited to "The Vagina Monologues"

City Theatre, on Pittsburgh's South Side, is staging a new production of the mega-hit "The Vagina Monologues," and they're extending a special invitation to the bloggers of Pittsburgh -- female and otherwise.

"The Vagina Monologues," Eve Ensler's revolutionary and entertaining theatre event, will star Erica Bradshaw, Holli Hamilton and Laurie Klatscher. These three awesome actresses will list pet names for private parts, tell stories about discovering "downthere," and discuss the wonders of birth. Staged in City Theatre's 111-seat Hamburg Studio, the shocking truths and raucous humor will be an up-close and personal experience for all.

Local bloggers are invited to bring a guest and attend the show for free on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 pm. You'll also enjoy a complimentary glass of wine in the theatre lobby bar beginning at 4:30 pm. If you choose to write about "The Vagina Monologues" on your blog afterwards, the theatre will also provide a special discount code that you can offer your readers.

IMPORTANT: To reserve your seats, please send an email to Margie Romero (mromero at by Wednesday, January 2, 2008. Include your name, the name and URL of your blog, and the number of seats you wish to reserve (1 or 2).

Space is limited, so sign up today!

I have never seen this show before, but am definitely looking forward to going. Cynthia also had the right idea with perhaps meeting afterwards for coffee, etc. Hope to see some of you there!

a question of sheets and men and women

while posting on my blog about my excitement over finding good sheets in a great color i started to wonder why it seems that more women care about sheets and such then men do.
is that really the way that it is or are men leery of saying they have favorite colors or even know about thread counts? i knew a guy who picked out the wall papers and paints for his home but insisted that his wife tell friends that they were her choices. silly isn't it? says a lot about our culture around here than at first thought.
so, i'm wondering is it stereotypical to believe that things like sheet choice or paint shade is a female concern unless it is a man's business like interior design or are there many men like my friend out there, just somehow thinking it is GASP, unmanly to care about those things?
any ideas?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pittsburgh DIY Craft Congress in New York TImes

Four years ago I created an event called Handmade Arcade, which is a DIY Craft Fair, offering indie crafters an opportunity to sell their wares in Pittsburgh. With a small group of volunteers we put on the first HA, with 32 vendors and about 800 visitors. Both vendors and visitors doubled in number yearly.

As the DIY craft movement grew we thought it'd be a good idea to hold a gathering, in Pittsburgh, of DIY craft fair organizers, webzine editors, etc. The event, called Craft Congress & held March 31 & April 1, 2007, was a success with participants coming from across the U.S., Canada and even one from Leeds, U.K. One of the attendees was Rob Walker who writes for the New York Times.

Below is the article he wrote about current trends in the DIY craft movement, which includes a bit about his visit to Pittsburgh. It appears in today's (12/16/07) NYT:

Title: "Handmade 2.0"
Author: Rob Walker (who attended Craft Congress)
Date: 12/16/07
Subject: current DIY craft scene

Article Here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Party Tomorrow!

Benefit Party!

Dance! Film! Music! Interviews! Photography! Oh My!

Sumptuous Raffle! Delectable Delicacies! Fashionable Fancies!

Resources and Support for Women in Pittsburgh & The World!

Family Friendly & BYOB!

4130 Butler St. @ 42nd

CoffeeHouse and World Lounge

Your Inner Vagabond

Doors and Performances 7 PM

Tickets- General Admission 25$

Basically, you should go.

-Agent Ska-

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


No politician wants to raise property taxes (or give the appearance that they do).

Of course not. Then no one will vote for them.

So, why not start from the top -- and tap those resources -- and then work your way down, and get homeowners to actually pay the property taxes they should first? For example, off the top of my head, I can tell you about a home in Fox Chapel that was purchased for $750,000 and the owners are only paying on a value of little more than $500,000 in property taxes. It's not just there. It's in Squirrel Hill. Shadyside. It's everywhere. (Andy Sheehan, where are you?)

This should incense you (unless you are one of the people wealthy enough to afford a quarter-million dollar home and your conscience allows you to get away with a huge tax rebate). You can find it all over the Allegheny County Property Assessment page. Of course, Danny "The Goosekiller" Onorato and his cronies decided to take away your ability to search by name -- so if you want to find a pattern (say, just cosmically, among people with "connections" to this or that) -- it would be a lot harder to find.

Dan Onorato is making waves and headlines, because he's busy poising himself for his next gig.


Instead of her usual divisive rhetoric (with a few cleverly mined words and phrases painstakingly interwoven to give the illusion of "flair"), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey writes in favor of a program that unites the left and the right.

Above: Me, savoring the moment. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do always wear satin evening gowns. You gotta problem?

Monday, December 10, 2007


Since I know we're a diverse group and this speaks for itself, I present what some of you will probably find to be the scariest thing since "Jesus Camp."

Please keep in mind that the first commandment of Conservapedia states that "everything you post must be true and verifiable."

Especially keep that in mind when you read about the debate over whether the kangaroos got to Australia by riding on rafts.

Since I'm familiar with the Focus on the Family view on single mothers, I queried that term. When that didn't work, I tried the more-Christian-y "wedlock." No luck, but I was presented with a link to the "Bastard" page.

And here are some of the more interesting bits:

Global Warming
Gay Marriage
Planned Parenthood

And the not-so-surprising Condoms

After all that, the Examples of Bias in Wikipedia are particularly entertaining.

Uh oh

Pittsburgh Officer Accused Of Indecent Assault


A Pittsburgh police officer is on administrative duty while officials investigate a report over the weekend alleging that the 12-year veteran was involved in an indecent assault.

Few other details are known about the incident at this point.

A brief statement from the chief's office says only that department's Sex Assault and Family Crisis Unit (SAFC) "was notified of a reported alleged sexual assault involving a Pittsburgh Police Officer" at 1pm Saturday.

The statement goes on to stay that "the accused officer... has been placed on Administrative Duty following allegations of Indecent Assault without Consent toward a female victim."

The SAFC is currently looking into the allegations, as is the Allegheny County District.

-Agent Ska-

Chatham Campaign Training for Women

From Early Returns....

"More Benningtons to come?

Are political stars born, or made? Chatham University is betting they can be made, and is holding its Pennsylvania Women's Campaign School from Jan. 25 to 27.

The 2 1/2-day workshop is meant to teach participants to create an effective campaign message, handle communication crises, manage criticism and raise money. Teams of participants will work together to simulate campaigns and network with elected officials.

"The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania currently ranks 44th in the number of women serving in its Legislature with only 37 women serving as of the current legislative session," said Dr. Allyson Lowe, the director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy, in a press release from which this blog item draws most of its information. "The limited presence of women in public leadership creates a compelling interest in organizations, like ours, to train women to successfully run a campaign; we are dedicated to producing candidates who are both capable of running and winning, like Campaign School alum Representative Lisa Bennington" who toppled Rep. Frank Pistella in 2006.

That's the same Ms. Bennington who recently opted to give back her annual cost-of-living raise.

Tuition is $200, and registration forms are due Jan. 9. And remember, campaign school makes a thoughtful holiday gift for the politically ambitious woman on your list."

Thanks to Bram for bringing this to my attention.

-Agent Ska-

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Saw this outside a tavern on Route 88 in Castle Shannon this afternoon.
Fellow blogger (but-not-just-a-blogger) MacYapper says get used to it. I say that's the attitude of an old, unimpassionated fart. But I'm sure if he were a rebel back in the day, he'd have tried to grab the biggest crate of tea all by himself at that Boston Tea Party, just for the photo op.*

I've considered arguments on both sides, but what the distillery boils down to for me as a member of the shrinking "middle class" is that plainly, I'm just sick and fucking tired of being nickeled and dimed to death.

Danny "The Goosekiller" Onorato should be shaking down the pockets of, oh, I dunno -- nonprofit obscenities like UMPC, that, while claiming to be making quality of life better, are, in the end, just softly killing us all.

Politicians can't do that, though -- because corporations run the world, and your "public servants" are there to simply do their bidding, though they go to excruciatingly elaborate -- almost surreal -- extremes to convince you otherwise. Anymore, I feel like I'm just watching the Theatre of the Absurd when I see a political debate.

Their greatest red herring is the continued polarization of left and right in America. Some of their greatest aids are our complacency and our fascination with the rich, the famous and the morbid. Wretched consumerism is the opium of the people.

* Ms. Mon likes Yapper, even if he is annoying, so if you don't know the back story, this is good-natured ribbing. Oh, and it would have been more like an "illustration op," since they didn't have cameras back then.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Information for victims of Police Officer Domestic Violence

When a police officer is the abuser there are a whole set of separate issues, in addition to those faced by non-officer involved domestic violence. If you have a friend, relative, co-worker who is in an abusive relationship with a police officer, the following are just a few of the informative links found on this excellent blog:


Father of Crystal Judson (Brame) slain by Tacoma Washington's police chief in a murder-suicide that has changed laws and policies, and promotes more change.

Read the P-I series on officer involved domestic violence

Site of consultant Diane Wetendorf and her approach to officer-involved domestic violence


Page from Purple Berets


from The National Center for Women and Policing

From Abuse of Power, Diane Wetendorf