Archive for November, 2008

Excursion to South Omaha to see Frida Kahlo letters

Posted in Frida Kahlo with tags , , , on November 18, 2008 by xxxicana

Today I visited El Museo Latino in South Omaha to see an exhibit of letters by Frida Kahlo to her friend/doctor Leo Eloesser dating from 1931-1950.


The letters were very interesting and have been available to the public only since 2007. Here is Frida’s portrait of Eloesser:


A couple of months ago I submitted a proposal for a volume on Latina/Chicana motherhood. My contribution would look at Frida’s ambivalence towards motherhood. I found my idea to be supported by one letter in the collection. Biographers have focussed on one incident in particular as crucial in Frida’s life – a miscarriage while she and Diego were in Detroit. Interestingly, letters from Frida to Eleosser indicate that she had decided on an abortion, but the doctor in Detroit convinced her to carry the pregnancy to term (after a failed attempt at inducing miscarriage). Letters before and after the event reveal Frida’s fears, desires, hopes, and concerns. Here is her interpretation of the final miscarriage:


So, this was a fruitful venture to the museum! I’ve been to this area once before for shopping and food . . . but driving ALL THE WAY TO OMAHA always seems like such a chore (and it’s only 50 miles away!).

South Omaha is an interesting area with a significant concentration of Latinos. Along 25th Street there are numerous restaurants, businesses, and organizations that cater to the community. It’s nice to see a vibrant Latino community; it reminds me a lot of Santa Ana’s downtown area (California).


I stopped for lunch at a Salvadoran restaurant and had yucca con chicharon — a rare treat! This is a cardiologist’s dream! Deep fried yucca (manioc, a root), deep fried porkskin/fat, with pickled cabbage on the side. Good thing my health care provide put me on a statin! Here’s a view:


Yum, yum, doesn’t that just look tasty? There’s so much fat in this dish that I can only stand to eat it about once a year!

After literally pigging out, I returned back to Lincoln. On the way back I saw two deer on the side of the road and repeated the mantra . . . “don’t swerve, hit the deer, hit the deer, hit the deer.” I know, that’s a terrible thing to think. But, a former student was very badly injured when the driver swerved to miss the deer and drove off the road (turning over several times). There are so many deer between Lincoln and Omaha that it is pretty common for them to get hit on the highway. A friend of Mister Man hit one on his motorcycle! So, remember, don’t swerve, just keep on going as if you are going to hit the deer. Most likely it will jump out of the way and both will be safe. Sorry, that was random! Anyway, that was my adventure of the day. TTFN.

My First Cyber Conference, plus Friday Nights are Alright For Fighting

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on November 16, 2008 by xxxicana

I posted a little while back about Second Life (SL), a virtual world where one’s avatar(s) can engage in many kinds of activities. Well, yesterday I attended a day long academic conference in SL, “Virtual Praxis: A Confrence on Women’s Community in Second Life.” The event was organized by members of the Women’s Studies Dept. at Ohio State. Here’s the organizing statement:

“As teachers, librarians, artists, health care workers, and as volunteers in the many charitable and activist organizations of Second Life, women are a very visible element of our virtual community. The number of women’s groups and community centers is increasing, supported by an informal network of committed individuals. Those who come here out of curiosity often find themselves involved in these community activities, and those who came for professional reasons often find that their interests have widened and diversified as they have come into contact with Second Life society. Is what we do here just relaxation, a metaphor for what we do in real life, or do our Second Life activities have importance for our home communities and for society in general?”

The conference program can be viewed here:

I learned about the conference fairly randomly and sent in my request to participate. I informed Mister Man that I would be “away” for the day at the conference. Actually, I was sitting 4 feet away from him on my computer. This was such a fascinating event! I dressed my avatar in appropriate conference wear (although I jazzed things up with red high heels). Arriving at Minerva Island, I ran into a self-described newbie that lamented she hadn’t done her “homework” and had to “wear” a dorky pink polka dot dress and a pony tail! Since I’ve been doing some SL traveling, I was able to guide both of us to the conference location. Here’s a shot of my avatar and other audience members:

that’s me next to the racoon

Here’s an overview of the entire conference


Here’s a photo of the speakers:


It was a pretty intense conference. The logistics apparently were quite involved but it turned out very well. The invited papers were read out loud and the text was pasted in simultaneously. At one point, one presenter’s mic didn’t work, so another presenter read the paper for her!

Issues ranged from race and gender in SL, the way that virtual worlds complicate issues of gender (statistics indicate that many male users create female avatars), and then there was an open discussion on women in SL. I recognized the avatar of a scholar at UCI that has published a book I have on order — so I “introduced” myself via IM. We are both anthropologists. As proof that it is indeed a small world, he went to high school in Lincoln!!! His book is called “Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human” (2008 by Tom Boellstorff).

There were about 25 distinct attendees which is pretty good for such an innovative conference venue! I learned a lot and plan to follow up with some of the other people at the conference.

Onion Tears is really responsible for getting me interested in the virtual world via Everquest. I am looking forward to reading her senior thesis on the online gaming world.

This is a great new world for anthropological research and it avoids many of the problems associated with the colonialist history of anthropology. I encourage anyone interested in human behavior to pop in to SL and learn about post-human society. As a matter of fact, an innovator in anthropological applications in SL offers a course on ethnographic methods (registration is $1800).

Back to the conference. After the final open dialog session, music was piped in, a dance floor appeared and a brief period of socializing occurred. I changed into my “real” avatar look and boogied down with the others for a few. After I re-entered RL (real life), I pretty much crashed for the rest of the day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mister Man and I went out to a local tavern on Friday night and stayed up a bit past our bed time. Normally we don’t go out late on Friday’s, but Mister Man wanted to catch a show by a long time acquaintance. So, I dressed in my lazy going out wear (black velvet jeans, black t-shirt, leather jacket) and touched up my makeup. Once we got to the tavern, I got the vibe . . . “sister, what are YOU doing here.”

It turned out to be a VERY interesting evening! Our neighbors went with (they are Tejanos) so we were quite the spectacle walking through the bar. The place was packed and I leaned over to my neighbor, a statistics whiz, and successfully made a joke about the female population of the bar and how she and I skewed the sample in terms of IQ (take my word for it, it was pretty funny).
As I stated before, I felt a strange vibe walking in . . . and was concerned about being harassed. Well, turns out that Mister Man DID get into a scuffle! Fortunately, no blows were exchanged and the offending party was pushed/pulled away from our table! Mister Man still knows how to show a girl a good time!

So, today (Sunday) we are going to catch up on all those little tasks that need to be taken care of . . . so I’ll sign off now.


Shameless Self-Promotion

Posted in Musings with tags , , , on November 13, 2008 by xxxicana

In academia, one can’t really get ahead without indulging in absolutely shameless self-promotion (preferably using a droll, annoying voice). So, Dear Readers, here goes. Please visit Istmo (see my links) and click on “articulos y ensayos” . . . I have an article on ancient Maya music (don’t worry, there’s an English and Spanish version). Istmo is an online journal for Central American literary and cultural studies — the only of its kind. Since this is a growing field, there isn’t a paper journal — “just” an e-journal. Now, this is actually a good thing, I believe. First, since manuscripts don’t have to go through the usual editing , proofing, galley pages stages, things are “published” much more quickly. Further, as my article demonstrates, it is possible to present one’s work in a multi-media fashion. My article has links to images and sounds to enhance the text. On Friday I will be presenting a lecture at UNL for the Ethnic Studies Week celebrations based on this article. It’s been fun to find sound files to insert into my slides . . . including the song “Tres Veces Mojado” (three times a “wetback’) by “Los Tigres del Norte” which is about Salvadoran immigrants that have to cross three borders to arrive in the US. Later I will link the presentation to my UNL webpage where you may view it should you wish. Meanwhile, check out the Istmo article to see what kind of stuff I’ve been working on!

Snarky site for grammaticians

Posted in Musings on November 11, 2008 by xxxicana

I ran across a site that made me fall out of my chair laughing. It’s called the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar [SPOGG]. Just the thing to cheer me up after a round of grading student papers. Oy vey, some are just horrifically bad!

From SPOGG the ten most annoying expressions:

1 – At the end of the day
2 – Fairly unique
3 – I personally
4 – At this moment in time
5 – With all due respect
6 – Absolutely
7 – It’s a nightmare
8 – Shouldn’t of
9 – 24/7
10 – It’s not rocket science

Mr. Man and I have our own pet peeves, including

1. Awesome [should be reserved for acts of God]

2. Dude

3. I flaked

4. sweet

Anyway, this site is only slightly less interesting than the Darwin Awards. Link is on the sidebar.


Halloween, a bit late

Posted in Musings with tags , , on November 6, 2008 by xxxicana

I spent Halloween this year in Bellingham, Washington for a Board of Directors meeting of the National Association for Ethnic Studies. Although the weekend was very productive and I had a great time with my NAES colleagues, I did miss one of my favorite holidays. Mr. Man and I had the best time a couple of years ago at the Q — Lincoln’s gay bar [yes, Lincoln does have a gay bar; there’s also a Lesbian bar, too!] — except that I kept having to shoo off a VERY tall and husky Mae West who was keen on Mr. Man. It seems that every time we go to the Q, Mr. Man comes home with a phone number . . . so I asked that he NOT go to the Q for Halloween without me. Out of respect for the holiday, he did buy THREE BAGS OF SNICKERS BARS. Now, mind you, over the four years I have lived with Tom, not a single trick or treater has knocked on our door (probably because we turn off the light and the door bell doesn’t work and we leave!]. So, my question was, why THREE BAGS OF SNICKERS BARS? “uh . . . just in case ” was his weak response. So, now there are THREE BAGS OF SNICKERS BARS in the house screaming to be eaten . . . I’ve had two so far (two bars, not two bags).

Surprisingly, someone did brave the dark and knew to knock on the door . . . it was Sam and Ben! Sam is my grad student that asked me to officiate her wedding. Here they are in their costumes:


Can you guess who they are? [Hint: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou]. I was disappointed to have missed our trick or treaters.

I did go out to dinner with the NAES peeps to this fab Thai restaurant. Later that evening back in my hotel room I logged on to Second Life to do some “ethnographic research.” I found SL pretty empty! Seems like in some ways SL is not a substitute for RL!

Obama Wins!! Now, let’s get to work!

Posted in 1 on November 5, 2008 by xxxicana

Praise the Gods and Goddesses! Mr. Man and I sat glued to the television watching the returns. It was more than I could really take in. I had held back, not expecting this transformative moment in time. As a child, there were few people of color on TV, there were no Black History or Hispanic months; our greatest leaders were assassinated before I was even aware of anything outside my own family. I’ve lived through the fears of the Reagan years – during the time when I feared my (ex)husband could be deported back to his country of origin to face death squads. As a college student I helped to designate my university a nuclear free zone because at the time nuclear war was still a significant threat. As a college student, I knew where the nuclear fallout shelter on campus was; my greatest nightmare was actually SURVIVING nuclear war. I’ve been discriminated against for being female, Latina, mouthy, and just plain out of line. My parents lived in a segregated world — but they did not accept the limitations society tried to force on them. For all the countless humiliations heaped on people of color, women, sexual outlaws, the poor, and people with disabilities, I believe that tonight’s election results will have a positive effect. I am beyond words tonight and have hope that there can be a different future. I cannot express how I feel right now; I am speechless at the power of the people — the power of collective activism to mobilize for change.