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May 11, 2008

A new holiday, rarely celebrated
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:25 AM * 145 comments

Today is Mother’s Day1. Due to the complex interaction of the sun, the moon, and history, it also happens to be Pentecost2. This conjunction can only happen when Easter is as early as possible in the calendar.

It is proposed, therefore, that the common theme of these two holidays be combined and generalized, so that those who do not celebrate one or both of them have some reason to make whoopie today.

Happy Voice of Command Day, in honor of all of those people in our lives who were irrefutably right. Parents, teachers, counsellors and eminences, priests and priestesses, even good books whose words vibrated our very breastbones and set us on the path of whatever righteousness was needed at the time.3

You will celebrate it.


  1. In the US and much of Europe but not, for instance, the UK or Ireland. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Cape does not allow wearer to fly.
  2. In the Western Christian tradition. The Eastern church is on another calendar.
  3. And moderators. Thank you, Teresa.
Comments on A new holiday, rarely celebrated:
#1 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 04:54 AM:

Every once in a great while, even a government-issued textbook put together by a committee manages to contain a gem akin to a Voice of Command:

Teach your students to have mastery over the aircraft; to fly with verve and spirit to the limit of the aircraft´s flight envelope; to know what they can and cannot do; but draw a very definite distinction between intelligent confidence and foolhardiness. -- pg 36, Transport Canada´s Flight Instructor Guide.

This one has been rattling around in the back of my head for a week now... it´s tucked into a long section on teaching techniques and such, but it´s very nearly a manifesto for all kinds of teaching and instructing, isn´t it?

#2 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 05:47 AM:

Here's to the Lady Jessica and Frank Herbert, whose introduction of The Voice in Dune made me realize just how persuasive, and commanding, a single voice can be.

#3 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 06:31 AM:

This posting gave me a terrific spasm of guilt and fear until I realized that, had I committed the Unforgivable Transgression and forgotten Mothering Sunday, my mother would have been on the phone and doing the Voice at me some hours ago.

Here in the UK (and Ireland too) the magic day is three weeks before Easter. And, back then, I didn't forget. Phew.

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 06:55 AM:

Dave Langford @3:
Here in the UK (and Ireland too) the magic day is three weeks before Easter.

I have updated the footnote to clarify this. I would rather not lose any of our British or Irish members to heart failure.

#5 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:28 AM:

Here's to the Voice of Command in our lives.
May it guide us, steer us, and lead us through
each challenge, trial, and test that arrives
as we face each day and each night anew.

May it never grow too soft for us to
hear, believe, and receive revelation.
May it e'er be with us, and so imbue
our hopes, our dreams, and our aspirations.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:42 AM:

You will celebrate it.

Great.
Now Abi thinks she's Sîan Phillips.

I haven't called my mom yet because she's probably still sleeping.
By the way, the SciFi Channel is celebrating Mother's Day.
With a Eureka marathon.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:16 AM:

I see that TCM is showing "I Remember Mama" today.

#8 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:18 AM:

I'm up with the wee one this morning, as her Mommy gets to sleep in. Haven't called Mom yet (mine or hers) as they probably are still asleep, too.

Hope all y'all Mom-type persons have a great day!

Later,
-cajun

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:41 AM:

Surely a proper voice of command should thunder 'thou shalt celebrate it'?

#10 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:14 AM:

@1: Let A = Old ⊆ Pilots; B = Bold ⊆ Pilots; It can be shown that: A ∩ B = ∅. Or something.

#11 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:02 AM:

Almost always. Nothing is always...

#12 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Ooo, nice one, Abi! In honor of Voice of Command day, and of Making Light's restoriation, here is a link to the famous Slushkiller post. Some of the newer folks around here may not have seen it, and between Teresa's original post and the 700+ comments, it's one of the finest collections of writing instruction ever created.

Happy Mother's day to all who nurture, and happy Pentecost to everyone who feels the flame of inspiration.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Mary Dell @ 12... Happy Mother's day to all who nurture

Those are wishes I hope I'll be wishing to you at this time next year.

#14 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Alas, it doesn't work on cats. "Horton, NO!" gets me nowhere. As for Mother's Day, I'm childless and know there's no hope that Emperor Horton could learn to do dishes (and since he's an indoor cat, he can't bring "presents" either). Oh well. He's velvety, can trill, and often purrs. What more could I ask?

#15 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:00 PM:

My mother loathed Mother's Day. She said it was a fake holiday, a day created by the florist and greeting card industries to increase their profits, and she would have none of it. Mother's Day was scorned in the house I grew up in, and in her honor I still refuse to celebrate it.

As for Pentecost -- Peace be with you. May your spirit be refreshed and renewed.

#16 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:06 PM:

"restoration" not "restoriation," sigh.

Serge @#13: Thanks...I'm a nurturer already, although not a mother, so I'm trying to enjoy the day in its broader sense. I figure I've done everything I can do* towards making an adoption happen, so now I'm settling in to savor the joys of childfree living, which are actually quite extensive.

*within the boundaries we've set for ourselves, that is

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 12:55 PM:

Mary Dell @ 16... I still wish you to get your wish as soon as possible. As for myself, I have no child of my own, but I enjoy being an uncle, even if it sometimes means watching Power Rangers.

#18 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 01:19 PM:

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.

Hope I get there soon. C'mon Dude, time to meet the crowd.

#19 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 01:22 PM:

Mary Dell @ 16: I kinda like restoriation. Isn't that what was being done?

#20 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:43 PM:

One of the first notable proponents of Mother's Day in the US was Julia Ward Howe, a prolific and outspoken abolitionist, feminist, and peace activist (though ironically she's now best known as the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.) My wife Mary[*] put Richards and Elliott's biography of Howe online a few years back, which includes this passage:

"Such was the beginning of her work for peace, which was to end only with her life. [...] She would have a festival, a day which should be called Mother's Day, and be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines. She chose the second day of June; for many years she and her friends and followers kept this day religiously, with sweet and tender observances which were unspeakably dear to her. [...] The last celebration of her Mothers' Day was held in Riverton, New Jersey on June 1, 1912, by the Pennsylvania Peace Society."

Although Howe's version of the holiday didn't long survive her (Howe died in 1910), national recognition of Mother's Anna Jarvis, a Pennsylvania contemporary of Howe's, would make Mother's Day a nationally recognized holiday in 1914, albeit with a different date, and without the explicit peace emphasis of Howe's version. Jarvis had the help of Philadelphia department store owner John Wanamaker in persuading Congress to officially recognize it. Despite this, she was no fan of the commercialization of Mother's Day, and would have hated to have seen it treated as a creature of the greeting card industry. As she put it once: "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment."

[*] For Mother's Day this year, both our kids made drawings, poems, and books for Mary; and I made her lunch which we ate outside in the garden she's designed and cultivated behind our house. We're all very grateful to her (as Mary and I both are to our own mothers.)

#21 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Sorry, hit post too early; third para. above should read:

Although Howe's version of the holiday didn't long survive her (Howe died in 1910), Anna Jarvis, a Pennsylvania contemporary of Howe's, would succeed in making Mother's Day a nationally recognized holiday in 1914, albeit with a different date, and without the explicit peace emphasis of Howe's version. Jarvis had the help of Philadelphia department store owner John Wanamaker in persuading Congress to officially recognize it. Despite this, she was no fan of the commercialization of Mother's Day, and would have hated to have seen it treated as a creature of the greeting card industry. As she put it once: "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment."

#22 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 02:59 PM:

My mum always insists cards have to say "Mothering Sunday" and not the Americanised "Mothers Day". Which usually means I have to buy a 'blank for special messages', and write in the words "Mothering Sunday" for myself.

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 03:23 PM:

Bonne Fête des Mères.

#24 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 03:36 PM:

1.) This used to be Mother Season (Mothers' Day followed by her birthday), followed close on by Father Season (Father's Day, then his birthday a few weeks later). I always thought all four holidays were a bit bogus, along with my own birthday ever since I reached the age where I try to get what I want every day. This is the first year without her; I've experienced not a twinge from any of the pre-{Dia de las Madres} stuff except for one ad or something that began with 'Tell your Mother....".

2.) I think it should be spelt (in the U.S.) with a final apostrophe, to be a tribute to all actual mothers rather'n the [rd]eified "Mother".

3.) Every day is _not_ Children's Day. Honestly.

4.) The presentation of The Voice of Command, along with a good eye for fetichism, is one of the things that still makes me prefer the Lynch version of "Dune" to the later film version (and, to invite scorn, the novel, through which I pulled myself by the end of my fingernails, as I find neither aristos nor fierce, religious, hicks sympathetic---I did like the stillsuit tech, though).

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 05:02 PM:

I called my mother for Mother's Day, and got a modem squeal.

People said this about me in high school, but it wasn't true.

#27 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Today I had the high honour to stand as supporter at a good friend and adopted sister's baptism into the Church of England. She's also the mother of three lovely children, one of whom I was holding in my arms while her mother was submerged and her father filmed the whole thing.

I do hope that all of you had (or have, depending on your time zone) as wonderful a day.

#28 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Called my mumma. Had a nice chat. She says they're going to stop by at WisCon and say hi.

#29 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:12 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @20 and 21, my own mother read out the Mother's Day Proclamation before we had a celebratory brunch. She's a radical peace kind of mom, so it was perfect.

Lizzy L @ 15, that seems a perfectly appropriate way to honor your mother! And may peace be with you as well.

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 07:19 PM:

My mother declared this a non-holiday after having one too many, um, incidents occurring. The two I remember:
My brother rolling his VW beetle (result: concussion, and the people from whose house he phoned for help claimed afterward that he'd given them the car); and
The neighbor across the street one house to the side putting their car into reverse and hitting the gas instead of the brake, causing said car to careen backward across the street (four lanes!) and hit the downstairs bedroom closet of our house.

Non-holiday.

#31 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 08:02 PM:

Our church combined the "Festival of the Christian Home" and Pentecost today. And a baptism. The sanctuary was full. The sermon was on "Our Baptismal Responsibilities", which grew out of a rant at a Worship Committee meeting last Tuesday. (There was a fairly nice "fill me with your presence Lord" in three-part harmony, too.)

I called my mother yesterday. It's her first Mother's Day in the new complex, and I was a little concerned that the exchange would be swamped. That, and I knew she was going on a trip RSN, and I wasn't sure if she was leaving today or Monday.

Mother's Day may be a fake holiday, but it's one of the older ones -- I usually put it about the level of Valentine's Day, especially in its current incarnation.

#32 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 08:26 PM:

Serge #6

Great.
Now Abi thinks she's Sîan Phillips.

You mean she isn't Siân Phillips?

(I was actually looking for a picture from I Claudius, but this is probably more flattering)

#33 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Called mom from the ball park today, we had free Royals tickets. Trying to find a place in the park where I could hear the phone was a trial. (Royals beat Orioles 4-0 .)

She had suggested she hadn't been to the 'boats' (KC, MO version of gambling) in a while and she won't gamble on Sunday, so my sister and I are taking her out for lunch and gambling tomorrow.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 08:52 PM:

Neill Willcox @ 32... Yes, that photo of Phillips as Bodicea is more flattering than one of her as Lavinia. But Abi's hair is much longer than that - maybe she cuts it short when she know she's going to be horsing around wielding a sword. And she never used the Voice on any of us when we met in April 2007 although it'd have come in handy at times with some of Berkeley's colorful denizens.

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:53 PM:

OK, now I know that the awful SciFi movies are intentional camp. I'm watching Never Cry Werewolf (OK, there's nothing else on). When the ditzy teenager gets disembowelled (with a b), she looks down at her bloody guts on the ground and says "Ewww!" before collapsing.

And when the police come and look at the other girl's room, they find a whole pile of werewolf videos. The top one is called (I swear I'm not making this up) The Werewolf's Bris.

I swear. They can NOT be serious. It's just impossible to do that sort of thing with a straight face.

#36 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Sorry. Wrong thread.

#37 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Xopher @ 36: I dunno about that -- a bris surely requires motherhood..and it's a family celebration as well. ;-)

Our Mother's Day/Pentecost was celebrated by first singing and ringing (chancel choir for her, hand bell choir for her and me), then by driving up to see her mom. Along the way we called my mother, worked on our son's homework (with many examples of the Voice employed at him), and endured the heavy rains through the mountains.

At least our house is on top of a hill, and our sump pump works like a sonovagun.

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:49 PM:

"What I Did for Mother's Day"

My sister brought over a batch of Eggs Benedict, banana pancakes, and strawberry pie, and we all pigged out while watching the Dodgers game on the tube.

I gave her a T-shirt with the Kliban Momcat image.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Pentecost is the anniversary of either my baptism, with Jim Macdonald acting as my godfather, or of me being the recipient of the most elaborate practical joke an author ever pulled on his editor.

Personally, I'm inclined to think Catholicism actually exists, and I was baptized.

...

Earl Cooley, it was an infinitely regrettable incident; but he was not Iraq's Father of the Year, and you ought not say he was.

#40 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:49 PM:

Ha! My mother died 9/30/72 and I have command voice! When my partially-paralyzed vocal cords let me. I used to have it all the time. :::grumble::: It's exceedingly useful.

I don't suppose this is as elevated as the prose offered by others, but the book that makes me smile and laugh all the way through is Mirabile and there are a number of lessons in that.

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2008, 11:58 PM:

Teresa @ 39... me being the recipient of the most elaborate practical joke an author ever pulled on his editor

That sounds intriguing.
Hint, hint...

#42 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:00 AM:

My college invariably held graduation ceremonies on Mother's Day. It made it easy to remember. And a bit busy for restaraunt reservations.

(My brother's freshman year, he sent me a letter that he'd labeled "PRIVATE", leading to much speculation. He was rather embarrassed to admit that he couldn't remember any of the family birthdays and was appealing to me for help. I sent him a list of all the birthdays AND the important holidays, but I don't recall if the parental unit days were in there.)

#43 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:03 AM:

Earl Cooley III @#25:

That murder actually took place in April...and even if it had happened today, calling it a "celebration of Mother's Day" is pretty incendiary.

#44 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:40 AM:

To drift (and make revelations), when I was much younger I realised that by quirk of fate I would never be able to have father's day and my birtday fall on the same day, because the math is such that the conjuction will never be closer than one of them being the day behind the other.

#45 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 03:28 AM:

I did a home-made computer card which amused my mother highly, this year. She came to church with me for Pentacost service, along with other family members. In the evening, our priest was formally installed, after a year's service with us...as she is a mother herself, that seemed fitting to me.

I think I need to hug my mom extra tomorrow, though--she didn't have to cook or clean on Mothers' Day, but I also forgot to pay her much special attention on the actual day (the card was early). I shall reform, and go to art class with her on Tuesday too--that is always a special event we share.

#46 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:09 AM:

My mom has the Voice,* so she was always assured of getting reasonably rapid obedience. She found herself bemused, however, when we moved to the South when I was in grade school. All of a sudden she was hearing "yes, ma'am" from me, something which she'd never insisted upon. Let's hear it for Southern Steel Magnolia teachers!

*and The Look. Which appears to be heritable in the female line, much to my son's dismay, as he's stuck with both me and a sister. Heh.

#47 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:21 AM:

Terry @ 44:

If my wife had only been able to wait seventy-three hours to give birth, our daughter would've been born on my birthday on Father's Day, as I was--but no, she couldn't do me that small favor.

I blame feminism, or maybe libertarianism.

As it is, my daughter turns five this year four days before Father's Day, the day I turn fifty.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:29 AM:

Debbie @ 46... The Look. Which appears to be heritable in the female line.

"Kids, did you do the dishes? No? Oh dear. Now, where did I put that Pain Box?"

#49 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:39 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden #39: Earl Cooley, it was an infinitely regrettable incident; but he was not Iraq's Father of the Year, and you ought not say he was.

"Father of the Year" is a fairly common sarcastic designation for a father who does something hideous and outrageous. It's perhaps not common enough to qualify as a Flamer Bingo card, though.

Mary Dell #43: That murder actually took place in April...and even if it had happened today, calling it a "celebration of Mother's Day" is pretty incendiary.

I mentioned it in the context of Mother's Day because that's when that particular news report was released. Yes, it's incendiary; I think that was one of the reasons the news item was released on the holiday instead of a day later.

#50 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 07:56 AM:

Earl Cooley III @#49:

Yes, it's incendiary; I think that was one of the reasons the news item was released on the holiday instead of a day later.

The several news items I saw were from the UK, where it isn't Mother's Day. And you know perfectly well I wasn't calling the news item itself incendiary, I was talking about how you chose to headline it.

You could have linked it into the open thread with an accurate description, and prompted a real discussion, if you were interested in that.

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:38 AM:

Iraqis have their good guys and bad guys, good and bad customs and practices, just like any other population. To refer to the man as their "Father of the Year" implicitly demonizes the whole culture.

I mostly have the Voice in person if I'm in front of a class. Sometimes the ability transfers over to moderating panels

#52 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:51 AM:

#32: (I was actually looking for a picture from I Claudius, but this is probably more flattering)

Use the Google, young Roman.

#53 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:54 AM:

I did manage to get a card to my mom in time (without having to resort to overnight shipping) and called her on Sunday.

Happy belated Mother's Day to everyone else.

#54 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 09:05 AM:

There's not much to discuss about honor killing except the extent of one's outrage at the concept.

I apologize for posting the link in the thread and manner in which I did. I will not, however, apologize for being outraged at honor killing.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 09:13 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 52... For some reason, Google Image didn't show any photo of Phillips as the Reverend Mother.

#56 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 09:15 AM:

I didn't send Mom anything-- meant to grab a card on Friday, but then it was time to go home and I completely forgot. Sunday's the usual day to call home, though, so we talked. And celebrated Mother's Day the way it's meant to be celebrated, with a flat of plants and a bag of dirt.

#57 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 09:18 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 52

Yes, based on that picture, Sian Phillips could play the part of the Reverend Mother Mohiam with ease and panache.

Being long estranged from my entire family, I don't have the same happy associations with the holiday, except those I remember from my childhood. And Eva has always insisted that it wasn't my holiday to celebrate, but our kids' (I agree; I don't want to get in the way of their celebration, and, thankfully, she's not my mother). This Mothers' day our older son called with the excellent news that he's recovering rapidly and definitely was not infected with flesh-eating staph as we feared, and our younger son took Eva (and let me tag along for company) out for a lovely dinner and conversation.

I think we need a holiday for those of us with dysfunctional families. One day for all should do; it will be quite a challenge for the greeting card industry, and we shouldn't overstress them.

#58 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:10 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @#57:

I think we need a holiday for those of us with dysfunctional families.

Seconded. "Equilibrium day" or somesuch.

#59 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Serge #@55:

Google Image didn't show any photo of Phillips as the Reverend Mother.

Google knows all!

Here she is in that awful, awful movie. Google "Sian Dune" for more.

She rocked it in Clash of the Titans, BTW.

#60 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:25 AM:

We had a joint service yesterday with the Ethiopian Pentecostal congregation that usually worships after us. Their pastor preached, a lovely sermon about the Holy Spirit as our divine mother.

Then we had a potluck. We were asked to bring food reflecting our ethnic heritage, so we had Ethiopian, Cambodian, Mexican, Nigerian, Liberian, Norwegian and generic American dishes. Good, good, good!

My brother (the designated family worrier) started calling my sister and me about two weeks ago, badgering us not to forget Mothers' Day. He kept us updated with what he had sent, and how many shipping days were left for us to get our acts together until we both contacted him with the news that we had done our duty. (This says more about my brother than about how fond my sister and I are of our mom.)

I got a small pot of geraniums and two handmade cards, one in English and one in Chinese. Best gifts ever!

#61 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:14 AM:

Earl 54: I will not, however, apologize for being outraged at honor killing.

Anyone who disses you for that can damn well diss me too. I stand with you on that point.

And anyone who says "it's part of their culture" is a) holding them to too low a standard, and b) going to get "yeah, well, lynching used to be part of American culture too" from me.

#62 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Xopher @61: Who are these "anyones" you and Earl are arguing with? Are they here in this thread?

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Mary: Good heavens, no! I don't imagine anyone here would take such an unthought-out position. I was providing a possible response in case any of us run into such a doofus.

I apologize for the implication, which I did not intend. I see how you might think that from what I wrote, and I should have been more explicit.

#64 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Faren Miller @ 14 - sez who it doesn't work on cats? We've got an indoor cat who occasionally thinks she'd like to go run around in the neighbors' yards... one "Terry, get in the house!" from me and she's tremblingly pressing her nose against the door, frantic to get in. My husband can't do it; he winds up chasing her around the neighborhood for half an hour before she finally decides he's gotten enough exercise and lets him catch her.

One of my proudest moments is the day I wasn't home, the cat got out, and my daughter said, "Papa, you have to use the mean voice. 'Terry, get in the house!'" According to my husband, all he saw was a furry grey blur as the cat zipped past him and through the door. I feel like I'm doing something right in this mothering gig!

#65 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:26 AM:

Cat 64: It's your name. You're halfway into Momcat territory, so the cats flash back to kittenhood when you yell at them, as if they've been grabbed by the scruff of the neck.

#66 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Xopher @#63: Thanks. Earl's tactic of refusing to apologize for something that no decent person would expect him to apologize for is a classic, but I've misplaced my bingo cards today.

#67 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @#57:

I think we need a holiday for those of us with dysfunctional families.

Bringing it back 'round to Dune, I think Alia would be a good mascot for dysfunctional family day.

Actually, any Atreides...or Harkonnen...okay, any character from any Dune book would be a great mascot.

#68 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Cat Meadors @#64:

sez who it doesn't work on cats?

Well, you are a Cat, that may give you an advantage.

#69 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:58 AM:

I spent Mom's Day doing a bunch of mom stuff like cooking and laundry and gardening and pool-cleaning and bike-fixing and general puttering. Actually it seemed appropriate to be able to reflect on the satisfaction of Getting Things Taken Care Of. (There's a place in one of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books where it's pointed out that much of witchcraft consists of emptying what's full and filling what's empty...) The only thing I didn't get to do was sewing, because the little ferret's life-sized cardboard standee of Captain Jack Sparrow has taken up residence in my sewing room till she gets all moved back in from her freshman year.

#70 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Cat @ #64: but it doesn't work on *emperor* cats! Actually, he's the one with the Voice, at times -- he can go from a chirp to an amazing baritone howl. (The howl got him into our house and our lives, on a rainy night nearly ten years ago.)

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:11 PM:

Mary Dell @ 59... Did you ever see Phillips as Smiley's wife in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? She's only in the very last scene, but it packs quite a punch.

#72 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Serge @71: Yes, I actually got the DVD for my birthday. Good stuff. She also has a scene in Smiley's people.

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:24 PM:

Janet 69: ...much of witchcraft consists of emptying what's full and filling what's empty...

Witchcraft and life in general.

#74 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 12:55 PM:

Earl,

Nice threadjack. Next time use the open theread.

I do wish you'd stop conspicuously failing to apologise for your outrage, though. It makes it look like anyone who opposes you supports such a thing, and you respect us better than that. Don't you?

There's not much to discuss about honor killing except the extent of one's outrage at the concept.

Not so, actually. Now that the thread has been jacked, there is one topical element in that story that I'd like to bring to the table.

Rand’s mother Leila divorced her husband after the killing and has been forced into hiding for fear of retribution from his family.

In many of the descriptions of "honor killing" that I have read about, the mother and other female relatives are either complicit in the killing, or at least support it. She tried to stop it, and had to watch her own sons join in.

I hope that Leila is representative of Iraqi women, who were once very Westernized and independent. Because a system of oppression of women (which these murders are a part of, representing as they do the final penalty for stepping out of line) will not stand without the consent of the other women in the community.

So there's my Mother's Day thought regarding Earl's link. It's a day late and well over a dollar short, but I was celebrating my own mother and being feted by my children. I wish that she could have been doing the same.

#75 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 03:23 PM:

Xopher @73: Indeed. It's a thought that's been helping me get through a lot of housework (and work work as well -- move the books over here, move them back over there, change this and change it back, put the issue to bed and start the next one, say goodbye to one batch of students and start training the next one, yadda yadda).

#76 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 03:26 PM:

I spent yesterday finishing the trip back from Missoula, jammed into a Camry with the people I married or gave birth to and all my daughter's possessions minus the stuff in her storage cube at college, five boxes we shipped home, and a large garbage bag of clothing I forced her to donate to the YWCA (newly laundered, of course). This was a result of a deer running in front of our car on Friday at high noon on 1-90 in Missoula and doing some body damage to the car and a whole lot of jangled nerves and time-consuming inconvenience.

I suppose I needed the reminder that I am not, in fact, able to bend nature to my will. I'd already planned to give away my She Who Must Be Obeyed tshirt; this trip confirmed the falsity of that assertion.

Two words of advice: if you are ever planning on incurring automobile body damage in Montana, choose to do so in a Ford or Subaru, because those are the parts you can find. Second, if you need to make running repairs, Gorilla brand duct tape and the clear packing tape they sell at UPS tores will, in fact, survive 600 miles of freeway speeds, rain, snow, dust storms, and 60mph side winds.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:13 PM:

Janet 75: Good examples all, but I was thinking more in basic biological terms. Wicca is as good as any religion at feeding you with spiritual food, and better than most at dealing with spiritual shit!

JESR 76: Sounds like the only good thing about that is that it's over.

#78 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 05:47 PM:

Xopher, indeed, as life-experiences go, this has been one I'm glad to see retreating in the rear view mirror.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:00 PM:

JESR... Hanging for deer life?

#80 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Serge, I started doing that riff after a few too many friends and relatives said "Really?" when they heard the news.

Did I really do that? I think I did. If I didn't -- if Jim persuaded all those people at St. Augustine's to pretend Catholicism exists, just to see whether they could get me to go along with the gag; and then, when I did go along with it, sprang the punchline where I got a whole pitcher of cold water dumped over my head -- then it was the most elaborate practical joke an author ever pulled on his editor.

On balance, though, I'm inclined to believe that Catholicism exists, I was baptized, Jim was primarily there to act as my godfather. Being there to see me get soaked with cold water was a happy extra for him, not the point of the whole thing.

Bruce, Mary, I think Dysfunctional Family Day is a great idea. Everyone could send "At least I'm speaking to you, sort of" cards to each other.

Earl Cooley III (54):

There's not much to discuss about honor killing except the extent of one's outrage at the concept.
Earl, please don't tell me how much of a subject I'm permitted to discuss.
I apologize for posting the link in the thread and manner in which I did. I will not, however, apologize for being outraged at honor killing.
Uh-huh. Has anyone objected to your being outraged by honor killings? They have not. You can stow the moral superiority. Everyone thinks honor killings are appalling.

Earlier, you posted:

"Father of the Year" is a fairly common sarcastic designation for a father who does something hideous and outrageous.
I went and checked a bunch of instances. It's a secondary meaning of the phrase, but it's out there.

However, that wasn't what you said. The actual text of your link was:

How Iraq's Father of the Year Celebrates Mother's Day
That's a very different thing. To refer to some jerk as "father of the year" is to say he's a lousy father. To refer to him as "Iraq's Father of the Year" is to say that his behavior is characteristic of Iraqi society, and that most other Iraqis approve of it. Both those things are untrue.

To add that he did it in celebration of Mother's Day is just plain false. There's no justification for it.

Rand Abdel-Qader died a stupid, pointless, unjust death. No one can hurt her any further. They can, however, dishonor her memory -- which is exactly what you're doing, by turning her death into an occasion of cheap synthetic moral outrage against Iraqis, and against Muslims in general.

Fathers abuse and kill their daughters all around the world. It's not limited to predominantly Muslim areas, and it's certainly not limited to the Middle East. There are Muslim communities where it scarcely happens. There are non-Muslim communities where it does. If you start researching the practice, again and again you'll find Muslims denouncing it.

It's not about religion. Usually it's about control, especially with older children. Parents, most often men, feel they don't have enough control. They take that feeling out on the children they believe they "own", especially their daughters.

Bear in mind that this next group of links are all murders committed by white Westerners:

Father kills 14-year-old daughter after he catches her chatting with boys online.
Father kills daughter after e-mail hoax.
Bradford Bishop.
Jozsef Barsi.
Jerry Branton Hobbs.
Nelson Hart.
Earl Wayne Reynolds.

I have heaps of additional links, but this is getting depressing. Fathers killing daughters, fathers killing sons, fathers killing stepchildren and estranged wives and anyone else who's in the house. Fathers losing their jobs, getting into conflicts at work, going bankrupt, being denied promotions, becoming depressed or enraged, and going home to kill their families. Mothers killing their children. Parents killing toddlers and infants. Fathers holding daughters in sexual slavery. Parents jointly beating or starving small children to death. And the almost unbelievable number of cases -- I've been tracking this one most of my life -- where a man decides to deal with the breakup of his marriage, custody disputes, or his ex-wife moving on to another relationship, by murdering her, their children, and himself.

When you look at enough of these stories, accounts of so-called "honor killings" start looking like they're just more of the same old stuff we see every week in the newspaper:

Father kills daughter on her wedding day.
Father kills daughter, five others.
Enraged father kills daughter.
Girl shot for using Facebook.
Man kills daughter for refusing arranged marriage.
Father kills daughter for not wearing hijab.
Father doubts daughter's virginity; kills her.
Father kills pregnant daughter and her family.
Father stones fourteen-year-old daughter.

What's the big difference? These crimes are committed by people who don't have Western European names, and they can be grouped under a single snappy label.

Ever wonder how stalking suddenly became a crime you heard a lot about? This is how it changed: there were a few high-profile cases involving celebrities. The LAPD put together a special unit to take reports and track stalking cases. They thought they'd mostly be dealing with people in the entertainment industry. Instead, all these non-celebrity cases started falling out of the woodwork. There'd been very little attention paid to them before. Now the police had a word for what was going on -- stalking -- and suddenly they could see the pattern.

It's funny. We have a term -- honor killings -- for this creepy thing that mostly happens overseas, or in first-generation immigrant communities. But as far as I know, we don't have a term for the pattern where a guy can't cope with job stresses or divorce or custody proceedings, so instead he blows away his wife and kids, then kills himself. There's no term for the situation where some working mother has left her infant or toddler in the care of her new guy, and he batters it into a coma. And yet, I know which of those stories I've seen more often.

#81 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:19 PM:

p.s.: Did I make it clear that they also kill their sons? They do. It's a problem.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:39 PM:

Teresa @ 80... I'm inclined to believe that Catholicism exists (me too) I was baptized (same) Jim was primarily there to act as my godfather (you win and who betetr to have at a baptism than an EMT?)

#83 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Inspired by someone's comment on my LJ, I'd like to make the following suggestion for future iterations of Mother's Day:

If there is a woman who has had a positive impact on your life, and who is going to be ignored and/or treated like a second-class citizen because she hasn't procreated, this would be an outstanding time to tell her that you appreciate what she's done for you.

#84 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:49 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden #80: Rand Abdel-Qader died a stupid, pointless, unjust death. No one can hurt her any further. They can, however, dishonor her memory -- which is exactly what you're doing, by turning her death into an occasion of cheap synthetic moral outrage against Iraqis, and against Muslims in general.

"Cheap synthetic moral outrage"? I don't know how to convince you that this was not what I felt when I read the news article in my link.

Thank you for the detailed reply and all those links.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Lee @ 83... Done already.

#86 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 07:01 PM:

Earl Cooley III: I don't think Teresa doubts your personal outrage at this in the least.

What she does question is the how of your presenting it. For reasons I can't know (and my inferences are all colored by other people's reactions; I didn't follow the link), you chose to post something which was guaranteed to be inflammatory, into a thread where the inflammatory factor was going to be greater, and to post it in a way which seemed further designed to up the ante even more.

That's the synthetic outrage, taking something already outrageous, and ginning up the level of anger by juxtaposing it with something benign, and meant to evoke good feelings.

It's be like, well I shan't put up examples, that would be invidious (but that I started to I leave in to show that I am not immune to reaching for outrage as a rhetorical device).

#87 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 07:34 PM:

Lee @ 83: For several years now I've thanked my mother's sister, Aunt P, for being another fount of wisdom/source of help.

And in my little nuclear family, our son likes to thank us on Father's Day as well. ;-)

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 07:55 PM:

"By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution."

(from The African Queen)

#89 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:27 PM:

Earl@84: I don't know how to convince you

Assume for the moment that your outrage doesn't need convincing. Now, take a look at this:

Earl@25: How Iraq's Father of the Year Celebrates Mother's Day

"Father of the Year" sort of implies near unanimous support among his countryman and countrywomen that he was a good father.

Imagine someone from China linking to a news story about some American racist who lynched a black man with the link saying "American of the Year Celebrates Christmas". It implies national support for his views, it implies that everyone in America is like him, and it implies it had something to do with christmas.

the father in your link wasn't father of the year. He may not be alone in believing in honor killings, but neither is a lone racist alone in believing lychings are a good thing. But that doesn't make that person "American of the year".

Also, this father didn't kill the daughter in "celebration of mother's day". As far as I can tell, your link has absolutely nothing to do with Mother's Day. It may have had some linkage to Mother's Day for you, but assume for the moment that no one else here has that experience.

It landed a bit askew of how it occurred for you.

#90 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 08:45 PM:

Teresa @ 80:

It's not about religion. Usually it's about control, especially with older children. Parents, most often men, feel they don't have enough control. They take that feeling out on the children they believe they "own", especially their daughters.

Having a young daughter, I've lately been paying more attention to the emails from friends and relatives about fathers, daughters, suitors, and the father's "duty" to terrorize the suitor.

Am I alone in finding this obsession with the father's control of his daughter's sexuality to be at least creepy and at worst not unlike the father's "right" to sexually abuse his daughter?

(Scare quotes. Sigh.)

#91 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:00 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @#90:

Am I alone in finding this obsession with the father's control of his daughter's sexuality to be at least creepy and at worst not unlike the father's "right" to sexually abuse his daughter?

You're not alone. I think a lot of it comes from the standard place of "women's sexuality must be supressed or controlled" that all the other crap comes from. But I also see cases where a sexist tomcat type of guy will have a daughter, and the only boys he can imagine her dating are boys like him. If he loves her, he wants to protect her from the crap he, himself, helps to perpetuate in society.

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:03 PM:

John, #90: No, you're not. OTOH, I also don't think that it's meant to be creepy; in many cases, it's an indication of just how deeply institutionalized sexism has penetrated our culture -- people do it without considering the implications, because those implications just slide right past them. It's a joke, and they don't stop to analyze it any further -- and if you object to the joke, then you become the bad guy, either because you "have no sense of humor" or because you're a "politically-correct feminist liberal". Sound familiar?

I had to deal with something similar from a few people when my partner's daughter got her driver's license. My approach was to give them the "what color is the sky on YOUR planet?" stare and talk about how pleased we were that she had reached a major milestone in her journey to adulthood. With the very clear implication that there's something wrong with a parent who wants to keep their child tied to their apron strings. (And when did that fine old pejorative phrase go out of use, anyhow?)

#93 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:13 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden #80:

On balance, though, I'm inclined to believe that Catholicism exists

I sure hope it does; otherwise I wasted a lot of energy in my years at St. Joseph's high school railing against the powers that weren't.

Bruce, Mary, I think Dysfunctional Family Day is a great idea. Everyone could send "At least I'm speaking to you, sort of" cards to each other.

Well, not everyone. It wouldn't be a proper Dysfunctional Family Day if everyone was still speaking!

#94 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:46 PM:

I made a card for Dysfunctional Family Day. It contains some Dune series spoilers, and it probably won't work for any of our families, but you never know.


#95 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:57 PM:

Mary Dell @ 94... Coughgagsplutter!

#96 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 10:59 PM:

Mary Dell @ 91: I get what you're saying about the tomcat. It's a more benign interpretation than I'd've gotten to (speaking as someone who for several decades shamelessly slept with pretty much anything in a skirt on pretty much any opportunity that came up and still doesn't feel it's my job to shine my shotgun in on the porch). Sometimes it's damned fine to have a lesser evil.

Lee @ 92:

No, it's not meant to be creepy, but it still does creep me out. ("Oh, but Johnnie, wait till she's older. You'll change your mind." Maybe so, maybe not. We'll see, as the years come down to me.)

With the very clear implication that there's something wrong with a parent who wants to keep their child tied to their apron strings. (And when did that fine old pejorative phrase go out of use, anyhow?)

Ironically enough, wouldn't that be a result of feminist language reform? In the absence of men who do housework, it clearly marks the mother as the possessive one.

#97 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:33 PM:

Mary Dell @ 94: Wow. Nothing says dysfunctional like Baron Harkonnen.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2008, 11:40 PM:

Ginger @ 97...

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen: [after Feyd's failed attempt on his life] Tell me, boy, why I shouldn't kill you right here?
[pause]
Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen: My brother.

#99 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 01:18 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @#96:

Well, I specified "sexist" tomcat, which is a particular sort. Which then translates into, "no daughter of mine is going to be treated as badly as I treat the women I have sex with!"

It's interesting to contrast this with the perspective I see in my brothers who are fathers. Both of them are good, caring dads, and both are really matter-of-fact about having young daughters who are blonde and pretty. They don't voice any worry about their dating prospects because they're too busy helping them to figure out what school subjects they're good at and what they want to do for a living when they grow up.

Say, I guess this problem is really about some people being unable to think of anything to say about raising a girl that doesn't involve her sexual life.

#100 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:05 AM:

John A. Arkansawyer: I hope I'll not convert to such a father (it being inconsistent with the way I see things being properly done) and end up more as the father of the girlfriend who; at the dinner we made our acquaintance, was telling a story of the time his daughter (who had very recently moved from friend, to "girlfriend) told him she was going to her boyfriend's, for the night, with the comment, "Now I new, when the doctor handed me a baby girl that someday she was going to get laid."

I (at the age of 20) managed to not spew the '79 bordeaux across the table.

The other extreme was the girlfriend who told her father not to try to intimidate me by cleaning rifles when I came over, as I'd probably tell him the mistakes he was making.

#101 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:12 AM:

John, #96: In the absence of men who do housework, it clearly marks the mother as the possessive one.

Well, *I* wouldn't hesitate to say it to a man; sometimes being cast as the recipient of a female-oriented insult is just the kick in the teeth he needs to realize how he's sounding. YMMV.

OTOH, here's another approach that might prove useful: by saying those things, your acquaintances are effectively endorsing the extremist-feminist claim that all men are rapists! After all, your daughter is going to be taught that she is in control of her body and her sexuality, and how to resist emotional blackmail designed to talk her into having sex when she doesn't want to; so the only thing she really has to worry about is a man who ignores her saying no. Do they really believe that every boy she goes out with is going to force her? Or (in the case of a man) are they saying that they forced women when they were younger, and that's how they've taught the young men around them to behave too?

Back 'em into a corner and make them acknowledge their unexpressed sexist assumptions, says I!

#102 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 02:54 AM:

I keep hoping one of the cable channels will be brave and show I Dismember Mama, but instead me and my mother watched Torchsong Trilogy. It is sort of a ritual.

#103 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 07:05 AM:

Lee @ 101: I keep looking for good ripostes, but it's touchy and my sense of humor is a bit sideways.

#104 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 07:31 AM:

Lee: @#101: Most of the men I hear making the "shotgun" comments would make confused-puppy faces if you said anything about young women being in control of their own sexuality.

It occurs to me that the same folks who rib a new father about his daughter eventually dating will, if the baby is a boy, rib him about his son eventually driving his car. So the message is "don't trust teenage boys with your property." The "women are property" bit is assumed.

#105 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:24 PM:

Dysfunctional Family Day, or Equilibrium Day (per Mary Dell in #58) should be celebrated on the autumnal equinox. The vernal equinox is too near to Easter. As an alternative, DFD could be celebrated on both equinoxes (equinoctes?).

#106 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:26 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens wrote: Dysfunctional Family Day, or Equilibrium Day (per Mary Dell in #58) should be celebrated on the autumnal equinox. The vernal equinox is too near to Easter. As an alternative, DFD could be celebrated on both equinoxes (equinoctes?).

Definately the autumnal equinox - everything is at equilibrium, but we're heading into winter when it gets as dark and depressing as dysfunctional families.

#107 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Mary Dell @ 94

* Joins Serge in making loud noises indicative of respiratory distress *

Just proving that chortling while exhaling coffee at the screen is contra-indicated.

#108 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:05 PM:

We need a list of classic movies that enhance the tradition of DFDay. Right off the top of my head:

Home for the Holidays

Pieces of April

The Godfather (What, you thought they were functional?)

The Great Santini (and practically anything else that Robert Duvall has been in; is this suggestive of anything?)

Hamlet (any production will do).

The Mahabharata (Peter Brook's version, as I don't speak Sanskrit).

And if you'd rather read a book, let me suggest "Drinking Midnight Wine" By Simon Green. It depicts rather a larger dysfunctional family (in a very unreal sense) than most.

#109 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:15 PM:

Mary Dell, 104,
wrote Lee: @#101: Most of the men I hear making the "shotgun" comments would make confused-puppy faces if you said anything about young women being in control of their own sexuality.

I read the shotgun-warning thing differently - it's left from a time where a male might assume that girls were taught the following:
1. to be compliant to social pressure,
2. to have no experience with physical confrontation,
3. to be unknowlegeable about the depth of male lust,
4. and to be physically weak compared to males of the same age.

Therefore it made sense to warn the prospective suitor that there might be other, not-immediate consequences to applying "pressure" to be sexually active. Not bad for an era that predates* the coinage of the term "date-rape".

Anyway, I think addressing those four areas listed above might be a better choice nowdays than brandishing a weapon in a typical male dominance power display. Maybe invest in Akido classes for one's daughter instead?

*I have a hunch that many girls are taught these attitudes today, but I won't make any guesses about who, how much, or why.

#110 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:19 PM:

more movies for DFD:

Ordinary People

Mommie Dearest

#111 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Bruce Cohen (STM) @108:

Other suggestions:

Mommie Dearest
The Shining
Psycho
Oedipus Rex

#112 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:32 PM:

Dropping back to the open thread in a vain attempt to catch up made me think a great TV show about dysfunctional families, hell, a whole dysfunctional town: Wolf Lake. In fact, at one point I think gur znlbe unf Rerpgvyr Qlfshapgvba.

#113 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 04:49 PM:

Bruce 108 (and there's that number again, abi): My favorite Christmas movie could also be on your list. Kind of the ultimate dysfunctional family, in fact:

The Lion in Winter

#114 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 05:28 PM:

I second The Lion in Winter.

Fun ones:

Mary Poppins
Max Dugan Returns
Peter Pan

Not fun, but excellent, and highly dysfunctional:

Angels and Insects

Tedious, but amusing in spots, particularly if you wear your Slash spectacles when you watch it:

The Ten Commandments

And my all-time favorite dysfunctional family movie...scary, creepy, and fun:

Shadow of a Doubt

#115 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Where the Heart Is (Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, Dabney Coleman Uma Thurman)

#116 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:03 PM:

#108: Throw Mama from the Train.

#117 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:27 PM:

Sordid Lives

#118 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 08:35 PM:

Mary Dell, I really love the card, but I'm uncertain about the etiquette: it seems wrong to wish someone a happy Dysfunctional Family Day.

#119 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:22 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 118: I think you're right. Perhaps it should just say "Have A Dysfunction Family Day". Like those non-smiley faces that say "Have A Day"?

#120 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 10:56 PM:

War of the Roses

#121 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2008, 11:55 PM:

Having read only a few comments, and needing to write before I fall asleep:

I wish my mother happy mother's day on my birthday. I was her first.

#122 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Would The House of Yes qualify? Or is that an inappropriately different kind of dysfunction?

#123 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:55 AM:

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? seems like an obvious choice, but maybe we need more family members?

#124 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 06:27 AM:

TCM showed Mildred Pearce on Mother's Day. It just isn't Mother's day without Joan slapping someone.

#125 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 08:01 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) @#118:

Well, the Baron is a happy fellow, but for normal folks, maybe not so much. The question is, how does one celebrate Dysfunctional Family Day (great idea, by the way)? If it's by spending time with your dysfunctional family, then it's likely to be something other than happy. But that's what normal holidays are for, right? If DFD is special holiday meant for deliberately avoiding your family, it could be a happy day...albeit with an undercurrent of sadness.

Perhaps for non-Harkonnen types it should be "Have a Bittersweet Dysfunctional Family Day" or "Have a Peaceful Dysfunctional Family Day."

Of course, if you have someone in your DF who requires drama and strife, then you would want to send them a card honoring that. "On this Special Day, Remember: It's All About You! Have a Histrionic Dysfunctional Family Day"

Really, the possibilities are endless.

ethan @#122:

House of Yes sounds spot-on to me. Dysfunction covers a lot of categories -- one of the useful things about the word.

#126 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 09:48 AM:

Regarding "tomcat fathers" cleaning their shotguns on the porch: Perhaps they're assuming their daughters are like themselves, and warning the boys not to be seduced?

A thought: Are there any other-species examples of animals trying to control the mate-selection of their offspring? AFAIK, it's both unique and universal to humans. I suspect the key point is our propensity to identify with our offspring (thus treating them as extensions of ourselves).

#127 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 11:17 AM:

David Harmon @#126: Then wouldn't they be cleaning something other than a shotgun? Like, I dunno, a baby carriage.

Actually, I bet that would discourage suitors even more effectively than a shotgun. (Girls courting your sons would run away too!)

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 01:25 PM:

#126 "Are there any other-species examples of animals trying to control the mate-selection of their offspring?"

The first HD TV program I saw was a PBS documentary about a wolf pack in Yellowstone.

Near the beginning, a brash young male wolf from another pack sauntered through the territory of the (Druids?). The adolescent daughter of the alpha pair walked up, tail wagging and a big doggy grin on her face. Paraphrasing narration: "Oh, by the way, she's in estrus."

Her parents -- frowsy old veterans -- charged in and chased the interloper away.

That might be part territoriality, part "Stay way our kid ya putz!"

Oh . . . by the end of the episode, the daughter and the interloper were mates and their little band was reoccupying the territory, which had been emptied of wolves by disease and inter-pack squabbling.

#129 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2008, 10:45 PM:

We have coyotes in the woods behind the buildings (about 20 feet behind) that have eaten all the little mammals, including the feral cat colony. Very annoying.

#130 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:21 AM:

Lee #83: That's a wonderful suggestion!

and

Lee #92: I don't quite get the "scare the boyfriend" bit, but then, I mostly didn't get that, either. I wonder how many people really try it, vs. how many people just think it's a funny standard comedy movie scene and source of jokes.

I think it's worth distinguishing between trying to control your kids' sexuality in the sense of "I own you," vs. trying to minimize the chances for your kids to get hurt or get in over their heads. Trying to keep your 14 year old daughter from becoming sexually active may be pretty hard, frex, but it doesn't look remotely like some kind of Taliban-esque ownership of women, to me. Instead, it looks like trying to keep your child from doing something you don't think she's ready for, no different in principle from trying to keep her from riding a motorcycle or drinking. In all those cases, you're pretty likely to fail if she's determined to do those things, but it's not evil or unreasonable to try.

#131 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:36 AM:

Our church[1] did a "multicultural" mass for Pentacost/Mothers' Day, which included readings in various different languages--mostly English and Spanish, but with French, Tagalog, German, some language I had no clue how to identify[2], and some African language which I think was Nigerian (because we have a large Nigerian community at our church). I thought this was a clever way to bring out one part of the whole story of Pentacost, and one that works well with our very diverse parish (the DC area is good for this).

One of the odder things for me about this mass was that most of the service switched between English and Spanish. I go to Mass in Spanish pretty often. Before, when I've been at one of these masses, I've had a hard time with the switching to Spanish and back--it felt like my brain just couldn't do the mode switch quickly enough. This time, it felt like my brain was just flipping into and out of Spanish mode instantly, with the responses ("Te alabamos, Señor"; "Gloria a ti, Señor Jesús"; etc.) just popping out automatically. It was weird.

[1] Assuming as Teresa does that the Catholic Church exists....

[2] Which is weird, because I'm around foreign speakers and languages enough to be able to identify a pretty wide range of languages to at least some closeness level (I might get Polish and Russian mixed, but won't confuse either one for French or Hebrew) even if I can't speak any of it. This one was completely unfamiliar to me.

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:52 AM:

albatross, Nigerian isn't a language. The official language of Nigeria is English, but people there may also speak Yorubá, Hausa, or Igbo. More detailed information is here if you feel like trying to identify the language you heard on Sunday.

#133 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:04 PM:

Heh, I looked farther down on that page, and noticed that the author, a Nigerian Yorubá, has no idea how to pronounce the hooked letters in Hausa...which I, an American who's never been to Africa, do and can. The hooked b and d are ingressive; that is, at their release the air goes INTO the mouth instead of out (put pulled glottally, not by inhaling). The hooked k is egressive (air comes out) but with glottal air, like the other two.

The point is that if you heard those odd sounds, it was most likely Hausa. Hausa is a tone language like Yorubá, but has only high and low tone, unlike the rising and falling tones this native speaker indicates on the website.

My sense is that it's most likely Hausa, which is the most common first language spoken in Nigeria.

#134 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:05 PM:

Albatross @131 (Joining in the mass hallucination that the Catholic church exists.) Our church also had some prayers in other languages on Pentecost. The readings were all in English, though (but there's a Spanish-language mass at our parish later in the day). I'm also in the DC area. Perhaps the archdiocese encourages it. As you say, the area is good for that. The languages I recognized were Spanish, Italian, and French. Another was probably German. Another, judging by the complexion of the woman who spoke it and my total unfamiliarity with it, was something from Subsaharan Africa. And I'm pretty sure the last was Chinese. I like the worldwide connection.

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:14 PM:

I once wrote a piece of choir music where the tenors start with "Loquebantur variis linguis Apostoli" and then the altos come in with "The Apostles were speaking in different tongues" and the sopranos come in in French and the basses in German. The parts maintain the different languages throughout (well, except for the 'amen' at the end, which is Hebrew).

It wasn't that good a piece, but the choir had fun singing it.

#136 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 12:37 PM:

albatross, #130: Well, it depends on what you classify as "trying". Talking to your daughter about the physical, emotional, and legal consequences* of sex (or motorcycles or drinking) is at one extreme of what some people call trying. Putting your daughter in effective purdah (not letting her date, or even socialize with boys; closely monitoring all her activities lest she do Something Forbidden) is at the other.

Which, looking back, is pretty much what you said. Yeah, my brain is full of fuzz this morning.

Xopher, #135: That does sound like fun! But then, I'm the one who fell in love with "Geographical Fugue" when most of the rest of the choir hated it.

* My brain isn't working today. I don't just mean the negatives here, which is what "consequences" implies, but I can't dredge up the word I do want.

#137 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Lee #136: One useful corrective for the tendency to put daughters into purdah is having known a few girls in high school whose parents were very strict, and who seemed to me to wildly overcompensate in college. I recall a couple who cut a pretty wide swath their first couple semesters at college. Now, maybe this is a good tradeoff (at 17-18, with enough brains to go to college, you damned well ought to be bright enough to avoid getting pregnant and take reasonable precautions against catching something that can't be cured; at 15, you might not be.). But it sure didn't look like the easiest transition to adult control of your own life I'd ever seen.

On the other hand, I think college is a pretty common time to radically reinvent yourself. I can think of friends of mine from high school who, after college, were pretty much unrecognizeable[1]. And friends from college who are pretty much unrecognizeable now[2].

[1] The nerdy ugly duckling in high school who somehow became a knockout bleach-blond private pilot comes to mind. Or the free-spirit musician/artist type who wound up as the super-practical nurse and mom-of-four.

[2] The currently super-respectable couple (with two kids and a well-maintained house in a nice suburb) who cut an amazingly wide swath during their college open-relationship days comes to mind here. How those two managed to get any schoolwork done has always puzzled me. Though no more often than I went to class, I'm probably the last person who should talk....

#138 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 05:48 PM:

albatross, #137: The thing that worries me about children of over-protective parents when they go off to college -- and this doesn't just apply to girls or sexual situations, either! -- is that they have that heady sense of "freedom at last" but no practical experience to give them any judgment about handling it.

And I say this as someone who had a partial version of that during my own college (and immediately after) period. I was lucky; I had enough common sense and objectivity not to mess around with anything that could have seriously fucked up the rest of my life, and I had some good nearby non-parental role models via the SF Club and the SCA. Not all kids have that advantage.

But the first thing I think about when I encounter a hyper-controlling parent is, "Dear ghod, that kid is going to hit 18 or 20 and run flat wild, and probably get into a LOT worse trouble than hir parents are afraid of."

#139 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 06:42 PM:

Lee @#138: That's easy enough to prevent; just insist that they live at home while they go to college.

#140 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Mary Dell, #139: That's exactly what my parents did, until I raised enough hell about it that they let me move on campus my senior year. (This is one of the reasons that my adolescent rebellion was so severely delayed. The other main one is that they wouldn't let me drive, and we lived out where there was no evening or weekend bus service. I had to beg rides from friends, most of whom lived in other parts of town, which made it awkward.)

But that doesn't prevent the problem, only postpones it. Sooner or later the kid is going to be out from under the parental thumb -- and the older they are when it happens, the worse the trouble they can end up in, because people around them are going to be expecting them to have a degree of maturity that they simply haven't been able to acquire yet.

#141 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 11:14 PM:

Since I was a minor, my folks insisted I go to the college they did -- a religious liberal arts school. Didn't work for me, I'd been pretending to be a Christian for years; I was an atheist.

My brother's first wife is an example of being exposed to the real world -- Christian schools through college and then when she started teaching, she found nice people with good morals and values who weren't fundamentalist Christians. When my brother wouldn't change his beliefs, she divorced him. He tried to get her back for a long time. I wonder if he realizes that sending his kids to a fundamentalist Christian school might bring the same reaction.

#142 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2008, 02:09 AM:

I was 17 when I first went to college while my family moved 5,000 miles away to Guam. I did have an aunt and uncle up north in Phoenix, but they weren't much for in loco parentis.

I think I had a GPA around 1.5 that first semester, and the second wasn't much better. ROTC and required (! in 1968!) PE classes kept me from complete failure.

I became very familiar with beer, however.

#143 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 10:54 AM:

Serge@82: I saw Jane Yolen when she heard Teresa had converted. We didn't need an EMT, but I'd never seen her stunned like that before.

Mary Dell @ 94: Good card -- but I knew there was a reason I avoided the series; most of the points on the card were added (which hardly seems necessary when making a >400-page book into a 6-hour series).

Many mothers go dancing on Mothers' Day; thankfully, relatively few now are like this even on Whitsun. May there be fewer in the future.

#144 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2008, 01:28 PM:

Linkmeister: My first semsester of college was going well enough (that I was paying for it might have helped), but then I got my first serious girlfriend. Oh boy, that put paid to that term.

That was wth a pretty good set of rules for dealing with things (drink, drugs, time management) from a decent set of parental controls and liberties (not perfect, and some of it was pretty bad, but all in all a decent model for how to give kids/young adults a grasp of how to handle things/grow up).

But the emotional roller coaster... the first time you get hit with that, all the good training in the world can go right out the window.

#145 ::: janetl sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 31, 2011, 02:52 AM:

145

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