They grow culture in a petri dish.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older...

My thanks goes out to everyone who made my birthday so much fun! Here's a smattering of pictures from the festivities. It might not be readily apparent from most of the pictures I've chosen, but the central activitiy of the night was karaoke. Secondary activities included smoking on the back porch and playing with pampered and human-food crazy Zeth and Edmundo. For the most part, we hung in with songs from the 70s and 80s. Haven't thought of the Thompson Twins in awhile; haven't sung Heart's "Alone" in company. Also, I'm still amazed that "Ice, Ice Baby" made it into the karaoke selection. I sang it again, and it's as much of a room clearer as Kate Bush's "Cathy"—fabulous effort on the parts of Andretta and Darise notwithstanding. Plus, it was great to have Tom working the microphone; he can be a bit scarce around karaoke time, and Andretta is always looking to share some Madonna with him. And, while I'm at it, it was great to have Reginald Witherspoon with us; he's been a little under the weather, so give him some love.

Marlin was our gracious host, and I thank him so much for all his hard work. Piper and Neko both brought cakes that they'd made from some sort of scratch that I've never scratched. Brilliant work, I must say. These cakes were delicious, even after the whole "sticks of butter" discussion (and, yes, I have found them, and yes, they've migrated to my ass). Seriously, there was a lot of cake, and it was go-ood.

Let's see, I'm thankful that no one followed through on the spanking threats, though it seems as if this tradition was replaced wholesale by birthday poking, not a good sign. Some people (you know who you are)need to get over this poking habit tout suite or there's going to be an accident—car or urine—and you'll have a lot of explaining to do. What else? Oh yeah, I've got to thank Tam for not continuing to sing Dire Straits after the first attempt. He inadvertently changed the sultans to peons, but he came back strong with "Mack the Knife."

So, thanks again everyone! I've had fun getting older with you all.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yet Again, the Federal Government Fails to Ask Me for Vital Input on an Important Social and Economic Issue...

...namely, immigration. Let me just start by saying that our initial approaches to immigration thus far have been a bit short-sighted. Illegal immigrants and their supporters protesting for automatic American citizenship? Bad idea. American citizenship isn't all it's cracked up to be. We've got no universal health care, fewer worker protections than we had previously, and elected officials who won't listen to us. Plus, other countries hate us. Minutemen patrolling the borders? Bad idea. What are you going to do, shoot someone? That's productive. How about volunteering to fix the problem that immigrants are running from instead? It seems like time more effectively spent. What is it about human nature that gives us the knee-jerk, a reaction that makes the initial problems we face so much worse? Methinks it has something to do with the unwillingness to understand others…

As Americans from different cultural and economic backgrounds, it behooves us to be more understanding. Don’t listen to the Antivege Movement which contends that vegetables aren’t meant to be eaten and that immigrant workers shouldn’t be picking them in the first place. Don’t listen to the No Spanch Movement which fears that, if immigrants must become literate in English (and, by association, history, etc.), so must all Americans. Instead, think, with me, about inventive ways to address the border issue in lieu of posturing for power. Here are some possible solutions:

1. South of the Borderland!
Mexicans want to work; Americans want to have fun: why not combine the two? South of the Borderland!, the world’s longest theme park, provides a practical solution. Americans from California to Texas and, indeed, people from all states and nations, can enjoy the rides, food, and exhibits brought to them solely by Mexican workers. Plus, special “adult” sections for spring breakers ensure that young and nubile hedonists spend less money on travel and that sloppy, falling-down drunks won’t risk falling off cruise ships. As for Mexican workers, they enjoy the ability to work on the border (i.e., in “America”) while returning to their home country at night, thanking God they’re not American.

2. Red Rover Border Tournament
In this proposal, hopeful Mexican immigrants square off against Americans who wish to be litigants on small-claims court TV shows. Rojo Rover, Rojo Rover, envie Duane, Rhonda, y Angelique aqui! In my opinion, there is no less desirable American than s/he who aspires to small-claims court “stardom.” And, typically, from the types of cases filed, these people have little practical experience and would benefit from a life lived below border for awhile. Red Rover, Red Rover, send Consuela, Enrique, and Julio right over! I’d take a willing immigrant worker striving to better his or her life any day. Strong enough to break through an arm-wall? Citizenship is yours!

3. America’s Next Top Immigrant (and subsequent spin-off shows)
If there’s anything America loves, it’s a reality TV show. Why not exploit this format for the benefit of the working man and woman? Each season, the show will follow immigrant contestants in their search to find jobs, reunite families, adjust to culture shock, and maintain personal dignity. And, of course, the American audience votes someone off every week. Each season’s newly-minted American citizen “winner” gets more than just citizenship, though. He or she becomes an ambassador for immigrant rights just as the show acts to educate Americans about economic realities facing immigrants and, in all honesty, most blue-collar Americans as well.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Happy [Just] Take Responsibility Day!

Three or so years ago, when I was working in a mom-and-pop publishing company (my "Joe Versus the Volcano job"), I had a boss who used to screw up every order he tried to help out with. Invariably, we'd have orders come in from "important" (i.e., federal) agencies, and he'd have to handle them "personally." This would usually involve something like taking the seal they'd sent us for the book cover, bypassing each department which normally dealt with the seal, creating a cover mock-up himself, then berating us all when the sample cover came out looking like shit. Err, J? You're the one who did that work, not us. If we'd seen the seal in the first place, we could have told you we needed a line drawing, not a jpeg.

Lo and behold, one magical day, after an important order had been thus bungled, finally fixed, and shipped, he came into our department and proclaimed the words that compentent employees everywhere long for their bosses to one day utter: "That was my fault." Streaming sunshine, chirping birds, and a chorus of angels up on high: "THAT was MY FAULT." In celebration of this glorious day, a May 23rd, we christened this day "[J] Takes Responsibility Day." To protect our happiness at this event (and in order not to get fired discussing it), we quickly renamed today "JUST Take Responsibility Day."

To celebrate JTR day, you must take two actions. First, and most reverently, you must own up to the boneheaded mistakes that you have made in the past (especially the past year—since the last JTR day). Put a stapled document through the company shredder which resulted in the loss of a co-worker's eye? "That was my fault," you can meekly acquiesce. Second, you can choose to take further responsibility for things that, while not primarly your fault, contributed to badness of some sort. Kind of like the time I appologized to Candor for getting him back to the office late from our lunch break...because I'd been rear-ended by a Mack truck while returning to the office.

The more things that you appologize for, the more fun this becomes because you get to thinking about the minutae-like, butterfly-effect of even your smallest actions. For my part, here are a few of the things I am sorry for on this, the 5th or 6th annual JTR day:

1. I'm sorry that my blog is keeping you from important work or socializing that you might otherwise be doing. My thoughtful observations are a direct cause of your compromized productivity, and, for this, I appologize.

2. I'm sorry that my shoddy Courtney Love impression has caused you to think that the actual Courtney Love doesn't look half bad. This must be particularly taxing for you.

3. If you used to be my co-worker, I'm sorry to bring up this old job. I hope that the anti-anxiety medicine that you're taking and the post traumatic stress disorder therapy that you're receiving help counterbalance the flashbacks I've caused.

4. If you really like holidays but are particularly materialistic, I appologize for laying out this (admittedly new to you) holiday which doesn't have the requisite party favors to go along with it. I considered creating plates with my former boss's face on them, but, unfortunately, he has patented his face.

5. If you are one of my old students and did not like being asked to formulate your own thoughts and ideas, I sincerely appologize. Knowing what mental stress this caused, I should not have asked you to deviate from espousing public opinion, to grow as a person, or to empower yourself by understanding rhetoric and using it effectively. Again, "my bad."

At any rate, I hope you celebrate and enjoy this day. For those of us willing to take responsibility for our achievements and our faults, every day brings satisfaction. But, as we must live and work with those who do not, Just Take Responsibility Day can bring us sweet, if vengeful, satisfaction. And, for that, I am sincerely sorry!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I Lost My Chastity, Suffered, and Died

Hello, I am Violet Meltzer. Today, we have, in our studios, three fictional women who died as a result of lost Virtue, which is to say, Chastity, which most woefully was taken from them at the hands of uncaring libertines. Fallen women all, they have come to retell their experiences so that their auditors may be educated in the lessons of constancy, atonement, and the surety of marital bliss. I beg my audience's indulgence at the indecency of their stories; I trust we can learn from them.

Written about in the pages of William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy (1789), Harriot Fawcett hails from Boston, Massachusetts. Featured in Hannah Webster Foster's The Coquette (1797), Eliza Wharton comes from Hartford, Connecticut, and, finally, the eponymous Charlotte Temple (from Susanna Rowson's 1791 book) resides in New York. Women, welcome.

Mingled murmured thanks.

Violet: My first question for you all is this: were you not happy in your lives, settled as you were among friends and family who would support you? What made you stray from your own better judgment?

Charlotte: I own that I was happy. In England, I lived away from my parents at Madame Du Pont's boarding school under the care of a Mademoiselle La Rue. My attachment to Mr. Montraville, indecorous and rash, led me to a retired New York situation and to ignominy.

Violet: Ah, the French! I am unduly surprised your parents allowed them as your moral guardians. But what made you stray from your own better judgment?

Charlotte: Upon reconsideration, the base machinations of Mademoiselle La Rue, fear of offending Mr. Montraville, and further fear of breaking my engagement and having this known among my peers. My rising shame of my earlier behavior compounded my initial crime of indecorous meetings with Mr. Montraville.

Violet: Did you not love him?

Charlotte: I admit, I was at pains to resist him.

Violet: I should tell our audience that you were actually taken from England to America. At what point were you promised marriage?

Charlotte: Before we left, Mr. Montraville promised to marry me upon our landing in America.

Violet: And you believed this falsehood!?!

Charlotte: I took him at his word.

Violet: The man who detained you in a garden, who pressed a secret correspondence upon you, and who encouraged you to steal away from your guardians?

Charlotte: Sigh. The very same. But then Mademoiselle La Rue abandoned Mr. Montraville's friend Belcour during the voyage in favor of marriage to a Mr. Crayton. In discussion with Mr. Montraville, I expressed the indelicacy of such arrangement, holding that Mr. Belcour should keep his word. At which point, Mr. Montraville proclaimed "Well, but I suppose he has changed his mind and then you know the case is altered." At this instance, I saw myself for what I had become.

Violet: And you, Eliza, were you happy?

Eliza: After the death of my fiance, Mr. Hay, I was exceedingly happy. I wished only to spend time in good company, enjoying my unattached state.

Violet: Indeed, you have been recorded as having said "Marriage is the tomb of friendship. It appears to me a very selfish state. Why do people, in general, as soon as they are married center all their cares, their concerns, and pleasures in their own families?" (123). Tell me, how did you propose to comport yourself in an indefinitely unmarried state?

Eliza: I confess, I had no plan to guide me. Mrs. Sumner once wrote me monitorially "We are dependent beings" (212), and this has stuck with me ever since. Of my two suitors, Reverand Boyer, my trustworthy and constant friend, dissolved his attachment when he found me in private conversation with Major Sanford. For his part, Major Sanford married another, continued to pursue me, and was ultimately author of my ruin.

Violet: And, finally, Harriot, describe your undoing.

Harriot: Actually, Violet, though my chastity was never breached, I confess my heart had been. Unbeknownst to me, my suitor was my brother.

Charlotte: Egad!

Eliza: Horrors!

Violet: Yikes! How did this scenario come to pass?

Harriot: Mr. Harrington, my father I must now call him, did criminally abuse his Maria whilst unmarried after which time he married the more fortunate Amelia. After the death of my mother, I, the result of his secret and unhappy union, was preserved in perfect ignorance of my parentage.

Violet: "Perfect ignorance" is an interesting term. Describe, if you can, the education you received upon the topic of sexual congress.

Charlotte: Err...

Harriot: Cough. In corresponding with my friends, I was related two stories in which women were seduced from all good company and brought low as a result.

Eliza: Blushing. Though not touching specifically on the act...that is to say not...I was given much advice on the worthiness of some suitors over the depraved attentions of others.

Violet: Did you know aught of birth control? The oldest known condoms date back to 1640.

Bewildered looks.

Violet: And Eliza and Charlotte, how were you delivered of child?

Charlotte: I was cast out of my sinful home by the removal of the monetary support once supplied by my debauched protector. I delivered my child in the home of charitable strangers, lived to see my father come for me, and died soon after.

Eliza: Having flown my maternal home and all former friends, I, too, was dependent on strangers, gave birth, and died with no friends around me.

Harriot: Um...I died of shame. I mean, I know it's not the same thing...

Violet: Yes, very interesting, though: you all died. Now, I know this wasn't a personal choice as you are all fictional characters, but I must point out how convenient these deaths actually were. None of you were forced to live with the shame of your actions nor were you given time after repentance of them to become re-integrated into society. Fascinating!

Well, that completes our interviews tonight! I thank all of our guests for their grace and candor in this discussion. And, to my audience, I avow the vast difference between the state of these unsupported, unenlightened, and dependent women and the women of our own present-day acquaintance who are given every benefit of sex education, including federally-supported knowledge of their bodies' workings, birth control of their choosing, and freedom of sexual expression as well as proper health care and government-funded support of daycare for working mothers who have choosen to bear children. Or not. Perhaps we like the eighteenth century more than we like to admit, yes?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

This Week in Business Syntax Bafflement

Today, I ran across a business name I hadn't yet encountered; the business in question is called "Choose to Cruise." I might not have thought so intently about this name except for the fact that Jolanda had us workshopping a title for her sister's travel firm awhile back. At any rate, I have some reservations (guffaw!) about this business name. In one respect, it carries an implied "instead of" clause—i.e., "Choose to Cruise" instead of sitting at home or "Choose to Cruise" instead of flying, etc. Considering the "instead of" clause makes me think of other options more than it sells me on the cruise itself. Following this line of thinking, I think one can come up with more interesting names: "Cruises Rule!" plays up the actual product and the more combative "Screw Safaris!" denigrates other possible options.

Second, and more distrubing, is the choice of the word "choose" in this name. Are there people out there who are being transported around on boat without their permission? Probably. But, if I'm considering a vacation, I'm not sure that I'd want the spectre of the sex slave or illegal worker trade encroaching on my blissful consumer daydreams. Plus, I'm not the kind of person who will feel better about my elevated class position through such a consideration: "Yeah...I get a choice in the matter. This cruise is so much better because I'm a valuable and protected white American. Mai-tais all around!"

Finally, I think "Choose to Cruise" implies too little backbone on the part of the cruise seller. One gets the impression that there is a second implied message here "...or not, depending on if you really like cruises. It's up to you, really." Have some authority here—you're selling a cruise, dammit! If the customer isn't buying, there are going to be some serious consequences! I humbly submit the more assertive "Cruise...or Else" and "Cruise, or the Dog Gets It." I'm sure the [insert ethnicity here] mafia will be willing to help out. For free passes to all Caribbean ports of call, drinks on the house, and free midnight buffet...

So, yeah, those are my humble suggestions. And, just for the record, I'm currently choosing not to cruise. Too much unregulated raw sewage dumping in the ocean for me, thanks! And pirates. And risk of food poisoning, falling over the edge, or unproscutable rape. But you get the picture (thank you, Dateline).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Long-Awaited Invention Exchange

In true MST3K fashion, I've been collecting my best most recent inventions to share (because, you know, I'm all about making the world a better place). I must warn the lactose intolerant, though, that some of these are milk-based, and, depending on the severity of your intolerance, you may want to take a lactaid before reading on. For those allergic to smut or tastelessness, I must also warn that, though these inventions are entirely practical and marketable, some of them might be objectionable as well. You may want to take a dose of...actually, I'm not sure that the medical community has a pill for this yet. At any rate, here we go!

"Wicked Cheesy"
Have you ever wanted some pepper jack cheese then reconsidered and decided to eat cottage cheese instead? Then, halfway through your cottage cheese, you decide that you'd really wanted the pepper-jack all along? Pepper-jack cottage cheese solves this weeks-old dilemma. Even so, it should not be confused with pimento cottage cheese 'cause that's the next product in the "Wicked Cheesy!" product line

"OCD Maids"
Many people are afflicted with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Many other people want their houses spotlessly clean. By hiring the obsessive compulsive to clean houses, we've got a match made in wage-labor heaven! Why? Personal satisfaction in a job well-done: you can't be an effective maid without a deep committment to the work at hand. Our slogan: "When you say 'stop,' we're just getting started."

When you leave the comfort and safety of your home, you also leave behind all your heat-based cooking implements. Sure, plenty of people carry cigarette lighters and can put together a fire to heat things outside. A lot of people have huge outdoor grills. But the portable toaster brings the civilized world outside, enabling you to toast bread, bagels, and other thin, square food any time they need toasting. "Sir-Toasts-a-Lot" comes standard with a heat-absorbing pad; a harness for car installation; and a fanny pack for personal, hands free use. Products to follow include a portable microwave and portable coffee maker.

Milkshake? Nah, too cold. Hot cocoa? Nah, too thin. Want a warm, thick milky beverage which mixes the bulk of a milkshake with the comforting warmth of hot cocoa? Look no further than "Hotshake," available in chocolate, coffee, strawberry, banana, chocolate mint, blueberry, and apricot. Bring a straw, bring a spoon, and don't forget the mittens! (Honestly, I blame this invention on farina. Mmmm...farina...)

"The Precursor"
The resurgence of religious affiliation in America has led to pledges of abstinence before marriage. Even so, such a pledge discounts the work of physics in sexual congress after marriage. You may be well-suited emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, but what if he doesn't fit!?! A practical solution? "The Precursor." Your husband-to-be can now cast his member in plastic so that you can judge physical compatibility before a potentially disasterous wedding night. We create and deliver custom casts under the strictest supervision to ensure that, when you wed, you know what you're taking to bed.

Want to share an invention? If so, please remember that I'm not the patent office, and that I'm too lazy to take these sure-fire winners in myself. For any legitimate business proposals, contact me personally. I have literally upwards of $10 to invest in lucrative invention endeavors.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Need Some Information About a Library

Yesterday, I'd slated some study time in the law library with Andretta to get a head-start on my reading for exams. We'd agreed to meet at the this particular library since they've already finished reconstructing it. Alternately, we in the humanities are fondly looking forward to our third anniversary sans Library West (and by "fondly," I mean we are contemplating taking a hostage).

Having driven past this building frequently, I set out on bike for said library. It took me awhile to navigate to the Law College area since they've closed the main road for continued construction. Then, as I was trotting around, I couldn't find the entrance to the library. Hmmm...wonder why? Could it be because they decided to name it...something else? Turns out, in the linguistic world of lawyers, "library" means "information center." As a lifelong Florida resident, I find this asinine. An "information center" is where you go to get Disney tickets or secure group rates for the Ramada; it is not where you go to procure books.

Lest I be alone in this thinking, I checked the university website just to see what the other "libraries" are being called these days. They are as follows:

UF Digital Collections
Architecture and Fine Arts Library
Education Library
Judaica Library Health Science Center Library
Allen H. Neuharth Journalism and Communications Library
Legal Information Center
Library West (pictured)
Marston Science Library
Mead Library
Music Library
Smathers Library (East)

Hmm...I wonder what the lawyers know that I don't know. Maybe there's some legal issue involved in calling this book repository a "library." The same legal issue involved in calling the BOOKSTORE a WELCOME CENTER? Taxes, perhaps? Or maybe the contractor who worked on this building also owns the business that sold us the letters to label the building. Changing from "Law Library" to "Legal Information Center" more than doubles the number of letters in the title—cha-ching! Plus, I'm pretty sure the LIC's named after someone because there were a lot more letters in the title that I'm leaving out (though, again, none of them spelled "library").

So, since we're apparently going to rename structures willy-nilly, here are my alternate suggestions for the ediface formerly known as "law library:"

Books R' Us
Legal Briefs
The Studeria
Reading Lounge
Page Me, Bite Me
Information Storage Unit
Stack Attack!
The Lexus Nexus
Make a Federal Case of It (Here)

The most irritating point of this matter is that I know I'm right semantically, but I'd lose if I had to take this to court. Even after the severe emotional distress that this has caused me.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

(Decidedly Not) Hot for Teacher

I was hunting down the author of Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog, and I decided to Google myself in the process. To my surprise, my personal homepage is the first "me" on the web, which is pretty cool (academia has its privileges, I guess). From my last run at this, I found that there are a few different people with my name out there including a porn actress, a horrid amateur poet, and someone who likes to fish (all of whom are not me). So, as I'm looking for myself, I find that I've got my first feedback on, which is pretty exciting. Turns out, I got some interesting ratings—they are as follows (out of 5):

Average Easiness: 3
Average Helpfulness: 4.3
Average Clarity: 4.7
Hotness Total: 0
Overall Quality: 4.5

Now, leaving aside the argument that some of these are poor criteria for picking an effective and engaging instructor (easiness?), what gives with the "0" for hotness? The academic part of me believes that "hotness" has no place in the classroom and that it could actually hinder my pedagogy. I'd never date my students, and I view my classroom as a safe learning environment where discussion of sex, when they do occur, are always contextual. Even so, the vain teenager in me cries foul. I know I don't bring hotness to class, but who's to say it isn't there? Somewhere? For the love of Christmas, can a woman at least get a .5!?! And, of course, the lawsuit-phobic part of me realizes that there have been a lot of "hot teachers" as of late, and they keep going to jail.

But, come to think of it, a lot of those teachers who are going to jail are conventionally hot. One would think that they wouldn't have problems finding people to go out with (except maybe the married ones). Even so, sleeping with an underage guy who you have a good measure of control over is wro-oong and is in a completely different ballpark than dating (or sleeping with) a peer. When the issue of "hotness" becomes an issue of "horniness," then, yeah, there's no way I'd want to appear to my students to be "on the make." Eww... not cool!

I guess the point of this post is that I'm doing my job correctly, and that should be of some satisfaction to me. And, as far as "hotness" is concerned, there's a time and a place for it. Now as for finding that time and place...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Phat Matters

Yesterday, the ladies of the Clit Squad went to view curvy comedienne Mo'Nique's Phat Girlz. Phat Girlz tells the story of Jazmin Biltmore (Mo'Nique), an underemployed department-store clerk (at fictional Bloomfeld's) who dreams of designing her own line of plus-sized fashions and bemoans her lack of dating opportunities. Single, she runs with sororitally-plump but dowdy Stacey (Kendra C. Johnson) and "skinny" cousin Mia (Joyful Drake from Beauty Shop). At a fat-burning-pill-contest-sponsored trip to Palm Springs, she meets Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis), a doctor from Nigeria who is in town for a conference. Lust ensues... Meanwhile, Stacey hooks up with Tunde's friend, Akibo (comedian Godfrey), and they promptly start playing doctor in hot, hot (and funny) sex scenes.

While the movie was certainly entertaining, I thought that it was interesting on a number of other levels as well. First, discussions of size were central to the narrative. Like many large people in American society, Jazmin and Stacey can't merely go about their day without thinking about weight. They are dissed at work, at a club, and at FatAss Burger. In Jazmin guise, Mo'Nique's responses to this disrespect are priceless, as is showcased in a verbal throw-down in FatAss Burger. Zingers such as "you are so ugly your mother had morning sickness after you were born" clearly establish her intellectual and comedic superiority. This disrespect resonates with Jazmin's dream of marketing her plus-sized fashions. The plus size section of Bloomfeld's sells the most vomitous, unflattering clothing imaginable (I know this section; I've perused this section and have walked away disgusted.) What's more important, though, is the way that the movie shows the principal characters turning this disgust inward and attempting to overcome it.

Second, issues of size intersect with issues of race. At one point, Jazmin and Stacey decry the fact that skinny white women are taking "all the brothers." In another scene, Stacey asks Jazmin what is "wrong with this picture" as the camera pans to thin white women customers shopping for clothes. Jazmin replies, "We're the only black people in here," but Stacey corrects her, saying, "We're the only fat people in here." The movie maintains this ambivalence of size-based versus (or in addition to) race-based identification throughout. Many times, Mia is marginalized because she's the skinny "sista" who automatically gets attention from men, but she is nevertheless included in social outings because she is "family." When Jazmin and Stacey are invited to the Nigerian doctors' party, Mia is grudgingly allowed along, though people continually maintain that "she must be sick or malnourished" because of her size. Even so, the movie doesn't propose much cross-racial identification between women of size (except one scene in which white customers become the economic power behind Jazmin's plus-sized clothing line). Here, I think this opportunity isn't developed because of the wealth of material offered by intersections between African-American and Nigerian cultures which seems fitting given the truly multi-cultural investments of writer/director Nnegest Likké (who is at least part Ethiopian).

Finally, issues of weight intersect with those of self-confidence and sexuality. Buttoned-up Stacey literally loses those buttons as Akibo rips up all of her resort clothing and proclaims that he "never wants to see her in clothes again" (which makes sense—the woman is gorgeous!). In the throes of love, Jazmin and Stacey find themselves poolside in bathing suits, a place and dress they'd declared verboten at the vacation's start. Though still drawing admonitory stares, they've taken an action which is volcanically freeing for their characters and the movie's viewers alike. You rarely ever see fat people on TV or in movies, and, when you do, they're rarely enjoying themselves. Rock...on...Phat Girlz! Plus, Jazmin's and Stacey's romantic interests are hot, and I mean sear-your-flesh-and-seek-medical-attention hot. Haitian Jimmy Jean-Louis makes hottie Djimon Hounsou look like a hobo. And comedian Godfrey's none-too-shabby himself (please, someone, give this man my digits). My only concern about these choices for romantic matches is, again, the issue of weight. Though Jazmin and Stacey agonize about their weight, their romantic partners do not have to. Then again, weighter men would have unleashed a weighter narrative and gotten in the way of the Cinderella-type story.

Even though Phat Girlz hasn't necessarily gotten the best reviews, I think it's an entirely worthwile movie. It is, at turns, funny and angry; it tackles myriad social issues; it envisions women's financial, spiritual, and romantic fulfillment; and it features hot, hot guys. At a mere $2 million operating budget, this is a pretty impressive film, and I think Mo'Nique and friends have a lot to be proud of.