Not all snow is beautiful

By Annette Marie Hyder

This snow — pushed to the sides of the highway
lumpy and looking like batting, like long crib bumpers
for the cars racing around the cradle shaped highway —
is so dirty it looks purple. Not a deep royal purple
but a gray dingy purple that hints at bruises, crashes
and permanent cots.

The Feminist Art Project: free day of panels on current feminist art issues

Would you like to attend a day of FREE panels from The Feminist Art Project? Here’s all the information you need. Check it out!


Saturday, February 13, 2010
9am – 5pm
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Chicago

The Feminist Art Project (TFAP)announces the schedule for its special Day of Panels at the 2010College Art Association (CAA) Annual Conference in Chicago in February 2010. TFAP will present a series of extraordinary forums on Saturday, February 13th,9am -5pm. The annual day of panels is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

The TFAP Day of Panels is organized by Maria Elena Buszek, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, School of Liberal Arts, Kansas City Art Institute. The Day of Panels will address pressing feminist issues concerning contemporary feminist practices for artists, critics, and scholars,featuring collaborations between speakers from these fields, presented as dialogues and performances that would otherwise rarely find a comfortable space in the traditional CAA conference sessions.

All events will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Acapulco, Gold Level,West Tower, 151 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601.

Schedule for The Feminist Art Project Day of Panels, February 13, 2010

9:00-10:30am  When No Means More Than No
This panel will evaluate instances wherein “no” might mean more than no—or less.

10:45am-12:00 pm  Feminist Artists and Feminist Curators: AConversation About Collaboration
This round table conversation featuring feminist curators and artists will address the challenges, pleasures, and workaday details of contemporary feminist creative and curatorial practices.
12:30-1:45 pm  Wandering Uteri, de/reConstructed Vulvas, andArchitectures of Hospitality
In this provocative presentation, cyberfeminist artists/health activists/scholars combine research, on-the-ground activism, and artistic production to illuminate contemporary and historical representations of medical interventions into female/male/transgender reproductive functions and healthcare.                      

2:00-3:30 pm  Feminist Painting
What does it mean to paint “like a woman”—and how might that differ from painting as a feminist? This session brings together four artists of different generations to discuss the political ramifications of applying pigment to surface.

3:45-5:00 pm  Push and/or Pull: Trans and Gender-VariantArtistsDiscuss the Role of Feminism in Their Work
In recent years debates have raged over the place that transgender,gender-variant, and genderqueer people occupy in contemporary feminism. This panel will feature three artists who will discuss their work and how they negotiate feminism; ways that feminism is exclusive or inclusive and how they contribute to the evolution of contemporary feminist theory and praxis.

For more details of the TFAP Day of Panels click here.
For more information on TFAP click here.

‘Catcher in the Rye’ author, J.D. Salinger, dies at 91

Image courtesy of

“I hope to hell that when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” — J.D. Salinger

The Associated Press reports:

J.D. Salinger, the legendary author, youth hero and fugitive from fame whose “The Catcher in the Rye” shocked and inspired a world he increasingly shunned, has died. He was 91.

Salinger died of natural causes at his home on Wednesday, the author’s son said in a statement from Salinger’s literary representative. He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in the small, remote house in Cornish, N.H.

“The Catcher in the Rye,” with its immortal teenage protagonist, the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield, came out in 1951, a time of anxious, Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. The Book-of-the-Month Club, which made “Catcher” a featured selection, advised that for “anyone who has ever brought up a son” the novel will be “a source of wonder and delight – and concern.”

Enraged by all the “phonies” who make “me so depressed I go crazy,” Holden soon became American literature’s most famous anti-hero since Huckleberry Finn. The novel’s sales are astonishing – more than 60 million copies worldwide – and its impact incalculable. Decades after publication, the book remains a defining expression of that most American of dreams – to never grow up.

Read the entire article here.

Links of interest and updates:
J.D. Salinger: a gift of words and silence, By David L. Ulin

What’s in J.D. Salinger’s safe? Unpublished manuscripts?
Unspoken in Salinger obits: the term ‘mentally ill’

Drew Peterson a modern day Bluebeard?

If it’s true that Drew Peterson murdered his fourth wife after she found out that he murdered his third wife, this real life account has shadows of the folktale Bluebeard clinging to it. Bluebeard is a tale in which a husband kills one wife after another when they discover their predecessor’s fate as they give in to their feminine curiosity. In the Bluebeard tale feminine curiosity is punished and in the Drew Peterson case it is alleged that the fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, learned the truth about the disappearance of third wife, Kathleen Savio, and for finding out the grisly truth she in turn was murdered.

The fatal effects of feminine curiosity have long been the subject of story and legend. Lot’s wife, Pandora, and Psyche are all examples of women whose curiosity exacted dire consequences. In an illustrated account of the Bluebeard story by Walter Crane, when the wife is shown making her way towards the forbidden room, there is behind her a tapestry of the Serpent enticing Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.Wikipedia

The Bluebeard tale, an Aarne-Thompson type 312 folktale, has many variations. Here is a short one from Professor D. L. Ashliman’s library of Electronic folk texts:

North Carolina, USA

He had a big basket he car’ed on his back. He’d go to people’s house an’ beg fur something to eat; an’ when de pretty girls would come out an’ gi’ him something to eat, he grabbed ’em in the basket an’ run away wi’ them. He had a fine large place he car’ed ’em to — to his kingdom. He gi’ ’em de keys. He tol’ ’em everything there belonged to them but one room. “Don’t go in there.” He tol’ ’em the day they went in that room,they would be put to death. Married seven times, an’ all was sisters.The seven wife one day, when he was gone away, she taken the keys an ‘looks in dat room. Finds all her sisters dead in there in a pile. She is so excited, she dropped the keys an’ got them bloody. So he comeback an’ call for his keys. She kep’ them hid from him for several days, didn’ want him to see ’em. At las’ she brought them out an’ give them to him. He tol’ her to say a prayer. She prayed seven times. An’ her seven brothers came jus’ as he went to kill her. An’ he ran away into the woods, an’ never been seen since.

Read more variations here.

The Peterson case does not have the happy ending that the folktale does but it will have the happy (and eerie) occurrence of one of the alleged victims speaking — from the grave.

Victim speaks from the grave

The Herald Review reports:

Six years after she mysteriously drowned in a bathtub, Kathleen Savio is finally getting her day in court.

Savio essentially will testify from the grave today, with witnesses expected to tell a judge in Illinois how Savio discussed and wrote about her fears that her husband, former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson,would kill her.

The hearing is expected to provide the first detailed look at evidence prosecutors contend ties Peterson to Savio’s death. It stems from a state law that allows a judge to admit hearsay evidence – testimony from witnesses who recount what they heard from others – in first-degree murder cases if prosecutors can prove a defendant killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying.

The Illinois Legislature passed the law after authorities named Peterson a suspect in the 2007 disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, then exhumed the body of Savio, his third wife, and reopened the investigation into her 2004 death. Though the bill’s sponsors were careful never to link the law publicly to Peterson, it has been referred to as “Drew’s Law,” and his attorneys have long suggested it was passed to put Peterson behind bars.

During the hearing,which is expected to last three weeks, prosecutors will present to Will County Judge Stephen White about 60 witnesses to testify about 15hearsay statements. White will then decide if the jury can hear any or all of those statements when Peterson stands trial. Peterson has pleaded not guilty to murdering Savio, whose body was found in a dry tub. A trial date hasn’t been set.

While neither side has talked much about the evidence in the case, from the day Peterson was arrested, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow has made it clear that allowing Savio to tell jurors why Peterson wanted her dead is crucial to his case.

“In essence, what you’re basically allowing the victim of a violent crime to do is testify from the grave,”Glasgow, who pushed for passage of the bill, told reporters in May shortly after Peterson was arrested.

Continue reading article here.

Bluebeard by Gustav Doré, public domain

Archetype Enablers
Annette Marie Hyder
From the book The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow

His beard was ghostlight blue,
blue like veins
seen through too thin skin
and pale, like small albino things
with no eyes to see in the dark.

His beard was ghostlight blue.

Lamentations seeded fear.
And it was said
that each hair grew from sorrow,
Sorrow being the name he christened
every new wife with.
How many wives would that be?
And how many sorrows passed away
to his joy and bristling beard?

Lamentations seeded fear.

How did he win them?
His mouth teemed with terroring teeth
above his cudgel-like chin
and the hands that partnered
his lamprey mouth
were long nailed; bent odd at the wrist.
But that mouth won at wooing
His hands caressed the corpses
to be.

How did he win them?

There is a need in some
of the purest
to immolate themselves
to the strong.
Each Sorrow feared
to let herself fear
for fear that would
make fears come true.
And each Sorrow’s footsteps
trailed unerringly
to Bluebeard’s awful room.

Some immolate themselves to the strong.

The final Sorrow
was a special sorrow
a sorrow just for him
his best beloved
and tenderly cherished
cozen coddled victim.
She beat the archetype beast
she bested the brute in the test
of curiosity’s punishment. And yet

who was the cozened
who was the coddled
who the cherished victim?

Links of interest:
Drew Peterson Wikipedia entry
Bluebeard Wikipedia entry
AT Types of Folktales
Professor D. L. Ashliman
Project Gutenburg: The Seven Wives of Bluebeard by Anatole France
SurLaLune Fairy Tales: The Annotated Bluebeard

What makes me happy about this picture?

Photo taken at Barnes & Noble, Minnetonka, MN

Three things

  • Look at how many Rolling Stone magazines there are.
  • Notice how this issue’s cover “model” is not moving the mags here in Minnesota — at least at the book stores I’ve been to.
  • Observe the pristine, untouched appearance of the magazine. No dog ears. No sign of being picked up and leafed through — no indication of interest at all.

Except by me. And my interest is of a documenting sort. I am happy to have been able to capture these gleefully observed indications of what I’d like to call “Mayer-malaise”.

John Mayer’s clownish, misogynist comments about women make him eminently worthy of disdain.  His posturing (he’s been trying to position himself as heart-breaker extraordinaire and Jennifer Aniston life-ruiner) makes him eye-rollingly ridiculous. I bet Jennifer Aniston, in the privacy of her home, is tossing her signature locks in abandoned joyous celebration at being free of the pathetic attention-cubus that is John Mayer.

In the Rolling Stone interview, John Mayer talks about masturbation, trying to find someone he can admire more than he admires himself, and how he can’t fathom explaining himself to somebody who can’t believe he’d be interested in them (this after he disingenuously talks about girls brushing him off at clubs).

I picture a cartoon of a soulful looking parrot with a guitar over its feathered shoulder and one claw around its feathered man part. The parrot is in a cage. The door to the cage is wide open. The bird is too preoccupied to fly away. It is peering into a round bird-mirror which is clipped to the inside of the cage and the parrot is squawking — “I want you!” —  to the rapturous image before its love-struck eyes.

Links of interest

John Mayer’s Dirty Mind, Lonely Heart: February issue of Rolling Stone
Jezebel has five theories on the singer’s ‘interior life…or lack thereof’

Happy Birthday Bubble Wrap!

Cartoon courtesy of Confessions of a Writer  

I love you bubble wrap!

50 years ago today bubble wrap burst onto the pop culture scene. A wallpaper wannabee, bubble wrap went on to be so much more than mere surface decoration. From packing material to artistic muse and enveloping such things as fashion, fun and therapeutic activities in between, bubble wrap went on to become an iconic product. There are over 250 Facebook pages devoted to bubble wrap.

But the best thing about bubble wrap, of course, is popping it!

Being destructive was never so much fun. It’s like being allowed to jump on the bed, run down the stairs, yell in the house and track mud on the floor — all rolled up in the pleasure-packed finger fun of bursting bubbles!

USA Today reports:

Today marks an essential day in pop-culture history: Bubble Wrap’s 50th birthday.

Where would we be without these protective, oddly addictive plastic orbs of sealed air? (Actually, we might be in a healthier environment with more recyclable packaging materials, but we’ll overlook this fact for the moment.)

The term “Bubble Wrap” was coined in 1960 by engineers Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding who came up with the stuff in Hawthorne, N.J., “with the intent of creating a trendy new textured wallpaper.”

Today has been dubbed Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, so pop a few in their honor. And if you’d like to be green about it, just use some virtual Bubble Wrap.

Links of interest:

Free bubble wrap iPhone app
Compulsion, obsession, possession
Heart-shaped bubble wrap

Prince pens fight song for Minnesota Vikings

Purple and gold

What the New York Times called “a fight song by Prince for his hometown team” sounds more like a spiritual to me — a church hymn. I think it’s awful as a fight song for the Minnesota Vikings and I can’t see people getting all revved up and rah-rahing when they hear it. I can see this song getting people to shuffle their feet though — in vicarious embarrassment.

What do you think? Check it out below:

YouTube video

New York Times reports:

Prince, whose hits have included “Little Red Corvette” and “Purple Rain,” is continuing on the color spectrum with a tribute to the Minnesota Vikings called “Purple and Gold.”

The rock star, originally from Minnesota, wrote the tune to cheer on the Vikings, who will play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the National Football Conference championship game, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. “Purple and Gold” had its debut this week on the 9 p.m. newscast of the Fox affiliate KMSP-TV in Minneapolis.

Prince said he was inspired to pick up his pen after watching in person as the Vikings beat the Dallas Cowboys, 34-3, last weekend, after not seeing the team play in years until this season. The song (with Prince’s own brand of spelling) says in part: “as we approach the throne we won’t bow down/this time we won’t b denied/raise every voice and let it be known/in the name of the purple and gold/we come in the name of the purple and gold/all of the odds r in r favor/ no prediction 2 bold.” The Vikings wide receiver Bernard Berrian used his Twitter page to thank Prince. “He is definitely one of my favorites,” Mr. Berrian said.


Local radio personality, Sheletta Brundidge, has an interesting observation about this song: she thinks it’s a rip-off of the Negro National Anthem, aka “Lift Every Voice and Sing…”

Check out her blog post, here, where she invites you to compare Prince’s song with the Negro National Anthem, side by side.

(I love the pic of Prince she used for her post.)

January 2010 issue of InTheFray Magazine

Inside InTheFray Newsletter
. 1

cover image
editor's notebook
Best of InTheFray

A 2009 retrospective.

[ read more ]

editor’s choice

Dear Reader,

InTheFray Magazine’s Annual Donor Drive is underway. Our thanks to those who have already contributed. If you haven’t donated yet, please consider supporting our nonprofit magazine and its work to further global understanding and tolerance. To make a tax-deductible donation, go to,where you’ll find a number of options for donating. Thank you for yoursupport! We wish you a happy and wonderful 2010.

—The Editors

identify channel

Albion, New York

Portrait of a prison town. [ read more ]


interact channel

From the inner city to Indonesia

Teaching has its rewards, challenges everywhere. [ read more ]


imagine channel

Lean over: there is something I must tell you

Four poems by a contemporary American poet. [ read more ]


bullet point One soldier, many stories

Haiti earthquake devastation

Image courtesy of Mashable

Stunned Haitians piled their dead
on the crumbling streets

Annette Marie Hyder

The earth did not open
an angry mouth
hungrily eating
and there was no betrayal
in the lips of stone
that kissed them to their rest.
Forested fists were not shaken in rage.
It was weariness that caused it.

Haiti’s shoulders shuddered.
Her feet faltered in the steps
she’s used to taking
and she trembled
because she could no longer carry
in that moment
the weight
of so many souls on her back

beloved millstones
that started out as beads
on a necklace
whose decoration dimmed
as burden burgeoned
and ankle bracelets whose bells
stopped tinkling
and began to weep instead.

Now Haiti weeps too
and we who have not faces of granite
weep with her, tears like gravel
for the way that they cut
and prayers slide like pebbles
into a landslide of mourning.

Huffington Post reports:

A day after the great Haiti earthquake, government officials today estimated the death toll could surpass a seemingly unimaginable 100,000.

Disaster teams, a Navy carrier and a hospital ship are headed to the country.

Stunned Haitians piled their dead on the crumbling streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and President Andre Preval reported stepping over dead bodies.

While specifics on the number of casualties from the earthquake remained unclear, early reports point to heavy and widespread damage in a country that is the poorest in the western hemisphere.

President Obama today said the United States government would offer “swift, coordinated, and aggressive” aid to the estimated three million people caught in the disaster.

The quake struck late Tuesday afternoon, centered just 10 miles from the densely-populated capital.

Read the entire article here.

Would you like to help?

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti has many looking for ways to help.

ABC News has a five page list of easy-just-click-here contact information for such organizations as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, Food for the Hungry, Habitat for Humanity and many more. Link

In a blog post on the U.S. State Department Web site, Clinton’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills called for those wanting to help to donate $10 by texting “HAITI” to “90999.” The $10 donation will go automatically to the Red Cross “to help with relief efforts” and will be charged directly to your cell phone bill.

One of Haiti’s most famous sons, musician Wyclef Jean, has used Twitter to rally web users to contribute to his grassroots Yele Haiti earthquake fund. He’s urged his followers to text “Yele” to the number 501501. If you send the text, the organization will receive $5. The amount will be added to your next cell phone bill. You can retweet Wyclef’s updates and get some of your Twitter followers to donate, too.

The U.S. Better Business Bureau runs a site where U.S. donors can verify that a nonprofit is legit before donating. Source

Update 01-20-10:
You might want to stick with tried and true Red Cross for donation-by-texting since there have been questions raised about Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yele Haiti. It has come under fire with accusations being made that In 2007 the foundation’s spending exceeded its revenues by $411,000 with a large percent of its expenses benefiting several of Jean’s for-profit businesses. Source

Related links:

Fox News: Fast facts about Haiti earthquake
USA TODAY: How to help victims of the Haiti earthquake
Phoenix Business Journal: Be wary of earthquake relief scams
ABC News coverage
Gawker’s updates on Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yele Hait

Iguanas falling from the sky

Image courtesy of Jackie’s Page

My mom tells me that the leaves in Florida, which never do, have changed: a blushing profusion of cold bitten flush. And of course the iguanas, which have become proverbial as indices of cold, are falling from the arboreal sky.

(Where she lives, in Hardee county, it got down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit last night!)

Urban legend caught on video

WPLG Local 10 News reports:

Record lows across South Florida are literally freezing the invasive iguana in its tracks.

Kamikaze iguanas, plummeting from their treetop perches, have long been a Floridian urban legend. On Wednesday morning, Local 10 caught the free-falling lizard on tape.

Scientists said these seemingly suicidal lizards are a result of South Florida’s record cold weather. Iguanas prefer temperatures in the 80s and 90s. With Wednesday morning’s temperatures at around 35 degrees, a handful of lifeless lizards hung from branches and fell to the ground.

While these iguanas appeared dead, experts said they are not. When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, iguanas go into a type of hibernation in which their bodies essentially turn off, only allowing the heart to pump blood. When the temperature rises above 40 degrees again, the iguanas are revived.

“It’s almost like they go totally to sleep. Generally speaking, if it warms up afterward, they can recover,” said Ron Magill of Miami Metrozoo.

Ron Magill adds this cautionary note:

“I knew of a gentleman who was collecting them off the street and throwing them in the back of his station wagon, and all of a sudden these things are coming alive, crawling on his back and almost caused a wreck.”

Read the rest of the article here.
Watch the video here.

you can tell it’s cold in florida because
Annette Marie Hyder

this morning the scrub oaks
woke up confused
to find their leaves changed
since they went to bed
the mangroves wont walk
with the cold in their bones
arthritic concerns nod their heads

the palms shiver in silver
that criss-crosses their trunks
their fronds are fast frozen
even the shoreline
wears a sweater of rime
sequined with seashells
that tinkle and clink in surprise
at the frost-rimmed cup of the sun

gulls and cormorants —
feathered teeth of the sky —
click and chatter with cold
but it’s the blankets of ice
that the oranges are wearing
that really give it away
that and the way the iguanas are airborne
on their way to kerthunk at your feet

Links of interest:

Its so cold in Florida that…

Many Floridians, in wonderment and delight, took to flickr to share their amazement at, and photographic proof of, the rare beauty of ice in Florida:

Frozen Grass
Freezing Florida winter
ICE!!! It’s Florida, Right?
Florida Snowball
Great Horned Owl