Saturday, February 25, 2012


Last night I saw the Batsheva Dance Company perform the piece Max at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Max was very haunting and sophisticated, engaging and dynamic. The sound was difficult for me though, especially at first. There was a lot of dance to silence that was fascinating yet kind of tense to watch, as if they were performing to music only they could hear. Then, the sound was devilish and surreal, and somewhat off-putting. Once I succumbed to it, however, I was thoroughly enthralled by the other-wordly and surprising movements of the dancers. The bodies moved both unsettlingly slowly and then breathtakingly abruptly.

I read online that this style is called "Gaga": the sensory-based movement language created by Ohad Naharin, the choreographer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Law and Society

I finished Barkan's Law and Society: An Introduction. This comprehensive book provides an over view of key topics and theories in the study of law and society, and raises interesting questions. A good history and a good introduction.


The other night I watched Limitless, a sort of thriller about a struggling writer who happens upon a pill that allows you to use a hundred percent of your brain capacity. Suddenly he is capable of anything and his life drastically changes.

The plot thickens as his success soars and others are trying to get hold of stashes of these pills.

There are many holes in the plot and I found the movie to be rather annoying.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beyond Bad Girls

I read Chesney-Lind & Irwin's Beyond Bad Girls: Gender, Violence & Hype, which looks critically at the somewhat recently "discovered" phenomenon of the "mean girl".

The authors argue that this focus is really part of a feminist backlash, reinvoking age-old negative stereotypes of girls and women as duplicitous. The cultural focus on "mean girls" detracts from more serious problems faced by girls, and folding "relational aggression" into anti-bullying programs means that girls are being increasingly surveilled and policed, and their relatively minor actions are viewed as as serious and damaging as more openly aggressive and violent behavior which is more typical of boys.

Punishment & Modern Society

I just reread David Garland's Punishment & Modern Society, and, again, was awestruck by the breadth of his analysis. He examines the theories of Durkheim, Weber, Marxists, Foucault, and Elias in terms of their concepts of punishment and its relation to society. The elucidation of the theories is excellent, as is the analysis and critique. He concludes with a call for a coherent sociology of punishment that explores both the role culture plays in punishment and the role punishment plays in culture.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bad Boys

Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity by Ann Arnett Ferguson is an excellent analysis of the ways in which black boys are singled out and stigmatized in desegregated public schools.

Bad Boys is based on three years of field work at an school in California in the 90s, and the insights I'm sure are no less true today. Teachers and administrators, black and white, respond to these boys through the lens of racism, and these boys come to school with comportment styles formed in the face of our cultures racism. The institution of the school rewards those students who most conform to white middle class standards, and those who are routinely punished are denied school resources and put in an institutional cycle that leaves them behind academically. Looming large over them is the specter of the juvenile justice system and the criminal justice system, and Ferguson's book offers some explanation for the disproportionate numbers of black men in our jails.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I know it is embarrassing, but I really liked the movie Overboard when it first came out in 87. It was embarrassing to like it then. For one, I am not a fan of either screwball or romantic comedies, and you put them together, and of course I should hate it. For another, this film is strongly sexist.

And in spite of all this, I enjoyed it on second watching, nearly 25 years later.

The movie starts off with Goldie Hawn parading around her yacht in a ridiculous parody of a socialite bitch. She talks with booming hauteur and bosses everyone around. She fires a carpenter (Kurt Russel) in a belittling and totally bitchy manner, and he yells at her about how miserable she is.

Then, she falls off the boat and has amnesia. Her husband doesn't claim her because he is sick of her shrewishness. And the carpenter decides as a gag to take her in and pretend she's his wife. Hilarity ensues as Goldie is reduced to white trash living, with four overly rambunctious untamed sons and a ridiculously messy home. But, guess what? Goldie learns to care about other people and take pleasure in life. She becomes the caring, supportive, strong yet sexy housewife. And, the icing on the cake: she and Kurt Russel fall in love!

But what happens when she regains her consciousness???? I won't tell.

About a year ago I watched Foul Play again after decades, and was completely charmed by Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. I felt the same about her in Overboard. I guess next up is Private Benjamin...

Friday, February 3, 2012


Last night I watched Contagion. I had been very excited to see this, as I found the trailer gripping. Even though friends told me it wasn't good, I still thought I would get into it. It just seemed to tap into fears that I kind of get off on indulging sometimes. Illness, death, the end of the world...

This had actors in it who I like a lot, and there was a good use of music and cinematography. The story centered on the medico-administrative aspect of containing a rapidly spreading deadly virus that was killing millions of people throughout the world. It was filmed in a way that created suspense. But in spite of this, most of the movie felt flat, predictable, and slightly plodding.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Act Your Age!

Nancy Lesko's Act Your Age!: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence provides an interesting overview of the 19th century construction of adolescence, and the cultural residue these values have, particularly in terms of the masculinization and hierarchical organization of high school.