The Bomb in the Photo

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Bones - The Bomb in the Photo

Did anyone else notice how, in last week’s episode, Bones totally photobombed Booth’s super-serious video will/last testament to daughter Christine? (“Parker? Who’s Parker?”) Like, it was supposed to be a touchingly heartfelt moment, and yet I Could. Not. Stop. Laughing. Literally. Through the entire segment.

This might be my favorite moment of Season 8. That is, until they break out the vegan noms. (Tofutti drumsticks, anyone?)

"The Hungry and the Hunted"

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

A Facebook acquaintance (is it terribly rude of me not to say friend?) posted this video some time back (try a year plus! I know, I’m the worst.) and I’ve been meaning to share it ever since. The clip’s from a short-lived show called Sports Night, which ran on ABC from 1998-2000. A comedy/drama created by Aaron Sorkin, Sports Night follows the production of a fictional sports news show (also called Sports Night).

The third episode of the first season (“The Hungry and The Hunted“) deals with newbie Jeremy’s reaction when, upon being tasked to produce a hunting segment for the show, he witnesses a deer being shot and killed right in front of him. As someone who’s never desired to kill animals for fun or “sport,” Jeremy is so horrified by the doe’s murder that he becomes physically ill and has to be rushed to the hospital.

Especially notable is the language Jeremy uses to describe the incident; as he transitions from the hunters’ perspective to his own, the deer ceases being just a thing, an “it,” and instead is recognized as a living creature – a she. From something to someone – and then to no one, an empty shell. A corpse. And for no reason, or at least not one discernible to the narrator:

Jeremy: (pauses) Yeah. Bob and Eddie were using the IR 50 Recon by Bushcomber. It’s got a 16 inch microgroove barrel with .30-.30 mags, side scope mount, wire cutter sheath, quick release bolt, mag catches and a 3 pound trigger. So I figured we must be going after a pretty dangerous duck.

Isaac: You can wiseass all you want. You’re gonna tell me what happened.

Jeremy: We shot a deer! In the woods by Lake Matatuck on the second day. There was a special vest they had me wear so they could distinguish me from things they wanted to shoot, so I was pretty grateful for that. Almost the whole day had gone by, and we hadn’t gotten anything. Eddie was getting frustrated and Bob Shoemaker was getting embarrassed. My camera guy needed to reload so I told everyone to take a 10 minute break. There was a stream near by and I walked over with this care package Natalie made me. Sat down. When I looked up I saw three of them: small, bigger, biggest. Recognizable to any species on the planet as a child, a mother and a father.

Now the trick with shooting deer is that you have to get them out in the open, and it’s tough with deer ’cause these are clever cagey animals with an intuitive sense of danger. You know what you have to do to get a deer out into the open? You hold out a Twinkie. That animal clopped up to me like we were at a party. She seemed to be pretty interested in the Twinkie, so I gave it to her. Looking back, she’d have been better off if I’d given her the damn vest. And Bob kind of screamed at me and whispered, ‘Move away!’ The camera had been reloaded and it looked like the day wasn’t going to be a washout after all. So I back away. A couple of steps at a time. And I closed my eyes when I heard the shot.

Look I know these are animals and they don’t play bridge or go to the prom, but you can’t tell me that little one didn’t know who his mother was. That’s got to mean something. And later at the hospital, Bob Shoemaker was telling me about the nobility and tradition of hunting, and how it was related to the Native American Indians and I nodded and said that was interesting, while I was thinking about what a load of crap it was! Hunting was part of Indian culture. It was food and it was clothes and it was shelter. They sang and danced and they offered prayers to the gods for a successful hunt so that they could survive one more unimaginably brutal winter. The things that they killed held the highest place of respect for them and to kill for fun was a sin. And they knew the gods wouldn’t be so generous next time. What we did wasn’t food and it wasn’t shelter and it wasn’t sports! It was just mean!

Also of interest is how Jeremy calls out the hunters for appropriating Native culture in order to justify their needless killing sprees. That said, death is still death, no matter how much you “respect” or “revere” the animal whose life you’re about to end. She has her own interests, and I’m pretty sure they don’t include being digested in your gullet.

Of course, context would most likely make this exchange less impressive; for example, I highly doubt that the Jeremy character has a sudden epiphany and goes vegan (or better still, is already vegan). I can’t say, since I haven’t seen the show – but it seems rather improbable, no? Even so, given the show’s likely demographic – youngish-adult-to-middle-aged dudes who enjoy sports, sports shows, and comedies about fictional sports shows – such a compassionate message is a nice surprise.

After the jump: the full transcript for those who can’t view the video.

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fuck yeah winifred burkle

Monday, June 11th, 2012

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When this photoset came up on my tumblr dash, I immediately googled “Winifred Burkle,” since I didn’t recognize the character’s name. I’m familiar with Amy Acker, of course, but through her work with Joss Whedon in Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods; Angel, not so much. I just started watching Buffy last year, you see, and as of this writing am halfway through season seven. Angel is next up in the queue. Ditto: the BVTS comics. (No spoilers please! And yes, I am THE WORST for requesting this of a decade-old show! THE. WORST.)

Anyway, here’s what Wiki had to say about Winifred Burkle. Keep reading and you’ll see why I’m so gorram excited to meet this character!

Character history

Fred was born in San Antonio, Texas to Roger and Patricia “Trish” Burkle. When she finished college, she moved to Los Angeles for graduate school at UCLA. Originally majoring in history, Fred took a physics class with Professor Seidel, which inspired her to take another path. Around this time, she began working at Stewart Brunell Public Library. In 1996, while shelving a demon language book, a curious Fred recited the cryptic text out loud and was accidentally sucked into a dimensional portal to Pylea (her future friend Lorne was sucked into the same portal on his side and ended up in Los Angeles). It was later discovered that the portal was actually opened by Fred’s jealous college professor, Professor Seidel, who had sent every promising student to it, essentially sending them to their death. Fred was the only one of at least six to return (cf. “Supersymmetry”). […]

Angel Investigations

For five years, Fred spent an arduous life as a “cow,” the Pylean word for humans who are kept as slaves. The harsh life of solitude and serfdom took a serious toll on her social skills, as well as her mental health; when Angel meets Fred she is curled up in a cave, scribbling on the already-covered walls, having seemingly convinced herself that her previous life in L.A. had not been real.

It was revealed that Fred had once been forced to wear an explosive shock collar. However, Fred’s salvation comes when Angel and his crew arrive in Pylea to find Cordelia Chase, who had become trapped there. It is notable that when Angel’s demon came fully to the fore, it attacked just about everyone but Fred – including Gunn and Wesley. Despite this shocking display of violence, Angel never seemed to scare Fred, and even at his most demonic, he never attacked her. In fact, her presence seemed to have a calming effect on him.

When Pylea is liberated, Fred accompanies Angel and the rest of the gang back to Los Angeles and stays in the Hyperion Hotel to re-adjust to life on Earth and regain her mental stability. Despite several traumatic instances, such as being held hostage by Gunn’s old vampire-hunting crew, she adjusts quite well to “normal” life.

“I lived in a cave for five years in a world where they killed my kind like cattle.”

I AM GONNA HAVE SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT, Y’ALL!

I thought you were a bitch.

Friday, June 8th, 2012

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On the season finale of 30 Rock, Kenneth Parcell redefined the term “bitch” in a way that tickled my vegan feminist funny bone. (Yes, vegans and feminists have funny bones too!)

“And to think I thought Hazel was a bitch. Friendly and loyal, like a well-trained female dog. She isn’t a bitch. She’s a meanie pants.”

30 Rock, “What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?” (Season 6, episode 22)

The part about being “well-trained” aside – ambitious and outspoken, bitches are anything but – I’d say that this is pretty spot on. Given that the observation comes from the “backward hick” character – famous for his nonsensical, fundamentalist Christian / quaint agrarian brand of “wisdom” – I’m not sure whether the audience is supposed agree. Whatever. Some of my best friends are bitches. Exhibit A: Mags, above, sunbathing on a copy of Bitch magazine.

On related note, this little tidbit from Texts from Last Night – re-purposed for Texts from the X-Files – also made me smile.

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For those who can’t view the image, it’s still of Dana Scully speaking to another woman; her back is turned to the camera, so I can’t identify her, but she’s a tallish brunette. The texts reads, “(716): I’d call her a cunt, but she doesn’t seem to have the depth or warmth.”

The moral of the story? Bitches and cunts are awesome.

The Soy Milk in the Ice Cream

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

purely decadent vegan ice cream on bones

Who watched last week’s episode of Bones? (7×09, “The Don’t In the Do” – available on Hulu!) Did you notice that one of the pints of ice cream that Bones and Booth were about to make sexy time with looked an awful lot like Purely Decadent by Turtle Mountain?

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It’s hard to be sure, since Fox was obvs being a bunch of poopyheads and purposefully not positioning the label so that it faced the audience – vegan companies just don’t have the advertising bucks of, say, a Chevy, which bought its own 90-second infomercial smack dab in the middle of the episode – but considering Emily Deschanel’s veganism, it’s plausible.

I nearly squealed with joy when I saw it. I JUST LOVE VEGAN ICE CREAM SO MUCH!

I get the same way about Wegmans brand products on The Office, since I used to work there. Wegmans, not Dunder Mifflin.

Book Review: Of Muscles and Men, Michael Cornelius, ed. (2011)

Friday, April 13th, 2012

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Ralphie prefers Jason Momoa’s Conan. “He’s dreamy!”
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Hey y’all! This post has zero to do with animal rights, but bear with me. I’m thinking about consolidating my other, mostly-unused blog, Smite Me! with V for Vegan to create one blog for (nearly) all of my writing. Maintaining two personal blogs, each for different but sometimes overlapping topics, just isn’t working for me. Anyway, you may see some non-AR posts pop up from time to time. For now that’ll mostly just mean more book reviews. Eventually I may also change domains, but I’m still thinking on it, experimenting and whatever.

Along these lines, I’ve already changed my twitter username, from @easyvegan to @vegandaemon. Vegan sraffies, holla!

So that’s what’s up. Hopefully you enjoy my writing no matter what it’s about, but hey. You’ve been warned!

 

By the Power of Grayskull!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

Aside from the early ‘80s Conan the Barbarian films (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the eponymous, loinclothed hero) and a few odd campy television shows (namely He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power, which I grew up on, as well as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which I’ve enjoyed as an adult), I’m not what you’d call a big fan of the sword and sandal genre. But when I spotted Of Muscles and Men: Essays on the Sword & Sandal Film in Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program, I decided to request a copy anyhow, since I highly enjoy critical pop culture studies and thought it would make for an interesting read.

To say that Of Muscles and Men veers toward the academic would be an understatement. In terms of accessibility, it’s much more similar in difficulty to, say, The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series or Investigating Cult TV than the more mainstream Smart Pop Books by BenBella (of which I own nearly half the available titles!). That said, some essays are more suitable for lay people than others – it really just depends on the author and his or her approach and writing style.

While most of the essays focus on the intersection of violence, sex, and/or gender in the peplum or sword and sandal genre – loosely defined as those films featuring a reluctantly heroic strongman, clad in sandals and/or a kilt and carrying a sword or other phallic weapon, and set some time in humanity’s ancient past – the authors nevertheless manage to touch upon a breadth of topics. Among my favorites are:

* Larry Shillock’s piece on Helen of Troy (the 2003 USA miniseries), an arguably feminist retelling of the Trojan War featuring Helen of Argon as the protagonist (“An Enduring Logic: Homer, Helen of Troy, and Narrative Mobility”);

* “Beefy Guys and Brawny Dolls: He-Man, the Masters of the Universe, and Gay Clone Culture,” in which editor Michael Cornelius parallels the development of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures and Filmation’s animated television show (the latter essentially being a marketing tool for the former) with the rise of gay clone culture in the 1980s; and

* the hilariously titled “’By Jupiter’s Cock!’ Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Video Games, and Camp Excess,” wherein David Simmons examines the influence of video games on the increasingly violent and stylized Fourth Wave peplum films of today (such as the STARZ original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, from which the interjection “By Jupiter’s cock!” originates).

I must admit to only skimming several of the twelve essays in this collection, either because they failed to hold my interest or contained so much jargon that I couldn’t easily decipher it all. Also disappointing is the lack of attention paid to those sword and sandal films and television shows starring female heroes: for example, the previously mentioned She-Ra: Princess of Power and Xena: Warrior Princess (both are mentioned in passing). Granted, Of Muscles and Men is ostensibly a collection about masculinity – “male protagonists as heroic, violent, fleshy, and, in the end, extremely useful” – but the presence of the occasional woman in such roles is a topic worth exploring, inasmuch as it challenges the role of “hero” or “strongman” as the exclusive province of men.

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(Crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

Frugal vegans really are extreme couponers!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Via vegansaurus, tonight’s episode of Extreme Couponing will feature a real live vegan couponer!
 


 
So cool! And timely!

Tune in to TLC tonight at 10PM (9 Central) to see how it’s done. If I’m not mistaken, this lady is saving up for some new ink, so I’m totally rooting for her.* Get ALL the vegan goodies for free!

* Upon seeing the abbreviated preview for tonight’s ep, I remember thinking, “Woman looks rad, but pffft, I bet she isn’t vegan.” Burn on me!
 
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This series is most likely not long in my Netflix queue.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Oh Eureka, how you confuse me.

One episode, you have a woman taking back her ex-husband and accepting his son as her own – even though, seven years earlier, he divorced AND SUBSEQUENTLY CLONED HER when she refused to relocate to Eureka for his job and further told him that she didn’t want to have children. (What remains unsaid is that he probably had to create several clones before he found one sufficiently amenable to his desires. What became of the others, I wonder?*)

The next, we meet a genius scientist who habitually subverts her desires to those of her (supposedly) slightly-more-genius husband, all for the greater good – only to discover that she’s the true intellectual superior in the relationship; he’s merely been stealing her ideas all along! (And their marriage is most likely an ongoing kidnapping/rape situation, built on his theft of her short-term memories…using a device he stole from someone else, to boot.)

So which is it – are you feminist-friendly, or not?

* You can call it “over-analyzing”; I consider it “taking a story line to its logical conclusion.”

Everyday Ironies*: It’s Alive!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

New photo series, y’all! (And by “series,” I mean that I have two entries in the queue, with nothing necessarily planned beyond that. So don’t get too excited, mkay.)

Earlier this month, while flipping through the DISH menu, I came upon the following listing:

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Some disgusting, bullshit speciesist programming called the “Northern Livestock Video Auction,” running on channel 219. The channel’s alphabetic code? “ALIVE.”

Apparently 219 is a shopping channel, described by DISH thusly: “American Auction Network-Live Shopping, Live Cattle Auctions, Informerical.”

How they chose the code “ALIVE” in relation to this channel – and its content – I know not; but the dissonance is so thick, I could cut it with…a steak knife.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 18: My Bloody Valentine

Friday, February 26th, 2010

A neon red-and-white sign declares: “My Bloody Valentine sells out.”
CC image via Penningtron on Flickr.
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Vegansaurus!: What creepy chefs do to get laid

Guest blogger Kristen looks at a Valentine’s Day article which highlights the foods that non-vegan chefs cook for their lovers. Surprise, surprise: many are animal-based, thus transforming the descriptions into an appalling spectacle of sex and death. The original article at Grub Street, for example, is decorated with a disgusting photo of scallops in an orange-and-green sauce/oil slick. Yuck.

Suicide Food: Happy Valentine’s Day: a digression

Just when you thought the butcher’s counter couldn’t get any more grotesque, behold: heart-shaped slabs of “meat”! I shit you not.

The Pursuit of Harpyness: Be A Bitch: To the New York Times Public Editor

In which Roman Polanski’s 13-year-old rape victim is likened to – wait for it – “quarry.” “Quarry” being another word for a hunted “game” animal.

The link above is to a complaint letter (good!) written in response to a piece which ran in The New York Times (bad!); you can read the original piece in its entirety here: Polanski’s Visions of Victimhood by Dennis Lim.

The Discerning Brute: Who Wears The Pants?

Joshua Katcher dissects a trailer for the upcoming documentary “An Emasculating Truth” – brought to you by, ahem, Dockers – which, surprise, is chock full of sexism and speciesism. In particular, the men appearing in the film advocate violence towards animals as an expression of one’s masculinity. Katcher ties this overt encouragement of violence with Levi’s own history of environmental and labor violence towards its employees and their families, many of them poor women of color.

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"I have always loved Harry’s ribs!"

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

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Caution: Spoilers ahead.

The second-to-last episode of CSI in 2009 featured a particularly animal-friendly plot line. I say “particularly” rather than “surprisingly” because CSI has a longstanding track record of treating animals and animal advocacy issues with a modicum of respect – a practice which stands in sharp contrast to similar crime shows like Law & Order. (See, for example, Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty? and Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist.)

Season 10, Episode 9 (Appendicitement) saw the CSI team investigating not one, but two separate murders, both of which occurred on the premises of a BBQ joint. Since IMDB has a decent writeup of the episode, I’ll let them take it away:

There are two twisty tales in Vegas tonight. Strike that, one in Vegas and one outside.

The first tale concerns lab tech Henry. Greg, Nick, and Hodges literally kidnap Henry on his birthday to take him to this great barbecue place up the road apiece called Harry’s Hog Hideout.* On the way there a crazy lady runs them off the road and the car rolls. Fortunately, none of them is seriously injured but Nick’s car is out of commission. With no cell service, they decide to walk the last little bit to Harry’s but, unfortunately, when they arrive they discover it’s been closed for seven months due to a Hepatitis outbreak. They decide to poke around and see if there’s a working phone inside.

Instead they find a dead body, a man with a raccoon attached to his face.

While Henry, disgruntled about his crummy birthday, hangs with the dead guy Hodges and Greg poke around outside. They figure out that the guy lured the raccoon to a nearby barrel and tried to kill him by filling the barrel with ethylene gas and blowing him up. The explosion threw the raccoon and the guy through the window of Harry’s. So it was an accident.

Meanwhile, Nick looks for a phone and it’s not working. He returns to the scene just as another guy shows up and pulls a gun on Henry. They make it clear that they’re cops and the guy, Slick explains that the dead guy was Gomez the cook at Harry’s, who was generally a good guy.

(Emphasis and asterisks mine, of course.)

Initially – and in breaking with the show’s usual treatment of such cases – the CSI investigators exhibit disappointingly little concern for the dead raccoon. Personally, I am lacking in sympathy for people who inadvertently blow themselves up while trying to lure a sentient being into a trap, only to torch him alive. Killing “nuisance” animals – especially when there are humane, catch-and-release options available – is bad enough; plotting to light them on fire while still alive and fully conscious is downright sadistic. Unfortunately, the CSI team doesn’t voice any of these thoughts – that is, until much later in the show.

Once the plot unfolds and the bodies are transported back to the lab, coroner David Phillips expresses grief at the raccoon’s demise. I can’t recall what exactly was said (nor did I think to save the episode on my DVR so that I might type up a transcript – doh!), but I believe that David muttered something about the human getting what he deserved and referred to the raccoon as an innocent bystander.

In other words, all is well in the Las Vegas crime lab!

Alas, we still have one body to account for…

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Stephen’s Sound Advice: "Invest in Gold, Women and Sheep." Also: A wet pork contest!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Oh, how the writers at The Colbert Report continue to warm my heathen vegan feminist cockles! (Dear mystery vegetarian/vegan on Stephen’s staff: Call me, mkay?)

Tuesday’s episode of The Colbert Report featured this hilarious send-up of Glenn Beck & Co.’s recent gold investment advertising-slash-infomercial media blitz. While the entire six-minute segment is amusing, gold obviously isn’t our primary focus here; no, the trenchant-as-hell bit starts at 4:15:
 

 
For those who aren’t card-carrying members of The Colbert Nation, allow me to set the bit up for you. “Prescott Financial” is a spinoff of “Prescott Pharmaceuticals,” a spoof company that “sponsors” a long-running segment on TCR, “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen Colbert, DFA.” In “Cheating Death,” Stephen reports on actual medical stories, which are then used to promote medical breakthrough products offered by Prescott Pharmaceuticals. Ridiculously fake medical breakthrough products, with equally ridiculous and fake side effects, that is.

Likewise, in this fake ad from Prescott Financial, spokesperson John Slattery recommends investing in gold as a safeguard against the coming apocalypse. While gold’s appeal may be “elemental” (A! U!), even this most precious metal’s value is limited. For example, you can’t eat gold. Thus, Slattery recommends rounding out your portfolio with women and sheep as well as gold doubloons and bricks.

Here’s a transcript of the “commercial,” for those who can’t view the video. (But if you can, you must!)

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Parks & Recreation: Because no camel is complete without an attractive lady with a hamburger for a head.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Caution: Minor spoilers after the jump!

As y’all have probably surmised, I watch no small amount of television. (More than I should, one might argue.) In particular, I’m always on the lookout for shows with progressive, pro-animal, pro-woman, pro-GLBTQ (etc.) themes – and Parks and Recreation is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites.

Like Bitch’s Kelsey Wallace, I’m tickled (not-pink!) by the feminist turn the show’s taken in Season 2. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is looking less and less like a womanly Michael Scott (read: a racist, sexist douchebag with a dwindling pool of redeeming qualities) and more like a goofy, less intellectually endowed version of Hillary Clinton. The walls of Ms. Knope’s office are decorated with framed snapshots of woman politicians (Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright – hey, what are political parties against the bond of sisterhood?); when judging a beauty pageant, she weighted the contestant’s brains above all else; and her accidental marriage of two male penguins at the Pawnee Zoo (I know, zoos, ugh!) scored her a gig as a guest DJ at the local gay club (though the penguins were sadly split up at episode’s end).

Season 2’s episode 9, “The Camel” – which aired the Thursday before last – was especially awesome. I’ve embedded the entire episode above, but the most awesomest of the awesomeness is all of 30 seconds long. Since the video will only be available on Hulu for a limited time, I’ve also taken screenshots so you latecomers can follow along.

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TONIGHT: Hit Fox Show Bones to Spotlight Farm Sanctuary Footage

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

I just spotted this notice from Farm Sanctuary in my inbox and thought I’d share. Tune in to Fox tonight at 8PM Eastern time, where the “darkly comic procedural drama”* Bones will feature undercover factory farm footage secured by Farm Sanctuary and specially requested by the show’s star – fellow vegan Emily Deschanel.

Alas, I won’t be watching. Though I adore Bones, I’m somewhat of a newbie fan, and am only halfway through Season 4 on DVD. Tonight’s episode will languish on my DVR until the Mr. and I catch up. So no spoilers, mkay?

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 4:04 PM
Subject: TONIGHT: Hit Fox Show “Bones” to Spotlight Farm Sanctuary Factory Farming Footage

Kelly,

Very exciting news! Tonight’s episode (8pm/7 Central) of the hit FOX show “Bones” will be spotlighting Farm Sanctuary footage of cruel factory farming practices. Please see below for full details. Make sure to tune in and please spread the word!

All the best,

Meredith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Farm Sanctuary Footage of Cruel Factory Farming Practices Spotlighted on Hit FOX TV Show “Bones”

NEW YORK, NY – November 5, 2009 – Tonight’s episode of the hit FOX television show “Bones” (airing at 8pm/7 Central), starring vegan actress and Farm Sanctuary supporter Emily Deschanel, will prominently feature factory farming footage secured by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, as part of a plot-line surrounding a murder that takes place at a chicken farm.

The footage, which was requested by Deschanel, will educate thousands of mainstream viewers about the cruel conditions animals are forced to endure on factory farms. The episode also features a character who rescues a pig and asks her coworkers for donations so that she can sponsor her at a sanctuary.

To further raise awareness of the horrors of factory farming, FOX is featuring a special message from Deschanel on their website (http://fox.com/bones/) urging people to support Farm Sanctuary by sponsoring an animal in need.

To learn more about “adopting” one of Farm Sanctuary’s rescued animals, please visit farmsanctuary.org.

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Odds & Ends: Flu Factories, Shelter "Pets" & JVM

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Here are a few links I’ve been sitting on for awhile. So much to discuss, so little time. Oh, the life of a B-list blogger!

In no particular order:

1. Flu Factories: Tracing the Origins of the Swine Flu Pandemic

Dr. Greger, whose Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching I reviewed several years back, was kind enough to send me a copy of his latest project, Flu Factories: Tracing the Origins of the Swine Flu Pandemic. Flu Factories is a one-hour presentation by Dr. Greger on the H1N1 influenza pandemic; it’s available for purchase on DVD, or for free viewing (in 40 parts!) on the HSUS’s website.

While I haven’t yet had a chance to view the entire video, if it’s anything like Bird Flu (and, judging from the chapter titles, there looks to be much crossover, particularly in the areas of biology and history), it’s bound to be both illuminating and terrifying. Although Dr. Greger doesn’t take an explicitly animal rights/vegan position in Bird Flu (nor do I know anything about his personal politics, his position at the HSUS notwithstanding), he does emphasize the role that factory farming – and, to a lesser extent, animal agriculture in general – plays in zoonotic diseases, including the influenza (avian and swine). If you can ignore the speciesism (e.g., in the quoted resources), it’s well worth a watch.

Embedded above is a clip from the presentation: Chapter 2, the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

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VeganMoFo, Day 21: Snack attack!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

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Many, many years ago – back when the show was still “innovative” and “popular” – a designer on TLC’s Trading Spaces pulled a grotesque and speciesist stunt. Genevieve (Gorder), tasked with redecorating a kitchen, created some “artwork” by raiding the family’s fridge in search of decomposing animal corpses, posing the “meat” products in various “comical” positions, and photographing and framing the result (“meat people”). Cue laugh track.

Granted, the bit was rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but to me, the utter pointlessness of Gorder’s actions made them that much more offensive. It’s bad enough that cows, pigs, chickens and other farmed animals suffered and died in order to feed humans who could just as easily subsist on a plant-based diet; worse still that their corpses were mocked, ridiculed, and then wasted further. (There’s no way that “meat” went back into the fridge after being handled under hot camera light for several hours.) It was enough to turn me – then an apolitical vegetarian – off of the show for good. I even fired off a few complain letters to TLC, Trading Spaces and Ms. Gorder herself. I’m still waiting on a reply.

Anyhow. My point in telling this story isn’t to rail against Trading Spaces, but to introduce today’s post – a vegan version of Gorder’s “meat people,” if you will. Fruit and vegetables make for darn shiny fun artwork! Mr. Potato Head is perhaps the most beloved human-vegetable hybrid – (Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to ask my mother if she still has my old family of Potato Heads; methinks they’d look cute on the mantle. But I digress.) – however, he’s only the beginning. There’s life on melon (and lettuce and tomato and eggplant), after all!

Halloween is coming, so it’s only natural that we start the exhibit seasonally, with some Great, big, beautiful pumpkins!

Pumpkin art runs the gamut, from crazy creepy smiley faces:

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Green Porno 3.0: Compassion is sexy!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

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Back in June, I raved about Green Porno, a subversive (and delightfully cheesy!) documentary series starring Isabella Rossellini (whom I’ve had a massive girl-crush on ever since her turn as Katya Derevko in Alias). Green Porno examines the sex lives of nonhuman animals – which, oftentimes, are far from “conventional.” To this end, the show has great potential to change how humans view “others”: women, homosexuals, transgendered persons, gender nonconformists – and even nonhuman animals.

To this, I’d like to add that, in addition to their anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-anti-sex thrust (pun most definitely intended), these shows are anti-speciesist as well.

While [the] disavowal of animal homosexuality and sexual variety serves to justify and reinforce “isms” directed at humans (homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc.), it at also functions at another level. In denying non-human animals the full range of their behavioral, emotional and sexual expression, we rob them of their complexity, their personality – for lack of a better term, their humanity.

Like us, non-human animals can be complicated creatures, driven by a range of goals and desires. Animals, humans included, aren’t just about reproduction; our sole purpose in life isn’t simply to spread our DNA and produce as much offspring as possible. Sometimes we have sex, mate and form bonds because it’s fulfilling in other ways. Nor do we only nurture and protect our own genetic material: sometimes we act with altruism and compassion rather than selfishness and narcissism.

By insisting that animals only copulate in order to introduce sperm to egg, we simplify trillions of sentient beings, taking from them characteristics which make them seem that much more human.

Ironically, in so doing, we also reduce the human species to a caricature, a boring, two-dimensional model which scarcely resembles h. spaiens, in all its diverse, eccentric, animalistic magnificence.

Watching animal sex play out amidst kindergarten construction paper cutouts and human-sized bodysuits, the viewer (hopefully) comes to see nonhumans as the unique individuals they really are. When one ceases to regard a group of beings as a single, undifferentiated mass of “stuff,” othering them – based on species, sex, sexuality, race, breed or whatnot – becomes a difficult, twisted task indeed.

Season 1 focused on bugs (spiders, flies, earthworms), Season 2 on ocean dwellers (barnacles, whales, starfish). Both Wiki and I had thought Season 3 would shift focus to farmed animals such as pigs and cows, but it looks Season 3 will continue to examine marine animals. In a subtle shift from Season 2, however, Rossellini’s attention turns to ocean dwellers whom we commonly kill and eat (and oftentimes “farm” as well).

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Stephen Colbert weighs in on Shark Week.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Okay, that’s it. I’m now convinced that there’s a vegan, vegetarian or animal advocate of some stripe on The Colbert Report payroll. This segment is just too spot on to have been written by an unrepentant speciesist.
 

 
In just three minutes, Colbert touches upon several important points:

1 – Sensationalist predator programming like “Shark Week” perpetuates the myth that many wild-living animals, including sharks, are dangerous creatures who are out to get us. They are to be feared – and also dominated, conquered and killed. It’s “us or them,” right?

2 – The Discovery Channel is doubly irresponsible in its demonization of species which are largely endangered.

3 – Promoting shark “conservation” during Shark Week commercial breaks? Batshit insanity! (Can I say that? Is “batshit insane” a speciesist phrase? Any vegan linguists in the house?)

4 – Humans pose a much greater threat to other humans than do sharks. In fact, humans pose the greatest threat to all life. We’re the ultimate monsters, yo.

5 – Mainstream media: FAIL.

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The Dangerous World of Butterflies: More dangerous for butterflies than for humans.

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

On Wednesday, journalist Peter Laufer appeared on The Daily Show in order to discuss his newest book, The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists. While the material might seem rather lighthearted – especially in comparison to his previous subjects, which include neo-Nazism, illegal immigration and the Iraq war – the illegal butterfly trade is nothing to scoff at, as he explains:
 

 
Naturally, even the so-called “butterfly huggers” (e.g., the North American Butterfly Association, the International Butterfly Breeders Association) view butterflies as a collection or a part of nature or ecology as opposed to the many individual beings that they are. Or, put another way, butterfly conservation is more about environmental protection than animal rights – or even welfare. Even so, The Dangerous World of Butterflies sounds like an interesting read, since butterfly collecting isn’t normally a “hobby” that’s equated with danger (nor are butterflies the first group of animals to come to mind when one thinks of wildlife “poaching”).

During the interview, Jon wonders why one might want to collect butterflies, due to their short life spans of a week or two. According to Wiki, this is a bit of a misconception:

It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and thereby survive winters.

Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.

Not that the butterfly’s life span really matters – for, as Laufer explains, it’s not the aim of collectors to house a population of living butterflies. Rather, collectors view butterflies as objects to be exhibited, much like artwork. In this way, the appeal of “owning” the corpse of a butterfly belonging to a protected or endangered species is much like that of owning a stolen piece of art.

As morbid as this attitude is, I’m not sure it’s all that different from that of butterfly conservations, who view their objects of admiration as pieces of a whole, cogs to be manipulated and controlled in order to achieve a desired result. A thousand Schaus Swallowtails, for example, aren’t significant as a thousand living beings, but as representatives of an endangered butterfly species. To conservationists, the beings are all interchangeable members of a species, much as their corpses are interchangeable pieces of valuables and artwork to poachers and collectors.

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Whale Wars, Season 2

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

…started last Friday on Animal Planet. (And yes, I’m way behind on my email, thanks for asking.)

I must admit to never watching Whale Wars; while, one the one hand, I recognize the need to support animal-friendly programming such as WW, I really can’t bring myself to watch the more graphic, gruesome stuff. I already know what a bloody, needless mess whaling is – no need to voluntarily witness footage of such, thus giving myself a week’s worth of nightmares.

That said, many thanks everyone who does tune in to these kind of shows, thus helping to keep them on the air!

Anyhow, Matt from Animal Planet provided links to several news season 2 Whale Wars videos on You Tube.

The Season 2 trailer is relatively blood-free, save for a brief shot of a whale being harpooned and pulled towards a whaling ship:
 


 

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