Tuesday, December 17, 2013

everywhere you look…

there's a heart (theres a heart), a hand to hold on tooooooo…

that is the chorus from the theme song from Full House! remember? there weren't a lot of tv shows i enjoyed as a kid. but Full House was one that I waited for every day after school.

and that's why i was so star struck when the other night at a friends' work holiday party i saw Teddy, michelle's best friend, from Full House.

his real name is Tahj, and he was the nicest, and most fun person, ever. he and his date and me and my friend wesley spent time in the dysfunctional Photo Booth trying to capture a good one, but because it wasn't working properly the best we got is below, ha.

but here is another pic, i think we were going for sultry? anyways, he's done tons of acting since Full House, but it was like starring into my childhood hanging out with him. so fun. just another perk to living in LA.

wes, mere, aj, tahj


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

retraction of history

last week, a newspaper in Pennsylvania printed a retraction of an opinion piece, which was written on November 24th, 1863, about a week after President Lincoln delivered the now hallowed Gettysburg Address. this opinion piece called Lincoln's remarks "silly" and essentially not worth the attention of a full review (see image below).


in the retraction last week, the paper suggested the dismissal of the speech by the editorial writer was likely due to partisan opposition to Lincoln. or perhaps he was drunk, they say. in any event, the paper goes on to write that "in the fullness of times" they realize the editorial was wrong, and should be official retracted.

when i heard about this story i laughed a little, because in my presidency course i butted heads with a student recently when i described Obama's 2004 DNC speech (below) as the greatest speech ever.

while i was being somewhat hyperbolic when i said it was the greatest speech ever (and this was clear in my delivery) i did mean to acknowledge the speech as a great one. but my fawning over the speech prompted one of my students to object, and say that he had been reading lincoln's speeches in a course he was currently taking, and Obama's 2004 speech did not compare to Lincolns' speeches, or his general oratory skill. my student was almost offended that i would suggest obama's 2004 speech was better than any of lincoln's.

given the reverence we give the Gettysburg Address today, its hard to believe that anyone could have ever dismissed it. yet im certain that just as criticism follows great presidential speeches today, namely by the opposition party, the same was true in the 1800s. it will be interesting to see how history remembers obama and his speeches, years and years from now.

 in any event, i was reminded of the discussion in my class about speeches after seeing SNL spoof the 1863 editorial criticizing Lincoln's famous address. you just have to watch:

Monday, November 11, 2013



it was so easy and so good. but i like chunky hummus. the stuff you buy in the store almost always is made with peeled chick peas. i like chunky hummus, which is great--that kind of hummus is easier to make.

1 can of chick peas
2 tablespoons of light olive oil
2 teaspoons cummin
1 teaspoon sea salt

blend in a food processor VROOM!! add chick pea water, until consistency desired is reached.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Going Public

"going public" is a political science concept used to describe the instances when a US president speaks directly to his constituents about an issue,and asks them to support a particular position as a means of bypassing the congress to pass a bill. in other words, going public is a presidential strategy for getting something passed, used most commonly when congress is gridlocked or unwilling to compromise.

a convergence of 2 phenomena have made it so this current president has gone public more than any other before him. these phenomena are situational, such as 1. a hyper-divded congress and 2. technological, such as advances in mass communication that open up a slew of avenues for the president to directly contact constituents. im going to skip over the divided/gridlocked congress and focus on the second phenomenon--technology.

before the 1940s, instances of "going public" were rare. the most common form was as formal public addresses, such as state of the union addresses, or inaugural addresses. when FDR started giving "fire side chats," which were radio addresses to the public, the concept of "going public" as a means of directly contacting constituents with a message was revolutionary. few presidents had done so as fervently, and with such geographic reach, as FDR with the fireside chats.

the timidity of other presidents to go public reflected what was an established environment in Washington for getting support for policies, and bills passed; this was an environment of seniority, reciprocity, and bargaining. if these norms were violated, the established environment would fail to function properly.

yet the "old" environment is now just that--old. and going public is now more definitely the norm, ushered in by particular presidents' and their preferences for working with the public, and getting public support, and, yes, technology.

first, a president's personality needs to be of the type that is willing and able to "go public." but second, the technology has to be available. before FDR, presidents may have been able to speak directly with the public (andrew jackson, for example, is notorious for being the "people's president"), but without the vehicle to transport the message, it was impossible.

speaking of vehicles, literally, transportation has also made going public increasingly more popular. the ease with which trains, and now airplanes, are able to move presidents around enables them to go public more often, and informally, with public appearances or political travel.

beyond transportation, advances in mass communication have made it more and more possible for presidents to bring their messages directly to the public. in the 1950s only 9 percent of homes had televisions. By 1960, when Kennedy and Nixon famously took part in the first televised presidential debates, over 85 percent of households had televisions.

not only do more homes have televisions today, but they also have more channels and choices. this can actually work against presidents or presidential candidates who want to bring their messages to the public. while in the 70s and 80s, the major broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) all agreed to clear the airwaves for a presidential message, debate, or nominating convention, the broadcast networks are less likely to do so now, because they know they will lose politically uninterested viewers to the cable channels.

to combat the changing dynamics of tv networks and increases in viewer options, presidents and presidential candidates of the modern era now routinely take to entertainment television talk shows to bring their messages to the people. when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton went on the Arsenio Hall Show to play the saxophone, that a presidential candidate would appear on an entertainment talk show to connect with viewers was novel and radical (radical dude!).

now presidents and presidential candidates routinely appear on cable entertainment news shows. stephen colbert, for example, is not shy to mention how an appearance on his show elicits the "colbert bump" which describes the bump in popularity a person/band/movie receives after an appearance on his show. i remember watching Mike Huckabee on the Colbert Report--he was very funny, personable--it worked! i was wooed! even today i still have some warm feelings toward the man that stem from that lighthearted and fun interview.

but beyond tv appearances on broadcast and cable, new media has enabled presidents to contact constituents directly, and often. Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are all viable forms of communication for presidents to contact their constituents. President Obama has a weekly Youtube Address where he broadcasts a new message each week, almost always faulting congress for something, and asking constituents to contact their representative with a message in support of the president's plans.

the underlying assumption that is made by presidents, i presume, is that going public actually works and has an effect. this brings to mind some of the scholarship i've read (though i need to update myself on it) by Matthew Baum, professor of political science at Harvard. much of his research is on the affects of "soft news," which is defined as entertainment news shows' political coverage, which rarely focuses on the "hard" substance of politics. the audiences that watch entertainment televisions shows are usually younger, more likely to be female, and slightly more liberal--though largely uninterested in politics. Baum finds that appearances by politicians on these shows can actually have a positive effect, especially on individuals who are less aware, politically, over all. this is because with little else to base their opinion on, a usually friendly, happy appearance by a politician on a show like Kelly and Michael Live!, will leave a viewer with a positive one. less affected are those ho are more political aware, and more ideological. but if candidate want to find those who are uninterested, and less likely to vote, and try and turn them out? entertainment tv shows are a good place to start.

pretty soon we will start to see Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls showing up on our tv screens, and tweeting more often, as a sure sign that campaign season is upon us. the upcoming election will feature 2 open seats, and so a myriad of candidates from both parties will be throwing in their hats. i hope they can at least wait until after the next midterm election, although i do find presidential campaigns to be majorly entertaining.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

the new work digs

i have now been a full-fledged member of the academic community at CSUSB for just over a month, and things are going great.

i am teaching The Presidency course 2 days a week, and otherwise working on a book.! i've heard from a number of academics, especially in my field (political science) that a book is not a requirement, especially if one is able to publish in good journals, but its always been a goal of mine to write a book, and the topic of interest (gender and the American presidency) isn't going to get any hotter than it is now, in the lead up to what may be the first competitive female nomination by a major party (TBD). more on that in future posts.

but i thought i'd showcasing my new campus digs, where i spend at least half of my week! it truly is a beautiful university, and i am so happy to be in southern california (it was 90 degrees today!).

this was taken on a Friday, when the campus is pretty quiet. that white building in the back is my college's home--the college of social and behavioral sciences

in my office, making the disappointed face as i realize i need a lot more books to fill my shelves and be truly professorial! 

faculty id card! and i dont look like a serial killer, SUCCESS! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

be awesome!

just what i need to get me excited for the new school year. THANKS kid president!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

local natives

alright, in the interest of a quick post so as to appease any friends and family wondering if i have given up on this blog (i havent) i want to do a quick post about a concert i went to last night, at The Greek, in Los Angeles.

the band is Local Natives, and i must admit i had only heard OF them (bc my friends are music snobs) but never actually heard their stuff. but when a friend offered to get my ticket i said OKAY SURE! now that i live far from LA proper i will take any opportunity to go back and visit.

the band members are California natives, and newly popular, and so this show was really special for them.. it was their biggest venue yet, and it front of friends and family that helped them get to where they are now. it was actually really touching.. they kept thanking the crowd, and were oh so humble, which is a characteristic i like in my celebs.

their music is strange for those accustomed to top 40 (me), but i loved it.

we had front row seats, so we got some awesome photos. it's amazing what can be done with smoke and lights (and mirrors??). here are some of my favorites.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four refers to a custom in the United States Supreme Court, which allows four justices to grant a writ of certiorari--which is judicial review. have you never seen that (terribly old) film Gideon's Trumpet?! I actually heard a new version might be in the works. I'd love it! New political films make this political science professor very happy.

But thats not my Rule of Four. My Rule of Four refers to successful sitcoms on TV, which I have been doing a lot of this summer. And something I have noticed is that the magic number in successful shows may in fact be 4; four main characters, each positively distinct in temperment and demeanor, so much so that in retrospect the general public may even be able to decipher the behaviors of their friends by refering to them as "the Carrie" of the group, or (gasp), the "Samantha. Certainly, sitcoms have seen huge success with more than 4 main characters (Cheers, Friends, Greys Anatomy, Parks and Rec) and fewer than 4 (Three's Company, X-Files, Breaking Bad), but regardless, 4 seems to be a consistent and ESPECIALLY winning combination. All of these shows were on air for quite a long time. And here are the one's I've recalled:

Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Are you an Elaine, Jerry, George, or Kramer? George was consistently my favorite; Kramer drove me nuts! I just would never be able to tolerate someone like that in my life, ha. But I probably identify most with Elaine, right? But not just because she's the only female.

Sex and the City (1998-2004)

Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, or Miranda? I didn't watch this show when it was on the air, but I've caught a few seasons here and there, since the reruns are a staple of cable TV. I have no idea which one of these ladies I identify with. In the end they all needed a man to be happy, and plenty of feminists have criticized the show for being anti-feminist. ha. well. whatever, it still fits my rule of four!

Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)

this is one of my most favorite shows of all time. And I'm definitely the Susan of the bunch--a clumsy, naive, volvo driving mama. but im not a mama.

Southpark (1997-Current)

This is a foursome I find irresistible. I love this show. I hope it never ends.

I Love Lucy (1951-1960)

My mom's favorite

The New Girl (2011-Current)

MY favorite. find me a girl that doesnt want to be bffs with Zoey. This one hasn't been able to prove itself, yet. but i think it will last quite a while. I hope so, anyways. Its the best.

The Golden Girls (1985-1992)


Married with Children (1987-1997)

We weren't allowed to watch this trash, when I was a kid, haaa!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (forever!)

I'm sure I missed some. Let me know!

Friday, June 28, 2013

life update

i did it again! a lapse in posts! MY POOR AVID READERS.

i prefer to write longer posts about specific things (political events, kanye west) but im going to do another photo dump and life update for those interested parties.  and i know that my punctuation and capitalization is inconsistent throughout, deal wit it.

May was a bust month. i finished up at Chapman U. and officially started my summer. this is me with 2 of my students, out to dinner to celebrate our senior, nataja, on the right.

Matt came to visit and we did all the things you can do in newport beach. well, lots of things. we went paddle boarding, to downtown disney, where i owned the boxing game and saw comedian Chris Delia at the Irvine Improv. i would recommend his stand up to anyone. HILARIOUS. he's insane. but in a funny way.

bound for balboa and paddle boarding

Rhyll and Brandon, good friends of mine from Huntington Beach days, got hitched in May, and it was awesome to see all my old friends, and have us all together again. it was such a fun night.

My mom came to town, in June for about a week. From cloudy Idaho, unfortunately, to a somewhat cloudy Newport Beach.

My best friend since we were 10, Sara, a MD in Seattle, is about to move to a Native American Reservation in New Mexico, so I went to see her in Seattle to send her off! We didn't even deliberately visit the iconic gum wall, but i thought it would be a good (albeit disgusting) photo backdrop. Sara is on the right. Tabrina in the middle is also our friend from Idaho, now living in Seattle.

Gum Wall, Seattle, WA
Almost done! But I can't ignore that my closest friend here in Orange County moved this week, to SLC Utah. Its so sad!!! But we had a great party to wish her farewell. She's the blonde in the center getting mauled with love.
miss you, Ashlee! 
Last, I went to some Whittier College friends' new place in Long Beach and met their little pup, Hadley, incidentally a street that we used to cross daily while at Whittier. Cute name! Amazing pup. My face is pure joy! the lil girl was attacking me with puppy kisses.

Alright! update complete. July is upon us, and my summer vacation is underway. I'll update more often, I promise for reals this time. xoxo gg

Friday, March 22, 2013

jt and jimmy fallon

i love justin timberlake. i remember in college he was my laptop screen saver. what can i say, i've always had good taste.

this video of him and jimmy fallon as kids at summer camp KILLS me. i have to share it, in case you haven't seen it, yet

Sunday, February 24, 2013

the feminism mystique

in 1963, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, which drew attention to the lives of mostly suburban women, many of whom were unhappy despite being financially secure, and married with children. the book most notably suggests that those women might have been unhappy because they were not fulfilled by being solely housewives and mothers.

The Feminine Mystique is widely credited for sparking the 2nd wave of feminism, which lasted through the 1980s. The second wave, while incredibly complex, can be boiled down to efforts to achieve gender parity in the work force, and in the home. up against insurmountable opposition, this movement spawned the Equal Rights Amendment, Title XI, and Roe v. Wade. in 1982 the ERA expired, today Title XI still comes under fire, and Roe v. Wade is anything but secure, 40 years later.

another unintended consequence of the movement, that still lingers, has been contempt for the concept of "feminism." certainly the 2nd wave focused on changing the status quo, primarily through legal channels; that status quo being that women could only contribute to the private sphere of home and family. yet a call for a change in the status quo was not to suggest that home and family were/are less fulfilling than the public sphere of work and politics, etc. merely, it was to enable women the same opportunities afforded to men, if they should choose to have a career.

confusion surrounding the idea feminism has been present, long before the second wave. in 1913, journalist Rebecca West said, "I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiment that differentiates me from a doormat or a prostitute." i have also heard my own friends reject the idea of being a feminist, under the assumption that feminism is a synonym for man-hater, butch, or anti-feminine.

in fact, feminism is none of those things. feminism is instead a belief in equality, defined not as sameness, but rather as opposition to ranking one sex as superior or inferior to the other. thus, feminism is the recognition of differences in men and women, but the categorical rejection that those differences merit hierarchy. it does not reject gender differences, but instead it rejects the assumption of prescribed gender roles. thus, when you reject feminism off-hand, you accept the idea that what makes you different as a female also makes you inferior.

as i almost always eventually conclude, the media certainly deserve some of the blame not only for the misconceptions surrounding feminism, but also those surrounding society's narrow notions of what it means to be feminine. recently, my mentor, friend, and colleague, Dr. Caroline Heldman, along with Condoleezza Rice, Jane Fonda, Katie Couric, Cory Booker, and hosts of others, contributed to an important film entitled Miss Representation, which brings the criticism of the media's role center stage. this film highlights the media's limited portrayal of women, and details the psychological, social, physical and political consequences. the 2 minute trailer is below, and you should watch it. the trailer, and then the film (which you can rent on Amazon for 3.99).

the meaning of womanhood is diverse, and feminism does not reject more traditional notions, as many people believe. instead, it accepts the differences between men and women, and among different women, to suggest the differences do not limit us, or determine our value or contribution to society.

Friday, February 15, 2013


over Martin Luther King Jr weekend I went to Vegas with some friends from Newport Beach and Salt Lake CIty, UT. The birthday girl put together this cute video. True to form, I act pretty stupid in said video, but its too cute to not share.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013. whoa!

so its 2013. this post marks the longest gap in my blog posts, to date. forgive me, avid readers (dad).

the last 2 months have been the worst. as i've complained about here, before, i was teaching four different classes at 3 different universities, and after thanksgiving it was crunch time for grading, and thus what little was left of my recreational life, was goodbyeeeee.

then it was the holidays, and i know people love the holidays, but i just hate the holidays. i love seeing my family, and had a great time doing so, so that is a plus! but i hate the travel, the shopping, the gifting, the traffic and the merriment (lol jk) associated with them.

my time at home was short, but way fun. we spent a few nights putting together old lego models! that really makes me (kind of) like the holidays, more.

After christmas it was straight to Orlando for a conference, where I presented a paper for a book chapter that I have been working on, in what little free time i had. i was in Orlando barely 2 days, but thought it was cool! i stayed at the coolest hotel, the Peabody, which is unexplainably obsessed with ducks, and even has a duck march everyday, when wild ducks march out on a red carpet to an indoor fountain designed specifically for them to play in. HILARIOUS. im a big fan of ducks, now.

quack attack.

as soon as the conference ended i shuffled myself home for a few days of interview prep for a tenure track job interview at Cal State San Bernardino, and then just as quickly started the winter semester at Cal Poly Pomona, where I am an adjunct professor. 

the interview at Cal State San Bernardino went really well. I was pleasantly surprised by the campus, the community, the students and the university administration and support. I got along with the dean so well! it was a good experience. 

turns out, contrary to my previous post, there are not a lot of cows in San Bernardino. 

anyways, i got a call from them last weekend, offering me a job! i felt a lot of emotions. first, relief. as is probably made clear in the majority of my posts, being an adjunct professor is so so trying. ive only had to do it 1 semester (and now 1 more), but it has worn me down, so bad. the commute is obviously hard, as is teaching more than 3 classes. but so is dealing with different student cultures, administrative staff, and online grading/emailing/attendance software/programs. i am RELIEVED that this experience will be the exception of my professorial career, instead of the rule. next i felt joy! there is so much more i can accomplish career-wise, as a tenure faculty professor. there is stability, and resources, and status, and balance, because you are expected not only to teach (as adjuncts are responsible for doing) but also to do research, and publish (which departments do not support for adjuncts). so i can now make time for not only my teaching ambitions, but also my research agenda which has been on the back burner since my graduation. last, im really happy i will get to stay in southern california. I know most of my LA friends will bemoan the san bernardino valley as hardly so cal, but i am ecstatic. i'll still be able to visit my friends who live closer to the coast, while having a job that will afford me a few luxuries (like a frontloading washer/dryer?!?! a gal can dream). 

 oh, i still have only 2 cats, because its possible a few readers were worried i had added more. here they are, cute as ever. 

cat stack.
alright, well this should about catch this blog up on my life. ill be back to more frequent posts, now, so dont be a stranger. 

xoxo mere