Conversational Items

Diana Nyad

Conversational item #1: At age 64 Diana Nyad is the first swimmer to cross the Florida Straits without a shark cage. Yikes. But wow. Nyad swam for 53 hours from Havana to Key West. Wow again. An incredible feat for any human being, and an inspiration to all but especially inspirational for women and Baby Boomers. Nyad has been trying and failing to cross the Strait for 35 years, and yesterday she finally succeeded. Where there’s a will there’s a way.



Conversational item #2: Diana Nyad proves that women can achieve Xtreme feats, but perhaps women aren’t so suited for more refined matters – like conducting an orchestra. Or so thinks Vasily Petrenko:

The principal conductor of the National Youth Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has provoked outrage by claiming that orchestras “react better when they have a man in front of them” and that a “cute girl on a podium means that musicians will think about other things”.

When conducted by a man, musicians encounter fewer erotic distractions, Vasily Petrenko claimed. “Musicians will have less sexual energy and can focus more on the music,” he said, adding that “when women have families, it becomes difficult to be as dedicated as is demanded in the business.”

Oh my. Thoughts anyone?


Conversational item #3  from Twisted Sifter’s brief but fascinating glimpse at patriarchy and gender roles in Albania where women sometimes live as men. History is replete with examples of women disguising themselves as men for various purposes, but traditions like the burrnesha are particularly fascinating in that these women aren’t individual “deviants” defying a patriarchal system. Rather, the burrnesha would seem to represent thorough patriarchal immersion.

Conversational item #4 – boys and the color pink. This piece, Raising my gender creative son was just posted by Salon today, and I thought it would be a good topic for discussion. The article is written by Lori Duron and adapted from her book, Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son, released today.

Reading Duron’s excerpt reminded me of Katie Vykoriah’s experience last month at her nearby WalMart. The mere sight of her son wearing a favorite pink headband so provoked the ire of one narrow-minded hick that he actually pulled the headband off the child’s head and cuffed him. Unbelievable. There’s quite a bit to discuss in Vykoriah’s account; here’s an excerpt of the incident:

He rocked that headband.

Soon enough, we were done with our shop and were making our way toward the front. As we passed through the produce section, two teenage girls began giggling and one of them asked, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I smiled and said, “He’s a boy.” I looked on at him adoringly as they continued to giggle.

Out of nowhere a big booming voice rang out. “THAT’S a BOY?!” The man was overly large with a bushy beard and a camouflage shirt with the arms cut off. He had tattered shorts and lace-up work boots with no laces. I could smell the fug of cigarette smoke surrounding him, and there was a definite pong of beer on him.

“Yes,” I said simply, still smiling.

With no notice, the man stepped forward, grabbed the headband off of Dexter’s head and threw it to the bottom of our shopping cart. He then cuffed Dexter around the side of his head (not hard, but that is not the point) and said with a big laugh, “You’ll thank me later, little man!”

Lastly, conversational item #5, though the conversation might not happen on this thread, but a conversational item to be sure…. If you get the opportunity to see the independent film entitled The Mooring released by In House Media this past February by all means do. It’s a horror film, but with more subtext than your average run-of-the-mill-screeching-teenagers flick. The subtext relates to the conversational topics in this post. The performances were brilliant, the screenplay, the production cast and the production itself all extremely impressive. I was pleased to find a production company that can fathom horror without gore in favor of “intelligent suspense.”  If horror’s not your thing,  definitely don’t see it. If horror is within your genre range, The Mooring should be easy to find;  I found it at the library.

Here’s a link to In House Media:

In House Media, Inc

A word on the trailer – it isn’t an accurate synopsis of the film, and must have been a distributor decision (Lion’s Gate); disregard it so your expectations aren’t sullied.



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3 thoughts on “Conversational Items

  1. Thanks for sharing these.

    I’m particularly impressed by Diana Nyad’s accomplishment, because it proves that age is just a number and that if at first you don’t succeed, you should just keep trying.

  2. I thought Nyad’s swim was amazing too. 64 years old, I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know much about her or her career, but when I read she was trying to accomplish that swim for 35 years I have to admit I was kind of stopped in my tracks. I admire her dedication especially against her obstacles – squalls, sharks, toxic jellyfish… an extraordinary feat. I hope her story inspires others not to give up or be dissuaded no matter their endeavor.

  3. Lori Duron’s husband wrote an absolutely awesome editorial for the Atlantic.

    An incredible passage:

    “I’m a father. I signed on for the job with no strings attached, no caveats, no conditions. I can name every Disney Princess and her movie of origin. I’ve painted my son’s nails and rushed to remove it when he was afraid that he would get teased for wearing it. I didn’t want to remove it, I wanted to follow him around and stare down anybody who even thought about teasing him. I only removed it because he started to have a panic attack. It was his decision and if he wants to edit himself to feel safer, I’ll do it. Every time. No questions asked.”

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