Think Before You Pink 2014

It is October, and so as I do every October it is time for me to talk to you about Breast Cancer Action and their Think Before You Pink campaign. While it seems the whole United States goes crazy with pink ribbon madness, Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign exists as a brazen counterpoint; arguing for more transparency from breast cancer charities and fighting against pinkwashers. (A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.)

This year it appears they have decided to hand pick a few choice examples to pursue with their Stop the Distraction campaign: (from their email campaign)

• The NFL is spreading misinformation about breast cancer by repeating disproven and misleading advice about mammography screening in their “Crucial Catch” campaign.

• Kohls’ recent “Pink Elephant in the Room” promotion was outrageous profiteering; it exploited concern for women affected by breast cancer to make millions for the company.

• Alhambra Water is pinkwashing by selling plastic polycarbonate water bottles which contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to breast cancer.

• NASCAR is selling breast cancer awareness t-shirts that say “Check Your Headlights” which degrade women by objectifying and sexualizing women’s breasts and bodies.

• Hooters’ breast cancer campaigns obscure the harsh reality of breast cancer by promoting a story of triumphant survivorship based on positive thinking, beauty tips, and sanitized, carefully chosen images of women.

• Oriental Trading is spreading empty awareness via its endless supply of plastic pink ribbon trinkets – the company pockets all the money from these sales!

Years and years ago, the former executive director of Breast Cancer Action, Barbara Brenner said something that at the time seemed odd and always stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing here, but it was essentially that the reason breast cancer “awareness” has taken off like it has is because sex sells. At the time I was like, that’s stupid there is nothing sexy about breast cancer. (This was before I realized what a total bad ass she was and that she only dropped the realest of knowledge.) However I get what she meant now.

There are a bazillion diseases and chronic debilitating conditions. Where are their month long, ribbon-a-tastic ticker tape parades? They ALL have awareness ribbons, because goodness knows everything does. They all have their own awareness months. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease. Too apples and oranges for you? How about something a little more comparable then? What about cervical cancer? It’s actually a cancer. It’s even a cancer that affects women. Yet it has no month long, awareness raising party. Why no love for these guys?

Because sex sells. What’s sexy about some elderly, forgetful person? What product or company wants to be associated with that? When I think Kohl’s, I think of the elderly. (They usually forgot their Kohl’s cash at home! Cheap joke, but I never claimed to be classy.) Okay smart ass, what about cervical cancer? Can’t have sex without, well, you know. However you can’t really package and sell a cervix. (Don’t tell that to AdamandEve.com) What I mean is, most companies or products don’t want to be associated with what’s between a woman’s legs. Just ask most conservative, Republican, and/or Evangelicals, what’s between a woman’s legs is filthy at best, and a ticking time bomb to damnation at worst. NO ONE WANTS THAT.

That’s leaves us with breasts. Women’s breasts. Perky, bouncy breasts. Breasts have fun names like ta-tas, boobies, headlights, etc., that you can say in public and more importantly….put on t-shirts. Breasts you can stuff into tight Hooters shirts for ad campaigns. Breasts are beautiful, fun, and sexy. What product or company wouldn’t want to be associated with that? And the best part, the very best part, is that all you need to do to capture just a tiny bit of that lighting in a bottle is to put a pink ribbon on whatever it is your company sells. It’s for a good cause you know.

Breast Cancer Action claims much of this is degrading to women. I don’t. I think it’s a lot of people counting on consumers being easily manipulated, and once I saw it, I can’t help but see it everywhere.

This year Breast Cancer Action is asking these companies to Stop the Distraction. To learn more, visit their Think Before You Pink website. Click here to learn more about Breast Cancer Action.

Think Before You Pink 2013

Here it is again, another October. Instead of stores being a sea of orange and black for Halloween they’re flooded with pink. Pink scissors, pink watches, pink hats, pink cameras, pink candy, of course pink ribbons, and so much more.

Each year I encourage you to take action and Think Before You Pink, and this year is no different. First, please consider donating to a great breast cancer charity like Breast Cancer Action. They take no donations from corporations that contribute to or profit from breast cancer. This way I know they’re beholden to no one when issuing statements of findings or when making calls to action. I donate to them every October. See:

Dear Rebecca,

Breast Cancer Action is deeply grateful for your generous online donation of $25 dated September 29, 2013. Thank you so much for your commitment to women’s health.

With your support, we will continue to:

• Put Patients First by ensuring that the FDA advances the needs of people over those of the pharmaceutical industry.

• Create Healthy Environments by reducing the involuntary environmental exposures that contribute to the breast cancer epidemic.

• Eliminate Social Inequities by creating awareness of the social injustices, rather than just genetics or personal decisions, that lead to inequities in breast cancer incidence and outcomes.

For the past 21 years, we’ve created a better world for those affected by breast cancer and, with your help, we’ll continue this important work. We are in the unique position to do this because we are one of the only national breast cancer organizations that refuses funding from corporations that profit from or contribute to cancer. This means that over 75% of our support comes from individuals just like you. We are deeply grateful.

Sincerely,

Karuna Jaggar
Executive Director

Second, you can watch the movie “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”. It’s available for streaming on Netflix.

“Who really benefits from the pink ribbon campaigns: the cause or the company? In showing the real story of breast cancer and the lives of those who fight it, this film reveals the co-opting of what marketing experts have labeled a ‘dream cause.’”

You can also get in touch with Breast Cancer Action about setting up a screening.

Lastly, I am SO fed up with “pink October” that in protest I have decided that I will wear absolutely NO PINK the entire month of October. And before you think this is a simple thing, I made a video showing you guys everything I’ll be giving up.

Not so easy, is it. If you feel like me, ditch your pink. Breast cancer has enough “awareness” what it really needs is money for research and support for the women and men dealing with this disease.

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2013

Well here it is again, another International Talk Like a Pirate Day. A day of significance for those of the Pastafarian faith, but also a day of fun and hijinks for both young and old alike to break out their best pirate swaggers.

The day is also celebrated with rum….

Most of you may be aware that I’m rather fond of rum.

So in honor of this special day, and my love of rum, I’m going to share with you a rum cocktail I made up all by myself. The Civilized Pirate.

What Can You Say When Your Hero Dies?

What can you say when your hero dies?

For most of my life my female heroes were fictional. Seriously. Right into adulthood. I don’t know if it showed a lack of worldliness on my part (it probably did), but I’m a product of equal parts movie, television, and comic book women. However all of that changed when I saw the “Cancer” episode of “Penn & Teller’s Bullshit”.

That episode featured a woman named Barbara Brenner who represented an organization called Breast Cancer Action. She was bold, witty, and really didn’t seemed to care that she was on television. You could tell that what she was saying, she would say whether the camera was on or off. That got me to investigate Breast Cancer Action.

Those of you who have read this site for a while know what happened, I became a vocal supporter of the organization. Every October I highlight Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign and I also will occasionally post about other important work that they’re doing. This is all because of Barbara Brenner, who became my first real life female hero. Because of her Breast Cancer Action’s work was above reproach and they are able to speak truth to power.

Brenner, already having overcome breast cancer, left Breast Cancer Action in 2010 after being diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Even when she lost the ability to talk, she used text to speech software so her voice could be heard. She quickly became a known figure in the ALS activist community and still stayed involved to a certain extent with breast cancer issues as well. She started her own blog “Healthy Barbs” where she discussed her challenges.

Barbara Brenner passed away on May 10, 2013. And again, and again, I found myself asking, what can you say when your hero dies? Then at once I knew.

It’s only when a hero dies, that they can become a legend.

If you wish to honor Barbara Brenner and all the good that she stood for, she asked that in lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Barbara Brenner Rapid Response Fund at Breast Cancer Action.

If you want to learn more about Barbara Brenner, here are a couple of wonderful tributes:

http://bcaction.org/2013/05/11/in-memoriam-barbara-a-brenner-1951-2013/

http://breastcancerconsortium.net/in-honor-and-memory-of-barbara-brenner/

Does American Dad Reflect America?

“But you told me we hate the gays,” Steve questions.

“That was, A, before I knew they came in Republican form, and, B, before they cut and styled my hair,” replies Stan.

Since the Supreme Court decided to do a big ol’ cannonball right into the gay marriage issue it does seem that everywhere I turn I see “gay”. My email is hitting borderline abuse proportions from the Human Right Campaign, NYCLU, and the ACLU. The online news sites that I read have obviously been keeping the coverage front and center, and of course the pundit shows I watch are following it closely and so in turn I am too. However when I flopped down on the sofa to veg out and told Netflix to go ahead and play the next episode of “American Dad” I couldn’t help but laugh to the universe when the episode “Lincoln Lover” started playing.

For those unfamiliar with the series or this episode, Stan (who is the “American Dad”) is not selected by his local chapter of the Conservative Republicans, to speak at the Republican National Convention. After watching a pretentious surrealist play about Abraham Lincoln, he decides to write and perform his own play about the first Republican president, to return to the original values of the Republican party. Stan’s play, a one-man show entitled “Lincoln Lover”, depicts a very close relationship between Lincoln and his most trusted guard, Captain David Derickson. The play becomes successful as many gay men come to watch, though Stan (who wrote the play based on Derickson’s notes) apparently does not notice the homosexual overtones of his play. The Log Cabin Republicans invite him to speak at the convention; however, it is not until during a Log Cabin Republican party that Stan realizes its members are gay. He is won over by an elaborate musical number and begins acting more like a stereotypical homosexual male. Further hijinks ensue. (A slightly modified and partial summary from Wikipedia. I don’t want to give the whole episode away if you haven’t seen it!)

What’s I find interesting about “Lincoln Lover” is that the character Stan, an egocentric idiot, learns something about homosexuality in this episode. (Don’t worry folks, it’s a good thing he learns!) The thing he learns has him accept homosexuality, and that carries throughout the series. Upon reflection I remembered that Stan doesn’t “learn” things. There is no evolution for the character, Stan even has said he doesn’t learn lessons. Apparently he does about homosexuality. There has been only one other episode I can think of where Stan has learned something and his character evolved, and that was “Surro-gate”. That episode deals with homosexual couples being allowed to raise children. Again, it’s a lesson learned that seems to stick. (Again, don’t worry, it’s good!)

I think it’s telling that a show that very much reflects ongoing culture has its most socially conservative character learn to accept homosexuals and eventually their right to exist as a family. Legalize marijuana? No. Wife get a job outside of the home? No. Go to church every Sunday? Yes. Homosexuals are people like anyone else? Yes.

If Stan Smith can learn that lesson, maybe there is still hope for our country to come together.

Oh shit. I temporarily forgot the Stan Smith was an animated character in a cartoon. We’re probably doomed.

FYI – “American Dad” is available for streaming on Netflix and you can view the older season on Hulu Plus. The episodes I talked about today were “Surro-Gate” Season 3, Episode 7 and “Lincoln Lover” Season 2, Episode 4.

Life and Love Really Do Continue On

I am the bearer of sad news for The Magical Buffet community. On February 13th David Pitkin passed away. Pitkin was the very first guest author to contribute to The Magical Buffet, and more recently he was one of the participants at The Magical Buffet of Authors event.

Pitkin speaking at Magical Buffet of Authors

David Pitkin is the author of numerous books such as “New York State Ghosts Vol. 1 & 2”, “Ghosts of the Northeast”, and “Haunted Warren County”. You can find, and buy, his books here and here. Thanks to his wonderful and prolific writing, Pitkin was often a guest speaker at book stores, libraries, and paranormal conventions.

David Pitkin was such a special man. I saw him at a book signing that had three people in attendance and speaking at a paranormal expo with 50 or more people, and he treated each group the same. Like each and every one of them was the most special person in the room. That’s how he treated every person, like they were the most important person in the room. He was charming to the Nth degree.

Pitkin and I sharing a special conversation

Pitkin would often sign his books with “Life and Love Really Do Continue On….” In David Pitkin’s case I have no doubt that it’s true. The legacy he leaves behind of quality ghost folklore and the magic he brought to the lives he touched will absolutely carry on.

David Pitkin had a long life of wearing many hats. You can learn more from reading his obituary here.

Now That You’re Dead, What Are You Gonna’ Do With Your Life?

“Let’s pretend I blew up the school… all the schools. Now that you’re dead, what are you gonna’ do with your life?” – J.D. “Heathers”

That line at the end of the movie “Heathers” always resonated with me. I think about it a lot, even now that I’m out of school. Now with the “end of the world” approaching on December 21 courtesy of a misunderstood Mayan calendar, it’s been in my thoughts again. The world isn’t actually ending, just like none of the schools actually blew up, but what if we were being given a clean slate? Many folks are saying that this was never meant to be the “end of the world” but more like the end of an era, the chance or possibility for humanity to make some next leap to, depending on what book/movie/television show/etc. you were taking in a more global consciousness, or we’ll all move in a more holistic health direction, we’ll start developing more prominent psychic abilities, and/or more.

Sadly we all know we’re not being given a truly clean slate. Come the morning of December 22, 2012 there will still be children who wake up hungry, violence being committed for absolutely no good reason, and other atrocities. However I can’t help but think, “Now that I’m dead, what am I going to do with my life?” Despite the 22nd technically being just another day, and me being the same person who went to sleep the night before, I’ve found myself wondering if there is anything that I can do to perhaps make the world a little better than it was before December 22nd.

This is actually a tall order. I’m someone with no money, no free time, and an unpredictable chronic pain condition. Obviously it’s nothing I’m going to be able to readily answer in the post, and that’s okay. But it’s a question I wanted to start asking myself, and it’s a question I wanted to ask all of you.

Let’s say the world doesn’t end on December 21, 2012, what is something you can start doing to make the world a little better than it was before?

Favorite Things 2012

As many of you know, it was established last year that I am the new Oprah, particularly when it comes to the task of favoriting things. That’s right, I said favoriting. That would be the act of naming something a favorite. Not just anyone can name something “favorite”, you know. Obviously I can, and last year I told Oprah to pack it in. Honestly, the fact that she did it again this year is a little wounding to my ego. However, I shall not let it keep me from doing the thing you’ve been waiting for all year….. announcing my Favorite Things of 2012!

Thanks to the folks at Skylight Press a favorite book of mine, and in my opinion an occult classic, got reprinted, “The Magical Battle of Britain”. Following Germany’s invasion of Poland, Dion Fortune, started a magical working by mail designed to stop Germany’s efforts to expand into Britain. “The Magical Battle of Britain” provides a rare glimpse into Fortune’s real world workings and a unique perspective of the war. “The Magical Battle of Britain” isn’t just a book that is owned, it is a book that is cherished.

Once Margaret Pearson Ph.D separated the core text from all its associated commentaries, she didn’t just have a nifty book about the I Ching on her hands, she had a revolution. “The Original I Ching: An Authentic Translation of the Book of Changes” shows an early China with an ungendered meaning of yin and powerful, authoritative women. Of course it also shows you how to work with the I Ching, and it does so in clear, easy to understand language. Any woman interested in learning more about the I Ching technique or history, or both, would do well to get “The Original I Ching”. In my mind, I view it as one of the great female empowerment works of the year.

I love it when things don’t conform to stereotypes. For instance, people talk about vegans as if they are walking killjoys. They’re gaunt hippies, reeking of incense, who live to hover over you and make you feel guilty about you and the “murders” you commit. (Which I already knew wasn’t true thanks to a few kick ass friends, but you know what I’m sayin’ people.) Thankfully there are folks like Brian Patton, aka “The Sexy Vegan” around to shake things up and step all over some of those lame, outdated stereotypes. Patton’s cookbook, “The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude”, is filled with good humor and recipes that can be enjoyed whether you’re a vegan or not. I just want to go on the record one more time that any man that can work even a single drop of rum into a breakfast recipe is all right in my book. (Sailor’s Oatmeal with Glazed Walnuts)

Again, I love to be surprised. When I had received a review copy of “Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology” by John Michael Greer I assumed I was in for a lot of the Earth has so much to teach us man. Instead what I found was one of the best introductions to the Western occult tradition in like, ever! I learned an important lesson about assuming from that book. Primarily that I don’t really have to admit to it in my book reviews!

He was on the list last year, he’s on the list this year. As long as Inner Traditions continues to publish his books here in the United States I imagine he will continue to show up on my favorites. He’s Claude Lecouteux and he’s written many of my favorite books, whether they’ve had the opportunity to show up on lists or not. Let’s focus on this year, shall we? This year we’re talking about “The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses: From Pagan Folklore to Modern Manifestations.” Lecouteux is notoriously thorough and this book is no exception. You cannot discuss poltergeists or how people would rid themselves of poltergeists without first spending a chapter thoroughly pinning down the definition of poltergeist. Trust me, with Claude Lecouteux you’re in for an informative and entertaining ride with the subject matter.

I love tarot decks. I can’t imagine anyone who is interested in the occult that isn’t intrigued by the cards at least a little. Despite having only rudimentary knowledge and an utter lack of skill with tarot, I am fortunate enough to see plenty of tarot decks. I reviewed many this year and they were all so amazing, but there was one that spoke to me. I can’t fully explain, and maybe there are some tarot readers out there who can say this experience has happened to them, but this tarot deck just filled me with such awe and wonder it made want to work with it, right then, right that moment. It’s the “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” by Lisa Hunt. Each card depicts a different spirit, ghost, or liaison between the earthly and spiritual realms from folklore and legend. The amount of research that went into the deck had to be dizzying. The artwork is beautiful and often brings a sense of light to darkened spirits. I loved the “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” so much I bought a second deck signed by the creator/artist!

I was totally blown away by “Power Crystals: Spiritual and Magical Practices, Crystal Skulls, and Alien Technology” by John DeSalvo Ph.D This book has EVERYTHING you’d ever want to know about quartz, and as a fan of quartz that makes me happy. What it is, its history, how to care for it, its use in meditation, and more. Add to that a fascinating look at crystal skulls and you have a favorite of 2012. DeSalvo’s blend of science and spirituality appeals to both my skeptical brain and my seeker’s heart.

Joma Sipe’s occult bona fides are certainly in order. At fifteen he began studying Theosophy and the works of H.P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant, and from there Rudolf Steiner, P.D. Ouspensky and more. At seventeen Sipe got involved with a school called “The Gnostic Movement”. In his late twenties he practiced ritual and practical magic with another mystical school. Inspired by “Autobiography of a Yogi” Sipe traveled India learning about Hindu religion. At the same time he was reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”, which then led him to study “A Course in Miracles”. Sipe takes that knowledge and funnels it into amazing works of art. Making “Soul of Light: Works of Illumination” a beautiful, stunning favorite of 2012.

I don’t know about any of you, but every now and then throughout the course of my life I’ve considered setting up or rearranging my home with the assistance of a Feng Shui book. Then you go to a book store and start flipping through some books on the subject and it’s huge, overwhelming, utterly complex……I think you get the idea. Then I got a review copy of “Feng Shui Your Life” by Jayme Barrett. It’s exhilarating! Everything is easy to understand, you’re given simple changes you can make right away, and you’re not made to feel as if doom awaits you if you can’t (or opt not to) make every change in the book. “Feng Shui Your Life” makes you want to immediately stop what you’re doing and start working your way through the book. I’ve never had a book about Feng Shui inspire that before, have you?

This last favorite is such a surprise that no one even knows I’ve read it yet! We’re coming up on the end of the year and that’s why now is the PERFECT time to pick up a copy of “Everyday Witch Book of Rituals” by Deborah Blake. Blake’s book features rituals for new and full moons, Sabbats, Handfastings, Wiccanings, Eldering/Cronings, Passing Over, and Rebirthings. Of course Blake wouldn’t just give you raw rituals and call it a day. “Everyday Witch Book of Rituals” discusses why we do rituals, appropriate etiquette when doing group rituals, how to convert rituals from group to lone practitioner and back again and more! Also, don’t fear, Magic the Cat makes many appearances. With everything you need for a year of magical ritual, and Deborah Blake’s good humor, NOW is the time for “Everyday Witch Book of Rituals”! Seriously. Go!

And there you have it folks, after much agonizing, list making, and debate, these are The Magical Buffet’s Favorite Things of 2012. So now go out and finish your holiday shopping, or perhaps do a little shopping for you. Be sure to tell the shopkeepers Rebecca sent you!