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Sep 16 2009

Spinster aunt recommends non-sucky blog

Autoharpophilia

Yesterday morning, as I clawed my way out from under a pile of various retrievers and leaped from the TempurPedic with my customary yelp, a brilliant thought occurred to me. I said to myself, “Jill,” I said, “what you need is an autoharp!”

Now, I probably don’t need to tell you that all the autoharp shops here in Cottonmouth County closed sometime around 1886. No problem! I just turn on my computer, press a few buttons, and in a few hours my new autoharp arrives at my gate via Autoharp Airlift Express Dot Com!

The internet. Replete with jackasses, but occasionally useful.

Internet usefulness is not constrained to its facilitation of the union of spinster aunts and stringed folk instruments they have no idea how to play. Today, for example, I happened upon a well-written blog. It’s even a feminist blog. I happened upon it because its author, displaying a degree of discernment unusual in today’s feckless young blogger, paraphrased me using proper attribution, and the link showed up in my inbox.

I know, I know. It seems incredible. But I’m not exaggerating. Fannie’s Room is not junk.

Fannie’s post on one of those asshole dudes who believes that his important dudeliness qualifies him to lecture the feminists on the nature of feminism is very pleasant indeed. Fannie’s taste in asshole dudes is excellent; he’s quite a peach. Here’s what the guy has to say:

Western feminism is too bogged down in its own limitless self-regard, arguing ad nauseam about the evils of sexually stereotyping adverts, or why female bankers don’t get quite such enormous bonuses as their male equivalents, to care about anyone else. Least of all the millions of subjected women living in conditions they cannot begin to understand, although Jaycee Lee Dugard could probably give them a few pointers.

He can begin to understand millions of subjected women, though. Because he’s a dude! This also entitles him to the view that Western feminists are doing it wrong! We’re so obssessed with sexist TV shows that we’ve never heard of honor killings, or if we have, we have nevertheless failed utterly in persuading assholes like himself of the validity of feminist ideology; it’s the job of Western feminists to “save Muslim women,” yadda yadda, you’ve heard it all before.

Anyway, Fannie offers an engaging analysis of his argument. Here’s an excerpt:

From those who have the privilege of being considered default human beings who are privy to the One and Only Objective Worldview, feminists often receive quite the schizophrenic message. On the one hand, feminists aren’t worth listening to because all they do is whine and ruin everybody’s fun. But on the other hand, they should use their incredible powers of indoctrination to work on More Important Issues.

But worse than this mixed message, is the fact that non-feminist advisors to feminism are often so very wrong about what feminism is and is not. Perhaps placing a primacy on their own “objective” worldview, they assume that their ignorance about what feminists do, care about, and strive towards is an accurate reflection of reality.

It’s usually not.

Precisely! Few things blow my lobe worse than dudes who simultaneously denigrate feminism as useless crap and accuse its ideologues of wielding demonic power over the masses. I get these feminists-suck-at-feminism guys all the time. They got no argument, because they don’t know what feminism is; they just hate women.

Also, I credit Fannie with hipping me to what everyone else has probably already forgotten about, it’s so last week. I allude to the pro Prop-8 California Assemblyman whose mic was on as he described to an interlocutor his revolting heterosexploits with one of his mistresses. Of his graphic bragging, Fannie remarks, “[E]w. That definitely just made me a little more gay.”

Seriously, did you see this shit? Hilarious! Fannie opines that active mics on politicians should be mandatory 24/7. Hilarious!

Almost as hilarious as me keeping society with an autoharp. I can sense your anxiety, but not to worry! As soon as it arrives I’ll post a video demonstrating the perfection of our union.

36 comments

  1. Josquin

    I’ve been so very busy trying to keep meaningless systems in order, making sure that arbitrary deadlines are met, and keeping balls in the air which, should they fall, would have virtually no impact on anything of any importance, that I’ve missed all these fine IBTP posts, to my extreme chagrin. All I can say is: AUTOHARP! Is that one of those lap-held dulcimer-type things? Once I’m relieved of my ball-juggling duties and my uphill-pusher-of-rocks obligations, I tell ya I’m going to get me a celtic harp and LEARN IT.
    Now, off to glance briefly at Fannie’s Room.

  2. fannie

    Thank you for your kind words, Twisty. I’m glad I properly attributed you. I knew I read that somewhere, but I could remember exactly where or which post it was.

  3. Notorious Ph.D.

    Thank god for knobs like this guy. Behind every feminist is a man giving her her marching orders.

    Grrrrr…

  4. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Wasn’t it two of his mistresses?

    Sanctity of marriage, y’all. Most notably honored in the breech.

  5. PhysioProf

    (1) Awesome new blog linkitude!

    (2) Sounds like Fannie’s commenter d00d needs to get his own motherfucking blog asshole.

    (3) My grandpa was an autoharp virtuoso; thanks for triggering some fond memories.

  6. aarvark

    Maybe the dude should stick to giving lectures to head injury victims about how it feels to be brainless and sensitivity deprived. Or to women of color about the intersection of racism, sexism and classism. Or to the aged about, well one could go on, couldn’t one?

    What is he teaching, Male Entitlement Asshattery 101?

  7. Jill

    “(3) My grandpa was an autoharp virtuoso; thanks for triggering some fond memories.”

    Really! He didn’t happen to have taught you, at his venerable knee, how to tune the fucking thing, did he? Because it’s got about 376 strings, each one of which appears designed to emulate the tone, feel, timbre, and harmonic resonance of a feline gangfight in an empty airplane hangar.

  8. PhysioProf

    Because it’s got about 376 strings, each one of which appears designed to emulate the tone, feel, timbre, and harmonic resonance of a feline gangfight in an empty airplane hangar.

    I hate to break it to you, but that means it is in tune.

  9. root

    I fully support your adventures in the autoharp. The exact same thing happened to me with a hurdy-gurdy…

  10. Squiggy

    Fannie’s Room is now resoundingly installed into my bookmarks for daily-must-read-sites. Do I sense a revolution simmering? Headline: Feminism Goes Viral!

  11. yttik

    Thank you for the timely post. I will definitely read Fannie’s Room. I have just stopped visiting another blog that complained about whiny women seeing sexism everywhere. Lo and behold a week later they decide to title a piece, “Where are all the feminists?” Why aren’t they dealing with all these issues we think they should be dealing with??

    I refuse to work for the Great Feminist Advisory Board that determines whether or not I am doing this feminism thing correctly. Last time I checked, nobody was signing my paycheck.

  12. orlando

    Indeed, I have always wondered at the ability to maintain that particular piece of doublethink:
    1. Feminism is dead
    2. Feminism has taken over and ruined everything, and no one is allowed to question it, which makes me a brave and edgy rebel.

  13. Sarah

    Oh my golly, I have been wanting an autoharp off and on for the past several years. I never seem to get around to getting one, though. Maybe I will ask for one for Christmas, as I am quite the spoiled youngest child.

  14. magriff

    Autoharp player here! What kind did you get?

    Tuning: you have to tune each string individually, with a little tuning wrench. You could use a tuning fork and do the whole relative tuning thing (tuning strings to each other), but I’d recommend getting an electronic tuner thing tuning each string to that.

    Also, I’m sure there are probably instructional Youtube videos…

  15. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    You got a harp for your car?

  16. Laurie

    I played an autoharp for a while in fifth grade, but soon found it was a lot trickier than it looked.

    So if the tuning issues get too obnoxious, you might check out the autoharp’s evil electronic stepchild, the Omnichord. Sheer delight at your fingertips! Anything you play on it sounds tinkly-spacy-exquisite, and the glissandos are addictive.

  17. Felicity

    It’s funny these amazing powers we’re assumed to have as individuals with *big moral and powerful magic feminist mind*.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/susie-mesure-why-is-the-sisterhood-silent-on-sudan-1769569.html

    http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article6739270.ece

    We can barely say anything, not even on the internet, without being derailed with nonsense from the subject or silenced. We’re assumed to have this great power and responsibility, which ties in with everything from the usual panic attacks from people assuming we’re getting anywhere – to the cries about our ignorance on More Important across the other side of the globe.

    Oh, and I was *going* to hop on a plane to help Lubna, after me and my buds here in the UK overthrew the Sudan government with that magic wink of an eye. That was before I realised we live in Topsy Turvy land, where our own sexism desperately needs to be fixed before we can even dream/ write anything ourselves without being attacked.

  18. figleaf

    Definitely get an electronic tuner. And if you can find one get a really long-handled wrench-thingie to tune with because those short-handled tuning wrenches they give you don’t give you enough leverage for fine tuning. (A crescent wrench will do.)

    Autoharps are great. They’ve got those little table-leg stumps on the bottom because the real old timers would put them on a table and play them flat with a goose quill. I think they’re more fun if you sort of hug them and then strum them with a guitar pick or (better) with finger and thumb picks. What’s great is that even with finger picks you don’t have to worry about hitting exact strings, just sweep your fingers around a lot and move your fingers around on the keys and it sounds great.

    Good luck! I look forward to the video.

    figleaf

    p.s. Now where did I put *my* electronic tuner. And crescent wrench? Dang it, Jill, now you’ve got me playing the autoharp again too.

  19. undercover punk

    Oooooo, I love it when you share the woman-love! Fannie is totally feminist-lesbian-fab-u-lous!! Thank you for recommending.

  20. thebewilderness

    There is an online site that you can use to tune your autoharp.
    If yours is electric you just plug it in. If not, you need a microphone.
    They have to be tuned quite often when new, then they settle.
    http://www.seventhstring.com/tuner/tuner.html

  21. Cardinal

    Delurking briefly to share a tidbit I recently learned. Fanny is British slang for vagina, so it’s especially fitting that “Fannie’s Room” is a feminist site.

    Back into the shadows for me, where I will continue to take in the wisdom of Twisty and Jill.

  22. lulu

    I love everything about Fannie’s analysis, except the inaccurate use of the word “schizophrenic” to indicate intellectual incongruity. (Of course, if said incongruity resulted in terrifying and debilitating hallucinations, then never mind.) Otherwise, mazel tov and whatnot.

    I’m glad to hear about the autoharp, mostly because it’s not a ukelele. As of this writing, the autoharp hasn’t been adopted far and wide as a whimsical hipster lifestyle accessory. However, I’m predicing a resurgance of the pianoforte among the retro-porn-moustache-and-porkpie-hat-bedecked snarkerati any day now.

  23. Vinaigrette Girl

    Duvall and Sanford, upholding fam’lee values whilst not upholding their zips. It’s all that gravitas, you see, and being Natural, is an Irresistable Force: gravity pulls down the zip, man falls plonk onto nearby waiting woman who is fulfilling *her* Natural, [Subordinate] Role in life. If you’re a pullitician the pull downwards is stronger, and the Good Book says man is weak. It all fits so neatly. IBTP.

    I guess you’ve read Margaret and helen on the subject, as well. I’m off to Fannie’s, thanks :-).

  24. birkwearingblamer

    Want me to bring my accordian?

  25. k8

    I just got my banjo out of my parent’s basement two weeks ago! I’m thrilled with the prospect, and excited for you, too!

  26. PhysioProf

    What’s great is that even with finger picks you don’t have to worry about hitting exact strings, just sweep your fingers around a lot and move your fingers around on the keys and it sounds great.

    Melody!? We don’t need no stinking melody!

  27. e

    there was another (the same?) of these realfeminstos over on blogher a week or so ago, along with the lively discussion he engendered. i’d go find the link, but i’ve already been spanked enough that i’m skeert: go search blogher yerownsef if interested :)

  28. Jezebella

    Oh, lulu! You said “snarkerati”. *snort*

  29. rootlesscosmo

    Magriff and Figleaf and thebewilderness, I wish I’d had your advice when I somehow acquired an autoharp around 1962.I already knew about chords from playing piano and the basic idea that each button created a particular chord was pretty clear. But tuning was a mystery, and there weren’t electronic tuning thingies then; I got hold of a tuning hammer from a piano technician and tried to tune the thing by ear, with lease-breaking results. Somehow it did end up more or less in tune and I started figuring out that you pick a melody with your 2nd and 3rd finger–did I try a mandolin pick at some point, and did it work? it’s all a blur–while strumming the chords with your thumb. (You can only play melody notes that are part of the chord you’re playing–the others are damped. This is a great help in avoiding harsh dissonances, if that’s what you want, or creating them, if you’re sort of into a Charles Ives thing. An instrument of more versatility than immediately appears. Mother Maybelle Carter I think was the first to record using this nelody-picking technique. It can be a pretty rich, full sound, not a substitute for a string band but a lot better than no strings at all, and easier to learn than guitar or mandolin or banjo or fiddle. YouTube instructional videos have to be out there–evertything else is.

  30. Genevieve

    I’m excited to know how it goes with the autoharp–I’ve had a hankering to get one for a little while now thanks to the week I spent in Appalachia this summer.

  31. noshoes

    Autoharps rock! Just beware that all the “pedals” are in place and not broken off. Crazy hippie dude tried to sell me an autoharp a few years ago and I spent three hours getting the damn thing in tune before I realized that half of the felt-covered “pedals” (sorry, don’t know terminology) had rotted away. I am referring to the parts of the autoharp that are connected to the buttons, i.e. press “Am” and the pedals will press on the corresponding strings to produce an A-minor chord when the ‘harp is strummed. Or not, if a crazy hippie dude is selling you a severely damaged ‘harp.

  32. polly styrene

    “Fanny is British slang for vagina”.

    Indeed it is, so unwary US tourists to Eng-er-land should not refer to ‘fanny packs’ or the like, or the natives may burst into fits of laughter.

  33. rootlesscosmo

    half of the felt-covered “pedals” (sorry, don’t know terminology) had rotted away. I am referring to the parts of the autoharp that are connected to the buttons, i.e. press “Am” and the pedals will press on the corresponding strings to produce an A-minor chord when the ‘harp is strummed.

    On a piano those felt things are dampers. The default condition of the strings is “un-damped”–if you hit or pluck them, they make a sound–so striking a key lifts the damper of that key’s strings; it sounds until you release the key, which damps the string and cuts the sound off. (Pushing down the damper pedal–the one on the right–lifts all the dampers at once, so any key or combination of keys you strike will go on making a sound until the vibration quits.) The autoharp plays chords by lifting the dampers from the strings that make up a particular chord, A minor or whatever, leaving the rest undamped and silent. (If you strum without pushing any buttons down, all the strings sound at once.)

  34. sonia

    the funniest thing about the Mike Duvall story, or whatever his name is, is that you don’t even have to get feminist on that ass. there’s so much to say before you even get close to trashing his sexism.

    like “idiot,” “couldn’t get me wet with a hurricane,” and “really? eye patches?”

  35. DN

    Magriff and Figleaf and thebewilderness, I wish I’d had your advice when I somehow acquired an autoharp around 1962.I already knew about chords from playing piano and the basic idea that each button created a particular chord was pretty clear. But tuning was a mystery, and there weren’t electronic tuning thingies then; I got hold of a tuning hammer from a piano technician and tried to tune the thing by ear, with lease-breaking results. Somehow it did end up more or less in tune and I started figuring out that you pick a melody with your 2nd and 3rd finger–did I try a mandolin pick at some point, and did it work? it’s all a blur–while strumming the chords with your thumb. (You can only play melody notes that are part of the chord you’re playing–the others are damped. This is a great help in avoiding harsh dissonances, if that’s what you want, or creating them, if you’re sort of into a Charles Ives thing. An instrument of more versatility than immediately appears. Mother Maybelle Carter I think was the first to record using this nelody-picking technique. It can be a pretty rich, full sound, not a substitute for a string band but a lot better than no strings at all, and easier to learn than guitar or mandolin or banjo or fiddle. YouTube instructional videos have to be out there–evertything else is.

  36. Jill

    It turns out I am an absolute genius at the autoharp. When I play my “The Eyes of Texas”/”We Shall Overcome” medley, the furry woodland creatures all gather round and bluebirds flit about my head.

    It has been suggested that the furry woodland creatures are actually trying to figure out how to kill me, and that the bluebirds would peck my eyes out if the din wasn’t so deafening, but people who say this are just jealous!

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