30 November, 2005

Ron Weasley And The Burning Bed

Yeah, I'm on a Harry Potter kick. This always happens after a read-through, because I've spent so much time with the books that I've got a bit of a firewhiskey hangover. I must have a lot in common with other readers, because discussion groups for the books are always booming. Sometimes they're fun. Other times they're a really bad idea.

Connie Lane points me to the latest strange piece of literary analysis for Potterphiles.

I am always amazed at the way the books act as a prism through which everyone sees a bit of themselves. That's probably a mark of good literature. But I really don't see Ron pulling an Ike Turner in Book 7.


Ron better not hook up with anybody Kate knows. That's for sure.

Chai Tea in The Cumberland

We've come to a pretty pass when someone seems to think that I am in favour of TennCare.

How exactly does one be a libertarian in a country that has gone so far down the big government road? All you can do is choke on the exhaust in the certain knowledge that you have indeed missed the bus. It seems like all the modern libertarian can do is sit back, moan about Government These Days and post a "porkbusters" logo on his blog. Being a libertarian in 2005 is like being Anthony Michael Hall in 16 Candles. We just know deep down that we're a solid hit--except we don't actually have any girls who are interested.

Take TennCare. I think it is a bad implementation of a hideous idea. I love that it exists because it is the most fantastic cautionary tale imaginable. I love being able to say "Do you see how screwed up it is? That's what happens when you let the Government Take Care Of You. You die because you didn't fill out the correct form on time. Welcome to Brazil, ladies and gentlemen."

The hardest thing for me to accept is that the seperation of Church and State is effectively dead. These things that are the bailiwick of the individual--caring for the sick and needy--are now being handled by our drunken Uncle Sam. Jesus asked His Church to do unto the least, but we've been happy to say "here are my taxes. You go ahead." I've even had more than one Christian tell me that they count part of their taxes as their tithe, since it goes to social programs.

Let's have a moment of silence.

Okay. We're back. Hope none of you fell into a giggle loop. So, we've let the State do the Church's job, leaving the Church free to buy used sports stadiums. And we've elected to allow our money to be taken from us by force. All we have left is to sit like a cranky grandmother on the porch screaming "You be careful with that!!!" as Congress burns through it all on a perpetual sugar-high.

So, what next? What do we do? Revolution is a young man's game, and I think most of us are too worried about paying down a mortgage to think about trying to overthrow the bastards. I was gonna dump my Chai Latte in the river as a mini protest, but I don't think that'd help.

29 November, 2005

Kat The Knife

I killed everyone who died from TennCare cuts. Glen says so.

28 November, 2005

Handicaps: Are YOU Worthy?

News Channel 5, according to the teaser for tonight's broadcast, is doing a story about people who have unnecessary handicapped parking permits.

Now, I know where I fall on this issue. If you use a permit that you don't need so you can wrangle a prime spot, then you are a Grade-A piece of fossilized vomit. Handicapped parking permits are for people who are, you know, handicapped.

But what got me (keeping in mind that I've just seen the teaser) was the salacious glimpse of the reporter yelling at a black woman getting into her car. "What's your handicap?!?"

Couple of things:

First off, way to show the black woman. Nice going. Reinforce that 'welfare queen' stereotype in any subtle way possible. Cause we all know that the only people cheating the system are those black people. [Obligatory Disclaimer: Of COURSE this is sarcasm.]

Secondly, I really think it's very crass to assume that just because someone's not waddling into a store on stumps that they aren't handicapped in some way. Sure, a lot of mobility limitations are obvious. If you need a hydraulic lift to get your wheelchair out of the back of your car, then no one is going to freak out over your brief sojourn in the blue spot. But what if, say, you are a cancer patient undergoing chemo? Or a person with lupus in the middle of a flare? Or a person with rheumatoid arthritis? These are conditions that cause intense pain and limit mobility. But they are also not generally visible to a stranger in a parking lot. I'd imagine that many of the apparently-healthy people you see getting out of a car with a handicap tag are truly suffering from a non-visible, high pain ailment.

I can be pretty naive, but not so much so that I don't get that there are people who cheat the system. Close relatives of mine continued to use their husband/father's handicap tag for a year after he died of colon cancer just because they really liked the easy and free parking. Again--fossilized vomit. But really. I'm satisfied to let karma/fate/universal justice sort them out. I'd like to think that we as a society have better manners than to enquire about a stranger's ailment simply because he's parked twenty feet closer to the door of the Kroger.

Random Questions About Extreme Makeover Home Edition

We TiVo this, and watch it in clumps. Tonight was a two-hour clump which saw Tim and Me on the couch asking the same questions we always ask. I'll ask them outloud to see if anyone else has the answer.

1. Are They Truly Surprising The People?

When they pull up and shout "Good Morning,________ family!" everyone is always there. And dressed. And the women are all wearing makeup. I'll be honest. If you're pulling up outside my house on a random day, the chances are that I will be in sweats, hair in a ponytail and only Burt's Bees Lipbalm on my face. If I haven't lost the tube again.

2. How Do The People Get Off Work For A Week With No Advance Notice?

Any job I've ever had (save freelancing, which is another story altogether), I've had to plan my vacation months in advance, put in a request in writing and find a replacement for my duties. If you come to my house to rebuild it without my knowing, as much as I'd love a week at the spa I don't know that I could just up and go.

3. How Can The People Afford The New House?

Most of these people are living in near-squalor. Holes in the floor, ceilings flaking--general disarray. Many times they're either disabled or working eleventy-seven hours a week . They can't even pay to fix up the original place. How can they afford the 6,000 square foot McMansionette?

I'm glad for these people and I love this show. But every time I watch it, these questions bother me even more.

27 November, 2005

Just A Little Bit Angry...

It's always a risk to go out on a limb for something you believe in.. You generally know that you're gonna be in for it. Sometimes you don't say anything, other times you take the risk and say something anyway. And then, when you don't take the drubbing you expected, you feel like maybe taking that risk was an alright kinda thing to do.

But, just when you think you're free and clear, it comes back to bite you when you least expect it. The adult part of me would really just like to pretend that I didn't walk past the jocks table to overhear myself being mocked. But the other part of me that tries to respect everyone is just a little bit --no, a LOT--pissed off.

That's blogging, and that's how it goes, I suppose. But I'm not gonna pretend that it doesn't hurt a little bit. Especially from the participant that I had previously respected counted as a good social acquaintance. I'm still glad I said something initially, even though I knew what it would cost me. But, man, if it doesn't hurt like hell.


Why do I, as a libertarian care, when the credo of that philosophy is "believe that individuals should have the liberty to make their own moral choices as long as they do not use coercion to prevent others from having that same liberty"? In truth, I don't care if every blogger in the world except me says whatever they want on their own blog. Just as I don't care what you say in your own home, or in your own car. But, contrary to popular opinion, libertarians do believe in the formation of social contracts. If I, as a Libertarian, choose to join a shooting club that only allows rifles and excludes revolvers, I'm not turning my back on my libertarian beliefs. I'm merely saying that I know what the organization requires and agree to abide by those requirements. I might be wrong in my understanding of Nashville Is Talking, but my impression is that it is a local blog aggregator run by the Nashville ABC affiliate. It was my assumption, based on my instructions for guest-blogging, that the standards of language use implemented by broadcast networks applied also to blogging on Nashville Is Talking, hence my request. I have never at any time gone to any individual's blog anywhere and asked them to change a single thing they had written. I am a regular reader of the blogger whose post was linked and have never at any time asked her to change a post--nor would I. That would be idiotic, and I'm generally not given to Bowdlerisation of individual works. But, as NiT is an aggregator with posting guidelines, I thought it was not an inappropriate request to make. I assumed from Brittney's response that it was not inappropriate.
Why do Christians care when non-Christians use Jesus Christ as a profanity? Why do black people care when non-black people use the N word? I think it comes down to a basic individual desire for respect--that's all.


Further information can be had over at Chris Wage's place

Blessed Events

Casey over at Some Geek in TN has a new baby. Yay, Casey!

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

I love Thanksgiving. A few years ago, Tim & I decided to make this holiday our family time. Both of our families live in other States, and any holiday spent with either is a logistical chore. No matter how fun it is, getting there and back is a marathon of organising, cleaning and packing. Being there is the good of family time interspersed with sleeping on foreign mattresses and sharing a bathroom with grown siblings. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is an oasis of restorative calm.
I enjoy cooking, so Thursday was spent as it always is. Cinnamon rolls from a tube for breakfast. (One of the most overlooked delicacies of the post-preservative age.) Vegetables were chopped and the bird was stuffed, with a hefty dose of Steeleye Span in the background. While the turkey roasted we read in front of a fire. Fires are good for the soul, even when it's sunny and 60 degrees out. A crackling log in the fireplace is a definitive statement of home. The smells of the burning logs and roasting bird are as close to heaven as I hope to get for a few decades.
With two of us, even a small turkey with trimmings lasts for three days. So we were able to feast contentedly for three days with the nerdliest of books and movies. Tim rode his bike. He was able to get 80 miles of road riding done, which means fewer miles on the rollers. I got several rows done on the latest knitted Christmas present. This weekend alone is something to be thankful for.

From here on out I plan to sound very nerdly. Those of you who tire of nerdly posts can continue to drink yourselves into a sodden stupor. Oh, and SPOILERS FOR HARRY POTTER.

We made it all the way through the Rings Trilogy Extended Versions With Coblian Edits. Basically this means that we bedooped most of the Frodo/Sam/Gollum scenes from Two Towers and Return Of The King. I'm sure there's a long line of geeks who will whip us for the sacrilege. I'll live. Having seen all three of these movies at least four times apiece (except for the Extended ROTK, which we've only seen twice), I feel it is safe to say that I grow weary of the extended point A-to-point B travails of Oscar Baits A, B, and C. "Oh, look. They're walking. Oh, look. They're walking some more. Oh, goody. Now the naked one is going to throw a tantrum. Whee." I didn't mind the other umpteen times I saw the movies, and they are still as close to perfect as films can get. This time I wanted to see the big battles, the charging horses and the pus-filled Orcs. So that's what we did.

We then watched Titanic. I've got to hand it to James Cameron. For a guy who can't stay married to the same woman for more than five minutes, he tells a ripping yarn of undying love. Seriously, I do admire his ability to tell this particular story. He manages, with two characters, to craft his narrative in such a way as to show the entire event, from initial impact with the berg to the last boat returning to pull the few living from the water. It's a great movie.

Harry Potter Spoiler
My other nerdly milestone from the weekend was finishing the second read-through of Half-Blood Prince. The first time I inhaled it. This time I savoured it, and came away with an entirely different opinion of the Snape debacle. I really think, after carefully reading the entire book, that he's still on Dumbledore's side. I think that's why Dumbledore insists that Harry fetch him when they get back from the cave. I believe that Dumbledore was aware of the Unbreakable Vow Snape made to Narcissa and that Dumbledore was also aware that he was dying from the poison in the Inferi Cave. This way Snape could aquit his vow, retain his cover and continue to assist Harry in the fight against Voldemort. I'm kind of disappointed, though, because I have always hated Snape. Back in July I was so pleased to have my suspicions about his evilness confirmed that I didn't care to think it through. Oh well. I trust JKR to give us good stories, so I've no doubt Book 7 will be a great ride. And I'm still assuming that Book 7 will be out on 7/7/07, because that just makes sense. If not that date, then 7/31/07 for Harry's birthday.

And that was how I spent my weekend.

25 November, 2005

My Kingdom For A $398 HP Laptop

So a couple of days ago I was complaining about kids not behaving in public. Why? Is it because I hate kids? No. It's because when kids who aren't taught to respect other people grow up, this crap happens. When kids are taught that they are the only important person in the room, and satisfying their desires is more worthy than their personal integrity, they grow up to trample people at the Wal-Mart.

Then again, there's the problem of the Trample-ee. A quick read-through of her story sends my risk-management alarm bells flashing.
"I got a bruise on my arm, and I don't bruise easily. I'm scratched up. I also got scratches on my back all from people clawing and grabbing," said Bumpers.
Her nephew took photos with his camera phone, showing Connie being taken away by ambulance after the morning melee.
Connie's brother did talk about the stampede. " They allowed control to be lost and as a result, my sister was in the hospital."

It's easy money to bet that these people are going to be suing the Wal-Mart corporation, if Wal-Mart doesn't settle for a chunk of change ahead of time. I hate that the woman was hurt, but her brother's remarks sound straight out of the Bart Durham Future Millionaires Of America handbook.

Bonus points in today's laptop fiasco go to Tim Severance of Martinsburg, W.Va. who said
"Turns out that it was only a gimmick to get people into their store."

Mighty keen grasp of the obvious there, Mr. Severance. Am I the only one who thinks that terms like "loss-leader" and "bait-and-switch" should be taught in grade school?

Auto De Fe-lure

My sister is okay. I was not convinced that she was fine until I talked to her for myself. I guess if she'd had wounds I would have insisted on putting my hands in them. She taught a whole school day in shock, since she was still in shock when I talked to her late that afternoon. Her twin concerns on Wednesday evening were the logistics of replacing her crumpled Alero and the mockery she'd get from our brothers for her "poor" driving. She was so afraid that Dave and Tom would be cruel to her, but she hadn't reckoned on their love. Of car shopping.

Apparently now that we are reassured that she is intact and unconcussed, the guys have taken the opportunity (and promise of insurance money) to find her a new car. Of course, this car hunt was not complete until they dragged Tim into the conversation via speakerphone.

The first step was to determine how much insurance money she's likely to receive for the Alero. Let me be clear that the only reason I even know she was driving an "Alero" is because it came up in the loudly-broadcast speakerphone conversation. I am carlexic and have no ability to distinguish between car brands and styles. At one point the guys were asking her to distinguish between a series of meaningless letters. ("Was at GX, a GLS or an QRSTUVW?") When she couldn't tell them, my very own loving husband loudly exclaimed "How can you have driven it for 5 years and not know that? You are such a girl. Did have 2 or 4 doors? Do you at least know that?"

After patiently enduring the vacuum of information coming from Miss Bee, everyone moved forward with Phase Two, which consisted of looking at other cars on the Internet. I have a feeling that our Christmas visit to Indiana will be spent on various car lots. Which for me will be somewhat like trying to decide which marshmallow is the best. Personally, I don't think she needs to get any of those 3 guys Christmas presents. They're having enough fun already.

24 November, 2005

Now THAT I Have To See...

Somebody searched on Google for breast enhancing ringtones.

And they ended up here.

Sorry, lady.

I Took Off To Find The Sky

This is gonna be one of those posts where I bloviate about what just came up on my iTunes. All blog posts are self-indulgent to varying degrees. They are attempts to say how compassionate, ironic, detached or involved we are about big and little goings on. Blogs about songs are sometimes the worst, because they are usually long-winded attempts to say "yeah, me too" about a topic that someone else said better once upon a time. Everybody has a peculiar relationship to music. Like God and chocolate, it is one of those essential things that means something a little bit different to everyone, and holds varying degrees of importance to each of us. Like God and chocolate, you can love it or hate it, but you know it's out there and it moves people to great heights. It also plunges people to deep lows.

I'm betting everyone has a song that strikes them as a particular ode to melancholy, if only because I have one or two and I know that I'm not all that uncommon. I've already said, both here and at Tangled Up In Blue that John Lennon's Watching The Wheels is my Life Song. It's all about deciding that it's not that important to be "important", whether other people get it or not. Pretty much the soundtrack for a woman who dropped off the fast track to get married, read books, write books and watch TV with a her dog in her lap. I know that I did the right thing then and that I'm doing the right thing now.

If that sounds too much like I'm trying to convince myself, it's because the Side B of my Life 45 just spun around on the iTunes. If there is ever a song that can make you feel old, like you are a vagrant, like you fell to a low you never expected and like you've traded everything meaningful for cold comfort it's this one.

Taxi by Harry Chapin. Where Lennon celebrates taking the less travelled road, Chapin drives you just far enough down the road not taken to tour your lost potential.

Well, another man might have been angry
And another man might have been hurt
But another man never would have let her go.
I stashed the bill in my shirt.

Sure, they both got what they wanted--but only in the most ghostly way. I've got several versions of this song, but the Live version from The Bottom Line Encore Collection is the best, most mournfully joyous of them all. Which is why I stopped in the middle of what I was doing to write about the little cigarette burns of regret it leaves on my soul.

UPDATE Oh the irony. The next song to randomly come up was actually....A Little Less Conversation by Elvis. I think even the universe thinks I'm taking it all to seriously. A little more bite and a little less bark indeed.

23 November, 2005

What I'm Most Thankful For

My Mom just called.

My sister's car ran off the road and wrapped around a tree.

My sister's alive.

Since You Asked....

Over at Tiny Cat Pants there is a discussion about political labels. Apparently the other 'labels' with which I self-identify are confusing to some.
Speaking of labels...
Which are you, Katherine? Baptist or Quaker? I saw you nearly converted to Catholicism as well at Sharon Cobb's place, so I guess your multiple religions are confusing to me.

Since one person admits out loud to being confused, I'm sure there are multiple others who just don't say anything.

So I'll clarify.

First off...Christianity is one religion. The whole "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" thing applies, as far as I'm concerned. The denominational differences are largely about procedure. Of course I realize that the Church of Christ has a different spin on things.

Second off...I've never in my life been a Quaker.

I grew up Mennonite, but there are no active Mennonite churches around here, so I joined a Baptist church so that I could experience corporate worship.

Philosophically I'm still more Mennonite than Baptist, but they have the same historical roots so there isn't much of an idealistic conflict. I'd still rather my church gave more to missionaries than it spends on internal operating costs, but that's nothing that I can do anything about at the moment.

The whole thing about converting to Catholicsm was also when I was flirting with Liberalism. Around 19 I had a bit of a period of questioning. Not uncommon, I guess.

To draw a secular political analogy for those who don't understand church politics, it's like Christianity is America, but the denominations are the different political parties.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

I LOVE My Church

I think that maybe Lacy is responsible for this.

You just have to check out our Church Homepage for the new sermon format.

22 November, 2005

War On Brats: Kinda Childfree Me

Lileks has a daughter. On his website she's Gnat, in his Star-Tribune columns she is Child(TM). I know he's biased, but from his anecdotes, she sounds like my dream child. Today, he linked to this story about a Chicago eatery that has committed a grievous wrong. They have posted a sign on their front door asking that children behave while eating there.

There is a war ongoing in our culture, so the article says, between the childless and the parents. I know, because I've been a reluctant combatent for the last 10 years. I want children but don't have any. This means that I'm not technically Childfree, which is fine with me. I don't see the need to refer to pregnancy as "Baby Rabies" or disparage every infant born as a "fleshloaf". Those terms bespeak a deep-seated hatred springing from somewhere beyond the now.

Yet I do have scars inflicted by the "other side". People tell me that it's a shame I don't have a family. As though a lack of offspring renders my marriage somehow lesser. I've been asked to work overtime to fill in for coworkers who have children, as though evenings spent doing adult things are more easily tabled than Gymboree classes. I've filled two posts while "the other girl" is out on paid maternity leave--without any extra pay for myself. And of course there's health insurance. My spouse and I pay the same "family" coverage premium as do folks with 2,3,4 kids. That message is clear. We aren't a family unless we need to be for subsidies' sake. (I, however, do my best to make the insurance thing come out even, as I have a chronic illness.) Worse, though, than any of these was sitting in my old church last Christmas Eve and being told by the "pastor" that the reason we are alive is to have children, that Christmas is for and about children and that the only purpose of celebrating is to bring joy to children. My unmarried sister, gay brother, husband and I were all kinda crushed. "Merry Christmas, you sad and selfish bastards!"

These are the messages that the childless endure at every level of society. I can only truly speak for myself, but I do think that a lot of the impatience we register with other people's children is an extension of that. We're repeatedly reminded by society that we're inadequate. Yet we're expected to play by the rules. We pay property taxes to fund schools and are the first hit up for fundraisers since we have all the extra money not spent on braces and BuildABear. Miraculously, there also seems to be another set of rules. Children are both sacred and hard to manage. Forgetting that we childless didn't spring whole from the head of Zeus, we are asked to excuse behaviour our parents never excused in us.

I never wanted to be in a war. I never wanted to be the enemy. When I was a kid I just wanted to grow up so that people would treat me with more dignity. This greener grass hasn't been working out so well. Now I'd just like to eat my dinner and watch my movie in peace.

21 November, 2005

Stick To It....

Twelve years ago I was hit head-on by a semi on I-40 West. I braked to miss a driver changing lines, hit a patch of black ice and spun around, ending up back to front. The driver of the semi had slowed down enough that the impact didn't kill me. Actually, it didn't even hurt that much, thanks to seat belts and really large boobs. God's air bags, I like to call 'em. Anyway, since I figured this qualified as a near-death experience I decided to do something I had always wanted to do. We were broke and owed money so backpacking through Europe was out. So I taught myself to knit.
I started off small--stockinette stitch scarves that curled upon themselves like thirsty plants. There's really not much to a scarf, other than the therapeutic forth and back of the stitches. Shame I live in Tennessee where the demand for scarves is scarce. Thankfully I was related to a lot of teachers in Indiana who had Recess Duty. Lucky them, with clunky homemade scarves. I bit off a lot to chew and decided to knit sweaters. God help the poor people who were recipients of those bulky, shapeless creations. Come to think of it, my poor sister has been the victim of a lot of knitting generosity. Knitting a sweater can be like surviving a Russian Winter, though. It's a long hard slog to the end, which is never as warm and pleasant as you dreamed. So, I came down off the sweater kick with the most addicting knitting known to man. Socks. There is nothing more habit forming that sock knitting. Nothing like the thrill of turning the heel and binding off the toe. But now I'm back to afghans. They're just larger scarves, really. A lot of forth and back, lost in the pattern. It's got a certain zen. Knitting has been shown to have health benefits similar to yoga. I do swear that it calms me down, centers me and brings me a nice bit of inner peace.
Yesterday I saw someone in the NiT aggregator use the term UFO. Another knitter! I'm thrilled because through her I'm finding bunches of people who knit and blog. I don't know what I'll do now that I can combine knitting with writing. If my fingers don't fall off I'll be lucky.

Let's just pray that my yarn addiction doesn't rear its ugly head again.

20 November, 2005


The Universe's Official Spokesperson has asked that I go find some other nerd-bait to post about. Which leaves my head spinning. You'd think that the UOS of all people would realize just how much nerd-bait is floating around out there right now, and give me some more guidance than THAT!

I know I've not posted much other than nerd-bait for awhile, but I'm writing for me. And it's much safer to have an opinion about Harry Potter (unless that opinion is the extremely stupid one about Harry and Hermione falling in love) than it is to have an opinion about the Iraq war, the homeless, and whether we should say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". But, since I'm thinking about it, here--scattershot--are my opinions on various nerdly and political issues. Just to clear my head, so to speak.

I have no idea. I can see both sides of the issue. I'm just glad that I'm not in any position of power.

Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays
I'm kinda with Josh Tinley on this one. "Merry Christmas" is good with family and friends. But with stores, I don't think they have the Birth of Christ on their mind. So, "Happy Holidays" is good when Wishing Big at Sears. And don't bother telling me about how Christmas actually has it's origins in a pagan holiday so calling it Christ's Birthday is a joke. I took Anthro 101, TiVo the History Channel and was in Women's Studies at Indiana University. Therefore, I know full well about the origin of most holidays. The fact remains that millions of us in the here and now DO choose December 25 as a day to honour the Christ Child. As a bitter, nasty, disfunctional old man once said "You keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine."

Harold Ford Jr.
He annoys me. He reminds me of a villainous character in a Southern Gothic Melodrama. Cue one Spoiled Senator's Son. His temper tantrum on the floor of the house was embarassing. And I don't know why there are a million frat boys out there who think that having a Ford Blog is cool. Part of me thinks it would be ironically hip to get one of those NASCAR Calvin-peeing on a Ford symbol. And, just so we're all clear--> it's not because he's a democrat. It's because he doesn't have any manners. Which is why I think the ill-mannered Calvin thing would be funny, and why I won't do it. Cause I try to have some manners in politics.

I like it. It's still one of my favourite Holidays.

Tirades about Materialism
Here's the thing, as I see it. We've all seen the Charlie Brown Christmas special. It's been trendy for half a century to bitch about the commercialization of Christmas. I don't mind it. In my opinion, there are three layers of The Holiday Season. There's the sacred layer, which includes focused corporate worship like lighting advent candles, singing Away In A Manger and reading the Christmas Story from Luke. There's the Familial layer, which every family does in a slightly different way. It's the foods they eat, the gifts they give and when they give them. Then there's the Social Layer. That's all the lights in the stores and along the city streets. That's the Salvation Army bellringers, the special activities at Opryland and the shopping. It's the sappy Hallmark commercials on TV. For two months a year, there is a buffet of activities from which anyone and everyone can pick and choose. We all have a fundamental need for celebration and for a break from the ordinary. The Holliday Season gives us that. Again with the Scroogery--We can all keep Christmas in our own way. I would hope that everyone can experience the joy of Christ, because that to me makes for the most fulfilling Christmas. But I begrudge no one their own personal method of celebration.

I know that Lacy thinks it's addicting. And it seems like the newest Nerd-Bait out there. But something about it reminds me of Algebra Story Problems and really scares me.

Age Of Empires III
I want this game. Badly. Of course, the Mac Port won't be ready for another eleventy months, and I don't like to play games on Tim's machine. So, I must deal with Patience.

Walk The Line
I've loved Johnny Cash for a long time. I want to see this movie. I think maybe I'll see it on Black Friday.

Black Friday
If you want to get up at 3:00 in the morning to buy a cheap TV, be my guest. Just know that deep down in my heart I think you are absolutely crazy. But I guess if that's the way you like to celebrate, I don't begrudge you. (See above)

Stupid Christmas Requests
Don't tell me all you want is world peace or some other Beauty Queen answer. I am not prepared to buy you world peace. I'll get you scented soaps. It's stupid to just want World Peace for Christmas. You should want world peace all year. And you know full well you won't get it, so you're just saying you want it to be smug and feel superior. Like "Ha! You said you wanted the Harmon/Kardon iPod Brain, and I said I wanted all the children of Africa to have the love of two parents! I'm SUCH the much better person!"

There. I'm finally off hold with the Apple Customer Support Line, so I can be done typing now.

19 November, 2005

This Little Light Of Mine

I was going to post this as a comment over at Jason's Blog because I don't want my blog to become the anti-theatre blog. But I can't get into his comment section right now, and I still want to be able to pose my question to the Universe.

When we saw HP:GOF at the IMAX (oooh, look. I'm talking in code!) last night they had their usual announcements. The movie was sold out and they wanted us to move all the way to the center of the row. Trash should be thrown in the bins and not on the floor. But then the single oddest comment I've ever heard from theatre personnel:

"When we get ready to start the movie it gets very dark in here. Parents of small children, if you want to use your cellphone as a light, that's fine. We understand and we'll let you do that."

If you've never been to the IMAX movie, you may not realize that they kick the whole thing off with a three-minute spiel about the technology of the IMAX experience. I personally think this is solely to convince you that you paid an extra $3.00 a ticket for a good reason, as most people don't care one iota about the powerful Xenon lamps and the millions of tiny holes. They kick off this speech by having near-total darkness in the auditorium. For about 20 seconds.

All of this as a lead-in to my Question for the Universe:

If you have a child who is so frightened of a half-minute of darkness that you must light his face with a cellphone, why have you brought him to a PG-13 movie featuring moving skeletons, gravestones, skulls, snakes, dragons and death? All on a screen that is three times larger than a regular cinema screen. It would seem to follow that if Junior's nerves are that touchy, perhaps he ought to watch the film at home when it comes out on DVD. Not only will it be lighter in your house, but he will coincidentally be at least six months closer to 13.

18 November, 2005

Goblet of Fire: Best Adaptation Yet

No Spoilers

After a slight hiccup in plans--okay, huge hiccup (our show was sold out)--Tim and I saw the much anticipated Harry Potter film on the IMAX. As predicted, that was a great way to see it. Not only did the incredible imagery completely envelope me, but the $11.50 price tag seemed to prove daunting to all but the serious filmgoers.

Unlike with previous Potter films, I "spoiled" myself for the layout of the film ahead of time. After having read the book a round dozen times, listened to it on my iPod once and discussed every nuance in exhaustive detail, I figured I had a pretty good idea of the twists and turns of the plot. With the other three films my disappointment seemed to hinge on what was missing from the book. I spent the first viewing each time hoping for this scene or that line of dialogue, and then being thoroughly peeved. It kept me from enjoying the parts that did make it to the screen.

It's possible my enjoyment of this film is due wholly to this experiment, but I'd like to think that more credit lies with two people in particular: Mike Newell and Patrick Doyle. This film, far more than the other three, made me feel like I was actually at Hogwarts, hanging out with the Gryffindors. In truth, the main reason I read this books repeatedly is because of the sense of environment. It's a place I like to visit, and I enjoy the company of the people. With each of the three previous movies I strongly felt that we were watching Hollywood Brand Cliff's Notes, with all of the action and none of the ambiance.

I had my hopes high that Mike Newell would bring a truer flavour to Goblet. He's a master at catching the nuances of human interaction. I loved Four Weddings and a Funeral (in spite of Andie MacDowell). But the film that really intrigued me about the possibility of Newell was Mona Lisa Smile. Not much good can be said about that movie overall, but Newell's handling of the dorm scenes made it watchable. He managed to really bring life to four characters that the script had rendered trite. Given that Hogwarts is the ultimate boarding school, I thought that the possibilities of Newell bringing Hogwarts to life were excellent. And he didn't disappoint.

I was discussing the film with my sister (who was sidetracked by the omissions from the bookstory) and I mentioned how much I liked Patrick Doyle's music. She: "I didn't notice it." Me: "Exactly". I apologise to the vast majority of Harry Potter Nation for going public about how strongly I disliked John Williams' score for the first three. I'm not a musician of any sort, so the best way I can describe it is that it sounded like music boxes. Very tinkly-sparkly and extremely artificial. I imagine it was to convey a sense of whimsy and wonder, yet it always struck me as too precious. The real 'magic' world of the British Isles is harder, darker and more seductive. Patrick Doyle's score with it's heavy Celtic influences seemed more like the ambient music of a Wizards' School in the Scottish Highlands. Having a less intrusive, more organic score did a lot to pull me into the Wizarding World and keep me rooted there.

I'm really pleased with Goblet as a whole. It doesn't approach the book, of course, but unlike the other three films I think it is a worthy companion piece for its corresponding novel.


There were two parts I was disappointed with, primarily because I feel like they were cut solely for the sake of saving money. For movies that gross so much, it seems miserly.

1. At the Quidditch World Cup, the Weasley Group is very decidedly in the Top Box with Fudge et. al. In the film, they are relegated to the cheap seats. Not only that, we are treated to a stupid monologue from Lucius and Draco about how the Malfoys' Top Box seats make them better people. The only reason I can think for this is the filmmakers' desire to not spend the money on the set for the Top Box. Purple curtains and gilt chairs are much more of a pain than a wooden railing.

2. One of the most touching parts of the book is when Harry, assuming he has no family to care about his performance in the final task, is surprised by a visit from Molly and Bill Weasley. A three-minute scene with Molly and Bill was sorely needed for the texture of the movie because the jolt of jumping straight into the third task was unpleasant. In addition, the visit is crucial to the larger story arc, because this is where Fleur Delacour meets Bill. The girl uproots her life, moves to England and plays a large part in future novels, all because of this first encounter. I'm guessing it would have been too much of an expense to bring in the two additional actors. That's a shame, because the film would have benefitted highly.

Random Questions:

--? Why is Gambon permitted to portray Dumbledore in such a distasteful way?
--? Can we replace Gambon with anyone? At this point I feel strongly that Queen Latifah would make a better Dumbledore.

Classic Misdirection

So I actually wrote a post today. But it isn't here. It's over at Tangled Up In Blue because it is vaguely musical and I'm trying to help keep that blog alive.

Where'd The WMDs Go?

Good Article that explains it all.

17 November, 2005

CNN Has No Business Covering This Story

Bruce Barry over at PITW points out the latest from CNN about torture in Iraq.

I hate the idea of torturing another human being under any circumstances. It is base, animalistic and does not honour Christ.

However, I have no desire to hear CNN grandstanding about it now. They were the ones who kept quiet about rape, torture and murder under Saddam's regime because they didn't want to lose their front-row seat to events in Iraq. It was the ultimate journalistic triumph of style over substance. Now that they know the new boss ISN'T the same as the old boss, they've got religion and bold-faced headlines.

It's disgusting.

Business Cards & Letterhead

I rarely write about my work because, well, who cares? Work is work. But this is important, so I'm going to step away from the chitchat and speak from the heart.

If you want a good business card or office stationery, make sure the person designing it was once an assistant.

Or secretary. Or Administrative Professional. Or whatever you want to call those of us who know where the bodies are buried, who you have to call to get the copier fixed and what time the UPS man picks up from the lobby. In the world of visual overload, graphic designers like me are a dime a dozen. Photoshop & Quark have been the great equalizer--turning the painstaking process of prepress into a no-brainer. Now everyone who hangs out at Fark.com can call themselves a Graphic Designer. And that's a good thing, I guess. Except when they're designing business cards and letterhead. Why? Because when an artist gets his hands on any blank canvas, it becomes a forum for his creativity. And while it may be cute as all heckfire (sorry, Tim W.), it makes for a lousy business card. I can't count the number of cards I've thrown in the trash because the cute picture of an oceanliner (Suzanne Cruise Creative Agency) or artist's palette (more artists than I can count) obscured any useful information. LIke the person's phone number.

See, the people who keep the business cards AND USE THEM are not your peers in the industry. They are the secretaries and the housewives who will use your services. They don't care if you have a photo of the Lincoln Memorial.
They want to know how to reach you. Period. So make sure you have your name, your address, your phone #, your fax #, your email and your website. That's it. Make sure they're clearly printed and easily read. If you can get all that on there and still have room for a tiny logo, go for it. And never, under any circumstances, use the Comic Sans font. That will forever be the Beanie Baby font, and communicates to the entire world that you have no business having your own business.

Oh, and one other thing. Paper. The best way to make sure that people keep your card is to make them feel a part of the card. So print your card on a paperstock that will allow people to write notes on the back. It may seem cute to have a business card that's "just like a credit card", but in the long run people will chuck it. Same with magnetic cards. Unless you deliver pizza, magnetic cards won't get kept.

Pssst....Don't You Think That Yogurt Is Fat?!

Wow. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Kleinheider appears to have nominated me for a 2005 Weblog Award in the Best Culture/Gossip category. Pretty cool...thanks! I had no idea this sort of thing was going on. I just need to figure out how to post my nominations.

16 November, 2005

Thankfulness II

The last theme of my thankfulness was kind of a tiny, out of the way sort of noun. I've thought for a couple of days about breaking this one down, but I can't so I don't think I will. It's too big and too important. In a nutshell, I'm thankful for other people's boldness. There are so many things in the world that make my life easier and more enjoyable--from aspirin to roller coasters. Every single one of these things exists simply because someone had the idea and was bold enough to see the it through. Sure, their motivations may have been as base as money or as grandiose as striving for immortality. In the end it doesn't matter. We still have disposable Kleenex, better feminine hygiene products, TiVos and Coca-Cola. And I'm thankful.

One Step Ahead Of Them

Your Blog Should Be Purple

You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything.
You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey.
You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.

15 November, 2005

Fins In The Water On The WB

I hate to say it, but I think that the Dames de Gilmore might just be firing up the outboard and strapping on the skis. Who would have thought that with Rory aging so gracefully, they would feel the need to bring in a young, smart, wise-cracking girl to take her place?

The minute our ungainly heroine popped up in the diner with her smart mouth and stupid helmet I started to flash back to the days of Raven Symone on the Cosby Show. You know--once Rudy Huxtable lost her cute they brought in the second-string. I see many convoluted episodes of April bonding with Luke, chatting with Lorelei and making scientific wedding favours.

I am only disappointed that the writers passed up the golden opportunity. The Science Fair scene would have been peerless if he had actually said "I am your father. Luke."

iMac Update

Stitch (My iMac) is back in the saddle, thanks to a very patient Tim who was willing to sheperd her forth and back to the Apple Store.

Apparently her problem was a faulty logic board. Good thing it's still under warranty, because that's a $700 *gulp* part. I guess the "bad memory" error was a red herring.

TV Preachers

Why do I care if CSI Catherine Willows is pro-choice and supports stem-cell research? Why is that an excuse for her to behave rudely in the course of questioning a person for her investigation?


Wow. I think this may be the first (or second? not sure) time I've been tagged. Michael has bestowed this honor, and I hope to rise to the challenge.

1. FLIP open a dictionary and point to a word.
2. Type the word into Google images.
3. PICK an image that strikes you.
4. Write a 10 line RIFF off the image.
5. Use the word or the meaning of the word at least once within the first 5 lines of your riff.
6. Tag 3 other bloggers on your list.

Like Michael, I tend toward the fibre-free version of the dictionary, so I'm stuck using A Year With C.S. Lewis as my wordly reference point.

The Word: Under

The Image:

The Riff: It had been years since Linda had been able to read a book like a normal person, with it in her lap on the couch or resting on the table. In order to make any sense of the words at all, she had to hold any reading material at arms' length. Out here on the lawn under the oaks was no exception. She and Chuck planted the trees when they moved into their dream home twenty-four years ago, and at last the former saplings were looking like stately old trees. Unfortunately, both Chuck and Linda were looking like stately old people. "Ah, Darling! I'm afraid I'm turning over a new leaf!" (Chuck seemed to find this extremely funny. Whenever they read in the arbor he announces every page-turning this way.) Linda looked away from her book and smiled at the man she'd stuck herself with in her youth. She didn't want reading glasses because she always wanted to be able to see him this way. Without glasses he still looked young and she could pretend that they and the trees were new here.

There. That's 10 lines. There's more to Chuck and Linda, but I could go on all day and that wouldn't be good for anybody.

Man. Who do I tag? How about Pam, Huck, and Kleinheider. Yeah. Kleinheider.

14 November, 2005


Since, as many people point out, Thanksgiving is fast going the way of the dinosaur--destroyed by the massive meteorite of Christmas Marketing, I plan to spend this week blogging about things for which I'm thankful. No doubt I'll throw some of the other opinions in there along the way. But really, with all the peas I constantly blog about I figure I could spend a few days writing about the mattresses. Was that just the worst metaphor ever? Probably. But I like it, so I think I'll leave it in. And yes, I'm thankful for freedom of speech, including the freedom to write abysmally.

Yes, I'm thankful for all the typical things--husband, house, housepets and clothes. But that seems to be a cheat. It's interesting to me that we live in a country where we ALL have so much to be thankful for that any recitation of gratitude, no matter how short, seems trite. (Audience: "Yeah, we know--you're thankful for This Great Nation, yada yada") And of course being an unashamed Christian you know I'm thankful for Jesus' death and resurrection, the Anabaptist reformation and (*surprisingly*) many of the Wesleyan hymns. These are all the greatest of gifts.

The smaller gifts are the grace notes I intend to celebrate this week. Today's item of gratitude is the inkpen. Ball-point, Gel, Felt-tip. They've been around my whole life and they seem like a bit of nonsense. You can buy them for a quarter, if you can't pick one up for free at the many places where they're given away. Not so many years ago, writing something required a bit of a production. You had to have pen nibs with ink to dip them in. You had to have a blotter handy to absorb the excess ink, and you had to be a good judge of how much ink it took to write something fully. Otherwise you ended up with a scratchy mess of unevenly distributed gobs of blue-black gunk. Once they invented the fountain pen, you could discard the inkwell, but still had the problems of nibs that would split, ink that wouldn't flow evenly and blotches of blue in your shirt pocket. Writing required more consideration, and more even surfaces. Not any more. Now we have easily acquired and readily adaptable pens. You can write anything pretty much anywhere and at a moment's notice. Your mind can be free and thoughts can be freely noted. I think that's great. And I'm thankful for it. I love being able to jot. And this is a lot of words to write about jotting. So I'm done.

13 November, 2005

Jesus Would Vote For Mao

There are conversations that leave my head spinning from time to time. The one I'm having over at John Hutchenson's with a new (to me) guy called Gary S. is one of those.

Gary tells us that
Somehow my Christain roots likes the second method [Communism] much more than the first [Facism] and I really, really hope that all Americans are to the left of the center point of the line between communism and fasism.

When I was much younger, the Communists were the big villains. Everyone loved to hate them, until it suddenly became fashionable to make friends with Russian circus clowns and hope that the Russians loved their children too. The Nazis with their cool outfits and well-publicized genocides were au courant villains. They're still the only villians you can have without worrying about a lawsuit. That's why the last Tom Clancy movie replaced the Islamofacist villains of the book with the love-to-hate-'em Nazis.

Communists and Facists are natural enemies, like the Sharks & the Jets. Perhaps because one (Communism) rests and the far left of the spectrum, with the other (Facism) at the far right. We currently have a right-of-center president, and his biggest detractors skew leftward. So maybe that's why we hear cries of "Bush-Hitler" and not "Bush-Stalin". Then again, maybe it's because Stalin, although a much more bloodthirsty tyrant than Hitler, isn't as sexy a villain. Those Soviets, off in their cold and remote country with their vodka and their gypsies just don't make for as rip-roarin' a tale, do they? Many people here in the States know at least one family directly affected by the Nazi Holocaust. We've all read Anne Frank's diary and seen Schindler's List. But the millions more killed by Stalin were back behind that Iron Curtain. Who cares about them? It's too cold to film those stories on location.

So now we've accepted this world where Facism, cloaked in the steel gray of the SS is the great evil. Communism, by comparison, seems to be this slightly misunderstood but really not all that bad way to make sure old people get perscription drugs and everyone has three hots and a cot. We have willed ourselves to forget the outlawing of faith, the terror of the gulag and the sacrifice of individualism. Pardon me if I'm not so eager to embrace either one. For all its faults, we live in one of the few countries where the individual is allowed to exist on his or her own terms. I'd much rather be free to make my own choices and my own mistakes. I think that's why God granted us free will. I'm not about to subsume that gift of God to any governmental system, no matter how convenient it may be for homeless gypsies.

Kleinheider points out that I have completely misspelled "fascist" and "fascism" repeatedly. How Fascist of him, don't you think? ;-p

Ah, If Only They Ate Bugs!

It's official. Fox has killed Arrested Development.


1. Move it away from their strong comedy block on Sunday Nights, as the lead in for a serious drama.
2. Put it on a five-week hiatus for baseball.
3. Put it up against Monday Night Football.
4. Refuse to run anymore episodes during November Sweeps, and instead replace them with RERUNS of "Prison Break".

Why they didn't just beat this show to death with a pickaxe, I'll never know.

Oh well, on the upside, maybe this will free it up to be purchased by HBO, Showtime or another network where it can thrive. Perhaps they will hear my prayers, or at the very least read the letters I've sent.

In truth, I'm surprised it lasted this long on FOX. They have a habit of killing good tv. This is one show I'd gladly pay-per-view.

12 November, 2005

Episode III Revisited

You know, when you watch it with a 101-degree fever, a good strong dose of DayQuil and a chocolate shake from Jack N The Box, it isn't that bad.

10 November, 2005

If Only "Lost" Were Set In....


...San Francisco. tonight's tragic death could have been avoided. Yes. That's right. On an island surrounded by genetically engineered sharks and chockabloc with wild boar, polar bears and piles of heroin the big Sweeps Event Death was caused by Senseless Handgun Violence. While I would like to be moved by the accidental shooting that robbed us of Shannon's sunny presence, I can't help but feel the show took a sharp left turn into Afterschool Special territory with this one.

But really, that's not a problem. It's to be expected. Television writers seem to be part of a cycle, much like deciduous trees. They start out freshly budding, wanting to entertain and get attention. Once the audience reaches critical mass the writers feel the itch of the bully pulpit. So you get the inevitable shows that preach against the trendy villains of the time. In the 80s it was cocaine abuse, alcoholism, and sexual harrassment. Since about the mid- to late 90's it's been homophobia and guns. You know what I mean. The episodes of ER where someone is wheeled in with a GSW--STAT! The various docs all coo mournfully over this latest Victim Of Senseless Tragedy. Oh look! He's only a teenager! Oh, my! She's pregnant with twins and her husband shot her when she came home early and he mistook her for a rabid racoon! The tears flow and the speechifying starts.

It's irritating. Especially since they don't show the woman who would've been raped if she didn't have the Colt in her handbag.
Or the woman who still has her 18-month old son since she was able to scare off her carjackers with a Glock. Or any of the other 2.5 million times each year that guns protect the lives and property of their owners.

There was no speecifying on tonight's Lost, so that was a minor relief. Yet the point was still the same. Guns=BAD!!!! Unless, of course, you weren't a big fan of Shannon's.

09 November, 2005

I Am Just About Ready To Kill Apple

And I don't mean Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter.

I've been a loyal MacHead for about 15 years now. Macs are very easy to use. Except this one, this week. A month ago the monitor started going out of register. Meaning that everything would shift on the screen, be really blurry and freeze that way for about 10 seconds. Then it was all back to normal. Then I'd be playing Sims2 and watching fake people WooHoo in the HotTub and I'd get a message in about 15 languages that said "You Need To Restart Your Computer". Now, it occasionally has a snowy screen and a really fast-moving fan. (Ah. For the days of the fan-less Mac.)

I was going to type out the boring iterations of the approximately nineteen thousand service-sector employees I've been on hold with for the last two days. But it's bored me to live through and I see no reason to bore you with reading it.

Anyway, at the suggestion of Jennifer in Tech Support ("I'm not really supposed to help you but if I could help you I'd tell you to run the Apple Hardware Test that came with your computer"), I've discovered that I have an ****ERROR CODE****ERROR CODE*****. That's exactly how they word it. With the asterisks and everything.

So what is the error code? Glad you asked.

2 MEM/3/4:DIMM0/J4000

Yeah. Glad I ran that diagnostic. It tells me SO FRIGGING MUCH!!!! I suspect that to those who know the secret handshake it's akin to "Drink More Ovaltine."

Why on earth is the Jeff Goldblum-plugandplaythinkdifferent machine all of a sudden spouting arcana? Where is the love for us hapless average users? Obviously there is a problem. Macs don't go all WonkyFeint on a regular basis. Just tell me what the problem is.

Thank you. Glad I got that off my chest.

And, if you're thinking about going into the comments section and telling me to switch to a PC, don't bother. This is my first major Mac problem in 15 years. The PC I used to use at work puked bolts and code everytime I turned around.

Calling All Nashville Authors!!!

Back by popular demand --

Another Day in the Writer's Room -- Sat. Nov. 19 -- Nashville Public
Library (Main branch) -- 615 Church St.
9:15 - 4:00

Register by calling 862-5853 by the end of Thursday Nov. 17th

We have got a great day planned! River Jordan will inspire and instruct
for a couple of sessions, and there will be a panel of published authors
Steven Womack, Michael Lee West, Eric Wilson, Thom Rutledge and Marshall
Chapman -- and another panel of folks representing different segments of
the publishing business.
Writing workshops led by River Jordan will incorporate instruction on
such topics as:
Writing Your Personal Story
Capturing Space: How to Better Describe Place, Time and Circumstance
Inside/Outside: Discovering the True Writer in You

Hope you can join us for the day, and help spread the WORD!

The Weird Non-Death Deaths

I keep getting spam from Classmates.com in my Excite (lint-trap) email account. Kathy! Come See Who From Ft. Wayne Christian School Has Clicked Your Profile! From the number of these things I get on a weekly basis, there is either a very lonely Crusader out there or an addlepatedly overzealous marketing team. Occasionally I'll take the bait. And it ALWAYS freaks me out. We were, as you may have guessed, a smallish school. There were 26 in my graduating class. We knew each other pretty well, after spending 8-10 hours a day together for 4 years. The day we graduated, we all ate lunch together, walked in the ceremony and sang "Friends Are Friends Forever". And then it.all.just.stopped. Now, if Classmates.com is to be believed, some have 5 children, others sell drugs--er--pharmaceuticals. Tim Haber had a bet that I'd be in a mental institution before I turned 25. Something to do with my being in love with Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, I think. I've never seen the inside of an institution, but I have had a far more interesting life than I meant to.

But people keep dying on me. Not the real kind of death where you bury them and cry and eat ham and fruited jello. The other kind of death where they may as well be deceased, for all you know. You change churches, change jobs, move house and suddenly the people you knew well are strangers. I recently quit my job of four years. (Is this a cycle or a pattern? I seem to become very restless after four years of anything. Except my marriage. Sorry, Bear.) It's only been six months, but people I knew well enough to knit for are now virtual strangers. For the last year I worked there, I spent more waking hours with those folks than my own husband. I knew how much they owed the tax man and how many hours of sleep they got the night before. I knew when they were having their periods, trying to cheat on their boyfriends and trying to keep their devout parents from finding out they were gay. Now I know nothing of their lives. Once again, it's that non-death deceasement. I assume it happens to everyone, this just losing touch thing. But it is still sad. If I ever wanted to be famous, that was the only reason. So that people I knew and thought highly of would be easily able to track me down and let me know how they're doing. I've tried to track a few of them down (Hi, Heather!) but always feel vaguely stalkerish. Especially since I'm very tenacious with digging through public records. Hey, they're called public records, people. Lighten up, Francis.

I guess if I were smart I'd pony up that Gold Membership Fee to Classmates.com and get in touch with somebody.

Darn it. Their marketing IS dastardly!

08 November, 2005

TV For Sale

Huh. First-run episodes of network television for only $0.99 each.


My cable bill is $99.00 already. I get 112 channels, including premiums but not including ambient music. That's 2,688 hours per month of television. Or four cents an hour. Since these shows are actually about 45 minutes each--minus commercials--that's about 3 cents worth of television. So, a markup of roughly 3000 percent. Cool.

Or, to give the networks the benefit of the doubt, let's say I watch roughly 3 hours of TV a day during the week, 7 on the weekends. That's 35 hours a week. Or 140 hours per month. So that's 70 cents per hour. Still leaving us with a markup of 41%.

According to this chart of 30-second Ad Rates for network television, the going rate for advertising on an episode of CSI is $465,000. There are, according to my TiVo, roughly 20 of these ad slots available. That's $9,300,000 in ad revenue for one episode. It would take only nine and a half million downloads to far surpass earnings via a ppv model versus an ad revenue model. Will nine and a half million people pay to watch an uncut episode of CSI? A top episode is watched by about 18million households. It is conceivably possible that within five years television may move to a ppv distribution model.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It will be harder to interest people in unproven shows, but there will be more pressure to create high-quality, saleable televsion. HBO has long had the strongest quality line up in programming, with fewer shows--all of which are better-produced than the average network show. Regardless, you will receive less quantity in a ppv model and therefore do far less surfing. I doubt anyone, save my mother, will pay 99 cents to watch old episodes of "Changing Rooms".

07 November, 2005


TiVo and YaHoo are merging kinda. Not sure how this affects my predictions about a long-range partnership between TiVo and Apple, but it seems like this could be a good thing. Now, if someone would hear my prayers they would make the IMDB available through TiVo. That way Tim and I wouldn't have to sit through entire shows saying "What did we just see her in?" and "Is that the same guy who plays Titus Pullo in Rome?"

First Annual Nashville Potterphile Blogger Nerd Meet Up Thingie

I'm being obnoxious and I know it. So I'm stepping all over the toes of the official Blogger Meet Up people, whoever they are, and staging my own event.

Harry Potter is opening on Friday, November 18th. There is a 7:00pm showing on the IMAX screen at Shopryland. It costs $11.50.

I will be there. Tim will be there. I'm pretty sure the best movie reviewer in the Nashosphere will be there. I'd love for anyone else to be there too. It'll be fun. Come on. You know you're gonna see the movie anyway. Why not see it with a bunch of cool people? And if they're not going, come see it with me.

It's Alright, Ma--We're Barely Breathing

over at Tangled Up In Blue. But I posted there anyway. I'm not willing to see it all go down with the ship yet.

Now if only Glen would switch it back to a Blogger Template....

06 November, 2005

The Movies Are Dead

Well, not even a supercute baby chicken and a whiny fat pig can save the movies from themselves. Why?

Yes, I know we've covered this ground before, but so has the major media and yet they are still whining about it as though mystified by the strange behaviour of the sheep in flyover country. I'm here to tell you that I (unsurprisingly) have the answer. Sure, we can go on and on about how movies generally are teh suck and you get get them for nothing on BitTorrent and everyone now has a state-of-the-art home entertainment system. All that is true. But what is even more true is that the poor beleagured theatre managers have slowly strangled their golden goose over the last decade.


It used to be limited to "Let's all go to the looooobbbbyyyyy and buyourselvesasnack!" with the dancing popcorn and the phallic hotdog. Now it turns any 90 minute feature into a three-hour snore with talking paper bags and faux hippies extolling the virtues of sugarless drink. Great. Fake hippes, fake cola, fake people. And then there are the ads for television shows. TNT may know drama, but do they fully comprehend how little I care? And how I'd rather spend $9.00 to have Hare Krishnas throw hot wax on my armhair than listen to former actors from 'ER' talk about how much they love to cry? And then there are the previews for the movies no one wants to see, but they show the previews so many times that you are rooting for the movie to do badly. If I saw a shirtless The Rock--who looks like a giant circumcised penis when he has no shirt on--once this summer I saw him 10 times. Clue: if I want to see DOOM, I'll play it. If I want to see a giant penis blow things up, I'll hire a therapist or start my own graphic novel business. Or maybe both.

In a world where TiVos are flying off the shelves and much is made of the busy lifestyles of the American people, you'd think theatre owners would figure it out. It's time to rework the paradigm.

1. Kill visual advertising. It eats into the time. People want more time, not less.
2. Sell real food. People like to eat. Let them eat during their movies. And eat real food. Try a Panera or Atlanta Bread Company that sells relatively non-odorous eats with a touch of class. Bagels work well, as does frozen yogurt. Just no pizza or McDonalds.
3. Slather your dining areas, menus, food wraps, etc. with print advertising. And coupons.
4. Announce preview times seperate from movie start times. Charge $.25-$.50 less if people come for the previews. Sort of like charging less for free TV than for premium cable. It works well in that paradigm, why not in the movies too?
5. Every theatreplex has multiple screens. Reserve at least one screen for popular movies that is "adult only". Not porn. Just no kids kicking your seat, screaming, crying, throwing popcorn etc. It'd be a huge motivator for adults who want to spend adult time with other adults. The Y has adult-only locker rooms and adult-only swim hours. It works for them, and they're a family business. Why not do it with theatres?

I've always toyed with the idea of opening my own theatre and playing by these rules. If no one else takes me up on it, maybe someday I will. And we'll have the used bookstore right next door. Coble Nerdplex to the rescue.

Charon In The Afternoon

It is none of it real
In the sense that it was someone's thought first
and didn't spring whole from earth and rain.
It is made as we are all made--from thirst
For Joy and the hope of the Continual Same.
It works as we all work for money. To redeem
Time from entropy buying back the breeze

Oh how we hoped for summer days with sun
And the children that we should have been with the ease
We did not remember having.

I rode this boat with you when you were not you
When my dreams were for the tomorrows
And not of the yesterdays and Death
Was only a place I met once in a blanket.

I am a poor poet, rolled trousers do not suit me
And the angels I know are all talk. Slainte Mhath

05 November, 2005

Mickey's Fat Camp

I'm back from my blog hiatus. To keep my house from being robbed/rolled/Jehovah's Witnessed I didn't publicly announce my departure for Disney World.

But I went, I saw, I conquered. I walked miles and miles each day, stood in lines and lost a good number of pounds and inches. I didn't intend to lose weight, but you know it's a good vacation when that happens. You also know that you didn't spend as much time at the Food & Wine Festival as you had initially planned.

I'll have an in-depth trip report for all the Disney World junkies out there in a day or two. The Highlight Reel goes something like this:

1. Other people's parenting styles leave a great deal to be desired. Hint: You may have gotten to the place where you can ignore the constant screaming of Dylan/Austin/Taylor/Devon but the rest of us on the monorail haven't.

2. If you are so fat that you can't walk around Epcot or the Magic Kingdom under your own power and must rent a Rascal (TM) motorized scooter, for the love of your heart and lungs do NOT stop at every food stand for funnel cakes, Cokes and Mickey Head Ice Cream Bars. Also, kindly do not drive said motorized scooter over my foot in front of the Morocco Pavillion.

3. There is no better antidote to what ails you than a long time in the Wave Pool at Typhoon Lagoon.

4. I highly recommend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. It IS not so scary, there's a lot of candy, and you can ride all the good rides in about 45 minutes. And the fireworks rocked.

5. The person who housesat for me did an excellent job. I got home to two happy dogs, a clean house (which I wasn't expecting) and --unlike last year--didn't have to take a stressed-out Bernese Mountain Dog to the emergency vet to treat stress diarrhea. I highly recommend having an in-home pet sitter if your dogs are as spoiled integral to the family as mine are.

6. I'm so glad to be back. And if you've installed the newest quicktime on your iMac, it can screw up your videocard, so install the update.