31 March, 2006

Why The Ads?

I haven't ever had ads here, and hadn't planned on adding ads. Because, really, who is gonna see 'em? The same five people who have them on their own site.

But then Terry Heaton came up with this really cool Nashville RevShare ad campaign. I was signed on for that, but then I guess it's taken longer to hammer out than Terry expected. Which is fine--I am married to a man who has a similar job and I know all of the wrenches--monkey, Allen, whathaveyou--that get thrown into these types of things.

Then yesterday I saw that 2 Retire @ 50 was actually making money from AdSense. My next thought was "Why him and not me?", immediately followed by "I'll be eighteen cents richer than I was before!" So I signeded meself up. Of course, the ads are tailored to the content, which given my writing style means that the poor Google AdSense people are going to get whiplash trying to decide what to put up there.

As long as I get my eighteen cents, I'll be happy.


Because NK freaked me out, I took down the picture of my account in a marginal effort to appease the PTB. We'll see if I avoid a C&D now.

Hot Music City News

I blog the latest big Nashville News over at Metroblog Nashville. Click thru for enlightenment.

Armageddon Poetry

I don't know what I believe about the end times, really. Our pastor gave a seminar on his interpretation of Revelation that has several people at the church riled.

People are always fascinated with The Revelation of Jesus Christ...unto St.John. (Pet peeve--people who call the book "Revelations". That's not the name of the book. It is Revelation ...no 's'.) Thanks to the Left Behind series, even more people are enraptured (hah!) by the idea of their ordinary dull lives turning into a breathtaking adventure--thanks to God and his early withdrawl policy.

Like any self-respecting Christian child of the 70s I read Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth, which was able to accomplish in one book what took Jenkins and LaHaye a full shelf and a half to accomplish. Add to that a viewing of the always-creepy Thief In The Night rapture movie--the Twilight Jesus Zone film that will scare even the believers half out of their wits--and you have my love-hate relationship with The Last Days.

As terrified as I am at any mention of bar codes inserted under the skin or wars being fought in territories close to Meggido, I am still not sure of how literally I take the imagry of the Apocalypse.

Regardless, I love the book of Revelation because it is some of the most beautiful poetry you'll find in the Bible. Granted, I'm of the T.S. Eliot school of poetry, where things don't have to make sense on first glance as long as you are caught up in the imagry and music of the words. Only later do you find that all of the words not only make sense on one level, they make sense on a thousand levels--like notes between notes in the baroque Mozart.

I pulled two of my favourite passages (Rev. 19: 11-18; 21:3-7) for examples over at Glen Dean's yesterday. To me the image of the White Horse and His Rider, along with the image of the Comfort of the Alpha and Omega are some of the most stirring words put to paper.

Some other beautiful imagry:

"And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of haprist playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the thrown throne and before the four living creatures and the elders."

It makes no sense if you read it, but it makes perfect sense if you feel it. Kinda like Eliot.

30 March, 2006

Vonage Blows

I know that Patrick loves them so much that he's even gotten a free hat from the company. But I'd be darn near death from shock if I could even get them to set up the service right.

Here's how it's supposed to work:

1. You buy some box thingy that lets your phone work over your internet connection.
2. You call them to set up the service, and give them the name of the people who referred you so those phonepimpers can get a free month. Here's the first problem. Apparently Mr. Tim (as this dude on the other line keeps calling ME) didn't say the name of our referring party at just the right point in time, our "benefactors" didn't get their free months.
3. They set everything up and call your old phone company to have the number moved from BellSouth to Vonage.
Here's the other problem It's been 9 weeks. We're presently paying both bills, and calling Vonage every 48 hours. Each time we call we get the "free beer tomorrow" treatment. They keep claiming they've escalated us, and to call back for the final status in 48 hours. I am currently on hold for what will be the 6th set of "48 hours"es.

Why do I press on? Quite simply, it's my greed. Our BellSouth bill would be $90.00 minimum, not counting the increased long distance from having two active home offices telecommuting with North Carolina, Florida and Texas. Add to that the fact that we've already sprung a fifty for the Vonage Box Thingy®. Theoretically when this is up and running our monthly bill will be a flat $30.00, with unlimited long distance. We've also bought the special local numbers for both our families' convenience. So, to quote Mel Gibson in Braveheart "Some of us are in this thing."

But really, I would highly discourage you from attempting to join Vonage if you have a history of high blood pressure, risk of stroke or are in the early months of pregnancy. Or have inherited your father's Welsh temper.

How Mitch Hurwitz Broke My Heart

He has lost interest in producing Arrested Development for Showtime.

I'm severely bummed, but grateful to Hurwitz for the 2.5 years of the best TV show ever made. I hope he will once again turn illusions for money.

Chocolate Vine II: Revenge Of The Wrens

Clearly the cold snap did no lasting harm to the Chocolate Vine (aka The Pretty But Otherwise Cockroachish Plant).

Yet we have a new dilemma. Birds enjoy making a home within its fragrant branches. I feel much the same about birds as I do pretty much anybody else. They're free to enjoy their lifestyle as long as it doesn't cause me harm. Any consequences are between them and God. Unfortunately, their lifestyle now constitutes perching right above my head as I try to read on the swing. When they aren't perching, their wings are making that Hitchcockian flappety-flap noise that makes me see clowns and ventriloquist's dummies marching toward me in malicious lockstep. When they ARE perching, their bowels are relaxed. And you know what I fear to happen next.

No, I have not yet been crapped on by the tiny birds. But I find myself living in dread.

29 March, 2006

A Chinaman's Chance

Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

And so Judeo-Christian history takes off--with an immigrant. It's safe to say that leaving one's homeland in search of a better life is not a new concept. The United States was built on immigration, as anyone will rush to tell you. Irishmen fleeing the potato famine were girded for Civil War, and Chinese who took the boats eastward handled the dynamite when building the railroads. In both cases it took decades for those self-sacrificing people to realise their place as rightful Americans alongside the English, Dutch and French who had the fortune to have fled their famines and civil wars a century earlier. Until 1882, all immigration was legal. Since that time our immigration policy has been constantly evolving as it tries to adapt to the shifting economic, political and social geoclimate. As I see it, it's about time for another evolution of our Immigration Law.

No Wall. I keep hearing about a proposed Wall along our Southern border. Something about this makes me see spots. It's a bit too Maginot/Berlin don't you think? I still remember our drunken jubilation at the Little U.N. in Indianapolis when the Berlin Wall came down. It seems ridiculous to now propose that the Land Of The Free build its own monument to NOKD exclusion.

Increased Border Patrol. More bodies guarding the border means a less porous border. It also means greater border intelligence. There are alot of things a guy in a uniform notices and remembers that a large block of cement can't record.

Increased Pentalty for Businesses That Hire Illegal Immigrants. Take away a business' profit motive and watch how quickly they'll comply with the law.

Work/Study Immigration Plans For those who can't afford the cash-up-front fees to emigrate under our current laws, establish a program whereby they can work a number of years to pay the fees required for full legalisation. Until they acheive full legal status, grant them a partial work visa status. It keeps our labour force inside the borders, gives them a long range goal and allows for greater familiarity of the incoming persons. That'll be good for our security.

Reimburse a portion of the costs of immigration paid by all legal immigrants. Should any immigration "amnesty" reforms be enacted to legalise those currently here illegally I think it's only fair that we pay back some of the money spent by those who had the good sense to play by the rules.

Remove all Federal Withholding from Everybody. I've advocated this before, but I think it is the most essential and most often overlooked key to immigration reform. As long as there is a system of enforced collection in place, those who comply will resent those who do not. We've got a problem with businesses paying people "under the table". So. Remove the table. Pay everyone what they're worth and let them handle their taxation directly with the government. And I mean everything. Most workers are surprised to learn that it costs their employer an average of 40% more to employ them than the worker sees on his paycheck. So remove the burden of a fractured payroll from the businesses entirely. Gone will be the incentive to retain off-books workers. Everyone will be off the books, and the builder can worry about building homes, not playing Nanny for the Federal government.

I'm sure these ideas aren't perfect, but they should be a start. I want to see people have a better life. I want it to be easier than it was for all those who gave their lives to live here. But I want it all done within the bounds of the law.

Have I Stolen?

I'm getting fussy in my old age, what with being generally perturbed by all the people who admit that they spooge off their neighbors' unguarded WiFi or download stuff off BitTorrent.

But then I got to thinking about my computer. Is it a log in my eye?

I'm a huge Lilo & Stitch nut. Last year when I got the Mac I decided to buy CandyBar and IconBuilder so that I could add Icon Creation to my list of "talents". I then made for myself only a series of Stitch Icons for use on my Mac. (Which is named "Stitch")

Technically these are all ®Disney, but I took the art from their "available" download activity pages (coloring pages, promo desktops, etc.) and spent several hours manipulating them. I've never sold or traded the Icons. So, is it wrong?

UPDATE: For those in the "get a life" category, I'd like to point out that this little exercise in Icon building was time spent honing skills I use in my business every day. Time you yourself might have spent either hanging out at Alternet or drunk off your butt playing Doom.

A Confession Re. My Baser Nature

Firstly, I must make a disclaimer. Not every post i write this week is going to include men I find sexy. But to answer the commenters on the previous: Steve Jobs. Duh.

There are no men I find sexy within the contents of this post. I would like to see Ty Pennington's Linus, though. Right before I Bobbit it with a dull, rusty blade.

This morning, NiT linked to a post by everyone's favourite snarky bastige, Sarcastro. The gist: Someone at The Smoking Gun has unearthed ABC's psycho-vulture wishlist for its next season of smarm generousity. Sar laments all who watch the show for our willingness to have our tearducts played with such virtuousity by the Grief Vampires at the Alphabet network.

But there's something that critics of us viewers don't understand. Some of us--like me--watch the show largely for the snark value. After two years of sitting through it, I have made some observations:

1. 90% of the time, if the lucky family is black, at least one member will scream and fall down in the street when they move that bus.

2. 90% of the time, if the lucky family is white, at least one member of the family will act as if they've received nothing more special than a brand new issue of TV Guide.

3. There is always some asinine reason for one of the "designers" to buy nonsense crap at Sears.

4. That one big designer guy (Preston?) will touch every female gift recepient a disproportionate amount. He thinks it's comforting. To the rest of us it looks more than slightly predatory.

5. As the show has progressed the families look more disappointed by not receiving the "extra" gifts. ABC has tapered off the pay-off-your-mortgage-send-all-the-kids-to-college goodies, and the new kids are pissed.

6. The show will trot out that Sweet Alice dame at every available opportunity.

7. Whenever the family members are "big fans" of some c-list entertainer the show will bring that entertainer to the house for a free concert/skateboard park construcion/other deal but only when the family is away on their vacation. This is the most dumbass thing they do, as far as I'm concerned. "Hey, I know you guys are big fans of Little Richard! Guess what! He was here yesterday playing "Tutti Frutti" for us on our lunch break! Isn't that cool? Too bad you missed it. How's Hilton Head?"

There are so many more reasons to both love and hate the show, but I haven't got all day. I do look forward to next year's exploitation of blind children with progeria.

Apple Vs. Apple

The long-awaited showdown is underway.

The Beatles' Apple is suing Jobs' Apple for putting one toe squarely over the line into the music business.
"What Apple Computers are not doing (when) using the Apple mark is selling software, delivery systems, or anything of the like. They are selling music," Vos said. "and that is in violation of the agreement."

Of course I take the Cupertino side in all of this. In my view, the MusicStore is a "delivery system". Apple Computer hasn't branded the songs, they've merely undertaken an efficient successful way to get music to the public.

But of course the whole thing isn't about music. It's about money. The Beatles catalog is ever diminishing in value. With 2 and a half members of the original band deceased (honestly--Ringo?) there are few--if any-- contributions being made to keep frontlist worth. 35 years after the breakup of the band, Apple Music has devovled into a curiosity. But pot and one-legged wives don't come cheap. So you better believe that Apple Music is interested in a royalty payment from the computer company. Record companies have gotten too used to making money for nothing.

It's ironic to see Apple Computer filling the big-money-target role usually reserved for Microsoft. But I can't help wondering how Lennon would see this if he were alive. That dude was always wanting to give stuff away. And in the 60s Apple Music was a classic example of mismanagement. I love how greedy some former hippies get when they realise that life actually is easier when you have money.

It's Not Unu What's New, PusTom Jones

It's inadvertantly turning into "Men I Find Sexy" week. Tom Jones was knighted in Britain. While I'm a fervent anti-royalist (I think the concept of Royalty is stupid except in Heaven), I'm happy for my fellow Welshman.

One question remains: How did Bill Gates and Stephen Spielberg get knighted before Tom?

28 March, 2006

How Don Johnson Murdered Liberty

Back in the 80's there was no one hotter than Don Johnson. From the time Miama Vice hit the airwaves, he was center-stage in my teenage erotic dreams. I was glued to the TV every time the show came on. Hot men, hot cars, hot music--what's not to love? My quest to learn everything about the show even contributed to my winning a Trivial Pursuit tournament my senior year in high school. My opponants chose a sports and leisure question (orange--my weak link) and were surprised that I knew the sport with the fastest balls was Jai-Alai. I knew this because the game played over the opening credits of Miami Vice, so I looked it up at the library to find out more about it.

Clearly I was into the show.

So it should come as no surprise that after years of watching Crockett and Tubbs battle sceevy men over the Miami drug problem that I was hugely in favour of the creation of a Drug Czar and his attendant office. After all, look at the problems Lt. Castillo's team faced with drugs on a weekly basis! When they announced the policy of seizing drug dealer's property, I thought that was cool. I was envisioning all of the illgotten Miami mansions and flashy fast cars being taken away from the wicked Kingpins. And although I was only 18, I'm betting that most of America had the same visions I did. These are the drug dealers, these men from Cuba and Mexico licking uncut cocaine off the naked bodies of sexy teenagers while shooting at TVs.

But that's not who we're fighting, and that's not who we're locking up. We've escalated to taking the property of anyone we think might be guilty, regardless of whether or not they have, in fact, committed a crime. We're permanently taking away all the rights of young men in Alabama who made a mistake.

The drug war had great press from Miami Vice. Maybe it's time we had a TV show with a sexy lawyer in charge of liberating unjustly seized property.

Oh, and funnily enough, the picture here was a poster given to me by a friend for my 16th birthday. My mom wouldn't let me hang it up because he was smoking a cigarette. Ironic that even in Miami Vice world not all drugs are created equal.

Things That Don't Need To Happen

Occasionally a friend or family member will tell you their plans. Because you love them, you either smile and nod or vigorously attempt to persuade them away from what you just know will be a huge mistake. It could be anything from beginning the Adkins Diet to dating a Meth Chef.

But when famous people do the same misguided things, all you used to be able to do is roll your eyes or change the channel. Thanks to blogs, though, the common folk have an outlet for letting the ethereal folk know that their plans are stupid.

Today, I am availing myself of the opportunity.

George, Brad, and Matt, please read closely. You do not need to make Ocean's 13. As cute as the idea sounds (?) to someone, this is a huge mistake. Ocean's 12 was one of the single stupidest movies I've seen in the last five years. The entire time I was watching it I had that Designated Driver feeling you get when you're the only sober person in the room and everyone else thinks their childish nonsequiters are the funniest things in the world. I'm not eager to repeat the experience.

Fellow Christians, please read closely. Let's not have a repeat of the Merry Christmas debacle as we near Easter. Here's the hard truth, folks. Easter started as a pagan holiday celebrated by several different cultures. It honoured fertility and spring planting and all that good Wicker Man stuff. Then Jesus came and died and rose again and the Christians re-established the festival of fertility as their festival of new life in Christ. All the bunnies and eggs are leftovers from the Eostre/Ishtar/Ashtaroth fertility festivals. But since Easter is now the premier Christian Holy Day there are going to be people (like the guy in St. Paul) who want to distance all trappings of it from State buildings. One or two or five or six of these people do not constitute a War On Christians or a War On Easter. So let's just deal with it on a case-by-case basis and not get in high-heather about it. I should think that in light of what we've seen recently in Afghanistan and other places around the globe we'd surely realise that having a Pastel Bunny removed from a courthouse would not be the grevious wrong that some would have us believe.

Kenny Rogers, please read closely. You do not need to release a new album. Stick to the chicken. You haven't had a good song since "Islands In The Stream", and that was only made great by Dolly's participation. And speaking of the chicken, I used to love it. How come you don't have a franchise in Nashville anymore? The Salathai restaurant that it is in the old Roasters building is the worst Thai food in town.

Thank you. Class Dismissed.

27 March, 2006

Awww. Poor Steven Tyler.

So I'm watching Rosanna Arquette's All We Are Saying. Five minutes into it and I already want to smack Steven Tyler. (Disclaimer: I generally always want to smack Steven Tyler. When we were on the Rock N Roller Coaster I was hoping we'd run over his carcass at the speed of sound.)

He is bemoaning the fact that his catalog is worth much less than it's previously-valued $24 Million because "of downloading." He says this mournfully from his perch on the sun-splashed balcony of his sprawling mansion home. Look, I'm not a fan of illegal file sharing--whether it's software, music, movies or games. But my mom is a teacher. The most she ever made in a year was $30K. My sister is a teacher. The most she'll ever make in a year is probably $45K. I'm a writer. The most I'll ever make in a year is flexible, but I'll make it at jobs where my writing is ancillary. Unless I sell my book. Then I'll make (at most) $1/copy. My husband works three jobs (one because he has to, and the other two because he wants to.) He's not pulling down major scratch--but we do okay.

Rock stars like Steven Tyler have heretofore made a lot of money because they had a double monopoly. They have (and always will) have a monopoly on creative product. Then they also chose to participate in the monopoly of distribution known as "the record business." Before Jane MacUser could burn her own CDs of her own (legally purchased or self-written and performed) music, the only place to get an album was from "the industry." They set the prices on the product--and like most monopolies--inflated the price. So that $24 million that Steven Tyler was purportedly worth before the internet was a false figure.

As in capitalism since time immemorial there has been a market correction. Get over it, Tyler. Go swim in your big pool or drive your fancy car. I personally don't think "Walk This Way" is worth more than the 99cent download price.

Morgan Spurlock. What Else Is There To Be Said?

My antipathy for Morgan Spurlock's "investigative methods" has been well-documented. (By me.) So of course it stands to reason that I'd have an opinion about his latest episode of public barfing.

First, let me say this. I have a simple theory that anyone who films him or herself barfing both craves and needs attention entirely too much. We all have "notice-me" behaviours ranging from a light application of lipstick to streaking at football games. But filmed vomiting is in a class(lessness) by itself.

Morgan Spurlock has filmed himself vomiting. And been made famous for it. While I suppose congratulations are in order for his spectacular goal-orientation and acheivement, the fact remains that he's an attention-whore. This is why it is a spectacularly bad idea to invite him to speak at your high school. Of course he'll make fun of the special needs kids. Of course he's gonna rag on McDonald's. That's his schtick. He's made millions of dollars doing exactly that, so don't act all surprised that he followed through in your assembly. Do I think it's right? No. Of course not. There are things polite people don't do. They don't make fun of people with special needs, they don't call people stupid and they don't film their own puke.

And of course there's absolutely nothing attention-whoring about having your own blog. Nothing at all.

26 March, 2006

The Busted Clock That's Never Right

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you may know that sometimes I pride myself on being outside the pack. Not in the soon-to-be-dead gazelle way, but in the iconoclastic beat-of-a-different-drummer way. I blame some of that on growing up in Indiana.

When the rest of the country (except those dotty folk in Arizona) are fooling with Franklin's great time-friggery known as Daylight Savings, Indiana has always minded its own business. Five O'Clock in Hoosier land is Five O'Clock all year long. None of this Five is Six and Six is Five twisted logic sprung from the brain of a skirtchasing kite-flying maniac.

Until now. Today my father informed me that next week my proud state's tradition of marching to the beat of its own clockticking is over. Statewide Daylight Savings Time is now infesting Hoosierland.

I give up. That's it. Tomorrow I'm going to start wearing makeup again, go buy a minivan and eat some processed cheese.

Hospital Blogging

I blog my bill over at Metroblogging Nashville. Hey, I was at an HCA hospital. It's of interest to the city.

25 March, 2006

If You Don't Like It, Move Your A--- To Fort Wayne!

Yeah, I get homesick for Ft. Wayne from time to time.

For some reason this video ended up in my inbox. I can't remember when I've laughed so hard. It's the Midwest Answer to the SNL "Lazy Sunday" video.

And as a person who spent many of her college nights cruising down McGalliard, and whose first date with her husband was in Muncie, I can't tell you how hysterical this thing is to me.

Ivy is my Muncie Homegirl. She especially has to check this out!

Underwriting The McMansions

No, please. Really. Allow me to subsidize your heating bill, folks. As Chris Wage and S-Town Mike have already noted, those of us who reside in Davidson Co. are paying the gas franchise fees for residents of Williamson, Cheatham and Sumner Counties.

6.11% of my gas bill is a franchise fee. That's government-ese for "tax." What's even better is that they've figured out a way via this program to tax those who are normally exempt.

Although the fee costs Metro residents more, it benefits city government, which receives the money. Metro Finance Director David Manning says the city is fine with the fee as is.

"We did not want to see them lower it, no," Manning said. "We would have to raise the revenue somewhere else."

That could mean higher property taxes, he said, adding that ratepayer money comes from a broader base. State government, for instance, doesn't pay property taxes in Metro, nor do churches. They do pay gas bills.

We intentionally bought a house within Davidson Co. because the price was less expensive. We were able to afford a good-sized, energy-efficient home for about 30% less than the same model cost in Williamson or Sumner Counties. While I'm (vaguely) sorry for those who paid through the nose for their home for the benefit of location,location,location I'm not thrilled at underwriting their gas bills. Especially since (from what I've seen) the homes outside Davidson County tend to run at least 20% larger. I'd love to see some sort of square-footage-by-county report to confirm what I've noticed on my rambling sunny-day drives and house hunts. So, by rights, those folks with the larger houses and the more money ought to be toting their own note as I see it.

My last gas bill was $190.00. A good chunk of that was the franchise fee tax.

What can you do? Well, you can help me and yourself and others by going to Nashville Gas Customer Service Feedback and entering the following message in the comment section:

I would like the portion of my gas bill that serves as a franchise fee to underwrite residents outside Davidson County to be removed. This fee was not presented during the voting process for approval and is therefore unauthorized. As such I demand a relief from this collection.

I doubt I'll see that money, but if enough voices are raised it'll at least create some sort of interest in the problem.

24 March, 2006

The Shuffle Play Meme

I stole this from Connie Lane.

It looks fun, so I'm doing it.

The rules: Put your iTunes on shuffle. Ask a question and use the song title for an answer. No cheating.

How Does The World See Me?

Will I have a happy life?
Boadicea (Enya).
Given that this is a song about a warrior queen who led valiant but ultimately unsuccessful battles and whose people all died out, I'll guess that this would be "no".

3. What do my friends really think of me?
So Many People (Mandy Patinkin Experiment)
So many people in the world laugh at what they don't know...So many people in the world don't know what they've missed. They'd never believe such joy could exist. My friends think I'm spectacular, but wierd. Sounds right.

4. Do people secretly lust after me?
The Impossible Dream (Man of La Mancha)
To march into hell for a heavenly cause...yep. Sounds like the fate of my lovers, both real and imaginary.

5. How can I make myself happy?
American Pie (Don McClean)
Like in the movie? Cause I'm just not seeing that working for me.

6. What should I do with my life?
Lawyers, Guns and Money (Warren Zevon)
What is with the world today? For the last time, fates, family and such-- I AM NOT GOING TO LAW SCHOOL.

7. Will I ever have children?
Blue Christmas (Elvis)
One could easily interpret this as a "no", since I do have Blue Christmases just thinking about "you" [my unborn children]. Yet I've spent some Christmases with some children who've made me blue, so this could go either way.

8. What is some good advice for me?
I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart (Duke Ellington)
Since I can't lift a tune with a lever, I think Duke and Co. are telling me to let songs go out of my heart instead of my voice. Even from the grave Duke is like that kid who sits in the pew in front of me and turns around to stare malevolently during the hymns. Thanks for that, Ellington.

9. How will I be remembered?
No Sign Of Rain (Michelle Shocked)
The only thing I can figure out about this song is that she talks about calling from a truck stop on the interstate to say "howdy, y'all". So maybe I'll just be haunting my loved ones via telephone.

10. What is my signature dancing song?
The Mystery (Van Morrison)
You've got to open up your arms to the sun. You know you've got so many charms, it's just begun.
I guess in my case it's more of an instructional piece, as opposed to a utilitarian groove.

11. What do I think my current theme song is?
Bertha (The Grateful Dead)
Test me, Test me
Sounds about right. And I do feel lately as though I've run into a tree.

12. What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Who's That Girl? (The Eurythmics)
Sorry, Madonna. I guess you and I are twinstwinstwins. Must be the phony British thing we both do. At least I only do it in spelling. God help us all if I ever start saying "Shedjewel" and "Mow-bial".

13. What song will play at my funeral?
Lord Of The Backstage (Marillion)
Ha! This is fantastic. I ought to have them play it just because it's so perfect.
A Lord of the backstage. A creature of language. I'm so far out and I'm too far in.

14. What type of men/women do you like?
God Gave Rock and Roll To You (Petra)
Maybe, if we take the old-fashioned meaning of "rock and roll" as synonymous for slap and tickle/hide the sausage, this is affirmation that God gave sex to me and that...I don't know. That I like Christian men? I guess so. Whatever. I'm reaching to make this one work.

15. What is my day going to be like?
Private Dancer (Tina Turner)
Not sure how to take this. Will I spend my evening whoring? Scary thought, that. Besides, who would pay to "march into hell for a heavenly cause" anyway?

Fire Thunder Update

Yesterday there wasa lot of discussion about the announcement by Cecilia Fire Thunder regarding a proposed Planned Parenthood clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Lakota tribe.

As promised, I contacted the Planned Parenthood organisation of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota for further information. Marta Coursey was kind enough to return my call this morning. Because of my ongoing interest in the living conditions on Lakota land, I was very interested to hear about past or future plans for a Pine Ridge branch of Planned Parenthood.

According to Ms. Coursey, the issue of a Planned Parenthood Center on Lakota land has never been discussed. There are presently two clinics in South Dakota, located in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. Planned Parenthoods efforts at this date continue to be focused on keeping those existing clinics open. They have no plans to close the existing centers, and are fighting the proposed sweeping abortion ban. It is the postion of Planned Parenthood that the Rapid City and Sioux Falls locations offer enough proximity to the Reservation and that no additional clinic is needed at this time.

Cecilia Fire Thunder has not been available to the Planned Parenthood Organisation of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota for clarification of her remarks since the announcement was made. President Fire Thunder is one of fifteen co-chairs on the South Dakota Campaign For Healthy Families, a bi-partisan pro-choice group focusing on the grassroots effort to halt that state's pending abortion ban.

Housing Will Cripple America

Glen Dean fisks the Tennessean this morning. I love a good fisking as much as the next gal, and in this case Glen was mostly right. The Tennessean is beloved by almost no one. Conservatives hate its liberal reporting and liberals hate its localised obeisance to the Bible Belt ideologies. (It took me a couple clickthrus to realise that Egalia and TV On The Fritz were talking about the paper when they said Southern Baptist Times. I thought they were actually reading the Lifeway Newsletter.)

I do take issue with one of Glen's points, and almost left a comment there. But the comment would have been three feet long, and I wanted to yell at America in my own space. So forgive me, Glen.

He writes:
Home values rise because lots of people are looking to buy homes.

That's partially true. But my issue with the housing market is that it is currently the biggest culprit in the debtload crisis that I think will kill America.

Home prices have soared beyond all reasonable economic indicators because of two things. Lower interest rates and unconventional home financing. We shopped for our house for four and a half years before settling on the exact one we wanted at a price we could afford. We were "in the market" forever. When interest rates first came down, it meant that folks like us could "afford more house." After a year or so the builders caught on. They started building "more house" and asking the top market price for it. In the four and a half years we shopped we watched the price of our dream house go up more than $30,000. There's no way that was all "demand". Some of it had to be the builder capitalising on the fact that people could now afford more house. Right about the same time, the FHA increased its guarantee amounts, which meant that more people could take out larger home loans.

Two years ago I heard a radio commercial for an "interest-only" home loan. For years before that, I was hearing about 120 loans, downpayment loans and a whole other host of bad-ideas-waiting-to-happen. From where I sit, people are borrowing more money to buy more house so the builders see that people can borrow more money so they charge more for the house so people borrow more money.... on and on and on.

It's all fine and dandy now, but I dread five or so years from now when the economy starts feeling the pinpricks from this. Our working class is buried under "unconventional" high debt. More and more people have "too much house" and can't buy anything else. Trust me. We'll hear about that.

More Than Mildly Frustrating

I cannot watch TV anymore. At least not in the manner I like. We watch crime shows--CSI (rarely anymore), Medium, Veronica Mars, etc. My favourite pastime has been to see how quickly I can solve the crime, predict any twists and turns and actually write snatches of dialog.

Tim has recently requested that I stop this practice. It was during the last episode of Medium, when I shouted out the conclusion 18 minutes into the show. He then said "thanks for ruining the whole thing for me." I was stunned. There was A 51 Thing, right there.

If you are not married, you may not know what A 51 Thing is. If you are married, you KNOW full well, but you may not know what to call it. The 51 Things are those little things your spouse does which are mildly annoying, but not worthy of Having A Conversation About. Since in a marriage you are supposed to give 51% to the other person, these little things are part of that just-over-the-line giving of one's self that wedded bliss requires. It may be putting up with his or her drinking milk straight out of the carton. Or staying up late to watch TiVo'd soap operas. We each have our lot in life, our cross to bear. If you are part of a duo you just know. And you know when to stay mum for the sake of peace in the home. But every now and again your mate's little quirks cross a line. You can't stay quiet about it any more. You have tosaysomething NOW.

The sad thing is for the spouse who is chastened. They had no idea about the wound festering under the surface. I personally assumed (wrongly) that poor Tim found my ability to predict the outcome of TV charming. Or endearing. I had no idea he'd been grinding his teeth in mute anger forever. Poor guy.

But we've solved the problem. I've agreed to stop telling him the answer as long as he agrees to accept my "Got It!" with the implicit acknowledgement that I have indeed solved the mystery. I haven't yet, and probably never will, solve the mystery of why he continues to put up with me, though.

Friday BlogThingORama

In Lieu of actually writing another post, I'm taking a bunch of these silly quizzes.

Your Birthdate: May 23

You're not good at any one thing, and that's the problem.
You're good at so much - you never know what to do.
Change is in your blood, and you don't stick to much for long.
You are destined for a life of travel and fun.

Your strength: Your likeability

Your weakness: You never feel satisfied

Your power color: Bright yellow

Your power symbol: Asterisk

Your power month: May

Now, wasn't that a nice way of saying that I'm a directionless, aimless layabout? ********. Oooh. I feel more powerful already.

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Mute Priest.

Where You Lived: Italy.

How You Died: Hung for treason.

Hmmm. I can kind of see it. Although the irony of me being mute is far too rich.

You Should Get a JD (Juris Doctor)

You're logical, driven, and ruthless.
You'd make a mighty fine lawyer.

Ha! The stupid Blogthings Quizmaker agrees with my parents, my guidance counselor, my student advisor and pretty much everyone except me. The older I get the more I realise that I'd be a crap lawyer. I couldn't take all the paperwork. Ironically, I'm a writer. Which involves nothing but paperwork. Perhaps I ought to rethink my ambitions.

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic

Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

Yeah, that sounds about right. Except for the Showgirls thing. That movie is just...stupid. And I'm not even going to post the quiz that seemed to imply I would enjoy being spanked by Mike Tyson.

23 March, 2006

I Respectfully Disagree

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

I stole this quiz from Connie Lane, who should and will be a film writer.

I, however, don't think that I am really geared toward writing movies. Funnily, that's the one type of writing that appeals to me the least. For myself, that is. I enjoy the film writings of others (Frank Darabont, Francis Coppola, John Milius) immensely. But me, I just don't think movies are my style.

Shine On, Crazy and Irresponsible Diamond

I read a post on a blog just now that has my head reeling. Literally REELING. I can't link to the blog or the post, because what I'm about to say is not a good thing.

A person with whom I once had significant dealings in another context is apparently now a person of some reknown. And I for the life of me cannot believe this.

It's left me wondering what on earth is wrong with me, that this person--whom I knew to be irresponsible, dishonest and a whole host of other things--is now in a position of power while I am in a position of quietly muddling through until the Great Gig In The Sky.

I once read a letter this person wrote to someone who performed a service for that person and that person's spouse. The letter was the single most unhinged thing I've ever read in my adult life, and I'm including UseNet here. And yet this person is, believe it or not, making the news. I always assumed that X would make the news, but not in a good way. Perhaps in a "bodies in the basement" way. Not like this.


Maybe I need to rethink my goals and strategies.

Well, Yeah. Duh.

Jim Collins has found me out.

As for Katherine,that is just plain wierd.I really don't think I would have said that!

Mr. Collins, welcome to Katherinetown. Where everything is just .... strange.

Danger Zone

I am watching Top Gun on DVD. I've probably seen this movie a dozen times, but not at all within the last ten years. I have no idea what posessed me to put it on my Netflix Queue, yet I did and now feel obligated to sit through it.

Man, this movie is a time capsule! Everything, from the Harold Faltermeyer soundtrack to the Evil Russians screams mid-eighties and takes me right the heck back to high school. This movie came out right after I got my driver's license. I had the casette tape of the soundtrack and blared it when I'd take off down the road alone in my Mercury. Highway To the DANGERZONE!!!! Yes, there was little difference between a crack Naval Aviator and a 16 year old cruising down the Indiana backroads.

I'm struck by how young (and thin) everyone in the movie looks. It's reassuring to think that even actors can't hold the thickening of their middle years at bay.

I also feel very sorry for poor Anthony Edwards. Must he always be doomed to die from some sort of head trauma? It's like his characters are great mythical annoying beasts that can only be put down by a direct wound to the brain.

So Sioux Me

The female president of the Oglala Sioux has made an announcement. Planned Parenthood and the "Women's" movement are embracing their newfound sisters on Lakota land. Pity they haven't cared one iota about the Oglala Lakota until now.

The reservation is beset with problems, mostly arising from poverty and the cultural damage caused by destructive government programs of assimilation.

Over half of the population on the reservation is under 18 years of age, with a rough life expectancy some twenty years less than the national average. Infant mortality rates are more than twice the national average, and sixty-nine percent of the children who survive live below the national poverty line.

If, as I understand the argument of the Pro-Choice forces to be, women should be able to choose when they have children, how many they have, and then to have those children be wanted and cared for and provided for there should have been some type of Planned Parenthood clinich offering birth control choices and education to the Oglala Lakota long ago.

Perhaps this explains it:
Unemployment rate is approximately eighty-five percent--the reservation lacks any form of industry, and a very limited economy, making work extremely difficult to find, and bringing the per capita income of the reservation to an average of $4000. Rates of alchoholism almost exactly mirror the unemployment rate.

Why bother, when the people of the Oglala can't pay for treatment? This new "victory for choice" appears to be about the choices of white women who can pay. I don't understand all the rejoicing. As I see it, the choice is the same. If you want an abortion in SDakota, you may have to drive to get one. Drive to North Dakota. Drive to Chicago. Drive to Oglala Lakota land. Six of one, half dozen of another.

Update: Rachel of Women's Health News gave a link to the Planned Parenthood Development office for the South Dakota/Minnesota region. I have left messages with two people (Jennifer Newberg is the director of development) and am waiting their response. I understand that they may be busier than normal, given this announcement and that it may be awhile. But I am genuinely interested in their answer and will post it here once they call me back.

Thoughts on LOST (SPOILERS)

I know that Michael will post over at AATW in detail, but I just have a few quick thoughts before I turn in.

1. So what's the lab connection with that pregnancy test? I think there's more to it than meets the eye. They made sure to show us the label, and for Kate to have a conversation about "who flies with a pregnancy test".

2. If she had endo bad enough to collude her tubes, Sun would have known. Okay, maybe not, but I'd bet it'd hurt like a *(&^^^.

3. I swear these Island people are nimwits. The whole time they were marching toward the Balloon In The Clearing I kept thinking "It's A Trap!" And the ingenious way they didn't let anyone know that they were going or where they were headed ensures the speedy rescue efforts that they will eventually need. Or not.

4. Ha ha ha. The fat guy likes to eat. That joke will NEVER get old.

5. Isn't there a ruler in the Hatch? I mean, surely that would be the most straightforward way for Locke and Jack to decide Who Is The Better Man And Leader. If there isn't an actual ruler, I'm sure someone has a dollar bill. Those are exactly six inches long. They could improvise.

6. Dorothy's Uncle tore the flyleaf out of Crime & Punishment to draw his little map. That right there is a crime.

7. So, did Sun sleep with the Korean Evan Handler or not? I wouldn't be surprised if the Island fixed Jin's plumbing...if it can fix Locke's legs, it can fix anything. But I am still left without a conclusion to the Big Mystery Of The Week.

22 March, 2006

And When I Die

Over at NiT, they're discussing funeral arrangements. Brittney asked what everyone's plan for mourning their husk is. I've already told my family, members of my Sunday School class and other assorted people. But I'll leave record of my funeral arrangements here, just cause.

First, all family members (and close friends who choose to) will be wearing t-shirts that say "My Wife/Mother/Sister/Cousin/Aunt Went To Heaven, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt."

There will be a hymn-singing, where I would like the following hymns to be enjoyed by the attendees:
And Can It Be
Amazing Love! How can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Bold, I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own
Blessed Assurance (they sang this one at my wedding, too.)
Be Thou My Vision
Wonderful Grace Of Jesus
Trust me, you haven't lived until you've heard a rousing rendition of this sung by a roomful of enthusiastic folk. I first heard this at the Mennonite Relief Sale Quilt Autcion Hymn Sing when I was 17. Wow.
At Calvary
Nothing But The Blood
Christ The Lord Is Risen Today

My epitaph is to be the stanza of that hymn which goes:
Made like Him, Like Him we rise. Ours the Cross, the Grave, the Skies

My body is to be put in a pine box. No expensive casket. It's just a waste of money. Not necessary. Spend my casket money on a new car or something.

Anyway, after the hymn sing there is to be a huge party with plenty of food, ABBA on the soundtrack, people laughing and purple balloons. No black balloons. Purple. And that pretty pearlescent kind. Everybody who comes is to be given a list of my favourite books and music and movies, so if they want to experience the things that brought me joy when I was alive they can.

At the gravesite, if you all choose to bury me, or the ash-scattering, I'd like to have Arlo Guthrie's "Last Train" played.
If you decide to cremate me, at least erect some type of tombstone for me in the family garden, with my name, dates and that epitaph I mentioned before.

And that's how I'd like to be remembered.

The Brief Tale Of My Chocolate Vine

I mentioned it yesterday, but given it's colourful addition to our life, I think it deserves to have its story told. So, in honour of the "beginning" of spring, I bring you the tale of Akebia-Quinata.

The spring after we moved into our house, we created a Resting Arbor in the backyard. Our deck is up to the second story, which gives us a full story underneath the deck. You will see some people use this space for storage. We call those people "nasty." Because it just looks trashy to have gas cans, old folding chairs and lawn supplies piled willy-nilly under a full story deck. But maybe that's just me. Moving on...

We hung a porch swing and built a lattice wall for a climbing vine. (And by "we", I mean "Tim".) I has always intended to plant honeysuckle there but we were at Lowe's one day and saw these little bitty purple flowers on a plant. The plastic Plant Identification Tongue said we were looking at "Chocolate Vine akebia quinata". It met our light requirements for the growing area. It had purple flowers that smelled like chocoloate. They drew bats, which I love. Bats eat mosquitos. Okay, right there I was sold. But the little vine was teeny tiny. So we bought three. When we got them home and planted them they looked even teeny tinier. So Tim went to the store and bought two more. We crossed our fingers in hopes that they would grow.

Then Quinn dug one up. Repeatedly. We kept finding poor little Mr. Akebia in various places throughout the yard, with his roots attached. Tim faithfully replanted the thing, but we didn't think we'd have any luck. They hung in there. The one day at work when I was bored I looked it up on the internet. It seems that while Lowe's called the plants by their more inviting English name--you have to admit that Chocolate Vine sounds rather enticing--the purple flower has another name. Japanese Kudzu. Yes.

WE CANNOT STOP THESE VINES. At least six times a summer Tim has to cut the vines back hard, or they completely surround our deck chair and work their tendrils INTO THE GRILL. Fire doesn't kill them. Nothing kills the Akebia. It's beautiful, but unstoppable. Good thing we planted extra.

If any of you would like your own unstoppable (and hard to find in stores) Chocolate Vine, I'm sure that I can supply you with a cutting very easily. But I warn you, it's like the government. It grows at an ungodly pace and gets its tendrils into everything.

21 March, 2006

The Things I'm Thinking About Right Now

1. If Fred & George had the Maurader's Map for four years, two of which Ron was at Hogwarts, how come they never noticed Peter Pettigrew?

2. If it gets below freezing tonight, will that kill my trees and my chocolate vine?

3. When will my Wisteria bloom? I need me some spring, and badly.

4. Why won't my husband let me get a pet monkey?

5. On this latest Extreme Makeover: Home Edition didn't it seem like the show's producers were kind of hoping the father would die so it would be even more dramatic? Or am I being WAY to cynical? And is it just me or are they giving Michael (Glamour) more prominent roles lately?

6. Can we please NEVER EVER see a 5 minute long Ty Hip Hop segment again? It seemed really minstrel-showy. At least that's how it looked as I bedooped on by.

7. Who taught my dogs the word "chicken"? I don't think it was me.

8. Is it possibe to actually die from weather-related despair? And is it ironic that my Party Shuffle actually came around to Andrea McArdle's gut-busting rendition of "Tomorrow"? Bet my bottom dollar that I wanna kick her in the teeth. I want the sun to come out NOW.

20 March, 2006

Dead Republicans

A blog I don't link to out of principle had a very snarky article today (Monday) referencing this story about a study conducted by social scientists in Berkeley, California. That right there should give you an idea of the (predetermined?) outcome of the study. The results of that "study" showed that "whiny, insecure kids....grew up to be conservative". Hee. Isn't that funny? It also showed that confident, self-assured kids grew up to be liberal. It also showed that professors of social science in Berkeley, California tend to conduct specious studies.

What is more troubling to me is that no one seems to be looking at what kind of people grow up to think of their political opponents in solely perjorative terms. The tenor of politics in America seems to be "the *^^&*&* )(*&^&^*) on the other side are making the whole thing divisive." I am at a loss for where this enmity comes from. Is it that now, without Russians to hate we are turning against people who vote differently? Why? Especially since there is less and less difference between the two parties of record.

Yes, I'm conservative. Was I a "whiny, insecure kid"? You know, some days I probably was. There were also plenty of days where I was confident and self-assured. I was picked last in gym class, but I won spelling bees. The gym days were a lot more insecure than the spelling days. My life has been a patchwork of emotion, experience and lessons learned. I'd hate to think that entire cacophany of self is drilled down into one component. Let's put it this way. I'm conservative because I believe that people should be able to keep what they've earned and live free of tyranny. I believe that guns guarantee freedom and America still has the potential to be the grandest social experiment ever achieved. I believe that God is not a four-letter word and faith is not correlated to weakness. I believe the best ways for mankind to reach its full potential is through limited government involvement in the affairs of individuals. I'm proud to believe that, and secure in that belief. I love most of the people I know, and rarely take their politics into account when doing so.

If the rest of you want to have your cutesy Dead Republicans contest and laugh about it with crude appelations for conservative people go right ahead. If you want to threaten to key my car or not repair it properly for having a choose life plate (which I won't have---they cost extra) then go ahead and enjoy your self-assured and confident ways. I'll feel free to whine about it. It is, after all, apparently my lot in life.

Blogger, I Loathe Thee

I know this is a free service. I know that I get what I pay for.

That being said, let me just whinge for a few brief moments (since that's likely all the time I have before it craps out again.)

Blogger won't let me post a new entry half the time I want to. When I go to other Blogger Blogs, 90% of the time I can't read the comments, let alone make my own comment.

I keep getting "Server error. A technician has been notified blah blah blah" messages. It's weird, because I feel this strange pressure of postus interruptus building into a nasty case of blue lobes. There are so many thoughts I want to get typed out, so many writerly ideas that I wish to pursue--only to have the mechanism be faulty. I really think maybe I can't write blogposts any longer. I feel like I've lost my ability. Woe unto me. Boo hoo. Pity party, smallest violin.

It Knows Me! So Well!

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

Thanks to Connie Lane

Where Is March?

Seriously. What is this? Rain? Cold? Not fair. I moved South for better weather.

Purple Green Yellow Black Blue Red

I have, on the inside of my left elbow, a bruise the size of a Kennedy half-dollar. It is an interesting puddle of colours, leftover from the IV catheter inserted wrongly. It'll probably be there for another week or two and then go away. The fact that it exists at all is tangible proof of the messiness of life. With as advanced as our medicine has become over the last thousand years, inserting an IV seems pretty basic. Find a vein, prick it with a needle, guide in the catheter.

When you read about it, it seems easy. Tab A into Slot B, end of story. But when you are the patient in pain and anxious about more pain or the nurse treating a dehydrated overweight person with no visible veins to speak of it's altogether different. It's life.

I keep reading both sides of the abortion debate, the death penalty debate, the immigration debate and the war debate. From where I sit, on the other side of words it all seems cut and dried. There is a Tab A. There is a Slot B. Pick up a side and go with it. It's like watching people on TV kill each other. From the seats in the audience you can't taste the pain.

I was reading about the abortion pill at Rachel's. I've been hearing about this pill for years, about how easy it makes abortion. Then I read more detail and discover that it, like my IV, may be plain to read about but not so straightforward in practice. Multiple visits, cramps, bleeding, nausea. It struck me that both sides of the debate seem to have glossed over the women.

I was reading about the 3rd year anniversary of the war in Iraq. Again, two sides--both vocal. Again, more simplification. One is right. One is wrong.

Nobody ever seems to want to admit to the bruise. To the unintended, unexpected and messy consequence of any choice or action. Everyone has a vested interest in being right--so much so that we all seem to glide past the bruises we ourselves cause in order to focus on the stupidity of the opposition. Like Yeats' worst, we are all filled with passionate intensity. Does it do any good? I don't know. Perhaps I equivocate too much. It wouldn't be the first time for me to do something to excess. It's just that I have picked many sides over the years. I always felt that I picked the right side for the right reason. How many bruises did I cause, and how many did I ignore? Too many to count, I'm sure.

19 March, 2006

Cool Stuff

Not that you'd need it, but BBC America has an online dictionary of British slang.

It's really kinda neat. Check it out.

For Love Or Money

There are two reasons I blog. When I blog at NiT, I do it for both reasons.

I've been over there this weekend. If you hadn't already figured that out.

17 March, 2006

How To Get Yourself Beat Up In Third Grade

It's St. Patrick's Day.

I hate St. Patrick's Day. When we were little kids, my father insisted that we wear orange. I get it now that I'm 35 and have spent years studying the history of Great Britain and Ireland, but when you're eight it just doesn't work. When you're eight and you show up at school without wearing green and all the other kids pinch you it's very hard to explain. Somehow saying "We are a Protestant family who did not support the Catholic self-rule of the Irish people" to other eight year olds just gets you pinched even more. And laughed at.

Of course, now that I'm older and have spent all those years studying history I must say that although I am not Catholic I firmly support the right of the Irish to self-government.

I just don't own any green clothes.

16 March, 2006

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

Yes, I'm a broken record with this Brown thing. I've been reading some of the earlier coverage I missed while in the hospital (see--I said "the hospital" instead of just "hospital" so all you people who pick on my anglophile ways can be happy now.)

In one article Brown is quoted thusly:

"Instead of receiving presents at Christmas, his parents would leave a treasure map with clues which, if properly solved, would lead to a secret location in the house or even around the town where they lived, the court heard. He said: "It was wonderful fun - for me codes and treasure hunts have always been a passion."

I'm sorry. Can we just slap him silly now? Who on EARTH says "wonderful fun"? He sounds so fake. And, frankly, the whole being-denied-presents thing does explain a lot about him. Well, that and the fact that he's a Phillips Exeter man. I wonder if he's aware that he comes off as a complete ninny.

Da Vinci Blow By Blow

This is a great site for tracking the entire case.

One Smart Guy

Hat Tip: Busy Mom.

This is actually quite cool.

I must endeavor to set the record straight.

Da Vinci Code Of Honour

I continue to be fascinated by the ongoing lawsuit which pits two of the greatest fraudsters against one of the greatest fabulists. What I find most amusing is how both Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code and Leigh/Baigent, coauthors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail are sticking to their guns. Both books are largely woven from whole cloth, dyed in the ink of centuries of anti-Catholic conspiracy theories and coming apart at the seams. Yet both have sold millions of volumes using the premise that the facts at the heart of the story are true. This is hardly the case. There are already hundreds of books and websites debunk The Da Vinci Code, while several central players in Holy Blood, Holy Grail admit to generating a hoax around the Priory of Sion.

So, the HB, HG team is claiming plaigarism because Brown "stole their ideas." Keep in mind that if the "ideas" are facts, as the HB/HG fellows claim, then they have no case. But if they admit the book is fiction, they have a leg to stand on. They also ruin their reputation and jeopardise future sales of the book. So what to do? Obviously they're over in England walking a fine line.

Personally, I'd love to see Dan Brown taken down a few notches. I was lucky enough to discover him before Da Vinci Code, and enjoyed his other books. (Digital Fortress was my personal favourite.) But then came DVC and along with it came the new, pompous Dan Brown. Instead of admitting that he wrote a fun beach read based on a few clever hypotheses, he came out as an anti-Catholic crusader for the Truth. There are countless interviews with him touting the book as based in fact. It reminds me very much of the James Frey debacle, without any nasty dressing down from Oprah. When you write, the truth is either your friend, your foe or of no consequence. If you are writing fiction, then obviously you don't need factual truth. (Fundamental truths boost the quality of fiction work, but aren't as agonising to check.) If you are writing a story based in truth, you better have your facts sewn up. Both Frey and Brown are proof of this.

In the larger sense I think Brown should prevail, because ultimately one can't really copyright ideas. If so, every story of adultry would be actionable by the King James Bible. All fiction is semi-derivitave. But in the meantime it can't hurt for the truth about both Christ's Bloodline books to come to light.

15 March, 2006

The Oddness Continues

So, yeah, I'm still in a moderate amount of pain as interesting things continue to leave my body. The medicine they've given me is called Ultracet, and I've never taken it before. It comes with the standard warnings--don't drive, don't operate your forklift, don't nurse your baby.

But the one side effect I find most interesting isn't listed anywhere on the drug sheet.

I have spent the last two days dreaming in Iambic Pentameter.

Tell me that isn't wierd....

14 March, 2006

Ezwol Update

For those of you who knew about it, my surgery went well yesterday.

For those of you who didn't know about it, I had an unplanned kidney stone surgery yesterday. It was the "stone zapping" ESWL surgery.

Some observations:

1. This is not as pain-free as they make it sound.
2. I told 9 different people where I hurt.
3. I spelled my last name and gave my date of birth 11 times.
4. They put the IV in wrong, and I now have a lump the size of an egg at my left elbow.
5. Morphine burns when it goes in wrong.
6. My Anesthesiologist's name was--NO JOKE---Dr. Paralis. I found this extremely funny.
7. Never go to the ER on Sunday.
8. Apparently a lot of people get in bar fights on Saturday night.
9. Apparently a lot of meth lab accidents happen on Saturday night.
10. It's so nice when the stone shows up on the CAT scan, because the nurses stop treating you like a junkie and start treating you like someone with a kidney stone.
11. This is my 36th kidney stone in 9 years. This is only the 5th time I've been hospitalized for a stone.

11 March, 2006

Kat's Showtune Rules

Welcome to the first (and perhaps only) installment of Kat's Showtune Rules.

1. "Get Me To The Church On Time" and "With A Little Bit Of Luck" should not be sung without a Cockney accent. Bryn Terfel, I'm talking to you. Pull out the stopper/Let's have a whopper sounds really lame coming from an overly-dictioned operatic style baritone. It's like that Simpson's episode where they play "In A Gadda Da Vida" on the church organ.

2. Speaking of My Fair Lady, whoever sold "(Wouldn't It Be) Loverly" to some hotel chain should be shot. If I hear that chorus of idiots singing "All I want is a room somewhere/with a wetbar and wireless internet access" again, I'll be forced to lob hand grenades at the closest franchisee of said hotel chain.

3. As I gleefully announced at Rex's place, it is finally possible to get "They Call The Wind Maria" from iTunes. Why is the fire "Joe", anyway? Does that make sense? "Joe" is a friendly guy's name--the guy who will fix your tire. Fire is not that friendly.

4. Starlight Express may be the stupidest musical ever. But I would pay money to see the full version of Elephant!.

5. Repeat after me--"Colm Wilkinson can do no wrong"

Astral Weeks

may be the best album ever recorded.


The TWOP boards are down.

Just when I need to totally work through my issues.

Kill The Rednecks, But Buy My Record First

Bill Hobbs, NiT guest-blogger extraordinaire has brought an interesting news article to light. The Tennessean tells us that the Dixie Chicks are shopping their newest single to .... country music stations.

Convenient, seeing as how Miss Natalie said a few weeks ago that

"And I guess I was ignorant to the fact that the stereotypes behind country music were true — and it was disappointing. … So I'm pretty much done," she said. "They've shown their true colors. I like lots of country music, but as far as the industry and everything that happened ... I couldn't want to be farther away from that."

Fantastic. Allow me to translate:

"You all are stupid rednecks who wouldn't know your butt from a breadbasket--but don't worry. I'll still take your money. But you'll be too dumb to notice."

Maines further tells us that the new album was "total therapy." I gots news for ya, Nat. I don't pay to have people exorcise their demons on my dime. I pay to be entertained. I'm glad you feel better, but I won't be buying the new album. Coincidentally, the album is being released on my birthday. You all know what you don't have to buy me.

Oh, and ironically, I'd kinda forgotten about the whole Bush/Texas/London/Naked EW thing until they reminded me. They reminded me now. To sell a new record. I guess some of the cynics are right--this was about making money.

BSG Final Thoughts

Are over at All Along The Watchtower.

10 March, 2006

This One's For Pam

Hat Tip: Right Justified

Fun Friday Facts

-->My Mom is 66 years old today. I would say something about getting her kicks at age 66, but if you know my mom, you'd know that "kicks" are just not her style. I owe her a longer post in her honour and that will be coming sometime. But right now I'm swamped with a sick husband, a downed tree, a broken frog and seven freelance jobs.

--> The frog in my profile is the one that broke. I actually cried about it, which makes me wonder if I'm 36 or 3 or 6. Who cries over a broken ceramic frog? Besides me, that is.

--> I have renamed my white dog. He is no longer "Quinn". He is now "The WindChicken", because he spent all day yesterday under my desk.

--> If you have dogs who are afraid of the high winds, it's probably not the best idea to collect windchimes.

--> By the way, I do collect windchimes. And my birthday is May 23rd. Hint.

--> At my house we call Food Lion "The Kitty Cat Store." My poor husband.

--> I did not go to the blogger meet up last night, even though I desperately wanted to. But see above for some of the reasons. The other reason is that I didn't think there was enough liquour in all the free world to help others overcome the pain of hearing my singing.

-->Weren't the Olympics on the air for 2 weeks? Couldn't they have made more brand new "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" episodes?

-->I may be the only one who thinks that the bill to outlaw sex toys in Nashville was cooked up by the local news media so that they could talk about "sex toys" and show "sex toys" on the evening news. Way to go, Channel 2, for the closeups of vibrator boxes! That's what I wanted to see during the final minutes of Invasion.

--> I hate that actress who played Zoe Bartlett and now plays the psycho pregger chick on Invasion.

09 March, 2006

Sorry, Harry, But I Need More Sleep For This

Connie Lane is working determinedly to find all the goodies over at JKR's website.

There are several new easter eggs for the Harry Potter fandom to find, and believe me that I want very badly to see them. But I am just not in the frame of mind where I can do that whole mental-Twister thing that the site requires. Over in the thread at Connie's people are talking about how to suss the information. Just reading it makes my head hurt. Then again, I had two storm-crazed dogs who kept me up all night.

Either way, it's times like this that I am so thankful for Mugglenet's ongoing archive of JKR's site goodies.

The Thomas Kinkade Slot Machine

Les Jones points to the latest coverage of the ongoing Kinkade debacle. I'm fascinated by the whole thing, because for awhile I had a front-row seat.

One of the first things I did when I started my old job was to help my boss draft a proposal to Kinkade's licensing group. I spent nearly a week knee-deep in Kinkade when he was at the height of his glory. And I swear I never saw so many greedy people who thought they could make a fast buck. I talked to a few of the gallery owners when researching our proposal, and they all seemed to be of the "more money than sense" variety of folks. Honestly, people are not going to buy paintings from a gallery in a mall on a regular basis. Sure, there was a pretty big market for TK's work. But a Thomas Kinkade La-Z-Boy? Really?

Surprisingly, they've all lost their bankroll and are blaming Kinkade. One fellow lost several million dollars. Who puts all their many millions of dollars into cookie-cutter galleries for mediocre art? Pardon if I don't feel the least bit sorry.

We did get the license, but in the end never manufactured the product. That's probably a good thing, when you consider what's happened to everyone else.

On the bright side, if you are still hankering for some expensive Kinkade artwork, I think they're still selling from the DNA collection. Wouldn't you just love to have some of the "artist's hair and blood" mixed in with your painting?

Open Note To Several Bloggers

I was going to send each of you either a comment or a private email, but there are about a dozen, so I'm doing this the easy way.

Many of you have changed your template/added a bunch of ads/added HaloScan comments/added all kinds of linky toys in the sidebar.

In most cases I can't even get your page to load fully so that I can send you an email or make a comment. I don't even get to read what's there--and I want to read your stuff.



Sister Christian

I can no longer hear "Sister Christian" without thinking of that crazed coke dealer in Boogie Nights.

I remember when I first heard it in High School. It was one of those dozen or two songs that I wasn't sure if I should listen to. I kind of thought it might be one of those "come on, girl, sleep with me already!" tunes. My boyfriend had taken great pleasure in playing "Only The Good Die Young" on the tape deck of his truck. It was his not-so-subtle way of telling me I should quit with the whole prissy-virgin thing and give him what he wanted. Not only did it not work, it led me to resent Billy Joel for years.

After I broke up with him I heard "Paradise (By The Dashboard Light)" for the first time and felt vindicated. Years later I still think of him whenever I hear "Unanswered Prayers".

Pretty much any popular song from '83-'88 reminds me of someone I went to high school with, dated or worked alongside. "Sister Christian" used to remind me of Chad Colbert and Bill Hayes playing air guitar. Now all I see is that crazy fat guy in his bathrobe fiddling with the stereo knobs and freaking out the two porn guys. Clearly the movies are far more interesting than High School.

08 March, 2006

Me, Big Orange Michael & Harry Potter

So I was ticked off after reading Kleinheider's thing, and decided to take my anger out on the poor recumbant exercise bike in the next room.

Twenty minutes later I come back to an email that says "you might like this". And what do you know....I might!!! So might many of you. (And P.S.-->How FRABJOUS is that picture?!?!)

You're just like me!
You scored 42 cynicism, 59 gullibility, and 71 heart!
We tend to have an intensely strong connection with one or two characters who remind us most of ourselves, as we are or wish we were. As long as our favorite characters and ships come out of this okay, we have our happy ending. There is a very dark and dry sense of humour at play in how we frame our opinions. You are probably trying to convince yourself that one of the Weasley twins will die, and only one will live, not because you want it to happen, but so you'll be prepared if it does—you identify more strongly with any given Weasley than with Harry. You probably want Snape to be good based on canon evidence, and very likely won't cry if Harry dies. This doesn't mean you don't care about him, just that you have a good handle on what to expect, and won't be surprised by whatever happens, because you've examined all possible outcomes.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 15% on cynicism
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 46% on gullibility
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 84% on heart
Link: The Predict the Last Potter Book Test written by beyond_pale on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

AC and The Jews

Kleinheider wants to know if Israel had advanced knowledge about the Towers' destruction.

I get that A.C. is not one of the pro-Israel nuts (such as me), but really?

There was an in depth piece in the Sunday Herald by Neal Mackay on 02 November, 2003.

It was debated to death at that point. The original story, thin on evidence, has become part of the anti-Jew lexicon of hate, alongside the Pakistani News Service's claim that 4000 Jews did not show up for work on 9/11.

I doubt there's more to say about it now except this:

Why resurrect the question except to sully Israeli-American relations? Or to further sully the reputations of the Jews?

Come to think of it, those Jews have never fully answered the Blood Libel either.

Should I Or Shouldn't I?

I have a can of Black Cherry Vanilla Coke in the fridge.

Part of me is curious, part of me is slightly repulsed. So, should I taste it or not?

07 March, 2006

My Abortion Story

Their mother died in a fire, so the older sister could no longer afford to pay for the younger sister's school. So she wired the train fare and had the 14 year old girl come west to help on the farm. They had been born 9 years apart and had little in common.

One of the things they had in common was the older sister's husband. Whether he raped the girl or joined in consensual sex with her is one of those lost details. Although I suspect it may have been a little bit of both. Young girls who have no place else to go are often well aware of the cost of keeping a roof over their head. Especially when they are young girls who have been sickly their entire lives.

There was a doctor in town who would treat anyone regardless of their ability to pay. They may have asked her to abort the children (there would be three) but she would have refused. She was the daughter of Armenian refugees and took her faith in God and her hippocratic oath very seriously. She was also, as luck would have it, infertile. When the first boy was born on Christmas Eve, the doctor took him home with her to raise as her own. She named him Robert.

Two years later the young girl found herself in the same predicament--this time it was made worse by the fact that she had tuberculosis. She struggled through her illness to give birth to another boy, this time on Halloween. Again the eccentric Armenian doctor took the baby home with her, to grow up along side his brother. She named him David.

Robert is my uncle. David is my father. The two Graces are the women who were both strong enough to make it possible for me to be here. Grace Heal made the choice to carry her babies to term. Grace Beshgetoor Boyer Green made the choice to take the responsibility for the children whose lives she helped bring into the world.

Were it not for the two Graces there would not be my father who has helped literally hundreds of thousands of people through his work with the law and his charity.

Whenever I think of abortion my models are the two Graces. My story wouldn't be sufficient without either one of them. It's tempting to only remember the younger Grace who didn't abort the child. But I think it is as important to remember the other Grace--the one who used her gifts of medicine and opportunity to nuture the children whose birth she encouraged.

I'm trying to not worry so much about the law, but to instead model myself after Grace.

Someplace Else

After some good times with Sims 2 and Civ III I'm back to my alltime favourite game, and expanding Lady Dierdre's Green Gaian faction across the face of Alpha Centauri.

A few days ago I found a great website for desktops that expand the mood of the game outward. It's fun because I sort of feel like I'm actually in space, on that other world.

If you like rendered spacescapes and moonscapes, check out Moodflow. Makes a nice change from Bondi Lines.

06 March, 2006

Dinner For Five Guys

Tim and I were watching Dinner For Five tonight. The guests were Frank Darabont, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard and Alan Cumming. (No sir, I will not buy any face cream with that brand name, clever though it may be.)

About twenty minutes into the show it hit me. The hidden chip on my shoulder that I think is (no pun intended) the elephant in the room with me and Hollywood. What it is that bugs me more than anything, and why I am having a hard time believing in the Tolerance Brigade and Mr. Clooney's bravery.

I'm a fat girl. I'm a smart girl, a pretty girl, a clever girl and a funny girl. But I'm also girthy. The brave movies, the forward movies, the tolerant movies--you can sup with others of another race. You can triumph over Communism. You can even have sex with another guy. Just whatever you do--don't fall in love with, don't show in any way, don't even acknowledge the existence of the fat chicks. This is the state of what I consume, and probably why I consume less. No one looks like me.

Is this why I am brought to tears by a soap commercial, and why I had a lump in my throat for all of Sara Ramirez' scenes in Grey's Anatomy? Probably. There is a glimmer of hope in those viewings that just doesn't exist in any of the Hollywood product I've seen.

I gobble up Dinner For Five like candy corn. I can't get enough of the anecdotes, the cross-chatter and the sense of fun. But tonight's show drove home the truth. Frank (not skinny) Darabont can hold the table in rapt attention. He has ripping tales as a writer and they all seemed to respect his mind and his humour. But I'm betting Shonda Rhimes will never be at that table. When the women are there, they are tiny little Neve Campbell ("What's it like to dance?!"), petite Christina Ricci or emaciated Rosanna Arquette. Rosanna had a lot to say about the lack of roles for older women. Rosanna, honey, let's talk. If you're fat you're older your whole life.

Is it a coincidence that box office takes are shrinking as America gets steadily larger? Probably, but I'm beginning to doubt it. If George Clooney wants to convince me that he's outside the mainstream, his next onscreen love interest could be at least a size 12.