30 November, 2006

Stay Home, Sickos OR The Problem With Perfect Attendence

If you're sick, please stay home from work.

A survey by tax and business law information and software provider CCH says 56 percent of employers now report that "presenteeism," when sick employees show up for work, is a problem for them. ... CCH says sick people reporting for work not only have a lower rate of productivity, but they pass their illness around to other workers and customers.

I cannot stand having sick coworkers in the office. You know the type. They come in, stick their mucousy head in their boss' door and then sit in their cubes sniffling, sneezing and complaining. Halfway through the morning you trip over them in the breakroom digging through the first-aid kit for those two-packs of generic pills or nuking mugs of tea. They leave sheets of paper on the copier and make the rounds to all the cubes of other friend coworkers (yourself included) to moan about their misery.

A few days later they're in fine form, but others have caught the krep they brought with them on their "good attendence" day and decided (wisely) to stay home. The former sicko then spends a good portion of the day letting everyone around them know that they are a much better employee because THEY showed up when they were sick. The former sicko will corner you in the ladies' room and gripe about how all the others don't deserve their higher salaries because they'll take a sick day.

I can't vouch for all jobs everywhere, but in my experience most of them are not brain surgery. Very few people are actually inexpendable on a grander scale. If you were my employee I would much rather you stay home for one or two days and get well. It beats having you unproductive around the office for twice that amount of time and losing several other people to sick days as well.

I've always thought "perfect attendence" was a bit of a joke. I mean, for crying out loud Robots can show up every day. People are human and it's normal to take time off work.

Lee Camp And The Future Of Christianity

I've tried to stay out of the Lee Camp conversation because I didn't feel that we had all the facts and I did believe that Dr. Camp's thoughts were most probably taken well out of context by the author of the article in the Tennessean. I've also tried to stay out of the debate because I've been going through one of those periods that Christians often refer to as 'the silence of God'. There are those times we all have where the glass is just a little bit darker than usual, and what we see of God is even more out of focus. I've had the extremely painful experience of having my faith attacked by other Christians, and that has caused me a great deal of emotional and spiritual anger--anger with which I am still struggling to deal.

There were many responses to Dr. Camp's words in the blogosphere yesterday that piled onto that anger.

I am a political conservative in the mold of Reagan and Goldwater. I am also a Christian conservative. But I think more than anything else it is very important to not confuse the two, and to not allow the political self to dictate the Christian self. If we're Christians we acknowledge Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But more and more lately it seems like many of us see ourselves as Knights of the Inquisition. We view ourselves as having some dispensation from the remote King to go about the world and bring converts to Him by force and through pain.

I'm sorry, but that's not how I feel. We're fishers, not Knights. We fish gently--with nets, not hooks and CERTAINLY NOT dynamite. We are to spread the net of Christ to draw others in.

I take a lot of grief for being a libertarian, but I truly believe that's the only way we can save a church that has spent the last 20 years corrupted by the greed of earthly politics.

29 November, 2006

I Think I'm Getting Dumber As I Age

I was not the smartest kid in school, but I could hold my own pretty well. As an adult I've been able to make it to 36.5 without dying a Darwin Award-worthy death.

But I swear to you that I'm stupider than I used to be.

As I read back through this blog I see that I am mixing up the their/there/they'res and the its/it's thingies. I keep wanting to type "half to" instead of "have to" and only very occasionally do I get lay/lie correct.

But now, today, just this afternoon, I fell asleep during an educational program. I have the "Thanksgiving wasn't all it's cracked up to be" special from the History Channel on TiVo, and have saved it for a day when I had some handwork to do in front of the television. I normally love these historical things, where the kindly Lord Vampire/Grandpa Gillmore walks us through the high points of history with his gentle voice and some SCA team gets to fulfill their long-standing wishes of portraying people in corsets in front of a national audience. It's interesting.

But today, not so much. My first thought was "this is like a movie we'd have to watch in High School." My second thought was ZZZZZZZZZ.

It makes me want to do a crossword puzzle or something to prove myself.

Harvest Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

This is my Sweet potato soup recipe.

The original is from Taste Of Home magazine, but I have altered it slightly:

1. Instead of 3 cups chicken broth I use 5. It makes it less fibrous and more soupy once you blend everything together.
2. I use more onion.
3. I use more basil.
4. I don't use the bay leaves.
5. Sometimes I will add 1/2 Cup of half-and-half to the soup once blended to make it a bit creamier. Today is one of those times.

Stuff I'm Thinking

:: Studio 60 is actually getting better. Meanwhile, what have they DONE to Veronica Mars?

:: Why do we have to talk about football in church? I freely admit that I don't groove on football, so there's that. But it seems to me that if we have a very limited time to talk about church things like, you know, THE BIBLE, that maybe we could limit our jocular ribbing about various team sports to pre- and post-church activities. Stopping the actual God-related conversation to point out whose team beat whose seems kinda to be getting on my nerves.

:: I make the best sweet potato soup EVER, and that's what we're having for dinner. As pathetic as it sounds, I'm looking forward to dinner. The only bad part is that you have to puree the cooked soup in a blender to give it a bisque-y texture. I usually screw that part up really bad. Like "help me get the orange goo off the ceiling" bad.

:: I had a dream the other night that I had twin babies (boy and girl) but the hospital staff took my son away and wouldn't give him back. I spent long stretches of the night yelling "Where's my son?" and throwing around pots and pans. (It was a dream, where they have kitchens all over the hospital.) Hmmm. Maybe THAT's why I'm making sweet potato soup. I have an urge to mess up a kitchen.

:: I tried to email my Amazon Wish List to my family members so they know exactly which knitting books to buy me, and I couldn't get it right. So much for simplicity.

:: I'm betting that we get the title to the next Harry Potter book no later than December 21st. Of this year. I have nothing to base that on other than pure instinct. So cross your fingers with me.

:: Is this Zune thing such a good idea? Yes, I'm a Mac Freak so I'm totally biased. But honestly, they're really pushing the 'social interaction' aspect--like that's a good thing. Someone decided to get the entire cast of the Buy The World A Coke campaign from the 70s and stick them in the Zune marketing. It's the music player for hippies!!! Worldly hippies who can afford music players! And want to listen to each other's music! And can't just buy a set of speakers! So they'll squirt each other a song! Never mind that Microsoft has more viruses than a Bangkok whore, and the whole idea of indiscriminate file transmission across the Windows DRM screams INFECT ME!!!! louder than Robin Williams' trying to steal the spotlight back from younger, funnier comedians. I guess I just don't get it. Then again, I'm definitely not in their target market so who knows.

28 November, 2006

I Think I Want The 7th Season of Seinfeld As A Christmas Present**

I haven't said anything about the whole Michael Richards debacle because, frankly, who cares? I always thought Kramer was an arsetard and hated it whenever he'd burst into Jerry's apartment, twitching like a meth-head with his penis in an electrical outlet. Toward the end of the show's run, the audience would have to wait looonger and looooonger for the Kramerplause to die down upon his goofy entrance.

To that end, Richards has always struck me as two things: basically without inherent talent and a huge laugh whore. So when he went on a racist tirade (and it was racist, dude) I just chalked it up to another point it the loser column. Make no mistake. He knows he's a loser. In fact, it was having that fact pointed out to him in no uncertain terms that sent him into further racist spewage.

But here's where I break with the latest salvos in this ongoing puppet show. As with all things in the news, my best bet is to play "follow the money." Apparently the latest Seinfeld Boxed Set has just come out. Richards' rant may have been the worst level of racist badinage, but there was no dead girl and no live boy. People are talking about Seinfeld again. The show is on the public's consciousness just in time for the DVD to be on sale. But now Jesse "I don't pay my taxes" Jackson tells us all to refrain from purchasing the DVDs. I'm all for the hit-em-where-they-live approach. Don't buy Dixie Chicks records. Don't buy Seinfeld DVDs. Don't pay money for a Tom Cruise flick. Whatever tickles your fancy. Speak with your wallet.

But here's where I break with the whole thing. If we aren't buying the Seinfeld DVDs because some talentless washed up costar of the show is a racist nutbag, why isn't Jackson also telling us to not buy Family Guy DVDs, Chris Rock DVDs, Boondocks DVDs and any of the countless other products on the entertainment shelf that promote racial discord? Why is it just this instance of bigotry that has us in tether? Because, frankly, racism isn't going to go away if we keep laughing at it. If Michael Richards' stint as Kramer has taught us anything it's that the louder you laugh at something ugly, the longer it stays in the spotlight.

**Family members who are buying me a gift need to realise that this post title is a joke. I can't stand Seinfelds later seasons.

27 November, 2006

I Need Some Advice, Please.

Seriously. I have no idea for the proper ettiquette for this business and am hoping some of you out there can pony up a suggestion OR just tell me I'm being too much of a fussypants and to let it go.

The Scenario

We live in a house. The house has a fenced-in backyard, and has done for 7.25 of the 7.5 years we've lived here.

We just got new people next door, whom I have not yet met. When they first moved in they contacted us about building their own fence. They wanted to abut our fence on one side to save them money. Which makes sense. Judging by the cost of ours, it probably saved them at least $500 to use one side of our fence instead of replicating that wall. It also gives them (by default) about 6 inches of our property, as we built our fence within our property line.

They have at least one dog. We have two.

Their house is slighly uphill from ours, so from their yard you can see over our fence into our yard, but from ours you can see nothing in theirs.

The Problem

Their dog sees our dog and pees on the mutual section of fence to mark it. This fence has "belonged" to my dog for his entire life. He can't see the other dog, but he can smell it so he barks at the fence whenever he goes out there. it's been nice over the weekend and he's been out there a lot. I don't want to tick off the entire neighbourhood with my dog's barking but I also don't want to punish him for guarding his own property against a perceived intruder.

The Advice

Do I keep my dog inside so he doesn't bark?
Do I say something to the neighbors and ask them to let their dog meet my dogs to remove some of the mystery?
Shouldn't our new neighbours have at least offered us a gift certificate or SOMETHING as a thank you for saving them hundreds of dollars? Should we have asked for money?

Anyway, whatever thoughts you have, let me know.

Weird Girl

Kerry Woo wants me to tell people six kinds of wierdness that I have. This may be difficult since most of this blog is about chronicling my oddities in long form. But since I love to be tagged, I guess I'll try and go along with this.

And, oh yeah, I was correct. I have kind of done this before. Except that one was only five. And now I have to come up with SIX more...which brings me near a dozen kinds of weird. I'll play along as long as this doesn't end up being used at my eventual commitment hearing(s).

1. I am afraid of antiques.

I know I've said this before, but it cannot be said enough. Antiques are scary. Whenever I look at a piece of antique furniture it seems to hold a part of the spirits of all the now-dead people who touched it, used it and looked at it. I feel like antiques shout the banality of the dead whenever I walk by. The worst kinds of antiques are those horrible metal toys. Really, what kind of freak not only took the time to think this up but manufacture it as well?

I am also afraid of clowns, but that doesn't count as wierd, since many people feel the same way.

2. I cannot eat food that has been in or near a bathroom.

Again, something I've mentioned but must be mentioned again. You wanna know how engrained this has become for the people who know me? Last summer I was in the bathroom and shouted for my husband to bring me some medication. He brought it and stood patiently outside the door. When I screamed (I was in considerable pain) at him to bring it to me in the bathroom he decided then and there that I needed to go to the emergency room. If I'm sick enough to wash a pill down with a sip of water while in the bathroom, I'm pretty darned sick.

Let it be known that I no longer will drink out of that glass. Or any of the other 5 glasses in the cupboard which are identical to it. Six months later.

3. I invent things in my head to try to fall asleep faster.

Whenever I can't fall asleep I try to think through an invention in my head. They're generally "impossible" things, like a vat of jelly you could sleep in just like a tub but without drowning. Usually thinking through the mechanics of the thing lulls my mind.

4. I crave weird pets.

Don't get me wrong. I love my dogs. I really do. They are my children. But if I had my way (and a much more permissable husband) I would also have a pig, a bat and a monkey. I think all of these animals are both smart and adorable. Don't believe me? check this out.

5. I once learned the entire German-language version of '99 Luftbalons' just because.

I can't hardly remember it now, because I've tried to block all knowledge of German from my mind. But my favourite part of the song was when it would be all german german german Captain Kirk german german german. I just thought that was funny.

6. I spent an entire year with my Spanish teacher convinced my name was Francesca.

She was half nuts. Her name was--no joke--Mrs. Strange, and she would spend many class hours telling us how she once made a chocolate milkshake for Jose 'Feliz Navidad' Feliciano. Everyone was supposed to go by a Spanish-ised version of his or her name in class, but I insisted that Francine was my second-middle name and wanted to go by Francesca. The sad part? Three months into it I felt ridiculous whenever she would refer to me as 'Francesca' and desperately wanted to revert to Katerina. But no. I was hoist by mine own petard.

I should tag others, but I won't because everyone seems to have done this already. If you haven't and you want to, climb aboard.

Movie Vegan

Brittney went public over the Holiday weekend with her commitment to veganism. I admire her dedication to her principles, even if I'm not going to follow her actions.

But I will say definitely, without a doubt, I am a Movie Vegan.

I will not see movies about animals. As Grandefille said in the comments to this post, even the trailer for Charlotte's Web makes her (and me) openly weepy. For some reason, every movie about animals seems to involve either the threat of slaughter or outright death. I cannot handle it.

There's something about the death of animals in movies that breaks my heart more than the death of humans in movies. I think it's because the people characters generally do something to encourage and hasten their death--trying to blow up Nakitomi Towers, trying to shut down Dulles airport--but the animals are just innocent and looking to be loved.

I don't see animal movies anymore. The last one I saw in the theatre was Babe, and that was under protest. You can't pay me to see any animal movies in the theatre. The few minutes of March Of The Penguins I saw over the weekend were a dreadful mistake, but one that confirmed my No Animal Movies rule.

The sad part is that I'm beginning to not like movies where an animal is in danger, even if the animal is so minor a character as to be a footnote. My sister and husband were both witness to my loud and long wails about the poor dog whose life was in jeopardy in Pirates Of The Carribean: Dead Man's Chest. My brother had to actually pacify me with his philosophy of cannibalism. How sad is it that I would rather have seen the islanders eat Johnny Depp than the poor doggy?

26 November, 2006

March Of The Penguins

Is depressing.

25 November, 2006

The Things You Miss When You're A Shut-In* or Merry Christmas, Nashville


I didn't mean to start something. Or be the Katalyst. And after the fracas 2 short weeks ago I've no desire to see yet another one perpetuated on my behalf. But, it's Christmas. And we all "know" each other even if we don't know each other. And we're almost all fed up with our families, our lack of families, financial pressure, health concerns and the blanket of blech that the holidays engender in most people.

It's easier to take out your anger on people you don't see every day. People you don't sleep with. (For the record, I'm not sleeping with either JP or Ivy.)

I often worry that Kat's becoming a shut-in...(all other evidence to the contrary -- she's one of the most out-and-about-town bloggers I know, actually), when she keeps pontificating about and becoming so emotionally involved with all these TV shows...

First off, this remark didn't hurt my feelings. JP is most likely not aware of the reason I watch so much tv. Why would he be?
Second off, I've intentionally been writing about TV--just like I did last year--instead of other things. I'm stressed out about politics, I don't feel like opening up the more private parts of my life on the Internet right now and TV is a safe topic that most people can relate to. I'm not a shut-in. I'm just wisely protecting the thoughts and feelings I believe need to be protected during what is traditionally a difficult time for me and scores of other people.

You,[JP] on the other hand, go after Kat for the most peurile reasons.

To my mind JP is kind of like a puppy. He's got two moods. When he's in a good mood, he seems to like to play by jumping up and down, barking a lot and occasionally nipping with milk-teeth. When he's in a bad mood, he likes to bite a little harder and becomes troll-ish. I try to sense his moods. I get along okay with happy-puppy JP and try to ignore snarly JP.

I've always though Kat was adult enough to "play rough," as she has with me, and others. I treat her no differently than I would anyone else who does likewise. I like Kat, too, and I'm sorry if you or she don't understand or perceive that.

Likewise, some days I'm in the mood to "play rough", and some days I'm not. On the "not" days, I write about television. Or cake. Or knitting. Or Harry Potter. A man who keeps a blog chiefly about a cat should be able to relate to that, I think. I never thought for one minute that you didn't like me, JP. Quite the contrary. If you didn't like me, I doubt I'd draw so much of your playfulness.

At 9:16 AM, ntodd said...
This has got to be the stupidest pissing match I've ever seen in the blogosphere. Ever. Maybe Nashville should stop talking.

nTodd, this is a community. Some members of whom (like me) are libertarians. Good luck telling us to stop talking. We'll always talk. Sometimes we'll fight. That's how communities do.

For the record, there are few things I hate worse than someone coming into an already-going discussion, declaring the discussion stupid or embarassing and then passing judgment on those already involved in the forth-and-back. To outsiders many discussions appear stupid or unnecessary. But all discussions are part of the community and need to take place if members of the community deem it necessary.

This is Christmas. This is a community. Stuff like this happens. We roll with it and move on.

Thanks, by the way, to Ivy for being moved to stick up for me. That was a nice thing.

24 November, 2006

"Live"blogging Thanksgiving

This is "Live"blogging Macy's Parade Style--where everything is actually pre-recorded. Or post-recorded. Whatever.


I get up. I didn't intend to be up this early, but dogs' bladders apparently have no idea what a "day off" is, and so Hubster was out of bed. I think I'm becoming one of those old women who can't sleep if her spouse is not beside her. Looks like I'm taking "codependant" to a whole new level. Turns out my spouse is in the basement watching a The Wire DVD. I decide to play some Alpha Centauri. Game of the Year, 1999. Yes. I AM officially elderly.


I realise that I have a ginormous turkey, and if it doesn't get in the oven soon, we won't eat until Christ is back to share in the bounty. So up the stairs goes my butt.


Interesting news: Onions make my eyes water just as badly at 7:15 A.M. as they do at 7:15 P.M.. Good to know.


What was the Christmas season like before Mannheim Steamroller? And whatever happened to the New Christy Minstrels?


Big Bird is in the oven, boobie-side down. I've discovered this makes for tolerable white meat and fewer bastings. The biggest news of the day is that for the first time ever I remembered to take out the center rack before the oven was hot. Yay, me! It's only been about 20 years coming, but hey. Milestones are always a good thing.


We need butter, so Hubster and I venture over the river and through the woods to our friendly neighbourhood Food Lion. We both remark on our love for going out in public on a Holiday. It reinforces the feel of specialness since nobody is on the road. It's almost as though we had the world to ourselves.

Until we walked into the Food Lion. Apparently many people decide to do a lot of their shopping on Thanksgiving morning. That store was packed. I decided we needed a green vegetable. And since it's Thanksgiving, that means that our "green vegetable" must be slathered in goo. So we got the stuff to make a green bean casserole. In what would be a very close call, we almost forgot the butter. The one thing we actually came to the store for in the first place.


My sister calls. Northern Indiana is a fog-encased death trap. She's on her way to pick up my grandmother. I wonder if a cell-phone conversation is the safest option, given the fact that visibility is one-tenth of a mile. Luckily, both women made it back to the homestead without incident.


CSI is great to watch on Comcast OnDemand.


Talk to my brother at my parents' house. His allergies are nasty and he has to have surgery. He then hands the phone off to my mother suddenly by saying "I have to go help B. with the haircleaning." ????? That's my family. Hair-cleaning on Thanksgiving, when company is due any minute. I try not to puzzle over this too much.


FINALLY!!!! [Wire Spoiler]

Carver and Bunk actually speak and figure out that Herc never delivered Randy as a witness in Lex's murder. Of course it only took Randy being pummelled to a pulp for everyone to get together. See, this is why I would make a good cop. If I were Carver I would have called Bunk the very day after Herc was supposed to drop Randy off to see if Randy helped the investigation in any way. I'm nosy like that. I would then know that Herc bogarted Randy and would have been able to save Randy from a serious buttkick and Little Kevin from a quicklime-nap in the vacants. Would someone fire Herc already?

[End Wire Spoiler]


The part of the day I like to refer to as "the ballet". This is where Hubster peels white and sweet potatoes, I make a greenbean casserole and then set the table while things cook. Then I candy the sweets, mash the whites, heat the rolls, clean up the kitchen and get the gravy pan ready. I've done this for about 10 years now. It's a science. I love it. I don't think I could do this every day, but I really enjoy cooking. When I do it well and in syncronicity like this I feel a bit like a conductor in front of an orchestra of starch.


Lunch. Yummy.

Hubster and I then engage in our #1 Thanksgiving Family Tradition: "Raining Turkey From the Sky". This is where we let the dogs go into the backyard, I stand on the deck just off the kitchen and throw pieces of turkey at them from one story up.


Tryptophan+Early Rising=long naps


Hubster cleans up the kitchen from lunch (bless his sainted heart). I talk to my mom on the phone and the mystery of the haircleaning is solved. Apparently my sister was getting dog hair off the sofa. That made more sense than some random beauty-parlor shampooing, which is what I was picturing.


This is the part of the day I will always think of as Bloody Thursday. Casey, the dog of 1000 foot problems, has an infected toenail. I did not know it was infected until I tried to trim it. He yelped in excruciating pain and limped away. Getting blood everywhere. And the blood would NOT stop. I think I've blocked most of this big fun time, but there was a lot of me cleaning the kitchen floor, Hubster steaming the carpet and Casey bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. I swear I am the worst mother alive. Just thinking about it makes me want to stab my own foot in penance.


The evening got a lot better eventually. Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand, was kind of a bring-down.

All in all it was a very memorable Thanksgiving.

I want to say a special thank you to the various people who invited us to share the holiday with them today. The kindness in those offers really overwhelms me and makes me realise that good friends are a huge treasure. About 10 years ago we dedicated Thanksgiving to be our "quiet holiday", which works out pretty well. As much as I get homesick for a large group of family and friends during the Holiday season, having a day with just our small, nontraditional family is a huge blessing. It allows us the freedom to enjoy each other's company without too much stress. As long as we don't cut our dog's toenails.

22 November, 2006

"It's What Losers Put Online For People To Read"

Ah, NCIS. How I've loved spending Tuesday nights with you. You've been one of those nice shows that allows me to ease into my twilight years without too much pain. Stick Mark Harmon in something and I'm liable to forgive a multitude of other sins.

I've sat by while you killed Kate. I've been patient while you dragged in the "Israeli" woman who speaks two trunkloads of languages fluently yet still manages to mess up one English idiom per week. Whenever this happens I'm reminded of Uma Thurman's vaudeville joke gimmick from "Fox Force Five". It's a throwback to the lame TV of the 70s. But I've still watched.

I've turned an almost-blind eye to the grosstastic relationship between Mark Harmon and Lauren Holly. And I've not said one word about how Lauren Holly looks like a monkey with lipstick ever since she cut her hair short for this season.

But you, my friends, have gone too far. Last night you insulted blogs, and by extension, bloggers. You act like there are not roughly 50 million of us. In fact, more people write blogs than watch your one-foot-in-the-social-security-line show. But you have to go and insult us through the mouth of a cheerleader.

Yes, I'm burning from the insult, but not too badly. I'm also excited about the personal connection I now have to your little police procedural. You see, until last night I had no idea that the staff of the Nashville Scene wrote for NCIS. Hey, Kay, can you get me Mark Harmon's autograph?

21 November, 2006

Men Vs. Women: All The Men Are WRONG!!!

I thought we were alone in my house and that the culture war we've been waging has been solely between me and Hubster. But the comments on this post over at Brittney's would seem to prove me wrong.

Our argument is one that everyone seems to be having. It appears to be split nearly down the middle, with men on one side and women on the other. And allow me to say once and for all that all the men are WRONG.

Yes, I realise that Jim put himself out there, only to be rejected by an insecure Pam. I also realise that That B!tch Karen represents a bird in the hand to a heartsick and lonely Jim. I realise that Jim is trying to move past his love for Pam and use TB!K as a bandaid for his broken heart.

But honestly, guys. Pam and Jim belong together. Pam is nervous about her future. She spent years being emotionally stifled by that complete dunderhead Roy. The only times when she has any self-confidence at all are when she interacts with Jim. Don't believe me? Rewatch the episode where Jan offers Pam a shot at a Graphic Design internship. Any woman who hadn't been beaten down by a three-year engagement to a lunkhead would take that job. But the woman who allowed her boyfriend to systematically suck away her self-worth has no ability to believe in her own strength.

Jim blindsided her and then left town. He never called or kept any contact with her, which just reinforced her feelings of low self-esteem. She DID take what little bit of pride his confession of love engendered to break off her engagement to Roy. But now she's left wanting what she can't have. The whole comedy of errors is as much Jim's fault as it is Pam's. And they belong together.

Harry Potter Teaser Trailer Question

For those of you who know and/or care, I have a question about the teaser trailer.

Does it look like the Six are are on broomsticks for the flight to the Ministry? There are two short snatches--past a ship and past Parliament--and I've watched closely. It looks like broomsticks to me. I hope not--there was no reason to NOT have it be Thestrals.

Holiday Movies

I've got certain films I watch every year to get my psyched for the holiday season. I realised yesterday that my movie season officially starts tomorrow. Here's my list, but feel free to pile on with other suggestions:

Day Before Thanksgiving

Love, Actually
This is a new tradition, but it's one I'm sticking to. I realise this movie has been pummelled on both sides of the Atlantic and people hate it in droves. It has the distinction of being mocked (as Love, Indubitably) in several episodes of Arrested Development.

I can't help myself. I love it anyway. It's a great way to kick off the splurge of festivities by reminding you of all the different types of love in the world.


The Latest Harry Potter DVD
I'm not a football person. (My apologies, sir) In an odd way, the Harry Potter clan are like a home away from home for me, so sitting down to watch an HP movie is like inviting relatives over who won't bring burnt pecan pie and eat all the mashed potatoes.

The Season

Network television obliges by being thrown into massive reruns between Christmas and Thanksgiving. Well, either massive reruns or holiday-themed junk like Barry Aiken Lighting the Giant Squid At The Rockefeller White House. Yawn. I choose to load up on the following flicks.

Mixed Nuts
I have no idea why this isn't a holiday classic worshipped far and wide. Transvestites, serial killers, knitters and a suicide hotline--what more could you ask for in a Christmas movie?

It's A Wonderful Life
"No man is a failure who has friends". That's why I watch this. To feel like an abject failure. I have no friends. HA!
Actually that's not true. I watch this because half of my life feels like I'm fleeing from the tyranny of the hundreds of Mr. Potters out in the real world. I want to be George Bailey when I grow up. George is everybody. Who out there hasn't had a real and vibrant dream they've had to simmer down to a seemingly bleak reality? What better time to be reminded that sometimes the simple life is the best life than at Christmas?

My only complaint about this movie is actually from a seed planted by my mother. She complains (and rightly so) that as happily as the movie ends for George, Mr. Potter never has to give back the $8K he stole from Uncle Billy. That does irk me. But since the movie is fundamentally about how money doesn't matter I guess I'll let it slide.

The Godfather Saga
Like Meredith Gray, part of me is all dark and twisty. I defy you to find a better holiday family saga than these movies. They're all about family. Sure, it's a family that has people (and horses) killed with impunity. But it's a family movie, and the holidays are a family time.

The Lord of the Rings
Come on. Of COURSE you have to watch them at Christmas time. Although I give you permission to fast-forward the seemingly-endless Sam & Frodo stuff from the last movie. You may also fast-forward large chunks of the Merry and Pippen Riding Treebeard nonsense.

The Homecoming
This is another forgotten classic. It's the pilot TV movie for The Waltons, and focuses on Christmas Eve at Walton's Mountain. I still can't figure out why this one is not in heavy rotation at Christmastime. Thankfully I've got an old VHS--almost worn through--that I can pop in and enjoy.

20 November, 2006


I'm not usually one for squonking the Harry Potter trailers frame-by-frame.

But I have to tell you that this teaser-trailer has me more excited than I've been prior to any other Potter film.

For a London geek like me, that flight to the Ministry past Parliament is one of the coolest things I've seen on film. I think I feel a new desktop coming on.

Day Of The Black Dog

I want so much to be thankful. I have more things to be thankful for than I could shake a stick at.

But I am afraid that my Black Dog is rearing his head and issuing a throaty bark.

Counting blessings is easy, and when you have a black dog a lot of times blessings counting serves as a form of whistling past the graveyard. "I can't be down, because I have a freezer full of meat!!!"

I've found that saying the sad things outloud is sometimes better. It's a way of shouting back at the dog, of barking more loudly than he. It's also a way to let people know your humanity and show that all humanity is the same on one level. So why is my black dog howling? What is making him claw at the gates?

Well, for starters, it's the start of The Holidays. Yes, I say "Christmas" when I'm talking specifically of that holiday, but for me the season of the bark starts with Thanksgiving and runs through January 6th. It's my favourite time of year on one level, but on another level it is the time of greatest pain.

I love the holidays, and I love big gatherings of family. Yet here I am, 450 miles from the closest non-spousal family I have. While others are meeting for lovely brunches and Christmas tree shopping with loved ones, I get to hear about it a week later over the telephone. I also get to pretend that buying gifts for my dogs is the same thrilling activity as buying presents for my human children. Have you ever seen a dog's face light up when they unwrap a chew toy? Not the same thing, I think.

In my mind I've idealised Holidays as a sort of Hallmark wonderworld with bright lights and hugs and cake, and then placed myself squarely outside it all. I tend to forget that every holiday in Real Space involves arguments over logistics, worries about money and the stress of ill health. I never humanise any Holiday until it's too late.

So there you have it. The source of my black dog. Maybe now he'll stop with the yowling.

18 November, 2006

This Should Please My Mother

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

See, Mom. I did more than pass notes in High School. Really.

Hat tip to Kathy T. for hunting this sucker down.

Dear Brand-New Neighbours

I realise you may not have received a copy of the Covenants and Restrictions for the Homeowners' Association. That is especially unfortunate for me because if you had you would know that you can't do construction before 9:00am.

Seriously, folks. Hammering and nailgunning your fence at 7:00am on a Saturday is NOT a good way to make friends. Especially when your fence project is right next to my bedroom.

17 November, 2006

Ninety Years On

My grandmother is 90 today. I've had three grandmothers, but by default of life circumstance I spent the most time with my mom's mother.

I don't know how to say all the things I want to say, because when it comes to people you look up to, words often seem inadequate. For someone like me who deals in words having a lack of words brings the power of your love for a person into clear focus.

When I was a small child my Grandma was another star in the revolving constellation of adults who loved me and shaped me. She taught me about God and Jesus and prayer and respecting others. She taught me about hard work and enjoying the outdoors. We picked strawberries and raspberries and grapes on the farm. She taught me to call wild cats in from the forest with a sharp "Heeeere Kitty, Kitty" and a saucer of milk. She had a bright mind and a sharp sense of humour. She was a cook in the schoolhouse.

When I grew older I started to piece together the anecdotes that moved her from the category of "Grandmother" to "Person". Those breadcrumbs on the trail to the heart of my Grandmother are both fascinating and heartwrenching.

I know she wanted to be a nurse but her parents couldn't afford to send her to college. She had a passel of sisters (5 or 6 or 7, I lose count), some of whom did get to be nurses.

She married the man who was initially the boyfriend of another sister. She thought all her sisters were prettier than she. Her husband was a local basketball star. In Indiana that's one step below king.

She doesn't like her first name. Her parents cobbled it together from the pieces of her father's name, because she was the third daughter and they were giving up hopes of ever having a son. When her brother came along over a decade later, she was still stuck to a boy's name with a couple of feminine flourishes added. A boy's name she shared with her brother.

Her middle name is Fay, but she alters the spelling from time to time. I think both my cousin Christine and I have inherited our fickle name conventions from her. The last time I checked, she was spelling "Fay" p-h-a.

She had three children. My mother was first. Her brother came along five years later. Two years after him my aunt was born. I always wonder if there were lost babies between mom and Uncle Rich. Either that or WWII kept the babies at bay.

She allowed my uncle to practice taxidermy in her basement. He grew up to be a surgeon of some reknown, so I guess that wasn't entirely a bad idea.

Both my mom and my aunt became teachers. My grandmother was very proud that all of her children were able to go to college. I always feel like I've disappointed her by turning my back on my own college education. Sometimes I even consider becoming a nurse.

She loves birds. She used to have a clock that had a different bird call for each hour. That clock gave me the creeps.

There was an old roll-top desk in the living room of their farmhouse. She sat at that desk every day and had devotions. I still remember her Bible, with all the verses and thoughts bleeding over the flyleaves in various colours of ink. During my entire childhood there was a yellowed piece of newspaper taped to one of the drawers that said "Seven days without prayer makes one weak."

My grandmother is 90. Her eyesight is failing and her mind is slowly slipping into twilight. I wonder if she realises how much of herself she's left in good keeping with her family, and how much of an impact she's made.

Important Food Question

Has anyone been to Red Robin burgers? Do they have good burgers?

I admit, I've cut red meat out of my diet, but today is a day when I think I may just have to relax my standards. BUT if I'm gonna sin I wanna sin big. I want a GOOD burger.

Dear Books: What Has Happened?

I think I'm growing tired of reading. I can't find books which excite me anymore.

I just finished Turning Angel by Greg Iles...and by 'finish' I mean that I got about 150 pages in, had a good idea of where it was going and skipped to the end to make sure I was right. I was.

I'm starting to wonder if fiction writing hasn't undergone a shift in the last 10 years, a shift which is only now able to be perceived. So many of the high-earning books in publishing over the last decade have been serialised thrillers or chick lit. I'm a big fan of well-done entries in both categories, with huge props to Susan Isaacs who combines both genres into some of the best reading around. It does seem, however, that in the quest to keep the doors open the bigger publishing houses are relying on a combination of copycat writers and serialists whose works are beginning to show signs of having run their course. Exhibits A and B would be Patricia Cornwell and Jonathan Kellerman. Two writers who initially captivated and are now turning in weakened versions of their earlier works.

I've bloviated before about the odd policy of fiction reviewers. In speaking to our authors' group in May of 2005, one of the book reviewers for The Scene told us that there was a bit of a gentlemen's agreement with regard to reviewing fiction. Since the business is so hard-pressed for sales, the understanding is that no book should be criticised by a reviewer. While I can understand the idea behind this, I still think it has presented a world of emperor's new fiction. We have stacks of substandard books receiving glowing reviews. Is the reading public fooled? Once or twice maybe, but in the long run I don't think so. In the long run there are people who just quit buying books. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice and remainder most of your print run.

And that's where I'm at. I keep being bitten by books that are well-reviewed but only serve to disappoint. And I can't tell you how naked I feel without having something to read. Worse, I can't tell you how broken I feel about not wanting to read.

16 November, 2006

Things I Miss About Other Jobs I've Had

:: Contract negotiations for artwork. I loved working with artists and walking them through the legalese. I loved rewriting passages that didn't work for the specific contract situation. I loved keeping track of all the royalties we owed and when they were due.

:: Database management. I'm a spreadsheet geek and I loved working with my royalty database

:: Having a multiline phone.

:: Planning trips to Disney World for people

:: Working with airline coupons and vouchers for travel

:: Designing collateral materials for company training manuals

:: Writing catalog copy

:: Catalog pagination and layout

:: Supply rooms stocked full of office supplies

:: Negotiating deals with local printers

Unicorns And Rainbows II

:: My husband and I had a spontaneous lunch date at Sitar yesterday. The only thing better than Indian food on a rainy day is a life partner who also digs on Indian food on rainy days.

:: I have 2.3 hours of Christmas music on my iTunes, and am going to spring for the Celtic Woman Christmas, giving me more than 3 hours of Christmas music.

:: I am knee deep in a really kick-butt game of Alpha Centauri: Alien Crossfire.

:: I have a great afghan project that's really intricate and a lot of fun to work on, and I have a stack of great DVDs on their way from Netflix to knit by.

:: It's Christmas every place now. Even the little disposable storage dishes have Christmas motifs on them. Whether or not anyone says "Christmas" doesn't matter to me. Christmastime of year is Christmas in my heart and I appreciate my world putting on a bit of a show.

:: Tonight's episodes of My Name Is Earl and The Office are each running an extra 15 minutes. Woot!

:: I just said "Woot!" without feeling like too much of a fool.

15 November, 2006

Unicorns And Rainbows

So much of this blog lately is me griping about what upsets me. Today I've decided to write a few positive things that I don't normally share.

::My dog's ear medicine makes him smell like a fresh puppy. I love to nuzzle his face to smell his newness.

::Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I love planning all the different types of food I'll make.

::I've got Christmas lights strung around my desk. They look a bit like happy fireflies.

::These rainy evenings make for perfect curling-in-front-of-the-fire-with-a-book weather.

::Steak & Shake has Egg Nog and White Chocolate shakes for Christmas.

::I dreamed that my husband bought me peppermint ice cream because he knew I'd love it. I love that even my subconscious knows how thoughtful and kind he is.

::My grandmother will be 90 on Friday.

::I love going out at night this time of year. The dark seems darker so all the lights from stores and restaurants look strangely festive.

::Both my dogs have senses of humour.

14 November, 2006

I Need A New Name And Am Open To Suggestions

My name is Katherine. It's one of those names that has 1001 derivations, so every few years I feel free to change it up. To date I've gone by Kathy, Kate, Katherine, Kath, and, most recently, Kat.

"Kat" has stuck, much to the chagrin of those who knew me in the Kathy Days. Thing is, I'm tired of it because it's really an ongoing testament to my laziness. The whole reason I'm going by Kat is because I got so tired of typing "K-a-t-h-e-r-i-n-e" on every comment I made and in every email. But I'm starting to feel like an imposter.

"Kat" is a jaunty name, a devil-may-care, rebellious name. I kind of like it but it's sort of like a tramp stamp. It may have been cute once upon a time, but I feel like maybe I'm too old and wilted to be a Kat.

When we first moved to town my landlady misunderstood my name and called me "Kay" for 9 years afterward. I could never bear to correct her. I've never really liked the name "Kay", but I'm attracted to it because it's even shorter to type than "Kat." Then there's the whole problem with that other Kay... You know. The reviewer. I would hate to steal her thunder.

And K-Co works okay, except that was also the name of the whale in "Free Willy". While I'm not completely ashamed of being a size 2 to the 9th power, I'd really not like to invite the comparison (as Lucille Bluth would say.)

So for now I'm searching for a new handle.


TiVo is now going to allow us TiVoniacs to download video from the internet to watch on our televisions.

This is fantastic news for those of us who love YouTube clips, Disney World Video Podcasts and other non-copyrighted web video.

Those who dig on the copyrighted stuff have a while to wait.

TiVo's new broadband offering, however, will work only with downloaded videos that are not copy-protected, such as most user-generated clips and many video podcasts. Feature films and videos purchased from online stores like Movielink or Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL)'s iTunes will not be supported, though company officials said they are seeking to offer such protected content in the future.

Now if only they'd get that TiVo Desktop software to work on a Mac, I'd be in Geekinator heaven.

Good News & Bad News

First the Good News.

If you want to live to be 85 and healthy, you can. You just need to be trim and eat right. (Although being a Japanese man seems to help, too.)

The study involved 5,820 Japanese-American men from the Hawaiian island of Oahu, who were followed for up to 40 years, but the researchers said the results likely apply to women and men of other ethnic heritage, too.

I won't go on a rant about scientific studies basing broad conclusions on a narrowly-defined sample.

Now the Bad News.

A 12-year old girl has been given a liposuction.

Yes, you read that right. A liposuction. Society's propaganda about the dangers of overweight and the benefits of being slender (see above) have pushed a child into hating her body badly enough to undergo life-threatening surgery.

Studio 60

I had pretty much given up on this show after the Sting-Lute/Blacklist episode, but decided to give it one more try. I didn't realise that the 'one more try' show was in two parts, so I watched it both last week and again tonight.

Aaron Sorkin's got a pretty good deal going. He gets to take out the frustration of his breakup with Kristin Chenowith on me and everyone else who keeps tuning into this latest ego massage.

Those who know him have pretty much said what I would say about Sorkin using the show for a therapeutic exercise.

As a conservative evangelical Christian I should probably toss off a couple of paragraphs about how badly Christians are portrayed by the show. I should probably talk about how deeply offended I am and how the liberals in Hollywood are once again stickin' it to me and my persecuted brethren. Except I can't really bring myself to care.

Tonight's tirades about gay marriage reminded me of a teenager arguing with a parent over curfew. Instead of being an amplification of a national debate they were more the petulant ravings of an overindulged brat railing against boundaries he thinks are unfair. I was reminded of a few moments in this season of The Wire. The juvenile delinquents in the special class at Tighlman Middle School spent a lot of time yelling "F--- You!!!" at their teachers in an effort to get suspended so they could sling heroin on the Corner. I kind of feel like that's half the motive behind Sorkin's much wordier "F---- You" to the audience. He wants to see how far he can push Red State America before they give him the satisfaction of cancelling the show. Either way he wins. If the show stays on he's got a job. If it gets the axe he has the satisfaction of being able to tell himself that it was cancelled not because all the good plots were recycled from his other shows and the bad plots were transparent reworkings of his couples' therapy. No. If the show is cancelled, Sorkin will be able to gently fondle the memories of his tirades against Right Wing Christians and chalk his failure to entertain up to the closed minds of middle America.

If I keep watching--something I doubt I'll do--it'll be for the same reason Alan Sepinwall watches.
I think I'm reclassifying it as a trainwreck, the show I like to watch just so I can look at the screen and yell about all the things that are going wrong with it.

13 November, 2006

Two Very Important Questions

In an effort to become a better mother I just looked up my dog's latest prescription.

It's an antidepressant that apparently also has itch-control properties.

That leaves me with two questions:

1. How can I hide my dog from Tom Cruise?

2. Is it wrong to take medication prescribed for your dog? It is Monday the 13th, after all.

Truth and Fiction and a Feminist Libertarian Firebrand

Aside from the Bible--which I consider to be more of an instruction manual--there are three books I read every year.
The Harry Potter Series
A Girl Of The Limberlost
The Little House Series

All three are highly moral coming-of-age stories, wherein the protaganist(s) have to overcome hardships small and large. They are all very atmospheric books that successfully transport me to another place and time and are peopled with characters I think of as friends. I always knew that HP and Limberlost were fictional, but the Little House books were extra great because they were TRUE. Or so I was taught in school.

One of the bigger disappointments in my life was finding out at 18 that the Little House books were a James Frey-ish 'based on a true story in the most limited of ways' concoction. In fact LH is part of the reason I am so distrustful of 'true' memoirs.

If the fictionalised nature of the books wasn't disappointing enough, a few years ago I came across the scholarly debates about who actually wrote the book. Not only were the books mostly fiction, but now there are a number of experts who agree that they were probably mostly written not by beloved Laura but by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Great, just great.

I was a girl of the 70s. Laura was a role model. She was a scrappy girl who grew up on TV and in books and turned out to be a famous writer. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. To me, Rose was nothing more than a footnote, a baby born in the last book of the series and part of the happy ending for the Wilder clan.

Boy did I have it wrong. Rose is the role model. Rose is the person who took her mother's notes and wove them into a captivating series of books grounded in feminist and libertarian ideals. Rose is the woman who wanted America to be as free as the prairie where her mother grew up, and sought to present a picture of a libertarian world in terms so simple a child would yearn for it. Pa hunts without a license and makes his own bullets by the fire. The family moves house as they please, and while Indians show up from time to time the bigger threat to the Ingalls' homesteading is the arbitrary nature of governmental regulation.

I've grown up. I no longer want to be Laura. I want to be Rose.

**Malia has been reading the books with her daughter and wrote a post recently about Laura's feminist integrity. It was that post that inspired me to talk about my love for the books and my evolution of respect for Rose Wilder Lane.

12 November, 2006

Magic, Fantasy and Things You Can Touch

So this weekend has been host to our half-hearted attempt at a Star Wars marathon. For the first time ever (I think) the Cobles are endeavouring to watch all 6 SW movies back to back. Unlike your traditional movie marathon, we are watching them in fits and starts. Seeing as how today is Sunday and we've only made it through the first two films, you could say this is one of the more relaxed marathons out there.

A few days ago I watched a documentary on the making of Empire Strikes Back. It reminded me of how fascinated I was with those behind-the-scenes exposés when I was a kid. The total nerd in me couldn't get enough of Starlog articles showing George, Mark and Irvin standing around the full-size Dagobah set. I wanted so badly to be part of that world where fantasy intersects with reality in interesting, tangible ways.

All the best fantasy stories have a level of grounding in reality. Narnia has the world on this side of the wardrobe; Harry Potter has everything on the muggle side of platform 9 3/4. In the beautiful Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell the land of Faerie is just a mirror away. (I hate Lewis Carroll's Alice books, but he, too uses mirrors to bridge this world and that.) For all you Tolkein fans out there I would posit that the strong allegory to Great Britain serves as The Rings' touchstone to "our" world. The fantasy becomes more vivid when contrasted with the mundane. In a way I think these stories also serve an allegory to our relationship with God. We understand that we are part of this world, but faith and a sense of knowing connect us to that other, richer, more vibrant place.

I think fantasy works best when you see its connection to the tangible world. Rewatching some of the Making Of features for SWI and SWII drives that home for me. The behind-the-scenes world that looked so appealing to me as a kid is no longer an intersection of our reality and the world of the film. It's now a bunch of actors in front of green paper, with all the magic bits strewn in afterward. Those magic bits are impressive, beautiful and very well done. But they aren't something you can reach out and touch.

I miss that about movies today. I miss the sense of there being a place in this world where a bit of magic happened.

11 November, 2006

Wherein I Am The Worst Mother EVER

Yes, I'm overprotective. Yes, if I had human children they'd probably grow up like Niles Crane, or at least have some serious OCD. As I'm limited to the psychological damage inflictable upon dogs, it's not so worrisome.

Unless you're the dogs.

They say it's common for dogs to limp and not usually a cause for worry. Of course "they" are not having to hear that squelchy little whimper that Casey makes whenever he has to rise up from the floor or go up and down the stairs. Besides, the last time he limped and I didn't take it seriously it turned out to be very bad. Cancer scare bad. Yes, the antibiotics made him better, and he's retained his weight so all signs point to "not cancer" but still, he was limping and it was on the same leg where the non-cancer "cancer" was. So just imagine what Ms. Overprotective Sixteen Years Running thought about that.

Yes, we piled our soon-to-be-gold-plated dog into the back of the Blazer and made haste for the betternarian. Who proceeded to diagnose a hot spot on the bottom of dude's foot. We knew the hot spot was there, and had been bathing the foot in peroxide solution for several days. But you know how they say to "trim the hair"? Apparantly you actually need to SHAVE the hair, because when that was done, my poor kid looked like part of his paw was comprised solely of ground hamburger and oozy goo.

The source of the hotspot was determined to be allergies. Great. Even though they're dogs, my kids are still nerds. If I'd walked out of that vet with an inhaler and a prescription for high-wattage eyeglasses I would not have been surprised. I'll be delighted if I can get Casey to play chess with me now.

Anyway, back to the bad mother part. As if you weren't already convinced. During the exam the doctor kept pointing out flaws in my dog grooming and care. I felt like Dog Social Services were going to come put me in handcuffs. Thing is, I thought that we had been giving our kid a ridiculously good life. He gets to lie around on a cool tile floor. He has plenty of water and not-inexpensive food and gets to run around a nice fenced-in yard as much as he likes. He has a brother to play with and does not lack for attention. He gets combed about once a week and I clean his ears twice a week. The dog is what many would consider "spoiled." But the vet apparently had different ideas. More brushing. Ear cleaning every day. More exercise.

I feel so inadequate. It sort of reminded me of going to the beauty parlor for a haircut and then being talked into $78 dollars worth of boutique hair care products. At any rate, we've dropped another Benjamin on the dog, who now has both allergy AND ear medicine. Big nerd. And if I blog less, it's only because I'm still brushing the dog.

Seriously. Who brushes their dog and cleans its ears daily?

10 November, 2006

Well, That's Something Anyway

This blog has like a gajillion hits today. Surprisingly, few of them appear to be about my interest in candy from the 80s.

Sweet Sweet Nostalgia

I don't know what it is about this weather that's been sending me down memory lane, but I had another trip down the mind hole yesterday, thinking about Slap Stix suckers. Yes, the concept of a carmel and banana lollipop sounds disGUSTing on paper, but trust me. They were fabulous.

One fall my school sold candy in the afternoons as a fundraiser. (Yes, I can hear Chris going into apoplectic shock as I write this.) Slap Stix were a dime each, so I naturally bought 10 of them. I'd then spend long evenings at home with my little pile of suckers and my copy of Arabian Nights. Trust me when I say there's nothing like sucking on sugar while reading a fantastical story. Nothing. In fact, I blame those early days for my current fascination with The Boy Who Lived.

Now that I think about it, a life has been influenced by those crazy suckers.

The good news is that you can find anything on the internet. So when I looked up "Slap Stix" yesterday, lo and behold--you can still get them here. I love the web. Although my waistline will be somewhat less forgiving.

The Difference Between NiT & Personal Blogs As I See It

I guess I dug up some long-buried resentment with my post about striving for unity. Laying aside the humourous irony for a few minutes, I have to address something.

About a year ago I was one of many people who had complaints about the strong leftward tilt of Nashville Is Talking. [Since I'm the only one writing this blogpost, we're just gonna talk about my POV here, and not drag others into it. They're free to speak for themselves.] It seemed to me that most of the pull content was very left-of-center, and even the stuff showing up in the agreggator was more left than right. It got to the point where I was fervantly hoping for some type of change, and even asked some people if they'd like to start up a right-wing "answer" aggregator of sorts to counterbalance.

One thing made me change my mind, and that one thing was Bill Hobbs. When I took my Christmas break, I came back to a long brouhaha. What started out as a bit of constructive criticism toward the way Brittney did her job turned into what looked [to me] like a witch hunt. Bill opened the floodgates and all of the critics piled on. Don't get me wrong. The critics had some good points. But the manner in which it all happened--and right during the Holidays as well--really put me off. As much as I wanted to see changes in Nashville Is Talking, I did not want to see Brittney lose her job. I had inadvertently* gotten a man fired once a few years ago. I still feel like I have blood on my hands from that and I don't ever want to cost another person his or her livelihood.

Anyway, back to NiT. This year has been an evolution of sorts. NiT has toned down a bit of the leftist tilt. By April 1st we also had VV. (Not that Kleinheider and I agree on the war...) But most importantly, NiT has become the catalyst through which we've all come to be friends of sorts. I just had Nine People come to my house for food and fellowship that I met through NiT. Nashville Is Talking has become the defacto clubhouse for Nashville Bloggers. New bloggers I really like show up there all the time. Remember that party I had last week? We had a great new woman come to meet us and hang out, solely because she'd heard of us through Nashville is Talking.

Yes, they've paid me some scratch this year to guest blog.** Yes, there are still the occasional editorial cartoons that make me roll my eyes, and the occasional opinion piece that I gloss over. But no, Smantix (and others), I'm not kissing up for the work. What I'm doing is choosing to set aside my political differences because I value friends more than I value my own opinion. Personal blogs are good for personal opinions. Group blogs are best when you focus on the group.

*The story about me getting someone fired is long enough for a post in its own right.
**And hey, when I'm guest-blogging, it's not as leftward, either.

09 November, 2006

Remembering An Old Boyfriend

I once dated a guy who was pretty fickle. He'd always promise to take me on dates, but then back out at the last minute. Almost every week I'd look forward to going for Burger King and a movie, only to have Friday night roll around in time for the guy to either cancel or just decide to hang out at my house.

Some days he was completely in love with me, and other days he was bored and wanted to date one of the girls at his school.

This wierd ever-changing weather reminds me of him.

The Best Antidote To LOST Disappointment

Is sitting down to a fresh episode of The Wire.

Y'all can keep Jack and Kate and Sawyer. I'll take Omar, Bunk & McNulty.

Top 10 Things We've Learned From This Week's LOST: Spoilers, kinda

10. If you're really skinny you can climb through the bars of your jail cell to have hot monkey sex with the sweaty guy in the next cage. The fact that neither of you have bathed or showered in weeks is immaterial.

9. Miami-Dade must have some really lousy cops. Honestly, dude. Freakin' college girls Google their dates. How hard could it have been to figure out that "Monica" was a fugitive from justice?

8. The LOST casting director knows how to make the fanboys squee. First we had DeLenn and now tonight we had the Firefly dude.

7. Kate really didn't want to have a baby with Firefly.

6. Jack doesn't take that whole "First Do No Harm" part of his Hippocratic Oath very seriously. And what was up with him being all hesitant to operate anyway? The whole time he's been on the beach he's been jonesing BAD for some good ol' time doctorin'. Remember how he treated poor smushed Boone like his own personal Resusciannie? Now here he is with a "fully equipped" operating room and he'd rather stay locked up in the whale morgue? Okaaaay.

5. When the Others say the operating room is "fully equipped" they do not mean that the crash cart and defib paddles necessarily work. Remember Colleen?

4. Fugitives from justice like to call their pursuers while accompanied by an egg timer.

3. Jack is dumb enough to not realise that having his Whale Morgue door unlocked is yet another Henry Gale MindgameTM.

2. Apparantly all those people on the beach were part of some other show that we don't get to see anymore.

1. When Locke speaks he actually channels the audience frustration. Yes, Locke, we too hope that it won't be very long before we find out why Mr. Eko had to die. However, we would really also have liked to hear your explanation of the Smoke Monster. Not for nothing, but we do watch this show for more than the hot monkey sex.

08 November, 2006

An Apology To Sharon

I realise I was frustrated this afternoon and should probably not have taken all my frustration out on Sharon specifically.

I apologise for singling her out for criticism when much of the blogosphere was awash in the same level of hyperbole.

My Pledge To Democrats

I've been increasingly irritated by the behaviour of a lot of left-leaning people over the last two years. Sharon Cobb's blog this morning has moved into the category of blogs I have stopped reading. If I'm not going to listen to Rush Limbaugh because of his bombast, I'm not going to read a liberal blog that engages in the same style of writing. I don't read TN Guerilla Women either.

I get that you folks don't like George Bush. He's not my favourite either. But I would sincerely like to see the name-calling and childish hyperbole come to an end.

I figure now that I was proven wrong and the Dems have taken at least the House, if not the Senate as well, this is a good time to put my mouth where my money is.

This is my Pledge Of Adult Behaviour In Politics. Feel free to call me on it if I deviate in any way.

1. I will not gin up ridiculous names for Democrats in power.
You all can keep your "King George" and other silliness. Playground name-calling is not going to help bring this country together. Yes, I know there are those on the right guilty of this too. I am not Ann Coulter. I am not Rush Limbaugh. I am a Christian American who is tired of the hate.

2. I will refrain from wild conspiracy theories as excuses for why the party in power is in power.
One word. Diebold.

3. I will not go about shouting "Impeach Pelosi".

4. I will realise that even though we are of opposing ideologies on most things, we are all still Americans and will never accomplish anything if all we do is fight childishly over the ever-dwindling spoils of American leadership..

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roll My Eyes

So once again a fairly decent conversation about feminity is derailed by tone-deaf people spouting an agenda only tangentially related to the discussion itself.

I am a feminist--although most of the Feminists out there probably don't want me. That's okay. I'm a free spirit in all things I do. I don't need to be accepted into a club to feel that my ideas have merit. (Although I will admit that acceptance is nice.) I'm also a reader and a ponderer and a discusser. No, these things in and of themselves don't accomplish anything per se, but I enjoy the way they allow me to hammer out my worldview.

One of the things I enjoy discussing is the changing world of women in the postmodern marketplace. We can get by wearing less makeup than we did twenty years ago. Our clothes are more relaxed and comfortable in many of our roles. Size and shape restrictions are softening, albeit gradually.

The sad thing is that seemingly anytime "feminism" comes up in conversation there are people whose operational definition of the term leads them to believe that the only type of feminism is a wild-eyed, hairy-legged bra-burning philosophy of misandry. I will not deny that there are a quantity of those women flying the feminist banner.

But PLEASE realise that not every feminist and not every feminist discussion is about hating or blaming men. Most of the time these discussions are about the female experience and how we can change it for the better. So please, you two, don't come into every discussion and start railing about how there is no patriarchy and you love your boob job. I mean, good for you, but that's not what we're talking about. You remind me of guests at a cocktail party who stand on the table and loudly talk only about your personal favourite topic while ignoring everyone else.

And pardon me for bringing this onto my blog, but it was something I wanted to say without upsetting the flow of Aunt B.'s community.

Now He's Free To Be With ME!!!

Screw all that "divorce is bad" garbage.

Rumsfeld has resigned.

Now we can run away together and make really bossy babies.

It's Over

Some people & amendments I voted for won. Some people & amendments I voted for lost. All in all I'm just happy that it's over.

07 November, 2006

Way To Protect Marriage, Tennessee!!!

Okay. Here's what I don't get. The number one stressor facing any marriage is NOT the homosexuality of some random person on the street.

No. The number one stress on any marriage is finances.

So, what do we do? We appear to be voting in favour of the property tax freeze initiative for those over 65.

Do you realise what this means?

Yes, it means your county will be free to initiate a new law that would freeze the property taxes for senior citizens. If you are 65, you don't have to pay any more property tax than what you had to pay the day you turned 65. Bonus for all those old people out there.

But honestly, this means if you are UNDER 65 you are going to have to help the county come up with the money it is no longer getting from Grandma and Grandpa. The county will recoup its losses by raising property taxes across the board. Since you and your wife and three young children are all under 65, guess what YOU get to do! Isn't this exciting?!

So you know all those arguments you are already having about whether or not you can afford to take the kids to CiCi's Pizza after Jared's Little League game? You will be having more of them. Those little tiffs about which utility bill is more important this month will become more frequent. That mortgage you are already struggling to pay will go up when the county tacks on an extra couple hundred dollars to help pay for the Silver Tax Break. Sure, it'll only come out to $30 a month. What's that? One tank of gas. One basic cable bill. One birth control prescription.

Congratulations, my fellow Tennesseans. You just voted yourselves a tax increase.

Britney Proves My Point

I don't usually get all het up about celebrity endorsments. But I gotta love it when on the very day that I talk about casual divorce hurting marriage, Britney Spears backs my play.

ney Spears filed for divorce Tuesday from Kevin Federline, officials said. The Los Angeles County Superior Court filing cites "irreconcilable differences," said court spokeswoman Kathy Roberts. ... Spears married Federline eight months after ending a 55-hour Las Vegas marriage to her childhood friend, Jason Alexander.

Dear Faith Hill, You Are A Conniving.....

Please, girl. You got what you wanted. Whether or not you were serious about the loser freak-out, you have succeeded in your true goal.

Everyone's talking about Faith Hill today--even me, a person largely ignorant of modern country music. No one is talking about the woman who actually won the award you lost.

So good job with the spin, Faith.

Since L&O:SVU Isn't On Tonight

I will be an election coverage pundit at Radio Free Nashville tonight beginning at 9:20pm.

Argh...The Polls

Okay. I'm back from Voting. I was gone an hour and 45 minutes, which included trips to the Central Pike Church of Christ, the Hermitage library, Kroger and Panera.

Could I have gone to MORE places chock full o' humanity?

We voted at CPCOC, which took about 35 minutes all told. I was really disappointed in some of the poll workers. They weren't reinforcing the no-cell-phones rule OR the no-campaigning-within-the-polling-place rule. When I was a poll worker for the 1990 elections (was that already 16 years ago? Wierd...), we had to really be on our guard about the no-campaigning rule. People had to wear closed coats over campaign shirts OR were given the option to turn the shirt inside out.

Today there were several buttons, shirts and stickers worn by voters inside the polling place. Unlike Christmas and Halloween, Election Day is not a holiday where you wear themed clothes to participate. You may love your puff-painted sweatshirts featuring cats dressed as Santa's Elves lined up under the Christmas tree, but you cannot wear a "Corker for Senate" or "Ford for Senate" shirt into the polling place. Unless, apparantly, you voted at the Central Pike Church of Christ.

One Instance Of Voter Fraud Uncovered In Davidson County

Something tells me this guy's ballot wasn't entirely legal.

Protect Marriage

Defense seems to be the popular theme among conservatives over the last few years. Defense against threats--real or preceived--has won many elections for the Republicans, and so I guess they're sticking to the "defense" guns on the marriage amendment as well. Even though it's among the weaker arguments the Vote Yes camp can offer.

As I said yesterday there have been weak arguments on both sides. If this amendment is indeed designed to "protect marriage" then folks like me who are Covenant Marriage backers through and through see it as shutting the barn door long after the cows and bulls have married, divorced and otherwise made a mockery of the idea of marriage.

I think if the state wants to "protect" marriage, there is a far easier way. As with everything else, follow the money.

The main reason people want to be in a state-sactioned marriage is the financial benefits. Tax breaks and cheaper health insurance are two of the prime drivers behind the desire to be married in the eyes of the state. Such a union is, in effect, a business partnership.

I've long thought if we were truly interested in preserving the sanctity of marriage through the lens of the state we'd treat the dissolusion of a state marital contract in much the same way we treat the termination of other government-authorised tax shelters.

If you pull money out of your 401(K) early, you have to pay a 20% penalty. To me it stands to reason that if you pull out of your marital contract early (any time prior to the death you've vowed to be coupled until) than you should have to pony up a monetary penalty. You've engaged in a tax shelter with a specific time frame assigned and decided to leave that tax shelter. So why not treat it just the same as an early withdrawl from a 401(k)?

I'll be honest. Folks like me see divorce as a bigger threat to the sanctity of marriage than anything else. Don't get me wrong. I believe there are MANY good reasons--even necessary reasons--for divorce. I think there are many people who are married who should probably get divorced for the health of their entire families. I'm not naive enough to think that all marriages are as perfect as mine. But I do think there are an awful lot of scenarios where people wouldn't get married if they knew an eventual divorce meant owing a large penalty to the federal government.

If we are really serious about Protecting Marriage, I think we'd ponder the graver threats--divorce and financial difficulty--more closely than we seem to be doing now.

06 November, 2006

Wherein I Fisk Two Idiots

This conversation about fat, dieting and feminism led, in a roundabout way, to me watching today's Oprah. I'm about 20 minutes into the show, which is as replete with commercial breaks as ever, when we get to this conversation (transcribed word for word) :
OW: Thanks, Kirstie, for being so bold and for being an inspiration to all women who are waiting on themselves to get their lives together and lose the weight.

KA: And thank YOU for helping me because you helped me--the kitchen was the catalyst to the weight and the smoking [A little over a year ago, Oprah sponsored a remodelling of Alley's home kitchen to provide her with a "beautiful space"] I mean you really, really changed my life.

OW: Thank you so much! Thank you so much! You know what's great about it? I know how you feel, because when I bought a beautiful home in California I wanted to be able to measure up to that. And so, I saw that in you when you had that beautiful..when Nate came and redid your kitchen you wanted to measure up to the beauty you were surrounded by.

KA: (giggling) I didn't. But now I do!

Shall I break it down? I think I shall.

OW: Thanks, Kirstie, for being so bold and for being an inspiration to all women who are waiting on themselves to get their lives together and lose the weight.

Hear that ladies? If you're fat, it's because you are fundamentally a failure. You are the problem. Well, you AND your disorganised, chaotic life. You may think that you're fat because you enjoy food and pleasure more than you enjoy self-denial and self-loathing. You may think you're fat because you have better things to do in this life besides obsess over trivial things like what you eat or drink. No. You are fat (and by extension unlovable)† because you haven't been able to get your [life] together.

OW: Thank you so much! Thank you so much! You know what's great about it? I know how you feel, because when I bought a beautiful home in California I wanted to be able to measure up to that. And so, I saw that in you when you had that beautiful..when Nate came and redid your kitchen you wanted to measure up to the beauty you were surrounded by.

Okay. Maybe it's not you. Maybe it's the fact that you have had neither a very expensive remodelling to your already-well-appointed kitchen nor a lavish manse in sunny California. You in your drab life have failed to surround yourself with the appropriate amounts of wealth and beauty that will serve as a catalyst for your desire to better yourself.

Pardon my french, but to borrow a phrase from Ivy: "Bitches. PLEASE."

What kind of person measures her value and worth against the very transient objects in her home? And is it any wonder that she would also then measure her value and worth against her very transient physical body? This all strikes me as a very mournful commentary on some people's interior lives.

I'm fat. I say that a lot because it's true. It wasn't true when I was younger, and it may not be true as I age. I'm presently losing some weight as I modify my diet for health concerns. As I said over at Feline Little Britches, I like how I look now that I'm two sizes smaller, and I wouldn't mind seeing how I look in sizes smaller still. But at no point have I had a personal moment where I look in the mirror at my slightly-slenderer self and say "A ha! At last I am worthy of my living room set!!!!" I still laugh at the same jokes, knit a mean afghan, whip up a mean dinner and enjoy the pleasures of life.

I'm glad that Kirstie Alley found Oprah to remodel her kitchen, Jenny Craig to pay her to be a spokesperson and thus go on the diet for free, and a personal trainer to help her exercise. I'm glad Oprah has the net worth of many smaller island countries and can thus buy a "beautiful home in California" to inspire her. And house her live-in chef.

Even more than that, I'm glad that I can surround myself with real women who know about life and live far more triumphantly than two vapid celebrities who are still labouring to measure up to the furniture.

† Alley admitted in an earlier interview with Oprah that she hadn't had sex in four and a half years because she didn't want to have "fat sex". That bespeaks a self-loathing from a more deep-seated place, rooted in body image issues that go beyond adipose tissue.

Questions For The Universe

::: Why isn't thirtysomething out on DVD yet? I love that show. It'd be great to watch from the exercise bike.

::: Why is Hollywood determined to ruin my Christmas? This is the first year in a long time without a lavish film spectacle to incorporate into my holidays. I'm actually quite depressed about it. I guess I'll just have to break out the LOTR dvds. You know, I've come to associate Spectacle Movies with Christmas so much that I'd go to a theatrical rerelease of just about any of the biggies. Except King Kong. That was celluloid excrement.

::: Is it fall or winter-with-orange-leaves? This weather makes me sad.

::: Why aren't auto-diallers illegal everywhere? I'm spoiled, because they're illegal in Indiana. I think Tennessee should take notice.

::: When will the entertainment world realise that the only show I want a "message" from is The Wire? I excitedly TiVo'd the newest Cracker outing on Auntie Beeb, only to have it start off with a screed against America and the Iraq war. Like, I get that many people hate us and the idea of the Iraq War. But if I want to peruse those feelings I'll just go to the internet, thanks. Don't need a fat alcoholic whose ruined his own family through his destructive selfishness to start opining against the war.

No One Under 35 Can Run For President

In all the talk about Amendment One, I've heard weak arguments on both sides of the Yes/No argument.

The one on the "Vote NO" side that has me about to pull out my hair is the argument that the Constitution (presumably at both the State and the Federal level) exists to protect rights, and that writing an amendment against gay marriage goes against the spirit and purpose of "The Constitution".


While we do love our Bill of Rights and enjoy stirring poems toward the hallowedness of these sacred pieces of paper, the fact of the matter is that the Constitutions at both State and Federal levels are merely documents of legal framework. Yes, everyone has snippets of constitutions memorised and inscribed upon their hearts like secular Bible verses. But if you ever read through the blasted things you'd realise there's a lot of dry tinder about procedure and guidelines. Take for instance the bit about having to be born in America and at least 35 before running for president. In the most basic sense I suppose it can be said to discriminate against foreign-born and naturalised citizens as well as snooty up and comers who are under 35. Yet it's a procedural guideline. That's what these documents ARE all about. To pretend otherwise is to betray a lack of understanding about the nature of constitutional law.

As I've said, there are a great many good arguments on both sides of the fence, and there are weak ones as well. I don't think "Protect Marriage" is a good argument for Voting Yes On One, even though that's what all the signs with happy families want you to believe. Likewise, I think that "writing bigotry into the constitution" is a poor argument for voting no, and I'll be happy to see it go away.

Reality TV Stars Need To Suck It Up

I love Little People, Big World on TLC. I think the Roloff family are interesting people, and I enjoy watching the episodes from their life that make it to TV.

At the outset of this week's episode they mentioned an accident wherein their youngest child, 9 year-old Jacob, was injured. Me being me, I went to the Internet for more information. That led me to an article in the Oregonian that went into detail not only about the accident but also the increased attention being focused on the Roloff family.

[Note: I've tried to cutpaste from the article three times and it's crashed my browser, so I'll have to paraphrase and ask you to follow the link for the original piece.]

It seems that the neighbors are frustrated, the road to the farm is often impassable because of curious fans and the family has been increasingly bothered by stalkerish behaviour.

There is a part of me that does feel very sorry for the Roloffs. They seem like a nice family who are primarily interested in proving to the world that dwarves dwarfs are just like average-height people in many ways. Yet it does seem that they've profitted from the show on many levels. Obviously they are paid for their time. I also think they receive no small amount of freebies in exchange for publicity. I suspect that this year's Dream Trip To Hawaii was much more affordable to them because of the nearly half-dozen mentions of whatever hotel they stayed in. The marketing vet in me admires this new guerilla advertising, but I feel more and more like the show has become "Watch The Roloffs Shop For Brand Name Services and Products" as Matt Roloff exploits their popularity for cash and prizes.

It's that cynical part of me that has stopped watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for similar reasons. These shows all seem to start out as well-intentioned glimpses of humanity, but appear to devolve quite quickly. In the case of Little People, Big World I think if you're popular enough to have trips underwritten*, then you have to realise that the same fishbowl attention has a downside as well.

*I need to make it clear that I don't know for certain that the Roloffs trip was underwritten. Yet years of experience lead me to believe that the countless mentions of the hotel where they stayed, along with long pan shots of the rooms' appointments and much discussion of the tailored dwarf robes were in exchange for something

Gregarious Animal

Nearly everyone who was there has already written about it.

No one was in pajamas. The liberals did not beat down the conservatives, nor vice versa. The lasagne could have used a touch more garlic--but maybe then everyone would have had to leave earlier.

I've started to notice that when bloggers get together it's a special kind of gathering, and I think I've figured out why. Most bloggers are introverted creatures. Even the more gregarious--Aunt B. for instance--are introverted creatures on a very fundamental level. So when we all get together there's a surprising lack of artifice. Of course I could be wrong and everyone could have been wearing a mask, but I don't think so.

I've been in a lot of social settings where people seem to feel forced to feign an outward personality to cope with the interactions. That doesn't seem to happen with a room full of bloggers. And over the past year, even though we are technically "bloggers" I think we've all started to become friends. Some of that may have to do with the fact that other bloggers are the ones who have actually shown interest in the parts of our lives we squirrell away on our internet journals. I think more than that is the fact that these are very earnestly nice people who love connecting with others who exist completely outside our other social spheres. None of us go to church together, work together or have kids on the same sports teams. We are friendly with one another simply because we like the people involved. And that makes a huge difference.

I'm very touched that so many people were willing to drive so far out of their way to come to my home, and I had a wonderful time. Those of you who weren't there were genuinely missed.