31 January, 2006

Serial Killer or Computer Programmer?!?

Take The Quiz.

On the plus side, I only scored 6 out of 10.

On the minus side, I knew 3 of the serial killers and their crimes on sight. What is wrong with me that I can eyeball David Berkowitz, John Christie and Andrei Chikatilo? I should watch more daytime TV.

I Don't Know Whether To Be Happy Or Ashamed

I spent the afternoon doing my taxes. I love to do my taxes. In an odd way it's sort of like an Internet Meme, except instead of finding out which crew member of the Battlestar Galactica you are, it tells you how much money you have to fork over to keep Senator Byrd in office with needless geegawgery in West Virginia. For the past several years I've had to pay amounts ranging from the large to the very large to the painful.

This year, surprisingly, I'm getting money back. Whoa. I know not what this feels like.

I'm sure gonna be happy when the refund gets automatically deposited, but I'm ticked that my accounting was so bad throughout the year as to float Uncasam a hefty interest-free loan. Oh well. Who am I kidding? I'm not gonna complain about having the cash!

March Forth And Write!

Well, that's what I would have called this event, had I been the one to name it. But no. It is merely called Connecting: A Day For Readers and Writers. But it's on March 4th. So my name would have been better. Oh well.

It still sounds interesting:

to benefit the Tennessee Young Writers' Scholarship Fund, Humanities Tennessee

Sponsored by the Women's National Book Association (Nashville Chapter) and the Hume-Fogg Writers

Saturday, March 4, 2006 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Hume-Fogg Academic School
700 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203


• workshops on Investigative Journalism, Romance Novels, Writing the Perfect Mystery or Thriller, Poetry, Memoir, Songwriting, and more
• a keynote address by Robert Hicks , bestselling author of The Widow of the South
• a closing performance by Marshall Chapman , singer/songwriter and author of Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller
• sessions led by Willy Stern, Etta Wilson, Pat Ballard, Darnell Arnoult, Bunkie Lynn, Lonnie Cruse, Gary Slaughter, and many more
• book sales and signings

Registration is $40 in advance or $50 at the door. Lunch may be purchased in advance for $10, or you may bring your own.

Hide And Seek

Brittney inadvertently brought up a sore subject today. I have hesitated bringing up my views on Seeker churches because I know they are the elephant in the room. At least when talking with various friends and family members who've embraced the Seeker Driven Church. My own feelings on the matter are complex and continually evolving and revolving. It's odd that I don't write about this more often, since it's the crux of a lot of my prayer time--but I think that level of personal involvment generally lends me to consider it for private viewing only. But today, thanks to a PrimitiveSouthern Baptist Minister new to his pulpit, the issue is public and I'm going to chat a bit about it.

Worship is the act of acknowledging our Creator and Saviour with praise and thanksgiving. For those who have been saved and enjoy that personal relationship with their Saviour, our Worship time is similar to the time spent with our spouse. Daily devotions become akin to the suppertime conversations I have with my husband. They are intimate discussions about the mundane. They are the way He reveals himself to me through His written word and His Spirit. A church Worship Service is more akin to a date--time out on the town where you get to more fully worship his majesty in public.

(Ironically, "Personal Saviour" is a relationship that Pastor Dan says is not possible)

These public worship times have evolved over the centuries, leaving us with remnants of the myriad flavours of Church. If you most fully express your worship through liturgy and ritual you have all manner of High Church to attend. If you lean more toward Low Church you will find yourself in a more Traditional Worship setting. Chances are that if you are an American Christian (insert Randy Newman expletive here) your experience is either with a Traditional Worship or Pentecostal/Holiness style church. Both of these involve a pastor who is somewhat formally dressed, some type of choir (robed or in plainclothes) and a sermon buttressed by hymns. The hymns sung in the Traditional church tend to be more staid. It seems like 95% of them were written by either a Wesley, a Luther or Fanny Crosby. In a Pentecostal/Holiness church, the hymns are generally more upbeat and the congregation is more vocally participatory.

Pastor Dan's latest piece addresses the ills of the "Seeker Friendly" church, which is where I take issue with him. Many churches are Seeker Friendly without altering their church name or style of worship. A Seeker Friendly church is merely one where they don't wince if you come in jeans and allow you to participate in communion if you profess a relationship with Christ.

The problem as I see it is with the Seeker Driven church. These are the ones who have so completely altered the Sunday Morning Service from a time of worship to a time of entertainment. There are bands on the stage, skits, dancers in gauze who "interpretively move" to the music. There are clips from popular tv shows and films which buttress the Brief Message, and there is usually--not always, but usually--an overeager guy with a guitar forcing a repetitive drone through a simplistic chorus. The problem I have personally with these types of churches is not the way they dress but the type of "food" they serve. Worship has been redesigned. Instead of being an intimate time for the larger Body of Christ to experience their Worship, it is designed almost wholly to entertain the unbeliever. The theory (as I see it) is that people will come to church for the fun and realise that Jesus ain't no stuffy dude. They'll hopefully get saved and become members of the church.

Isn't that like meeting and marrying someone on a cruise ship? And then staying on the cruise ship for the rest of your married life? Sure, cruises are fun and the food is good, but there's no real-world relationship there.

I am an Evangelical Christian, though, and therein lies my largest beef with the Seeker Driven church. Many believers who have built these churches have done so with the best of intentions. They want to minister to the non-saved, to get them into church and into Christ's family of the redeemed. I understand their desire to bring new people to Christ. I just can't shake the feeling that it is contradictory to both parts of the Great Commission. First, are we "Going ye therefore" into "all nations" if we're just pulling a Mickey Rooney and "putting on a show"? And really, honestly, does the Seeker Driven church "[teach] them to observe all things whatsoever [God] commanded [us]"?

Is Sunday Morning Church to be food for the believer or a cheese-baited trap for the unsaved?

UPDATE: Pastor Reed has updated some information via the comments. I've corrected his church affiliation appropriately.

30 January, 2006

Harper Lee

One of my heroes made a rare public appearance last week..

Since the release of "Capote," much of her time has been spent writing demurrals to reporters seeking interviews about her life. Someone suggested she come up with a form-letter response to such requests.

What it would say, she joked, "is hell, no."

I'm sorry, but I just love her. Or what little I know of her anyway. And I'm just that much more jealous of Exador, whose niece is named Harper Lee. That's much cooler than Katherine.

On Learjets and Liars

Somebody's husband was once laid off in the same year that the president of the company was awarded a $30million bonus. Another lady had her pension stolen by embezzling crooks and has to wait tables in her retirement years. You hear about stuff like this all the time. One person's lust for more-more-more robs opportunity and peace of mind from other people.

We all have a mental picture of these Gordon Gekko guys. White, middle-aged and dressed in an expensive suit. Me, personally, I picture them stepping off a Learjet, with the breeze ruffling their distinguished manhair. The Crooks. The Guys Who Stick It To The Little People. The Little Guy From Monopoly.


I spoke with another writer on the phone this evening. This writer was dejected, discouraged and depressed. Which, for a writer is par for the course...but for a writer with an agent?!? Yes. My writer friend (let's call him Charlie) has achieved aims 1 and 2 of all serious authors. He's finished his book and found an agent to shop it, saving his pearl from the sandy dross of the slush pile. But then here's the kicker. After years of labour on this book, after an finding an agent who was proud of the material and eager to sell it, he's lost his bite at the apple. He'll probably, if the book is to see the light of day, have to self-publish. That means a huge chunk of change and absolutely no distribution channel. See, the agent called him Friday with the good news. She can no longer rep non-fiction memoirs like Charlie's book to any publishing house anywhere. She's repped NF for years, but thanks to the junkie who didn't think the truth was as interesting as his fertile, pot-soaked imagination, the market for memoirs is apparently gone with the wind.

We've had this discussion before, and I'll probably have it with myself again. But there is a reason that truth is important. When you are selling the truth you have to be telling the truth. People don't like to be lied to, no matter who's telling the lie. The big guys at Enron or the dude shilling his book on Oprah--it's all the same. They're asking you to trust them, their word and the information they give you. Sure, James Frey didn't bilk investors but he has robbed a lot of people who had a story to tell. Right now there's a writer who can't sell a once-saleable book and a literary agent who may be out of a job. Granted they're not factory workers or pensioners. But broke is broke. And I now picture Frey stepping off that Learjet.

[In the spirit of this post, let me add that the anecdotes about the bilked workers were told to me in the Weight Watchers General Discussion forum and not verified. I have also changed pertinent details about "Charlie".]

Maggiano's, Kay West and Spaghetti At The Post Office

First off, Kay West should just get a blog. She appears to be in dire need of the catharsis wrought by typing out one's opinions on other people. Her review of Maggiano's begins with a tired dismissal of people who first bother her by vowing to exercise and then bother her anew by failing to keep that vow at her crowded Y.

[A personal aside: Perhaps if those of us who've tried that before had been left to our own devices, we would keep coming to the Y instead of building our own home gyms. We're sorry that we've "tried [your] patience", Ms. West. Hope you enjoy continung to judge us from your lofty "perch on the StairMaster."]

She veers from that judgment of the overweight (fat, but too fat to bother her at the Y) to a judgment of the restaurants who serve large portions. As though my fatness and the fatness of all fat people I know is simply because they're too darn stupid to eat right. As though all fat people are hogs who will mow at the trough until the food is gone. It's not, you see, that we fat people have made the twin mistakes of being born into a gene pool and enjoying to eat. It's not that we make our own choices--a legal right of adults in this country. It's that we walk into a restaurant and blindly eat whatever is set before us, no matter how large or distasteful.

"Wasn't this a restaurant review? " I think to myself. Don't worry. TWELVE PARAGRAPHS LATER she will start talking about the food, dismissive of its quality and damning about the portion size. My favourite part of the review is where she reveals her raw, naked, seething hatred of large portions. She orders spaghetti to go. AND TAKES IT TO THE POST OFFICE TO WEIGH IT. (3.5 lbs)

Lady, get over yourself. So the spaghetti weighs 3.5 lbs. Big Friggin' Deal. If I were to get that spaghetti I would eat it. For several meals. Sometimes you're busy and tired and since you can't work out at the Y and bother all the regulars it's just easier to swing by a place like Maggiano's on Monday night, pick up a big container of ready-made food and have it for supper the next 4 nights. Then you can eat at home and work out at home, shower at home (so Kay and her buddies don't have to stare at your flab in the locker room) sit on you couch and eat your spaghetti in sweats while watching "The Biggest Loser" and feeling a perverse sort of "There but for the Grace of God go I" .

What Kay West never mentions in her review--she apparently forgot to address it, being too busy enlisting the Federal Government in her cause--is that she is a major proponent of the idea of locally-owned restaurants. Her reviews consistently damn the chains for their generic food, low food quality and lack of culinary originality. She openly lauded the establishment of the new "locally-owned restaurant" cartel, the Nashville Originals. You know, the group founded in part by the guy who owns the restaurant across the street from the new Maggiano's. How much of her damnation of Maggiano's is propelled by her apparently vested interest in preferring local eateries over chains.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until I am blue in the face: what does the presence of a Cheesecake Factory, ... attract some portion of the corporate parent’s expansion dollar? Except for possibly some negligible design differences, the Nashville Maggiano’s is no different than the 35 others in that chain.

It is the independent restaurant—owned by the couple who live down the street from you, or the man you went to high school with—that speaks to the heart, the soul, the spirit of who we are and where we make our home. Only here can you expect to be greeted by a friendly, familiar face at the door who knows your favorite table; .... In 2006, let’s resolve to celebrate Independents’ Day all year long.

Well, Kay. Here's the thing. I love restaurants. I love some chains (yay, Maggiano's), hate others (ugh, Cheesecake Factory.) I love some local restaurants (Yay, Ellendales & Mad Platter), and really don't care for others (boo, that one Italian place on West End everyone raves about whose name escapes me). I'm rather egalitarian that way. Serve me some combination of good food, satisfying atmosphere, excellent service and respect--and I'm yours. I don't care where the cheese comes from, who signs the paychecks or who parties with you on the weekends. What's more, I've lived in this city for almost 15 years. There are several locally-owned restaurants we patronised regularly. Never once (prior to the excellent Ellendale's) has one of these sainted Local Restaurants greeted us familiarly or known our favourite table. Even when we went to Tin Angel sometimes twice in one week, for weeks on end.

Circumstances consipired to have us at Maggiano's twice this weekend. Once, Friday night for a romantic date. It was hands down the best service we've had in a Nashville restaurant--chain or local--in the past year. The leftovers made three extra meals. Our Sunday school class went again for lunch yesterday. We sat at a big table, laughed and talked and enjoyed the bounty set before us. Every single couple went home with leftovers in a bag. Some of us are fat, some of us are skinny. None of us looked down on the other, judged each other by what we ordered or how much we ate. The food was excellent, the service was peerless.

Just a suggestion, but if you want to start looking for why local restaurants are hurting, you might want to start with that "get your fat butt out of my eyeline" attitude. We know where we're not welcome. So we make our home gyms and we eat at places who don't tell us we've ordred too much food.

29 January, 2006

Rams In The Thicket

Pink Kitty reminded me.

I needed reminding.

Jehovah Jira

God Provides.

"Jehovah" is an English translation of the Tetragrammatron, which are the 4 letters for the name of God.

When God told His Name, He said "I Am." He offered that definitive statement. He IS. Regardless of what we are, what we think or what we believe. He IS and Was and Causes Existence To Exist.

It always strikes me as funny how this big God Who Is also cares about me, when I am only here for a short time, and only here because He called me into being, kept me being. The tiny signs of Grace that He sends--even when I forget His largest grace in the sacrifice of His Son.

What am I on about? Well, there's the money that comes out of nowhere when it is much needed and least expected. There's the phone that rings with a friend on the other line when you really need to know you have friends. There's the way your soulmate turns up when you least expect it--when the strange exchange student who was your mean boss actually turns out to be from Pennsylvania and will laugh at your jokes. There's the really good book by an author you like on sale at Border's when you want something fun and fresh to read. The fact that it's a 3 for the Price of 2 sale and you can get 2 extra fun and fresh things along with it.

There's the time your car breaks down on the side of the road and a guy from the cable company picks you up and drives you home. And he's listening to the Christian radio station and you talk about the God you have in common and he says he'll pray for you. And you take down the number of the van and call the Cable company and they don't have a van with that number or a driver with that name and you think that maybe, just maybe, it was one of the angels unaware.

There's the time when there's no answer, when you realise you're in the wilderness. When things are hard and bitter and they don't work out. When people die, when jobs are lost, when the surgery that was supposed to heal you puts you in agony for an entire year. And you realise that HE was in the wilderness, that He starved and sweat and battled Satan while constrained in the manflesh. And you think that how bad it is for you pales in comparison to how bad it must have been for the One Who Causes All To Exist to limit Himself to the frailty of one body. How it felt for the One who made rain to be thirsty and the One who sent manna to be hungry. And you realise that He did all of that so that He could get to talk to you again and get to see you around forever. No other reason but that He made you and He loves you and He not only died for you. He lived on this earth in a body just as sore and tired as yours, when He didn't have to.

And you know it is foolish to many to love Him when you've never seen Him but you can't explain fully that you have seen Him. Because the unexpected money comes and the phone rings and the ram is in the thicket.

28 January, 2006

Disney World Everest Preview!!!

Disney World groupies, Rollercoaster junkies and Animal Kingdom lovers, have I got the thing to make your Saturday!

The guys at Inside The Magic attended the soft opening for Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom. They've posted a QuickTime video of their ride-through. Looks like Animal Kingdom may not be a half-day park anymore...

27 January, 2006

Quick! What Do You Call These?

Aside from providing me with unreserved glee, the Frey Truthiness scandal has set me to demand justice.

Back in 2000, the New York Times Book Review undertook to redesign its Best-seller list for the first time in more than a decade and a half. The main purpose, it seemed, was to consign these measly little books to their proper place on the new "children's list." Never mind that adults buy the books in record numbers.

Now, it seems that the publishers of memoirs admit to an inability to provide thorough fact-checking for the memoirs they publish. As a result these books reign supreme on the Non-Fiction chart.
Is this really fair? Certainly Augusten Burroughs is far more tantilising than Jimmy Carter's stentorian monograph on What's Wrong With Kids These Days. Sales reflect the trends of the times, but is it fair. Granted, Kids These Days probably do suck, but should the general dressing down of our culture be forced to compete with fast cars, fast women and hard liquor? Especially since maybe the cars are really Pintos, the women are not so hot and the liquor is not yours to drink. Who knows anymore with these Memoirists.

So let's suck it up again, NYT. Let's have a Truthiness list where we can sequester all the memoirs. People will have a better understanding of what the books really are, and the latest How To Build A Pit Barbecue manual will have a fighting chance at the NF Top 10.

When False Gods Can't Light The Altar

I'm a reformed Oprah fan. I fell in love with her during The Color Purple when she was fat and strong and spoke her mind. When her show was first syndicated out of Chicago it came to Fort Wayne as a Donohue-style debate--but seamier!!! More tawdry for your dollar. Oprah was the personifcation of every raw-boned midwestern worman shocked by tales of incest, bigamy and husbands who spend the grocery money on whores. Before Law & Order, Oprah was the place to get your boring life's shot in the arm of tawdry, tantilising, titillating junk. I love stories, and these were good ones.

Somewhere down the line, after her clones were too numerous and cop shows started to out-bawdy her, she got a watered-down brand of religion. First, she lost weight. Just as I was packing the freshman 15 (which were the Freshman 30 in my case) onto my belly, out rolls the fatwagon. This new sleek and skinny Oprah was all about size 10 jeans. And she lost a bit of my interest. (I see skinny girls on TV all the time, thanks.) Perched invisibly on top of the 67 pounds of fat was a large part of Oprah's ability to act as Everywoman's interlocuter. I've since lost track of the fat/thin seismic graphs of her waistline. She was fat and I was fat and I was fine with my being fat because there was a fat girl who made good. Once she publicly announced her fatshame I was done with it. If I wanna hear someone whine about their weight I've got nearly every woman I've ever met to turn to.

Then she decided, about 9 years into her run, that we'd all heard everything before. We all knew, thanks to her show and its many imitators, that some housewives turned tricks for mad money and that normal-looking people had gay family members. Conveniently she decided to be born again into the Remembering Your Spirit Oprah who burned incense, got you to decorate A Room Of One's Own and very publicly patted herself on the back for giving sheets to orphanages. She disavowed Trash TV and aimed to create a better world. Everyone lauded her for ending racism, homophobia and heck...world hunger. Long about this time (1998), I created my first public website and dedicated it to debunking the New And Improved Oprah. Patrick refers to that period of my life as my 15 minutes of fame, although he's wrong. It was only about 3 minutes and I was only famous if you read The National Enquirer or E! Online. But it was still enough to get death threats from poor spellers who loved Ms. Winfrey and were apparently Remembering Their Spirit by advocating my demise.

I stopped the website when I lost interest, and moved on to other things. I also stopped watching Oprah, but friends and family keep me up to date--almost gleefully. As though my Quixotic fixation with her windmill is their greatest entertainment. I'm puzzled by the 'new and improved' less tawdry version who couches her seamy topics in a good-for-you shell. It's like finding a box full of Lucky Charms marshmallows with a few twigs of All-bran for legitimacy. I've heard tell that Ms. O has done stories on The Down Low, the Rainbow Party and other highly-sexualised topics. Of course instead of just being the "Girlfriend, Do you believe this?!?" freak show of the mid-80s fat Oprah, it's now in the guise of Public Service. You should be aware that your husband MIGHT be having sex with men and giving you AIDS. You should know that your teenager MIGHT be getting/giving blowjobs with multiple partners. Of course, instead of watching 40 minutes of television you could get to know your husband, your teenager, yourself. That would be too easy. And face it. We're all pretty darned dull.

Then there's the bookclub. The point of this particular wordy screed, the thorn in this bitchy lion's paw. Books are, to put it crudely for those who don't know, my life. I read them to much success, write them to small success and read about them for fun. The book world is starving to death, and gladly accepts crumbs from the television table. Oprah has been lauded in publishing circles far and wide as the Saviour of The Book. Can I not escape the clutches of this woman? I do understand her interest in a book club though. Books have an air of legitimacy and seriousness that television has always lacked. It may not be fair and it may not be right but that's the way it is. And it's no coincidence in my mind that Oprah's sudden interest in the world of print came about at nearly the same time as her change in tenor for the show. It was a covert message to her fans. "We are now serious tv, stepping away from the tawdriness of life to answer the call to a higher plane."

Rest assured, fair fans, this higher plane will be just as fun. (And the first book is about a fat girl.) With inerring accuracy she selected one book after another which mirrored the themes of shows in ages past. Incest, addiction, non-traditional sex activity, depression, murder, suicide, AIDS. It was the same Oprah show under the covers, and the readers ate it up. If Oprah recommended a book it was sure to be more interesting than your carpool-lane tuna casserole existence.

My Sunday School teacher's wife has been after me for a solid six months to read A Million Little Pieces. I refuse politely but firmly each time. People chalk it up to my Oprah hatred, and that is part of the issue. I don't read her book recommendations because they are inherently depressing. But more than that, I don't read books about/by junkies anymore. I read Man With the Golden Arm in high school. And of course I had to read Go Ask Alice in 7th grade health class. I may have decided to not do drugs after these books, but they did absolutely nothing good for my seasonal depression.

Besides, I'm a deadhead. I have been for a long time. That means that many of my close friends were junkies, that I've seen people OD and that I've had people I love steal from me, lie to me and flake out. I've been a designated driver through life, and it's not fun. I'm not about to find the Tales of A Junkie's Drama intriguing or interesting. And frankly, I don't believe it. None of the junkies I've known--even my uncle, who went to jail--led such an interesting life as James Frey puported. A true junkie's memoir would be about stealing twenties out of your mother's purse, getting high and spending all afternoon at the Sizzler in Muncie. High-speed police chases, drunken brawls and whatever else Frey lied about are just movie fodder, as far as I'm concerned. So when I heard that he was selling this interesting life on Oprah I just rolled my eyes.

When I heard that he got caught in the lie and was dragging Oprah down with him I laughed.

When I heard that she finally ate crow on yesterday's show I was about the happiest I've ever been.

But now I'm back to being ticked. Because her next book is Night, which deserves to be taken seriously. I fully expect a passel of Holocaust Deniers to use the Frey scandal in an attempt to "debunk" Wiesel's masterpiece.

Society turns on a twisted axis.

26 January, 2006

I Got You, Babe

I've been tagged. Cool. I love being tagged. I consider a tag to be a very self-absorbed writing exercise. I know everyone is interested in my favourite citrus fruits and which dog I would be if I were canine.

When Cheryl tagged me, I thought this would be easy. It's not the more challenging questions of world hunger and world peace. It's simply what 8 ideal qualities my mate would have. Then I got to thinking. I already have a mate. If I answer wrongly I could make my mate feel ashamed. "What?!?" he would say. "I only embody 6 of the 8 qualities? How dare you settle for me!" Then I darkly envision a scenario where he decides that he has no business settling for a woman who settled for him, so he packs his bags and peddles off into the night.

How fortunate that he embodies all of the 8 qualities, and then some. Also fortunate is the fact that he doesn't mind (too much) the constant up-bringing of my prototypes. The men who formed my childish ideas of what I wanted from a mate. The men who are pictured along the side of this post like the fine eyecandy they are. The men that make all my friends from high school wonder about my propensity for having the hots for dead guys. Come to think of it, my current friends also wonder the same thing. So. On to the tag.

Target Partner: Male. This one was easy.

8 qualities of my perfect partner (not necessarily in order)

1. Tall and interesting looking.

All of the men on the list are tall. The shortest is Robert Shaw at 6'. The tallest is Abraham Lincoln at 6' 4". Have no idea about metric measurements...sorry. I like craggy, rawboned faces more than blandly handsome ones. Rutger Hauer was really not my type when he was younger, facially. This has been remedied by both the aging process and the knowledge that he's batcrap crazy. A person looks infinitely more intriguing when he's batcrap crazy.

Tim is 6' 2" and he's definitely interesting-looking, with piercing blue eyes, strong facial bones and a nice large head. (He doesn't allow his picture to be taken, so if he ends up seeming to you readers as a jackolantern on a stick he has no one but himself to blame.)

2. Convictions

I find it very attractive when a person believes firmly in something. They can be diametrically opposed to my stance, but if they are firm and resolved then I admire that. Obviously Lincoln fits this definition to a T. About the only thing Shaw seemed resolved in was his desire to drink himself to death. But he did accomplish that desire, so I suppose I must award him full marks. Rex Harrison was very convicted about loving women. He apparently did that well.

Tim is very convicted in both his faith and politics. In the few areas where we disagree (predestination, eternal security--kinda), he has very good and convincing arguments.

3. Gentleness

Honestly is there anything more attractive than a big, strong man who looks like he can fell a tree but then will sooth an injured pup? I don't think so. Again, Lincoln gets points for this, although at times I wonder if my love is for the actual 16th president or for his archetype as portrayed by Raymond Massey in Abe Lincoln In Illinois.

Tim is very gentle. Any man who will soothe his ailing wife at 3:30 in the morning is gentle in my book.

4. Courage

Obviously if you are a large man who also has strong convictions it pays to have courage. People will expect you to back yourself up, and situations will be desperate at times. Of course Lincoln fits this again. You'll find that most of what I love can be traced back to Lincoln. Which may be quite sad, when you think about it. Of course, Hauer had courage too, to a point. He served in the Dutch Navy. Then he deserted. So, plus 10/minus 10. Still, he's a fine looking man. So whatever.
I assume Shaw got in bar fights. He was an Irish drunk. But then again if you're drunk does the fight count as courageous? I suppose not. Frankly, Rex Harrison has always struck me as a Discretion-better-part-of-valour guy.

Tim is courageous, if only for coming home to me and our wily beasts at the end of every workday.

5. Prosperity

There are different kinds of prosperity. The obvious kind is money, and lots of it. Which little girl doesn't want to live in a nice house, have pretty things and be able to buy the occasional People magazine? When you're creating your "ideal husband" list in your head--which I think you must do if you go to slumber parties--this one always comes up. Women love security and are prone to worry. We think a husband with money will provide plenty of the former and tamp down the latter. By the time we're older, hopefully we realise there are other kinds of prosperity. The knowledge that "enough is as good as feast" and the ability to find contentment with what we do have is actually a much stronger prosperity. Contentment comes from within and isn't so easily lost as material goods.

It struck me that none of the men on the list were wealthy for long periods of time. Robert Shaw had terrible tax troubles, and spent much of the last decade of his life alternately fleeing and working for the revenuers who were after him. Lincoln was perpetually broke--partially due to the manic spending of his batcrap crazy wife. I understand Hauer is also frequently skint, hence his appearance in strange Bollywood films.

Luckily with Tim I have that lasting prosperity of contentment. When we do have money it's great. When we don't, we still have each other. Kinda like that Neil Diamond song.

(Speaking of Neil, he was on the list when I was younger. But he just hasn't aged well. And he has the disadvantage of still being alive. )

6. Sense of Humour

Honestly, if you can't make me laugh--what good are you!? This is really the lynchpin of what I find attractive for a long-term relationship. I love to laugh, and I love to crack jokes. If you can't make me laugh and don't get my jokes then we really won't have anything to talk about. Good thing I found Tim. We perpetually crack each other up. Even when we're tired and don't mean to.

We were watching Threshold before CBS cancelled it. The character played by Data (I know the guy has a real name but I can't honestly be bothered to learn it. Besides, I know I'm not the only person in the world who says "Look! It's Data!" whenever he comes on the screen. He's just gonna have to suck it up.) was tired of his covert alien-hunting life. As apparently were the executives at CBS. Anyway Data says "I miss NASA". Tim apparently didn't hear him and asked me to clarify.

What I said was really funny. Trust me on this one. We've been quoting it back to each other for weeks.

7. Likes to Drive

This sounds stupid. It has nothing to do with someone's Inner Being and all that, but it's important. For two reasons. Firstly, I am a crap driver. Really. I'm easily distracted, legally blind and prone to falling asleep behind the wheel. The engine noises are soothing and relax me. So I have to be married to someone who can even out the equation. More than that, I love long car trips where we can discuss the nature of the universe and our place in it.

Thank goodness Tim (at least appears to) like to drive. We take the long way 'round a lot. We talk about our days, weeks, beliefs and fears. And get ice cream cones. Our first kiss was in the car. Actually, when I think about it, it was in front of

8. Likes Music

the dashboard light. Just like the song. This is another apparently lame one that has more significance than you would think. I was a weird kid whose life was saved by three things (apart from the smart doctors in the hospital who kept bringing me back to life, literally...). Books, music and Star Wars. Well, books can be enjoyed in solitude, so your mate's desire to read isn't really that critical. Star Wars sucks now, so asking any man to be into it during this decade is really setting the bar way too low. Of course, they have to like the original trilogy. I'm sure if Lincoln were around he'd have been a big fan. Rex would have liked Leia's sexy costumes, and really I think that the fact that Robert Shaw was in Jaws buys him enough sexiness for a lifetime. The whole Indianapolis Monologue is the most powerful aphrodisiac in my life. So Bob doesn't need to care one iota about Star Wars. He did write books though.

But music. Music saved my life by creating a world where I could be me away from the people who threatened and confused me. It allowed me to dance in my own private space and create oases of strength. If you don't like music you don't understand my need to slip under occasionally and be refueled by its power. I can't create music. Ursula Jarosz (my forlorn piano teacher) will back me up on that. But I do fully enjoy it, and am sustained by it to a remarkable degree.

Luckily I met a fellow Deadhead who fully appreciates "Lady With A Fan" and will crank Bat Out Of Hell as loudly as possible.

You know, now that I check back at Cheryl's, I think I was just supposed to write a list. Ooops. If you've made it this far, though, you deserve some extra points.

Lime German Shepherd.

Unite The Clans!

Branding is popular these days. Once upon a time the only essential use for a brand was for cattlemen and loggers--to signify the rancher to whom the cattle belonged, or the lumberjack who felled the tree. Then came radio, with its soap operas. People began to identify their brand of soap in tandem with their favourite radio play and the rest was history.

We live in a culture whose parameters are identified by brands. Coke or Pepsi, Ford or Chevrolet. There are the brands at war, then there are the brands that give cache. Are you super cool if you have a bottle of red from the Coppola Vineyards? Do you have Jordache jeans? Okay, these are bad examples. I've never been supercool outside the geek world. Where I WAS supercool because of my Commodore 64, my Intellivision and as always, my various flavours of Macintosh.

Brands have become the shorthand by which we try to sniff the pheremones of our fellows and assess their true measure. Isn't it easier to say "conservative Christian" or "bleeding-heart liberal athiest" than to understand what drives a person? To understand that we are all driven by the same wants, needs and fears? Isn't it easier to stake a claim on our side of the street, to say "for me or against me" than to understand that we all cry when we are sad, feel lonely and miss our mothers from time to time?

I assume we all do it. I could be wrong. But I do hope that somewhere, at some point we all realise that our differences make us special, but our sameness makes us human.

25 January, 2006

Ekoes Of A Dangerous Priest (LOST Spoilers)

I yell at the TV a lot. I have a blog so I can yell at the TV and five people in various parts of the country can read about it later.

I know that technically the dude was a drug runner until five minutes ago, but honestly....


You don't have to believe that if you don't want to. But if you are a priest getting ready to baptise a woman and her child, you best not start off the whole exercise with a complete false and blasphemous interpretation of the Lord's Baptism and the Acknowledgement of the Spirit. And you best not be elevating St. John (the Baptist) to a status above that of Christ. Maybe in between organising Nigerian drug cartels and internet scams Eko simply misread John's Appelation. "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." He was clearly talking about Jesus, not about himself. The idea that John's baptism cleansed Jesus' sins is false.

Of course, I know there are readers of this blog who think I'm veering into FSM territory. Good for you. Prove that you're smarter than I am by deriding my faith. That's perfectly fine. But the fact of the matter is, this is one more way that what Glen was trying to say was accurate. There are folks in the media who don't care how religion is portrayed. To them it's all the same--one brand of hokum is the same as the next. They've taken their disregard as an excuse for complete inaccuracy. Even if you choose not to believe in the Grace of the Sacrifice of Christ, surely you can recognise that the writers of a program should know enough about their characters to realise that anyone who has studied the basic catechism of the Church, as Eko appears to have done under the monsignor, understands that Jesus was sinless.

If I were writing an orthodox Jewish character in an episodic program and had that person eating shrimp tacos and getting tattoos I'd be sloppy and ignorant. Sure, I believe it's okay to eat shellfish and get tattoos. But an orthodox Jew does not, and therefore my character lacks versimilitude. Same thing here.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, but I'm gobsmacked at how shoddily a priest is portrayed on one of the most popular shows in the country.

For Love Or Money

Jason has written a very bare and honest piece about his career. He's one of the few people I know who is able to make money doing what he loves. I've given much thought to his piece, and was going to comment over there. Instead, I think I'll try to place my half-shaped thoughts here, because it fits with the theme of my blog. (Wait a minute? This blog has a theme? Yes, yes it does.)

I love stories. I love to read them, to tell them, to hear them from other people. Someday I hope to make money writing stories, but that's a dream realised by a rare few. I don't kid myself that I will make the top of that mountain, but the striving is fun so I don't always mind. I've always had a "real job" in the process because I also love eating, driving, having teeth. I've heard that same golden career nugget from Dave Ramsey, from my 7th grade guidance counselor and from freelance writers' articles in the Reader's Digest. Yes, it seems obvious. If you can do what you love you will have a good career.

I thought about that one day three years ago as I stood over a copier with a stack of artist contracts. Obviously "what I love" has never included negotiating some painter down to a X% royalty on their picture of a Christmas Tree. Yet that's what I did for a long time. I've also been a travel agent, a bookkeeper, a Marketing Specialist (you may know it better as "secretary in the Marketing Department.") No, it's not following my bliss or carpeing the diem. But it's like the lives of most people I know. What we love is our families, our homes, our dinners with friends. So we learn to love what we do because it enables us, at the end of the day, to be who we are. Wives, Husbands, parents, members of a community.

A few years ago--not long after the copier incident--I started to realise that in a bizarre way I WAS doing what I loved. Sitting in the lunchroom day after day, hearing the very personal stories of the lives of my coworkers and their children was very much doing what I loved. No, I wasn't sitting at my desk banging away the Great Katherinian Novel. But I was learning how other people experience the marriage of their daughter, the death of their mother from Alzheimer's. The falling in love with a coworker, adopting a baby from Romania. I consider it a real blessing that I was able to find what I love within what I do. I think everyone can do that. And even if they can't, they can take pride in providing a life for themselves and the people they love.

24 January, 2006

iTunes Meme

I stole it from Casey, but I put it up at Tangled Up In Blue, cause that lil ol' blog needs a kick in the pants.


I honestly don't know what to think about it. I love Disney. I love Pixar. I think Steve Jobs is cool. Every geek in cyberspace has an opinion about the deal. Casey told me to blog about it (I think he hates it when I blog about politics, so he sources non-threatening articles for me). Jason posts about it with his usual cut-to-the-chase take.

I am admittedly a full-out Disney geek. Patrick and Lydia have taken to referring to Orlando as "Mecca" when talking to Tim & me. They are not wrong. Whenever Extreme Makeover:HE sends a family to WDW, I have to fanatically pause the TiVo to get glimpses of the park in the background. People talk about going to Disney World and I'm half jealous, half excited. I about hunted Roger Abramson down for more anecdotes about his vacation. But since he's retiring I'll let it go.

And of course, how I feel about Apple is no secret.

For me, though, the thought of analysing this deal is similar to picturing my parents in the act of conceiving one of my siblings. You love them, you know there are necessary precursors to their arrival, but like sausages and laws the actual making is kinda unseemly.

I hope this particular mating ritual is a success. Disney badly needs the creative infusion that Pixar will provide and I imagine Jobs will be an ideal majority shareholder. He understands the primacy of a cult brand, and the need to maintain the brand's vibrancy and cache.

By the middle of last year I was betting that would acquire TiVo by the 3rd quarter of this fiscal year. The release of the video iPod clinched it in my mind, because I could clearly envision the holistic product lines resulting. It would be a great expansion for the video iPod and it just might save the TiVo brand. I can see, though, with Jobs as a majority shareholder in Disney, that there may be a potential conflict of interest. Entertainment rights creators have an uneasy truce with TiVo, because it breaks down their distribution model. I dream that both mergers happen and that the end result leaves all three brands stronger yet still distinct.

I still don't think I want to see Cars. But whatever.

23 January, 2006

I Wish I Were William Shatner

He can't sing, but he records albums. He's kinda butt-ugly, but he got all the beautiful women in space. He's the cockroach of actors...nothing kills this guy's career.

But, and most importantly, he sold his kidney stone on eBay for $25,000 dollars. (I heard this first through Big Orange Michael).

Saturday night at 10:00 I went to bed. Sunday morning at 3:30 I woke up with that 'my body is eating itself' feeling I've come to know so well. Tim heard the familiar cry of "I need HEEELLLLP" and rushed to my side with the drugs and sympathy. I paced, I cried, I begged the Lord for deliverance. He rubbed my calves, gave me Sprite and answered my unanswerable questions. Tim. Not the Lord. Although if the Lord were in my house in a corporeal state, I'm sure He would have done likewise.

I haven't passed it yet, but the worst of the renal colic has subsided. I'm left with sore innards, nausea and the grinding of another stone the size of this (o) through my guts. If I could sell the blessed thing on eBay that'd be one thing. I'd prize this experience as a journey toward a greater reward.

But. I'm. Not. Willam.....Shatner.

P.S. If I made NiT an incoherent mess yesterday I'm really sorry. I tried my best to follow through on that committment.

21 January, 2006

You Oughta Pick A Better Canary

This is one of those times that I've been inspired to write a post based on something I read at someone else's blog. This is one of the times where what I have to say is too long for a comment section.

Aunt B. says
I've come to believe that they really, really don't get how many of us who are pro-choice view the right to an abortion as the canary in the coal mine of women's rights in general.

There are many issues falling under the umbrella of Women's Rights. Equal pay, fair hiring practices, educational accessibility, military service, childcare tax credits--the list is endless. Yet every single issue, apart from abortion on that list is an issue of gain. They are positive steps in the direction of creating and maintaining a whole society. I believe in society as a Gentlemen's Agreement, the basic premise of which is to better the living conditions for all of its members.

As B. affirms, there are a large swath of pro-choice feminists who view abortion as the bellwether, and that's a shame. It's also the main reason I'm no longer a card-carrying member of NOW. I believe that women deserve equal rights. I don't think a vagina should be a barrier to opportunity. But for so long the Official Feminist Movement has decreed abortion to be it's prime mover. Why? What does the right to legal abortion gain for women that the right to educational accessibility and childcare tax credits don't?

The natural response is "say over what I do with my body." Yet the same feminist organizations fail to be a forceful lobby for legalised prostitution, legalised drug use and other self-directive issues. The one "say over my body" issue that drives feminism is the one that includes "say over the life and death of another human being." It's very hard to take seriously the idea of women as a subjected class when the single idea they are most passionate about is the right to subject another class of human being. The right to deny rights to gestational human beings.

20 January, 2006

Jesus Mentioned

No. I'm not blogging about Kanye West again. I'm just making the subject line clear so those of you less enthralled with the topic can skip ahead to the next page.

Things have been difficult for awhile now, with Tim's company changing hands, my illness and the like. We have a great many blessings, but we've had an awful lot of trials over the last five or six weeks. Money has been tight, and our patience has grown really thin.

I know many people would attribute the recent good events to chance or fate. But the God I love deserves all the credit, and I'll gladly praise Him. On Wednesday the company's sale was official. On Thursday we got an unexpected refund from an old airline ticket. Today I got paid by a company for whom I understood the work to be wholly voluntary.

Life is like this for everyone, and God shows His love to all of us equally. I liken these types of things to the little cheery notes mothers sometimes put in your school lunch. You're already well-provided for, but the little bit of extra Grace is the most tangible flavour of love.

Blogzilla Strikes Again


it's true.

my birthday present to sarcastro is that i will be blogging at nit.

so, if like me...and unlike sarcastro...you have nothing else to do this weekend, let's hang. and please write something that i can link to.

thank you.

--this post brought to you by e.e. cummings and the lazy typist.

Someone To Watch Over Me

Well, Apple isn't technically eavesdropping. That makes me feel better, because I know that there's no way on or under the earth that I want anybody to know how many times I've listened to "The Night Chicago Died". Killer kazoo solos are hard to come by.

I know I'm supposed to be very upset about the government listening to private citizens. Honestly, though, I get more worked up over the poe-theeds who try to take their entire 38-item munchie fix through the express lane at Kroger. It's not that I don't value the Sanctity of Privacy and whatnot--because I do. It's just that I know, deep down in my heart of hearts, that I'm boring. I'm the most Wysiswyg person on the planet. If the government wants to know what it looks like when a Rubenesque lady in sweatpants and a Disney World sweatshirt reads on the couch, then have at it. If they want to hear me whine about plotlines in episodic television to my sister in Indiana, then good for them. Perhaps they will derive more interest from my life than I do. I will confess that I occasionally will drop "flag words" into a phone conversation with Miss B or Tom, just to give some CIA intern something to do. I figure that way maybe they'll listen to the whole thing and get caught up on the details from Grey's Anatomy they may have missed. Those Washington people are busy, and don't always get to watch as much TV as they'd like. I consider it a service.

I genuinely know what it is like to be spied upon. The Greatest Boyer Spy Legend of all time is The Band-Aid story. Bear with me. It's Friday.

When I was 16, my family took a three-week trip around Europe. We bought a Vanagon in Germany (third family in Fort Wayne to have the Oval "D" registration, thank you) and drove from country to country like vagabonds eating cold meat sandwiches and discovering that it is ALWAYS funny to hear your dad ask for "Zimmers fur Sex". The third time I laughed at his innocent request for lodging for all six of us he tried to change it to "Zimmer fur Sex Personen." I don't even know if "personen" is a German word. But I embarrassed that poor man across 8 countries. One of the countries was Hungary, where we ended up getting two Zimmers--one for the parents and one for the kids. That was a good thing. I had to get away from my mother. Her one fact about Budapest is that it is "actually TWO cities--Buda and Pest." She said that to us about 60 times and I was beyond my limit. (Even now at family gatherings I will occasionally announce to the room that Budapest is actually two cities. Last time she tried to throw a dinner roll at me.)

Nerd that I am I decided that my souveniers would be an 8-oz glass Coke bottle from every country. This was clever of me, because I'm wierd about food and could only drink Coke most of the time. The water available was from the bathroom tap, and that just wasn't gonna fly. So the four of us kids were in a hotel room in Buda or Pest--can't remember which--and my Hungarian Coke Bottle broke. There was much confusion, and poor Tom stepped on a piece of glass. His foot was bleeding everywhere and we were freaked out. Our parents were in another room, and none of us wanted to let them know we'd broken something. Miss B and I were rummaging through luggage for first aid supplies and Dave was freaking out about breaking Communist Property and how we were all going to be shot. Tom was just losing blood. Then there's a knock at the door. A really nice Hungarian woman came in and offered us a band-aid. And left.

Yes. You read that right. A member of the hotel staff knew that my brother had cut his foot on glass. They knew before our parents did. How? Dude, I don't know. It freaks me out to this day. Our room was BUGGED. On the upside, they didn't shoot us. And they had probably also bugged my parents' room, which means that some poor hotel person had to keep hearing about how his hometown was actually TWO cities. Everything worked out okay in the end.

19 January, 2006

More Than You Deserve *

It seems that Some Of You need a little primer on MeatLoaf. Allow me in my fangirl obsessiveness to enlighten you.

Common Misconceptions About Meat Loaf

1. All his songs sound the same.

Clearly this is a naive misunderstanding. There are actually three distinct Meat Loaf songs.
a) Driving Rock Manifesto (Bat Out Of Hell; Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere))
b) Party Rock Riff (Paradise By The Dashboard Light; Everything Louder Than Everything Else)
c) Rock Ballad (Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad; More Than You Deserve)

2. He wrote the songs.

No. The Premiere King of Rock Opera, Jim Steinman wrote the best of Meat Loaf's songs. He also wrote such gems as the killer rock-out Holding Out For A Hero; the mega-hit Air Supply song Making Love Out Of Nothing At All and of course the song ably covered by Celine Dion--It's All Coming Back To Me Now. You Barry Manilow geeks are probably familiar with his cover of the Steinman ballad (category C) Reed 'Em And Weep

3. The non-Steinman Meatloaf albums kinda suck.

Holding any record next to a Steinman opus causes the non-Neverland record to pale in comparison. Regardless, there are some great tracks (Wolf At The Door, Midnight At The Lost And Found) that can be dredged up off these weaker discs.

4. Meat Loaf Never Sang In A Movie

LIAR!!! His rendition of Hot Patootie in The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the ultimate keeper.

5. 35-year old women who are obsessive walking encyclopaedias of Aday and Steinman are crazy.

This is probably true. But we are happily crazy and crazy with our happiness.

*ETA: This is actually the title of Steinman's second publicly performed Rock Operetta.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Big Orange Michael!

(Sorry. They didn't have any Dr. Who cakes.)

Buying Books

There's been endless chatter over the past few years about why people have stopped going to movies in the theatre. The mainstream audience all have opinions--most of them very accurate assesments of the situation. But nobody talks about not buying books.

Scratch that. We talk about it in Book Fetish Land all the time. Any gathering of people devoted to reading, writing and selling books turns into a quest for validation in the form of cash. "I hear they're buying comic books" said the former Southern correspondant for Publisher's Weekly. We all chimed in, telling him they're called "graphic novels" now. Regardless, none of us can draw. We all know the gormless diety called They are buying books about God, but for many people in the room writing one of those is even more remote. We are all reassured by the new mantra--Just Because You Aren't Published Doesn't Mean You're Not A Writer. We know this to be true, because we've all been writers before we knew the alphabet. We've all tended toward that isolating life, given to imagining a better end to this conversation, this bad day, this long week. Secretly, though, we know our mothers and husbands and wives would be more pleased if our work were smythe-sewn into a hard cover and exchanged for cash. We all hate Jo Rowling, because she is the Beanie Baby of authors. Everyone spends their book cash on Harry, and the bar has been set even higher. Before Jo we hated crazy Patsy Cornwell and all the guys who decided to write instead of practicing law. We who can't imagine another career have been pretty fed up with the Crichtons and Grishams who are well-trained in socially acceptable jobs. They leave their jobs and take our women. Or at least the money from our women.

So why aren't people buying books anymore? I tend to blame the Great Divide. There are Bran Books--dry, fibrous, heavy and good for you. Any cursory examination of "best books" lists makes me glaze over. The Best Books are often a chore to get through, with alienating characters who have lives even more depressing than mine. No one outside of New York, Chicago and LA is buying these books unless they're getting a copy to show off for the girls at the campus coffee house of their choice. "Oh, look. He's deep and sexy because he's reading White Teeth in hardcover!"

On the other side of the canyon are the Candy Floss books that people do buy. Light, sweet and easily digested stories about serial killers, sexy escapades and magic in all its forms. Publishers take them seriously because they keep the presses open, but most writers consider them the ten-dollar blowjobs of the book world. When I naively announced at a writer's workshop that I wouldn't mind having my books actually be bought and enjoyed by readers the instructor made a face. "Commercial fiction is ....different" she sneered. Okay then.

Commercial fiction may be different, but I still dream of writing a good novel that is actually saleable. The icons for me are Pillars Of The Earth, Gone To Soldiers ; Roots; Gone With The Wind and The Thorn Birds. These are all excellent books, both stylistically and thematically. They're substantial, don't feature FBI Profilers and actually sold millions of copies each. I think it can still be done. But will people buy it?

Maybe if we put 10 pages of ads at the front of each book...

18 January, 2006

Big News At Our House

Well. It's finally here. The company merger has transpired, the news is public and maybe things will stop being so cRaZy.

Like A Sinner Before The Gates Of Heaven

Ivy asks what everyone does to boost themselves out of those jabberwocky days where nothing seems worthwhile and everything is that gray filmy vice clamped around the base of your brain.

So I gave her the best answer I could then decided to take my own advice.

It does work--but my dog doesn't like it when I sing the entire 9 mintues of Bat Out Of Hell to him.

I'm still down at the bottom of the pit in the blazing sun...but at least the sun is shining.

Quick, Somebody Find Me A Crack Pipe

Today I am sick of being responsible. I've had it with the getting up in the morning and getting things done and behaving appropriately. I'm tired of not hurting all the people I care about. I want to live selfishly and just forget about the feelings of others. Then the world will celebrate my passion and give me awards.

Brokeback Mountain. Sigh. I have a real problem with it, and it's not the Gay part. It's the "love story" part.

I've always hated Romeo & Juliet (and it's singin' 'n' dancin' cousin West Side Story) because of it's billing as a Love Story. One minute the dude is "In love" iwth Rosalind or Rosamund or Rosawhatever and then Juliet trips into his eyeline. From there on out it's two kids disregarding the pain they are causing everyone else to pursue their needs first. Call it lust, call it passion, call it what you will. But that ain't love.

Now we're back to Brokeback Mountain, another stirring passion story disguised as love. When I read the Annie Proulx short story many moons ago my first response was to consider this a tragedy. Quite frankly, I'm surprised at the marketing for the film, because the story is--at its root--tragic. These men allow their passion and desire for one another to wreak havoc and destruction on their own innocence (symbolized by the death of the sheep during their first encounter) and then on those around them. They cause their wives grief and pain with constant betrayal.

I know how I would feel if my husband had any lover of any gender on the side througout our marriage. I definitely wouldn't counsider him tragic and star-crossed. I would, perhaps, consider him dead. I darn sure wouldn't give him awards.

17 January, 2006

Christians, The One Thing You MUST Read Today

(Aside from your daily devotions, of course....)

Shaun Groves talks about the state of the modern church, and pulls no punches.

Who's In Charge?

I've learned a new trick, but only halfway. I now understand that I'm to get up from my desk and open the door when my master jumps and claws the doorknob insistantly. Unfortunately I've not mastered the latter half of the trick. This involves turning off the water that comes from the sky. I am apparently too stupid to understand that this is part of the task indicated with the insistant eyes and the claws on my left arm. Maybe some day I'll wise up.

16 January, 2006

Skeevy Nasty Gross | What Is A Woman

If you know me at all you know that I have several neuroses, many of them small. I will never pick up a penny if it's tails-up and I'll never set anything on top of my Bible. I don't crack the spines on paperbacks and I can't go to the toilet if a person is staring at me from the cover of a magazine. But the absolute bottom line bedrock foundation of my World Of Rules is that You never eat in the bathroom. You never take food in the bathroom. You never take food NEAR the bathroom.

I know I've written about this before, but it is such a core part of me that it bears repeating. And it also explains why I was on the verge of weeping after I watched my TiVo'd episode of the latest Grey's Anatomy.

My brother called me last night. He giggled as he asked me if I watched it yet, so I knew something was up. As I watched it today I kept wondering what compelled him to call me. I was sure it was the storyline about the writer who ate his novel, and I was prepared to be irritated at what I presumed was a hint about my work. Then I wondered if he was hinting that perhaps I ought to have a sex reassignment surgery like the girl who drew the comic book. (Rant on that in a minute.) But no. As the last scene flashed on the screen and the three housemates shared a pizza in the loo I freaked out. Through the haze of Benedryl and Vicodin that had me half asleep I wailed "THEY'RE EATING IN THE BATHROOM".


Now for the other piece of my mind. I'll try to make this brief. I have news for the world. You can be completely and utterly female and still:

a) not care about clothes
b) like to draw graphic novels
c) play chess
d) play Dungeons & Dragons
e) not be classically pretty

Thank you. That is all.

Monday's Brief Thoughts

1. So...did Sharon quit blogging or am I reading too much into her last post?

2. I have no idea who the person is that decided to rail against my railing against the Geisha book, but I think they're funny. Mostly because the fact that I'm white seems to bother him/her. And because s/he thinks I chose the quote at the top of my blog out of some random idiocy. Yeah. That's like me. To choose a life motto not because I like what it says but because I think it looks pretty. Dude, just because it's Hindi doesn't mean that I don't know what it means. But allow me to say that I love the fact that you think a white girl can't know Hindi. Who's the prejudiced jerk now?!?

3. I really think that Moonstruck may be the perfect movie. We watched it last night and I was reminded of the first time I saw it. I was a senior in High School and realised watching that movie that the most important thing to me--my core need--is family. That's so politically incorrect these days. Women aren't supposed to want family. We're supposed to go charging ever upwards through that glass ceiling and not care about the warmth of kin. I'm not like that. I was thankful last night to be watching that film surrounded by my family. Such as it is. Ah. It could only be better if the whole thing were in Hindi. Darn white people.

4. I've finally made it through all the Elizabeth George books--save the last one, which I'm reading now. And thank goodness I always read the last page first. Because it seems that the revelations in this one are big. And it seems that a character I've never cared for may be on its final book of the series. Cool. But boy, that Violinist book of hers was loooong and tiresome after about page 400.

5. The best shows on tv right now: Arrested Development (sigh); Battlestar Galactica; Veronica Mars; Gray's Anatomy; My Name Is Earl. I'm going back and forth on Lost. Whoever wrote last week's episode for Adewale's character did an excellent job. And thankfully they didn't need much Kate. I'm also trepiditious about The Office. Okay, I think it's funny, but I don't know if I like Carrell more or less than Gervais. I do think that many of the Carrell bits are kind of over the top, whereas Gervais never really left the realm of the possible. Still, I laugh my butt off at both.

13 January, 2006

Liar's Club

I have just deleted a bunch of tired stuff about the nature of truth in writing. Let me cut to the chase.

It's hard to get published. It's even harder to get your book actually sold once it IS published. Fiction is very difficult to sell. A memoir of a vibrant life is much more interesting to sell--especially to the Oprah crowd. They eat that stuff up.

So when you fictionalise your personal story and call it a "memoir" to boost sales for your book, you are about nine kinds of an ass. When you present your writing as fact you are asking for a bond of trust with the reader. When you break that trust, you are 10 kinds of an ass. Hence Gas Guy, James Frey and everyone else whose dummied up their not-so-personal tale to make a buck.

Lying is wrong.

And trusting junkies is stupid.

The Local Brothel

My mother grew up on a farm and has always embodied the no-nonsense approach to life that comes from getting up at 4am to milk cows and gather eggs. She's proud of always keeping her promises and never lying to her children. Because of her practice of always telling the truth, whenever I asked innocent questions about prurient subjects, I always got a cut-to-the-chase answer. Although, of course, it was tailored to my age and experience, and left me with the impression that sexual interaction was sort of an overlarge game for whacky grownups who had nothing better to do.

Our local brothel was (inconveniently) named "The Doll House", so I always wanted to stop there. It was on the way into the city, so we'd drive by it occasionally. Each time we passed, I begged to go inside. I imagined rooms filled with tiny furniture, miniscule plastic foods and dolls from around the world. It seemed like a sort of thing well-suited to a five-year-old. My mother--who presumably regretted the fact that I could read when I was two and therefore knew what the sign said--finally had to shatter my notion of children's utopia.

"They don't sell dolls there, Kathy." I, of course, did not believe this. Why call it "The Doll House" otherwise? Pretty stupid, if you ask me. When I told her as much, I got the response that loomed large in my mind for the next five years. "It's a place where men pay money to see ladies without their clothes." That shut me up, if only to ponder the larger consequence of this new (to me) avenue of commerce. I knew Daddy was a lawyer and Mommy was a teacher who stayed home to take care of the babies that kept showing up. I had no IDEA that being naked for people was an actual job. In my mind they were all standing naked behind cash registers, and you had to give them a quarter to come around to the front of the counter. It seemed stupid to waste your allowance on something you couldn't even take home with you.

From that point on, The Doll House became my mortal enemy. I felt personally betrayed by their choice of business names. If they wanted to be naked for men, then I thought it was only fair to call it The Naked Lady House. That seemed to make more sense, and wasn't so misleading to little girls. Ten years later the nudie franchises came to town and Deja Vu put our little homegrown brothel out of business. At least their name was more accurate. If you've seen one naked lady, you pretty much know what you're looking at.

12 January, 2006

Apple Core

This post was going to be relegated to a comment on this post at Nashville Is Talking. But since I haven't written anything for the blog today and I'm really mad at the guy who wrote the original piece, I'm airing my dirty laundry for everyone here. Lucky You!

My Heartfelt Response To Criticism Of Apple's Marketing

Please, dude.

Like we Mac users haven't put up with WinTel nerds' Apple's So Stupid-Windows Is Pretty much Everything games forever now.

Some common ASSWIPE Dozens:

1. You guys have only 3% of the market share!
2. What a Dumb OS!
3. Why should I pay a gajillion dollars for a Mac when I can build my own box out of parts I scrounge from the dumpster and get a better machine?
4. Macs are for graphic designers, little old ladies and stoners. You can't do business work on a Mac.
5. Macs are computers with training wheels.
6. You can't game on a Mac.
7. Jobs stole the GUI before Gates stole the GUI.

So what have we done?

1. Increased our market share with pervasive, highly utillitarian and beautiful products. iPod/iMac anyone?
2. Proven to WinTel users the ease of our Plug and Play with iTunes--the original siren song.
3. Proven that a Mac is a beautiful experience out of the box--and one that is remarkably consistant.
4. Made graphic design simple enough for little old ladies and accessible to everyone. We've proven the ease of beauty in the computing experience. I have run complicated business modeling in Excel on a Mac for almost decade now.
5. Macs are computers for users. Not computers for snotty guys who can't get dates and like to have the Mysteries of the BIOS be the one part of their masculinity in which they are secure.
6. Ever tried gaming on a Mac? You can, and it's easier. The good thing is that the best games get ported. We aren't throwing money into the sewer by playing all of the also-rans that tempt you unlucky folk.
7. Who stole what from PARC Xerox is moot. Gates has made a cluttered mess that can't run smoothly, because he's had to engineer his product for a ream of dumpsterbuilds and multi-brand boxes. Apple has utilised the same GUI idea to give a seamless plug and play experience.

So now all your chips are belong to us. There is nothing standing between you and a Mac experience. Come on. Once you go Mac you never go back. And we are arrogant--Because We Have The Right To Be.

11 January, 2006

Harry Potter Book 7 Predictions (Spoilers, Obviously)

Well. JKR has just given a lovely interview to The Tatler. Even though it starts off, as Connie Lane has noted like a Rita Skeeter piece, it's still pretty interesting. It makes me like her more and also increases my envy of her. The part that's got everyone riled is this little nugget:
"In the seventh book there will be deaths of both, goodies and
baddies. She was talking to her husband, Neil, the other day, after
she has just writing the death of one particular character. He
shuddered. "Oh don't do that", he said to me, but of course, I did."

So who's gonna die? Well, you can read what the Alchemests are saying at John Granger's place or at Harry Potter for Seekers. But that requires you wading through long and increasingly arcane descriptions of The Alchemical Wedding of Kristian Reusenkrantz. Yeah. I didn't think so. You can join in the lengthy discussion at Harry Potter for Grownups, but I'm already 4000 messages behind. And that's just the last two weeks. So, I've looked at the whole thing solely from a writer's persepctive. In short, how would I write it? And how do I presume she will write it, given how she has written before? So here goes nothing.

Her pattern in creating conflict seems to be:

1 major shocking death. For this I vote Hagrid; book 6 was DD. Hagrid is still a major character but one who has lost his narrative neccessity. Why is he still hanging around? So she can drop some Glaswegian dialect from time to time? No, because she knew she needed him to die in Seven.

1 Personally-affecting Harry loss. For this I vote Hedwig; we haven't had such a thing since the Nimbus was decimated. Instead we've had major fights with either Ron or Hermione. Now that the fighting with Ron and/or Hermione is done to death, we're back to Hedwig. She can't structurally give him another broomstick loss without looking tired. So bye-bye Hedwig.

1 Total screwup at Hogwarts. We've had DADA teachers who were crazy, Divination teachers who were useless or obscure, Hagrid's many absences and the death of DD. So now we've got to muck about with the school a bit. Flitwick is the charms teacher. I predict Harry's growing closer to Flitwick as he learns more about his mother's prowess in Charms--only to have Flitwick bite it in the end.

1 Rocking of the Weasley boat. The Weasleys are Harry's surrogate family. There needs to be some conflict there. First it was "they're broke." Then it was "Percy is an Ass." Then it was "Percy is An Ass on the Wrong Side." Then it was "Bill's been bitten by Greyback." This time someone's gonna die. Could be anyone--how sadistic is Rowling? If she were smart she'd axe Charlie--he's outlived his purpose, since I doubt we'll need any more dragons disposed of or dealt with. If she were middling cruel she'd send one (or both) twins to their mortal end. But that kills her biggest tool for comic relief, so I can't see her doing that. Besides, the joke shop is a dead-useful source of material. It'll also give the gang a place to serve as their Diagon Alley Safe Haven now that the Leaky Cauldron is compromised. If she wants to be really mean as a snake (ha!) she'll kill Arthur. Harry already has one Patron--James. Arthur is secondary in his psychological needs. But, I'm betting she'll get her big bang from Hagrid, so Charlie is her Weasley Sacrifice.

You'll note that much of this is me whistling in the dark about the much-rumoured Death of Ron. I don't think I could handle that.

Two Of The Most Beautiful People On The Planet

Sharon rejoices at the news of Baby Jolie-Pitt's upcoming arrival. As she has said, she believes them to be two of the most beautiful people on Earth. Granted, they do look awfully nice through a camera lens and they've given piles o' cash and time to various trendy concerns.

But please excuse me if I don't celebrate their "beauty" with the rest of you. In my mind, beautiful people don't:

--Leave their spouses for someone else

--Lie repeatedly

--Refuse to be forgiving and make peace with their parents

There are all kinds of beauty, and unfortunately we celebrate this flashy stuff a lot in this country. It's a shame that eleven wheezing West Virginia coal miners can't be considered beautiful. This world doesn't see beauty in a man who puts his life on the line by descending repeatedly to the dark crust of earth to feed his family. This world doesn't see beauty in a man who perhaps gave up his last few minutes of air to save a younger man with small children to feed. That's not red carpet beauty, but it is sterling class.

10 January, 2006

Hello, My Name Is Kat And I'm Five Kinds Of Weird

I've been tagged by Big Orange Michael. Yay! I haven't been tagged in ages. It gives me more to write about. The other good thing about being tagged is that it means I get to tag Kleinheider. I love to pick on the ACKman. So let the self-referential games begin.

The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits of yourself,” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You have been tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

1. Always read the last page of every book first.

Listen, people. Life has enough surprises. I'll happily read your fiction work, but I have to at least know who's gonna make it to the last page. Now that most mysteries have a wrap-up chapter, you can even do this without spoiling the mystery for yourself. But I do that, too, nine times out of 10.

2. Always decide major decisions with the flip of a coin.

This way you can blame external forces for every bad choice you ever made. "Hey. It wasn't me. It was Abraham Lincoln."

3. Always read For Better Or For Worse before I do anything else in the morning.

No reason. It's just a funny strip.

4. Seldom wear pants around the house.

Pants are the enemies of free peoples everywhere. Oversize sweatshirts and underwear cover all the important stuff. I feel spritely when I'm hyper groundclad. What is pantsfree anyway? Nude is "skyclad", and shoeless is "groundclad". Would that make pantsless "treeclad"? Whatever. I'm not a Wiccan anyway, so I don't guess it matters.

5. Look up absolutely everything on Snopes.

I've been a denizen lurker of AFU since its inception. I don't believe a single darn thing anyone ever tells me anymore. It's the habit that I think most irritates my friends and family. They'll tell these great stories about this woman who was best friends with their neighbor lady and how she was given spider-egg laced bubble gum from a greedy chef at Neiman Marcus. Everyone else will ooh and ahh and comment on the prowess of the teller. It's up to me to say (as snottily as possible) "That's an Urban Legend." Really, it's both bitchy and evil. And I enjoy every last minute of it. Rave on, haters!

Those who are being tagged include my usual suspects:

Kleinheider; Patrick and/or Lydia; John H. (if he's back at last!);Connie Lane; and (Let's see if she'll do it...)Sharon Cobb. I love giving the serious polibloggers some inanity to brighten their day. Cause Lord knows there ain't nuthin inane about politics.

Steve Jobs Can Kiss My Nethers

Great. Another triumphant Macworld Keynote. My poor iMac G5 now feels much the same as Maria Anna Mozart. Sure, honey. You were all good and wonderful and played music very well. But now your baby brother Wolfie has come along with his prodigious talent and Intel Chips the size of billiard balls. Congrats. You are now a footnote in the history of greatness.

How Blogger Ruined My Life & How I Am Solving My Problem Creatively

I never give my main "good" email to just anyone. And I never ever put it on the web in any form. Except for my blogger "email your comments" page. And thus the floodgates of spam have been opened. Not the good spam with free pictures of nekkid people, mind you. But the stupid spam. A typical subject line reads "a acquiesce, but eradicable". If I click on it, it crashes my MacMail program and deletes the other messages that it rode in on. Took me awhile to figure out why I hadn't gotten the emails people were waiting for me to answer.

So I took my inspiration from a bad joke (Doctor, it hurts when I do this--so don't do that) and just decided to not click on the messages. Problem solved.

Then, as I looked at my Inbox and saw all the creative spam names, I realised something. Finding names for minor characters in stories is really a pain when you write. Authors are forever telling you their little tricks. "Go through the phone book" and "Drag Queen Game"* are popular solutions. There was even a character on Chicago Hope named after a car commercial. (Lease A Catera became Dr. Lisa Catera.) But here, in my inbox, is a the lemon from which I can make life's lemonade.

So when you read my books don't be surprised to find minor characters called Eli Judd or Kelley Anaya.

*The Drag Queen Game is the name of your first pet and the first street you lived on. I get Nikki Bluffside. Tom gets Lady Bluffside. Tim gets something like Midnight Third. I've clearly got the best one.

09 January, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Cheryl of Richardson Zoo

My Cult Religion

Yes. There will be liveblogging of Jobs' Keynote at MacWorld.

Ah. Macworld. The day where it's always guaranteed that I will break at least one commandment.

For more Jobsian arcana, check out Jason

08 January, 2006

Church Of The Holy Comforter

It's Sunday morning. I'm fifteen minutes from walking out the door to go to church. There are many days when I wonder why I do this. God Himself declared the Sabbath a day of rest, so it seems counterintuitive to leave the bed early and spend the majority of this day "on"--interacting with other people, thinking deep thoughts and doing the ecclesiastical gymnastics of standing for hymns and prayer.

What's the point, when God is everywhere? When as a Saved person I have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit with whom I dialogue frequently. (Perhaps this is part of why I'm not so dunded about The Book of Daniel--the apparantly crazy notion of constant conversation with a Living God is all too familiar to me.) Can't God be worshipped by quiet moments on a hillside or fishing in a river?

For years that was my mantra. Who needs church and the politics of imperfect people constantly trying to convince others they are more perfect than the rest of them? What is the point? Especially when Church presents that constant due-bill of tithe. There is nothing more grating than struggling to pay all your bills and watching a church turn tithe money into necessities like roller rinks and pastors' Cadillacs.

I can't fully explain the alchemy that has turned church-going into something I like to do. But I think it would have to start with the pleasure of oasis. In the middle of a life of conflict, church presents a single time where all of us from varied backgrounds turn our eyes from our own hands and toward the common Lord. Democrats, Republicans, Black, White, Rich, Poor. We're all there, and we're all there for Him.

Church has also turned into the place where I can meet people with whom I have a lot in common. I've transplanted here from the Midwest, and find small common ground with a lot of people I encounter during the week. Church is a place where I can meet people who share my primary interest--Jesus Christ and the Bible--and also many of my secondary interests. Of course, they still won't let me sing in the spring dinner theatre production. No one is that forgiving.

So, I'm turning off the computer, putting down my book and carrying my pineapple casserole (it has cheese--sorry, Lydia) to spend the morning with God and some of His people.

06 January, 2006

Deadbeat Dads

It's Brittney's fault. She mentioned this in passing this morning. I was going to let this be a Friday and just leave my blog post about TV (not On The Fritz) as my big contribution to the world. But then my Libertarian hackles were raised.

If you contribute half the DNA for the makeup of a human being, you are responsible for that human being's welfare until they turn 18. Period. End of story. You can deal with this responsibility by being there, paying others to be there or electing to relinquish your rights through adoption. If you don't then you're pond scum.

But the government has no business acting as a bill collector for your private debts, whether to the mother of your child or the Sears store for your overdue credit card.

Giving the government that much power over lives encourages them to violate everyone's privacy. The Deadbeat Dad scenario is the prime example of the way a Nanny State interferes with it's citizens.

1. Give the problem a Cutesy Name. Deadbeat Dads turns it from being a chronic problem with many varied individual components into a societal sitcom. We stop thinking about everything from case-by-case point of view and therefore rob the citizens in question of their individuality.

2. Villainize the suspect class you've created with your cute nickname. No longer is Joe Jones a man who got laid off from his factory job after Wal-Mart started buying TVs from China. He can no longer afford the court-ordered child support and can't afford an attorney to get his payments lowered. He's now a Deadbeat Dad with no reasonable side to the story. I'm positive there are some guys who blow their babydaddy money on hoochie and cootchie. But I'll also bet it isn't everyone.

3. Announce programs of growing intrusivness into the lives of the suspect class. Take away their right to move freely. You can start requiring registration of their address with the court. Their job and earnings. Get your nose good and up in their business. It's all good. It's for the children. And--bonus. You've got the apparatus in place for minding someone else's business. Now you can start figuring out other ways to get other private citizens' every move in your book.

Child support should be handled solely by private debt collectors, who can't do things like require you to register a change of address, take away your driver's license and throw you in jail.

And yes, in case you wondered, I also think Bankruptcy should be privatised.