28 February, 2007

Take My Baby, Please

It would be wrong of me to pretend that I wasn't having fun with these little sallies between me, Aunt B. and Sarah Moore. Because I am. Even though for some reason (i.e. my own big mouth) I have been turned into the Great Demon Mennonite who favours the random deaths of children and the selling of babies.

About that. Let's talk about that, shall we? Maybe we could even get Ned or my dad or brother to pitch in, seeing as they're all attorneys who have handled private adoptions. (Or maybe my brother, Conservative Monkey Boy hasn't yet handled a p.a. But I thought he had.)

Anyway, here's what I don't get. According to a story referenced by Sarah Moore, three Mexican nationals (more on that later) were arrested for trading a baby for $1,500 in cash and prizes.

There is apparently a charge out there called "felony trafficking in children" which means that it's illegal to sell babies. Yeah, I get that. Selling babies is wrongbad. But let's imagine for a minute that you're three poor people who are already here in the country under possibly illegal circumstances. One of you has a baby she doesn't want. The others have a small amount of cash. Because you are all trying to fly under the radar you can't seek the services of an adoption attorney for a private adoption. So what do you do? Apparently you trade the baby for a car.

From what I've picked up around the dinner table in my childhood, private adoption is a big, hairy expensive deal. It can cost anywhere between $10K and $15K. Now, granted, that money doesn't go for downpayments on Dodge Intrepids. But it does get filed into neat little piles with names like "medical expenses", "travel costs" and "related expenses".

I've personally known many families who've engaged in private adoption. They NEVER say "I will trade you a car for your baby." But they do say "fly here from Iowa and I will put you up in a fancy hotel, take you shopping for clothes, buy you an iPod, take you to dinner and stuff while we get to know each other." Sure, the lawyers call that "...and related expenses."

I call it the adoption equivalent of Al Gore's energy shell game. It seems to me from where I sit that this may just be another instance of the haves being different from the have-nots. If you can afford a lawyer who can make it all sound pretty and nice and legal you can buy yourself a baby. If, on the other hand, you're just flat broke and have no way to care for your child--that child we didn't want you to kill when it was in your belly--then you are just up the creek, my dear. And you'll have to find a way to get back down that creek without a new car.

What Is Wrong With YOU PEOPLE?!? (Special Wednesday Edition)

>> Who decided to make public bathroom stalls out of highly reflective materials? What sick, twisted person thought this up?

I have no desire to watch myself in the act of using the toilet, thank you very much. Talk about your humbling experiences.

>> Parents are supposed to love their children. They are supposed to protect them from harm. They are supposed to nurture them and provide them with self-assurance.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's groovy that my parents will still send my husband birthday gifts. But if you think they didn't send this one today just to imagine the look of horror on my face (before I fainted), you have another think coming.

Behold. The gift which arrived in the mail today:

Funny. Very funny.

>> Lastly, whoever said that Freudian Selling Tactics were going out of style forgot to inform the Jelly Belly people.

Is that a candy bean with added vitamins or are you just happy to see me?

Thank You, Bill Hobbs

A few weeks ago I wrote about Al Gore's profit motive and it's connection to his environmentalism. It was a glib post, but one with what I consider to be important facts about Mr. Gore's business practices.

Today in a far less glib post, Bill Hobbs takes the time to explain those financial operations in greater detail.

27 February, 2007

J.L. Kirk & Associates: My Story

Feel free to skip to the end for the juicy stuff...

JL Kirk & Associates found my husband's resume online. They contacted him a couple of weeks ago and offered their services as an 'Executive Placement Firm'. As I'm wont to do, I of course Googled them as much as possible and found very little in the way of solid information. So I've decided to write up our experiences with them for anyone else who is interested in finding out more about this particular operation.

Anyone who has been searching for a job for any length of time is well aware of the various vulnerabilities that are part of the process. There's the self-doubt, frustration and impatience, coupled with no small amount of worry. So when a job searcher gets an email that says "maybe we can help!" the relief is almost immediate.

My husband filled out an application and questionnaire, and returned it directly to the company. He then received an appointment with a counselor the following week. During that appointment the representative of JL Kirk & Associates interviewed him just as one would for a position. The afternoon after the interview he received an email that congratulated him on making it through the first step of the process. They wanted to schedule a second interview which required my presence as a Support Person/Spouse/Significant Other. When he scheduled the interview he questioned them directly about their fees and payment arrangements. He was told that if we received approval after the second interview the money would be discussed at that time.

So today was the second interview, and we drove to Maryland Farms for our 2:00 appointment. We sat in a waiting room next to a fake fireplace and a lone man in a suit. At 2:11 a matronly woman came out and announced to the other man--in front of us--that she would not be able to meet with him because he wasn't able to bring his Support Person. They had a lengthy conversation in front of us about this failed meeting and his disappointment. He asked to speak with her behind closed doors (as would I) and then five minutes later that conversation ended with him leaving dejectedly. She then turned to us (it is now 2:17pm) and greeted us warmly.

We were led into an office that appeared to have been the result of a decorating war between a loan officer and an eccentric grandmother. The prototypical office furniture clashed with a giant print of Raffael's Cherubs a reproduction oriental rug and a handmade mosaic table with a tilted top. The Husband and I were seated in two chairs across from the interviewer, who sat on a sofa next to a pile of throw pillows.

Here's where the fun starts. We heard all about how hard it is to find a job, how most jobs aren't posted online and are only found through networking. We heard about how the really good jobs are available only to those 'in the know' and can only be obtained through some wizardy combining Masonic handshakes, good dentistry and whatever pixie dust this particular company stores in the backroom. This interview seemed very carefully designed to exploit every potential vulnerability that any jobseeker feels. After about 10 minutes of conversation subtly designed to push every button we may have, the interviewer handed us a booklet that was said to be a tailored write-up of my husband's profile as a job-seeker. The interviewer left us alone in the room to digest the booklet on our own terms.

The booklet consisted of three pages of reiteration of the interview's strong-arm tactics, followed by a regurgitation of information from my husband's resume, all summarised with a couple of pages essentially saying "the job market is tough but we think you're really great and so we'll be here to help you get a job!" We skimmed the booklet and reviewed our game plan, then signaled the interviewer by opening the door.

Our game plan was to ask direct questions about the company's operation and placement record. In short, 'what exactly do you do and how well do you do it?' We had test answers in mind. In short, if we ask a direct question and get a vague answer such as "every case is different so numbers are hard to apply here" that tells us a great deal about the company's services.

Sure enough, our first question about placement rate was answered with an "every case is different, etc." style answer. Ultimately she gave us the figure of "90 to 92% placement rate" and then proceeded to tell us a long tale about a 'failed' client who showed up 37 minutes late to an interview with a CEO from an out-of-state firm. We all agreed that was indeed very unprofessional of said client and what a shame and how good to not work with him. (I of course was thinking about how we were on time for that interview which she failed to start until 17 minutes after the promised appointment time.)

She then gave us the very good news that they were prepared to accept us as clients. Then the fun began. We were told that Headhunters and Employment Agencies took fees only when a job had been secured for the job seeker, and they took their fees (generally 30-40%) from the hiring firm. But that means the job seeker gets a lower starting salary because all of their good money is going to the headhunter/employment agency. Thankfully, though, JL Kirk & Associates will be able to get my husband a job making a far larger starting salary. All we need to do is put $4,420 on a credit card today. Once we do that the entire weight of the firm of JL Kirk & Associates will begin the task of navigating treacherous shark-infested landmines of the job search on behalf of my husband. And just trust them, because they find jobs for 90% of the people who pay them to.

So that's how it works. And that's pretty much how we expected that it would work. But both the spouse and I believe that it's irrepsonsible to not pursue any lead during this time so we thought we'd go through the process. Especially since they kept so much of it in the dark from the outset.

But I'm very angry about it. If you've made it this far, I suppose maybe you could tell that I've been supressing most of my irritation. However, irritation makes for good blog reading, and so here it is.

I get really ticked off at people trying to use fear to motivate others. I don't care if you are a fire-and-brimstone preacher, an insurance salesman, a used-car salesman or a cat burglar. Finding someone else's fear and vulnerability and using that vulnerability to somehow enrich yourself is a cheap and underhanded tactic. It's wrong and it's cruel. And I think that's exactly what this placement firm did to us today. There were times when I felt like I was sitting across from a spider. We were meant to feel at home enough to let down our guard so that the woman could then ply us gently with tales of terror. All of it was designed to make us hand over nearly $5,000 without question and without possibility of a refund.

The husband and I are not always idiots. We both expect to pay for services rendered from any provider. But we generally like to be treated as responsible adults. We had legitimate questions about the fee structure and we raised those at several points in the process. For them to not even discuss that fee structure until they had battered us emotionally for half an hour is what I would consider to be unethical. I'm sure there are other employment agencies and headhunters out there. We'll continue to look for them.

In the meantime, I would discourage anyone who stumbles across this entry from even going through the JL Kirk & Associates "interview process".


I should also mention that this company was formerly Bernard Haldane before it was purchased by Mr. Kirk Leipzig. One of the accusations against Bernard Haldane was that they would make an examination of the potential client's assets and charge accordingly. I find it interesting to note just how close our "fee" was to the tax refund we recently received. Hmmm. Makes you wonder, no?

Fat Babies Are Bad, Government Intervention Required

Sigh. I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness sometimes.

It's taken me a long time to morph into a libertarian, primarily because I'm leery of the misconception that all libertarians are Republicans who want to smoke pot. (By the way, if you are one of the people who has said that to me recently please realise that you're not clever and that's only the 9000000th time I've heard it.)

I started with a libertarian school of thought because of something my mother said to me when I was probably ten or eleven. I told her I thought the government should take away my relative's child because they smoked around her. My mom countered with "how would you like the government to take you away from me because I'm fat?"

That introduced me to the concept of the dangers of a nanny state. That someone would actually think my parents were unfit just because they were overweight was both annoying and scary to me. Back then, though, I rested comfortably in the notion that my mom was using hyperbole to make her case.

Hyperbole until now, that is. Sarah Moore writes this morning in praise of the British government's attempts to take custody of a fat 8 year-old from his parents. They're fat, he's fat. Clearly they will destroy him with their fatness, so the government must--For The Children--step in. Moore claims the child is abused because his incredible fatness will get him mocked throughout life and possibly lead to diabetes. So clearly the best thing here would be for the British Government to raise the boy.

You know what? I agree. I think mockery and the potential for later disease is a very good reason for the State to intervene in any private family. That's why I think we should take all children away from single parents. Studies show that children do best with a mother and a father under the same roof. And there are still bullies who mock kids from single-parent households. So let's have the government step in here.

I also think we should take children away from all bi-racial couples. Clearly they will be mocked, and they are of course subject to various genetic conditions depending on the race of the couple.

Furthermore, I think it is abusive to raise a child in a Muslim or Jewish or athiest household. This is a Christian nation. If you are not a Christian you will be mocked. And you may have a genetic predispostion to Taye-Sachs or alcoholism or whatever. We'll come up with something. Meanwhile, the State will step in.

Ah, what a brave new world!

If I ever do have a baby, I'll make sure to have you all at the weekly inspections of his health. After all, I'm fat and can't be trusted to parent my child.

I Don't Usually Do This

I don't generally post my dreams, because I think they're often too wierd. But I dreamed a dream (in time gone byyyy... sorry, couldn't help myself) last night that was both freaky real and freaky wierd.

So I was in this hospital having a baby, and the strangest group of people were there watching. Random stangers from off the street were in the delivery room with me. I had an Indian doctor from India who wanted to screw a wooden device into the back of my spine that would force my shoulders back because he said it would help with the birth.

Then one of the random people in the hospital room with me mentioned that the town where I was presently giving birth was the Hooters Capital Of The World, with 120 Hooters locations in the neighbourhood surrounding the hospital.

All morning I've been looking around for the baby and then having to remind myself it was all a dream.

I can't wait for my spouse to help me interpret this one...

Lost Schmost

Now, last night's Heroes was how you do an episode, my friends.

Lots of answers, a few new looming questions and some really great performances. Nothing about tattoos.

I think it's safe to say that this episode of Heroes, quite frankly, rocked.


Turns out there are spoilers in the comments. Be forewarned and thus forearmed....

26 February, 2007

What I Have Against Dan Radcliffe's Penis

Okay. You. Stop with the joke that's in your head right now. I know you and I know what you're thinking. And I don't mean what you think I mean with the title of this post.

So let me explain myself.

Here I am, a married woman of a certain age, and an avowed Harry Potter fan. So of course you realise that the publicity pictures of Naked Dan Radcliffe--Harry Potter in the movies--would find their way to me somehow. (And no, I'm not going to link to them from here, because they are of questionable legality in the United States, him being 17 and all.)

Being a married woman who took a couple fine arts classes, I've seen a few naked men in my time. The male reproductive organ isn't new to me by any stretch (ha!) of the imagination.

Being a person who goes to the movies on occasion, I'm also aware that actors and actresses routinely appear in more than one role (if they're both good and lucky.)

Thing is, one of the things that I believe has made the Harry Potter franchise so successful across all generations is the fact that it tables discussion and exploration of sexuality in favour of other themes. So much of modern fiction (even Young Adult literature) is now so overtly sexualised that it has become very difficult to find entertaining books about themes like courage, honesty, friendship, romance and sacrifice without bringing the question of sex into play. With Harry Potter, JK Rowling created a world where the sexuality of characters was wholly incidental to the telling of the tale.

Of course, that hasn't stopped the sexualising of the series from any number of fanfic authors, wistful virgin teenagers and others. But that fanfic exists in its own ghetto and doesn't encroach upon the canon experience.

Dan Radcliffe's twig-n-berries, on the other hand, does. He's the face of Harry Potter and still appearing as Harry in at least one upcoming film. I know he doesn't want to be typecast as Harry Potter forever, but to mind as long as he is still playing Harry Potter, he is associated with that role. And flashing a picture of "his" (or some photoshopped model--the jury is still out on that) penis around the internet casts a bit of a red light upon what should be a non-sexualised experience.

I think it may be old-fashioned of me, but I do believe there is a time and a place for sex and the expression of sexuality. I think now is perhaps not the time and Harry Potter newsgroups are perhaps not the place for Dan Radcliffe's sexuality to be so overtly explored.

Ironically, the play which started this whole thing, Equus**, is all about the psychic pain of passion and teen sexuality and the force of nudity.

**In case you haven't seen it, I'll offer my one-sentence summary:

"I have no life so I made up a fixation about horses and then tried to have sex in front of the horses and couldn't get it up so I poked their eyes out and now this shrink thinks my fantasy horse world is cool."

I like Peter Shaffer a lot, but I have always profoundly disliked this play.

An Amazing Discovery

My local Publix has begun importing my favourite British snack foods.

It is now possible to buy Caramel Aero bars, Crunchie bars, Jammie Dodgers and Cadbury Flake bars.

I swear to you, it's as though God sent me a little care package via airmail. Well, God or the manager of Publix. Take your pick.

25 February, 2007

So THAT'S Why I Don't Watch Them Anymore.

I saw a grand total of 90 seconds this year. I picked two random snippets totally by accident, since we were watching videos and I flipped over to the Academy Awards during my spouse's "go get snacks" and "let out dogs" breaks.

Snippet One:

It was the red carpet pre-show. Cate Blanchette was being interviewed by some man about her brave decisions to wear belts in a bunch of her movies.

Wha?!? Didn't she just play a pedophile school teacher? And the brave decision was to wear a belt around her sweater? I guess it must have been a fashion piece. Since I'm fashion tone-deaf, that whole scope of the Oscars is lost on me.

Snippet Two:

I swear to you I'm not kidding when I say that the second time I flipped over it was Al Gore with (I think) Leo DiCaprio, faking an announcement to run for office and then being played off stage.

Now obviously I'm not Gore's biggest fan. I didn't vote for him before and I wouldn't vote for him again. But I did think long and hard about this. I would have been just as irked if it were Ronald Reagan up there.

I'm into politics in a fairly big way, as I'm sure those who know me realise. I'll watch party conventions till I'm blue in the face. But I'm very much into the seperation of Politics and Entertainment. I don't want to turn on the news to see an actor try to give political analysis (*I'm talking to you, George Clooney), and I don't want to turn on a TV show to see a politician or hear a political speech. At least Reagan had the decency to quit acting before he went into politics.

So ironically, in a nutshell, there are the two primary reasons I no longer watch: I could give a krep about fashion choices and I'd rather save politics for Monday morning.

24 February, 2007

Answer A Family Debate For Me, Please

Is it unethical to get wings from Hooters if you do it carry-out?

The Book Of GOB

At 5:35 this morning I told my husband I felt like I was "in hell". It wasn't an exaggeration. I've had one thing after another go wrong, whether with my health, my employment or his employment. It's sort of like a season in the desert or something.

It's about to the point now where you have to laugh because it's all so blasted tragic. It's like a Yiddish Melodrama, and it's so bad that I don't even want to list everything because looking at it written-out would make people think I've actually made this stuff up.

I started thinking that perhaps I was like Job, and then now I think maybe I should be more like GOB--Gob Bluth.

My current responses to the hellapalooza that is my life are now as follows:

Come ON!!!

I've made a HUGE mistake.

I turn illusions for money.

23 February, 2007

The Other Problem With Bloggers' On The Hill Day

It all started with the Republicans throwing a donuts-and-coffee reception for those far enough to the Right to merit an invite. Now, I gather, they want to have a corresponding shindig for the Leftward.

As a libertarian (albeit a very right-leaning), I scratch my head in wonderment. I quite obviously don't merit a pass to either group, seeing as how I don't toe anyone's line. There are a lot of folks like me in the state, folks who disavow party affiliation as a team sport and prefer to evaluate each issue solely on its merits or lack thereof.

And gradually the climate here in Tennessee seems to be freezing us out. Where are the official functions for those of us who refuse to be officially labelled? Funnily enough, I once thought "taxpaying citizen" was all the label a person required in order to participate in this government by the people.

Being In Love

I always love my husband. I'm always in love with my husband.

But whenever Son of a Preacher Man comes up on the ol' Party Shuffle, I fall in love with him a little bit more.

I think I'm lucky that way.

The Rest Of Us Just Go To A Therapist

***Spoilers for Grey's Anatomy****

The alternate title of this post was "you don't have to die to hug your mother." But I thought that might give too much away at the outset.

I do, however, think it was nice of Denny and Pink Mist and Train Girl and Mean Nurse and Dead Dog to all make an appearance at Merediith's 'getting-to-know-me' deathday party. I am, however, questioning my belief in a merciful God, given his decision to throw her back.

Between last night's Lost and tonight's Grey's Anatomy, I'm starting to realise just how tired I am of television dramas exploring exploiting Mommy & Daddy issues. I think that as a writer that's the easiest path to take when analysing your characters. Parental issues are a walk in the park, because nearly everyone has them to a degree.

Therein lies the problem. Since nearly everyone has parental issues, we've all had to work on them in our own ways. We see therapists, ministers and good friends. We take up crocheting or handball to keep our hands busy and burn off the energy. A lot of us write blogs as an exercise in exploring the people we want to be now that we can't keep blaming mommy and daddy. But not one of us out here in Viewerland gets to be as utterly cruel and self-centered as Jack on Lost and Meredith on Grey's. We have not yet been nor ever will be able to parlay the insecurities and self-doubt born of those parental issues into a festival of MEness. We do not beat up Thai tattoo artists with bad hair and we certainly don't randomly kill ourselves so that the dead will indulge us with a fifty-minute hour of talking it out.

And that's what tonight's Grey's Anatomy was. It was a rip-off of Fiscus' temporary death on St. Elsewhere, coupled with more than a few stolen grace notes from Hawkeye's journey into madness during the M*A*S*H series finale Goodbye, Farewell and Amen. The dead assemble to show Meredith the error of her ways, but seem to think that oblique hinting is a better way to do this than an outright slap across the face. Oh, I so longed to see at least one of the departed smack Meredith across her dead face and ream her out for throwing away life. Instead, Denny tells Meredith exactly why she must go on living. The upshot of his speech is that everyone at Seattle Grace believes in fairies and unicorns and rainbows and soft puppies and Meredith's Sainthood. If she gives up on life, apparently no one at Seattle Grace has reason to exist. Meredith IS the wizard, and she must return to the hospital to give George his courage, Alex his heart and Izzie her brain. Christina gets some fabulous red shoes for ninety-nine cents.

22 February, 2007

I SWEAR I Wasn't In Bogota...

Even my father asked for my alibi.

Lost: Winona Forever

Spoilers, obviously.

I consider myself to be a fairly rational and mostly polite person. I try to be kindhearted, even when I'm irritated. That being said:


I have this sinking feeling that by the time this show ends its run we will know everything we never wanted to know about Doctor Jack, right up to the size of the corn in his poo.

I really enjoyed last week's episode, and was kind of bummed that we had to return to the OtherZoo. And while I know that Miami Ink is a popular show right now, pardon me for not considering tattoos to be the most captivating entertainment out there. The fact that we spent an entire episode learning that Jack's tattoos are Chinese for "I may be an arrogant ass but I'm entitled" left me feeling lukewarm.

It also makes me nervous, because I don't like Jack's character. The last two shows--focusing on Desmond and Juliette--left me hoping that we were going to see some character decentralisation with a broader scope. Unfortunately tonight's show with its repeated emphasis on Jack The Lone Leader With Anger Issues convinces me that the writers are still considering him their pet rock. It amazes me that as much as they've tried to make him a deep well--daddy issues, committment issues, mad skillz--the Jack we see on the show is a one-note anger machine. It's as though the only emotional tool he has in his kit is a hammer. No matter what he desires he yells and threatens. The part of me that is a woman is also very bothered by watching him toss Bai Ling's character around in order to get his custom Phuket body art.

As ultimately dull as Jack's body art turned out to be, it did fit with the central theme of the show. The Branding Of Cain theme worked pretty well, even though it was alternately heavy-handed and too subtle. We see Jack 'marked' in his Jackback, and that runs concurrent to the story of Juliette being branded as punishment for killing a member of the Others' tribe.

I have a feeling the true meat of the show was in the story of Juliette's mark. The encyclopedia of symbols tells us that her type of mark is an ideogram from botany used to denote a plant's natural habitat. The symbol is a combination of a fixed star, coupled with a line. The line can either be above, below, to the right or the left of the star. The position of the line indicates the exact earthly position to which the plant belongs. Juliette's brand is a fixed star with a line rising from the top. I haven't been able to verify this yet, but I believe that denotes a southern region.

Knowing that the Others used a fixed-star brand for their mark, it's especially poignant to consider Kyle's conversation about naming constellations with Alex. Obviously some form of astronomy/astrology plays into the Others' culture.

That's interesting and I'm glad to know it, but I wish they could have found a vehicle other than Jack to explore the issue. Even so, it's a far better episode than the ones we were treated to before the break, and I will give them all due credit for that. Let's hope they keep making with the answers. Even the lame ones (like 'what Jack's tattoos mean') are better than no answers at all.

A Momentous Day

Yesterday was one of those days. I wish they made more days like that, where the weather is so fresh and comfortable that it makes you feel optimistic about everything.

I wonder if anyone else out there suffers from the little brain/emotion hiccoughs that I get on a day like yesterday. Between the weather, decent outcomes from doctors' appointments and seeing some friends' day old baby boy I kept forgetting about my problems and was back at eighteen in the spring before college when everything was possible. Nice days do that for me, and I love it.

But the most important, nicest thing about yesterday was the fact that it was truly the first day of Spring. I had my first Cadbury Egg of the season.

21 February, 2007


Adulthood has ruined pizza for me.

Once upon a Hoosier kidhood, pizza was the holy grail of suppers. How could it not help but stand out in a sea of oven steak, spam cassarole, meat loaf and chicken n' noodles? Pretty much everything else we ate was a dull mush of Germano-American farmhouse fuel. (I can still make pretty much any type of thing into a gravy.) But the days when pizza was on the menu were like heaven to me. I could rest comfortably throughout the day knowing that I had garlicky sauce, stringy cheese and spicy meat to look forward to. If parents, teachers or friends wanted to motivate me, all they had to do was dangle the promise of pizza in front of me and I'd be theirs for the asking. In fact, I'm pretty sure that pizza is the sole reason I went to several youth group functions at my church.

Then I became an adult who could eat whatever she wanted. I'm not quite certain exactly when it happened, but somewhere between twenty-two and today pizza became the thing I settle for. When I know that I will be hungry for supper but don't want to fix anything, I'll eat pizza. It's become the food equivalent of syndicated sit-com reruns. You know that you used to love it and look forward to it, but now you use it as filler.

Outgrowing the simple pleasures of life is never a good thing. I guess my only consolation is that at least now I have sex to look forward to. If the day arrives when sex is no longer a thing I anticipate, please just box me up and send me back to the factory.

20 February, 2007

This Is Just Freakin' Frabjous. (Note Sarcasm)

HBO, which can't keep a decent series to save its life (RIP, Deadwood) apparently has a new "groundbreaking" 12-part series.


What's so groundbreaking about this? Haven't we seen myriad tales of alcoholism, drug abuse and compulsive sex already? Is there something I'm missing or hasn't "addiction" been a theme in nearly every major television drama, and countless films? Isn't the Lifetime network pretty much "all addiction all the time"? Weren't there two major best-sellers about the theme of addiction? Well, "best-sellers" until it turned out that the addict author was also a pathological liar. Shocker!

For at least the past two decades, Addicts have been the new Cowboys. They are the romanticised figures who live on the edge, refuse to obey the rules of society and are celebrated for both their pain and their courage. We tiptoe around addicts because we don't want to worsen their addiction. Or we try to help them with offers of money and succor and support only to have them betray us time and again. Anyone who has had the rare priviledge of an addict in the family knows the drill. The promises to change and the glorification of the frailty when they can't. They are, after all, afflicted with a disease. A disease that harms everyone around them.

Granted, I have my own issues with the harm addiction has done to innocent bystanders. But I fail to see why a long documentary about the problems of addiction is going to do any more to help anyone.

A Confession

When I was in college I wanted to be a philosopher. Not for any good reason, but because I thought that philosophy was cool--still do.

What was even cooler to me was the idea of having an entire school of thought named after you. Pythagorian. Hegelian. So while a lot of girls are scribbling their names with their boyfriends' last names in an effort to play married, I was scribbling the possible names of my school of thought.

My maiden name didn't lend itself very well, being awkward and clunky. So for years I decided to call my as-yet-unformed school of thought the Katherinian school. (All of this is pathetic insofar as I had no actual thoughts)

I was so happy when I married a man whose last name made a good "School Of Thought" name. Although now I wonder if I should pronounce it ko-BELL-ian or KO-blee-en. The last name is pronounced KO-buhl.* So it could go either way.

Someday maybe I'll even rename my blog "The Coblian Discourses" or some other pretentious horse-pucky like that.

*Take note, telemarketers.

I'm Now Talking About TV Because I Want To And I Don't Have A Top Blog In The State So It Doesn't Matter

--Friday Night Lights
I'm really surprised by the number of people who were glad to see Kyle Chandler back on Grey's Anatomy. Someone commented here about it, and there have been a gajillion comments to the same gist at TWOP and the Grey's Writers blog. If only a tenth of those people would turn to Friday Night Lights for their Kyle Chandler fix, maybe the show would get the ratings it deserves.

--Battlestar Galactica
What the frak? I'm starting to feel as though I'm watching Mister Rogers, where everyone has an imaginary friend. First there's Baltar with his MindSix, then Caprica Six has a MindBaltar. Now Adama has his ex-wife. Are there not enough people in the fleet for our characters to have conversations with? I was also under the impression that we were supposed to be having Baltar's Big Trial.

--How I Met Your Mother
I think this is now my second-favourite comedy on television, right after The Office. Tonight's episode was golden. Moist, even.

--Studio 60
It's perverse of me, but I'm kind of amused that they're cutting this off a week early and giving The Black Donnellys a jump start. Will I watch TBD? Probably at least once. I'm a sucker for anything Irish. Speaking of which, I really miss Seanachie.

Ah, where to start? I love it second only to The Wire, and I'm peeved that they've cancelled it. Although it's probably a good thing in the long run because it's starting to ruin me for all other shows. After we finished our marathon blitz through Season 2 last week, we were watching something else on network TV. I turned to The Husband and lamented that there wasn't nearly enough swearing. I got used to the rythym of speech in Deadwood.
The show's creators also managed to do something I never thought possible. They actually got me to enjoy Brad Dourif in something. Heretofore I've loathed the man about as much as Leonardo DiCaprio. Whenever he shows up in something it's usually to freak me out, so I've just given him a wide berth. Now, though, I actually enjoyed his work.
At least I have Season 3 to look forward to.

19 February, 2007

Thoughts On Meredith

There are spoilers in this post for people like my sister who are saving last week's Grey's Anatomy to watch in tandem with this week's third part of a three parter. So B and others, don't read ahead.

Malia, this was originally a comment on your blog, but ze Blogghair is acting funky and won't actually accept the comment. So I'm putting this stuff here and expanding it a bit.

Is Meredith Gray dead? Part of me hopes so, because that would be different and interesting. We've already seen Wayne Fiscus wander through purgatory, so the whole 'dead for a while' thing isn't as new and exciting as Shonda would have us believe. Of course, tours of purgatory and hell are as old as Dante, even though Kyle Chandler is a lot hotter guide than Virgil would have been. I think. We've also had other shows with 'dead' characters, so that's not new-new either. (To wit: Dead Like Me, Six Feet Under, That Malina Kanakaredes show.)

But Meredith Gray has always been the weakest link of Grey's Anatomy. She's the kind of person that makes me wonder what the med school admissions criteria really are, and if med schools have a legacy admissions policy. Quite frankly I think Meredith would be a horrible candy striper--let alone a surgeon. As I said over at Malia's, I cannot believe that any person calling themselves a doctor would actually stop over the torn, bleeding body of a patient to discuss her romantic relationship with her boss.

As Malia pointed out in the original post, Meredith actually seems to have killed herself--not struggling or swimming, but allowing herself to sink into the depths. That sounds like Meredith, always sinking to the depths and not thinking of the effect of her actions on others. No concern for those who love her or for the dying people yet to be treated on the ferry pier.

The ending of the superb bomb episode (...As We Know It from season 2) featured the Anna Nalick song Breathe (2 a.m). Since then we have seen Meredith's increasing struggle to catch her breath. It's been hinted at comically throughout this season as Derek playfully teases her about her snoring. If I recall correctly we've even had tragic hints as her half-sister's baby was also unable to breathe. Season Three has been one long, building panic attack for Meredith. She can't breathe and she's slowly disappearing. She longs for family, yet refuses the family she does have.

And poor "pick ME" McDreamy is stuck perpetually saving her. From drowning in the tub, from drowning in the torrent of her mother's abusive words.

The sad thing is that I found myself agreeing with Ellis Gray in that scene. Not the way she handled herself, but her thoughts. Meredith--and the show--used to have the promise of being extraordinary. But lately it's become ordinary. It's become, as someone else pointed out, General Hospital P.M. I think more and more that if the writers don't kill Meredith I sure as heck hope they make her stronger.

Happy Monday

I love posts like this.

I'm Having A Problem With New Orleans

I have to admit right up front that I have never been to New Orleans. I've been invited several times but life got in the way and I never made it down there. We have good friends who love it there and go every chance they get. I know that for a lot of people New Orleans holds vast amounts of nostalgia and romance. My only associations with the city are movies, mystery novels and a half dozen tales of "I partied so hard I vomited" relayed by various friends and coworkers. My pre-deluvian mental image of New Orleans was of a booze-soaked wreck of a place covered in barf and blood.

A few days--two or three-- before Katrina hit, The Husband and I saw a CNN story on New Orleans' reaction to the prediction of a hurricane. It was one of those CNN filler pieces designed to sit in the three minutes between updates on missing pretty blondes. There were a lot of happy drunk people holding plastic cups of (I assume) beer and liquor while dancing. Occasionally a happy drunk person would lean into the CNN microphone and say something like "ain't nuthin' gonna ruin the party here, man!" or "I ain't leavin' no party this rockin'". Of course I gathered that the prediction of the hurricane was not so dire and that it was unlikely to really hit there, etc. We all know now how that really turned out.

And I guess Katrina did ruin the party there, man.

New Orleans is still in a shambles. Many of the people previously from there are in the process of trying to make new lives elsewhere, and I can't say that I necessarily blame them. Why return home when home is still a pile of humid wreckage that stinks of mildew and smolders in relentless heat?

New Orleans, however, is on top of things. They are trying to get more donations. For Mardi Gras.

Yes, that's right. They want money to throw a party. I get that it's part of New Orleans culture and a big draw for tourists, etc. But something doesn't sit right with me about a city asking for funds to throw a party while every church I know of is still sending people down on a regular basis to rebuild. I believe that charity starts with the individual and is best handled through the private sector. But it still bugs massively to see the City of New Orleans compete with its citizens for charitable dollars. Hmmm. Let's see. Should I give $25 to help someone rebuild their house or to help the city underwrite the cost of Mardi Gras?

This underscores the continuing problem with the public perception of that city. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that perhaps it would have benefitted (even prior to Katrina) from a bit more maturity and responsible leadership. I still vaguely remember the Levee Board monies that got spent on a Mardi Gras Fountain.

I still read news stories and blog entries about the suffering of Katrina victims and the sadness of the lingering destruction in the city. But pardon me if I am having trouble being moved when I hear stories about the city wanting us all to donate to a party. Blame my mama, but I always thought parties came after your real work got done. New Orleans still has some real work to do.

18 February, 2007

And The Dumbening Continues

I used to KILL at the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. I could tell you the names of everyone of note in every movie I'd ever seen, and usually throw in the names of their spouses, children and pets for good measure.

Lately I've become sad at the fact that my brain appears to be dying.

Last night was a perfect example. We rented The Departed, which does win the award for Best Movie I've Ever Seen Staffed Entirely By Actors I Hate Except For David O'Hara Whom I Will Always Love For Playing Steven In Braveheart. Yet as the movie begins, and there's a scene with Matt (Hate Him) Damon, Martin (Hate Him When He's Not On West Wing) Sheen and a third guy I could not think of the third guy's name to save my life.

I made the mistake of looking at The Husband and saying "Is that Funky Bunch?" It was, indeed. So at least I still recognise people to a degree.

Later, as we were watching Brothers In Arms, The [patently evil] Husband turns to me and says "Look! It's Brother Bunch!"

So now that I'm too stupid to remember anyone's real name, I guess I've created my own hell where I have to remember people by nicknames. I think that since that's the case I've got to rename a few people I currently refer to only as "That Ass."

17 February, 2007

Righteous Anger

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the nature of modern Christianity. I spent part of yesterday taking my mind off my petty problems by debating the nature of Christian response to abortion with various people. I realised that the core themes of that debate were LAW versus GRACE. That sounds a lot like the paralel and duelling themes in the modern church. Do we demand the right of the Law or do we extend the hand of grace?

I grew up in a house of lawyers--both existant and nascent. I learned how to argue, discuss and speak. I learned to honour the Rule of Law as the force by which all men remain free from earthly tyranny and to honour the Gift of Grace as it frees us from eternal tyranny.

It's starting to seem to me, though, that many of us Christians who've been in the life for a long time start to confuse ourselves with God. In one forum of this lenghty debate my opponant asked me a good question.

Where is the righteous anger?

I've been thinking about it. A lot. I'm starting to wonder if we as Christians have overclaimed our access to Righteous Anger.
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Romans 10:4

The rest of that passage in Romans talks about righteousness through faith. To my thinking any righteousness to which we can lay claim is ours through faith in the saving grace of Christ. So we have no righteousness apart from God.

Since our righteousness is ours solely through Grace, it would seem to me hypocritical to claim that gracious righteousness as a cudgel with which we condemn others. It seems like the Christian version of 'I've got mine, so screw you'. Is it right to whitewash our human anger in a cloak of righteousness? Or is it hubris?

I know that the song says we are joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, but frankly I don't believe that being Joint Heirs with Jesus gives us the right to assume God's role of excercising condemnation on man. I think that's what Christ was trying to tell us with the parable of the unforgiving servant. We've been ourselves forgiven of a great debt. Is it our role, then, to assess the debts of others and levy a price? I don't think so.

I'm still mulling all this over, and probably will be for a few days. It's a matter that takes some thought, I think.

16 February, 2007

The Granny Rapist

Hoo-boy. An 84 year old woman had sex with an 11-year old boy in her care.

Because she's a sweet little church-going old lady whose never been in trouble before she gets to plead guilty to a lesser charge of 'attempted sex abuse'.

What is wrong with this picture? I'm sure this isn't her first time at the rodeo. People don't generally take up the kiddy raping as a late-in-life hobby. Sure, it's the first time she got caught, but you'd have a hard time convincing me it's the first time she coerced a young boy into sex.

These people disgust me.

Get Your Facts Straight, You Dumb Kids

Okay, how ticked off am I?

I wrote that earlier post about the most perfectestest rock song ever. Some crazy folk decided that I Fought The Law should be up for nomination. Since my clearest recollection of it was from an episode of Miami Vice where some crazy guy sang it in a convertible while drinking clam juice I decided to look it up on YouTube.

Do you know HOW MANY kids out there think this is a Green Day song? Yes, I know they covered it, but honestly, how can you not tell that it's a Sonny Curtis song? Doesn't it sound like Texas?

Of course, the fact that I hate Green Day plays into my irritation. No matter how badly they want to be The Clash it just is not going to happen. Billie Joe Armstrong can just throw his eyeliner in the trash and go away.

But mostly I just get upset that in the world of electronic music there are no more liner notes, so there's no way for people to see who wrote the music and lyrics of a song. There are an awful lot of uncredited geniuses out there.

My Husband's Wisdom

My spouse is a lot wiser than I on most occasions. I think the wisest thing I've ever heard him say is that we don't need to enact permanant solutions to temporary problems. You don't give away a dog because he's peed on the rug. You don't quit your job if you've had one bad day. You don't cut off your arm if you've burned your finger.

I've been reflecting on that a lot lately, especially in the context of our current issues. Repeating it like a mantra helps me realise both the temporary nature of our current woes and the fact that there will be adequate solutions coming.

I'm also thinking about it as it relates to the conversations around the blogosphere regarding abortion in the wake of Campfield's buffoonery. I'm turning the issue over in my head and bouncing it against my Temporary Problem/Permanent Solution mantra. It's made me more confused than ever.

Is an unwanted pregnancy a temporary problem? Is there any solution to unwanted pregnancy that isn't permanent? I honestly don't think I have the answer. Part of me would be tempted to say that yes, an unwanted pregnancy is a temporary problem in that the baby can be given up for adoption at birth. The more I think about it, though, the more it seems like an unwanted pregnancy is a cluster of temporary and permanent problems. Trying to narrow it down to ONE problem--the baby--is unwise. So maybe talking about the solution in terms of that one problem--the baby--is unwise as well. I think that's what frustrates me about both sides of the abortion debate. When you distill it down to the issue of the baby it's clearly a one-problem issue. But it's never just about the baby. Ever. There are financial, emotional and physical considerations as well. Every pregnancy is a unique set of problems/challenges/opportunities and trying to evaluate a uniform response seems impossible to me.

Wordpress Irony

So now that all these blogspot bloggers have defected to Wordpress because of Blogger's SNAFU...

I can't get any of the wordpress blogs to come up.

The Perfect Rock Song

There are lots of Rock songs out there. They have one thing in common. They are not sung by John Mayer. Beyond that, there are plenty of differences.

My love of all things Meat Loaf should never be called into question. So while I admit that I think Bat Out Of Hell is the most perfect album ever, I have to say that I'm stuck trying to decide between three finalists for greatest SONG out there. Help me out.

I'm trying to decide between these three:

1) Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen

Are you kidding me? Is there another song out there that is more deserving? Another song that makes you want to get up and dance no matter how out of it you are? It has everything. Freddy Mercury's voice and praise of Fat Girls. And the drums. I was tempted to crown this one automatically, but then I remembered the other two.

2) You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC

Yes, I admit that in a perfect world this song would play whenever I walked into a room. Okay, maybe not at church. But other rooms, undoubtedly. I hope they make a movie about me so there can be at least one scene where the person playing me walks into a room and this song goes through the mind of the person playing my husband. Granted, it's not necessarily the song you think of when you think "monogamous Christian couple", but it should be. All women everywhere should want their lovers to think of this song when they think of them.

3) Making Love(Out Of Nothing At All) by Air Supply

Just Kidding. Wanted to see if you were paying attention. But it WAS written by Jim Steinman, so there.

3) (really) Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets

This is THE song. The one that started it all. Sure, it may take a moment or two get the "Happy Days" credits out of your head--admit it, you still picture the spilled milkshake--but if you get past it, it's a great song.

That's it. Now I have to pick one.

Oh, if you don't mind losing your appetite, you can check out this pathetic excuse for a cover. Seriously, someone needs to make this woman STOP.

15 February, 2007

Oh, Look! A Comment That Motivates Me

So I dragged myself downstairs to check my email this morning, and found a new comment on a post that I wrote over a year ago.

Here is the comment:

Little miss white trash, stop over analyzing everything. If you don't like the book, you don't have to waist hours of your "life" criticizing good literature. Have you written an award winning novel? no? I didn't think so, you probably don't even know what a geisha is. I am of Japanese heritage and would like to award you with the title of inane wannabe who has to criticize other people's work to feel good about herself. Omedetou bakka~ you're now officially retarded. =D

Obviously this person thought far more of Memoirs Of A Geisha than I did.

I have to say that I sure am extra-driven to get at least one of my books finished. I hate to admit it, but there would be something so satisfying to respond to comments like this with "well, yes, I HAVE written an award-winning novel." How petty and small is that? Of course it's not as petty and small as calling someone a racist name in order to make your point.

14 February, 2007

Papers, Please

It would appear that I'm somewhat late to the party. Stacey Campfield wishes to issue death certificates for aborted babies/fetuses.

I'm no stranger to this line of thinking. As a member of several infertility support groups I've watched people have funerals, make Christmas ornaments and celebrate birthdays for chemical pregnancies.** I've watched lonely and sad women mourn the loss of "little Noelle Hope, who was with us for only 4 days before returning to heaven." I've also decided in short order that these perhaps weren't the support groups I was looking for. It's very easy to dwell on what is lost, and to elevate a lost thing above the pain of the ordinary.

I'm no stranger to the two lines of thinking about pregnancy. Either it's a pre-born baby or it's a fetus who is not yet attained personhood. How you approach that line of thinking informs where you stand in the debate. I get that Campfield is of the "its a baybee [or however he spells it]" frame of mind. I don't care to start that debate here.

What I do care about is why on earth a government person thinks they need to get all up in the everyday business and private pain of individuals. Why they need to create more red tape. Look here, Campfield. Tennessee government has its hands full. The last thing you need to do is gin up more work for them.

But I do have a question. Let's say that through Campfield the government considers the pre-born to be persons.

Does this mean tax deductions for the child in gestation? Will the federal government give up a half-year of taxes (~$1300) to every pregnant woman? I'll believe in this as more than a privacy-violating stunt bill if and when this gesture is made. Yes, I realise Campfield isn't bending the ear of the federal government with this. But as my fellow conservatives seem to believe that this buffoonery passes as an eloquent statement, perhaps they'd like to get some more mileage out of it.

As has been pointed out elsewhere by others who generally stand on the opposite side of the overall debate from me , this is not a pro-life/pro-choice issue. This death certificate business is now a privacy issue. Because the unborn has no status as a citizen apart from the mother, issuing a death certificate necessitates an enquiry into the medical habits of the mother. It is wholly different from issuing a death certificate for a person who has engaged in the traffic of citizenship. After all, the purpose of a death certificate issued by the state is not to get a warm fuzzy tribute to the fact that "this person existed." It is to serve as notice to all engaged in commerce with said citizen that the citizen is no longer an active member of the community.†

Issuing a death certificate for an individual who was never an active participant in society in their own right is as odd a concept as deciding that we should forthwith issue certificates of death for all the Swiss who die, just because we're so crazy about the Swiss and want to acknowledge THEIR wonderfulness as people. It's bureaucracy for the love of governing and an insane abuse of power. Please bring back the limited-government conservatism I subscribe to, and do away with this clowny facism. Thank you.

** (A chemical pregnancy is one where the female hormones are high enough to register as "pregnant" on an early pregnancy test, but where the egg never implants in the uterus. Almost all women have them. Only those trying very hard to become pregnant and spending hundreds of dollars a month on very early pregnancy testing realise that they've been 'technically' pregnant for 3 or 4 days before their period starts.)

† Yes, I am well aware that we currently issue death certificates for infants. However, once born an infant is an acknowledged legal entity who has participated in society as a citizen. Hence tax deductions, immunisations and hospital bills for the birth. Parents and guardians assume legal responsibility for citizens of a minor status, but this does not negate the citizenry of the child.


I'm somewhat out of practice, not having written anything for several days,and I still don't feel much like writing. But it's really important to me that I take just a few minutes to say something about all of the love I've been very fortunate to experience. When I look at my life and the ways I continue to screw it up I'm always amazed that there are people and animals who have loved and continue to love me.

I know that you're supposed to give love in order to receive love. I never feel that the love I've given is equal to the love I've received. I'm so blessed to be loved.

Things for me are hard right now. I have this raw and aching feeling of battling tides and winds without end. My body is tired. My soul is tireder. It's only the love I have for others and from others that keeps me going at times like this. Such love is not a trivial thing.

There's no way to sum it up with hearts and candy.

11 February, 2007

Kat's Labyrinth

I should have known that if the pain was bad enough to make me cry and whine at length that it wasn't an ordinary day's worth of pain. So of course I ended up back at the hospital on Thursday. 24 oz of barium, 2 CT scans and 5 hours of prodding and poking later we discover that I have--shocking, I know--more kidney stones. So that's where I've been, and that's why I missed Sista's party and my one and only chance to dine with the the 'coma. And you can bet I've been pouting about it, too.

In an effort to help my husband feel as though he's still married to a human being and not that strange mutant brain thing in a tub on Battlestar Galactica, I loaded up on phenergan and vicodin so that we could take in a showing of Pan's Labyrinth.

These are my impressions--sort of a tape-delayed liveblogging.


--These people behind me better quit the chatter when the actual movie starts.

--If that guy kicks my seat one more time I'm going to send him home without a foot. Or I could solve the chatter problem and the kicking problem by shoving his foot in his mouth.

--NBC really wants us to watch The Black Donnellys. Anything is better than Studio 60. Although now I've sat through this "first look" I feel as though I've already seen the whole program. Oh, and John Singleton should sue them for ripping off most of the plot of Four Brothers

--Why is Tom Hanks producing a British Romantic Comedy? He must be really bored.

--Man, I wish I were getting ready to watch 300 now. I could go for some killin'.


--Man, I still read Spanish pretty well. It's a shame that when people actually speak in Spanish they do it so fast.

--I can't believe they felt the need to subtitle this. (The screen reads "Espana, 1944". Helpfully, the subtitle reads "Spain, 1944". I feel slightly spoonfed.)

--Any movie that begins with a child bleeding is not necessarily a feel-good film.

--There's a lot more of the Spanish Civil War and a lot less of the Pan's Labyrinth than I thought there was going to be.

--What is wrong with the world today? Some guy in the movie gets his face bashed in by a crazed military officer and the chatty group behind me laughs. As though watching a boy being beaten to death is really a riot.

--When do we get to Pan's actual labyrinth?


I won't say anymore, because it'll spoil the film for any of you who haven't seen it. I did appreciate it as a well-done story. But once again, we're talking about a film that has been completely mismarketed to American audiences. I understand why the marketing team did this. In this Harry Potter age, people are doubtless going to be far more eager to see happy fairy tale with great special effects than a dark, brooding tale about the Spanish Civil War. It's the same reason that more people buy Thomas Kinkaid paintings than prints of Guernica.

I'm irked, though, because as the author of the Wikipedia entry says "The film is not a Peter-Pan-like fantasy but is a film about the brutality of Franco's fascism. " Good times!

Of course, the poster art, the trailer, several reviews and commercials all emphasise the fantasy element and downplay the brutal torture and war elements. I've read several places where Pan's Labyrinth has been likened to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. This would be so if LWW had featured 10 minutes in Narnia and focused the rest of the time on the bleakness of life in a smoldering, bombed-out London.

I say all of this just to let anyone know who hasn't seen it that yes, it's a good film but no, it's not the forget-your-troubles kind of fantasy the ad campaign promises.

07 February, 2007

LOST Thoughts

Well, we had John Locke, and Rousseau and now tonight we had Edmund Burke.

What's with the Lost writers' fascination with revolutionary philosophers? And when, exactly, will we meet Tom Paine?

Of course, my mind went right to the dark place when we met Mr. Burke. I knew the name "Edmund Burke", yet instead of zooming directly in on the 18th Century Irish Philosopher, I first thought of the 19th century body snatcher. His name was William, though. So I guess we're still on "I'll take philosophers for $500, Alex."

Given the writers' laser focus on philosophers, I'd imagine that the as-yet-unseen "Jacob" is most probably modeled on Jakob Boehme. Then again, maybe not. Boehme's philosophy focuses on the nature of sin, evil and redemption. Those themes are, after all, not very common in the Lost universe.

The word "mittelos" is, as everyone seems to have already pointed out, an anagram for Lost Time. This could fit nicely with what goes on around the island(s), but I recognised the word from my torturous years studying German. I would have translated it as 'poor' or 'destitute', however an online dictionary gives its meaning as 'indigent'. I don't know what to make of that, but I do think it's a potentially interesting twist.

It was a treat to see Calamity Jane (Robin Wiegart), but if I were that lady I'd ask for at least one role where I got to wear lipstick. I've seen her headshots. She cleans up nice.

In another odd association, I need to come to the Internet for clarification. In Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban, there is a man sitting at a table reading A Brief History of Time and stirring his coffee without touching the spoon. Was that the exact same actor guarding the prison and reading A Brief History of Time in tonight's episode? It sure looked like it to me. And yes, I double-checked my DVD of POA. All I can say is that if, indeed, it is the same actor the casting director gets massive props from me for digging that guy up for a massive inside joke.

I do recall fondly a time, however, when there were people on this show besides Jack, Kate and Sawyer. I wonder what it would be like to see them again.

Why I Hate That Stupid Sherrif Dude and Dr. House

This is a post I've been dithering about for some time now. I've wanted very badly to write it because of how central the issues are to my life. But I've been very afraid to write it because of the misperception that is sure to follow. But as I sit here at my desk, tears streaming down my face, I think it's finally time for me to say something.

The Sherrif of Williamson County was arrested for having a bunch of pain pills. He claims they were for his personal use, despite having enough on hand to have taken 17 pills a day. He's now in rehab for drug addiction.

From Matthew Perry to Michael English to Rush Limbaugh to Nicole Ritchie. There is always someone famous who is public about his or her addiction to painkillers.

And thanks to these people I am forced to live 80% of my life in excruciating, debilitating pain. (Yes, I realise that sounds like a drama queen of the first order and I'm sorry for that.) I have two chronic conditions, the overlap of which means that I am generally in pain for one thing or the other. Just to give you an idea, both conditions--severe endometriosis and chronic kidney stone formation--are deemed to cause a pain equal to (the endometriosis) or far worse than (kidney stones) the pain of childbirth.

I have found myself unwittingly in the middle of a large debate in the medical community. Out of fear of board sanctions, most physicians are undertreating chronic pain. That basically means that doctors know their patients are hurting and still refuse to do what is necessary.

The misperception about patients with chronic pain continues. Medical experts agree that most pain patients can successfully use narcotics without consequences. Folks like me who take pain medication for, you know, actual pain do not feel the euphoria associated with the abuse of pain medication. The likelihood of a chronic pain sufferer becoming addicted to their pain medication is somewhere between 3 and 14%. Yet we have to put up with the Dr. House character on TV, a chronic pain sufferer shown as a blithering addict. The last episode of the show I watched had him begging for a spinal morphine injection, being given a placebo and exhibiting relief. Everyone seemed to think that was a wonderful way to prove to the world that the use of pain medication by chronic pain sufferers is an unnecessary weakness.

I would estimate that 75% of my waking life is spent in attempts to manage chronic pain. I have drastically changed my diet and learned self-hypnosis. My husband has learned acupressure techniques. All of these help to a degree, but generally involve my doing nothing more than sitting in a chair or laying on the couch trying to overcome the hurt. (Did I mention that I also take about 30-32 advil a day?)

What does help in my case are opiod pain relievers. Just to give you an idea, I receive 12 Lortab a month. (Remember, the sherrif had enough to take 17 a day....) I save my stronger drugs for times when I absolutely must be able to move without pain. You know what? This makes me angry. But thanks to the well-publicised fools who love to abuse these drugs to get high, I can't even have enough to make it through more than 5 days a month without crippling pain.

Maybe If I Were Gay....

I don't think there's ever been a year in my life where there hasn't been a Super Bowl. And I don't think there's been a year in my life without at least one commercial during the Super Bowl which objectifies women in some way. Those ads have stuck around.

Now, though, after a bit of hue and cry from the gay community the Snickers 'man kiss' ad is being pulled.

"This type of jeering from professional sports figures at the sight of two men kissing fuels the kind of anti-gay bullying that haunts countless gay and lesbian school children on playgrounds all across the country," Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

Yeah, okay. I take your point, Joe. But my first and most libertarian reaction is to say "Speak up and change the channel." With the millions of TV hours in play each year there is bound to be something to offend everyone. I think it's perfectly fine to say 'we don't like this and we aren't watching it and here's why.' Be outraged and then make a case for your outrage. That's a better way to educate people to your point of view, in my opinion. To simply demand that the world constantly bend over backward to adjust to your personal sensibilities is both impractical and childish.

I put up with Fat Monica on Friends, Shallow Hal, Big Momma's House, and countless other anti-fat entertainment options all the time. I can't turn on the television (especially during January) without running into about 9000 weight-loss commercials. What do you think these things do for the treatment of fat school children on playgrounds all across the country? Nothing good, I assure you. Yet I don't insist the ads get pulled.

I can't figure out if I'm jealous at the enormous pull the gay community seems to have right now or slightly irritated. Perhaps both.

Update: Fixed Link.

06 February, 2007

Not The Right Stuff or Houston, We Have A Problem or Space Oddity

There are so many bad titles to use for a post like this that I just couldn't make up my mind.

An astronaut has been charged with attempted murder.

Nowak, a Navy captain and married mother of three, stood in a jail uniform, looking down during most of the hearing. The 43-year-old robotics specialist faces charges including attempted kidnapping, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery.
Police said Nowak drove 900 miles, donned a disguise and was armed with a BB gun and pepper spray when she confronted a woman she believed was a competitor for the affections of Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, an unmarried fellow astronaut.

So can I just ask what the heck they're doing out there in the space program? What happened to long days whipping around in a centrifuge or lying in a mock capsule learning switch sequences? It appears our modern space program has turned into a nerd-version of Dallas. Love Triangles! Secret Disguises! The Sissiest Murder Weapons Ever!!!

Seriously, girl. BB gun and Pepper spray?


Oh my gosh. How did I miss this part?

Nowak raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers in the car so she wouldn't have to stop to go to the bathroom, authorities said. Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.

Can I just say that if you are willing to wet and crap yourself over a man who isn't your husband that you might want to get some kind of professional help?

I'm sorry, I realise that I'm not as fantastic a feminist as others out there, but I'm so ticked off by this on behalf of my gender. What does it say about our chances when someone brilliant enough to become an actual rocket scientist becomes so muddled by a man that she'll strap on a wig and diapers to mace the competition?

The Kind Of Joke That Makes You Question Your Existence

Last night as I was eating my dinner, Quinn kept staring me down. I had a pastry-wrapped chicken dish, and tradition dictates that he and Casey get to eat the pastry. (I've noticed that I've lost weight the dogs have put some on. Not a coincidence, I think.)

He waited somewhat patiently, quivering in anticipation. As soon as I was done I divided the pastry between the two of them. Once it was fully distributed I thought they would go away, but Quinn still sat there insisting that I give him some more.

"Quinn, I can't give you anything else. There's nothing left. We ate it all."

Hubby was watching everything and laughing at me, because there is nothing more persuasive than our dogs when they're begging for food. It's really really bad if you have no food to give them.

"It's the Round Table Dilemma," he told me jokingly.

"What do you mean?" At this point I was really confused.

"It's all gone, Quinn."


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need to isolate the pun genome and eliminate it from future generations.

05 February, 2007

The Power Of Dissent

Via Brittney I read that today's quote is
"The global warming debate is odd in that it appears to be between climate scientists and rightwing pundits." --Clark Stooksbury

I agree that it is odd. I also agree that it is sad. The current Global Warming/Climate Change 'debate' reminds me a lot of the state of the War On Terror Debate circa 2001.

I believed then, and still believe now, that there were good reasons for going into that war. But I also recall that the "debate" was mostly between the dissenters and everyone else. Representatives on both sides of the aisle were caught up in war fever. Like the genteel ladies of Atlanta, hardly a one could wait to strip themselves of their family jewels for the sake of a Noble Cause.

There were a few dissenters here and there saying "quagmire" and "bad idea" and speaking truth to power. The Dissenters would tell you that yes, we had been attacked but was fighting back a good idea? Some dissenters, although I don't agree with them on every point, are still people I respect. None of them are generals or soldiers. But they dissented.

In the case of Global Warming/Climate Change, the right-wing punditry have been forced to assume the mantle of dissentership in the same way. Current science has fallen under the same war fervor as the Congress of 2001. GW/CC is the hip and now attitude. If you as a scientist want the funding, you go along with the current even though it may run counter to your natural instincts. Showing up at a climatologist conference and saying "maybe Man is NOT destroying the planet" is like speed-dating with spinach in your teeth. You will not go home with the girl and you will get laughed at behind your back.

So, like crazy Berkley love-in folk, we on the right are feeling the burden of dissent. We feel your mockery and your patronisation. We fully expect it, too. But we also see the power of dissent and the necessity of speaking truth to power. Although in this case "power" is not the Federal Government, but the claque of go-along-to-get-along climatologists who abjure the scientific method in favour of being well-liked by their peers.

Before one more person patronisingly tells me to 'dust off my Bible', I think this is also where I need to say that I do care deeply about the environment. There is a reason that we have one car and have spent the last 18 years doing everything possible to reduce our carbon footprint. I'm in no way saying that we should take our planet for granted.

But I refuse to be frightened into any course of action. And I also begrudge the hijacking of science by anyone with an agenda--whether that agenda is Creationism or Environmentalism. I see both as betrayals of the true nature of science.

So, yeah. I'm a "right wing pundit". But until the Climatologists start acting like scientists again, I'm going to claim the power of dissent. Feel free to point and laugh.


Via Blake, I found this article. Good stuff from dissenting climatologists. I especially like the part where the man with the Ph.D. in Climatology says
Now, any scientist who dares to question the prevailing wisdom is marginalized and called a sceptic, when in fact they are simply being good scientists. This has reached frightening levels with these scientists now being called climate change denier with all the holocaust connotations of that word. The normal scientific method is effectively being thwarted.

Electric Word, Life, It Means Forever

So have I ever mentioned that I love Prince? Probably not, because he's a guilty pleasure of mine. But I swear to you now, on a stack of purple magazines that as a person who graduated High School in 1988 that I am duty-bound by my times to love the man's music. And that half-time show, complete with the Aunt Jemima headscarf (!), Austin Powers Shadow Pervery (!!) and homage to Tina (!!!) was the same electric thrill I once enjoyed when Gilmore, the great Creator, W.C. Handy and John Phillip Sousa all came to town on the very same historic day.

The minute I heard him start in with "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered today..." I was driving my Chevette to the ice cream parlour and telling myself that it didn't matter if he was a crappy boyfriend because I had my whole life ahead of me and I was gonna be somebody, baby.

Then he started into "Hey! Look me over! Tell me, do u like what u see?" and I was dancing happily in my basement enjoying a night alone with my record player and a rich fantasy life where I could actually dance and sing without looking like an epileptic elephant.

He also wrote my favourite "Christian" song. I don't know if he meant I Would Die 4 U to actually be about Christianity, but at a time in my life when hymns seemed dry and choruses repetitively dull, this lyric
Im not your lover
Im not your friend
I am something that youll never comprehend

No need 2 worry
No need 2 cry
Im your messiah and youre the reason why

cuz u - I would die 4 u, yeah

drove home the point about my central faith.

And yes, in this life things are much harder than the afterworld. But I always like the thought that I all have to do is punch a higher floor and dance a little bit to feel better about it.

P.S. Don't tell my mother. She still hates Prince.

04 February, 2007

It's Raining (for) Men

Yeah, okay. I wanted to have this post be about the shower, but I'm tired of the word "shower" so the title, albeit both broadly reaching and subtly gay, is my attempt at cleverness. Moving right along...

It is a known fact (among those who care) that I hate HATE hate showers. I will go to them if they are for people I really like. Or coworkers. Yesterday's shower was of the non-traditional variety. Somehow they managed to capture the best about showers (i.e. cake) while avoiding the worst (i.e. games involving the playing of games). And I had a really good time, until just now when I saw the pictures. Ugh. I was formerly proud have having lost 36 lbs (now 39). Seeing the pictures makes me realise that, like a 1000 clowns at the bottom of the ocean, is only a good start.

Things Most Showers Have That I Hate Which Were Not At This Shower (Besides Games):

1. People talking endlessly about their own horrible pregnancies, deliveries and the malformation of babies of friends of theirs. Just because you brought the poor woman some diapers doesn't mean she should have to hear about your cousin Julie's delivery-room nightmare.

2. Vegetable trays with that "dip" which is really a runny dressing and won't stay on your veggies. You are then left with a mouthful of carrot that tastes exactly like carrot. Ugh.

3. Coworkers of the honoree whom you've never met before but seem boorish and make you understand exactly why the honoree hates her job.

4. Some grown person wearing a baby bonnet around in an attempt to bring levity to the torture that is the shower experience.

5. One really elderly person who can't hear what's going on, doesn't remember or care about any of the people she was introduced to and whom you hate because she gets to be exempt from The Dreaded Games by (probably feigning) being asleep.

Things This Shower Had That I Loved Which Were Not At Other Showers I've Been To:

1. Barbecue

2. Aunt B.'s discussion of Chicagoy and what that would entail.

3. A conversation about the Serial Killer Grudge Match between Illinois and Indiana. They have Gacy, we had Manson. Who wins?

4. My husband

5. Lots of people I really enjoyed talking to

See, this is how you should do a shower. I've decided that should I ever fall pregnant, I'd like a co-ed shower. Lydia suggested throwing me a poker tournament shower. I think that'd be ideal because you could send out invitations which say "He poked her, so we're playing poker." It'd be funny. Unless we were adopting. Then it'd just be weird.

Anyway, I loved seeing everyone again and I'm happy for the Sarcastros: Mama, Papa and baby Sergio.

03 February, 2007

I Would Like Some Cheese

to go with my whine. (Warning: No-Delete stream of consciousness therapy writing ahead. Sorry.)

No, seriously, I would like some cheese because eating cheese cheers me up and I'm in definite need of upcheering. Which I shouldn't even be writing about, since I don't like to use my blog as a platform of my minor woes. Yet here I am, platforming away.

This weekend is chockabloc with parties, which just doesn't seem right for February. This is not a month for parties. This is a month for staying at home and licking your wounds from Christmas while girding your loins for spring. This is not a month for punch and cookies and 2-litres of soda and cheeseball. Okay, scratch that. Any time is a good time for cheeseball.

My dog is as much of a whiner today as I am. Since he is a dog, however, actual whining comprises about 1/3rd of his vocabulary. This means that he throws his fits in unique ways. Right now he's over in the corner knocking pieces of kibble out of his dish in some form of protest. Exactly what he is upset about is lost on me. In a couple hours I imagine he'll be upset about having to eat his food off the floor, because that's what's gonna happen. I am NOT picking up his temper food.

A new burrito place opened in Providence/Mt. Juliet this Thursday. It's sort of indistinguishable from Qdoba and/or Baja Fresh, but I embrace it since it's not the kajillionth steak house within a 5 mile radius of Villa Gorilla. (That's the cute nickname I've given our house in honour of both Warren Zevon and monkeys, both of whom I love. Only Warren is dead. Not all monkeys are dead. ) Anyway, back to the burrito joint. Or "Salsarita's", as it says on the door, the napkins and the cups. They have these table tents scattered throughout the restaurant with this slogan:
Let us Stuff your Burrito. Then tell us to make it Wet.

I kid you not. Who knew that quasi-Mexican fast food joints were into soft porn advertisements? I swear it's like calling a 900-number.

When we went last night for dinner--yes, they stuffed my burrito and made it wet--we were behind one of Hubby's cycling buddies. I always have to be reintroduced to these men in public because they look different in regular clothes than they do in spandex. Yet I ALWAYS want to say "I've seen the outline of your junk", because if they've worn spandex in my presence I have. Not that I intentionally look. I don't. Yet some of these men seem to be kind of too proud of the whole thing. Anyway, we were behind this (fully dresed) man and his family. His daughter told us she was learning about bats in school. Of course I start going on and on about how I love bats and how the dog-faced bat is totally adorable. Then I realised once again that I am a wierdo who should never leave the house.

Which makes me question why I am going to a baby shower today. Of course there will be other wierdos there. In fact this is kind of the shower for the king of all wierdos, but still. it involves being out in public, which means I am bound to say something both stupid and socially awkward.

Speaking of stupid and socially awkward, how mad am I at my daily comic strip? My husband keeps insisting that it's just a comic strip and I should let it go. But I can't. I'm a writer who worked as the contracts manager for a publishing/gift firm for about two years. I know the drill. You have to:
--get an agent
--have your agent submit your work to the publisher's agent (usually an editor)
--let your agent dicker over the contract with someone like me for weeks on end
--get a check for around $2,500-$5,000

The whole process can take an author anywhere from 6 months to a year. Yet my comic strip plays into the huge publishing myth that hovers around professional writing. There's always someone out there who thinks they're the next million-dollar author. The fantasy is that you complete a book, send it to the publisher and get a letter back a week later saying how perfect the book is and enclosing a check for $25,000. Life doesn't work like that. I hate it when people advance that myth because it means that authors--already an introverted, magical-thinking class of people--feel twice the rejection and feel shamed at going through the real process of agent-hunting, legalese-dickering and advance checks that won't pay for 2 months' living expenses.

Well, okay, I guess I feel better. Thank you for letting me bang out my therapy right here on the blog.

02 February, 2007

Al Gore, Climate Change, Dynamite and Dollars. Lots of Dollars.

Glen's post reminded me that I wanted to post on Al Gore's Nobel nomination, too.

I cannot think of a more perfect nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize than Al "The Rest Of You Are Ruining My Planet" Gore. As I'm sure most people are by now aware, this prize is given in honour of Alfred Nobel. Nobel, a scientist, left the bulk of his fortune to be used in the giving of these prizes. He made that fortune by inventing dynamite.


You know, the stuff used right here in Tennessee to tear down mountains so that roads can carry emissions-belching cars in a straighter line? The stuff used to make railroads that criss-crossed the world. Yeah. That stuff.

Basically, Nobel invented a way to blow stuff up easier, kill lots of people quicker and generally cause havoc. He then felt bad about it. So bad that he gave away all the money he made from dynamite's invention to the betterment of the world. After he died and couldn't enjoy it anymore, of course.

This dovetails perfectly with Al Gore and his "environmentalism" in so many beautiful ways. Like Nobel, Gore is excited about the wealth to be found in tailoring the world to his personal liking.

the commercial venture that excites Gore most these days is Generation Investment Management, his global fund. As governments begin imposing carbon caps on businesses, Gore says, free markets will reward companies that practice environmental sustainability. The result: reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. "As soon as business leaders get global warming or the environment at large," he says, "they start seeing profit opportunities all over the place. There is so much low-hanging fruit right now, it's just ridiculous." ...
Though Generation invests in a wide range of companies, Gore and his team are especially bullish on the energy sector. We're on the verge of "a real gold rush" in renewables, conservation, and software for identifying and eliminating waste, he says. "The whole economy is going to shift into a much more granular analysis of which matter is used for what, which streams of energy are used for what. Where does it come from? Where does it go? Why are we now wasting more than 90 percent of it?" Gore shakes his head. "The investments in doing it right are not costs - they're profits."

I have absolutely nothing against capitalism. I love it. I think the true earthly salvation for humans lies in one form of capitalism or another. What I do rail against is the current media depictions of Gore as some sort of genial saint concerned only for the welfare of Mother Gaia, angry at what the rest of us breathing, eating and farting humans have done to her.

Al Gore has done nothing more than find his brand. The brand of Al Gore 3.0. He is no longer the Fortunate Son waiting in the wings for his turn to run the free world. He is no longer the wigged-out frustrated lumberjack finding himself on the campus of MTSU. He is now Mr. Gaia, pimping that love-of-earth for all the dollars he can wring out of the thing. You do know that the Nobel Peace Prize is accompanied by a cash award, right?

Like Nobel, Gore is content to pursue wealth and feelgoodism for the upper classes while ignoring the strife his methods cause to those on the lower economic rungs of society. Do you think Nobel truly cared about the thousands of Chinese who died handling dynamite to build the railroad? Do you think Gore truly cares about the many poor people in America who are kept out of better, higher paying jobs because they cannot afford a car which passes emissions tests?

I have no doubt that Gore has found an inner peace for himself as he pursues this new avenue to increased fame and wealth. Yet somehow I wonder if he cares who gets blown up in the way...

Oh well. It's Nobel's prize. May as well give it to a like-minded fellow.

Little Miss Sunshine

Yes, Abigail Breslin's character pretty much looked the way I looked when I was 8. Poochy tummy and all. Since I was a little girl into the theatre (as opposed to beauty pageants) I can relate wholeheartedly to Olive Hoover. There's nothing like wanting to perform but not being "right" for it. Showing up for auditions in a roomful of stick-thin blondes while being round-bodied and four-eyed was certainly character-building. The way I see it is you have two choices; either make your peace with it and be at home with yourself or become crippled with self-loathing. I picked option A, as did Olive Hoover.

Still, I hated this movie. H-A-T-E-D it.

The pageant talent routine is a moment of gold, but I'm ticked at having to sit through the rest of the shrill, unlikeable movie to get there. I do wonder what's wrong with me because everyone else in the world seems to think LMS is the second-coming of movies.

When an ad campaign tells me that a movie is funny, I sort of expect to laugh. Instead I spent most of this movie cringing with discomfort. At one point a character yells "I f-----g hate all you people." I wholeheartedly agree. Wallowing in misery for 85 minutes only to have 4 minutes of comic payoff is not a fun experience for me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat some ice cream.