Monday, October 31, 2005

Listen Up, Blues Fans

Check this out.* Yes, more free publicity for my friends. *Warning, this sucks to try to listen to on dial-up, but is worth it, nevertheless.

Demonization and Domestication

[Edited to add a warning about a disturbing bunny incident. If disturbing bunny incidents bother you, skip on to something else.] The Professor's blonde colleague is a hoot and loves my dog, just to admit my bias towards her up front. At dinner on Saturday, she was talking about her work, which involves interpreting the ways medieval Japanese Buddhist culture incorporates non-Buddhist deities. And she was talking about how it's clear that the deities are at first demonized--all of their worst traits are foregrounded--and then domesticated--all of their best traits are foregrounded and their worst traits downplayed--before they are wholly integrated into the medieval Japanese Buddhist world-view. Obviously, I know nothing about this, so I don't know if the Japanese Buddhist part of it is right. But I've been thinking a lot all weekend about this "demonization and domestication" shit, because here, folks, is some wisdom. **** The Professor just sent me an email which reads, in part, "The future will not always resemble the past." She says that I can't always know what people are thinking, "So stop trying. Continue forward on your adventure." This is why I love the Professor: this is how the conversation about my being too judgmental continues, with her sitting at my personal crossroads, laying out for me my two choices. Get tangled up in trying to anticipate what other people want from me, which, of course, I can never accurately guess, or move forward. For a mere mortal, she does a passable impression of Legba when the situation calls for it. **** I was thinking about sitting in the bathroom of our house in Winston-Salem, perched on the edge of the tub listening to my father telling me that the Butcher had been arrested. I was so pissed off I got in my car and drove home to kick his ass. When I got there, of course, he was already out of jail and there was this air around the house like "well, the worst thing that can happen has happened and now we will just deal with it." When they just suspected him of dealing drugs, he was the thing they were afraid of. Once they knew, they could let him back into their hearts. Demonization and domestication. **** The Professor says "The future will not always resemble the past." I can't quite bring myself to believe this. **** The recalcitrant brother and I have a strained relationship. I think that's the best way to put it. He doesn't know what to do with me. I don't know what to do with him. Once, he ran over a nest of rabbits with the lawn mower. It was an accident and the only time I can remember seeing him cry. He ran in the house and found me and begged me to do something. I went outside, saw the baby rabbits scattered around the side yard, legs and ears detatched, heard them whimpering, and went to the garage and got the shovel. I had this idea that I could just bash their heads in and give them a relatively painless death, like the boys at the stockyards who stand above the chute, sledgehammer poised, to do in the cows that survive that far. It didn't work, though. I don't know if I wasn't strong enough or if the ground was too uneven, but all I was doing was hurting them worse. I remember them screaming, but I don't think that really happened. In the end, I took the sharp edge of the shovel, put it against each bunny's neck one by one, and stood on it, figuring that decapitation meant death, which meant an end to suffering. I haven't thought about that in a long time, but last night, I dreamed about Rex L. Camino's dog eating bunnies in Rex's side yard while I was drowning in a pond behind his house. I used to dream I was drowning all the time, when I still lived in Illinois, that I'd be sitting in a chair or laying in my bed as the water rose around me and for a while, the chair or the bed and I would float up, but then, eventually, we'd settle back down on the floor, completely submerged in the darkness, and just as I was breathing that muddy water in (in my dreams, I'm always drowning in the Mississippi river, even if the river is just a pond in Camino's back yard), I'd wake up gasping for breath. That's how I woke up last night, startled out of drowning. **** I was telling Sarcastro this morning that many people don't really want to be active participants in life. They want to sit back and let shit happen and react to it or bitch about it, or whatever. I can tell him that, because I know it's true, because that's how the people I love work. Not that I blame them. Shoot, I'd love to do it too, if it didn't make me so desperately unhappy, because it's sure easier. But it's imperative that I learn to live in the world, to be happy, and to be lucky. Not only for my own welfare--though, obviously, that's first--but for the welfare of the people I love. There are so many ways that stupid crap echoes through our family. But I have this idea that good things could work that way, too. That someone could dare to be happy and open and alive, even if she wasn't sure exactly what that might entail, and that those things, too, might echo through the family. **** So, I think it's not true that the future will not resemble the past. What else could it resemble? But the future will not be identical to the past, because it also has to resemble the present, which, as the Professor keeps reminding me, can be made to suit us. **** I'm sure this was going somewhere, but I can't quite remember where. Still, I'm feeling kind of good about things and so I think I'll just end here in this happy place.

Conservatives, Make Ready Your Fainting Couches

I agree with Andrew Sullivan that, in the end, looking at the results of someone's judicial decisions instead of the reasoning that got him to that decision really is utterly pointless. As old Sully puts it, "What matters is not the result of someone's decisions, but the reasoning that led to them." Now, of course, I don't completely agree with this. Obviously, the results matter. But look at this stuff from the American Progress Action Fund. "Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade"; "Alito would allow race-based discrimination"; etc. It's clear that they're basing this on the position he ended up holding. Fine, but what I need to know is how he got to that position. There's a big difference between "Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade and I know it because he doesn't rule pro-abortion every chance he gets" and "Alito would overturn Roe v. Wade because, as you can see from the wording of this ruling, he doesn't think there's any constitutional right to privacy." One is alarmist hand-wringing and the other is a reason that people can rally behind. Maybe it's the weather, but I'm just disgruntled with the Democratic party today. They just assume that they can continue to rally the Left behind them because the alternative sucks so much. And, I guess that the disgusting truth is that they can. But I wish they'd treat me like a god-damned grown up and give me some well-reasoned reasons to dislike a guy I'm clearly ready to dislike, rather than hauling out my issues like little flags they wave to rally the troops behind.

I Reject Constructive Criticism

So, this weekend both the Professor and the Butcher told me I was too judgmental, that I am unforgiving of the ways in which the people around me aren't perfect. The Professor even threatened to beat me up about it. And since, unlike me, the Professor doesn't go around letting her mouth write checks her ass can't cash, I think she's serious. I'm kind of shook by it, I've got to tell you. Especially because, when I thought about it this morning on my walk with the dog, I came up with a lot of good reasons why I'm that way, but no good arguments that I wasn't. The Butcher says, "I just don't know why you care. It doesn't affect you. Can't you tell when things don't affect you?" No, jackass, I can't. See, that's what I mean! Right there. The Butcher is offering me constructive criticism and I'm getting angry and defensive. Anyway, this should probably go some place meaningful, but I've got nothing. If the two people you're closest to in the world tell you that you've got to do things differently, then you've probably got to do things differently. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A New and Better Afghan

So, I was over at the Professor's yesterday working on W.'s afghan while she cleaned. "How tall is your cute boy?" I asked. "6'2" " She said. "Perfect," I said, "I'm almost done with W.'s afghan and I want someone the right height to try it out." "I kind of had the feeling that W. was conservative." "Well, yeah, me too." "Then you need more blue." "More blue?" "I don't know, but I'm just guessing that most conservative men don't want a purple afghan." "Purple? No, it's blue and red. See, it's an artistic statement about the ways that people of different political backgrounds can bond over their shared love of afghans..." But folks, blue and red make purple. Prince would love that fucker. So, off I went to Walmart this morning to pick up panty hose, pepper spray, and some darker blue yarn to try to fix things. Would you believe that Walmart doesn't carry pepper spray? I can buy something that will make me smell like deer piss, but I can't buy some god damn pepper spray. Anyway, I got to the yarn aisle and I was trying to find a dark enough blue to redeem this afghan in the eyes of my more conservative readers, when there, way down low, I saw the most beautiful green. Folks, I'm talking the kind of dark woodsy green you want to put right against your skin even before it's crocheted into anything. A dark, manly, woodsy green. And so then, I knew, the purple afghan is going to have to go to someone who likes to kiss boys--preferably someone who knows the joys of running your fingers lightly over a nice scruffy face. And W. will have an afghan with this amazing green. So, the purple afghan is going on hiatus and I'm starting W.'s today. It's going to be beautiful, in a manly conservative way. I promise.

Dinner with the Socialists

"Don't insult yourself by calling yourself a liberal." "No, my god, you're much too interesting for that." "You're at least a radical." "She's a socialist, just like the rest of us." Last night, I had a long, leisurely dinner with the Professor, her blonde colleague, and two old, old-school socialists from Chicago. It was awesome. I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but I don't consider myself very leftist. I think that "the individual" is kind of a bullshit concept designed to make us feel okay about neglecting our obligations to each other and I believe that a person's happiness and well-being are of prime concern to the community because it directly affects the well-being of the community and that the community's well-being is of prime concern to each person because the community's well-being affects us. You might think this would make me a socialist, except that I think that something very interesting and important happens to ideas as they play out on larger and larger scales--they tend to work the opposite of how they do on the small scale. So, I think it's stupid for you and I to run around thinking of ourselves as individuals with no reciprocal obligations to anyone else and to not keep those relationships and obligations at the forefront of our political thought. But I don't want to live in a socialist country (well, except for the healthcare). I want my government to think of me as an individual with individual rights that need to be protected both from other yahoos and from the government itself. I think it's important to maintain that tension between the needs of the group and the rights of the "individual." I also think that what we're kind of trying to maintain here in the U.S. is the only way to work it. The most powerful body--the government--must protect the rights of the least powerful--the "individual" (a being so powerless that, in my worldview, it doesn't even exist). And the less powerful--the people--must invest in maintaining the more powerful--the community. And the tension between all those things must be sustained in order to keep things healthy. I don't think this is such a radical position. And when you're having dinner with people who belong to the socialist party, it's really not very radical. It puts you left of the Democrats, but shoot, it's hard not to be left of the Democrats. But it's not very far left. So, I'm tickled to be reminded of that, because Christ, sometimes when I'm reading y'all's reactions to the shit I write, I feel like some of you think I'm writing to you from way out in left field. It's nice to be reminded that there's a lot further left one might go. If you think I'm a radical, you should have been at dinner.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Red Lobster Concluded

So, we went to Red Lobster. I begged the Professor to come along so that I would have some company, but she was off to the drag show* and couldn't. Luckily, the Red-Headed Kid came along, because he wisely conconcted this plan where he and I both ordered dinners that came with popcorn shrimp and neither of us ate our popcorn shrimp. So--y'all I have to interrupt here to just point out that what I am about to tell you is so fucking brilliant that I am a little in awe of the Red-Headed Kid--as the Butcher was waiting for them to bring him out his next rounds of shrimp, we fed him our shrimp. Thus helping to fill him up in a timely manner. But let me tell y'all something else. W. is fucking right. The Red-Headed Kid and I paid $11.99** for a humongous amount of food, most of which neither of us ate, both because of the Red-Headed Kid's awesome plan, and because it was just too much food. I paid $15.99 for the Butcher to get "neverending" shrimp, which, because they brought it out to him so slowly, ended up being a lot less food than what we got. Still, we had to "encourage" the Butcher to be done before he felt like he'd gotten all the shrimp he could eat. The Red-Headed Kid did this by starting to smoke. I did this by first almost falling asleep at the table*** and then pointing out that, eventually, the Red-Headed Kid and I were going to realize that the eleven year age-gap and the Shill's rule**** mean nothing in the face of sitting through our fertile years at Red Lobster, and we'd have to start fucking on a nearby table. Folks, the Red-Headed Kid is terrified of women, as the Professor can attest. The fact that he would explain to the Butcher that he would eventually feel compelled to father my children was both hilarious and deeply touching (and a mite creepy, as he is so young). Anyway, we would have been there longer, watching the Butcher eat shrimp, but he was increasingly pissed off that they bring you big shrimp at first and then progressively smaller shrimp as the evening goes on. He was spouting out some numbers like "They started with 10-15s and now I'm eating 15-20s." I don't know what that means, but to a Butcher, apparently, it's a grave insult. And though we had not reached the limit to how many shrimp a man can eat, we had, apparently, reached the limit to how many grave insults he can stand. And so, finally, we got to come home. -------------- *Yes, October has been the month of me missing out on all the fun shit the Professor has been up to. Let's hope November is different. **Coincidently the amount now left in my savings after this little extravagance. ***This walking home shit is nice, but I haven't quite adjusted. And I'm going to have to get pepper spray if I'm going to continue to do it after the time change. And, strange men in cars of Nashville, you may be nice. I don't know. But listen, if you don't know me, don't ask me if I need a ride. I don't find it nice, I find it disturbing. Hell, even if I'm laying by the side of the road, almost dead from that last hill, just call an ambulance. If I don't know you, don't talk to me on my walk. ****Is it ridiculous for you to be with someone? Take your age, divide it by two, and add seven. That's the youngest you can go without looking like a damn fool. I'm thirty one, so the youngest I can go, according to the Shill's rule*****, is... fuck, math... um, twenty-two and a half? And the Redheaded Kid is twenty. If I knew how to do math, I could figure out how long we'd have to sit at Red Lobster waiting on the Butcher before we could put our plan into action, but I don't and I'm no longer at Red Lobster, so I don't need to. *****Have I ever footnoted a footnote before? Has anyone? Anyway, I should point out that I don't know if the Shill came up with this rule, but I heard it from her, so I attribute it to her. If you are actually the creator of said rule, you have a PR problem.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Red Lobster

So, the Butcher turns twenty-five on Sunday. It's also all-you-can-eat shrimp time at Red Lobster. Last year, he could eat 140 shrimp over the course of three hours. If you think going to Red Lobster is boring, try sitting in the Red Lobster for three hours as the Butcher and your waitress engage in an epic battle. She's delivering his shrimp as slowly as possible, hoping he'll get bored and go home. He's eating them as quickly as possible, in an effort to bring out the next batch. You're sitting there wondering if the other patrons--some of whom are surely crackheads--might stab you in the neck and put you out of your misery. We have been going to Red Lobster for as long as I can remember. It is, as far as our family is concerned, a fancy restaurant for special occasions. Every birthday of everyone in our family was celebrated at Red Lobster. Each wedding anniversary, end of school, end of probation--all ended up at Red Lobster. For my readers who are not from the U.S. or who have somehow managed to get through life without going to Red Lobster, let me tell you what it's like. Say you live your whole life with only regular 8x10 notebook paper with which to wipe your ass. But let us also say that on special occasions, like your birthday, you were given a roll of paper towel. One day you grow up and, though you cannot afford for three nubile virgins to wipe your ass with their bare hands, you can at least afford toilet paper. We can afford toilet paper, at this point. We're eating at the restaurant equivalent of paper towel. It'll do in a pinch, but why he's choosing it, I just don't know.

The Big Nashville Blogger Meet-Up

There's this joke going around that now at least ten people have either told me or forwarded me, because they think I'll find it funny. It goes something like this:

One of Bush's aids is briefing him on the events of the last twenty-four hours and he's going down the list of casualties and he said, "...and, Sir, four Brazilian soldiers were also killed." And, startlingly, the President starts to cry. The aid is kind of taken aback, but goes over to comfort him. The President looks up at him woefully and asks "My god, how many is a brazilian?"

Which, I guess, is funny. Unless you're the girl trying to come up with two dollars in change to pay her bar tab who finally has to be like, "Well, fuck, that looks like a dollar, but I'd better have Sarcastro count it." Already, I owe Sarcastro approximately eleventy-seven dollars, or whatever that equals in U.S. money. And, at this rate, by tomorrow, I'll owe him eleventy-eight. I don't find jokes about unfamiliarity with numbers funny, because they hit too close to home.

Anyway, there was another big blogger meetup last night and I went and had an awesome time. Paul Chenoweth is very cool to talk to and I got to hear all about his plans for taking over the world, one computer literate teacher at a time.

That Monroe dude from The Monroe Doctrine had the funniest line of the night when, upon realizing who I was, blurted out, basically "My god, you don't seem like misguided psycho bitch,"* and then got all embarrassed and apologized profusely.

Blake and I talked a little bit about having a blogger meet-up involving guns. Blake seems to think this would be a good idea, even though I will be there.

And, there's a guy in Nashville with an ultimate fighting blog and he was so nice and answered all of my questions about ultimate fighting and, I think, he's a dude that could teach a girl how to kick someone in the face. So, that's cool. I'm going to have to track down his blog and link to it, the next time I do a big update.

Bob Krumm was there briefly and, my god, he's hot in a kind of Republicanny way. Bob, redo your blog photo. Don't rest solely on your conservative ideas; rise to power on the strength of your personal charm and good looks. It worked for Clinton. But you've got to start with a blog photo that conveys said assets.

Mr. Roboto was our host, I think**. At least, he was doing all of the host-y things. Perhaps, Mr. Krumm, you need to keep Mr. Roboto in your back pocket to organize all your political gatherings, because, as a host as well as a person, Roboto rocks.

Brittney was there and looking very birthday girly, as well as Tim Morgan--the man responsible for identifying my remains, should I die while walking the dog and wearing his t-shirt.

Chris and Amanda were there and I told them that, should group marriage ever become legal, they are my first choice for spouses... spouse-couple... whatever the term will be.

I got to meet Pink Kitty, who looked familiar, but I forgot to ask her if we knew each other in some other life. And I was a little star-struck by meeting the famous Busy Mom.

And the Rug Designer was there, with her husband. I really regret not talking to her more. She and her husband came in the room like Hera and Zeus*** all regal and self-possessed. I have made a mental note to invite the Rug Designer to lunch and now, I'm making a real note, right here.

But the most awesome surprise of the evening was that Huck was there! And he was nice and funny and smart and, unlike almost every other guy in the room, not conservative and not a little put out with me for lumping them in with true fucktards. Hurray for Huck. I also got to meet his wife and his... three? eight? ... some amount of sleeping children.

So, everyone else was nice and charming and fun and I love them all, in a purely blogtonic way.

How was I?

Me: Sarcastro, I'm totally going to fight you.

Sarcastro: You'll lose.

Me: Well, duh, I don't care. I'm totally going to fight you.

Sarcastro: Great. If I win, I look like a jackass for beating up a girl. If I lose, I look like a pussy.

Me: I'm just a genius that way.

Some random Nashville blogger: Hi, I'm so and so.

Me: I'm totally going to fight Sarcastro.

Some random Nashville blogger: Not Roger Abramson?

Me: Oh, yeah, him too.

Sarcastro, from across the room: My god, woman, are you still talking about fighting me?

So, you know, I was my same old self--amusing to me, probably not so much to the rest of the world.

[Edited to add: Hey, Sarcastro has pictures! Go check his site for the illustrated version of the night's events.]

*This was not it exactly, obviously, but along those lines.

** Isn't that how it worked? Roboto was the host and Rex Hammock was the bankroll? I think so, and so, I say, thanks to both of you.

*** Well, you know, if Hera and Zeus got along.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Random Thoughts

Overheard on the Internet'd you link to Tiny Cat Pants? Do you know [B.] or just found it through internet randomness? (I don't actually know [B.], but I've met the butcher on several occasions) [emphasis mine]
Okay, god damn it. Is there anyone the Butcher doesn't know? Now he's meeting my readers and his fame is spreading to LiveJournal?! I ask you all to think very carefully and answer me honestly. Do I have even one reader who has not met the Butcher? He's the guy in the "Hugs, Not Drugs" t-shirt befriending everyone in Middle Tennessee, apparently. Also Overheard on the Internet Pandagon is reporting that Radar is reporting (It's like Telephone, but on the Internet) that Karl Rove's mistress is dumping him for someone named Rhett Hard. The only thing that could be better than the mere existence of Rhett Hard is if ole Kleinheider got him to guest blog over at Hard Right. Okay, maybe that's only funny to me. Regrets, I've Had a Few Yes, it's true. A bunch of folks felt that my accusation of fucktardary was directed specifically at them. And yes, it's true, I'm going to eat dinner this very evening with some of those folks. And the folks who aren't looking to kick my ass? I promised them I'd whisper naughty words in their ears. If everyone holds me to my overblown rhetoric, it's going to be an interesting evening.

The Butcher Dodges a Bullet

Whew, color me relieved. Cancer is no way to go.

The Butcher's Brilliant Pick for the Supreme Court

Fred Dalton Thompson. Yes. Fred Dalton Thompson. I've got a few promises I've made to myself. One is that the moment Ted Nugent becomes president of the NRA, I will join that organization. Today, I have another one. If Bush nominates Thompson, I will vote Republican for the rest of my life, and I will devote substantial time to singing the praises of GWB.

Short Notes to Various Folks

Dear White Sox, Congratulations. That was awesome. Because of my continuing war with the Cubs, I'm extra delighted. B. **** Dear Butcher, There's no gas in my car and the front passenger seat is covered in grocery bags. I'm sure there's some rational explanation for both of those things. But I can't imagine what. Also, your My Morning Jacket CD sounds like elevator music. Sorry, but there it is. B. **** Dear Bob Krumm, Yes, I would be pissed off if my obstetrician waited until I needed an abortion to spring that crap on me. I agree with Ivy. I think and will continue to think that it's strange that people would get into lines of work where they might be regularly called on to do things that offend their moral principles, but that's their choice and, if there's some kind of work-around, fine. But what offends me about every single one of these stories that I've heard is the kind of "gotcha" factor. It's not until the woman gets to the window to get prescription filled that she suddenly discovers in humiliating fashion that, because she's doing something the pharmacist finds immoral, she's not going to get her medicine. That, for me, is the real problem. It's not that the pharmacist doesn't feel comfortable filling the prescription that pisses me off. It's that there's no way for a woman in a crisis situation to know that without testing every individual pharmacist. Like Ivy suggests, can't there be something posted? B. **** Dear, I hate your new look. B. **** Dear South Park, I love you. Poor Butters in the basement, though. That makes me sad. B. **** Dear Mrs. Wigglebottom, It takes real skills to get yourself stuck to a Dead End sign. Sorry it took me so long to untangle you, because I was laughing so hard. B.

The Oxford American Music Issue

Every year the Oxford American puts out its annual music issue. Well, except when they aren't publishing at all, which is frequently, but what can you do? This year's has been out for a while, but I finally got my hands on it. It's worth buying, if you see it, for three reasons. One and two--The CD. Every year they include a great CD of Southern music. This year's is not their best. (Last year's was amazing--Esther Phillips, you are my queen.) But every year there's something that makes you stop dead in your tracks. This year I'd say there are two moments. One is Buddy Holly's "Dearest," which has to be the sweetest little song ever. The other comes in the middle of Sammi Smith's "This Room for Rent," when Smith delivers "There's the door that he walked through when he finally found the nerve to say all the things she would have sworn he'd never say" that makes you just want to curl up and cry for that girl. (There's also an awesome version of "Piece of My Heart" by Aretha Franklin's sister, Erma, which has to be heard to be believed.) And you should get it for Tom Piazza's amazing obituary of Jimmy Martin. I'll admit right up front that I'm biased. Tom Piazza is one of my favorite people on the planet--an amazing writer and a kindhearted man with a voracious curiosity (my favorite trait in just about anyone). But biases aside, he really gets Jimmy Martin in a way I think few people do. Tom says about Martin, "He was incapable of the kinds of dissembling, duplicity, politeness, and homogenization that make for a smooth careeer in today's Gentleman's Business of country music, where every outlaw has his own hairdresser. He did everything to the hilt, whether it was telling a joke, hunting, eating, feeling sorry for himself, or playing music. Above all, playing music. He had a kind of contempt for half-measures and timid souls, and his first project would be to try to find out how steady you were on your feet." The rest of it is just as good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Suicide Saves Us Money (or I read Salon so you don't have to)

In a breathtakingly brilliant move, the VA is sending letters to mentally traumatized veterans telling them that their benefits are going to be under review, again. Ron Nesler, for instance, received
a letter from the V.A. saying that his file was one of those in its review. He said the letter left him shocked, angry and afraid. The letter warns that "confirmation" of his mental wounds "had not been established" and that his file at the V.A. "does not establish that the event described by you occurred nor does the evidence in the file establish that you were present when a stressful event occurred." (The V.A. recently determined, again, that Nesler's claims are legitimate.)
Nesler then correctly predicted "It is my educated opinion that [the V.A.] will kill some people with this. They will either kill themselves or die from stroke." And look here:
On Oct. 8, Greg Morris, 57, was found by his wife, Ginger, in their home in Chama, N.M., an old mining town of 1,250 in the Rocky Mountains. Lying at Morris' side were a gun and his Purple Heart medal. For years, Morris had been receiving monthly V.A. benefits in compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. Next to his gun and Purple Heart was a folder of information on how the V.A. planned to review veterans who received PTSD checks to make sure those veterans really deserved the money.
Really, it's just like that liberal hell-hole,, to not see this for the genius it is. Reviewing people's claims of PTSD costs money. A lot of money. And if it turns out that Barack Obama is right and the problem is not that there are too many fakers, but too few legitimately disturbed people receiving the benefits they were promised, that's going to cost us more money, money we can ill-afford when there are places like Syria to invade. But, if the VA sends out 72,000 letters at a good bulk mail rate, that are worded sternly enough to really scare the bejeezus out of the most mentally disturbed of the group, chances are that some of them, the very veterans most likely to need full benefits, will kill themselves, thus saving the taxpayers and all of society from a great burden. Who can argue with that?

Nashville is Talking Utter Lunacy

[I know I have a bunch of readers who don't live in middle Tennessee and I'm sorry you have to sit through this shit again, but that's just the way it goes. If upsetting things upset you, go down and contemplate the lovely afghan I'm making W., in part because he's now embarrassed that I'm making it for him.] Middle Tennessee, you piss me off. This would not normally be a problem, except this morning, I snapped at the dog. Once you have me irrationally yelling at my dog before dawn, we need to have a little talk. Here is what I'd rather be screaming at you: 1. Each and every one of you knows someone who's been raped. You know many someones who've been sexually assaulted, even if it didn't get as far as rape. If you're thinking, right now, "That's not true. I don't know anyone," it's either because you come across like such a fucktard that no one's told you because they don't think you'll understand or they have told you and you're such a fucktard you don't know how to listen. 2. Many conservatives, it's obvious that your concepts of freedom don't include me. You spout all this bullshit about how "your freedom ends where my nose begins," but your freedom ends way up in my uterus. You get to crawl around in my vagina passing judgment on all the things that end up there and what the result of that is. Why, conservative Americans, do you have the priviledge of bodily autonomy and I don't? Do only men get to be free? 3. Straight men, for just one day, I'd like you to try this little thought experiment. Just try to imagine the last time you got in a fight, a real knock-down drag out fight. If you lost, imagine that the guy who won stuck his dick in you. Would you go to the police? Would you go to the hospital? Would you tell anyone ever? You don't have to answer me, but I'm betting that most of you would not. So, try to have a little fucking mercy on the women who are raped and don't know exactly how to play sympathetic victim. If someone shoots you, you should go to the hospital and get it taken care of. But, if you're actually shot, you might find that you're too busy being blinded by pain and fear and, you know, death, to make the phone call to get the ambulance. Rape is also a violent crime. Rape victims are often too busy being afraid and in pain to act rationally. 4. In the end, there is little women can do to prevent being raped. You might think that you would never go to a party and get drunk. Your friends would never lock you out of the house on accident. Or you'd never walk through the park by yourself. Or you'd never let a stranger into your home. But what the fuck, women? You're never going to date? You're going to always go out in pairs? You're never going to let your husband or boyfriend or kids invite other boys over? You're going to treat every single man you meet like he wants to hurt you? That's how you go through life? You think that's a practical way for every woman to go through life? We cannot control the behavior of others. Read that again. We cannot control the behavior of others. We cannot stop men from raping us. Men have to stop raping us. Yes, there are things we can do to make our own rapes less likely, but in those cases, unless we've killed the motherfucker, usually all we're doing is moving him along to the next victim. We are not the problem. We cannot control the behavior of others. Okay, I feel better. But I know we've gotten to this point and some of you are thinking, "Has B. ever been raped?" and then thinking "Oh, my god, I can't ask that." It's okay. You can ask it. And I'll answer you. Was I ever raped? No. Why not? Because a ten year old Butcher heard me screaming and came downstairs to see what was wrong. He hit the dude and kicked him for all he was worth, but, you know, he was ten and the dude was big. When he started crying, though, the guy stopped, because as important as it was for me to know what a fucking whore I was and how I couldn't just ignore him without paying for it, it was more important for him to stop and comfort the Butcher and to let him know that boys don't have to cry about the shit that happens to girls. Why didn't I call the police? I'd already called the police a number of times after he'd broken into my house and left things. They said they weren't going to get involved in some boyfriend/girlfriend drama, even though I insisted he wasn't my boyfriend. Plus, he was at my house because my parents kept insisting that, if only I were nicer to him and worked harder to make him like me, he'd stop being so fucking weird. I thought that everyone would think I deserved it. And, frankly, I was embarrassed that the Butcher saw me like that. It's not rational, I know, but there it is. I didn't want him to have to tell everyone over and over again what he'd seen. So, there you go. I suppose you'll think that explains a lot. And maybe it does. It at least explains my love for Evan Seinfeld and David Banner. In my fantasies, I live with a guy who can kick the shit out of anyone who might hurt me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Headed Home

Yes, phone-callers of disbelief, I am walking home today. Lots of people take long walks and they don't die. I won't die either. Yes, I have my cell phone. Yes, I'm sure I want to do this. And, fine, if I die, you can all get together and drink the last of my vodka. [Edited to add: I lived. It was a beautiful walk.]

My Proudest Moment

I'd just like to take a moment to thank Brittney over at Nashville is Talking for providing me with one of the highlights of my blogging career. Check this out and note the civil discourse. Then, check this:

Shep is gay?? Gee, who's next.... Ellen? Elton? Etheridge? Surprised? ...NO Care? ...NO I find it more offensive that the F-bomb needlessly be mentioned over and over and over in that post. PLEASE spare me that garbage. Thanks. Posted by: BoSox at October 24, 2005 07:33 PM

Is "fuck" really so offensive? Or is it offensive because such a sweet ole girl like me hurls it like a baseball player spits sunflower seeds? I'm easy to find. Why wouldn't "BoSox" just come over here and scold me for my potty mouth? Aw, BoSox, sorry I'm not easily shamed. But you just lean in and I promise, I'll whisper "fuck" so sweetly and softly in your ear that you'll forget all your objections to my garbage.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Short Funnies

1. The Man from GM tells me that his philosophy is "Swing at Everything." I'm pretty sure that, if allowed to count myself, I'm as lucky with the ladies as the Man from GM is, but I appreciate his optimism. Those of you who've had to fish his hands out of your pants may not be so appreciative of said optimism. 2. The Man from GM also complains that the girls he gets with are all in bad shape, because, after a while, they start gasping for breath. I laughed and teased him mercilessly and he got mad and said it was a real problem. I'm still 51% sure he knows that's not really a problem. Okay 43% sure. 3. The Butcher is concerned that I might be becoming an alcoholic again. Oh, Citizens of Earth, the funny is on so many levels. Let's count them. One, the Butcher is worried about my consumption of mood altering chemicals?! Two, in the past month, not counting the tequila, I've had five drinks--one at my cousin's wedding and four Friday night. I've been drunk once, counting the tequila. And, as the Professor can attest, that's a pretty heavy month for me. Three, again?! I suspect the overblown stories of my college exploits have given him a false impression of how I really spent my time. 4. Though I should probably not admit this so soon after making fun of the Man from GM, I think I'm missing a little basic anatomy knowledge. Okay this is Laffy Taffy. No part of my body looks like this. And maybe I'm taking things too literally, but because I have nothing that looks like this, I cannot figure out what the hell D4L wants me to shake.

Afghan Weather

Okay, last week, I broke down and ran the air one afternoon, and this week, autumn seems to have arrived in full force. We haven't turned the heat on, as we are Midwesterners, and we refuse to acknowledge that this is cold. But I have pulled out all the afghans, of which we have many, because I like nothing better than to crochet large chunky afghans while watching TV when it's cold out, and have wrapped myself in them*. But I have not yet broken down and pulled out the winter coat, even though I could have used it on the walk with the dog this morning. But let me tell you about my winter coat of awesomeness, which I think, in part, is responsible for my embrace of America's gun culture. Let me explain. I used to be the kind of girl who wore cute coats. Long black things with shiny buttons and mysterious hoods. Coats as much at home on the city streets of Chicago as walking to work in rural Illinois. But, honestly, I traded warmth for fashion. When I moved down here, I was in the Tractor Supply Company, bemoaning the fact that, compared to Farm & Fleet, their toy section sucks, when a blocky stiff blue thing caught my eye. I'll admit, between the farm boys of my youth and the rappers on my TV, I might have been preconditioned to at least try that fucker on. But I was thinking, the whole time, how warm can something that looks like a tent be? Well, toasty. And it's not even the warmest coat Carhartt makes. And all of a sudden, I realized that people who get up early in the morning to go out hunting are not crazed maniacs who love to feel chilled to the bone. They wear warm clothing. Toasty warm clothing. With pockets big enough to actually hold your mittens. So, I bought that coat and I wear the shit out of it. And at least once a week all through the winter, whenever someone in the office has to run anything anywhere outside the building, it gets borrowed and appreciated for its awesomeness. Now, if only I can get folks around here to appreciate the glory of my chunky afghans, because I've got more than my fair share. *However, I'm still wearing sandals, because my cute black heels spent the summer as stretchers for the Butcher's bowling shoes. I'm not very thrilled about this discovery, especially since they hadn't really recovered from the art accident that landed them covered in wax.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fox News: Home of Immorality

First it was the infamous falafel and now it turns out that Shepard Smith is THE GAY. FOXNews sure seems like the biggest den of inequity on TV*. Let's go to Kleinheider** for the thoughtful, seemingly-right reason why this is:
People who live in DC and New York and travel around the country are almost never "cultural conservatives." This is the essential disconnect between true conservatives and those professional pundit conservatives who claim to lead and speak for them. Quite often they just ain't the same type of people.
As with most of my problems with Kleinheider, considering how closely our worldviews line up until the last possible second at which point they diverge so sharply that I often get intellectual whiplash reading his blog, my problems with this paragraph are complex. Yes, on the surface, it's true that there does seem to be an enormous disconnect between "true" conservatives and the professional pundit conservatives of Fox News and the like. It's true that the professional pundit conservatives usually lead lives much different than the lifestyles the people who view them pretend to promote. Is this because the professional pundit conservatives are just not "the same type of people" as regular conservatives? On the one hand, it's certainly easier to be promiscuous or gay in urban areas where fewer people give a shit. On the other hand, one certainly doesn't have to be a social scientist to look at divorce rates in southern states--6.4 per thousand here in the state of churches and church headquarters--coupled with Kleinheider's own insight that most divorces end because of infidelity to realize that even regular conservative people aren't "behaving" themselves. So, if it's not that there's some great divide between the open sanctimonious hypocrisy of the political pundit conservatives and the closeted sanctimonious hypocrisy of regular conservatives, what explains folks like Smith and O'Reilly and Coulter? America, as hard as it is to believe, Smith, O'Reilly, and Coulter are human beings. Human beings get drunk and make asses of themselves. They have sex with each other when they get the chance. And people are gay, even conservatives, even people on Fox news. I mean, please. It's not just homosexuals who are, again, quoting Kleinheider, "sex-obsessed deviants." Being a sex-obsessed deviant is part of being human. This brings us to an interesting issue. Shepard Smith did not come out. He propositioned the managing editor of the Washington Blade--a gay publication that doesn't usually out folks--and the editor wrote about it. I say, "Kevin Naff, good for you." Listen, being ashamed of being gay is about the stupidest thing in the world. And allowing people to stay closeted contributes to a culture of shame. Do I think there should be giant witch-hunts and some Big Ole List of Gay people so that everyone can know who's lusting after members of the same sex? No, I don't. But on the other hand, people are curious about who people like and why they like them and who they want to get into bed with. We freely speculate about which straight folks are fucking and which ones want to be. We should freely speculate about all folks. I mean, is Kenny Chesney fucking Payton Manning? That's a yes or no question. It's true, it might not be my business, but only because it's not my business, not because there's something inherently gross about wanting to fuck Payton Manning. He's a cutie. And the truth is that there are gay people all over the U.S., even in the red states, even in conservative households. There have always been gay people***, but back when you married so that you could acquire some property with a vagina to have some kids for you, who you were sexually attracted to was less firmly coupled to who you partnered with. I mean, seriously, Conservative America, people have been fucking people of the same sex forever. Christianity has been on a 2000 year long crusade to abolish such practice and it's made NO difference. Homosexuality is not some recent invention of Hollywood designed to make you uncomfortable and keep you out of San Francisco. It's just an expression of the diversity of human experience. People coming out or being outted, being ashamed of who they are or not, going through ex-gay programs or sitting in bathhouses, none of that makes gayness more or less likely. I mean, Shepard Smith is not gay as an affront to Fox Viewers. He ought not stay in the closet as a concession to them. *Though, Sharon, let me know if MSNBC rents out their evening line-up. I've got a big bed and I don't think there's much that could make me happier than looking around, seeing Dan, Keith, Joe (I know, but what can you do? The vagina wants what the vagina wants.), and Rita naked and grinning and little Tucker curled up way down at the end crying. **Kleinheider remains the smartest, most insightful person I read who is regularly utterly wrong. ***Yes, I know it's more complex than that.

"Mature Circus"

You know it's a weird evening when you look over at all the people sitting on your floor and there's the Butcher, with his head in Mrs. Wigglebottom's mouth, and no one notices. I sat for a long moment wondering if I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing. "Is your head in the dog's mouth?" "Well, you said you thought it was a bad idea for me to put my hand in her mouth." Which, People of Earth, is true enough. Both the Butcher and my dad love to put their fists in the dog's mouth, let her shut her mouth around said fist, and then they shake their fist--and by extension, the dog's head--as hard as they can. She loves this, but it is obviously a stupid trick to teach the dog. She can't tell who's got fists that can go in her mouth and who doesn't. Here's another stupid trick my dad taught the dog. My dad is a big man, as are the people in our family. And I don't mean big in the Hulk Hogan way, I mean big in the "when he's standing in front of his congregation in his white robe, he looks like someone threw a napkin over a peanut M&M" way. So, gravity is on his side. And he thinks it is the greatest thing every when the dog runs at him as fast as she can, leaps up onto his belly and back-flips off. And, I'll admit that it's spectacular to watch. But think of poor Yellow Brand Hammer Company, who is more ordinarily sized and not keen on having 60 pounds of dog hurling at his stomach, or even aware that such a thing might be possible. And poor YBHC usually has both hands occupied--cigarette in one, beer in the other--so there's not a lot of defense he can employ. But one day, as the Butcher tells it, YBHC was standing out in our front parking lot, having a cigarette, being a little drunk, and the dog came bounding out of the house, ignoring the Butcher's cries of "Mrs. Wigglebottom, stop! No! Stop!" and running over to YBHC. She leaps up, hits YBHC in the belly full-force, and physics kicks in. She goes off in one direction in a fabulous arc of dog. YBHC goes off in the other direction in a more messy arc of man, tobacco, and booze. When they were telling me about it later, YBHC said that, even from his perspective, it looked pretty cool. Landing flat on the concrete was not so cool, but the dog somersaulting through the air was a site to behold. So, what was my point? Ah, yes, that the dog already has a repertoire of incredibly stupid tricks that we were, at the least, ill-advised in training her to perform. But teaching the dog to let you stick your head in her mouth? Dear Sweet and Tender Jesus, have a little mercy on my poor brother--that's got to be just about the stupidest. But apparently, this is all part of the Butcher's plan to quit his job and start a non-traveling "mature circus." The non-traveling part is obvious. Dude doesn't have a car. He can't have a job that requires being on the road, because, obviously, I can't be without my car for ten months out of the year. Plus, please, where's he going to get the money for that venture? They repossessed his car, which is sad enough, but imagine having your whole circus repossessed. Though I wonder what kind of repo man would get that gig? Anyway, the "mature" part. "Well," he explains. He doesn't want it to be a 'sex' show, but he really wants one of his acts to be "a girl who can shoot ping pong balls out of her coochie." "Wow." I say. "Obviously, not you," he says. "Thanks for clarifying." But I was thinking about it, and I'll be damned if the Butcher doesn't have the beginnings to a pretty interesting circus. I could do his press releases. YBHC could do his posters. Our neighbor twirls fire--okay, I don't know if he's worked up to fire yet, but he twirls big balls of cloth that can eventually be set on fire, once he figures out how not to hit himself in the leg every few minutes. The Butcher has Mrs. Wigglebottom trained to do spectacularly stupid things. And he could wrestle the orange cat. His sullen, moody friend who doesn't read Chinese, but has many Chinese words tattooed on him by a man who also doesn't know Chinese could be our tattooed man. A lot of folks have tattoos, so he'd have to have a gimmick, like "World's Stupidest Tattooed Man," though he'd have to get the name of his best friend's wife tattooed on him first, to really qualify. But we could talk him into that. I don't know where we're going to find a girl who can shoot ping pong balls out of her cooter, because, I imagine that it's not a skill most women even know they have. But, I was thinking, too, that both the Butcher and I take forever to actually get around to anything, no matter how fabulous an idea it is. So, if you want to be his ping pong girl, you've got plenty of time to practice.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Narrows of the Harpeth

The park was gorgeous this morning, unbelievable. And when we got home, I didn't feel like sitting around here all day actually doing work, though I still have stuff to catch up on from when I was sick. So, after an early lunch, I put the dog back in the car and we headed west on 70. There's something about rural Tennessee that makes me glad to be alive. I don't know if it's the trees all speckled in golds or the red flashes of the sumac along the side of the road or the rocky outcroppings along the curves. But I love it. Mrs. Wigglebottom and I spent an hour standing in the middle of the Harpeth river. I was watching the sun sparkle on the water as it came towards us from under the bridge and then watching the kids having tractor races up on the bluff. I was standing on a dry rocky part of the river bed. The dog, however, was neck deep in the water, splashing and yelping and shaking her head. She loves to spread her paws out as wide as they will go and then splash at the water and then bite the splashes. It seems like one of her favorite things. After a long time, we got back in the car and put the windows down. I put my arm out, she stuck her head out, and we listened to Old Crow Medicine Show and thought about nothing in particular, except whether I'd be happier if I were a semi-truck driver and if I can get down to see the recalcitrant brother, who lately I've been really missing. Well, that's what I thought about. Obviously, I don't know what the dog was thinking, though, I suspect she was thinking about the good feeling of cool wind and warm sun on your face.

To the Man in the Truck

Yes, I was pissed you cut me off, considering there was no one behind me and I was zipping along. And so, I acknowledge, it may have been confusing to see me start to flip you off, and then lower my hand, and start to laugh. I just thought I'd explain it to you. You have, next to your yellow "Support the Troops" ribbon, a "One Nation Under God" red, white, and blue ribbon. You also have a Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate. How do you reconcile your pride in one nation under god with your desire to drive around with a Confederate battle flag on your license plate? How do you reconcile your support for US troops with your pride at being a descendant of someone who sought to kill US troops? I wondered about that on and off our whole time at the park. It's certainly curious.

Let's Let Mike Jones Take Care of Syria

According to Yahoo!, President Bush has told Condoleeza Rice to tell the U.N. to "convene a Security Council session 'as quickly as possible to deal with this very serious matter [Syria].'" Of course, those of us in the sane world are afraid this is just the first step towards another misguided neverending war. So, I'd like to suggest that, before we do anything rash, we let Mike Jones have a shot at diplomacy. What does Mike Jones have going for him that George Bush does not? Direct Communication Mike Jones is easy to reach by phone. He often wears a t-shirt with his phone number on it so that when people need to reach him, they can. George Bush has to tell Condi Rice to tell the U.N. to tell Syria to shape the fuck up. Image and Suaveness Mike Jones, if one believes his video for 'Flossin,' has a house full of beautiful women who all want his attention but who all also seem to get along just fine. George Bush is surrounded by a lot of women who seem devoted to him and who seem to get along fine, but... well... you know what I'm saying. Popularity Though both men are popular in their home state of Texas, their numbers in the rest of the country differ significantly. Mike Jones can boast a #3 debut on Billboard. George Bush's numbers ain't so great lately. True Down-Home-ness How bad did Mike Jones used to have it? "Befo' my paper came, befo' I got my fame/ These hoes* that's poppin on me now didn't even know my name." George Bush comes from a prominent political family. There have been Bush senators, vice-presidents, presidents, and governors. It's safe to say that any hoes poppin on the president have long been familiar with his name and, of course, there never was a moment before his paper came. Screwed, Pleasant or Not Mike Jones is one of the most prominent artists recording in the "chopped and screwed" style** developed by DJ Screw--in which songs are freakily slowed down and lyrics stretched out for effect. Fun. George Bush is a true innovator of the "chopped and screwed" method of war-making. Not fun. Race Relations Mike Jones likes white people. He even records with Paul Wall. George Bush, as we know, "doesn't care about black people." Though we failed to give ourselves all-new leadership, and since the President really needs to prove that he has some innovative ideas and that he doesn't not care about black people, I hope that we can, in this one instance, hand the diplomacy over to Mike Jones. * Please save the outrage about the misogyny in rap for someone who doesn't have to play "guess which pharmacist will let me have the drugs my doctor says I need." ** I just have to point out that the sexiest man in rap--Mr. Crump--has a chopped and screwed album, though that's neither here nor there.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

The Good: Two liters of vodka, half paid for by the Butcher. The Bad: Listening to the guy at the liquor store go on about the giant government conspiracy to take pictures of our eyeballs and sell them to the credit card companies. The Weird: The hobo who is standing outside our door begging us for gallons of water. The Butcher is humoring him. I'm sitting here trying to look busy and slightly crazy. The dog is barking at him. Hopefully that's as weird as it gets.

Music, Conversation, and Me in Heels

America, everyone else puts up cool shit to do on their blogs and encourages you to come on out. Not me, of course. That is, until today. Today, I have something to invite you to. On Thursday, November 3, at 5 p.m. in the Appleton Room in Jubilee Hall over at Fisk University, there's going to be a lovely reception for my friends Bruce and Robert, in honor of the kick-ass book they co-edited: Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942. Now, I'll be honest, if you're not a big nerd, book parties are usually pretty dull affairs--hence the reason they have to bribe you with liquor and baby carrots. Some bigwig says something. Some other bigwig says something. Some other folks say something. Everyone claps and then you eat and get your book signed. But this is going to be different. First off, Bruce and Robert are going to speak, and they're a lot more fun than most academic authors. Plus, the Fisk Jubilee Singers will be performing and there will probably some awesome country blues. And I will be wearing heels, which I do twice a year, maybe. So that should be interesting. Anyway, it's good music and it's free and it's a great chance to ask Robert about Muddy Waters, a man on whom he's something of an expert and to quiz Bruce on his vast song knowledge. So, blues fans, Nashville music fans, and fans of academic intrigue and ridiculousness, come on out. Just don't tell my boss who invited you. Though Elias claims I'm the least anonymous anonymous person ever, we have to keep up the pretense.

Maybe Boys are Just Stupid

Yahoo is reporting that 57% of people on college campuses are women and asking whether this is "cause for celebration - or for concern?" This article irritates me because it conflates two related, but very separate issues. Yes, women are currently more academically successful than men, but this is not the same thing as saying that women are more academically successful at the expense of men. The reason we have to be careful about making clear the distinction is that there clearly is a real problem and one that needs to be solved immediately, if not sooner, but the solution is not to exclude women in order to make room for men. What's not the problem It's not a problem that more and more women are going to college, that they're doing better in school over all and that they apply to college in large numbers and go to college in large numbers. This is a cause for celebration. Amazingly, somebody can actually have success without it hurting someone else. But linking the success of women with the failure of men makes it seem as if the solution to the problem is to just admit fewer women to college and more men so as to even out the numbers, thus making everything right with the world. But there's a telling paragraph in the Yahoo story:
"We think there's value in having equal numbers," says Jim Bock, admissions dean at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College. Last year, the school admitted more women than men, but it admitted a greater percentage of the male applicants than female. The student body's male/female breakdown is about 48/52. [emphasis mine]
See what Bock is saying? There's a smaller pool of men from which to draw. Not admitting well-qualified women so that you can admit the right number of men does nothing to address the underlying problem--that there aren't enough well-qualified men. Where Are All The Well-Qualified Men? Well, I suppose we could just stick our heads up our butts a la Larry Summers and suggest that more women go to college than men because women are just biologically smarter than men. Problem solved. Men don't go to college in large numbers because men are just inherently stupid. Maybe we ought to study some of the ways that stupidity expresses itself--excessive violence, crappy taste in music, high crime rates, etc.,--and then we can feel really smug about things. The Real Problem But the real problem has little to do with women, as a group. The real problem is that we, as a whole society--men and women--have really fucked boys over. How have we done boys wrong? Here are my votes, in no particular order: 1. Championing a soul-corrupting version of manhood that prizes accumulation of things and the degradation of women--see Hollywood, the glorification of the pimp, much popular music, and video games--without any real attractive alternative versions of manhood. 2. Shrinking recesses*. All kids, but especially boys, need to run around and wrestle and climb things and kick things and burn off energy and come up with shit to do on their own. Shortening recess periods means kids are restless in class. 3. Education, especially elementary education, is still an intellectual ghetto on most university campuses. Can't hack biology? Flunking out of French? Switch to education. I had a lot of friends who were Education majors who were continually grossed out by the morons in their classes. Well, those morons go on to teach at perpetually shitty schools. To make a broad generalization, boys--like all kids--respond well to challenges. If teachers cannot challenge boys, boys will lose interest. Boys pay a high price for shitty teachers. 4. We drug them up. This is a tough subject to talk about, and I'm guessing some of you already have your angry comments ready to go. Hear me out. I'm not an idiot. I'm not denying that ADD and ADHD are real disorders and I know for a fact that Ritalin and other drugs help people who really have these disorders. I also know that it doesn't take much to get your kid on these drugs. Having two brothers, I've seen it work both ways. One brother had a battery of physical and psychological tests and saw a team of doctors and psychiatrists before he was prescribed Ritalin. The other got it after his pediatrician said, "eh, his brother needs it, can't hurt him."** Of course people should get the medicine they need to help them, but how is it possible that we went from almost no one needing these drugs to, in some schools, almost everyone needing them? Listen, social scientists, I know proximity does not necessarily indicated causality, but isn't it interesting that when I went to college very few kids were on ADD drugs and the ratio of men to women in college was pretty close to 50/50? And isn't it curious that, as these drugs became more widely prescribed to boys--as evidenced by the two stages of ease of drug procurement represented by my brothers--the number of boys going to college plummets? Why might that be? Let's go to Huck for the first-hand account:
Did it help me? Depends...… It is all a matter of perspective. It improved my ability to code tenfold, and gave me the focal power of a zombie at a Neurology conference. Now I can sit here and code until either the cows come home or the drug wears off. So yes, it helped my ability to do my job, but it destroyed my creativity. My brain could no longer surge from topic to topic at the light-speed pace needed to write something interesting. It is a total 1 to 1 trade off of personalities. I either keep taking the drug and keep my job, and thereby, keep my family healthy and warm, or stop, and throw everything I've built for the past 9 years into the trash and be me.
Let's look at this carefully--not only because it tells us something about how we fuck up boys, but also because it tells us something about what might guide us as we try to decide if drugging someone is appropriate. In Flea's case, Ritalin seems to have been the answer. Her son is doing better and is happier on it. In Huck's case, though, the result is not so clear. Huck clearly enjoys the way his mind works--leaping from idea to idea at lightning speed, drawing connections where others don't. And for him, the trade-off of being able to concentrate on something he doesn't like doesn't always feel particularly worth it***. Why should we expect other boys to feel any different? If they already feel ambivalent about school, prescribing them a drug that they don't like the feel of in order to make it possible for them to sit through school is no way to convince them to go further in their education. It doesn't take a genius to see that, if you have to take a drug you don't like to go to school, you might not have to take that drug if you don't continue to go to school. Problem or Symptom? The real hard question comes down to whether the declining numbers of boys in college is the problem or if it's an indication of a larger problem. I think it's actually a symptom of two larger problems. 1. Things suck. Hello. Rich getting richer. Poor getting poorer. Jobs going overseas. Doom. Misery. Etc. We can debate all day whether things are as bad as they seem, but, America, things seem very bad to a lot of people. And it doesn't seem like they're going to get better. Is it any surprise that our societal anxiety has manifested itself in the despair of boys? I think not. 2. You sleep in the bed you made****. How long have I been saying that crappy ass attitudes towards women hurt men? As long as any of you have known me. And some of you even have kind of humored me. Well, here you go. You spend all a boy's life telling him, "Don't be a pussy." "Don't be a bitch." "Don't do that girly shit." and what does he learn? That his opposite is whatever is female and that he must avoid doing anything that might be perceived as feminine because "being a man" is both the most important thing in the world and, apparently, so very weak and fragile. And now that girls are doing well in school and going on to college and excelling in even traditionally male-dominated fields, y'all are in quite quandary. You pretty much need to go to college in order to succeed in life, but girls go to college. Only pussies like and do well in school. We tell boys over and over to not be pussies. Surprise. They don't want to do girly shit like learn. I'd laugh if your bull-headed insistence on never being associated with any of my attributes wasn't so fucking sad and obviously harmful to yourselves. * It's not just recess, but recess kind of stands for something larger about the fact that we don't really let kids have time to just fuck around any more. ** I should say that both of them sold their Ritalin for pot money, so I can't really judge which way was "better," since the end result was the same. *** Again, my opinion. Hopefully Huck will come by and clarify if I'm misreading him. **** It was really all I could do to keep from calling this section "Stewing in your own 'Don't be a pussy' juices." I hope you appreciate my restraint.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Topics of Conversation at Lunch

Really, America, why you all don't want to go out to lunch with me every dang day I just don't know. Here are just a few of the things we touched on over our delicious lunch at the Mellow Mushroom.
  • The (in)advisability of naming sex toys after real people
  • My continued (!) inability to properly indicate where body parts are
  • Doogie Howser
  • Debate
  • Appropriate circumstances under which to dance
  • How some things look good on women in rap videos but not on the woman sitting right in your line of vision
  • Squash
  • The Butcher's half-assed attempts to find another job
  • House-sitting

Here's what we ate:

Me: Pesto calzone. It was okay, not great, but cheesy and bready and I won't care that there's no food in the house when I get home.

Co-worker: Some other kind of calzone with spinach! Spinach. I wish I'd have thought to get a spinach and onion calzone. That would have been delicious.

The Professor: Jerk Chicken sandwich. Also delicious. I'm totally going for that next time.

The result:

I'm already ready for a nap.

The Butcher and Mrs. Wigglebottom

In the morning, I get up. I throw on my overalls and my handy t-shirt* and my big orange jacket, which I stole from the Butcher, who once had a goal of having a totally orange wardrobe, and I walk the dog. I come back. I eat some breakfast and surf the internet. Then, I head upstairs to take a shower and get dressed. This appears to be the dog's favorite moment of the day. Sometimes, she sits at the top of the stairs with her paws just peeking over the top step and her big bat-wing ears perked up. Often, she's sitting right by the Butcher's door, looking around the corner to see if I'm coming. She does this because, some days, we antagonize the Butcher while he's trying to sleep. I'll open the door to his room. She'll go leaping up on the bed. I'll say, "Get that boy. Get that boy." And she'll look at me so excited like "I know you want me to do something and I bet it's going to be fun, but I have no idea what the fuck it is, crazy woman. Should I step here? Should I bark like this? Ooo, what if I did my weird howl?" And I'll say, "No, lick that boy's face." And she'll step all over him to come over and lick my finger. Once he's sufficiently stepped all over, I will sing him a little song I spontaneously make up. This morning, I sang "Give me twenty dollars and take me to work./ I want money for lunch and you know it wouldn't hurt/ to treat the Professor since she watched out house. Give me twenty dollars and give it to me now." He said he didn't have twenty dollars. "What did you spend all your money on? Alcohol?" "Booze and floozies, B., booze and floozies." "So, I have to eat peanut butter and jelly yet again?" "Damn straight." "Fine." "Get in the kitchen and make your lunch." "Fine." "And make me some lunch while you're at it." "Fuck you." "Yeah, I thought that was pushing it." [Edited to add: Hey, I have $60 in my checking account. If I can find someone who can go to lunch at eleven it's "fuck you, peanut butter and jelly" for me! Woo hoo!] [Edited again to add: Lunch with the Professor and the Cowboy-riding Girl from the Office! Now, if I need to throw things at people, I have one perfectly good peanut butter and jelly sandwich to wing at them! Life is good.] *I figure, this way, if I'm run over, the police can contact Tim and ask him for a list of his customers and quickly narrow it down to me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

If I Told Them To You, They Wouldn't Be Secrets

Lindsey, over at the forever brilliant Theology and Geometry, says
I have to be candid right now, for posterity, before I think better of it: I have not been honest with you. There are so many things I have not said, so many yarns I have not spun, so much that is essential to the story that I have left out on purpose, to be polite, to keep some things private, to not air shared secrets for the world. But in the process, I have omitted so much of the story -- so much of myself -- that is essential to make sense of everything else.
I've been thinking a lot about that, the stuff I haven't told you and how I decide what doesn't get said. It's kind of funny, I guess, because I think one gets a sense from reading Tiny Cat Pants that you're getting a good look at a whole person--the bad along with the good. And yet, in the end, this is a kind of performance, and, as such, editorial decisions are made for the benefit of the audience, even if that audience is just me. Some of you get that. I've met people who were surprised to find out that the Butcher is real or that I really am an aunt. And I think all y'all are aware that sometimes the truth gets stretched for the sake of characterization or the story or whatever. I leave out the boring stuff. I don't really talk about work. I try not to tell unflattering stories about my friends. I try to be honest about the reasons for telling unflattering stories about the people I love, including myself. But I sometimes wonder what the fuck I'm doing. What is the ultimate purpose behind this giant love letter to you, America? I guess it's so that you can feel invested in me, so that when I tell you things, they matter to you. Do you feel cheated that I leave things out? Or is only as much as I choose to share enough for you? What exactly are the contours of this thing? Is there something I owe you? Is there something you owe me? I'm not sure. But I assume we'll find out.


My beloved readers, I must confess that I was, just a little, intentionally provoking you with my "Peaceable Assembly" post just to kind of test-run some shit I'd been thinking about before I actually put it on screen. (Does that qualify as a "covert liberal agenda?" I'm not sure.) Let's ask ourselves a question. Why the fuck can't someone--gay or straight--contemplate whether Jesus masturbated? It's just a penis, boys, not the source of every dirty, shameful, evil thing in the world* and thinking about or talking about the things y'all do with it isn't necessarily proof that you are a deviant or going to hell or shamefully reinforcing stereotypes about various 'perversions'. Christ, if sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes a penis is just a penis**. No, let's ask ourselves another question. Why should liberal women learn how to shoot large guns? No, not just as a big 'fuck you' to the Democratic party--with its continued consideration of 'women's issues' to be side issues to be dealt with only as an afterthought--, though that's a good reason. Okay, fine, let's ask ourselves a third question. How closely linked is your every day understanding of what a good person is with that person's willingness to refuse to act? Let's go back to the neo-Nazi discussion and consider the way that Sarcastro links freedom, peace, and safety. Kleinheider says "just because someone does something meant to instill fear and intimidation doesn't give you a right to attack them nor do they forfit their right to protection by doing so." Peg, I think, comes at this from another angle, saying "I remember wondering at the time why they just didn't let the assholes do it, and why their strategy wasn't just to have everybody stay home and let them do their march on a deserted street." And it seems to me that what A.C. and Peg are both trying to get at is that there are cases in which non-action is the best response, that it diffuses an activity of its power. If no one shows up to oppose them, can the neo-Nazis be said to be having an effective protest? One side being willing to keep the peace insures the safety (and maybe by extension, the freedom) of both sides. Still, I think one of the reasons that the neo-Nazis make such an interesting illustration is that they intentionally invoke history. They, themselves, have little or no power, but they mean to refer back to a very powerful regime. And in that context, asking people to do nothing in the face of them also has historical resonance. I'm not saying that throwing rocks or rioting or robbing bars is an appropriate response. I'm not sure I know what an appropriate response is. I'm just saying that when you ask groups who have been, historically, unable to effectively respond to deadly violence against them, to refrain from responding when they can against the echoes of that violence, you have to see how the finer points of non-action as appropriate response versus non-action as an inability to respond might be lost. Which brings me back to Sarcastro's trinity of societal values***: freedom, peace, and safety. Do they really sit together so easily? I actually think that they don't. At least not often. Peace and safety definitely go together in interesting ways. But what goes better with freedom than audacity? How else is freedom achieved than through audacious behavior? No one with any power in America is sitting around handing it out willingly to people who don't have it. No, instead, racial minorities, women, and gays have been told to just sit tight and leave it to the straight white men to take care of things. Don't worry, as John Adams said, "We have only the name of masters."**** Keep the peace, in other words. But it's only outrageous and audacious behavior that gets anything done. It's only because we had the audacity to demand the vote that we got it. Our freedom depends on audacious behavior. Being free practically demands a "bold departure from the conventional form" as the OED puts it. There's no other way to be free. You have to upset the peace and you have to put yourself in harm's way if you want to be free. You have to have the audacity to upset things. [Shoot, this deserves a better conclusion, but I'm out of lunch time...] *And the fact that your host, a self-avowed feminist, has to remind you of this... Well, it just shows you how weird the world is. ** Though the fact that there's such heated discussion on a site called "Hard Right" has not been lost on me. *** Yes, I'm well aware that he linked those together on the fly and I'm now holding them together as if he was taking some well-thought-out position instead of just making a comment, but that's just how things are. ****And only the vote and laws written in his favor... but still, reading the correspondence between him and Abigail, you can't help but be charmed.

Getting Home

So, not this week, because I've got shit going on, but next week, I'm going to walk home, to see if that's a viable getting home alternative. I'm embarrassed and tired of asking people for rides and what's the worst that can happen? I mean, jackasses, aside from the killer hobos. There are two likely worst-case scenarios. One is that I get to the 440 bridge and I chicken out. Well, a lot of people walk across that bridge and don't bother with the sidewalks. Every time I've walked across that bridge, I've not bothered with the sidewalks (granted, that's been a whole twice) and I'll just do it again. The other is that I get about to Starbucks and realize I'm too out of shape to walk up the hill. Well, big fucking deal. I'll sit at Starbucks until the Professor or the Butcher comes to get me. But, if it works out, that'll be nice. Well, except for all the walking and the being healthy and shit. Speaking of getting home, this morning, when I got to the office, it was just women. There's something really nice about an office full of women howling with laughter and teasing each other about their evening exploits. The most conservative of us drove a boy home last night, after an evening of two scandalous beers and karaoke with one of the other girls in the office. "She made me sing 'Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.'" "'Ride a Cowboy!" Do you even know what that means?!" "Yes." "Did you get his phone number?" "Yes." "Did you get smooches?" "Hey, we're taking this one small victory at a time." "So, why were you late?" "I had to call my mom." "Fuck, woman, you should have called my mom." "Oh, yeah, I'll just start calling random old women and tell them I met a boy and I like him." "You like him?" "Ooo, you said you like him." "Did you give him your phone number?" "Of course." And then the laughter and the blushing and the teasing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Peaceable Assembly

I've been trying to come up with a coherent post about the Toledo riots, but I've got nothing coherent. I do have questions: 1. Who dresses Neo-Nazis? Seriously. Do these guys look in the mirror and think "Damn, I look like a man who commands respect and attention?" Because, if so, they need different mirrors. I'm not sure how long this link will stay good for, but I don't even think that dude with the wallet chain has his pants buttoned. And the guys in the brown shirts might want to consider lengthening their ties--just a hair--because right now, they seem to draw attention directly to the fact that their pants are hiked up unflatteringly high. When I was a young girl, the neo-Nazis were all about khaki pants and white shirts and red suspenders and black boots. They were idiots, but they were color coordinated. Toledo has some old men playing World War II costume party and some gas station attendants, from the looks of it. 2. It's funny to me how the definition of "white" shrinks and expands. One hundred years ago, Irish people were barely "white" and Poles & other Slavic people definitely weren't and now you've got the neo-Nazis running to the defense of Tom Szych. 3. Why the hell did the Toledo police have to waste valuable personnel-time on this nonsense? Maybe the Legal Eagle can clear this up for me, but in what way does a neo-Nazi march through a diverse neighborhood constitute "peaceable assembly?" Isn't the very point of playing skinhead dress-up and showing your numbers to be a kind of implicit threat? You emulate the genocidal regime of a madman because you want people to look at you and refer back to the real Nazis, right? What is it about the real Nazis that you want them to think of? The containment and destruction of people different than you. If it were really just a case of "white people sticking up for each other," why the Nazi paraphernalia? Once you bring the swastika into it, it seems to me that you want people to be afraid of you because you want to be violent against them. How again is that "peaceable?" And if it's not "peaceable assembly," why do they get police protection? And why shouldn't the people in the neighborhood be able to protect themselves from this threat? If I can shoot a burglar coming through my window, why can't I throw some rocks at some idiots marching through my neighborhood? I'm not the government. If they have a problem with me, I'm not obligated to hear them out.

Why Old Sinners Suck

God, it's good to have Sharon Cobb back. Today, Sharon reminds us that Madonna is a sanctimonious hypocrite. There's a kind of long-standing joke among ministers that there's no Christian like a recent convert. Miss Madonna would seem to prove that there's no saint like a reformed sinner. Now that she's done having her fun, the rest of us had better shape up or go to hell. Lovely.

Veterans Who Have Touched My Boobs Without Asking

World War I--I was young and helping get him from his wheelchair into his car. Seemed unintentional, but maybe appearing ancient, confused, and off-balance is a good way to cop a feel. World War II--None that I can think of. Not even any actors in awesome World War II movies. Calling them "the Greatest Generation" might be hype, but judging from personal experience, we might call them the generation with the most restraint. Korean War--Walking down the hall at church, as a Korean War veteran put his arm around me, told me how much he liked me, and reached right over and gave me a squeeze. I backed away alarmed and then he started crying, telling me how much he loved his wife and didn't deserve her. I agreed. Vietnam War--Just the drunken full-body mush. Maybe we shouldn't have had our Junior Prom at the VFW hall. That might have cut down on that. Gulf War--Standing in my parents' driveway. He leaned in to kiss me. I kissed him back. He pulled his head away, gave me a weird smile, said "I didn't know you were that kind of girl" and came at me like some kind of Frankenstein's monster. At the time, I was like "What the hell, dude?" but what did I know about being a 20 year old boy? Christ, it's not until you're a thirty year old woman that you get what those twenty year old boys are going through, as La Professora regularly reminds her students.

Monday, October 17, 2005


It's important to have goals, things to work towards, that give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Lately, my goals have been "get out of bed in the morning." But I'm setting another one. I'm going to learn to shoot a gun like this. I don't know when. I don't know how. But I'm envious of that look on Blake Wylie's face.

Stupidity and Awe

I was having lunch with the Professor yesterday (delicious leftover beef stew, which you should not pass up if offered) and trying to explain to her how I was growing noticeably stupider. She was trying to explain her birthday party. Because of my perceptible growing stupidity, I was unable to understand exactly why so many men at her party had been wondering if it would be okay for them to take off their pants in front of each other, but not so stupid that it didn't make me very sad that I'd missed it. This morning, I came downstairs and realized that I'd left the back door not only unlocked, but slightly open. Yes, train-riding mass-murderers, I make it easy for you. I'm slowly working my way through Twilight of the Idols, for no reason, really, just to have something to read in the bathroom, but this morning Fred* was actually talking about stupidity--about how our passions make us stupid and how, in the face of that, we can either attempt to cease to have passions or we can stand in awe of how powerful our passions are. I think we know which I normally choose. Ha, maybe that's why I read Fred, for the constant reminders of all the ways you have to disentangle yourself from Christianity if you really want to be done with it. Anyway, then the dog and I went out. Holy shit. There was just a hint of the sun glowing along the 440 retaining wall. Above us, was Venus, a steady brilliant blue, and to her right, Orion. I love that I live so close to work and yet can see Orion in the morning sky. And farther right, was a huge yellow moon. It made me feel a little dizzy, in a kind of giddy way, to be facing south, with the rising sun on my left and the setting moon to my right, with Orion** right above me. And for our whole walk, the full moon seemed to chase us in and out of the trees, peeking out from the train trestle, and then, just as the dark sky was giving way to the pinky dawn, I saw a fucking shooting star! Right there in the west! I didn't think to wish on it. Instead, I just did what Fred demands and stood in awe. *Probably the best way to read Nietzsche is to skim through and find where he's said something obviously ridiculous, first. Then you can kind of measure your enthusiasm for the rest of what he says against it. If you don't keep in mind that he's got some issues, you end up like... well, like Heidegger, and no one wants that. **Miss J., I still think that's a kick-ass idea for a tattoo.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Some Things Throw Off Your Whole Day

No, not just finding out that some local blogger has become your personal Harold Bloom, diagnosing your aesthetic flaws and making it impossible for you to write further without considering him. There's also the phone calls that go like this: "Hello?" "Oh... hey... B." "[Voice from the past], how the hell are you?!" "...yeah... it's been a while..." "Are you okay?" "..." "[Voice from the past]?" "" "Are you high?" "Is your brother at work?" "Do you need to talk?" "Have him give me a call." "Whatever." "..." "Are you still there?" "Yeah." "Do you want to talk?" "..." "Then I'm hanging up. I'll have the Butcher call you later." Sweet Jesus. What the fuck? I know partially it's because we're moody jackasses, but the Butcher and I know some freaky, moody jackasses.

Whoring It Up, Old School

The other day Jo(e) was talking about watching TV for the first time in a long time and how weird it was for her. Well, I watch a lot of TV, but after spending three days conked out in front of it, I was reminded of her post. Mostly, if the TV is on at our house, it's on MSNBC or Discovery. Like much of America, we use the Viacom nonsense as filler during commercials. However, being sick and wanting basically filler while I slept, I had on a lot of Viacom crap over the past couple days. Mostly, I was watching VH1 Soul, because folks have apparently decided to keep the hottest cast members of The Wire employed between seasons and there's only so long a girl can be expected to go without her Stringer Bell* fix. However, I did also manage to see the most disturbing show** on VH1: My Fair Brady. I swear, if this show were beamed in from Mars, it would make more sense to me. The premise, for those of you living under rocks, is fairly simple. Chris, one of the Brady boys, is attempting to work out some kind of romance with Adrianne, a hot young reality show personality he met on The Surreal Life, another VH1 train-wreck. From the title, you kind of get that this will be the story of whether or not Adrianne can become the type of woman Chris needs and thus be "rewarded" with becoming his wife. But that's not the weird part. No, the weird part two-fold. One, I think this is supposed to be some kind of patriarchal fantasy. Old, albeit hot, man finds young, hot girl with no discernible skills except looking hot and fucking and, in order to have such youthful, hot, fuckableness available to him, lets her move in with him. As transactions go, it's the oldest one. She exchanges herself for a place to live and someone to provide for her. He gets prize arm candy. And yet, he seems on the verge of miserable the whole time. And, because it's this straightforward fairytale bullshit, when she behaves in ways that would, in my world, constitute flagrant cheating, in the realm of the television show, her behavior is utterly acceptable. For instance, her friend comes to visit and they repeatedly shower together and then go out dancing together, suggestively. Now, I get that this is that pseudo-lesbianism, performed for men and not with each other. And so, maybe because it's not done out of consideration for each other's pleasure, but only in consideration of the enjoyment of the men viewing them, it's not cheating. But holy fuck, what a loophole! "Why would you feel betrayed? It's not like I liked it." But this brings me to the other bit of weirdness. Never in all my reality TV show viewing have I been so viscerally aware of the presence of the camera and wondered exactly what that meant. Because, she is completely at ease in front of the camera--naked, clothed, buying a car, showering with her friends, eating with her family. And the camera is constantly focused on her in ways I find uncomfortable. There's the close-up of her crotch, here's a boob, there's a butt--clearly the most intimate relationship portrayed on the show is not between Adrianne and Chris, but between Adrianne and the camera. Which then makes me wonder what the difference is for Adrianne between Chris and her friend in the shower. Is this something she's doing to be with him or something she's performing with him for the benefit of the camera? She's kind of an idiot in a way I find tiring. But I'm charmed by her steadfast refusal to stop being a whore. Clearly, that's what Chris wants, to figure out how to both change her enough to make her acceptable without losing any of the benefits (he tells her mom he'd marry Adrianne in a second if she were as emotionally mature as she is sexually). And he's clearly fooled by the way she and her whole family seem so hung up on finding out what his intentions are; he thinks--and in fairness, I think she thinks--she just wants to get married. But her ease with the camera, the ways she invites the camera to linger on her, and the things she does to keep the camera focused on her... she doesn't want a husband, she wants an audience. She doesn't want just one man to provide for her. She wants everyone watching to want her and wanting her means, in part, wanting to provide her with things. It's really strange, but fascinating. * La, la, la. I'm not listening. Don't even say it. Like Jesus, he's alive in my heart. **I haven't seen Breaking Bonaduce, which I assume is worse, but will remain unviewed by my eyes, if I can help it. There is a clear-cut case of the truth that sometimes consenting to be on TV is proof that you are too ill to really consent to be on TV.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Drinking with the Butcher

Apparently, the best way to pick a wine is to grab the largest bottle you can find that has your last name on the label. Then, you come home to watch South Park and make snarky comments about Ecclesiastes. This is what it's like to drink with the Butcher: "Why the fuck do we work so hard in this country? Eight hours is a long time to work at a fucking place you hate. My god, I think this is the Book of the Butcher. Heh, no wonder Cartman hates Kyle. 'I have many wives who gave me great pleasure.' Our children read this book, I mean, come on. They're going to figure this out eventually. 'Nothing on earth is worth the trouble.' 'I discovered that wisdom is better than foolishness, just like light is better than darkness.' Mrs. Wigglebottom. Shhh. Wigglebottom. This is a very down-bringing book. You're wise; you're not. We're all going to end up in the same place. Damn. I now can understand how someone could write a book about this. You'd have to take three hundred pages to turn this into something Christian. Ah, what do I know? I haven't even made it halfway through yet. But wow, I understand why Republicans believe what they believe. 'The best thing we can do is enjoy eating, drinking, and working.' Hey, wow, this is that Byrds song. This is about me. Am I this depressing?"

Our Triumphant Return to the Park

It took me an hour and a half to walk around the park. I kept having to stop and rest* and the dog was more than happy to just stand around and tilt her face into the sun, so we were pretty slow going. But I had to get out of the house. I feel like I've been cooped up here for days. So, even though I'm probably going to spend the rest of the afternoon asleep, I got out and enjoyed the sunshine and felt glad to be alive. If there's anything that regularly makes me as happy as coming over the top of the hill and seeing the road twisting beneath us and the trees stretching above us and realizing that the brain has turned off--no worrying about the bills, no replaying things over and over again, thinking of all the ways I could have been smoother or stronger or whatever--and it's just me and the dog and the walk before us. It makes me whole again, almost every time I go. *read: "decide if I was going to throw up or die or what"

Further Scary Stories for Halloween

All right, here's the scariest thing that's happened to me here in Nashville. Just to set the stage, let's revisit the Ghosts of the Civil War who Stole My Can Opener. For those of you who don't remember the ongoing saga of the Ghosts of the Civil War who Stole My Can Opener, it's like this. Once, I had the perfect can opener--hardy and well-balanced. The kind of thing you gave just a little flip of the wrist and it cut through metal like a hot knife through butter. It was an awesome can opener, the kind you don't appreciate until you set it on the counter one afternoon only to come back a couple of hours later and find it missing. Now, I don't know what really happened to the can opener, but since we live right in front of a set of tracks guarded by Union soldiers, we jokingly blamed the Ghosts of the Civil War. And you know, if you'd been sitting in my back yard for 150 years, you'd probably be damn ready for a glorious can opener of joy to let you into your pork & beans. And now, whenever anything weird happens in the house, we, rightly or wrongly, blame the Ghosts of the Civil War. But honestly, usually, it's the cats. Still, here's something weird that happens pretty regularly. I'll be sitting in the front room here and I'll hear the screen door open and the regular door handle will start to jiggle. Mrs. Wigglebottom will get up and go over to the door, tail wagging. I will, often, assume it's the Butcher struggling with his keys, go over, throw open the door, only to find no one there. And sometimes we'll hear knocking at the door, and no one will be there. What's really weird about this is that the screen door is noisy. It makes a lot of unmistakable noise when it opens and it slams shut pretty fiercely. So, it's not like there's something else you could mistake for that sound. And while it's possible that someone could open the screen door, screw with the regular door, and run off before I get the door open, that doesn't explain how the screen door doesn't slam shut. I can't explain it, but I'm hoping someday to throw open the door and find my can opener sitting there between the two doors.