Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Now if we could just get these guys a wading pool full of creamed corn...

A lot of people I know are really, really into Paul Krugman, to the point that the malcontent in me finds it sort of satisfying to watch he and Daniel Okrent go after each other.


"The Washington Post had no immediate comment."

Ya don't see that every day.

Thanks, Mr. Felt. You did a good thing for your country.


Monday, May 30, 2005

Settling the issue

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Update on CC's Life

No blog reviews this weekend unless I have a sleepless night. My days are taken up having long conversations and doing the tourist thing around DC, which is always a challenge on Rolling Thunder weekend.

My linguist friend is visiting and is happy as a clam in the library/guest room. It’s very difficult to speak with him there as conversations tend to go like:

CC: So, I told the guy, we ordered thai chicken salad in puff pastry, this looks like cat food on a cracker. And he told me to try it, and it was good, but still, the place’s presentation skills totally sucked and I mean this is politics so presentation is everything and… hey?… are you even listening? That Spong book is NOT more interesting than what I’m saying. Jaspers, maybe, but SPONG?

Ok, I’m being spiteful there. What was really distracting him was Rebecca Parker’s bit about her suicide attempt at the beginning of Proverbs of Ashes. Come to think of it, Elaine Pagels writes about the death of her son in Beyond Belief And a minor theologian I know named Mary Louise Bringle writes about her struggle with bulimia in God of Thinness. Do male theologians do that?

Yesterday, CC took off from work and she and her linguist friend ran errands, visited Edie-who-sells-books at her store and then bummed around Georgetown until dinnertime, when the CSO met us there and we decided to eat at Benihana through the following discussion.

CC: Benihana doesn’t suck.
TheCSO: I could do that, I guess.
Linguist friend: That would be all right, I suppose.
CC: I mean like, we haven’t seen anyplace better.
TheCSO: Yeah. Might was well.
Lingusit friend: Why not?

I suspect Benihana has been chosen as a dinner location exactly this way thousands of times.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

CC the Wonkette Source

So CC was making calls at work and surfed the net as she talked. She checked out the UU Kinja and saw a post at Wildhunt about an Indianapolis Star article about a Judge declaring two parents couldn't raise their kid Wiccan.

So she sent a tip in to Wonkette. Now it's on Wonkette so the whole net is going to hear about it.

Ain't technology grand?

Sort of proud that her first tip ever in to Wonkette got used. Not that she was credited, but still...

How to act normal

I always wanted someone to tell me, yet am strangely unsatisfied by this.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Oh, well, if THAT'S all we're doing...

So, when I complain about politics in the UU church, a common response I get is people saying, always indignantly, "It's not like the UUA is telling people hoiw to VOTE."

No, but right here at the bottom of Sinkford's presidential letter about how "almost all of us" feel on a variety of issues, we get instructions on how to bother our representatives to vote a certain way on a peice of legislation.

Well, I don't know about you, but I feel better.


Reason trumps Sentimentality

So the Stem Cell research bill squeaked by in the house, just as the Senate moderates made their compromise just in time. (FWIW, seven of CC's firm's clients were for the bill. )

It's early to declare a trend of moderation winning out over conservatism, but these recent developments are a good sign.

Also, I really like this essay.

I knew about the Faustlings' history and had been thinking about them often during the debate over this issue.

Addendum after reading Joel's response:

It is possible that Bush did make a mistake by fighting this one on moral rather than financial grounds. The issue really was government funding of the research rather than the research itself.

But I can also see why Bush fought it the way he did.

1. Arguing morals has worked for Bush many times before.
2. Fighting government funding of research quickly leads to questions about if we should be paying for the expensive yet immensely popular NASA. Even libertarians don't mind the government paying to research weapons, and weapons development does not happen independently of developments in other sciences.

People who attack this bill as a ban on the research itself are wrong.

People who attack Bush for arguing as if his problem is with the research, not necessarily the funding for it, are justified in doing so because that's the position Bush himself has taken in using the "snowflake babies" etc.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Desperate Housewives thoughts.

1. I'm so bummed for Bree. And Rex's note? Sniffle. It would be hokey as hell to use the voiceover ghosts bit to show next season that Rex understood what really happened and got some solace. It would be hokey, but I'd still really appreciate it, because man, Rex dying of a broken heart because George set him up to think Bree was trying to kill him is depressing.

2. Hadn't the idea of the obviously unhappy Tom and the obviously unhappy Lynette switching places occurred to pretty much everyone by about the third episode of the season, once it had become clear that "basically selfish lady with obnoxious kids" was the only plot Lynette was getting?
As a non-maternal type, I've been trying hard to think of a moment when Lynette was actually sympathetic, but I really can't.

3. I actually sort of feel for Carlos, and believe me, it disturbs me that I do. But seriously, my brothers have many times proved that stupidity is, in fact, a crime.

4. Teri Hatcher really does a fabulous job as Susan. She is so dumb, yet one loves her so much.

Those are my thoughts.

starting to worry that she's taking her entertainment too seriously these days.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

OK, last Star Wars post for now.

I was planning a snarky article on religion in the Star Wars movies.

But Beliefnet beat me to it.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

CC nitpicks the Star Wars movie.

***Numerous Spoilers throughout. But then, we all know what happens anyway. ***

Just saw the Star Wars movie late last night. As Star Wars movies go, it was pretty good, but it still left many plot holes and questions unanswered.

You know how sometimes you see a movie and you're still thinking it through for days afterward?

  • So is Yoda a buddhist-ish Jedi, or are all Jedi buddhist-ish and Yoda is just the most vocal on the subject? And if Yoda is the only Buddhist-ish Jedi, and the only Jedi alive at the end of the second trilogy other than Luke, who learned from him, does that mean that all future Jedi will be buddhist-ish Jedi?

  • Does the fact that I think one must understand evil to be really good, and indeed don't believe that knowledge in itself can be evil, only what one does with it, make me a Sith? If so, I'm OK with that I think. I look cuter in black anyway...

  • So why is it that the Sith have faith that good people can fall, but the Jedis assume that Anakin has fallen forever and Obi Wan leaves him for dead? Are Siths in their own funky way more Universalist? Again, I think I may be a sith.

  • Why is it that none of the Jedis could sense the betrayal? Or sense who the Sith lord is, FWIW? If everybody can sense Anakin's anger, why couldn't they sense the Sith lord?

  • I'm still wondering that why it is that Amidala is pregnant for the whole movie and right at the end Obi Wan is like "Is the kid Anakin's?" Like, she hadn't even bothered to come up with a good lie about it to tell everyone, the identity of the father had just never come up. You show me a female Senator assumed to be single who gets pregnant and nobody even asks who the father is until 8 months and 29 days into the pregnancy, I'll stop thinking that's quirky.

  • Is it just me, or are the droids slaves? Know any other movie that gets away with the heros having happy slaves? I don't even 100 percent have a problem with that, it's just weird.

Who totally wonders what the Empire's version of OSHA was doing with its time, because there was not one safety railing in the entire movie. Not on the balconies seemingly miles above the city, not helping you get on the airplane, not even in the factories. They must lose more storm troopers that way...

Note on the Star Wars movie

Think carefully before you take kids, especially sensitive ones.

This isn't really a spoiler, but Anakin kills some children. (Memo to George Lucas: OK! He's evil! We get it!) You don't see him do it, but you do see their bodies and it is discussed multiple times. I think a way bigger point of it is made than had to be and it would have freaked me out big time if I had seen it as a child.

I have much more to say about other aspects of the movie, and will likely say it in the morning.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Our boy Bukie

So I was hanging out at the Republican Club of Capitol Hill between events recently (WHAT?) and I decided to check my office email remotely. I headed down to the business room only to discover that none of the computers had working internet. I asked a club staffer, who told me the club has a huge problem with people looking at porn in the business room and clogging up the computers with the resulting spyware.

And I thought of Pat Buchanan’s recent prediction that “morals” conservatism of the Jesse Helms variety was dying, being replaced by more power-focussed neoconism.

Wouldn't vote for Bukie, of course, but I never said the man was stupid.


CSI finale

So Jennifer Beautiful and I had our eyes glued to the screen the whole time.

Don't want to spoil it for anybody who has it Tivo'd so I'll just say...

Could you believe the...

And the...

And the freaky black-and-white scene?

Jeezum crow.

who feels the need to point out that Grissom, with his bug-loving hotness, saved the day again, though she admits that Jennifer Beautiful's choice Warrick did indeed look pretty damn good.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ideas CC struggles with

1. Transhumanism.
You can now get laser eye surgery to make your eyes much better than the average person's. Baseball players can get surgery that rearranges the muscles in their arms to make their pitching better.

Yes, it's probably "playing God" in the classic mad scientist sense. But it might be that the next step in human evolution will come from our inventions and if we close the door on such things, we're closing the door on making a world of smarter, stronger, people.

Should lines be drawn in what we can do to our bodies? Where should that line be? And what about genetic engineering?

2. Race
I've had it pointed out to me that race doesn’t exist at all. I mean, we’d likely agree that someone from France and someone from India are different races.
But are people from India and Pakistan different races?
Pakistan and Turkey?
How about Turkey and Greece?
Greece and Italy?
Italy and… we're in France.

When people look obviously different in large groups, we can make these distinctions. But when it comes to drawing the line necessary for "race" to be a useful definition, our ability to classify breaks down.

3. OK, one more. CC has to go to work.

Mental illness in poor people.

Judging by the people asking me for money every time I get off the subway, our treatment of the mentally ill isn't working. My aunt's best friend is the former president of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and she plaes the blame soundly on Ronald Reagan with his policy of lowering standards to release people from mental hospitals so he could save money and close a few.

I don't know. But I do know that something needs to be done. Furthermore, literally nobody I've ever known who was taking medication for mental illness was perfect about it. If society gives somebody a place to live and a job, should we be able to legally force them to take their medication?

It seems like taking away their freedom to say "Yes," but it seems like a possibly huge waste of societal resources to say "no."

And furthermore, a mentally ill poor person is more likely to have trouble keeping their paperwork filled out, keeping a job and staying away from crime and drugs. (Not a moral judgement, but a practical one I think. Lots of mental illnesses have impulsivity and not living by society's standards attached, or are so very painful that drugs may seem like a good escape. )

To what degree does society have a duty to "chase them down" and help them out? Not letting anybody slip through the cracks sounds like a terribly expensive proposition. But as I get off the subway and walk past people, I do wonder if they couldn't be more useful to society working?

Monday, May 16, 2005

As a GenXer, I feel talked down to.

Somebody in my church is thinking of doing this as an adult ed curriculum to attract young adults.

Is it just me, or is this sort of patronizing?

I'm assuming someone with a lot more RE experience than I have will read this and can tell me if I'm right, but these lessons sound like they are on a high school level or so.

I like The Simpsons, but I think I could handle writing a list of what I would do if I had 24 hours to live on my own.

thinking "Mostly, I think I'd do paperwork to make the lives of those I was leaving behind easier."

God Dwells in 'The Simpsons', Authors Say

By Richard N. Ostling

© Associated Press, August 7, 2002.

Sunday school teachers with restless teenagers or distracted adults might consider something a little different this fall: The Simpsons.

After all, in one episode of the popular animated TV sitcom, God tells the hapless Homer that even he is bored by parson Lovejoy's sermons.

Now the cartoon family is heading for a church near you, thanks to a 10-lesson study guide to The Gospel According to The Simpsons.

The original book was written by Mark Pinsky, religion reporter for the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. He co-wrote the study guide with Rev. Samuel (Skip) Parvin, a United Methodist pastor in the Orlando area. Both are published by the Presbyterians' Westminster John Knox Press.

Since Pinsky is a Jew, the prayers and themes are not explicitly Christian, so the course can be adapted for synagogue use.

The pious might feel the show has too many brushes with blasphemy to be suitable for church treatment. A church signboard on the show: "God welcomes his victims." Description of God after a dream: "Perfect teeth. Nice smell. A class act all the way."

But Rowan Williams, the newly appointed archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, calls the program "one of the most subtle pieces of propaganda around in the cause of sense, humility and virtue."

Pinsky's book argued that The Simpsons raises important religious issues in its cockeyed fashion. In the study guide he says church use of popular culture could help attract outsiders, but admits this may also smack of desperation and reflect a "dumbing down of serious discourse."

Each of the 10 sessions begins by viewing a Simpsons episode available on commercial rental.

For instance, in one show Homer is told that a Japanese sushi chef made a mistake cutting a poisonous blowfish and that Homer will die in 24 hours. Homer puzzles out a "to do" list for his last day. Item No. 1: "Make list." Item No. 9: "Tell off boss."

Next, participants write Homerlike lists of a dozen things they'd want to do if they had 24 hours to live. Then they read aloud a pertinent Old Testament passage, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ("For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven"), and a New Testament passage, Jesus' parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21).

The group then discusses Homer's priorities and their own.

One item on Homer's list is a man-to-man talk with son Bart to pass on three sentences that will help the lad get through life: "Cover for me. Oh, good idea, boss. It was like that when I got here." There's further discussion of this and other goofy but intriguing plot turns.

The session concludes with a prayer: "God our Creator, help us to value each moment of every day. We realize that there are no guarantees in this life. . . ." As people leave they're asked to talk to someone they respect in the coming week about life priorities.

Themes of other lessons:

The nature of and reasons for prayer. (Bart, in danger of flunking, asks God to close school the next day so he can do extra study, and a blizzard ensues.)
Skepticism and faith. (Lisa Simpson doubts a skeleton with wings dug up at the site of a new mall is an angel, as people assume. Turns out she's right; its a publicity stunt.)
Why good people suffer. (Warmhearted neighbour Ned Flanders quits his job to open the Leftorium, a store with gizmos for left-handed people that flops.)
What is the soul? (Bart sells his soul to a playmate for $5 and tries to get it back.)
Thou shalt not steal. (Homer bribes a cable TV installer to get service for free.)
Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Wife Marge is tempted to be unfaithful to Homer after he gives her a bowling ball for her birthday.)
How to view the Bible. (A Simpsons episode with four fractured Bible stories according to the dreams of various characters.)
Identity and calling. (TV performer Krusty the Clown, who is Jewish, shares his troubled relationship with his father.)
Why attend worship? (Homer splits his pants, is unable to go to church with the family, and has such a good time he decides to stop attending.)

Well, crap.


Gee, looks like some people think that having a "program on social security" where you make sure your congregation only hears one side of the issue is the sort of thing that political organizations do.

I could have told ya that.

who knows that this is not an especially egregious example in itself. But give an RNC intern two hours and an internet connection and they can find enough little speeches about Republican evils to seriously screw us up. For our own good, we need to start admonishing one another on this issue.

On Ipods

A response to PeaceBang

I don't have one, but TheCSO does and mostly uses it on the subway.

Your rant reminded me very much of the speech my parents gave when I wanted to buy a walkman when I was 12. The annoying thing is, they let me talk about it for weeks while I was saving up for a really nice one and THEN told me I couldn't have one.

And did I mention how their claim that the other kids who didn't do dishes every night would grow up to not know how to do them and end up sad and alone because no one wants to be with a person who can't do dishes turned out to be a total lie?

Anywho, the CSO and I were actually discussing Ipods the other night. We were saying that it would be cool to have an ipod that could real the body's physiological signs of emotion and respond accordingly. Notice you're late for work,your Ipod changes to "Flight of the Bumblebee," Your cat dies, yout Ipod changes to "November Rain," etc.

OK, that would probably be bad. But an interesting sort of bad.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

the hidden church: working for justice without petitions

Went to a GBLT+Q and Pals Community lunch today at my church and ate sushi and talked over what the groups should be within the church. They talked about supporting the pastoral care team, doing a service on Gay issues, sponsoring an adult RE class and figuring out ways to identify themselves as to better be there for people with questions.

They were even extremely receptive to my concern that I'd watched several churches recruit gay people only to have those gay people find out that, though they felt plenty accepted, they didn't jibe theologically with the church.

Right now Maryland (where my church is located) has a gay marriage bill in front of the Governor, so I kept expecting the inevitable long-winded political discussion.

It never came.

Finally somebody said "Should we be doing something about activism?"

Answers ranged from "I'm already in four activist groups," to "Maryland has a great group called Equality Maryland. I think we should be members, but I don't know what we could do as a group to supplement what they're doing already" to "If people want activism they can find it, Let's look at what we can do within the church."

Hey, if Equality Maryland does a march and needs people to hand out cups of water, our folks will know and can ask the group listserv. But that these people were cognizant that one more petition wasn't going to do a damn bit of good, but reaching out to individuals might, made me so proud too be a UU.

These people wanted to help on a small scale and didn't flatter themselves with the notion that they were saving the world. But they knew there were confused old ladies with gay sons who had just come out, gay people looking for support and likely questioning teens within the congregation.

I thought of a church reading we'd had recently, the last paragraph of George Eliot's Middlemarch:

Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were
not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus
broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great
name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around
her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world
is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so
ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the
number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

I heart my church.

They get it.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Has CC mentioned she doesn't like Nora Ephron?

So I'm still thinking about last week's Sunday New York Times.

They had an article that is bugging me.

About Abu Gharib, you ask?

The nuclear option?

Nuh uh.

The "Bewitched" movie.

You see, Nora Ephron is being hailed as a genius for her brilliant idea to rewrite the script. (CC is not at all a Nora Ephron fan. Nora Ephron's career started with trying to adapt Katharine Hepburn's worst movie into a TV series with Blythe Danner in Hepburn's role and hasn't improved. Since then the highlights of her career have been movies where Meg Ryan decides she doesn't need what she's worked for all her life, she just needs the man she fell in love with ten minutes ago. Barf.) Anyway, the producers knew they wanted to do a Bewitched movie. But the 1950's style homemaker witch thing just wasn't working.

So they tell Nora Ephron about it, she goes home, and the next day she has a plot idea:

A producer remaking the sitcom "Bewitched" hires a beautiful unknown to play the lead role. And get this..she's a real witch with actual magic powers.

Brilliant, Nora Ephron! You're such a genius!

OK, if you're reading this, and you really are on the "Nora Ephron is a genius" bus, there's a movie you've just GOT to see.

Shadow of the Vampire.

Picture it: Transylvania. 1921. Director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) sets out to make Nosferatu, the "most authentic" vampire movie of all time. He drags the whole cast out to a rundown castle, where they meet Max Shreck (Willem Dafoe) the man who will play ""Count Orlock," the vampire. The movie's premise is that Max Shreck was a vampire.

(Item: Have you ever seen a picture of the real Max Schreck? He's the scariest looking bastard ever. I find it a lot easier to believe that he was a vampire than I do that that a guy like that was a movie star.)

He starts eating the crew, of course, and as the movie plays out is becomes not so much a horror movie as a psycholgical drama and exploration of Murnau's stopping at nothing to create his masterpeice. Murnau is an artist and nothing matters but creating his art. Menawhile, Willem Dafoe is so good as Max Schreck that when they show bits of the 1920's "Nosferatu" you can't tell the difference. His Max Shreck is a tortured creature, an old, decaying vampire who makes us feel his obsession with blood and in one moving scene watches a film of a sunrise with deep poignancy. Both of them are single minded in their persuit of what they want and they both are dealing with the issue of immortality.

Yes, Cary Elwes's German accent has an undeniable "He vas my boyfriendt" quality. But I loved this weird little black comedy of a German expressionist horror movie with lines like:

Our battle, our struggle, is to create art. Our weapon is the moving picture. Because we have the moving picture, our paintings will grow and recede; our poetry will be shadows that lengthen and conceal; our light will play across living faces that laugh and agonize; and our music will linger and finally overwhelm, because it will have a context as certain as the grave. We are scientists engaged in the creation of memory... but our memory will neither blur nor fade.

And Nora Ephron ripped it off for a Nicole Kidman movie.

What a genius.


Ps. Oh, and Salon really hated Shadow of the Vampire.

Boy, she's political all of the sudden

Matt Drudge linked to this.

Me too.

But unlike Drudge, I know it is parody.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

We're next

Ok, I’m not sure about this.

I am normally a big fan of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. But what they’ve done here makes me nervous.

Do I want those punks in Waynesville busted by the FEC for politicking from the pulpit?

Oh yeah.

But I don’t like this.

If it had come down from the FEC, that would be one thing.

But having liberal groups calling for the FEC to bust these guys is asking for conservative groups to come after liberal churches.

That would be us.

Said it before, saying it now. We need to talk about moral principles and let people apply those principles to politics themselves.

Or the next church politics bloggers are mocking will be ours.

----Added the following morning in response to Steve Caldwell's response----

Those rules are for religions.

Not all UUs worship God.

We don't have a single source of authority that everyone goes by, other than one's own experience.

We don't have a creed.

That means that if people want to pretend they don't understand that we are a religion, that's easy to do.

Not having a creed also means that UUism is not in itself in favor of reproductive choice. If most UUs are, fine, but I think the mere fact that almost everyone even WITHIN the religion forgets this distinction speaks to my point.

I think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Long-term, I'm not sure there is an upside to using liberal politics as a recruiting tool. Even if it increases our sheer numbers, which I don't think it always does as I've observed that activist types usually leave the moment the church stops making their pet issue a main focus, as congregational decisions are made by majority vote, recruiting people who are here for the politics rather than being here for the religion can only serve to dilute the religion as those people who came for the politics vote to put more and more congregational resources toward politics. Eventually, the people who really want religion may leave.

And our pulpits are partisan at times. I've been in services where the sermon complained about the Republicans in Congress. Joel has been in one where the minister said that if you thought someone could be a good person and a Republican, you were wrong.

People don't know what the rules are and they break them all the time. But we should be holding ourselves to an even tighter standard than the rules.

From an FEC standpoint, from a recruiting standpoint and from a creating a worship service that doesn't have a "Gee, people who think exactly like me sure are nifty" sort of tone standpoint, political issues from the pulpit is a terrible idea.

UUs are smart. Talk about the moral issue and we will get the idea. If you can't frame the question as a moral issue, why are you talking about it in church?


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Yeah, yeah... It's on UPN... But don't judge.

Good things about the Veronica Mars season finale:

1. Fire. Lots of fire. SO many shows need season finales with someone trapped in a burning refrigerator. Like The Apprentice. Seriously kids, the action sequences kicked ass and the stuff that was supposed to be scary was. (Shot of killer’s eyes in rearview mirror made CC think: “The call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!”)

2. Veronica has a Sidekick 2 (brand new. I’m a cellphone geek. She had a Nokia flip phone in previous episodes), but it broke when she really needed it. Only Tmobile customers can appreciate the realism there.

3. The paternity test scene. Wow.

4. (a) I didn’t call who the killer was, (b) but it all made sense and the clues were there. A+B=Very unusual. And I watch A LOT of mysteries.

Bad things about the Veronica Mars season finale

1. Ok, so Logan is left drunk, standing on a bridge, about to be attacked by a biker gang. Memo to VM’s creator Rob Thomas: I’m going to watch season two, you know. You don’t have to be so ham-handed about it.
2. Mac wasn’t in this one. We need Mac, the nerdy, chubbyish, smartypants brunette who found out she was switched at birth and her real parents are wealthy intellectuals. She needs to be in more episodes. Way more episodes. No reason…

But seriously. That was the best hour of Buffy-like television since season three of Buffy.

I’m not giving any spoilers here because VM almost got cancelled. You people need to watch for yourselves.

Who know that you, at this moment, could be reading one of many fine minister blogs if you wanted profundity, so she assumes that y’all are here for reasonably sharp wiseass writing and a somewhat unusual take on the world. Which suggests that there are potential Veronica Mars fans in my readership.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Sabina Fallacy

Explained this CC-invented term to a friend the other day, and now I am presenting it for the edification of the viewing public:

The Sabina Fallacy a system of misguided thinking held by a person dating/marrying someone who treats others badly that allows the Obvious Future Victim to believe that though schnookums may have behaved badly in the past, he/she would NEVER treat OFV this way.

If you hear someone say “Well, yeah, she got her last boyfriend arrested for stalking, then sat outside his dorm room for two hours so he couldn’t leave without violating the restraining order, but she wouldn’t do that to me. Things between US are different.”

Or “Well, yes, she does scream at her adult son for minor things in front of dinner parties all the time, but she would never humiliate me like that because, well, I can’t articulate WHY, she just wouldn’t.”

Or “Sure, his last five wives died mysteriously, but I still can’t wait to be wife number six!”

Then just smack the OFV upside the head.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Religion and Politics just shouldn't mix, kids.

A church that should lose its tax exempt status.


CC gets her Bach on

The appalling thing is, it all started with a ringtone.

I got a new cell phone, a big deal in my life in that the CSO is what Malcom Gladwell would consider a technology maven, so such things are huge decisions for us. (FWIW, it’s a Blackberry 7100t. I loved my sidekick 1, but the sidekick 2 just looks too much like a handheld video game.) My dream cellphone ringtone has always been the do-do-do-do do-do-do-do bit from Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner, so I looked for that but they didn’t offer it. So I stuck it on a noise like a ringing phone and forgot about it.

Wednesday night is the CSO’s night playing cards with his buddies, so I usually take my sweet time getting home. I decided to stop at Tyson’s Corner mall (the local two story, five department store mall that happens to be on my way home.) I often mallwalk for awhile on Wednesdays and then get a plate of pad thai.

My allergies are still giving me problems, it looks like I may not make it to GA after all and work has been a lot of pressure, so I was a bit low. Actually, a bit low is about my usual state.

Walking through the mall, I got a work call and realized that I should pick a new ringtone. I scanned through my choices. Tmobile always had funky 70s-style ringtones, but I didn’t like any of them. I kept scanning, stopping on BachFugueDminor.

I played it and found myself actually listening.

Shit, that was good music.

Ok, the people who are already Bach fans are like, duh, at this point, but I swear it was like I’d never heard Bach before. I wanted to just lie down and listen to it.

It will probably help to explain that the ChaliceDad was a child prodigy musician who was Amal in the Houston Opera’s “Amal and the Night Visitors” as a little kid. He went to Interlochen and though he doesn’t really do anything musical right now, is a man who knows what he likes when it comes to music.

And he imposed classical music on me for my entire childhood.

It didn’t work. I have no taste when it comes to music. For my entire life, classical music was background. It was Charlie Brown’s teacher talking, it was just there. My father took my to concerts and played classical music constantly and I never understood it. I didn’t like it, it was just torture.

But suddenly, somehow, standing in the mall on Wednesday, I heard a Bach ringtone.

So I went to Sam Goody.

And I got myself a Bach CD. After some consideration, I picked up an 8-CD set of “The World’s Greatest Masterpeices.”

Twenty bucks.

That the height of human musical achievement might be twenty bucks seemed impossible, but I thought it would be a good introduction.

And it has been.

I don’t know why it is that suddenly I can hear classical music. It all ran together before and suddenly the difference between Bach and Chopin is as obvious as the difference between Green Day and Nickelback. I just know.

It’s like that scene in Pretty Woman where Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts to the opera and she cries because she gets it. I think I’m starting to get it.

I know different orchestras play these pecies different ways, and I know that I have only even begun to see the surface, but goodness it has felt like a significant two days.

I haven’t had the guts to tell the ChaliceDad yet.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The last word on the runaway bride

Well worth viewing the little commercial to read.


Please tell me this will show up on Snopes

Lame, just lame.


17 things about the ChaliceWedding

Various people have been decrying the bigass modern wedding. Well, the CSO and I just did one November 27 and we had the time of our lives. Here’s how it went:

1. The ceremony was held, after some debate on the issue, at the
ChaliceParents' church, a gorgeous gothic Cathedral right outside
Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. Having a humanist wedding in a
Presbyterian church took a bit of doing, but we managed it.
2. Katy-the-Wise officiated, naturally.
3. Katy couldn't fly in until the day of due to preparations for the Conference on the Free Church, so CC ran the rehearsal
herself. Thanks to her trusty copy of "Miss Manners on Weddings," she
only had to say "Has anybody ever been to a wedding before? How does
THIS happen?" once.
4. The script of the ceremony is below. Instead of flowers, the
Bridesmaids carried candles because CC had observed in a Presbyterian
Christmas Eve service as a child that people carrying fire look like
they are doing serious business and she wanted her bridesmaids to have
this look.
5. Less than an hour before the ceremony, CC was barefoot and in jeans
setting up place cards for the reception. She had to be marched
upstairs by the photographer to dress, but the ceremony still started
on time.
5a. The CSO had instructed the photographer to feel free to get pictures of CC changing into her wedding gown. A picture of CC holding the gown up to cover her breasts with a “Wouldn’t it be awful if someone THREW ME IN THE POOL? Please don’t THROW ME IN THE POOL? AH! This big handsome guy is THROWING ME IN THE POOL! I’m going to get my WHITE T-SHIRT WET!” sort of expression of lusty mock consternation made for the best bride picture, though for some reason the ChaliceMom prefers the one of CC in the church with the stained glass windows behind her.
6. CC carried a large bunch of white roses purchased at Costco the day
of the wedding. We're not a floral couple, the CSO and me.
7. The maid of honor carried a big candelabra because she thought it
would look cool. But she hadn't carried it in the rehearsal, so the
bridesmaid who took it when CC handed off the bouquet didn't know how
heavy it was and nearly fell over when the maid of honor handed it to
her. No wedding photos caught this, but the maid of honor swears it
was hilarious.
8. There were five bridesmaids because CC has lots of important people
in her life. There were five groomsmen because the CSO does too. CC
bought a bazillion yards of ice blue silk Dupioni and mailed it out
to the bridesmaids, who each had a dress made that looked good on
9. CC bought ice blue and indigo crystal necklaces made by a friend
for all of the bridesmaids and herself, but had a fight with the
friend a month before the wedding and didn't wear hers in the
ceremony. How very mature.
10. Katy-the-wise sent CC a huge list of ceremony elements with some
12 introductions, 10 sets of vows, etc. CC and the CSO picked what
they liked and got it approved by Katy. No one else saw the ceremony
before the wedding.
11. The readings were selected by the people who read them, though Joe
asked for a list of suggestions and Don ended up writing his.
12. Seven ministers were invited, three attended.
13. Though CC was escorted down the aisle by her father, both parents
of both bride and groom blessed the union. Nobody got given away.
14. The organist was a music librarian from the library of congress
and kicked complete ass.
15. At the reception, guests ate salmon and chicken, CC and the CSO east coast swung to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” CC and the ChaliceDad Viennese Waltzed to “Tales from the Vienna Wood,” there were toasts and a cake-cutting and CC tossed the bouquet. CC had seated two of her high school teachers with her current co-workers and her boss told her later that the teachers had mentioned that they were a bit disappointed that the unconventional CC had taken such a traditional approach to getting married. That CC just wanted to show that the Chalicefamily could do one rite of passage like normal people will not be surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for longer than, oh, the last two posts.
16. The reception was winter-themed. The room was decorated in Ice blue and indigo and the cake was shaped like an iceberg and had little wooden penguins on it, with a penguin bride and groom at the top who were wearing little paperclip glasses. The cake was only enough for 25 and we had a variety of types of cake in addition. The CSO painted the penguins himself as they were actually owls made of gourds.
17. Instead of Jordan Almonds, CC and the CSO had a pair of Alpaca Mittens at every place setting for favors. CC got a deal on them online and in the weeks leading up to the wedding greatly enjoyed complaining that her wedding favors were held up in Brazil.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The ChaliceWedding

Since Scott at Boy in the Bands is talkin' wedding, I thought I'd post the script from mine.

Yep, she's a humanist.

It is one of life's richest surprises when the accidental meeting of two lives leads them to proceed together along the common path of husband and wife, and it is one of life's finest experiences when a casual relationship grows into a permanent bond of love. This meeting and this growth bring us together today.

Members of the families of both the bride and groom are here today being constant in their love for these two people before us.

Gary and Carolyn, will you pledge the goodwill of these families to this couple, and will you present your daughter Suzyn, for marriage to Ian?

I will.

Leigh and Barry, will you pledge the goodwill of these families to this couple, and will you present your son Ian, for marriage to Suzyn?

I will.

We are gathered here to unite in the bonds of matrimony two persons, who in mutual love and trust, have resolved to unite their lives that they may better accomplish our great human task of complete and noble living.

The ceremony which we are about to perform will not unite you in marriage. Only you can do that. The union which you are here about to publicly formalize is not a casual one, and not one to be taken lightly, but one of the most important into which you will ever enter. If the relationship between two people which is symbolized in our culture by the state of marriage does not already exist between you, this ceremony will not create it. This ceremony is the public announcement of the existence of that bond. The state or the church can but give its recognition to the bond between you -- they have no power to create it. As you give public announcement to the existence of the bond uniting you by means of the ceremony which we are about to perform, be ever mindful that you -- not an official, not the state, not the public -- created this marriage.

Pam Case:

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.

Joe Harris:

When two individuals meet, so do two private worlds. None of our private worlds is big enough for us to live a wholesome life in. We need the wider world of joy and wonder, of purpose and venture, of toil and tears. What are we, any of us, but strangers and sojourners forlornly wandering through the night time until we draw together and find the meaning of our lives in one another, dissolving the fears in each others courage, making music together and lighting torches to guide us through the dark? We belong together. Love is what we need. To love and to be loved. Let our hearts be open' and what we would receive from others, let us give. For what is given still remains to bless the giver -- when the gift is love.

-A. Powell Davies

Don Cooper:

I knew some time ago that Ian and Suzyn expected me to contribute a reading to their wedding. Although I looked extensively for a suitable one, I couldn’t find one that matched well what I wanted to say. Last Tuesday evening, Suzyn and Ian saved me the trouble of coming up with a suitable reading. Accidentally, I overheard a discussion between the two of them, both tired after a long day. At first, a voice was raised, partly frustrated and upset. Then the voices quieted, wedding details were sorted out between the two of them, plans and assignments were changed. Their voices grew more comfortable, and there were laughing and happy exchanges between them. By the time Ian came into the bedroom where I have been staying to check a detail, I realized something fundamental about what I had just overheard.
During the years that Suzyn and Ian have been together, they have learned to work together, to play together, and to love one another. They have made a marriage. Today, we, among their friends, coworkers, teachers, relatives, and other members of their human community, have assembled to wish them joy in the marriage that they have created.

A marriage ceremony does not create a relationship; it only recognizes what has already developed. We are here today, then, to celebrate the love which Suzyn and Ian have for each other, and to give social recognition to their decision to accept each other totally. Into this state of marriage, these two people have come to be united.

Ian, will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in marriage; will you love her, comfort her, honor her and keep her, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?

I will.

Suzyn, will you have this man to be your husband, to live together in marriage; will you love him, comfort him, honor him and keep him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?

I will.

What shall be the token of this pledge?

Groom: This ring. With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.

Bride: This ring. With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.

Let the love, patience and craftsmanship which tamed these rings serve as a model for your marriage. Let these rings be an outward expression of your inner affection, and may these rings ever be a reminder of the past, a devotion to the present, and a confidence in the future.

Out of this tangled world two souls have found each other; a mutual love has drawn them firmly together; and, joining in marriage, they have pledged each to the other their faith. Their destinies shall now be woven of one design, and their perils and their joys shall not be known apart. As they increase in mutual understanding, may their joy stand victoriously against the storm of circumstances which beats impartially at all people's doors. From the rich encouragement of their affection may they complete the unfinished patterns of their true selves. Even as they have chosen each other from the world's multitudes, so let the days and years, now veiled by time, deepen the joy of that choice, and make it abidingly true.

Forasmuch as you have made your mutual pledges, and have given and received rings in token of the same, I, by virtue of the authority vested in me, pronounce you husband and wife. May all that is noble, lovely and true abide with you forever.

(I’ll leave appropriate wording to Katy)

Nothing else matters much --
not wealth, nor learning,
nor even health --
without this gift:
the spiritual capacity to keep
zest in living.

This is the creed of creeds,
the final deposit and distillation
of all human faith:

That we should be able to believe in life.

Various thoughts on crime

What's up with CC's brother?

A few people at the blog con asked. (Which is not at all a problem, after all, I brought it up.)

Jason will have to go to jail for six months unless the ChaliceMom writes a big check. Knowing her, the check is in the mail already.

Oliver is awaiting arraignment. The minimum punishment in VA runs about 6 years, but he thinks he can get around it. Of course, that sort of person thinks he can get around a lot of stuff.

By far the worst part for me is the impact on the ChaliceMom. Both because it has depressed her and because she has adopted a sort of "He may have told US he did thing A, but the lawyers might not be able to PROVE IT. How can we help him get away with as much as possible?" mindset more suited to a reasonable-doubt-for-a-reasonable-fee-defense-lawyer than CC's earliest source of moral authority.

Still, she's the kid's mom so perhaps it is unreasonable to expect anything different.

Latest Clip.

Has anybody figured out the motive for the crimes in The Night that the Lights Went out in Georgia?

I never have.


I wrote to a friend recently, saying of something his ex-wife used to say "It's a measure of her rhetorical skill that she can make a statement so brief that's annoying on so many levels."

That's about how I feel about these letters.