Thursday, November 30, 2006

Terminal Uniqueness is thrust upon CC

A few days ago, I was talking to one of my friends, who happens to be a Christian, about how I was feeling blue. I explained that I feel blue often during the Christmas season* It's not seasonal affective disorder. It's this holiday. I really don't like Christmas.

"Well, of course you don't," she said, her voice the tiniest bit snippy. "You don't have any reason to."

I probably shouldn't have been, but I was a little bit appalled to hear it that way. She gave me significant crap about it when I became a UU, but I thought we were kinda past that. Guess not.

I thought about explaining the "Christmas as a celebration of that Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men** concept," but didn't.

Perhaps it would have been worth saying "Actually, it's not the lack of a savior that's the issue or Easter might well depress me, too. My beef is more the enforced cheer and family togetherness aspects. Christmas with my folks and brothers isn't exactly a great time and hanging out with a happy family around the holidays is fun, but at the end of the night, I often feel like Scrooge standing out in the snow, watching the Crachits celebrate together inside."

I didn't bother to say any of those things, though. I just changed the subject


*Though I generally don't write about feeling sad much as reading a depressed person's blogging doesn't even sound fun to ME.

**Because I know LinguistFriend is going to read this, I feel I have to mention that I know the "Goodwill toward men" bit is a misquotation and the phrase in the properly-translated bible isn't nearly so inclusive or loving. But UUs can still celebrate "Goodwill toward" everybody, and we often do.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One more reason to read's GA coverage

Somebody might be insulting you there.

This is a little late to be bitching about this, I realize, but I just found out about it tonight when Jamie Goodwin was kind enough to point to a June 24 UU World article where Doug Muder accuses me of "spreading gossip" because I wrote about discussion in the plenary about how the delegates were unhappy with the Global Warming resolution.

Doug doesn't spread gossip, so he didn't write about it. Other than to snottily suggest that Philo knows what he's talking about and I'm spreading gossip when I write about the same damn thing.

Yeah, it was gossip, you see, because only the select few thousand of us who showed up to the plenary and/or treated GA like the meeting of an association were in on it.

As someone who apparently had better things to do than, you know, vote, Doug couldn't be bothered to attend the plenary, so I guess he wouldn't know that this "gossip" he's talking about was discussed for several hours of an open meeting. I'm figuring he thinks I must be getting these hot tips from someplace else. I guess he assumes that when the folks who want the UUA to lobby harder for government-imposed environmental regulations need someone to talk about their next move with, they call up good ol' CC.

That's, you know, how I get all the gossip. I'm in the GA hippie inner circle.

Uh huh.


Oh, what the hell, one more Wal*Mart story

Even I am tiring of this topic, FWIW. But sometimes an example of what I'm talking about comes along and proves so good as to be irresistable.

Accroding to this newspaper editorial, John Edwards righteously refused to give a reading of his new book at evil ol' Wal*Mart that treats its employees so badly, choosing instead to read at a nearby middle-class-approved Barnes & Noble.

Why do I care?

Because that Barnes & Noble starts it's employees at $7.00 per hour.

The Wal*Mart starts at $7.50.

Could somebody tell me again about how dislike of Walmart is based on concern for the underpaid workers?

I'm sorry, it is all about pandering for the votes of middle class people who think Wal*Mart is tacky and, consciously or not, use "The poor don't know what's best for them, we do" as an excuse to keep that big ugly store out of their backyards.

who doesn't want a big ugly Wal*Mart in her backyard either, of course, but is at least honest with herself about why.

Veronica Mars is so damn good. (Spoiler to last night's episode)

Last week's episode had Patty Hearst as a guest star.

This week, we find out that the solution to the mystery at the center of the story arc involved Stockholm syndrome.

It's the best, most thoughtfully written show on TV, kids. Seriously.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"We even use a plastic baby!"

Here's a funny news story about how people at PETA read that a church in Alaska was having a "living nativity," assumed that animals must be involved and started bothering the church about it on that flimsy justification.

For the record, there aren't animals involved. The animals in the church's "Living Nativity" are played by people and puppets.

CC played a sheep in a play when she was in the fifth grade.

Lucky we didn't get a letter.


Vote in Chutney's "most Influential Living Unitarian" poll

But please don't vote for me.


New UU blog

I used to be better about searching up new UU blogs to mention to my readers, but I've been falling down on the job recently.

Anyway, I'd like to welcome Comrade Kevin to the UU blogosphere.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

CC reviews The Big Shuffle

First off, I have to agree with just about everything Ms. Kitty says here One of her points is that the UU character seems a lame stereotype of a UU who enjoys protesting and getting arrested, but never seems to get anything accomplished that actually helps anybody. Robin notes in the comments "Unfortunately any "charicature" or stereotype is usually based on a certain amount of truth. There are lots of shallow U*Us who talk the talk but fail or refuse to walk the walk. . . and not just when it comes to social justice"

He's right, of course. But Ms. Kitty's point isn't that stereotypes can't be true*. It's that writing about stereotypes usually doesn't make for great writing. This book also has a gay guy who has an antique store, loves to cook and sings show tunes all the time. There are certainly lots of gay men who enjoy those things. But what's more interesting is when she writes against type and has characters with quirks that differ from the expected ones. The minister who hosts a poker game that the players call the "Building and Grounds committee" is a nice touch. As is the town bookie, who turns out to be a devoted family man delighted that his grandson is winning creative writing prizes. Even the gay guy turning the local girl scout troop into a finishing school of sorts is pretty funny. Because it differs from the stereotype.

The plot has Hallie returning from college to care for her eight younger siblings after the death of her father. Her biological family ends up getting a great deal of help from the family of friends she has put together in the previous two books. (I am typically a sucker for "family of friends" plots, FWIW.)

As seems to be the standard for this series, the minor characters are much better written and more interesting than the major ones, though the major ones have improved a lot.

I agree with Ms. Kitty that it is a shame that the author feels the need to lighten up the mood so much with inappropriate banter. (Of course some people are like that about death. An author could write characters being silly after a death as an expression of obvious grief. The Mary Tyler Moore episode with the funeral of Chuckles the Clown, an example Pederson even has a character mention in the book, is a really good example of that and Pederson is going for a similar feeling. But Pederson's characters are not Mary Tyler Moore and their kidding doesn't feel like grief, but just bare and appalling tackiness in the face of tragedy.)

When Pederson lets her characters grieve, the results can be wonderful. The scene after the father's funeral where Bernard has to guide Hallie through the motions of the social ritual of the post-funeral reception, is spectacular. It's pity Pederson doesn't trust her characters a little bit more and let them feel their emotions. It would make them more complex and more sympathetic.

The nitpicker in me points out that there are a lot of timing issues in this series. Hallie pickes up how to run a household almost immediately, something I'm still working on at 28 and without kids, but Italian immigrant Ottavio has learned very little English in his two years in America surrounded totally by English speakers. (I knew several people in college who spent a summer in a European country and came back sounding more or less fluent.)

On the whole, each book has been better than the last. I'm doubting PR guy will contact me about the last book in the series, but I may well pick it up and review it anyway when it comes out as I'd like to see if the writing improves still more.


*I recall reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles early in high school and thinking of the "Somewhat insecure older chap sedecues trusting young woman and then leaves her heartbroken" plot as total cheesy melodrama. Then I saw it happen to half my friends.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Big Shuffle review ought to be done tomorrow

For now, go read what Ms. Kitty had to say about it

The two stereotypical gay guys play a much smaller role in this book so far, which is a good thing, because as I neared the end of the last book I was saying to myself "If I have to read about ONE MORE person, place or thing being compared to Ethel Merman, I'm going to start screaming and never stop."

Full review tomorrow.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Jeezum crow, it looks like Caligula had dinner here.

Turkey-Excellent. Grass-fed is absolutely the way to go. Most tender and moist turkey I've ever had.
Steamed Green Beans garnished with dried cranberries- Delish. I'm going to make those every year.
Sweet Potatoes brushed with olive oil and curry powder--a little heavy with the reast of the meal. I think next year I'll just do a second steamed veggie.
Cranberry mousse-OK, but I didn't stir it enough or it settled oddly. Either way, it had this weird layered thing going on.
Ambrosia-Perfect, but theChaliceRelative's ambrosia always is. (It's all citrus and coconut, none of that weird marshmellow stuff.)
Jambalaya stuffing-The Chalicemom's specialty.
Fruit tart from Wegmans--Really good.
Pumpkin pie-Proved how unevenly our small oven cooks. But still, it was my first pumpkin pie, and I made the crust too, so that the biggest problem it had was uneven cooking speaks well for next time.

Once I had everything on the table, I said "So, we've got coke, diet coke, cranberry juice, water, skim milk, chardonnay and ginger ale. But I'm going to have a gin gimlet."

"I'll take a gimlet," the Chalicerelative calls out.

"Me, too!" My mother says.

My father also grunts his assent.

Can't pretend I'm adopted.

So I make the drinks and try mine. It'

Crooking an eyebrow at my brother Jason, who has made my liquor disappear before, I go sniff the gin bottle, which has been half full for awhile. I'm usually a whiskey drinker in the winter, I'd just run out of whiskey last week and not bought any more. But the gin bottle absolutely no longer contains gin. At some point over the last few months, my gin has been stolen and replaced with water.


Bet that didn't happen at your Thanksgiving.

who suspects Chalicesseurs are hip enough to know that a Gin Gimlet made with water instead of gin is basically really strong limeade, so the drinks were still pretty good, but jeez...

Ps. The styrofoam cups on the table are Jason's fault, too.

People who are way ahead of CC in the Thanksgiving department

include Peacebang, every one in my office (all of whom had started yesterday) and the future Mrs. LinguistFriend.

And probably everybody else in the world.

Ah well. We're eating at 8 because Jason has to work, so I'm not to worried about things. I have more cleaning than cooking to do. The cranberry mousse is started and the sweet potatoes are ready to go in the oven.

I've only had to make one "um... how do you work a vegetable steamer?" call to my Smart friend Pam, which is a good record for me. Actually not setting my napkin on fire in the middle of dinner would be an improvement on last year.

Oh, and we're sneaking out to the Jame Bond movie in a little bit.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006


CC is peevish tonight. Perhaps it's that I'm anticipating the cooking stresses of tomorrow.

And it's almost midnight and I'm very much awake.

That's my excitement.

Somebody say something entertaining.

beginning to wonder if her yearly Christmas bad mood is starting a little early.

The Coolest Thing Ever

A baby elephant in the womb

who stole the pic from National Geographic's online exhibition of baby animals in the womb.

Could someone explain this to CC?

In our building the doors to the stairwell lock behind you automatically. They aren't unlocked except at the basement level. No level is accessible from the stairwell except the basement.

Thus, you must take the elevator if you want to go upstairs.

According to this sign, fire regulations require this. But that doesn't make any sense to me.

Let's say there's a fire on the third floor. Somebody on the fifth floor tries to evacuate. He heads down thr stairs, but two floors below there's a fire. All the doors above him are locked. Now this guy is stuck in the stairwell where I'm guessing he's far more likely to die from the smoke.

Why would fire regulations ALLOW such a thing, to say nothing of requiring it?

What am I missing?


CC reviews Heart's Desire

Heart's Desire, the sequal to Beginner's Luck, does represent a big improvement, especially when it comes to characterization. Perhaps part of it is that most of the Stockton family's wackiness was revealed in the first book, and author Laura Pederson wisely doesn't feel the need to create any more quirks.

Despite this, Heart's Desire does retain the manufactured feel of Beginner's Luck in many respects. The plots seem less like real problems and more like stage business for the amusing characters. Hallie's quest to lose her virginity, yet discomfort every time she has the chance, seems logical enough if not terribly interesting. Her belief that her desire for sex makes her a sex maniac is familiar, though I felt that way at thirteen and seventeen-year-old Hallie seems a little old to be that sheltered.

She also spends the summer trying desperately to earn money*, bemoaning the fact that she won't be able to go to school unless she gets $10,000 somehow. Meanwhile, her legal guardians spend much of the book collapsing into Heppelwhite chairs and talking about their expensive doodads. It's not that Hallie is too proud to take money from them, as far as I can tell the subject never even comes up, or if it does and I missed it, it certainly isn't a big point. I'm sorry, if I loved a college age kid and saw her struggling to get the money for her education, I'd sell a couple of oriental carpets and an antique vase or two and let her go. At one point, the alcoholic monkey goes on a rampage and destroys thousands of dollars in antiques. It doesn't even occur to Hallie that what the monkey destroyed could have paid for her schooling, a detail that struck me as quite unrealistic.

Several plots resolve themselves by someone "off screen" changing his/her mind about something important for insufficient-sounding reasons. The reader hears about the climactic decision after the fact, and sometimes in a convoluted way. It's not even Deus Ex Machina, it's more like Deus-Ex-What-Just-Happened?

Miss Kitty mentioned in the comments that the third book is OK. From the book jacket, my guess is that she's right, particularly since it sounds like it has a darker tone. Humor is not this author's thing. Almost none of the banter sounds natural and most of the jokes are extremely tired. But some of the dramatic scenes were quite good and kept me reading.

Olivia's still the only Unitarian in the book as far as I recall. She's still the stereotyped church social justice lady. Jokes about how UUs aren't religious are still old.

I should emphasize that the minor characters are quite well-drawn and seem reasonable and interesting, Hallie's poker group especially.

On Friday, I will review the last book in the series so far.


*TheCSO pointed out that if a girl really wants to lose her virginity and earn money the same summer, something can often be worked out. Don't worry, I hit him with the book.

Monday, November 20, 2006

CC reviews Beginner's Luck

Laura Pederson's novel Beginner's Luck has given me new faith in the publishability of my own work.

First, a bit of background. Last week, a PR chap emailed me and asked me if I'd like to review a book with some Unitarians in it. Sure, I said. Turns out it's a trilogy, and he offered to send me the whole thing. I'm only actually asked to review the third, but I will review all of them, since I don't like to start a series in the middle so I'm reading them anyway. I will try to post those reviews Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week.

The plot is solid enough and did keep me reading. It centers around Hallie, a sixteen-year-old gambling aficionado who drops out of school, runs away from home and ends up living in this house full of loveable eccentrics and doing their yard work for them. The minor characters' reactions to all of this are all reasonable, which makes the level of narrative tone-deafness exhibited in the characterization of the main characters all the more puzzling.

As this book is the story of a high-school senior told from her perspective, it took me a while to figure out whether the immaturity to the writing was intentional. Lots of things didn't quite ring true, but that could have been a narrative device of some sort to show the immaturity of the narrator.

But there are just too many places where the adults sound strangely like teenagers. and vice versa. After we've met the wacky old lady and the two gay men, who fall predictably into "Will" and "Jack" fictional gay guy archetypes, the "Will" gay guy whose name is "Gil" actually says, in an apparent attempt to justify himself to a sixteen-year-old whom he's just met, "I'm the normal one here," later adding that nobody else in the house typically knows what day it is.

I just can't see anybody over the age of twelve feeling so insecure that they would say such a thing about their own family to a total stranger, and Gil is clearly intended to be the family's voice of reason.

For another example, the Olivia, the old lady, writes pornography and once cheerfully interrupts the conversation to ask if anybody knows a good synonym for "pussy."
I had two reactions to this:


2. That's just not a realistic question. I have written pornography before. I have never needed to ask that question. Having an unusual term for a body part is not sexy, it's distracting. And if I did ask for a synonym, I would ask it including some context. We all use different words from time to time, but for fiction purposes, a man who says "vagina," a man who says "pussy," and a man who says "snatch" have three very different views of that body part and one might suspect women in general.

The main adult characters all have a Royal-Tennenbaums-esque wacky-by-design quality to them. I've read lots of books with eccentrics in them that handle eccentricity better than Beginner's Luck does. Auntie Mame and A Confederacy of Dunces' main character Ignatius J. Reilly spring immediately to mind. A Confederacy of Dunces might be one of the greatest books in modern literature so perhaps any comparison to that is unfair, but even in Auntie Mame, the characters seemed real. As theatrical as Auntie Mame is, she never feels forced and you never feel that she has a certain quality just because the reader might find it amusing.

Olivia has an alcoholic pet chimpanzee.

In places, it almost feels like the characters themselves are imagining the movie version.

The main character Hallie runs away from home without even really considering that people would worry about her. Her character in general has an odd coldness to her that makes her hard to feel for, though my impression is that I'm supposed to find her sympathetic. Also, she uses a gambling metaphor every other sentence for the first third of the book, then stops almost completely for awhile, then starts again somewhat toward the end. Gambling goes from her passion to her hobby awfully quickly and with little explanation.

So far, the Unitarianism in the series is pretty mild and is more or less treated as one more quirky thing about Olivia. Her character is clearly her church's resident old lady who does tons of social justice work, which is reasonable enough. I've never been to a UU church that didn't have one. There are a lot of UUism one liners of the "Yes, we have no religion" variety. They don't offend me, but they aren't very interesting or original, either.

If I had written this book, I would have said to myself, "it's not bad, but it's not ready for primetime, either" and not even have looked for an agent, figuring that I should use what I've learned from my first novel to write my next one. That's what I did with the novel I wrote last spring. But I'm starting to reconsider that if this Beginner's Luck book is actually publishable.

All that said, judging by the comments at Amazon I linked to above, this book's following is enthusiastic and passionate among people who like this sort of thing. To them I'd reccomend Ferrol Sams' Run with the Horseman series as I think it takes some similar ideas and does more interesting things with them.

Also, this is the first book of a trilogy. Maybe the author has learned some lessons and will apply them to the next book and it will be better.

I'll let you know on Wednesday.


John Edward's Kid: Living Proof that there are Two Americas

You know, I was about to just let this go. A few days ago, I got my hands on a copy of the world’s most sanctimonious press release from Wal*Mart, trumpeting that for all John Edwards’ crap about the evils of Wal*Mart, one of Edwards’ staffers tried to jump in line to get the Senator a Playstation 3 from Wal*Mart.

Yeah, it was pretty blogworthy, but again, this was the most sanctimonious press release ever and my tolerance for such things is low.

Then I read a little bit more on the incident. Jeff Taylor at Reason writes what I’d like to think I would have about Edwards the Wal*Mart shopper in the context of Edwards’ previous statements on the company.

That got me curious, so I started hunting around for other commentary on Edward’s statements

From the AP story:

“Edwards, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2004, spoke Wednesday to supporters of union-backed on a conference call launching the group's holiday season campaign to pressure Wal-Mart for better labor standards.

In the call, he repeated a story about his son Jack disapproving of a classmate buying sneakers at Wal-Mart. "If a 6-year-old can figure it out, America can definitely figure this out," Edwards said.

For the record, John Edwards, six year old kids do not buy sneakers at Walmart.

Their parents do.

I, for one, wouldn’t buy my theoretical kid’s clothes at Wal*mart because the clothes at Wal*mart are, on the whole, fugly.

My guess is two kinds of parents buy their kids sneakers from Wal*mart:

1. Poor parents who can’t afford to do otherwise.
2. Stingy parents who (one hopes) don’t realize that little kids are brutal to each other over such things.

When I was in elementary school there was a kid whom the other kids called “K-mart Kid” because her single mom bought her cheap clothes.

Kmart Kid is now 30 and doing cool stuff in the Physics department at a University in Colorado.

But I doubt she has forgotten what she went through.

Linguist Friend has written before about his gay son, and I think mentioned that when his son was six, a friend of LF’s predicted that the son was going to grow up to be gay.

My early prediction? This Edwards kid is going to grow up to be an asshole. And even if we believe everything the Edwards campaign has said about how the Edwards had no idea the staffer buying his Christmas presents was going to use Walmart, Daddy’s pride in his son's self-righteousness leaves little question where kiddo gets it from.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Umm... That's really disturbing

I have XM radio. One of the lovely things about XM is that you can program in your favorite songs and it will tell you whenever one of them is playing on one of XM's hundreds of channels. My selections are pretty varied. I have the Eels and Radiohead and Sophie B. Hawkins, but also showtunes from Avenue Q and the Judds singing "Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain." (I defy you to listen to that song without feeling slightly better about the world.)

And, yes, one of my songs is Bowling for Soup's recent hit High School Never Ends. The weird thing is because XM tells me anytime it is playing anywhere on their network, I hear this song on the adult channels AND the different version that plays on the Disney channel.

So the adult version sings
The whole damn world is just as obsessed
with who's the best dressed and who's having sex

And the Disney version is
The whole wide world is just as obsessed
with who's the best dressed and who can impress

Ok, fair enough.

One of the main ideas of the song is that gossiping about celebrities is just as lame as high school kids gossiping about the popular kids, and what makes one a popular kid in high school and a celebrity are similar shallow qualities. The song makes this point by talking about several celebrities as if they are the popular kids being gossiped about.

A joke about "Katie had a baby so I guess Tom's straight" was taken out in the Disney version. Ok, again, fair enough.

But what really gets me is the adult version sings:

"How did Mary Kate lose all that weight?" which is a crack on Mary Kate Olsen's struggle with anorexia.

The Disney version?

"How does Mary Kate always look so great?"

To me, that's not the message we want to be sending on the Disney channell.

I told TheCSO about this and he pointed out that Mary Kate Olsen is a pretty hot property to Disney and the point of the change is likely not to equate anorexia with looking great, but to change a dig at one of Disney's stars into a compliment.

But still...


Notes on my application process.

I t has been a law-school-application-heavy weekend as I'm rushing to get my applications done by my self-imposed deadline of Thanksgiving.

I'm torn on the "Diversity Essay," where several of my schools offer me the chance to write an optional essay about how I contribute to the diversity of the law school. I am loath to not do anyting that the admissions office says I could, but I'm honestly not a terribly diverse person in the demographic sense. I'm a white married chick who grew up above the below and below the upper in a suburb of Washington DC. I'm white, anglo-saxon AND was raised protestant. I am a member of a small and somewhat unusual religion, but UUism's culture isn't so different from the mainstream culture.

I think I will contribute to the diversity of anyplace I am in an intellectual sense, but to submit a diversity essay about that seems like reaching and I don't want my application to come off as desperate. But I could be wrong there. Maybe "intellectual diversity" essays are expected from mainstream white people. Maybe it differs with the school.

I know someone who does admissions work who will know the answer to this and will call her on Monday, but several of my schools could stand to be clearer on the point.

In other news, I called up the Chalicerelative to talk Thanksgiving logistics yesterday.

"So did you get your law school test results back?" She asked.

"Oh yeah, a couple of weeks ago."

"You never told me, you pill," she said. "How did you do?"

"I got a 171, that's 98th percentile."

"Wow!" the Chalicerelative said. "That's amazing, Miss Sue!*"

"I was OK with it."

"I mean that do you so well. I just can't believe it!"

"Well, I did always have a knack for logic stuff."

"Still, how on Earth did you manage to do that well?"

Usually, when someone on my Dad's side of the family wants to compliment my intelligence, they say I'm almost as smart as my father, so I'm sort of used to that line of thinking, but her obviously sincere shock was a lot to take.


*Only the Chalicerelative can call me that. So don't. And don't put "Whatever you want, Miss Sue" in the comments. That's not cute, it's obnoxious.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

OK, that's just gross

In preparation for the long-awaited arrival of our housemates, I am cleaning out the cabinets in the basement apartment where my brother used to live.

And may I say that Aunt Ada Doom (who saw something nasty in the woodshed) ain't got nothin' on me.

Ps. A cookie to anyone who gets that reference.


CC can't sleep, and she thought the whole internet should know.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

“Whoever said ‘laughter is the best medicine’ never had gonorrhea.”

-My Name Is Earl, which theCSO and I watched for the first time last night and really enjoyed.

Slept better, thanks

I didn't intend to imply that my sleeping issues nightmares were connected to my recent lack of emails. Indeed, my sleeping issues have been with me in one form or another for most of my life. I don't write about them often although I did here

These days I'm having less insomnia and more nightmares.

FWIW, I describe a few of them here, hereand here.

(Being able to Google search within one's blog alone is a beautiful thing.)

That said, I DID read Ms. Kitty's post about her activities of yesterday and I did sleep a lot better. Pretty much from midnight through seven a.m., which is about as good as my sleeping typically gets.

So people can feel free to play virtual coworker again today if they like.

It's a cool clear day in Virginia, much nicer than we've had all week. (Seriously kids, I was wanting to build an ark.) Tomorrow morning, I pick up my grass-fed, free-range turkey and start putting togeether the early parts of Thanksgiving dinner. It's going to be a small Thanksgiving this year. Oliver is still in the slammer and we're not having any guests other than my family. If Jason can remain out through Thursday, it will be Jason, the Chalicerelative, my folks, theCSO and me. I'm going to steam my green beans and garnish with dried cranberries this year.

LinguistFriend will stop by on his way up north. He will be here Thanksgiving weekend and I'm especially looking forward to showing him the "Famous UUs" service my church traditionally does the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He'll have to tolerate a family dinner as Jason and Oliver's birthday is the 26th, so I will make another dinner for the same cast of characters plus Linguist Friend. I'm thinking either a pork loin roast or turkey curry with the leftovers.

But enough about me, what's up with y'all?


Thursday, November 16, 2006

So why do people hate Hillary so much?

Normally, I’m the one who explains the more reasonable aspects of conservatism. But this one leaves me totally stumped. A conservative UU blogger has named Hillary “Shrew of the year.” I hear constantly about how unpopular she is and how much people hate her.

Um… Why?

To be honest, I don’t understand hating politicians at all. You can disagree with them, but how can you hate anyone you don’t know? Can “hatred” of a national politician possibly be any less shallow than a Junior High School girl’s “love” of Justin Timberlake?

I go back and forth on understanding when liberals say they hate a politician. I’ve heard liberals say they hate Bush for starting a war we didn’t need that killed people and while I think that’s kind of a waste of emotion, I intellectually understand it. I know someone who often says really angry things about Condoleeza Rice because if she’s a Republican, she must have turned her back on her people. (I think this argument assumes that Condi’s “people” are the poor, and I’ve never heard this person criticize a white Republican for abandoning the white Republican’s people, though the person does have plenty of other critcisms of them so I guess the poor aren’t white people’s people. Y’all can unpack this further for yourselves. I know the person is a well-meaning good person, but I’ve never understood that argument.)

But Hillary? Honestly, she’s a little socially conservative for me. I mean, I’m down with “safe, legal and rare,” but criticizing violent video games is a little too soccer mom a position for my taste. She's weirdly conservative on flag burning, was a little too supoortive of the war in Iraq for me to especially like her. Like Bill, she’s basically a populist and populists tend to believe in legislating behavior. But then so do conservatives. We can’t know what Hill is like as a person. That said, I’m confused by the image of her as this ball-buster, because honestly, ball-busters leave cheating husbands. And I think they raise kids who are more screwed up than Chelsea Clinton, who at least on the surface seems like the best behaved and most stable president’s kid of my lifetime.

I get that Hillary is some sort of symbol for bitchy women, but I don’t quite know what she’s actually done to earn that reputation, particularly since her personal life offers a good deal of evidence to the contrary. Can somebody clue me in?


Be CC's virtual coworker

Linguist Friend and I are virtual coworkers. Every morning we swap emails with lame chitchat about our lives, how we slept, what we're having for dinner and what is going on at our respective offices. What people who are good friends with their coworkers talk about at the water cooler.

He's in Miami at a conference without email and I'm really starting to miss it.

So tell me, how did you sleep? Any plans for the day? Any gossip in your offices?

I didn't sleep well, took a long time to get there and kept waking up. I've been having nightmares recently.

My day looks pretty dull. Lots of monkey work and I haven't figured out what I'm making for dinner. Maybe pork stir-fry.

And the big gossip in my office these days is that one of the partners liked to take his secretary to lunch to talk over business (FWIW, knowing the two folks involved, it is inconcievable it could have been anything dirty) and another secretary said the first secretary was getting special treatment. So now EVERY boss is supposed to take out EVERY secretary for lunch once a month and at least one secretary is openly unhappy about having to go.

Also, the office Christmas party is coming up. It's semi-formal and nobody has anything to wear.

So what's up with you?


PS. Re: America's Next Top Model last night. If I were Tyra Banks, and an African-American girl on my reality show was supposed to kiss a male model, and that male model said he didn't like black girls, I would say "I don't like unprofessional bigots" and fire his ass. I realize that "Kiss him anyway, and make him look like he likes it" is the answer in the real world, but the real world doesn't have challenges where people have to do their own makeup in five minutes and still look like a model.

If your reality show is going to be contrived and unrealistic, I think they should occaisionally use the contrivedness and unrealism to do the right thing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

First-person account from a guy who was in the Borat movie

Earlier this week, Bill Barr wrote about the Borat movie and how predatory the producers had been in the way they used the small European village where they filmed the opening scenes.

Salon had a Pollyanna-ish article about how the Americans in "Borat" mostly thought it was funny and didn't really have a problem with it.

Anyway, Andrew Tobias offers a different American perspective on the issue. Here's Texas hotel manager Borat calls "Vanilla Face" in the movie describing his experience.

who wonders why it is that Girls Gone Wild has been pulling this crap for years, yet even I don't start blogging about it until it is similar behavior in a different sort of movie.

Meg, honey, call me. We’ll go get Chinese.

O k, so I’m reading my UU world and I run across a sentence in Meg Barnhouse's column Good Fortunes that really disturbs me.

“Some people pick their favorite Chinese restaurants by the Bourbon Chicken. In my family, we do it by the fortune cookies”

Ok, this sentiment is all kinds of crazy. We’re a little serious about restaurants here at the Chaliceblog. You don’t choose a restaurant by its lagniappe. For goodness sakes, pick your Chinese place by the food. Or whether it’s convenient to your house. Or the condition of the ladies’ room. But by the fortune cookies? Please. That’s just sorry.

Also, Bourbon chicken? In a Chinese restaurant.


I never even saw Bourbon chicken until I lived in Louisiana. I thought it was strictly a cajun thing. I called in two southern culture consultants with Louisiana backgrounds and they were with me on that one. Bourbon Chicken is way a cajun thing and if a Chiense restaurant is serving it, that restaurant has no interest whatsoever in authenticity and has totally given itself over to southern-fried chinese cooking. One of my southern culture consultants crystallized my thinking in the simple words “If she’s eating bourbon chicken at a Chinese restaurant, she’s going to a Chinese restaurant that's pretty damn crappy.”

So I read the rest of the article, which is essentially about Meg writing her own Rob-Brezney-esque fortunes, a task that obviates picking a restaurant based on fortune cookies, I might point out.

So now, she can pick chinese restaurants with actual good food.

What makes me even sadder is that Meg has totally missed out. A bit of judicious Googling revealed that she is minister of the UU church in Spartanburg. Which means that she lives like an hour and a half from Columbia, SC where one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve ever been to, The Orient, used to be. It was run by a small lady named Louise from Taiwan. If she liked you, the thing to do was go in, refuse the menu and say “Hey, Louise, make me dinner.”

When you let Louise cook you whatever she felt like cooking, the food that resulted was worth spurning ANY fortune cookie for. Sad to say, this place closed a few months ago. I spend every Christmas in the Columbia/Charlotte area and I have no clue what I’m doing Christmas Eve as I’ve had Christmas Eve dinner at the Orient for three straight years.

Anyway, Meg, if you’re reading this, totally call me next time you’re in the vicinity of my hometown of northern charm and southern efficiency. We’ll go get Chinese someplace with octopus on the menu and ducks hanging from the ceiling.

It’ll be yummy, I totally swear.


American Academy of Religion folks

So, who's coming to DC for the AAR meeting?

Want to have dinner some night this week?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Cat Blogging

We gave all four cats a bath this morning.

Esperanto here is the smart cat. She knows that if she hangs out around the erotica collection, nobody's going to throw any more water on her.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The guy I had a crush on when I was seven already has a receding hairline...

But he's also a doctor.

My ten-year high school reunion was fun.

who will likely write about it in more detail later.

The guy I had a crush on when I was seven already has a receding hairline...

But he's also a doctor.

More breaking news from my ten year high school reunion will likely follow.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Little kids often dislike CC

So a coworker has brought her kid in. Kid is coloring pictures of the Disney Princesses.

CC walks up to kid.

"My favorite Disney princess is Belle, because she likes to read and I do, too. Would you color me a picture of Belle so I can put it up at my desk?" CC says

Kid says "No." in exactly the same icy tone she might have used had CC asked her to eat a bug.

And people wonder why I don't reproduce...


Never get involved in a land war in Asia, Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line...

Never try to mug a guy who does sleight-of-hand professionally

It's just that simple, kids.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Quiet few days

Sorry I haven't posted much. After the election, I'm finding myself with surprisingly little to say. I'm glad the Democrats won. I have mixed feelings about Nancy Johnson of Connecticut not getting re-elected. I liked being able to tell people there was a UU Republican in congress, but as she was the author of the largest entitlement program in history (the prescription drug plan) I can't say my Libertarian side was ever too happy with her.

PB is talking about not gloating and that's my inclination, too.

Also, if I hear Ted Haggard's name one more time, I'm gonna scream. I don't care if he's being held up as an example of hypocrisy, the evils of the closet or whatever other thing you always believed that he's such a great example of.

So anyway, play this video a few dozen times:

then pipe down when you go to church, m'kay?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

CC shuffles off to bed

I can't believe I'm going to bed with the Virginia senate race a virtual tie. But when I was congratulating a wise chap I know who is good with words on the Strickland/Blackwell victory tonight, he reminded me that I do in fact have to go to work tomorrow.

As I'm going to sleep, the Ds are up 21. To give y'all one more bit of perspective on how huge this is, the day after election day two years ago, I wrote a press release touting that the congressional fundraising firm I then worked for had been around for 12 years and none of our incumbents had ever lost. The only way any congressional client of my old firm ever left was to fire our firm and hire someone else, or retire.

Assuming that no clients left after I did (and if they did leave, they did so at their own peril,) my old firm lost two tonight. And a non-client with whom CC had an extremely gross and unpleasant encounter also lost. At that time, CC was too embarassed to even tell her bosses, but almost wrote the man's wife to tell him about his tacky behavior. Suffice to say, Washington chicks need not fear his poor manners anymore.



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's true tonight, but it's a headline one didn't see very often, considering the Skins' record

"Heath Schuler wins"

(You're likely going to hear many variations on that joke over the next few days, but I thought of it first.)


CC stares, open-mouthed at her computer screen

Seriously, y'all. Can you believe this?

All of my more conspiracy-minded readers go "Yes!"



Vote. Then check in with Philo


BTW, if you experience any irregularities in voting today, whip out thy cell phone and call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the hotline for the National Campaign for Fair Elections. EFF lawyers and many others are standing by across the country to take legal action to remove malfunctioning voting machines, keep polls open, etc.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I know this should (and will) be rectified, but for now, Ha!

The Washington Blade is reporting that the only spouse in the Enron mess who has thus far gotten to keep the money is William Dodsen, the partner of Enron Director of Global Finance Michael Kopper

Ya see, if they could have legally gotten married, the money would be community property, but since it's not...

I know, I know, the government will sue and take it back. But it still made me chuckle.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

How does this strike you guys?

This video is up on Majikthise, where the commenters are pretty overwhelmingly saying that Marilyn Musgrave's "handlers" did something wrong to these "journalists."

Majikthese's post is entitled "Marilyn Musgrave's Men Maul Media." The YouTude video is even called "Marilyn Musgrave attacks."

I'm not finding myself sympathetic. I should note that I'm not usually sympathetic to Musgrave, but this video looks to me like a couple of clowns are harassing her. Judging by the fact that the men who get in the two guys' face A) don't look like they are dressed to be her handlers and B) walk off in the opposite direction while Musgrave gets into a car, I'm thinking those guys weren't "Musgrave's Men" at all, but were some random passersby.

What do y'all think?


You know, it's possible some groups of people just weren't meant to have a naked calendar...

So yesterday afternoon, TheCSO and I went to hang out at the game store that Honorary-sister-in-law Tina runs. This was, as I am sure you all know, Worldwide Dungeons and Dragons Day, so the store was packed. Tina's game store is not in fabulous shape and is owned by people who don't mind keeping it that way, but her counter is really old and in really bad condition and she has been complaining about it for months.

I suggested getting 12 people who play Role Playing Games together to pose for what we ended up naming "Natural 20:the Naked Gamer Calendar" as a fundraiser for the new counter.

We know a photographer, and we could certainly get together 12 funny-looking people to pose around the game store with their illegal parts creatively covered. After all, most gamers are rarely asked to be naked. TheCSO planned to be sitting next to a table with Dungeons and Dragons stuff, computer on his lap. I don't really play RPGs, but was included by default, so I planned to be over by the gaming books, shot from the waist up, turning sideways toward a camera and holding a copy of the Player's Handbook over my breasts.

One guy was pointing out how immoral and stupid it was, but kept getting caught up in the enthusiasm and making suggestions.

I'm guessing it's fun to talk about, but we're not actually going to do it.



Rant: CC shouldn't go to church the Sunday before election day

If I hear the basic sentiment "Jesus wouldn't vote republican/for
Bush/with the Christian Coalition" one more effing time at the end of
a sermon that also talks about how awful it is that the Christian
Coalition politics in church, I'm going to start screaming and never
stop. It was borderline acceptable when I was a liberal Christian, but it feels sometimes like Jesus' only use to some UU ministers is as a weapon against Christians.
I had a committee meeting that I needed to attend this Sunday or I wouldn't have gone. I really shouldn't have, because I have heard the textbook UU pre-election sermon and it irritates the living crap out of me.
The basic outline is:
1. Acknowledgement that some people won't like this sermon that attempts to sound like their opinons matter and fails.
2. Basic talk about one's civic duty to vote.
3. Talk about the church's place in society that pretends we believe in the separation of church and state.
4. Talk about how awful is is that at this moment right wing churches that don't respect the separation of church and state are telling people how to vote without naming names.
5. The part where the UU minister proceeds to tell people whom to vote for without naming names. The most subtle format and the ones usually chosen by ministers is "Some candidates care about the poor and the environment, others basically represent selfish people." The usual lay service format is "The Republicans are going to do a bunch of evil stuff."

Newsflash: Encouraging, subtly or otherwise, UUs to vote for liberals is the very definition of "preaching to the choir."

If there are a few non-liberals in the pews, they put up with snide comments, their donations going to causes/candidates they don't believe in and petitions they don't agree with shoved in their faces every other frigging Sunday of the year. IMHO, preaching about how selfish they are so they can hear it surrounded by a congregation full of people smiling and nodding the Sunday before election day is just plain bullying.

I hate to write about my own church, and I wouldn't normally be doing so, except that I know that my church is WAY not alone because I have been to many, many similar services in many other UU congregations.

And it sucks.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

On buying locally

When at the Farmer's Market ordering my grass-fed, free-range turkey for Thanksgiving this year, I took a good look at the farm's truck. It looked to me like a ratty old refrigerated farm truck. Now these guys were from Culpeper, only 70 miles or so from me. But I know lots of other farmers drive in from Pennsylvania and West Virginia for my farmer's market.

Which raises the question, at least in my head, are we really sure that buying locally saves that much energy?

If I were to, say, buy a turkey at the grocery store that was from Idaho, my guess is that it would have been slaughtered, frozen and sent to Virginia on a freight train the way most groceries are. On a per-bird basis, are we sure that would take more energy than the little refrigerated farm truck bringing in a few dozen birds from 70 miles away, or two states away?

I'm guessing there's something obvious that I'm missing here.


On buying locally

When at the Farmer's Market ordering my grass-fed, free-range turkey for Thanksgiving this year, I took a good look at the farm's truck. It looked to me like a ratty old refrigerated farm truck. Now these guys were from Culpeper, only 70 miles or so from me. But I know lots of other farmers drive in from Pennsylvania and West Virginia for my farmer's market.

Which raises the question, at least in my head, are we really sure that buying locally saves that much energy?

If I were to, say, buy a turkey at the grocery store that was from Idaho, my guess is that it would have been slaughtered, frozen and sent to Virginia on a freight train the way most groceries are. On a per-bird basis, are we sure that would take more energy than the little refrigerated farm truck bringing in a few dozen birds from 70 miles away, or two states away?

I'm guessing there's something obvious that I'm missing here.


Friday, November 03, 2006

CC answers Happy Feminist's Procrastination meme

Explain what ended your last relationship? A difficult choice that has turned out well for all concerned.
When was the last time you shaved? A couple of days ago. (What? It's winter…)
What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Commuting
What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Eating one of my yummy homemade burritos while TheCSO showed me carpet samples.
Are you any good at math? I'm really good up through Algebra 2. Past that, it's a mystery.
Your prom night, what do you remember about it? We went to a nice restaurant, then the dance, then back to Mark's house to drink all night with a bunch of our friends. I drank a drinking glass full of Vodka, then he asked me to read these letters from his ex-girlfriend in Spain. Turns out I wasn't half drunk enough.
Do you have any famous ancestors? Him. And him.
Have you had to take a loan out for school? Yes, regrettably.
Last thing received in the mail? The aforementioned carpet samples and a thoughtfully-written solicitation letter from the editor of Poetry magazine asking me to subscribe. I did.
How many different beverages have you had today? Water and Skim milk.
Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine? Yes.
Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? Radiohead, before they were as popular as they became.
Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? I don't like the beach.
What’s the most painful dental procedure you’ve had? I am due for some dental work, but I've been lucky so far.
What is out your back door? My car.
Any plans for Friday night? Call Linguist Friend and catch up. Watch Close to Home. Write blog post about evil. Digest Burrito. Not necessarily in that order.
Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? Not really.
Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? Not personally, though my grandmother used to buy them.
Have you ever been to a planetarium? Yes. The fact that if you go out far enough, the super star clusters look like neurons wigged me out.
Do you re-use towels after you shower? Mostly I use a bathrobe or just climb back into bed soaking wet.
Some things you are excited about? Finishing my Law school applications. Sweet potato slices brushed with olive oil, dusted with curry powder and baked for half an hour. Writing.
What is your favorite flavor of JELL-O? None of the above.
Describe your keychain(s)? Don't have one right now.
Where do you keep your change? Often on the floor of the car.
When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people? Larger than a GRE class? Goodness, I'm not sure.
What kind of winter coat do you own? Camel-colored and conservative-looking
What was the weather like on your graduation day? Rainy for high school, sunny for college.
Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? Open, which means the cats frequently jump on us at night.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Like a butterfly collection

I wrote at one point about my wedding pictures and how strange it is, not even two years later, to look at them and see children when they were smaller, dead people when they were alive, divorced couples when they were at least apparently happy.

I'm sort of slow on the uptake when it comes to pictures. On some level, I think I expect them to behave as pictures tend to in Harry Potter books, updating themselves to match the present reality. It's weird to look back at pictures and fumble for what we should have seen. Is the soon-to-be-divorced wife's smile a little forced as her husband smiles for the camera with his arm around her?

Maybe. Maybe not.

It's weird how people can look the same for decades, then they get sick and very quickly start to look old. And it's weird to look at yourself as a child and wonder if any of that innocence is still there.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What happens on TV vs. What happens on the streets

Ihave always been skeptical of the studies that say watching violent movies makes people more violent, for roughly the same reasons that had Dick Cavett asking "There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?"

Anyway, Slate has a story on some studies that refutes that.


The Notorious C.C.

You may recall that I threw a rubber-duck-themed baby shower over the summer. I likely didn't mention it, but we had about a dozen rubber ducks that squeak when you squeeze them left over. (We'd given them out as favors.)

So last night, I left them out for trick-or-treaters along with a bowl of candy. TheCSO and I were talking in the bedroom early in the evening when we heard characteristic squeaks from the porch. We scampered out to the living room window and watched a princess and a football player run off, merrily squeaking.

Later on, we heard

"Wow! Look at the cats!"

"I bet a crazy cat lady lives here!"

"I bet she has weird candy."

(You can hear everything that happens outside our picture window from several rooms away in our house.) I came to the window. When the kids saw me, they were like Aaah! It's the Crazy cat lady!" and they all ran away without taking any ducks or candy.

Now admittedly we have four cats. And it is possible two or more of them were in the window, but geez...

who plans to buy toys rather than candy to give every year because giving away the ducks and watching the kids get all excited was too cool...

Blogging is like this sometimes

From the Onion


And on last night's Boston Legal...

The guy with Asperger's was in trouble again and needed to be saved. Gee, NEVER would have seen that coming. Candace Bergan was like "I wonder what he's done now?"

This suggests to me that perhaps David E. Kelley gets that this is getting old. But then, there's a lot about this show that's getting old and he's not fixing anything else...