Tuesday, July 31, 2007

CC stands corrected

Awhile back, I called Poppy Z. Brite a "mediocre goth writer" and Epilonious called me on it, telling me that her new series starting with Liquor does not, in fact, suck.

He's right. It's pretty good. Ep was right I was wrong, there you go.


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

was a two-hour Simpsons episode.

No more, no less.

It was fun, but easily my third favorite movie of the summer after Hairspray and Nancy Drew.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

A brief list of things that rocked about the new Hairspray movie

1. If they had told Christopher Walken "OK, just play the character CC is least likely to find attractive" he did a great job. And there was still something about the guy...

2. Along the same lines, Tracy Turnblad's parents were hot for each other, not it a tacky way, but in a way that felt incredibly vital and real and with a deep current of love and friendship. Loved it, and their number together was one of the best in the show.

3. Once one has seen this musical, it's very hard to remember that the original was not a musical. It works really well as one.

4. Michell Pfieffer sings a rhumba and she's all Ursala the Sea Witch about it and incredibly beautiful and evil and nifty. Like 20 minutes into the movie, I knew I would buy the soundtrack.

5. They made Penny sexy. If you had told me they made Penny sexy before I saw this movie, I would have been skeptical about it. But Amanda Bynes (Amanda Bynes? Really?) gives her character a fire that really brings something to the movie.

6. Allison Janney is in it. Her part is tiny, though she does a really good job with it. But she's Allison Janney and she rules and her character is totally different from the West Wing character and they are both totally different from her Drop Dead Gorgeous character. She plays a different role in every movie and she rocks.

7. Queen Latifah plays the same role in every movie and also rocks. And her costumes!

8. Having Tracy's mom played by John Travolta was a controversial decision, but I loved it. Having someone who can really dance play Tracy's mother was really smart and opened up the opportunity for some neat stuff.

9. This deserves a separate mention. Tracy's mom gets some dignity and some pathos and she is so much more sympathetic that Divine's version, who is more or less just a figure of fun.

10. The movie does a wonderful mix of bleeding-heart snarkiness that I really love.

11. If you don't live near me, you probably don't know this, but Baltimore totally still looks like that.

12. Like when the Simpsons makes fun of UUism, they did have fat jokes, but the only people who really made them were intolerant idiots.

13. John Waters played a flasher and I was like "That's John Waters!" and Jana who creates and I got the giggles which felt totally appropriate and cool.

14. Oh my word can the girl they got to play Tracy can sing. She was amazing.

15. We stayed to watch the credits and there were these two girls in the back dancing to the music in the background and it rocked.

This leads me to the following conclusion:

16. I'm a big dork who strongly prefers the new hairspray to the old hairspray. And I know that is completely uncool and no doubt makes me a bad GenXer, but there you go.

I'm going again Friday night with LinguistFriend, the Chalicerelative and theCSO if he's up for it.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The latest Facebook group my YRUU kids are joining

"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" : Mrs. Weasley Appreciation Group

Mrs. Weasley is just really hardcore. She's an awesome cook, a good mom, really good at yelling, and she called Bellatrix Lestrange a bitch. She deserves a high five.

Can't argue with that.

who came to much the same conclusion and had considered going to a Halloween party with the CSO as the Weasely parents, assuming she could get him dye his hair reddish with dye that washes out. Going around observing the Muggles in their strange holiday rituals would be worth the price of admission and CC would enjoy making wands and muggle studies books.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Linguist Friend responds to Ms. Kitty's Meme

I understand from Ms. Kitty’s meme-assignment that I can save my soul if I write about eight defining moments in my life at which I might have lost my soul (on some points the jury is still out), or at least I learned something from the experience.

1. In the early and mid-20th century, American aeronautical engineering benefited from the immigration of German and other Central European applied scientists. When I was in the 3rd grade, the younger son of one of them was in the same class as I was. Richard (now a military historian) gave me academic competition such that I realized that whereas earlier I had done well enough, now I had to do better than I had known I could, which was a good habit to establish early.

2. In the same period, I was introduced to the elements of music theory and piano. I quit when I realized that I would never be a good pianist. I repeated this sequence with the recorder, the classical guitar, and singing. I learned a lot about music theory, and my father made sure that I learned about musical acoustics. But eventually I realized something: never let yourself or other people nudge you to do something because you or they think you should do it. Do what is fun and you are really good at, especially if other people are not good at it.

3. In my second year of college, I took an introductory course on linguistics from a great scholar on the history of languages. But, by that time, the historical approach he practiced no longer set the model of research in his field; it had been partly replaced by models drawn from mathematics. He himself had once had to choose whether he would accept a university scholarship in math or in linguistic studies, and had chosen the latter, which he now regretted. So, in late middle age, he tried to renew his mathematical studies, which of course led him nowhere; when he retired three years later in ill health and depression, he did not live long. One has only one life, and it needs some basic continuity and consistency.

4.. Early in college, I asked our family physician to refer me to one of his East European relatives to help me to improve my spoken Russian. He introduced me to his pharmacist aunt Shalumith Schneider, the daughter of a scholarly Vilna rabbi. She gave me years of friendship and tutorial in Russian language and literature. Since her native city was a great center of Jewish scholarship (the Vilna Gaon, the Vilna edition of the Talmud), she also gave me an implicit orientation in terms of her recognition of and devotion to the value of learning.

5. When I married at age 22, it was to someone who initially seemed well matched, an agnostic (read: no interest in religion) daughter of an American diplomatic family. Thirty-one years later, she moved back across the country from LA to her native Maine, and a year after that she filed for divorce. She had borne our children, typed my doctoral dissertation, and developed a private practice in counseling in an LA suburb. But the marriage had progressively turned emotionally sterile, starting halfway through. At times I say that I have never seen a bad divorce, on the principle that once either one of the parties has left in some sense, then the sooner the legal action is finished, the sooner both parties can get on with life. But divorce may bring terrible practical situations, including the freedom to commit appalling stupidities.

6. When I wrote my doctoral dissertation, I focussed on the grammar of an ancient language that was fundamental in East European studies. Since almost all of its early manuscripts were texts translated from Greek Christian sources, to write my dissertation I had to read thousands of pages of late Greek texts. This was effectively a total immersion course in Eastern Christianity. Although this material has never been central to how I earn my living, I have never entirely left it, and it has been a perennial background factor in how I think about the world and religion. Immersion leads to absorption.

7. When the Cold War and East European studies cooled, I shifted my orientation to the basic study of speech on a physiological level. This entailed learning much more physically-oriented biology and lab electronics, joining the 20th century after being (figuratively) educated in the 19th. This was a process of reacculturation so complete that my main research colleagues have been in medically- and engineering-related fields, and I belatedly came to understand the engineering research people who were around me in my childhood. But it cost time, money, and some of the personal input that my children should have had.

8. In my early teenage years, my parents helped start a small Unitarian fellowship in a tiny retired synagogue. I had no idea what they believed; my own religious ideas at that point mainly came from Julian Huxley. My Unitarian connection was weak when I went to college. Later, my devotion during free time was mainly to my family. It was not until the late 1980s that I really reconnected with UUism. That it did not attract my wife was not surprising, but I was grateful that the congregation was there when she left in late 1994, and the local UU congregation wherever I am has continued to be an important focus since then.

On some levels, my later years have made it possible for me to tie some things together better. I have lectured in Russia (in Russian) about my work on laryngeal physiology. My studies of Christian and Jewish sources give me a broader perspective on UUism, complementing the humanist perspective that I inherited from my father. Friends such as CC and Ms. Kitty have made me more aware of the importance of (different) aspects of progressive Christianity. At times I am still aware of the deeply destabilizing effects in myself of divorce after a long marriage, but I have survived so far, although I am entering the high-upkeep years of the human organism. An older physicist friend, once a student of Dirac and the younger Bragg, sent me a birthday card for last year, writing: "Life is precarious; be prepared for surprises." Indeed!

This site seems useful

Chore wars

who just got 10xp for feeding the dog.

I like this.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Last few chapters of Potter

Sorry about the delay and sorry about the fact that no division between the chapters exists in the following. I finished the book early this morning and lent it to a friend.

There are some really good aspects to the end of the book. Lizard Eater is correct that the "Prince's Tale" chapter is first rate and does resolve many of the previous mysteries. The themes of discrimination (full-blood wizard vs. Human born, wizard vs. other) are nicely played out and what happens to Kingsley Shackeford is a nice touch in this regard.

The stuff you would expect is in the last few chapters. (I completely don't get why this review is getting blasted for spoiling anything. As I'm reading it, pretty much everything I saw was obviously going to happen.)

Possibly the thing I'd been looking forward to the most in this book was the Epilogue and I found that a disappointment. It focuses on relationships rather than any other aspects of life.

There's lots of death. Someone had told me in advance that two major characters die and I found myself wondering with each death who qualified as major. I'm still not sure who that's referring to as there are several good candidates. If I still care, I may start a discussion in a week or two.

Only two of the deaths seem superfluous, and even they are understandable, they just don't seem necessary as the point has well been made by then.

Molly Weasley gets a nice moment.

But yeah, overall it is extremely readable, does a serviceable job of giving you the answers you wanted, but leaves you wanting more. More explanations, more news on the minor characters, MUCH more Hogwarts.

Ah well, as Jana-who-creates pointed out, that just leaves more fodder for the fanfic writers.


Liveblogging Potter

Will resume tomorrow due to the Chaliceblog's policy against PUI.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Liveblogging Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

8:00am-Here goes. Again, no spoilers, but speculation on minor points. I knew I said I would start it at noon, but I changed my mind. I have dinner plans with a friend and would like to have the book done by dinnertime.

Chapter 1-8:12-In many respects, Rowling is gifted as a mystery writer and if she wanted to make her next project a mystery or thriller I think she'd be good at it. That said, she has a certain ham-handedness when she is witholding information that makes for a mildly irritating experience reading the book. Instead of simply not telling you something and giving the clues in a more subtle way, she repeatedly references the information she is witholding, almost as if she's dangling it in front of you. (You will probably have that experience reading this liveblogging since there's so much I won't want to say.) You can really see that in this chapter, though you get the piece of information by the end of the chapter.

It was very interesting to see the part of the wizarding world she shows in this chapter, though I did think it was a weaker opening than the last book's business with the two Prime ministers.

Chapter 2-8:36-So far, the things that have happened in this book are much what even the casual reader of the last book might have suspected. That said, I do really like what she does with Harry dealing with Dumbledore's death. Even people whom we are very close to are complicated, sometimes they have sides we couldn't see or understand in life, which is another confusing aspect of death.

Rowling also nicely reminds me why I don't like celebrity gossip much.

Chapter 3-8:51-This was the first chapter that really had me interested because it marked such a change in course for Harry's relationship to the characters in question. I really hope to see them again.

In a lot of ways, this book has the feel of the second half of Half-Blood Prince, which is perhaps why the beginning doesn't feel as strong as Half-Blood Prince's. In many ways, Half-Blood Prince began like the last book in the series should have.

Chapter 4-9:08 Interesting that the Order of the Phoenix would use tactics very familiar to Washingtonians. I find myself skipping pages of action sequences in all but the best books, and I didn't skip pages here. Rowling does a lovely job. She really does have a gift for action sequences. I'm finding myself wondering how the Order of the Phoenix got its name and what, if anything, the name has to do with Dumbledore's subversively-named pet phoenix Fawkes. The drawbacks of having Hagrid do the job he does here were obvious to me, I'm sure there's a benefit to it that I don't understand just yet.

Chapter 5-9:31- I really don't understand the mechanics of magic in the wizarding world sometimes. They can do all these amazing things, but apparently they can't create a few obvious things that one would think would be fairly simple. Part of the Hagrid question from last chapter was answered, BTW, and though I didn't find the answer satisfying, I doubt I'm going to get a better one. Also, Harry's rebellious teenager shtick is really getting old.

Chapter 6-9:51- The wedding planning is about how you would expect (charmant!) but it is fun and a nice change in tone. The tension between Harry and Ginny is nicely done. I know that the Horcrux hunt is necessary,but I still wish they were going back to Hogwarts. I'm really missing it.

Oh, and there's a beautiful bit of dialogue where Harry tells Ron and Hermione that they don't have to come on the Horcrux hunt and Hermione says gently that they're coming with him. That was decided months ago, years really. I'm not saying that the general theme If a good person and an evil person of equivilent power face off, good will triumph because good people have friends is unusual, but it is one that the series has used to great effect. Anyway, that bit of dialogue gave me the warm fuzzies. Yes, Hermione and Ron made the choice to stand by Harry no matter what years ago...

Chapter 7-10:14- I ask myself "Self, why is ministry of magic like that?" and the best response I can come up with is "Because it advances the plot"

In other news, Ron's continuing ineptness around women is great stuff.

Chapter 8-10:33- Lots of useful exposition happened here. Like the mean, gossipy old relative at the wedding, I am very interested to find out what exactly is in Rita Skeeter's book. I'm not sure of the significance of Luna's father's faux pas, but I am very interested to see...

Chapter 9-10:47- One would think that after six previous books, Harry would have learned something about lack of communication. Ah well...

Chapter 10-11:04-I really liked this chapter, which made me appreciate how tightly-written the previous books were and how well thought out a lot of this stuff was from the beginning. That the books have such a complex morality to them really makes them interesting. Also, I wonder how the seventh movie will handle this chapter as IMHO the fifth movie hasn't set what happened here up the way the fifth book did.

Chapter 11-11:23 I had wanted to see the character who is brought back at the end of this chapter again, but at least right now something about the way that character reappears feels a little contrived. I totally understand Harry's issue with the OotP member who comes to help him here.

Chapter 12-11:45 A college friend of mine had a theory about 2001:A Space Odyssy that the beautiful, but ultimately really dully, scenes in the first half were Kubrick's way of giving the audience the feeling of being on a long sapce voyage. Those scenes always have me twitching.

The last few chapters have had the same effect. I'm twitching, but so are the central characters.

Chapter 13-12:00 That was interesting. The institutions and the way that wizarding bearacracy is organized are one of the real gems of this series.

Chapter 14-For the last few chapters, I've felt I was waiting for something to happen. In this chapter, it finally has and the resulting action is quite welcome. Also, Mad-Eye Mooney's eye is not a horcrux. Ah well.

Chapter 15-Though the events of this chapter would have been quite rough on the characters, I'm actually glad for the events of this chapter to happen. They needed to for the book to retain emotional honesty.

Chapter 16- Finally the book is catching its stride. I found the first half of it quite slow, but the last few chapters have really reminded me what I love about this series.

Chapter 17-
was creepy.

Chapter 18-I assume this exposition is important, and if it is, fine. But it is slowing the story right when the story had finally started to move, so I sort of resent it anyway.

Chapter 19-2:08 Took them long enough to do what happened here. I'm not sure at this point if I want those two to get it on so we can have some comic relief or if I want some more action, but either way, the rising tension has gone past exciting and has begun to bug me. This is one ofthe disadvantages of the book not being set at Hogwarts. At a boarding school, there were opportunities for comic relief built in.

Chapter 20-2:22 One of my favorite things about this chapter is the anticipation of seeing one of my favorite characters again.

Chapter 21-2:42 Can't pretend I saw that one coming...

Chapter 22-2:59 I'd like all my friends to start a radio show named after me...

Chapter 23-3:18 That character's appearance was sort of random...

Chapter 24-3:52 Lots of exposition, but interesting exposition...

Chapter 25-4:03 I really liked this chapter. I am such a nerd.

Chapter 26-4:19-Wow. Can't wait for the movie of this...

Chapter 27-4:24 It is really exciting now. The book needed 100 pages cut or rewritten from the beginning,but at this point, it's really good stuff.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Radical Welcoming

The CSO sometimes says I have no sense of humor.

Well, I do, it's just a very complex sort.

Your Score: the Wit

(76% dark, 23% spontaneous, 10% vulgar)

your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


I will be live-blogging the last Harry Potter novel. I plan to do it about the same way I did novel six.

I'm going to a party the night before and my housemates are picking up my copy of the book. I will likely start reading/blogging it at noon Saturday and post a comment on every chapter until I get to the end. This will be spoiler-free but I will allow myself speculation on minor points. (Last year I realized from the first few chapters that Fleur wasn't as bad as people thought and that Ginny Weasely would probably make a good wife for Harry and wrote those things. At the time I took them as opinions of my own and I didn't realize I had just picked up on the foreshadowing.)

OK, before I read the last novel, I want to get two predictions/thoughts out on the series:

1. Neville isn't stupid in the least. Whatever Valdemort did to his parents rubbed off on him a bit and affected his memory and this has been a point since the very first book (when Neville's memory charm was stolen by Draco during the flying lessons.) Most of his academic problems have relatedto memory as well. I would think a point that has been there since book one would be an important point.

2. Readers will recall that the time Draco saw a dementor, it didn't mean much to him. A dementor takes the most horrifying thing you've ever seen and plays it back to you. So if you haven't seen anything particularly horrifying, it doesn't affect you much.
Harry's cousin Dudley in many ways reminds my of how my brother Jason was at that age. He's a spoiled suburban punk in baggy pants. Jason's had every blow softened for him and I don't know what his worst memory would be, but I doubt it would be anything particularly traumatic.
But when Dudley saw a dementor in book five, it damn near put him in the psych ward.
I'd like to know what Dudley has seen.


CC the party girl

Both LinguistFriend and Ms. Kitty have asked for an account of my birthday party last weekend. Probably the most interesting feature of the party was the guests. TheCSO, a big fan of Anime conventions, invited his engineer-type friends and their wives. CC, who likes long discussions of deep topics late at night, had invited a bunch of her creative-type friends.

I kid you not, the engineers were all there by 7:15 and left at ten. The creative types began to trickle in at 8:30 and the last ones left after one.

I was going for a retro theme so I made retro snacks. I did little chicken salad sandwiches, party meatballs, keishes, rumaki and I got the ChaliceMom to do me some deviled eggs. We drank mojitos, cosmos and gimlets and Sarah-the-extrovert brought port. Oh and by the end of the night I was drinking apple pucker, a drink I learned about from drag queens in New Orleans.

Jana-who-creates was there and brought her family. Zombie Kid and TheGnome were their usual exuberant and delightful selves. I persuaded ZombieKid to do his Zombie impression to the great amusement of the partygoers. If his mother allows it, one of these days I'm going to take a picture and post it. This Zombie impression is just that impressive. TheGnome had insisted his family give me a whoopie cushion for my birthday, so that was one of my presents from them. The usefulness of a whoopie cushion at Georgetown Law was discussed.

At sround midnight, the creative types decided we need a quote board where amusing things people say can be recorded for posterity. A few months ago, I had bought a large whiteboard where I could list tasks my housemates needed to do. To say it didn't help would be an understatement. But anyway, we had the whiteboard downstairs and theCSO brought it up and we started recording people's hilarious witticisms for posterity.

The next morning, nothing recorded on the quote board was particularly funny or interesting.

So, I guess it was a good party.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

People who are nice to CC than she deserves.

I e-mailed Margaret Maron to nitpick a point in one of her novels and she wrote me a really polite and wonderful response that answered my question.



Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Organization by any other name...

I had a thought about the Independent Affiliates situation recently.

Recall how when the AUC first split off, it had taken the name “American Unitarian Association” and the UUA immediately sued to get it back.

I thought that was a brilliant trap on the UUA’s part to hamstring the AUC and the AUC played right into it. The got national press coverage for splitting off, we’re talking an article in the Wall Street Journal among others.

And what did the AUC leadership waste that national attention doing?

Complaining about the lawsuit over the name, bitching about the UUA and generally making themselves look like UUism’s bitter ex-husband.

They didn’t preach a positive message or in other ways sound like a movement that was going anyplace, they just sounded like a bunch of petty malcontents and the AUC membership has been pretty tiny ever since. (Though they’ve been way playing down the malcontent message in the last few years and I am sure it has improved.)

Now the Independent Affiliate situation has me considering the name question again.

If CUUPs, for example, is no longer affiliated with UUism, will they have to change their name? What effect will THAT have on the organizations in question?


Monday, July 16, 2007

Is this who we want to be? Seriously?

The UUA Washington Office's blog has really pissed me off.

A few weeks ago, another UU Blogger sent me an email pointing out that nobody had ever even posted a comment to the UUA Washington Office's blog "Inspired Faith, effective action." At the time, I intended to put up a post making fun of them, but I got busy and forgot.

Today I thought of it and went back only to find their latest entry, which begins:

Just when you think the "religious right" can't get any more intolerant and ridiculous...then they do.

Umm... They don't like us either, I'm fairly confident, but are statements like this the UUAWO's idea of a path to a better world?

And the NEXT post begins:

So, in its infinite wisdom, the Administration has managed to...

Sigh. I bet the Republican UUs are really feeling the love now. (If we're going to be snarky, can we at least be FUNNY snarky as opposed to just RUDE snarky?)

Now y'all know that snark is not a weapon I'm afraid to use. But I am a layperson. I don't think it is appropriate for our denomination's representatives speaking in an apparently official capacity to be talking that way, even if they are talking about people who don't think the way most of us do.

I read that page and left it with the impression that the current staff of the UUA Washington Office all think conservatives are idiots and that it would be hopeless to ever try to see their side or work with them.

If that's the case, can we get rid of the current UUAWO staff and get in some people who are willing to listen a little more and keep more of an open mind? Because IMHO this sort of yellow-dog partisanship is not a healthy thing for a religion.

who, for the record goes back and forth on Hate Crime legislation because of the increasing-your-sentence-because-of-what-you-were-thinking implications, believes that Hindus should be allowed to give the opening prayer in the Senate and would rather the administration had chosen a more moderate surgeon general nomination. But she can express those opinions without being an asshole about it and without implying that anyone who disagrees with her is stupid.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

From the party store

If you ever throw a retro 1950's themed party, do it in the summertime.

Almost all "luau" themed decorations look straight out of a bad 50's movie...

not sure if she needs the plastic faux-coconut cups, but sorely tempted.


"Friends? Hah. These are my only friends. Grown-up nerds like Gore
Vidal. And HE's kissed more boys than I ever will."

--Lisa Simpson

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In honor of the Harry Potter movie...

Let's watch that Alan Rickman video again, oh, seven or eight times...


The Mediocre Goth Writer Speaks the Truth

"Remember, if you post it in a public blog, the entire world is allowed to get up in your grill about it" - Poppy Z. Brite

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I guess I just wasn't his type...

I once had a job interview with an affable man who didn't end up hiring me. He'd given me a Myers-Briggs and I had come up my usual type.

"Hmmm..." He said, "An INTP. My ex-wife was an INTP."

"Mmm..." I said, not knowing what else to say.

He leaned across the desk, staring intensely into my eyes. "Do most people in the world not exist for you?"

"No," I said. "Well, I mean, here are some people I really connect with and some I don't, but even the people I don't connect with still exist."

"They just FEEL like they don't exist."

As I said, I didn't get the job, which wasn't a huge surprise. But I've never forgotten that guy or that conversation.

And I try to be better about letting even the people I don't naturally feel a connection to know they exist.

interested to hear the myers-briggs type of any Chalicesseur willing to share.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another defender of marriage bites the dust

Yeah, yeah, I know, cheap shot...


Results of CC's experiment

Are now up here.

OK, I *must* own The Secret now...

Katy-the-Wise tipped me off that the Secret contains a bunch of Emerson quotes and they are all fake.

I'd like to see if this is true.

Would a Chalicesseur be kind enough to buy it for me?


Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Like, Peacebang, but you know, seriously not

So I was looking for clubwear to wear to a party next weekend and I turned up this page.

I think PB and this woman should get together and do "Beauty Tips for Sexy Ministers."

Link not work-safe. Like, at all.


EDITED because I had missed that the writer was a woman

Saturday, July 07, 2007

CC does an experiment II

Last year, I turned comment moderation on for a day so that I could ask the Chalicesseurs a question and people could answer without reading other people's answers first.

I'm going to do it again today.

Today's question: What does "Alleluia" mean?

When you say it in church, what do you feel like you are saying?

I specifically mean literal meanings, but what it means to you is good, too.

Feel free to comment "I don't know" if you don't know, in fact, please do.


A place to write

Linguist Friend and I have a habit of beneficently nagging one another, saving our respective significant others the trouble of bothering us about things we really should take care of.

I've been bothering him about going to the doctor and writing scholarly papers recently. His topic has been a little more benign.

I need a desk.

Law school* is less than two months away at this point and the desk in my home office is still an old crappy one of my brother's that I hate and never use as more than a surface to stack papers. (I'm typing this blog post into a laptop as I sit crosslegged on the bed.)

LF has been bringing my lack of desk up for at least his last two visits. And I've been looking at craigslist and the occiasional office supply store.

In the last week, I have gotten serious about it and have been looking far more agressively.

I have probably looked at several dozen desks in person and a hundred online. No used desk has been what I'm looking for. The old ones (from before the age of computers) are too small and the used new ones are too fugly.

And I hate pressboard.

I'm realizing the desk I really want is Blue van Meer's desk from Marisha Pessl's brilliant novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics:

...But as I pushed open the bedroom door at the top of the stairs and walked into the large blue walled room covered in pastoral oil paitings, giant windows along the far wall blistered with bubble curtains, I discovered not a rare, underground edition of Wie schafft man ein Masterwerk or The Step-by-Step Manual For Crafting Your Magnum Opus, but, astonishingly, my old Citizen Kane desk pushed into the corner by the window. It was the real thing, elephantine, walnut, Renaissance revival library table I'd had eight years ago at 142 Tellwood Street in Wayne,Oklahoma.

Daddy had found the desk at the Lord and Lady Hillier Estate Sale just outside of Tulsa, to which antiques wheeler-and-dealer June Bug, Pattie 'Let's Make a Deal' Lupine, had dragged Dad one stuffy Sunday afternoon. For some reason, when Dad saw the desk (and the five struggling Armies it took to get it on the auction platform,) he saw me and only me presiding over it (Though I was only eight with a wingspan less than half its length). He paid a huge, undisclosed amount for it and announced with great flourish that this was 'Blue's desk,' a desk 'worthy of my little Eve of St. Agnes, upon which she will unmask all the great ideas...'

...And then, rather anticlimactically, I was only able to unmask great idea in Wayne, because we weren't able to take the desk with us to Sluder, Florida-something to do with the mover (the falsely advertised 'You CAN Take It With You Moving Co.') being unable to fit it in the van. I shed ferocious tears and called Dad a reptile when we had to leave it, as if it wasn't just an oversized table with elaborate talon legs and seven drawers requiring seven individual keys, but a black pony I was abandoning in the barn..."

Yep, that's the desk I want.

But it's extremely expensive. And fictional.

So far, I haven't had much luck. Neither of the estate sales I went to this morning were those of an elderly doctor, lawyer or perhaps detective who shuffled off this mortal coil just in time for me to buy his handsome if scratched olddesk from an irresponsible nephew selling it cheaply to make a fast dime.

I went to Crate and Barrell and immersed myself in middle class respectability, and I loved this one, but don't have two thousand dollars for it. I went World Market for knock-off middle class respectability and thought this one was ok without the hutch. But it still didn't rock my world.

So far the desk I hate least is this one, which provides a surprising amount of charm for something from Staples and folds out into a bigger table that could take up half of the library during finals week.

Ooh... But then there's this one...

A little expensive, but spiffy...



*Yeah, I'm pretty obsessed with law school at this point and write about it frequently. You should have seen me two months before the wedding.

Crystalizing my thinking on the Polyamory in UUism discussion

If you're just joining the Chaliceblog, I'm in the middle of a discussion of a controversy involving polyamorists wanting official recognition in the Unitarian church.

Having read LT's latest bit on the Polyamory discussion, I'm realizing that it's not that I worry what polyamorists will do to UUism.

I worry what UUism will do to the Polyamorists. I mean,the polyamorists I know (who would best be described religiously as "non-denominational pagans") get that what they are doing is unusual and don't seem to blame their families for not understanding. They are appreciative of my efforts to reach out and understand, they reach back, and don't call me names when my efforts are imperfect.

They see polyamory as something they do because it is fun, not that it is their societal cross to bear. They have a sense of humor about it, even a sense of humor that someone outside the group can laugh along with without being viewed as bigot.

The husband of the polyamorous couple I knew best was recently extolling the virtues of being able to sleep with whomever he wanted. I gently made the point that I didn't think an open marriage was for me.

He shrugged. "Well, you're missing out on a lot of fun," he said.

"I'm sure I am."

And that was that.

So what would happen to these reasonable, open, happy people if they were immersed in UUism's "bigger victim than thou" culture?

I'd rather not imagine, though LT is right that you can see some early examples in his comments threads.


Polyamory and the "ick" factor

There is a truly fabulous discussion of polyamory going on at The Lively Tradition.

A few thoughts.

I talked about my feelings on polamory here

Essentially, I don't particularly have a problem with it when it is practised unselfishly. I'm not entirely certain a family with kids CAN practice it unselfishly, though I suppose that if people who had been in a stable relationship for some time had children and were committed to remaining stable, that could work. Polyamory does not strike me as sufficient grounds for removal by child protective services, at the same time, I don't know that most people are up to the challenges of balancing their needs with their lovers' needs with their children's needs.

My understanding of the sociology of polygyny (one man with lots of women, polyandry, the reverse, is unusual almost to the point of being unheard of) is that it has traditionally been practiced in societies with great weath disparities under the theory that women consider themselves better off the tenth wife of the king than the only wife of a peasant.

(Note also how the extramarital affair is really common among powerful men and how woman often chase powerful men and do their best to seduce them into that sort of interaction.)

Anyway, I really hope polyamory isn't the root of the IA mess.

It's not my favorite choice and I think it is best practiced as a private thing, but I would certainly not object to polyamorous folks being active members of my church.

At the same time, I am really wary of getting dragged in to another political struggle that I only semi agree with.


Friday, July 06, 2007

CC's favorite LOLcat is not a cat.

Welcome St. Andrews readers

I do write about things other than sex, Unitarian Universalism and the comedy of manners that is my personal life.

Just not recently.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

One ball in particular.

Emily Dickenson has a poem that ends "and sequence raveled out of sound, like balls upon a floor."

It's one of those phrases that haunts me. It has been haunting me especially recently as several aspects of life that seemed to stand in order have scattered and rolled around as if struck by unseen forces.

Like balls upon a floor, in fact.

The easiest to talk about is that the CSO's and my undergraduate institution has just lost accreditation. Now they are appealling the decision and it sounds like the litigation will go on so long that theoretically I could help by the time it is finishing up. And it keeps the accreditation as long as it is fighting it.

My acceptance to law school will be fine, says the expert on such things whom I called to discuss the issue. (It took a village to get me into law school, and staying is totally up to me, but those insecurities are a whole 'nother post.)

So, putting aside the worry about me, I am really bummed that St. Andrews is facing these problems. The accreditation concerns are all about the finances of the school, which have always been shitty, rather than the academics, which are spotty but not unusually so.

Worried little groups of alums and faculty have gathered, bitching and talking and trying to deal.

My initial reaction to this was an uncharictaristic burst of school spirit. In a letter to my smart friend Pam, I wrote:

Making the value of the degree suck because of pulling the
accreditation so that it won't suck if the school were to close
reminded me very much of a case I read about recently where a judge
sentenced two teenagers to jail and the sex offender list because they
took pictures of themselves having sex and sent them to each other.

His justification? If such pictures of them, that were technically
kiddie porn, got out it could ruin their lives.

Destroying something so it doesn't destroy itself makes no sense to
me. I realize this is an oversimplification, but it doesn't seem like
much of one.

Having read more about the issue, I am seeing it as more complicated than that, but my loyalty is basically with the place I went to school, and my husband went to school, and my mom went to school, and my dad went to school.

And my belief that there are many worse small colleges out there.

Things feel scattered right now, and having one more place that felt a bit like home being threated is not a welcome addition to my emotional landscape.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

All people should be like this

Our internet is out, so I am sitting in Panera getting in my internet time.

A little girl and her dad just sat down next to me. The dad opened a laptop so the little girl could play a game. I sighed internally as the beeps and whistles of the game began.

A moment later, the girl said, plain as day.

"Daddy, could you show me how to turn the sound down on this game? I don't want to disturb people."



A massage of words.

I had dinner with an extrovert yesterday.

It started out with drinks, then dinner, then she gave me a ride home. At the beginning, I did what I always do when I'm in an introverted mood. I subtly let her don most of the talking, asking questions that begged for long answers, basking in the feeling of sitting there, munching on cheese and drinking wine and letting her words rush over me in great waves of feeling and enthusiasm.

I heard about our mutual friends, and her lover, and her job and her roommate and her big Puerto Rican family. Actually, I met several members of said big Puerto Rican family since her Uncle owned the restaurant. They would flounce up to the table and there would be hugging, cheek-kissing and an icy wave of Spanish that washed over me, leaving me confused but absolutely awake.

Happy families usually depress me, but this one did not.

She knew the menu intimately, so I let her order for me and ended up with an oddly but wonderfully smooth gazpacho, a dish of red snapper in a creamy, spicy sauce, and an unusual but wonderful take on the banana split for dessert with fried bananas and a piquant caramel sauce. (Suffice to say, the restaurant's cultural appropriation of this classically American dish into a Puerto Rican version was something I was totally in right relations with.)

Somewhere between the two mojtios and the glass of port, I warmed to the conversation and she started to ask me questions, questions that would have been somewhat intrusive in a lesser conversation over a lesser meal.

"How long have you and theCSO been together?"

"A little under eight years, though we broke up once overnight and once for a week."

"Why? I mean, if you don't mind me asking?"

Her eyes were curious about the human condition, or perhaps the workings of my head, but there was no malice or voyeurism there. I gave her a brief answer, not a sufficient one, but I'm fairly certain one cannot understand the workings of another's relationship anyway.

We talked more and the river of conversation flowed on and I felt myself beginning to feel better about the world. She asked me more and I answered her and I found myself opening up, laying out the difficulties of my life like cards on a table.

She listened and she asked and we talked and I asked and looked at each other with serious expressions full of concern as if by hearing one another's difficulties we were doing serious business, like little children carrying fire. I'm not a person who touches, but I found myself touching and talking and putting aside something of my WASPy reserve.

I thought of how when my grandmother was in the hospital and required 24-7 babysitting, I would stumble past the "intensive care" sign and passionately wish somebody would care for me intensively, pack me away in bed, bring me scrambled eggs and read to me from an intense novel.

A few people in my life have been able to care for one intensely. Fewer still have been able to keep it up past the first flush of knowing someone new.

So, anyway, Sarah-the-Extrovert is likely to appear on this blog again.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Response from Poly Friend re: Cocktail party invite

Since we are more of 'friends with benefits' than SO's of any flavor, probably not required.

If you wanted to be painfully correct, inviting Sarah would be appropriate, as she's essentially our third. however, as we don't all live in the same house (which is where i personally draw the lines for this sort of thing) it's not strictly necessary.

thanks for asking: )

So there we have it.

I still ordered Steve's book, though.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

A shopping cart escalator

In a two-story Target is the coolest thing ever

More on key parties and polyamory

Since Louise has called me on this:

Sex can produce kids. And can transmit disease. And it often produces emotional connections that are painful to break, or at least immensely complicating to one's life.

I realize that I'm stating the obvious, but to me those are important points.

I do have a bias toward not sleeping with someone you wouldn't breed from and making sure as many kids as possible are born in stable situations.

So yeah, I'm not totally in love with the key party concept, thought I am pretty hip to consenting adults doing what they want.

I'm more OK with it now than I would have been in the 1970's, when I would have wondered to what degree some of the women really were consenting given the societal position of women at the time.

And yeah, even among sexual diagrams more complicated than my own, I have a bias toward commitment and stability. Key parties did break up quite a few marriages.

That said, I'm analyzing my own thinking on the cocktail party and I've gotten it down to two main points.

1. When I was a little more free with my own favors, I would have found it quite odd if someone thought they had to include anyone I might be sleeping with at the time in a social gathering they invited me to. To me the obvious thing to do would be to ask my friend what the ettiquette is as far as she was concerned.

2. The polyamory thing I'm used to. She's my friend. It's the ummm...elf thing. Anybody curious can write me a private email and I will send you the guy's website.
Suffice to say, the front page includes the quote:

Elven currents strike me as not being particularly of an object, but the spaces BETWEEN objects. Not the emitter of forces...but the area of interplay between forces...so much so that one could think of that space between being it's own force..

So he's an elf. And, I think, a postmodernist because postmodernists are the only people I know who talk like that.

Oh, and later in the page he describes himself as an "3lf," with no apparent irony.

Postmodernist elf who uses leetspeak.


I'll likely invite him anyway.


He may be a UU at heart after all

In two weeks, we're throwing a little retro-50's cocktail party for my birthday. TheCSO and I were discussing it, and somehow the question of what we would do next year came up.

I said "Well, we could always go all 1970's and have a key party?"

"What's that?" he asked.

"Well..." I said, delighted that for once I possesed degenerate knowledge that he lacked, a reversal of the usual order of things. "I was totally kidding. It's a really tacky-middle class swinger party. The men all put their keys in a bowl and each woman takes a set of keys. Then the women go off and have sex with the men whose keys they've taken. It's very 1970's"

"Hmmm..." TheCSO said thoughtfully. "Sounds awfully heteronormative."


I had actually imagined a mystery story with roughly this premise.

But I hadn't written it yet.

Oh well.


I don't recall Miss Manners addressing this one.

I'm having a cocktail party and inviting a polyamorous friend. I'm inviting her legal husband, whom I barely know but he is her husband. He has a lover that they seem to hang out with all the time whom I went to high school with, so I invited her.

My friend has another lover who, judging from his livejournal page, is oddly obsessed with elves. He's "otherkin" if you know what that means. I don't know the guy and have trouble believing he would gel with the rest of my friends, though that may be my own speciesism against elves showing.

I realize that when one invites people to a party, one is supposed to invite their significant others.

But goodness...