Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Bless You, Dammit

December 28, 2004 - Tuesday


Why do we say "Bless you", or "God bless", when someone sneezes?

Don't get me wrong - I know the answer. I just wonder if you do.

I asked this to a few co-workers, out of curiosity. Because I like messing with people's heads, and co-workers are soooo convenient. The general consensus I got back was "it's polite". Or "why do you always ask this weird shit? Leave me alone!"

Well. If it's polite...then why don't we say it when people cough? Or burp? Or fart? "Brrrrrpppp!" "God bless you!"

We don't, do we? No. We expect the person to say "excuse me".

So why don't we expect the same with sneezes? Why is a sneeze different from any other bodily expulsion of air?

One word: superstition. Of course. We're creatures of habit, and refuse to change. Even when it's something so basic and simple as how to respond to a sneeze. The original, full phrase (or so rumored) was "God bless you, and may the Devil miss you!" Why? There are a bunch of different suspicions on how it originated:

- At one time people believed a man's soul could be inadvertently thrust from his body by an explosive sneeze, thus "Bless you!" was a protective oath uttered to safeguard the temporarily expelled and vulnerable soul from being snatched up by Satan (who was always lurking nearby). The purpose of the oath was to cast a temporary shield over the flung-out soul which would protect it just long enough to regain the protection of the corporeal body.

- Conversely, the sneeze itself was the expulsion of a demon or evil spirit which had taken up residence in a person. Therefore, although the "Bless you!" was again a protective charm meant to protect the sneezer from evil, in this version it was meant to ward off the re-entry of an evil spirit which a tormented soul had just rid itself of.

- The heart was believed to momentarily stop during a sneeze (it doesn't), thus the "Bless you!" was uttered either as a supplication for life to return or as a congratulation upon its successful restart.

- Others claim an association of the practice with particular dire diseases (most often the bubonic plague, or "Black Death," as it is sometimes known). They say an infected person's sneeze was sure sign he'd soon be pushing up daisies, thus the "Bless you!" was intended as a benediction to the nearly-departed, a way of commending his soul to the care of God now that he was beyond the help of anything in the mortal world.

There are more superstitions related to sneezing. Here's a little poem that was written, outlining the positive aspects of a sneeze:

Sneeze on Monday for health,
Sneeze on Tuesday for wealth,
Sneeze on Wednesday for a letter,
Sneeze on Thursday for something better,
Sneeze on Friday for sorrow,
Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow,
Sneeze on Sunday, safety seek.

So keep on blessing, you superstitious lot you. And may the devil miss you.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

At The End Of All Things

December 26, 2004 - Sunday

At the End of All Things

"Glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee...here at the end of all things."

First: if you haven't had the pleasure of seeing the extended DVD version of the Return of the King, and are a fan of the books (or the movies, or both) - please please do. It isn't so much that deleted scenes were added; the movie feels entirely new. 50 minutes of uncut footage were added, and all of was SOOOO important to the storyline.

Back to my point. There's a scene where, towards the end, Frodo and Sam are sitting on a rock surrounded by molten lava, certain of their own deaths. That's when Frodo gives the line I quoted above.

It gave me pause. At the end of all things, at that moment when everything you know is about to end - who would you want to spend that moment with?

I won't bother answering for myself; I can count the possibile people on one hand and still have room left over. I love my friends and family dearly, I do - but if the world were to end and I could only spend those final moments with one person, a list of hundreds narrows considerably. With the New Year coming, it makes for an interesting question to reflect on.

So who would you hope to spend your final moments of eternity with?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Spiritual Currency

December 21, 2004 - Tuesday

"Stories are like spiritual currency"

For all you Neil Gaiman fans. The man is a genius, and I reserve that word for very few, very select individuals. I'm not the type to be inspired by another's work...but his is an exception.

In this particular case I'm reading the "Book of Dreams", a collection of shorts by various authors who were, themselves, inspired by Gaiman's telling of Morpheus, the Endless, and the Dreaming.

The story I'm reading, "An Extra Smidgen of Eternity", has a character on the edge of dying. He's being told a story, and as the story is being told he's being given drugs to ease his pain. He's being visited by both Delirium and Dream, slipping from the one state of subsconsciousness to the other state of unconsciousness. To quote Dream/Morpheus: "Little man, one foot in your own kingdom, another in mine, and ever resisting the inevitable pull of the next."

How deep is that?

And when the inevitable happens and the alluring Death arrives to escort his spirit onward, he refuses to go - because he wants to wait until the person sitting beside him finishes her story. His argument:

"Try to see this from my point of view. Stories are important. They're all that we've got, really. Growing up, I was spat on, ridiculed, beaten, ostracized - and the only thing that kept me going was stories. Stories are hope. They take you out of yourself for a bit, and when you get dropped back in, you're different - you're stronger, you've seen more, you've felt more. Stories are like spiritual currency."

Ain't that some shit?

What's even more...fascinating, or inspiring, to me about this is that these are works which are themselves inspired by Gaiman's work, and even getting this input through a literary version of second-hand smoke I'm still getting a serious contact high.

That takes a certain kind of genius, doesn't it?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Let It Snow

December 19, 2004 - Sunday

Let it snow

It's snowing here in the Big Apple. First snowfall of the season, and fittingly it starts just a day before the winter solstice begins.

There's something calming about snow. I'm sitting here typing by my window, looking out over an ivory blanketed terrace with skeletal trees in the background. The lights of Broadway reflect up the hill at me (yes, Virginia, there IS a Broadway past midtown Manhattan) and there is a brightly lit star across the Harlem River, shining atop a building.

It's the yuletide; all is calm, all is bright. No virgins handy, unfortunately.

It's a time of reflection, of change; it's a time to look deep inside yourself and see who you are - and who you want to be.

If New Year's is the time to make resolutions for the coming three-sixty-five, then maybe the Yule is the time for us to see if we're pleased, or satisfied, with what we've accomplished for the past 12 months. It's the final countdown before this year is done, and the new one begins.

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
A new one's just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
- John Lennon

Friday, December 17, 2004

Angry Toons

Angry Toons

You know, I'm a member of a lot of forums; I've usually got a lot to say (no surprise there), but I find them invaluable resources for certain industries.

So I was pretty damned happy to stumble across a forum for cartoonists, specifically comic strip creators. Now I'm used to these types of forums; people are generally pretty helpful, encouraging, and happy to offer real criticism and advice about your work. I've joined groups for writers, video game designers, board game creators, programmers, artists...and now cartoons. Yay me, right?

Holy mother of us all, I haven't seen such unadulterated anger since my last visit to a forum on religion! For the love of the gods, people, these are cartoonists - they draw and write those funnies you read every sunday, but all I get from them is a lot of bitterness, anger, jealousy, and elitism!

I'm a forum lurker, at least until I've figured out the mindset of all the major players so I know what to expect - no way I'm jumping in a forum until I know who I'll have to defend myself against. But this place scare the bajeezus out of me! www.toontalk.org is the site, and I'd rather cover my head in honey and stick it in a beehive then post up any work I've done on these forums for opinions!

It's as if the old guard of the Cartoon Castle don't want any new people coming in, so they put these nasty, bitter soldiers at the gates to completely discourage any new artists.

Which means, of course, I'm fully planning on storming the gates at some point.

Seriously, it isn't just the vitrol they spew against anyone who doesn't "measure up". There's a certain nastiness by the newspaper-syndicated crowd against the web comic producers, as if they - we, really - took the easy way out.

I shouldn't be surprised, especially since a lot of my own work stems from cynicism - but I'd never discourage anyone from working at it!

These are comments I read on a thread called "What are YOUR tips for web cartoonists?":

"If your comic isn't funny, and it's coming from an "honest" source, go do something else. "

"I'm peed off frequently by how many people supply links to theirs or other peoples work, inferring that it's cutting edge, controversial or brilliant, and then when one clicks on the link one finds it's not brilliant, it's a big pile of immature and/or badly drawn drivel."

"The biggest problem is that too many people are using the net for masturbation, which is what the vast majority of internet cartooning is. That kind of self-pleasuring should be done in private, or at best as a circle jerk amongst a small group of close friends."

"I'm still producing less than desirable attempts at cartooning, I don't have to go looking through drawers. The trick to being a good artist is to realise your drawing stinks and work on making it less pungent."

Boy. I can't wait to ask for THEIR opinions.

When Dead Animals Attack

When Dead Animals Attack

I get on the elevator at work the other day, there are two women already on standing near the back. I slide over towards the buttons and face the door. They're talking.

"Blah blah fur, oh I loved it, it was so soft, blah fur fur ermine mink blah blah chinchilla gotta have it..."

Chinchilla? Isn't that a fuzzy hamster/rabbit looking thing? They're making furs out of chinchilla's now?!

It was a reflex action, but I gave the big annoyed sign. "Hmph." I swear I didn't mean it. I didn't even look their way, I just wanted the damn elevator to open up so I didn't have to hear their drivel.

Silence. Then "whisper whisper whisper" from the woman facing me. I can feel her eyes burning into my back. Hurry up, elevator.

Woman 2. "Well I don't know what's wrong with these animal activists. Have they ever FELT a fur? It's so soft, how can they resist the temptation?"

I've never been so glad to see an elevator door open as I was at that moment.

Because I swear I'd have taken her fur, stuffed it down her throat, pulled it out of her ass and then put it BACK in her mouth.

I'm not an animal activist, really. I like leather. I have two leather jackets, a leather baseball cap, leather shoes. But I also eat beef. Lots of beef. My family is southern, so I'm all about the leftover parts too. Nothing goes to waste there.

What the fuck am I going to do with a mink after you've stripped it?!

...and a chinchilla? For the love of the gods, people...!

But I said nothing. It's too close to Xmas, and I can't afford to get on Santa's naughty list this late in the year.

Just don't let me see them after December 26th.

Let's Stick With Dates, Thorn!

December 17, 2004 - Friday

Let's stick with dates, Thorn!

Three posts in one night, and this after being away from myspace for two weeks.

I love the Omen. More specifically, Damien: Omen II, which has to be one of the best horror films ever made. Forget the gore-fests, I love them in their own way - but for sheer creepiness and subtle evil, there was no better movie. Fact is, however, I loved it because THIS was, to me, how evil should be represented! Uncaring, intelligent, subtle and crafty.

Just the scene where he shows up his history teacher, who is just oh-so-arrogant! Gods (pun intended) any kid should have more knowledge than he does, hence the title of this blog.

AMC is showing it tonight at 1:45am. Looks like I'll be up late, with a bowl of microwave popcorn ready by my side.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree

Let's start with my usual rant: who's brilliant idea was it, anyway, to think "I know, let's celebrate the birth of Gawd by killing a tree, dishonoring its spirit by adorning it with bright lights, ribbons and glass bulbs, and leaving it to rot for 2 weeks or more until we finally get so tired of picking pine needles out of our asses that we haul the dead carcass out to the curb"?

I paint such pretty, pretty pictures, don't I?

So anyway here comes Santa Claus Day, right? The countdown begins, 1 minute past midnight on Thanksgiving Day. Eat, drink, be merry...then shop your ass off.

I'm such a cynic.

Anyway, the point of this little rant is that I went out to do a little scouting of the Xmas Tree scene. I'm going artificial, of course - it's more practical and I don't have to feel any guilt about killing a tree for my own pleasure. I figure this year I'll go arctic white; I've never had a white tree, it's always been green. Be different, right?

Oh and before anyone starts in on the "Hah you hypocrite, you celebrate Xmas and you don't like Xtianity" - when you can rationalize to me why you celebrate the birth of a child in Jeruselem by decorating a pine tree, then you can ask me why I celebrate the winter solstice. Otherwise shut the frag up. Hah.

So here I am in KMart, because where else except there and Target am I going to get a tree, and I find a tree I loke. Realistic enough, good depth, preferred a 4-1/2 footer but I'll live with the 6-footer. $70bucks! Geez. But fine, it'll last me several years. I can do this.

Then I see the brand. Martha Stewart Living.

I walked out, on general principle. Dammit.

Oh well. I know I'll go back and get it, if I don't find another that I like. It just sucks that I'll be forced to admit I bought a Martha Stewart product.

Happy Turkey Day.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Being Divisive

November 18, 2004 - Thursday

Being Divisive

I don't mean to be divisive. I don't. And yet...weeks after the general elections, I'm still angry. Specifically I'm angry at the "red states", for being more focused (I want to say, blinded) on "continuing the war on terror" than on the bigger picture of what our esteemed, re-elected President has done to this country both at home and abroad.

I'm supposed to look at it as water under the bridge, accept that its happened and move on. Get with the program. Go with the flow. Quit arguing about what could have been, what should be, and just support what our President is doing - whether I personally agree with it or not.

Isn't that the very reason (one of the ever-changing reasons, actually) we "freed Iraq" for? To release them from an undemocratic society that inposes the will of their leader upon them, leaving them no free choice, no way to express themselves?

So, to those who say I should join the healing process and come together with "the rest of the country" - does that mean I should give up my beliefs? Should I, then, just conform to the rest of society? No longer voice my discontent?

Because, true believers, I'm reading "join in the healing of this country" as "you lost, there's nothing you can do about it, so just get assimilated and forget your personal standards."

I'd like to see the people of this country come together again, I do. But not at the expense of standing up for what I believe in.

* Today, the House of Representatives took steps to approve the THIRD rise in the national debt in THREE YEARS, raising our national debt by $800 billion to $8.14 TRILLION DOLLARS.

* The Senate is planning to move forward on a White House plan to open the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, now that the November elections gave the Republican base enough votes to push it through.

* The Russian Government announced it is developing a new form of nuclear weapon that "other nuclear powers do not and will not have."

* The Agriculture Department has proposed a rule that would give control over a third of the country's forestry to state governors, opening nearly 60 million acres of FEDERAL forests to logging interests.

* Colin Powell, the most (perhaps only) respected person in the Cabinet - the one person in the administration who preached caution and diligence before invading Iraq - is replaced (by "mutual agreement") with Condoleeza Rice, the President's "yes-woman". (It's no coincidence that Powell vanished from the public radar in the weeks leading up to the election. Try finding a significant quote from him in that time period.)

* In Ohio, nearly 2,600 votes from nine precincts may have been double counted. One precinct reported 131% of registered voters had cast ballots.

* House Republicans yesterday changed a party rule so Tom DeLay, R-Texas, could remain as leader if indicted in a Texas campaign finance investigation that he calls political. The old rule required GOP leaders and committee chairmen charged with a felony to relinquish their positions. The new language orders a case-by-case review, with the leaders retaining their posts until all House Republicans decide their fate.

All of the above has been announced since the general elections on November 2nd. That's 16 days ago, people. Just over 2 weeks.

What's going to happen 2 months from now?

Allow me my anger. Eventually I'll climb down from my pedastal and put away the guns, but for now I need to be angry at the state of my country.

Because if I didn't care so much for it, none of this would matter. Would it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Danke, Herr Doktor

You're gonna love this.

Druggists: New Soldiers of the Moral Majority

Here's an excerpt, for your horror and amusement:

"Mississippi enacted a sweeping statute that went into effect in July that allows health care providers, including pharmacists, to not participate in procedures that go against their conscience. South Dakota and Arkansas already had laws that protect a pharmacist's right to refuse to dispense medicines. Ten other states considered similar bills this year.

The American Pharmacists Association, with 50,000 members, has a policy that says druggists can refuse to fill prescriptions if they object on moral grounds, but they must make arrangements so a patient can still get the pills. Yet some pharmacists have refused to hand the prescription to another druggist to fill.

In Madison, Wis., a pharmacist faces possible disciplinary action by the state pharmacy board for refusing to transfer a woman's prescription for birth-control pills to another druggist or to give the slip back to her. He would not refill it because of his religious views."

Welcome to der New Amerika™, folkeins.

Where does it end? Will the girl taking your order at McDonalds be able to refuse to serve you a cheeseburger because her religion keeps her a vegetarian?

Let's not go so extreme, then. Let's look at the "right to refuse service" these pharmacists have. If I, as a pharmacist, do not believe - for religious or moral reasons - that you should be having sex when you're not married, can I ask to see a marriage license before selling you contraceptives?

The precedent is already there, if they're refusing to sell birth control. In the article we already have an example of someone refusing to sell contraceptives, because they don't believe in their use.

Well you know what? If I'm a vegetarian, I sure as hell wouldn't work at a burger joint. If you have an objection to selling certain drugs...don't work in a place that does.

Cigarette smoking by pregnant women has been found to cause defects in children. So has alcohol. While I'm not condoning the use of either by pregnant women, I also don't believe they should be refused service if trying to buy any. Purchasing is not using.

Can these same pharmacists refuse to sell over-the-counter cold medicines to you, if they morally believe you shouldn't be using them?

Can these same pharmacists refuse to sell you a pregnancy test, if they don't believe you should be having sex?

Where the fuck do they get off telling me what I can, and can't, buy? If you sell it, I can buy it. Don't put your moral judgements on me!

This is a back-door anti-abortionist policy. If it's okay for you to morally condemn a woman to prevent her from avoiding pregnancy, then what is to stop you - by the same logic - from preventing her from terminating a pregnancy?

Jesusland indeed.

Is this why Bush wants to prevent prescription drugs from being bought from Canada? So these woman have to go into a good-old-American-pharmacy and be told "You evil spawn of Satan! Fornicator! Jezabel!" and sent home to reflect on the evils of her life?

This isn't only pharmacists, people. Apparently there are various clauses around the country for Health Care Workers, exempting them from liability if they refuse to offer you service on grounds of moral or religious opposition.

A health care worker. Refusing. To offer you service.

What the fuck is wrong with this country? Are we even IN America anymore? We invade Iraq to impose our will, I mean, free them from a dictatorship, and here we are in our own rapidly-expanding hierocracy where the Church is Law, and freedom is a term relative to the freedoms the Church of America offers you.

Do what thou wilt. As long as the Bible says you can.

Picture this, true believer. You can be refused medical service by a doctor in Michigan if you are gay, and that doctor believes being gay is a sin against God.

You don't have to be gay. You can be pregnant and not married. Or maybe you're an interracial couple. Maybe you're not even Christian.


New Amerika Medical Form:

Question 1: Are you a Christian

__ Yes (continue)

__ No (get the fuck out of my hospital, heathen!

...doesn't this scare anyone else?

Letter To The Red States

November 10, 2004 - Wednesday

Letter to the Red States of Bush's Amerika

I found this blog repaste on a myspacer's ( ponycore ) page and found it extremely well written and to the point that many of us "Kerry-ites" tried to make. It's a good read. Enjoy.
Sorry, I try not to deluge people with my ramblings. But I had to write this and, having written it, had to send it. Even though I don't know anyone I can send it to (without alienating my Republican in-laws, who are the only "middle country" people I know.)

I am writing this letter to the people in the red states in the middle of the country -- the people who voted for George W. Bush. I am writing this letter because I don't think we know each other.

So I'll make an introduction. I am a New Yorker who voted for John Kerry. I used to live in California, and if I still lived there, I would vote for Kerry. I used to live in Washington, DC, and if I still lived there, I would vote for Kerry. Kerry won in all three of those regions.

Maybe you want to know more about me. Or maybe not; maybe you think you know me already. You think I am some anti-American anarchist because I dislike George W. Bush. You think that I am immoral and anti-family, because I support women's reproductive freedom and gay rights. You think that I am dangerous, and even evil, because I do not abide by your religious beliefs.

Maybe you are content to think that, to write me off as a "liberal" -- the dreaded "L" word -- and rejoice that your candidate has triumphed over evil, immoral, anti-American, anti-family people like me. But maybe you are still curious. So here goes: this is who I am.

I am a New Yorker. I was here, in my apartment downtown, on September 11th. I watched the Towers burn from the roof of my building. I went inside so that I couldn't see them when they fell. I had friends who were inside. I have a friend who still has nightmares about watching people jump and fall from the Towers. He will never be the same. How many people like him do you know? People that can't sit in a restaurant without plotting an escape route, in case it blows up?

I am a worker. I work across the street from the Citigroup Center, which the government told us is a "target" of terrorism. Later, we found out they were relaying very old information, but it was already too late. They had given me bad dreams again. The subway stop near my office was crowded with bomb-sniffing dogs, policemen in heavy protective gear, soldiers. Now, every time I enter or exit my office, all of my possessions are X-rayed to make sure I don't have any weapons. How often are you stopped by a soldier with a bomb-sniffing dog outside your office?

I am a neighbor. I have a neighbor who is a 9/11 widow. She has two children. My husband does odd jobs for her now, like building bookshelves. Things her husband should do. He uses her husband's tools, and the two little girls tell him, "Those are our daddy's tools." How many 9/11 widows and orphans do you know? How often do you fill in for their dead loved ones?

I am a taxpayer. I worked my butt off to get where I did, and so did my parents. My parents saved and borrowed and sent me to college. I worked my way through graduate school. I won a full tuition scholarship to law school. All for the privilege of working 2,600 hours last year. That works out to a 50 hour week, every week, without any vacation days at all. I get to work by 9 am and rarely leave before 9 pm. I eat dinner at my office much more often than I eat dinner at home. My husband and I paid over $70,000 in federal income tax last year. At some point in the future, we will have to pay much more -- once this country faces its deficit and the impossible burden of Social Security. In fact, the areas of the country that supported Kerry -- New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts -- they are the financial centers of the nation. They are the tax base of this country. How much did you pay, Kansas? How much did you contribute to this government you support, Alabama? How much of this war in Iraq did you pay for?

I am a liberal. The funny part is, liberals have this reputation for living in Never-Neverland, being idealists, not being sensible. But let me tell you how I see the world: I see America as one nation in a world of nations. Therefore, I think we should try to get along with other nations. I see that gay people exist. Therefore, I think they should be allowed to exist, and be treated the same as other people. I see ways in which women are not allowed to control their own bodies. Therefore, I think we should give women more control over their bodies. I see that people have awful diseases. Therefore, I think we should enable scientists to try to cure them. I see that we have a Constitution. Therefore, I think it should be upheld. I see that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Therefore, I think that Iraq was not an imminent danger to me. It seems so pragmatic to me. How do you see the world? Do you really think voting against gay marriage will keep people from being gay? Would you really prefer that people continue to die from Parkinson's disease? Do you really not care about the Constitutional rights of political detainees? Would you really have supported the war if you knew the truth, or would you have wanted to spend more of our money on health care, job training, terrorism preparedness?

I am an American. I have an American flag flying outside my home. I love my home more than anything. I love that I grew up right outside New York City. I first went to the Statue of Liberty with my 5th grade class, and my mom and dad took me to the Empire State Building when I was 8. I love taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I loved living in Washington DC and going on dates to the Lincoln Memorial. It is because I love this country so much that I argue with my political opponents as much I do.

I am not safe. I never feel safe. My in-laws live in a small town in Ohio, and that town has received more federal funding, per capita, for terrorism preparedness than New York City has. I take subways and buses every day. I work in a skyscraper across the street from a "target." I have emergency supplies and a spare pair of sneakers in my desk, in case something happens while I'm at work. Do you? How many times a month do you worry that your subway is going to blow up? When you hear sirens on the street, do you run to the window to make sure everything is okay? When you hear an airplane, do you flinch? Do you dread beautiful, blue-skied September days? I don't know a single New Yorker who doesn't spend the month of September on tip-toes, superstitiously praying for rain so we don't have to relive that beautiful, blue-skied day.

I am lonely. I feel that we, as a nation, have alienated all our friends and further provoked our enemies. I feel unprotected. Most of all I feel alienated from my fellow citizens, because I don't understand what you are thinking. You voted for a man who started a war in Iraq for no reason, against the wishes of the entire world. You voted for a man whose lack of foresight and inability to plan has led to massive insurgencies in Iraq, where weapons are disappearing into the hands of terrorists. You voted for a man who let Osama Bin Laden escape into the hills of Afghanistan so that he could start that war in Iraq. You voted for a man who doesn't want to let people love who they want to love; doesn't want to let doctors cure their patients; doesn't want to let women rule their destinies. I don't understand why you voted for this man. For me, it is not enough that he is personable; it is not enough that he seems like one of the guys. Why did you vote for him? Why did you elect a man that lied to us in order to convince us to go to war? (Ten years ago you were incensed when our president lied about his sex life; you thought it was an impeachable offense.) Why did you elect a leader who thinks that strength cannot include diplomacy or international cooperation? Why did you elect a man who did nothing except run away and hide on September 11?

Most of all, I am terrified. I mean daily, I am afraid that I will not survive this. I am afraid that I will lose my husband, that I will never have children, that I will never grow old and watch the sunset in a backyard of my own. I am afraid that my career -- which should end with a triumphant and good-natured roast at a retirement party in 2035 -- will be cut short by an attack on me and my colleagues, as we sit sending emails and making phone calls one ordinary afternoon. Is your life at stake? Are you terrified?

I don't think you are. I don't think you realize what you have done. And if anything happens to me or the people I love, I blame you. I wanted you to know that.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Would You Be My Friend

November 4, 2004 - Thursday

Would you be my friend?

Now don't go and get all excited here. There was a point to that subject.

I was crusing profiles and blogs when I came across a question that has come up with others: "Why do people randomly ask to be your friend, on My Space but then not leave a message, intimation or a reason as to why?"

Now, I never really thought much about it before. It's no biggie to me. If you send me a friend request I go look at your profile and decide if you have enough interest factor to toss you into my swamp of friends. No offense to the gators, newts and snakefish already there :warmfuzzy:

But this question, on this particular day, got those brain cells firing up. Why don't we, in general, send a message? Why is it so easy to click that "Add as Friend" button and pray we win the lotto?

I'll tell you, true believers. It's because clicking that little button keeps things generic. There's no...personal touch to it. Which is ironic, considering what you're asking to do.

Think about it. If you send a message to someone outside your friend circle, the only way you get added is 1) if you also send a friend request, 2) if they like what you send and send you a friend request or...

3) you ask, directly, in your message: "Will you be my friend?"

Now you may try to cool it up a bit. "Yo, let's be pals!" "So hit me back and add me to your list", "I'll add to you mine if you add me to yours", blah blah blah. In the end you still sound like that smelly kid in 4th grade who transferred school late in the semester and ended up sitting next to you in home room.

Nobody likes to beg. And there just isn't any nice way to say "Will you be my friend."

The button is your friend. If they decline, you never know! You can live your life never wondering, "Why didn't xxDubyaSucks!xx add me? Did they even read my message? What could I have said different? Did I come on too strong? Maybe I shouldn't have used the words "love" and "handcuffs" in that message! Arrrrgh!!!"

Hey Tom, here's a thought: add a message section to the Add As a Friend link, would ya?

In the meantime, folks...click that anonymous little button to your heart's content.

Anything to keep me from talking about the "election". Americans suck. Well, 51% of us anyway.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I'm Not Evil, Really

October 29, 2004 - Friday

I'm not evil. Really.

Had our office Halloween Party the other night. It didn't totally suck. But that's not what we're here to discuss.

Just before the festivities began I ventured down to the file room, to hang with a few buds there before we hit the spookfest. There happens to be one particular woman there who I just generally dislike. We'll call her "D".

D was excited at going to the party, voicing her anticipation of the food there. Yes, D is a bit of a hefty woman and enjoys a good meal.

Enter, moi.

Me: "So...you're going to the Halloween party?"
Her: "Yup!"
Me: "But...you can't."
Her: "Why not?!" (very indignantly)
Me: "Aren't you a Born Again Christian?"
Her: "Yes, so?"
Me: "And don't you point out, every year, how celebrating Halloween is devil worship?"
Her: "But I'm not celebrating Halloween, I'm just going to get some food and leave!"

[If you've ever seen "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", you know exactly how the grin spread across my face at this statement.]

Me: .... (pause for effect)
Me: "Well, if you're going to a Halloween party, and going with people in Halloween costumes, and eating food set out for the party...then you'd be celebrating Halloween. Which, to you, would be devil worship, right? I mean, you can't eat food meant to celebrate the Devil, can you?"
Her: .... (silence)
Me: (shrug) "Oh well, it's up to you. I'm already going to burn in Hell, doesn't matter to me. See you there!"

I did, admittedly, take some personal delight in seeing her grab her coat and leave for home.

But I'm not evil. Really.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

What About The Iraqi Citizens?

October 28, 2004 - Thursday

What about the Iraqi Citizens?

You probably read that header and thought "WTF?" And you'd be right to do so, cuz that was exactly my reaction!

This crisp, cold October morning I left my house for work and, while walking through the park to the subway, saw a sign I'd seen all week announcing the upcoming neighborhood Halloween Party for this Sunday, with candy and fun for all. Nice big sign, I'm sure all the kiddies can't wait.

But this particular morning I saw an 8-1/2x11" rectangle of paper taped smack dab in the middle, with writing on it I couldn't make out from across the street. I don't know what made me cross, but I did and this is what I read:

"What about the Iraqi Citizens? Where's their candy?"

Cue to: WTF?!?!?!?

What is wrong with people? Was that necessary? It's a goddamned sign for a neighborhood-organized, kids halloween party in the park! What the HELL does that have to do with Iraq, this moronic war, and/or our idiotic President-elect?

I was pissed, I mean royally pissed! I tore that stupid paper off the sign and happily crumpled it into a ball, tossing it into the nearest garbage can. I don't know who put the sign up, but don't let me catch your stupid ass doing it again! I swear, I'll duct-tape you to the fence and let you rot all night while you think about how absolutely pointless it was to mess up someone else's fun!


Okay, rant over. That's out of my system now, I can relax.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

July 5th Christmas Sale

October 14, 2004 - Thursday

Next: July 5th Christmas Sale

This is becoming an annual rant.

It's Halloween, people. Why is it that I go to the store for my annual shot of dark and mysterious happy-juice-that-is-halloween, the 2nd week of October, and right there next to the Halloween stuff are the beginnings of Xmas goodies.

Fuck you, Target.

Why is it so much to ask, that I get to enjoy the month leading up to my favorite holiday? I fully expect, since there is no real holiday after the 4th of July, to start seeing Christmas stuff on sale right after that.

What happened to the days when kids would go trick or treating, parents would have parties for the neighborhood kids and play bobbing for apples, when the grandmas on the block would make candy and caramel apples to hand out when the kids came a'knocking?

When adults weren't too ashamed or embarrased to play dress up for one FRIGGIN' night, to play out their fantasy by dressing differently? To be risque, to go overboard, to be loud and boisterous and care-free?

What happened to the halloween I remember, when adults could be a kid for a night, and kids can BE kids, the way they should be?

Every year I find myself working harder and harder to get people into the holiday spirit (pun intended) - and every year I feel more and more determined to keep the fight going.

This is October. October is for Halloween. It's for ghosts, ghouls, goblins, for Jack Skellington and Oogy Boogy, for vampires and wolfmen and fairies and devils, for little princesses and young knights in shining aluminum foil armor, for trick or treating and jumping out at people and shouting "Boo!"

So here's a hearty "Bite Me" to Frosty, Rudolph, St. Nick and all those little elves who we know are at the North Pole shagging the Mrs. while Santy Claus is out dingling the wives in their beds. December is YOUR time.

Stay out of October. Damn you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fallen Hero

Fallen Hero
Current mood: nostalgic

Superman has passed away.

I grew up in a time where I had the benefit of seeing reruns of the old George Reeve black and white serials, and seeing Superman come to life in living color in the form of Christopher Reeves. To me, and many like me, he WAS Superman.

The idea of him in that wheelchair...saddened me. That he died while fighting to find a way to come back from a devastating injury that had doctors writing him off, heartened me.

Watching him return to acting, living his life, even - in a somewhat tongue and cheek manner - mentoring the "new" Superman in the Smallville series - gave hope to many.

I'm sad to see him gone, but I'm happy to have seen him, in the end, as a man fighting to reclaim his life - not struggling to endure his existance.

Those of you out there who play the occasional computer game will appreciate a tribute happening in the multiplayer online game, City of Heroes.

Fittingly, I think, for a game based on comic books and superheroes, the players have all agreed to pay tribute to the man in their own special way. The players on the Liberty server have agreed to alter their costumes to all black, with an S logo on their chests.

Our superheroes will wear this tribute for the remainder of the week, to honor a man who epitomized the character he brought to life in the theaters.

Here's to you, Chris. Up, up and away!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Lucas, Amazon, and The Trilogy

September 23, 2004 - Thursday

Lucas, Amazon, and The Trilogy

My name is Eric. And I am a Star Wars Geek.

Needless to say I got my trilogy today. What, you say? Why not Tuesday? Because, you neophyte, I'm a geek - not a dupe. Why should I stand in line overnight at Best Buy just so I can get my copy at midnight on Tuesday morning for $70 when I can, in the space of a few minutes during my lunch break (hah, yeah right!) at work log onto www.amazon.com, click here-click-there and order my own copy for $41.99? All props to Amazon for shipping it in two days with free shipping (hey uber-geeks: no sales tax! Mwahahhahaha!)

The sad part of this tale is I did spend several long minutes debating - thanks to Amazon's 4-image format - which "version" of the box to buy. They gave the impression that there were 2 versions (and knowing George that wouldn't have surprised me, more on that later) - one with Vader on the cover, and one with the classic Luke/Leia/Han pose. Not to mention a gold fullscreen and a silver widescreen.

Of course, I chose the Vader version. As it happens, the two sides of the box have both Vader and the trio. Dammit.

Even sadder, I'm going to my local rent-a-center and price the rental of a 51-inch digital tv. Just so I can watch three movies I've seen a billion times. Why?

Because having waited so damned long for this, even foregoing the VHS version because I KNEW a dvd edition had to be coming soon, I want to see it in all its shining, THX mastered, digital glory. I want to jump at the sounds, I want to see every bolt on R2's shell, I want to be able to count the sands of the Tattooine desert if I have to!

Okay I really just want to recapture some of that old magic I felt when I first saw the movies, and the only way that can happen is by seeing it on some semblance of a big screen.

Lucas, you bastard - if you screwed this version up in any way I'll fly all the way to your Skywalker Ranch, shove a lit lightsaber up your sorry behind and shove these dvds down your sellout throat! I'm giving him some credit for correcting his last mistake - "fixing" the VHS versions so that Han Solo fires at Greedo ONLY after Greedo fires first, which (for those older and wiser of us) we know is a blatant Republican-esque spin story. Han shot first!

As I hear it, however, he decided to waffle (Dubya, are you taking notes?) and compromised - this version has them shooting simultaneously, with Greedo missing his shot.

I'm not even going to break the plastic seal on the box until I get the TV in. 34" just won't cut it. Not for this.

May the Force be with you.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Great Blasphemy

August 6, 2004 - Friday

The Great Blasphemy

I've had, for some time now, a novel in my head; it was in hibernation for a while, probably while I worked out my life, but now it's come back to the fore with a vengence. I'm in "I need to write" mode, and that's a good thing; I miss writing, it's been way too long. It's a story in an SF setting - and that's Science Friggin' Fiction, not this new "speculative fiction" they're calling the genre now. Based on the so-called Great Book, with my trademark twists and turns.

Every writer wants to write their version of the Great American Novel, the one book that will make their name a literary household word. I suppose I'm no exception. Except. Because I have to be the exception while not being an exception. Except I don't want to define a genre, I want to see picket lines outside the stores selling my books as the Xtian Right declare me a heathen of the highest order, and decry my book as a tool of the Adversary.

Hence, the Great Blasphemy.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Back in the Saddle, Part II

July 16, 2004 - Friday

Back in the Saddle II

I have a home again!

Rewind a bit. After the fire I pretty much needed a roof and 4 walls, ASAP. I'd crashed with a friend for a few days but I had no intention of staying there. A few calls to ads in the Voice and I landed in Astoria, new territory for this wandering monkey. The price wasn't great but it was in a quiet, clean neighborhood. The catch? It was a share.

Now, I know some of you out there do the share thing and it works for you, and to some extent life was all roses and sunshine. Maybe I was just in the wrong share situation, maybe I was with the wrong roommate, but after a while I started to realize I had to get the hell out of Dodge. Why?

- no living room. It was a 3-story family house, and the family lived on the bottom 2 floors. I shared the top floor with a roomie. 2 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Try having friends over in that situation.

- the GF situation. It's a little hard having sex when you've got 2 teenage girls and their parents sleeping directly beneath you. Factor in a roommate next door with "weird" written all over him and you start wondering what he might be doing while you're in the middle of it...ugh.

- sharing space. Now, I lost damn near everything in the fire so I showed up with a few items and sack of clothes. That changed as I started getting new things. Suddenly the space I had became too small and I started feeling claustrophobic, trapped and cluttered. I also cook a lot, so splitting a fridge and cabinet space was less than ideal.

All this added up to an apartment hunt, which is a nightmare in today's NYC market. Holy crap, the rents people are asking for! I saw one on craigslist.org (highly recommend!) that was going for $1000 in the village, but dammit was the village! I ran there after work, saw there were 3 other people there with me to see the place, and went up to check it out. Nice space, perfect - then the bombshell. It's a share!! With 3 other people!!! WTF!!! $1000 for a room, in a tiny ass apartment in the village? Are you nuts?

So I looked high and wide, and lo and behold in the hills of the REAL Upper Upper West Side of Manhattan I found my home. A studio apartment in the hills of Inwood, 2 steps from the forested lands of Inwood Hill and overlooking Broadway. I've even got a back door leading to a patio; bbq anyone?

I love this damned city.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Chunky Monkey

July 15, 2004 - Thursday

Chunky Monkey

Damn, life is getting too hectic. I'm sitting here at work with 3:27 left in my official workday, browsing MySpace to kill the boredom and suddenly there's this flash of happiness that floods my synapses and has me eager to get the fuck home.

Why? Because I've been so damned busy for the past few weeks that I forgot I have a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream in the fridge. Now, I don't care how old you are, what sex you are, what makes your dick hard or your pussy wet - nothing says lovin' like a spoonful of Chunky Monkey!

I've got drama to deal with when I get off this shift and papers to sign (more to come, on both), but I gotta tell ya I'm looking forward to that goddamned ice cream!

- da Monkey out

Friday, July 09, 2004

Holy Moses, I'm A Patriot

July 9, 2004 - Friday

Holy Moses, I'm a patriot?!

Small one this time. Minor rant.

It's the 4th of Joo-lai, and I'm coming home late from the usual gathering of friends.

I hear chatter from across the street; the naybs had a little shindig, and the dying
remnants of their hen party is hanging around outside the house yacking it up and
gulping down cheap wine.

Now...I'm a native Noo-Yawker. This ain't shee-it to me. It ain't noise until
its 3am and you got the papa-chulos outside in their hoopties, blaring some salsa
and hiphop right outside your window while fire engine/police/ambulance sirens wail
a distress call in the background. Then - and only then - will I call it noise.
So the poor man's Dead Poet Society happening across from my window was no biggie.

What got my dick hard was their choice of decoration - union jacks, arrayed in a
nice little row hanging from their balcony and lit up so no one would miss them.
For those not in the know, the British flag is called the Union Jack.

So, here we are on the celebration of this country's birth, so to speak - celebrating
our goddamned independence from the United Fucking Kingdom, and these yahoos are
parading the one flag that would be considered the antithesis of that struggle!

The thing is, I appreciate the irony of it. I do. But oddly, this tiny little
friggin' Paul Revere that somehow found it's psychological self buried in my subconscious
decided that today was a good day to ring that gods-fucked bell and start yelling
"The British are Coming!"

So I was pissed. I glared at that house every morning for the next few days before
I finally let go of it.

Surprised the fuck out of me. Patriotism. Who knew?

I'd still kick George Jr's ass on national television, tho'. The fucker.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Back In The Saddle

June 29, 2004 - Tuesday

Back in the Saddle

Damn it's been a long time, hasn't it? Where the fuck have I been?

To make a long, fucked up story short I had a fire in my place back at the end of October and damn-near lost everything. Sux to be me, doesn't it? It's incredibly hard to describe the full range of emotions that ran through my brain when I got the call from a friend in my building late that night saying "Dude...your place is gone."

And I mean, it was all literally gone. I got to see the remains of the place, it was an empty dark shell of charcoal and ashes.

What pained me most were the loss of two things: my dog and my writings/drawings/photos.

The former was the sweetest grey/white, blue-eyed husky you've ever had the pleasure to meet. Maia, it's been 7 months and I still miss your goony face looking at me like I was your best friend in the world. You deserved better. I watched her being born, I raised her and then had the agonizing pain of carrying her blood-spattered corpse out of what used to be my apartment. It'll be a long, long time before I take on the responsibility of caring for another animal; not just because I don't think I can handle it yet, but because I'm not ready to "replace" my girl.

The loss of the latter was a different sort of heart-wrenching experience. All the little notes and research for potential story ideas, all the outlines and concepts I'd jotted down over the past 15 or so years, all the sketches and drawings and letters I'd written and saved, the poems I'd written down, the photos I'd taken of all the people I've known and loved over the years...

...gone in a blaze of fire.

It's like a part of me, a part of my history, my inner core, was extinguished in that fire. I felt like I lost a sense of identity, of who I was - because so much of who I'd been was in those papers and photos and drawings. A part of me burned in that fire, and it took me a long time to get over that. Hell, I'm still not over it - but at least I've climbed back up onto the hill and continued my ascent up the slope.

And there's the rub of the life of a Capricorn. I read, once, that we Cappys are destined (doomed?) to forever strive...just to strive. To always reach, to climb, to take the hard road to the mountaintop. It's why we're the SeaGoat - because we start in the deepest of oceans and climb from the stormy seas up the side of the highest mountains.

Fortunately for me my Monkey side is stronger than I give it credit for; I think it's that side of my personality that keeps me climbing when most would just give up, squat at the base of the mountain and wait for life to end. That damnable Monkey refuses to believe I'm beaten and keeps me moving, always searching for another handhold, a foothold, a place to lift myself higher and higher despite the weather, the terrain, despite anything that would knock me back or keep me down.

So oook oook, baby. The Monkey's back.