The thing I liked best about John Kerry was that he wasn't George Bush.
The thing I like best about Barack Obama is that he is Barack Obama.
(I want to believe.)
Ever since Moonlighting, the refrain has gone something like this: "Oh, ----- and ----- should never have gotten together! The chemistry was totally gone after that!" The perception seems to be that once two people hit the sheets, that's it; the chemistry dies, the sweet slow burn of sexual tension dissipates like morning mist, and there's nothing left for the
voyeurs fans except watching the pre-consummation reruns and sighing for the good old days. It's accepted as gospel, somehow, but I think that, like most gospels, it's fantastically skewed.
Where does this idea come from? Damned if I know; it seems as wrongheaded and weird to me as the idea that a woman is tainted by her sexual encounters while a man is enhanced by his. Maybe it comes from the same kind of warped underlying ideology. People seem only to want possibility; actuality is perhaps a little too real, a little too mundane. Fantasies work best if they remain in the realm of the unattained or the unattainable (or, to quote a song that I hadn't heard or thought of since about 1987, love rusts when it rains on romance). Missed-it-by-that-much hallway encounters and doppelganger kisses on circa-1939 ghost ships are OK, but Scully giggling in bed over Mulder's scratchy beard is maybe a little too close to home, a little too much like real life for some--maybe even most--fans to bear. They want it epic; they want it big; they want it not to resemble what goes on in their own life, if only so they can project themselves away from that life and into something else for a moment or so. I understand it; but I don't need it in that way. Maybe that means I'm happy? Able not only to have what I want, but want what I've got? Maybe.
UST* is great; but RST* is definitely good, too.
All that said, there is something unutterably lovely about the idea, at least, of the First Time; there can be only one, and if in reality those first times are usually marked by awkward fumblings and doubts and fears and self-recriminations, then in our fantasies we want to see all those things burned away so that the beauty and mystery and wonder of the thing can shine through. I'll be the first to admit that it's more fun not only to read but to write initiations as opposed to continuations--though I'm personally inclined to realify them up a bit with complications. I'm just perverse that way. These days it seems no one knows how to do the continuation anymore, not in fiction and not in reality. As someone who's been with the same person for nearly 14 years now, I realize that I'm in a statistical minority, but I also think it gives me this different perspective, and the understanding that the thrill doesn't necessarily go, and the chemistry can remain intact, and despite what bullshit you might have been fed, things can remain hot for a very long time. An old well-tended hearth fire with a thick bed of embers can burn more brightly and more powerfully than one that's been freshly-struck. If you were wondering.
My real-life marriage and the fictional partnership of Mulder and Scully have lasted about the same length of time, so I had no problem whatsoever with seeing the characters in a domestic interior. It still worked for me, if only because I have ample evidence that such things can and do really happen. My credibility was not strained. Unfortunately my ability to focus on this topic any further is being strained by the fact that my malfunctioning PC is driving me insane AND some ditz in a nearby aisle has got out the nail polish and the chemical stench is giving me a neurological condition; but I think you get where I'm going with all this!
(UST = Unresolved Sexual Tension; RST = Resolved Sexual Tension. And yes, I AM a complete geek.)
This is nine kinds of awesome.
Family sees face of Jesus in kitten's fur.
Her cuteness alone is blessing enough, but hey--anything to encourage creative idolatry. I want to see this kitten being worshipped; I want to see shrines in her honor, tribute of catnip and kitty treats being presented. Bast would approve, I think. Maybe Jesus would, too.
Pay no attention to the critics (who are, after all, paid to criticize): The X-Files: I Want To Believe is entirely worth the price of admission and a couple of hours of your life. It's dark and moody and gritty, hearkening back to some of the earliest episodes of the series; the action moves along at a steady pace, building tension effectively. The evil herein is, well, pure X-Files: at once thoroughly weird and peculiarly pedestrian, with a core of conflict underlying. At its heart, this is a story about faith, and belief, and as such it's too introspective to make much of a summer splash, especially coming out on the heels of megahits like The Dark Knight. Nothing blows up; but it will make you think, and if you're one of us who still feels an emotional investment in the characters of Mulder and Scully, it might even make you tear up a little. I enjoyed it thoroughly and with no reservation whatsoever. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.
And here's another story that made me happy: the marriage of the bishop and the businessman. Back in my churchgoing days, I had the pleasure of attending services led by then-Dean Wolf, and though I've left the practice of Christianity behind, the impression she made on me has remained. A most remarkable woman, I wish her the happiest of ever afters.
Over at Pharyngula, coverage of the tale of a college student who received death threats for smuggling a consecrated Host out of Mass has elicited an enormous comment string. I found this therein:
Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert to Catholicism or leave Italy.
There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the pope offered a deal.
He would have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community.
If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy; if the Pope won, they would have to convert or leave.
The Jewish people met and picked an aged and wise Rabbi to represent them in the debate.
However, as the Rabbi spoke no Italian, and the Pope spoke no Yiddish, they agreed that it would be a 'silent' debate.
On the chosen day the Pope and Rabbi sat opposite each other.
The Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.
The Rabbi looked back and raised one finger.
Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.
The Rabbi pointed to the ground where he sat.
The Pope brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine.
The Rabbi pulled out an apple.
With that the Pope stood up and declared that he was beaten, and that the Rabbi was too clever. The Jews could stay in Italy.
Later the Cardinals met with the Pope and asked him what had happened?
The Pope said, 'First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity.
He responded by holding up one finger to remind me there is still only one God common to both our beliefs.
Then, I waved my finger around my head to show him that God was all around us.
He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us.
I pulled out the wine and wafer, to show that God absolves us of all our sins.
He pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin.
He had beaten me at every move and I could not continue.
Meanwhile, the Jewish community gathered to ask the Rabbi how he had won.
'I haven't a clue' said the Rabbi.
First he said to me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger.
Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I said to him that we were staying right here.
'And then what?' asked a woman.
'Who knows?' said the Rabbi.
'He took out his lunch so I took out mine.'
I am starting to suspect a trend toward people writing books about their alleged hauntings or possessions or whatever, not so much for profit's sake as to lure the unwary paranormal enthusiast into a proselytizing situation. There's a suspicious similarity to these tales, many of which are cropping up on shows like Discovery Channel's A Haunting; and they almost invariably end in some sort of religious deliverance. Then you do a little digging on teh intartubes and find the person's website, and learn that out of their haunting has come a ministry. Hmmm.
(To say that I doubt the veracity of many or most of these claims would be a mild understatement. In some cases where I've had the dubious fortune to read sample bits of their dreadful books, I can only think that perhaps these were frustrated horror novelists who couldn't get anyone sane to publish their dreck unless they shifted to a first-person narrative, pitched it as a True! Life! Haunting! along with the religious conversion angle, and sold it to a Christian publishing house. But y'all know how cynical I tend to be.)
And the whole "ohnoezdabblingindangerousOCCULTFORCES11eleventy!!" thing has been done to death, brought back from the grave, and done back to death again. Seriously. If just reciting some words from a book you bought at the mall, or playing with a piece of cardboard with letters and numbers printed on it, has unleashed the fiends of hell upon your household, then perhaps UR DOIN IT RONG. I've known quite a few witches, magicians, occultists, and the like over the course of my life, and I have yet to see any of them who've been demon-possessed or cursed or haunted. The one person I have known who claimed to be demon-possessed exhibited many symptoms suggestive of undiagnosed schizophrenia (with manic features, so there was the potential for a touch of undiagnosed bipolar disorder there, too). So, um, yeah. The whole "witchcraft/ouija boards/meditation/etc. opens a doorway to evil forces" meme has been a part of the popular culture at least since the 1980s, when I became aware of it in the middle of the Satanic Panics of that decade.
I suppose I should just be thankful that they're no longer pushing the canard about rock music conjuring up the devil and his minions. Perhaps the Dark Ones hate rap and crap music as much as I do.
If you had asked me, months or even years ago, who I thought would be the least-electable people in a US presidential race, I would have told you:
1) A Black man
2) Any woman
3) Someone with an Arab-sounding name
I have unfortunately seen no reason to revise that assessment at any time during this primary season. And i used to think this country was so modern and progressive!
(Also: The Rachael Ray kerfluffle? It's a paisley scarf, a fashion accessory, not ZOMGTERRORISMKAFFIYEHOMG! And the new Starbucks logo? A Siren. A split-tailed fish lady. Not a prostitute, not OMGPORNOCOFFEE! I swear this world has gone absolutely batshit bonkers. C. says it's because They know they can't win, so they're throwing some death-throe tantrums. Sounds about right--but it's still bloody annoying.)
I got this from Lover of Strife, whose blog I've recently discovered.
How it works: these are the 110 top banned books. Bold what you’ve read, italicize what you’ve read part of. Read more.
#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire (and in French, no less! Ha!)
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Some of these are obvious, but Little House on the Prairie? What?
I've got a lot of work to do and not a lot to say about it. But don't worry; I'll be back to ranting away before you know it!