Friday, December 29, 2006

Happiness is a warm puppy...

...and it's also watching Red Delicious get married.

Congratulations, guys.

Monday, December 25, 2006

I've been Tagged! It BURNS...

So Deb Lipp meme-tagged me, which in some primitive cultures means I'm officially her youngest and most insolent wife. While you're chewing on that, try to figure out which four of the following five biographical tidbits are true:

1) I’m a consummate and chronic Yenta. However, Jack has forbidden me to match-make ever again, on account of how embarrassed he was when we attended a chic gay social event, and I attempted to fix one of the Fab Five up with a beefy heterosexual paramedic.

2) In 7th Grade, a friend and I found a book on Witchcraft at the library, and we tried to use it to put a curse on our science teacher. The next day, he went home due to sudden and violent illness (later determined to have been food poisoning). We swore we’d never practice Witchcraft again.

3) I totally made out with the Ghost of Christmas Past.

4) When we were kids, my twin brother levitated on two separate occasions. The second incident was witnessed by our elementary school art teacher, who was so freaked out that she immediately called my mother. They stayed friends for 10 years.

5) I have received numerous awards for my renditions of Disco and R&B hits. Most recently, I was recognized for my performances of “I Will Survive” and “Tell Me Something Good,” neither of which took place in a karaoke bar. I’ve just got that much soul.

And with that, I tag Apocrypha Jones, Ted Walker, and that guy who writes “The Wild Hunt.”

Monday, December 11, 2006

Truancy: the Next Generation

While shopping for fromage-intensive entertainments at my local used video store, I overheard the following conversation between two grubby teenagers.

Grubby Teen #1: "Hey, check out the movie I just bought! Let's skip school tomorrow and watch it!"

Grubby Teen #2: "Tomorrow's Saturday. We don't have school."

Grubby Teen #1: "Oh."

Beat.

Grubby Teen #1: "Let's skip school on Monday and watch it!"

Children are our future. Be afraid.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nun-sequitur

The Almighty and Terrible Spirit Powers of Community Theatre have decreed that it's about damn time for me to crawl back into the spotlight, so I'm doing another play. Specifically, I'm doing (woot!) Bell, Book and Candle, directed by none other than Red Delicious himself. Rehearsals are bringing back blurry, semi-coherent memories of when we were college roommates and life was like an extended episode of Pinky and the Brain, if that show took place in a gay piano bar:

RD: "So wot are we goin' to do tonight, Evn?"

Me: "The same thing we do every night, Red Delicious... get drunk and sing show tunes."

So far, everything indicates that we're going to be putting up an absolutely kick-ass production. The only hitch to date is that one of our actresses needed to step down due to time constraints and job-related commitments. Which, while unfortunate, is completely understandable. However, said actress doesn't realize that if she can't do a play with me, she is obligated to infiltrate the order of satanic nuns I recently discovered.

I don't know that they're actual "nuns" per se, and I admit that my concept of such orders has been inaccurately colored by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Marvel Comics (I picture them looking like the Pussycat Dolls, except wearing habits and little devil horns). But I'm dying to know what goes on at their meetings. Besides, if I can get someone planted on the inside, there's a good chance I can coerce the other satanic nuns into coming to one of our performances. If I play my cards right, this will lead to one of the most fabulous press releases ever written.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Join the Klub

A subordinate and I spent a good chunk of the morning regailing our cubicle mates with our mutual hatred of all things Mel Gibson: from his drunken anti-Semitic vitriol, to the fact that you simply can't make a movie about Jesus and leave out the freakin' resurrection. Steering the conversation into current events, I remarked that Gibson and Michael Richards should get together and start a club.

We all thought this was pretty funny, up until someone pointed out that several such organizations already exist.

The rest of the workday passed quietly.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

...and we're back.

And no, I did not hit 50,000 words. I caved at 8000, once I realized that even the most odious dreck of a fake novel needs something at least resembling a plot. I forgot to get me one of those.

But I did come up with a really nifty theological metaphor for the NeoPagan Revival involving VH-1's Celebreality shows. So that was kind of cool.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It begins. Again.

I'll be out of the blogosphere for the next 30 days, as I delve back into the self-fulfilling psychological warfare that is National Novel Writing Month. Last year, I wrote a little over 13,000 words before bellowing a hearty "Screw this" and turning on the television. This year, any prayers, candles or sacrificing of many goats towards me hitting the goal of 50,000 words would be greatly appreciated.

See you in December! Probably!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Anti-Bartlett's

My three favorite quotations from Pagans and occultists of note:

"The student who sets out to be an eclectic before he has made himself an expert will never be anything more than a dabbler." -Dion Fortune

"All ancient mysteries were selective in their admission of new members. This must be so to preserve the power, the integrity, the purpose of the cult. Thinning the blood makes it weaker; spreading the secret truths too far afield lessens their impacts where they are most needed." -Hans Holzer

"I feel friendly to you, whoever you are." -Olivia Robertson

Honorable mention:

"I'm a Witch, for Christ's sake, not a goddamned saint." -Yvonne Rathbone

Friday, October 20, 2006

An open memo to my brain

Attn: Evn's Brain

Re: 11:11

Dear Brain,

Enough already. The occasional 11:11 sighting, just as a gentle reminder that there are whackjobs out there who take these things seriously... sure, that's fine.

But three to four sightings a day for a week? Unacceptable. If angels, or aliens, or spokesdemons from the Collective Unconscious need to get a message to me that badly, they can post comments on my blog like normal people.

So knock it off, please. Proceed with rejoining us in reality, or I'll get ahold of a prescription for Ritalin faster than you can spell ADHD.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Knowing Is Half the Bottle

I was shopping for wholesome, salty snacks at the convenience store across the street from my apartment, when I noticed they carried Irish-themed malt liquor. I know from Irish beer, but Irish malt liquor? WTF?

I was dismayed by the agressively stereotypical brand name and logo, but at the same time strangely intrigued. Would it taste like real beer? Was the brewery Irish owned and operated? Was malt liquor even produced in breweries? Also I was kind of thirsty.

So I bought some Irish malt liquor, and then I drank it.

And now I'm hungover. The end.

Monday, October 16, 2006

You have the right to remain dreamy, Corey

The Gods of Camp Classics must have been smiling favorably upon me this weekend, because I picked up a veritable motherload of cheesy occult-themed horror movies. Here are a few of my finds:

Voodoo - Corey Feldman joins a college fraternity, unaware that it's really a murderous cult. In one significant scene, we learn that zombies are ace tattoo artists.

Tales from the Crypt Presents: Ritual - A headstrong doctor (played by a painfully noseless Jennifer Grey) accepts a hospice care position in Jamaica, only to find herself battling crazed Obeah practitioners and feline leukemia. Co-starring Tim Curry as the lecherous veterinarian.

Brotherhood of Satan - There are these people, see, and they worship Satan. I haven't watched this one yet.

Hell's Gate - A fresh, evil take on my least favorite New Age fad. Instead of 11:11 showing up on clocks and representing digital hugs from guardian angels, the mysterious numbers are found at crime scenes, carved into dead bodies. I only caught a few minutes of this flick before realizing it was way past my bedtime, but what little I saw included lots of screaming, so I'm sure it'll be worth the five bucks I paid for it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sit-Com Life, Part the Second

Jack's brother and I went to lunch at one of those chain restaurants with junk store merchandise tacked to the walls, and spent the rest of the afternoon clutching our stomachs, gurgling "Urk, be right back," and fleeing to our respective restrooms. We were discussing the possible causes of our gastrointestinal distress when he remarked, "Oh hey, that reminds me! You've been naked sleepwalking again."

My subconscious is going to receive a Mommy Dearest-level ass-whipping, just as soon as I can handle solid food again. In the meantime, I've started going to bed in casual activewear.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Organizing Strife for Maximum Digestability

Blogger is quickly becoming my bitch, resulting in nifty new categories for archived posts. Here's a rundown:

Assorted Occultism - Experiences that can't be adequately explained by coincidence or intoxication.

Crooked Paths - General misadventures in religion and spirituality.

Cube Farm Antics - There's very little I won't put up with to keep my health insurance.

Metablogginess - Blogging about blogging.

Production Notes - A catalogue of my various artistic endeavors.

The Junk Drawer - A catchall, just like the one in your kitchen; oddments, rubber bands, and random thoughts that don't make no nevermind, as my grandmother would say (if she talked like that).

The Scoop - Headline news, with colorful commentary provided by moi at no additional cost.

Witch Trials - Wiccan/NeoPagan rants and tribulations.

Your Gay Neighbor - Man on man action, but mainly just tales of Jack and me doing domesticated couple stuff.

Enjoy! Run around double-clicking until you fall down and your fingers bleed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

We know what they're thinking

Deborah Lipp offers a brilliant and chillingly accurate take on the Mark Foley sex scandal.

Please commit this to memory, and recall it every time a Republican starts shrieking about how civil rights need to be suppressed in the name of Family Values.

Just in case ol' what's-her-name has a lawyer...

This blog is for entertainment purposes only. There is no evidence to support allegations that Laura Mallory is a bear, a turkey vulture or a soccer mom. Any private Bible-fondling on the part of Mrs. Mallory is strictly her own business, as long as it occurs between consenting adults over the age of 16.

That said, I firmly believe she felched a demon. A little white owl told me.

Testify, Laura. Testify.

More fun quotes from sexually-repressed pleasure chest Laura Mallory, as to why she never got around to reading the books she so heartily condemns:

"They’re really very long and I have four kids.”

'Nuff said. But so as not to be misconstrued, the demon-felching housewife offered this clarification:

"I think it would be hypocritical for me to read all the books, honestly. I don’t agree with what’s in them."

Well, at least she has a sound, ethical reason for preaching hate and illiteracy, which is kind of a relief: for a second there, I thought she was insane.

Turns out she's just mean and stupid.

That I can handle.

Fair and Balanced

In an almost earnest attempt to show both sides of the Harry Potter controversy brought about by sawdust-loined momma bear Laura Mallory, one plucky news outlet decided to hear what a real, live... um, Wiccanist had to say.

Yeah, B- for effort. While they did take the time to show an opposing viewpoint, the cheeky tone of the article is cause for concern. Like so many "unbiased" reports popping up around this issue, the overall theme is "We can't believe she actually takes Wicca seriously."

At some point in time, it would be lovely to read an article about the modern Pagan resurgence without feeling like the writer is choking back giggles.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Online Omniscience

The Notorious RD just sent me an article about fundamentalist turkey vulture Laura Mallory, not realizing that I'd already cut n' pasted her onto my "I Hate You" list. I explained that I get Wicca-related news stories sent to my e-mail via Google Alerts, which prompted the following response:

---

Google Alert! Dear Mr. EVN WHITAKER,

You may be outraged and amused by the following news story:

Harry Potter Wants to Turn Kids into Wiccans.

Would you like to view this spectacle of ignorance? YES NO

---

My friends are cool.

Children who can read are pawns of Satan!

Laura Mallory of Loganville, GA, wants Harry Potter books pulled from the shelves of local school libraries, because the books encourage Witchcraft and other demonic tomfooleries. Oh yes, and literacy.

Quoth the Bible-fondling soccer mom, "Witchcraft is being mainstreamed to our kids today, but people are not aware of it. They think these books are fantasies, but Wicca is a real recognized religion." She goes on to say that she does not want her children "indoctrinated into a religion whose practices are evil."

But wait, it gets even better. The lovable harridan claims that she's so disturbed by the Harry Potter series, she's never actually finished reading any of the books.

To sum up, she has no clue what she's talking about, but Wicca is evil.

You know what would be great? If she won her battle against the dark arts of J.K. Rowling, and then her four kids grew up and married outside their race.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Have attitude problem, will travel

I was walking up to my office yesterday, along with a group of people from our commissioned sales department, none of whom I really know. One of them, a squatty little man who might possibly be attractive if he was taller and didn't have a beer belly, gestured to my messenger bag and smirked, "Nice murse."

"Murse?" I asked, confused. "What's a murse?"

"Man purse," he replied, still smirking.

"Oh. Okay, um, thanks." Normally I'm a little quicker on the uptake, but I was kind of flustered. First of all, regardless of gender, purses are generally used to carry personal, not professional items: wallets and chewing gum and tissue and such. Since my bag is normally full of papers and office supplies and books, it really falls more into the briefcase category. That aside, why was this random goblin riding me about it? Granted, Napoleon complexes are tough to shake, but why take it out on me?

I decided to just ignore him, since "interacting with dickheads" isn't included in my job description, but he wouldn't let it drop.

"It's very European." He sneered. "Going to Europe?"

"Yes." I said.

"You are?" he asked, suddenly surprised.

"Yes, I'm going to Europe." I have no idea where this came from, since I am not going to Europe anytime in the foreseeable future. In terms of acerbic one-liners, it was pretty pathetic. I didn't even say it convincingly.

"Oh hey, that's cool! Have fun in Europe!" he said cheerily as I got off the elevator. At this point, I wasn't sure which bugged me more: that I seem to have lost my power to craft split-second snappy comebacks, or that a moron with playground issues may make more money than I do.

Perhaps I need a vacation.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A weird psychic-ish thing that just happened

Jack: (in the bedroom, going over finances; muttering under his breath) "Shit."

Me: (across the house in the living room; deaf in one ear; yelling over the blaring TV ) "What's wrong?"

Jack: (yelling back) "What?"

Me: (still yelling) "You just said 'Shit.' What's wrong?"

Jack: (re: yelling) "You heard that?!"

Telepathy? A sharklike ability to sense minute electrochemical shifts in emotion from over a mile away? Can't help lovin' that man of mine?

I dunno. You decide.

I am my own demographic

Surfing merrily across the Web when I should have been working led me to several Lover of Strife links in places where I know I didn't put them.

Which means people are actually reading this. Yikes.

Back when I only had five loyal Strifemongers, I didn't feel the need to update with any kind of regularity. Whenever I posted, I'd just call them and say, "Hey, did you see what I wrote? Here, let me read it to you..." But now, hell, there could be as many as eleven or twelve of you! And I don't have everyone's contact information.

I'll do what I can to step up the production of funny. In the meantime, if any Houston Pagans reading this could do me a favor and cause a scandal or a scene or something, that would really help out in the way of new and timely subject matter.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bell, Book and Carpenter

I dropped by ye merry olde Catholic bookstore to pick up some reading material, because I've got cunning, super-secret plans involving the Fellowship of Isis and the 14 Holy Helpers (all will be revealed in time, my pets). I was browsing the merchandise and playing with a little Jesus plaque that totally looked like a Green Man when a woman strode up to the front counter and addressed the saleslady.

Customer: "Hello, I need a St. Joseph statue."

Saleslady: "To sell your house?"

Customer: "Yep."

Saleslady: "Right this way!"

This threw me. I'm aware of the old custom of burying St. Joseph statues to sell houses, but I thought it was, like, on the down low. While I ruminated, another customer, this time a pediatric nurse, wandered into the store and glanced around nervously before approaching the counter.

[ed. note: I figured he was a pediatric nurse on account of he was wearing scrubs, but scrubs made out of a cartoony baby animal print.]

Pediatric Nurse: "Um, hi. I need a, uh... a St. Joseph statue."

Saleslady: (with a sly smile): "What for?"

PN: (visibly sweating): "To, um... that is, I... well..."

SL: (slowly, as if to a five-year-old): "To... sell... your... house?"

PN: (eyes averted, completely mortified) "Um... yeah."

The saleslady suddenly dropped beneath the counter, resurfacing with a small St. Joseph figurine and a photocopied, I shit you not, instruction sheet. She went over the details of the ritual I mean novena with the nurse, explaining that he needed to recite the incantation I mean prayer for nine consecutive days.

At this point, I wanted to raise my hand and say, "Excuse me, yes, everyone? That's a spell. You're casting a spell to sell your house. You're practicing witchcraft, do you hear me? Witchcraft!"

But then I decided that agressively bringing this to their attention might possibly be construed as an unwelcome revival of the Protestant Reformation, or at the very least slander. So I kept my mouth shut. Besides, if they ban me from the store, it'll be an absolute bitch trying to find another source for reasonably-priced Black Madonna icons. Those don't just grow on idolatrees, you know.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hogwarts my eye

There is a school in Salem, Massachusetts called Witchcraft Heights Elementary.

This just may be... wait, wait, let me check... yes, this is the Greatest. Thing. Ever.

If the universe does in fact keep itself in balance, and I went to a private Christian elementary school called All Saints, then it stands to reason that back when he was a kid, an alumnus of Witchcraft Heights waited for his parents to go to bed every night so that he could read his Catechism and the novels of Flannery O'Connor.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Line Cinema owes me $17.50

By all accounts, I'm the last blogger on Earth to get around to this topic. That said...

I drug Jack to see Snakes on a Plane last night. He was resistant at first, but I pulled birthday-boy rank on him. Everything I'd heard and read about this particular epic led me to believe it was going to be the epitome of B-rated horror, that it made no effort to take itself seriously and revelled in its own improbabilty. Which, for me, is like finding a secret treasure map to Heaven. I bounded into the theatre, claimed the official best seat in the house, and clapped with delight as soon as the lights went down.

Despite his misgivings, Jack enjoyed the film. I, on the other hand, walked out halfway through. Was it a B-rated horror movie? Sure. As produced and directed by Caligula.

I really don't know how to describe the disgust I felt watching Snakes on a Plane without sounding self-righteous. If anything, let's just say the filmmakers and I share profoundly different perspectives on what is and is not camp entertainment. Schlocky dialogue: funny. Ripping a small dog out of her owner's arms and throwing her across a plane: not funny. Glaring plot loopholes: funny. A man screaming in agony as a panicked mob tramples him to death, driving the heels of their shoes into the side of his head: not funny.

To his credit, Jack left the theatre to come find me after I stormed out, and during the drive home he did his best to disperse my apoplexy, while I did my best not to get off my high horse. We rode in silence for awhile, and then he grinned and said:

"I am sick of all these motherfuckin' Witches on this motherfuckin' Astral Plane."

Okay, that was funny.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Party in my Pantheon

Knowing that birthdays make me grumpy and/or pissy, the illustrious Red Delicious sent me the following happygram:

Here’s to you! May your day be filled with peace, understanding, and suggestive artwork. Plus, the various leaders of world religions have gotten together in your honor.

Guest List:

Allah
Buddha
Jehovah
Vishnu
Thor
Ra
Bacchus (accepting on behalf of Jupiter)
Satan L. Ron Hubbard
Gaea & the Horned God
Daozang
Zoroaster
Enkai
Altjira
Huitzilopochtli
Dave Koresh

I like how he thoughtfully replaced Satan with L. Ron Hubbard. It totally plays into my suspicion that little baby Suri is the Scientology Antichrist.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

There's gold in them thar Fnords

Celestial body 2003 UB313 (a.k.a. "Xena") was officially named Eris after the Greek Goddess of strife and discord on September 15. According to the International Astronomical Union, the name was chosen to acknowledge all the controversy that resulted from the object's discovery: primarily, the recent demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet.

Whether or not this will have any impact on modern astrological thought remains to be seen, but as far as I'm concerned, Eris is finally getting the recognition She deserves. And you just know the Discordians are shitting themselves right now.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sad Evn. Sad, sad Evn.

I haven't been feeling very bloggy lately. The death of the Crocodile Hunter really got to me, far more than I would have expected. I think it's due to the terrible crush I had on him, along with the bitterly ironic nature of his demise. [ed. note to the secular media: Stingrays hardly ever kill people. Please stop writing "news" stories about the dangers of stingray excursions. Oh, and while you're at it, get off the cruise industry's back, for crying out loud.]

The impending doom of my birthday is creeping up on me as well, an annual angst gala currently poking holes in my normally chipper, sarcastic facade. Perhaps to take my mind off of it, I'll do some research and see if I can determine Steve Irwin's religion, then drop by an affiliated church and light some candles for him. Honoring the dead strikes me as a handy way to drain away the self-centered, nihilistic navel-gazing in which I'm currently wallowing. Or at least put a few things in perspective.

Speaking of perspectives, my personal perception of reincarnation is spherical rather than linear. As such, I sincerely hope Irwin comes back as a crocodile in ancient Egypt.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pour some motor oil in remembrance

My minivan passed away last night, after a long struggle with her alternator and power steering. She was 12.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent directly to me: preferably in the form of something sporty with 4-wheel drive. Decent gas mileage would make for a nice change, too.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Points of sit-com information

1) Jack's younger brother, fresh from a two-year stint in the armed forces, decided to toss out small-town Texas existence and move to the Big City. To his conservative parents' chagrin, he's taken up official residence in our guest room.

2) I sleepwalk.

3) The wacky misadventures have already ensued.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Follow the bouncing balls, son

My father just sent me an e-mail, containing a link to some kind of humorous television commercial. Before I could watch it, he wrote back saying, "Wait, wait, don't open anything!" It seems that someone from his office had forwarded the link to him, not realizing that the Web site was, um, inappropriate for a viewing audience under the age of 21. The x-rated nature of the site became readily apparent when he started clicking around, looking for other funny commercials, thereby uncovering a number of colorful ads featuring big boobs and the various things you can do with them.

My dad sent me porn.

I'm disturbed on ever so many levels right now. This is almost as mortifying as the time I accidentally left an adult-oriented, alternative-lifestyle, instructional video in his VCR.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

They are not the boss of me

I was relaxing on my balcony, admiring the sunset, when four, count 'em, four bluejays landed in the tree next to my apartment.

Screw omens. Somebody bring me a shotgun.

Monday, August 21, 2006

He's dead, Jim.

I took an online quiz this morning to determine which Star Trek character I am. I'm not a Trekkie by any means, nor am I a big fan of Internet-based personality tests, but I figured it would be a fun way to kill a couple of minutes.

According to the quiz, I'm an Expendable Character in a Red Shirt.

We are not amused.

In case you're not a Trekkie, either, here's the skinny on the Red Shirts. On every episode, an "away party" of characters would beam down somewhere. The party would include two to five main characters (Kirk, Bones, Spock, Scotty, etc.), along with one extra, generally in a red Federation-issue shirt. Inevitably, an alien would attack, or there'd be an earthquake, or a shuttle would crash land, or a Tribble would come down with rabies. Everyone with a recurring role would dive out of the way and survive without a scratch, while the Red Shirt would promptly bite it. Mayflies have longer life expectancies than Red Shirts.

So that's me, then. I'm a Red Shirt. Excellent. I'd love to explore the psychological and archetypical ramifications of this topic, but my manager is on the rampage and looking for someone to maul. Conveniently, all of my co-workers have gone to lunch.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Proud Mary keep on melting

A worker in a California chocolate factory, cleaning under a vat in the kitchen, was shocked to discover a pile of chocolate drippings hardened into the shape of the Virgin Mary.

Apparently, the young woman had been dealing with a number of personal problems, and was starting to believe that God didn't exist. Her faith was renewed when she came across the small mass of chocolate, which bore a striking resemblence to the Virgen de Guadalupe prayer card she always carries with her.

And you know what? I think this is great. While my research indicates that the Vatican tends to frown on Blessed Virgin Mary sightings (and by "research," I mean watching the movie Stigmata 10,000 times), I love stories about people who find their way back to their God or Gods. Especially when the Virgin Mary is involved, since we all know how I feel about Her, right? Isis, Isis, Ra Ra Ra...

The fact that the She chose to replicate Herself in a rich n' creamy candy format is just icing on the cake. The chocolate cake.

The time has come to petition the good folks over at Chocolate Deities to create their own Virgin Mary confection: after all, if She's making little chocolate statues of Herself, it couldn't hurt to follow Her example. They already have a Sacred Heart chocolate bar, true, but that's not quite the same thing. Besides, eating a heart in any form gives me human sacrifice nightmares.

By the by, did anyone catch my hi-larious Catholic pun? If not, I'll be happy to provide helpful and/or cryptic hints.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I thought you people had Commandments

This totally sounds like a cheesy joke in a chain e-mail, but here's what happened:

I was pulling out of my office parking lot when a mammoth SUV, cruising at a comfortable altitude of about 40 miles per hour over the speed limit, came flying at me. The driver--a slim woman in her late 30's, well-coiffed, designer sunglasses, 2-year-old in the back seat--blared her horn, swerved around next to me and hollered obscenities while shaking her fist menacingly. Then she sped up and cut me off.

Traffic suddenly slowed to a crawl, as is wont to happen on Houston roadways. I was stuck behind her, seething to a rolling boil, with nothing to do but admire the jesus-fish plaque on the back of her car.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hoodia? Cialis? Flying Ointment?

I'm not sure what kind of dreams I was having last night, but around 3:30 this morning I bolted out of bed, wide awake, panicking because I'd forgotten to take my Witchcraft pills.

Um, yeah. I don't know, either.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Inane:Inane

Are you guys familiar with the 11:11 phenomenon? If not, here's the gist of it. At some point during an average day, you glance at a digital clock, and the time reads 11:11. A couple of days later, you check the time on your cell phone, and it's 11:11. A few days after that, you drive past a bank and the time-and-temperature sign out front flashes 11:11. Eventually, you see 11:11 everywhere you look. You begin to suspect foul play.

The Internet is awash with 11:11 Web sites, each with its own unique interpretations, but all seem to agree that Someone or Something is trying to send a message to humanity. Aliens and angels are the most popular culprits, although I'll bet if I dig around enough, I'll find someone swearing it's a conspiracy, that the Illuminati are somehow manipulating time and space. (Silly Illuminati. When will they learn?)

Personally, I think it's all a bunch of psychosomatic, New Age horse pucky. You read an article about 11:11, or you find a Web site, or some crazy person on the street throws a pamphlet at you. Now the idea's been planted. If your conscious mind is actively dwelling on a particular concept, it's safe to assume your subconscious is playing with it, too. And since most people have some sort of awareness of time in general, around 11:00 your subconscious kicks in and starts keeping and eye out for clocks. Left unchecked, you will eventually find yourself talking to crystals and telling anyone who will listen about your indigo aura.

I've had a few 11:11 sightings here and there, and frankly, I cared as much as I did about yesterday being Wednesday (gasp) again! But check it. I walked into my office this morning and opened my e-mail, only to discover 11 new messages, all of which were time-stamped 11:11.

I still strongly maintain the whole thing is psychological, but man... that was fucking creepy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Accessorizing the Damned

While idly thumbing through online occult catalogs, I came across a gorgeous pendant: a simple runic design, cast in sterling silver. It was elegant and affordable, and I Had To Have It. Skipping over to the phone, I called a friend and directed him to the Web site, so that he could marvel and coo along with me. He logged on and examined a couple of images, then let out a sigh.

"Evn... you know this is the emblem of the SS, right?"

For those of you not up on your World War II people and places, SS stands for Schutzstaffel, the ruthless paramilitary police force of Nazi Germany. So not only am I so clueless that I failed to recognize the symbol of one of the most cruel and inhumane organizations ever to infest the planet, but I thought their symbol was pretty.

Perhaps if I pulled my head out of NeoPagandom's ass every now and again, I wouldn't fall down so much.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

One good plug deserves another

Ted Walker is a modern philosopher and a damn fine writer. But don't take my word for it (insert Reading Rainbow theme song here): check out Exploded Views.

Read and learn, my children. There will be a test.

The oxygen masks never drop when you need them

I flew out to California this weekend (note to Deborah: my operating system got upgraded to version 2.0, if you catch my drift), and while the flight itself was uneventful, I'd like to impart some sound advice on the "dos" and "don'ts" of air travel ettiquette.

Unless you suffered from a rare gastrointestinal condition during your childhood that resulted in your spleen being replaced with an industrial ventilator, it is generally considered impolite to pass gas continuously for three and a half hours. Know that the feisty young Witch sitting next to you, burying his face in the crook of his arm and trying his best to breath through his ears, will hate you unconditionally for the rest of his life.

It would also behoove you not to remove your shoes and socks in order to pick your toes, nor is it wise to clean your ear with the cap of a ballpoint pen.

Thank you for your compliance. Please seek immediate medical attention.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nobody here but us Pagans. I mean, chickens.

One of the big chewy beefs a lot of NeoPagans have with Christianity involves assimilation: the idea that over the centuries, Christians undermined local folk and nature religions by incorporating their practices and turning their Gods into saints. "St. Bridget was originally Brigid, the Goddess of Fire and Poetry," the NeoPagans will aver, possibly pounding on a table to accentuate their point. "Until the Church Christianized her."

The thing is, assimilation isn't really the Church's MO--historically, it's always leaned more towards smash-and-grab. So let's take a quick gander at the Real and For True (insofar as I think it's true) process by which Pagan deities wind up as Christian saints:

Christian: "Hey! Are you people worshipping false idols?"

Pagan: "Oh no, of course not. We're... uh, we're venerating... Catherine. Saint Catherine."

Christian: "Are you sure? That statue looks a lot like Cerridwen, the Welsh Mother Goddess I've been reading about."

Pagan: "No, it's definitely St. Catherine. She's, um, new. We checked."

Christian: "Well, as long as she's a saint.... carry on, then."

Pagan: "Right. Blessed be.

Christian: "Excuse me?"

Pagan: "I said, Amen."

Ain't that sneaky? Those Medieval Pagans sure were a plucky bunch of unbaptized savages. Now, as to how Brigid became St. Bridget...

Priestess 1: "Uh oh. The Christians are back."

Priestess 2: "You know, I'll bet if we tell them we're all nuns now, they won't start stabbing us again."

Priestess 1: "That's just crazy enough to work."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Utah Drawers

My obsession with Mormon underwear began (like so many obessions do) in a dorm room, as a 20-something young miss detailed the horrors of Mormon summer camp. She'd attended when she was in high school, not realizing the camp catered to a specific religious sect until after her parents dropped her off and drove away. Once the other campers discovered she wasn't a card-carrying latter day saint, they took turns ostracizing and berating her, so much so that upon returning home she produced a short film on her mother's camcorder entitled Different Mormons, starring her stuffed toy collection.

Mormons do not come off well in this particular feature.

But I digress.

"They have special underwear," she intoned, pausing to let that sink into her captivated, undergraduate audience. "It has symbols on it, and you can't ever take it off. Ever."

This little trivia vittle fired all of my synapses at once. Special underwear? Symbols? Ever? I had to learn more. For years, whenever I met a Mormon (which doesn't happen very often, considering my social circles), I'd do my best to steer the conversation to the subject of lacy unmentionables: "Boy, these boxer shorts sure do ride up. What about yours? Any symbols you can tell me about?"

Surprising as it may sound, there aren't a lot of Mormons out there who will talk to me. Until today, that is, when I finally claimed the Holy Grail of Unattainable Smallclothes.

A casual acquaintance and I ran into each other. The "hihowareyou" catch-up conversation morphed into a religious discussion (for some reason, I brought up the Demeter statue controversy in Illinois), and he mentioned that he was Mormon. Before I could properly ground myself, years of unsatiated interest burst forth:

"Do you have the underwear?"

He paused, eyed me quizzically for a moment, then spoke.

"We call them 'garments.'"

You know that scene in Ghost where Patrick Swayze avenges his death and ascends into Heaven? It was exactly like that.

For a delectable hour, I asked highly intrusive and personal questions about the "garments," and he answered them (and no, I'm not going to repeat the entire conversation; get your own Mormon). Finally, I screwed up the courage to ask one, tiny favor.

"May I see them?"

And just so there's no confusion or doubting my motives, I didn't mean "Drop your pants, cowboy." I just didn't know if it was a Mormons-only kind of thing. I meant, "May I see them eventually, not being one of the Chosen?" or "May I see them held up in front of you on hangers?" But he took my request with aplomb.

"I don't have a set right now," he said. "But I do have a picture of me wearing them."

In the distance, a red flag unfurled in the breeze. But I was so close, so close to finally, finally having a dream fulfilled: to view, with my own eyes, the secret Mormon underwear. I mean garments. So I requested that he e-mail the picture to me, and he agreed.

We said our goodbyes, and I raced home, throwing myself in front of the computer and refreshing my inbox every .5 seconds. A few minutes later, a new message appeared. Trembling with anticipation, I clicked open the e-mail, and there, there in front of me, was my casual acquaintance sporting the long-awaited, finally undenied Mormon Underwear...

... and a raging hard-on.

It seems this particular picture was one he regularly posts on certain Web sites, where the discerning gentleman, looking for a date without that bothersome "dinner and a movie" part, can make open-minded new friends. But, he assured me, only one person had ever recognized the Mormon underwear for what it was, so there was really nothing to worry about. His secret was safe with me.

Some battles can only be won through sacrifice. Yes, I've now seen the Mormon underwear, and lived to tell the tale... but at what cost?

What cost?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Quadrum Umbilicus

Peter Marshall: "Paul, in ancient Rome, bakers were required by law to bake something into each loaf of bread. What?"

Paul Lynde: "A Christian."

I am not personally familiar with Paul Lynde's religious beliefs or practices, but I'm totally putting in a good word for reincarnation.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Enter Life, stage right

In a shadowy alcove on the first floor of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, right around the corner from the dinosaur exhibit, a video kiosk plays a continuously looped short film called Enter Life. Created by cartoonist Faith Hubley, Enter Life explains how four elements - carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen - came together to form simple amino acid chains, which went on to develop into one-celled organisms. As such, these four elements were the building blocks of life on Earth.

The four elements in the movie are represented by these darling psychedelic amoeboids, who caper about while announcing their names like submolecular cheerleaders: "Carbon! Hydrogen! Oxygen! Nitrogen!" As the story progresses, the creatures join together in conga lines and locomote through the primordial soup, still cheering and singing: "Carbon! Hydrogen! Oxygen! Nitrogen! Chon chon chon, chon chon ch-chon! Chon chon chon, chon chon ch-chon!"

I saw Enter Life almost 20 years ago, during an 8th Grade field trip to Washington D.C., but the Chon Song stuck with me. Late at night, or alone in an elevator, I've been known to dance around gleefully, chonning to my heart's content: "Chon chon chon, chon chon ch-chon!"

The Greek poet/pilosopher Empedocles is credited with originating the concept of Four Elements: that is, everything in existence can be broken down into the fundamentals of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Empedocles believed that these Elements could change, combine or revert to their original forms, based on the effects of two opposing forces, Love and Strife. (Philoneikos! I am your GOD now.)

This concept has permeated philosophical, medical and psychological thought for centuries, influencing everything from the Hippocratic theory of the Four Humours to the Myers-Briggs personality test. Most recently (and by "recently" I mean the late 1800's), the Four Elements were incorporated into the Western Mystery Tradition, eventually finding their way into modern NeoPaganism. A lot of Pagans now view the Four Elements as metaphorical - Air is the intellect, Water is emotion, etc. - but it's kind of mindblowing to think that 2500 years ago, a Greek philosopher declared that life is made up of four elements, and then a cartoon produced in the early 1980's declared that yes, he was right.

Some of Hubley's other animated short films include The Big Bang and Other Creation Myths, which foretells the coming of the New Age; Yes We Can, featuring Gaia the Earth Mother; and Witch Madness, a documentary on the persecution of women throughout history, culminating in the witch-hunts of the Middle Ages. Methinks Ms. Hubley has something to tell the class.

Speaking of, let's just keep that whole "me private dancing to the Chon Song" thing to ourselves, okay?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mr. Wiccan Frowny-Pants

By the time he was a junior in college, an old friend of mine had slept with almost every girl he knew, in an astounding variety of ways. "What about this?" we'd ask, pointing to a spine-atomizing tableau in the Illustrated Kama Sutra. "Three times with a Yugoslavian exchange student," he'd reply. "And once with my roommate's sister."

Late one night, after a keg party, he got plastered and had sex with another man. When questioned as to why he, an avowed and devout heterosexual, would suddenly decide to cross the lavender line, he said simply, "I was bored and got curious." Then he'd shrug and go back to his beer or his current girlfriend, whichever was in his hand at the time.

I bring this up because I'm going through the same thing: just substitiute "sex" for "subscribe," "girl" with "Pagan listserv," and "another man" with "Fundamentalist Christian."

To sum up, I joined a Fundamentalist Christian listserv. But not, like, a bad one.

This particular list is devoted to people who were once deeply involved in the occult, but then found Jesus. They're not proselytizing or anything, nor are they actively trying to "save" anyone: it's just a group of people who've had similar experiences, and would like to share them with one another.

I'm kind of bizzaro-them, since I turned in my hymnal for a copy of The Secret Power of Witchcraft when I was twelve. But the key elements are all there, regardless of order, so I get to play, too. Realistically, I have no business being on this list, but they keep posting the most fascinating news articles. If it wasn't for them, I'd have never known that in New York, welfare recipients are learning how to read Tarot cards and being put to work as telephone psychics.

Since it's an online forum, there's a troll lurking about. Specifically, a neoWiccan activist-type who's doing his best to be persecuted by the rest of the list members. He's oblivious to the fact that he joined their list in order to tell them how their beliefs are wrong: they exist, and as such, he's oppressed.

But the thing is... they're so nice to him. If he rails against Christianity for annihilating Pagans throughout history (and for the record, Christians did that, not Christianity), they politely ask if he could tell them more about his own beliefs, and when he sends in a dissertation about modern Paganism, they thank him for the opportunity to get to know him better. He continues to post, basically in opposition to anything anyone else says ("Well, I'm against it!"), but there's a distinct feeling of everyone else just smiling and nodding, then carrying on with the discussion.

I've grown accustomed to this level of NeoPagan rhetoric (Pagan A: "Fucking Xians!" Pagan B: "Um, why?" Pagan A: "Just because, okay?") so for the most part I planned to ignore him. Up until one of the moderators announced that her grandfather died, and he commented, "I doubt you'd welcome my prayers, and my faith requires that I respect your wishes in that regard. I hope you can accept my condolances [sic] and my hopes for your well being."

Okay, no. No no NO. You do not use someone else's personal tragedy as a platform for your own religious agenda. You just don't. Well, unless you're Fred Phelps, but that's different. If you're Pagan, you don't. Seriously. Knock it off. I'm making a rule.

I have not yet had the opportunity to confront this guy, but I feel it coming on. It's going to be broughten, my friends, so practice ducking and covering as I prepare my rebuttals.

Incidentally, I went ahead and posted an introduction, mainly to determine what kind of reaction I could expect from the other members. My intro included the following passage:

"I am a Witch, although a fairly agreeable one. I'm not overly concerned with outside perceptions of my convictions and practices, but I'm pretty much unconditional when it comes to respecting other people's religions. I sincerely believe that individuals should work to find the spiritual home, family and community that's right for them--as such, the mission of this list is one I can easily endorse."

At this time, no one's responded, not even the neoWiccan activist-type. Whether they're all thinking "Huh. Another one." or "Oh God, not another one!" has yet to be revealed.

Friday, July 28, 2006

New policies, effective immediately

The lovely and talented Deborah Lipp has deigned to add a Lover of Strife link to her blog, Property of a Lady. Therefore, loyal Strifemongers (all both of you) are hereby required to read her blog on a regular, if not daily, basis.

Also, Pagan and/or Wiccan Strifemongers are obligated to buy multiple copies of her books.

Hi there. I'm a loyal Strifemonger, but I'm not Pagan. I am, however, obsessed with James Bond movies. How can I help?

Ms. Lipp recently penned the The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book, so you're not off the hook. Get to PayPallin'.

Happy Mercury Direct Day

Mercury went direct! No more retrograde! Quick, everyone communicate effectively and start planning vacations.

Of course, I've just learned that I'm smack-dab in the middle of my Saturn Return, so my life's going to be dripping toilet water until September 2007. But the rest of you, go have a party.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tough Love, except I never liked you

You know how I'm always pissing and moaning about Teen Pagans? About how the grand majority of them are vapid little vacant-heads, rebelling against their upper-middle class, Christmas-and-Easter High Protestant upbringings out of boredom and selfish, misplaced resentment?

Apparently, some of you out there have chosen to interpret this particular pet peeve to mean that I'm unnecessarily (ahem) "judgemental." And that's fine, really. You're entitled, and more than welcome, to your own opinions. Freedom of speech and all that.

But it turns out I was right.

I suspected as much.

Over a five-day period in mid July, six churches in Franklin County, Alabama, were burglarized and desecrated. Within a week, police traced the crimes back to three young men, all between the ages of 19-21, in whose possession they found, along with stolen church computers and appliances, "Wicca and other occult-related documents."

For future reference, if you and your friends live in a small Southern town, and you're the weird, kind of scary kids who wear black clothes and doughnut-sized pewter pentacles, and you're always going on about Witchcraft and the supernatural and Marilyn Manson, and meanwhile six local churches get vandalized...

Lean in close, now...

EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT WAS YOU.

Is that clear? Anyone need to see it graphed out or anything? No?

I hope we've all learned something here today. Be well, do good work, and don't call me from Juvie.

Teddy Boy

Today I got up on the dark side of the bed.

Also, Diana is now a migrant worker in New Zealand.

[ed. note: Somewhere in Chicago, a grad student is laughing his ass off over this. Everyone else, just move along.]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

God Save the Queen (of the Psychics!)

I've decided I'm moving to Britain. Partially because it's my ancestral homeland and the birthplace of my religion, but mainly because British reality TV kicks American reality TV's sorry, saggy ass.

To wit: Britain's Psychic Challenge 2006.

For six weeks, a group of psychics compete in a series of challenges to see who has the greatest extrasensory perception. At the end of each episode, the psychic who demonstrates the least amount of paranormal ability to a panel of skeptics gets voted off. This season's winner, Diane Lazarus of Wales, acheived so much attention and new business after her victory that she opened up her very own private investigation service, complete with two ex-police officers as trusty sidekicks. Maybe it's because I was raised on cheesy detective novels and a healty respect for the supernatural, but that's, like, my freaking dream job. I've fantasized about it for years. I've even got the strip mall where I want to open up shop all picked out.

But here's the kicker: the competitors on Psychic Challenge have to be genuine psychics. Otherwise, according to a nifty twist in British Law, the show would be illegal.

In 1951, the Fraudulent Mediums Act went into effect, which repealed the Anti-Witchcraft Law of 1735 (at this point in British history, they were having way more problems with shifty fortune tellers than they were with Witches). The new Act expressed "provision for the punishment of persons who fraudulently proport to act as spiritualistic mediums or to exercise powers of telepathy, clairvoyance or similar powers." Additionally, "A person shall not be convicted of an offence under the forgoing subsection unless it is proved that he acted for reward."

So back to the show. Diane Lazarus wins Psychic Challenge, which had to involve some sort of monetary prize, right? She was rewarded for having legitimate and/or believable "telepathy, clairvoyance or similar powers," and as such, she's officially, legally psychic.

Next to that, Wife Swap doesn't seem so revolutionary, does it?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gravity: 2, Protagonists: 0

Back in my angsty teen years, when I was securely imprisoned in a private Christian school, I wrote a couple of occult-themed short stories that ended up in our annual literary magazine.

It just occured to me that both of these stories involved people unexpectedly falling out of windows and plummeting to their deaths. I'm not sure how that particular thematic element crept into my early attempts at prose, just as I'm not sure why I'm remembering it now. But in retrospect, I'm starting to worry what my guidance counselor really thought about me.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Your archives, are they... bigger?

I've been blogging on and off for several years, in a number of different venues. It was my original intent to have multiple blogs with identical content going all at once, so that my message of truth and justice would spread across the land, but I'm not really much of a multi-tasker. One blog would slowly taper off, and a few months later a new blog would rise to take its place. Much like the wily phoenix, or the Baldwin brothers.

But I had a lot of time to kill over the last week, and while I could have blown it all on something productive, like "cleaning" or "consolidating my debt," I chose instead to dust off all my moldy old blogs and duct-tape them together into one glorious, ranty ├╝ber-blog. So check out the new and improved archives. Learn all about my short-lived career as a performance poet, and that time I got fired from the Episcopal Church (which is kind of like excommunication, without the unemployment benefits).

Go. Explore. Plant a flag for the invading, smallpox-ridden colonists of your choice.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jesus H. Witchcraft

Just got a fabulous Google News Alert delivered fresh to my e-mail. A fundamentalist Christian minister has announced that Wicca is a "demonic cult."

Well... duh. Nothing to get too worked up about. If I had a nickel for every time a fundamentalist minister called a press conference about Wicca being a demonic cult, I'd be able to hold my own press conference and announce, "No more so than Buddhism." Now, if the minister had been all, "Wicca is A-OK in my book!" then I'd start to worry.

This story has popped up on several religion news Web sites and columns, one of which includes a "comment on this" section: a popular little feature with the online media, where readers get to express their own outraged views and opinions. I knew I didn't need to read the comments. I knew a bunch of self-righteous NeoPagans would post things guaranteed to give me an aneurysm. I knew these things.

But I read the comments anyway. I was not to be disappointed.

Some choice excerpts:

"While no one likes to be the object of hostility, this nut’s statements may feed into Wiccans’ sense of legitimacy."

"Wicca as a religion has been thrown together from a lot of different European traditions, combined with some early 20th century Romanticism of the past and a healty dose of anti-Establishment /anti-Patriarchal ideas."

"Gardnerianism has more Druid influence then most, but Gards are a minority among Wiccans."

...and my personal favorite:

"I’d take people who worshipped the Greek gods more seriously."

I'm all for individual religious expression. I encourage everyone to find the spiritual path or belief system that's right for him, her or it. But this current trend among NeoPagans to look down the nose at Wicca without having any clue about it's history or practices, while simultaneously proclaiming eclectic pantheisitc gobbledygook as ever so much more evolved, just makes me want to hurl. Read a book published before 1997, for the love of Christ.

Bluebird of Vengeance

There were two bluejays outside my window this morning.

This is concerning.

The courtyard of my apartment complex is pretty much a bird sanctuary: we've got doves and sparrows and cardinals and something that looks like a finch, and one time a random grey heron landed out of nowhere. Jack set up a feeder right after we moved in, and I took great delight in all the birds that ended up milling about on our balcony. Especially the doves. According to the Feri Tradition, doves are a symbol of the Goddess, and me being... well, me, it was far to easy to turn the mundane event of stepping outside for a cigarette and watching the doves gorge on seed into a mystical experience of cosmic proportions.

Then the bluejay showed up, and his first act as resident territorial avian was to divebomb me when I stepped too close to the feeder. As long as I stay to the far left of the balcony he leaves me alone, but if I meander to the right, it's Death From Above.

As startling as it can be to have a lower life form single you out for termination, it's nothing I can't handle. I have a long history of run-ins with the Corvus family, specifically mockingbirds, so one bluejay is no big deal--I just make sure he's not hanging around before I go out to smoke. But now there are two of them. They weren't even feeding. They were just perched on the balcony railing, staring in at me. It was a wee bit too Hitchcockian for my tastes. If a third bluejay shows up, I'm moving.

Awhile back, I adopted the screenname "Grackle" for the various e-mail lists in which I participate, although the name didn't stick. Perhaps if I start calling myself Grackle again, and really commit to it this time (i.e. "I AM the Grackle!"), the bluejays will see me as a distant cousin on some totemic level, and will go find some other schmuck to terrorize.

Hey, it could work. Don't judge me.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The klutz he is a-changin'

Inspired by a brief, debilitating bout of "I feel like doing something," I've begun a simple woodstaining project. So far, I have not:

a) ruined the clothes I'm wearing.

b) tripped over a cat and dumped the entire can of stain onto the carpet.

c) burned the house down.

Jack would be so proud of me if he knew, but he's at work right now and won't find out what I'm doing until he gets home. I pretty much planned it that way. If I do destroy something, I'll have time to clean up and hide the evidence. If things keep going well, I'll get to go, "Surprise! I finished a small craft project that didn't result in us getting evicted!"

I'm a big believer in little victories.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Media Darlings of Darkness

The governor of Virginia has granted an informal pardon to Grace Sherwood, the only person in the state's history to ever be convicted of practicing witchcraft. Sherwood died of natural causes about 250 years ago, but hey, better late than pregnant.

In other news, an accounts analyst in Illinois was allegedly called a "devil worshipper" and subsequently fired after her supervisors learned of her Wiccan beliefs. She also claims that she was told to "keep her religion to herself" when she attempted to take a day off for a Wiccan holiday.

She's suing for punative damages and backpay. Hopefully, her trial will go better than Sherwood's did.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I am the gay, ha ha!!

Yesterday morning, I crawled out of bed, shuffled over to the computer, checked my e-mail and discovered this in my inbox. It's kind of surreal to witness something that frequent commentator Red Delicious would call "wonderfully hideous" when you're not fully coherent; one of those moments where you sit around thinking "I'm pretty sure I'm awake..."

It's got a good beat, though. I'd totally dance to it. And of course, there's the whole universal message of acceptance we should all take to heart.

But man, the subtitles just crack me up.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I am NOT disputatious, you're just WRONG

This morning's random search engine larks led me to the Christadelphians, a small Christian sect founded in the late 19th century. They believe that the Bible is the only text inspired by God; that the Holy Spirit is the power of God, not an actual entity; and that women should wear hats.

The hat thing is apparently a pretty big deal for them, and they look to all sorts of Biblical quotations to back up this practice. Women who don't want to wear hats, possibly because of untreatable scalp conditions, are labeled "contentious." After using the word several dozen times in a hat-related treatise, one Christadelphian author decided to clarify:

“The word ‘contentious’ means ‘a lover of strife.’ (Greek: philoneikos,’ ‘fond of strife, i.e. disputatious.’) It is fruitless to attempt to persuade a lover of dispute by reasoning. The only recourse is to argue on the basis of authority.”

So my name in Greek is "Philoneikos."

And... well, that's really my point. I'm not gunning for the Christadelphians or anything--I just like that I know how to say "Lover of Strife" in Greek. It'll come in handy if I ever join the Minoan Brotherhood.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Because I said so

If you happen to be a 20-year-old NeoPagan, and you ever find yourself in an online discussion forum interacting with several hundred British Traditional initiates: do not begin, end, or otherwise bedazzle a sentence with the phrase "Gerald Gardner founded Wicca."

Just don't. I mean it.

What, me retrograde?

Mercury went retrograde two days ago, and will remain in this state until July 28. This signifies a period of unexpected delays, frustrations, and communication issues. Do not: sign contracts, make important life decisions, plan trips, or tell terribly droll jokes that couldn't possibly offend anyone.

And don't even think about calling your mother. Just trust me on this one.

A planet is in retrograde when it appears to be moving backward through the Zodiac. Planets don't actually moving backwards, of course. It just looks that way on account of a whole bunch of Physics stuff that I don't care to understand.

Whenever a planet goes through a retrograde, the specific spheres of influence governed by that planet go... well, splooey. Mercury rules communications and travel, among other things, so as a writer working within the travel industry, these particular retrogrades are understandably rough on me. I get through them, though, by doing what I'd do during any other low point in my life: I take everyone else down with me.

I like to start with a co-worker.

Me: "Mercury went retrograde."

Co-worker: "Um, what?"

Me: "Mercury went retrograde. That means it's a bad time for communications and travel."

C-w: "Huh."

Beat
.

C-w: "Hey, we work in communications and travel."

Me: "Yep."

C-w: "So how bad is it going to be around here?"

Me: "Who knows?"

C-w: "But it's going to be bad?"

Me: "Really bad."

I hold this same conversation with two or three different employees, singled out for their penchant for superstition and tendency to lose their minds when stressed. Then I wait. Eventually, an e-mail goes astray, or a witty remark is taken out of context, or traffic inexplicably backs up outside the office. Mayhem ensues.

This may seem mean-spirited, but I like to look at the positive. If everyone around me is bumping into walls and cursing astrology, there's not much chance that upper management will notice how badly I'm screwing things up. It's mercenary, but quite genius. I may write a book.

Merry Retrograde, Charlie Brown!

[ed. note: Special thanks to Eddie of Amber and Jet, for introducing the word "splooey" into my vocabulary.]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tropical Storm Evn

I'm very sensitive to changes in the weather, and, when firing on all pistons, I can detect the signs of an impending storm hours in advance. There's nothing particularly psychic or Witchy about this ability. It's just that my car's a piece of crap: a 1994 Ford Aerostar minivan, missing its driver's side window and sporting a leaky roof. When the breeze picks up and the sun clouds over, I've learned to tell exactly how much time I have to reach shelter before my trusty vehicle floods from the inside out.

Unfortunately, Nature pulled a fast one this morning. I was on my way to my office, idling at a stoplight, when a tropical storm broke directly over me. Within seconds I could barely see the road, not only because of the buckets of rain cascading across my windshield, but because of the buckets of rain cascading into my car. Drenched, blinded and quickly reaching my breaking point, I did the only logical thing I could think of--I yelled at the storm.

Given the early hour and the dizziness provided by my ear infection, it was easy to romanticize the situation: a Witch stands alone on the wind-swept heath between his village and the ominous black clouds gathering on the horizon, his cloak swirling about him as he stares down a vengeful Sky God.

It was kind of like that. Except I was sitting in a minivan, screaming "Stop it!" in a high-pitched, whiny voice, flapping my hands helplessly and trying not to cry. The storm did not stop on cue, as I'd hoped. Instead, it raged until I burst through the doors of my office building, soaked and shivering, then let up immediately. Immediately.

That darn Sky God. Hoo-boy, what a comedian.

1942 - 2006

Right after the Enron arraignments, I wrote a brief editorial for a Houston newspaper in which I predicted that Ken Lay would be, and I quote, "a feeder pet in the prison food chain."

So much for my career in prophesy.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The poetry's just flowing like mead around here

Another classic from the vaults:

Sun Signs

"I'm a Capricorn!"
No, you're an asshole.
But in defense of astrology,
I can see how you got
the two confused.

Kind of like Emily Dickinson

I'm determined to do something productive today, and as such, I've been halfheartedly shifting through the big pile of crap on my desk. So far I've put some things in drawers, inserted a photograph into a frame, removed the photo from the frame, and thrown away a paper towel.

Woo. Now I'm all sweaty.

I did, however, uncover a gem--a previously forgotten senryu (humorous and/or cynical haiku) scrawled on a random scrap of paper. If I remember correctly, I wrote it while drinking bourbon at a poetry club, and I think I really managed to capture that moment:

Mardi Gras

"Tits! Tits! Show your tits!"
But I don't show my tits. I
show my soul... No beads?

July... what day is it, again?

It's about to rain, which I'm pretty sure is going to ruin the banking holiday of the Cajun barbeque afficionados who live below me. Oh well, I'm sure they'll muddle through somehow. Those feisty Cajuns always do.

It's July 4, and I feel like I should have a beer. Except I don't want a beer. I want some nice tea, maybe Earl Grey or Imperial Gunpowder. Beer doesn't sound appealing at this particular juncture.

Is that unAmerican of me? Is it a bad idea to drink British beverages on the day we're supposed to be celebrating our independence from Britain? Should I go ahead and have a beer, just in case?

Decisions decisions. What a day I have ahead of me.

I should mention that I have an ear infection, which seems to be afflicting me with a mild touch of the brain fever. I'll stop typing now.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Ah, Witch Duckie, we hardly knew ye...

Some astute readers may have noticed that my profile picture, an adorable rubber duckie sporting a hilarious pointy black hat, has been replaced with an image of a blood-spattered psychopath.

Perhaps I should explain.

I've been trying for veritable eons to find a decent image of Evnissyen (the mythic original; I have pictures of me), but without success. I did, however, find a cute little witch duckie with a Bailey's Irish Cream logo across his cute little duckie breast. It made a better self-representation than, say, the lifesized portrait of me painted by one of my mom's art school buddies, in which I'm depicted as fatter, balder and generally more toothless than I am in person.

So I went with the duckie.

One bright day, while tooling about with Google, I ran a search for Efnisien (the Welsh spelling of my name; "Evnissyen" is the English version) and stumbled across a Web site for a Mabinogion cartoon movie. It was love at first bloddy sight--unfortunately, the site and the cartoon are both in Welsh. Me no speakee the Welsh. I may be able to get my hands on a copy of the film, but I'm pretty sure my DVD player does not feature Welsh-to-English subtitles. Unless I sit in front of the TV reading out loud from a modern Mabinogion translation while the movie plays in the background, there's not much chance of me being entertained for more than a few minutes.

On the bright side, the Web site was chock full o' screen shots, all of them featuring handy captions. There were several great Efnisien pics to choose from (Efnisien sacrificing himself to destroy the Cauldron of Rebirth; Efnisien standing around looking bored; Efnisien cracking everyone up with his Brando impersonation), but I settled on Efnisien covered in blood, staring directly into the camera and cackling maniacally. It suits me.

He's even got the crazy eyes. I get the crazy eyes sometimes, so I totally know how he feels.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekend Genderbending

It's Sunday afternoon, and I'm building a Goddess shrine, listening to the lyrical stylings of Ani DiFranco and cleaning litter boxes.

And to think it used to bother me when my friends would call me a lesbian. But enough for now: the herbal tea's about to boil over.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Eat your heart out, Sally Fields

A local community theatre has asked me to star in a one-man show, premiering sometime next summer.

I've spent the last few minutes in my living room, practicing my curtain call:

One bow to stage right, arms behind back. Big smile.

One bow to stage left, arms behind back. Big smile.

One bow to stage center, arms relaxed, dangling at sides, spent. Big smile, eyes showing the faintest glimmering of tears (i.e., "You like me...").

As audience rises to their feet, I clap back at them. We all share a hearty laugh at my disarming, comic self-deprication, and my selfless acknowledgement of the audience as an integral part of my heartrending performance.

Oh Gods but I'm good.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hooray, hooray, we're all going to die again

It's June 1, the official start of Hurricane Season. To celebrate, Houston had a thunderstorm and minor flooding.

Not ominous in the least.

Apparently, the big concern right now is that because of last year's traffic debacle, Houstonians won't evacuate, even if a Category 5 hurricane comes traipsing down Montrose. And you know what? They're right. I, for one, am not going anywhere. Last year I spent 9 hours in an airconditionless Lincoln Town Car getting bitten and shat upon by an apoplectic, heat-stricken cat, and I can safely say it's the closest I've ever come to spontaneously losing my mind. This year, I plan on stocking up on candles and bottled water and tying my freshly-desecrated rosary to my balcony rail (Catholic folk tradition holds that a rosary left outside can stop inclimate weather, since Jesus won't let it rain on His mother; results to be posted soon).

So yeah, no evacuating for me. As the summer heat seeps across Houston and the TV meteorologists start preaching Armageddon, I'm going to quietly scout out my neighbors' apartments and get all my looting mapped out ahead of time. If anyone has a wish list--a used DVD player, a moist sleeper sofa, dysentery, etc.--just let me know and I'll see what I can pick up for you.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Irrational? Vindicitve? Au contraire, mein freud.

A Gardnerian High Priestess of my acquaintance just sent me a lovely e-mail. She recently read some old articles of mine, and wanted to let me know that she found my writing style funny yet kind, and not at all bitchy.

Take that, people who think I burn bridges.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Securing a quaint little summer cottage in Hell

I spent a leisurely hour today browsing through the Catholic bookstore down the street from my office. I like the Catholic bookstore. The clerks are usually friendly (I think most of them are seminary students), there's always soothing music on the overhead, and I enjoy perusing the extensive collection of patron saint key chains and figurines. Plus, it was an absolute hoot watching the employees catch the Spirit over the last pope election. I spend a lot of free time in the Catholic bookstore.

And before anyone even thinks it, I am NOT turning into a certain bipolar Pagan who decided the Goddess is really the Virgin Mary, found Jesus, and spent the rest of his pseudo-academic "career" attempting to ruin Wicca for the rest of us, so just squelch that little cockroach of an idea right this instant.

But I did buy a rosary.

I've been fascinated by prayer beads, rosaries in particular, for as long as I can remember--probably because I was raised Episcopalian, and we didn't get to have them. But I always thought they were cool. The ex-monk I lived with for awhile in college had a woven leather one that he wore as a bracelet, presumably in case of impulse meditation, and I secretly coveted it. Or, at the very least, a just as smart-looking Pagan-themed accessory.

Recently, I came across an article called "An Isis Rosary," and my lil' Goddess-oriented heart lept in delight. A brief bout of net-surfing uncovered several Web sites on similar subjects, some with glittery handmade products for sale, but not having a credit card handy, I couldn't make any purchases. I entertained the notion of trying to make an Isis Rosary myself, but decided that it would be much more subversive and reclamatory to buy a rosary and alter it, thus transforming it into my very own set of Pagan prayer beads.

"Hey, wait," I hear everyone who knows me saying. "Are you telling us you undertook a craft project of some kind? Haven't you learned by now that you have no crafter abilities whatsoever? How many fire alarms and gluegun burns must we endure before you'll just... stop... trying?"

Yes, yes, I know all this. But seriously, how hard could this be? All I needed to do was find a suitable rosary, remove the crucifix and attach some kind of Pagan bobkin, like an ankh or a pentacle or something, and poof! All done! Ready for prayin'!

So anyway, back to the bookstore: I found a lovely and reasonably priced wooden rosary, interspersed with Virgen de Guadalupe beads [ed. note: La Virgen de Guadalupe is really Tonantzin, the Aztec Mother Goddess. Just ask Her.]. I carried my newfound treasure up to the front counter, where seminary student du jour reminded me to have it blessed. I thanked him, because, let's face it, I would've forgotten--having a Catholic priest bless things for me just never makes it onto my to-do list.

Rushing home, I located a small pentacle fob, whipped out my trusty Swiss Army knife (it's green with a little shamrock on it, so it's really more of an Irish Republican Army knife) and snipped the loop of cord holding the rosary's crucifix in place, making the logical assumption that I could knot the two free ends around the pentacle. Poof!

And here's today's first Very Important Lesson: when you snip a small loop of cord, the ends fray very, very quickly. Additionally, it's not at all easy to tie small, pieces of cord together--it just leads to more fraying. After a few minutes of attempted knotting and steadfast fraying and nominal cursing, I gave up and reached for the Krazy Glue.

Very Important Lesson Number Two: Krazy Glue does not, as the packaging would lead you to believe, "Automatically Bond to Anything." Cord, being a fiber, absorbs liquids such as Krazy Glue, leaving very little left to secure a pentacle fob. And as it turns out, big globs of Krazy Glue squirted haphazardly on cord don't dry quickly at all. Um, poof.

And yes, I did manage to glue the pentacle to my finger. How astute of you to guess!

A rosary with a frayed, gummy cord and missing its crucifix does not look like a craft project in transition. It looks... well, creepy, like vandalism carried out by a Satanic kindergartener. I am determined to make this work, though: I'm nothing if not obsessive, and my Pagan prayer beads will be a goddamned reality no matter how many pentacles I glue to myself. Tomorrow, I'll hit the local Barnes and Noble on my lunch break and check out their Arts & Crafts section. Perhaps some clever author has already penned The Idiot's Guide to Blaspheming Rosaries.

Speaking of books, here are some nonfiction titles currently gracing the Catholic bookstore's "New Release" shelf (I swear I'm not making these up):

The Da Vinci Hoax

Women Who Make The World Worse, and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports

Be Intolerant, Because Some Things Are Just Stupid

Amen.

Living up to my name

My four-year relationship with a local gay-and-lesbian lifestyle magazine, to which I contributed humorous essays, feature articles and book reviews, has ended. Badly. On account of I may or may not have kinda-sorta accused the business manager of being an extortionist.

The situation itself is not worth rehashing, other than the fact that the guy's a total prick, and it was quite empowering to point this out to him. Of course, I expected some degree of fallout--for example, the business manager admitting, "You're right, I'm a terrible person. What sort of heinous life have I led? Oh, won't somebody please end all the misery I've inflicted on others," etc. What I didn't expect was a whole bunch of disappointed looks and the phrase "burning bridges" bandied about with far too much regularity for my sense of well-being.

Truthfully, I was shocked that none of my friends, family or business associates saw things my way. I mean, I figured someone would applaud my efforts to stand up against the Man in the name of the Little Guy (tm). But alas, my partner is now encouraging me to look into anger management classes, and my co-workers have unamimously voted to upgrade me from "that weird guy with the witch snowglobe on his desk" to "that weird guy with the witch snowglobe on his desk who's going to snap at any moment; no sudden moves, people."

Ah, the joys of being an idealistic, self-righteous jackass.

Monday, May 29, 2006

What Dreams May Show Up in Your E-mail

I was clearing out my inbox this morning, when I came across something I'd forwarded to myself months ago. The subject line read "blog-dream," and as far as I can tell, it was something I wanted to post here, but never got around to doing. Finally, the wait is over--for your reading pleasure, here is "blog-dream":

In this dream, several of my co-workers and I joined a secret, underground death cult, led by Kevin Costner. At our first official meeting, we murdered him with a sacrificial knife, but without any apparent reason: maybe we were all trying to prevent "The Postman II" or something. Anyway, we elected a new leader, whom we were planning to sacrifice at the next meeting. That evening, my friend Sarah showed up to join the cult, and we got ready for the upcoming ritual (which involved putting on kilts, covering ourselves with grease and jumping up and down). While we were kilting up, I mentioned to Sarah, "Hey, just so you know, we're going to kill this guy." She replied, "Oh. Well, I'm going home, then." I decided to go with her, and we hopped in an Oldsmobile Delta 88 and started to drive away. Suddenly a cop pulled us over. I reached for my drivers license and proof of insurance, only to realize that the cult had stolen them.

Fin