Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What I've learned from online forums

Seeing as how I'm gay, Pagan and a political independent, I'm allowed to respond to any post I choose with the following:

"That's not funny."

And it's freakin' great. I can't get enough of this shit. I'm winning so many arguments right now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quote o' the Moment - Unwelcome

“Evangelical groups have been meeting with major [bookstore] chains to 'advise' them on marketing to their community, pointing out that Christian bestsellers like the Left Behind series make the stores more dollars per square inch of shelf space than Wiccan, feminist or psychology books, and also that their community won't come to those stores unless they're not offended by what's being shelved in the stores and unless they're 'made to feel welcome.'

"The two groups I heard were spearheading the effort were Assembly of God and the Philadelphia Church. Pagans are in danger of becoming the new Jews in a culture that is increasingly fascist, however that fact may be obscured by being wrapped in red, white and blue bunting and religious platitudes.”

-Phyllis Curott

[Ed. note: There was a different Quote up earlier, but I think this one's a little more o' the Moment.]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Long Live the Queen

It's been widely noted, if not necessarily understood, that republican VP nominee Sarah Palin formerly belonged to the Assemblies of God: a colorful branch of fake Christianity that has, over the years, spun off a number of wacky sects. Most notably the Third Wave.

Third Wavers, a cheeky gaggle of militant wingnuts if there ever was one, have declared an official jihad (I am not making this up) on the Queen of Heaven, known among the hell-bound masses as Diana, Artemis, Fatima and the Virgin Mary. She's a demon, they aver. Oh, and She's also the Whore of Babylon.

Speaking as a priest of said Queen, I resemble that last remark. And if you ask me, they left out several essential names. What about Astarte, Third Wavers? I love Astarte. But they also didn't call me for clarification; which, frankly, is a mortifying PR bungle on their part.

I could have cleared up a few things. Seriously. They need me.

And if I sound unduly irreverent, it's only because I'm scared out of my mind.

Just to set the record straight, I am not an alarmist, nor am I a reactionary. But I am a homosexual Witch who likes to speak his mind. In the eyes of those who subscribe to a debased satire of the Rabbi's teachings, who may just live to see one of their own ascend into the office of President of the United States, that makes me a target. Or a scapegoat. Or a sacrifice.

That said, I do feel the need to offer some constructive criticism before the grinning, glassy-eyed godbotherers show up to take me away.

To my Pentacostal readers (and believe me, I'm huge in rural Alaska): Call it "baptism" all you want, but if you forcibly hold someone under water for an extended amount of time, and he or she ends up having visions of the Divine, they are not catching the Spirit. They are drowning.

From a personal perspective, I'd happily pretend to talk in tongues if I was trying to keep several gallons of murky river out of my lungs and desperately wanting to breathe again. But hey, that's just me. You go on with your bad selves, Third Wavers. Praise Jesus. Blessed be.

Anne at The Gods Are Bored has called for Pagans to come together in solidarity, to present a united front in the face of what could quite possibly the most fundamentalist oligarchy this nation has ever seen. I've been thinking a lot about how we can accomplish this. No small feat, really, considering the Pagans in my immediate vicinity spend a lot of their free time coming up with creative new ways to hate each other.

But it strikes me that if the Third Wavers are in such a froth over the Queen of Heaven, perhaps we should make Her as visible as possible, then lock arms behind Her. And to do this, we'll need T-shirts. To quote Renée Zellweger in Love and a .45, "If I'm gonna get killed, I'm gonna look good doing it."

With that in mind, I'd like to direct my Loyal Strifemongers to The Cat & Cauldron, the online store of the amazing and fabulous artist Thalia Took (who just debuted a new blog). It's your one-stop shop for top-quality Queen of Heaven merchandise.

Products featuring Artemis, Diana, Fatima and The Virgin Mary are all obvious choices, but Ishtar, Isis, Mary Magdalene, Sophia and Stella Maris would be appropriate as well. And of course, Inanna is highly recommended: She is, after all, the original Queen of Heaven, plus I understand that Fundies tend to spontaneously go blind when their eyes fall upon empowered, topless Goddesses.

Conversely, if you'd rather just terrify them, nothing says "Do Not Fuck With Me" like a proud display of Anat across your chest. I'll be going with The Black Virgin myself, but I encourage you to find your own favorite design.

I really do hope the T-shirt thing catches on. I'm fantasizing about scenario a few months from now, when a Third Waver, possibly handing out apocalyptic religious tracts, glances at what I'm wearing as I pass by and shrieks, "You're one of them!"

"Yes," I'll reply. "And we're doing our very best to peacefully co-exist. Brightest of blessings to you and yours, bro. And long live the Queen."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm boiling them as we speak

About halfway through my morning, I noticed there was an ingrown hair on my chin. I slipped into the restroom, pulled the tweezers from my Swiss Army knife, and almost had the hair worked free when I thought:

"You know, you really should have washed these after you let that guy use them to get that splinter out of his foot."

I don't like feet. I don't like feet near my face. And I really don't like dealing with the unflinching fact that hindsight is fucking disgusting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm No Lady

Deborah Lipp has asked me to guest-blog over at Property of a Lady this week, so be sure to check in there for assorted hilarities. And movie trivia. And stuff about my cats.

Monday, September 22, 2008

After the Aftermath

It's been a week since Hurricane Ike beat the hell out of Houston, and I'm happy to report that things are almost back to normal. There are still a lot of stoplights out around town, making traffic something akin to the fifth circle of Hell, and as of this writing, close to a million citizens are still without power. But overall, we've dug in our heels. As a group, we simply refuse to believe that a pounding, relentless force of nature could in any way get the better of us.

In other words, we're all in denial. Which, in this particular situation, is probably healthy. It's keeping us productive.

Now, when I say we're all in denial, I'm not being facetious. The media is going on and on about how they've never seen a city come together and pitch in to facilitate recovery like we have, but truth be told, every last one of us is simply pretending it didn't happen:

"Wow, that was a really rough hurricane."

"What hurricane?"

"Um... the Category 2 hurricane that ripped through Houston last weekend."

"Ha ha! What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the hurricane. Were you out of town or something?"

"No, I've been here."

"Okay. Then you're fully aware that we just had a hurricane."

"You're obviously delusional. Although if you're not busy, could you help me lift this tree off of my wife? It seems to have fallen on her for no reason whatsoever."

So that's where we are. Our willful ignorance is getting our fair city back on track quite nicely, and that over-arching obliviousness makes me proud to be a Houstonian. And the easy access to decent Thai food. But mainly the obliviousness.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jack approved this message

Not a fan of Teh Potter myself, but I'll bet the works of J.K. Rowling are a fabulous source of nicknames for Sarah Palin.

Strifemongers, what would you like her nickname to be?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm alive!

What, like a hurricane could stop me?

Please. If the Episcopal Church couldn't, nothing can.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dark clouds all up in my business

Depending on whichever media outlet you prefer, Hurricane Ike is currently...



bearing down on

preparing to devastate

trumpeting the Armageddon of

about to go medieval on the ass of

bringin' in 'da noise, bringin' in 'da funk to

...the Houston area. Since Jack's still out of town, my original plan was to go it alone and have myself and adventure: Evn vs. Ike in the Title Match of the Century. But then I walked outside this morning, into the glorious, autumnal sunlight, and a light breeze picked up, and I went "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE" and fled to Co-Witch A.'s house.

Her family and I have been eating pumpkin enchiladas and peanut-butter Rice Krispie Treats for the past several hours, and watching very bad sci-fi movies about pretty twenty-somethings who can teleport. And even though we're also staking out which closets we're going to hide in once the storm makes landfall, I feel perfectly safe, and I'm 97% sure that I'll be heading back to a blissfully not-wind-damaged home come Sunday afternoon.

But I'd greatly appreciate it if all of my Loyal Strifemongers could go ahead and be sure of it as well, thus hedging out that troublesome 3% margin of error.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The private army I've always wanted

Over in the far right column of this page, you'll notice a new widget thingy with which you can register to "follow" my blog.

I don't really know what that means, but I do like the idea of having official followers. It was sort of a childhood dream.

If enough people sign up, I'll have buttons made.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Witch by Design

Jack’s on a business trip right now, so I feel comfortable making a public announcement, knowing he won’t read this and have an aneurism until at least Thursday afternoon.

I want to become a NeoPagan interior designer.

Okay, yes, I freely admit that my taste levels have been questioned in the past. And I also admit that I’ve been watching too many reality competitions on the Bravo network while thinking, “You know, that doesn’t look so hard. Slap on a fresh coat of paint, bring in a new sofa set, help Kelly Wearstler remember how to use the muscles in her face... child’s play.”

But I did briefly work in the industry. And I’m looking at how the triptych of equal-armed Celtic crosses next to our sliding back door blends brilliantly with the ceramic decorations on our balcony. I’m looking at how the reproduction I picked up at the Museum of Fine Arts compliments my green devil Maurin Quina print (which, in turn, compliments Jack’s Cafés Chocolats). I’m looking at how the framed pieces of artwork leading to our bedroom--as well as the magnets on our refrigerator--create captivating, viable eyelines.

Even Jack will agree with me here. When I came home with a set of yin-yang candle holders, he rolled his eyes: “Great, just what we need. More crap.” Then, five minutes later, after he saw them installed in the master bathroom: “My God, they set off the shower curtain beautifully!

Oooh, and back when Jack’s brother lived with us, I had to move my altar into the living room. With a few subtle, well-placed religious symbols and a couple of pillar candles from Target, I created a practical, accessible devotional space that, at first glance, came across as an innocuous end table with some thoughtfully arranged knick-knacks on top. It totally fooled Co-Witch A., and she knows from altars.

I’m good. I could so do this.

All I need is some rich patrons to get me off the ground.

And I think I know how to find them.

When it comes to NeoPagan retail, the Houston area is cursed with abundance. There's the Magick Cauldron, Elemental Magick, Simply Magick, Lucia's Garden, Metaphysical Matrix, Rhyandra’s, Tranquil Thymes, Temple’s Gate and the Witchery, plus (should your occultism lean towards the Diasporic) the Blue Hand, the Stanley Drug Co., Botanica Elegua and thirty or so yerberias. But there’s also a New Age boutique, located in one of the city’s high-end shopping district, which caters specifically to wealthy socialites who want their country club acquaintances to think of them spiritual: Antique singing bowls, $3000 statues of Kwan Yin, The Secret on DVD, that sort of thing.

Those socialites are my moneymakers.

Here’s my business model. I get a part-time job at the boutique, learn enough about Feng Shui to sound like I know what I’m talking about, and make astute décor recommendations to the clientele decked out in diamonds and Hermés peasant skirts. People will talk (“He changed my life! And the billiard room!”), customers will start asking for me, and eventually, someone will want to know if I’d be so kind as to redo their summer home.

The rest, as they say, will be gravy. High-end gravy.

Look for me on Bravo, circa 2010. I’m going to be the next new thing, possums; I'm going to own this town. And I’m bringing you all along with me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

All Bark

There's this lady who walks her two ancient beagles across the front plaza of my office every day around 6 a.m. She's on the short side and kind of squat, and with her graying, curly hair, she reminds me of Shelly Winters. Or maybe the character Shelly Winters played on Roseanne.

I first encountered Dog Lady right after I started working in this particular building. We passed each other near the parking garage, I smiled politely, and she shot me a "go to hell" look that singed my eyebrows off.

Despite my tough, manly-man exterior, I secretly want everyone to like me. So the next time I saw Dog Lady, I smiled again and offered up a bright "Good morning," hoping she'd let me pet her dogs. Instead, she steamrolled past me, tossing another concentrated burst of Evil Eye in my direction.

Dog Lady's animosity really bothered me, until I realized that it could have been inspired by point of view. Speaking for the entire male gender, we have a bad habit of viewing ourselves, individually, as non-threatening entities. As such, we're not always aware that the things we say and do have the potential to cause stress and fear. From my point of view, I'm a nice, harmless guy who thinks dogs are cool. From Dog Lady's point of view, it's early in the morning, still dark outside, she's by herself, and this 6'1", relentlessly cheerful man is expressing unwanted interest in her.

Yeah, that would scare the shit out of me, too. I decided to leave Dog Lady alone from then on out.

This morning, I was outside enjoying my usual sunrise cigarette, and I spied Dog Lady approaching from around the corner of the drive-through bank behind my building. At the same time, a car pulled through the driveway of the bank and parked at the edge of the road. A woman hopped out and trotted towards the mailbox about ten feet away.

Dog Lady stopped beside the car and put her hands on her hips. "Hey!" she shouted. "You're blocking the sidewalk!"

The woman dropped a package in the mailbox and trotted back toward the car without response.

"I said you're blocking the sidewalk!" Her complaint still not acknowledged, Dog Lady maneuvered herself around the vehicle and advanced on the woman, unleashing a sulfurous barrage of obscenities until her target, now visibly alarmed, scrambled back inside her car and locked the doors.

"Asshole!" Dog Lady screamed, her face inches from the driver's side window. Then she stormed on down the street, dragging her confused, wheezing beagles behind her.

On second thought, I don't want Dog Lady to like me after all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quote o' the Moment - Magical Geeks

"I've often wished that I had some suave and socially acceptable hobby that I could fall back on in times like this. You know, play the violin (or was it the viola?) like Sherlock Holmes, or maybe twiddle away on the pipe organ like the Disney version of Captain Nemo. But I don't. I'm sort of the arcane equivalent of a classic computer geek. I do magic, in one form or another, and that's pretty much it. I really need to get a life, one of these days."

-Harry Dresden

This week's quotation comes from a fictional occultist--one with whom, I'm ashamed to admit, I overly identify.

[Damn your hide, Apocrypha! I am going to get you for introducing me to these goddamned novels. They are, as you accurately predicted, the crack rock.]

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I went icon shopping after work today, and I have to say that my neighborhood Catholic bookstore, while filled to brimming with respectable idols, is severly lacking in the Czestochowa department. I found a couple of nice pieces here and there, but they were either too small and designed to stand rather than hang (which can be problematic), or they were way too big, or they'd been meticulously hand painted by elderly Polish nuns, thus leaving them far out of the reaches of my decorating budget.

So no icons for me. Phooey. I do have a couple of other shops to check out, though, as well as something that passes for patience, so I'll bide my time and see what turns up. And even though my debit card was burning a hole (to Hell) in my pocket, here's a list of items I did not buy:

A life-sized plaster statue of Our Lady of Grace, just begging to be installed in a bathtub shrine. (Plus it brought back happy blogging memories.)

A Virgen de Guadalupe throw rug.

The following framed print.

It's called "Batting for Christ," and it gives me the creepin' heebie-jeebies so bad that I can't pull my eyes away from it.

From a Christian perspective, I'll bet there isn't a better antidote for masturbation than hanging this thing in a little boy's bedroom, i.e., "Let's not forget who else has his hands on your bat." But from a Pagan perspective, I want to give it to Red Delicious as a birthday present, just to see how long it would take him to stop pretending he appreciates it.

Although now that I think about it, he's both Catholic and a baseball enthusiast. So it's totally à propos.

Damn. I wish I'd known about "Batting for Christ" back when he got married. It would have looked lovely tucked in among the less malicious gifts.