Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Freudian Slaughter

What the subject line said:

"Virginia Blood Services requests that you verify your e-mail address."

What I could have sworn it said:

"Virgin Blood Sacrifices requests that you verify your e-mail address."

Note to self:

"Improve critical reading skills."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Would you light my candle?

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and my neighbors have been decorating.

Jack, keenly aware of (and not entirely put off by) my love of Things Ganesh, has been keeping me abreast of their progress.

"Did you see?" He asked me yesterday afternoon. "They hung up a banner! Go take a look at it."

I took a look at it. It was very nice. And this morning, when I called from the office to check in and say howdy, Jack was eager to report new developments.

"There's a candle by their front door now," he said, "And there are these cute little footprint stickers all around their welcome mat."

"I know," I said.

"How do you know?" he asked.

"Because I saw the stickers last night," I replied. "When I was setting the candle."

Considering how much of an interest he's taken in our neighbor's Diwali preparations, I'm not quite sure why he chose to respond to my last statement with prolonged silence. But I'm also thinking it would be best not to tell him about pouring the offering of milk. Or where I did so.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Here There Be Roaches, and Other Confessions

You gotta be quick if you want to keep on top of things in the blogosphere. For instance, Thalia tagged me with the following meme:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.

5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

And while I dithered, trying to come up with six interesting things about myself, Deborah tagged me with the same meme. I’m officially behind! Let’s stop with the loitering, then, and dive right in.

1. I am terrified--terrified--of cockroaches. Now, I know my UK readers are scratching their heads and going, “Roaches? Those wee little German bugs? Yes, they’re unpleasant, but scary? Pshaw.” To that, I say this: You have never been attacked by a Texas cockroach. The first time my sister-in-law (she's from Kansas) saw one flying around (they fly), she went “Ooh, look! A bat!” They are fuckers and I hate them.

2. My left ear is pierced three times--two in the lobe and one up in the top cartilage. This is unimpressive by today’s standards, but back in the mid-90’s, I was freakin’ edgy.

3. I have a recurring nightmare in which I’m back in school, and I realize that I haven’t attended a given class all semester. It’s usually a class I’d never have taken in real life, like Engineering or Advanced Calculus, although sometimes it’s an English or History course. But this is never the “plot” of the dream--it’s just something that occurs to me halfway through, while I’m fighting zombies or whatever. So I have to spend the rest of the dream fighting zombies and figuring out how to explain my dismal GPA to my parents.

4. I can only sleep comfortably with one leg sticking out from under the covers. It’s like a reptilian, body-temperature-regulation kind of thing.

5. The final scene of Practical Magic makes me cry. Not just tear up, mind you, but sob uncontrollably. It’s one of my favorite movies, so I watch it every other month or so, and every time I think, “It’s not going to get to me.” And every time, as soon as he hears Stevie Nicks singing, Jack comes running in to watch me curl up in the fetal position and weep. He was sympathetic the first couple of times, but now he just tries not to giggle.

6. When I'm home by myself, and I know I'm not going to get caught, I crank up the stereo and lip-synch to Erasure's "Don't Say Your Love Is Killing Me." I've got a music video for the song mapped out in my head, and I periodically act it out in my living room.

All that wrapped up, I tag Red Delicious (he likes lists), Rottie Mom, Li, Bo, Pom and Knotty by Nature. Carry on.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

That motherly glow

I had some time to kill before meeting my mom for a matinee screening of The Secret Life of Bees, so I dropped by the Catholic bookstore, where I discovered an eight-inch-tall, glow-in-the-dark Virgin Mary.

I didn't buy it. Because, let's face it, what the hell would I do with an eight-inch-tall, glow-in-the-dark Virgin Mary?

But on the other hand, how have I ever lived without one?

Monday, October 20, 2008

I do hope she reads this

I’ve decided to found a non-profit organization called WASP:

Wolves Against Sarah Palin.

“Wolves” being a metaphorical, open-ended term, encompassing anyone whose quality of life suffers whenever Sarah Palin is given authority.

Here’s a recent quote from The Devil Wears Palin:

"Faith in God in general has been mocked through this campaign, and that breaks my heart and that is unfair for others who share a faith in God and choose to worship our Lord in whatever private manner that they deem fit."

I take this to mean that receiving blessings from a witch-hunting con artist in a public ceremony equates to “worshipping in a private manner."

Yeah, maybe not so much on the camera crew next time, Miss Congenial Concubine of a Counterfeit Christ. Learn a lesson from R. Kelly.

But I do like that we mustn’t look down on those who choose to “worship privately”... so long as they worship “Our Lord.” Open season on the rest of us, I guess. Perhaps now, since she feels so strongly about the definition of “marriage,” she’ll clear up the definition of “private.”

Before anyone gets too excited, please know that we’re not going to do much to save the world at WASP meetings. Basically, we’re just going to get together, have a few drinks, then run around in erratic, zig-zag patterns.

It will be harder for Palin to pick us all off from a helicopter that way.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lil' Ol' Southern Lady (a parable)

The Lil' Ol' Southern Lady went to lunch with a group of her acquaintances, each of whom had recently celebrated a birthday.

"For my birthday," one woman said, "My husband bought me a full-length mink coat."

"Oh, that's nice!" the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady said. "That's really nice."

"Well, for my birthday," said another woman, "My husband bought me a brand new Mercedes convertible,"

"Oh, that's nice!" the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady said. "That's really nice."

"Well, for my birthday," said a third woman, "My husband bought me an all-expenses-paid, month-long trip to Europe."

"Oh, that's nice!" the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady said. "That's really nice."

The other three women turned to the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady and eyed her critically. "And what did your husband buy you for your birthday?"

"He bought me etiquette lessons," the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady said proudly.

"Etiquette lessons?" the women asked, amused yet unimpressed.

"Yes!" the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady replied. "You see, I used to say, 'I don't give a fuck.' But now I say, 'Oh, that's nice! That's really nice.'"

If you let the Lil' Ol' Southern Lady's words run continuously through your head, perhaps as a mantra of sorts, I guarantee you'll be able to make it through any NeoPagan event with a straight face.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The envelope, please...

Ladies and gents, we have winners!

My guest judge Thalia and I were so impressed with the overall entries that we decided to add another award. Therefore, in fourth place, receiving a vivid, suitable-for-framing Goddess sticker, is... Deborah Lipp!

Aishwara Rai as Durga and Ron Perlman as the Demon Bull were solid picks, and Vivica Fox as Kali was an unexpected twist. We appreciate you giving her the opportunity for a breakout performance.

Deborah Lipp, everybody!

[applause]

In third place, we had a tie!

[Gasp!]

Congratulations to both Yvonne and Anne Johnson, who will each receive an heirloom-quality Goddess magnet.

Yvonne, we liked your choice of myth, and we believe that no other actor could portray restrained disbelief at ending up God of Woodpeckers better than Colin Firth. Anne, puppetry is a dying art within the motion picture industry, so thank you for bringing in Brian and Wendy Froud to animate the Salmon of Wisdom, rather than falling back on CGI.

Let's hear it for Yvonne and Anne!

[more applause]

In second place, receiving a sturdy, libation-worthy Goddess mug, is... um, just a moment...

[An awkward pause. Evn shuffles through his notes and looks at Thalia. "Seriously?" She shrugs.]

In second place, it's Red Delicious!

[Audience starts to applaud, then lets out a collective "Huh?" Backstage, Faith Hill screams into a camera and storms away.]

Red Delicious, your entry was... different, but we're confident that yours is the one most likely to be made into a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. We had hoped that Garrison Keiller's character would meet a more crimson demise, but John Leguizamo as the Chupacabre totally compensates.

Oh, and seeing as how you're not really up on Things Pagan, we recommend you take a hint from Yvonne and go with a Pomona mug. She's the Goddess of orchards, so She'd make a good patroness for you. Just tell your wife it's a representation of La Virgen de las Manzanas.

Show Red Delicious some love, folks!

[reluctant, confused applause]

And finally, in first place, receiving a fashion-forward, thought-provoking, organic Goddess T-shirt is...

[drum roll]

Miakoda!

[thunderous applause]

Miakoda, we thought your casting was impeccable, and we enjoyed how your plot treatment infused the story of Iyansa and Shango with modern relevance. Believe me, the Gods adore modern relevance. Well done!

Winners, drop me a line at loverofstrife@yahoo.com with your physical mailing addresses and Goddess preferences. Also, if anyone would like to make an acceptance speech, you may do so at this time.

Thanks for playing!

[music swells, cut to commercial]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did I say Tuesday? I meant Wednesday.

My celebrity guest judge and I are furiously tallying contest results, which is taking a little longer than originally expected.

But we thank you for your patience. Winners to be announced first thing tomorrow morning. We promise.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Gardnerian Tradition, as Seen from the Inside

It's 10:30 p.m. The phone rings.

Half asleep, I stumble out of bed and fumble for the receiver.

"Hello?"

"Hello! Is this Evn?"

"Uh... yeah?"

"Great! This is Fred. Listen, Brenda needs to get in touch with Catherine, but she lost Catherine's number. And she tried calling Hubert to see if he has it, but he went with Lindy and Alex to go visit Morgan, who doesn't ever turn his phone on, and he only checks his e-mail once a week. So she called Valerie, but Valerie only had Catherine's old number from when she lived in Idaho. Have you ever been to Idaho? Anyway, Valerie told Brenda to call me, but I haven't seen Catherine since I ran into her and Clive at that concert in Winnipeg back in '05, so I called Hilda, who IM'ed Theo, and it turns out that Theo had a number written down for a Catherine, but he couldn't figure out if it was Irish Catherine or Lithuanian Catherine. So Hilda called me back, but then Javier called, because Valerie text-messaged him to say that Brenda was looking for Catherine, and he remembered that Catherine had said she'd talked to Diane last month, but everyone knows that Javier always gets Catherine mixed up with Wilhelmina..."

"Okay, I'm sorry, just stop. Who is this, again?"

"Oh, for Gods' sake, Evn, it's Fred. Down from Regina."

"Tall Fred? With the goatee?"

"Yes! Do you have Catherine's number?"

"Let me find my address book."

Fin.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Pot Sweetens

It just occurred to me that I didn't tell you what prizes there are to be won in the God-casting contest. Well, in light of the polytheistic nature of the competition, and in honor of the Queen of Heaven campaign I've instigated:

Third Place will receive the Goddess magnet of his/her choice from The Cat & Cauldron. Second Place will receive the Goddess mug. of his/her choice. First Place will receive the organic Goddess T-shirt of his/her choice.

Do I give good prizes or what? Now on with the show.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Casting Call!

I don't know how she does it, but Anne at The Gods Are Bored managed to score a one-on-one interview with the Goddess Asherah. I was never this lucky when I was a journalist.

During their conversation, Anne suggested that if a movie were made about Asherah's life, Charlize Theron should play the title role. Lover of Strife verdict: [Insert angry buzzing game show noise here].

Theron's lovely, really, but she is not Asherah. The part goes to Gina Torres, or we eighty-six the entire script.

However, this gives me a brilliant idea: a contest! Let's have a contest!

Strifemongers, pick your favorite myth, choose the most appropriate actors to play the Gods who appear in it, and post your submissions in the comments section. Entries will be accepted until next Tuesday, at which time I'll announce my top three casting directors (assuming more than three people enter), each of whom will win an actual prize.

And I mean it this time. As opposed to the last time I offered a prize.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Priceless

Discovered by Co-Witch B. while shopping online:


Now this is what we should have done with all the extra water Co-Witch A. and I stockpiled before the hurricane. I'm eyeing my bowl of blessed salt and a box of plastic baggies and thinking, Link sell! Link sell!

Jokey-jokes aside, it's worth pointing out that money and magic do not mix within the Gardnerian tradition. You work a spell because there is a need, not because there's an opportunity for profit; you train and initiate apprentices because they are where they're supposed to be, not because they're untapped financial resources.

With this in mind, we can safely assume that whoever blessed this water (if anyone actually did) is not Gardnerian.

And for the record, there is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with practicing a form of Wicca that does not have ties to the illustrious Gerald Gardner. I'm serious. If your particular Wiccan practice, regardless of its history, brings you spiritual fulfillment, then by all means keep doing what you're doing. You don't need Gardnerian roots to make it "valid": What makes it "valid" is that it works... or, on a more intimate level, that it works for you. And you have my permission to tell anyone who says otherwise to bugger off.

On the other hand, if you feel obliged to ride another tradition's coattails--Gardnerian, Alexandrian, or something founded down the street from you last week--in order for your practice to be outwardly perceived as "legitimate" (or to sell little bottles of tap water on your Web site), then you're emphatically off-track. Do whatever it is you do because you love it, because it makes you happy, because it brings you closer to the Gods. Or don't bother doing it at all.

And above all else, please don't slap a price tag on it. If you subscribe to the mindset that Wicca can be defined in terms of monetary value, then I guarantee you can't afford it.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Demon

As a general rule of thumb, I am not fond of children. They're noisy and they're sticky and they break things, and you can't scream at them in public if you're not related to them. Or at least, you're not supposed to. Or at least, I'm not supposed to. Anymore.

Even back when I was allegedly a child myself, I wasn't fond of children. At slumber parties, all the other kids would infest the living room, playing video games or stabbing each other or whatever, and I'd be in the kitchen with their mothers, sipping coffee and discussing the PTA.

I refused to interact with my own brother until he could legally vote. Being twins, this made family dinners awkward.

The one notable exception to The Rule is Co-Witch A.'s son, Sean. He's only nine, but he comes across as an actual person, as opposed to the revolting little booger factories most 9-year-olds turn out to be. He's just sort of not entirely unacceptable. I have decreed he can stay.

I do worry about him, mainly because his parents are who they are--that is, Pagan folk revivalists who met while working at a Renaissance Festival. Don't get me wrong, they've raised him wonderfully, but it's going to be hell for him to stage any kind of effective teenage rebellion:

"Mom, I'm dropping out of school to join a band."

"How exciting! You know, your father dropped out of school to join a band, and that's how we ended up with a lovely home in this upper-middle-class neighborhood."

"Mom, I'm gay."

"You get that from my side of the family. I mean, your father says he's bi-curious, but at this point he needs to either put up or shut up."

"Mom, I got my tongue pierced."
[read: "Mawem, ah gawth mah tawng pee-athed."]

"A Prince Albert would have been more cost-effective. Ask your father about his."

Now, the problem with worrying about a child--even one you didn't build yourself--is that it's very easy to get overprotective. This, coupled with my tendency to perceive Sean as a miniature adult, means that I've developed a bad habit of saying inappropriate things to him, which could possibly be construed as counter-intuitive to Co-Witch A.'s parenting style.

And be it known that I am not, as some have implied, trying to turn Sean into my personal pet sociopath. I just don't spend a lot of time around 9-year-olds, much less likable ones. I forget that nurturing the Darkness within them is generally considered verboten.

I was over at Co-Witch A.'s house a few months back, relaxing on her back porch during a break in our standard weekend activities (talk about Witchcraft, practice some Witchcraft, watch a cheesy, b-rated horror movie about Witchcraft). Sean wandered outside and flopped down in the chair next to me, letting out a forlorn sigh as he did so.

"Is everything okay?" I asked. And he launched into a mighty tale of elementary school woe. Some bully or other had singled him out for persecution, and he was having a hard time dealing with it.

"He makes me so mad that I want to hit him," Sean said, visibly wrestling with his emotions. "But it is not okay to hurt people."

It was out of my mouth before I could stop myself: "Okay, but you know what? Sometimes, it is."

"It is?" he asked, confused.

"Oh yeah," I said. "Definitely."

He digested that for a moment. A thin, macabre smile slowly spread across his face.

"Oops," I thought.

It took a couple of days' worth of picturing Sean gleefully burning his school down before I caved and called Co-Witch A. to confess.

"Let me see if I understand," she said, processing the situation. "What I'm hearing you say is, when a guidance counselor calls to inform me that Sean has murdered his classmates, I can refer her to you, and you'll be able to explain what happened."

I conceded that yes, that would be an accurate summation.

"Oh, good! I'm so glad we're on the same page. You have fun with that, hear?"

Many years ago, my parents decided that I should become a teacher, and did everything they could to coerce me down that particular career path. I wish I'd known Sean back then. I could have introduced him to my parents, and with one little directive...

"Sean, tell the nice people what you've learned from me."

...the question of my potential as a professional educator would have been tabled once and for all.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy birthday, Pookie. Up yours, Ike.

Today is Jack's birthday, and believe you me, we're going to have to light a lot of candles this year! Ha ha ha!

Of course, they won't be on his cake. You see, now that 98% of the Houston area has power back, ours went out again.

Fuck.

I turned 33 last month. A 33-year-old man should simply not need to spend this much time living with his parents.

Head Meets Desk

This is how my day started:

Me [chatting with a manager from another department] - "We're probably going to announce the new Web site next week, and..."

Her - "We have a new Web site?"

Me - "Well, it launched a couple of months ago, but we haven't promoted it yet."

Her [rolling her eyes] - "Nobody ever tells me anything! It's like the last time we launched a new site. It just suddenly went up one day, and no one bothered to mention it to me."

Me - "Do you mean the Web site we featured in the corporate newsletter? We sent it out to all our employees..."

Her - "Oh, I never read the newsletter."

Me - "Really? Why not?"

Her - "There's never anything in it that has anything to do with me. So why didn't anyone tell me about the Web site?"

While it's tempting to blame this on the current Mercury Retrograde, I suspect there are deeper issues at play here.