Thursday, November 27, 2008

NeoPagan Netiquette Revisited

I've been moderating a Pagan listserv for awhile now, so it will not come as a shock when I say that my life has become an endless game of Whac-A-Mole.

It never fails. Just when my co-moderator and I think we've got the locals under control and nominally focused, a new little monster pops up just out of our reach, determined to chew through everything we've tried to accomplish.

The latest spat was relatively brief as these things go, but it still provided an ugly snapshot of the Houston "community." And of course, it started innocuously, with one poor list member assumming she could ask for assistance without repercussion:

Pagan 1 - "Hello! If anyone with a truck is free this weekend, I could really use some help. We've got some furniture to move, and we need to be out of our current residence by Saturday."

Pagan 2 - "I don't mean to sound rude, but..."

Okay, I'm going to stop here for a second. It's one of those pesky Universal Truths: if you feel the need to slap this kind of disclaimer onto whatever it is you're about to say, the next words out of your mouth will be exactly what you claim they're not. If you say you're not trying to be rude, but, your next comment will be rude. If you say you're not racist, but, your next comment will be racist. If you say you're not gay, but, you're about to launch into a detailed dissertation on how desperately you want to have sex with Hugh Jackman.

Mmmm. Hugh Jackman. Yes, please.

But now we're off topic. Let's ground, center, and get back to Pagan 2:

"I don't mean to sound rude, but this is a holiday weekend, and you're asking a lot of us. Why can't you move next week? Or at least offer to pay someone?"

The fact that she could feel so personally inconvenienced by a general request is sort of breathtaking in it's egocentricity. But I do appreciate how she wouldn't feel inconvenienced if money were to change hands. Charity at it's finest, no?

My co-mod and I managed to squelch the situation before the list at large erupted, explaining the previously-mentioned Universal Truth to Pagan 2 and strongly recommending she work towards more constructive commentary. And things calmed down for a few hours. Unfortunately, we did not anticipate the belated arrival of Pagan 3, a two-in-one combo of my least favorite Netziens: The lurker who only participates when there's drama (usually to announce how distraught he is by the drama, which only serves to ensure that the drama continues), and the reactionary who doesn't bother to read all the posts in a given thread before launching himself into the argument. "I demand that the moderators do something!" he cried, bandying his swollen angst about like a baseball bat with a nail through it.

By this point I'd had quite enough, and silently excused myself to go outside and slam my head in a car door. While this particular pastime does not require the same skill set as Whac-A-Mole, it is, in its own way, infinitely more therapeutic.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Addendum to my previous post

As is often the case in my life, Randall Munroe at xkcd knows exactly what I'm going through:



Waking up is hard to blog

Jack was surprised to find me typing away at my computer after 2 a.m. "Why are you awake?" he asked.

"I had a bad dream about blogging and couldn't get back to sleep," I said. "So I decided to check my e-mail."

Seeing as how this is nowhere near the weirdest thing I've ever said to him, Jack accepted my explanation without question. In truth, though, the dream was not a nightmare at all. In fact, it was a very good dream, in which I composed the most amazing blog post the Internet had ever seen.

The post itself was loosely based on one of Le Cornichon's essays but took off in a different direction. I incorporated a number of seemingly unrelated ideas, then wove them into a seamless tapestry of exposition, the kind that makes readers slap themselves and say, "My God! My God, yes, of course!"

Quite an exciting moment of revelation, until I woke up. The dream melted away and slipped down the drain of my consciousness, leaving only a lonely, puddled sentence fragment behind:

"As we can see from the metaphor of the dentist, Grant Smiling..."

That's it. That's all that's left of an imaginary blog entry that could have won a Pulitzer. I could cry.

Which is why I was checking e-mail at 2:00 in the morning, hoping against hope that Le Cornichon had written something--anything--that would jumpstart my brain and bring my dream memories flooding back.

Alas, he had not... although he had sent an unsolicited picture of a rugged, well-endowed moose of a man, wearing a come-hither smile and not much else. So that was nice. And later in the day, Sarah agreed that Grant Smiling would make a wonderful name for a dentist. Which also helped.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things I say to my employees

"Think of this less as a threat, and more as a pep talk."

I'm the best manager ever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Open Memo to Gay Bloggers

Dear Gay Bloggers,

Please stop assigning possessive, childlike nicknames to attractive male celebrities.

Do not refer to Tim McGraw as "My Timmy." Do not refer to Matthew McConaughey as "My Matty."

It's just kind of gross.

That is all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Brotherhood of Snuggie

Although I'm not a fan of the advertising industry, I have a weakness for those "Not Available In Stores" commercials; the ones that feature terrible acting and bizarre products that no one in their right mind would ever actually use.

No one but me, that is. I loved my Magic Bullet, up until I accidentally destroyed it. Turns out, the Magic Bullet was not designed to pulverize myrrh.

What? I needed incense.

Anyway, I saw a commercial over the weekend that just about killed me. It opens with a woman sitting on a couch in a tastefully appointed living room, rubbing her arms in an effort to stave off hypothermia. An announcer pipes up to explain the situation through doggerel verse:

"You want to keep warm when you're feeling chilled, but you don't want to raise your heating bill."

The woman glares at her thermostat, which is leaking cartoon dollar signs. The camera shifts, and the woman is now lying on the couch under a blanket, visibly disillusioned.

"Blankets are okay, but they can slip and slide," the announcer continues, in a tone suggesting that anyone who uses a blanket in this day and age should go back to the caves and bang rocks. "And when you need to reach for something, your hands are trapped inside!"

On screen, the telephone rings. The woman flails helplessly about, desperate to free herself from the blanket, which has apparently come to life in order to devour her.

Before the blanket can claim its victim, the announcer jumps in to save the day. "Now, there's the Snuggie!" she exclaims. "The blanket that has sleeves!"

Not to come across as a bumpkin or anything, but down here in the caves, we call a blanket with sleeves a "robe." However, the Snuggie distinguishes itself from traditional housewear in that it slips on from the front. The woman is now happily wrapped in a Snuggie, which sports voluminous bell sleeves and a wide, hood-like collar. She looks, for all intents and purposes, like a cozy, comfortable, Satanic High Priestess.

The rest of the commercial depicts a variety of people ("One size fits all!") wearing Snuggies in different chilly environments, revealing that Satanists are far more domestic than one might assume. A Satanic High Priest types contentedly on his laptop; a group of Satanic High Priestesses cheer from the bleachers at a Little League game; two members of the Satanic High Priesthood and their Satanic Acolyte children toast marshmallows over a campfire.

By the marshmallow scene, I was literally choking on glee. I ran into the other room to describe the commercial to Jack, but I was laughing too hard to make any sense: "Blanket... sleeves... Satanic... Little League... Snuggie!"

Eventually, Jack understood that I was talking about something As Seen On TV. His eyes turned to flint.

"You may not have a Snuggie," he said.

"I don't want a Snuggie," I replied. "It was just a really funny commercial."

But oh, secretly, I do want a Snuggie. And if I order today, I'll receive a second Snuggie at no extra charge, plus a handy, clip-on book light, perfect for reading the works of Edred Thorsson during evening rituals.

If you want a Snuggie of your very own, you'll need to act quickly. Satanic High Operators are standing by to take your call. And your soul.

---

Update: It has come to our attention that the Snuggie is an imitation of the Slanket, which is more expensive, but which offers a wider selection of colors.

Such as hunter green.

Hint. Nudge.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thoughts on Thealogy

While blithely traipsing across the Internet, I discovered a Web site devoted to “saving the planet” by replacing God worship with Goddess worship.

According to the author, all male Gods are malevolent, and all Goddesses are archetypes of unconditional love. If everyone starts venerating the Mother instead of the Father, then our world will become a blissful utopia within the next two decades.

Okay. I have a couple of comments. The first being a line cribbed from The Craft:

"Nothing makes everything all better."

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, a cultural majority that worships the same deity is not automatically rewarded with universal hugs and kisses. Two words, my friends: Protestant Reformation.

I feel that She’d fight this kind of perversion of Her nature, but within a uniformly Goddessian society, inevitably, devoutly, someone would start a movement proclaiming, “The Mother would never condone abortion.” Or, “The Mother would never approve of that kind of marriage.” Or, “The Mother would never allow those people to pray at Her altar.”

Setting aside the fact that historically, humans do not react kindly when their deities are taken away from them, no matter how gentle the extraction process: If our ultimate goal is enforced monotheism, then we haven’t learned a damned thing in the past 2000 years.

Our aim should not be spiritual domination, but spiritual freedom. Instead of ignorantly reenacting the histories of the Judeo-Christian faiths, we should be laying the groundwork for those who come after us, who will not only be correcting the mistakes we’ve made, but who will be free to venerate the Divine as they see fit.

I do not begrudge the previously-mentioned author her right to worship a Goddess. However, I cringe when I consider how she’ll react when she learns that not everything wrong with our world can be blamed on a God... or that some Goddesses might take issue with her perception of Their consorts.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Third time's the closer

We're approaching the official halfway mark of National Novel Writing Month, and I've snuggled into my traditional self-destructive behavior.

Here's how it works: I slack off on blogging, reasoning that if I'm writing, I should be focusing on my novel over anything else. But then I fall behind in my word count, which makes me feel guilty, so I give up writing all together. In the past, this has led to not updating the blog for a couple of months, which in turn leads to a dark, bottomless funk from which I don't emerge until June.

Well, not this time, campers. I can handle the depression and self-esteem issues, but the critical lack of Strife caused someone to unsubscribe from my Follow This Blog list.

As my dear, departed grandmother would say, "Screw that noise."

You know what? I'll write a novel whenever I damn well get around to it, not on someone else's arbitrary deadline. And it will be a good novel. So fuck you, NaNoWriMo. Fuck you in your hairy ear.

Right, then. Back to blogging.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Please don't squelch my dream, guys

So I'm on the phone with Sarah, and I hear myself say:

"If I am going to be Michelle Obama's gay best friend, my mother will learn to like her."

Because every First Lady needs a gay best friend.

Yes?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh, Happy Next Four Years

Noise from the living room roused me from a fitful sleep. Shuffling out of the bedroom, I found Jack staring wide-eyed at the television.

"What, did he win already?" I asked, stifling a yawn.

"Yes," Jack said. "He did."

And I burst into tears.

I do not ascribe to the religious beliefs presented in the following clip. However, the emotions expressed therein, along with select lyrics, correspond perfectly to the way I feel right now:

Evn on the Eve of the Election

My polling station is a Catholic Church a couple of blocks over from my apartment complex. After placing my vote, I ducked into the sanctuary for a quick prayer.

I will admit to feeling a little guilty about praying to the Goddess of the Witches in the middle of a Catholic Church. But they've got this amazing, floor-to-ceiling Queen of Heaven mosaic along the back wall, depicting the Virgin Mary in the standard Artemis at Ephesus pose, that frankly couldn't get any more Pagan if they tacked a "Please Remove Clothes Before Venerating" sign to it. So I figure no harm done.

I did not, as my Strifemongers might assume, pray for Obama to win. It just was my usual daily devotion, albeit carried out in a different venue. However, I did make a deal.

If Obama wins...

[Jack, you're going to want to sit down for this one.]

If Obama wins, I promise to stop expressing my political views in ways that mortally offend the people around me.

For example, I will no longer scream, "Fuck you! Fuck you, I hate you!" at the television while Jack is trying to watch the news. I will no longer make proclamations like, "I don't care what you think: If he willingly represents the entire republican party, then he is, in fact, a bad person." I will no longer suggest that the world would be a better place if Sarah Palin were to be eaten by wolves.

So that's my offering; my sacrifice. I agree to muzzle myself, so long as the situation at hand resolves itself in a truly necessary change.

That said, should things work themselves out otherwise, I have free reign to develop a spontaneous, acute and unstoppable case of Tourette's, the likes of which this world has never seen.

So, for me, it's win/win. But I'd prefer things get better for everyone.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Your Inaugural Moment of Chick

I was sitting out on my balcony, admiring the cresent Moon and the evening star (Venus) floating gently above her, when I thought, "Hey, that totally reminds me of the official symbol of Islam! Neat!"

And that realization inspired me to create a new semi-regular feature here at Lover of Strife.

Every once in awhile, I'll post a random panel from a Chick Publications comic strip. My Loyal Strifemongers will then comment upon it.

Ready? Good:



Discuss.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Engender, Dismember, the First of November

After facing two dismal failures in the past and swearing I was never going to put myself through this again, I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month one more time.

You can follow my progress here. Wish me luck, Strifemongers. And feel free to get on my case if my word count doesn't increase by at least 1667 a day.