Thursday, October 29, 2009

Full Body Proselytism

Ye Gods, but I need a massage. Seriously. The muscles in my upper back could deflect bullets right now, and the overall tension has started affecting my subconscious: Last night, I dreamt that I booked an appointment with a "licensed, professional" massage therapist, who instead turned out to be a creepy gynecologist. He made me submit to a series of x-rays, examined my back for a second, then berated me for asking to use the restroom and made me take out his garbage.

Repressed frustration or frustrated repression? You decide.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to be a client of Greatest Massage Therapist of All Time (tm). Total teddy bear of a guy, Pagan, gay, could completely work this one knot out of my shoulder that most therapists can't even break into, just an absolute prince. In fact, here's a For Real picture of him:

I know, right? Sadly, he moved to New Orleans to be with his boyfriend and pursue his art career. Because true love and national recognition for one's creative endeavors are more important than my shoulder. Apparently.

After he left Houston, I spent many moons vetting new massage therapists, but I couldn't find one with whom I clicked. They couldn't quite get the crunchies out of my problem spots. Or they were crazy. Or they weren't crazy enough. One guy did a great job, but his studio was way the hell across town. Plus all the pot he smoked before sessions made him overly chatty, which did not particularly help me relax.

A few months back, I wandered into a chain massage company down the street from my apartment, and lo, finally met an adequate replacement therapist. Nice person, very intuitive, listened to my needs and adjusted his style accordingly. Sounds perfect, no? Um, no. A skilled and talented masseuse he may be, but... well, here's another picture:

Yeah. I should explain.

I was at the massage place, getting a nice, deep-tissue rubdown and teetering on the edge of consciousness, when my therapist went, "Hey, Evn?"

"Blurgh?" I responded, coming out of my coma. "What's up?"

"Can I ask you a question? I kind of need some advice."

"Sure..." I replied, still not quite awake but feeling a vague need for caution.

"Well, I recently met this girl, and I like her a lot. We've gone out a couple of times, and she seems to like me, too."

"Congratulations," I said.

We chatted about the girl for awhile, and I could tell that he really did like her, mainly because whenever he brought up one of her many favorable attributes, the pressure he was exerting on me went from "firm" to "interrogation technique." Eventually, he realized I wasn't yelping out of the sheer joy I felt now that he'd found a special someone. He apologized profusely and got back to his quandry.

"So, anyway, here's the thing. She used to go to church on a regular basis, but she feels like religion has... failed her. And I want to tell her about my religion and the church I attend, but I'm not sure how to bring it up."

"Okay... what religion are you?"

"Jehovah's Witness."

I thought for a moment. "I'd recommend letting her bring it up. When that happens, you can take the opportunity to share your beliefs with her."

He nodded. "Yeah, that's a good plan. Thanks! So, are you a religious person?"

Experience has taught me to tread carefully in these situations, so I mumbled something about being raised Episcopalian.

"And did the Episcopal Church... fail you?"

I don't think I've ever felt so naked in my life. Not just because I actually was naked (although that wasn't really a problem: I mean, hell, I'm Gardnerian), but because it was such a moment of helpless exposure. I was lying face down on a table, with this guy who could snap me in two towering over me, digging his fingers into my leg and gearing up to ask if I'm in the market for a new denomination. Awkward.

Oh, and by the bye, WTF is with the whole "... fail" thing? Does he have a freakin' script memorized?

I ended up telling him that the Church didn't fail me (it just fired me) as much as it wasn't the right place for me. I went on to say that I hold some deeply personal spiritual beliefs with which I'm extremely content. He caught my italics and didn't press further, and the session came to a close. Stress-free at last, I limped my way home.

And now I'm desperate for another massage. I've got an appointment booked this afternoon with a therapist I found through an online directory. His bio didn't mention a stance on organized religion, but regardless, I'm totally going to case his studio for the current edition of The Watchtower.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Trivia - Solutions

Vanquished in a timely, thematically-appropriate manner.

1. 48. Hrs.

2. Labyrinth

3. On The Beach

4. The Ring

5. Switching Channels

6. The Day After Tomorrow

7. Pitch Black

To make up for my tardiness...

... I went ahead and dropped a hint.

Tuesday Wednesday Trivia

What? I got busy.

With that in mind, today's movies all revolve around deadlines and time management.

1. Two days of temporary parole. (Solved by Siobhan.)

2. One guard always tells the truth; the other always lies. (Solved by Siobhan.)

3. A Coke bottle nudged by a window shade. (Solved by Lisa.)

4. The tree featured in the video is a Japanese maple. (Solved by Christina.)

5. "He's pardoned, and you're pardoned, and you're pardoned, and you're not."
Superman, a Bandit, and the three-time love interest of the son of Spartacus.
(Solved by Melville.)

6. The students trapped in the library burn books to keep warm.
(Solved by Red Delicious.)

7. Eyeshine and a total eclipse. (Solved by Lisa.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Heterocidal

In looking back over the details of the whole bloody debacle, it's clear that the biggest mistake we made was "asking" rather than "doing." See, my buddy Sphinx and I thought it might be fun to start a social/discussion group for gay male Pagans in the Houston area, so what we should have done was chosen a date, time and place, and then send out an announcement via Meetup.com. Instead, we decided to see if anyone else was interested before we moved forward, and so we posted an inquiry on a local Pagan listserv.

Like the legendary invasions of Ireland, the responses came in waves.

First Wave: Accusations and condemnation. By expressing the intent to form a group for like-minded individuals with common interests and experiences, we're being divisive and separatist. And we're destroying the community. And we hate black people. Apparently.

Second Wave: An animated discussion between several self-styled "fag hags" about how much they just love their gays. Because, y'know, nothing makes one feel more human than being perceived as a fashion accessory.

Third Wave: General consensus that this currently-theoretical group for gay male Pagans will be open to everyone. Sphinx and I replied that no, actually, we'd like to keep things limited to gay men, which was met with...

Fourth Wave: Condescension. It's so cute when the gays try to think for themselves. But really, we know what's best for you. Bless your sexually deviant little hearts.

Fifth Wave: More decrees of forced inclusion. The group will now be open to gay men and any cisgendered woman who has (I swear I am not making this up) an invisible, "phantom limb" penis.

After the last round of attempted appropriation, we gave the fuck up. Oh, the group's still happening--several other guys have expressed interest, and an official Meet & Greet's in the works--but we've removed ourselves from NeoPagan Big Brother at Large. Safe space will be created away from the willfully ignorant, with outside approval neither desired nor required. And anyone in the Houston (cough) community who takes issue with that is more than welcome to bite me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quotes o' the Moment - Theory v. Reality

"Never complain. Never explain."

-Katharine Hepburn


"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps."

-Emo Philips


(PS: Emo Philips made me come out of the closet. True story.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Trivia - Solutions

You guys rock. Which means you should all go out and immediately rent #4. Seriously. It's one of the few true Best Movies Ever.

Also, you should all go out and rent #7, because, well, wow. Fisting. 'Nuff said.

That aside...

1. Trick

2. Jeffrey

3. Love! Valour! Compassion!

4. The Ritz

5. To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

6. Brokeback Mountain

7. Cruising

Tuesday Trivia - Men Who Love Men

I'm feeling a wee bit heterophobic at the moment, so today's movies all revolve around the gay male experience.

1. He was dumped by a Whiffenpoof. (Solved by Veles.)

2. "Maybe you didn't hear me. I'm a Catholic priest. Historically, that falls somewhere between chorus boy and florist." (Solved by Melville.)

3. Eight friends spend three banking holidays together. (Solved by Veles.)

4. He's a businessman, hiding from his mobster brother-in-law, but a lounge singer thinks he's a producer. (Solved by Brian.)

5. "I know what you want. Do you know what you career girls want?" "Careers?"
(Solved by Veles.)

6. She says her husband was killed in an accident. He doesn't believe her.
(Solved by Debra.)

7. Deep undercover in the Meatpacking District. (Solved by Debra.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ring My Bell

A late-night chat with an online buddy:

Him - “You should get Skype so that we can finally talk face-to-face.”

Me - “Dude… you know we’ve met in person, right?”

Him - “We have? When?”

Me - “At PantheaCon 2008. We sat next to each other during the ‘Dangerous Herbs of the Witches’ workshop.”

Him - “We did?”

Me - “Yep. After that, we hung out in the GLBT hospitality suite, where we got into a lengthy debate about the merits of emerging shamanic paths versus British Traditional Wicca…”

Him - “Okay, I did go the hospitality suite. But to be honest, I drank a lot that weekend. And I met tons of people. It’s all kind of a blur. I’m sorry, but I just don’t remember you.”

Me - “… and then a drop-dead gorgeous, 7-foot-tall guy with dark, soulful eyes and really large hands told us about the time he got fucked in the ass on a church altar.”

[beat]

Him – “Oh. My. God.”

Me – “Yeah.”

Him – “Oh, my God, Evn!!! We were out on the balcony, you were wearing a green plaid shirt and standing to my left, it was a balmy evening with a light breeze blowing in from the Southwest…”

And that’s how you jog a memory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Huzzah!

Good job, guys! Alison Bechdel is very proud of you. Probably. I haven't asked.

1. Bound

2. Aliens

3. Hairspray

4. Arsenic & Old Lace

5. Clueless

6. Empire Records

7. The Opposite of Sex

Tuesday Trivia - The Bechdel Test

In order to pass The Bechdel Test, a movie must a) feature at least two women, b) who talk to each other, c) about something besides a man. The following films all qualify.

1. "If there's one thing I can't stand about sleeping with women, it's all the fucking mind-reading." (Solved by Veles.)

2. Him: "Have you ever been mistaken for a man?" Her: "No. Have you?"
(Solved by Yvonne.)

3. "Love is a gift. A lot of people don't remember that. So you two better brace yourselves for a whole lot of ugly coming at you from a neverending parade of stupid." (Solved by Rebelleink.)

4. "Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops." (Solved by Annye.)

5. "Why should I listen to you, anyway? You're a virgin who can't drive."
(Solved by Melville.)

6. "Well, Sinead O'Rebellion. Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behavior." (Solved by Veles.)

7. "If you think I'm just plucky, and scrappy, and all I need is love, you're in over your heads." (Solved by Veles.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

The open letter I'm waiting for

Dear Citizens of the United States of America,

Thank you for not electing another fuckwit. Please accept this as a token of our deep appreciation.

Sincerely,

The Norwegian Nobel Committee

Friday, October 09, 2009

In the words of the Captain of Road Prison 36...

Jack and I had a huge fight last night: A real fist-shaking, door-slamming, make-the-neighbors-uncomfortable kind of affair. At one point, having exhausted all of my arguments, I kicked over the coffee table. This did not, as I'd predicted, clarify my position. It did, however, scare the fuck out of the cats, so at least something good came out of it.

Somewhere along the line, Jack and I lost the ability to communicate. We talk, and we listen, but neither one of us can understand what the other is trying to say, which infuriates both of us. We're like what would've happened if Abbot & Costello had been cast in Enemy Mine.

Here's an excerpt from a recent telephone conversation:

"Hello?"

"Hi! Do you work today?"

"That's why you called?"

"Um... yeah. See, I was wondering if..."

"I'm off tomorrow."

"Okay, but do you work today?"

"You already know that I'm off tomorrow."

"I do understand that you're off tomorrow. But I wanted to ask..."

"My vacation starts tomorrow afternoon."

"Yes. Yes, it does. But I don't know what your schedule is today."

"And I just told you that I don't work tomorrow."

[beat]

"Let's try this again. Do you work today?"

"Tomor-"

"Do you work today?"

"My vaca-"

"Do. You. Work. To. Day?"

[extended pause]

"I am working today."

"Okay. Okay, great, thank you. Are you working a morning or evening shift?"

"I'm off tomorrow."

[cue laugh track; applause]

What kills me is that away from each other, we're both excellent communicators. I've been a professional writer and editor for eight years; prior to that, Jack worked in radio for 14 years. We know our shit, y'know? We're both really talented when it comes to expressing ourselves. But put us in the same room, and we're immediately stricken with aphasia.

Thank the Gods we never adopted. We would've had to hire interpreters.

Aside from showing the cats who's boss, last night's screamfest did provide a little insight into why we're so terrible at interacting with one another. I tend to read body language, watching for physical clues that tell me whether or not I've gotten a particular point across. Jack pays more attention to words themselves, and derives the intended message without the use of non-verbals. So, for instance, I'll say something like (quoting Belle) "When you told me blah blah I felt blee blah because mergh," and Jack will respond based on the words I've used, and I'll respond to that based on his body language, and both of us start feeling like we're not being heard, and then furniture gets broken.

Maybe we're both overthinking this. Like, if we'd just communicate instead of trying so damn hard to communicate, we'd have less reason to be pissed off all the time. Or maybe a gypsy put a curse on us. Hard to say. But I do hope we get through this. I hope that one day, we'll be able to chat like old friends. And most of all, I hope when that day comes, we really will be old friends.

Time will tell.

So I will do my best to listen.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Three Little Words

Batman: The Musical.

Red Delicious explains.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Tuesday Trivia - Solutions

Well done, my Loyal Strifemongers! Not a single hint needed.

But don't rest on your laurels, pumpkins. Once Deborah's elite cadre of movie experts finds out that Tuesday Trivia has migrated over here, they are going to Bring It. I suggest memorizing IMDB.

Seriously.

That said...

1. School Ties

2. The 13th Warrior

3. Hocus Pocus

4. Stigmata

5. Clash of the Titans

6. Season of the Witch

7. The Ten Commandments

Keep up the good work!

Tuesday Trivia 2.0

For the past four years, Deborah has hosted a weekly movie trivia quiz on her blog. It was a smash success and a jolly old time from the very beginning, but unfortunately, Deborah's super-swamped with work and outside projects, and needed to suspend the game indefinitely.

But never fear, Loyal Property-of-a-Ladyites! Me being afflicted with a chronic impulse disorder an altruistic go-getter, I volunteered to host the show from here on out. Below you'll find seven clues to seven movies. Post your guesses in the comments section; hints (if necessary) will go up tomorrow, and the answers will be revealed on Thursday.

In keeping with the nature of my own blog, this week's theme is Religious Strife. En garde!

---

1. Takes place at a boarding school. According to my Fundamentalist aunt, the lead actor "isn't Jewish in real life." (Solved by Melville.)

2. He fights with a big-ass sword. She fights with a bear claw dipped in poison. It's pretty much a tie. (Solved by Miakoda.)

3. Two of the Witches appeared together in a later film, this time as an ex-wife and a trophy wife. (Solved by Cat.)

4. Ironically, the actor portraying the Catholic priest went on to play Satan in his next movie. (Solved by Miakoda.)

5. "Once he even tried to ravish me disguised as a cuttlefish." "Did he succeed?"
(Solved by Veles.)

6. She forgot to attend church on the first day of Lent. Fortunately, there are ashes in the fireplace. (Solved by Veles.)

7. The orgy scene alone took three weeks to film. (Solved by Kitty.)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Why I Hate Wal-Mart

Me: "Pardon me, but where are your restrooms?"

First Wal-Mart Employee: (gesturing to the Northeast) "Straight over yonder."

[ten minutes later]

Me: "Ma'am? Hi. Where can I find a restroom?"

Second Wal-Mart Employee: "The restrooms? They're right back that way, next to where Shoes used to be."

[ten minutes later]

Me: (starting to shake) "Please tell me where the restrooms are."

Third Wal-Mart Employee: "Okay. What you're going to want to do is this: Go back the way you came, and..." [I swear I am not making this up] "...look for the intersection of Toys and Walmart.com."

[ten minutes later]

Me: (curled in the fetal position, somewhere in the uncharted backwoods of Electronics) "Can't... hold it... any... longer..."

Fourth Wal-Mart Employee: "Sir? Am I to understand that you're looking for the restroon? Please take this ball of string and follow me through the Labyrinth."

I'm fully aware that I spent a good portion of Thursday bitching about the minor inconveniences of online shopping. With that acknowledged, if I never again in this lifetime patronize an establishment larger than a linen closet, it will be too goddamned soon.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Other White Meats

Disgruntled Vegan Employee: "I like animals more than people."

Me: "I do, too. They taste better."

And then she got all offended and gave me the Vegan Glare, which I just dismissed as a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in her diet.

Somebody please explain to me how I ended up in management.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I have issues. And statues. But mainly issues.

Instead of, oh, I don't know, working, I spent the morning on an occult retail Web site, gazing longingly at a Goddess statue I don't really need. This is one of the drawbacks of a polytheistic worldview: There is no such thing as too many Goddess statues. (Even though, let's face it, there probably should be.)

If I were a little more pantheistic, I could just grab one of those standard-issue, Faceless And Vaguely Woman-Shaped With Handless Arms Raised High figurines and be done with it. But no, I've got to make sure Everyone has Their own votive. I may be convinced that St. Expedite and Thoth are ultimately the same divine being, but I couldn't rest until I found two different representations of Them, both of which are currently nestled in equal but separate areas of my living room.

Sometimes I worry that I've conflated "sincere religious devotion" with "neurosis."

Speaking of, one of my other fun personality quirks is marked indecision when it comes to spending money, coupled with mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies. The two together make for a fabulous inner monologue:

"Okay, I'm going to buy this statue. No, wait, I'm not. Although it's not that expensive. But I spent way too much in Boston. But what if they sell out before my next pay period? Good point! I'm going to buy it right now." [click] "Huh. Shipping's more than I thought it would be. I should wait a month. Yes, I'll wait until next month. Or next week. Tomorrow, maybe? Oh, just buy it." [click click] "There. And then click on 'submit,' and... no, wait, let's really think about this..."

[Repeat for five hours]

Th psychic deadlock eventually wore me down, and I decided that this was a job for divination. I opened a desk drawer and pulled out one of my geomancy decks (I keep one deck at home and another at the office, because there's something wrong with me), drew a card, and... Laetitia. Not thrifty advice.

Oooh, time for another quick geomancy lecture. The sixteen geomantic figures can be divided into two categories, based on their inherent stability or mobility. In a yes/no reading, a stable figure means yes, and a mobile figure means no. Unless (there's always a catch) Laetitia appears, in which case the message is "No, but do it anyway."

So I bought the statue. Because a bunch of dots told me to. Yay for geomancy! Yay for statues! Except...

I'm not what one would call blessed with that virtue known as "patience." I normally try to avoid online shopping all together, since not being able to get my hands on the merchandise right this very second often results in me flushing vast amounts of cash away on next-day delivery. This particular metaphysical shop does not offer multiple shipping options, which did save me a few bucks. However, as soon as I a made my purchase, I received an e-mail confirmation that was all, "Thank you for your valued business. Your order will ship in one to four weeks. Or January. What day is it again? We're a little high right now."

So basically, I'm being held hostage by Pagan Standard Time, with nothing but my eleventy-billion other statues to comfort me. I'll bet this is exactly how the Amish feel.