Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006, Adieu

Never got much into New Year's Eve. The last time I went to a bar on December 31 was... I do believe it was Kingston Mines in Chicago, 1989. Drinking? Fun! Hanging with friends? Fun! Doing the aforementioned in a packed, smoky venue where drunken amateurs are continually falling into and spilling drinks onto me? Not so much.

Boltgirl's Best of 2006, Off the Top of Her Head:
1. Best movie: did I go to any movies in 2006? I don't remember. I heard Cars was good, and I finally saw Pirates 2 on DVD the other night.
2. Best album: Whatever that new one is Brazilian Girls put out, or Ghostland Observatory's debut. I don't get Tom Waits; I just don't. The new DeVotchKa was pretty cool too.
3. Best book: Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel.
4. Best meal I had: Cafe Poca Cosa the night before they moved to the new location, in February. Mmmmmmmmmole.
5. Best wine: finally discovered Red Truck. Yummy, yummy.
6. Best Notre Dame quarterback in a generation: Brady Quinn.
7. Best social event: the annual Christmas party. Were you there? You should have been.
8. Best news: the November elections.
9. Best Nelson moment for gay folk: Ted Haggard. Ha-ha!
10. You want ten? Make 'em up yourself!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Christmas of the Old People

The predominant theme among the people I have talked to or spent time with this holiday season has been Oh God My (Mother) (Grandmother) (Family In Law) Is Driving Me Insane. It's a part of the Christmas experience I was blissfully unaware of as a kid, but one that is surely repeated year after year in family after family.

People seem to fall into two camps: the grit your teeth and deal until Christmas is over camp and the fuck 'em, I don't care if they're old camp. My uncle and his wife yet again made the five-hour drive from Chicago to the small downstate Illinois hometown to be with Grandma on Christmas Day, fighting stomach flu and insane western suburbs freeways and foregoing their own Christmas celebration to sit in her kitchen for three days and repeat every conversation at least four times because he's the only one of her sons left within driving distance. On the phone, with some wonderment in his voice, he says,"I'm 63 years old. I can't believe I'm letting my mother still do this to me... But I didn't want her to be alone for Christmas."

Other friends had similar experiences. Aging parents create very interesting cycles of demand and guilt, duty and exasperation. This one needs to be in assisted living but insists she'll be moving back home to live alone very soon, despite being unable to perform basic tasks without help. This one harangues both the help and the grown children who come to visit, and then wonders why everyone is so reluctant to spend time with her. This one doesn't understand why the one child left in town won't drop everything on a moment's notice to bring her a sweater or run an errand. Over and over, people wonder aloud why they put up with this crap and simultaneously swear they'll never do the same thing to their own kids.

My parents aren't there yet. They're still dealing with their own mothers with varying degrees of patience. My visits up to Flagstaff to see Dad still have enough perks to be enjoyable rather than a dreaded obligation, although he's increasingly displaying the same traits that drive him completely nuts in his mom. I asked him for advice in dealing with the last leg of this trip, the stopoff in Phoenix on the way home to see my mom's parents, the grandmother I finally realized I avoid talking to because every conversation comes with a heaping dollop of guilt for not visiting or calling nearly enough. His advice boiled down to: getting old doesn't give you an excuse to be rude, and I don't care if you managed to survive to 85 if you're just being shitty all the time. In retrospect, not much help there.

Someday I will be old myself, or at least I hope I'll make it as far as my grandparents have, and I'll probably chafe at absent kids and grandkids, ungrateful bastards the lot of them. I hope I'll remember what it is like to try to balance the familiar role of child/grandchild with the newer role of parent/partner with a life of her own and an immediate family to prioritize. I remember traveling every Christmas with my mom, making that five hour drive ourselves to the hometown to spend the week with the grandparents, and being thoroughly delighted by the whole experience. Now, as a worn-out adult, after three days away I simply want to go home.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

UFO Over Flagstaff

UFO hovering menacingly over Mt. Elden.

Sure, it looks like a cloud. I choose to believe it was a flying saucer looking for cows or stray elk to suck up. Luckily, it didn't abduct us on our way into Flagstaff.

In other news, the drive through Phoenix sucks more than ever now that Phoenix officially starts at Riggs Road (site of first narrowly avoided chain-reaction rear-ending fest) and doesn't dissipate until well past Anthem (latest insta-"community" of crap-ass stucco houses, complete with a brand new high school and strip mall shopping opportunities). Soon, the glory that is greater Phoenix-cum-LA will be repeated at least a couple of times, obliterating the dusty little farming towns currently gasping for breath between Tucson and Phoenix. Where will the water come from, you ask? Good question. The solution involves some combination of groundwater depletion, diversion of Colorado River water, and prayers to Santa.

Maybe that's why the UFO didn't stick around long.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Got an iPod Shuffle. Damn. Tiny and wow.

I am surrounded by family, good friends, a couple of dogs, and piles of good food. May you all be so blissful today.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Like a Tick on a Dog

Too much food in too little time. And I swore I wasn't going to inhale food this Christmas. Maybe I should try mainlining it instead; reducing to an injectable liquid would cut down on the caloric hit somewhat, no? No? Crap.

Too Weird for Words: This month's Bitch magazine has a story about girl-centered marketing, with the resigned conclusion that magazines, toy manufacturers, programmers, and webmasters talk about empowerment until they're blue in the face, but end up going with the pink princess on a pony theme damn near without fail. I thank the universe I had a boy just about every time I go through Target and pass the racks of pint-sized sexy clothes and the aisles of pink toys involving makeup, hair, or domestic scenes. I hated that crap when I was a kid, favoring Tonka trucks, Best of the West action figures, cap guns, and my chemistry set.

Yes, as a matter of fact, it did take me until I was 31 to entertain the notion that I wasn't exactly a typical straight gal. Or even an atypical straight gal.

But anyway, and to the point, the sentence that blew me away in this article is right there at the top of page 75:
...the media never really represents the tuba-playing, soccer-playing, science-loving, bird-watching girl because she's just not an easy sell.

Emphasis mine. Jesus Haploid Christ! I don't even know the person who wrote that, but she's managed to encapsulate my entire existence in what, nine words? Nine words! Not that she's totally inside my head or anything, but within the span of a few hours today I did play my bass along to my Christmas with the Canadian Brass CD (I played tuba for a while in high school, but didn't have one on me this morning), rearrange my soccer bag, browse a couple of my favorite ScienceBlogs blogs, and take a break from raking the yard to run inside and grab my Peterson's Western Birds to confirm the presence of a couple of Lesser Goldfinches in the mesquite tree. I mean, fuck!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Best Christmas

There is no single best Christmas for me, but I do have a happy amalgam of memories and moments drawn from a couple of decades, a mishmash adding up to that mythical perfect Christmas the way it used to be. My mom and I used to turn off all the lights in the living room except for the tree and snuggle up on the couch with cups of hot chocolate to sit and look at the bright colors glowing against the walls and ceiling. Sometimes it would be snowing outside and we would lean over the back of the couch to watch the flakes swirling in the streetlights.

Christmas Eve I went to midnight mass with my dad's family. Grandma and Grandpa were the choir directors at the church--Grandma's still plugging away, pounding the keys and drilling the choir to exhaustion at 88--so it was unavoidable, but I got to sit up in the choir loft and get an angel's-eye view of all the candles and pine boughs. When I was in high school I hopped in with the choir; Grandpa always let me sing with the tenors even though I was a girl. Afterwards it was straight home and straight to bed, at least until I hit college. Once I hit some magical age--20, perhaps--I was invited to stay up with the other adults after mass.

All those years I'd gone to bed at the same time as my brothers, completely unaware that the adults got to stay up and sip hot toddies by the fire for an hour or so before turning in themselves. I was flabbergasted. What a completely civilized way to end Christmas Eve and toast in an early Christmas morning! The specific toddy was the Tom & Jerry, sort of a creamy warm eggnog with lots of rum. The recipe looks repulsive, but by firelight, sitting around the tree with parents and uncles and grandparents, finally in on the generations-old secret, it's a winner.

Later on, when I was officially grown up and a parent myself, I still loved taking that last hour or so after putting the boy to bed to turn off all the lights except for the tree, snuggle up on the couch, and sit in the quiet for a while, soaking in the peace, re-living for a few moments everything that simple act brought back to me from long ago and far away.

Maybe I will recapture some of that this year, finding a way to push away the chaos (generally happy chaos, but chaos nonetheless) long enough to close my eyes, take a deep breath of pine, and see the world however briefly through brightly colored lights.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pants on Fire

"I trust the advice of the people who know, and that's the commanders on the ground."

Except when they don't agree with me, of course, in which case I'll ignore them too.
The debate over sending more U.S. troops to Iraq intensified yesterday as President Bush signaled that he will listen but not necessarily defer to balky military officers, while Gen. John P. Abizaid, his top Middle East commander and a leading skeptic of a
so-called surge, announced his retirement.

140,000 combat troops can't subdue Baghdad, but an additional 30,000 will? Throwing extra guys into the fire with a vaguely defined mission will magically end the futile cycle of patrolling, flushing out the bad guys from this house or that block, only to come back and do it again the next night and the next night and the night after that, ad inf.? Please forgive me if I am somewhat skeptical that "the surge," the oh-so-ballsy "double down," will do anything more than exactly squat to improve the situation over there for anyone. Bush is grasping at straws and, in the process, shoving away the few actual life rings still bobbing in the water within his reach. How many more guys are going to die before he runs up against the reality that we can't "win" there?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

La Tourelle

Six years ago this morning I perched my backpacking stove on the tailgate and cooked up some oatmeal, brewed a pot of tea, and popped open a bottle of bourbon at the base of La Tourelle Falls in the Columbia River Gorge (link is to photos similar to the non-digital ones sitting in my album, although these are not mine; look at them; they're lovely). Spitting rain turned into snow and back again, sending wisps and mist along the spruce boughs to settle on the ferns underfoot. The falls themselves were slender and tall, cascading more than 100 feet down a sheer cliff covered with impossibly bright yellow lichens.

I have never been in a place so green. Moss covers the rocks, the bridges, hangs down in long dreadlocks from the trees. Water runs everywhere. The hollows are filled with ferns. And early on a midwinter's morning the only sounds are the water falling over stone and the half-snow bouncing off the branches. Seriously, I would have been less surprised if a hobbit or elf had shown up than I was when none did.

From La Tourelle I motored along the road to a vista point next to a stone house stuck out on a cliff over the gorge. The wind picked up and the truck rocked pretty significantly as the other side of the river got swallowed up by a full-on snow. I had the place to myself as I picked my way back down to Multnomah Falls, the showpiece of the historic river highway. This one's the second-highest falls in the contiguous states, if I recall, with two drops into pools. The CCC architecture was almost as enjoyable as the natural scenery, the graceful stone arches of the bridges being slowly reclaimed into the landscape by the ever-present moss.

I made that trip to meet up with someone who, as it turned out, was playing me like a cheap guitar. These years later I still think it was worth it just for that breakfast in the Columbia River Gorge, sipping bourbon in a beautiful place I'd never seen before, alone but warm as the snow fell and the waters rushed on.

Monday, December 18, 2006


This was, perhaps, the most fun I have had at the Christmas party yet. 60 folks on the nose, give or take a toddler, over four and a half hours, packing the house and back yard, snuggling up to the fire, downing chili and wassail by the gallon.

The dogs didn't move all day Sunday. At least Max only threw up once.

Now I remember what I was forgetting to do the entire evening. Take pictures. I did at least remember to eat this year, as I noticed halfway through the first beer that I was already in deliberate enunciation mode and figured I'd better get some food in my stomach before I fell over talking to the ex's wife.

People brought lovely gifts of food and wine and beer, Jesus god do we have beer left over; if you need beer any time in the next six months save yourself the eight bucks and just stop by to grab half a dozen bottles out of the cooler. My dad contributed 30 cans of Coors Light, bless his good intentions; I told The Boy he is welcome to use the fascist beer for BB gun target practice. Shake 'em up and the blow up right purty when you plug 'em.

It was, ultimately, our Christmas gift to ourselves as much as to the 60 friends and relatives who showed up, a gathering of interesting and friendly folk who created a wonderful puff of goodwill and love on a cold winter's night in midtown Tucson, meeting and greeting and being happy to see each other and spend a few quality hours sharing food, booze, and conversation.

All the rest is just icing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

All Together Now: John McCain is a Douchebag

The Maverick apparently figures he might as well pick up W's 28% remainder for his own. Why else would he work one of Bush's favorite lines into his latest appeal for 40,000 more troops in Baghdad and Anbar Province?
Without a troop increase, McCain said at the news conference, "the results are going to be inevitable, in my view" — a defeat for America and for its Iraqi allies that would create a terrorist haven that could be used as a base for attacks in the United States.

He contrasted the situation with the Vietnam War, saying, "when we came home, the war was over." But now, he said, Iraq's Islamic militants "will follow us home" if the American effort fails.

The ISG report made it clear that Al Qaeda accounts for only a small percentage of the attacks against US forces in Iraq. AQ will be gunning for us no matter what we do in Iraq. The big guns over there, though--the Shiite and Sunni militias and death squads--are highly unlikely to hop on boats and planes to bring their fight to America. Once we're out of their way, they'll continue on with the deadly serious business of blowing each other up.

McCain is a fearmonger who is all too happy to exploit people's ignorance in order to pick up votes. He--and everyone else who bleats the "we fight them there so we don't have to fight them here" mantra--need only look to Afghanistan for a reality check. We actually were fighting AQ and the Taliban there, and when we shifted most of the effort away from there to a different there, they didn't exactly follow us in droves. They simply regrouped and re-established their dominion over much of the territory a couple hundred US and coalition guys gave their lives to drive them out of.
But McCain said personal ambition would not guide his Iraq policy.

Oh. My bad. He is distancing himself from the Bush model after all. Shite.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Tale of Two Days?

Yesterday morning, the LA Times reported that the most coherent response the Pentagon had come up with in response to the Iraq Study Group Report was to ratchet up troop levels.
As President Bush weighs new policy options for Iraq, strong support has coalesced in the Pentagon behind a military plan to "double down" in the country with a substantial buildup in American troops, an increase in industrial aid and a major combat offensive against Muqtada Sadr, the radical Shiite leader impeding development of the Iraqi government.

... Such a proposal, military officials and experts caution, would be a gamble.

... The wild card in the Pentagon planning is Robert M. Gates, due to be sworn in Monday as Defense secretary.

Double down. Up the bet. Raise the stakes. Play a wild card. Texas Hold 'Em for a New American Century. Glad to see the Poker Nation didn't lost its trendy cachet before it could be co-opted as our next official foreign policy.

The only problem with the metaphor and the mindset of the people is that these aren't poker chips they're talking about, not even the really nice 7-gram clay ones. They're human beings in uniforms being thrown into a situation whose likelihood of resolution through military means, we heard just last week, is rapidly declining.
Any chance of success probably would require major changes in the Iraqi government, they said. U.S. Embassy officials would have to help usher into power a new coalition in Baghdad that was willing to confront the militias.

And the strategy also would require more U.S. spending to increase the size of the U.S. military and for an Iraqi jobs program. "You are dealing with an inherently difficult undertaking," said Stephen Biddle, a military analyst called to the White House this week to advise Bush. "That doesn't mean we should withdraw. But no one should go into this thinking if we double the size of the military, the result will be victory. Maybe, but maybe not. You are buying the opportunity to enter a lottery."

Okay, so the setup was that we were planning to fling another 40,000 infantry into the grinder so maybe possibly the Mehdi Army would go away. In a hopeful development, however, the outcome of W's meeting with the Joint Chiefs during the day yesterday actually turned out to be a new strategy of pulling brigades out of combat, transitioning them to advisor and training roles with Iraqi troops.
Administration officials stressed that Bush, under pressure from Congress and the electorate to abandon the United States' open-ended commitment, has made no final decisions on how to proceed in Iraq. But the new disclosures suggest that military planning is well underway for a major change from an approach that has assigned the bulk of responsibility for security in Iraq to more than 140,000 U.S. troops.

The chiefs also want to see a new push on political and economic issues, especially employment programs, reconstruction and political reconciliation, to help quell the problems that have fueled both the Sunni insurgency and Shiite-Sunni sectarian strife, say defense officials and U.S. military officers in Iraq. A new jobs program is considered key to pulling young men from the burgeoning militias.

Pentagon chiefs think that there is no purely military solution for Iraq and that, without major progress on the political and economic fronts, the U.S. intervention is simply buying time, the sources said. They particularly want to see U.S. pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to offer amnesty to Sunni insurgents, approve constitutional amendments promised to the Sunni minority, pass laws to ensure equitable distribution of oil revenue, and modify the ban on members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party taking government positions.

Well, hallelujah. It makes me wonder, though, where all the pokerspeak came from two days ago, and if it was just a ruse to get Bush engaged in the meeting with the Joint Chiefs in the first place.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In Which We Panic and Review Books

Panic mode! Christmas in 13 days! Cards neither purchased, signed, nor mailed! Gifts for out-of-town family neither purchased, wrapped, nor mailed! Party this weekend! House not cleaned! Wassail not brewed! Many people coming! If I know you you've probably been invited; if I don't, and you haven't, just come with Homer.

Pant, pant.

In a perplexing development, our house is the only one on our block--and, actually, on our street for several blocks--to have put up lights. The neighborhood is usually lit up pretty well, so this year the girlfriend scrambled and got the front of the house tastefully strewn with electric festiveness the day after Thanksgiving. Ha, we said, we have finally beaten Mario across the street for once. Eat it, Mario! The days and now weeks have dragged on and no other lights have appeared. Was there a neighborhood protest of Christmas we weren't invited to? Perhaps our lights are so incredibly awesome as to make everyone else decide it is not worth trying to top them. I'm flattered, but sad.

Bibliophilia corner: Current concurrent reads are David Copperfield and an utterly bizarre Bookman's find called Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures. It caught my eye because it's big, robin's egg blue, and on the spine has a drawing of a weird little horned, pink puppy clutching a sword. And was printed in Canada! Quelle exotique! It's a fantasy, but not one of those annoying fantasies where all the characters are named Galadriel or Etherial and speak in hack faux-Elizabethan prose. In a huge plus for a grownup book, it's full of pen-and-ink drawings reminiscent of Edward Gorey, if not as dark. If you hated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you'll probably hate this. If you liked it, maybe give Rumo a shot, for the pictures if nothing else.

Never got around to reading Copperfield in school, and I am pleased to find that I like it. I liked A Tale of Two Cities when I read it last year, after loathing it as a high school sophomore, and have decided that people shouldn't be forced to read Dickens as teenagers because they'll probably end up screaming every time they hear him mentioned and won't give him a second chance as adults.

Same for Faulkner. Reading The Sound and the Fury off and on is rather not unlike wading through molasses, having to go back every three steps to retrieve your boots yet again, but it feels worth the effort. I did give Cooper a second go several months ago, managing the first fifty pages of The Spy before admitting defeat. Is that the one he wrote on a bet with his wife, that he could churn out better fiction than what she was currently reading? That must have been one fucking dull book Mrs. Cooper was saddled with at the time.

Panic mode! Again! Christmas in 13 days! Fuuuuuuuuuck!!!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pelvic Fun Friday

It's that spec-tac-ulum time of the year again.

Doctor: You're going to have to relax your butt. I want my finger back.
Boltgirl: Then perhaps you should have thought about that before you jammed it up there.

Verdict? I am savagely healthy. So healthy, as a matter of fact, that I don't have to get labs done until next year. Sorta like good homework grades getting me out of taking the final. Small consolation after the various insertions, prodding, and scraping, and I would have preferred an ice cream cone, but I'll take it. Boltgirl and needles are a whole 'nother orthostatic story.

Selective Reality

The president is not thrilled with the Iraq Study Group report. So, naturally, his instinct is to ignore it and hope it goes away.
But just days after his new defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, and his close friend Blair both said that they believe the United States and Britain are not winning the war, Bush bristled when asked if he was "still in denial about how bad things are in Iraq."

"It's bad in Iraq," Bush replied sharply, glaring at the reporter. "Does that help?"

The president added: "In all due respect, I've been saying it a lot. I understand how tough it is, and I've been telling the American people how tough it is . . . I also believe we're going to succeed. I believe we'll prevail."

Rewind. Play. Gates says we're not winning. Blair says we're not winning. Baker and Hamilton say a purely military solution will not succeed. The Marines have ceded Anbar Province as unwinnable.
I also believe we're going to succeed. I believe we'll prevail.

The middle three days of this week brought eleven, seven, and seven US KIAs. And roughly 75, 75, 75 Iraqi deaths.
I also believe we're going to succeed. I believe we'll prevail.

The girlfriend's aged ex-mother-in-law broke her leg a couple of months ago and has been in assisted living while she recuperates. The girlfriend visits every couple of days, runs small errands, waters the plants back at her house. The elderly lady's memory fizzles sporadically, and she refuses to exercise her leg as it heals or entertain any possibility of going to physical therapy. The date for the brace coming off has been the beacon in her mind, and she unwaveringly insists that on that day, she'll go back home and go back to life as usual. Despite having been in a wheelchair for twelve weeks, she fully expects to stand up and walk, drive, do her housework, go to the store, everything she used to do. Despite the memory lapses, she's going to start thinking straight again the minute she walks through the door, will remember how to turn the heat on, how to set the burglar alarm, remember to turn the stove off when dinner's done. December 18 the brace comes off and I'll go back home and I'm sure everything will get back to normal.
I also believe we're going to succeed. I believe we'll prevail.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

No. Really???

From the Iraq Study Group:
In what amounts to the most extensive independent assessment of the nearly four-year-old conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 2,800 Americans [my note: 2,902 as of this morning] and tens of thousands of Iraqis, the Iraq Study Group paints a bleak picture of a nation that Bush has repeatedly vowed to transform into a beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

'Nuff said.


Sometimes SiteMeter just makes you go, uh, seriously, what the fuck?

First, the more frequent and thoroughly understandable Google searches that bring people here:

aimee short tucson referencing my most involved reader! Who, alas, hasn't left any mongo comments lately. (note to Aimee: the BreakDown gang hit my son's school a few weeks ago and left them in tears. From laughter. You might want to lose the guy who adamantly states he's not even going to kiss a girl before marriage. Your cred with the under-15 set is hovering near that of Richard Simmons just about now)

purity ceremony/purity locket (lots of these. I'm thinking they're looking for instructions, perhaps ready-made kits. I'm hoping they stick around long enough to read and maybe think just a tad about what they're planning to do to their kids)

abby wambach dyke (woohoo!!!)

Then there are the odd but intriguing ones:
clap really loud (why? I am dying to know)

how loud is a handclap (Boltgirl on the Loose: Your Number One Champion Handclap-Based Tube on the Internets!)

su almizcle huele encantador (Boltgirl on the Loose: Your Number One Champion Otter Pop-Based Tube on the Internets!)

shit job fridge magnet (do I want one of these? does anyone?)

But then come the disturbing ones. And sometimes really disturbing ones.
food poisoning pei wei (I do not want to know. Especially if it involves the pad thai.)

witch interrogation clitoris (a clitoris that interrogates or is, itself, interrogated? If the former, okay, okay, I'll cave, just ask me one more time please)

hot lesbian bride (huh?)

find submissive wife (oh, go away. now.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Demographics of Our Personal Bubble

The monthly work meeting rolled around this morning, the one in which all the project directors and artifact analysts go around the conference room talking about what we've accomplished in the past month. It is almost as painful as going around the Thanksgiving table, but in a different way. More specifically, in an agonizingly boring way. I find different ways to amuse myself. Sometimes I doodle, sometimes I time the two most long-winded people to see if they'll suck up a quarter of the 60 minutes allotted to the entire group yet again this month. Today I did a highly accurate demographic analysis impervious to the absence of maybe five of the regular attendees.

Of the seventeen people in the room, we had five men and twelve women. One of the five guys is gay, two of the women are for sure and a third pings strongly. One person of the seventeen is a semi-observant Jew, but as far as I know none of the others currently adheres to a religious affiliation; at least five of these are strongly opposed to organized religion of any strain. Ten are married, two are in committed but non-state-sanctioned relationships. Four that I know of have been divorced. Nine have kids. Two are vegetarian. All have at least a bachelor's degree; six hold a master's, and eight have doctorates. Everyone votes Democratic, as far as I know.

Spending 40-odd hours a week in this environment, and then spending a significant chunk of my weekend time with my soccer team (5 dykes out of 15 women on the roster), at Bookman's, or at Trader Joe's (helloooooo) means that most of my daily interactions take place within a very progressive sphere. My experience with homophobia has largely been voyeuristic, reading stuff in the paper or online, wondering what it would be like to face bigots in real time, separated only by the air we both breathe. Secondhand accounts, pounding out fuming responses to comments on blogs and online newspapers... my anger is real and feels visceral enough, but still I sense the separation between my theoretical sparring with anonymous posters via pixels on the screen and a face-to-face confrontation.

In my world--despite what my apparent fixation on gay issues for this blog would suggest--I think of myself as just another person. Teh Gay is a part of my identity, but it's allowed to languish pretty far down on the list of attributes. To borrow a vile phrase from the bigots, my sexuality isn't shoved into my face by people who would define me solely on the basis of who I happen to fall in love with, who would reduce my entire being down to a specific sex act based on my wardrobe or the way I carry myself or the fact that, as a straight friend once pointed out, I don't get a lot of attention from the guys at the Ace Hardware because I walk in looking like I "know how to do projects." Got no experience with harassment in the workplace. The home loan officer didn't bat an eye when my partner and I sat down to sign the mortgage papers together. The lady at the gym approved my request for a family membership and looked at me like I was weird for doubting that same-gender heads of household qualify as a family under their policies.

So I worry, sometimes, that my bubble has built a false sense of security in my head (similar to this couple in Wisconsin). I felt it with each new state constitutional amendment that passed in November, felt it for sure when Prop 107 here in Arizona was defeated by a much closer margin than I had anticipated. The naive question keeps bumping up against the inside of my skull: who are these people? How can anyone still be so mean-spirited? I will find out, I'm sure, sooner or later. No bubble lasts forever.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Hate!

I hate soccer. Jeebus. I have turned into one of those old women I used to pity in my youth. You know, ah, how cute she's out there playing, but, seriously, she needs to get the fuck off the field. I could not run yesterday. Everything hurt. My touch was off. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

I hate not knowing what I am doing at work. Archaeology is generally fascinating. Be that as it may, every once in a while a pile of utterly uninspiring artifacts from The Land of the Prehistoric People Who Couldn't Make a Decent Looking Stone Tool to Save their Sorry Asses (yes, Phoenix, I am talking about you) lands on my desk and I start to question my career choice. Great things appear to be expected, and I am certain I cannot deliver on this occasion. I am certain I must curl up into a ball under my desk and cry.

I hate... well, that sums it for now. Here's hoping for a Tuesday Love edition tomorrow.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scene from Raging Sage

Sipping my chai this morning, waiting for G to meet me at Raging Sage, glancing up occasionally at people coming through the door, I saw a guy who looked like he was trying very hard to look mysterious and, perhaps, dangerous. Dressed all in black, long black leather coat, black boots, long straight black hair, incongruously lumpy face. He carried a pair of black leather gloves and slapped them in his open palm as he strode up to a girl--also all in black, but in a urban rather than goth way--sitting on one of the sofas, and then playfully (I guess) slapped at her with them.

He may have been trying to channel The Matrix but came off as more Hogan's Heroes than anything.

He slapped the gloves at the girl enough times that a few people paused their conversations to stare at him. Finally he sat next to her, both of them next to me, and proceeded to have a singularly one-sided conversation. I must say the topic was not what I was expecting.

"I had a really bad dream this morning. I dreamed my hair was, was, uh, you know those long plastic things?"

The girl nodded vaguely.

"You know, I mean, like, you know how fishing line is when it gets all tangled? Like, uh, ten-pound test that's been sitting in the water and it's all dirty and fish have been gooing all over it, you know how that feels in your hand?"

How this 90-pound wisp of a bleached blonde would have the slightest notion of how that feels escapes me, but she gamely played along.

"Well, I dreamed that's how my hair felt on the ends and I had to cut it. It was awful."

Luckily, G showed up at that juncture and I missed the rest of Matrix McSlappy's cognitively dissonant discourse. If Keanu fishes, I guess he might talk about his hair that way, but that early in the morning it made my brain hurt.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Maudlinalia! Where Will It End?

One of the quirks of the little town I grew up in, which I didn't realize was a quirk until I moved to the big city, was that you only needed to dial the last five digits of any local phone number for the call to go through. We only had two prefixes, 395 and 393, so it was 5- or 3- and you were off to the races. The other nifty phone function was dialing 5-0-any three digits to get the First National Bank time 'n' temperature line, although the official number was 5-0123.

I just tried it, for the first time in probably 12 years. (618)395-0123 still works, but the random last three digits thing does not. And from what I hear, you have to dial all seven numbers now locally.

Still a comfort nonetheless.

First National Bank time, 10:51. First National Bank temperature, 40.

Attack of the Winter Maudlins

I get out of the truck and shrug my jacket on, patting for my wallet before heading into the store in the thin early morning light. A man sitting in a parked truck glances at me, glances away. I consider the fact that I possibly look even less feminine this morning than usual, bundled against the sudden winter air, in my Wranglers and boots and t-shirt over a thermal undershirt, all wrapped in a canvas coat. The bra is the single concession to my gender, although it's not visible through the layers. At least my ponytail is straight this morning, the rest of my hair not overly disheveled.

Out of nowhere I wonder if my father would be disappointed, if the sight of me would make him cringe a little at the reminder of his dyke daughter, rather than spurring a little twinge of whatever that feeling is when you see your child unconsciously emulating you. Even when the child is pushing 40. Because I have seen him on mornings like this, in a jacket like this, in boots like these, watched him get out of his truck and blow into his hands and set his face against the cold like this, setting about what needed doing.

I recognize him in myself, unexpectedly, seeing without a mirror the same weight behind the eyes, the same set of the jaw, understanding with a jolt the resignation contouring his face from time to time.

That, to me, is what adulthood means. Suddenly realizing you understand the choices your parents made because you're facing the same things in your own life. Realizing, despite how insane you thought they were way back when, your parents were just people doing the best they could with what they were dealt in this world with its infinite shades of gray, so different from childhood's simple blacks and whites.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


See, I knew there was a reason I love Pagosa Springs (the town, not the Republican Texan-infested subdivisions to the east).
A new lighted wreath in the shape of a peace sign now graces the tower of the old Pagosa Springs town hall, and a band of townspeople marched Tuesday carrying peace signs and stamping a large peace sign in the snow of a town park.

Up the Springs!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The New Sign of the Beast

In this undated photo provided by Lisa Jensen, a wreath is seen in Pagosa Springs, Colo. Pagosa Springs Colorado homeowners are battling over whether a Christmas wreath that includes a peace sign is an anti-Iraq war protest or even a promotion of Satan. (AP Photo/provided by Lisa Jensen)

By now you've probably read about the kerfuffle in Pagosa Springs. Bob Kearns, the president of the Loma Linda HOA, got his shorts in a knot over the peace-sign-shaped wreath a couple hung outside their house, because, variously, some other residents of the neighborhood have kids serving in Iraq, or he thinks it might actually be a satanic symbol, or
"Somebody could put up signs that say, 'Drop bombs on Iraq.' If you let one go up, you have to let them all go up."

My mom lives outside Pagosa Springs. It was a sleepy, funky little live-and-let-live community of 5,000 until rich Texans discovered it. In the last ten years the surrounding area has mushroomed to well over 15,000 people as formerly open parklands and Ponderosa pine forests have been bladed for subdivisions. The traffic flowing out of these and backing up at the new stoplights consists in large part of Suburbans bearing Texas plates, Jesus fish, and magnetic yellow ribbons.

That's a little context, although I have no idea how long Mr. Kearns has lived in the area or if he, too, is a transplanted Texan. Regardless of his background or that of the other residents who complained about the wreath, it's a perfect microcosm of... of what? What are the words? Is "conservatism and superstitious Christianism run rampant" too strong a phrase? The mindset that sees the message Peace as an affront, that somehow twists a generic wish for world peace into a negative message specifically aimed at the Americans serving in Iraq, that utterly fails to recognize within it the wish that all those kids come home safely, seems to me completely divorced from reality. It strikes me as paranoia.

And, of course, fast on the heels of that uber-nationalistic sentiment (professing peace equals opposition to war equals opposition to America's forces) comes trip-trapping along its faithful fear-based religious companion.
"The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it," association president Bob Kearns told The Durango Herald in justifying the order. "It's also an anti-Christ sign."

Some would probably argue that "superstitious Christian" is redundant, but I use it here for that special breed that doesn't see a benevolent God everywhere and in everyone so much as they see Satan lurking in every innocuous word and symbol, waiting to pounce on the unaware and haul them straight off to the lake of fire. The Christianist and the nationalist go hand in hand. Nothing like seeing enemies under every rock and deception in every sign to forge an identity and compel obedience to the ideology. And yes, well all know where that road goes.

Anyway. I love Pagosa, the town itself, and am delighted that it's doing its level best to distance itself from the inanity of one of the outlying HOAs.

Monday morning, Pagosa Springs town-hall officials received an e-mail that asked, "What kind of little Nazis does your town grow?"

That prompted town manager Mark Garcia to change the southwestern Colorado town's website, clarifying that the town doesn't have any authority over the homeowners association and that the subdivision isn't even within the town's limits.

"The town wholly supports their peace-sign display and also wishes for peace on earth," the message concludes.

Time to call Mom to ask if she's put her own peace wreath up yet. Have you?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Kickoff

Ah. For the first time in years, I'm coming back to work after Thanksgiving not feeling overstuffed and overstressed. The first day back this year is again a respite, but this time not from an emotional hangover but simply from the nicked knuckles and sun-singed neck a blissful few days of puttering in the yard brings.

We did not, as it turns out, go around the table reciting our blessings. The original ex's new wife is wonderfully mellow and said, oh God, no, when the girlfriend mentioned she was dreading the possibility. This, of course, spurred a round of shouted things we were thankful for, like pie, and the turkey not catching on fire, and mostly not having to go around the table saying what we are thankful for, accompanied by the odd black olive sailing through the air. Who eats those at Thanksgiving, anyway? Their presence on the table was never adequately explained beyond well, they're here, so we might as well wing 'em at each other.

Back to the same old crap this morning with a cup of coffee and a sigh. The stories off the AP wire stubbornly continue to follow up reports of Sunni-Shiite mayhem with the kicker that "the violence adds to fears that the situation may deteriorate into all-out civil war." Up next: the continued association of hydrogen and oxygen may result in all-out water. But it's too soon to tell.

Your near-daily reminder that John McCain is a douchebag: The Arizona Daily Star, apparently in new fair-and-balanced mode (here meaning "relaying inaccurate statements without comment"), ran a piece in which McCain explains that we were all actually wrong about Prop 107:
"I do not believe gay marriage should be legal. I do not believe gay marriage should be legal," he repeated. "But I do believe that people ought to be able to enter into contracts, exchange powers of attorney, other ways that people have relationships can enter into."

Watch it, John, that sounds suspiciously unpunishing to the Sodomites. The base, man, have you forgotten the base?!?
Later, he came back: "I just want to point out again: I believe that gay marriage should not be legal. OK?"

Oh. Never mind.

In the interest of thorough journalism, the Star could have pointed out that measures identical to 107, passed in other states, were promptly used in Michigan (pending) and Ohio (rejected) to argue that municipalities and public schools, including universities, should be prohibited from extending domestic partner benefits to their employees. Perhaps the Star might have even noted that the deliberately vague wording of the no-civil-union measures (along the lines of "no arrangement approximating marriage shall be recognized") leaves those financial and medical power-of-attorney contracts vulnerable to challenges by blood relatives.

Maybe--maybe, in my fantasy land--someone might have asked the senator why, if he favors gay couples acquiring most of the rights of married straight couples through legally executed contracts, he prefers that they be required to draw up dozens of separate documents whose strength will be directly impacted by the quality of family law attorney they can afford to retain, rather than allowing them a simple, one-step process (shorter and cheaper than the het blood-test two-step) at the county clerk's office.

Sigh. Cup of coffee number two.

What the hell. The girlfriend put up the Christmas lights on Friday, the invitations to the annual Christmahannukwanzaakuh with a dollop of Solstice on top party are going out, and Homer's holiday craft party is on the horizon. Not even Senator McLumpy can dampen all that cheer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The List, Pre-T-Day Edition

Just prepping in case the ex's new family is one of those go-around-the-table-and-say-what-you're-thankful-for groups. This list may change by the end of the day tomorrow, and this year is peppered with caveats and melancholia.

I am thankful to have lucked into a privileged enough life that the next lungful of air, sip of water, and bite of food are a foregone conclusion. I am thankful that, as much as I howl about the injustices perpetrated against women and gay folk around the world, I have barely been brushed by it myself. In the face of so much tragedy and horrors experienced by other people on a daily basis, my personal thanks feel almost petty. But I am thankful wholeheartedly and try not to take any of it for granted.


I am thankful for my healthy, happy, amazing son... even as thousands of other mothers in America will spend tomorrow grieving for their sons and daughters killed in Iraq or shipped home minus limbs, eyesight, or complete brain function, sons and daughters coming home physically intact but emotionally forever changed by the war.

I am thankful for my parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts... even as thousands of children in Iraq will spend today, tomorrow, and the rest of their lives missing family members killed in the conflagration we've created.

I am thankful for my partner and the life we have created together... even as gay couples in 27 other states will spend tomorrow with the knowledge that the places they call home have decided to deny their relationships legal recognition and protections, likely for the duration of their lives.

I am thankful for my house in a safe neighborhood, with a roof that never leaks and a front door that leaks but can be fixed in an afternoon... even as much of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still lie in ruins, with no Ty Pennington bus on the horizon promising to make their dreams come true.

I am thankful that the midterm elections give us hope for change... even as the infighting and pandering politics rage on.

I am thankful that I may love and be loved in return.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In Which We Ponder the Decline of Our Secret Super Power and Other Mysteries

In this edition of Boltgirl Lite--throwing this up here mainly to keep from dropping off the radar of the sixteen or so people who actually read the blog--we ponder a few things that have been bugging us.

Where Has Our Secret Super Power Gotten Off To? My secret super power is that I can clap really loud. Granted, this is a bit benign in the super power department, if not flat-out lame, but it was mine and I could do it quite effectively. The Original ExTM hated sitting next to me at basketball games because my Super Punishly Loud Sonic Boomlet of a handclap hurt his ears. It's mainly useful now as a way to torture the boy when we're driving somewhere. But the clap has lost some of its oomph in recent months. Maybe the superset-based weight training and aerobic threshold interval training is slimming down my palms. Yes. That must be it.

What Is That Elusive Scent? For the past week I've been catching this whiff of something trailing me from time to time. I swear it's the deodorant I used in high school, which I can't put a name to, although I can picture the roll-on bottle (sans label) quite clearly. It's not my shampoo or current deodorant, and as those are the only scented products I apply to myself on a regular basis, I'm at a loss. I'd think maybe it's my high school self, having inadvertently walked into a wormhole, stalking me, but didn't Einstein say travel to the future is impossible because it doesn't exist? Hopefully this is not a harbinger of doom. Although, if it is, doom doesn't smell half bad.

What Holiday-based Drama Will Thanksgiving Shower Upon Us This Year? Odds are actually good for a low incidence of drama this year, given the absence of any of my parental or grandparental units at dinner. We are going to The Original ExTM's house to eat with him, his new wife, her gay brother and their mom, their cats, and our various kids, which I guess makes it a fairly standard lesbian Thanksgiving. No Tofurkey, though, which may be a strike against.

What Day Will We Finish Our Christmas Shopping? I am hoping for December 2. I would have done it all this past weekend if not for the mortgage payment and several assorted bills eating up all of the paycheck, save for grocery money.

What Are We Going to Do Once We Are too Old to Continue Refereeing for Extra Cash? Ah shite. I pondered this one yesterday afternoon while working a 6th-grade girls' game and planning how to apportion the $42 among several needy causes. It's almost enough to make a body lie down on the field and weep into her whistle.

Zzzzz... [snork] Wha....??? zzzzz.

Monday, November 20, 2006

John McCain Is a Right-Wing Bastard

My senior senator let his true colors flap flap flap in the prevailing winds yesterday morning on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopolous. He's desperate to burrow even deeper into the Religious Right's pockets. And he's an idiot.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you believe marriage should be reserved for between a man and woman. You voted for an initiative in Arizona that went beyond that and actually denied any government benefits to civil unions or domestic partnerships. Are you against civil unions for gay couples?

MCCAIN: No, I am not. But that initiative, I think, was misinterpreted. I think that initiative did allow for people to join in legal agreements such as power of attorney and others. I think that there was a difference of opinion on the interpretation of that constitutional amendment in Arizona.

Really? Wow. Here's the wording of Prop 107:


"Difference of opinion in interpretation" here means "requires attorneys, wheelbarrows full of cash, and more time than is available to you" when you're trying to convince a recalcitrant ER doc or ICU nurse to let you come to your partner's bedside before she breathes her last. Or when you're facing down an army of out-of state blood relatives who suddenly materialize after your partner's funeral to take possession of your joint property.

These are the kinds of issues straight people don't even have to think about, even when they, like McCain, are on second or third marriages after the first marriage was wrecked by their own infidelity. I wonder if that's why he was so twitchy as he stammered out this little gem:

I do not believe that marriage between — I believe in the sanctity and unique role of marriage between man and woman, but I certainly don't believe in discriminating against any American.

Maybe "believing" in the sanctity of marriage is on par with believing in the divinity of Christ: you subscribe to it but know there's no way in hell you'll be able to live up to those standards yourself, especially when forgiveness is always just a public repentance away. By the same token, a stated belief in nondiscrimination is a blanket license to actively pursue legislated discrimination anyway. Apparently, when it comes to marriage and civil rights for people different from yourself, it's the thought that counts.

Perhaps mystified, George attempted to clarify:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you against civil unions for gay couples?
MCCAIN: No, I am not. [...]
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're for civil unions?
MCCAIN: No, I am for ability of two people — I do not believe gay marriage should be legal. I do not believe gay marriage should be legal, but I do believe that people ought to be able to enter into contracts, exchange powers of attorney, other ways that people who have relationship can enter into.

I used to support this guy, back before he threw himself into the anti-gay, pro-torture, anti-Roe, pro-Intelligent Design camp. The Dems have to come up with someone who will flay this blinking, stammering, self-contradicting trainwreck of a man alive, although part of me hopes Giulani's candidacy will stay afloat long enough for at least one televised debate between the two.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yes, It's That Time Again

Sancta Maria Relpaxia, Our Lady of Perpetual Migraines

Talk to me tomorrow. Maybe.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Uterus Is Not A Clown Car

Have I mentioned the Quiverfull movement in earlier posts? Given props to the extreme evangelical right for, if nothing else, their ability to stick to a decades-long, insidous plan? I think I have. This is what I was talking about (hit the link for a long, disturbing story in The Nation):

After arguing Scripture, the Hesses point to a number of more worldly effects that a Christian embrace of Quiverfull could bring. "When at the height of the Reagan Revolution," they write, "the conservative faction in Washington was enforced [sic] with squads of new conservative congressmen, legislators often found themselves handcuffed by lack of like-minded staff. There simply weren't enough conservatives trained to serve in Washington in the lower and middle capacities." But if just 8 million American Christian couples began supplying more "arrows for the war" by having six children or more, they propose, the Christian-right ranks could rise to 550 million within a century ("assuming Christ does not return before then"). They like to ponder the spiritual victory that such numbers could bring: both houses of Congress and the majority of state governor's mansions filled by Christians; universities that embrace creationism; sinful cities reclaimed for the faithful; and the swift blows dealt to companies that offend Christian sensibilities.
Hell, why stop with swift blows to companies that offend their sensibilities? Why not just stone all of the heathens while they're at it?

As the first commenter pointed out on tristero's post over on digby, a more apropos name than "Quiverfull" would be "Clown Car." Yessirree, women as brood mares and the denigration of the infertile and those past breeding age. Handmaid's Tale references must be pushing Godwin levels these days, but I'll throw one in here anyway, particularly given the Quiverpeople's unfortunate choice of words in calling themselves a Red-Diaper movement. They mean, of course, that they're cranking out future Red State voters by the dozens, but when will they eventually start dressing their women in red dresses, as sort of an intermediate stage between the Red Diaper and the Red Hat Society?

Sometimes I wonder how kids feel when they find out they were conceived solely to provide a bone marrow transfusion to a dying sibling. Now I wonder how many of God's Own Artillery are going to feel when they realize they have been bred like orcs toward their parents' ends of world domination?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ponies and Springboks

A sad vignette.

As I passed the front desk on my way into the gym this afternoon--the quest for lean body mass continues--I caught just a snippet of a debate between two of the staff:

FitnessGirl: ...Jefferson. But Jefferson was a slaveholder.
FitnessBoy: Everyone was back then. If you can find anyone from that time who wasn't, I guarantee you they weren't well off.
FitnessGirl: Well, but... Lincoln! Lincoln didn't have slaves!

Um. Well, yes, Lincoln indeed was not a slave owner. Of course, he was also neither of Jefferson's time nor well off until he hooked up with that rich widow Todd, and we know how well that worked out for both of them. Going back to FitnessBoy's original premise about Jefferson's contemporaries, though, maybe John Adams was too obvious an answer? I so wanted to ask them where they went to high school, but the free weights demanded all of my focus.

A more uplifting vignette:

On my way in someplace else, this time Target on Saturday morning, moderately pouting about having to do my errands alone, I passed a young dad with kids in tow, a boy maybe 4 and a girl 5 or 6.

Girl: I know who I'm going to marry!
Dad: Who's that?
Girl: His name's Tar-get! And he likes ponies!

Boo yah. Girl knows where her priorities are.

Who said this?
What does equality really mean? What does it look like? Equality does not exist on a sliding scale.

Or this?
How do you give someone permission to discriminate?

If your answer is "South Africans talking about their parliament's overwhelming vote to permit marriage equality," you are correct. Meaning, of course, that the US now falls behind the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Mexico City, and now South Freaking Africa on civil rights for queer folk. What is the common thread, the heretofore overlooked attribute shared by all these places that produces the perfect medium for evolution in social thinking? Wooden shoes? No. Hockey? Don't think they play hockey in Mexico City, although the smog is probably thick enough to skate on. Trappist beer? No, although it can't hurt. Aztec pyramids? Noooo. Springboks? Shite.

Good luck with your man Target, little girl. You've about as much chance of landing him as I do getting officially down with my woman. And she doesn't even like ponies all that much.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Speechless, almost

Help me out here. I blearily opened the paper this morning and found this headline:

Religious leader's ouster raises gay question

Same-sex attraction increasingly recognized as rooted in biology

::blink. blink blink:: Okay, I was up earlier than I wanted to be and hadn't had my tea yet. ::rub rub:: Let's read the article; surely it's not saying what I think it is.
Prominent evangelical Ted Haggard's murky admission of sin following allegations of an affair with a male prostitute has reignited a volatile argument over the roots of homosexuality — a debate where religion, politics and science collide.

Let me see if I'm reading this correctly. "Reignited" implies that the argument about causality of Teh Gay had been settled, and the fact that the ignition source is Reverend Ted's statement that he thinks it's biological implies that the argument has been settled in favor of the "it's a choice" camp. This is insipid. And nuts.

Ted Haggard paid a gay prostitute for sex and meth behind his family's back for three years? All the while decrying homosexuality, saying the Bible's instructions on the matter are cut and dried? And when he finally came out, as it were, he says he's repulsed by this vile temptation, this dark side of his life he was unable to resist?

Oh, well, that settles it, then. If he says it's innate it must be innate. Thank goodness Reverend Ted brought this up; otherwise we would have had no idea that being gay isn't just a choice.


Seriously, what the fuck is this? Who is the nimrod pounding this crap out for the AP? What rock has he been living under for the past twenty years?
Scientific evidence, though far from conclusive, points strongly toward biological underpinnings of sexual attraction. Many evangelical Christians believe that people can exercise choice over how they deal with same-sex attractions, and some in the movement have begun to acknowledge at least some genetic role.

Evangelicals and science. Always an interesting mixture. Ah, but they still keep their out, still keep the "choice" card tucked into a vest pocket. To wit:
"Whatever the root cause, people make a choice," Chambers said. "Not about their feelings, but about what they do with those feelings based on convictions and not on science."

I love these people. Truly I do. They are better at having their cake and eating it too than just about anyone in America today. Now they--or at least some of them--will grudgingly admit that genetics might have something to do with orientation, but they preserve their cudgel of judgment by asserting that, well, acting on orientation is a choice anyway so it doesn't matter why you're oriented the way you are, we get to condemn you anyway and fight for legislation that will punish you in many insidious ways.

But the argument has been reignited, by God, thanks to Reverend Ted. Why, if he hadn't been outed by Mike Jones we might never have had this discussion in the public arena! We surely never would have suspected that the choice involved being who you are, rather than deciding who you want to be! We'd be condemning people for the wrong thing! Thank you, Reverend Ted!


Friday, November 10, 2006

What a Week

Whew. After the adrenaline rush of Wednesday and Thursday, it's all sweetness and light today.

Music recommendation du jour: Leila Lopez, folk fusion from Tucson. Another chick with a guitar who gets it right.

Tolerable alternative to M.I.A.: Lady Sovereign. But just barely.

Book recommendation, Old Skool: Three Soldiers, by John Dos Passos. Written after World War I, this follows three American soldiers--one from New York, one from Indiana, and one from San Francisco--into France for the fighting and the aftermath. It is a masterful study of how the machinations of war grind three mens' psyches into very different forms.

Book recommendation, current: Living with Saints, by Mary O'Connell. This collection of short stories intertwines the themes of the lives of selected saints with abortion, aging, body issues, sexuality... the prose is tight and the emotion wistful but not overdone. I hope O'Connell keeps writing. While growing up a Catholic female probably adds extra touches of familiarity with the settings and personalities described, you don't need that experience to totally get the book.

Shows pissing me off recently: Gilmore Girls and CSI. Please. I couldn't even get through ten minutes of GG this week and found other things to do last night during the non-creepy bits of CSI. I know, I know, CSI isn't supposed to be a deadly accurate reflection of reality, but I expect a reasonable level of plausibility that doesn't leave me looking for things to hurl through the screen. I think I was churning out that level of screenplay in eight grade.

Recommended late-night snack food: Thai coconut curry chicken sticks from Trader Joe's. 15 minutes in the toaster over gets you light, crispy, lemon-grassy goodness with a low calorie impact and decent amount of protein.

What the hell happened to this place since the last time I was there, oh, four years ago?: The Biz. Ay.

The Man: Keith Olbermann, always.

Hasta proxima semana.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Because Everybody's Doing It

Talking about purity balls, that is. If you missed my previous posts about these pseudo-incestuous horrorshows, you can get caught up here and here. And if you've missed the myriad links to the new video, go to Pandagon right now and view it. Particularly if you're in need of some appetite suppression.


I remember waking up on the morning after the 1994 election in a daze,
processing that the sun was still coming up and the sky was still blue,
but that the country I had known before was completely different.
Twelve years after the advent of the Contract On With America, I am in a different daze, hardly daring to believe that we actually won and have the opportunity to change things back to some semblance of decency.

It's so nice to know that most of Europe is celebrating with us, although Der Spiegel sounds the cautionary note that the Dems may be looking for greater European involvement in resolving both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other news, I stopped by Albertson's on the way to work to pick up celebratory donuts. As I was leaving I saw a big old Dodge pickup pull into the handicapped spot. The driver hopped out, popped his tailgate down, and... pulled an Albertson's shopping cart out of the truck and carefully wheeled it into the cart corral.

I'll take my signs and portents where I can find them. Perhaps it is a new day in America.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Posthash

Mostly good news from the elections, both in Arizona and nationwide. We got the House back and have a shot at the Senate. We in Arizona will get to go into any bar or restaurant we choose without having to worry about coming out smelling like an overflowing ashtray.

Prop 107, which would have amended the AZ Constitution to ban not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions and any other contractual relationship between two unmarried people intended to provide some of the protections of marriage, was very narrowly defeated. On the surface, it's great, at least until the next election when it inevitably creeps back onto the ballot. The underlying bits bother me.

2006 General Election (Unofficial Results)
Produced by the Arizona Secretary of State's Office
Protect Marriage Arizona
County Yes No Totals Polls Polls
Percent of
Apache 6,715 6,897 13,612 45 45 100.0
Cochise 17,588 13,962 31,550 64 64 100.0
Coconino 13,144 19,152 32,296 85 84 98.8
Gila 7,610 6,951 14,561 39 39 100.0
Graham 5,008 2,257 7,265 18 18 100.0
Greenlee 1,077 834 1,911 8 8 100.0
La Paz 1,833 1,703 3,536 12 12 100.0
Maricopa 301,876 316,264 618,140 1,142 1,142 100.0
Mohave 20,768 15,575 36,343 73 73 100.0
Navajo 12,120 9,584 21,704 70 70 100.0
Pima 94,502 127,356 221,858 409 409 100.0
Pinal 27,241 25,387 52,628 74 74 100.0
Santa Cruz 3,469 4,199 7,668 24 24 100.0
Yavapai 27,113 24,983 52,096 104 104 100.0
Yuma 11,167 8,726 19,893 42 42 100.0
Total 551,231 583,830 1,135,061 2,209 2,208 100.0%
Percentage 48.6 51.4

The proposition lost in only five counties. Granted, three of those are the population centers of the state, but hey, so much for that live-and-let-live independent mindset the denizens of the great western frontier so love to tout. Yeah, I'm a little bitter this morning. Add in the landslide victories for three rather nasty anti-immigrant propositions and I'm appalled to be a resident of this state.

Give people the chance to anonymously gobsmack somebody else and they'll take it. Think making English the "official language" of Arizona is going to stop illegal immigration? Think denying illegals bail, or preventing them from collecting civil damages in lawsuits will stop the tide? If you do, you're nuts. And if you know full well that none of those measures will do a damn thing to stop illegal immigration but you voted for them anyway out of vindictiveness, hey, you're a swell human being.


Seven other states merrily passed their own anti-gay marriage amendments. South Dakota Amendment C (no gay marriage, no civil unions): passed, 52%. Colorado Amendment 43 (no gay marriage): passed, 56%. For good measure, Coloradans also rejected Referendum I, which would have explicitly extended certain rights to gay couples, such as hospital visits and funeral arrangements.

That's correct. 53% of Colorado voters decided that gay couples should not have the automatic right to visit their partners in the ICU or to make funeral arrangements for them after they die. Chew on that for a moment.

Wisconsin Referendum 1 (no gay marriage, no civil unions): passed, 58%. Virigina Prop 1 (no gay marriage, no civil unions): passed, 59%. Idaho Amendment HJR 2 (no gay marriage, no civil unions): passed, 63%. South Carolina Amendment 1 (no gay marriage): passed, 78%. Tennessee Constitutional Amendment on Marriage (no gay marriage): passed, 81%.

Ultimately, it's all about power. Can't live with the knowledge that a couple of guys in Massachusetts wear rings that look an awful lot like the ones you and your wife sport? Then vote not only to keep Arizona gays from getting their own set, but, while you're at it, make sure they can't spend considerable sums of money to hire lawyers to draw up legal documents giving them the right to determine inheritance, share healthcare benefits, and, god forbid, make end-of-life medical decisions, oh yeah, as long as blood relations don't make too much of a stink or hospital personnel don't decide to ignore those documents on principle. That'll show those faggots, eh, buddy?

There's a mild debate simmering over on dKos about this. More than a few commenters argue that we pushed for too much too soon, that we should acquiesce and stroke the religious conservatives, caps in hand, mewlingly taking whatever small scraps of civil rights they can extend to us without gagging. We have to be patient, we have to wait until people are ready to let 10% of the population, tops, share the same rights and responsibilities that they do.

I call bullshit on that. Ellen Goodman said this way back in 2000:

But postwar generations have learned that you cannot wait until people, comfortable with their old narrow beliefs, become mysteriously ready for change.

It's those who step up, speak out, get out of the closet and do not quake at consequences who challenge old ideas with new realities. They change our world.

Seven more states are preparing to write bigotry into their constitutions, into those documents that were intended to preserve people's freedoms, not deny them. This is what my country thinks of people like me. This is what my country thinks of me.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more like celebrating. Today, not so much.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

All Souls, Again

First, a confession. I did not put up my altar in the library plaza on Saturday, mainly because when I got down there it looked like it would be one of maybe three or four altars. That and what I was afraid looked like childish exuberance in my design cracked my personal embarrassment threshold, so like a woo I strolled around the plaza a few times among the myriad urban hunter-gatherers and then fled.

I wasn't going to leave Tom hanging, though, so I went ahead and constructed the altar in my back yard under a rising full moon.

Tom Gerencher, English Department, St. Joseph's High School, South Bend, Indiana

I decided it looked pretty okay after all. The original ban pay toilets sign hung on his classroom wall over the left side of the chalkboard. I stared at it every day. The tiny blackboards in the foreground contain Five Qualities of Great Literature and Seven Support Techniques for Essay Writing, all burned into my brain. Later that night I went to the Icecats game, where the usual pregame bangin' eighties metal music was replaced, briefly, with Beatles tunes. I took it as a sign that he liked my altar and was happy to be honored in a cozy backyard spot under the silver moon.

Maybe next year I will recruit a contingent of friends to build a flotilla of altars so no one's is left conspicuously alone. Um, I think I'll save the stack of faux wood books for next year, if anyone would like to join me. Anyway.

The Boy and I stopped at Grill for a pre-procession dinner (spinach ravioli in herbed pink sauce for me) and then wandered over in front of Hotel Congress to wait. Surreal sight #1 of the night was watching three otherwise prim 60-ish ladies sway and groove to the fuckfuckMOTHERFUCKERFUCKTHATFUCKFUCK rap music blasting out of a Club Congress soundcheck.

Then came the procession itself, which is a half-mile long exercise in surreality. The beginning is always almost overwhelming to me, with the first giant puppets followed by a crush of black-clad people in skeleton makeup surging curb to curb, drums and incense and bells, people dancing, people waving skulls, coming and coming.

This person had a little mini-me skeleton marionette with skull maracas.

There were many wonderful giant puppets. This one spun round and round.

Plenty of political statements as well, including coffins labeled "Bill of Rights" and "Constitution." These nice people handed out leaflets reminding us to vote.

This is rapidly becoming my favorite community event. It's amazing being in a space with so many people simply letting go and putting themselves so totally into it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

John McCain Is a Pandering Sack of Shit

Just had to be said.

Rrrrrrrally Time!

Went to the Pederson rally last night here in Tucson with 8,000 of my closest friends. And Bill Clinton.

If you look closely, you can see Homer's head. His picture of me came out slightly better.

I arrived in time to catch Raul Grijalva (CD-7). He is not the most fiery speaker, but his passion speaks for itself in his legislative record and his relations with his consituents. About a year ago I sent him an email expressing my concerns about the rapid erosion of civil rights and due process under the Bush adminstration, and got a three-page (!) letter back from his office detailing his thinking about each issue I'd talked about. Even if the Mustachioed One himself had nothing to do with it, he at least has the sense to hire responsive people who know how to write.

Raul was accompanied by Gabby Giffords (leading the race to take Jim Kolbe's vacated CD-8 seat); they apparently drew time-killing duty while waiting for the Big Man to appear. They called out various candidates and officeholders they saw in the audience, asked us to hold up our cellphones, did everything short of a singalong until the motorcade arrived.

I must say it was electrifying watching SUV after SUV and cop car after cop car procede past the police tape to the back of the bandshell. They introduced Governor Janet Napolitano, but all three of the headliners decided to come onstage together--Napolitano, Jim Pederson, and Bill Clinton hisself. I had never seen Clinton in person before. It was awesome even from a hundred yards away.

Janet led off. I realized I'd never seen her either in a setting where she could sorta cut loose--when she gets revved up she sounds remarkably like Milhous--and she was pretty funny, did a good job whipping up the crowd. Which is a good thing, as it provided just enough energy for us to get through Pederson's stultifying speech and still be awake for the main attraction.

Clinton was awesome. He is the finest impromptu speaker to have held that office since JFK, and nobody on the horizon comes close. I so wish I'd taken a video of the part of his talk that matter-of-factly slammed the Republican meme that they're the only party that should be voted for. "They'll tell you Democrats will tax you into the poorhouse, and on the way to the poorhouse you'll pass a terrorist on every street corner, and with every step you'll trip over an illegal immigrant." It was a well-presented message on the need for national unity and also the need to get out the vote and swing the undecideds in our favor.

Blurry Pederson, Clinton, Napolitano, Giffords.

Get out the vote!