Friday, April 29, 2005

Harry Potter and the...

There's a new HP book coming out soon. Harry is a teenager, and is experiencing a lot of teenager experiences, like puberty and angst. I think JK Rowling may find this little list of potential titles helpful.

Harry Potter and the Vexing Voice
Harry Potter and the Dream of Doom
Harry Potter and the Morning Surprise
Harry Potter and Magic Magazine
Harry Potter and the Sticky Kleenex
Harry Potter and the New Trousers

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

(humming): It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, dum de-dum de-dum...
Ah, Christmas. I love this time of year. The wind nipping at my cheeks, catching snowflakes on my tongue (I gotta use it for something!). There's a chill in the air, a fresh layer of crunchy white snow on the ground and more coming down. It's going to be one of those really picturesque Christmases, I can tell already. Pople bustling about with wrapping and packa...

What? What did you say? It's not Christmas? You're looney - of course it's Christmas. Just look out the window, squid-for-brains. What yellow flowers? I don't see any yellow flowers, nor pink ones neiither. Wadda ya mean, Under the snow? There's nothing under that there snow but hard frozen ground. Alright, I admit I have no idea what that crabapple tree is doing with blossoms in the middle of December, but that's its business; who am I to interfere? It is too December! Someone could have changed that calendar, it's easy enough. Fine, I WILL look it up online; then you'll see.

Um, well, the people at the National Weather Service certainly seem to think it's April 24. AND, AND the Washington Post online AND the New York Times. Fine. FINE!, I said. You were right, I was wrong. But then answer me this, Hermione: WHAT THE FUCK IS IT DOING SNOWING IN THE LAST WEEK IN APRIL!?!?!?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

State of mind

piss-off (in the American sense)
get my goat
pull my chain
drive me to drinking
drive me nuts/insane/up a wall/over the edge
boiling over
seeing red

did i forget any? feel free to add to the list in the comments page.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

God's Total Quality Management Questionaire

(This is day two of me not writing my own material. Like Longfellow, however, this is worth reading. Though not necessarily for the same reasons. Longfellow, for instance, is a master of metrical meter. This, on the other hand, is just fucking hilarious.)

God would like to thank you for your belief and patronage. In order to better serve your needs, He asks that you take a few moments to answer the following question. Please keep in mind that your responses will be kept completely confidential, and that you need not disclose your name or address unless you prefer a direct response to your comments or suggestions.

1. How did you find out about God?
__ Newspaper
__ Televsion
__ Word of mouth
__ Tabloid
__ Bible
__ Torah
__ Other book
__ Divine Inspriation
__ Near death experience
__ Burning shrubbery
__ Other (specify: ____________)

2. Wich model God did you acquire?
__ Yahweh
__ Jehova
__ Allah
__ God
__ Father, Son, & Holy Ghost
__ Jesus
__ Satan
__ None of the above; I was taken in by a false god.

3. Did your God come to you undamaged, with all parts in good working order and with no obvious breakage or missing attributes?
__ Yes
__ No
If no, please describe the problems you initially encountered here:

4. What factors were relevant in your decision to acquire a god? Please check all that apply.
__ Indoctrinated by parents
__ Indoctrinated by society
__ Imaginary friend grew up
__ Wanted to meet boys/girls
__ Desperate need for certainty
__ Need to feel morally superior
__ Needed a reason to live
__ Needed focus in whom to despise
__ Hate to think for myself
__ Fear of death
__ Needed a day off from work
__ Like organ music
__ My shrubbery caught fire and told me to do it

5. Have you ever worshipped a God before? If so, which false god were you fooled by? Please check all that apply.
__ Odin
__ Zeus
__ APollo
__ Ra
__ The great Spirit
__ The golden calf
__ The Sun
__ The Moon
__ The Bomb
__ Cthulhu
__ The Almighty Dollar
__ Left Wing Liberalism
__ The Great Pumpkin
__ Bill Clinton
__ Zinedine Zidane
__ A burning cabbage
__ Other: _________

6. Are you currently using any other source of inspiration in addition to God? Please check all that apply.
__ Tarot
__ Astrology
__ Fortune cookies
__ Self-help books
__ Mantras
__ Crystals
__ Pyramids
__ Crystal pyramids
__ Insurance policies
__ Barney T.B.P.D.
__ Barney Fife
__ Lottery
__ Television
__ Ann Landers
__ Dianetics
__ Playboy and/or Playgirl
__ Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll
__ Bill Clinton
__ ESP
__ Jimmy Swaggart
__ Human Sacrifice
__ Boston Red Sox
__ Monty Python
__ Other: ___________
__ None

7. God employs a limited degree of Divine Intervention to preserve the balanced level of felt presence and blind faith. Which would you prefer (mark only one)?
__ More Divine Intervention
__ Less Divine Intervention
__ Current level of Divine Intervention is just right
__ Don't know... what's Divine Intervention?

8. God also attempts to maintain a balanced level of disasters and miracles. Please rate on a scale of 1 - 5 his handling of the following (1= unsatisfactory, 5= excellent).
__ floods
__ famine
__ earthquake
__ war
__ pestilence
__ plague
__ America Online
__ 2004 presidential election
__ spontaneous remissions
__ stars hovering over rural villages
__ crying statues
__ water changing to wine
__ walking on water (other than the Hudson River)
__ talking, flaming shrubbery
__ VCRs that set their own clocks
__ Saddam Husein still alive
__ Red Sox winning the world series
__ 2004 presidential election

9. Do you have any additional comments or suggestions for improving the quality of God's services? (Attach an additional sheet if necessary.)

Thank you!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Today is April 18th.

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,I
n their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

How do you spell a fart?

My parents were, by and large, pretty good parents. They gave me a lot of freedom ( provided I never broke the rules), read me lots of bedtime stories, helped me with my homework, and made me eat my veggies and drink all my milk. That was the problem -- they made me drink all my milk. I wasn't allowed to leave the table until the glass was empty, and at lunch in school it was either drink milk or go thirsty (neither pop nor water was available). We did have variety, though. Whole or 2%.

I was teased mercilessly at school, teased for everything. Teased because I was tall, fat, bad at running, good at drawing, lousy at kickball, great at pushing people on the swings, teachers' pet, the daughter of a politician, the daughter of a nobody, the neice of a nun, the sister of a nerd, where I parted my hair (I'm not joking about that), what clothes I wore (we had uniforms, so that took some creativity), the fullness of my lips, and every time I farted. That last one happened a lot. I remember every one of my grade school teachers at some point having to give a lecture to the class on how everybody farts so there's no point in making fun, 'cause we all do it every one of us.

I assumed that this was true. I always believed my teachers (except when it came to religion class), so I dismissed my flatulence as just another contrived excuse to riducle me like all the others. (Andre' Wajtusek called me "snowblower lips" in kindergarten. It took me years to get over that one. Now I wear the title with pride, and Andre' Wajtusek will never have the joy of knowing why.) I had no idea I really did fart more than anyone else on earth.

There's a reason my dad's nickname for me was once Fartblossom. In retrospect, it's kinda cute. At the time, well, mere words really can't do justice to the depth of my mortification. (That I can reaveal this at all is a powerful testimony to what a well-adjusted adult I've become. *snort*) Turns out, I was lactose intolerant. I can't digest dairy products. So as a child when I had a bowl of cereal and milk for breakfast, I spend the morning farting. Then I'd eat a cheese sandwich and drink a carton of milk for lunch. And spend the afternoon farting. Then my parents, ah, my parents. They made me drink all my milk at dinner, and I'd spend the evening farting. Bath, bedtime story, nighty-night, wash rinse repeat every day for 12 years. No wonder the kids made fun of me. And believe you me, you can't conceal a thing sitting on a flat wooden chair with metal legs. Those chairs were sounding boards for tushie trumpets. It was like spending my entire youth sitting an fucking amplifier!

Here's the kicker: my parents knew.

When I was an infant, I cried constantly. The doctors declared it collic. I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. When I wasn't crying I was usually either screaming or wailing. (It's not a coincidence that the folks didn't have any more kids after me.) The doctors said it would clear up. When I was 6 months old it hadn't cleared up and neither I nor my parents slept more than 2 hours at a stretch that entire duration. I had never slept through the night. My mom, who was prone to postpartum depression anyway, was becoming suicidal. She went to every doctor in town, and they all said the same thing: something she was eating and passing to me through her breast milk was upsetting my stomach. But they all told her a different something. At first she gave up chocolate, caffeine, and spicey food. Then beef. Then cabbage and broccoli. After 2 months she was down to white rice, boiled chicken, and milk. Lots and lots of milk. Still I cried. As a last resort she went to La Leche League, an organization dedicated to promoting breastfeeding and helping mothers with difficulty nursing. "Good god!" they declared. "Your problem is simple. Those idiot doctors don't know what they're doing. How many babies have they nursed (all the doctors were men)? The kid's lactose intolerant. You can eat whatever you want. Just stop drinking all that milk!" That night, the crying stopped. My poor, exhausted, emotionally drained mother was convinced I had died in my crib. She wouldn't come into my room. She called my father home from work to check on me in the crib, so sure she was that I was another victim of SIDS. I'm writing this, so I guess I'm not dead.

So they knew I was lactose intolerant, they made me drink tons of milk as a child, and then they teased me for farting a lot! I still eat tons of dairy, but now I control the problem (which is really rather common) by popping a few tablets of lactase enzyme before I hit the ice cream. This helps me avoid embarassing situations like the one I had my freshman year of college.

I had just met this really cute (well, I thought so), smart (he thought so), tall, clarinet-playing dork. We were really hitting it off. I thought he was the perfect nerd. Neither of us had ever had a boy/girlfriend. Neither of us had ever kissed. (You'll note that I was 18 years old and in college and I was still anticipating my first kiss. I don't know what's sadder, that, or the fact that I havn't been kissed since I broke up with Kevin, and that was 7 years ago.) We were walking after dinner one evening. It was a lovely, late summer evening with cicadas and lightening bugs and crickets and one or two stars in the sky. We sat on a stone wall in the arboretum and watched the sun set over the pond. (I'll give you an image: The Little Mermaid "Kiss the Girl" musical number. Yep, that was that night.) We were sitting holding hands, gazing into each other's eyes, leaning in slowly for the big moment, and...


I felt it coming and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Thank god we were outside and there was a breeze, so he couldn't smell it, too. Can I ruin a moment, or what? In Kevin's defense (he was basically a self-absorbed prick, but I'll grant him this much) he was really good about it. He gave me a dismissive, patronizing lecture about how everyone farts which bore a striking resemblance to my primary school teachers' lectures, and then we went back to his room and made out.

As I said earlier, my parents were basically good parents, but they've got a few things to answer for. I'm back being single again. I've got a few redeeming qualities (long legs, handy with a paintbrush) and I'm virutally flatulence free. So if you're looking for a woman whose most importants assets are tall, all tatoos spelled correctly, and doesn't fart too much, I'm your gal.

Snowblower Lips

p.s. Will somebody please tell me what the fuck is wrong with the font size function. It won't go back to normal! Gah!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The horror.

I read this article in my local paper last week, and I had my usual reaction to local news articles: exasperation at the depth of human stupidity and naivete. This is the story of a little girl in a nearby town who opened the package of a brand new Barbie doll, and found a plastic card with the photograph of a young, Chinese female and some characters of Chinese writing. Translators at the Unviversity of Michigan discovered that the card is a factory ID card for a young female working the night shift. The number 12 appears on the card, and it is speculated that the female in the photograph is 12 years old.

Now, assuming you are a reasonably intelligent, thinking person, would your reaction upon finding this item in box of a Barbie you just purchased for your daughter be "maybe the doll belongs to this girl"? No, of course it wouldn't! Factory workers don't own the things in the factory, dumbass. If you were a rational, thinking person your reaction would be "Holy Shit! I just bought my kid a toy manufactured by child labor! Good god, I'm never again buying another Matel product!"

The article pondered whether the card dropped in accidently, which is perfectly plausible, or whether it had been put there deliberately "for reasons known only to [the girl]." Apparently it never occured to the author of the article that the reason might be a hope that the card might have been put there to send the message "Help! I'm 12 years old and I'm working a night-shift in a toy factory where I constantly inhale toxic fumes from the plastic all night long and I'm barely paid enough to feed myself! Please, will some rich American (which is redundant, because if you're a 12-year-old girl in China employed in what is effectively slave labor than all Americans are pretty much rich by comparison) do something to save me?!?" No, it never occured to anyone that if the card was put there deliberately that it may well have been done to send a message.

Rather than denounce the inhumanity of child labor (which as I stated earlier is effectively slave labor, where children work in dangerous and inhuman condidtions for paltry compensation which will keep them in a dire financial postition so they are never able to move on), the article chose to glorify factory women who were renouned for their Barbie-like beauty. My god, you couldn't do a better gloss job with a tub of turtle wax and a can of shellack.

I am disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to learn that merchandise on American store shelves is the product of child labor. I am mortified that no one seems to give a shit, particularly the media, whose moral obligation it is to bring such issues to the attention of the general public.

Friday, April 15, 2005

If you think of a good title for this one, let me know

The woman with the long, black hair and pleasant, open face said, "I wish I could choose my daughters-in-law, because I would choose you."

That was just 20 minutes after we began chatting while waiting in line at the Community College rummage sale. I was using an old, wheelie, office chair as a shopping cart, pushing it along in front of me so I wouldn't have to carry the enormous box of books I was about to purchase. Such a bargain, too. Most of the books were rubbish, but I had unearthed (and believe me, I literally had to dig my way to the bottom of a 9-foot pile of old books to find these - it was like an acheological expedition) a 13-volume Cambridge Modern History. The set was the third printing (1907) of the first edition (1904) , and included an index volume and a full-color atlas volume. Not one page of the entire set was dog-earred, and I couldn't find any pencil or pen marks. Sadly, two of the volumes (including the atlas) have taped spines, but otherwise show no signs of use whatsoever. Clearly students at the Community College have never had much interest in history. The price for this marvelous collection? $1. One friggin' dollar! And they're just 2 years away from being antiques! Such a bargain.

So there we were, standing in line in a dingy, dusty building, surrounded by broken chairs and stacks of used computer monitors. She's a nurses' aid at the local hospital who had just come off a 12-hour night shift. I asked her what she thought of the new shift arrangement (which has been causing rather a lot of controversy) and she was grateful for my sympathy. We talked about the problems with the healthcare system in general (more accurately, the lack thereof) and she seemed touched by my concern not just for the patients, but also for the care providers. She asked about me and I told her about England and my experiences. She asked if I was single (yup), and if I was looking for anyone (not really).

"You should go out with my son," she said. "He's tall and a really nice boy. He lives with me (his dad left us), and he's doing his second Associates degree at the Community College. He's a Christian, too, if that sort of thing is important to you. And he just quit smoking." That's what she said. Here's what I heard: "That hairy ape over there is my son. He's an unambitious mama's boy who can't support himself and has no idea what he's doing with his life. He's also a mindless Jesus-krispy who would rather believe a 2000-year-old piece of literature than think for himself. And he just quit smoking."

I politely explained that I wasn't looking for a relationship at the present, because I am returning to England in the fall and my time in (insert name of cultureless dung-hole town here) is limited, but thanks all the same. The dark-haired nurse, however, was not to be deterred. "I wish I could choose my daughters-in-law, because I would choose you."

Thank god I'm fit. My atletic prowess permits me to run at great speed from pushy future mothers-in-law whilst carrying very heavy boxes of old books.

(Frustrating aside: I had actually been chatting up a fit nerd in a lab coat and frapuchino glasses who was buying some used microscopes when this whole scene began. Once the nurse began talking I was unable to escape her converstational clutches, and the fit, bargain-hunting scientist vanished. Crap.)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Alert the media

Phone the press, mark the calendar in red. This is big, it's huge, it's unprecidented. For the first time in my verbose life, I have nothing to say.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Something cheerful

I've been writing a post on the crappy coverage CNN has been giving the issue of global warming lately, but I've been doing so much bitching (honestly, what do you expect from someone who calls herself "Chaucer's BITCH?") that I thought it would make for a refreshing change of pace if I wrote something pleasant. The glorious weather, the basking beagle, and the royal wedding gave me three great excuses.

I spent last night and this evening watching biographies of Prince Charles and Camilla and hours of wedding coverage, which is rather impressive since we didn't get to see the actual wedding, and the blessing only took 30 minutes. So what did I spend (translation: waste) all that time viewing? Talking heads, mostly. But is was fun. WE (Women's Entertainment, who broadcast the events here in the States) even had Trinny and Susanna on commentating on what people were wearing. Let me tell you, they are considerably more observant and articulate than Joan and Melissa Rivers (course, that's not saying much, is it?).

Sadly, there were a few people in the crowd boo-ing the happy couple. That's just poor, people. For christ sake, Chaz and Cami have been in love for thirty years! This day was long in coming; far too long in my mind. I feel rather sorry for Chaz that he was pressured into marrying a woman he never loved (he admitted as much on the steps of the church at his first wedding, standing right next to his bedazzled child-bride). I feel sorry that so many people had to suffer. Two unhappy marraiges, cheating spouses left right and centre, kids caught in the middle and in the spotlight. I hope that these two people, who have been through so much and who have relied on each other's friendship and understanding the whole of their adult lives, can finally breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy their lives together as a couple. Good lord for alliance; I wish you both much happiness.

It's rare in this world to find someone who truly completes you. A good many of us never do. It is the greatest gift the world has to offer when we find the perfect companion, and the greatest torture to be prevented from loving that person. This fundamental truth is why I am totally in support of gay marraige, it's why my own life sucks, and it's why no one should harbor any ill feelings about Chaz's marraige. Have fun kids, enjoy the honeymoon, fuck like rabbits, and send me a postcard.

(One final thought. We all agree that Camilla isn't as pretty or charismatic as Di was, but I have to say she looked absolutely stunning today. The silver gown with the gold emblishments was appropriate for her age, appropriate for a second marraige, flattering, tasteful, striking, and ROYAL. You totally looked the part today, honey. Nicely done.)

Dad's croci. Crocuses? Croci? whatever. Posted by Hello

Evindence that the Easter Beagle has been here: the egg tree, Cornus ovum. Posted by Hello

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown! Posted by Hello

Seriously, is that not the cutest dog on the planet? I found her sitting in the sun amongst the pansies the other day, and I couldn't pass up the photo op.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

close encounters

For thirteen years the venerable beagle has been hunting wabbits like Elmer Fud: unsuccessfully. In thirteen years, however, this has not diminished her determination. Today her persistance was rewarded. We were strolling down a fairly isolated walking path through the cool fog when suddenly, there it was. A little brown cottontail shot across the path just a few feet before us. Daisy looked up, saw it, and... froze. Damnit dog, what do you think you are? A pointer? Ah, whatever. She wouldn't know what to do with it if she caught it. You see for her the joy of the thing isn't in the kill, it's in the chase. She just wants to romp through the brush and smell things, mainly wabbits. Today was special because it was the first time in her entire life she's actually seen a wabbit. And let me tell you, the expression on her face was priceless. She looked for all the world like Sir Grummore Grummorsen at the moment he first gazed upon the Questing Beast; awed, triumphant, humbled (paradoxically) and slightly confused. Bless. Her tenacity having been paid off and her purpose in life renewed, we continued on our wagging way. (Later on we even got to smell a toad! Another big first.) Tis a great boon in life to be absolutely sure of one's purpose. Few humans ever achieve it. Oh, to be a beagle in the tall grass and smell wabbits.

First cut

It seems i've made it through the first round of cuts at Leeds. They just emailed me with a request that i fill out a bunch of additional forms and send them a writing sample. I guess they like me so far... Fingers crossed, all.

Monday, April 04, 2005

I'm a sinner

I've committed a serious sin against the internet. I forgot the prime directive of "If you don't have anything interesting or original to contribute, keep your goddman piehole shut." The previous entry was not neither interesting nor original. It did not say anything that hasn't been said a million times before, and it didn't even succeed in saying the same old shit in a new and creative way. It was crap. As is the following entry (see, I actually don't believe in the concept of sin. I put this crap out there, and you are perfectly capable of ignoring it. If you waste your life reading it, it's your own fucking fault), but at least this one's a schoche more upbeat.

I spent a really nice weekend with Marley. Since he's getting hitched in a year, there won't be many more opportunities to spend with him and him alone before he's legally half a two-being unit. We hung out in a pretty good imitation of an Irish pub and listened to some cracking good Irish rock (well, the band claimed it was Irish rock. I wouldn't know Irish rock from Irish marble, but it sounded good) and drank some Guinness (possibly a significant part of why the band sounded good). We went to a car show, got smug about my Prius, hissed at the guys admiring the new H2 (if you want a hummer, pay for a hummer - don't go buying a godawful over-priced car), and had Indian food for dinner. (There isn't a single Indian resturaunt in 30 miles of where I live, and I've had a craving for lamb tikka massala for months.) We watched Sideways (good flick about male self-image. Bit of a cross between Thelma and Louise and the Full Monty. go watch it.) We hung out in microbreweries and had really good fucking stout (spanks Guinness, i shit you not) and a really good fucking time. It was great to have my old brother back. I'm rather sick of this guy who coos and pets his frail fiance and her frail ego. He's boisterous and witty and easy-going, and generally a lot of fun. I'm afraid that guy is going to die forever next April and we'll never get him back. Carpe diem, i s'pose.

The pope's finally dead. (how's that for total lack of transition? (unless you consider 2 words in Latin a sufficient seguay to the death of the pontif) ) Can't say I'm terribly broken up about it. Mostly I'm terrified of whoever's coming next. I thought JPII was way too conservative, but I have a sinking feeling the next guy will be even worse. John XXIII. Now THERE was a pope. Too bad they poisoned him. I don't go to church anymore, being genrally fed-up with Catholicism, so I'm feeling rather emotionally detached from all this, but I do follow the proceedings with historical interest. I've never lived through the death of a pope, and I've only heard stories about how the college elects the next one, so this is all rather new for me. It's all terribly in-bred. The pope picks the cardinals and the cardinals pick the pope. Imagine if the president picked the supreme court and the supreme court picked the president. (well, we don't really have to imagine that, do we?) Talk about a circle-jerk. No wonder it's impossible to get any reforms through. I figure the next pope will be crazy conservative (JPII garunteed that when he chaged the rules for electing the next pope) and will cause a schism. I think a bunch of Americans will separate from the church in the next pope's reign.

It used to be that a 2/3 majority was needed in the college of cardinals to choose a new pope. JPII changed the rule. Now, if after 40 ballots (they cast 3 ballots a day) a 2/3 majority has not been reached, a simple majority will be sufficient. That gives a stubborn faction of the cardinals a tremendous amout of power. If there is a group of them that wants a particular candidate, and they have a simple majority, all they have to do is hold out for 14 days and they win. There's no longer any incentive to have honest debate or compromise. And since JPII's been in power for so long, he's pretty well stacked the college, so it's basically guarenteed that whoever he chose for his successor will get in. The question is, who is it? The college must being casting ballots between 15 and 20 days after the death of the pope (a centuries-old rule that made it easy for italians to control the church. Think about it: 200 years ago it would have taken weeks for the news of the popes death to reach across Europe. By the time the cardinals heard and made it to Rome, the new pope had been selected). Karol died on Saturday. This means that they must begin casting ballots between the 17th and 23rd of April. If they wait til the latest possible date to begin (which they won't), 14 days after that is 7th of May. There will be a new pope by May 7 at the absolute latest. I predict it will be sooner. I also predict the new pope will have strong ties to a 3rd world nation, and will be extremely conservative. I think that any and all chances we may have had of getting a pope who will at least entertain the possibility of female clergy, married clergy, and changing the church's stance on birth control has gone completely out the window. (Did you know that John XXIII was about to sign a writ authorizing Catholics to use condoms to prevent pregnancy when he died suddenly? There's a bit of trivia for you.)