Speaking of Breasts

It got me thinking of going bra shopping with the Shill when we were in college. Now, neither the Shill nor I are what you’d call flat chested. And so buying bras is not very much fun. If you want a bra that fits right, you have to get something that looks like your grandma would wear it and if you want something cute, you have to just accept that it’s going to be uncomfortable.

For instance, I used to have the cutest bra once, lacy and frilly and white, and one day I was standing in front of the big windows at work and I heard this “pow” and felt this terrible pain in my rib cage right under my left tit and I thought, “holy shit, I’ve been shot! How fucking weird is that?” and I reached under my shirt to feel for a bullet hole only to discover that I was not bleeding as much as someone who’s been shot ought to.

Instead, it was just a little trickle of blood brought on by a snapped underwire jutting into my skin.

So, when we were in college, Victoria’s Secret was really pushing the Wonder Bra and the Shill and I decided that we would go see what the fuss was about. So, we went into the store and each grabbed a bra in our size and headed off to the dressing room.

Now, the point of the Wonder Bra is to take everything you’ve got and hoist it up where everyone can appreciate it (or use it as a place to rest their appetizer tray, depending on your breastly needs). But if you have a lot to hoist, the cups aren’t designed deep enough to give you room to come both up and out.

No, everything just moves up. Fine for folks who aren’t moving that much up. But if you are…

Well, I put it on, looked in the mirror and was immediately reminded of a chicken. My boobs appeared to be coming out of my collar bone and making a soft, shallow couple of hills down the front of my chest. I started to snicker.

And then I heard snickering from the dressing room next to me. And the Shill and I opened our dressing room doors, looked across at each other and started guffawing.

And you know what? They asked us to leave!

Apparently, they don’t like it when you laugh at the miracles rendered by the Wonder Bra.

The Joy of Fretting

I love to fret. God knows why, because it makes me miserable, but I spend a great deal of time doing it, so I must love it.

Anyway, I’ve got a large all-consuming fret going on right now in anticipation of my weekend, full of new things.

How do you recognize when I’m fretting?

  1. I’m distracted.
  2. I’m burping regularly.
  3. I’m getting some kind of rash on my face (so, egad, ignore my last post, folks. Stare at my boobs! Don’t stare at the rash!).
  4. I’m wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood.
  5. I’m babbling.

Dear Sir:

When you are sitting in a chair and I am standing and you talk so softly that I have to bend over to hear what you’re saying, I know that you’re just being a jackass so that you can look down my shirt. I’ve talked to you many times before and I know you aren’t a quiet person.

I really, really don’t appreciate that and if you weren’t a big wig and I weren’t a lowly person and if your wife weren’t the sweetest person in the room, I’d make a big, embarrassing scene. But, I’m sure you know that and that’s why you did it to me and not, say, my boss.

If I want you to see my tits, I will take my shirt off in front of you or, more likely, I will bend down seductively over the seven layer bars and twist my torso ever so slightly so that I’m sure you get a good view of that cute freckle on the right one as you look up from the carrots.

But rest assured, that day, for you, dear jackass, will never come.

The Butcher’s Cult

Well, one vodka and cranberry on a hot evening and I become all forgetful, and hence, I forgot to tell you guys the funniest thing that happened yesterday.

Some cult tried (or is still trying) to recruit the Butcher!

How hilarious is that? I mean, he doesn’t even have any earthly goods to give up. He’ll have to give up mine or borrow some from the neighbors.

And, and, they want him to read through this book which will show him the path to enlightenment, and so you know I was flipping through that fucker while I was taking a shit this morning.

It appears to be the ramblings of some acid-head yoga-rific quasi-Buddhist, who wants the world to know such things as “The caterpillar does not un-caterpillar. It just is the butterfly in its heart space.”

Also, apparently, I must be prepared for a journey into outer space. I will die when I reach the Allen Belt, but if I propel myself hard enough, some core of me will survive. Yep. Their cult is going to send me into outer space on a suicide mission.

See, this is why so many religions don’t write stuff down. That way when someone says, “Well, Odin says you should always have your sword with you when you’re working in the field” and someone else says “How am I supposed to carry a big heavy sword and plow my field? Can I leave my sword over by the tree and just run to it if I need it?” and the first person says, “Shit, I don’t know. I thought it was symbolic. Let’s ask Sven.” and Sven is like “Dudes, I’m trying to get laid here, can you fuck off?”

And the religions that do write stuff down attribute all the nonsense to their god(s) or some long dead religious leader. That way when someone says “Thou shall not take Lord’s name in vain” and someone else asks “Does that mean I can say ‘God damn it’ if I really do want God to damn it?” the first person can say “It says what it says, jackass, I don’t make the rules.”

But when it’s just some old hippy who used to be named Phil and who is now Swami Rama Lama Ding Dong, it’s just a lot harder to excuse the confusion as a matter of sloppy translation.

Weird Soap

The Butcher has bought this weird new Irish Spring soap that has little rough bits in it, like Lava Soap, but softer.

It foams up so nicely.

But it smells so manly that I feel a little self-conscious. Tonight the Professor and I were at a bigwig shindig and I was afraid I smelled like a linebacker.

A clean linebacker, but a linebacker nevertheless.

Something Really Gross

I had something in my eye. I went to the bathroom to dig it out. I saw a piece of fuzz on my eyelid. I pulled at it and it was attached to a big, like six inch long, hair that was coiled around my eyeball!

It was so nasty, but at least it’s gone now.

The Kindly Satanist

One summer I worked at a packaging plant in Moline and our little corner of one of the warehouses was devoted to packaging Caterpillar parts–from tiny nuts by the hundreds to great big breakdrums.

As far as jobs go, it sucked, as you can imagine. But since I was just there for the summer, the pay was good and when we were working 60 hour weeks, the time and a half was very, very nice.

The place had three groups of people working there. The students, like me, who were just looking for some quick cash. We made the most, because we had no benefits. Then there were folks who’d been working there for years. One woman, who made us call her Granny, had emerged from her bedroom one late evening just in time to see her husband’s brains escape out the back of his head onto the wall. He had waited until one of the planes that shook their house was overhead, so that she wouldn’t be disturbed by the noise from the gun. After work, she took her paychecks down to the river and threw them away at the casinos.

There were Mexicans who were there illegally, who were making even less than the fulltimers. In the Quad Cities (ADM, supermarket to the world, I’m looking at you) there were a lot of industries that would hire illegal workers and then, when the workers started to pick up English or when the unions would finally get someone in there who was bilingual, the industries would throw up their hands in mock surprise at all the undocumented workers they’d “accidentally” employed and make a big show on the news about having them shipped back to Mexico.

One of the Mexican women I worked with told me that it wasn’t that big a deal, that a lot of families had money socked away to get folks back up here in such circumstances. Another contended that the planes never actually left Illinois and after the cameras left, everyone was let off the plane and told to look for work someplace else. Obviously, I don’t know if either of those things were true, and if they were, I don’t know if they still are.

But my favorite person working there was a guy I’ll call the Kindly Satanist. He was about my age at the time, twenty, and was a kind of scrawny, gangly dude, with straight, stringy black hair parted severely down the middle, and he had these beautiful long nails that were always painted black or purple or silver, which would slow him down considerably when he had to separate a big box of washers down into 300 small boxes of washers, because that’s not a job that keeps your nails in one piece.

And he had all these Mexican death magazines–I’m sure they must have a name, but I don’t know it–which were filled with pictures of murder victims and suicides and car accidents and other grisly things you hoped he wouldn’t be looking at when you were eating lunch.

And, of course, he’d talk all the time about his dark lord, Satan.

Now, if you know anything about Satanists, you know that they fall into a few types and that very few of those types actually worship Satan. Most of them owe at least a little to Alistair Crowley, who said, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” and are less concerned with whether there’s a Satan and more concerned about challenging religious and social conventions.

But folks who actually worship Satan, and not just as part of their rock & roll theatrics? Those are rarer than hen’s teeth. But that was this dude.

So, he was very excited to be paired up with the minister’s daughter, and then disappointed when I wasn’t shocked or appalled or outraged by him.

And so, after a few weeks of trying and failing to cause me to faint from shock, he confessed to me that his greatest disappointment in life was that he was a terrible Satanist. He wanted to be outrageously evil, but it was a lot of work and he just couldn’t keep up with it all and work at this place and go to college.

He also regularly drove Granny home.

Okay, Now Really…

Fuck the Butcher. He’s in the shower right now because “Sam” has an extra ticket to Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

I will be sitting on my ass in front of the TV seething with jealousy and praying for rain.

Seriously, I’m about to die of envy.

The Liberal Media is Me!

Brittney has asked me to guest blog over at Nashville is Talking this weekend. Of course, I said, “hell yes.”

It won’t be that big a deal for y’all because I check sitemeter and I know no one comes here on the weekends anyway.

But for Nashville, I’m sure it will be very traumatic.

I’m trying to make sure I have all my man-hating, witch-crafty, communist, feminist, liberal media bullshit in order. I’ve already scheduled a frivolous abortion for tomorrow afternoon and two on Friday. I’m also working on forging some documents that will ‘prove’ that George Bush is actually a very intelligent kumquat put into a position of power by a secretive group of jugglers led by Karl Rove.

I’m going to ask that any of my middle Tennessee readers who are planning on doing something daring or illegal hold off until this weekend, so that I have something to write about. Anyone who tips me off to their own outrageous antics ahead of time will have one owed to them by me.

Otherwise, it’ll be the same old same old over here and more Nashville and news oriented nonsense over there.

Ancestor Worship

I actually was laying some groundwork in my post yesterday for something that’s been nagging at me for a long time, namely how can I venerate my ancestors when clearly, many of my ancestors, as well as my living family, are pretty shitty?

None of you have asked me this question, but it’s one I often ask myself.


Yesterday I saw something that I briefly thought was the most brilliant comment on the whole Confederate flag problem: a swastika surrounded by the infamous “Heritage, Not Hate” slogan.

Dwell with me for a moment in the possibility that this is snarky (it’s not, but we’ll get to that in a second). Through a slight exaggeration, it draws into sharp focus the ridiculousness of asking people to overlook recent history in order to let you continue to venerate a symbol you find historically meaningful. And, as far as symbols go, the swastika has thousands of years of positive meaning to cultures across the globe, whereas the Confederate battle flag obviously didn’t even exist until there was, briefly, a Confederacy to fight under it.

But that’s the thing, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim a symbol has historic meaning–thus its importance to you–at the same time you try to insist that you can redefine it to mean something that isn’t negative.

Either things have their whole histories or they don’t have any history at all. In the U.S., we place strong emphasis on the myth of the individual, the rugged man (usually) with no ties to anyone or anything who goes around conquering the West or space or wherever. So, we tend not to believe that things have much of a history at all and we have acted as if stripping people and things of their history is just one more necessary act for the expansion of the country.

But things are slowly changing, I think, as one, among many, positive consequences of the rise of multiculturalism. The past, good and bad, and our complicated relationship to it, is something we can now start to come to terms with.

But we can only do that if we acknowledge whole histories. Wanting to only keep the good stuff, though a perfectly human response, doesn’t put us in right relation with the past.

The past is no better than the present. People who lived in the past did not have it easier than we do. They were not better than us. And, most importantly, the things they did continue to affect us.

Trying to reclaim the Confederate battle flag or the swastika is a grave insult to the past in that such an attempt denies the agency and experiences of those past people. You may say that those people who acted evilly under the banners of those symbols did so out of ignorance of what those symbols stood for, to which I say, exactly, and that’s a shame, but exactly. Those actions are now intimately tied to those symbols.

To oversimplify it for the sake of clarity, those symbols have an almost insurmountable amount of bad luck tied to them (using luck to mean a mixture of fortune and obligations), which you cannot insist folks not recognize.


One of the things the Professor and I keep coming back to over and over is the concept of Whiteness. It’s been important for a lot of scholars to argue that there is no such thing as a positive concept of whiteness, because the concept is so loaded with racist, sexist, and classist assumptions.

And I don’t blame people for being tired and frustrated when talking about whiteness, because so much of it is about unacknowledged privilege.

But the truth is that white people do conceive of themselves as white and that, right now, if the academy isn’t actively defining whiteness, the white power movement sure as hell is. Get this straight, my scholarly friends, just because you aren’t doing something, doesn’t mean it isn’t being done. Whiteness is right now being defined by the racist fucktards.

Right now, there is an active and dynamic conversation being held about what it means to be white and, because we’re all busy being unsure and uncertain about how to talk about it, the sure and certain voice of the racists is the one being heard.


I think that sureness and certainty are dangerous. Folks who are sure and certain never question what they’re doing. They don’t check their assumptions against the lessons of the past or their present circumstances.

And that’s what I want from my family–a large group of people, living and dead, with similar luck and obligations to me, against whose experiences I can check myself. It doesn’t mean that I think they always made the right choices. In fact, it would be little use to me if they had.

“Venerate,”then, is the wrong word. No one, living or dead, is better than me and I, in return, am not intrinsically more valuable than anyone else. I do the best I can with the privileges, luck, and obligations I have, and am mindful of my own worth.

I try not to dishonor my ancestors by forgetting that they are also human, prone to good and evil the same as anyone else. I don’t dishonor them by linking their value to their race(s) instead of their actions, as if the right things they did were due to a fluke of genetics and not tough choices.

But I also don’t venerate them. I adore the family members I adore, try to understand the ones I don’t, and am casually mindful of the ones I don’t know.

I am, however, as certain of them as I can be in a family full of story tellers (I don’t have any reason to believe that anyone has been made up out of whole cloth, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn it). And as much as I value uncertainty, it’s nice to have something to count on.

Can Merchandising Be Far Behind?

After finding this lying around on the Butcher’s friend’s website, I realized that I’m coming ever closer to a moment when I’m wandering through a flea market in California and digging around the t-shirts that are three for ten dollars, and I find, among the Mickey Mouse and Big Johnson t-shirts, some Tiny Cat Pants clothing.

I can’t decide if that disturbs me or thrills me.

Humane Society Stained by Santorum

PETA is insane, so whatever, but that the Humane Society is giving Rick Santorum such good press really galls me.

PETA says:

“He’s a man with a heart, and he doesn’t think it’s any more acceptable to treat animals cruelly than humans,” said Mary Beth Sweetland, director of research and investigations for the Norfolk, Va.-based PETA.

The Humane Society says:

“We support elected officials who have a proven record of leadership on animal welfare issues and Rick Santorum fits that characteristic precisely,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society and a Humane USA board member.

Rick Santorum says:

“In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality.” –Rick Santorum, AP interview

Is that what qualifies as pro-animal? Protecting marriage from the dog fuckers? I guess his on-going cruelty to consenting homosexual adults and his continued assault on the privacy of all adults don’t have to be taken into consideration defining humane behavior?

Seriously, if Rick Santorum is the best friend animals have, animals are in big trouble.

The Least Surprising Post Ever

Today, the white dog I hate got hit by a truck.

Kudos to the truck driver who slammed on his brakes as hard as he could and also didn’t succumb to the temptation to swerve or he would have sent another truck careening into us.

As much as I’ve fantasized about watching that little fucker die, I’m glad to report both that it didn’t get hit that hard and thus ran off as its owner called “Rhonda” or “Bronson” after it and that I shouted, no, no, and screamed, so there’s still some humanity in this heart after all.

That dog… Is it surprising that it didn’t listen to its owner as she called it away from us? No, it’s the least well-trained dog on the planet, and I say that owning a dog whose only trick is ‘sit.’ Is it surprising that the owner watched that dog get hit and didn’t even flinch or run over to it? No, considering how fucked up that dog is, I would have guessed it didn’t really have someone to spoil it.

I hate that dog, but I feel bad for it. And I’m pretty sure that I heard the owner smacking it when she finally caught up to it. To which I say “thanks, you heartless motherfucker, for teaching your dog to associate our appearance with it getting beat. I’m sure that will make our trips by your house even more pleasant.”

"That Kid is So Weird"

Since we moved every couple of years, on average, I never really thought that I belonged to any place we ever lived. The consistent house I loved was my Grandma A.’s house.

That’s where I felt most at home.

It’s funny because I dream about that house all the time and the dream basically has to do with me feeling threatened by something (last night it was a serial killer dancer) and running to the house and trying to lock all the doors only to find that the threatening thing is already in the house with me.

Anyway, I loved to go to my grandma’s house when I was little and a couple of times, I even stayed up there by myself for a week. Boy did I think I was the shit then.

It was great to visit because so many of my cousins lived in that same town and growing up, I was very close to one particular cousin, who I can’t think of a good nickname for. But when we were growing up, I thought she was so cool.

We’d spend long afternoons playing Barbies. Usually we’d play Adam and Eve Barbie where all the Barbies would take their clothes off and hang out by the pool and she’d take a few of them and show me what she’s learned about sex from watching soap operas.

I always looked up to her and thought that she was the coolest person ever and that no matter how bumpkin-y I was, if I had her to guide me, I’d be all urban sophisticate in no time.

So, one day, when we were both at my grandma’s house, she was in with my grandpa and I was out wandering around the yard talking to the trees. I don’t know why. I was a weird child.

Still, my parents knew I was a weird child, just like they knew the recalcitrant brother could charm the dollars out of Scrooge’s pocket, just like they knew that the Butcher ought not to be left alone with cake, and they never said anything about it. I was allowed to flourish in my weirdness.

But after spending a nice afternoon talking to the trees, my cousin came out and said “Grandpa and I were on the porch. We saw you talking to yourself. And you know what Grandpa said? ‘That kid is so weird.'”

That really hurt my feelings. I mean, my grandpa was a grouch and he used to beat the shit out of my dad and so what the fuck did I care if he thought I was weird? But I did, of course. A little.

What I cared more about was how my cousin said it, like his pronouncement had solidified some irrefutable truth. That hurt me to the core, the way she smirked when she said it.

This is one thing way fucked up families play out. People scramble to ally themselves with the most dangerous person, playing this game where they believe that their alliance with that person gives them value and assures them safety, and that to keep that position, you have to pick on the people on the outs.

This is one of the reasons my parents moved to Illinois: if they were going to be on the outs, they were going to be out far enough that they didn’t have to be around for the scapegoating.

When we were in college, I went to visit my cousin at her school. She got very drunk and hauled some guy home from the bar and did her thing with him so loudly that I couldn’t sleep. Then, she got up in the morning and told me tearfully about how she was helping to have the Wesley Foundation chaplain removed because he was advocating for the Foundation to accept homosexuals and how she just could not believe someone she liked could embrace something so evil.

This was the second time I knew that she was a stranger to me, that even though we’d grown up together, I wasn’t around enough to not be blindsided by that.

At my grandma’s funeral, she and her husband were carrying around a cooler for most of the proceedings. At only one point did they leave it unguarded, later at my living uncle’s home. My cousin A., who had been sitting next to me most of the day, ran over, opened it up, and turning her back to most everybody, looked over at me, and held up a huge, now mostly empty bottle of Wild Turkey.

She put it back, came over, and said, “Well, I guess we now know it takes a lot of liquid courage to work up the ability to think you’re that much better than everyone else.”*

Which caused me to start laughing, hard, and not just because I was relishing being on the inside, even if that inside were just A. and I, but also because of all the cousins, I thought A. and I had the least in common, and yet, there we were, thinking the exact same thing.

Before my grandma died, I crocheted her an afghan in her favorite colors–dark lavender, light lavender, and off white. At the time, I knew she was frail, but I don’t think I thought she was dying. I crocheted it for her and thought about all those nights I slept next to her when we went to visit and about how much I loved to watch her get dressed and make breakfast and talk about how glad she was to have things like microwaves.

When my grandma died, she was lying under my afghan, which my aunt gave back to me. Before Grandma died, the cousin under discussion slept huddled next to her one more time while I was here in Nashville begging every night for her to have a painless death, for her to slip off in her sleep. And she did.

What was my point?

I don’t know. I guess I was just thinking about the other Reverend’s kid and how he said something about not having any idea what it was like to have cousins. And I’ve been thinking about all thirteen of us on our dad’s side and how we don’t really know each other all that well anymore.

And yet, there are still ways I see us all repeating similar patterns, as if the world thrives on slight variation.

But none of us are that close and, since my grandparents are dead, there’s not a strong enough personality to keep bringing us all back together. So, after this, even though the patterns will go on, this piece of it will fad. No one from the next generation will get how we all felt so fiercely loyal to the people we loved, who were also the people that hurt the people we loved.

I used to think that we all felt implicated and that feeling of being the cause of a problem that existed before you were born was what tied us together.

But now I think all that tied us together was our adoration of our grandma. Other than that, we had nothing good in common. That’s not to say that we don’t all have our good things, but just that there’s not a lot of common good between us.

* The Wild Turkey is even funnier if one stops to make a guess about how many of us were actually not on any kind of drug the day of my grandma’s funeral. I’m going to say me, the youngest cousin, and probably A., but I wouldn’t bet on anyone else. One cousin’s drug dealer showed up at the visitation, hoping to get the money he was owed.

The Butcher’s Art

Here’s an example of the Butcher’s art. This is a great piece, I think. It reminds me of those pictures of galaxies. Our place is decorated in all kinds of pieces like this, in various states of done.

Right now, he’s working on one and video taping it as he’s doing it. It’d be pretty cool if he could then speed it up so that you didn’t have to watch it for hours and hours.

Anyway, I talk so much about what he does, I thought you’d be curious to see it.

My Fantasy Tanya Tucker Album

At 11:30 this morning, when I finally decided to take a shower, I climbed into the tub and started singing “Delta Dawn,” which, I believe, I was also singing at some point last night.

When I was a little kid, I used to sing this song over and over and over again and sometimes my dad would play the guitar and other times he’d beg me to pick another song.

All this got me thinking about my previous post and about how much I’d love to hear Tanya Tucker do a cover of “I’m Going to Hire a Wino (to Decorate Our Home).” And you know what?

Tanya Tucker should do an album of covers called “Let Me Show You How It’s Done.” I’m trying to come up with ten songs I think she could just annihilate, just for fun. So far I’ve got four.

1. “I’m Going to Hire a Wino (to Decorate Our Home).” Every time I hear that song I think it could benefit from her delivery. It’s too slick right now and it’s sung by a man, which blunts the edge of the song. But she could record the definitive version of that song, no problem.

2. “Mississippi Girl.” I’d love for her to take that song and fix it. I don’t know how it can be fixed, but, if it can, she can do it. She’s got the right sense of bravado and good humor to pull it off.

3. Any JoDee Messina song, just to remind the world that Messina’s just a poor imitation of the master. Pick one of her big hits, Tanya, and put her in her place.

4. “Wrong Road Again.” Crystal Gayle did this as a kind of straight forward smooth country song, but it would make an excellent bluegrass song if someone sped it up and put some twang to it.

I’m going to mull this over a bit more and see if I can’t think of some other songs that would benefit noticeably from her rendition.

Things That Don’t Quite Work

1. The dog. Egad. She is still limping around and it’s breaking my heart. So, I’m going to keep her off her leg as best I can today. It seems to be a lot better than yesterday, but obviously still tender. So, we’ll take it easy.

But you know what this means?! No walking the dog at the park on Saturday morning! America, what is this world coming to when a girl can’t go to the park with her dog?

I guess I could drive her around the park, but somehow I just don’t think it’d be the same.

2. Tucker Carlson’s new show. It’s set up like Pardon the Interruption, which I love, and so I don’t think the format is the problem. It’s just that one of the reasons PTI works so well is that you know that those guys know shit-tons about sports and could and would fill a whole hour talking about whether Michael Jordon or Michael Andretti would make a better hockey team manager. The format then kind of serves to help them whittle down their sizeable knowledge and opinions into negotiable chunks.

But Tucker Carlson, bless his heart, just don’t have the depth of knowledge or the breadth of interests to pull this off in some kind of “smashing success” fashion. It’s like he reads the headlines and the first paragraphs of the top news stories and then tries to speak from an informed position. And his lackeys never call him on it (which, please, if someone on PTI was not being sharp enough, he’d get nailed on it).

So, like yesterday, the reports that psychiatrists at Guantanemo were helping interrogators figure out how best to get the prisoners to open up came out. And, as they were talking about on Dan Abrams (ah, Dan Abrams), if this is true, it’s a big deal because doctors are not supposed to harm the people in their care–not physically and not psychologically–even if those people are evil. This is why doctors don’t administer the death penalty (I don’t know if that’s true; that’s just what they were saying on Dan Abrams). It violates their professional ethics.

So, the topic came up on Tucker Carlson, and he said, “Well, I just don’t see what the problem is. So what if doctors help us figure out how to break these guys?” To which I responded, “Jesus Christ, Carlson, don’t you watch your own fucking network? In the face of Dan Abrams, who is on two hours before you, discussing the ethical quagmire, you can’t think of any reason, any reason at all, why psychiatrists helping interrogators figure out how to fuck with the people they’re supposed to be taking care of is not a problem? Are you a moron?” And the people who are supposed to be his antagonists just sat there like “What vague, meaningless, consensus can we reach?”

Seriously, can’t MSNBC insist that anyone who’s going to talk about the news have some knowledge of the news? Especially when that knowledge could be gleaned from watching their own station?

I think the format of the show is a really good idea and could work well, if the right people were doing it, but Carlson’s got to do something more than just sit there looking like the kind of guy your grandma wishes you’d date.

3. President Bush. How I love you! Okay, how I love to watch you squirm. How I love to watch Republican congress-folks demanding something from you we all know you’d be stupid to give. How I love that finally you speak the truth to the American people and we fickle nitwits who voted you in based on our love for your stupidity turn on you when you finally say something smart.

Of course we can’t give a timeline for pulling out of Iraq. We can’t say that we’ll have the forces in Iraq reduced by half by, say, August 15th or the insurgents certainly will just hang back and wait until August 16th to launch some kind of major offensive.

Bush, you’ve gotten us in this mess, knowing that, if we didn’t see it through, it’d be worse for our safety than if we hadn’t done it at all. And you lied to us about why we needed to be in there. And now, now that people know you lied about the weapons of mass destruction, now that they know you have no interest, really, in catching Bin Laden, now that they know the war is going to cost and cost and cost, the one time you’re telling us the truth–that we can’t set a ‘leave-by’ date–even your fellow Republicans unofficially start their reelection campaigns by demanding that you must.

Ah, sucks to be you this week.

4. But not as much as it sucks to be Bill ‘The Kitten Killer’ Frist, who is trying to run for president on the “I’m a Strong and Sure Leader, with Close Ties to the Christian Right” platform, and who keeps having the ‘strong and sure leader’ part of the platform collapse beneath him.

5. Faith Hill’s new song ‘Mississippi Girl.’ This song starts off bad, but is almost redeemed by the chorus. But the chorus really needs to go some place–it needs an extra ‘oomph’, maybe a great bridge that it seems to be missing–but instead, you feel like the song is building up to something and just when the music builds to a point where you think it’s just going to break wide open into a song you can like, she just starts repeating the chorus and fading into “la, la, la”s.

Women, I think you know what I mean. If this song were sex, you’d be going “Oh, oh, oh” and then you’d be kind of squeezing your legs around someone’s back, and then you’d be holding your breath just a little and thinking of Aragon or Aretha Franklin (or maybe Jerry Orbach. I don’t know why, but thinking of Lenny Briscoe is a sure fire lift for me. Laugh if you want. I don’t care), and just when the fireworks ought to be going off, it kind of fizzles. And you can’t put your finger on what went wrong, but it was like you just couldn’t get over that hump. Whatever needed to happen just didn’t.

Well, that’s this song. Almost everything you need for an enjoyable song is there, but the wild abandon.

Hey, maybe that’s what this song needs. It needs one of those old fashioned Tanya Tucker moments where the audience is all clapping along and the musicians stop playing and everyone is singing “If I die, I may not go to Heaven. I don’t know if they let cowboys in. So, if I die, then let me go to Texas, because Texas is as close as I’ll get.” and then the band kicks back in.

Yep, that’s it. This song needs some moment where it’s just Faith and her fans and some hand-clapping and some singing along. It needs that moment where Faith and her fans know this whole thing is all about the special relationship between her and them.

And it doesn’t have that, so it doesn’t quite work.

Tante B. Tells You What Makes Her Happy Today!

  1. Someone hung a string of stars over my office door.
  2. The book I have been waiting on has finally arrived and, surprise, another book arrived as well. Yes, I sniffed them. No, I’m not ashamed of it. If you don’t like that new book smell, you have no soul.
  3. I have invented a new book dance. I danced said dance.
  4. The Professor took me to lunch.
  5. No other good reasons. Just glad it’s Friday and that the world needs nothing more from me today.

57 Lovers and Nothing On

So, as you all know, the Professor has like 57 lovers. Until very recently, it’s been impossible to keep them all straight, but a few days ago, I realized that all her lovers have vaguely foreign sounding names: not Tom, but To-mas; not Jane, but Ja-ney; not Richard, but Ricardo, etc.

And so this made me happy because now, if she starts talking about someone and I can’t quite figure out if it’s a fellow philosopher or a lover, I just wait to hear what his or her name is and if it’s Fred, it must be a philosopher, but if it’s Frederiche, it’s a lover. It’s very handy.

But I’ve started to wonder, do they develop vaguely foreign sounding names in response to their time with her, or is she deliberately picking them out based on how much fun it is to say their names?

So, for fun and as an experiment, I think we should all start introducing ourselves to the Professor with foreign variants of our names and see where it goes. I’ll be introducing myself as Tante B. the next time I see her.

The Son of the Other Reverend

Rather by surprise, the oldest son of the other Reverend stopped by yesterday on his way down to Alabama. I hadn’t seen him in years, but he still looked the same, but older.

It was really good to see him and Mrs. Wigglebottom loved him and he loved her and so it was all dog wrestling and tug of war all evening and I think she pulled something because today she’s walking with a limp.

Ah well, I’m certain that after a hard day of sleeping, she’ll feel better.

It was really good to see him, but hard. Usually, when I talk about what it means to have grown up as a minister’s kid, I can see that most people just don’t get it–unless they’re military brats, in which case, we have common ground–and so I talk about it in only superficial ways. But with another minister’s kid, someone who I’ve known for 31 years, you just skip right to the ways you still feel fucked up. In part, I think, because it’s such a relief to know that you are finally talking to someone who gets it.

But wow.

And, I think the hardest part was that his dad has really done him and his brother wrong in ways our dad–who, of course, isn’t perfect–just never did. Our dad was there at dinner. Our dad didn’t leave anyone in another town to finish up high school so that he could take a better church. Our dad would come and get us at school when we were sick and let us sleep on the couch in his office if he couldn’t take the day off work.

And I felt a little sorry to tell him that, because I think he’d just thought that all ministers’ kids were being done wrong the way he and his brother were.

So, it could always be worse.


Open Letter to Young United Methodist Ministers

Dear Young United Methodist Ministers,

Last night I was sitting around with my oldest friend on the planet–the person I have known since I was born, which was, incidentally, when he was four months old–and my brother and being there in a room full of United Methodist Ministers’ kids, it occurred to me that you guys could use some advice.

So listen up.

Look at your family right now. See them? This will not survive your ministry. Maybe your spouse will leave you. Maybe you’ll take up with the church treasurer. Maybe your kids will deal drugs or get pregnant or become Wiccans–whatever it is, they’re going to be pissed. You might become addicted to booze or sex or drugs. Some things are going to happen that means that this brave little party embarking with you on your crusade is not going to pull through it.

The good news is that it’s okay. A lot of marriages fail. A lot of kids don’t turn out like their parents hoped. Everyone clings too tightly to things that are bad for them in order to feel like they can make it through. You are no different, not more special than anyone else in the world. You cannot escape the shitty things in life. Your vocation does not protect you.

You, however, can take some steps to protect your loved ones. Here’s the most important thing you can do. Choose your family. Put your family first. If it’s a choice between getting your hospital rounds done today instead of tomorrow and going to your wife’s softball game, go to the game. If you really should write your sermon today and not tomorrow, but your kids need someone to go on the school field trip, put your sermon off. If one of your parishioners is going to the hospital, but your kid had a bad day at school, your parishioner and her family can wait until tomorrow to see you.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You have to be there for your church. You have to put them first. “You might be the only face of Jesus some folks ever see.”

Go ahead, say that again to yourself. I know how good it makes you feel: “You might be the only face of Jesus some folks ever see.”

Now, buster, listen up. If you, United Methodist Minister, believe that to be true about yourself, you are either egomaniacal and should quit the ministry now, before you set up some kind of cult and do some real damage to people OR you are a shitty, shitty minister.

It is not your job to be the only face of Jesus some folks ever see. It is your job to help the people in your congregation be Jesus’ face and arms and feet and heart in the world. If Parishioner Joe is thinking about hitting the bottle again and Parishioner Ed knows it but doesn’t feel it’s his job to help–because he thinks it’s only the Pastor’s job to help–then you are failing at your job.

Do you get what I’m saying? If it’s just you doing all the work, you are not doing your job. You’re supposed to be training and motivating the folks you face every Sunday to help–to help each other, to help their communities, to do the hard things for each other they’ve been afraid to do until now.

Choose your family first. When your parishioners call you about your kids–and they will, because, frankly, we ARE sneaking out during the service and sitting on the roof of the church smoking pot, or sneaking out to the lake to make out with the druggies, or fucking whoever we can just to spite you–it’s a test. It’s a way of seeing what’s more important to you, your family or the church. Choose your family.

That doesn’t mean that you should let us off the hook. But it does mean that you should realize that everyone is checking to see where your loyalties lay and some folks are checking to see how far they can push you, how much control over everyone you care about you are willing to cede to your parishioners. If you choose your parishioners over your family at this crucial moment, if you show everyone that you will fix things how the complainers want just because they have the balls to suggest how you should run your life, your life will be a living hell from here on out. And so will your kids lives be.

You may read back over that paragraph and be unsure who I’m recommending you give into–your parishioners or your kids. I’m recommending that you be a parent to your children. In order to be a good parent to your children, you don’t let outside people dictate the how and why of your interactions with your kids or your spouse.

The funny thing is that, if you don’t follow my advice, if you always put your church first and do whatever it is you think is necessary to keep your district superintendent happy and your parishioners fulfilled, you’re going to succeed. You’re going to get bigger churches and have nicer houses.

But dear United Methodist Minister, what does it profit a man that he should gain the whole world but lose his soul?


Aunt B.

"Men are weak & need to be taken care of"

As you may have gathered, the Butcher fancies himself an artist. For a long while, he was making tiny wire people (he made me this awesome witch) but now he mostly does these abstract thingies out of melted crayon.

I have a beautiful one in my office that looks like molten copper and has pennies stuck in it.

The Professor has one that looks like fire that I see at her apartment all the time and think, wow, how cool is that? before I remember that it’s one of the Butcher’s pieces.

The Butcher’s friend, the red-headed kid once said, “I’m going to have to use self-promotion to promote myself” and, alas, friends, that’s a lesson the Butcher has not learned. He should make up a bunch of pieces, get his artsy friends to put some pieces together, and have a show and let cool people show other cool people how cool they are by buying their art.

Anyway, yesterday, as I was worrying outloud about whether the Butcher would find another job before he quit this one, another woman was complaining about some scheduling she had to do for her husband, and a woman overheard us and said “I’m really struck by how often women get together to complain about the men in their lives. But it’s so true. We all know that men are weak and need to be taken care of.”

And I thought, “Holy shit. Do I think that? Is that what people think I’m saying when I talk about the Butcher?” Because, if I do and if that is what I’m saying, that’s pretty fucking terrible.

Think back to grade school and how we used to throw the word ‘retarded’ around and how there were always those kids you called ‘retards’ or just ‘tards’ until the teacher caught you and tried to shame you into stopping. But remember that feeling? The kind of glee you had at saying something hateful that embodied every anxiety about yourself–that you were stupid and powerless and could be and ought to be hurt–and putting it on someone in worse shape than yourself?

Here is what really scares me for all of us. That’s the tone of voice I hear when I hear some folks talking about the other gender.

You don’t have to be a great feminist theorist to think of the ways this plays out against women. But I’m alarmed to hear it so casually spoken about men as well, as if it’s not a hateful thing to say, but just a known fact. Because, Christ, how are we ever supposed to fix things between us if we’re all just sitting around thinking “My god, they’re so fucking retarded.”?

But on the other hand, I have to say, it’s kind of an effective coping mechanism for when you’re faced with the bullshit. It’s really easier to believe that men are just ‘retarded’ than it is to believe that someone really wishes you ill.

Let’s take Brittney as an example, because here’s a woman in a visible position who can also contribute to the conversation (plus, I’m pretty sure that every blog eventually succumbs to all things meta- and now’s as good a time for Tiny Cat Pants to as any). In her write-up of our interview, she said about me, “She is also very funny and one of those danged femi-nazis.”

Now, if there’s any somewhat liberal woman in America who has not been accused of being or asked if she was a feminazi, it must just be because she hasn’t left the house in 15 years. I’m not particularly militant and I’ve been asked a handful of times if I was one of those damned feminazis just because I said something like “I probably won’t change my last name if I get married.”–which is especially funny because right now someone is reading me saying “Probably? Of course you shouldn’t.” and/or “Married? Why would you ever?”

Okay, while we’re talking about what women think of men, here’s another one. It’s very frustrating when y’all show up to a conversation and immediately feel like you have to prove that you are the smartest, most knowledgeable person in the room. I know it’s not all y’all, but some of you. So, for some of you: Why do you do that? Are you afraid that if any amount of time goes by where the world is not aware of your brilliance that it will somehow diminish?

Anyway, some of us call that pulling out your dick. The worst situation is when a number of men who feel the need to prove how important they are and they all pull out their dicks and start comparing. In those situations, I often wish I had a big purple dildo in my purse that I could whip out and slap on the table and get heard.

So, back to the point, Brittney writes this thing about me. She’s often mentioned Tiny Cat Pants over at Nashville is Talking and no one bothers to comment. But something about this post–and I guess I should be proud–causes “John Galt” to have to come over, whip out his dick, and point out how stupid Brittney is for not knowing the correct meaning of feminazi.

Heavens forefend! In all these years of people calling us feminazis, it never occurred to us to somehow figure out who the seven feminazis are and use that as our snappy retort. How stupid we are! We should have never been angry or scared when some red-faced man shouted that word at us, because we should have just intrinsically known that he didn’t really mean us, or if he did, he was just too stupid for us to take seriously as an asshole.

I mean, really.

Anyway, my point is that it was really startling and strange yesterday to be involved in two conversations that were, at the gist, about how stupid some member(s) of the other gender were. Strange, startling, and sad.

Seeing Stars

When I first moved down here, Miss J.’s parents still lived just south of here and so I would go down there whenever I could, whenever Miss J and the Divine Ms. B were in town.

They had a friend who had a pool out in the country and we would get drunk and […]* and float around naked in the pool, gazing up at the stars.

Ha, I bet their friend’s husband was glad about that!

Anyway, it was so beautiful, all those stars, and it made me happy to be floating around with my friends.

Once when I went to visit Miss J up at school, way before she got married, we got drunk and decided to get tattoos: constellations that were important to us. For me, Orion and for her, Cassiopeia.

Now, we weren’t going to get the images folks imagine when looking at the stars; we were just going to get a series of properly aligned black dots.

I know, it’s brilliant!

Alas, by the time we’d formulated our plan and made sure that both constellations were visible for the tattoo artist to view, we couldn’t find an open tattoo parlor.

So, we both remain, as far as I know, constellation-free.

*This portion redacted to protect folks from the tax collecting arm of the Tennessee government.