The Bell Witch

I had a great rant about patriarchal bullshit and Rattle & Snap all worked up, but the weather is so nice and cool and autumnal that, in honor of that, I’m giving the overtly feminist rants a rest until August.

[Someone go get Short & Fat some water and fan W, who’s looking a little faint. It’s okay boys, we’ll get back to that stuff.]

But this weather also has me thinking of ghosts, and what better ghost than Tennessee’s very own Bell Witch?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the legend, you can bring yourself up to speed here and here. You can even view some good photos here.

But the general gist is that the Bell Witch is one of the most famous American hauntings, well-witnessed and well-verified. Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about just what exactly the Bell Witch was–poltergeist, spurned lover, giant hoax.

And, my friends, I also have a theory.

Let us look at what we know. First, there appeared some strange animals. Then there were sounds and voices. Then there were physical afflictions on the Bell family.

And then, let us ask ourselves, if this were not something supernatural, who besides the Bells could have done this? “No one,” you say, “dear Aunt B. All of the legends say that whenever they went to examine the source of the noises, no one was there.”

But is that really true? Who in 1817 in Tennessee could have been physically present at almost all times and not be counted as someone? Able to move around the property without ever raising any suspicion? Who might have had knowledge of potions and concoctions that could give a powerless person some power over her oppressors? Who would have access to socks, shoes, or footprints necessary to do something “such as removing them from town, jinxing them, bringing them under control in love or money matters, or giving them an unnatural illness”? (and what illness more unnatural than John Bell’s?) Who came from a culture with a well-established history of using ventriloquism in their conjuring? And who would have had the most to lose from John Bell’s history of poor business dealings? Or, perhaps, an unwise marriage?

Yep, I suspect that the Bell Witch was right there under their noses the whole time, and that her legend is evidence of a great and lasting conjuration, perpetrated by one or more of their slaves.

George Never Lets Me Down

So, earlier in the week I was complaining to the Butcher about how outrageous it was that Dear George could get down to speak to the Boy Scouts about their tragic loss of 4 leaders, but could not bring himself to go to a funeral every now and then for the soldiers he’s expending in the War on Terror. Oh, excuse me. The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism.

Jesus Christ. The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism? Well, it’s got one thing going for it. At least it’s honest. Wars have ends. Struggles go on and on and on and that’s what this mess is, a never ending struggle against desperate, violent idiots who don’t fear death. But do I think we’re going to start being up front about all of the other struggles we’ve wrongly labeled wars? Will we get the Struggle Against Drugs? The Struggle Against Crime? The Struggle Against Poverty? (Hee, it’s funny. The more you type ‘struggle,’ the more it seems like some wacky dance from the 60s.)

But more importantly, this “struggle” has for me the same bullshitty ring as “conflict.” And that’s why I loathe it. Loathe, loathe, loathe. 1. I don’t trust that Fucker as far as I can throw him and I have my suspicions that moving this from “war” to “struggle” will allow them to somehow fuck over the troops. I don’t know how, because I’m not in the military, but this seems like exactly the kind of dumbass thing that leads people who need help from the VA 30 years from now to find out that their benefits don’t cover such help because they weren’t in a “war,” they were in a “struggle.” I hope Short & Fat will come by and tell me my fears are unfounded.

But 2. Because I’m not in the military, I exactly get what they’re trying to do with moving things from “war” to “struggle.” A war has clear objectives, a clear enemy, and a clear purpose. It’s becoming clearer and clearer every day that we don’t have that. It’s even becoming clearer to patriotic families who can usually be relied on to encourage their children to join the military, hence the reason the Army is struggling to recruit people.

But a struggle seems less dangerous than a war. Sure, people might die in a struggle, but not as many people as die in a war. See, just by changing this word, it’s safe again to send your kids into the military.

Also, a struggle has no definite end. With a war, you have military families who want to know why they keep having to risk their loved ones over and over and over again when so many of the rest of us don’t. When you’re at war, it seems grossly unfair that some people are asked to repeatedly risk their lives while others of us don’t. With a “global war on terror,” the necessity for a large armed forces made up of as many young and able bodied Americans seems eventually necessary. The whole country ought to mobilize for a global war of any sort. But with a struggle, we don’t need to talk about a draft. A struggle can be handled by the armed forces we have.

So, patriotic Americans, there’s no need to worry about your sons and daughters under Dear George’s leadership. This is just a struggle, a minor state of conflict we’ll have to be embroiled in for decades, but no worries. We’re just reframing the whole thing to more accurately reflect the amount of thought you need to give this–very little–because George Bush loves Patriotic Americans and would never do them wrong.

From Egalia:

Bush cancelled his trip to the Boy Scouts Jamboree due to bad weather.

Meanwhile, more than 300 scouts became sick from bad weather, or from extreme heat, while waiting patiently for Bush to show.

This is Why I Love This Thing

I stumbled upon Twyla while reading Peg’s blog and I remember thinking “Wow, this is someone so unlike me, but from whom I could learn a lot about patience and understanding and healing.”

It’s really amazing, when you think about it, that total strangers unveil themselves for other total strangers to read, laugh at, dismiss, or be deeply moved by.

This morning, over Fruit Loops, I was reading Summer’s latest entry and I felt that same way–like I was very lucky to have stumbled across this writer.

I don’t think Twyla and Summer have a lot in common as writers. I’m not even sure if they’d like each other’s style of writing. But reading something like this–

I knew I was, as someone who had long called herself a feminist, supposed to feel like a subject. Like a valuable woman deserving of equal rights and equal pay and equal say. Like a woman who both knows her own worth and believes in it. Empowered.

Yes, I knew–had even memorized–the schpiel, I had just failed to internalize it all. Sure, I had gotten the right things into my head, into my philosophy, into my worldview…just not into my selfview. No, though I wanted—desperately wanted—to feel it all down in my guts, the rhetoric had never made it quite that far.

–which feels like a kind of truth I immediately recognize but don’t know how to articulate for myself made me want to draw Twyla’s attention to Summer and Summer’s attention to Twyla.

So, there it is. You may read each other and say “Wow, I have no idea why Aunt B. thought I’d like this,” but I hope you read each other and appreciate in each other what I appreciate, that brave openness to beauty and self-discovery.

"I Hope When I’m Their Age, I’m Still Nailing my Wife"

I don’t like to think about my parents having sex. I assume they do. But I don’t want to hear about it. I’m glad the Butcher is so nonchalant about it. I’m glad he enthusiastically approves. But not me. I prefer strict boundaries between their sex lives and mine. I know that and they know that.

But that did not stop there from being a point tonight over dinner when I realized that my parents were discussing their sex life in front of the Professor.

Really, America, what has this family come to? Are we now discussing all of our most intimate moments with our family members’ friends? Am I obliged to call up the other Reverend and explain the myriad ways I went fumbling around young stoners in my parents’ basement in high school? Because I cannot do that. No matter how much they think chatty jokes about “knobs” are acceptable, I cannot talk about sex with my parents’ friends or with my parents, especially not in front of the Professor.

Still, if it had to come to this, I’m glad that I am not the only person who has to have the image of old minister/old school teacher sex seared onto her brain.