Monday, January 26, 2015

Women and leggings and...well, Carlos Bocanegra NOT wearing leggings

My friends Lisa and Labrys reminded me that looking at attractive bodies is not a gender-specific thing. So here's some eye-candy for the female readers; U.S. Soccer's Carlos Bocanegra:


If you knew that this body was under baggy sweats and a ballcap, would it matter whether it was tight shorts or baggy sweats, or a bare chest or a hoodie?

I mean, certainly less clothing is more scenic...but what is unseen can still be seen, if you're thinking about it.

As Lisa said; the brain is the real sexual organ. What can be imagined will be imagine, whether it be by man or woman. We men may be a trifle more visual, but we were all designed to respond to each other's (or our own gender's, for those of us hardwired that way...) bodies. As Labrys said; we may be married, or in love, or committed, but we're neither blind nor dead. We respond to those bodies as our own minds and bodies tell us we should. And that's just fine; if we are truly civilized people we can surely find ways to dealing with our desires in civilized ways.

The fact that religious zealots - whether fundamentalist Christians, ultraorthodox Jews, Wahhabi Muslims, or every other flavor of God-bothering asshole - can't seem to do that is their problem, not ours, frankly.

Otherwise?

Enjoy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Men and leggings and living with them both.

So I open the digital version of the World's Worst Newspaper this morning and there's this:
"Why I Chose to No Longer Wear Leggings...(Veronica) Partridge, a 25-year-old Christian, felt conflicted about modesty, she writes in the post, and talked with her husband about whether or not leggings are appropriate as pants. He told her that it's hard for him not to look at other women wearing the tight athletic wear. She wrote: "And at that moment, I made a personal vow to myself and to my husband. I will no longer wear thin, form-fitting yoga pants or leggings in public."
And I thought, oh, Ronnie.

Ronnie, Ronnie, Ronnie...

You and me, girlfriend. We need to have a little talk.
Well, OK, first, let me admit; this wasn't the first time I'd heard of this leggings-deal. I ran across it the other night skimming Fred Clarke's blog Slacktivist, where he kinda slammed you not for your obsession with "modesty" but for your misprision of the central tenets of your Christianity:
"For white American evangelicals, religion is always about sex — about other people’s genitals, but when Jesus spoke about modesty of dress it was never about sex and lust. It was about money and greed and self-indulgence at the expense of those in need. If you’re striving for “biblical modesty,” that is the core and the whole of what the Bible itself has to say about leggings and yoga pants: “Whoever has two pair of leggings must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."
Which is in itself all well and good from a religious-good-doing sort of perspective. Though I should note that I tend to agree with Fred that Dale's comment was sort of a dick move. Sorry, Ron, but he was implying that it is haaaard to be faithful to you with those darn sluts prancing around in yoga pants. But that's a whole 'nother thing.

Thing is, sorry, I'm not a Christian like Fred (who is a pretty insightful guy and a fellow Jesus-pesterer; you might give him a read, just sayin'...) I'm just some random atheist. So I can't really help you on the whole "Christian morality" thing.

But.

I, like your husband Dale the "serial entrepreneur", am a guy. Dude. Vato. Hombre. Mensch. Fella. Goombah. We're both members of the He-Man Chest-Beater Club, sharers of the descended testicles, and we have a lot in common, saint and sinner the two of us.

And I thought we should reeeeeeally talk about this whole thing you said Dale said to you. Accoring to your blog "...he told me, “yeah, when I walk into a place and there are women wearing yoga pants everywhere, it’s hard to not look. I don’t, but it’s not easy.”

And, Ronnie, love ya, sweetie, bless your heart, but I'm here as a guy to tell you; Dale's lying his dear little Christian ass off.

"Looks?" Of course he looks. We ALL look.

Why?

Because we like you.

Sure, he loves you as a person, as a wife, mother of your kids, helpmeet, companion, lover. But...he's also a heterosexual guy. So he likes you as a woman.

Meaning he likes women. Women, plural. Women in general.

We're like that, us het guys. We may like some women as individual friends. We may love some - or, one, hopefully as in your case - as our inamorata, our one-and-only, our Bride, our Delight. But those are personality things, emotional things, spiritual things, individual things.

But we also like women. Physically. Generically. Generally. En masse. As a class of beings. We like how they look, how their voices sound, how they move, how they stand. We like how their faces fit together, how their hair falls, how they look hipshot, or sitting, or dancing, or sleeping. We like the high curve of the tops of their breasts, the slender taper of their fingers (or the square sturdiness of their hands - women come in a delightful assortment of sizes, shapes, and proportions, and that's another thing we like about them). We like the swell of their hips, and the roundness of their bottoms, the intricate curve where their belly meets their thigh.

We like how they laugh when they're silly, the frown that furls their brow when they're thinking. And...I hope this doesn't shock you, dear, but we like making love to them and we think about that from time to time when we look at them.

We don't really think about having sex with them when we see those women in their yoga pants and leggings.

Because, I'm sorry to say, dear, we don't need the yoga pants and leggings to think about having sex with them.
We don't need leggings...or yoga pants, or pantyhose or high heels or pushup bras or bustiers. We don't need accessories or special outfits or fetish wear. We're guys, Ronnie. Guys! We can look at a cool stylish matron in a chic suit and think of lust in the back of a limo. Or a ponytailed jogger in Nikes and imagine sweaty gym sex. Or the tattooed barista at the coffeeshop and picture wild lovemaking in a loft full of modern art.

Hell, don't even get me started on burkas or habits or granny shoes, darlin'. We're men and all of life is one ginormous Rule 34 for us. We look, and we think, and...if we love you, that's all we do.

Just looking - and thinking - doesn't mean we're going to tear off their yoga pants in a mad frenxy of lust. It doesn't mean that anytime we see a woman in a cute outfit, or a bathing suit, that we're gonna screw the poor girl to the wall. We may think about how pretty and sexy they are. We may get a little thrill of excitement looking at them.

But then we take all that home and if we're lucky get to feel and think the same way about you.

My own Bride, who is a very sensible and pragmatic woman, has a term for it: "You go ahead and work up an appetite wherever you want, big guy. Just come home to eat."

She knows we look, and she knows we know she knows, and she's okay with that. She's a smart woman and she knows that if what we have is good, and strong, and right that the looking is no more than enjoyment, and that she will reap the benefits.

And so can you so long as you remember this simple little rule: Guys Are Gonna Look - It Doesn't Matter What You Wear

So you pull on those Carharts, Ronnie dear, if it makes you feel better. But just remember - it's not about the leggings. It's about the legs, and he's gonna think about those legs - yours, hers, your Aunt Louise's - and probably will no matter if you and every other woman within sight are dressed in goddamn garbage sacks.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Gott mit uns

Not that I'm in a big hurry to see this (loathing 99% of all "war films" as I do...) but can someone explain how making a 2015 flick about the occupation of Iraq glorifying a dude who is a stone killer, who is working as a sniper with an invading army fighting an aggressive war ginned up by lies and propaganda, who considers his targets subhuman "savages", is different in any meaningful way from remaking the 2001 Stalingrad film Enemy At The Gates but only making the German sniper the hero..?
I mean...I get it. I get that we think of ourselves, of the U.S. troopers we send to do our dirty work, as "the good guys" regardless of where and why we (or in this case, "they") fight. After all, millions of Germans thought they were the "good guys" in 1943, just like Romans thought they were the "good guys" against the Carthginians and the Stone Tribe thought they were the "good guys" against the Clam Clan - that shit's as old as human nature.

Still. I marvel at the human capacity for looking at bloody facts and seeing pretty lies. I think it comes from our natural desire to be the hero of our own stories.

We don't want to think of ourselves as cruel, or vicious, or wrong, because we've learned that "evil people do evil things". So if we admit we've done evil then we have to admit we are evil. And we hate that.

We're NOT evil. We love our kids, we give alms, we go to church, we help the needy, we're kind and loving, decent, humane people. Right?

You'd think that we would have learned that all sorts of lovely, decent, otherwise-humane people can do the most apalling evil when properly prepared, usually through a combination of innocence, ignorance, prejudice, and a carefully decanted mixture of bullshit and praise from people they respect.

But, no.

So lacking that we have to keep screwing our eyes shut tighter and our fingers deeper into our own ears to keep out the thought that we and all our yellow-ribbon magnets might just have been accomplices in a horrible, unspeakable evil.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Losing my religion

I've got a much longer post up at the Milpub on this subject, but suffice to say that the shootings at the Paris political magazine just reminded me of what a goddamn toxic thing religion is when you throw it into the political stewpot.

And, first, I want to throw out the idea that somehow this is "Islam", that somehow Islam and Muslims are uniquely violent.

Think about it. For hundreds of years Europe was torn up by Protestants killing Catholics, Catholics killing Protestants and everybody killing Jews.

Don't even get me started on atheists and witches.

Where you went to church (or whether you did..) was a killing matter in Europe for centuries. Google "Thirty Years War" sometime and read up on what it did to Germany, among other places. Wasteland. Total fuckstory. Trust me on this.

Believing you have a pipeline to the Almighty makes a hell of a great reason to kill people who are piped into a different Heaven, and that was enough reason for Christian Europeans to do some of the world's most enthusiastic killing for centuries.

And then we stopped.

We booted the preachers the hell out of our politics - most of us - and, though we may kill each other for secular reasons, decided it was louche at best to go crusading.

Sure, some idiots still want to return to the Good Old Days when killing infidels for Baby Jesus got you into Heaven. But for most of us where our neighbors go to church - or whether they go to church or not - is a matter of massive indifference. The notion that someone is scarey because he might be Catholic and take orders from the Pope (as was said of JFK) or a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon or a Hindu or a Sikh seems ludicrous as the Blood Libel to us today. Outside of the Balkans (determined to be perverse as they have always been) religious skepticism, ignorance, indifference, and sloth is the rule in Western public life. It's considered rude (outside the Issa household) to parade your religiousity in public, let alone so much as upbraid anyone else for their infidelity.

We just can't be arsed to kill our neighbors or the random stranger anymore because they don't love our God not because we're better or kinder people but because we just don't give enough of a shit. Who cares what the Johnsons are doing Sunday morning? The fuckin' Vikes are playing, man!

As a whole, as a society, the West seems to worship - if it worships anything - sex and money and prettiness and fame. And while that in itself is a whole 'nother cluster of fuck it doesn't seem to be as lethal. Nobody seems to shoot somebody else over Hooters girls' tight shirts.

The occasional abortion doc, maybe. But, still.

So the last religion standing seems to be Islam, at this point. Which is pretty bizarre when you consider that in 1945 the idea of "political Islam" seemed like the height of lunacy.

All over the Islamic world secular governments were replacing the old colonial regimes. In fact the heartland of the current IS and AQ shenangans - Iraq and Syria - was largely run by "Baath" parties which were overtly and fiercely secular. The exemplar for the emerging Arab states was Turkey and the anticlericalism of the Young Turks.

But between the Western powers and Israel these secular states were shown up to their populations as either venal, weak, or both. Secular dictators were suborned with Western cash and weapons, or defeated by Israeli arms. The only groups that seemed to actually fight back effectively were the jihadis. The U.S. and the West also helped coddle a Saudi regime that nursed the Wahhabi madrassis that produced so many of these jihadi vipers. Charlie Wilson & Co. turned them loose on the Soviets which seemed like a damn fine idea at the time...and then cut them loose when the Soviets ran for cover.

The the world's deadest tall Saudi had the brilliant idea that if he goaded the American bull it's smash up the Middle Eastern china shop and it worked like a mechanical ass-kicker and and here we are.

It seems to me that the BEST answer to the jihadi problem would be the same thing that provided the solution to the Western Wars of Religion; indifference.

Everytime some TV preacher or some fatuous GOP fucktard starts ranting about how my country needs a healthy dose of Jesus or a return to "biblical values" my first thought is "Yeah, like witch-burning, adulterer-stoning, and crusades? The fuck we do."

We want to return to the Wars of Religion? We want to return to forced conversion and prosecutions for heresy and blue laws? My ass; the West voted with its feet - out the church door - a long time ago and it seems to me for all the flaws in Western civilization I can't but think that decision was a damn good one.

It seems to me that a big fat dose of fuck-you-preacherman would do the whole Islamic umma a hell of a lot of good, too.
But I have no idea what the hell you, or I, or anyone else on our side of the problem can do about that.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Dead to rights

I'm sorry, but this little morality play doesn't seem (to me) to say anything nearly as much about "gun control" or "Second Amendment rights" as much as it does "You're never as fucking smart as you fucking think you are so you need to plan for that".

Because there's really only two ways I can see this playing out:

1. Li'l Jocko reaches into Mommy's "specially designed" pistol-carry purse, extracts her hogleg, jacks back the slide, releases it, takes up a solid, two-handed firing position and puts a round into Mommy's brain housing group (all without Mommy either seeing him do all this or hearing the sound of the automatic pistol action being worked - an unmistakeable noise for someone who was supposed to be all Miss Idaho NRA as the mommy-target is said to have been) or

2. Now-deceased rocket scientist was wandering around Wally Mart with a freaking round under the hammer in violation of every common-sense rule on firearms safety ever thought up and Rule Number Zero for any sort of firearm, thus allowing her sprog to simply slip the bullet-launcher out of her clutch and put one in her ten-ring, easy-peasy.

Believe #1 if you dare, but I gotta go with #2. Which pretty much goes to show you that you can be a valedictorian, scientist, wife, mother, and firearms aficianado, and if you fuck up Rule Number Zero for a tenth of a nanosecond chances are you'll wind up dead as mutton.

Which, in turn, reminds me again that waaaayyyyy too many people can get their little paddy-paws on firearms who shouldn't go out in public with anything more lethal than a fucking licorice whip.
That's my real problem with "Second Amendment Solutions"; because the First Amendment of Not Getting Fucking Shot is that you never forget that the most dangerous weapon is the one closest to you, i.e., the one in your own hands. You ignore that, or forget that, or pretend that it's not true and you become more dangerous to yourself and everyone around you than the maddest lunatic jihadi suicide commando who ever graduated magnum cum madrassi.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Maundering in the Dead Time

I think I've mentioned this before.

(In fact, I know I did; it was this time last year...)

The week between Christmas and the New Year always seems to me to be a very odd sort of aimless, drifting period; I called it "the Dead Time" in last year's post. Maybe that comes from my Army days, when at this time of year we went to a half-day schedule, loafing off waiting for the holidays to pass and the new working year to begin.

Or perhaps it's just that this is a kind of rudderless time, when many of us just take our foot off the throttle and lay back for a week or so.

The kiddos are out of school and - if the past week has been any indication - are lazing about watching videos and playing videogames.
My Bride has the fortnight off, as well, and is overwatching the larvae to the degree required. My workplace is ludicrously silent. I have about four hours of work today - already receipted and filed - and another four this Wednesday, and then a full day of work Friday, and that's it. I have no friggin' notion of what to do tomorrow. Perhaps in the grand Soviet tradition I will pretend to work and my corporate master will pretend to pay me.

So in the spirit of the week, here are some idle ruminations.

Fallows has a worthwhile article up about the ongoing disconnect between our American pretense of "enthusiasm" for "the troops" and our actual ignorance of and indifference to said "troops". We've talked this one to death - it was the primary subject of last year's "dead time" post right here - but the situation hasn't changed. We the People are still far too well insulated from the geopolitical consequences of our political stupidity as well as the lives and deaths of those we send into the arena to be whipped with rods, burned with fire, and killed with steel.

That cannot be a good thing, for them or us.

And I should add that the one thing the Fallows article discusses is the one thing that really irks the shit out of me about the present reflexive warrior-worship:
"Americans admire the military as they do no other institution. Through the past two decades, respect for the courts, the schools, the press, Congress, organized religion, Big Business, and virtually every other institution in modern life has plummeted. The one exception is the military. Confidence in the military shot up after 9/11 and has stayed very high. In a Gallup poll last summer, three-quarters of the public expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military. About one-third had comparable confidence in the medical system, and only 7 percent in Congress."
Don't get me wrong. You don't, as I did, spend more than two decades in an armed service without loving the hell out of it. Well, not if you're a 20th and 21st Century American and have other options than those forced on you by Sergeant Winter.

But...I also know all the fucked up and stupid things that my Army and my fellow soldiers and officers did, and do. The U.S. Army is no different than any other immense organization, and there's always more than enough ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision to go around. You know that. You've worked for GigantoCorp, or dealt with MegaLocity, Inc. Throw in the immensely-fucked-up-by-its-very-nature qualities of war? You get a Perfect Storm of fucktardry.

It's inescapable.

The reality is that in war people get killed and maimed and fucked-up, or get other people killed, maimed, and fucked-up, for stupid reasons, or for no reason at all. Weapons and equipment fail (they're made by the lowest bidder, remember..?), lethal stuff goes the wrong direction. Wrong turns, bad choices, confused instructions and, above all, mind-numbingly pointless random shit that just happens.

Shit just happens.

You try to tell normal people this and they nod solemnly like they understand. But they're kidding themselves, and you. They have no idea, and because they have no idea they have no real understanding that every time they support some pencil-headed cracker ranting about "drawing a line in the sand" and "fighting them there" they're inviting all this random shit out into the daylight to kill and maim and fuck-up the people they send to do this drawing and fighting.

Anyway, that's just the Way Things Are and I have no hope that they will change or expectation they will change, but I sure wish I thought that some sort of change was possible.

And while we're on the subject, Ta-nehisi Coates has some smart things to say about the subject of police, society, and how they intersect in the same issue.

Off the subject...

I know sort of in a "I know this exists but don't really pay attention" sort of way that there are all sorts of creative-type people who produce stories and artwork based on George Lucas' Star Wars universe (largely based on my son's early fascination with the brand).

But I'd never seen these: Imperial (and Rebel) propaganda posters.


But...makes sense, right? Two factions fighting for control of the same polity...why wouldn't they have their own Office of Special Services cranking out propaganda. Whatever the Umpteieth-Century version of YouTube videos would be, pamphlets, and, of course, posters.

Cool.

So...speaking of movies and did I mention the Girl's thing with getting up early?

She's always been my light sleeper, ever since she was a tiny. Her current position is that her back bedroom creeps her out because "it's near the basement and there are spiders there". So she wakes up in the early predawn, takes her blanket, shuffles into the front room and curls up on the couch. She usually goes back to sleep (though not always, and often not deeply) so that when I wake up early - and other than Little Miss I am the earliest riser in the Little House - she is there when I get my coffee and settle on the couch to check the weather and traffic. She usually cuddles up to me and we share a quiet time until I have to get dressed for work.

Usually I turn off the television after I get the weather report. There's just not much on the damn thing, anyway, and usually even less at oh-five-thirty. But every so often I spend a moment or two channel-surfing and it was doing that this morning that I blundered across Land of Doom.


The benefits of early-morning television are subtle. For example, had I not encountered this treasure I would have been forever ignorant that in Land of Doom's post-apocalyptic hellscape the one thing everyone will have is...hair.

Lots and lots of ginormous mall hair.

Oh, and studded leather. And vehicles with bizarre, pointlessly jagged (or jaggedly pointless..?) sheet metal finials.

But mostly big hair. Maybe that's what's really in store for us after the Third World War; cannibals, studded leather, and Eighties mall hair.

Or maybe it was just the Eighties.

The best thing about this rascal was that the heroine, "Harmony", had the least-poofy mall hair of any of the leads. Her 'do was downright post-apoca-thenticly ratty looking.


The worst thing, though, was that she also had no visible acting talent, or, at best, no more than the other leads and her character was written so as to expose the worst of her liability - "Harmony" was kind of a grouchy asshole. Understandable in the rapey, leather-studded-mall-hair world of post-apocalyptic whereever, but hard to make her or the actress who played her appealing.

"Harmony"'s lack-of-anything-approaching-charisma actually got me running to IMBD and Wikipedia to track down the woman who played her and, mirable dictu, she turns out to have been a very dim Eighties sort of star; Deborah Rennard, whose claim to what-passes-for-fame is that she played "J.R. Ewing's loyal secretary Sylvia "Sly" Lovegren" (according to her Wiki entry).

Now that may be the most-Eighties-form of "celebrity" I can think of. Seriously. "One of J.R.'s secretaries on Dallas". Is that perfect, or what? Even a recurring part as one of Thomas Magnum's girlfriends or a dancer in a Robert Plant music video wouldn't have touched all the Eighties bases the way that one does. And it also kind of explains why 1) she got cast in Land of Doom in the first place and 2) why she couldn't act her way out of that post-apocalyptic paper bag. I mean..."one of J.R. Ewing's secretaries..." Roll that one around in your brain a while and consider the sort of "acting talent" it implies. "One of J.R. Ewing's secretaries..."

Fucking boxcar.

Anyway, if you're looking for some Eighties post-apocalyptic-mall-hair goodness don't overlook Land of Doom. Heads do not roll. Fingers roll. Four stars for Deborah Rennard for NOT running around the post-apocalyptic wasteland in a studded metal bikini.

Joe Bob says; check it out.

(And from my searching I note with a sort of muted regret that Ms. Rennard appears to be newly unhitched from her husband of 13 years. Girlfriend paid her dues back in '86 when she filmed this turkey, girlfriend, so I'm sorry to hear that. Ouch, Deb. Damn. Sucks. I've been there.)

And...what else do you do in the Dead Time other than watch bad Eighties flicks?

You read, of course.

So...here's what I'm reading, and some hip-pocket reviews if you're interested;

The Enemy at the Gates (Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe), Andrew Wheatcroft 2007

I picked this up to reasearch the next "battle" post, the 1683 Siege of Vienna, and IMO the NY Times review rates it higher than I would. It's not a bad general-history of the conflict between the Habsburg domains and the Ottomans between the late 16th Century and the early 18th, and Wheatcroft does a decent job of detailing the actual conduct of the siege and the engagement of 12 SEP 1683 that broke it and the Ottoman invasion of south-central Europe. He does much less well at trying to explain the complexity of the relationship between the powers and, particularly, how and why the Ottoman Empire receded in the 19th and 20th Centuries. His attempt to link the conflict to the modern troubles between the Islamic World and the West is even less realized and less successful, coming across as a hastily-tacked-on marketing gimmick rather than a thought-out coda to his historical account.

Well worth the effort, however, if you're interested in the military and political details of the 17th Century Austro-Turkish wars. And, winged hussars, man! What could be fucking cooler than winged hussars? Joe Bob says check THAT out..!
Chicacabra (Tom Beland, 2014)

One thing about drawing cartoons is that I am always on the lookout for work I like by others who draw. This little book caught my eye at my local comic shop and I have already read and re-read it a dozen times. It works on every level; as a memoir (the artist talks about how he pulled a great deal of his struggle with depression into the story) and as a valentine to his home of Puerto Rico, as an adventure, as a "horror story", and as a momento mori.

Isabel's - the heroine's - world is full of life and yet full of death; her mother is slowly dying and her father is dead. She has tried suicide before we meet her. But she can't quite escape the lively world of San Juan, her friends, her enemies, and, of course, the titular chupacabra who adopts her (or is adopted by her...) and changes everything. The story is complex and fun, the characters are lively and likeable (even the "bad guy"), and it's above all a hell of a good read.

Of course all of this would be unworkable if the artwork was poor, but Beland finds a nice balance between realism and "comic" in his linework and his composition is outstanding; the story balances his words and his pictures to move forward seamlessly. I admit; I'm a sucker for "clean" lines, and Beland's are impeccable. The rumor is that there's another in the works, and I'm already ready.

Oh...one last item...

Let me start by saying that I yield to no one in my contempt for the Worst Newspaper in the World (by the way...did I ever get around to mentioning that the Oregonian now only actually publishes a print edition something like twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays? No shit. Really. We are a "major city" without a daily paper, not that the O, with it's assload of wire-service copy and idiotic "human interest" stories was any piece of work when it did run every day...) and I like to think that I've been pretty consistent in that contempt here ever since the days of the Death Cat back in 2007.

But.
Every so often I get caught up in one of these moronic "human interest" stories. Usually it involves someone being stupid, naked, or both, but pets may be involved, too, as they are here, in the tale of Camo the Cat and The Giant Box Spring:
"Camo used to like to hide in a hole in her box spring when he was upset. Dufek didn't know that, though, because Crews had taped over the hole and shielded it with boxes when she was using the box spring.

So, when Dufek tried to be a helpful boyfriend and sell her bed while she was at work, he neglected to check for felines in the box spring.
My ass. I call bullshit; I think he was toasted. I mean...think about it. He was home selling shit on Craigslist while she was working? So, unemployed much? So loafer boyfriend smokes a big ol' bowl of now-legal-in-Oregon "Hillsboro Windowbox" and by the time he wrestles the box spring out the door and down to the buyer's car he's so fried he couldn't hear the cat if it had been meowing the fucking Anvil Chorus and hammering on a kettledrum.

Sorry. Anyway...
He realized his mistake minutes after helping the buyer strap the bed to the roof of a car. But by then, Camo was off on his unexpected adventure."
Adventure is right. This poor moggie got rocketed across the Tualatin Valley on top of some joker's car because "helpful" boyfriend sells it along with a box spring, ended up (I'm guessing) tumbling out around the airfield in Hillsboro and spending a week or so lost, frightened, and injured.

But...there's a happy ending; kitty was found and brought back to its owner who - hopefully - either gets a box spring without a cat flap or a smarter boyfriend.
Or both.

That's all I got. Hope your Dead Time is more fun and productive than mine..!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Story

Odd...this occurred to me today on the way in to work. I haven't thought of this time, and place, and the people connected with both for years. But it's Christmas time, and this is a Christmas story.

(Optional musical accompanyment to this story, The Wexford Carol with Yo-yo Ma and Alison Krauss)



More than fifteen years ago - it must have been at least that long, since I had left the company by 1999 and the company itself fell apart within another couple of years after that - the company I then worked for had its annual Christmas party. That year it was lunch at a local restaurant down along the Willamette River.

Unlike most "company parties" this really was a genuine party. We were a pretty friendly group then - this must have been some time in the early-mid-90s, before the outfit fell apart and the desertions and bickering started in earnest - we liked each other and our work, and so when the whole mob adjourned in the middle of a workday a couple of days before the holiday it was to enjoy a good meal and a pleasant time in one anothers' company. I remember it as being a very convivial afternoon.

We were sitting around after the meal, probably having drinks and inventing reasons not to go back to work, when the hydrogeologist, a woman named Nancy Speaker, began to softly sing The Coventry Carol.

I love and know that carol, and so I dropped in and sang the harmony along with her. Our voices blended well; her clear contralto and my bass-baritone dark and deep underneath, and - although we had never sang together and, indeed, didn't know each other could sing - had a fortunate ability to support each other's passage from melody to harmony and back.

We finished together. Sat, and smiled at each other, and I began Silent Night.

We proceeded to sing perhaps another half dozen or so carols. Nobody else joined in...but no one protested, either. Our co-workers quietly sat and listened, smiling pleasantly. By the time we were done the whole corner of the restaurant was watching and listening to this strange little spontaneous concert.

Try and imagine how odd that must have seemed if you'd have wandered into the midst of it; there, in that public place, with the broad river flowing winter-dark with soil outside the great window-wall below the unrelenting gray sky of the Dark Months, all those tables full of perfect strangers, gathered only through random chance - through their own seperate reasons and their own seperate lives converging there and then - sitting together listening to the voices of two other strangers rising though the silent room with the old songs of mystic birth and redemption.

When we finished there was no fuss or applause but just a long thoughtful quiet; it was as if we had not performed but had sung out loud what everyone else was feeling and thinking at that time of the year. We smiled and they smiled back and we had our last drinks and gathered our coats and left.

The oddest part was that it was that if you'd have scripted this as a scene in a Hallmark Channel Christmas film I'd have laughed it out of sight as completely, ridiculously, unreal. If you'd have suggested it to me earlier I'd have been too embarassed to have even considered doing it. But it happened, and I did, and at the time it seemed right; not just right but perfect.

And for all that it has been years and miles since that time, and place, and those people, have vanished...it is one of my most beloved Christmas moments. And for no reason other than my own sentimental remembrance of that time I wanted to share it with you.

May you all have a peaceful and joyous season.