Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's and Texas Music

We usually stay in on New Year's Eve. It's a lot drunker and more expensive out there than it is on a regular night (we went out last night for Dale Watson's Austin farewell show, so more on that later).

There are some tragic passings in the music world that happened on either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day (same day, really, if you're still up).

Eric Hilliard Nelson, AKA Ricky Nelson, died in a DeKalb, Texas plane crash on New Year's Eve, 1985. He was on his way to a gig. I sure loved Ricky Nelson, he had a voice that I can listen to all day. I saw him play live that same year for my birthday.

In 1953 on January 1st, the great Hank Williams was found dead in his limo. The weather was too bad to fly, so he got a driver. He was also on his way to the next gig. In a coincidence, his widow (Billie Jean) later married Johnny Horton, who was killed in a car crash returning from a gig in Austin. It has been said that both musicians played their last gig at the Skyline in Austin, but I don't know if that's verified on the part of Hank. I still love listening to Johnny Horton too.

In 1997 on New Year's Day, Townes Van Zandt was found dead. There is a documentary out now about him, which I blogged on before, but still haven't seen it. We are waiting to see it on DVD.

Eddie Shaver, son of Billy Joe Shaver and guitarist in his band, died on January 1st, 2000 in Waco, Texas. He was supposed to have played a New Year's gig the night before at Poodie's. Listen to this audio Fresh Air interview with Billy Joe. He talks about it a little. You can't not love Billy Joe Shaver after listening to it.

In other, less tragic news for this weekend in history, these gleaned from my History Channel link on the sidebar:

12/31/1969: Jimi Hendrix's new band debuts, the Band of Gypsies.

12/31/1947: Roy Rogers married Dale Evans.

1/1/1962: Beatles audition for London record company Decca on the same day as Brian Poole & the Tremeloes. Decca signs the Tremeloes but not the Beatles.

1/1/1863: Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation


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Friday, December 30, 2005

Movie year

Time to look back on the year and pick the "best of" things. These are the 2005 movies that we saw, all in the theatre unless indicated. At the bottom of my enjoyment list would be (in no particular order): Constantine, Revenge of the Sith, Robots, Crash, and Chronicles of Narnia.

It looks like Brokeback Mountain is headed for a Best Picture Oscar, and I would not disagree with that. It would probably be my pick too. I thought that most of these were very good (I don't go and see stuff that I think will be bad, so that eliminates a lot stinkers that would be on the list).

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
My favorites were Serenity, King Kong, War of the Worlds and Sin City. We went to the Sin City Austin Premiere (my pics from that event) at the Paramount with Robert Rodriguez and some of the stars, so that made it extra special as an experience. He taped the audience watching the Premiere and has used it on an alternate audio track on the latest DVD release, so we need to track that down.

Drama
Syriana, Walk the Line and Good Night and Good Luck are my picks (and the already mentioned Brokeback Mountain)

March of the Penguins is great. Our only documentary on the list.

Comedy and/or Animation
Wallace & Grommit, Madagascar, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Liked much better than most of the critics did:
The Island and Kingdom of Heaven

Here's a list of all the 2005 movies. I'm sure it's not 100% complete, but still pretty good, so it might help you make your own list. You can also use IMDB for a more complete list. I didn't do that, there's too much there!

This is ours, in alpha order. These are just movies released in 2005. I'm sure I've left something off:

Batman Begins
Brokeback Mountain
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
The Chronicles Of Narnia - LW&W
Constantine**
The Corpse Bride
Crash**
Good Night And Good Luck.
Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
The Interpreter
The Island
King Kong
Kingdom Of Heaven
Madagascar**
March Of The Penguins
Mr. & Mrs. Smith**
Robots**
Serenity*
Sin City
Star Wars - Revenge Of The Sith*
Syriana
Walk The Line
Wallace & Grommit - Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
War Of The Worlds*

*saw more than once in the theatre
**saw on DVD

Friday Shaved Cat


The vet certainly likes to shave these cats! Jax here had his teeth cleaned this week, and that means getting knocked out and getting an IV and catheter, recommended for older guys to keep the fluids/drugs going in and out. They sure shaved a big area on his leg there, and it will take forever to grow back since he is an over-groomer (hence the bare belly). Jax, let's see that pretty white smile! Nothing doing.

Here he is (below) when we got him back from his 2 night stay in the pet ER when he blocked (urinary tract block) a few months ago. They shaved both legs and some of his neck, poor little dude. But he's healthy and handsome in spite of the bald spots. Duncan, our other black cat, got his teeth cleaned a couple of weeks ago, so he's sporting a shaved leg like a badge of honor too.


- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Elms in the Yard on Sunday - - -

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another year, another set of broken promises.

Promises to myself mostly. New Years Resolutions = things I say that I'm going to do but in reality, if I even half-heartedly attempt to accomplish these things, the effort will be dead by January 15. These resolutions stay the same every year.

  1. Lose 5 pounds, just 5 stinking pounds. How hard can it be???

  2. Start going to those Happy Hours at the Continental Club.

  3. Round up all this junk and sell it on eBay. Did I say junk? I meant to say rare collectibles in mint condition.

  4. Stop being such a workaholic and take a whole day off once in a while.

  5. Get a job that pays better with shorter hours.

  6. Learn Spanish. How hard can it be??? I'm just desperate enough to sign up for that class for people who've taken a class and still didn't learn Spanish, aka Conversational Spanish 101 dropouts.

  7. Come up with some really clever design that will be popular and sell it on Cafepress merch.

  8. Finish making those curtains.

  9. Fix the sewing machine, and then finish the curtains.

  10. Sort the junk on those old computers and get_rid_of_them.

  11. Dust that spot right over there.


I need more TIME!!!

The Arts: Faux or Fine?

Here's a page of quizzes where you try to distinguish respected great and noble works of art, literature and music from stuff that would be considered to be crap, not exalted or respectable, or produced by an unknown. I didn't score that well on the quizzes I've tried so far. My art history classes happened too long ago, and I'm not generally one who would value every doodle that Picasso made on a cocktail napkin, just because it's Picasso (or whoever).

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jesus doesn't need flash.

My aunt sends me stuff in email, mostly fundie stuff, poems, pro-war and anti-ACLU spam, offensive racist stuff, etc. I've blogged her before, so you can get some idea of the source. Well, we may have a live one here, a real sighting! Not sure if anyone could actually sell tickets for this one, since it's a shadow (or is it???) , but I'm passing it along because she asked the recipients to do that. The text of her email follows the pic. Enjoy.


Do you see what I see?? My son called me into the bathroom after he'd taken a shower telling me there was a reflection of what looked like Jesus on the tile. (__name removed__) and I went in to look and we saw the above image. It kind of freaked us out! Now, I know the light and the way it filtered through created this image.....but why this particular image?? Terry grabbed his camera to take a picture.....the strange thing is the image didn't photograph when he used a flash.....but this is how it came out without the flash. The thought entered my mind that "Jesus is the LIGHT of the world."....doesn't need a flash.

Now, I'm not one to run after "strange sightings" etc. and I'm not sure why this happened, but there is no denying that this image was here in my house....I mean there's no denying what we three saw.....and it's pictured above. I would like some input on this. Be honest and tell me what you think. This is a little weird to me. But, then, I read in my Bible that there will be signs and wonders in the latter days. Could this possibly be a sign meant for my son? Please prayfully consider your reply. And please e-mail this to others to get their response. Thank you and may God bless us one and all.


EDIT: Thanks to J-Walk for cross-posting this. If you like these comments, there are some fun ones over there too!

EDIT 2: I just submitted this to The Carnival of the Godless for July 23 2006, which will be held at Beware of the Dogma.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Working out the bugs.

This looks like it's for real, but it's so weird it could be a spoof.

A - They are equipping these roaches with little implanted robo-backpacks, then controlling them using a remote and
B - Now their signals are getting spammed with Viagra promos.

As for whether this is good for the roaches, one of the researchers comments "They are not very nice insects." Their crime is apparently being smelly and moving their antennae in an unattractive way. Hmmmm. So what shall we say about the people doing this?

I guess if you look funny, smell funny, and are small enough to catch -- you'd best watch your back!

- - - Carnival of the Cockroaches

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Birthday Celebrations

Isaac Newton, Humphrey Bogart, Cab Calloway, Carlos Castenada, Jimmy Buffett, Sissy Spacek, Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix), Ken (the snake) Stabler, and Annie Lennox.

...and the honorary birth of these folks, most of them born to virgins: Mithra (Mithras), Jesus, Attis, Osiris, and more. Excerpt from this page. Go there for references and more.
Roman Pagan Religion: Attis was a son of the virgin Nana. His birth was celebrated on DEC-25. He was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to mankind. He died about MAR-25, after being crucified on a tree, and descended for three days into the underworld. On Sunday, he arose, as the solar deity for the new season. His followers tied an image of Attis to a tree on "Black Friday," and carried him in a procession to the temple. His body was symbolically eaten by his followers in the form of bread. Worship of Attis began in Rome circa 200 BCE.

Greek Pagan Religion: Dionysus is another savior-god whose birth was observed on DEC-25. He was worshipped throughout much of the Middle East as well. He had a center of worship in Jerusalem in the 1st century BCE. Some ancient coins have been found in Gaza with Dionysus on one side and JHWH (Jehovah) on the other. In later years, his flesh and blood were symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine. He was viewed as the son of Zeus, the Father God.

Egyptian Pagan Religion: Osiris is a savior-god who had been worshipped as far back as Neolithic times. "He was called Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods...the Resurrection and the Life, the Good shepherd...the god who 'made men and women be born again' Three wise men announced his birth. His followers ate cakes of wheat which symbolized his body. Many sayings associated with Osiris were taken over into the Bible. This included:
--23rd Psalm: an appeal to Osiris as the good Shepherd to lead believers through the valley of the shadow of death and to green pastures and still waters
--Lord's Prayer: "O amen, who art in heaven..."
--Many parables attributed to Jesus.
Worship of Osiris, and celebration of his DEC-25 birth, were established throughout the Roman Empire by the end of the 1st century BCE.

Persian Pagan Religion: Mithra was a Persian savior. Worship of Mithra became common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among the Roman civil service and military. Mithraism was a competitor of Christianity until the 4th century. Their god was believed to have been born on DEC-25, circa 500 BCE. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by gift-carrying Magi. This was celebrated as the "Dies Natalis Solic Invite," The "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun." Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He ascended to heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21.

The Babylonians celebrated their "Victory of the Sun-God" Festival on DEC-25. Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from DEC-17 to 23 in the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with a number of birth celebrations of savior Gods from other religions, into a single holy day: DEC-25. After much argument, the developing Christian church adopted this date as the birthday of their savior, Jesus. The people of the Roman Empire were accustomed to celebrating the birth of a God on that day. So, it was easy for the church to divert people's attention to Jesus' birth.

37th Street in Austin

Last year we went to The Trail of Lights, which is the official Austin light display stationed at Zilker Park. We thought it was pretty corporate, themes are standard christmas types, and we were not that impressed with it. Been there, done that, don't need to go back.

Every year we try to fit in a stroll down 37th Street (it all starts at the Groovy Lube on the corner), a place where you'll see the best lights in Austin. It all completely home-grown, as non-corporate as possible, extremely creative, and always includes artistic commentary on current events. This year (and every other time we've been there), peace signs are a major theme. I'm using small thumbnails here since there are so many pics. Click to enlarge, as always. This yard had a whole "Peace" theme, complete with peace protest march music, anti-war signs, and 2 light displays made from lights and little "cemetery" crosses.

People decorate whatever is already in the yard. Here's a motorcycle with a skull head.

Here's a peace angel metal sculpture made mostly from car parts. That red molten-looking thing is a Buddha, but the camera didn't capture it very well.

Here's a long shot of the street itself.

These next five are from the same house, the most famous decorated house on the block. Everything on the house is decorated in a very creative way, and people follow a path through the back yard that winds back out to the front on the other side. I can't begin to capture it all. Here's the beginning of the trail in the front. Those orange balls are jack-o-lanterns.

This laid-back cat was just part of the display on the porch.

The most amazing thing about this house, is the way the people have used every imaginable type of items to make light displays from. Here, for example, are strings of yogurt and Play-Doh containers.

A reminder that this is all paid for by the homeowner, as the dials on the electric meter spin away. There are clotheslines in the back where people hang money donations with clothespins.

Magicals meds and hot and cold running lights.

The house across the street from this one used to have an erupting volcano and river display. It was magnificent, really, considering that this is not Vegas or anything. Those people must have moved away because the display was not there and had something more conventional. This house put up a big ad for Golden Palace Casino for some reason.

Here's another magnificent motorcycle with pink flamingoes, and another nice pink flamingo habitat with snow made from moving lights behind a sheet.


This stove always has little action figures inside. I didn't notice what this year's theme was.

Check out the boots on this vacuum dude.

This picture really needed flash to turn out, so I messed with the levels and used filters to at least get something. It's a street musician playing the flute by a decorated stop sign.

Here's a link where you can see past displays with the Martha Stewart prison theme and Osama Bin Laden. Also some of the Barbie doll stuff.

Another annual tradition has gone foul. Ever since we played that first track from Jingle Cats Meowy Christmas (Silent Night) for our latest cat Jax, Henry has been smacking Duncan in the face. I don't know what the heck those cats are saying on the record, but it must be a less than charitable message. The track cracks me up every time though, probably because I don't speak "cat". Jingle Cats


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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Two lions, a witch, a wardrobe, a zebra, a giraffe and a hippo. Exotic locales. Penguins too.

Continuing with the movie kick here... be prepared for possible spoilers!!!

We just had to see it for curiosity's sake. I'd seen some reviews where the wonderful visual effects were mentioned, and also people being enchanted by the magic of it, even non-Christians.

Just my meaningless opinions here, but:
Visual spectacle --> OK, but didn't knock my socks off. This is not as visually stunning as The Lord of the Rings. It's just filmed in the same area, but without the magic of PJ.
Battle scenes --> tepid and uninteresting, designed not to offend children... or rather the parents of the children in attendance.
Casting and characters --> Casting was fine, I didn't get into the book much so don't have strong opinions there. The human, part-human and animal characters were very well done. Loved the Beaver couple, and the faun Mr. Tumnus. They actually had personalities. The kids are very cute, of course. The CG villains don't even look like living creatures, and don't get developed as characters. The wolves come the closest. The bad guys didn't scare me.
Plot --> I like the part about the wardrobe leading to another magical world. And to the Christian groups who burn Harry Potter books but support group viewings of this: going through a wardrobe and bursting through a wall to Platform 9-3/4 are radically different... HOW? Anyway, beyond that part, the story that goes on in that magical world is dumb, could have used a lot more subtlety and complexity. It makes me want to yell at the screen, or fling something at it.
Up against the other big fantasy/action movie of the season --> King Kong picks this little film up and smashes it effortlessly as though it were a taxicab. And since both films are going to be compared to the LOTR series, my opinion is that neither of these 2 is in the same league with those.

Today we rented Madagascar, which is a really funny and charming movie, highly recommended here! Great characters, especially those penguins! The lion's name is Alex, so that makes it even better!

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Getting cheerier by the minute.

We've been "Secret-Santa'd"! Four bottles of very nice wine in shiny bags just showed up on the front porch with no note! This could be for several reasons:
  1. Someone we know has brought them by for us, but it's really hard to think who it might be.

  2. A non-drinking neighbor has regifted to us, based on their assessment of our glass recycling items.

  3. They were mistakenly put on our porch instead of another one.

  4. Someone has watched that recent episode of Monk, where a Secret Santa poisoned a bottle of port and got rid of someone at the office party. If it's number 4 and we end up dead, call the police.

In any case, I think we will wait a few days and see if anyone shows up to claim them in a mistaken delivery. Otherwise, whoever did this... thank you very, very much!!

A red pill for the holidays.

Syriana is one of the best movies I've seen this year. I think everyone should see it, really. It's a nice big red pill to enjoy, especially during the holiday season when fantasies take over everything, including our brains.

George Clooney is my current "hero of the month" between this movie and "Good Night and Good Luck."

We also rented "Crash" recently (possible Crash spoilers ahead!!), and I would say that Syriana and Crash are both about ugly societal or political situations where everyone is to blame and nobody can change it. I personally found Crash to be a bit preachy, the characters to be somewhat cardboard (stereotyped), and the Christmas imagery does not have the same effect on me as it will on most people... so ironically my own biases are a barrier. It seems to be offering a ray of hope at the end, and my cynicism won't allow it. Crash is a good movie, I would recommend it for others, but it's not really a favorite of mine.

I did not find Syriana to be preachy, it just lays it all out and lets you decide. We just sat there during the credits, a bit stunned and still soaking things in. I need to see this one again but will wait for the DVD. That will allow more time to pick up more details and trivia, the movie is complicated but not to the point of being confusing. It gets through.

It also got us to talking about what the demise of the American Empire will be like -- whether it will be a slow crumbling or a blaze of glory. The jury is still out.

Two thumbs up for Syriana and one for Crash (my husband liked it much better than I did... it's a rarity for us to differ very much on movies and TV shows. We are scary alike in our tastes).

On a totally unrelated note, we saw Jimmie Dale Gilmore coming out of the same theatre and had seen Syriana right before us. I was tempted to go up and tell him congrats on his Grammy nom, and tell him I like the new CD but decided not to bug him. I know his guitar player and the guy who played fiddle on it, but I don't know him yet so I let politeness take over.

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Friday cats write a letter

There has to be a secret message here. Is it as simple as "Merry Xmas"? Maybe, like Fox Mulder, they are trying to signal a shady operative, or it could be the spot where the treasure is buried. More likely, it's just a spot... like the many other cat spots that have taken over all carpeted areas in the house. Also, it looks like these two could use some X-ercise. That's Duncan on the left and Henry on the right.

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Watermark on Sunday - - - -

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wildflower Lady

Happy Birthday and lots of love to Lady Bird Johnson, our wildflower and anti-billboard heroine (and so much more). She was born in 1912.

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What a concept!

Thanks to my husband for this link to this article on a country which measures "Gross National Happiness" instead of Gross Domestic Product.
Ask almost anyone in government, “How’re we doin’?” and they’ll most likely pull out a rack of financial graphs as thick as a safe deposit box and start spouting consumer spending figures, productivity statistics, and other economic mumbo-jumbo related to Gross Domestic Product. But ask the same question in Bhutan, and you’ll get a much different response. In this tiny nation, GDP has been replaced with a social barometer called Gross National Happiness, and the result is a groundbreaking experiment in better ways to measure that crazy little thing called “progress.”

Read the article...

I like the idea of it, even though I don't want to move to Bhutan.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Beauty of the Beast

Reflecting back on an earlier post from this week, I was hoping that Andy Serkis would get some Oscar consideration for fleshing out Kong. Looks like Kong himself is getting a prize from the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.
Dec. 21, 2005 Kong knocks out BFCA
By Borys Kit
Kong, the star of Peter Jackson's "King Kong," will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Performing Arts Award on Jan. 9 at the 11th annual Critics' Choice Awards gala.

The Broadcast Film Critics Assn., the group behind the event, is creating the special award to recognize "the singular achievement in creating this character, representing a revolutionary leap forward in synthesizing visual effects with an actor's performance," the BFCA said.


- - Kong is King - the website -

The longest night of the year

Today is "Midwinter", called the Winter Solstice. It has been celebrated as such for probably as long as people have been around, and the days starting to get longer certainly is reason for celebration. (Don’t give me that nonsense about this being the first day of winter. Who on earth thought that up, and by what authority? Sheeesh) Here’s a page with a nice summary of various sun, light vs. gloom holidays through the ages, with many still celebrated today... literally today.

Here are some tasty-sounding vegetarian feasting recipes. Mmmmm!!

Sun Dance painting by Mary Berning.

So Happy Solstice, Here Comes the Sun, and May the Force Be With You.
(not sure of the proper greeting. [grin])

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Give the Wookiee a cookie.

Well, this made me laugh, and laughing is good. It's got sound so be prepared. Now I'm wondering what Xmas must have been like on the Wookiee planet. I shouldn't wonder, I should just listen to The Star Wars Christmas Album (1982). Yes, it seems to be very much for real and unbelievably bad. For a review and listening goodness, go to i-Mockery.

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Pastafarian Greetings!

Here's a nice ecard you can send to open-minded friends, or to people in Kansas that you want to offend.

Also, some cool tree-toppers, either that or the cat climbed up and tore the hell out of somebody's angel.

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Minute movies

If you keep up with these, there's a new Goblet of Fire Puppet Show
and a new (to me) Serenity Puppet Show


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Monday, December 19, 2005

Shallow DVD rental review

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is really a pretty good movie. We just saw it as a rental. It's very sexy, and Brad Pitt is really funny in it. There's good chemistry between the two of them that shows on screen. The car chase is good, but the fight between them is even better. A light romantic comedy with great action, stunts and explosions. Something for everyone! Make popcorn. Build a fire... but not like the one in the picture there.

Not even surprised!

Well, even this news is lighthearted beside that last post.

Watch out History students. The Fascists are coming for your Commie library books, along with your sorry butts.

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Get out the violins!

Here comes a long one!

My annual Christmas depression is in force right now. This last week is very tough. I can’t even turn on the radio without my favorite stations playing a bunch of Christmas music. My whole life is disrupted and there’s no escape from it. I can’t wait for the morning of the 26th when everything returns to normal. That’s the day when we are furthest away from Christmas.

I have lots of bad memories from Christmases past… LOTS of them…. And without fail every year all that stuff gets dredged up and it hurts again like a whole bunch of fresh wounds. I will NEVER be able to heal, not unless I can find a Christmas-free zone, and that will never exist for me. If it’s a real physical location, I will not be going there. It’s not really a practical or realistic possibility, so I’m stuck with just trying to get through the damned thing.

The depression goes all the way back to early childhood, I figured out pretty fast I was an unloved and unwelcome guest at other people’s parties. You see, my mother was not really accepted by Dad’s family, and when she had a girl instead of a boy that deal was sealed. I was the last hope for their family name as he had a bunch of sisters and his brothers were childfree, so when I turned out female they claimed that I must be illegitimate. (I am the spitting image of him in reality). They shunned my mother and me for the most part. We always had to make those long winter car trips across the country to spend Christmas with the folks. They were long, dread-filled trips either spent listening to arguments or enduring the silent angry vibes. Once we were riding along, all three sitting on the front bench seat (remember those?), and my mother decided she’d had enough and jumped out of the moving car. Just a few bruises for her, but it had a very lasting impact on me.

She start explaining to me when I was as young as 2-3 (yes, OK, bright child and already very conversational, and I do remember this stuff and it meant something to me at the time) how they treated us, how they would, for example invite her to a gift-exchange party and instead of a beautiful gift like the others were receiving, she would be given a steel-wool scouring pad, or something of that nature. It was even gift-wrapped. I was somewhere between 4 and 6 when we made one of those winter trips to the large family gathering. He had 8 siblings and there lots and lots of cousins there. I remember seeing the most amazingly high pile of presents that I could imagine. Seemed like it was as tall as me, and must have been an 8 foot circle. The gift opening ceremony was endless!! Each child (and sometimes their parents) was called by name to open a gift – over and over—seemed like hours, and some kids were called up many times to pick up a gift. It finally got down to the bottom of the gift pile. Not one of my aunts, uncles, or even grandparents had gotten me anything. It really hurt. I was crying, of course. One of my cousins offered me one of her gifts saying that she had plenty extra, it was a huge doll nearly as tall as we were. I was touched by the offer but turned it down. It wasn’t really about going home with something. It was about being included, and I had not been.

My parents never had much money. We usually lived at the poverty level and sometimes below. There really wasn’t ever extra money for Christmas presents. One year they bought me something expensive and went way into debt for it. They were paying that thing off for probably 2 years, and I heard many of the budget discussions so I knew that it was a real hardship for them to have done that.

Shortly after that, we joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. My mother was the leader on this and my dad and I went along with it. It was a pretty big change, I now needed to be exempted from birthday and Christmas celebrations, along with saying the Pledge of Allegience (that restriction was for idolatry) and these were accomplished with notes from home and parental visits to explain in person to the teachers who didn’t understand. So Christmas celebrations went away completely for several years at our house.

After I grew up into a young adult, my mother and I had by then continued to evolve in our beliefs and had distanced ourselves from the Witnesses, but were both strong Christians. When I got on my own after high school, I starting jumping into the Christmas mood with both feet. I went hog-wild with decorations, bought my first tree, ornaments, everything down to Ho Ho Ho toilet tank cover sets. This was around the time I became an evangelical fundamentalist. I let the religion become not just a crutch, but a whole stretcher – and proud of it too, I might add. So when I talk about the attitudes of fundies, I know what I am talking about because I’ve been there --- and believe me I had to go through some serious transformations to find rationality. Another day, another blog on that one. This is already too long and getting longer. Anyway, for several years I dealt with my Christmas stress and depression by diving in – couldn’t beat ‘em so I joined ‘em. The gift-giving ceremonies were still hard though. I couldn’t go through them without all that pain flooding back in. I was at a long-term boyfriend’s house for it once, and since I was not a “real” family member I got to watch everybody open up really nice expensive gifts while I was given a handkerchief or something. I started feeling real bad (I honestly couldn’t help it, there weren’t any hard feeling toward present company) and went into the basement to cry. He followed me down there. He was really, really angry. He told me that was the LAST time he would EVER bring me over to his family’s house for Christmas. My only crime was excusing myself so I could cry in private. I really liked his family, actually. They were decent and fun people that I thought of as my own family, especially since he and I lived together. Too bad he was such as abusive, intolerant ass.

I got away from him, and found myself a husband, staying married to him for 8 years. Christmas Eve was our special day of the year. We’d spend it together (we were both working long hours so this was rare) and not allow the rest of the world to intrude. I was blissfully happy at least one day a year! (Christmas Day would be our day to visit his folks). I could tell that we are on a serious downhill slide when he invited his family over to our house one Christmas Eve. That was the first nail in the coffin of our marriage. We lasted 4 more months after that and signed the papers to end it. After the divorce, I soon met someone new and we started seeing each other exclusively right away. We’d been a couple for 7 months and practically living together (not yet officially though) when Christmas rolled around. I bought him some really nice Christmas gifts since I knew that he celebrated the holiday and had been shopping for nice gifts for his family. But not only did he not invite me to spend Christmas with him, he had neglected to get me anything – not even a card. He explained that he didn’t think we knew each other well enough to exchange gifts, and he figured I’d be spending it with my “family”. He knew that my family consisted of an invalid mother who despised Christmas and wasn’t really able to even sit up for very long, much less have a “celebration” even if one was desired. She retired to bed in the afternoon and I went home to be alone with my stupid Christmas decorations and a bottle of booze. OK, I was mad, but just hurting more than anything really. The booze got my nerve up enough to go over to the exe’s house (still technically my house too, since it was not yet sold) and drop off some gifts that I had for my ex-inlaws. I still liked them and missed them, and our breakup was quite civil. It was our first Christmas apart and was lonely. One of the weird things about divorce is that you instantly lose family members. I drove by the house and saw their cars – yes, they were there – so I hardened up and rang the bell. There were there, and so was my exe’s new girlfriend and her child. It was all “Oh come in! We’re so glad to see you!! Won’t you stay? Have some cookies! Blah blah!!” Pretty embarrassing for me. Legendary embarrassing, in fact. I dropped off the gifts and went home. Another Christmas to spend crying for being unloved, unwanted, and unwelcome.

All of those holidays were experienced as a Christian, and my current (lack of) beliefs have nothing to do with the hurt and bitterness I have about Christmas. It is for entirely different reasons. While I still believed and on through to the time of not believing, I continued to keep up certain traditions because they seem to be obligatory, such as sending out huge stacks of cards to relatives. Letting them know I'm not dead I suppose... like THEY care. I am struggling right now with myself on the Christmas card issue. It’s very hypocritical in most cases for me to send out cards to people I don’t even think about the rest of the year (and have not yet and never will “out” myself as an atheist to most of these people… there’s simply no point in it). I still participated in helping my husband come up with personal and inexpensive thoughtful gifts for his family, but for our friends I merely sent a very secular greeting (actually it was a webpage) with a very secular picture of us taken in spring. If you got that in email from me, it was heartfelt. It means I like you, enjoy your company and hope to see you soon. It also means that if you celebrate this upcoming holiday, I hope that it is happy for you, and wish you all the best in the new year. In fact, for anyone reading this… I wish that for you!

As for my part, just wish for me that I make it through to the 26th without some kind of a breakdown or bad scene. It’s been hurting for a couple of weeks now at least.

Better than a garden gnome!

I am so depressed this Christmas season, I doubt that this activity would even cheer me up! Well.... maaaaaaaybe it would. I'd get caught though. Christmas in jail would be a perfect addition to my set of Holiday memories. Arrrrgh.


found through Dave Barry's blog.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Gardening gives one time to think.

This is a very nice commentary about the nonsense going on with the imagined "war on Christmas". I have reprinted it here because the site uses frames, clicking the title bar will take you directly to The Daily Muse (where this item lives) separated from its frame, but then you will miss the rest of the site. To visit that, go to Soul of the Garden, the website of Tom Spencer and the Natural Gardener nursery. These comments don't completely match my (non-theistic) beliefs, but there's heart in it, along with a brain.
December 6 - evening

Amid the clatter of this year's holiday season, there is a lot of right-wing chatter about the "war on Christmas." No, the radio talk-show front-men of the radical right are not complaining about the crass commercialization of sacred imagery, they are painting a much more lurid picture of "secular liberals" out to destroy the celebration of Christmas altogether. For those of you not in the conspiracy circle, this is the theme du jour for the paid apologists of the right wing media. Following months of terrible news for the radical right - with no way out of the Iraq debacle in sight, treasonous actions of key administration officials being disclosed in the press, and indictments being passed out like Christmas cards, the dark side of the Republican Party is beginning to feel a bit panicked. Their response? "The liberals want to kill Santa, er, we mean Jesus!" The funny thing is the "ditto-heads" across the country are now repeating this spin as if it was straight out of the Gospels.

I do not claim to be a Christian, because I realize that I fail to live up to Jesus's ideals for human-kind, and also because I find truth and beauty outside of the Christian tradition (as well as some darkness within.) And, I do not consider myself to be a "secular liberal," even though I would probably be labeled as such by the radicals who are close to over-throwing our democracy. However, I do have a deep reverence for both Christ and the Christmas story. I am not concerned about the nativity scenes people want to put up on town squares (I'm all for that as long as the folks who put them up are willing to tolerate a menorah or two!) What does bother me is the commercial orgy that lasts for months and encourages people to spend themselves into debt to celebrate the birth of a man who denounced material posessions and wealth as hindrances to salvation. Yes, there is a war on Christmas and it is being waged by the folks buying ads on talk-radio!

I have loved the Christmas story since I was a child. I recognize in it a beauty that we can only pray is true... that God would be willing to shed his invincibility and take the form of an infant born in the humblest of spaces amid poor workers and domestic animals sheltering for the night.... that he would do this to begin a journey that would end in his own sacrifice to build a new covenant with his people, one built on a radical trust and love. It is the most beautiful of legends, something I would hope that would inspire people of any faith or belief.

No, I am not at "war on Christmas." That lie is a glittering disco ball-sized distraction, trying to steal the eyes of a frightened and worried nation away from the sight of thieves busily desecrating the temple from their darkened money-littered stalls.

Thanks to my husband (another gardener) who sent me The Soul of the Garden.
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Saturday, December 17, 2005

John Spencer/Leo McGarry R.I.P.

I am saddened by the loss of John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry on the West Wing. He was only 58! His real life apparently had some things in common with his character on the show, as for being a recovering alcoholic with a heart condition. Just 4 days before his birthday too. I know that's silly and unimportant but it's just something I noticed. His bio on IMDB says he was a gardener, and participated in AIDS charity work.

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Kong is King!

Just saw King Kong and thought it was absolutely great. Beautiful visual stuff, great music, and it's really time to nominate Andy Serkis for an Oscar. He was passed over as Gollum because he was deemed to be a CG character. In my mind (and meaningless opinion), neither of these roles are CG characters. They are great performances with CG "makeup". Naomi Watts was fantastic too, same for Adrien Brody. WOW! But as much as I like Jack Black, I thought he was a bit off, I guess it's his humor I'm missing. (check out his Easter Egg on Fellowship of the Ring extended, the bit from the MTV Movie Awards. One of the funniest things I've ever seen.) That's all I will say about that, not meaning to spoil anything. There are some GREAT action sequences here too. Peter Jackson has a cameo listed as "Gunner". You will just have to look for it. I didn't see it, but wasn't looking for it. I've been avoiding spoilers and production coverage until I'd seen it, so I hope that wasn't a spoiler for you. To us it did not seem that long (3 hours). We are Lord of the Rings nuts too, though, and those movies don't seem long to us either.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday cat - Wyatt Urp needs a bigger tent

Alex has been feeling a little better. He gets a steroid pill every other day, and is now eating dry food again and even getting his crazy hours. They're not as wild as they were before. He had a habit of leaping up on the door frame and hanging there with his claws stuck in the wood with a King Kong look on his face. If cats could roar!!! Now he just acts like he might take a notion to climb it, but he's still getting more playful and ornery (par for the course).

He still has a really gurgly belly and belchy hiccups. That will go on for the rest of his life. See these previous posts on Alex's tummy troubles. (1) and (2). And he throws up about every week, still less often than was always typical for him but more violently and with less warning. All I can say is... I love tile floors.

Here's a locally-made product (they don't use the phrase "Keep Austin Weird" for nothing) that we could really use around here. It's the "Cat Vomit Tent". It even has the Spanish on the other side in case you're dealing with los gatos.

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Music and Cats on Sunday - - -

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Breaking News from Bugwump!

DESPERATE HOUSEFLIES!
BUGWUMP, N.J. - "Marital strife among bugs has reached a peak"


Oh! I love these guys! I used to say that working for the Weekly World News was my dream job! Coming up with crazy crap and photoshopping fun stuff! Then somebody anthraxed them after 9-11. Now who would do that to a bunch of people who just provide us with a few giggles? Sorry-assed creep! Did they ever really solve that one? Last I heard it was thought to be domestic terrorism, but I don't know how it turned out. I seriously doubt that Iraq had anything to do with it though... you know?

Way to go, Spitzer!


"A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope reveals billowing mountains of dust ablaze with the fires of stellar youth."

Yup! That's a right purdy picher.

Also sounds like the writers over at nasa.gov have tried their hand at romance novels. Whew! Click title bar for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Smooth news. Smooth brain.

Click the title bar to visit.

Gee, I think it would be nice just to be given something truthful, warts and all. Positive spin is still spin. Happy news for one person will be sad news for another one. This "upbeat all the time" concept makes me nauseous, but then I am a bit of a curmudgeon. Is a half-truth still the truth? Interesting question.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mean People Suck

There are lots of people in this town who are homeless and mainly live by carrying a cardboard sign asking for $$ and walking up and down a busy median. I saw one yesterday that really got to me. It said “Got away from abusive man. Trying to live in woods (with cat)”. I gave her a $5. It takes a lot of guts to get the hell out of a situation like that, especially since you have to leave behind your shelter and all your stuff... plus she got her cat out of it. (Of course I am making that assumption. I didn’t conduct an interview while the light was red) I used to live with an abusive asshole. It was a long-term relationship and it took years to actually get out of it, plus I will never actually get over the bitterness and after-effects. He once threw my new kitten across the room and it hit the wall (scratch off one life, she stayed with me and lived to be 14). Jealous of a damned kitten, and would have killed it to spite me. I’m 100% sure of it. Probably would have killed me too. He’s still out there, and I will never really feel safe until I see his obit, or that he’s been sent to prison (he always expressed a desire to kill somebody or another, and also enjoyed stealing stuff). That’s because he is a stalker. I got a drunken phone call from him 10 years ago, and that was after 14 years of thinking I was free of him. He had kept tabs on me for all that time, and still seemed to think that I was his property. His mother lives in Houston and he might also live there. Too close for me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Have a "fill in the blank" "fill in the blank"

Scott Simon delivered a nice commentary (listen to it at this link: And So This Isn't Christmas?) on Weekend Edition Saturday, all about the right-wing fundie furor over the Bush’s holiday card (Geez, I never thought I’d be rooting for Laura Bush on something), and about the various boycotts and protests going on over the use of the term “Merry Christmas”, and the general manner in which the holiday is celebrated. One little quote from it:
I guess if you want your children to learn the story of Christmas, you just might have to take them into a church, not a Wal-Mart.

World O’Crap
has been doing some good watchdog stuff on the American Family Association, Jennifer Giroux and others. Hell!! I'm afraid now that my secular greetings are going to offend someone!

Hmmm, well if you want to have a merry xmas, go right ahead, as long as you don't mind if I just have a few nice days off from work. That's called a "holiday" in my book, and on my calendar.

I’m one of those people who enjoys a certain amount of political correctness. It’s respectful and it's an attempt at not offending. I will agree that it goes overboard occasionally but that’s no reason to just throw it out. Moderation is the key here, just like it is with many things, and besides, everyone has their own personal lines drawn on what offends them and what doesn’t so you basically can’t please everybody all the time. Here’s something I got from a joke mailing list, and I enjoyed it even though it pokes fun at me here and there.
The Twelve Politically Correct Days Of Christmas

On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival, my significant other in a consenting adult, monogamous relationship gave to me:

TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming,

ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note),

TEN melanin deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping,

NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-_expression,

EIGHT economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved Bovine-Americans,

SEVEN endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands,

SIX enslaved Fowl-Americans producing stolen non-human animal products,

FIVE golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration,

(NOTE: after members of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further Animal-American enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.)

FOUR hours of recorded whale songs

THREE deconstructionist poets

TWO Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses and...

ONE Spotted Owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.

Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Good Kwanzaa. Blessed Yule. Oh, heck! Happy Holidays!!! (unless otherwise prohibited by law)*

*Unless, of course, you are suffering from Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD). If this be the case, please substitute this gratuitous call for celebration with suggestion that you have a thoroughly adequate day.

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Get Back.

What’s up with Joe Lieberman?

And what ever happened to having a president who was quotable because of the wisdom of his remarks instead of the stupidity of them?

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

"Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star", 149
May 7, 1918

Theodore Roosevelt quotes

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Music weekend

Went to see Glen Phillips (formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket) at the Cactus Cafe Friday. We always enjoy Glen, he's a great songwriter and singer. His stuff is melodically beautiful and the lyrics are though-provoking. He always has a lot of left-wing political comments thrown in here and there in the banter, and some of his music has somewhat political themes. Usually the atmosphere at the Cactus is very well-behaved and reverent toward the music (even the bartenders clink quietly), but this time there was one guy who voiced very loudly a rude and mean-spirited comment, "It's not the government's job to take care of poor people!", followed by a round of "boos". Glen responded with "then why HAVE a government? Oh yeah, so it can go to war and kill people". It was a stunningly rude heckle and very surprising, I wouldn't think that Glen's music would attract ultra-right-wingers. Of course, anything is possible when it comes to music, and it's more likely that the guy got dragged there by a date or a wife, and decided it was OK to ruin the experience for others just because maybe he wasn't having the best time of his life. Asshole.

Well, the Cactus is not known for bar fights, so the show continued, and it was a really good. Glen comes here several times a year and we see him maybe twice. Check out Glen sometime.

Saturday it was Del Castillo at Antone's. (pics here) Del Castillo is about the best live band in the world. They are just stunningly good, and this was an exceptionally good show even for them. It got really crazy there at the end. Usually Mark and Rick stand up on their folding chairs and play, and Mark adds the "behind the head" feat to this, but this time the tech hoisted Rick up on his shoulders, so I was glad we didn't have to catch all those people! They were videotaping it for some future use, and there was a camera on me most of the night. I expect to get about one second of screen time out of it. They love to film the novelty dancing old ladies, there are all ages of hard-core fans there but I seem to attract attention and end up in people's videos. Could it be because of being front and center? Ohhhh, maybe that's it. DC is going to be doing a House of Blues tour around the country with Styx (of all people, weird combo but not something to turn down at this point)!

Sunday (today) Eric Johnson had a DVD and CD signing over at Borders so we went over and said Hi and got our new ACL disks signed. Look for some Electromagnets Reunion shows in February. More about those when it's closer to time. The weather has turned perfect again as though the ice never existed.

I'm tired today and should be working on my freelance work and here I am putting up concert pics and blogging! Sheesh. I'm worthless.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

The Greencards' van accident, all OK.

OK, I feel really bad now, after ranting on and on about people needing to toughen up for our little mild winter, and now my friends have had an accident on the ice -- their van skidded off the road and rolled over several times. They are all fine, other than some bruises, etc. Even the instruments made it through. All very, very lucky, and I am so relieved! It was about 3 AM and they were leaving the gig in Bryan TX. This is after having to drive through that terrible midwestern snowstorm to get to Texas from Oregon. If you go and see them this week, give them some extra applause.

I hate ice.

There is a press release posted here.

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I can deal with this, but can't swim in Barton Springs. Now THAT's cold!

Austin has about 4-5 days of real winter a year, and by that I mean it freezes, gets ice, or maybe even snow (which will be gone the next day). On Wednesday, we had some light precipitation, then the temperature dropped below freezing so anything that was wet got ice on it. In town it got down in the 20s, and colder in some places with some wind chills in the teens. There was a thin sheet of black ice on the bridges. There was massive freakout, of course. People do not understand temperatures below freezing around here, nor do they understand ice. Most people don't have scrapers for the windshield, and there were hundreds of car wrecks, including lots of people with their cars wedged impossibly in ditches.

People in the media, local news & weather on TV and radio, keep calling it an "ice storm". There was even a fancy news graphic that said "ICE STORM" for crissake!! There was wetness, ice formed in some places, and a little more icy precip came down. It really just froze on bridges and where there was standing water. This was NOT an ice storm. An ice storm is RAIN that freezes or comes down as ice, then weighs down everything with about a quarter inch layer of heavy ice. Anyway, the town shut down, businesses and schools closed, (I got a day and a half off!). I drove up and down MOPAC and through town. The bridges were covered in a thin layer of black ice (they don't salt the streets like they do margaritas), but the rest of the trip was dry roads and just fine. It was below the freezing point for 24 hours, so there's something they can talk about for awhile. I even wore my warmest coat, but today I don't need it, and it should be back in the 60s in a few days.

I enjoy visiting these blogs for real winter coverage, people are even hiking and riding bikes in it!! Now that's rugged. Also, I'd rather look at these beautiful pictures and read about these adventures than do it myself. I can live the rest of my life without ever seeing snow or ice in person again.

Up in Alaska, 75 degrees south, Pajama Library

tags: - - -

Friday Cat Table Manners



We put these heart-shaped bowls and cat carving on the table to take up space and keep the cats off the placemats. As you can see, we are not making the final decision on the placemat policy. If you're cute enough, like Henry above, you can get away with almost anything.


Duncan and Jax following a bad example and getting away with it. I think there is room for one or two more cats at the table. What do you think?


- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Quite Early One Morning on Sunday - - -

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Who do you think you are? Einstein?



hee hee!

Locals get Grammy noms

By local I mean Austin, Dripping Springs, San Marcos, Luchenbach, etc.... there are plenty more Texans on the list and I can't begin to keep track of all of them, so I didn't even try. Also, I'm sure I missed some. (EDIT 12/12: Waterloo Records has compiled a list of Texan nominees, and they will be happy to sell you some!)(EDIT 2: they forgot Toby Keith! heh heh. I won't tell them if you don't)
5. Female Pop Vocal Performance: "It's Like That," Mariah Carey; "Since U Been Gone," Kelly Clarkson; "Good Is Good," Sheryl Crow; "I Will Not Be Broken," Bonnie Raitt; "Hollaback Girl," Gwen Stefani.
OK, Sheryl Crow... a new Austinite, she and Lance have supposedly set up housekeeping here. She's here for love, so welcome Sheryl. I know they both undoubtedly have houses all over the world.
7. Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal: "Don't Lie," The Black Eyed Peas; "Mr. Brightside," The Killers; "More Than Love," Los Lonely Boys; "This Love," Maroon 5; "My Doorbell," The White Stripes.
Los Lonely Boys made it in Austin. They wouldn't have made it without Austin and we still love them here and wish them the best of everything (myself included). It's very odd that their official bio doesn't even mention this town by name. Very odd. We claim them, and we should, but I'm not so sure the reverse is true. I'm just sayin'...
10. Pop Instrumental Album: "At This Time," Burt Bacharach; "Bloom," Eric Johnson; "Naked Guitar," Earl Klugh; "Belladonna," Daniel Lanois; "Flipside," Jeff Lorber.
My beloved Eric Johnson gets another Grammy nom! He's gotten nominated for each studio album and one live one since (and including) Ah Via Musicom, where he won one for Cliffs of Dover. My favorite guitarist, and a native in this town! Go EJ!
11. Pop Vocal Album: "Extraordinary Machine," Fiona Apple; "Breakaway," Kelly Clarkson; "Wildflower," Sheryl Crow; "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," Paul McCartney; "Love. Angel. Music. Baby.," Gwen Stefani.

37. Male Country Vocal Performance: "Funny How Time Slips Away," George Jones; "As Good As I Once Was," Toby Keith; "Midnight Communion," Delbert McClinton; "Good Ol' Boys," Willie Nelson; "Alcohol," Brad Paisley; "You'll Think of Me," Keith Urban.
Willie Nelson! Why don't we just go ahead and name our highways and put up the statue while the man is still with us? Does the person HAVE to die first? There are a bunch of Texans on that list too, not that I'm eager to claim Toby.
38. Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal: "Comin' to Your City," Big & Rich; "Play Something Country," Brooks & Dunn; "I Hope," Dixie Chicks; "Restless," Alison Krauss and Union Station; "Bless the Broken Road," Rascal Flatts.

39. Country Collaboration With Vocals: "Building Bridges," Brooks & Dunn, Sheryl Crow & Vince Gill; "Shelter From the Storm," Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris; "Like We Never Loved at All," Faith Hill & Tim McGraw; "Dreams Come True," Willie Nelson & Norah Jones; "Politically Uncorrect," Gretchen Wilson & Merle Haggard.

41. Country Song: "Alcohol," Brad Paisley, (Brad Paisley); "All Jacked Up," Vicky McGehee, John Rich & Gretchen Wilson, (Gretchen Wilson); "Bless the Broken Road," Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna & Marcus Hummon, (Rascal Flatts); "I Hope," Keb Mo, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines & Emily Robison, (Dixie Chicks); "I May Hate Myself in the Morning," O. Blackmon, (Lee Ann Womack).
Dixie Chicks! Fantastic! Natalie just lives a few miles down the road, and the others I think just a few more miles. I Hope is a really great song.
55. Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Album: "Live at Brooklyn Tabernacle," The Crabb Family; "Sing Their Family Gospel Favorites," Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers; "Rock of Ages ... Hymns & Faith," Amy Grant; "Southern Meets Soul: An American Gospel Jubilee," The Jordanaires, The Light Crust Doughboys, Nokie Edwards & Larry "T-Byrd" Gordon; "Common Thread," The Oak Ridge Boys.
Larry Gatlin is local but you'd never really know it. It's not like he shows up in the same places I do. I really liked his stuff back in the 80s, but pretty much over it.
65. Traditional Blues Album: "Live! Down The Road," Marcia Ball; "In Your Arms Again," John Hammond; "80," B.B. King & Friends; "Sweet Lovin' Ol' Soul," Maria Muldaur; "About Them Shoes," Hubert Sumlin.

67. Traditional Folk Album: "Live From Dublin - A Tribute To Derek Bell," The Chieftains; "Come On Back," Jimmie Dale Gilmore; "Fiddler's Green," Tim O'Brien; "Live In The UK," Tom Paxton; "Cajun Mardi Gras!" Jo-EL Sonnier.
Marcia Ball! You go, girl! Love Marcia, she will make you dance your socks off. Her sound is very New Orleans, lots of Texas soul added.

I just bought that Jimmie Dale Gilmore CD and really like it. I was raised on those songs just like he was. Congrats to Jimmie Dale!

As for my own status, I'm told that I will need to live here about 15 years before I am really accepted as an Austinite, so I've got about 10 more. It helps to invest a little heart and soul into the experience too. People respect that, and it looks good on your application for citizenship! heh heh...

EDIT: I should add that some people only go by where you're born, and that's all there is to it. Let's just say I don't agree with that philosophy.

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December 8, this day in history

Again, I am mystified by that little "Today in History" (from Brainy History) doodad I have on my blog's sidebar. On November 22, it failed to mention that 11/22 was the day that JFK was assassinated. It did, however, mention that LBJ took the oath of office to become President.

Now today, it fails to mention that December 8, 1980 was the day that John Lennon was assassinated. It does mention that on 12/8/1980 the Bravo Network premiered on cable TV (and what a day to begin something!!) and that on 12/8/1984 Ringo appeared on SNL.

Very odd. Am I seeing a trend here? Are they spinning something, or just can't bear to report an assassination? Maybe just a domestic one. Now I'm curious.

The other link over there on the sidebar from the Library of Congress seems fairly unbiased although more limited in scope but more expanded in the coverage of material.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

100 Things


I snagged the graphic from engrish.com. I finally got around to coming with a 100 things. Might be too-much-information. Sorry about that in advance, but here goes:

Why Blueberry?

1. The moniker Blueberry is inspired by my little Blueberry iBook, my first laptop...
2. ... I am a recovering Moody Blues fan, a fandom with lots of blue things...
3. ... my eyes are dark blue, same color as Elijah Wood...
4. ...and my mother's eyes were the same color, but I've only seen it a couple of other times.
5. It gets mistaken for a fake color. It's not.
6. ...and my car is blue and matches my eyes...
7. ...and my first post on this blog that refers to an article calling Austin a "blueberry in the ketchup".

Love-Hate Trivia

8. My favorite color is... PURPLE.
9. My favorite food is peppers.
10. My favorite drink is wine.
11. I hate yams, sweet potatoes, or whatever you want to call them, especially candied.
12. I hate maraschino cherries.
13. I hate the smell of cigars.
14. I cannot/will not live in the same house with a motorcycle... not again.
15. I hate engaging in sports and enjoy watching an extremely limited list of sports events.
16. I would never bungee-jump, but enjoy roller coasters.
17. The worst job I ever had was doing laundry in a nursing home.
18. I am a Leo-Virgo cusp, born on the full moon (also on the cusp).
19. I like chorale (or choir) music but not opera.

Who? What? Where? Why?

20. I was born on an Air Force Base in Arizona.
21. ...while my parents lived in a little red trailer.
22. One of their nicknames for me was Desert Rat.
23. One of my kid nicknames was Polio.
24. It's because I told Grandpa's neighbor that I had polio, but I didn't. So he started calling me that.
25. I am an only child.
26. My parents are both dead.
27. I didn't have children.
28. I am childfree by choice. Not everyone is meant to be a parent.
29. Besides Texas, I have lived in Hawaii,
30. Florida,
31. Colorado,
32. New Mexico,
33. Illinois,
34. Greece,
35. Missouri,
36. and Arizona.
37. I lived in some of those places 2 to 3 times.
38. I lived in Missouri for 27 years.
39. I was a High School dropout, but eventually went back and graduated.
40. I did not attend the graduation ceremony, but watched from a nearby burger joint.
41. This was mostly due to lack of funds required for the ceremony.
42. I got my Bachelor's Degree at 40.
43. I have never had a best friend who considered me to be his or her best friend. They always had at least one other person they were closer to.

Critters and Quirks

44. I love animals and have almost always had pets.
45. My weirdest pet ever was a de-scented skunk named Sweet William. Skunks should not be kept as pets, nor should they be de-scented.
46. I love grackles...
47. ...and no... not for dinner.
48. I am arachnophobic. Do not scare me with spiders. It won't be funny and I won't like you anymore.
49. I am a cat-person.
50. We have 4 clawed, male, 100% indoor previous alley/shelter cats.
51. I can't ride a bicycle, swim, roller skate, ice skate, water ski or snow ski.
52. This is due to an unnamed phobia that brings on episodes of panic when I try these things.
53. The phobia has something to do with not knowing how to use the brakes, and not being able to learn while panicking.

Cousins, Relatives and TMI

54. In High School, my male cousin and I went to see A Clockwork Orange dressed as droogs.
55. This same male cousin once used my picture ID to get into bars. They obviously didn't look closely at either one.
56. Kevin Costner is my second cousin, once-removed.
57. Yes, THAT Kevin Costner.
58. No, I have never met him, and don't expect to.
59. My first boyfriend was my first cousin.
60. Our parents did not object, even though I was only maybe 14, he was in the Army, and then there was that cousin part of it.
61. It was never consummated.
62. I have (or used to have) between 30 and 35 first cousins. I don't really know a lot of them.
63. I have lost touch with most of my relatives, and have to google them to see if they are still alive.
64. I do not believe in the existence of races of people, just the human race. The rest of it is simply inherited traits and family resemblance.
65. I am not romantic in the typical sense.
66. I dislike being given flowers as a romantic gesture.
67. I also dislike those serious romantic cards. Go for humor!!
68. My mother was going to marry me off to a Greek boy when I was 13 so he could get a green card.
69. It didn't happen only because the US govt. said it wouldn't work.

Fangirl

70. The Harry Potter character I relate to most is Luna Lovegood.
71. I would be sorted into Ravenclaw.
72. I would NOT try out for Quidditch.
73. My Simpsons character is Lisa Simpson.
74. I qualified as a real-life Lisa on lisasimpson.net
75. My Lord of the Rings character would be Frodo.
76. My first celebrity crush was John Lennon,
77. followed shortly by Brian Jones.
78. Both died prematurely, one was murdered and the other was probably murdered.
79. In real life I hate violence and weapons, esp. guns...
80. ...but in movies and TV I like action, fantasy and Sci-Fi.
81. My first concert without a parent was Herman's Hermits.
82. I went to school for awhile with Dan (Hoss) Blocker's daughter, Danna. It was in Greece. She looked like him.
83. I also went to school with Shawn Colvin in Carbondale...
84. ...and in Sarasota with Pee Wee Herman. I didn't knowingly meet either of them at the time.
85. As a kid I was a huge fan of the Mercury and Gemini astronauts.
86. I have lots of books on the Kennedy assassination.
87. I also have lots of books on UFOs.
88. Marty Robbins held me in his arms onstage when I was a toddler.
89. When I met Chuck Berry at 16, he put his arm around me and grabbed my butt.
90. Rare concerts: I saw Jimi Hendrix at the Atlanta Pop Festival.
91. I also saw Janis Joplin there...
92. ...and Duane Allman with the Allman Brothers.
93. I saw the Rolling Stones from front row in 1969...
94. ...and King Crimson with Greg Lake.

This and That

95. I have never voted for a Republican.
96. I don't eat or wear animals.
97. I'm an INTP, and strongly introverted and intuitive.
98. I was a Christian until 10-12 years ago.
99. I am now an atheist, and attend church as a Unitarian Universalist.
100. People who need people are NOT the luckiest people in the world.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Whaddya think, Mr. Obvious?

Well, as they say on fark (and probably did), "Still no cure for cancer."

I wonder how much money is spent on studies like these?