Went to the Mall again this year. Ray was a baby kitty, and I was the momma kitty.

The best costume this year was mother wearing shepherdess costume (with crook), and toddler wearing sheep outfit. Little Bo Peep!


A friend of ours we haven't seen in a while (but who emails Lee) called and left a message: "Come over, we're moving to Iowa tomorrow." Oh, and didn't leave his PHONE NUMBER! And the old one is dead, and despite repeated requests through Lee hasn't given us his new one, and only the old one is listed online, and his daughter is Ray's first friend ever, and WAAAAAAH!


Manga du Jour

Check out Monster, by Naoki Urasawa.*

What can I say without giving away the plot? It's, uh, about a serial killer. And a doctor, accused of murder, who dedicates himself to tracking down the real murderer and killing the killer himself. About two mysterious kids. Neo-Nazis. Hospital politcs. Psychology. It goes on.

For those who aren't into manga, this really doesn't come across as manga. For one thing, the art reminds me more of Terry Moore, the creator of Strangers in Paradise, than anything else. The doctor's ex, it's like looking at a ghost. For another thing, there aren't seven million references you won't get, since the story's set in Germany rather than Japan. There are even a couple of western references that crack me up: the head of the investigation looks remarkably like a twisted version of Sherlock Holmes.

What makes it stand out? Great plot, very nearly four-dimensional characters, lots of tension. And moral quandries. Lots of moral quandires.

*(This means Dave.)

Smut & Politics

Hm...be upset about the fiction of James Webb, the Democratic challenger to Virginia Republican Senator George Allen's seat, which supposedly demeans women, or be upset that Webb's fiction is being taken for his personal treatment of women? Wait! Wait! I need to know whether Webb's books support gay marriage before I can decide!

Here's my overgeneralization of the politics of the moment:

Republican: Lots of conviction. Unable to grasp the principal that the ends don't justify the means. Unable to cope with the fact that a lot of the problems we're dealing with now come from the bed Regan made. How is it that trickle-down economics isn't supposed to lead to immegration problems, overseas outsourcing of US jobs, and corporate corruption now?

Democrats: No conviction. All self-righteousness and no chutzpa to back it up. Impeach the bastard for or I won't vote for you guys either. Get it? The Republicans tried to get Clinton out for lying about S-E-X. You can't get your act together to even try to push Bush out of office for all the crap he's pulled. Or even to stop a torture bill. O woe is me my butt!

Or maybe I'll just quote John Grisham:

"This is a clear sign of a desperate campaign. ... I seriously doubt George Allen is much of a reader, but if he would read more, maybe he would understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction."


Battlestar Galactica

I watched a little bit of the first season with Lee the other day. I don't think I can watch too much more of it...good stuff, but too dang painful. I just wondered, does this remind anybody else of the Phil K. Dick story, "The Second Variety"?

More Snow Day...?

The base was still closed until 10 a.m. and remains closed to non-Mission-Essential personnel. My boss is still trying to determine whether we're essential or not. You hate me now, don't you?

The utility co. reports about 15,000-20,000 customers in Colorado Springs were without power yesterday.





Coincedence. This arrived in my mailbox this morning:

Word of the day:...........'nevar' [neh-BAR]
English translation:.......to snow

Other meanings: 'poner blanca una cosa' - to whiten


Las nubes cubren el cielo y empieza a nevar.
The clouds cover the sky and it begins to snow.

(via Spanish Word-A-Day.)


Lee took pity on me and finished Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith this morning. I swear I read more books in a month than he does in an entire year...

Wintersmith is part of the Tiffany Aching JV series. Tiffany is a young witch, living on the Chalk Hills (nowhere near Lancre). The first book, Hat Full of Sky, shows Tiffany at age 9; Wee Free Men shows her at 11. She's 13 now...not a lucky number. She inadvertantly got herself mixed up with the Wintersmith, the spirit of winter, who thinks she's an avatar of the Lady of Summer that he can finally get his elemental hands on, well, once he figures out how to make hands.

The book is great up to the ending, which doesn't have the same power as Pratchett's best books (the end of Thud!* was awesome). It isn't a big failing, just not up to what I'd been hoping for. It's almost like he ran out of wordcount...not badly plotted, just...rushed.

The thing that gets to me, though, is that this series (as with Pratchett's other JV series) is a kind of anti-stupid instruction manual for kids. That is, anti-stupid up to the point where sometimes things flip around and you have to do something stupid, because that's what has to be done. In this book, Tiffany is watching the Other Morris Dance (the one that welcomes in the winter), when her feet get the best of her and drag her into the dance...after she's been told not to do it. Tiffany says she didn't mean it, but the other witches laugh at her for not taking responsibility for herself. The rest of the book is Tiffany learning how to take responsibility for what happens, even if "it isn't her fault" or "it isn't her job." And how to say no to unwanted advances, also a useful thing to know.

Entertainment for girls has changed from "support other people" to "take leadership; be powerful." Wintersmith's message is "be yourself, but take responsibility for yourself, too." Much more useful, I think.

* How Not to Be Stupid about War for Adults

Power Innage!

The power went out...nine-ish, came back on about...three-ish? We watched tree branches fall down at the house across the backyard. Crunch! I lay down in front of the fireplace for a nap, woke up with the sunshine in my face...woke up again when the fishtank started splashing...

A day off just isn't the same when your spouse can't play World of Warcraft. (Ray went outside and pelted us with snowballs.) One of our neighbors spend a while this morning knocking snow off his birdhouses and the lower branches of his trees...I think his wife chased him outside. On the plus side, Lee shoveled the sidewalk, and you know that wouldn't have happened without a remote-control robot otherwise.


New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions

Fair's fair.

Holiday for interracial couples--"Loving Day" Interracial marriages were made legal across the U.S. in 1967. I remember arguing with a guy during college about it, though. He said it was wrong to have interracial kids, because they'd be treated like freaks. I got treated like a freak at times, growing up white next to a reservation. I got treated like a freak for being smart! What, were my parent supposed to break up and date stupid people to balance each other out? Was I supposed to grow up somewhere else, so I'd never get a taste of what it was like to be pushed around because of my race?

Kids that come from same-sex marriages will be treated badly. They already are. But, like the rest of us who have survived freakdom, they'll be all the more interesting for it.


If death holds no fear for the true Buddhist, why be vegetarian?

(Be vegetarian if you like: I often eat that way myself. It's lighter on resources, cheaper, healthier if managed well, and delicious. But eating vegetarian doesn't guarantee that you're not harming animals (encroached habitat, pesticides) or saving the environment (pollution caused by shipping, processing, packaging). Not eating meat is not equivalent to righteousness.)

Snow day! Snow day!

The base is closed! The base is closed!



Taking a Borders survey in exchange for a $10 gift card. How much do you spend on new books yearly? How am I supposed to figure that out?!? I ask Lee.

He says, "Just pick the highest amount."





Cold Medicine

Check your cabinets. The request to remove Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) went out in 2000, and I still found the stuff in my medicine cabinet. Kids cold medicine. Yeesh.


Think of the Day.

Why write? To entertain, to educate...vague things. For me, writing is about answering "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Why not just wit yourself to death?

Politically Correct

I liked it better when being politically correct meant you were polite to people you used to get to be rude to, rather than refraining from despising people who support torture.


Van Von Hunter

Sad to say, this is right on my level...

"You and your accomplice have been found guilty of the murder of the Evil Count Disdain."

"Murder? But he was already dead!"

"Technically, he was undead."

"Well, I just made him 're-dead.'"

Remember, remember...

The first of November.

NaNoWriMo is on the way!



Why do people have theme rooms? What do they mean?

Someone at work rose the idea that women have a favorite animal that is used for decor. For example, this guy's wife collects chickens. (Couldn't help giggling.) I don't have such an animal, but I'm usually off the norm on girly things, so I asked around. The people I talked to didn't have animals, either, but they brightened when the idea was broadened to "theme rooms." Lots of women decorate with foreign locations--either places they'd been, would like to go, or had some kind of genetic significance. I, myself, want to do the kitchen with a cross between Hispanic and Greek influences (pine and teal, pine and teal). I'm not sure whether it's a good idea yet...


Quick Updates

Friday: See below.
Saturday: Lee had to work OT. Ray's new bunkbed-futon-couch thingy arrived. The workmen set it all up in under an hour--definitely the way to go.
Sunday: Went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with Randy and Ray for a Ray birthdayish outing. Ray grinned from ear to ear practically the whole time. Checked out the new Tattered Cover nearby; ate good gyros.
Monday: ACK! People out at work, ended up getting home at 8 p.m. MUST BAKE CAKE to take to day care tomorrow...
Tuesday: Ray's 5th BIRTHDAY!


An Abbatoir

Randy was telling me about Dr. Henry Holmes (Herman Webster Mudgett) today, and I had to look him up. Reminds me of that Monty Python sketch...Masons!


Ponder Me THIS!

The Japanese have a festival just to watch cherry blossoms. So tell me...where the hell are the Japanese recipes for cherries?

Black Cat Books

Lee and I took the day off yesterday and messed around. We found a house with two sphinxes in front and a gigantic iron birdbath...we found a German deli with Happy Hippopotomus candy...we found Black Cat Books.

Black Cat Books is a hole-in-the-wall bookstore up in Manitou Springs. The part of the place that's upstairs holds kids books, a wine bar, and a couple of coffee pots (donations, please). Most of the books are downstairs.

There's not really any rhyme or reason to the books. A copy of Asimov's Foundation omnibus sat next to The Secret Life of Bees. Couches, overstuffed chairs, a dining-room table, and a window nook padded with pillows provided almost as many places to sit as there were racks of books. A den of books.

Next door--only to be accessed through the bookstore--is a metaphysical shop. Native American, Buddhist, and Christian influences sit side-by-side. I found a teal-and-pine spice rack decorated with turtles that I'd like at some point. A spiritual-healing room dedicated to the Archangel Michael. A painted meditation maze on the floor.

Altogether, an odd but enjoyable place. We picked up a used Agatha Christie paperback, Amy Tan's Saving Fish from Drowning, and Tom Robbins's Jitterbug Perfume. Very Manitou Springs.


Something I've wondered over the last year or so: do serial killers have a function? Or are they an unfortunate concentration of traits that add up to monstrosity? Or did serial killers once have a function, which they now no longer serve?

It's another way of restating free will vs. predestination, I guess. Because if people who become serial killers have or once had a function that somehow benefitted the species (or a group within the species) as a whole, then they are somehow predestined to do the things they do (as are we all).

What personality tests do is say, "This is who you are. This is what you should be doing with your life. This is your function."

But it's one thing to try to assign everyone a blanket purpose in their lives, and it's another to try to find a purpose for child molesters, rapists, murderers...


Life Path.

Where do the little piggly-wigglies of my soul lead me?

Your Life Path Number is 9

Your purpose in life is to make the world better.

You are very socially conscious and a total idealist.
You think there are many things wrong with the world, and you want to fix them.
You have a big idea of how to world could be, and you'll sacrifice almost anything to work towards this dream.

In love, you can easily see the beauty in someone else. And you never cling too tightly.

You are capable of great love, but it's hard for you to focus your love on one person or relationship.
You have a lot of outward focus, and you tend to blame the world for your failures.
You are often disappointed by the realities of life - it's hard for you to accept the shortcomings of the world.
Okay, this would be uplifting and all, but I looked up John Wayne Gacy, and he had life-path number nine as well.

(via BD)

Agatha Christie of the Day

I got another one! Nemesis is mine! Muahahahaha!


Slang of the Day.

Boy Howdy

Southern slang. An interjection. Often used as an expression of surprise for large quantities of something, or severity of something. See yessum."Boy howdy! Them pumpkins sure are big! How're we gonna carry 'em all, Ms. McGregor?"

"Boy Howdy" was the favorite expression of Lee Majors as Heath on "Big Valley."

(via Urban Dictionary.)


Oh, Deanna!

(First link not so safe for work; second link to the rest of the lyrics. Apparently, my namesake is part of a serial killer team.)

O Deanna!
Sweet Deanna!
You know you are my friend, yeah
And I ain't down here for your money
I ain't down here for your love
I ain't down here for your love or money
I'm down here for your soul

Cultural ???

I discovered that most of the people in my office have no idea who Arlo Guthrie is, and when I sang the chorus of Alice's Restaurant, looked blank.

I'm not a huge Arlo Guthrie fan or anything, but dang. Woodie Guthrie? Don't make me laugh...now is not the time to be singing This land is your land...


Legends of St. Nick

Can't use it in an article? Put it in your blog!

From Wikipedia:

Another legend tells how a terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, only to kill and slaughter them and put their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also managed to resurrect the three boys from the barrel. Another version of this story, possibly formed around the eleventh century, claims that they were instead three clerks who wished to stay the night. The man murdered them, and was advised by his wife to dispose of them by turning them into meat pies. The Saint saw through this and brought the men back to life. This alternate version is thought to be the origin of the English horror legend, Sweeney Todd.

More Jewish Trivia

Maccabee means "The Hammer."

Eight represents infinity because there were, traditionally, seven days of creation (of everything that exists, that is), and eight is beyond seven.


HOLOCAUST (Heb., sho'ah). The word "holocaust" is derived from the Greek holokauston, which originally meant a sacrifice totally burned by fire; it was used in the translation of I Samuel 7:9, "a burnt offering to God."

Road Trip

Anybody in the near vicinity interested in going to the of Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Sunday, October 15th, please let me know (except Randy, who already has, and suggested the trip in the first place). Ray's B-Day is on the 17th, as if we needed an excuse. No time has been set, so let me know if there are constraints.

On a further note, Ray and I picked up a junked-out telephone this weekend, and we've been working on taking it apart. The speaker is in what looks like a solid plastic housing--epoxy holding it together, I think. We may need to take it outside and bust the thing up with a rock, because there is no way we're not going to see what's in there. Any other suggestions?

I find myself wishing I were a different kind of nerd. Ray likes books, but she only likes books. She's much more interested in movies, for example. What she really loves to do is figure things out, and I just don't love doing that as much as, say, my brother Matt did when he was a kid. That's why we picked up the phone; I remember him taking apart a phone and laying it out in the attic space of an old shed when we were kids. I was making up stories; he was finding out what's in there. Not how it worked, per se, just what was there. So I'm struggling, because I just don't have the gut instincts for it.

As Ray gets older (and as she spends more time at the preschool), I find her exhibiting a tendency to whine and ask for help with things. "I can't do it; you do it for me." "I can't figure it out unless you give me directions." That kind of thing. When, really, she's the kind of person who has more fun figuring it out by herself. I think that either Lee and I or the school have managed to make her afraid of breaking things, and we need to encourage her to take more (considered) risks. Thus, the telephone. And, the museum. Thanks to Randy for the suggestion.

Agatha Christie

“I usually have about half a dozen (notebooks) on hand and I used to make notes in them of ideas that struck me, or about some poison or drug, or a clever little bit of swindling that I had read about in the paper” --Agatha Christie

Here's something interesting: In 1926, Archie Christie, Agatha's first husband, asked her for a divorce, as he was in love with someone else. She disappeared. For three weeks. "The missing mystery writer." I'm sure people were starting to think she'd been murdered. She was found at a small hotel and told the police that she was missing the memory of those last three weeks. There's a movie, Agatha (1979), about it.

The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.

I don't think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness - to save oneself trouble.

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger.


For the Record...

I have just sent my story "Things You Don't Want" to its seventh adressee, which is, for me, a record. I'd give up, but it would be pointless. After a certain amount of time, I become twitchy if I'm not working on some kind of fiction. And this one was one of those stories that comes up on your like one of Cassandra's prophecies...nobody wants to hear it, but it's true, and it won't not be said. Nevertheless, not a happy, skippy day at the House of the D.

Changing Clothes

Maybe I've been missing out on the fashion world, but this was unusual. (NSFW)

What is pain, in the context of fashion?
What is fashion, in the context of world history?

Tall, elegant women parade around in gauzy clothing. Their faces are drawn and vicious-looking, as if they were outraged at what has been done to them--not the clothing, but something else. Some of them glide. Some of them, because of the weight of their shoes, clump. There's no happiness, no joy in what they do.

In the background, a rhythmic soundtrack throws in references to riots, wars, Hitler. A clock turns in the background.

Toward the end of the clip, the clothes begin to transform as the models stand in the spotlight. "This is how fashion has changed. This is how little fashion has changed."

Did the designer, Hussein Chayalan, celebrate fashion or denounce it? The end of the show features a woman in an illuminated hat and a few pieces of guaze. The guaze retreats into the hat, revealing--a nude woman. Perfect. Unappealing. As "naked" as a mannikin.

If clothing didn't exist, would we all be like that?


Bad Week.

Work has been bad this week; my normal effusive self am not I.


Rachael Update.

The bedtime ritual has now come to include a big, noisy tickle session just before she goes to sleep. It seems she needs to store up enough wiggles to make it through the night...


Well, That Explains It.

Stan posted a link to the Sesame Street Personality Test.

Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times. You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained. You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun. How you life your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them! You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you. You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil. How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others.

I got Ernie. Lee got Bert.




Lee's brother Dale made it up to the Springs Friday night after a bit of on-again, off-again scheduling issues. We dragged him to the zoo on Saturday, had supper and cake for Lee's UnBirthday (since there was no cake on his actual birthday due to moving), and sent him off to Pierre, SD, to Mike's (Lee's other brother's) house.

A week from now (approximately), Dale's starting a job contracting for Lockheed Martin in the Marshall Islands. He'll be there for two years doing IT stuff. Two years, island in the Pacific. The military base supports the rest of the islands; the sanitation is so bad the government has to fly in drinkable water. Everyone showers in sea water. According to Dale, the native islanders have rampant problems with typhoid...there used to be lepers...

But I'm sure he'll be okay. It'll be nothing like Lost. Nothing at all.