Sunday, April 29, 2012

Housewife porn: sluts in the city!

The other day I'd had enough - just had enough - just had ENOUGH of that crappy new trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey that is burning up the bestseller list. I don't need to read it to know that it is sleaze, soft-core porn, and dangerously sick in its attitude toward exploiting women through male violence and female masochism (which doesn't exactly help the cause of battered women, does it?). Hey, don't worry about tying up women and beating them: they like it, they like it! They're even forming clubs to re-enact some of the slimiest scenes because - no, not because it turns them on but because "everyone else is doing it".

I was also incensed - still am - that a book like that (excuse me, a trilogy like that - some publisher somewhere saw the first volume and said, "More, more, more!", so she squeezed out more like some sort of awful polluted Dairy Queen soft-serve) could tear up the charts when "real" writing either languishes at the bottom of a very wide pyramid, or just isn't published at all.

Mine fits into the last category, and there are times I feel almost suicidal about it. But never mind all that. It's all over, you see. Because then I found this video!

I LOVE this video. It is totally lame and does not pretend to be anything else. People have called it the worst music video ever made, but that's debatable because I've seen that other one, Hot Problems, which is merely bad.

But there is a cleverness in Friday's imagery, a very funny and inspired riffing on the banal stereotypes of REAL music videos. There's also an innocence there, something like an Archie comic, with her friends leaping around in the background. It looks like everybody had a blast making this thing, and their joy is contagious.

And much needed. I had just about run out of joy.

I don't know much about this Rebecca Black except that she had a lot of moxie to do this, and it has brought her considerable fame. Not only that, in spite of everyone calling it the worst video ever, it isn't at all: Friday was made quite professionally and doesn't meander around like something two girlfriends might throw together after a pot party. It was well thought out in advance using some very funny images that everyone will recognize. She obviously had some funding to do this, which means someone must have believed in her.

This kind of notoriety and fame I don't resent, because, like old guys picking up pop cans and cashing them in, she is actually DOING something rather than sitting on the street corner showing her tits.

People think this is stupid? Then how stupid are they not to "get" it? Plenty stupid. I saw a so-called prank video the other day where someone's "boy friend" dressed up like a burglar and ambushed three or four girls as they came in the door of their dorm or whatever. They all "eeeeeeeek"-ed, jumped up and down rapidly flapping their hands, then ran out the door waving their arms back and forth, eeeeeeek-ing all the way down the sidewalk until the guy said something like "Hey! It's only me!" "Ohhhhhhhh."

Staged, staged, staged, staged, staged: yet people unanimously said, "Oh, what a devil he is to upset his girl friend like that! Will she ever forgive him?" I suppose her "forgiveness" statement will go viral now. Jesus God, why are people so goddamn STUPID???

Why is intelligence never rewarded any more? What has happened to us? Now more than ever, mediocrity is the norm. Sadomasochistic novels are nothing but a form of literary prostitution. So there. But they are as wildly popular today as ever (smut has always been with us), except it's right out in the open now and celebrated as "cool" (and if it's popular, hey, it must be good for us, eh? Like the Third Reich.)

Anyway. I like Rebecca Black because she is smart and funny and has her finger on the pulse. She may say this video is straight and not a satire, but it works on several levels. She too is an example of "going viral", a bizarre new phenomenon. If I could, I'd go viral even if I had to ingest some sort of virus to do it.

That's because my stuff is good, and nobody gives a good goddamn.

Friday, Friday! I remember Friday. I STILL like Friday, even though my husband is retired now and every day seems to blend into every other day. As a kid I had a secret name for it: "free, frosty Friday". Don't know where I got it, but as Rebecca Black will tell you, Friday is frosty. . . and it's free.

(By the way, I deleted yesterday's furious post. I felt like I was giving that horrible so-called trilogy too much space, and probably even promoting it, inspiring even more people to rush out and buy or download it. Dirt sells, every time. I was also letting it rent space in my head, so I evicted it to the best of my ability, and there it will stay, out on the street corner showing its tits.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pennies on a track

This was the only video of this song that was remotely tolerable: most of them matched each line with Readers Digest/Ideals Magazine exactitude. "I love little baby ducks" (show the little baby ducks!), "old pickup trucks" (show the old pickup trucks!), etc. etc. to the point of agony.

I think this version maybe dicks around with the lyrics a little - Tom T. Hall, incredibly, was not allowed to say he loved grass on certain Southern radio stations, though he could love hay with impugnity. Make sense to you? So he changed it to "old TV shows, and snow." Ye gods.

Anyway, not to go line-by-line because I can't take it, I've scared up a few images that
"I. . . love. . .", and which seem to suit.

I Love

I love little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain
I love little country streams, sleep without dreams, Sunday school in May,
And hay
And I love you too

I love leaves in the wind, pictures of my friends, birds of the world, and squirrels
I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, and grass
And I love you too

I love honest open smiles, kisses from a child, tomatoes on the vine, and onions
I love winners when they cry, losers when they try, music when it’s good, and life
And I love you too   

I love. . .little water babies when they swim like ducks

'n little boys 'n trucks. . .

 (And this truck too, it's cool.)

I love pennies on a track

and trains movin' slow when
 you have noplace to go.

I love guys laughing in bars, looking up at the stars

(. . . but I wish a squirrel'd do this to me.)

I love chickens when they squawk, people when they walk

(like this?)

and toke up and laugh and talk.

I love. . . bears in a stream

weird owls

and anything green.

I love gigantic black pups. Paper Starbucks cups.

Grimm's fairy tales

And life.






They Found Einstein's Head!

This amigurumi stuff. . . it's fascinating. I'm sneaking up on it slowly, doing it the coward's way (knitting rather than crocheting, and NOT in the round). I'm still waiting for my book, Amigurumi Knits, which is full of all sorts of weird and wonderful, and I hope do-able,projects.

This-here is a rubber chicken Elvis impersonator. No kidding. I guess it's the lips.

(PLEASE NOTE: I did not design, nor have I knitted or crocheted, any of these creations. I display them here as they would be displayed on Google, as fascinating examples of an art form I envy but have not mastered. Badda-boom.)

These guys are so cleverly done that they're self-explanatory. I've always wanted to knit Hitler, but didn't know quite where to begin.

I think they did a particularly good job on Geordie LaForge from Star Trek, right down to the visor.

I wonder if they ever got around to doing Einstein's body.

Not good enough to eat, unless you want a mouthful of fluff, but interesting.

I bow to the cleverness, even genius demonstrated here, especially given the way I'm struggling to do a frog.

The Venus of Willendorf. Most unusual.

The entire cast of Star Wars. Who says you can't crochet Yoda?

And - my personal fave - a wild-looking, hippie Jesus who looks like he has an enormous Groucho moustache, holding projectiles which might be loaves and fishes. I'd buy this guy in a heartbeat.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Don Corleone School of Knitting

Every so often, about every six years or so, I find something on the internet that makes me want to dance with joy.

I've been researching a form of Japanese knit/crochet called amigurumi,  miniatures of imaginary creatures done on very fine needles. This has been extended in recent years to include slightly larger forms of real critters such as octopi, crabs, snails, etc., so of course I have to get into the game. I've been trying to find free patterns and mostly striking out because they involve either crocheting or knitting in the round (which I've never learned to do, though I am currently adapting a Frog Prince pattern from four needles to two). I've sent away for a book and can't wait for it to arrive cuzzadafact that I want to knit a snail for my granddaughter Erica's birthday. She loves snails and keeps real ones as pets.

But this! You can actually knit the horse's head from The Godfather, life-size, and it's beautiful, too. I found the pattern free, and I'll post the link here. It would make a delightful pillow for the film buff and a much more sanitary version of the real thing.

No horses were harmed in the making of this pillow. But the back of the neck view is pretty disgusting.

(For those of you who can't get through the whole pattern, this-here's the best part. Make sure you have the right yarn colors: severed neck is red, vertebrae white, and
esophagus/trachea light pink.)
Severed Neck:

Using the red yarn, CO 20 sts.

You will now be returning to the 76 sts of the neck edge and changing color as well as finishing the hemmed edge.

Pick up a purl bump from two rounds below the turning round and place it on the left hand needle. Using the red yarn knit the stitch just picked up together with the next stitch on the left hand needle. Note: I always have a difficult time figuring out which row the purl bump I need is from, so before I started this round I ran a piece of embroidery thread through all the bumps I would be picking up.

Repeat around the edge. (96 sts)

Join and work in the round (either using one circular and magic loop or splitting the stitches up onto two circulars).

Knit two rounds, on second round place a marker every 16 sts.

Dec Rnd: *knit to two stitches before marker, k2tog* to end of rnd

Next Rnd: knit

Repeat last two rows until 54 sts remain, then work the decrease round for every round.

When 6 sts remain, cut yarn and using tapestry needle pull yarn through all stitches and then to the inside of neck.


Using white yarn, CO 28 sts, join and work in the round.

Rnds 1-10: knit
Rnd 11: purl
Rnd 12: knit
Rnd 13: Switch to red yarn and knit all sts
Rnd 14: * k2tog, k3, ssk* to end of rnd (20 sts)
Rnd 15: knit
Rnd 16: *k2tog, k1, ssk* to end of rnd (12 sts)
Rnd 17: knit
Rnd 18: s2kp four times (4 sts)

Cut yarn and using tapestry needle pull yarn through all stitches and then to the inside of piece. Stuff and sew to severed neck edge.

Esophagus/Trachea: (Make two.)

Using the light pink yarn, CO 24 sts, join and work in the round.

Rnds 1-3: knit
Rnd 4: purl
Rnds 5-7: knit

BO all sts.

Fold cast on edge to inside, and sew both edges together.

Sew to severed neck edge.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Take this cup away from me: blood sacrifice

Burnt offering

She came slippery and she came dark. She came along a stone place hollow with echoes. Smells of animals lurked, and moaning. She came dragging. A handful of hair.

This was the sacrifice, the Blood Sacrifice. It was time. Time to put it all down, to skin the dog and hold up its flesh. She was not good at hunting but knew when it was time to dismember prey.

The temple was dark and full of moisture and praying, moans. It was a dark and terrible God they appeased. Every day, every week the sacrifices. He was merciless. He had no name, because they were afraid to name Him. They were afraid to look Him in the eye.

If you come face-to-face with God, if you see God in person, stand before God, you will die. This was why Moses went around with a veil, for an ungodly light streamed from his face and blinded everyone as if they were looking directly at an eclipse.

Eclipse. Sacrifice was an eclipse, was it not? A raising of talent. A skinning, a hairing. A giving up. A lifting. The smell of blood was everywhere, and as she raised the head of the bull the dark thick blood slimed down the drainway into a hole in the floor.

The blood had to be captured in a certain way. It reminded her of menstruation a little, but that would be her own blood, and forbidden. Deeply forbidden. With blood everywhere, why couldn’t you touch a woman? But this is about talent, is it not? Burnt offerings, sacrifice?

Singed hair, gutted dreams?

Giving it all up for the sake of peace?

Take it out of me, take it out of me, takeitoutofmetakeitoutofmetakeitoutofmeGOD. Just remove it. Whatever desire I had to please Thee with my inborn gift, rip it out. You made a mistake, see? God DOES make mistakes, look at that two-headed calf over there. You call that perfection? Yes, sometimes you DO make mistakes, such as instilling in me the dream. The dream of fulfillment such as I saw around me. As if that were a sin, too.

Lift high the head of the calf, slit his throat, catch the blood in the chalice, lift it high. No, don’t drink it, that would be too theatrical. And you’re guessing at this, aren’t you? This isn’t any Charlton Heston movie. This is sacrifice. Burnt offering.

Given up, given up for You! For You, God, you big son-of-a-gun, my Destroyer. You shatterer of dreams. You who giveth with one hand and taketh with the other big, suffocating hand.

Here. Here have it back. Right now rightnowrightnow. Have my dream.


Monday, April 23, 2012

What does God look like? I'll tell you.

Why do I have such awful thoughts?

Why do I have such awful thoughts on a Monday morning?

I’ve been writing a sort of informal ongoing series of posts about my complete disillusionment with organized religion.  After years of struggle and spiritual anguish, I had to cut the ties, drop out. Too many things were eating at me. There was not one single person I could talk to, and some of my very best friends were being told to leave. Run out of town. So who would be left?

So I left, but this was after a very long period of being. . . what? One day, years ago, I wrote in my journal a single word: Disaffected. It seemed to sum it all up. Whatever “affected” means, and it can mean many things beyond the obvious.

It can relate to “affect” (NOT the same as “effect”, you Philistines of non-grammar!), which is in a larger sense just a reference to emotion, particularly the expression of emotion. But then there are words like “affection”, and we all know what that means.

I wonder if I am doomed to enact and re-enact the rejections of my youth. I wrote a post called You’ll Never Get Out of the Playground which had a surprising number of views, at least for me - more than 100 overnight (and counting: I think it’s 200 now). This was about a middle-aged woman who was disaffected with the social media scene, feeling profoundly out of step. I wonder why anyone was interested, why anyone bothered. Being out of step? Does anyone feel this except me, I wonder?

I won’t tell you what happened on the playground, or in high school, and what happened later on in my church after 15 years of meaningful, if frustrating involvement and contribution (including financial: people used to visit us in our homes and subtly, or not-so-subtly, guilt-trip us into giving more than we really could afford). The thing is, in a church setting you are at the mercy of leadership, which is apparently chosen. Then why did we “choose” a leader who turned out to be jaw-droppingly destructive and wildly inappropriate? Does a group of people necessarily know what is good for them?

But this isn’t the bummer, the spiritual shadow that goes in and out with me. Maybe it’s early conditioning, I don’t know. My beliefs are such a ragbag, or a fluctuating tide, or something. They change and shift. They don’t get “better” and I don’t “evolve”, like I am supposed to: in fact sometimes I think I am devolving or even deteriorating.

The cold dense shadow that chills my sunniest day is wondering about death. I often have strong feelings that departed people are very near me, even physically. I know where they are in the room, and they seem to speak, though not exactly in words. They convey pure meaning, somehow. This could be imagination. The problem with being a writer is that you must flex your imagination again and again, constantly, like a bicep, until it becomes so monstrous your whole arm is disabled.

But what if it isn’t? What if this is a strange gift? I try not to close the door on it. Yet it seems to say, if there is any truth in it at all, that we don’t just disappear when we die. That something of us lives on. If you’re to believe mediums (media?), the soul lives on in much the same form, so that the departed person is recognizable even visually. Thus the Long Island Medium with her fake blonde hair, fake talent, and voice as grating as Fran Drescher in The Nanny.

So OK. What is the other option? We just disappear, we die like a tree, we become soil, or not even that. We “are not”, we are “no more”. We are “departed”. To where, nobody says.

Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. This was John Lennon’s vision of Utopia. I’ve heard that as far as spiritual contact is concerned, John Lennon is damn hard to find.

But there’s another possibility, and this one just makes my guts quail as if there’s a big frog jumping around in there.

It’s based on a very old model, so I didn’t make this one up.

What if every wrong deed, every bad mistake, every unkindness, every slight to others, every bit of ungenerosity, every theft, every verbal slap, every sense of glee at someone else’s misfortune (sometimes known as schadenfreude), every cheat of every kind, was carefully kept track of, never erased, never forgotten? What if all of it has been strung together in a chain, and how long is your chain anyway? Is it “ponderous”, like the chain of Ebenezer Scrooge? What if all your nasty little deeds, most of them kept secret, were laid end-to-end, bald and visible to some awful judging Force that doesn’t let you get away with anything?

What if?

This model annihilates that all-loving, all-caring God that everyone quacks about. I just don’t feel that sense of God any more and wonder if I didn’t make it up just to make my life more bearable. But if I don’t believe, does my non-belief negate God? Does God only love believers, those who go to church and are pious and either never make mistakes and unkindnesses, or repent for them so mightily it’s as if they never occurred at all?

What a horrible thought.

The only meaningful God – and I really doubt any such being exists – is a God that does not know how to do anything BUT love, a God who IS love like Jesus was, if Jesus ever existed (which I now doubt: but look what we did to him anyway). This God doesn’t play favourites, doesn’t lay sins end to end like some poisonous necklace of doom. But if this God really does exist, why don’t I feel it any more?

Why did despair drive out the glory, the power, the honour, the trumpet-blasting  blah-blah-blah I used to sing about in those endless dreary hymns with 39 verses? You could blow the dust off this God. It had no vitality. It was conventional and tame. After a while I felt so lonely in my growing unbelief that I just couldn’t stand it any more.

So have I been driven out? Cast out of Eden with those other sinners (who shall remain nameless)? Am I alone after all, a huddled mass of confusion and fear?

Every time I find myself starting to pray, I cut it off. Come on, stupid, don’t.  It won’t get you anywhere. What does prayer accomplish anyway? What is it for? It’s asking God to change things, to change the way things are now. If God is a God who makes reality, how stupid is that? Aren’t things “the way they’re supposed to be”, as so many people like to put it? So why pray at all?

Pray for mercy? I can’t see how that works, either. A big hand doesn’t suddenly come down out of the sky. In fact, nothing does. Nothing changes. Pray for healing? Why? Will a big nurse suddenly. . . OK, you get the idea.

Pray “for” someone? If people knew what other people were praying for, they might be pretty surprised. “Oh God, please make Frank less of an asshole so he won’t bug me so much.” OK, that’s extreme. How about, “Oh God, please reconcile Karen and Rob and make their marriage whole again.” In fact, Karen and Rob’s divorce might be totally liberating for both of them, freeing them from a relationship that went dead years ago. Joe might want to die from that tumour, because he’s lonely and no one from his church comes around any more because he’s difficult and besides, he has stopped praying and believing.

So stay away.

And if two people compete with each other, praying for completely opposite things, which one will God listen to? Who will win? The political ramifications of this are frightening to contemplate.

So I can’t figure out prayer. It somehow has a Wizard of Oz quality to it. “Please sir. . . I am Dorothy, the small and meek.” And you know what happened there.

Did I pull back the curtain somehow, to reveal the little man pulling levers in a desperate sweat? Should I pay any attention to those strange luminescent figures in my room late at night? What is the mystery? I had an experience years ago of looking God right in the eye, of having a tiny glimpse for a billionth of a second through an aperture that opened, then closed again. I don’t know why this happened and I had a welter of feelings about it:

A sense I shouldn’t be seeing this, that it was a mistake.

A feeling I should take off my sandals because I was on holy ground.

A sense of "Me? Are you sure? You must have the wrong person."

A sense I had opened a door and saw my mother standing there naked and slammed it shut.

An absolute, soul-shattering awe.

A sense I was seeing everything: everything ever created, from the beginning of what we call Time (which is an illusion) and on into the infinite Future. This is beyond my powers to describe.

It was as if every question I had ever asked, every question I asked in the present, every question I would ask in the future, and in fact every question I could possibly ask, ever, in all the realms of possibility, along with questions I could never ask because I didn’t know what they were, had been answered in a single stroke.

This all happened under very deep hypnosis conducted by a friend who was not a trained hypnotist. The purpose was to restore my sleep after a bad bout of insomnia that had gone on for months, resistant to any drug.

I suppose I should have guessed I wasn't really under hypnosis, but something far more profound and dangerous. It was years later, taking an anthropology course, that I learned about trance, the altered state of consciousness that allows shamans to pierce their cheeks without pain or walk over glowing coals.

Did I somehow get there without knowing it? I had heard over and over again that in hypnosis, you can come out of it any time you want to. I couldn't. My "consciousness" was so far above my corporeal being that it wasn't visible from the ground. It was on the right-hand side in a specific place, not just in my head, and the "whatever" was in front of me, an aperture almost like a  strange-looking gate.

At some point I saw myself, my physical being, inert on the couch far below. I had been "under" for more than an hour, one of the many idiotic things my friend did. He was trying to bring me out of it and couldn't. He was trying everything. I was shit-scared. I wanted to come back and couldn't.

Finally there was a sense not of falling but of being sucked back, though instead of feeling disappointed (gee, heaven was so nice!), I only felt relief. But something was wrong.

"You look. . ."


"No, don't look in the mirror."

But I did. I was grey as stone. Blue-grey, and cold all over. I wonder now if I really had been near death, and what would have happened if the life force hadn't decided to take me back. I did not sleep that night, and the next day my brain was on fire, to the point that I could hear it searing and popping inside my skull.

My Divine Encounter. I suppose a fundamentalist would say it was the devil or something. I’d say there was no sense of a Being or Presence, but there was – and, surprise, it wasn’t a being of Love at all.  In fact it was completely indifferent. Which is the opposite of love (not hate, but “not-love”).

If the Universe is indifferent, if God is indifferent. . . or was it a projection of the tragedy of my mother, a Being so indifferent she did not even list my name in her obituary, as if it would be better if I had never existed at all?

Officially, I have been wiped off the record, and that does get to a person after a while. How can you worship God if you don’t really exist?

But I did notice something else. There was some sense of a slightly ironic sense of humor, of a sort of indulgence, and a sense of “someone or something” touching or stroking my right cheek. But it was like a child finding a ladybug. Funny little thing. Look what I’ve created. Pssshhhhhewwwwww.

I don’t know if writing about this experience is a mistake or not. It disturbs me and I still do not understand it. Easy to say, “oh, you were tired, it was just a bad dream,” or “oh well, that wasn’t really God.” I was completely convinced I was witnessing Ultimate Reality, and it was totally disillusioning and terrified me beyond words.

If Jesus loves the little children, then I guess I am still an abused child huddled in the corner, waiting for some grace that never arrives. I suppose it will always be that way. If my sins are strung out in space like some spiky ugly necklace, I am done for.

If it’s some other way, I do wish I could find out about it now, in some manner that is understandable to me. I am not getting any younger.