Rag Doll

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (click here for soundtrack in different window.)

Ooh, oo-oo-oo-ooh (Ooh-oo-ooh)
Ahh, ah-ah-ah-ahh (Rag doll, ooh)

(Hand-me-down) When she was just a kid her clothes were hand-me-down
(Hand-me-down) They always laughed at her when she came into town
Called her rag doll, little rag doll
Such a pretty face should be dressed in lace

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sexy Halloween tween

Holidays are bigger than they were when I was a kid.

Christmas is bigger. It starts earlier, and the expectations get higher. I read one time that at every family Christmas celebration, a woman is sitting on the back steps of the house, overwhelmed, exhausted and crying. Halloween is bigger, too, but I have to say it seems singularly less fraught than Christmas. We don’t have any obligations to be happy on Halloween. No one says, “This was the best Halloween ever!”

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Your family gets together, eats, talks, maybe plays Uno. The guys fall asleep with the game on. My favorite part of the whole holiday is after the meal while the pie plates are still sitting there and a couple of people are drinking coffee and everyone is just talking. My mother would sometimes pick at leftovers, so we could all pick at leftovers. The whipped cream was homemade. My mom made pumpkin, my sister made pecan pie.

But Halloween is a close second. I love handing out candy. I love the teenagers who are really too old, still caging candy. I love the little little kids who take the front steps like mountain climbers, their M&M costumes flexing. I love the really little ones in tiger costumes with whiskers painted on their faces. I always get good candy. Decent sized chocolate bars and at least one good non-chocolate candy for the kids who don’t love chocolate as much.

I have a family member who was Evangelical Christian who didn’t allow her kids to trick or treat. It was the devil’s holiday, I suppose. Look close and they’re all the devil’s holidays. Easter bunnies, jolly old elves in red suits and flying reindeer. It’s all grafted on older holidays, and go deep enough and our holidays are all rooted in rhythms of seasons in Europe. It’s all about the length of the days, the crops coming in, our own sense of mortality and our fear and joy in seasonal change.

I read an article today asking if kid’s costumes aren’t too risque. Maybe they are. Lord knows, tweens dressing like Brittany Spears is a scary idea to me. But I remember micro-mini skirts from the sixties. We’re always afraid that our kids are too precocious. The waltz was deemed sexy and sinister, accused of whipping youth into a sexual frenzy. Halloween says something about who we are, and our fears about it also say something about who we are as a culture and a nation. We’ll x-ray candy (although no one can actually find any cases of tainted Halloween candy except for one boy who was poisoned by his father for the insurance claim.) We’ll have parties to keep them off the streets. But mostly, kids and dads will troop up and down the street with flashlights and glow bands and plastic bags.

This year I’ll be on a plane so I won’t get to see what Halloween in Texas is like. I know that the kids won’t have to wear winter coats over their costumes like they often had to in Ohio. But the leaves won’t have turned, either. Bob and I won’t be able to sit together on the front step, playing Brubeck on the boom box, handing out candy, while the leaves of the flowering pear tree burn brilliant yellow orange. I left candy for you to hand out, Bob. Tell me what the cute costumes were. Tell me if we had a lot of kids or a few. Tell me if Halloween is different in Texas.

Tis the Season…

…to be Zombies!

Avocado, the Daughter Formerly Known as Younger Girl, is going out to the East Bay tomorrow to trick or treat with her best bud Elizabeth. Avocado is going as a Zombie Bride:

Her friend Elizabeth is going as a Zombie Prom Queen. Last weekend Avocado got second place at the skating rink’s Halloween party; I had cut her trailing bits shorter lest she skate up her own shreds and shred herself, and she looked pretty adorably sinister.

Meanwhile, Sarcasm Girl had decided to go as Hell on Wheels: she’s taking her old Razor scooter to school, wearing a black shirt with the seven deadly sins written on it, and wearing devil horns. It’s both a wonderful thing and a pain in the butt to have a creative child, since I was the one who had to find the shirt and fabric paint and horns and spirit gum and write the names of the sins all over the shirt. But she is a cesspool of whimsy, my child, and will doubtless terrify her teachers.

Yet Another Zombie Movie

You only have to glance at their faces to know that they died long ago.

But they just refuse to lie down and be quiet.

Unlike so many other movies in the genre, this one is a true story. It’s ghastly beyond belief, and I’m impressed that Martin Scorsese, one of our great film-makers, has finally realized the importance of the zombie threat.

Due out next April, I think. Probably will trigger another outbreak. Rachael and I should have the flamethrowers mounted on our bikes by then.

Extruding Art and Zombies

At Wonderoom, Mirrorneuron writes:

So there’s wads of hair in my shower. Little mini-nests of artistic awareness. A tiny museum with one patron. Yes, I could just clean the shower. I know this. Actually, I bleached the living hell out of it not long ago. But the hair made a reappearance. It keeps reappearing. We lose 100 hairs a day on average, even if we have no iron deficiency and extra stress. We also grow 5 cm of finger and toe nail a year so with all the digits together that’s a meter of nail extruding from our bodies annually. And the skin cells, dear god the skin cells! We lose 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every minute. Nine pounds a year. 70% of household dust is skin cells. The next time you’re dusting that grey stuff off your favorite knicknack…remember it’s mostly dead matter thrust out of your epidermis. We are surrounded by pieces of ourselves. Like zombies, parts of our bodies fall off as we go about our business.

I wish I could write essays like this.  I certainly chose my fellow bloggers for their ability to write in this vein.

I  remember in school when I’d say, “I’ve got an essay.” It was a lot like saying “I’ve got a virus and it has really disgusting symptoms.” Well, that was my experience anyway. But Mirrorneuron makes it look effortless. Makes it look effortless–I’ve certainly heard complaints. “My writing sucks. I hate this. It takes forever to write something!” Welcome to real writing, M.

Official Italian Government Report: Aliens Blew Up My Fridge (or Satan)

Janice Gelb pointed this out on her Smofbabe LiveJournal. From The Scotsman:

A GOVERNMENT investigation into a series of unexplained fires in fridges, televisions and mobile phones in an Italian village has concluded that the responsibility lies with “aliens testing secret weapons”.

In scenes similar to the drama series The X-Files, Canneto di Caronia on Sicily was the centre of world attention three years ago after residents reported everyday household objects – electrical appliances, a pile of wedding presents and furniture – bursting into flames.

Dozens of experts including scientists, electrical engineers and military experts, arrived in the village, in the north of the island, to investigate. One amazed scientist reported seeing an unplugged electrical cable burst into flames.

Arson was ruled out while locals blamed supernatural forces and the Vatican’s chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth suggested it was Satan’s work.

A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall . . .

 A few months ago, I was talking to Mom.  The conversation ambled around, as most of our conversations do given how similar I am to the tree I fell from, when out of the blue Mom said, darkly, “Well, some people don’t turn off the water when they brush their teeth.  They just leave it running.  It’s wasting water.”

Now this is a potentially big minefield for a myriad of reasons, so I said, “Well, Mom, not everyone lived in San Antonio during bad drought years.  Some people don’t understand drought on that kind of level.”

You see, from 1949 to roughly 1956, the eastern part of the Edwards Plateau (a region in Texas where my mother grew up) had a drought about as bad as the one in the Great Plains during the 1930s.

I got to thinking about this conversation when we were in Chapel Hill, N.C. a few weeks ago.  Marilyn, one of The Dude’s relatives, said to me, “You’ve been getting all the rain this year.  We need it here.  Everything is drying up and dying.”

I could understand her frustration.  Here in Central Texas, we struggle with drought.  A lot.  Austin seems especially prone to it.  I’ve seen months when every county around ours is getting rain and we’re the big dry spot in the middle. 

What I didn’t tell Marilyn is that she and everyone else in the Southeast better gird their loins and get used to drought.  Odds are they’re going to be seeing a lot more of it.

Atlanta, shockingly enough, is almost out of water — as in down to about a 90-day supply.  And now the governor is a battle with the Army Corps of Engineers over whether there’s a water  emergency at all. 

We’re so used to drought here in Austin that they print up the lawn-water rotation days and include them with electric statements.  And residents of California are plenty familiar with water shortages.  Those of us in traditional drought-prone states are the lucky ones.  We already know – on a baby level – what it is to deal with a lack of water.

Water scarcity is going to be the next big oil crisis.  (Along with, you know, the next big oil crisis.)

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Unca Buzzkill Presents: The Last Prom!

Unca Buzzkill Sez: Gimme Those Keys! 


Cock-Eyed Optimism is the Disease – Unca Buzzkill Is the Cure!*********************************************************

Hi, kids, and welcome to this week’s edition of “Unca Buzzkill Sez.” Unca Buzzkill would get up to greet you, but he’s about half in the bag . . . and you would be too, if you were paying any attention.

Last week, we talked about how everything that looks good, sounds good, tastes good, or feels good will eventually kill you as dead as Leona Helmsley, and how if you leave all your money to your dog, she’ll just pee on it.

The week before, we talked about how immortality serum is a horrible idea, because if you think the health insurance industry is a heartless bitch-on-wheels now, hoo boy, just wait until everybody’s living to a hundred and eighty-four. Not to mention the fact that when your kids (and their kids, and their kids, and their kids) finally decide to murder you because they’re tired of you sucking away their meager resources decade after decade after decade, they’ll have to douse you with Ronsonol and set you on fire to make sure your selfish butt stays dead. And then they’ll probably eat you, since you’ll likely be the only source of protein left in the county.

The week before that, we talked about the yellow, oily gunk they put on popcorn at the movies. (Wake up, people. That is NOT butter.)

This week, we’re gonna talk about how you don’t really have to worry about any of that, since the odds are darn good that Homo sapiens has already started swirling down toward the Cosmic Drain of the Porcelain Bowl of Existence (this phrase copyright 2007, Unca Buzzkill Productions).

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On Dumbledore and the Sexuality of Wizards

Everyone on the planet (and Harry Potter readers in the asteroid belt) has heard by now that Ms. Rowling has publicly declared that Dumbledore was gay. While this does in fact show some amount of support for GLBT issues, it does not, after all, do near as much as if she had shown the character as gay in the books themselves.

Here’s a particularly good analysis by Columbia Law Professor Michael Dorf at Findlaw linking the intention of fiction authors to the intentions of the Framers of the Constitution:

These principles may seem obvious enough when considering the relation of a fiction writer’s intentions to her text, but they are highly contentious when it comes to legal documents. In the balance of this column, I will explain why James Madison is no more of an authority on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, than J.K. Rowling is on Dumbledore’s sexual orientation.


In the end, though, an author of a work of fiction is, at best, first among equals in interpreting that work. Her intentions do not control the meaning of the text.

Just in case anyone wonders. Every character I ever wrote in my books is gay. Also handicapped. And a woman. No matter what the books say.

And finally, from Andy Borowitz at the Huffington Post:

Just days after Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed that the popular professor character Albus Dumbledore was gay, President George W. Bush told the nation that he would seek a ban on fictitious gay weddings.