Saturday, December 31, 2011

Brilliant Good Wishes

My favorites of 2011 will have to spill over into the new year, so for now, these are my wishes for you all in 2012. They weren't written by me, but by my favorite author, Neil Gaiman. They are my heartfelt hopes for all who read what I write here, all who drop by only once, and for all friends near and far. Happy 2012 to you!

Neil Gaiman:

A decade ago, I wrote:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

And almost half a decade ago I said:

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple. And it's this:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Favorites of 2011: Books

For the last few days of the year, I'm going to give you an unsolicited rundown of some of my favorite things that were either new or new to me in 2011.  Today it's books, tomorrow it will be movies, and the day after that it will be art and music.  These are by no means the best books of the year, but of the ones I read, they are my favorite.

I was sadly unaware of China Mieville's work until I came across this little gem.  All I needed to read was this phrase from the description:  ...the congregation of god kraken.  When I began reading, I thought I'd discovered an author much like my favorite, Neil Gaiman.  There were paragraphs where I thought that this was Gaiman with Terry Pratchett again, but then it would go all Stephen King on my ass.  I soon stopped trying to compare it to anything and just let the strange wash over me.  Mieville has his own voice--articulate, highly educated, and weirder than your old uncle who's gone off his rocker.  Beware the Kraken!  It stirs!

I have mentioned Bossypants by Tina Fey approximately seven thousand times in this blog, which I began in February.  I have mentioned it in posts about photography.  I have mentioned it in posts about movies.  I've mentioned it in posts about politics, and humanism, and Severus Snape.  I've credited Bossypants when gas prices have gone down, when cities have cut down on light pollution, and I think it was the reason those lady sailors were allowed to kiss.  I like Bossypants in a box.  I like Bossypants with a fox.

Tina Fey is smart and funny.  You should read her book.  It is entitled Bossypants.

The new and last in the Inheritance Cycle by the genius (young, distractingly fit) Christopher Paolini.  It's clear that this guy devoured Lord of the Rings, Earthsea, and all manner of fantasy classics as a small child.  Not that he immitates, but in the same manner as these authors he has created an entire world with these books; a world with its own history, languages, customs, and its own brand of goodies and baddies.  These belong on the shelf with Tolkien and Rowling and Pullman (oh, my!).

A History of God by Karen Armstrong and Good Without God by Greg Epstein.
Throughout life, veils are lifted.  There may be a man behind the curtain, or there may just be a bunch of weird shit to sort out.  These are two of the books that helped me do that.  There will be many more.

That's all I have time for now, but I read some great books in 2011, and I hope you did, too.  If you want, tell me about them in the comments.  If not, no worries--just keep reading, and won't we all just be a bunch of informed and entertained smarties.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, Actually

Blogging Meme

I got this from Mind of Mine...

1. As a blogger, what do you draw inspirations from for your posts? Random stuff which is going on in my life, pop culture, politics, etc. I suppose you can see the answer to this question in the cloud of labels somewhere to the right.

2. If you could swap blogs with another blogger for a post, who would you switch with and why? Maybe one of the movie bloggers I follow. I can review a movie, though not as well as they.

3. If your blog had a theme song, what would it be? Why? I want to say, "The Mary Tyler Moore Theme," but that's not accurate. Hmm...

4. What is your writing process for a post? If something pops in my mind, I write about it sometime that day. I start typing, and don't spend more than an hour on it. I read it through once, make corrections and click "publish."

5. Your blog requires a cute new mascot - what would it be? Some kind of cute dragon, unicorn, griffin, gnome...something like that.

6. Do you feel you express your "true self" on your blog? I think so. I would have to ask my readers who know me in life to know for sure.

7. What is your biggest online pet-peeve? Adverts that pop up and perhaps fly around, and the x button that you click to close it really isn't a close button, so you've just clicked the ad open. Cheaters never prosper!

8. If you could live in a fictional universe, where would you live? Why, the world of Mr. Potter, of course. I'd like to shop at Diagon Alley. Middle-earth would be wicked, too. I'd like to visit Lothlorian. Not sure if that's what the question is getting at, but that's how I take it.

9. You're having a bad day, you're upset, you're angry, or you're sad - what is your go-to comfort? Drive to a neighboring city while listening to something Pink-ish or Green Day-ish...or maybe Rent. Go to Barnes and Noble. Browse, read, get a beverage, repeat 'til happy.

10. What is your favorite inspirational quote? "In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. I realized, through it all, that… In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back." Albert Camus

11. If they were to make a movie based on your life, who would play you, your leading lady/man, your best friend, and your rival? Janeane Garofalo would be me, I don't have a leading "lady/man" :), my best friend would be played by Eric Stoltz, I don't have a rival, but if I did, I would want her to be played by Megan Mullally. I'm going to post this in more detail soon. A blogger I like did it recently including pictures, and it was cool. (I really will! I won't forget--pinky swear!).

12. Do you think the world is going to end in 2012? No. It's bollocks. We will carry on as per usual.

13. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? Would love a back that doesn't require a monthly chiropractor visit.

14. What is your favorite season and why? Autumn...mild weather, leaves, cider, Halloween, crackling fires, festivals, crisp air, jeans and sweaters...

15. You've been bitten by a vampire. Would you fight it with all your undead being or would you embrace it for all it is worth? I would be a vampire who is lost in the decadent life--billowy blouses, crushed red and black velvet vests, etc. I'd drink blood from a wine glass--preferably donated blood from a bank. I would be some gay vampire's hag, and live in a castle. You see, I've thought this through.

16. Have you personally met any of your blogger friends? I have not, but would be delighted to.

17. What does your favorite pair of underwear look like? They are purple and fit nicely. Not sexy in the least.

18. Have you ever had something to drink right from the container in the refrigerator knowing other people will have to drink out of the same container later? Uh...I grew up with four siblings, so yes. We all did it.

19. What is your favorite word and explain why? Ethereal, because I like ethereal things, and I find the word to be pretty and nice to say.

20. 2011 is soon coming to a close, is there anything you'd like to do different on your blog in the year 2012? I really should write some more meaningful stuff as opposed to posting shit from Glee.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Kiss Is Still A Kiss

I like one of the comments from NPR's blog post about this lovely story: "Two sailors kiss, world doesn't end."    This is really darling, and I'm glad these ladies made it home safely and can enjoy the holidays together.   

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Wicked/Omens Love Child, and Other Things Making Me Grin

I was doing my level best to be a Grinch this year, but a few more things other than these have brought me out of my Christmas slump. Some are at least mildly Christmas-y, some are not.

When Neil Gaiman makes a baby with Wicked

This is the most brilliant crossover piece I've seen in ages...maybe ever.  Star-Surfer, a Spanish chick on Deviant Art, created this crazy smart cover for Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, one of my favorite books, in an homage to the now iconic poster for Wicked, my favorite musical (and one of my favorite things, period). I...LOVE...THIS.  Dude, instead of the little green witch symbol on the broom over the title, there is a green Bentley.  Seriously cool.  THANK YOU, STAR-SURFER!!!  She also has a cute cartoon that  has Harry Potter visiting Dr. House.  Nice.

Christmas Special, Blaine and Kurt Style

This was brill.  I wish the entire episode had been in this old-timey Christmas show style instead of just the fifteen or twenty minutes that they did.  Bravo to the two men, and  to whomever put together this stunning set--so authentic!  These two look like they were pulled right out of this era.  I wanted to move in to this scene!

Holiday Hits

I'm getting tons of hits on my blog for one particular post that I did on the fictional (but delish) holiday cocktail, The Blue Marilyn.  Searched for phrases include, "Will and Grace Blue Marilyn," "Will's mom's secret drink," "Blythe Danner anti-suicide drink," and more.  The hits have come from all over the U.S., but as nearby as Indianapolis.  They have come internationally from as far as Croatia and, inexplicably, Saudi Arabia.  I can only imagine that much of the Blue traffic has to do with people throwing holiday bashes, and wanting that extra zingy cocktail that, as Will's mom promises, both staves off suicide and is fun.  Drink up, partiers, whether you're under the lights of Hanukkah, standing next to the creche, or bellowing out a hearty, "Io, Saturnalia!"  Drink up even more if you're gearing up for the Festivus airing of grievances and feats of strength.  A Blue Marilyn goes with anything.

(I'm going to mix one up and watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on PBS on Wednesday night after I get back from yet another Christmas party.  Just because the MoTabs can't indulge doesn't mean I can't while hearing them sing.  Also, I'm mixing some up for my friend Jack on Christmas night after our family get togethers are over.  We may need it.).


I had a veritable Holmes orgy this weekend, watching the BBC Sherlock series on Netflix, going to the theater to see Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows, and then, whilst finishing up Christmas wrapping and card writing, I popped in the dvd of the movie that started it all for me, Young Sherlock Holmes.  When this movie came out in 1985, I was eleven.  After seeing it with my childhood bff, Jennifer, I went straight home and started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories.  I'd read them all, including the Holmes novels by about a year later.  This sparked a love of reading in me that reminds me of how kids today talk about how Harry Potter began their love of books (and there is a connection there--Chris Columbus wrote the screenplay of YSH and directed the first two Potter films).  It was a great weekend getting back into my love affair with Holmes, the drug-addicted, asexual misogynist.  God, I love that man.

I beg you to watch the new BBC series if you love Sherlock Holmes.  The way they keep the spirit of the original stories by Doyle, while adding text messaging, modern sensibilities and the London's just stunning and gorgeous.  Love it.  Nobody does it like BBC.

Anyway, those are the things that are making me cheerful in midwinter.  Those, and people I love and who love me back.  Life is a fine thing indeed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Trivia from Formspring

When was the last time you gave flowers?
5 or so years ago to a friend who was ill. Guess I should send more flowers, huh?

Do you believe in God?
No--especially not the bloodthirsty one (see the Old Testament).

If you were offered the job of U.S. president would you take the job?
Hell to the no.

If you could be a star athlete in any sport, which sport would you pick?
Quidditch, Roller Derby, or some martial art.

If you were to go on vacation to a beach, what is the first thing you would do once you got there?
Stand in the tide for a bit, lay down and worship the mighty Ra, then read. Alas, I'm in Indiana, and it's 30 degrees.

What kind of clothes do you feel most comfortable wearing?
Jeans, sneakers, hoodie.

If you could ask Barack Obama one question what would it be?
What is the wildest thing you know, as president, to which most people are not privy?

If you could eliminate one thing you do each day in the bathroom so you never had to do it again, what would it be?
Hair removal. So sorry you had to read that.

If your house was on fire and you could only grab three things, what would they be?
My big Rubbermaid tub of letters from high school to now. That's all I would be able to carry.

What do you like most about yourself?
I'm good company.

If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be?
I'm thinking of a little doodle I do of Elphaba from Wicked, and the words "Defy Gravity."

If you could change one thing that happened this year what would it be?
I can't think of anything, and that is a fine, fine thing.

What is your favorite zoo animal?
The gay penguins on Will & Grace, and the gay penguins on Parks and Recreation.

What kind of music can you just not stand to listen to?
Country, with a few exceptions.

What's the worst show on TV?
Two and a Half Men. It's so misogynist, I can't believe it when I hear a woman rave about it.

What was your favorite class in school?
English and band.

What's the best gift you've ever given?
I gave 4 of my best friends scrapbooks about our friendships that include lots if quotes, photos, and memories specific to each. A note inside indicated that they could add to it, and whenever they want, they can give it back, and I will add more. They have come back to me a few times each.

Do you think a movie or restaurant makes for a better first date?
Both, but a movie is good, because it gives you something to chat about afterwards.

What musical instrument would you most like to be able to play?

What is the last movie that you saw in a theater?
J. Edgar

In what ways do your clothes reflect your personality?
Tina Fey glasses=I like Tina Fey.
Converse shoes=Lame attempt to cling to youth.
Dark jeans with a little wear=I value comfort.
Black sweaters, black eyeliner, black leather jacket, black stuff=I have an inner Goth who lives in a body born too soon for such antics.
Coexist t-shirt, Russia t-shirt, England t-shirt, especially if worn on the 4th of July=I get off on a little "fuck you" whether anyone notices or not.

What's your favorite sport?
Quidditch and Roller Derby.

What video game have you played the most?
Ms. PacMan. Some Star Wars game at a movie theater I used to go to. I was good, man. Children would gather around and watch me play. :)

What is your favorite dessert?

If you could go back in time 10 years and tell your younger self something, what would it be?
Abandon religion.

What restaurant do you enjoy eating at the most?
O'Bryan's Nine Irish Brothers.

What is your favorite song?
At the moment, a three-way tie: Defying Gravity from Wicked. Wicked Little Town from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Not Like the Movies, Katy Perry.

What do you put on your french fries?

What is your favorite month of the year?
October (oh, how I hate to see it go).

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be?
Sarah Silverman, First Lady Obama, Bill Paxton.

What do you like to do when you are feeling sick?
Drink orange juice or Sierra Mist. Read or watch movies under my tie dye college blanket.

When was the last time you received flowers?
A year or so ago from an embarrassing co-worker.

Who is your favorite singer?
Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel.

What was the worst movie you've ever seen?
The Mexican, Greencard, Zenith.

What person do you most admire?
J. K. Rowling

As a child, what did you want to become when you grew up?
Author, detective, astronaut.

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Rick Perry)

Everyone has seen the infamous, unbelievable, brain-exploding, veins a poppin', IS HE SERIOUS? advert starring Rick Perry.  Just in case you haven't, I'll place it here, but only to pair with this fantastic parody photo.  Classic.

Michele Bachmann as Bellatrix?  Anyone?  Someone with mad photoshop skills get on that, please.

Thanks, Blag Hag, who posted it first, and who also posted some other cheery wizarding news recently.  Her Alma Mater, and my neighboring university, Purdue, won the Quidditch World Cup in their division!  Woo hoo!  Go Boiler Quidditch!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm Keeping Christ in Christmas...and Stretched Across My Tits

I've had a rough go of it this year trying to eke out a drop, particle, or even an inkling of Christmas spirit.

Part of it is that I'm not looking forward to winter.  Last year we had some pretty wicked storms up my way, and countless times I had to change plans because of the inclemency of it all.  Somehow, the same storms that cancel fun do not cancel responsibilities such as work, and I had to drive in the mess, anyway.  The year just flew by, as they do, so now I'm looking down the barrel of another Indiana winter, and I'm just not that into it.  All the snowy Christmas images and wintery scenes from Christmas classics are not doing it for me.

Whatever it is that's making me a Scrooge, I'm doing my best to find the positives that will get me through the potential annoyances of the coming holiday.  Here are a few holiday-related pick-me-ups that have given me enough of a smile to carry on with all of the bollocks.

This T-shirt

I was reading something online, and this picture popped to the side as an advert.  I thought for sure it said something snarky, but in clicking on it, I found that it was completely sincere.

In case you can't see the whole thing (and who can blame you due to ta-ta distortion?), it reads, "I'm keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas, and more importantly, in my heart."  This made me laugh tremendously.  I love the idea that maybe they put this shirt on a "killer rack" in the hopes that it would "fly off the racks."  I worked at a Christian retail store a million years ago, so if I were still doing that, I would be selling funny stuff like this.  Wow.

Author Visit

At my company holiday party last night, I got to meet one of my favorite authors, Christopher Paolini, who wrote (not writes...sad!) the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.  He was there to chat and autograph books, and I got the latest book signed.  My heart went pitter-pat (nerdgasm) when I got my turn with the man, and it was a really great experience. 

Besides it being personally satisfying to meet who I believe is a really great young author, it was a little awe-inspiring to be in his presence.  That may seem a little extreme, but it is not an exaggeration to state that I have a job because this guy writes great books.  Publishing is an ever-changing industry, which makes it challenging and exciting, but it really feels a little off-kilter when it literally changes on a day to day basis in an unpredictable way.  In a world that is this fluid, a bestseller keeps a publishing company afloat.  Seriously, one hit a year can be a savior, even for a massive publishing house. 

This very young man has given us four blockbusters in his young life, and millions and millions of his books have flown out of our facility.  On its release day, his most recent book sold nearly half a million copies, and hardcover books dominated that figure by 85 percent.  Even in the following weeks, hard copies continued to sell in huge numbers.  The selling of both physical and digital books are great for the industry and for my particular company, but when people want physical copies like that in droves, it says something about the personal connection they have with the content and author.  I could go on and on about this topic, and it would bore you to tears, but the crux is that an author like Christopher means livelihood for many, many people, and for that he got a standing O last night. 

And I got my own type of O when he stood right by my table before taking the stage.

Putting up my tree

...Which I seriously had to force myself to do.  Usually, I put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but as I said, I just wasn't into it this year.  I finally got it put up on Tuesday, which was the 6th of December.  That's pretty late for me.  I stuck in a dvd of Christmas Vacation, thinking that comedy might boost my Xmas 'tude a bit (I knew Christmas music would just piss me off), and dove in to my decorations. 

I didn't put everything out--the little Christmas villiage I have is still in storage.  I put up a bunch of stockings and my tree, and that's about it (I need to retrieve the Nightmare Before Christmas music box/snowglobe that my brother and sister-in-law gave me from my closet.  It's awesome, and it's going out tonight).  I did start to feel a little  happier when I realized how kitchy most of my ornaments were.  I love my Kermit who is delivering gifts via bicycle.  Also, I didn't realize how many Harry Potter ornaments I have.  Seeing them gave me inspiration to go get the HP finger puppet set I got last year for Christmas, and use those for ornaments, too.  Best of all, I decided to make Dumbledore the topper (insert good-spirited, respectful gay joke here).

I love how the puppet of He-who-must-not-be-named could also pass for the lady Satan in The Passion of the Christ.

Anyway, I don't know if I feel any more Christmas-y, but I'm happy that my tree is up.  I have it plugged into an outlet that is on a circuit with one of my light switches, so it looks all cheerful and stunning when I flip the switch and the tree lights up the dark room all on its own.  I like how snarky it looks with a gay, purple-clad wizard on top.  The season will be gay and bright indeed. 

Somehow, it always is. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Old Idea that Needs to Go

Throughout human history, there have been innumerable ideas that have had their day, but then they were let go.  They had to be.

In the time of Galileo Galilei, the predominant belief was that the earth was stationary and the center of the universe.  He, however, proposed heliocentrism, the notion that it was the sun in fact that remained still, while the earth revolved around it.  This was deemed heresy because of the following verses of scripture, which are just a few examples:  "The Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved"  (Psalm 104:5) and
"The sun rises and sets and returns to its place."  (Ecclesiastes 1:5).  When undergoing inquisition, he stated that the writers of these texts were simply speaking from the only perspective they had--a perspective that wasn't informed by telescopes and complex mathematics. 

Galileo eventually was placed under house arrest for his understanding of the truth, but of course time has confirmed what he had discovered through observation and study.  Geocentrism had its day, but eventually it had to go.  He stands as a hero in time, and those who opposed him appear as fools.

In early American history, Africans were kidnapped, brought to the colonies, sold and purchased, and were made to perform difficult labor for unsavory masters who often beat them and raped them, but never paid them.  This was the norm, and it was supported by scriptures which give such inspirational advice as, "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.  You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property." (Leviticus 25:44-45).  Nice. 

Time passed, and worldviews began to change.  In the 1960s, a century after abolition, the civil rights movement came alive and gained momentum.  People began to see that the inferiority of certain ethnic groups, people of different nationalities, and women was not a truth--it was just an idea.  Racism was an idea that needed to go.  Those who stood up to the opposition and insisted that their voices should be heard, for example the Freedom Riders, are shining lights in history, and they are honored today.  The people who opposed them, spewed hateful speech at them, threw rocks and tried to burn them alive...well, what can they look like to us other than ignorant, neanderthal-like villians? 

Today there's another idea that has had its day.  It has got to go.  It needs to get out of town. 

It's the idea that two men should not love each other, or live in the same house, or be intimate, or raise children.  It's the idea that two women should not love each other, or live in the same house, or be intimate, or raise children.

Put a fork in it, people.  This idea is done.  Just like the other two ideas discussed here, it's been around for a long, long time.  It's supported by scriptures just as antiquated and gross as the ones above.  But I know better, and so do you.  It's an old idea that needs to go.

The following videos are what motivated this post. Grab a tissue. Take a look.

We can stand in history as heroes, or we can be remembered as the fools. 

These videos are flying everywhere, but thanks to the authors of One Fell out of the Lemon Tree and Dorothy Surrenders, whose blogs were where I first saw them.