Wednesday, August 29, 2007

His Dark Materials: good enough to make me mad.

Over a bottle of cava the other night, the lovely and fragrant Style Spy suggested I read the His Dark Materials triology. When she mentioned it, the phrase rang a bell --I first thought it was Milton, but no, of course it was Dante-- but I'd never read them.

Strictly speaking, aside from Victorian fantasy and allegories, I've never been a big fantasy fan. My parents were too into the stuff for their own good and when I was young I watched them lose touch with reality because of it. They preferred the world of Renaissance Festivals and reenactments to the world where they had a daughter and a son. They were young. It happens.

Anyway, I'm now 2/3rds of the way through the series and I'm just not quite sure what to make of it. The books are well written, that's for sure. Not especially elegant though to be fair, I've been spoiled as of late by spending too much time with Jerome K. Jerome, and Alphonse "Cream Rinse" Daudet (pictured below)

To say that the series takes a very dismal view of the Church is an understatement. In his novels --which occur in a series of parallel worlds, each resembling to some extent our own-- the reformation never took place. Instead of rejecting the papacy at Geneva, John Calvin became Pope and moved the whole shebang to Geneva.

There was no mention of the Great Schism either, so in Pulman's world(s) the Church --known as the Magisterium, an interesting if somewhat clumsy reference to the catechism declaring the Bishop of Rome and his pals the only people capable of interpreting the word of God -- is the only game in town. Oh, and they're evil. And they run everything. And did I mention they're evil?

Okay, I can be down with that, that's Scary Catholic Dystopia 101 and who doesn't love a Scary Catholic Dystopia, especially when it's as well-written as this? But God -- known as The Authority-- is also thought of as evil and that...well that I just can't wrap my mind around.

There is no space in my understanding for God as Malevolent Tyrant. I even have a hard time with vengeful. It just doesn't mesh with everything I know about the meaning of Christianity. To me, God is a god of limitless love, infinite forgiveness. Any evil --and yes, there is a lot-- done in his name is done by men and women who allowed the message of love to be corrupted.

I mean, when Jesus said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" I kinda think he meant it.

Anyway, Lord Asriel (do you see what I mean about the naming? It can go one of two ways I think, either straight out Azrael as the Angel of Death/Helper of God or it's a variation on Israel and Azrael, like Caleb in East of Eden was a sort of portmanteau variation on Cain and Abel. I hope it's the latter...or they can go all Islam on my ass, which would be interesting and very unexpected) is fixing to wage war on God.

Wage war on God? Are you kidding me? Assuming I can suspend my disbelief enough to imagine God as Scary Catholic Dude In The Sky, he's GOD. All powerful. That's just how he rolls. And don't get all Hermes Trismegistus/Emerald Tablet "as below so above" on me, because that's horse hockey.

I'm going to start the final book tomorrow and if another person I like gets killed or Mrs Coulter doesn't and there isn't some beautiful but subtle message about God's unchanging love I am gonna be pissed.

...I'm not holding my breath though.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Burden and a Gift

"It's a blessing and a burden."

How many times do I hear that? How many times do I SAY that?

There are very few gifts that aren't burdens in some way. It makes me think about Kant and how the only intrinsically good thing is a good will. Fair enough, I'll buy that. I'll even extrapolate to say that a good will is never in and of itself a burden.

What else?

A light heart, a good humor. I'm fortunate to have both of those.

…and then there's genius. Number one with a bullet on the All Time Top Burden and Blessing Countdown. Genius is not an especially rare commodity. I know a handful of 'em and with very few exceptions; they seem to spend a lot being miserable, or at least miserable to be around.

I know three who don't: my beloved Professor McG, my grandfather in Nashville, and me. Wait, four, if you count Michael.

Yeah, I'm one too. Textbook polymath: exceptional and rare, but not exceptionally rare. I come by it honestly, my Nashville grandfather is a polymath with an eye towards the sciences and my other one has a true genius for languages. I can do pretty much everything…except for pull-ups.

Being a polymath can be frustrating but it's not as lonely as some of the other types of genius. There's not the feeling of being a one-trick pony. I live in fear of being thought of as "just" a liberal arts writer type. I was well on my way to becoming a field botanist at the top of my class at one of the finer eastern universities when I got the call to ministry. If I couldn't be a scientist I wanted to be a mechanic (still do) or maybe a handy man (I like taking things apart and fixing them).

I never once thought I'd make a living, or at least most of one, as a writer.

Then again, I never thought I'd make one as a priest, either.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm Not Even Hung Over

Wah. I do not want to go to the Newcomers Open House. I want to stay in bed with the lights down listening to Tom Waits and doing some sort of long-format napping.

Full disclosure. for as much as I joke about drinking and being hung over, I don't really drink that much. Just not my style. I have had exactly two hangovers in my life. One was the morning after my 27th birthday party --two bands, two burlesque dancers and many many shots of tequila even though I didn't drink after midnight-- where I woke up the next morning face-down on the carpet, using my own fake hair as a pillow and clutching a giant roll of tin foil I had somehow collected during the evening.

The other was the morning the night Michael and I officially parted ways but had to be at a live DVD recording together. My friends lovingly kept me on one side of the building and Michael on the other. They also "lovingly" made sure that the beer I had in my hand was never empty, thus the two beers I thought I consumed ended up being many, many (many) more. Then two boys from California --one a former punk god with tattoos of monkeys all over his body and one with knuckle tattoos reading "LONG SHOT"-- stopped me from buying a Cadillac sight unseen and took me to have a bagel instead. Thanks boys!

Monday, August 06, 2007


anyone want to guess what my final grade was in my stupid Ethics class?

Wow, I did NOT see that coming.

Of course I should be all pious and reverent and whatnot and say something wise about how good always comes up on the side of right eventually, but seriously...the only thing going through my mind right now is this, directed to my completely unethical groupmates:

Weekend Update

I cannot tell you how long it's been since I went down to the clubs to see the gang. For someone who was once crowned the Empress of Red River, I sure have been neglecting my royal duties.

Yet Saturday night found me hitting my old beat. It was great.

Initially I was hesitant; Michael's band was playing at Headhunters and I wasn't sure I even wanted to be around.

Michael, if you'll cast your memory back, was my long term whatever who dumped me via instant message after he met this East German Amnesiac to whom he is now married, but seriously y'all, it's been like three years...(two years? Two years I think) and besides, I got Red River and all our friends in the "divorce."

So I tossed on my devastating new black and white dress, which I ripped off of Charles Busch in Die! Mommie! Die! (who in turn ripped off Marilyn Monroe in her unreleased film "Something's Gotta Give" pictured above) grabbed my long suffering shar pei, Dozer, and hit the street.

(Charles Busch in Die! Mommie! Die!)

I didn't end up going into a single club but chatted outside Beerland and Headhunters. It was so nice to see the old Black Cat gang (these are the people who --before Beerland opened-- would hang out at the sadly-incinerated Black Cat Lounge) but also a little bittersweet. I can't say why exactly, only that I miss looking breathlessly forward to the first Saturday of every month, deciding what hair and outfits to wear and dancing like crazy, then going back to Michael's for cocktails and whatnot. That used to be the best day of my month. Now, often as not, I think about going but opt to go to bed early, or do homework . Yawnsville, right?

And now, because every story deserves a happy ending, I walked by Headhunters, peeked in and saw Michael and his new wife and my first thought was a dispassionate "meh." Not excited, not melancholy, just "meh." Frankly, seeing the Crushproof boys (my mechanics) elicited a bigger gut reaction.

I guess I really don't care.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Clean laundry, fresh sheets, two sleeping dogs at the foot of the bed and no more Ethics class. God's in His Heaven and all's right with the world.

Remind me to show you THE most amazing Dior ankle boots tomorrow. They're breathtaking.


I'm here, no really I am AND I've got a ton of exciting news...none of which I can share quite yet, but let us say that things are looking very rosy in the blogosphere.

There's been a lot of face-peelingly tedious drama recently and I'd just as soon it go away. I know there are people who thrive on that sort of stuff, but I'm not one of them. It makes me tired and I always feel like I should be sitting in the back of the scene, dressed in a black cocktail dress, chain smoking and slugging bourbon from a hip flask. Of course I don't like bourbon and my only flask --a coffin-shaped sterling silver critter-- hasn't been used for years (besides, strapping that thing onto my thigh would totally ruin the line of my dress.

I've got a photo shoot with 666 Photography at the end of September. It's a 1920's concept so I'm trying to source some appropriate gear. I figure it's easier to come prepared and avoid any possible embarrassment with her not having the right sizes for me. I'm thinking a decadently fringed silk and velvet robe chinoise over a simple bias-cut (think Vionnet)black slip. It'll be interesting to see if the hairstylist will put me in pin curls or leave my ringlets, Clara Bow-style. Gayla builds all her own sets and is beyond brilliant, so I know the shots will turn out, but I'm still anxious. I'm also sitting for a local photographer sometime in the fall, but I've no idea what the concept is there, so fiddle dee dee. You'd think she'd find someone better than a tall round girl with crazy hair and a face like a cartoon, but there you have it.
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