Thursday, June 28, 2007

For the record

I am not a big NBA fan. At all.

When I was younger, my uncle was married to the original voice of the Seattle Sonics, Bob Blackburn, so I got a lot of free Sonics stuff. So when I moved to Seattle, I was willing to be a fan. And damn but 1996 was fun.

Since then? Not so much.

The NBA draft happens in a couple hours, and the Sonics have the number two pick. Really, the only reason I wanted to post this afternoon is this - Greg Oden is the consensus number 1 pick, going to Portland, and Kevin Durant, the newest next Jordan, is the consensus 2 pick.

That ain't how its going to happen. You heard it here.

Durant to Portland, and a superstar future. Oden to Seattle, to become the best many silently fear he could be.

And in a year or two, the fans in Oklahoma City will be bitching about how the Sonics (maybe the Okies or the Oilers or some other Oklahoma name) screwed up the pick back when they were in Seattle.

And you can say you heard it here first.

Tomorrow: a non-sports post. Promise.

EDIT: OR exactly the opposite. Oh well - that's why I avoid the sports book in Vegas. Get more return handing money out to hobos.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One Month

One month from this very day, the first day of summer, the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series is released.

You have just had one of two reactions: either you rolled your eyes, or you thought about where you have the book pre-ordered.

Truth be told, by this time one month from now, I'll be at least half done. Tricia and I each pick up a copy at midnight at our local book store, and already have plans for Livvie to be spending the night at grandma's.

When I got an invite to do 14/48, we actually changed vacation plans so I could do the fest and not interrupt our Harry Potter geekfest.

I've got one burning question, though. I saw a preview for the next Harry Potter flick, which I think wisely (did the studio get Rowling to push the release back? interesting conspiracy) opens before the book is released, and which is the adaptation of my favorite of the books, and I got to thinking - will people care about the movies once they've seen the series to its end? I mean, sure, eventually, but will the conclusion of one eliminate the anticipation of the other?

I think it might. Mid-series, full of speculation, we're driven to any HP we can get. But I feel like once the arc had ended, it can digest for a good many years before I need to seee any interpretations thereof on the screen.

Anyway, how you doin'? You thinking about anything more interesting than this?

Oh, wait, before I forget. Yes, I am big enough a geek I'm re-reading the first six right now in preparation.

EDIT: PS - My first post for RIVET Magazine's blog has just gone live. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Things may be looking up

I've been languishing the last few months. Since I finished my thesis, this here blog has accounted for maybe 95% of my writing. Truly sad when you look back at how few and far between the posts are.

Mostly, I've been trying to figure out what the hell I want to do next. I don't really feel cut out for this stay-at-home-parent business, but can't afford childcare either. I want to write, but I need to make money. And I was worrying myself into total inaction.

But, things are beginning to look up a bit. First off, I'm going to do a little admin work for this crazy bitch, who is totally cool, and which will bring in a smidge of cash to augment the monkeycage. Then I found out this weekend that I've been taken on as a blogger for RIVET Magazine, which will bring in no money but helps the rep and resume. And, I nabbed an invite to write again for 14/48, which is as much fun as one can have with their clothes on.

All of which has me a bit happy, which is weird and unsettling. But I know myself well enough to not sit on that. The above is positive inertia at best, but will dissipate if I don't push.

So, don't ask how I'm doing. I might say "well."

Contentment = doom.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Trifecta Monday

1) If you are a parent and you haven't checked out Offsprung yet, go there right now. I'm serious, stop reading my crap and go. If you aren't a parent, you should still check them out because the writing is just plain good.

Should you need any more enticement, try out this video of a very pregnant Jenna Elfman in a pick-up basketball game.

I didn't used to love her. Do now.

2) This just wandered into my mind the other day, and I was struck by the truth of it:

3) I was going to comment on this article one of the co-op parents sent me regarding types of praise, but I'm just not up for a parent rant this morning. So instead, I'm going to share this, which I told a friend this weekend, and he told me I should blog:

I've been engaged twice (married once), and the father of each fiancee was/is missing the same finger on the same hand (one to a lawnmower, the other while chopping wood).

But that's not all.

My mother has been married three times. Each man is blind in his right eye.

Weird and meaningless. That's me all over.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's not what you look like
when you're doin' what you're doin'
It's what you're doin' when you're doin'
what it looks like you're doin'

OK, so it started, most recently, with Jon Krakauer, just about my favorite journalist, nonfiction writer ever. I loved “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air” and dig on reading about religion in general, so was especially excited when “Under the Banner of Heaven” finally dropped into my library queue.

And, frankly, it scared the shit out of me.

I have long preached religious tolerance for all faiths. Belonging to none and doling out equal kicks to all their sacred cows, this was an easy position to take. But Krakauer’s look at Fundamentalist Mormons and the history of the Mormon faith in general shook that belief to its foundation. The zeal with which Joseph Smith’s farcical tale of receiving a story, itself more farcical than the way Smith came by it, and the violence that has been wrought in its name, not to mention the ever-increasing political clout of the LDS church, had me questioning whether tolerance was really always the right course of action.

And, really, perhaps it wasn’t that big a dissonance to rectify. I just moved the Mormons from the group containing the Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Moslems and whatnot over to the group containing Scientologists.

But this little challenge to my belief wasn’t sitting well with me. As the Unitarian minister that married me said when we first met, “It is not for me to decide what is right. It is only for me to seek Truth.” Part of my religious tolerance screed, which if you’ve ever been too close to me on a whiskey night you have no doubt heard, has been the central claim that every religion, every religious person, goes flying off the rails when they take their eyes from Truth and look to pointing out the False in the beliefs of others.

Into this crisis of belief drops "Jesus Camp", a documentary on American evangelicals with a focus on a Evangelical summer camp. Where “Banner” scared me, "Jesus Camp" made me sad and angry.

If you believe anything short of exactly what Evangelical Christians believe, I challenge you to watch this film and not call the things you see “brainwashing.” Seven-, eight-, nine-year-old kids shamed into sobbing fits every night for a week, terrified with the visions of what will happen to them if they stray an inch from the path and the phantoms of Satan coming after them from every direction. Screaming, speaking in tongues, thrashing on the ground, and constantly talking about war.

I imagine their vision of the Lamb of God to have gritted teeth, tats of the cross, a sword and a shield and a sneer, all reminiscent of a caricatured college mascot ready for battle.

It made me sad because of the kids, robbed of the chance to think about anything for themselves, battered into submission, and angry that a faith that I have seen produce incredibly generous, understanding, centered people can be so perverted.

Because that is what the Evangelical message expressed in “Jesus Camp” is: a perversion. The actual words of Christ, the lessons he attempted to teach, would find little place in the modern Evangelical movement. Mega-churches don’t do service to the man that told a rich man “Give away all you own, sell your property and give the proceeds away, and follow me, for it is easier for a camel…” etc (you don’t have to have been raised Christian to know how that one ends). Their constant talk of war doesn’t cotton with “If your brother strikes your cheek, offer him the other cheek as well.” There is no generosity of spirit, no sense of boundless love, none of the critical inquiry tradition in which Christ himself, as a Jew, would have been raised.

Now, before my progressive friends start in with some nodding and muttered “yeah, dumb fuckin’ Christians” nonsense (because while the War on Christmas is an O’Reilly fabrication, one of the few things the Right has correctly identified is a knee-jerk anti-Christianity among us liberal elite), the problem isn’t the faith itself. Fundamentalist Islam is a perversion of Islam, Zionism a perversion of Judaism, hell, I imagine there are Fundamentalist pagans that just can’t stop with the sacrifices and are a perversion of paganism. No faith, system of belief, is immune to fundamentalism.

My point, ridiculously long-winded as it is, is this: religion isn’t the problem. Sorry, Hitchens, you insufferable prig dickhead, but beliefs in divinity and Cosmic Law and God are not the root of our problems. Fundamentalism is. Whatever its stripe, fundamentalism is by its nature divisive, focused at least as much if not more on what is wrong with others as its own search for Truth.

No, wait, check that. The problem with Fundamentalism is that there is no search for Truth. Fundamentalists believe they already know the truth. And that is what makes fundamentalism dehumanizing. It removes from the religious experience the natural and inescapable human desire to question. We all search for Truth, whether we identify that quest with atheism or Islam or the Sutras, and that should be the one thing that binds people of all different faiths together. But, fundamentalists are not seekers, have no desire to make connections between faiths.

Religion is not the problem. Religion is a natural outgrowth of the human condition. Atheists are not given a pass in this. In the words of Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Fundamentalism, however, is the problem. Terrorism is not endemic to Islam, which non-fundamentalist Moslems are right to characterize as a religion of peace, as should have been made abundantly clear when Mark Uhl brought bombs to Jerry Falwell’s funeral. Terrorists are, though, almost without exception, fundies.

This is an important distinction because attacks on religion in general or individual faiths in particular actually further the cause and message of the fundamentalists. It is as important to remember that “Jesus Camp” is not indicative of Christianity as it is to understand that the images of 9/11 are not indicative of Islam.

I’m not sure where this leaves the Mormons and Scientologists, however. They still trouble me, and confound my calls for tolerance.

Though, maybe, it isn’t ever the narrative you choose that matters, just how you use it.

I find myself at the end of the page with the same lack of answers I had at the top.