First of all, hasn't the current story arc for the Pearls Before Swine comic strip been so sad? Brilliant, sweet, funny, and sad. A cute little crocodile and zebra fall in love, and the crocodile parents object. It's bound to be all too familiar to anyone who's brought home someone the parents don't like.
I'm so thrilled that Washington DC's cutest little boy, Tai Shan, gets to stay with us a couple more years! He's getting so big now--125 pounds at almost two years old!--but he's still got those bright black button eyes and a deceptively sweet face given to big panda smiles, and I'd still love to give him a squeeze. Just watching him eat or play makes the world seem right. I don't know what they'll do with him if his mother gives birth to a second cub this year, but they've got space for him at the National Zoo.
Earth Day's come and gone, and so has Boris Yeltsin. L'Ailee mourned him. She wished he could come back. She longs so much for some good news out of her homeland. She went to the target range to comfort herself on Sunday. It makes me shake my head--she's just not an aromatherapy-candle-and-journaling kind of woman!
Earth Day is not an official Pagan sabbat, or holiday, but I wouldn't feel right not observing it, and I don't mean by going to the target range. Yemaya and I went to the Earth Day celebration in Brooklyn. (Yes, you can see actual nature in Brooklyn, if you squint and catch the right place at the right moment.) The idea was to celebrate environmental pioneers like John James Audubon. We just enjoyed a day in the park with like-minded people. It seemed much more appropriate than burning fuel to go surfing. And since the Phoenix race was on Saturday night, I didn't have to feel like a big ol' hypocrite by watching it on Sunday, either! :-)
After B'Earth Day, we went to our very first drum circle. We'd long written off drum circles as a hippy-dippy newage (pronounced like "sewage") thing. We're not hippy-dippy newagers. We're true-blue Pagan Witches. We may connect with ancient Gods, but we live in the real world, not a fantasy novel. That's what Yemaya and I tell ourselves and each other. But we need to network with other Pagans in NYC, and one invited her (and me, by extension, as in "bring a friend") to this circle. The point of it was to "heal the Earth."
Boy, we'd been missing out! We each brought small bongos, but we could have borrowed drums there. Hippies and New Agers were indeed in attendance, but everyone was so friendly and casual, that didn't seem so bad. Yemaya's mixed-race, and she'd worried about being "the raisin in a big bowl of rice," but she found a few more raisins in the group. We were able to settle in. Yemaya and I live for rhythm. She's been a drummer, I've been a bassist and turntablist, and we both love belly dancing. We also do well with ecstatic worship, with a minimum of words, with giving our whole selves over to a larger whole. Soon we weren't white or black or mixed or Pagan or New Age or liberal Christian or stockbrokers or secretaries or sous-chefs. We were just all one rhythm, together. Wow. I don't know about the Earth, but it did heal me. We're doing it again. Definitely.
There's no segue for this, but that's okay. Right now, I'm thinking about meanness called truth and cruelty called comedy. Don Imus lost his job, but meanness is still going so strong. Rush Limbaugh had a song called "Barack the Magic Negro" on his show. Rosie O'Donnell screamed and insulted her way into her own show, a lefty lesbian counterweight to Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. Ann Coulter still sells books and gets her columns published. I'm just so tired of it.
I grew up in a loud, ambitious, very opinionated, mostly very conservative family. There was (and still is) so damn much yelling. People get red in the face--my youngest cousins comment about that to me and the Dorkfish all the time. (My brother and I are both anomalies--he's almost completely apathetic about religion and electoral politics, and I'm a leisurely Libertarian Pagan.) Someone can always be counted on to scream something about how horrible liberals or whatever is. Someone will always say the meanest thing they can think of, and call it truth. There's no real debate or openness. So listening to or reading these blowhards brings back bad memories, all those times when I ran outside crying or hid in the bathroom with the fan going or went out for ice even though there was an automatic icemaker in the house. Even hearing or reading *about* them does.
I just wonder, who is it that wants all this? Who wants to turn that crap on for hours, or pay to read it? Why do they enjoy it, and *how* do they enjoy it? Do they really enjoy it at all? Everyone has the right to be entertained how they want and get informed the way they want; everyone has the right to look for reflections of themselves in the culture. I know I need to say this so things don't get twisted. However, I would like to see something for me. Do you have to be mean to be funny? Nancy Pelosi, a person I don't agree with all the time, said Imus had "confused cruelty with comedy." Is cruelty-free, or even just lightly cruel, comedy at all possible? How about political commentary?
I see where I'm part of the problem, too. I know I crack mean jokes. I invite online trolls to do unspeakable things with household appliances, and people laugh. I laugh at a good satire about the Religious Right or a politician. I love Mad magazine. So I know the potential for mean humor is in me. Where's the line at, between an occasional mean laugh and wanting to spend hours every day listening to blustering, allegedly "humorous" rants? Can we get to a place where it's more financially rewarding to be entertaining and informative than to say the meanest things one can think of?
I'm tired of people saying it's "truth" to simply be cruel. Sometimes I feel this need to tell somebody that they look pretty or that I know they're going to get a good job elsewhere or that their child is well-behaved. I have learned that if a sincere compliment springs up to my lips like that, I need to say it to their face, even if it sounds weird. It's usually just what the other person needs to hear. That's truth, too. A constant stream of mean isn't really truth, at least not about the targets. The only one that sort of commentary speaks real truth about is the speaker themselves. Isn't that cliche? But cliches become such because...they contain truth. :-)
Tony Stewart spoke his truth to anyone who would listen.
And then he got in trouble for it. Which is so not right--Darrell Waltrip's mouthed off worse. Smoke thinks NASCAR's becoming like pro wrestling--in other words, fixed. There's a reason race fans on the forums refer to "phantom debris" cautions, and why Fox Sports (which displays more concern for truth than Fox News) tries to find the pieces with its cameras when a debris caution is thrown. I know I've thought that a lot of cautions this season and the last seemed just a little too conveniently timed.
How homeowners' associations thwart attempts at eco-friendliness. So much for wanting my own place with a yard and some green! Homeowners' associations all over America are cool towards solar panels, native plants, and especially clotheslines, which I personally don't see anything wrong with at all and use when it's warm and clear enough. I am proud that the great state of Florida is mentioned as a place that protects homeowners' rights.
I'm loving Brad Paisley's new song, "Ticks", and you can hear it at his MySpace. It's got a driving guitar and the use of "I'd like to check you for ticks" as a pick-up line. L'Ailee heard it with me, and I grinned at her, and she said, "No." Coupled with her tone of voice and facial expression, this means, "You will *not* look at me and give me that smile while you sing along to this on the radio, nor will you dedicate this to me at the karaoke bar, and you most certainly will not say you'd like to check me for ticks when we cuddle on the couch." Dang. :-)
Urban Country Style is a wonderful new interior decorating book that L'Ailee and I only dislike because the authors beat us to it! Apparently other couples struggle between one's urban modernism and the other's country coziness. We're working on our own merged style, and have made things work, but this had some interesting ideas.
Morningstar Farms, now owned by Kellogg's, makes vegetarian meat alternatives, even veggie corn dogs! However, the problem for me is that I'm allergic to eggs, and most of their products contain some. (Which also makes them vegan-unfriendly. That's what, two important subgroups they're losing out on right there?) Mercy for Animals wants them to stop using eggs, mainly from an animal-rights standpoint. The eggs are factory-farmed, and the hens are squeezed into tight cages with no room to even walk a step! While my Ex-Boy believed that "chickens are dumb enough to be vegetables," that just doesn't seem right, either. So if any of those things seem not right to you, visit Morningstar-Egg-Facts.com and send a message!
Lastly, Marion Weinstein finally has a decent website. She is the author of Positive Magick, my first Witchy book. When I read it, I had been an apatheist for two years, and while apatheism didn't quite fit, I was enjoying it. Then I read Marion Weinstein's encouraging, practical words about magick and worshipping a Goddess, and that *did* fit. It had a real effect on me--the history's bad, but I still think of her admonitions against curses, her insistence that positive magick looks like nature at work because it *is* nature at work, and most of all, her emphasis on the power of one's words. Positive Magick isn't quite as well-known as other Craft 101 books. You can order it and other materials, and get a sample of her wisdom, there.