Monday, November 26, 2007

On a proper holiday, and a Not-Even-Friday, Not-Even-Random Ten

It's all good.

Okay, so more than a couple of you have noticed that I've been way, way off my game these past few weeks (or, okay, month). There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that things are getting shuffled around at work and I actually have some to do, which is unusual for this time of year, and it's new and different work that actually requires a little bit of concerted attention. Another of the things is the fact that politics make up a significant part of my blogging volume, and I'm just not all that interested in politics right now; none of the potential presidential candidates from either party really excite me, and a body can only blog so much about the administration's criminal incompetence, Congress's inefficiency and ineffectiveness, and the gradual but inescapable erosion of our constitutional rights before that body notices that things aren't getting better and blogging, shockingly enough, isn't making a difference. Yet another of the things is a series of personal stuff -- not bad stuff; even, arguably, good stuff, but the kind of stuff that takes up a bit of time and attention -- that has demanded my time and attention. And I won't pretend that burnout isn't also a factor; I've been doing this thing for three and a half uninterrupted years, and while I try to keep it fairly fresh and new and interesting, the well is starting to run just the slightest bit dry, in case you hadn't noticed.

In light of all of that, Practically Harmless is going to take a bit of a vacation for the month of December. We're going to kick back, relax, take care of some stuff, take some time to really savor the holiday, and start collecting ideas for blogging in the coming year. There'll be plenty of activities to fill the down time; I've got a big trip planned for the middle of the month, Christmas presents to buy, some knitting to do, and believe it or not, a manuscript that has lain completely neglected for all of three months now. It's all fun and some of it's kind of exciting, and when I return January 1 -- and trust me that I will return January 1 -- it'll be refreshed, renewed, and ready to actually be interesting and post with some regularity.

Obviously, one of the things I've neglected in my negligence is TGTBATFRT for a full two weeks now. But what better time to really consider the good and the bad of it (mostly the good) than Thanksgiving, a time when, as the name indicates, we give thanks? So I'll make up for my prior failings with a big, fat Super Good, Bad, and Friday Random Ten: Now Thank We All Edition.

What's good (for the two-week period ending 11/23):

- My family. Yeah, blah, blah, blah, I'm grateful for my family, but I seriously am. My mom is one of the most genuinely generous, selfless, thoughtful people I've ever met, but she's also one of the coolest; I've never met such a truly nice person with such a... well-rounded sense of humor. My dad can do anything, from healing the sick and teaching residents to woodwork to pancakes to talking a distraught daughter off of a ledge with more insight and understanding than is expected from most men. My brother is a great listener, a source of great advice, the funniest person I've ever met, and not an un-snappy dresser, and he'd chew off his own arm if he heard that you needed one. And we actually enjoy spending time together; going home is never a Tim Allen Holiday Blockbuster chore, because there isn't the nagging or the browbeating or the getting on each other's nerves, because we actually like each other. And, knowing how rare and special that is, I'm grateful.

- My country. Despite our government's best efforts, it's still, in my opinion, the greatest place in the world to live. I'm grateful for a society that recognizes the importance of makes continual strides in the direction of women's equality. I'm grateful for the right -- and the responsibility -- to criticize my government freely. I'm grateful for the freedom to practice my religion as I see fit, and the freedom from anyone else trying to make me practice theirs. And I'm grateful that, when those rights and freedoms and responsibilities are threatened, when someone tries to turn my country into something it's not supposed to be, there are people who'll stand up and say, "Hold on, you don't get to do that. Let's get back on track." There aren't a lot of places on the globe where you really can do that, and there certainly aren't any others that offer all of that and 30 Rock.

- Chunky women in gold lamé:

- Having a reason to go around twice:

- Turkey, gravy, chestnut dressing, sweet potato casserole, cheese grits, green beens amandine, cranberry sauce, sourdough rolls, apple pie, apple crisp, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, chocolate espresso pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and Alka-Seltzer

- The Georgia Bulldogs and Coach Mark Richt

- CoverGirl VolumeExact waterproof mascara -- and friends who keep you laughing so long and so hard on such a regular basis that waterproof mascara becomes a necessity

- Saved-up vacation days

- Rainy mornings when you have time for a cup of tea before work

- December holidays and everything that goes with them: Christmas music, Christmas lights, artificial trees that shed "pine needles" all over your carpet, glittery ornaments that shed glitter all over the "pine needles" all over your carpet, crowded shopping malls, not having to buy anything at those crowded shopping malls because you did all of your shopping online, latkes, my Jewish coworker's indignant children (who might actually start a War on Christmas; they're absolutely adorable), kolacky, the Airing of the Grievances, Feats of Strength, peppermint mochas from Starbucks, spiced-apple-scented candles, carol services, awkward office Christmas parties, relatives who forget how old you are when they buy you presents, overly aggressive Salvation Army bell ringers, all of it. I love it all. I'll take it all, every last awkward or uncomfortable or annoying wonderful bit of it, because I love the season. It's the one season where people at least give lip service to trying to live the lives we're supposed to be living all year round, and if only for that, I say God bless it.

What's bad:

- Plenty, sure. But there's time enough to go into that later.

A Very Special Thanksgiving Ten:

1. Enya, "A Day Without Rain"
2. Les Nubians, "Brothers and Sisters"
3. Michael Bublé, "A Foggy Day (In London Town)"
4. Dave Brubeck, "A Fine Romance"
5. The Cranberries, "Dreams"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "A Different Point of View"
7. 311, "Livin' & Rockin'"
8. Beat Foundation, "My Freedom"
9. Dido, "My Life"
10. The Temptations, "All I Need"

How about you? What's good in your life? That, your Thanksgiving favorites, your Christmas list, your Random Ten, all of it goes in comments.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On the generous gift of pocket tooties

Okay, so I guess if you spend so much time up someone else's ladybusiness, you might be concerned about being crowded out by "personal massagers" and such. I've mentioned before that the Alabama state legislature has outlawed the sale of personal sexual devices except as used in the course of legislation, health care, or law enforcement (the enforcement of which law is still a mystery to me). Well, apparently, such laws are still insufficient, because it would seem that merely selling a Jack Rabbit within shouting distance of an elementary school is enough to corrupt small children for life, leading them into lives of unspecified debauchery via mechanisms that are yet to be identified.

Anyway, the whole thing is a vague travesty -- a travesty! -- and something must be done:
Alabama Attorney General Troy King might ask the Legislature to amend the state's anti-obscenity law after a Jefferson County judge ruled this month that part of the law was too vague to force closure of a Hoover store that sells sexual devices.

…[Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr.] ruled against the city of Hoover's contention that the Love Stuff store violated a state law prohibiting an "adult-only enterprise" from operating within 1,000 feet of homes, churches, schools, day care centers or other places "frequented by minors."

Vance ruled the law was too vague to enforce because it did not define "adult-only enterprise."

"While Love Stuff clearly sells a number of items that are for adults only, this Court lacks any standards to decide whether it is an `adult-only enterprise,'" wrote Vance, who spent an hour inspecting the store.

Of that hour, Vance spent 45 minutes inspecting the magazines and DVDs in the restricted section and another ten inspecting the crotches of the "sexy" Halloween costumes, now on clearance.

Onetime gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nall, she of the infamous tee-tas, is of the opinion that Troy King would be far more likely to keep his hands off of our personal massagers if he himself had a better-than-passing familiarity with the wonderful world of adult toys. Thus has she launched her campaign to help the poor guy out.
Now, I only have six words to say to AG King about his anti-dildo crusade..FROM MY COLD DEAD FINGERS TROY!!!

I think that Troy may not have any experience with devices used in sexual pleasure, so, I am starting a crusade to introduce Troy King to the fabulous world of ben-wa balls, rubber weiners and pocket tooties. I want to encourage all of my readers to purchase a sex toy of some sort and send it to Alabama Attorney General Troy King. I also think there is something fundamentally wrong with a grown, college educated, elected official who seems to obsess over what other consenting adults in his home state might be using in the privacy of their bedrooms. I mean…don't we have much more serious problems in Alabama that our Attorney General should address?

Follow the link to Loretta's site for more information about where to send those pocket tooties to improve Troy King's quality of life.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On a job worth taking seriously

Okay, so if Tom Cruise and I have one thing in common, it's the fact that we both really hate the glib. (If we have three things in common, the other two are our eyebrow-sweeping bangs and the fact that we both like men.) I make it a personal priority to take myself as unseriously as possible -- there is nothing about me as a person that warrants ulcer-inducing image maintenance -- but I take my work very seriously indeed, because I recognize that a lot of other people depend on me doing my job so that they can do theirs. I show respect for others by taking seriously those things that are important to them.

That's why shit like this pisses me off:

"Gu-huck! Gu-huck! I don't know what's goin' on over there in Iraq. One of the perks of the job, I get to hire other people to know stuff for me. Stuff like what laws regulate arguably undertrained and underdisciplined military contractors we've hired to go on over an' maintain the peace using questionable methods. I don't gotta do my own laundry, either; my job is swell."

Now, I don't expect Bush to be able to name the precise statute of federal or international law that tells us precisely how Blackwater is to be supervised and regulated; that really is minutia that the commander-in-chief has every right to delegate out. But with Blackwater being such a controversial presence in the region, he needs to have some vague idea of who is responsible for keeping them in line, and he needs to respect that that is a very important question. That student didn't use her one opportunity to address the president of the United States to ask that question because the one about his favorite color was already taken; she did it because that was a significant concern to her, and out of respect for her, he should have said, at the very least, "That's a good question, and I don't know the answer to it. But I'm going to consult with my secretary of defense and find an answer for you, because it's important that you and all of the American people understand the methods we're using." Because it's important, and his not knowing is not funny.

Bush is a big fan of laughing at his own ignorance.

"Gu-huck! I don't know nothin' about the economy! I got people to know stuff about that, too. I just keep your taxes low and let some economyologist clean up the mess."

This is the man who told the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia that we are "kicking ass" in Iraq. The man who says that, when he was running for the highest office in the country, he "never really thought about the decision to put men and women in harm's way. I never thought that that would happen." The man who has so much respect for his Secretary of State that he's said, "She's the Ph.D. and I'm the C student, and just look at who's the president and who's the adviser."

"Gu-huck! Maybe you got a Ph.D. and all that, Condi, but you still ain't the president! Ain't it just a hoot that we got a moron in charge of our whole entire country?"

I know I'm not the first to observe that, while Bush does a middling-to-respectable job at scripted events that don't include the word "nuclear," he's absolute crap when let off the leash. Well, here's a tidbit for our president that might improve his skills at extemporaneous speaking: You are the only person amused by your own idiocy. You find it hilarious, and the rest of us are appalled. The rest of us are standing slack-jawed at the flippant yokel who don't know nothin' bout no military contractors/economy/war casualties and don't particularly care none.

Your job isn't just important, Mr. President, it's the most important. You are the leader of the most powerful country in the world and the commander-in-chief of a military at war. Even if you don't particularly care about any of that, we do, and out of respect for us, you need to at least pretend it bothers you that you suck noisily at every aspect of your job. Appear to take it as seriously as we do. Pretend. If you have to stand in front of a mirror for hours upon hours until you've mastered the art of simulated gravitas, then do it, because it's hard enough just knowing you're ignorant and apathetic without having to see reminders of it daily on CNN.

Friday, November 09, 2007

On the good, the bad, and the Friday Random Ten

Idiot kings are only funny when they're fictional

Okay, so after the Florida victory, I said (publicly, if not online) that if we only won one game for the rest of the season, and that game was against Georgia Tech, I'd be a happy camper.

Of course, that wasn't taking into consideration the Through the Looking Glass Season of 1999, in which, despite the Bulldogs' spotty performances and ongoing tendency to play down to the level of our opponents, Georgia could still take the SEC East if we win out the rest of the season and Tennessee gets a loss. It's funny how having nothing to lose can change your outlook on things; I find myself having to swallow my breezy acceptance of a Georgia loss against Auburn this weekend and lining up all of my football superstitions in preparation for a fight. This weekend, I'm going to be in Athens with Doug, watching the game from Tent City, with Jenna, who will be wearing her Georgia sweater, and I'll be wearing my black Georgia t-shirt, which I'd be wearing anyway, because of the superstition, but it works because Geogia is planning to black out the stadium, but I'd be wearing it anyway because of the superstition, and good golly, being a football fan is more exhausting than one might think. I love it, I'm always glad to see football season roll around, but this might be the first year that I'm also glad to see the end of the season.

Too much pressure. Gah.

The good (for the week ending 11/9):
- the Blackberry 8100
- Local coffee shops that know you by sight and start pouring your skim latte before you even get to the counter
- Locomotive breakdancing:

- Monty Python and the Holy Grail screened a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- working together to actually accomplish something (Nice work, guys! Now let's see what you can do about stem cell research, reproductive rights, and ENDA)

The bad:
- wife-slapping as a socially redeeming quality (warning: logic-free logic may cause nausea and dizziness)
- suspending constitutional rule in the face of national security threats

The Ten:
1. U2, "Numb"
2. Sarah Brightman, "Nella Fantasia"
3. Johnny Cash, "Highwayman" (with Willie Nelson)
4. Tim McGraw, "It's Your Love" (with Faith Hill)
5. The Temptations, "The Way You Do the Things You Do"
6. Diane Schuur, "Easy to Love"
7. Portishead, "It Could Be Sweet"
8. Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Peek-A-Boo"
9. Jump, Little Children, "All Those Days Are Gone"
10. Diane Schurr, "I Can't Believe You're In Love With Me"

How about you? What's good for you this week?

Friday, November 02, 2007

On the good, the bad, and the Post-Halloween Friday Not-Even-Random Ten

Oh, I can't stay mad atcha.

Okay, so Halloween is my second favorite holiday of the year (absolute favorite? Christmas. Third favorite? Thanksgiving. Fall and winter are awesome for me; spring and summer are a charmless wasteland, holiday-wise). My friend Amanda said that it's great because it's a chance to be someone completely different from yourself, just for one night, and get away with it. I pointed out that for some, it was probably a chance to be exactly who they really were, but pretended not to be 364 days out of the year, and get away with it. Some comedian whose name escapes me pointed out that it's the only day of the year you can walk down the street drenched in blood and no one bats an eye. However you look at it, it's a good day all around.

What's good (for the week ending 11/2):
- leftover Halloween candy
- Manic Panic haircolor in Wildfire
- that cute guy in the nerd glasses and bowtie outside Dave's Wednesday night
- a hot dog from the questionable hot dog vendor when you've had a little too much to drink
- Georgia 42, Florida 30

What's bad:
- leftover Halloween candy
- "moist." Who's with me?

And a very special Halloween Ten:

1. Dirty Vegas, "Ghosts"
2. The Cranberries, "Zombie"
3. Ella Fitzgerald, "Angel Eyes"
4. Addict, "Monster Side"
5. Rob Zombie, "Dragula"
6. Guster, "Demons"
7. Elvis, "(You're the) Devil in Disguise"
8. Dan Bern, "Tiger Woods"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "Vampires"
10. Amy Winehouse, "Rehab"

What was good for you this week? That, and your Ten, and your Halloween tales of debauchery and smashed pumpkins, go below.