My two-tone hair is rather more dramatically two-tone than usual. It’s sort of…dark chocolate and deep salmon.

I dig it. And yes, hopefully someone at some con or other will take photos.

(My stylist made me swear that if the red bit faded to peach/mustard in a week, that I would come back in for an emergency re-dye before Anthrocon. This appears to be a point of pride with her. What she doesn’t realize is that Anthrocon prep leaves me unable to care if my hair is ON FIRE, but y’know.)

Firewater & the Very Drunk Guy

So last night I went to a Firewater concert with Kevin.

Great show. Recommend them very very highly, particularly if you like lyrics written by people with big vocabularies. Buy their CDs. Good stuff.

However, the REAL entertainment of the evening was…this guy.

Now, let me set the stage here. As it happens, the other really big Firewater fan I know is my ex-husband, and so I knew he was going to be there. He and I are still on pretty good terms–I’d told him about the show in the first place–so we contacted one another a week or so in advance to issue the standard Boyfriend/Girlfriend Advisory Warning.

Here’s the thing. No matter how amiable one’s split is, no matter how much ill-will you don’t bear the other party, if you’re going to be in the same club with the chick that you kinda-sorta got left for, you make damn sure that you look FABULOUS.

This is not all that one needs to know about female psychology, but it’s a good chunk of it.

So I was pretty near the top of my game last night in the looks department. This will be important later.

Poor Kevin, as it happens, was startingto come down with food poisoning late last night. This will also be somewhat important later.

So we’re at the club, have made the standard hi-have-you-met polite socialization with the ex, after which we evacuate to opposite sides of the club, and Badger shows up because…well…it’s a good concert somewhere in a fifty-mile radius, ergo Badger spontaneously appears. And this Very Drunk Guy who apparently used to work in the same building as Badger descends on him and begins talking his ear off.

After a few minutes, the opening act has played, and Kevin goes off to smoke a cigarette at the bar. I’m hangin’ out in the concert area, and the Very Drunk Guy notices me, and, as Kevin so succinctly phrased it, “he was all about some Ursula.”

Now, I am not used to being hot, as witness the fact that I am still making vaguely bemused posts like this. I went through my whole life being more or less invisible, and then sometime last year I dropped fifty pounds, got a new wardrobe, dyed my hair unnaturally, and now I can’t walk to the mailbox without getting honked at. It’s like my self-image caught up, but my image of the REST of the world is still lagging. Sure, I think I look good, but it still surprises me when the rest of the world notices. I still find this sort of thing bizarre.

Still, even *I* know when somebody’s trying to pick me in a bar. Unfortunately, while I’m aware that it’s happening, I still have never figured out how to abort the conversation gracefully. I am too damn polite for my own good. My method was to deliver brisk answers and stare vaguely over the guy’s head at the stage, in hopes he’d get the hint.

He didn’t get the hint.

About the point that he was staring deeply into my tattoo, Kevin returned to rescue me, and dude backed off. All was more or less right with the universe.

(Now, I should say at this point that other than being Very Drunk, dude really hadn’t crossed the line. We’re in a bar, hot chick apparently unattended–you’re allowed to try your luck. Once the boyfriend shows up, however, you go away. These are the rules.)

So Firewater takes the stage, and they are awesome, as I think I mentioned, and after a couple of songs–and the shot of Jameson’s–I start dancing.

Now, I am the whitest of white girls, and believe me, I dance like one. If I did a rain dance, mayonnaise would fall from the sky. I got nuthin’.

Fortunately, this is a pretty common affliction, and one suffered by at least half the audience, so it’s all good.

It occurs to me after about two songs that the Very Drunk Guy from earlier, who is about three feet away, is facing me and not the band, and since I was directly behind him, there was really no room for doubt.

This is a trifle unsettling. If you’re going to stare at me while I dance, have the courtesy to point and laugh. Don’t just stare. The staring gets awkward. I start to get embarrassed on the other person’s behalf. Kevin, meanwhile, possibly having picked up on this, is performing one of the many variations on Male Territorial Dance #23 — No, Really, She’s With Me (Dance Mix Version.)*

The song ends. Very Drunk Guy leans past me and sticks a hand in Kevin’s direction. Kevin, somewhat baffled, shakes it. Drunk Guy says, in slurred tones, “She’s just that hot,” drops his hand, and staggers off.

Kevin and I blink, look at each other, and collapse into hysterical laughter, because shit, what else can you do at that point?

Had all ended there, it would have been an amusing footnote to the evening, but alas, no. Drunk Guy returns.

By about two-thirds of the way through the evening, the food poisoning is beginning to make itself felt, and Kevin has headed to the bathroom, to contemplate whether or not he really wants to be violently ill in a stall at adive bar with no lock on the door. (If you’ve never had food poisoning, the worst side-effect is a feeling that the contents of your internal organs wish to vacate, by either end, even if there are no contents.) I am doing the White Girl Boogie again, and Drunk Guy is…still…watching me.

Kevin returns, definitely starting to feel somewhat the worse for wear, but he’s a trooper (and is still blaming the cheap Chinese food from dinner for his affliction.) Drunk Guy is startled! He had forgotten there was a boyfriend! He slaps Kevin on the shoulder and staggers off again.

“Do I look that scary?” asked Kevin.

“Believe me, I’m glad you look that scary…” (It’s the tattoos and the shaved head. He’s really not all that big, but apparently reads as “thug.”)

“…and you were worried about your ex.”

Concert continues. Drunk Guy returns. Apparently he has forgotten yet again that there was a boyfriend, because he “accidentally” backs into me on the dance floor, which requires a pretty significant backward stagger to achieve.

“…and now we’re starting to get into personal space,” says Kevin, fending Drunk Guy off. Drunk Guy is startled! There was a boyfriend?  Wait, is this another boyfriend? Oh…wait…no…vaguely he recalls something of the sort…

At this point, it is worth mentioning Kevin’s internal monologue, which according to later reports consisted of something like “God, I feel queasy. God, I hope I don’t have to kill this guy in this state. “Gee, officer, the bald guy just beat the crap out of this other guy, then shit himself! It was brutal!” That would suck. Hey, this is a pretty good song… God, what is with this guy? Oh, man, I’m never eating at that Chinese place again…”

I head off to the bathroom. When I return, Drunk Guy has apparently apologized at incoherent length to Kevin for having violated his, or my, or somebody’s personal space, and reaffirmed that his girlfriend is hot. To his credit, Kevin, despite the increasing roiling in his innards, was maintaining a sense of humor about the whole thing.

And then, maybe ten minutes later, Drunk Guy pulls out his phone and apparently something on the little screen startles him so badly that he staggers dramatically backwards, arms windmilling, in a move which would have taken me out completely if I hadn’t retained just enough reflexes to sidestep and let the table break his fall.

Drunk Guy blinks at me. Gee, how did I get over there? This table is not hot. He has no interest in the table. Wait, who’s that scary guy behind me? There was a boyfriend? Dude! Wait…this is familiar somehow…

There comes a point where all you can do is shake your head.

Perhaps fortunately for all involved, the show ended shortly after, and I took Kevin home to sleep the unsteady feverish sleep of someone who’s body has decided to kill all bacteria everywhere and let God sort ’em out.

“What I don’t get,” said Kevin, slumped back in the passenger seat, “is…I mean, did he think I was just going to vanish?”

“Maybe he was hoping you’d have a heart attack and I’d suddenly be available.”

We drove in silence for awhile. I kept an eye out for suicidal deer.

“…you’re so blogging this.”

“Ohhhhh yeah.”

(Kevin, it should be said, is sick as a dog this morning, but does not appear to be in any danger, and will hopefully recover before too long. The dogs are very happy to have him home.)

*I quite enjoy this version, mind you, although I generally need a cold shower afterwards.

The Onion A/V club reviewed Nurk! Woot!

Not bad at all…

Fans of Ursula Vernon's offbeat comics series Digger should check out
her first children's book, Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures Of
A (Somewhat) Brave Shrew (Harcourt). The title doesn't quite tell it
all—it leaves out the uniquely Vernon-esque bizarreries, like the
talking- salmon tree—but it sums up most of the story, in which a
determined but fearful shrew sets out downriver in a caulked snail
shell to answer a vague distress call sent by mail. The story, spaced
out with periodic (though never enough) black-and-white Vernon
drawings, echoes The Wind In The Willows a bit in its playful tone and
its sense of a larger animal world that in some ways is much like the
human one, and in other ways is strictly bound to beastly instincts
and fur, claws, and wings.

Throughout, Nurk the shrew is informed and supported by the weirdo
diary of a famous forebear, whose own whacko adventures underline
Nurk's initially mundane troubles with wet socks and uncooperative
tree branches. Vernon's appealingly strange muse still finds its best
expression in her gorgeous color paintings rather than in her more
cut-and-dried prose and monochromatic sketches, but Nurk remains an
enjoyably loopy, brilliantly creative kids' book full of fun narrative
surprises… B+

The Samaritan and the Two-by-Four

So I was driving off to Food Lion to get some quarters to do laundry, and as I rounded a curve by the duck pond in my apartment complex, I slammed on my brakes, threw on the hazards, and jumped out of the car.

Sitting about a third of the way into the road was a very large turtle. The alligator-like tail and serrated back of the shell indicated that this was, in fact, a snapping turtle.

Now, I can and have picked up sliders by the shell, even quite large sliders, and helped them across the street in times of turtle adversity. Some mistakes, however, I don’t have to make, and grabbing a snapping turtle is one of them. I like having all my fingers. I would be sad without them.

I gazed at the turtle. Had it been on the move, I would have acted as a flagger until it got across the street, but the turtle apparently had decided that the road was its rock and it was going to sun itself, goddamnit.

Hrrmmm.

The standard method of transporting a snapping turtle requires either a shovel or a crowbar. I have neither in the trunk.* Maybe if I grabbed it really really far back on the shell? No, no…crazy talk…

I got out my phone. Who to call, who to call…Jason’s my go-to guy for weird crises, but I don’t know if he does reptiles. Badger? Hmm, Badger probably knows the mystic Chelonian Word that causes all members of the tortoise clan to follow docilely along at one’s heels…do I have Badger’s number? No. Damn. Well, Kevin’s working for the government, he probably knows how to herd turtles by now…

While I was dithering, one of the little golf carts that the apartment staff drive pulled up, and a man jumped out. “Ah!” he said. “Turtle!” (English is not the strong suit of most of our maintenance staff. They are all very friendly however, and as the narrative will soon show, kind to turtles in need.)

“Do you have a shovel?” I asked hopefully.

He shook his head, and grabbed a two-by-four out of the back. He poked the turtle.

Swear to god, the thing JUMPED. It levitated like three inches in the air, whipped around, and bit for the board. Hissing. I didn’t know turtles could DO that.

I was exceptionally glad that I had not tried to grab it by the shell.

With the aid of the two-by-four, the maintenance guy herded, chivvied, shoved, and rolled the turtle across the road, while I watched for traffic. I might have protested the roughness of the handling, but then the turtle actually got ahold of the two-by-four, and while it didn’t actually splinter the board, it came damn close. I closed my mouth.

In about a minute, the turtle was safely in the grass on the other side of the street, near the duckpond. The maintenance guy made shooing motions at it and gave it instructions in Spanish. The turtle hissed grumpily at him, but appeared none the worse for wear. Ingrate.

I thanked him profusely, he waved it off, grinning and hopped back in his golf cart.

Upon my return from Food Lion, I went looking, but our shelled friend had apparently made it into the duckpond. The Canada geese were standing around looking nonplussed. The latest crop of goslings seem rather numerically light, which leads me to wonder if it’s not just the foxes getting them.

And a passer-by on a bike tried to get my name and phone number while I was scouting for the turtle, but that’s really neither here nor there.

*For this I fail D&D Adventuring 101. Rocks fall, everybody dies, roll up a new artist.

I Feel A Rant Coming On…

And so I’m cut tagging this. It’s a religious rant! Those are always fun, right?

So in the last week or so, as y’all may have noticed, I have been painting saints.

They’re fun. For some reason, they speak to me on some level…compositionally they’re fun, and they tap into that whole freaky world of hagiography* and religious iconography which is so weird and rich and, let’s face it, totally fucked up in this bizarre deadpan fashion that takes practically everything at face value. There’s some weird quality to the mythology that you can’t get anywhere else.**

They also poke a little fun at Christianity–Catholicism, perhaps most notably, but any of the groups that like their saints. It’s pretty mild fun, all things considered–a mildly dirty joke or two, a whole lot of generalized silliness–and compared to how bitter I’ve been over religion in the past, never mind anybody ELSE, it’s pretty tame stuff.

And for the most part, the Christian contingent of my readership–who are admittedly, a self-selecting sample of open-minded types with a weird sense of humor–have written in to say they’re hysterical. They’ve been cool. I had somebody showing them to a buddy who was a Trappist abbot. My Lutheran boyfriend has ’em as a desktop background and wanted a pack of the mini-prints for his pastor, fer god’s sake. If anybody’s offended, they’ve kept it to themselves, and I’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback.

The last saint I did–St. Snargus–however, engendered offense in a few individuals.

Not Christians. Pagans. People who saw that St. Snargus was martyred by a pagan emperor and saw fit to take offense, the gist of which seemed to be (in comments and notes) that no, no, no, pagans got burned by Christians, not the other way around, and they resented the implication that it could have happened the other way.

At best these were well-meaning souls of the Earnest Young Pagan mold–and Ganesh knows, I’ve been one myself back in the day–who just want to educate everybody about the witch trials and the oppression of happy nature-worshipping pagans and the roots of the Greek paganus, and god, they mean well, and believe me, I have been there, done that, and owned the hand-stitched wand-cozy. All you can do with these people is smile and nod and wait for them to mellow with age and pot, and, should they happen to mention a paleolithic goddess cult stretching across Europe, destroy them utterly and sow the ashes with salt.

At worst…well, we won’t speculate. I was an Angry Young Pagan myself, back in the day, slightly before and to the left of when I was an Earnest Young Pagan. If we didn’t have Angry Young Members of any religion, we’d probably all be Unitarian Universalists*** by now, or worse, and the temples and churches and synagogues would never get painted.

Regardless, we have pagans taking offense to my art making mild fun of Catholic saints because one of them got martyred by a pagan emperor.

This irks me.

This irks me because if you’ve ever read an actual hagiography, my little descriptions were actually very much in that vein, and that was part of what I enjoyed about writing them.

This irks me more because it displays a vile lack of knowledge about history–the Middle Ages were not the be-all and end-all of religious oppression, and the Christians took their lumps and got fed to the lions by the Romans back in the day. And Christians burned each other at the stake for heresy with presumably as much glee as the Romans did to each other centuries prior, because let’s face it, at the end of the day, everybody was doin’ bad shit to everybody else, in a way that says a lot about the ugly side of human nature and very little about what religion one happens to be.

This irks me most because…goddamnit, people.

Some part of my brain, more hopeful or more stupid than the rest, is going “But we’re supposed to be the cool ones, damnit!” Somebody introduces themselves as a Christian, and the vast majority of the rest of us squelch an internal sigh. (You know the sigh. The one that says “I really hope you’re not a sanctimonious born-again twit, but statistics are so gravely against you, and yes, I feel a little bad for thinking this, but I’m thinking it anyway.” I am dead sure that I am not the only one who does this. I STILL do it, and I’m dating a Lutheran, because one really cool credit to his species cannot counteract a lifetime of grim experience, no matter how good he is in the sack.) Every religion has its humorless twits, and I’ve known enough humorless pagans to last a lifetime, but damnit, YOU ARE NOT HELPING.

I suppose I resent it mostly because it’s my own faith–or at least something akin to it, once upon a time–showing up badly alongside one that I have generally enjoyed feeling snidely superior to, lo these many moons. (Is this a GOOD feeling? No. Does it make me a good person to feel that way? No. This is an admission of me-being-a-bad-person, here. I feel snarky about Christianity. Still. Sorry, mea culpa. If it helps any, a lot of you really don’t deserve it.)

And geez, nothin’ pisses a person off like being on the recieving end, huh? I’m too close enough to having to squelch that internal sigh when people introduce themselves as pagans already, I do not wish to slide clear over that particular cliff.

Now, these days I am a rather mellow secular humanist, albeit one with a shrine to Ganesh in the kitchen and distinctly pagan leanings. I don’t know that I’d call myself a pagan, per se, but I’m certainly not a monotheist, and you start to run out of good descriptors after awhile. Mostly-secular humanist? Thingy? I’m not sure if I’m Earnest, and I’m maybe not all that Young anymore, but that’s about all I know. (Okay, okay, a little Angry. I had enough bad blood with Christianity back in the day that I can still get a nice righteous wrath going if I really want to, but it takes a lot of effort better spent on video games and naps.)

I cannot believe I have been driven to defending early Christian martyrdom. Christ on a pogo stick. That’s probably what irks me the most. Somewhere, in some black little chunk of my soul that is still an angry sixteen-year-old who is pissed at God for betraying her, Christianity will always and forever be The Enemy. (Again. Not saying this is right, or that it’s a good thing. This is an admission of personal reality, not an endorsement of it. This is also not an invitation to try to change me.) And the reasonable part of me that knows its history and was most of the way to a classics minor and is beholden to the truth is having to nudge that sixteen-year-old aside with the toe of her boot, and say “Look, we’re all just people together. Deal with it.”

I didn’t like eating crow at sixteen, and I still don’t, although I’ve gotten better at doing it, even in a graceless and half-assed fashion. So I say this to my pagan brethren the world over–If CATHOLICS are makin’ you look humorless, you have gone WRONG.

Now I know why Kevin sinks down in the seat a little whenever we get cut off in traffic by a minivan with an ichthys on it.

(Of course, at the end of the day, my buddy Brooke may have said it best, “…it’s a capybara and a trout. People are getting bent out of shape about a capybara and a trout!?”)

Let the flames commence if you must, I probably deserve them. I’m not even sure who I’m defending any more. Probably not myself, anyway.

It’s a funny ‘ol world out there, ya know?

ETA: On the other hand, I gotta say, I do feel better about my sense of religious tolerance now, because my brain started whispering “How can I piss those people off EVEN MORE?” which is something it does whenever I manage to hit a nerve among the humorless. At least I’m an equal-opportunity bastard.

*Study of saints. I’m gonna be using it a lot, so I wanted to define my terms.

**We will use mythology in this case as an indicator of having-the-quality-of-myth, not speaking to the veracity of any particular saints. Plenty of them were made up out of whole cloth, or WERE myths, but I’m not equipped to sit down and argue about exactly how many virgins, if any, St. Ursula may have been martyred with, or what psychosis St. Christina the Astonishing really had, and there will be plenty to get one’s panties in a wad about later in the rant without starting here. Promise.

***This Is A Joke. I normally would not feel obligated to say this, because the Unitarians DO have a sense of humor, in my experience, although many of them also slide into Earnest Young Flake mode, god knows–but given the rant, better safe than sorry.

So my good buddy Brooke (aka

) took me out for a post-birthday lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I was not allowed to skip dessert. Brooke has the dress-size-prophecy gift, and was the first person to tell me that I was a size 8, long before I actually went and tried something on and discovered she was right.

Today I attempted to protest that I had been eating like crazy and had to be at least a size 10 again…right?

She gazed at me with gimlet eye, and informed me that I could probably fit into a 6, and we were going to Banana Republic after lunch to test this theory.

Yup.

Dude.

I balked at spending $78 on a pair of jeans, even if they did make choirs of angels descend to sing in a little circle around my ass, but apparently they run frequent sales on-line, so I’ll keep an eye out.

Then we wandered the mall for an hour mocking the current state of the fashion industry, which is pretty easy to do this year. In addition to the whole everybody-looks-pregnant empire waisted look (I hate them, and I’ve got such a short waist that they’re only bad on me, instead of godawful.) apparently these weird tie-dyed pink and brown thing are in. We wandered by store windows, staring in slack-jawed awe.

“Who took tie-dye and decided to make a prom dress out of it!?” Brooke demanded of a cold and uncaring universe. I had no answer.

The teal chiffon with ruffle-edged cleavage window was also impressive. The gold-lame zebra-pattern jacket required a second look. The real show-stopper, however, was a…thing…I cannot adequately describe…sort of a tanktop, made of what appeared to be four shapeless billowing ruffles in clashing 70’s patterns. In sheer rayon. With a fabric rose at the throat. Only someone with a relentless and undying hatred of the female body could have come up with such a shirt. Someone half-dead of starvation would have looked bloated in it. We almost bought one, on the understanding that the other party would have to wear it if they lost a bet, but could not think of a suitably important bet to justify such horror.

Brooke and I probably shouldn’t be allowed to wander around unchaperoned. We stopped to gaze at the little crystal animals (which I would never buy, being a cat owner) and I noticed one of two kingfishers on a branch. I like kingfishers enough that even though it was reasonably hideous, I had to stop and look. It was $950.

“Well,” said Brooke, “If you ever have a spare thousand dollars…”

“Fuck that,” I said, “if I ever have a spare thousand dollars, I’m getting laser hair removal on my pubes.”

Brooke folded up against the wall and took a minute to recover from this statement.

Then we went and looked at saltwater fish, that being Brooke’s major vice. They had lots of really cool corals and gorgeous fish. I drooled. Mind you, I can just about keep my two guppies alive (a pair of male Tequila Sunrise fancy guppies) and have no business even looking at saltwater tanks, but y’know. Someday if I’m absurdly stinking rich and can justify hiring a guy to come take care of the tank, and have given enough money to charity in the last five minutes that I don’t feel guilty laying out hundreds of dollars on coral.

Then I wouldn’t get anything DONE because I’d be staring at the tank all day, but y’know.

I should paint fish. Saltwater fish people are probably just as crazy as dog show people and birder people. Klimt’s Lionfish or Klimt’s Tang might do quite well…

One of the cats dispatched a two inch long centipede in my absence.

This is impressive, given that killing a centipede generally requires serious hammering with a boot, or ideally, a rocket launcher.

I praised them both as Mighty Hunter and Accomplice.

And now I’m going to cling to the ceiling and gibber for awhile because THERE WAS A GIANT FREAKIN’ CENTIPEDE IN MY HOUSE DEAR GOD KILLKILLKILLBLAAAAARGGH!