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December 30, 2002
Stuff you’re glad you didn’t get
Posted by Teresa at 12:35 AM *

What’s truly appalling is that this all comes from a single catalog. I found it because Dave Barry made fun of its eighty-buck seashell toilet seat:

The catalog in which we found this item describes it as the perfect gift “for anyone who appreciates the beauty of the seashore.”

How true that is. Because if there are any two phrases in the English language that truly are inseparable, those phrases are “beauty of the seashore” and “toilet seat.”

I went to have a look. But when I got there, I was so distracted by stuff like the Santa Claws Pet Costume that I completely forgot about the Seashell Toilet Seat until I stumbled across it forty minutes later.

They’ve got cat and cow floor protectors. I cannot overemphasize this point: The cat and cow floor protectors look completely demented, and not in a good way, either. But they’d go just fine with the Easter Bunny chair covers, the disturbingly tranced-out Dachshund Friends candleholder, the freestanding dog butler and bear butler statues, and the anthropomorphized S’more nightlight. Forget Dave Barry’s lucite-and-seashells toilet seat; for $239 you can get a white oak toilet seat and cover embellished with an elaborately hand-carved moose head. And if you want to continue the “inexplicable dementia” motif in your garden, there are obese garden ballerinas, giant christmas lights, a toad house made up to look like a pumpkin, and a a 19” dress-up flamingo that comes with asst’d seasonal costumes: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July.

In the Department of “What was the product development meeting smoking when they thought that one up?”, they have a cow-pattern motorized chocolate milk mixer, a 105-piece ladies’ tool set (which is a bog-standard tool kit, only the carrying case and all the tool handles are pink), a Three Stooges talking bottle opener, and a brooch shaped like an angel housebreaking a puppy.

And they have a set of four Easter-theme doorknob pillows. I’ll admit right now that I don’t understand door pillows. They’re an entire class of objects that make no sense. Door pillows are pillows of a useless size—too small to sit on, too big to use as pincushions—that have a ribbon loop on them so you can hang them from a doorknob or some other projecting nubbin. They don’t do anything. You just hang them from your doorknobs. That’s all. They just hang there. The existence of door pillows with seasonal motifs implies that there are people who have encumbered themselves with entire collections of door pillows which they rotate during the course of the the year.

I hope nobody takes this the wrong way, but mundanes are just weird. I mean, not all of them; and I’m sure most of them are very nice people; but I will never in my life worry about whether my bath towels match. Holiday-theme door pillows, and chair-leg protectors that look like little cows, are like sex toys for a specialized perversion engaged in by individuals belonging to the third of five genders of an alien species resident on some distant planet.

Digression: There’s a reality show on TLC called Trading Spaces. The idea is that two households swap homes for 48 hours. During that time, each redecorates one room of the other’s house, with the help of the show’s crew of designers and carpenters.

Patrick found the whole thing confusing. “I’ve never understood this ‘interior decorating’ stuff,” he told me, the first time he saw an episode.

“Okay. By our standards, mundanes own hardly any books.”

“Uh-huh?”

“Interior decoration is what they do with all that empty space.”

(End of digression.)

But it was Patrick who put his finger on what’s weird about this online catalog. After I showed him half a dozen of their weirder offerings, he spluttered, “This stuff is just random!

And you know, he’s right: It’s like someone took the Lilian Vernon and Walter Drake gift catalogues and ran them through a blender, randomly recombining nouns and adjectives: Crystal-beaded water bottle holder. Plush trout doormat. Foosball business card holder. Soft-sculpture birthday cake hat. Beaded dachshund change purse. Green glass dill pickle Christmas tree ornament. Biker guardian angel. Santa Claus waving an American flag.

Materials science and manufacturing techniques get more complex and sophisticated by the year, and the future’s getting weirder by the minute. It may be that we’ve reached the point of no excuse, where any subject may be modified by any trope and the whole concretized as an article of commerce, a sort of kitsch singularity; raising the dreadful possibility that this kipple may actually, in sober fact, be what we (collectively) (in some sense) want.

December 29, 2002
Aha!
Posted by Teresa at 02:11 AM *

Bill Peschel’s Planet Peschel weblog has linked, not to my post about the Straight Dope Message Board’s Tolkien pastiche message thread, but to the comments following my post. Smart guy.

December 24, 2002
Luke, 2:1-14
Posted by Teresa at 06:46 PM *

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David), to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, she being great with child.

And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered; and she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes; and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: That ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

December 23, 2002
A Houseful of Lords
Posted by Teresa at 02:04 PM *

The Straight Dope Message Board has had an outbreak of sheer brilliance. The thread started when someone idly asked how Lord of the Rings would have turned out if it had been written by Ernest Hemingway:

It was very late and everyone had left the hall except an old man who sat in the shadows the leaves of the old Mallorn made against the moonlight. The two elves inside the hall knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he usually was quiet and kept to himself they knew that if he became too drunk he would start setting things on fire, so they kept watch on him.

“He’s drunk,” one elf said.

“What do you care?”

“He’s muttering about the secret fire.”

“Leave him alone. He used to carry a ring.”

“He’ll stay all night. He should never have been rebodied.”

From there they took off running, seven pages’ worth at last count; and some of them are beauts. For instance:
NOTICE:

Persons attempting to resolve the question of Balrog wings by means of this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to define the nature of Tom Bombadil will be banished; persons attempting to find allegory in it will be shot.

BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR,
Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance.

FOREWORD:

In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Quenya Elvish dialect; the extremest form of the Rhovanion dialect; the ordinary Sindarin dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.

I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.

THE AUTHOR.

and:
“QX, Sam!” Cried Frodo. “That zwilnik Gollum had just enough jets to cut me free from that blasted ring!”

Meanwhile Sam’s steely gaze followed the form of Gollum into the cracks of doom. The kinetic energy of its wretched body’s translation into one with the magma became heat. Heat added to heat. It piled up ragingly, frantically, equilibrating, then turning hotter. Hotter! HOTTER! “By Ulmo’s carballoy bowels, ringman Frodo! We gotta get to clear ether!”

“Udun’s jingling bells, Sam! It’s covered. I phialed a message to Galadriel to alert our boys in Aeries we’d be needing them! They’ll be here in 3.3 minutes, Eriador standard time.”

and:
Of the great War of the Ring, and the tast
Of that Forbidden power, the long and
Arduous trek, thru’ fiery, blasted plains
With faithful Hobbits and treacherous beasts
To Chaos’ edge, and there to cast the One
To endless fire and eternal death:
Sing, Heav’nly Muse…
and:
“The Halflings, cap’n, they will na take the strain”

“Strider, we’ve got to get out of this snow. Legolas, did you get a reading on that creature?”

“Fascinating, Captain. It appears to be an unknown creature that lurks in the pool waiting for passing strangers. Ecologically implausible, captain.”

“Do you know what it is?”

“I believe I said it was unknown, Dr Gimli. Logically, if I knew what it was, then it wouldn’t be unknown.”

“Cap’n, we’re in some sort of temporal warp, stretching and deforming the plot. The snow should take place a day before our encounter with this beastie.”

“Captain, what are we going to do?”

“Boromir, put on that red armour.”

and:
Frodo jacked in.

He felt huge, invincible, unstoppable. Some small part of him knew that was the hits of pipe-weed talking, skewing his sense of self, making his nerves scream like they were being raked over rusted chrome. Knew, and didn’t care.

Over his shoulder he could feel Sam hovering, a hollow nonentity. It was eerie knowing he was back there, like having an itch in a limb long amputated. All around him the middle-matrix arced off into an impossible blue infinity, gridlines benchmarking the empty nonspace.

“There it is,” came Sam’s voice. “That’s the ice. Good luck breakin’ in there, man, that was made by a military AI. Name of ephelduath. You ain’t seen nuthin’ like it. They say it’s two-way ice. Not only will it fry your brainpan tryin’ to get in, nuthin’ inside can work its way out. Leastaways, not without sarumancer’s say-so.”

and:
Sam: Come on, let’s leave this place.
Merry: We can’t.
Sam: Why not?
Merry: We’re waiting for Frodo.
Sam: Ah! (Pause) You’re sure it was here?
Merry: What?
Sam: That we were to wait.
Merry: He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Are there any others?
Sam: No, they were all torn down by Saruman. What is it?
Merry: I don’t know. An Ent.
Sam: I don’t see any leaves.
Merry: It must be dead.
and:
Captain “Lucky Jack” Aragorn paced anxiously on the foredeck of the Ungainly. He paused to put the glass to his eye, and surveyed his modest fleet. All indicated from their pennants a readiness to make way: the trim little bark Unlikely, and abaft of her, the xebec Unfathomable, formerly the Lugburz before it was taken from the orcs in the Bay of Belfalas. A nice bit of prize taken that day, he thought enviously. Still, he counted himself fortunate to have cadged this command from the admiralty, given the low regard in which Adm. Celeborn held him.
and:
“If we thought alike of the Dark Lord,” replied Frodo, “your representation of all this might make me quite eary. But I know the foundation is unjust. Sauron is incapable of willfully destroying the world; and all I can hope in this case is that he has been misrepresented.”

“That is right. You could not have started a more happy idea, since you will not take comfort in mine. Believe him to be misreprented, that is is all an error and will soon be able to be hushed up, by all means. You have now done your duty to him, and must fret no longer,” replied Gandalf. “And doing your duty by your friend, will you not throw the ring into Mount Doom and best suit your own happiness? If, upon mature deliberation, you find the misery of disobliging the Dark Lord is more than equivelent to the happiness of saving the world, I advise you by all means to stay home and await the Ring Wraiths.”

“But, my dear Gandalph, how can you talk so?” said Frodo, faintly smiling. “You must know that though I should be exceedingly grieved at his disapprobation, I could not hesitate to throw in the ring.”

“I did not think you would; and that being the case, I cannot consider your situation with much compassion,” said Gandalf.

and:
ELROND: The ring can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor.
BOROMIR: We can’t use it ourselves?
GANDALF: No, the power of the ring corrupts all.
BOROMIR: Yes, but I thought maybe we could use it ourselves… you know, to defeat Sauron.
GANDALF: We can’t use the ring ourselves.
BOROMIR: So you’re saying we can’t use it ourselves.
GANDALF: No, we can’t use it ourselves.
BOROMIR: Because it would be really cool if we could use it ourselves.
GANDALF: Boromir….
BOROMIR: I know, we can’t use it ourselves, but if we COULD….
GANDALF: Which we can’t….
BOROMIR: But if we COULD… it would be neat.
GANDALF: But we can’t.
BOROMIR: I’m just saying that I think we should use it ourselves… if you say we can’t, fine.
GANDALF: We can’t.
BOROMIR: Fine.
and:
(Frodo)
Is this the real life?
Is this High Fantasy?
Caught in a land war.
No escaping my destiny.

(Sam)
Open your eyes, look up to the sky and see…

(Frodo)
I’m just a Hobbit, I need no sympathy.
These Rings are easy come, easy go, Little high, little low.
Anywhere these Rings go doesn’t really matter to me, to me…

and:
Stately, plump Sam Gamgee descended from the rock lookout over Mordor to eat a morsel of stewrabbit and Guinness whilst the Gollumsmeagolstinker twisted and wept and said twelve Hail Marys. “Jaysus, Mary and Saint Christopher,” intoned Frodo from-the-end-of-a-bag, “and will you look at the size of my ringsteel, ringstone, steelstone but it’s dragging my conscience down into the seventh circle like old Dante and the bejaysus sinners, shitting and pissing into old Sam’s pots and pans. And, yes, I remember Gandalf and I said would he take the bloody thing away, and he said he’d be dammed to Hell before he could, yes and him drinking a cup of tea, yes, and he asked would I, my dear hobbit, would I, yes, in my own little bog-hole in the ground, would I for the love of God, yes, take the fecking thing, all the way, away from the Shire, away from the Guinness, yes, and me looking up at into his eyes, all the way to Mordor, yes, to throw it in the fire, and I said yes, I said yes, I will yes.
and, though the spelling’s far too orthodox:
The foot steps ambled through the trackless and uninhabited barin desert parched beneath the draconian sun over shadowed by a wafted clouds. The boot-imprimatured marks of passage, pressed deep by the encumbrance of their thus-shod wearers, and smothered under the rain washed dust, radianced dully against the smatter-dusted earth. Rays of luminous incandescence pounced headlong from the phlogistic orb coursing upward in the arcade of the heavens on the obliterated foots path wending through this sector of the great desert of the Trombunist Empire.

A compassing sword of coruscated steel rammed sparks from the grim mammoth barbarous warrior’s metal ribbed shield he wielded.

“I’ll conduct you to reunion with your forebears in the Hadean haunts of hell,” whooped the second Orc.

“Not if I see you first,” gritted the man called Stridr, the Crumhornian.

and:
Gandalf: Is all our Fellowship here?
Bottomir: You were best to call them generally, man by man, according Elrond’s orders.
Gandalf: Here is the scroll of every man’s name which is thought fit, through all Middle Earth, to go on our quest to destroy the One Ring in Mordor.
Bottomir: First, Good Gandalf, say what the quest treats on, then read the names of the travelers, and so grow to a point.
Gandalf: Marry, our quest is The Most Lamentable Wanderings and Cruel Quest of Frodomus and Gamgee. Now, answer as I call you. Bottomir of Gondor!
Bottomir: Ready! Name what part I am for and proceed.
Gandalf: You, Bottomir, are set down as yourself, a warrior who goes a little loopy over the one ring and dies most gallant for honor.
Bottomir: That will ask some tears97
Gandalf: Samwise, the gardener?
Sam: Here, Mr. Gandalf.
Gandalf: Sam, you must take Gamgee on you.
Sam: What is Gamgee, a wandering knight?
Gandalf: It is the hobbit that Frodomus must love in a strictly non-homosexual way.
Sam: Nay, faith! Let me not play a hobbit! I just shaved my feet!
Bottomir: Let me be Gamgee too! I’ll take a Rogaine footbath and speak in a monstrous little and strictly non-homosexual voice. “Gamgee Gamgee!” “Ah, Frodomus, my master dear! Thy Gamgee dear and gardener dear!”
Gandalf: No97you must be Bottomir85 And Pippin, the hobbit, you the Moron’s part.
and:
“Choose life. Choose a side. Choose a quest. Choose a fellowship. Choose a fucking big sword. Choose elven cloaks, horses, mallorns, and rings of power…choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are and why you’ve got to destroy the fucking thing. Choose sitting by a fire listening to mind-numbing, spirit-crushing ballads, stuffing fucking lembas into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable volcano, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats who left home with you. Choose a future. Choose life…But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
and:
Madame Galadriel, famous Elf Queen,
Had a forbidding realm, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Middle-Earth,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Wizard,
(Those are the grey robes that were his garb. Look!)
Here is Eowyn, the Lady of the Horses,
The lady of battle.
Here is the man with many colors, and here the Staff,
And here is the one-eyed Sauron, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he searches for in your pack,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Uruk-Hai. Fear death by Nazgul.
and:
Any insinuation that Menard dedicated his life to the writing of a contemporary Lord of the Rings is a calumny of his illustrious memory. He did not want to compose another Lord of the Rings - which is easy - but the Lord of the Rings itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide-word for word and line for line-with those of J.R.R. Tolkien.
and, best of all, “The Khazad-Dum Bridge Disaster”:
Beautiful Stony Bridge of the Dwarven mines!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That two lives have been taken away
On the last (Third Age) day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
This post is fondly dedicated to Scraps DeSelby, because he’ll know them all without peeking.

December 20, 2002
Miracles of commerce
Posted by Teresa at 08:16 PM *

Ship of Fools’ brilliant Gadgets for Godalready known to regular readers of this weblog as one of my all-time favorite websites—has put together their annual Top Twelve roundup of religious kitsch, 2002.

On the twelfth day of Kitschmas, my pastor sent to me:

twelve Evangecube Witnessing Tools,
eleven “Our Pastor” Figurines,
ten Nativity Black Bears,
nine floating-sacrament Last Supper Pens,
eight glow-in-the-dark “Jesus” Teething Rings,
seven Adam and Eve Salt and Pepper Shakers,
six Holy Trinity Lego 3-Pak Sets,
five Ten Commandments Throw Blankets,
four Musical Weeping Santas,
three pairs of Holy Cross Boxer Shorts,
two Inflatable Churches,
and a Bobble-Head Jesus Doll.

In their regular “Christmas” department, they have Santa Worshipping the Christ Child, the Moses Nutcracker, and a Jesus Snowstorm. As their writeup has it, that last item is:
One for total immersionists everywhere 96 John baptises Jesus, both of them completely, and permanently, submerged in a blue-tinted Jordan River. Witness a miracle, too. A shake of the plastic dome and an underwater snowstorm erupts (as they so often do in the Jordan). Seconds later, JC brings calm. As a special bonus, the wind-up music box base plays “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” All for just $19.99 (down from $29.99) from Armchair Shopper.

Tacky? Almost tasteful compared with another water miracle soon to be unveiled. A long, invisible platform is under construction on Galilee, a centimeter or two below the surface of the lake. It will allow Holy Land visitors to experience the thrill of walking on water (at a small cost). Be patient. As ever, full details first on Ship of Fools…

That’s just alarming.

Throughout the year, Gadgets for God features such diverse wonders as a Light-Up Musical Jesus, a Mother Teresa Doll that sings “You Light Up My Life”, a Pet-Baptizing Kit, a pair of Giant Praying Hands, videotapes of the adventures of Bibleman, a bronze statuette of Boy Jesus and his Dog, the LDS “REPENT: Tough On Sins” Wristwatch, the Baby Jesus Paddleball Toy, a waterproof Prayer to Saint Gertrude to hang in your shower, the inexplicably horrible Praying Teddy Bear, a Christian Workout Video (“a unique combination of lycra and liturgy”), the petal-opening Hallelujah Jesus Clock, photoshopped Heavenly Images, the Optical Illusion Jesus, the Water Into Wine Doll, Sacred Sneakers, a set of Holy Odor Eater Insoles for your Sacred Sneakers, a Last Supper Wall Clock (check out the spindle placement), a Personal-Alarm-in-a-Crucifix, and the Express Delivery “Return to Sender” Casket; plus, in the food and housewares department, Testamints, Bible-Shaped Chocolate Bars, KJV Chewing Gum, Pope Cake, and a set of refrigerator magnets showing five different Elevations of the Host.

Mosque. Clock.

One of the things I like about Gadgets for God is that they link to some excellently strange sites, like the Religious Experience hot sauce company, makers of sauces called “The Wrath” and “Apocalypse”.

Even better is www.mosqueclock.com: “Home of the mosque-shaped alarm clock; please remove your shoes before entering this site.” This is a find.

Said alarm clock comes in three varieties: travel, classic, and deluxe (only right now everything’s sold out but the travel models), in colors like aqua green, sandal green, camel racing green, dishy ivory, duck egg blue, mosque blue, and rose pink. Basically, it’s a clock in the shape of mosque with brightly gilded minarets, and at the proper five times a day it plays the Azan, the call to prayer, very loudly. For a recreation of the effect this produces, catch their short film, Sandals at Seven, which they have filed under “Fun”.

Hie to Kolob for all your Christmas shopping!

Now, as it happens, I was over at the Gadgets for God website to see whether someone else had beaten me to a recommendation. I’d found a live one: The Lightmindedness and Laughter site, purveyors of fine incendiary tat for ex-Mormons.

Products and inclues:

((Note: “Incluing” is Jo Walton’s extremely useful word for the process and task of working in all the expository material the readers will have to upload in order to read a work of genre fiction. I figure that inclues are discrete elements used in that process. Thank you.)

1. The site’s name comes from a line in one of the temple rituals, wherein Mormons are given “a charge to avoid all lightmindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed, the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other unholy and impure practice.”

2. The License Plate Frames: “Mo” is a stem word signifying “Mormon”. It’s used in innumerable permutations; thus, “EX-MO-BILE: Hot Rod to Hell”. “Because I will not be assimilated” is a reference to many ex-Mormons’ habit of collectively referring to the church and its members as The Morg.

3. The Beggar T-shirt: Ten percent of gross is what devout Mormons are expected to pay in tithing.

4. The Jesus T-shirt: “I don’t know that we teach that” is a reference to an interview five years ago in which Church President Gordon B. Hinckley waffled on that basic and long-established tenet of Mormon doctrine, “As man is now, God once was; as God is now, man may become.” This provoked a vast amount of distress and cynicism. The church has a habit of quietly rewriting its scriptures and doctrines, then claiming they’ve always been that way; but this was a blatant repudiation of core doctrine.

5. The Apostate Smiley, Apostate Neener, and Symbolic T-shirts: The backwards L and the V are two of the sacred marks stitched into temple garments, the Mormons’ holy underwear.

6. “Pay Lay Ale” is supposedly a phrase in the original Adamic Language. It’s chanted at one point in the temple Endowment Ceremony. The phrase is also appropriated by apostate Mormons (like that famous Son of Perdition, Bill Shunn) who drink or brew beer.

7. The Adam-God Doctrine, which states that Adam was God the Father, the father of Jesus in the literal flesh, and also that Adam “…stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or who ever will come upon the Earth” is one of Mormonism’s weirder pieces of old doctrine. Brigham Young came up with that one, and preached it for twenty years. The church would very much like to sweep it under the carpet and forget about it. (The King Follett Discourse is another one. It was preached by Joseph Smith in 1844, and theologically it’s a real lollapalooza.)

8. I can’t fully explain about the shirts with the Temple ID Badges, but take my word for it: If you’re a Mormon, they’re gratifyingly transgressive.

The Truth T-shirt, Greeting Cards, and Clock speak for themselves.

Between running into Lightmindedness and Laughter, and finding out that Joseph Fielding Smith had a history of homosexual behavior, my week was made.

December 16, 2002
Hey Peter, I can see your house from here
Posted by Teresa at 07:17 AM *

How did I miss seeing this page when it first went up? Ernest Lilley has posted pictures of the place where I work. The big mystery: How did he get Publicity to do that?

Good sentences
Posted by Teresa at 01:03 AM *

A small charming anecdote from Blissblog.

December 13, 2002
Which SF writer are you?
Posted by Teresa at 07:30 AM *

Yes, it’s another one of those dumb tests, if not quite as dumb as some of them: Which SF Writer Are You?

It’s making the rounds in the SF community. Politically-heterodox-Scottish-commie-with-libertarian-leanings Ken MacLeod was amused to discover he’s Ayn Rand. Not surprisingly, Jordin Kare came up as Hal Clement. What we need now is to have Hal Clement take the test.

(Me? Alfred Bester. Patrick came up as Robert A. Heinlein.)

December 12, 2002
Blueberry Bang Belly
Posted by Teresa at 06:17 PM *

Mildred Trueman’s Blueberry Bang Belly Page is a collection of blueberry dessert recipes from the Maritimes. I can’t vouch for them because I’m still dieting, but they look good, and their names are charming: Blueberry Dog Belly. Blueberry Buckle. Blueberry Grunt. Blueberry Bang Belly.

She also has recipes for rhubarb and for fiddlehead ferns, but the names aren’t nearly so exotic.

[Recipe Index]

December 11, 2002
Crossroads of Twilight: Hard Evidence
Posted by Teresa at 08:46 AM *

Finished copies exist: Printed, bound, the whole shebang, coming soon to a bookstore near you. Here’s a photo to prove it. The guy holding the book is Tom Doherty, Publisher of Tor Books. I caught him laughing, not that that’s a hard thing to do.

December 10, 2002
Hilchos Xmas
Posted by Teresa at 01:42 PM *

If it would confuse you to hear someone describe Ash Wednesday as the day when all the Catholics come to work with a shmutz on their foreheads, Hilchos Xmas, a.k.a. the Laws of Xmas if Xmas were a Jewish holiday, may not mean much to you either. By me, they’re funny:

2. THE TREE SHOULD BE CHOPPED DOWN SPECIFICALLY FOR USE AS A XMAS TREE; IF IT HAD BEEN CUT FOR LUMBER IT IS INVALID. IF THE TREE WAS CUT FOR GENERAL DECORATIVE PURPOSES, BUT NOT SPECIFICALLY AS A XMAS TREE, SOME AUTHORITIES ALLOW IT WHILE OTHERS ARE STRICT. A STOLEN TREE IS NOT VALID FOR THE MITZVAH.[9] FORTUNATE IS ONE WHO IS ABLE TO CHOP HIS OWN TREE HIMSELF.[10]
9. One who cuts his own tree must make sure that he has permission from the landowner to do so. Ideally, cut only from one’s own backyard. A tree taken from a reshus harabim, such as the county park (which is actually a carmelis, not a reshus harabim,) is considered as stolen and invalid.

10. One who is unable to cut his own tree should make sure to purchase it from a reputable dealer, or one who is certified by a national kashrus organization.

6. THE LAW IS “ETZ ISH U’BEITO” - “ONE TREE FOR A MAN AND HIS HOME”. THIS TEACHES THAT INDIVIDUALS MUST HAVE A XMAS TREE AT THEIR HOME, AND THAT THE MAIN FUNCTION OF THE TREE IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE FAMILY, but public places are exempt. IF ONE WISHES TO PLACE HIS PERSONAL TREE IN A PUBLIC LOCATION HE MAY DO SO, BUT HE WILL NOT HAVE FULFILLED HIS OBLIGATION UNLESS IT IS TRULY SEEN BY THE PUBLIC. IN THIS CASE, “SEEN BY THE PUBLIC” MEANS THAT THE TREE IS LARGE ENOUGH THAT IT IS SHOWN ON THE LOCAL TV NEWS REPORTS.[15]
15. This is the origin of the custom of the great tree in Rockefeller Center, where a shaliach from Lubavitch lights the tree just before sunset on Erev Xmas, and is then returned to Crown Heights by an NYPD helicopter in time for the dinner meal.
There’s also a Hagada for Xmas —
This is the fruitcake of our affliction, which our ancestors baked 400 years ago.

All who are in need, come and celebrate Xmas with us.
All who are hungry, come and partake of this 400-year-old fruitcake, as it is written, “Let them eat cake!”
This year we watch football in the living room, next year may the Super Bowl come to our city!

and some songs:
One little reindeer, one little reindeer,
My father bought for two zuzim.
One little reindeer, one little reindeer.

Then came a cat and ate the reindeer
My father bought for two zuzim.
One little reindeer, one little reindeer.

Naturally, it’s accompanied by a Letter of Approbation from the Kringler Rav.

December 06, 2002
Nutbar
Posted by Teresa at 05:53 PM *

The world is full of deranged people, all of whom are to some extent pitiable, but few of whom are even briefly interesting. However, R. D. Peters has managed to briefly amuse me, by shoehorning a truly remarkable number of errors and misapprehensions into a single paragraph:

Today, I’ll focus on how writers are harmed by the teaching profession. Teachers are another tax payer supported group representing an army of unionized and organized lobbyist. These are persons that manage to use every tax payer funded resource to produce their personal, private books. Thus, their private novels are introduced as home projects outside the work place, when the reality is, they’re using the computers, the printers, meeting rooms and school postage to fund their private book projects. This, not to mention, they’re stealing their ideas from the homework of your children. Every child in America from sixth grade to college senior is being ripped off. It’s as easy as the teacher assigning thirty students to write ten pages about any subject or famous person, and then handing it over to an editor, teacher partner across the country. And of course, the favors are returned. The teacher can then sell the works for far below market prices since they already have a good paying teaching position with excellent benefits, three months paid vacation per year and full retirement at age 55 in many states. At a time when our country thinks politcal and Wall Street scandals for money are the only game in town, I want to point out this slow moving, silent slime that’s feeding off the creativity of American children. It’s the perfect program for liberal, centrist with communistic views, to feed off the creativy and ideas of children that they see as the vermin seed of their enemies.
Needless to say, he’s an unpublished writer, doesn’t know why he’s unpublished, and resents the hell out of it.

December 04, 2002
Back again
Posted by Teresa at 11:20 PM *

Hello, I’m back. With bad luck and worse timing, I became unmanageably ill this past Sunday morning, just as Patrick and I were packing up our stuff to return to Brooklyn from a Thanksgiving visit to Nancy Hanger and Andrew (Elric) Phillips in New Hampshire. (Wave, guys.) I couldn’t possibly travel. Patrick had to come home by himself via train.

Worse still, Nancy came down with the exact same bug on the exact same morning. As she said to me today when I was finally leaving, we are now Barf Buddies. And if there’s an award for hospitality under trying conditions, Nancy and Elric have it coming.

You don’t want to know the details. Let’s just say that if someone you know has this bug, don’t let them come anywhere near you. You may avoid infection, and you’ll definitely lessen your chances of getting splashed.

I drove home today. I’m going to bed now. Don’t look for any stunning bursts of bloggy energy out of me for some days to come.

G’night, all.

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.