Thursday, July 27, 2006

A View Of Hedonism - And It's Aftermath

As I was surfing the web this afternoon, I came across a story that reminded me how entertaining hedonism could be. I also found a story that reminded me of what the aftermath of hedonism is, and one that showed what happens if you try to save a hedonist in a manner that's outside of the box - so to speak.

Let's start with the good stuff, shall we? Management at a radio station in Fresno, California decided it was time to change the station's format from its fare of Christian music and scripture. After some thought and consideration, they decided the best format to adapt was the most obvious one - "Porn Radio." The station is playing a loop of songs with suggestive lyrics and titles and advises listeners under 21 not to tune in. They even go so far as to "heat up" songs that aren't spicy enough with canned moans and groans. This tickled me to no end, but I am an incurable atheist after all. Can you imagine some poor Fresno native with a bit more faith turning on the radio this morning expecting to hear "Marching Up The Heavenly Road," and hearing "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," instead? Just picturing the look on that person's face makes me giggle. The speculation is that this is a publicity stunt designed to stir up buzz before the station settles on its final, official format. (Update - 7/28/06: Click here to see the first porn video ever posted on VFTT, if you dare.)

Okay, I realize my finding the humor in this may mean to some of you that I need some salvation. You may be right, it's not nice to laugh at the suffering or discomfort of others. I'll repent with this story I found on the Buzzle website about, an anti-pornography ministry in Corona, California ("The #1 Christian Porn site!" according to the site's home page) who wanted 10,000 customized Bibles to hand out at conventions. They placed an order with the American Bible Society, a non-profit publishing company that's licensed to publish Scriptures. Upon receiving the order, the ABS contacted the ministry's founders, Mike Foster and Craig Gross, and informed them the company would not accept the order. Why? Because ABS felt the customization requested, a cover that read, "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" would be "misleading and appropriate" on such a publication.

Can't win for losing, I suppose. Needless to say, Foster & Gross were not happy. They posted a statement on their website proclaiming their efforts were (ahem) pure at heart and not a case of shock value to sell a mission - Jesus loves the porn stars, they said, and not the porn. The group also has a MySpace profile and a companion arm is being developed in the United Kingdom in case you're interested.

All this talk of porn, recorded moans, and sexuality is enough to make one want to run off to, say, the Hedonism resort for a quick one. Vacation, that is. If you are like the average American, chances are you'll take Blackberry with you (on vibrate, I hope) on your quest for paradise. According to a report I found on the MSNBC website, more Americans than ever are combining business with pleasure, with 43% of us working during our vacations - compared to 23% in 1995. Moreover, more of us are hot and bothered on our vacation, with 10% of us unable to relax until we worked it out. Our workload that is, not other tensions. The poll conducted by Steelcase, an office furniture and design company, also found that the 41% of folks on vacation run their fingers across their laptops instead of through their vacation partner's hair.

Remember what they said about all work and no play, folks. More to come later, after I kick back and relax.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A View Of The TEM's Head Clutter

I've got a block of head clutter this big, and it's got VFTT written all over it. Fortunately, the stuff falls into some pretty distinct categories.

  • What's going on in your head? - It seems that Steely Dan is not too thrilled with Owen Wilson right now. In a letter posted on their website, they claim Mr. Wilson stole the idea for his current movie, "You, Me, and Dupree" from their song, "Cousin Dupree." (Click on the link for more info and a link to the song.) Trouble is, Owen Wilson is the star of the movie, not the writer. If anyone stole the Dupree idea, it would've been (according to the IMDB website) screenwriter Mike LeSieur. Seems like a lot of fuss for a movie described by many critics as a bad idea all around. It also seems like some pretty good publicity, too. (Update - 6/28/06: Here's a link to a really funny summary of this feud I found on TV Guide's website. Her take on this tempest in a teapot is almost as funny as the Steely Dan letter. Enjoy.)
  • A head too big for the room - Remember Ken Jennings? He was the winningest contestant in the history of "Jeopardy," collecting about $2.5 million in a 74-game streak. You'd think he'd be forever grateful to the show for his windfall right? Wrong. In a July 19th post on his website, he bites the hand that fed him. Check out the part where he lets loose on Alex Trebek. The show's management and Mr. Trebek have decided to keep a cool head, opting not to comment on the post or Mr. Jennings's half-hearted apology in a later post. Did you know that Alex Trebek's real name is Giorgi Suka-Alex Trebek? That's enough to give anyone a slightly swelled head.
  • Get your head out of the gutter - Kudos to BET for finally pulling the plug on "BET Uncut," the late night video show that featured videos considered too hot for airing during prime time. According to reports, the show isn't being pulled because of the racy, often misogynistic content (remember the fuss over that Nelly video?), but because the station wants to do something different in the time period. I can't help but wonder if part of the change has to do with a woman, Debra Lee, being in charge of the network now. She may have a bit of a battle on her hands with this one because some of the show's more loyal fans are circulating petititons to keep "BET Uncut" on the air. These folks illustrate that old adage that if you don't stand for something, you'll be forced to jack off to other things.
  • You need your head examined, part 1 - I hope I will never be able to understand or comprehend the anguish John Walsh and his wife Reve went through when they lost their son Adam. I hope that if I'm ever faced with such a horrible catastrophe, I'll be strong enough to fight to protect other children and families from ever facing such a fate. I also hope that I'll never become callous enough to make a joke as tasteless as the one he made during the Summer TV Press Tour about punishment for child molesters, though I do understand where that sentiment comes from. What makes this story even sadder is that Mr. Walsh acknowledged the inappropriateness of his comment and made it anyway. Twice. The only good news in this story is that Mr. Walsh's show, "America's Most Wanted," will be back on the air for its 20th season to continue the fight against crime this fall and that the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act broke free of the usual political wrangling and was finally passed on Tuesday.
  • You need your head examined, part 2 - This story broke my heart on many levels. Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity in a Houston, Texas today for the drowning deaths of her five children, aged 6 months to 7 years old. She claimed that, in a psychotic episode, she was trying to save her children's souls by killing them. She'll be committed to a mental institution instead of the life sentence she faced had she been found guilty of murder. You also may remember that she was found guilty at her original trial back in 2002. That verdict was overturned when it came out that a psychiatrist for the prosecution had embellished his testimony and lied about some of the facts in the case on the stand. Do you also remember the story leading up to this tragic incident? Her husband had been aware of her history of post-partum depression, including suicide attempts, but kept insisting on having more children anyway. See if you can guess who else needs to be institutionalized in this story along with her.
  • You're a real blockhead - That's all you can say to a jockey so frustrated with the performance of his horse in a race, all he could think to do is head butt the animal. He later apologized. (Wonder if he apologized to the animal like Mr. DVD apologized to his animals.) CNN's Jeanne Moos, knowing a good story also has an even better historical heritage, recently aired a report about the history of head butting for the good of all mankind.
  • How did that get in your head? - That's the $64,000 question in an Independence, Missouri courtroom as a man goes on trial for allegedly ramming a cell phone down his girlfriend's throat during an argument. I am not making this up. According to the prosecution, Marlon Brando Gill was jealous and angry. The defense counters that Melinda Abell intentionally swallowed the phone to keep Gill from calling another woman. Complicating matters is the fact that Ms. Abell's story has been inconsistent, partially because she admits that she had too much to drink the night of the incident to remember what actually happened. Never drink and dial, folks. And what must the roaming charges have been?
  • You've got a good head on your shoulders - Let's end this on a happy, uplifting note. Here's the story of a local man who did the right thing and is being rewarded quite nicely for his efforts. Charles Moore, a homeless, unemployed man here in Detroit, found a bag containing about $9,000 in bonds. (The bonds would be worth $21,000 upon maturity.) He turned the bonds in at a homeless shelter, and they were returned to the rightful owners. They gave Mr. Moore a $100 dollar reward, and the story made the local news. Normally that would've been the end of the story, but some other people in the community felt he deserved more. As of today, he's received about $4,000, clothing, and a job offer, with an outpouring of thanks continuing to come in for him. He said he never had a second thought about what to do when he found the bonds. "The best policy is honesty," he said, wiping away tears of gratitude for the love being sent his way. If that doesn't make you smile or warm your heart, nothing will.

More to come later, once I get my head out of the clouds.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A View Of Even More Reasons Why Fuel Consumption Sucks

I forgot to add these reasons to yesterday's post:

  • Cars attract jackals. A friend of mine was on her way to her car over the weekend when she was greeted by a sight similar to the one in the picture above. Thieves stole all four tires off her new car. The damage they did to the car, including the stolen tires, comes to about $7000. Her insurance company is giving her a hard time , not to mention the inevitable increase in her rate because of the theft; the management and owners of the apartment complex where this took place are dragging their feet about their part in the theft (turns out the security guard on duty was fired by the managing agent for being asleep on his post - again) and are fighting her attempts to get them to pay her deductible; plus she encountered a very clueless customer service rep from GM in an attempt to get her car taken in for repair. (This Hoover Award is going to be a whopper, trust me.) The only persons who were of any assistance to her were the guy who finally towed her car and, believe it or not, the Detroit Police who came to the scene, surveyed the crime scene and took her report within five minutes of the theft being reported. (Quick, someone alert the folks over at Detroit Uncovered. They'll never believe it.) Shame 911 in Detroit doesn't perform that effectively on a consistent basis.
  • People do stupid things with passengers in their cars. We've all heard the stories about parents leaving children in hot cars, often leading to tragic results. A report in the Detroit Free Press earlier this month discussed efforts underway in the state legislature to toughen up laws to address this form of child abuse, even when no harm comes to the child that's been abandoned. That law may need to be extended to cover all animals - not just dogs and cats - as this story about a cockatoo that perished in an overheated car. (And if you made any sort of reference to the phrase, "your goose is cooked," as you read this, then you're one sick soul.)
  • Overzealous flight attendants can go too far. Did you hear about how Mo'nique got thrown off a flight because of a hair dryer? Or how she was told to tell "your people" they were being thrown off their flight because an "attitude" is not tolerated in this post 9/11 world? United did issue an apology for the incident, but it was described as a "tepid" one, and now Mo'nique is calling for a boycott of United Airlines.

Commuting ain't easy. More to come, after that long walk home.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A View Of A Cat Burglar

Check out Willie, a cat from Pelham, NY, who has a gardening glove fetish.

I've said it at least two times - what the hell is the deal with East Coast felines? And what do they lace in the catnip?

More to come later, after I ship the Fuzzy Bunch off to kitty boot camp out East.

A View Of Some Reasons Why Fuel Consumption Sucks

I've tried to avoid complaining about the way gas prices have been increasing. It's been hard, but so far I've been lucky. Right now with gas prices averaging $3 a gallon (a 25-year high according to a report from MSNBC), it costs about $37 to fill up the tank on my Escape (no it's not a hybrid - sigh....) and I fill up about once every 7-8 days. Some other folks I know haven't been so lucky - one friend of mine is paying about $100 to fill up his tank, and because he's leasing, he's stuck for the next two years.

(Want to know how much gas is averaging in your area? Click on this link for a chart giving a state-by-state breakdown of gas prices in the country.)

Next year at this time, when gas prices (if they keep increasing at the current rate) hit $4 or even $5 a gallon, the story could be completely different, who knows how I'll be affected. And we all know how it's affecting the economy - the Big Three (especially Ford) are struggling with huge inventories of big SUVs that were profit centers for the auto industry before the oil prices went out of control, and families everywere are coping as best they can to deal with the strains on family budgets. Add in the tenuous situation in the Middle East, and the world's struggles with oil and fossil fuels are just beginning.

In short, our dependence on fossil fuels and our current fuel consumption sucks. Don't believe me? Check out some of these stories for more proof.
  • High prices are making drivers more reckless, like this guy who did his best Evel Knievel imitation, including a really nasty wipe out probably caused by a faulty carberator. The story includes a video link if you are the type who can't turn away from a car (or bike) wreck.
  • Increased evidence of global warming - the heat of the summer has affect all points east, midwest, and west. Even beauty queens wearing chain mail dresses aren't immune.
  • People are searching for ways to keep the U.S. auto industry afloat, but nobody can really define what a domestic auto truly is any more. A poll conducted by the Detroit Free Press and Channel 4 Michigan shows that the majority of Michigan citizens prefer to buy American when they purchase a vehicle, but the line between domestic and foreign is not as clear as it used to be. For example, did you know that the Fusion, currently one of Ford's better selling vehicles, is built in Hermosillo, Mexico? Or that the Honda Accord is made in Ohio? Or that the Mitsubishi Raider is built by UAW workers in Warren, Michigan? I found out that my Ford Escape is built on a modified Mazda 626 platform and will be manufactured in Taiwan beginning in 2007. They car you own may be violating immigration laws.
  • If you think gas is expensive for your car, truck, or SUV, can you imagine how much it costs to fuel up the Space Shuttle? True, the shuttle runs mainly on liquid hydrogen (a fuel that's not being realistically explored for use in automobiles) and oxygen , but when your vehicle has a fuel tank that has a volume of 53,518 cubic feet, you're bound to max out your Visa card at the pump. The next shuttle mission is scheduled for an August launch, but think of the example NASA and the Federal government could set by deciding to curb all unnecessary travel and conserve energy? There's really no reason to go to space right now, especially since a recent report revealed that the final frontier most Americans would like to conquer - sex in in outer space - carries such downsides as spacesickness ("...Save the acrobatics for post-play vs. foreplay...."), an abundance of sweat and pooling of other bodily fluids due to a natural convection, and complicated physics and Velcro to help couples maintain the proper posture to, ahem, maintain connection and achieve maximum thrust (try not to giggle the next time you hear that phrase from Mission Control) - that even if it could be achieved, the experience would be (and this is a direct quote from a NASA physician) "underwhelming." Why spend all that cash and consume all that fuel for underwhelming sex when you can just stay home and have underwhelming sex the old fashioned, earthbound way?

I told you, fossil fuels and excessive fuel consumption sucks for us. And not even in the good way. If you're a Kuwaiti citizen, however, you're doing quite well given the current state of fuel consumption. According to this report, Kuwait's financial assets have topped $166 billion dollars, allowing the government to give each citizen a grant of $690. The board of directors at Exxon Mobil are looking into relocating their headquarters based on this news - they only made a profit of $25.3 billion dollars in 2004, a record.

More to come later. After I feel the pain at the pump.

A View Of There's No Use Talking At All

"Something has to happen to change the direction/What little filters though is giving you the wrong impression/'It's a sorry state,' I say to myself...."
-Missing Persons

If you've ever read about Lenny Bruce (or like me, took the easy way out and just watched "Lenny" when it came on cable), then you're aware of a basic point behind many of his hilariously raunch monologues. The movie shows a stand-up monologue he performed at a club where he tossed around every possible racial slur you can think of, aiming them at random people in the audience, which flows into a racial slur auction (ending in, as best as I can recall, "...sold, one American."), then winds down into a mini lecture on how the use of "dirty" words can be neutralized by simply using them openly without fear - words, he argued, lose their power when they are allowed into everyday lexicon and not hidden.

Click on the picture for some famous Lenny Bruce quotes, including the monologue I mentioned above.

(I'm not doing the scene or the monologue justice, by the way. Go to your friendly neighborhood Blockbuster/Hollywood Video/whatever, or update your Netflix queue and check it out. It's a very good movie.)

He had a valid point, but I wonder sometimes if the point has become perverted after reading this story that originally appeared in the New York Times. It was recently republished in the Detroit News. The story is about how the word "slut" has devolved from a damning slur into a term of endearment in some teen circles. The fact that the Detroit News, a traditionally conservative paper, ran such a provocative story is a perfect illustration of Mr. Bruce's point - exploring the use of, and the meaning behind, seemingly taboo words and phrases helps take away the power of language to demean or disparage a person. At the same time, the idea of two 12-year-olds happily greeting each other with, "Hey, slut!" or even remembering the famous (and funny) "Jane, you ignorant slut..." line Dan Ackroyd uttered many a Saturday Night can't help but make me feel as though we're becoming a more callous and cold nation. Don't even get me started on my attraction to and repulsion by the actions of Samantha Jones, or performers like Lil' Kim, Madonna or Beyonce (who isn't slutty per se, but comes quite close to the line occasionally). I admire their confidence and grasp of their sexuality, but find it hard to reconcile their flaunting sexuality for sexuality's sake. Can there be a balance or do words get in the way of the message?

Lucy the Slut from Avenue Q - Is she humorous or hurtful?
Click on the picture to learn more about her and the Tony Award winning musical.

Then there's the debate over the use of the word nigger, especially in the black community. A word that was so demeaning at one point, the most detestable insult one could use against an African-American, is now used by some - especially the young - as a term of endearment. Why is it so shaming to hear two young black men greet each other with, "What's up, my nigga?" yet so funny and transendent when listening to a Richard Pryor routine? When does a word cross the line from being a source of comedy to a source of shame? Mr. Pryor famously did a 360-degree turn on the use of the word after a visit to Africa, saying he could no longer use the word after becoming so acutely aware of his roots - his newly discovered racial pride would no longer allow him to be so loose with the term. More recently, Dave Chappelle, Aaron McGruder, and Randall Kennedy have explored the power of the word and whether or not it should be used - each coming to their own distinct conclusions. Mr. Chappelle walked away from a multi-million dollar entertainment deal because of his own internal struggle with the way his humorous take on race and race relations was being received. Mr. McGruder defended his use of the word in a highly controversial episode of his show, "The Boondocks" on Cartoon Network, and unapologetically plans to keep using it - his reasoning being close to the reasoning Mr. Bruce used to defend his performances. Mr. Kennedy explored the history of the word in a controversial book, "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word" - one that was and is hard to find in some bookstores because of the fear and anger the word continues to generate. When does a word shed its image as a weapon and become merely a word?

Others in society are struggling with the power of coarse language in its many forms. The use of swear words in modern society was explored by correspondent Steve Hartman yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning, and I had to chuckle at the thought of Charles Kuralt spinning in his grave every time a swear word was bleeped out during the report. I also chuckled at the idea of "Jiminy Crickets" being a swear word in the 1800s. It's now okay to say the word "damn" in mixed company - one could dare say that the word is as harmless as Jiminy Crickets is now - but are we a better society because of this? Just think of the words we say out loud daily in front of others - elderly, children, you name it - and ask yourself if the loss of the impact behind them has made us better as a community or worse.

Click on the picture to learn why this innocent looking little guy was once a dirty word.

I came across another report about how a more recent exploration of the power of swear words, the film, "The Aristocrats" has been released for broadcast, but only HBO has stepped up to air it, and only after 10:00 p.m. The film will never be screened on network TV because of the language and themes it explored. It's also the only film in American cinematic history to receive an adults only rating without any nudity or graphic violence. I saw the film when it was released last year - with my cousins and mother. I laughed out loud, gasped, and then cringed ever so slightly, leaning over to my cousin to ask him if it was appropriate to view such material with my mom sitting next to me. I can't remember what his reply was, but I kept watching and laughing with my mom and in spite of my mom's presence.

I later noted the hypocrisy of the fear television outlets have nowadays broadcasting this film, or anything that could be deemed offensive or obscene - one slip of a nipple (and really now, weren't we more shocked with how low that nipple hung more than we were the nipple being exposed?), one word in the wrong context may bring on the wrath of the FCC. Except, that is, when the President lets the s-word fly with his mike on. Some cable and satellite outlets ran with his slip of the tongue, while most broadcast TV and radio shied away. Only NPR's "All Things Considered" sent out the full, unedited story for broadcast, and even then some affiliates debated the appropriateness of airing it. If the POTUS says the s-word for the world to hear, does it not make a moral mess upon the ears that hear it?

Or, if you don't mind the scatological reference, is this nature of this debate Shinola or a big pile of shit?

I still can't reconcile it. Wonder what Lenny would make of this today?

More to come later, if I'm not fined by the FCC.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A View Of The Light And The Heat

This piece titled "Lust" is by Simeon Solomon, a British artist with an interest in pre-Raphaelite work. Learn more about the artist by clicking the picture.

It's been a long time, but I'm back and I simply can't contain myself. The urge to blog has me swept away with desire. Lust and desire (or lack thereof in one case) is the dominant theme of these items I came across as I surfed today. Get ready for the rush, but remember that just because you think you can take the heat doesn't necessarily mean you should hang out in the kitchen.
  • Just because you teach a kid the facts of life, that doesn't mean they're going to rush out and try some independent study. Reuters reported today that Texas researchers have proof teaching sex education to adolescents may encourage them to delay sexual activity until after high school.
  • Just because a society is open about sexuality, that doesn't mean they want everything to be sexy, as this article points out. Seems that New Zealanders have had their fill of Samantha Jones.
  • Just because you're a Christian conservative, that doesn't mean that you can't reach out and touch someone when the mood strikes. Dubya just could not keep his hands off that Teutonic Titwillow (click on the link if you don't get the reference), Angela Merkel. Hope Condoleeza doesn't have a jealous streak. There's even a link to a video clip if you're into presidential groping.
  • Just because you're a genius, that doesn't mean you don't like to get your groove on. Turns out Albert Einstein was a mack daddy in his day, with more than half a dozen girlfriends along with his wife. I wonder what the formula for not seeing nothing wrong with a little bump and grind is....
  • Just because you might like a bite on the neck, that doesn't mean that it's okay to nibble on nubile underage flesh, as this Goth guy from New York found out recently. He's on trial for using a vampire-related Internet site to procure young girls. Remember folks, Anne Rice's stories were fiction - she didn't mean for anyone underage to act out her stories.
  • Just because you're at the forefront of a movement to obtain equal rights and protections for all, that doesn't mean that you'll live up to all the expectations. One of the couples who were part of the landmark case to legalize gay marriage in Massachusetts have separated. According to a spokeswoman for the couple said the couple, "are living amicably apart...The plaintiff couple in this case are real people with real lives. They're not immune from life's ups and downs...Certainly over the course of time there will be same sex couples that separate just as happens in other marriages." They are also seeking privacy during this time for the sake of their daughter. Let's hope they are given the courtesy and care they deserve and that people aren't quick to use this as an example as to why gay marriages should be banned. I wish them good luck and all due strength.
  • Just because a couple is living together, that doesn't mean they are breaking the law. That's the ruling from a state Supreme Court judge in North Carolina, who struck down the state's 201-year-old law banning co-habitation. Relationships are hard enough for people to manage individually. It's good to see that governments are slowly but surely learning to stay out of the bedrooms of consenting adults. Here's hoping the law will come around and allow consenting adults of all orientations the same courtesy, and soon.
  • Just because you're a child star mature beyond your years, that doesn't mean you're mature enough to do a rape scene in your next movie. At least that's the debate going through the media now about Dakota Fanning's next film. The 12-year-old's next movie contains what's been described as a "graphic scene," by some and "tastefully done," by others. This clip from CNN examines the controversy, even though they do go over the top when the caption "rape = Oscar?" appears on the screen. As for my view, it's hard to say how the scene will play without seeing it, but I have to assume she or her family would not have allowed the scene if it was too much for her to handle. Time will tell.
  • Just because you're thin, that doesn't mean you can't be too thin. Another clip on the CNN site asks you to choose - bone thin or bootylicious? I'm going to have to choose very soon. I visited my doctor yesterday and was told that I needed to lose a lot of the junk in my trunk. Now. Or else risk developing diabetes or hypertension. Guess that song was right - you can have too much booty in the pants. (Click on the link, then select the first song if you dare. Can you believe there's actually enough booty music out there for a compilation album? Who knew?) All things considered, I'd rather have too much than too little. Some of the actresses they show in this clip are frighteningly thin. The eye opener is when it's revealed that Nicole Kidman covets JLo's body.

Why do we all crave what we can't have? Lust and desire are funny like that.

Speaking of desire, this will have to hold you until early next week because yours truly has a guest coming in town this weekend. Remember a while back when I was ruminating over the Prince Charming and Toad paradox? Turns out my prospect is definitely not a toad and leaning toward scales toward the Prince Charming side of the spectrum. If you look at the comments for that post, you'll get a flavor of what he's like. There's only one catch right now - PC to be is in PA and yours truly is down in Motown. Just because you find satisfaction, that doesn't mean you can have what you want when you want it.

Relationships, like lust and desire are funny like that. More to come later, after a weekend of light and heat.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A View Of, "I Have A Headache This Big...."

It always starts behind one of my eyes - a throbbing feeling like something very sharp is trying to force its way inside of or from out of my head.

Pretty soon, the feeling is behind both eyes and centers itself in the center of the bridge of my nose. It's an intense feeling - like pressure and radiating pulses simutaneously. Imagine having a giant rubber band around head right about where your eyeglasses would be, then imagine that same rubber band shrinking. Or picture this:

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, the sensation will stay in that area. Other times, the pain will grow, creeping down the back of my skull to the base of my neck. When that happens, it's hard to even tilt my head. No matter where the pain starts, or even where it decides to migrate, all I can do is lie back and take it.

Sometimes medicine helps. It seems like I've taken every type of headache and sinus medicine out there. They go away for a while, then the weather changes. Or it rains. Or it gets really humid. Or it gets really dry. Or something. Right now, I'm on not one but two sinus and allergy medications - a pill at night and a nasal spray in the morning - and everything was fine until this weekend when I got hit with a lulu. I was off work and in bed for two days nursing a head that felt like a balloon fit for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. All I could do was wait to sneeze, then the cycle would start again - pressure, pain, sneeze, sinus drain, slight nausea, pressure again. I came to work today still feeling queasy, but feeling only one bout of that damn pressure - this time behind my left eye.

It's nothing new. When I was a kid, I suffered from horrible migranes with the works - aura, sensitivity to light, nausea, intense pain. My mom did everything she could to make things better - taking me to the doctor, trying all sorts of remedies, holding my hand through all the tests, telling me that it would be okay and I would get better. I had x-rays taken, EEG's run, I was poked, prodded, pulled this way and that, and still the headaches came. I can't imagine what it must have been like to tell your 5 year old that she can't have any medicine until the doctor can take a look at you and not lose it, but my mom did it. I felt sometimes as though I was making everyone else sick along with being sick. After all the tests, all the treatments, all the worrying, the only thing they could tell us was that they didn't know what caused the headaches and that I'd eventually outgrow them. Hearing that diagnosis was enough to bring on a whole new wave of headaches - ones caused by wondering why and if it would ever end.

The doctors were partially right. By the time I reached my teens, the severe headaches went away. No more sensitivity to light, no more auras, no more nausea with every headache. When I was a kid, I could count on one of the headaches at least once a month. Now it's once every three or four months, give or take a month or two. They're still not sure what brings them on or if they'll ever stop.

I go back to the doctor again tomorrow, and we'll start over. Hopefully, something can be done to help lessen the pain if not make it totally go away. If not, the cycle will continue. Kind of like beating one's head against a wall because it feels good when I stop.

More to come later, 'cause I haven't got time for the pain.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A View Of Reason #3 Why I Am An Atheist

Because the most zealous believers are this side of certifiably nuts - like the people in this story about the "Statue of Liberation Through Christ," erected in Memphis yesterday by the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church.

And the overly zealous tend to get their facts scrambled, like the passage in this article about the origins of the Statue of Liberty. This post on the Urban Legends Reference Pages ( tells the real story.

Don't even get me started on those whack jobs from Kansas who prey on the families of dead soldiers.

More to come later, with a clear head.

A View Of Some Folks With A Really Big Pair

Some folks really have a pair, like:

  • This guy, who streaked on to Centre Court at Wimbledon during the Sharapova/Dementieva match yesterday. Alas it was all for naught if he was trying to get Sharapova's attention. "I didn't really look at the guy, thank God," Sharapova said later. "I didn't want to look at all the details." No word on whether Dementieva peeked, but she did lose the match.
  • The guy who couldn't bring himself to feed the rat he bought as dinner for his pet python. He kept the rat but didn't neuter it, and he ended up with over 1,300 rats in his Petaluma home instead. He's also the same guy who let his apartment be used as a hideout by two of the three men who kidnapped Frank Sinatra, Jr. I'll let you guys run with the Rat Pack jokes. And no, his name wasn't Willard.
  • The state attorney's office for letting Rush Limbaugh off with no state charges from the incident with the smuggled Viagra. Doesn't look like there will be any federal charges in this case, either. Guess this means he's the newest member of the Slick Willie club.
  • L.A. Animal Service director Ed Boks, who backed the city away from plans to accept money from a "Hooters for Neuters" fundraising event. Ads promoting event reportedly included a flier with a picture of a dog wearing a "Hooters for Neuters" t-shirt. Somewhere, Bob Barker is weeping.
  • James Jenkins, a pedophile so determined to overcome his compulsion to molest young girls, he castrated himself. The Washington Post shares his story (which it said he told "with the clinical cool of a surgeon") and examines the debate over whether or not castration is legitmate treatment for sex offenders.
  • Stephen Humphrey, a 39 year old man from Romulus, Michigan, who is suspected of severing his wife's right arm. They both talked to the police about the incident, but the stories don't quite add up on either side. Domestic violence is believed to be at the bottom of this case and alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor.
  • Sophia Loren who, at age 71, is reportedly posing for the infamous Pirelli calendar wearing nothing but a pair of diamond earrings. Some people (including yours truly) applaud her confidence and openness, others claim they don't see the point behind it. Ms. Loren says, "You have to be firm about it when you make up your mind to do something you like and you've been thinking about doing for a long time." Show those amateurs how it's done, girl!
  • Like Keira Knightley, who is downplaying reports of her suffering from anorexia. "I've got a lot of experience with anorexia — my grandmother and great-grandmother suffered from it, and I had a lot of friends at school who suffered from it," she said in an interview "I know it's not something to be taken lightly and I don't." Take a look and decide for yourself:

Is she thin, thick, or just right? Click on the picture before you decide.

More to come later, when my pair can rise to the challenge.

A View Of The #2 Reason Why I Am An Atheist

Wouldn't it be funny if Dan Brown was right?

Because of the misogynistic tendencies of organized religion. I have never been able to grasp the concept of women not being able to serve in leadership positions simply because of gender. It's an ongoing struggle that seems to be having major impacts on the course of religion and worship, according to an article I found on the Newsweek website. Women make up 61% of all Americans who attend church, the article states, but many are unable to take leadership roles because of the stance of their denominations. Moreover, 112 million Americans belong to denominations that don't ordain women. If you are a female Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Christian, Southern Baptist, Mormon, Muslim, or an Orthodox Jew, you better be content to sit quietly and not disturb the men. Check out this chart on the Beliefnet website for a breakdown of the status of women of the cloth in several denominations. I would think that a god who created all and loves all of his or her creations would want them all to have equal access and autonomy.

To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I don't want to belong to a club that requires me to have a penis in order to be a leader. Or even be heard.

More to come later, but not before this brief announcement about comments. Because I've had three experiences with comment spammers, comment posting has changed. Feel free to submit your comments, but note that I've added comment moderation to my blog. If your comments, positive or negative, have merit I will post them. If your comments are just a waste of space, I'll delete them before they can be seen. If the spammers go away, I'll go back to free comment posting as before. I may not believe in a god, but I am the god of the VFTT site.

It's good to be da deity.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A View Of The Running Of The Bulls

Why do good girls love bad bovines?

Dear Ben Wallace,

I'd like to thank you for the time you spent with the Detroit Pistons. You made an indelible, highly prized mark on the team. Your success with us brought much joy to my city and Pistons fans everywhere. While I wish your career could continue here with us, I understand your need to move on. Good luck to you in Chicago.

Let me take this moment to offer you a bit of advice. Whatever you do, be sure to avoid the Bulls mascots at all costs. They make Dennis Rodman, another Motown hero who went to the Second City, look like a Boy Scout. Benny and DaBull's bad behavior could easily make them the Pete Rose of the Mascot Hall of Fame.

Wishing you the best,

More to come later, after I bronze my Big Ben wig.

A View Of The #1 Reason Why I Am An Atheist

Because the ones who are the most adamant and strident about believing in God are usually so insecure about their beliefs that they're threatened by those who don't share them.

How else can one explain the reaction some "true believers" are having to the PG rating given to "Facing The Giants" by the MPAA? Or the current push toward moral legislation, like abolishing gay marriage, limiting a woman's right to choose, or the display of Christian dogma in government buildings?

I don't know much about religion and even less about the whole God thing, but I do know that the strident nature of the Christian right seems to border on pride and wrath - and according to what I've read, God didn't like those attributes in mankind. Virtues like prudence, liberality, and charity are supposed to be what mankind is supposed to uphold. If a person doesn't hold the beliefs of the majority, that doesn't make that person a threat. It simply makes him or her different.

And, if I remember correctly from my reading, didn't God create mankind in His image? That means, if you believe, everything on this planet is a reflection what God is supposed to be. Changing the rules midway through the game can't change that fact.

It's all nonsense to me - the game of religion and God, that is - because I think that religion and God is a creation of mankind to cope with the overwhelming nature of things we cannot understand. Death is intimidating. Why we were created and why we exist is an eternal mystery. We've been staring at the sky wondering if we are alone in this universe for centuries and we still don't know the answer to that question. Creating the myth of an omniscient being who sees all, knows all, and controls all is quite the security blanket. When circumstances change in our world, this being can be molded into an image that continuously soothes when the questions become too frightening to bear.

And if others don't follow that belief, or dare to question the logic behind that myth, they too become a threat. That makes no sense to me. Life is all about exploration. If one stops challenging authority, stops asking questions, stops accepting the norms at face value, then one's life ends. From my experience, the blind faith of the Christian right in this country and their lashing out at those who dare to be different - the agnostic, the atheist, the Jew, the Muslim - is truly corrosive.

We deserve better than that. Questioning, challenging, thinking, evolving - that's the American way. If your exploration takes you closer to a God, then good for you. If it takes you to a more secular point of view, that's all good, too.

Thomas Jefferson said it best, "Divided we stand. United we fall."

More to come later, after I celebrate my independence.

Update (7/5/06): I've found two more quotes from Mr. Jefferson that sum up my beliefs more eloquently than I could ever hope to put them. Here's the first:

"The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ. "

Here's the second:

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the word, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."

I have no quarrel with those who believe, however. Another wise man once said you gotta serve somebody. Again, I defer to Jefferson, who gets the final word with this quote:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend."

More to come later from your favorite heathen.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A View Of We Know Where We're Going, But We Don't Know Where We've Been

It's a very slow day at work for me. Surfing the net is keeping me entertained, though. Had this been a typical day and not the Monday before a holiday, I would not have found a perfect illustration of irony on the MSNBC website. (This is also in the July 3-10 issue of Newsweek.)

Seems we Americans can't stand the idea of $3 a gallon gas, but a growing number of us will think nothing of driving 90 minutes or more daily to work so we can own a big house and a big yard, preferably outside of the big, bad city.

Don't leave me stranded here. I can't get used to this lifestyle.

More to come later. After I fuel up and you click on the picture to see who actually said that last quote.

A View Of A Break For It

There are only 35-50 thousand macaques left on the planet. No wonder they want to break free.

Moving can be stressful. Packing the bags, labeling the boxes, changing neighborhoods - it's enough to make one just want to run away from it all.

It certainly did for a Japanese macaque in Roanoke, VA. During her family's move to new digs at Roanoke City Mill Mountain Zoo, she finally couldn't take it anymore and left. She's nearby, but hasn't come home yet.

Her family and the museum's curator, David Jobe, are doing everything they can to get her to come home. "We hope that because (macaques are) active in the daytime, she slept last night and woke up this morning hungry. We hope to take advantage of a hungry monkey."

The zoo and surrounding park are closed as the search for Oops (named for the fact that she was conceived even though the others in her pack were not expected to reproduce - a name that no doubt added to her stress) continues. Residents in the area have been advised to call 911 if she's spotted and not try to capture her on their own.

Did you know that macaques are one of only three mammals who are known to wash their food before eating? Maybe this one got a hold of some of those tainted Chicago M&Ms.

Hungry, cornered macaques can be a bit cranky. Hope she enjoys her vacation and gets a clean snack.

More to come later.

A View Of A Memo From The Candyman

We now know what really makes him crispy....

I've been asked to post the following memo.
June 29, 2006
To: Management, M&M Mars Candy Production Facility, Chicago, Illinois
From: The Candyman

lyric was, "Who can take a sunrise/Sprinkle it with dew," not "doo." The mistake you've made, while understandable linguistically, is unspeakably gross. Please make the appropriate adjustments in the preparation of your confections immediately.

Thank you.
More to come, after I make the switch to Hershey.