Archive for January, 2009

Aretha Cobain

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Admit it. You want a commemorative Aretha hat to wear on high state occasions or just out getting groceries. Here’s our denial, rocking the look:

cobain in aretha's hat

Remember where you were when you heard Kurt Cobain was dead? I was at a conference for AIDS Memorial Quilt chapters at a downtown hotel in San Francisco, and I went out onto the street in search of coffee and saw the headlines. How appropriately dislocating, to be at a conference talking about senseless deaths that happened too soon, and suddenly be faced with another one.

Oh look: Another one, dead too young, but so fetching in his Aretha topper:

Elliott Smith

Those bows work on anyone. Here’s a cat in the hat:

cat in the hat

See lots more here.

Gong Hay Fat Choy

Monday, January 26th, 2009

picasso bull

Oops, I fell into a hole for a little while there. It was the week between accepting a job and starting said job (which is today! wish me luck!), with a little inaugural fever thrown in. Plus, I have a top secret nephew project going on (shh, don’t tell my sister!), and I also did a 1-day cleanse wherein I gulped epsom salt and grapefruit juice, then spent the next day watching Alias, with a few trips to the bathroom thrown in (ahem). A lazy day of wig-wearing intrigue AND a waist—suh-weet!

So happy Year of the Ox to you! May your waists be sleek, your nephews imminent, and your leaders dapper asskickers who are already on the case.


According to my friend Betsy, the direction you take when you leave your house for the first time in the new year matters, so follow these instructions if you haven’t already left home today:

The best time to leave your house is between 9 AM and 11 AM.

Best direction to walk for luck: Southwest
Best direction to walk to invite divine help: South
Best direction to walk to invite the wealth spirit: East

(You may choose only one direction.)

NOTE:  Walking in the Northeast direction attracts bad luck.

Me, I’m going for luck. Wealth is tempting, and divine help is always welcome, but doesn’t luck cover all that and more?

And which way are you headed this year?

picasso bull2

Picasso bulls from the LIFE archive, longhorn via

Brother’s Got It:
A Post-Inaugural Punch List

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

According to the Sasha Obama barometer, today is exuberant with winds of change:


Since it’s 50 degrees outside now that Barack’s the president, I’m taking the dogs to the park for a blissful run-and-snurfle. While we’re out, enjoy the afterglow with these little treasures:

Take a Victory Lap: Download DJ Z-Trip’s great new Obama Inaugural mix. (And be sure to pick up the election mix, while you’re at it.)

Listen up, says Jay-Z: My president is black.

Sigh like a giddy schoolgirl (or, you know, ME): Revel in the first couple dancing to At Last (and give full props to Miss Beyonce, who done good).

Take it worldwide: Watch the build of all the global front pages graced by our new president.

Double your pleasure: Marvel at the difference between a three-pointer and two double-Es. (And then try to put the past straight out of your head…)

And finally, meditate on the change that’s come with: Reverend Al Green, Billy Preston, Seal, Luther Vandross, and Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

Happy Obama Day!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

fired up

I’m heading over to mom’s to watch and weep with her. My prediction? We’ll both cry more today than we did last night at the end of the dog movie, where the most predictable thing in the world* happened and everyone in the joint bawled like motherless calves. Even my dad misted over, although he claimed he was just “missing his dogs.” Who were home. 2 miles away. Waiting for dinner.

I’ve been meaning to post about all that happened on election day—to me, to us, to the world—and wouldn’t it be psychically resonant and beautifully circular if I could do that today? But I’m still sitting with that experience—in fact, I think I’m still having it, and need the circle to be unbroken before I can comment on its roundness.

So stay tuned, and watch as history steps outside itself, marveling at the crowds of congregants, with so much hope in the ozone it cuts Washington’s January chill.


*Duh. The dog (aka Jesus-with-behavioral issues) dies.

Bottom image via

A Blessing For Obama

Monday, January 19th, 2009

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears—tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger—anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace.


-Bishop Eugene Robinson

Sigh. I loves me some openly gay episcopal bishops. “O god of our many understandings” sounds to me much larger than any sort of rinky-dink god-in-church-on-Sunday. Not even “god,” so much as that-which-we-invoke in times of large experience, where we put our hopes, our shared pleas.

It’s a container for all of us, whether we’re drawn to the inestimable or pulled to that which we can measure; whether we’re believers in this holy tradition with the singing and the soaring words; or that one over there with the funny hats; whether we’re radical non-believers who worship only trees or ideas; or we’re strictly wait-and-see spiritual sorts; whether we keep faith with the rational, the theoretical, the testable—hold the miracles, please; or we take our blessings where we find them, in the smell of our lover’s hair and the clean joy of strawberries.

It’s the recognition that millions of people coming together creates something larger than the sum of all those lives; a power greater than wars or hurricanes or bursting bubbles, bigger even than bungling leaders or bad intentions.

Yes we can.

Yes we did.

Yes we will.

obama teeshirts

Prayer via, image via.

Hola From My Lazyass Weekend

Monday, January 19th, 2009

archie sombrero

I spent Saturday in a supine orgy of library books (2 trash novels completed, multiple thoughtful works, both fiction and non, ignored), and actually fell asleep around 7. I realized this when I woke up from a thrashy nightmare around 9 pm, only to find, in my sweaty panic, that Archie had done an unspeakable thing in the bedroom and was busy wandering around like a restless adolescent bent on irritation. He gets antsy in the evenings; he’d rather be dinking around down at the Seven-Eleven, drinking Slurpees and playing video games with those thugs he calls friends. So I jailed him for the night, just tossed him onto the bunched-up towel in his crate and covered him like a squawking bird.


I released him on my second insomnia break, around 5 am, and he promptly burrowed under the covers and yanged Stella’s yin. With dogs, it’s always a matter of punishment versus reward: timeouts are important, but the gift of two heartbeats in bed with me, both curled between my knees, is hard to deny.

I Kissed a Girl

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Oh, Archie. She’s way too young for you.

archie and faith

archie macks on faith


About My Level of Understanding

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Amanda has never seen any of the first trilogy films, but it turns out that Star Wars is in the water, like fluoride or something, because she does a better job explaining the plot than I ever could (and I saw them all!):

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn’t seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Also, who is Boba Fett, and why should I care??? (Jules, I am looking at YOU!)

Dirty Balloons

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Follow this link to watch some hilarious outtakes, as well.

I couldn’t embed the YouTube version of the video, since YouTube has gone largely silent, killing both the rickroll and the enjoyable stroll through old live music performances (you will be missed!). And I’m sure you’ll agree, the sound is a vital part of the fun.

Originally spotted at fubiz.

Wolves at the Door

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

torn wolf

In third grade I learned the word vixen (in the lady wolf sense) and suddenly started hearing it everywhere. It was vixen this and vixen that for a while there, and while I’m sure most of these were really references to the sassy hussy meaning of the word, I was only eight, and would have thought they were talking about girl wolves (I loved wolves!), not girl humans. I’d probably heard the word before, but I didn’t really pay it any mind until I learned it.

Maybe I’ve been lucky up to now, but it feels like I just learned a new word and suddenly it’s everywhere. This time, the word is cancer.

And I guess I’m still luckyluckylucky, because it hasn’t hit me or my immediate family. But christ in the foothills, check out this list:

+A coworker’s husband has a glioma in his brain, which is sitting like a gorilla on his motor cortex. He didn’t get his first symptoms checked, because he’s claustrophobic and couldn’t handle the MRI. Now he faces the tube every few weeks, along with a cocktail of steroids and kindly poisons which have both taken his mobility and given it back over the last couple of years. The bigger drugs are like that: they kill you and keep you, both.

+My friend’s girlfriend fought—and won—against colon cancer, but when she woke up after her initial surgery (before the six-month course of chemo and radiation), she found out they’d taken her uterus and an ovary, too, because the cancer had spread. So when you think about how life can change, imagine waking up to that at age 34.

+One old friend here in town has breast cancer, and I have not done enough to help her yet. I need to make some freezeable food. Or take her DVDs. Maybe she’d like Buffy? She could visualize staking her vampire cancer cells. She has a son who’s only four. I can play blocks with him. I could read him stories. We could color outside the lines together.

+Another old friend is in remission from a dire combo of Grave’s disease and thyroid cancer, which stole most of last year. She’s better now, but I remember how she took care of her beloved dog Casper in his last years; he had Addison’s and diabetes and needed micro-calibrated shots throughout the day, and an intensely restricted diet, and she kept him alive through sheer focus and will. I know how hard it must have been to need such care herself, and I am so grateful she got it.

+A friend in San Francisco’s brother has a treatable form of cancer that didn’t get treated early enough. He thought the year of night sweats were just stress, and now it’s invaded his lymph, his blood. I worked in an HIV/AIDS organization for years, so night sweats would have sounded a clanging alarm in my brain, but I wonder which symptoms I’d ignore? What signs would I—do I—tell myself are just stress? We’ve each got within us a powerful reservoir of magical thinking and hopeful denial that makes it especially hard to face these things head on. Going to the doctor, we imagine, might make something real, almost as if the weight of the waiting room conjures up a diagnosis, making manifest a destiny we do not want.

There’s more. I had dinner with my honey’s dad and stepmom the other night, and we got to talking about genetic testing. She’d had breast cancer several years back, and has been in glorious remission for more than five years—victory, breathing room, a cure, even.

But since then, I’ve learned:

+My mom’s cousin’s kid just died at age 35 of a cancer so rare that only 20 people have had it. They’re burying him in Iowa once the body arrives from Boston, where he was being poked and tested and treated and not cured.

+That same mother’s cousin’s kid’s sister has cervical cancer and is on her third round of chemo. They won’t give her any more after that.

+And worst yet, I heard this morning that an old friend’s dad has an invasive brain tumor and may not last the year. It’s just been the two of them for most of her life, and I know that she won’t rest until she’s with him (and not even then, I’m afraid. She’s entered the long season of waiting; everything has changed.) So the family’s packing up and heading to his side, before he has emergency brain surgery. And I have everything crossed on his behalf, hoping hard for skillful cuts and mighty drugs, and enough time with all of them that the kids will remember their grandpa and know how much he loved them.

I learned this latest hard news on Facebook, where I’ve heard about several of these diagnoses via elliptical status updates: this person is mad at cancer, that person is so tired after they put in the shunt, this other person is thinking about blood and brothers. And it’s a funny reminder that for all the superpokes and the silliness, social networking actually keeps us engaged in the peripheries of so many lives. It lets us know when to worry, to care, to dive back in to someone’s life.

So here are my updates:

I am sad.

I am thinking about my friends and their families, about love and loss, about fighting the good fight against the hardest enemy.

I am hoping I can help, whether it’s casseroles or late-night consolation.

I am wishing I could do more.