Wednesday, September 27, 2006

tiptoe through the terrorists

Today it was announced that a Berlin opera cancelled its controversial modified "Idomeneo"--a piece in which Greek sea god Poseidon commands the mortal king of Crete, Idomeneo, to murder his own son. The king gets out of it when his son's girlfriend, in an act of altruism, rushes up to be beheaded in his stead and some how it works out that Poseidon's command is overruled and they all live happily ever after. In the modified Berlin opera Idomeneo appears onstage accompanied by the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha, and the prophet Mohammed, in a visual representation of Mankind's victory over the gods.

The piece was cancelled due to the producers' concern that showing Mohammed's severed head on a chair may offend some Muslims and it could put theatre employees and patrons at risk for car bombings.

May I make a small request, please, of all religious radicals?

Could y'all kindly get down off your damn high horse?

First you got your panties in a wad because people included Mohammed in cartoons. Then your wedgies further shimmied between your cheeks when the Pope mentioned that the Big M was a douchebag. Now you've got the european theatre circuit scared out of their boots to say anything that might irk you in the slightest because its very bad PR to have your theatre blow up on opening night.


Most people--all religions alike--can take a joke. "So Jesus and Satan walk into a bar..." and "So Buddha is in a candy store..." are not uncommon openers for them. If the joke is good enough, everyone gets a charge out of it, and even the really religous people smile and hope their diety of choice enjoyed it too. Very rarely there's some uptight turd at the next table who scuttles over and expresses just how offensive they found that, you faithless heathen, and i'd appreciate it very much if you went and blew yourself, but that's typically the extent of it. Everyone gets a good laugh at the twit's expense and nothing ever comes of it. This is what we call "not letting one's religion get in the way of living." Because lets' face it--if we all lived the way it says we should in those ancient texts, life would really, really suck.

Now, however, it is not so easy to kid. Now we know that there's some Muslims out there who have a real chip on their shoulder about their religion, and they want to make sure everyone knows it. Mohammed is like every fanatic's little brother--you say anything mean about him, they're gonna fight you. En masse.

what makes you so goddamned special that you feel you have the right to take offense when people who Disagree with your beliefs express them? "We're the only right religion, all the rest of you are going to hell--in fact, i'm going to kill you now so you can be Hellward bound even sooner."--GUESS WHAT.


Otherwise they wouldn't buy into it.

a=b. the statements are synonymous. I believe it because I believe it.

The planet Earth is rapidly spinning out of the time of gods. We don't need them anymore--we've figured out that the gods we invented in our sacred texts don't actually encompass--or even shed light on--the true enormity of the universe. The incomprehensibility of infinity. Where babies come from.

The staggering number of wacko religious people is getting to be a good indicator that its time for change. These people are terrified that the world no longer has room for them. That their outdated ideas are rapidly fading from quaint to backwards, like when you realize that grandpa's war stories are actually the unintelligable babblings of a syphilis-rotted brain. The religious fanatic chooses to reject the truth of progress and resents all who have happily passed him by. Rather than fade quietly away or join the movement ahead, however, he gets angry at everyone and reacts violently. The zealot would rather have negative attention than no attention at all.

This does not mean, however, that we should be patient with them--try and coddle them into behaving and quietly going about their lives like everyone else. No--just like the child who has learned that throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store gets him candy, the only way to break the vicious cycle of violence and appeasement is to ignore it entirely. Eventually they'll have to cry themselves out, get up off the floor, and come along quietly.

I may have mentioned this before, but I find religion offensive and would rather not have easily-recognizable houses of worship in my town. Same goes for the Golden Arches of McDonald's joints. Both establishments convince people that the most staggeringly outlandish lies are true in spite of heaps of evidence to the contrary (for organized religions, its that the Earth is the focal point of the universe; for McDonalds, its that their chicken sandwiches are now somehow good for you.) They do it with the cunning use of crayons. Yes, Big Church and Big Business have figured out that if you lure in children with promises of fun, colorful baubles and unconditional love, they'll stick with you for life.

Congratulations, Deutsche Oper, you caved. You did exactly what the terrorists would want you to do--you compromised your artistic integrity, you let down your patrons, and you fuelled the zealots' fire by going out of your way to not offend them. You censored yourselves because you were afraid--terrified--that the big bad Muslims would spank you for saying something mean about their idol.

A more mature way of handling this situation would have been to identify that a threat was possible, tighten security at the entrance, and go on with the show. Tighten it around the block if you'd like. Anyone who's flown in the past five years is used to queueing in security lines. Its a necessary evil these days that we all hate and all blame on W...but its either that or change who we are to appease the men with bombs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


whatever psychotic IDIOT it is who shot my cat, I will find you. I will hunt you down. I will give you the beating of a lifetime. If you're lucky, you'll only wind up committed to a lunatic asylum for the rest of your life for expressing very clear sociopathic tendencies (i.e. deliberate, unfeeling cruelty to animals). If the rest of the world is lucky, I'll kill you. If you think its funny to hurt a cat, you probably think its funny to hurt a person, too.

At the very least, the police are involved. You fired a deadly weapon in a highly populated residential area--an area in which dozens of school-aged and younger children live--in the middle of the day at an animal that was minding its own business. This is not the kind of thing that neighborhood folk like to hear.

MY CAT IS 16 YEARS OLD. If you DARE to tell me that she attacked someone, got into your garbage, or even so much as left my yard...frankly, you're lying.


To say the least, I take it personally. My cat has lived in this neighborhood longer than you--this i can guarantee. To say you didn't know what Boots looked like is to say you didn't know you had a left hand. She wasn't some random stray making trouble. She doesn't wander further than thirty yards from my house.

Moreover, I guarantee you that our neighbors like my cat better than they like you.


My cat is in critical condition. If she dies, or has to be put down because to keep her alive would be torture, I will fly home and crack skulls together until I find you. Boots has been a better friend to me than you will ever be to anyone, and the least anyone could offer her was the chance to die with dignity on her own terms.

You should be in prison, or at the very least an asylum. You're a sick individual and you should not be allowed in the presence of children. I hope there is such a thing as Karma and your leg is shattered when you're hit by a bus in the near future.

If I never do have proof of who you are, know this for the rest of your life: at the best of times, there are a dozen people who hate you. I'm one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

not on drugs

Say you have a car that's in bad shape. In tinkering with it, over the course of decades, you manage to replace every single component of it. Not a single washer, wire, or drop of oil was actually part of this car when it left the factory. it legal to not change the licensing, taxation, and insurance information on it? Could you conceivably pass it off as the same car you bought? I mean I know every car has a VIN visible through the windscreen, printed on that inaccessable part of the dashboard, but if you replace even the frame of the car...but it takes so long that each little fix and change would be minute and barely noticeable, if at all. I mean is it the same car? Perhaps, if you took into account the amount of time each replacement part spent among components of the original vehicle you could claim that the spirit of the original was carried, by varying degrees, in the replacements. But then it gets all blurry and metaphysical.

If you replaced the odometer I think it would make it ineligeable for legal resale.

I'm trying to figure out at what point it becomes a different car. To use another example, when I was a kid my dad bought a computer. Over the years we replaced the memory, the disk drives, the motherboard, all the wiring, the OS, all the software, the keyboard, the mouse, the printer...even the Monitor, before we scrapped the tower and its components and replaced them. But the keyboard, the mouse, and the monitor are all the original replacements which worked with the old tower--under the old regime, if you will. But when the tower changed, it was a new computer.

What do you have to replace to make it a new car?

Or in a person. Your cells refresh constantly. Over the course of a decade all the cells in your body will have died and been replaced. Except maybe the brain cells--nobody's ever really given me a straight answer about that. (The brain grows with the head when the body grows, and it is constantly being fed with blood, and you continue learning and making neurological connections every day, and yet people will tell you that when you kill brain cells, they're gone. That your brain is constantly boiling away whenever you take drugs or smoke cigarettes (though interestingly nobody ever mentions pollution in this equation.) I have a hard time buying that. If that were the case then how could adults get brain tumors (and how could carcinogens be to blame for this?) And moreover, people do recover from head injuries. The concussed are not always doomed. Folks can have their ability to read knocked out of them, but it can come back. People can forget and re-learn. To imply that the brain reaches a levelling point and then just dies off from there is folly. Or a bold-faced lie.) But if every component of you is replaced, does that make you a new person?

I think so. I think people's personalities, habits, and appearances change at about the same rate as their overall cellular refreshment. Some people call this "maturing" but i've known many people who have "matured" into assholes. I think once a person's entire self has renewed, they should get a new name. New social security number, new driver's license--everything. Because they've changed. Calling someone by the same name after they've transformed like that is the equivalent of showing up on Manhattan Island and wondering why nobody is wearing wooden shoes and speaking Dutch. (er, well, why nobody who isn't talking to themselves in gibberish is wearing wooden shoes.) The city has changed. The name has changed. It is no longer the same thing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Going Places

I find it interesting--here I am, a new resident of a land previously only thought of as Far Far Away. I remember the drive, I watched as the entire landmass of the United States rolled away beneath my tires, I took pictures in every state and spent the early evenings of each day's drive dazzled by the setting sun. I know I have to look at the other side of the map now, but somehow...I don't believe it. My sense of "here" hasn't caught up with me yet. You'd think I'd get used to this by now--I've lived in four drastically different places in the past two years.

In other news, my old roommate lives in Seoul, South Korea now. I'm in California. My parents are in South Carolina. My boyfriend is in London. I live simultaneously in 4 different time zones, which encompass two days. The sun sets in the west, so you'd think the further west from California you got the sunset would get earlier, but it gets so much earlier that somehow it gets to being tomorrow. It hurts my brain to think of. All I can do to keep from getting a headache is to remind myself that time is not just relative--it is non-existant. An abstract, subjective concept that mankind has invented to try and make sense of a completely incomprehensible universe, like peace, justice, beauty, utility, right, and wrong. I'm all for eliminating abstraction completely. It would make life much less stressful--not only would ageing be moot, but you could never be too ugly or too lazy!

...and it occurs to me that my opinions, voiced here, would be rendered somehow more moot than they already are by the elimination of abstraction. Can there be varying degrees of moot-itude? maybe if something gets too moot it implodes and creates a little rift in the space-time continuum (which is also abstract and therefore moot) and disturbs no-one in particular.

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -Ford Prefect

Monday, September 04, 2006


well, to put it simply, i now live in California.

to go into a bit more detail...i drove 4,000 miles to get here.

to trace out my route, you need a big map of the entire USA. Then, using a pencil, two pins, and a piece of string 1.25x the width of the country, draw a boolean curve between East Hampton and San Francisco. Then turn your pencil over to its trusty eraser side and rub out any curve between mid Arkansas and eastern California, and grab a ruler. Draw a straight line from Conway, AK to Barstow, CA and step back. What you've got there is a fairly accurate model of my trip across country. WHAM.

The collective presidential purchases of Thomas Jefferson and James K Polk amounted to the acquisition of a helluva lot of land--more land than we really knew what to do with. Much of Jefferson's purchase (what was then known as Louisiana) was useful farmland in the heart of the continent. A good chunk of Polk's, however, was arid, empty desert, that would turn out to be completely unuseable except for a little sliver along the coast in modern-day California. These huge landmasses, at the time largely uninhabited, were marked out on a map in giant squares. These squares were divided into smaller squares, and then smaller, and frontier-bound families were offered these stakes free of charge provided they just got out there.

Not that many people bothered.

So roads were built along the original map divisions. If you look at a close-up of Oklahoma, what you see there are not "generalizations" or roads that have been somewhat smoothed out. What you see is exactly what you get. And no, they haven't left out some of the smaller towns. If I moved there and built a shack on a quarter-acre of land, sat on my front porch with a shotgun and declared it "Kristenton, Population 1" chances are it'd make it onto the full-page map of the state with a dot indicating "medium-sized town."

Little has changed in New Mexico since Polk decided to fulfil the US's Manifest Destiny except for the addition of a 4-lane interstate and a few thousand miles of power cables, which make a side-by-side beeline for southern California and disturb little of the vast emptiness which passes for scenery around here. This hypnosis-inducing stretch is known as I-40 and is the best route from the East to the West, provided you're comfortable with never making contact with inhabited human settlements, trees, water, or temperatures below 110F. Posted speed limits have been replaced with signs reading "Go Faster." Wide, smooth curves in the road, visible for hundreds of miles before you reach them, are heavily signposted with "CURVE AHEAD: STAY ALERT." In place of county lines or city limits, you will see big outlines of the state with a dot to indicate "you are here."

In the Mojave Desert I had the pleasure of encountering a large yellow sign emblazoned with "WELCOME TO NOWHERE! Center: 250 miles" and an arrow pointing ahead.

I may be making that up.

The car did fine, and my navigator, on loan from London, had the difficult task of tracing the way across Texas. "I think, at this next mile should continue straight ahead for 2,000 miles."

We would have done well to set the cruise control, lock The Club on the steering wheel, and climb in the back to make out.

We traversed (in order):
New York (2 days, if you omit the 3 months i lived there--I picked up my foreigner from JFK and visited my sister in Harlem)

New Jersey (8 minutes to look at the map)

Pennsylvania (10 minutes to get gas)

Maryland (no stops)

West Virginia (no stops, and kept an eye out for yokels)

Virginia (stayed the night just outside of DC)

Washington DC (1 afternoon, toured the monuments and got the hell out)

North Carolina (no stops--it smelled entirely too bad. I think it must have been official Wildlife Road Crossing Day, but motorists didn't get the memo)

South Carolina (3 days to visit the folks, have free food, tour my university, pick up a shirt i made for a class, and hang out with my neighbors)

Tennessee (a few stops for lunch, gas, and dinner. Might i recommend, to anyone crossing that years-long state, a little restaurant on the Pigeon River called The Beantree. Picturesque, good service, good food, and inexpensive. We really liked it.)

Arkansas (with a one-night stopover at Grandma's where the Brit got an unexpected cultural awareness credit involving firearms. My vegetarian uncle cooked us some fabulous steaks and my Panamanian aunt made this wonderful beet-and-potato salad that kept us full till Albuquerque. And it wouldn't be a trip to Grandma's if she didn't send us off with a cooler full of food for the road. Cheapest gas on the trip was found here--$2.58 about 60 miles west of Conway)

Oklahoma (did we stop? i set the cruise control to 85 and mentally checked out.)

Texas (two stops--one in Shamrock at a very overpriced Best Western, and at a neat rest station with a beautiful view of a cragged, ravaged landscape.)

New Mexico (one stop in Albuquerque's historic Old Town, where we had a lovely mid-afternoon lunch at a neat Mexican place called La Placita. It had a big ol tree growing through the roof. another stop for gas in Tucumcari, the epicentre of nowhere, which has a gift shop full of junk)

Arizona (slept two nights in this state. First Holbrook, where we passed out in the middle of the night after I bypassed trashy Gallup, NM earlier in the evening. It was only after we crossed the AZ border that I realized the next motel was nearly 100 miles away. Then, after a fabulous day at the Grand Canyon (the most awe-inspiring ditch you'll ever lay eyes on. seriously, the depth and breadth of this thing are entirely too much for the human mind to comprehend in one try.) and a fortuitous wrong turn into the Navajo Nation and the equally beautiful Painted Desert (an area where you just have to stop the car every 500 feet, get out, walk a few feet, and gaze) we found a motel in Kingman in the middle of the night. Kingman is one of those odd western oases that is only a few decades old--the town was born during the construction of the Hoover Dam and just stuck around. There's not a whole lot there but we did find a Mobil station.)

California (yay! we made it! now on through the Mojave Desert, a land that gives clout to conspiracy theorists' claims that the Mars landings were staged. Interestingly, when whe hit the CA border the speed limit dropped but the average auto speed doubled. You'd swear these drivers were on fire. It was around here that my TD called to check up on my progress and suggested that I turn north at my earliest convenience, drive straight to Vegas, and put all my money on Red. or Black. Barstow was a wide space in the road, and Bakersfield was so industrial and inhospitable that i started driving faster, too. Interstate 5 wasn't particularly interesting but the clerk at the Los Banos Econo Lodge was fun. The drive into Berkeley was creative, as I'd failed to consult anyone on just how to get to the theatre until then, but to say the least I found my job and friendly faces who were happy to welcome me.)

I've been working for a little over a week now and I'm really enjoying myself. My coworkers are great, the weather is beautiful, and I'm starting to learn my way around. My better half has returned to his native land, which was a bit of a thunderstorm on my parade, but i'm keeping busy and hopefully i'll have a functional bike in the next few days.

Whew. that's been my last two weeks, in a nutshell.

happy labor day.