Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whoot-na, Jimmy-boy!

As Captain Yips informs us, casting is underway for the new Star Trek movie, this one to be set during Kirk's days at the Academy. I don't know if we'll get to see a new Finnegan, but here's MST3K's take on the character. One of my favourite host segments, from "The Thing That Couldn't Die".

Monday, October 29, 2007

Coffee news

A few months ago, we were discussing coffee, and I got some good advice on home roasting and sources of green coffee. Well, not long ago, I was in Valu Village, and found a used coffee roaster for just $8. I thought at that price, it was worth a gamble to see if I could do my own coffee roasting. I already have a good grinder, so all I needed to do was get some green beans and give it a whirl. (this is the machine I have, by the way - one of the first models.)

I found a place nearby in Almonte named Equator Coffee that sells Fair Trade green coffee from some very unusual places, so I started experimenting. So far we've tried coffee from East Timor, Ethiopia, Bolivia and Mexico (I like the East Timor the best). I know they say caffeine is addictive, but I've never really been bothered by it - just headaches if I go several days without coffee. But this roast-your-own stuff...MAN! That is REALLY ADDICTIVE! Now that I've had fresh-roasted, fresh-ground coffee, I find myself thinking about coffee at odd times, thinking how good it tastes, how much I'd like some, how ordinary coffee just really doesn't have any taste in comparison, and maybe I should go home and roast a batch. It's a little spooky.

In addition, I've discovered how to make coffee with a vaccuum coffee system, and it's far better than anything else. Percolator is still fine, but on weekends, when I have time to stand by the stove and watch the process, I'll get out the vaccuum pot and make a big batch, and it really produces better flavour (and fewer grounds) than any other system. The only thing that stops me from becoming a full-time coffee junkie is that it's a bit cumbersome to set up the roaster, (and the smoke does set off the smoke alarm a lot, so that's a disincentive, too), then I have to let the beans sit and stabilize for several hours, then I have to grind it. So we have "real" coffee every few days, and the rest of the time, it's that usual tasteless garbage I USED to think was so nice! Dean scoffs at me, because he says at the office, he's used to drinking coffee that's even worse, so our ordinary coffee tastes quite good to him.

Catchup post

Sorry I haven't been posting - it's partly that I've been lazy, and when it comes to the serious subjects, I haven't been able to formulate any post that's less than 1000 words! I'm daunted by the prospect of my own verbosity - I really have to learn how to write snappy posts that get it all said in one paragraph, like Kathy Shaidle, instead of massive essays that nobody can get to the end of.

But I have a more respectable reason, too. A month or so ago, Nick said I should write a novel, and I joked that my typical MO when it comes to such huge projects is to get 4/5ths of the way through, then abandon it. The truth is, I did write such a project about 2 years ago, and just as I said, I'd almost finished it, then stopped. The thread revived the subject, and I felt ashamed of having put so much work into a piece without completing it, so two weeks ago I pulled it out and began a final revision. Now I'm determined to finish it, even if it just goes back into the file cabinet afterwards - I just want to be able to say it's done. So for the next couple of weeks, I will be doing that, and will announce when it's finished.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Last auction of the season

I always say that, but I think this time it IS - there aren't any more listings in October that interest me, and after that month very little happens, and we have to wait until April or May for the new season. This one was a fun one, though, with lots of junk to sift through. It was a tiny house in Kemptville - the lady who lived there had moved to a retirement home, and there were many decades of weird stuff accumulated, including a garage filled with dusty junk. I found an old chrome table with 3 matching chairs, very 1950s "atomic" pattern on both - the legs were rusted away, but they don't matter; I've removed the upholstered seats and backrests, and will just wait until I find some nondescript old chairs with good chrome frames, then switch the upholstered parts. The table was really nice, though; it was so covered in dirt I couldn't really tell, but when I got it home and washed it off I discovered that the top is in excellent condition - no chips or scratches. I'll keep the top and wait until I can find some good legs to put on it. Altogether it was $5.

I got an old clothes hamper with science fiction books in it for $5, and when I got it home I found half a dozen old world maps from the late 50s which I gave to Dean. One he was very excited about; it was a heavily propagandized map of political systems, with lots of Red Scare information about the USSR. He figured it was printed before the Sino-Soviet split, and BEFORE Cuba became Communist. An interesting little period piece.

Some more random books which I'll look at over the winter. One was an omnibus book of 3 of Graham Greene's novels, and right now I'm reading "The Ministry of Fear". Very enjoyable. I tried Greene once, a long time ago, and didn't like him for some reason. I think I was expecting his work to be comedy, because one of his novels was made into a movie with Alec Guinness. This time, with no preconceptions, I'm enjoying him a lot. He reminds me a bit of Chesterton, but not so anarchic; maybe a little Orwell mixed in, to settle him down.

The rest was mostly odds and ends - it's amazing how much fun you can have for just $20 at an auction. In a box of fabric, I found an old bright pink angora sweater. The elbows were worn out but it was very clean, so after admiring how soft it was, I put it in a discard pile. James found it, and liked it so much he put it on and wore it around the house yesterday morning. Autistic people are often hyper-sensitive to sound, touch, smell, etc., and both Thomas and James like very soft clothes, so the angora must have just been irresistible. My little Ed Wood.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kid Talk

Yesterday evening, I took over the computer when Thomas and James suddenly rushed upstairs together. After only about 5 minutes, Thomas came hustling downstairs again.

Thomas: Excuse me, Mommy.
Me: Yes? What is it?
Thomas: Look here.
Me: What's the matter?

Oh dear. I've never heard him say THAT before, and I had instant visions of overflowing toilets or flooding bathtubs. But it turned out to be less serious. He was heralding the arrival of James, who thought it would be hilariously funny to get fully dressed, including underwear AND a hat, then go into the shower and turn it on, and then come marching downstairs to show off his daring. I had to strip off his soaking wet clothes, as a puddle formed under our feet and he giggled maniacally the whole time. Then I took a towel and followed the long wet trail back upstairs, mopping all the way. Of course, by the time I'd finished, the kids had taken over the computer again.

This morning, Emma had a dentist appointment, so we drove downtown to the office building where the office is located. The elevator going up was a bit crowded, so I ended up pressing all the buttons for the different passengers. Emma immediately became concerned about which floor was for us. I reassured her we were going to the THIRD floor, not the SECOND, as she had thought. Then, as she's rather a guileless talker, she explained loudly that she'd gotten mixed up because her psychologist's office is on the second floor. A businessman in the elevator suddenly smiled with genuine amusement. I don't think he'd expected to hear something quite that entertaining on the elevator first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I start to understand Charles Williams

Over on StandFirm, Craig Goodrich posted an interesting excerpt from a 2006 essay that studies the roots of the problems now consuming the Episcopal Church. And when you consider that it was written before GC2006 and all the ugly lawsuits and brutalist tactics that followed directly on Mrs. Schori's rise to power, it "shows some greatness of mind", as Mr. Bennet said. This was the part that resonated the most with me:
Although Episcopal seminary enrollments are at an all-time high, those numbers increasingly have seen a shift upwards in median age, as more and more Episcopal seminarians come to the priesthood from other careers. This is usually lauded as a positive development ("See, we're developing a more mature, more intentional pool of candidates....") but it frequently disguises the fact that many of the second-career seminarians are rolling off first careers which were flops.

(This should be a warning that someone may be looking for a short-cut to status or prestige that eluded them in the secular world, rather than seeking how to become a servant of Christ). The result is that many second-careerists enter the priesthood for the wrong reasons, and at the wrong age, when they will not be able to acquire sufficient years of parish service to deepen their understanding of what pastoral administration is all about.

Let them become bishops, and they will fall back on the reflexes of their first careers, and a great deal of what we have seen in the way of inhibitions and canonical proceedings reflects exactly that - the response, either of irritated bureaucrats for whom my-way-or-the-highway is the operating principle, or (worse) of inexperienced bureaucrats who are afraid to be seen as weak in front of the long-service office-holders in diocesan headquarters.

These decent souls become bishops because the episcopal vetting process tends not toward selecting the best or brightest, but the corporate-minded. In a process similar to that which has seen colleges and universities turn increasingly to career fundraisers and administrators for presidents, rather than scholars or intellectuals, episcopal search committees tend to attract as members people whose lives are bounded by corporate life; they, in turn, tend to recognize their own kind as the most comfortable choice for a bishopric.

But a bishop does not preside over an organization; he serves a life, and along with that life come complications which do not usually afflict organizations. A CEO is not usually called upon to deal with middle-managers whose objections to the CEO's strategic plan are based on the word of God; but bishops whose chief recommendation for the office has been simple decency or a knack for facilitating committees will not be a bishop for long before situations of intractable theological conflict appear in the room, and at that point, all the virtues which made them attractive candidates to the search committee will turn out to be useless.

In that event, the CEO-type response will be, first, mystification, then embarrassment, and finally irritated backlash. I have known more than enough truculent clergy over the years who have begged for, and deserved, a good episcopal backlash or two; but in today's climate, the backlash tends to corporate and political, not theological.

So, while the decks of the Episcopal Church cant ever more steeply toward capsizing, its episcopate is puzzled why campaigns of salesmanship and openness do so little to stop the flooding. Instead, they find themselves beleagured by dissent and litigation, two ugly realities for which both seminary education and the episcopal selection process have left them unprepared.
It's not so much the older, second-career aspect of many of today's priests and bishops that bothers me, it's the "corporate" style of so many of them. I remember being bothered by this way back in the 80s, whenever I read of a priest or bishop being touted for his "management" gifts. It seemed to be the latest thing; bishops as CEO-type managers. And it worked so well in the business world, with the Reagan Revolution and all, why wouldn't it be a good idea to have someone astute and efficient in charge of a diocese? Only to my romantic mind, it seemed flat and disappointing. I wanted a bishop to be a hero - someone who could be a martyr or a saint if it happened to fall to his lot. Someone who'd lead the way for the rest of us to do high and noble things. A "manager" just wasn't my idea of the job at all - it was like making a highschool principal Commander-in-Chief of a regiment.

Over the years, these managerial types have not turned out to be the great success everyone thought they would be. I suspect there was just a failure of imagination at work somewhere among all the appointment committees. My idea of a bishop was unrealistic, but so was theirs. As this essay points out, "But a bishop does not preside over an organization; he serves a life, and along with that life come complications which do not usually afflict organizations." The people who wanted managers and CEOs couldn't have had an accurate idea of what the Church really is, or they couldn't have so misjudged the qualifications for those required to lead it.

The whole idea of "managing" seems to me quite alien to how Christians ought to deal with each other. I have finally begun to understand a passage from Charles Williams's "Descent Into Hell" which I always knew was important, but never could properly relate to the larger idea of the life of the soul as we pass through this world on our way to the next. I'll quote it all, because now that I've seen the Church fall into the same trap as the character of Adela in the book, I think I understand what Williams might have been thinking. I guess I had to see it written out in big, giant letters in real life - in fact, the same crisis and decision happens to every individual soul:
Adela found herself pushed away. There had been between them an amount of half-pretended mastery and compulsion, but she was conscious of a new sound in Hugh's voice. It struck so near her that she forgot about Pauline and the heat and Stanhope, for she knew that she would have to make up her mind about it, whether to reject or allow that authoritative assumption. Serious commands were a new thing in their experience. Her immediate instinct was to evade: the phrase which sprang to her mind was, "I shall have to manage him--I can manage him." If she were going to marry Hugh--and she supposed she was--she would either have to acquiesce or pretend to acquiesce. She saw quite clearly what she would do; she would assent, but she would see to it that chance never assented. She knew that she would not revolt; she would never admit that there was any power against which Adela Hunt could possibly be in a state of revolt. She had never admitted it of Mrs. Parry. It was always the other people who were in revolt against her. Athanasian in spirit, she knew she was right and the world wrong. Unathanasian in method, she intended to manage the world...Stanhope, Mrs. Parry, Hugh. She would neither revolt nor obey nor compromise; she would deceive. Her admission to the citizenship of Gomorrah depended on the moment at which, of those four only possible alternatives for the human soul, she refused to know which she had chosen. "Tell me it's for yourself, only yourself...." No, no, it's not for myself; it's for the good of others, her good, his good, everybody's good: is it my fault if they don't see it? manage them, manage them, manage her, manage him, and them. O, the Princess managing the Woodcutter's Son, and the Chorus, the chorus of leaves, this way, that way; minds twiddling them the right way; treachery better than truth, for treachery was the only truth, there was no truth to be treacherous to--and the last act beginning, and she in it, and the heat crackling in the ground, in her head, in the air.
Wasn't that what the Archbishop of Jerusalem asked the HOB to do in New Orleans? "Admit this is what you want. Tell me it's for yourself, only for yourself, because this is what you want." "No, no, it's not for ourselves, it's for you, it's for them, it's for others, it's for Justice, it's for the Future, it's for the Past - it's for everyone and everything except for us."

Monday, October 15, 2007

The noir guide to housekeeping

Another find at the thrift shop: "Family Meals and Hospitality". It's got recipes in it, but it's not really a cookbook; it's a home economics textbook from the 50s.

Once again, it was the photos that sucked me in, though these are all in black and white. I looked at the copyright page to find the year of publication; the book I have is a third edition, published in 1956. It didn't seem quite right, somehow - there's rather a dark, depressing look to these photos, not the sort of sunny, hopeful look I associate with the late 50s. The FIRST edition was published in 1951, and that seems better; not long after the war. Things were good and getting better, but rationing and bad news were only a few years in the past.

It didn't help that I got this book the very day after I finally watched one of Fritz Lang's American films, namely the 1945 Scarlet Street. I was already in a bit of a noirish mood, when I opened the book to a section on how to carve meat, and saw...

Now, I know he's not wearing a flowered apron like Edward G. Robinson, but the way he's wielding that giant knife, as well as the foreboding shadow on the blank wall behind him, make me think that this scene somehow involves a bare lightbulb, a nagging wife, and a bathtub.

If the next picture didn't date from 1951, I'd swear it was photoshopped.

I don't care what the caption says (courtesy of The Sealtest Consumer Service - ha!) - in the 50s, people drank BOOZE, and lots of it. Those people should be holding highballs. The furnishings are pretty spartan - the giant TV probably cost 6 months' salary, and now, like Pharoah's treasury, the room has only got one chair in it, so people have to stand or sit on the floor. Maybe these are just elderly teenagers - the milk and cookies and the pile of books would indicate that, and I think that might be a Shakespeare play on the TV; it looks like Elizabeth I, at any rate. Sure looks like a swinging party.

Here's the last one:

There's just something wrong with this picture. It's a merry outdoor barbecue feast, isn't it? Never mind the fact that the woman is baring her teeth at the man in a tense grimace, and he's bent over as if to spring, with his left hand reaching for a gun in his pocket. I finally figured out the problem - it's the background. As they're barbecuing, I thought they must be outside, but the wall behind them is papered, with a recurring plant pattern printed on brick! You can't put wallpaper outside, but then, you can't barbecue inside, so now I'm all confused. The woman's dress doesn't help - those clashing angles and shadows could have come out of a Fritz Lang film; I think she's trying to hide by blending chameleon-like into the busy wall.

That's one big serious steak they're grilling there, though.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How Green Was My Roast Beef

I picked up a few more strange old cookbooks this week. The first one is not a frivolous little advertising piece, either; it's the "Good Housekeeping Cookbook" from 1963. The photography from these books is usually what attracts me first; the 60s weren't as bad as the 70s, where everything got very dark, with lots of brown (the paper really went down in quality, too). It's just that the colours were often a bit lurid. Still, it was before the angst of the hippy era, and everything still seemed to be riding that wave of Eisenhower-era prosperity and confidence.

So it was a bit of a shock to come across this picture:

This is NOT an Eisenhower salad. Not a Republican salad at all, as far as I can see. There are definite premonitions of the 70s in this picture. Look at the ghastly avocado green background. Actually, there doesn't seem to be a difference between background and foreground here; the still life almost seems to be floating in a green void. And that's not all - there's a bunch of green grapes at the top, along with a green check cloth. I guess this was to compensate for the fact that what's being pictured is actually a salad, but it has hardly any green in it at all.

The dark brown basket gives me 70s-era shudders, but it's not just the colour; the whole thing seems to be hinting at some sort of picnic, but the way the salad is served makes the whole idea ridiculous. Look at it, spilling out of a glass trifle bowl - you could never get this thing outside. If it were from the 70s, there would not be nearly as much meat in the picture, so that's a tipoff that it's from the 60s. (If it were during WWII, they probably would have used cold tongue, so at least we were spared that horror.)

If you thought the picture was bad, then look at the recipe:
Frozen green beans; canned carrots; frozen lima beans - yeah, party hearty, man. But it's the 3 lbs of roast beef that kills me, oozing with 1/2 cup of Italian dressing and a few flakes of dried herbs. No lettuce at all - hard to see why they call it a "salad". It doesn't say how many it serves, but I think it's 6; on the next page, it gives instructions for serving 8: "Double all ingredients but sirloin tip roast; for it use 4 lb. roast."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Diocese of Ottawa synod

The Ottawa Diocese of ACC is having its annual synod in Cornwall today. The Citizen has a front page story on the SSB question they'll be debating. The bishop is warning that HE will be the one to make the final decision, but 'he welcomes the motion because it will give him a reading of where congregants stand on the issue. "What they're doing here is getting a sense of the heart and mind of the diocese."' Of course, what he's getting is a sense of what the Synod delegates think of the motion, whoever they are.

I've no doubt that this synod will pass some weaselly form of words with a lot of "wiggle room" as the writer describes it. Anglicans are past masters at this sort of dishonesty. What struck me about the article were the quotes from the bishop on how he expects his church to find its way through these problems.
However, Bishop Chapman said in his opening speech, or charge, to the diocese, that he is adamant that this issue should not be allowed to absorb endless amounts of time and energy.

He also made it clear that he will brook no divisive activity over the matter: "Leadership that does not take its lead from the bishops and councils of the church, national and local, cannot be tolerated. Our missional strength can only be fully realized when we stay together ..." "I expect, regardless of this motion, that the clergy and people will continue their work and ministry embracing our differences rather than fretting over them ... I expect that we will behave in a manner that is classically Anglican -- a manner that not only embraces but lives the wonder of the via media (middle way). It is our gift to Christianity. We must not overlook the fact that it is also our gift to ourselves."
In other words, WE OWN YOU, just like we own the Anglican Church, and if we decide to introduce public birching during the Peace, you'll take it and LIKE it. Notice the iron fist being waved in the face of dissenters - you WILL NOT object, you WILL NOT try to get away, you WILL NOT engage in any kind of strike action whatsoever. And this hunk of dry hardtack is topped off with a nice big slab of stale lard, in the form of a hymn to that now-exploded "classically Anglican" wonder, the via media.

Well, I don't know - what's the median age of your average Anglican? Sixty-eight? How many of them even know what "right click" means? They probably don't have computers and haven't heard about what's happened in ECUSA, so this sort of outdated humbug may very well work for a while. Canada has always been a few years behind the U.S. But it's just strange to read these words, knowing how empty they are, and having already seen the path the Americans have gone down, which ACC is following. From a man who's just a few months into the job of bishop, I find it a little chilling to read such backward ideas, and think that THIS is who the Diocese of Ottawa is going to be stuck with when the hurricane hits.

UPDATE: Resolution approving of gay marriage passes, by a vote of 177 to 97.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nowhere to go but up

It's getting difficult for me to write anything about the Episcopal Church these days. Even satire has to be grounded in reality, and TEC is getting so far out these days, I'm left with little room to manoeuvre if I want to keep from going over the top.

But it's easier to write satire than to comment on "real life" as it is lived in The Enchanted Realm of Mrs. Schori. Part of my problem is that I'm starting to lose any sense of a side to root for. It's easy to be against the execrable Schori, Beers, Bruno, Robinson, and all their vestured footmen. But where I used to sympathize with the conservatives still remaining in TEC, now I'm starting to feel, at best, exasperation, and at worst - well, I don't even like to say it...scorn. As Chris Johnson has said (and this is only the most recent such statement) "It can't do a Christian any good at all to remain connected, even theoretically, with such unbelievably base and unprincipled people."

No, it can't. And yet the idea of doing good to a Christian is fading away before a determination to prove one's hardiness by staying planted on the ship until the waters close over one's head. I'm referring, of course, to the ACI response to the debacle in New Orleans, but that's only the latest entry in the ever more baroque structure of justification for staying in TEC. This has now reached almost hysterical heights, as this essay has inspired Establishment conservatives to envision a career of glorious immolation on the altar of Unity and Witness.

I'm sorry, but I've gone as far as I can go in sympathy; conservatives who are staying now are staying in a fantasy church of their own imagination. This thread from StandFirm is a perfect illustration of how these people will muddle along forever. They collect "hopeful signs" and "steps in the right direction" the way I collect aluminum percolators. When I hear this, I immediately think of those documentaries about the destruction of Pompeii. Remember how the inhabitants were encased in the ash from Vesuvius, so that 1,800 years later, archaeologists were able to uncover them and see a sculpture of what it looked like when the city was destroyed? I think of those people fleeing for their lives when the hot ash caught them, and I think "Well, it was a step in the right direction."

I haven't got any real opinion on the Common Cause thing starting up in Pittsburgh. As a Roman Catholic, my gut feeling is that it's only a temporary respite, but I have no crystal ball. This may work, I don't know. The women's ordination faultline is being built into the foundations, so I suspect the whole thing will crack sooner or later (probably sooner). But people who go that route are at least getting out of TEC, and there's no hope until that happens. It's like leaving an abusive spouse for a battered women's shelter; even if you never go anywhere else, it's better than where you were, and the chances are that it may be the stepping stone to a really good life elsewhere.

Election day

We're having a provincial election in Ontario today. I've done some volunteer work for our local Conservative candidate, Richard Raymond, over the past few weeks, so today I went to be a scrutineer for the morning at a poll out by the General Hospital. It was actually quite a lot of fun. This isn't Chicago, after all, so I was hardly expecting to have to deal with any crookedness. The poll clerks and DRO were all very agreeable, and it was fun to hear everyone chatting with their neighbours as they met at the polls. A lot of very old people in this area, I must say - probably the most stalwart voters left in Ontario.

I sat and chatted and did Sudoku puzzles when things were slack. Mostly what I did was to check the voters' lists from time to time, to tick off on my list of identified Conservative voters those who'd already been to the polls. I turned that in at headquarters later in the day, and this evening anyone who hasn't voted will be called to be urged to go vote.

It really was very easy and agreeable - more people should do this sort of thing, because it really isn't all that hard. Maybe in some really disputed areas, things might get nasty, but I kept noticing how very Canadian it all seemed, with people being so polite and good-humoured. Maybe next time I'll sign up for a longer stint, and even stay until the polls close so I can get to watch the vote being counted.

UPDATE: The dog returned to the vomit - we have another Liberal govt. for another 4 years. Bah. Dean says the turnout was extraordinarily low, less than 50%. Oh well, I did what I could.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Seems about right - quiz

Your Brain's Pattern

Your mind is a firestorm - full of intensity and drama.

Your thoughts may seem scattered to you most of the time...

But they often seem strong and passionate to those around you.

You are a natural influencer. The thoughts you share are very powerful and persuading.

(Tip of the stethoscope to Dr. Alice)

Dr. Beardlove: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Skippy sits at her desk, cigar smoke wafting up through the light of the desk lamp.

Skippy (to phone):

This is Bishop Skippy speaking.

Windsor Bishop Manless:

Yes, ma’am.


You recognize my voice, Manless?


I do ma’am, why do you ask?


Why do you think I asked?


Well I don't know, ma’am. We spoke just a few moments ago on the phone, didn't we?


You don't think I'd ask if you recognized my voice unless it was pretty damned important do you, Manless?


No, I don't, ma’am. No.


Very well, now, listen to me carefully. 815 is being put on condition red. I want this flashed to all Standing Committees immediately. I shouldn't tell you this, Manless, but you're a good little patsy and you have a right to know. It looks like we're in a shooting war.


Oh, hell. Are the Africans involved ma’am?


That's all I've been told. My orders are for this church to be sealed tight, and that's what I mean to do: seal it tight. Now, I want you to transmit plan R, R for Rowan, to the HOB. Plan R for Rowan.


Yes ma’am. Plan R for Rowan, ma’am.


Now, last, and possibly most important, I want all privately owned computers to be
immediately impounded.


Yes ma’am.


They might be used to leak information to bloggers. I want every single one of them collected without exception. And after you've done that, report back to me.

Cut to: int. Diocese of Newark. Machines spring to life as a transmission arrives. Bishop John Shelby Dong is at his desk.

Goldie Kaeton:

Bishop Dong, I know you're gonna think this is crazy but I just got an updated lectionary from 815. It decodes as Left Wing Attack plan R. R for Runcie.


Goldie, how many times have I told you gals that I don't want no horsin' around in the pulpit?

Susan Russell:

Bishop Dong, is it possible that this is some kind of loyalty test. You know, give the go code and then recall to see who would actually go?


Ain't nobody ever got the go code yet. And old Skippy wouldn't be giving us plan R unless them Nigerians had already clobbered Pittsburgh and a lot of other towns with a sneak attack. Well ladies, I reckon this is it: nuclear litigation, toe to toe with the conservatives. Now look ladies, I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches. But I got a pretty fair idea that something doggoned important's going on back there. But I want you to remember one thing, the folks at Integrity is a countin' on ya, and by golly we ain't about to let 'em down. Tell you somethin' else. This thing turns out to be half as important as I figure it just might be, I'd say that you're all in line for some important parishes and juicy stipends when this thing's over with. That goes for every last one of you, regardless of your race, color, sexual orientation or your creed (especially your creed). Now, let's get this thing on the hump. We got some litigatin’ to do.

Cut to: 815. Night. Skippy's voice booms over the PA. Lawyers and accountants stand listening.


Your Conservative has no regard for sensitive personal feelings, not even his own. And for this reason, I want to impress upon you the need for extreme watchfulness. The enemy may come individually, or he may come in strength. He may even come in the vestment of our own troops. But however he comes we must stop him. We must not allow him to gain entrance to this church. Now, I am going to give you three simple rules. First, trust no one, whatever his collar or rank, unless he is known to you personally. Second, anyone or anything that approaches within 200 yards of 815 is to be sued. Third, if in doubt, sue first, and ask questions afterwards.


Bishop Skippy, as a Windsor Bishop, it is my clear duty, under the present circumstances, to issue the recall code, upon my own authority, and bring back the Left Wing. I must ask you for the key and the recall code.

Skippy lifts a folder off of her desk and tosses it aside, revealing an order of deposition.


Do I take it, ma’am, that you are threatening a brother in Christ with deposition?


Manless, I suppose it never occurred to you that while we're chatting here so enjoyably, a decision is being made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee in the war room at Lambeth Palace. And when they realize there is no possibility of recalling the Left Wing, there will be only one course of action open: total commitment. Manless, do you recall what Jesus once said about religion? He said religion was too important to be left to the Pharisees. When he said that, two thousand years ago, he might have been right. But today, religion is too important to be left to Christians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Conservative infiltration, Conservative indoctrination, Conservative subversion, and the vast international rightwing Conservative conspiracy to suppress and disrespect all of our precious bodily fluids.

Cut to: int. War room, Lambeth Palace.

Archbishop Rowan Muffley:

Right. Now, Bishop Rigidson, what's going on here?

Bishop Gene Rigidson:

Your Grace, about thirty-five minutes ago, Bishop Katherine Jefferts Skippy, the commanding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, issued an order to the Left Wing of the House of Bishops. Now, it appears that the order called for the Bishops to attack their targets inside conservative dioceses. The bishops are fully armed with subpoenas and authorizations for same-sex marriages.


Bishop Rigidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to change the doctrine of the Anglican Church.


That's right sir. You are the only person authorized to do so. And although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like Bishop Skippy exceeded her authority.


It certainly does. Far beyond the point I would have imagined possible.


Bishop Skippy called ACC headquarters shortly after she issued the go code. I have a partial transcript of that conversation if you'd like me to read it.


Read it.


She said, "Yes gentlemen, they are on their way and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our polity and our American way of life, I suggest you get the rest of the AC in after them, otherwise we will be totally destroyed by orthodox retaliatory ridicule. There's no other choice. God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear through the proliferation and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all." Then she hung up. We're still trying to figure out the meaning of that last phrase, sir.


There's nothing to figure out Bishop Rigidson. The woman is obviously psychotic.


Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until the next General Convention.

Cut to: Diocese of New Jersey


Survival Kit contents check. In them you will find: four emergency subpoenas, four days concentrated emergency rations, one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, penicillin, vitamin pills, Nix, pep pills, Lindane, sleeping pills, Ovide, tranquilizer pills, one miniature combination Book of Common Prayer and the Kama Sutra, one hundred dollars in gold, nine packs of chewing gum, one issue of prophylactics, three lipsticks, three pair of nylon stockings -- shoot, a fellah could have a pretty good weekend in San Francisco with all that stuff....

Cut to: War Room, Lambeth Palace

Muffley (to telephone):

Hello? Hello, Archbishop Akinola? Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the hymns down just a little? Oh, that's much better. Yes. Fine, I can hear you now... Clear and plain and coming through fine. I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then as you say we're both coming through fine. Good. Well it's good that you're fine and I'm fine. I agree with you. It's great to be fine. Now then Archbishop. You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Church… The Church, Archbishop… The Episcopal Church. Well now what happened is, one of our bishops, she had a sort of, well she went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little... funny. And uh, she went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what she did, she ordered her bishops... to marry homosexuals. Well let me finish, Archbishop. Let me finish, Archbishop. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it? Why do you keep laughing?


Your Grace, if I may speak freely, the African talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know how. I mean, you just can't expect a bunch of ignorant savages to understand polity like some of our bishops.


Dr. Beardlove.

Dr. David Booth Beardlove wheels into the spotlight.


Archbishop, I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of Episcopalian specimens. It would be quite easy... heh heh... at the bottom of ah ... some of our deeper mineshafts. The Holy Spirit would never penetrate a mine some thousands of feet deep. And in a matter of weeks, sufficient improvements in dwelling space could easily be provided.


How would that be possible?


It would not be difficult mein Fuhrer! Nuclear reactors could, heh... I'm sorry. Archbishop. Endowments could provide money almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain sweetgrass for smudging ceremonies. Parishes could be seized and liquidated. Of course it would be absolutely vital that our top lawyers and bureaucrats be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and discipline. There would be much time, and little to do. But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten males to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way to complete extinction in oh, about 20 years.


Doctor, you mentioned the ration of ten men to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship?


Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of full inclusivity.

Cut to: Bomber approaching Lambeth


Target in sight. Where in hell is Bishop Dong?

Dong busily works to splice two wires together. He finishes and then attaches an alligator clip to a patch panel above his head. The bomb doors open. He grabs his mitre to keep it from blowing away in the sudden slipstream. The TEC-bomb is dropped, and Dong along with it.


Aaaaaa hoooo! Waaaaa hooooo!

Dong rides the TEC-bomb in its falling arc waving his mitre over his head, celebrating his success in ecstatic rodeo style. On reaching the ground, the bomb implodes without leaving a trace.

(Credit to The Kubrick Site for their continuity script)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Which weighs more - a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?

Of course the answer is they both weigh the same - a pound is a pound. But this weekend we had another James adventure, and discovered that when it comes to feathers, weight is not the problem - it's the volume that causes all the trouble.

One of the things I like to pick up at auctions is old-fashioned feather pillows. James was in our room on Saturday, and managed to put a little hole in one of the pillows. When a feather poked out, he decided to investigate a little further, and the little hole became a big hole, and before you know it, ALL the feathers were out. Thank God no one turned a fan on at that moment, but when we reached the room, there was a solid layer of feathers on the bed, on the floor, on the chairs - EVERYWHERE. I expect I'll be pulling feathers out of the dvd player for the next few weeks. We swept them up, and to our astonishment found that ONE pillow contained enough feathers to fill up 2.5 giant garbage bags! Once you let air get between them, they're like popcorn - they seem to expand to 4 times their normal size. It makes me wonder what a feather-stuffing factory must look like? Do they shoot the feathers into the pillows and comforter cases under pressure, and then quickly sew up the seams? Or do they pour them in and keep packing them down until the pillow reaches the correct weight? I think the first method would be less messy.

Anyway, despite our best efforts, feathers keep drifting down stairs from somewhere above and I keep picking them up. Sometimes I just throw them out the door or the window, rather than try to carry them downstairs to the garbage can without losing some along the way. The kids have to be checked for feather fragments in their hair before they leave the house for school, and when the last load of laundry came out of the dryer, I pulled out the filter and found it stuffed full with feathers. I sure didn't see them when they went into the wash, but they find their way into everything.

New avatar

I thought it was time to give Mosjoukine a rest, and replaced his photo on my profile with this one, which MUCH more resembles me! It was made by my very creative friend Nanette, and is known as the Angry Bee. She made a T-shirt with Angry Bees on it for me, and a mousepad, but she does all sorts of designs. Check out her store to see some of the things she's designed.