Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of Line


And with this post I officially declare Blog Roulette both a success, and complete. My goal was to help prime the blogging pump for myself and anyone else who wished to participate, and my thanks to Stinkypaw, flurrious, and The Naughty Monkey for indulging me for December. I know your readers appreciated it, since I am one of your readers. :-) I am going to do my best to continue to post more frequently this year, and to try to be less of a downer as well.

Yesterday we got a very pleasant surprise. My friend A and his family spent the day at Busch Gardens, and since that is very close to us they gave a ring and we met for dinner afterward. We gathered at a Friday's near the park, and much joyous conversation was conversed, and many a tasty nom was nommed. I am very grateful that my closest friends of my youth are still my dearest friends now, and A is the one human outside of blood relatives that I have known the longest. We met in P.E. class at Lake Worth Community High School in, if I'm not mistaken, 1979 or 80. Neither of us wanted to be in the class, and I think it was either before or after having to run on the track we were chatting and discovered that we were both from Connecticut and both liked Star Trek. And we've been friends ever since. He and his family live a couple of hours south of me, and we don't get together nearly often enough, but when we do it's as if no time has passed. And his kids are totally groovy, too. (Hi G and D!) :-) And, of course, his wife, B, is an absolute treasure.

So there, something very nice to round out the year. On a somewhat crappier note we were supposed to go down to South Florida today, but I have contracted a crud that is making it unwise to travel, not to mention my desire to not share these particular microbes with anyone else. But, if all goes well and I can shake this thing, I will be going to Duke's for New Year's Eve. Then it's up to Tallahassee on Sunday to retrieve the young'n, and back to work on Monday. As usual, I'm more than ready to go back to work.

So, barring something amazing happening, this will be my last post of the year, so let me wish you all an amazing end of year blow-out if that is your plan, or a quiet night, if that is your wish, and a fabulous, prosperous, healthy, and all around magnificent 2011 to you all.

Lots of love and big hugs to everyone!!

Marius

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Retroactive Humbug

Yesterday kinda sucked. I didn't want to bum anyone out by posting a downer screed against Christmas, nor is that what this will be, but it's getting harder and harder to get into the spirit each year. Aside from the obvious wet blanket that is the anniversary of my mother's death, I actually miss the days when Christmas day began with a few hours of quiet, then the feeding frenzy of present opening, then the mad dash to squeeze in all the visits and food that decorum, familial obligation, and fraternal desire dictated. Christmas eve was the night that we friends gathered. There was a small group of us that have been friends since high school, and it became a tradition that on Christmas Eve we would join together, usually at C's house, to have 'our' Christmas. As the years passed, and we drifted further down our own paths, the Christmas Eve gathering became less well attended, especially by me as the currents of my random destiny kept taking me far afield. This year only C and K and his family got together, though I did join them via Skype for a wee bit. There is a new Christmas Eve tradition for me, and that is the annual Simply Syndicated Christmas Eve live show, and that is great fun, and very heartwarming, and always leaves everyone smiling.

Christmas day, however, was like any other day. The Missus had to work, so she was gone when Starbuck rousted me out of bed at 5:15. The young'n is with her father this year, so Santa didn't pay a visit, and the number of presents under the tree was identical to when I'd gone to bed. The Internet was a ghost town, with the occasional tumble weed of greeting drifting by, but I tried to stay positive. My wife got off work early, and we opened presents. I cannot complain about the magnificent haul of total geekitude I received this year:



And we spent the rest of the day watching movies, but it was a struggle for me to not let full-blown depression set in. At one point it dawned on me that the only time I left the house yesterday was to take out the trash. Now this is no different from any other Saturday, but when 8:30pm rolled around and my wife went to bed, and I realized that not too many years ago 8:30 would be when the evening's celebrations with those of us that could slip away from the post Christmas dinner comafest at home would begin. I'm too goddam young for 7pm to be the end of the fucking day! But the fact is that we don't really have any friends that live within an hour's drive. (and lest any of my students that are also friends read this and take offense, I mean friends that I can hang with at a moment's notice) So this is not just a Christmas thing, but Christmas is a lens for magnifying the things that are good in one's life, and the things that are not so good. We need to get a life. I'm sick of the inside of this house, sick of not ever doing anything but sit in front of this screen as the irretrievable moments of a finite life slip away in a fog of boredom and apathy.

Anyway, enough bleating. The purpose of this, other than letting me vent a bit, is to ask anyone reading this that might find themselves complaining that there is just too much activity/visiting/eating during the holiday season to consider the alternative. Sure it's restful, but so is a funeral.



Marius

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nice


Y'all know I don't usually post stuff like this, but Stinkypaw has excellent taste in 'make you smile and get a bit misty eyed' stories.

This is my kind of Christmas Story!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her. On the way, my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything.
She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted... "Ridiculous! Don't you believe it! That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my 2nd world famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbours, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out at recess during the cold weather. His mother always wrote a note telling the teacher that he had a bad cough but all us kids knew Bobby Decker didn't have a cough, he didn't have a good coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumours about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care... and may you always believe in the magic of SANTA CLAUS!

Give back - what you can, where you can, whenever you can.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

But Is It Fun?


Many years ago a movie called Deep Blue Sea came out. It was a cheesy Sci Fi/horror flick about genetically altered sharks that eat a research station. It starred Samuel L. Jackson and for some reason I actually went to the theater to see it. It was not in any way, shape, or form a good movie, but I had fun with it and never regretted seeing it. The trouble came when my friends asked me what I thought of it. As I recall I merely said I liked it. This translated into 'this is a good movie you should go see'. Which they did. They still give me shit for telling them it was a good movie, which I never said, but it did teach me to put tons of disclaimers in front of saying I enjoyed a movie.

In my younger years I was a terrible movie critic, especially with franchise films like Star Trek or Star Wars, but I've found I've mellowed a lot over the years. Two very prominent examples of this are AVATAR and TRON:Legacy. My wife and I saw TRON at the IMAX (there are far too many all caps things in this post) on Friday morning, and I was blown away. The 3D is nice, the film is gorgeous, and the soundtrack is stunning, but the story does not do anything but provide a framework for the technical aspects. And that's fine...for me anyway. It was fun. More and more I've been judging movies by that metric. Was it fun? I've seen lots of fun movies lately. The Expendables, R.E.D., AVATAR, TRON, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Iron Man 2, Predators, even The Last Airbender (but to be fair I had never seen any of the shows on TV so the plot was tabula rasa to me) were all a fun time. Conversely if a movie isn't entertaining me it doesn't matter how amazing the performances are, I tune out. Some people have tried to get me to 'expand my horizons' and watch 'good' movies, but I've found that my boredom threshold has risen drastically, and I have little patience for films I don't like. If we're at home, and I can just jump on the computer while my wife finishes the movie, it's fine. But if we go to the movies, and I'm not enjoying the film, and I can't leave for one reason or another, I get angry. Knight and Day, with Tom Cruise, was TERRIBLE, but my wife was enjoying it, so I kept quiet, and was in a horrible mood for the rest of the day. So now I am growing less shy about saying no to movies I know I won't enjoy. I'm very lucky in that my wife tends to like the same movies I do, and is very accommodating about not forcing me to watch stuff I'm not into, so Knight and Day was a rare thing, and I don't hold it against her. Although I do still kind of grumble that she made me go see Transformers 2. ;-)

So what's my point, you may well ask? If I rave about a movie in any of my online outlets, or even in person, please understand that just because I liked a movie that does not mean that it is a quality film. On the other hand just because I didn't like a movie, it does not follow that the film is crap. I release into the universe that my opinions of movies, music, books, food, and anything short of orgasms(because really, who doesn't like orgasms) is strictly subjective. Your actual mileage may vary.

And now I'll go make some breakfast. If you don't like breakfast you are wrong and a terrible person.

:-)
Marius

Friday, December 17, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1


So yesterday, after several abortive prior attempts, I finally saw part one of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I enjoyed it, quite a lot, actually. It seemed, to me, to be an entertaining encapsulation of the book, as much as I remember anyway. Those who know me in the 'real world' know that my memory isn't always the best, and unless a television or film franchise has the word star in the title odds are my recall of details will be sketchy. Most of the time I find this frustrating, but with the Harry Potter movies it's a positive boon. I have read, and enjoyed all the books, but J.K. Rowling crams so much stuff into each book that I only remember the general outline, so I don't always notice the changes, embellishments, and/or omissions of the films. That being said, however, I don't think you can really enjoy The Deathly Hallows without having read the book first. The movie, for all its sluggish second act, moves at breakneck speed, glossing over important details that will matter later. If I didn't already know the gist of what was going on I'd have been lost.

As far as the performances go I must disagree with many people who have said that Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are all washed up. I think they did an excellent job in this movie, especially Watson. Granted these kids have been playing their respective roles for nearly half their lives, and we'll have to see if any of them go on to try their hands at other roles(yes, Radcliff has been doing stage work already) but I had no trouble believing anything they did or said in this movie. If anything it was the 'adults' who pulled me out of the film at times, especially Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix LaStrange. In the previous movies she was over the top, but not as cartoonish as she was in this show. But that's a minor quibble. The truly telling thing was that this two and a half hour long film didn't feel like it was that long to me. I was enthralled and entertained, and am very much looking forward to the second half. If you are a fan of the films you will like this one. If you have also read the books, so much the better.

And now, or in a few hours anyway, we are going to see TRON at the IMAX. I'll give a full report later.

Peace, y'all.
Marius

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Zardoz Doesn't



When I was 12 or so I was given a book of Science Fiction movie trivia quizzes. It was mostly Star Trek and Star Wars with a smattering of other things as well. I had at least heard of most of the other movies, but for some reason the film Zardoz stood out as one I'd never heard of. Maybe it was because it included the above picture of Sean Connery in a diaper, but that name stuck with me all these years hence. I'd heard it was a classic. I'd heard it was terrible. I'd heard it was a film Connery would like to forget. Well, I've finally seen it, and it is definitely two out of those three. It was released in 1974, and apparently had a budget of about $20, most of which seemingly went to the local pot dealer. The story, as far as I can tell, is about a far future where the world has been separated into the technological, and immortal elite, and the radiation ravaged rabble, and in between a race of exterminators who worship a giant floating stone head called Zardoz. Connery plays one of the exterminators who inexplicably ends up inside the stone head, and then is taken in to the elite society for study, and adventures ensue. And by adventures I mean two hours of head scratching, breasts, and inexplicable plot twists that either mean the film makers were stoned out of their minds, or were really hoping the audience would be...or both. In its favor the story is very reminiscent of some of the best post-apocalyptic books of the era, and I can see where legendary schlock junkie, John Boorman, was going with the film, but the execution of the story is so clunky and disjointed that rather than being an interesting and cautionary tale about the dangers of scientists playing god, it is more the cinematic equivalent of a Doors album. You don't have to be high to watch it, but it probably helps a lot. I blame Stanley Kubrik, actually. 2001: A Space Odyssey was brilliant, but even today it baffles people as to the 'true' meaning of some of the scenes, especially the ending. So it only follows that lesser film makers have adopted the philosophy that if the audience cannot figure out what's going on, they'll just assume it's high art and sing its praises. Not so with Zardoz. The Netflix write up calls it a 'cult classic', but I can't imagine sitting through it a second time, but then again I no longer partake of the substances that might make that an enjoyable giggle-fest. There is a lot of 70s style nudity, which means breasts, but even there the attempt to make the sexual subplot about a 'wild man' being introduced to a sexless and sterile society is, well, flaccid. About the only plus to the movie is that Connery spends the majority of his screen time wearing only his orange panties, so if you find a bit of Bond beefcake to your liking, this film is a feast. If not, might I recommend Silent Running or The Omega Man for your 70s SciFi needs.

Back to you, Stinkypaw.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Merry...um...yeah, whatever.


We haven't put up any decorations yet. We've bought some presents, and my wife has done some wrapping, but festivity has yet to visit Castle Marius. I've been trying to get in the mood, but this is the time of year that I feel my mother's absence most. She was always the fuhrer of festive in our house. Left to us, the men-folk, the ornaments would never leave their cardboard tombs. Trees would stay outside, and lights would be simple illumination devices. But every year, almost before the last turkey sandwich was eaten during the post-Thanksgiving week, she'd initiate passive-aggresive-Christmas-mode. She'd go out to the garage, and some time would go by, and then you'd hear a great huffing and puffing and scraping and then you'd see her struggling to bring the tree box into the house. My brother, father and I would all inwardly cringe as we knew what was about to happen. If we didn't immediately go all North Pole on the house she'd crank her guilt rays up to 11 and sigh and moan, but never actually tell anyone to do anything, ultimately getting us up on chairs, and chasing the cats away from the ornaments, and actually having a pretty good time decorating. The house would be all glittery and twinkly, and completely commercially acceptable by any and all advertising agencies, and the nativity we've had all my life would be on the little table between the kitchen and living room, just waiting for the annual "let's put a wind up monster in the back and see how long it takes for her to notice" game.

But here, now, I'm the motivator of the holiday cheer, but I'm not very motivated. My wife likes it when the house is decorated, but it never occurs to her to actually get them out and decorate. The young'n doesn't seem to care one way or the other, and so far I just can't generate enough 'wanna' to get it done. I know, as Shakespeare says, 'tis common. Everyone, in an ideal world, will lose their parents, but it was too soon, and the third anniversary of her death is near.(even as I look at the word third I can't believe it) Hopefully once the winter break begins and I begin to decompress from a very taxing semester I'll grow less grinchy. Something that has already helped in that area was a lovely, and unexpected package that arrived from the Great White North. Mdme. Stinkypaw, that shining beacon of wonderfulness in Quebec, sent me a jar of DELICIOUS homemade ketchup and some amazing cookies(that met a terrible demise last night)and a card(above) that proves that I have quite accurately depicted Starbuck herein. Merci beaucoup, my blend. :-) And speaking of Mdme. Stinkypaw, tag! You're it!! :-)

Ebeneezer Marius

Sunday, December 05, 2010

This Was Too Good Not To Steal

This was lovingly swiped from Camille Reads, a wonderful blog by a groovy lady in Pennsylvania. Check her out, you won't be sorry, unless of course you are a bigot, or racist, or any other type of narrow minded douche...but then again I don't think you'd be here if you were. :-)


The following was found on Craig's List (the post is now removed):

A mutual friend of ours threw a big party for her 30th birthday, tons of people were there and it was a lot of fun. Somewhere along the line you and I ended up on the balcony for some fresh air at the same time. We started chatting; we talked about sports, books, tv – discovered we both are about to start our masters degrees and spent some time debating the pro’s and con’s of the educational system. We talked about hanging out sometime, and you wanted to meet my girlfriend.

I understand how upsetting it was for you when I blinked mildly in surprise and said I was here with my husband. I know it was a shock to your system, if your face had turned any paler I might have called 911. You made a good recovery though - that hurried mutter of “I’m not like that” was very polite and you only knocked over two drinks and one vase in your hurry to rush to anywhere other than near me. I can’t blame you – I forgot how delicate you straight boys are. So I wanted to give you a few helpful hints about where you went wrong last night.

1) As a general rule we don’t walk around with big signs around our neck proclaiming our sexuality. No scarlet letters, no scent of hellfire and brimstone… sorry about that.

2) We do not generally assume that everyone within 5 feet of us must also be homosexual – it was nice of you to immediately reassure me that you are hetero, but it was really unnecessary.

3) Homosexuality is not infectious. While I am sure you meant no disrespect with your hasty departure; in the future you can rest assured that taking a few extra seconds in your mad dash for safety will not result in you being turned gay. It will however keep you from destroying expensive vases and knocking over senior citizens.

4) This next one may come as a surprise; but you are not, in fact, irresistible. The fact that you have a dick does not instantly turn me into a bundle of uncontrolled lust. Contrary to popular opinion, being in the same room with a straight man does not cause a gay man to instantly lose all common sense and basic common courtesy. Though I am not so sure about the reverse.

5) Homosexuals in general get a little irked when people treat us like some sort of leper. Rushing to another mutual friend of ours and advising him of my sexuality, so he could be “forewarned” was really uncalled for.

6) Upon being told (by said mutual friend) to stop being an idiot and that you were not my type anyway… it generally confuses the issue when you then proceed to become upset that I DON’T find you attractive. Three seconds ago you were running through a crowd of people with your hands cupped protectively over your junk as if I might attack you at any moment with a blowjob. See hint number 4.

7) We homosexuals have an odd sense of humor – I can’t help that. Something about watching you freak out as if all the demons of hell were after you just struck me as vastly amusing.

8) While being pissed at me for dissolving into uncontrollable laughter might be understandable… gathering a couple guys together to “teach the fag a lesson” is not.

9) You might also want to drink a little less and be a little more careful about the guys you approach for your little proto-hate-mob.

10) Assuming the two tall muscle-bound bruisers must be uber-hetero and just as appalled by my presence as you was your first mistake. It was an understandable one though. How were you to know that pflag tshirt the first guy was wearing wasn’t a sports team? Also the rainbow ring the second guy was wearing could have meant anything I am sure.

11) In retrospect I suppose that upon hearing your not very subtle hate-talk and seeing who you were heading for; I could have said something instead of just laughing harder. I apologize for that. I should have just introduced you to my husband instead of letting you walk up to him and ask him if he wanted to help you teach “that fag over there” a lesson. I hope that broken nose heals up cleanly.

http://lansing.craigslist.org/rnr/1797870768.html

That's Why I'm Here


I live in Florida. That's no secret. Most of the year I wonder why the Hell I keep coming back to this totally effed up state. The population is a strange spectrum ranging from the obscenely wealthy to the most pathetically impoverished, many of whom are certifiably insane. We are in The South(tm), but don't really have a culture of our own. There is no Florida accent, or mode of dress(despite what shows like Miami Vice liked to try to pretend), or traditions (unless you count hurricane preparation a tradition), yet every time I've left this wacky peninsula I've been drawn back, and I cannot give a good reason why. It's not the food, cause there isn't a particular cuisine. It's not the cost of living, as it's not that cheap down here. It's a long drive to just about anywhere, and traveling cross-state is like stepping into a time machine with no guidance system. Modern metropolises(metropoli?) bordered by small towns that make rural Alabama seem cosmopolitan all squeezed into the ever shrinking areas not awash with swamp, mud, and prehistoric monsters. So why do I stay here? I don't know, but reading the tweets and blogs from the rest of the world helps right now. It seems that Winter has arrived with a vengeance, dumping heaps of snow and misery on the less temperate regions of this planet, and though come the lead-melting days of August I'll look back on this post and shake my head in ironic wonder, it's actually rather pleasant here now. Temperatures are low enough to warrant turning the heater on, and wearing some heavier clothing, but at its worst a Florida winter is uncomfortable. Sure we had some long freezes last year that took a toll on the citrus crop, but to the average Floridian it was more annoying than dangerous. You never hear of homeless people freezing to death here, or see the numerous youtube videos of cars careening out of control on the icy roads of Miami. Granted we don't get to build snowmen, or have snowball fights, or wake up to see the still pristine white blanket turning what was once a familiar landscape into a sparkling alien vista, but I also have never bought a set of snow tires, or had to winterize my vehicle. So yeah, it's so crazy in this state that Fark.com has its own 'Florida' tag for the insane stories that emanate from here, I guess it's the climate that keeps me here.

Oh, and yeah, some of the people I love the most live here, too. ;-)

Over to you, Stinkypaw.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Spinnnnnnnnnnnnn....click!


And Blog Roulette begins. In amongst all the annoyances and pains we've been dealing with here at Castle Marius of late there is a ray of grooviness. A couple of months ago I decided I am sick of being a fat ass. So I just stopped eating garbage. Every day for lunch I eat carrots and celery and cheese. Every night I eat only one helping of dinner and try to make as many low-fat foods as possible. And no snacking after dinner. And for breakfast I have a burrito of cholesterol-free eggs with fat free sour cream, salsa, and Swiss cheese. Just doing that I've lost 15 pounds! And I gave blood a couple of weeks ago and my cholesterol is down. I feel better, and I have had to retire a couple of pair of pants since they fit like tents now. So that's a triumph, methinks. AND I made it through Thanksgiving weekend without a major backslide. Yay me! ;-)

Of course there was the sad news that Leslie Neilsen passed away, but I noticed that most of the people on twitter and Facebook that mentioned it did so by saying, "Leslie Neilsen died? Surely you can't be serious!" What a wonderful tribute that even in death he brought laughter. His career spanned every genre of TV and film, running from the deathly serious to the painfully silly. His filmography on IMDB.com is 11 pages long!! A brilliant, multifaceted career, and by all accounts a truly nice man. His was truly a life well lived.

And now I pass the keyboard to Stinkypaw. Make sure you all tune in to her blog tomorrow.

Peace,
Marius

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blog Roulette


Now where did I put that gauntlet? (rummages through antique foot locker, pulling out various intriguing yet vague ideas and items, sets each aside until...) AH! There it is. It's a bit moldy, but the leather is unbroken, and with a little mink oil and some elbow grease...be right back.

{time passes}

Right! OK, here we go. I propose a game for the month of December. I call it Blog Roulette. As the wonderful, and herculean Naughty Monkey has proven this NaNoPoHoGoFloCrowShow posting every day has become something of a daunting task, so starting December 1st I shall post something, then on the 2nd Stinkypaw shall post, then flurrious, then Monkey, then it shall rotate back to me, etc. Of course, if anyone else wishes to join, or if any of you lovely and talented blogstresses would rather not, it's all good. But this will give us all a daily post of newness to read, without the pressure of posting daily. Of course extra posts will be most welcome, as well. My blends...the gauntlet is thrown. What say ye?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And Now a Brief Intermission

This reminds me of my senior year in college.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Thievery

Can you fill this out without lying?
I stole...I mean borrowed this from Stinkypaw. Feel free to gank it yourself:

Last thing you drank?
That wondrous elixir of life, coffee.

Last store you went to?
Target...I needed new underwear due to losing more than 10 pounds lately.

Where was your default picture taken?
Two houses ago.

Last person you rode in a car with under the age of 20?
Um, that'd be the COA* I guess.

Can you play guitar hero?
Dunno, but I wail on the Rock Band drums.

Name someone that made you laugh today?
The only creatures I've interacted with so far are the Kitties-O-The-Apocalypse, and they haven't told any jokes yet.

When was the last time you saw your best friend?
It has been waaaaay too long.

How late did you stay up last night?
11:30 or so.

You could move somewhere else, would you?
In a heartbeat!(England, Australia, The Carolinas)


Which of your friends lives closest to you?
Not sure, actually. Most of my close friends live within 1-4 hours of me.

Do you believe ex's can be friends?
Most of mine are.

Do you like calling or texting better?
Texting. It's quicker.

How do you feel about Dr Pepper?
It exists, people drink it, but I have no emotional reaction to it whatsoever.

When was the last time you cried really hard?
When my mom died.

Where is your biological father right now?
Supposedly in a cemetery in Massachusetts, but I've never been there so I don't know for certain.

Where are you at right now?
At home

What bed did you sleep in last night?
My own

What was the last thing someone bought for you?
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm, my wife got some groceries I needed yesterday.

Who took your profile picture?
C'est moi!

Who was the last person you took a picture of?
Some of the cast of Call of the Wild

Was yesterday better than today?
As I've only experienced about an hour of today I cannot tell.

Can you live a day without TV?
I have many times.

Are you mad about anything?
Not currently.

When was the last time you were extremely disappointed?
Must we dwell on the negative?

Are you a bad influence?
I used to be, now I seem to have stumbled into role model territory, and I'm not so sure that's a good thing.

Night out or night in?
A night out would be welcomed.

Are you more of an individual or an outgoing person?
These are not mutually exclusive, therefore the question is invalid. Please hang up and try your call again.

What items could you not go without during the day?
Lungs.

When was the last time you were in the hospital?
I picked up my wife two days ago from one.

Have you ever thrown shoes on a telephone wire?
Nope


What does the last text message in your inbox say?
Buy more minutes!

How do you feel about your life right now?
Meh

How many times have you been pulled over by the police?
3 or 4, I guess.

Do you hate anyone?
Probably not.

If we were to look in your inbox, what would we find?
Emails, what would you expect to find?

Last person you talked to on the phone?
The Missus.

Can you easily tell if someone’s fake?
You mean like mannequins or wax statues? Sure.

How's your heart?
Beating properly.

Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Yeah, I'm a boring old man now.

Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Not to my face.

What song is stuck in your head?
Deceiver by Disturbed

Someone knocks on your window at 2 am, who do you want it to be?
Either Superman or Spiderman, since the bedroom is on the second floor.

Wanna have kids before you’re 30?
Too late for that!

Name something you have to do tomorrow?
Same thing I do every day...try to take over the world!

Can you whistle?
Yes

Do you sleep on your side, stomach, or back?
side

What gets in your way of your sleeping?
Starbuck

Are your eyes the same color as your mom's or dad's?
My mom's, I think.

Has anyone ever told you that you have pretty eyes?
Yup

Do you think too much or too little?
It depends on the situation, but usually too much.

Do you smile a lot?
Yes

Who was your last missed call on your cell phone?
You sure are obsessed with my cell phone. Do you work for Verizon or something?

Are you happy with your life?
Meh


Can you handle the truth?
Even if I can't, I need it.

Do you get 8 hours of sleep everyday?
AHAHAHAHAHA! That's hilarious!

What was the last book you read?
Dracula the Undead, by Dacre Stoker

Do you hate the last guy you had a conversation with?
Not in the least.

Is there something you usually wear?
You mean besides the Mickey Mouse three-fingered gloves?

What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Making coffee.

Honestly, who was the last person to tell you that they love you?
My wife

Did you have an exciting last weekend?
I wouldn't call it exciting, but it was eventful.

Have you ever crawled through a window?
Indeed.

Do you like yourself?
Most days

Are you wearing a bracelet?
Don't own one.

Are you an emotional person?
I can be

What's something that can always make you feel better?
Star Trek

Will this weekend be a good one?
Ask me on Monday

Have you ever worn the opposite gender's clothing?
I'm just seven hours old, truly beautiful to behold, and somebody should be told, my libido hasn't been controlled...

Look behind you, what do you see?
Stairs

Have you ever worked in a food place?
I did my time in Purgatory during my 2.5 year stint at Taco Viva in the 80s.

What would you name your future daughter?
Luthien Tinuvial...that's why my wife will handle that occurrence should it arise.

Any summer plans for 2011?
Nothing confirmed yet.

Did you lie on any of your answers?
No


*Child-O-The-Apocalypse

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Peer Pressure


Well, it seems most of my blogging compadres have posted something in the last 24 hours, so I feel honor bound (read:guilt tripped) to do likewise. I know it's NaNukPukeMookaLook month again, but I've been so busy that I barely have time to indulge in peristalsis and a few other autonomic functions, let alone blog every day. So let me explain...no, there is too much. Let me sum up. The show we are running, an adaptation of Call of the Wild, has been beset by the demons of fuckuppery almost from the get go. Things went relatively smoothly until just before we started technical rehearsals, which is when we bring all the elements of the show together the week before opening. Long days and nights are the norm for tech week, but this one was especially awful due to technical problems, electrical anomalies, and the theft of a $500 rented strobe light by some cocksuckers unknown who I sincerely wish to read of their untimely yet embarrassing demise due to autoerotic asphyxiation someday. Now normally I'd say that at least we got the show up and running on time, which we did, and with a minimum of blood, which we didn't. It's true that my crew and I shed very little of the red stuff on this one, although I did inflict numerous annoying yet minor injuries upon myself, but the cast has been brutalized. This is a very physical show, and most of the cast play dogs in the Yukon, so there is a lot of running, and barking, and fighting, etc. And those that don't play dogs are frequently on stilts to simulate the view a sled dog has of the drivers. Every night someone has gotten hit, or twisted, or abraded, or fallen, or sickened to the point that I am keeping ice and bandages on hand just in case. But I have to say that, despite some unusual backstage dramas, the cast have been absolute troopers about the punishment this play is dealing them, and my proverbial hat is off to them.

As for why my work load is so pressing, our Design/Costume teacher, who is very pregnant, was quite unexpectedly put on complete bed rest by her doctor two weeks ago. We had anticipated that there would be some times when she'd be out, and I had agreed to take over her classes when she couldn't be there, but none of us expected her to be totally gone until further in the semester. So now I'm teaching every day of the week, and trying to keep up with her class materials as well as my own. I'm sure it will all be ok, but I'm a bit overwhelmed by it all right now. Fortunately, now that the show is up and running, I can focus on the academics, and hopefully catch up with her schedule as well as my own, and manage to squeeze in a podcast or two as well. These are, indeed, interesting times.

How is your Autumn going?

Marius

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet Addiction


The ritual usually begins somewhere between 10 and 11pm. I want to go to sleep, but then I realize I haven't prepared tomorrow's fix. Raising myself from either my chair, or the couch, I shamble like a refugee from a Romero flick to the kitchen and begin the process. Remove the leavings from that morning, rinse both carafes, one large, one small. Paper filter for one, permanent filter for the other. One and a half spoons full in the small pot, two in the large. Push the delay button, then off to bed. I'm not usually around for the first event, as my wife gets up at 2am, hence the two pots, but when the Kitties-O-The-Apocalypse untimely rip me from my sleep, and I stumble downstairs to the refrain of mews and purrs, there awaits that modern marvel of automated technology, the steaming pot of freshly brewed coffee. I can already feel that slight thrill through my sleep-addled synapses as I grasp the handle of my china mug, emblazoned with the so familiar delta and circle pattern and registry of a certain mythical starship, and empty into it the powdered contents of one pink paper packet.(yes, folks, I use saccharine. deal with it) Then that magical moment when I feel the weight of the full carafe in my hand and pour the life giving brew. A dash of milk, and thence to the computer.

Recently we had to retire our first large pot. It was a sad day as it seemed to have learned my preferences and did not make coffee that was too hot to drink right away. Of course, that was a symptom of its impending demise, but it was still nice. We now have a shiny new Mr. Coffee that makes very hot coffee, so I must wait a bit. I surf, read email, then, finally, that blissful moment arrives when the light brown nectar before me reaches the maximum palatable temperature, and those first tentative sips are allowed. It's almost like foreplay to my system, just a tiny sip, not too much lest pain follow hard on the heels of pleasure, then back to the illuminated rectangle. Gradually the sips grow larger as the temperature drops, until that wondrous, glorious, life-affirming moment when the coffee reaches that perfect condition where a mouth full is sheer joy, and the swallowed brew feels like it is flowing to every cell in every part of my body at once, bringing with it a crescendo of power and life that readies me for all the challenges of the coming day. Then, almost sadly, the sight of the bottom of my mug, gleaming like the bones of a battlefield corpse, meets my gaze and I realize the cup is drained. The house is silent for a moment, save for the soft susurration of the computer's fans. It's as if the world is holding its breath in anticipation or remembrance, and a moment of sadness comes upon the morning at the passing of this wonder of the beverage world. The cat mews, a bird calls in the distance, then all is quiet. And then, slowly at first, the corners of my mouth begin to climb upward as realization hits like a thunderclap...there's more coffee in the pot!


And there was much rejoicing.


Good morning, y'all.

Marius

Friday, October 22, 2010

And so...


Gather round, folks, and let me regale you with tales of such staggering mundanity that you may find yourself turned to stone ere you finish this entry. Or if not stone, at least a particle board substrate covered with a rather convincing veneer with a very stone-like pattern. In any case, here's what's been going down of late here at Castle Marius. The CoA has finally started middle school, and things are not going well. Her teachers no longer think that ADD is the totality of her peccadilloes, and her psychiatrist feels we need to get her to a psychologist. We had a psychologist, but she has stopped returning our phone calls, so the search begins anew. I'll not go into details about the young'n's behaviors, but her psychiatrist mentioned autism as a possibility for the first time. Granted autism, like cancer, is a blanket term for a myriad of conditions, but it can have some pretty significant consequences which have been nibbling away at my brain little by little. But, on the bright side, if we can finally get an accurate diagnosis, and find the right combination of medical and behavioral treatments, perhaps we can actually get her on the road to becoming a functioning member of society. This is the bulk of the reason y'all haven't heard much from me as this has pretty much dominated my thoughts.

On the tech front I got a new phone yesterday. It has lots of stuff that it does that I've never used in a phone before, like a camera and some internet connectivity. The main reason I wanted it, however, is that it has a full QWERTY keyboard. While I may not text as much as your average teenager, many of my students do text me, and it will greatly streamline my communication with them if I can actually type. And it is an mp3 player and voice recorder, both of which I will use. So, like with computers and the Internet so long ago, I am dragged most unwillingly into the 21st century. If you want/need my number send me an email.

Finally I've been trying to get rid of some of me. Over the last couple of years I sort of stopped caring about what a blob of blubber I was becoming. I'd made a few half-assed attempts at cutting back on the intake of crap, usually failing around 10:30 at night when there was cake, or cookies wafting their siren song across the darkened house. Then, about three weeks ago, something inside me snapped. Maybe it was the sight of myself in the mirror after my shower that morning, or just the general feeling of yuck, but like when I quit smoking years ago I just decided to stop eating so much. Breakfast is still more or less then same, but lunch has become exclusively baby carrots, some sliced cheese, and celery or some other raw, green veggies. And then for dinner I eat normally, but only one portion, and I am letting my stomach, not my mouth, decide when I'm done. And nothing after 8pm unless I become legitimately hungry, then it's more carrots. And it's been working. I dropped nearly ten pounds right away. It would appear that I had been working very hard to maintain my Jabba-like girth, and I have noticed a definite improvement in how I feel. And last night really showed me that my dietary change is working. Everything was running late, and the missus didn't thaw anything for dinner, so I asked her to stop at Taco Bell since the CoA will eat that without a fight, and I've been good so a bit of indulgence should be ok. Well, my usual from Taco Bell is, for that place, fairly healthy. 7 layer burrito and a nachos supreme with no meat. Neither of those have any meat in them, so I figured it was only cheating a little bit. UGH!!! It is now twelve hours later and I sill feel like I swallowed a rock. Alas, there may not be any meat fat in the burrito, or the nachos, but the sour cream, and fake yellow cheese-like polymer nacho coating sure have their own adipose contingent, and man did I regret eating them. At least there is a lesson learned here. Cheating only hurts me.

So that's that for now. What's new with you?

Mundanely yours, Marius.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Realization


I have a student that, for the sake of this tale, I'll call Jonathan. Jonathan looks like a boy, dresses like a boy, acts like a boy, but until this past summer was known to all of us as Andrea. When he friended me on a certain popular social media site I noticed many photos where he was trying to look like a Jonathan, and not an Andrea. At one point he even asked me if I would please call him Jonathan in class, and if I would use only masculine pronouns when referring to him. Of course I agreed, and though it took me a little while to reprogram my brain to think of him as a he, it wasn't that difficult. Now in class, though my roster reads Andrea, I call him Jonathan when checking the roll, and as you have read above use only masculine terms when a gender specific pronoun is called for. It has proven to be a very gratifying experience for us both, because I often refer to my student workers as ladies or gentlemen, and when I speak of him in the latter category he lights up with barely controlled joy. This also has let me do a bit of mental back-patting as I inwardly congratulate myself for being so progressive. Then today something happened that showed me just how deeply parochialism and prejudice can run. There has been a young man hanging around the halls of the theatre lately that I don't know. I noticed him today and was going to ask him why he as loitering about when I saw Jonathan go over and sit on his lap. I knew Jonathan was in a relationship, but I had always assumed his significant other to be female. I had unconsciously equated 'wanting to be male' with 'gay female'. As I tried to work out the mechanics of such a relationship in my mind, even going so far as to contemplate asking him about it, I had an epiphany. First of all, it's none of my business, but more importantly it's irrelevant. If two people love each other, and they don't care about 'traditional' gender roles, who am I to say that a person who is on the road to a sex change must automatically like only members of the soon-to-be opposite gender? Even though I do my best to be as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered friendly as I can be, I still try to label and pigeon hole people. Gender and love, while often intertwined, are not always related, and if Jonathan is able to love a person for the contents of their skull, rather than being concerned with the contents of their trousers, then that's fantastic, and I shall simply accept, even if I don't fully understand.

Later, folks.

Marius

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On The Road Again


Well, sort of. Tonight the Asolo theatre company brought their production of Antigone Now to my theatre. It's an updated and condensed retelling of Sophocles' tragedy of the last days of Oedipus's daughter, Antigone, and it was wonderful. I had forgotten how much fun it is to work with a touring company. When I was at the Duncan Theatre in Lake Worth we brought in dozens of touring shows a year. Orchestras, choirs, plays, dance troupes, everything from classical ballet to Irish folk ensembles. It was always exciting waiting for that truck to get there, then the frenzy of activity as the actors and technicians swarmed into the theater anxious to unload, set-up, and maybe grab a few minutes rest before the performance. I love working with road crews, making their lives as easy as possible when they are guests in my home, trying my best to have them remember that one gig where that bald dude made them feel so welcome. That was my daily life for three years at the Duncan, and I totally took it for granted. We prided ourselves on being the one stop that the groups would remember fondly, and took great pains to make their stays in our house as smooth and painless as possible. It didn't always work out that way, of course. There was the time I nearly dropped the fire curtain on an internationally famous modern dance troupe, or the time the road manager of a Russian ballet company nearly got fired while in our theatre because the grande dame of the show was a raging bitch. But mostly it was a lot of fun...and a lot of work, but I loved it, and I deeply miss it. Tonight really showed me how much I miss it. There is little in my professional life that tops an unforced smile and 'thank you' from the members of a touring group...except the joy I get from helping my students do theatre right. Yeah, I miss running a road house, but I love what I'm doing now, too.

I love my job. :-)

Marius the Content

Monday, October 11, 2010

Smell's Like a Monster

I've been trying to figure out why I, and most of the people whose blogs I love the most, haven't been posting as much lately. I think it might have something to do with there not being much going on in the world that stirs me. We've been stuck in two wars for nearly a decade now, with no end in sight. The current administration is almost as bad as the previous, just in different ways. TV, with the exception of the Mythbusters and Stewart and Colbert is a wasteland of trite tripe. Work is great, but it's really just more of the same, building shows you've never heard of and teaching classes you've already heard about. And home is home. I could gripe about the COA driving me crazy, or talk about Starbuck's latest antics:
Heh, heh. Fatass in a box


But to quote the Bare Naked Ladies, it's all been done. But fear not, gentle readers. I haven't given up on this medium just yet. Not blogging is starting to bother me more than it used to, and maybe...just maybe the chrysalis is starting to crack. The egg is starting to hatch. The sleeper must awaken, and the coupons must be doubled. We must all take a stand and say, "My laundry is dirty, and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!!"

Or, just smell like a monster.


G'night, y'all.

Marius

Monday, October 04, 2010

Digital Hermitage


I've noticed, of late, though I know not wherefore, that I have lost much of my facility with the telephone. I used to spend hours on the phone chatting with friends, with family. Then I found the Internet. At first it was just an interesting diversion; a place to find games, information, and the occasional email. Then, just over five years ago, I began this blog. At the time I expected it to fare much like my previous journaling endeavors fared, a few consecutive posts, then longer and longer gaps til it petered out. But a strange thing happened. As I grew more accustomed to posting my thoughts, ideas, and experiences here on t'webs, I grew less enamored of the phone. Now I shy away from 'real time' communication, which in itself is a term I would never have used six years ago, and prefer to chat, or text, or email. The downside to this is that those of you out there who avail themselves of my electronic exhibitionism know more about my life than my own family. Most of my family are fairly technophobic, or at the very least see little use for computers. My brother has a computer that he uses mainly for gaming and email, but has never listened to my podcast, nor read this blog to my knowledge. My relatives 'up north' have email addresses, but I don't know if they ever use them, nor do they have computers at home. And my dad won't go near the computer at his house. When he retired several years ago he said that he stared at computer screens every day at work, and he'd be damned if he'd do it at home too. Of course the irony is that all he does now is stare at the TV screen, but I can't fault him for that. There is also a problem in that it rarely occurs to me to pick up the phone and call anyone, or if I do think of it the time and/or place isn't right. And on the occasion when, say, my aunt in Connecticut calls me, often my phone is not on, or is in another room, or I'm driving and can't get to the call in time. I always promise myself that I'll call back, but then some invisible neurosis makes me put it off, or find reasons/excuses why I should do it later. And the worst part is that there is a part of my brain that feels guilty that I never call anyone, but another part that counters 'why do I always have to call?', yet when they do I often find a way to avoid it. Yet I would gladly chat online with any of them, or exchange emails, or engage in any other non-verbal electronic exchange. I just don't get it. I'm used to being the odd man out in the family, but this is just plain stupid. It's not like talking to people is painful, or tiring, and hell I do a weekly show that is all about talking with people, for fuck's sake! I just don't get me sometimes.

So, do any of you have a similar malady, or know of someone who has crawled inside the Internet and won't come out? Please tell me I'm not alone in here.

Marius the Remote

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lucky 7


About a month and a half ago I did something stupid. Like a moron I followed a link on a questionable web site and infected my computer with what is known as 'ransom ware'. Its that crap that pretends to be an anti-virus program but takes over your machine and won't go away until you buy the remedy. Well I wasn't having any of that, and I grappled with the beastly thing for over six hours. When the dust cleared I was victorious...but my operating system was critically injured. No worries, thought I, for I have the XP install discs that Unkk so graciously supplied when he gave me this computer. So I popped the first disc in, clicked 'repair', and waited for the return of full functionality. Alas, twas not to be. I ran the install several times, with the same results...I couldn't go online, and several drivers wouldn't install. I contacted Unkk, who tried to assist over the phone, but we couldn't figure it out, so he tried sending me a copy of Windows 7. It's a huge program that took about two hours to send, and it didn't work. So he said he'd send the disc via mail. Then, alas, he vanished under an avalanche of real life stuff, and I have yet to hear back from him. So, after limping along on a trusty, but swiftly deteriorating laptop I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase Windows 7. Amazon was selling it for about $50 cheaper than anywhere else, and the Missus said we could, just barely, afford it. It wasn't supposed to get here until Wednesday, but the package was in the box yesterday. I was both elated and nervous because if it didn't work that would be $150 wasted. So it was with great trepidation that I popped the disc into the computer shaped paperweight, and clicked 'install'. Oh...My...Flying Spaghetti Monster! It's like a brand new computer! This machine is finally living up to the potential of its monstrous components. The install was smooth as glass, and did not take anywhere near as long as XP had, and everything works perfectly. To be honest I never liked XP, and have long lamented the loss of Windows 98. XP was, to me, like going from driving a stick-shift to a car that only had an accelerator and brake pedal. It was designed for people who don't care what's under the hood, but I had been used to tinkering with the guts of the OS, which was relatively easy in 98. I never dealt with Vista, but from what I hear that's a good thing, but Windows 7 seems to be an awesome OS, though I'm only just beginning to explore its features. One example of how much better it is, when I installed City of Heroes on my old machine, just loading the program from the install discs usually took about 20 to 30 minutes, so I got ready to do the dishes while it loaded yesterday. The game loaded in about 10 minutes!! And every other program install that didn't involve a download has gone equally as fast. I had heard good things about 7, and from people who generally aren't fans of Windows, and I'm starting to see why. So I still have a lot of downloading to do to get back to where I was before, but methinks it will be fun this time, rather than a chore.

Peace, y'all,
Marius

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Am Sick of Al Qaida Running This Country

When was the last time you were scared by something you weren't thinking about? Terrorism is the one warfare that relies on the cooperation of the enemy. Al Qaida attacked us nearly a decade ago, and they've been the schoolyard bully ever since. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. If we ignore the terrorists, they lose most of their power over us. I'm not suggesting that we reduce our security, but do we have to make every failed hijacking or bombing a national reason to scream and scurry around like a barnyard full of frightened chickens? Yes, the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim extremists, but Timothy McVeigh was a Baptist extremist and we don't freak out every time the Southern Baptist Convention announces its next Disney boycott. Why then are we losing our collective minds over this mosque being built in New York City? "It's two blocks from Ground Zero(tm)!" So? Does that really matter? What if it were four blocks, or eight, or two miles? Someone would object. Sure there are people who are legitimately offended by it going in 'so close' to the site of the attacks, but the vast majority are just parroting what they hear spewing from the radical right-wing squawk boxes like Newt Gingrich and Glen Beck. And there are plenty of non-Muslim people, including many who lost family members in the attacks, who support the mosque. Ultimately what does it matter to you or me if they build that mosque? And more importantly what does it mean to the very fabric of our nation if we somehow find a way to stop it? There is no premise more fundamental to this country than freedom of religion. Most of the colonists who came here from Europe were trying to escape religious tyranny. But now, because a group from a certain religion did something bad to us, we are prepared to toss our very foundations out of the window in the name of fear and hatred? Is that what the United States of America is all about?

I will say this. On September 12, 2001 I was wracking my brain to make sense of the attacks. What would Al Qaida stand to gain by angering the 'sleeping giant'? Today it's very easy to see. We are not just a country divided, we are fractured almost beyond repair. The dust cloud from the collapsing towers took a few hours to settle over New York City, but the cloying smoke of fear and distrust that has blanketed our nation has yet to settle, and if we continue to fan the flames of hate in the name of political exigency, and don't for a minute imagine that those in power aren't behind the fans, then it may never dissipate. Our leaders quickly seized upon the premise that a frightened nation will allow them to do almost anything in the name of security, and were they ever right. So long as we are looking under our beds, and under our neighbor's beds, for terrorists, and branding every Muslim a terrorist, then the government can quietly continue to erode our freedoms, increase their power base, and line their pockets with our futures.

What's the solution? Forget Al Qaida. Forget Bin Laden. Ignore the mosque down the street the same way you ignore the church, or temple, or synagogue. Raise your children as responsibly as you can, and turn your attention to where it should be...to Congress. To the White House. To the Supreme Court. Find out what your local representatives are doing in your name while you protest a building thousands of miles away. And for the love of all that you call holy get the idea that all people of a certain faith are the same out of your head. I don't like the Catholic church, but I know and love many Catholics. I don't like the Southern Baptist Convention, but I know and love many Southern Baptists.(Hell, I married one) And I don't care for many of the teachings of Islam, but that doesn't mean that I for one minute believe that all Muslims are hate filled murderers. In fact I'd be willing to bet, though I can't say for sure, that more people have been killed in the name of Jesus over the course of the last two thousand years than in the name of Allah. We are all just dumb little blobs of protoplasm scrambling around this planet trying to make the best of an existence that often makes little sense. Does it help anything, or anyone to be hateful just because others are? Without our complicity, without our ears, and without our acting out, extremists are just angry little people shooting their blackened hearts at the world. Ignore them, and they will go away.

In my opinion, of course.
Marius


Supplemental: When I wrote this this morning I had not yet listened to Dan Carlin's latest Common Sense podcast...but I am thrilled to echo his views.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Terrible Intimacy


It's 5:30 on Saturday morning, and I've been awake for an hour. I didn't do this on purpose, I just woke up at 4 and couldn't get back to sleep. So I've been piddling about on the Intertubes and nursing a wee hangover from an overindulgence of beer yestereve. I just finished reading Phil Plait's most recent Bad Astronomy blog entry which included a link to an interview with Adam Savage of the Mythbusters. I have heard numerous interviews with Mr. Savage, and one would imagine that I'd be thrilled to listen to another as he is a very interesting and fabulously intelligent speaker, but something stopped me. Lately I've noticed that I have been reluctant to pursue podcasts and interviews involving some of the celebrities I admire, and I think I've finally put my finger on why. The Internet in general, and podcasts specifically, have allowed us to become very familiar with the celebs we like via such things as blogs, and twitter, and Facebook, etc., yet there is a frustration that comes with this perceived intimacy. I can read Adam Savage's or Wil Wheaton's tweets, and feel like I'm part of their circle of friends, but in reality I'm just one out of hundreds of thousands that got those very same tweets. I can respond, but the odds of my yop being heard over the multitude of yips are vanishingly small, and this has lead, at least in my case, to a growing frustration made all the more so by the fact that the people I follow are very accessible, but due to the sheer volume of people trying to access them they are also very inaccessible. I guess I'm spoiled by the interactions I've had with the celebs I've interviewed on Starbase 66, and with the wonderful relationships I've formed with podcasters like Richard Smith and Allison Downing, not to mention the interaction I greatly enjoy with the fans of my show. I guess I just wish that the illusion of intimacy weren't so...illusory. Ah well, as we forge ahead into these uncharted waters of human interaction there are bound to be emotional byproducts hitherto unseen, and unforeseeable. Actually, when I think of it that way, it's pretty groovy.

Enjoy your weekend, y'all.

Marius

Friday, August 06, 2010

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?!


Back in May, when we moved, we rented a U-Haul truck from a little mom and pop garage less than a mile from our house. It was the kind of place that you can imagine that they had only just last week reluctantly removed the hose that rang a bell inside when you drove over it. The skinny, elderly woman who took care of us was very friendly, and we were quite pleased with our experience. Fast-forward to this morning. Mrs. Marius was looking at our bank statement on the computer when she says, "Hon, did you spend $155 at the U-Haul place yesterday?" I was puzzled since I hadn't been back to the old town for nearly a month, and certainly had no cause to spend any money at that particular garage. We looked up their number, called them, and spoke with the same woman. No, she had not put in a charge, and only had our transaction from May in her records. I thanked her, and called the bank. They checked and found that the debit card info had been input manually, no swipe. No shock there. So we made arrangements for me to go in and fill out a dispute form so we could get our money back. Then, thinking that I was doing her a favor, I called the garage back to let them know that someone had accessed their files and stolen our money. The woman, rather than thank me, or even fucking apologize, got pissed at me, like it was my fault someone stole from me using her store's information. She angrily suggested I call U-Haul since she didn't have any record of the transaction. I wanted to point out that if someone was stealing they weren't likely to record it, but it seemed pointless. I have since filled out the appropriate paperwork, and canceled my card, which in itself is a real pain in the ass, but I really hope the bank goes after that place with a vengeance. If she had been in the least bit conciliatory I would believe that she was as much the victim, but I'm not so sure now. That may be their scam, wait a couple of months then put through a charge that, were we not so fucking broke, might go unnoticed. I don't know, but I do know that the next time I rent a truck from U-Haul I'll use a money order.

Bastards.

Marius the Violated

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Before and After

Sometime last year I found a very old picture of my parents holding a not quite one-year-old me and posted it on Facebook and the Simply Syndicated forums. My friend and co-podcaster Karen, who holds a 9th degree black belt in Photoshop offered to try to restore it to it's original glory for me. Of course I was thrilled that she wanted to, especially given the condition of this 45-year-old photo:


Time went by, and I forgot about the picture for the most part, and when I did remember I knew that Karen had been very busy at work, and had encountered some real life speed bumps, so I just figured she would get to it when she got to it. Then, yesterday amongst many, in my mind unnecessary, apologies she sent me this wonder:



I am certain that the day this photo come out of the developing lab it didn't look this good. I am so grateful and blown away by this I haven't sufficient superlatives. I'll be sending either the file or prints of this to many in my family who will, no doubt, cherish as much, or maybe even more, than I.

Thank you so much, Karen. You are awesome!!

Marius the Giddy

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bite me, Blanche Dubois!

The fictitious lady in the title always relies on 'the kindness of strangers', but lately I have been the extremely grateful recipient of the generosity of my dearest friends. This weekend was another chance to visit some of my closest(though, alas, not physically) and oldest friends, A and B, and their lovely kids G and D (yeah, G kinda ruins the alphabetical order of their initials, but she's pretty cool so we'll just let that slide). I try to get down to see them once or twice a year, but with the moving and Mrs. Marius's crushing work schedule traveling has been more problematic than usual. Added to that my car's air conditioner died last year, and with temps regularly hitting the high 90s a long(three hour) drive is akin to a mobile sauna. But a rare convergence of events transpired this week that allowed not only me to travel south, but my lovely wife as well...and her a/c works just fine. :-D You see she's finally, after three years, being moved up to full time at her job, thus allowing her to quit the second job, and actually get real, honest-to-goodness days off. And there was much rejoicing.

We both had to work Saturday morning, but the afternoon found us giving the cats an early dinner, packing a change of clothes, and wending our way to the magical land of Naples. After passing through a deluge or two, this is summer in Florida after all, my cell rang and it was A instructing us to get off the freeway ten miles early and meet them at Outback steak house. This we gladly did and joined them for a lovely meal. There were many hugs and laughs, and amazed comments at the seemingly inhuman growth of the children, and catching up on such things as movies, and TV and such. And there was much rejoicing.

Ere too long we repaired to the hacienda, assured the ferocious Bigby the dog that we really weren't there to hurt him and that he didn't need to keep hiding behind the living room chairs, and settled in to visit. The ladies almost immediately began discussing Twilight, and us guys did our best not to roll our eyes out of our heads. Eventually B and Mrs. M went away to look at books, and A and I chatted about this and that, and then the words Rock Band were spoken. No, quoth I, I have not played yet. No sooner had these words been uttered when the kids and A pounced on their PS3, and suddenly the living room was converted into a Karaoke bar. I sang, 'played' drums(very badly), and had a blast. Eventually the ladies returned, and my wife had a bag full of paperbacks to bring home, and everybody joined in the game. A couple of hours later we retired to the hot tub while the kids swam and we chatted, reminisced, and just chilled. Bedtime followed soon upon.

Sunday morning was mellow and unhurried. Mrs. M had never played any Wii games, so that system was unsheathed, and we all threw things, and shot things, and then she was introduced to the strange world of Raving Rabids. Then a sumptuous lunch was made by A and B, and we feasted 'pon grilled piggy and taters. Alas, all too soon it was time to make our way home to the, at least in their minds, starving Kitties-O-The-Apocalypse. But before we left we were presented with some groovy stuff. A and B had cleaned out their daughter's closets, and the wife and B went through the Goodwill-bound bags to see if there was anything the CoA could wear, and yay verily there was. A, having been gifted this yuletide with the first two seasons of Star Trek TOS on Blu-Ray gave me his DVD copies of the same(at which point I think I might have squeed just a bit), and just when we thought the presents were done, they gave me a small, gift wrapped package that they said was meant for me at Christmas, but we never got together. I opened it, and if I squeed a little over the DVDs, I squeed a lot over this:



If you don't know what that is, last year a company released three Star Trek related fragrances, Tiberius, Red Shirt, and Ponn Farr. I loooove the artwork on the bottle. It's pure genius. And here it is on display with some very good company:



And then it was time to make our way home. More hugs were dispensed along with hopes that the next visit would not be so far away this time. We loaded up our booty and our memories and sallied forth. The drive home was uneventful, and upon our arrival the cats merely sniffed our hands and gave us sour looks over the obvious scent of our puppy-petting guilt. Then they started bitching about the empty food bowls, and all was right with the world again.

Thanks, A, B, G, and D. We had a great time. :-)

And there was much rejoicing.

Marius

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Greatest YouTube Video EVER!

To quote one of the comments, this is the reason the Internet was invented.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

R2D2, It Is You! It Is You!



Today was an interesting day. It started as most days do, with Starbuck waking me a few minutes before breakfast time. I shambled downstairs, fed the cats, and crashed for another hour on the sofa. Then coffee was quaffed, webs were surfed, and the daily boredom settled over me again like a bag of wet cement. Then, shortly before my wife was due home, something snapped inside me and I got sick of my inertia and started cleaning. After the move we managed to put away enough stuff so that the main living areas of the house were clear, and then we just sort of stopped. Today I excavated the living room, polished the remaining silver, and even hung one of our pictures, and now it looks like this:



So that was a good thing. Unfortunately, whilst vacuuming the rest of the house one of the cat toys got sucked into the beater brushes and I kinda lost my shit. Hurling toys the cats never use hither and thither, and hurling words I've been using far too often lately as well, my wife pointed out that I really need to get out of the house. Summers sometimes weigh heavily on me, and with the exception of last weekend's wonderful stay at Castle Duke there have been too many days where I haven't even left the house. Today it all crashed in on me. So my wonderful Missus dug into the webs and tried to find something for us to do tomorrow, since she actually has the day off. We settled on Tarpon Springs, which is just across the bay and the locus of sponge diving in Florida. It has a huge Greek population, so I'm looking forward to nomming many a baklava and grape leaf. I'm actually quite excited. It's very easy to forget that there is a reason, besides the weather, that Florida is a tourist Mecca.

Something wonderful that happened today involved the Duke and His Lady Memorial HDTV. For more than 20 years I have known that somewhere in the hieroglyphics adorning the Well of the Souls set in Raiders of the Lost Ark were R2D2 and C-3PO, but I had never been able to spot them. Today I popped Raiders into the blu-ray player, and spotted them quite easily in all that gorgeous high def clarity. I was giddy as a school boy, and my wife, who was unaware of this pre-DVD Easter egg, got quite a chuckle as well. It quite literally made my day. Cheers, your dukosity. :-)

And that's all for now. I'll give a full report on our away mission upon our return.

Later, y'all,
Marius

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Ooooo. Aaaahhhh. Ohhhhh!!


Gather round, folkses, and let me tell you of a groovy weekend. As most of you know, this weekend was our Independence Day celebration and Duke invited us down to his place to enjoy some brew, some noms, and some explosives. Alas, Mrs. Marius had to work, but sent me on my way with her blessing. The trip down was uneventful, and I arrived moments after the doughty Turtle and Sheeps. Hugs were dispensed, and then we went to lunch at a totally awesome place called The Ice House. It is actually an old ice house that has now been turned into a pub, complete with about four gazillion dart board, and a few more types of beer. Thus the drinking began. Upon our return to Chez Duke Targon and the family arrived and there was much rejoicing...and drinking. The rest of the afternoon/evening consisted of beer, movies, beer, a very strange board game, an incredible lasagna made by Mrs. Duke, vodka and beer, pool, and finally beer. At long last we all hauled our rapidly aging, and aching, heads to bed. Sunday, your actual 4th of July, saw us not too much the worse for wear, and a tasty breakfast was quickly followed by an even sillier game of Munchkin. If you are at all familiar with fantasy role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, get a copy of Munchkin. It's frikken hilarious! And family friendly as the participants in this game were made up of three children, and three adults. After lunch most of us old farts took naps as it was raining quite heavily. Later the rain let up a bit and Duke introduced me to the world of SCA fencing. This is similar to the full contact fighting I used to do with heavy rattan swords, but with real steel swords. These are not heavy broadswords, but more along the lines of the rapiers you saw in The Princess Bride. Between Duke, Turtle, and Sheeps they had enough gear to get me outfitted and a grand, if very sweaty, time was had by all. I really enjoyed myself and even have a couple of bruises to show for it. Gonna have to get more into this.

Sunday night was dry enough for the fireworks that Duke had acquired. He and I braved the mosquitoes, smoke, and occasional misfired rocket to play firebugs as we launched numerous brilliantly colored flames heavenward. Fortunately we were all quite sober...though more due to over indulging the night before than to any sense of safety...and everyone retired within with no net loss of digits or other vital organs. We played some more pool, drank a few more beers, and had an all adult game of Munchkin before turning in.

Monday was bug out day. Half of us were heading north, whilst the other half was headed south. Turtle and Sheeps and I met Mrs. Marius for an amazing lunch at an all you can eat sushi and Chinese food place called Crazy Buffet(if there is one near you I highly recommend it) and then we all went our separate ways; full, happy, and quite relaxed. I know it was something I very, very much needed, and I suspect that the feelings along those lines were quite mutual.

So unto Duke and his lovely lady I say thanks again for another grand 4th of July. And to everyone I say that it was, is, and always will be so wonderful to see you. I have been, and always shall be your friend...even if you do like Yuengling. ;-)

Love to all,
Marius

Friday, July 02, 2010

Hiya


Ok, so slacker doesn't even begin to cover my lack of postings hereabouts, but I shall endeavor to make amends. As you may recall we recently pulled up stakes and hauled our collection of shit, crap, and sundry junk into a new(to us, anyway) abode. As I've whined previously it was more traumatizing than I'd anticipated, and I kinda spiraled into a deep mauve funk. (it wasn't a deep blue funk because I rather like that color, and this funk was not pleasant) As time has passed, however, and the stuff of our lives has osmosed into the closets and drawers of the new place I have found melancholy replaced by sheerest boredom. But not the kind of boredom that inspires you to actually do stuff. No, more the kind of boredom that, if it weren't for the pesterings of hungry felines, might cause one to question the wisdom of getting out of bed at all. Well, 'tis time to break out of this cocoon and get some shit done! And let me share a bit of advise for any of you that might be renting your dwelling from an actual rental company...don't waste your time cleaning before you leave. We busted our asses making sure the old place looked better than when we moved in, and still got buggered out of 9/10ths of our security deposit.

Now for a media report. Don't go see Robin Hood, unless maybe you are seeking a drug-free sleep aid. My grud! I expected it to not be very good, but I didn't expect to be bored to death. Russel Crowe exhibited all the personality of a piece of Formica in this snoozefest of a movie. The rest of the cast did their very best to add a sense of fun to the film, but every time Crowe was on screen he acted like a fun-absorbent bit of floating boom, sucking in all semblance of merriment until everyone around him seemed to just give up and wander, zombie-like, through the rest of the picture. Ridley Scott owes me two hours and twenty bucks!

On the up side, thanks to a massively generous house warming gift, we now have our very first HDTV and Blu Ray player. I had seen the high def televisions, and even allowed myself to lust after them a bit, but was only just beginning to entertain the possibility that we might, someday, be able to afford one. Well now we have one, and it's FREAKING AMAZING!!! And the best part is that the disc player has built in WiFi, so it can talk to our wireless router and stream movies from the Internet directly to the TV. If I might steal a line from Will Wheaton, I love living in the future. Anyone want to take a guess what the first Blu Ray movie I bought was? ;-)

And that's about it for now. I'll be joining Duke for the Independence Day celebrations again this year, and I'm very much looking forward to that. Podcasting is going great, and we've been recording like crazy lately, and the COA is at her dad's, so Mrs. Marius and I are getting a very much needed break.

So, I'm going to get some breakfast and then do some cleaning. I'm sure you'll be on the edge of your seat until this exciting activity is fully documented in this august journal(I know it's not August yet, but indulge me) but I'm afraid I have to keep some things private.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the Matt Smith Doctor Who yet, why not?! He's brilliant!!

Ciao.
Marius

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Paging Dr. Mengele

It's been a while since something this repellent has come to my attention, but this is just so disgusting that I have been using every outlet at my disposal to get this out into the light of day. This was taken from The Stranger website, and I implore you to repost this in any forum you have access to. This must be stopped now!!
Marius

Doctor Treating Pregnant Women With Experimental Drug To Prevent Lesbianism
Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 9:05 AM

Originally posted yesterday afternoon at 3:15 PM.


That's not fair, as Hanna Rosin at Slate will shortly point out. Pediatric endocrinologist Maria New—of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University—isn't just trying to prevent lesbianism by treating pregnant women with an experimental hormone. She's also trying to prevent the births of girls who display an "abnormal" disinterest in babies, don't want to play with girls' toys or become mothers, and whose "career preferences" are deemed too "masculine." Unbelievable:

The majority of researchers and clinicians interested in the use of prenatal “dex” focus on preventing development of ambiguous genitalia in girls with CAH. CAH results in an excess of androgens prenatally, and this can lead to a “masculinizing” of a female fetus’s genitals. One group of researchers, however, seems to be suggesting that prenatal dex also might prevent affected girls from turning out to be homosexual or bisexual.

Pediatric endocrinologist Maria New, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University, and her long-time collaborator, psychologist Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg, of Columbia University, have been tracing evidence for the influence of prenatal androgens in sexual orientation.... They specifically point to reasons to believe that it is prenatal androgens that have an impact on the development of sexual orientation. The authors write, "Most women were heterosexual, but the rates of bisexual and homosexual orientation were increased above controls . . . and correlated with the degree of prenatal androgenization.” They go on to suggest that the work might offer some insight into the influence of prenatal hormones on the development of sexual orientation in general. “That this may apply also to sexual orientation in at least a subgroup of women is suggested by the fact that earlier research has repeatedly shown that about one-third of homosexual women have (modestly) increased levels of androgens.” They “conclude that the findings support a sexual-differentiation perspective involving prenatal androgens on the development of sexual orientation.”

And it isn’t just that many women with CAH have a lower interest, compared to other women, in having sex with men. In another paper entitled “What Causes Low Rates of Child-Bearing in Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia?” Meyer-Bahlburg writes that “CAH women as a group have a lower interest than controls in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role. As children, they show an unusually low interest in engaging in maternal play with baby dolls, and their interest in caring for infants, the frequency of daydreams or fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood, or the expressed wish of experiencing pregnancy and having children of their own appear to be relatively low in all age groups.”

In the same article, Meyer-Bahlburg suggests that treatments with prenatal dexamethasone might cause these girls’ behavior to be closer to the expectation of heterosexual norms: “Long term follow-up studies of the behavioral outcome will show whether dexamethasone treatment also prevents the effects of prenatal androgens on brain and behavior.”

In a paper published just this year in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, New and her colleague, pediatric endocrinologist Saroj Nimkarn of Weill Cornell Medical College, go further, constructing low interest in babies and men—and even interest in what they consider to be men’s occupations and games—as “abnormal,” and potentially preventable with prenatal dex:

“Gender-related behaviors, namely childhood play, peer association, career and leisure time preferences in adolescence and adulthood, maternalism, aggression, and sexual orientation become masculinized in 46,XX girls and women with 21OHD deficiency [CAH]. These abnormalities have been attributed to the effects of excessive prenatal androgen levels on the sexual differentiation of the brain and later on behavior.” Nimkarn and New continue: “We anticipate that prenatal dexamethasone therapy will reduce the well-documented behavioral masculinization...”

It seems more than a little ironic to have New, one of the first women pediatric endocrinologists and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, constructing women who go into “men’s” fields as “abnormal.” And yet it appears that New is suggesting that the “prevention” of “behavioral masculinization” is a benefit of treatment to parents with whom she speaks about prenatal dex. In a 2001 presentation to the CARES Foundation (a videotape of which we have), New seemed to suggest to parents that one of the goals of treatment of girls with CAH is to turn them into wives and mothers. Showing a slide of the ambiguous genitals of a girl with CAH, New told the assembled parents:

“The challenge here is... to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody’s wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother. And she has all the machinery for motherhood, and therefore nothing should stop that, if we can repair her surgically and help her psychologically to continue to grow and develop as a girl.”

In the Q&A period, during a discussion of prenatal dex treatments, an audience member asked New, “Isn’t there a benefit to the female babies in terms of reducing the androgen effects on the brain?” New answered, “You know, when the babies who have been treated with dex prenatally get to an age in which they are sexually active, I’ll be able to answer that question.” At that point, she’ll know if they are interested in taking men and making babies.

In a previous Bioethics Forum post, Alice Dreger noted an instance of a prospective father using knowledge of the fraternal birth order effect to try to avoid having a gay son by a surrogate pregnancy. There may be other individualized instances of parents trying to ensure heterosexual children before birth. But the use of prenatal dexamethasone treatments for CAH represents, to our knowledge, the first systematic medical effort attached to a “paradigm” of attempting in utero to reduce rates of homosexuality, bisexuality, and “low maternal interest.”

So no more Elena Kagans, no more Donna Shalalas, no more Martina Navratilovas, no more k.d. langs, no more Constance McMillens—because all women must grow up to suck dick, crank out babies, and do women's work. And the existence of adult women who are not interested in "becoming someone's wife" and "making babies" constitutes a medical emergency that requires us to treat women who are currently pregnant with a dangerous experimental hormone. Otherwise their daughters might grow up to, um, be nominated to sit on the Supreme Court, serve as cabinet secretaries, take 18 Grand Slam singles titles, win Grammies, and take their girlfriends to prom.

And we can't have that.

Two things: Gay people have been stressing out about the day arriving when scientists developed treatments to prevent homosexuality. The preventing gay sheep freak out is here, Twilight of the Golds is here, and I recall—but can't quickly find a link for—a "fellow" at the Family Research Council or the American Family Association who backed in-utero hormone treatments to prevent homosexuality. Well, here we are—the day appears to have arrived. Now what are we going to do about it?

And will the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee invite Maria New to testify at Elana Kagan's confirmation hearings? New could argue that Kagan—childless, unmarried Kagan—is unfit to serve on our highest court because her "low maternal interest" pegs her as abnormal, well outside the "maternal mainstream." Maybe GOP senators would be mollified if Kagan knocked back a few bottles of dex during her confirmation hearings?

UPDATE: A little more about dex from Alice Dreger:

The specific drug we're talking about, dexamethasone, is not a benign drug for pregnant women, nor for the children exposed in utero. The studies we do have on the early prenatal use of "dex" are worrisome. The number of women and children missing from the follow-up studies of this drug use is more worrisome still.

This drug is unequivocally experimental and risky. That's why, back in February, I organized interested members of the Bioethics community to fight to make sure every woman offered dex for CAH knows the truth about its experimental and risky nature. (You can read about our efforts in Time magazine. And you can about the medical establishment's resultant mad scampering to make sure everyone knows this is experimental here.) Make no mistake: In spite of Dr. Maria New's outrageous FDA-regulation-flaunting claims that this off-label drug use "has been found safe for mother and child," it ain't been. New is a rogue pediatrician whom medical societies have been nudging (and sometimes yelling at) for years. Because she apparently wouldn't stop experimenting on these women and children without ethics oversight, in January I got called in to help by a few freaked-out clinicians. And I called in my colleagues to call out the feds. New just looks and sounds safe for mothers and children. Which is why she's really dangerous.