Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Torture

I often argue that it is not justifiable to commit evil in order to achieve good. I suppose this is a fancy way of saying "two wrongs (or three or four) don't make a right." Or: "the ends don't justify the means."

The handiest example I can give you is abortion. The death of an unborn baby can't be justified no matter how deep and sincere the desire for an end to a pregnancy, because the intentional killing of an unborn baby is always evil. Yes, even in the case of rape or incest.

If it is always evil to initiate force - and I believe it is - it is only justifiable to use force in self-defense.

Thus, it is always evil to intentionally kill an unborn child, because an unborn child cannot initiate force. It is impossible. The child, as yet, has no will. He is incapable of acting willfully either for or against anything, including his mother.

He exists through no will of his own. In fact, in the vast majority of pregnancies, there is no aggressor: pregnancy resulted from two people willfully participating in an act they knew could potentially result in pregnancy. (Although, undoubtedly, one of them will ask the other at least once, with wide eyes and in a wounded voice, How did this happen?)

In a small percentage of cases, the initiator of force is a rapist, statutory, incestuous, or otherwise. The question of how to deal with such an aggressor is outside the purview of this blog post; for the purposes of my argument it is only necessary to note that in such a case, it is the rapist who is the aggressor, and not the unborn child.

I have heard this sound argument recently - that good cannot be the result of evil - unsoundly applied to the problem of torture. A Senate report (although, if we are being honest, it is a strictly partisan document prepared by Senate Democrats, or more accurately, Senate Democrat staffers) concerning CIA "enhanced interrogation" techniques was read on the Senate floor by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) yesterday, and it is currently all anyone can talk about.

Last night while looking at social media, I saw where a young woman in her 20s had begun a diatribe with: "TORTURE IS NEVER OKAY." And while I find this particular young woman lovely and well-meaning, I admit I couldn't stop myself from laughing.

If we are blithely handing out nevers, here are some: this young woman has, presumably, never been to war, never been tasked with the protection of a country, and never been face to face with a murderous, cold-blooded person intent on protecting information that could save her loved one or her fellow countrymen with a mere slip of the tongue.

To continue with our never theme: it is easy and in fact justifiable to declare that intentional abortion is never okay. As I've explained, the unborn child can never be an aggressor.

It is less easy to assert that torture is never okay. Because it simply sometimes is.

The handiest way to illustrate this point is with an example. Think of the person you love the most: your child, your spouse, your sibling, your parent, whoever. Imagine they have been kidnapped and held by murderers demanding a ransom you can't pay. Now imagine one of the gang of scoundrels has been captured, and there is sufficient evidence to believe beyond the doubt of a reasonable person that this individual knows the location of your loved one.

If he tells you, there is a chance you can save your loved one. If he doesn't, your loved one will almost definitely be killed.

Don't imagine that you are Jack Bauer. Imagine that you are you. And imagine your real-life husband, wife, child, parent, brother or sister is the one facing imminent death.

The police tell you they are going to use enhanced interrogation techniques on this person. The methods won't do any permanent physical damage, but they will be psychologically harrowing. There will be no red-hot pokers to the eyeballs or bamboo shoots beneath the fingernails. But there may be an ice water bath, sleep deprivation, or a technique that makes them feel like they are drowning.

What do you do, to save the life of your loved one? Do you tell the police "why heavens to betsy, you musn't!"? Or do you make the decision that it is reasonable to subject a criminal holding an innocent person hostage, rather than allowing the innocent to die?

Do you self-righteously declare that "torture is never okay," and sit back to wait for your loved one to be mailed to you in bits? Or do you figure that a little ice water is an acceptable price to pay for a human life?

Now imagine that it is not your loved one in danger, but thousands. Millions. The loved ones of all the nation. Imagine it is not one kidnapping, or one murder, but bombs, rockets, potential nuclear attack you are trying to thwart. And imagine the individual withholding information about weapons, targets, strategy, and hiding places is no mere murderer, but a terrorist responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of people.

Is it okay then? To pour water on his face until he talks?

This example does not - and is not meant to - illustrate that torture is grand, fine, the best way to get things done, always acceptable, etc. I doubt you'll find many people who would approve of it as anything other than a last resort.

This example is meant to illustrate - and I believe it does - that some practices defined as torture are sometimes morally justified.

Are there instances in which torture is immoral and evil? Of course. No doubt there are countless.

Does even justifiable torture have its drawbacks and limitations? Without a doubt.

But to declare that "torture is never okay" is, frankly, naive.

After 9/11, as a nation we demanded answers, protection, and assurances of safety. Our appeal to elected officials was handed down the line, from politicians to generals and administrators in charge of the war effort, and so on and so forth until it was repeated urgently to the men and women tasked with actually obtaining those answers, that protection, that assurance.

"Give us answers. Give us protection. Give us assurance that we are safe."

If that is what you've been asked for by your superiors - by your country - and you are sitting in a room with, say, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a proven and avowed mass-murdering terrorist holding within his dark little brain information that will undoubtedly save American lives, do you continue begging him for answers and promising him goodies until you're both dead of old age, or do you pour some water on his head until he gives you what you need to protect innocent people?

If it were me: somebody pass the pitcher.

Now we are condemning the people who did this, who did it for us, and who often got results.

I haven't read the 480-page Senate report, and I cannot speak to whether each instance of torture was justified. It's very possible and in fact likely there have been occasions when torture was either too hastily applied, or too severe in its application.

In short, it's not a defense of the CIA I undertake here, but an attempt to explain why a knee-jerk condemnation of all kinds of torture, in general, is folly.

If I have little patience for those who declare that "torture is never okay," I have less for those who would smugly assure me that, in my example scenario above, they would rather see their loved one die than see someone tortured. This is not pure, noble, or merciful. This is immoral, self-righteous claptrap.

As David Mamet eloquently wrote, "Kindness to the wicked is cruelty to the righteous." When you are haughtily, nobly merciful to the evil, you are vainly, abjectly cruel to their innocent victims, past and future.

Christian pacifism carried to extremes is not only immoral, but dangerous. God help us if we teach our daughters that they are closer to God lying raped and dead in a ditch than standing over a dead rapist holding a smoking pistol.

And God help us if we allow the innocent to die so that we may pat ourselves on the back for taking the ethical high ground, while the murderers take their precious secrets to their cells.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Video: "We Need To Have Abortion Pride"

First watch the video.

It can be summed up with one sentence spoken halfway through: "I never felt guilt because I put myself first." Simple. But it still needs to be watched because it encapsulates the hypocrisy of fauxminism: that we are so oppressed only oppressing our fertility (with pills and abortions) and oppressing our children (by killing them in the womb) can liberate us.

If that sounds nonsensical, well, it is.

Every sentence from both of these ridiculous women drips with self-absorption and delusion. Try to count how many times they say "I," "me," "my," and "want."

These are the women who paved the way for the hysterical, entitled, selfish fauxminists that dominate the feminist movement today. These women gave birth (proverbially, not literally, because as we all know, birth is gross) to Sandra Fluke and her ilk: women who cry about paying for their own birth control pills and ignore the women oppressed and killed under Sharia law, ignore the reality of Chinese and Indian (and American!) gendercide, and in every conceivable way, ignore the violence that goes on constantly inside women's wombs.

The people in this video - Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross - have a website featuring the slogan "Better Orgasms. Better World." So you know you're dealing with some deep-ass minds.

Here are some of my favorite things these whackjobs say in the video:

"It's a couple of cells that can't exist without you. I wouldn't feel sorry at all." (SCIENCE!)

"George Tiller... [was] performing late-term abortions and saving women's lives." (Wow.)

"If you have terminated a pregnancy, you're a warrior." (Against who now?)

"Honor your abortions." (Pin merit badges on your dead fetuses!)

They repeat the phrase "intentional motherhood" several times. It reminds me of a (hilarious) song my brother's band wrote and performed a long time ago called "Planned Parenthood,"describing a peek inside the clinic waiting room, and featuring the lyric: "It didn't look that planned / In fact it looked unplanned."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: across the animal kingdom and including the human race, sex exists first and foremost for the purpose of procreation. Sex exists - whether you believe it was designed or evolved - to create offspring. Yes, I know. It's hard to believe either God or billions of years of evolution didn't come up with the idea of sex because it feels amaaaazing.

Unfortunately it is surprisingly difficult to divorce sex from its intended purpose. Pills, IUDs, and many other methods have to seriously alter your body chemistry - in some cases creating scary complications such as blood clots and cervical scarring - to keep sex from making a baby inside you.

Jeff Goldblum said it best: "Life finds a way."

And when it does, it's not okay to blame the baby so hard you kill it. Just because you didn't want it doesn't mean you didn't create it. It was your idea to pretend like biology doesn't exist. And when biology smacked you in the face with the reality of a human being inside you that is dependent on you, the fact that you think reality is stupid doesn't justify killing a human being. Of any size, or any level of development.

So anyway. These women are idiots. We don't liberate ourselves when we kill our children. We just do exactly what we've been accusing the patriarchy of doing for the past gazillion years: oppress someone smaller and weaker so we can do whatever we want.

(Hat tip Kristin McHarge for the video.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Your Communist Pope And You

People keep saying Pope Francis is a Communist. I'm Catholic and decidedly not a Communist, so I don't want to believe them.

Then he says shit like this:

"I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel," he said, citing Biblical passages about the need to help the poor, the sick and the needy.
"Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: 'but then you are Christian,'" he said, laughing.

Hahaha! Christianity and Communism are the same thing! It's hilarious!

Except they're not, and it's not.

It's so, so not.

How could a Pope say something like that? It bothers me on levels I didn't even know were there.

Does this man not understand the difference between private charity and confiscatory taxation? He has vociferously condemned "unbridled capitalism" - as if we have that anywhere - but not the unbridled state, which is the actual problem.

Does he really think people in third world countries are poor because of free market capitalism? I hate to disappoint the man, but it's the opposite of capitalism that is to blame, and the lack of a free market - everywhere - that is the problem.

Liberty is not the problem.

I know your typing fingers itch to tell me how Pope Francis himself stated unequivocally that he is not a Marxist. And that's fine. But then there's the Evangelii Gaudium:

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control...
I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity [St. John Chrysostom]: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.”

I get the uneasy feeling that Pope Francis loves the poor so much he wants them to stay poor.

Free-market capitalist Catholic writer Thomas E. Woods, Jr. said this on his blog:

When I noted on Facebook that I was going to discuss the Pope’s attacks on markets, I was told by at least one person that this was the media’s misleading spin on the Pope’s views. But read the document for yourself. He is indeed criticizing markets. I did not make this up.

I could have written that. I have posted several times on Facebook about the Pope's troubling anti-capitalist views, and every time I do, I receive a bevy of comments from disgruntled Catholics claiming anti-Papist bias in the media. Very few of them get around to accepting or addressing what the Pope actually freaking said.

Woods devoted an entire episode of his podcast to Pope Francis and capitalism, and I highly recommend you listen.

Towards the beginning of the podcast, Woods says matter-of-factly, "Pope Francis is a left liberal." He also says, "You don't have to get a lobotomy to be a Catholic."

Thank God.

There is certainly a lot to admire about Pope Francis. His personal commitment to the poor, to living a Christ-like life, is commendable and even inspiring. But his failure to understand the difference between a personal commitment and a state mandate is troubling, to say the least.

To live St. John Chrysostom's words, to accept that all you own belongs to the poor, is a beautiful personal choice a Christian can make. To have that "choice" forced on you by an all-powerful state is the opposite of beautiful. It is, in fact, the opposite of Christianity. Virtue isn't virtue if you have no choice. If it were, God wouldn't have given us free will. It is the choice to be a Christian that matters.

Please remember that the Pope's infallibility does not apply to everything, or even to most things. You do not have to believe him when he says capitalism is bad for the poor, and I would recommend you didn't, because he's super duper wrong.

Free markets are the only hope for the poor of the world.

I will continue to be critical of Pope Francis because I believe his adherence to anti-market economic policies is antithetical to Christianity, and that the spread of these ideas will result in more suffering for the poor he loves and sincerely wants to help.

For those who think all this stuff about the Pope being a redistributionist is a bunch of hooey, read Evangelii Gaudium and get it straight from the holy horse's mouth.

"I think this document is a source of tremendous scandal and can do tremendous damage," said Woods. He reminds the listener, at the end of his podcast, of St. Thomas Aquinas's admonition to the layman to correct his prelate if doing so can prevent scandal.

We all need to correct Pope Francis, for the good of the poor, the Church, and the world.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

DDP Yoga: A Fat Review For The Fat

I chose this as my leading image because how could I not.

This is not a real review. This is more like a cry for help.

I just finished Day 3 of DDP Yoga, which is the first day that includes a real, honest-to-God workout. I am typing this through a haze of sweat and nausea.

The workout I just finished is called ENERGY!, and I find it terribly cruel that the workout named itself after the thing it took from me. It would be like me kidnapping your son Ferdinand and then being like, "Hi, I'm Ferdinand."

If you're not familiar with DDP Yoga, that's because you've never been on YouTube. Or perhaps you just haven't made the connection between the famous disabled vet video and the workout that un-disabled him.

Arthur Boorman is an Internet-famous retired paratrooper who used to weigh 140 pounds more than he does now. He was a disabled vet who couldn't walk without canes, and now he sprints around the country being all yoga in people's faces, and helping DDP sell his program.

Arthur before, looking pissed at life.

DDP, by the way, stands for Diamond Dallas Page. That's right: he's a professional wrestler.

At first, my husband and I were making fun of DDP for his silliness as we went through the intro video a couple times. But after I graduated from learning the basic moves to doing an actual workout, I stopped laughing. Because you owe some respect - nay, some allegiance - to the man who invented the thing that is killing you.

DDP is weird, yo. I've been doing workout videos since Legs of Steel 2000 on VHS, and I've never done anything quite like it. Keep in mind there are several workouts in the program and I've only done the Diamond Dozen and ENERGY!, but so far it's kind of like doing an easy power yoga sequence, except it's made harder by the concept of Dynamic Resistance.

Dynamic Resistance is basically the idea of pushing against your own body weight and keeping constant tension in your muscles. Think of it as your muscles being dicks to themselves. You basically just tense everything until you lose all hope.

For a while I was confused as to why they didn't crop the other people out of the photo on the left. Then I realized: she looks even huger compared to those regular human-sized humans, making her shiny-coated transformation (right) all the more impressive. (Dear Stacey, lose the shiny coat. Xo.)

Diamond Dallas Page says he invented this program after injuring his spine and being forced to do sissy exercises instead of pumping iron and doing shups* and lups** at the gym like a true bro. He swears yoga repaired his seriously messed-up body, and that now, at age 55 and ripped all to hell, he doesn't do any other exercise but the sweet-ass program that bears his name.

Ridiculous-looking pro wrestler Chris Jericho also credits DDP Yoga with keeping him jacked sans lifting.

I'll admit Arthur Boorman's tear-jerking transformation video is what piqued my interest in the program, but what sealed the deal is this excellent video comparison - created by an unbiased reviewer - pitting DDP Yoga against the supposed gold standard in home fitness programs, P90X.

The video shows how you get comparable results in a fraction of the time with DDP Yoga. And most importantly, you do not have to be a dadgum American Gladiator to start the program. DDP Yoga is totally non-impact, which is how even a guy who couldn't walk was able to do it.

Arthur after. Holy shit.

The ENERGY! workout is 21 minutes long. You don't have time to get bored. There is barely enough time to bargain with Satan to make it stop, and then it's over.

There are several "packs" to choose from when buying. I picked something in the middle. It would have cost me an $80 one-time payment, but I chose three monthly payments of $30 each.

The program is 13 weeks long, or 91 days. I started with the Beginner's program, but the booklet also includes schedules for Intermediate and Advanced. There is a possibility that I will switch over to Intermediate before the 91 days is up. Or I may just do the entire thirteen week beginner's program and then move on to Intermediate and then Advanced. There is a lot of flexibility, which is nice.

The workouts are deceptively simple, and you really get out what you put in. If you're being lazy and not using Dynamic Resistance when you move, it will feel a little too easy. It's up to you ramp it up. But when you do, boy howdy.

One day, when I, too, look like a crunchy snack for my former self, maybe I will share the ridiculous Before photos I'm supposed to take of my gelatinous form doing DDP Yoga poses, alongside the majestic After photos of me bending into impossible shapes and holding my foot aloft over my head like a trophy.

*douche for "push-ups"
**douche for "pull-ups"

UPDATE: I just finished Day 1 of Week 3 and I'm a little amazed at how much progress I've made already. I've only done my seventh DDP Yoga session, and it's remarkable how much easier it's gotten in such a short time. I can now actually do the slow burn pushup, without even having to be on my knees for the plank part.

I look forward to doing this instead of finding excuses to skip it.

Combined with strict adherence to low-carbitude, DDP Yoga is already beginning to show me results. I'm starting to see my abdominal muscles again. My flexibility has improved, and my booty looks higher and firmer. (I was passing a full-length mirror the other day and did a double-take at my own ass.)

I'm gonna go ahead and tentatively recommend DDP Yoga.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Refusal To Mourn

You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead. But I'm bad at rules. And anyway it's been five days. I think that's plenty of time to wait before blogging my refusal to mourn the death by natural causes of a poet in North Carolina.

My reasons? They are many. First, and least: she was a mediocre poet on a good day. I'll let Colleen O'Beirne at The Overrated Times say it for me, since she said it so well:

The bottom line on Maya Angelou is that she’s symptomatic of what’s wrong with modern poetry in general. It’s controlled by an overly cerebral, politically correct academic establishment. It serves as a meta-comment on what poetry is supposed to be, rather than standing on its own as an art form.

Maya Angelou got famous because she was in the right place (California) at the right time (the late '60s) and was the right sort of person (a weird black woman who wrote weird prose about her weird life.)

Here's Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker:

There is an important phenomenon in cultural life that the hard left has exploited for many decades. Most people cannot really tell what good poetry, or painting, or serious theatre (or artsy film, for that matter) is, but they fear looking stupid if they fail to appreciate what others say is good. So, an “artist” in these semi-esoteric fields who is helped along by a claque of politically sympathetic cheerleaders in academia or journalism can become “widely acclaimed” and, if he or she plays the part well (as Angelou did), even “beloved.”

Angelou was a professor-for-life of American Studies at Winston-Salem University, and boasted several visiting professorships at other universities. She preferred being referred to as "Doctor," and while she certainly lived a varied and interesting life, she didn't have an advanced degree of any kind - not so much as a B.A.

Her resume included prostitute, madam, cabaret dancer, and later, composer, actress, and world-famous writer. Some of those are impressive. But do they - should they - qualify one for a professorship and an honorific? Ms. Angelou reportedly taught whatever subject struck her fancy, including theology and science.

"The solar system - IS - like a woman - WHO..."

This is, of course, when she was teaching at all. Thus goes Daniel J. Flynn's eloquent piece in The American Spectator:

The doctor without a doctorate became a teacher without students at Wake Forest. “She collects an annual salary well into the six figures, yet presently teaches no classes and has no campus office,” John Meroney, then a senior at the North Carolina school, wrote in The American Spectator twenty-one years ago. “The office listed for her in the Wake Forest telephone directory is a storage closet in a building far from the main part of campus.”

Remember, kids: America is super unfair, and the only way to make it more fair is to be unfair in what you perceive to be the opposite direction.

Maya Angelou believed America was an unjust and inherently racist colonial experiment in oppression. She said this of Obama's detractors not long after he was re-elected:

I tell you we are going to see some nastiness, some vulgarity, I think. They'll pull the sheets off.

Did you catch that? If you are an Obama critic, you are secretly as racist as a Klansman. "Nastiness," Dr. Angelou? What's that like?

She praised Louis Farrakhan and Mumia Abu-Jamal, not to mention Castro and Kruschev. Her first published article appeared in Cuba's Revolucion. She celebrated the murderous Castro in part because he wasn't white.

Said the doc:
Of course, Castro never had called himself white, so he was O.K. from the git. Anyhow, America hated Russians, and as black people often said, ‘Wasn’t no Communist country that put my grandpappa in slavery. Wasn’t no Communist lynched my poppa or raped my mamma.’

This shrugging opportunism is nauseating. In other words: it doesn't matter who Communists are oppressing, imprisoning, and murdering, as long as it's not me and mine. How is that justice, social or otherwise?

Or was she utterly ignorant? Did she really believe in the lie, the collectivist paradise? Did she know why the caged bird sings, but not how the damned thing gets in the cage?

For the record, this is how it gets out.

Either way, she doesn't deserve a professorship, a title, or a webiverse of social media tributes.

Flynn writes:

Her greatest performance wasn’t in the miniseries Roots or on the album Miss Calypso. It was playing the character Maya Angelou. There’s a P.T. Barnum quality to Maya Angelou. 
Convincing the world of your greatness requires a greatness. This is especially true of the mediocre.
Going from rags to riches by conquering the business world serves as one American Dream. A more common, albeit less realized version, involves enjoying a six-figure living from a no-show job. 
Her mouth occasionally called the promise of America a big fat lie. Her life begged to differ.

Maya Angelou put words together to make poetry, which is rare. She sometimes told the truth about her life, which takes courage. She certainly lived a rich and varied existence, which is enviable.



Sometimes I wish I could be young again. I wish I could recall what it feels like to read Maya Angelou's poems and like them because I was told they were good. I wish I could read her inspiring quotes on Pinterest and look at her lined face, aching with gravitas and experience, and think, "Wow, what a wise and wonderful woman. We should truly mourn the loss of such a powerful voice." And then go back to reading O magazine and watching "The View."

But instead I'm gonna go ahead and be bitter old me, and use my brain.

Maya Angelou was an overrated writer who built a career on victimhood. She praised despicable men and cheered when evil regimes took power.

I'm not mourning the death of Maya Angelou.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Refusal To Castrate My Dog

A potential landlord just told me pets are "welcome" in her house as long as I agree to sign a letter stating that I will have George neutered after he has one litter of pups or within one year, whichever comes first. She is "doing her small part to encourage responsible pet ownership," which to her is synonymous with spaying and neutering.

I attempted to explain to her that just because I don't want to castrate my dog does not mean I intend to run a puppy mill in her backyard. She proceeded to tell me two (count em two) stories about people who - guess what - ran puppy mills in her backyard.

The first bred pit bulls and trained them to fight. I had to stifle a laugh, because have you met George?

The second buried chihuahua pups in the yard, and a toddler accidentally exhumed one of their skeletons. (This probably didn't happen, but it makes a great story with which to shame potential tenants.)

I was polite (enough) to the lady. I did not tell her what I wanted to tell her, which is: take your house and put it in your butt super hard.

This woman thinks it's within the purview of a landlord to "encourage responsible pet ownership." That's fine up to a point. You don't want a maniac dog defacing the walls, floor, and ceiling of your house, or digging mud pits in your backyard. I get it. And you don't want a puppy mill being run out of your home. I get that, too.

But having an intact animal is not synonymous with being an irresponsible breeder. Or even a breeder at all.

I would like one (count em one) of George's pups one day, sure. But the main reason I'm not getting him "fixed" is because he's not broken. I have no problem with his balls, and I don't feel the need to castrate him to prove to everybody what a fucking responsible pet owner I am.

"I love him so much I took his balls."

I can't tell you how many people - some of them strangers - have said, "You should really have him fixed." Have yourself fixed, dipshit. Who the fuck are you?

I don't walk around pointing out the genitalia of other people's animals and saying, "You shouldn't have done that." It's your fucking dog. If you want to get it fixed, get it fixed. But shut the fuck up about my dog.

It's this lady's house, and she can be as ridiculous as she wants with her criteria. But she's missing out on great tenants with a friendly, housebroken animal, all because she's been fed some alarmist bullshit about the "type of people" who don't alter their pets.

I will state this right now: unless there is some health or behavioral reason for it (and I mean a serious behavioral issue such as aggression, not something annoying but hilarious like leg humping) or unless his balls get so long and droopy they start to bang against steps and make him yelp, I am never ever ever castrating George. Ever.

Why not? Because I don't castrate the people I love, and that includes my dog. He loves his balls. If you're a dude, I bet you love your balls. I would rather have to watch him like a hawk around intact females and get barred from the more "enlightened" dog parks and restaurant patios than cut off his balls.

Dudes, I bet if you had a choice, you'd rather get to keep your balls despite never getting to have sex than be castrated.

So George is keeping his nuts, and we're not gonna be living in that lady's house.

But I do have the address. And I must confess I really feel like taping this to her front door.

These are my dog's balls.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Jack Bauer Power Hour

"24" is back on TV and because of this my life is better.

"24" is stupid. We all know this. It is preposterous, cliched, and burdened with both two-dimensional characters and a laughable plot. Every thirty seconds or so, something happens that would not and/or could not ever possibly happen on the planet earth.

And the greatest of these things that couldn't ever possibly happen is Jack Bauer.

Jack Bauer is impossible in every way. Despite getting shot at every few minutes, he rarely gets hit with bullets, and when he does, it's nothing more than a momentary setback. I forget which season this happened, but once, he got stabbed in the stomach and it was never mentioned again.

But most importantly, he can get tortured literally to death, and then torture other people to death later that same day.

Torture only does three things to Jack Bauer:

1. Intensifies and perfects his steely gaze.
2. Gives attractive women new and exciting scars over which to run their admiring fingers.
3. Pisses him off.

"I got tortured in a Chinese prison and all I got was this incredible beard."

My favorite parts of "24" are the parts where Jack Bauer is on the outs with CTU (and therefore with every other government agency) because he knows the truth and no one will listen. That's why season nine is so fulfilling so far: it's Jack vs. basically the whole world. He has one person on his side, as usual, and that's Chloe.

Chloe, by the way, has gone full angst-ridden techno-warrior, replete with goth eyeliner and a "Look what I did, Mom!" haircut. Every time she comes on screen I want to sing "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

Dammit, Chloe.

Anyway. If you're interested in drinking heavily this Memorial Day weekend - and don't try pretending you're not - you can play this drinking game. I call it The Jack Bauer Power Hour, which is also my husband's apt term for "24" itself.

It's easy! All you do is take a drink every time one of these things happens. You'll be wasted before you know it.


Jack gets tortured.
Jack tortures someone.
Jack asks to speak to the President.
The President asks to speak to Jack.
Jack tells Chloe they're running out of time, or vice versa.
CTU establishes a perimeter and someone gets through it.
A beautiful woman finds herself believing in Jack.
Jack gets shot but keeps doing whatever it is he was doing.
Jack gets stabbed but keeps doing whatever it is he was doing.
Jack shoots someone.
Jack goes undercover.
Jack reminds someone that shitloads of lives are at stake.
Jack sacrifices himself for someone else.
Someone Jack loves gets killed super hard.
Someone mentions Jack's daughter and he looks really sad yet stoic.
Someone gets killed right before they were about to give Jack crucial information.
A Middle Eastern person defies negative Middle Eastern stereotypes.
Jack makes a stupid face trying not to cry.
Chloe is rude to someone.
The president makes a difficult decision.
Jack stoically refuses to speak.
Jack is placed in a holding room/cell and left there while important things happen.
Jack convinces someone to trust him right now because he's that person's only chance.
The bad guy executes one of his own people.
Jack gets arrested.
A CTU agent defies orders.
Jack commits breaking & entering.
Jack commits a felony for the greater good.
Jack lets himself get caught for the greater good.
Jack puts a gun to someone's head. Also for the greater good.

Why just sit around and drink when you can sit around and watch Jack Bauer and drink?

Also, if you're like me, you will never be 1/100th as cool as Jack Bauer, but you would still really like to look like you are. Fortunately, this exists now: a shop where you can buy stuff Jack Bauer wears on the show. You're totally welcome.

"24" airs Monday nights on FOX at 9/8 Central. So go buy something to drink (remember: "Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets." - Ron Swanson) and don't forget to play the Jack Bauer Power Hour. Make sure you follow Chronicles of Radness on Facebook, and tell me all about it when you play.

But remember to play responsibly. You don't want to end up like Nina Myers.

"I should have paced myself."

In the meantime, keep your SWAT boots laced up and the president on speed dial.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Political Rant 2014, Volume One

I haven't written about politics in a while. I've been focusing on other things. It's not that I don't notice or care what happens in the political realm. It's just that I don't let it bother me as much. I try to look at my immediate surroundings and keep my attention there. It's helping me be less weird.

The other reason I focus less and less on politics is it gets worse and worse.

Pretty much everywhere, there are fundamentally two sides: Liberty and Bullshit. The problem is Bullshit has to win somehow, and the only way they're going to win is by pretending they are the champions of the wounded poor, the trod-upon minorities, all the myriad victims of the mean, mean people who want Liberty. Despite the fact that the more Bullshit we get, the worse everything is. Bullshit is a lie, but it's a gorgeous lie. It's the reason why almost all of us believe in Bullshit until we get to a certain age and the scales fall from our eyes and we go, Oh wait. Reality.

Bullshitters can't run on the truth, so they run on Bullshit. And Bullshit always sells better than the truth. It's easier to "explain" Bullshit than the truth. It would take me at least a few hundred words to briefly explain why liberty is what we should be striving for. It would also require on the part of the reader some basic understanding of economics, history, and human nature. But the Bullshit argument is a mere haiku:

Nothing is your fault.
Republicans are just mean.
Here's some more free shit.

Please keep in mind all Democrats are Bullshit, and so are most Republicans. The people who aren't on the Bullshit side are few and far between, and everyone thinks they're mean and/or crazy. It's hard out here for a pimp [who believes in Liberty].

Anyway let me just do one big-ass rant and get the whole first half of 2014 out of the way.

Still waitin' for that justice.

1. Benghazi

Everybody knows - everybody fucking knows - if Benghazi happened under a Republican that Republican would have been more or less crucified by now. This is a "duh" statement. If you want to argue it, first you have to prove to me you can tie your shoes and count to twenty.

The Liberty side - and Republicans who pretend to be on the Liberty side when the cameras are running - are always judged more harshly by the media because the media is on the side of Bullshit. This means when Bullshit is in power the media don't do their jobs, and when Liberty is in power they are overzealous, unethical, biased, and deceptive.

When it comes to Benghazi, this administration and their puppets lied like dogs. Now they're pretty much caught, but it doesn't matter because they have no accountability. Who's gonna investigate? Eric Holder? (Pause for laughter.)

The people who shovel the Bullshit don't want to think or talk about Benghazi because it makes them look and sound incompetent, and the people who buy the Bullshit don't want to think or talk about Benghazi because they've been taught to feel deep down like maybe it's our fault as Americans that we keep making terrorists kill us.

Annoying pundit Eleanor Clift spoke for a lot of people, sadly, when she criticized the "glib" use of the word "murder" to describe what happened to Ambassador Chris Stevens. She pointed out - correctly - that he died of smoke inhalation. Never mind that the smoke was from a fire started by terrorists. Does she also still think those terrorists were protesting a video? That it's our fault because we allow free speech against Muslims?

You're right, Eleanor Clift. Ambassador Stevens died of smoke inhalation. So did many of the people who died in the World Trade Center. That's like saying 9/11 victims died from a building falling on them, and ignoring the fact that the building fell after a hijacker crashed a plane into it. Which is to say: Eleanor Clift is about as sharp as a bag of wet hair.

At the center of all this mess is four murdered Americans and a Secretary of State who plainly gives less than a tenth of a fuck. Which brings me to...

2. Hillary Clinton

Most conservative talk radio hosts are at least 50% insane. One of them the other day proved my point by saying he doesn't think Hillary will run, and if she does she probably won't win. I think he's wrong on both counts. I think she will run, and I think she will probably win, because of the Bullshit Haiku. (See above.)

Hillary Clinton is ten pounds of crazy in a five pound bag. If you haven't read anything about the Clintons, I suggest you do so. I'm not gonna tell you which books to read. Do your own research, decide for yourself who's worth believing. I have become convinced in the course of my own investigation that the Clintons are perhaps the most corrupt, criminal, sociopathic couple ever to funk up the presidential sheets.

But she'll probably win. Because she has the last name Clinton, for one. Everybody loves Bill Clinton. They don't know why. They just think he's cool. "Everything was great under Clinton!" Maybe, but guess who's not responsible for that? Clinton! The 90s were better than now in virtually every way, but it's not because Bill Clinton existed. It's for lots of reasons, but that would take up two or three more blog posts.

The other reason people will vote for Hillary is her vagina. People will want to feel really good about how progressive they are for voting for a woman, the same way they wanted to feel great about voting for Barack Obama because he's a black dude. Barack Obama is a talented and clever man in many ways, but he wouldn't be president if he were white. Period.

All the stupid women - and there are so, so many - will vote for Hillary for no other reason than her lady plumbing. A bunch of stupid men will vote for her because they're stupid. The Bullshit Haiku.

3. Moms Demand Action

It's all right here.

This woman is about to be stoned to death under sharia law.
4. Women's Rights

Its failure to appropriately condemn sharia and help women around the world escape it is one of the greatest of the many great failures of modern feminism.

In the United States, when you say "women's rights," you mean, for the most part, abortion on demand and free birth control. Because women aren't truly independent until they can pay someone to suck their children out of them for any reason, and until the gub'mint forces their employers to pay for their birth control. Especially Catholic employers, because fuck those guys.

In many Muslim countries, Islamism has made women's rights a matter of survival. Women in those countries have nothing. No rights. They are chattel. They can be treated as inhumanely as their husbands and male relatives desire, and disposed of at will.

Then there's sex selective abortion, which California just failed to outlaw. Because they believe so strongly in women's rights that they believe women should be allowed to abort their baby if it's a girl. (It's a big problem among Chinese and Indian communities especially, here in the States, and many of these women are being coerced by husbands and in-laws.)

Basically, if fauxminists really cared about women, they would stop whining because they can't have abortions after 24 weeks and start speaking out about sharia and gendercide.

I would really like to know about an organization in the States that helps women who are fleeing or want to flee from situations where they are victims of sharia or similar cruelty. If you know of one, please email me.

4. Don Sterling

You know what should bother you about Don Sterling? Not that he's a racist piece of shit. There are lots of racist pieces of shit out there. There will always be racist pieces of shit, of all races and colors, everywhere.

What should bother you about Don Sterling is that nowadays, if you say something unsavory - not criminal, not a threat, just a gross opinion - in the privacy of your own home in what you believe to be a private conversation, it can be used to destroy your life. You can have property you own forcibly taken from you.

If that doesn't bother you, you are dumb.

Also: Sterling was sued for being a racist slumlord back in 2009. So how come ALL OF A SUDDEN it is BIG FUCKING NEWS that Don Sterling is a racist? OH MY GOD AN 80-YEAR-OLD WHITE GUY IS A RACIST! HOW COULD THIS BE?!

We have to keep freaking out about people being racist. Everybody's opinion is our business. Meanwhile our actual president, who actually matters, is leaving office with a report card ranging from Underwhelming to How Did You Even Fuck Things Up That Bad Without Being Satan - unlike Don "Don't Bring Blacks To My Games" Sterling, who paid $20 million for the Clippers and turned it into a $750 million team. I wouldn't mind Barack Obama being a racist - and he is a racist - if he did that shit with the country.

No one cared that Don Sterling was a philandering bigot until it became politically expedient for them to care.

It is just embarrassing to hear the quavering indignation in the voices of people who talk about how horrible it is that Don Sterling said what he said. The NBA commissioner sounded like he was going to weep at his own righteousness as he declared Don Sterling banned from ever sitting on the board, going to a game, looking at a basketball, etc.

Everybody from Oprah to Magic Johnson to the talking heads on ESPN are a-tremble with their own bravery and moral fiber for declaring Don Sterling a big mean meanie.

You know what would ACTUALLY be brave? For one of these assholes to point out one of the following things:

A. "Isn't it kind of scary that a private conversation in which you express a private opinion can lead to something you own being forcibly taken from you?"
B. "Isn't it kind of weird that everyone is super upset that Don Sterling expressed racist viewpoints, but no one cares he screws prostitutes like it's his full-time job?"
C. "Isn't it kind of wrong that Don Sterling can be universally loathed for expressing racist views against blacks, but blacks who express racist views against whites get a pass?"

Let's look at a few examples of racist black people saying racist things in public:

White folks was in the caves while we was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it. - Al Sharpton
The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn't. But she is a typical white person... - Barack Obama
I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street. - Spike Lee

I could go on, but fuck.

Imagine all those quotes said by famous white people, about black people and "homos." Imagine George W. Bush referring to someone as a "typical black person." Imagine Steven Spielberg saying he gives interracial couples dirty looks. Then imagine the outrage, the uproar, the screams for blood. If Sean Hannity called somebody a homo, he'd never work again.

This is why it's hard for me to take all the racial demagoguery seriously. 

It is no longer enough for us to disagree with people whose viewpoints we find reprehensible. We have to destroy them. We have to ruin them utterly. (If you don't already know about him, google what happened to the CEO of Mozilla.)

There is now an acceptable opinion on these things and an unacceptable one. And if your view is unacceptable, you are fucked. You will be called out, denounced, and ruined. Because that is how things work in the Soviet Union.

Oh, wait, I mean modern day America.

That guy in the background? I am that guy.

5. Full Communism

No, I'm not done yet. I'm just getting warmed up. You can take a pee break if you need to. I will still be here. I WILL ALWAYS BE HERE.

The "Full Communism" thing is everywhere nowadays. It's a hashtag. It's even got a sub-reddit.

I don't have much to say about this except I think it's adorable when people who have no grasp of the past attempt to design the future. Oh, wait, did I say "adorable?" I meant "fucking horrifying."

I'll never go to the gulag, comrades. You'd have to kill me first. But if you get reality's version of "Full Communism" instead of the one a unicorn crapped into your mind via The New York Times, some of you dipshits will go. Send me a motherfucking postcard.

Greetings From Sunny Siberia!
6. Hashtags

My favorite thing about hashtags is how they rescued those people from Somali pirates. Oh, and that hashtag who shot Osama bin Laden - what a hero!

Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I got confused. Those weren't hashtags, they were big scary mean men with guns! It's so easy to get them mixed up!

Look at that hashtag go!
The problem is the hashtag people (including Michelle Obama) have a great deal of contempt for the big, scary, mean, well-trained, well-armed men who actually do rescue people from bad guys. So they post a picture of themselves making a "me spilled my milky" face holding up a hashtag, and then they go back to getting pedicures and watching The View or whatever, and feel like they did something.

And when some big scary mean straight guys with big scary black guns (that should totally be outlawed!) actually rescue the poor kidnapped girls, do you think the hashtaggers will feel any shame? Do you think the thought, "Fuck me, all I did was hashtag, and those dudes risked their lives" will ever cross their minds?

No. They have no shame. They are hashtaggers. Instead they will think, "It was probably the worldwide Twitter pressure of people like me who finally got those guys off their asses."

And then they will praise whichever politician issued the order, as long as he's a Democrat. And they will never know or care who the actual heroes were, because they are too busy knowing and caring a million things that don't fucking matter.

Last but not least, they will steadfastly refuse to care that Islamism is the reason those girls were kidnapped, and the reason millions of Christians and women around the world live every day in fear for their lives and innocence. Because acknowledging that would be intolerant and probably racist.

7. John McCain

Why? Whyyyyyy?

8. Chris Christie

Seriously who fucking cares?

9. Ukraine and Russia

Whatever happens, this administration will fuck it up. I promise.

10. Taxation

Is theft.

11. Government

Monday, May 12, 2014

I Have An Inferiority Complex And I Blame The Internet

So recently I was all like, "I'm gonna be a writer! Like for realzzz."

What happened was I found this website. It's called Duotrope. It costs $5 a month so now my granny can't have that operation. But it makes submitting your writing for publication about a thousand times easier.

Submitting is hard, yo. It still kind of sucks, but it sucked way harder before Duotrope.

Before Duotrope, it went like this. Say you wrote a story. Say it's a story about a garden of potatoes who become sentient and they form factions and have a potato civil war.

So first you have to decide what genre your story is. It's fantasy, right? But what's the sub-genre? Is it magical realism? Let's say it's magical realism. (I don't really know that it is, but let's say that it is.)

So you go online and start searching for magazines and journals and e-zines and so forth that publish magical realism. (Let's not even talk about what this was like before the Internet. Ok, let's do talk about it. You had to go to the bookstore and plunk down $30 for a giant phone book-sized thing called The Writer's Market. Then you had to gather to yourself the dark tools of paper and postage: stamps, big-ass envelopes, SASEs, printer ink, standing in line at Kinko's. And let's not talk about what happened when you got confused and bound your story with a staple instead of paper clips and they sent you back a nasty letter in your SASE because you didn't follow their precious fucking guidelines.)

So anyway. You find a magazine that might buy your potato story. Let's call it Potato Stories. But then you read their submission guidelines and realize that you have to reformat the whole thing in a different font, with different spacing, and you have to add new info to the heading. They only want plain text in the body of the email. For God's sake don't send them attachments. And it can't be longer than 3,000 words or they'll call the cops.

And don't forget: you can't submit your story anywhere else while they're reading it. Their average response time, according to their website, is 60 days. (This is pretty common. In real life. Seriously.) So you wait 64 days and get a rejection. A form letter rejection.

Now you have to find another magazine. This one wants attachments, do not put anything in the body of the email for the love of Satan except your cover letter (and please for the love of Athena read some guidelines about cover letters) and make sure it's a .doc and not a .docx because if it's a .docx we'll delete it while we call you names and make a dartboard out of your story and throw darts at it all the time and laugh about how hard you suck. Ninety days later, we'll send you a form rejection.

Now imagine you're going through this process with six or seven - or more! - stories, all at the same time. That's a lot of shit to keep track of. Duotrope does it for you. I mean, you have to do the actual bullshit work of submitting. But you can look at your little submission tracker and be like, "I submitted to Corpse Dirt Review thirty-one days ago. Their average response time is 42 days. I have a few days before they reject me."

The other cool thing Duotrope does is gather data from all the writers who use Duotrope, so you can glance at a market's page and see they take 112 days on average to reply, and reject 99.2% of submissions, and be like, "Fuck that noise." Or, if you're Neil Gaiman or whoever, go ahead and submit.

Anyway I found Duotrope recently, and I decided to start submitting some of the stories I've written over the past several years. I've never really tried to get my fiction published, and I guess it's time.

So why do I have an inferiority complex? Because in researching markets for my stories, I've been glancing through their back issues and discovering this:

There are a lot of writers. Like, a lot. And they are better than me. They are all better than me.

How come when I write things it sounds like a kid wrote it? Or I wrote it for kids? Why aren't my sentences all beautiful and shit? Why don't impressive words come out of my fingers onto the screen? How come I'm a dumbass who can't write?

These are the questions I'm asking myself.

I'll be looking at a magazine online and thinking, "Hey, they might like my potato story!" (This is just an example. I didn't actually write a story about a potato civil war, although now I'm considering it.) And so I'll go to their archives and click on a random story and it will be all breathtaking. It happens every time. It never stops happening.

Just once I want to click on a story title and read

"Help me!" screamed Miranda as she jogged down the freeway, her large breasts bouncing. 
"No one is going to help you!" replied her attacker, subsequently attacking her.

I never see that. I always see the most beautiful shit. It's so frustrating. You have no idea.

Before the Internet, I had no way of knowing all those assholes were out there, writing shit and getting it put online and getting paid for it. And their bios are always like, "Priscilla Varnish-Hurdle has an MFA from Impressive University and a law degree from Columbia just for fun. She has published 4,205 stories in magazines that would impress the shit out of you if you were smart enough to know about them. She has three children who will have better lives because she is their mother. She has lots of progressive viewpoints and Amnesty International headquarters in her breakfast nook. Go to hell."

My bio says this:

Kristen Hatten has no degrees from anywhere. Once, when she was 20, she self-published a "chapbook" of her poetry, which is to say she decorated it with Microsoft clipart, printed it out thirty copies at Kinko's, bound them with staples, and handed them out for free on the street at the Deep Ellum Arts Fest in 1999. Most of the people she gave them to were Hare Krishnas, because she knew they were too nice to say no.

There is no point to this post. I'm just ranting into the void.

This is the part where I take a deep breath and say Fuck It.

(Does this.)

Okay. That's better.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Life Without Facebook, Week One

I gave up Facebook for Lent because I really didn't want to give up Facebook for Lent. The more I argued against it in my head, the more I knew I had to do it.

To a certain extent, Facebook has driven me into the loving arms of Pinterest. But Pinterest does not have the same social aspect as Facebook. I'm spending way more time in the real world.

I am not and was not a full-bore social media addict. I know people who only unplug to sleep. But I was spending too much time on it, and it was affecting me profoundly.

Like everyone else my age and older, I grew up without the Internet. It didn't enter my life until I was well into my teens, and even then, it wasn't anything like it is now. I was eighteen before I started "surfing," and that was on dial-up. You had to really, really want to click on something before you made the several minute commitment to loading a page. The instant gratification of point-click-result was still years away.

In college, my boyfriend's house was the hang-out spot. In the corner of the big converted garage where a large group of friends gathered almost daily, there was a desk with a computer on it. It featured Notepad and Solitaire, and that was it. You hardly ever saw anyone near it.

My friends and I hung out together and talked and laughed. We worked together in the theatre department, we put on plays, we had parties. We talked on the phone. We went to the park and goofed around. We watched movies on VHS. We played silly games outside. We sat on the porch when the weather was nice. We went to restaurants and bars.

We looked at each other, not at screens. We didn't know each other's usernames. We knew each other's faces.

This Wednesday on the Ben Ferguson Show (WBAP 820 AM), Ben was reading a study talking about the disconnect between parents and children due to the growing problem of parents overdosing on social media. I know it happens. I see it all the time. I watch some of my friends with their children, largely ignoring them except to capture their cuteness and put it on the Internet. They go through whole meals without making eye contact with anyone. I'm talking about men and women in their 30s, not kids.

I don't have children, and I don't expect that when I do I'll spend twenty-four hours a day giving them undivided attention and incessant eye contact. But I promise I won't be like the mothers I see who are almost constantly distracted by tiny screens.

I watch families and groups of friends meet in public to ignore each other. I watch couples spend whole meals barely looking up from cell phone screens.

I am guilty, too. I know I am. But I'm trying to stop.

Why? Well, because I'm less of a person because of my dependence on technology. And so are you. The constant click-result, click-result, click-result of the Internet has made us scattered, distracted, less able to focus, less apt to actually see what's in front of us. And the faux intimacy of social media is the Chinese food of human connection: it satisfies, in a shallow way, for a few minutes, but ultimately leaves us empty.

The results of our obsession with these things disgusts me. It scares me. It makes me sad for what we've lost.

Technology can be wonderful in so many ways. I love Pinterest. I love all the pretty crap, the DIYs, and the tips and tricks. The Internet is bursting with wonders. (And porn. But that's another post.) I love being able to learn about all kinds of things, watch videos, see photos, and connect with people.

But I have to constantly remind myself I'm not connecting with those people. Not really.

This week I started belly dancing again. I started doing yoga for the first time in several years. I started working on my novel again. I wrote two blog posts. I find myself less irritable, calmer, and more focused. I smile more. I'm more patient with people - traffic included. (And keep in mind this was PMS week, which makes it twice as amazing.)

In the interest of filling the Facebook void with real human interaction, I made a goal to meet up with at least one friend every weekend during Lent. Last weekend I failed, but not for lack of trying. Everybody was busy. But I'm not abandoning the goal.

The first couple days were hard. And even over a week later, I still think of a great status update several times a day. But all told, I don't miss it. I look forward to how much I will accomplish in the real world without the constant distraction, the endless (and fruitless) political arguments, the worrying and fretting about my online presence.

I don't think I'll quit Facebook permanently. Networking is too important when you're a writer and entertainer. But I feel social media's role in my life has drastically and permanently changed. And I couldn't be happier about it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chick 'n Dumps: Comfort Food For The Poor & Lazy

This is not my chick 'n dumps. I swiped this from the Internet. But mine look kinda like that.

This is a recipe for chicken 'n dumplins. It is delicious. But before I get there, a story:

I work at a live music venue. It's a relaxed atmosphere, and one of the many benefits of that (besides the fact that on most days I could literally wear pajamas to work) is that I can bring my dog, George, to the office with me.

George is 10-month-old pure bred field line English springer spaniel. He is adorable, affectionate, eager to please, friendly as hell, and possesses every other wonderful attribute of the breed. He also has more energy than Honey Boo Boo on go-go juice. All the time.

I'm getting to the recipe. Hang in there. 

Although I am morally opposed, as a human, to picking up the shit of animals, I do pick up his shit at work. Because I don't want to take advantage of my very understanding boss by allowing my dog to festoon the premises with his turds. So I keep a stash of plastic Wal-Mart bags in my truck, and I pick up shit with them. 

Well. Yesterday was a Monday. I arrived at work to several emails and lots of tasks that needed to be done, one after the other. Finally, at about 1:00, I had a moment to breathe, and I took George out to run and play.

I was sitting on a picnic table, texting my husband about something, when George ran up to me. He had been out of my line of sight for about thirty seconds. I assumed he was engaging in one of his favorite pasttimes, such as smelling things, or pissing on the entire world.

Anyway George ran up to me and I glanced down at him, sitting there looking like the most content being on the planet, huge smile on his face, tongue lolling, eyes half-closed, just smiling up at me with utter delight and peacefulness.

He was covered in shit.

Apparently I missed a crucial patch of semi-liquid feces. It was the color of most cars from the 1970s, and it was all. the fuck. over him.

My work day ended suddenly. I had to leash my stool-covered dog to something, go inside and email my boss ("George rolled around in his own shit," went my email. "Aren't kids great!" was his reply) and call my coworker to ask if he would bring me some towels from backstage.

I wiped off George with some wet wipes I keep in my truck, to get the worst off. When the savior with the towel rolled up on a golf cart, I was trying to take a dog-shaming photo of George. It didn't work. He was not smart enough to be ashamed. He was smiling in all the pictures.


George likes to move around a lot while riding in the truck. But I only had one small towel, and I was more determined that he was going to stay on that towel than I have ever been about anything. I think the ear drum-piercing volume of my screams convinced him to not move. 

It took two shampoos to un-shit the dog, at which point I needed a shower. Once all that was done, you know what I wanted? Comfort food.

Chicken 'n dumplins, yo.

I found this recipe online somewhere but I can't remember where so I can't give credit for it. Anyway it'll be more fun to read it here.

The below recipe is for a single batch. I doubled it last night and holy shit it made a lot of chick 'n dumps. But I had to use two pots at one point. Shit got messy. But I prevailed.

A note: this is not a healthy recipe. It is literally bursting with flour. It is a glutinous mass of carbs.

Seeing as how it's incredibly unhealthy, it is also (duh) super cheap. I estimate the whole pot cost about $8 - 10 and fed four people two to four meals each.


Chronicles of Radness Chick 'n Dumps

Ingrediments (not a typo)

3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken jugs (I hate the word breasts)
1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits
Some flour (Like a cup maybe?)
Some milk (Half a cup, I guess? What am I, a scientist?)
1/2 to a whole stick of butter
Basil, thyme, parsley flakes, salt and pepper


Take your chicken hooters and rinse the chicken slime off them and put them in a big ass pot. Cover with water by a couple inches and add some spices. Don't get all technical about how much. Just put that shizzz in there, and boil them jugs until they are done all the way through.

While your chicken cans are cooking, pop open a can of Pillsbury biscuits (you can use whatever but I like buttermilk Grands). Take each biscuit, flatten it a little in your hands, and tear it into 6 or 8 pieces. Dip each piece in flour just to coat.

Take your chicken jugs out of the water and put em on a plate.

Put your floured biscuits in the chicken water.Turn the boil down to about half.

Meanwhile shred or cut up your chicken, whatever you prefer.

Once your dumps aren't doughy in the middle anymore (about 15 minutes?) put the shredded chick in with the dumps.

Now the recipe calls for a can of cream of chicken soup but I didn't have any so I just took some of the liquid out of the pot and whisked it in a bowl with some flour and milk and a little butter. Then I put it back in the pot (and added the rest of a stick of butter because BUTTER). It thickened up and gave a nice flavor without the MSG grossness of the canned crap.

(Add more flour if you want it thicker, but keep in mind it sets further overnight so the next day it will be even thicker.)

Usually I add a bit more spices at this point. To me it's good with lots of pepper.

Let it all simmer for about 15 minutes. Then eat it.

This is more of a gravy chick 'n dumps than a soupy one. It comes out hearty and rich and with that belly-warming comfort food goodness.

Total Time: 45 - 60 minutes
Hands-On: 15 - 20

Monday, March 3, 2014

Henna Is For Winners

Photo courtesy of "Meredith" and

I started dyeing my hair with chemicals when I was 13 years old. I wanted red hair even then, and with the help of Miss Clairol, I got it.

I'm not saying God makes mistakes; I'm just saying maybe if He'd thought about it a little longer, He would have realized I was supposed to be a redhead. I'm fair-skinned, I have freckles and blue-green eyes, I love Tori Amos... It's a duh.

My hair has been every shade of brown from my natural mousy dishwater to deep brunette. It's been blue-black and platinum blonde. It's even been, for a brief summer in Austin, green with purple stripes. (Gawd.) But I always go back to red.

When I was younger, my hair was my crowning glory, but autoimmune thyroid disorder and hormone imbalances caused most of it to fall out. Where it was once so thick you could barely get a ponytail holder around it, I now have to worry about my scalp showing in the front.

For a while I tried super light blonde, thinking the color would blend with my skin and look thicker. But the bleach thinned my hair further. Ammonia was no better. By the time I said goodbye to platinum, my hair was fragile and ruined.

That's me with super light blonde hair. With fellow New Wave Feminists, Julie and Destiny at the Dallas March for Life in... 2010?

I chopped it off and went back to deposit-only color. I swore off lifting for good. But even still I was putting synthetic chemicals on my hair, and it was staying delicate, thin, and frizzy. I couldn't get it to grow long. Before it reached my shoulders, the ends would start to split and break.

Then I discovered henna.

My hair is down to my shoulders for the first time in several years. It's thicker than I can remember it being since my early 20s. It's shiny and heavy and rough, like healthy hair should be. I may even be able to - knock on wood - grow it long again.

I have henna to thank. It acts like a conditioning protein pack on your hair, so when you rinse it out and dry it, you can pull a single strand of hair and see its increased thickness and gloss with the naked eye.

Some of you hear "henna" and think of the boxed stuff that comes in different colors. That is not pure, natural henna. That's compound henna, and it is bullshit. It's been mixed with metallic salts and other grody chemicals.

When you say "henna" to a stylist, that's the first thing they think of, and they tend to freak out and warn you away from it - with good reason. Used over chemically treated hair, it can turn your hair green or even melt it off.

Most stylists deal in chemical colors, and know jack shit about natural henna. So you may have to politely say, "We're talking about two different things," and explain what you mean. If the stylist is a nice person, they'll be like, "Oh, ok." If they're an asshole, like a couple I've encountered, they'll try to explain to you that I AM THE EXPERT and I KNOW ABOUT HENNA and IT WILL MELT YOUR HAIR OFF and a bunch of other bullshit.

To those jerks, you have to say, "Look, I don't know your stupid life, but I know henna."

And you will know henna, because I'm fidna edjamacate you.

This photo swiped without permission from a long hair forum. A lot of people use henna to help grow their hair long because it makes it strong and healthy.

When I refer to henna in this article, I'm talking about pure, natural body art quality (BAQ) henna. BAQ is the highest quality henna you can buy. It is separated from the ho-hum henna due to its high dye content. The leaves are dried and pulverized into a fine powder designed to make the lovely paste needed for mendhi, or temporary henna tattoos.

(Note to self: Ho-Hum Henna = band name.)

For the same reasons it's good for body art - high dye content, fine sift - it's excellent for hair. The fine powder makes a luxurious paste that's easier to push through hair and coat every strand. And the high dye content means a richer red hue.

BAQ henna ranges from about 1% to 4% lawsone. That's the name of the dye in the henna, or lawsonia inermis, plant.

I'll refer you here to get more information on the history and science of henna. This site is run by a bona fide henna expert, and it is an excellent resource for all your henna questions and needs. Suffice it to say, the women of the Middle East and North Africa have been using natural henna to dye their hair (and sometimes their fingertips and the soles of their feet) for at least five thousand years. It may have been used as far back as eight thousand years ago in Jericho.

In some places, henna is still a part of a woman's public bath ritual, involving soaks and massages and gossip and entertainment and food. It's sort of an all day conditioning treatment for the hair and scalp, with the added bonus of dyeing your hair a beautiful, rich color.

When I think of henna, I think of the quality described in Ayurveda as shakti. Shakti is hard to define, but the best way to explain it in English is earthly, womanly energy. It's feminine, creative, and fertile. It's "earth mama" energy, but not in a fussy, political way.

You may know women who naturally seem to have shakti moving through them. I think of my friend Michaela and my uncle's new bride, Holland. They have an effortless, earthy femininity, a comfort in their own skin, a womanly warmth.

"Shiva and Shakti" by Jennifer Michelle Long

When I think of shakti, I think of a big, lovely woman laughing and nursing a baby in the sunshine by a river. I also think of the luxurious, ancient, and feminine act of treating your hair with henna.

I buy my henna from a shop called Mehandi because it's the only place I've found that sends their henna to an independent lab to certify its dye content and purity. All their henna is pesticide-free, lead-free, and BAQ.

At this time, they're selling a product called Ancient Sunrise. I buy Rajasthani Monsoon, an Indian henna with 1.4% lawsone content henna. The Twilight product is 2.4% and intended for gray and light hair. The higher dye content on my light brown hair might tint it a little darker than I'd like, so I opt for the slightly lower lawsone content.

I've put together this post and a little instructional pictorial so you can watch me go through the process. Admittedly, it's a time-consuming affair, but not as labor intensive as you might think.

I'm doing this to help demystify henna. I like to think of myself as an unofficial ambassador for this amazing plant that has helped restore my hair to some of its former glory - and made me at least look like a natural redhead.

At the height of orientalism - and the henna craze - a European woman admires her hennaed hair.

Before I get to the photos and instructions, here is a brief summary of henna's benefits - and what some may find to be drawbacks.

+ It's great for your hair! You can use it every few weeks if you want. It makes your hair shiny, thick, and healthy. It's great for African hair, giving it a dark auburn tint and relaxing the curl somewhat. But keep in mind, the more you henna over already henna-treated hair, the darker it gets. (See drawbacks, below.)

+ It doesn't fade! Especially for those who dye their hair red, this is a huge benefit. Ever in search of that elusive bright red that only lasts through her first few shampoos, the wanna-be redhead keeps dyeing her hair more and more often, leaving her hair more and more damaged. Henna doesn't fade. Dye it once, and you're a redhead forever. All you need to do is touch up your roots. (Which is kind of tricky. See drawbacks, below.)

+ It's cheap! It cost me $23 for two 100g packets, taxed and shipped, to dye my shoulder-length hair. This is probably twice the price of box color, but box color is hell on your hair. And it's significantly less than even a cheap salon treatment - which is also hell on your hair.

+ It's safe to use while pregnant! In fact, it's safe to dye your kid's hair with it, if you're into that.

+ The color is beautiful! The lawsone dye molecule binds with the keratin in your hair, and the dye is transparent, so it blends with your natural color instead of covering it. Because of this, it looks natural. When you stand in the sunlight, your hair will shimmer and glow as the light reflects off each individual strand. Henna on very light or grey hair will be bright copper or red, depending on the dye content and your personal hair. Light brown hair will be auburn, and dark brown or black hair will have a dark auburn stain that's especially visible in sunlight.

Henna on grey hair is magic.

Now for the drawbacks.

- It never fades. I know I mentioned this as a plus before, and it is - if you know for sure you want to stay a redhead. If you aren't sure, henna might not be right for you.

- It can't lighten your hair. Henna will make your hair darker, not lighter. If you already have dark hair and want to go a lighter shade of red, henna is not for you.

- It's messy. Mixing, preparing, applying, and rinsing out henna is a messy process. You'll need to wear gloves and be ready to quickly wipe off any excess. Henna will stain your skin, and if it's left on long enough, the stain could last for weeks. (DO NOT dye without gloves. You will have orange hands for months.)

- It's time-consuming. If you're looking for a dye process that takes two hours, look elsewhere. Henna takes up to 12 hours to develop at room temperature, several hours to dye your hair, and more than a couple minutes to rinse out. Fortunately, most of that time can be spent sleeping or hanging out. The actual labor intensive parts are fairly brief.

- It gets darker with each application. Layering henna over henna is great for your hair - but it will darken your color. Many long-time henna users apply the paste only to their roots, and use a henna "gloss" for the length. A gloss is basically a small amount of henna paste mixed with a deep conditioner and applied to hair for a short time. This way, you get many of the benefits of henna without so much dye.

- The color results are unpredictable. Because henna is a transparent dye and does not coat your hair, you can't predict the results. It varies with each individual person, and even each individual hair. For some people - like me - this is exciting. For others, it's scary. Personally, I have found you can't trust the photos on box color or those little loops of hair at the salon, anyway. So in my opinion it's not terribly different.

- It takes a few days for your final color to appear. Henna-dyed hair has to oxidize, like a cut apple turning brown over a few days. You may find your hair is very bright or brassy just after dyeing. Don't panic! The color will get deeper, darker, and richer over 3-4 days. Again - this bugs some people, and others - like me - find it part of the fun.

- It relaxes curl. This is a maybe. I haven't noticed a big difference in mine, but some people do.

Alright, that's enough jabber. Picture time!

Here's the henna powder in a bowl. What you're looking at is dried, crushed leaves, nothing more. The powder comes in 100g packets. At the time I purchased, Rajasthani Monsoon was $7.49 for 100g. I bought two, and it was more than enough to dye my shoulder-length hair.

This is what it's like when you start adding lemon juice. It's very, very fine, so it takes a lot of liquid, and you have to blend carefully to make sure no dry pockets are hiding out.

Henna has to be mixed with a slightly acidic liquid to get the dye to release. You can use orange juice or a mildly acidic herbal tea if lemon is too harsh for you. I used a mixture of fresh lemon juice (since I didn't have any bottled) and distilled water. Tap water is not recommended because it can contain a high mineral or chemical content.

Keep adding liquid until your paste is about the consistency of mashed potatoes. A lot of people say it smells like hay, but to me it smells exactly like seaweed. Henna always makes me hungry for sushi. You can mix cinnamon into the paste if you don't like the smell.

If you put it somewhere really warm - like 95 Fahrenheit - your henna will be ready in a couple hours. I put mine in my husband's truck where it was warm because I was gonna try to dye that night, but I finally gave up on that idea and decided to do it in the morning. I left the henna out in the truck all night, and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees (thanks, Texas) so it was super cold. But it was out there for like 15 hours, so it was fine.

At room temp, henna will be ready in 12 hours.

So I went to sleep, and when I woke up I retrieved my cold-ass henna from the truck. Then I proceeded to add more liquid until it was the consistency of Greek yogurt.

Check that shit out. That is glorious. It will smell very seaweedish now.

That is a lemon seed. It's hard to tell but it was dyed orange.

I made this photo extra-big so you can see how the fine powder makes a rich and luxurious paste.

You can also see how concerned my four-year-old niece is that I'm going to put that in my hair. She said "why?" a lot.

We also had this exchange:

Ana: Is that dirt? Or chocolate? (smiles hopefully)

Me: Neither. It's leaves that were dried up and smashed into a powder and mixed with water.


Ana: But is it dirt or chocolate?

So she wasn't too keen on it, but she did want to stir it.

Use nitrile gloves if you can. I stole a couple pairs from my husband, who uses them for gun cleaning. They don't stick as bad as latex so they're more comfortable.

Okay so this is the part where I failed. I DID NOT take photos of the application. I know. I'm an idiot. But I just forgot. And here's the worst part - I took off the plastic wrap and added more henna and FORGOT AGAIN. I failed TWICE.

I'm sorry.

Luckily the Henna for Hair webpage is chock-full of photos. Their e-book is especially good for step-by-step instructions.

Anyway here's me all wrapped up.

Forgive the total lack of makeup. Jeez.

So a few notes on the application:

* It's a good idea to do an allergy test before you slop this stuff all over you. I've seen very little mention of henna allergies so it's probably not very common, but you never know. Put some of the paste on your skin for a few minutes - somewhere the stain will be hidden by clothing, preferably - and wipe it off. Then wait an hour or so. If your skin doesn't itch or blister, you should be good to go. Please note: your skin WILL turn orange. That's not an allergy. That's henna doing its job.

* Do NOT use a tint brush to apply this to your hair. Henna is too thick. Use your (gloved) hands. Don't be a wuss.

* It is not slippery or runny like hair dye so it will not drip through your hair. You have to push it into your hair to make sure all strands are coated. It really is a lot like mud.

* Henna is very cool to the touch - again, like mud. Applying it to your head is cooling and relaxing and can even relieve headaches. When you're done, your head will feel heavy and you'll probably want to sleep. Great idea! Just put a towel over your pillow.

* It helps to hand someone a pair of gloves and have them check the back for you. Tell them to really dig in there and make sure there are no dry spots concealed within.

* If you have a devoted helper, have them massage the henna into your scalp. You'll probably fall asleep.

* DON'T BE STINGY with your henna. Use a LOT. The more you use, the richer the dye and the greater the benefits to your hair.

* Don't leave the paste too thick. Get it to yogurt consistency so it will stay moist as it dyes.

* Separate your hair into sections before you start. It's easiest to start at the back of your head and work your way up. Begin at the roots and really push the paste into your roots and scalp. Massage it around to make sure it's in there good. Then begin to apply the paste thickly along the length of your hair.

* If you have a lot of hair, find a helper.

After I had put about half the henna on my hair and felt it was covered, I wrapped my head up in plastic wrap. The plastic locks in heat and moisture, which is a good thing. Then I sat there and looked at the leftover paste and felt really terrible about throwing it away. At this time, I did not yet know you could freeze paste for up to a year. (D'oh!) So I unwrapped and added more henna, especially to the edges where it tends to dry out.

Then I took a nap.

I left my henna in for about eight hours. When I rinsed it out and let it air-dry, it looked like this:

Keep in mind I have naturally curly hair and did not straighten it with a blow dryer or flat iron. I just brushed it out. So there's gonna be a bit of frizz.

As you can see my hair is shiny, auburn, and looks kind of thick. Bully for me!

Oh by the way, none of these photos are edited in any way. They were all taken with an iPhone. I am in a bathrobe with no makeup on. Because I care.

Here it is from the back, in lower light and from above, because my husband is taller than me:

And a final close-up:

This was taken the morning after dyeing. As I write this the color is already richer, deeper, and darker than yesterday.

If you're the slightest bit intrigued by henna, I can't encourage you enough to visit It's not the most modern website design, but surf around and you'll find all the information you could possibly need.

And if you're interested in the benefits of dyeing your hair with plants instead of synthetic chemicals, but red hair isn't right for you, start here for information on cassia, indigo, and amla.

Happy dyeing!