Monthly Archives: October 2009

Email to my Senators

I am appalled and disgusted that you voted against Senator Al Frankin’s bill to allow people to sue government contractors in the event of their rape.

This email is the first of its kind that I’ve ever sent to a government official and this email marks the promise I make that during the next election season I plan to support your challenger both vocally and monetarily.

I know Stephen has a longer political post coming over the weekend but I couldn’t not post this email that I just sent to Alabama Senators Shelby and Sessions as I am literally shaking with rage. I guess this day marks the start of my political activism. Scary thought, I know.

Liza Loves Bugs; Eli Loves Puzzles

Liza still loves her some bugs. These days she has her pick of them, as we’ve had so much rain that beetles and cockroaches have fled indoors to escape it. More fools they, as that puts them at Liza’s mercy. Liza finds them, picks them up, and carries them around by one of their teeny legs. She’s like a giant toddler God to these bugs. When she’s done playing with them she lets them run away, so I can only imagine the religion that has sprung up around these events.

“The God lifted me high into the air, and I heard peals of laughter like thunder!”

“You failed to sacrifice a bread crumb to Her yesterday! Be glad She did not crush your pitiable carapace!”

She found one in the kitchen this morning. All the way from our bathroom I could hear her yelling, “Buggy is running! He’s hiding from me! Come out, buggy! Come out!” A few minutes later she wandered into the bathroom. The beetle she’d found waved its legs feebly, trying desperately to pull one leg out of Liza’s grasp.

“This is buggy! He says hi!” Then she said, in a voice even more high pitched than normal, “Hi, daddy! I want to watch a show!” “Buggy wants to watch a show! He likes Dora!” she added in her normal tone of voice.

“How lucky he likes the same shows you do,” I told her.

Eli, meanwhile, is obsessed with escape-the-room games. He’s grown bored of Kingdom Hearts II: The Cut-Sceneing, so I’ve turned to free online Flash games to occupy him at night. He enjoyed titles like Little Wheel, but it’s the escape-the-room games that have captured his heart. He can’t really help with them, but he loves seeing me struggle to find the hotspots that, when clicked, will show a lever that, when pulled, reveals a substitution cipher that I then must solve.

In playing these games, I’ve filled sheet after sheet of paper with codes, ciphers, and doodlings. The other night he came up to me and said, “I have a piece of paper here. It needs to have codes on it.” So off we trundled to Jay is Games to find an escape-the-room game that wouldn’t frustrate me too much. I’m afraid if I get too stressed out I’ll only be able to calm myself by stepping on all of Liza’s bugs and hearing them pop like bubble wrap.

FlashForward Eschatology

FlashForward is a new ABC show about what happens when everyone on Earth passes out for about two minutes and sees a vision of what they’ll be doing in six months. The show is most concerned with What It All Means — why did everyone get a glimpse of their future? and is that future fixed? — but I was struck by the aftershocks of the event. Since people lose consciousness, there are all kinds of terrible accidents, from drivers having wrecks to pilots augering in their 757s during landing. Days later, buildings still smolder where they were struck by news helicopters. Children re-enact the event, asking each other, “What did you see this time? What did you see?” An FBI Assistant Director eulogizes the agents who died. One character on a nearly-empty aircraft sits next to an airline exec who is there to reassure the public that flying is safe again, the punchline being that the exec is scared shitless.

While these are only minor events in the storyline, they help make the show seem more real. Watching them, I found myself thinking, this is what Left Behind should have looked like.

Left Behind tells the story of what happens when God raptures — that is, kills off and snatches away — all of the “real” Christians and also all babies and young children. It was a runaway best-seller. It was also a terrible book, both in theology and in construction. Over at Slacktivist, Fred Clark’s exegesis of the series has been running since October 2003, and it’s taking him so long to catalog all of the series’ sins that, six years later, he’s only 100 pages into book two.

FlashForward shows how shoddy the worldbuilding in Left Behind is. In FlashForward, everyone wants to know what happened. In Left Behind, they’re so incurious that they don’t even think to search the clothes of the raptured to see if, I don’t know, they’ve been turned into red dust or shrunk down or something. The book mentions wrecked planes and choked cab lines, but a day later everything seems back to normal and the planes are flying on time.

Let’s do a couple of back-of-the-envelope calculations. The Fifth National Survey of Religion and Politics pegs the U.S.’s traditional evangelical protestant population at 10%. Assume a third of that 10% agreed with LaHaye and Jenkins’s outlook and thus were raptured. The U.S. population is about 300,000,000 people, which means 10 million people in the U.S. vanished at once. The equivalent of the entire Chicago metro area is gone. Never mind the cabs, think of the chaos on streets and interstates across the country. If one in ten of those True Christians is in a car at the time, you’ve got the potential for 100,000 simultaneous wrecks. That’s nearly two months worth of U.S. auto wrecks compressed into one minute. How long would it take to clear them away?

And what about hospitals? You’ve got expectant mothers whose babies vanished as they were giving birth. What’s that going to do to the doctors and nurses who weren’t also raptured? What kind of post-traumatic stress will labor and delivery staff have? Oh, and were any of the True Christian doctors operating at the time, leaving a patient to die?

Meanwhile, all over the world, parents called out for their kids and got no response. Kindergarten teachers were suddenly facing empty classrooms. Nannies on the Upper East Side, hearing the panic spreading through New York City, looked into the strollers they were pushing and began freaking out about losing their charges.

What happens the day after everyone is raptured? When there’s no need for daycares any more? When pediatricians have no reason to go to work? When firefighters and policeman may have a literally decimated force at a time when every single one of them is needed? Left Behind has answers for none of these. In fact, it doesn’t even ask the questions.

FlashForward has a leg up on Left Behind. It’s based on a science fiction book by Robert Sawyer, and while Sawyer may not be that good at creating believable characters, he’s got that old-school SF love of delving into the consequences of unexpected events. LaHaye, meanwhile, is a minister; Jenkins, the writer of the two, churns out formulaic children’s books, mysteries, and comic strips. Neither of them seem interested in anything beyond beating their polemical views into readers’ heads. Their science fiction begins and ends with their Biblical prophesies, which they assembled from disparate scraps of the Bible like a ransom note from newspapers.

When you think about it, the Rapture as described in Left Behind would be a terrible, bone-chilling event. The ramifications are huge. Yet Left Behind doesn’t pause to acknowledge it. When your novel can’t even match the tiny amounts of worldbuilding that can be squeezed into a 42-minute TV show, you’re doing it wrong.

Birthday Week was a WIN! Do I have to wait a year for another?

There are not enough words to describe the awesomeness of my trip to Atlanta to see U2 and visit with friends. The show was full of awesome. A friend of a friend said that Bono was the best worship leader that she’d ever had and I’ll have to second that. I think the show was specially tailored to show off their “We’re all about that love and peace business.” side. Here’s the set list:
Put on Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stand By Me
Stuck in the Moment (acoustic)
No Line on the Horizon
End of the World
The Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight (very wacky remix)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On
Amazing Grace
Where the Streets Have No Name
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

I loved every minute of the show but I was/am a bit taken aback that my favorite song of the show was “Ultraviolet.” It’s never been a particular favorite of mine but the song combined with the light show and the smoke was really eerie, interesting and moving. My other highlights of the show was Danielle nearly pinching my arm off during the remix of “Crazy Tonight” and her leaning over to tell me that the name of the song “MLK” was “MLK” and then my reply that I knew that because I’ve been singing it to my children at bedtime for the past five years and then the lady behind me giving me a funny look because of it. And the dancing and the screaming of the “Woo!” There was much “Woo!” screaming. I had a blast.

Danielle and Kat and I also visit Ikea on Tuesday where I proceeded to buy the place out. I love me some Ikea. If my house ever burns down and I have to start over from scratch, I’m doing everything in Ikea because it’s so cool.

While Mom was here this past weekend, we redid Liza’s room with some of Ikea purchases. She’s now in the big girl bed and doing really well with it.
DORA! (and Liza!)
More pictures to come once we get the new light fixture hung.

I also got a ton of books as birthday gifts:
Crafty Book Stash
All of them are awesome! Thanks to everyone who bought me a new book! It’s gonna take me a while to get through them all but I’m so excited about each and every one. The bonus awesome goes to Fahmida for the book she made of our trip to Japan. It’s made me so homesick to go back.

And lastly, if you’ve made it this far you deserve a cute kid photo:
Hiding in the shower
They thought they were hiding in the shower. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that if they are shrieking at the top of their lungs, they are pretty easy to find.

Running Man

I’m working on a post comparing the TV show FlashForward to the Left Behind series, but it’s taking a while. To keep you entertained in the meantime, I give you Canabalt. It’s a minimalist game created for the Experimental Gameplay Project, whose theme in August was “Bare Minimum”. You play a man running to escape a city being destroyed by giant robots. There’s only one button: jump. There’s only six colors.

I can’t stop playing it.

In the last few weeks Eli and I have been playing a lot of Flash-based games in the evening. I’ll have to see what he thinks of this one.

Misty Says “Woo!” Again

It’s a light posting week for us, seeing as how Misty’s gone to Atlanta to say “Woo!” at U2 in the Georgia Dome. I’m taking care of Eli and Liza, which is fun right up to the point when it isn’t any more. Given that Eli is living up to his reputation of petri dish for diseases of the under-six set and has brought home a cold, I won’t really have time to post.

Of course, having said that, prepare for another Hobbit 419 or something.

Craft Update

Dragon has a head!
I started this Teresa Wentzler before Liza was born. I stopped to cross stitch something for Liza’s room and then just never picked this piece back up. After I finished the lighthouses, I asked the Craft Night Ladies what I should work on next and they all unanimously said, “THAT!” when I showed it to them. I’ve nearly got the main panel completed and will start on the border for it and then there’s another huge section of text and more border after that. I don’t see it being completed anytime soon and I’m likely to put it down and work on something else for a while to take a break. But for now it’s pretty satisfying.

Big Flowers
This past summer I started an art journal and I’ve worked in it as I’ve had ideas and wanted to try different things. This is my latest page from this week. I always think the one I just finished is my favorite and this one is no exception. I’m sure I’ll love the next one just as much.

Tiny Party Animals
I bought new lampshades because the old ones were so bent and mangled that it was starting to be embarrassing. I was just going to throw the old shades away but decided to see what the kids would do if I let them play. They spent a solid 30 minutes walking around like this and all they did was cackle like fiends and run into things. And I wonder how the lampshades got bent in the first place?

I traded my friend Janelle a notebook for these awesome slippers. Liza walks around saying, “Oink!” endlessly.

Speaking of notebooks, I have 12 to the point where I can take photos and start posting them. I’m hoping to get that done this week after I return from Atlanta and seeing U2.

Yeah, I said it. U2 for my birthday.

It’s the second time I’ve gotten to see U2 and both times it’s been in October. So I’m a lucky girl. Doubly lucky because Stephen is taking off of work to stay home with the kids while I go hang out with friends and go to the concert. I’ll have much to post about when I get back.