Thursday, January 29, 2009

"The Jesus Dynasty"

(the Hidden History of Jesus, his Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity)
-by james d. tabor

2006
This stunning book is the only one i've ever read about jesus which has no agenda other than truth.
I know, i know...is there anyone who LESS needs another book? But few would deny jesus' power as social critic, and this is the book that makes sense of all the oddities. It will make you go "ohhh" and "ahhh" and "NOW it makes sense", over and over.
Tabor, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte, offers a penetrating analysis of 1st century and early christian documents alongside recent archaeological discoveries, separating mythology from man. Don't read this if you need your dogma, but if you go in with an open mind, you might walk away feeling great that you ever liked jesus in the first place. The biggest difference is that his kingdom was not in heaven, but here. He was an intensely devout jew who saw himself as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, an heir to the throne of Israel who would rule side by side with his older cousin john the baptist as high priest. Jesus was not above john, despite the Bible's bending over backwards to deny or downplay the significance of john's baptizing jesus. In ancient jewish hierarchy the high priest was as important as the king, and in life jesus followed the lead of his cousin. The book brings jesus' family to life, shining light on his likely father and "resurrecting" his brothers, whose importance in the early christian movement has been buried. After jesus' death the movement was led by his brother james for thirty-two years, before he was stoned to death by the jewish priesthood. Then his brother simon led for forty-four years, before being crucified by the romans. Jesus would be horrified by modern christianity, but not for the obvious reasons. He was a reformer, not a revolutionary, and it was the purity of his jewish faith that may have cost him his life. The book brings mary magdalane into light as a leader and jesus' likely wife, while exposing paul as someone jesus wouldn't have liked.
Tabor's book is simply one of the most impressive pieces of historical detective work you'll ever find. Even if you have no interest in religion, it will knock your socks off.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Star Trek: Nemesis"

2002
-directed by stuart baird
I find this movie to be at once better than its reputation, yet also achingly disappointing. The pre-release P.R. centered on whether this would be the final film for the NEXT GEN cast. The tagline, "a generation's final journey", summed up the attitude of the studio (not that they wouldn't have backtracked had the film exceeded expectations, of course). The story was dark and compelling, though perhaps too literally dark? Were they trying to save money on the electric bill? Of course the reman ship would be dark, but why was Enterprise lit so dimly? The acting and visuals were fantastic, and the john logan dialogue lovely. But there are holes in the pacing/editing, and in the credibility of character motivation. The remans are touted as devastating warriors, yet they constantly yield ground in the face of underwhelming odds (you can almost hear graham chapman shouting "Run away, run away!!"). There are battle gaps when the Enterprise crew doesn't act like they're under attack, and when you can't understand why shinzon isn't pressing his advantage. The mano a mano fight between riker and the viceroy (played by the never-disappointing ron perlman), is rather contrived. WHY does the viceroy suddenly slide down that chute? Tom hardy's shinzon is everything you could want a villain to be, capable of dancing cheek-to-cheek with stewart. Dina meyer is tee-riffic as donatra, and one hopes for more of her in the future. The death of data (which is understandable from the standpoint of brent not much longer being able to credibly play a non-aging android) is the film's gaping clanker of an embarrassingly wrong-headed decision. And that has nothing to do with sentimentality. At the end of the film, when picard and data realize that only one of them can be saved, data sacrifices himself. The infinitely more powerful choice would have been for picard to give up his life. It would have made the film much more stunning, and i HAVE to believe that the weenies in berman's office considered it (i would LOVE to know which voice advocating for picard's death got shouted down...it doesn't look like the truth will be easily forthcoming, as the berman and baird commentaries are contradictory). But even though they knew the film was probably the last for the cast, they couldn't bear to shut down future options. They had greatness in their grasp and they went chickenshit, so they have no one but themselves to blame for disappointing box office returns. They even had to chicken-shitly handle data's death, leaving open an obvious resurrection with his memories downloaded into b4. I'm sorry, that's just too painfully transparent a recycle of the built-in escape clause for spock's death in KHAN. You only get to pull that rabbit out of your ass once. The film resonates with the values of duty, family, and sacrifice. What more amazing full-circle choice could have been made, going back to when picard fought for data's right to be recognized as more than a machine, than to give up his life for his android friend? And what more truly powerful end to a generation's journey? Besides, if the clamor for another NEXT GEN film got to be too irresistible, how hard would it have been for q to...well, you know...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

cave-in

(Search and rescue workers cut their way into a subway car which was trapped and partially crushed in a cave-in one week earlier, under thousands of tons of debris. They find four corpses killed in the initial collapse, and one corpse dead of asphyxiation. Next to the fifth corpse, a letter is found.)
My love,
I am alone. After the cave-in, it took Shin many hours to die, but he was conscious the entire time. I don't know whether you would like him...of course, i don't even know whether you would like me. But as the hours go by, and the air gets heavier, i think only of you and Shin. I wish i could think only of you. I learned about his good son and his rebellious daughter. He wished he'd been able to tell his daughter of his own youth...he told me a story about an ox and the mayor's watch i promised i would never tell anyone. He told me things he never told his own wife. His last hour was the worst. When he finally died, i could only be relieved.
I look at my own life, and how free and evolved i fancy myself...yet i know now that i am no different from this man who nobody knew.
Because of you.
For almost an entire year, i have watched you. One or two times, i have tried to smile at you. But every day, i have carried you inside me, in this tiny place of the quietest, gentlest love. I have seen things that no one else sees, how every day at lunch you go into the pet store, even when it rains. I noticed you change day by day when you and your idiot boyfriend were breaking up. People say you're over him, but you're not.
When you talked about how terrible you are with kids, i dreamed of staying home to take care of our children.
The thing i love most about you is your sneeze. You don't apologize for your sneeze. You sneeze and say "boopsie".
And now i'm the biggest fool who ever lived, because i'll never know why you said "boopsie".
People sometimes laughed at me for carrying around my pack all the time...but in the end i was right...the batteries on my mini-Maglite are dimming, but i can write to you...the funny part is that you may even read this. If you are, please smile. Please. Nothing else in the world is so beautiful.
Head hurts...
I have dreamed everything about you...how i would kiss and lick you, like i never have before...a system of unspoken signals...when we made love and you wanted another child, you would tap my shoulder...
I would never try to own you...
I am silly...
Should i have killed Shin? He was dying...all the oxygen he was using...if i could live twice as long, maybe...
Maybe...
Hard breathi...
I lov yo u

Sunday, January 18, 2009

tears actually

LOVE ACTUALLY
2003, directed by Richard Curtis

I cried thrice in the past twenty-four hours, all while watching the movie LOVE ACTUALLY. It's such a gentle miracle, crying, and i wonder whether i'll ever do so as much as i'd like. I've come a long way from my boys-don't-cry childhood, but i still only cry once a month or less.
LOVE ACTUALLY, from the creators of NOTTING HILL and ABOUT A BOY, is wonderful. I've never seen a movie that was so happy and life-affirming you nearly forget that some characters don't find the love they need. We humans muddle about, disappointing and hurting one another...but this movie reminds you that once in a while we get something right, and also that even in the happiest moments of our lives, there's an undercurrent of yearning, that love might wrap us up, and never ever leave. Today's tears were while watching the deleted scenes, and an hour or so later, a feature on the movie's music (it's all wonderful, none more so than Joni Mitchell's re-recording of "Both Sides Now"...the wisdom and sadness she precociously penned in her twenties are given heart-rending texture some thirty years later). Not only should everyone add this movie to their holiday traditions, everyone should pester Universal to release a deluxe dvd, with an alternate full "deleted scenes" version. The cut scenes are often better than ones kept in. The commentary is delightful too, and rather singularly funny in that it begins without actor Hugh Grant, who is stuck in NY traffic.
My tears remind me of the one other time i cried this week, while listening to a song and realizing that this past year there have been two songs which have made me cry, Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter", and Don Henley's "Annabel". The one or two of you out there who know both songs will get a little insight into my personality this wounded, yearning year.
I actually love....all of you.
postscript: Watching the film two years later, my eyes still mist...but a part of that is sadness over how this movie reflects the pain we inflict on ourselves in the name of monogamy. The jealousy, betrayal, and denial of beautiful desire...we put ourselves through agonizing spiritual contortions, trying to fit ourselves into a paradigm that is contrary to our nature. Perhaps this film offers tiny baby steps into a more enlightened future. One of the beautifully portrayed love connections shows marriage as a ticket to pain and loneliness, and another celebrates love itself, free of sexuality.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Secrets of a Supersexpert"

-by Tracey Cox
2008
The best thing i can say about this book is that i would recommend it to a child of mine. Happily my own hypothetical progeny will grow up in the most loving, unrepressed household around, but there are many sons and daughters (and mothers and fathers and orphans and bachelors and widowers and grandmamas) who should have this book, a guide to all things sexual. Not just a physical how-to, but also psychological, and a study of what we know about how our sex drives work. Tracey doesn't sentimentalize the fact that when it comes to attraction and love, the idea that we are in control is ridiculous. We are all of us love-seeking biological machines, and the chemicals produced during infatuation are the same ones triggered when a drug addict gets a fix. Infatuation leads to bonding which leads to falling in love, and the most fascinating thing i learned is that the chemicals we produce when we fall in love are directly contrary to the chemicals that make for sexual excitement and pleasure. Our bodies want to fall in love, but then our infatuation chemicals want to run out and play again with someone new. Not a ringing endorsement for Judeo-Christian values. But much space is devoted to "jump-starting" sexual attraction in mated couples.
I like Tracey. Not all the time, but enough to think that she'd be good company. There are a couple moments when she comes off as a recovering cheerleader, but many more when she just seems like good people. I love how she calls Mars/Venus psychology nonsense, explaining that differences between men and women are insignificant compared to how alike we are. I don't like how she advocates the "virgin-whore" mentality, encouraging women to be demure in public but eager sluts behind doors...this taps into our society's sexual repression, which should be attacked, not acquiesced to. It's precisely because we're so repressed that we have so many problems in the bedroom. Maybe she ignores that point because without our repression, most sex therapists will be out of a job.
I suppose the biggest test of a book's greatness is whether it changes your life...and i don't think i'll ever again deal with a woman saying "i've never had an orgasm", in quite the same way.
Tracey spends a lot of time on the nuts and bolts of navigating sexual communication and dealing with physical problems that "arise" (for example, dispelling the myth that something's wrong if every erection doesn't resemble Rambo's forearm). She's no research scientist, but she refers you to them. She devotes ample space to sex toys and porn, both of which she is hugely encouraging of, for men and women. She says that the women who react negatively to porn have probably never been exposed to the huge industry of female-produced porn...and come to think of it, neither have i. Hmmmmmmm...
The photos, of which there are MANY, are quite annoying. The models, sculpted and shaven and airbrushed, resemble real people, well, not at all. It's also quite ridiculous to have a frank and open sex book show you page after page of naked singles and couples and threesomes, but never once allow actual genitals to be seen. For her sake, i hope that Tracey had no say over this embarrassment.
The only other critique i'll add comes from my friend Ansuree, who asked how in a million years someone in the throes of passion could possibly remember the 1003 things Tracey throws out?
Quibbles aside, i eagerly recommend that all couples in the preliminary stages of a sexual relationship read this entire book together. Come to think of it, the old and not-so-old vets should too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

intersection

Imagine a point in space. The point exists on a line, with a beginning and an end. Intersecting the point are other lines, so many that the conglomeration resembles a Koosh ball speared on an arrow. There are hundreds of lines, even hundreds of thousands. They are of varying sizes...some are quite thick, others so faint as to barely be there at all.
The point in space is you, and the central line is the path of your life.
At any one moment, we are the intersection of uncountable lines. All these lines come together to create "us". Some of the lines have been with us as long as we can remember...for instance, since the first time someone said "moon" to you, there has been a moon thread in "you". Your relationship to "moon" is ever-changing, in tiny ways or big. There is a thread named "playground", one named "naked", and perhaps one named "Rip Taylor". There are new threads being added constantly...you yourself probably add threads at a slower rate than Samuel L. Jackson, but quicker than Pat Sajak. Our threads thicken when they are prominent in our life, then narrow as they fade into the recesses of our consciousness. Threads which have lain narrow for decades can suddenly burst into richness, like when you bump into a long-lost buddy in the Port Authority women's room.
Although twins in the womb come close, no two people are ever the same untraceably intricate intersection. Nor is one person ever the same intersection from one second to the next. If "Rip Taylor" were added to your intersection one year from now, instead of three years ago, not only would your intersection today be different, your Rip thread will be different a year from now than what it was three years ago. Who we are in a given moment controls how we react to that unique moment, forever altering and shaping our forward momentum.
If all this sounds like an argument against free will, i don't intend that. There are a million choices we make each day, and each one is just that, a choice. All our previous choices point us toward a likely reaction to each moment, but human nature is the single most unpredictable animal nature on the planet. It is therefore tempting to imagine our "point" moving forward on a squiggly line, with stops and turnarounds and circles. But through the lens of time, the choices that shape our path can be viewed as a unified forward-moving progression.
And while this Koosh image is not a determinist decree, it is a way of reminding you of the silliness and futility of beating yourself over the head for choices you made, or choices you wished to make...why couldn't i have met her/him ten years from now, why couldn't i have moved out of that city ten years ago, blah blah blah. Love who you are in this living moment, and when an opportunity comes for you to step outside your comfort zone, try to take it. If nothing else, you'll have one bitchin'ly beauteous Koosh at the end of the line.
Now if i could just find an artist who can paint all that...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Star Wars: The Black Fleet Crisis"

-by Michael P. Kube-McDowell
1996-1998
This trilogy of novels delivers all you could want, and a bit more. The more, is a secret society of force-powerful women who shun any form of violence. As much as i will always love Star Wars, there is a part of me that will forever stand apart, for two reasons. One, they indulge in good & evil bifurcation (in these books, the name of the fleet is a big clue) in a world that exists in shades of grey, and two, i am at my core a pacifist who doesn't believe in war or violence. Of course the Jedi only train in "self-defense", but there is an essential element of violence-glorification in all the films. Thanks to McDowell, there is a voice in the Star Wars universe which raises these objections. Much of the tale centers on the relationship between Luke and Akanah, a lost disciple of the secret society, to whom Luke is a barbarian barely distinguishable from the Sith. Akanah mourns the violence inherent in Luke's entire philosophy, and her position is never effectively refuted. The fact that the society is comprised of women, taps into the feminine energy which has been supressed for all of modern human history. The writing in the rest of the plotlines (Leia an embattled President, Han captured and brutalized by a conquering race, Chewie looking after his insecure son, Lando and the droids on a piratical archaeology mission) is equally well done. McDowell would be a credit to any genre.

Monday, January 12, 2009

blogs i read

I'm not terribly active in the blog community (understatement). I figured out how to set up my own, and that's about it. There are, however, two blogs i read. The first is http://maxthedilettante.blogspot.com/. I was given the link through a mutual friend. Max hails from California, and is funny, bright, and engaging. I might re-name his blog "Boozin', Bikin', & Bloviatin'" (i kid, i'm a kidder, and quite the bloviator myself). We don't always agree, but he's one of those contrarians you're grateful is around.
The second is http://sarahmlawson.blogspot.com/. Sarah comes to the world from deep in the heart of Texas...or somewhere in there, as the song is vague on what qualifies as "deep in the heart". When she began blogging, she randomly clicked on my blog and signed up as a follower. I wonder whether i've gotten more out of this fortunate happenstance than she...her blog is wonderful, her spirit just jumps off the screen and wraps around your head like a happy monkey. Since i understand psychology and how we only chase the ones who run away, i must now affirm that i do NOT have a big, dopey crush on her. And i promise that those among you whose head's are not firmly up your derrieres, will likewise not get a big crush either. I've crunched some numbers on the "head-up-ass" population figures, and can happily affirm that my recommendation will get her...um...one new reader. Wait, is this a leap year? Maybe two.
Oh yes, i forgot, there's a third blog, but you may not be able to reach it without a subscription to Xanga. If you can navigate to it, look for "polymergoddess". She's damned smart, disarmingly funny, and uncensored as hell.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ad-vice squad!

What percentage of the advice you receive in your lifetime should you discard? 35%?
How much of the advice we receive, good intentions notwithstanding, is not really about us at all, but about the person doing the advising?
45%?
Think about your dreams and fears. Your biases and desires. Your regrets and angers, and your wish to shape the world. Now think about a time you gave advice, and try to separate your ego from the advice you gave...think about the person you advised, and whether your advice would have been different had you been able to think only of that person...their dreams, their happiness, nothing else.
55% discard rate, perhaps?
Look kindly upon the person who starts advice with, "If I were you...". At least they're not deluding themselves into thinking they can remove self-interest.
65%?
They say that the only man you can ever trust is your father. They're mostly right, except for the part about ol' Dad. Sadly, Daddies are among the most egregious "own-image" molders in the whole world (Mommies, too).
So, 75%?
Tyrants shape the world by force. The rest of us just give advice.
85%?
Ancient Chinese maxim: he who gives advice seeks to fill his own emptiness (okay, maybe it's not ancient or Chinese).
95%?
Now you're just being paranoid. You're bound to get some good advice in your lifetime.
At least from me, anyway.
Right?

dear jade

Hello Jade,
You asked how i could have these feelings, that you haven't earned? I have two answers. One is that, in my experience, people almost never get what they deserve. People who deserve scorn often get many chances at love, and people who deserve beautiful loving often never find it. We're all too locked inside our brains, slaves to insecurity and fear and biological drives that push us one way or another simply because of the way somebody smells. Usually when something wonderful happens, that's just the way it is, and we didn't earn it. When sadness claims us, we didn't earn that either. The trick is to try to be open to love, and not trip over our own feet when it finds us (for the record, everybody trips).
My other answer to what you have or haven't earned, is that my reaction to you is on the level of spirit reaching out into the universe to try to touch your vibration, and that we still know almost nothing about our personality compatibility. Despite the fact that our spirits have set off resonances, we may not be peas in a pod at all. Every person has their own accumulation of brain input which results in a unique personality, and even on our best spiritual day we can only escape our "selves" so far. You and i have a lifetime's worth of biases, affinities, habits, perceptions, fears, humor, and general rhythms which may mesh wonderfully, or not. Something else your letter told me, which i hadn't realized, is that you feel a little insecurity. All i know is that the spirit part of me tells me to be wide open to you, and that insecurities are just one of a million things you'll never need with me.
hugs,
wrob

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

C.A.T. lovers

Do you know what it feels like to make love to a woman the moment she "discovers" the coital alignment technique? The moment she discovers that man-on-top can be universes more fulfilling than the ho-hummery of thrusting followed by ejaculation followed by sleepy dismount (annnnd...ooh, a 1.3 by the Brazilian judge...ouch)? The moment she discovers that what was once her least favorite position, is fast becoming her favorite? And she haltingly tries to put it all into words ("It was an ocean crashing on a...NO no, it was like being on a see-saw on TOP of a roller coaster!"). And inside you smile, knowing that her discovery was carefully manufactured by you? That you moved into C.A.T. movements seemingly randomly, but in truth all was delicately steered? That you succeeded so well, you have a hard time now interesting her in other positions you enjoy as much or more? Be patient, let her be thrilled with her new fun for as long as she wishes. The reverse cowgirl will ride again...but for now she actually lets you kiss her, fool, and she deserves more than you can ever give her.
Do you know what all that feels like?
I don't either.
But i have youth on my side, and i'm feelin' frisky.

Monday, January 5, 2009

harry chapin

For a few years of my life, Harry Chapin's music was my only friend.
From the age of nineteen to twenty-one, i was learning how to understand and break down the walls that we build around us in childhood and adolescence. Harry's music, with its humanity and humor and yearning, was my closest companion in those lonely, eager years. In my spirit's musical landscape, there are two songs that have eminence, "Bein' Green" and "Imagine", and two bodies of work, Sting's and Harry's.
I first discovered him through radio airplay of "Cat's in the Cradle". Picking through a discount music store bin one day, and not knowing the name Harry Chapin, i came across an anthology, and recognized that one song title. Within two years, i had all of his albums. For a few years, my friend Charlie and i got together every few months to share a pizza and a Chapin album. Charlie opined that no one in rock history composed bridges as brilliantly as Harry, and we vowed to one day visit 16 Parkside Lane. I performed in a Pennington, NJ production of "Lies and Legends: the Music of Harry Chapin", playing the comic guy. I was the one diehard Harry fan in the cast. One rehearsal was the scene of the some of the silliest shared repressed laughter i've ever experienced, as we sang backup on "Tangled Up Puppet"...we held it together during performances, but only by a little. I also got to sing lead on one non-comic song, the searing "Halfway to Heaven". A few years later, a friend gave me a signed copy of Chapin's lyrics and poetry. One of the grails of my life is to have one of the "HARRY, IT SUCKS" T-shirts, so popular among his fans. In the seventies, when music lost its idealistic innocence, Harry was one of the few voices singing out about making the world a better place. More than any rock star ever, he backed up his idealism, donating the proceeds from nearly half his concerts to charity. For all the wonderfulness of Harry's band, the most wrenchingly compelling i ever heard him was when he stepped out in front of his band alone, to perform "Mail Order Annie".
HARRY'S GREATEST SONGS
1) Taxi
2) Cat's in the Cradle
3) Six String Orchestra
4) Sniper
5) Remember When the Music (reprise)
6) Mail Order Annie
7) Corey's Coming
8) Circle
9) Sequel
10) 30,000 Pounds of Bananas
11) There Only Was One Choice
12) Mr. Tanner
13) Odd Job Man
14) Dancin' Boy
15) Sunday Morning Sunshine
16) Last Stand
17) Dance Band on the Titanic
18) Bluesman
19) Bummer
20) I Wonder What Would Happen to this World
21) Mismatch
22) Halfway to Heaven
23) Everybody's Lonely
24) A Better Place To Be
DISCOGRAPHY, IN ORDER OF GREATNESS
1) VERITIES AND BALDERDASH, 1974
2) GREATEST STORIES LIVE, 1976
Notable for "30,000 Pounds of Bananas", which must be experienced live, and "Let Time Go Lightly", one of the most beautiful songs ever, written and sung by Harry's brother Stephen.
3) LIVING ROOM SUITE, 1978
Contains the eerily prescient and tenderly beautiful "Dancin' Boy".
4) SHORT STORIES, 1973
5) DANCE BAND ON THE TITANIC, 1977
Contains the sweeping opus "There Only Was One Choice", one of the most monumental self-dissections ever recorded.
6) SNIPER & OTHER LOVE SONGS, 1972
Contains "A Better Place to Be"...a part of me has always longed to love so non-discriminately. I wonder how Harry meshed the views in this song and "They Call Her Easy", with his own marriage?
7) THE BOTTOM LINE ENCORE COLLECTION, 1998
This concert is especially poignant, as Harry talks about John Lennon's recent murder only months before his own accidental death.
8) PORTRAIT GALLERY, 1975
9) THE GOLD MEDAL COLLECTION, 1988
Contains stellar interview clips.
10) ON THE ROAD TO KINGDOM COME, 1976
11) HARRY CHAPIN TRIBUTE, 1990
With performances by Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, and the Smothers Brothers.
12) LEGENDS OF THE LOST & FOUND, 1979
13) SEQUEL, 1980
The title track cements Harry's brilliance as an arranger.
14) HEADS & TALES, 1972
Contains "Taxi", his second most well-known song, the one ardent fans display the greatest emotional bond to.
15) THE LAST PROTEST SINGER, 1988

"Touching Fire"

(Erotic Writings by Women)
-edited by Louise Thornton, Jan Sturtevant, & Amber Coverdale Sumrall
1989
Recommended for everyone, particularly ignorant heterosexual men (and really, is there any other kind?). It's a powerfully beautiful collection of short stories, novel excerpts, and poems, about women loving women, women loving men, and women loving themselves...and i'm sure there was one about a cat, now that i think of it. The contributing writers are cross-cultural. An interesting facet of being a NYC reader is deciding which books to make your subway book. This was one i happily toted around and devoured in my moments of public transit. I didn't meet anyone as a result, but i enjoyed some curious glances in my direction. The most resonant and moving pieces were "Siesta", by Sumrall, "Touching", by Terry L. McMillan, and "The Game of Chess" by Sandy Boucher.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

holiday ornaments 2008

Our official xma$ tree is prepped and ready, with pretty lights (and after years of ambivalence, i gotta go with artificial...if you are of the anti-artificial persuasion, i appreciate your purity but suggest we decorate our real trees outside, where they can continue to give us oxygen to breathe). It's time for the 2008 holiday ornaments, commemorating last year's most resonant moments of humanity! The Sarah Palin head (with winking action) was a finalist, but it's better to put some images behind us. Speaking of images behind us...
THE 2 GIRLS 1 CUP CUP ORNAMENT
Okay, i know that technically this online video burst into our collective consciousness in 2007, but this blog didn't exist one year ago, and i didn't see this clip myself until last week. I can't bring myself to describe what happens, and let me stress right out of the chute (ba-dump-bump!) that i am encouraging NO ONE to view it. Having seen it myself, i cannot claim to be a better person. If however, you are a student of humanity, the popularity of this clip is a fascinating glimpse into our collective soul. Even if the clip is a semi-fraud, and the cup's contents were switched in a jump cut (which would of course do nothing to diminish the vomiting section of the performance), this ornament still deserves its place, as online clips of people watching the video now rival the popularity of the clip itself. For the ornament, there's no need to bang people over the head with the most unforgettable image (and frankly, deciding which moment that was would require me to view it again, an occasion i'm content to avoid). We'll take the more subtle approach and just have the cup itself, swirled and pristine.
THE NYPD NIGHTSTICK SODOMY ORNAMENT
Hm, it was apparently a banner year for assholes. This ornament commemorates the October sodomization of Brooklyn resident Michael Mineo at the hands of three of NY's finest. Officers confronted Mineo in the Prospect Park subway station, believing him to be smoking marijuana. Perhaps remembering the unprovoked police assault on a Critical Mass bike rider earlier in the year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUkiyBVytRQ), Mineo ran, and was tackled. While two officers held down his arms, Mineo's anus was probed (for dime bags, perhaps?) by Officer Richard Kern and his happy baton. Putting aside the civil rights outrage, is it possible that Mr. Kern has some latent tendencies that need resolving? Or is this all just a pothead crying wolf? It seems not, as indictments have been handed down, and medical records confirm that Mr. Mineo suffered, wait for it...yes, internal abrasions. No pot found, our citizen was given a summons and set free. The ornament captures our four heroes in their most penetrating moment.
THE PRESIDENT-DUCKING-A-SHOE ORNAMENT
Capturing the instant the first shoe sails on by, this ornament (like the press conference it commemorates) will forever provide humanity with a little slice of cathartic healing.