Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Convert or Die!

Does laughing at this make me a bad Catholic? Ah, screw it. It's hilarious!

Excerpt on YouTube from Warner Bros' short-lived Histeria! [Wipipedia].

Does anyone remember this show Histeria? I only ever caught a couple episodes of it when it was originally on TV, and I thought it was brilliant. For example, among the Legion of Super Writers, Emily Dickinson subdued the bad guys by rendering them emo with her verses. Brilliant! What better way to reinforce history and literature than with an intelligent cartoon? If I Histeria had been on TV just a couple years earlier, I might have gotten better grades in my history and government classes and AP tests.

The above clip "Convert or Die" captures a lot of the shameful aspects of the Spanish Inquisition: the unfairness to those who simply didn't understand, the coerced confessions, the torture, the danger of being declared a heretic for reading books critical of the Church.

Of course, this didn't go down well with the Catholic higher-ups. According to the YouTube video's description:
After this episode's initial airing, Warner Bros. received complaints from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, claiming that the Spanish Inquisition game show sketch at the beginning, "Convert or Die!", was teaching children to reject Catholicism. Because of this, in reruns, that sketch was replaced with a newly-made one in which the kids think General Custer is running a custard stand, but restored when the episode was featured on In2TV.
Huh. It sounds like the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights doesn't really know how to own up to past wrongdoings and make up for them. If only there was some precedent for that process, outlined in the Gospel or something. Oh, wait.

Monday, November 29, 2010

How about a nice cuppa?

Samovar claims to be the first to sell tea in cardboard boxes. (Image credit: Samovar)

Really, Samovar? The World's First Compostable Tea Box?

Now, I love me some local businesses. I love me some Samovar, in fact. The marketing genius here is trying to appeal to San Franciscans' love of all things green. Is the Samovar crowd really so yuppified and out of touch with reality that tea in a cardboard box is innovative?

Granted, some people are really fancy and buy tea in tins and foil-lined bags. But this certainly is not the first time I've seen tea in a cardboard box. Most of the time I buy tea in compostable cardboard boxes.

The quality of Samovar's teas should be much more of a selling point than its paper packaging. I'm not falling for this marketing gimmick, but I would buy Samovar's teas to support the business.

In other tea news, I just got a friend's chai recipe. I will be testing it soon and posting the results here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turn out the lights; light a candle....

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the four-Sunday preparatory season before Christmas. Happy Liturgical New Year, too.

I like Advent, and not just because of the purple vestments and the proximity of my own birthday. I have fond memories of the Jesse Tree Blessing at my church when I was in 4th grade, with all the best Advent songs, and a group narration of the Annunciation story. All the 4th graders at my school also had to learn to play the recorder. The previous summer, I taught myself how to read music and got a head start with a recorder and songbook set that my parents bought me from Price Club. And thus began my musical career. Arguably, thus also began my liturgical music career.

So I set out as a liturgical music nerd towards Catholic high school, then Catholic campus ministry services in college, and various cantor/choir gigs once I finally got to the real world. One thing inevitably bothered me every single year as Advent rolled around.

Mark D. Roberts' Advent Wreath is properly lit in sequence!

Which candle do you light first? The third Sunday of Advent is the pink, joyous Sunday, therefore you light the purple candle diametrically opposite the pink candle. All too often, I've seen people start Advent by lighting a purple candle adjacent to the pink one, with the mistaken reasoning that the pink Sunday must be the one closest to Christmas. Not so! The fourth Sunday is purple to bring the seasonal spirit back to introspection and preparation before we get all caught up in the angels and shepherds and magi.

Yeah, it's a stupid pet peeve. And I will comment on your ill-burnt Advent wreath candles because you can't count backwards from three.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fangirl goes SQUEE!

I met Sandip Roy tonight! I finally summoned up enough balls to ask to be introduced to him and take a picture with him! SQUEE!

And now I gush.

He's so mellow and approachable. He asked me where I worked, and I told him and added that the only radio station I can get in my little room is KALW. It's true, too. He said that was funny because it's hard to get KALW from a lot of places around town.

I told Sandip Roy that I really liked his chaat piece. And yes, he already knew about Dana Bazar, now New India Bazar. He had decided that if he mentioned Dana Bazar on Morning Edition, the bump in business might overwhelm the two busybody aunties at the chaat counter. Wow, that's so considerate of him. What an upstanding guy, that Sandip Roy!

And I also told Sandip Roy that I really enjoyed his piece on the changing Indian attitudes towards gay marriage. He said he got a lot of e-mails praising that piece. Awesome!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

more celebrity love!

Oh. Em. Gee. I heart George Takei.

Mr. Takei, you are so freakin' AWESOME!


Via Jezebel.

Friday, November 5, 2010

local celebrity crush

There are a few people that I'd go all squealy fangirl for: Alton Brown, Phil Plait, the Mythbusters, James Franco. Now, I might not ever run into these people--except for the Mythbusters, maybe. But I almost went all squealy fangirl for a local radio personality: Sandip Roy!

This NPR commentator hosts New America Now and occasionally Your Call, both on KALW. Some notable pieces of his in recent memory address chaat (Indian street food) and the evolving acceptance of gay marriage in the Indian community.

When I heard that piece on chaat, Sandip Roy gave me quite the hankering for chaat from Vik's in Berkeley. Actually, I was a little upset that he broadcast the knowledge of Vik's worldwide like that. Surely, this would mean longer lines because of a bump in business! Then I also thought that he better not divulge Fremont's best-kept secret chaat counter at Dana Bazar, now New India Bazar. Man, pani puri at their chaat counter is the best! I certainly wasn't going to comment on the NPR article page and hand him that hard-earned knowledge. And it was hard-earned. I spent a long time on Yelp looking for places that serve pani puri Mumbai-style, and we tried it after a particularly rough hike on Mission Peak.

However, I changed my mind last night when the prospect of actually meeting Sandip Roy became within reach at the 3rd I South Asian Film Festival. I didn't actually meet him, but if I did, well, yeah, I have enough of a celebrity crush on him to share with him the location of the Bay Area's best chaat.

I give, and I give.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

20 Authors

A friend of mine had this cute thing on Facebook about making a list of 20 personally significant authors. Here's what my brain dredged up, plus the notable works that I associate with said authors.

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Twenty authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first Twenty you can recall in no more than Twenty minutes. Tag at least Twenty friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what authors my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your Twenty picks, and tag people in the note.)

1. William Shakespeare - You name it. The husband and I go to Ashland, OR, for our anniversary and watch lots of plays through the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

2. Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs & Steel

3. Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

4. Rebecca Skloot - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

5. Anthony Bourdain - Kitchen Confidential

6. F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

7. Victor Hugo - The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I read it in English, and it still made me cry. And this doesn't count because I haven't read it, but Les Misérables is probably my favorite musical.

8. Antoine de St-Exupery - Le Petit Prince. Classic!

9. Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This was the unofficial required reading at my alma mater. The unofficial required film, by the way, was The Princess Bride.

10. Robert Frost - Fire and Ice, After Apple-Picking, The Road Not Taken, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

11. William Blake - Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright! I memorized that one when I was in 7th grade. I could probably still recite it with little prompting.

12. Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises, Old Man and The Sea.

13. T. S. Eliot - The Wasteland. When I had to write a five-paragraph analytical essay on this whopper, I pointed out the use of ragtime music in the conversation of a jaded married couple in the poem. According to younger friends of mine, our teacher mentioned this at least two years after I wrote it.

14. Emily Dickinson - Heart, We Will Forget Him. She's so emo, and her punctuation is atrocious in a thematically significant way.

15. Armistead Maupin - The Tales of the City series! These books are so much fun! It's an entertaining peek into popular culture and history in San Francisco, from the crazy party days of the 70s, to the more somber early 80s in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.

16. Flannery O'Connor - Lots of creepy, Twilight Zone-like short stories. ::shudder::

17. Beverly Cleary - Dear Mr. Henshaw, my first epistolary narrative. Years later, I also read its sequel, Strider.

18. Christopher Moore - Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. This makes excellent Holy Week reading.

19. Hans Christian Andersen - The Little Mermaid. Because I had read the story and seen the Faerie Tale Theatre version long before seeing the Disney version, I remember being quite disappointed at Disney's happy ending.

20. Donal Godfrey - Gays and Grays: The Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish. The first time I went to mass at this church, Fr. Godfrey delivered a fantastic five-minute homily. Then I learned that he wrote this wonderful book. It gives me the tiniest glimmer of hope that the church might someday live Christ's message, vis-à-vis homosexuality.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Women are crazy

Kelly Valen's new book, image via her website.

In another moment of clarity, I got another thought for the day appropriate for my feeble attempt at increasing blog output.

That moment of clarity was actually from an article in the Chronicle entitled, "Kelly Valen explores the dark side of female relationships." The article references Valen's NY Times article on the back-stabbiness of her former sorority sisters. Valen has expanded that NY Times article into a new book, The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Friendships.

Valen surveyed over 3000 women and spent two years researching and writing this book on the psychological trauma inflicted by female cattiness.

So stuff we already knew, right? Yeah, but with the statistical power of n=3000, much larger than the anecdotal n of any woman who has had to deal with (or at least observe) mean girls from grade school to the workplace.

The world can do without the conniving little schemers who plot to make the shunned girl It during every single game of tag at recess.

The world can do without the gossipy little bats who brief the new girl on who's cool and who's a nerd without letting anyone speak for him/herself.

The world can do without the moody, unreasonable, micro-managing supervisor. The world can also do without the spineless wonders who bow to the unreal whims of said irrational supervisor.

Can't we all just get along? Ladies, retract the claws, and let's chill the frak out, OK?

We should have more exemplary women like--oh, I don't know--Ellen DeGeneres! She's fantastic! If I were ever at home to watch her show, I would. And among her regular viewers, who doesn't want to dance with her and give her a big hug, like, all the time?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's November; don't forget to breathe!

Diatomic oxygen, you double-edged bastard. (Image credit: autismspot.com)

OK, kids, it's November. The second to the last month of the year. That means it's almost Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and New Year's. Then there are these other things for November, and why I'm not participating in any of them:

Movember - I'm certainly not growing a moustache for charity, and I don't know anyone who is.

NaNoWriMo - I don't write nearly well enough to spew out a novel in a month.

NaKniSweMo - After I finish the sweater I started in late September, I have a ton of lace shawls (OK, two) to knit.

Another chance for NaBloPoMo - Ha! What? Me? Blog every day for an entire month? Yeah, right!

NaBloPoMo got me thinking, though, that perhaps I should try to increase my blogging output just a tad. In that spirit, here's my thought for the day:

The biggest risk factor for cancer is breathing oxygen.

Try as one might to optimize exposure to chemicals, radioactivity, ultraviolet light, human papillomavirus, and genetic predisposition, one still has to breathe. Yet the same stuff rusts metal and turns cut apples and avocados brown is the same stuff that keeps us moving and shaking. That's why we're all so stuck on antioxidants; all those electrons on life-giving oxygen can generate free radicals and really muck up a system. Aerobic living is quite the delicate balance between respiration and free radicals running amok.

How did this all come to pass? Plants evolved first, using sunlight and carbon dioxide for energy, and releasing diatomic oxygen as a waste product. As oxygen built up in the atmosphere, oxygen-breathing beings evolved. Then the primates started walking upright, and the rest--as they say--is history.

Creationists, take heed: there's nothing intelligent about that design. It kinda sucks, actually.