Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
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or Search by State





Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Friday, December 17, 2010  
I'm thinking of launching a new business. I've given a lot of thought about what I can do, what I'm good at doing and what sets me apart from other job seekers. After a lot of careful consideration I came up with one thing, one skill that sets me apart from most others. My one unique, special skill that makes me a standout, sets me apart from all the others. And now I'm ready to capitalize on it.

Here's the marketing I've worked out so far.


Looking to find a nice girl and settle down?

Trying to find the perfect employee to fill that job vacancy?

Well, you've come to the right place. Trillian is a one-stop resource for your marriage and hiring needs.

Trillian is not The One you'll want marry.

Trillian is not the one you will ultimately hire.

But.

Trillian has a proven track record of being both
  1. the girl men date before they meet the girl they marry 
  2. the job candidate that comes in second, the person who tips the balance in favor of the other top contender.
Trillian is now offering her services to the men who want to get married but can't find the right girl and employers facing tough hiring decisions.

Guaranteed success rate!

Men Looking for Marriage!
Date Trillian for a couple months (a couple years, if you want) and then break up with her. You don't need a valid reason to break up with her! In fact our data indicates the more vague your reasons to break up with her, the sooner you'll meet the girl of your dreams! "Reasons" like these garner a 99.8% success rate in the next relationship. Date Trillian for a few weeks, months, heck a couple years, and then break up with her via the following "reasons" and you will be married to the girl of your dreams within a year, even as little as six months in a few cases!
  • "It's not you, it's me, I don't know what I want right now and it's unfair to string you along"
  • "I dunno, I guess I'm going through something, I think I need some time on my own"
  • "You're too nice for me. You deserve better."
  • "The timing's bad, I have that big project at work and my dad's having surgery and softball season's coming up, I just really don't have time for a relationship right now"
  • "You're too good for me, I want you, a girl like you, but you make me realize I need to work on myself before I'm ready for a serious relationship with a girl like you"
  • "I have commitment/trust issues. You're great, you've helped me come a long way with those issues but ultimately I'm just not all the way there."
  • "I'm just not ready for a serious relationship"
Why not just cut out the middle (wo)man and move straight to the girl of your dreams? Good question! Our extensive research data on this is inconclusive. Substantial evidence points to commitment and trust issues, but our findings are inconclusive due to the success rate men garner in their Post-Trillian Relationships. Which is why we say, "Don't ask why, just do what many other men have done to achieve a long term relationship! Date Trillian for a few weeks/months/years!"

Lest you think dating Trillian must be such an awful experience that she'll scare you into settling down with someone, anyone, who isn't her, rest assured previous dates/boyfriends all concur:
  • she's a lot of fun, 
  • your parents will love her, 
  • she'll enthusiastically support your career and hobbies, 
  • she's not high maintenance,
  • she won't make you sit through cinematic adaptations of Jane Austin, Bronte sisters or other period romance literature,
  • there's nothing fake or phony about her,
  • she likes hockey and baseball and understands you might like other sports and like to watch them on television while wearing your dirty sweats and drinking beer,
  • she'll even give you lots of personal space and freedom,
  • she'll "do that" on days other than your birthday/anniversary/New Year's Eve,
  • she doesn't care what kind of car you drive 
Some men even claim to fall in love, "feel emotions they've never felt," and want to be better people when they're with Trillian.

So why not just marry Trillian? Inconclusive data. But Trillian isn't important. You want to get married, and Trilian is the means to that end. The conduit to a lifetime commitment!

But don't just take our word for it. Here's what satisfied customers have to say about dating Trillian,

"Yeah, she's a really nice girl. I was falling really hard for her. That scared me so I broke up with her and then, a month later I met the girl I ended up marrying! After losing Trillian I knew I had to man up and not lose the next one. Lucky for me opportunity knocked twice! A month after I broke up with Trillian I met my wife! Thanks to what I learned about myself while dating Trillian I laid down the welcome mat and opened the door on a lifetime commitment!"

"Trillian? Almost perfect girlfriend - that is if you like intelligent, kind, leggy brunettes with big tits. If you prefer short, dumb blondes or Asians she's not for you. But other than that she's almost perfect. I almost married her. Almost."

"Trillian, oh man, yeah, she's awesome. She totally got me over my fear of commitment. After dating Trillian for two years I was so ready to settle down that two weeks - just two weeks! - after I broke up with Trillian I met my wife! Thanks to Trillian I was ready to make a lifetime commitment and knew I didn't want to waste any more time so within six months of breaking up with Trillian I was getting married! I owe my wife, kids...my life to Trillian. If I hadn't dated her I never would have been ready for making lifetime commitments."

"She's great, you'll love dating her. She's fun, she's kind, she's compassionate, she's a class-act but not snobby. I would have married her but I realized I wasn't good enough for her. I always wanted to date a girl like her, I thought she was what I wanted, but after I had her I realized I'm too insecure to be with someone like that. So when I met Candi a couple nights after I broke up with Trillian, I knew a stripper 15 years younger than me with fake boobs and a coke habit was the perfect girl for me. If I hadn't dated Trillian I'd still be reaching for that brass ring of women, the intelligent, kind, classy, trustworthy kind of woman, I'd be unfulfilled, chasing that dream, you know? But now look at me! Candi and I have been together three years and it's all because I dated Trillian!"

Don't waste another date night on women who don't leave you ready/longing for the lifetime commitment of your dreams!

Date Trillian.

The One You Date Before You Meet The One.




Guaranteed success rate!


Employers Looking for Professional Interview Candidates!

Interview Trillian once or twice (three or four, if you want) and then interview someone else.. You don't need a valid reason to interview anyone else! In fact our data indicates the more vague your reasons to continue your candidate quest, the sooner you'll fill your job vacancy! "Reasons" like these garner a 99.8% success hiring rate. Interview Trillian once, twice or even several times, maybe even check her references and negotiate a salary, and then interview someone else for the following "reasons" and you will hire the perfect candidate within weeks, within days in a few cases!
  • "You're perfectly qualified, but we're revising the job description and not sure what we really need"
  • "You're overqualified, but we want to talk to you in case someone quits and we need to hire a replacement"
  • "You're too experienced for us. You should be in a higher caliber role than we can offer"
  • "The timing's bad, we just lost a client and that department was reorganized and our international numbers didn't come in the way we hoped, we just can't take the hiring risk right now"
  • "You're overqualified, we want you, an employee like you, but you make us realize we need to work on our internal procedures before we're ready to hire a candidate like you"
  • "We have commitment/trust issues. You're great, we know you would do a great job here, but you're better than me, even, and that makes me nervous, they might replace me with you."
  • "We're discontinuing the candidate search at this time"
Why not just cut out the middle (wo)man and move straight to the candidate you'll hire? Good question! Our extensive research data on this is inconclusive. Substantial evidence points to commitment and trust issues, but our findings are inconclusive due to the success rate employees garner in their Post-Trillian Interviews. Which is why we say, "Don't ask why, just do what many other employers have done to find job candidates! Interview Trillian!"

Lest you think Trillian must be such an awful experience that she'll scare you into hiring someone, anyone, who isn't her, rest assured previous interviewers all concur:

  • she's very professional, 
  • HR and coworkers will love her
  • she's creative
  • she has years of relevant professional experience
  • she is tech savvy and current with latest trends and technology
  • she'll enthusiastically support your creative marketing goals, 
  • she's not high above working long hours or traveling to Boise. In January.
  • she's client-safe: Proper grammar, no visible tattoos, clean clothes, won't get drunk and/or have sex with clients
  • doesn't have a husband/boyfriend/kids to text/email/talk to all day at work
  • she won't make you sit through Power Point adaptations of her resume and project history
  • she's punctual
  • she'll ask lots of insightful questions
  • she'll "do that" even though it's not in her job description
  • she doesn't care what the salary or benefits are 
Some employers even claim to want to hire her, even aspire to new and better departmental goals when they interview Trillian.

So why not just hire Trillian? Inconclusive data. But Trillian isn't important. You want to fill a job vacancy, and Trilian is the means to that end. The conduit to a full employee roster.


But don't just take our word for it. Here's what satisfied customers have to say about interviewing Trillian,


"Yeah, she's a really great person. We really liked her. She was a little overqualified, though, and that scared the manager of that department, so we interviewed our second choice again, even more overqualified than Trillian, and a week later we hired her to replace the insecure manager! After interviewing Trillian our way forward was clear, we didn't need a new creative manager, we needed a new department manager! Lucky for us opportunity knocked twice! A week after our third interview with Trillian, just before we made her a final offer,  we re-interviewed another candidate and hired them! Thanks to what we learned about the department while interviewing Trillian, our departmental goals were so much more clear!"

"Oh yeah, I remember her. She wasn't qualified for the job, I mean, I'm sure she could have done it, she has words on her resume I don't even know what they mean, but we just needed someone to stock shelves on the midnight shift. I mean, I would have hired her because she seemed eager, but Tim over at central distribution has this thing about not wanting to hire college grads and he's the boss, so... The thing is, the next person, like, the very next person who applied was perfect. If it hadn't been for Trillian I might not have realized that so quickly, I mean, the comparison was, like, staring me in the face it was so obvious, I hired that guy on the spot. I might have had to work doubles until we hired someone, so I owe Trillian for making the hiring choice obvious."

"Trillian is the perfect interview candidate. Do not hesitate to interview her. Especially if you're a hiring manager with a recruitment quota. Trillian's viable, she could be a real contender, so no one will suspect you're bringing in candidates just to pad your numbers. She'll give the real candidate a run for their money, too, and a little extra competition in the interview process always makes for good water cooler conversation. Trillian, yeah, she's perfect. So perfect you almost want to hire her. Almost."

"Trillian, she's great. She really energized our interview process. After interviewing her four times we knew we were ready to hire someone. Two weeks after our last interview with Trillian we still couldn't decide which candidate we wanted to hire, but thanks to Trilian we knew we had to get someone in that role ASAP, so we let HR make the final decision. Thanks to Trillian we knew we really did need to hire someone and were ready to make a hiring commitment. We didn't want to waste time so we let HR handle it and within a week we hired someone! Really, we owe this year's successful marketing to Trillian. If we hadn't interviewed her and had the conversation about meeting marketing goals we never would have gone ahead and hired someone that soon!"

"Trillian. Yeah. We liked her. We had a lot of great candidates but two stood out with impressive qualifications and personalities. Trillian and the guy we hired. Equally qualified. Impossible to choose, really. It came down to a coin toss, best three out of five, and well, Trillian lost the toss. But it was great to have a choice. Us hiring managers dream of that scenario, the coin-toss scenario. It may be the thrill of my hiring manager career, you know? I mean, usually there's one stand-out, or no stand-outs. But to have two completely equal candidates? Two thoroughbreds in the same race? Wow, I mean, that's the stuff of hiring managerial legends. So I'm glad we put her through three rounds of interviews. Who could have guessed they'd both tie in the interview tri-fecta?! Neck and neck, I tell you. Neck. And. Neck. A nail biter to the end. The coin toss was worth it. No regrets. I'd interview her again in a heartbeat."

"You'll love interviewing Trillian. She's professional, she's creative, she's sincere, she's interested, she's savvy, she's nice, she's a class-act. We would have hired her but we realized we aren't good enough for her. We wanted to hire someone like her, we thought she was what we wanted, but after we discussed her history of successful creative project management, deadline scheduling and re-reviewed her on-time deliverable project history we realized we're too insecure to work with someone like that. So when Bronyx's resume came across HR's desk a couple days after the fourth interview with Trillian we knew a recent college grad with no professional work or project history who lives with his parents and didn't pass the drug test was the perfect candidate for us. If we hadn't interviewed Trillian we'd still be reaching for that brass ring of job candidates, the intelligent, professional, experienced, trustworthy kind of candidates. We'd be unfulfilled, chasing that dream, you know? But now look at us! Bronyx has been with us two months and only missed eight days of work and three deadlines! And all because we interviewed Trillian!"

Don't waste another interview on candidates who don't leave you ready/longing for the perfect candidate for your office!

Interview Trillian.

The One You Want To Hire Until You Meet The Candidate You Will Hire.

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11:59 AM

Wednesday, December 15, 2010  
Ahhhh, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Fa la la la whatever.

Have you seen the ad about "being the Santa you want to be" this year? I also saw a jewelry ad coaxing men to get in touch with their inner Santa and buy their women diamonds. The ending fade-out implies that undying love, respect, faithfulness and a lot of sex, even the stuff she doesn't usually like to do, will follow.*

This whole be all the Santa you can be and finding your inner Santa stuff has reminded me about a classmate when I was 6.

He was known as The Jesus Kid. I can sense you rolling your eyes in instant recognition of the person whose memory I just conjured. There was a Jesus Kid in your class, too. I've learned almost everyone had a Jesus kid in their class or school.

I also realize you are surprised to learn my school's Jesus kid wasn't me. Yes, at age 6 I was still a Jesus enthusiast. But I've always been extremely secular. Even in my most fervent and zealous Jesus years it was deeply personal to me. I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed about my religion and I don't remember anyone telling me to keep it on the down-low in public. It was just always a very personal "this is between me, God and Jesus" thing for me. Plus being raised old school Methodist/Presbyterian instilled me that humility matters most and anything remotely resembling bragging, boasting or showboating is not only socially boring, it's morally wrong and spiritually offensive. We are mere mortals. Period. Know your place in this life. Mere. Mortal. Humble servant. There's a fine line between proclaiming your creator and self righteous bragging. Going around spouting holier than thou about your relationship with Jesus/God or anyone immortal could backfire on you on judgment day. I erred on the side of caution and kept my thoughts and beliefs on religion between me and the Holy Men lest I cross the line into self righteous bragging. It was just safer.

And when I entered that classroom and discovered that The Jesus Kid was the class butt of jokes and subject of ridicule the lesson was cemented. I soon discovered The Jesus Kid's religious zeal wasn't really the reason why he was the butt of jokes and subject of ridicule. He was fairly good at math but fairly bad at all other subjects. He was still struggling with his alphabet, for crying out loud. Oh. And he smelled funny.

I was momentarily relieved that the class already had a whipping boy. I selfishly thought that finally some of the teasing aimed at me would subside, or could at least be deflected onto The Jesus Kid, or, maybe, just maybe, The Jesus Kid and I could form some sort of alliance.

I was six. I didn't fully understand the intricacies of social justice in the classroom. But I was learning. I'd not yet read Lord of the Flies and did not realize that life was imitating art right there in my classroom. 8 years later, when I did read Lord of the Flies, I struggled to get through it because I couldn't stop crying. The tears wouldn't stop welling in my eyes. It hit home in ways I don't think Golding could have imagined when he penned it.

This is going somewhere, I promise.

The Jesus Kid and I did not form a bullying victim alliance. He turned out to be mean. I suppose all the bullying and his personal struggle with, you know, the alphabet, took a heavy toll on him. I did feel sorry for him and I didn't tease him - I was never a teaser. a) I never wanted to tease anyone, b) it wasn't my style, and c) I never had the opportunity. I was always at the bottom of the classroom social hierarchy and therefore teasing was strictly forbidden.

I wasn't initially aware of the parallels between classroom humility and religious humility, but a few years later (before Lord of the Flies) I made the connection and knew at some point I would have to decide if this was a personality trait, a quirk of my individual DNA, or if it was something I was learning. This realization hit me during my introduction to the concept of nature v. nurture. Gregor Mendel was merely a science lesson about beans to most of the kids, but for me a light bulb of awareness clicked on and after that I started weighing everything on the scales of nature v. nurture. "Is he mean just because that's who he is, or is he mean because that's how he is?"

Right.

The Jesus Kid.

I soon learned why he was known as The Jesus Kid. No, he didn't go around quoting scripture or talking about Jesus. No he didn't condemn the rest of us kids to eternal damnation. He did pray before eating his lunch, but some of the other kids did, too, so that wasn't enough to earn him the mocking moniker. He was tagged The Jesus Kid because he was not allowed to sing Santa Claus songs. He was not allowed to even talk about Santa, even utter Santa's name. He did not believe in Santa. He believed (Believed) in Jesus.

You know, okay. Fine, cool, whatever. But here's the thing. He was so devout and steadfast in his conviction that he refused to even sing the name Santa in songs. (This was in a very, very small town back in the days long before political correctness and zealous litigation.) I later discovered his conviction over Santa was really just a deep, deep fear of being found out and then beaten by his extremely pious parents.

Ours was a religious town, but a very secular one. We said the pledge, every day, one nation, under God, and it was totally okay if we included Jesus in our Christmas/Easter drawings. (yes, Christmas and Easter were talked about in the classroom, primarily because that's when we had vacation during the school year.) But if you wanted to pray or really talk about religion in school you went to the Catholic school. The Jesus Kid's refusal to sing Santa songs was fine with our music teacher and holiday pageant director. He didn't have to participate.

But.

He wanted to participate.

So. He hit upon the idea of replacing Santa with Jesus, and Santa Claus with Jesus Christ. So, "Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane" became "Here comes Jesus Christ, here comes Jesus Christ, right down Jesus Christ Lane."

The Jesus Kid especially loved Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Go ahead, sing Rudolph and replace Santa with Jesus. I'll give you a minute.









Yeah. I know.

The Jesus Kid was an idiot savant.

For me it was akin to learning Dark Side of the Moon syncs with Wizard of Oz. Just a coincidence, but wow, that's kind of weird. It's kind of uncanny. It illustrates Jesus' love of animals and those less fortunate along with lessons of forgiveness, humility, acceptance, His almighty light and salvation found by following said light.

But of course I didn't understand the deeper meaning behind Rudolph when Santa replaces Jesus. That didn't occur to me until much later (probably about the time I was sobbing through Lord of the Flies). The Jesus Kid was just a kid who smelled funny, didn't know the alphabet, didn't believe in Santa Claus and got teased by the other kids.

I foolishly thought we might have some common ground vis a vis the teasing and that we could be, if not friends, at least friendly.

That's when I discovered that The Jesus Kid was mean. When my other classmates mocked, cajoled, tormented, teased and generally picked on me for being tall/smart/a good drawer/whatever they deemed mockworthy that day** The Jesus Kid immediately joined in the mockery. I quickly realized The Jesus Kid was beyond thrilled that a kid other than him was being picked on and consequently seized upon the opportunity to a) bask in the glory of not being teased, and b) be the one throwing out the insults instead of receiving them.What would Jesus do? Well, not that. So much for the Jesus Kid walking in the light of the Lord.

Nonetheless, I extended an olive branch of peace and hope to him in the form of offering to help him with his alphabet and reading. Mindful of his feelings, I tried to make it sound not like charity but instead a partnership. I'd help him with his reading if he'd help me with my subtraction.

The Jesus Kid wouldn't have anything to do with that plan. "Figure out your own subtraction problems. Hey, the new tall girl can't do subtraction!! Ha ha!!" (Could have said, "Et tu, Jesus Kid, et tu? I can to do subtraction, it just takes me a long time to figure it out. And I know my alphabet, even backwards, and I even read chapter books. And I don't smell funny. Like some other kids whose name I won't mention, Jesus Kid." Instead said: Nothing.)

For that reason I held The Jesus Kid in higher contempt than some of the other kids who teased me. He should have had more empathy and compassion for a kid being teased. Stupid, smelly Jesus Kid. I kept my distance from him. Forever.

Except during the holiday pageant season when I had to stand next to him during two songs. So I had to hear him singing Jesus instead of Santa in all our songs.

To this day when I hear a Santa song I chuckle at the irony of replacing Santa with Jesus.

Maybe it's the press the atheist billboards are getting, or the retaliatory "Jesus is the reason for the season" billboards, or the whole "I will say Merry Christmas, dammit" blogging, or maybe it's because I'm unemployed and poor so I notice this year's marketing more. Whatever the reason, the "be the Santa you want to be" and "find your inner Santa," has triggered a lot of memories of The Jesus Kid. I've been mentally swapping Santa with Jesus, "Be the Jesus you want to be," "find your inner Jesus," and the ironies are making me laugh. And opened the floodgates of my personal issues.

Of all people, you'd think a confused, unemployed, single, childless agnostic would be the first to either a) jump on the Scrooge wagon or b) rally against religion-based marketing.

I'm not big on The Holidays. I'm especially not big on the marketing of The Holidays. Regardless of my feelings about Jesus now, it's weird (and for Believers, blasphemous) to use Jesus as a means to a capitalistic end. "It's Christmas! Buy presents! Expensive presents! Prove how much you love/care about your family and friends by spending a lot of money on stuff to wrap up and give as a way to honor Jesus' birth." Even if they leave Jesus out of it, retailers are advertising for Christmas sales, cashing in on religion. Using a religious holiday for commercial profit is a long standing tradition, predates Jesus. But I dunno, I suppose it's the religious humility that was instilled in me, cashing in on religion, using religion, especially Jesus (of all people) to hawk diamonds and cars seems really obtuse.

And since my dad died Christmas has been...difficult. To say the least. My dad loved Christmas. I mean, he loved it. Everything about it. He embraced it with such enthusiasm it was impossible to remain Grinchy around him. His religious humility took a vacation during December. Outdoor lighting displays, indoor lighting displays, there wasn't a room in the house that wasn't decorated for Christmas. And: Presents. Lots and lots and lots of presents. Both my parents got a little nuts with Christmas presents, even my mother. Oh, she tried to keep us humble with gifts of socks and underwear, but, her attempts were feeble and would never stand up in court. "Yes, yes, we see Exhibit A, the socks, but enter Exhibit B, a Barbie Dreamhouse with furniture and a Barbie pool (sold separately, some assembly required)."

To be fair, though, my parents were equally zealous about the Christ part of Christmas. Sure, we had a countdown to Christmas calendar with Santa and reindeer shaped chocolates, but right next to it was an advent wreath with lights for each Sunday in advent and special prayers for each light. Sure, from December 1 to December 26 the hi-fi was loaded with the Chipmunks, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby and Rudolph/Santa songs, but there was also Handel, and every version of Silent Night, First Noel and O, Come All Ye Faithful ever recorded. Sure, hundreds of cookies were baked, but huge boxes of food were collected and distributed to needy families and charities. Sure, we had a lavishly adorned Santa in sleigh with reindeer (all of them, Rudolph with his nose so bright, actually lit with a bulb my dad engineered, leading the pack) flying across the wall above the fireplace mantel, but on the mantel was a large, ornately carved and back-lit Creche. There were a lot of presents under the heavily decorated tree, but there were a lot of donations of money and time to charities, too. I'm not saying they got the balance right, or that the mixed messages didn't result in a lot of religious confusion. But. It was the one facet of my childhood that was (I think) normal in comparison to other kids of my demographic.

My parents knew all the stuff of Christmas could go away and we'd still have a celebration. The stuff was just icing on Jesus' birthday cake and as good excuse as any to let themselves go a bit more than usual. Be a little showy, spoil the kids a little. We all knew the exuberance and abundance weren't what the holiday was about, and I never expected to find a bacchanalia of childhood fantasies spread out for me on Christmas morning. I was always truly surprised, every year, that I was given anything other than socks and underwear.

But since my dad died my mother just doesn't have it in her to do all the Christmas stuff. She misses my dad too much. She does the Jesus stuff, church, charities, but the rest of it? Well, let's just say Santa isn't jovially riding across the wall above the fireplace and there's not a lot of music in the house this time of year. And that's fine with me. We're not Scrooge-y or Grinch-y, "all that" holiday stuff is fine for other people. But it just makes my father's absence even more conspicuous and painful. We're "down to basics" as my mother says. So the advertising and marketing of Christmas seems even more glaring in the stark contrast to our "down to basics" Christmases.

Something that always surprised me was that after I parted ways with religion I still liked Christmas. Not the presents, or the marketing or the holiday travel. I could have seized those aspects and held them up as proof of the sham and mockery of religion. But I didn't/don't feel that way. Some may call me a hypocrite because of this, but, I like the "real" aspects of Christmas. I like being with my family (yes, even my sister). I like the ideals of Christmas. Heck, I like the message of Christmas. To be clear, I like the messages of Jesus. I'm down with the emotional, intellectual and spiritual ideals of Jesus. There's a lot of good stuff to be learned from the New Testament regardless of your belief in the messenger. (Messenger?) No matter what was going on with my family, or in the world, Christmas was always the same with my family. I could count on it. In all the zeal and festooning of Christmas, somehow my parents managed to exude an air of calm. Yep. Amidst all that holiday hoopla there was always an overriding sense of peace and calm during the holidays. Busy, bustling, but not frantic or crazed. (Come to think of it, my parents did drink a bit more than usual during the holidays.) I don't know how they did it because December was always packed with non-stop activities and errands and stuff to do, but either they had it down to a science, a well-oiled holiday machine, or, they loved doing it so much that none of it was a burden. They enjoyed it. Enjoyed it, I suppose.

The gaping hole where my dad used to be is unsettling. His presence is still there, though. And that weird sense of calm in all the holiday madness is still there. Not quite as obvious, but it's there. I suppose it's part of his omnipresent presence.

But those commercials. Geeze. They really bug me. A lot. Always have. I do not like holiday marketing. But. This year there seems to be a lot of reference to being Santa in relation to giving gifts procured from high-priced vendors. It bugs me. So I have to thank the mean, smelly Jesus Kid who didn't know the alphabet for a useful coping tool. Swap "Jesus" for Santa where/whenever you see Santa used in marketing. The obvious, glaring wrongness of the message is so offensive and comical that the commercials become even more ridicule-worthy.

Of all the holiday marketing I hate the most, the ilk I find most repugnant are the jewelry ads. These are actually quite complex bits of marketing, not as obvious as they seem. Yes, they're trying to ensnare men into buying expensive jewelry (usually diamonds) for their girlfriends/wives. But, those ads are not made with men in mind. The "plot lines" of those ads are composed solely for women. They are 30 or 60 second Lifetime movies. The ads are made for women. Yep. They are made to encourage and perpetuate the marketing goldmine that is: Women nag men for stuff. Either out and out nagging, or by more "subtle" clue dropping, the jewelry marketers are banking on the emotional/romantic attachment a lot of women have to jewelry, especially jewelry given to them by a man. Bombard women with these commercials, show them the fairy tale scenario of the dream holiday gift exchange over and over and eventually even the most anti-marketing woman will cave into the desire to have her man spend a lot of money on jewelry for her. She'll either out and out tell her man to behave like the guys in those ads, or, more subtly encourage him to emulate what the ads portray. "Here's a lovely sweater, darling, why don't you put it on, and look, I decorated the living room in soft-lit romantic hues, and I have my hair and makeup done perfectly, oh, here, I just opened a bottle of bubbly, gosh, we look like one of those ads on tv..."

If jewelry ads were actually made for men, targeted at men, hoping to get men to pay attention to the ad and spin the product so well men would race out to buy it, they would not be shot in soft focus with a well dressed couple sipping champagne in a nicely decorated home or at a posh restaurant or exotic/quaint/festive locale, and they wouldn't have a plot, or at least a romantic plot. They'd be 15 second spots with a naked chick saying, "Buy your woman expensive jewelry and she'll give you a blow job."

Or they'd look like beer commercials.

The chicks would be naked, or in bikinis, the guys would not look like fit, well-groomed male models and they'd be in jeans in t-shirts and the setting would be a sports bar or cluttered garage with plenty of stuff to lure the men into watching the ad. "Hey, is that a belt sander behind that guy? Ooooo, getta load of that nail gun. A chick in a bikini, awesome. She's waxing his jet-ski, that's the new Wave Runner. Oh, he's giving her a ring and she seems happy about that, she's undoing the zipper of his jeans. Ya know, I think I'll buy my girlfriend a diamond ring." (I know, I don't know why I'm still unemployed, either. Can't figure it out.)

The whole thing is nauseating. It's unsettling. It speaks to an Orwellian level of psychology and social engineering. And I hate myself for getting ensnared by it every year. I know what's going on. I know the psychology and commercial theory behind it. And no, I have never, ever wanted (or expected) a man to give me expensive jewelry, especially for Christmas. I don't buy into the "expensive gifts = love" theory and I hate that it's perpetuated, especially at Christmas. WWJD? Uh, well, I dunno, but I'm pretty sure manipulation, guilt and emotional blackmail aren't His go to plans for love.

What I hate is that those ads make me feel more alone, more of a loser because I don't have a man in my life to turn to and say, "If you even think about giving me a diamond for Christmas I'll leave you so fast you won't even see the blur I make on my way out the door."

But this year's prominent use of Santa in jewelry advertising helps soften the sting. Especially when I use the "replace Santa with Jesus" trick. Thank you, smelly, mean Jesus kid, wherever you are. You teased me and wouldn't help me with math, but that's okay. All is forgiven because you provided me with a coping skill that helps me keep it real during the holidays. A skill that helps me maintain a calm, rational mindset amidst the holiday hype hoopla. And in turn, because of that odd juxtaposition of calm against chaos, I'm able to feel "normal" during the holidays.

Has my heart grown two sizes to big? Am I a born-again Jesus freak? Nope. But I'm not offended by Christmas, either. I like the Jesus ideals. And anything that celebrates love, forgiveness, kindness, tolerance and peace is good. It's the message, not the messenger (Messenger?) Not sure what to get someone for Christmas? Look to the holiday marketing and then spin it. "Be the Santa you want to be" implies giving the biggest/best/priciest/most intoxicating gift you can find. "Be the Jesus you want to be" implies giving something that actually matters, regardless of your religious beliefs.











*I don't personally know any woman who has leveraged a diamond in trade for "the kinky/icky/painful stuff," but then the women I know wouldn't openly admit to being so easily sexually swayed by expensive presents, so, you know, the possibility that my friends are pleasing their men in ways they'd rather not simply because their men bought them expensive jewelry certainly exists. I personally am not swayed, sexually or otherwise, by lavish gifts, especially lavish gifts that end up costing me my pride/dignity/self esteem. Not that I have been showered with a lot of lavish gifts. I have not. But on the few occasions a lavish gift has been presented to me by someone other than my parents there have been a) strings attached and b) a lot of social psychology and posturing behind it. So. I'm generally not in favor of lavish gifts. 

**"Blue mittens? Only kindergartners wear blue mittens on Thursdays. Ha ha ha, you're a kindergartner!!!" You know, that sort of thing. Good times.

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9:17 AM

Sunday, December 12, 2010  
If you are bashing/boycotting the Salvation Army for discriminating against gays and minorities and for the charity's anti-Harry Potter/Twilight stance you damn well better not shop at Walmart where they
a) discriminate against gays, minorities, women and the disabled - not just during the holidays but year 'round;
b) believe in censorship and refuse to sell music with the PMRC label or books with "naughty" words/ideas (or written by dangerous minds like Jon Stewart and George Carlin);
and, oh yeah, c) sell firearms, bullets, bows, arrows and crossbows.
Reminder: Walmart is a profit corporation bound by state and federal labor and trade laws, unlike the Salvation Army which is a religious non-profit charity who can thus distribute their donations however, wherever they see fit in accordance to their publicly posted recipient guidelines. They have never, not once, hidden the fact that they are a Christian organization. They laud Jesus and do their work in His name. They value fundamental Christian values - there is no secret about this. The Salvation Army is, and always has been, out and proud about their purpose and values. The issue of gay rights, therefore, isn't with the Salvation Army, it's with many Bible-based religions.

In boycotting the Salvation Army you are guilty of discrimination, too. You are, by disassociation, discriminating against the Salvation Army donation recipients in your community. You are depriving people of food, clothing, health care, and yes, toys for the kids, among other services the Salvation Army provides. You are condemning and persecuting the Salvation Army for their religious beliefs, beliefs they have not hidden or denied. You and I may not agree with those beliefs, but that's not the point. We don't want anyone to tell us what to Believe (or not). If we admonish, lambaste or disrespect other people for their Beliefs (or unBelief) we are a) hypocritical and b) guilty of discrimination and religious persecution. Hatred. We become haters, guilty of the exact type of hatred we hate: Blind. Judgmental. Intolerant. Narrow-minded. Self-centered. The only way to "fight" back is, you guessed it: Accept. Forgive. Heal. Peace. Love. (duh). Accept. It's the first and most important step in the process.

Things are bad. Unemployment is still ravaging across the US and world. People, lots of people, are still losing their homes, or struggling to keep a roof over their heads and eat at least one a meal a day. If it weren't for my family and friends I would be in a shelter - most likely a Salvation Army funded shelter - and/or eating a meal provided by Salvation Army pantries. Thankfully I have family and friends who can and will help me. But other people, lots of other people, don't have that option. Their family and friends are impoverished, too. So yes, the outburst of hatred and protests about the Salvation Army are packing a particularly painful sting this year. Perhaps the people making those posts have been unaffected by the past couple years of economic hardship. (Yes, there are a few people who remain blissfully unaware.) To them I implore: This is not the time in history to discourage ANY charitable contributions.

There’s a thin line between supporting a cause and self-righteous, self-promoting puffery. Before you spread charity-bashing blog/Facebook/Twitter posts take a minute to think about why you're compelled to make that post and who your actions will impact. Your friends and family are probably well aware of your feelings about gay rights, discrimination and censorship. They probably agree with you. They probably don't need to read your "DON'T DONATE TO THE SALVATION ARMY BECAUSE THEY HATE GAYS AND WON'T ACCEPT HARRY POTTER AND TWILIGHT BOOKS!!!" post. Think about who will really pay the price for reduced contributions. It won't be the people ringing bells in front of stores or playing in the brass bands on sidewalks. It will be the neediest people in your community who will see a reduction in (or go completely without) help from the Salvation Army.

If you truly want to support gay rights and promote anti-censorship (as well as anti-gun causes) while also supporting your community small businesses and their employees there's a very easy first step to take: Stop shopping at effing Walmart.

I support gay rights and anti-gun legislation, fully. I find discrimination of any kind abhorrent. Censorship? Intolerable. Church and state? Separate, always and forever.

But. I also believe in redemption. I believe in the big picture, the greater good. The Salvation Army's tireless global good works coupled with their long history of direct community aid are too important to overlook and/or dismiss. Too many truly needy people benefit from the Salvation Army's aid to write the charity off as gay-bashing, gun-toting, Bible-thumping, Bush-supporting villains.

By the way, did you know the The Salvation Army organized a "Trade in your guns for a Bible" exchange in Papua, New Guinea? While in an ideal world I would prefer a "Trade in your guns for clean water and a post-secondary education" exchange, getting even a few guns out of circulation is a positive step forward. And hey, if some of the peace, forgiveness and acceptance lessons from the Bible sink in with a former gun-toting/trading Papuan, where's the harm in that?

Also, keep in mind that the Salvation Army is one of the few charities that apply their donations directly to the communities where the donations are given. When you donate to your local Salvation Army buckets/drive you are donating directly to less fortunate and disabled people in your community. Yes, a percentage of the local donations goes toward the global mission. The percentages vary by community depending on the financial dynamic of the community. The Salvation Army in Detroit, for instance, gives a lesser percentage to the global mission than, say, the Beverly Hills chapter who has a lesser local need.

I love and support my friends who happen to be homosexual and I long for a day sexual preference won't be an issue in any arena.

I would give my life in a fight against censorship and I dream of a day when anyone in the world can freely read or listen to anything they want without fear.

I respect the right to religious beliefs, or lack thereof, and my biggest hope for human evolution is that we will live up to our "rational thinking" reputation on the food chain and become a tolerant, respecting, accepting species.

And I would never advocate abstaining from donating to a charitable organization that helps people in their darkest hours and in their deepest need.

If my homosexual friends/readers find this opinion to be hypocritical, I am truly sorry we disagree. I don't see it as an either/or issue. In my vision of a perfect world gay rights would be a given, a non-issue, like breathing (and drinking clean water and reading any book and listening to any music we want). And in that world poverty and disasters wouldn't exist so there wouldn't be a need for the Salvation Army.

Unfortunately we live in an imperfect world with a lot of poverty and disasters. Gay rights matter, a lot. Fighting censorship matters, a lot. But feeding, clothing and sheltering homeless families, our friends and neighbors, is a more urgent and critical matter. A kid who doesn't have a place to live or food to eat isn't worried about what happens to Bella in the next installment of Twilight. I wish poverty (and it's affiliated issues like food, shelter, clothing and healthcare) wasn't such a widespread and urgent issue. I wish poverty was so insignificant, affecting such a tiny portion of the world populous, that there would be no need for charitable agencies.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where we could honestly say, "C'mon, do we really need the Salvation Army? I mean, geeze, everyone in the world has a safe place to live, healthy food to eat, clean water, climate appropriate clothing, and access to healthcare and education. Why do we even need the Salvation Army anymore?" I hope I live to see that day. And on that day I hope my gay friends are married and we're sitting around discussing the latest books about wizardry, religion, politics and sex and laughing about the silly old days when music came with a warning attached to it.

Until then, my change is going in the Salvation Army bucket. I'll shop at the Salvation Army Thrift Stores not because I'm unemployed and poor, but because I want to shop there. In spite of what people say about eBay, I contend that the Salvation Army Thrift Stores are the world's biggest garage sale except the money goes to charity instead of funding someone's new couch. (And seriously, I've found some fantastic vintage vinyl at Salvation Army stores.) 

And I will not perpetuate discrimination, religious persecution and hatred.









*My local Salvation Army does not accept toy guns of any kind - Nerf, water, potato...no guns or weapons whatsoever. And I recently perused the book shelves at a Salvation Army Thrift Store and saw some Twilight books there. A couple years ago I found a treasure trove of early '70s vinyl including Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies, which, by the way, Walmart will not stock the CD version.

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