Ginger Selfies

Quentin Crisp. Queen Elizabeth I. And me.

Last week I joined the ranks of fabulous faux redheads, thanks to Robin LaFleur at Hair Etc. in Northampton.

I’ve always been entranced by red hair. From second grade through freshman year in high school, I had a ridiculous crush on a boy several grades ahead of me, about whom I knew hardly anything, except that he had a lion-esque mane of coppery curls. Before that, when I was four, I wanted to marry my grandmother’s marmalade cat (who turned out to be female).

So I figured, a little peroxide wouldn’t hurt my brain function in any noticeable way.


(Google Images approximation of Sidney the cat. I should only look so good. Source here.)

The two-hour process began with application of the “head condom”, a very tight rubber cap to protect my underlying natural color while highlights were applied to selected strands of hair. Said strands were picked up off my scalp, with a device resembling an awl, to make them protrude through holes in the cap, like so:


Can you hear my eyebrows squeaking?

Next, Robin painted peroxide on the top strands to lift off the dark color, then encased them in a baggie to bake under the dryer.


The production budget for “Ride of the Valkyries” was low this year.


Reading “The Goldfinch” at the salon like the aesthete I am.

Just when I was realizing why I don’t perform femininity more often, Robin turned off the Shake-n-Bake. This is what I look like as a blonde:


Dr. Frankenstein, we have a problem with the electricity.

My head was repainted with the red dye and left to soak for 25 minutes en plein air, followed by a refreshing shampoo. I went home to terrify my family with my new fashion personality.


Hell yeah, I’m gonna finish my novel.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Brews ‘n’ Pews


National Public Radio ran a story last week headlined, “To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer“. A variation of the coffeehouse Christian groups that youth pastors have been trying for some time now, these mainline Protestant churches in Fort Worth, TX and Portland, OR are staging meet-ups in brew pubs and serving beer at hymn sing-a-longs, in hope of attracting seekers who are turned off by the formality of Sunday morning services.

…Pastor Philip Heinze and his Calvary Lutheran Church sponsor Church-in-a-Pub, whose formal name is the Greek word, Kyrie.

Some patrons are understandably confused. They come in for a brew and there’s a religious service going on in their bar. They expected Trivia Night and they get the Holy Eucharist.

“I tell ’em, it’s a church service,” says bartender Les Bennett, “And they’re, like, ‘In a pub?’ And I’m, like, yeah. Some of ’em stick around for trivia, some of ’em take off, some of ’em will hang out and have another pint or two.”

That’s one of the objectives: A guy sits at the bar nursing a beer, he overhears the Gospel of Luke, he sees people line up to take bread and wine, he gets curious. Phil Heinze says pub church has now become an official — if edgy — Lutheran mission…

There you have it: The King of Kings meets the King of Beers. This Blood’s For You.

I suppose I shouldn’t rush to judgment just because beer gives me hot flashes. After all, my main spiritual fellowship these days takes place at my church’s Wednesday night potluck. The way to my soul is through my stomach. Maybe beer will be the plus factor that motivates someone to attend a Christian activity, just as our friend Lee’s steak au poivre lures us out to the parish hall on dark November nights.

Joking aside, though, we’re not really there for the food. We’ve created a supportive, intimate circle of Christians who share basic values and help one another stay in touch with God’s presence. If that wasn’t happening, I’d just go to a restaurant.

So I’m skeptical that churches need to become more “approachable” by slipping religion in as background music to a good party. To the contrary, we should be articulating what we offer that can’t be found elsewhere. With the waning of social and familial pressure to maintain religious affiliation, churches have been thrown into competition with many other sources of fellowship and life guidance, both secular and religious. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if we’re willing to take up the challenge of clarifying our mission.

I also see special problems with organizing such events around alcohol, as compared to casseroles. I go to church activities for safe community and insight into urgent questions of existence. Alcohol is not exactly designed to clarify the mind. It interferes with emotional self-regulation, which its fans might consider a feature, but which surely lowers the probability that Beer & Hymns Night will be more safe from unskillful speech than the average secular get-together.

The alcohol industry makes tremendous profits from selling the fantasy that drinking leads to popularity, companionship, and contentment. (Our local brewery’s slogan even spells this out: Peace, Love, Beer. And the greatest of these is beer…?) I’m not saying that churches should all be temperance warriors, but we shouldn’t be corporate tools, either. Rather than marketing gimmicks aimed at hipsters, let’s find out what people really need for the well-being of their souls, and give it to them.

Although “Holy Eucharist Trivia Night” also sounds pretty awesome. Who knows the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation? Winner gets a free glass of water. What Jesus does with that is up to him.

Sunday Random Songs: Scrooge Edition


All the forced good cheer and baby Jesus kitsch on the airwaves this time of year grates on my barren little heart. If you agree, you may enjoy these seasonal travesties that you’re not likely to hear in Macy’s anytime soon.

John Denver, “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)
This is not supposed to be funny. But I am a sinner.

 

South Park, “Christmas Time in Hell”
String up the lights and light up the tree, we’re damned for all eternity!

Kinsey Sicks, “God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians”
From their hit album, “Oy Vey in a Manger

Suggest your own favorites in the comments box!

Signs of the Apocalypse: Unusual Materials Challenge


Lady Gaga may look fashionable in a dress made of meat, but certain images don’t translate well into every medium. Exhibit A: this collection of balloon-sculpture crucifixions at Matthew Paul Turner’s showcase of Christian absurdities, Jesus Needs New PR.

I’m sure glad they included that loincloth – wouldn’t want to risk any phallic symbols here.

Poemize the Patriarchy!



I’ve just begun reading Kathryn Joyce’s expose of evangelical doctrines about female submission, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. Simultaneously, I discovered the Random Poem Generator. The “poemized” ad copy for Vision Forum’s Heroines of Christ’s Kingdom Paper Doll Set reveals some interesting subtexts:

Doll voices inside list,
catalog mullins site bluebehemoth!
jackson two switch wrist,
an adams as behemoth.

Christ stock adelina six,
daughters stock older paper.
eliza shopping women fix,
calvin paper for taper.

Online god online six,
retail outlet reviews stock.
dolls wives anne fix,
regular jackson vision cock.


Mark Driscoll’s Guide to Nutrition for Real Men


Megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has been attracting heat in the blogosphere for a Facebook status update in which he invited people to make fun of “effeminate anatomically male worship leaders”. Driscoll is known for his over-the-top macho pronouncements, which he justifies as necessary to attract men to the church, but which his detractors describe as bullying of non-gender-conforming men and women.

For instance, he’s said that liberal Christians “recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in his hair”, which must be wrong because “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (See Dianna Anderson’s theologically astute takedown of this remark on her blog Be the Change.)

When former National Association of Evangelicals leader Ted Haggard’s longstanding relationship with a male prostitute was exposed, Driscoll said it was the responsibility of pastors’ wives to keep them from falling into such temptations:

“It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.” (Quote courtesy of Huffington Post)

With this as context, I am pleased to share this satire written by a friend who wishes to be identified only as “Chorisande Davita”. My friend is a devout, contemplative woman with quite conservative views on the Bible and sexuality. She’s also passionate about naming and stopping abuses of power in the church.


Mark Driscoll’s Guide to Nutrition for Real Men

by Chorisande Davita

Transcription from YouTube video . . .

Mark Driscoll adjusts his headset, and leans his meaty forearms on a lectern. His adam’s apple bulges beneath a necklace made from a strip of leather, and his furrowed brow and flushed face are ominous signs of what’s to come. Either that, or signs of high blood pressure and a suppressed urge to scratch the scrot rot on camera. He clears his voice and fairly shouts:


“It’s been brought to my attention that there’s stuff circulating on the Web where some poser’s pretending to be me and telling dudes about the diet of real men. He supposedly claims that fries and ketchup are the only masculine vegetables that I say a real man should eat. That’s a damn lie! The God-fearing farmers in this country work hard to make a living, and I’m not some pinko pansy who won’t support them! There are a lot of vegetables that men can eat, and I’m about to tell you which. So stop accusing me of being unpatriotic!

“First off. There are absolutely no fruits a man can eat. If you eat them, you’re not a real man. There are no exceptions. So stop asking. So. Stop. Whining. . . Wash a vitamin C down with your stout or something, but stop crying about it. Suck it up and get a masculine perspective! Elijah ate locusts, you ninnies! I’ve put a lot of thought into the matter of masculine vegetables, and I want you men to pay careful attention. Women, you need to listen as well so you can be blessed wives and not disrespect your man with what you’re cooking and serving him. Single women, pay careful attention if you want a manly husband and want to know how to recognize one.

“Since fries and ketchup were mentioned, let’s start there. Some say tomatoes are a fruit, but I say they’re not, so that’s that. Mark Driscoll says they’re a vegetable, dammit. Ketchup is a masculine vegetable, the poser got that right, but there are other tomatoes which are OK–heirloom and beefsteak varieties are okay, but only if they’re sliced thickly. And preferably sitting on top of a burger. A real burger, one made out of beef! By the way, watch out for those 5 dollar foot long meatball subs–they’re mostly soy, those lying bastards. I’ve half a mind to sue those pansies, but there’s not enough cash in the coffers right now. Anyway, tomatoes. Sissy varieties like cherry and grape are out! Got that? Can you imagine Peter and Paul tucking into a plate of baby lettuce with tiny grape tomatoes? No!!!

“Fries are very manly. Tater tots are not. Home fries are okay, hash browns are not. Other forms of potatoes can be okay, depending. Scalloped potatoes are for low-rise, stove-pipe jeans wearing wimps who floss their teeth and get out of the shower to take a piss. Baked potatoes are okay, but only if they’re sitting on a plate next to a steak that’s at least 12 ounces. On their own, you have to be careful. With chili on top they might be okay, but you have to exercise discernment and insist on chili with chunks of beef, not bits of mystery meat. Topped with broccoli and cheese sauce, no way . . .”

There is some kind of disturbance in the audience. Mark quickly looks out over the people and someone shouts,


“But what about cheese in a can?!”

Mark blinks thoughtfully and says, “OK, dude, spray cheese in a can is definitely masculine. But none of that gruyere or brie or swiss crap in a sauce, okay? Think like a man. Where was I? Baked potatoes. Sprinkled with minced chives–do I even need to say?”

Laughter and snorts of derision throughout the audience . . .

“So, let’s try to get through the rest of this quickly. Onions and peppers–these can be okay if they’re balanced or outweighed by the amount of meat. You know–fajitas, pot roast, manly meals like those. Greens are real tricky. Watch out! Mesclun is not for dudes, lettuce and spinach are not for dudes. Popeye was part of a conspiracy to promote the convenience of canned goods while giving the appearance of masculinity–don’t take the bait. Frisee, endive, leeks, and arugula are for chickified, hanky-carrying, herbal tea-sipping eunuchs who’d be too afraid to scratch their spuds if they had any. Kale, mustard and some other greens can be masculine, provided they’ve been sufficiently stewed with ham hocks.

“Corn is only okay if you’re eating it on the cob at a fourth of July cookout with a sufficient amount of fireworks and flags on display, and everyone there can see that you’ve got serious animal flesh on the rest of your plate. But be very careful to watch what you’re doing with your little fingers while you’re handling the cob! I don’t ever want to see some dude from my church holding a corn cob with his pinkys sticking out–if I do, you’ll be mocked at the next leadership meeting and called out on our next retreat. Those baby corns they put in Asian food? No way. If you’re eating out, let your daughter pick them out of your Chinese food. If the wife brings them to the table, send it back and remind her of your headship.

“Cukes are not to be consumed. They’re for alternative purposes–see This is Spinal Tap. Carrots are very feminine, and not for real men to eat. Exercise careful discernment here. Like, if you’re outside building a snowman with your kids, of course make sure they see you doing the heavy lifting. When it’s time for the nose, have your wife hand your daughter the carrot and then lift her up so she can put it in and no one sees you handling a carrot, dude.

“Squash is masculine only if eaten on Thanksgiving in front of the game and there’s enough poultry on your plate to warrant fiber tablets with the pie. Don’t even think about squash filled ravioli with sage leaves and brown butter, dude. Only if you want people to think you wear lace anklets, push back your cuticles, use body wash, and get your chest waxed. (Guffaws throughout the audience.) Hey, you know it would happen. This is why you came! It’s why you brought a friend. I’m entertaining, I know it, it’s a gift, what can I say. . .

“Real men should stay away from anything that can be broken into florets, described with the word “nibblets,” or prefaced by the adjectives “baby,” or “sweet.” Legumes are complicated. Eating someone’s liver with fava beans and a little Chianti was cool for Hannibal, but you need to be cautious about what you pair with your choice of liver. (Groans and deep chuckles from the crowd.) Now, beans mixed with lots of pork or beef is good, honest, masculine food. Popping edamame is for incense sniffing castrati who order curdled cream and scones and wish they could wear their Spanx in public. I could punch those skipping hippies in the throat! Put down that can of mousse and listen to me, you long-haired gardenia-scented fuschia-wearing ponce! Eat like a man! Be a man! Don’t act like being a Christian means singing love songs to Jesus and noshing on sprouts! It doesn’t! This makes me so mad . . .

Driscoll’s voice fades under the sound of loud rap music, while images from a butcher shop flash to the pulse of the beat . . .


Signs of the Apocalypse: Heartbreak Hotel


This item from the Springwise trend-watching newsletter qualifies for our Apocalypse Watch as yet another attempt to give a cheery (and moneymaking) facelift to what ought to be a solemn event:

For most separating couples, divorce is a process they would like to get out of the way as quickly as possible. Often, however, divorces can become lengthy and drawn out, as couples negotiate through reams of legal documents and calculate the repercussions. Hoping to speed up the process and provide all the assistance one could require, we recently came across Dutch Heartbreak Hotel.

The Hotel service promises to be able to care of a couple’s divorce over the course of one single weekend. For EUR 2,499, the separating husband and wife are booked into separate luxury five star hotels while the company handles all the paperwork — providing financial consultants, lawyers, and even child psychologists as part of its service. On the last day of the weekend, the necessary documentation is completed and signed by the couples, and the divorce is handed over to the courts.

Hotels are already known for
other amusements incompatible with marriage, such as co-ed business trips and pay-per-view movies, so I suppose they just wanted to capture maximum profits from this scenario. Wonder if you get a discount for booking your wedding and divorce as a package deal?


Signs of the Apocalypse: imachristian.com


Summer is here, and the smell of roasting meat offers enterprising Christians new opportunities to start those all-important conversations over your backyard barbecue. The imachristian.com store’s “Gifts for Father’s Day” page offers this lovely apron that shows which side of the grill you’re on. What better way to impress upon your guests the urgency of escaping hellfire?

For those of you with a mote in your eye, the fine print says “(“It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma” – Ex 29:18, NIV)”

If Father’s Day is not your thing, other designs include “I’m a Christian Empty Nester Single”. Sounds like that person needs a hug.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Hello Hangover


We’ve seen kid-sized stripper poles and thongs for tots, but the campaign to turn Romper Room into the Champagne Room isn’t complete without the right beverages. This item comes to us from the e-newsletter of the Marin Institute, a nonprofit that raises awareness about the social costs of alcohol and the marketing of addictive substances to youth.

Hello Kitty—the iconic cartoon image gracing thousands of children’s toys and clothing throughout the globe—is now promoting alcoholic beverages. Wine with names like “Hello Kitty Angel” (white) and “Hello Kitty Devil” (red) will be available for purchase in May.

The Rosé label features Hello Kitty in a little black dress, winking and holding a glass of wine. The “Devil” and “Angel” wine labels show Hello Kitty with a devil’s tail and angel wings, respectively, and heart-shaped tattoos on each of their behinds. The Brut Rose label displays Hello Kitty in a pink onesie with hearts, and has a special prize hanging on each bottle: a little Hello Kitty pendant on a chain.

Italian winemaker Tenimenti Castelrotto, along with with Camomilla, an Italian fashion company, collaborated to sell the wine with the Hello Kitty brand worldwide. Their rationale for this campaign: “Hello Kitty is not just for children. She is a recognized cult fashion icon among teenagers and adults around the world.”

Visit the Hello Kitty Wine website to see Kitty dodging paparazzi and hitting the sauce. Recipes include “Feline Fizz”, which sounds like an idea that should never have left the litterbox.

Drink responsibly, kids.

Signs of the Apocalypse: French Execs Pay to Be Kidnapped


The latest Springwise weekly business trends e-newsletter profiled this new form of entertainment for thrill-seeking Frenchmen:

“Kidnapping”, “Manhunt” and “Go-Fast Adventure” are all among the standard services Ultime Réalité offers, but it’s open to special requests. Through the company’s simulated kidnapping packages, for instance, the participant is abducted without warning—after leaving a restaurant, say, or in the supermarket parking lot. Paying “victims” are then bound, gagged and imprisoned for four or 10 hours (depending on the scenario they choose), allowing them to experience the terror of the real thing. Additional elements such as ransom, escapes and helicopter chases can also be involved. Manhunt packages, meanwhile, can last either one or two days, with the option to play the role of either hunter or prey. Then there’s the Go-Fast Adventure, where participants take the role of a drug dealer smuggling cargo on the high seas. Finally, a recently added “extreme” package allows clients to wake up on an autopsy table in a morgue, surrounded by corpses and body bags. Pricing on a basic kidnap package is EUR 900.

What if a staged kidnapping turns into a real one? How would you know? I see potential for
a great action movie here. (If you use this idea and make a million dollars, please spend it on copies of Swallow.)