Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Samhain, in Irish Gaelic, is actually the word for "November". Kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

It was also the word used for the month of the Celtic calendar--there was a festival that marked the end of summer and celebrated the harvest. It also marked one of the sabbat feasts in the Wiccan wheel of the year (the opposite on the wheel is Beltane, which is the Wiccan celebration of life). The modernized version of this celebration is what we now call All Souls Day, or "Halloween".

So indeed, Samhain, or Halloween, did begin as a pagan holiday of sorts. I'd celebrate, too, when the village turned out a good crop and was able to ensure everyone would be fed through the winter. They had every reason in the world to party; the harvest was literally a triumph of life over death. This was the time to take stock of herds, grain supplies, decide which animals were to be slaughtered so that both the people and the rest of the livestock could survive the winter. It's still a custom observed by farmers and professionals in husbandry today.

Samhain Eve in Scots and Irish Gaelic takes place on October 31, during the final harvest. This is the Oidhche Shamnha, the name still used for the modern day version of Halloween.

I mention this in dissertation because, as a descendant of those hardy folk, it rankles when people refer to Samhain as a Satanic holiday, or a holiday celebrated by witches, ie, "devil worshipers". It's not at all accurate, and it certainly isn't fair. Anyone who characterizes it as such is woefully uninformed, and anyone who practices Samhain in that vein is abominably blasphemous about the true meaning of the holiday--and of "witches" in general. True Witches are not devil-worshipers, by the way. If they are committed, honest devotees of the craft, they celebrate the earth and its bounty, its power and its beauty, and revere and hold in high esteem the Creator who made it all.

Some of my ancestors were hung or stoned when they moved to the New World for "speaking in tongues" or for using "questionable" herbs in medicinal practice. Well, most of them were midwives who learned herbal lore from their mothers and grandmothers, and most of them spoke Gaelic. It's a strange-sounding language, I'll grant, and is virtually unlearnable to anyone who didn't grow up speaking it. Ignorance bred fear in the hearts of those who didn't bother asking questions. So people were killed for honoring their heritage. Incidentally, so were the Native Americans, but that's another post.

That ignorance and fear still exists, and I can't help but be astounded at the level of vilification and judgment people hurl at what they don't understand. You build a bonfire at Samhain and some of these nutjobs will say you're enacting a Satanic ritual and are sacrificing black cats to the Dark Prince. Look, Satan doesn't want black cats, trust me. He could care less about that shit; on the scale of his ambitions, cats don't really cause a blip on his radar. He's got bigger things on his mind.

The word Bonfire derives its etymology from Bonefire. Villagers were said to have cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames--cattle having a prominent place in the relationship between man and the Creator. In your Judeo-Christian lore, as well as the Gaelic, people were constantly sacrificing livestock as a gesture of thanksgiving and prayer. Moses did it. So did Joshua and Jacob and Abraham. I defy anyone to label them Devil Worshipers.

With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers would put out all the other fires. Then each family, in a solemn ceremony, lit their hearths from the common flame of the huge bonfire--kind of like we do today with the Olympic Flame. This bonded each family in the village together as a whole, uniting in the common struggle of survival and celebrating their prosperity. It was community relations, in short; an act of solidarity.

After the Roman adoption of the holiday (usually celebrated in May) and the advent of Christianization, the November festival of Samhain eventually became All Hallows Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day followed on November 2nd. Both evolved into All Hallows Eve on October 31, and finally reached its present incarnation as the secular "Halloween" that we know today.

Samhain is still observed in Celtic culture today, and it is a wonderful affirmation of life, nature, and the cycle of life and death. It is not a bloodthirsty ritual of Darkness; nor is it blasphemous or even slightly profane.

I consider myself to be a bit of a polytheist, I suppose. I respect and often agree with the beliefs expressed in Christianity, Bhuddism, Islam, and Judaism, among others, and admire those who have the conviction of deep faith in those beliefs. However, I think that there are quite likely many roads to God, Jehovah, Allah, the Creator--or Big Daddy--whatever we call him (or her, or it). I'm not sure I believe that there is just one religion or belief is the "One Way". Frankly, I think it might be just a wee bit arrogant to assert such a thing; how can any human being know the Mind of God? How can I condemn someone for believing something I don't, or vilify them for the same thing? Who died and made me God? If you read your Old Testament, you find out that people got smacked down big time by Big Daddy when they started thinking that way. All I know is that I don't know everything, and I'm not going to. I'll still be asking questions on the day I die.

Sliante o dha dhuit--Happy Samhain, and Happy Halloween. This is the beginning of Winter. Harvest that which you have planted, celebrate it, and share it. May we all emerge together a brighter, stronger, and happier community in the Spring!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sweat and Sweets

Sorry I haven't posted the last couple of days; I'm working on a particular post that I really want to get right. A pal of mine and I were having a discussion about the subject over the weekend, and it got me thinking. So bear with me; eventually I'll get into the swing of this blogging thing.

In other news, my sister went down South to our hometown and is visiting friends and relatives. I wish I could have gone with them, but right now it's just impossible. I'm in-between clients at the moment, and am looking round and pitching new ones, so I can't afford to be away. Winter is the toughest--and therefore--the most important time for me working-wise.

I hope I get a couple of good contracts before too long. One of the things I love most about the holidays is having the money to buy gifts and bake a bunch of goodies. I bake cookies, brownies, make fudge, and generally turn my kitchen into a haven the Keebler elves would love. Then I package them up into gift tins and give them out to friends. If I could afford to, I'd buy everyone I know and love a Christmas or Hanukkah gift, but of course I can't. Baking is my way of showing I care, and they really seem to like getting the sweet stuff. And boy, does my house smell wonderful when I do that. Any chocoholic would go into paroxysms of ecstasy just by stepping through the door.

Speaking of friends and family--I know some of you have stopped by the blog. See that line down below that says "Comments"? Click on the sucker and leave me a note once in awhile, you goobers!

Elections in about a week. There is weepage in the GOP. GO VOTE!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Blogging Breakdowns

Aha! AHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!! I did it! The Technical Trolls did not defeat me. I managed to put a Link List up! Woohoo!

Okay, my uncle helped me through what was truly a hair-pulling, profanity-laden hour of angst while I tried to figure out just what the hell I was doing wrong. You know, I'm a fairly educated, well-read, well-spoken woman, but nothing in this world makes me feel more infantile than HTML code. During moments such as these, Forrest Gump is my soul brother. And he's the smarter one.

At any rate, once Unca shepherded me patiently through the briar patch of writing links, I set gleefully to building my list (thanks, Unca!). It doesn't take all that much to entertain me these days, and writing the links was truly a pleasure once I could see I was doing it correctly. I also had to change the template of my blog, as you see. I kinda like this a little better. It suits my personality more than the previous one. Then again, I'm sure I'll change it every so often, just to keep things interesting.

He also taught me how to link text--at least, I hope he did. This is my first attempt. Keith Olbermann is my hero. (You might want to use Internet Explorer in order to access the link.) One of the few people who is ballsy enough to say what most of us are thinking, and who has the venue for gloriously venting his spleen with scathingly erudite, cogent, and brilliant finesse. What I'd give to see him corner Shrub in a small room with no teleprompters.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Archaeology and Inventory

Well, today looked promising--for a brief space of time. It was sunny this morning for about an hour, and then WHAM--dark, foreboding, moody grey mounds of clouds came rolling in. What is this? Oh, yeah...that's right...winter's coming.

I need to find a sugar daddy who gives me an allowance to go to Italy every year between October and April. I'd be a much nicer person to be around. Mostly because I'd be eating better food and drinking a heck of a lot more wine.

Haven't posted the last couple of days because I've been trying to get my household in order. I do this twice a year: a full, top-to-bottom, inside-out overhaul and cleaning of my house. This means that each room is minutely examined, cleaned, disinfected, mopped, swept, and vacuumed. I go through all of my clothing, bathroom items, food, and papers, and decide what to keep and what to give or throw away. It's an arduous, tedious, frustrating project, but if I didn't do it, I think I'd be buried under the flotsam of my life within six months, and no one would ever find me again.

For instance, my closet and bureaus. It's appalling how many clothes I have and never wear. I have two full bureaus, plus a good-sized walk -in closet, chockerblock full of garments that will never touch my body again. I've gained fifteen pounds in the last year and can't get most of the slacks further than mid-thigh. So I inventory all of my clothing and force myself to get rid of anything I haven't worn in the last six months to a year. Which is difficult, because being female, I will delude myself into thinking that I just might be able to fit back into those cute Ralph Laurens again, if I really try. And this is a complete lie. I'll never fit into those things again; that boat has sailed. If I tried to get back on it again, it would sink. Talk about Titanic.

It took a couple of hours, but at the end of it all, I had quite an impressive pile of defunct slacks, jeans, shirts, pullovers, and shoes, which I then separated into "trade" and "donate" piles. I felt like I was on a dig in Egypt--finding things I didn't even remember having or thought I'd lost forever. If Zahi Hawass ever needs a volunteer to scrape away at an underground tomb, I'm his girl. I've honed some skills. Donations went to Goodwill, I gave some cute outfits to a couple of girlfriends, and I traded the others with a secondhand clothing store I patronize frequently. At least I got some jeans and a pair of boots out of that, and didn't spend any money. This is what my mother would call "thrift". I'm in my mid-thirties, and I'm only now grasping the concept.

Now you have an idea of just how exacting this "overhaul" project of mine is. If you think the clothing inventory was intense, ponder for a moment doing that over an entire house. Hence, no posts for the last three days. I thrifted. I divested. I cleaned and scrubbed and inhaled so many cleaning fumes that I think I now know how the denizens of Studio 54 must have felt when they stumbled out into the cold, grey, New York dawn. It'll take me days to get the smell of Formula 409 and Bartender's Friend out of my socks.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Angels and Devils, Afghans and Books

It's a gloomy, rainy, overcast day here in the East--the kind of day that, no matter what time it is, it always feels like early morning. Days like this make me feel incredibly sluggish and sleepy. I'm completely uninterested in doing anything but curling up under one of my sister's hand-knitted afghans with a good book and a cup of tea, reading and dozing at my leisure.

An activity I must admit, I did indulge, but not before getting some work out of the way so I wouldn't feel like a total dilettante. Being an independent has its ups and downs: you work for yourself, so you get to pretty much dictate what hours you work and what your schedule will be. That's nice. I can work in my pyjamas if I want to and no one is the wiser.

The down side is, I'm my own boss.

I also have to make sure I stay disciplined enough not to bog down in a slovenly, self-gratifying morass of laziness. Which is hard for me, because I really am fundamentally incredibly lazy. But since I'm on my own, no one else is going to set times for me and tell me when I have to work--that's my responsibility. If I don't do it and stick with it, I don't get paid. Simple as that.

But Ohhhh, it was so tempting when I woke up this morning, to give in to the urge to get a ginormous mug of fresh, steaming coffee, tuck up under that afghan, and dive into the stack of books I just got from the library. Had the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Devil was whingeing, But it's Friday! You don't have any appointments, and no deadlines. What's one morning going to hurt? You can make it up over the weekend---knowing damn good and well that I probably won't make it up over the weekend at all--I've got too much housework to do, and besides that, weekends are the only time I can legitimately lay claim to my indulgences without guilt. The Angel was, ironically, the one who had to be the bad guy--cracking the whip and telling me to get off my ass and get to work.

Both of them annoy me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


When is it that celebrities and entertainers first get it in their heads that they're breathing a more rarified brand of oxygen than the rest of us No-Name paeons? I really would like to know when that particular gear in their brain kicks in and they start shouting the weary "Don't You Know Who I Am?" Do they experience some sort of cerebral chemistry change where a selective amnesia kicks in and they simply forget that at one time, they were also one of us No Names?

Madonna's adopting babies from Malawi, Angelina's adopting babies from every country, apparently, she seems to set foot in. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm all for giving an orphaned child a home. But you know, if I wanted to adopt a child, I'd have at least a two year wait on a list before I even got a chance to find a child to adopt. Not to mention the reams of paperwork, the endless background checks, psychological reviews, state reviews, and financial assessments. Granted, people like Madonna and Angelina don't have to worry about the money, but apparently they don't have to worry about waiting, either. Want a kid, Madge? Sure! Come over to Orphans R Us and we'll display a bunch of them for your viewing pleasure. Pick one. We don't mind. We'll even give you a discount.

While I state again that I'm a staunch supporter of adoption, I have a couple of questions: What's wrong with American children? Or even British children, seeing as Madonna is now an expat from Yankee country. There are millions of homeless, parentless, hungry children right here in these here United States that need a home and an education. Yet Madge and Ange seem to keep jetting off (their environmental rants notwithstanding, but that's another post) to third - world countries to load up on the latest specials.

My other question is: if you're adopting children to be philanthropic, fine. But why send out press releases about it? And don't tell me you're not. I lived and worked in the questionable army of Celebrityville for years, and I know that NOTHING of the I'm-just-trying-to-help variety is even contemplated before a well-worded announcement has been drafted. So shut up. If you want to be a benefactor, fine. What's the problem with doing it quietly, without accolades, and without ten thousand photographs and headlines being shoved in the rest of the world's collective face about how wonderful you are? That's not charity; that's vanity.

Lest you think that my outrage is directed solely at the Spotlight Adoption Club, here's another example: Wesley Snipes. News is today that he has been indicted for eight counts of tax fraud and faces up to thirty years in prison. Apparently he hadn't paid taxes in about six years and claimed bogus refunds. Cheeky! Maybe he was taking a stand agains the oppressiveness of government and his right to keep the money he worked his hands to the bone to earn.

That last part, in case you were wondering, was sarcasm.

Wesley Snipes makes ginormous millions of dollars for each sorry-ass film he puts out there--as do the myriad other kindred A-Listers in the biz. To be fair, I've worked on film shoots, and they can indeed be grueling, hard, and tedious work. They're not picnics in the park. So in principle, I don't blame entertainers for their resentment about having to give 40% of it back to the IRS--Hell, I don't like it either. I growl every time I get a paycheck or file my 1099's and have to write my own check and send it on its way. But get a grip, people.

I make considerably less money than Snipes. Most of us paeons do. I'd love to just conveniently "decline" to file or pay my taxes. Personally, I'm not at all happy with the way the bigwigs in Washington spend my money, and I sure as shit know that by the time I reach retirement age, the dough I've "contributed" to Social Security is gonna be goooone. But you know what? I pay it. Know why? Because if I don't, the IRS will do the exact same thing to me as what's now happening to Snipes. I'll be indicted and thrown into prison, because I don't have another ten million lying around to write the restitution check and pay for attorney fees. Of course Snipes won't be thrown in jail--he's an Olympian of a minor order, but an Olympian nonetheless.

There was so much bitching in Hollyweird when it was decreed that celebs had to pay taxes on the gift baskets they get at awards shows that it sounded for all the world like a bunch of whining six-year-olds. Those gift baskets are obscene; I've seen them. They can range in value anywhere from five thousand to thirty thousand dollars, packed full of prime booty such as cell phones, diamond earrings, Sidekicks, designer accessories, and high-end gift certificates. Most of us know that when we get a prize or gift of a certain value, we have to pay tax--even the lottery winners. Yet one actor had the gall to actually say that they'd been screwed on the gift basket tax. Look, sister, I wish I had your weekly net, because that alone would pay my annual expenses. You think you've been screwed???

Pile on top of all the above the crazy idiots who get on planes and gripe about their seats, accost hardworking flight attendants and call them names. Then add in for good measure Useless Personalities who drive drunk and never even lose their licenses. Stir in hissy fits when another Useless Personality can't go shopping in an exclusive boutique because they're closed for the day and won't reopen Just for Her. Presto, your Just Desserts have been served.

It's ridiculous. And yet it keeps happening, because people like that keep getting enabled--whether by the authorities, by the fans, or by their handlers. There's often such a blatant exhibition of entitlement from people that it's absolutely mind-boggling. If I had done any of the things in the above paragraph, I'd have been arrested. If' I had accosted a flight attendant, the Air Marshals would have hauled me in for questioning, and my family might not have seen me for a couple of weeks while Homeland Security went on a rampage checking to see if I was some kind of insurgent.

I've met actors--some famous, some not so much--who are actually generous, down-to-earth, approachable people. Those are the ones who haven't forgotten what it was like to be told "No". They're the people who remember scraping by for rent while they studied for their next audition, who went without cable so they could pay for the electric bill. Who can recall their first limousine, first comped hotel room, and First Class ticket with a sense of excitement and glee. They remember they're just lucky, that it could stop at any time, and that they aren't Anointed ones who simply deserve it.

Rant over. I'm now off to read People magazine.

By the Way: Happy Birthday, John Mayer!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Miracles, Television, and Missing Links

So I go to bed last night, after watching the truly engrossing History Channel presentation of "Building an Empire: Egypt", and then lay me down to sleep. Only I can't sleep. Every molecule of my epidermis is itching like crazy--although not all at once. One itch would start say, on my arm, and then after it goes away, another starts on my foot, and then after I give that a little scratch, yet ANOTHER starts on my shoulder. And on and on, and on it goes. I was twitching like a beached fish within ten minutes and cursing like a sailor. And I'm thinking, "What the hell?"

Well, I know what it is. Happens to me every year during a seasonal change--the barometric pressure, the dropping temperature--the moisture in my skin is drying out faster than a puddle in the Sahara. I've got to drink more water and quit sucking down so much coffee, or I won't get a decent night's sleep until May 2007. At least the History Channel special was fun.

I don't watch much network stuff--most of it seems to be that reality crap, and I couldn't give a flying fig newton about those. If I want to watch reality train wrecks, all I have to do is go down to the local bar. Any network stuff I watch consists mostly of the Today show in the mornings, MSNBC in the afternoons, and "House" and "Boston Legal" (James Spader! Heh.) My other television fare is mostly Discovery, Discovery Times, History Channel, Animal Planet, and National Geographic. Yeah, I know. I'm a nerd. At least you learn something interesting and useful on those shows, instead of watching people swap wives, eat bugs, or descend into utter depravity for the sake of the almighty buck. Again, all I have to do is go to the bar to see that stuff.

There was a great show that Discovery Times ran over the weekend as a rerun--I guess the original air was back in December. It was called "The Miracles of Jesus", and was hosted by a guy named Brock Gill. He's a Christian evangelist and a magician/illusionist. Sounds like a weird combination, I know, but actually, once you think about it, it's got logic. Rather than fire-and-brimstone preachifying to the masses, he entertains people while at the same time building allegory of the gospels into his show. I was impressed; that's creative. The other thing I liked is that he doesn't run all over the stage telling everyone they're all doomed to Hell or force his beliefs on them. Nor did he do that on the Discovery show. He put his beliefs on the shelf so that he could objectively investigate whether or not Jesus' miracles could have been real, or illusions. Cool. I like people who think, rather than just spout what they've been told.

If you happen to find the show on your TV lineup, it's worth a watch. Gill also has a great blog at http://blog.brockgill.com (I don't know how to put links in text yet), and you can buy the DVD of "Miracles" on his website, too.

Some of the other blogs I like and read regularly:

http://thesinkingfeeling.blogspot.com/ - the You Are Here blog, written by the inimitable Jean. Intelligent, excellently written with consistent dry wit, and often hysterical. She's had me almost spitting my coffee out on my keyboard in spasms of laughter.

www.reallivepreacher.com - I love this site. He's such a good writer, and a great storyteller.

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist - Another funny one. Incredibly wry, sometimes to the point of farce. Check out his evisceration of the truly execrable "Left Behind" series of books. If there's one thing I dislike more than pushy evangelism, it's BAD evangelism and worse writing, and he lays it out better than anyone.

www.perezhilton.com - The world's best gossip blog. I can't start my day without Perez.

www.wikipedia.com - Want to learn something? Go here. You'll edumacate yourself.

www.johnmayer.com - Because he's just that good.

Maybe one day I'll actually figure out how to link blogs instead of typing the URL out. Man, I'm really behind on this technology crap. I don't even own a Blackberry...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

No Excuses

Welcome to All That and...I'm new to the blogosphere and don't really have a clue what I'm doing, but I realized I've missed keeping a journal, and this is a new way of having one. As a writer, it's shameful that I don't write more, and thus this is a method by which I will have no excuses for slackery. Or if I come up with excuses, they'll sound less viable.

I'm a thirtysomething woman trying to make a living and keep ahead of the curve, and most days I manage to squeak by. Other days I think maybe it would have been a better idea to stay in bed and try again tomorrow. Some days I've actually done that, but not very often. You tend to miss things if you remove yourself for too long.

Anyway, this post won't be very long, as I'm thoroughly flummoxed about what to say. I'm sure that as time goes by, it'll be all but impossible to shut me up. I'll try to post at least three or four times a week, and I'll try to be interesting and amusing. However, if I've not had any chocolate, that might be a stretch.

Thanks for reading. Wish me luck.