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Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'm being published in a thing with some famous funny people

Monkeybicycle Issue Five, guest-edited by Eric Spitznagel


$12.00
Click here to preorder

Looking for something to read after you put the kids to bed? Then Issue Five of Monkeybicycle is for you. It's bursting at the seams with humor that is not for innocent minds or faint hearts.

Our fifth issue is filled with the kind of humor that would make any good man blush, and it's delivered from some of the best in the business. Just take a look at this killer line-up:

Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Myfanwy Collins, Johnny Ryan, Davy Rothbart, Wendy Molyneux, Aaron Burch, Bret Scott, Elizabeth Ellen, Matt Craig, Timothy Bennet, Pete Grosz, Liliana V. Blum, Katie Schwartz, Tyler Smith, Michael Frissore, Antonius Wiriadjaja, Amy Guth, J. Marcus Weekley, Matt Summers-Sparks, C. J. Kershner, Ben Tanzer, Jennifer Dziura, Peter Bognanni, Charlie Anders, David Hart, Noria Jablonski, Bob Fingerman, Vince LiCata, Jack Pendarvis, Christopher Monks, and an introduction by David Cross.

p.s. - That cover graphic actually depicts a creepy old dude using tweezers to remove a Wonder Woman doll's underwear, and then smelling the underwear. This is in no way a reference to my Wonder Woman thing.

Jen and Carolyn in LA (long-lost envelope edition)

I am going through some old paperwork, and found an envelope from the Ford Great Escape, an experience I blogged about during which comedian Carolyn Castiglia and I were flown out to LA by the Ford Motor Company to drive Ford Escapes and get wined and dined, following which we came back home and blogged about it a lot (photo by Carolyn, via timer).

Carolyn and I were in the car and she was driving, and I said something she thought was funny, and she demanded I write it down, so it ended up on this envelope. The conversation reads:
Jen: It's a system of checks and balances. While you represent unfettered creativity, I represent German efficiency.

Carolyn: Are you German?

Jen: No, i just felt like I needed an adjective.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

sit-ins against fascism and folk songs against autocracy

So, Saudi women's rights activists are campaigning to lift the ban on driving for women (link from Feministing).

They are doing this by collecting names on a petition ... and presenting the petition to the king.

I think the very idea of a "petition" implies a context of democratic government, one in which the collected opinions of many individual citizens are presumed to mean something, both morally, because the citizens are the government, as well as quantitatively, in terms of the number of votes an elected representative stands to lose by failing to meet the petition's demands. In other words, a petition implies that someone has reason to give a shit.

Now, certainly, the women's rights activists themselves don't have a whole lot of options, so I don't mean to denigrate their attempts. However, presenting a petition to the king is sort of like staging a boycott against your slave trafficker; there are larger, more systemic problems here.

I'm not sure feminism can even mean much of anything in the context of a non-constitutional* monarchy; the arguments for it generally proceed from an understanding of natural rights for all humans.

*The Saudi monarchy claims that the Quran is their constitution; I think Jefferson would find this idea somewhat wanting.

last Virginia photo

In addition to the pandas, and Onancock, I'd like to present this:


Yes, a taxidermist had a little fun (in case you can't quite see, it also has duck feet). I took this photo inside a Maryland seafood restaurant where I was waiting for a to-go order of a crabcake sandwich and hush puppies.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Go to Onancock! Try not to step in suspicious puddles.

On my recent drive to Virginia and back, I took this photo:


Onancock! For those of foggy Biblical memories, Onan is the fellow who lends his name to "onanism," a word for masturbation, and his story is the basis of many modern-day Christians' condemnation of the practice. Of course, the Bible says no such thing, but that's not terribly surprising.

Allow me to digress a moment and talk about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the main "anti-gay" tale in the Bible.
In brief, Lot is a good guy who lives in the wicked city of Sodom. Two strange men come into town and Lot offers them a place to stay. He doesn't know it, but the men are angels. When a gang-raping mob comes to Lot's door, demanding to rape the angels, Lot responds by instead offering his virgin daughters to be gang-raped. The angels finally step in and blind the potential rapists, so that they become tired trying to find the door to Lot's house. God then decides to destroy the people of Sodom, saving only Lot and his family, and giving them the arbitrary requirement that they shouldn't look back. Lot's wife does look back, and she is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters survive, although that must've been awkward, considering that Lot had just recently offered his daughters to a gang-raping mob.
Just for kicks, here is a children's version of the story:
"Lot! We want to meet your guests," [the mob] shouted from outside the door. "Send them out so we can say hello." But they were lying. They really wanted to have fun doing terrible things to Lot’s guests.
"Have fun doing terrible things" makes it sound kind of sexy, doesn't it?

Anyway, this is the story from which much of the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality comes.

In a helpful act of exegesis, allow me to suggest several other, more appropriate morals to the story:
  1. Rape is bad!

  2. In the case of "gay rape," it's really the "rape" part that's the problem.

  3. Fathers who offer their daughters to be gang-raped by mobs should hardly be rewarded by "God."

  4. If for some terrible reason you are forced to either turn over your daughters or some strangers to a gang-raping mob, you should probably turn over the strangers. In Lot's case the strangers happened to be angels, but Lot didn't know that. Ergo, see #3 above.

  5. Rapists deserve to be blinded by magic.

  6. Even if you aren't gay, "God" might turn you into a pillar of salt for an arbitrary reason.
(Religioustolerance.org offers both liberal and conservative perspectives on this story. The site also makes the fine point that if the entire gang-raping mob had been gay, it wouldn't have made much sense for Lot to even offer up his daughters in the first place; additionally, the site points out that, since women married at quite a young age, Lot's "virgin daughters" probably would have been around 14 years old).

And now, back to the story of Onan:
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him. And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord: wherefore he slew him also.
Boy, that God just smites like a bitch!

Side note: "Er" shares a name (well, minus an additional "r") with this Mooninite, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force:


Anyway, Onan wasn't masturbating; he was having sex with his widowed sister-in-law for the purpose of getting her pregnant, but then pulling out. Which just seems rude.

(Of course, he had a logical reason -- Tamar was the widow of his older brother, so succeeding in producing an heir that would be "counted" as his brother's would mean that that son would be the family's firstborn, rather than a son Onan might have later that would be counted as his own. Incidentally, the story gets weirder, as after Onan's death, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute to get Er and Onan's father, Judah, to impregnate her, and from her illegitimate twins ultimately come David, Solomon, and Joseph, foster-parent of Jesus).

If Onan had had enough mojo to impregnate Tamar, keep his own wife (had he had one) as constantly pregnant as possible so as to produce soldiers for Israel, and also masturbate a bit on the side, it seems we wouldn't have had a problem. No need for half of Salt Lake City to tie their jerk-off hands to the bedpost at night.

Anyway, "Onancock" is a hilarious name for a small Virginia town. (It is, of course, a Native American name, in this case meaning "foggy place." The official town website is careful to indicate that the name is pronounced "oh NAN cock").

The Eastern Shore of Virginia also has a small town called "Assateague," which is neither here nor there.

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