A day late and a dollar short, still in the race, practicing the sport. The best laid plans of a woman with spice, change and twist like the roll of the dice. Still life finds her here with words to say, if she had her druthers, she'd have it her way..

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The time has come the Walrus said to talk of many things, of ceiling wax and sailing ships and cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.

Confessions of a Rageboy Addict
Friday, August 08, 2003  
Well heck it didn't work. I am trying to post my own picture editing and failing miserably. Try again.
8/08/2003 10:00:00 AM

8/08/2003 09:59:00 AM

Sunday, July 27, 2003  
Annie makes Time Mag Rag!!

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Annie Takes The Cake

And Eats It, TOO

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A woman with style and sleaze

enough to inspire an email list

into posting agian!

7/27/2003 01:01:00 AM

Monday, February 17, 2003  
All right, all ready!

Yes I did crash and burn for a few months. The hubby got laid off and I have been working furious overtime to make up for the lost income. Pain in the rear and everywhere else. But I have been reading other blog favorites when I could get a few free minutes. And speaking of free minutes, I have decided to take a few vacation days here to catch my breath and get a little RnR.

Think negotiation! Don't let the shrub on the hill wag us into war. He isn't worth the blood of our sons and daughters. Don't let him kill our children in his trumped up excuse for raping another counties oil reserves. Continue to work for peace.

2/17/2003 10:03:00 AM


2/17/2003 09:54:00 AM

Sunday, November 10, 2002  
Ok, for all of you one or two readers our there who are sure that I fell off the face of the planet and crash landed in some alien state, well maybe you'r right. Lunacy, all is lunacy and one must learn to laugh at one's own over seriousness with the world. And just who the hell is calling me at 4:16 in the morning? I've got another hour to sleep before I have to get up to go to work. My mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law are coming to visit this week. Don't expect to see anything from me till after this is over and i can laugh at it all. Ha, ha, ha, just the in-laws, no big deal, aaaauuuurrrrggghhhh.
11/10/2002 04:19:00 AM

Tuesday, September 10, 2002  
Something I recieved the other day

Dear Ms. Mason:

Thank you for taking the time to convey your thoughts about the police interaction with protestors during President Bush's August 22, 2002 visit to Portland.

Our city has a long history of peaceful protest, and I encourage this type of public expression and involvement. I have learned from experience that peaceful protests require that both demonstrators and police act responsibly.

I know that most of Thursday's demonstrators participated in the event with the goal of peacefully expressing their views. I also believe that the police acted with the best intentions in a very difficult situation.

Following normal Bureau protocol, an internal review of all actions related to the event is underway to determine what went right, and what went wrong, during Thursday's protest and what can be improved.

I have asked the Bureau to closely analyze the adequacy of the perimeter that was established around the Hilton Hotel and the decision to move police vehicles through an area where the crowd had already assembled.

I have also asked the Bureau to analyze the difficulties they encountered as a result of the refusal of event organizers to obtain a permit or communicate their plans with the police both prior to and during the demonstration. As you may already know, last year, the City Council removed the fees for permits that are required for events in the public right of way such as occurred last Thursday. This City Council policy is intended to encourage event representatives to coordinate police traffic management prior to these kinds of events. Despite these steps making it easier to obtain a street and sidewalk use permit, Thursday's protest organizers did not apply for one. City Council policy authorizes Police Incident Commanders to use their own best judgment in dealing with such unpermitted events.

One thing is sure. Our First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. These guarantees apply to all, whether attending a presidential reception or protesting his presence.

Again, thank you for taking the time to email me your concerns.

With warm regards,
Vera Katz

My very own reply. I hope we are still watching Portland to see what happens.

9/10/2002 11:39:00 PM

An egg off the ol' ovary

My daughter asked me yesterday about the new commercials on TV that depict a world where books, newspapers, and religious gatherings are banned or severly restricted. She asked me what they were about. I told her that I beleived that these were ads from groups protesting the so called Patriot Act that would abridge the guarenteed rights and privileges of the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting terrorism. She was very upset about what I told her. I sent her to several web sites to do some reading before I went off to work. When I came home, this is what she had written.

"I am Amelia Margaret Mason and I am 16 years old. I wrote this because I am worried about what the government is doing. I am too young to change things myself, but I hope that you who are reading this can do something about it. I am greatly concerned because I feel that from now on there is the possibility that the world that I will soon be entering will cease to be a free one.

What are the first things that came to mind when you ask someone my age why someone from another country would come here. They would probably say freedom of speech and freedom of religion. There are also many other things that make America special and different from other countries. I think that the terrorists do not like the freedom we have in our country or are some how jealous that they can’t have the same freedom. I think they do things like the atrocity of 9/11 because they think it could take our freedom away by scaring us.

That didn’t work on the citizens of the United States. But they scared the government. Now the government is scared enough to try to pass a bill called The Patriot Act. This act gives the president a lot of power to decide things without a vote. This may help some time, but I think it could lead to some very bad problems. From what I have hear and read the president is not really competent enough to make these kind of decisions properly by himself. From what I can tell he is more concerned with politics than the welfare and rights of the majority of the citizens of America. Also, this act takes away some of the most basic rights that we have: the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. Without these basic rights America would be like any other country that we fight against. In effect the government is carrying out the terrorists work for them.

I hope that the adults that read this can vote and try to stop this so that when my friends and I grow up we will have a country we can be proud of and happy in."

I was truely amazed. So much so that I felt it was important to let her share her opinion. I think I would have sworn yesterday morning that the only things on her mind were clothes, makeup, Pink, and the boy next door. I really enjoy being that wrong. What a kid.

9/10/2002 01:26:00 PM

Tuesday, August 27, 2002  
This is what I sent today to the Mayor of Portland, OR

I was going to direct this email to the Commissioner of Public Safety, but I see on the website that this position is vacant. Does this explain the pepper spraying of an infant by your police department at a peaceful protest rally?

I fully understand the need for crowd control, but under no circumstance whatsoever do I understand the assault by a police officer, in whatever situation, of a baby. This is sociopathic behavior of the lowest kind upon clearly unarmed, nonviolent persons in the legal, constitutional act of free speech and freedom of assembly.

This is a heinous act upon American citizens, American children, and American civil liberties. You and your police department should feel shame at the deepest level for such atrocities. I find the city of Portland, OR, and it's Department of Police, vested with protecting the safety of its citizens, to be in contempt of human dignity. The very least you should do is make apology and reparation to your citizens, the very people who create and support your jobs. I include your contemptuous "911" dispatchers who denied service to the people who had been pepper sprayed.

Freedom to hold dissenting opinion from government officials is still a protected right in this country, or is it?

Annie Mason (United States Citizen)

I am still outraged beyond belief.

8/27/2002 06:40:00 PM

I am about half way finished with the quilt but had to log back in

I haven't been tuned into the news this weekend so only just saw this article this morning when I logged on to blogsisters. I am a late middle aged woman appraching cronehood and I have seen many atrocities in my life, many creul and inhumane acts of violence against children in other countries, but this is on American soil. In this country we are promised the right of free speech and peaceful assembly. These are constitutional freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. I spent 3 years in the military defending these rights and these freedoms. Who DARES to take them away from citizens of these United States? The Portland Police Department needs to be held up to the light of day and remanded for such jack booted thruggery. Who DARES pepper spray a baby, FOR ANY REASON?!? I am a mother and a patriot and I say that anyone who deliberately harms children is the enemy.

8/27/2002 01:26:00 PM

Tuesday, August 20, 2002  
Will be out of touch for a while

Yes, to my fan out there (electric, swivel, 3-speed), I am on one of my occational, but very intense quilt fugues. I had the cutting finished up a few days ago, but overtime and shift schedule had me away from the sewing machine. Now I am back on days and have time to sit and spin. This is my 6th quilt top this year. I am making quilts for winter soltice gifts this year and have two more to go. The artist in me has found it's medium, it's genre and it is happy and content. It will just be a few days and I will be finished and be back up and commenting on the affairs of the world.

Oh, update on the school thing. It only lasted one day. Have to see where we go from here.

8/20/2002 09:29:00 PM

Monday, August 19, 2002  
First day of school

I got my baby off to school this morning. Ok, so she is 16 and not what you would call an infant, but she is my one, my only, my baby. She was dressed to kill, styling, and ready. In fact she did not sleep last night and at 6:30 this morning wanted me to get up and get ready. She was already dressed and had her make up on. I was lucky I found my jeans hanging on the end of the bed.

She had the nerve to tell me that doughnuts weren't a healthy breakfast while I had my mouth full at the doughnut shop. Hey, who is this kid?

I've got my fingers crossed. It's only the first day.

8/19/2002 10:04:00 AM

Friday, August 16, 2002  
Yes, yes, it's simply been ages

Working 16 hour shifts can get tiresome after a while. No time to wash out undies or smear on deoderant. I wonder if I smell as bad as I imagine or if the world sort of stinks this morning. I am too keyed up to sleep and too tired to do anything else so I think I will write. What a wonderful alternative.

Politics, sometimes I do and sometimes I do not understand.

I thought of standing on top of a building and looking down at the cars and seeing the old analagy to ants, but being in the building I had to think of mound building termites as well. I imagined looking around and the other buildings and wondering what well cared for over indulged queen was giviing orders and sopping up honey carried by millions of us worker drones. Are we programmed to such a live? Is it a hive mind that drives us to create hierarchy as we do? Is it instinct and genetics that decides which among us will be the soldiers, the drones, the workers, and the queens? I see the political insect so clearly in some of my co-workers. They literally live for the buzz of the political life. They gaurd the hive, who comes and who goes, how we work and what we do. It is amazing to see how busy they are into the business of others. The drones fawn over the boss so willingly. And of course there are the workers. I get tired of being a worker, but I don't know what I would do with myself otherwise.

In my paradise I am curled up with a mountain of good books on a mound of cushions surrounded by fresh food, cool drink and sweet background noise. I can finally finish a whole book at one sitting instead of being half way through a dozen books and rarely getting a chance to finish any. I would cuddle with my cats, lounge through my day and never change out of my comfy jammies. Every now and then another human could visit, but only for a while and then they would have to go so I could finish reading. No one else's politics would intrude on my sanctity, but then I would not dream of bothering another persons realm without invitation. I think in another life I must have been a mountain man or woman (more likely a literate mountain goat), wearing my buckskins all winter and having to peel them off in the spring thaw.

But I have to be working. Like the bullies at work have to be bullying. My solution for them, put each on an island with no one to bully but themselves leaving the rest of us to get on with our lives in a little more peaceful environment.Or put them all on one island and let them bully it out among themselves. Maybe that would be more appropriate. Then maybe we wouldn't need polititians.

After I posted this someone suggested putting all the bullies on one island and letting them work it out amongst themselves. But I think they already did that with Austrailia or somewhere. I may be mistaken.

8/16/2002 07:49:00 AM

Sunday, August 11, 2002  
I've just realized something

I am in love with the sound of my own voice speaking. I am in love with the sound of my voice speaking, being heard, being taking seriously, being admired, being complimented. I am in love with the effect my voice has on others. I knew this already. I knew it somewhere in my field of nonfocused thoughts, things that bubble and brew and cook before finally or ever breaking out into focus land. This thought broke out just now. I had posted a few comments to my favorite group blog, blogsisters and realized that I had given advice to someone in a post where I had protested the rudeness of unasked for advice. But I was just so happy with my own voice speaking (figuatively) that I didn't realize what I'd done until I posted the comment and then read it over again. I had spoken for the sake of believing myself to have good opinions and good advice, but I realized after all that I really spoke because I am love with the sound of my voice.

Ten or eleven years ago I had gone to a convention. After the main speaker had finished the group introduction and order of the day we were to break into smaller groups and hear a speaker on a particular topic. We were not assigned groups so the number of people in any one room was a matter of choice. The convention rooms were very typical, a large room cut into long small rooms with partitions. The topic I chose didn't seem to generate much interest and I had to walk way down to the front of the room to be near any other participants. Maybe the first four rows were filled out of twenty or so. It turned out to be a good choice though. The speaker was well read, very knowledgable on the subject and very well spoken. She really caught my attention and kept it. At the end of her talk she asked people to come up and give information on their own experiences with the subject. Well, with so few people in the room, I felt comfortable going to the podium to speak. It wasn't until I turned at the podium to face the audience that I realized the room was crammed full to standing room. Part of me had heart failure, the rest of me took a deep breath and began to speak. It only took those first few words. I was enthralled with myself and my story. I told them a funny incident and made them laugh, I continued on with the serious incident and how I had handled it, then gave bit of a testimonial and ended with an encouragement for other people. I DON'T KNOW WHERE IT ALL CAME FROM. It was as if I were standing a little ways outside myself and listening to this person speak and admiring her skill. She was really good. I loved listening to her. The adrenalin, the rush, the applauses, I was high for days afterwards. But I never fully realized until now what it was that I was so in joyed with, it was my voice.

Are we all like this? Are we made like this? We blog, we network, we email, we phone, we write letters, we send our opinion to the editor and for what? Is it simply to enlighten someone else, to convince someone that we are right and that they need to see things our way? Is is altruistic, to help, to heal, to succor, to encourage? Or is it the thrill of hearing our own voices? Is it like the coyote on the mesa hauntingly howling at the moon for the sheer love of her own voice and the choir of voices that join hers? My daughter and I love to sing in the car. Oh, we sound like frogs in a well and crickets in the bathroom, but play something we both know on the 'oldies' station and we can't help but sing along. Play "Sloop John B" and we are in a state enthrallment, flying down the freeway, chins raised, howling to hear the sound of our voices. It is a feeling beyond words, even if words are my forte, to be in such pleasure. I am in love with the sound of my voice.

8/11/2002 02:05:00 AM

Wednesday, August 07, 2002  
I just got another one of those cutesy emails spouting off about why can't we pray in school. This was my reply.

I remember when we still had a morning prayer and the pledge, I also remember when our school was segregated and wife beating and child abuse were considered family matters and none of the law's business. I remember when this town had a rule that blacks and Hispanics could only enter the city limits to perform domestic work and had to be out of town by 6 PM. We also had a principal at high school who punished kids with a shaved down Louisville Slugger baseball bat. We had a man who lived on the outskirts of town who built and sold bomb shelters and the school kids wore army name tags so we could identify bodies in case the big one dropped. We still had school bullies, disobediant children, the kid who was always in the principals office, the teacher's pet who could get away with murder, and the kid in class who always got picked on. There was bigotry, intolerance, ignorance, suspicion, and never a thought that peoples of other religions and national origins might also have a right to hear THEIR prayers at school, also. We never heard a Jewish prayer, a Muslim prayer, a Hindu, or Shinto prayer even though we had children of these nationalities and faiths attending that elementary school. No one seemed to give a damn about their religious freedom. I don't really see where that morning prayer or the later lack of prayer ever did anything at all to solve the problems of the kids at school or to solve the problems of religious, political, or racial intolerance in this community. And no one ever told me, because there is no law against it, that I personally couldn't pray at school. They only said that the staff and teachers could not LEAD a public prayer, this of course does cross over the separation of church and state and their is a law against it.

Pardon me for getting up on my soap box, but I try my hardest to be tolerant and respectful of other people's religious faiths and observances. I see no place in public school for private worship unless it includes ALL religions without exception. I see no problem with the teaching of all religions as long as it is done fairly without giving preference to any one religion. The pledge is another matter all together. I see it as a bit of propaganda that got way out of proportion to its intention. "Under God" was only added to the pledge in the '50s to try to weed out "godless" communists who would not want to repeat those words, a left over from 'froth at the mouth' McCarthy and his paranoid delusions.

I hope I haven't been too offensive. I just get so tired of the prayer in school issue. It should be moot. All people of all faiths are allowed to pray as they please in their homes and their churches. Public gatherings, if not religiously sponsored, may want to choose to have a religious blessing but should consider the religious observances of all the people involved at the gathering, not just the belief of the majority. Schools should be for education, not for religious indoctrination.

Thanks for a minute to spout MY school prayer attitude

8/07/2002 07:28:00 AM

Saturday, August 03, 2002  

8/03/2002 09:17:00 PM

Something New

Learning a little more every day. Frank sent me some code today. Ok, I missed out on all that stuff back in the '80s when the rest of the groug was taking computer languages. I was taking business management, bah, humbug! It got me a pretty piece of paper somewhere, that's about it. Now I have to try to figure out alien bits of typewritten gibberish just to get a piece of information to stick to a particular column of color on my blog. This virgin stuff is pretty painful at my age. THAT THING GOES WHERE?!?!?

A little personal lubrication and a little help from friends, maybe this will slide a little easier next time. I beleive I am just too spoiled by this mouse thing. Point and click, click, hold, & drag, right click, scroll & click, all done. No sweat. Some of this is helpful, though, as I work with an ancient VAX program at work. There is no room for error on this dinosaur, get it right or it locks up and boots you right out. I've had to go searching through tomes of user very-unfriendly manuals just to find the code combination for "page back" to try to fix an incorrect entry. What a booger bear. Speaking of which, I am off to the salt mines now, graveyard shift. Doncha love the sound of that word. It is really the best time out at the plant. The day pukes are gone home, the contractors are mostly gone home, and it is just we operators. Funny, the plant usually runs so much better at night and on weekends. Why is that, I wonder? Just me and my four monitors, one PC, and three Tektronics, and cans of process graphic interface. Hey, I'm making chemicals, man.

Thanks to Frank for getting some blogs posted on the proper parking zone. I will get better connected here one of these days. I may even have to upgrade to bloggerpro so any one or two readers who might happen to be out there and accidentally stumble onto this space can tell me so. Otherwise, you got my email, write me a letter.

8/03/2002 09:01:00 PM

Friday, August 02, 2002  
A womans voice

I also posted this at Blog Sisters, be my guest to write to your senate and congresional representatives. Make your voice heard.

[8/2/2002 6:56:16 PM | Annie Mason]
As a Citizen of the state of Texas
I mailed the following to Senator Kay Baily Hutchison, think it kicks enough ass?

2 August 2002

Senator Hutchison
284 Russell
Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Hutchison,

I am writing to you concerning The Treaty for the Rights of Women. I am sure that you, because of your acquired position, your role modeling for women, and your obvious gender, understand more than most the absolute importance of the passage of this treaty. How much longer can we, as women and fifty per cent of the population of this earth, afford to be accounted as inferior by simple means of gender? We live on this earth and inherit more than our share of its abuses and punishments by simple chance of DNA. It is time; it is well past time to right the wrong of gender apartheid in this country and on this planet. We are women, we are individuals, we are unique, we are worth our salt and we deserve the right to explore all opportunities available to humans in our search for the place we choose in this life. Without a treaty that guarantees the right of full humanity and the right of unrestricted choice under the law, many of us are yet fettered in the ankle chains of history that would still brand us as property, chattel, barter, and slave, unable to make for ourselves the life we want and deserve.

Stand up for us, Senator Hutchison, speak up for us. You are in a position of power and visibility. You are a woman gifted with intelligence, education, fortitude, and persistence. Make those gifts a light to the women of this country and this world. Help us gain our rightful place as free and equal humans in the eyes of law and justice. Support The Treaty for the Rights of Women.

Yours sincerely,

8/02/2002 09:47:00 PM

Thursday, August 01, 2002  
This is something I wrote in response to a book I am reading, The Feminine Face Of God. It felt good to get these feelings out and printed. Religion is still painful to me. I either need to start something completely new or forget it completely. To try to fix what we have now is just to difficult for any one person, the process is just too deeply ingrained. And to go back even further to the goddess religion would be better, but not good enough, it still favors one gender over the other. We either have to enclude everyone or no one.

Seedbed of the Sacred
My Own Experience

As a small child I didn’t hear angels or voices, have any special knowledge of the world, or sense any special feeling of being singled out by the sacred. What I did have was a sense of belonging, a sense so deep that I only realized the strength of it after it was gone. In my earliest memory of that warmth of belonging I am wrapped in the aroma of mimeograph ink. I am 4 years old and I am sitting on the floor in the upstairs office of the little church where my family attends. My mother has finished typing the big blue stencil for the church bulletin and she is cranking out copies on this old hand powered machine. The smell of the ink is intoxicating. I can see her standing there, very pregnant with my little brother. In my mind she IS the divine. She and her sisters and mother, my wonderful grandmother, are the church to me. I didn’t have the words for the feeling I had back then, but I knew beyond words that these women and their work were the grounding of my spirit and my life. It seemed that my mother could do anything and everything that needed to be done at church.

We only lived two houses down from the little church and we walked there almost daily. Mom typed and printed the bulletin, taught Sunday school, organized vacation bible school, sang in the little choir for weddings and funerals, helped coordinate food for weddings and funerals and church get-togethers. She helped lay out the sacrament crackers and filled the grape juice cups and many times I stayed with her while she helped to wash up the little cups for next time. With the other women she made the church ready for Sunday. On Sunday morning we all sat together; my family, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles and cousins. I knew the men did extra things on Sunday morning, but it seemed to me a kind of fair trade off for not being there the rest of the time. During the week mom and her sisters and mother kept the church nursery tidy, visited the sick and shut-ins, made arrangements for meals to be brought in for families when a mom was ill or a child sick. In addition they made the arrangements for the huge church gathering dinners (potluck food all provided by the women of the congregation). There were ALWAYS women at church. In my mind, I think I believed that women were the church and that men only came to church at certain appointed times. My mother and dad both had beautiful singing voices, so when my mother sat with us in the pew to sing and my dad led the singing from the front of the church it only seemed natural. They worked together.

I went on in that protected and comforting cradle of womaness and belonging until I was 6 and a half yrs old. This was when my father’s company moved him to another city. The church we left was small and needed every volunteer possible to keep it running. The church we began attending in the new city was huge. I didn’t realize it then, but the volunteer positions were sort of a popularity contest. All of the work my mother had done before was already being taking care of in this new church so we weren’t in and out of the church building so often as before. It was a new place and I didn’t have quite the same sense of belonging and nurturing that I’d come to know, but I still recognized the same sort of womaness about the place. If there was work to be done, a class to teach, a wedding or funeral to organize, what ever the need, women would be there in abundance. I still saw myself as a part of the women and their work.

That is until I was about 7 or 8. I imagine this was about the time when I could finally begin to see over the pew to the front of the church. Before that time, except for the voice of my father when he led the songs, I never paid much of any attention to the voices from up front, my coloring books and Sunday school pages needed attention. But, one Sunday I sat up on my knees to watch what was going on and I saw the preacher doing his dramatic best to empress the congregation with some biblical point. It was at that moment that I was almost overwhelmed by the knowledge, by the certainty that up there in front of the congregation was where I belonged. Somehow I knew that I was meant to speak out and to teach. I knew that I could stand in front of these people and make the walls shake with my voice. That is when I turned to my mom, the representative of church, and told her of my revelation. Mom, I’m going to be a preacher.

It was in that moment that I first saw “the look” on my mother’s face. It is a look that I have heard described by so many other women when, as children, they were faced with another woman passing on to them that first horrible taste of unfightable, unfathomable, unbelievable discrimination handed down by god. It was a look of fear, of certainty, of sadness, of regret; a look I had never seen before on my mother’s face and it scared me. She took a deep breath and said that I couldn’t be a preacher. But why, I asked and she said those words that ripped my soul and rip it still forty years later, because you’re a girl she said and girls aren’t allowed to be preachers, only boys can be preachers. I’m sure I must have asked why and, if I know my mother, she said something like because god said so.

I was absolutely stunned. I suppose until then that I’d never really noticed that every one up in the front of the church was male. And in that moment of revelation I saw them all, the preaching man, the praying man, the song man, the communion men, and in an instant of crushing dismay, the image of my mother’s church and of the power of women in that church began to crumble. Why had I never noticed before that there was such a chasm between men and women and what god said they could do? I had never felt that there was anything out of place with what men did. They were never denied a place in the women’s realm. They may have seemed a little awkward or funny to me when they carried a covered dish or taught Sunday school, but no one told them that they COULDN’T do something. The spirituality of my life turned in that moment when I was told that my presence in certain parts of the church was not only not wanted, but also forbidden.

For years I felt that there must have been something wrong with me, something wrong with being a girl. What was it that god didn’t like about girls? Years later a Sunday school teacher told us that it was because Jesus and the apostles were men, so god only wanted men to be leaders in the church. When I asked about all the women that were with Jesus I was told that they didn’t count. The unfairness that I saw and experienced in those years truly crushed the life out of the warmth and belonging that I had felt as a child. I remained in that church for some years afterwards, but bit by bit any feeling that I might have had for its place in my life disappeared. I ceased to listen to what it had to say or what it said it stood for. I no longer believed in its relevance to my life. I came to believe that a faith that denied me because of gender was no faith at all.

The final blow, the point beyond which I could no longer bare to even be associated with church came when I was sixteen. This was in the late 60’s when beehive hairdos were popular for women and men were beginning to wear longer styles. Our preacher, at the time, really disapproved of longer men’s hairstyles and decided to voice his opinion from the pulpit. He preached an entire sermon on a verse relating to the length of men’s hair. He twisted the words of this verse to make it say that god had commanded the fashion in which men should wear their hair. God said cut it short and keep it short, this is the word of god. This is all well and good, but in the next verse god also supposedly says that women should keep their hair long and keep it covered. This verse would also appear to be god’s commandment. Curious person that I am, I cornered the preacher after the sermon and pointed out to him the verse about women’s hair. He just smiled at me and said, “Oh, that’s just an old Jewish custom.” Men get commandments from god; women get old Jewish customs. Sure. That was thirty years ago. I’ve never been back.

If there is a feminine face of god, a sacredness that encompasses women, then I have only experienced it as a small child in the company of my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts when they seemed to exude the sacred from their very existence. That face, that sacredness died when I saw women’s service denigrated by men and a very male god to non-sacred, mundane, drudgery.

I have tried on several occasions to regain something of that spirit that cradled me as a child. I have been to several different denominations and participated in activities that I was barred from in the church of my childhood. I have led prayer, served communion, and on one wonderful occasion I stood in for the pastors when they were on vacation. I led the service. The feeling was wonderful, it was vindicating, and it was uplifting, but it was not enough. No matter how egalitarian the denomination, the service was still in homage to this very male god that bars any female association on an equal level with himself. That I can not abide.

For the time being, I associate with no god or goddess or spiritual deity. I do believe in the power within human beings to affect their lives, their surroundings, and the outcome of events on this earth. I believe that our need for a god is a very real need to impose some order on the chaos of our world. It is so much easier to blame a devil or a god than it is to take full responsibility for the state of our world onto our own shoulders. We make the choices; we suffer the consequences. We create our own devils and our own gods. They are at our command and do our bidding. When we can begin to include all peoples and all genders into the idea of a deity and realize that inclusion of all peoples and all creation is the true purpose of a deity, then I believe we will have reached a maturity as humans that has grown past the need for such a deity. We will have reached a place where we can say as sincerely as Jesus did, ‘I can as easily say to this man his sins are forgiven as I can say to this man pick up your bed and walk’ and know that it is true.

You are god, I am god, and all that exists is god.

8/01/2002 07:56:00 AM

Wednesday, July 31, 2002  
I once rolled an absoloutely pathetic character, she was a 6 in every characteristic except charisma, an 18. For every time she tripped, fell over, couldn't find her magic spell, had a -5 on making any spell work even if she could find it and remember what it did, the other characters would pick her up, dust her off and tell her what a good job she was doing and keep smiling at her and keep wondering why she was still alive. Over the course of a few years that same character stumbled across enough characteristic enhancing spells to be able to eventually make wizard. Just goes to show what a good attitude and a dungeon master with a weakness for charisma gets you. In D&D anyway.
7/31/2002 05:32:00 PM

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Ranger Mage

Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else. They will work to make the world a better place, and will do whatever is necessary to bring that about, whether it goes for or against whatever is considered 'normal'.

Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.

Primary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Secondary Class:
Mages harness the magical energies for their own use. Spells, spell books, and long hours in the library are their loves. While often not physically strong, their mental talents can make up for this.

Mielikki is the Neutral Good goddess of the forest and autumn. She is also known as the Lady of the Forest, and is the Patron of Rangers. Her followers are devoted to nature, and believe in the positive and outreaching elements of it. They use light armor, and a variety of weapons suitable for hunting, which they are quite skilled at. Mielikki's symbol is a unicorn head.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

Haven't played D&D in bloody ages, now I have to come up with a name for this character.

7/31/2002 05:25:00 PM

Hey, another Paynter interview is out, I've had my 15 nanoseconds, give it up for Gretchen Pirollo! Almost makes me want to visit San Fransico. Too bad it is in California. Been there, done that, I'll pass. But best to Gretchen, I hope you find a parking space.
7/31/2002 02:09:00 AM

I watched the miners on tv news all weekend and wondered how I would have fared. Five days in the dark and wet and cold, no food, but I guess plenty of water. Did they tell stories, did they sing, did they pray, did they lay open their hearts with the thought of dying? Did they ask each other, like the guys in City Slickers, what was your best day and what was your worst day. Watching the mining equipment and crowds, the EMT's and rescue equipment put me so much in mind of the little baby Jessica out in west Texas fourteen years ago. The entire community was there, it seemed the world watched for those frightening days. My daughter was near the same age, eighteen months. I held her so close and watched her every move with the painful notion of life's fickle finality. The man who pulled her from the well into the rescue shaft described pulling her out as if he were delivering her at birth. I cried when they brought her up, very much like I cried for the miners when it was announced that they had been reached safely and that they were alive.

Both these events give me something to think about. Beyond think, really, they shove something so sharp into my chest that I can do nothing else but think about them, think about what humans have done for these ten people, a baby and 9 men. What is it about us that reserves the best we are for such rare occations? Homeless people, starving children, mentally ill, disabled, abused, abandoned, lost, and deserted people are at the bottom of forgotten wells and collapsed mines. As an overwhelming sea of problems I think that they simply disappear. It seems they only become visable when one suddenly stands out; one that we can focus on and allow ourselves to see. Who was it sang the song lyrics, Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water, that only drowning men could see him . . .' somtimes I think that is the way we are. Maybe we only see the drowning when we let ourselves walk into the water. Get your feet wet.

7/31/2002 02:02:00 AM

Tuesday, July 30, 2002  
Wishing my Daughter a Clean Sweet Sixteen

We had a wonderful day today. Amelia and I went out this morning and bought what we needed to make a cake, but after we'd stayed up watching RHPS last night she was just to tired to stay up anymore. She slept while I baked. When she woke up we had cake, then ice cream, then hamburgers, in that order. I cleaned up and put the left over cake on top of the refrigerator. Later the dumb cat, Snowball the Son of Bill, jumped up into my lap and left a funny multicolored smear on my pants. I picked him up by the scruff and his entire underside was smeared with icing! Doug and I had to put him in the tub, it takes two to bathe that unhappy landlubber, and literally scrub the icing out of his fur. Oh, he was not happy. When we got him dried and I went to the kitchen to view the damage, I nearly put him in the tub again just for good measure. Half of the cake had been laid on. Sort of rubbed around and smashed into the plate. I had to cut all that off and throw it away. It barely left enough for maybe four pieces of cake. Amelia came in and wanted to know who had eaten all that cake and I told her the story of the cat-astrophe and (well, I tell a good story) she laughed so hard she snorted the milk she was drinking all over the rest of the cake. We laughed so hard we were doubled up over the counter top and with a gleaming grin she grabbed a handful and yelled "Cake Fight!" That was the end of the birthday cake as an edible entity. There was cake crumb, purple lettering, and multicolored icing in our hair, all over us, and all over the kitchen. We were ducking and weaving like dodge ball players and screeching like banshees. It was a blast. And a bloody awful mess. She and I ended up in the shower scrubbing that purple stuff, I don't know what food coloring they use for purple, but that stuff sticks. So the cat, Doug, Amelia, and me, twice, ended up washing a happy birthday out of our hair for Amelia's sweet sixteen.

7/30/2002 12:44:00 AM

Monday, July 29, 2002  

Which tarot card are you?

7/29/2002 08:44:00 PM

Saturday, July 27, 2002  
Hey, I like the new template look, what do you think??
7/27/2002 08:19:00 PM

Aw, another Saturday night and my husband's in the bathtub
I got no money though I just got paid
How I wish I had someone to talk to
I'm in a blogger way . . .

Yes I will continue on with the imaginary weapon story, but I needed to remind myself about How Vegetables Taste

7/27/2002 08:17:00 PM

Friday, July 26, 2002  
Sat up all last night putting the finishing touches on The Imaginary Weapon. Amazing what I still remember from that long ago. Always reminds me of that joke about 'assume a tank.' Get someone to tell it to you sometime.
7/26/2002 09:58:00 PM

For a fellow soldier, for Frank, and for those who see the odd twist, I offer . . . The Imaginary Weapon

I'd been on field training manuvers before, out in the woods at Ft Useless, pitching pup tents, eating C-Rats that had expired in 1962, while smoking the really stale little half packs of cigarettes that came with the Rats and stashing the smidgen of toilet paper that came with the cigs. All that had been fun, expecially since I was assigned to the motor pool at the time and had use of my own authentic camo painted jeep. We'd been out in rain and we'd been out in bitter cold. Imagine waking up at 2 in the morning stuffed in a fart bag, curled up around a pot bellied stove in the orderly tent head to toe with the only other three women in the platoon. There was nothing for it, I had to go. Wiggling out of the sleeping bag was a shock to the system, however much those things stink, they do keep a body warm. I pulled on my boots and fatigue jacket over the two layers of long johns that stood in for pjs and shivered to the tent flap. Believe it or not, someone had assigned a soldier with an M-16 to stand in front of that tent flap all night long. I felt sorry for the guy as he escorted me to the port-a-john and stood by till I was finished. He's freezing his nuts off just to make sure I got to the john. I remember hoping for him that at least the thought of female flesh under all that garb warmed him up a little bit.

Those were practice field trips, scout weekends. This was a real drill. I belonged to a transportation battalion. It was our job as a trans protation company to make sure that everything the infantry or airborne needed was there when they needed it. So this was a full blown practice, flying cranes, ships, LST's everything. We were in full back pack and gear, marched into a body box attached to a helicoptor, strapped into webbing seats and flown to Red Beach. There we set up camp and got ready to recieve equipment onto the beach. Here is the fun part, this time there are only two of us enlisted women, me and my friend, Alma Toro. But there is also an officer woman, a capain that Alma and I have never met before. She has this nice big tent and Alma and I are offered sleeping quarters with her. Alma and I are soldiers and as far as possible we really wanted to get the same treament as the rest of the guys. It was important to us to have the respect of the rest of the guys by not getting special treament because of gender and we sure didn't want to be fraternizing. So we opted for our pup tent and camped out. Things proceeded pretty well, I only got "shot" once and had to quit working for two hours (nice nap in the back of the documentation tent ;-) until the day my name came up for guard duty.

Now here is the rub, I came in to the service under the old rules when women still weren't trained in weapons. By the time of this field manuvere the new ModVolArmy had begun making the change over to full training for women. So some of us had training and some didn't, I didn't. I told the NCO in charge that I wans't weapons trained and he said that it was ok, I could "assume" a weapon. Fine, I'll walk up and down this perimeter and assume I am armed. Halt, who goes there?! and point my finger. Not a problem, I am imaginative. But a little while later, a very obliging GI brings me a stick, a nice stick about the length of an M-16 and carefully wrapped in white tape, sort of like medical tape with a cloth feel to it. He said that it might be easier to "assume" if I had a prop. Man, that guy didn't have much else to do, I can tell, but it was really sweet of him. There I am walking my perimeter, assuming gallantly, enjoying the breeze, when along comes the female officer. I salute smartly.

"Soldier" she belts out.
"Ma'am" I know how to reply, I'm sourthern, remember.
"Soldier, is that a weapon in your had?"
"No, ma'am, it's a stick"
"Why are you carrying a stick"
"I am assuming a weapon, ma'am"
"Are you qualified with a weapon?"
"Ma'am,. no, ma'am"
"Then you are not qualified with a stick! Drop that stick and return to your quarters!"
"Yes, ma'am" I dropped that stick, saluted and was out of there and that was the end of my guard duty while we were on that particular training exercise. Ever since then I have always wondered if Alma and I ticked her off by refusing to bunk with her. So the moral of the story is, if you want to carry and assumed weapon, always make sure that you have had assumed training.

7/26/2002 08:59:00 PM

Wednesday, July 24, 2002  
7/24/2002 05:23:00 PM

This is a practice for hyperlinking.


Lets see if this works

7/24/2002 05:07:00 PM

Tuesday, July 23, 2002  

I am looking forward to seeing what Frank made of my prose. I still think we should find RB for the barracks story, but all this build up would maybe make it a bit of a let down. See ya manana, friends and foes. I forgot to tell the Irregulars. I suppose it's email time. Oh, before I go, if anyone else wants to clue me in on the finer points of blogging, I'd be pleased to hear from you. Today is a wonderful day. I wish I knew why, but it is and that is good enough. I am near finished with my second "spite" quilt (my own term) for my sister's kids. She has three, 2 girls and a boy, and I am making a quilt for each of them for Christmas. Even though my sister and I do not get along at all, I have always loved her kids. So every year I have sent them lovely birthday and xmas presents. Over the years I have also sent scads of clothes for the girls, clothes that I have made or bought for my daughter and then passed on to my sister, saving her hundreds of dollars on her clothing budget. No big deal, its for the kids. Its my sister's religion, politics, and attitude towards my unrepentant self that set on edge. So I have to admit to the terrible act of heaping coals of kindness. It's such a lovely way of making a point. I may be a heretic, a filthy liberal, and a wanton woman, but damn I've got such a good heart ;-).

I pasted this from Frank's page, I hope he doesn't mind, but I wanted a little souvinere. I'm going to have to break down and get the blogger pro.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002


Genesis of the Interview with Annie Mason...
For me, it started with the cats... I've read and enjoyed Annie Mason's list serve chatter on the EGR-Irregulars list that b!X started years ago. One morning this month, the following exchange took place:

Someone said to Annie: "Invite me for coffee."

She replied:

I will have to dig out the coffee machine from behind the blender, toaster, and stack of pre-used dished, but you have a standing invitation. Of course, to sit anywhere we'd have to shove my quilting stuff aside to find a spot at the dining table or shove laundry off the sofa and books off the coffee table (who would have thought that's what it's used for). But after you've nestled in with a cup and gotten comfortable the cats would have to come investigate the new aroma, check to see if you have the proper cat lap, and make sure your ankles are territorially marked as they think they have final approval. You are welcome any time.

Annie (the Anti-Martha!)

Ps. Do you take anything with your coffee? I'd have to borrow sugar from the neighbor, but I do have milk or coffeemate.

This lead me to respond to the list: "I'd advise using the coffeemate and skipping the milk... judging from the similarities in the rest of the house, I'm betting Annie's fridge runs on the same inventory control system as mine (oldest stuff in the back, removal on failure of sniff test)."

And off list... "Annie, do you have a blog?"

To which she replied:

Interesting question. No, this forum is as close to a weblog as I get, no website, webpage, nothing. This free floating community is my most cherished outlet for stream of consciousness sort of train of thought. How did I get here? Oh, right, some four years ago or so I came across Rageboy on another site, hit on it and have been hooked ever since. Then sometime in late '99 Rage got us together on this forum. We all watched 2000 come in from New Zealand to Vietnam to Oz to France to England to New York, to me and finally to the West Coast waiting for SOMETHING to happen. I stayed over on graveyards at work to babysit the computers and lab equipment 'just in case.' The only thing we lost was a total chloride machine. B!x and Nick and Dean are still here, Al chimes in, didn't we have a running list of who and where we are? I miss Hope and ADVice and birdlady and the rest of the guys. Rage still sticks his foot in the door sometimes just to stir things up, but he is pining now. Or writing, off in his own world again. So this is my weblog, my virtual cup of coffee. And you are right about the 'fridge,' sniff first or suffer the consequences ;-), although milk doesn't stay around long enough anymore, the teenager drinks it like it was koolaid. Hell, look at the time, gotta get the litter boxes changed before the trash pick up gets here.

Annie (and the menagerie)

...and later that same day this came through:

At least I can admit that I had to go and look up 'blog' before I replied. I'd heard the word bantered about but never bothered to ask, probably just another one of those computer acronym words people like to drop into conversation to show they are up to the moment. Now, thanks to you, I am on a web page with thousands of blogs and fascinated at the idea that people leave their daily diary entry out for the interested reader. I can now peruse Aaron Hillis' wish list on Amazon and I don't even know the guy. He has interesting taste in books and music, though.

Do you have a blog?

Annie (the timid voyeur)


Let me show you mine!!!

I have been interviewing people for the last month or so, and getting lots of visitors to read the interviews. Direct links to these interviews in reverse chronological order...

Halley Suitt
Andrea Roceal James
Jeneane Sessum
Denise Howell
Elaine Frankonis (b!X's mom!)

I was thinking, since you're such a literate email person... well, perhaps after you've looked at these you'd consider doing an email interview? I try to be edgy and suggestive and leave it to you to set boundaries. When you set 'em I respect 'em. The format is q&a via email, then I edit a compilation that isn't necessarily fully inclusive, nor is it necessarily chronological. I'm developing the style as I go along.

Whad'ya think? Sound fun? Maybe?


... and we were off and running. Later that week she had a blog up at blogger. It's still rudimentary from a features and functions perspective, but from a prose point of view, it's all Annie. Tune in tomorrow for what turned out to be a fascinating interview!

Those of you who have been reading know that since the five interviews listed above, we have also been graced with Tom Shugart, Dorothea Salo, and Gary Turner. Adding Annie, that makes nine people who have so far been willing to put up with my bullshit! And no physical injuries have resulted either! At least not for me. I don't know what Fiona might have done to Gary after she read his interview.

7/23/2002 09:56:00 PM

Sunday, July 21, 2002  

My interview with the Paynter is about to go public! Check out www.sandhil.com around, oh, Wednesday to see my entrails strewn across the face of public bloggery. Hey, I like that, being publically blogged. I sentence you to public blogging at noon on Wednesday, 24 July, 2002. The crime? Well, the crime was say yes to the well written wheadling (is that how you spell that word?) (I'm lost without spell chuck) of Mr Frank Paynter, interviewer extrordinaire, interviewer to 10's and 20's of well know people. Excluding myself. I am not well known by any stretch of the imagination, just mouthy. Frank said, 'well spoken and deeply thought out replies.' I love a compliment. He is also going to give me a bit of tutorial on the finer points of blogging as this is a maiden voyage for yours truely. Watch for more deep meaning in the days to follow. I'll be thinking of something, I'm sure.

7/21/2002 09:25:00 PM

Thursday, July 18, 2002  
Today I told my husband about George's death. He had asked why the out of focus face, the far away stare. He was wonderfully sympathetic, held me close and let me cry. It is really good to have a partner who is not afraid of my past and seems confident in our future. We have talked over so much of our history that even though we only met 3 years ago, it seems we have been around each other for a life time. What a guy.
7/18/2002 12:25:00 AM

Monday, July 15, 2002  
George Alec Effinger - 1947 to 2002

My ex-lover, my confidant, my correspondent, my friend, my fantasy, my bad boy, my writer, died three months ago and I only found out about it last night. I knew it would happen this way. I met him in 1982 at Armadillo Con (the Texas and surrounding area writers science fiction/fantasy convention) in Austin, TX. He was the guest of honor and I was just getting over a divorce. Caroline Cooper introduced us and fate sealed a pact when he and I made first eye contact. Later in the day I listened to his reading then had to step out of the smoky room for a breath of air. He came out a few minutes later, put his hand against the wall next to my face, looked me in the eye and said, "I want to take you away from all this." What a line, and what a delivery, he certainly knew how to flatter a woman with his voice. Then he asked me about myself and we talked for a while. He asked me to meet him after the guest of honor speech and I was thinking that this would be interestsing. That evening, after his speech, he threw his arm over my shoulder and said we had to go to his room so he could change shoes. The cornors of his eyes were wrinkled in pain and he was breathing so harshly that I didn't hesitate to go along. He went straight to the bathroom and swallowed a handful of tablets, codiene, he said, it barely dulls the pain anymore. I helped him off with his boots and he began to pace. I have to move, he said, and talk, it helps take my mind off the pain till the codiene takes some effect, and he began to tell me his life story. I sat on the end of the bed while he paced back and forth telling me about his mother and Yale, New York, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, moving to New Orleans, his first two wives, and much much more that I can never recall. As his story wound on his pacing gradually became slower till he finally slowed to gentle walk and at last went across the room to the sofa where he finally sat down for the first time since we had entered his room. This whole time I had been mezmerized by his patter, his tone of voice, his facial expressions, one hand holding his abdomen and the other gestering to the rythm of his monologue. Now that hand rested on the sofa beside him. He looked up at me, his face finally relaxed, and patted the cushion where his hand lay. Fate had already sealed this moment for me and I came willingly. He lifted his arm for me to cuddle next to him, draped his arm around my shoulder and for a few minutes still continuted to talk, but gently now, with none of the intensity from before. At some point we kissed and it had the physical, sexual, autonomic rush of first love. My breath caught in my throat and my skin burned at his touch. He pulled back just enough to look me in the eye again and the inevitable decision was made. He stood, took my hand, led me to the bed, sat me down and gently pushed me backwards. "I didn't mean for this to happen," he said, but I never believed him.

The next day, when I ran into Caroline again, she said that I was famous now. What? I asked, truely puzzled. You're the woman who stole George away from the guest of honor party. Ah, I see, and I smiled. Well, the smile just got a touch larger then resumed it's former dazzled sated self. I really don't think my feet had made contact with the ground since the night before. His handlers, the con commitee people , took over his time that day and I only saw him for a few minutes that afternoon before the group I was with had to return home. It was Sunday afternoon and work days, unfortunately, begin on Monday mornings. What a terrible arraingement. Anyway, I gave him my phone number and we exchanged a few short words of farewell. I left Austin with a gut full of mixed emotions. He said he would call, but do they ever, even after a night like that, a night I will never forget? And yet there were some few moments when I really did wish it had ended there. The memory of him and that night and the nights that followed, he did call me, have colored every love affair I have had since. Over the years I came to see his self destructive bent, but it could never blot out the lover who called me his oasis, his calm from the storm. I visited when I could, wrote copious letters, spent hours on the phone and tried never to let him forget that I was there. No matter what else was going on in my life he could have what ever part of me he needed. I could never stay with him, though, his pain ran too ravagingly deep and I couldn't stand apart from it and it hurt him more when he saw how badly he hurt me.One night, years ago, before he was going to go into the hospital the next day, he told me to leave. He told me that he couldn't bare to have me see him this way on this darkest night of his soul. The night before hospital stays, he said, frightened him more than anything on earth and he couldn't put me through it. He couldn't back off enough to offer me any comfort. I cried and I begged and I stopped. One knows, doesn't one, when it is time. I packed my bags, packed my car, held him, kissed him one last time and walked away. After all these years, that was the only night I regretted, but it is like blameing one's self for another's suicide. George would be what George would be, himself, and I let him.

Afterwards we still corresponded, letters, endless letters and phone calls. I kept up with his writing. He would autograph a book or two and we talked on the phone. We would always say that we would get back together again, but it never happened. The FutureCon in Houston was the closest we came. He asked me to come and I did, but when I saw him from a distance, so drained of himself, so spiritless, I only stood and watched. I know it was chicken of me, but I knew he would only have the strength to pretend and I couldn't live with that. I never saw him again. Oh, we talked a few times, he would get lonely and call and we would chat. Then he moved off to California and we emailed a few times, but not often. And I began to wait. I knew it would come. I knew I would read his obit some months or years old. Every few months I would check the internet for any news and would get a few hits, a con here, and article there and I would check for anything he had written, not much. "Kitten" had been great, I even have it on book tape, and I found some of his short stories in the odd anthology, but I knew it was over. And last night, there it was. I was doing my semiannual 'George search' and found myself staring at the first hit, George Alec Effinger 1947 - 2002. Twenty years I've known you, George, and it was never enough, never enough.

Obituaries News

George Effinger, 55, science-fiction author
By Susan Larson
Book editor/The Times-Picayune
George Alec Effinger, a science-fiction writer who won top awards in his literary field, died Friday of undetermined causes at his New Orleans home. He was 55.
A Cleveland native who had lived most of the past 30 years in New Orleans, Mr. Effinger wrote hundreds of short stories and more than 20 books, including mysteries and crime novels in addition to science fiction. He also created several computer role-playing games.
He is perhaps best known for "Schrodinger's Kitten," the novelette that won both the Hugo in 1988 and the Nebula in 1989, science fiction's most prestigious awards. His other well-known works were a trilogy of futuristic stories, influenced by Raymond Chandler and based on the recurring character of detective Marid Audran: "When Gravity Fails," "A Fire in the Sun" and "The Exile Kiss," in which the French Quarter is transformed into a futuristic Arabic city called the Budayeen.
Other works include the novel "What Entropy Means to Me" and the award-winning short story "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything." But Mr. Effinger's work, filled with fine characterization and dark humor, transcended genre.
Mr. Effinger originally intended to become a surgeon but dropped out of Yale University to live in New York. He returned to Yale, but soon it became clear that writing would be his chosen profession.
His first wife, whom he met while she was browsing in the science-fiction section of the New York bookstore where he worked, introduced him to Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm, two of the best-known science-fiction writers in the country, who became important mentors to Mr. Effinger.
He said that his writing career really began with a summer writing workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970: "I wrote my first story, sold my first novel, and I never looked back."
Mr. Effinger moved to New Orleans after attending a writing workshop at Tulane University in 1971, and, finding the city an inspiration, he entered his most productive writing period. In addition to writing, he taught a popular creative-writing class at the University of New Orleans Metropolitan College, and many of his students went on to become friends, meeting with Mr. Effinger in a monthly writing group. He was a frequent guest at science-fiction conventions throughout the country and a collector of Depression glass, which played an important part in his novel "Heroics."
His favorite word, he once said, was "terrific." "I have my characters say it under any possible circumstances. It means whatever it means at the moment, from tremendous praise to tremendous put-down."
When Mr. Effinger married his third wife, novelist Barbara Hambly, in 1998, he moved to Los Angeles. "We were co-guests of honor at a science-fiction convention, and it was love at first sight," Hambly said. "We were married in November of 1998."
Mr. Effinger returned to New Orleans in the spring of 2000 after he and Hambly divorced. "He had talent to burn, and he burned it," Hambly said. "One of the most frustrating things about him was seeing what he could have done. We were in touch daily. Since the divorce and since he moved back to New Orleans, we spoke daily. We were best friends."
Mr. Effinger's life was complicated by recurring illness and addictions to painkillers and alcohol, Hambly said. "In the last four years of his life, he went through rehab twice, he was in 12-step programs. The last five months of his life he was completely clean and sober. He was working again, he has two short stories in anthologies coming out in the next couple of months, and he had a good shot at getting his life back together and starting his career again. He put up a hell of a fight."
Mr. Effinger, long appreciated worldwide in science fiction circles, regretted not having a higher profile in his adopted hometown. "I'm to Japan what Jerry Lewis is to France. They love me over there," he once said.
Mr. Effinger is survived by Hambly, who is his literary executor.
A memorial may be planned later.

7/15/2002 03:33:00 PM

Sunday, July 14, 2002  
My animal companion is undoubtedly the dumbest cat in the world. I have double doors on my closet, one is shut and one is wide open. He stood in my closet behind the closed door within inches of the open door and scratched and meowed pitifully until I opened the door to let him out. Bill the Cat may have met his match. He knocks everything off of the end table so that he can sit with the top of his head as close to the light bulb as possible. Maybe this helps to get what few brain cells he possesses to move fast enough to bump into one another in the cavern of his skull. So far it hasn't worked. He jumped up on the range top the other day while I had my back to him washing dishes. I had three pots cooking away making a lovely aroma when suddenly I noticed the smell of burnt feathers. I turned around and saw him wrapped so closely around a pot that his tail was smoking and the fur was charring. He had the most blissful look on his face until I rudely snatched him up and dunked his butt in the dish water. Steam hissed out of the water and burnt kitty fur floated to the surface. He doesn't get up on the range top anymore, but I'm sure it's because he is afraid of the dish water, not the cooking fire.
7/14/2002 02:49:00 AM

Thursday, July 11, 2002  
If you had to leave Houston, where would you want to live?

I've been a lot of places in this world. The military took me for a ride or two and later I managed to do some traveling of my own. Up until three years ago I hadn't seen any place that I didn't eventually want to come home from, back to Texas, that is. Three years ago I came into a bit of a windfall in money and decided that I should go back to England and visit a dear woman I had met while traveling. She and I had stayed in touch over the years. She had married, had children and moved with her husband to a tiny town in North Wales. I took my daughter with me and we flew into Manchester airport then took the train to Holyhead, N. Wales. I'd been to London, Banbury, and Manchester, but not this part of the country. The closer we got to Holyhead, the more I noticed that I was becoming blissfully relaxed, relaxed in a way that made my heart feel full to brimming with good feeling. I felt that instead of going somewhere to visit, that I was coming home. We spent 7 days with June and her family and I absolutely wallowed in the lap of this beautiful, wonderful countryside. When it came time to leave I felt this overwhelming urge to throw myself onto one of those lucious green hills, grab hold of the earth with all my strength and never let anyone pull me away. I beleive I could have stayed there forever and never wanted to leave again. I know my ancestors came from this part of the world, so maybe a part of my soul lived here at one time. It certainly felt as if I left some part of myself behind waiting for me to come back and claim it. We'll see.

7/11/2002 10:58:00 AM

Here in the world of make believe I imagine a realm where people are taken at indepth value, for the measure of their ability to use what they have to the best of their abilty. This seems reasonable and natural to me. Now today, after 11 yrs in my present position where a gullable managment trusts me with millions of dollars worth of computer banks, process interface grids, thousands of tons of manufacturing equipment, all of which they have painstakingly trained my to use, they are sending me to a baseline assessment testing facility to see if I know how to read, write, do basic math, and use reasoning/problem solving skills. And they complain about wasting money. Now they tell me that I won't be "graded" on this assessment, but rated. What is the difference? Read heavy sarcasm when I say that I am on pins and needles waitning for my "rating" to appear in the mail.
7/11/2002 02:26:00 AM

Monday, July 08, 2002  
Well, I have had my first real evidence of having a posted blog, an email invitation to a porn site. I've arrived! So it is Monday again and I am headed back to work tonight. Graveyard shift, of course. The old same place. So I suppose, before pnuemonic plague of workaday takes over, that I should try and answer another question from Mr. Paynter, the question man.

I didn't get there in the first hour so I missed my chance for one of the ClearChannel monopoly tickets for the Greatful Dead reunion concert. If they do a closed circuit live video feed to a concert hall, do you think it would be worth the price of admission?

Well now, that's a hard one. Would it really be the same without Jerry? Whether live or live feed? Not to say that all the other band members aren't great in their own right, but it still seems to me like a Lynard Skynard reunion without Ricky. And I have to admit that I have quit going to concerts. I tell myself its because of the outrageous ticket prices, the horror show of parking and unparking, and everything is so PC now, smoke free, expensive beer, no carry-in containers, no real fun anymore. Somehow it's all lost its appeal. I remember my first ZZ Top concert, outdoors at the coliseum, one price tickets, no specified seating, the haze wafting through the crowd, it was magical, like a circus faire. I just can't imagine the equal of that anymore.

So to answer your question, if it was me, I'd spend the afternoon burning a GD CD of my favorites, especially 'Touch of Grey,' have a cold beer and wax nostalic. Oh, and don't forget the popcorn, gotta have something for the munchies.

7/08/2002 05:10:00 PM

Thursday, July 04, 2002  
I have something to say here, am I the only one who thinks that using Miss Piggy to advertize a breakfast featuring bacon and pork sausage is a little like using death row inmates to advertize for the electic company.
7/04/2002 10:22:00 PM

CAPRICORN (Dec 22–Jan 19): The earthy Moon in Taurus gives you the support that you need in order to combine your creative ideas with your need for practical application. The only danger is that you can be overprotective of your creations, as if they are your very own children. They are not. In other areas of your life, today can find you moving carefully toward a romantic interest. Your feelings may be on the line, but you still have a sensible attitude toward love.

Combine creative ideas with my need for practical application . . .hmmm, I believe that brings us to our next question, Jeana, take it away!

*We've pretty much covered tattoos... where do you stand on leather and lingerie?*

Now if that isn't a creative idea with a practical application, then I don't know what is! Actually, I find both leather and lingerie to be impractical in this oppressive (it ain't the heat, it's the humidity) Texas weather. Skip the snaps, laces, and hooks and give me a good ceiling fan and Egyption cotton sheets any day. I've always been a bit of a pragmatist that way, there is nothing in the world sexier than skin.

7/04/2002 10:06:00 PM

*If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?*

Good question, Steve, I was considering this just the other day.

To tell the truth, I don't really 'get' money. I only understand coin and paper tokens at their most basic level. For instance (you find that I love analogies - you will get sick of them after a while) Jo makes candles, Val weaves cloth, Henry raises chickens and eggs, and Bert makes furniture (they all leave on a train from Cleveland traveling 50 miles an hour . . No wait, wrong story problem). The four of them usually barter goods, but where as you might need eggs and candles every day, you probably need cloth and furniture much less often. So the four of you agree on an exchange rate where Jo could get so many chickens and eggs over a period of time in exchange for a bolt of cloth later. It is ingenious. The fore mothers who created this kind of abtract convenience were probably the Mensa candidates of their day. I desended from the rest of the gene pool that required all it's toes and fingers to get the sheep into the pen at night. Give me a charcoal stick to scratch with and I will be happy all day, but give my pebbles to count and we may be here for a while. I mean who REALLY knows what feduciary is and can say it with a straight face.

7/04/2002 07:37:00 PM

Wednesday, July 03, 2002  
We're in. Houston we have confirmation of contact. Can you read? Over.
7/03/2002 03:25:00 PM

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