Saturday, April 26, 2008

Big Mo'

So, the world has its newest candy bar. It happens to be the brainchild of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., a NASCAR driver, and Palmer, the world's grossest chocolate, so this is quality from word one.

What's better is that the name of the candy bar, which comes in peanut butter or caramel filled chocolate, is named Big Mo'. This name conjures all kinds of images. Is it named after a hulking, dimwitted bouncer? Nope. Jr. says it commemorates the "Big Mo"ment when he first started driving cars around in a circle professionally. Because, you know, when you are the son of a NASCAR deity, it's really hard to get your big break. My brother suggested that, considering the language used by NASCAR drivers, it might really stand for Big MoFo. And I'm sure the forces behind this candy bar don't mind that connotation.

But let me suggest another meaning. One day I was hanging out with my friends Kristin and Brett. Kristin kept calling me Mo that day as a nickname. Finally, Brett said that she might want to stop calling me that. Well, we of course asked why, and here's what he told us. Those in the gay community, to which he belongs, refer to each other as 'Mo or Big 'Mo as a shortened version of homosexual.

So, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. may have just inadvertently endorsed the first gay candy bar ever. Well, let's say the gayest candy bar ever. I'm pretty sure Bonkers, Big Daddy, Gobstoppers, Good & Fruity, Jolly Ranchers, Mike & Ike, NutRageous, Oh Henry, Pixie Stix, and Three Musketeers, were all gay forerunners to the Big Mo'.

It's just funny because I can't think of a more good ol' boy institution than NASCAR. You'd think they would have appointed a Czar of Straightness to make sure nothing like this got past. Of course, I thought the same thing when everyone started calling Jeff Gordon the Rainbow Warrior.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


So there's been a recent surge of interest in home births and I think it's fantastic. I can talk all I want about how I don't want no evil doctor man shoving a needle in my spine and ripping my stomach open to seize my baby, but until I'm in that position, I don't really have any room to talk. Lots of women have done home births and I admire them for it. I want to do it or at least have as few drugs as possible involved, but who knows what I'll be asking for when the draws near.

While home birth might be grabbing all the headlines, there's another DIY area that is quietly gaining popularity- home funerals. No embalming, no expensive casket, no funeral home. The wake takes place at the family's home and the casket is very simple- sometimes cardboard. The person is transported by family vehicle to whatever religious ceremony is chosen and then the family buries their loved ones themselves either on their property or in a cemetery. This might sound crazy at first, but I think the home funeral idea has some merit. Just think about it.

I watched a PBS POV documentary on netflix instant play called "A Family Undertaking" about home funerals. The "death midwife" or "home funeral guide" ,as she prefers, interviewed by PBS made a really good point: "We've institutionalized the most important rites of passage in our culture- birth and death." Before the 20th century, people had their children at home and laid their loved ones to rest at home. Now we just hand them over to strangers in hospitals and let these people deal with our relatives at the very beginning and very end of life. Our emotions about these events become monitored on someone else's time. The joy of birth is dampened by doctors taking the babies too soon or the nurses ready to whisk the newborns off to the the nursery. The grief of losing a relative is hidden away because a show of that kind of intense emotion around strangers (funeral directors and so on) is disturbing and too intimate. We are prevented from experiencing these events and emotions as fully as we could or should.

Just like home births, home funerals are more natural because there are no chemicals involved. Anyone who says a dead person at a the funeral home is "so natural looking" is either weird, lying, or both. It's not natural. There is nothing natural about what undertakers do. Jabbing holes in a person's body to suck out all the fluids, propping up the eyeballs, clamping the mouth shut, filling the body with formaldehyde- if anyone but a funeral director we're doing this stuff it would be considered desecration of a corpse. It's not pleasant to think about, but it's true. And all so we can get our relatives to look like they did in old age, right before they died. That's not the way I want to remember any of my grandparents.

Finally, it's no secret that funeral directors take advantage of the grief stricken and bereaved. This is yet another similarity to families in the delivery room. We'll do what they say because they are the experts. Never mind that they don't have our best interests at heart, they don't have our emotional well being at heart, and they certainly don't have our financial well being at heart. So we end up paying thousands of dollars for something we don't want and something our relatives didn't want because we are not in the right state to deal with it.

The topic is macabre, I know, but it is important to think about culturally. Would I want a funeral with no chemicals, no expensive casket, and no funeral home for myself? My gut reaction is to say that as long as I have a funeral mass said for me, I'm buried in a Catholic cemetery, and I'm right with God before I go, I don't need anything else. Would I have the strength to be in charge of a home funeral for someone I know and love? Like home birth, I can only really answer these questions when the time draws near. What do you guys think?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sisterly Advice

Warning- the following material may not be suitable for younger audiences, those who are at all politically correct, or those who may have an aversion to the F-Bomb.

Well, some days I take two steps closer to heaven and some days I take two steps back.

So, I'm in Lafayette right now visiting my family and friends. It has been a great time and I'm enjoying myself. One of my favorite parts about this visit is that I've gotten to spend some time with my 16 year old brother. Alex is a really good kid that people should take the time to get to know.

Two nights ago we were talking about how high school is going for him. I remember high school as one of the most miserable times of my life, so I wanted to check in with him and make sure he was okay. He said that classes were fine and he had friends and he liked one of his teachers. Then he mentioned that some kid in his math class was giving him a hard time. This kid would say rude things to him, butt in on his conversations, and just be a jerk in general to Alex.

Well, at this point rage seethed within me. It's the type of rage that one can only experience when a blood relative has been insulted. It is instinctual and I am sure everyone has experienced it. My blood boiled, my fists clenched, my teeth gnashed. I asked Alex, "What's this kid look like?" Alex remarked that he's a skinny gay kid who talks with a lisp.


I said, "Wait, wait, wait. You're letting a skinny gay kid give you shit?" You have to understand that my brother is at least 6 feet tall and he is big and strong. The next words out of my mouth make up some of the best and worst sisterly advice I have ever given. (sorry mom and dad if you're reading) With teeth fully gritted I said, "The next time that kid gives you shit, look him in the eye, put on the meanest face you can imagine and say 'Fuck off mother fucker'". Admittedly, it is regrettable that I did not think of Christian charity first. But as I said, I was in the throes of protective familial rage. That kind of thing stands up in court even. Alex kind of laughed and shortly after our chat he announced that he had to go to bed.

Later that night I started feeling guilty about the advice that I gave him. That kind of retort could get Alex in a fight or get him kicked out of school. Plus, it ranks pretty high in the uncharitability factor. So I sent Alex a text message that night before I went to bed so he could read it before he went to school that morning. This is what it said verbatim- "Hey, just kidding about that gay kid @ school. You probably shouldn't tell anyone to fuck off. Have a good day tomorrow."

That's the kind of sister I am I guess. I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I had sisters of my own, and I fear for how bad it will be if my children are bullied at school. I think the life lesson overall was a good one- don't take shit from anyone. However, I also think that my approach was a little off. Sigh. Lord help me.

Friday, April 04, 2008

US Americans

Okay, I know this girl has been made fun of time and time again, and I actually feel really sorry for her. Who hasn't just completely lost their composure in front of a group of people at some point in their lives? It's happened to me while teaching class before- not to this extent, but still. And I don't think this girl is stupid either. She's probably a good student even. With all that being said, I feel a little better about posting this clip, which I thought was hilarious. It looks at how this beauty queen's "parents" coach her through the speech. Besides, everything Miss Teen South Carolina said about The Iraq was true.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Hey guys, I just wanted to give you a little update on a miracle I've been privileged to witness. It's hard to believe AJ will be a year old soon.

And here he is now.

He has a long road ahead of him, as all micropremies do, but so far everything is going well. He still has his feeding tube, but that's it. He's not on oxygen or any other machines anymore. Thanks for all your prayers. My entire family, especially my brother and his wife, are extremely grateful.