For once, I'm doing all right on Christmas. Generally I spend my time drunk and wishing I had something to do, while at the same time vehemently willing my family to stay the fuck away from me. They don't know where I am now, which is good. Mainly, though, I replace that last thing with rounds of 'hey will the rats eat that?' and the answer to that is 'yes for all food objects, and also yes for several non-food things that are fun to chew', so it's not as absorbing as it could be.

We passed some kind of fast food something on the bus route tonight that had their TV tuned to BBC News and visible from the window. Normally, I hate this. World news scares the fuck out of me. At least 50% of my trips to the ER to beg for Xanax have been triggered by this shit. I still resent the pilot years ago who decided to interrupt my nice calm flight over the Rockies -- I am not at all scared of flying, don't ask me why; I actually like it -- with the news that we'd gone to war with Iraq. There is a solid practical reason I tell people not to tell me these things.

The main headline on the ticker tonight was the PM of the UK giving Alan Turing a posthumous pardon. This should have happened fifty years ago. Particularly given that vetting for what was (with some reason) called 'the English vice' was instituted mainly at the behest of the Americans, who considered it a morals risk for people working with top-secret things. It wasn't a risk until we morons made it so, particularly for Turing -- the whole idea was to vet people for things that they might be blackmailed into espionage over, and when Turing actually was threatened with imprisonment, he A) thought it was idiotic and wrong to lie even the littlest bit about the guy in question being his boyfriend, and B) refused offers of behind-the-scenes string pulling to get him out of court. I've been through multiple lengthy biographies of the man (the most renowned being by Andrew Hodges, who is also the major whinger over this not happening fifty years ago) plus the four volume collected set of his papers, and I feel pretty safe in saying: Blackmail only would have made him indignant to the point of telling his superiors at Bletchley about it. At length. If there were one dude in the entire world whom you would not have had to worry about in that regard, it was probably Alan Turing. And if he didn't make it quietly go away, someone else would have, because everybody knew, up to and including the lady mathematician there who taught him how to finish off the fingers on the gloves he was knitting.

[His supervisor did exactly that when the Army came by to complain that Turing had gone AWOL. Considering that his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park had him listed as a civilian, said supervisor was understandably confused. A few questions uncovered exactly what had happened. Turing had wanted to learn marksmanship, so he'd gone and signed up with a local regiment. On the blank on their sign-up form, where it asked 'do you agree that the British Army owns your soul for the next few years', where you were obviously supposed to scrawl 'yes' to complete the enlistment process, Turing, being a logician, scrawled 'no'. No one noticed until he learned to shoot and, having gotten the lessons he wanted, stopped turning up to drill. Turing's boss advised the Army -- presumably while pinching the bridge of his nose and wishing for a tumbler of whiskey, neat -- that Alan was just kind of like that, and it was probably best to leave it alone. They did.]

Still. If arguing over morals clauses from WWII is major enough to be on the BBC World ticker, then we are probably doing okay. Just for tonight.

I had ticket to The Slutcracker this evening. I figured I should make myself leave the house and do something. A lot of hilarious things happen when the burlsequers start to recognize you. You start getting tits right to the face whenever you sit in the aisle, for one. (Or at the WAG table at Oberon, which isn't so much wives and girlfriends, as generally partners and friends and other stray performers who happen to not be in that night's show. There's one at most shows, primarily as insurance in case your act involves audience participation, and for some reason the rest of the crowd isn't feeling it that night.) I have no particularly prurient interest in boobies, myself, but I like being in spaces where the dancers feel safe doing things like that. Tits are considered a privilege in Camberville -- if you would like to see more of them, you will behave respectfully towards their owners. Otherwise the gorilla checking IDs at the door will dryly and intellectually throw you right the fuck out of the club.

The Cambridge burlseque crew can and will dance right up to aisle tables/seats and offer you boobs. They know that if you're cool with tits, you'll play along, and if you're not, you'll wave them off without being disruptive. I once saw Karin Webb -- UnAmerika's Sweetheart -- do a striptease accompanied by a post-feminist spoken-word piece deconstructing the basis of sexual desire. She walked right up to an audience member in the front row and politely asked him to unzip her dress for her in the middle of it. I would not have tried that anywhere in Arizona for about a million different reasons, most of them involving the word 'redneck'.

I've also seen a poet who was queer in every possible sense of the world -- sometimes she slept with women, sometimes she went out as a man, and she always had an odd sense of humor -- get at least as much applause for a reading of a personal autobiographical essay as any of the T&A did. Ditto for a positively Amazonian drag queen with a fake Russian accent doing a stand-up piece about the perils of anal sex without proper preparation. And a man who billed himself as a 'demotivational speaker' taking the piss out of every self-help course ever, complete with graphs, in the middle of a show that consisted primarily of artful nudity. Even Niki Luparelli, whose main schtick is digging props out of her bra and doing four or five types of vaudeville at once, all of them dirty and cheerfully uncoordinated, uses phrases like 'social mores' in her filk. Cambridge is a fabulous place.

I have just gotten a Christmas bonus for the first time in my entire life, probably because for the first time in my life I have landed a job that depends on me being able to think rather than on me being able to show up and maintain a pulse, and therefore the first adjective the boss-lady attaches to my name is not 'expendable'. I spent some of it on booze, because I'm in Boston now, and only 75% of the liquor stores are closed at 10pm on Christmas Eve. If you grew up here, you probably don't realize how much cultural influence the non-Christian population has on your city. Arizona is mainly Baptist, Mormon, and people who are tired of fighting both of the above and have given up. The state shuts down over Christmas, for pretty much the same reason SUNY has given up and doesn't run classes on Yom Kippur: Even if you tried to stay open, too many people would either develop mysterious "flu-like symptoms" to make it worth your while to bother scheduling anyone. I had to sit and stew for the day, because I couldn't even go drink outside of the house to distract myself. Here, I can do anything that comes to mind -- there are 400,000 Jewish people who had the exact same idea, so it's worth not shutting everything down.

The rats each got a couple drops of my wine in a bottle cap full of oatmeal. They are definitely girl-rats -- the boy-rats always sniffed wine and then shoved it aside in favor of demanding hard liquor, but these three grabbed their Riesling so fast that two of the three of them turned it over. One of them is chewing on the bottle cap so hard she's clanking it against her food dish by accident. Which is why I gave it to them in oatmeal in the first place. You know how kitty litter soaks up an oil spill? Cheap oatmeal does the same thing for any liquid and is edible. It keeps them from getting liquid treats all over creation, not to mention themselves. Plus, for reasons that escape me, rats actually love oatmeal. I think it tastes like cardboard, and I'm probably not wrong on that count, since they happily eat that, too.

That was several hours ago. I've long since killed the rest of the bottle, so I gave them some valerian capsules before I settled down to finish this and then sleep. They smell like stewed gym socks now, but by God they are happy.


  1. Congrats on the Christmas bonus! True, they never happened in retail IME; it must feel like actual gift-that-keeps-on-giving.

    New Zealand is a largely secular country (self-identified Christians are at 50% of the population at the moment, and the non-believer percentage has been steadily rising), but I think the influence of the Church of England sank in so thoroughly as The Way Things Are Done way back when, that it's gonna take a while for multiculturalism to truly have an effect at the civic level. Every year around Xmas, the capital city in particular shuts down, shops close, and buses start operating at a minimum as seemingly two-thirds of the population flee to wherever their families live to spend the holidays. Everything slowly, eventually, starts opening again as people trickle back in, until it's business as usual by about January 18.

    Sure, it's partly to do with NZ having more statutory vacation days than the US which takes an expat like me some getting used to, but the closing-down of absolutely EVERYTHING starting around a traditionally Christian holiday (holidays plural, actually---I recall roughly the same happens for Easter) shows the lingering influence of the white Christian colonizers two centuries back.

    Damn sight better than life on Pitcairn Island, though. I have not enjoyed reading what I've read about the culture, there, and don't recommend looking it up, for reasons similar to world news.


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