Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bar Napkin Cartoon 29: Thanksgiving Edition

Still can't get the scanner to work, so this is another photo. Be thankful you're not me.


Monday, November 19, 2007

How To Love God Excerpt: Objection #3 Answered

I'm back! Took all day yesterday, but it worked. (The scanner's still not working, but when it does, we'll have cartoons up here as well.) In the meantime, here's a sample of what I wrote this weekend. Chapter Three answers objections that certain people will have to my whole analysis before I break it down and enter the middle of the book. I have identified four of the biggest:
1. Your whole premise is flawed, since it analyzes behavior instead of exploring spiritual truth
2. By looking at behavior, you're ignoring Christianity's greatest innovation: the concept of grace
3. When you say you want religion to be "decent," you really just want everyone to agree to your liberal agenda (women's lib, homosexual rights, etc.)
4. You were never really a Christian.

I'll be covering all of these shortly, but here's my answer to Objection #3. Please remember this is a first draft. Comments are encouraged.


3.) “Your view of religion is that you really just want everyone to be liberal and politically correct.”

As I’ve already mentioned, religion and politics tend to go together. Conservative religious people also tend to be conservative politically; the same applies to liberals. And it would be disingenuous of me to pretend I’m not a Democrat. I am. However, saying this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from G. K. Chesterton. At the end of Orthodoxy he says, “Now, as much as ever, I believe in liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in liberals.”

I feel you, G. K. As it happens, my own greatest gift as an analyst, to my mind, is my resistance to joining any group. My m.o. is, whenever I join a group, to start looking at it skeptically and making jokes about the group’s odd excesses. (Every group has some.) It happened when I was an evangelical and happens at every atheist meeting I’ve ever been to. So although I am technically registered as a Democrat, you’d be hard-pressed to call me a doctrinaire anything at all, and I can make Democrat jokes with the best of them. [FOOTNOTE: When I was at Hallmark, I wrote a card that read as follows. Outside: “This card is 100% politically correct and is guaranteed not to offend anyone at all!” Inside: “…which is why it’s not funny.”]

Except for this section, this is not a political book, and this is intentional. My only core belief is that if something is true, it ought to be accessible to everyone. The constant of acceleration due to gravity is neither a conservative nor a liberal fact. Liberals and Conservatives both love their children, blah blah blah. So while certain of my ideas are probably considered “liberal,” most of these ideas should be uncontroversial in any democratic society (example: I believe women and men should have equal rights and equal opportunity to succeed), and even the more “liberal” of my opinions are perfectly acceptable to libertarian types, and the only reason social conservatives don’t embrace them is BECAUSE social conservatives are so strongly influenced by religious conservatives.

So, for example, I refuse to believe that the concept of teaching evolution in the public schools is somehow a “liberal” idea; it’s an idea that is ONLY opposed by conservative religious biblical literalists, and so it’s a religious faith affecting a political ideology, not the other way around. Lots of people believe in evolution who also believe in states’ rights and a flat tax. Convincing everyone of the rightness of evolution is my aim because I’m in favor of looking straight at reality; it isn’t my sneaky way of smuggling in universal healthcare.

Ditto for gay rights. I don’t demand that everyone vote like me on this particular topic. But no sensible and informed person can reasonably hold any of the stereotypes of homosexuals that were promulgated in the ’50s and ’60s (it’s a personal choice, they’re constantly recruiting, they’re preying on our children, and they get that way by having distant fathers). The studies just don’t support these premises. So while there may be legitimate (or legitimate-seeming) reasons for denying gays certain rights—I don’t know what they might be, but I assume they exist—to the extent that religious beliefs encourage and reinforce foolish ideas about homosexuality (e.g., it’s a tendency you can be cured of) is exactly the extent to which I think they need correction. That’s all. Your religion shouldn’t prevent you from absorbing observed facts, especially when other people’s lives are at stake. But you make a mistake if you assume I’m just another interfaith guy like most of the others.

In fact, this is just as good a place as any for me to bitch about “interfaith” everything. In theory, because I’m a fan of religion, you might think that I’d be a good candidate for bemused outsiderhood on the fringes of the Unitarian tent, going to ecumenical peace meetings and interfaith dialogues on the roles of women, et cetera. Don’t you believe it. I may be a Democrat, but in my own way I’m very flinty-minded and practical, and as a result I have extremely low hippie tolerance. I love my appliances, I enjoy crappy TV, I don’t have the energy to be in a state of constant aggrievedness, and I know perfectly well that carrying a hemp bag around for my groceries probably won’t save any trees worth mentioning, compared to what could be done by just signing the damn Kyoto treaty. [FOOTNOTE: I’m no expert—no law says I have to be—but I can’t see how we’ll stop the destruction of the rain forests until we solve the problem of poverty in the Amazon, which is what’s fueling the destruction in the first place; I doubt that eco-tourism is a sustainable long-term solution either, but I digress. I can get behind fair trade coffee, foreign aid to needy countries, and legislation to change how we do business. But carrying around a hemp sack is just a pain in the ass for very little payoff. Also, white people shouldn’t wear dreadlocks. What’s up with that?]

Nevertheless, I keep trying. [FOOTNOTE: Although I’m technically an atheist, I have enough sympathy for the spiritual life that I tend to have more in common with Unitarians than I do with atheists. If Unitarian services were just a bunch of nice people standing around eating donuts I’d have very little to complain about.] And every time I go to a Unitarian service or some form of interfaith dialogue, I am appalled by how generally stripped of sinew it is, where one speaker after another quotes Mohammed, then the Buddha, then Jesus, then some Native American shaman, all of whom are being invoked in the defense of some moral idea so obvious (“war is bad,” “we should show mercy to the poor”) that it was barely worth footnoting.

It reminds me of another G.K. Chesterton quote. He said once about comparative religion that its proponents are forever saying, in essence, “Christianity and Buddhism are very similar, especially Buddhism.” By the same token, ecumenists far too often wind up saying, “The beautiful thing about all the world’s religions is that, when they’re boiled down to their spiritual essence, they all vote the Democratic ticket.” Which is not only self-serving, it’s not even true. You could just as easily make a very strong case that all the world’s great religions freak out around homosexuals, treat women as second-class citizens, and have absurd ideas about cosmology. So let’s not get cocky.

While I’m complaining, let me add that traditional interfaith music could induce comas: always something exceedingly mellow and acoustic, swinging from the rinky-dink clunkiness of fin-de-siecle piano hymns, to the loose and endless soporific of the Baha’i reggae jam. Or else it’s typical folk music: tabla this and klezmer that. The whole exercise feels like the religious equivalent of a beige NPR tote bag. I’d be a lot more awake in such services if I knew someone might do a cover of the Clash or Mos Def, or that someone at any second might pick up a hammer and start whaling on a gamelan. That would be cool, at least in part because not everyone would like it. I don’t see how you can have an interesting interfaith service if tolerance is guaranteed ahead of time.

This isn’t unfixable though. The only decent Unitarian service I’ve ever been to gave me hope about this. The sermon topic was materialism. I read the bulletin and thought, “Great. Materialism is bad. We know this.” But what was interesting is that this preacher—an import from Boston, in New York just for the weekend—said at one point, “Buddhists teach that the desire for material things is the beginning of suffering, and that the path to nirvana is through not wanting anything. But the Buddhists are wrong.” Wrong! I perked up. “Desiring things is one of the joys of life,” the pastor went on, “and the trick is how to do it without letting this pleasure turn into a trap for our souls. I’m convinced we can do this without cutting off an entire part of our human nature.” And then he went on to discuss really subtle distinctions between wanting and wanting too much, and how to tell the difference. It was actually interesting. It was thoughtful wisdom, not just polite cross-cultural sub-referencing.

Amen, brother! It has always seemed like a crock to me to talk about learning a little something from all the world’s wisdom without also pointing out which ideas are more or less useless. (I mean, come on. No eating bacon? That’s crazy talk!) And to an extent, the typical left-liberal approach to ecumenism has been guilty of exactly the things that Christian conservatives accuse them of: being so concerned about the unity of all religions that they eliminate all the interesting prickly distinctives that make the collision interesting in the first place. My own ideal of an ecumenical world is a bit like a pick-up basketball game in New York City. We’re going to play together, but we’ll also be telling jokes and throwing elbows. Don’t come if you don’t want to have a good-natured fight for some ground. With any luck, this book will be that sort of better ecumenism.

But I digress.

To make a long answer short: I don’t want people to be more liberal, per se. But I do want peoples’ conservatism, especially as it affects other people, to be based on facts we can all agree on. That just seems like basic democracy. If Mormonism ever became a majority religion in this country, I’d get very angry if the Mormon majority voted against my ability to drink caffeine on the theory that “the angel Moroni said it was wrong.” “But Moroni is invisible and I don’t even believe in him!” I would cry, in a probably vain plea for sympathy. As I see it, democracy should start with a common pool of knowledge, and that if you believe something that’s unproveable and unchangeable, it’s downright anti-American and selfish to vote for public policy on that basis alone. (And most people agree with me: even people who are opposed to homosexuality because of the Bible usually try to convince non-Christian people on some non-Biblical basis: that it’s bad for society or dangerous to children or some other thing that could theoretically be tested; they usually don’t say “The Bible says it and we should be a Jesus-honoring society, even if you’re a Hindu.”) If you think that’s some kind of radical form of liberalism, you should maybe get yourself get checked. I just call it fairness.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Update: I'm Not Dead!

I'm here at Kinko's/FedEx, paying $18 an hour for internet service, and I just thought I'd pop in to add that I still don't have internet access at my new place, but that should change this week. Normally I'd post during my lunch break at work, but things have been unusually busy.

On the plus side, however, I should be blogging soon about an unusual spike in my blog's hits, and I've written a chapter that I REALLY like--a "Response to Objections" that includes a blunt takedown of traditional "interfaith dialog" and ecumenism. (Upshot: we need to be less polite and more exciting.) Also: I bought a scanner! So from now on, expect cartoons that you can actually see clearly!

It's all very exciting. Now all I need is web access to express it. Ciao for now.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


For real this time, I'm about to unplug my computer. It and the exercise bike are the only things I haven't moved yet, and I want to get the handtruck back to U-Haul today. I'm only keeping the computer alive long enough to email my resume to myself (so I can access it from an Internet cafe somewhere). But since there's no web access yet at the new place, you can expect blogular silence from me for the next few days, alas.

Possible exception: if, in the next few minutes, I come up with a nice vocabulary poem for the word avunculocal. Or a subway poem about the occasional subway car that lacks air conditioning. But my muse is fickle and I expect there'll just be sudden silence.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pushy Deodorant

This might make me miss my train, but I have to share. I was just preparing for a shower, and opened my brand new deodorant stick--a new brand I'd never tried (Degree Ultra For Men). And this is what I saw as I prepared to apply it...

Now I feel like someone is yelling into my armpits. I really had plans to "go for" neither "it" nor anything else. So my day has barely started and I feel like I've let my toiletries down.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Would Jesus Go Braless?: A Review of the 2005 Bibles

[A Dave Update classic, just rediscovered and reprinted here for people who were never on my old mailing list:]

In the world of evangelical Christianity, the most reliable source of hilarity is finding what they're doing to reach the kids. In my day, the misfires included Steven Wiley's alleged rap song, "Bible Break," and a scripture-memorization role-playing game called Dragon Raid. (Unlike Steven Wiley, Dragon Raid is still around, failing to thrill a whole new generation of morally anxious nerds.)

Well, I've just discovered this generation's evangelical boondoggle, and baby, it's a gold mine.

My intentions were relatively pure. I'd heard about the new translation of the best-selling New International Version of the Bible called the TNIV ("Today's NIV"), and I decided to check it out. But I couldn't find it at my local Christian bookstore in Tallahassee because the TNIV had committed the terrible sin of blunting some of the Bible's sexism, by occasionally translating "men"as "people," and using the non-gendered "they" instead of "he or she." (Grammar nazis, back off; you criticize this elegant usage and you're criticizing Jane Austen, who used it quite frequently.)

"We can order it for you,"said the lady behind the desk at LifeWay, "but we don't stock it. We're associated with the Baptist church, and theBaptist church hasn't authorized it."

Who knew that the Baptist church hands out imprimaturs like the HolySee? And why would they dis the TNIV, but they evidently authorize the Living Bible, which is such a broad paraphrase that the Good Samaritanpays the innkeeper, and I quote, "two twenty-dollar bills"? But I digress.

I played dumb, Holy Fool style. "Why haven't they authorized it?"

"Well, it's a controversial Bible. Maybe you've heard."

I nodded. "Non-sexist . . .politically correct . . ."

"Exactly," she said. "Some people don't like it."

"But it's still a basically accurate translation, right? I mean, it still says 'wives, obey your husbands' in Ephesians 5, doesn't it?Doesn't it still say that women can't talk in church and they can'tpreach or have authority over a man?"

She nodded.

"Well, as long as the basic system is still in place, what are people getting so . . ."'

She shrugged. "If you'd like to order it, like I said, I can do that for you. But actually, I don't think you'll find it in any Christian bookstore in town."

That piqued my interest. An actual Baptist conspiracy to keep this Bible out of my hands! This could be the coolest Bible since 1957,when—according to a tract I found at my old church—Satan inspired theRevised Standard Version. (The RSV's sin was that it correctlytranslated Isaiah 7:14 for the first time in Christian history; it's a long story.)

I had to know. So I went to Borders and found it. And, in the tradition of Christian anticlimax, all this apoplectic dudgeon turns out to be over stuff you'd have to be an asshole to find objectionable. (Exhibit A: Harry Potter.) It really is just a slightly tweaked NIV, and if you weren't looking for stuff to be horrified by, you'd never notice.

But I can't complain, because while I was searching for the TNIV, I came across two tall brightly colored magazine-looking things called REVOLVE and REFUEL. I'd read about them. Essentially, it's a way of packaging the New Testament so that it looks like a teen magazine. REVOLVE, for girls, has pastel colors, flower-shaped cutouts, and two smiling teen girls on the cover surrounded by titles like "What Kind of Friend Are You? And Other Relationship Advice", "Beauty Secrets From the Inside Out", and "Guys Speak Out On Faith, Love, and Much More!" REFUEL, for the guys, has a rock band on the cover, and said cover promises "Music Reviews!" "Today's Hottest Songs!" and "100 Practical Ways to LiveYour Faith". Both of them also, of course, contain "2 Thessalonians!" But you have to find the table of contents before that rates a mention.

And speaking of making sense, there's almost no thematic consistency to any of it. Sure, every so often you'll get a sidebar to, say, the Love Is chapter in 1 Corinthians. These are called "Live It!" and they include exercises like "talk to someone unpopular today." But most of this Bible is interspersed with facts at random, with a weird mix of entertainment value and preachiness. Example:

"Want to give your family a manly gift that screams 'I CARE!'? Buy anextinguisher with a label that says ABC for each floor of your home." (REFUEL p. 126)

Dude, whatever. I was just trying to find Colossians. Or how about this little non sequitur: One page has a list called "RandomPhobias Worth Having," including—as all such lists do—reasonable phobias like arachnophobia (spiders) and silly ones like the fictional arachybutraphobia (fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth). I normally wouldn't have mentioned something this stupid, but I was offended by number eight:

"Random Phobias Worth Having: 8. hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia—fear of long words."

I hate to pull rank, but I'm a word guy, and that's not a word in any dictionary anyone actually uses. But even if it were a word (and/or a plausible fear), it would be the shorter "sesquipedaliaphobia." (From "sesqui," one and a half, and "ped," foot.) Which means their version, in addition to offending linguistic sense, is also misspelled.

Some of these tidbits are just not worth mentioning:

"FUN FACT: 51% of the population is composed of women."

Surprised? (And if so, perhaps you were home schooled.) But then there are other facts you have to wonder why they mentioned at all:

"FUN FACT: 43% of all adults said that reading a magazine with nudity or explicit sexual pictures was morally acceptable."

That really IS a fun fact! And I learned it from the Bible! Or check this one out:

"DIDYAKNOW: Teens who pledge to remain abstinent delay their first sexual encounter by an average of 18 months and, after becoming sexuallyactive, have fewer sexual partners." (Revolve, p. 20)

I assume they're trying to say that since sex is bad, abstinence pledges are a good thing because it cuts down on sex. But—oops!—this statistic, right here in this Bible, practically comes right out and says,"abstinence pledges don't stop sexual behavior, and in fact merely delay the inevitable." Hell, since you're going to sin anyway, you may as well give up right now and beat your fellow youth group members by a year and a half. Thanks, Dr. Science!

But the best part of these Bibles is the little sidebars of moral Q andAs where the editors offer advice. (In Revolve, they're called "Blab.") Here you get alleged real questions from allegedly real teenagers, answered in accordance with some allegedly literal reading of the Bible. The weirdest question I ran across was this:

Q: I want to wear a ring to remind me to remain pure. Does it have to be a certain kind?

But most of them are standard cautionary exchanges. "Q: Can I see anR-rated movie? A: Sometimes, but examine your motives and don't enjoy it for the wrong reasons." "Q: Is it okay to play kissing games? A: You're making Baby Jesus cry." Here's a typical example:

Q. How much beer can I drink before it's a sin?
A: There's no easy answer . . . [but] . . .if you never start, you never have to stop.

See? "When in doubt, run away." Of course, depressingly, most of the advice centers on sex, and suffers from the standard evangelical Christian paradox: "God made sex a beautiful, powerful experience for youto share with your opposite-sex partner. Until then, don't you dare enjoy any part of it, which is what we'll suspect you're doing if you askabout it too much."

Naturally, women get most of the stern talking-tos. Men merely need to control their thought life. Women, on the other hand, need to control themselves AND men's thought lives that they might affect by accident.(Women, by contrast, don't seem to have thought lives worth worryingabout.) I've included three exchanges as an example. WARNING: May cause headaches.

"Q: I like tube tops and low-rise jeans. My parents say I dress immodestly. I only wear what's in style. Are they right?"

Frankly, I think it was unfair of the editors to sneak in a question from 1976. The answer, of course, is "Don't wear tube tops. Tube tops arenever in style, and even when they were, they shouldn't have been. Wear halter tops instead. And as a Christian, you should only wear a halter top with an ugly ecru-colored bra that's a quarter inch thick."

"Q: Is it okay to go braless?
A: If your breasts are very small and the material of your shirt is thick enough that it is not noticeable, maybe. For everyone else, no way. First of all, not giving your breasts support will eventually contributeto their sagging. Second, your breasts are very attractive to guys. Without a bra, your nipples are much more noticeable and a distraction and temptation for men."

If sagging is such a sin, it's apparently against God's will to be a woman and forty. But that zany logic aside, I don't understand why they didn't add, "And by the way, we hate you for making us write the words 'breast' and 'nipples,' which are words that are also arousing to guys and cause them to sin. Just put those things away and let's never mention them again."

"Q: How far can you go sexually before you are no longer pure?
A: Let's put it this way: How much dog poop stirred into your cookie batter does it take to ruin the whole batter? . . ."

The fearmongering continues from there and this is where the mask comes off. Sex = bad! It's a good thing they didn't continue this argument, though, because it might sound something like this: "However, dog poop is a precious gift from the Lord, and once you're married, you can eat all the dog poop you want. And you know what? You'll appreciate it more."

But sometimes the question involves something the Bible isn't particularly clear on. What's a literalist to do then?:

"Q: I have a crush on one of my high school teachers. He's young, awesome, and so hot. What do I do?
A: It'll never happen, and it'd be illegal if it did. So shut up,masturbate, and enjoy the fantasy while it lasts."

Just kidding. The real, less practical answer that actually appears is this:

"A: Remember Song of Solomon 8:4, which warns young virgins not to awaken feelings of love too soon. Falling for someone in authority . . . is not unusual. But it can create a big mess. Ask God to redirect your thoughts . . .If God really wants you two to be together, it will be after you graduate."

Notice how the Bible kind of lets you down here? If you're so desperate for advice that you start reading Song of Solomon like it's Dear Abby, small wonder you'll eventually come to loopy conclusions like, "Well, if it's God's will, maybe you can marry your teacher when you turn 18. It's an okay idea if you can pull it off, Biblically speaking."

Of course, sometimes they don't even use the Bible at all.

"Q: There's a guy at school I really like. Is it okay to call him and ask him for a date?"

I deleted the wordy response but the upshot is, Yes and no. It's apparently okay for girls to call guys if they're friends, but you shouldn't call a guy you're crushing on because, and I quote, "Guys are created to be the pursuers." You might ask, "Where is any of this in theBible?" Apparently it's in the Book of Presumptions, along with such verses as "Taking God's name in vain includes the word 'fuck.'" and "Abraham Lincoln believed in the Rapture." P.S. Ignore the book of Ruth; she was a hussy.

Here, however, is my favorite question of all, and I'm glad the editors of Refuel saw fit to include it:

"Q: Did Jesus sport any tattoos?
A: In Leviticus 19:28 the Israelites are told not to get tattoos. . .Why do you want one? God built you an awesome body, and you need to think hard about a mark that will show when you get a sponge bath in the nursing home."

That nursing home thing is a crock. After all, didn't Jesus say, "Don't worry about tomorrow"? (A: Yes. Yes, he did.) But the most embarrassing problem is that they're wrong about Jesus. At least, if you're taking things literally. According to the very student translation that contained this advice, Revelation 19, verses 12 and 16 describe Jesus riding from heaven on a white horse, and here's what it says: "He has a name written on him, which no one but himself knows. . .on his robe and on his upper leg was written this name: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

Bitchin' tattoo, Jesus! You rock!

But the reason I love this question most of all is because it's so dangerous. After all, the next obvious question is, "Did Jesus have piercings?"

Yes. Yes he did.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Need Help Finding WWJD article

I've just had a request (from NPR!) for some humorous religious commentary, and what I tried to hunt down was an essay I wrote a few years back called, I think, "WWJD--And Would He Pronounced it 'Wah-Woodjid?'" It was a review of WWJD--The Game, which I found in a Tallahassee supermarket several Thanksgivings back. But the only version I can find on my computer is the FIRST version, which is far too short and only quotes one of the cards. I know I wrote a better version that quotes several cards, but I can't find it. Surely I must have sent it to some of you!

If you have it, please send me a copy. You'll know it's the right one if it contains a section that says stuff like, "Many of the cards present scenarios that I have a hard time imagining Jesus doing ('You and your friends decide to rush the sororities...')" It should also end with the phrase, "I think I played it last night, but it's hard to remember."

And in case you're wondering why I'm still attached to the Net, I chickened out at the last second and have kept my computer plugged in. It looks like I'll be moving it last, and I won't finish my move today, so until I'm forced to do otherwise, I want to keep my email access.



Okay. I'm unplugging the computer now. It'll be a few days before I have Internet access at the new place, so expect some silence till then. Here goes...

Bar Napkin Cartoon 28

(Found while packing.)


How Much Moving Sucks, and Other Things I Keep Forgetting

Thanks to a few stupidities (some of them from my landlord, some of them from me, since I was unwilling to let a friend come into town without hanging out with him for more hours than was probably wise), I am a day behind in my moving, and it doesn't look like I'll get the dolly back by 3 o'clock.

There's some insane optimism that strikes me every time I plan to move. "Oh, it'll be nothing!" I tell myself, looking around at my single room. "Just a few boxes of books, the computer, the TV, and a large bunch of clothing! How could it possibly take more than three trips?" This time I made an additional blunder: I thought, "I bet I can move that 23-inch TV all by myself!" But what I always forget is the hundreds of little things that lie around and that you have to do something with. The scissors. My camera. The stray box of Altoids. A bottle of wine and a bottle opener. Oh, look--I bought a can of beans! And here's a cord that might come in handy... Add this to the two bags of things I never unpacked the last time (turns out one contains batteries, medicines, and a spare toothbrush), and I find (as always, but I always forget) I have a whole helluva lot of miscellanea I hadn't really budgeted my time for.

So I'm now in the moving doldrums. The big stuff--the books and clothing, basically--have all been moved, and now I have the stuff that's a bit more annoying (my collection of games, for example, takes up an astonishing amount of room). I have to either move that or move the heavy stuff, such as the exercise bike (it's got wheels, thank heaven) and the computer. And since I'm only going to be in this new place for a few months, I am committed more than ever to get my possessions down to a manageable size. (My friend Michael said yesterday, "If you're renting in Manhattan, you really should try not to own more than you can put in a cab.") So if, over the course of the next few weeks, you see me giving away vast swaths of my possessions, it's because I'm trying to become horribly, horribly efficient, not because I'm committing suicide. Unless, I suppose, it's by degrees.

Okay. Break is over. Time to move more goddamn objects.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Where To See Me

I'm performing in two shows this week, both in Manhattan.

Monday, Nov. 5th @ 8 pm

Andy Christie's Liar Show
OCHI'S LOUNGE (Downstairs at Comix, 353 West 14th Street.)

NO COVER; 1 item minimum


Tuesday, Nov. 6th @ 8:30pm:

SpeakEasy: Stories From the Back Room
Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village
29 Cornelia St (intersects with 6th Ave & 4th St)
(Subway D-F-A-C-E to West 4th; 212-989-9319)

$10 plus one food or drink minimum

If you're coming, why not let me know? That would be even more fun.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Pictorial Good News

Good News #1: The Ebony Hillbillies have doubled in size!

Good News #2: I saw a SECOND erhu! So there are at least two of them on the subway-busker system, and soon dictionaries everywhere will have to take notice!

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Hooray for Tri-State HopStop!

I just noticed: it looks like HopStop--the how-to-get-there subway site that I can never do without--is looking to expand its coverage to include New Jersey, parts of MetroNorth (including Connecticut and Philly) and--less interestingly--Long Island. They're in beta test right now. Woo-hoo!

The biggest problem for me when shopping for apartments is that although there are many inexpensive apartments in New Jersey and northern New York cities, it's impossible for me to judge how far they are from my work. When the same thing happens in Queens and Brooklyn, I find the apartment's address, plug it into HopStop, and get a sense of my commute. Until now, that has never been possible for New Jersey or anywhere outside of greater New York. Fortunately, HopStop apparently realized how silly this was, since the city is only part of the tri-state area, and we all need to get around the entire place. So NOW (or at least very soon) I can finally put New Jersey on my shopping list, next time it becomes necessary.

And, of course, visit my New Jersey friends, if I make some.

Weekend Plans

I really really really want to finish my book proposal! But unfortunately I'm moving this weekend. Fortunately, it's only a block away, so it won't be a HUGE pain. Unfortunately, it's still basically me and a handtruck, since the work itself is so trivial it hardly seems worth asking people to drive out to help with. (Besides, my new roommate has a pickup! So that'll help with the few heavier things.)

Anyway, here's hoping I'll have time to actually write this weekend. I have a chapter planned for How To Love God Without Being a Jerk that's a.) about evolution (and science in general), and b.) suggests a way for evangelicals to read the Bible and science harmoniously that literally no one (to my knowledge) has ever suggested. And I think it'll work!

So anyway, wish me luck. Might be a light-posting weekend, for obvious reasons.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hallucinatory Bartman

Another Halloween in New York City, and again I forgot to bring a decent quality camera to show everyone what 14th Street is like. But here, at least, thanks to my cameraphone, is the first odd thing I saw when leaving work: a guy walking through Koreatown carrying a gigantic Bartman doll. 34th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue.