Friday, October 31, 2008

Trapped in Chicago Bookstore

Hotel room view, across Grant Park towards the Field Museum, Aquarium, etc.

When I booked this hotel, across the street from the Chicago Hilton Hotel, the AAR's main annual meeting venue, I had no idea that it was only a block from one of Chicago's Powell's bookstores. M. and I are in deep trouble.

I restricted myself to just two purchases today: Anna Reid's The Shaman's Coat: A Native History of Siberia and Giorgia Geddes' Nichivo: Tales from the Russian Front 1941-43. Both count as "research." (Those are Amazon links, but you can search Powells' inventory through Advanced Book Exchange.)

And given the heavy emphasis on book-buying at AAR, I still do not understand why someone does not set up a "pack-and-ship" booth in the exhibit hall!

The coffee shops are filling up too: "My dissertation advisor thinks I should go for publication, so he's being real hard on me."

Good luck with that.

Here is a spooky story, worthy of Fate magazine. Political writer (and Orthodox Christian) Rod Dreher has his own ghost-story post.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Off to AAR

I post this from the Wireworks cafe in Pueblo, partway through our journey to the train station.

I hope that I have everything I need for a successful conference session:
  • two printouts of my paper, plus copies of the photos that go with it, on both CD and flash drive
  • registration materials
  • photos of dead people
Doing a paper on the Day of the Dead at two Southwestern universities, plus attending a Samhain ritual. Too much?

I'll try to post more as the meeting continues.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spinning Flaming Pentacles

Writer Dianne Sylvan blogs on her early Pagan days -- books, groups, Marion Zimmer Bradley ...

But my favorite paragraph was this one:

Good god, Pagan websites used to suck. Remember MIDI files of Enya and spinning flaming pentacles? Black star-flecked background with violent purple lettering in 20 point font? Remember when cut-and-pasting Scott Cunningham was all you had to do to make your Geocities site popular?

Oh yeah. But I think I still have a folder of flaming-torch and spinning-pentacle GIF files somewhere on my hard drive. Do you think they might ever become retro-cool?


Friday, October 24, 2008

Gallimaufry with Pumpkins

Since there won't be any on-time Hallows blogging from me this year, here is an early sampler:

¶ Rod Dreher finally sees autumn arrive in northern Texas.

¶ A Halloween column: "Hitchhiking in the Land of the Dead."

¶ A pastor's rant against Halloween, via The Gods Are Bored.

¶ Since I won't be able to take any photos this year, here are some of last year's Day of the Dead altars built by students at Colorado State University-Pueblo. For some reason, the Vlad the Impaler altar has been drawing a lot of Google hits for the past two weeks ...

Labels: ,

Joe Biden Freaked by Naked Goddess

This happened just down the road from me, but I had to read The Wild Hunt to learn about it.

Vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden was apparently unable to give his standard speech in the presence of a statue of the goddess Diana in downtown Pueblo, so the goddess was covered by black cloth and hidden by a flag.

"Is he just as bad as Palin?" M. asked.


UPDATE: Joe Biden as channeled by Iowahawk.

"I'm not going to lie to you - it doesn't take a weatherman to know that hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, a hard rain is gonna fall, all along the watchtower," said the Delaware Senator, strumming on a pantomime guitar. "There will be a point -- maybe one week, maybe two weeks after the inauguration -- when the opinion polls will look bad. Really horribly bad. Despite our best efforts, a couple of mid-size cities will inevitably be vaporized. People will be complaining. 'Why are you nationalizing the Safeway?' 'When is Omaha going to stop glowing?' 'Why do the Chinese soldiers keep asking for my papers?' When this happens, we will need you to keep supporting us because, trust me, you really won't want to be observed not supporting us."

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why I Am Not Blogging Much

I have a number of substantive posts that I want to write, but I seem to not be getting to them.

Reasons: I am trying to finish a paper to be presented at the AAR. The easy narrative part is done, and so I am struggling with the theoretical part. Only to complicate things, it's a co-written paper (with slides to be projected in sync with the text), and I have to see what my co-author will add, and how it all be integrated.

Are co-written papers a bad idea? Probably, if you both have busy lives and live 1,200 miles apart!

And then I have to finish reading and making notes on a new religious-studies textbook that I am supposed to copy edit and put into InDesign, knowing that the publisher and the general editor will be at AAR and will expect me to have intelligent things to say.

There are some posts (more to come) about M.'s and my Yellowstone trip on the other blog.

Expect more here, one of these days.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Finding Relief from Political Advertising

Colorado is considered an important swing state in this year's election (that's a first!), so lots of money is being poured into television advertising, both in the presidential race and in the race for retiring Senator Wayne Allard's seat.

The other problem that our state laws make it almost too easy to initiate ballot issues, meaning that this year's paper ballot is three (legal-sized) pages long. County clerks warn of long waits on election day.

Since M. and I will be traveling on Election Day anyway -- on a train between Chicago and La Junta, Colo., if all goes according to plan -- we voted by mail this year for the first time ever.

I will miss the ritual of going down to the old schoolhouse to vote, although there were some problems last time.

But all of a sudden, the back-to-back political ads on TV don't bother me as much. It is as though they are advertising remedies for a disease that I don't have. What a relief.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Gallimaufry with Advanced Fashion Sense

¶ Aphrodite Pandemos thumps Allah again. But watch out for Allah's exploding devotees.

¶ An interview with Sarah Kate Istra Winter, author of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored.

¶ Adeona is a open-source program that helps you find a lost or stolen laptop computer. It's named after a Roman goddess.

¶: It's not too early to think about how you might recast your personal style when you are older: Here is a fashionista blog for older people.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Ritual with Swan's Eggs

The November/December 2008 issue of Archaeology magazine contains an article titled "Witches of Cornwall," about odd, ritualistic or votive burials of skins, eggs, and other items at a place called Saveock Water.

These burials took place from the 1640s at least through the 1950s.

There is as yet no link to the article (so ask a librarian), but this site gives some of the same information.

The writer, Kate Ravilious, creates a purely hypothetical spell that might have accompanied one of the offerings:

Take a swan and wring its neck. Skin the bird and, under a full moon, lay its skin in a shallow hole with the feathers face-up. Add eggs--five for every child you want to bear. Atop each egg, place the talon of a blackbird and a black stone. Circle the hole three times, clockwise, then close it with a clod of earth. As soon as you are with child, empty the hole, or terrible things will come to pass.

(Wringing the neck of an angry adult swan might be harder than Ms. Ravilious realizes, however. Apparently her magic is not for the faint-hearted.)

Archaeology put a link up.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

These Witches Have No Covens

The New York Times profiles a California water witch (dowser).

How many rural witches are still around is an open question. Water witches have no trade unions — or covens. Few advertise, or dowse full time.

I learned dowsing on a construction job, and I had no "intuitive sense" of where the rural gas line in question was, so I do not buy that explanation of how it works.

There is a national society of dowsers, headquartered in the same little Vermont town where M.'s father grew up. (A civil engineer by profession, he accepted dowsing too.) It used to be all practical dowsers like this guy, but in recent decades the "earth energies" crowd seems to have a growing impact.

Labels: ,

Green Egg Omelette Available for Pre-order

Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles from the Legendary Pagan Journal will be shipping soon and can be pre-ordered from Amazon with the link above or from the publisher.

Oberon Zell did the heavy lifting: tracking down long-lost contributors, making editorial decisions, and laying out the pages. I wrote a general introduction and shorter introductions for each chapter.

The chapters are organized thematically, with such themes as New Pagans; Old Pagans; Magick, Arts & Crafts; Gender and Sexuality; Power & Politics; and of course a Fiction chapter.

Labels: , ,