Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? North Carolina

Today I take on North Carolina in my quest to promote the wonders of a secular society; a society structured not around religious doctrine, but instead governed by reason and laws- laws such as the following which can be found on the books in North Carolina...

  1. In the city of Barber, it is illegal for dogs and cats to fight one another. 
  2. While having sex, you must stay in the missionary position and have the shades pulled.
  3. Elephants may not be used to plow cotton fields.
  4. It is illegal to have sex in a churchyard.
  5. No one may visit their departed loved ones late at night.
  6. Oral sex is considered a crime against nature.
There are more, but you get the idea.  Numbers 1 and 3 interest me. Was there a reason behind #1? Did Michael Vick move into Barber? 
#3 Just makes me make that face

Numbers 2, and 6 are pretty obvious examples of a blurry line between church and state. If your shades are pulled, how will they know if you're doing it missionary or if you're on page 86 of the Kama Sutra? And what about same sex couples? Is it still missionary if the girl is on the top and the bottom? As for oral sex being a crime against nature: I'm pretty sure that if we weren't supposed to do it, something bad would happen; maybe an electric shock or something akin to hemlock poisoning; your bank account would suddenly become overdrawn, your septic tank would back up. Something.

Number 4 is just plain bad manners. Number 5 is a little unfair. What if you work 2nd shift and the only time you get to pay your respects to Aunt Betty is after 11pm? I think if Wal-Mart is open 24 hours, the cemetery ought to be too. If you ask me, people ought to do more visiting the dead and less shopping anyway. Nobody ever ran themselves into debt or made questionable purchases like a Shake Weight while venerating their ancestors.

Fitness eh? If you say so...

I've got to wrap this up. I have an elephant to return.

Hail North Carolina!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? Vermont

Okay, here’s the deal. I have had a weird hectic day, and while I don’t think Vermont is any less important than the other states, I don’t have the energy to be either funny or erudite.

Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery, the first state to formally recognize same sex relationships, the fourth state to allow same sex marriage, and the last state to get a Wal-Mart. Then there’s Ben and Jerry’s. Vermont is also (according to the 2008 ARIS report) the least religious state in the union, with a whopping 34 percent of people saying they are not religious at all. Imagine that--all those people treating other people like human beings just because.

Hmmm…Don’t sell people, marry who you love, eat ice cream, resist Wal-Mart to the bitter end, go skiing. I’m tempted to say Vermont is not just a great state-it’s the greatest state.

Hail Vermont!

Photo credit Michael Bonfigli

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? Kentucky

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that since today is Kentucky day, and I am who I am, that I’m going to indulge in some juvenile giggle fest by posting about Big Bone Lick State Park, located on Beaver Road, just outside of Beaverlick Kentucky. HA! You don’t know me as well as you think you do. I have something else on my mind today.

Do you know what that ^ is? That is a photo of the side of my computer. It functions as a sort of bulletin board for me. Those brightly colored squares of paper contain phone numbers and addresses, grocery lists, birthday reminders, chore lists, tarot spreads I’d like to try, herbs I need to get, correspondences, bits of prayers and inspirational quotes, incantations, lyrics to songs, and recipes. It is basically an annex for my brain, holding things I don’t have room for in my cranium yet still need to be able to access quickly. My organizational skills absolutely depend on the great state of Kentucky, for here and only here is where 3M Post-it® Notes are manufactured, in the charming and picturesque city of Cynthiana, Kentucky.

I have a thing for Post-its. I can’t use the generic ones. For one thing, the glue doesn’t hold up. The most important function of a Post-it is its ability to stick to things; the off brand ones flutter to the floor the instant the temperature fluctuates or a cat hair gets too close. Also, the paper is of inferior quality and makes my ink or pencil smear; so it’s imperative that my Post-its only be the real deal made in Cynthiana.

We use a lot of Post-its in our house. Not only are they good for the aforementioned things, but they are superior tools of passive-aggressive warfare. My house is papered with snide remarks and “friendly” reminders to do things like shut the front door, put the toilet paper ON the spindle, throw the trash IN the can, and clean the catbox “when you get a minute.” I do believe that if we ever went to family counseling and developed healthy communication skills, 3M would go belly up. It’s in the best fiscal interest of the good people of Cynthiana that my household remain locked in a battle of wills.

For some reason, 3M won’t divulge how many Post-it Notes they crank out a year. It’s some sort of trade secret, although I can’t imagine how it’s relevant. Of course, since they don’t want me to know, I’m absolutely dying of curiosity. It’s like 3M is waging their own passive-aggressive war against me. They know I want to know, and they won’t tell me, and they know I’m not going to boycott because I rely on them to win my own petty skirmishes. It’s all very Machiavellian.

Here’s to Kentucky, home of Post-it Notes. Thank you for keeping me organized and victorious.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? Tennessee

What Makes Your State Great? Tennessee!

What is it about the Volunteer State that draws people like bees to nectar? Is it the breathtaking vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains? The awe inspiring magnitude of the Cumberland Gap?  Do they want to see the place that inspired Harry Warren and Mack Gordon to write a li’l ol’ song about a choo choo train? Are they packing up the kiddies and heading for a fun filled family vacation to Dollywood? Maybe they’re reveling in the rich musical history of the Grand Ole Opry, or paying their respects to The King at Graceland? Wait, surely it must be the barbeque?


What makes Tennessee great can be distilled down to two words: Tennessee whiskey. This libation is so distinct that it actually has a legal definition, and if a whiskey doesn’t fit that definition, it cannot by law call itself Tennessee whiskey. That’s pretty fancy for corn squeezins, and when it comes to corn squeezins, nobody is more famous for their use than the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee. Reportedly the best selling whiskey in the world, Jack Daniel’s is probably responsible for more births than any other beverage. It has inspired a plethora of country and western songs and more than a few rock‘n’roll songs. And while the powers-that-be at the JD distillery might disagree with me, I would bet that more than one long term prison sentence can be laid squarely at the feet of Old No. 7. Why, without Tennessee whiskey, there might not even be country music! No Opry. No Dollywood. No Hee Haw.

So the next time you extol the virtues of sobriety, think where we would be without Tennessee whiskey, and ask yourself, “WWJDD?”

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Makes Your State Great? OHIO

Ohio: high in the middle and round on both ends. That pretty much describes my figure since I hit middle age. *rimshot*

But seriously folks, my home state has much that makes it great. Ironically, one of the things that makes Ohio great is its mediocrity. We are so average here, so middle of the road, that we are used as the example of Middle America. Want to know how your new product will sell? Test it in Ohio first. Need to take the political temperature? Dip your toe in Ohio’s waters to see how voters will react. In films, the wholesome girl next door is from Ohio. Fictitious rock bands pay ironic homage to Ohio by opening their concerts with “HELLO CLEVELAND!” Real rock bands can’t wait to play here so they can legitimately shout the same words. Joe the Plumber, an iconic symbol of the middle class during the 2008 Presidential election, hails from Ohio.

So how did Ohio come to represent Americana? Strangely, the secret to Ohio’s middling reputation actually lies in its diversity. With a number of top ranked colleges and universities, including mammoth Ohio State University, Ohio draws students from all over the United States and the rest of the world, many of whom stay on after graduation and make their homes here. These students bring with them their culture, customs, and spiritual beliefs.

Another factor in Ohio’s diversity is its location. During Slavery, Ohio was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Many Blacks opted to settle in Cincinnati and other Ohio towns along the Railroad. The National Road (now U.S. route 40) also runs smack dab through the middle of Ohio, linking the Eastern and Western United States.

With these and other factors, it’s no wonder that Ohio is home to, well, just about every kind of person you can think of. We’ve got freaks, geeks, rock ‘n’ rollers and holy rollers, jocks, farmers, beauty queens, steel workers, suits, high society and just plain folks. We’ve got Pagans, Episcopalians, and Episcopagans. We’ve got Baptists and Wiccans (both known for their potluck suppers), Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, Catholics, Buddhists, Taoists, Methodists, Ba’hais, Muslims, Eastern Orthodox, Atheists, Agnostics, Gnostics, Red Road Walkers, Lutherans, Hindus, and people who identify as “Other”. I even know one guy who says he’s a Vaginist. Talk about pious! That young man is always ready to kneel and worship. And if the aroma around college campuses is any indication, Ohio is home to a LOT of Rastafarians. Hungry? I hope you’re in the mood for greekmiddleeasternchinesejapanesemexicanethiopianfrenchgermanitaliansomalianspanishkoreansouthamericancentralamericannortherneuropeanbritishirishscottishaustraliankenyanindianvietnamesecambodianlaotianpolynesianisraelicubansoutherncookinsoulfood, ‘cause that’s what’s on the menu in Ohio.

Hail Ohio, we make average extraordinary!

To Be or Not To Be: That is the option

(My apologies to Wm. Shakespeare)

 I really dig freedom. Freedom informs much of my spiritual practice, and indeed makes it possible. My religion brings me a lot of peace and joy. I think it makes me a better person and a better citizen. Because of this, I am in favor of others also being able to practice their faith in any way that brings them joy and makes them better people. I’m also in favor of others being able to not practice any faith at all. As long as everyone is relaxed and groovy, I’m down with however they get that way.

Now, it seems that what brings some people joy is the act of keeping other people from finding joy. I’m not sure that it’s a religion per se, (although it certainly appears to have disciples) or that it makes its followers better people, but I’m no judge of other folks’ spiritual practices. As long as I’m free to howl at the moon I’m pretty content.

Except that’s just it: some people don’t think I should be free to howl at the moon. And they don’t want you to howl at the moon either. These people have been waging a state-by-state campaign of imprecatory prayer, beginning with Hawaii and ending in our nation’s capital, to magically claim the United States for their god. If you’re unfamiliar with the term imprecatory prayer, I’ll just call it what it is: cursing. Now, I’m no stranger to laying a good curse. I’m of the “if you can’t hex you can’t heal” school of thought. But my curses have been few and far between, and only when I felt that my life or my loved one’s lives were at stake. I’ve yet to curse someone over a theological difference of opinion. You might as well curse someone over which way to hang the toilet paper. But these folks are actually engaging in maleficent magic designed to spiritually manipulate the good people in all 50 states of the Union just because they think their god should be The Boss of Everything.

So some like-minded folks and I got together to talk about what, if anything, should be done about these folks. There was a lot of talk, and differences of opinion, and more talk (Pagans are very long-winded) and I’m not sure but I think someone may have pulled their wand on someone else. And the upshot of all this is that we decided
nothing. That’s right. Nada. About the only thing we could come to an agreement on is that we all liked our country (for the most part) just fine the way it is. We were especially fond of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees us groovy rights like freedom of religion and speech, among others. So some of us decided to use the rights granted by the 1st Amendment to tell the world just what makes our individual states so great. We've been publishing blogs, and notes on Facebook about the individual states the day before that state is targeted to be “prayed” over. We’re hoping that these posts will remind everyone who reads them of just how lucky we all are to live in a secular nation where everyone is free to worship (or not) as they see fit. As of today, I will be joining my fellow bloggers* in posting a state a day until the culmination of the cursing. Feel free to contribute in the comments section your feelings on what makes your state great.

*For more on What Makes Your State Great, pay these blogs a visit:
The Secret Life of the American Working Witch
Cauldron Werx: A Room with a Brew
Confessions of a Modern Witch
The Gods Are Bored
more to come!

Next stop: OHIO!