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Archive for May, 2012

I’ve debated about posting this because I know it’s controversial right now. I know many folks are going to disagree with me and I’m prepared to deal with that, I guess. But at this point it comes down to needing to explain my position to folks on both sides of the issue. I feel like I come across in some fora as equivocating.

First, the basics: I am a Christian who practices according to Mennonite faith traditions. I am married to a man I met in college and have been in this marriage for 21 years. It’s one of the happiest and most blessed features of my entire life. I also have homosexuals with whom I am very close.

That’s who I am. That’s what shapes my worldview and gives me this response to the question at hand.

In my mind there are two sides to marriage. My marriage especially. We had to get a license from the state of Indiana, just like we’d get to drive a car or to sell liquor or to put a deck on the back of our house. But then we were also married in the Evangelical Mennonite Church. To do THAT we had to attend counseling sessions with the pastor, make a declaration of faith and have a church ceremony complete with communion, where we dedicated our marriage to the Lord just as we dedicated ourselves when we elected to be baptised. In my mind I have two marriages. The one from Indiana and the one from God.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone of consenting adult age should be able to get the marriage license from whatever state they live in. Once we made marriage part of the State’s business and started handing out little treats and favours to encourage monogamy I think we owe it to people to say “go ahead.” After all, we wouldn’t deny a business license to someone because they were black or Muslim or a woman. We should have the same approach to marriage licensure that we do to others. Yes, there are some restrictions–you can’t drive a car under 16 without a farm waiver. Nor can you marry your sister. You can’t get a non-profit corporation status and earn a profit–nor can you marry more than one person at a time. (I’ll address polygamy another day.) It just makes no sense to me that we are using our religious objections to prevent a civil licensure.

By the same token, my Evangelical Mennonite church of my childhood believes that gays cannot be married in the eyes of God. So I don’t think that they should be forced by the law to allow homosexuals to have their weddings there. Of course that church also taught me that Divorce was an abomination in the eyes of God and that remarriage after divorce was a constant state of adultery. So why they are conducting weddings between people who have been divorced is something I question. We claim to hold marriage to a Christic standard within the church itself and yet we relax those standards in other cases all the time.

Do I believe Homosexuality is a sin? Frankly I don’t think what I believe on this issue matters. I’m not the one who offers redemption from sin. I’m not the one who offers punishment for sin. I do believe that everyone has been separated from God by our human, unholy natures and we enter into a relationship with Jesus so that we can once again speak with God. Part of that relationship is what we Christians call “the indwelling of The Holy Spirit”. That means that we get God with us at all times, affecting how we see the world and how we respond to things. Listening to the Holy Spirit in your life is one of the constant struggles for Christians, because we are so prone to letting ourselves talk over what the Spirit is telling us. But if you’re a Christian you’ve got the Holy Spirit and that will inform you of sin and wrong thought and action. God is God and I’m content to let God be that. I’ll let the Holy Spirit talk to Christians about whatever is in their personal life and how God wants them to handle it. I’m not God’s hall monitor, appointed to hand out tickets to people with their sins listed thereon.

I do know that if you aren’t a Christian you aren’t expected to abide by Christian doctrines and covenants. Why should you be? I’m not a Muslim; I don’t pray toward Mecca five times a day and I drink Coke. I’m not Hindu; I eat beef. So why should I expect people who aren’t Christians to act like Christians?

I do, however, expect Christians to act like Christians. That means, principally, that we love everyone regardless. Just the way God loves us. It also means that if something about someone else offends us or harms us we turn the other cheek. Even if you argue that the existence of Homosexuals being certified as married by the State harms the church-based institution of marriage you….that’s right…turn the other cheek. I personally don’t see how any more harm can be done to marriage than what we as a Church have already done. So it seems very arrogant to say now “we’ve broken our toys, and so you can’t have a toy because ours are broken and your toy will just make ours look more broken and busted.”

Then there’s the issue of Romans. I keep seeing people pulling out that Romans 1 listing of all the sins out there, because that listing includes homosexuality. (Along with a lot of other things…)

But there’s one phrase that keeps getting left out. God gave them over.

Whenever these things are listed everyone insists that we have to curb them in society because they’re sins. But the Bible itself says that God gave them over. What does that mean to us? Well, it means that we can and should tell people about God in whatever strength we’re given. We can and should let them find God using the roadmaps we’ve provided. But God tells us that, unless people are Christians they can do whatever. They aren’t expected to act like Christians.*

So all of this boils down to one thing for me. I think the only response we as Christians can have to the issue of marriage is to allow state-sanctioned marriages to be open to all citizens of the state.

In return I would ask that homosexuals extend the courtesy to the various religions that they continue to practice religious marriage in whatever manner their faith proscribes.

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*There are Gay Christians. And I believe that since they’re Christians they’ve got the Holy Spirit and their chosen church fellowships to deal with and where they stand with God is between them and God.

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I am at the intersection of several articles and comments, and they are setting my brain achurn. Over at the Nashville Scene, Betsy Phillips is talking about her most recent thoughts on the Obesity Frightfest. Over at Tiny Cat Pants, Aunt B. is talking about how scary the world can be for a fat person, especially when we see people hiding behind anonymity to tell us that all fat people are loathsome beasts who lack self-control and self-discipline.

Elsewhere people are talking about how if you are obese you will live to 95, but you’ll spend many of those years ::shock:: disabled. Then the comments veer into disgust at all the fat people one sees in wheelchairs and on scooters who are obviously too lazy to walk and too monstrous to eat like a “normal” person.

Two of my cousins–both of them young men, both of them “normal” weight–have been diagnosed with autoimmune disease in the last six months. As much as I hate it for them, there is a part of me who is relieved to no longer be alone on the island of misfit toys. I’m also very relieved to have other genetic links to the autoimmune chain. My mom put out some feelers to other parts of the family and now we’re digging up multiple relatives who have Crohn’s, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Hashimodo’s, Chronic Fatigue, and the dread catch-all Fibromyalgia. It seems that many people in my gene pool have been stricken. Our only fault is to have been born.

It’s not what we eat–some of us are fat, some not fat. It’s not our education level–we all have some degree of college, some of us have graduate degrees. It’s not ignorance–with the exception of me, all the stricken are either children of doctors or nurses or are nurses or doctors themselves. It’s not lack of exercise–before I was sick I danced and ran and weight-trained. My cousins played golf relentlessly, obsessively. It’s not what we eat–Some of us are vegetarians. Some of us eat red meat every day. It’s not where we live–we are scattered all over the world, from Michigan to Africa.

It’s just how the genetic throw of the dice landed for us. The same genes that gave us all happy homes with hardworking, intelligent parents who believed in sacrificing for their children’s education had to come up snake eyes at some point. And this is that point.

I know we Americans like to believe that our choices can control every outcome. We also have this eerie pastime of looking at others’ outcomes and attempting to divine their negative choices of the past. (“That wouldn’t happen if you didn’t have a baby at 14.” “That’s what happens when you eat too much.”) This culture needs to get over that festering self-determinism, because that is just not how the world works.

Bad things happen to good people because bad things happen to everyone. And they HAPPEN. Sure some things you can bring on yourself. Drive drunk and you just may kill yourself or someone else. Stab yourself and you’ll bleed. But you know what? Sometimes you are struck with depression or disability or disease because that’s just how life happens. The sooner you realise that, the sooner you stop trying to place blame and start trying to learn how to drive around the curves in the course the better off you’ll be.

And the sooner everyone stops trying to dig through the dank middens of other peoples’ pasts to blame them for things the better off we’ll all be.

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I’ve protested in this space before the marketing playbook of various Christian publishers over the last two years. Since series fiction is what most of them do best–or do most, anyway–many of the publishers of fiction aimed at Christian readership have adopted the time-honoured “first taste is free” marketing ploy shared by dealers of all manner of nonessential product. They’ll give you book one of the series for nothing, assuming that you’ll be back for books 2-59.

There are all manner of authors and readers protesting this method, but for the most part things have settled into a pattern. As long as the publishers are upfront about the religious content there isn’t too much dissatisfaction. But after today I have another huge qualm with the “try it instead of buying it” scheme.

Today I read a book from Bethany House publishing called Out of Mormonism by Judy Robertson. It retails for $10 (too much, I think) but I downloaded it for free a few weeks ago.

According to Goodreads, so did many other people.

Most of them are not Christians. But they were curious about Mormonism, as is much of the world with Mitt Romney in the spotlight, so they saw this free book and grabbed away. If they were expecting a book like any of the other “I’m no longer a woman in Mormonism” memoirs, they were disappointed. I’ve read many of those other books–most by women who’ve left fundamentalist sects–and they’re all pretty salacious, bordering on gossipy with lots of thirteen year old girls marrying seventy year old Prophets and that type of thing. This book on the other hand is pretty typical for a conservative Christian testimony, complete with the personal revelation from the Holy Spirit.

And therein lies my problem. There are certain aspects of Christianity which are by no means secret but are also by no means clearly intelligible to people who are not in the faith. A Christian understands when another Christian talks about hearing God’s voice, or having scripture revealed to them by the spirit. It’s part and parcel of participation in a mystery religion. While I’m not ashamed of this and will talk about it freely when asked, I also think it’s very important that we realise how these inside baseball terms come across to those outside the fence.

Frankly, if I weren’t a Christian and I downloaded this book free on Amazon I’d think that Christians and Mormons were equally crazy and that Mrs. Robertson was flat out delusional. She honestly doesn’t make a good case for herself at all; they started out Christian but only “social Christians”* and converted to Mormonism after a hardsell because all the Mormons seemed like “the finest people you’d ever meet.” After seven years of devoted Mormon living, during which she also struggled with depression, Judy Robertson had a moment of revelation from Jesus Christ one early morning. So she and her husband reconverted to Christianity, this time paying closer attention to what they were doing.

Now they make their living out of teaching against the Mormon faith.

So I have to wonder if giving this book away to just anybody is the right call. If we are trying to reach people with the Gospel, what good does it do to throw something like this–poorly written, facile, mean-spirited and full of inside terminology–out there?


*That’s a term used within the church for people who participate in church activities but are not in a devoted, personal relationship with Christ. It is not a term we apply to other people, generally. We don’t say “Hey, Jerry, you’re a social Christian.” But we will say in a testimony that ‘until I was 19 I was a Social Christian’.

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I’ve been hanging out in a few of the fora for Game Of Thrones–The TV Series Suggested By The Novels, which should come as a surprise to exactly no one.

Every week the show inspires the same reactions. People complain about the nudity. People complain about the violence. Somebody raves on and on about some tertiary character they think is “hot” and how much they wish that The Hound or Jaqen or Quorin Halfhand would make them his love puppet. (People are, in fact, weird.)

But then the eternal debate flares up and rages on. Someone–or several someones–will gripe about the show’s increasing departure from the books.* Then someone else will start yelling at the whiner/hater/sensible person that “you better stop criticising or they’ll cancel the show.”

This happens a lot lately, in a lot of fora I visit on a lot of topics. There’s this tyranny of the mediocre that asserts any complaint about a television show or a series of novels is going to cost the life of that end product. The assumption being that people would rather have a product they only partially enjoy.

As I get older I realise that the world is happier if the analytical folks like me tone down the criticisms that we believe are useful but others see as “haters gonna hate” or other nonsense. I really do try to not look at a thing and instantly come up with five ways it could be better–whether that “thing” is my own self or the way they have the condiments and accoutrements lined up at our special olympics Burger King.

But honestly, I wish the world would sometimes meet me halfway.

Frankly at this point I don’t CARE if they cancel the Game Of Thrones series; I’m not particularly enjoying it and I think it leaves people with a false impression of the stories at the heart of the books.

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*(I personally think that last night’s episode ended with the story turning into full-on fanfic. What else do you call it when a main character is faced with a dilemma that is a) out of character and b) so very much not in the books because of a) ?)

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I have a few friends who are parents of the coolest kids in the world. Kids that I love to hear about and kids that I love to talk to. Kids who are fully-realised people in their own right, who have been allowed by their parents to be the people they are and not the souvenir the parents want them to be.

As more and more of my friends and acquaintences have had kids, there are more and more well-raised, neat kids in the world. Because more often than not the people I know are raising people. Maybe it’s because the people I know are writers, bloggers, or other insightful folks.

I do not hate children. Nor do I love them. I love people, not really taking their ages into account. If I like you it doesn’t matter if you are 16months old or 76 years old. I like YOU for YOU. To say that I like or dislike children is like saying I like or dislike “food” or “places” or “things”. It’s too broad a category to smooth over.

A few weeks ago one of my friends–a parent of some of those neat little people–linked to a blog entry from Cafe Mom called “Meanest Baseball Fans Ever Rob Little Boy of Ball & Then Gloat About It.”

You can watch the video for yourself; the upshot of it is that a player threw a ball into the stands and the man who caught it was sitting next to another man who had a little boy on his lap. The man who caught the ball holds it up in triumph with a smile on his face and then hands it to the woman sitting next to him so he can take a picture of her posing with said baseball. During all of this the kid is bawling his eyes out because he didn’t catch the ball himself.

The chatter in the world of Moms seems to lean heavily to the favour of the kid. Apparently the general agreement is that the man should have given the little boy the baseball because…he’s a little boy? A little boy who is crying? I don’t know. Basically it’s that the kid has a right to the ball because he’s a kid.

And that sort of attitude really bugs me. I know that most parents would do anything for their kids, make any sacrifice for their child’s happiness. And that’s laudable for the most part, because that means that kids eat well, get good educations and can get their teeth fixed. But the entire world does not revolve around your child. And your child’s chronological status doesn’t earn them some grand entitlement. You don’t deserve better restaurant reservations at Disney World because of your 8 year old. You don’t deserve the last of a valuable toy at Christmas because of your 7 year old. And your kid doesn’t deserve a baseball he didn’t catch just because he’s a little kid who is crying.

Everyone has a story. Maybe the man who caught the ball was there with his wife who just beat breast cancer. Maybe he was on his honeymoon. Maybe he wanted to go to baseball games when he was a kid but his father was an alcoholic who wouldn’t take him so he grew up, got a job and bought his own ticket to the game where he finally caught the ball he’d wanted since HE was four years old. You just never know. Kids are people. Adults used to be kids. Sometimes the adult you see getting something you think your kid should have is someone who never had an indulgent childhood and is working their way to happiness as an adult.

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I just finished Port Mortuary, one of my juicy library finds and the latest entry in Patricia Cornwell’s sputtering-to-a-close mystery series centered around Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

This isn’t a book review, though. No. It’s not that, because as clever as I try to be behind the keyboard there are only so many times and different ways I can say “Gosh, this was an awful book.”

This is more of me, as a writer, contemplating one of the ways a writer can lose her voice.

Twenty years ago when Cornwell first came out with Scarpetta the books were sharp and intriguing and compulsively readable. Patricia Cornwell had lived a writer’s life to that point, doing the odd jobs here and there–including working as a denier in a mortuary. Her books were written in the corners of her everyday life, just like the books of most of the authors I know. Then she got very famous and very popular and very wealthy.

And it occurs to me just now that I can only think of one writer who has been able to maintain voice and readability once they hit the ranks of the superwealthy. JK Rowling. Well, and maybe Stephen King, who has repeatedly had his own mortality dangled in front of him as a sort of mantra and muse. Of course this new book of Rowling’s will be the true test, because with Harry she was finishing what she started when she was poor.

Once writers become wealthy, they seem to lose touch with the things that make stories readable. They still have their core abilities (for the most part), but they don’t have story. They’re living in a sort of Midas curse, where all they touch turns golden…and food is inedible and other people are kept at a distance.

It has long been acknowledged by Cornwell herself that Scarpetta is merely an exceptionally well-done Mary Sue, the version of herself that Cornwell would have been if people like that actually existed. So it’s very telling that as Cornwell has had financial success (and difficulty) and romantic success (and difficulty) that Scarpetta would become who she is in this dreadful story. No longer is she a competent and intelligent woman dedicated to finding answers and tracking killers. Now she has a different job every five minutes–either she’s the chief medical examiner or she’s on loan to some other arcane death investigation outfit–and she is perpetually annoyed by anything and everyone around her. The only character that brings her any joy is one newly introduced in this story. Scarpetta is visibly tired of every single person who is part of her life, because they have problems and keep messing up and are so very very human. Humanity is not something of which Cornwell herself is overly fond, it would seem. While the characters like Lucy, Marino and Benton are all reintroduced with mini-tirades which run down their myriad faults and recite the ways in which they have dared cross Special Kay, the loving introductions are all saved for material goods. There are fawning descriptions of shampoos and watches and smartphones. Over the counter drugs are introduced by brand name as if we’re reading The Price Is Write. Expensive clothing is praised–in one instance the same outfit is described three times in four pages–while the wardrobes of poorer people are mocked. Like Cornwell it seems that Scarpetta has fallen in love with money.

This book is ruined by its author having sold her soul. As a writer that makes me incredibly sad. But it’s also a very good cautionary tale. At the end of the day if what matters most to you is your craft it is probably best to not hope to hard for exceeding wealth, because that turns your wine to an unreadably bitter vinegar.

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The dogs are romping in the evening and I, well, I am romping in the Library’s virtual stacks. The Nashville Public Library has streamlined its checkout process for Kindle readers. No longer do I have to submit a blood sample to Adobe for the ability to use their Overdrive(R) EPub Reader. Okay, I exaggerated. No blood sample was required, but I did have to fill out a form and register with Adobe for a license to use their software. I’m not doing that. I’ve already filled out a gajillion forms with Adobe for all the iterations of Acrobat and Photoshop and Pagemaker and Creative Suite that I’ve owned over the years. I think Adobe has enough of a lojack on my person.

But now that my library card and my perseverance are all that are needed–thanks to nm for the heads up–I’m like a kid in a candy store. Or, in my case, a kid in the library. Even when I was a kid I went overboard at the library.

1. The ebook selection isn’t the best. But it’s already saved me $93 on books that I was toying with buying at some point. In one case (Micro by Michael Crichton’s Corpse) that savings is particularly welcome, seeing as it was the worst book I’ve read this year.

2. I am currently looking at “All Fiction sorted by Most Popular”. From these results I am rapidly concluding that the other ebook patrons’ tastes skew very heavily toward books with man boobs on the cover.

3. I am NOT going to read a series of books about little girls who dreamed of “countless ‘I do’ moments” and are now grown up and pursuing their own bridal dreams. Books that present weddings as the dream and end goal of women make me dream of self-harm. It’d be like reading a whole book about someone who really wanted to go to McDonalds or ride a pony. A wedding is a one-day event. Not a life ambition. If it is your life ambition, I’m very sorry for you. You WILL be disappointed by the greater portion of your existence.

4. There’s a book called “His Christmas Virgin”. I don’t think it’s about God and Mary.

5. The blurb on this book says that tragedy strikes a honeymooning couple on the Great Barrier Reed. It makes me think of a large pond with very menacing cattails.

6. I’m officially depressed by the number of books subtitled by their positions within various series. Can’t I just read a book? Does it have to daisychain into nineteen other novels?

7. Oh good. Now I can make good on my promise to my mother and read Unbroken without paying $20. (Yeah. I switched over to Biography & Autobiography. I was tired of looking at manboob.)

8. Heh. The average rating for Eat Pray Love among Nashville Public Library Patrons is 2 stars. Heh.

9. A bio of Hedy Lamarr is more popular than a book called “50 people every Christian should know.” Maybe Hedy Lamarr is Person #51. Maybe they should have included her in that other book.

10. There’s a book about a really cute cat who lives in a library. I’d check it out but I know I’d be in tears by page 3 and cry through the rest of the book.

Wow. I’ve been doing this for an HOUR now. I better move on to other things in life. Just think of the treat it will be when my email dings in with pickup announcements for the books I’ve placed on hold! Let’s hope all 48 books don’t come available at once. I don’t know if there is a two-week span wherein I can read Henrietta Lacks, Lincoln hunting vampires and a metric ton of fiction set in Ireland.

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For myriad reasons I am not at my brother-in-law’s funeral. I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at my body for being the way it is, angrier at air travel for affecting me the way it does or felt more helpless. I just want to envelop my nephews and niece in a giant, bosomy hug. When you’re sad it’s sometimes best to be hugged by a large woman. You feel hugged not only by a person but also by the essence of Comfort. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of those hugs…there are a lot of large women in my world. There’s a reason the scriptures are constantly talking about the comfort of God’s Bosom.

Instead I am keeping my home for my husband to come back to, practicing Shlom Bayis as we always do. It’s the only way I have to comfort those who need comforting.

Yesterday I made soup. I’m not sure why my genetic memory has me finding peace standing over a crock of cooking liquid, but it does. When I stand over my broths and gravies and chowders and bisques I always feel like a thousand women stirring a thousand pots over stoves and hearths and cookfires. I feel like I’m cooking food and brewing remedies. I understand why everyone was always wanting to burn us and drown us and press us under rock because there is magic in these brews. We pour all our love and understanding and knowledge of this being good with that and that pain needing this herb. It is a way that women are different, that our womb carries on even after it no longer produces children. We are compelled to produce life and to encourage it and to comfort it at the end.

It occurs to me that every funeral I’ve attended–save one–has been a Baptist funeral. And even the Nazarene funeral followed the cardinal rule of Baptist funerals. There was a ham. I don’t know if I can properly grieve without a ham and some cheese cut into triangles and some dinner rolls. I know it sounds like I just might be joking, but really I am not. For me that’s closure, the culinary version of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.

My husband* said last night that the viewing was scheduled for two hours but actually ran for five and a half. The people just kept lining up in a human chain that snaked around the church. Afterward they had turkey. I assume there will be ham today after the service itself.

I know that I’m an Anabaptist. I get that we Mennonites have our own ways of doing things. But I am now insisting that there be for me instead of a “viewing” where sombre people file past to have a look at the body I vacated there be food and drink and music. Not because I don’t want people to be sad, but because I want those sad people to eat with their bodies and their souls. They need to be fed because they’re still stuck in these contraptions that require it. Not that the line to my shell will last for hours, of course. Knowing me it’ll be over in thirty minutes or less. Like a pizza.

For now I’ll comfort myself with hearing a few hymns and having a piece of cold fried chicken. I think the chicken is Lutheran, or maybe Methodist. But today we can be ecumenical in our grief.

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*I know that most of you know his name. But it’s always been my #1 Rule of the Blog that his name not be written here. I don’t want people who google him professionally to be assaulted with a slew of ramblings.

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People Who Don’t Have A TV

That is a life choice, and one that you have every right to make. Making that choice does not automatically turn you into Einstein or Ghandi or some sort of a saint. You are not better than people who have tvs any more than people who don’t have boats are better than those who do. In fact, the way some of you go on and on about your Super Hipster Wonderfulness…you might be a little bit worse.

People Who Have Cancelled Their Cable

This is kind of a subset of the first one. In this economy it’s pretty common anymore for people to think “here’s a hundred bucks or two I could use for, like, food and stuff.” So there are a lot of people cancelling their cable. They can see and apply announcement #1 with the following addendum:

Stop telling everyone about it like you’re Warren Buffet or Alan Greenspan. It’s a basic household budget decision, not some great economic plan. We are not impressed.

People Who Get Their TV Shows Via Hulu

Yes, you’re smart. You’re hip and you’re cool. But you made that choice and so you can stay out of Twitter or off Facebook or, at the very least, off the forum talk boards for certain shows. Nothing is more aggravating than gathering to talk about a show only to have some budget-conscious hipster start raving about “Stop! I can’t see it until tomorrow! We Watch it on HULU!!!” If you save money by watching a show with a 24-hour delay, don’t hang around the water cooler.

People Who Watch Shows Via Netflix

These people are a thousand times worse and they drive me nuts. If you are getting a show in packaged form on Netflix that means you aren’t seeing it until two to ten months have passed. Do NOT go into someone else’s conversation where they are plainly talking about the show and then yell at them for spoiling it for you. This actually happened to me this morning. If you know you won’t see Eureka’s current season until Thanksgiving, don’t go to someone’s Facebook conversation about last night’s episode. Honestly.

Also, maybe you better not post snotty, snooty highbrow tweets like “Finally watching LOST on Netflix. Thought I’d try to see what all the fuss was about.” I know that you want to spin it like you aren’t the last kid on your block with X-Ray Specs, but this makes you come off like a tool.

People Who Watch Shows Via Pirate Bay

Honestly? Screw you. Just. SCREW YOU. I don’t say that often. But I say it now and I mean it.

I pay for HBO. That doesn’t make me a sucker; that doesn’t make me gullible; that doesn’t mean I’m wealthy. It means that I am a grown-up and I pay money for things that are for sale. I don’t steal.

You’re not striking some blow for Open Source. You’re just a cheap jerk who has no problem downloading Game Of Thrones and Mad Men and True Blood even though you don’t pay for HBO.

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