Leverett Butts - Musings of a Bored English Teacher

Occasional web log from Southern writer Leverett Butts.

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Location: Temple, Georgia, United States

English Professor in Georgia. Writer of Southern lit

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The tally of broken resolutions begins.

I took twenty-three days and a visit to Jones Bar-B-Q to do it, but I've finally broken my first New Year's Resolutions (3, 5, and 20 to be exact). My wife and I have been on the Atkins diet since New Year's Day, and we had been fairly successful. I had lost about twenty pounds, Tina twelve. We were fairly happy with the diet.

Basically, this diet makes you eat meat and salads the first few weeks because you're only allowed a few carbohydrates per day (about twenty during the first phase which lasts until you've lost the bulk of the weight you want to lose). Sure there were some pains in the ass since we couldn't eat breads and sugars. I couldn't eat my sandwiches (which I believe are the most perfect food on the planet), Tina couldn't have chocolate, and neither one of us could have my grandmother's desserts. The list of vegetables we couldn't eat also meant that we couldn't eat much of my grandmother's Sunday dinner either. Most fruits were out, too: no oranges or grapefruits, bananas were a no-no, and we couldn't so much as look at an apple. Oddly though, while potato chips were most definitely out (along with all root vegetables) we could eat as many pork rinds as we could hold. There were drawbacks, yes, but we were coping and coming along fine.

Meat and salad, then.

Last Friday, neither Tina nor I felt much like cooking. She'd been at work all day, and while I hadn't actually gone to work (I'm off on Fridays) I had spent much of the afternoon running around the underground city of Arx Fatalis battling evil with a song in my heart and a +20 enchanted sword of ultimate destruction in my hand (resolution #8), and I was just too plumb tuckered out to cook.

We were both a little weary of pork chops and lettuce, too.

We decided, then, to go to the Bar-B-Q joint right down the road from us for a change. Bar-B-Q is, after all, meat and Jones Bar-B-Q has a kick-ass salad bar (by Temple standards, anyway . . . they have three bean salad). They also have some of the best Brunswick stew I've ever tasted. And it has gobs and gobs of meat in it, too. My plan, then, was to have a heaping helping of chopped bar-b-q pork, and generous helping of salad, and a bowl of stew to top it off.

"It has corn in it," Tina informed me when I told her of my intentions.

"Yeah," I replied, "that's what makes it so good."

"It has corn in it," she continued, "Sugar, too, I wouldn't doubt."

Corn is one of those vegetables on the bad list. Lots o' carbs; sugar, too.

"But," I stammered, "It's Brunswick stew. You can't have bar-b-q without Brunswick stew."

"It has too many carbs, honey. You can't have it on this diet." (Tina had come off her diet the day before she was going to enjoy her stew [and cole-slaw, too, I might add, another taboo dish])

I sat staring at the menu. The waitress came, and we sent her away. I stared at my menu some more.

"You can still have bar-b-q and salad."

"It won't be the same," I mourned. "You gotta have the stew."

"I don't then," Tina shook her head, feeling my grief and perplexion.

I came to a decision. I laid the menu firmly on the table before me and looked my wife in the eye.

"I can't have orange juice," I said slowly, "I can't have a grapefruit for breakfast. Yesterday they had doughnuts at work, and I couldn't have one of those, either."

I took a breath.

"I could live with this," I continued, "but any diet that says you cannot have Brunswick stew with your bar-b-q had to have been developed by exiled Nazis and Al-Qaeda members. It smacks of communism and tyranny. It's downright un-American. Any diet that makes me talk like this is clearly a danger to society."

I took a breath. Tina looked at me as if my head had suddenly disappeared and been replaced by a very attractive display of potted roses.

"To hell with the diet." I said and when the waitress came back I ordered a bar-b-q plate with all the fixin's, a large bowl of stew, a sweet tea, and had a York Peppermint Patty for dessert.

Sunday, I ate two helpings of my grandmother's dinner and ate several of her chocolate chip cookies.

Last night I had a taco.

This morning I had regained five pounds and reneged on resolution #3.

But, hey, Arx Fatalis is still safe and resolution #8 remains intact.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Why I Hate Narrow-Minded Christians

Now, before you go getting your tacky ties and/or your robes (depending on denomination) in a wad, understand that by "narrow-minded Christian" I am not implying that all Christians are narrow-minded, nor am I claiming that all narrow-minded people are Christians. I am only concerned today with the relatively small subset of Christians who are, in fact, narrow-minded, or conversely, with the relatively large subset of narrow-minded people who are Christian.

In 1988, Martin Scorsese released his biblical epic, The Last Temptation of Christ. In this movie, as Christ hangs from the cross and slowly dies, he receives a vision of how things could have been different if he had only turned away from his mission. Here we see Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and having marital relations, then raising a family before Jesus dies an old and contented man. The implication, here, is that it's not too late. Jesus can presumably come down from the cross, take Mary by the hand and live the life of Reilly in some other country away from all the political machinations and spiritual upheavals in the Holy Land. It was (surprise, surprise) the last temptation of Christ before he chooses to complete his mission and die for the world's sins.

It is a beautiful movie which examines the much neglected human side of Christ.

Narrow-minded Christians hated it because it showed Jesus having sex with a prostitute (never mind that in the vision, Mary is no longer a prostitute and the two are simply reaping the rewards of holy matrimony).

"Why can't they make a film that portrays the Jesus form the Gospels," one evangelist questioned a reporter, "without all the artistic license and the Hollywood interjections?"

Eleven years later, Kevin Smith released his film Dogma. This film played with the inherent problems with man-made church dogma (specifically, the idea of the plenary indulgence). It also proposed that Jesus could have been black (not a far stretch considering the natural coloring present in many natives of the Holy Land). It also had as a major character, the hundredth-something great niece of Jesus.

Narrow-minded Christians feared that this movie would single-handedly destroy Christianity as we know and boycotted the film before it was even released. Though, how they thought anyone would take seriously a film containing a shit-demon as a major enemy and Alanis Morissette as the Creator is beyond me.

"Why can't Hollywood either stay away from religion or keep to the bible?" asked one narrow-minded Christian.

Mel Gibson just answered the narrow-minded Christian's prayers. He is currently releasing his film, The Passion of the Christ, based almost exclusively on the four Gospels of the New Testament.

Narrow-minded Christians hate it.


Because it implies that the Jews played a large role in killing Jesus.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the New Testament, don't the Jewish elders turn Jesus back over to the Romans after he pisses them off?

Don't the Jews of Jerusalem ask for the criminal Barabas to be set free instead of Jesus, knowing that he would then be crucified?

It seems to me that according to the bible, the Jews DID play a significant role in the crucifixion (hell, even the poor bastard getting crucified was a Jew).

Unfortunately, in today's politically correct climate, we choose to ignore the role Jew played in the crucifixion because we're all friends now. People will talk about how the writers of the New Testament don't really accurately portray the political world of the times in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the Romans and stop having Christians double billed in the gladiator pits with ferocious pointy-toothed and hungry animals.

And, you know, they may have a point. I'm sure that in actuality the Romans wanted to get rid of this upstart before he roused the Jewish nationals against the occupation. I'm sure the Jewish elders and populace had less to do with the crucifixion than is implied.

However, if you're going to make a movie based on the Gospels, you don't really have the luxury of fixing their inaccuracies.

However, if you're going to insist on the historical veracity of the bible, complaining about this movie because it shows Jews being partially responsible for Jesus' death is like my complaining about Amistad because it shows white people being partially responsible for slavery.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I'd just like to say that I haven't written anything recently because I've been diligently working on my new story (resolution number 10, for those of you keeping score at home). I'd like to say, further, that the story is rocking right along.

My detective, in true hardboiled style has gotten himself beaten to a pulp and found himself enmeshed in nebulous plotting on the part of the ambiguously insidious forces that run things from behind the scenes. He has further begun to believe that these forces may in fact be, or at least represent, the powerful eldritch gods banished from this plane of existence when the world was young in order to make room for mankind. He suspects that these forces are trying diligently to return to this plane and retake the sceptre of dominion over the world, using men as their unwilling thralls.

He realizes this, in part, because he has just awoken to find himself bound spread-eagled upon an ancient black altar on an island just off the coast of Innsmouth, Rhode Island, while misshapen priests in black circle him counter-clockwise chanting for the great god Cthullhu's ascendancy.

I'd love to tell you this. I really would, but the the truth is my story has gotten no further than "He looked like a fish to me, all bulging eyes oily skin floundering on my office rug." And I haven't written in so long because, quite simply, I'm a lazy, lazy man.

Monday, January 05, 2004

My New Year's Resolutions:

1. Exercise more (by more, of course, I mean to exercise any)

2. Lose some weight.

3. Don't find it.

4. Eat more fiber.

5. Eat less crap.

6. Fix the basement.

7. Fix the gutters.

8. Save Arx Fatalis from the demon Akbaa and his evil minions.

9. Rescue Middle Earth.

10. Write my new detective story between these two epic campaigns.

11. Finish reading the Philip Marlowe novels.

12. Focus on my job exclusively.

13. Focus on my family exclusively.

14. Focus on my friends exclusively.

15. Avoid a heart attack now that I'm in my thirties.

16. Keep my big mouth shut.

17. Be more supportive of my power-hungry politicians.

18. Be less critical of the mind-boggingly stupid.

19. Make a time machine.

20. Keep my goals within reach.