Thursday, March 23, 2006

magic-eye jesus

Tonight as I was going through the day's mail, I came across an envelope that looked alarmingly hilarious. The front has some garbage about blessing homes and the back has an incorrectly punctuated, badly written, arbitrarily highlighted prayer to Jesus. So of course I had to open it. What sort of hilarity would be on the inside? It's hard to get more idiotic than "bless the one who's hands open this letter," but I had a feeling they'd find a way to make it happen.

I was not disappointed.

Inside was a letter addressed to "someone connected with this address." They don't care who -- obviously, if I am the one to receive it -- but they do have a detailed set of instructions for "someone."

In one of those obnoxious pseudo-handwriting fonts in the middle of the page is written "God's holy blessing power is in the enclosed anointed prayer rug we are loaning you to use!!!"

Just in case you don't get your own miraculous Jesus prayer rug via the USPS, I will explain it to you all.

First, they want me to know that this isn't a scam. They reassure me that they are a "very old church" -- in fact, they're at the ripe old age of 55. They want me to take the enclosed "prayer rug" (which is actually a drawing of a white guy -- so right there, it can't be Jesus) and sit in a room ALONE, which is something they define as "just me and God." I guess they don't know what "alone" means. I'm supposed to focus on whatever I need -- health, joy, peace, "a new car, a new house...or whatever." They tell me I am to lay the prayer rug across my knees as I focus on whatever it is I need. And I will notice as I first look at the prayer rug, Jesus's eyes are closed -- but through what I can only assume is some sort of divine magic, I will see his eyes open! Oh, how lucky I will be to be able to see such a thing. For then I will truly know that Jesus sees my needs. And somehow, the good people at St. Matthew's Churches (they insist on the plural -- I have a feeling this is just some guy named Matt, but I digress) know that because I have been chosen to receive this miraculous gift, I might want to donate to them a significant portion of my IRA. I don't know how they knew this, but I suppose the lord truly does work in mysterious ways. After all, it's not like I'm just anyone -- I'm someone. And I am connected with this address.

They also included an expanded checklist of things to pray for -- just in case I might not be immediately aware of how much my life sucks and how much better it would be if I stopped working and saving my money and instead prayed to a piece of paper and gave them my PIN.

Some of the things on that list are, as I've mentioned, a new car and "a money blessing." And that's when I stopped being amused and started being kind of pissed.

I'm not a religious person, but I do believe in certain things. I don't know if I believe in god as an entity, but if such an entity does exist, it isn't going to start handing out cars or blank checks. If god could bestow money onto mortals, then why wouldn't it deliver an armored car to good old St. Matthew's? Logic trumps religion every time.

Yeah, they're not getting this prayer rug back -- which they do ask for. I'm supposed to return Magic-Eye Jesus (it really does look like one of those Magic Eye drawings from the '90s that would morph from a bunch of spots into some picture as your eye muscles relaxed) along with my completed checklist, and while I'm at it, how about a nice little "seed gift" to help tip the scales in my favor.

On a less significant scale, it irritates me that they'd bill themselves as a "very old" church. 55 years? My dad is older than that. Furthermore, there are churches less than a mile from my house that are more than twice that old. Have these guys ever heard of Europe? Asia? There are some old churches, you fuckers. Go hang out in China and then come tell me how amazing your wouldn't-even-qualify-for-an-early-bird-special church is.

Also, if god wants to contact me, I doubt he's going to go through the mail. Burning bushes would attract a hell of a lot more attention and, I assume, would not be able to accept a monetary donation.

There's also a third page with a bunch of excerpts from letters from people who probably have Pat Robertson on speed dial. And NONE of the letters are actually addressed to St. Matthew's. It's all bracketed in. All but one letter talks about getting money. I guess they know the true spiritual desires of Americans. This lone letter is from a woman who was healed of hip pain by the magical prayer rug. It couldn't possibly be that her body healed or anything -- no, no. She was going to eventually die of hip pain and there was nothing anyone could do. But a piece of paper in the mail from some lunatic made it all better. Take that, medical science.

The other letters all say things like "God blessed us with $10,700." And no one asks where this money came from. As though thousands of dollars materialize all the time. When your unemployed husband comes home to you and your thirteen children with a bag full of money and you say, "Gee, honey, where did that come from?" and he says, "God blessed us. Now where's dinner?" you might want to watch the news that night. Somewhere, there is a store that won't be making its nightly deposit.

All cynicism aside, I'm going to try it. There is something I would very much like to manifest in my life at this time. I'm not sure if it's going to work, though, because it's not on the checklist. But I've written it in -- right between "My Soul" and "A New Car." And I will light a candle, say a prayer, kneel on the prayer rug, and slowly stare into the face of Jesus until his eyes open, and I will keep one glorious image in my mind -- the one thing my heart truly desires above all else. And, hands clasped in prayer at my lips, I will chant one word over and over.

"Taco. Taco. Taco."

delicious, delicious outrage

Many thanks to Miss Jessica for sharing the joy that is this article.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

killing all kinds of darlings since 1982

A few weeks back, some friends dubbed me the "karate abortionist" because of some joke I made about punching pregnant women in the stomach or something. I actually don't remember why I got the title, but I totally want that on business cards.

Amanda K. Hempel:
Poet, Karate Abortionist

And I have another title I'd like to add to my card: Chair Deconstructionist.

Ok. I am not petite. Nothing about me is small. (Well, except for my car, but through the magic of bumper stickers, it pisses off jackasses in a big way.) Still, I never thought I'd say this--today at work, I broke my chair.

And I don't just mean I bent a wheel or I put it on some goofy setting. Fucker is dead. There is no coming back from this. One of the little starfish-like limbs at the bottom completely snapped off of the chair. I have no idea how it happened. All I was doing was sitting down. I didn't body slam it or jump in--in fact, I wasn't even sitting all the way down yet. I think the wheel got caught in a groove in the little plastic sheet thingy (those things are so annoying--it's easier to roll a chair on carpet than on dented plastic) and then... I don't even know. Maybe it was because I'd just emailed a friend at work and referred to the chair as the Devil because it was so uncomfortable. It just lost its will to live.

So after the snap heard round the office (plastic makes loud noises when it commits suicide--did you know that?) I had to roll my now-gimpy chair into the training room. I suppose I didn't have to roll the chair down the hall, but the alternative was sitting there with the broken chair next to me. And frankly, I was afraid it would be like "Christine 2: Office Chair" and start regenerating its little starfish arm and then exact revenge by breaking my ankle or wheeling me down a flight of stairs. Then I rolled another chair--this one made of genuine pleather--out to my cubicle.

But no, it's not over yet. Then I had to compose an email to my boss explaining what just happened. I didn't hear any guffawing coming from his office (damn) but I'm sure he drooled just a little when he read it. I know I had fun.

It definitely livened up the day before I had to spend 8 hours working on one of the absolute worst shows on television--"Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns." I know, I say that about pretty much all the shows I work on, but I have proof--here's an outline of why it sucks.

A) Everyone sounds like the narrator from the "Henry VIII" film. Some of you know what I'm talking about. The rest of you should give me a call and ask about it. But so you have some kind of a context, I'm talking about horrible quasi-Cockney accents. It's the auditory equivalent of bad breath.

B) I don't know if this particular episode has aired yet, so I will spare you the specifics while sparing myself from getting fired, but the general premise of the show is that this supposed psychic/medium, Derek, runs around the UK with his sidekicks--a "paranormal believer" and an "open-minded skeptic." (They use those phrases in a stock opening as though they are actual credentials. Fuck it, if they can do that, I WILL get those business cards printed.) A ghost-hunting show has to be pretty fucking terrible for me to not like it, and I hope I never again have to suffer through an entire day of trying to decipher what these morons are trying to say. Maybe I just hate the British in general. ...Nah, I could never hate a group of people who drink that much tea.

C) One of the sidekicks is named "Angus."

D) I had to look up stuff on websites that use the word "magick." Kill yourself now if you have ever used that word in anything but an ironic context.

E) They turn off all the lights and record themselves in the dark for absolutely no reason. If I were the spirit of someone who died hundreds of years ago and I were angered by the presence of people in whatever building I was haunting to the point that I was trying to scare them away, then I would not be put off by a lamp.

F) Angus. Seriously.

G) Mumbling and talking over each other.

H) They tool around in a vehicle called the "Ghost Truck."

I) Complete lack of attractive people and wit.

J) British men shrieking because something touched them in the dark.

K) Was his mother craving a hamburger when she named him?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

i'm ok, you're going to hell

So here's a question. Why is it that judgmental people always take offense at being told that they are being judgmental? How can someone literally be in the process of judging someone else's life and then become irate at being told that they are being judgmental?

When some beauty-queen bitch in college thought I was out of earshot, she called me a dyke. Ok, so it's not 100% accurate, but I like the ladies and I really don't care what anyone else has to say about it. When I walked around the corner, I told her that if she was going to try to mock me, she might want to pick something that's actually an insult. The look on her face was priceless. I'd get it printed on Christmas cards if I could, because it gives me a warm feeling in my heart even just to think about how she must have felt at that moment--exactly the way she HOPED it'd make me feel.

If I'm known as a carpet-munching poet for all the rest of my life, then that's fine. I AM a carpet-munching poet. My point is that if you don't want to be known as a judgmental asshole, then don't act like one.

I don't judge, but I can't listen to people who want to dictate how anyone else lives. Whether it's homophobia, anti-choice nonsense, or preachy zealots who want everyone to convert to their religion, I just can't listen to that garbage. That's the general problem I have with this alarming new breed of conservatives--they aren't content just to have an opinion. They want to make sure that everyone else adheres to it.

They can't just not have an abortion--they want me to have the baby, even if I were raped. They can't just go marry a woman--they have to make sure I don't. And I better put down that fucking Koran right this second.

(I apologize to my conservative friends, none of whom have ever bombed a clinic or beat up someone for wearing a turban.)

I am sick of people saying things that are extremely bigoted and then accusing others of being racist. I'm sick of being forced into an argument and then being mocked for sticking up for myself. I'm sick of assholes accusing me of being stupid and naive simply for having a view of the world that doesn't label everything as either Bad or Good.

And you know what? I am not obligated to listen to anyone's bullshit. If you want to go live your life as a nasty, closed-minded person obsessed with meaningless societal norms, then go ahead. I'll be over there with the boys in the dresses.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

amanda tells you what to do (not that you have to listen)

So here's a list of things that have been or are in the process of being phased in or out. So far, this just applies to me, (and some overlap with friends like Trina, though she's probably not with me on the Spaghettios thing) but all six of my loyal readers are invited to adopt these ideas, food items, and snarky comments as tenets in your own lives. It's like Scientology, but without the endorsement of celebrities who have done far too much cocaine. Also, I won't charge you anything to read this.


Renewed friendships
Body hair
"Campus Ladies"
Spaghettios with Sliced Franks
E85 (ethanol/gasoline hybrid)
Live comedy
Folk singers
Long hair
Bohemian-style clothes
Peach-flavored everything
Early Sunday dinners out
Writing by hand
Scrambled eggs with ketchup
Same-sex marriage


Foreign-oil dependence
The guy at work who is my ex's doppelganger
Sleeping until 1 PM
Illiterate pop divas
Writer's block
Getting drunk in bars
Intelligent Design
Rick Santorum's political career
Pseudo-reality tv
Engagement rings
South Dakota
High-maintenance relationships
Back pain

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

finish your sentences or no dessert

What is with the subject lines in my spam lately? It wants to be Chekhov, but it's just insane.

"It was a thousand times worse than the taste/smell of the dust rag."

Also, not quite as good but somewhat perplexing... "! --- Geoffrey felt a"

And right up there with "Oprah Winfrey why not?" from last week, "Paul looked at the calendar. Honda Wallpapers She could have gone out the"

Spammers...finish your sentences and I might consider getting my pen!s enlarged. Or perhaps I'll purchase the C!al!s. Or V!agra. Are limp dicks really deserving of all these exclamation points?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

the lackwit epistles--a sporadic series

I attract mail from various idiots, lackwits, and goobers on a nearly daily basis. They seek me out after I've done nothing to provoke them. Well, except for daring to possess both a vagina and an opinion.

Today's idiot emailed me on myspace, a site and cultural phenomenon which I am beginning to think is one of the signs of the Apocalypse. His letter--unnecessary editing and incorrect usage intact--is as follows.

Subject: your a sick bitc+ to kill a kid

how can you kill something inside of you or give it up it is you dumb a++

So many questions immediately arise--is English his first language? Why has he edited himself--does his mom read all of his outgoing email? (To quote my friend Patrick, "You know you're dealing with a zealot when they swear at you and censor it.") Why is he so concerned about the comings and goings of my uterus? Why does he not live in South Dakota, land of Biblical Law? Furthermore, can one engage in a battle of wits if one party is completely unarmed?

Upon reading his profile, one only becomes more confused and ultimately depressed. He is 22 and has a high school education--and two children. I suppose he's angry that my life doesn't suck as much as his. Not that I feel sorry for him. Condoms are cheap, and I didn't make those particular choices for him. I would lament the name "Shiz," however. That's almost as unfortunate as calling yourself "Silver Blue."

I thought for a few minutes (three) and then sent him off a message promoting peace, tolerance, and leaving me the fuck alone.

I resent the implication that I would abort or give away my child.

I've given birth to three lovely children--all of whom were immediately tossed into a wood chipper with extreme love, care, and jump-shot precision.

You may want to begin your betting now--how long until the cops show up at my house to search the back yard for baby slurry? Either that or he'll start leaving me illiterately irate comments here...which will only give me access to his email address, which I will promptly sign up for NARAL action alerts.