Frivolous Friday: Exit Sign Novel Titles

exit sign with arrow

Ingrid and I were driving on I-5 last weekend, and I invented a road game to beguile the long hours. (It’s entirely possible that others have invented this game or similar ones, and that this is a case of convergent evolution. If you’ve ever played this game or one like it, let me know!)

The game: Exit Sign Novel Titles. Rules: When driving by highway exit signs, you pick out ones that seem like titles of novels, and come up with plot summaries.

Here are some of my favorites:

Henley Hornbeck. An adventure book for children — probably aimed at boys — about a 19th century sailor. Sort of a junior Master and Commander. It may be the first in a series: Henley Hornbeck and the Secret Island, Henley Hornbeck and the Pirate Gold.

Hilt. A mystery novel, part of a series in which all the titles are parts of murder weapons. Other books in the series: Trigger, Blade.

Wonderland Blvd. and Mountain Gate Wonderland. (IIRC, these signs came right after each other on the highway). Wonderland Blvd. is a novel set in the Haight-Ashbury in 1967, written by a Tom Robbins wanna-be. Mountain Gate Wonderland is the sequel, with the same characters a few years later living in a hippie town in the Cascade mountains.

Grenada Gazelle. A children’s book about a friendly gazelle named Grenada, and her adventures with other animals in the African plains. Other titles in the series (I obviously love coming up with serieses for this game): Ernestine Elephant, Gina Giraffe, Wanda Wildebeest.

Turntable Bay. A hip-hop act in a small coastal town becomes an overnight sensation and starts a recording label in the town, which unexpectedly becomes a locus of hip-hop culture. How will the town cope with its sudden transformation from Port Harbor to Turntable Bay? The novel explores cultural, racial, and economic tensions with both drama and humor.

Vollmer’s Delta. The tangled, darkly intertwined lives of the Vollmer family, whose great-great-great-grandfather, Elijah Vollmer, founded their small town in the Mississippi delta.

Siskyou Summit. A tense political thriller about global superpowers on the brink of war. Espionage, double-crossing, triple agents — you know the drill.

Sunset Hills Auction Yard. A gritty, down-to-earth set of interwoven short stories, each telling the tale of an item sold at the auction yard and the down-on-their-luck lives of the people who buy and sell them.

What plot summaries would you give these exit signs? What exit sign do you drive by every day that needs to be a novel title?

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Check out what some of the other Orbiters are doing!

Frivolous Friday: Exit Sign Novel Titles
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“We love to think we believe on impartial conviction”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, we love to think our decisions are not influenced by our hopes or fears. We love to think we believe on impartial conviction, not because we wish to. And like Mr. Darcy, we are full of it."

“Like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, we love to think our decisions are not influenced by our hopes or fears. We love to think we believe on impartial conviction, not because we wish to. And like Mr. Darcy, we are full of it.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 11: “Starting With the Assumption That I’m Wrong”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to drawing of four people in Regency garb doing Regency dancing)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“We love to think we believe on impartial conviction”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Greta Speaking in Austin, TX September 24 – ACA Bat Cruise!

aca-bat-cruise-banner

I’m speaking this Saturday, September 24, in Austin, TX — as a precursor to the Atheist Community of Austin’s bat cruise! Every year, the ACA takes a cruise on a double-decker boat, ending at the Congress bridge to watch the bats emerge. Before the cruise, they have a guest speaker give a talk — and this year, it’s me! Rebecca Vitsmun will be there as well, receiving the ACA’s first inaugural Impact Atheist award. The bat cruise costs money ($30 for adults 13+, $10 for kids 5-12, $.01 for tots 0-4), but the pre-cruise talk is free and open to the public. You can do one or the other, or you can do both. If you’re in the Austin area, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Austin, TX
DATE: Saturday, September 24
TIME: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (bat cruise departs at 6:00)
TOPIC: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
SUMMARY: So you don’t believe in God. Now what? The way we deal with life can change dramatically when we stop believing in gods, souls, and afterlives. When we leave religion — or if we never had it in the first place — where do we go? How do we deal with love and sex, pleasure and death, reality and making stuff up? How do we decide on our values, and how do we live them?
LOCATION: Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751
HOST: Atheist Community of Austin
COST: Free, and open to the public
EVENT URL:
https://www.facebook.com/events/309151122795013/ (talk)
https://www.facebook.com/events/646076492214347/ (bat cruise)

Greta Speaking in Austin, TX September 24 – ACA Bat Cruise!

The National Anthem, and What It Means to Love One’s Country

american flag flying on cloudy day

(I developed these thoughts in a radio interview with Charone Nix, Mandisa Thomas, and Rogier. I can’t remember now who made which point, so I’m crediting all of us for all of them.)

I’ve been thinking about Colin Kaepernick and other sports figures sitting down or kneeling during the National Anthem, to protest systemic racism and racist police brutality. And I’ve been thinking about what it means to love one’s country.

There are things about the United States that are tremendous, and things that are terrible. And many of the tremendous things exist because people saw something terrible, and protested. We ended slavery, expanded voting to include women and people of color, created a social safety net (or the vague semblance of one), created protections for voters, established safety standards for the food we eat, established child labor laws and workplace safety laws and a minimum wage, and much, much more — because people looked at the way things were and said, “No. This is not acceptable. We can do better. We must do better.”

Protest is one of the highest forms of patriotism. Seeing things that are terribly wrong with the country, and speaking out in whatever form (short of violence) is available and effective, is one of the highest forms of patriotism. It says, “We can do better. Our potential is so much greater than what we are right now.” To look at a country with rampant poverty, inequality, voter disenfranchisement, racist police brutality, homophobic and transphobic violence, institutional trivialization of rape, and more — and think, “Yeah, whatever, that’s the best we can do” — how is that patriotic? That’s not love of your country. That’s giving up on your country.

There’s a lot to be said about the National Anthem protests, and many people have said it well. It’s been pointed out how absurd it is to shrug off or rationalize the reality of racist police brutality, but lose your shit over a football player sitting down and not singing a song. It’s been pointed out that a relationship that demands unquestioning support even when you’re treated terribly isn’t loving — it’s abusive. It’s been pointed out that it’s absurd to fetishize symbols and ignore the realities they represent. It’s been pointed out that Jackie Robinson also refused to stand up for the National Anthem, for pretty much the same reason as Colin Kaepernick: we love our rebels and protestors from the past, and yet excoriate them in the present. (Prophets have honor in other countries, and the past is another country.) It’s been pointed out that “when nationalism and religion are understood as functionally identical, we see what Colin Kaepernick’s crime is: heresy.” It’s been pointed out that anti-racism protestors are told to protest nicely and politely in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone, are told not to march in the streets or block traffic or even call people racist — but when someone protests by literally sitting quietly, that’s not okay either.

All of that is true, and important. But it’s not my point today.

Patriotism is often performative, in much the same way religion is often performative. I don’t think this is always conscious or cynical (although I think it sometimes is), but in circles where patriotism is equated with goodness, performing patriotism persuades people of that goodness, and bigger performances are seen as more authentic. Displays of both religiosity and patriotism are “in-group” displays as well — and as such, they’re often driven by fear. In some circles, there is considerable pressure put on people to perform both patriotism and religiosity, and a significant cost to not doing so. The demand that patriotism be performed is all too often a demand, not for genuine love and work, but for unquestioning conformity.

But protest is patriotic. Seeing our potential to be better, speaking out about how we could be better, and working to make things better — often at great personal cost — is patriotic. In the words of Carl Schurz: “My country, right or wrong. If right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right.”

The National Anthem, and What It Means to Love One’s Country

“The cost of unity”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"The cost of unity is the silence of people being screwed over."

“The cost of unity is the silence of people being screwed over.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 45: “Policing Our Own”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to close-up image of black woman’s closed mouth)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“The cost of unity”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Femme, Adjective or Noun?

greta-selfie-at-atheist-film-festival-party
I’ve always been a bit confused by the word “femme.”

This might surprise people who know me. I’m a dyke who wears dresses and skirts 98% of the time, who almost never leaves the house without makeup, who has her shoe collection in a display case and her boot collection hanging from racks on her walls. But “femme” as an identity has always puzzled me. I don’t object to it, I totally support people who use it — it just doesn’t resonate with me. I’ve often said that I’m “femmey, but not a femme.” For me, femme is a description, not an identity; an adjective, not a noun. And part of the reason is that I don’t really grasp, intellectually or instinctively, what that identity means. People who identify as femmes have a strong, clear sense of what this means to them, and how it shapes not only what they wear but how they think of themselves. I don’t have that.

But even people who do identify as femme, as a deeply personal identity-noun, sometimes struggle to define the term. Years ago I attended a femme conference: one of the panels was asked, “What does femme mean?” — and almost all the panelists fumbled and stumbled. That’s not to slam them: it’s a hard concept to define. But the clearest definition, the one that’s stuck with me over the years, was given by Susan Stryker:

Femme is adopting the trappings of femininity in a way that subverts them.

That stuck with me. And I think it explains why I’m happy to take on “femme” as an adjective but not a noun; as a description but not an identity.

*****

Thus begins Femme, Adjective or Noun? It’s my first contribution to Femme Feminism, the new magazine dedicated to joyous expression of femininity within the context and exploration of feminist values. To read more, read the rest of the piece. And check out the rest of the magazine! Other articles so far include On Respectability, Afrocentrism & Accepting Fashion as Self-Care, not Self-Indulgence by Tajh Sutton, Redefining Fem(me)ininity by Lauren Munro, and Femme: a Case Study by Rebecca Aylesworth. Have fun!

Femme, Adjective or Noun?

Frivolous Friday: Reuniting the Beatles

The Beatles

Short tale about weird kid things.

I was eight when the Beatles broke up, and I was devastated. I mean, DEVASTATED. They weren’t just my favorite band: I’d grown up with the Beatles, I’d never lived in a world without the Beatles, and it had never occurred to me that they might not always be together.

So for a while after they broke up, I had daily fantasies in which I reunited the Beatles. With the help of Batman. The Beatles, Batman, and I would save the world in some way — usually by fighting some villain who was trying to destroy it — and in the process of saving the world, the Beatles would realize that they should get back together.

I’m tempted to write something schmaltzy and deep here, about how this showed some sort of character truth about me. Something like, “In a way, I think I’m still trying to reunite the Beatles and save the world, with Batman’s help.” But I think I was just a weird kid. Although maybe not so weird: I’m reminded of the bit in Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes, Please, where she describes her childhood game of pretending she was being chased by Russians. “I would pretend to wait until they were gone and then jump out of the leaves to get to the business of delivering the microchip into the hands of Pat Benatar.”

What was some of your weird kid stuff? Did you imagine saving the world with the help of celebrities and fictional characters?

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Check out what some of the other Orbiters are doing!

Frivolous Friday: Reuniting the Beatles

On Bubbles, Conservative Friends, and How Robert Reich is in a Bubble Of His Own

bubbles

Marginalized people aren’t in a bubble. Conservatism is the polluted air we breathe every day. Why do we have to be friends with people who spew it at us?

We’re often chided for living in bubbles. We’re told that we only listen to people who already agree with us, and that this narrows our thinking. We’re told that a willingness to have friends with different political views means having an open mind and an open heart — and that there’s something wrong with us if we aren’t doing that. Recently, politician and commentator Robert Reich voiced this idea on Facebook:

I have a conservative friend with whom I make a point to have lunch at least once a month. Why? I like him but that’s not the main reason. He makes me think. In forcing me defend my assumptions and ideas, he gets me to examine them more deeply. I hope I do the same for him. One of the biggest problems in America today is most of us live in ideological cocoons surrounded by people who think like us. Yet there is no better way to learn than to talk to someone who disagrees with you.

I don’t just want to pick on Reich here, though. This notion gets spouted a lot. And just off the top of my head, I can think of three major things that are wrong with it.

Wrong Thing Number One: Do you seriously think marginalized people don’t know what people think of us? Continue reading “On Bubbles, Conservative Friends, and How Robert Reich is in a Bubble Of His Own”

On Bubbles, Conservative Friends, and How Robert Reich is in a Bubble Of His Own

Taco Trucks, and Making America Great

In response to the dreaded spectre of taco trucks on every corner, Ingrid and I did our part this weekend, and visited one of our many local taco trucks. Hashtags: #ImWithTacos #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner

Streatfood taco truck with Greta and Ingrid

Streatfood taco truck

Of course, there are other possibilities. There could be ramen trucks on every corner.

Streatfood ramen truck
Continue reading “Taco Trucks, and Making America Great”

Taco Trucks, and Making America Great

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Tuesday Sept. 6 – Game Night!

Godless Perverts Social Club Game Night Sept 6

Godless Perverts is having another game night in San Francisco on Tuesday, September 6! These are big fun, and they’re becoming some of our most well-attended events — so we’re making it a regular event. As you may have noticed, Wicked Grounds has a huge stash of games including chess and checkers, Fluxx, Slash, Scrabble, Snake Oil, Gloom, and much, much more. Feel free to bring your own games if you’re not sure that Wicked Grounds has a copy of your favorite. So please join us at Wicked Grounds, the kink cafe and boutique, at 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). 7-9 pm. Admission is free, but we ask that you buy food and/or drink at the cafe if you can: Wicked Grounds has beverages, light snacks, full meals, and milkshakes made of literal awesome sauce. We meet at Wicked Grounds on the first Tuesday of every month: we also meet in Oakland at Rudy’s Can’t Fail, on the third Thursday.

All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. Godless Perverts is committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. We seek to create safe and welcoming environments for all non-believers and believing allies who are respectful of the mission, and are committed to taking positive action to achieve this.

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers, through performance events, panel discussions, social gatherings, media productions, and other appropriate outlets. Our events and media productions present depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities — including positive, traumatic, and complex experiences — focusing on the intersections of sexuality with atheism, materialism, skepticism, and science, as well as critical, questioning, mocking, or blasphemous views of sex and religion.

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF Tuesday Sept. 6 – Game Night!