Monday, October 30, 2006

The Love Witch

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German woman won a lawsuit against a "love witch" who failed to induce her ex-boyfriend to come back with rituals under the full moon designed to cast a spell over him, a Munich court said Monday.

The witch lost," said Munich district court spokeswoman Ingrid Kaps. The 'love witch' was ordered to return her 1,000 euro ($1,300) fee and pay "several hundred euros" in costs.

"The plaintiff was in despair after her boyfriend left and tried to get him to return with help from a woman who calls herself a 'love witch'," she added. "The court has ruled it was a service that was 'objectively impossible' to render."

The witch disputed the plaintiff's claim of a money-back guarantee, Kaps said. The witch, described as an elderly woman, also lost an appeal. The spokeswoman declined to give the names or ages of those involved.

"A love ritual is not suited to influence a person from long distance," the court said. "As the promised service could not be rendered, the plaintiff is not obligated to pay."


SALEM, Massachusetts (Reuters) - She brews potions, wears flowing black caftans and says she can speak with the dead and cast spells with a gentle wave of a wand.

Laurie Cabot is a proud witch, and she's fighting for her civil rights.

At age 73, the official witch of Salem says her craft is stronger than ever, as she sits in an overstuffed chair behind a pink table where she does psychic readings -- and where, she says, spirits of the dead often "pop through."

"I can't see them with my eyes, I just know they are there," said Cabot, whose cheek is tattooed with a spiral and whose long grey hair, streaked with black, covers her shoulders and much of her back.

"They talk to me and tell me things that no one would know. And of course the person I'm reading for is either totally shocked or they end up crying a lot," she said.

Cabot says she became the first to openly practice witchcraft in Salem, a historic New England city made infamous in 1692 when young girls accused servants, neighbours and relatives of being witches. As fear, bigotry and denunciation spread, 19 people were executed before reason prevailed.

As Cabot prepares for her busiest season, the Wiccan New Year of Samhain that falls on Halloween, she is doing something she hasn't done in nearly two decades -- fight publicly for the civil rights of witches.

In between psychic readings and running a shop that sells everything a witch needs to get started, Cabot is mailing letters to civic leaders across Massachusetts warning them of the legal perils of portraying witches as grisly old hags.

Posters hung on government property of witches as haggard women on broomsticks or as green-faced outcasts with an evil glint in their eye could lead to defamation lawsuits by witches protesting what they see as violations of their civil rights.

"If they don't protect us and take care of us like everyone else, then they could be sued," said Cabot, who in 1986 founded the Witches League for Self-Awareness after the filming of "The Witches of Eastwick," a movie witches said made them look "stupid."


In the 1980s, Cabot waged a letter-writing campaign to major newspapers and television networks explaining witches are not Satanists, do not practice evil and follow a peaceful pagan witch religion, Wicca, which is legally recognised.

After that burst of activism, she returned to her main passion -- her witchcraft and her shop. "I handed over the work, the letter writing, to another group, but all these years they have done nothing, so we are starting over this month."

"I'd like to canvass the whole of the United States, city by city, and give every official this law memorandum," she said, producing a white four-page pamphlet on the constitutional rights of witches.

In one section, the pamphlet quotes from a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that reads: "While there are certainly aspects of Wiccan philosophy that may strike most people as strange or incomprehensible, there mere fact that a belief may be unusual does not strip it of constitutional protection."

She also wants the military to let Wiccan soldiers have faith symbols inscribed on their government-issued tombstones.

In 1975, Massachusetts' then-governor Michael Dukakis proclaimed Cabot the official witch of Salem, a city synonymous with witchcraft.

Today the city teems with an estimated 500 to 1,000 practising witches and pagans. Shops that sell Tarot cards and magic supplies line its streets, which swell with tourists leading up to Halloween on October 31.

A "Dairy Witch" parlour sells ice cream. Shops such as "The Broom Closet" and "Angelica of the Angels" conduct "psychic channelling". There's a "Salem Witch Museum", "Witch House" and a "Witch Dungeon."

"This is looked at as fantasy land in the pagan community," said Jerrie Hildebrand, a witch and an ordained minister with the Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan organisation that provides counselling and spiritual services. "We refer to it jokingly as the rent-a-witch season."

(more about Laurie)

This is Wrong!

MONTEREY, Calif. - The mischievous Dennis the Menace has gone missing — except this time, he's not hiding because he broke the rules.

A statue of the perennial pint-sized troublemaker that stood for almost two decades in a city park was unbolted and stolen sometime between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, police said.

Police said the statue, which is 3 feet tall and weighs 125 pounds, is worth as much as $30,000. The city is offering a $5,000 reward for its safe return.

The statue was crafted by Carmel artist Wah Ming Chang. It was commissioned by Hank Ketcham, the cartoon character's creator who died in 2001.

Police aren't sure how the thief or thieves got the bulky statue out of the park but are asking the public for any tips about Dennis' whereabouts.

Another Bad Day at Work

I typically love my job, but lately, it's been a real pain in the ass. Without putting you into a coma with the truly boring details, there have been serious technical problems that have made it impossible for me and my fellow telecommuting co-workers to work. Today, the tech problems have spread to the office at the hospital itself, so now everyone is down. This is my third work day in a row that the system has been unavailable. Extremely frustrating...

Ruby Monday

Let's start this week off right with my favorite new puppy!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Prelude to Vacation

Day One.

First stop, Redondo Beach, CA. My sister and I parked at my brother's house to catch a quick taxi ride to LAX. As we were unpacking our car, we were startled by a noise across the street. We looked up, and sure enough, we viewed with our own eyes the purported and heretofore mythical neighborhood peacock walking down the sidewalk with a rather purposeful gait, methodically searching out breakfast.

You can see (what I am assuming to be) him in front of the green garbage can in the center of the photo. You might want to click the photo to make it larger. That thing was bigger and scarier than I had imagined, and I was in no hurry to walk the short distance across the street to get a clearer shot of him. (Trivia: The generic term for what we know as the peacock is actually peafowl. Technically speaking, only the male peafowl is referred to as a peacock while its female counterpart is known as the peahen.)

Next up, Los Angeles International Airport. In the Northwest terminal, there is a shop called I Love LA. (See My Looking Glass: I Heart LA for product placement.) I considered doing some Christmas shopping there because of the abundant products with the I Love LA logo plastered across them. Perhaps I should work out some kind of business deal with them so I can have product tie-in with this blog? Well, maybe not. Across the walkway from the I Love LA retail establishment was the kiosk where you may purchase travelers' insurance which is where I found this Andre the Giant sticker. And if you've ever seen The Princess Bride, you love Andre the Giant who sadly succumbed to the effects of acromegaly in 1993. Let it be known, Andre the Giant has a posse.

While awaiting our flight, my sister and I invented a game whereby we would people-watch and blurt out the name of a celebrity if the passerby bore even the slightest, vaguest, most remote resemblance to said celeb. One fellow passenger actually elicited the spontaneous and simultaneous exclamation of "Stefan Edberg" from both of us. Stefan was undoubtedly traveling to the Minneapolis/St. Paul, home of many, many Swedes, and the destination of our first flight before we caught a quick connection to the thriving metropolis of Saginaw, Michigan.

Upon our arrival to the Twin Cities, we found the nearest ladies' room while awaiting our connecting flight. It was there I noted a stark difference between Los Angeles and the Midwest. In California, public restrooms are mandated by law to provide toilet seat covers. Not so in other states, including Minnesota. But missing from LAX restrooms yet ever-present in the ladies' rooms of both Minneapolis and Saginaw/Midland/Bay City airports is the illustrious syringe disposal receptacle. I'm not certain if this is to accomodate diabetics or junkies, and I'm also not sure if I feel more vulnerable to exposed toilet seats or exposed needles.

Meet Ruby!

My brother and his wife got a puppy yesterday. She's a chocolate lab named Ruby, and as you can see, she is freaking adorable.

I've got way more pictures, but Blogger isn't cooperating right now, so here are a couple to whet your Ruby appetite. Watch this space for unbearable puppy cuteness in the near future.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I Heart LA

I've been back a couple days now, and damnit, it's so great to be home. I'm still decompressing, unpacking, recovering from the trip. Not only that, I returned to a veritable hornet's nest at work. My boss walked off the job yesterday, and I don't know if she'll be back. It's all pretty high drama, and I'm a low drama kind of girl, which means I'm at home nesting with the shades drawn. I've got loads of pictures, so watch this space soon. Thanks to blogger, I can't upload any photos right now. Glad to see nothing's changed.

Update: Photos are working again!

Update 2: Boss was back to work Friday, drama over.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On Vacation

I snapped this picture inside a "party store" when I was in the Midwest last year. (For the record, we call them "liquor stores" in California.) I leave bright and early tomorrow morning, back next week.

Tonight's episode of Grey's Anatomy was a lot of fun and comes on the heels of actor T.R. Knight (George O'Malley) coming out of the closet earlier today. For more on the story, read this and that. I was saddened to see the Ted Casablanca story because that kind of seals the deal on Isaiah Washington. All I know is despite the drama behind the scenes, I'm totally digging the drama on air.

Time to get to bed, I've got an early call in the morning.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Countdown to Zero

So, I'm leaving Friday to visit my mother in the Midwest. The trip itself is a separate post entirely, and this post is about the idiot schedule I put myself on beginning October 1.

Not that I'm always successful in this particular endeavor, but when I travel, I enjoy coming home to a really clean house. So I thought I'd do some deep cleaning around here before this particular journey, especially in light of the fact that time slips away this time of year, and I know damn well I'm going to get back, go to sleep, wake up, and it will be Christmas. Since housework isn't exactly my forte, I devised a strategy in which I would take baby steps to achieve my goal, make a schedule and accomplish a single task a day. Photographed is the schedule that went into effect October 1st and is taped to my home office door.

So here's the sad truth. I got about 50 percent of it done. But I also ended up doing some things that weren't on the list. Like, I cleaned out some drawers and cupboards, threw out shopping receipts and paycheck stubs from the early 90s (I'm not kidding), and sent out a couple large bags of items to charity. I also read a really good book, listened to lots of music, watched plenty of television, surfed the internet, wrote myriad emails, and engaged in many telephone conversations.

Yes, I procrastinated to the point of having two days remaining before D-day. Developing...

Phoebe Represents Pro-McSteamy, Yo

Ever since I brought home the new TV Guide a couple days ago, my cat Phoebe has been either on or next to the glossy issue which features a cover portrait of the handsomely chiseled Eric Dane aka Dr. McSteamy from Grey's Anatomy.

Here she is, jealously guarding her prize from the other cats - and me! - from the highly coveted position of the center cushion of the good sofa. When the photo was taken, the other two cats were across the room from her, sharing the bad sofa. She is glaring triumphantly in their direction, victory shining in her eyes.

It's pretty clear that Phoebe will cut a bitch if you try to take her McSteamy away from her, which is more than I can say for Addison. So word to your mother.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stop Draggin' My Heart Around - Berkeley

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Alfie the Music Critic

As I often do when I work in my home office, I have my iPod in the docking station and playing in the living room for some ambient background music. Lately, Alfie and Phoebe have been hanging out together in the living room, napping, listening, enjoying the afternoon sun. Today was no exception. I had the Beatles' White Album playing, and all was well until Revolution #9 came on. About a minute later, Alfie came into the room in which I was working and looked at me with an expression that clearly said, "What the fuck is this?" He gave me his whining, complaining meow, so I went into the other room, fast-forwarded to the next song (Good Night), and another minute later, he was fast asleep on the sofa again.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fifty-Seven Never Looked So Good

to my
one true love,
Lindsey Buckingham.

You've made
the world
a better place
for me for
a cool 30 years.

Much love,