They're Spinnin' & Grinnin' I'm Screamin' & Streamin'

Yes, friends, today I will be on streaming video, live from the Spinathon, starting at 1pm Central Daylight Time.  What will I be doing?  Probably standing around looking like an idiot.  But I’ve said I’ll do it, so I will, if I’m not in jail.

(Edit: our main website went down, of course while our admin is in transit and therefore away from the ‘net. However, we’ll still be recording the show and will have it embedded on the site this evening. You can also see it while live from the direct UStream link in Round Rock starting at 1pm CDT. Paypal donations can be sent directly to, we’re less than 7 hours from making our 48-hour fiber-spinning goal!)

Re-Edit: SpinAThon site is back up and you can watch the cams directly here:

Final Edit: SpinAThon finished at 42.8 hours, and much lovely fiber spun by several talented women. The fiber spun during SpinAThon will be available for bidding along with other finely crafted products in next week’s auction! Steve played for 3.5 hours and we will be posting videos from his performance within the next few days on the SpinAThon site. Thanks to everyone who participated, you all rock!


Yes, it’s a Spinathon!  What, you ask, is a Spinathon?  I have no idea, but we’re having one.

Okay, okay.  In order to raise some money for medical expenses (Reesa, if you recall, just had a radical mastectomy, which is major surgery, which they charge money for),  volunteers are going to be spinning yarn (or knitting) for as long a time as they can get sponsored, up to at least 48 hours.  We have 23.5 hours covered so far.  This is going to happen this coming weekend (May 1-2) here in Austin (well, technically Paige,TX and Round Rock).   As extra incentive, if we raise enough sponsorships to cover the second day of SpinAThon (that’s Sunday, May 2 in Round Rock TX for you local folk), I’m going to be showing up to the event for several hours and maybe doing some tunes and signing some books and pretending to be a celebrity. Reesa will also be on-site for part of both days if you’d like to meet and chat with the person who inspired the event.

If this sounds like something you want to get involved in, follow the links below:

To skip the rest and go directly to the donate button, click here for the main SpinAThon page and then click the handy donate button, found just above the letters from friends.. (We tried to link to the button directly but the link expires after a certain amount of time.)

A link to the SpinAThon main page, as well as the FAQ page.

Reesa wrote a post compiling several links and information about SpinAThon that might be useful.

Only a few more days available for you to help out with SpinAThon! We also have an auction scheduled for after SpinAThon that will be putting up for bid the yarn and knit things made during the event, as well as other donated unique pieces from artists.

When My Joke Hurts You

A dear friend of mine was hurt recently.  If you want the full story, it is (linked with permission) here. The short version is as follows: They were playing a game in which someone puts the name of a character (real or fictional, living or dead) on your forehead, and you ask yes or no questions until you guess the name of the person.  My friend discovered that she had spent several hours with the name “Hitler” on her forehead.   I know some of you will be feeling a bit queasy on her behalf, and others will be going, “What’s the big deal?”  Okay, permit me to add that this took place in Haifa, Israel.

My youngest daughter has recently been hurt in the opposite way: as I understand it, she, an aspiring (and, in my unbiased opinion, very talented) comedian, agreed to take part in a show that had a theme (mental handicaps) that many people found offensive and unsuitable for humor; sufficiently offensive and unsuitable that she has had to sustain barbed comments and cold shoulders from some people she considered friends.

In commenting to my Israeli friend, I said some things that (again, with her permission) I want to repeat here so I can hear smart people (that’s you) talk about them.

Some things are so horrible, that some have to laugh about them or the horror will take over their lives. Others, confronted by that same horror, have to pretend to laugh at them to convince themselves that they’re strong enough not to be beaten down. Others laugh at them because their friends do, and they’ve never stopped to think about it. Others laugh at them because they have no trace of sensitivity, and just don’t give a fuck about other human beings. So, at least four different reasons for the same behavior.

The dilemma, as I see it, is something like this:
1. No one has the right, through humor or any other way, to needlessly hurt someone else.
2. No one has the right to decide for another how and when to use humor to relieve suffering.

This contradiction is what makes it so hard for me to get a grip on. It’s complicated even more because there is absolutely no subject of humor that will not offend or hurt someone.

There are those with an attitude that goes something like this: “It was just a joke. If you can’t take a joke, you need to lighten up.” The kindest thing one can say about this attitude is that it is over-simplified; we don’t all respond the same way to the same kind of pain, and your coping method might be exactly what makes it impossible for me to cope.  More typically, someone with that attitude needs to be sequestered from other human beings so he won’t do any more harm.

When in doubt, I err on the side of caution, because the damage to someone who is sensitive about whatever one is laughing at is more significant than the benefit for someone it helps, at any given time (you can tell the joke later when there’s no one around it bothers). But usually, one doesn’t know one has crossed the line until someone reacts badly, and then one is, first, puzzled, then ashamed, then (sometimes) angry or determined to justify one’s self. It’s ugly as hell.

I have no conclusion; I’ve been wrestling with this for years and gotten nowhere.
Edited to add:

Some years ago, my friend Nate Bucklin and I went to visit a friend in the psych ward of a hospital.  Because it was Nate and me, we brought guitars, and a party ensued.  During the party, Nate played his version of “Mama Don’t Allow,” which humorously references several forms of mental and emotional illness–the very conditions those attending the party were dealing with.  I recall very clearly that the patients all found the song delightful; the staff, however, thought it was Not Funny.  Take from this what you will.