Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters

I wanted to link to my recipe for Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters in another post I’m writing, and I realized I’d never blogged about it. My bad. Here it is, with the story.

hitchhikers guide to the galaxy book coverWhen I was about to turn 42, I of course wanted to serve Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters for my birthday. Not the real thing, of course — they can’t be mixed in Earth’s atmosphere — but a reasonable approximation.

So we went online, and found approximately 894,589,760 recipes for it. Trouble was, most of them involved gin, to approximate the Arcturan Mega-gin. Trouble was, I don’t like gin.

But we found this one, and loved it. It has just about everything a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster should have. It looks really alien, like something they’d drink on Star Trek. It’s entertaining and dramatic to put together. And its effects are, in fact, very similar to having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. It’s one of those sneaky drinks that’s waaaaaay more intoxicating than it tastes: it goes down sweet and easy, you keep tossing them back… and soon you’re putting plastic cocktail monkeys in your hair, and trying on other people’s pants, and telling total strangers how awesome they are and how much you love them.

Ingredients:
Champagne
Vodka
Blue curacao
Sugar cubes
Bitters (we used Angostura)

Ahead of time (you can do this a day or two ahead of time, or whenever you like, really), pre-mix a mixture of:
1/2 blue curacao
1/2 vodka

Also ahead of time (shortly before the party):
Prepare a plate of sugar cubes with one drop of bitters on each cube (this approximates the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger).

As guests arrive:

Fill a champagne flute mostly full of champagne, about one shot short.
Add one shot of the curacao/vodka mixture.
Drop in one embittered sugar cube.

Do these one at a time for each guest: it’s pretty to watch, and the embittered sugar cube goes “fizz fizz fizz” in a very dramatic way when it’s dropped into the champagne/ vodka/ curacao mix.

Drink only with people you trust. And beware the plastic cocktail monkeys.

Ends Wednesday! Raise Money for Camp Quest/ Secular Student Alliance/ Foundation Beyond Belief – without spending a dime!

The fundraising contest ends Wednesday! Vote now! And if you’re on Reddit, upvote it! As of this writing, Camp Quest is very close to doubling their grant money from $10,000 to $20,000! And the SSA is just a little above the line for keeping their $50,000! So let’s make that free money happen!

And to those who don’t want to do this because they don’t like Facebook giving away their info: You can sign up for Facebook in less than a minute, not give them any info, vote, and never use that Facebook account again. You can also help by spreading the word on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media!

This is a guest post by Noelle George, Operations Manager, Foundation Beyond Belief and co-host of the Parenting Within Reason podcast, and by Kate Donovan, 2012 Fall Communications Intern, Foundation Beyond Belief and blogger at Teen Skepchick.

chase community giving

In between checking your email and the latest updates on your Facebook wall, can you spare a few clicks? Foundation Beyond Belief, Secular Student Alliance, and Camp Quest need your votes to earn up to $450,000 combined in the Chase Community Giving contest! They’re all 501(c)(3) non-profits, so a little money never hurt—and you know it’s not going to pay for increasing the size of their yacht fleets.

The Chase Community Giving program awards funding to charities based on votes from Facebook users and Chase customers, and there are lots of grants available.
The first place winner gets $250K, next 10 get $100K, the next 35 get $50K, and the next 50 get $20K.

As of September 10th, Day 5 of the contest, SSA has almost 900 votes, FBB has about 580, and Camp Quest has about 230. SSA was ranked 34th as of this morning (a $50K grant) but they have been slipping down since the start and will drop to only a $20K grant at 36th place if we don’t do something.

Right now the top ranked organization in the contest has 5500 votes total, and 11th place has about 1000 more votes than SSA collected. Oh, math! The point is, every single vote counts! We need every vote, and we need you to share this with your friends and get them to vote!

On Facebook, you can get two votes automatically that have to be used on different charities, and you can earn a third vote that can be doubled up or used on a third charity if you share a link on your wall and someone clicks on it. Here’s the Facebook event with all the voting links that you can use to RSVP and let your friends online know about the contest.

To go directly to the Chase giving pages on Facebook and vote, here are the links:

Vote for Camp Quest: Camp Quest provides an educational adventure for kids 8-17 years old that is shaped by fun, friends and freethought, featuring science, natural wonder and humanist values.

Vote for Secular Student Alliance: The Secular Student Alliance organizes, unites, educates, and serves students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics.

Vote for Foundation Beyond Belief : Foundation Beyond Belief provides a venue for humanists to put their values into actions by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life, and to focus, encourage and demonstrate humanist values such as generosity, compassion, mutual care and responsibility.

Chase customers get two additional votes in addition to the Facebook votes. That means one person can have up to 5 votes to spend on three or more charities.

Voting ends on Wednesday, September 19th. Please vote today, and help spread the word!

For more stories about this drive and these organizations, visit and follow, visit the Parenting Beyond Belief blog, the Foundation Beyond Belief blog, the Secular Student Alliance blog, and the Camp Quest blog. Another post appeared recently on Dale McGowan’s parenting website, Parenting Beyond Belief. You can also follow these groups on Twitter: @foundbb, @volunteersbb, @secularstudents, and @campquest.

The Zen of Outlaw Movies

Bonnie and Clyde movie posterIngrid and I were watching Bonnie and Clyde tonight, which she had never seen and I hadn’t seen in years. It struck me, watching it again, that, despite all the violence, in some ways it’s a very Zen movie. And it occurred to me that there’s a similar Zen quality to lots of outlaw movies. Especially “outlaws on the run” movies. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Thelma & Louise.

There’s a particular scene that especially made me think this: a scene late-ish in the movie, when it’s become clear that the law is going to catch up with them. Bonnie says something to Clyde about how at first she thought they were going somewhere, she thought they had some destination… but now she realized that all they were ever going to do was run. She didn’t say “run until we die,” but that was the clear implication. A lot of “outlaws on the run” movies have a similar vibe, a similar moment in the story where the audience realizes (even if the characters don’t) that the outlaws aren’t going to make it: the law is closing in on them, and they’re doomed.

And it struck me that this is sort of a secular Zen metaphor for life. Ultimately, none of us is going anywhere. Ultimately, we have no destination. Ultimately, the law is going to catch up with us. If we’re not bank robbers, it probably won’t be cops with machine guns who are catching up with us: it’ll just be the law of entropy, and the laws of biology. But the law is closing in on us. Ultimately, we’re all just running. And running is all we have.

It’s sort of like that koan about the man and the tigers and the strawberry. The one where the man is running from a tiger, trying to escape, and grabs onto a vine and jumps off a cliff. But another tiger is at the bottom of the cliff, waiting to eat him. Two mice start chewing on the vine. Then the man sees a strawberry, plucks it, and eats it. How sweet it tasted.

Not sure where I’m going with this. Nowhere, I guess. Good movie, though. And the strawberries sure are sweet.

6 Things Cat Owners Dare Not Think About

My editor at Catster: “How do you deal with cat hair?”

Me: “Selective inattention.”

Comet and Talisker tussling near my neck

Selective inattention. For cat owners, it applies to more than just cat hair. As a general guiding principle of my life, I am in favor of facing reality as directly as I can. But as a cat owner, there are times when you just have to cover your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and pretend that reality isn’t true. Here are six things cat owners absolutely cannot think about if we don’t want an early heart attack.

*

Thus begins my latest piece for Catster, 6 Things Cat Owners Dare Not Think About. To find out the things we selectively ignore in order to have cats, read the rest of the piece. Lots of adorable pics. Enjoy!

“Erotic whimsies”

Excuse me. “erotic whimsys.”

The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s “news” website, ran a piece about Sextravaganza, the atheist sex-themed mini-con I’m doing at the University of Utah tomorrow (Saturday). The Blaze piece is basically just a rehash of a story the Salt Lake City Tribune ran about Sextravaganza, with a scare headline slapped onto it (“What‘s a ’Sextravaganza’ and Why Is the University of Utah Hosting It?”). But there’s a comment that I absolutely had to share with y’all (it’s from cookcountypatriot, you have to scroll down to see it since The Blaze won’t let you link to specific comments):

they will do anything to push thier **** erotic whimsys.

Erotic whimsies.

Really?

Based on the rest of the comment, cookcountypatriot was apparently going for the doom-y hellfire vibe. If so — fail. It just sounds so quaint and Victorian. For me, it conjures up frolicking in a field in lace underwear. Or late-night shenanigans at a country estate, with frisky gentlefolk sneaking in and out of bedrooms, and delightfully comical misunderstandings. And Ingrid said it sounded like something you’d receive an engraved invitation for, with lots of curlicues around the border. “An evening of erotic whimsies.” Perhaps involving tea, and the reading of saucy literature. Chaucer! Rabelais! Balzac!

“They will do anything to push their erotic whimsies.” NOOOOOOOOOO! Not the erotic whimsies! What will those perverted atheists think of next! Rum in the tea? Women showing their ankles? Young ladies walking with their beaux… unchaperoned?

“Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” Now at American Atheists Store!

Why Are You Atheists So Angry? coverMy new book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, is now available at the American Atheists online bookstore!

Their store website is slightly wonky, but if you go there and select “New Products” in the left sidebar (NOT “Newest Items”), it’s right there at the top of the section. (Along with the American Atheists Snuggie, the existence of which terrifies me beyond the capacity for rational thought.) If you want to buy my book and support an awesome organization at the same time, here’s a great way to do it!

The book is also available in several ebook formats: the Kindle edition is available on Amazon, the Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords has the book in multiple formats, including iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle (.mobi), Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, any other reader that takes the Epub format, Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Online Reading via HTML, and Plain Text for either downloading or viewing. All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

The audiobook version is available at Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. And yes, I did the recording for it!

And you can also get the print edition through Last Gasp — wholesale and retail mail-order — through the Richard Dawkins Foundation bookstore, and it can be ordered directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. (You can also pre-order the print edition through Amazon — but Amazon and most other retailers won’t have the book until the fall.) The print edition is $14.95.

Here is the description of the book, and some wonderfully flattering blurbs. [Read more...]

“Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” – Review Copies for Media!

Why Are You Atheists So Angry? coverAre you a blogger, columnist, reporter, reviewer, podcaster, radio host, or otherwise in the media?

If so — are you interested in reviewing/ reporting on/ interviewing me about my new book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 9 Things That Piss Off the Godless?

A limited number of review copies of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? are available to established media outlets, including podcasters, bloggers, and other superstars of Internet media. And I’m available to do interviews about the book with podcasters and radio/TV hosts.

Interested parties should contact Kurt at Pitchstone Publishing, info (at) pitchstonepublishing (dot) com. Let Kurt know which organization/ publication/ blog/ podcast/ other outlet you’re affiliated with, and provide links. Review copies can be provided in either print or ebook form. (I can probably make the audiobook available for review as well, if you’re interested in reviewing that: if so, contact me, greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com.)

And if you’re not in the media, and you still want to read the book — it’s available for sale, for the low low price of $14.95 (print and audiobook), or $7.99 (ebook).

You can get the print edition through Last Gasp — wholesale and retail mail-order — through the Richard Dawkins Foundation bookstore, and it can be ordered directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. (You can also pre-order the print edition through Amazon — but Amazon and most other retailers won’t have the book until the fall.) The print edition is $14.95.

The book is also available in several ebook formats: the Kindle edition is available on Amazon, the Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords has the book in multiple formats, including iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle (.mobi), Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, any other reader that takes the Epub format, Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Online Reading via HTML, and Plain Text for either downloading or viewing. All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

The audiobook version is available at Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. And yes, I did the recording for it!

Here is the description of the book, and some wonderfully flattering blurbs. [Read more...]

Greta Speaking in Salt Lake City at “Sextravaganza,” Sat. 9/15

I’m speaking this Saturday in Salt Lake City, along with Dr. Darrel Ray and Dr. Lisa Diamond, at the Sextravaganza event put on by SHIFT (the University of Utah’s secular student group). My topic: “Atheism and Sexuality.” If you’re in the area, come by to hear me speak, buy my books, and say howdy!

SHIFT: Secular Humanism, Inquiry and Freethought logo

CITY: Salt Lake City, UT
DATE: Saturday, Sept. 15
TIME: Three-speaker Sextravaganza event starts at 3:00 pm
LOCATION: Orson Spencer Hall Auditorium, OSH 260 Central Campus Drive, on the University of Utah campus (the building just south of the Union Building), Salt Lake City, UT
EVENT/ HOSTS: Sextravaganza!, organized by SHIFT: Secular Humanism, Inquiry and Freethought, University of Utah
OTHER SPEAKERS/ PRESENTERS: Dr. Darrel Ray and Dr. Lisa Diamond.
TOPIC: Atheism and Sexuality
SUMMARY: The sexual morality of traditional religion tends to be based, not on solid ethical principles, but on a set of taboos about what kinds of sex God does and doesn’t want people to have. And while the sex-positive community offers a more thoughtful view of sexual morality, it still often frames sexuality as positive by seeing it as a spiritual experience. What are some atheist alternatives to these views? How can atheists view sexual ethics without a belief in God? And how can atheists view sexual transcendence without a belief in the supernatural?
COST: Free, and open to the public

Help three secular charities get BIG grants with just a few clicks!

This is a guest post by Noelle George, Operations Manager, Foundation Beyond Belief and co-host of the Parenting Within Reason podcast, and by Kate Donovan, 2012 Fall Communications Intern, Foundation Beyond Belief and blogger at Teen Skepchick.

chase community giving

In between checking your email and the latest updates on your Facebook wall, can you spare a few clicks? Foundation Beyond Belief, Secular Student Alliance, and Camp Quest need your votes to earn up to $450,000 combined in the Chase Community Giving contest! They’re all 501(c)(3) non-profits, so a little money never hurt—and you know it’s not going to pay for increasing the size of their yacht fleets.

The Chase Community Giving program awards funding to charities based on votes from Facebook users and Chase customers, and there are lots of grants available.
The first place winner gets $250K, next 10 get $100K, the next 35 get $50K, and the next 50 get $20K.

As of September 10th, Day 5 of the contest, SSA has almost 900 votes, FBB has about 580, and Camp Quest has about 230. SSA was ranked 34th as of this morning (a $50K grant) but they have been slipping down since the start and will drop to only a $20K grant at 36th place if we don’t do something.

Right now the top ranked organization in the contest has 5500 votes total, and 11th place has about 1000 more votes than SSA collected. Oh, math! The point is, every single vote counts! We need every vote, and we need you to share this with your friends and get them to vote!

On Facebook, you can get two votes automatically that have to be used on different charities, and you can earn a third vote that can be doubled up or used on a third charity if you share a link on your wall and someone clicks on it. Here’s the Facebook event with all the voting links that you can use to RSVP and let your friends online know about the contest.

To go directly to the Chase giving pages on Facebook and vote, here are the links:

Vote for Foundation Beyond Belief : Foundation Beyond Belief provides a venue for humanists to put their values into actions by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life, and to focus, encourage and demonstrate humanist values such as generosity, compassion, mutual care and responsibility.

Vote for Secular Student Alliance: The Secular Student Alliance organizes, unites, educates, and serves students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics.

Vote for Camp Quest: Camp Quest provides an educational adventure for kids 8-17 years old that is shaped by fun, friends and freethought, featuring science, natural wonder and humanist values.

Chase customers get two additional votes in addition to the Facebook votes. That means one person can have up to 5 votes to spend on three or more charities.

Voting ends on Wednesday, September 19th. Please vote today, and help spread the word!

For more stories about this drive and these organizations, visit and follow, visit the Parenting Beyond Belief blog, the Foundation Beyond Belief blog, the Secular Student Alliance blog, and the Camp Quest blog. Another post appeared recently on Dale McGowan’s parenting website, Parenting Beyond Belief. You can also follow these groups on Twitter: @foundbb, @volunteersbb, @secularstudents, and @campquest.

Comment registration now on

I have turned comment registration on. Commenters must now register to comment.

I’m not happy about doing this. I prefer to have as few barriers to commenting here as possible. But recently, one or more people have been maliciously commenting under other commenters’ handles, including my own. Some of these malicious pseudo-comments have simply expressed opinions that the actual user of that name would never express — while some have included comments with repulsive racial and religious epithets, maliciously putting these words in other people’s mouths. So comment registration has now become an unfortunate necessity. I apologize for any inconvenience.