Monday, December 31, 2007


I have a serious problem. I am trying to decide who should get this year's Neville Chamberlain Award (see here and here for further info). This year, as my husband just pointed out, has been a year rife with spineless acts. But I can't think of any "spineless acts of appeasement." That's the qualifying factor, after all. I am taking suggestions. However, do not be offended if I do not use your suggestion. It's my blog and I do things my way, so there.

One other small problem. I seem to have lost Neville, my holiday monkey. He was supposed to have his portrait taken again this year for the award. But he is nowhere to be found. I wonder if he found a better job and deserted me.

I'll post a This Year In Review post soon. I hope.

Friday, December 28, 2007

'90s (Melo)Drama

My quest to catch up on a decade of missed movies is making me realize why I didn't watch those movies in the first place. Is it just me or does every drama movie made in the 1990s suck? Okay, I have not yet seen Unforgiven and I did like The Shawshank Redemption. Although, the latter had the typical '90s bent where everything horrible that can happen to a character will happen and then the ending will try to make us feel good about ourselves. Or something like that. At the same time, Shawshank was a lot deeper than most '90s dramas so I can't knock it. I can, however, knock every other '90s drama I have ever watched.

Movies are one of my hobbies. I admit I am a picky viewer. Before I rent or go to the theatre I spend hours reading reviews to decide if I will like the movie I'm thinking of watching. I frequently change my mind and don't bother spending the money. Basically, I need to enjoy a movie. If I can tell I'm going to hate it without going to the trouble of watching it then why watch it? Sometimes I ignore the reviewers, however, as in the case of The Alamo (2004). Sometimes ignoring reviews is a good thing. In fact, I would say ignoring the reviews I remember from certain movies made in the 1990s would have been a great idea.

But no. I had to watch Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall, Shakespeare in Love and The Cider House Rules. That's about as much sampling as I am willing to do at this point. Some movie maker should have done the world a favor and burned the scripts before producing such total crap. I can tell you right now that I am never going to watch Fight Club or Titanic. My motto for dramas made at that time is "zip, zero, zilch." No more. Nada. I'm not doing it to myself again. Let me explain my objections in more detail.

For starters, Dances ushered in the era of bad '90s epics. It was definitely the one that started the crappy movies. Now, I believe the federal government was pretty horrible to Native Americans. Don't get me wrong with what I say next. After watching Dances I just had to wonder, how can the viewer consider the Native Americans to be compassionate in this movie? They slaughtered this poor girl's family, but then they took her in and cared for her? Does this seem counter-intuitive to anyone besides me? I mean, logic, people. If they had not killed her family then her family could have cared for her and nobody would have been, well, dead. Moving on . . .

The next movie crime I have listed is a conundrum to me. Please tell me, does anyone even understand Legends of the Fall? It's the horrible story of a horrible character who lives a horrible life and sleeps with a lot of random people and everyone loves him because he's speshul, but the audience is never told why he is speshul. He just is. In reality there is nothing redeeming about him whatsoever except that he might, possibly be attractive to some woman somewhere when he himself does not look like a woman. And he fights a bear or something like that.

Shakespeare deserves little more than a footnote from me. Good job Colin Firth. As for the rest of it, the story was eaten by the message and the characters were ridiculous. Cider Houser Rules manages to have good characters, but the plot is pointless, meandering and completely overcome by it's cumbersome, hamfisted message. That message being, of course, the same pro-abortion argument that every "pro-choicer" ever makes: People can't control themselves. They're going to have abortions anyway so they might as well be clean and legal. Oh, and what about cases of rape and incest? Puhleeze. Those arguments don't even address the broader picture. We're talking about human life. Not to digress.

These examples prove one thing to me. '90s dramas were formulaic. The characters were mostly pathetic. The plots were long, winding and predictable. Emphasis was placed on the oddest, most meaningless moments in the whole movie. Wherein certain characters would suddenly act in ways they would not normally act. The message was the only strong part of the movie and it was shoved down your throat with a pitchfork. The music. Oh, the music. Make it stop, please make it stop. There's just nothing redeeming about these movies. I would say the only reason to watch them is so that you can hone your critical thinking skills.

My quest has ended. Henceforth, I shall only watch movies that seem good to me. The decade of 1990s movie making can sink back into its mire because I am done pursuing it. That is, except for the action movies and some of the family movies. Those were decent if not good.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day Is Here

Merry Christmas to all my readers. What more can I say?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chrismas Is Here

I am ready for Christmas in the sense that I've bought all the gifts I needed to buy and I've mailed all the cards I needed to mail. But not ready in any other sense. I am ready for a short vacation and a change of scene. That will be nice. But when I come back I'm going to have a lot to do.

Normally at Christmas time I write a profound little article about how wonderful Christmas is and what it means to me. This year my thoughts on Christmas are completely jumbled. All I can think about are my own inadequacies. There are things I want to do in life that I have not done. Christmas serves to remind me that I am getting no younger. This is the first year that I have not exactly felt joy at Christmas. I also do not feel like expounding on my favorite Christmas stories -- A Christmas Carol, the nativity story, It's a Wonderful Life. Stories are my thing, as my devoted readers probably noticed a long time ago. This Christmas season I just don't feel like writing about them.

I don't want to sit here and be all self pitying either. The fact is, I am my own worst enemy. I am the reason I have not done everything I want to do. I know, I had a sinus infection and am now sitting here with a terrible tension headache. That's a pretty good excuse. It's not really the problem, however. The problem is that I quit motivating myself on a long term basis after I left college. I'll have moments of inspiration. For example, the month of November when I wrote 80k words of a novel. I still can hardly believe I did that. Look at me now, I've quit taking the time to edit my new novel already. In fact, I'm mad at all my characters and really mad at my writing style.

I don't think I'm being hard on myself when I say that I am not doing enough. I need to focus on math so I can take the GRE in the spring or summer. I need to get my apartment in order. I need to spend more time at the gym. There's just a lot I need to do.

But talking about it does little good . . . Writing myself a grand little schedule on my lovely, new palm pilot does little good. I mean, if I'm not going to follow the schedule what does it matter to write it all out? It's just a momentary appeasement for that guilty conscience. The only way I'm going to change these problems is if I start doing stuff and refuse to quit. No "and's, but's or tomorrow's" allowed. Here I go.

By the way, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Raising The Money

Ron Paul supporters do it again. This time we raised $6 million in 24 hours. Go us! This is very encouraging news.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

In Association With Other Ron Paul Supporters

I thought I would direct you to this article written by a friend of mine about why he is voting for Ron Paul. It's a better read than anything I've written on the subject.

While I'm at it here's something funny pertaining to Ron Paul. I can so relate to this having attended one of the few colleges in the U.S. that teaches Austrian economics.

Friday, December 07, 2007


When in doubt discuss the weather. I am currently in doubt. I have lots of good ideas for posts, they just do not seem to lead anywhere. I often think of something good to write about and then I will wonder what my conclusion is. Then I realize that I cannot write a post with no point. So, instead, I am going to discuss something completely pointless: snow.

Yesterday we had a nice dump of 4 inches of snow. It started snowing after 11am and kept snowing until late at night. Naturally, the worst of it came during rush hour traffic. Naturally, everyone wanted to get home early. So, naturally, everyone tried to go home at around 3pm. I get off work at 3pm, of course. Traffic was moving 10 mph on the expressway. I was stuck in it, so I should know. I thought it would be the best way to get home, considering none of the other streets were cleared of snow.

I pulled (or slid) onto the expressway and there was a car stuck in the bank on the side of the road. Above me. I kid you not. The car was practically vertical. Looking at it only one thought passed through my mind: "Abandon hope all ye who enter." For better -- more likely worse -- I was stuck on that interstate for five miles. It took me 45 minutes and my car came close to overheating.

Now, I know there are at least 5 lanes on the interstate I take to get home. Interestingly, yesterday afternoon there were three lanes. No one could see the lines on the road to tell where to drive so we all just followed the car in front of us. I was almost to my exit and I had been enjoying a lot of good music on the radio plus a lengthy traffic report. Suddenly, a song started and it began with this line: "Think of somewhere cold and caked in snow." I ask you, what freaking idiot would play a song like that right after they have done a weather report discussing the fact that snow covers the streets of the city they are broadcasting from and traffic is moving at 20mph because of it? What freaking idiot? So, no more radio for me. Why would I listen to something that is just going to taunt me?

I made it to my exit successfully and -- amazingly -- did not slip into a ditch on the exit ramp. I got all the way home in fact. But then I ran into a little problem. There was a car stuck in the entrance to the parking lot at my apartment building. Well, I parked at a different building, then moved my car after the stuck one got un-stuck. When Craig got home his bus got stuck at the bus stop outside our apartment building. They were still there an hour later.

I enjoy driving in the snow. I really do. It gives me a rush. To me it's like those people who jump down volcanoes or run into hurricanes. I am drawn to driving in the snow. doing donuts in the snow, getting into skids and then getting out. Driving in the snow is like a drug to me. It gives me a sense of euphoria and control over my environment that I get from nothing else. I just do not like everyone else being there when I am driving in the snow. I prefer to be the only one on the road. So please, next time you want to drive in the snow think about me and just don't do it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Can I Go Home Now?

I just wrote an 80,000 word novel in 30 days. That's about 278 pages double spaced. I wrote the equivalent of a 10 page paper every single day for a month.

So, yeah, can I go home now?

I have editing to do before anyone else will be allowed to read this book. But you can ask about reading it. In fact, I encourage you to ask. I like the attention.

Edit: My NaNoWriMo group was on the news. Can you guess which one is me?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am A Winner

Every year in November I finish the month feeling like I am on top of the world. This year is no different. I am a winner again! I have 55k so far and I have hardly slowed down since getting to 50k. I am just going to write this novel until it is finished! Go me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends!

I am thankful for the fact that no one got hurt in the car accident I was involved in yesterday afternoon. No, it was not my fault. In fact, I prevented it from being as bad as it could have been.

I am also thankful for my family and my friends whom I will not be seeing today. And I am thankful for my husband, who I get to spend the whole day with!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

All Of These Stories

I am now at 49k words. You are no doubt wondering why I have taken time off from writing my book to write a blog post. First, at 49k on Nov. 21st it's kind of obvious that I'm going to win. Second, I generally write in the evenings. I've found it's more conducive to how my mind works. In the evening I am far less likely to criticize my writing because I'm tired. At the end of the day I also feel a sense of urgency to get the words written for the day. So, essentially, I write posts in the morning and sometimes in the evening on my livejournal -- which is my official NaNo journal.

I have a lot of stories cooped up in my head. On my count I have written almost five first drafts of novels. Two of them are the first volumes of two different epics. Of course, in my mind an epic is not what it is in, say, someone like Robert Jordan's mind. My characters are not all black and white, good or evil. I like to introduce some ambiguity to make the reader think. For example in the one epic I wrote where the good guys have to destroy a nameless evil (so, so cliche) I have it so the biggest good guy of them all took the bad guy's power away from him before he was a bad guy. So, doesn't he have every right to be annoyed and try to conquer the universe? I don't know, that's for the reader to think about and for me to flesh out in the ensuing books.

This is the problem with my writing and the reason why I probably won't go as far with fantasy as I might with science fiction. Basically, the more popular fantasy novels are the ones where the good guys have to destroy the figurehead of all evil. I have only one story that does that and it's nowhere near conventional. Another example from that book is that I made the Chosen One decide to become a villain and eschew his "destiny." My one other epic is the story of a curse and how it affects the lives of the people it was placed on. It's essentially fantasy parody because I have a prophecy (or curse), a young boy going on a journey and a bad guy who is only a bad buy by accident. Then in the book I am currently working on for NaNo, well, it's not epic at all and I just decided that the good guys should kidnap the main character. So, I'm a bit nontraditional to say the least.

I started reading science fiction again just to catch up on the genre and discovered that I enjoy it more than fantasy. My science fiction is very different from any of the stuff I have read recently. The biggest difference so far is the lack of cyberpunk in my writing. I had never even conceived of such an idea before reading some cyberpunk. The thing is, it doesn't really interest me. Who cares how many strange operations a person can get and whether or not they can have a gun inside their skulls? The characters are always what interests me. That's why The Speed of Dark is my favorite work of science fiction. It's all about the characters.

That's how I try to write. I try to incorporate some themes -- not too blatantly. Then I try to center the story on the characters' personal journeys. One of my trademark moves is to have a "me character." However, the "me character" is never allowed to be the main character. It's always a supportive character. The definition of the "me character" is that this character will have one or two attributes of myself. Chaucer put himself into his works. However, he obviously did not take himself too seriously, because his "me character" was always a total idiot. I digress about digressing . . . Characters make the story, so that's what I try to focus on.

In conclusion -- because you have to have an "in conclusion" -- I have a lot of stories in my head. I wish some of them would get out on paper in a more perfect form and I could sell them to people.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Bird In The Spotlight

I learned an important fact yesterday evening: a bird in the spotlight is worth two good jokes. Craig and I went to see Brian Regan perform at a place near where we live. Brian Regan is a comedian who has been around for a number of years. I consider him to be the funniest man in American, possibly the world. His jokes are all clean and with no swearing beyond the word "hell."

Yesterday he was about a third of the way into his show. It was funny. Let me tell you, I will never think of automated phone systems the same way again and I used to navigate those things like a pro when I worked with insurance. Anyway, he started a new joke and suddenly a bird flew into the spotlight. I actually thought someone had released it as part of the joke for a moment. But, no, it was just in the theatre. It took refuge up above the stage. Half the crowd made a high pitched bird noise. Brian did not see the bird, so all he knew was that people were making a really weird noise. He laughed it off and made a few jokes about the audience response. We laughed and he got back to the show.

Near the end of the show Brian Regan introduced a joke with the words, "A bird flew into our house." At that moment the entire audience went into throes of hysterical laughter. A bunch of people made the bird noise again. It quickly became apparent that Brian had no idea why we were laughing. He still managed to make a joke out of it, but every time he tried to start the joke again we would go into gales of laughter. Eventually he got the joke told. When he came back on stage for his encore he asked the audience what was going on that we had laughed so much at the beginning of a joke. So we told him about the bird, whose presence he had not noticed. He will definitely never forget us.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shock, But Mostly Awe

I just received a phone call from Jim Guest. He asked me to make phone calls to other Ron Paul supporters to make sure they're going to come to caucus night. I said yes. I knew he was going to be in town tonight making phone calls. I did not expect him to call me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Julian The Shark

I give you fair warning that this post is coming from the mind of a recently embittered Smallville fan. It's too big an angry rant for my livejournal. Warner Brothers may have jumped the shark on their hit series. For real. So, if you have no interest in the show or have not kept up on the current season, you might not care to read further. Spoiler alert.

First off, who wrote tonight's episode? The dialog was less than fresh. There were two people who took that crappy dialog and worked it. They would be John Glover and Michael Rosenbaum. John Glover plays Lionel Luthor, father of Lex Luthor and by far the best character in the series. Michael Rosenbaum plays Lex Luthor a man on a journey to become the biggest baddie of them all. I suppose that Tom Welling (Clark Kent) did a good job as well. I add that his lines were not as crappy as everyone else's.

Second off, why has Lionel turned into a bit part? It's as if the screenwriters have forgotten the masterful character he was in seasons 2,3 4 and 5. It's as if they've lost their minds. The problems between him and Lex have ceased to exist, yet they still hate each other. Am I the only one who thinks this bears some more thought and fleshing out? Come on people, give Lionel back his character. I liked it better when he was evil. At least he had an important part to play then.

Third off, bringing in Lex's "dead" brother Julian jumped a shark. Maybe two sharks. It hurt. Giving him the role of the stupid, annoying, horny editor at the Planet may have jumped an additional shark. This destroys one of the most important parts of the whole series. Again, the Lex-Lionel conflict. Possibly my favorite episode of the entire series was 3.19. In it we learn the truth about Julian's death, which, until then we were under the impression that Lex had caused. Lex gets back some repressed memories from his childhood to discover that his mother killed Julian. Yes, this is horrible, yes, she was crazy. But more than that, it is in that episode that Lionel realizes that he has hated his son for 20 years because he thought Lex killed Julian. They cannot go back and change that by making Julian alive. It doesn't make sense. It's wrong. It's jumping the shark. I won't stand for it. I'm an angry fan. I wish I could pretend this had never happened. It's completely inconsistent with the rest of the show. I can only hope that they will do a decent enough job with this tangential problem that I can gloss over it and pay more attention to the other characters story-lines. I can only hope. Desperately . . .

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul

. . . and it's taking up all my time.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Philosophy of Stories

A wise man once told me -- and I paraphrase, "Philosophy means nothing, we should just tell stories." I tend to view my life through a kaleidoscope of stories. This is why I write and this is why I wish to share some of the stories that have made me who I am. I will focus on the stories that I enjoyed before the age of 19 (that's when I went to college) in this post.

1. Horton Hatches the Egg: When I was very young I had a cassette tape that played this Dr. Seuss classic. I would listen to it every day along with my twin sister. The thing I remember most about the story is Horton's stodgy motto: "I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful one hundred percent." I took that to mean exactly what it means, except that I am not an elephant. I hold myself to a very high standard of doing what I say I will do. I used to think this came about after my experiences selling puppies to deadbeats who never showed up when they said they would. Or simply because I am a Christian and want to give people a good impression of Christianity. But no, the fact is, I hold myself to that standard because a story drilled it into me at a very young age.

2. King Solomon in the Bible: You might wonder what this story had to do with me. Well, I'll tell you. One of my favorite Bible stories was the one about King Solomon's wisdom. I used to ask mom to read that to me from the picture Bible at least once a week. I took it to mean that wisdom is good, but it's difficult to come by. Strangely enough, I always understood why what Solomon did in the story about the baby and the two women who claimed it was a wise way of acting. I also understood that he lost his wisdom in certain circumstances (around attractive women, or just women). We all have weaknesses that outweigh the bounds of our wisdom. Or, rather, we are all fallen and even wisdom cannot keep us from doing stupid and wrong things. We need God's forgiveness.

3. The book of Job: I have read Job more than any other book in the Bible. It's effects on the way I live my life are multiple. First, there's Job's absolute stubbornness. He just would not curse God, and he refused to believe that the reason for his torment was his own doing. I am a stubborn person too. If you say something to me that I completely disagree with then I will not back down. I've got myself into trouble because of that. Which brings me to the next bit of Job's story that shaped the way I am. How I choose my friends. I am very picky about who I am close to. I am not exclusive, however. I will hang out and have a good time with lots of different people. I am picky, however, about who I confide in. Obviously, poorly chosen friends can have a negative effect. So I choose as wisely as I can. The third thing I learned from Job is reverence. Another term for that would be the fear of God. I have never heard God speak from a whirlwind, but I know he can. Then there is the subject of suffering. From the book of Job I learned that suffering is a part of life. You cannot get around it no matter how good you are. Some people choose to whine and complain about suffering. I try my best to accept suffering and make the most of this imperfect life. Lastly, I have the patience of Job. I kid you not.

4. Mouse Soup: My favorite book was Mouse Soup. I memorized it when I was three years old so that I could read it to myself before I knew how to read. Mouse Soup taught me that you do not have to be the biggest and the strongest in order to succeed against bigger and stronger odds. You just have to be a thinker and you have to keep going. Mouse Soup is really a Machiavellian story and it made Machiavellian principles quite clear to me at a very young age. This book also gave me an appreciation for the use of words and stories. A good story can turn a bad day around. In Mouse Soup the stories he tells save the little mouse's life. It's an extreme example, but it works.

5. Frog and Toad books: These books taught me many things about devotion, perseverance and loyalty. I would read them again and again because I so admired the friendship between Frog and Toad. To this day when I think of happiness among friends I think of Frog and Toad. I also think of those two creatures when I have bad dreams or do garden work.

6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Holmes is a remarkable character. Perhaps best known for the phrase, "Truth is stranger than fiction." I always laughed that a fictional character said that. The important thing I learned from Holmes was to pay attention to my surroundings. You can deduce a lot if you just take the time to observe the world around you. It took conscious effort for me to train myself to watch the world and determine the meanings of what I saw. Now it's a subconscious skill.

7. Pinocchio: Pinocchio was the first longish book that I ever read. It's really not that long actually. I adored this story from a very young age, having watched the Disney movie over and over again. But the book is so much better than the movie. People always tell me that "Pinocchio lied." My response was always, "Yeah, and he repented." His life was a long struggle of yearning. Just as my own is. He wanted to be better than he was and he could not be that of his own free will. Nothing Pinocchio did could make him into his desire to be human. Just as nothing I do will make me perfect or wash me clean of my wrongdoings. Only God's grace can do that.

Stories shaped my character and that's why I am a story teller. I'd better get back to writing my book now. What are some of your stories?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Get Over It, Already

Raise your hand if you are tired of the GOP looking for Ronald Reagan. Both mine went up. I remember back in 2000 people talked about how Bush was like the next Ronald Reagan. Now it's election cycle again and we are all groaning about how there is no Reagan Republican to elect.
My response is this: Ronald Reagan was there when we needed him. He spent a lot of money. I like him, he's not my hero, but I like him a lot. He was a great man. He helped bring down communism and he made the economy better for a while (my problem here is that I am complimenting government for helping us out with something that government should not be involved in -- the economy). But he's gone, people. He's gone. Get over it. Right now we do not need Ronald Reagan. We do not even need a Reagan Republican.

What we need is a very, very conservative voice that will reintroduce some of the important things about our country that we have forgotten. For example, sound foreign policy, not borrowing millions of dollars from China every day, letting the market work instead of centralizing economic control and spending less money (because we're out of money). We also need optimism. Which, I might add, Reagan had. We need something to hope for. I really don't see anything like that in most of these candidates vying for the presidency. The hope they're offering is an empty hope to anyone who knows anything about how all this spending is going to affect our country.

The way I see it, I'm going to have to deal with the fact that we have huge debt problems and our money is losing value. I would rather we turned this ship around right now than continued heading for that rock over there. Reagan was great, but the problems our country faces now are not the same as the problems he steered us through. We need somebody else. So get over it. He was there when we needed him, now we need a different guy (no, I do not mean to say that only a man can be president, I just do not like Hillary).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Making Headlines

I would just like to draw your attention to the fact that Ron Paul's campaign raised over $4 million in one day. There are two amazing things about this 1) the money is still coming in and 2) most of these donors -- if not all -- are regular people giving as much as they can.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hooked On NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in a few hours. I am bouncy with anticipation. I do not intend to stay up until midnight and then begin writing. That's just not how I work. Instead I will get up in the morning and write and write and write. NaNoWriMo is such a great time of the year. I think I prefer it to hunting season when I was a kid. I do not hunt anymore, I do not like killing animals. It's just a matter of personal preference. I will eat them, but I will not kill them. In a way, NaNoWriMo has replaced my need for something fun and solitary yet not solitary to do during the month of November. That sentence could use a nice overhaul, so let me explain. When hunting one tries to find a place alone, however, when the sun rises above the trees one can always see glimpses of orange not too far away. Those are the other hunters who are also trying to find a place alone. As the day wears on you will hear gunshots from all around you. Sometimes it's like a war zone or something. Eventually you will return home to get on the phone with your neighbors and ask who got a deer and then your relatives call.

NaNo is similar, it just takes longer to get your novel written and -- in my case at least -- you are more assured of winning. I write alone, but there are hundreds of thousands of people all over the world writing at the same time. They can talk to me and I can talk to them via the forums at the NaNoWriMo website. I am not afraid to write a book the same way that I am afraid to shoot an animal. I think I liked hunting best because I could just sit there outside in the quiet. If I saw a deer I did not actually have to kill it. I could just tell everyone that it was an impossible shot. Of course, that never happened, but it was an idea that crossed my mind. Not so in NaNo. I never even think of losing, let alone doing it on purpose! I would not do NaNo if I was not absolutely certain I could win.

This year I have decided to dedicate this month of writing to my friend C. who passed away a couple weeks ago. I worked with him back in Indiana and I am pained at his passing. He was also a writer, not published and he liked sci-fi. It's a very sad story. Of the friends I made back in Indiana he was not the closest, but he was one of the few at my workplace who got to know me when I was just a temp instead of waiting for me to be a permanent employee. Most people do not talk to the temps because we do not stick around. So that meant a lot to me. I never took the time to tell him that. I was unable to be there at his memorial, in fact, I did not find out about his death until after his funeral. So, I am going to give him my own memorial by basing a character off of him. It's the least I can do.

I guess I better get to work on my last few plot notes and character sketches. The big day is tomorrow! Wish me luck!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Tale Of Two Rallies

On Friday I went to a Ron Paul rally. I listened to Ron Paul give the best speech I have ever heard in my entire life. Most of the speech appeared completely unrehearsed. I saw RP look at his notes once and only once. He looked his audience in the eyes and I am absolutely certain there was no teleprompter behind us. That man was not reading, he was speaking from his heart. He explained some rather complex concepts to us about the economy and how it connects with foreign policy. But it was all perfectly understandable. For once I felt like a speaker was not talking down to me, and actually believed I have the intelligence to understand something other than an upbeat blurb. I got a Ron Paul button and a sign. I cheered with the crowd. From where I sat I could have taken two steps and been standing right next to Ron Paul. There were quite a few other people up there with me. And we all sat neatly in our chairs and clapped when Ron Paul said something that was good to hear. We made sure not to clap or cheer too long, you know, let the man have his say. I gave Ron Paul a standing ovation along with everyone else at the end. Then I quietly decided to let the people who had never met Ron Paul throng him and I went home. Actually, throng would be the wrong word to use. They lined up in a neat greeting line and walked up to him in an orderly fashion. All in all, there were 300+ people at the rally, which, I think, is good.

Contrast that experience with the Bush rally I attended back in 2000. Yes, I did go to a Bush rally. No I do not like Bush and even in 2000 I had some misgivings about him despite my concerted efforts to get the man elected. Easy to say in retrospect . . . I digress. There were about a thousand people at the Bush rally. I was near the front of the crowd. The rally was held in a small stadium and the people had to stand on the cement floor to listen to a speech that we had heard many times before. When Bush entered they played some upbeat and overly loud song and we all cheered like he was a rock star (which he is not). Bush did not look at the crowd much of the time, or at least, not where I was. This may have been partly because he was standing on a platform high above our heads. At the end of the speech I got smashed against the side of the stage by a mass of screaming, struggling people. It is amazing that nobody got hurt. I managed to get a sign I had autographed by Bush and I managed to shake his hand as he walked past me. But he did not look me in the eye or even see me. All he saw were my hands sticking out of the crowd. The people right next to me on either side did not get autographs or handshakes. It took me hours to leave the rally. The press of the crowd was overwhelming and infuriating.

I think the biggest difference between these two rallies would be accessibility. Ron Paul supporters feel like Ron Paul will listen to us. He's a regular guy, just like we are and he has no sense of celebrity-ness even though he's famous and we all love him. When Ron Paul is there we are very excited, but we do not have that same desperation that drove the Bush fans to crush me against the wall. We do not mob RP, we just walk up politely, say hello and ask him some questions. I am sure not every RP supporter is that nice to him, but the majority are. There is no one attempting to keep us away from Ron Paul although there is security available. They just do not have much of a job. The Bush people made it impossible for his potential constituents to talk to or reach Bush by putting up an actual fence between us. That made people crazy, it made them feel like Bush was not hearing them. I doubt that we would have mobbed Bush if he had been standing on our own level and we had been asked to line up. Had we been able to ask him questions like Ron Paul supporters can we probably would not have been such a messy crowd.

I am not going to compare the actual candidates in this post, just the rallies and the way things were done. I can definitely say that "it is a far, far better thing I do now than I" did when Bush was running.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This Am I

Taking a different angle on my life than the usual serious note you get on my blog, I have decided to tell you a few stories about myself that may shock. I am not always the cool headed, political analyst you read about on here. So, I will begin with a story from yesterday and go back through the years to reveal a few more incidents in my life that may surprise my noble readers.

1) Craig and I went to the mall on a whim last night. It was already 8:30pm and I was not sure when the mall would close. I was banking on 9pm as we live in that kind of a town. I paused after passing through the door of the mall to scrutinize the hours. Of course, they were on the outside of the door, so I was reading them backwards. I muttered to myself as I did this, "10am to 9pm Monday thru Saturday."

Suddenly Craig said, "Why are you staring at the man?"

I was surprised by this, because I had seen no man at all. As we walked away I asked Craig what he was talking about and he told me I had been staring at a homeless man who was standing right in front of me as I looked at the door. I guess the guy was eating a sandwich and started to look surprised at my concentrated stare. So, yeah, apparently I accidentally ogled some homeless guy with a sandwich. Out there somewhere, is a person who might recognize me the next time he sees me, but I will never know what he looks like. All I saw were the store hours and tell me, how would this guy know I was reading store hours? Who reads store hours backwards through a door?

2) I lived in Washington, D.C. for a while and I worked in one of the House Office Buildings. One day as I was on my way home from work -- keep in mind this was not my first day -- I got on the elevator and pushed the first floor button. When the door opened I got off and started walking. I arrived at the place where the outer entrance should have been, but it was not there. I started wandering around the floor searching for the entrance. I began to panic after 20 minutes or so. I was trapped inside a building, would I ever get out? I noticed the red exit signs and decided to follow them. They took me to the elevator and stairs. Yes, indeed. I had got off on the third floor instead of the first (of a four story building, mind you).

3) Craig, myself and my roommate went to Wal Mart one time near Halloween during my senior year of college. We were just walking into the entrance when I noticed something moving to my right, out of the corner of my eye. My peripheral vision is extremely good, my reaction time is even better. I turned to face a monstrous, dancing, singing skeleton and I screamed for all I was worth. Then I realized it was not real. There was a woman mopping the floor nearby and she just about ended up rolling on the floor with laughter.

So, there you have it. Three stories that illustrate the fact that I am not perfect. Are you disillusioned?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Changes Effective

Frequenters of my blog may note a couple changes in my sidebar. First, I have switched my Ron Paul logo to an actual Ron Paul promotional thing and linked it to his official election '08 site. Second, I removed the Pence '08 link and very cool looking icon. I believe I have paid enough homage to the idea of Mike Pence running for president. He is not going to, that's sad, but I am making the best of things by throwing my support behind an even more fiscally conservative gentleman. Lastly, I replaced Pence's spot with my NaNoWriMo participant icon. It is linked to the NaNo site. I used to have this particular icon and link down at the bottom of my list of links. I decided that it deserves a higher spot on the list, so there you go.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back In The Race

It has been a while since I have done anything related to the Ron Paul for president campaign other than read the news. Today I finally rejoined the ranks of the committed and crazy. I went to the campaign office in my town and made phone calls. Fortunately, they were what we call "warm calls." That means the people had already put their names in the hat as Ron Paul supporters. The idea was to get them to register Republican, go to the Iowa Caucus on Jan. 3rd and maybe even recruit more supporters.

It went fine. I am not a big fan of making phone calls to random people. But I signed up to help out every week. The fact is I need to help and I know it. I care about this cause, I need to put my best foot forward. That's how I am. When I care, I act. I do not just sit on the sidelines and watch other people act. In fact, doing that makes me feel like a less worthwhile person. I am proud of myself for working the phones.

After I made it through one page of numbers I asked to do something different for a while. Like I said, I hate making phone calls to random people. As I get used to the idea I will probably be less apprehensive about it. But after the first time I needed something else to do so I could blow off steam. Most Ron Paul supporters are pleasant and interested people. I did have one guy get mad at me because he was on his way to catch a plane and another gal got annoyed because she was heading to class. A) I am a volunteer B) they're the ones who answered their phones when they were busy. People always put blame on innocent parties for their own issues.

Oh well, for the most part I got to talk to some interested and excited RP supporters. That was good. I'll keep trying. It's all I can do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

T-Minus Fifteen

The only fact my brain seems capable of processing at the moment is that I only have to wait 15 more days until NaNoWriMo. Another year has passed. I used to count the years by my birthday or by New Year's Day, or both. Now I count them by the 50k word novel I write in 30 days or less. I am so excited I have almost nothing to say. Of course, this being the final days before I become a recluse I should work harder at writing some interesting posts. We will see.

So, this year I am doing a rewrite of a fairy tale which no one reads. Hence, there's not point in me telling you what it is. It reminds me of Robinson Crusoe in that things keep happening which add to the plot, but there is not a central fantasy plot so to speak. It is a story of events and characters. There is no main bad guy or evil thing that the main characters have to overcome. This is mainly because I think books like that are kind of stupid. Not all of them, but I am rather tired of the Evil Overlord trying to destroy the known world for no reason whatsoever. At least no reason that said Overlord is capable of describing. I am also tired of the Perfect Hero saving the day by being more powerful than the Evil Overlord. Where is the suspense in that? However, I do like big battles at the end. So maybe I can throw in one of those.

I have no main Evil Overlord and my story will be from the point of view of what should be a side character. For the bad guy I just have an ambitious guy who made a mistake. The only way out of the mistake is to conquer the kingdom. Oh yeah, and there's some magic, a witch, a pair of brothers and some weird animals who can talk. Not sure what to do about the animals yet, they frighten me with their cliche-ness. I am writing the story from the point of view of the bad guy's girlfriend. I thought it would be fun to write a story with a female lead for once. A new step for me. She's not a bad person either. Yes, I have a hero, or a couple of heroes. The focus is not on the heroes nor is it on the bad guy being bad. It is on the development of the main character and the events that occur to change that character. The story is the journey. In a way it is my own journey as well. I learn as I write.

After all, there are two main points to NaNoWriMo. The first is to write your heart out. The second is to try something you have not tried before. I will employ both this November. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Am Just That Good

My friend at Audendi tagged me with this task:

Make a list of five strengths that you possess as a writer/artist. It’s not really bragging, it’s an honest assessment (forced upon you by this darn meme). Please resist the urge to enumerate your weaknesses, or even mention them in contrast to each strong point you list. Tag four other writers or artists whom you’d like to see share their strengths.

1. Subtlety - I write subtle, if you know what that means. I am good at writing with subtlety. I have spent the last year or so working on subtleness in writing. Before that I had a knack for writing humor without the blatant comments, I simply did not practice that knack. Now, however, I think I have earned the right to call it one of my writing strengths.

2. Wit - This does not just mean that I am funny. There is more to wit than humor. Wit requires intelligence. You know, the ability to mock someone without that person realizing that you are mocking them. I am able to do this in writing. Of course, most of the time the reason the person I am mocking does not know I am doing it is because he or she is too important to read my blog.

3. Action - To me action is the part where you tell the reader what just happened. I can tell people what just happened and it will make sense. It might take me a few times writing the story for the sense part to come in, but it does. Specifics are important to action, so I always focus on the specifics.

4. Insight - I can pinpoint the problem and strike to its heart instead of just edging around it. I can summarize the heart of the issue in a way that is both instructive and entertaining to the reader. That is insight. I may not always get all the main points of an issue, but I am only one woman with one point of view. I see the big picture and I do my best to bring up what I see to be the central point. And I am damn good at it.

5. Humanity - I have both humor and insight, but I am not above the rest of the human race and I do not seem to be so. I come across as able to relate to the average person. I am down to earth and easygoing even when I am in the throes of describing my biggest pet peeve.

I suppose that I should tag some people now. Consider yourself tagged if you want to participate in this exercise. Yes, Little Cicero and Emily that means you.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Another Year

It's my birthday. Yesterday it was pouring rain. Today the sun is out and it is beautiful. I don't see a cloud in the sky. Here's hoping I have no birthday clouds either.

Oh yeah, my car broke down yesterday so I may not be able to go to work today. I am not seeing how this is such a bad thing. Unless, of course, I do not get the car back in time for Craig to take me out to dinner.

Edit: Yes, I got the car back in time for work and for a good birthday dinner. To those of you who want to tell me happy birthday and cannot do so because of my blog's google account requirement I can explain. I got some anonymous spammers a while back who said nothing helpful. I found that changing my blog to google account only comments kept the spammers away.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Time Waits For No One

Sometimes I pause to wonder what I have accomplished in my life and if I will ever accomplish anything. Looking at people who are much younger than myself and are already famous and seem fairly well balanced scares me a little. Perhaps I should not compare myself to others. I know, we all do it. It's probably only a discouragement in the long term. Maybe it pushes me a little to work on the goals I have for my life. But then again, maybe it just makes me cycle into a few moments of self pity that will never help me get anywhere.

I want to be an author. I have completed the second draft of a fantasy novel. I am tied up working on the second draft of a science fiction novel -- my current masterpiece. It requires a few more chapters added to the middle of the book, a new ending (I have planned for that) and a total revamping of the bad guy character. He's too stupid. I also want to do something consequential with my life. Like being the CEO of a company or something. Someday it might be nice to use my poli-sci background writing for a political journal of some kind. Oh yeah, and I would like to have a family at some point in all this.

I know I said a while back I was thinking of going into psychology or social work. I changed my mind. Among other things I do not have the drive to spend the amount of time necessary to learn all that. However, I did have an alternative idea -- suggested to me actually -- about going to grad school for Public Administration. I have been looking at the universities in my area and have discovered one very good PA Masters program. So, now I have to study for the GRE and take it. Another scary beginning step.

There are many things I want to be and it seems only one thing that I am: a dreamer. I hope that changes sometime in the near future. After all, I am not getting any younger.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Dull And The Witless

Those of you who know me, even a little, know that I am a big, big fan of the great American Western. You have probably already seen my review of 3:10 to Yuma. I expect a lot in a Western. If you're going to take the time to make one I think you should do your research into everything. It is unfortunate that over the last two or three decades the art of the Western was all but lost. One time watching The Quick and the Dead showed me that. There was only one instance in the entire movie where it even paid homage to the traditional Western. That was right before Gene Hackman's and Russell Crowe's characters had their shoot out. All of a sudden the entire style of the movie changed: the actors carried the story instead of the stupid, gritty lines; the camera pulled back showing that beautiful long shot that includes both gunmen, the back of one and the front of the other facing him down the street. All at once they took seriously the cinematography and other attributes that have made Westerns so wonderful to watch. Then we went back to a total '90s spin off with random close ups, stupid angles, short shots and pathetic dialog.

Maybe you think I am more finicky than an obsessive compulsive at a crime scene. I do not really know or care. I have come to expect a certain amount of excellence and adherence to tradition from a Western movie. It needs real drama, good lines, good acting, flow, beautiful scenery and, of course, the Western themes. It needs to make one think about building civilization from scratch and bringing law and order to a beautiful yet seemingly Godforsaken territory. The Dull and the Witless, excuse me, The Quick and the Dead does none of this.

Instead, it takes an idea and creates a catastrophe. Here was the idea on the drawing board:

"Let's make another movie like Maverick, that sold well! But let's make it more, um, uh, extreme, yeah! We need a contest, hmm, how about they have to kill each other instead of play cards? So, they have to be really fast on the draw, don't they do that in Westerns a lot? (My comment: no doofus, it is preferable to have one very suspenseful shoot out in a Western.) Yeah, that'd be awesome. And we can have an evil guy in charge of an entire town, like Stalin, or, or something, who was Stalin anyway? But instead of doing the usual roughing people up and taking their money and land like in all the old Westerns let's have him come up with a contest every year so he can pick off the people who might want to shoot him later. (My comment: Those were usually the weakest Westerns anyway -- except for Shane -- but I should note that no one could ever pin the badguy down as the badguy, they just knew he was behind all that crap.) Wow, this is great. We're really coming up with some good sh**. Keep it rolling. What else doe we need? Well, we need Sharon Stone's breasts, or at least one of them. That would make it work as a movie. No one would remember any of the lines or anything if we can get Sharon Stone to flash 'em. What else? I know, let's make it super serious and do cool things with the camera. You know I always liked it how in soap operas they get the camera really, freakin' close to the actor's face. But I think we should turn it at an angle to be more extreme and more cool . . . And slow motion, we have to have slow motion, tons of it! Like, awesome!"

So then they made the movie and it's not very good. Need I say more?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Contrast And Comparison

Recently I decided to watch my all time favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice (1995) the BBC miniseries version. I have only watched this 5 hour movie in one sitting twice in my life. The first time was post final exams my first semester freshman year. The second time was right before my colonoscopy the day that I had to consume nothing but liquids and got to drink some really nasty prescribed beverages in the evening hours. Each time I watch this movie I notice something different. And believe me, I've watched it a lot. I almost have it memorized, there's no real reason for me to keep watching it I suppose. I still find it fresh and interesting, despite these facts. I still notice something new also. I believe the BBC version is truly the best because it portrays the subtleties of the book without making them too plain. The conversation behind the conversation is almost always there. The main difference between the miniseries and the 2005 -- short -- version of Pride and Prejudice is the aspect of subtlety. The 2005 version was not able to maintain it's subtlety and thus is somewhat lacking (although the cinematography and musical score are outstanding in comparison to the 1995 BBC version). I digress.

This time watching the miniseries I noticed something that I think a lot of people miss. Most of the time I hear people talk about how wonderful Mr. Darcy is. How much he gave to win Lizzie, what a gentleman he is. Women want to marry him and men are intimidated by him. He's basically supposed to be the sexiest, most ideal man in English literature. People leave out a few important bits of the story in forming these opinions of Mr. Darcy. Specifically, I find it interesting that at the end of the movie Mr. Darcy thanks Lizzie for saving him from a life of "pride and conceit." I cannot remember if that's in the book as clearly as it is in the movie. But I think it is still important.

The fact is, I have always wondered if no one else noticed the offensive manner of Mr. Darcy's first proposal to Lizzie. Lizzie was completely in the right to chastise him the way she did. Moreover, her response to his proposal proves what a strong character she is in the story. Any other woman would have gone for Mr. Darcy for his money and prestige alone. In fact, he expected Lizzie to do just that. This expectation shows the audience that Mr. Darcy was not the ideal man after all. He was far too arrogant to realize that love might be more important to a woman in his society than money and position, or security. Yes, perhaps Lizzie was blinded by her prejudices, but she had every right to turn down that proposal even without the prejudice bit.

Speaking of Lizzie's prejudices, I find it funny that so many people are so willing to judge her on that. We all know women who have succumbed to the male sob story. Some of us have even done that. Yet we automatically think ill of Lizzie for believing Mr. Wickham. Wickham did seem sincere in his attempt to win her sympathy. Furthermore, he was not stupid enough to think that Lizzie would have run away with him like Lydia did. It is clear to me that Wickham did admire, respect and even possibly love Lizzie. The only way he could think to get her attention and goodwill was the sob story. Yes, he used her to gain a general good opinion in her town. But he obviously knew he could not actually take advantage of her. I think that he had some idea that she was the unattainable woman; the one too strong for him to get. And I think in that sense he did want her. Besides all that, how could she have known he was a liar? Mr. Darcy was too proud to make his own matters public and show the world what kind of a man Wickham was. Lizzie had only the word of the one who seemed nicer to go on. Mr. Darcy did kind of insult her in public at a ball once and made no efforts to be nice anywhere she saw him.

No, I am not saying that Lizzie is not at all to blame. It does behoove us to consider with care the stories told us about what's wrong with other people. We should assess people's actions against their words. It is best not to believe ill rumors about someone before we get to know the person. But I do find it funny that people let Mr. Darcy off so easily just because he loved Lizzie. If he had loved her so much than he should have cared enough about her not to insult all her loved ones to her face when he proposed to her. He should have bothered to get to know her and realized that she would not marry a man who she did not love and who treated her like he did.

In the end, it is clear that Lizzie's obstinacy had a good effect on Mr. Darcy. He learned to have patience and he learned to set aside his pride. Lizzie is a very strong female character, one that women can appreciate and respect, yet one who is fallible. Why is this part of the story so often overlooked?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Enjoy The Blather

Memogate is back and it's funnier than ever. Here's an article by Jonah Goldberg that -- surprisingly -- describes my feelings on the subject. (I am not always or often in agreement with Mr. Goldberg, but this time, yeah.) My gosh, there's been too much good stuff in the news recently. I'm becoming a parrot.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Run Screaming!

Hillary's universal health care plan is scary beyond all reason. That is, what small details have been leaked. Aside from costing an arm a leg and an extra million from each taxpayer, the plan mandates that you must have health insurance before having a job. It also regulates private health insurance. Am I the only one who wants to run screaming from this woman and her plan?

What The Hell?

. . . as Churchill so eloquently said one time. Our money is changing. Just goes to show that the whole idea of centralizing control of money is stupid (or should I say loony?). I'm not entirely sure what to make of this yet. Maybe the dollar will grow again someday.

I am betting that Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who will discuss this issue in a sensible manner.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Book With No Title

For those who are the least bit interested -- and those who are not -- in the book I have finished I will furnish you with a description. The short, boring version of the description is that it's a fantasy book, set in a fantasy world and it's the first in a series. And no, it's not published, I finished the second draft. I am going to have some people read it for me and work on corrections before sending it off to an agent or two (or three or four . . . ). In the meantime, I am going to take a break. Now for the more exciting description. . .

He's not the Chosen One, he's not destined for greatness, he's not even well paid. This is the story of Delano, an ordinary guy working at a local pub who happened to steal some of the beverages one day and was served a swift termination of employment to his tail bone. Having no life skills, Delano would not have made it far -- until he got tangled up in a supernatural struggle between (you guessed it) good and evil. Now he just has to figure out whose side he's on. And find the silver cabinet.

Edit: A more accurate and informal description can be found on my livejournal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Signs Of The Apocalypse

I finished writing a book. Need I say more? Wow, I almost feel like I should share an excerpt or something just to make this moment even more special and properly celebrated.

I feel somehow calm and listless. But it's only the calm before the storm of NaNoWriMo 2007! Registration begins soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Plain Speak

My friend Emily brought my attention to this article about the way we use words. I thought it was too good to pass up posting a link to. It's fun to think about how we beat around the bush when we talk.

I am a very direct and blunt person. I am careful about how much I say when I talk, but that's about it. I often say the wrong thing, often in perfect honesty. People tend to find me strange because of this. Keeping my mouth shut is the best way to avoid saying something weird. But, no matter. I hate beating around the bush and I hate flattery and manipulation. I always see through it. At the same time, I have an extreme sense of appropriateness. Certain things should not be said at certain times or places; certain things should only be said in the nicest way possible. I will hold to my hardheadedness on that until the day I die. I think most people are a conglomeration of contradictions. This may be one of mine. I speak plain, but I think it's right to speak careful (I'm not always successful at either of these). Point is, it's fun to think about how we use words and how we view the way we talk to each other.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

11:20 To Russell Crowe

I arrived home about twenty minutes ago from seeing the movie 3:10 to Yuma. Now that is a thing worth seeing, especially if you like Westerns. I have to say that Russell Crowe is, well, he's a guy worth looking at. But more than that, he and Christian Bale are definitely the two most badass white guy actors out there. I should add that this movie is a Western, which means there's lots of gun fighting, some heroics, a hell of a lot of ambiguity and interesting themes and not too much that can actually be described as "badass."

I think one of my favorite things about Westerns are the endings. They are never conspicuously happy. In fact, if you see a Western with an overwhelmingly happy ending, it's probably a hokey one that I would hate. The traditional Western ending is ambiguous. Even the movie The Searchers is like that. Yes, they finally do rescue the girl who got kidnapped and bring her home. But her sister got killed. And a lot of other people get killed. And in the end the audience sees everyone running into the house happy and excited that the girl is still alive and finally home except John Wayne's character. He stands outside the house watching the merrymaking, but unable to take part in it. He was the one who actually went the extra mile -- and extra 5 years in this case -- to rescue the girl and bring her home. The thing I'm trying to say is that the Western never tries to trick you into believing that life is or should be a cakewalk. Even the very end is not a "happily ever after." Yes, the bad guy often gets his due, yes a few of the good people usually do survive. No, that does not mean that everything will be peachy forever.

Yuma incorporates this reality, just as much as it incorporates every other great Western theme that I have come to know and love. It's very character centric, asking the questions of what makes a man a hero or a coward through dialog and action. It portrays the man outside of society as -- in Aristotle's words -- either a "beast or a god." Some of the good guys are just as horrible and mean spirited as the bad guys. Nothing is cut and dried. But you know that Dan Evans (Christian Bale) will keep going no matter what. You are not surprised by the respect that Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) the outlaw has for Dan Evans. You are happy to see Dan Evans' son learning to love and respect his father at last.

I'm not going to tell you the story because I think you should go watch the movie for that. I just love the way they pulled off this movie. The dialog was amazing, but there was not too much of it. It happens so rarely that script writers and directors allow the actors the chance to make the movie work with acting rather than lines. I don't think there was word out of place in this movie. It was all so perfect, so geared to make the audience see what the characters were thinking and feeling. The acting was superb. I cannot even begin to describe it. Somebody should get an award, but I'm not sure who. The pacing was another rare treat. It did not move too fast. So often people want more action and less character development. This movie has both. But by not giving us too much action all at once the filmmakers were able to draw out the audience's sense of suspense. That made the ending so much sweeter; so much more worth the wait.

Yup, I'll be buying this one on dvd. I recommend you watch it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

The last few weeks have been busier than normal for me. That is because I have a job. If I am not commenting on others blogs as often then I am sure you can understand why. So far my job is going well.

The generic description of my job is this: I help people with disabilities learn living skills. The exciting description is unknown to me. I have many heretofore unspoken reasons for choosing to work in this type of environment. The biggie would be that I am thinking about returning to school to get either a degree in psychology or a masters in social work. I believe I can go right into grad school, it does not really matter what my undergrad was in for that. There is of course, one other possibility. If I end up absolutely hating my job then I might get a masters in public administration and then head back to state and local government. Yes, choices, choices. But one should always have backup plans I think.

I have never been that great with people. My main response is simply to listen. Giving advice is not always easy and I do not think that I am often right. Which is why I try to withhold my thoughts of advice on a lot of things. More practical things where it does not matter so much if you go wrong are a lot easier to give advice about. But real things like relationships are a bit too complex. So, this possible new vocation is definitely going to be a challenge if I go through with it. On the other hand, I am great when it comes to administrative stuff. Maybe that's why the psychology route interests me more. For once I am trying to cultivate a skill I am not naturally good at instead of going with the easy choice. Maybe I did learn my lesson about that when I could not get into the political spectrum before. I like to volunteer my time for a cause, but I do not want to put 40+++ hours a week into politics except in reading and writing. I am an analyst and an armchair politician. I like being that. I am not a great leader of people. Besides, when it comes right down to it, Jesus said that those who wish to be great should humble themselves and serve others. If I am not led astray by the strange notions I will hear about social work and psychology then perhaps I can learn to be a better servant.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mass Media

I have read at least four different articles concerning Ron Paul's candidacy in the last two days alone. Naturally, each article asserts that Paul will not make it anywhere -- naturally. They all say it like that too: "Of course, he's not going to win, of course, but we're going to talk about how he's not going to win, of course." Still, it's interesting that he's becoming news, finally. Most of the articles also group his political views together in such a way that they do not make sense. They call him anti-war. It's funny how two years ago it was bad to be a "warmongering Republican neo-con." Now it's bad to be anti-war. Not to mention the fact that this generalization fails to explain anything about Paul's views on the War in Iraq. That's beside the point to most journalists, I guess.

Here is an article that actually explains some of Ron Paul's views fairly well. Naturally, the writer thinks Ron Paul's candidacy will go nowhere, naturally. But she did actually do some research into his views, actually. She might need to put in some more efforts researching the Cold War and how the U.S. dealt with that. I think it's rather difficult to describe anything so complex in a short article and people should stop trying. All the same, I applaud her for saying that not all Paul supporters are fringe weirdos, even though she then implied that all Paul supporters are fringe weirdos. Ah, people. They need to put some thought into their analysis sometimes.

Plot Notes

The advent of fall has got me thinking about NaNoWriMo. Funny how two years ago I did not even know about this phenomenon, now it defines my October and November. I am not sure yet what I will write this coming November. I could do about half a dozen sequels to various other works I have written and half written. Or I could make up something totally new. I even have a few non-fantasy plots kicking around in my brain. That's a first. I keep trying to come up with ways to make said plots have fantastical elements or make them sci-fi. Maybe I will go with that.

I don't know. I have to get excited about a plot to write it. The problem with that is that in order to be excited about a story I need to know where it's going. With so many plots in mind it's difficult to know any one of them in detail enough to be terribly excited about writing it. In my head I keep switching from plot to plot wondering where exactly each one is going. What is the contention that makes it interesting? I just don't know yet. In the meantime I have tons of editing to get done on my 2005 NaNo novel in order to have it shipshape by October 31st. That is my goal after all. Get that second draft completed before I write another plot. I have one other first draft of a novel to edit and another 9/10ths of a first draft to finish and edit. I have no end of work to do when it comes to writing. And I'm busy worrying about what my next plot will be. I'm just crazy . . .

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Good Latte Is A Thing Of Beauty

In honor of this most auspicious occasion, I purchased a latte. I would also like to make today special by telling you of some of the odd, little things that make me happy. Today is indeed a wonderful day, because on this day I got my chauffeur's license. And on this day, I have been reinstated as a safe and good driver. This past Saturday was my first attempt to get my chauffeur's license. It is a day that will live in infamy. For on that day, I lost my license to Agent Sh**face, the bastard bureaucrat and enemy of all the thinking people. But we will not think of that day; only this day and the joy it has redeemed.

Odd things that make me happy:

Sipping a warm hazelnut latte on a crisp fall morning. Standing with my arms out and letting the warm rain fall down upon me. Hearing a song that I have not heard since I was a kid -- but it's a good song -- played on my favorite radio station. That I can stream my favorite radio station online. Writing a sentence of prose that sounds wonderful when it's read out loud. Hiking in the woods and taking the time to look at the shadows of dappled leaf patterns that cover the ground as the sun shines through the trees. Lying cozy and warm in a sleeping bag (in a cabin hopefully) and listening to the quiet of a peaceful lake where only the loons and the lapping water break the silence. Catching a fish -- but not baiting the hook. Climbing a tree. Mozilla Firefox. Eating fresh cotton candy. Feeling the heat of a warm day wrap me up inside it. Delicious food that looks beautiful. The scent of lilacs wafting through the warm spring air. Bees buzzing on a summer day. Looking out across the fields and knowing that I will always love the country more than the city. That funny smile you get from a stranger who is having just as good a day as you are and wants to share it with you. A stunningly emotional book that changes how I think and feel. The last sentence of a book, when the journey is done and all that is left is this one poignant line. A catchy chorus in a good song. Those moments in life when I see my future laid out before me and it seems so clear what I must do -- they never last, but they leave an impression. A dream, not the kind you have at night. Rather the kind that fills you up with inspiration and makes you walk out the door full of confidence in God's goodness and His purpose in your life. And, last but not least, knowing that I am a good driver and I have a driver's license.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aggravation Thy Name Is Bureaucracy

For my new job -- yes, I did get it -- I require a chauffeur's license. So, I called the DMV, BMV, DOT, SOS, SOB, whatever name you happen to call the state agency in charge of issuing driver's licenses. All I wanted to know was what test I need to take to get the license and if I need to make an appointment. I knew I would have to take the driving test. However, I wanted to make sure I would not have to take a written test or (horror of all horrors) another eye test.

The woman I spoke with first asked me for my driver's license number. I had already stated the purpose of my call when she asked this. When I gave it to her she said it would not come up. When I tried to give the number to her again she got impatient obviously annoyed that I thought she was so incompetent as to enter the number wrong. What was I supposed to do? Either she entered it wrong, or my driver's license is a fluke that will not come up in their system. I'm invisible to my government, as Hillary would say -- and boy, would I like to be invisible to my government. So, next she asked for my name, then she wanted to know why I was calling again. I went through it again. I need to get a non-commercial chauffeur's license and wanted to know what tests I would have to take. She asked me if I was going to be a taxi driver. Well, no. I explained my situation and she got even more annoyed. She asked me if I was going to be driving a huge truck. Ah, why didn't she say that to begin with?

I finally figured out that all I need is a driving test and I have to show up and take it, no appointment necessary. But I ask you, why is it that bureaucrats must come up with every way of beating it around the bush before they can ask you a simple, direct question? Also, why is it that I have to pay to get my driver's license? Don't I pay enough in taxes already? Shouldn't the single, only service that my county government seems to provide be paid for by the fact that they take my hard earned money? Lastly, why do I have to jump through hoops to get this license? I can drive. I have a perfect record, shouldn't that tell these idiots something? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Wrong Trousers

Sometimes I wake up like Wallace in Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers feeling like I'm wearing a pair of robotic pants that have taken me down the street in the wrong direction for more years than I can tell. At least, emotionally I feel that way. It's not a depressing feeling, merely a melancholy one and it passes within a few hours. Always. Still, it happens. I know it has nothing to do with my life situation. I only feel better and better about that.

It's more like the feeling you get when you reach the end of a very good book and the author throws out one of those deeply moving lines that kinda gets you right here. And it is coupled with a feeling of wasted time. Sometimes I feel like I've wasted time in waiting to have kids. Then I remember all the things I can still do without having to find a babysitter or daycare. Sometimes I feel like I have wasted time in not finishing and trying to sell my book. Then again, I am still going strong on it. It will finish eventually. Sometimes I feel like I have wasted time not completing all my random projects and scrapbooks. Again, I'm not that broken up over them. Nor do I think that "wrong trousers" moments relate only to stuff I need to do.

No, it's more like the way the character Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) explained the "mean reds" in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. "Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of." Something like that, except that I'm not really that afraid. I'm more worried and spent, like I've used up all my emotional capital making choices that did not in the end complete the task I wanted to complete. In fact, they did not come near completing it. I'm just left wondering if I'll ever get it right or if I'm just so fundamentally flawed that I can't figure out what getting it right even means.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Outdated But True

Finally, someone who does not give J.K. Rowling more credit than is her due! Here is an article about Snape -- written before the 7th book -- by Orson Scott Card. I think he makes a lot of sense. It is especially worth mentioning that he does not think Rowling intentionally inserts a lot of the themes in the Harry Potter books. Of course, he does not think most authors do that and with modern literature I would agree. Back on subject, he also points out where Harry is kind of a jerk in the books. I always wondered why no one seemed to care that whenever Snape accused Harry of lying and breaking the rules Harry was indeed lying and breaking the rules. Yeah, Snape's vindictive, but that does not mean he's entirely wrong to distrust Harry and company.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Internet Exploder Version 6.66

I am aware that the current version of Internet Explorer (aka the Version of the Beast) is displaying my blog improperly. I am attempting to fix this. In the meantime, try Firefox.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

. . . So Uncompromisingly Inferior!

Today I voted in my first Iowa Straw Poll. It was quite an experience. The experience was heightened by the fact that I chose to volunteer at the Straw Poll not for my candidate, but for the Iowa GOP. Let me tell you, if I ever volunteer for them again it will be too soon.

Okay, okay, you want results. Here ya go. Now, stop spoiling my story with your questions.

First, I arrived to learn that the medium size Straw Poll t-shirts did not come in and I was going to have to wear an enormous shirt. Medium would have been huge on me anyway, why can't anyone order smalls? I went to the restroom and came swimming out in my new, giant orange t-shirt. I swam up to the volunteer orientation. Once there I learned in completely uncertain terms how I was supposed to credential and check people in so they could vote. I then proceeded -- swimmingly and confusedly -- down the stairs to wait in a packed horde outside while our leader figured out which direction to take us in.

Fearless vague leader (FVL) took us to our building and requested all the good typists to sit behind the computers. Being a good typist I took my seat. I was soon accompanied by a fine, upstanding young volunteer with all the spirit and drive of a regular Iowan. She was great. FVL told us that we would be taking only student and military IDs. Then another leader came up to us and he shall be called confuzzled leader (CL). CL told us that we would take only driver's licenses. FVL came back and we asked her, she said that we would take driver's licenses, student ids and military ids. Then we learned that people with military ids and student ids had to fill out "voter registration" forms. No one knew if they had to fill the form out before or after they voted. It took us 15 minutes to get that news flash from FVL. Then we noticed we had no ballots. We were told that we would get to vote before all the other people. At 9:30am to be exact. Then they switched that to 9:45am. The ballots did not show up until 5 to 10. CL came back and said we would have to wait until later to vote (thus crushing the whole point of being a volunteer -- to vote first and with no lines) and he let the struggling masses into the building.

The masses were generally pleasant. I got cussed out twice. Once by a state trooper who thought it was ridiculous that I had to use his driver's license for an ID instead of his state trooper license. When we explained that the various campaigns had settled on certain rules the guy called me and the helpful fellow doing the explaining some unspeakable names and produced his driver's license. The second time I got cussed out it was by a fellow who could not fathom the fact that we wanted him to put ink on his finger. He was convinced that we were fingerprinting people because we had some napkins there in case anyone wanted to blot their finger so the ink would not get all over their clothes. This guy had some very choice words and would not listen to my nearly shouted explanation despite the fact that I explained three times. He kept coming back to cuss me out again! You would think he would have noticed the complete lack of fingerprinting equipment other than pink ink on an ink-pad . . . Iow-idiots, gotta love 'em.

So, other than that people were nice and listened. I must say, however, being around so many Iowans at once was daunting. They're great people most of the time. But they do not make logical connections. For example, take the above paragraph. Furthermore, when you tell them which way to go they sometimes go in the opposite direction. We had several people walk out the wrong door carrying their ballots with them. The other thing that got me was our hardworking volunteers. Good people, but they had a tendency to forget simple facts. Like, say, the fact that no one without an Iowa photo ID (driver's license, student id or military id) was allowed to vote. I had the people at the table next to mine send a woman over so I could put her info in when all she had was a piece of paper with her name and address on it. Now I do not disbelieve her and I feel bad that she did not get to vote. But we had to stick to the campaign rules and I hate it when people put me on the spot by saying I can help someone when I cannot.

Sometimes I think there is not enough space in Iowa for me and all these Iowans. Don't get me wrong, I have learned a lot by living in this great state: Number 1) people will always go that extra mile for you if you need help. Number 2) if an Iowan is looking for a fight there is no way to sway that Iowan's opinion. And Number 3) Iow-idiots are out there, everywhere. I can take a few at a time and laugh along my merry way. But 33,000? That I simply cannot take with a smile on my face.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Great Failing Of Homeschooling

I am walking out on a limb to talk about this one and I know it. It is a limb upon which I will make my stand. Basically, I know a lot of my family and friends read my blog. I ask that you do not take what I am about to say to be anything more than constructive criticism.

In my mind there is one true failing in the area of homeschooling. I was homeschooled all through grade school and highschool. That is how I can identify this failing. I would add that it was less of a failing in my home than it was in those of some of my friends I have talked to. I would also add that it could be considered a general failing of our time when it comes to the parents of my own generation.

This failing concerns a simple enough part of human existence, one that we all must come to terms with eventually. That is sex. The way I understand it many homeschool parents keep their children out of schools so they will not receive the negative messages and poor education that is widespread today. When it comes to sex education I believe the most negative message is the notion that parents are not doing a good enough job telling kids about this so the schools have to step in and do it for them. Unfortunately, this negative message is true in many cases. I have had many friends -- schooled and homeschooled -- whose parents never told them a single thing about sex. Unless of course the kid was female then the parents told them one thing. The parents at some time or other suspected that the child was engaging in intercourse, thus projecting a feeling of insecurity and untrustworthiness upon that child and making the child desire to be rebellious. Come on parents, I think you can all do better than this.

I am lucky in that my parents at least explained the mechanics to me. I am unlucky in that they were not open about it once "the talk" was said and done. If I had questions I had to resort to the dictionary, the biology book or a friend with a dirty mind. But at least I had some direction in the beginning. Granted that direction did not teach me to defend myself against temptation, nor did it teach me to watch for predators. In those areas I have merely been lucky or perhaps God gave me a wisdom beyond my years. The short truth is that I think today's parents -- especially homeschooling parents -- are all too apt to view sexual intercourse in a completely negative light. They respond to this belief by allowing their children to learn sex education from negative institutions and from less innocent kids who are insecure enough to talk about their sexual experiences and non-experiences. The fact is, not telling kids about sex or giving them no positive information to replace or balance all the weird stuff they hear only makes kids angry, rebellious and willing to explore that which they do not understand. It gives them no feelings of reverence whatsoever for what is a very beautiful gift of God.

It is a sad position to be in really. Knowing and hearing all your life that sex is a horrible thing that you are "going to do anyway." Or hearing nothing until you are subjected to immature people talking about it by giving way too much information for your sensitive little ears. All kids want is direction, explanation and openness. But all they get is the negative. Thus, the only way to figure anything out is to do exactly what parents keep telling you not to do. No, I have no confessions to make. I simply want to say that the negative idea of sex is not helping our teens and young adults.

It does not make any sense to me why homeschooling parents allow these negative impressions to affect their children. This comes after the parents specifically decided to teach the children at home so they would avoid the problems in our destructive education system. A little openness and positivity about sex could go a long way to making a kid feel more secure as he or she grows up. Why does sex have to be a big, dirty secret when many of us know otherwise? Many of us know that it is a beautiful thing that only makes our marriages more wonderful. People always say that "sex is not everything." And I agree, but when you refuse to allow anything but the pessimistic views of sex into an adolescent's mind then you are telling them that sex is everything. Everything they are not allowed to understand and thereby the forbidden fruit that they will wonder about all the time. Then you teach them to feel guilty about sex and when they finally get to the age where they are out from under parental constraints you wonder why pregnancy occurred too soon. Wonder no more. Take a stand on the limb which I have walked out on and, like the anti-drug commercials always say, talk to your kids.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Only A Dream?

I have now heard the argument from many people that "Ron Paul cannot win." While I disagree, I would also like to direct said people to this article which contains a letter about why a Ron Paul candidacy will help America even if he does not win. Ron Paul opens a dialog which we have not seen in American politics for many, many years. He inspires people who are not interested in politics to join the process. Believe me, I've met them. Many of his supporters are people who have never been involved in politics before. I have met these people in real life, not on the internet. Ron Paul supporters are real people and we want Americans to start discussing the important things about the role of government in our lives, in foreign policy and in a host of other subjects.

Edit: And for those of you who cannot get my local news station, here is the coverage of our rally of which I am a part. The picture of me is not all that clear, but it's in there.

Monday, August 06, 2007


I have officially started helping with the 2008 election. I do not like any of the "major" candidates. The candidate I chose is one who gets excluded from debates, whose supporters are many and are sometimes called names, but who probably has a bigger grassroots wildfire going than most of the other candidates put together. That would be Ron Paul. Why do I like this guy? Simple, freedom. He speaks for the cause of liberty and getting government out of our lives. All the other candidates want to put more government into our lives. Ron Paul supports the Constitution and he is not interested in changing it. He also agrees with me on American interventionism. It is wrong.

So I joined the Ron Paul Revolution. This past weekend was a busy time for me. On Friday I painted Revolution signs. On Saturday I helped put literature together. On Sunday I got up really early in the morning so that I could be outside the area where the Republican debate in Iowa was held by 5am. Once there I stood in the pouring rain with a Ron Paul sign for 3 hours. The rain stopped maybe 45 minutes before I was done. In the meantime it had come down in buckets and the driving wind was so hard that my face hurt as the raindrops hit me. I was not alone in my endeavor. About 100 other Ron Paul supporters showed up to wave signs and chant. In contrast, the only other candidate with supporters -- 12 or so -- was Romney and they left at least a half hour before I did. When I left Ron Paul people were still there. We had people who came all the way from Texas just to help out with all the things going on in Iowa this week.

For my 15 minutes of fame, I was on the local news. There was a single clip of me holding a sign. That was in between some interviews and quotes by other Ron Paul supporters. Only one network covered our rally, but they gave us excellent coverage at least.

The whole experience was exhilarating. It feels good to care about politics again. I want to make our country a better place. I feel like the system would not be broken if we could vote Ron Paul through the primaries. Because then we would be saying that we do not like the way our government is doing things; that we the people are going to take back our government and send the reminder that we are supposed to be the ones in charge here. Go ahead, Google Ron Paul, you might like what you see.

Edit: I am leaving my link to the Mike Pence '08 site because it is still a beautiful dream and I still wish it could be. I do not know how I would vote if given a choice between these two men. Fortunately, it looks like I will not face that decision in 2008.