Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Crazy. Week.

Yeah. Work late Monday. Work late Tuesday. Donate plasma late Wednesday. Sleep a lot Thursday and feel like it's Sunday all day because of sleep and football. Donate plasma Friday morning, drive to Mom's in afternoon. Go...*trembles*...SHOPPING Saturday. Okay, not like Christmas shopping, and not in any big shopping center, so it wasn't so bad, but it was still shopping. Heh.

Anyway, then I watched most of the MU/KU game at Mom's last night and drove back home, arriving in the wee small hours because I had to stop at Wally World and don't want to be anywhere near a Wally World during the daylight hours this close to Christmas.

Today? I'm just chillaxin. Watching some football. Noshing some snacks. Haven't even eaten a meal yet -- just some chips and dip, and not even much of that. I think I'm too tired to eat. I mean, this is the first time all week I've spent more than fifteen minutes on-line. Weirdness.

Hopefully, this week at work won't be too taxing. I had to deal with a trouble-maker all week last week and most of the week before, so I was seriously ready for four days away. Sometimes, I just want to slip into hermit-mode and not deal with other people for a while. I could easily just slink away to the boonies during those times, turn off both my phone and my internet, and just read a book -- thanks for Lick of Frost, Sis; it was great! -- or write a ton. I need those times to recharge and get back into the flow of people's idiosyncracies again.

Sometimes, people just suck.

Luckily enough, my beloved Chiefs are ahead of the loathed and despised Raiders at the moment, but even as I type, that might change. We may well be the best defense in the Red Zone in the NFL, but that don't mean the opposing team never scores. Ack!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, though. Happy football, everyone!

...

Didn't even get the post button hit before the friggin Faders scored. *grumblegrumble* Maybe I shoulda knocked on wood?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Well, my beloved Chiefs lost a heartbreaker that it looked like they might win. Oh, did I forget to mention that it was against perhaps the second-best team in the NFL? Yeah. They played the Colts today and almost won.

Of course, any player will tell you that almost winning is still losing. My poor boys.

But it was a tough, defensive game. Both teams struggled mightily for any advantage. And I gotta say that turnovers won the game for Indianapolis. We had momentum -- and in a game that close, momentum is really all you need to light a fire under your ass -- until that fatal turnover. When Indy scored points off of a turnover, I pretty much just sat down to watch how close it ended up. I love my boys, but in an away stadium against a team that can just suddenly turn it on, they just can't overcome a momentum shift like that.

Love 'em, but I also know 'em.

But they looked pretty good. Not great, but Brody Croyle might yet win me over. He hasn't quite -- still looked like a rookie in too many plays -- but he seems to have pretty good poise and a great arm, and the offense seems to have confidence in him. So, he might be the spark we need.

Dunno if we're still in the play-offs race with the schedule we have yet to go, but if we can make Peyton Manning sweat and doubt, we can probably beat anyone else. That's why we're cool even when we aren't necessarily good.

In other news, I baked today. Yes, again. Yes, I do it alot this time of year -- not because I particularly like Christmas but because I just like to bake when it cools off. It's hard to bake in the summer because it takes so much to cool back off when it's hot outside. But when it's cool, I can turn down the thermostat and turn up the oven and put in the ol' headphones.

Time flies, I tell you.

So, since I work late tomorrow night and our office's Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, roast beef, and pulled pork provided by the company) is Tuesday, I did my promised baking today. On my request list were some pretty crazy things, but I settled on a carrot cake, which I'd never tried before, and oatmeal raisin cookies.

Now, I canNOT stand cooked raisins. Raw, I'll eat 'em by the handful, but cooked? Ugh. They remind me of dog ticks. Not that I've ever eaten a dog tick, but my imagination is a powerful and fearsome thing. Remind me to tell you about green peppers some time.

So, instead of oatmeal raisin cookies, I made oatmeal cranberry cookies. Yeah. I love that hint of a tang, so I was all sorts of excited. I think they turned out pretty well, but I haven't tasted one of these yet. They look pretty, though.

As for the carrot cake, I borrowed one of my mom's recipes (actually, I did for the oatmeal cookies, too) and just threw it together as per the recipe. It smelled great while it baked, so it couldn't be too far wrong. And then...I frosted.

*sigh*

I should admit that, while I don't consider myself an artist, I do like to create artsy stuff. So, I mixed up a little orange and green frosting, thickened it a bit, and frosted on a little carrot with leafy things popping out the back. Heh. Yeah, it's cheesy to put a carrot on a carrot cake, but it looks pretty cute. It turned out better than it had any right to, and I even took a picture of it with my phone.

Sadly, I can't for the life of me get my phone to connect so I can upload it. Insert wailing and gnashing of teeth here.

But, in all, I'm happy with my baking today. Two things I've never made before, and nothing blew up. Not that I'd be distraught at the idea of an explosion of some sort, but you know.

And for Thanksgiving Day itself, I got an invite to an invite-only dinner at my favorite bar -- where I go to watch Monday Night Football -- so I'll be getting up earlier than I'd hoped Thursday morning to bake an apple cobbler and make some deviled eggs. Yum. I love deviled eggs.

...

Oh, yeah. And how about that Vinnie Testaverde?? Sure, Green Bay beat the crap out of the Panthers and Vinnie threw two interceptions, but he also threw two touchdown passes and managed to avoid breaking a hip or falling and not getting up. I consider that a win.

God, how do these guys keep themselves healthy enough to play into their 40s when they're in the equivalent of a three-hour car wreck every week? Many, many kudos to both veterans of the gridiron.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Headed for the hometown this weekend for some early turkey. Well, not exactly to the hometown -- to Mom's to be more precise, and she no longer lives in the hometown -- but don't they say that "home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in"?

Heh.

Anyway, work has just about run me dry this week, and I'm very happy to get the hell outta Dodge and get somewhere where no one here has the phone number. Ugh. And I reeeeeeeeally can't wait until next week and that four-day weekend thing. Yeah, I have enough time saved up to take a four-day weekend any time I want, but you just never know when you might slip blissfully into a coma or something, so I wanna save up my time for that.

Yeah. Tough week.

So have great weekends, everyone, and Go Chiefs!

...

Pretty please?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Good grief, what a weird day for football! I mean, between the Chiefs losing to the Broncos at home -- unheard of! -- and the friggin Bolts beating the previously indomitable Colts -- indomitable until last week, anyway -- I don't know what to think. Geez.

I do have two very important things to say:

1. It was beautiful to see Priest Holmes back in action. And he did exceedingly well for someone who hadn't played in years. I mean, really, after that last injury, did anyone ever expect him to pick up a ball again? God bless the Priest.

2. I'm not as disappointed in Brody Croyle as I expected to be after his preseason chutzpah. My main complaint then was that he wanted too badly to be Brett Favre, and he wanted it too instantly. Today, though, he showed remarkable restraint, and he throws a nice, tight spiral of a bullet. If he keeps his head on straight, he might actually do well.

What bothers me most about today is how long it took Herm Edwards to take poor Huard out of the game. Anyone who reads me regularly knows that I think of Huard as an admirable second string quarterback. I never thought he should have the top job. He's a great fill-in, but he's just not wired to be the front man.

Nothing bad in that. Just know your limitations.

Plus, the poor guy has been just beaten up this year. Four or five separate, lingering injuries -- one to his plant calf, which messes up his throw -- and the offensive line isn't doing the same job of protecting as they did for Trent Green. Admittedly, there are plenty of new players on that line, but they aren't clicking well enough to provide Huard enough time to do anything but throw an interception.

And after two consecutive turn-overs leading to Denver touchdowns...Edwards should've taken him out. Instead, he left him in for one more offensive that left Huard unable to even turn his head comfortably.

Of course, that coulda been a bit of play-acting to get out after yet another pitiful attempt at offense. I wouldn't blame the guy! Would you? I'd sure as hell want out of that kind of situation.

Anyway, I hope Huard gets to sit out of just enough games for Croyle to get comfortable with the offense and for them to rely on him. If they start clicking, I think we'll see something beautiful. And Croyle is younger than Green, so if he steps up to the level they're hoping for him, he could bring that same kind of stability to the offense and last much longer.

*crosses fingers*

But I'm not betting all of that on a single game. Especially not one we lost and in which we turned the ball over so stinkin' many times. But he has a good arm, and if he tones down that drill-it-in-whether-it-fits-or-not attitude, he might just be what we need.

...

Oh, and as expected, no one gets Lions for Lambs. Everyone thinks it's liberal-leaning -- admittedly, I did expect it to be such when I watched it -- but I think that's only because that's what they want to see. Open minds, people. We are that kid the professor is trying to reach, and the vast majority of us seem to be missing the point.

But that's to be expected. I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Especially when the senator smiled that car-salesman smile and said he could categorically say he was not running for president.

*snerk*

Uh-huh. Especially after what the kid said earlier in the flick. Heheh.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate talking politics almost as much as I love it. I love it because it's intellectually challenging and because I learn something new from every person I speak to. But I hate it because everyone gets personally and emotionally involved, or maybe invested, in their argument -- I claim this hill for Spain, and by God and Sonny Jesus, I will defend it to death! -- that they lose all logic. Every reasonable point degenerates into, "Liar-liar-pants-on-fire!"

However, I just had the rare and, I think, beautiful opportunity -- thank you, Richard -- to prescreen a movie that's not yet out to the general public. The movie is called Lions for Lambs, a title which is apparently derived from German poetry about the British army during World War II. See, the Germans admired the British grunts -- their nobility, dedication, and loyalty to their cause -- even as they laughed at the British leaders and their strategies. One of the movie characters quotes a line something like this: "Never have I seen such lions fighting for such lambs". Not quite a paraphrase, but I wouldn't bank on the exact quote.

At any rate, this movie will piss a lot of people off. Leftists will bemoan that it's another piece of rightie propaganda to further endanger our boys Over There by stirring up out-dated patriot majumba to continue fighting an unwinnable war. Righties will shake their heads and mutter about more leftist defeatism, more liberal exposure of weak-kneed diplomacy and do-gooder tree-hugging.

They're both right, but they're also both wrong.

For the first time in a long time, we folks in the middle have something to both admire and despise in the same movie -- the closest thing to truth we're gonna get in a country where the 4 main national TV networks are as polarized on politics as a car battery. In fact, despite the liberals crying that the media is too conservative, if you spit out the alphabet of national networks, only the first three letters will give you a solidly conservative stripe. Not saying it's more right -- heh, no pun intended because it is awful rightie. In fact, it's just as wrong as the 3 liberal stations. It's just in the minority.

Somewhere between the two -- waaaaaaaaay back in the middle -- is the truth. We, the People, will never get it from them. And we won't get it from this movie.

However, we will get both points of view laid side-by-side for study. At least, that's how I saw it.

See, I'm a centrist. Logic, logic, logic. It's cold, and it's not always comfortable, but by God, it would get results. I admit that, jaded as I am by the liberal media, I went into this movie assuming I'd be fed the current liberal line that war is bad; if we love our boys, we'll bring them home immediately; and that the only way out of this war is defeat. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that.

But I also don't believe we're on the right track to winning right now. We're making progress, and even the media can't keep that quiet now, but it's slow and painstaking. I'm fine with that. Slow progress is usually permanent progress, after all. I don't like how many of our friends and family members are dying to reach that progress, but there's that omelets-to-eggs ratio that is so inconvenient to think about.

Yes, I have loved ones over there. No, I've not yet lost anyone close, thank God. And yes, when I say "thank God", I mean it as a small prayer, not just something to say.

Now, on to the movie, now that I've laid the groundwork.

I expected defeatism. I got a surprise. I think I got a pleasant one. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the movie, but I didn't find myself rolling my eyes. Didn't find myself shifting in my seat and wondering how the liberal media would crow in triumph at this part or the conservative media would point to this line or that one with smug satisfaction.

This movie combines ex-protestors with Generation Why-ers. You know, the one after Generation X. The one that, instead of "ask not what your country can do for you" asks "why bother?" It combines idealists with realists. It combines a liberal journalist with a conservative and extremely gung-ho (and well-spoken and slick as a used car salesman with a year-old Aston Martin on the lot) senator. And it combines patriotism with with loyalty -- two things that used to be synonymous and are now so many shades of grey that only the color blind know for sure.

The ex-protestor regrets that his two most promising students chose to go to war even as he applauds their reasons for doing so. Gee, could that be logic at work? He tries desperately to reach a new student -- the Generation Why-er -- who has that same kind of potential, but would throw it away so he never has to be put on the spot again, never has to make a stand and possibly be embarrassed. Never has to make a decision on his own because then he'd have no one to blame when it went bad.

The idealists go to war knowing full well that they might not come back, but armed with the knowledge that if they do, they'll have that much more leverage to make their ideals a reality when they return. The realists try to nay-say them, try to humiliate them to keep them down, try to make them feel stupid about themselves. And when all that fails, they try to call them hypocrites.

Which is when the idealists produce their "report for duty" papers to show that they, if no one else, are willing to put their money where their mouth is. They will live their ideals, even if it means dying for them.

And the liberal reporter gets a solid, uninterrupted hour with the conservative senator who claims to have an actual, real solution for winning the war and wants to give her the "scoop" because she did him a solid back when he was first running. She doubts and questions and heaps defeat on his every word, while he remains solid on his beliefs -- note that I do not say facts or statistics -- and offers actual, real answers to her doubt-laden questions.

And at one point, he asks The Question: "Do you want to win this war?"

See, that's the question on everyone's mind. It's a simple yes or no question. To qualify or quantify it is to lose. What it comes down to right now in this country, what defines your "politics" right now, is whether you answer yes or no...or if you waffle. "Well, that's a complicated question." No, it isn't. "I need more facts." No, you don't.

Do you want to win? Or are you so committed to defeat that you'd rather lose than try?

And see, I think that's where the heart of this movie lies. Lay. Whatever. It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether you're proud of how you did what you end up with. Did you take a stand? Did you try to do what was right? Did you make your own decision?

One character asks, "But what happens if it doesn't work?"

I say, that's a defeatist question. That question leads to accepting the status quo. That question is a stall tactic to forestall change, for better or worse. If you're so afraid of losing that you never try to win, you'll never learn what it's like to be brave, be true, to stand (thanks again to Stephen King for the line). If you're so afraid of losing, what is it worth to win? Why not just roll over and expose your vulnerable belly to hasten the kill and make it painless?

Why try in the first place if you're not willing to risk it all for success?

Lions for Lambs asks this very question on several different levels. Personal. Professional. National. International. It asks it of a student getting ready to make the choices that will effect the rest of his life, because he is in the first steps of his adult life. It asks it of a reporter who must decide if her personal politics compare to how the nation views a war she never truly agreed with. It asks it of a senator who is, of course, looking to the White House but truly wants to end a war against an evil he cannot abide and refuses to tolerate any longer. And it asks it of two idealists in a foreign country where blood is the currency and everyone wants to know how rich you are before you die.

So yeah. I liked this movie. It made me think. It made me consider. And in surprisingly many places, it made me laugh. Surprising because it's such a serious movie to have such honest humor in so many unexpected places.

I don't care if it wins awards. I don't care what professional reviewers think of it. I don't even care what the makers or actors thought while making it, their personal politics, their voices for or against the war.

I care what I think, and while I may not always make my voice heard, I do want to say my piece. I mean, why not? This is America. Isn't that what we're fighting for?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dear Charlie:

Well, that was good fun. Went down to Dad's place in the boonies and rode horses and had a weenie roast with my beloved sister and the nieces and That Man. Heh.

Now, keep in mind that I hadn't enjoyed a weenie roast since I was a kid, and I hadn't been on a horse since 1995. But it was all sorts of good fun. Devilled eggs. Slightly charred hotdogs. Relish. Chips. Marshmallows. S'mores.

Plus, the two youngest monsters...er...nieces...hadn't done a bonfire before and spent quite a while tossing in more sticks and leaves and styrofoam plates and rocks and...well, you name it, they tossed it. That was pretty fun to watch.

But now I'm all wanting to ride some more. I guess it's worse than a bike, because not only do you remember how, but you want to do it all the time. Sheesh.

Good fun.

Unfortunately, every time I head for the country, I remember why I want so badly to be financially independent so I can move back. *sigh* It's quiet. Peaceful. Green and gold and red and brown and orange. Hills and valleys, meadows and forests. Hell, just the drive was a balm.

I like where I live. It's a small city, nothing like even Kansas City up north or Saint Louis to the west. But it is a city, and it has all the distasteful things I associate with cities -- too much traffic, too much noise, too many people, and too much hassle.

I was raised on a farm, and I miss it. Yeah, it was hard work, but that was the price of living on 100 acres. Of course, we were dirt poor most of the time and dad had to drive almost three hours one way every day to work to support us, but we could go outside and run around all day without irritating another single soul. We could climb trees without worrying if the "owner" would be mad. We could blow off firecrackers any time of the year, so long as they didn't scare the cows. We could have a bonfire any old time we had the brush to burn without having to get a burn permit and stand over the tiny blaze with a water hose, just in case. We could ride horses for hours without seeing the same tree twice. We could camp or not, wade in the stream or the pond or not, run around screaming our heads off without worrying about the police being called. Or not.

I like my small city, yes, because I've made it and my friends my home. But I love my country. And I want to move back to it.

*sigh*

One of these days. I keep telling myself.