Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Big Slip Up.

I just realized I forgot to address a topic that is so obvious, so gabbed about, and beloved by bloggers:
The Oscars.

The Oscars are, admittedly, a bit ridiculous. A bunch of big stars (as well as small stars and general no-names) getting glammed up to mingle with one another and receive politically-determined awards and act like they are making new history like it has never been made before!
And yet, we watch...
This thing has been going on since 1929 and as long as people keep going to the movies, they'll keep making them, and therefore, the Oscars will exist. So stop complaining. If you don't like it, don't watch.
Yes, these celebrities spend enough on one outfit for one night to feed a small country, but teachers should be paid more than athletes, and all that other righteous bullshit. Tough titty. The world isn't fair.

But if you can overlook the bullshit and like to gossip about what the women are wearing and who was slandered by whom and why that movie should have won, like me, then good. Here we go.

I was excited for the Oscars this year because there wasn't one designated amazing movie that was going to sweep the awards (although Hugo kind of became that). I haven't seen most of these movies either, which is a first for me. We just don't have the time like we used to when we were college students (sigh) and we tend to wait until they come out on video so we can chill at home for a lot less $$ (have you seen current movie tickets prices?! WTF????) and have our own popcorn (or kettle corn) or dinner or maybe even a glass of wine. And then we can yell at the movie if need be and not have someone kick the back of our chair.

The Absolute Best Things About the Oscars This Year:
--Meryl Streep won. Holy shit. That like never happens. She has won twice before and been nominated 17 times! Did anyone else notice that when she won for Sophie's Choice she wore a gold dress, and on Sunday night, she also wore a gold dress?? That is luck embodied people.
Her speech was fabulous and just what an Oscar speech should be--not to long, not too short, not listing a bunch of no-names we don't know, not too proud or humble, sweet and humorous and touching
(Can you tell that I have a Girl Crush on Meryl yet?).
#2: Christopher Plummer won. I love this man. He will always be Captain Von Trapp to me and his voice is like a lullaby. I enjoyed his speech as well. And I hope he doesn't die very soon, he still has some great acting in him.

The Most Ridiculous Crap:
#1, #2, and #3: Angelina Jolie's right leg and the idiotic and obvious appearances it made throughout the night. The way she kept struggling to thrust it out from the slit in her dress you'd think her other leg was wooden and she wanted to show off the good one. Or maybe she is trying to distract for her skeletal (literally, these are the kinds of limbs you would find in a grave) body.
Angelina Jolie in Atelier Versace I honestly felt embarrassed for Brad.
Remember when she was curvy yet athletic, like in Tomb Raider? Now that was sexy and healthy. This is frightening, especially because girls (and women) see this and are envious and kill themselves trying to get her body...a body that is probably on the verge of collapse.
Cameron Diaz in GucciOkay ya'll. Cameron Diaz looked damn hot. She should always have that hair, it is flattering and makes her look young and fresh. Love the dress as well.
But my favorite dress of the night was....
Penelope Cruz in Armani Prive & Chopard AMAZING.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Politics, blahblahblah, and SANTORUM INSULTING JFK?!

Predicting a hell of a close finish in Michigan for Santorum and Romney...who will win ??


Dude, don't even go there. Ranger Rick (a Catholic himself) recently criticized Kennedy's well-known 1960 speech regarding religion (the whole "I am a Catholic, I am not an agent of the Pope, deal with it" talk), saying it made him want to throw up because of the division between church and state Kennedy advocated.
This is horrifying. I never thought I'd find myself palling up with Newt Gingrich (also, interestingly, a Catholic), but I am relieved that he stood up for Jack's eloquent and necessary speech, calling it "remarkable" and then giving an explanation of the significance of the speech (because we all know Santorum needs the Cliffnotes version).

As Santorum said,
“The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country."   
Hm.... and people are concerned about the influence of a Mormon running the country?
The transcript of Jack's speech, the subject of this fresh debate, can be found here. Read it, make up your own mind. Personally I love it, I actually included a few paragraphs on it in my history thesis and how it completely changed his campaign and helped voters who were reluctant to vote in a Catholic better understand him, and change their perceptions of him. Either way it was a historic speech and I think Santorum is criticizing it as a vehicle for uber-conservatives to agree with him ("he is so right! I forgot what a liberal pig Kennedy was! Wanting to keep the church and state separate. What hogwash! Let's go out and vote for Rick right now! Fellow knows what he's talking about...Damn Democrats...").

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Romney is really sinking his claws into Santorum. Today he called Santorum an "economic lightweight" that is lacking in skills. I agree, though what skills he is referring to I would like to know.
Romney is also disgusted with Santorum's new technique to garner votes--a robotic calling system to get him more voters (he just started using this yesterday and specifically for Michigan). In these calls Santorum blasts Romney for opposing the 2008 auto-bailout.
Ironically enough, Santorum himself also opposed the auto-bailout. 
But it seems he neglected to mention that in his recorded friendly-neighbor-vote-for-me message.

Oh politics.....

Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?

-Robert Orben

History-Themed Memes

Why, you may ask? Because history is the bomb and we could all use more of it in our daily lives.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Greatness

Eli's Breakfasts.
I cannot emphasize how incredible these are. I would rather stay in for breakfast any day if he is cooking than go out. It is that good. His super special delicious breakfast is stuffed biscuits and gravy--egg and bacon inside--all on a bed of breakfast potatoes. Fattening, yes. But we're just not the kind of people to starve ourselves through life. You only live once and you may as well enjoy it instead of worrying about those extra couple hundred (or maybe thousand) calories on the weekend. Enjoy your food!

Blueberry Tea.
A recent discovery of mine that can be found at the local supermarket. So sweet and lovely, it really amps up what would be a regular cup of green tea.

The Jamaican jerk chicken I figured out how to make in the crock pot. Tender, sweet and spicy chicken that falls apart in your mouth. Hells yeah.

The other night I was half asleep and Eli shouted out "I love this bed like Dumbledore loves Grindelwald!"
We have an Intellibed, if you're wondering, and it really is that good. And my husband really does say things like that (Thank God).

And a few more that I picked up this week that I'm loving----

"If you don't know history you don't know anything.
You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree."

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."

"See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little."

Try clearing some space on a table and doing one in your free time. You can listen to music while you do it, have a conversation, watch a show. I think people under-rate puzzles but they are good for your brain and there is nothing quite like the satisfying snap of getting a little piece into place and moving on to the next.

Raymond Chandler books. This guy could write sentence after sentence like they were made to stand alone. His mystery novels are beyond hard-boiled, cynical, hysterical. He wrote stuff like this--
"He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."
"I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year on principle, so he won't let himself get snotty about it."
Love this guy and snuggling down into bed or a good couch with one of his books and a warm drink of something is a good winter feeling.

Under the Tuscan Sun. Enough said.

My job. It feels so good, so rewarding to be working my ass off from 8 to 5. I'm doing something I never expected to be doing in a million years and I find that to be perfectly healthy, refreshing, and educational.    It is a hectic, demanding job and although it wears me out, it is a good kind of tired.

Sometimes I just adore Sundays.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

History Notes: I AM NOT A CROOK!

This isn't to say he didn't get what he deserved, this is just an extended brainwave.
I think about Nixon sometimes and how things could have been different, and who he really, really was, considering we'll never really, really know. And so:

Richard Millhouse Nixon.
What a guy. What a bifurcation he creates.
He was such an enigma I don't think even his wife fully understood him!
Just his name brings up images of his ski-jump nose, secretive and dark eyes, and dual peace signs wagging from his fat fingers.

But this guy is as complex as they come. And I think we forget to relate to him, sympathize with him.

Most historical figures (especially the American ones we look up to) are identified mainly by their admirable traits. Take Helen Keller for example. She was a motivated, inspirational handicap that did marvelous things with her life....and she happened to be a vocal (ha. Ok I'm sorry that was inappropriate) radical socialist. She was a pacifist, suffragist, and pro-birth control for women (all of these were pretty rare in her time). But people ignore the latter! Even Obama in his children's book Of Thee I Sing included Keller as an inspirational American and neglected to mention any of her more questionable interests. Typical.
I digress...  Most figures are defined by their "nice" traits, or a balance of their "good" and "bad" (remember these are subjective). An example of the second is Jack Kennedy. People that don't like him admit he did a few good things, and then mention his extramarital affairs, family wealth, et cetera, and those that tend to favor him balance the negative gossip with things like "but he created the Peace Corps! Look how the Cuban Missile Crisis ended! He wanted to pull out of Vietnam!!"

But, going back to Nixon, here is a guy that is identified by his negative traits, his faults. Now that is a terrible way to be remembered, especially as an American president.

And he was such a cute baby!
This guy was raised as a hard-working Quaker, and he never really lost that ethic.
Just look at the Alger Hiss case--everyone was sick of it and wanted to give up, and Nixon was the one that kept busting ass until there was a breakthrough (who can claim in their political career that they discovered crucial documents inside of a hollowed out pumpkin for Pete's sake?!
Yes, he was ruthless: in his early campaigns to get into Congress, and later the Senate, both times he accused his opponent of being a communist (his 2nd opponent, Helen Douglas, is actually responsible to nicknaming him "Tricky Dick"), playing on current American fears rather than playing fair and addressing the real issues. And it worked! Sly dog.
But it didn't work against Kennedy and I don't think he ever got over being defeated by someone younger than him, someone he viewed as an overprivileged brat without any solid political experience, and it was this anxiety that contributed to Watergate.  The guy was actually quite nervous and afraid of being made a fool of. He just wanted to be loved by the people, which is quite sad if you look at where he ended up.  Poor Dick (he hated being called that by the way).

He was the first (via his Checkers speech) to declare to the public his personal finances, and this was revolutionary and even a little shocking at the time. The fact that he did it on TV (he loved this new medium of communication) made it even more so. And using the family dog as a vehicle for humor and public sympathy? Genius, and oh so FDR.

We'll just bomb on the border. Oh, and over here, and just in this general area...
I believe that he would have stayed out of politics if it weren't for the assassination of JFK, someone who intimidated Nixon, someone he thought he couldn't beat. It's pretty simple to rise above a corpse, so he made his valiant return in '68, after LBJ bowed out. Then Bobby got killed, making the whole thing a lot easier for him. Everyone trusted that he really did have a "secret plan" to get us out of Nam, even though he never revealed any specifics. But then...surprise! He bombs Cambodia! And everything changes.

He was doing pretty well--considering he started his political career as a vehement anti-Communist, he built bridges in China and Russia as president. But who wants to hear about that?! Lets talk about what an idiot loser he was that "Vietnamized" the war and made it a hell of a lot worse. Oh, and that whole Watergate fiasco.
Lets forget the incredible story about him taking a walk at 4 in the morning to the Lincoln Memorial just days after the Kent State shootings, where he came across a bunch of protesters that, essentially, hated his guts and would have shanked him if they didn't believe in peace and love and stuff. He didn't wave them off, call his bodyguards, run away. He talked to them. Stutteringly and haltingly, no doubt. But the protesters were grateful and understood that he was trying to make a connection with them. Presidents don't typically do this shit, at least not with a few cameras around to document how benevolent they are. Hmmm.....
I have also neglected to mention his courtship with Pat; he told her the first time he met her that he was going to marry her. And she, considering him a freak with a temporary crush, gave him the brush off. But for 2 years he drove her to her dates with other dudes, and hung out with her, and never gave up. 2 years!!! Damn! What does that mean? Is it a stalker thing? Or downright romantic? It means something, and speaks to his unwillingness to give up, but still throws me off a bit. I told you he was a mysterious one.

And paranoid. He spied on everyone and, ironically (and tragically for him), maintained a taping system
I think it was this mania that made him rabidly afraid of losing, to the point of keeping tabs on enemies that resulted in the creation of the White House Plumbers, and eventually Watergate.

"I Can see clearly now...that I was wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate..."

No shit Nixon.
Also, in retrospect, you should have hired guys that know how to tape a lock on a door properly

So they got busted and the trail leading up to Nixon was illuminated by the diligent investigation of 2 badass Washington Post reporters (read or watch All the President's Men).
Nixon was desperate for a scapegoat, acting in public like an enforcer that supported progress in "finding the truth" and condemning any attempts at cover-ups.
But then, the tapes... Nixon didn't want to turn them over, which made everyone suspicious, naturally. He offered summaries of what was said on the tapes, but not the actual tapes.
He invoked Executive Privilege. He ranted and wailed and scrambled for a solution, a desperate man.
 Nixon's tapes were subpoenaed in 1974. But there were 18 1/2 minutes missing from the tapes, most likely a conversation between Nixon and Haldeman directly regarding Watergate which was conveniently recorded over. Modern attempts to recover the recording hasn't worked (the National Archives last tried in 2003).

He even went to the Supreme Court.  But to no avail. He was recommended for impeachment. That was it for him, and he walked away. He resigned, stepping into his helicopter flopping around those peace signs and giving an almost-believable boyish grin.
And then off he went, to hide away in California, staying in basic seclusion even after the new President, Gerald Ford, publicly pardoned him. He was ashamed.
He did the television interviews with David Frost (you simply must watch Frost/Nixon) in 1977 to uplift his public support and justify his actions, but it made him look more guilty than anything.
And then he died, a farsighted, idiosyncratic man, with a legacy that has unfortunately come to be summed up in one word: Watergate.
I know we're all going to continue to make fun of him, but after you do, show a little sympathy. Remember the good. Remember his personal struggles. Give him an ounce of respect. And also use your brain and keep in mind that it is truly ignorant and unhealthy to distinguish our previous leaders in just a word or two (i.e., Bush and "nuke-ular," Clinton and "Lewinsky").  We elected these people and I know none of us would want this job. We all have secrets, and presidents have got even more of em, plus a daily load of stress that could kill a damn horse. Respect homies, respect.

And so I conclude this rant (which is terribly longer than I ever expected) by saying, in the style of our dearly departed Dumbledore:

If the time should come when you have to make a choice between

 what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a man

 who was hopeful, ambitious, and conflicted, because he strayed

across the path of power. Remember Richard Nixon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The devil can cite scripture for his purpose

You said it Shakespeare!!
I was having an interesting chat with a friend last night about Biblical quotes and the different ways in which they are used. If there is anything out there that is completely open for interpretation (and personal interpretation that gives rise to violent conflict), it is our dear old friend The Bible.
Remember it took approximately over 1600 years for the writings that would be compiled into the Bible to originate, be recorded, and selected as scripture. Numbers on how many authors there were vary, but historians generally agree that there were about 40.
Although the majority of the pieces in the Bible were selected in an effort for coherency, there is clearly some disparity throughout (as can be expected for such a large, patchwork text). And don't forget the mistranslations!! There is quite a bit of scholarly work done on these, very interesting.
        (This guy Chris Harrison builds these cool charts based on the frequency of words in the Bible. Check him out--- )

And so we have the Bible, an endlessly fascinating codex with shifting tones and beautiful quotes that mean something different to everyone who reads them. This ability and desire to interpret is why there are so many different translations of the Bible.
Which brings us to.... POLITICS!!
It seems like everyone and their dog is quoting (their translation of) the Bible lately, and to their own purpose (not surprising, not many quote the Bible simply to quote the Bible).    
Yesterday Obama was saying "as a Christian" and relating it to taxes and wealth, etc. And that started candidate Santorum on Obama as a "liberal Christian" and attacking his beliefs. People are pretty confused about Santorum's general understanding of the Bible and the way that he employs it as a support for his cause. As Mike Lux wrote yesterday,    What Bible is Santorum Reading?            
A question many Americans are asking, no doubt. Ranger Rick Santorum takes his theology seriously, to the point of keeping women out of military combat and restricting their hours in the workplace (in a gentle effort to encourage them to stay home and be good mommies), no abortion (no exception), no contraception, and the list goes on and on.
The issue of religion is so tricky in these elections! We need a President that has solid beliefs, but doesn't feel the need to make these beliefs the law of the land that all Americans must follow, regardless of their personal creed. (I wrote a blog on this weeks (months?) ago regarding Mitt Romney's Mormonism.)

Presidents must be able to adapt and understand the whole Melting Pot ideal (which I fear we are losing). They can worship however they want, but just as they refuse to be told what to believe, so they should not direct us in our beliefs, nor should they use the law as a weapon to enforce them.                    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Afraid? You Should Be.

I have compiled an easy reference here for things that you should be scared of, currently.

1. Iran. Nukes? OMG.

For more information:

2. All-Male Birth Control Panel

There is just something inherently wrong in a bunch of old dudes sitting around deciding what women get to do with their bodies. We need some chicas in there for balance and perspective, and these kinds of discussions should not be behind closed doors.
Get up to date:

3. Bailouts.

Greece is at the forefront now. This is a big deal and something we need to be thinking about and planning for. I believe that the economies of the world are, for the most part, interrelated. So even though most consider this "Europe's problem," it is definitely worth our attention and should be viewed as a learning experience.
More info:

4. Pageant moms.

I don't watch the show(s) on this stuff, because it is just too much for my brain to handle and makes me want to call the law on some of these people, but my friend was kind enough to share this clip with me.
It will scare the shit out of you. Should this even be legal? I think an age restriction should be put on pageants, and a thorough interview conducted with the participants (without their parents) to ensure that they are doing it for the right reasons (i.e. not because Mom wants them to or they want to shake their preschool booties onstage).

Some articles on this debate:

It's Meme Time! Let's Hear it For the Boys

Today is like fake Monday. So....Memes!
And these ones are dedicated to the dudes. Enjoy, friends.

Funny...and true. Oh Bobby!

Napoleon BonaparteHa. Napoleon. Always good for a laugh.