If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

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“Blue Comes Through,” by Alice Dalton Brown

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself,” ~ Zen Proverb

“If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come.” ~ Arapaho Proverb

Okay, so I haven’t posted in two days. I am going through serious withdrawal. I was working on a post called Twenty-six Things That Won’t Disappear when my computer crashed—again. I’m really not going to be able to hold off much longer on downloading all of my files onto flash drives and completely reinstalling everything from scratch.

Corey says that he’ll do it whenever I’m ready, but when do I have time in my über busy schedule to step away from the keyboard? I mean, in between all of the galas and social events that I attend, and my special appearances to talk about my writing career, I just can’t seem to find the time. So many people to do, so many things to see, or something like that.

Damn. There I go being delusional again. Sorry.

“If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him . . . ” ~ Dhamapada Proverb

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Torture? Who me?

So anyway, I might try to get back to my list of 26 things, but I’ve kind of lost the anger that was behind the post. I’ll bet that you’ll never guess who made me angry . . .

Gee, you’re good. Yep. It was W. and Darth Cheney, and the whole report on torture. So when I get riled again, which could happen the next time I watch Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, I’ll probably finish my list. I know that you can hardly wait.

“There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon.” ~ Basho

Moving along, I got some really great comments on my list of my favorite 100 rock ‘n roll songs, even though I cheated and listed 115 songs. So I was thinking that I might have to do my favorite 100 movies. Memphis Mafia said that he had done his favorite 100 movies, so I’ll have to be checking that out soon.

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Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in Heat

I do love a good movie. Last night, Corey and I watched the latest DeNiro/Pacino movie: Righteous Kill. I love those two together. Even though they were only on screen together for the last part of Heat, I loved that movie, just knowing that they were playing cat and mouse with each other was enough for me.

In Righteous Kill, they are together in almost every scene. The movie did not get great reviews, but that never bothers me. I decide for myself (what a surprise), and I just think that as far as actors go, it’s pretty damned hard to top DeNiro or Pacino.

Maybe I will have to do that movie list after all, but I don’t know that I would ever be able to do my top 100 books. Maybe if I did it by genre, just my mystery/suspense novels. Hmm. Things that make you go hmm.

“The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your two feet.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

I got a call from the Stand Up for Virginians people regarding the long comment that I made when I signed the petition. Seems they liked what I had to say.

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Sally Field: "You like me. You really like me."

Want to know a secret? It was an awesome feeling. Validation for the first time in quite a while. Don’t get me wrong, all of you wonderful people who support me by reading me on a regular basis and suggest my blog to other people are a constant source of validation. Sometimes your comments make me go all Sally Field: They like me . . . They really like me. (If that reference makes no sense to you, then you didn’t see Field win her Oscar for (not Norma Rae) whatever it was she won her Oscar for.)

But back to the validation thing. Since I stopped working almost two years ago, I have had my dark moments when I just don’t feel that I am contributing anything of value to society. Granted, not all of my jobs involved contributing anything meaningful to society, but in most of my jobs, I was able to leave my mark on something, and even the smallest thing can have some meaning.

So when I got the call about my comment, I really felt good about myself again. I had written something on an open forum, spoken my mind, and it mattered.

Of course this does not mean that I won’t still be sitting here everyday writing about whatever strikes my fancy for anyone who happens to stop in. This blog is my lifeline. It keeps me sane, which is why having the computer act up tends to tweak my temper just a wee bit.

“All of the significant battles are waged within the self.” ~ Zen Proverb

This weekend is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous here. I plan to sit outside and read and soak up the rays. Yes, yes, I’ll be using sun block. Don’t want any telltale sun damage. I already have a hard enough time looking at myself in the mirror.

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No Filipino Faces Here

What a telling comment that is. People who don’t know me might think that I’m fishing for comments when I become self-deprecating. But people who really know me understand just how insecure I am about my appearance. And I can tell you exactly when it started: when I was a young child. Truly. No lie.

Try to imagine how it felt to be half Filipino, half American, sitting in a classroom with a bunch of white English school children. You see, I began school while my dad was stationed in England. So I had an American accent and a decidedly different name: Lolita Liwag.

Then, fast forward a few years, and I’m sitting in a classroom full of American school children, only this time, I have a very proper British accent. Still have the olive skin, dark hair and Asian eyes. Still had the oddest name in a class full of  girls named Kim, Brook, Nancy, Meg, and Linda.

The reality is that everywhere I have ever been, I have been the different one, and because of that, I have always had to prove myself. I have proved myself on my jobs with my abilities, but my quirkiness born of a façade of toughness, has always set me apart. I once had a co-worker tell me (after we had been friends for awhile that when she was first introduced to me, and I shook her hand, that I scared the crap out of her. That really blew my mind, especially since she was known as the reigning bitch. I scared her? Whoa.

“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~ T. S. Eliot

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Battlestar Galactica's Anders & Starbuck

Maybe I’m like Starbuck from “Battlestar Galactica.” Not in the sense that she’s incredibly buff, blond, and fierce. But, you know, all tough talking on the outside, but sensitive and loving on the inside . . . It’s a thought.

Speaking of which, I was longingly looking on Amazon at the boxed sets for Seasons 4 and 4.5. When I get some money (if?), I’m buying those babies. Then, I’m going to sit down and have myself a BG marathon, starting with episode one of the first season. No, wait. Back that up. I have to get the movie first, the one that started the new series. I don’t think that I have that either, and in fact, I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen the two-hour movie. 

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Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings

Getting back to my plan: I’m going to sit down and start with the two-hour movie, and then I’m going to watch every single episode from every single series. It will be just like when I watched every extended version of Peter Jackson’s masterpiece Lord of the Rings.

The first version would come out, and we would buy that, and then I would proceed to watch that over and over until the extended version came out. It was sort of a ritual. I remember the boys saying something to me about falling asleep to the music that played as the credits rolled. Think of it as a kind of lullaby, I would say.

I watched each of those at least ten times after they came out. My friend Rebecca would say, “What did you do last night?” And I would get that goofy smile, and she would say, “Not again. You watched it again?”

“There is no fire like passion; there is no evil like hatred; there is no pain like this body; there is no happiness greater than peace.” ~ Dhamapada Proverb

What can I say. I am a woman ruled by my passions. When I’m passionate about something, I am very passionate. Granted, that can have its downside, for example, when I get too intense about something and cannot understand why everyone else is not as intense as I am.

But at the same time, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to certain movies or television shows: “Highlander” (loved me some Adrian Paul) (ooh aside: Plans are in the works to remake the original Highlander movie. Hooray!); “Battlestar Galactica,” such a great remake, “The X-Files,” never the same after Mulder left, but I had an X-Files coffee mug that changed messages when hot liquid was poured into it (too cool), “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” best of all of the series even though Spock was not a character.

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Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod in Highlander

 And the Underworld movies (what I wouldn’t give to have boots like Selene), one of the best openings to any movie in the first of the three.

You get the general idea. In fact, when I was teaching at ODU, I really wanted to teach a Science Fiction class, but they weren’t ready to add it to the curriculum at that point.

So, my geekiness aside, my point is that my fierce loyalty towards family and friends also extends to certain shows and movies (but I still wouldn’t attend a sci-fi convention; aside from the total geek factor, who would I be?).

Well, I think that I’ll stop now and put on the first Underworld movie. I don’t think that I’ve watched it in several months. Although, Brett and I are in the middle of re-watching Lord of the Rings; the only problem is that we can’t watch it on the big screen because the DVD player that is hooked up to that television is being skittish (like my computer) and will only play CD’s but not DVD’s. Go figure.

More later (as long as my computer cooperates). Peace.

On The Wings of an Eagle*

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Golden Eagle in Flight

We Dare to Dream Again of Friendly Skies As We Give Thanks

Okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a blog about what I’m thankful for. A Charlie Brown blog, if you will. I debated whether or not this subject matter would be too trite, too overdone in the blogging world, but then I decided that my cynicism would prevail, especially in light of my recent entries, which admittedly, have been a tad on the nostalgic side. I’ve decided to write about unlikely things for which we, as in the collective we, can be grateful, in spite of the dire times we seem to be facing.

Here goes:

  • The nation’s first president of color, a man of incredible presence, intelligence, and insight. I can only hope that the fates are good to him and surround him with good karma. If he runs his presidency with just one half of the calm, executive demeanor that surrounded his campaign, then there is hope that his White House will never be likened to a college fraternity without any adult supervision.
  • A new administration, one headed by a president who won’t mangle the English language. No matter what your political leanings are, you have to be grateful for a man who is articulate
  • An apparent real goal for an end to the Iraqi war, or at least a major draw down of troops in that country, even if it means that we will have an increase of troops in another country
  • An attempt to provide access to some kind of health insurance for everyone in the country, even if it takes a couple of years. Hillary Rodham Clinton first attempted this during Clinton’s first term in office and was roundly criticized for not sticking to her role as first lady. After that aborted attempt, nothing has ever been done nationally until now.
  • A chance to regain our status in the world as a nation that can be respected as a leader
  • A chance to turn our economy around and stop the practice of “Trickle Down Economics.” The plan, of course, was that everything would trickle down in an equitable manner. Um, so sorry, but WRONG. When Ronald Reagan took office, our country could be described as a diamond, with most of the country falling in the middle of the socio-economic ladder. What we have now is an hourglass, with almost no middle class, an upper class and a very bottom-heavy lower socio-economic part of the ladder. Anyone who tells you that America is a class-less society is still in their naive idealistic phase.
  • A commitment by an administration and apparently a nation to harness alternative energy and preserve resources. A long overdue wake-up call has finally been answered, and more and more people are doing what they can, in big ways and in small, to help the environment. As someone who has been recycling for over almost two decades, it is refreshing to see the changes all around. I don’t care if it’s trendy, as long as it makes an impact.
  • More awareness of post traumatic stress disorder as a real problem with far-reaching issues that can affect people for years
  • The fact that Sarah Palin and her family are back in Alaska, at least for most of the time, but the governator still can’t seem to find enough work to do as governor, so she hits the road every other week.
  • A big win in the House and Senate, but the pressure is on to deliver. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility Spider Man.
  • Law & Order, the original, is back on Wednesday nights.
  • Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC is kicking butt big time.
  • Virginia went blue for the first time since 1964, and Thelma Drake lost her seat in Congress to newcomer Glenn Nye thanks in large part to a grassroots effort.
  • The first amendment allows people like me to write things like this whenever I want, which still makes this the best country in the world in which to live.
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    The Colorado River from Deadhorse Point
  • With any luck, President-elect Obama will be able to reverse some of the more egregious laws that Bush has signed into law, in particular, those that allow drilling near state parks in Utah and Colorado, and those that ease pollution laws. Because after all, it would be nice to leave a legacy to our children, you know, something like majestic trees, clean rivers, the Grand Canyon, some Golden Eagles, and maybe some uranium-free land. Or maybe I’m being naive and full of youthful idealism in spite of my age.
  • And finally, with any luck, the next few years we will see some glimpses of that hope we held onto so tightly when we stood in line to get into those rallies. When we stood at those rallies waiting to hear the words we needed to hear. When we heard those words of hope and better days and we actually allowed ourselves to dare to believe, even when our cynical hearts did not want to. Yes, we can dare to hope. Yes, we will believe.

These are the things that I am thankful for as an American this Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for personally later, or maybe not. But it’s nice to think that maybe this time next year, there will be a change a coming.

Peace be with you.

*On the Wings of an Eagle, song by John Denver

Remnants: Hillary, Karma, and Rick Rolling?

If It’s Friday, It Must Be Leftovers

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton? You Betcha

The Obama Campaign was renowned for its lack of leaking. Reporters bemoaned their inability to penetrate what was dubbed the tightest campaign ship in history, especially in comparison to the leaky frigate U.S.S. McCain, from which new leaks sprung hourly. Hence the surprise over the leaks that have come from the President-elect’s camp since the election: his choice of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, and now the word that Hillary Clinton is being eyed for Secretary of State, a position that is much coveted by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Would Clinton be effective in the position? She is already widely recognized by world leaders and is on a first-name basis with many of them. She is a tough negotiator, articulate, and well-schooled in foreign policy. In fact, Clinton’s foreign policy experience was often thought to be superior to Obama’s during the campaign, and many thought that it would be the one thing that would trip up the junior senator from Illinois. There is no doubt that Clinton is qualified. 

She has already made the trip to Chicago. The big question now is whether or not she would accept. The bigger question is whether or not it would fit in with her larger plans because there is no doubt that Senator Clinton, in her indubitable wisdom, has bigger plans.

My Son Would Be So Proud

I have admitted to being an avid “Rachel Maddow” fan, so you will imagine my surprise when her “Just Enough” segment featured her being RickRolled! My youngest son finds this pasttime hilarious for some reason, and every member of the family has been RickRolled at least twice. He hides the link behind other links so that you never know when you are going to hear that obnoxious song.

For those of you lucky enough never to have had this experience, being RickRolled is a prank involving the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The person RickRolling you provides a web link that they claim is relevant to a topic you might be interested in and sends it to you in an e-mail, or posts it on their MySpace, but the link actually takes you to the Astley video.

I’m sure that neither Maddow nor her “Just Enough” segment companion Kent Jones planned the RickRoll, but it was priceless nevertheless. I can’t wait to show my son. He’ll love it.

 

Obama Roll/Rick Roll (not the one on Rachel Maddow Show)

 

Don’t Drink This Wine. Savor It.

Remember Michael Vick? How could you not? After all, what a fine specimen of a human being he is, taking all of that NFL fame and fortune, buying a bunch of dogs, a large house, 15 acres of land, and living a life of quiet leisure in the off-season. No wait. That wasn’t Michael Vick, was it? Oh Michael Vick, that sleazoid who thought it would be really cool to buy a bunch of dogs and train them to rip the flesh of each other while a bunch of other sleazoids bet money on which dog would die first. That Michael Vick? Well this section isn’t actually about him. It’s about the dogs.

Seems that the dogs who were saved from said sleazoid had a piece written about them by AP news and featured on “Today.” The dogs have been undergoing retraining and rehabilitation at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah. One of the founders of the sanctuary, artist Cyrus Mejia, began painting the dogs after they arrived. The portraits have captured the dogs souls, not their pain.  And Matt Hahn, co-owner of Carivintas Winery, decided to combine the art with his wine. And voilà: The Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection, which features colorful portraits of the 22 dogs confiscated from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.

Each bottle includes a portrait of one of the dogs on the front, and a brief story about the dog on the back. The entire set includes 22 bottles and two others commemorating Best Friends’ 25th anniversary, and costs $672. The set can be split, and each half sells for $380. Individual bottles are $40. Ten percent of each sale goes to Best Friends. The money will be used to oppose dog fighting and to fight laws targeted against specific breeds of dogs.

What a great ending to what began as a portrait of a man with too much money and time and not enough humanity and heart. In the end, the dogs won, and not in the way that Vick had planned for them. He’s sitting in jail eating macaroni, and the dogs’ visages are gracing the labels of fine wine. Karma is a good thing.

More later. Peace.