Monthly Archives: March 2010

Not always proud to be an American

I’m about to admit something that could possibly get me a lot of hate mail. I am not proud of my country. And though a lot of it has to do with the current political climate, it’s something I’ve felt for most of my life.

I’m talking about the rabid, deep-seeded “America is the best country in the world!” kind of pride. I love America. I love living here… most of the time. But I’ve never been able to feel that whole “Proud to be an American” emotion people go on about. Because I can’t be completely loyal to this country, because I’m a child of two.

I may be one of the few Americans who could actually understand Hugh Jackman's accent in "Australia." Thanks, Mom.

I’m a dual citizen of America and Australia. I’ve never lived in Australia, but I’ve been there several times visiting family. When I was a child, forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance in class, I would most often just move my lips, because I felt like I was betraying my other country, which I love just as much as the one I live in. I didn’t realize back then that I didn’t have to say the pledge if I didn’t want to. It really wasn’t until I got into college that I realized I didn’t have to say it at all. So I stopped. Because I’m loyal to both, not just the one.

The only time I ever feel conflicted is during sporting events or other competitions. I’ll root for the Australians. I’ll root for the Americans. And when they’re up against each other… I can’t really choose. It’s tough, living in a divided household sometimes.

Lately, however, I’ve been wishing I did live in Australia. Australia’s prime minister is nutty, but the political climate Down Under doesn’t seem to be nearly as bat-shit insane as it is here in America. I will never be one of those people who promises to leave the country if something they don’t like happens, but I will admit, it is nice to have the option, if things get even more insane than they already are.

The way the politicians are acting in Washington actually makes me ashamed to be American at the moment. I wish there was a way to reach through my TV or the Internet and just shake some ever-lovin’ sense into them. This country is in trouble and our so-called leaders are too busy playing partisan politics and acting like spoiled children to care about us. The American people. Or half-Americans in my case and permanent residents in my mother’s.

Sadly, I think this is something we’re going to have to deal with for a long time. And I’m afraid it will only get worse before it gets better… if it ever does. So many Americans have stopped thinking for themselves, allowing television and radio personalities to do their thinking for them. And until they are willing to turn the TV or radio off and check out the facts for themselves instead of parroting what is often wrong or misleading information, I’ll be clinging harder to the Australian flag. And eating more Vegemite, which, trust me, is only good in small doses.

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To the parents of 357 WVQ

To the parents of the teenage girl with Knox County plates 357 WVQ:

I hope you are prepared to lose a child.

From the way your daughter was acting behind the wheel as we sat behind her at the busy intersection,  it is only a matter of time before she causes an accident that will possibly claim her life. Bouncing up and down in her seat and chatting wildly to her three teenage passengers, your daughter was completely oblivious to the green arrow for those of us waiting to turn left. And while I admit I found it annoying, enough to use my horn, which I never do, the fact that she and her little friends decided to all turn around and glare at me, rather than realizing the light was green, does not make me think she will live much longer.

Is having fun with your friends really worth this?

Even when the green arrow disappeared, we still had a green light and no oncoming traffic. But your daughter decided discussing the audacity of the person behind you bepping at her was more important than utilizing the green light.

By the time the light turned green again, she was finally paying attention… enough to whip around the corner at unsafe speeds, in a school zone I might add, and proceed down the four-lane, weaving her way in and out of traffic without using a turn signal. More evidence that she does not value her life, nor the lives of her passengers, none of whom appeared bright enough to be wearing a seat belt.

So I hope you are prepared to lose your daughter. And if she is lucky to survive the accident she most likely will cause, I hope you are prepared to be the parent of a daughter who killed one of her friends, or worse, some innocent driver unlucky enough to be on the road while your daughter is driving.

If your daughter is lucky, she will survive the accident. But be prepared to become her caregiver for life, if her injuries are severe enough to cause brain damage. If she is really, really lucky, she will not have an accident at all. But I would not put money on it, based on what I saw this afternoon.

If you value your child’s life, take away her license, car, driving priveleges and enroll her in a driving class. Or if unwilling to do so, forbid her to allow passengers into her car. At the very least, let the parents of her friends know of her bad driving habits. Because if you don’t care about your daughter’s life, at least have the dignity to allow her friends’ parents a chance to save their children’s lives.

A fellow driver who has to travel the same roads as your daughter

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Just another headdesk moment

Every so often an obituary will come in for a person who shares a name with someone famous. Everyone who sees it will gasp in mock surprise over the “death” of an icon. Today, it was James Brown. Cue the faux-shock from several of my coworkers.

As I was typing it up, I noticed that one of Mr. Brown’s pallbearers was John Williams. I remarked on this. “Hey, one of James Brown’s pallbearers was John Williams, har har.”

Williams' spell of choice: Expecto Melodium!

I got crickets.

“John Williams was a pallbearers for James Brown, get it?”

Blank stares.

“You know? James Brown was a musician. John Williams was a musician…”

“Oh. Who’s John William? What did he sing?”

It was my turn for the blank stare.

My coworkers, who are only a couple of years younger than me, do not know who John Williams is. And one of them was in band.

“You know, the composer? He did Indiana Jones? Star Wars? Harry Potter? Freakin’ Jaws?”

They did not know they had all been written by the same Academy Award-winning composer. A five-time Academy Award-winning composer.

I do realize I live in a world where people have not seen Star Wars, incomprehensible as that may be. My coworkers are intelligent, lovely people. But today I wanted to smack them on the head with a piece of rolled-up sheet music from E.T.

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Filed under in what crazy world does this make sense?

Losing my ‘Battlestar’ virginity

Well, I did it. I admit, I was skittish at first. I wasn’t sure about the whole thing, and honestly didn’t know what I was doing, but I finally gave it up and lost my “Battlestar Galactica” virginity.

I’d heard lots of good things about it. Heard lots of bad things, too. But it was all hearsay, and I figured I ought to get to know it myself before jumping to any conclusions. I went in completely inexperienced. I was too young to know the elder BSG, and didn’t know anything about this “new and improved” version, other than there was a ship named Galactica and humans were fighting something called Cylons.

The whole reason for giving BSG a try? I was tired of not getting the jokes on "The Big Bang Theory."

Usually I like to get to know a series before jumping into a relationship. With “Doctor Who,” I read page upon page on Wikipedia, trying to get a feel for the show. Not so with BSG. We were strangers meeting for the first time on a cold Saturday night. Two glasses of Diet Mt. Dew later found me slipping the disc gently into the DVD player and hesitantly pushing “play.”

We got off to a bit of a rocky start. The DVD was unable to perform at first. But with a little coaxing and some Windex, we were off, exploring new places and learning things I’d never known before. Though it took a while to get to that point. I wasn’t impressed at first, but little by little, the characters drew me in, the story line piqued my interest and the special effects, while not quite mind-blowing, were pleasurable all the same.

It was a three-hour marathon session, and I came away happy, but not quite sated. I’m still a little unsure of the series as a whole, but I’m willing to give it another go when the second disc arrives in time for the weekend. It doesn’t take my breath away like “Doctor Who,” but I’m only just beginning to explore all that “Battlestar Galactica” has to offer.

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5 really bad movies I really love

There are good movies and there are bad movies. My taste in movies pretty much follows the theme, “If the critics loved it, it’s boring. If the critics didn’t like it, it’ll probably be OK. If the critics totally trashed it, BEST MOVIE EVER!”

Well, maybe not best movie ever, but one I really, really enjoy. Some of my favorite movies are ones most people hate. They’re so bad, they’re good. And I’m not ashamed to admit my love for them.

The following are my top five really bad films that I freely admit to loving.

1. Joe’s Apartment

Beginning as a series of shorts aired as filler on MTV, someone, somewhere thought that a tale of talking, singing cockroaches would make for a good feature film. And you know what? It was. I’ll admit, I had a big crush on Jerry O’Connell back in the day (I blame “Sliders”), but it was the smart-mouthed, musically-inclined roaches that scurried their way into my heart. I mean, come on, “Funky Towel” is the perfect college dorm anthem. And among my circle of friends, an instant classic.

The towel has got the FUNK.

2. Bio-Dome

I have a confession to make. I like Pauly Shore movies. Well, most of them. I haven’t seen Bio-Dome in a while, but I do own it on VHS… somewhere. This movie was just… fun. And, OK, maybe the fact that this guy I had a teensy crush on in college said he’d see it with me when I said I was going alone may have colored my memory of how much fun I had seeing this film, but I really did enjoy it. It made me laugh. And it had a pretty good soundtrack, too. (Which I also own, on tape… somewhere.) There was an attempt to get a message across (pollution makes the Native Americans cry), but unlike some films (I’m looking at you, Avatar), it didn’t linger on it excessively and provided some chuckles along the way.

3. Snakes on a Plane

I was one of those who got suckered into the whole Snakes on a Plane phenomenon on the Internet before the film’s release. I visited Snakes on a Blog almost daily. I’m not a fan of horror movies, but I wanted to see this in the worst way. How could I not see a movie called Snakes on a Plane, especially when it starred Samuel L. Jackson? The plot is ludicrous. The acting is dubious. But I love the fact that it wasn’t trying to take itself seriously, and the studio actually listened to fan feedback to add to the production. Snakes on a Plane is a campy trip, and I can only hope for a sequel, More Motherfucking Snakes on More Motherfucking Planes.

4. The Core

I’m a big fan of disaster movies. The more implausible the disaster, the better. In The Core, the core of the earth stops spinning, wreaking havoc on the world above. So totally cheesy. The science is bunk. But it’s one of those movies I will stop and watch if I ever find it on the TV while channel surfing. I have no problem suspending my disbelief while Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart try to save the planet by using (what else) nuclear devices to jump start the earth’s core. I liked the special effects. I am riveted to the screen when they drill into a giant geode. Giant diamonds at the center of the earth? Hell yeah! Bring it on! The Core is a fun ride all the way down.

5. George of the Jungle

I never watched the cartoon when I was little. I didn’t care. There is just one reason I love this silly flick: Brendan Fraser in a loincloth. OK, the animals are cute, too. But the main appeal for me is that loincloth. … Excuse me, I think I need a cold shower.

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Losing sleep over the Chilean earthquake

I’m sure everyone, at one point in their lives, has felt that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. I know it sure feels that way to me. If you’re anything like me, your day probably goes something like this: get up, shower, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, clean up and go to bed to begin all over again the next day. There’s barely any time left to do the things you want to do, like read a book, play with the chinchilla or watch that one TV show that you just can’t miss because you’ll know everyone will be talking about it the next day and you don’t want to be spoiled.

Coming soon: "As the World Turns Faster"

And studies have shown that we don’t get nearly as much sleep at night as we need. I know I don’t. But lately it seems like the night just flies by, and I wake up grumpy because I haven’t gotten the 5-6 hours of sleep that I usually get. My days seem even more crammed full of things that need to get done before I can hit the hay. I thought perhaps I just needed to improve my time management skills. Then I saw a news piece on that explains why my days seem to be getting shorter.

Because they are.

The massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday caused the earth to shift about three inches on its axis, creating a shorter day. According to scientists who know about such things, our days are now 1.26 microseconds shorter.

No wonder I’ve felt so tired this week.

A microsecond is one-millionth of a second. That may not sound like much, but we already lost 6.8 microseconds in the magnitude 9.1 earthquake that hit Sumatra in 2004. That’s over eight-millionths of a second lost in the last decade. Just think of all the sleep we’ve lost due to earthquakes over the years.

Of course, this all pales in comparison to what the people of Chile are facing, and what the people of Haiti still face eight weeks after another devastating earthquake left so many people homeless. The earthquake in Chile created a tsunami that put many Pacific nations on alert. CNN and other news organizations spent the better part of Saturday in Hawaii, where the tsunami was due to hit around 3 p.m. CST. That was quite possibly one of the most surreal moments of journalism I’ve ever witnessed — a scheduled disaster. While watching the water around Hilo, Hawaii rush in and out of the bay was fascinating, thankfully no one was hurt. I do, however, wish the news anchors covering the tsunami hadn’t sounded quite so excited about the prospect of imminent destruction.

Our planet is amazing. To think that a shift in land mass can cause the day to shorten sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood disaster movie. But it’s not science fiction, it’s science fact. And a little bit scary. But I’m going to try not to lose sleep over it… well, anymore than I already have.

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Filed under nifty stuff, published writing

Apparently, I’m a ninja

I hate grocery shopping. I especially hate grocery shopping on Wednesday, which is senior citizen discount day. Or, as my mother likes to call it, Old People Day. (Nevermind that she qualifies for the discount herself… it’s funny to listen to her bitch about all the old people in the store.)

Now I will admit, I am a fairly large-sized girl. Southwest Airlines would probably make me buy two seats if I ever deigned to fly with them. I am not graceful. You can see me coming. But apparently, on Old People Day, I am ninja. I could nimbly walk behind someone, slit their throat and slip out without being seen. Because no one seems to be able to see me when I shop.

Let me set up the scene for you:

An elderly gentleman and a woman I presume is his wife are in the canned vegetable aisle. At the end of this aisle is the canned tuna which I need. I, however, am at the opposite end, separated from the tuna by the couple debating the merits of store- vs. name-brand green beans.  In the middle of the freakin’ aisle.

I walk right up to them. “Excuse me.” They do not move. “Excuse me,” I say a little louder, thinking, OK, they’re old, maybe they’re hard of hearing, even though neither one of them is speaking loudly. Nada. I try to push past them, saying, “Excuse me,” once again. No dice. I can’t really squeeze by, unless I want to knock Chef Boyardee off the opposite shelf with my breasts. Which would be way embarrassing.

This is the point where I realize I could probably give them both a new smile, Joker-style, and neither one would notice. Since I apparently don’t exist to Old People on Old People Day.

Finally I gave up and just went down the next aisle and back up to find that Kroger was out of my tuna. *sigh*

At least the night wasn’t a total loss. I did find my first-ever submission to Cake Wrecks in the bakery department.

Mr. Hankey, the St. Patty's Poo

Doesn’t that just look yummy?

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Filed under this is my life