Tuesday, February 28, 2006

In Keeping with the Previous Post...

Just watched Stephen Colbert rattle off the ENTIRE Nicene Creed (also known as The Apostles Creed) on his show, while answering the rehetorical question "what do I believe?" but in the most conversationally casual way and at top speed. It takes a few minutes to say the whole thing, but even at top speed it was still rather long, so the laughs from the audience rose and fell as it became more and more drawn out, and by the end they were applauding and cheering because of the whole delivery of the thing... just fantastic.

The Colbert Report has replaced The Daily Show in my affections, and while I'll always love TDS, TCR is more consistently funny to me. I can't recommend it heartily enough - there's a section called "The Word" where an almost anarchic subtitler puts comments in a field based on everything Stephen says, and it's absolutely brilliant satire & wit. Then there's "The Threatdown" where he lists, in reverse order, the top 5 threats to American culture and way of life, and it almost always ends with "Number one... BEARS." It's the consistency of this choice that makes it, 3 months later, even funnier than it was the first time.

Comedy Central, M-Th at 10:30 pm CST, and some repeats through the day. Watch it!

Lenten Observance

Well, Lent is nigh... for those not in the habit of observing old-fashioned religious holidays, Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday (that's the day after Mardi Gras) and Easter Sunday, where you're supposed to spend time in prayer and self-sacrifice. Sort of like Ramadan, I suppose.

For the last 6-7 years I've actually been trying to observe lent, but it can be rather hit or miss with me. The idea is to give up something enjoyable, something you really love for that 40 days, as a small gesture towards the enormity of Christ's sacrifice. But I'm usually pretty disappointed with my experience; usually because I DON'T give up something important, but rather something that won't hurt as much, or more easily manageable. I KNOW I'm slacking.

It's usually sweets, or chocolate in particular, or Diet Coke, or fast food... but I feel like I'm taking the easy route. In fact, one year, I got myself re-addicted to Diet Coke SO THAT I MIGHT GIVE IT UP FOR LENT IN THE SPRING! Isn't that awful? And now I'm paying for it, literally; my current habit is 2-3 a day.

Last year I just skipped Lent alltogether; I wasn't getting anything out of it, and everything I could think of to give up was just for my own physical benefit (sweets, so I might lose weight... diet coke, so I might drink more water...). And this year was shaping up the same, with me drearily thinking I'd give up Diet Coke again. Then last week, I again had the thought that has plagued me for years when making this decision: television. This is very drastic. I watch TV constantly. I've never been able to make myself do it. I have TWO TiVos, for heavens' sake!

But this year, everything is different; my life is in upheaval, and I could really benefit from some quiet time and cleaning up my apartment, or working out. For the first time, the thought wasn't as terrifying as it has been in the past. I'm not going cold turkey; I'm letting myself watch TV in the morning before work, and a very short list of shows (Survivor, The Colbert Report, Project Runway...) that are time sensitive and can't wait like other favorites, or that I cannot BEAR to miss for 6 weeks (West Wing).

I actually drew lots to make this decision... I put 5 different choices in a bowl, prayed, and drew one. Then I drew again 2 more times and got the exact same one - "TV with exceptions", so I'm FAIRLY confident this is what I'm supposed to do. I have more confidence in God directing my choice this way than by choosing based on my own insight, since my insight is very cluttered with personal preference and comfort over actually seeking God's will.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I went to a memorial service today at my church for a young couple who just lost a baby at around 18 weeks. She's had a horrific pregnancy; constantly nauseous and frequently hospitalized for dehydration, and so for this to happen after 5 months is just heartbreaking. All that suffering and pain with no baby at the end of it. They already have a daughter so they aren't entirely bereft, but they hurt nonetheless.

Now, this is the part where I acknowledge my own selfishness and self-interest, but I present this anyway because it's not an entirely invalid realization. As we were sitting and listening to an amazing reading, and I looked down from the choir loft, I saw that she was resting her head on his shoulder, and I thought, how lucky she is to have her husband and her little girl, and all of these people are here to share and acknowledge her quite understandable grief...

...but do single, unmarried, childless women ever get the same? I have no husband, I have no children, and my chances of having either are slimmer and more fragile every year... will anyone besides my mom and some women friends ever grieve with me that I have no-one? It'll be the occasional night of weeping, the occasional teary-eyed conversation over lunch, and that will be the end of it as far as anyone is concerned. Their grief will diminish, and they might yet have another baby, but my grief of an unrealized family will never go away.

I may have the advantages of freedom and independence and sufficient sleep over those with spouses and children, and I may really enjoy it most of the time. But I will never be granted the respect and consolation of a memorial service for the death of my hopes and dreams.

Lordy, that's a downer. Go read the funny one under this!

Gazing Into The Future...

OK so I have, for some years now, written predictions for friends of mine in the performing arts; grand and glorious careers amongst the high and mighty of Hollywood, Broadway, and the literary and musical fields. Because what is a prediction for except to inspire and encourage? And honestly, in this day and age why shouldn't it happen in as miraculous a way as I've forseen?

So my friend DJ lost out on an amazing opportunity due to red tape, and I wrote this "career path" for him:

"I can see it now... the 2008 Tony Awards... You're nominated for a Best Actor Award... You win, and go up and give the best acceptance speech EVER, and Mel Brooks hears it, and goes, "That kid is PERFECT for my next show!" which would have been all lame and stuff because, let's face it, he hasn't had anything really fresh or funny since the days of Blazing Saddles; but you add so much to the role that the critics actually go mad about it, and the studios decide to make a movie version, which, unlike the Producers, is actually GOOD, so you're up for a Golden Globe in Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, which you win, of course, and you give another fantastic acceptance speech, and then Kevin Smith begs you to make his next picture, to which you say, OK, because you've realized that one of your gifts as a performer is to revitalize the careers of formerly great writer/director/producers, and instead of making a comedy, it's a historic drama on the scale of Reds because you have so completely inspired Smith that he decides to go in a completely different direction, and that of course leads to an Oscar. And then you go on Oprah!"

You should read the one where my friend Rachel ends up "turning" the irresistable Brit Rupert Everett from his current orientation, and having a half-dozen kids with him. It's a corker!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Race... Run... Dash...

to this blog! Her comments on the Olympics are Hi-Larious. And I must say, I thought of most of these things myself as well; I was just BUSIER than her and failed to note them down.


Then, when you'd like to cry in a really good way for a little while (or see if you have the willpower to resist it at work) go see the CNN sports clip about the slightly autistic high school student who was allowed to play in the last 4 minutes of his team's basketball game... [trickling movements with fingers down cheeks] Niagara Falls...

J-mac's Hoop Dreams Come True

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Loves Me Some Drama!

So I've rehashed this with any number of friends & family, but I am alternately disappointed and delighted with the Olympics this year. I finally solidified what I find so appealing about watching them - it's the stories. Have they suffered to get there? Do they have a dying family member? Are they emotional when they win? Do they weep on the podium? Do they fall spectacularly and then rise to fight on?

There's been a lack of really good surprise stories this time, and yet there have been some; but I find myself watching for long stretches, working on a scarf or hat, and finally thinking "gosh, I'm so bored with this!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Olympic Fun

"And last night was good, too, even though no one fell." -- Anne-Marie

Yeah, good times! Lotsa fun to be had if you're inclined to make fun of arrogance and misfortune... Man, watching the Italian Ice Dancing pair fume at each other... very satisfying!

And Lindsay Jacobellis - poor girl, I really do feel for her; all of the snowboard guys had done the same trick grab if they were way out ahead; she just happened to be the one unfortunate soul to miss when she tried. Youthful high spirits will forever be condemned in her as arrogance, and I just don't buy it. That clip will be rolled out with wearying predictability for the rest of her life, and she'll always have that label. Whereas Bode Miller's mistakes will just be dismissed as typical rogue jock.

And they should have advised her to do damage control - you MUST be honest immediately in those situations - she obviously never saw Ashley Simpson on SNL! Had she fessed up immediately and wept with frustration, she'd have been forgiven immediately. Instead she tried to brazen it out and no-one bought it for an instant. Young and stupid... of course, immediately after watching that, I went out to my car in the snow and ice to run to the bank (Sat morning) and promptly locked my keys in my car when I got back out with the scraper... so who am I to judge?
OK, this is fortuitous... not one week after creating this blog, I am introduced to the fun that is NationStates.net. You can create your own country, pick political systems, a flag, a motto, a currency... So, The Grand Duchy of Susania lives there too, although I was forced to call it the Grand Duchy of New Susania cause someone had already taken Susania. very upsetting.

My niece Emma

I KNOW as an aunt that I'm not supposed to play favorites, but it is impossible not to at times. I do love all of my nieces and nephews (as has been well documented in a half-dozen adoring Christmas letters) but ever since Emma Jane, the youngest was born almost 3 years ago, she has fascinated me. She looks amazingly like her mother as a little girl, and has the same fearlessness and stubbornness. Granted, she hasn't managed to pull a chest of drawers on top of herself & break her collarbone yet as did Mommy, but she's fallen off of a variety of furniture and I am sure will manage to break something in the next year or so.

She reminds me of Sally Brown, Charlie Brown's little sister. Same big round head (a family trait), and blond hair that is swirly in the front and swoops up on the sides. Uncanny.

She is simultaneously the girliest girl I've ever seen, and the most rambunctous tomboy. I bought her a little plastic tiara as a consolation gift when taking her and Henry to buy his birthday present, and she could. not. get. over. it. Just loved it. She has a variety of princess dresses for playing dress-up, a couple of pairs of net wings, and has recently discovered the Disney canon of princess movies; Cinderella is her obsession. Plus her Disney princesses nightgown.

She is NEVER indifferent. She is so completely committed to the task at hand, that if my mom or I come in and she's occupied, we get no more than a blank glance. On the other hand, if she is at leisure, she will fling herself at you for hugs, and then show you every single one of her pastel stuffed animals, purses, or movies.

We went sledding on Saturday with the 2-inch snow we were begrudgingly granted, and I was amazed at how she would so willingly be placed in a saucer and shoved down a hill, usually backwards. If she spilled, she could have cared less, and often hopped up with a "yahoo!" which she learned from her brothers. Then she would haul her tiny self back up the hill to go down again, over and over. I really could see her as a snowboarder or an X-Games enthusiast 15 years down the road...
I find her so simultaneously cuddly and fierce.

The other night I was babysitting for her, and after what was a perfectly peaceful evening, she was infuriated to find that she would have to go to bed (unusual for her, as she has always been the easiest to put to bed). I picked her up, kicking and screaming and carried her forcibly upstairs, where she proceeded to carry out a 15+ minute temper tantrum. When offered pacifying objects, she would shriek with fury and throw them from her. I sat in the rocker and played a little computerized Yahtzee game until she subsided enough to be offered a "way out" of her tantrum without wounding her pride. But there was no way I was going to give in to such behavior - as I have often said, I will NOT have my babies turn into brats.

Sure, temper tantrums are common enough in children, but what amazed me was the sheer longevity of it. Her will to perservere is phenomenal in one so small; and if denied something, she will not easily be distracted from her purpose, if at all. She's quite prepared to scream as long as it takes, and the fact that tantrums have not ever actually worked hasn't sunk in yet, so we just sit back and marvel at her strength.

I invented a song for her a few years back to a melody that I can't place; I think it's a little Mozart snippet. She really loves it, and so I have started making up lyrics to any bedtime instrumental music on the CD player in her room; usually with recurring themes of Emma Jane/time to sleep/mommy and daddy/close your eyes.

I am a baby princess
Adored by my family
I am a baby princess
As pretty of a princess as you'll see.

I have a mom and daddy
Of big brothers I have three
I am the baby princess
When I grow up I'm going to be the queen.

Funny AND Handsome!

Just recently remembered how much I loved Gary Gulman on Last Comic Standing last year... I've had the John Heffron cd for a while now, but never got the one for Gary. Well, now you can! Yes, you can buy it on his website, and even cheaper if you do it as an mp3 download.

The man has genius insight on cookies! Plus, I can't recollect any vulgarity...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jealousy is an ugly thing...

and boy, sometimes I sho do have it. My biotch friend Rachel is a better writer than me (which means, she's a FUNNIER writer than me) and I read her website, and lo, I am jealous.

But my jealousy doesn't override my admiration of the quality therein, and telling other people about it. Go take a look! Enjoy! Just bear in mind that 1) I'm the one who introduced her to Bollywood, and 2) also cuteoverload.com.

Friday, February 17, 2006

...So he says

So Mark says (names changed to protect the indolent) that he has a new chat abbreviation - instead of LOL (laughing out loud), he uses LOTI (laughing on the inside). Please use freely.

My Little Tater

Right now I am chatting on MSN Messenger with my niece Taylor, formerly known as Tater, and it's really cute... she's only 7, and so her typing skills are somewhat labored; it take 2-5 minutes for her to type a sentence and so I have lots of time to do other things (like post to my blog) while she pecks out her responses. She's really liking Science at present, which is excellent. I think she'll make an exceptional zoologist someday, if her current passions persist.

OH, and she was a lobster in the school program last night. I'm getting the details right now...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How true, how true

Went to lunch with my Mom today and ended up crying through most of it, much to my dismay... As we do on occasion, the Weight Issue was brought up by her for discussion, and I kept trying to explain that my decision of the moment NOT to really try very hard to lose weight was one based on an intimate understanding of my personality, and hence the futility of such an effort. I've failed to make any permanent effect on my appearance despite trying since I was 12, and unless I am really inspired by a particular method of diet & exercise, I make no real progress... and if I do, it only lasts a year or so. So why should I kill myself on a constant course of failure?

I'm not saying I won't make ANY effort; but I know how much of a committment it will take to have any real effect and it's JUST. NOT. GOING. TO. HAPPEN. I eat salads, and cut down on sugar and yeast, and exercise occasionally... but that's just bare maintenance, not enough to make any difference in my appearance. Believe me, I have no desire to develop diabetes, which is what has been hung over my head since my early twenties; but it will take a famine and having to walk everywhere to make a sufficient change in my lifestyle, and I don't see that happening, do you?

Elder Sister is on the latest variation of Diet she's been pursuing for the last 5-10 years, and is making amazing progress... and I TRULY am happy for her... but barring a miracle, she'll put it all back on someday. We always do. We are genetically pre-disposed on our father's side to look like German Farmwives from our mid-twenties onward. Younger Sister got more of my mother's genetic code so she looks great; but she's no Skinny Minnie either.

Is accepting a Fact as Reality the equivalent of Hopelessness? My Mom seems to think so. I call it Acceptance, she calls it Hopelessness.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Frosty the Zombie

...stolen from a letter I wrote to friend in NYC:

Yeah, I wondered about how things were going for you "up there" in SnowLand... entirely envious, of course, just because the ONE chance we've had for snow was last weekend and it was a piss-poor experience... instead of a nice big blowout of 2-4 inches as promised, it just flurried off and on for 3 days. Pretty, but unsatisfying. And all of the FORCED snowmen ("Kids! There's a half-inch! We MUST BUILD THE SNOWMAN NOW before it's all gone!") as rotting pillars of gray and muddy snow in the middle of green grass look so sad. You wouldn't think snowmen could rot, but they can.

So I says to her,

I'm going to crochet a hat and scarf for my friend in NYC because she is smart enough to compliment a baby blanket I made, and ask if I could make her stuff in the same yarn. I loves me some flattering, so of COURSE I started last night. This, despite the fact that I have 2 baby blankets to do, a cross-stitch baby announcement, a historic sampler, a embroidered purse, and a half-dozen or so UFOs (un-finished objects) in my cluttered apartment.

But it's COLD, and they're up to their necks in snow, and it will stop being winter soon. So that takes precedence. The purse will be next to get worked on, since I really want to finish it - it's more elaborate and complicated than anything I've made before, and I really don't want to set it aside for fear of not picking it back up.

Then the sampler - I have to get a certain amount done each month, since I am part of a pilot group in Nashville that is working on it. Jennifer Core of the Tennessee Sampler Survey is designing the sampler based on elements taken directly from samplers made in Middle Tennessee over 100+ years ago - she's documented dozens of them, and so stitchers in Nashville & Knoxville are working on personalized versions of it through 2006 - 10 bands, and an average one is a foot wide and over 4 feet long! People are using different types of fibers - silk, cotton, hand-dyed - and different thread-counts of linen... I'm going straight down the middle with cotton DMC thread on 32 count linen.

Which will mean NOTHING to most of you.

But I'm making Renu a hat with earflaps and long strings, although the pompoms have been rejected. Cause it's COLD and the chilled people of New York need our help keeping warm. It makes me so happy to do it, too. So often I make things as a surprise for people, and although they are complimentary, I really don't think they're as appreciative as I selfishly would wish. Cause it's all about what makes ME happy

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Today at a pizza-party lunch here at the AEA (I'll let you figure out what that stands for) one of the ladies confessed that she had, in fact, met her husband at a family reunion. And she's from Pegram. But sorry to disappoint them there Yankees slavering at the old joke made into reality; he was the friend of a relative by marriage and no kin to her. HA!


In typical impulse fashion, I have created a blog. Nothing much else to do today; can't leave work yet, not feeling inspired to write an entire journal entry on my website http://www.shouston.com, so this is an attempt to make myself try the blogging medium.

Wept through the final skating of the Pairs competition as I finally watched it on my tivo this morning... had no idea the Russian pair had dealt with such a debilitating incident as him DROPPING her in competition 2 years back (which gave her a severe concussion; she was unconscious on the ice, in fact) - the guilt and loss of confidence that poor man felt - at the end of their long program, he dropped to his knees and kissed her hands in gratitude for her confidence in him.

THIS is what I watch the Olympics for.

Then the Zhang x 2 pair from China skated last, and she took one of the nastiest spills I've ever seen coming out of a throw to a quad salchow - so bad they had to stop, check her knees, and let her collect herself... your heart just bled for he, and the audience just clapped and cheered so encouragingly. But then they resumed their program and did beautifully, and WON SILVER! Now THAT is what I watch the Olympics for. Just unbelievable.