Monday, February 28, 2005

Congratulations, Mr. Foxx

Turns out Jamie Foxx has a sister with Down syndrome. Small world, huh?
That’s the “4 foot 11 inches” of pure love” he mentioned in his Oscar acceptance speech. Some of the buzz in my little community is that now he’ll become some sort of advocate, another champion to further the cause, whatever that is. I’m still not entirely sure. That’s another blog, someday soon. He is a successful, African-American who has the resources and ability to have his whole family live with him, and he does. I’m sorry, but that’s advocacy enough, and the expectations that this revelation have sparked leave me a little cold. Barbara Walters has a “mentally handicapped” daughter living with her; she neither denies, capitalizes, nor openly campaigns for any causes, as far as I know. That is her right (and mine, too, I might add). During her interview of him, was I to expect that she’d share her family situation as she asked Jamie about his? No, but knowing this made the moment somewhat poignant for me. Did they discuss this off-camera? I’ll never know. We are all collections of what we are, have been, and want to be. Is it important that it all has to be revealed? I don’t think so.
Congratulations, Mr. Foxx. A well-earned award. I thoroughly enjoyed”Ray”, and I don’t often say that after plunking down $9 to see a movie. It ends there.
And, from a parent of a girl with Down syndrome, thanks for being such a loving brother. It means a lot to me.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Ever just have thoughts running around in your head that are just too big and ugly to write down? You start to think you might have something to say, when you realize that either someone else has already thought it, said it, written it so much better than you ever could have? How futile it all seems. Well, do you? Answer the question.
I’ve been feeling pressure to add something here, but keep coming up empty. I’ve been pretty flattered by those who’ve complimented me on some of these, I envision them coming to the site, seeing nothing new, sighing (it’s how I express disappointment), and then leaving. Fortunately, with the advent of TV, and Seinfeld in particular, I feel free to write about nothing. So that’s what I’m doing, and I guess that makes it something.
We saw "Sideways", Mrs. G. and me, on Valentines’ Day. It was a matinee. Not exactly a "romantic" comedy, but a good movie, nonetheless. Almost too much identification with the main character for me, though. I was really hoping to be more like a Riesling. You’ll have to see the movie to understand that. I’d love to become an oenophile, but it’s a lot like golf or snow skiing. There are so many expensive accessories and travel costs. The wardrobe alone puts me off. Anyway, there’s a great review at That’s what I meant by my first paragraph. That man can write.
I just finished watching "Casablanca", with Mr. Ebert’s commentary "over the top" of it. Now, granted, this is one of the most-dissected, written about, viewed over and over films of all time, but I was completely entertained by his combination of factual reportage and personal observations. Voyeurism multiplied. Watching someone watching someone and explaining why we like to watch someone, even if it is a movie.
Identification with characters. Political themes. Light and shadow. Conflicted emotions. Midgets walking around a cardboard cutout of an airplane. Movie Magic. Something from nothing.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Happy Ash Wednesday!

Having grown up in a particular (and peculiar) evangelical tradition, I've been a little confused by the recent emphasis of our last two pastors (the latter is a protege' of the former - but that does not make him a latter-day saint) on Ash Wednesday and the concept of Lent. I always considered that to be a construct of the infidel, not the true church as founded by inspired Texans at the turn of the last century. I suppose the idea of depriving oneself of a pleasure to achieve greater holiness is a time-tested formula, but my upbringing leads me to think that most of these "pleasures" are inherently sinful in and of themsleves, and therefore should not have been indulged in in the first place. This, of course, means that the gesture itself becomes a hollow practice that is merely self-serving to one's sense of piety, as it is re-instated at the end of what is an extended month.
Now, think of a lifetime where, each Lenten season, a vice could be permanently excised from one's repertoire, forever banished. Now there's a concept worth pursuing! Can I have an "Amen!"
Oh, sure, there are those that will say that I just don't get it, that I don't understand the true nature of using deprivation to focus on God and his plan for my life, to use the time released by giving up whatever it is in meditation and prayer. That's a great idea; I just don't think it's gonna happen.
So, I've decided, I'm going to give up "trying" for this Lenten season. I know, it's a little outside the conceptual guidelines, but a) it's suppposed to be up to me and God to decide, and b) I think I can acheive it, with divine help. I think, by not adding any extra effort, I can relax and focus on what's important, like cleaning off the top of my dresser, and organizing my shoes, and defragmenting my hard drive. To accomplish this, I will need pie, ice cream, candy, gum, breakfast, lunch, dinner, TV, NASCAR, Starbucks, Spaghetti, and all of the important aspects of my existence to be able to focus on not trying for the next 39 and a half days. I'm hoping that this will not be a trying time for my family, but I am committed to accomplishing this goal. I'll try and let you know what I learn - - no, I guess I won't. Not until after Easter. This is going to be harder than I thought. I almost blew it before noon the first day. Whew.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

No Title - No Words

I sat in a waiting room yesterday, reading an 8-month old Sports Illustrated article praising Pat Tillman, the NFL player who was Killed in Action in Afghanistan. Here's the rest of a different story you may not have heard. It's taken from an unreferenced newspaper article on another site. I trust this source.

Amar was 19, but he had the mind of a four-year-old. This handicap didn't stop the insurgency's hard men as they strapped explosives to his chest and guided him to a voting centre in suburban Al-Askan. And before yesterday's sunrise in Baghdad, his grieving parents loaded his broken remains on the roof of a taxi to lead a sorrowful procession to the holy city of Najaf. There, they gave him a ceremonial wash, shrouded him inwhite cotton and buried him next to the shrine of Imam Ali, the founder of their Shiite creed. On Sunday we witnessed an act of collective courage by an estimated 8 million Iraqis as they faced down terrorist threats of death and mayhem to vote in Iraq's first multi-party election in half a century. But the election day story of Amar is from the other side of human behaviour - in a region where too many have knowingly volunteered for an explosive death in the name of their god. He was chosen because he didn't know. He had Down syndrome or, as the Iraqis say, he's a mongoli, and when his parents, Ahmed, 42, and Fatima, 40, went to vote with their two daughters Amar was left in the family home.They presume that in their absence he set out to fill his day as he always did - wandering the streets of the neighbourhood until, usually, a friend or neighbour would bring him home around dusk. Al-Askan is a mixed and dangerous suburb. Yesterday the Iraqi police allowed The Age to advance only a few blocks into the area before ordering us out.The area around the family's home was the centre of a running gunfightbetween Shiites of the Al-Bahadel tribe and Sunnis of the Al-Ghedi tribe. But one of Amar's cousins, a 29-year-old teacher who asked not to be named, retreated to a distracted state in which Iraqis often discuss death to tell their story as best they can. "They must have kidnapped him," he said. "He was like a baby. He had nothing to do with the resistance and there was nothing in the house for him to make a bomb. He was Shiite. Why bomb his own people?" He was mindless, but he was mostly happy, laughing and playing with the children in the street. Now, his father is inconsolable; his mother cries all the time," the teacher said. After voting at 7.30am, Amar's parents joined their extended family for a celebration that became a lunch of chicken and rice, soup and orange juice, at the home of a relative.The sound of the explosion interrupted the party. But, the cousin said, it was assumed to be a mortar shell, a follow-up to the barrage across the city in the first hours of voting." Everyone was very happy and excited, but news came that a mongoli had been a bomber. Ahmed and Fatima became distressed and they raced home. They got neighbours to search and one of them identified Amar's head where it lay on the pavement and his body was broken into pieces." I have heard of them using dead people and donkeys and dogs to hide theirbombs, but how could they do this to a boy like Amar?" Apparently, Amar triggered the bomb before he got to the intended target. It exploded while he was crossing open ground. Amar's father served in Saddam's army, but now he sells cigarettes in a street market in Al-Askan, an area of the city that also displayed braveryin the casting of votes on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Puss 'n' Booze

The reason I wrote this is not important - let's just say that it is for an audience older than my children, but younger than I am, and leave it at that. I'm posting it here in the hopes that you'll know that I'm not, well, dour is the word that comes to mind . . .

He was a tired, old Tom. He’d seen enough alley scrapes to fill 9 lives. He took another pull from his bottle of Night Train, and wished that sleep would overtake his aching bones. He’d known that it was going to be a long night when he saw the three of them coming down Second Avenue. He wasn’t sure how many of them it was going to take to kick his ass, but he knew how many they were going to use. The orange one had come at him first - he was fat and soft, and soon turned tail to nurse the new gash in his left ear. "Sticky" was next, a patchy mongrel who seemed to always be scrapping just to fit in. His problem was that he couldn’t fight, and was dispatched with only a couple of swift kicks to the head and the promise of lost blood. That left only Art – a badass black and white with attitude to match his sharp claws. "Lessssss getiton, essssssayyyowww" he hissed, hunkering down, his tail hairs standing on end, waving slowly back and forth. El Gato turned, and let loose the kind of ‘green cloud’ fart that only an old, dumpster-diving, unwormed alleycat can muster up on a Saturday night. Art hesitated, and it was his undoing. Old Smelly dove under the two-tone, and swiped a clean gash across one of Art’s testicles, long ago rendered useless by the Veteranarian’s knife. They were his pride and joy, just the same. The one-two punch was more than he could take, and he skittered off sideways toward the Hardee’s at the end of the block. Gato hated Hardee’s, and Art knew it. "Eessss not over, fatso!" Art screamed, as he led the battered trio past the battered cans and creosote-stained fences.
"God, I could use a drink" he muttered, and limped back to his lair behind the BBQ Pit. The food and the accomodations were pretty good, and the owner kept him in beer and cheap wine as long as the rats kept their heads down during inspections. "Come on, Night Train," he thought, as he slipped into another fitful night’s sleep. Purrrrrrrrrr.
Good night, young punks, wherever you are.