Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

One of the best stories with a disputable ending

Today, I watched one of the best movies ever made, “Gone with the Wind.” Very few contemporary writers and filmmakers have the ability to write such a story. First, there are few stories with such deep characters. Scarlet is more then just a disagreeable person. She had depth and complexity. She had strength and the will to survive. And I would wager that the Wilkes, the O’Hara sisters, as well as Mammy, Pork, and Prissy would have died if it weren’t for her. As horrible as she is, she is the bad character you love to cheer for, much like Michael from “The Godfather.”

I love how Margaret Mitchell ended the story. Scarlet can be destroyed for all I care. Ms. Mitchell leaves it to the reader to decide whether or not Rhett takes Scarlet back. This, by the way, was the source of a year long discussion between my grandfather and me. We went back and forth, and decided that it really depended, on what, we could never agree on, but probably the welfare of her other children. Rhett would have wanted custody of her other children. Scarlet is not a fit mother. I am perfectly content to leave it up in the air.

Back when “Titanic” came out, *everyone* was saying how this was the “Gone with the Wind” of our day. Wrong. Their only comparison was the sinking of the Titanic to the burning of Atlanta, and still, the burning of Atlanta was much cooler. Then they say, “Well, what about Leo.” Please. Clark Gable is so much better. Granted, Leo has had better parts these days, but he doesn’t have the charismatic screen presence. You love the characters Clark Gable played, and you hate them. He did conflicting well, and few of the leading actors do it now. Besides all of this, “Titanic” was about the big fling. “Gone with the Wind” was a character study. Furthermore, “Titanic” had singular emotions. You either love someone or you hate them. “Gone with the Wind” is about an extreme passionate relationship that is on a pendulum. Scarlet and Clark want each other in the most carnal way so desperately that she hates herself. And she takes her self loathing out on him. They love each other, they lust after each other, they hate each other. And while this is all going on, she is widowed twice, he has multiple affairs, the Civil War happens, she goes from rich to poor to rich again, she has kids, they get married and separate twice, and she still wants that simpering Ashley.

And speaking of conflicted, that’s Ashley. He is absolutely disgusting. Totally unworthy of Mellie. If I were Mellie’s friend, I’d smack the girl the minute she thought of marrying him. No, they do not suit. If there were no Scarlet there would be someone else.

And here’s an interesting thought… do you think that if there were no Ashley, that she would have made an honest man out of Rhett? This is an interesting mental activity that I go through now and again when I’m bored. The reason why this intrigues me so much is because Rhett is good, very deep down; Mellie is pure goodness; but Ashley and Scarlet are different levels of badness deep down.

But the ultimate question is regarding the cast and the story. Would I love “Gone with the Wind” with a different cast? I really don’t know. I’m kind of biased in some aspects. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the book more then the movie, but I don’t know if I could see anyone but Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh as the leads. They had the perfect cast in the perfect story and everything worked well.

And the best thing about this movie is I can think about it tomorrow.

And about that National Guard…

Josh is joining the National Guard again. This will affect many of the decisions we make as a couple over the next twelve years. That’s right. Twelve. He’s signing a contract for six years, and after that, he’ll be close enough to twenty years service that he may as well finish it off.

This has been the biggest decision we’ve made over the last year. And what I’d like to take a minute to do is answer some of the well meaning questions and perform a little related political commentary towards conservative, white collar Christians.

I don’t want to sound horribly disrespectful to people I worship with and talk with on a regular basis, I do want to say that I do understand that your questions are well meaning, but I also want to challenge my friends to think beyond themselves and expand how they view the world.

So, what do I think about this decision? Well, it’s not like I’m completely surprised. Josh was in the National Guard when we started dating. He was finishing his reserve duty from his Army contract by joining the National Guard instead of the Army Reserves. And he was still in the National Guard when we got married. In fact, he was put on stop-loss right before hand, so, I started working on wedding plan B and C. He is not changing “the rules” or “the roles” or anything like that. Plus, I was part of the decision.

And, in general, the National Guard really doesn’t change the way I live my daily life. Some women are hunting widows, some are sports widows, and all like the occasional fun weekend. This just means I can have girl days with relatively little inconvenience to Josh. Furthermore, I can host girl days with little inconvenience to Josh.

What they’re really asking, though, is “What if Josh has to go away?” A very real possibility, but one that I don’t loose sleep over. Sorry Josh’s mom, I don’t. Why borrow the trouble? The odds are that he won’t, and if he does, we’ll deal with it at that time. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow for it has enough worries of its own. I trust that God is sovereign. Also, I am committed to Josh and my marriage as is he. We will make things work out because we have a high level of commitment. Also, I live in a family with a long history of long marriages. My grandparents survived being separated during WWII.

Yes, things were different in WWII. People actually believed in faithfulness, honor, keeping ones word… And, to the women who tell me things were different in WWII regarding marriage relationships… well, it’s not that I know anything special about marriages, but this: Marriage isn’t about me. Our marriage is about Josh and doing things for Josh that will make his life easier and show him how much I love him. And Josh serves me in return.

Here’s the question, though, that bothers me the most, especially when it comes from a “Support our troops” family. Why would anyone want to join the National Guard/let their husband join the National Guard? Um… and I really hate to say this, Conservative Christians, but you’re the worst offenders here. You see, when I tell my liberal or blue collar friends and family members about the National Guard, they sit there for a minute and say, “You know, the extra money/tuition re-imbursement/pension/signing bonus must be nice.” And those who are more altruistic say, “It’s a good way to serve your country.” I get much more understanding from people with opposing political views.

Conservative, white collar Christians, and I’m appealing to Christians because of a shared holy scripture, please expand with me for a moment and decide whether or not you agree. I find myself fortunate to have beaten the odds to be born in America, to a two parent, middle class household. My extended family, having a more liberal bent to them, has instilled in me the value that we do belong to a larger community. Because we are fortunate, we have an obligation to the larger community. There was a day when being a Christian really meant something besides holding certain conservative values. There was a day when volunteer work and other community service was valued.

Unfortunately, these days, we do not extend our compassion and interest beyond the birth of children, the death of the infirm, or the bedroom of others. I’m not saying that we need to tax more or change our economic system from capitalist to socialist or institute homosexual marriage. What I am saying is that we need an attitude change. Paul, the apostle, says it best in the book of Philippians that our attitude should be that of Christ, to become a humble servant. Yes, Josh and I receive economic benefits from the National Guard. But, more importantly, as a middle class couple, we are not too good to serve the United States. And though I am completely against the draft, I am for encouraging people in like circumstances, conservative, white collar, middle class Christians to contemplate serving their country or letting their children serve their country. Not because you have to, not because it’s a good idea, but because our example is Christ who was a humble servant. We should not consider ourselves higher then what we are, after all.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My neat little hobby

I'm going to start working on my neat little hobby again in the next couple of weeks now that we're getting settled in the new place. I have a lot of little hobbies, but only one that I call neat. I make soap. This is my neat little hobby.

Now, before I continue, let me explain so we are all on the same page:
1. To be called "soap" by the FDA, it has to be made with lye; and furthermore, you cannot extract the glycerine by-product that is part of the process. The only thing that is real soap that is sold outside of farmers markets these days is Ivory. The rest is considered detergent.
2. All real soap has glycerine. Here's how the equation works: fatty acid + water + lye = soap + glycerine. So, asking if I make glycerine soap is somewhat redundant.
3. When people ask if I make glycerine soap, they usually mean by the melt and pour method. This isn't really making soap. It's taking soap, melting it, and adding things. I make soap from scratch using the cold process method.

So, why is this such a neat hobby? Well, working with lye gets my need for chemical reactions out of my system in a productive manner, first off. Second, I probably spend less on better soap then what most people do. And it doesn't take a great deal of time, just a great deal of room.

Plus, isn't it neat to get a gift that is home-made? I think so. I generally keep upwards of 40 bars for Josh and my personal use; and we probably go through a bar or so a month. Plus, with these 40 or so bars, I have great last minute gifts. I generally give the rest away at Christmas.

So, I'm going to start planning my fatty acid intake, whether or not I'm going to scent my soap, and to whom I'm going to give it to. I'll post regarding my choice of acids and whether or not I scent.

Today, I am going through the animal debate. Do I, or don't I use animal products like lard or beef tallow? The animal testing has already been answered. I do not intentionally test. But, my sister's pet rats and also her dog have gotten into soap that I've given her, eaten it, and didn't get sick. I test on myself and Josh, but Josh doesn't know it, so don't tell.

Until recently, lard has not been available to me. I suppose I could go to the ranch when they slaughter, but I've just never asked when they do it. But, my grocery store now carries lard. My primary question is cost and not so much ethics. And I like having a semi-solid acid in my soap. Generally, I've been using Crisco, so I've been claiming unintentional animal friendly soap. But, now I have a choice. So, do I, or don't I?

The near perfect Cribbage hand

I have played Cribbage most of my life, since I was able to add mentally. Cribbage is a family game. So, when Josh and I started dating, he had to learn. It helped that his step-dad, Bill, also played.

I'm pretty good at Cribbage, but mostly that's because I took some statistics in college. Never in my life, though, have I seen "the hand." Those who play Cribbage know what "the hand" is. Three of the "fives" in hand, a Jack in hand, and the remaining "five" that is the same suit as the Jack as the draw card. That is 29 points and the most you can get in your hand.

Josh came oh-so-close today. He had all four of the "fives" in hand. Thankfully for me, the draw card was a seven. And I'm a good sport about it. He's going for his National Guard physical tomorrow morning, and has to be at the armory at 6 am. Besides, he didn't skunk me. Nope, I pegged past the skunk line right before he won the game two hands later.

I will probably post tomorrow afternoon about the National Guard.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Today, we stand by our friends, the English

“God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

“O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall,
Confound there politics,
Frustrate there knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all!

“Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign;
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

“Not in this land alone,
But be God’s mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And from one family,
The wide world over.

“From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow,
God save the Queen!
O’re her thine arm extend,
For Britain’s sake defend,
Our mother, prince and friend,
God save the Queen!”

“God save the Queen” stanzas 1-5; Henry Carey