Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I am a hypocrite

So I have been feeling a little bit guilty lately. I recoginze that there are many aspects of my personality that are somewhat contradictory. Most people do. However, sometimes I have gut checks that cause me to feel like a complete hypocrite. I had one of those moments earlier on the phone when I was talking to my Dad earlier on the phone (sidenote: Today the sale of our house closed. We are no longer the owners of 654 Timber Ridge Road. This makes me cry. A moment of silence, please.). Anyway, back on topic, we were talking about the Michael Vick dogfighting indictment. I think dogfighting for sport is one of the most disturbing hobbies that human beings participate in. It makes me sick to my stomach. When we lived in Mississippi many years ago one of my mom's Irish Setters was abducted from Ma Maws and Pa Paws farm, and circumstantial evidence pointed to the possibility that people from Louisiana took poor Rusty as one of the poor dogs that dogfighting dogs used for their "training." Dog abductions of this type were quite common in Southern Mississippi at the time. It breaks my little heart to this day to think about this. So I am of the view that if Michael Vick is guilty of this whole interstate dogfighting ring, he deserves what he gets.

But then I feel like such a hypocrite for this reason - because I have admitted on many prior occasions to enjoying fois gras. A couple of weeks ago, I heard this story on NPR about China's growing fois gras industry (in part because it is being banned so many other places). During part of the story they played this sound clip of the geese being force-fed and it was one of the most horrible noises I have ever heard in my life. I think my days of enjoying fois gras are over, no matter how tasty it may be, because I need to live a more ethically consistent lifestyle. So, I am going to try to give it up. Break the habit. I just have to think of that sound; of poor Rusty. I think that will help.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Obama on Genocide

Although I wouldn't count myself among those who are Obama supporters for President right now, I do like him. However, this week, I liked him just a little bit less. It had nothing to do with his comments about talking with Chavez, Castro, or anyone else, which is what the Clinton campaign assailed him for this week. No, the comments that have me disappointed are the ones he made, that he have been fairly overlooked about the U.S.'s obligation in the face of a genocide, particularly if one were to erupt in Iraq. The conservative columnist, Jonah Goldberg, wrote a column about it in the SL Tribune that you can find here. There is a discussion page where you can find two thoughts that I posted on it here. My opinion might not amount to much, but my biggest concern is that the postion advocated by Obama seems to be just as selfish as the views of those that got us into this nightmarish war. I was against the war from the beginning, but considering that we are responsible for creating the conditions in Iraq that could erupt into a full out genocidal conflict if we were to precipitously withdraw from Iraq, I think we bear in the responsibility for that. It wasn't a war of my choosing, but how can we with a straight face withdraw and leave those people to their own devices when WE were the once who took away their stability in the first place? Doesn't it make us just as terrible as Portugal or Belgium who did the same thing to their colonies in Africa?

I am not naive enough to believe that we are saviors to the world, spreading truth and democracy. And I don't think my view is paternalistic, but I just think we have some responsibility in doing something to ensure that potentially millions of people don't lose their lives just because we wanted to go home now. I hate the foreign policy approach that got us into the war, but I also recall how much I hated Clinton I's policy approach in Rwanda as well. And we didn't even create the conditions that caused the genocide there (France and Belgium are more responsible for that), but since the genocide, countless commentators and experts have shown that not only that our leaders knew what was going on, but that we could have done something to stop it as well. Even a minimal intervention could have saved lives. The whole Clinton doctrine of "National Interest" that he put forward after Somalia led to some of the greatest atrocities not only of that decade but of the entire 20th century being perpetrated right under our nose but without any notice by our country.

Like I said, I realize that my opinion doesn't matter much to most, and is completely out of sync with 99% of everyone else who thinks we need to either "stay the course" or "get the hell out", but I just can't stand the thought of people dying because of something that we caused and got too tired of dealing with. It isn't easy to resolve. The Bush administration ensured that when they screwed up so royally and had us get involved in this stupid war in the first place, but we have to deal with the facts as they are now. I wish I could go back and change President Bush's decision to go to war, but I can't. But should we withdraw and a genocide erupt, Mr. Obama, do you think that America is innocent of that blood?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ripped from the Headlines

My blog has been screaming for more substantive content as of late (I mean, I know my thoughts on wedding dress shopping are really deep.), so I thought I would return to my every so often posts regarding my views on various U.S. Presidential Candidates. Today, I am going to be writing on the possible run of Fred Thompson's everyone's favorite District Attorney, or rather an actor who up through this season portrayed himself to be a District Attorney on NBC's still going, but slowly dying, Law and Order series. I know he isn't "officially" running yet, but lately, he certainly seems to act like it. And the longer that he waits to announce his candidacy, the more free publicity he gets as NBC can continue to air reruns of him playing DA bringing his folksy, Southern appeal to the courts of Manhattan. (I find this the funniest part of Fred Thompson as DA of New York County because my southern charm didn't bring alot of courtroom cred when I was a prosecutor in New York.)

What I find the most baffling about Fred Thompson is this - how is it that someone with more experience portraying a leader on television or in film than actually being a leader can have so much support among Republicans without even being a declared candidate? Is that how weak the Republican field is? Are Republicans so hungry for the days of Ronald Reagan that any actor who is a Republican will do? And why is it, when Republicans who are always complaining about "the liberal bias of Hollywood" and about how certain actors should shut up about politics, are so smitten with an actor from their side of the aisle?

Frankly, I think some Americans who are supporting Fred Thompson right now might have him confused with his character on the show. In fact, they might mistake his scripted remarks on the show for his actual views on policy, crime, and other legal issues. They might be in love with his character as a presidential candidate. Of course, I guess his character could be the presidential candidate. I mean, what is the difference these days between script writers for a television series and speech writers and handlers for presidential candidates? This is precisely what disturbs me so much about our political process these days. When people like Fred Thompson, who served a term and a half as a senator, are taken seriously as presidential candidates, I wish so much for something more akin to European countries where experienced technocrats wield the political machinery.

But hey, I am a nerd. I like people who actually know what they are doing rather than people who are elected into office based on their popularity. In middle school, I believed that I was qualified to run for student government because I did my homework, but what my classmates thought made you qualified was being a cheerleader. After all, cheerleaders didn't need to do their homework when they could just copy off of mine, even if it meant stealing it out of my folder to copy it. I thought, oh, that was just middle school. The adult world isn't like that. It stops being a popularity contest. Ha! Ha! Ha!

I shouldn't just fault the Republicans for this. However, it just seems pretty pronounced in this instance. On another day, I will have to post my theories on Barack Obama's popularity(although, to his credit I would say he has much greater credentials for the White House than being a television actor).

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Worst Part...

I don't want to be a selfish bride, and so I am going to try and refrain from posting about wedding issues, because it just seems so self-absorbed. But I just have to say one thing, I do not believe that there is anything more nightmarish than shopping for a wedding dress. If hell was a place where you had to keep doing something that caused you pain over and over again, I think that shopping for a wedding dress would be my condemnation. I had my first foray into that yesterday, and the fact that I have to keep doing it until I find some ridiculous piece of organza or satin is like someone dragging their fingernails against a chalkboard over and over again.

Here is the strange part - I like dresses. There is nothing that I generally consider to be a greater treat than blowing my money on an Anthropologie dress. I like wearing dresses in my daily life. Why is it so different for wedding dresses? I have yet to exactly identify what it is, but the combination of the fact that Mormon-appropriate wedding dresses are generally so ridiculous looking (shirt sleeves and square necks seriously make me want to vomit). Perhaps if I were independently wealthy or a celebrity and could have Oscar de la Renta design my wedding gown, perhaps then I would find something that I like with relative ease. The hard part is, I don't even know what I would like, so I can't even describe a dress to someone to have one made either. I have a feeling that Oscar would just know. In the meantime, I just want to find anything that works and get the wedding dress part over with.

Here are other ways that I am not a bride - all I care about is the music and I think everything is too expensive. Does that make me not a girl?

In the meantime, I can delight myself by watching the Panda Cam at the Atlanta Zoo, that Meredith told me about. Something about watching those bears roll all around, is just so memsmorizing. Can I get rolly-poly panda bears at my wedding? Who cares what I am wearing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Even on Monday

My history of blog writing is fairly morose. It seems as though I only write when I have something to complain about. And it so happens, I generally have many things to complain about. But lately, I do have to say, I have actually thought about how much in my life makes me so happy right now. I guess getting engaged can do that. I don't want to sound too trite or ridiculous about it. Beyond that, I think what I have realized how many truly amazing and dynamic people I have in my life, and have had the good fortune of meeting in my life. I may have never been the most popular girl, or the most social girl, but the friends that I do have seriously must rate among some of the best people in the world. I have just been fairly fortunate to run across such amazing people.

I am excited to get married, and as a part of that, have so many of my favorite people there in the same place. I am already lucky to have a pretty remarkable family, and to add to them the interesting, talented friends that I have, well, lets just say, I am a lucky, lucky girl. I just hope that Mickey has enough room at Disney World for all of that brillance in one place.

It makes turning 29 so much better.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Becks in America

I just wanted to write a quick few words on David Beckham's official unveiling as a part of the L.A. Galaxy today. This article was a good read on the subject. It made me like Beckham even more.

My two cents: I hate L.A.; I hate any sports team associated with L.A.; but in spite of the fact that it is L.A., I am still pleased that Becks has chosen to come play in America. I want him to be successful and cause people to pay more attention to soccer in America. Maybe then Seattle will get a M.L.S. team. Although I am not a huge Beckham fan (although I do like the English National Team, and on a team full of hooligans like Rooney, I think he brings a little more dignity to the came), when I saw him place twice in the U.S. last year, there was a palpable excitement everytime he came onto the field or touched the ball in the games in Seattle and Salt Lake where I saw him play. Here's to hoping he can make it last.

Welcome Becks! And please try to ensure that your kids keep their English accents in spite of living in L.A.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Victoria, Albert; Rose, Jack; Leslie, David

I have a lifelong quest to try and develop more empathy for people. Some people, I find it easier to develop empathy for. Others, I find it more difficult to develop empathy for. Mostly, it is the Paris Hiltons of the world - the people have cultivated this lifelong sense of entitlement that I find so difficult to relate to. That kind of self-absorption; I find it difficult to have any empathy for someone. But I think that after this weekend, I think I understand what a precarious and difficult position it is to be someone who is used to having whatever they could want. When one has all that one could want, it is pretty hard to accept having less, however necessary it may be. Entitlement, privilege - here is a lesson in class struggle, courtesy of a weekend trip and the Titanic.

This weekend, David and I took a trip here:

That is Victoria, B.C. We took the Victoria Clipper ferry from Seattle, and only three short hours, and five sick passengers later, we were in Victoria. We enjoyed a free breakfast on our trip to Victoria as a part of our tour package (actually, it was a free champagne breakfast, but since we don't drink alcohol, the Clipper saved some money on us. Our hotel later also saved money on us when we didn't drink the sparkling wine that came with our chocolate covered strawberries - more on this later). Victoria feels British, not Canadian. Perhaps it is because it is a city that so prides itself on its British heritage that it still proudly boasts the name of Britian's longest reigning monarch. Perhaps it is because of the plethora of English gardens, or English estate houses, or shops boasting goods from Scotland and Ireland.

This is where we stayed:

That is the Fairmont Empress Hotel. It is world famous for its afternoon tea. Of course, we don't drink tea, but the hotel was lovely enough. We got chocolate covered strawberries as a part of our trip that David booked. Note: the strawberries were served with the aforementioned, Sparkling Wine. I started to understand a little more why people like Paris Hilton end up with DUIs and in jail when faced with free alcohol around them all of the time. By 2:00 pm, we had already been offered two free bottles of alcohol. Anyway, I forgot to mention that name of our Victoria Clipper weekend getaway package was called "Pure Pampering." Here is David being "purely pampered" and enjoying the strawberries.

Here is my satisfied face after enjoying the tasty strawberries. They were delicious. On Saturday, we had a bit of a technical mishap trying to arrange transportation out to Hatley Castle near Sooke. However, we made the most of the time that we had left that day, first enjoying the flower gardens at the Empress. That is one great thing about Canada - it may be 50 degrees in July, but the gardens in July remain full of color. The roses were blooming all over town.

After our stroll, we walked over to the Royal British Columbia Museum, where they had a special exhibit on the Titanic. Here is where it gets really interesting. I hate the Titanic, as wasn't particularly thrilled about the exhibit. Nope, I enjoy the stuffed animal nature displays in the natural history portion of the museum. But since a visit to the Titanic exhibit was included in the ticket price, I figured I would at least take a stroll through the Titanic and try not think of punching James Cameron in the face for ruining with cheesy one-liners what would otherwise have been a fairly interesting subject.
At the beginning of the exhibit, each person is given the personna of one of the Titanic's ill-fated passengers. Then at the end, after learning all there is to learn, you get to find out if your person survived or not. I became Charlotte Annie Collyer, a 31 year old wife and mother traveling from Hampshire, England (Jane Austen's home district) with her husband and infant daughter. I was travelling in second class, so I wasn't one of the Gilded Era Barons, but I wasn't one of those peasants down in third class either. Anyway, I was travelling to Idaho where I planned to buy a fruit farm with my husband. Oh, and did I mention that I had tuberculosis? I was dying before I even got on that ship. However, I did survive the Titanic disaster with my infant daughter. My husband, though, went down with the ship.
David, on the other hand was given the personna of Mr. Joseph Bruce Ismay, who was the Director of the White Star Line and was one of the people primarily responsible for the building of Titanic. Mr. Ismay was a real stand-up guy. Despite building the death trap of the Titanic, Mr. Ismay had no problem in saving himself and making sure he got a spot on one of the lifeboats. He also survived the Titanic disaster. If it was 2007, I am sure he would have survived only to face one major class action lawsuit. However, I am not sure if people were as litigious back then.
Anyway, the exhibit was interesting, because I just couldn't believe the detail of how much distinction there was between classes. It made the story of Jack and Rose so much sadder, cue the Celine Dion music.
After the Titanic, we walked over to the British Columbia Parliament House for a lovely view of Queen Victoria herself.
The BC Parliament Building pretty much knocks the socks off of any U.S. State house building I have seen. Those British seem to build everything right. Maybe we should have rethought this whole American Revolution thing...

We had dinner reservations at the Empress Room at our hotel, but on our way there we stopped off at the lovely old hotel library that had the ambiance of an old British Gentleman's Club. Leather bound books make me giddy.

The themes of exploitation and class distinction continued at dinner. In fact, in honor of the Titanic, David was able to order the dinner of death for the wealthy - the last dinner served in the First Class dining hall aboard the Titanic before the ship went down. He was first class after all.
I wasn't first class. I had to console myself with the dinner of cruelty and malice. My risotto starter was harmless enough, but the double combination of veal tenderloin and foie gras ensured that I also was served up a healthy dose of senseless cruelty for the sake of deliciousness.

The next day we toured the B.C. House of Parliament. Many people know how much I love the Queen. I guess in some ways, I am still a Tory at heart. In my African History book that I am currently reading there is a picture of a young Kwame Nkrumah dancing with a young Elizabeth that I look at over and over again. I can't explain why exactly. Anyway, here is a portrait of Elizabeth and Philip that is in the reception hall of Parliament.
Here is a picture of where Canadian MPs argue over the complex variety of issues facing contemporary British Columbia - like, what do we do when the Canucks lose? Or, Where are moose causing a nuisance these days?
We then toured Craigdarroch Castle, where the Dunsmuirs, a British family who made millions off of British Columbia coal, lived around the turn of the 20th century. They had eight daughters. It was so hard on them being married off to various members of the British aristocracy, that one of the daughters had to be committed to an insane asylum. Maybe this should be a lesson to me about sympathy for Paris Hilton.
We then took a tour of more gardens over at Government House, a short walk from the Castle. The roses were in full bloom here as well. The air was so delightfully fragrant, I wanted to package it up and take it back to Seattle with me.

In these gardens, the most surprising thing of all happened. David proposed. I know, quite shocking. Although we have been dating for nearly four years, it still came as a shock to me. That is a good man to put up with all of my neuroses. I mean, I am no Effie Dunsmuir, but some significant patience is required.

Since my antipathy for diamonds is well documented, David gave me lovely pearl ring that he had made in Australia to match the pearl necklace that he gave me in Paris last year. It was an incredibly kind gesture and ensured only an oyster was harmed in the making of my engagement ring.

We walked back to the Fairmont and ate a delicious lunch in the colonially inspired Bengal Room. We had walked alot and were both tired (although David looks more mischevious in this picture).

I on the other hand just look tired and rather wind blown. The leather chairs in the Bengal room were made of the softest leather, that I seriously wanted to fall asleep sitting there.

Afterwards, we walked around Victoria some more, and saw that in Victoria, their mermaids play the accordian.

Here is one last view of the Fairmont Empress before heading out on the ferry back to Seattle.

And here is David on the ferry saying goodbye to Victoria and hello to months ahead of fun wedding planning. So to sum up, here are the things that I learned in Victoria: I am still way too obsessed with British aristocratic society and need to root this out of me immediately. It is really representative of everything that I detest in life, but it sure is lovely to look at and tasty to eat. Negative. But on the positive, in spite of my significant and numerous flaws, including my incredibly oxymoronic tendencies, David still wants to marry me.

Thank you Victoria! Oh, and also, thank you Victoria for teaching us that not all royal weddings have to be sad, scandal-infused affairs. Your marriage to Albert was a model of domestic felicity.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

If I were a Simpsons character. . .

Perhaps I would look something like this:

I found this courtesy of the Simpsons Movie website. You can create yourself as a Simpsons character.

Happy Belated Birthday America

I just have a couple of quick words to say about the Independence Day celebrations yesterday. First of all, I had no idea that Independence Day was such a dangerous holiday. Today, I think half of the local news was spent discussing all of the calamities caused by the Fourth of July. Two children drowned in local bodies of water. Another child was killed when his family's homemade cannon malfunctioned and sent shrapnel into his side. There were at least 6 major fires in the Seattle area caused by fireworks. An explosion happened on a fireworks barge causing serious burns to a man. If we had any idea that celebrating our independence would be so deadly, maybe our Founding Fathers would have rethought this whole independence from Britian thing.

Secondly, although I appreciate the technological advances in fireworks spectaculars, I have to say, the show in Seattle had me thinking, huh? It was a Fourth of July celebration that wasn't choreographed to patriotic music, but instead the theme music to Austin Powers, Queen, and Jimminy Cricket? I find patriotic music as annoying as the next guy, but is there any other day of the year when you can listen to "I'm Proud to Be an American" without fear of recrimination? Well, maybe at EFY dances when you are 14, according to my friend Brigham Bowen. In any case, if you aren't going to stick to the parameters of music about America on the Fourth of July, then at least pick decent non-patriotic music. The best song of the night was after the show was over, they played Simon and Garfunkel's "America." See - you can have a song about America that isn't annoying and xenophobic.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Je ne regrette rien

Lately it seems as though I only see movies involving Paris. This weekend, the Paris movie marathon continued. First, I saw Ratatouille, which was the most delightful animated film that I have seen in quite some time. I think that it was actually made for adults more than children. It was such a wonderful story about how any person with heart and drive can become an artist, and it involved one of my favorite artforms, food, in a beautiful animated setting, Paris. It was so wonderful.

The second film was also about the struggle to become an artist among the rough streets of Paris, La Vie en Rose, about the life of Edith Piaf. The life of this artist was somewhat grittier, and involved a bit more swearing and alcohol abuse, but there was a moment at the end of the film, where it all became quite charming in its own way. I have been an admirer of her unconventional voice for quite some time, and the film made it all make a little more sense.

Note: In Ratatouille, I was the oldest person in the crowd, except for people accompanying children, of course. In La Vie on Rose, I was probably the youngest person in attendance. I guess people of my age group and younger don't really appreciate the WWII era chanteuse. I guess I also have a problem identifying with people of my own generation (like last night at the Band of Horses concert, for example).

Note: My Parisian movie-fest is about to come to an end. I am getting dragged to see Transformers tonight.