10.31.2007

Play of the Week.

Of Course goes to the Steelers! I'm not biased, I swear...

It's Ben's can't-tackle-me play in which a Bengals was grabbing his ankle and Ben was on his way to the ground when he completed a pass to Santonio Holmes for a first down!

Yeah baby, talk about elusive. His rookie year playing he actually had a better QB rating while rolling out of the pocket than in the pocket!

Check out this great article on Big Ben, This One's For Hep. It's an especially good article if you went to Miami University. The article gives good insight on Ben and is also a really touching story about his relationship with Coach Hep. It's really a great article!

10.27.2007

Crazy Halloween Story...

...And we haven't even gone out yet! We're pulling into my brother's parking garage, getting our Halloween night supplies out of the car (wigs, mojito ingredients, jager, etc.) and we hear this guy say, "Sir? Sir? Can you help me?" We look over and there's this guy stuck between a black iron fence and the next floor of the parking garage. After ensuring that he wasn't impaled (thank god he wasn't!) we try vainly to unstick him, but he was pretty wedged in there. So we call 911.

I so wanted to take a picture because it was just about one of the oddest sights I've ever seen, but obviously that would have been a bit insensitive. The poor guy had been stuck there for at least 30 minutes. Oh, and did I mention that the guy was for some reason in his boxers and his undershirt? It appears that he had wiggled out of his clothes after getting stuck at an attempt to make himself skinnier to try to get unstuck because there was a pile of clothes on the floor of the parking garage at his feet. After a while it was hard to keep a straight face. He had obviously been drinking and for some reason had thought he should climb up the parking garage to the fourth floor, where his brother lived.

So the firetrucks came and they unscrewed the fence from the wall so he could get out. If you can imagine about ten firemen, a couple of EMTs, police people and then me, my brother and hubby all crowded around this guy watching as they free him. Oh yeah, and some random little boy was there too.

And P.S. Hubby and I were talking about this last night and he told me that after the dude got free he had his hands up like he was under arresst and it took multiple people to convince him that he was okay and could put his hands down... this just keeps getting funnier and funnier! Soooo wish I had that picture! Hubs said we should have video taped it and put it on YouTube. Now That would have been funny.

I'm not sure if any alcohol induced craziness will top that tonight.

Uganda Updates.

I know it's been a while since I've updated you all on the Juba Peace Talks and the current situation in Uganda. I'm finally getting back into the swing of things with my life, working out regularly, reading more, and blogging again! So I thought I'd throw up some good Uganda links, some might be a couple of months old, but still extremely informative and sometimes shocking. As many times I hear the stories of mutilation and abuse put onto these children by the LRA it never ceases to shock me to read another. I truly hope it never ceases to shock and disgust me.

The Price of Peace in Uganda
A great article combining the heartbreaking atrocities committed by the LRA as well as informative updates on the progress of the Juba Peace Talks. I'll pull some of the most striking parts of the article to me, but please read all of it as it was extremely well written and informative.

A young woman I met had been abducted by the LRA along with other members of her village. She calmly described their first night's "welcoming meal," in which one of the villagers was killed and the rest forced to eat him, to instill a proper fear.

* * *

The final obstacle to a peace treaty is likely to be the treatment of Kony himself, who fears the justice he deserves. Kony is under indictment by the International Criminal Court, and he particularly dreads judgment in The Hague. Securing his surrender may involve a Ugandan promise of house arrest or exile to a country not party to the ICC -- the traditional tyrant's bribe.

Like Idi Amin in his Saudi exile, Kony may live for many years and die in comfort. This would not be justice. But many of his victims seem to prefer peace to a grand reckoning. And at least Kony's immense darkness would finally be confined to his own heart.

A blog called Return to Uganda focuses on the trials of children coping with war in Uganda. It's very personal, knowledgeable and focused on the issues surrounding the children affected by this war, which happens to be the longest war in Africa right now (21 years).

A great overview of all the issues surrounding justice and reconciliation in Uganda, as well as other issues such as IDP Camps and land rights.

The aftereffects of Kony's mutilations continue to hurt his victims... but the Ugandan government intends to help. An interesting and sad article on what the government intends to do to help all the maimed and mutilated victims of Kony's army.

While this article is about the Congo, being a neighbor to Uganda and having the worst rape epidemic of the world right now, I felt the need to post this. These crimes against women and children need more attention as they are a vast human rights violation. It's disturbing to think of these women and children being attacked, brutalized and violated as I sit comfy in my bed typing this. Ages of rape victims range from 3 years old to 75 years old.

To be lucky in life bears the responsibility to help the unlucky.

10.25.2007

The Rockies: Myth or Legend?

Let me preface this post with the fact that I'm not an avid baseball fan and therefore my knowledge of the game may be pretty lame in comparison to those who follow the sport closely.

There are a couple of reasons I'm interested in the World Series this year. One, when there was a chance that the Cleveland Indians would make it, I started paying close attention to the playoffs. Second, when the Red Sox beat the Indians, I already was bitter and hated the Red Sox anyways because they're a Boston team and Boston fans are obnoxious. Sorry to my dear friends who are from Boston and are Boston fans, I love you guys, but in general you know I'm right... in all fairness everybody really hates Boston teams and fans because they're all pretty darn good and have been for a while. Us folks with normal teams get awfully sick of it! Anyways, thirdly I kind of got on the Rockies band wagon when visiting Denver, not only because of the excited and devoted fans there but also because I appreciate the "Moneyball-ish" homegrown strategy that the Rockies have employed. I also like the manager Clint Hurdle. I heard multiple interviews with him while in Denver and I like his style.

So anyways, back to the point. The Rockies were the underdogs of the series coming into it, and are now definitely the underdogs after the blow out last night. The Sox are apparently the "better team" according to every media outlet not in Colorado. Meanwhile I had a Denver bred Rockies fan tell me yesterday before the game that the Sox were basically "playing against God" because of the amazing and unprecedented winning streak that the Rockies were on.

And here is where the Rockies strength of character as a team comes to be tested. Will they be the myth? The team that was destined to win, but then choked and was embarrassed in the World Series therefore making all the heroic predictions untrue? Or will they become the legend, the little team that could? Yes the Red Sox are nationally followed. I was watching the game last night at a bar in Raleigh and the place was filled with Sox fans, and other than at my table, I didn't see a Rockies fan there. But as with David and Goliath, I will continue to root for the underdog. The little guys with some spunk and character. I hope they become the legend that the Pittsburgh Steelers did when they were the only sixth seed ever to win the Super Bowl (sorry, football and Steelers are my sport, I had to bring up One reference!)

I assume my little article here was neither insightful nor new news, but this is my shout out to The Rockies and I hope they can pull out a win tonight. Right now it's tied 1-1 in the fourth inning. Rockies are looking looser and more comfortable than last night, the balls aren't all falling the Red Sox's way, the pitching is more equal and if the Rockies still believe in themselves then they have a real chance to become legends. But they'd better get a win in before Beckett takes the mound again.

Damn, I love sports... and on that note please check out a new football blog by one of my most fave girls in the world, and coincidentally my twin separated from me at birth... Pink Cleats. She's smart, knows her football, is an awesome writer and an amazing person. Any football fan would benefit from reading her blog, but for those other female football fans out there finding a void of female angled football blogs and commentary, it's a must to check out. It's my blog pick of the week... okay, so I don't do a blog pick of the week, but if I did, that'd be it for this week!! Don't forget to leave her some comments and show her some love!!

On a personal note, you know you're living on a tight budget when your spouse tells you to not send in a bill yet because you don't have enough money in the bank account to cover it. Dang, that's living paycheck to paycheck fo' sho'!

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven: A Review

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie is a collection of short stories focused on the lives of Native Americans in modern society. I have to say that I loved loved loved this collection. Alexie, rightly so, is known as one of the current greats in the writing world. His stories are poetic, insightful, funny and have a natural grace to them that makes the stories sing. The manner in which he mixes reality and old Indian myths and traditions is genius.

The overall tone of the collection is mournful and speaks of a lost culture. Alexie shows the beauty and art of the old Indian traditions and then he shows us the disconnect in the current Native American culture with the old ways and the modern world. I have kept myself somewhat educated on the completely disgraceful way the Indians were treated by our government and the complete destruction of their culture as a result, but reading it was absolutely heartbreaking.
Reading these stories, you get a feeling of hopelessness, loss and pain.

I cannot say enough about the creativity in which Alexie approached many of these stories. He takes storytelling to an entirely new level with metaphors and symbolism, and he makes it all sound so pretty while he's at it. Sometimes it was like reading pure poetry... sure poetry about an alcoholic Indian who can't support his family so they eat imaginary food for dinner, but pure poetry. And the greatest gift of the book is the imagination, the humor and the moments of love (and therefore hope) that he gives us. Yes, perhaps they are only glimmers of love and hope, but sometimes that's all people need.

It took me a long time to finish this collection, mostly because I carried it in my purse and used it as my emergency-stuck-waiting-in-line book, so I read it sporadically. However, as I got near the end I noticed myself putting off reading it because I didn't want the magical stories to end. I always knew that if I was stuck somewhere bored I had a whole world just waiting for me in my purse, and that was something that was hard for me to give up. But all good things must come to an end I suppose.

I Strongly recommend that everyone reading this go out and buy The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie immediately. It changes your perception of life and deepens your respect for the delicate balance of culture and the forever effects of forcefully assimilating people into a culture so contrasting to their own. It is a powerful book and frankly, just fun to read!

An interesting tidbit on Alexie... you know you've made it when you've got a copycat I suppose!

5* (as if you couldn't tell by my glowing review)

10.23.2007

Atonement: A Review

I had actually read Atonement by Ian McEwan right before I heard it was being made into a movie, and ironically I've been on a kick of reading books turned into movies.

The book is about a young girl, Briony, who through a youthful misunderstanding of a situation condemns an innocent man. The book is about guilt, despicable actions that can't be undone, and what people will do to hide from their actions or ultimately to atone for them. The story is heartbreaking and written with a vivid eye to the minds and hearts of each character.

Although the book started out slow for me, the build up is intentional. You get a sense of the slow paced, sweet gentility of Briony's life before the "incident." It is an innocent world she lives in and after certain events and her decision to condemn Robbie Turner, everything drastically changes and the pace quickens. You're taken directly into the war, where Robbie is fighting in order to escape his prison sentence, Cecilia is a nurse to escape her family and Briony is a nurse to atone. The vividness of McEwan's writing is stunning. The images he gives us of war are chilling and feel real and personal to you. It is a world that brings together misery, desperation, love and forgiveness. Easily my favorite part of the book is when we're taken through the war. I was stunned and moved by the images and feelings of the characters.

The ending is average and not as emotional or as vivid as the rest of the story. It's more functional than anything, giving context and tying up the loose strings for the story. I can see it's purpose, but the romantic and dramatic in me would have hoped for a more dramatic and emotional ending. Not that I feel the events should have played out differently, but the way it was written wasn't in real time, it was written from the future and lacked the immediacy of the rest of the book. However, I can see McEwan's purpose, perhaps some of the reflections he wanted Briony to make couldn't be made until she was much older, and so he felt compelled to bring the end of the book towards the end of her life. It did have a "full circle" effect, with her grandchildren reading her play for her birthday, and it was a satisfactory ending.

I can't wait to see the movie, I'm in love with Keira Knightley. Not necessarily for her acting skills but just because she's freaking hot!

4*

10.22.2007

Steelers are IN-COM-PLETE.

This is the picture of Hubby and I before the game. I guess my sign was just a smidgen premature, but considering that most Bronco fans I talked to didn't even think they had a chance against My Steelers, I guess I was a little over-confident. And with Ben's "All I'll have to do is hand off the ball" comment and the way they carelessly threw the ball around, the weak O-Line play, our corners getting burned on just about every play and the lack of the D showing up for the last drive of the play and letting Denver win with a last second field go... I think it'd be fair to say that Pittsburgh went into this game a bit over-confident themselves. And as we all witnessed (painfully for me), when the Steelers are cocky, they suck (no pun intended... okay, fine, pun intended!) The Steelers thrive as the underdogs, and as Hubby said, he started getting nervous when everyone was picking the Steelers to kill the Broncos. I think our offense had moments of the Steelers we've been seeing this year, but our D was just pathetic and looked weak, and I can't even start with the penalties penalties penalties! The O-Line looked sloppy, with our center contributing to if not causing the fumble returned for the TD with an awful low snap, not to mention the fact that Ben was running for his life way too much for comfort.

It could be said that this is the first Real competition Pittsburgh has seen this year, and with the Steelers headed to Cincy for their next game, a place they've won in every year for the past couple of years, and with Cincy looking so horrible and inconsistent, we may not be truly tested again until the Baltimore game the following week. I'm hoping that we are the Steelers that I thought we were the first 5 games rather than the Steelers of last night, which really scarily resembled the Steelers of last year.

On a personal note, I was at the game and had a blast, even though I just about froze my balls off (figure of speech). The Denver fans were way easier on me than the Cincy fans usually are, and I suppose I could attribute that to the Division rivalry thing but I could also just say that Bengals fans suck ass. But one thing that did get on my last nerve, and I was actually even warned about this by a friend who used to live in Denver. After every freaking incomplete the fans say "And the pass is IN-COM-PLETE!" Now, it doesn't bother me for the ribbing part, it bothers me because it was just freaking annoying. Okay, get a new THING Broncos. I started yelling that out by myself every time the Broncos had an incompletion... funny, the Broncos fans did not seem amused.

Oh, and did I mention that the Steelers are going to the Super Bowl this year?? :)

P.S. I forgot to mention the way witty sign one of the Denver fans had, of course the Broncos' stadium showed it about three times, I don't think it made National TV though: Roethlisberger eats boogars.

Yes, very witty indeed.

We flew home on Monday, I just have to say that it was basically Steelers Nation in the Denver airport! Everybody still proudly wearing their Black and Gold! I love Steelers Nation.

10.16.2007

On The Road...

I'm headed to Denver, Colorado this weekend to visit friends and of course goto the Steelers @ Denver game on SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!! So make sure to look for my terrible towel waving in the crowd on NBC Sunday Night! There may be an embarrassing sign using the letters of "NBC" to say something witty or not so witty about the Steelers... and possibly face paint too...

See ya there!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

10.07.2007

The Collected Short Stories of Amy Hempel: A Review

The Collected Short Stories of Amy Hempel, written by Amy Hempel of course, was raved by NY Times as one of the top ten books of the year last year. In a writing style that is unique, sharp and tight as can be, Amy Hempel writes of everyday events in such colors that the life meaning of the story bleeds out to you.

I'm one who typically likes long descriptive passages. I like writing that is clear and and written a bit elaborately. Amy Hempel is not this type of writer. And it is because of this that it took a while for me to get into her stories. There were some stories that were no more than two pages long and after reading the story a couple of times all I could come up with is: WTF? She has a randomness and a shortness with her stories that leaves a lot up for the readers' deliberation, and this usually drives me nuts! However, as I read on, I was able to get into her rhythm (and she definitely creates a rhythm in her stories!) I grew to appreciate her subtle writing style, the things she does not say but you understand completely. There is definitely a beauty to the subtle writing, the short and quick style. Her stories are often simple and seem to have a simple or even no plot, but they always have some statement or thought on life. Hempel often leaves us with a question on life with no answers.

I can see why her book of short stories was popular, not only is it unique, but it is also like a clear stream of water. Refreshing and crisp.

4*

10.06.2007

I'm Not Dead!

Yes, I know, I've been incredibly, inexplicably quiet as of late. I can attribute this to a new job, rocking social life and the jet streaming life style and I hold, going to Vegas and all for a week. I've been busy and exhausted. Elated and Depressed. Just living life.

I'm going to try to be back and more consistent with my posts now that I'm settling down in my new employment. I have some books to review and some topics to vent on. Hopefully it'll be all good again and you'll all come back to me!

With Love,

mai wen
 

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