Thursday, July 17, 2008

We've Had an Art Attack

I've got to tell you guys about this affliction that has struck both Randey and I. It's actually kind of sad and more than just a little embarrassing, but I know I'm going to find some understanding amongst at least one or two other people out there. Maybe. Hopefully. I don't know how it's happened and I don't know why it's happened, I just know it has happened. Somewhere along life's path, Randey and I became strangely enamored with.....landscape art. And not just any landscape art. It has to be cheap or we just don't seem to get the same thrill out of it otherwise. In fact, it's almost like the "cheapness" matters more to us than the beauty of the piece. (And when I say "we" and "us", I mean mainly me. I'll admit it here. Randey has better taste than I do in certain areas and is more willing to shell out a dollar or two for his "finds" than I am). I think the strangest part of the whole thing is that this bizarre longing for cheap, tacky, er...I mean...inexpensive, interesting landscape art struck us both at the same time. Now we're like fiends whenever we're out shopping in junk stores. No landscape art is safe from us. Unless it cost too much, that is. Then it's pretty darn safe from us. We got this painting in South Dakota on our recent vacation. (Yeah. We bought a painting that we then had to manage to get home in one piece without anyone shoving a suitcase through it or something. I told you. We're afflicted.) We paid $15.00 for it and you'd of thought it was a Rembrandt, the way we fawned all over it. lol We got this next one at the Antique Mall in Benbrook, Texas. It was marked $75.00 originally, but was on sale for 75% off, which made it $18.75. Randey just had to have it, even if I thought the price was a little high. (I know, I know. There's cheap and then there's really cheap. I'm really cheap when it comes to stuff like this.) When we took it to the register, though, the lady gave us another 75% off, so we only paid $4.69 for it. I've liked it much better ever since then.
This next one is...well, not so great. It's pretty bad, really. But it was only $2.00 and the frame was another $2.00 - four dollars total, baby. Makes it look better and better (she said with her head dipping in shame at her own cheapness).
This next one rates pretty low on my "Happy I Bought It" scale. Sure, I do kind of like the thing, but Randey paid almost $28.00 for it. I had to remind Randey of the joy that comes with cheap-o shopping after this. Geez. He almost ruined our new hobby for me.
I got this next one in Purcell, Oklahoma. I stopped to shop their Main Street antique stores on my way back from my dad's house a few months ago after he'd been in the hospital. I think it cost about $20, which was waaaaaay too much, but I was feeling weak. I've regretted this purchase ever since I made it.
But not nearly as much as I've regretted this one. Talk about a bad painting. Sure. The stupid thing was another $2 find, but even I have to say that, for once, I should have been a little more concerned with quality. What can I say? I got caught up in the moment. It could happen to anybody. Right? Okay - so maybe not.
Luckily, we're running out of room to display our not-so-fine art. As you can see, I've never met a blank piece of wall that I haven't felt the need to cover.
I'm really sort of hoping we've both played out this painting collecting fetish and won't feel the need to further add to our sad little art collection. Even I'm starting to question our sanity (not to mention our taste!)....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

twilight, new moon and eclipse: my reviews...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently finished reading the Stephanie Meyer books, twilight, new moon and eclipse. I was compelled to read them because so many of you recommended them. And when I say "so many of you", I mean a lot of you guys recommended them. I was somewhat taken aback that so many of my blogging buds had read and loved these books. So what could I do? I had to have them. Now, after I tell you what I thought of them, we'll see how many of my blogging buds still like me. lol Warning: If you haven't read the books yet but intend to, you might want to stop reading. Spoilers ahead!!

To begin with, I loved twilight. It was interesting, it was fun and it was even a little bit, well... hot (much to my surprise!), but without any sex, explicit or otherwise. The love story between Edward and Bella was just plain good. I'm not usually big on romance books. In fact, I usually steer pretty clear of them. I like murder and mayhem, thankyouverymuch. But twilight was an exception to that rule. I could hardly put it down after I started it. Luckily, I had new moon waiting in the wings for when I'd finished twilight. Or maybe not so luckily, because new moon didn't really do the same thing for me that twilight did. It was okay...not great, but certainly okay. I guess it was worth reading, but after the delight of twilight, new moon was actually kind of disappointing. I mean Edward took forever and a day to stop with the whole martyrdom thing and Bella very conveniently having a passport (as well as the journey that followed) seemed a bit contrived and it took entirely too long to have them back together again. But, even though I thought most of the book was wasted on Bella and her questionable mental state, it was still a good enough read to have been worth my time. Then came eclipse. Geez. I gotta tell you people, and at the risk of ticking everybody and their sister off, that book almost drove me over the edge. If Bella had fainted one more lousy time or if she'd felt the need to "curl up" in a lap and "be held", either by Edward or Alice or Jacob or anybody else because of the stress of being hunted (while at the same time being oh-so courageous and noble, blah, blah, blah) I thought I'd bite my own neck and drain my own blood just so I wouldn't have to read about her poor, quivering yet brave self for one more minute. But the absolute worst part of it was her "torn between two lovers" dilemma. Hello, Stephanie!!! You were writing a series of books about one of the greatest loves in the whole entire history of love! How can it be considered a "greatest love" if one of the parties of the greatest love duo is also in love with someone else at the same time??? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I mean come on. I had at least bought into believing that Edward and Bella were soulmates, even if I did want to smack Bella around for being a goober so much of the time, and then Meyer up and announces that Bella is in love with Jacob, too. What the hey? You know, if I'm going to be drawn into a romance series, I'd just as soon be rewarded with a romance worth sighing over. Sure, I was doing some sighing here, but it wasn't the "aaahhhh" kind of sighing, it was more the "oh no she did not go there" kind of sighing. Big. Honkin'. Difference.
Of course, having enjoyed about 1/2 of this series thus far (and even taking into account that I suffered through the other half), I'll still be checking out the final book (breaking dawn) when it's released on August 2nd. Why? Because hope springs eternal that Ms. Meyer will redeem herself and bring Bella back from the brink of utter stupidity and into the arms of that cold, marble skinned, hunk of frozen vampire love, Edward. (Hey, who says I'm not a romantic at heart, eh?)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Well, gee, I heard it on the news so it must be true, right?

24 hour news shows may very well have spelled the end to honest and factual news reporting. I'm not the first one to say or think that. Far from it. The 24 hour news channels have to keep the news "fresh" and they have to "beat" their competition to the "big stories". That often means that they forget to check the facts before they air those stories. And that often results in erroneous "reporting" of items that are presented to us, the public, as actual and factual "news". This concerns me for many reasons, not the least being that so much of America relies on these "news" shows for our information about things that actually matter to us as a nation. Things like: which candidate is the best qualified to be our next president? It used to be that you could look to the news to get an understanding of what a candidate stood for, what their goals were, what vision they hoped to implement if elected. You could do that because news anchors and reporters used to be "neutral". They reported the news, period. They didn't try to influence us one way or the another. And they sure didn't tell us their opinions about what a great guy this candidate is or that candidate is. They left the opinion-giving to the editorial folks. When you saw or read an editorial, you knew it was an opinion and not a fact. Nowadays, you can't tell the difference. It's all presented as "news". For instance, during recent election coverage, MSNBC's Chris Matthews all but salivated when he talked about Obama and I damn near wanted to offer him a cigarette when he was done talking about him. When Matthews told viewers how he got "chills up his legs" when he heard Obama speak...well, let's just say I thought that fell into the category of T.M.I. (Too Much Information) and was, in no way, appropriate for a so-called "news" person to say. Meanwhile, he eviscerated Hillary Clinton every chance he got and he spoke as if the Republican front runner, John McCain, would merely be a name on the ballot come November, not a serious candidate to win. Granted, Matthews is more a pundit and a talk-show host than an actual "news" person, but he has (according to him) made "a commitment to cover politics", a commitment he wants to "honor" and that prevents him from "getting involved in actual politics himself". Newsflash for you Chris: You're not covering politics if you're doing more editorializing than reporting. You are, in fact, campaigning under the guise of covering. Big difference.
I generally get my morning news fix from a variety of sources; CBS, ABC, CNN Headline News and FOX. I used to watch NBC in the a.m., but just can't do it anymore. The show grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard and I'm not even sure why. I also used to watch MSNBC's Morning Joe, but had to stop because they weren't imparting any news anymore. They had become yet another part of the Obama for President Campaign. I can't watch FOX exclusively because they are more the "give me a Republican for President - I don't even care which one" school of thought and I can't watch the main CNN channel because they are of the "the whole world is going to hell, it's all the fault of Republicans but Democrats are too flaky to fix the mess we're in so let's just sit here and shake our heads at how much the world hates us" school of thought. I only watch CBS and ABC because, well, least the faces change even if the stories don't. But overall, I come away from my morning news show viewing wondering if what I've heard is really true or if it's unsubstantiated bull hockey. It's gotten to the point where I take all that I've heard, combine it with all that I have read regarding a certain situation and try to figure out what really rings true. What a way to get a view of the world, eh? Oh, and do I have proof that the news really isn't the news anymore? Well, yeah, I think I do. Does anybody remember the recent story (carried by all the networks and cable news) about the kid who supposedly baked LSD and/or pot into some cookies and then delivered them to Ft. Worth area police stations as part of his community service commitment to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)? This story was everywhere - on every channel, on the internet, just everywhere. Well golly gee, a day or so after the story ran, they got the test results on those cookies back. No drugs. What was reported as fact was a mistake. An error. Someone jumped to a wrong conclusion and the media ran with it. Good job, guys. Another story had to do with sightings of great white sharks off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, which just happens to be where they filmed "Jaws". Yeah, the sharks were spotted, beaches were closed, people were all a dither. Quite a coincidence, it being the filming location of one of the scariest shark movies in history. I mean wow! How strange is that? And what potential for a great story, right?!! What if someone was actually attacked there? could just see the news people's eyes glowing at the thought. But wait a tick. The next day came the news that the story was a hoax. Not that I saw anybody reporting that on the morning news, mind you. I read it online. But yeah, it was a falsehood, a fake, an untruth. It was reported as fact, it turns out, it was just some dipstick making stuff up and, again, the media ran with it. (Gosh, they do great work.)
If they don't even bother to get the little stuff correct, how can we trust that they're actually getting the big stuff right, either? But hey listen, don't worry about it too much. I mean, at least the news channels are still reporting on the really important stuff. Stuff like Christie Brinkley's divorce and Angelina Jolie's womb happenings. You know, the stuff of legends. The stuff that makes the world go 'round. And it's brought to you by the people who are determining what information and which stories matter to America today (and shame on us for going along with this drivel!!). Now let me ask you something...are these really the people you're going to rely on to help you determine who you'll vote for to be the leader of the Free World????
Think about it....And before you get all upset with me for talking politics...know this; I don't care who you vote for. Rather, I care that you vote from an informed position, that you believe in your chosen candidate and that you make up your mind based on your research, not some talking head's. Don't just vote for a buzzword. Buzzwords won't change the world, they merely look good on a t-shirt. Don't just vote along political party lines, either. Not all party candidates are worthy of that sort of blind devotion. Scratch that. None of them are. Know the candidate, not just his/her affiliation. And don't just vote for someone because you think it's the right thing to to. Know that it is. Your vote counts, it matters, it's important and voting is a privilege, not a bother.
And that's our story here in beautiful downtown Bugtussle, Texas. Reporting to you live, this is
Now back to you in the newsroom, Jim.

P.S. There, did you see how easy it was for me to fake being a reporter?? LOL