the best film opening EVER

May 31, 2010

now, i want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. he won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. men, all this stuff you’ve heard about america not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. americans traditionally love to fight. all real americans love the sting of battle. when you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball player, the toughest boxer. americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. americans play to win all the time. i wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. that’s why americans have never lost and will never lose a war. because the very thought of losing is hateful to americans.

now, an army is a team. it lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. this individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. the bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the
saturday evening post don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating.

we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit and the best men in the world. you know, by god i actually pity those poor bastards we’re going up against. by god, i do. we’re not just going to shoot the bastards, we’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. we’re going to murder those lousy hun bastards by the bushel.

now, some of you boys, i know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. don't worry about it. i can assure you that you will all do your duty. the nazis are the enemy. wade into them. spill their blood. shoot them in the belly. when you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.

now there’s another thing i want you to remember. i don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. we’re not holding anything. let the hun do that. we are advancing constantly, and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. we're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. we're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose.

there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home. and you may thank god for it. thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you what did you do in the great world war ii, you won’t have to say, well, i shoveled shit in louisiana.

alright now, you sons of bitches, you know how i feel. oh, and i will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle – anytime, anywhere.

that’s all.

the griffin inquisition

several years ago, i took a nonfiction creative writing course at the university of texas at san antonio. for our final project, we had to write a memoir. not knowing what to write about myself, i invited two dozen people -- friends and family -- to each pose a question to me. something that didn't require a yes or no answer. something they didn't already know about me.

we will begin with my mama's question and my reply. kind of fitting since it's the last day of may, don't you think? and if you've got a question for me to which you'd like to know the answer (that doesn't require a yes or no), email it to me: i'll be happy to include it in a future post.

for the sake of time, and for your viewing pleasure, you get caps again. yay, right?

If you could change one thing about your childhood, what would it be and how would that change impact your life today?

I would have loved myself.

I would have been able to look in the mirror and smile at my reflection. Not to test out how the smile looked on my face, when inside it felt empty, false, even somewhat hideous. But to smile as if I thought of myself as being beautiful.

You have always thought of me as such.

For a brief time, I thought of myself this way. When I was a toddler, still innocent, still in awe of nature and the size of my world and everything in it, I smiled and it was genuine.

I know this, because I’ve seen pictures of it.

There’s one of me, as a toddler, sitting on the dining room table next to the daisy-shaped cake you had made for me.

You can tell me of how you slaved over it, about how difficult it had been to make it, what day it had been that was so special that I’d asked for it, how old I was at the time, where we lived.

I can tell you that every time I look at it, I am amazed by the beautiful child I was, by the brightness of my smile.

The picture is luminous, really. At least, to me.

On my ugliest days, those when I’ve forgotten how to smile, or have seen no purpose for doing so, days when my world has been gray, my thoughts black, and I’ve felt as though I am nothing but boiling, bubbling liquid inside, I stare in awe at this picture. This memory of happiness held up on my refrigerator by one of those plastic magnetized frames. Sometimes, this immense longing to feel as I had done that day, just that happy, just that beautiful, just that perfect….Sometimes the longing, the regret that I can’t overwhelm so much that trickles of tears etch canyons into my cheeks and rivers of them form lakes on the neck and shoulders of my tee-shirts. On days like this, I can do no more than take the picture, still kept safely in its plastic frame and grasp it in my hand and hold it to my breast and cry.

On my prettiest days, those when I feel some semblance of that happiness, that beauty, that perfection, I run my finger along a child-sized cheek and think, I know you.

Those days are so much more preferable.

For awhile, I was innocent, carefree, happy, beautiful. Then, I became aware that I was not beautiful, because my peers were kind enough to point out my many physical short-comings. I became aware that I was fragile, clumsy, easily scarred, both mentally and physically. That my body was not made like everyone else’s and being different, however unintentional, was wrong.

My belly button stuck out.

You would take my brothers and I swimming at the community pool in the warmer months, so long as it wasn’t raining. So long as we’d behaved ourselves and tried to take our naps earlier in the day.

Back then, I had a bikini, a red one with buttons printed on it in varying colors and sizes. I loved my bikini. It was cute and fun, like me. Bright, colorful.

As I got older and more observant, I noticed the things that made the other girls at the pool different, like the color of their hair and eyes and skin. Mostly, I noticed that most of the girls’ belly buttons didn’t stick out like mine did. So I poked at the buttons on my bikini that were flat like theirs were, then poked hard at my belly button so that it would go in and be flat, too. But it never stayed. I would look up at you in wonder at first, and then in consternation later, and ask, Mommy, why does my belly button stick out? I did this often. Mostly because I knew it was wrong. It wasn’t supposed to do that.

But you would always give the same answer: There is nothing wrong with you. That that’s just the way you’re made.

I stopped wearing bikinis. Haven’t worn one since.

I noticed, too, that my knees were crooked. At least, that’s how I’d thought of them as a child. Others’ were straight. But when I would sit down on the ground with my legs straight out in front of me and my feet pointing straight up at the sky, my knees practically faced each other. Most children sat on their feet, their legs drawn up underneath them; I sat on my butt, with my legs bent so that the heels of my feet pressed against my hips. The only way I can say it so that it makes sense is to compare the position of my legs to the letter w. My friends always asked if it hurt to sit like that.

No, I’d say. It’s comfy. But I thought of the crookedness of my knees. I’d ask and get the same reply.

There’s nothing wrong with you.

Oh, but there was.

Eyes are not supposed to be crossed, Mother. Hips are not supposed to be so malformed that the ball of the leg bone slips out of the socket of the hip joint with every movement. Skin isn’t supposed to be yellow. Knees shouldn’t be out of alignment with the hips and ankles. Bones shouldn’t have holes in them that are filled with tissue. Ligaments aren’t supposed to be too tight or too lose. The muscles of one’s eyelids shouldn’t be so weak that they droop, making it difficult to see things.

Thirty-one year old women haven’t usually had six surgeries in their lifetimes -- four by the age of thirteen. They don’t usually bear twenty some odd scars from those surgeries.

We’ve never seen eye to eye on this one, Mom. Perhaps we never will. But I understand what you’ve been trying to tell me, I know what you’ll say every time we have this debate. I know, like I could pinpoint and trace every one of those scars with clothes on and my eyes closed. I know.

Be thankful. There are people who cannot walk. There are people who cannot see. You can do so many things. Why are you never grateful for this?

Because I see these things as marks of failure, Mother. Not because I was built wrong, though that is part of it, I suppose. I’ve never understood why I couldn’t have been built right. But I do know that I’m not supposed to understand this. Only that I should accept it. I’m trying. But it’s difficult to do when I’ve become so certain that something else is going to break. Something that’s already been mended will have to be mended again. I hate that. Why couldn’t it have been fixed for good the first time? I can’t understand it, and because it’s important to me that I be able to understand in order to accept…


I just got it.

I couldn’t understand myself, couldn’t accept myself, and so the world I knew outside of my family couldn’t understand or accept me.

Thirty-one years of this, and I just got it. God, I feel stupid.

It’s so cliché, really. So right-there-in-front-of-my-face. If you can’t love you, nobody else can. How many times have I heard that one?

But, Mama, I’ve hated these scars for decades. It’s really hard to stop hating something when I’ve gotten to be so good at it, when I’ve no idea how to do anything else but that.

And it’s not just the scars. It’s the shyness, the fear, the sense of inadequacy. So many people have thought, have told me I’m never going to amount to anything. I’ve heard it so much I can’t not believe it. How do I start believing otherwise when I’ve convinced myself that this worthlessness is truth?

I was so angry that my peers never gave me a chance. Cast out before I’d even really had a chance to say, Hello. They gave up on me.

I gave up on myself.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster —Nietzsche.

And in trying to live through all that hell that is loneliness and rejection and one medical dilemma after another, after spending so much time fighting them, I’ve become them.

I should’ve been more careful. If I’d loved myself, loved those things that made me different instead of wondering about them, then hating them, I think my life would be drastically different.

You wouldn’t have had to lecture me so much about having pride in my appearance when I was younger. Or harassed me about doing better in school. I would’ve been okay being solitary. There is a difference between solitary and alone, you know. I would’ve learned to find beauty in everything, not just some things. Wouldn’t be so angry, so scared, so ashamed and alone. I imagine I’d be feeling beautifully happy right about now, instead of trying to figure out how to deal with all these ugly thoughts in my head. I’d be more selfless, more thoughtful, more compassionate. I’d be good, Mother. If I’d learned to love myself in my childhood, I’d be good, now, even with those flaws.

this week's wisdom

May 27, 2010

most assuredly, i say to you, he who believes
in me, the works that i do he will do also; and
greater works than these he will do, because i
go to my father. and whatever you ask in my
name, that i will do that the father may be
glorified in the son. if you ask anything in my
name, i will do it. if you love me, keep my
commandments. and i will pray the father, and
he will give you another helper, that he may
abide with you forever (john 14:12-16).

random quarter

May 25, 2010

one. i don't like the psychic network.

two. i took clarinet lessons in sixth grade. or maybe it was fifth. i can't remember.

three. i hate the clarinet.

four. my first concert was u2's zooropa tour in kansas city.

five. i think u2 need (needs? i can never remember what sort of verb you use with a collective noun that has a singular vibe) to retire.

six. along with bon jovi. actually, more bon jovi than u2.

seven. i do NOT think harrison ford is sexy. haven't thought so in any of his films since star wars: episode vi - return of the jedi. didn't think so when that movie came out, either. i was ten. i thought he was funny. not in a comedic way, but in a that-dude's-crazy-cool way. now, though, now i'm all about han solo. and he's still crazy-cool.

eight. luke had nothing on him. well, okay, except the force.

nine. i don't like flowers in the house because i'd rather they be alive and kicking outside, not dead and wilting inside.

ten. my brothers and i would play ms. pacman on the atari every morning before school. this is one of the few good memories i have of my childhood.

eleven. i read nora roberts' dream trilogy every year, usually in the spring.

twelve. charles dickens' our mutual friend is my favorite book. i've only read it once. i don't want to read it again because the memories of reading it are good memories in a time during which my outlook on life was mostly bleak. but when i think of reading that book, i am reminded of what makes me good. i am reminded of what makes life good.

thirteen. i haven't slept with a man in more months than i'd care to admit here.

fourteen. i went to the bathroom and cried after nearly every class period from fifth grade to tenth.

fifteen. i don't have any tattoos. i want one. something celtic. but i doubt i will ever get one.

sixteen. i like pringles, hate hostess products, and coke. never pepsi.

seventeen. these items decorate the walls of my room: a painting by my paternal grandmother, a bulletin board covered with papers and pictures of my niece and nephew, a clock my maternal great uncle made, a virginia stroud print my mother gave me, flavia prints my maternal grandmother gave me, a dried sunflower floral arrangement.

eighteen. three best qualities: intelligence, compassion, generosity.

nineteen. three worst: insecurity, temper, laziness.

twenty. three words others have used to describe me: effervescent, bright, inspiring.

twenty-one. three words used to describe my ideal self: independent, successful, content.

twenty-two. three things for which i am often complimented: smile, writing skills, sense of style.

twenty-three. the number of drinks that constitutes my limit: three.

twenty-four. worst physical feature: posture.

twenty-five. best physical feature: smile.

this week's wisdom

May 19, 2010

so nie nie needs a new neck.

wow. how's that for alliteration?

getting this new neck means doctors put a balloon in her back to stretch the skin and expanded it every so often. she was supposed to have it expanded one more time before they could do the surgery that would give her that new neck, but hunchie, as she calls it, got infected. so i guess they're doing the surgery this week.

she's a little nervous. and apparently this surgery's a pretty big deal. so i thought maybe she could use some prayers. the more the merrier, right? maybe you should read about it from her. she probably explains it a lot better. do that here. and for those of you late to the party and are wondering who nie nie is, go here.

today's tune is brought to you by mat kearney.

closer to love
she got the call today
one out of the gray
and when the smoke cleared
it took her breath away
she said she didn't believe
it could happen to me
i guess we're all one phone call
from our knees
we're gonna get there soon
if every building falls
and all the stars fade
we'll still be singing this song
the one they can't take away
i'm gonna get there soon
she's gonna be there, too
crying in her room
praying, lord come through
we're gonna get there soon
it's your light

it's your way
pull me out of the dark
just to shoulder the weight
crying out now
from so far away
you pull me closer to love
meet me once again
down off lake michigan
where we could feel the storm blowing
down with the wind
and don't apologize
for all the tears you've cried
you've been way too strong now

for all your life
i'm gonna get there soon
you're gonna be there, too
cause you are all that
i've waited for
all of my life

and now for the wisdom...

(don't you just love it when i do long posts?)

therefore comfort each other and edify one
another, just as you also are doing.
and we urge you, brethren, to recognize
those who labor among you, and are over you
in the lord and to admonish you, and to esteem
them very highly in love for their work's sake.
be at peace among yourselves (1 thessalonians 5:11-13).

random quarter

May 15, 2010

one. i have obsessive compulsive disorder.

two. cleaning my room is a pain in the ass because i can't just clean it. i have to organize it, which means i could spend a week doing something that would take someone else a few hours.

three. but once in a blue moon, i can say screw it and get it done. after christmas, for example, i put on layaway a four-hundred dollar bookcase i found at a local, pretty upscale furniture store. it took me longer to pay for the thing because i have been unemployed for two months and...

four. i spend money faster than i make it.

five. ...i finally get the thing paid off, and it's delivered friday morning, and all my cds and dvds which have been stored in those cardboard dumps i snagged from the evil empire (my previous place of employment) went, somewhat artfully though not alphabetically, onto the shelves of that bookcase. i'm sitting in bed now, and i can see the thing to my left, out of the corner of my eye...i am not straight! it says. i am not right! i am ignoring this for the time being, because fixing it means i'd have to go through all my cds and download them to itunes and hock the ones to which i no longer listen, and then alphabetize them and then put them all back on the shelf. oh the headache!

six. i get headaches all the time.

seven. i thought if i quit smoking, the headaches would stop.

eight. i hope beastly the movie is better than beastly the book. (it wasn't, by the way.)

nine. most of the time i feel more like a beast than a beauty.

ten. i don't understand why an author would think changing the time period of a story would be enough of a change to merit yet another version of it.

eleven. i cannot stand taylor swift.

twelve. and yet, i've got love story in my head.

thirteen. i expect chick flicks to be good, and am almost always disappointed because they're aren't.

fourteen. chris egan reminds me a little of heath ledger. egan's much prettier than ledger, and i doubt he could play dark and twisty as well, but...the similarities in their facial structures are pretty remarkable.

fifteen. amanda seyfried annoys me.

sixteen. i rented leap year the other day for a five-day period, because i thought perhaps that would keep me from incurring late fees. i've not watched it since the night i rented it. i believe it was due back yesterday.

seventeen. i'm scared of everything.

eighteen. which means i try to control everything.

nineteen. strawberry cake with chocolate icing is the best (which could be why i like groom's cake ice cream so much).

twenty. i hate shopping for clothes.

twenty-one. almost as much as i hate shopping for shoes.

twenty-two. at first, i thought the lead singer for silversun pickups was a girl. i know. silly me.

twenty-three. if there is a thing i shouldn't say in a situation, chances are really quite good that i will say it.

twenty-four. having said the thing will most likely cause irreparable damage.

twenty-five. i can't figure out if i do that on purpose. probably. because of that scared-of-everything thing. but it could also be because of that silly-me thing, too. so, i don't know.

this week's wisdom

May 13, 2010

so my previous post and the most recent one by teachinfourth got me thinking of my brother, of kyle field and of the power a group of people has when united.

this is kyle field on september twenty-second, two thousand-one -- the first game for the aggies after the september eleventh attacks. students organized the red, white and blue-out. each deck was assigned a different color shirt to be worn for the game against oklahoma state. more than one hundred-fifty thousand dollars was raised in shirt sales, which was donated to fire department new york charities.

isn't that impressive? all in a short day's work, right?

and it's such a pretty picture. but then, any picture of kyle field is pretty, even when there're stupid longhorns in the stadium.

wait on the lord,
and keep his way,
and he shall exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
i have seen the wicked in great power,
and spreading himself like a native green tree.
yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
indeed i sought him, but he could not be found.

mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
for the future of that man is peace.

but the salvation of the righteous is from the lord;
he is their strength in the time of trouble.
and the lord shall help them and deliver them;
he shall deliver them from the wicked,
and save them,
because they trust in him (psalm 37:34-37, 39-40).

meet the monk

May 11, 2010

and these three fine lads, these would be the three troublemakers of my great-grandma's brood: the monk, teo and joe.

i have the best great uncles in the world. the monk, though, he's the best of the best. :]

read about him here.

random quarter

May 4, 2010

one. you know those cardboard dumps you see in bookstores? the ones that hold newly released paperbacks in a box divided into sixths or eighths, propped on flimsy easels and topped with flimsier images which are partially obstructed by the book's title and author information? my cd/dvd racks are in storage, at the back of a ten-by-fifteen unit which is crammed full of my shit or my parents'. way at the back. crammed FULL, i tell you. so i won't be braving the chaos to get three little measly racks, i thought (years ago...because it's been years since i've had my own place), when one of those cardboard boxes would work just fine. there are now seven of them -- three black, two brown, one royal blue and one this incredibly, ridiculously bright red. my cds and dvds are in these boxes which line the beautifully painted walls of my room. perhaps if my room didn't have this hobo feel to it, i might be inclined to keep it less chaotically.

two. for the superbowl, as i was rooting for the saints, i wore a black mini skirt, a black tee-shirt and a kickass black and gold jacket. (i had to work, otherwise, it would've been blue jeans and the black tee-shirt). it's not my usual flavor, this jacket. it's a style that i would normally classify as a little too girly, a little too rich and pomp and circumstance and ornate for my tastes. right now, it's hanging on the back of the chair in front of my desk. right now, i'm looking at it, and i'm thinking it looks like really bad wallpaper. but the thing's built like a pirate coat, so the gold of the print loses the lameness when you put it on. and the coat makes me look like i have more shoulders than i really do....

three. i'm really self-conscious about my shoulders.

four. probably because i have such horrible posture, and they roll forward quite a bit.

five. and because i swam breaststroke.

six. and i got picked on a lot as a kid, and kind of curled myself inward or something.

seven. and probably because i sleep on my side, curled up in a ball, with my arms all contorted.

eight. and because i always had to have my coach's help when it came time to doing the bench press when we did weights before swim practice. (i literally began my freshman year benching less than ten, folks. that's how much of a pansy i was.) :]

nine. ...anyway, the thing's been hanging on that chair since ... what? january? february? this is how good a housekeeper i am.

ten. i don't keep up with my tivo as well as i should. today, for example, i burned four episodes -- three of white collar (one of which had been on there since the last week in february...and i'm pretty sure it got killed, and i can understand why...every episode seems to be a regurgitation of the previous...but i'd saved them for my mommy) and one of life unexpected (which i have a really bad feeling it got cancelled, and i'm kind of bummed about that). the white collar episodes i'd not watched yet. but they were taking up valuable space. i kept losing shows because tivo would kill them before i'd had a chance to watch them. (of course, given that i'm less and less impressed with private practice and grey's anatomy, there are two that might not be on season pass for too much longer, which would be cool. then maybe i could go back to watching the mentalist and bones, assuming they don't come on at the same luck they probably do).

eleven. i find myself supremely irritated when people confuse there, their and they're and your and you're (that one bothers me so much more the others), and yet, i catch myself making this mistake more and more frequently.

twelve. i have about a dozen baseball caps, most of which were given by family members. the only one i wear is my aggie cap.

thirteen. when i wear a baseball cap, i feel small and frumpy. so i really only wear it in the fall at the games.

fourteen. i got season tickets to kyle field. i am SO excited! (three months to football season! WHOOP!)

fifteen. i almost always feel like i've failed at everything. it makes it hard to pick myself up and dust myself off and try again. i don't always see the point in it cause the picking myself up again seems to be inevitable. (and yeah, i know. prolly cause i jinx myself.)

sixteen. i wish i could wear my boots all year long.

seventeen. i wish they weren't falling apart.

eighteen. i wish jessica simpson still made them.

nineteen. i'm somewhat embarrassed to say i own anything that jessica simpson made, but these, these are kickass boots. i get tons and tons of compliments on them, even in their fallingapartness.

twenty. i love that i can hear the cars passing on the freeway from my house.

twenty-one. i love that when you're in my front yard, it doesn't feel like the freeway's so close.

twenty-two. ceiling fans make my eyeballs dry out.

twenty-three. but without them, i get crazy, crazy hot when i sleep.

twenty-four. red oak trees are my favorites, then post oaks, then magnolias, then sweet gums, then dogwoods (but dogwoods don't like the climate down here so much, i guess.)

twenty-five. i hate those web advertisements that make noise. i'm all in deep concentration and there's congratulations! you've won! i don't give a shit. shut up.

this week's wisdom

my brethren, count it all joy when you fall
into various trials, knowing that the testing of
your faith produces patience. but let patience
have its perfect work, that you may be perfect
and complete, lacking nothing. if any of you
lacks wisdom, let him ask of god, who gives to
all liberally and without reproach, and it will
be given to him (james 1:2-5).

two things. i tweet now. i know. you're thrilled. yay. look for criticalcrass.

picky has lost the blogspot part of its web address. so for those ( of my friends is jonesing for three hundred. i'd be happy with thirty) of you following, you might need to make adjustments: doesn't that sound better? do i really care if you think so? (this is where c.c. shakes her head.)