Saturday, May 31, 2008

Apparently the Swiss do have biases

Naturalized U.S. citizens often know more about the nation's culture, history and laws than native-born citizens. This is because prospective citizens must pass a battery of tests, whereas your average natural-born, America-first-and-last xenophobe redneck gets the same thing by virtue of having been born in New Mexico instead of the old one. So why not require them to know, say, the nine Supreme Court justices as well?

"Well, there's Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Sam Scalito, Susan Dey O'Connor, Ted Kennedy, John Paul Jones, that old fella who died in Katrina, Roe and Wade. That's nine, rat?"

If U.S. citizenship had to be earned by all Americans instead of just immigrants, this country might be a very different place. On the other hand, it could be the same place it is now, and we'd have a lot more non-citizens hanging around, sapping our resources, learning in our schools, stealing our jobs at Wal-Mart and whatnot. Hell, some of them might even decide citizenship is too elitist to obtain and decide the South won after all. Fiddle-de-de, Scarlett!

But I may have changed my mind on this issue. Switzerland, of all places, has such a provision. Not only do they have some of the tightest naturalization requirements on the planet, but even many who were born there and have lived their entire lives in the country can't get citizenship. I'll bet they just love airports!

The Swiss are set to vote (or at least citizens are, I guess?) on ending a five-year moratorium on secret ballots to determine citizenship. Becoming a Swiss citizen is a local affair, and final say often lies with public approval or by secret ballot. Shockingly, secret ballots often result in those with Turkish or African heritage to be rejected, even if they pass all the tests. And have lived in the same town their whole lives.

Switzerland is a direct democracy, and Swiss officials who support reinstating secret ballots say that the right to vote is more important than, say, rights:

For member of parliament Peter Foehn, discrimination is not a problem, as long as people have the right to vote.

"If our people, our voters, have the feeling we've had enough from former Yugoslavia, or wherever, the rest will just have to accept it. The people's decision is final."

Chilling. It really says something that a nation so enamored with prejudice nevertheless has so many native minorities wishing to officially join the fray.

And for Elias, the whole experience has made him question what Switzerland really means by direct democracy.

"How can they do it?" he asks. "They just look at our pictures, and our nationality, and for them that's enough to decide our future? It's not fair. We're living in a democracy, something like that shouldn't be possible."

Now there's a nation that needs democracy. Or something.

Monday, May 26, 2008

New Indiana Jones - is it worth it?

Harrison Ford and his movie-making cohorts are back with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Was it worth it? After 19 years, hardly anything would be. Can anything live up to such hype as this movie has received? Probably not.

But hype is overrated anyway, and the strength of the Indiana Jones series is that it was never meant to be taken seriously in the first place. Doing so will damage your enjoyment of any of the films, especially this one, outright. But if you're looking for escapist adventure, it's hard to top the fedora-clad one. A terrible Indiana Jones flick is still better than most "good" movies.

First, the bad stuff about Crystal Skull; I want to get it out of the way.

The most obvious issue is the casting. Because so much time has passed in the Indy universe, beloved characters have come and gone. The film takes place in 1957, which means the days of Nazi intrigue and lost continents are long past. This element of change helps the movie tremendously, but also requires reams of exposition that bog down the action at times. After all, Indiana's been up to a lot, and we need a reason to care about the new "old friend" next to him.

More so than any previous film, Crystal Skull introduces a flurry of new characters. That's typical for an Indiana Jones flick, of course, but some of these new faces are surrogates for past participants. In particular, Dean Stanforth (Jim Broadbent) is a virtual placeholder for Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott, who died in 1992). Ray Winstone's Mac is a Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) of sorts. And while neither of those new characters would necessarily act the same way as their predecessors, they're similar enough to be the Coy and Vance of this film. No one could replace Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr., and even Connery himself wasn't going to try.

The glut of new characters threatens to crowd out Indy at times, particularly in later scenes. Professor 'Ox' Oxley (John Hurt), Jones' former colleague that we've never heard of before, has gone catatonic by staring into the eyes of the Crystal Skull. Only Indiana can decipher his cryptic Mayan communication, a plot point bordering on overplayed by the time it matters most.

Another gripe: Despite Steven Spielberg's admirable (and mostly effective) attempts to lean on traditional stunts and special effects, some CGI-enhanced parts channel the more ridiculous aspects of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. While the Indiana Jones series has never suffered from a total adherence to reality, some moments in Crystal Skull do bring the term, "jump the shark" to mind.

Despite all of this, however, Crystal Skull is a worthy entry into the Indiana Jones canon. It benefits from the time gap to breathe new life into its aging hero. Early on, Indy - on the run from Soviet agents stealing government swag - stumbles into what he thinks is a small desert neighborhood. He barrels into a house straight out of Leave it to Beaver, complete with Howdy Doody happily blaring on the television. Even before he realizes the people on the couch are dummies and that the area is about to get nuked to oblivion as an experiment, Jones seems hopelessly (and hilariously) lost in the modern suburban kitchen. He's just as out-of-place in the Happy Days malt shop in a subsequent scene, where a classic '50s rumble breaks out. It's hard to imagine Indy uttering the name "Archie" or asking a girl to go with him to the sock-hop. It's equally hard not to marvel at seeing such an icon so out of his element. After three films set in the 1930s, Spielberg has shattered the mold in the best possible way.

There is a plot, involving Dr. Jones' firing from the university and a subsequent run-in with a greaser named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), which leads him into the search for a sacred artifact (hint: it's in the title) and his mom, who turns out to be the long-missed Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). Along the way, the duo run into some other friends, enemies and combinations thereof, Indy gets into trouble with Cate Blanchett, stuff gets destroyed, big magnets attract stuff, ancient monuments come to life, rivals swordfight on top of speeding cars, they fall down massive waterfalls, everyone winds up on the world's largest ant pile, you know, the usual. It's action, and that's what matters. And what has always mattered.

Will there be another sequel? It's hard to say. But if The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles is to be believed, Indy was still kicking into his 90s. That's a lot of history to mine, and if anyone can make Dr. Jones in a disco or an adventure with a grunge-clad grandson palatable, it's Harrison Ford. If not, we'll always have the memories. Thanks, guys.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Short Fuse has his Short List for VP

Reports confirm that John McCain will entertain some guests at his swingin' campaign lair. And though McCain's been mum on the issue, three of those names have attracted considerable attention: Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Of these choices, zero are surprising. Let's take a look:

Charlie Crist - As Florida's governor, he "has never forgotten his humble roots and remains committed to the values that have made America the envy of freedom-loving people for more than two centuries. His public service is defined by tireless devotion to the citizens of Florida, a fundamental belief in the goodness of people, and a rock-solid commitment to the core principles that have allowed his family to succeed—lower taxes, less government and more freedom," according to himself. Good for obvious reasons: his conservative cred, his pull in Florida and his surname's resemblance to a certain Lord and Savior. McCain-Crist '08 has a certain lyrical ring, no?

On the other hand: Many voters might be turned off by idea of a Florida governor on the ticket, given that they think it's still Jeb Bush.

Bobby Jindal - Described by some as the Barack Obama of the Republican Party (though a more accurate parallel might be J.C. Watts), Jindal has made history as the first-ever Indian-American governor, and at 36 is currently the youngest governor in the U.S. He recently appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has been hailed by many as the future of the GOP. His addition to the ticket could counterbalance McCain's (highly) elder statesmanship, as well as debunk well-deserved criticism that the party is the exclusive bastion of angry old white guys.

On the other hand: Bob Dole once said of George Bush in the 1980s, "I offer a record, not a resume." Even with a killer resume, how much of a record can a 36-year-old governor have? Given Jindal's legendary tendency for job-hopping, it's uncertain how long he'd even serve as vice president until something better came along. I'd give it two years, tops. Good luck with that McCain-Ford '12 ticket.

Oh, and did I mention he's the governor of Louisiana? Edwin Edwards' consistent heartbeat is the only thing that kept David Duke out of that capitol. Come on.

Mitt Romney - The ex-governor of Massachusetts is another timely and relevant choice - relatively speaking - for the Republicans. He was thoroughly vetted during his own candidacy, which reduces the likelihood of October surprises. In a campaign dogged by lack of support from core GOP bases, Mitt would bring in big business, as well as the religious right and neocon war hawks currently suspicious of McCain's call for only 100 years in Iraq. Perhaps most importantly, Romney would bring in the support of his five sons, battle-scarred veterans of the campaign trail.

On the other hand: See above. If that's The Change We Deserve, pass the Effexor XR.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Inspired yet?

Watching Hillary Clinton react to her large margin of Pyrrhic victory in Kentucky last night, I couldn't tell if she was rallying the troops or teaching a class in convoluted math:



Granted, Hillary had her moments last night, such as when she said of Ted Kennedy, "He's been with us for our fights, and we're with him now in his." And in the final minute or so of her speech, when she began speaking of uniting America behind common issues. But for the most part, her speech wouldn't have been out of place with a PowerPoint presentation behind it:

"We're winning the popular vote, and I'm more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted."

"I need your help. Your support has made the difference between victory and defeat. Though we have been outspent massively, your support has helped us make our case on the air and on the ground, and your help will keep us going. We've made it this far together, so please go to [everybody chants on cue] hillaryclinton.com!"

"We have to get this right. We have to select a nominee who is best positioned to win in November... Now I'm told that more people have voted for me than for than anyone who's ever run for the Democratic nomination. That's more than 17 million votes."

"And I'm going to keep standing up for the voters in Florida and Michigan. Democrats in those two states cast 2.3 million votes. And they deserve to have those votes counted! And that's why I'm going to keep making our case until we have a nominee, whoever she may be!"

"Kentucky has a knack for picking presidents...It's often been said, 'As Kentucky goes, so goes the nation!'"

"Neither Senator Obama nor I has won the 2,210 delegates required to secure the nomination. And because this race is so close, still separated by less than 200 delegates out of more than 4,400, neither Senator Obama nor I will have reached that magic number when the voting ends on June 3."

"Who's ready to lead our party at the top of our ticket? Who is ready to defeat Senator McCain in the swing states and among swing voters? Who's ready to rebuild the economy and the war in Iraq and protect our national security as commander-in-chief? Who's ready on day one?"

"And I'm thinking again about Dalton Hatfield, the 11-year-old from Kentucky, who sold his bike and his video games to raise money to support my campaign. And then he asked others to give too. And he was able to really give me a boost...Dalton, thank you so much. The $422 you raised helped carry the day in Kentucky!"

My grandfather, a war veteran, received American Legion magazine. Each issue had a point-counterpoint on a military-related issue, pitting (to put it generously) a liberal versus a conservative. The writers rotated, but the template was almost always the same: the writer on the left would appeal to intellect and emotion, while the one on the right would offer enough monetary figures to make you forget what argument they're making in the first place. The oratorical contrast between Clinton and Barack Obama reminds me very much of that.

Bonus observation: At one point in the speech, Clinton voters erupted with, "Yes we will! Yes we will! Yes we will!" Change you can Xerox, indeed. I'm surprised Hillary didn't make a Jay-Z reference.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hamas:Obama::Republicans:McCain

The latest thrilling installment of the "Barack Obama Is Not Like Us" campaign is catching on with ignorant talking heads everywhere! After variously successful attempts to link Obama with Muslim extremism, black separatists, Christian extremism, the anti-National Anthem crowd and the empty-lapel lobby, critics are now absolutely enraptured with their latest group-think catchphrase:

"Hamas supports Obama!"

This latest savory talking point is destined to enter the annals of greatness alongside "His middle name is Hussein," "He went to that church for 20 years!" and "He threw his grandmother under the bus."

This latest phrase may even surpass those legends for sheer red-meat value. After all, who could possibly vote for a U.S. presidential candidate who captures the fancy of a major terrorist organization?

But let's take a look at the comment that provoked the Obama-Hamas row in the first place:

BBC - Hamas spokesman Ahmed Yousef told WABC Radio: "We like Mr Obama. We hope he will [win] the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle."

Great man with great principle? Just like John F. Kennedy, huh? Scary! Almost as scary as when the Kennedys themselves said that!

Still, I understand the underlying fear. Back in 2004, the al-Qaida-splinter Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades endorsed a certain presidential candidate with such strong words and stunning clarity that I couldn't in good conscience vote for him:

“Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization. Because of this we desire you [Bush] to be elected…who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom.” (Reuters, 3/17/04)

Now that's a terroristic endorsement! You'd think these guys could come up with equally strong support for someone like Barack Hussein Obama, especially since he's supposedly one of them and all. It's disappointing, really.

Not to mention, just plain weak. Much like most anti-Obama arguments. And GOP support for John McCain, for that matter.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

And they had such a sterling reputation...

While walking out of a Lafayette restaurant today, I saw that a yelping puppy had been left in a car. The meager crack in the window doubtlessly didn't compensate for the intense Louisiana heat. We crowded around the car, wondering who would do such a horrible thing.

Then I noticed a Blackwater sweater draped over the driver's seat.

Perfect. Too perfect.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'd hate to debate THIS in a Louisiana classroom

I have been lax in blogging lately, mainly because I'm currently visiting Louisiana and my Internet access has been a bit iffy to hedge on a whole blog. That seems to be fixed now. Phew.

My sister is graduating from high school this week, so yesterday we went on a tour of her future college campus. As she and I braved the pouring rain, I pointed out familiar sights and new buildings alike, and ran into a few friendly faces. It was a fun afternoon for both of us, because I got to relive a fond bit of my past (it seems like only three years ago...) and she was able to get a handle on changes ahead.

Shortly before disembarking in Lafayette, I read that Louisiana is mulling a law allowing concealed weapons on campus, while at the same time pondering legislation banning body armor on campus.

Why would anyone advocate for concealed weapons on campus? Protection?

Fair enough. I doubt even the nuttiest NRA groupie wants to foster more mass school shootings. But answer me this: Why would anyone wear body armor? Protection?

Why ban one and not the other?

Convicted felons are not allowed to own guns or wear bulletproof vests. Presumably because both are believed to encourage violence and retribution. Again, fair enough. So why are some legislators encouraging one and not the other among our student bodies? It seems to me that the "protection" argument should apply to armor as well as to guns, especially considering that the former "protects" wearers from the aggressive projectiles of the latter.

What I'm gathering from the body-armor ban is that its proponents are most afraid school shooters will be wearing armor, and will thus be harder to take down. Casting aside the obvious fact that a school shooter is not following laws in the first place (you know, "outlaws" and all that), this idea is especially chilling because it jibes with what I've suspected all along: that gun culture isn't so much about curbing violence as it is about creating a fear-based fantasy where all-American heroes can heroically take down the bad guys in middle American sanctuaries.

In other words, they hope the school shooter will be bare so that generously armed vigilantes can tear that sucker down. Curtain.

If this were not the case, then lawmakers would be sensibly upholding the ban on both weapons and body armor on campuses, rather than calling for more deadly arms and fewer protections against such.

School shootings are tragic. But the thought of my sister being flanked in class by reactionary trigger fingers is every bit as chilling.

I hope the Louisiana legislature learns its lesson before it's too late.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wow. I was not expecting that at all.

While doing some research on the Young Republicans, I found this:

The current Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation, Jessica Colón of Texas, was appointed in August 2007 to serve out the unexpired term of Glenn Murphy Jr. of Indiana, who was elected Chairman at the 2007 national convention but resigned during a criminal investigation for sexually assaulting a sleeping 22-year-old man after a Young Republicans party on 29 July 2007. The next convention, in 2009, will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, were keynote speakers at the Gala banquet in 2006. However, the 2006 convention was also the scene of a crime, in which the head of the Michigan chapter of the Young Republicans, Michael Flory, sexually assaulted a young woman attending the convention.

Such refreshing nonchalance! I figured this must have been written afoul of Wikipedia's typically demanding standards, but the facts seem to vet these out. Furthermore, no equivalence or reprisal can be found on the Young Democrats page.

It's good to know the Adults Are In Charge. Because those boys ain't right.

The single funniest thing I've ever heard on Comedy Central

"The Stupids is brought to you by the U.S. Navy."

Hilarious. On so many levels.

Oh, and I'm 28 today. Conceived in the '70s, born in the '80s. That's me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An Obama bonanza

Maybe it's just the sheer obsession with which I tracked the North Carolina and Indiana primaries last night, but it seems like there's a lot less news this morning about election results than I would have expected. BBC has nothing new, and neither does the AP. On the radio, my local morning-show hosts were breathlessly dissecting the big competition on America's mind - the final four of American Idol (and yes, they do talk politics sometimes, the closet liberals). Perhaps it's because there's actually not that much to say anymore. Take a look at the results of the primaries:

North Carolina
Barack Obama: 56 percent
Hillary Rodham Clinton: 42 percent

Indiana
Clinton: 51 percent
Obama: 49 percent

(Figures from AP, via BBC)

Riddle: What do you call a two-point victory in a race this close? Defeat.

True, Obama won by a literal touchdown in the Guam caucus, but the burden wasn't on him to blow away his rival on the fair island. Hillary needed a decisive rout in Indiana, if not also North Carolina. She didn't get either. And this was with the twin momentums (momenta? memento? Mentholatum?) of a decisive Pennsylvania victory and Rev. Jeremiah Wright being oh so wrong.

Yesterday, even before the polls closed, Hillary was talking about supporting whoever wins the nomination. And supposedly, her most recent campaign e-mail allegedly doesn't call for funds, despite her coffers being drier than a Steve Martin joke. John McCain long ago chose to focus on attacking Obama rather than her. Not exactly the stuff of confidence.

On the bright side for Hillary, at least she has fervent supporters. John McCain, long ago crowned George W.'s worthy successor, got 77 percent of the vote in N.C. and 73 percent in Indiana, losing a surprising amount of votes to such luminaries as Alan Keyes! (No joke!) If that isn't not party satisfaction, I don't know what is.

By all accounts, it looks as if Barack Obama has weathered this battle the best, and will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. Any other result would not only buck the popular vote at this point, but would defy the tide of superdelegate momentum heading in Obama's direction. Even Hillary's faithful will come around, I think, just as Barack's would if fortunes were reversed.

We still have a long way to go until November. But for the Democrats, it won't seem quite as long.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Irritating things

--People who say that there is no good choice in the 2008 election. Granted, I can understand this attitude among the Armageddon crowd who thinks John McCain is too liberal because they think everyone to the left of Lucifer is liberal. But why some progressives and libertarians say there is no choice is beyond me. You mean, you aren't happy with either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Really? Rock-star change icon versus ex-First Lady? When will the major parties finally break the mold of grizzled old white men and put their trust in someone who wants to change politics from the bottom up, huh? It's always the lesser of two evils, man! Hold your nose and vote. Yeah. Things will never, uh, change.

--Obama critics who say he stands for nothing, but then say he's a socialist/Marxist with a vicious America-hating streak. He can't be both. Pick one.

--Any Democrat who says they'll vote for McCain if Obama/Clinton is not nominated. I've seen polls that suggest as many as 30 percent of partisans would do that. I don't get it. Did we lower the voting age to bring in My Super Sweet 16 drama queens?

--The photo-ID law for voting. Yeah, I understand the concern of voter fraud. But this seems to come up mainly during Democratic ballots by the same people who thought the 2000 election was A-OK. The problem with requiring photo ID is that not everyone can afford it and/or make the trip to an office to get one. Sure, this is the post-9/11 age when everyone's supposed to assume you're suspicious, but let's put this in context here. As recently as 1986, New York and Kentucky were just starting to require photos on driver's licenses. Some states, such as New Jersey, still offer options for photo-free cards. Most of these options are aimed at the elderly, mainly because of tenure. My grandmother lived to 86, was an active voter until the age of 80 and never had a driver's license or ID card. When I think of mandatory-photo-ID rules, I don't think of Mohammad Atta being turned away; I think of my grandmother. Anyway, Atta had a valid Florida driver's license. What's the point? Which brings me to:

--The "everyone's a suspect" attitude. In the past few years, we've been asked to look out for potential terrorism. At the same time, we're increasingly being asked for more and more proof of who we are in everyday situations. Has it helped things? Hard to tell. What isn't hard to tell is that Americans are increasingly antagonistic, not only to foreigners, but to each other. We've become so used to defining others negatively against ourselves, that it's subconscious. And because Those People are Not Us, we put the burden on them to prove that they aren't criminals in a given situation. What a way to live. But I guess it's been worth it since no one's knocked down any Twin Towers since 9/11.

--Speed van apologists. In my hometown of Lafayette, LA, an Australian company called RedFlex has teamed up with local politicians to park vans at random thoroughfares and snap motion-sensor pictures of people speeding. The owner of the car eventually receives a citation in the mail, complete with full-color digital photo of the offending driver and a rear shot of their license plate. The $25 fine is a civil infraction, not a criminal one, which they claim as a selling point. In reality, the program has more flaws than a 1985 Yugo: accusations of incorrectly calibrated photos; the city having to hire employees to sift through the photos, despite claims that no taxpayer dollars would be involved; the ruled unconstitutionality of the system in Florida and other states; the almost inverse correlation between accident rates and van placement; documented cases of yellow lights being shortened at camera intersections; the notion of private, foreign corporations dipping into local law enforcement; the failure of cameras to catch drunken drivers at the most crucial time; the willingness of offenders to pay $25 a pop for the right to break laws repeatedly; the alleged cash bonanza this has been for beleaguered city officials; and, of course, the question of what such a dubious program will invite in the future. But, of course, the apologists among us have a pat answer for all that: "Just don't speed or run red lights." Well, OK, then, pilgrim!

--People who can't tell the difference between a good law and a stupid one. Speed vans notwithstanding, traffic laws are good. We need traffic signals, stop signs, lane markers and speed limits to ensure that traffic flows as safely as possible. You don't want anarchy in the city when thousands of people are driving metal missiles. On the other hand, the "Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am" law, requiring schoolchildren to be superficially polite, is stupid. There are lots of laws and rules out there that seem to serve no purpose. Opposing them does not make one an anarchist. Such subtleties are all but lost in today's political discourse.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Copyright 1987, me

Contrary to what some of you might think from reading this blog, I didn't begin my writing career at 24 years old. In fact, I've been blogging since I was seven years old - of course, back then they called it "writing a story" and instead of a computer, we whippersnappers used what was called "paper." This was in 1987, well before the paperless society that we've all come to enjoy today.

It was also, obviously, before my political awakening, which didn't happen until I was eight. So what did I write about? The luck I had, of course! I'm known for my luck the world over.

The first of two stories I shall share today is an account of a true event. It happened at a bowling alley in between gutter balls. Three things you should know before delving into this tome:

1) By "vendor," I mean, "claw machine." It was next to Bubble Bobble.
2) Colin is my brother, not a random stranger.
3) My mom was actually 34 when this happened.


How I Got the Animal Out of the Vendor

One day I put 25 cents in the vendor. I got a cat. I named her Purry. This is the story of how I got Purry.

I was at the bowling alley. I wanted a chance at the vendor. Mom didn't mind me taking a chance at it. So she gave me 50 cents. That's 2 chances.

I put 25 cents in. I pressed the (up) button. The claw grabbed the cat. The claw came back and dropped Purry. I got it, saying "yeah" in shock when Colin asked "You got something?" I was so excited.

And Mom said in shock, "That's the first time in 36 years!"

(Curtain)

Believe it or not, I actually won stuff from a claw machine two or three more times in the ensuing years, or 52 times if you count that one with the candy that wins every time. I must have played that one a hundred times...

This next story is a little different. For this one, I wanted to show off my more pastoral literary skills, as well as my ability to infiltrate my pen into the world of someone completely different than myself. And thus you have...


The Woman and the Cornbread

Once upon a time there was a woman. She wanted to make a cornbread. She got the recipe card. She got the flour, and the pot and the other stuff. She put the stove to six degrees. The woman put some hot water into the pot. Then the cornbread was ready in five minutes. Then she ate it at the time she went outside. She saw the sun and her mom's old house. She saw the trees and grass. She saw the country from the barn she lived in. The cornbread was excellent when she had it with milk. It was still not gone for two hours. It was yummy.

I recall several stories I wrote around this time involved cornbread. While I can see its purpose in this story (after all, the title sort of necessitates at least a cornbread cameo), it was a bit of a stretch to put it in the others. Hell, I didn't even like cornbread!

I'd love to share those other stories with you, but I don't think any of them still exist. I do remember that one involved a town losing its phone service for a month because its power lines fell down; another involved Valentine's Day at school (where they had cornbread and punch); one had animals playing a made-up card game for days at a time; and yet another was about someone named "Mrs. Peter."

There was also the comic strip "Math Cookie and Cornbread," but that was a school project. Honest!