Friday, December 30, 2005

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I just finished In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, the sixth book in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency book series. Katie and I have both read all six, and I just adore this series. It follows the life of Precious Ramotswe and her friends and family. Mma Ramotswe is, of course, Botswana’a first Lady Detective (fictional, sadly. I would love to think she is real).

The series is written by Alexander McCall Smith, who himself has spent many years in Botswana and clearly was enchanted by the country around him. These are “mystery books” in the loosest sense. Yes, there are detective stories within, but with each book, the cases become less and less as the series inceasingly focuses on the personal goings on of the main characters. The prose is simple yet eloquent, the setting is (too use the word again) enchanting, and the characters are people you wish were your friends. To read these stories is too escape from the maddening world just a bit.

The first three books were marvelous, then the series started to falter a little in the fourth book. The fifth book seemed to calculated in its attempt to be charming (I expect to entice new readers to the quirky series, while inadvertently slightly putting-off the long-time fans). Both #4 and #5 were still enjoyable, don’t get me wrong. Very good. But Book #6 is back on track, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

These books are also important to me in that the first books in this series (along with Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible) were the books that made me think “Hmm, I might want to know more about Africa.” And for those who know me, y’all know I cannot put into words how important that thought has been in my life. So please check them out. The books title are below:

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
The Full Cupboard of Life
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

The Black Eyed Peas are Dead to Me

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
It breaks my hip-hop lovin' heart to say it, but the Black Eyed Peas are indeed dead to me. How has this happened, the abandonment of a band whose first two albums Behind the Front and Bridging the Gap) are still great works in the hip-hop pantheon (at least in my humble opinion)? A band that I have seen in concert not once but TWICE?

The sad fact is that they have started to, well, suck more and more with each album. Elephunk was OK, but I didn't like it all that much, and though I have not heard their last album in its entirety, let's just say that it is probably all terrible. Why do I make this harsh assumption? One major piece of evidence that has recently (and painfully) come to my full notice. I had read about it, heard about it, but only this last week did I actually hear it: "My Humps." Yep, that's it. A song about Fergie's T & A. Don't get me wrong, she's pretty hot, but DAMMIT, don't sing a whole song about your tits. And guys in the group, you have written SO MUCH BETTER LYRICS than "Whatcha gonna do with all that ass?" (6x, thank you).

Where's the socially conscious lyrics? The clever wordplay? The songs not about Fergie's "lady lumps?" I won't blame it all on Fergie- in fact, I thought she would make a good addition- but that potential has failed to materialize. Since she has shown up, the band has sucked. I know guys do dumb things when they're around a hot chick. Maybe that's what's happened to their TALENT.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Jesus Ain't The Only One With a X-mas Birthday...

...Though His is undoubtedly more important than mine. Nonetheless, December 22 was my birthday, and I turned the ripe old age of 29! I’d like to thank everyone who called, sent gifts, birthday wishes, or organized impromptu family performances of “Happy Birthday” via the telephone. It made my day very enjoyable. On my birthday, we traveled to Jackson to get Erica and Fuzzy from the airport. We had a great lunch and played a riveting game of mini-golf. And mom became obsessed with a whoopee putty we found on the course. If you’re wondering what it does, your first guess is probably right on the money.

Christmas Reflections

Christmas at the Reids
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, it’s been awhile since I have posted, and lots has been going on these last few weeks. December 21 – 27 Katie and I were in Mississippi spending the holidays with my family. Erica’s fiancĂ© Fuzzy has posted a really nice set of photos from the trip (though I swiped one for my post- Thanks, Fuzzy!) Click here to see the pictures.

I will resist boring you with the minutia of each day we were home, but the trip was a good one. It has gotten me thinking about the last time we were all together at Christmas. First of all, the last Christmas the whole family was together in Vicksburg was- to me, at least- a tense holiday (which was X-mas 2003, pre-Fuzzy and before Dad’s cancer). We had fun, but I remember a distinct feeling of disappointment when we left. It seemed to me that the whole visit was full of passive-aggressive moments and that everyone was somehow put off with everyone else. It puzzled me at the time, but in retrospect, I think it was because we were all together as“adults” for the first time. Us “kids” had moved away, we had our own lives, our own interests, and our own goals. Our parents had continued to do their own thing. Erica and I- so very close and similar to one another for most of our lives- had taken paths that diverged in some crucial areas. We were all still incredibly close, but when we were all back together, everyone expected that we would all be the versions of ourselves that we had been years ago. And we weren’t, and I think it almost seemed a betrayal of sorts at the time. “What has happened to YOU?” Though it was good to see everyone, it was a sad trip for me. Others may not agree with this assessment, but this was my personal take on that particular trip.

Luckily, in the years that have followed, it seems everyone has grown much more comfortable with who the others have become. This year was the first trip that both my parents, Erica and Fuzzy, and Katie and I were all together at the same time. It was a really good trip and a really good balance was struck between “old” and “new.” We were all true to ourselves, and folks seemed genuinely happy to be in the presence of the others. We got to see family (immediate and extended) and friends (Ian, Alex, Barbara, Melissa, Palmer, Aron, Daniel Boone, etc), got to share stories, watch movies, and got to know each other even better.

So who knows what the next few years will hold? Katie and I may be overseas for the next few years. Dad’s health may take a turn for the worse (though we obviously hope and pray this is not the case). There are many major unknowns in the future (aren’t there always?), but these unknowns made this visit that much more meaningful. I love my family, and feel blessed that we all could work it out to be home for this visit.

A few other points:
Fuzzy is a welcome addition to the family, and as we get to know him more and more, I see why my sister adores him so much. He’s a great guy, and they really are a good couple.

My father was, is, and will continue to be a role model for me. I am who I am because of the influence of my dad (and my mom, too, of course). But as a guy, there is a peculiar relationship between father and son. So when my dad tells me I am an inspiration to HIM, I am speechless. It is an honor that I cannot put into words.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This Is Why Jeremy Mucha' Is One Of My Favorite People on the Planet

From Jeremy's blog, Enter the Hardqore:

today was dress-up day at work. roles were assigned, and the masses were alerted. yours truly was the only one hardqore enough to actually do it. mama elf hooked me up like flying gumdrops. sweeter than maple syrup!

Just how hardqore was he? You'll have to click here to find out.

You should really take a moment to visit his blog for the full effect.

Monday, December 19, 2005


X-mas logo
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
And so it came to pass that another successful Reid Christmas party was held this last Saturday evening, December 17th. We had a good crowd, a little less than we were anticipating and less than the number that attended last year, but a good solid mix and friends and acquaintences (about 40 people showed up over the course of the night).

There were a few differences this year, most notably the presence of kids. A few toddlers in the living room kept folks quite occupied by their extreme cuteness, and a few elementary age kids kept people, uh- distracted, as those two little guys tended to run up and punch my other guests when they weren't looking. Nice.

This in fact may be the last of our parties in Columbia, as by next Christmas our plans may take us elsewhere, either to another town, or even another continent. So this evening was a little bittersweet, yet it was still a very fun night. It's always nice to mix up our social groups a bit. We introduce friends from work with friends from church, friends we've known a year to people we've known for almost twenty, older & younger folks, undergrads and professors.

We hope that when the evening was done, hopefully everyone left with that good feeling that comes when people are just nice to each other. Even if these people only see each other once a year at our party, hopefully they enjoy their time together. Katie and I feel that in our own little way maybe we increased the total amount of goodwill in the world just a little. And, ya know, it's fun.

Current Musical Obsession

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
I go out to the mailbox one day, and behold, therein lies a package from Erica and Fuzzy, always exciting but not entirely surprising, in that those two always tend to send me tons of stuff, which is always appreciated. And within this package was several really good albums. Yet slowly but surely one of those albums is consistently played more and more often...

...and THAT album, dear readers, was So Jealous by Tegan and Sara. Holy Smokes, can I not get enough of this album. I will officially say I am a wee bit obsessed. I fully realized it this morning when, after saying to Katie "Let's put some music on" (at which time I put on Tegan and Sara), Katie gave me a look that can only be interpreted as "OH, we're listening to THIS album. Again." And mind you, Katie likes the album. SO I am wearing grooves in my CD (if that's in any way possible). Kinda folky, yet rockin', almost whiny, yet adorable, meek but still kickin' ass, I am totally into these ladies. (Twin sisters, by the way. From Canada. With tattoos. and guitars. Word.)

Other musical miscellany that excites me at this moment:
1. Harvey Danger is back together and their new album has gotten pretty solid reviews.
2. Digable Planets are back together and touring again. This bodes well for Planet Earth (and many other planets as well, for that matter...)

Friday, December 16, 2005


I am pleased to announce a new member of the blogosphere, and if there was ever a person who needs an outlet for his stories and thoughts, it is he. Jeremy Mucha', AKA Cap'n Hardqore, AKA Homeskillet- now has a blog. Show him some love.

On a scary sidenote, I turn 29 next Thursday. Jeremy has been one of my dearest friends for 22 of those years (We met the first day of 2nd grade. Word.)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Today in History: USS Cairo Sinks

USS Cairo
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Today, in Civil War History (which is a large chunk of my home town of Vicksburg's legacy) the USS Cairo was sunk in an attempt to destroy Confederate batteries in Vicksburg, the key to the South's control of the Mississippi River.

From the website for the Vicksburg National Military Park (where the shell of the skeletal Cairo is now display): On the cold morning of December 12, 1862, [Cairo Skipper Thomas O.] Selfridge led a small flotilla up the Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg, to destroy Confederate batteries and clear the channel of torpedoes (underwater mines). As the Cairo reached a point seven miles north of Vicksburg the flotilla came under fire and Selfridge ordered the guns to ready. As the gunboat turned towards shore disaster struck. Cairo was rocked by two explosions in quick succession which tore gaping holes in the ship's hull. Within twelve minutes the ironclad sank into six (6) fathoms (36 feet) of water without any loss of life. Cairo became the first ship in history to be sunk by an electrically detonated torpedo.

The loss of Vicksburg to the North effectively split the Confedaracy in two and ultimately led to the South's defeat. After a long siege, Vicksburg surrendered on July 4th, 1863, consequently shaming the city and thus making an Independence Day celebration in V'burg socially taboo for the next 100 years.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Katie and I went and saw Narnia this afternoon, and I thoroughly recommend this film. With that being said, Katie adored it (her words) and I liked it a whole bunch. I have no major complaints. The story was (to my mind) very faithful to the book. The casting of the children was excellent (and little Lucy is adorable); the effects well-done; the pacing of the plot was very well-balanced, with enough time for character development but without dragging along; and Tilda Swinton as the Ice Queen was appropriately menacing while at the same time exuding an appeal that makes it understandable how someone may be charmed into her clutches (just like, oh, I don’t know- SATAN?!!)

I enjoyed it thoroughly. However, the film didn’t knock my socks off, per se. While everything was good, I found that I just didn’t get “sucked in” to the story so much. Again, this doesn’t mean that I wasn’t engaged by the story, I just wasn’t as emotionally invested as I thought I would be. And though he looked great, the characterization of Aslan the Lion wasn’t quite what I wanted. I love Liam Neeson, but his voice didn’t work for me so much in this film.

With all that being said, everyone should check it out, because it is indeed a good flick, and the messages of the film are good for all ages (messages like: play in your relatives’ expensive antique furniture).


Yes, I am done, and though all the grades are not in at this time , I will be dumb-founded if I didn't pull another straight-A semester. Now for a two week nap...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

King Kong Will Make You Cry

King Kong 1933
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Not that I have seen it yet. But I am betting that there will be a lot of people surprised at how emotionally upsetting the movie will be. And people will cry.

I saw the preview with a group of friends at the screening of HP #4 and even the preview affected me a little, but I know the story. I was surprised, however, that I was the only one of six that had ever seen the original, and some seemed surprised that I said it was going to be an upsetting movie, not just a big budget extavaganza. And I think a lot of that will be due to Peter Jackson and company's handling of the story. But even the original is sad.

I won't give anything away, but keep this in mind. Yes, King Kong is about a big-ass gorilla that smashes up New York. That's a part of it. But King Kong, in my mind, is essentially about exploitation. Man exploiting Nature. People exploiting other people. Profits before all else. Consumerism and the questionable objects of our consumption. And the classic "could vs. should" argument- just because we can do something doesn't mean it should be done.

So keep this in mind. It'll be a special effects extravaganza, without a doubt. But it'll be a tragedy above all else.

December 7th: Lest We Forget...

Tom Waits
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
...Is the birthday of Tom Waits. (and Pearl Harbor Day, I know that.)

I haven't said much about him on this blog thus far, but let it be known that I go through periods where I listen to him constantly and periods where I rarely play his albums, but he is ALWAYS at the top of my list for sheer creativity and musical genre-bending. You just don't get much better. Best concert I've ever seen. Some of my all-time favorite albums and songs were written by this man. I am who I am partly because of this man's influence on me in my late teens (and beyond). So here's hoping he had another good birthday, and many more to come.

In regards to Pearl Harbor: of course, thanks to all of our troops, past and present, who fought for our country.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Had a great weekend, spent lots of quality time with Katie, wrote a long letter to my cousin in Iraq, and for the most part, knocked out 85% of my Christmas shopping in a matter of two days. Went to bed last night feeling accomplished and pretty proud of myself, while simultaneously gearing up for 5 days of mondo-study sessions for finals week, beginning today.

So I wake up this morning with total body aches.
Pounding headache.
Can't keep my eyes open for the painful throbing in my skull.
Burning up / freezing under a blanket at the same time.
Can hardly stay awake for the pain.

Man, I am glad I have paced myself and planned to spend this week in intense study for my three finals this week. It would have sucked if I had actually not waited until now and had had all that energy and health to assist me in the effort. Here's prayin' for a 24 hour bug.

Also- there was a pretty big earthquake in East Africa today. Not too sick to post about it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The If...Then Argument

This is a new up-and-coming band in the Columbia/Savannah region. Good stuff. They're still in the "demo" stages, but I've heard the stuff from their earliest takes to the more polished versions. I'm liking their stuff more and more. Electro-rock type stuff. According to their guitar player, their plan is to dominate the music scene, and quite possibly, the world at large.

Click here to hear some of their stuff at their myspace page. Their link is also in my sidebar. Check 'em out and show some love.

The Hours

The Hours
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Holy God, The Hours is a depressing movie. Good, though. Yes, last night we cuddled up on the couch and watched this thought-provoking little film. A couple of points:
1. It is very well acted. And Nicole Kidman looks SO different with just a minor bit of make-up, it amazed me.
2. It is very much a woman's movie (but don't mistake that to equal "chick-flick"). It deals with a woman's variuos roles in society, as wives, providers, mothers, lovers, and so forth...What is astonishing is that the book upon which the film was based was written by a man, Michael Cunningham. Very insightful.
3. The music was composed by Phillip Glass, and it tends to run incessantly through the most intense scenes, making them that much more tense. Very effective. I won't criticize it because that's what it was supposed to do, but MAN was it effective. Lots of films use music for effect, but for those who will know what I mean, it reminded me of Last Year at Marienbad in the way that the music was just hanging over everthing, inescapable. It fit the scenes, though.
4. The direction, the screenwriting, and cinematography were all top-notch. Having not read the book, I can only imagine how hard it was to adapt the text into a film.
So check it out. Be aware that it is a tough little flick, but worth the effort.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Which Action Hero Would You Be?

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.
Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.

Big News from the Sis...

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
OK, so this is the last week before finals, and I apologize for not having posted in over a week. But tonight you'll get TWO new posts, so quit yer bitchin'...

This is the big news of the week: My sister Erica and her man Fuzzy are officially engaged. The photo is of the ring that he presented her to make it all official-like. (Evidently it was his grandmother's ring, I believe.)

She called last night to tell us and was all sweet and weepy and cute. And I am very happy for them. Fuzzy is a good guy and welcome him to the Reid clan with open arms. The wedding is going to be in sometime in September or October of 2006.

Of course, one of the big questions that has already cropped up numerous times is "what will this do to your overseas plans?" The answer is- I don't know. Katie and I were aware of the fact that Erica would very possibly get married while we were away. We knew that life wasn't going to stop while we were gone. But neither will our plans necessarily change because of events like this. But they might. Erica's wedding. Dad's health. Time away from family, both young and old. There are many factors that must be reconciled before we make a final decision one way or another. It's a tough situation, but we'll see. We now have a loose date for Erica's wedding, we can incorporate it into our planning and decision making, and we will see what the future holds.

As for right now, I am just celebrating the news and wishing them the best. This is a fun time. Katie said to me tonight "I wish WE could get engaged again!" I am assuming and hoping she she meant to each other...

Oh, the Joys of Thanksgiving...

I had to post this picture because it is just so funny to me. The big game this Thanksgiving was "Let's decorate Unkie's head!" Actually, that's been the big game for a few years now. Thanks, baldness...

Anyway, the playdoh was dried up and full of sharp little crystals, Maddie used a plastic but nonetheless serated knife on my head when I wasn't looking (but I caught on real quick), and she actually tried to color my scalp with a colored PENCIL (again, when I wasn't looking). So my head had quite a few little scrapes when this game was over.

However, contrary to what this picture and my above story would lead you to believe, I was thoroughly enjoying the quality time with the girls. Even if it hurt a bit.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

HP and the Goblet of Fire

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, I must say they did it well. Not that I was worried, mind you- even with my worst complaints of any of the previous three, I never disliked any of them. AND in fact, the one with which I had the biggest problem was actually also my favorite thus far (Prisoner of Azkaban, if you are wondering). But this one, I am afraid, bumps #3 from its spot, because honestly, the cast itself continually gets better, and thus the movies get better.

Not that this one is without its flaws. I will keep the details to a minimum for the sake of anyone who has yet to see the movie, but here are a few comments: There are a few loopholes. There are some simplifications to the complex plot which place certain characters in situations in which they were not present in the book. This works fine to move the plot along and quickly introduce some important characters, but due to these changes, there are some plot holes and a few scenes that exist without any proper context or explanation. That being said, all the plot holes stem from one major change, and luckily these loopholes do not detract from the overall story. For such a complex book, they adapted it remarkably well.

What I really want to mention- though again without much detail- is surely one of the most anticipated and debatable points of the movie: the film’s portrayal of Voldemort. I have heard several opinions from people who were a bit disappointed with his appearance, but I will say without hesitation that he is EXACTLY what I hoped he would be. My fear was that he was going to look TOO “snakey” and lose his “humanity” completely, but the make-up strikes just the right balance. Scary, wicked, and monstrous, but without being TOO much of a “monster” as to make him unbelievable. (And yes, I know it’s a movie about wizards, so it can’t be all that believable to start with.)

What is scary about Voldemort throughout the whole series is not that he looks scary – it’s that he is evil through and through, and whatever transformation he has undergone is more internal than external. He might look a little freaky, but its what’s on the inside that you should fear. That’s what is scary about Voldemort. So yes- he looks creepy as hell, but not so freaky that you lose the focus on the evil soul inside the man. Make-up aside, Ralph Fiennes gives Voldemort the perfect aura of aristocratic malevolence. It wouldn’t have worked without an actor who couldn’t exude such an understated but overwhelming evil.

That’s all I’ll say. Go see it. It’s great fun.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Well, here it is...

...starting on the same day as the Liberian election results were announced.

Liberian Protesters Face Tear Gas
Friday, November 11, 2005; Posted: 12:41 p.m. EST (17:41 GMT)

Liberia (Reuters) -- U.N. forces fired tear gas at angry supporters of Liberian soccer star George Weah on Friday after they stoned police and marched to the U.S. embassy to back a demand to halt counting in an election Weah says was rigged.

For the full story, click here.

A First For Africa

From the BBC:
Liberia's 'Iron Lady' claims win

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, known as the "Iron Lady", has claimed victory as the first woman to be elected president of Liberia - or anywhere in Africa. With 91% of ballots counted, she had won 59% of the vote to leave her main rival, George Weah, trailing on 41%.

Click here for the whole article.

This is a pretty big landmark event in African history. The optimist in me hopes this is a step towards peace for the ravaged West African country. The cynic in me sadly expects rioting and more war, and predeicts within a year someone will attempt a coup.

Nonetheless, a historic day.

Doesn't God Have Lightning Bolts for Guys Like This?!

Pat Robinson
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
I mean, really! Regardless of your opinion of the evolution vs. creationism debate, I think we can all agree that this man is an idiot.

Robertson warns Pennsylvania voters of God's wrath

Thursday, November 10, 2005; Posted: 5:27 p.m. EST (22:27 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

For the whole article, click here.

And for another of this man's recent uber-Christian "Living the Gospels" Example, click here.

(and I acknowledge that wanting God to zap this guy isn't particularly Christian either. But I don't have my own TV show and claim that God tells me the future. I'm sure he's done some wonderful things, but he's just destroying any credibility he may have had. Perhaps he should retire, like he wants God to make all the non-conservative Supreme Court Justices to do.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

None of Life's Strings Can Last

George Harrison
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
With a lot of sadness happening in the news, I felt compelled to pull out All Things Must Pass by George Harrison, an album I have recently grown quite fond of, some 30 years since its release. Below are a few samplings of lyrics from this album (and one song that is not). Good lyrics and thoughtful words to roll around in your heads, dear readers.

Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we're all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can't hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn't it a pity
From Isn’t It a Pity

Forgive me lord
Please, those years when I ignored you, hmm
Forgive them lord
Those that feel they can't afford you, hmm

Help me lord, please
To rise above this dealing, hmm
Help me lord, please
To love you with more feeling, hmm

At both ends of the road
To the left and the right
Above and below us
Out and in, there's no place that you're not in
Oh, won't you hear me lord
From Forgive Me, Lord

That’s the Way it Goes
There's a man talking on the radio
What he's saying I don't really know
Seems he's lost some stocks and shares
Stops and stares
He's afraid I know
That's the way it goes

There's a man talking of the promised land
He'll aquire it with some Krugerrand
Subdivide and deal it out
Feel his clout
He can stoop so low
And that's the way it goes

There's an actor who hopes to fit the bill
Sees a shining city on a hill
Step up close and see he's blind
Wined and dined
All he has is pose
And that's the way it goes

There's a fire that burns away the lies
Manifesting in the spiritual eye
Though you won't understand the way I feel
You conceal, all there is to know
That's the way it goes

Beware of Darkness
Watch out now, take care
Beware of falling swingers
Dropping all around you
The pain that often mingles
In your fingertips
Beware of darkness

Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night

Beware of sadness
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for

Watch out now, take care
Beware of soft shoe shufflers
Dancing down the sidewalks
As each unconscious sufferer
Wanders aimlessly
Beware of Maya

Watch out now, take care
Beware of greedy leaders
They take you where you should not go
While Weeping Atlas Cedars
They just want to grow, grow and grow
Beware of darkness (beware of darkness)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Gimme Shelter(s), Part II

Kibera Slum, Nairobi
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been doing research for a paper on the availability of adequate and affordable housing around the globe (and specifically focusing on Nairobi). In a nutshell, we need more of it. Below are few statistics from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), one of the world’s leading forces behind gathering info and enacting policy to provide shelter for all. A couple of mind-blowers, from the 2005 report “Financing Urban Shelter”:

• Almost half of the world's six billion people already live in cities. Of these, it is estimated that about a third live in slums. (That “one third” is right at 1 billion people, folks!)
• By recent estimates, more than two billion people will be added to the number of city dwellers in developing countries by 2030. To meet the needs of that additional population, some 35 million new housing units would have to be built every year for the next 25 years.
• That translates into building some 96,150 housing units per day.
• While conventional mortgage financing has been expanding for the past decade and is increasingly available in many countries, only middle- and higher-income households have access to it, while the poor are generally excluded.
• The cost of a typical house is between 2.5 and six times the average annual salary, a ratio that rose to about 10 times in developing countries. From 1997 to 2004, housing prices had grown by 112 percent in Australia, for example, 139 percent in the United Kingdom, and 227 percent in South Africa.

So we should all be thankful we have a home, even if we’re renting. And if your home has two rooms or more, you are luckier than you can even imagine.

March of the Penguins

March of the Penguins
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
The Kate-ster and I went to see March of the Penguins last night at the dollar theater. While in line, we happened upon (or more accurately stated, were spotted by) Paula R. and Michael Myer, sans Michelle, who is evidently out of town for the weekend. So our merry twosome became a merrier foursome, and a good time was had by all.

Now, for a little review of the movie…The first interesting point of note is about the theater itself: this was the movies second week playing at this theater, and for a documentary about birds at a dollar theater, there was a pretty good crowd for a Friday night, as many as for most other films I seen there. Lots of families. It was surprising and nice to see. Though evidently not all the kids enjoyed the movie. As the credits ended, one young boy very audibly let out an exasperated “FINALLY.”

The movie itself was great. The visuals were amazing, the story simple and elegantly told. It is the simple tale of the cycle of birth, life, and death and the extraordinary efforts creatures will go to in order to insure the welfare of their young and the propagation of their species overall. The harsh assault of nature and the fortitude that these little birds have is phenomenal. The whole time I was watching, I was thinking “…and we think our lives are tough?!” And it is also interesting in light of all the recent research I have been doing on adequate and safe housing for people all across the globe. The struggle to survive the elements is a universal goal for animal, plant, or human being. So everyone should see this movie to marvel at the strength of these penguins and at the pinpoint perfect timing that these animals must maintain in order to survive.

And there’s nothing cuter than a bunch of baby penguins slipping on ice. And Emperor penguins have cute little feet.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Kingdom for a Happy Medium!

...and I don't mean a cheerful psychic, either. Well, it seems the Ectomorph's Lament may be over for now. As one of my astute readers pointed out, normally we don't have a problem with the cold. The boiler room below us generally steams our apartment up to sweltering temperatures. Which is exactly what I walked into this afternoon. So as I write this, rather than being bundled up (which I was even last night, which wasn't really cold out at all), all the windows are open wide and our fan is at full speed. At least we're getting some fresh air circulating in here...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Themes of Tim Burton

Tim Burton
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
As I was watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the other day, I began pondering the themes that occur through many of Tim Burton’s films. Burton is without a doubt one of my favorite directors. I have seen most of his movies numerous times, and two of his films are mainstays on my “All-Time Favorites” list. So below is a brief list of the themes that I have picked out of his works. Some of these will be obvious, some of these may not be so obvious. Some are deeper, and some are trivial, all can be expounded upon much more than I will do here, but I invite any additional comments on this topic form other fans.

A sidenote- Some of these films are based on ideas (or reality in some cases) that were not his own original concepts, but Burton nonetheless chose those projects, I assume, because the stories appealed to his personal interests. Also, I have omitted Mars Attacks and Planet of the Apes, because I don’t much remember or have never seen them, repectively. Also, those being his two Sci-Fi flicks, they don’t seem to fit in with the larger pattern of his work. OK, without further delay, here is a brief list of the Themes of Tim Burton’s movies.

1. Death and Morbid Worldviews
This is obvious. He seems to like surreal, almost Victorian era imagery involving all things dead and spooky. He also has a fondness for the alternate realm inhabitated by the dead. For instance:
a. Frankenwenie- dead dog back to life
b. Beetlejuice- ghosts and a spirit world
c. Nightmare Before Christmas- alternate land of dead/monsters; pretty obvious
d. Corpse Bride- duh. Also has land of the dead
e. Sleepy Hollow- headless horseman. Victorian era. ‘nuff said

Other images of note:
Witches: appear in Sleepy Hollow, Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish
Sweet but nonetheless DEAD dogs: appear in Frankenweenie, Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride

2. Men who don “masks” and alternate personas (literal and figurative)
a. Batman
b. Nightmare Before Christmas- Jack becomes Santa
c. Ed Wood- women’s clothing
d. Big Fish- Albert Finney’s tall tales in a way mask the ordinary details of his life

3. Characters who don’t “Fit In” / feel isolated/ social outcasts
a. Pee Wee Herman (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure)
b. Edward Scissorhands
c. Jack in Nightmare… has identity crisis, feels trapped in social role, alone
d. Victor in Corpse Bride- shy, introverted
e. Willy Wonka- genius, recluse, dislikes people
f. Ed Wood- the man was just so damn weird- really
g. Beetlejuice- the title character is kind of a otherworldly outcast no one likes

4. Issues with Parents
4a. Parents in general
a. Victor and Victoria in Corpse Bride
b. Willy Wonka- can’t even say the word “parents” because of his dislike of them
c. Batman- Son haunted by parents death, becomes vigilante
d. Ichabod Crane haunted by dreams of his mother and her death at the hands of his father

4b. Issues With Fathers specifically, or even more to the point: Issues with Fathers as the Creators of their Sons, and in turn, the Son dealing with the legacy left by the Father
a. Bela Lugosi as flawed father figure for Ed Wood
b. Willy Wonka becoming Chocolatier to spite dentist Father and his domineereing control
c. Edward Scissorhands is literally the flawed, incomplete creation of his “father,” the inventor played by Vincent Price
d. Perhaps most obviously here, father as “Creator” in Big Fish, which explores the distant relationship between Billy Crudup’s character and his father, Albert Finney. Father is the fabricator/embellisher of his own life’s story, and by default also creator of part of his son’s life’s story. Son has serious issues with father and his legacy, but ultimately learns that his father is just a flawed man trying to create a life worth remembering from the mundane details of the world.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Spooky Fun

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
...or as Fuzzy would say, Spooooooky fun...

Yes, we get our kicks from old timey seasonal traditions on Saturday nights. No shame, here, dear readers. Our dear friend Sean was in town for a visit, and we sat visiting for the afternoon for a much-needed catching up. We gutted the pumpkins, Katie made pumpkin soup, and my friend Brandon joined us later in the evening in time for the carving. And what splendid carvings they were, in my humble opinion. Mine is the skull, Sean's is the bat.

So once again, no costumes or crazy parties for Halloween this year, but once again, I have no complaints. Another good holiday with friends. And zombies. But I won't bore you with details about those things. Just a minor disruption in the evening, really.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Ectomorph's Lament

Oh Cruelest Season
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
A Series of Haiku Reflecting Upon the Changes of the Season...

Cold arrived quickly.
My thin limbs shudder and shake.
Bones hold heat poorly.

Really though, it's not
That cold, but still I'm freezing.
Oh please, make me warm.

What is the damn deal?
Colder in our house than out.
Where's the heat, people?

Why can't I warm up?
What cruel trick is this? Damn you,
Mississippi blood!

Oh Cruelest Season!
So lovely, yet so so harsh!

My Words Taste Delicious...

OK, I fully admit that I am now one of those people that I would formally pester about the infrequency of their blog posts. I was sitting in the library late last night, taking a moment's break from cramming a ton of facts into my skull for a test today (which I did well on, thanks for asking) and reflecting on how, relative to the norm, it had been a long while since I had seen Ms. Paula Randler. My thoughts then drifted to wondering what she had been up to lately, then to "Oh, I'll just check her blog...but oh wait, she hasn't posted anything much in days. I haven't either, really, its been at least a week, possibly close to two since I posted anyth-" "OH NO", I then realized- "I've become a Paula-poster!" How did this happen?!

So Paula, I take all the harassment back. And dear readers, I'll try harder. I promise.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reid Reunion 2005

Reid Reunion 2005
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
The main reason behind our whirlwind trip to MS this last weekend was to attend the 2005 Reid Family Reunion. We didn't make it to last year's reunion (because we had just beeen to MS in late September for my father's surgery), so it was nice to be there this year. As per usual, I visited with my Dad's siblings (Carl, Kyle, and Susan), hung out with the cousins, said hey to most folks, made it a point to speak to all dad's cousins, and kinda just waved at all the 2nd cousins and such. I really don't know them well, some have babies and spouses I've never met, and the younger ones are growing so fast that I don't even recognize them when I see them. So as long as I see that they're still alive, I'm good to go.

As always we played a rollicking good game of frisbee golf. Well, I should say a fun game, because I certainly didn't play well at all (but at least I didn't come in last- thanks, Katie!) So my eleven year old cousin Austin was MUCH better than I was, cousin Jamie had some extraordinary throws, Dad, Carl, and Kyle as usual played a really close competitive game, and Dad lost to Kyle by one throw.

Most shocking was that my "little" cousins have all grown up so much. Of course, little Rowdy is just a baby, Lace is 4 (and precious), but Jamie is now almost 17 and talking of joining the Air Force! Cameron is 18 and a freshman at MSU, Emily is now a freshman in high school(and quite pretty) and Austin, who was born after I was really out on my own and whom I have known the least, is now this clever little guy with a great sense of humor and a sharp wit. And though they weren't there, it is always worth noting that Joey, Carl's step-son Trey, and either Trent or Trey (2nd cousin twins that I can never keep straight) are all serving overseas in the military (Iraq). My oh my time does pass quickly.

The visits with the grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and cousins etc are always nice. And though I believe I am where I am supposed to be right now in my life, I do wish that I was at a place where I could see these people more often. They are my kinfolks, and they do mean a lot to me.

Schmeids and Schmoos

While in Mississippi this last weekend, I arranged for Katie, Dad, and me to rendezvous with Chris Blue (AKA Schmish Schmoo) and his family Martha and Joey (Scmartha and Schmoey- I think you're picking up on the trend here). Sadly, Mom was ill for most of the weekend and could not join us.

We met up at the MS State Fair (running concurrently with the SC State Fair, as it so happened) and we had a really good time. It was Katie's first time to meet the Schmoos, and only the second time I'd seen them in the last few years. We essentially walked around, watched the rides, ate some food, and enjoyed the company. The only one who really wanted to ride anything was the little jive-turkey Joey, who went to TOWN mackin' on some chick while he believed he was driving a small Mack truck. And yes, he's only two and is limited in his vocabulary, but nonetheless, he was undoubtedly pimpin'. You shoulda been there.

Sisters and Rock Stars

Yes, so this photo was taken by Fuzzy after the Mike Doughty show in Chicago this last Saturday night. It's my sister Erica, Mr. Mike Doughty (see one of my previous posts for a review of the Charleston show), and of course, the man himself, Andrew "Scrap" Livingston.

As per your requests...

So we've been out of town for a few days, so I hadn't even had a chance to post about my Peace Corps interview. Thanks for askin'...

So my interview went pretty good. It lasted for two hours, and I think I did a fair job of answering the questions the interviewer was asking. And there were alot of 'em. I was trying to give really deep, thoughtful answers- the kind that would bring a tear to the interviewer's eye and make her jot down in the margins of her notebook "THIS guy is PERFECT for Peace Corps!!" But had I known exactly how much she was gonna be asking, I would have realized how succinct I should have kept my answers. She actually asked me to make my answers shorter. HA HA. No surprise to anyone that knows me. But overall I was honest, I was myself, and if that is a hindrence to the process, then I am not meant to be in this program.

A few points of concern: My experiences relevant to the Peace Corps come primarily from three places: The Madison County Cultural Center (where I was Programs Coordinator for 2 years), Americarps*NCCC (1 year), and Americorps VISTA / Communities in Schools of the Midlands (where I was a VISTA for year one, and part-time employee for year two). She asked a few questions that I had a real problem coming up with experiences that sufficiently answered the questions in a manner that was what they were looking for. Second concern: the NCCC is comprised of 5 different and distinct experiences, and VISTA is also a unique program with an entirely different focus than other AmeriCorps programs. So in totality, these two years give me 6 unique experinces to pull from, yet I feel my interviewer was not differentiating the experiences. She kept asking for me to answer questions with experiences other than AmeriCorps, even though I was using many different examples of organizations with which I worked over the course of my time in the Corps. So I fear that what I consider to be my varied work / volunteer resume will not look so varied after she translates my answers onto whatever form they'll end up upon.

But again, I feel confident that I gave a good interview and that I'm still a competitive applicant. And by going first in the interviews, I'll be able to coach Katie a little on what to expect for HER interview, which will be this Friday. After that, we'll schedule a "couples interview" and then...we wait. It could be a while before we hear more, as they'll be looking at where our skill sets fit in order to make a match. (Hopefully, Africa somewhere. Say it with me: Africa Africa Africa...)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lots Going On (and Yet Not Much Blogging)

Hey, folks. Here's another quick point by point update of the major details of my life as of late ('cuz I know you lie awake at night wondering about my life. And I appreciate that a lot):

•Dad had another CAT scan this last Friday and the results are once again "No Change." Everyone was happy and relieved, especially seeing as Dad was recently having some pain and congestion in his chest which made us all fear for the worse. But he's OK and his chemo regimen will remain the same for now.

• This last Friday, Katie, Paula and I were "house-sitting" for a family who were out of town for a few days. They had four dogs to take care of, and within 10 minutes of our arrival, one of them bit me. Now, to be honest, it wasn't much of a bite- the only place that actually broke the skin and bled was a tiny spot where the dog's tooth scraped my finger. But the fact that the bite didn't break the skin was totally up to the dog (and whatever goes through a dog's mind), because I could've ended up in the emergency room if it had really chomped down. My whole thumb was in its mouth and I felt teeth on both sides of my hand. It was fast and it really freaked me out. Ultimately the dog was just spazzed out by strangers and became really sweet within a few hours.

• I spent 6 hours today coding data. What does that mean? It means I spent six hours typing something along these lines:

0 1 0 0 A A C B A 2 4 2 1 5...

Sounds terrible, but really wasn't that bad. But 6 hours was all I could take.

• Helped run 4 different experimental sessions this week, which translates into about 8-9 hours of lab time in two days. Very interesting learning experience.

• My Peace Corps interview is tomorrow at 11am.

• I am stressed about the future. So many unknowns, with Dad, and Africa, and Grad school...

• As does Sean, I love the fact that the news is reporting about the discovery of the existence of ancient Hobbit-like creatures. This world would be a better place if we had Hobbits. Preferably live ones, but I'll take what we can get.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nose, meet Grindstone.

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, with the exception of the two posts from last night, I haven’t posted much since last week, so here is the week in review. Most of this week has been spent buried in the books, as I had two midterms this week that took lot of preparation. One was in Swahili, the other was in (Honors) Urban Sociology. For the sociology course, we’d covered a LOT of info in this class. The midterm was our first test, so everything up to now was testable. She gave us a review, I studied for a good 9 – 10 hours over the course of the week, and in the end it was the hardest test I had ever taken. Seriously. I felt pretty well prepared, and the test was still scary, but I felt that I should have done decently overall.

This week has been one of those times where I feel I was really a good student. Now those of you who know me well are now rolling your eyes and thinking of course he’s a good student- and yes, I make good grades- but this week I made an effort to really buckle down and study. Long hours, study groups, the library- It just feels like I did a really good job of learning and reinforcing all that I have been doing these last few weeks. That may sound funny, but it’s true. I have high standards for what makes a “good student”, and sometimes I don’t feel I personally make the cut. But this week, I can pat myself on the back a bit. And ultimately all the studying DID pay off. My group did well on the Swahili exam / performance (Mr. Maganda even applauded- though I think he was just being nice), and I saw my sociology teacher’s graduate assistant at the end of the day and she told me I made an A on the exam (which HAS to mean the teacher wasn’t grading so hard!)

Other things of note:
• I am a terrible bowler. Saturday night Katie and I went bowling with a bunch of my friends from school. It was fun. I suck at bowling (but I’m evidently pretty good at video bowling).
• Wednesdays in the lab evidently are cursed. Yet again, a SNAFU resulted in a screw-up on the day Rachel and I run the lab experiments for Willer. Luckily, this one solved itself pretty easily, and the post-experiment debriefing of the subjects that I led was actually fun.
• YACtoberfest at the Cendrowski’s Monday night was a success. I managed to make a rare appearance at the event. Food and company enjoyable.
• My sister was in the hospital last night with another kidney stone (poor thing- it’s supposed to be agonizing), my dad had a check-up today to see the status of his cancer (results Monday), and my mom thinks she might have had a heart attack. The Reids- strong in spirit, weak in flesh.
• I am now ALSO working for Professer Brent Simpson, coding data from his experiments.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Few Thought Provokers...

So here are a few snippets I have read lately that stuck in my mind and have rolled around in my brain. And yes, one is about Africa...

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
-Edmund Burke

In twenty years every aspect that defines Africa today will have undergone an alteration that cannot be foretold by our present means of analysis. The pessimism undeniably called for in the short term, then, cannot be validly extended to the longer term.
-Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, author

The eight blunders that lead to violence in society:
• Wealth without work
• Pleasure without conscience
• Knowledge without character
• Commerce without morality
• Science without humanity
• Worship without sacrifice
• Politics without principles
• Rights without responsibilities

- Gandhi

I want the freedom of my country so that other countries may learn something from my free country, so that the resources of my country might be utilized for the benefit of mankind. Just as the call of patriotism teaches us today that the individual has to die for the family, the family has to die for the village, the village for the district, the district for the province, the province for the country, even so a country has to be free in order that it may die if necessary for the benefit of the world. My love, therefore, of nationalism or my idea of nationalism, is that my country may become free, that if need be the whole country may die, so that the human race may live.


Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
OK, so I may be behind the times by a few years, but having just been loaned the Season One DVD's for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, I must say that Carl is one of the funniest cartoon characters ever.

Addendum: Though Carl cracks me up the most, the best line so far was when Shake responded to a suggestion from Meatwad with the simple phrase "I was not put on this earth to listen to MEAT."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

More Pictures of Scrap Livingston

Check out some more great band pics of Doughty and his crew, most notably Scrap on bass. (Sorry, rest of the band- I'm sure y'all are cool, too, but I gotta give my shout outs to my boy, Andy).

Click here to see 'em.

*Be sure to scroll up to the top of the page to see the first shot. For some reason when this page loads, it loads halfway down the page.

Bleeding from the Cutting Edge of Science

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Ok, so this week is over, and a bit of relaxation can now take place. But earlier this week, it was far from relaxing, most notably on Wednesday afternoon. I work for Prof. David Willer and help to run experiments testing several theories of Network Exchange. We use a web-based program in our lab that allows us to log on numerous subjects so that they can participate in the experiment. High tech, but pretty easy to use. Unless, of course, things go wrong.

Long story short- all those worst case scenarios that you know probably will never happen all happened at the same time. First, my partner Rachel and I couldn’t get one of the computers to log in. We waited and waited and nothing happened. So we tried to reload everything. But now the hall was filling up with our participants, dutifully arriving on time (early, actually) so we get nervous. Still nothing. Finally, I bite the bullet and go get the Professer. (These are of course NOT the type of things you want to bother your Professer about). So Willer and his PhD student / sidekick Pam come down and try to help, but nothin’s doing. Finally Pam gets it set up, but we’re now fully 15 minutes late in starting the study. But it’s OK, cuz everything’s ready to go- except that only 5 people showed up, and we need six to run the experiment. @#%*!!

Rachel must run around the building looking for someone to fill in the spot. Finally we find a willing Grad student, and all is ready to go…until the whole system crashes. Which means we have to shut down and bring up the program on all seven computers- in front of the subjects, who must think we’re absolute morons (cuz we must look like it). Finally, we do get the experiment up and running smoothly…until about a third of the way through when I realize that in the chaos of the moment, I logged the computers in in the wrong order and thusly realize that we have supplied a bunch of vital info to the wrong subjects. So we must run around and explain and correct the mistake, again looking very much the idiot. In the end, we got it running and- it ran OK. And Willer wasn’t annoyed at all. He was actually quite amused that so much went wrong at once. So all in all, it was fine. But damned if it wasn’t a bit stressful. Thanks, cutting edge of science. Could you get me a band-aid now?

Three Names to Know

Obasanjo and Mbeki
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
OK, so there are a lot of political players across the world affecting the state of global affairs. Thanks to a fair amount of coverage, we know the names of many of the major figures in current world events- Bush, Blair, Chirac, Shroeder, Karzai, Kim Jong Il, Chavez, Annan, etc… Seeing as how my area of interest is Africa, I thought I would post a quick description and links on three African politicians whom you should know, as they tend to be the major players in Africa.

Thabo Mbeki is the President of South Africa, the major poliical power on the African continent, which grants him a fair amount of leverage in African affairs. Though he has held some controversial stances during his time in office (especially on the AIDS virus), he is often involved in brokering peace deals and negotiations across the continent. He has received a fair amount of criticism as of late for his refusal to interfere in Zimbabwe’s destructive “clean-up” program.
Click here to read more on Mbeki.

Robert Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe and the architect of the aforementioned Operation Murambatsvina (or "Drive Out Trash") and the disastrous land reform policies that have undermined the nation’s economy. Mugabe was a freedom fighter in Zimbabwe’s fight for independence and has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. He has seen the county go from one of the strongest and economically vibrant nations in Africa to a country racked with unemployment, inflation, and an inability to produce an adequate supply of food, and many point directly to him as the primary cause of this decline. He is widely considered a dictator who has remained in power by rigging elections.
Click here to read more on Mugabe.

Olusegun Obasanjo is President of Nigeria, and there are many reasons to learn to recognize his name. First off, he is the President of the most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 1 in every 5 black Africans live in Nigeria. Such a high population will undoubtedly lead to migrations, so look for Nigerian immigrants to become more visible in the next several years. Secondly, though he himself is regarded as an earnest (if inefective) opponent of governmental corruption, he is President of what is considered to be one of the most, if not THE most thoroughly corrupt governments in Africa (and that is saying something there, folks). Thirdly, and most importantly for us Americans- Nigeria has oil. Lots of oil. And it is causing lots of problems, from civil unrest, to rebels fighting for control of the supply, to outspoken advocates against multinational companies (Ken Sara-Wiwa vs. Shell) being executed as dissidents (possibly with Shell’s support). The US wants this oil, so watch for us to get increasingly involved in Nigerian politics.
Click here to read more on Obasanjo.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Catholic Church in the News...Again

Madonna and Child
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
This is a rather long post, so be forewarned.

I imagine that most folks who visit my blog know I am a recent Catholic convert. I love this faith, though I am not always in agreement over all of its doctrinal points and decisions. Well, the Catholic Church is once again in the news, this time for an alleged ban of homosexuals entering the priesthood.

Now, the Church distinguishes between homosexual orientation and homosexual ACTS. The church encourages people to be true to themselves; if one is homosexual, they should acknowledge this fact BUT live a chaste life, thus avoiding any "sinful homosexual acts." In this way the Church seeks to be welcoming to everyone, but staying true to its doctrine against homosexual ACTS. Whether this is successfully accomplished is a point of debate.

The point of contention with this new potential ban on homosexuals enetring the preisthood is that the ban would include ALL people with homosexual tendencies, including those that have made the choice to be celibate in accordance with Catholic Teachings. Since it IS current news, I thought I'd make a statement on this issue to those who would be curious to know my stance.

There's one important thing to keep in mind in reagrds to this issue:pPortions of the document in question has been LEAKED, and the actual statement of the church has not yet been published (and in fact, may not even be completed). So every report that is in the news is speculative. No one, save the authors, have read the final document. We will have to wait and see what the official document actually says. That being said, I will quote myself on this issue, from an email I sent earlier during an online discussion:

It seems to me that the underlying issue here is TRUST, or lack thereof as the case may be. If a heterosexual man is attracted to women and sex but realizes that a promiscous lifestyle is one of sin, he can make the decision to abstain. If in turn he feels called to join the priesthood, it is great step in his journey towards unity in Christ with both God and his Universal Church. As a priest, we trust him to lead us and have faith that he will do his best to live by his vows.
So let's imagine another man who has his own sexual urges, realizes that they may lead to a conflict with his faith's moral teaching, and makes the decision to live a celibate life. He feels the call and chooses to pursue the priesthood. In the grand scheme of things there is no difference between the two men, except that now the church may say that the first man is OK and trustworthy to be a priest, and says the second cannot pursue the priesthood because he may have felt attracted to another man. He cannot be trusted-which is to say he is INCAPABLE- of living up to his celibate vows.
We are ALL sinners, we ALL have our personal struggles, and priests are no different. Hopefully we are all striving to be holy and live a life befitting of a Christian. But to me, this new line of thinking reeks of a double standard. If a man happens to be gay but makes the decision to live celibately, I see absolutely no inherent difference from the man who is attracted to females and decides he should abstain from sex or marriage. Celibacy is not defined as "not having sex with a woman", nor is it defined as "not having sexual urges". It is defined as "Not having sex. Period." The object of the desire is a moot point in this case. If the person has made the decision of celibacy, he is one step closer in his personal spiritual journey, and we should NOT view him by who he WAS, but rather by who he CHOOSES TO BE. In essense, it's a act of forgiveness and trust that I hope extends to us all as sinners.
When I'm at Mass, when I'm struggling with a question of faith, when I'm seeking comfort- I don't go to the Church to speak to a straight man. I go to speak to my spiritual guide and someone I can trust to help me move closer to Christ. It makes no difference to me where he started his journey.

Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, Tim Burton has again proven himself to be a visionary artist. Tonight, Katie and I, along with some of my friends from work (the Lab Rats, as I will now term us) went and saw Corpse Bride. Burton has done some of my favorite movies, and Nightmare Before Christmas is my all-time favorite movie. But I must confess that Corpse Bride is a stronger film. Funny, stunning, and at times really creepy, the film is completely enjoyable form start to finish. By default, the technological advances of the last 12 – 13 years make the effects in this film top of the line. To think that Corpse Bride (and Nightmare…) are essentially puppet shows boggles the mind. And Corpse Bride wouldn’t work as well outside of that medium, as there is something anachronistic about the style of animation that complements Burton’s surrealist, Victorian worldview that gives this film its edge. It helps create the “otherworldly” context that is vital to this story.

Everything about this movie is a solid artistic accomplishment. The design is superb and I feel the most creative aspect of the film. Nightmare…and all of Burton’s films have his distinctively skewed gothic veneer, but this film is his most brilliant. From the dichotomy of the black/white world of the living and the vibrant color of the Land of the Dead, to the architecture of the set pieces (as there is no more appropriate term for it), the film is a delight. The movements of the characters are fabulous (especially the skeletons), the characterizations themselves great.

Also, this film has some of Danny Elfman’s best work. Again, I love Nightmare..., but the lyrics, the way the music interweaves into the action, and the compositions themselves are some of Elfman’s most consistent and haunting (or lively in the case of Mr. Bonesjangles).

So perhaps this is a little gushing since I have JUST seen the flick, but I have a feeling that repeated viewings of this film will only solidify my sentiments. If I have any criticisms, it is that sometimes the plot was a little obvious. But who cares. I know how Nightmare... ends and it doesn’t stop me from watching it over and over. So see this film. Also, see if you can catch the subtle tribute to a stop-motion pioneer of yesteryear.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gimme Shelter(s)

Today I was (re)certified by the American Red Cross in Mass Care and Disaster Services, which means I can assist in running emergency shelters and other services delivered during disaster situations. I could technically be sent for a three-week stint in the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (or any other major disaster site). Except that I CAN'T actually do that as a student, seeing that a three-week absence would result in failing all my classes. I am available to help with regional disasters, though, such as fires or (God Forbid) a hurricane that hits South Carolina (which has happened planty of times before). But nonetheless, it's a good thing to know and another addition to my resume. I guess I was technically already trained in some of this from my year in the NCCC, but I wanted to get a "refresher," and there was quite a bit of additional information.

Everyone Hail to the Pumpkin Song

Jack and Sally
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, since tomorrow night I will be seeing Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, I felt I should pay a little tribute to my favorite film. Yes, I could be a bit of an “art-house snob” if I so choose (and I don’t), but I have seen many a great film- be it classic cult films such as David Lynch’s Eraserhead, the masterpieces of Akira Kurasawa, the dead-pan humor of Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law- but at the end of the day, I must come clean and admit that A Nightmare Before Christmas is my ALL-TIME favorite movie. Perhaps not the best movie ever, but it has a very special place for me. Hell, I even had a cake with Jack’s head on it at my wedding reception.

I saw the film when it came out at Deville Cinema in Jackson MS, at the time the largest theater in MS (perhaps not as tall, but easily as wide as your standard IMAX). I liked it a lot and thought it was great. But over the years it has grown to be the movie that I can watch over and over and still be amazed. While at the Cultural Center in Madison, MS, the kids at the summer camp watched it at least twice a week, and as I was often in the room, I would generally forget about any work to do and find myself completely mesmerized. It was then that the movie kicked up a notch and has endeared itself to me so much.

The music, the amazing animation, the simple sentiment behind the story, and just the characters themselves…Confound it all, I love it though. Since it is now a few year’s past the decade mark, the effects have started to show their age a bit, and I’m sure Corpse Bride will ultimately blow them out of the water. But I doubt seriously that Jack will ever lose his rightful place as the Pumpkin King.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's All Greek to Me...and a Few Other Hundred People

Greek Festival Logo
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Thursday night, after a long day (including four classes and two exams) in a string of long days (including another exam and assisting with and/or running three lab experiments, lots ‘o reading and writing, and many many phone calls), I walked in from school around 7:30pm for rest and relaxation only to find myself whisked away to the annual Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

This was our third year to attend, but the first time we had been in the evening, and it was a lot of fun. Though I was kinda “out of it,” the wife and I milled about the booths, enjoying ourselves very much. Good music, good food (spanikopida, baby) and good company, as we were hangin’ with Margaret, Anne Weisner, her friend C.J. (from Madison, MS!) and, of course, the omnipresent Ms. Paula Randler.

Why are Rastafarians called "Rastafarians?"

Haile Selassie
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
So most folks have heard of Rastafarians, or at the very least have heard of Bob Marley. But do you know WHY they are called Rastafarians? And if you have paid attention to the news lately, why was Jamaica up in arms over the possibility of Bob Marley’s widow, Rita Marley, exhuming his body and moving it to…Ethiopia? Why would she do that? Well, here’s your “Final Jeopardy” tidbit of the day: According to, here are a few main points to know about Rastafarians:

• Rastafarians believe that God is a spirit and that this spirit was manifested in Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I. Rastafarians believe that they are the original Lost Tribes of Israel that were once scattered by Babylon until the appearance of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.

• Rastafarians believe that Jesus was a direct descendant of King David and was black. Rastafarians believe that the Ethiopian Solomonic Dynasty is a direct representation of King David.

• Rastafarians believe that God will return them to Zion (Rastafarians refer to Ethiopia as Zion). Rastafarians believe that Ethiopia is the Promised Land and that it is Heaven on Earth.

The idea that Haile Selassie is the living embodiment of god sprang forth from a quote that is attributed to Marcus Garvey (and highly debated as to whether he actually said these words or believed the sentiment held therein): “Look to Africa for the crowning of a black king, he shall be the redeemer.” (from

So the question still stands: why on earth do Rastafarians refer to themselves as Rastafarians? Quite simply, sometimes people change there names: just as John Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI, and Tom Marvelo Riddle is now Lord Voldemort, Haile Selassie changed his name when he ceased to be a prince (ras) and became Emporer. His birth name? Tafari.

More on Haile Selassie:

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mike Doughty's Band, 9/17/05

the drummer was great too.
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
The Band: Mike Doughty was the lead singer/songwriter for Soul Coughing, one of my all-time favorite bands. After the group disbanded, Mike pursued solo work and toured as a one man acoustic singer, rehashing some old Soul Coughing and performing many new songs. His solo releases over the last few years have ranged from acoustic guitar to more electronic compositions, all featuring his distinct lyrical style and vocals.

Doughty has put together a new band (featuring my boy Andy on bass) and is currently touring his latest album on his first full-band tour since Soul Coughing broke up.

The Venue: The Music Farm was a really good venue. The sound quality was good, there was a lot of room to move throughout, and there was no pretentious vibe to make you feel like you weren't cool enough to be there (which wouldn't have mattered much 'cuz we were all TOTALLY cool enough to be there). Even the security guard who got onto me for taking a brief video of the show was nice (but blunt).

The Show: Having seen Mike on his "Smofe and Smang" era solo tour, we were looking forward to seeing him with a band, especially since I never had the opportunity to see Soul Coughing live, (unlike our friends Tricia and Adam, who saw them TWICE! Dag.) Anyway, the first show Katie and I saw (in Philadelphia, PA opening for Rusted Root) was enjoyable, but oh what a difference a band can make.

This show was excellent. Not only was it great to see Andy doing his thing, but Doughty himself really fed off the support of his band. Feeling the positive energy from the crowd and feeling secure in the knowledge that that his band "had his back", Doughty was a really strong, energetic frontman. Seeing him in Phillie was fun because the show was good and we were excited to see him live. Seeing Doughty with the new band in Charleston was good because he was so genuinely entertaining and enjoying himself.

Playing some new songs from his album Haughty Melodic, some of which are updated versions of his solo work, the show was a good mix of new and old, including quite a few Soul Coughing tracks. Of particular note was the band's rousing rendition of Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" (a highlight for our friends, the poker obsessed Cendrowski clan- who I lost a few bucks to the night before in a Texas Hold'em game. Evidently I do not know when to hold OR fold 'em)).

Great time, great show, great band (especially the bass player). See the tour if you get the chance.

Hangin' with Scrap

chris and andy
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
It's cool to get to hang with a member of one of your favorite musician's band.

It's even cooler if the aforementioned band member is also a dear old friend.

This last weekend was a fun-filled few days in Charleston. Mike Doughty's new band was playing the Music Farm, and it just so happens that his new bass player is my old friend Andy Livingston (who has now been officially christened "Scrap" by his bandmates). Due to the ebb and flow of life, I had lost touch with Andy and his wife, Erica (another old friend) and hadn't spoken to Andy since my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. Honestly I was a little nervous to see him again just because so much time had passed. I'd tried to email him, but never could get in touch with him to tell we were going to be in town to see the show.

We hoped to find Andy before the show by going to an afternoon in-store appearance by Mike. The band's bus was parked outside the record store for the autograph signing, so I went up and asked Mike if Andy was around. I would love to have seen Andy's face when Doughty and another member of their crew got back on the bus and said "Hey, Andy- there's some guy in the store that says he knows you."

Well, if you've looked at the picture, obviously the reunion was a good one. We got to visit a good chunk of time, catching up and filling in the years of lost time.

We saw the show with our friends Brian, Nicole, and Cheryl, Tricia, and Adam. It was a great weekend. I'll post a more formal review of the show soon, but this entry is dedicated solely to Mr. Livingston and his bad self. I cannot think of a person who has "paid their dues" more than Andy, so it is an understatement to say I am proud of him. I give him my utmost respect.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Anapestic Tetrameter: Poetic Structure or Medical Condition?

On a chalkboard in one of my classes was the phrase "anapestic tetrameter." A classmate and I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what it was. We'd heard of "iambic pentameter," so we were reasonably sure this was a literary term, although "anapestic" sure sounds like an infection of your GI tract.

After a quick google search, here is the answer to our query, cobbled together from varied sources which I have sadly forgotten to write down for author credit:

A "foot", in the poet's glossary, is a unit of stressed and unstressed syllables. There are many varied combinations possible; five prevail in English poetry:

one unstressed syllable, followed by one stressed : iamb
one stressed syllable, then one unstressed : trochee
two unstressed, one stressed : anapest
one stressed, two unstressed : dactyl
two stressed : spondee

A rhythm built by repetitions of iambs is "iambic". Repetition of trochees is trochaic; anapests, anapestic; dactyls, dactylic. For a line of all spondees,it's "spondeic".

monometer one foot- he SITS
dimeter two feet- he SITS on CHAIRS
trimeter three feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS
tetrameter four feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS and THINKS
pentameter five feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS and THINKS of CARS
hexameter six feet- he SITS on CHAIRS in BARS and THINKS of CARS that BREAK

Evidently, the best known example of anapestic pentameter is "The Night Before Christmas." So now you know that to have anapestic pentameter, you need poetry, not Pepto.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Witty Title Goes Here...

Welcome to my new blog. I promise no consistency in the contents of these posts other than that I thought it was interesting and I expect others might as well. OK, in actuality, I expect that many faithful friends will slog through many a posting that doesn't interest them in the least. But that's what friends do, eh?

So let me get started, and why the hell not kick it off in Swahili?! Sound good?

Karibu, ndugu! Jina lako ni Chris Reid. Habari zenu? Ninasoma Kiswahili. Mimi ninakaa Columbia.

Ok, you don't exactly know what the heck I said, but admit it- its kinda fun to read anyway. You know it is. That's pretty basic stuff, by the way, the stuff you learn in like- oh, I don't know- three weeks of Swahili classes? I would like to point out that if I wrote those sentences in English I would sound like a six-year old. Kwa heri!

For more on Swahili, visit