Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israelity Bites

Photos courtesy of The Huffington Post

Some of you may not know my position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many of you don't care, and the majority won't agree. For the record, I believe that Palestinians are treated with all the respect of caged animals in a third world zoo. And their captives wonder why they always try to bite.

The current assault by Israeli forces--one of the strongest overreactions in years--is heinous and barbaric. Hamas' attacks are not justified, either, but let us just take a look at the comparative scope for a second, shall we? C'mon.

How much does the general person actually know about the Gaza Strip, actually? When was the last time any of you watched any documentaries on the occupied territories? There are plenty out there. Gaza Strip, directed by James Longley, is a very good place to start.

They are not as fun to watch as, say, Stranger than Fiction, which I watched last night as the bombs continued to fall in the tiny strip of land that is Gaza--4-7.5 miles wide by 25 miles long, with approximately 1.4 million inhabitants. But short of joining the resistance and getting myself killed, or sending messages to Barack Obama who, according to spokesman David Axelrod, is "generally sympathetic" to the Israelis, there's not a whole helluva lot I can do.

One thing I will do it provide a link to someone who devotes more time and space to the issue than I do. The blog is Israelity Bites, contradictions, vexations, discoveries and epiphanies in the Holy Land.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pearl says it all...

Cost for bag of apples to feed your horses = $3.29
Cost for ticket to see a Brad Pitt movie after = $6.50
Cost for dinner at Red Lobster = FREE with gift card

Cost for functional catalytic converter = PRICELESS

I am not going to swear. My converter died while I was less than one mile from my house in the slush and fog, instead of dying AFTER my full list of planned activities, when it would have been cold, dark and icy. See how thankful I am? Why, I am FULL of fucking good cheer.


I'm going back to watch Will Ferrell's videos until my eyes fall out of my head. Have you seen "Good Cop, Baby Cop" yet? It's Pearl's retirement video.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Damn Cat

Sam just prior to warrant being issued

Ahhhh, a full, quiet day to myself. I got four hours of work done on my novel last night and looked forward to more of the same today. It is roughly 0 degrees outside--though sunny--and with plenty of chocolate in the house, I had no plans to leave and skate with my Beetle across Columbus' unplowed roads.

Things were going swimmingly until around 9:30 a.m., when I was woken by the Damn Cat scratching at my legs on top of my quilt. I kicked moved him off, and within seconds he was back, scratching at me again. I sat up to make my intentions more clear, only to notice that he had peed all over my quilt.

Merry fucking Christmas from the Damn Cat, he said, grinning like an even more creepy Cheshire Cat.

Sam's laser death rays come on when you least expect it

I jumped up, irritating both dogs, and ripped aside the quilt, then the flannel sheets, to the waterproof cover I had ALMOST stopped putting on my bed when the Damn Cat seemed to have reformed over time. Thank God I hadn't. Peed all the way through to that.

Wishing my girls a Merry Christmas in the most cheerfully affected voice I could muster so they wouldn't think I was mad at them, I stripped the bed and headed for the basement washer. The quilt, a massive thing I got from a sale at LL Bean years ago, can only be washed in those industrial-size washers at the laundromat, which I suspect is closed today. I am quite certain the Damn Cat knows this.

On the way back from the basement, which is fucking cold, by the way, I stopped at BOTH litter boxes to see if they were full. Both--the one upstairs and the one downstairs--were clean.

So since I am in the writing mood over the holidays, I took a moment to compose a little something for the Damn Cat. It is called...

Top Ten Ways to Kill A Damn Cat on Christmas Day

10. Hope Santa left you some euthanasia solution in your stocking.
9. Wrap several poinsettia leaves for the cat and tell him they're a new type of catnip.
8. Open the front door he's always crying behind and tell him we're all going over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house--and we'll meet him there.
7. Loosen a screw on the tree stand, position the cat food just so, and wait for gravity to kick in.
6. Put him in a box, wrap it festively, and mail him to Hollywood after telling him that they've just selected him as the lead for the new film "All Good Cats Go To Heaven."
5. Tell him he's just been offered a prestigious consulting position at Covance Research Laboratories. (Okay, I know, that one's just mean.)
4. Cover him with barbeque sauce and present him to your normally affable pit bull after the latter has just finished watching her Christmas DVD "When Animals Attack."
3. Send him in an unmarked package to your ex-husband who, on your first date, said one of his favorite hobbies was target shooting using stray cats at the work yard.
2. Exchange him with your neighbor's orange cat (you know, they all look the same) under cover of night.
1. Give him an all-expenses paid, one-way ticket to Beijing's restaurant district.

Is this an awkward time to mention that I was able to renew my license to practice as a veterinary technician? Okay, maybe later.

Photo by rbatina on Flickr
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Funny or Die

I had heard of this once or twice but never went to check it out until now. I wanted to see Will Ferrell's video "The Landlord." If you know a toddler, you will fucking die laughing at this. If you don't, you'll just get side cramps. Either way, it's worth it.

Will Ferrell's "The Landlord"

Also high-larious: "The Landlord Out Takes" Read more!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frozen in Time, Part I (Rated R for Irascibility)

Photo by susannah78 on Flickr

You now get to see what my writing looks like when I am clinically depressed. I have informed myself recently that depression is no longer considered a valid excuse for not writing. Unfortunately, it is you, Dear Reader, who will suffer.

Update on Ginger:

Ginger Ale the pit bull has been diagnosed with a torn ACL ligament in her left knee. She blew it out jumping after a squirrel the day after Jack the Irascible Arabian got kicked in the head, about two months ago. Fragments are breaking in her right knee as well, though it is still pretty firm.

The recommended surgery for this has a name I could not possibly remember--perhaps because I heard the price and fell into a deep, dark place from which I have not yet returned. One knee=$3000.

There is a running special for you savvy shoppers, however. Two knees=$4500. No coupon necessary. One deal per dog, please.

Broken Pit

Update on Career:

After narrowly avoiding conspiratorial and unfounded termination last week, I told my boss I will be leaving equine pharmaceutical sales (yeah, I sell ketamine and no, you can't get any) as soon as I find some other position--preferably one that does not require bending over and firmly grasping one's ankles.

Employee of the Year

This leads to numerous concerns, all of which converge into clinical depression (see above). I currently make $$$ a year. The best job I have found (but not yet been offered) pays $$. My bills are $$$$ a year, which was already causing great stress. Too many animals. Too much house. Too many cordial visits with various veterinarians.

Jobs I have so far considered include parking attendant, CIA operative, mental hospital janitor, creative consultant for a company I still can't figure out ( Sandbox International), veterinary technician for the UW Vet School (license necessary) or for a nationally-known testing company (no license required for torturing animals), Army National Reserves Linguist, Peace Corps, snow shoveler, and librarian page (the one who files books), among others.

Before you write and ask me why I am not using my master's degree in Arabic, I will say ONE LAST TIME that I AM NO LONGER FLUENT. Employers do NOT have time or money to train employees how to use their skill. If you have never been a language major at the higher level, trust me on this one. If you are 15 years removed from fluency, which is VERY hard won in my case, you cannot retrieve it by reading or listening to Al-Jazeera over lunch and after work. You need about a year of language immersion, preferably in the country you specialized in, in this case, Egypt. This costs money, believe it or not, and also requires that you leave all loved ones (including animals if you have none besides immediate family) for said period of time. This in and of itself also converges at clinical depression.

I'm not done.

I chose the title "Frozen in Time" for a reason. I recently learned that putting one's storm windows on in 6 degree weather is not only unwise, but impossible. My windows are old--old as my 1920 house, in fact--and freeze solidly in place after the first cold spell. Just to get to the window two days ago I had to chisel away thick, ribbed waves of ice on the INSIDE of the glass, after peeling off the rolled-up towel that was frozen to the sash as a make-do remedy. A smarter homeowner might have taken this as a bad sign, but I persevered with my hair dryer and flat-sided screwdriver.

Ice gone and floor soaked, I struggled to stay upright on the shards of broken ice and leaned into the sash.

Nothing. I had carried two extremely large and heavy storm windows up two stories from the basement to learn that my windows had no intention of opening until next June. I quickly adapted a positive outlook.

Fuck my windows. Fuck Wisconsin winters. Fuck ACL ligaments and rabid co-workers. Fuck expired vet tech licenses and forgotten Semitic languages. Fuck mortgages and irascible ponies. Fuck me.

Read more!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ricky Gervais saved my life

Yesterday, anyway.

Bloody awful day at work. I work in sales, which is very similar to a job I once had at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA. At that job, I spent my time dodging blood-thirsty hyenas and dangerously spoiled and overfed grizzly bears. The female, Fanny, one once took a swipe at me when my back was to her, and the breeze alone was enough to make me soil my pants and slam by body into the caged front of her brother Ruff's cage. It took at least two minutes before I realized I was leaning against bars that had the same species of bear just two feet behind them. Apparently, I startled Ruff just as much, because when I slowly turned around, he just blinked at me, his entire head filling the dwarf-size cage door. He went on to peel his oranges and shell his peanuts as soon as he determined there would be no show that day. (Fanny successfully mauled a similar volunteer only a short time before.)

After numerous more successful maulings in the sales world over the last few years, I have finally decided I would be safer with the grizzlies. They, at least, pretend to be nothing but a predator. You know exactly what you are dealing with, and so does your boss. In the sales world, your boss is often misled as to the true species of your co-worker, which can lead you into very dangerous situations with no guaranteed outcome.

Following yesterday's mauling, I sought refuge not with another grizzly, but with a DVD of Ricky Gervais' Extras. It was Season Two, Disc Two, and had almost two hours of extra material to try and stem the blood still pouring from my open wounds.

If you have never heard Ricky laugh, you should. It is more electrically-charged than the cry of the hyenas that taunt me at work (zoo or current job) and cauterizes open wounds almost instantly. Very powerful stuff.

Spielberg and Rick Photo by Sarah Shatz
Still actually shaking with anger and unable to get my heart-rate in a normal range by bedtime, I took a Seroquel to make sure I didn't wake up transformed in a werewolf around midnight. Thankfully, the only hair I was covered in when I woke up was that of my own dogs.
First stop this morning was the Internet to look for work. This is such a great time to look for not only a regular job, but a whole new career. The economy is booming with all the federal buy-outs, and gas is finally cheap enough to consider working outside my home. Still can't drive my car in snow (New Beetle) but at this point, I'd be willing to move overseas for work. I hear their economy is booming, too. I already found several security positions open in Athens, which I seriously looking into. Such a romantic place to work...
I did start a little closer to home in my search, though. Pulling up, I typed the keyword "animal" (which meant I didn't have to also type in the word "sales" since it covers both) and hit the search button.
One ad came up--for EXTRAS--and you're going to think I'm making this up. Really, I'm just not that clever. If I were, would I still be in this job?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Ginger contemplating getting out of bed after a lunchtime nap.

Ginger is heavy on my mind (and my back) these days as her back pain and consequent lameness continues to get worse. She was crying in the bed when I came and found her "posing" and wasn't sure if she just wanted attention or it hurt to jump down.

We have pretty much ruled out hip dysplasia and bad knees. Friday is her appointment with the local orthopedic specialists. I don't know if they will suggest an MRI, myelogram, or just further radiographs. There is not much good that can come with spinal injuries and/or degeneration, so if everyone could cross his or her paws for Ginger, we would appreciate it.

Ginger will turn 5 years old on December 31, 2008. Read more!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Only in Wisconsin

[Update--still no picture, but the poor fat dog who got stuck to the sidewalk is called Jiffy.]

Random fat dog, photo by berzerker2k5

Dog frozen to Wis. sidewalk; fat helped it survive
AP Press

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – A dog weighing more than 120 pounds survived being frozen to a sidewalk overnight, probably because he was insulated by layers of fat, authorities said. The Sheboygan County Humane Society says the "morbidly obese" dog, an aging border collie mix named Jiffy, froze to the sidewalk when he was left out overnight Wednesday. Shelter manager Carey Payne says few dogs could survive the single-digit temperatures, and it was probably the fat that made the difference.

Jiffy's 59-year-old owner was arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of animal neglect, Sheboygan Police Lt. Tim Eirich said. She told police she tried to get the dog inside but couldn't, and instead checked on him every few hours.

The dog is 11 or 12 years old, Eirich said. Shelter workers poured warm water over Jiffy's back end to unstick him from the sidewalk, Payne said, and it was too soon to say whether he suffered any long-term effects.


Information from: The Sheboygan Press,

I can't think of anything nice to say, so I'm not going to say anything at all.

Except that people are so FUCKING stupid!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Well, this makes sense

A graphic on cluster bombs. The United States said Tuesday it will refrain this week from signing a treaty in Norway to ban cluster bombs, because the document is too broad and endangers US soldiers.(AFP/Graphic)

92 nations sign cluster-bomb ban; US, Russia don't

OSLO, Norway – An Afghan teenager who lost both legs in a cluster bomb explosion helped persuade his country to change its stance and join nearly 100 nations in signing a treaty Wednesday banning the disputed weapons.

Afghanistan was initially reluctant to join the pact — which the United States and Russia have refused to support — but agreed to after lobbying by victims maimed by cluster munitions, including 17-year-old Soraj Ghulan Habib. The teen, who uses a wheelchair, met with his country's ambassador to Norway, Jawed Ludin, at a two-day signing conference in Oslo.

[Click on headline to read full article about our idiotic State Department.]

And of course I mean that in the kindest way. Read more!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bush gets juvenile

First I start some wars, then I spend all your money, and now... Now I am squishing your head!

At least some of us are above this kind of behavior.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

It has arrived.


View of the red bud tree this morning. Cat tracks and rabbit tracks were visible all around the house. There's a fat black cat that visits and a rabbit family in my wild patches.

View of a neighbor's barn red attic through my trees.

View from my dining room. Favorite window in the house.

And a cozy little house for my cozy little car.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out on the Town

Common knowledge states that when you are feeling depressed, you should do something special to boost your spirits. After a very difficult 24 hours of obsessing over the health (or lack of it) of Ginger Ale, today was dedicated to doing just that.

I started by staying in bed a few extra hours this morning. This was something of a test of endurance as Ginger, the non-ambulatory pit bull with the best-looking hips since Megan Fox--at least, according to my veterinarian--experienced such levels of nuclear flatulence it is a miracle that the bedroom did not spontaneously combust.

We (Ginger, Soda, the Damn Cat and I) all staggered downstairs around ten to eat and start some laundry, under the pretense of doing something useful. This was so utterly exhausting that we all promptly fell asleep on the sofa, causing us to miss the protest against California's Proposition 8. I'd like to say we were there in spirit, but honestly, we were dead to the world. With the mood I have been in for the last few days, had I shown up the crowds would have begun protesting for me to go back home in no time. Really, it was better for everyone that I stayed behind.

Upon waking, laundry was changed and plans for an exciting evening were hatched. I decided to do something I only do once or twice a year. This was, after all, supposed to be a very special night. I fed and walked the dogs again (where did the day go?), grabbed my quarters and headed out.

First stop: Dinner. I went all out, ordering the #3 (plain, please) with a Sprite. Ahh, the smell of hot, salty McDonald's grease filling the Beetle... The gal on the other side of the glass tried to hand back a dollar, explaining I overpaid, but I told her, "Keep it! It's a special occasion!"

Dinner stowed safely in the passenger seat, I criss-crossed the metropolis of Columbus and drove straight into the open parking spot fronting my evening destination: the laundromat. Imagine my delight not only in finding a premier parking spot, but in discovering a waiting and empty Triple Load Washer! Some feelings are hard to put into words.

So there I sat, on an empty washing machine, downing french fries and watching my dry-clean-only quilt spin itself into sudsy oblivion. I will admit, there was a small part of me that was jealous.

I gazed up at the carefully worded sign dangling above the row of machines where I sat:


Well that, at least, provided some comfort.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Inspiration from kt tunstall

I wish I knew how to add a video from YouTube, but I don't. And I don't have the energy to fight with it anymore tonight.

I tried to embed a video of kt tunstall singing "Heal Over," a song I find helpful in times of difficulty. I can provide the link, and I will also provide the lyrics. I don't particularly believe them, but I do find them comforting. Maybe someone else out there will, too.

Heal Over by kt tunstall

It isn't very difficult to see why
You are the way you are
Doesn't take a genius to realise
That sometimes life is hard
It's gonna take time
But you'll just have to wait
You're gonna be fine
But in the meantime

Come over here lady
Let me wipe your tears away
Come a little nearer baby
Coz you'll heal over
Heal over
Heal over someday

And I don't wanna hear you tell yourself
That these feelings are in the past
You know it doesn't mean they're off the shelf
Because pain's built to last
Everybody sails alone
But we can travel side by side
Even if you fail
You know that no one really minds
Come over here lady

Don't hold on but don't let go
I know it's so hard
You've got to try to trust yourself
I know it's so hard, so hard

Come over here lady
Let me wipe your tears away
Come a little nearer baby
Coz you'll heal over, heal over, heal over someday

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Dan Savage and Stephen Colbert make me smile

I have been a fan of Dan Savage since I lived in Seattle in the early 90's--even when I often cringed at the explicit details in his new (at the time) column, Savage Love. Let's just say I was much younger, then.

Today, while withering away in a sandtrap of boredom at work, I unearthed a very recent interview of Dan on The Colbert Show regarding his reaction to the passing of California's Proposition 8, which now bars same-sex marriages.

To see the video, click here.

[Disclaimer: Clicking "here" will not turn you gay. Though some may ask you if you got a haircut recently.]

And the quote which will live in infamy:

"It's sort of like 'Gay Survivor.' We're going to outlive, outlast, and outsmart the bigots."

Dan Savage, November 11, 2008
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Once again, I didn't get the memo

A 2004 order permits attacks on terrorists outside war zones.

Some of you may remember my getting a little hot under the collar about the unauthorized attack on Syria on October 26. I had this nagging feeling that there was something wrong with lauching offensives within sovereign nations at our whim. This was primarily because it sure seemed to piss us Americans off when other countries did that to us. Maybe I was just having a bad day...

Well, turns out "we" (the U.S. government) issued a hush-hush memo back in 2004 saying that this was perfectly acceptable. Who penned it? This will shock you: Donald Rumsfeld. Here is the link to the story on The Huffington Post.

Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda in Many Countries

Published: November 9, 2008

An excerpt:

"These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

"...The 2004 order identifies 15 to 20 countries, including Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states, where Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sought sanctuary, a senior administration official said."

And there you have it. Read more!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

There may be a blog cooler than mine

Someone who suddenly thinks he's super-cool just started a new blog. It's true what they say. Anybody can start their own blog!

Okay, so it is pretty cool.
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It's Official: Columbus, WI Decides Presidential Outcome!

Columbus City Hall, founded 1892

For all of you who have long underestimated the electoral power of the small city of Columbus, it's time to eat your words. The results are in, and Obama apparently has us to thank for his decisive and historical victory.

According to the November 8, 2008 Columbus Journal, voting was up a whopping 0.86 percent over 2004. You read that right--nearly an entire percentage point!

In 2004, 2,566 people in this great metropolis voted, while this year, the turnout spiked to 2,588. That's twenty-two people, people!!

As for the split, here's how it went down:

Barack Hussein Obama: 1,542
John Sidney McCain III: 1,000
Mayor Nancy Osterhaus?: 46

This is even more impressive when you consider that the 2000 census of Columbus stood at 4,479. It is loosely estimated to be closer to 7,000 now. That puts our voter turnout somewhere between 37 to 58 percent.

We're already preparing the Columbus Middle School's backyard for Obama's Airforce One Heli, as it only stands to reason that he will be stopping by the thank us any day now.

Gov Doyle stops in for lunch last June.

For the record, reports of voter intimidation were greatly exaggerated.

Photo by Shannon Green
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh, shit.

Thoroughbred Adoption Service Launched for FREE Horses.

This is ALL I need. No doubt this is due to recent legislation banning horse slaughter in the U.S.--a controversial subject due largely to the immense number of unwanted thoroughbreds in the racing industry--but it still makes a small part of me perk up and say, "Did someone just say "free racehorses?"

And another part of me that wonders, are they accepting any trades?

What did she just say?!

I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
I do not need another horse.
Read more!

Writers welcome a literary president-elect

"Writers welcome a literary president-elect" is an interesting piece on Obama's connection with America's writers and literary set (a.k.a. the literary elite ;o). It was written by Hillel Italie, an AP National Writer.

An excerpt:

NEW YORK – Last winter, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison received a phone call from Sen. Barack Obama, then the underdog to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama had contacted Morrison to ask for her support. But before they got into politics, the author and the candidate had a little chat about literature.

"He began to talk to me about one of the books I had written, `Song of Solomon,' and how it had meant a lot to him," Morrison said in a postelection interview from her office at Princeton University, where for years she has taught creative writing.

"And I had read his first book ('Dreams From My Father'). I was astonished by his ability to write, to think, to reflect, to learn and turn a good phrase. I was very impressed. This was not a normal political biography."

For Morrison and others, the election of Obama matters not because he will be the first black president or because the vast majority of writers usually vote for Democrats. Writers welcome Obama as a peer, a thinker, a man of words — his own words.

I recommend the article, attainable by the link in the first sentence.

This June 8, 2007 file photo shows Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison pauses during a Radcliffe Day annual luncheon in Cambridge, Mass. For Morrison and others, the election of Obama matters not only because he will be the first black president or because the vast majority of writers usually vote for Democrats. Writers welcome Obama as a peer, a thinker, a man of words, his own words.(AP Photo/Lisa Poole, FILE)

Read more!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

I will remember this day as long as I live.

The next First Family of the United States of America.

U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) leads his family onstage during his election night victory rally in Chicago, November 4, 2008. Obama holds daughter Sasha's hand, as Mailia and his wife Michelle Obama (R) follow.REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
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Seriously now: VOTE!

At SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, Opie, an Asian small-clawed otter, takes voting seriously in this Nov. 3, 2008 photo. Casting a ballot for his favorite meal, he encourages everyone to go out and vote this election day.(Photo and caption submitted by Jason Collier)

And in a MOST embarrassing gaffe, McCain accidentally votes for the blue team today. Going to be hard to live that one down if he loses!

Sorry, I just can't enough of this picture.

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The Dreams of Sparrows

Last night I was looking for a light film to watch, so I picked what I thought surely must be a comedy, a documentary about the war in Iraq. Imagine my surprise when I was faced with brutal depictions of life in Iraq following the US invasion.

Truly, this film was very compelling, and the director, Hayder Daffar, did a brilliant and seamless job of weaving the highly disparate views of his fellow countrymen together in one sweeping portrait. He represented well the reality that there are as many opinions about this war as there are Iraqis.

I can honestly recommend this movie as highly appropriate for viewing the night before an immensely important US presidential election--or any time you really need a lift.