Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hunger Games Video; Write Every Day Challenge, Day #49

Okay, so I'm supposed to be working on my NaNoWriMo novel.  To be exact, I'm supposed to be attempting a 5,000-word day.  But, oh, the tempting internet.  How it foils my plans.  Just to be clear, I still plan on attempting that 5,000-word day, and I've already accomplished 1,447 words today.  I still have time.  But I really wanted to post this video, because OMG it made me choke up.

For those of you that have read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, you have to watch this.  For those of you who haven't read The Hunger Games, go out there and buy it!!!  Do not check it out from your library - that's a waste of time.  BUY. IT.  Then go buy the second book in the series, Catching Fire.  Then buy the third and final book, Mockingjay.  Actually, just buy them all at once because they are that good.  And for those of you that haven't read it, and didn't listen to me when I said to go buy the trilogy, you have been forewarned:  this video contains spoilers.  [Edit:  I do not think that going to the library is a waste of time - I love my library and I go there very often.  I'm just saying that these books are so good that you'll want to own them anyway - might as well go ahead and buy them.]

Oh, and it also contains violence, so viewer discretion is advised.

Okay, so I totally choked up when she did the whole 3-finger salute.  Sure, the acting's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good.  All I can say is that the big-screen version of this movie better BRING IT, otherwise, we're better off with these fans making it!  What do you guys think of this fan-made clip?

And now, back to noveling!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Soapbox Rant - WBC Must Be Stopped; Write Every Day Challenge, Day #46

Alright, it's time for another one of Andrea's Soapbox Rants.  My friends Courtney and Holly suggested that I made this a weekly theme, like Soapbox Sundays.  I agree - but this topic is way too important to wait until Sunday.

But before I get up on my Soapbox, let's have one ray of light in this post - tomorrow I will be seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1!!!!!!!  I am SO excited!

Now, down to it.  So I've talked before about Fred Phelps,  Reverend of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas (see my post The Mantis Connection: Love Conquers Hate: Write Every Day Challenge, Day #8).  He and his followers (i.e., his family) have been protesting events for years.  They spread the messages "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates America."  Their delusional beliefs not only include the idea that homosexuals are going to hell (which I know is still a common belief and is not held only by the members of this church but by many Americans - I have also discussed this in the same post mentioned above), but that all Americans are going to hell.  (And they're American, but I guess they think that they're exempt from this.)  They have protested funerals of homosexuals such as Matthew Shepard (if you don't know about this story, go here:  I know Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source, but this page does give a good overview), and also have been protesting the funerals of straight members of the military, because, as I understand it, the military allows gays to serve, and because the military uses IEDs, and they hate IEDs because someone planted one in their church.

First of all, let me just say, for those of you who haven't read my previous articles, that I am one of the biggest advocates for gay rights that I know.  I don't think that gay people are going to hell.  I don't think that being gay is a choice.  I don't think that gay people are any different from straight people.  I think we are all human, and we are all equal.  I also have a lot of problems with organized religion.  I believe in God, but I don't agree with a lot of what is taught in churches.  That's another story, and I am not trying to force my beliefs on anyone.  But that is what Phelps and his family are trying to do.  They are trying to force their twisted, radical, ignorant views on everyone else.

And now they're targeting my home state.  And even worse than that, they're targeting our children.

So this past Saturday, Westboro Baptist Church picketed at the funeral of Army Sergeant Jason James McCluskey in McAlester, Oklahoma.  However, while there were about six or so protesters, police said that there were over a thousand people there who were against the Westboro Baptist Church.  The church members left, and found that their tires were slashed.  They then found that most people in the town were unwilling to help them.  They ended up having a company tow them to a Wal-Mart outside of town.  (Once again, this is how I understand the story.  For an official report from an Oklahoma news station, go here:  

But now it's gone even farther.  Phelps and his family now have decided that, in revenge for their slashed van tires, they are going to protest the funerals of Oklahoma children.  Here is a link to this story from the same news station:  

I personally believe highly in the freedom of speech.  I also believe highly in the freedom of religion.  And the members of this church have been protected by those freedoms.  But this is just wrong.  It was wrong when they picketed Matthew Shepard's funeral.  It was wrong when they picketed at my brother's graduation because one of the students (not my brother) who was graduating was an openly gay male who started a Gay-Straight group at the school.  It was wrong when they picketed the funerals of straight military members, simply because the WBC doesn't support the military.  (Oh, and I guess I've found the loophole in my last post - I said that everyone in America supports the troops even if they don't support the war.  These wackos don't.  They don't even support America.)  And it is wrong to protest the funerals of innocent children.  It is wrong to protest funerals, period.

And it was wrong of the people in McAlester to slash their tires.  Violence is never the answer.  I know this was a passive-aggressive form of violence, but it was violence none the less.  As one of Phelps' own children - a child of his who is no longer in contact with the rest of her family, and does not support their beliefs - said in the documentary Fall from Grace, the best thing to do when you see them is to ignore them.  I know this is extremely hard, and I know that I would want to shout lots of things at these people if I saw them.  But as the same child said, these people are pros at this.  They have been doing it for something like 15 years now.  They've heard every retort, every comment that you can think of to say to them.  They know exactly how to respond when you say something to them.  And that's what they want.  They want you to yell at them.  They want you to say something so that they can refute it with their twisted logic.  They want the attention.  So the best thing to do, and the hardest thing to do, is to ignore it.  The media should be ignoring them.  I shouldn't even be writing this post.

But the problem is, that although these people have the freedom of speech, there is something wrong with the fact that we let people purposefully hurt someone else.  No, they are not physically hurting other people.  But they are verbally abusing them.  Their protests at funerals are nothing but the loud, verbal abuse of the people who are being buried, and the people who love them.  I cannot imagine being at a funeral for someone I love, and to look up and see and hear people saying that God hated my friend or family member who has just died, and that that person is going to hell.  No, I'm sorry.  Eff you.  God says not to judge.  He's the one who is going to judge us.  And you can believe that I'm wrong all day.  You can believe that homosexuality is wrong.  It's your right.  But it is wrong for someone to be able to abuse the right to a freedom of speech to throw hateful words at someone who is grieving.  

It all goes back to this bullying epidemic.  Our country is full of bullying.  It's not just in high schools and junior highs.  People bully others simply by saying that someone else is wrong because of their race, their religion, their sexuality, etc.  Look at the recent political elections.  Politicians bullying each other in their television and radio ads, during debates, during interviews.  When has it become so accepted to be so hurtful towards others?  And we allow it, left and right.  It has become the norm.

And that is what these people, these supposed followers of Christ, are doing.  They are bullying, are verbally abusing people that have never done anything to them.  People who simply want to pay their last respects to a loved one.  And they are verbally abusing these people who have died, who often had nothing to do with the things that the WBC members don't agree with.

Something has to be done.  I am tired of these people getting away with this, simply because they have the right to freedom of speech.  Something needs to change.  And by God, if nothing does change, you guys may just see me turn into a politician.  Especially if Sarah Palin runs for and gets elected as President in 2012.  That's a whole different story.  But I can tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they're going, America definitely is going to hell in a hand basket.  But not for the reasons those WBC wackos think.  They're the reason.  Not the other way around.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day and Facebook Chain Posts; Write Every Day Challenge, Day #39

Okay, this is where I might lose a few followers.  But I'm in such an irritated mood right now, I don't really care.  (No, wait.  I care.  Please don't stop following me.  Please still be my friend.  I'm just irritated and I have to vent.  I do not mean anything against any of my followers, because as far as I know, none of you have participated in these Chain Posts.  I have my opinions; everyone has their own.  And I truly apologize to my friends if the following statements make you mad.  I am not trying to be mean.  I am just venting.  We're still friends, right? ;) )

Today is Veterans' Day.  And I am all about honoring the Veterans, as well as all of our current troops here in the US or abroad.  But I have to get on my soap box.

I am a huge Facebook fanatic.  I spend a lot of time every day looking at my News Feed.  Pathetic, maybe, but that's not the point here.  The point is that I always see people posting these statements about supposed "taboo" subjects that they want people to re-post.  You've all seen them.  They're like, "Babies are a miracle.  Re-post this if you have ever had a baby, lost a baby, had to give a baby up" blah blah blah.  Okay, I've had a baby.  I've never had to give one up and I have never had to have an abortion but I think I still fall under this category.  So you've got me interested in your post.  Then it says something like "Most people won't post this because losing a baby is still a taboo subject."  Uh, really?  I know abortion is a taboo subject, and some people might not agree with putting a baby up for adoption, but are miscarriages considered taboo?  Well, maybe, but that's still not my point.  My point is that whoever (whomever? I'm not sure about this grammatical rule) wrote this post originally had the audacity to claim that they were better than others because they wrote this post, and that the tiny percentage of people who re-posted this are better than the others who chose NOT to re-post.  Well, first of all, when you exclude people in your regulations as to who is to re-post ("Re-post if you have ever had a baby, lost a baby, etc." - this particular example did not include people who have never had children to the list of those who should re-post), that means that a LOT of people won't re-post.  Then to say that "most people won't re-post this because it's such a taboo subject" is like saying "Hey, you there, reading my post.  If you don't re-post this, you're an ass and you have no feelings."  

Excuse me, but I find this ridiculous.  First of all, the audacity of this statement makes me absolutely not want to re-post.  Also, I've never liked Chain Letters.  And that's what these are.  Facebook Chain Posts.  They've simply changed "Mail this to 10 friends or you'll have bad luck" to "Re-post this or everyone will know what a heartless asshole you are."  

Okay, with that off my chest (sigh), I move on to the posts about Veterans and our troops.  Often these are also Chain Posts, but a little different.  This is one that I saw today:
"A Combat Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.  Regardless of personal political views, that is an honor and a sacrifice.  There are way too many people in this country who no longer remember that fact.  In honor of Veterans' Day, re-post this if you know and/or love a Veteran!"
Alright.  So this one is a bit different than the "taboo subject" ones.  But it still has that "You're an asshole if you don't re-post this" vibe about it.  I like the first sentence.  It's well-written and poignant.  But then we get to the next sentence.  "Regardless of personal political views, that is an honor and a sacrifice."  Yes, this is true.  But why do politics need to be mentioned here?  What they're trying to say here is that we all should support the troops, regardless of our political affiliation.  My point is that we all DO support the troops, regardless of our political affiliation.  Politics have nothing to do with it.  We all recognize that these men and women risk their lives for our freedoms every day.  That many lose their lives for it.  I am perfectly aware that thousands and thousands of soldiers have lost their lives so that I am free to sit here and write this little post.  I am not trying to dishonor them, or their fellow troops that are still alive, or their families.  I support them 100%.  I could not do what they do, and I have the highest respect for them.  And this is my point.  EVERYONE does.  Have you ever met an American in your life that didn't support the troops?  Sure, you may have met someone who didn't support the current war, but they always support the troops.  Every single one of them supports the troops.  

Yes, I agree that our brothers and sisters in the service deserve a better life while serving and when they return.  I saw Oprah.  I know that thousands of our female (and male) veterans are homeless.  This is ridiculous.  They deserve to be paid as well as many of the celebrities and athletes out there.  But my point is that these posts, while trying to honor the men and women in our armed services, simply make you feel like an asshole if you don't re-post.  Oh, and don't think that I don't know that when they say "Regardless of personal political views, that is an honor and a sacrifice.  There are way too many people in this country who no longer remember that fact" they are talking about Democrats.  Many Republicans seem to think that, because many Democrats do not support the war in Iraq or the War on Terrorism that they have forgotten about our troops and that they don't support them.  My point is that this is simply NOT TRUE.  We all support our troops, Republicans and Democrats.  Therefore the Chain Post's implication that we SHOULD all support the troops, "regardless of personal political views," is unnecessary.  You don't need to say that we "should" do something when we all do it already.  And I simply do not agree with the statement that "there are way too many people in this country who no longer remember that fact."  This is absurd.  Like I said above, how many people have you met in your lifetime that outwardly say that they do not support the troops?  (Remember, I'm talking about the troops, not the war.)

Okay, so obviously I'm not going to re-post this because 1) it's a Chain Post, 2) it gets its kicks making others seem like heartless asses, and 3) it's simply incorrect.

The posts I've seen today that I do like, however:

  • "Thank you to all that are/have served our country."  See.  Short and sweet, no blame or derision.  Just a simple thank you.
  • "Remembering those who have served."  Again, short and sweet and to the point.
  • "Thankful for all the veterans..."  Again.  Thankful.
  • "Happy Veterans' Day.  Thank you so much to all those who serve and have served our country."  See a pattern?
  • "[Person's name] is so thankful to every man and woman who has served our country.  Happy Veterans' Day to you! :)"
  • "Thank you to all who have served and are serving in the military.  God bless you and your families!"
These people, some of which are Republican, some of which are Democrat, have got it right.  They thank the men and women who have served their country, and they did not feel the need to re-post a Chain Post, nor did they feel the need to make others feel wrong or heartless because they supposedly don't support the troops.  Once again, this is wrong.  Everyone supports the troops.  Just because someone doesn't support the war doesn't mean they don't support the troops.

And, in conclusion, I just want to say something to the troops.  Thank you.  Thank each and every one of you for what you have done, what you are doing, what you will do.  You are all braver than I will ever be.  You are more selfless than I will ever be.  It is because of you that I am able to make this ridiculous post.  It is because of you that I am able to have these crazy opinions and spout them off whenever I want to.  It is because of you that we have things like Facebook.  It is because of you that I have friends who, regardless if they agree with me or not, will still be my friends because they realize that I have my opinions and that I mean no disrespect towards anyone.  Um, maybe that's a stretch.  But in all honesty, please believe me, troops.  I support you.  And I really believe that everyone in the US is behind you, even if they do not support the war.

And truly, friends, I am simply venting.  I do not hate Republicans or even people who re-post Chain Posts.  I do not hate anyone.  I just don't like those Chain Posts.  And I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Write Every Day Challenge, Day #36

It's been over a week since my last blog post, but that does NOT mean that I haven't been writing!  NaNoWriMo is in full swing, and I've been writing every day for that.  But my friend, Courtney, has expressed how much she enjoys reading my blogs on a regular basis, so I thought I'd go ahead and blog today.  Too bad this blog doesn't count towards my NaNo word count!  (Hmm, that gives me an idea...) ;)

The main problem I have with this blog is that I have so little to write about.  I come up with some topic ideas, but I quickly throw them out because they just don't seem interesting.  Some random topic ideas I've had recently:

  • How track #6 on a compact disc is often the best song.  (Track #7 and #2 are often quite good as well.)
  • My take on a completely ridiculous video I saw today.  (I won't get into this one because it's so completely asinine, and the horrible fact is that some people in the world actually BELIEVE it.)
  • Comments on children's television.  (This is actually not too bad of an idea - I could review television shows aimed at children, rate them and rank them based on entertainment and educational value.)  I think I might actually do this!  But not today - I'll have to figure out my rating system, and then start watching some shows!
Anyway, aside from the fact that I just came up with a pretty good blog topic, it is actually pretty hard for me to come up with new topics all the time.  So maybe this review of children's shows will give my blog the kick in the pants it needs!

So, sorry for the lame excuse for a blog post today, but I want to get back to my NaNo novel!