Location: Southeastern, United States

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Return After Long Absence

I am not so sad. I would love to live a life of nine decades in good-hearted, good-humored pursuit of my cause, with a spouse who was in all ways my equal and a happy family and a day job that I enjoyed and was good at. Joe Straley was a wonderful man, and I want to write more about him, but what I most want is to keep him in my thoughts and feel out what the world is like without him in it.

I also want to talk about normal things. So I'm going to do that.

I am getting really obsessed with this movie. The book sounds incredible. I do think it's ironic how the author starts the book with an explanation of how any movie about war ever made, no matter how pacifist in sentiment, is still essentially war porn to some kid in the midwest who's going to enlist. And now his book is being made into a war movie, a war movie that I think seeks to be The War Movie of Our Time.

At the same time, it sure is timely, isn't it.

Other Movies I Have Seen:

Yes, I watch Firefly.

In fact, I saw the movie on opening night, surrounded by the kind of college kids whose ability to get girlfriends both inspires and frightens me. If ever there were a group of guys who were quintessentially in my league, these are they, scraggly beards, trench coats, and all.

I didn't like the movie. Kaylee whined all the time; all the female actresses had lost too much weight, the editing was choppy, etc. And they ::spoilered:: ::spoilerspoilered::! Also, it didn't stick as closely to the beautifully done space-western tone of the series as I'd like, and the movie actually managed less grandiosity with its big screen as the series pilot accomplished in the same time on the small screen. Nonetheless, it had interesting plot points, good one-liners, and made the poor, non-geeky friend I'd dragged with me laugh. So perhaps one thumb up.

I Heart Me Some Southern Ladies

I am very interested in my family's Southernness. It's a typical-ish story; we were Real Somebodies at some point in history, but my great-grandfather lost the estate and became an agronomist; my grandfather married a tobacco sharecropper's daughter who'd put herself through nursing school, and my father married a divorced Yankee. We have fallen pretty far from grace and connections, I daresay; my brother does still stand to inherit some dented silver flatware and some big heavy furniture, but that may be because he's the only boy of his generation for a couple of removes and people were getting desperate.

I have lived in the South for more than half of my lifetime, but I always find myself worrying that I'm not Southern enough. I put sugar in my grits; I have never in my life eaten a gravy biscuit. My politics are not a problem - red states are not much older than I am - but my inability to throw around Scripture is. (I am working on the Scripture. My favorite line in the Bible is "Joseph spake unto his brothers, but they knew him not." I use that one more than you'd think.

I am particularly concerned by my lack of good Southern manners.

There are, of course, ways to acquire good Southern manners by throwing away big handfuls of money, and even if we had been money-throwing types, I would have hated all of them. I would not have lived through Cotillion. I did briefly consider finishing school, last year, after a meeting where I realized the flawless Southern manners are politically invaluable. My mother forbid me to ask my aunt to set me up with such an institution; my aunt is, in fact, Old Money and was the sort of lady who stabbed her children in the elbows with a fork to enforce good posture.

It turns out I needed none of these drastic measures; what I needed was to work the early morning shift with Appalachian cafeteria ladies. These are the women with the puffy hair who call you honey-baby-doll when asking which vegetable you're wanting. They get up early in the morning to serve breakfast to the athletic teams, who are full of boys from the Eastern Part of State who tip their hats before talking to you (the hat tip has degenerated into a sort of brim-fidget, but it's there) and have very specific needs as regards to their grits. (Scrambled eggs under the grits, gravy sort of over one corner, bacon crumbled on top like, thank you ma'am. And so on.) By the time I finish this job, my manners will be impeccible, and I will call total strangers honey-lamb.

Yes I Do Take Geneology Way Too Seriously

Everyone with my last name, spelled the same, is descended from one guy named Dennis. I have a relative running for Texas state senate as a crazy libertarian who looks just like me. I am related to a lot of Southern-perky round-chinned blond women. I am related to a lot of southerners who are not the least bit blond - a famous basketball coach at a black college pre-integration, for instance - but look like me around the eyes. I know for a fact that one branch of the family is third-generation Puerto Rican. This all matters a great deal to me. Family is important; family is maybe the most important. Family is how my life is situated in history, in culture, in the world. Family is how I got to be who I am, and whatever power I have in the world comes strongly from being part of my people. That's the important thing. I am free, but I am not a free agent.

This post has gotten long - it's been accruing over several days while I decide whether or not to republish - so I'm just going to stop now and upload. I hope you all have been well, and I will talk to you and the internet again in a few more days.



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12:28 PM  
Blogger Dale said...


Big welcome-back hug & grin!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous gerbalblas said...

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8:29 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Hello Dale! Thank you!

Hello little brother... yes it is very rustic isn't it. TELL MOM TO KEEP THE GOOD DVDs. I intend to turn my vegetation setting on full.

11:26 AM  
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