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Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Ranting incessantly

I’m back!

So, maybe you’ve noticed (or not) that I haven’t posted anything here for…awhile.

Okay, it’s been a REALLY LONG TIME. But I have a good excuse, and not just my devastating laziness.

As the title of this post and many previous posts with similar titles would indicate, I like to rant incessantly.

You could even say it’s my jam, if you’re inclined to quote obscure movie lines (which I am).
But why should I bitch and complain ad nauseam about everything when everyone else seems to be doing the same 24/7 via social media? In the current environment, I’m just another voice in the vast sea of complainers.

That’s why I stopped.

Because once everyone starts doing something, it loses its appeal.

Katdish: trendsetter.

Instead, I’ve decided to NOT watch the news, limit my time on Facebook and Twitter and re-immerse myself back into the non-virtual world.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing this month while not watching/stressing/posting/tweeting/arguing about the news:

  1. I made this wreath: 
  2. and this one: 
  3. and whatever this is (It should be noted that I don’t even like Valentines Day. I just wanted to get my craft on): 
  4. I cleaned out the garage. Did you know that you can take old paint, motor oil, antifreeze and other stuff you’re not supposed to put out with the rest of your garbage to sites that will dispose of them properly? Did you also know that it is impossible to throw away old garbage cans? Even if you spray paint in both English and Spanish on said garbage cans that they are trash and to please take them? Personally, I think the garbage man knows full well that you’re trying to throw away your garbage cans and he’s just messing with you by not taking them. Can’t say that I blame him. How many perks do you really get as a garbage man? But I digress…
  5. I started recycling. We don’t have curb pick up in our neighborhood, which is why I have been reluctant (read: too lazy) to recycle, but the junior high where our church meets on Sunday mornings has recycling bins that help raise money for the school: Win/win/win. 
  6. I discovered (and rediscovered) some great music on demand thanks to Alexa. Oh, sure, she’s listening to every word you say and is probably spying on your family for the government, but she’s got a great playlist… 
  7. Read a great devotional collection by Ed Blonski,  In My Father’s Footsteps: short but powerful, easily relatable stories that have helped me reconnect with God and His people.                                                    (Click on the title and go buy it from Amazon.) 
  8. I spruced up my front porch with this new planter 
  9. and my back porch with this old one 
  10. I discovered that’s there is more than one way to recycle empty soda bottles. You can use them for drainage in oversized pots in lieu of rocks and save a few bucks and your back when it comes time for moving it. 
  11. I battled and defeated a monster sago palm and relocated some of her “pups”. 
  12. Organized my pantry 
  13. Spent WAY too much time on Pinterest browsing ways to organize on the cheap. (Why, yes. Those ARE Diet Coke fridge packs covered in Contact paper. Thanks for asking.)
  14. Organized the space under the kitchen sink, and then cleaned the cabinets after looking at this picture.
  15. Got back into the habit of reading books without backlighting or buttons. 
  16. Made some “glitter” or “mindfulness” jars–two as gifts as one for myself. Here’s the premise behind the jars: You shake them up when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, breathe deeply and sit still until all the glitter has floated to the bottom of the jar. Now, if you know me, you know I don’t buy into any of that New Age, crystal-gripping hippie crap, but it does force you to slow down and clear your head a bit. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! You can find instructions for how to make your own on (what else) Pinterest. 
  17. I spent some quality “me” time on the back porch bird and squirrel watching. I also chased off a rather large brown hawk by buzzing it with a golf ball. Don’t worry, I didn’t hurt him. I just fluffed his feathers a little. He can take his circle of life to someone else’s back yard. 
  18. I started using a Panda Planner. I’ve always avoided planners because I find the way they’re set up with schedules and goals and whatnot very confining and not conducive to my willy-nilly way of organizing my tasks and thoughts, but then I remembered that I’m in charge. I just jot stuff down the way that works for me. Also? It has coloring pages! 
  19. This one’s a biggie: I started praying about things I felt powerless to change instead of worrying, fretting and complaining about them. It’s not even about whether my prayers have been answered, but more about acknowledging that I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I talk it out with God and then I let it go. That is, until I don’t. Then I simply repeat the process. It’s like the glitter jar–don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
  20. I wrote this blog post as a means to sharing what I’ve discovered and rediscovered by allowing myself to be unplugged for long stretches of time in the hopes that you might be inspired to do the same.

Sorry/you’re welcome

and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the inter webs.

 

Editorial Note: This post isn’t meant to open a dialogue about all the heinous and maddening things that have been happening, nor should anyone infer by my lack of public outrage that I’m somehow no longer outraged. I am.

I have just come to realize that all my impassioned pleading changed not one heart or mind. So I’m trying to focus on my ACTUAL sphere of influence and celebrate those things that bring us together instead of all the things that tear us apart.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Fed up with the Feds

image from abcnews.com

image from abcnews.com

“Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” — Daniel Schrag, White House Climate Adviser

(In case you’re unfamiliar with Daniel Schrag, he is Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, Director of the University Center for the Environment, and Director of the Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography at Harvard University. Educated at UC Berkeley and Yale.)

No sir, you Ivy League Educated Utopian Egghead, what’s needed is for you to appreciate that there are hard working Americans whose entire lives and communities are dependent upon the coal industry.

What you need to understand is that while the federal government seeks to crush energy production methods you deem unclean with unattainable environmental standards no other country in the world even comes close to, what you’re really doing is declaring a war on jobs.

Coal mine in China (from nytimes.com)

Coal mine in China (from nytimes.com)

You’re declaring war on the ability for hard working men to provide for their families the only way they know how; the way their daddies and their granddaddies did. And while you may disdain their lack of education or that they would actually choose to work in a coal mine rather than sit in an office all day, who the hell are you to decide how another human being chooses to live their life?

“There are a lot of generations that live in these communities, where your mom and your dad live here, your grandparents live here, your aunts and uncles, and all of them may be in a different form of the coal mining business, but when it goes, the community is gone, because people are going to have to leave to find work.

We’re begging for the right to work. That’s all we’re asking for. We’re not asking for any favors, we’re not asking for any handouts, we’re not asking for any concessions. All we’re asking for is the opportunity to work, pay taxes, provide electricity and provide for our families.” –Rocky Hackworth, Tyler Morgan Mine General Manager

It’s been several years since I’ve worked in the energy industry, but in the decade and change I worked for both major and independent oil and gas producers, never once did any VP, manager, engineer, geologist, foreman or field hand ever suggest that corners be cut when it came to environmental compliance and safety. I’m not saying it never happens, but it was my experience that every person I worked with complied with and oftentimes exceeded all state and federal laws and regulations and made damn sure everyone working there followed suit.

But that was a different time.

That was a time when the regulators were sometimes unreasonable (like the time the woman from Fisheries and Wildlife took a picture immediately following the detonation of explosives set to blast the legs off an offshore platform then instructed my boss to count the number of redfish said explosion killed–literally thousands of fish), but mostly they worked with the industry. Their job was to make sure we were exploring for, drilling and producing oil and gas in a manner responsible and respectful to the environment and property owners.

Not like today, where it seems the job of Federal regulators is to destroy the reputations and profits of the evil oil, gas and coal executives.

And if hundreds of thousands of men and women lose their jobs and their abilities to provide for their families, too bad for them.

They should have gone to work for a green energy company.

Or better yet, get a job with the federal government.

While you may think it noble to move towards your Utopian paradise, you may want to wait until you discover a green energy that’s actually viable, because wind and solar aren’t even close, no matter how many taxpayer subsidized billions you pour into them.

In the meantime, you might want to get a job outside the fantasy worlds of Washington and academia and see what the real world is all about.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: The new normal

image courtesy of photobucket.com

In my last post, Trading misery for gratitude, I decided to set aside my grumbling and simply focus on all the many blessings–both tangible and intangible–in my life; in all of our lives.

Well, I did that.

But Thanksgiving’s over with, isn’t it?

And I’ve got a few things I need to get off my chest before we start singing Christmas songs at church and that whole “peace on earth good will towards man” sentiment kicks in.

Do you remember that quote I posted? Here it is again:

“If you want to be miserable, think about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you and what people think of you.” -Charles Kingsley

If that quote is accurate, then I am surrounded by miserable people. People so focused on their own wants and needs that the rest of us simply become peripheral objects in a universe in which they are at the center. An old boyfriend of mine used to tell people that he was a self-indulgent, hedonistic opportunist.  He wasn’t, of course. It was meant as a joke. Because seriously–how many people do you know who would fit that description, let alone admit to it? But lately it seems that’s become the norm. We say, “it’s funny because it’s true”. In this case, it’s not funny because it’s true.

Examples of this mindset abound. The first example I witnessed at the airport security checkpoint. I’ve often been frustrated and baffled by news reports of travelers being randomly selected for pat downs and full body scans by TSA screeners. I’ve wondered what threat a 5 year old boy or someone’s sweet little grandmother could possibly pose to the safety of other passengers.

It wasn’t until I witnessed a frail, white haired lady being helped from her wheelchair in order to be escorted through the full body scanner that it occurred to me why this may happen. It’s because little old ladies and young children DON’T POSE ANY THREAT TO THE SAFETY OF OTHER PASSENGERS. “Randomly” select them, and you’ve fulfilled your security quota without actually having do the most important part of your job: preventing dangerous people from boarding airplanes. Because let’s face it, that would be potentially dangerous for you at worst, and a giant pain in the ass at best. Old ladies and crying children don’t require much paperwork or effort on your part. Mystery solved.

Determined not to allow this lapse in human dignity ruin my vacation, I boarded the airplane with my family and set off for our destination. The rest of the day was uneventful. We landed safely, picked up our rental car. Over the river and through to woods to grandmother’s house we went. Although technically, there wasn’t a river or any trees as we were driving through West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, area motto: Gee, your oil well smells terrific!

Thanksgiving day was spent as it should be: eating too much, watching football and spending time with family. It wasn’t until Friday morning back at the hotel that I was reminded of the shortcomings of humanity.

The Holiday Inn Express in Carlsbad, NM is a lovely hotel. Nice rooms, friendly staff and a wonderful complimentary breakfast bar in a large room with several tables and chairs provided for guests to sit and enjoy breakfast. As expected, it was fairly crowded on the morning after Thanksgiving. Families gathering and fueling up for a day of shopping or more visiting with relatives. But traffic flowed well. People filled their plates and moved aside for the next person waiting. Such was not the case on the opposite side of the room at the coffee bar.

The above picture is an accurate representation of the coffee bar. What it doesn’t show is the vast expanse of counter space on either side of the coffee carafes. This is the actual coffee bar:

Imagine my caffeine deprived frustration when one person, who had yards of counter space on either side of the coffee carafes, instead chose to remain smack dab in front of them after she had already filled three cups full of coffee. She had not, however, added the appropriate amounts of cream and sugar for each individual cup, and apparently was in a deep state of concentration, no doubt trying to remember if her mother wanted one sugar or two. I’m sure that’s why she only glanced in my general direction when I walked up behind her with an empty coffee cup in hand. Not wanting to break her concentration (because I’m thoughtful like that), I returned to my table, set my cup down, walked to the other side of the room, served myself a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage, returned to my table, picked up my cup and again approached the coffee bar. WHERE SHE WAS STILL STANDING IN FRONT OF THE COFFEE. I think I’m a pretty friendly person, a marginally patient person, but seriously:

“Excuse me”, I said. “May I get in here and get a cup of coffee?” She seemed a little miffed, and why wouldn’t she be? Considering the fact that she would have to move herself to the right a full 12 inches in order for me to get to the coffee.

Was the coffee incident a big deal? Not really.

But it speaks to a larger problem. I’m guessing that she did not approach that coffee bar with malice intent to prevent others from getting coffee. It simply never occurred to her before she planted herself in the center of the coffee bar that other people might actually want to get a cup of coffee.

Because as I’ve already stated, when you’re the center of the universe, everyone and everything else is simply peripheral and unimportant. I mourn for a society where this behavior is not only accepted, it is celebrated.

Don’t be the lady at the coffee bar or the TSA screener at the airport. Choose to be gracious, not because it’s easier, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Pardon my while I rant incessantly: Olympic Girl Power

Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger”

This is the official motto for the Olympic Games. The 2012 London Games are historic. London is the first city to host a modern day Olympic competition three times. These games also hold the distinction of being the first in which every country has a female athlete competing in the games. The United States contingent actually has more women than men for the first time.

And I think that’s awesome.

I love the back stories for some of these athletes. Stories of great sacrifice and determination, physical, emotional and financial for the athletes and their families. Thousands of hours spent training, thousands of dollars spent on trainers and equipment, in some cases, money these athletes can’t afford to spend, but their families find a way. All in pursuit of their Olympic dreams. Some dream of gold, others simply dream of being good enough to qualify. For every one that does qualify, there are hundreds who try and fail. Which is why I hold each and every one of these athletes–whether they medal or not–in the highest regard. Because just to qualify is a victory in and of itself.

And then there’s Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani.

At first glance her story is an inspirational one. One of two women allowed to compete from Saudi Arabia. This is a milestone for a country where women are considered little more than property. Shahrkhani would represent her country in Women’s Judo.

Her dream seemed to be coming to an end before it started when the IOC informed her that she would not be allowed to participate in the games wearing a head covering, as it might pose a danger to herself and her opponents. She was only able to compete in judo after a compromise between Olympic organizers, the international judo federation and Saudi officials that cleared the way for her to wear a modified hijab. The following story from ABC paints a pretty picture of boundaries being overcome, milestones being made:

What the story doesn’t mention is that, unlike most athletes who have devoted the entire lives just for the Olympics, Shahrkhani wasn’t even required to qualify for the games. So enamored with the idea that Saudi would allow women to compete at all, she was given a free pass to an event hundreds of athletes tried and failed to qualify for.

That bothered me. A lot. But I was willing to give her a pass because what she would do was historical, and I actually began to feel sympathy towards her because she seemed to be a pawn in a game of international political correctness run amok. Until I learned of her Judo ranking. With the exception of Shahrkhani, all competitors in Olympic Judo hold advanced black belts.

Shahrkhani? She’s a blue belt.

judo belts

If you’ll notice, a blue belt is an entire belt color away from a black belt–let alone an advanced black belt. I have a friend who’s son just earned his orange belt in Karate. He’s the same distance away from her blue belt as she is from the other competitor’s black belts. He’s 8. He still wears Sponge Bob pajamas.

Now, you may be saying to yourselves, “But katdish! I watched the video! She is clearly wearing a black belt!” Yes, she is. But only because she and her father were whining because it was unfair that everyone else was wearing a black belt and she had to wear a blue one.

And once again, people who should ensure the highest standards in Olympic competition caved to political correctness and allowed her to wear a belt she didn’t earn while competing in an event she never should have been in in the first place.

You can call Shahrkhani’s story historic and ground breaking.

Me? I calls them likes I sees them.

A slap in the face to every athlete that actually earned the right to represent their country.

Despite this black eye to the integrity of the games, I’m still loving me some Olympics, though…

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Anthropomorphizing your pet

If this dog could talk, it would be saying, "I hate you."

I think I’ve mentioned how much I like the book Watership Down. So much so, that I’m rereading the Richard Adams classic. For those of you who don’t know, Watership Down is a tale of a group of rabbits who leave their warren at the pleading of a little rabbit named Fiver. Fiver has a vision that their home will be destroyed. The book follows their many adventures on their journey to find a new home.

Obviously, Adams anthropomorphizes the rabbits–that is–he gives them certain human characteristics like the ability to talk, otherwise it would be a pretty lame book. But I knew going in that rabbits can’t actually talk because I’m smart like that. Besides, it’s a story of very real human struggles told effectively through the eyes of rabbits. It works.

But here’s what doesn’t work for me.

People who think their pets are their children and the advertisers and pet industry executives who take advantage of their stupidity.

I’ll skip the not-so-subtle message of this commercial which says your cat’s well being takes precedent over your significant other’s. But since when do cats give a crap about breakfast? Are you telling me that the creature who just laid a bloody lizard on your chest while you were napping on the couch has a preference for eggs in the morning? Breakfast food for cats? Seriously?

And then there’s this:

Let’s ignore the fact that the woman is laughing while that big, filthy dog is shaking flour all over her kitchen and then chases him around the island in slow motion and get to the heart of the matter: Dog cookies. I don’t know about your dog, but mine has been known to eat cat feces right out of the litter box, and I never once recall him asking me to chop it up and bake it into a cookie before doing so.

I’m not a pet hater. I’ve had pets my entire life. I know they provide unconditional love (well, dogs anyway) and companionship. Our cat Rudy and our dog Buddy Love are both a part of the family. But they’re animals, not people.

Paul McCartney is quoted as saying, “You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.”

And I would agree with that to a certain extent, but when you begin to give the lives of animals precedent over the lives of fellow human beings, the world’s been turned upside down.

Just stop it, please.

How not to be a jerk in a parking lot

Maybe it’s just me, but lately I’ve noticed that many people aren’t as courteous as they used to be. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Texas, and it really is true what the lyrics to London Homesick Blues says, the home of the armadillo has the friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever seen. Of course, I may be slightly biased.

And while I still think people are generally friendly when they’re face to face, something strange comes over people when they get behind the wheel of a car. It’s as if being surrounded by metal and glass gives you permission to release your inner jerk. Few places highlight this phenomenon better than a public parking lot–more specifically, a grocery or super box store parking lot. So as a public service, I have compiled a handy checklist in order that you might determine whether you’re being a jerk in a parking lot. I know–you’re welcome.

You might be (and by “might” I mean you most probably are) a jerk if:

  • Despite the fact that every tenth parking space in the grocery store parking lot has been replaced by a shopping cart corral, you leave your cart in the closest free space available, quite often precariously close to someone else’s car. Could you BE any lazier or inconsiderate?
  • You remove your groceries from the shopping cart but not the trash you’ve accumulated from free sampling food in the store. That’s disgusting.
  • You take up two parking spaces in the hopes that no one will ding up your fancy car. Which incidentally, makes people want to take a key to the paint job or at the very least put a booger on your door handle. (Or so I’ve heard.)
  • You are the proprietor of a business who puts flyers on people’s windshield. Not only will I never, ever darken the door of your business, but you’ve also denied my the pleasure of balling up your flyer and throwing it on the ground, which is what I really want to do, but I’m not a litterbug.
  • You remove flyers from your windshield and throw them on the ground.
  • You park in the handicapped parking space when you’re not handicapped. And yes, I’m talking to you, Guy who borrowed his grandmother’s handicapped parking permit hang tag.
  • You notice that the lot is full and people are waiting on parking spaces, and yet rather than quickly exiting the space you’re occupying, you choose to change the radio, check your lipstick, email, twitter and Words with Friends games.
  • You leave your young child unattended in the car while you run in to pick up “just a few items”. Not only is this jerky, but it’s illegal in many states.
  • You sit in your jacked-up hoopty, windows down and stereo blasting as the bass loosens the fillings in my teeth. We get it–your stereo is loud and you’re a player. Nobody cares, Homey.

These are but a few incidents I’ve observed while in parking lots. Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to parking lot etiquette or lack thereof?

Editor’s Note: I’m pretty sure this will be the first in a series, because life gives us endless opportunities to act like jerks, no?

And speaking of not being a jerk, as fate would have it, my friend Janet Oberholtzer wrote a post entitled How not to be a jerk when someone’s life changes which offers some real, practical suggestions on how to be kind and not say the wrong thing when someone you know has experienced loss. It’s surprising how many of the things you think you’re supposed to say aren’t at all helpful. You should check it out.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Attractional, Missional and the ones left behind

Deep, breathy sigh…

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around all the information I heard at Exponential 2012–the largest annual gathering of church planters in the world.

Four years ago, the missional church movement was beginning to gain momentum. It was right about that time when I read The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay and loved what they had to say about living out our faith through living in community with one another and serving the world. After all, the point and the process of my church, C3 (also known as the “mission statement”) is Love God and people, Live in community with one another and Serve the world, or more simply: Love, Live, Serve.

So I was very excited to see that Hugh and Matt would be conducting some workshops at Exponential this year. One of particular interest to me was Practical Tools for Moving Consumers to Missionaries and Small Groups to Missional Communities. (Consumers being people who typically attend “big church” on Sunday but don’t get involved in missions or small groups.) As it turned it, Matt Smay was not in the session. Brandon Hatmaker, pastor of Austin New Church and author of Barefoot Church tag teamed with Hugh Halter for this session. And while I greatly appreciated the point and their process for discipling people through missional living and serving the poor, at the end of the session, something was nagging at me.

Big time.

Because for me, the process was more about weeding out those people who just wanted Jesus on Sunday morning without delving into the bigger question of WHY that was okay to only want Jesus on their own terms. I left the session feeling like nominal Christians were someone else’s problem, not the problem of the missional church. I was in such a lather about the whole thing that I couldn’t focus on the main session which followed the workshop. Instead, I began to scribble madly in my notebook the following:

Rich Young Ruler

Process seems effective at weeding out those consumers who have no interest in becoming committed followers, but I don’t see much in the way of moving consumers into something more. I understand that it’s easy to label these people as Pharisees and wash our hands of them, but people who don’t think they need Jesus–or worse, those who think they have a saving knowledge and relationship with Jesus but don’t–are the ones who so desperately need Him!

Then there’s the resource issue. Had the rich young ruler said, “Yes, Jesus. I choose you and everything I own belongs to the kingdom”, how would that have played out?

How do we lead people with financial resources away from consumerism into discipleship? And if they’re stubborn and don’t want to move, do we let them go and just say, “Good luck with all of THAT?”

By giving up on them and calling them Pharisees, are we not doing some of the hard things that Jesus would have us do because they’re easy to demonize? What could God do with their resources if we somehow lead them to an understanding of what it is to give your life to Christ? Without telling them that God will bless them–because if we do that, we’re just selling them more consumerism. Maybe they won’t be blessed. Maybe they’ll be sifted. But because they have much they are expected to give much. Are they a lost cause? A nut too tough to crack and bring into the family of God?

Still feeling very unsettled (and needing to pee because I’d had about 2 gallons of coffee that morning), I excused myself from the worship center to find a bathroom. Guess who was manning a booth on the way to the bathroom? Give up? Hugh Halter, Matt Smay and Brandon Hatmaker. Lucky them.

On my way back from the bathroom, I stopped at the booth. It went something like this:

Hugh Halter: How are you doing?

Me: I’m very frustrated.

Hugh Halter: Well, bring it on.

I proceeded to unload on them what I had madly scribbled in my notebook. I shared with them that I live in a community where you can’t swing a bat without hitting ten or so churches. Churches filled with disciples but also with what they would classify as Consumer Christians. I expressed that I did believe in their process of making disciples through missional living, but wondered aloud about those who didn’t choose that path. Are they not worth the trouble? Do we have a process of reaching those who think they are found but are really lost? Does God value them less because they seem to value Him less? Brandon talked me down off the ledge a bit. He shared an email from a wealthy man whose life had been transformed by serving the poor, and I am grateful that people are being transformed by truly living out their faith. He also told me that we can’t change people’s hearts, only God can do that. In the end, Brandon gave me a free copy of his book. I’m sure it was only partly to get rid of this raving lunatic woman at their booth.

But I’m still feeling frustrated.

I still think we’re leaving folks behind. People who may be as close as a conversation over a cup of coffee.

And I suppose that’s gotta start with me.

What do you think? Are nominal Christians the burden of the “big church”?

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: The Hunger Games

No, wait…

I’m not going to rant incessantly about the movie.

I LOVED the movie.

You know how book snobs like me always say “Oh, the book was SO much better than the movie”? I can honestly say that the movie captured the book better than any adaptation I’ve ever seen. Moreover, Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the Katniss Everdeen was so compelling I actually left the movie liking the heroine more than I did had I just read the book.

I’m not going to write a review about it, either. Although if you want to read a fabulous analogy of it, you should hop over to my friend and award winning author Amy Sorrells’ place. She wrote a great one: What’s so great about The Hunger Games?

No, no. I’m good with the movie.

What’s angering me are some of the reviews. Reviews which focus on Lawrence’s appearance. Apparently, she’s too heavy to play Katniss Everdeen.

Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet, 2011 Ocscars

Oh, yeah. She’s a real fatty, isn’t she?

In a perfectly executed backhanded compliment, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter wrote about Lawrence:

“Lawrence is one of those performers the camera loves; her appearance alters in different scenes and shots — lingering baby fat shows here, she resembles a Cleopatra there — and she can convey a lot by doing little. An ideal screen actress.”

While The New York Times took the blunt albeit equally snarky approach:

“A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.”

A Daily Mail article chronicled yet more ridiculous observations:

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir points out Miss Lawrence’s ‘well-fed’ body in the film, with the notion that her frame inherently renders the actress as too fat to play a realistic Katniss.

Referring to her body shape in a similar vein, Variety’s Justin Chung wrote that any evidence of the movie’s supposed hunger in the poverty-stricken District 12 ‘barely even seems to register.’

Further still, in what could be considered blatant sexism, Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffery Wells calls Miss Lawrence a “fairly tall, big-boned lady” who is too big for her romantic interest Josh Hutcherson.

In an interview with Seventeen Magazine published in April, Lawrence talked about weight issues and Hollywood:

“I’m just so sick of these young girls with diets,” Lawrence told Seventeen. “I remember when I was 13 and it was cool to pretend to have an eating disorder because there were rumors that Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie were anorexic. I thought it was crazy. I went home and told my mom, ‘Nobody’s eating bread – I just had to finish everyone’s burgers.'”

What I find glaringly ironic (to me, anyway) is that by criticizing the actress for not starving herself into the typical and acceptable body type for a Hollywood actress, critics of Miss Lawrence serve as a real world re-creation of the elite, chosen ones who populate the Capitol in The Hunger Games story…

making themselves look equally ridiculous in the process. Who are they to decide what is acceptable?

I hope the groundswell of backlash against these petty reviewers from the legion of Hunger Games fans continue and that its heroin, Katniss Everdeen aka Jennifer Lawrence becomes the new poster child for young girls currently starving themselves in a vain attempt to attain the unattainable, unhealthy bodies of so many Hollywood actresses.

You go, fat girl!

The art of beating a dead horse

You know when you see a play on words

or a funny poster about people’s often misguided perceptions,

and you think to yourself, “Ha! That’s pretty clever.”?

And then roughly 48 hours later you’re completely over it because the phenomenon has become the equivalent of annoying chain email your Aunt Edna has sent you and 15,000 of her closest friends and relatives?

Yeah…that.

We get it.

Please stop now.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: The hard sell

Awhile back I was invited to one of those home parties where they sell stuff. Specifically, kitchen stuff. And while I usually politely decline invitations to these things, it had been years since I’ve attended one, it was being given by a couple of good friends from church and my husband saw a knife in their catalog that he wanted. So I accepted the invitation. In case you’re not familiar with these home parties, the person or persons who host the party receive incentives by way of free merchandise and/or discounts on products they want depending on how much other people buy.

At this particular party, the theme had something to do with chocolate. There was a chocolate fountain and other things made with chocolate. For the demonstration portion of the show, the consultant made a dessert with chocolate, crushed pecans and some other stuff. (Sorry, my eyes sort of glaze over when people prepare food. Just tell me when it’s ready, thank you.) Each step of the process involved some handy-dandy product which made the process of preparing this dessert much easier: a mini food chopper (for the nuts), easily read measuring cups, spatulas, and the baking stone which it was cooked on. There was probably some other products used, too. (See previous “eyes glazing over” comment.)

But lest you think we all just stood around watching this woman make dessert, let me assure you that was not the case. She encouraged us to ask questions about the products, about how we could host our own parties for free products and discounts and how we, too could work from home if we chose to sell all of these wonderful products. Which incidentally, are pretty great products. I bought plenty of them before the night was over, but once she started talking about how easy and profitable it was to be an independent consultant for her company, I knew where this was going. As we say in Texas, this wasn’t my first rodeo. This is the birthplace of Mary Kay Ash.

When the demonstration was over, I was first in line to check out. I already had my order form filled out and my checkbook open. She immediately proceeded with the hard sell. Bless her heart. She doesn’t know me at all.

Consultant: You have quite a large order here.

Me: Uh huh.

Consultant: Did you know that if you signed up to be a consultant many of these items would be in your starter kit?

Me: Really? I’m not interested.

Consultant: You wouldn’t believe all the free items I’ve received by being a consultant.

Me: That’s great. For you. For me? That’s never going to happen.

Consultant: Were you interested in hosting a party? I still have some openings for next month.

Me: No.

Consultant: You could get several items for free, deep discounts and free shipping.

Me: That sounds great. Where do I sign? HA! Just kidding. I don’t want to sell kitchen gadgets. I don’t want to host a party. I try to avoid the kitchen as much as possible. I’m here because my friends invited me. I want to help them out and my husband needs a knife. I’m not a seller. I’m a consumer. What’s my total?

I had my order totaled and was out the door in record time. My other friends (who are way more polite and accommodating than I) were not so lucky. From what I understand, it was pretty late before everyone got out of there.

I have since been invited to three more parties that were booked that night. I have declined two so far. I may attend the third, but again, only to help out a friend.

I don’t fault anyone for trying to earn a living in this tough economy. But there’s got to be a better way than how these parties are structured. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time because I was with good friends and was served chocolate–win/win. But I don’t think it’s by accident that these selling parties are geared toward women and more specifically wives and moms who are looking for ways to stretch the family dollar. We like hosting gatherings with our friends. We like shopping. We like the opportunity to get free stuff. (Obviously, these are largely stereotypical statements.)

But no should mean no, however polite it may be. If your presentation and your products don’t convince your customer that this is something they may want for themselves, don’t try to hard sell them into something they don’t want.

Because saying no doesn’t come easily for many people, but being resentful for feeling pressured to say yes does.

For those of you who find it difficult to say no, trust me. It gets easier each time. And saying no to what you don’t want frees you up to say yes to what you do.

Editor’s Note: I don’t mean to imply that all of these parties end with the hard sell. It’s just been my personal experience that many do–regardless of what’s being sold.

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