Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last-Minute Shoppers; or, It's Thanksgiving Already?

All I needed was a bag of pecans and a block of gruyere cheese. That's all. So after parking a quarter-mile away – well, seemed like it – I walked into my local grocery establishment at 5:02 p.m. to procure the last necessary items for our Thanksgiving eve feast. I was in and out in a surprisingly fast 12 minutes, 1.2 seconds. That, despite having trouble finding the cheese and chatting with a fellow church member who had also been dispatched by his wife to purchase some food items.

Thank heaven for self check-out.

Nevertheless, I was amazed to once again witness the phenomenon of last-minute shopping. I know Southerners can move slower than molasses in January, but why do we think it's a good idea to wait until the night before a major holiday to do our shopping? It's not like these things sneak up on us; Madison Avenue makes sure of that. It's one thing if you're grabbing a couple of things, like I did, but you've got people piling up the their shopping carts.

My wife wisely bought most of her Thanksgiving fixings last week – and I must say, it was a feast that can't possibly be topped (turkey, sweet potato casserole, homemade mashed potatoes, cornbread [both sweet and unsweet, to accommodate our respective tastes], corn, green beans and pumpkin pie). As an aside, my wife and kids and I have our own feast the night before, and then we gather with extended family on Thanksgiving Day. I don't even bother trying to count up the calories.

I'm a procrastinator myself, and probably most of us are, but this last-minute shopping frenzy we see all the time befuddles me. Oh well. Time to go eat some pumpkin pie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off the Gravy Train; or, An Unstuffed Turkey

I am at a crossroads. We all know what time of year it is. My favorite time of year, and a big reason for that is all the scrumptious food that I get for free. Just yesterday, I had a Thanksgiving feast at work, and then I had another that night at church. It was pretty much the best day of the year.

It'll be the same at Christmas. And of course there's the non-stop flow of sweets from countless sources. But I'm a conflicted man, because over the past year, I've been working out like I never have before. That's not to say I'm in the gym three hours a day, six days a week. Let's not get crazy. Shoot, I hardly went in September and October. But exercise is something I've had precious little of the last several years, and now I've got a routine going, and it's helped me lose a little weight and get more fit.

These next six weeks threaten to undo all that. Because I have never, ever been able to deny myself at the lunch or dinner table, especially not when it's laden with turkey, dressing (with gravy), sweet potato casserole, fried ham, black-eyed peas, butter beans, cornbread, pecan pie, chocolate chess pie, brownies, chocolate-covered pretzels – you get the idea. When you live in the South, turning down second helpings is an insult to the cook.

But I was kind of proud of myself yesterday. I didn't fill my plate like I normally would. I'm sure I still took in too many calories between the two feasts, but it's a start. I hope I can practice moderation next week when I'm at the family gathering at my grandparents' house.

But with the way my wife makes sweet potato casserole, I can't make any promises.

Today's Redneck Thought: "Don't eat anything bigger than your head: Sound advice, so put down that cheese ball." – Lewis Grizzard

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Franken Nonsense; or, Brain Freeze

If there are any Minnesotans reading this, I have a question for you: What's up with you people? Al Franken? Seriously? He came this close to becoming a member of the United States Senate. And at last report, there is actually a chance that could still happen. Yeah, this guy making big decisions in Washington.

No, Al, you're not good enough, you're not smart enough, and doggone it, most sensible people don't like you. But a lot of folks in Minnesota aren't sensible, I guess. I'm telling you, the cold does something to people's brains.

Did I follow Franken's campaign, study where he stands on the issues, investigate his opponent's qualifications and political record? Of course not. It's freakin' Minnesota, I don't care.

But what I do care about is our society's increasing fascination with celebrity, and the mistaken notion that fame equals competence. Let's not forget who Minnesota once elected governor. And don't even get me started on California.

Some who achieved fame in a previous occupation actually can do well in the political arena: Bill Bradley, Steve Largent, Ronald Reagan. But most aren't qualified. If I should someday become a famous novelist, am I suddenly going to think I'm a viable candidate for office, at any level? Heck, no. I know my limitations.

I mean, when a guy writes this kind of book, you can't expect much partisanship. Now, I'm sure Al's an intelligent fellow, but good grief. If some Saturday Night Live writer hadn't given him that Stuart Smalley character – and I admit, it was hilarious – we wouldn't even know who Franken is.

I mean, at least down here, we elect honest politicians. By honest, I don't mean scrupulous; I mean guys who are unapologetically politicians, and they get there without the aid of fame (though perhaps with the aid of fortune). I think I know why Fred Thompson didn't have his heart in running for president – he knew it'd be pushing his luck.

Chances are, I'll catch heck for this from some smarmy Democrat, from Minnesota most likely. But that's o-kay.

Today's Redneck Thought: Not redneck per se, but still good stuff.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Not Buying It; or, Keep the Change

Well, here I sit, waiting for things to change. What things exactly, I'm not sure, but if Barack Hussein Obama says things are a'changing, then who am I to argue? He's a polished orator, so he must be right.

But seriously, I'm not understanding the Obamamania. Well, I understand to a degree – I'm certain a few folks voted for him simply because of the color of his skin, not because of the content of his character. They love the idea of a bi-racial president, which means Tiger Woods should start boning up on foreign policy (those knees are going to eventually give out). People don't seem to realize that Obama is not a savior; he is nothing more than the hot politician. Dang hot, yes, but a politician at the core. He makes promises he couldn't possibly keep even if he wanted to, his greatest asset is the failures of the opposing party, and he lacks any real substance.

A lot of people like myself aren't happy with his victory (not that McCain would've been much better). I'm sure there are a few people who, to put it mildly, are not in love with the idea of a bi-racial president. I'm not one of those; Obama's skin color doesn't bother me, but his stance on economic and social issues sure does. I think that's the case with most Southern conservatives, which speaks well of the progress we've made in race relations.

I think it's great that his race wasn't a factor to most people who cast a ballot. I'm glad to see he's a family man, and that he loves sports (always a plus in my book). But all this "change" talk – not buying it. Just more empty words from another politician. Although if there is any change, I fear it will not be for the better, especially with Senate and House Republicans being in the minority.

Change, in the political realm, is good only if it benefits society as a whole. I'll be keeping an eye out for all this promised change. In the meantime, I'll keep living and toiling in the real world.

Today's Redneck Thought: "I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God." – Gen. Robert E. Lee

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Civic Duty; or, Voting for Coffee

Well, time to exercise our civic duty. As I type this, it's the day before Election Day, and I'm watching Saturday Night Live's Presidential Bash. Priceless stuff. Darrell Hammond for president!

But seriously, it's an election like this that makes secession sound attractive. Or moving to Antarctica. Or to the moon. Or far, far underground in a fully stocked fallout shelter.

I can feel the angry white man welling up in me again. In this corner we have the closet socialist, and in the other we have the nominal Republican who's stuck in his past. In other words, I've got no reasonable choice. But to not vote apparently makes you worse than child molesters and poachers. And I've seriously considered not voting, but that seems a copout. I could go third party, like last time, but I've become more of a realist since then.

So I will go to my local voting precinct and cast my ballot. Because I am a man of conviction. And because I want my free Starbucks.