Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Fifth Tool of Manipulation

    Have you ever watched a movie where the star and his sidekick need to get into a building or something, but they haven’t been granted access? You know how they always invent some outrageous story about being sent by or related to the CEO or whatever? And it’s awesome because everybody always believes them. But the thing about this is that we find it funny. Why, though? It’s not because such a scheme would never work and we like to see things like this played out in the realm of fiction. I think it’s because we all know it would work. . ... Do you know what this means?

     I’ve thought of a fifth tool of manipulation.

     Oh, yes. I don’t know exactly what to call this one. “Audacity” would be a good word for it, I think, although it doesn’t quite hit the mark. Basically, the best way to define this new tool is this: A method of manipulation in which the user convinces you to doubt your own sanity or intelligence by bluffing outrageously. They do it in books (just read P. G. Wodehouse), they do it in movies, and they do it in real life. And, again... it works. I know this because I’ve fallen for it.

     All manipulators lie. They lie as easily as they breathe. Deception is the foundation upon which all their social

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

     *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
     It's ironic how there's so much magic and mystery surrounding Christmas! It seems like this holiday out of all of them is the one that lifts you out of reality to live in a world of Santa Claus and diamond snows and candylands and other delightful things that don't really exist. And yet we are celebrating the most solidly real event in human history. Jesus Christ came to this earth, everybody! He came as a living, breathing baby born in a filthy, earthy, real stable. Beating hearts and frames of flesh and bone housed His soul and those of His family. And so, even though I will never outgrow the magic of Christmastime, I will never forget the reality!

Merry Christmas,
everybody!


~*~*~*~*~*
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coyotesong

A motley band of brothers are we
A scraggly, raggedy crew.
And we gather tonight
In the silver moonlight
Just to sing out our anthem to you!

The owls and mice are our audience
For conductor, we look to the breeze
The grass and the sage
Are our deserty stage
And for harmony we have the bees.

A song without words to write down here
A melody without a tune
And we lift up our cry
To the black velvet sky
As we sing out our hearts to the moon.

We’ve sung since those times long forgotten
And we’ll sing ’til forever has gone
This music unchanged,
And yet never the same
From sunset right up until dawn. 

So just shut your eyes tight and listen
Just breathe in and don’t say a word
Remember our song
And we’ll sing it as long
As we know that somebody has heard.


~ © Andrea Grace

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In the Middle of December

Summer breezes in December carry scents of candy canes
For a moment there you wonder if it isn’t rather strange.
Lovely weather in the middle of what should be winter’s chill
Only here in Colorado have we summer breezes still!
Just a week ago the wind, it was completely different here
The frigid Arctic blasts that we should have this time of year
And I donned my fluffy socks, and much hot chocolate did I drink
And I looked outside the window, many gloomy thoughts to think.
I guess I’d just forgotten that the spring must come again
Guess I didn’t quite remember there’s an end to winter’s reign.
And the middle of December (who’d have thought it? who’d have known?)
Has conspired just to show me it’s got beauty of its own
So I won’t lose hope for springtime, and I won’t wish winter gone
Just remember to enjoy it as the year goes marching on
Summer breezes in December and the promises they make
Dancing winds that tell of springtime and the season Earth awakes
Fragrant zephyrs bringing sunshine and no hint of winter’s chill
Only here in Colorado have we summer breezes still!

~ © Andrea Grace

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Roses of Success!

[Caracktacus Potts, Sr. has been entrusted with the seemingly impossible task of building a flying, floating car. Can he do it?]

Evey bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point.
Every glowing path that goes astray
Shows you how to find
A better way.

So every time you stumble,
Never grumble!
Next time you'll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes,
Up from the ashes--
Grow the roses of success!

Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!
(Oh, yes!)
Grow the roses,
Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of succcess!

{Yes, I know! But he wants it to float!}
[It will!]
For every big mistake you make,
Be grateful!
(Yeah, yeah)
That mistake you'll never make again.
(No sir!)
Every shiny dream
That fades and dies
Generates the steam
For two more tries!

Ohh, there's magic in the wake of a fiasco...

Correct!

It gives you that chance to second-guess!

Oh, yes!

Then up from the ashes!
Up from the ashes
Grow the roses of success!

Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!

Grow the roses!
Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster
Grow the roses of success!

Disaster didn't stymie Louie Pasteur!
(No, sir!)
Edison took years tosee the light.
(Right!)
Alexander Graham knew failure well.
It took a lotta nonce to ring that Bell!

So when it gets distressing it's a blessing.
Onward and upward you must press!
Yes! Yes!
'Til up from the ashes
Up from the ashes
Grow the roses of success!

Grow the roses!
Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster
Grow...
The
Roses...
Of...
Suc-cess!

Start the engine!
(Success!)
Batten the hatches!
(Success!)
Man the shrouds....
Lift the anchor!

Success!
~ From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The False Justice of the American Legal System

     I love my country. I really do. Despite the monumental idiocies the culture has spawned and the hideous atrocities we have committed as a nation, I still have patriotism in my heart. We started out pretty well, I think. The Founding Fathers were brainy folks. But enough of that. The point of this post is not to gush about Independence Day and the Revolutionary War; rather, it is to say that, although I believe our nation is on the whole a great one, it does have some serious problems. And the problem I want to address is this: I hate our legal system.

     Hate it. There’s no justice. Everybody pretends that once a criminal is convicted in court he receives his just desserts. He’ll spend a few months or years in prison if he stole something, or if he murdered someone, maybe he’ll get life.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Irrational Belief

     The theory of evolution is one of those tiresome myths which serves little purpose save to highlight the gullibility of the American public. A ridiculous hypothesis designed by drunken atheists and popularized by a bum who just happened to have a certain flair for writing. If you have not yet noted it, I am intensely disgusted that this silliness has taken such hold of the minds of the people. It’s hard to understand how an idea with no logical support and less scientific evidence can be touted as the indisputable truth. I say to myself, “How,” I say, “is it possible to blind such a large selection of the population with such a blaringly obvious lie? And how is it possible that this selection includes many individuals with extensive educations and a reasonable level of intelligence?” Honestly, these people have doctorates and master’s degrees, and they still babble like children about their million-year-old fossils.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Dying Breed

     The world is a dark and sinister place, my friends. Grammar geeks are a dying breed. With each passing day, the English language grows feebler and feebler, and there are alarming predictions about its complete demise looming just on the horizon. Misplaced apostrophes abound, and the occurrence of splice commas increases with alarming rapidity. We few sensitive grammar geeks (who are occasionally known, more offensively, as the Punctuation Gestapo) grow increasingly depressed at the futility of it all and become tempted to lock ourselves in dark closets for the rest of our lives. We are alone in a savage and frightening world of linguistic ignorance. Nobody loves us. We don’t even love each other.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Enemies

     When you watch crime shows, the saddest part is when the murder victims’ families describe them. It seems like it’s always some sweet and harmless girl who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or was dating the wrong guy. “We didn’t know who would have done something like this,” they always say. “She didn’t have an enemy in the world.”

     This gets me thinking. If I were slain by an unknown malefactor, who would it be? In a surprising turn of events, I discovered that I would not want my family to tell the authorities that I didn’t have an enemy in the world. I would like it if, when the police went ‘round questioning people I know, my friends and family would say to them, “Oh, yes. There were a thousand people who hated her guts.” Not, of course, that I wish to become a murder victim. Indeed, I rather make a point of avoiding being slain by unknown malefactors. It’s not a death wish or anything remotely like that. It’s just that I think I would rather like it if I knew there were people who hated me enough to wish me dead. Why, though? I’m reasonably confident that I am mentally sound… to a certain degree…. But it seems decidedly odd, doesn’t it? Why on Earth would I want to make enemies? Surely a more natural desire would be to have plenty of friends. Or at least amiable acquaintances.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Grandmother's Flowers

My grandmother’s flowers grow lush in her garden
And smile at me every time that I come
The big fluffy zinnias and small cheerful pansies.
Wave and they nod ‘neath the bright summer sun.


My grandmother’s hands touch her flowers so gently
She waters and digs and is busy all day
The flowers just love her, and she loves the flowers
She makes them so cute in her own special way.


My grandmother’s eyes gaze out over her flowers
And rest for a moment on blossoms of blue
The flowers she looks at are my special favorites
‘Cause my grandmother’s eyes are the very same hue.


My grandmother’s flowers are happy to see us
And Grandma’s big smile is wide, bright, and sunny
She’s clever and witty and makes me to giggle
Because my grandmother’s so terribly funny!


My grandmother’s flowers are strong just like she is
Every summer they’re taller; they smell sweeter, too.
My grandmother’s flowers get better and better
Their bright, vibrant colors quite spruce up the view.


My grandmother’s flowers won’t blossom forever
One summer I’ll come and they will not be there
The yard will be mournful and lonely and quiet
The garden not lively, but somber and bare.


My grandmother’s flowers, their faces will vanish
No more her soft hands the smooth petals caress
Her laughter, the ghost of a much-lov├ęd lady
Will linger and stay in the places she blessed.


I so love my grandma. The times that I see her
Are fleeting and fading; they’ll someday be spent
So I’ll be a good girl and help Grandma to garden
And always remember her flowers’ sweet scent.


My grandmother’s flowers are charming and lovely
Their faces and smells I will always remember
And even though she and her flowers will leave me
It’s only a while ‘fore we’re back together.


My grandmother’s flowers I know will go with her
When she leaves me to go to the Garden above
And her flowers will make Heaven smell all the better
When my grandmother rests in the LORD’s awesome love.


~ © Andrea Grace

Monday, November 1, 2010

'Tis the Season!

     Oh. My. Goodness. Do you know what today is? Guess! Guessguessguessguessguess!!!! Why, it’s the first of November!! Guess why it’s special.

     Because ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR CHRISTMAS MUSIC!!!

     It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

     I realize it's slightly premature, but this is just one of the million billion gazillion reasons why I just love my life! Isn’t it just amazing how the icy blasts and frigid storms of winter can be just as incredibly awesome as summertime? In summer, it’s different. You’re wearing shorts and sandals and the grass is green and you don’t have time to eat because you’re too busy running around and just plain having a blast. Volleyball and roller skates and swimming pools! The sun sets later and the stars are bigger and brighter. And then it gets cold. It’s sad because you feel like you were just starting to have a good time and now it’s lost. The shining sapphire sky is replaced by a dull mist that isn’t really any color, but you call it grey. The freedom of your summer wardrobe is smothered under layers and layers of flannel and wool. Gone are the bare feet and glasses of ice-cold lemonade. The birdsong is muted under the cold blanket of grey. And right in the middle of the depression… you look around… and remember.

     Icicles!

     Snowmen!

     Snowballs!

     Christmas!

     The laughing, carefree spirit of summer is gone, but the white magic of winter has taken its place. Visions of sugarplums! The sun sets earlier, but the sun doesn’t really shine out as mightily as it did anyway. It’s not so bad, really. You put on your jeans and fluffy socks and swap the ice-cold lemonade for hot chocolate with marshmallows. You trade your flip-flops for snow boots and your sunglasses for a scarf. You can curl up in about eight layers of quilts and read your favorite book. And you can look outside and see the silent snowflakes come drifting lazily down. Comfort. That’s what I like about winter.

     And food!

     ‘Tis the season for chocolate! I don’t know what it is about winter, but chocolate seems less a dessert than it is a necessity. In winter, you don’t just appreciate chocolate; you ADORE it. And you can have soup in winter! Hot, steaming soup that burns your tongue and warms you to the very tips of your toes. Turkeys and roast beef and mashed potatoes! Because before Christmas can whirl in in all its frosty glory, we must first have Thanksgiving! Family and friends and food. My three favorite things. Thanksgiving is the best because you don’t just say you’re thankful for what you have; you get a warm, fuzzy feeling of cozy gratitude. You can look around, and you’re in a safe, warm house with your family all grouped around and your dog sleeping on the rug. You’ve got tasty food all settled in your stomach, and you remember the warmth of summer. You remember the good times of shorts and sunglasses, but not like you want to go back. Thank you, God, for memories of summer and the magic of winter!

     Because I’m dreaming of winter… frosty, frigid winter with flannel pajamas and toasty quilts and a quiet fireplace… Christmas trees at night, with the faint, enchanting lights illuminating the glass baubles and sparkling tinsel and dangling figurines of holiday ballerinas…. Crimson and green, holly and mistletoe, silver and gold….

     I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Travelin'

I been walkin’ down this road
For eighty years or more
My shoes wore out long time ago
And boy, my feet is sore!

Just steppin’ steppin’ steppin’
For at least ten thousand miles
And it ain’t been no picnic!
Though I had my share o’ smiles.

This road I gotta travel,
Boy, I tell you somethin’ strange:
It seems you know what’s there ahead
And just like that comes change!

You’re walkin’ through some valley
Sure, it looks like Easy Street!
But boy, you pay attention,
‘Cause it sure won’t stay that sweet.

A mountain’s comin’ up ahead
And pretty soon you’ll see
You gotta climb up real, real high
Sure, this I guarantee!

Them mountains, it’s a funny thing
They take you by surprise
And when you see ‘em loomin’ there
You won’t believe your eyes!

You won’t think you can climb so far
Can’t even see the top
But, boy, you best start climbin’,
‘Cause you ain’t allowed to stop.

Won’t be easy, I tell you, boy.
Takes blood, sweat, and tears
And sometimes you are climbin’ up
For years and years and years.

You gon’ cry, I tell you that.
You’ll be exhausted, too.
It’s painful and it’s difficult
Takes strength right outta you.

But you know somethin’ that I’ve found?
Them mountains ain’t so bad
Every mountain’s got an end
And boy, that makes you glad!

‘Cause when you finally reach the top
Them climbin’ days is gone
You feel… ecstatic’s the only word!
(And you might burst into song!)

But you know, it still ain’t over
The road ain’t stoppin’ here
And if you wanna reach the end,
Boy, that’ll take you years!

So rest yourself a while
Then you keep on steppin’ on
And you know somethin that you’ll find?
That climbin’ made you strong!

But there ain’t no more climbin’
For at least a while yet
‘Cause now the road gets twisty
And it might get dark and wet

And now it gets confusin’
‘Cause it’s darker than the night
And on top o’ that you wonder
If you should turn left or right

The road splits off a lot here
And you don’t know where to go
And so you find that by this time
You’re goin’ pretty slow

But boy, you just be careful
That you know which turn to take
You might find that at this time
It’s best to just go straight

And keep your eye out, boy, I say
Keep lookin’ at your goal!
‘Cause if you don’t, I tell you this:
You gon’ fall down a hole.

Boy, you fall down one them holes
You best get yourself out!
If you can’t do it by yourself
Then fill your lungs and shout!

Call for help to anyone
Who’s passin’ by your way
If they’re on your same highway
Then they won’t just walk away.

They’ll help you out and dust you off
And shake your hand and then
You don’t know if they’ll go or stay
Until you reach the end.

And when you finally see a light
You’re outta that dark place
An’ the goin’ ain’t so difficult;
You best pick up your pace.

The hard times might be over,
But you got a ways to go
Before you reach your journey’s end
So don’t you walk too slow.

And just because it’s easy now
Don’t raise your hopes too high
You never know what’s round the bend
Them turns deceive the eye!

You’ll step on rocks as well, you know.
And thorns and prickles too.
Your feet get bruised and bloodied up,
But boy, it’s good for you.

It hurts a lot to walk this road
But there’s much more than pain!
Boy, I tell you somethin’ grand
About this long, hard lane:

Sometimes you’ll see such lovely things
Hear songs so pure and sweet
It makes you want to skip and dance
Despite your aching feet!

‘Cause boy, I tell you somethin’ now:
Ain’t nothin’ you can dream
Can be as great or beautiful
As things that you will see!

And as you walk that great long road
You’ll seldom be alone
I guarantee there’s someone
Who’ll make it feel like home.

You’ll meet some other travelers
And they’ll walk with you a ways
But most will split off pretty soon,
Though some of ‘em will stay.

Your friends may take a different road
Perhaps their thoroughfare
Is shorter than the one you’re on.
You’ll miss ‘em walkin’ there.

Can’t always have folks by your side
Enjoy it while it lasts!
Because the days you walk with ‘em
Will shoot by far too fast.

Yep. Steppin’, steppin’ steppin’.
It won’t be no piece o’ cake.
But you ain’t got a choice here, boy.
That’s the road you gotta take.

You best remember what I say
‘Cause boy, when it gets hard
You best be smart and watch your step
And boy, keep up your guard!

And don’t forget the lovely parts!
And don’t you walk too slow.
And most of all, remember
Where it is you want to go.

So boy, although it’s tough at times
You can’t see ‘round the bend,
Don’t you forget one minute
That you always got a Friend!

And He is with you always
And He’ll never leave your side
And He’ll be your strong Protector,
Your Provider and your Guide!

So boy, I’ll keep on steppin’
And you keep on steppin’ too.
I tell you what; you reach the end
And I’ll meet up with you.


~ © Andrea Grace

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Da-na-na-na-na-na Batmaaaaannn!!

     You know what I love? Batman. I love the movies Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I know next to nothing about the comics or the older movies, so I’m not sure how true these two new movies are to their original counterparts, but I really don’t care. As long as I can watch an awesome guy in a black suit beating criminals into fine dust, I’m happy.


     You know the awesome thing about Batman? (Besides his crazy ninja skills?) The fact that he’s got some initiative. Just like our dear friend Jack Bauer, Bruce Wayne does not sit on his hands and wait for some other guy to do the work. If there’s a problem, he’s not going to make a feeble attempt to pass some ineffectual legislation, flop back in his chair, and sigh, “Oh well. I tried.” Things were getting desperate in Gotham City. The crime rate was rising with an unbelievable rapidity. Police officers were corrupt. Politicians were worse. So Did Bruce Wayne encase himself in a bubble of determined ignorance and hope the mayor would fix it? He certainly did not! He had the resources and the ability to do something about it, so that’s what he did.


     You know, he almost reminds me a bit of David.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Smoke On The Wind

A fire once burned here; the smell is still lingering
It left naught but cinders and ashes of grey
The smoke curls up skyward and fades into nothing
Like memories I had of those long-ago days



Like smoke on the wind are the friends that I had once
Their memory is dimming, I don’t know their names
The words that they told me I barely recall now
The laughter we shared once is mostly the same


I thought it would last, though. I thought we would stay
Best buddies forever. I guess that’s not so.
Like smoke on the wind, like a ghost in the hallway
I thought it was friendship, but I didn’t know.


Like smoke on the wind, the harder you grasp it
The faster it slips through your fingers and fades
When you open your hands, there is nothing to see there
Was it even real in the very first place?


Like smoke on the wind are the friendships I had once
Or thought that I had; for perhaps they were dreams
The people existed. I know that for certain;
But if they were friends still remains to be seen


Like smoke on the wind, maybe real, maybe not
For awhile you see, but it soon disappears
A small puff of air dissolves those grey tendrils
The same way we friends couldn’t last through the years


 Perhaps it was time, or perhaps it was distance
Perhaps ‘twas the differing paths that we chose
Whatever it is, I can scarcely remember
The days we had once. Guess that’s just how it goes.


Only smoke on the wind… it looks real for a moment
But once it is gone, then you can comprehend
It never had substance or any real meaning
And maybe ‘twas good that it came to an end


Smoke on the wind, never real, never there
You think that it was, but you can’t really tell
And you watch it drift upward, are sure it’s a real thing
But maybe it just has you under its spell


Smoke on the wind, it sure muddles your head
You can’t quite think straight, cannot see through the mist
One blink and it’s gone, leaving you there, bewildered
Was it just a dream? Did it really exist?


Smoke on the wind isn’t real; you can’t feel it
Just an illusion, a beautiful sight
A memory of nothing, a moment of pleasure
But you know in the end just a passing delight


Smoke on the wind can’t torment me; it won’t.
Sometimes I admit that I want it to stay
But smoke cannot help me, won’t be what I’m needing
I guess I must just let the smoke drift away.


Just smoke on the wind, all those friendships now vanished
I thought that I knew them, but maybe I’m wrong
Smoke on the wind, only smoke in the ending
Smoke that was here but next moment was gone.


~ © Andrea Grace

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Four Tools of Manipulation, Part Four: Guilt

     And now it’s time for the fourth and last tool of manipulation. I’ve saved this one because it’s my favorite. Not, of course, that I use it myself (ahem): I mean that I view it as possibly the most effective and commonly used of all The Four. I am speaking, of course, of guilt.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Four Tools of Manipulation, Part Three: Flattery

     It is now time to introduce another tool of manipulation. This tool is the most commonly encountered, and so often is its use exposed in history and literature one would think the general population would by now have some form of awareness regarding it. Alas, it seems that the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. And so flattery remains, as it has been from the introduction of sin, one of the deadliest tools of manipulation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Four Tools of Manipulation, Part Two: Pity

     Imagine this, readers: let’s say you are selfish. And let’s say all you want out of a relationship is attention and the knowledge that people think highly of you. Or maybe you want them to do you favors, favors you know they wouldn’t consider unless they were tricked into doing so by illicit and devious means. How would you acquire these things that you want so desperately?

     Being the upstanding person you are (one hopes) you most likely do not lie awake at night and devise answers to this question. You are probably not a parasite on the public weal, and so you are stumped. You say to yourself, “What,” you say, “is Andrea getting at this time?” I’ll tell you. If you were the unpleasant character described above, you would not use fear, the tool of manipulation that we discussed previously and the one that people usually think of if they are going to force another person to bend to their will. You would be smarter than that. You would be smart enough to use the chink in almost everyone’s armor, the weakness most easily exploited.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Four Tools of Manipulation, Part One: Fear

     The first tool many people reach for when they want to manipulate someone is fear.

     Fear is a clumsy and unrefined tool. It does not require great skill or any amount of subtlety to yield, only a certain level of power. You know immediately when you are being manipulated through intimidation. And yet fear is special because, even though everybody with a reasonable level of human intelligence can spot it, the vast majority will cave in to it. Even those who think themselves brave are usually easily cowed into submission. Manipulation through fear has proved to be blaringly obvious, yet, in a stunning and unfortunate twist of fate, amazingly effective. Why, though? Allow me to explain:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mr. Wickham and the Four Tools of Manipulation: Introduction

Manipulate, v. To move, operate, or handle something: to control or influence somebody in an ingenious or devious way.


Short survey, ladies and gentlemen:
a) Are you human?
b) Have you ever interacted with other humans in the past?
c) Have you ever been part of a group of any sort?

    If you answered Yes to any of the above, you have probably at several points been manipulated by another person.

     Manipulators are difficult to handle because by nature they are usually hard to spot and even harder to deal with. They are not interested in a real relationship; they are clever at seeming to give while in reality only working to get attention, acclimation, or simply someone to have under their control. Possibly you have something they want: your social standing or some possession even. Their motives are self-centered.

     Manipulators come in all forms: some are more abrasive and obvious, others are more subtle and shady. Some work through smiles, jokes, and compliments, others use angry shouts and menacing glares. Even though they all have different styles, manipulators mostly use four basic tools. Of course, there are more than four. I just don’t have time to cover them all and these ones seem most common and general.

     These tools manifest themselves in different ways, but they work the same fashions nonetheless. They are designed to make you feel like you owe the manipulator what he wants. But even more cunningly, some are designed to make you second-guess yourself if you happen to realize who the manipulator really is. They are a twofold disguise. And there is another thing they all share: they play on your pride. The more pride you have, the more susceptible you are to manipulation. Which, if you think about it, is pretty ironic. The higher you think of your own intelligence, the blinder you are. Funny, isn’t it?

     I’m going to introduce to you a new friend who perhaps you have met before. His name is George Wickham, and he features prominently in the story Pride and Prejudice. Does anyone remember Mr. Wickham? That charming and noble gentleman who turned out to be a shockingly immoral charlatan? Yes. He is the perfect and timeless example of a manipulator. He is special because he has lasted generations and also because he used with masterful expertise all four tools of manipulation. He is also exceptional because in the end he was not, as most fictional villains usually are, destroyed and left to either die or live a life of extreme depression: rather, he got everything he ever wanted and prospered! He is a very excellent example of a true-life manipulator, both in fate and attitude.

     This post is the introduction to a short series I am writing about manipulation. I feel this is a pressing problem which needs to be called to the attention of the public. Stay tuned for the next installment on the first tool of manipulation!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Forrest Gump

We just watched Forrest Gump. I love that movie. It’s one of my new favorites. Probably that’s because Forrest Gump himself was such an incredible character. He wasn’t perfect; none of us are. But even though he was still very much a child, he was more a man than many. And this is why…

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Man Who Could Not See

How do you tell of color
To a man whose eyes lack sight?
How can you tell of sunrise
If he cannot see the light?

How can you play him music
If he cannot hear the words?
How can he smile and sing along
If he has never heard?

If you let him have a Hershey’s bar
You know it’d go to waste—
He wouldn’t care for chocolate
If the fellow could not taste.

Why would he touch a rabbit’s fur
If he has never felt?
Does he know of cookies baking 
If the man has never smelt?

But even if he knew the world,
If he could see and hear:
If he could feel and smell and taste
And lived a hundred years,

If he heard every pretty tune
And saw all gorgeous things
He never could know happiness
If he knew not the King.

~ © Andrea Grace

Monday, August 16, 2010

Butterflies and Moths

 A photogenic butterfly who very obligingly sat still on a rock and presented me with this charming view of itself in all its glory.


This is just some moth we found on our front door. It's really tiny, but I thought it was pretty.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Time To Laugh

I love to laugh!
Loud and long and clear
I love to laugh
So everybody can hear!
The more I laugh,
The more I’m filled with glee
And the more the glee...
The more I’m a merrier me!




     We live on a battlefield, we Christians. We are constantly embroiled in thick, nasty messes of figurative bloody gore, from which we emerge pained and wounded but all the stronger for it. We are called to be strong and wise and constantly on the alert. We are a fierce people! Gravity is welcomed in our lives; in fact, it is a prized virtue. Sobriety and solemnity are touted as superior qualities, and silliness is frowned upon disapprovingly. And in many ways and places it is certainly so. There are some things which are, without question, no laughing matter: some battles which are too serious to take lightly. Life is not a game.


     But you know something? I think silliness has its place.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Delighted

     Isn’t it funny how people love dogs? Man’s best friend and all that. If you think about, the love for an animal is something decidedly odd. Dogs are rather nasty. They lick themselves in places I’d rather not mention, they eat strange things they find off the floor, and their way of showing affection is to salivate all over your face. Many’s the time I’ve had to wipe an obscuring fog of canine slobber from the lenses of my glasses. If it were a person, even any of my closest friends, who decided to drool on me in such an appalling fashion, I’m sorry but I would have no option but to haul off and punch you in the nose. And yet I laugh at dogs (unless, of course, their slobbery affection comes too close to my mouth). Countless times I’ve been knocked unceremoniously to the floor by an overly exuberant mongrel. I’ve even been sat upon by a ninety-five-pound Rottweiler. And yet I can still tolerate those socially unacceptable beasts.

     And I say to myself, “Why?” And I ask myself, “Wherefore?”

     And I answer myself…

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jack Bauer: An Inspiration

     I like Jack Bauer. Many of you know this. Jack Bauer is, in my opinion, the single greatest fictional character ever devised by the mind of man. (In case you are lost, Jack Bauer is the star of a television show called 24, in which he is a government agent who has twenty-four hours to stop terrorist plots and save the country from certain ruin).

     But why, though? Why, I ask myself, do I like Jack Bauer so much? And I answer myself: because he’s the coolest person ever, of course! But what, I continue, exactly is it about Jack that is so insanely fantastic? Is it simply some inexplicable essence of greatness? Or is there something more, a describable character quality or two? The latter, I believe.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Poem I Could Not Write

I cannot think of things to write
I’m somehow blocked today
Topics come and subjects go
But they don't seem to stay!


You don’t know how this kills me.
I want to write so bad!
I plead for inspiration
But there’s none here to be had.


The words flit by me, taunting
Just inches out of reach
And I try so hard to grasp them
But they laugh and turn to flee.


It’s sad, this inability.
And frustrating too—
When there’s a poem you want to write
And that you cannot do!


I bite my lip and hem and haw
And think as hard’s I can
Alas for me! It seems that I’m
An uninspired man!


Defeat, at last, claims me its own.
There’s naught for me to say.
Just hang my head and shuffle off
And try another day.


This will come back to haunt me
I know I’ll dream tonight
Of writer’s block I couldn’t break—
The poem I could not write!

~ © Andrea Grace

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Grandfather's Books

My grandfather’s books are lined up on the shelf there
I see them, their bindings are rigid and grey
They speak of the past, tell of wars and of rulers
My grandfather loves them and reads every day.


My grandfather’s books do not smile or giggle
They’re serious, stern, and they don’t talk too much.
When they do speak at all the matters are weighty
Politics, battles, and history and such.


My grandfather’s hands grip the covers so firmly
He turns every page with a serious face
He’s reading and learning, knows so much already
Of each president, of each battle, each place.


My grandfather’s books speak of strength and of courage
Like my grandfather there, they aren’t mushy or sweet
They’re hard and abrupt, and they tell you what’s happened
Every word stamped in ink on the printer’s crisp sheet.


My grandfather’s books are so strong, just like he is
I remember his muscles from when I was small
How his strength bowled me over; I smiled and wondered
And was proud of my grandpa so handsome and tall


My grandfather’s books don’t get dusty; he’s neat
And he never is sloppy, untidy or messy
But he does love his grandkids, is happy to see us
And view all us children as his little blessings


I do love my grandpa. And he loves me too.
Though sometimes he’s prickly, severe, kind of gruff
And I know in my mind every time that I see him
That ten thousand hugs simply won’t be enough.


My grandfather’s books… he can’t read them forever
They’ll sit on the shelf getting dusty someday
And I don’t want to think it, but Grandpa will follow
Someday my grandfather will just fade away.


My grandfather’s books; they will know him forever
The same as I will. He’ll be stamped on the page
His fingers won’t be there, but they’ll be remembered
Though my grandfather lived in some previous age


One more hug, one more “Love you!” I’ll give him today
Every time that I smile, I hope that he knows
How much I love him, will know him forever
Even when someday my grandfather goes.


My grandfather’s books someday will be thrown out
Or sold to a thrift store or shop of antiques
But his memory forever will be mine to cherish
And my grandfather’s smile will be mine to keep!


~ © Andrea Grace

Friday, July 16, 2010

To Judge Or Not To Judge?

If that is what it is, then yes. I am guided only by what a thing is.

— Peter Kreeft, The Unaborted Socrates




     I have always been rather perplexed by people who are shocked when you make a negative judgment about someone’s character. They become extremely upset, these people, when you air your convictions about Bill being a bad character. They are appalled. Some of them go into respiratory distress. “You can’t go about making judgments like that!” they cry in consternation. “What gives you the right to make a judgment like that?”

     Well… what gives you the right to make the judgments about Bill that you’re making? Certainly, when you tell me he’s a fine upstanding gent, you are passing judgment on him yourself. Your judgment differs from mine only in that yours is positive and mine is negative.

     But that’s the point. It’s okay to pass judgment if you only say nice things. It’s just downright mean and nasty to point out that Bill is a liar and a manipulator. You can’t pass negative judgments because… well, because that’s how things are. Saying nice things is always going to be better than saying mean things.

     Ah! I think not!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Feverish

     Scott stared hard at his computer screen. He sneezed. His fingers hovered over the keyboard, poised for his next stroke. He was chatting with his buddy, Jason.

     “ya so 4 dinner tomoro, my mom is makin spageti,” wrote Jason. “U wanna come an we can talk bout the project?”

     Scott frowned. “Certainly,” he typed rapidly. “If, that is, there is no objection on your mother’s part.”

     “no way man she likes for u 2 come an eat all the food it makes her fell good jk lol”

     Scott’s eyes watered, and he sneezed again. “Excellent! We will call it a deal, then.” in He tapped the enter key lightly a few times before pressing it in earnest. His long fingers remained frozen midair as Jason’s next message scrolled across the screen. Scott coughed.

     “gr8 man so wat do u think bout usin blu insted of green?”

     Scott coughed again. He was suddenly very thirsty. “Perhaps,” he typed. His train of thought was violently derailed as he caught sight of Jason’s next message.

     “or may be pink lol”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Famous Calvin Story

You've probably all heard the Calvin Story by now, but it's the best story of all time, so here it is once again.
Act I

The Scene: Calvin and Kezi are both sitting on my lap.

Kezi: Oh, look, a horse! Horses are so pretty! I love horses.
Calvin: I love waffles! With syrup. They are tho yummy.

Act II

The Scene: Tali and I are talking. Calvin hovers in the background.

Me: Hey, Tali, is it true your dad hates peppermint?
Tali: Ohh, yeah! One time, there was this mint ice crea--
Calvin: I love puppah! It ith not 'pithy, it ith not. And thaut. I love puppah and thaut. I love them both.


Hee hee hee! I love how Calvin hears "love" and his first thought is "Waffles!"
And pepper.
And salt. It is not spicy.

A hilarious child, most definitely... :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Value of Trust

Rupert Baxter stared hard at them through his rimless spectacles. In assuming that he suspected them, Lord Ickenham had guessed absolutely correctly. But he needn’t have wondered what had given them away. The Efficient Baxter suspected everybody. He did not suspect them of this or that particular crime. He simply suspected them.

— P. G. Wodehouse, Uncle Fred in the Springtime (probably quoted imperfectly, as it is from memory)






     I think good people are far too trusting. There is a deplorable lack of discretion nowadays. People meet someone who seems nice and immediately take him at face value. They trust him as soon as they know him. Well, you might be saying, isn’t that right? Isn’t it kind and loving to think well of people? Surely, your first reaction to any new acquaintance shouldn’t be a black distrust, an immediate suspicion? Shouldn’t you try to like people?

     I don’t think so. I think it’s kind of foolish, actually.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adventures

(Is it a sin to post two things on the same day? But the first one doesn't really count for anything... so it's okay, right? Right? Ahem! Annnyyyyway, without further ado, I present to you.... this.. um... this thing I wrote.)






     The rain battered the glass windows ferociously. The wind was a ravening, shrieking beast, howling its relentless determination to shake the house to pieces. The clouds, blackly menacing, swirled and boiled ominously. Jagged lightning tore the sky, briefly illuminating the waving prairie grass.


     It was a dark and stormy night.

     Grace Connor wrapped her arms tightly around her knees and stared, wide-eyed, at the savage display of raw power. Her heart beat faster as thunder crashed on her ears, like some giant drum of war. She was safe inside, sitting on the window seat in her bedroom. Silent marvel etched itself on her freckled face. She smiled quietly to herself. This, she was thinking, would be the perfect night to be kidnapped by pirates. Yes… the perfect night…

Voila!

   So. Big news. I have my own blog now! Stop the presses, I know it's exciting. To business, then: this blog
of mine will just be a collection, I guess, of writings that fall into three categories: random stuff that doesn't make sense, random stuff that does make sense but only because I plagiarized it, and random stuff that includes pictures. So! That takes care of that.
   I'm kind of excited about this. I write too much, anyway, and I may as well put all my junk in one place. The thing to keep in mind is that I am trying to do everything for the glory of my awesome Creator.
   Push out, chickens! And visit often! And don't forget to leave comments and stuff. :-)