Monday, 31 December 2007

Time Keeps on Slipping...Into the Future

There were a lot of things I meant to do in 2007 that I can't quite recall just now. I'm sure some of them involved writing best-selling non-fiction books or critically-acclaimed novels. Perhaps I was going to pen a screenplay ("It's 'Stars Wars' meets 'Sense and Sensibility'--in the Wild West!").

Alas, unless I was hit on the head and suffer from memory loss, I didn't do any of those things. But we can't live our lives full of regret. Whatever excess energy I had this year was funneled into the Kellys' Grand Adventure: uprooting the family and moving them to this scepter'd isle. If there was an element of "Now what?" after we'd unpacked, well that's to be expected, right?

I don't like making New Year's resolutions for myself. I much prefer making them for other people. Making a New Year's resolution is too much like buying a diary at the stationery store: You get it, you dutifully make a few entries, then you taper off and stop, and for the rest of the year the damn book is staring back at you, a reminder of your inadequacies. Still, I'd like to learn Spanish this year. I mean, in between the non-fiction/novel/screenplay writing.

As for you, dear reader, I hope you enjoyed your 2007 and that your 2008 is as good as it can be.

In Other News
Months and months ago I blogged about how 2007 was seeming like something out of a bad movie, how the war and global warming and the mortgage crisis were coming together in an apocalyptic sort of way. I keep waiting to be disabused of that notion. The latest uncomfortable harbinger is the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, an event that is hardly surprising but tragic nonetheless.

Murdering people hardly seems the way to run a democracy. Of course, the murderers--whoever they are--don't want a democracy. But I'm not sure if the edifice that Bhutto's supporters are building is a democracy, either. It's a political dynasty, one that assumes it's the birthright of a Bhutto to have a hand in running Pakistan. One could argue that it's no different from the Kennedys (or Clintons or Bushes) in America, but if one of those U.S. politicians should be murdered, the Democratic or Republican parties wouldn't be torn asunder or face extinction. The parties--and the impulses they represent--exist outside of specific personalities.

That doesn't seem to be the case in Pakistan. I saw a quote recently from a PPP member who said that after Bhutto's death, "We are all orphans now." And now Benazir's son, Bilawal, is pegged to lead his mother's party. He is 19, a student at Oxford. Can anyone believe he has the skills for a such an important role? His father will keep the seat warm for him, but this is what royalty does.

Of course, I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of that troubled region and I admit it's not particularly incisive to point out that democracy as it exists over there isn't very recognizable.

In Sports News
The Redskins beat the Cowboys yesterday. I didn't see the game, though I followed along online during the first half. When I was in college, the Redskins were actually good. They'd make the playoffs and even win the Super Bowl occasionally. Since Dan Snyder (boo, hiss) bought them they've stunk, and there seemed some karmic justification for this, since Snyder is so disagreeable a character. I even felt a frisson of pleasure when they went down, if only to see Snyder sour-faced in the owner's box.

But this has been a particularly bad year, what with the murder of Sean Taylor. I don't buy into all those sports cliches about grit and determination, and I'm particularly immune to coach Joe Gibbs's brand of Christian pap (gee, God helped you win? really? isn't He kinda busy?), but it is nice to see the team in the playoffs. And the Skins can lose every other game of the season as long as they beat the Cowboys.

Duck, Duck, Goose Fat
We held an informal taste test during our Christmas dinner. Actually, it was during our Boxing Day dinner. (We traveled to my sister's in St. Albans on the day; My Lovely Wife made another meal at home for her sister and company the day after.) Half the roast potatoes were made with olive oil, Ruth's traditional method. The other half were made with the goose fat I purchased at Alcock's Family Butchers.

The winner? A few people preferred the olive oil. And both sets of potatoes were delish. But those we spooned from the goose fat tray had a crisper exterior and a creamier interior.

Of course, our arteries probably have a creamier interior after eating them. Add to New Year's resolutions: Start jogging.


mark from alexandria said...

I wouldn't pretend to understand the political intricacies of Pakistan, but the Washington Post actually did a very good piece on it yesterday and there is a certain amount of sense to Ms. Bhutto's family trying to hold things has to do with ethncities, trust, etc. I do not envy that young man, though.

As for the Washington football franchise, shame on them for not changing their name, its not right, its racist, and its shameful.

Happy New Year to all.

Candadai Tirumalai said...

I am sure taking in England and Britain is enough to keep anyone busy. I spent 1973-74, my first sabbatical year, in London and at the old British Museum, when it still housed the fabled library. In retrospect, the year was more than full.

suburbancorrespondent said...

If you have a library card from Loudoun or Montgomery counties, you can use Rosetta Stone for free (for certain languages) from their databases. (I don't know why Fairfax is being cheap about this.) I'm learning Spanish right now and am proud to announce that I can fluently state "The horse is jumping" well enough for the men who mow the lawn in our townhouse cluster to understand me. They always look a little puzzled, though.

But isn't learning the Queen's English enough for you right now?

Anonymous said...

Try learning a language you'll actuall need in the future like say, Chinese. Ah but which one?...

Happy New Year's Day! Or 新年好天!

Old Lady said...

Don't bother learning Chinese....too difficult and at your age you would never be fluent. There are enough fluent (native) Chinese speakers already. I think you do well to work on Spanish - always useful. Even necessary, if you go to Miami or other points south.