Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Movie Review--Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I'm going to be talking about my feelings and thoughts toward the recently watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi film. So, if you haven't seen the movie yet, you may want to skip this post until you see the movie. Then come back and read this post with informed eyes.

First, I LOVED watching this film. I thought that it was engaging, exciting, and funny in unexpected ways and places. Many of these funny moments were given to Finn. John Boyega plays the naive Stormtrooper as a slapstick sort of figure, someone who is always rushing headlong into things, tripping over himself, and learning lessons. This makes sense given his very sheltered First Order upbringing.

The Last Jedi also opened a window into the actual economic politics of the Lucasverse--something we've never seen in the movies up to this point. (Note that I have not read many of the innumerable Star Wars books.) As the DJ character points out to Finn and Rose, there are depressing truths behind this galactic economy.

I'm personally very glad that Kylo and Rey are NOT related. (I also really hope that when J.J. Abrams and team begin writing Episode IX, they respect the ground that Rian Johnson has set the franchise on and don't try to retcon their way to some other conclusion.) I am even more pleased that Kylo and Rey are not pining for the Lakes of Naboo. Let them struggle against each other as adversaries, as equals, as people with hopes for one another. But let it remain platonic.

It was wonderful to watch Mark Hamill be Luke Skywalker on the big screen again. While Hamill may have his own complicated feelings about how being Luke Skywalker affected his life so long ago, it seems to me that he used these feelings to embitter his crotchety Hermit Luke performance. I know that the movie is very new right now, so I can't find a gif of the face Luke makes at Rey when he drinks that space walrus' milk. But that was one of the funniest moments of the whole movie.

As others have said . . . the use of the color red was very arresting and well done throughout the movie: From Snoke's audience chamber to the under-mineral dust on the final Rebel base located on Crait, to so much of the promotional material. It was really arresting.

Speaking of Rebels . . . watching the leadership of the Rebellion constantly take up arms against one another made me wonder (if only fleetingly) if the First Order doesn't sort of have it right--minus the heavy Nazi overtones. Because it seemed for a while in The Last Jedi that the Rebel Alliance's biggest problem is that its membership is made up of lots of well-meaning individuals, who each have their own specific motivations for joining this fight. And that makes them all trouble-makers when things start going wrong.

And things went so very wrong for the Rebellion in this movie. The fact that it did go so awry is, perhaps, the most surprising thing about how Rian Johnson told this story. EVERYTHING went wrong for the Rebellion. They lost all of their ships, they lost practically all of their personnel (at least from what we can see), they lost a great deal--if not all--of their experienced leadership. They are definitely backed into a corner and there is a very definite sense of  . . . what do we do now?

Sure, there are lots of people being inspired across the galaxy. But as we in the real world learned in 2017, inspiration minus actual perspiration gets you not very far. There had better be lots of people swinging brooms but also putting boots on the ground if there is any real hope of defeating the First Order going forward.

The "Get Over Yourself" Section 

Some Star Wars Super Fans are really emotional about what Rian Johnson did to their franchise. (And while I'm a Star Wars lover from way back, I guess I'm now a traitor because I don't care.) Still--check out this post from Deadspin.

Odds and Ends
  • Were you as flummoxed by Leia's "Force flight" to safety from the vacuum of space as I was? It exposed a real morbidity within me, when I realized that I was constantly bracing for the end of Leia Organa--knowing that Carrie Fisher had already passed away. It was perhaps the second biggest surprise of the movie that Leia is alive when the film ended.
  • The porgs were fine; the Ahch-To lizard caretakers were not.
  • It's cool that the command style of the First Order (either the military branch or the Sith/Jedi branch) seems to be "Scream your order at the top of your lungs."
  • I disliked the central conceit of the film--the slow escape from the laser cannons until you run out of fuel.
  • Was the extreme close up of the First Order laundry unit a shoutout to the original Star Wars spoof, "Hardware Wars"?
  • I liked how TLJ starts right at the end of The Force Awakens. And I loved that Luke just tossed the lightsaber away--after the two years of wondering what Luke might do when presented with Rey's outstretched plea.
  • I was fully prepared for the stable boy at the end of the movie to turn into Star Wars Kid--

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dean's Top Ten TV of 2017

David asked me to do my top ten list of the year and then rudely posted his before I could make fun of it. Unfortunately, I either like or haven’t seen most of the shows he selected except Search Party (which I hated so much) and he edited his list to include Legion so I can’t even make fun of him for that. 

Have worse taste in television David! I have a reputation to uphold and I can’t afford to be polite. 

You are still doing your list backward though. The best show is supposed to be saved for last! Can’t give away the game right from the start! Make them work for it!


American Gods, Alias Grace, Young Pope, Twin Peaks, Godless. I’m sure these shows are great. I just didn’t get to them.


One Mississippi, Sneaky Pete, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep, Samurai Jack, Rick and Morty, Stranger Things, Fargo, American Vandal. These shows were also good and I recommend all of them without reservation.


10. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency:
At the last second, I pulled American Vandal from the 10 spot and swapped in Dirk Gently. This Dirk Gently is nothing like the Douglas Adams Dirk, and while I confess that that annoys me, it’s still a fun, charming show that has Elijah Wood in it so I like it.

9. The Christ Gethard Show:
One episode had Chris Gethard intentionally abandon the show right before it started and his guests had to host instead. It’s a great show for weirdos, burnouts, and losers and I feel right at home watching it.

8. Nathan For You:
The episode where Nathan hires an escort and then gradually falls in love with her was one of the more emotional subplots on television this year. Just great television. This show could be exploitative of the people he finds, but I think he works hard to make sure he is always the butt of the joke.

7. Baskets:
Louie Anderson continues to steal this show as Mrs. Baskets and I continue to love Martha without any reservations.

6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
I completely understand why basically no one watches the last 4 shows I listed but it is criminal that so few people watch this show. 1. Musical TV shows are the best and musical episodes of regular TV shows are the best (See e.g. Buffy). 2. This particular show is smartly written and incredibly funny. 3. Josh Groban was in the best song this year and you love Josh Groban right? Anyway, watch this show.

5. The Good Place
So look, I could take shows 2, 3, 4, and 5 and rearrange them in any way and still be satisfied. These are all interchangeable levels of good. The Good Place never fails to make me laugh and Ted Danson is perfect. Also, I learned that the set of The Good Place was also used for Genovia in the Princess Diaries 2 so it has that going for it.

4. Better Call Saul
I do not want Jimmy to be Saul Goodman and it keeps getting closer and closer. Jimmy is great. More Jimmy, please!

3. Review
The final destruction of Forrest was just as humiliating and sad and funny as we all knew it would be. Poor, poor deluded Forrest.

2. Legion
This show! Wow! Everyone did stellar work, but Jemaine was my favorite. Thanks, Jemaine!

Now look, see, the suspense has been built. What could be better than Legion? What show haven’t I listed yet? It could be anything! It could be something obscure like some of my other picks or maybe it’s a big gaudy number everyone likes!  

This show gets all the little things right: 80s cocaine robots, neon lights, catchy theme song. It just nails it. Also, as someone who just got into professional wrestling, it cuts to the heart about what is enjoyable about it while also presenting some pretty fair critiques about the roles people are asked to portray.

Now go yell at me about my rankings on Twitter. I need to fight about something. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

"Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash "

As you may have heard--a group programmed an "artificial intelligence computer" to write a Harry Potter chapter. And boy . . . what a thing it is.

Here is a link to the news story about it.

But, for ease of reading enjoyment, I'm transcribing the text here so that I can go back some time and and read it again.

I'm also adding some illustrations--from various fan art Web sites--to enhance the whole experience. Links to each fan art site are provided in the image captions.

"The Handsome One"

The castle grounds snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind. The sky outside was a great black ceiling, which was full of blood. The only sounds drifting from Hagrid's hut were the disdainful shrieks of his own furniture. Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good.

Leathery sheets of rain lashed at Harry's ghost as he walked across the grounds toward the castle. Ron was standing there and doing a kind of frenzied tap dance. He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione's family.

Ron's Ron shirt was just as bad as Ron himself.

"If you two can't clump happily, I'm going to get aggressive," confessed the reasonable Hermione.

"What about Ron magic?" offered Ron. To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow and soft bird. Harry did not like to think about birds.

"Death Eaters are on top of the castle!" Ron bleated quivering. Ron was going to be spiders. He just was. He wasn't proud of that, but it was going to be hard to not have spiders all over his body after all is said and done.

"Look," said Hermione. "Obviously there are loads of Death Eaters in the castle. Let's listen in on their meetings."

The three complete friends zapped onto the landing outside the door to the castle roof. They almost legged it, but witches are not climbing. Ron looked at the doorknob and then looked at Hermione with searing pain.

"I think it's closed," he noticed.
"Locked," said Mr. Staircase, the shabby-robed ghost. They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was "BEEF WOMEN," Hermione cried.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione quietly stood behind a circle of Death Eaters who looked bad.

"I think it's okay if you like me," said one Death Eater.
"Thank you very much," replied the other. The first Death Eater confidently leaned forward to plant  a kiss on his cheek.

"Oh! Well done!" said the second as his friend stepped back again. All the other Death Eaters clapped politely. Then they all took a few minutes to go over the plan to get rid of Harry's magic.

Harry could tell that Voldemort was standing right behind him. He felt a great overreaction. Harry tore his eyes from his head and threw them into the forest. Voldemort raised his eyebrows at Harry, who could not see anything at the moment.

"Voldemort, you're a very bad and mean wizard," Harry savagely said. Hermione nodded encouragingly. The tall Death Eater was wearing a shirt that said "Hermione Has Forgotten How to Dance," so Hermione dipped his face in mud.

Ron threw a wand at Voldemort and everyone applauded. Ron smiled. Ron reached for his wand slowly.

"Ron's the handsome one," muttered Harry as he reluctantly reached for his. They cast a spell or two, and jets of green light shot out of the Death Eaters' heads. Ron flinched.

"Not so handsome now," thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he had ever been.

The Great Hall was filled with incredible moaning chandeliers and a large librarian who had decorated the sinks with books about masonry. Mountains of mice exploded. Several long pumpkins fell out of McGonagall. Dumbledore's hair scooted next to Hermione as  Dumbledore arrived at school.

The pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog. Dumbledore smiled at it, and placed his hand on its head: "You are Hagrid now."
 "We're the only people who matter. He's never going to get rid of us." Harry, Hermione, and Ron said in chorus.

The floor of the castle seemed like a large pile of magic. The Dursleys had never been to the castle and they were not about to come there in Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. Harry looked around and then fell down the spiral staircase for the rest of the summer.
"I'm Harry Potter," Harry began yelling. "The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!"

Friday, December 15, 2017

Our 2017 Christmas Card

Every year for the past many years, we have put together a fun, animated Christmas card that we fill with photos from the past year, descriptive captions, and holiday greetings from me, Lynda, Sarah, Grace, and Hannah.

But, unfortunately, we won't be putting that together this year. Lynda--who usually spends the time selecting, editing, and uploading the photos just doesn't have the time and energy to devote to it for 2017. So, we ask for your apologies as I substitute this post that I will repurpose as an email and send out to people instead.

How was 2017 for us? It has been a year of many firsts--good and bad.

Of course, the biggest change of this year was the struggle and loss of Lynda's dad a few months ago. We are still getting used to this new reality for us--and especially for Lynda, Lynda's mom Cheri, and her brother Matt. Our Christmas experience is going to be entirely new because of this and I pray that it is a peaceful time that also provides healing. But we look forward to family time together in Georgia in just a few more days. I'm sure happy memories will be shared and the future will be discussed. Lynda is helping Cheri take over the details of things that Bill was so familiar with and so far everything is going well. There is much to discuss and plan about the future and you'll certainly be seeing those changes in future posts that I write about. So, it is a bittersweet time. But our faith supports us through our sadness and I am confident of a happy future to come. More on that as it happens!

In more "normal" news, our kids have had many eventful months since the end of last year. And there are many firsts being achieved for each of them as well.

 Sarah achieved a first--finally completing all of her extensive driving training and tests to qualify for her auto license. She drives to work, to school, to run occasional errands for us, and sometimes to even has fun (I promise). She is also achieving several new firsts as she completes her senior year of high school and is very busily finishing up her art school applications--creating piece after piece for her college art portfolios. If you have been following Lynda and I on the Internet in the last many years, you know how her art skills have advanced and how talented we think she is. As I said in a recent blog post, I fully believe that she is going to get into one of her schools and then we'll see what sort of scholarship money she can collect on top of that. She has been working to create new pieces for submission, with lots of help and advice from her art teacher. It's happening--and then . . . well, the future is not written. But she is working on some endings and planning for new beginnings. I'm excited about where she goes next.

Grace is neck deep in work as a busy highs school freshman. All of her summer and fall were dedicated to marching band. And once that ended, she jumped right into the theater production crew team. In addition, Grace has new expectations in her high school level classes. But she is handling it well so far and taps into her long-standing reserve of inner confidence that I love so much about her. Her social life and roster of friends has grown a lot in the last many months as well. Give her some more time to grow up and widen her horizons a bit and we'll all be working for her. And I promise you that we will be so much the better for that.

Hannah remains our little girl--but she's trying to grow up as fast as she can. Hannah's after-school and weekend social calendar is almost as busy as Grace. Which is probably a good thing, because without Hannah pushing us around, we'd never do anything at all. She happily reminds us that there are lots of people and things to do.She is doing well in fourth grade and is involved in Mark Twain elementary's service club. Plus her Reflections project animation was recognized at the city competition and is going to move on to the regional judging level next.

As for Lynda and I? We still work at McGraw-Hill Education. (See the photo from our company Christmas party, up above.) Lynda's work in the Digital Strategies group keeps her connected with content groups all across our office. She is always busy, but she is doing good work and keeps being challenged. I'm finishing up Phase 1 and 2 of my latest Social Studies project that has been my focus throughout this calendar year. I still like work and my coworkers, so I have no big complaints on that front.

As always, I must acknowledge how stupidly lucky we are. 2017 has been a challenging year for many people who have faced so many disappointments. But those sorts of setbacks can be dealt with when we have each other, when we have good jobs, and when we are surrounded with great friends and family (who demonstrated that so, so strongly while Lynda was so busy with her dad). Lynda, I, and our girls have all of those important things--which makes it possible for us to overcome anything.

And it obligates us to reach out to help others. I have been inspired this past year to witness people fighting hard for things they care deeply about and taking on new responsibilities to work for those goals. I hope that 2018 is a good year for you and the people you care about. If I can be some help to you . . . please do not hesitate to let me know.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

My newest Star Wars Watch Order post

As I am writing this, people are getting ready to watch Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. (And, yes . .  . I do realize that the Disney Star Wars films have moved away from the "Episode [Roman numeral] structure of the Lucasverse. But, for the good and all the bad of it, my Star Wars lifetime is defined by the bedrock of what George Lucas did--then redid, then enhanced, then prequalized, then enhanced again. I am what he made me to be.

But--The Last Jedi is going live and I am fully expecting that Rian Johnson's Episode VIII is going to be good. It'll be almost three hours long--and I can only hope that a full thirty minutes of that is not driven by porgs.

Andbutso you're not here to be horrified by these furry space penguins. (Just look at how those fins shiver.) Rather you want to know if I have come up with a definitive and proper order for watching the Star Wars films.

I first talked about this when I provided you with the Abrams Influence Method. (You can read all the ins-and-outs of it by clicking and reading this post from October 2015.)

And then, in December 2016 I came back again to factor in the existence of Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It isn't really hard to figure out what to do with Episode VII. You simply plop it on the end of the list. But I wasn't really sure what to do with Rogue One--not a numerically sequential "Episode" but simply subtitled "A Star Wars Story."

Should we treat this "Star Wars Story" like you might the Star Wars Holiday Special?

No. Of course you would not do that to Rogue One. Because it is a wonderful movie filled with good characters, a riveting plot, and emotions. None of which you can find in the Holiday Special.

Now . . . you could simply pull an Episode VII and make the executive decision to plop Rogue One in chronological order in front of A New Hope. And that is what I originally chose to do when I wrote the December 2016 post "Star Wars Watch Order Adjustment."

Now I am wondering if that is the correct thing to do.

Because the real power and influence of Rogue One come from the knowledge of what you have already learned from Episode IV: A New Hope. 

After discussing it with some colleagues at work today, I was all prepared to mimic my Abrams Influence  Method and try to slot Rogue One in as a flashback somewhere? I first thought that it could work in A New Hope at some point. But the best places for it are so close to the beginning--right around the opening scenes when Leia's CR90 corvette (the Tantive IV) is being boarded by Vader and his stormtroopers. Or possibly a few minutes later when Leia is hiding the Death Star plans with R2D2? But I don't really like those options as it continues to dilute the emotional heft of the end of Rogue One--which is one of the best things about the movie anyway. So, to put some distance between A New Hope and Rogue One . . . maybe we should position the flashback later?

To my mind, the next best option is in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Do you remember the scene on Endor's moon where C3P0 is catching up the Ewoks on the history of the rebellion? Perhaps you could find a way to drop in a flashback to the story of Rogue One at that point in Episode VI?

But I don't love that either. Does it shift the emotional arc of the progress being made with the Ewoks and drag the viewer back down into what is definitely the most depressing Star Wars movie made--no matter how good it is.

So in the end, I'm left without a definitive solution and I guess I have to bow in acknowledgment to the Disney masters who made the wise move of calling Rogue One "a Star Wars story." Perhaps it is best left outside of the sequence, left to the viewer to decide when they want to confront the true story of how the Death Star plans were acquired. 

But I definitely don't have any qualms about adjusting the Watch Order to include Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Even if I don't know yet what happens in this movie--whether Kylo Ren and Rey kiss, whether Kylo kills Leia, whether Snoke succeeds in turning Rey to the Dark, whether Luke trains Rey by making her carry him around in a backpack . . . I can definitely say that it goes at the end of the sequence. So . . . as of today, my new official Watch Order is:

(I know. I failed to come up with a solution to this post. Maybe you can do better? Please leave your best solution to where to watch Rogue One in comments. I would love to get other people's point of view on this very important issue.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

UPDATED--My Best of Television 2017

 It's not a Counter-Programming sort of day because I don't know how many of you are spending your time watching the Army-Navy college football game. But if you are, please consider this my plea that you should find something else to do with your time.

No . . . this post is dedicated to that other past time of mine, television. And anything written about television in December must then be a best-of-the-year list.

I've asked Dean to work on preparing his own list for 2017. And based on his comments to me on Friday, I can say that he faced a similar problem that I did. It is increasingly harder to remember what you watched in the past year. Either because there is so much television to choose from or because the scheduling for shows is so all-over-the-place that it is just hard to remember if you last watched a show in January of this year or some time before that. Everything is six- to eight-episode seasons and then they go on hiatus for an additional eighteen months.

But, I'm reasonably certain now that the shows I mention below are ones that I did, in fact, watch in 2017. And, unlike most years, I'm going to try and rank them in order of value or enjoyment or with some sort of thought given towards importance.

Okay . . . enough handwringing and marking time. Let's get on with my list of the Best Television for 2017.

#1 Legion
Dean reminded me today that Legion was actually on TV in 2017. So I HAD to edit my list to reflect this screw up on my part. I know that only seven people actually pay attention to my blog anyway, but I could not live any longer with the knowledge that I had created a top ten list that did not include the most visually dynamic show that I saw in 2017.
Legion is confusing as hell, but such an amazing entertainment experience. You MUST give it a try. And good luck understanding it if you aren't ready to be confused.
As usual, Noah Hawley is creating great TV. And Aubrey Plaza is so, SO good in her role.

Please watch it.

#2 The Young Pope
I loved this show. It was so fun to watch and so visually appealing. And Jude Law's pontiff was mysterious, very off-putting, and also sympathetic. You felt bad for the situation that he was in, but then he became so dictatorial and mean in a scene that you wanted him to fail.
I especially loved this show for its commitment to being so fe\reaking hip. Its banging soundtrack was great and a big reason for my enjoyment.

#3 Twin Peaks: The Return--Everything about this show was a gift. Completely unexpected. Extremely maddening. Often nonsensical. Very occasionally understandable. Entirely Lynchian. Never in my life would I have expected another opportunity to visit that bizarre town in Washington. And when I did get the chance, it was exactly familiar but also full of new mystery. The last two hours of the show was amazing because I had the feeling that actual answers were about to occur and maybe a clear resolution was being given to us. And then, of course, David Lynch snatched all of that away with that bizarre ending (everything from Kyle McLaughlin and Laura Dern's wormhole (?) induced car drive, to hotel overnight, to Agent Cooper and Laura Palmer's visit to the Palmer home. What an experience!

#4 You're the Worst--This was the show's penultimate season. And while it did not have the subversive drive of season 1 (which I still believe is the show's best total season) the mix-and-match nature of the character pairings in this last grouping of shows was a fun change of pace. Jimmy, Gretchen, Edgar, and Lyndsay are characters that remain engaging and are still fun to watch--even if they try really hard not to care at all. And Lyndsay's evolution and (gasp?) maturation this season is my most surprising thing.

#5 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency--This show was almost as bizarre as Twin Peaks. Which you might expect when you know that it comes from the mind of Douglas Adams. I've found that I am a fan of Elijah Wood's various television efforts. I appreciate that he goes for really funky shows and this one is definitely one of them. The plot--such as it was in season 1 and is now is season 2--is hard to explain and maybe not something you are prepared to accept. But if you want to watch television that is different, you could do much, much worse than a show like this one.

#6 Stranger Things 2--I really enjoyed the sophomore effort of this Netflix juggernaut. And I even enjoyed the polarizing seventh episode that focused on Eleven's journey into Jane's past and her dalliance with her mind-sister Eight. (As long as Eleven and Mike got to kiss at the end, I simply didn't care the journey that got them there. I'm a romantic.)
And I'll ride all day for the wonderful pairing of Steven Harrington and Dustin. It'll almost let me forget how narrowminded Dustin was when he ignored his friends' warnings about Dart.

#7 The Good Place, season 2--It's not going to get better than season one's big twist reveal. But the show is still very good and I like how they are trying to keep injecting creativity into the story.

#9 Search Party, season 2--I should rank this show higher because season two is light-years more interesting and fun to watch than season one. But I guess I'm demoting it because no one has ever heard of it. (I guess I'm not a Moneyball type of guy.)


#9 The Tick--Unfortunately this is only available on Amazon Prime. But it is everything you would expect from the show. Is it better than the original TV version (featuring Nestor Carbonell and Patrick Warburton)? Probably not. Is it better than the original animated version? Definitely not. Does that matter as long as there is a version of The Tick to be enjoyed? Definitely not.

#10 Riverdale season 2--Really I am -hate watching this show to stay connected to my older children. But it is so bizarre. And this is the only show this calendar year that made me laugh out loud (this week when I watched that trainwreck of a "Mad World" karaoke scene). 

Come at me with your opinions!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Conference Championship Week

NOTE: I am posting this painting here specifically because Sarah allowed Lynda to put it on Facebook. Otherwise, I would not have publicized it.

Today is Championship Week in college football. This signals at once that the football season is coming to an end while also saying that the real work is still very much ahead. All of the ups and downs of the regular season were pointed to (hopefully) getting to this point. But not everyone will experience this week and even fewer will advance beyond this with a victory to move into the playoff games ahead.

And here is where my discussion of college football stops--because this post is supposed to be diverting you from college football to something else. But my subject for today is related to this experience of working toward a goal and projecting forward towards an unknown future.

I speak--of course--about the college application experience. And since I am featuring one of Sarah's paintings above (and since she is the oldest and the one who will be trying for college first, you know that I am talking about the experience I have had as she goes through her efforts to apply to art schools.

And the first thing you need to know is that it is not finished. And that is relevant to my own struggles within the last few weeks, as I have tried to get straight in my own head the various deadlines and requirements for each individual school. You see, I thought that she was facing a hard deadline of December 1 (yesterday) for submission of paperwork, essays, transcripts, and most crucial for art schools, a collection of artwork (the portfolio) that is the bedrock of the school's evaluation of her application. And, heading into Thanksgiving week, that seems very unlikely and I was stressed out beyond belief.

But . . . I have learned that my stress was misplaced. You could get full applications in by December 1, but it was not a necessity. Scholarships for Fall 2018 would be available a few months after the Christmas holidays and all was not, in fact, lost. So, I have taken a breath and held onto hope.

Going through this has been stressful, no matter what the deadline, because Sarah has been working to find her artistic voice throughout this process and she is doing it on her own (and not my) schedule. She will get what she needs to have done when it is required--that I very much believe. But I have had to accept the fact that she is doing it her way and decidedly NOT my way. But I have to acknowledge that everything about what she is doing is hers and not mine--and not for the obvious reason you may be thinking.

Sarah is an artist. And to be an artist involves bravery and skill that I simply do not have. She is making pieces and expressing parts of herself in ways that I definitely could not do when I was seventeen. And she is embarking on a college journey that I am frightened of and also full of admiration for. She is taking a challenging road, but she is committed to accomplishing something unique. She is defining her world and her life on her own terms. And isn't that all Lynda and I have been trying to teach her to do anyway?

Plus . . . and I think this bears saying, even though I am decidedly unobjective about it . . . she is talented.And she can DO this. I believe it! I hope for it. I want it to happen.

And it may not happen in the way that I would try it. And the accomplishment of it may be unpredictable and as yet unclear. But I believe in her.

So . . . I guess that is it for this week.

If your team is in a conference championship game today--I hope you find out the results on the internet before you go to sleep tonight and don't spend your time watching it on the television. There are only a few more Counter-Programming posts remaining this season, so let's make them count.

Thanks for stopping by.