Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review: Deliver Us From Me-Ville

With admirable transparency and a readable conversational writing style, David Zimmerman examines our need for redemption in the recently published Deliver Us From Me-Ville. He takes on an entire culture of narcissism, born in the Garden and bred in every human interaction since.

Zimmerman argues that superbia (the Latin word for an inordinate sense of self-regard; pride; or self-satisfaction) is common and calamitous, a "besetting sin among all God's children, nipping at the church's heels throughout its history, and as such it must be met by the vigilance of the people of God to hold it at bay." Superbia "sounds like a place," so Zimmerman dubs it Me-Ville, and urges us to endure vulnerability and the pain of re-training in order to allow God to deliver us.

Occasionally, Zimmerman enjoys his own sense of humor a tiny bit too much, and the resulting literary quirks become a bit distracting. He opens, for example, with a story about his niece that includes the colloquialism "yo," and then he continues to "yo" us for the next several chapters.

Also, there are times when the book makes assumptions or generalizations about people that obviously ring true in the author's life and personality--and often in my own, as well--but which do not necessarily hold true for across humanity. For example, Zimmerman looks at Biblical history (the Tower of Babel) and contemporary culture (and I use the word "culture" loosely, since I'm referring to American Idol) to illustrate his point that "...becoming famous is the holy grail for people steeped in superbia." Everyone is steeped in superbia, but not everyone seeks or desires fame.

In general, however, Zimmerman illustrates our condition with an engaging combination of contemporary culture and spiritual classics. His theme is clear and straightforward: "The way out of Me-Ville is unavoidably through Jesus, who visits us, displaces, us, delivers us, and sets us within the bounds of his city, his community."

His transparency is disarming: "My greatest fear in making my writing public...[is] that an audience will read what I write and disregard it as insignificant."
This fierce desire to live a meaningful life, to produce something meaningful, or to be considered important or significant in the eyes of other people--this, not the desire for fame, is a universal human condition. It's why we start out in Me-Ville, and why we need Jesus.

Zimmerman dips into the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Merton, and Henri Nouwen, among others, to develop a modern perspective on ancient Biblical themes; he takes the words of those writers and thinkers and connects them to our contemporary dilemmas. I love this about Zimmerman's book, because in giving me a taste of great thinkers and writers of the faith, it reminds me to pick up the source materials myself for some challenging reading and deep thinking.

Each chapter includes a section called "Escape Routes," practical applications of the preceding theoretical, exegetical material. These sections include activities and questions designed to move the reader to a deeper and more personal connection with the teaching of the chapter. Zimmerman often includes scripts for what we can say to ourselves in order to get more "in the way" of Jesus, such as this:

Before you get together with a group of people, imagine it as a mission, and consecrate it with missional language such as Isaiah's cry, "Here I am, Lord, send me." Be careful not to set a missional agenda for the time together; just make the effort to consecrate the moment.

Deliver Us From Me-Ville is a solid, helpful text that has the capacity to reach you exactly where you are today, and bring you more deeply into God's kingdom here on earth.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

The night before the inauguration, I mentioned to my mom that I'd be keeping my kids home to watch the swearing in, and to do inauguration-related learning activities. I was excited about the historical significance of the event, and thrilled that my kids were involved and aware and enthusiastic about learning more.

"It's so great, Mom," I said. "I don't want them to miss a minute of it. They even seem to get that it's a historical moment!"

"Because he's our first Arab-American president?" she said.

Oh, yes she did. Of course, being me, I took the bait.

Yes, he has Arabic family connections, I said--but so what? Why is that the important thing to emphasize? Because it's the TRUTH, she said. I care about the TRUTH. Don't YOU?

But why is that important? I asked her. Because no one ever mentions it, and it's the TRUTH, she said. I pointed out that Obama has written two memoirs, in which he has very openly and clearly talked about his family heritage, and in fact, one is called Dreams From my Father--but apparently she still thinks he's trying to hide something.

It just sounds like you're being disrespectful of him, and not really appreciating what an enormously important thing this is for our country. What, she said, that we now have an ARAB-American president? He's not black, why do they always say he's black? Arabs are not black!

He has dark skin, mom, I said. It's got to be so encouraging and hopeful for people who have darker skin to actually see someone become president who looks a little more like them--maybe it makes them feel a little more included, or a little more optimistic. He's not black, she repeated. Arabs are not black. He's not African-American; he's Arab-American. Why are they trying to hide the TRUTH?

Mom, I said. Seriously? He's very clearly not an old white guy, and that's one thing that's different. Of course my mother found that remark to be disrespectful, and I apologized.

"I'm not trying to be disrespectful," I said. "I'm pointing out the obvious--that he LOOKS different, and his background is different, and to me and many other people, he also SOUNDS different." Either way, it's historic and important--why would she want to be hostile and angry about it?

And she's not the only one. Another family member sent me an email the other day saying this:

Now that your man is in, I have to rib you a bit. An AP wire reported that US military planes attacked a group of Afghans and killed 15-16. The president of Afghanistan says they were all civilians. If the republicans were as vicious, stupid and arrogant as their democrat rivals they would be printing bumper stickers reading, "Obama Lied, People Died".

I don't get it. I understand that he didn't vote for Obama, and that he would probably never vote for a Democrat. That's fine. But to smear all democrats as "vicious, stupid and arrogant" is so over-the-top that it's not even possible to return to a civil disagreement. Or am I wrong? But I cannot not take the bait--even though I did not ask for this fight, and never initiate political conversations with my family because I always end up feeling beat up.

I suggested that if the 15-16 who died were civilians, then it is not a time for ribbing, but for mourning. And I also submitted that it's ridiculous to suggest that Democrats are more vicious, stupid and arrogant than Republicans, just because of their party affiliation. Both groups are comprised of sinners, and neither side can claim moral superiority.

I'd like him to be more supportive of our new president and not, like the mascot of the Right, Rush Limbaugh, hope that he fails. But barring that, couldn't we just agree to disagree, with civility, and not make everything a black and white moral issue?
Apparently not. He firmly stands by his assertion that the Dems are hateful and vicious, and he said, "You'd really have to reach to find anything close" on the Republican side. How can you even have a civil, constructive conversation with someone who makes party affiliation a moral issue?

Don't get me wrong. I do believe in black and white moral issues. I do believe there are absolutes. But even in absolutes, there can be civility and courtesy. There can be benefit of the doubt, and peacemaking. Maybe we all need a primer on what civility looks like in operational terms:

  • avoid broad-brush, inflammatory statements
  • use clear, specific and representative examples
  • don't assume that you know what your opponent believes or agrees with. Instead, ask, and listen.
  • be aware of how you are coming across. If you become aware that you have offended, take responsibility, and rephrase. Why? Because the relationship, or the person, is more valuable than the point you are making.
  • Show restraint, respect, and consideration in your words and actions.
I want to be a peacemaker. I want more people to strive to be peacemakers in the little things as well as in the big things. We can do this, friends. Try it today: when you encounter a situation in which someone is doing or saying something that offends you, or that you think is wrong, inaccurate, or inappropriate, try to respond in a civil, peace-making way. Let me know how it goes.

Now I gotta go scream at my kids because they're making too much noise and tearing through the house.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oxtail Soup

We were sitting at the dinner table yesterday, and C. Peevie mentioned that he had the opportunity to taste the famous oxtail soup created by the many-talented dad of his classmate, G-Man.

"It was so delicious, Dad," C. Peevie said. "J. Cub was crazy for it, too." We were interested to hear more about it, because it sounds kind of exotic, and none of the rest of us had ever tried it. Later on, after the conversation had turned to a new topic, M. Peevie brought up the soup again.

"Maybe we could try to make our own coxtail soup!" she suggested, offering an amusing variation on the name, which we all repeated with much hilarity. And then C. Peevie suggested that there might be such a thing in real life as coxtail soup--or perhaps it would be spelled "cockstail" soup.

"Because," he started to point out, "Cock is another word for..."

It was like he was talking in slow motion. I was standing across the room, and my head swung around and I made eye contact with Mr. Peevie. Later he told me they were big like saucers. Really, really big saucers. I think some suspenseful music started playing, like we were in a movie. Mr. Peevie and I both stopped breathing.

"...chicken!" he finished. "A cock is a male chicken. So the soup would be made from, well, from chicken tails."

Phew. Mr. P and I started breathing again, and we all laughed at the idea of chicken-butt soup. Later I told Mr. Peevie that I thought it was totally possible that C. Peevie had done that little verbal game of chicken (pun intended) on purpose--that he knew what we'd be thinking, and that he may have even included a dramatic pause just to increase our silent panic. He can be brilliantly evil that way, like Darth Vader or Hannibal Lecter or Ann Coulter.

And in case you're interested, here's a recipe for Oxtail Soup from one of my favorite online recipe sources,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Day as a Homeschooler

Homeschooling is not my thing. It is so far from my thing that if it were a continent, it would be Antarctica.

However, some things are too important to be left up to the school to handle, among them religious education, sex education, and inauguration education. So today being the inauguration day of our 44th president, I decided to do homeschool with the littlest Peevies. (No one was sure at the Little Lutheran School That Could whether the kids would be able to watch the events on TV, and I didn't want to take the chance of them missing it.)

Meanwhile, C. Peevie's school had the whole day devoted to inauguration-related learning activities, including an oath of office activity, ballroom dancing, watching the swearing-in and inaugural speech on TV, a parade, and toasts with apple juice in plastic stemware.

So, over a leisurely breakfast of French toast, the little Peevies and I talked about U.S. government, the Constitution, the presidency, and the inauguration.

"How many branches of government do we have?" I asked.

"Four!" A. Peevie shouted.

"Five!" M. Peevie screamed. And then in an inside voice she added, "But I don't really know what that means."

Obviously I needed to tailor my material a little differently. "OK," I began again, "Here's what we have. There are three branches to our government: The legislative, which is Congress, that makes the laws; the executive, which leads the country and makes sure the laws are obeyed; and the judicial, which is the Supreme Court and all the other courts and judges that decide what the laws mean."

Two blank faces looked at me. "Um, yeah, so which branch is Mr. Obama going to be in?" I asked.

"Executive!" they both screamed. So why the blank faces? I wondered. And why does there have to be so much screaming? This homeschooling nonsense is too much work and stimulation for me. But we hadn't even gotten through breakfast, so I plodded on.

"Who knows what the Constitution is?" I asked. "And try to answer the question without screeching."

"Is it when the President gets elected?" M. Peevie ventured.

"Is it the people who go to Congress?" A. Peevie attempted.

"No, guys, nice try though," I said encouragingly. "It's the main group of laws that tells us how to run our country. And when the new president takes his oath of office, he promises to protect it and make sure we keep on following it."

"What's an oath?" M. Peevie asked. It's a promise, I told her; and then we read the oath of office together: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Then we did an inauguration vocabulary worksheet, read a brief biography of Obama, and drew a picture of Mr. Obama getting his oath on. Both of the kids' pictures included a picture of Batman administering the oath--or maybe that was supposed to be the Chief Justice in his judicial robes.

Finally, we turned on the TV in plenty of time to watch the dignitaries and former presidents being escorted to their special seats--and the kids shouted out the names of those they recognized.

"It's Joe Biden!" A. Peevie said as Bill Clinton walked onto the stage.

"And looks who's with him," M. Peevie said, "It's the girl who ran for president against Obama!" Tiny pause. "Oh, yeah, Hillary!" she remembered suddenly.

They thought Aretha's hat was amazing and a little bit hilarious. "Is she a good singer, Mom?" M. Peevie asked me.

They said Yo-Yo-Ma was way cool, because they knew him from the PBS kids' show, Arthur; and when I told them that he was probably the best cellist in the world, and certainly the best-known, they were even more impressed with Obama's clout.

We watched--me with tears in my eyes--as the oath was administered to our first brown-skinned president. Immediately afterward, A. Peevie observed, "This is a really important day for our country." We cuddled together on the couch, listening to Obama's often-pointed speech:

"...we will restore science to its rightful place..."

"...power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please..."

"...we will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people..."

"...we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist..."

and these most inspiring words
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
As he talked about where we are and what we are facing, and where we will go and how we will get there, my kids leaned up against my legs, listening intently. And when he concluded with this exhortation,
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
my kids were only just beginning to get restless. A. Peevie was actually anxious to get started on writing his essay, and M. Peevie was ready and willing to put her thoughts down on paper as well.

From A. Peevie, on the Inauguration of our 44th President:

Barack Obama is the first African-American president. This is a great time for America, because we have never had an African-American president. I think Obama will teach us great things. I also think that he will lead our country with great power and great intelligence. I think that he will fight for our country and he will help us all live better and more sufficient lives.

I liked the inauguration a lot. I think it gave a very powerful feeling to everybody there and who saw it on TV. There were a lot of people there, some were famous and some were just regular day citizens. But they were all there, people who voted for Obama and people who didn't vote for Obama, former presidents, famous musicians like Yo-Yo-Ma, and a poet.

And here's little M. Peevie's contribution:

We watched the inauguration today. The inauguration is when Obama becomes president. During the inuguration they said prayrs, they sang songs and read poems. There were millions of people on the mall and we saw a lot of famous people there. We even saw Yo-Yo-Ma playing in a band. The inauguration is very important.
And then we packed up our homeschool papers and headed off to finish up the school day in a more traditional school setting. Because as inspiring as all this was, it is also quite tiring, and mommy needed a little nappy-poo.

I do not know how real home-schoolers do it. God bless 'em.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hair Today

I got my "hair did," as our young black foster child used to say. Here's what my hairdresser chopped off, ready to be stuffed in an envelope addressed to Locks of Love, or possibly Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program:

It's 10 inches long, and thick like a horse's tail. I found myself fighting the urge to swish flies off my own back. After my hairdresser had macheted the ponytail, my head felt 20 pounds lighter. Then he spent another 40 minutes cutting and snipping and measuring and re-snipping, until I thought I'd accidentally asked him to give me the Sinead O'Connor--but, no, I actually had hair left, just barely long enough to brush my shoulder.

Then I sat for highlights, and the customer in the chair next to me admired my thick, blunt-cut locks. Now if only my chins could stop trying to take over my neck and chest, I'd be all hot and smokin', at least from the shoulders on up.

I've been going to the same hairdresser for about 17 years. I've had my hair long, medium-length, butch, permed, straight-ironed, naturally wavy, layered, bobbed, and highlighted. I've had the Farrah Fawcett, the Katie Couric, the Jennifer Aniston, the Beyonce, the Matt LeBlanc, and the cute young professor on

And now, here's what my New Hair looks like:

I am fully aware that I am not the most photogenic person in the world, and I tried my hardest to take a picture that would not frighten off Green Room readers left and right. Mr. Peevie walked in on me while I was flirting with the camera, looking back over my shoulder and flipping my flippy new do like America's Next Top Loser. He just looked at me.

"What?" I said, a trifle defensively. "I'm just trying to take a cute picture of my new hairdo, but I'm not the most photogenic person in the world."

"Ah," he said, and then he added helpfully, "Do you want me to take the photograph from the back?"

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, wins the prize for The. Most. Awesome. Inadvertent. Insult.

There was a giant pause while I tried in vain to remember why I married this man.

"Yes," I said. "Please do. Please take a photo of the back of my head. And be sure to not get any of my hideous face in the shot. Yes, yes, great idea. Just the back. Thanks."

Whatever. I totally feel like a new woman, ready to take on the world with my flippy new 'do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

24: All the sugar, twice the caffeine

If you're wondering what to think about the first four hours of 24: Season Seven, you've come to the right place. Here are my observations:

Hour One: Jack looks good in a suit. He seems to have a little bit of an attitude problem, and he still does not understand the concept of "above the law," even when questioned about it directly. "I adapted," he said to the Senate investigation dude, rationalizing his various choices outside of the bounds of that annoying Geneva Convention.

(In an interesting connection to real life in today's news, a senior Bush official officially admitted that the U.S. had tortured a 9-11 suspect held at Guantanamo. For those of you who desire further reading on the definition, nature, and ethics of torture, here's a four-part article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

I like the befreckled Agent Renee Walker, AKA Agent Freckles. She's cute and tough. Kiefer seems to like her, too, even though he usually doesn't go for those Type A beyotches. It doesn't take long for him to double-cross her, though.

Walker's jefe, Boss Moss (tm
Television Without Pity, AKA TWOP) appears far too twitchy and sneaky-looking to actually be a bad guy.

I've come up with a new drinking game: DRINK! every time Kiefer tells someone he's working with that they're making a mistake to handle things one way, but that they should do it his way (i.e., off-book, dark, sneaky-like, or illegally) instead. The first time happened about 45 minutes into episode one.

Hour Two
: JoMama and I decided that it would be too difficult to orchestrate the collision of two specific planes on intersecting runways the way EvilTony did, thus blowing the credibility of the entire show. Because all that other stuff is completely believable.

M. Giant, the
24 recapper at TWOP agrees with JoMama and me, of course:
...not to belittle the vital work that air traffic controllers do, but I would almost think it would be harder to purposely crash one plane into a specific other plane than to keep them apart. Wouldn't Tony and Masters have been more likely to have put GSA 117 into the path of another plane on approach if they didn't know what they were doing?

DRINK! About 27 minutes into hour two, Jack tells Agent Freckles she'd be making a mistake to call in another agent to follow the bad guy they just spotted because of his tan workboots. She agrees, grabs car keys, and inexplicably tosses them to Jack. Why wouldn't she keep control and let him ride shotgun?

There are a bunch of characters showing up from 24: Redemption that I only vaguely remember. Like Colonel Dubaku from Sangala, for example. Wasn't he supposed to have been blown up when Jack's friend Robert Carlyle stepped on a land mine right next to him? Didn't he even get facial scar out of that? And that reminds me: when is this day taking place? Did we get a placeholder shot of the timeframe?

I like the Janean Garofalo character, Janis: she brings the funny without too much personality chafing. I'm looking forward to watching her and Chloe have a geek-off. Meanwhile, Janis does the triangulation thang to locate Jack and Freckles.

Best sexual non-sexual line of the night: Agent Freckles telling Kiefer, "I'll engage him. Cover my flank." I loved how Kiefer gets a little turned on by this, but at the same time, he's not sure if he wants the girl on top. He allows for it, because Freckles is very convincing. They kill the extraneous bad guys, and after a fierce tussle, Jack shoves EvilTony up against a wall, his arm against ET's neck, and they kiss.

Oh, no they don't. But don't tell me they didn't want to.

Stay tuned for Hour Three and Four. And please, let me know what you thought? Are you totally back on board the 24 train? Are you optimistic that the writers are taking their time to set up a story arc that won't collapse under its own weight?

Friday, January 9, 2009

My New Favorite Thing: DIYMP

I've come across several mentions of Do It Yourself Microwave Popcorn (DIYMP) on The Internets, and I became intrigued. So I compared recipes, experimented, tasted, conducted taste tests with my kids; and here, for your snacking pleasure, are the results.

All you need is a bag of popcorn (about $1.50), brown paper bag (standard size, about $1 for 100), salt or popcorn salt, and butter. Don't even sit there pretending that you don't put butter on your popcorn, because you know you do. You probably even put extra butter on your already-buttered pre-packaged microwave popcorn, don't you?

Oh, wait a minute. That might have been me, projecting a tiny bit.

Some prophets of DIYMP say you need to add 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or olive oil to the bag before popping, but I've done it both ways, and frankly, you don't need it. Save the calories and add more butter later instead. Here's what you do:
  1. Put enough popcorn into the brown paper bag to cover the bottom with one layer--about 1/4 cup. If you're adding oil, do it now, and shake the bag to coat the kernels.
  2. Fold the bag over at the top. Some folks suggest using a staple to hold the bag closed--and I used tape a couple of times--but you don't really need to. The bag will stay shut during popping.
  3. Pop the bag into the microwave oven, either on its side, or standing up--however it fits better. Set the microwave to cook on high for 2-3 minutes--but don't walk away. Depending on the wattage of your oven, the popcorn should take about 2 minutes or less. Mine takes a minute and a half. Press stop when the pops are two or three seconds apart.
Voila! You have about six cups of hot, fresh, delicious popcorn. Each cup offers 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, a trace of fat (until you add the butter), and 31 calories.

Melt your butter (about three or four teaspoons) and drizzle it on. At this point, your risk of dying of a heart attack goes way up--but so does your buttery snackalicious enjoyment. As an added bonus, DIYMP eliminates your risk of contracting popcorn lung, which is not as fun as it sounds.

(Thanks to for the photo.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Monument to Ego

Mr. Peevie recently brought this to my attention: Roland Burris' headstone, a monument to an enormous ego.

On the right side, Mr. Burris has listed his Major Accomplishments, and on the left, hilariously, his Other Major Accomplishments. (I borrowed the photo from the blog The Crypt, which offers commentary on breaking news in Capitol Hill.)

Two additional, carbon-based monuments to his own Goliath ego: Roland Burris' two children are named Roland and Rolanda. Seriously. He even uses the Royal We to refer to Himself. Mmmmmkay.

Roland Burris, like most of us, wants to know that his life had meaning and significance. That he wasn't just another blip on the timeline of humanity--but that his existence added value, so to speak. I get that; I really do. Sometimes, when I'm wiping the smell of pee from my bathroom floor (why can't those boys aim better?!), I wonder about the meaning of life, and in particular, the significance and value of my own life. When I'm folding underwear, or scraping crusty batches of nature from various surfaces in my house, I wonder what people will say at my funeral.

"She was a lousy housekeeper, but she sure had a good throwing arm."

"She really didn't have much of an edit function in her brain, but she was mostly not a horrible person."

"She sure did watch a lot of television."

But anyway, to get back on point, Mr. Burris has written the script, basically, for his eulogy, and had it engraved on his stone crypt, which he sensitively endowed with a comfortable bench for those of you who would like to rest in the shade while you visit with the Spirit of the Trailblazer and ponder his Major Accomplishments and his Other Major Accomplishments.


Does he really not understand that by accepting this contaminated appointment from our legally plagued, morally ambiguous, allegedly sociopathic governor that he is causing his own reputation to depreciate rather than to appreciate?

Or is he so blinded by his own ambition that his brain keeps blocking out messages about integrity, process, and character, and the only ones getting through are the ones that say, "Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. I'm getting this title because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

Not that he'd use language like that. He's not the governor, after all. He's a church-going man, causing some of the rest of us church-going folks to wince mightily. Burris even boldly, if not sacrilegiously asserted that his Senate appointment was ordained by the Big Guy.

I'm sure Mr. B has his headstone engraver on speed dial.

Meanwhile, my brother Deedee, who lives in Argentina, accurately and a tad meanly pointed out that Illinois is a lot like a third world country, with its political scandal and pervasive corruption. It's nice to know that our state is the source of so much entertainment to the rest of the country, even the world.

Step away from the Senate seat, Mr. Burris. Drop the weapons (supporters who play the race card, blind ambition, ethical ambiguity), and step slowly away. There you go. Now you can salvage what's left of your reputation.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 in Review

OK, you guys. Here goes: my 2008 Top Nine Miscellany (but don't expect it to be as comprehensive and hilarious as Dave Barry's 2008 wrap-up):

9. What I missed most: Season 7 of 24. Cancelled because of the writers' strike. Let's hope an extra year gave the writing team for 24 enough time to come up with a story arc that outperforms Season 6--or gave the producers enough time to hire writers with some new ideas that don't involve cougars. It shouldn't be hard, since season 6 completely jumped the shark.

8. Biggest "yay" moment: This one's easy. Election night 2008. I know that many Green Room readers were not infected with Obama fever, and that's OK. But seriously. Was that night not totally excellent? Even John McCain's thoughtful, touching concession speech, with its tone of reconciliation and honesty, added to the overall touchy-feely-ness of the evening.

[Too much champagne...must finish the list tomorrow...]

7. I only read about 18 books in 2008*, but several of them deserve to be mentioned here:

a) Empire Falls by Richard Russo, reviewed here.

b) Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl--a book that will make you hungry and make you laugh.

c) Infidel by Aayan Hirsi Ali, reviewed here.

d) The Translator: A tribesman's memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari. From my review on LibraryThing: "...[the events are] real, and frightening, and sad, and inspiring. And the author, Daoud Hari, writes with a sweet, matter-of-fact style, and never overplays his emotional hand, even when the subject matter is deeply, compellingly emotional."

(*You can check out the entire 2008 list on my LibraryThing catalog by searching for books with the 2008 tag.)

6. Best new recipe that I tried: BBQ pulled pork with apple chutney. Holy tangy tastebuds, Batman! This meal has earned a spot in the regular rotation at the Peevie domicile.

5. Top thing I learned about myself: I am consumed by guilt. "You can't say more than two or three sentences without dumping on yourself for something you did that you shouldn't have, or something you didn't do that you should have done," my therapist told me. I'm sure this will be a topic for a future blog post.

4. My best accomplishment of 2008: Hmmmm. Still thinking about this one. My accomplishments are mostly prosaic and quotidian, like getting the basement cleaned up or getting rid of a nasty carpenter ant infestation.

3. Funniest TV moment: Equal opportunity photo finish between two brilliant SNL moments--Tina Fey as Sarah Palin (all of the sketches) and Ben Affleck's hilarious over-the-top Keith Olbermann.

2. Most meaningful spiritual truth learned: I am the Avon Lady.

1. My favorite post of the year: Stinky and the Giant Poo. (Those with delicate sensibilities might want to avoid this one.)

What were your top moments in 2008? What books did you read? What was your "aha" moment?

Thanks for tuning in to the Green Room in 2008. Here's to a New Year of contentment, self-awareness, and lots of great television!