The 4th of July weekend went pretty well. Saw the parents, hung out with friends, and had a pretty good band practice.
The Mono Ensemble was really clipping along last night. Our practice schedule has been a bit spotty lately, with people being out of town or busy or whatnot, so we hadn't played in a little while. It was really good to get back together and play with the band. Sometimes I underestimate our abilities, I think (probably because I just get so used to hearing us play), but having taken a step away for awhile and then coming back, I get a renewed appreciation for playing with the band. I mean, I've been playing some guitar by myself lately, but the difference between playing by myself versus playing with the Mono E is like the difference between driving a moped versus driving a sports car. There's just so much more power involved when we're playing as a band (well, our guitar amps alone, a Marshall, a Vox, and a Fender, respectively, are enough to shake the walls on my little house, and when you add the drums and the bass you're sure to be able to hear our practices from a block away).
Anyway, practice was fun. We haven't been out of the loop long enough to forget the songs, but we've been on break long enough that they felt a little more fresh when we played them last night.
What else? Friday night I watched fireworks with the family unit down at the Hyatt on Town Lake (no, I'm not going to start calling it Ladybird Lake- it's Town Lake, darn it). The fireworks were nice, and it was a beautiful summer night here in the ATX.
Saturday night I went to a party at Heather Shaw's house. There was music, food, drinks, and even some dancing (which I did not take part in). Thanks for inviting me, Heather!
Somewhere in there I went and saw Wanted. It was..... okay. Had some cool action sequences and a few sort of interesting ideas (e.g., the loom of fate), but it also had some pretty dumb dialogue, a kind of cliched plotline (Star Wars meets The Matrix), and some "plot twists" that seemed pretty obvious from the opening scenes in the movie. Also, we're once again asked to believe that an anorexic Angelina Jolie is some kind of world class martial artist/assassin badass who can beat the crap out of people three times her size. In reality, when I watch her on screen, she's so skinny that I'm always surprised her arms don't break when she punches someone. So Wanted was sort of entertaining, but I wouldn't exactly put it in the "must see" summer movie category.
And I apparently the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, has made statements today indicating that he would like to see some sort of timetable or a "memorandum of understanding" regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Maliki's statements at this point seem sort of hesitant and appear to be aimed more at opening a line of discussion rather than making demands, but things are going to get really interesting if the democratically elected, U.S.-supported prime minister of the "new" Iraq starts getting more vocal in his insistence upon seeing a timetable for American troop withdrawals. It's going to be difficult to maintain the argument that we'rea "peacekeeping force" rather than an "occupying army" if the very government that we're claiming to assist is demanding that we leave.
It didn't really sound like Maliki had specific grievances in mind when he mentioned his request for a withdrawal timetable, other than to say that terminating the presence of foreign governments on Iraqi soil was a necessary step in restoring the full sovereignty of Iraq as a nation. Reports indicate, however, that Maliki has been pressured by political and religious leaders within Iraq, including Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, to seek a U.S. troops withdrawal.
Anyway, I wonder if McCain's position on remaining in Iraq will change at all if the Iraqi governnment starts loudly demanding that the U.S. withdraw its troops. Its hard to claim to be liberators or peacekeepers when the people you say you're protecting keep telling everyone that they want you out of their cities. Of course, if McCain thinks Maliki is asking for troop withdrawal for the wrong reasons, he may simply ignore the request, but I would bet that such a course of action will still lead to further problems for the U.S. in Iraq (it's going to get really messy if we have not only insurgents to deal with, but "legitimate" political protests to our presence as well)
Annnnyway, that's all that I have for now.
Take it easy.