Sunday, March 30, 2008

The War At Home

No, not the LOCI episode. This is a very different post for me. I’ve never met the young man I’m about to tell you about. Suffice it to say, he has become a local “icon” of sorts as an entire community has banded together over the past four years to hold candlelight vigils to pray for the safe return of a young man who went to war back in November 2003.

His name was Keith Matthew “Matt” Maupin, and he was from Batavia, Ohio…about a twenty minute drive from where I live. After high school, he enrolled in the University of Cincinnati Aerospace Engineering Program, using a scholarship that he received from winning a writing competition. In 2002, he joined the Army Reserve. He was nineteen or twenty years old and had his whole life ahead of him….like so many of the 4,000 Americans (and countless others) who have given their lives in Iraq.

On April 9, 2004, Matt’s fuel convoy came under attack by insurgents near Baghdad. Without going into a lot of details, he was taken prisoner, and several days later, he appeared on a videotape broadcast on the "Al Jazeera" network…I’m sure you’ve all seen similar news broadcasts. He was a frightened kid and identified himself as “Private First Class” Keith Matthew Maupin.

Then on June 28, 2004 "Al Jazeera" reported that Matt was executed by a group, identifying itself as the "Persistent Power Against the Enemies of God and the Prophet." It never ceases to amaze me how so much wretchedness is perpetrated in the name of God, but I digress. The method of execution in the "alleged" report was a gunshot to the head and at least one news network…I cannot recall which one…showed the grainy film of…what appeared to be…a soldier, sitting on the ground, bent over with his back to the camera. He was purportedly shot in the head -- which was also shown on the I recall; I only watched it once. The U.S. Army, however, deemed the tape “inconclusive,” stating it was unclear whether the man was Maupin, or if anyone was executed at all.

So, for nearly four years, the parents, family, friends, and a community bound together through a common cause, have waited and prayed and hoped for news of this young soldier who has been “missing in action” for so long. Well, today the Army informed the Maupin family that Matt’s remains had been found. I was channel surfing and happened upon the local news conference with his parents. I just burst into tears...I don't know why. Like I said, I had never met the young man. It's just sad when the loss of another young life is confirmed, I suppose.

"Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan Frame" or...Love Never Loses Its Way a West African proverb that was used in Iraq among the troops to describe the search for Matt. The Maupin family also used that phrase as a cornerstone for their unrelenting hope that Matt would one day return home. Well, sadly, he’s coming home now.

This entry should in no way be construed as some sort of "political" statement, but I can say...unequivocally...that I hate this freakin’ war.

Matt's parents.

Matt received three promotions from the Army during the time he was listed as MIA, going from PFC to Staff Sergeant. I don't understand the logic in that. I can only imagine that was "hollow" comfort for his family.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Birthday Wishes For Val & Mary

Hallelujah!!! Will wonders never cease! My very first slideshow. I suppose it is fitting that it is in honor of Val's birthday...which is today (the 28th) ...and Mary's birthday...which is tomorrow (the 29th). Both are "Vincent Vixens" of the first order! Happy Birthday, ladies!!

Okay everyone...sing along with Bobby as he serenades our beautiful and special birthday girls...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dining With D'Onofrio

So, I’m having lunch at a local bistro a few weeks back…by myself. That’s no big deal...really. I usually carry a book, or my iPod, or a notebook to make notes for the story I’m writing. I’m pretty good at entertaining myself. And when all else fails, one can always amuse one’s self by engaging in the ever popular “people-watching.” People can be downright interesting to watch. Just ask Bobby; he likes to watch.

That day, I chose the iPod. More specifically, I selected a LOCI episode to watch while my food was being prepared. So, I’m sitting there, sipping on my diet soda, engrossed in an episode I’ve seen “at least” two dozen times when my waitress arrives with the soup I ordered. She puts down the bowl in front of me and peeks over my shoulder at my iPod and says, “Whatcha watchin’?”

Since not everyone is a LOCI fan…sad, but true… I looked up at her a little doubtfully and said, “Law & Order Criminal Intent.” And then she said, “Oh, yeah! Vincent D’Onofrio! (It is important to note that she even pronounced his name correctly.) “He’s great!” Well, now that we had discovered a mutual infatuation, we proceeded to spend the next several moments engaged in delightful conversation in which we discussed the “wonderfulness” that is Detective Robert Goren. You know…the lean, the head tilt, the folded arms, the hand gestures, the tongue flicks..all the quirky mannerisms that make Bobby so darned…well…uniquely magnificent. Needless to say, I tipped her well.

Now, there really is no “point” to this story…not that many, or any, of my stories have a point…except to say – as if you were not aware of it already – Vincent Vixens…they’re everywhere!

But then, who could not be enamored of a man who looks like this…

Thursday, March 20, 2008

100th Post

When I first started contemplating my 100th post a couple of weeks back, I knew it would have to be about Bobby, so I thought I would commemorate the occasion with a grouping of pictures from “Slither,” which just happens to be the 100th Law & Order CI episode that aired in Season 5. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Val posted a bunch of pictures from that episode this week on her blog, so I had to back up and punt…to use an old football expression…and rethink my options.

Then I decided to check to see what the 100th “Bobby” episode was and that turned out to be “Cruise To Nowhere.” As I recall, Eliza did a lovely collage on this one a few days ago, but since I had already screen capped and cropped both episodes until my fingers were cramping and misshapen, I decided to go with both episodes. Like…can one ever have TOO much Bobby? Methinks not!

So, for my viewing pleasure…and yours…I give you: “Cruise To Nowhere.”

And now...the 100th LOCI episode: "Slither"