Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I'm not sure why I did, but I watched John Carpenter's "The Fog" with Debbie & Robert last night. It relied on suspense rather than gore, which filmmakers today seem to have forgotten is a more effective way to make movies. But then again, maybe I'm the only person who doesn't want to see blood and guts spattered everywhere with the camera lovingly focused on each gory slash.
The movie started out with an emphasis on the 'witching hour', that hour between midnight and 1 AM. Though a bit later, I felt like I was moving through the witching hour when I got up early to go to work, all 4 cats (Pope John Paul the III, Burt Reynolds, Delta Burke, & Bea) moving silently through the house with me, weaving their stealthy dance around my legs and among each other.
When you're half-awake, it's a bit startling to be in the bathroom for a while, then look down to see Burt Reynolds gazing serenely up at you, curled up behind your feet, then gone the next minute I look--with nary a sound. Or to be making your way carefully through the dark living room and suddenly seeing Delta Burke's blue eyes floating in the darkness at your left (her face, being black, blended right in).
Pope and Bea aren't quite so delicate (being attention-mongers, unlike Burt or Delta, they usually make their presence wildly known), but even they would appear, then quietly disappear, at random intervals in random rooms, stalking shadows.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Well, Pope recognized me. He followed me all around the house and ignored everyone else now that I was there. It's always so strange to be acknowledged by a cat--a dog will always love you, but a cat can't be too sure.

Bear is getting old, and falls down a lot. He's not in pain, so the falls are rather comical. You just help him back up and keep on going. You can't help but feel sad, not only for losing a pet, but because it makes you think back over your own life.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I watched the most retarded show last night: The O.C. It was so retarded, you couldn't help but watch it and snicker at everything, particularly at the way it ended, with Seth's parents looking at each other with glowing smiles and saying, "This has been the best Chrismukkah ever!"
Never mind the fact that most of these kids are really almost thirty years old, or that they've been through enough problems in their early(?) years to scar them for a lifetime. They're young and beautiful, and that's what matters.

It made me wonder why I liked watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had that same kind of verbal comaraderie tossing back-and-forth between the characters, and cool kids (well--they were secretly cool because they were fighting off evil spawn and still managing to get their schoolwork donw). But that was because it made fun of itself all the time, with some libraries and vampires thrown in. I couldn't help but be charmed, much less enjoy the time I spent with Mom making fun of the show each Tuesday night.
I just found out about a new website:
This is to Evangelical Christianity as The Onion is to politics and life.

Check out the Rapture safety cards section.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Nothing has yet topped "Anacondas", the best (or should I say "worst"?) Laura & Dad movie ever. King Kong has all the elements of a movie that could possibly fail, but of course Peter Jackson is making a superb movie out of it, and it is already getting rave reviews, so that movie can't qualify. Maybe AeonFlux, which has been savaged in the critic corner...

A partial listing of Laura & Dad movies:
-Tremors (if you have not seen this laughable movie, I don't know what's wrong with you)
-Lake Placid (this almost beat out "Anacondas" on our list)
-Chronicles of Riddick (just not on par with the cult classic Pitch Black, which I will never ever watch again, but which unfortunately I can't help but remember everytime Thanksgiving rolls around, since that is the night I watched it first with Dad and Ben. Try enjoying your turkey while thinking of those hideous creatures).
-Battlefield Earth (so pathetic, I don't know what to say about it)
In a single motion the river comes and goes.
At times, living beside it, we hardly notice it
as it noese calmly along within its bounds
like the family pig. But a day comes
when it swiftens, darkens, rises, flows over
its banks, spreading its mirrors out upon
the flat fields of the valley floor, and then
it is like God's love or sorrow, including
at last all that had been left out.

-Wendell Berry Sabbaths 1998 V

Friday, December 09, 2005

I went to Narnia last night. The experience was quite enjoyable. I think as a child I would have adored this movie on the same level as Star Wars (maybe I would have had a crush on Peter back then, like I did Luke Skywalker). Let me tell you, when I came home and Pope rushed down the stairs to greet me, I half-expected to hear him speak, but it was only indignant mews at being left all alone for the day.
It's a childrens' movie, made from a childrens' book, but their creatures and battle scenes are still quite gruesome (albeit bloodless). The scene with the Stone Table is chilling, even though you know what will happen the next day.
Jon told me later that he overheard some mothers discussing the movie. One said that she was seeing the movie before she let her children watch it because she wanted to know how the parallels between the book/movie and the Christian story are treated.
Why the concern? Shouldn't kids just be allowed to read the books, see the movie, without the religious metaphors being shoved down their throat? When they are ready, they will begin to see the parallels (which are metaphorical, not allegorical), but only then. Let the books be books. That is how they approached the movie: make the movie true to the books, and whether the audience sees the parallels or not is up to them.
When your children are young, they will admire the Pensieves for their courage, their kindness, their willingness to help even when all seems lost. They will like Aslan a lot because he is good, in the way that spring returning to Narnia is good, and the perpetual winter without Christmas is bad. Aslan shows his love by sacrificing himself in Edmund's stead--he thinks of others before himself. Aren't these all good lessons to take from a story?
I have nothing wrong with churches and Christian parents talking to their kids about the Christian metaphors in Narnia, but they should do so only after kids have been allowed to digest the stories for themselves, to take delight in the surface story before slowly discovering the underlying meanings. It's like hot chocolate--they'll taste the chocolate quickly, then later the warmth and sweetness will fill them through and through for a long time.
In a side note, I found this story amusing:
In response to a little boy's concern that he loved Aslan more than he did Jesus, Lewis wrote: “Tell Laurence from me, with my love, … [He] can't really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that's what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before. … I don’t think he need be bothered at all. God knows all about the way a little boy’s imagination works (He made it, after all) … .”

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The summer of the cave crickets was awful. These little buggers would pop up in the most unexpected places. Since they like the dark, they would hide out in our closets and even burrow into the folds of our clothes. Imagine pulling a pair of pants on, walking out into the living room and sitting down at ease with a novel, and all of sudden feeling your pant-leg violently vibrating. That was one the few times when I actually hollered and danced like a jitterbug.

They are as fat around as your thumb, with spidery like legs and a cricket-like head. They can jump very high, and very far. When they were on the move, we were running away and screaming like little girls. We had no idea what these things were, so we coined the term "spidickets". When something is nameless, you are truly in more fear of it.

Later we found out their true name, and weren't so creeped out. (I think we were harboring secret thoughts that these cave crickets were really the results of some genetic engineering between crickets and spiders).

However, this past summer when I accompanied Jon to his Life Adventure camp reunion, I encountered these horrible bugs again. I was walking back in the dark to our tarp, ready to crawl into my fleece blanket and call it a night. I knelt down at the edge of my sleeping pad and turned on my headlamp. There were 4 cave crickets (LARGE ones, mind you) balefully staring at me from strategic points on my pad and backpack. I froze for the longest time, seriously considering packing up and insisting that we go home right then and there. Then I decided to face my fear and flicked them off one by one and burrowed into my fleece bag, cinching the end shut until only my nose poked out (this was in the middle of summer and rather hot). I think if I had allowed it to, I would have developed a phobia against cave crickets.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Out of curiosity, I've been checking out sequels to Jane Austen's works. Why do most of them focus on risque subjects? Do they think that most Austenite readers are dying to know about marital bliss, or about the seedy side of man? I think it's just another way to disguise romance novels and get them placed in the literature section. Most women that purchase romance novels (those Sandra Brown books, or the colorful covers of muscled men and barely-clothed ladies), or check them out from the library, are shy and insecure. You can see it in their eyes.
Sometimes I wonder if the profusion of such Austen-spinoffs, with their blush-worthy stories, are signs of ladies who have bought too dearly into the Darcy dream. They forget that Pride and Prejudice is the story of a relationship between 2 people who must learn to respect each other. They forget that part of Darcy's allure comes from the power of the love that he and Elizabeth have found in each other, a love bought with time and labor. Romance novels allow readers to skip this time and labor, and dive into the flesh portion of love.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Jon and I ate at Rincon's Friday night. We were seated next to a table of guys, some with large-lensed glasses and comb-overs, others with ponytails and beer bellies. They were having a good time catching up on stories, both in their real lives and about their role playing games. Jon kept looking at me throughout the night, an amused smile lighting his face up. Later he told me what they were talking about.

They would segue effortlessly between real life and their role playing games in their conversation. He said they could be talking about something as normal as, "Yeah, I saw my parents the other night. We ate out at Bella Nottes. Then later that night my friend and I were in a cathedral fighting a werewolf. When we defeated it, my friend and his palindrome went to another plane to fight the dark lord. I didn't see him for a month..." then slide right back into real life stories, without any further explanation.

Here are some signs that I should get a Scottish Deerhound (never mind that I was going to get one regardless):

-A Scottish Deerhound named Margot won best of show in the Philadelphia Kennel Club dog show (the one aired on Thanksgiving day).

-The Bennetts owned a Scottish Deerhound in the new movie Pride and Prejudice.

Jon says they look goofy. Even though they are big, they are quite graceful and intelligent, and very devoted to their family. (So there!)

On a side note, this is the kind of dog that Jon wants to get. The Australian Cattle dog, able to survive the harsh climate of Australia. It herds cattle by snapping at their heels, and is quick enough to lay low if they should kick at it. They say that these dogs are extremely intelligent and willful, happiest when they are working. If they do not respect their owners, they can become hard to manage. Jon wants to take it along on hiking trips. I think we can let it herd our goats. :)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pride & Prejudice exceeded all expectations. They have actually made their own movie. I couldn't even compare it with the Colin Firth adaptation--not because it was better or worse, but because each movie approaches the material in different, equally successful ways.

One thing that particularly struck me about this movie was the emphasis on community, on family. The drama of courtship is carried out, for the main part, in the community, not in private (though there are private scenes, one feels that they are still a part of the community-at-large). Single men and women flirt at the ball while their older counterparts look on and encourage it. The family eavesdrops at the door when Mr. Bingley proposes. Elizabeth and Darcy verbally spar in the presence of their friends and family. What I mean by mentioning all this is that I was reminded of Pastor Pete's exhortation at my wedding on the importance of community upon a marriage, of the charge he laid upon my friends and family to uphold our marriage and do everything in their power to help us on our way. I was thinking of this as I watched the blooming of love between Elizabeth and Darcy because it seemed that the fact that their courtship (if one can call it that) took place in the middle of community made their relationship all the more powerful.