Monday, December 31, 2007

Entertainment over the break

Biggest disappointment: The Golden Compass

As my son said to me about half way through, "it feels like the movie is on fast-forward"--exactly! My critique is NOT that it wasn't as good as the book, a comparison I rarely find useful, but rather that the pacing and characterization were terrible. And it's not that the movie cut or changed too many things from the book (there were changes and deletions as there always are) but that they needed more deletions in order to slow things up a bit OR, and maybe this was out of the director's control (I heard he quit the film once), it needed to be a 3 hour film. A wonderful opportunity to broaden the audience of this brilliant trilogy forever lost.

Best find by oldest son: The Red Green show: Stuffed and Mounted 1 on DVD

The whole family, especially the oldest son, have really enjoyed this. A Canadian show that clearly demonstrates that money and Hollywood are overrated. I get such a kick out of the handyman skits where Red often starts with hardcore tools but ends up slapping on duct tap.

Most fun at the theatre: I am legend

Will Smith does an amazing job balancing sheer terror and loneliness with humor. Many great scenes: hunting deer in the city, chasing his dog into the warehouse--gawdam that scared me! and reeling in a "vampire."

Best movie preparation for book club: Branah's Henry V

Branah is simply amazing in this film and has a long list of interesting projects. And thank God for his Shakespeare adaptations which helped me understand how to read Shakespeare as an ungrad.

Best way to experience x-mas eve: It's a wonderful life

I know, no big surprise here but something is special about a movie which presents a view on life I disagree with (that if we were not here people would be vastly different because of it), has much silliness like Zuzu's petals and "every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings," and yet causes me to cry each time, no matter I've seen it 20 times, when the town rallies to save the fallen Jimmy Stewart.

Best old TV series on DVD: Northern Exposure (we are in season 5)

Humorous quirky characters yet serious, philosophical, and intertextual--I couldn't ask for much more.

Best adaptation of a book: Atonement

This experience helped me recover from my exasperation with the GC--for me easily one of the best adaptations of a book. The pacing was right on and the performances from Keira Knightley and James McAvoy were brilliant. I was nervous they would flub up the sexual tension (the fountain, letter, and library scene) but they didn't. I was totally sold by Knightley's confident demeanor as she strips down and plunges into the fountain for the broken porcelain and the letter scene is perfect, the "word" never uttered only seen, the typewriter keys haunting us throughout the rest of the film. And, I knew I'd seen and liked McAvoy but didn't remember the film till I IMBD'd him: Dr. Kerrigan in The last king of Scotland. Two very interesting roles for him; I'm excited to see what he does next.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tales of first grader


So I've been living for almost seven years?


That's a really really long time, right?


UNO marathon when son stayed home from school sick: son 16 games won, dad 21 games won. Dad imagines son will tire of UNO at some point but dad is very mistaken:

Are you tired of UNO yet?

No dad. I'm doing a pattern like my teacher said. I watch tv, then play Leapster, then play UNO with you. And do it all over again.


My guy is hurting.

Your what is hurting?

My guy! See (pointing to crotch). He's having a bad day.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Re-creation

Yesterday I finished the third, and final, book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. With 20 pages left to go I began to sniffle, with 10 a tear of two, with a page full on weeping. I cried for the loss Lyra and Will accepted. Lyra, the brave little 12 year old girl who left her world to save the universe, the Eve figure, the center of the retelling of the creation story; Will the uncared for boy who takes up the tool which can sever worlds. Of course the broad strokes are familiar: a grand journey filled with truth devices like the Althiometer and knives that cut into worlds, where children matter and understand something adults do not. But the details were breathtaking at times: Will's battle for the “subtle knife,” “god’s” thrown in heaven, animals who travel on wheels, brave male angels in love, and the grand reconstruction of the fall.

What got me the most, brought on the weeping, was the ending: “The Kingdom of Heaven, it was all finished. We shouldn’t live as if it mattered more than this life in this world, because where we are is always the most important place.” While a poignant idea, the tears were tears of reader response. My own life journey has just come around to this very conclusion. Finishing I saw clearly the simplicity of what I’m working for in life--the brevity, the moment, the words spoken about me by others’ lips. These are the only Celestial Kingdom I hope for.

Having enough of weeping, I pet the cat and then got ready for bed. Snuggling up close to my already sleeping wife, I thought about the very short time I would have to spend with her and each of my children, children who, as a good friend once said, will never love me as much as I love them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Ass Woman

I'm having stomach/ gastro tract issues again even though I've cut alcohol, all caffeine, and now chocolate. So I sought out a different doc and was referred to Dr. Holly _____. Yeah, Holly. I know I know I'm not supposed to care about this (it's just a social construction of gender based on power), but look I've never had a female doc (my lived experience!) and as you might guess a female gastro doc is worse--I mean it's the ass MAN not ass woman! But that's ok she came highly recommended and I really feel I need a second opinion. I Google her name to find out the phone number, hoping she is bland looking, maternal, even mean (I know, further social constructions of beauty, etc). But No luck!

I am man, hear me whimper!

Friday, December 07, 2007

387148 KB of Email

In the past I would get a warning about my email size a couple times a semester which would then force me to check out and delete emails from one of my listservs and/or go through my sent file. But over the last year or so it seemed the size limit was unexceedable. Well, I've found out there is indeed a limit--I got a warning at 387178 KB.

Of course I have no idea how much that really is. I do know that I have 1500 emails in my sent box, about a 1000 in my Inbox, close to 4,000 (I am just relishing Middlebrow's, the deleter of all deleters, outrage at all this) in my WPA listserv folder, and almost 2,000 in my children's lit listserv. And of course, several 100 emails that I've saved in all manner of categories (cycling, E-Portfolios--there's even one from MB, Faigley pilot, Friends, Multimodal literacies, OED--I'm unsure what's in there, personal, Trips etc.)

Technology is certainly not simplifying my life but it is allowing for redundancy which for me, a person who could forget his coat in a snow storm, is a pretty good thing. Unfortunately redundancy systems unchecked can than create a whole other level of forgetfulness and chaos. Ultimately, I believe technology makes me a better worker and person as it allows me to remember all kinds of details I wouldn't be able to get my fingers on (like responding to an adjunct a semester after visiting their class by rereading our email exchange) but as the numbers show the total build up of stuff threatens to tip over the entire project.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Golden Compass to 1 Nephi 13 in 5.6 seconds

I meant to write long post about the censorship of the new movie, The Golden Compass, based on Phillip Pullman's spectacular trilogy, His Dark Materials, but I never got around to it. In fact I meant to throw out a post and then revise it and send it in as a letter to the editor. Turns out "my" Mormon stake president found it his duty to have each ward call a special meeting in order to denounce the upcoming movie. I did not attend but heard about it from neighbors who readily admitted that only one person in the group, and it wasn't the stake president, had actually read the books.

It infuriated me because I realized with one fell swoop this myopic stake pres. could wipe out hours and hours of work we had just done in my children's lit class where we read the first book and several articles about the censorship debate--all that thinking, for some young mormon women, would be erased in a flash at such a pronouncement. Anyway, I never wrote that rebuttal, nor put the imagined huge Golden Compass poster in my yard, nor asked for a meeting with said stake president.

But I did get thinking, as I've read several articles about the movie, that mormons really should embrace this film as it takes up an old mormon practice that I participated in while serving a mission in Spain: bashing on Catholics. I mean come on, the mormons have a long-standing tradition of equating the Catholic church with the great and abominable church in 1 Nephi 13. And earlier mormon prophets kicked up the criticism a notch or two:

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the "whore of Babylon" whom the Lord denounces..."
- The Seer, Vol.2, No.4, p.255

"The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church is the great corrupt ecclesiastic power, represented by great Babylon which has made all nations drunk with her wickedness, and she must fall, after she has been warned with the sound of the everlasting gospel.
- Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p.84 - p.85

So, I'm thinking mormons should be all over this film: "We told you the Catholic church was evil." And what better face of evil for Catholics than the diabolically cunning face of Nicole Kidman?? If I were a believing mormon, I'd be sending checks into Pullman, buying up movie tickets, and getting the B of M language out there:

"Yes, this movie may be a bit hard on believers but it is spot on when referring to the abominations of all religions."
"Did you say abominations? Does it say that in the film?"
"Yes, I did. Not in so many words but basically that's the message. If you want a more clear criticism let me show you an ancient book of revelations from the Americas. The Book of Mormon."

This movie could help missionaries all over the world. A new cutting edge, modern version of the Golden Question, "Have you seen the Golden Compass?" That's much more in vogue than, "Do you want to read the book of mormon?" or "What do you know about the mormon church?" And then they could follow up with, "Do you know which church Nicole Kidman represented in the movie?...would you like to know another name for this church?....great abomination." And boom there are you are sittin pretty and cool talking about 1Nephi 13--modern fantasy epic to the Nephites and Lamanites in the Americas in 5.6 seconds!

What a waste of time thinking about a letter to the editor or my stake president--silly notions of interrogating assumptions and disrupting power and hegemony. What I need to do is take a meeting with someone at the MTC. I can package all this in a small pamphlet and make thousands.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Letting go of God with "Pat"

Last night I went to Julia Sweeney's (better known as Pat on SNL) amazing "Letting Go of God" with the other heretic in my book club, Spontaneous Expression. As you might imagine given my current journey into hell, the performance held me alternately between deep heartfelt laughs and poignant tears. It was particularly hilarious for all of us ex-mormons as Sweeney's spiritual journey toward atheism ironically began with the Mormon missionaries: