Monday, October 24, 2005

A quick update on yesterdays post:
After browsing the web's christian film review sites, it's clear that "Signs" was a major film event amongst the godly.
My personal favorite was this, from "Christian Spotlight on the Movies:"

"...all of these tear-soaked fragments of life are thus brought together in a divine mosaic that speaks to "all things working together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purposes. See this movie, ignore the few curses, steady yourself for incessant suspense, and be edified."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Remember those "Spire" Archie comics from back in the 80's? The ones that looked exactly like real Archie comics, until the last page of the story, at which time Archie (Or Reggie or Veronica or whoever) would suddenly start reciting bible scripture while weird light rays shot out from behind their head?
I always felt really cheated by those comics. Because believe it or not, when I was about 9 years old, I liked Archie and his gang. I looked forward to seeing how they were going to deal with their problems at the end of each story. Was Moose going to pound Reggie into hamburger yet again? Was Mr. Lodge going to have a heart attack when he sees what Archies done to his car? Would Big Ethel ever get a date?
"Doesn't matter," said the Spire Archies, "cue the weird light rays and bring on the biblical quotes. Everything is allrrriiiiight."
Thats how Christianity works in general. It provides a quick, safe and easy answer for people too frightened to live in an ambiguous world. Those of us content enough (or curious enough) to live with a little ambiguity in our lives are forever defending our right to do so to these people, as if we held the less tenable position.
I started thinking about all this last night because we rented the M. Night Shyamalan film "Signs," thinking that it might be a decent two hours of sci-fi. What it turned out to be was a filmic version of those Spire Archie comics.
Mel Gibson plays a priest who has lost his faith after the death of his wife in a car accident. He lives on a farm with his brother and his two children. Alien crop circles begin to appear, on the farm and all over the world. Fearing that this is the beginning of a full scale invasion, secondary characters begin to ask Mel to hear their sins, which he grudgingly obliges. When his brother expresses his belief in gods will (fate), Mel gloomily monologues for several minutes on how there is no god and we are all alone. Eerie, discordant music plays while Mel makes his speech, as if he has lost his mind or something.
But over the course of the film, Mel will gradually gain back his faith (horray!), and with it a single minded belief in God's will. With his new found faith, and a little help from his dead wife, he defeats an alien home invader that threatens to kill his son, and watches as the aliens miraculously vanish from the earth. At the close of the film, Mel's barely conscious son peers groggily up at him and asks "Did somebody save me?"
"Yes," Mel says. "I think somebody did."
Cue the weird light rays.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"David Sifry, CEO of Technorati, has published his latest State of the Blogosphere analysis. The number of blogs in the world, he reports, has now reached 19.6 million. This number has been doubling consistently every five months for the last three years, a rate of increase that shows "no signs of letup." That means that we can now predict, with considerable confidence, that in approximately three and a half years - no later than the end of the decade - every human being on earth, including infants, will be writing a blog."

-Nicholas Carr
Currently reading:

Haruki Murakami - "Kafka by the Shore"
Stan Brakhage - "Film Biographies"
Gwynn Dyer - "War, the expanded edition"

Recently finished:

Philip K. Dick - "A Scanner Darkly"
Oscar Wilde - "The Picture of Dorian Grey"
Morris Berman - "The Twilight of American Culture"
Robert Hughes - "Culture of Complaint"
Dave Eggers - "You Shall Know our Velocity"

My only thumbs down goes to the Eggers, for it's showy mid-course switcheroo, a post-modern trick of cards in which the second half of the book deconstructs the first. In a lot of ways it reminded me of the second installment of Art Spiegelman's "Maus," in which Art suddenly begins pontificating on the success of his first installment, and wondering out loud if his inclusion of real dogs into the storyline "screws up" his animal metaphors.
Well yeah.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A pod of Humpbacks sighted from the kitchen window this morning, lobtailing out in the middle of the straight. The first whales we have seen since moving here, and they are massive.

Lang Creek.
The leaves are falling and the coho and pinks are making their run. Thousands of giant salmon, pouring up the river mouths, their bodies wracked by parasites, wounds and decay, their once expansive lives wittled down to a point.
Watching from the shore, you can't help rooting for certain individuals. A tiny coho, surrounded by massive humpbacked pinks, waiting it's turn to leap. An enormous defeated pink, too exhausted to make the leap required of it, slowly floundering in water too shallow for it to breathe, only inches from deeper water.
Overhead the crows, ravens, gulls and eagles are watching too, and the black bear wanders the shore in the early morning, heaving it's breakfast from the water.
The same bear that, yesterday morning, sauntered onto our property and ripped the landlord's apple tree out of the ground in search of dessert.
"Shoulda picked them apples sooner." says neighbour J.

Friday, October 07, 2005

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

-Pat Robertson, host of "The 700 Club."

More astounding revelations from Pat and friends here.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

3:15 on a Saturday Night.
The way we touch things when we are in extremely distressed states of emotional shock (after a desertion, a betrayal, a death).
We examine objects.
Whatever objects happen to be in front of us, the most commonplace things. We stare at them and run our fingers over them as if in a kind of reverie. As if we are seeing these things (and all things) as they really are, for the first time.
A strangely sedate feeling of timelessness, as if this new physical contemplation of objects might go on forever.
"...So far, we have been discussing our ignorance of the natural history of sharks. In many instances, we are not sure what they do, but when it comes to the question of why they do certain things, we are almost completely in the dark. We do not know why sharks do anything except that they breathe and eat and reproduce, for obvious reasons.
We know almost nothing about the longevity of sharks, except that our earlier guesses were wrong. They seem to live for a long time and grow very slowly.
The white shark, so often implicated in attacks on people, remains one of the least-known large animals in the world. We have no idea where it breeds, whether it is common or rare, how big it is at birth, how big it has to be before it is sexually mature, or why it has the nasty habit of biting people so that they die."

-Richard Ellis, "The Book of Sharks"

"The Book of Sharks" is the only gift I remember receiving the christmas of my 9th year. I'm sure I received other gifts, it's just that "The Book of Sharks" rendered them all instantly invisible. Published in 1975, 320 pages, it had been sitting in bookstores for 5 years before my mother could locate and purchase a used copy. It's full of bewildered, shoulder shrugging statements like the ones above. The idea that sharks are basically unknowable, that shark researchers are really half scientist-half philosopher, struck some kind of chord in me thats never stopped ringing. It's also full of photographs, paintings by the author, and incredible first hand accounts. The chapters in the book are like rooms that I've visited a thousand times.
Holding the book in my hands now, I'm amazed at how well the binding has held up. The dustjacket is long since gone, and the "hardcover" is as flexible as taffy, but the binding is solid, the pages secure. Given the 25 years of bumbling affection it's received from me, thats nothing short of miraculous.
Recieved this link from two seperate readers within minutes of each other. I'll take that as a sign that I should post it up. Thanks Chris B. and Cody S.
"How oddly situated a man is apt to find himself at the age of thirty-eight! His youth belongs to the distant past. Yet the period of memory beginning with the end of youth and extending to the present has left him not a single vivid impression. And therefore he persists in feeling that nothing more than a fragile barrier separates him from his youth. He is forever hearing with the utmost clarity the sounds of this neighboring domain, but there is no way to penetrate the barrier."

-Yukio Mishima (from Runaway Horses, 1969)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Grids and Circles.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The surprise of seeing Nate waiting alongside my mother at the airport when I am 13 years old. Nate laughing his horse faced laugh when he spots me coming through the gate (possibly the only kid at our junior high more despised than me.) My mother beaming a smile directly at me that says "See, you have friends."
Going to a dusty magic shop with Nate, the owner of which knows Nate by name. Whopee cushions, trick gum, hand buzzers and itching powder. The other room is full of porn magazines.
Nate being pushed back and forth between two kids in a second level hallway at the end of the next school day, his face red and flustered, tears building. Other kids snatching up the magic toys as they fall out of his pockets. I doing nothing.

The sudden responsibility of being chosen to help carry the stretcher of a kid who has just broken his arm playing soccer on the lower field. The kid's body writhing around on the stretcher in a tightlipped agony, like a fish in the bottom of a boat. Trying desperately to not drop my corner as we make our way up the slippery slope.
The big kid in front of me, whose name is Toby Ward, unexpectantly shaking the stretcher, pounding it up and down until the wounded kid screams. The other three stretcher bearers, myself included, all doing nothing, because Toby Ward is large and fearsome and Toby Ward wants nothing more than for one of us to challenge him in a way that can later be used as an excuse.
"Oh it hurts, it hurts." Toby Ward says in a mock little girls voice. "It hurts so much."

The daily morning bus stop game of stealing Kashta Taylor's hat and tossing it back and forth until the bus arrives. Kashta always stoicly determined to retrieve it, asking nicely, reaching out for it, like a silent Buster Keaton running right-left-right-left. At one point someone pees on it.
The hat is a red, corduroy flat cap with "Sunshine Freestyle" (the name of the local surf shop) sewn onto the front in cursive letters.
Four years later Kashta is beating the Russo brothers ruthlessly in front of a large crowd at the transit station. Two against one, and he beats them.