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Archive for November, 2005

Somebody searched on Google for breast enhancing ringtones.

And they ended up here.

Sorry, lady.

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This is gonna be one of those posts where I bloviate about what just came up on my iTunes. All blog posts are self-indulgent to varying degrees. They are attempts to say how compassionate, ironic, detached or involved we are about big and little goings on. Blogs about songs are sometimes the worst, because they are usually long-winded attempts to say “yeah, me too” about a topic that someone else said better once upon a time. Everybody has a peculiar relationship to music. Like God and chocolate, it is one of those essential things that means something a little bit different to everyone, and holds varying degrees of importance to each of us. Like God and chocolate, you can love it or hate it, but you know it’s out there and it moves people to great heights. It also plunges people to deep lows.

I’m betting everyone has a song that strikes them as a particular ode to melancholy, if only because I have one or two and I know that I’m not all that uncommon. I’ve already said, both here and at Tangled Up In Blue that John Lennon’s Watching The Wheels is my Life Song. It’s all about deciding that it’s not that important to be “important”, whether other people get it or not. Pretty much the soundtrack for a woman who dropped off the fast track to get married, read books, write books and watch TV with a her dog in her lap. I know that I did the right thing then and that I’m doing the right thing now.

If that sounds too much like I’m trying to convince myself, it’s because the Side B of my Life 45 just spun around on the iTunes. If there is ever a song that can make you feel old, like you are a vagrant, like you fell to a low you never expected and like you’ve traded everything meaningful for cold comfort it’s this one.

Taxi by Harry Chapin. Where Lennon celebrates taking the less travelled road, Chapin drives you just far enough down the road not taken to tour your lost potential.

Well, another man might have been angry
And another man might have been hurt
But another man never would have let her go.
I stashed the bill in my shirt.

Sure, they both got what they wanted–but only in the most ghostly way. I’ve got several versions of this song, but the Live version from The Bottom Line Encore Collection is the best, most mournfully joyous of them all. Which is why I stopped in the middle of what I was doing to write about the little cigarette burns of regret it leaves on my soul.

UPDATE Oh the irony. The next song to randomly come up was actually….A Little Less Conversation by Elvis. I think even the universe thinks I’m taking it all to seriously. A little more bite and a little less bark indeed.

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My Mom just called.

My sister’s car ran off the road and wrapped around a tree.

My sister’s alive.

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Over at Tiny Cat Pants there is a discussion about political labels. Apparently the other ‘labels’ with which I self-identify are confusing to some.

Speaking of labels…
Which are you, Katherine? Baptist or Quaker? I saw you nearly converted to Catholicism as well at Sharon Cobb’s place, so I guess your multiple religions are confusing to me.

Since one person admits out loud to being confused, I’m sure there are multiple others who just don’t say anything.

So I’ll clarify.

First off…Christianity is one religion. The whole “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” thing applies, as far as I’m concerned. The denominational differences are largely about procedure. Of course I realize that the Church of Christ has a different spin on things.

Second off…I’ve never in my life been a Quaker.

I grew up Mennonite, but there are no active Mennonite churches around here, so I joined a Baptist church so that I could experience corporate worship.

Philosophically I’m still more Mennonite than Baptist, but they have the same historical roots so there isn’t much of an idealistic conflict. I’d still rather my church gave more to missionaries than it spends on internal operating costs, but that’s nothing that I can do anything about at the moment.

The whole thing about converting to Catholicsm was also when I was flirting with Liberalism. Around 19 I had a bit of a period of questioning. Not uncommon, I guess.

To draw a secular political analogy for those who don’t understand church politics, it’s like Christianity is America, but the denominations are the different political parties.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

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I LOVE My Church

I think that maybe Lacy is responsible for this.

You just have to check out our Church Homepage for the new sermon format.

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Lileks has a daughter. On his website she’s Gnat, in his Star-Tribune columns she is Child(TM). I know he’s biased, but from his anecdotes, she sounds like my dream child. Today, he linked to this story about a Chicago eatery that has committed a grievous wrong. They have posted a sign on their front door asking that children behave while eating there.

There is a war ongoing in our culture, so the article says, between the childless and the parents. I know, because I’ve been a reluctant combatent for the last 10 years. I want children but don’t have any. This means that I’m not technically Childfree, which is fine with me. I don’t see the need to refer to pregnancy as “Baby Rabies” or disparage every infant born as a “fleshloaf”. Those terms bespeak a deep-seated hatred springing from somewhere beyond the now.

Yet I do have scars inflicted by the “other side”. People tell me that it’s a shame I don’t have a family. As though a lack of offspring renders my marriage somehow lesser. I’ve been asked to work overtime to fill in for coworkers who have children, as though evenings spent doing adult things are more easily tabled than Gymboree classes. I’ve filled two posts while “the other girl” is out on paid maternity leave–without any extra pay for myself. And of course there’s health insurance. My spouse and I pay the same “family” coverage premium as do folks with 2,3,4 kids. That message is clear. We aren’t a family unless we need to be for subsidies’ sake. (I, however, do my best to make the insurance thing come out even, as I have a chronic illness.) Worse, though, than any of these was sitting in my old church last Christmas Eve and being told by the “pastor” that the reason we are alive is to have children, that Christmas is for and about children and that the only purpose of celebrating is to bring joy to children. My unmarried sister, gay brother, husband and I were all kinda crushed. “Merry Christmas, you sad and selfish bastards!”

These are the messages that the childless endure at every level of society. I can only truly speak for myself, but I do think that a lot of the impatience we register with other people’s children is an extension of that. We’re repeatedly reminded by society that we’re inadequate. Yet we’re expected to play by the rules. We pay property taxes to fund schools and are the first hit up for fundraisers since we have all the extra money not spent on braces and BuildABear. Miraculously, there also seems to be another set of rules. Children are both sacred and hard to manage. Forgetting that we childless didn’t spring whole from the head of Zeus, we are asked to excuse behaviour our parents never excused in us.

I never wanted to be in a war. I never wanted to be the enemy. When I was a kid I just wanted to grow up so that people would treat me with more dignity. This greener grass hasn’t been working out so well. Now I’d just like to eat my dinner and watch my movie in peace.

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Stick To It….

Twelve years ago I was hit head-on by a semi on I-40 West. I braked to miss a driver changing lines, hit a patch of black ice and spun around, ending up back to front. The driver of the semi had slowed down enough that the impact didn’t kill me. Actually, it didn’t even hurt that much, thanks to seat belts and really large boobs. God’s air bags, I like to call ’em. Anyway, since I figured this qualified as a near-death experience I decided to do something I had always wanted to do. We were broke and owed money so backpacking through Europe was out. So I taught myself to knit.
I started off small–stockinette stitch scarves that curled upon themselves like thirsty plants. There’s really not much to a scarf, other than the therapeutic forth and back of the stitches. Shame I live in Tennessee where the demand for scarves is scarce. Thankfully I was related to a lot of teachers in Indiana who had Recess Duty. Lucky them, with clunky homemade scarves. I bit off a lot to chew and decided to knit sweaters. God help the poor people who were recipients of those bulky, shapeless creations. Come to think of it, my poor sister has been the victim of a lot of knitting generosity. Knitting a sweater can be like surviving a Russian Winter, though. It’s a long hard slog to the end, which is never as warm and pleasant as you dreamed. So, I came down off the sweater kick with the most addicting knitting known to man. Socks. There is nothing more habit forming that sock knitting. Nothing like the thrill of turning the heel and binding off the toe. But now I’m back to afghans. They’re just larger scarves, really. A lot of forth and back, lost in the pattern. It’s got a certain zen. Knitting has been shown to have health benefits similar to yoga. I do swear that it calms me down, centers me and brings me a nice bit of inner peace.
Yesterday I saw someone in the NiT aggregator use the term UFO. Another knitter! I’m thrilled because through her I’m finding bunches of people who knit and blog. I don’t know what I’ll do now that I can combine knitting with writing. If my fingers don’t fall off I’ll be lucky.

Let’s just pray that my yarn addiction doesn’t rear its ugly head again.

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Nerd-Bait

The Universe’s Official Spokesperson has asked that I go find some other nerd-bait to post about. Which leaves my head spinning. You’d think that the UOS of all people would realize just how much nerd-bait is floating around out there right now, and give me some more guidance than THAT!

I know I’ve not posted much other than nerd-bait for awhile, but I’m writing for me. And it’s much safer to have an opinion about Harry Potter (unless that opinion is the extremely stupid one about Harry and Hermione falling in love) than it is to have an opinion about the Iraq war, the homeless, and whether we should say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. But, since I’m thinking about it, here–scattershot–are my opinions on various nerdly and political issues. Just to clear my head, so to speak.

Iraq
I have no idea. I can see both sides of the issue. I’m just glad that I’m not in any position of power.

Merry Christmas v. Happy Holidays
I’m kinda with Josh Tinley on this one. “Merry Christmas” is good with family and friends. But with stores, I don’t think they have the Birth of Christ on their mind. So, “Happy Holidays” is good when Wishing Big at Sears. And don’t bother telling me about how Christmas actually has it’s origins in a pagan holiday so calling it Christ’s Birthday is a joke. I took Anthro 101, TiVo the History Channel and was in Women’s Studies at Indiana University. Therefore, I know full well about the origin of most holidays. The fact remains that millions of us in the here and now DO choose December 25 as a day to honour the Christ Child. As a bitter, nasty, disfunctional old man once said “You keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine.”

Harold Ford Jr.
He annoys me. He reminds me of a villainous character in a Southern Gothic Melodrama. Cue one Spoiled Senator’s Son. His temper tantrum on the floor of the house was embarassing. And I don’t know why there are a million frat boys out there who think that having a Ford Blog is cool. Part of me thinks it would be ironically hip to get one of those NASCAR Calvin-peeing on a Ford symbol. And, just so we’re all clear–> it’s not because he’s a democrat. It’s because he doesn’t have any manners. Which is why I think the ill-mannered Calvin thing would be funny, and why I won’t do it. Cause I try to have some manners in politics.

Thanksgiving
I like it. It’s still one of my favourite Holidays.

Tirades about Materialism
Here’s the thing, as I see it. We’ve all seen the Charlie Brown Christmas special. It’s been trendy for half a century to bitch about the commercialization of Christmas. I don’t mind it. In my opinion, there are three layers of The Holiday Season. There’s the sacred layer, which includes focused corporate worship like lighting advent candles, singing Away In A Manger and reading the Christmas Story from Luke. There’s the Familial layer, which every family does in a slightly different way. It’s the foods they eat, the gifts they give and when they give them. Then there’s the Social Layer. That’s all the lights in the stores and along the city streets. That’s the Salvation Army bellringers, the special activities at Opryland and the shopping. It’s the sappy Hallmark commercials on TV. For two months a year, there is a buffet of activities from which anyone and everyone can pick and choose. We all have a fundamental need for celebration and for a break from the ordinary. The Holliday Season gives us that. Again with the Scroogery–We can all keep Christmas in our own way. I would hope that everyone can experience the joy of Christ, because that to me makes for the most fulfilling Christmas. But I begrudge no one their own personal method of celebration.

Sudoku
I know that Lacy thinks it’s addicting. And it seems like the newest Nerd-Bait out there. But something about it reminds me of Algebra Story Problems and really scares me.

Age Of Empires III
I want this game. Badly. Of course, the Mac Port won’t be ready for another eleventy months, and I don’t like to play games on Tim’s machine. So, I must deal with Patience.

Walk The Line
I’ve loved Johnny Cash for a long time. I want to see this movie. I think maybe I’ll see it on Black Friday.

Black Friday
If you want to get up at 3:00 in the morning to buy a cheap TV, be my guest. Just know that deep down in my heart I think you are absolutely crazy. But I guess if that’s the way you like to celebrate, I don’t begrudge you. (See above)

Stupid Christmas Requests
Don’t tell me all you want is world peace or some other Beauty Queen answer. I am not prepared to buy you world peace. I’ll get you scented soaps. It’s stupid to just want World Peace for Christmas. You should want world peace all year. And you know full well you won’t get it, so you’re just saying you want it to be smug and feel superior. Like “Ha! You said you wanted the Harmon/Kardon iPod Brain, and I said I wanted all the children of Africa to have the love of two parents! I’m SUCH the much better person!”

There. I’m finally off hold with the Apple Customer Support Line, so I can be done typing now.

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I was going to post this as a comment over at Jason’s Blog because I don’t want my blog to become the anti-theatre blog. But I can’t get into his comment section right now, and I still want to be able to pose my question to the Universe.

When we saw HP:GOF at the IMAX (oooh, look. I’m talking in code!) last night they had their usual announcements. The movie was sold out and they wanted us to move all the way to the center of the row. Trash should be thrown in the bins and not on the floor. But then the single oddest comment I’ve ever heard from theatre personnel:

“When we get ready to start the movie it gets very dark in here. Parents of small children, if you want to use your cellphone as a light, that’s fine. We understand and we’ll let you do that.”

If you’ve never been to the IMAX movie, you may not realize that they kick the whole thing off with a three-minute spiel about the technology of the IMAX experience. I personally think this is solely to convince you that you paid an extra $3.00 a ticket for a good reason, as most people don’t care one iota about the powerful Xenon lamps and the millions of tiny holes. They kick off this speech by having near-total darkness in the auditorium. For about 20 seconds.

All of this as a lead-in to my Question for the Universe:

If you have a child who is so frightened of a half-minute of darkness that you must light his face with a cellphone, why have you brought him to a PG-13 movie featuring moving skeletons, gravestones, skulls, snakes, dragons and death? All on a screen that is three times larger than a regular cinema screen. It would seem to follow that if Junior’s nerves are that touchy, perhaps he ought to watch the film at home when it comes out on DVD. Not only will it be lighter in your house, but he will coincidentally be at least six months closer to 13.

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No Spoilers

After a slight hiccup in plans–okay, huge hiccup (our show was sold out)–Tim and I saw the much anticipated Harry Potter film on the IMAX. As predicted, that was a great way to see it. Not only did the incredible imagery completely envelope me, but the $11.50 price tag seemed to prove daunting to all but the serious filmgoers.

Unlike with previous Potter films, I “spoiled” myself for the layout of the film ahead of time. After having read the book a round dozen times, listened to it on my iPod once and discussed every nuance in exhaustive detail, I figured I had a pretty good idea of the twists and turns of the plot. With the other three films my disappointment seemed to hinge on what was missing from the book. I spent the first viewing each time hoping for this scene or that line of dialogue, and then being thoroughly peeved. It kept me from enjoying the parts that did make it to the screen.

It’s possible my enjoyment of this film is due wholly to this experiment, but I’d like to think that more credit lies with two people in particular: Mike Newell and Patrick Doyle. This film, far more than the other three, made me feel like I was actually at Hogwarts, hanging out with the Gryffindors. In truth, the main reason I read this books repeatedly is because of the sense of environment. It’s a place I like to visit, and I enjoy the company of the people. With each of the three previous movies I strongly felt that we were watching Hollywood Brand Cliff’s Notes, with all of the action and none of the ambiance.

I had my hopes high that Mike Newell would bring a truer flavour to Goblet. He’s a master at catching the nuances of human interaction. I loved Four Weddings and a Funeral (in spite of Andie MacDowell). But the film that really intrigued me about the possibility of Newell was Mona Lisa Smile. Not much good can be said about that movie overall, but Newell’s handling of the dorm scenes made it watchable. He managed to really bring life to four characters that the script had rendered trite. Given that Hogwarts is the ultimate boarding school, I thought that the possibilities of Newell bringing Hogwarts to life were excellent. And he didn’t disappoint.

I was discussing the film with my sister (who was sidetracked by the omissions from the bookstory) and I mentioned how much I liked Patrick Doyle’s music. She: “I didn’t notice it.” Me: “Exactly”. I apologise to the vast majority of Harry Potter Nation for going public about how strongly I disliked John Williams’ score for the first three. I’m not a musician of any sort, so the best way I can describe it is that it sounded like music boxes. Very tinkly-sparkly and extremely artificial. I imagine it was to convey a sense of whimsy and wonder, yet it always struck me as too precious. The real ‘magic’ world of the British Isles is harder, darker and more seductive. Patrick Doyle’s score with it’s heavy Celtic influences seemed more like the ambient music of a Wizards’ School in the Scottish Highlands. Having a less intrusive, more organic score did a lot to pull me into the Wizarding World and keep me rooted there.

I’m really pleased with Goblet as a whole. It doesn’t approach the book, of course, but unlike the other three films I think it is a worthy companion piece for its corresponding novel.

SPOILER HERE

There were two parts I was disappointed with, primarily because I feel like they were cut solely for the sake of saving money. For movies that gross so much, it seems miserly.

1. At the Quidditch World Cup, the Weasley Group is very decidedly in the Top Box with Fudge et. al. In the film, they are relegated to the cheap seats. Not only that, we are treated to a stupid monologue from Lucius and Draco about how the Malfoys’ Top Box seats make them better people. The only reason I can think for this is the filmmakers’ desire to not spend the money on the set for the Top Box. Purple curtains and gilt chairs are much more of a pain than a wooden railing.

2. One of the most touching parts of the book is when Harry, assuming he has no family to care about his performance in the final task, is surprised by a visit from Molly and Bill Weasley. A three-minute scene with Molly and Bill was sorely needed for the texture of the movie because the jolt of jumping straight into the third task was unpleasant. In addition, the visit is crucial to the larger story arc, because this is where Fleur Delacour meets Bill. The girl uproots her life, moves to England and plays a large part in future novels, all because of this first encounter. I’m guessing it would have been too much of an expense to bring in the two additional actors. That’s a shame, because the film would have benefitted highly.

Random Questions:

–? Why is Gambon permitted to portray Dumbledore in such a distasteful way?
–? Can we replace Gambon with anyone? At this point I feel strongly that Queen Latifah would make a better Dumbledore.

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