Monday, September 26, 2011

My Name Is . . .

I was looking up the movie version of The Chosen, based on the book by Chaim Potok (a book that allowed me to forgive John Knowles for A Separate Peace).  I liked this cover with its baseball scene showing that the opening of the movie would probably match the book.  It reminded me of this old post, and I found myself wondering if anyone made a movie of my favorite Potok book: My Name Is Asher Lev.

It seems no such movie exists, and I find that I am glad.  I might love it as a miniseries or even a really good stage play, but I don't think I could love a movie version of Asher Lev. I'm not entirely sure why.

Anyway, in my search, I discovered a link to a thought-provoking essay about Potok, Asher, and art that I thought I'd pass on to you since art is probably important to you. 

One of my favorite quotes:

"Where their concept of holiness is too narrow to include the world of art, Kahn’s concept of art is too narrow to include the world of holiness."

Sounds regrettably about right . . .  It's most likely something all Christ followers who are makers of art wrestle with.  Why is that?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Did he just say that? Seriously?

Have you ever met someone who made you wonder, "Why did he say that?" every time he opens his mouth?  Someone you want to present with a shovel because every sentence is just digging him in deeper?

It's torturous. There's really no way to tell him what he is doing to himself, but you feel bad just walking away in the middle of his talking even though you know he's not trying to actually communicate and is just babbling because there are people trapped in chairs around him during this getting-to-know-you time.

He holds the entire table captive, making everyone uncomfortable with tales of all his past girlfriends who dumped him and married the next person they dated, which seems quite reasonable the more he talks because anyone would seem like a prince after him. He complains about being invited to the weddings and the ones he's still acquainted with and how much he loathes their children (he refers to them as "disgusting little rats").  He composes crass poetry and uses foul language liberally.

He is genuinely oblivious to the fact that every minute his mouth is moving is making the people around him dislike and eventually hate him even more. It's horrifying and fascinating at the same time . . .

Even Allie can't seem to figure out a way out of this kind of awkward conversation . . .

Sunday, September 18, 2011

HPDH2: bb

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.


Would have been even better if the scene where Harry is with Dumbledore in white place hadn't had a lawnmower going right outside the theater door.  Don't add your own soundtrack, indeed.

Me and the retirees all sitting in the theater, watching Harry Potter.  Maybe I should accept AARP's offer to join . . .  Or that single seniors dating email I keep getting for some reason.

Why did we choose 19 years for the epilogue?  I was kind of hoping to see Remus and Tonks' kid, but that would have been impossible with 19 years . . .

Oh, Snape.  You were amazing to the end.  And where did they find that little boy with the dead eyes to play you?  Holy cow!

The battle scenes were edited and put together perfectly.  Expansive enough to make you cry but not too drawn out.

So this was kind of amazing, even if I was a bit lost after all those months in between.  There were only a handful of scenes where I had to shake my head and say, "Why did we keep that bit?"  It was definitely not faithful to the letter of the book, but I think it was pretty faithful to the spirit of the book.  I'm lucky I don't really have to decide because it's been years since I read the book, so it's pretty hazy, which is just fine because it left me more time to admire this concluding movie.  Bravo!

I'm looking forward to a marathon some day.  Easier with the movies than the books these days . . .

Did you see it?  Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sad Songs of Hope

Once upon a time, a man's 5-year-old daughter died in an accident.  He was a singer and songwriter, so he wrote and sang songs as he continued to outlive his child and try to make sense of a world where such a thing could happen.

That's the kind of tragic story I'd cry through.  It makes for an album that requires tissues when reading its liner notes, hearing its songs, or even thinking about its liner notes or songs.

I won't lie: this is a painful story to listen to.  But it's also a painful story worth listening to.  Like the best literature, something worthy is there in the ashes.  There's grief and so much pain, but there is hope, too.  The rawness of the grief and pain make that hope feel true, not tacked on in fake, happy ending fashion. This is hope that has been through fire and been earned.

One very thorough review by divad23 said, 'What's an artist (or a listener, for that matter) to do when the harsh reality of life conflicts with the idyllic vision of it that most "sanctified" entertainment has provided for them?'

In a comment, Reg Schofield said, "One of my favorite pastors has said its his job to prepare his flock for death and suffering so that when it happens they will not fall apart . . . "

I suspect the story contained in this album can help do the same thing.

Sometimes you'll hear a song about grief, but it has to go through the whole process in 4 minutes and somehow end happily, or it will never get on the air.  Taking an entire album, hitting many different angles and stages, bringing the story to life chapter by chapter instead of just as a summary, doesn't let us escape the rawness of the pain, grief, and questions.  It forces us to face the fact that terrible things happen to everyone and that if our hope is in something true, it will survive whatever our stories take us through.

I picked this up during the last days of Borders.  It seems somehow appropriate.  I hope some beauty will rise from the ashes of that fiasco, especially in the lives of the decent employees who invested years of their lives into their stores and communities and now how to try to pick themselves up in the wake of their sudden loss of livelihood.  My prayers are with them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

3 Jaw Chuck and Other Piracies

Ahoy, mateys!  International Talk Like a Pirate Day is nearly here!  In honor of this festive occasion, I thought I would mention this amazing piece of mechanical engineering I came across at work and have decided to steal for the name of some throwaway character in a story some day.

"Who was THAT?!"
"That's 3 Jaw Chuck.  Heart of gold, really," she shook her head and grimaced.  "Terrible luck with axes, though, has Chuck."
"Ah," he said faintly.  "Yes."  He swallowed and looked back again.  "How is he alive?"
"Bit of a miracle, really."

All writers are thieves and pirates, as one of my mentors once said.  We steal any words that aren't nailed down and sail the world in search of treasures. 

Come across any good treasure troves lately?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Absorption v. Consumption

Excerpts from a conversation I had with a fellow reader:

"I read to absorb."
"I read to consume."
"You make it sound so . . .  There has got to be more value to reading than just shoving it down your throat like roughage."
"But there's so much to read . . ."

Do you read (for pleasure) to absorb or consume?